Who Has The Right Stuff? - STEVE MYERS VIRGINIA HIGH SCHOOL APPEARANCE -AMBASSADOR ALAN KEYES Leavitt hails Clinton on Net tax, President says U.S. should allow states
to tax online sales - LEE DAVIDSON INTERESTING INTERNET ON-LINE POLL RESULTS - THE HARRIS POLL & EXCITE.COM ALASKANS IN SEATTLE FOR THE WTO, PART 2 Tear Gas and Triumph:
What Happened in Seattle and What's Next - CHRIS DIXON AMERICA: THE GOOD NEIGHBOR. -Gordon Sinclair THE COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: NOT THE UNPARTISAN
ORGANIZATION IT APPEARS - RALPH NADER WORLD NET DAILY TO LEAD CHARGE AGAINST NET TAX HAVEN'T THE PEOPLE OF UTAH HEARD THAT THE PRESIDENTIAL
PRIMARY IS OVER? - MARY MOSTERT BUCHANAN STRESSES REFORM PARTY UNITY, IMPORTANCE OF
FALL DEBATES - PATRICK BUCHANAN FUNDS PROBE UNFAIRLY SPARED WHITE HOUSE, '98 REPORT SAYS
- WILLIAM C. REMPEL & ALAN C. MILLER; Los Angeles Times IT'S THE AMENDMENTS. STUPID! - DEB WEISS WAKE UP! IS THIS CLOUD-CUCKOO-LAND ? - CAMILLE PAGLIA HOW HIGH IS YOUR FREEDOM QUOTIENT? - ANN COULTER I made a mistake about trigger-locks - KATHLEEN PARKER Winter 2000 - Archive
February 22, 2000
The subject of gifts has been much on my mind lately. I don't mean the kind one gives for a birthday or, perhaps, for Christmas. I mean the kind God gives each of us: special talents to accomplish certain purposes so that others may be served and blessed, for their comfort and for His glory. We all have gifts, but some folks are more aware of them than others, and some use them more wisely than others. As an illustration, a store near my home is managed part-time by a young woman whose physique, gentleness, charm and manners are very well-suited to a successful career in professional wrestling. I avoid the place when she's on duty. Gifted though she may be, relating to customers is not her strong point.
Likewise, it's helpful to look at the presidential candidates parading before us in that light. What gifts are needed to run America, and which do the contenders possess? I won't pretend that any of those running for president can solve America's problems, partly because America isn't ready to even acknowledge her problems, much less solve them. Most folks are quite content, thank you very much, and it's evident from the shopping malls that they are awash in more money than they know how to spend wisely.
Yet, there seems to have been a stirring, even if not yet a full awakening, of the American people. At least they know what they don't want: the ascendant popularity of Senator John McCain in New Hampshire, where the polls are not rigged, seems to suggest a deep desire for the anti-Clinton. Vice-President Al Gore remains obviously disqualified from that position. No doubt, he is secretly learning to enjoy Tempera and Sushi. If he's lucky, Bill Clinton may just have time to squeeze in his nomination to be ambassador to Japan, following former Vice-President Walter Mondale and former House Speaker Thomas Foley.
George W. Bush remains the favorite to win, not because he can offer any personal achievement beyond sobriety, or because he has any coherent policies on anything whatsoever, but because he's been solidly approved by the Establishment, the nebulous but august body that runs America behind the scenes. It is the Establishment that John McCain appears to confront. But is it so? Just like Governor Bush, Senator McCain is a good and decent man in many ways, even if his financial past is a touch on the unsavory side; and he is good company.
In addition, Governor Bush's understated competence and honest charm have proven a powerful combination. But it's no secret that both men are as involved as it's possible to be with the New World Order. George W. Bush surrounds himself with NWO operatives and, even if with reluctance, will find himself doing their bidding as soon as he walks into the Oval Office. When the all-powerful Bilderberg group of international politicians and business leaders met recently in the Library of Congress, who was the guest speaker at dinner? Why, none other than Senator John McCain!
One of the ways in which the American people are deceived into thinking that they have a choice about their leaders is that the Establishment puts up two or more equally-approved candidates and allows them to fight it out between them. George W. Bush, John McCain, Bill Bradley and Al Gore are all members of at least one of the NWO organizations. It feels like going into the only restaurant in town with a real desire for a juicy steak, only to be told that there is only one item on the menu, and it's fish. Take it or leave it. Permit me to quote from the Exegesis of April 1996 in order to illustrate the point that only the cast changes, but the script remains the same:
"Which is the most immoral: to create the appearance of democracy while undermining it, to endorse someone because you lack the courage not to do so, or to fail to think and vote for someone you dislike? It has been painful to watch the exploitation of this great nation, which tries to be an example to the world. There is, of course, a huge difference between the American primaries and an election in a dictatorship: those in a dictatorship realize they are not living in a democracy. All Americans should be deeply alarmed by what has just happened, but are they? Not at all: many are so mesmerized by the incessant outpouring of garbage and disinformation from hundreds of television channels that they have been gently lulled to sleep and are almost oblivious to reality. George Orwell presciently warned that, one day, the Fourth Estate could become a fifth column. Is that now happening? Have the US media subverted democracy?"
Just like 1996, when voters were offered a choice of Bob Dole or Bob Dole, it's now George Bush or George Bush, any color you like as long as it's gray, as Henry Ford almost put it. That is what causes so much resentment among voters. Mr. Bush's qualities or competence aren't the issue. Exegesis reported that Mr. Bush would be the next president on January 24, 1997. Indeed, the Establishment made their choice several years ago, and the electorate has no choice but to live with it.
To enforce their decision on the now less-willing electorate, the Establishment has had to resort to dirty tricks. In South Carolina, 21 polling stations were not opened. All were in Greenville county, an area with a high concentration of McCain supporters, and where the local party chairman is a Bush man. And as usual, the media in the guise of Voter News Service, counted the votes. Then there were the repulsive push polls. These are devices for smearing an opponent, disguised as opinion polls. As Andrew Sullivan describes them in the London Sunday Times: "In a push-poll, a paid caller announces that he is conducting a survey and asks some leading questions. The script often goes something like this: 'Which of the following do you think most accurately describes candidate X? a) a wife-beater; b) a foreign-born Jew; c) a friend of abortionists; d) a tool of special interests; e) all of the above.'"
These are just a few brief examples of how elections are rigged, but there are many more dirty tricks used to secure the will of the Establishment for their chosen man. Can Christians really vote for anyone who uses such tactics, especially while claiming he knows nothing about them? The reasons they should do so, according to some Christian leaders, are that Mr. Bush is less evil than the alternatives, and that he is more pro-life than his opponents, which they believe God wants us to be, all other issues excluded. Ethics matter more, and that's something the extreme Right should remember. Love matters more than anything. Even the premise is false: there are only three pro-life candidates in the presidential race, and they are, in alphabetical order, Patrick Buchanan, Alan Keyes and Howard Phillips. The rest are sham.
There is particular concern for the ethics of Mr. Bush's team. I can do no better than again quote Andrew Sullivan: "Like his father before him, Bush combines inarticulate high-mindedness in office with ruthless demagoguery on the campaign trail. South Carolina ... [was] a pyrrhic victory. The ugliness of his tactics, his willingness to consort with the most unsavory characters in a notoriously unsavory state and the sheer vacuousness of his message have revealed him to be not merely hollow but also malicious and unwise.
In his first bout with adversity, Bush called in the boys and told them to nail his opponent's head to the floor. If that is "compassionate conservatism", let's forget it. And to what end? In the past few weeks Bush has gathered around him, with uncanny efficiency, the unprincipled lowlife who have poisoned the Republican party for a decade or more. You can tell a lot about a person by who his friends are. If these hatchet men and bigots are Bush's friends, then deliver us speedily unto his enemies."
