2008 reasons to elect a progressive president in 2008
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  • Values

    1. To be progressive is to have hope for America and for Americans. Progressives believe that the best way for America to be great is for America to be good, but don't make the mistake of thinking that America is as good as it can get. We want to make America even better, and closer to the values upon which it was founded. A progressive President won't slouch down into what's convenient. A progressive President will seek to lift America up by doing what's right.

    2. There were some awfully peculiar consequences of the recent gay marriage ban that was passed by voters in Ohio in 2004 - and when I say "awfully peculiar" I put emphasis on the "awful".

      A public defender in Ohio has used the anti-gay constitutional amendment there to request the dismissal of domestic violence charges against unmarried defendents. The legal logic is that unmarried couples cannot have the same rights of married couples in Ohio - even if those unmarried couples are heterosexual. The ban on gay marriage proves that. (National Law Journal, January 31, 2005)

    3. One of the critical values in the progressive political ethic is the ability to distinguish wants and needs. Progressives know the difference between what we really have to have and what we just like to have. It is this knowledge that enables progressives to realize that almost nobody actually needs a sport utility vehicle.

      In response to this progressive claim, the voice of SUV owners rises in uniform protest: You liberals just don't get it! I really do need my SUV!

      Is this true? Are the right wingers right?

      Let's think back a few years now, to the 1980s. Back in the 1980s, very few people claimed that they needed sport utility vehicles. They didn't know what a sport utility vehicle even was, and if you had told people you had an SUV, they might have thought you were talking about the latest music video channel on cable TV. Back then, the only people who had SUVs were people who made nature documentaries in remote places without good roads, like the plains of Africa.

      In spite of this lack of SUVs, we got along. We didn't need SUVs back then.

      Thousands of years ago, before they knew about reading and writing, and before they even had metal tools, the people of Western Europe erected tens of thousands of megalithic structures using stones that each weighed many tons. They didn't need SUVs to do it.

      Ah, but you need your SUV to carry things, right? Well, do you? What do you carry home in your SUV that you couldn't put into a car? You new big screen plasma digital HD television set? Is that a need?

      I have a theory about TV sets. Televisions are like goldfish. Goldfish grow to fit the size of the body of water they live in. Keep a goldfish in a 5 gallon aquarium, and it will remain small. Put that same goldfish in a backyard pond, and it may grow ten times as large.

      Television sets, in the same way seem to expand to the size of the vehicles we have available to carry them home in. I remember when people thought of a 19-inch television set as large. Now, this size is regarded as small. We've developed 40-inch television sets as the new standard of big just a few years after we developed the SUV to carry it home in.

      Coincidence? I don't think so.

      Right wingers say that people need SUVs to carry home big things like large plasma screen television sets, but progressives have a long enough memory to realize that big screen TVs, and the vehicles that can carry them into America's driveways, are wants, not needs. We need a President of the United States who has this kind of historical memory as a check to the latest faddish ideas about reality. That's why, in 2008, America needs to elect a progressive president.

    4. The progressive creed: Allow everybody to think and say what they want, so long as they understand that they may be criticized for it, but do not allow people to dictate to others how they must live their lives, so long as what they're doing doesn't injure anybody else in a material way

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    5. Right wingers are using your tax dollars to support right wing fundamentalist Christian sermons about religion.

      The Northwest Marriage Institute has received approximately $100,000 from the federal government. That money is being used to promote a program that instructs couples to comply with fundamentalist theology, and promotes the Christian Bible as the ultimate authority on how married couples must behave. The Northwest Marriage Institute's program promises to seek to establish "Christian marriages, to "provide faith-based education in marriage and other related subjects", and to "promote successful biblical principles for everyday living." The goal of the program is to preach fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs about marriage to people who choose not to attend church - to proselytize to nonbelievers. The program's outreach efforts include marriage retreats at which couples are lectured about "how God made you", and seminars where couples are preached to about "God's plan for a healthy marriage".

      Think all of this is just means to a positive end? From a right wing Christian fundamentalist attitude, it might seem positive, but many Americans would disagree strongly with the Northwest Marriage Institute's use of government money to promote the belief that wives must allow their husbands to dominate them because "the Bible says that the wife should submit to the husband". Many Americans would also be disturbed to discover that the American government is now funding a program that instructs people that God does "not allow couples to be involved in pre-marital sex." That's a faith-based belief if I've ever seen one. If God, supposedly the all-powerful ruler of the universe, doesn't allow pre-marital sex, then how come so many people are doing it?

      Keep in mind what the phrase "faith-based" really means. "Faith-based" means "religious". These are religious agendas that the government is funding, and not just programs that support religion in general, but particular, narrow, religious beliefs that are not held by large numbers of Christian Americans, much less non-Christian Americans. The government is using the Office of Faith Based initiatives to promote right wing religion over other beliefs about religion, and that kind of activity is explicitly forbidden in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

      The right wingers believe that your tax dollars ought to be used to help fundamentalists preach their religion's repressive values across America. Progressives believe that it's not the business of government to fund religious culture wars. Progressive values hold that Americans have the right to decide what they believe about religion on their own, without government interference. That's why we need to vote to elect a progressive President in 2008.

    6. Batman Begins is a popular movie for people who are seeking a little escapism. However, Batman Begins just doesn't seem to fit the prevailing mood across America right now. What kind of movie would be more appropriate for 2005? How about Batman Gets Bogged Down?

      The really pathetic thing about Bruce Wayne is his idea that if he just gets more and more power, he'll finally be able to vanquish evil and make up for the death of his parents. Of course, it never works. Batman never gets happy. When does Batman put on a happy, sunny yellow suit and sip a lemonade. It doesn't happen. Batman gets stuck in his cave. President Bush is making all America live in a bat cave. I, for one, am sick of the dank mold and stinky piles of guano.

      President Bush is seeming more and more like Bruce Wayne, obsessed with violent vengeance against his enemies, and unable to see that the more he goes around the law to attack criminals, the more criminal he becomes himself. Like Bruce Wayne, George W. Bush seems to think that if he just gets enough power, and overcomes the liberals who stand in the way of his power grab, he will finally be able to eliminate all evil from the world in one massive war against every corner of the world where people are doing bad things. It's no wonder that Bush is trying to build new nuclear bombs. They're just his own megalomaniacal version of the Batmobile.

    7. Just as my discouragement reached a high point, I received a phone call from an outfit called Citizens United, with a "one-question research poll."

      The "one-question research poll" turned out to be a recorded message from the president of Citizens United, which calls itself "America's premier conservative research organization." In this recorded message directed against the American Civil Liberties Union, Citizens United made the claims that the ACLU supports "man-boy sex" and that the ACLU is trying to "protect the civil rights of the terrorists at Guantanamo."

      The first claim is, of course, a lie. The American Civil Liberties Union does not support "man-boy sex." The ACLU supports the speech rights of groups of citizens, even when the message of those groups of citizens is unpopular and considered distasteful to most of us.

      The second claim pulls a slick trick, referring to those held at Guantanamo as "terrorists" when that has not been established, either in a court of law or in any public governmental hearing. They are not even "alleged terrorists" because no legal charges alleging anything have been brought against these people. They are, perhaps, "assumed terrorists," but that they are terrorists has not been proven. As a matter of fact, hundreds of detainees have been released from Guantanamo, presumably not because they are terrorists. Even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that not all Guantanamo detainees are terrorists. Should people have their civil rights taken away from them because some powerful person decides to assume they are a terrorist? The conservatives say, sure, why not? Progressive knows why not - America's traditional values of law under the Constitution are at stake.

      I have to give some back-handed thanks to Citizens United for slapping me out of my discouraged stupor. They've helped me to remember the central issue: that the United States of America, the most powerful and heavily armed nation in the world, is in the hands of a band of no-account, immoral, ignorant, aggressive, hubristic, out-of-control, downright dangerous people. If we want to keep this nation and this planet safe and free, then those of us in America who give a shit and who've got a say in how things are done are going to have to keep speaking up, keep raising uncomfortable questions, and keep making it difficult for the conservatives to dismantle our constitutional democratic republic.

    8. Real moral values don't have to do with abstract ideas about invisible supernatural beings, or adherence to rules set down thousands of years ago on moldy scrolls. Real moral values have to do with the way that we actually behave in the world. Progressives are making practical headway in the political struggle over the environment not just because their arguments are grounded in scientific facts and logic, but also because their cause is rooted in the moral value of environmental self-responsibility.

      The right wing tries to convince people that we can have it all, that we can do whatever we want to, without paying any price. Progressives, however, look at the environmental consequences of our actions, and then ask us to do what must be done to protect the integrity of the Earth's biosphere for future generations. Right wing spin says that our environment is beyond our control. Progressives say that we have the power to change our world, and the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of the change that we create.

      Andrew Myers, Senior Editor of the Ocean Conservancy's magazine, Blue Planet, writes,
      "The issues of global climate change are very much in the media these days, a daily drizzle of reports shows this or that outcome tied to rising atmospheric and oceanic temperatures. After almost two months of focusing intensively on the issue, what I learned is that very few scientists dispute global climate change is occurring and, if we don't do something soon, serious consequences will result... In the end, what I learned most is that each of us - you, me, and the next person - must absorb these stories then look into the mirror and issue a resolute, 'Mea culpa.' No more praying for a panacea. No more waiting for science to save us from complacency. No more passing the buch. Then, we must each turn from the mirror and accept the personal sacrifices it will take to get us out of this mess."

      The moral value of environmental self-responsibility, as exhibited in what Andrew Myers has written, challenges us to stop blaming everyone else for the environmental crisis we now face, and to make sacrifices in our own lives to make up for our own blame. Our survival demands that we meet that challenge. (Source: Blue Planet, Fall 2006)

    9. Under the leadership of right wing politicians in the Republican and Democratic parties, the United States become more intolerant than South Africa, the nation which ended apartheid less than a generation ago. The nation of South Africa now embraces racial equality, but it doesn't stop there. In November of 2006, South Africa's Parliament voted in favor of a Civil Union law that gives same-sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

      Here in the United States, our Congress has refused to grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Even that refusal isn't nasty enough for them, though. Right wingers are seeking an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America that would override the right to equal protection under the law and make it a crime for same-sex couples to get married.

      It used to be known that the United States of America was known around the world as a nation that valued equality for all people. The growing power of right wing Republicans and Democrats, however, has led us into moral decay. For the sake of America's traditional progressive civic values, we need to elect a progressive President who will promote the restoration of the ethic of equality in American culture. (Source: Reuters, November 15, 2006)

    10. Right wing religious groups are so afraid of anyone who deviates from their narrow cultural vision that they're lashing out against cartoon characters. The American Family Association has accused the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants of secretly promoting a homosexual agenda. The main character of that cartoon is a sea sponge. Can sponges have homosexual agendas? (Source: MSNBC, January 21, 2005)

    11. In early 2005, the officials in the Bush Administration quietly let it be known that the President has it in for science. George W. Bush plans to completely remove all funding from a scheduled repair and upgrade of the Hubble Space Telescope, a piece of scientific equipment that has been dramatically successful at promoting human knowledge. Under the Bush plan, the Hubble Space Telescope will simple be allowed to fall apart, and the scientific research being conducted with the telescope will be put to a stop.

      What does the Bush Administration plan to do with the money it will save by allowing the Hubble Space Telescope to fall into disrepair? Well, a big chunk of that money is scheduled to be redirected to the Catholic Church in California, to pay for the repair of its churches.

      Catholic dioceses in California are going on the government dole because they're having hard financial times. This religious welfare from the Bush Administration will help the Catholic leadership in California make up for the big losses from payments the Church made in order to keep little boys and girls from reporting sexually molesting priests to the police. In one California County alone, the local diocese paid one hundred million dollars in settlements to keep its priests out of jail for sexual assault.

      It's all about values, they say. Well, what kind of values destroy successful scientific research in order to provide taxpayer money to enable California Catholic churches to stay out of bankruptcy after paying hush money in order to cover-up a huge conspiracy of the sexual molestation of children?

      I don't know what James Dobson calls 'em, but they're not family values, that's for sure. The best description I can come up with for the Bush Administration's version of morality is medieval values. (Sources: CNN, January 21, 2005; Americans United for Separation of Church and State)

    12. When it comes to party politics, progressives are proudly disloyal. It isn't that we progressives value disloyalty in itself. Rather, we progressives value loyalty to our principles over our loyalty to politicians.

      Right wingers show the opposite kind of values. They value authority for the sake of authority, regardless of whether people in positions of authority do what's right. The way right wingers see it, people owe loyalty to powerful politicians above all else. This strange, backwards perspective on the relationship of morality and authority in politics is revealed by the likes of Fred Meyer, the former chairman of the Republican Party in Texas, when he proclaimed to a gathering of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, "Not supporting the president on the high percentage of issues would be a mistake, because people value loyalty."

      People value loyalty? Well, I suppose that's true, but not in such an abstract sense, so divorced from the reality of what people are being asked to be loyal to. The right wing Southern Republican Leadership Conference demands that people support powerful leaders just because of their power. Progressives, on the other hand, value speaking truth to power when those in power are in the wrong. Electing a progressive candidate to the White House in 2008 would help to change the political culture in Washington D.C. from one in which power is valued for its own sake to a rejuvenating position in which people are encouraged to remain loyal to what they believe in, whether or not people in power agree. (Source: Washington Post, March 12, 2006)

    13. Maggie Gallagher is a conservative welfare queen. Not content to write fawning essays about the Bush Administration at the ordinary rate of pay for a syndicated columnist for the United Press Syndicate, Gallagher apparently signed a couple of juicy contracts to get tens of thousands of dollars straight from the Bush Administration - to do what she was already doing.

      Conservative newspaper columnists like Maggie Gallagher have complained for ages about ordinary Americans getting any kind of assistance from the government. They say that when people get help from the government, they turn lazy. Yet, Americans are quickly learning that many conservatives have been paid taxpayers' money to write articles praising Bush Administration policies.

      In the case of Maggie Gallagher, the Bush Administration paid over 41 thousand dollars. What did the Bush Administration get? In return for a government check, Gallagher signed a contract that obligated her to promote a Bush Administration pro-marriage plan.

      There's irony all over with this story, but here's the peach that really catches my eye. The policy that Maggie Gallagher was paid by the Bush Administration to promote was centered around a program through which agents of the federal government would nag poor people to get married. This policy comes after a generation of Republican ideology that held that poor people are ruined by checks from big government entitlement programs. So, under the program that Maggie Gallagher was paid to write about, the government stopped helping out poor people, but now comes to their doorsteps to tell them how to lead their private lives. It's an odd thing that Republicans like Maggie Gallagher always complain about big government, but think it's a really good idea to have federal bureaucrats telling Americans when they ought to get married. (Source: Editor and Publisher, January 27, 2005)

    14. In November, 2006, Plan B emergency contraceptives finally became available over the counter to anyone who is over the age of 18. This end to restricted availability came only after years of resistance from Bush Administration appointees on the FDA. In 2004, the FDA voted to deny over the counter availability of Plan B, even though a special FDA advisory committee had recommended the increased availability.

      So, the White House has opposed emergency family planning. It's all gung ho, on the other hand, in support of family emergency planning. A couple weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security released a new series of advertisements promoting "family emergency planning." The idea is that families ought to be holding conferences and assembling kits just in case some unpredictable emergency strikes.

      Such planning is all well and good, I suppose, but it doesn't make much sense to prepare for unpredictable, unlikely emergencies while at the same time trying to block access to supplies people need to deal with predictable, likely emergencies like unwanted pregnancy. Yes, let's have family emergency planning, but we need emergency family planning too. (Sources: Department of Homeland Security press release, November 14, 2006; Washington Post, January 5, 2004; Journal of the American Medical Association, January 5, 2004; Associated Press, November 25, 2006)

    15. The moral difference between right wingers and progressives was illustrated by comments made by Religious Right activist James Dobson after the revelations that evangelist Ted Haggard had been hiring a male prostitute and buying methamphetamines. "Those again on the liberal end of the spectrum are those who have no value system," Dobson declared.

      Well, that's just plain silly. As our list of reasons to vote for a progressive President in 2008 based on progressive values shows, liberals have plenty of moral values. The difference between us and right wingers is that we don't claim that our political opponents have no moral values. We just claim that our political opponents have the wrong moral values, and we work to explain why.

      We cannot afford anymore to have a government that follows James Dobson's policy of denying the moral focus of its political opponents. That's why we need to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Source: Rocky Mountain News, November 23, 2006)

    16. Why vote for a progressive president in 2008? Because the allies of our regressive president are really, really, really scary when they tell you what they really, really, really think.

      There's a spurt of right-wing pundits out there writing "lemme tell ya what I really think" pieces, in a wave of frustration leading from the losses of the 2006 elections. Spouting the Republican Party line for years, and all for nothing, must be maddening. It's like selling your soul, and then finding out that you're getting paid in Monopoly money. So as a purgative, Bush's allies are trying out sincerity. They're telling you what they really think. And what they really think betrays the unAmerican agenda of this country's regressives.

      Take, for instance, Dennis Prager, radio host and newspaper columnist syndicated through Townhall.com. In his latest column, Prager reflects on the election of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress:

      "Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.

      He should not be allowed to do so ? not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization. First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism ? my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

      Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress?.

      When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble."


      Dennis Prager really, sincerely believes that the job of government is to maintain Christianity's advantageous position. Dennis Prager really, sincerely believes that "American values" is equivalent to "Christian values." Dennis Prager really, sincerely believes that "America is interested in only one book, the Bible."

      Dennis Prager really, sincerely doesn't care that the Constitution's First Amendment prohibits the use of government to establish an advantaged state religion. Dennis Prager really, sincerely doesn't care that Section Six, Clause three of the Constitution reads, "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." Dennis Prager really, sincerely doesn't care that nowhere in the Constitution is the Bible specified as the object upon which members of Congress (or, for that matter, ANY member of government) will swear their oath of office.

      Dennis Prager doesn't care about the Constitution because he doesn't believe in the value of the Constitution as a foundational American document. Dennis Prager claims that the Christian Bible stands above the Constitution as a foundational American document. Dennis Prager is a real, sincere theocrat, and he exemplifies "the base" pundits refer to when they talk about regressive American presidential candidates. If Prager's vision for America isn't your vision for America, then it is important for us to support candidates who stand up for the Constitution. To prevent theocracy, we must vote progressive. (Source: Dennis Prager column of November 28, 2006: America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on)


    17. Ever since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Republicans have been pushing Americans to wallow in the memory of that day's suffering. Helen Keller had better advice: "Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world." It is time for America to stop moaning and feeling sorry for itself, and get back to the work of doing good in the world.

    18. You may be making a choice in your mind between voting for a progressive candidate whose values you believe in and a candidate whose values do not match yours, but who you've been told "can win." This is an appeal that DC insiders often use to promote their "pragmatic" candidates. The election of 2004 should be instructive in this regard. The experience we all had with John Kerry shows that sometimes, candidates who "can win" actually cannot win. And George W. Bush's victory demonstrates that voters are willing to elect someone with an ideological agenda (albeit a misguided one) so long as it is promoted by someone who can project the appearance of resolve and confidence in that agenda. A lot of Americans want a leader who sets the agenda, not a sheep who follows the wind.

      Do you hold your progressive values with confidence in your heart? Do you show that confidence, or do you cloak it? Throw off the cloak. Be who you are, and don't be afraid to show confidence in your progressive ideals. It takes both moral and interpersonal courage sometimes, especially for those who espouse a value set that celebrates the right of people to express different opinions. But people includes you; you get to speak up just as much as those who disagree with you. So speak up in this new presidential election season and let people know in forums large and small just what matters to you. Then expect the same of your presidential candidates. Let's look for someone who knows what she or he believes, can articulate those beliefs, and doesn't spend all day bending over backwards and apologizing for holding them. Let's do what we can to support an honest, forthright and robust progressive candidate for president.


    19. Republicans keep pushing the idea that Americans all need to be alike, that our nation will fall apart unless we maintain uniformity. A more wise American, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, offered the following thought as an alternative: "America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered." Progressives believe that Justice Brandeis was correct, and that our prosperity and progress comes from our diversity not bland conformity.

    20. We need to put a progressive in the White House as a matter of pure competence. The regressives in and around the White House have been awfully busy trying to stop people because they aren't the right category of person. John Kerry, operatives said, "looks French," and a reporter breaking a news story was not to be trusted because he was a "Gay Canadian." While it fusses about the wrong sort of person tracking in on the political carpet, America's regressive White House has let its attention slip from matters of actual substance, like the economy and two certain wars in south central Asia. Wouldn't it be nice to have some actual policy wonks in the White House again? Progressives are itching to implement a range of policy solutions to actual substantive problems facing the nation. Let's give them a chance to get to it. (Sources: Washington Post, March 22, 2004 and the Toronto Star, July 19, 2003)

    21. Progressives favor using human life instead of throwing it away in a manner that helps no one. That's a fundamental moral value that counters the absurd conservative religious contention that the only proper things to do with frozen embryos are either to implant them to become babies in the wombs of volunteers who want to become the mothers to other people's children, or to throw the frozen embryos out in the garbage.

      The clear truth is that there are not anywhere close to enough women to become mothers for all the frozen embryos in the United States. Developmental biologist James Thomson explains, "The bottom line is that there are 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States, and a large percentage of those are going to be thrown out. Regardless of what you think the moral status of those embryos is, it makes sense to me that it's a better moral decision to use them to help people than just to throw them out."

      There are not 400,000 women in the United States volunteering to become mothers to these frozen embryos. Even according to the anti-stem cell research group Embryo Adoption Campaign, the most successful organizations that work to get frozen embryos implanted in volunteer women's wombs only manage about 40 embryos per year. So, the genuine moral choice for dealing with the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos that exist and continue to be produced as a by-product of in vitro fertilization is between throwing them away like garbage or working with them to develop and implement therapies for people suffering from grave illnesses.

      Right wingers ignore the reality of that moral decision. Progressives, on the other hand, have the wisdom to accept the reality of an imperfect situation and bring the most help to the most people out of it. Presidents must deal with constrained moral choices like this everyday. We need a new President with the flexibility to accept that abstract moral concepts do not always fit the reality of our world. We need a new President who has the wisdom to make the better moral choice, even when a perfect moral choice does not exist. (Sources: Embryo Adoption Campaign Legal FAQs; MSNBC, June 25, 2005)

    22. Since the turn of the 21st century, Christian fundamentalists have been dedicating extra energy in their effort to infuse public school science curricula with religious teachings. They succeeded for a time in places like Dover, Pennsylvania and the entire state of Kansas. Under the umbrella of the Republican Party, they've been running candidates for state education offices who have promise to put Creation teaching first. It is only through the dedicated efforts of scientists and their progressive pro-science allies that religious teachings have been turned back. As religious fundamentalists strive to gain theocratic control over our children's education again, we need a progressive in the White House who can use her or his powers of office to shape policy and start national conversations about the value of and rationality and observation in education. (Sources: New York Times, November 15, 2005 and The Daily O'Collegian, November 3, 2006)

    23. Bill O'Reilly and other authoritarian media personalities have taken to using the term "secular progressives" as a pejorative term. If you listen to Mr. O'Reilly long enough, you might be forgiven for thinking that "secular progressives" -- that is, people who value the principles of the Constitution, believe religion should be kept out of government, and think that government can accomplish positive things in America -- are out to eat your children, burn your grandmother, and invite terrorists to tea. A new president can counter the fearmongering by showing the country the real, highly effective, not at all monstrous face of secular progressive politics. (Source: Bill O'Reilly Talking Points, December 24, 2004)

    24. George W. Bush comes from a powerful oil industry family, so it's worth taking note when a respected energy analyst declares of President Bush, "He's just beng told what to say by his minions."

