Published on Monday, April 11, 2005 by the Laura Flanders Show
by Laura Flanders with Steven Rosenfeld
It’s easy to gripe about the single-story media coverage of the past few weeks --like those short, spring showers, the papal burial went on for hours and hours, and when it was over, the channels switched to Charles and Camilla. From the papacy to the monarchy – what’s going on?
It’s been easy to let the old world distract from what’s going on right here, but it’s time to refocus. Back home, a new political campaign is underway and at stake is nothing less than the rule of law.
I mean it. It’s not just that the White House and the Senate Right are gearing up to do whatever it’ll take to pack the judiciary. There’s a campaign going on against the rule of law itself. A week ago Tom Delay was threatening political retribution against judges who disobeyed. Last Monday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested that violence against judges and their families was an understandable reaction to the decisions those judges make. In Washington, a new outfit calling itself the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration held a two-day meeting on what they called “the Judicial Threat to Faith.” Two House members attended, aides to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; Frank Pavone, the Vatican envoy who represented Terri Schiavo's parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore; Tom Delay sent a message by video.
Dana Milbank reported in Saturday’s Washington Post that the conference agreed that Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be “impeached, or worse” for his opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles.
The embrace of unlimited executive power has its echo in our international policy too. In the National Defense Strategy released last month, Donald Rumsfeld links courts and the United Nations together with international terror threats to the state. Describing U.S. vulnerabilities “The National Defense Strategy” declares that “our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak focusing on international fora, judicial processes and terrorism.” All in one neat, package.
Will someone please tell me what’s the difference between that sort of talk and Eric Rudolph?
Rudolph, the former fugitive, was charged with bombings that killed two and injured more than 150 others at family planning clinics, a gay club and the Atlanta Olympics. He copped a plea last week and will be sentenced to life.
Rudolph bombed the Atlanta Olympics to attack the federal government. Tom Delay wants to take out judges whose views he doesn’t like. Rudolph was willing to kill and maim because he doesn’t like women’s power and gays and human equality. Delay and Bush are willing to throw the Constitution out for what look like similar reasons.
They all say they act in the name of god. Rudolph’s bombings were accompanied by letters claiming they were the work of the Army of God. First Strike Bush has said he believes he is God’s agent too.
There’s something going on that’s more dangerous than saturation coverage. It’s Republican vigilantism. The vigilantes are back, and if Delay is anything to go by, they’re hell-bent on vengeance. The qualities that apparently made Eric Rudolph a folk hero to some --- his ability to strike and evade the law, to become judge, jury and executioner -- sound to me a whole lot like qualities the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration would go for.
The Xtreme Right haven’t always disliked judges. They’ve only started disliking the courts since judges started defending the environment against corporations and workplace regulations for working people, and women’s choices, and civil rights. Jailing Dr. King was just fine, when Jim Crow courts were in charge. It’s only now that lawbreakers are right-wing heros.
I call it taking the law into one’s own hands and it’s a direct threat to our state. What else do you call Jeb Bush’s order to state police to seize Terri Schaivo’s body? What else do you call Tom Delay’s threats to sack the bench? What else do you call licensed pharmacists who fill Viagra prescriptions but not birth control? And those old-west vigilantes right now stalking border crossers? For that matter, what do you call the corporations who tempt those migrants here, regardless, so they can pay them slave wages and skim the profits?
At the top of the heap is W. (A fish rots from the head.)When he wanted Bin Laden “dead or alive” he went for it; when he wanted control of Iraq’s oil, he went for that too, international law be damned. Interrogators follow his lead from Abu Graib to Guantanamo.
No Mr. Rumsfeld, the rule of law is not a “strategy of the weak.” It is a strategy that protects the weak from exploitation by the strong. It is the strategy of a civilization: ours.
See that dollar bill? See the slogan written there? Novus Ordo Seclorum -- an old language, but a new idea: the "New Order of the Ages." It’s one of this country’s great founding statements. It means nothing less than the ever-so revolutionary sentiment that by dispensing with kings and semi-gods whose rule was autocratic and based on force, these here United States would be a republic based on reason, balance of powers, and self rule.
Do you hear that Tom Delay? George W? John Cornyn? Reason, balance of powers and the rule of people, not God.
This country is run by a mob whose faith is closer to Eric Rudolph’s than “novus ordo seclorum.” Maybe it’s time for a revolution rerun.
Laura Flanders is host of The Laura Flanders Show on Air America Radio and the author of BUSHWOMEN; How they won the White House for Their Man.
Steven Rosenfeld is Senior Producer of the Laura Flanders Show.
From the Saturday, April 9 2005 Laura Flanders Show.
© 2005 The Laura Flanders Show