DAVID’S NOTES:

>>> I thought I’d give these mailings a title and begin numbering them from the first one in 1999 so this is #3. If you want #2 or #1 or know someone who does, let me know.

>>> Martin Luther King was born 70 years ago today.

>>> Now that the trial in the Senate has begun it is doubly important to mail, email, fax and call your senators AGAIN. For you who don’t know the numbers for your senators you can get them by going to http://www.rollcall.com/ which will be the home page, scroll to bottom, open Hill Directory, open Find Your Senators. Or go tohttp://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1411/index.html where you will find a directory for everyone on Capitol Hill.

>>> I’ve been getting some mail from people who so disagree with Clinton about this or that–bombing Iraq, Welfare Reform, NAFTA, proposed increases in military spending, decreases in Medicaid–choose your favorites; I happen to be pissed off at The President for ALL of these–that they think it wouldn not be such a bad idea if he WERE impeached. We have to think clearly here. This impeachment process is not about whether or not Clinton should increase military spending, it’s about a Right Wing take over of various branches of the government–The House of Representatives, the Special Prosecutors Office for two examples. And if the Right Wing wins and kicks Clinton out, how could anyone imagine Al Gore would fare any better in the face of the Right Wing’s new found power or Bill Bradley after he takes the election away from Al Gore? In other words, how will we deal with political differences, animosities, even hatreds now–through impeachment or through elections?

>>> THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #4, which will follow in a few days, will probably be my own essay/commentary PUT ON YOUR SCARLET LETTER. This piece is a logical follow-up to the main reason for J.M.E. #3 which is Lois Eby’s commentary WHO LACKS MORAL COURAGE AND HONESTY? which will air on Vermont Public Radio this coming Tuesday, 1/19, at approximately 7:50 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Here’s Lois’ essay:

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WHO LACKS MORAL COURAGE AND HONESTY?

by Lois Eby (leby@sover.net)

 

Who lacks moral courage and honesty? I ask myself. It’s easy to point the finger at President Clinton and say that he lacks moral courage and honesty, because he has affairs and tries to hide them from his wife and the public, even to the point of lying about them. But since, according to a study I read about last summer, about 50% of American men and 40% of American women have affairs, which I presume most of them try to hide, even to the point of lying about them, I find it hard to understand why political leaders and media pundits are so quick to point this particular finger at Mr. Clinton, and so willing to let our legal system spend millions on it.

The situation sadly reminds me of The Scarlet Letter, a novel written in 1850 by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a woman in 17th century Puritan New England who is forced to wear a red letter A on her chest as punishment for having committed adultery and having had a child from the affair. In the end, no one in the novel is free of sin, least of all those who pursue, hate, and punish Hester and her lover.

What worries me is that the lack of moral courage and honesty that was present in Puritan New England now dominates our public life at the end of the twentieth century. Everyone wants to attack Mr. Clinton’s lack of moral courage and honesty; almost no one will oppose this thinking and defend President Clinton’s right to privacy and right to deal with his own sins, and by doing so defend the right to privacy for the rest of us as well. And certainly NO ONE wants to acknowledge honestly and openly his or her OWN sins.

I am not condoning Mr. Clinton’s behavior. Neither am I critcizing it. I am asking whether we as a nation want this kind of government intrusion into private life, the life of sexual relationships and personal moral decisions.

This question must be asked of our whole society but especially of women, myself included, who have pushed for laws controlling sexual harrassment on the job to the point that we now have a marriage of liberal ideas and “religious right” morality which has brought us to the legal nightmare of the Paula Jones case and the Independent Counsel pursuit of Mr. Clinton. We all know that sexual relationships are complex and difficult to regulate. It’s clear, for example, that neither Paula Jones nor Monica Lewinsky were or are innocent victims, let alone children. When the state becomes involved in regulating sexual relationships on or off the job, endless legal complexity and the invasion of privacy are sure to result.

Therefore sexual harrassment needs to be much more narrowly defined in the law and the effects of it need to be much more concrete than “psychological harm,” let alone moral offense, for the government to get involved through the law. As individuals, religions, and social groups we can and should discuss what is true morality in the area of sexual relations and we can work hard to raise consciousness in these areas. We can create our own rules and our own sanctions. We can create conflict resolution methods for resolving claims of sexual harrassment and moral offense. But we cannot involve the State and the Law in the relations between men and women except when there is true coercion, as in rape, or true discrimination, or true, concrete job consequence, without sacrificing not only our freedoms and our right to privacy but our moral honesty and integrity as well.

Let’s NOT start handing out scarlet letters again.

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Dear Emailites,

EMAILITES. . . have we finally found The Lost Tribe of Israel?

For those of you who didn’t see and hear the following items:

From THE BOSTON GLOBE, the Sunday before Christmas, I think, this letter from Mo Lotman of Somerville:

“Let me get this straight:

“If I’m the president and I cheat on my wife and then try to hide it, I get impeached. However, if I create a secret government, illegally sell arms to our nation’s enemy, then use the profits to fund a right-wing military coup in Central America, deliberately circumventing the will of Congress, and then lie about it later, I get an airport named after me.

“No wonder Americans are morally confused.”

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From NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO’S ALL THINGS CONSIDERED for 7 January. An interview with: Dubra Lazard.

