Monday, April 25, 2005

Past, Present and Future, Part 3

Well, you all know why we're here. Thanks again to everybody who's taken the time to add their two cents. You've made me proud of being a faith based Democrat.

The Three F's

"What now?" we ask. It's not a small question. If all the previous efforts of building up structure, of cementing a middle class, and of righting social injustices are reaching fruition or becoming moot, Democrats are at the biggest crossroads in forty, quite possibly ninety, years.

The most glaring problem with the 2004 election was the spinelessness of it all. Trying to reach out to each sub-group, with each small agenda, left us looking disorganized and unsure. You know, I HATE writing that. There are so many things I believe Democrats routinely do better, and so many facets of the country best served by Dems that it is painful to admit we don't have it together. However, nasty medicine that works is better than cherry flavored failure.

We are a party of wide reach and vision. Our problem is in articulation and delivery. In a nutshell, we need to streamline and develop more focus. Whether it's racial, gender, or mobility equality, gay and lesbian issues, education, environment or worker protection, we need to stop compartmentalizing these subsets and form a single, simple platform that can be stuck to and argued effectively. They picked us off in the fringes, folks. While they did it our base, and our country, got screwed.

I think we can find our way back. We need a program. Perhaps not a 12 step program, three might be enough. Let's call it the 3 "F" program:

Take FAITH, for example.

"An enormous public misrepresentation of Christianity has taken place. . . Many people around the world now think Christian faith stands for political commitments that are almost the opposite of its true meaning. How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American?" -- Jim Wallis

The comments and emails I've received from this corner of the blogsphere tell me that this is NOT how Liberals define faith. They talk about looking at what Christ actually said. There is an openness to learning about faiths beyond the one they were raised with, and teaching the faith they embrace to others. This is not the stuff of Godless heathen immorality that the Dems are being portrayed as publicly. This is active spiritual growth.

In the responses, suspicion was voiced as well; some worried that the lines of church and state were being deliberately blurred as part of a political agenda. Others were concerned that their faith would become vulnerable if such lines were diminished. I think there is cause to be concerned, and to watch diligently.

During the 2004 election campaign, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson virtually said Christians could only vote for George W. Bush. Many of you, along with other Christians and people of faith, responded with letters to the editor, newspaper ads, and even bumper stickers reminding America that "God is not a
Republican...or a Democrat." Then the Republican National Committee circulated lists of "duties" to local churches, which included turning over their congregational membership lists. The RNC also sent postcards to voters in some states with images of a Bible being banned and a man putting a wedding ring on another man - warning that this was what "liberal" politicians planned to do.

Now the Religious Right is saying that supporting the president's judicial nominations is a test of orthodoxy. This is a dramatic new and serious breach in the relationship between faith and politics. -- Jim Wallis

This, to me, is a big savvy kid (read Politician), setting up the little new kid (read Religious Right), for personal payoff. When the big kid gets bored, he's not going to want to play anymore. He could care less if the little kid got a turn.

Our second "F" is a dynamo: FOUNDERS.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the people, no one else, are the sovereign in our republic. We've strayed a long way from that. In today's political world, the sovereign is those with the money. Mull that for a minute. Campaign contributors and lobbyist have way more input on our laws than the people. Think of it as transactional politics.You can get a tax cut for your vote; you can get mandatory health care for your vote. It's transactional; and frequently, there's no way to pay for it. Neither party is asking Americans to sacrifice for the good of the nation. To me, the obvious thing to ask for immediately after 9/11 was to rescind the balance of the tax cut and use the money to create and fund Homeland Security. This simple sacrifice was one most Americans would eagerly make. That gesture could have provided an opportunity to the nation for healing itself and set the tone for constructive national dialogue.

Instead, they told us to go shopping.

The big problem with transactional politics is that the people, the sovereign of our republic, remain outside the actual work. We are not actively engaged in our governance. Transactional politics puts us on the consumer side of the counter. Our representatives are, (you see where I'm going here), on the side with the cash drawer.