There is another point. Only Patrick Buchanan, Alan Keyes and Howard Phillips have proven themselves to be squeaky clean and honest, which is why none of them is ever likely to become president. As Dr. James Dobson memorably said during the 1996 election campaign, when the electorate was faced with a choice between two of the most evil, corrupt men who have ever held public office in any nation in the past fifty years, you can never go wrong voting your conscience. The point is not to win, but to do right.
All three men - Buchanan, Keyes and Phillips - are gifted orators, though a president needs more than that. If America is to turn back to righteousness, a gift of oratory is desperately needed. Bill Clinton oozes insincerity with every word he utters. George Bush was sincere, but not an orator. And how shall we think of Ronald Reagan: his speeches may not have been masterpieces of the English language, but he communicated sincerity and helped people to feel good about himself and themselves at the same time.
We've descended a long way in twenty years from Ronald Reagan who refused to take off his jacket in the Oval Office for fear of showing disrespect, to one who gladly removes even his underpants. And we've descended from a man who showed the utmost integrity to the point when we've forgotten the meaning of the word. Integrity is needed too. George W. Bush is a poor orator. His misstatements have already spawned several web sites. But he can improve. He has no real views on anything, but he can be taught. At a pinch, he could learn ethics and teach them to his staff, but it's a stretch to believe it can be done in time for him to learn the advantages of righteousness before he takes the oath of office. If Americans desire an anti-Clinton, they will vote for anyone but Bush or Gore. But Mr. Bush is an improvement on Bill Clinton. His staff may use sleazy tactics to win, but at least he hasn't started killing people who have become inconvenient to him. Mr. Bush is certainly not Bill Clinton, but how much is that saying?
It's nice to dream, and perhaps one day, the electorate will summon just a little more determination, switch off their televisions permanently, and educate themselves enough in the realities of American political life to reject the entire corrupt system. But don't hold your breath: they've never had it so good. So, ethics be gone. Christian teachings stay away, except in the shallowest sense. We're heading for eight more years of bible-carrying smiles, and eight more years of careful deception, but it's Republican so it's OK. It will be so much more elegant, a bit more conservative, and so therefore, much more palatable.
As we told you three years ago, George W. Bush it will be, so let's give him two and half cheers. Let's prepare to enjoy our fish. Steak's off the menu for the foreseeable future. And as for the right stuff, it doesn't really matter who has it: nobody really wanted it anyway. The moderate, half-right, less-wrong stuff will apparently suffice. When the esteemed C-SPAN network took a poll among historians, Bill Clinton placed last in morals among America's presidents to date.
America will regret settling for second best, but hey, it's certainly a whole lot better than settling for the demonic filth which has led the free world these past eight years. Our hope remains only in God, not in politicians or Alan Greenspan. We trust in His grace, we believe in His redemption, and in the triumph of good over evil.
February 28, 2000
I think that this is the first time I have given a speech across an empty orchestra pit. To make me feel at home, you should have filled it up with people . . . . This audience doesn't know . . . we are actually alluding to one of my more unique experiences during the campaign.
Thank you all for coming. I want to spend the next several minutes talking to you about the state and situation of our country, and the challenge that we face in the course of this election year. I have to apologize in advance because part of what I am going to say obviously isn't going to be, I think, all that pleasant to hear. But I think that it is important, nonetheless, that we reflect on it, as it will help us to understand the real responsibility and challenge that we are faced with in this election.
I think that if you look back over the course of the last several years, part of the job I have to do as I go around the country these days has been made a lot easier by the contributions of our present chief executive in the White House. Hard to believe though it may be, he spent the last several years doing me a great favor, since he has by his actions allowed me to cut about half an hour from my statement. I used to have to spend a long time not only developing the fact that we were in the midst of a moral crisis, but then convincing folks that it is politically relevant and could have a damaging effect on our political institutions. Thanks to William Jefferson Clinton, I no longer have to make that case. He has in fact done it in a way that is far beyond, as Lincoln said, my poor power to add or to detract. And I think that it doesn't require much convincing.
But that doesn't mean anything, at all, about what is going to happen in the election this fall. And I say that emphatically, because I think that it is something that Republicans around this country need to understand, and many of them do not. If you look back over the record of the last several years, without doubt we have been through the most shameless example of a lack of integrity, of a failure of moral stewardship, by an individual or a party, in the history of our country. Never before have we seen the White House taken to such depths, and never before have we seen a party willing to tolerate it as the Democrats have.
And, just as it meant plummeting personal ratings for the president, so it means an automatic victory for the Republicans in the fall. (laughs) I'm tempted to say, "gotcha," on that one. But, see, it didn't, did it? Why not?
There are many explanations, many of them trying to point the finger at the American people, and conclude as to our depravity and the love we have for the shameless lack of integrity that we saw in the last several years. But that I do not believe is true. What I do believe happened is that the Republicans in the Congress of the United States, whose job it ought to have been to drive home the point of that moral failure to the American people, utterly failed in their task of leadership. They did not get the job done.
Now, as we approach the fall election we need to reflect on that failure. Because it ought to instruct us that there is nothing whatsoever automatic about the translation of that moral corruption and failure and lack of integrity on the part of the Democrats - there is nothing automatic about translating it into some kind of political result in the fall elections. Especially not in the context of the situation we find ourselves in right now.
I believe, and this is just on the basis of my own cursory little thinking about it as I look back over the course of this century, for instance. And I understand that there is actually a professor at American University who has done a systematic review on this basis, and come to something of the same conclusion. But anyway, you look back over the course of the century - I am hard put to find an example of an election in which the country was enjoying prosperity and the American people handed the White House from one party to another. It is just not something we do. Apparently, if we are enjoying pretty good economic times, we are well disposed to be congenial about handing power back to folks, even if they were just warming the seat at the time the good things happened.
Now, of course, Clinton was warming the seat in the sense that we wouldn't want to reflect on, but I think, nonetheless, Americans might be disposed to continue with politics as usual. And finding no particular fault with their own circumstances, knowing that all the politicians, when they claim credit for those circumstances are lying - see, we all know this. Whether it is Republicans or Democrats who stand up and say, "We are the ones who caused this prosperity," somewhere in our heart of hearts we Americans know that either party is lying when it says that. Because it is the American people who are responsible for the strength and prosperity of this economy, not America's politicians.
That said, at the very least they won't hold it against the party in power in the White House, and at most, they are probably willing to spread a little good will all around and let em stay there. We Republicans had the advantage of that in 1988. After some good Reagan years, folks were kind of disposed to hand the White House off whatever Republican came along; they handed it to George Bush Sr.; he had 80% approval ratings the day he stepped into office. Now, I think we all know that had nothing to do with him. That had to do with the pent up good feeling America had about itself during the Reagan years.
And all things considered, it would be quite possible, I think, for the Democrats in the fall to run a campaign just reminding Americans of how well off they are, asking them whether there is any good reason why they would want to change stewards at this point, and my guess is that they will answer, "No, there is not."
I don't know whether most Republicans have reflected on this reality or not, but they ought to. We have a tough fight ahead of us. It is very likely that we will love that battle, and all the historic precedents are against us on this. So we go into the fall faced with a situation where the good times for our country, for which we must thank God, become difficult political prospects for the party not in power in the White House. And that would all be quite correct, and it would mean it was very unlikely, however valiantly we fought, that we would pull this one out, except for one thing. That for all the economy is not doing too badly, and the world is still relatively at peace - and that, by the way, in spite of the treachery and betrayals and incompetence of the Clinton administration - none of those chickens from their ineffective foreign policy and their tolerance for the decline of our military, and their betrayal of our national security secrets to the communist Chinese - none of those things are actually going to come home to us before November. Within the course of the next few years, my guess is that we will suffer egregious consequences, but not right now.