      This short statement, made by Charley Maxwell, a senior energy analyst for the investment firm Weeden and Company, shows how out of touch with progressive values right wing politicians have become. First of all, we progressives don't believe in the idea of minions. A minion is an obsequious, grovelling subordinate. We progressives prefer to build teams composed of confident, competent people who are willing to contribute without fear or sycophantic behavior.

      Progressives also value politicians who can think for themselves. We don't like figureheads who are told what to say and do by teams of toadies who prefer to stay behind the scenes.

      We progressives are tired of seeing a White House filled with cringing, manipulative schemers. We want a progressive President because we want a White House that works above the board. (Sources: On Earth, Winter 2007; American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition)

    25. Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, is unmarried and pregnant, and doesn't even know who the father of the child is. She's in love, but Republicans where she lives won't allow her to get married.

      Psst. It's because she's a lesbian.

      There's no problem being a lesbian parent, in itself. There is a lesbian couple down the street from me who have a three year-old little girl and are soon going to give birth to a new baby. Across town, there's another lesbian couple who has adopted two young boys, one of whom is the playmate of my son. Both couples want to be married, but they aren't allowed to be, by laws that are preserved by right wing Republicans.

      Right wingers are preventing single mothers from getting married, even when those single mothers are in committed, stable relationships with people who love their kids. What kind of screwy moral values are those? They're anti-family moral values, that's what they are.

      They're also unconstitutional moral values. The Constitution explicitly states that all people must have equal protection under the law. It is therefore clearly unconstitutional to deny some families the legal right of getting married just because right wing activists don't like who they want to get married to.

      True progressives are not afraid to support the equal legal rights of lesbians and gays to marry the people whom they love, and with whom they have children. (Source: Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2006)

    26. While many American right wingers value women who are silent and subservient, progressives have a different kind of moral values. We think that the right thing to do is to establish societies in which women are regarded under the law as the equals of men, able to enjoy the same freedoms as men.

      Therefore, we progressives are disturbed to discover that, as a result of the Iraq War started by American right wingers, women in Iraq have experienced a substantial degradation in their freedoms. One Iraqi woman, describing the new attempts to restrict the rights of women in Iraq, explains, "I try to avoid leaving my home, and when I do, I always cover my face. Several of my friends have been threatened or beaten by these Shia militias who insist we stay home and never show our faces."

      We deserve a President who won't support wars that result in the degradation of the rights of women. The Iraq War's tragic impact on the lives of Iraqi women shows that we cannot trust Republicans and pro-war Democrats in this regard. (Source: Inter Press Service, December 5, 2006)

    27. "Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn't block traffic."

      Former CBS newsman Dan Rather is credited with this quotation, although I am unable to find any reference to a definitive source, which means this quotation may be apocryphal. But it doesn't matter whether Dan Rather really said these words or not. What matters is that enough people agree with the sentiment behind statement to have transformed it from words that someone said to the immortal status of the quotable quote.

      Prove them wrong. Follow your dreams, and don't put up with your nightmares any longer. Vote your hopes, vote your ideals. Vote progressive in 2008.

    28. The right wing has led the USA into a position in which we Americans are now receiving lectures from the leader of the United Nations on the need for a return to moral virtues. On December 11, 2006, Kofi Annan gave a speech in Independence, Missouri in which he gave the following advice to the American government:
      "Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity. As Truman said, "We must, once and for all, prove by our acts conclusively that Right Has Might." That's why this country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.

      And states need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens. That can sometimes be inconvenient, but ultimately what matters is not inconvenience. It is doing the right thing. No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose - for broadly shared aims - in accordance with broadly accepted norms.

      No community anywhere suffers from too much rule of law; many do suffer from too little - and the international community is among them. This we must change.

      The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level. As Harry Truman said, "We all have to recognize, no matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please."

      The right wing has become the voice of allowing the government to do whatever feels good at the moment. We progressives are now the moral conscience of America, calling upon our leaders to restrain their self-gratification in order to do what's right. (Source: United Nations Secretary General, Office of the Spokesman, December 11, 2006)

    29. Progressives value diversity not just because it's the right thing to allow freedom of conscience. We also value diversity because a world in which diversity exists is simply more entertaining. It's no fun to live in a world where everyone is the same. It's like what Mark Twain once wrote in his novel Pudd'nhead Wilson: "It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races."

    30. One essential difference between progressives and non-progressives is that progressives don't believe in the magical power of rituals of human sacrifice. Many non- progressives do.

      Oh, non-progressives don't say that they believe in the magical power of rituals of human sacrifice. They phrase it differently. They say that holding executions has a special power to make the world a better place.

      The clear reality is that killing prisoners doesn't make the world better. The prisoners are already held prisoner, after all, and are already rendered incapable of inflicting further harm on society. The crimes that the prisoners have been convicted for are already in the past, and can never be undone.

      Yet, people who support the idea of the ritual of executing prisoners don't seem concerned with the obvious lack of tangible benefits of the executions. They claim that there are extraordinary benefits from the rituals that are so unconnected with reality that they can only be explained as a kind of magic.

      George W. Bush's celebration of that the ritual killing of Saddam Hussein is a prime example. President Bush claims that hanging Saddam Hussein from a noose will transform Iraq into a secure, stable democracy, saying, "it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror." The reality is that hanging a person until dead has no power to make an undemocratic nation into a democratic one.

      It is as if George W. Bush and other non-progressives like him believe that the psychological power of killing another person can magically be transformed into a tool for improving society. It is as if they believe that by taking away the life of one person, a government can add that person's power to its own.

      Progressives don't believe in this kind of magic, and don't support ritual human sacrifices. Progressives recognize the simple truth expressed by Sophy Haynes, mother of Schuyler Haynes, a soldier killed in Iraq. Commenting on the execution of Saddam Hussein, Sophy Haynes stated plainly, "It has no meaning. We went into a place that I don't believe we had any business going into."

      Progressives don't support using the power of government to conduct rituals of dark magic such as public executions. Progressives oppose human sacrifice to an invisible God of Justice. (Sources: New York Daily News, December 31, 2006; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, December 31, 2006)

    31. It took only 31 minutes for the Republicans to start the racist attacks against Barack Obama. At 7:27 PM on January 27, 2007 we published an article at Irregular Times about a leak from Senator Barack Obama's staff indicating that Obama will be running for President of the United States in 2008.

      At 7:58 PM that same evening, an anonymous reader left a comment at that article stating that Barack Obama's campaign for President is just "typical black behavior trying to 'move up' in the world before he knows better to really do it".

      The right wing shows us, by their hateful, outdated, knee-jerk attacks against Barack Obama exactly why it is so important to elect a progressive President in 2008. Opponents of progressive policies are ready to appeal to the most ugly aspects of human nature in order to hold onto their power. Progressive values are firm on this matter: Ethnic hatred is morally wrong.

    32. Progressives don't just believe that activism is a good thing. We believe that, in time of need, activism is essential. Our regard for action against unjust authority is represented in the words Mark Twain wrote in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: "The citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor."

    33. Some people ask what the progressive vision for America is. I have a simple image for them to consider: Replacing weapons of mass destruction with wild animals.

      That's what's happening in Colorado, at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. Where there once was a factory at which the United States government manufactured chemical weapons, a small herd of bison has been released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There, they will help to restore the land to something close to its former productivity.

      We don't need weapons of mass destruction. We do need our land to be rich and productive. The progresisve way is to restore America's lands and provide refuge for free and wild creatures instead of crafting poisons to kill in new, gruesome ways.

      It isn't just America's prairies that can benefit from this healing approach favored by progressive. All America, city and countryside alike, is in need of rejuvenation. Let's turn toward a program of renewal in 2008, and elect a progressive candidate for President. (Source: Reuters, March 17, 2007)

    34. Right wing politicians like to talk a lot about moral values, but when it comes to putting the values they claim to have into action, their talk turns out to be empty. Let's take the basic value of honesty, for example.

      Right wing political appointee Stephen Griles was Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Interior for years under President George W. Bush. During that time, he kept a secret. Stephen Griles was an associate of Republican Jack Abramoff, a corrupt lobbyist who bribed government officials to help his clients, many of whom had dealings with the Department of the Interior.

      When the United States Senate's Indian Affairs Committee asked Stephen Griles whether he was connected to Jack Abramoff, he lied. On five separate occasions. Griles said that he had no association with Abramoff. Griles said that it was "outrageous" to suggest such a thing.

      Eventually, when the facts came out, it was clear that Griles had a very close relationship with Jack Abramoff, and that Abramoff was using that relationship to promote his corrupt schemes. In March, 2007, Griles agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice. (Source: Associated Press, March 23, 2007)

    35. On Halloween Day back in the year 2000, the Dallas Morning News proclaimed, "Bush will restore honor and integrity". It was a standard line of the Bush for President campaign, and one dutifully echoed by Republican-aligned newspapers.

      Bush and his Republican allies were right to criticize Bill Clinton's sexual affair with a White House intern. That affair was not honorable, and showed a lack of integrity. The problem is that many of George W. Bush's Republican allies in the White House have done much the same as President Clinton.

      Paul Wolfowitz is a good example. Bush didn't follow through on his promise to restore honor and integrity when he put Paul Wolfowitz in positions of power.

      George W. Bush appointed Paul Wolfowitz as Deputy Secretary of Defense, and then got Wolfowitz the position of President of the World Bank. But Paul Wolfowitz has admitted that he abused his authority within the Bush Administration and at the World Bank in order to arrange for pay raises and automatic positive evaluations at the United States Department of State for his lover, an official at the World Bank. Wolfowitz also acknowledges that he used his power to get her a promotion at the World Bank when she went to returned there to work under Wolfowitz. Other people at the State Department and World Bank didn't get this preferential treatment, because they weren't sharing a bed with Wolfowitz. (Sources: Washington Post, April 12, 2007; Dallas Morning News, October 31, 2007)

    36. Newt Gingrich likes to portray himself as a thinking Republican, someone who studies the situation and comes up with intelligent solutions. It was in this vein that Gingrich proposed the idea that government would work better if people stopped saying no to politicians' ideas, and found ways to say yes and all work together nicely.
      If we can get people to say, ŮYes, you could do that ifÓ instead of ŮNo, that will not work becauseÓ it changes the psychological dynamic of the argument. If you present a new idea and someone says ŮNoÓ, you instinctively lose energy. Now youÕve got to win an argument over the ŮNoÓ before you can get to the argument over the ŮBecauseÓ before you even get to start talking positively. However, if someone says ŮYesÓ you automatically gain energy and immediately start thinking of creative ideas to answer the questions posed by the complexity of new ideas.

      Let's skip over the fact that when he held political power in Congress, Newt Gingrich was not known for working well with opponents or coming to win-win situations. Let's evaluate the Gingrich Republicans' idea of reforming government by replacing no with yes in terms of a practical example: The decision to go start a war in Iraq.

      Would things have turned out better if the Democrats in Congress had responded to George W. Bush's proposal to go to war in Iraq with a message saying Yes, Mr. Bush, you could invade Iraq if...?

      Come to think of it, that's not a hypothetical question at all. Democrats in Congress could have stood up to President Bush. They could have said no to war. They could have prevented this whole mess if they had had the courage to say no to what was, even at the time, an obviously flawed idea.

      Instead, many Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and John Edwards, were afraid to say no to President Bush. So, they said yes. They said that yes, George W. Bush could go to war, if only he would go through a few token gestures first.

      The idea of starting political negotiations with yes is a great idea if all you care about is pushing an idea through and getting it accomplished. If you care about making sure that the proper action is taken, and bad ideas like invading Iraq are weeded out, starting with yes just doesn't work.

      Newt Gingrich and his right wing allies would love to have an American public that reacts to every one of their proposals with an automatic yes. They would love to have a Congress that works with the presumption that the President can do whatever he wants, with just a few adjustments here and there.

      We progressives, however, see things differently. We believe in the value of saying no. We believe that when the President of the United States proposes radical action, like going to war, the automatic reaction of the Congress and the American people ought to be to say no. We believe that the burden of the argument rests with those who propose extreme, violent shifts in policy.

      I'd like to have a new President who understands this attitude, and is willing to work harder to gain the trust of the American people. That's why, in 2008, I am looking for a good progressive candidate whom I can support for President. (Source: WinWithYes.com, 2007)

    37. The alternative to voting progressive is pretty dismal. An anti-progressive reader wrote in to us at Irregular Times with his ideas about why Americans should not vote progressive:
      my comment could go on for days but i'm gonna make it real short and real sweet.the very last thing this country,my country needs,is a nigger or a dyke as president.the thought is so absurd and so grose it makes me wanna puke.somehow the normal people of this country just laid down and died and allowed the FREAKS to take over!honestly,do we really need to see another reality show full of nothin' but FAGS and freaks???we need to take this country back and put a muzzle on the niggers(domestic terrorists),the gays,the muslims,the illegal spic immigrants…..we need to get sick and tired of being used and abused by the scum of the earth and what we need more than anything is a PRESIDENT WITH BALLS and if we don't get a president with balls WE ARE SCREWWWWWWWED !!!!! I hate niggers,i hate fags,i hate the muslims and i hate the illegal immigrant spics.i hate it that we have a justice system with no balls.you could be a serial killer and not get the chair.you could be a CHILD MOLESTER and not get the chair.you could kill your wife and lie about it on tv and that's entertainment.you could drown your kids in the bathtub and that's ok because you have post partem depression.you could be a fag congressman and go to the airport to get a bj,get caught,confess,take the confession back,get away with it,keep your job,that's ok.bottom line is we need a leader,a real leader.not a whimp,a leader.someone with balls and that doesn't mean a LESBIAN !!! wake up people.we're in big trouble.if this country doesn't grow some balls real soon we're not gonna be a country anymore.stop whining and worrying about all the bullshit and open your eyes!!this country is disgusting and weak,full of murderers,molesters,gangsters,immigrants and terrorists.we're finished.period.end of story."

      Do you really want to cast your vote aligned with this?

    38. Progressives aim high, even as they realize that their ideals may never be realized. We don't believe that one day's failures justify an abandonment of our efforts to succeed in creating a better society. We agree with the words of Aldo Leopold, who urged the consistent striving for improvement even in the face of corruption and defeat. Leopold wrote, "We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive."

      In these times, when the right wing forces of violence, exploitation and authoritarianism are destroying so much of the progressive foundation of the United States of America, it is tempting to conclude that all is lost, that we have been defeated, and there is no more use in trying to resist. The truth is that we will never achieve perfection, but, as Aldo Leopold reminds us, we can move toward a society that is more perfect.

      We can progress. To be a progressive is not to engage in an all-or-nothing struggle for utopia. True progressives do not give up when they meet powerful opposition. Being a progressive is about working, as much as we can, to make things better. We know that reliable progress comes from persistence. (Source: Round River, Aldo Leopold)

    39. It's bad enough that right wing politicians in government try to force abstinence-only sex education on our kids, restricting information in public school classrooms to only the ideas that religious right wing zealots believe in. It's even worse that abstinence-only education has been demonstrated not to work, and that right wing politicians keep on pushing it anyway.

      How could it get worse than that? Try this on for size: It seems that right wing politicians don't even believe in the abstinence-only morality they use government power to force on everyone else.

      Randall Tobias, the head of the US Agency for International Development and former coordinator for AIDS to foreign countries, has admitted that he hired the services of a woman working for Deborah Jeane Palfrey's erotic escort agency. Tobias made it his job in those positions to discourage prostitution, promote sexual abstinence before marriage, and encourage married couples to avoid sexual infidelity. The work Tobias did was part of the Bush White House's plan to promote a right wing religious sexual agenda through domestic funding and international aid programs run by the federal government.

      Tobias who is married himself, doesn't seem to have been able to abstain from stepping out on his own wife, even while he pushed foreign nations to amend their educational and family planning programs to insist upon such abstinence. It doesn't appear that Tobias actually believed in the need for sexual abstainence, marital fidelity, or avoidance of prostitution - except when it came to other people.

      In all fairness, Randall Tobias claims that he didn't pay for actual sex with the escort from Deborah Jeane Palfrey's agency. He says he just paid hundreds of dollars for an erotic-themed backrub. Hundreds of dollars for a backrub, huh?

      I'll let you be the judge of whether that statement can be believed. But, even if Randall Tobias is telling the truth, and he didn't have sex with the erotic escort he hired, what does even that statement say about the consistency of the right wing Bush Administration doctrine of sex education and family planning? Are the Republicans in government now proposing that people around the world pay escort services for erotic massages instead of having extramarital affairs or teaching kids how to have sex without transmitting diseases like AIDS?

      If they were to be morally coherent, that would be the position of Randall Tobias and others like him. Of course, these right wing politicians are not morally consistent. That's why we can't support another right wing presidency. In 2008, we need to vote for a progressive alternative. (Source: 365Gay News, April 29, 2007)

    40. With which set of values do you stand? ----------

      Set of Values A

      Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to be free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

      -- Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus"

      Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

      Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

      The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

      -- Matthew 25:34-40

      ----------

      Set of Values B

      While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD's anger burned against them.

      The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORD's fierce anger may turn away from Israel."

      So Moses said to Israel's judges, "Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor."

      Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman's body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

      The LORD said to Moses, "Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites."

      The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Cozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

      The LORD said to Moses, "Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor."

      -- Numbers 25: 1-16

      Resolution opposing Satan's plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion

      Whereas, "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9)

      Whereas, in order for Satan to establish his "New World Order" and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S. There are ways to destroy a nation other than with bombs or bullets. The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nation the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness.

      Whereas, Americans will have to make a choice: either close our borders to illegal immigration, which is now vastly greater than any time in the past, or witness the passing country. The proof of this statement is the record of history. It is a history littered with the gravestones of great nations and civilizations which allowed invaders to overrun them. If we fail to learn from the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat them.

      Whereas, all polls show that the American people overwhelmingly want limited immigration, reform and control of our borders as mandated by the Constitution. But many do not realize the extent of the dangers ahead because of the lack of accurate media coverage and public debate. An important reason for the lack of understanding is that the powerful commercial, political, ethnic, and the godless globalist elites who control the major media do not want the issues of illegal immigration to come to national attention.

      Whereas, it is obvious that most promoters of massive immigration and open borders do not like the ideas of patriotism, national identity, sovereignty, our Christian culture and freedom. Many consider themselves cosmopolitans or world citizens. Their religion is atheistic humanism. They are found primarily among the elite of foundations, universities, big business, left-wing politicians, Hollywood, ACLU (Anti-Christian Lawyers Union), CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), the American power elite and the liberal media. They prefer a world without borders ruled by a one world tyrannical government.

      Whereas, we cannot benefit the world by eliminating our borders and sovereignty as advocated by Satan's "axis of evil", if we do, the world will pull us down to its lowest common level and we will have committed national suicide. In that case, the U.S. will no longer be a free and prosperous land or light of liberty for all nations. Once he has destroyed the U.S., Satan will be able to establish his "Satanic New World Order" and destroy the freedom of all people.

      Whereas, the national security and the future of the nation and the American people depends upon how well we do our job and defend our borders. We must control our borders to illegal immigration, have a well regulated temporary worker program, as needed, or face extinction. The destruction of the U.S. by the forces of evil is a top priority of Satan.

      Now therefore, we (delegates) are obligated to support the Utah State and Utah County Republicans Platforms regarding the mandates to support the "Rule of Law" and the Constitutional mandate to protect and secure our national borders.

      Now therefore, because we support the "Rule of Law," the Constitution and the principals that made America the greatest and freest nation in history, the Utah County Republican Party supports the closing of our national borders to illegal immigration to prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion.

      -- Resolution submitted to Utah Republican Convention of 2007 by Don Larsen, District 65 Chairman

      ----------

      With whom do you stand? If you are religious, the Bible is not going to help you here. There are Biblical passages that stand in favor of welcoming the aliens among us into our homes and to our very dinner tables. There are Biblical passages that stand in favor of slaughtering the male members of an alien people and taking the female members of an alien people into sex slavery. No, the Bible won't help; you'll have to think for yourself.

      With whom do you stand? If you are a Republican, you find yourself sharing space under the party umbrella -- not just with Republican District Chairman Larsen, but with the assembled Utah Republican Convention which booed and jeered those opposing Larsen's resolution. (Sources: Rolling Stone, May 9, 2007; Daily Herald (Utah), April 29, 2007)

    41. When we say that we support electing a progressive President in 2008, one of the reasons is that we're deeply disturbed by the mental contortions that Republicans will go through to support the kind of nasty behavior that anyone with a shred of honest moral values would find shocking and reprehensible.

      As an example, consider Molly, a Republican reader of Irregular Times who, responding to one of our articles, at first expressed outrage that we accuse Republicans of supporting torture. She wrote, "i dont believe people should be tortured.. you are making a stereotype about republicans simply because we have different views on politics than yourself. THAT is something to be ashamed of."

      In response, Molly was asked by another one of our readers why she supports Republican politicians who support torture, if she doesn't support torture herself. Molly's response was to write, "i do so because those people who are tortured most likely tortured many others before themselves. i believe in KARMA."

      Molly has constructed a rather convenient twisted little mental justification for herself. She supports torture, as she's clearly explained. She regards torture as justifiable moral payback, because she surmises that the people that the United States government is torturing have probably tortured other people themselves. But, when confronted by someone who points out that she supports torture, Molly can get all outraged herself, and deny that she supports torture at all. It's just that she supports other people who support torture. It's a safe moral distance Molly has made for herself, one that helps her stay in denial of the real, bloody consequences of her choices.

      There are a couple of kinks in Molly's sadistic alternative moral system that she hasn't got quite worked out, though.

      First, Molly hasn't really bothered to check that the people who the American government is torturing are themselves former torturers. Molly doesn't have the names of the prisoners that are being tortured. She doesn't know their personal histories at all, and she's never been shown any evidence that these prisoners have ever tortured anyone. She has only been told be her government that the prisoners are bad. People with a mature sense of justice understand that governments have a long history of making false accusations against people, and that a governmental say-so is not sufficient basis for punishment.