There is a truly unique opportunity here for our party. These crossroads offer us a chance to renew American politics. We need look no further than our founders for inspiration. What we seek is nothing less than the restoration of our public dignity. Dignity in how we see ourselves, our civic responsibilities and the role of our elected officials. We need, as a party, to embrace civic virtues:

Individual rights
The public or common good
Self government
Openness and free inquiry

It's asking a great deal, to shake down the Dems and rise again as a party of the people. Think about everything that is making you crazy about the "moral mandate", "privatization", personal this and individual that. The solution is not more of the same in terms of traditional Democratic structure, but insisting we strip down to the bare bones of dignity, of civic virtue, of serving and protecting each other and America. When we fight for accountability to ideals and principles that result in no private gain for us, we do it because of our dignity as citizens.We do it because we believe in something greater than our individual self.

The third "F" is for FOCUS.

We know we want to trim the dead wood, shed the winter weight, blow this cocoon, hit the road, take up slack, insert your euphemism here. We're all fired up. We've read a little history, ate a little crow, talked a little faith. So, what now?

The 2006 elections loom, and there will be countless theories tossed out about the direction of the Dems. Stay focused on where you believe YOUR party needs to go. Talk about faith on the left. Think about what you can do as a New Democrat. Flex your civic virtues. This is the time to encourage change to the party. Nobody is more receptive to the power of grass roots internet that DNC chair Howard Dean. Take the revolution to him. Every subgroup within the party can benefit from this simple platform.

Say it with me, people: TOLERANCE! REFORM! PROTECTION!

Feels pretty good, doesn't it?

Dem straight.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Past, Present and Future, Part 2

This is the second essay about Democratic Party and the role of religion within it. I want to thank everyone who has read, commented here, or emailed me. I'm getting the impression I'm not the only one who'd like to clean this wound and start the healing. This essay discusses our present state of denial.

Where We Are Now

To truly understand where we are, it's helpful to understand how we got here. Today's Dems grew from a base of unions, structured religion, and ethnic neighborhoods. These were groups of people who banded together in order to overturn a tiered society of wealth over poverty. These weren't simple little skirmishes. This was the big stuff. Unions fought and won the battles for pensions and health care to the class of people who never had it. Churches and temples scrimped and saved, creating scholarships for kids to whom college was a unattainable dream. Catholic and Baptist men's and women's clubs set up saving and loan associations, often in their basements, to provide home ownership opportunities and move families out of apartments and into homes and flats.

Sounds pretty romantic, eh? Well, it wasn't. There were shakedowns, payoffs, denials of opportunity and coercion. In a way, it resembled a corporation. If you got in and worked within the system, you could prosper. If you didn't, you could really suffer. What this structure did provide, for millions, was the framework to move from immigrant to participant, out of poverty and uncertainty and into employment with some security. This was not a structure meant to glorify the individual. It inferred the individual had no chance; without the organization of the union or the church/temple, navigation and survival in a climate hostile to improving your station in life was impossible. Without the organization, you were vulnerable and voiceless.

What we have here is a mindset of unity. One person cannot win, but many, pulling together, can bring about great change. Sounds pretty familiar. Feels kinda good.

Only problem is, we outgrew it.

Let me toss some phrases at you:

Personally Saved by the Lord
Ownership Society
An Army of One
Personal Savings Accounts

The common theme here is individual control, and it's resonating. Why? Because we have achieved a new base level. Many of the intense degrees of separation due to race and poverty are blurring (hallelujah!). It's not perfect by a long shot, but the basic expectation of a person born in 1975 and one born in 1945 are distinctly different. Many of the great struggles supported by the Democratic Party are bearing some fruit, and this means that the unity mindset no longer holds the attraction. Formerly oppressed people are finding greater and greater levels of attainable personal achievement. More importantly, they are looking inward for direction.

Well, it's a good thing we fired religion, isn't it?

Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George W. Bush by insisting that a serious religious person would never turn his back on the suffering of the poor, that the Bible’s injunction to love one’s neighbor required us to provide health care for all, and that the New Testament’s command to “turn the other cheek” should give us a predisposition against responding to violence with violence. -- Tikkun

We need to accept several things at this juncture, and none of this medicine is particularly tasty. First, what we had, what we built with our organizational structure, the middle class we struggled to create, DOESN'T NEED THE STRUCTURE ANYMORE. Second, nobody likes snobs. If we buy into the concept of Progressive elite, we have become what we originally fought against, a group who won't or is unwilling to interact with those it deems inferior. I'm not willing to go there. Third, protecting America from those who seek to make it a Christian country committed solely to the fundamentalist view of Christianity means we can't remain on the fringes. We no longer have the luxury of demanding all things spiritual or "value" orientated are off the table because we are uncomfortable with religion within our party. You can't fight the good fight against wrong values with a demand for no values, folks. Not in the current climate.

Foregoing decades of mistrust with organized religion is not going to be easy. We need to remember we once relied on organized religion, fought side by side with them. We were brothers in arms; we shared a vision. Together, we built up a middle class. We have history and common members. We share the values of tolerance, reform, and protection. Today, we also share a common threat to the ongoing free development and prosperity of our nation.

So, tell me about yourself and where you're at with religion and the party.

We need to talk.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Past, Present and Future, Part 1

I plan on writing several opinion pieces about the Democratic Party and the role of religion within it. This is how I feel about it. You probably feel quite differently. I'm a Dem so I'm OK with that. I've updated Might makes Left on the sidebar. There's some good stuff there. This first essay talks about when faith went underground.

What We Were and Why

Some forty years back, we hit a fork in the road. Religious and spiritual traditions were associated with sexist, racist, homophobic and class dominated social structures; the liberal and progressive social change movements of the 1960's rejected established religions. Under siege, these groups found their moral authority questioned over their involvement in oppressive political and economic systems favoring elites and social orders, (such as Jim Crow laws and draft exemptions), that were unfair. Many activists in the liberal and progressive movements found themselves waging war against social injustice while in a climate hostile to faith.

It's not like religious and spiritual people didn't bring great things to the progressive movement. They did. Suspicions associated with established religion left progressive leaders wary though. The progressive agenda shaped itself around issues of tolerance, reform, and protection. What wasn't being accepted was the religious implications of these models.

Thus the Democrats divorced their public political persona from faith. We were the kings of the good works. We were awfully busy. Lots of us went to church. Lots of us prayed. None of us mixed the two sides of our belief system. We separated church and state in our souls, put our noses to the grindstone and carried on. Faith became a silent burden.

For those who joined the party after that fateful fork, it appeared as if there was no spiritual side at all. Oh, plenty of good works, but not much spirit. When Dems marginalized the spiritual side of their members, it weakened the movement. Obviously, we gave the Republicans an avenue to exploit. But what we really did was rob ourselves of a necessary tool to combat the results of the ongoing rush and eventual results of thirty years of materialism. self centered goals, and drift from community care and solidarity.

I lay in bed this morning and thought about the neighborhood I grew up in in the 1960's. I remember the names of all the kids on my block and nearly every one of their parents. We had a network of support for each other. In a single generation, we're losing that. People just buy what they think their kids need, or what they think they have to have in order to put some sort of harmony into their lives. In 1968, I played kick the can with neighborhood kids until it was too dark to see and the mosquitoes were thick and vicious. Our parents ate pie, had cocktails or played cards together. It was cheap. The best times often are.

These days, love your neighbor is passé. We look out for number one. Our love, friendship and business relationships are governed by a simple mantra, "What's in it for me?" When we look for the bottom line in both personal and professional relationships, we are no longer focused on tolerance, reform and protection. We need to find our higher purpose again. There's a deprivation of meaning in or lives.

People hunger for something beyond "making it" or maximizing money, power or fame. This is a spiritual crisis not addressed by liberal and progressive leaders. Why? I think it's simply that they don't recognize it as a central reality of modern American life.

