Liberals and ‘Flyover Country' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Liberals and ‘Flyover Country'

Middle America - which includes most of the South, Midwest and West - too often gets dismissed by liberal politicians and liberal interest groups who seem to look down on our values. They refer to the area between the East and West coasts as "flyover country." The attacks on Judge Charles Pickering's conservative background and religious activity shows this acute divide. Yet, Senators from "flyover country" are striking back, letting the left know that we are here, we are part of America and we expect more, especially better consideration of our judicial nominees.

The Senate just conducted an almost 40-hour marathon debate on what is a judicial crisis - a complete breakdown of the judicial confirmation process being purposely organized by a few liberal Senators. We want the extreme left to know that America's court system is for administering justice. It is not intended to be an alternative venue for implementing, through judges, their liberal ideas - proposals they have failed to gain popular support in the lawmaking, legislative branch of government.

Of course, examples of the left's hijacking of courts to do their political bidding are many. The numerous attacks on religious displays and the Pledge of Allegiance come to mind. For the latest, look no further than the partial birth abortion ban which President Bush just signed. A huge majority of Americans oppose partial-birth abortion—the process of extracting a late-term baby from the womb and killing it with surgical instruments. Congress and President Bush agree, and we passed a law to ban this procedure. Yet, already what liberals couldn't successfully defend in Congress or the court of public opinion, they are trying to slide through our organized judicial system, launching court challenges to the ban before the ink was dry. This is why we need judges like Charles Pickering on the bench—a judge dedicated to enforcing your representative-made laws, instead of making them himself.

More than two years after his nomination by President Bush for a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and following almost endless attacks on his character, including his active involvement in the Baptist church, liberal Democrats used parliamentary procedure to stop Mississippi's Judge Charles Pickering from getting a fair vote in the Senate and taking a seat on the Appeals Court. Judge Pickering's opponents played the race card first. After that was discredited, they attacked his service to the Southern Baptist church, as if he were a member of some bizarre cult. They've started the same sleazy campaign to block other conservative judicial nominees, including a well-qualified African-American conservative judge and Alabama native, and another female conservative judge from Texas.

Each time a well-qualified nominee gets attacked on the basis of their faith or philosophy, it makes the rift between liberals and Middle America even wider. My colleague Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Georgia Democrat, and even other veteran Democratic standard bearers like former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, have sounded a similar alarm: On numerous issues, an extreme-left wing in their party is alienating millions of Americans in heartland states.

Frankly, I'm not interested in the political party dynamic here or the fate of the Democratic Party. Party politics should always be secondary to what's important for our country. For the good of our country and for our justice system, the practice of blocking good, qualified men and women from serving our nation must be stopped. I've made it clear to President Bush that it is imperative we find a way to end the dangerous, despicable filibustering of well-qualified federal judicial nominees.

President Bush is keeping Charles Pickering's name up for consideration. Indeed, if given a straight up-or-down vote in the Senate today, Judge Pickering would be confirmed. Will liberals let Judge Pickering and other conservative nominees get fair consideration with a vote in the Senate? We'll see. If not, the President and majority of Senators who support Judge Pickering have other procedural options we can exercise. Until then, to all you who think conservatives, and particularly conservative Middle American Christians, have no place in America's judicial system or legislative process, I send you greetings from "flyover country." Our paths will cross again. Because there are more folks in "flyover country" than you may think. We have a few more judges you'll want to meet, too.
Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column. Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office)

Previous Comments

ID
141132
Comment

I adore that Trent Lott is being published by JFP. It amuses me and actually inspires me a bit. But, I seriously am troubled by most of his statements in this column... Especially about Pickering and partial-birth abortion. And, dear Trent, if I can say one thing? The SBC is a bizarre cult... They are complete deviants of the original Baptist church formed in these States and seem more bent on a Hitler-esque America than a God-fearing group of church goers. Ironically, the Baptists, in their beginnings, were a very accepting people and lived humbly alongside pagans and athiests in colonial days. Shhh.... don't tell anyone they'd never believe it. Something to the effect of "living by example."

