Political Discourse as it once was. Quotes from the Lincoln/Douglas debates:

"If I have reasoned to a false conclusion, it is the vocation of an able debater to show by argument that I have wandered to an erroneous conclusion."
- Abraham Lincoln, 8/21/1858

 

"I desire to address myself to your judgment, your understanding, and your consciences, and not to your passions or your enthusiasm."
- Stephen A. Douglas, 8/21/1858

 

"But I have a right to claim that if a man says he knows a thing, then he must show how he knows it. I always have a right to claim this, and it is not satisfactory to me that he may be 'conscientious' on the subject."
- Abraham Lincoln, 8/21/1858

 

 

 


Scoring


Form letter reply or no reply at all. It is not clear that anyone has even read the correspondence beyond possibly noting the topic. A complete disregard of a constituent's specific questions especially after repeated attempts. A complete lack of engagement in the democratic process.

 

Attempts to address the specific points raised by the constituent but in a demonstrably unreasoned manner, whether sincere or through deliberate rationalization.

 

 

A valid, rational argument that places truth above politics and partisanship. Fully engaged in the democratic process.


 

 

 

 


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"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government."

- Thomas Jefferson, 3/31/1809, in a letter to the Citizens of Washington County, Maryland


"I have a right to claim that if a man says he knows a thing, then he must show how he knows it. I always have a right to claim this, and it is not satisfactory to me that he may be 'conscientious' on the subject."  - Abraham Lincoln debating Stephen Douglas, 8/21/1858


Congresswoman Barbara Lee, CA

The office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee refuses to engage in the democratic process. After not engaging for two full years after repeated attempts, Barbara Lee's Legislative Director apologized for the lack of an adequate response to my queries and then also failed to reply herself. The office of Barbara Lee is either unwilling or unable to reply to my questions; neither option is worthy of an elected representative in what is supposed to be a representative democracy. (23 contacts)

Summary of Contacts:

Contact
Summary
Initial contact. Trying to engage the debate. 5/30/01
Undemocratically DisengagedMy specific questions were met with a form letter reply after I specifically requested a non-form letter reply.
Responded to the form letter.
Having received no response after an additional three months, I again requested answers to my specific questions.
An additional four months pass by with no reply to either my third or fourth queries. The current length of silence from the office of Barbara Lee now totals over nine months so I sent an additional reminder that would hopefully attract some attention.
After being ignored for 16 months I request the necessary form to meet with Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
I sent in my request to meet with the Congresswoman.
A month passed with no reply to my request to meet so I called to speak with the scheduler.
I received a call back from the scheduler.
I received a call from the person in the local office who deals with health issues.
I e-mailed my original questions to the Washington office.
After hearing nothing back after nearly two more months, I called the Washington office to see if everything was in order. I requested a return contact.
I called and spoke with Aysha House.
I phoned Aysha again after two and a half more weeks passed to see what the status of a response might be.
I again phoned Aysha House to check on the status of a reply.
I called and spoke with Aysha House. She requested that I resend the questions to her.
I again sent my original questions as requested.
I called Aysha House to confirm receipt of the requested fax and ask when I may expect a reply.
I again left a message with Aysha House concerning the requested fax.
I left another message with Aysha House.
I received a call from Julie Little, Legislative Director of the Washington office.
After not receiving the reply that the Legislative Director said would be on its way, I called to find the status of this reply.
I again did not hear back from Julie Little so I called her again.

 


First contact: To Congresswoman Barbara Lee encouraging him to engage the debate. This letter

May 30, 2001

Barbara Lee
1301 Clay Street, Suite 1000N
Oakland, CA 94612


Dear Barbara Lee,

As my representative in the U.S. Congress, I would like to better understand your pro-choice position by asking you just a few specific questions. These questions are straightforward and I would prefer answers to these questions rather than a general form letter response so that I may better understand how you represent me, your constituent.

As a rational person who is pro-life, I can find no Constitutional basis for one person’s ‘right’ to legally kill an innocent person. The 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution makes clear that all persons, regardless of citizenship, are to be protected equally by the laws. This argument presumes:

1) the pregnant woman is two individuals and not one
2) the second individual is also a person entitled to rights
3) all persons are included by the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution

If you accept these three statements then there is no other rational position but to be pro-life. As a pro-choice person you must disagree with at least one of these three statements. In summary, I would like to know which and why.