A progressive politics of meaning does not require that one believe in a Supreme Being, much less the specific God that has been taught in orthodox versions of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. But it does require a recognition that many people want more from their lives than an accumulation of comforts, pleasures, and material goodies. We want more than power, more than fame, more than sexual conquest; we actually want to connect our lives to something of transcendent importance the value of which will continue beyond our own individual life.
Counter to the empiricist and scientific reductionism that sometimes gets confused with rational thought, the Politics of Meaning insists that not everything real or important can be quantified or verified through sense-data. The deepest human desires—the desires for loving connection, for transcendent meaning to life, and for justice and peace (not just for ourselves but for others)—are rooted in what we call a spiritual conception of the world. -- Tikkun

Sometimes, taking the wrong fork is a good thing. You get to see something you might otherwise have missed. Dems have a unique opportunity here, if we are ready to understand our history and accept the challenge for change. Returning to traditional Democratic precepts, AND embracing the faith base within our own party will make us stronger as a party, more fulfilled as individuals and more effective as members of our communities. Otherwise, we can look forward to seeing more party leaders standing around post election, sucking on their teeth and wondering which crucial ingredient they're missing.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Stringing the Beads

Ladies and Gentlemen, my light bulb just clicked on.

Sometimes, working a puzzle can be frustrating. You have a clear idea of what your driving at, but can't find the right piece to pull two sections together or just to simply show you where you're headed. Blogging is the opposite. It's more like putting a puzzle together with all the pieces up side down, hoping it'll make sense when you flip it over. The whole story is rarely out there, especially when the story is a little stinky or when it's noisy subterfuge to cover quiet backroom tactics.

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

My intent was to blog about the conference "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith", a conference yielding gems like these:

[L]awyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that [Justice] Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, “upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law.”

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his “bottom line” for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. “He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: ‘no man, no problem,’ ” Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don’t recognize it, is “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.” -- Dana Milbank, Washington Post.

Stalin as an inspiration? Vieira stating that Kennedy's decision was based on principles drawn from foreign law and then quoting Stalin, a Soviet? Man, I could have a field day here. Then I started thinking about a couple of things. Cornyn, Frist, Delay, Cheney, Schiavo... and two other little things popped into focus: Bush, and the Constitutional Restoration Act.

CLICK. There goes my light bulb.

Let's string these beads, shall we?

HR 3799 and S 2082 are both introduced into the houses of Congress in March, 2004. The bill appears to make it illegal for higher courts to review cases by lower courts on decisions regarding things like allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted at court houses. Other parts of the bill provide for more sweeping control measures like banning judges from basing decisions on "international organizations" and "foreign states." If you were staring down the barrel of a potential illegal war, this sounds like a good way to avoid prosecution for war crimes or profiteering. Constitutional Restoration Act? More like Cover Your Backside Act.

According to C-SPAN, the plans for the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference began in February.

Terri Shiavo dies amid the whipping to a frenzy of the masses. I suspect Rove and company believed they could use Terri politically to boost HR 3799. Winning the Schiavo battle would make it difficult for any Rep or Senator to oppose a bill allowing the Ten Commandments into court houses, and all that extra stuff packed in the bill would just kick back and enjoy the ride into law. Why rock the boat if Dubya and the gang had won over public opinion based on the poignancy of Terri Shiavo's battle for life. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed after Bush hightailed it out of Texas to sign "the Terri law" and public support dwindled. The Whitehouse backed away from it.

Tom Delay comes out swinging March 31st against Federal judges, commenting that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Sen. John Cornyn addressed the Senate on April 4th, claiming that violence against judges was a result of their wayward decision making rather than the fact that the people coming before them were short the perquisite number of bricks.

In an abrupt about face, on April 5th Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he thinks the judiciary is "fair and independent."

On Friday, April 8th, Vice President Dick Cheney told the New York Post he would have problems with punishing judges for their legal rulings.

Talk about an ugly necklace.

Why the back pedaling? It's clear the signal was given to back away from Delay. The average Joe is reading the news, and it's coming across that Delay is an arrogant, obsessed power maniac. All the big media has picked it up, and considering their normal docility towards the administration, it's hard not to be believe that they got the OK to run on Delay. (Sorry, journalists, but that's how I see it.)

It's possible Dubya didn't realize he had a mess here, but I'm quite certain Karl Rove did. Rove intended to USE the religious right to achieve his goal. If they got what they wanted and he got what he wanted, that's a beautiful thing. But, in Rove's world, the goal always has precedence over the means. If the thing with the religious right didn't work out, so be it.

This was NEVER about Terri Schiavo, NEVER about liberal judges, NEVER about judiciary decisions regarding abortion or gay marriage or even gay sex. NEVER.