So good economy, world reasonably at peace - Democrats waltz to victory. Except for the fact that they have this huge vulnerability on their moral flank. Except for the fact that they put this country through the most shameful episode of its history. Except for the fact that many Americans feel the grief of that shame, though they are not quite sure why it should translate into a political result.
The question I think that faces Republicans is how we are going to convince them that, in fact, it does require a political change. I think that the only way we can do it is to understand the moral crisis of the presidency in the last couple of years in the context of the moral crisis of our country. I said it time and again during the whole impeachment business, that we were not dealing with the problems of one man, or one administration. That the question we needed to ask was not what Bill Clinton had done or failed to do, but how on earth, by the judgment of the American people, he became President of the United States in the first place.
And that question is not a question about Bill Clinton. It is a question about us. It is a question about the American people, and what kind of people we are today. It's a question about our character. About our judgment. About our conscience, and our sense of responsibility.
Bill Clinton came to us and he said, "It's the economy, stupid." And now you can look around you and the economy is working fine, but do most of us feel that the country is working fine? Do we feel it in the face of what is happening in our families, and in our schools. Do we feel it in the face of what has happened to the standards of public integrity in our lives as citizens?
I think in fact that this period of prosperity, far from confirming that we are in good shape, simply gives us the leisure to contemplate the truth. And that truth is disturbing. That truth is dangerous. Because as we look back over the course of this century, a century of horrors, and a century of hope; a century of great tragedies and great achievement; but in the midst of it all, what do we find? We find that time and again America has gone through periods of great testing, times when we could not be saved by our military might, because our military might was precisely what was in question. When we could not be saved by our economic might, because our economic condition was exactly what lay in ruins.
In the depression, in the challenge at the beginning of the great world wars, it was not our material circumstances that saved the day; it was the fact that as a people we could draw on a moral heritage that gave us the faith and the courage and the will to rally our forces even in the face of challenge and defeat; to hold on to our liberty even in the face of economic depression; to resist the totalitarian temptation that overtook many of the countries of the West; and to emerge as the champion of liberty through the longest and darkest struggle against tyranny that the world has yet known. And we did not do it, in those times of challenge, because of our material strength. We did it in the face of relative material weakness, because of our moral heritage and beliefs.
That means that the Democrats and Bill Clinton have assaulted and squandered something far more precious to us than our material condition. For in the good times and the bad, it has been our faith, it has been our moral and spiritual strength, that got us through.
Now that we have squandered it, what happens when the crisis hits? As surely it must come again, for human affairs always present some new time of trial and testing. I don't know exactly what form it will take, though it does seem to me that after many years of trying, we probably will succeed in building the communist Chinese into a formidable military adversary.
Well, you know, we are doing the best we can. We are, by virtue of the Clinton Administration's leadership, providing them with capital, with technology, and with those military secrets which were, of course, the secret of our own strength. And I have no reason to believe, given what they have demonstrated in the course of their history, that the Chinese will be slow about implementing the gifts that we have given them. So I would expect that within the next five years or so, they will try to make good on their bluster about Taiwan in order to test our resolve.
As a people, we will surely be faced with challenges of this kind. How are we going to meet them, in the years ahead? Do the episodes of the past several years suggest that we still have the moral resolve to face such crises in the world, when it was clear that our leadership lacked the moral resolve to deal with a crisis of turpitude even in our own government?
I think we have every reason to doubt ourselves, and in fact, I know for a fact that we do doubt ourselves. For I look around the landscape of American life, and I see in every area that we are surrendering more and more of our liberty to an ever-expanding government power. A power that is claiming control over our money, and over our schools, and over more and more of the affairs of our lives. And on what argument do they approach us for this surrender? On what argument do they come in order to substitute government power for our judgment, and our responsibility, and our role as a self-governing people? Well, it's always the same. Whether you look at the money, where they can't rely on us because if they do the babies will starve and the elderly won't be taken care of and all the needs of the society will just go begging because we are no longer a people to be trusted to meet our own responsibilities, apart from the coercive power and programs of the government.
The same is true even of our schools. We have abdicated what ought to be the leadership role of parents in the lives of their children, in order wholesale to turn education over to the government power, forgetting, I suppose, that education shapes the consciousness of citizens. And do you really think that a government dominated education is going to shape citizens capable of dominating their government? I doubt it.
And, of course, we have surrendered and we are being called upon to surrender even more, our access to the means of self-defense, to those "terrible" weapons that do so much destruction - according to the papers. The way they talk about them, you would think that there are guns, rifles and automatic weapons strolling the streets of our city, randomly killing folks. "We must stop the scourge of these uncontrolled weapons!"
And, of course, it is absurd, isn't it? Because we know good and well that these are not demonic things, possessed of some kind of life and will. They are mere dead instruments, no more portentous with evil than the hearts of the people who make use of them.
But why is it, though, that coming forward with these arguments for gun control or whatever, they are pretty successful so far? And they promise to be more successful still, until finally the whole meaning and intent of the 2nd Amendment will be completely lost. Why are we so willing to believe that we are no longer a people capable of meeting the responsibilities, bearing the obligations, or possessing the powers and rights, of a free people?
I believe that all these issues, including those that we agitate with budget and everything else, all of them are a reflection of our lack of moral confidence. We are a people who no longer truly believe in our own decency, in our own moral capacity.
And so when our leaders come to us and tell us, "Well, if you want safety, you are going to have to give up your rights. If you want security, you are going to have to give up your rights. If you want good schools, you are going to have to give up your leadership. If you want a decent and humane and compassionate society, then you are going to have to give up control of your money," . . . . we just sit there, with our mouths gaping open, and we nod and say, "Well, yeah, I guess they're right." But why would we think so?
Because what they are telling us is a reflection on us. Those approaches to policy which concentrate more and more power in government's hands are actually a commentary on our own moral decency, our own moral character. And we are accepting the notion that we are no longer fit for freedom, that we are no longer good enough to be free.
And I wonder - because I ought, of course, to launch into something that suggests this is not true. But are we sure? Because I look at the situation in our country right now, and I see these people playing on the notion that if we have guns, for instance, we are all going to be wandering the street killing each other because we have no sense of responsibility, compassion, restraint, decency, justice. Why should we believe that we are a people likely to go about killing innocent folks in the streets?
Could it be because we are a people quite willing to tolerate the killing of innocent children in the womb?
The sad truth is that we have already surrendered the premise of our good character and our decency. We have surrendered it along with the principle of our claim to rights and liberty. Both these things are gone.
And I sometimes marvel. I guess it is one of those things that is like the physics law about the conservation of momentum - that which is in motion tends to remain in motion for a while. And so we go through the motions of our freedom, even though we have already given up that which is the substantive foundation and basis for our liberty. It's gone. We have lived for several decades now in the shadow of the lie that has replaced those self-evident truths with which our nation began.
In one respect you can see that in the consequences of our abdication in education, where as a result of the fact that we surrendered to this government power, and then had judges come along with specious doctrines that required that we separate the educational endeavor dominated by the government from any sense of faith in God, or acknowledgement of His will - we accepted all of this. And with what result?
Well, it is pretty clear. When the country was founded, our Founders articulated - in letters written too large to be missed; on the first page of our nation's independent life - the words that summarize the fundamental principle of all our claim to rights and self-government and liberty: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
We hear the words. I'm sure they are still familiar to most of us. Sometimes I wonder about that, though. They are not approached in the schools with nearly the same consistency and reverence that they used to be. And there is a good reason why. Because at one level, given what we have allowed to happen in the schools, the words that I just spoke, in the context of our present, government dominated system, are gibberish. They are meaningless gibberish. After all, what can it mean to get rights from a creator whose name we cannot speak, and whose authority we know longer acknowledge as a people? Whatever may be the case in the hearts of some of you and me, what is true in our schools and in our classrooms all over this country is that God has been banished, and His authority is no longer in any sense reflected in the curriculum.