The first statement is based on the fact that our lives as individuals begin at conception/fertilization. There is overwhelming evidence to support this fact. According to U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee testimony given by numerous internationally known biologists and geneticists, the answer is clear:

“ Conception (fertilization) marks the beginning of the life of a human being ... There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological and scientific writings."
Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, 97th Congress, 1st Session 1981, p.7

Further testimony was given by Jerome Lejuene, the Father of Modern Genetics, who told lawmakers, “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion ... it is plain experimental evidence.”


Opposing testimony to these points was invited but none was received because to do so is profoundly contrary to scientific knowledge.

One does not need a degree in biology to accept this position as fact for if a new individual did not exist after conception/fertilization then a pregnancy must at some point conclude by the mother splitting into two individuals, an act of asexual reproduction. Since we each have two parents who created us at conception/fertilization, if we are not independent beings from that point on then human beings must reproduce asexually which is absurd.

My first question for you is do you believe that conception/fertilization marks the beginning of a human being’s existence? If no, please explain when this occurs and why you believe this is so.
The second statement is that unborn human beings are in fact persons entitled to rights. Being a person is not a subjective matter, as some seemingly believe; it is a matter of objective fact. Africans are persons and have always been persons even though they were not treated as such during the days of slavery. Dred Scott was factually incorrect by not recognizing the objective fact of the personhood of Africans. Those today who claim that while the unborn are human beings they are not persons are making a similar arbitrary, subjective assertion. Upon serious examination, I have never found a rational argument to support this pro-choice conclusion. Let me explain why.

You and I are persons because we are each inherently capable of thought, feeling, emotion, reason, and all of those other attributes commonly associated with persons. The unborn are also persons because they are beings that have this same inherent capacity. While they do not have the immediate capacity to demonstrate these abilities, neither do you or I while unconscious. You and I retain our personhood while unconscious because we are beings with these inherent capacities. It’s that simple. Unborn human beings are persons for the same reason that you and I are; we all have inherent capacities that distinguish us from all non-persons. We all have the being of persons so we all are persons.

While one could perhaps argue that only those individuals with blue eyes are persons, one would be hard pressed to explain why this position would not be arbitrary since it has nothing to do with being a person. The only non-arbitrary place for assigning personhood is the beginning of that individual’s existence which is conception/fertilization. Any other place ignores the inherent capacities of that being which is what defines the being for what he/she truly is, a person.

My second question is do you believe that unborn human beings, while living members of the species homo sapiens, are also persons? If no, when do they become persons and why at that time?
The third part of my position comes directly from the U.S. Constitution. The 14th amendment clearly states that all persons are to have equal protection of the laws. Since you swore an oath to uphold the Constitution I doubt that you have an issue with the 14th amendment. Do you have a different reading of this amendment?

I have given a lot of thought to this issue and have found no rational pro-choice arguments that address this fundamental issue of the personhood of the unborn. Even Roe v. Wade specifically avoids it which is absolutely inexcusable; You can’t argue that there are no victims simply by dodging the point.
In today’s political climate, being pro-choice is easy. Given the rationality of pro-life arguments that I have heard, I think that someday arguments for the choice of abortion and the choice to own slaves will be held in the same regard. The arbitrary denial of the most fundamental protections, called by our founders the “unalienable right to life and liberty,” in order to achieve one’s own ends against an innocent person is a crime against humanity. There is no Constitutional right to kill an innocent human being for one’s own benefit. (Again, Roe v. Wade specifically avoided this point and therefore can not be used as a defense.)

I am very open to a rational pro-choice argument but I’m having some difficulty finding one. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply so that I may better understand just how you are representing me in the Congress.

Sincerely,

A Private Citizen


Second contact: Received a form letter from Congresswoman Barbara Lee that, of course, did not address my specific concerns and questions.

Undemocratically Disengaged Barbara Lee's form letter reply does not address any of my stated concerns. As frequently happens, my letter is regarded simply as a statement of an opinion instead of addressing the questions that I asked.

 


 

June 30, 2001


Thank you for contacting me with your views concerning abortion. I appreciate you taking the time to write me about this subject.