      Then there's Molly's rather selective belief in karma. If people who do bad things deserve to have equally bad things happen to them, then there's going to be a never-ending string of bad things happening to people forever, in a never-ending chain of unforgiving moral causality. Molly says that some people kept as prisoners deserve to be tortured because those prisoners tortured people themselves. If that's true, however, then don't the Americans who torture those prisoners deserve to be tortured in turn?

      Furthermore, if payback karma is really morally just, then doesn't Molly deserve to have someone else call for her to be tortured? After all, she is calling for other people to be tortured.

      We progressives reject the cruel system of revenge-based morality. We believe that it's more important to end violence and cruelty than to get payback. We also believe that people accused of crimes deserve to have the allegations against them examined carefully in a reasonable court of law.

      In short, progressive morality is simple and straight forward, seeking to foster a good life for the most people possible. Right wing morality, however, takes pains to twist and turn in violent angles in order to justify the continuation of pain and suffering in the world.

    42. When looking at all the plans proposed back in 2002 for what to do with the site of the former Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, I was struck by only one thing (otherwise the proposals were predictable and unexciting): all of the buildings proposed for the site were significantly shorter than the Twin Towers were.

      Now, I know that all the security experts have said that it would be foolhardy to erect new towers as tall as the Twin Towers were, but isn't it remarkable that the United States of America is now allowing the speculation of security experts to restrain the physical expression of our society's vitality through monumental structures?

      To rebuild the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centers would be an act of resilience. To build a single tower on the site stretching even higher, to be the tallest tower in the world, would be an act of non-violent defiance and a reassertion of the power of democratic, cooperative construction.

      On the other hand, to replace the mighty Twin Towers with a collection of smaller, low-profile buildings in order to feel safer from future attacks that might take place demonstrates just how much destruction the attacks of September 11 have caused to the confidence of Americans in strong democratic leadership. Where once we were proud in our freedoms, now we are holding ourselves back, making our country less proud and less free, just in order to protect ourselves from an attack that probably will never come.

      After the attacks, Americans are building smaller, living smaller, thinking smaller. We're willing to accept less freedom in order to feel a little bit more secure.

      We have lost the war against terror.

    43. We've had a funny feeling about Republicans for quite some time. It's more than just the policies, although Republican policies are truly beastly these days. No, there's something about the Republican lifestyle that's disturbing as well - a weird mixture of medieval values and a fetish for industrial technology and artificial conveniences.

      It's that strange combination that allows George W. Bush to run some policies on ideas that are thousands of years old, yet steamroll the traditional ways of living on Earth in favor of diets saturated with heavy metals, PCBs, mercury, and arsenic, all washed down with a glass of drinking water blended with undertreated sewage - for the sake of economic efficiency. It's this creepy synthesis of the worst of old and new that makes the Republican leadership defenders of an economy run on fossil fuels, even while they cater social policies to fundamentalist extremists who believe that fossils are a trick of the Devil to tempt God's children into skepticism.

      Republicans are champs at trying to have it both ways, and this schizophrenic approach to life is exemplified in a new survey, which finds that Republicans are more likely than other Americans to talk on cell phones while driving their cars. Driving one direction while trying to hold a conversation with someone in another direction - that's a pretty good metaphor for the Republican elites' technique for holding onto power, isn't it? (Source: Capital Times, February 12, 2005)

    44. Since 1998, Michael E. Baroody has been senior lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, a job in which he represents the interests of companies who are subject to regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC is the office that keeps your kid from being killed by electrical hazards from her Bratz Beauty Salon toy, leaving her instead to linger on into her old age with the strange feeling that her eyes aren't large enough and she really would look better without a nose. NAM is so strongly bothered by the work of the CPSC that it has a special task group dedicated to organizing opposition to the CPSC. NAM spent $9,600,000 last year alone just on lobbying the U.S. Congress.

      George W. Bush has nominated Michael E. Baroody to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

      After learning that Bush had nominated Michael E. Baroody to head the CPSC, the National Association of Manufacturers awarded Baroody a $150,000 bonus.

      Do you remember how you reacted to politics in the year 2001, when George W. Bush took office? Do you remember the huge brouhaha that occurred when Vice President Dick Cheney said he wouldn't tell us who he met with when formulating energy policy? Since then, the Bush administration has so strongly eroded divisions between corporate interests and government action that we hardly even notice when Bush tries to pull off a shenanigan like this.

      We've become numb. We need our sensation of righteousness to be awakened again. It's time to elect a progressive president. (Sources: New York Times, May 16 2007; Senate Office of Public Records)

    45. Officials at the Justice Department met at the White House with Vice President Dick Cheney in March of 2004 to tell him that the program of wiretapping people without a warrant was illegal. Dick Cheney told them they were wrong, and that it was all legal. The next day, two White House officials were sent to the hospital to get reauthorization from an incapacitated Attorney General anyway.

      Overruling Justice. Browbeating the hospitalized.

      Are those your moral values? If not, it's time to realign your moral values voting. (Source: Washington Post, June 7 2007)

    46. A big deal was made earlier this year about Arnold Schwarzenegger's purchase, in Canada, of a cigar made in Cuba. You see, it's not only illegal to possess a Cuban cigar in the United States, American law makes it illegal for any US citizen to buy a Cuban cigar even outside the United States.

      Why? Well, the United States accuses the government of Cuba of abusing its people.

      That's all well and good, but if it's illegal to buy Cuban cigars because they're related to the abuse of the Cuban people, how come it's perfectly legal for Americans to buy products made by children working in sweatshops under coerced, brutal conditions in countries, just so long as the factory isn't in Cuba?

      Progressives think that this double standard is morally wrong. Right wingers think it's just fine. Which attitude would you rather see in America's next President? (Source: Associated Press, June 1, 2007)

    47. Why elect a progressive President in 2008? Do it in order to stop the torrent of legitimate condemnations of the crimes committed by the American government, such as British high court judge Sir Andrew Collins, who said, "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilized nations."

      Elect a progressive President in 2008, and we won't have to hear any more of this kind of difficult, dead-on accurate, description of how far the United States has fallen. (Source: Village Voice, March 3, 2006)

    48. The following is from the partially declassified government document DOJFBI 003237, released to the American Civil Liberties Union:
      When [—-censored—] was turned over to US authorities, he was beaten by the US military forces. [—-censored—] was turned over to US authorities [—-censored—]. He was taken by helicopter to an unknown location where he was beaten. While his eyes were covered, he was kicked in the stomach and back by several individuals. He noted American English accents.

      After being moved to an unknown facility in Bagram, his head was placed against the cenment floor and his head was kicked. As a result of other beatings in Bagram, [—- censored—] received a broken shoulder. During one evening, [—-censored—] was left outside of the facility where he was being held. The ground was wet and it was snowing. He was wearing only pants and a ragged shirt. As a result of being out in the cold, he became unconscious.

      Right wingers liken this sort of treatment to a lighthearted prank. Progressives, on the other hand, don't take satisfaction in hearing that people are being abused in this manner. (Sources: Department of Justice Document DOJFBI-003237; American Civil Liberties Union)

    49. What if I told you that there is a legal loophole through which individuals and businesses are able to bribe the President of the United States and make sure that no one knows about it? If you're like most Americans, you'd want that loophole to be closed. If you're like Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, however, you'd work to keep that loophole open.

      Fundraising has already begun for the future George W. Bush presidential library. A presidential library is a place that holds official records related to a former President's term in office. Presidential libraries also hire people to do "research" that depicts the client former President in a positive light. In essence, a presidential library works as a public relations firm for a former President, trying to put a positive spin on the former President's term in office. A presidential library is as much a tool of political propaganda as it is a repository of historical documents.

      For that reason, someone who makes a donation to a President's future presidential library is going to put themselves in the good graces of that President, and that's a very useful thing to do, especially if the President is still in office. If a person makes a donation of one million dollars to the fund to build the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and then asks to talk to the President's staff about a particular piece of legislation that needs to be passed, what do you call that? It looks like a bribe to me.

      The thing about donations to presidential libraries is that they are unlimited and anonymous, except if the donor is from a particularly restricted organization, like a political action committee. So, even if a person or organization made a payment to George W. Bush's presidential library fund for 50 million dollars, the public would never find out about it. In fact, the planned cost of the George W. Bush Presidential Library is 500 million dollars. That would be quite a bit of money for donors to give to George W. Bush, just out of the goodness of their hearts. Of course, it's quite likely that the donations now being made to the George W. Bush presidential library fund are being made for quite different, and quite profitable, motives.

      Congressman Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, could see the many opportunities in the presidential library scheme for corrupt dealings between the President of the United States and wealthy power brokers, and so he introduced the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2007 to the floor of the House of Representatives in order to try to end the corruption. The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act would require all donations above the size of 200 dollars to a presidential library fund to be made public. The legislation would also outlaw the practice of a donation being made to a presidential library fund by one person on behalf of another person in an attempt to circumvent the disclosure requirement. With this law, the public could see which organizations and individuals are making big payoffs to the President of the United States.

      The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2007 was passed by the House of Representatives back in mid-March. Most members of the House of Representatives voted for it. Only 34 members of the House voted against the anti-corruption legislation. These included Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo. It seems that Tancredo and Paul are more interested in protecting the people who are paying off President Bush than they are in preserving open and honest government.

      Unlike Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich voted to end this backdoor bribery of the President of the United States. Thanks to Representative Kucinich for that vote. The Presidential Library Donation Reform Act has yet to come up for a vote in the United States Senate, but I'll be keeping watch to see how the various senators running for President vote on this bill when its time comes. (Source: Library of Congress)

    50. When evaluating the intellectual nature of Fred Thompson, it's instructive to look at his thoughts on the impeachment of Bill Clinton, on which he voted in favor. The following opinion from Fred Thompson, about the grounds that make a President impeachable, was entered into the Congressional Record on February 12, 1999:

      "Clearly, a President's offense or offenses must be serious and/or have serious consequences. Also, while they do not have to be crimes, my own opinion is that in most cases they will be crimes. They must be crimes against the state, but we cannot adopt an unreasonable restriction of that term... while it is true that the founders meant to cover 'public' behavior, I believe they also meant to cover behavior that has a negative effect on the public if it is of sufficient gravity. Furthermore, if the President's conduct poses a threat and danger to a country, that certainly is a legitimate (though not exclusive) consideration. If that same conduct serves to undermine the President's credibility and moral authority, that could also pose a danger to the country and is similarly a legitimate consideration. And, again his conduct does not necessarily have to deal with his office."

      Here's a summary of what Fred Thompson is claiming in this statement:

      1. A President can be impeached just for being immoral or having low credibility even if no crime is committed
      2. The conduct a President is impeached for need not have anything at all to do with his duties as President, but can be merely a personal fault

      According to these lax standards for impeachment developed by Fred Thompson, a President could be impeached for lying to his mother.

      Why would Fred Thompson argue such a ridiculous thing? Well, back in 1999, Fred Thompson was one of those Republicans who was so hungry to get Bill Clinton that he would twist and turn the law into the most elaborate knots.

      No one argues that Fred Thompson is stupid. The issue is not Fred Thompson's intelligence, but rather the motivations with which he applies his intellect. As his contorted interpretation of the grounds for impeachment shows, Fred Thompson's motivations are unrelentingly partisan. Fred Thompson seems to come up with his conclusions, like the need to impeach Bill Clinton, based upon political motivation. Only then does Fred Thompson apply his intelligence, in an attempt to justify his partisan political agenda.

      In 2008, we need to elect a President who has the opposite approach from that displayed by Fred Thompson. Fred Thompson's style of government twists the law to absurd extremes in service of a political purpose. We need a President who uses his or her intelligence to arrive at sound policy, and then finds a way to fit that policy into the political climate of the day. (Source, Congressional Record, February 12, 1999)

    51. Evidence of the quality of conservative thought comes out in the quality of conservative criticism of their opponents. The quality, to be frank, isn't overwhelming. Unable to respond effectively to his "Hope" meme and apparently unwilling to or incapable of responding to his policy platform, conservatives are coming up with a series of personal insults against Barack Obama - insults that appeal to various prejudices and reveal the obsessions of the conservative cause.

      "Hussein Odumbo" has been making the rounds for some time now - religiously incorrect middle name, see, and big ears. But the new fun name for Barack Obama among conservatives is apparently "Bacrack" - because, see, he's black, and therefore he's a crack-head, ha, ha, ha.

      Ha? If you're not laughing with the bigots, why would you vote with them?

    52. I am still trying to wrap my brain around comments made earlier this month by Ken Ham about Republicans, evolution, and political affiliation. Ham said,

      "Because after all, if there is no God and there's no absolute authority, who does decide right and wrong? Who does decide good and bad? Those on the other end of the spectrum who believe in moral relativism, of course, wouldn't want to be accountable to God and would want to believe that everything evolved by natural processes. So you'd more suspect that those people would say they believe in evolution."

      Ham seems to lay it right down on the line here: for Ham and those who follow him, a view of scientific, religious and political reality comes from a psychological need for an absolute authority, for an absolute moral certainty, and for an escape from personal responsibility for moral choices. First comes the psychological need, and assertions about the nature of reality follow from that need.

      Putting people in charge who begin by basing their conception of reality on their psychological needs for reality to be a certain way, and who follow up on that by trying to mandate that everyone else pretend along with them, seems like a pretty dangerous idea to me. (Source: OneNews Now, June 14, 2007)

    53. For adherents of right wing ideology, worth is determined by financial value, not by our human values. They propose that unregulated financial markets be allowed to determine the structure of our society.

      Progressives believe, to the contrary, that the highest worth is often exercised in defiance of financial pressures. Conservationist Aldo Leopold proposed a form of this vision when he wrote, "Our remnants of wilderness will yield bigger values to the nation's character and health than they will to its pocketbook, and to destroy them will be to admit that the latter are the only values that interest us."

      To be a progressive is to believe that the greatest values can never be measured by the coin of the realm. (Source: Aldo Leopold, A Plea for Wilderness Hunting Grounds, 1925)

    54. Notice to Americans who support Ron Paul because of his purported stands against international trade agreements that he says threaten American sovereignty: You have been cheated.

      When it comes to Ron Paul's positions on international free trade agreements, Ron Paul is a phony. The truth is that the Ron Paul for President 2008 campaign uses sweatshop labor made possible through those trade agreements. The Ron Paul 2008 campaign gets its message out by selling t-shirts that are made in sweatshops in foreign countries, by workers who have taken outsourced jobs that once were held by American workers.

      Don't believe me? Go ahead and have a look for yourself. Go to the Ron Paul for President web site and look up in the upper lefthand corner. You'll see a link there that says "store". At that store, the Ron Paul campaign sells shirts through CafePress. A few of those shirts are made in the USA by American Apparel. However, most of the shirts that Ron Paul sells are made by companies with a history of using factories in foreign countries that abuse workers and pay shamefully low wages.

      Ron Paul is able to sell these t-shirts at low prices because of the international trade agreements that make the garment sweatshops in foreign countries possible. On his campaign web site, Ron Paul calls these international trade agreements "a threat to our independence as a nation." However, Ron Paul turns right around and sells items, using the very same international trade agreements to do so at a low price!

      Does Ron Paul have no shame? Did Ron Paul really think that we wouldn't notice? Does he think the American people are that stupid?

      It gets worse. You know what motto the Ron Paul campaign puts on those shirts made in sweatshops by underpaid foreign workers made available through international trade agreements? He uses the motto "Hope for America".

      Apparently, Ron Paul thinks that hope for America lies in sending American jobs overseas. Apparently, Ron Paul thinks that hope for America lies in factories that abuse their workers and evade environmental protections. Apparently, Ron Paul thinks that hope for America lies in international trade agreements.

      If that's really Ron Paul's agenda for America, he ought to just come out and say so.

      If that isn't Ron Paul's agenda for America, then he ought to stop being a hypocrite, and stop selling foreign-made sweatshop shirts on his campaign's CafePress shop.

    55. Before America elects a new President in 2008, we would all do well to examine the way in which the candidates treat the less powerful among us. Some candidates don't stand up well to this test.

      Take the story of Mitt Romney's dog as an example. In 1983, Mitt Romney took his family on a trip to Ontario, a 12-hour ride from their home. When packing, Romney put the suitcases inside the car. He put the family dog, however, in a cage up on his station wagon's roof.

      The dog was terrified, but off drove Mitt Romney, and he wouldn't stop until the dog's diarrhea started flowing down the back window. After stopping to hose the car down, Romney drove off again, with the dog still on the roof.

      That wasn't just cruel. Mitt Romney broke the law. It is against a crime in Massachusetts to transport animals in a manner that is cruel or could endanger the animals.

      Don't let America become Mitt Romney's new dog. Vote progressive in 2008. (Source: Boston Globe, June 29, 2007)

    56. George W. Bush has made his upside-down regard — compassion for the rich and powerful, no mercy for the poor and powerless — crystal clear today with his clemency for consummate White House insider Scooter Libby. When the poor and powerless receive excessive sentences after their convictions, George W. Bush does nothing. However, when Bush's rich and powerful friends are convicted of grave crimes, Bush regards even a short sentence in prison as excessive, and insists that his friends receive mercy.

      Lax standards for the powerful, and harsh punishment for the poor. How are those Republican moral values for you? (Source: Washington Post, July 2 2007)

    57. Watch George W. Bush bragged on his 2000 campaign website about how he had engaged in the following tough-on-crime actions as Governor of Texas:
      • Lowered to 14 the age that most violent juveniles can be tried as adults and streamlined the certification process;
      • Expanded determinate sentencing options – the toughest juvenile incarceration penalty – for serious and habitual juvenile offenders;
      • Enacted new mandatory minimums for length of stay at the Texas Youth Commission;
      • Made juvenile records freely available to law enforcement officials;
      • Expanded the use of fingerprinting and photographing of juveniles;
      • Adopted a Progressive Sanctions Model sentencing system of incrementally more intrusive sanctions for juvenile offenders;
      • Created zero tolerance policy for juvenile drinking and driving. In 1997, Texas enacted a zero-tolerance policy for those under 21 who are caught drinking and driving.

      George W. Bush showed a different side when he commutated the sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. In that instance, he said,

      "I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison."

      That's Bush Republicanism for you: Give draconian punishments for children who have done wrong, but protect the lawbreakers among your high-placed friends and underlings. We need a new President who believes that Washington D.C. insiders should not be let off the hook for their crimes while children are given longer mandatory sentences for their juvenile mistakes. (Sources: National Public Radio July 3, 2007; Bush for President 2000 campaign; LA Weekly January 13, 2005)

    58. George W. Bush justified the vacating of the prison term for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by calling it "excessive":

      "I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend 30 months in prison."

      Was the sentence really excessive? A review of sentences for obstruction of justice, the crime of which I. Lewis Libby was convicted, shows that three out of four people convicted are sent to prison. Libby is typical in this regard, or was until his sentence was commuted by the president. The average prison sentence for people convicted of obstruction of justice is more than five years; Libby actually got off easier than average.

      What did Bush have in his mind when he referred to I. Lewis Libby's sentence as "excessive?" Is it that a man of Libby's position as a Bush pal and White House staffer deserves a lesser sentence because of his exalted position?

      A more generous interpretation of Bush's motivation is that perhaps he was not trading insider favors, but simply applying a general understanding of his that sentences for obstruction of justice are overall too harsh. But if that were true, where is the action on behalf of the many other Americans snared by such supposedly unjust sentences and sitting in prison without presidential intervention? Even if the president does not commute their sentences, he might if truly motivated by a sense of injustice promote a remedy through legislation, or establish a commission to review obstruction sentences and make recommendations, or at least give a speech about the subject.

      George W. Bush hasn't done any of this as president, leading us to this mystery: is Bush an insider favor trader, is he an elitist who only cares about the injustices that afflict powerful people, or is he too lazy to act even on issues he says he cares about?

      Meanwhile, Republican Party politicians are either voicing their support for the commutation or even suggesting that Bush didn't do a big enough favor for his insider pal. And how many Democratic Party politicians would be so outraged if Scooter Libby were on their team? If you want different forces in government, you'll have to look for people who are motivated by some kind of underlying principles, and who act based on them. Look for a presidential candidate who rejects the idea that a prison sentence for the obstruction of justice is excessive. (Sources: National Public Radio July 3, 2007; Columbus Dispatch July 4, 2007; San Francisco Chronicle July 4, 2007)

    59. The State of Florida, controlled by Republican fundamentalists, has used its big government power to decide that a 13-year old girl, although she has clearly, repeatedly and cogently expressed her wish to have an abortion, cannot. Why? Because, regardless of what she thinks is best for her, the Republican-controlled state has decided it knows better. Read on:
      "Why can't I make my own decision?"

      That was the blunt question to a judge from a pregnant 13-year-old girl ensnared in a Palm Beach County court fight over whether she can have an abortion.

      "I don't know," Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez replied, according to a recording of the closed hearing obtained Friday.

      "You don't know?" replied the girl, who is a ward of the state. "Aren't you the judge?"

      Against a backdrop of state and federal efforts to pass a parental notification law for teen abortions, the exchange was typical of L.G.'s pluck as she argued that she had the right and capability to make her own decision… "I think if I want to make the decision, it's my business and I can do that," she told the judge.

      The DCF is the teen's legal guardian after she was taken away from her parents for abuse or neglect. State law allows minors to have abortions without notifying their guardians. Experts say the law extends to wards of the state, raising the question of why this girl's decision has ended up before a judge…

      L.G., who told Alvarez she had run away at least five times from her youth shelter, maintained, "It would make no sense to have the baby."

      "I don't think I should have the baby because I'm 13, I'm in a shelter and I can't get a job," the girl said as Alvarez and her guardian ad litem, assigned to shepherd her in the legal system, questioned her…

      She also questioned the health risk of carrying the fetus to term.

      "Since you guys are supposedly here for the best interest of me, then wouldn't you all look at that fact that it'd be more dangerous for me to have the baby than to have an abortion?" she asked. Alvarez called that "a good point."
      >

      The Republicans, through their legislative and executive actions, have made it clear they want to tell you who you can and can't love, what sexual positions you can and cannot use when you're in your bedroom, what sort of medical treatments you can and cannot get, what books you can read, and even what you can and can't do with your own body.

      Republican "morality," in short, is the imposition of government theocrats' decisions on your own private life. Republican "freedom" is government theocrats' freedom to shove their own parochial standards down your throat. (Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 30, 2005)

    60. It's bad enough that Republican Fred Thompson is seeking to become President of the United States after three decades of working as a lobbyist, hiring himself out to promote politicial policies in return for fat paycheck. What's worse is that it isn't just Fred Thompson who is using his former position in government in order to gain personal profit.

      Fred Thompson's sons, Tony and Daniel, started their careers as lobbyists after their father gained a seat in the United States Senate, getting work based on the perception that they had access to powerful people in the government through their father.