And not only have we abandoned the principle that makes us free. We have substituted for it an ideology that returns us to the bad old days before that principle revealed to us the true meaning of justice. For, of course, by that principle the weak, the helpless, the powerless, the poor, the uneducated, the disadvantaged - all these classes of human beings, whatever background or condition they may be in, can nonetheless lay claim to a fundamental dignity and basic rights that must and ought to be respected by every human power and agency there is. Because they are based not upon human power or choice, but upon the choice of the Almighty God. This was the wonderful, providential insight with which this nation began, refuting all the centuries of oppression that had come before this new beginning.
And in all those centuries, what was the principle that ultimately underlay every form of government? Why, the simple principle that might makes right. If I have the power, I have the right. If I have the absolute power, I have the absolute right. And whatever fancy words it was dressed up in, this was, by and large, the basis for most governments, most places, most of the time. It was an assertion that had to be tested on battlefields periodically. And those who ended up winning by fire and sword could then claim the favor of whatever god or gods they worshipped. And the power of the sword became the divine right of kings, and established a foundation for the claims of absolute despotism and absolute oppression.
It was the philosophies that our Founders understood and translated into practical form that took that appeal to heaven, and made it instead the basis for a claim to human liberty, and dignity, and rights, and justice. And we live in a land that has been shaped by the consequences of that insight.
But now, in our schools, there is a different ideology. We don't teach it in the civics courses - I don't know what we do teach in the civics courses. But we teach it in the science classes now. And it masquerades as science, though it is taught as indoctrination. Because last time I looked, you can question science. Is there any scientific question that no one is permitted to question? The questions aren't likely to work in some cases, but in other cases the fact that you are willing to question certain basic assumptions has actually . . . I mean, the questions that Einstein was willing to raise about Newtonian physics actually created the world in which we live. And so science is always open to questions - skepticism is the hallmark of the scientists mind: always question the theory in light of the facts.
There is only one so-called scientific theory where one is not allowed to do that. And where are children are not to be exposed to any alternative, except the one that has been placed before them in this dogmatic fashion. And that is the ideology of evolution.
But why would they insist upon it in this way? I think that they insist upon it because it represents the total subversion of the major premise of our way of life. After all, what would we do with the Declaration of Independence if we had to revise it in order to reflect the dogma that is now, quite seriously, taught to our young people and which shapes their consciousness? This is, by virtue of the claims of science, what they know believe about themselves. You do realize this, don't you?
And what is it? Well, I guess we would have to rewrite the Declaration like this. First, we'd have to take out that inconvenient reference to truth, since obviously the purpose of evolution is to explain a world that looks as if an intelligent being created it in such a way as to dispense with the need for any reference to such an intelligent cause. I've always wondered, though. Why go to all that trouble? Do we go to all that trouble in the rest of science to explain an effect by virtue of a cause that is not commensurate with the effect? Usually you look for a commensurate cause. In this particular case, though, it is the one area of so-called science where we don't look for a commensurate cause. We actually want to look for a cause that is not commensurate with the effect. That's amazing. But it is what we try to do.
Well, they go to all this trouble. But having dispensed with the idea of an intelligent creator, that does raise serious questions about the possibility of truth, doesn't it? Since truth does imply a kind of intelligent cohesion which could ultimately be known and understood. Well, we discard that idea. And so I guess we would have to restate it as, "We hold these ideas to be more or less familiar to everybody, though no longer necessarily accepted by people, that all of us have more or less evolved to about the same point, and that as a consequence of this evolutionary process we, all of us, are equally inclined to whine a lot about our rights."
Sad to say, even if one could state the sort of "Evolutionary Declaration" principles with somewhat greater respect, there would still be a problem. What authority does the evolution process have, anyway? Why should one care about its results? Is there any particular reason to respect those results? If evolution says that we've more or less reached the same point, and I say, "No, we haven't, because you reached the point without the gun, and I reached the point with the gun," doesn't that then put us in a position where this whole evolution thing doesn't matter, where equality is no longer of any importance? And isn't it the case that the underlying premise of evolution anyway - crudely stated, I know, but still I think reasonably accurate - is the survival of the fittest, isn't it?
And what is the survival of the fittest? It is the domination of the stronger over the weaker, in terms of the circumstances in which both find themselves. And do we express much regret, in terms of evolutionary science, for those weaklings who are now extinguished? No, we don't. They are extinct because they were not able to cope. And not being able to cope, why should we shed too many tears about their passing. We might look at them with curiosity, and interest. But beyond that, why do we care?
See, the interesting thing about that doctrine is that, actually, dressed up in fancy scientific duds, it turns out to be, for human affairs, the same brutal, ugly principle that in any case governed all along - might makes right. And we need not shed a tear of concern for the hindmost, for justice cares only for the strong.
I point all this out not only because it is an interesting theory, but because this is what our children learn. And if we don't understand what we are doing, let me put it clearly - we have thrown out the principle of justice on which our nation was founded, that promises justice to the weak as well as to the strong. And we have substituted for it an ideology that offers no sympathy for the weak, and confirms the domination of the strong. We have destroyed in the schools, and therefore in the heart and consciousness of our children, already, the principle without which our whole way of life is a meaningless sham.
And don't think, either, that this is just some academic treatise. "What on earth is a politician doing talking about all of this stuff?" I'll tell you what. Because the major issue that we face as a moral challenge in this country today is a direct reflection of the same abandonment of principle, of the same surrender to the age-old lie that might makes right. For we see it there, clear as day, in the arguments that are made by the proponents of abortion, who tell us that that child in the womb is rightly subject to its mother's choice, because it is not viable apart from her body, because it is wholly dependent on her physically, because she has it absolutely in her power.
What are we looking at there, if not the claim that absolute power means the absolute right to dispose of the being in your power in any way you choose? It is the same awful, ugly premise of despotism and tyranny and slavery and conquest and oppression that has, sadly, consigned so many human beings to oppression and to death throughout the centuries of mankind's existence.
And here we are, a people supposed to be governed by a principle that respects the dignity of all, whatever their weakness or strength, embracing now the lie that in fact once again surrenders the very heart of our civilization to the principle that might makes right, that the one who has the power has the right to destroy the lives of those within his power.
And we do it, where? Well, in this particular case, we harden the hearts of those who ought to be the prime nurturers of our most compassionate instincts, the first experience of that natural love and affection which ought to be the paradigm for all our human relations. Having turned the heart of motherhood into a heart of stone, how could we be surprised if that heart sinks to the depths of depravity?
See, we've already done it. The foundations of our way of life are already all fissured and broken up and about to collapse utterly. This ought to, if you really understand it, explain to folks why it is that I am still here. Because this is a question. I do get that look now, from particularly these media types in the national media. They'll encounter me again and look at me the way that people look at folks in some of these movies where one character has poisoned the other, and they are sitting there, sipping at the tea, waiting for the effects to take hold. And they have that kind of quizzical, "When are you going to die?" look in their eye.
And so there are many, in a political sense, looking at my campaign and saying, "Why are you still here? Haven't we poisoned you sufficiently to kill you yet?" And they wonder why. But I'll tell you why. If you know that the house is afire, and you are trying to rouse the folks within the house, you shout, "Fire, fire." And somebody who wants to stay asleep shouts out the window, "Shut up, I'm trying to sleep." And somebody else who is in the midst of a hearty dinner shouts, "Shut up, we're trying to eat." And somebody else, who is in the midst of other indulgences says, "Shut up, don't disturb us anymore." And so while they are pursuing their food and their lust and their sleep, you're still shouting "fire," because the house is burning down. And they are all wondering, "Why is that man still out there? Why is he still trying to point out to us? Why is he still trying to point out to us that our house is aflame, and that our foundations are in danger?"
Could it be that despite the fact that it seems that so many are indifferent, I still believe that even among the indifferent there are those decent Americans who deserve a better fate than the fate that is in store for them as this republic ends?