The whole, complete and entire purpose of this 14 month fiasco was to redefine the role of the judiciary.

They are screwing with our Constitution, people.

Redefining the role of the judiciary and packing it with judges they feel they can control gives them the get out of jail free card they need, and carte blanc to conduct themselves unfettered. They justify their assault on the judicial power by scaring the religious right. They are MANIPULATING their base for their OWN purposes, not the goals of the religious right. The religious right wants specific decisions overturned. The administration wants to cement their power by destroying the third of it they can't control. Which, by the way, is precisely the role of the judiciary as defined in the Constitution. They ensure that laws are enacted and enforced within the bounds of the Constitution. They do not care and should not respond to the pressure or desires of a frenzied majority.

So, what's the game plan now? The reason they abandoned Delay was to keep us absorbed in his flame out and OFF HR 3799 and S 2082. This is the real baby, this is the one worth circling the wagons. Lots of protection, power and control are riding on this.

SO, as juicy a bit of road kill as Tom Delay may be, or as tempting as the conference "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" is, keep your eye on the prize. Talk about this Constitutional Restoration Act. Build it up and get it moving. We need this bill killed. If we don't, this bill will kill our Constitution.

This string of beads could hang us all.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Budget Vultures

A hawk is a majestic bird, ruthless, predatory and successful. They possess a clean, if brutal, manner of survival. A swift accurate drop and a clean snatch; to the rest of the meadow, it's hard to see what's missing.

There are programs funded with our national budget that we all know are pork barrel pets, favorites that keep the home fires burning and professional politicos employed. Budget Hawks like to think they're clearing the meadow of excessive pork, and sometimes they do. Sometimes, it's the pork they're protecting.

What's happening to our veterans is the stuff of vultures.

Burn the name of Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, into your mind. He thinks that he can raid the nearly bare veteran's panty and glean a few bones. In a nutshell he want to shift the focus of the VA to a core constituency of service-disabled, indigent and special-needs veterans.

Here's what Thomas P. Cadmus, national commander of the 2.7 million-member American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans organization has to say about that:

To further cut costs, leaders in Washington again are redefining what it means to be a veteran. They conjure up buzz-terms like "core constituency." Veterans in that group, apparently, are more likely than others to expect future access to VA clinics and hospitals. The "core constituency" is a smaller, less costly population of veterans. And it's convenient for future budget-makers. Because "core constituency" is not really defined in law, it can keep getting smaller and smaller until gone.

The official definition of a veteran can be found in Title 38, Section 101, of U.S. Code: "The term 'veteran' means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released there from under conditions other than dishonorable.

"U.S. Code mentions no "core constituency" because a veteran may be a former infantryman who marched through the swamps of the Mekong Delta or a Parris Island drill instructor who taught him the skills to survive there. U.S. Code bonds the Black Hawk pilot who outmaneuvered daily rocket attacks and the base crew that prepped his helicopter for every mission. A veteran may be a combat cook, an Air Force fighter pilot, a Coast Guard sea marshal, corpsman, paratrooper or chaplain. Private or a general. All their roles are interwoven, all potentially fatal in times of war.

When discharged, they are veterans. It's that simple.

Sen Patty Murray (D-WA) waged a good fight to try to increase funding for the VA in mid March. She lost. Here's a list of Senators and how they voted. Only Coleman of Minnesota crossed party lines. I have a nephew from Minnesota. He's in Afghanistan.

Mr. Buyer is concerned about the $3 billion in uncollected healthcare debts for services that insurance companies have not paid to the VA. So naturally, instead of pursuing the insurance companies who donate money to campaigns, he's decided that veterans are his prey. He's concerned about the potential increase in veteran applications as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He's concerned that the money budgeted to the VA will fall way short. Smart vulture, our Mr. Buyer, he's absolutely right. We have history to go with this assault.