      The Thompson family has a long history of using their influence in the government to enrich themselves. There is no reason to believe that this unethical exploitation of political access would stop if Fred Thompson were to become President. (Source: New York Times, July 2, 2007)

    61. The more we hear about Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, the more it seems that his political career has been defined by a history of unethical dealings for the sake of personal profit. The latest example of Fred Thompson's unethical business deals comes in the form of a promotional deal for a company called LifeLock.

      Fred Thompson has been getting on the radio and promoting LifeLock through a series of paid advertisements. People who tune into Fred Thompson's radio broadcasts have heard Thompson promoting Robert Maynard's LifeLock scheme, just as if he was promoting a political policy. A listener turning on the radio might not know the difference.

      The problem is that Robert Maynard has been caught by the Federal Trade Commission engaging in crooked scams. Maynard has agreed to be banned for life from engaging in businesses that claim to help people clear their credit records. The reason: Maynard used fraudulent advertisements to get people to give him their bank account information, and then stole money out of their bank accounts. In other words, Robert Maynard used dishonest advertisements engage in a form of identity theft.

      Now, Fred Thompson is helping Robert Maynard engage in a new advertising scheme - claiming to protect people from identity theft, in return for information that enables Maynard to access their financial accounts.

      When confronted with his involvement in the scheme, Fred Thompson would not speak to reporters directly. Thompson's spokespeople gave reporters the following excuse: Fred Thompson agreed to help Robert Maynard promote his new scheme, no questions asked. Thompson never bothered to investigate the scheme he was being hired to promote. He just got on the air and told the American people that they ought to get involved in Robert Maynard's new scheme.

      Fred Thompson agreed to take money in return for lending his name to Robert Maynard's latest scheme without even bothering to check whether the company was on the up and up. It seems that all that Maynard needed to do was offer Fred Thompson a check, and that was enough for Thompson. He didn't care enough to check whether what he was saying was true.

      That shouldn't surprise us, really, given that Fred Thompson has spent most of his adult life as a corporate lobbyist and second-rate movie actor. Thompson is used to reading his lines without really thinking about what he's being told to say. All that matters to Thompson is that he gets paid.

      If Fred Thompson is elected as the next President of the United States, which business leaders will be handing him his scripts? The American people would do best never to find out the answer to that question. In 2008, American voters would be wise to elect a progressive candidate instead - someone who cares about the interests of the nation as a whole, and not just the profits of the companies who send him the most money. (Source: Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2007)

    62. The revelation that Fred Thompson has worked as a paid lobbyist in favor of efforts to reduce restrictions on abortion earns the Republican presidential candidate a new nickname: Flip Flop Fred.

      It's a flippant nickname, but a serious critique. Given the way that Fred Thompson has tried to play both sides of the abortion issue, how can either side of the debate trust him?

      If Fred Thompson really believes that restrictions on abortion ought to be loosened, that's no reassurance for Pro-Choice voters. After all, Fred Thompson is now campaigning on a platform on increasing restrictions on abortion. Thus, even if Pro-Choice voters believe Fred Thompson's earlier position, they have every reason to believe that Thompson will play politics on the issue, and betray them if he becomes President.

      If Fred Thompson really believes that restrictions on abortion ought to be increased, as he now claims, that's no reassurance for Pro-Life voters. After all, Fred Thompson promoted Pro-Choice policies for the sake of a paycheck. Thus, even if Pro-Life voters believe Fred Thompson's current claims about his beliefs about abortion, they have every reason to believe that Thompson can be bought off through the influence of money in politics, and will betray them if he becomes President.

      The underlying reason no one can trust Fred Thompson is that he has such a long history of promoting political policies regardless of whatever his own personal moral values might be. As a professional lobbyist, Fred Thompson seems to recognize the value of the dollar above all else.

      In 2008, Americans deserve the opportunity to vote for someone more reliable, someone who has a consistent record of promoting progressive moral values, even when it hasn't been the most profitable thing to do. (Source: Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2007)

    63. It's a disgusting example of how far self-described Pro-Life right wing politicians will go to gain power for themselves: Sam Brownback plans to use a dead woman to help promote his campaign for President this summer.

      It wasn't enough for Republicans to use Terri Schiavo as a political prop when she was lying in a hospital bed in a vegetative state. Even now, long after Terri Schiavo died, and an autopsy showed that she was, as medical doctors had said, incapable of reachieving consciousness and human thought, they're still using her.

      Sam Brownback will be touring America this summer, trying to gain attention for his presidential campaign by rallying the right wing base around Terri Schiavo once again. What does Senator Brownback propose to do for Terri Schiavo now? Ressurect her?

      We need a new President who has true respect for the dignity of human life, not a President who uses human suffering to score political points with religious extremists. (Source: Associated Press, July 13, 2007)

    64. On the first of March, 2005, George W. Bush shocked his supporters from the religious right when he called for an American national love-in. Bush even went so far as to propsed that federal money be used to help single people hook up for some good loving. "Government has got to find ways to empower those whose mission is based upon love, in order to help those who need love find love in society." Apparently, Bush thought that if you can't be with the one you love, you ought to love the one the government hooks you up with. A dating service run by the federal government - who but George W. Bush would have had the bold imagination to propose such a thing?

      Oh… Wait a minute…

      It turns out that President Bush was not trying to help Americans find sex partners after all. No, it turns out that Mr. Bush was really talking about the need to allow organizations that receive taxpayer support to fire people who don't belong to the right religion.

      Well, jeez! Why didn't Bush just say so? Hmm…

    65. Mitt Romney's new presidential campaign commercial, Ocean, is one of those ads that kind of floats easily past you, if you're not paying close attention to it. If you actually listen to and think about what Mitt Romney says in the commercial, however, you realize that Romney is, in many ways, a strange, strange man.

      Consider what it really means, for instance, when Mitt Romney declares at the end of the campaign commercial "I'd like to keep pornography from coming up on their computer and I'd like to see less violence and sex on TV and in video games and movies, and if we get serious about this, we can actually do a great deal& "

      Mitt Romney isn't just expressing his personal opinion about the kind of entertainment he'd like to see. He's speaking as a candidate for the position of President of the United States of America, and promises that if he's elected, "we can actually do a great deal".

      What does Mitt Romney plan on doing as President of the United States to control the pornography we can see on line, and to censor the content of television, video games and movies? Romney doesn't get specific in this advertisement, but we all deserve to know how far he plans on going as President in limiting our right to free speech and freedom of the press.

      When Mitt Romney tells me that he would like to see less pornography coming up on my children's computer, he's being arrogant and presumptuous. First of all, it's absurd of Mitt Romney to presume that my children are looking at pornography on a computer. They're not. My children don't even have a computer. When they use a computer, they use one of mine, and I don't let them go on line without me being present. Secondly, it's not Mitt Romney's place to start snooping at what my children are looking at on a computer in my home. In the same way, it is not Mitt Romney's business to tell me what movies, television, and video games my children will be allowed to see.

      What Mitt Romney doesn't understand is that it isn't the job of the President of the United States to raise everyone else's children for them. It's my job to raise my children, and to watch over what media they are exposed to. I choose the movies my children watch, and I don't get television reception in my home, because I don't want my children to be exposed to the high content of junk that's on television - including the kooky religious channels and Fox News. That's my business. I'm the parent of my children, and Mitt Romney is not. He ought to butt out and spend his spare time taking care of his own family instead of trying to control how I raise mine. In 2008, America needs to elect a President, not a patriarch. (Source: MittRomney.com)

    66. Of all the weird ideas embedded in Mitt Romney's presidential campaign commercials, the one that perplexes me the most has to do with the medium itself. One of Romney's earliest campaign commercials makes strident complaints about how televison is an awful thing, full of too much sex and violence, and dangerous to children. Yet, the commercial is being played on television.

      If Mitt Romney is really so upset about the kind of material that is broadcast on television, how come he is directing his campaign to direct immense amounts of money to advertise on television? Every time the Mitt Romney for President campaign puts a commercial on televison, Romney is pumping money into the very same television system that he complains about.

      If Mitt Romney really wanted to make a powerful statement about the quality of television, and wanted to do something to force an improvement in that quality, he would refuse to place any campaign advertisements on television.

      Sadly, making that kind of statement is the last thing Mitt Romney wants to do. You see, most of all, Mitt Romney wants to win the election, and he'll do whatever it takes to win, even if it means betraying the moral values that he says he holds dear.

      Mitt Romney's Ocean commercial is far from a genuine political statement about moral values. It's just an empty pose from a politician who has gotten so far away from the the values he espouses that he is incapable of understanding that he has become part of the problem. (Source: MittRomney.com)

    67. Someone in the pre-selected and sifted pro-Bush audience at the Gaylord Opryland Resort asked George W. Bush an honest-to-goodness question, not the typical "Why are people so unfair to you?" or "How do you think you will judge your legacy? pseudo-question. It was a question based in conservative advocacy, to be sure, but it was within the Republican tent a challenging question nonetheless:

      Question: "My question to you is this: There are two border guards presently in jail. The Tennessee General Assembly passed a resolution, with 91 votes in the House and 30 in the Senate, asking our Tennessee delegation to support, to go to you asking for a pardon for these two men that were tried, where information was left not with, was kept back from their trial. And there's also a resolution in the House, H.R. 40, with a number of our Tennessee delegation signed on to that. Will you pardon these men that are unjustly imprisoned?"

      George W. Bush: "I'm not going to make that kind of promise in a forum like this. Obviously I am interested in facts. I know the prosecutor very well, Johnny Sutton. He's a dear friend of mine from Texas. He's a fair guy. He is an even-handed guy. And I can't imagine, you've got a nice smile, but you can't entice me into making a public statement on something that requires a very, I know this is an emotional issue, but people need to look at the facts. These men were convicted by a jury of their peers after listening to the facts as my friend, Johnny Sutton, presented them. But anyway, no, I won't make you that promise."

      So let's work out George W. Bush's Friend Principle of Justice:

      1. If your friend is a prosecutor, then you don't issue a pardon to convicted felons, because "these men were convicted by a jury of their peers after listening to the facts as my friend& presented them."

      2. If your friend is convicted of obstruction of justice by a jury of his peers after listening to the facts, as was the case with Scooter Libby, then you not only give your felon friend a commutation, but you refuse to rule out a pardon in the future, and insist that a pardon remains on the table.

      If you've got friends in the right places, then the Bush system of justice is very good for you. If you don't have the right friends, or if your enemies have better friends than you do, then you're out of luck.

      Does that kind cronyism work for you? If so, vote for another well-connected right winger like George W. Bush. (Sources: White House Press Release, July 19 2007; The Nation, July 3 2007)

    68. On July 24 2007, Bush Administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the United States Congress in sworn testimony that when he tried to get a bedridden John Ashcroft to reauthorize a program of wiretapping against people in the United States without so much as a constitutionally-mandated warrant, and then when a bunch of Bush administration lawyers threatened to resign in protest, the whole thing had nothing to do with warrantless wiretapping (or, as the Bush administration has named it in a splash of Orwellian flair, the "Terrorist Surveillance Program").

      On July 26 2007, FBI Director Robert Muller testified to the United States Congress that yes, indeed, the whole affair did have to do with the Bush administration's program of wiretapping people in the United States without a warrant.

      According to Muller, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has lied in testimony to Congress. The only exculpatory possibility left to Alberto Gonzales is that FBI Director Robert Muller is himself lying to Congress, behavior which if true would hardly leave the Bush administration sparkling clean.

      All this from the administration that promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Funny, but I never hear Bush or his compadres using that phrase any more. (Source: New York Times July 26, 2007)

    69. In a report published by UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2007 publication, United States is comparable in performance to Poland, and outdone by Portugal when it comes to deaths of children under 5 years of age. That puts the USA down toward the bottom middle of the pack for the rate of child deaths. The UNICEF analysis within the USA shows that the relatively high infant death rate in the United States is due to the fate of the poorest families among us that do not receive adequate health care for their children.

      This sort of performance should be a badge of national shame, and to some politicians it is. On August 2, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to reauthorize and expand health care coverage for children from poor families through the SCHIP program. Every single Senate progressive voted for the program. 31 Republicans, conservatives every one, voted to deny America's children health care without which America's children will die at a rate that belongs in POLAND. Why? It's not because these children somehow deserve to die. It's not their fault. They haven't done anything wrong, except to by chance be born into poor families.

      Sometimes, political issues can be complicated. But sometimes, they're pretty darned simple. Conservative Republicans voted against legislation to save American babies' lives. Progressives voted for it. If you want to save the babies' lives, vote progressive.(Sources: UNICEF State of the World's Children 2007; U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote 307 in the 110th Congress; Text of H.R. 976)

    70. A confused man who calls himself "Steve" left the following message on Irregular Times yesterday, in response to an article about the Republican presidential candidates' refusal to participate in a debate sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation: "The case for governmental validation of potentially socially destabilizing, biologically illogical sexual behavior is non-existent."

      What I love about this comment is that it exposes the lack of foundation for the right wing's hatred of homosexuality even while it attempts to justify that hatred.

      First of all, "Steve" acknowledges that the most the right wing can actually claim about homosexuality is that it is "potentially socially destabilizing", not actually socially destabilizing in the present. In other words, "Steve" acknowledges that something significant would have to change in order to transform homosexuality from its present non- destabilizing nature into a nature that would be destabilizing. Even as "Steve" attempts to describe a threat to social stability, he accepts the idea that homosexuality really isn't a threat to social stability at all.

      Then there's this idea that the government should not validate "biologically illogical sexual behavior". Strange idea. First of all, and most importantly, the government has no business validating or invalidating private sexual behavior between consenting adults.

      Beyond that, there's the mystery of what biological logic might possibly be. Logic is the process of careful consideration of ideas through the use of rational structures of thought. How, then, could the biology of sexual organs, which are not part of the nervous system of any animal as far as I know, be at all logical or illogical? They weren't designed according to logic, after all, but evolved according to natural, non-thinking processes. No one ever sat down and said, animals will go extinct unless they reproduce, and sex is way that animals can reproduce, therefore I can prevent the extinction of animals by inventing a way for them to have sex. Biology is not founded upon logic, but "Steve" and his right wing antihomosexual allies don't seem to understand that basic point.

      Besides, what does "Steve" really want? Does he want the government to go around interfering in Americans' private lives in order to promote logical sex? That sounds dreadfully boring. My wife and I have illogical sex all the time, and we like it that way. If right wing activists like "Steve" want to be restricted to having just logical sex, then it's their right to choose that restriction voluntarily, I suppose. They ought not to use the power of government, however, to impose their logical, boring approach to sex on the rest of us.

      Preserve the right to fun, illogical sex. Vote to elect a progressive President in 2008.

    71. Tens of thousands of children stood to receive health insurance under the expansion of the S-Chip program passed by Congress in the summer of 2007.

      This distressed George W. Bush so much that he threatened to veto that legislation.

      On August 17 2007, George W. Bush implemented an administrative order to block the delivery of funds which would have ensured that those tens of thousands of children had health insurance. Now, thanks to Bush's right wing ideological opposition to government funded health-care, huge numbers of American children do not have insurance to protect them in case of illness or injury.

      Those children have become victims of Republican moral values. (Source: Bloomberg News August 21, 2007)

    72. America would be much better off if only the leaders of the Republican Party would have listened to Isaac Asimov when he advised, "Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right."

    73. On June 7, 2006, Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho voted to approve an amendment to the United States Constitution which would have specifically made marriages between same-sex partners unconstitutional. It's a good thing that others in the Senate showed the necessary resolve, understanding of liberty, moral compass, and general good sense to vote this amendment down, because Sen. Craig failed to do that job himself. Instead, Senator Craig voted with the minority of Americans who believe that equal protection under law is a real drag, who believe that civil rights should exist only for some people and not others, who believe that gay Americans should be classified under the constitution as second-class citizens.

      On June 11, 2007, Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is alleged to have stared through a crack of the door of a men's room stall at an undercover police officer, and then to have played footsie with the same undercover police officer as each sat in adjacent men's room stalls. Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from the incident and is currently serving a year's probation.

      Whether Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is actually gay or not may matter for the tabloids, but I don't think his sexual identity is really what matters. What's striking to me is that Senator Craig has been caught in the trap of prurient and obsessive sex policing set up by his own political party. If Senator Craig's political career comes to an end, it will be thanks to the system of unequal treatment under the law for gay and lesbian Americans that he himself has worked to erect and perpetuate. It will take someone with more courage than Larry Craig to end that unfair and unjust system. (Source: Los Angeles Times August 27, 2007)

    74. In 2005, Republicans the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill saying that doctors and other health care providers can opt out of treating a person because of moral, ethical, or religious objections. Since when do health care providers get to not treat someone for any reason, much less because of religious reasons? Encouraging doctors to refuse to provide medical care doesn't seem like the kind of health care reform America really needs, but right wing activists seem to think it's just the thing for what ails us.

    75. The Larry Craig sex hypocrisy scandal became a test of decency for politicians associated with him. Would the Republicans who once supported Larry Craig and were supported by him remain as his allies, or would they turn against him now that he has become politically weak?

      Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney fails the test of decency. It seems that Romney's campaign is working as hard as it can to cut all ties with Larry Craig. Before the news about Larry Craig's run-in with the sex police over in Minneapolis came out, the Romney for President campaign proudly displayed a video of Senator Craig endorsing Romney's campaign. As soon as the Romney for President campaign found out about the allegations, the campaign pulled the endorsement of Romney by Larry Craig down from its YouTube web site.

      Why? Well, one line spoken by Larry Craig in that pro-Romney video seems to have been particularly embarrassing to the Romney campaign: "Knowing Governor Mitt Romney is knowing somebody who first and foremost has very strong family values. That's something I grew up with and believe in."

      Why is that line embarrassing to Mitt Romney? Well, it exposes the right wing lie that a politician who says that he or she supports family values actually does support family values. The truth is that neither Larry Craig nor Mitt Romney really support family values. They oppose marriage equality, and try to block many loving couples from forming families.

      What the Mitt Romney campaign didn't count on is that people would be able to grab the video of Larry Craig before it was deleted from the Romney YouTube site. If the Romney campaign had just left the Larry Craig endorsement video online, there wouldn't have been much of a story about it. It's really no big deal that a Republican presidential candidate might be endorsed by another Republican politician who just so happened to be mixed up in a sex scandal.

      It is a big deal, however, that Mitt Romney has turned against his old friend Larry Craig so quickly, just because evidence is mounting that Craig has engaged in homosexual behavior. The insight into Mitt Romney's values is clear: Mitt Romney will turn against his friends and political allies the minute that they are no longer useful to him.

      The Idaho Statesman reports that Mitt Romney ordered one of his sons to cancel a trip to Boise because of Larry Craig's sex scandal. Apparently, Mitt Romney believes that it's just too dangerous for his son to even be in the same city as an associate who is known to be homosexual.

      Those aren't the kind of family values I want to teach my children. The family values I believe in include the value of keeping friendships in troubled times. I want my children to learn that it's wrong to abandon old friendships when a rough patch comes along. I want my children to learn to stand by their friends when the going gets rough.

      It seems that Mitt Romney has taught a very different moral lesson to his sons: That when friends get in trouble, you should just turn your back and walk away. (Sources: LiveLeak.com, Idaho Statesman, August 28, 2007)

    76. When Douglas S. Smith Jr., the national program director of the Boy Scouts of America was caught with huge amounts of child pornography, how did Senator Bill Frist, Republican leader of the U.S. Senate at the time, respond? He introduced a bill in the United States Senate that would increase government welfare for the Boy Scouts organization. The bill even required the U.S. military to provide the Boy Scouts with military equipment at a time when real, grown-up soldiers fighting in a real war zone remain only partially equipped. The bill was formally recorded as S. 642, though its name ought to have been The Boy Scouts Welfare and Seduction Act.

      Even when faced with the revelation that a child pornography ring had infiltrated the Boy Scout of America's top leadership, Senator Frist refused to withdraw his bill, or even to delay it until investigations of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts are conducted.

      So what exactly are those moral values we're supposed to get from the Republican Party, and the Boy Scouts organization they support with public money? The more I see of their simpering, weak reactions to the abuse of children, it seems to me that their supposed moral lessons to America are to shut up, don't ask questions, salute like good little boys, pledge obedience, and look the other way when our leaders do something we know to be wrong.

    77. Do you think Hillary Clinton is just a Bitch?

      My guess is probably not. In my experience, a majority of people, or at least a majority of the people who encounter Irregular Times (be they conservatives, liberals, libertarians or anarchists) tend to ground their thinking in principles, and even if I find myself in vehement disagreement with those principles I have some basic respect for people who at least have positions with some reasoning behind them. So if you, like I, have some problems with Hillary Clinton's candidacy, I imagine that you have some sort of basis for your conclusion that involves the connection of substantive facts with an organized set of propositions. You know, rational junk like that.

      But you know, not everybody comes to conclusions like that. Some people decide who and what they will support based on how their gut feels. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff used his "gut feeling" to predict a rash of terrorist attacks in the summer of 2007. They didn't happen. George W. Bush used the following test to measure up Russian president Vladimir Putin:

      "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

      Putin ended up trashing Russia's juvenile democracy, jailing his political opponents and shutting down dissenting news organizations. Bush and Chertoff aren't alone in this: pro-Bush bloggers have long been calling Clinton a "power hungry bitch" and asking her husband to "choke her to death on his Monica stick." More recently, conservative rocker Ted Nugent took to the stage to refer to Hillary Clinton as a "worthless bitch" (right after he threatened to kill Barack Obama with a machine gun). This sort of conservative politics based in irrational anger is also part of the motivation for more mainstream members of the conservative chattering class. Conservative TV pundit, talk radio guest and commentator Debbie Schlussel unveiled her ideal anti-Clinton bumper sticker on August 24, 2007. It features a picture of Hillary Clinton, and reads, "The Bitch Is Back '08".

      In conservative circles, a "Bitch" is a woman who speaks up, who won't back down, and doesn't care if it makes her look bad. Conservatives admire that in a man. But when they see backbone in a woman, it makes them mad. It makes them angry. It makes them steamed. They prefer the Laura Bush model of a woman: overdone makeup, pasted-on smiles and quiet support of whichever alpha man happens to be in the room.

      Is that what you want for slightly more than half of the American population? Or are you sick and tired of your mothers, your sisters, your daughters and Hillary Clinton being denigrated as a "bitch" for the audacity of strong, independent opinions? Why on earth would you make common cause with the people who are getting their jollies doing exactly that? (Sources: White House News Release, June 18 2001; Reuters, July 11 2007; Chicago Sun-Times August 27 2007)

    78. Another example of America's moral decay came in March 2005, with the report of an investigation the Pentagon conducted upon itself. Vice Admiral Albert T. Church the Third concluded his investigation of:

      - hundreds upon hundreds of remarkably similar acts of torture by American soldiers and intelligence agents, most of whom have never met each other
      - the worldwide nature of these acts of torture by Americans, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and other foreign countries, as well as domestic prisons run by "Homeland Security" officials
      - the purposeful transfer of military officers already accused of organizing torture in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan to prisons in Iraq in order to "improve" interrogation techniques there

      Add on to this the background of the official policy, well known within the White House but a secret from the American people until this week, authorized by President Bush himself, that people on American soil be sent to foreign countries to be tortured, even though those people have never been charged with a crime.