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-14T16:12:30-06:00
ID
141133
Comment

Me, too, Knol. Lott and folks like him just don't get that no one is attacking their way of life or their religious freedom. We simply don't want to be forced to live by their religious beliefs. Keep your religion and everybody else's out of our courts. Justice, fairness, equity, and compassion are not owned by religion--any of them. You don't have to be religious to be fair or judicious or compassionate. But you do have to be tolerant and appreciative of other perspectives and ways of doing things. And the conservative far right just isn't. People aren't flying over the South's religious faith. They're flying over the bull****. On second thought, I think I'll write something a little more formal and mail it to Mr. Lott at the above address.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-14T17:09:24-06:00
ID
141134
Comment

The part that kills me is always "our values." It's as if the South is one monolith where everyone thinks exactly alike, or they're (we're) expected to leave and take our ideas and our votes with us. That may serve old-style politicians like Lott well, the truth is not nearly so simple. Even the percentage of Mississippians who consider themselves pro-choice has steadily grown over the last several years, up to 42 percent by 2002. That's quite a remarkable number.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-11-16T14:49:56-06:00
ID
141135
Comment

Also: is anyone aware of attacks on Pickering's "religious activity," or is this hyperbole?

Author
ladd
Date
2003-11-16T14:51:45-06:00
ID
141136
Comment

The monolithic-think voting bloc known as the black community seems to have served many old-style Democratic Party politicians in Mississippi quite well.

Author
VBell
Date
2003-11-16T15:26:43-06:00
ID
141137
Comment

Actually, that would be the "new-style" Democratic Party, at least since the 1960s. A black voting bloc certainly didn't serve the traditional Democratic Party in the state before the party switch. But, then again, the black voting bloc you speak of didn't exist before the 1960s. And it certainly hasn't had a reason to serve the party that formed in direct protest of them getting the right to vote.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-11-16T15:39:13-06:00
ID
141138
Comment

Certain kinds of politicians and political leaders like to rely on the "get behind me and together we'll keep those outsiders from coming in here and imposing their alien will on us." This is in the best tradtion of people like Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse Tung. Nothing like a little paranoia mixed with xenophobia to bind people together and keep them in line, I always say. In fact, though, change is the name of the game in life, and a dammed up pond stagnates and becomes nasty. The same thing can happen to communities, states and regions. Inevitably, of course, some change comes about from outside influences -- some for the better, some for the worse. Such is life. Moderate-right judges have been approved aplenty over the last 25 or so years, including when Democrats and liberals were more or less in charge in the Senate -- and Lott knows it. Far-right, doctrinaire judges run into problems, but never without words they've said or written to fuel the objections to them. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have every right and some good reason to block Pickering and the other judges they've blocked. They've done just what Lott, Orrin Hatch and other Republicans have done and would do again when the situation is reversed, and Lott knows this, too -- just as surely as he knows what happened to a state-level justice named Ronnie White. There's no problem with a judge nominee being from the South, having a strong religious faith or even being somewhat conservative. The problem is when someone of those attributes skews his writings, rulings and decisions to fit an ideological template. Predicting the likelihood of someone doing that is more dark art than science, so liberals like Leahy and Schumer, and conservatives like Hatch and Lott, speak, act or vote to block, just to be on the safe side, as the record for both sides shows. Deep down somewhere, Lott knows that's true also.