No one, I think, really had - or few people had - the imagination to foresee the horrors of the 20th Century. Given our experience of those horrors, we have less excuse for not realizing that human power unconstrained by a principle of conscience that protects weak as well as strong human beings is power that will be abused, without limit, and without constraint, in ways that we can barely imagine, even though we have experienced them. And then you add to this the fact that our science and technology equip us with a power that even the most evil will did not possess in the 20th Century, and you realize that for all our glee, and all our happy-face notions about it, if we let slip that principle of conscience which keeps us at bay, which holds us back >from the brink of that demonic evil which we KNOW to be one aspect of our humanity, if we surrender it, the power with which we arm ourselves now, as a result of our scientific knowledge, is a power that not only threatens our physical existence; it is a power that in every respect threatens our very nature itself.
We ought to know that with that kind of power in our hands, and no principle of conscience to constrain our use of it, the horrors that could await us in the 21st Century will make the 20th look like a dress rehearsal for evil.
And we Americans oughtn't to underestimate our importance in that choice. We have stood as the key ingredient that three times in this century helped to beat back the shadow of evil and tyranny and oppression. Without us, the history of the 20th Century would have been a history of SUCCESSFUL tyranny, and SUCCESSFUL horror, and SUCCESSFUL domination of the world by wills that had no respect whatsoever for the dignity of our common humanity.
We made the difference. And we ought to understand that if that experience suggests our roll, we have a responsibility that, as we enter the 21st Century, is weightier still. For we must contemplate what shall be the consequences if, in this new century, this new millenium, as it begins, we are no longer fighting the shadow of evil, but casting it ourselves.
And these are the choices we face. We have already turned our back on the principle of our moral decency. We have already adopted the judgments and policies that embrace the hard-hearted worship of power and strength as a substitute for justice. Why do we think we shall be immune to the corruption that that evil principle has worked on every heart, in every nation, in the history of the world. We are not immune.
And that is why I think it is vitally important that we understand the real nature of the challenge we face right now. How do we get back to the solid ground of our moral integrity? I think it is quite clear. We must renew our allegiance to the fundamental principle, the simple truth, that we have abandoned: that our rights come from God, and must be exercised with respect for the authority of God.
And I know, there are those who are going to say, "Alan, you're a politician. You can't say that. Separation of church and state." And all of these other lies they tell us.
Excuse me. Not a word I've spoken this evening comes from any text except the text of our own common document of freedom. It does accord with my Christian faith. It does accord with my belief in Almighty God. But it also accords with the American creed that is the ground on which every American must stand to claim their rights.
We have let it go. We have let it go. And in letting it go we have not only surrendered our claim to rights; we have surrendered the basis for our confidence that those rights will not be abused. For you see, the rights that we claim by virtue of the authority of God are rights that we must clearly be understood to exercise with respect for the same authority by virtue of which we claim them. That makes the principle of our liberty in America a self-governing, a self-disciplined principle. A principle that, even as we state it, reveals to us the constraints upon our freedom, warns us against any belief that freedom is about doing whatever you please; doing whatever you can get away with.
It is not so and cannot be so, because the very same authority which grants us the rights in the first place must oversee and command our responsibility in the use of those rights. It is the wonderful balance that has been essential to the progress of our American character in the years since this nation was founded.
And that progress hasn't always been easy. The temptations of licentious abuses and injustice were institutionalized at the very moment the document was written. Slavery, one of the greatest abuses of human dignity, was rampant throughout the land, posing a challenge that even the Founders understood could be the rock on which the whole experiment foundered. And yet, step by painful step, even through the course of the bloodiest war in our history, we clung to those principles that confirm the dignity of each and every human being. We fought out that horror in a way that the Founders did not even anticipate. Until we have come to a day that most of them did not dare dream of, when we stand together, legally at least, without any claims of inequality and racial difference to mar the true identity of our people.
This is something they didn't expect. And it happened, I think, if you look, at our history, because having planted a seed of truth, it was nurtured by the decent heart and consciences and courage of generation after generation of Americans inspired by that truth and encouraged by their faith in Almighty God. They fought the scourge of slavery. They fought for civil rights, and women's rights. They fought that workers would not be abused and exploited. And they continue still to fight. But all encouraged by that simple belief that even if we stand alone, we stand on solid ground if we stand upon that claim of human dignity which comes from the Hand of God.
And now, sad to say, because of our embrace of the abortion doctrine and its consequences, we have turned our back on that principle, dethroned God's authority, and we can't get home again until we have turned around and reclaimed our moral heritage.
I think that the Clinton years have been the warning of what shall be the consequences if we do not act with urgency now. Because I know that it may not have been apparent to all, but people like to pretend that this was all about his sexual foibles. It was really a test to see whether a president could get away with egregious lying and abuses of his office, and whether there was still left in the representatives of the people enough integrity to call him to account. The answer that was given in the last two years was, "No, there is not enough integrity left in our representatives."
I don't know why, even distracted by this temporary prosperity, we should live so easily with that thought. We have no protection, any longer, from the abuses of executive power. The system of checks and balances broke down. Our representatives did not have the courage, because they no longer have the integrity, to do what the Constitution requires.
In this last episode it was all about lying about his sexual escapades. What makes us think, though, that in the next it won't be lying about his political escapades. Today he kills truth, so that tomorrow another may simply kill. That has been the pattern, even in this century. By what hubris do we believe we are immune?
Our loss of integrity, therefore, already exposes us to the loss of liberty, already subverts the integrity of the Constitutional system that requires that we act with courage in defense of our liberty.
And don't pretend that it wasn't about moral things either, because it was. It was about moral things even in the sense, the narrow sense, in which people understand that these days. One of the things that apparently, according to some people, I suffer from is that every time I say the word "moral" people think I'm talking about their sex life. We have become so sick and narrow-minded that we do not understand that the word "moral" involves any choice whatsoever between right and wrong, not just the choice to sleep with the wrong person in the wrong way at the wrong time. And when you lose your moral compass in one area, several areas, you have debased your ability to sustain yourself in any kind of independence, because then the people who can manipulate the passions you can no longer control are the people who control YOU. And this is where we are. We are well down that road already.
How do we get home? We renew our allegiance to our moral principle. We reclaim those rights and responsibilities that are ours. And we begin that process by acknowledging in our leaders and in ourselves the need to oppose the lying doctrines that are corrupting our conscience and destroying our integrity.
That's what I think is the main challenge we face in this election year. It's especially the challenge that Republicans face. Because as I said in the beginning, we're not going to win an election on economic grounds this time; they've got us on that one. Barring some unforeseen disaster between now and November, Republicans can't hope to win this election by making some big economic argument.
I know, they'll say: "Oh, well, we'll promise to do BETTER than they have done. We'll promise to give people MORE than they have given." But I have a feeling that the American people are still smart enough to hold on to a bird in hand against two promised by G. W. Bush. What do you think?
That being the case, those promises aren't going to stand up. If we are going to win, we are going to have to address the moral challenge of the country. We are going to have to show what I have talked about this evening, in terms of the crisis of our liberty, of which this crisis in the White House was JUST the example, the epitome. If we can't do that, then we will lose. If we can do it, then we stand a chance of victory.
At this point I should ask for your vote. But instead I'd just ask for your intelligent judgment. Look at the candidates out there. On the one hand we have John McCain (one person in audience begins clapping loudly) who has utterly abandoned the moral fight, and who HAS no moral principles.
Oh, somebody missed that? All right, if somebody in this audience missed it, I'll explain it to you in painful detail. Because I don't care what John McCain says about his record in Arizona or anywhere else. What he did in New Hampshire was reveal to us his pro-abortion heart. And you say, "Alan, you can't see into somebody's heart." That's right, I can't. But I can listen to what they say. And he was asked by a reporter, "If your daughter came to you, she was pregnant, and wanted to have an abortion, what would you say?"