      Vice Admiral Albert T. Church the Third investigated all this, and what did he determine? He concluded that no one is to blame.

      Vice Admiral Church put special emphasis on his conclusion that no one in the Bush Administration bore any responsibility at all for the torture. That's a strange conclusion for the Vice Admiral to arrive at, given that the investigation purposefully avoided any questioning of anyone in the Bush Administration. Vice Admiral Albert T. Church the Third and his team of intrepid investigators concluded that the Bush Administration was completely blameless in spite of the fact that no one from the investigation ever bothered to talk to anyone from the Bush White House - not Donald Rumsfeld, not Condoleeza Rice, not Alberto Gonzales, not Dick Cheney, and not George W. Bush. In fact, Church's investigation concluded a lack of blame in the White House without ever bothering to conduct any actual investigation of the matter.

      It's important to remember that the very same military that now claims to have conducted an "investigation" of the torture, actually concealed the torture from the American public. We should not be surprised when the same people who covered up the torture announce that no one is to blame for it.

      The most disturbing aspect of this report is that it is a symptom of a more general decay in moral values in American society as a whole. The military, the Bush Administration and the Republican Party are leading Americans down a path of dangerous immorality that leads us to a place where anything goes, any crime is all right as long as you can get away with it, and no matter how much damage is done, no one is to blame. The shameful example of the nationalist Republicans teaches that Americans should do whatever makes them feel good, no matter how many people get hurt, and do everything they can to avoid responsibility for the consequences.

      For this moral decline of America, the White House is to blame. The Pentagon is to blame. However, the blame must not stop there. When no one is to blame, then we are all to blame.

    79. George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." Progressives believe that America deserves better. Conservatives believe that we only deserve what we had in the past, and ought not even have what we have earned in the present

    80. In August of 2006, Republican commentator Tucker Carlson made the following statement on the air regarding 9/11 conspiracy theories:
      "It is wrong, blasphemous, and sinful for you to suggest, imply or help other people come to the conclusion that the U.S. government killed 3,000 of its own citizens, because it didn't!"

      I don't believe the 9/11 conspiracy theories, but that's beside the point. The point is that blasphemy and sin are acts of rebellion against a god, not against a government.

      Blasphemy and sin are strictly religious concepts used by adherents to a faith to prevent others from saying things that provide discomfort, without the burden of actually demonstrating how and why the things said are acutally wrong. Tucker Carlson's description of dissent as "blasphemous and sinful" is indicative of the alarming tendency of conservative politicians and talking heads not only to subscribe to political theories with a religious zeal, but also to press others into a credulous, faith-based conformity.

      It is not blasphemous or sinful to question the government, even when one's line of questioning turns out to be a dead end. (Source: MSNBC, August 9, 2006)

    81. On August 22, 2007, Tucker Carlson accused American soldiers of squandering their "moral authority" by writing an editorial that dared to say that the truth as they see it on the ground in Iraq does not match the depiction of the military occupation of Iraq given by President George W. Bush. As Tucker Carlson sees it, soldiers who tell the truth about what happens during war lose their moral authority.

      So, who does have moral authority, according to Tucker Carlson's view of the world? People who smash in the heads of gay people, for one.

      Just a few days after he attacked American soldiers for telling the truth, Tucker Carlson was on the attack again, pronouncing his high and mighty judgment about Larry Craig's lack of moral values. First, Carlson nervously declared that he himself is not gay. Then, Carlson described the seriousness of Larry Craig's crime by suggesting that there is a plague of gay men making offers of sexual contact to other men in public bathrooms.

      When asked to back up this strange claim, Tucker Carlson said that a gay man had once made a pass at him in a bathroom. What did Tucker Carlson do in response? He got a friend, tracked the gay man down, grabbed him, and bashed his head against a bathroom stall.

      "Actually, I got that guy... I went back with someone I knew, and grabbed the guy by his, and grabbed him, and... hit him against the stall with his head, actually!"

      Tucker Carlson has inadvertently shown us the twisted heart of right wing ideas of moral authority. As the right wing sees it, soldiers who tell the truth about the missions the President gives the military have no moral authority, are morally inferior to people who go smash in the heads of people because they're gay for fun.

      Even Tucker Carlson can see that his story was grotesque for its gratuitous sadism. That's why he has tried to change his story, to say that, gosh no, he didn't really smash anybody's skull against a bathroom stall. Tucker now also claims that he was sexually assaulted, not just propositioned for sex, and so it was with justice that he went back with a friend to go back to the bathroom, and grab the gay man in return, and hold him, hold him long and hard and tight, until a security guard could show up.

      The detail of the security guard was another change in Tucker Carlson's story. In the first story, the gay man was arrested by the police after Tucker Carlson bashed in his skull. Maybe Tucker thought better of that version of the story upon considering that police records could be checked to see if it were true. People also might ask why the police would arrest someone just for making a pass, but not arrest someone else who beat a man's head in against a bathroom stall.

      The two versions of Tucker Carlson's story just don't add up. So, we're left with a few reasonable possibilities. One possibility is that it never happened, and Tucker Carlson made it all up so as to support his ridiculous claim that there is a national crisis of gay men asking straight men like himself and Larry Craig to have sex in public bathrooms. Another possibility is that Tucker Carlson had an innocuous run-in with a gay man in a public bathroom that made him feel vaguely uncomfortable, and he felt the need to exaggerate the story with claims of physical violence against the gay man in order to show his physical prowess and masculinity. A third possibility is that Tucker Carlson really did slam a gay man's skull against the wall of a bathroom stall, and that he's trying to cover up his unwise revelation of it now in order to save his career, after people expressed their outrage of it.

      Whatever the truth, Tucker Carlson's story shows us a disturbing underlying feeling that violence against gay people is something to be proud of, something that a person can use to prove their heterosexuality and moral righteousness. Even if Carlson was lying in his first version of the story, it's interesting that he thought that his argument would become more respectable if he added in the claim that he slammed a gay man's head against a wall.

      It's important to remember that this sort of anti-gay violence really does take place quite often in America. Most famously, Matthew Sheppard was beaten and left to die, tied to a fencepost out in the countryside near Laramie, Wyoming. Sheppard's killers said that their attack against him was justified because he had asked them to engage in homosexual acts with him.

      In 2008, America needs to reject the sadistic version of moral authority shared by Tucker Carlson and the Sheppard's murderers, and elect a progressive President who understands that morality is incompatible with smashing in other people's skulls in public bathrooms. (Sources: MediaMatters.org, August 22, 2007; GLAAD, August 29, 2007)

    82. David Amodio of New York University is primary author of an article in Nature Neuroscience reporting the results of an experiment he ran with three others. Amodio's research appears to confirm decades of previous research showing that political liberals are more mentally flexible, more perceptive of ambiguity, less simplistic and less rigid in the face of change than political conservatives.

      The research measured responses in a relatively simple task: subjects were asked to press a "Go" button when the letter "M" was displayed, but not to press to "Go" button when the letter "W" was displayed. A large majority of the time, the letter "M" appeared, creating a habit for subjects of pressing the "Go" button. On the relatively infrequent occasions when the letter "W" was displayed, political liberals successfully refrained from pressing "Go" more often than political conservatives. This indicates a greater cognitive ability to resist the force of habit and respond to changes in the environment with changes in behavior.

      If you want to have people running the country, which would you prefer: people who continue to act in the same way even when the circumstances originally prompting that behavior change, or people who are perceptive and responsive to changing conditions in the world around them? (Sources: Chicago Tribune, September 10 2007; Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism, David Amodio et al, Nature Neuroscience, September 9 2007)

    83. Here's what Republican presidential candiate Ron Paul said at the Values Voter Debate last night (my own personal transcription, since I can't seem to find an already prepared transcript): "As an OB doctor of 30 years and having delivered 4,000 babies I can assure you that life begins at conception. I am legally responsible for the unborn no matter what I do. So there's a legal life there. The unborn has inheritance rights, and if there's an injury or a killing, there's a legal entity. There's no doubt about it. I am surprised that I don't have more cosponsors for the Sanctity of Life Act that I have, which would solve all these problems and would have eliminated a lot of abortions by now if we'd have passed it."<

      According to Ron Paul, life begins at conception, and not just any generic form of life. Ron Paul regards life from the moment of conception on as a legally protected full human, saying, "there's a legal life there", beginning "at conception." "If there's an injury or a killing, there's a legal entity. There's no doubt about it."

      These are strong words, and they weren't casually or mistakenly uttered. Ron Paul means this. The text of H.R. 1094, the bill Ron Paul wrote personally and which enshrines his legal views about this, reiterates what he said in the Values Voter Debate:

      H. R. 1094: To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception.

      SEC. 2. FINDING AND DECLARATION.

      (a) Finding- The Congress finds that present day scientific evidence indicates a significant likelihood that actual human life exists from conception.

      (b) Declaration- Upon the basis of this finding, and in the exercise of the powers of the Congress

      (1) the Congress declares that

      (A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and

      (B) the term 'person' shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A); and

      (2) the Congress recognizes that each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.

      SEC. 3. LIMITATION ON APPELLATE JURISDICTION.

      (a) In General- Chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

      'Sec. 1260. Appellate jurisdiction; limitation

      'Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 1253, 1254, and 1257, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any case arising out of any statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, practice, or any part thereof, or arising out of any act interpreting, applying, enforcing, or effecting any statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, or practice, on the grounds that such statute, ordinance, rule, regulation, practice, act, or part thereof

      '(1) protects the rights of human persons between conception and birth; or

      '(2) prohibits, limits, or regulates

      '(A) the performance of abortions; or

      '(B) the provision of public expense of funds, facilities, personnel, or other assistance for the performance of abortions.'

      (b) Conforming Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

      '1260. Appellate jurisdiction; limitation.'.

      SEC. 4. LIMITATION ON DISTRICT COURT JURISDICTION.

      (a) In General- Chapter 85 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

      'Sec. 1370. Limitation on jurisdiction

      'Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the district courts shall not have jurisdiction of any case or question which the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to review under section 1260 of this title.'.

      (b) Conforming Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 85 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

      '1370. Limitation on jurisdiction.'.


      This bill dictates that:

      1. Life legally begins at conception without any condition, even that of "defect or condition of dependency"

      2. The states can pass any law that preserves fertilized eggs
      3. Neither the Supreme Court nor the Federal District courts can challenge the legality of the bill.

      Provision #3 is simply unconstitutional, rendering unto the Congress the ability to simultaneously pass, interpret, and rule on the constitutionality of a law. If Ron Paul is capable of such autocratic tendencies toward chucking away checks and balances, conveniently in his own favor as a legislator, as a lowly member of the House of Representatives, imagine what kind of counterconstitutional stunt he might pull upon gaining the presidency. Of course the Supreme Court can rule on the constitutionality of any bill Rep. Ron Paul passes. Ron Paul can't change that by holding his breath and turning blue, and he can't change that by just saying so in a poorly written law.

      Provisions #1 and #2 lead to absurdly draconian results. Testimony before President Bush's own Presidential Council on BioEthics (PCBE) estimates that: "Chromosome abnormalities are the commonest cause of death in humans. They kill at the very minimum two-thirds of potential humans, more likely 80 to 90 percent and they mostly do so through these lethal aneuploidies."

      Ron Paul's legislation, if passed, will create a circumstance in which suddenly 80 to 90 percent of full legal human lives will be lost to chromosome abnormalities after fertilization. Thanks to Ron Paul, these 80 to 90 percent of fully legal human lives that are destined to die will now be placed under the protection and regulation of the state. Thanks to Ron Paul, it doesn't matter that there's a lethal birth "defect or condition of dependency" big government now has its hands in your (or your wife's, or your girlfriend's, or your mother's, or your sister's, or your daughter's) gonads to protect fully legal human life, with the powers granted by Ron Paul, the states will have legal authority to intervene in any woman's ovaries of reproductive age. And to intervene up their vaginas, too, considering all the healthy-formed zygotes that fail to implant in the uterine wall. These are fully legal human lives that can be "protected" by any means a state wishes to impose, in a manner that can't be reviewed or rejected by the Supreme Court or federal district courts.

      This is Ron Paul's utopia, and "Libertarian" it ain't.

      Is it the America you want to live in? (Sources: Values Voter Debate of September 17 2007; Testimony of John M. Opitz, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Human Genetics, and Obstetrics/Gynecology before the President's Council on Bioethics, January 16, 2003; Text of H.R. 1094 in the 110th Congress)

    84. In May of 2007, three Republican Party candidates for President Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo proclaimed that they did not believe in the existence of evolution. Now that Alan Keyes has joined these figures as a Republican Party candidate for the presidency, we have four politicians who want to run the country but do not believe in the existence of evolution. Here are some of Alan Keyes' thoughts on the subject:

      Preserving right order in families has, in fact, been an essential element in the understanding of right and wrong in almost every decent society that has ever existed. Any account of such order, of course, depends in turn on an understanding of the male and the female, and of their different roles and responsibilities in relation to one another.

      But according to the theory of evolution, the basic biological attributes of our nature have no significance except as particular accidents at which evolution has arrived. How, then, is it possible to ascribe moral significance to them? Evolutionary doctrine removes the basis for making moral judgments about human behavior. Once it is denied that any will or moral being informed the creation of our bodily natures, it is necessarily also denied that there is any moral significance to the biological distinctions that were the consequence of that will. Therefore family, marriage, and the decent constraints on human sexual behavior that have been understood to be essential to society, all seem like totally arbitrary impositions on human will unless, of course, they can be justified by their utility in helping us to avoid immediate inconveniences& .

      Evolutionary theory is the natural ally of all those forces that seek to undermine and destroy traditional social structures, precisely because it appears to relieve us of the acknowledgement of a transcendent authority. Accordingly, it destroys the basis for the possibility of objective truth in anyway relevant to our social and moral affairs& .

      I am confident that defenders of the belief that nature contains a divinely-crafted order have little to fear from an open and principled debate. What we must not do is barter away our commitment to the central features of rightly-ordered human life because of a "scientific" theory that remains only questionably established, but which is being used by its non-scientific proponents to intimidate us. We must remain confident in the goodness of the natural order, in our reason which discerns that order and in the God who is the author of both.

      Alan Keyes' assertions are two-fold:

      1. That his God is the author of biology, that believers in creationism will win any "principled" debate, and that the theory of evolution is "questionably established."

      2. That evolution should be rejected as a theory because without the creating power of a divine authority, there's no reason to obey the moral commandments that are supposed to have been established by that divine authority.

      The first assertion is a characterization of the current state of science, and it shows that Alan Keyes is at variance with the vast majority of biological scientists, undergraduates who have participated in fruit fly lab experiments, and patients who agree to take different sets of antibiotics than they would have thirty years ago.

      The second assertion shows a weakness in Alan Keyes' moral thinking. He begins with a set of authoritarian moral prescriptions that he feels must be agreed to, and from a need to justify his authoritarianism adheres to a view of the universe at odds with empirical observations. Rather than observing what the world is and thinking about the moral implications of that, Alan Keyes lets his psychological need for certainty dictate which observations of the world he will accept and which he won't.

      Alan Keyes isn't alone among authoritarian Republicans in making this kind of argument Ken Ham has made the same argument in writings on behalf of the American Family Association. With his second-hand, second-rate rejections of scientific observation, Alan Keyes fits snugly underneath the Republican umbrella which is an indication that you may want to seek your own shelter elsewhere. (Source: RenewAmerica column by Alan Keyes, July 14 2001)

    85. "Rudy Giuliani doesn't know what he's talking about! He's the most uninformed man in the presidential race on foreign policy."

      Joseph Biden giving the Republican candidate a ding for getting draconian, and placing that ding in context by pointing out that communities that have gotten draconian have found their enforcement budgets busted and the local web of social support broken, ending up costing communities more& and not succeeding in removing illegal immigrants anyway.

      Bill Richardson and Christopher Dodd agree with Biden on this point. Christopher Dodd on immigration punishments: "We're dealing with children!"

      Dennis Kucinich reminds us not to forget the poem The New Collossus by Emma Lazarus, sitting at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

      Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
      I lift up my lamp beside the golden door.

      Says Kucinich, "That's who we are. That's America."

    86. In Late March, 2005, American Captain Rogelio Maynulet was convicted of killing a wounded, unarmed, innocent Iraqi bystander. Captain Maynulet killed the Iraqi because Maynulet didn't want to bother providing medical care, or finding someone who would. Republicans back here in the United States of America say that the killing was justified, and should not be punished, because it was a "mercy killing".

      Yet, these same Republicans twisted themselves into knots of fury when doctors allowed the injuries of a woman called Terri Schiavo to run their course, after ten years of attempts to bring Mrs. Schiavo back from the brink of death, after an episode that left her with the function of all but her non-conscious brain stem intact.

      In the first case, Republicans are supporting the right of soldiers who have no medical training to make snap judgments about whether wounded people deserve medical treatment, and then to shoot them to death if they think that medical treatment is not deserved.

      In the second case, Republicans are arguing that right-wing religious groups should have the power to sever the family ties between husband and wife, overrule medical experts, dismiss scientific evidence, and nullify years of carefully weighed judicial decisions in order to prevent a man from carrying out the wishes of his wife to not use extraordinary medical procedures to keep her devastated body alive for many years after her conscious brain has died.

      The ability of right wing activists to hold these two mutually inconsistent moral positions at the same time suggests that their politics may actually have very little to do with morality at all.

    87. John Edwards and Barack Obama, when presented a question including reference to 2nd graders learning about the existence of same-sex marriages, refused to take the expected "well, I think we need to tolerate differences, but 2nd grade is too young" tack. John Edwards and Barack Obama have elementary school aged children, and both indicated that their kids had already had family conversations about same-sex marriages in our society. Congratulations to Edwards and Obama are due for the way they indicated this in a matter-of-fact, of-course-we-talk-about-such-things, manner. They just helped move Americans' assumptions forward on this issue.

      I have a second grader at home, and I find myself somewhere between amusement and disbelief when a theocrat implies that if we discuss sexuality with our young children, they will somehow explode or leak strange green liquids or otherwise be permanently damaged. What an odd notion. When my son was in 1st grade and we moved next door to a married gay couple, I mentioned that sometimes men marry each other as a way of explaining that, and did my son explode? Did he leak green goo? Did he develop an odd tic? Has he begun squishing crickets as a way of expressing his anguish? Come on! No! He responded with a pause of about a second and then an "Oh, OK," and then moving on with his play.

      Some people have the oddest notion that our nation's children are fragile. Look at kids some time. Childhood is tough. Our kids are tough. They are perfectly capable of dealing with the true and apparent information that sometimes women live with women and sometimes men live with men. I want to thank John Edwards and Barack Obama again for refusing to buy into the prude patrol's gasping underestimation of children.

      Barack Obama put it this way, that we need "not to be afraid of people who are different," and that we need to "stop fanning people's fears."

      It's a moral values thing. The Republicans just wouldn't understand.

    88. Just a few days after opening up a Newt Gingrich section over under our general Election 2008 section, we're having to close it down. Why? Well, just a few days after Newt Gingrich announced that he would run for President if his supporters could gather 30 million dollars in pledges for donations to his presidential campaign, Gingrich said yesterday that he had reconsidered, and would not run for President no matter what.

      Why did Newt Gingrich change his mind? Apparently, someone advised Gingrich that, if he ran for President, he would have to give up his business of giving speeches in exchange for money. The Associated Press reports that Gingrich sometimes is able to convince groups to pay him "$40,000 for a speech".

      Campaign money would be a much less direct form of income. Sure, Gingrich could use a lot of that pledged 30 million dollars for things like rides in fancy airplanes and dinners out at expensive restaurants, but much of the money would go to consultants telling Gingrich what to do. Newt Gingrich doesn't seem to like anyone telling him what to do. So, he's opting out.

      It's a decision that reveals a lot about Newt Gingrich's values. Gingrich has said that the United States is in serious trouble, but when it comes to a choice between serving his country, doing it for a rather nice income too, and making loads of money without doing much work, Newt Gingrich chooses making money.

      Progressive activists around the country are making the opposite choice. We don't make $40,000 for giving a speech. Most of us don't make any money for our progressive activism at all. Yet, we go ahead and do what we can. That's because progressive activism is not a tool for making money. It's a way of living based upon the ideal of personal sacrifice for the sake of high ideals that will make the world a better place for everyone in it.

      In 2008, step back from all the big money games and find the presidential candidate who best matches that truly progressive mode of activism. (Source: Associated Press, September 29, 2007)

      --------------

      The right wing attitude of patriotism is a shallow, mean thing that turns the most honorable motivations of our democracy into a selfish desire to keep what we value for ourselves, and deny it to others. Here's what some wise people have had to say about this form of patriotism:

    89. "Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." - Bertrand Russell

    90. "'My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" - G. K. Chesterton

    91. "Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." - George Bernard Shaw
    92. "Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles." - George Jean Nathan
    93. "You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it." - Malcolm X
    94. "When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

      ---------------

    95. Musician Bruce Springsteen has expressed a sense of patriotism shared by many progressives when he recently commented to a reporter, "I believe every citizen has a stake in the course, direction of their country. That's why we vote. It's unpatriotic at any given moment to sit back and let things pass that are damaging to some place that you love so dearly and that has given me so much."

      Like Springsteen, progressives feel motivated to express their patriotism in a much richer form than just waving a flag or wearing a lapel pin. Progressives believe that it's their patriotic duty to participate as citizens in an open debate about the activities of their government.

      In his new album, Magic, Springsteen feels motivated to speak out, through song, about the damage that the current right wing leaders of the United States are doing to this country. It's not a new stand for Springsteen, however, who first grabbed my attention as something more than just another self-absorbed pop star with his album The Ghost of Tom Joad, which explored injustice and social separation in the shadows of working America.

      Some right wingers, desperate to quiet any signals of popular dissent with their agenda, are expressing their displeasure with Bruce Springsteen's decision to take detours off the pop music superhighway of man meets woman. As for myself, I'm glad to get off that tired old road. I'd like to see in the next President of the United States the kind of person who takes the smaller roads as well. (Source: Reuters, October 7, 2007)

    96. Did you know that during the Ford administration Dick Cheney advocated the arrest of journalist Seymour Hersh and the searching of his apartment? Hersh's offense was to write a news article in the New York Times disclosing that the CIA had once searched for a sunken Soviet submarine. Even the CIA said Hersh's article was harmless, but Cheney's impulse was to use the power of the presidency to destroy a man's life. It says something frightening about Republican moral values that such a man was rewarded with the vice presidency. (Source: Sidney Blumenthal for Salon.com, November 24 2005)

    97. Before the 2004 election, I shared the common liberal presumption that if the American people only knew about the torture and other cruel lawlessness being perpetrated by the Bush Administration in their name, they would surely oppose the re-election of Bush as president. It is now clear that we liberals were quite wrong to make this presumption. I was wrong.