Author
S.W. Anderson
Date
2003-11-16T17:56:11-06:00
ID
141139
Comment

Since there have been 168 nominated judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate (almost all of them with little or no opposition from Democrats (check the roll call votes) and only 4 of Bush's nominees blocked, I have to think that at least a portion of the confirmed ones came from the "fly over" zone. This is just more manipulative propaganda coming from the fascist element in charge these days. I don't know much about Judge Pickering or the others. Maybe the opposition to their lifetime appointments is an overreaction. Still, a reasonable view might be to pull a nominee if the candidate can't get at least 60 votes in the U.S. Senate considering that the substantial majority of these candidates get over 90 votes. But this administration won't suffer any defeats, won't make any compromises. They will fight every fight, villify any opposition, give no quarter to their opponents. They'll blow CIA agent's covers, they'll ignore contrary intelligence, they'll redistrict until they get the results they want, they'll lie and deceive through manipulative propaganda that will discredit those who criticize and oppose, and they'll relish their 5 vote margins for bills in the House - the closer the better. It's not the views of these judges that matters so much. It's not the position of the Bush administration on specific issues that is so important. It's not the position of the Republican House leadership on policy that is so disturbing. It's the way these elements choose to govern that is so dangerous.

Author
paul
Date
2003-11-17T00:18:18-06:00
ID
141140
Comment

Uh, Mr. Lott, I'm one of those who lives in a 'flyover state', in fact, right in your own state! And guess what - the 'liberals' represent my values far more than you and your party do. Please try not to pretend that MS is one monolithic state, filled with republican christians. I have many reasons for wanting my politicians and judges to be ethical and honest. And many, many more for wanting them to not be too 'religious.' Too much of mainstream religion offers certainty about what is right an wrong. And that 'certainty' has fueled many acts of horror over the centuries - including the inquisition, the crusades, the christian support of slavery, the notion that women should not be allowed voices outside the home, etc. I want politicians, and more importantly judges, to have very little certainty, and lots of questions. Also - I'm impressed Mr. Lott is publishing in the JFP. It shows some openness of mind (or strong political savvy) that he'd bother submitting items for this 'liberal rag.'

Author
Kate
Date
2003-11-17T10:50:10-06:00
ID
141141
Comment

Actually, all, don't be too impressed. I simply asked for the JFP to be added to the list of media that he sends his column to. So it's not like Mr. Lott decided to publish in the JFP. It's more like the JFP decided to publish Mr. Lott. ;-)

Author
ladd
Date
2003-11-17T13:28:57-06:00
ID
141142
Comment

Still it's kool. :-)

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-17T13:45:08-06:00
ID
141143
Comment

Well, I'm glad you're publishing him. Because I probably don't read the publications that he targets directly.

Author
Kate
Date
2003-11-17T14:22:15-06:00
ID
141144
Comment

Lott wouldn't ask to have his Op-Ed piece placed in the JFP. He wants the pieces to actually be seen by more than the mere handful of voters who read the JFP.. Ladd is on the mailing list and just prints them because she thinks it somehow enhances her credentials as this free-thinking 'progressive' who is beholden to nobody that she purports to be.

Author
VBell
Date
2003-11-17T18:56:03-06:00
ID
141145
Comment

Trent Lott: why should I even bother responding to what he says? Of all people; his views are very similar to junk mail: it is quickly deleted.

Author
Fry
Date
2003-11-17T20:15:39-06:00
ID
141146
Comment

VBell: Lott wouldn't ask to have his Op-Ed piece placed in the JFP. Philip: Really? I'd think Jeremy Rifkin (the environmentalist) would love for his views to be published in beef industry trade publications if offered the chance. After all, why preach only to the converted? Why not give Lott the benefit of the doubt. VBell: He wants the pieces to actually be seen by more than the mere handful of voters who read the JFP.. Philip: Of corse he does! He wants as many people as humanly possible to see his pieces. It's simply human nature! Again, how would Jeremy Rifkin be any different VBell: Ladd is on the mailing list and just prints them because she thinks it somehow enhances her credentials as this free-thinking 'progressive' who is beholden to nobody that she purports to be. Philip: Mind-reading at it's finest!! Why don't you ask Donna what her real reasons are (oh, I forgot! You've effectively barred any possibility that an editor will publish an article contrary to their own philosophy without any cynical motives.). Bell, just be glad that opposite points of views are published in this paper, regardless of what the motives may be.

