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April 3, 2005 - The Rhetoric of the Godly and its Consequences

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Is this the nub of the matter – people who place their faith in the formalities of constitutionalism versus those who place their literal faith in the God-revealed truths they believe are enshrined in the Declaration, truths that alone give meaning, in their eyes, to America as a political project? That about sums it up.

You see, there’s no middle ground possible once you start using the word “murder” as we see here - from Mark A. R. Kleiman, Professor of Policy Studies at the School of Public Policy and Social Research out here at UCLA –


…think of this from the perspective of the people getting their news from Fox and Rush Limbaugh. The feed-Terri forces, including Tom DeLay, have been telling their supporters loudly for two weeks that there's an innocent woman in Florida being killed by her husband and a cabal of judges.

Of course that's not the way the case looks to you and me, but imagine just for a moment that it did.

Consider a case of actual judicial murder. Imagine that some state court judge in Florida had issued what purported to be a "judicial order" under which court officers had seized someone who had accused the judge of corruption and were holding that person in a cell for "contempt of court" and refusing him food and water, hoping for him to die before he could testify against the judge.

And imagine further that the higher-court judges were all part of the same corrupt organization and had refused to interfere with the "order" of the lower court.

Wouldn't you expect the governor to send in the state troopers to rescue the victim? I would. (And if instead the judge had "ordered" the victim killed at once, and there was no time to get a higher court to overrule him, I would absolutely expect the governor to send the troopers in, and even to order them to shoot the court officers if necessary to rescue the prisoner.)

And if the governor were in on the racket, too, wouldn't you expect the President to figure out a way to get the Federal government involved, even if that meant encroaching on the sovereignty of the state? A harder question, but at the very least I'd expect to see the President protesting loudly and persistently, even if the Federal courts for some bizarre reason decided they lacked jurisdiction. I wouldn't be satisfied if he just signed a bill giving them jurisdiction and then shrugged when they refused to exercise it. And if a Congressional committee had the bright idea of issuing a subpoena for the victim and the judge as a way of effectuating a rescue, I'd expect the President to offer the Congress the use of the U.S. Marshals to enforce that subpoena.

So there's no reconciling the rhetoric of "murder" with the failure of the two Bushes to act even more forcefully than they have. What to you and me looks reckless looks, to those who think an innocent person is being starved to death by court order, intolerably weak.

The President "stood up for life" only until it became politically inconvenient. Then he backed off, not even mentioning the "murder victim" in his Easter message.

Once there is no more new news, the Schiavo affair will fade from public consciousness. But the image of the President as a straight shooter, someone who stands up for what he believes in, and someone who manages to get his way has surely suffered, and may not recover soon.

And that damage to the base comes on top of the alienation of reality-based and process conservatives and libertarians, and of whatever the incident might have done to mobilize Democrats.

Wishful thinking? Maybe. But wouldn't it be poetic justice if it worked out that way?


Well, maybe.

And Andrew Sullivan here


… It's been striking lately how the rhetoric of some conservatives has morphed into revolutionary tones. Bill Kristol, at heart an ally of religious radicalism, calls for a revolution against the independent judiciary we now have. Fox News' John Gibson has argued that "the temple of the law is not so sacrosanct that an occasional chief executive cannot flaunt it once in a while." Bill Bennett has said that the courts are not the ultimate means to interpret law and the constitution, that the people, with rights vested in the Declaration of Independence, have a right to over-turn the courts if judges violate natural law precepts such as the right to life. Beneath all this is a struggle between conservatives who place their faith in the formalities of constitutionalism and those who place their literal faith in the God-revealed truths they believe are enshrined in the Declaration, truths that alone give meaning, in their eyes, to America as a political project.


Ah, a civil war on the way – this one concerning theocracy as a model. A war for God’s rule… or man’s. I wish God told ME what he wanted.

Think I’m kidding?

In Ohio the religious right openly says their aim is to take control of the state government - “to win control of local government posts and Republican organizations" in Ohio.


In a manifesto that is being circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, which is called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year.


And the Washington Post reports this


Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

The trend has opened a new front in the nation's battle over reproductive rights, sparking an intense debate over the competing rights of pharmacists to refuse to participate in something they consider repugnant and a woman's right to get medications her doctor has prescribed. It has also triggered pitched political battles in statehouses across the nation as politicians seek to pass laws either to protect pharmacists from being penalized -- or force them to carry out their duties.


And this from the magazine Proud Parenting -


(Lansing, Michigan) Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. …


Well, something is up


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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