      Not in spite of, but largely because of, President Bush's policies of torture and repression, a slim majority of the American people chose to keep Bush in office. The Republican voters knew what Bush had done, and they willingly embraced it. Like the pro-Nazi voters in Germany decades ago, the Republican nationalists in America have expressed their true values: They have chosen the thrill of extreme patriotism and the draconian tactics of a security state, and rejected the feeling of vulnerability that comes with true liberty.

      For those of us in the 48 percent that chose liberty over power, this is a difficult lesson for us to learn, but we must learn it if we are to continue our struggle to oppose the Republican nationalist agenda. We must not be content merely to inform. We must also persuade the nationalist 51 percent that the pursuit of American power regardless of the law, basic decency, and our traditional values of liberty will lead our nation into moral darkness and historical infamy.

    98. The State Department under Condoleeza Rice may have cancelled the opening of the American embassy in Iraq until further notice, but that doesn't mean that the embassy is unable to communicate any messages about the United States to the Iraqi people. On the contrary, one message about the American people has been delivered through the still incomplete American embassy: The American government is profoundly corrupt.

      The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is reporting that the building of the new American embassy in Iraq, arranged through Vice President Dick Cheney's corporation Halliburton, was arranged through bribery. The committee chair, Henry Waxman, explains in a letter to Secretary of State Rice that, "Documents reveal that the Justice Department has asserted in court papers that the Managing Partner of First Kuwaiti, the prime contractor, bribed officials to obtain subcontracts for First Kuwaiti. According to these documents, Wadih El Absi agreed to pay over $200,000 in kickbacks to obtain subcontracts under a Halliburton subsidiary's multi-billion dollar contract to provide logistical support for U.S. troops in lraq. Mr. El Absi operates First Kuwaiti as a foreign corporation out of Kuwait and refused to travel to the United States to testify at the Committee's hearing in July."

      The Iraqi people understand quite well the implications of an American embassy in Iraq built through corruption and conflict of interest that runs all the way up to the office of the Vice President of the United States. In 2008, we need to elect a progressive President to provide a clean break and show the Iraqi people that American voters will not tolerate corruption in their government's dealings. (Source: Letter from Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, October 9, 2007)

    99. Do Republicans oppose torture, or do they oppose opposing torture? Our experience in writing Irregular Times has been the latter. In response to one anti-torture we wrote, for example, a Republican reader who chose the pen name "Anonymous" merely wrote back to criticize Irregular Times for trying to stop the torture being committed by the American government. The reader had no criticism for the actual torture, and didn't even try to deny that torture is being committed by the Bush Administration. This anonymous Republican called the Irregular Times writers "stupid ass" idiots. My thought in response is that "stupid ass" is in the eye of the beholder.

    100. Republican politicians like to say that they "support the troops", but in fact, they dishonor those serving in the military by lowering the moral standards for enlistment. The number of character waivers for enlistees is way up since the Republicans took the White House in the 2000 election. Since the year 2003 alone, the number of convicted felons allowed to enter the military each year has increased by over 350 percent. (Source: Chicago Tribune, October 11, 2007)

    101. In determining the root cause of the post-invasion failure of the American military mission in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez is clear: It wasn't a lack of military might that brought about the failure. It was a lack of moral courage.

      "It was an absolute lack of moral courage to stand up and do what was right in terms of planning. And we allowed ourselves to believe that we, in fact, would be liberators. That was unacceptable in my view," Sanchez says.

      The right wing prides itself on lecturing the rest of America on moral values, but it appears that they have some moral considerations of their own to undertake. As Sanchez suggests, they appear to have mistaken the power to fight with a moral reason for fighting. (Source: Voice of America, October 12, 2007)

    102. As I hear the Republican presidential candidates talk about family values, they'll talk about Bibles and who gets to marry who, but I hardly ever hear them talk about health care. It seems an odd omission, until I remember that the Republican presidential candidates don't really have any solutions when it comes to fixing health care. They seem to think things are pretty good, and only propose fiddling a little bit around the edges of the problem.

      A new study released by the United Nations shows the consequence of this Republican neglect of health care. In Europe, only one in 16,400 pregnant mothers dies of complications from pregnancy in childbirth. In the United States, that number is much higher, with one in 4,800 pregnant mothers dying of complications from pregnancy in childbirth. That means that a pregnant woman in the United States is about three and half times more likely to die than a pregnant woman in Europe.

      The difference? Socialized medicine. Europeans have a tradition of socialized medicine, and it makes for a more healthy population, with good preventive care. Socialized medicine in Europe prevents a huge number of pregnant women from dying.

      Republican politicians are always warning Americans that progressive health care reform means socialized medicine, as if that's a bad thing. Stop and think for a second. What's so bad about socialized medicine, other than the loss of profits for big hospital corporations and pharmaceuticals giants?

      Forget the Republican hype. Remember true family values. Remember the facts. Socialized medicine means fewer pregnant women dying. (Source: Reuters, October 13, 2007)

    103. Republicans may talk about family values, but their policies actually threaten the health of the most vulnerable members of American families: Preschool children. A new study finds that pollutants created by burning coal and automobiles increase the rate of bronchitis among children between the ages of two and four and a half years of age.

      Republicans promote the preservation of dirty coal-burning power plants and inefficiently-powered automobiles, when cleaner alternatives are available, and promoted by Republicans' progressive rivals. That's not good for the environment in general, and it's not good for the the lungs of our preschool children.

      Family values that make children sick are sham values. (Source: Environmental News Network, October 15, 2007)

    104. I'd like to see the Republican Party write a letter to "All Haythem", explaining how much Republicans support family values. Haythem's wife and son were shot to death, on their way back home from picking up the son's application for dental school, by mercenaries hired by Blackwater USA, which in turn has been hired by the American government to help maintain the American military occupation of Iraq. "They destroyed my family and they killed my beloved wife, my better half. They deprived me of my eldest son who I have raised into a strong, young man," Haythem says. Sadly, no letter will be written. The Republican National Committee cannot write a letter to "All Haythem", because that's not the man's full name. The man's full name has been concealed by CNN in order to protect him from violent reprisals of the sort that are all too common under the American military occupation. A set of family values that leads to the murder of a mother and son who are doing nothing more violent than thinking about dental school won't help families in America any more than it will help families in Iraq. (Source: CNN, October 16, 2007)

    105. Many who support right wing politicians have good intentions. They're motivated by the belief that they're helping to save lives, in spite of the right wing's pro-war agenda, because right wing politicians oppose the legalization of abortion.

      Abortion certainly does kill, though the nature of the killing is disputed, depending on the developmental stage of the embryo.

      The implicit assumption in the Pro-Life movement is that, because abortion kills, laws against abortion will stop the killing, or at least reduce it. That assumption, it turns out, is incorrect.

      A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, published in The Lancet, found that rates of abortion are the same in countries where abortion is illegal as in countries where abortion is legal.

      The conclusion is obvious: Laws against abortion do not stop people from getting abortions. Whether you believe that abortion is immoral or not, the right wing proposal, to ban abortion, is not a solution that will work. (Source: Associated Press, October 12, 2007)

    106. Here's another reason to vote progressive in 2008: His name is Bill. Writing to us from Missouri, Bill lets us know what informs his thinking about the 2008 presidential race:

      "I don't usually use the word 'hate' for the simple reason I feel it's over used. Like the word 'hero' way, way over used word. Anyways, I have to use the word hate when it comes to this BITCH! I can't say that I have ever disliked 'hated' anyone as much as I do her. I know who I hate 2nd most in this world, that wothless 'I feel you pain' husband of her's. I find it really hard to believe that we as a country are having to face this shit again. You can thank these stupid female voters. Why the hell they were ever given the right to votes is beyond me."

      Now I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hillary Clinton is a progressive candidate. But Bill reminds us that there are, well, people like him out there. People for whom a woman in power is just a bitch. People who'd rather that the females didn't have the right to vote in the first place. You can think of Bill and his ilk as our American Taliban. And hey, when it comes to Election Day somebody's got to cancel out Bill's vote. Let that somebody be you.

    107. Why is it time for a progressive president? It's a simple matter of numbers. Most Americans hold the progressive position on the issue of torture. 81% of Americans say they want the next American president to "make it clear that the policy of the United States is to oppose torture and follow the Geneva Conventions." That would be the statement of a progressive president. (Source: ACLU Survey of Registered Voters, October 4, 2007)

    108. Listen to the voices of Republican presidential front-runners Rudolph Giuliani and Fred Thompson. When asked if he believed waterboarding, the simulated drowning technique, was torture, Giuliani remarked that "It depends on who does it." Fred Thompson promised he wouldn't order waterboarding "as a matter of course," but sometimes would "do what is necessary" to stop the terrorists.

      Waterboarding, as with any interrogation tactic that produces the perception of death, is rendered clearly illegal under federal law — specifically, 18 U.S.C. 2340. So what are Fred Thompson and Rudolph Giuliani saying here? That it's acceptable for presidents to break laws to stop terrorists? That breaking the law is permissible as long as you do it just every once in a while, but not habitually? That it's OK for some people to break the law but not for other people to break the law?

      What kind of moral and legal values are these? Would you trust Fred Thompson or Rudolph Giuliani to make the right decision if it were you strapped to that chair? (Source: New York Times October 26 2007)

    109. Have you ever had sex with someone and not told anyone else about it? Have you ever had sex without being married? Have you ever had sex while using a contraceptive? Have you ever had oral sex? Have you ever had sex with someone of your same gender?

      If your answer to any of these questions is "yes", then the Republican morality police are coming after you. I don't mean this as a play on words. The Republican party, as a matter of its policy objectives, seems intent upon making these kinds of sexual activities illegal, so that the people who have sex of these kinds can be thrown in jail or prison, made to pay fines, or perform unpaid community service.

      You might have thought that the Republicans would have learned their lesson when the American people turned on them after the Republicans impeached the American President for getting a blow job. Sadly, the Republicans are getting older but not any wiser. Now, the Republican Party is coming out in favor of laws that make it illegal for ordinary citizens to have sex in ways that have not given the official Republican stamp of approval.

      Thinking of trying out a new position with your husband tonight? You had better check it with Republican Senator Rick Santorum first. Back in 2003, the GOP Senator appointed himself the regulator of Americans' sexual habits, a magistrate of love who desired the power to lock people up for making love in a manner of their own choosing.

      Think this description is an exaggeration? Listen to these words straight from Senator Santorum's mouth: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

      Yes, you're reading that correctly. Republican Senator Rick Santorum was, in this statement, comparing the right to have "consensual sex within your home" with the right to commit incest. The Senator suggested that the Supreme Court ought to rule that adult Americans do not have the right to engage in acts of consexual sex within their own homes!

      Specifically, the Senator was commenting on a case concerning a Texas law before the Supreme Court in which the Court is being asked to rule whether Americans have a right to privacy which prevents the government from outlawing consensual sex behind closed doors. Senator Santorum confirmed this as he explained in a later statement that, "my comments were specific to the right to privacy". What it boils down to is this: A few lawyers from Texas, Senator Santorum and the national Republican Party are joining forces to make a stand in opposition to the right of Americans to have sex in private.

      The national Republican Party stands against the right for you to have sex in private without the government getting in the way. Lest you think that Senator Rick "Sex Censor" Santorum is off on some kind individual crusade against the right to consexual sex all on his own, let me point out that Santorum made these remarks as none other than the Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. That's the number three position in the leadership of the Republican Party. Far from being a GOP outsider, Senator Santorum stood at the center of the Party when he made these remarks, one of the few people that are given to power to determine what the policies of the Republican Party are. When Senator Santorum made statements in support of making "consensual sex within your home" illegal, he didn't just speak for himself. He spoke for the national Republican Party.

      In further evidence of the national Republican Party's desire to make consensual sex illegal, there was not one single Republican leader on the national scene who has opposed Senator Santorum's statements. Senator Santorum himself refused to apologize for his comments. Republican Senator Arlen Specter, Santorum's partner Senator from Pennsylvania, gave quick support to Santorum's rallying cry against the right to sex in private. Even George W. Bush has declined to rebuke Santorum, or even distance himself from the idea of arresting people for having consensual sex. The clear conclusion is that President Bush favors or is willing to tolerate a policy of making sex between consenting adults a crime.

      The obvious irony is that Republicans claim that they stand against big government. Republican politicians will vigorously defend, for example, the right of Americans to gather huge caches of military-style machine guns of the kind used by the DC snipers earlier in the decade. They will angrily defend the right of huge corporations to dump pollutants in our nation's rivers and streams without government regulation. However, when it comes to the basic ability of Americans to have sex in private without police or other government agents checking up on them to make sure that they're having sex the right way, the Republicans reverse course and say that there ought to be laws enabling the government to tell people what to do in their bedrooms. To me, when the government is given the right to get in bed with me and my wife and arrest us if we don't follow its guidelines, there's no better example of big government abuse.

      Don't we have enough real crime going on out there for our police to be working on? Why, as George W. Bush's administration is cutting funds for policing programs across the country and refusing to help states pay for their own law enforcement needs, is the Republican Party promoting laws that would convert our neighborhood police into sexual snooping squads?

      Supporting laws that outlaw consensual sex is just another example of the way that the Republican Party has lost touch with ordinary Americans. The arrogant, big government attitude of politicians like Senator Santorum may appeal to the leaders of the Republican Party, but it sure doesn't fit with what most Americans believe. We all assume that it's our own right to decide when we're going to have sex, and where and how we're going to do it. Unfortunately, these days, a vote for the Republican Party is a vote to bring the government into every American's bedroom.

      This November, Americans need to consider: Is that really the kind of vote we want to cast?

    110. In one of the more thoughtful questions asked recently, author Thomas Frank wrote a book around the exploration of What's the Matter With Kansas?. Frank's subject was really an attempt to understand why the working families of Kansas are voting against their economic self-interest by voting for Republican politicians. These Republican politicians push through special tax breaks for the extremely wealthy even as they cut support for programs that help working families who are struggling to make ends meet.

      Frank's explanation of this irrational voting pattern is that Republican politicians have managed to convince Kansas voters that it's more important to vote in favor of a right wing cultural agenda than to vote for their economic self-interest. So, Kansas voters put Republican politicians in public office who give huge favors to corporate interests that drain the Kansas economy, and do so because those politicians promise to ban abortion, push Christianity in public school classrooms, and pass legislation that enshrines right wing religious values in the law.

      Thomas Frank's hypothesis was supported in spades as the world watched the Kansas Board of Education hold a modern-day version of the Scopes Monkey Trial - a crude set of hearings rigged to push Intelligent Design Theology, the latest incarnation of Creationism, into high school science classrooms. It's a repetition of a similar theocratic song and dance a few years ago that gave Kansas an international reputation as an out-of-touch backwater that favored medieval values over the value of a good education. (It's enough to make one wonder how the Kansas fundamentalists would feel if scientists all of a sudden began a campaign to require churches to teach evolution theology.) The Kansas Board of Education, dominated by right wing politicians, seems set to approve the introduction of the religious principles of Intelligent Design Theology into public high schools this summer, in spite of the well-demonstrated lack of scientific validity of the Intelligent Design curriculum.

      One could easily conclude that right wing activists are trying to take Kansas culture back to the early 1800s, before Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace published their theories of natural selection. This conclusion is supported by the candidacy of Kay O'Connor for the office of Kansas Secretary of State. O'Connor showed her appreciation of 19th century values when she declared, "I think the 19th Amendment, while it's not an evil in and of itself, is a symptom of something I don't approve of … I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family."

      The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, for those of you who aren't familiar with the history of liberty in the United States, is the amendment that gave women the right to vote. So, Ms. O'Connor was saying, in effect, that she doesn't approve of women voting, and believes that women being given the right to vote is a symptom of a larger evil. That's a special concern now that O'Connor is running for Secretary of State, because the Secretary of State oversees public elections in Kansas.

      Are the people of Kansas really yearning for the good old days when women couldn't vote and everybody believed that the Earth was just six thousand years old? It's worth remembering what else was going on in Kansas in the time before biological evolution and women's suffrage came into being. Settlers favoring traditional American values were flooding into Kansas to wage a real culture war, killing Kansas residents who favored the abolition of slavery so that, when the time came for a vote, Kansas could keep its black people in chains.

      What's the matter with Kansas? Kansas appears to be rushing toward the edge of enlightenment and liberty, to hurtle off into the deep end of America's darkest history. That's bad enough for the people of Kansas, but what really frightens me is that the Republican Party's leaders want to do for America what they've done for Kansas.

    111. Right wing psychologist Trayce Hansen is among those who oppose equal marriage rights for homosexual couples and heterosexual couples. She lends her credentials as a psychologist to give the veneer of professionalism this opinion, but then uses non-psychological arguments to support her claims.

      For example, one of the rationales Hansen gives for rejecting equal marriage rights for all American couples is that allowing same-sex marriage would force the government to give recognition to other forms of marriage as well. She writes,

      "If society permits same-sex marriage, it also will have to allow other types of marriage. The legal logic is simple: If prohibiting same-sex marriage is discriminatory, then disallowing polygamous marriage, polyamorous marriage, or any other marital grouping will also be deemed discriminatory. The emotional and psychological ramifications of these assorted arrangements on the developing psyches and sexuality of children would be disastrous. And what happens to the children of these alternative marriages if the union dissolves and each parent then 'remarries'? Those children could end up with four fathers, or two fathers and four mothers, or, you fill in the blank."

      There are three parts to Trayce Hansen's argument:

      1. "If society allows same-sex marriage, it also will have to allow other types of marriage."
      2. Other types of marriage than monogamous are harmful to children.
      3. Non-monogamous types of marriage can result in children having more than one father or mother.

      Hansen's first point is easy to refute. One need only remember that the same justification was made against allowing couples of different ethnicities to marry in the United States. Laws against miscegenation were dismantled over a generation ago, and yet, same-sex marriage has remained illegal. History proves that dismantling one form of discrimination does not, unfortunately, lead to the dismantling of other forms of discrimination.

      Some of the sorts of marriage that Trayce Hansen worries could be made legal are already, in fact, legal. Polyamory is not against federal law, although there are some archaic, unenforced laws on the books in a few backwaters against sexual affairs outside of marriage.

      Besides that, Trayce Hansen's second point is unsupported by the facts. Are children psychologically harmed by polygamous marriages? They can be, but then again, children can also be psychologically harmed by monogamous heterosexual marriages. There is no scientific study that indicates that polygamy is inherently psychologically damaging to children. What damages children psychologically is abuse and neglect, not abstract models of family organization. That's why it's important to outlaw abuse and neglect, not structures of family organization that some religious or political groups claim to be unhealthy.

      Finally, Trayce Hansen worries that polyamorous or polygamous marriages, when there is divorce and remarriage, could lead to children having multiple fathers or multiple mothers. That might be an argument against polyamorous or polygamous marriages, if the same thing was not true of heterosexual, monogamous marriages. Take a look at Rudolph Giuliani and the confusion his children have had to experience because of their father's multiple marriages. He's not a polygamist. His marriages have all been the right wing ideal - between one man and one woman.

      So, the objections of right wing ideologues like Trayce Hansen don't hold up to even simple inquiry. Their agenda is not truly in favor of the interests of family values. Instead, their agenda is against the liberty for Americans to form families that fit their values. We need to have a President of the United States who will oppose the sort of sloppy thinking that she and her colleagues promote, and support marriage equality for all, without equivocation. (Source: DrTrayceHansen.com)

    112. South Carolina's Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced in May, 2005 that supports the brutal treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, even when such treatment goes so far as to break international war crimes law. Senator Graham's line of reasoning was that the United States government has the right to break the laws of war because its opponents broke the laws of war first.

      What kind of ethics is it that says that it's okay to break rules so long as someone else has broken some other rules first? Those are the ethics of the elementary school playground. They're also the ethics used by the Nazis to justify the Holocaust. It was okay to kill jews by the millions, the Nazis said, because the jews had committed crimes against the German people.

      Of course, the crimes of the jews were imaginary. The crimes of Al Quaida are not imaginary. But does that really mean that the United States is free to commit war crimes, as Lindsey Graham says? When prominent politicians begin making such claims, it's a strong sign that American liberty is under serious threat - from within. Senator Graham's attitudes would place the United States in the company of Nazi Germany and the machete wielding death squads of Rwanda.

    113. Right wingers use the phrase "support the troops" quite a bit, but is it anything more than a slogan to them? With continuing revelations of right wing war profiteering, it seems more accurate to say that right wing politicians are using the troops to support themselves.

      Take the case of William Winkenwerder Jr. Winkenwerder was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs from the beginning of the Bush Administration until April, 2007. He presided over the failure of military health care at Walter Reed and other military hospitals. In a just world, this kind of experience would have ended Winkenwerder's career in military health care for good.

      Unfortunately, this is not a just world. One thing Winkenwerder's record in the Defense Department did qualify him for was to serve as an influence broker for private corporations doing business with the government.

      After Winkenwerder left the Department of Defense, he went to work for Logistics Health, Incorporated. What Winkenwerder did for Logistics Health was quite plain: He worked with people in his old office at the Defense Department in order to get Logistics Health a government contract worth 790 million dollars - even though there were other bids for the same work for at least 100 million dollars less in expense to the government. The assignment of the contract to Logistics Health also came in spite of reports that in previous work for the military, Logistics Health had "put reservists and National Guardsmen at possible undue risk."

      Under the Republican management of the military, American soldiers may not be served well, but people like William Winkenwerder, and their corporate employers, are being served quite well. Republican politicians may regard that as business as usual, but the rest of us have a more plain term for this sort of arrangement. We call it corruption. (Source: Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2007)

    114. In his report on the violations of law that the Bush White House is committing under the cloak of the Military Commissions Act, UN Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin states an obvious truth that has been ignored for so long now that it has been largely forgotten: The so-called "War On Terror" is not really a war at all. Schein writes in his report that, "the international fight against terrorism is not a 'war' in the true sense of the word".

      What the United States is engaged in is an attempt to apprehend and prosecute criminals. The attacks of September 11, 2001 were the acts of a criminal gang, not any existing foreign government that had declared war against the United States.

      The United States started two wars using the excuse of that crime, but to the extent that those wars were related to the crime of September 11, 2001, it was to facilitate apprehension and prosecution of criminal suspects. Besides, those actual wars are long over. What the United States is engaged in now in Iraq and Afghanistan are really military occupations, not wars. Neither in Iraq nor in Afghanistan is there a

      specific military objective which, once reached, would enable victory to be declared.

      These distinctions are important as matters of law, because, given that there is no real war going on, the people captured by American soldiers or other agents of the American government are entitled to the legal rights of criminal suspects.