Now I've got to tell you, that's a very, very interesting question. Because what we say to our children, unless we are the most unnatural parents in the world, comes from our heart. So if you ask someone, "What would you say to your child?" - especially when it comes to a moral issue of public policy . . . . That was exactly the question I kept asking the American people about the impeachment and Bill Clinton. What on earth do those who justified leaving that man in office tell their children today that is decent and honorable? They can't tell them anything. It is one of the greatest tests of probity: "What will you say to your child."
And what did John McCain tell us? He went through a whole lot of rigmarole about his this'es and that's, just the same way the pro-abortion types always do, and then he reached the conclusion that it would be her decision. Well, my friends, call it by whatever name you like, that is the pro-abortion, pro-choice position. And any pro-life individual who votes for John McCain, supports John McCain, whatever else you say about yourself, you have betrayed the cause in which you profess to believe. You have joined those who sacrifice this nation's soul on the alter of its sickening self-indulgence. And it doesn't work.
And that goes so far down the wrong road that I must make it clear here, as I have everywhere else. If John McCain is the Republican nominee, I will not support him. (from crowd: "You're not alone, Alan.") I know I'm not alone. Oh, I know I'm not alone. You don't have to worry about that. The statement I just made will be repeated in sufficient numbers that John McCain wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance of winning a general election. Millions of people like myself have taken the same vow that I have taken. And that is not a vow to some human agency. I stand before Almighty God, and I'll say what I have said for years: I will never again soil my responsibility as a voter by voting for a candidate who turns their back on the fundamental principle of justice by which this nation's freedom lives or dies.
So let us be clear. I think we need to be clear, therefore. And by the way, this isn't the only issue. John McCain shows his lack of any interest, whatsoever, in the moral cause in everything he does. Indifferent to the challenge of homosexuality. Indifferent to the sick influence of music. You name it; he has made it crystal clear. He thinks that the moral conservatives are a bunch of sick fanatics. And so he says, too, in the privacy of his exchanges, we all know this. But leave that aside. He is not a champion who can attack the Democrats on their moral flank of vulnerability, because he doesn't care about those issues.
And then there is G. W. Bush. A nice, decent fellow. Professes to care. But every time I have watched him it has become increasingly clear - he may have the will, I don't know, but he doesn't have the capacity. No, he doesn't. He doesn't know how.
I don't know why we think that people who have not thought about these issues, who have never taken them seriously in their lives, when they come to the time when these are the most serious challenges facing our people, are suddenly going to be able to address them as if they know what they are doing. They don't. And so they make errors. Just as John McCain reveals his pro-abortion heart, so G. W. Bush. He's confronted by Tim Russert, and Tim looks at him and says, "Well, you know, you take this pro-life stance, and the Republican platform doesn't seem to make any exceptions. But you make the rape/incest exceptions. How can you justify that?"
And Bush's response, as I recall it, was to look him in the eye and say, "Well, you know, I know that's a problem. I know I can't justify it. But that's just how I feel. That's the stand I take." And I watched as any credibility that this man has in the debate or battle with our pro-abortion opponents goes down the drain. Because when all is said and done, my friends, if principle doesn't matter; if common sense doesn't matter; if rationality doesn't matter. If, therefore, the careful work one does to present the case as I have done tonight, starting with the principles of our common life and justice, and showing how those principles are incompatible with any support for abortion; looking at the Constitution and asking whether or not it is compatible with the overall aspiration "to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" - how does it secure the blessings of liberty to our posterity, to those generations yet unborn, to KILL them, aborting in the womb? It can't be.
But the only way those arguments have any validity is if folks do have to take logic and common sense and reason seriously. So if I stand there and say, "Well, I know this doesn't make any sense but that's my position," what is to keep Al Gore from saying, "Right, Alan, I know the pro-abortion position doesn't make any sense, but that's my position."? And then we are both just kind of irrationally battling it out and nobody is the better. No way to heal. No way to resolve the issues of principle. No way to sustain this nation's respect for its moral identity and ideas.
It doesn't work. And somebody who is willing to take such a stand reveals right there - he does not know how to make the case. He does not know how to avoid the pitfalls that will destroy him as he makes the case. And so send him out if you will as your champion - he will go down to defeat. And in the process he will be used and abused by the media to discredit the cause in which he claims to believe. No, this is not the time to send out a weak person, to send out one who can't make the case. We need the best articulation we can find of the moral challenge that confronts this country.
I have been out here a while; I've done the debates and this and that and the other. I just leave it to people: make your own judgment about that. I'm willing to stand there, and stand here, make the case as best I can. And then let people judge. If they have any fairness or justice in their judgment, I'll sleep peacefully with the prospect of the result.
But if they don't, I'll still sleep peacefully with the integrity of my own presentation. What will keep my awake at nights is the thought of what this country must become, as we surrender the ground for our moral integrity, and prepare a future in which liberty comes to curse itself, because of that lack of integrity.
I know, this is not the usual kind of pandering appeal politicians make, but my friends, I think it is time we grew up as a people. We have, sometimes without meaning to, shouldered some pretty awesome responsibilities in this world. This is one responsibility that we must shoulder, meaning to do it, conscience of the weight of it, serious enough as people to understand that, ordinary as we appear, we hold the fate of human dignity, we hold the destiny of that last, best hope of human kind that this country is supposed to represent, in our hands. As we decide, we shall indeed decide the fate of our world. For by God's providence, we carry a weight in that world unequalled in the history of humankind. Default in that responsibility now, and we do it not only for our children, but for the children and the hopes of all our planet.
Are we up to this? I don't know. But I think that there is only one way in which we can find out. And that is by prayerfully and seriously seeking first within ourselves and then within our land to return our allegiance to the fountainhead of all our hopes: to restore our sense that our rights come from God. And then to move forward, as in our faith in Him we must, not to calculate the victory or to fear the defeat, but to do our duty and to leave the rest in His Almighty Hands. God bless you.
www.keyes2000.org is the official website for Keyes 2000, (5025 N. Central, Suite 408, Phoenix, AZ), the authorized committee for an Alan Keyes candidacy for President in the year 2000. Alan Keyes is an announced candidate for President. We hope that you enjoy this site and will join us in supporting Alan Keyes for President. Call 888-307-2526 to help support Keyes 2000.
Deseret News (Washington correspondent)
February 28, 2000
(WASHINGTON)-- President Clinton said Monday that the federal government should not stop states from taxing sales on the Internet -- which was music to the ears of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt.
Leavitt is leading a fight to allow states to expand such taxes. And after Clinton made supportive statements in a closed-door meeting with the National Governors' Association -- which Leavitt chairs -- Leavitt was quick to announce it to the press.
"The president made very good points today. Number one, the national government should not be in the business of pre-empting the states' capacity to solve this (Internet sales tax) problem," Leavitt said.
"Second, a level playing field is ultimately the goal of good tax policy. And third, if the sales tax is not to be viable, the states need to begin to look at how they will deal with this dilemma," Leavitt said.
Still, Leavitt conceded Monday that discussions among governors and Congress suggest that resolving the problem during this election year is unlikely.
He said "about four out of five governors" support his position that states must level the playing field between traditional businesses that by law must collect sales tax, and out-of-state Internet businesses that now need not charge it.
"It gives them a 7 percent or so cost advantage," Leavitt said. "That's unfair, and over time it cannot stand."
However, several governors led by Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore want to avoid additional Internet sales taxes, saying that will slow what has been a rapidly growing industry creating many new jobs in their states.
California Gov. Gray Davis, who sides with Gilmore, said Monday, "I certainly don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg."
Gilmore and Leavitt are both members on the congressionally appointed Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, which is scheduled to have a final meeting on March 21 before issuing its final report on April 21.
"I think there is a chance it will be non-conclusive," Leavitt said.