Dubra Lazard: “Moral indiscretions are not impeachable, and I think that in the past people’s personal sexual peccadilloes have always been treated that way, and then it comes out 50 years after they are out of office. And I think this should have been treated that way too. I got more than I needed to know about something that was to me a personal moral failure.”

Noah Adams: “What about the issue of perjury? As you know there are people in prison right now on charges of perjury.”

Dubra Lazard: “Yes, and they had to dig like ferrets in order to find enough people who were actually serving time for perjury in order to parade them before . . . you know, to convince the American people that in fact people are tried for perjury. If you think about the O.J. Simpson case with that police officer who lied over and over and over. He’s not serving any time for perjury, and that was in a criminal kind of thing, but he perjured himself; it was a big deal about his perjury and for some reason he could not be tried for the perjury.”

Noah Adams: “You’re speaking of Mark Furman.”

Dubra Lazard: “Mark Furman. That’s Mark Furman, that’s who it is. He was not tried for perjury. Everybody talked about it and just sort of dismissed it that, well, you know, rarely do people serve time for perjury or face charges for perjury.”

I can only go by speech patterns and intonation, this was a radio interview, and I know plenty of black folks who don’t “sound” black, but I’ll lay money Dubra Lazard is African-American, proving once again that we white folks had better listen when our black brothers and sisters break it down for us, because they understand how the white world works–the essence and the mechanics of America–far better than we in our white privilege ever have or will.

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FRANK RICH in the NEW YORK TIMES for 9 January thinks we should go ahead and have it out, a nice long trial, a street fight until everyone is bloody and exhausted. He says, “A no-holds-barred trial, meanwhile, might actually be good for the country, . . . . Such a trial . . . might help resolve the unfinished 30-year-old culture war that has raged out of control since Mr. Clinton took office. The alternative — a perfunctory show trial — will only leave both sides at least as angry as they are now. So let Bob Barr, whose rage at Mr. Clinton led him to demand impeachment long before Monica and who sees this battle as ‘civil war,’ actually have his day in court.”

Maybe that’s not a bad idea. Let’s really have this civil war, this culture war, out in the open and go at it.

—–

And speaking of Bob Barr, in THE NEW YORK TIMES for 7 January, Bob Herbert in an OpEd piece points out that both Bob Barr, the most rabid right-winger on the House Judiciary Committee, and Senator Trent Lott have both been intimately connected to The Council of Conservative Citizens an anti-black and anti-homosexual group that is the reincarnation of the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s.

Part of this culture war, civil war, is the prominence of women and blacks in the Clinton administration. Obviously the age of The Old White Man is coming to an end and Bill and Hillary Clinton seem to be the magnet for resentment surrounding this fact. All this is at the heart of this war and this impeachment.

Finally, I am getting increasingly irritated with the vocabulary the media, ESPECIALLY National Public Radio, uses to describe what is going on in Washington. This morning, Sunday, for example, NPR began it’s news broadcast with “Ceremony! Tradition! History! . . .” This careless and stupid use of vocabulary legitimizes an illegitimate process. It distorts the view of what is really going on which was better put by Richard Cohen in THE WASHINGTON POST for 5 January when he described what is going on in Washington as “a legislative putsch–a coup by the DeLay wing of the Republican Party . . .”

Enough for the moment. Please don’t quit writing to your senators, your papers, radio programs and so forth. This battle, this culture war, this civil war, is just beginning.

We’ve had 13 inches of snow in the last 24 hours here and the temperature is in the single numbers or below zero, so finally this winter it looks and feels the way it’s supposed to around here.

More, as you know all too well, anon.

David

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Well, the decorations are back in their boxes, the colored lights put away, the tree is out in a snowdrift and my annual, paralytic Ultimate Yuletide Blues are beginning to lift. Sometime during the second week in January every year six or eight imaginary people come up to me and lift the stone off my back that I’ve been carrying around since the day after Thanksgiving. I thank them. They say, “You’re welcome.” Then they disappear and I step into the new year feeling about 500 pounds lighter. So, time to get back to work.

The trial in the Senate opens today, is in progress as I write this. I’m writing today to urge you not to stop writing.

From Altoon Sultan comes some email addresses you can send to should you want to write The President. Send to: president@whitehouse.gov or go to the White House web site which is:http://www.whitehouse.gov and there’s a link there to send email to the President, Vice President and their wives.

Also from Altoon notice that there is an interesting site on impeachment with lots of historical and legal information set up by the American Bar Assoc. It’s at:www.abanet.org/publiced/impeachment.html.

And also from Altoon notice of a very interesting article by Ronald Dworkin, constitutional scholar and lawyer in the current NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS called “A Kind of Coup.” This piece is measured and forceful and very much worth reading. Find it at: http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/index.html

What I still remain incredulous about is how all these people, Dworkin and all the other scholars as well, miss the basic and primary point that we have no right to know what we know, and the only reason we know it is because beginning way back with Judge Renquist and his appointment of conservative judges who then appointed Independent Councils who were right wingers like Ken Starr the whole Independent Council’s office became a tool of a right wing vendetta against the Clintons. This general atmosphere, plus an unlimited checkbook and a desire to go fishing anywhere and everywhere, plus illegally acquired audio tapes from Linda Tripp plus any umber of illegal and unethical actions on the part of Ken Starr’s office got us to where we are.

It is as if the scholars and pundits accept the notion that the ends justify the means and even though the means were illegal, unethical and immoral, now that the dirt is out, that dirt can be grounds for impeachment.

More anon.

David

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