      Republicans are fond of saying that giving prisoners the rights of criminal suspects is equivalent to coddling them. That's a convincing statement, in its swaggering tough-guy pose, if you aren't concerned at all about the survival of legal rights of the accused in criminal trials. If you aren't worried about being unjustly accused of a crime, then perhaps you believe that you have no need to live in a country that gives legal rights to accused criminals.

      If that's the case, then you have a profound discomfort for the rule of law, and you prefer to live in a country where people in power have the right to make up the law as they go along, according to their whims. You prefer despotism.

      Those aren't my values. They aren't the values of the Revolution of 1776. They aren't American values& or at least, they didn't use to be. (Source: Addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, October 25, 2007)

    115. I was reading an article just a few minutes ago, about the problem of yet more items manufactured in China tainted with lead, over on Gather.com. The basic point of the article was that people in the United States are being exposed to unhealthy levels of lead in items which they would never expect to be contaminated, yet the Bush White House and Republicans in Congress have failed to respond with legislation or trade restrictions with China because of their adherence to an abstract economic ideology that holds that free markets can do no wrong.

      The article discussed important ideas which relate to the identity of the American nation, our relationship with the things we buy, and the distance of the average American from the production of most of the material goods of life. Yet, when it came time for counter-arguments to be made, in the comments section after the article, the Republican response, given by a supporter of Fred Thompson, was merely this: "You Liberals are addicited to bitching, whining, moaning, and complaining.

      You really need to get a life& "

      These were the two values systems on display: The progressive, when confronted with unsafe lead contamination in products from China, considered reforms in the interest of the American people. The Republican, on the other hand, merely suggested that people stop complaining about lead poisoning, as if complaining, and not poisoning, is the problem.

      I know which approach I'd rather see represented in the White House. (Source: Capitalism Gone Wild, Gather.com, October 31, 2007)

    116. In his effort to get Michael Mukasey confirmed as Attorney General of the United States without any commitment to obey the anti-torture laws of the United States, George W. Bush became downright petulant. "Judge Mukasey is not being treated fairly," Bush pouted.

      Consider the profoundly skewed perspective that informs this statement. George W. Bush is supporting Michael Mukasey's refusal to give the United States Senate a straight and simple answer about whether an interrogation technique, the definition of which is not classified, amounts to torture. Mukasey will say only that he will answer the Senate's questions after they confirm his appointment as Attorney General. That's a direct challenge to the constitutional power of the Senate to confirm Presidential appointments, turning the confirmation process into nothing more than a rubber stamp. George W. Bush thinks that's fair.

      George W. Bush also thinks that it's fair to take people prisoner without giving them either the legal rights of criminal suspects or the legal rights of prisoners of war, hold them in secret prisons for as long as he likes without criminal charge or explanation, and shove their heads under water right up until the point of drowning, then pulling them out of the water, and interrogating them to do it again. George W. Bush thinks that it's okay force water into a prisoner's breathing passages, again creating the feeling of drowning, in order to try to force the prisoners to say things that they do not want to say. Procedures like these are what water boarding is. It's a form of torture.

      So George W. Bush thinks that undermining the Constitution is fair. Bush thinks that torture is fair. But when United States Senators want to ask a question of a person nominated as Attorney General, Bush thinks that's unfair.

      This warped sense of what's fair is twisting America into a sinister shadow version of its former self. (Source: International Herald Tribune, November 1, 2007)

    117. It's happening too much to avoid drawing some conclusions. Yet another religious right wing Republican politician with a record of voting against equal rights for homosexual Americans has been caught lying about his own homosexual behavior.

      In this case, it's Richard Curtis, a Republican state legislator from the State of Washington. Curtis is married and has children, but told police that he had gone to a hotel room and had sex with another man who he met in an store where pornographic magazines and videos were sold. Curtis went to the police after the man he had sex with demanded $800 in return for keeping the incident quiet.

      Even after this information was made public, Richard Curtis still insisted that he is not gay. It all would be his own business, for him to talk to his wife and children about in private, if he had not wanted to keep the $800 dollars for himself, and if he had not voted repeatedly to deny equal rights to people like himself who engage in homosexual activities.

      Mostly, it's just sad. It's obvious that Richard Curtis is sexually attracted to other men, and obvious that he doesn't feel able to acknowledge that in public, even after the truth is publicly exposed. Curtis's history of voting against the interests of other men like himself, and his bizarre denial that he is sexually attracted to other men, is a profound illustration of what self-hatred looks like.

      The Republican Party of Washington has pushed Richard Curtis to resign, in punishment for his private sexual behavior. They say that a homosexual man can't serve in the state legislature, representing the constituents that, just a few weeks ago, they said that Curtis represented with great ability.

      The Republicans have made their values clear. They'll allow homosexuals to get elected to public office, but only if they lie about who they are, and vote against their own interests. The Republicans expect their elected officials to lie and to degrade themselves in order to create an appearance that just isn't true.

      For the sake of people like Dick Curtis, vote for a progressive President in 2008. Liberate them from their dishonest self-loathing. Show them that they don't have to disguise who they really are, or be disrespectful to others by lying about their personal preferences. (Source: Associated Press, November 1, 2007)

    118. Back in May of 2004, Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage. Right wing Christians freaked out. One organization in the Religious Right, the American Family Association, called the first day of legalized same-sex marriage "Destruction of Marriage Day".

      Were they right? Was marriage destroyed in Massachusetts by the expansion of marriage rights to same-sex couples?

      To the contrary. Since same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, the number of marriages in that state has increased.

      The latest National Vital Statistics Report shows that the number of people getting married in Massachusetts during the period of January to March over the last three years has actually grown.

      2005: 4,855 marriages
      2006: 5,639 marriages
      2007: 6,308 marriages

      If this is what the right wing's idea of the destruction of marriage looks like, I'd say that the right wing doesn't know much about marriage at all. (Sources: American Family Association, May 14, 2007, National Vital Statistics Reports, October 30, 2007)

    119. If ever there was a leader who understood how to conduct both military operations and humanitarian missions, it was George Marshall. Marshall was the architect of the D- Day military invasion of Normandy during World War II, but he also came up with, as the name implies, the Marshall Plan for how to deal with the chaotic aftermath of World War II. The Marshall Plan used positive incentives, redeveloping conquered territory, to turn former opponents into allies.

      That George Marshall's insights have been lacking in the American occupation of Iraq goes a long way toward explaining why the American military has not been able to control post-war chaos in Iraq in the same way that chaos was contained in post-war Germany. What Marshall understood, and George W. Bush and his Republican followers have never understood, is that a population will not retain positive feelings toward an occupying force when that occupying force is perceived as inhumane.

      George Marshall held a strict line against acts of inhumanity by the American military, declaring that, "The United States abides by the laws of war. Its armed forces, in their dealing with all other peoples, are expected to comply with the laws of war, in the spirit and the letter. In waging war, we do not terrorize helpless non-combatants, if it is within our power to avoid doing so. Wanton killing, torture, cruelty or the working of unusual hardship on enemy prisoners or populations is not justified under any circumstance. Likewise, respect for the reign of law, as that term is understood in the United States, is expected to follow the flag wherever it goes."

      George W. Bush and the Republican-appointed civilian leaders of the Pentagon never understood this simple lesson from George Marshall. They thought that they could recreate the Marshall Plan just by providing economic reconstruction in Iraq, while maintaining an inhumane treatment of Iraqis in prisons like Abu Ghraib, hoping that no one would ever find out.

      Iraqis did find out about Abu Ghraib, and the military occupation of Iraq turned sour. The trust that Europe felt for American soldiers after World War II became impossible because American rule of Iraq was seen as no more humane than the regime of Saddam Hussein.

      In 2008, America must elect a progressive candidate who understands that the wisdom of the Marshall Plan was not just in its economic development, but also in its absolute rejection of the abusive treatment of prisoners and occupied populations. (Source: American Bar Association, August, 2007)

    120. Far right extremists keep on insisting that the Republican government's interrogation method of waterboarding, which forces confessions through controlled drowning of prisoners, is not a form of torture. That's in spite of the fact that the procedure is designed to force people to comply with interrogators' demands for information through the infliction of profound suffering.

      These extremists have been trying to convince people that there is a genuine controversy over whether waterboarding is torture. The truth is, of course, that the American mainstream accepts that waterboarding is a form of torture, and should not be allowed. 69 percent of respondents in a recent poll of adult residents of the USA agreed with the statement that waterboarding is a form of torture. A slightly smaller majority agreed that the government should not be allowed to inflict waterboarding torture on prisoners.

      The progressive position on waterboarding, that it is, as torture, an unacceptable interrogation method, is the mainstream American position. If you want a president who will support mainstream American opinion on waterboarding and other forms of torture, the choice is clear: Vote to elect a progressive candidate for President in 2008. (Source: United Press International, November 6, 2007)

      The Rowdy Rich of the Religious Right

      The leaders of the Religious Right aren't just religious. They're profoundly political, supporting Republican and other right wing political candidates, including presidential candidates.

      These leaders purport to show the way toward moral righteousness. They ask their followers to send them money so that their ministries can spread a religious message and promote moral values.

      In reality, these leaders seem to value themselves, keeping much of that donated money to fuel their hungers for personal luxuries. Each of the following scandals counts as another reason to vote for a progressive President in 2008, just one more sign that the leaders who promote right wing candidates cannot be trusted with power.

    121. Televangelist Joyce Meyer, was recently caught using donations from her followers to buy herself luxuries such as a $23,000 toilet. Where would Jesus poo? Now you know.

    122. Randy and Paula White, leaders of the Without Walls International Church, have used donations to the church to buy themselves cosmetic surgery, as well as homes for themselves in Malibu, New York, and San Antonio.

    123. Televangelist Bishop T.D. Jakes accepted a gift from the Without Walls International Church of a Bentley convertible.

    124. Anti-gay televangelist Bishop Eddie Long had his religious organization buy him a house worth over 1.4 million dollars, and pay the property taxes on it. Long also is given a car worth $350,000 by his organization. Long wears his power on his sleeve, declaring, "I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world."

    125. Kenneth Copeland transfered church assets to a for-profit company, and got a 2 million dollar personal gift from the church.

    126. Faith healer Benny Hinn was given a private jet and an expensive home, along with vacation trips he called "layovers".

    127. Oral Roberts University, a Christian school founded by televangelist Oral Roberts and run by his son Richard Roberts, used donations to buy Richard Roberts family vacations, expensive cars, and a stable full of horses, and home renovations. The wife of Richard Roberts used tens of thousands of dollars of university money to buy herself clothes. Three professors were fired by Richard Roberts after they revealed that Roberts was involved in a political campaign.

      Let's talk moral values, then. These corrupt Christian leaders are all mired in right wing politics, directly or indirectly. My moral values say that, in 2008, we need to find a progressive Presidential candidate who refuses to get mixed up in their schemes, and flush all the rest down that $23,000 toilet. (Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 6, 2007; Associated Press, November 7, 2007; London Times, October 10, 2007)

    128. There's a new reason for gun lovers to fight like hell for the right to blast away with whatever kinds of weapons the want: You never know when a criminally maniacal toddler will wander onto your private property.

      A 4 year-old boy named Evan Davis Klassen was shot to death when he walked behind a paper target as his family and family friends were firing their guns for fun. There were a million things this family could have done to have fun together. They could have played monopoly, or thrown a ball around, or sung songs by a campfire. But no, this family chose to unleash the power of advanced weaponry in the presence of children were not yet old enough to be left alone in a bathtub. Well, family values come in all shapes, I guess.

      I'd really love to know more about the family values that say that it's a good idea to dress your four year-old son in camouflage military-style clothes. You see, little Evan Davis Klasse had a pair of camouflage pants on, and those camouflage pants made it hard for the trigger-happy folks at the family gathering to see the little boy when he walked toward the paper target to see what all the bang-bang noises were all about. The shooter was just 30 feet away, and still couldn't see the boy because of the camouflage. So much for those sharpened senses honed through target practice.

      What are a mother and father thinking when they dress their four year-old son in camouflage? Are they thinking that it would be really neat to ahve a hard time finding their child at an outdoor gathering, or is it that they think that camouflage clothes would show that their little boy was a real gung-ho little tough guy, in spite of the fact that he was still scared by Oscar the Grouch sometimes? I've got a four year-old son myself, and the idea of dressing him up as a half-invisible little tough guy for weekend gatherings has never occured to me.

      Here's something to consider: The NRA and its allies are busy telling us that guns are necessary to protect our children from dangerous bad guys. However, the Klassen family have used their personal arsenal of firearms to defend their children from communists, rogue government agents, criminals or fanatical terrorists a grand total of zero times. On the other hand, the Klassen family has now used its personal arsenal of firearms to shoot one of their own children. The Klassen family hardly seems like a "well-regulated militia" of the sort referred to in the 4th Amendment's description of a right to "bear arms".

      Gun lovers: This is not an issue of anybody trying to take your guns away from you. This is an issue of whether the gun culture is a good thing for American families. It's constitutional to teach your kids to suck on thumbtacks, but it's a stupid idea. Just so, the constitutionality of owning and firing deadly weapons as family friendly activity may well be defensible in a court of law, but that doesn't mean that it's a wise thing to do.

      So, go ahead and tell me that I don't sufficiently understand the importance of people in Minnesota using their personal firearms to defend America from tyranny, but I've got a simple request to gun-owning parents across America: Put your guns away, please - not because it's illegal for you to run around shooting bullets all around you for fun, but because it's simply a pointless and stupid thing to do.

    129. The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a page of Quickfacts about the population of the USA. As of 2006, the latest year of information available from the Census Bureau Quickfacts, there are an 20,359,097 estimated children under the age of 5 living in the United States.

      If 125 million dollars were given to those children, each child would get $6.13. What could be done for each child with $6.13? You could buy each child a book.

      I found a beautifully illustrated children's book called The Forest, and it's available for only $5.99 cents. The Forest, by Claire A. Nivola, is about a young mouse who faces down his fears, and finds that they were unfounded.

      Learning the difference between imagined fears and real things that need to be feared and is an important lesson for children and their parents alike, especially in these days of Homeland Security, when so many adults are rushing around, assuming that anything unusual is a bomb.

      Now, it just so happens that, 125 million dollars, the cost of buying every American child under the age of 5 a copy of The Forest, is also the cost of keeping open the gulag at Guantanamo Bay, where illegal imprisonment and torture takes place.

      So, here's a moral test for you: Would you rather that the 125 million dollars from the federal government goes toward keeping the prisons of Guantanamo Bay open and operational, or would you rather have that 125 million dollars go to buy every young child in America a copy of a book like The Forest?

      If you choose the book instead of the torture, you made the progressive choice. To face down our fears, and give our children a better country to sleep in at night, let's elect a progressive President in 2008. (Sources: U.S. Census Bureau USA Quickfacts; Amazon.com; Albuquerque Tribune, June 30, 2007)

    130. I was just sitting down with my friend Jeff a little while ago when he brought up the issue of Barack Obama, who some people are giving holy heck because he doesn't wear a flag lapel pin, even though Obama said he'd rather people pay attention to his acts as a barometer of "true patriotism." "You know," I said to Jeff, "I wouldn't mind having a president who took a shit on the flag first thing every morning and spent the rest of the day looking after our country." Retorted Jeff, "Yeah, that's better than having a president who takes a shit on the country every morning and spends the rest of the day looking after the flag." Right you are, Jeff.

    131. In spite of the clear statement of US and international law and the testimony of top military experts, right wing extremists continue to insist that somehow, the coercive and abusive form of interrogation known as waterboarding is not torture. Now those extremists have another form of expert testimony that refutes their unusual opinion: The testimony of a professional interrogator for the federal government.

      Malcolm Wrightson Nance is a former interrogator and Navy instructor on methods for withstanding interrogation while being kept prisoner by enemies who do not respect international laws against torture. Nance has a simple, direct message about waterboarding: "Waterboarding is torture, period."

      Torture is illegal, and so waterboarding, under Nance's definition, is already clearly banned by both American and international law, as well as by the Constitution of the United States of America. However, Nance supports additional law specifically forbidding waterboarding, just so that no government can try to claim, as the Bush White House does, that waterboarding is not torture.

      Nance ought to know about waterboarding. He has undergone the subject himself, and has administered the treatment to huge numbers of military students so that they can understand it and try to withstand the torture technique before it is used against them by an enemy.

      As Nance sees it, waterboarding is a moral issue. "I believe that we must reject the use of the waterboard for prisoners and captives and cleanse this stain from our national honor," he says. (Source: Associated Press, November 8, 2007)

    132. Michael Mukasey refuses to implement U.S. laws against torture, but has been confirmed by the Senate as Attorney General of the United States anyway. That's bad, but there's nothing anyone can do to stop Mukasey from taking power as Attorney General, and continuing the reign of torture by George W. Bush.

      What we can do is pay attention to how the Mukasey confirmation vote applies to America's future, beyond Bush. Specifically, we can pay attention to how the presidential candidates from the U.S. Senate voted on the Mukasey confirmation.

      Here's the shocking news: Not one of them did. They didn't vote.

      It's hard to believe, but as much as they might have talked about their concerns about Michael Mukasey's support for torture, they didn't act on those concerns. They did not use their power to vote against the Mukasey confirmation.

      Hillary Clinton didn't vote against Mukasey.
      Barack Obama didn't vote against Mukasey.
      Joseph Biden didn't vote against Mukasey.
      Chris Dodd didn't vote against Mukasey.
      John McCain didn't vote against Mukasey.

      You read that right. Even John McCain, who says that he's against torture, didn't lift a finger to stop torture when he had the opportunity.

      Why didn't these senators bother to vote against torture? They were either too busy promoting themselves on the campaign trail, or they just didn't care enough to do the right thing.

      Some people will say that it doesn't matter that these senators neglected to even cast a vote on the Mukasey confirmation. They'll say that the Mukasey confirmation was already wrapped up.

      In response to that callous justification of inaction, I say that the time is always right for a leader to take a stand against torture and the tyranny that it creates. Not one of the presidential candidates from the Senate can now say that they have taken that stand. It is a shameful time for the United States of America. (Source: Library of Congress)

    133. Remember "Honor and Integrity," the bywords of the Bush-Cheney campaign of 2000? I haven't heard that phrase lately coming from the White House, and I thought I'd make a little check of their news database, which reports pretty reliably from 2003 on. Here are the results:

      Alas, no "honor and integrity" this year. Who will bring "honor and integrity" back to the White House, for real this time? (Source: Whitehouse.gov search as of November 9 2007)

    134. Among the most disturbing of the many reasons to elect a progressive President in 2008 is this: Many right wing Americans seem to gain pleasure from knowing that their own government violates the law and the Constitution in order to torture people using the technique known as waterboarding.

      One right wing publication, Human Events, actually has published an article entitled "Three Cheers For Waterboarding", in which the author writes, "Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud."

      That kind of attitude belonged in the gulags of the Soviet Union and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. It does not belong in the United States of America& at least, it didn't use to. (Source: Human Events, November 2, 2007)

    135. Do you love babies? Do you want to save the babies? Then you need to stop voting for conservatives.

      When conservatives like George W. Bush get into office, they appoint other conservatives to positions in which they can do things that will result in the death of babies. Take, for instance, the appointment of fundamentalist Focus on the Family's Susan Orr to head the government's contraception program. Orr has repeatedly opposed the distribution of contraception and the coverage of contraception in health insurance programs in the past. Why? She feels that encouraging the use of contraceptives is "not about choice. It's not about health care. It's about making everyone collaborators with the culture of death."

      But, see, the thing is that contraceptive use actually saves babies' lives. World Health Organization cross-national data shows that even controlling for economic conditions, where contraceptive use is higher newborn mortality is lower. That's because the use of contraception leads to longer spacing between pregnancies, which leads to healthier pregnancies and healthier babies.

      When you vote progressive, you vote for an administration that values the positive contributions of contraception. When you vote conservative, you vote for cuts to beneficial contraceptive programs. So go ahead, vote progressive. Do it for the babies. (Source: CBS News, October 18 2007; Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers report for 2006)

    136. Is war a sign of strong moral resolve or the result of moral failings? Back in 1795, President James Madison made his thoughts on the impact of war upon morality clear when he wrote, "The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."

      It is peace that calls us to a higher moral path. War indulges our moral weaknesses. (Source: Political Observations, 1795)

    137. Back in the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed an alternative vision of power that would be not only peaceful, but also really freaky. He said, "This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of atomic annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority."

      The hour that Dr. King referred to has returned. We at Irregular Times embrace King's idea of an irregular form of activism that gets around the power orthodoxies set up by right wing authoritarians. The time has come for a return to creative maladjustment that refuses to obey the oppressive boundaries of right wing moral values. Our nonconformity shall be moral, and positive, but it will make those who value uniformity uncomfortable.

      It's going to take a real progressive progressive President to represent us. (Source: Transformed Nonconformist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)

    138. "Divorce is just terrible," Idaho Republican Representative Dick Harwood has said. "It's one of Satan's best tools to kill America."

      I don't think you'd find many people in the United States who would proclaim that divorce is just a hunky-dory process that should be encouraged whenever possible. But there are times and situations in which divorce is better than the alternative. Besides, is it the job of government to tell people when they can and when they cannot divorce? Is it the job of government to prohibit divorce in the name of fighting Satan? Idaho Republicans in state government think so. Their task force has recommended the outlawing of no- fault divorce, a practice in which a married couple can end their marriage without having to prove to the government that they've done anything wrong.

      What will it take for these Republican busybodies to get out of our lives? Well, voting them out of office would help. (Source: Idaho Statesman November 9 2007)

    139. The low standard of decency upon which right wing values are based was exhibited in November of 2007, when Republican presidential candidate John McCain responded to a question from a supporter of his about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton: "How do we beat the bitch?" John McCain laughed, and said it was an "excellent question".

      Of course, it wasn't an excellent question. It was a vague question, to start with, and it was phrased in such a way as to fail to recognize the complexity of Hillary Clinton as a human being and as a political figure. It was a really dumb question, actually.

      John McCain didn't say that, of course. There's a lot he didn't say in response to his supporter calling Hillary Clinton a "bitch". The most intelligent and decent response to the question would have been to say, "We can only beat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election if we stop calling her a bitch." However, John McCain never said anything of the sort. Not once did John McCain suggest that using the word "bitch" to describe a woman is offensive, rude, and intolerable for any presidential campaign that wants to be taken seriously.

      Senator McCain just shrugged his shoulders, laughed, and seemed to enjoy the use of the word "bitch" to describe Hillary Clinton. So we saw the real John McCain, who apparently is willing to use derogatory terms to insult people based on their identity instead of their character. Calling Hillary Clinton a "bitch" is as inappropriate as calling Barack Obama a "nigger" or Russ Feingold a "kike" would be.