He then expects a variety of bills to be introduced in Congress on all sides of the question, "most of them for political impact. It's unlikely in my mind that anything will pass in the rest of the Congress because of the elections."
But Leavitt said after the elections, he expects the nation will again see another whopping increase in holiday shopping over the Internet -- which will create political pressure of its own.
He says that's because it will put at disadvantage national retailers -- such as Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and Circuit City -- even on sales they make over the Internet.
That's because Internet sellers are forced by current law to collect sales taxes only from people living in states where that company has a physical store, warehouse or other facility.
Amazon.com, for example, has a physical presence in only a few states and can offer cheaper prices elsewhere by not collecting sales tax. But chains like Wal-Mart, with stores in every state, would have to collect tax on Internet sales in every state.
"We will see the retail and business community storm Capitol Hill with one phrase on their lips: Level playing field. They'll say we just want a level playing field," Leavitt said.
He adds that in the next two to five years, debate will show whether sales tax will continue to be viable in the new economy -- or if it will be replaced by higher property and income taxes.
He said if special privileges are offered to exempt Internet companies from it, all companies will find loopholes to also escape much of it -- maybe by forming subsidiaries that would not have to collect Internet sales tax except in one or two states.
He said if states don't come up with a way on their own to make national collection simple, he fears the federal Internal Revenue Service could take it over -- and states would lose power to collect and appropriate their own sales taxes.
Leavitt also worries that slow progress on solving Internet taxation augurs poorly for resolving myriad similar problems coming from rapid technology changes that are globalizing the economy and making old systems of tax and regulation obsolete.
An example, he said, "is telemedicine, where you have a physician doing business across state lines" via the Internet "but is not licensed in one. So do we make licensing of medical personnel a federal responsibility?"
Another example, he said, is that many people with college educations find they still lack skills needed amid today's rapidly changing technology, so how should state colleges respond to those needs?
"If I had time, I could tell you 25 to 50 similar items that are emerging," he said.
Leavitt added, "The United States is on the cusp of a third Industrial Revolution. . . . The changes are revolutionary and will affect every business, every government and every individual in our country."
Copyright 2000, Deseret News Publishing Co.
Harris Poll & Excite.Com
March 13 & 17, 2000
#1. - Clinton has threatened to veto a $1 increase in the minimum wage if a tax cut rider is attached to it. What should Clinton do?
Sign the bill regardless --52% = 20995 votes
Veto the bill if a rider is attached --37% = 15016 votes
Don't know --9% = 3847 votes
Current Vote Tally: 39858
Source: Harris - Excite Poll, March 13, 2000.
#2. - Who do you think is more trustworthy, Al Gore or George W. Bush?
Al Gore --22% = 13289 votes
George W. Bush --38% = 22553 votes
I don't trust either one --26% = 15487 votes
Don't know --13% = 7771 votes
Current Vote Tally: 59100
Source: Harris - Excite Poll Mar. 17, 2000.
#3. If the Arkansas Supreme Court finds that President Clinton lied under oath in the Paula Jones case, should he be banned or suspended from practicing law in the state?
Yes --77% = 55531 votes
No --19% = 14166 votes
Don't know --2% = 1704 votes
Current Vote Tally: 71401
Source: Harris - Excite Poll, March 20, 2000.
Gas and Triumph: What Happened in Seattle and What's Next
On Tuesday, November 30, 1999, I was standing on 6th Avenue between Pike and Union in downtown Seattle--an unremarkable place amidst remarkable circumstances. Directly in front of me stood a reinforced line of police officers decked out in full body armor, carrying two foot long sticks, rubber bullet guns, and grenade launchers. Later I would learn that each of these men and women, granted anonymity by black helmets and gas masks, was part of 'the hard team,' specially designed and deployed for dealing with 'unruly crowds'--in other words, us.
All around me, hundreds of protesters packed into a compact human wall taking up half a block. And directly behind us in the middle of an intersection, at least another hundred people protectively surrounded a large wooden platform underpinned by metal pipes. Each pipe had the arm of an activist carefully locked inside. Resolute and defiant, we were all there to stay.
"This is the Seattle Police...," an authoritative voice crackled through a loudspeaker. The rest was drowned out by the loud discharge from a grenade launcher and the disarming hiss of tear gas, punctuated by the shots of rubber bullets. Suddenly, we were scrambling, coughing, gasping, and crying. Tear gas is no fun, particularly when you're being hit with hard plastic pellets at the same time.
Meanwhile, the hard team advanced, flanked by a 'peace-keeper'--Orwellian for 'armored personnel carrier.' Yet, just as quickly as we were dispersed, we returned--en masse--this time with bandannas on our faces and water for our eyes. We weren't going to be moved so easily. And again, the face-off began. Such was the rhythm of the day.
Alone, this scene was inspiring but not remarkable. Indeed, it happens nearly every day in occupied lands everywhere--Palestine, East Timor, Columbia. No, what was truly remarkable was that we at that particular intersection were not the only ones. For blocks behind us--stretching out of view and snaking around buildings--were thousands more people. There were activist Santa Clauses; dozens of people dressed as sea turtles; colorful stilt-walkers; a jubilant squad of radikal cheerleaders in red mini-skirts; an indescribable number of puppets; an anarchist marching band, complete with matching pink gas masks; plenty of shaggy Earth First!ers; and hordes of regular-looking folks, ranging from steelworkers to yuppies. Altogether, the entire circumference of over twenty blocks around the Washington State Trade and Convention Center was blockaded, with police confrontations at every single intersection. In addition, many local workers had joined a general strike in Seattle for the day. And the International Longshore Union had gone even further, shutting down the ports along the entire West Coast.
Visibly and physically, we were grappling with issues usually left to trade ministers and corporate heads. We were confronting the so-called 'inevitability' of globalization--the assumption that multinational corporations somehow have the 'natural' right to move freely, dismantling any barriers that interfere with their profit margin. In short, we were there to shut down the World Trade Organization.
I was one of many Alaskans present that week in Seattle. However, unlike most, I had the privilege of living and organizing in Washington leading up to the WTO Ministerial. In fact, I was at the mid-summer meetings months before when we had launched the Direct Action Network, the organization that would put out a call to 'shut down the WTO' in Seattle. At the time, those words seemed like a dream, but they embodied our commitment to direct action. That is, we weren't interested in drab, routine, and largely symbolic arrests to protest the WTO; we didn't want to reform it or just 'make our voices heard'; we wanted to nonviolently intervene, to stop the week of Ministerial meetings with art and living, breathing human bodies.
Who could have guessed what was going to happen? Certainly not most of us who mouthed the words of 'shutting it down' while assuming that, at best, we might inconvenience delegates and dignitaries. Yet, for perhaps the first time in my activist experience, the rhetoric became the reality. On that Tuesday, the first day of WTO Ministerial meetings to ever take place in the US, most sessions were canceled because the Convention Center was so successfully blockaded by protesters. The Seattle Times quoted one of the last WTO delegates to leave that afternoon: "That's one for the bad guys."
Presumably, we were the bad guys.
This is what democracy looks like
What happened on Tuesday, November 30 was just the apex of weeks full of protest and months of preparation. Since the January before, when Seattle was selected as the site for the 1999 WTO Ministerial, activist organizations of all stripes had been building coalitions, raising funds, and discussing strategies. For one, Ralph Nader's group, Public Citizen, launched People for Fair Trade/Network Opposed to the WTO, an organization that set the stage for much of what went down in the religious communities, on the college campuses, in the educational forums, and on the evening news of Seattle. At the same time, the American Federation of Labor began a large-scale (though politically moderate) educational campaign in locals, and easily mobilized some 30-40,000 people to flood the streets on November 30. Meanwhile, a loose conglomeration of peace activists, anarchists, environmentalists, international solidarity groups, and unaffiliated radicals initiated the Direct Action Network, which eventually evolved into a more structured coalition. With an enthusiasm for injecting vibrant art into radical politics, DAN became perhaps the most organized disruptive force of WTO proceedings.