The Independent Budget (IB), annual budget and policy analysis, published annually by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars is now in its seventeenth year. The Administration and the Congress have never met the IB recommendations that are determined on need-based formulas and annual projections for the costs of health care services. The VA "funding shortfall" has been, and still is, a major cause of concern for all of these years. In fact, 24 year ago, in 1979, the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs, held what was then called an "unprecedented" joint hearing to decry the seriously under-funded VA health care system and the impact this was having on the veteran population. I am certain the problem, whether it was under-funding or inconsistent funding, goes farther back than most of us can remember.-- Richard Fuller, Legislative Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America

I am astounded by the short sightedness of Buyer's solution. The situation developed over decades; yet Buyer's intentions are for a quick fix with blanket disregard for the promises made to enlistees at the time they volunteered. He disrespects their sacrifices and their willingness to be sacrificed. As a Citadel graduate who was deployed in the first Gulf War, he should have a better set of guidelines. Whoops, he served as an Army reserve lawyer. My bad. Still, one would have higher hopes that as chair for the HVAC, he'd bring something beside big love for the bottom line to the table. Perhaps, be willing to scavenge something besides his brothers in arms.

People who are willing to die for an ideal are not people who whine over lost benefits. It's up to us to be there for them. We've GOT to have their backs.

Feel free to use the link on the sidebar to contact Rep. Buyer. Just indicate you are from Lafayette Indiana and use the zip 47960-1244. Let him know how -- the reduction of benefits to Vets who, although they were willing to get shot, unfortunately did not so they don't need the health benefits they were promised when they enlisted -- makes you feel.

It makes me mad as hell.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Legislative, Executive and Delay

Article. III.
Section. 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

That's the beauty of our Constitution. Everybody can get it. Three separate but equal branches of government, covered under the first three articles. There are no provisions for one section to hold sway over another. Article three provides for a separate judicial branch. Period. Isn't that gorgeous?

Being the foresightful forefathers they were, the gang provided for expansion as population grew, and structure that provided stability for a fledging nation finding its feet. Our Constitution is the oldest in-force document of its kind in the world. Really. Pretty smart gang.

They put this little bit in as well.
Article. VI.
... The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Paging Mr. Delay, paging Mr. Tom Delay, there's a reality check for you on line 4.

DeLay issued a statement asserting that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." He later said in front of television cameras that he wants to "look at an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president." --Washington Post

He wants to LOOK AT them? Under what constitutional basis? Delay has neither the right nor the authority to restructure OUR Constitution. He had no right to attempt to force the courts to intervene in the Schiavo issue at all. The courts correctly refused to set a precedence of permitting interference. They, of all people, understand the lego theory of how our legal system builds upon previous decisions. That's legalese for slippery slopes for us lay-people.

Delay also is operating under the assumption that he can punish the male judges who don't run their decisions by him prior to passing sentencing. (He pointedly did not mention female judges, so apparently women can continue to pass judgment with impunity. Whoo-hoo!) What arrogance is this, that Delay is now self appointed judge and jury for the nation. Hang on a sec, let me check something here .... nope, Article I, Legislative, Article II, Executive, Article III, Judiciary. Whew! Article III is not Delay. I double checked. Rest easy America; for now, he's still shackled.

Delay feels comfortable giving a press conference and stating that judges who don't toe the Bush line, in effect "thumbed their nose", can expect him to pursue them. (As if he has any authority whatsoever to initiate, let alone conduct such an investigation.)

What is truly troubling to me is that the basis for this assault on the separate, constitutionally granted power of the Judiciary, is that it is being fronted as part of this wretched moral mandate. Delay is gunning for the judges because he can use this as a two edged sword. He can appear to be ardently pursuing the moral mandate to appease the extreme right fundamentalists, but what he really wants is to weaken one branch in order to empower another.

Do you believe our Constitution has run its course? Is it no longer a document that has the power to stir you? Should one or two power crazed people be able to undo the foundation of this country because it suits their purposes?

Count me out.

Democrats continued to criticize DeLay yesterday, with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) charging that the Republican might have broken a federal statute against threatening U.S. judges.

"Threats against specific federal judges are not only a serious crime, but also beneath a Member of Congress," Lautenberg wrote. "Your attempt to intimidate judges in America not only threatens our courts, but our fundamental democracy as well." --Washington Post

Beneath a member of congress, maybe, but the only thing beneath Tom Delay isn't freezing over any time soon.