While the debate surrounding abortion and a women's reproductive right is highly sensitive and complex, I respect everyone's personal conviction regarding this issue.

I am prochoice and I support a women's right to reproductive freedom. This stance is in line with the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. On January 22, 1973 Justice Blackmun delivered the opinion of the Court on Roe v. Wade, which concluded that a fetus is not a "person" under the Fourteenth Amendment and that the state may not justify restrictions on abortion. Additionally, in one of the Supreme Court's first decisions regarding the right to personal privacy in 1891, the Court ruled that, "No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others..."


It is a common goal of those on both sides on the debate to make abortions less necessary and more rare. I support family planning services that help us to accomplish this goal, as they provide women and families with vital counseling and services that prevent the need for abortions and ensure that women are educated about all of her options.


Thank you for sharing your perspective with me on this issue. I enjoyed hearing from you.


Sincerely,


Barbara Lee
Member of Congress


Third contact: My reply to Congresswoman Barbara Lee's initial form letter which did not answer any of my specific questions.

 

July 5, 2001


Barbara Lee
1301 Clay Street, Suite 1000N
Oakland, CA 94612


Dear Barbara Lee,


This is a response to your June 27, 2001 form letter sent to me in an attempt to address my concerns over your position on abortion. Unfortunately, I can not tell if anyone actually read my letter because in the first paragraph I had mentioned that I had three specific questions that I would like answered and that I did not wish to receive a form letter in reply. Your form letter did not answer my questions and so I am giving you another opportunity to do so. My questions should be easily answered by anyone who has a strong opinion on the matter, such as you.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply so that I may better understand just how you are representing me in Congress.
My previous letter is enclosed.

Sincerely,

A Private Citizen



Fourth contact: Having received no response after an additional three months, I again requested answers to my specific questions.

 

October 6, 2001


Barbara Lee
1301 Clay Street, Suite 1000N
Oakland, CA 94612

Dear Barbara Lee,

On June 27, 2001 you replied to my May 30th letter to you regarding abortion. Unfortunately, your form letter did not address any of the questions that I had asked you on the subject and after asking again for a clarification on July 5th I have not yet received a reply.


Discussion between a constituent and their representative is an essential part of a democracy. A form letter reply is not a discussion.

I have enclosed my original letter and would like to give you another opportunity to reply or perhaps we should schedule some time to get together to discuss this issue. I am asking for answers to only a few simple questions that anyone with an opinion as strongly held as yours should be able to quickly answer. Thank you.

Sincerely,

A Private Citizen


Fifth contact: An additional four months pass by with no reply to either my third or fourth queries. The current length of silence from the office of Barbara Lee now totals over nine months so I sent an additional reminder that would hopefully attract some attention.

 


February 2, 2002


Barbara Lee
1301 Clay Street, Suite 1000N
Oakland, CA 94612


Re: Your position on slavery

I simply can not understand your continued support for slavery. Clearly, the evidence that slaves are fellow human beings is scientifically incontrovertible and they are deserving of the dignity and respect due all persons as guaranteed by the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The founders of the Feminist movement, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were completely opposed to slavery precisely because they believed that by definition there could be no exceptions to 'equality'. By simply ignoring the humanity of the slave you do not justify your position; you are merely masking a terrific injustice.

I would like to point out that as shocking as the above paragraph sounds today it is exactly like your position on abortion and every statement is just as true. Please read it again with this in mind:


I simply can not understand your continued support for abortion. Clearly, the evidence that the unborn are fellow human beings is scientifically incontrovertible and they are deserving of the dignity and respect due all persons as guaranteed by the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The founders of the Feminist movement, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were completely opposed to abortion precisely because they believed that by definition there could be no exceptions to 'equality'. By simply ignoring the humanity of the unborn you do not justify your position; you are merely masking a terrific injustice.

I have twice now (in letters dated 5/30/01 and 10/6/01) asked you three simple questions concerning your position on the humanity and protections due the unborn and you have not replied. I will give you one more opportunity to reply in writing (original letter is enclosed) before I make an appointment with your office so that you can explain in person your support of slavery and its equivalent. As the person who purports to represent me in Congress, I do not believe I am asking too much.