At the international level, Peoples' Global Action, a coalition of grassroots movements from 71 countries, endorsed global actions in solidarity with the protests in Seattle. In addition, they organized a caravan of activists from all over the world to travel to Seattle, educating communities along the way, and to engage in direct action on November 30. Less formally, the People's Assembly, with many representatives from the global South, organized a series of events leading up to and during the Ministerial to demonstrate international sentiment opposed to the WTO.
With growing global resistance to the WTO and incredible organizational infrastructure in Seattle, it was no surprise to see innovative forms of protest sparking in advance of the actual Ministerial. In fact, by November 28, a day before meetings were to begin, the tally of actions was considerable. Late-night activists had placed a fake front page on 25,000 issues of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, satirizing its coverage of the WTO. A rally on the University of Washington campus had marched the full length of a main avenue, occupying key intersections with guerrilla theater. A large squad of anti-corporate cheerleaders had crashed the annual Bon Marche parade through downtown Seattle. A critical mass bike ride, inflated to 400 anti-auto activists, had ridden down main streets and eventually opened the doors of the Convention Center, riding straight through. Two courageous young women had scaled a retaining wall next to Interstate 5 with a "SHUT DOWN THE WTO" banner while one of their mothers shouted words of encouragement. And thousands of people had colorfully marched through Seattle's trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood, again occupying key intersections with street theater. Just by the looks of it, the WTO was in for a public relations nightmare.
Indeed, the only match for the tally of actions before was that during the week of the Ministerial. Kicking it off, anarchist squatters occupied an abandoned building one block from the downtown police station, protesting homelessness and globalization. Seattle commuters started their work week in sight of five members of Rainforest Action Network dangling from a 170-foot crane with an enormous banner which read "Democracy" and "WTO" with arrows pointing in opposite directions. Thousands joined an interfaith human chain to call for an end to Third World debt, encircling the site of the WTO's opening gala seven times over. Some 50-100,000 people occupied the streets of downtown Seattle, blockading the Conference Center and halting the start of Ministerial meetings. Several hundred people were arrested and many others were injured in continuous police confrontations, yet street marches continued every day throughout the week. Over one thousand activists occupied the city jail, gaining concessions from the Seattle city prosecutor and then holding out until all arrested protesters were released. And finally, many watched the Ministerial end while occupying the ritzy Westin Hotel, where many high-profile delegates were staying.
The crowning moment, of course, came within the last hours of Ministerial meetings on Friday, December 3 as a coalition of delegates from over 70 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia stubbornly refused to sign onto an agenda in which they saw they had little voice. The next day's headline put it tersely: "Summit ends in failure." The WTO wasn't dead, but it was severely stalled. Our efforts had contributed, some delegates would later admit, by costing the Ministerial nearly two full days of meeting time. The graffiti scrawled all over town had come true: WE ARE WINNING. Thousands of us had gone up against one of the most powerful organizations in the world. And we won. prospects for fundamental social change.
In the wake of the WTO protests, everyone from Time to Ralph Nader is weighing in on what the success in Seattle represents. Was it the last gasp of '60s radicals and their '90s imitators? Or was it the first shot of a growing social movement? Certainly, there were alliances in the streets of Seattle rarely if ever seen: Teamsters and environmentalists, animal rights activists and farmers, international workers and the AFL-CIO, among many others. However, there were also some deep fissures around issues of 'violence' and property damage, not to mention the fact that some activist bigwigs like DAN still haven't dealt with the fact that its supporters are mostly white and middle-class. In other words, the trajectory of what happened in Seattle is yet to be seen. Indeed, we determine it--in the choices we make and the actions we take. If the success in Seattle shows anything, it reminds us that the way the world is isn't set in stone. We can change it.
So where to go from here? Some folks are organizing other large-scale, high-profile direct actions like what took place on November 30. For instance, East Coast activists are preparing for a massive protest in Washington DC against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on April 16. Using similar strategies to Seattle, they are hoping to nonviolently intervene in the semi-annual meetings of these two institutions largely responsible for implementing and sustaining poverty in the global South (see http://www.a16.org for more info). Meanwhile, activists worldwide are preparing for Mayday of this year as an international day of action like November 30, in which local communities use celebratory direct actions to occupy public space, commemorate workers' struggles, and disrupt the grinding effects of global capitalism (see http://www.mayday2k.org for more info). In addition, activists are already planning for the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, both this summer.
What happened in Seattle wasn't just about mass actions, however. Many people present returned to their communities with new urgency and direction for local struggles. In truth, that's what made Seattle so remarkable in the first place. As Bay Area activist Chris Crass points out, our success "was made possible because of all of the organizing that we do day-to-day, the often unglamorous work that makes social change happen." And here in Alaska, there is plenty. Witness the continuous oil extraction and consolidation on, ultimately, what is--as it always was--indigenous land just as Tony Knowles balks at any hint of Native sovereignty. Or listen as the Alaskan Legislature seriously discusses privatization of public services--a neoliberal international trend that benefits none except for the large companies that reap profits while ripping us off. Or watch Anchorage's billowing service sector of underpaid, non-unionized workers while Wall-Mart makes millions.
We have our work cut out for us. From now on, though, we carry the spirit of Seattle with us. No longer do we have to wonder if we can win; the question now is how?
What the hell is the WTO, anyway?
Established by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1995, the WTO is arguably the most powerful body ever regulating trade among nations. Made up of 134 countries, it represents the richest and most powerful in those countries and, in particular, the enormous corporate might of the global North. Meanwhile, the WTO poses as an internationally representative body when, in reality, the only people who have a seat at the table are trade bureaucrats, corporate bigwigs, and high-ranking government officials.
WTO representatives love to use catch phrases like 'free trade' and 'non-discrimination.' The driving idea behind those words is to create an 'equal playing field' among economies worldwide by dismantling barriers to trade. At first glance, all of this talk of freedom and equality sounds wonderfully progressive, yet the rhetoric conceals a harsh reality: public health, environmental, human rights, and labor standards are all 'trade barriers'; they get in the way of the corporate bottom line--profit.
Imagine allowing countries to challenge each others' domestic laws as violations of WTO rules. And then imagine a secret panel of three professional trade bureaucrats (often corporate heads) that aren't bound by any 'conflict of interest' rules deciding the fate of those laws. The WTO calls this its 'dispute resolution process.' That's how it judges what constitutes a 'trade barrier.' And whether the case is European Union laws banning hormone-treated beef, the US Clean Air act requiring cleaner imported gasoline, or El Salvador's minimum wage laws, WTO dispute resolution panels always rule in favor of lowering or abolishing standards. It's no exaggeration to call this a race to the bottom.
The duties of the WTO don't stop there, either. In addition to resolving disputes, it is also charged with enforcing the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which is the basis for corporate patents on seeds, plants, and other organisms--truly, life itself. A predictable consequence is that corporations often use TRIPS to gather up traditional knowledge of herbs, seeds, medicinal plants, and so on, exercise complete control over new extensions of that knowledge, and reap the profits. Most people call this theft; the WTO calls it 'intellectual property rights.'
Richard Grossman of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy astutely points out that the WTO is a metaphor for a great deal of what is wrong in the world right now. It is one of the most glaring examples of those with the most power and wealth making decisions for the rest of us--decisions about the food we eat, the places we work, the air we breathe, the schools we go to, and, ultimately, the world in which we live.
(Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto. The editorial was by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian Television commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:)
"This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States. When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.
The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans. I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes?
Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon-not once, but several times-and safely home again.
You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.
I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those."
Stand proud, Americans.
"Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds." IS 3:10
(Submitted by Gavin Charrier of Ketchikan, Alaska, this "A Tribute to the United States" comes from a Canadian newspaper.)