Author
Philip
Date
2003-11-17T21:22:01-06:00
ID
141147
Comment

Fry: Trent Lott: why should I even bother responding to what he says? Of all people; his views are very similar to junk mail: it is quickly deleted. Philip: Me, I find little to agree with were Lott is concerned. Still, I think they should be read to know what your opponent thinks, if nothing else. Besides, there's always a chance that after 99 parts trash, there could be one part treasure.

Author
Philip
Date
2003-11-17T21:26:34-06:00
ID
141148
Comment

Brian, I agree with Philip. It is very important to know what folks like Lott are saying -- he's powerful, and he's speaking on OUR behalf (that's very different from someone who just spews hatred of liberals, like an Ann Coulter; she doesn't represent us so is easy to laugh at her and move on). Philip is also right about that one part treasure: If you recall, we ran a column about Lott several months back that was against the Bush/Michael Powell plan to relax FCC ownership rules. Lott was totally right on that issue. And if you simply deleted the column without reading it, you'd never know that. And Philip, re: VBell's mind-reading ... it doesn't matter. I've been doing this a long time, and there's always someone on deck to tell me what I think and try to minimize and belittle my opinion. Those people are inevitably wrong, of course, about my beliefs and my motivations and my reasoning, so their snipes don't matter to me as long as they don't hijack the dialogue. Cocaphony is part for the course when you you try to provoke ideas for a living. And that's a good thing. I shudder at the alternative. (I do appreciate your comments, though.)

Author
ladd
Date
2003-11-17T22:48:02-06:00
ID
141149
Comment

Trent Lott, love him or hate him, has been a blessing for Mississippi. He's helped save our military bases, has brought billions upon billions of dollars to Mississippi, and along with Thad Cochran, has given Mississippi much more political clout in Washington than we've ever had -- or probably will have again. Criticize him all you want, but don't dispute this -- if the man ran again, he'd get 70% of the vote.

Author
Oz Collins
Date
2003-11-17T23:14:56-06:00
ID
141150
Comment

I certainly don't dispute that Lott is popular with many Mississippians. I have always found it rather ironic, though, that a state that supposedly hates the federal government so much has both hands out to collect its pork hand-outs, and I know that Lott is good at bringing home big slabs of bacon. I do tend to think, though, that the pork greed is a two-edged sword for us, especially when the deal is having someone like Lott representing the state. My hypothetical question would be: If we set old-style politicos like Lott out to pasture, might the state fare better without the ambilical pork? That is, without all the backward garbage that comes along with Lott, and with a swift move into more modern attitudes, would we fare better on our own, attracting more bright minds and businesses whose people might actually want to live in Mississippi (including keeping or luring back our educated and creative natives, of course)? That is, I tend to think that anachronisms like Lott just contribute to our brain drain, our collective inferiority complex and, of course, the way the state looks to potential businesses and residents to help us shore up the tax base. Every time he sits up there and makes a fool of us (such as with much of the language above, spoken on behalf of all "our values" and making us look ignorant), we slip backward a bit further. And that's such a disservice to a state with so much to offer to its people and outsiders alike.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-11-18T01:38:30-06:00
ID
141151
Comment

Personally, I thought Lott was a better spokesperson for Congressional Republicans (at least he was more likeable) than the current leadership (e.g., De Lay, Santorum - an unfortunate product of my home state) so I don't think he was such an unfavorable representative for Mississippi. He was generally good humored and even got along pretty well with Daschle. His unfortunate Thurmond remark seemed more like a toss-off compliment to a retiring old man made with little thought than an expression of deeply held political views. His comment posted here is pretty silly. I'll say one thing. He's loyal. He's still shilling with fervor for the party that stabbed him in the back.

Author
paul
Date
2003-11-19T22:30:29-06:00

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