Sincerely,

A Private Citizen

Sixth contact: After being ignored for 16 months I request to meet with Congresswoman Barbara Lee..

October 24, 2002


After 16 months of being ignored I called the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee and requested the necessary form in order to set up an appointment with her.


Seventh contact: I sent in my request to meet with the Congresswoman.

October 25, 2002

I filled out the obligatory form and sent in my request to meet with the Congresswoman.


Eighth contact:A month passed with no reply to my request to meet so I called to speak with the scheduler.

November 26, 2002

After another month of being ignored I called the office and left a message for the scheduler, Sandra Andrews, to see what the status of my requested meeting was.


Ninth contact: I received a call back from the scheduler.

November 26, 2002

The scheduler returned my call and said that I would be contacted by the person in charge of health issues, Michael Rubiano. After seven straight contacts, this is the first response that I received from this office in 17 months.


Tenth contact: I received a call from the person in the local office who deals with health issues.

November 26, 2002

Michael Rubiano, the person in Congresswoman Barbara Lee's local office in charge of health issues, gave me a call and he asked what my specific questions for the Congresswoman were. After detailing them at some length he felt that these were very good questions and that I should send them to the Washington office to the attention of Aysha House as a policy/legislative question for an official reply. He did not attempt to reply to these questions in any capacity.


Eleventh contact: I e-mailed my original questions to the Washington office.

February 5, 2003

Now almost 21 months into this process, I find myself sending my original questions to another recipient. I e-mailed my original questions to the attention of Aysha House in the Washington office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee.


Twelfth contact: After hearing nothing back after nearly two more months, I called the Washington office to see if everything was in order. I requested a return contact.

March 31, 2003

 

After hearing nothing back after nearly two more months, I called the Washington office to see if everything was in order. I requested a return contact by leaving a message for Aysha House.


Thirteenth contact: I called and spoke with Aysha House.

April 11, 2003

I called and spoke with Aysha House concerning my letter. She said that she remembers having seen the letter and said that she would look into it. I again left my contact information.


Fourteenth contact: I phoned Aysha again after two and a half more weeks passed to see what the status of a response might be.

April 28, 2003

I phoned Aysha House again and left her a voicemail concerning the status of the requested response. I again left contact information.


Fifteenth contact: I again phoned Aysha House to check on the status of a reply.

April 30, 2003

I again phoned Aysha House to check on the status of a reply. I again left contact information.


Sixteenth contact: I called and spoke with Aysha House. She requested that I resend the questions to her.

May 8, 2003

I spoke with Aysha House who again asked that I send the same questions to her again, questions that I had now originally sent to the office of Barbara Lee almost 2 full years ago and which I have resent on multiple occasions.


Seventeenth contact: I again sent my original questions as requested.

May 9, 2003

I again sent my original questions (via fax) to the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, this time almost two years since I had first sent them.


Eighteenth contact: I called Aysha House to confirm receipt of the requested fax and ask when I may expect a reply.

May 16, 2003

I called Aysha House to confirm receipt of the requested fax and ask when I may expect a reply. I again left contact information although this office has not yet used it.


Nineteenth contact: I again left a message with Aysha House concerning the requested fax.

May 20, 2003

I again left a message with Aysha House concerning the requested fax. I again left contact information.


Twentieth contact: I left another message with Aysha House.

May 27, 2003

I left another message with Aysha House detailing how difficult it is to get a response from the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee after two years and suggested that a common courtesy contact was in order.


Twenty first contact: I received a call from Julie Little, Legislative Director of the Washington office.

May 30, 2003

I received a phone call from Julie Little, Legislative Director of the Washington office, who told me that she would send a reply next week. She apologized for the delay in a response.


Twenty second contact: After not receiving the reply that the Legislative Director said would be on its way, I called to find the status of this reply.

June 20, 2003

After not receiving the reply that the Legislative Director, Julie Little, said would be on its way, I called to find the status of this reply. I left Julie a message.


Twenty third contact: I again did not hear back from Julie Little so I called her again.

June 25, 2003

I again did not hear back from Julie Little so I called her again and left her a message. I asked if this was indeed the end. I have not heard back.


I have not heard back from the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee. She remains disengaged from the democratic process.


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