      By accepting the word "bitch" as part of the atmosphere of his campaign, John McCain demonstrated that he isn't only unworthy of the presidency. He's unworthy of remaining in the Senate as well, insulting a Senate colleague in such a way. (Source: Associated Press, November 15, 2007)

    140. "Every boy in this land grows to be his own man.
      In this land every girl grows to be her own woman."

      These lines come from the title track of the album Free To Be You And Me, an album released a generation ago now. It influenced a new set of up and coming progressives that are now having their own children.

      People ask, sometimes, if progressives really stand for anything, if we don't just stand against everything that the right wing is trying to do to the United States of America.

      I listened to these lines again tonight, and I thought, yes, we progressives stand for this value as much as any other: That everyone should grow to be their own person.

    141. On January 27, Americans found out about yet another conservative journalist who was paid by the White House to promote the policies of the Bush Administration. Just like the others, he conveniently "forgot" to tell his editors or his readers about the arrangement.

      This name of this phony reporter was Michael McManus. He got paid to promote Bush's policy of pushing young people into getting married. McManus used his news columns to do so.

      Ironically, the regular column that Michael McManus used to dishonestly and illegally serve as a propaganda outlet for the Bush White House was entitled "ethics and religion".

      Michael McManus is a great example of why America cannot count on the right wing's sense ethics to protect us from abuse of government power. (Source: Salon, January 27, 2005)

    142. The world is in an environmental crisis. Progressives have been giving warnings that this crisis would come for generations. Right wing political groups have been dismissing the warnings for about as long.

      News of another sign that the crisis is coming to a head comes to us now, just a year before the U.S. presidential election of 2008. The population of the South China tiger has shrunk to less than 30 individuals in the wild. Unless intervention comes quickly, it is predicted that the South China tiger will become extinct in the wild in less than three years. There are only 66 South China tigers remaining in captivity, and they're all interbred, descended from just six wild tigers that were captured over 50 years ago.

      Our reaction to endangered species in immediate peril is a kind of moral test. Do we care enough to act?

      Progressives do, and support organizations like the World Conservation Union, which is working right now to try to rescue the South China tiger, before it's too late.

      Right wingers fail the moral test. They don't care enough to act. They prefer to let "market forces" determine whether entire species of animals live or die. If it isn't profitable for big corporations for the South China tiger to survive, they'll just let it die without lifting a finger.

      Take Ron Paul, for example. As a Congressman, Ron Paul's approach to endangered species protection is not to have any. He wants the U.S. government to withdraw support from all activities designed to protect endangered species like the South China tiger, whether they live within U.S. borders or not.

      Congressman Paul's justification for this inaction? He says, "I've been reading the Constitution now and then. I can't find endangered species written in the Constitution and I don't think that's a federal function."

      Anyone who is at all more familiar with the Constitution than the average Ron Paul supporter knows that there is clause in the Constitution that provides for federal government action in the interests of the general welfare. Reasonable Americans recognize that when large numbers of ecologically significant animals start dying off all around the world, it's not in the general welfare to do nothing.

      Ron Paul's only solution for problems like the extinction of endangered species is to hope that maybe some wealthy person will come along and do something to make everything better. Justifying neglect with the hope that someone else will take care of the problem is not the approach to leadership that the global environmental crisis calls for. We need action, and that's why we need to elect a progressive President in 2008. (Sources: Seattle Times, September 17, 2007; Reuters, November 19, 2007)

    143. In response to news that a woman in Saudi Arabia who had been raped by seven men was subjected by judges to 200 lashes with a whip and jail time, Republican State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack could only shrug and mumble the following:
      Question: Are you going to exert any pressure on the Saudi Government to say that this constitutes some kind of human rights violation?

      State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack: Well, look, it is within their, it is within their ability to take a look at this and to make changes, I'm sure. That, however, rests entirely in their hands. We have expressed our astonishment at, at such a thing, at the, I think, I think that when you look at the crime and the fact that now the victim was punished, I think that gave us surprise and astonishment. But that is within the power of the Saudi government to take a look at the verdict and change it.

      Question: Why won't the United States Government go further and condemn this in an outright way?

      McCormack: Look, we've said, we talked about this yesterday, we talked about it today, uh, um, as we said, it's within their power to change.

      Contrast that Pontius Pilate handwashing with what Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had to say on the matter:

      "In 1995, I went to Beijing and said, 'It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights.' We have made some progress since then. But we have not made enough. The latest example is the punishment of 200 lashes that a Saudi Arabian court has given to a victim the victim of a gang rape. This is an outrage. The Bush administration has refused to condemn the sentence and said it will not protest an internal Saudi decision. I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman. As President I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world."

      And Barack Obama has sent an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking the Bush administration to more strongly condemn the human rights travesty, asserting that the incident should at the very least be included in the Department of State's annual human rights bulletin. Obama writes:

      According to news accounts, last week a Saudi court sentenced a 19-year old woman, who was the victim of a gang rape, to six months in jail and to 200 lashes. Reportedly, this is more than a doubling of her initial sentence. The court took this step of doubling the sentence because the defendant's lawyers raised the case in the press in an effort to call attention to it. That the victim was sentenced at all is unjust, but that the court doubled the sentence because of efforts to call attention to the ruling is beyond unjust.

      I strongly urge the Department of State to condemn this ruling. Moreover, since your Department is finalizing this year's country reports on human rights pursuant to Sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), I ask that this unjust case and any efforts to correct this demeaning ruling be given a prominent place in that report.

      If you care about human rights, who do you trust more? Ho hum Pontius Pilate Republicans, or more activist alternatives? (Sources: State Department Briefing with Sean McCormack November 20 2007; Hillary Clinton Statement of November 21 2007; Letter from Barack Obama to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice November 20 2007)

    144. If you need a sign of the moral rot the United States has suffered under George W. Bush, consider Bush's comment regarding Pakistani Dictator Pervez Musharraf, who has suspended that nation's constitution, jailed its lawyers, outlawed dissent, and replaced the Supreme Court with new members who promptly rubber-stamped his path into an illegal third term in office. According to Bush, "Well, he hasn't crossed the line. As a matter of fact, I don't think that, uh, he will cross any lines. I think he truly is somebody who believes in democracy."

      You needed a sign? There's your sign. It's a big, forty foot wide sign with red paint and yellow neon letters. (Source: ABC News, November 20 2007)

    145. Is George W. Bush's declaration that Pervez Musharraf is a friend of democracy who hasn't crossed any lines in Pakistan not enough for you? Do you need a bigger sign of the moral rot in American foreign policy since the Republicans took power? Fine. Here's a billboard painted with the blood of tortured human rights activists and the smeared feces of the disappeared:

      Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf informed the Bush administration ahead of time that Musharraf was planning to suspend the constitution, declare martial law and impose dictatorial rule. Musharraf's close advisers report that the Bush administration's response was so muted that he considered it a green light to go right ahead. So he did. (Source: Wall Street Journal November 23 2007)

    146. They could not be content to call Tinky Winky gay. It wasn't enough for them to attack Harry Potter as a source of secret Satanic influence over America's children. Now that they've protested against the dead Albus Dumbledore being gay, right wing religious groups are intent upon purging fiction of Thought Sin, and so they've moved on to crusade against a new set of characters that have never existed except in the imaginations of their fans.

      The activists of the Religious Right, supported by their associated pundits in conservative news columns and on cable television networks, are all in an uproar about The Golden Compass. The book, part of a fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman, deals with talking polar bears in elaborate armor, bombs made out of hair, and a magical compass of destiny& so, naturally, the Religious Right suspects it is promoting atheism.

      They're demanding the book be pulled off library shelves, and trying to force Scholastic Books from selling any more of Philip Pullman's books, even though they've been very financially successful. The reason for this opposition is that the right wingers accuse Philiip Pullman of being an atheist. It's impermissible, from their perspective, to allow any person who doesn't believe in gods to publish works of fiction.

      Technically, Philip Pullman is not really an atheist. He's an agnostic, saying quite clearly that he doesn't know if God exists, and doesn't think that anyone can know such a thing. However, it's difficult for the Religious Right to campaign against an agnostic, so they just go ahead and call Pullman an atheist.

      The same people who are campaigning against allowing people, Christian or not, to read books like The Golden Compass, are also campaigning in favor of right wing presidential candidates in 2008. That's as good a reason as any to counter them with a vote for a progressive presidential candidate who doesn't support efforts to censor fiction just because it's regarded by some as religiously heretical. (Source: The Toronto Star, November 22, 2007)

    147. The off-kilter priorities of American government are described aptly by humorist Dave Barry, who once commented, "We Americans live in a nation where the medical- care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it." (Source: Dave Barry, Stay Fit & Healthy Until You're Dead)

    148. Progressives believe in the importance of apologizing for past wrongs. Thus, under the presidency of Bill Clinton, in the year 2000, The Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs finally gave an apology to Native Americans for "the decimation of the mighty bison herds, the use of the poison alcohol to destroy mind and body, and the cowardly killing of women and children." Better late than never. (Source: Harper's Magazine, Weekly Review, September 12, 2000)

    149. In the Republican presidential debate of November 28 2007, Fred Thompson made a commitment: "Roe v. Wade should be overturned. That depends on the kind of Supreme Court justices we put on the bench." The Republican audience applauded again.

      Mitt Romney declared very simply and boldly, "I was pro-choice. I was wrong." The Republican audience applauded. If you are pro-choice in America, the Republicans are wrong for you. (Source: CNN YouTube Debate of Republican Presidential Candidates, November 28 2007)

    150. Right wing politicians like to pretend that there is no alternative to Homeland Security. They say that we're facing an enemy unlike any enemy anyone has ever faced before, an enemy that uses fear as a weapon.

      It's nonsense. People have known fear as long as there have been people. Generations ago, Marie Curie, the scientist who discovered the radioactivity of polonium and radium, gave us advice about a better way to deal with fear than what have received from Homeland Security:

      "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." (Source: 21st Century Magazine, Winter, 2002-2003)

    151. The political corporation known as Unity08 sent out a message to well over a hundred thousand Americans in December 2007, informing them that as a precondition of their participation in a Unity08 nominating convention, citizens will have to sign a labor pledge to work for the election of whatever Unity08 ticket results. Unity08 CEO Robert Bingham issued his condition:
      "There are two things that you must do before you can participate in our online convention in June 2008, take the Unity08 Pledge and provide your postal address.

      1. Take the Unity08 Pledge, which states: 'I certify that I am an American citizen and am legally registered to vote. I understand that the Unity08 movement will nominate a Unity Ticket for the White House in its June 2008 online convention and will then work to elect them as president and vice president in November 2008. I pledge to do my part to help Unity08 re-light America's torch and change our politics forever.'

      Pardon me?

      What do they think I am, some kind of serf?

      What do they think they are, feudal lords?

      American citizens do not owe the Unity08 Corporation a single thing. We are free citizens, not obedient cogs for your machine.

      Here's my message to the Unity08 corporate leadership: you can take your fealty pledge, stick it where the sun doesn't shine, and give it a few twists. You might as well use it to unclog your clenched elitist colons, because you're never going to get any other use of it from me.

      My allegiance is to the ideas that I find to work, until such time as I find them not to work any more, at which time I change my mind. I know, I know: that's "radical" and "fringe" according to Unity08. This is why I find voting for the "practical" solution to be suspect: what they're asking for, very practically from their point of view, is the possession and control of my soul. No, Unity08, you can't own my soul.

    152. Even when Ron Paul means to speak for tolerance, he ends up promoting intolerance. Trying to defend Mitt Romney from charges that his Mormon religion should disqualify him from the presidency, Congressman Paul suggested that we ought to just reject non-religious people.

      "We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for American values and traditions before they are washed away in a sea of fear and relativism," Ron Paul said.

      Men of faith must fight against a sea of fear and relativism? Well, what are the women supposed to do, sit on their hands and wait on the men?

      Since when does fear come from relativism? Relativism is the idea that things like truth and morality are dependent upon context, and not upon eternal absolutes. Relativism is, in this sense, a non-religious stance. That's what Ron Paul is criticizing, and saying faith must oppose.

      But how is relativism related to fear? The big sources of fear these days, as far as I can see, are related to the absolutism of religiously-inspired leaders such as Osama Bin Laden and George W. Bush. Relativism is inherently not very strident. How can a person be strident when they believe that the right thing to do depends upon where a person is coming from?

      Ron Paul's got it backwards. The people we have to fear are those who believe that they have an absolutely sure connection to cosmic truth, and that anyone who stands in their way is evil. Americans who have the mental strength to understand the value of relativism are having to defend themselves against people of faith. (Source: RonPaul2008.com, December 6, 2007)

    153. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee may have refused to answer a question about Jesus' position on the Death Penalty in a November 2007 debate, but he had no compunction about answering such a question back in 1997. Back then, on a radio program, Mike Huckabee argued that because Jesus didn't ask for clemency when he was on the cross, Jesus was implicitly taking a pro-death-penalty stance.

      This is doubly twisted. A presidential candidate shouldn't have to answer religious questions as a test for public office in the first place, but Mike Huckabee has invited this by trumpeting his religious fitness for office over and over and over. Within that religious testimony, Mike Huckabee shows his moral center: he describes his presidency in terms of holy vengeance. (Source: Arkansas Times, November 29 2007)

    154. "We need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague," declared Mike Huckabee. The plague to which Huckabee referred: HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

      It was back in 1992 that Mike Huckabee made the suggestion of putting HIV patients into special detention centers. Huckabee said that not so much attention should be paid to the "civil rights" of people with AIDS.

      Now, in 2007, Huckabee excuses his proposal by saying that "There was still a great deal of, I think, uncertainty," about HIV. So, when there is a problem, and people aren't sure how to solve it yet, we can see that a President Mike Huckabee would err on the side of take away people's civil rights and shoving them into detention camps.

      In fact, there really wasn't a lot of uncertainty about HIV at the time. The Surgeon General had, years before, written an advisory correctly advising public officials that there was no cause for panic.

      There was a great deal of cause for concern about the suffering by those who had AIDS, however. So, what was the response of Mike Huckabee, the man who now promotes himself as a great "Christian leader"? Huckabee said that the federal government should not support any AIDS research. Let Hollywood actors pay for AIDS research, if they were bothered by the suffering caused by the disease, Huckabee said.

      So, when confronted by a deadly disease around which he believes that there's a great deal of "uncertainty", Mike Huckabee thinks that the proper response is not to research the disease? If that's what Mike Huckabee regards as Christian charity, and he's promising to be a Christian President, then why would any compassionate American support Huckabee for President

      Mike Huckabee says that it's all water under the bridge, and that, if he were to speak about AIDS today, he might say things "a little differently." A little differently? What does that mean? Would he suggest detention camps for AIDS patients, but with free movies? Would Huckabee propose an end to AIDS research, but using a OUIJA board to try to find out how to treat the disease?

      Mike Huckabee justified his radical proposals for dealing with people with HIV by saying that "homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle". Well, I don't know much about sin. I admit that it's beyond me to understand how civil rights and research into curing deadly disease are aberrant. I guess I'll have to leave that to professional preachers like Mike Huckabee. (Sources: ABC News, December 9, December 8, 2007)

    155. For years, right wing fundamentalists have used Terri Schiavo's misery as a tool to expand their political power. It couldn't have lasted forever, though. Eventually, Terri Schiavo died, but that hasn't stopped fundamentalist groups from using her body to gain yet more power. The fundamentalists merely entered a new stage of Schiavo exploitation when she died. Now, they're using her death to get cash.

      Fundamentalist Christian groups have sent out bulk emails asking people to give them big amounts of money, and to do it for the sake of Terri Schiavo. It's not quite clear how the money will benefit Terri Schiavo, but the fundamentalist preachers who head these groups say not to worry - we can trust them.

      In the lowest blow of all, Jerry Falwell's Traditional Values Coalition sent out a press release declaring that "Terri's death will not be in vain." Not be in vain? What is that supposed to mean?

      The press release ends with the following call to action: "Please become an active supporter of the Traditional Values Coalition by pledging a monthly gift. Do more than just read our newsletters and shake your head at the terrible things happening to our country… PLEDGE HERE"

      So that's how Terri Schiavo's life is not in vain! Apparently, the Religious Right believes that God put Terri Schiavo through ten years of ghoulishly prolonged death just so that fringe fundamentalist groups could rake in the cash with a new round of fundraising letters. God works in mysterious ways to give right wing preachers vacations home in the Bahamas, I guess.

      Okay, okay, I know that's not quite fair. Falwell's Traditonal Values Coalition certainly had more in mind with this press release than just making themselves a bundle of money. To be fair, they also wanted to use Terri Schiavo's death to get some good gay bashing done. On the same page that declares that Terri Schiavo's death will not be in vain, Jerry Falwell's profitable preachers put in a plug for a videotape that "exposes the homosexual agenda and how it impacts Christianity, the business community, public schools, the Church, Congress and the individual." Apparently, just before Terri Schiavo died, she finally spoke, with an urgent message for Falwell and his End Times crew: "Stick it to the fags one more time for me!"

      Traditional values, huh?

    156. I received this jar of Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand "Creme" (note to marketing: anything made by "Burt" should spell cream C-R-E-A-M) as a gift a while back, but Winter didn't hit my hands until last week, which is when I pulled the jar off the shelf and went to open it. Do you know what was surrounding the lid? Yes, a safety plastic wrap.

      They didn't have these plastic safety wraps over the tops of jars of things when I was a kid, but they sure do now. They wrap everything. Why? In the case of a jar of plutonium, I guess that having a tamper-evident seal would be pretty darned important, so you made sure you weren't actually making your thermonuclear warhead with the Play-Do George slipped in as a practical joke last Tuesday. In the case of a jar of botulism toxin, I guess having that tamper-evident seal lets you know that you can safely lick the outside of the jar without going into spasms and dying of asphyxia. In the case of a jar of peanut butter, I suppose you could argue that the tamper-evident seal lets you know your food is safe and hasn't been modified by… by what? A food terrorist? Yes, a food terrorist, who could still insert some E. Coli into that peanut butter right through the plastic jar with a handy syringe in his or her nefarious scheme to… make you get a stomach bug for Allah?<./p>

      OK, so that last scenario is getting pretty far-fetched. But I just can't imagine, I can't even dream up a scenario in which somebody is going to tamper with a jar of Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme. Why do I need a tamper-evident seal for this? I'm not going to eat it. I'm not going to use it to make a bomb. I mean, heck, if I'm an allergic-type person it's already bad news because it's got nuts in it, so nobody's going to make my hands itch more by putting stuff into it. Besides, I don't see how the terrorists are going to undermine Western Civilization by making our hands itch.<./p>

      So why was this plastic wrapper doo-hickey thing there in the first place, other than as a small artifact of a culture obsessed beyond reality with the idea that They are out to get Us?<./p>

      It's time for America to get some genuine resolve, and have the courage not to tremble at the thought of bad guys out to get us. We need a progressive President who is willing to encourage people to be brave enough to go about their daily business without thinking that terrorists could be tampering with our hand cream.<./p>

    157. "Lawyers have only so many clients. Doctors can cure only so many people. But a well-intentioned public servant can make a difference in the lives of millions." — Christopher Dodd, explaining why his father entered politics and why he is running for president. The presidency is a position of great power, and that's why it matters so much who is elected as our next president in 2008. That's why, no matter how cynical the last seven years have made us, we need to pay attention during this election season, and we need to care.

    158. While right wing ideology thrives on assertion of truth in defiance of reasonable doubt, progressives try avoid false certainty. Betrand Russell described this progressive propensity in 1950, "The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: Instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment."

      Right wing activists regard such uncertainty as a sign of weakness. Progressives draw upon it as a source of a flexible sort of strength in times of unpredictable events. (Source: Unpopular Essays, Betrand Russell)

    159. Those people who did not actually listen to the speech by Al Gore in Indonesia this week, but just took for granted what the television or the newspaper had to say about the speech, could easily come away with the impression that Gore made an unpatriotic attack against the United States when he said that the Administration of George W. Bush was responsible for obstructing progress at the conference. That's because most newspapers and cable TV news networks didn't show what Gore said immediately after he received applause for that line.

      Gore said, "Those of you who applauded when I spoke openly about the diplomatic truth here have a choice to make. You can do one of two things here. You can feel anger and frustration and direct it at the United States of America, or you can make a second choice. You can decide to move forward and do all of the difficult work that needs to be done and save an open, large, blank space in your document, and put a footnote by it, and when you look at the footnote, write the description of the footnote: This document is incomplete, but we are going to move forward anyway, on the hope, and I'm going to describe for you why I think you can also have the realistic expectation, that that blank will be filled in. This is the beginning of a process that is designed to culminate in Copenhagen two years from now. Over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now. You must anticipate that."

      At the end of the speech, Gore returned to the issue, pressing the assembly to appreciate the opportunity for progressive action on climate change, rather than getting stuck in anger at the Republicans in the USA who have been blocking action on climate change for decades now.

      "Instead of shaking our heads at the difficulty of this task, and saying 'Woe is us. This is impossible. How can we do this? We're so mad at the ones that are making it impossible,' we ought to feel a sense of joy that we have work that is worth doing that is so important to the future of all humankind. We ought to feel a sense of exhilaration that we are the people alive at a moment in history when we can make all the difference."

      Although he was speaking to a gathering in Bali of diplomats representing the nations of the world, Al Gore might as well have been speaking to American citizens in the waning months of the presidency of George W. Bush. The American majority is clearly opposed to the destructive policies of the Bush White House, but now, we have a choice. We can merely focus on our anger at Bush, or we can try to move forward as well.

      The path proposed by Al Gore is the path chosen by progressives. We want George W. Bush to be held accountable for his crimes. We want George W. Bush to be impeached.

      However, at the same time as we push timid Democrats in Congress to impeach Bush, we turn with equal attention to the future. In the very near future, the USA will have a new President, and we will need to do more than just oppose Bush and his Republican followers. That's why we're paying attention now to the 2008 presidential election, and not just agreeing to accept any candidate, so long as it isn't Bush.

      We're showing the progressive moral values demonstrated by Al Gore. We confront the issues of today, but plan for the future. We move forward. That's why they call us progressives. (Source: Al Gore, Speech To the Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, December, 2007)

    160. in the Colorado House of Representatives, a Republican legislator from Colorado Springs demonstrated exactly how the Republican Party is standing up for traditional moral values in American government. When he was contradicted by Val Vigil, a Democratic colleague, Republican Bill Cadman shouted, "If you try that again, I'll ram my fist up your ass."

      Is that proper parliamentary procedure? Since Cadman made his shrill threat to commit unwelcome sodomy, he has stubbornly refused to apologize. Cadman says that he shouldn't have to apologize because the Democrat he threatened "started it". Well, that makes sense, I suppose… if you're in the 3rd grade.

      What strikes me most about Bill Cadman's angry outburst is its homosexual nature. There's something about Republican politicians who support gay-bashing legislation that leads them to come up with some very homoerotic language when they get aggressive. Oh, they mask the sexual content with indignant Republican rage, but it's there nonetheless.

      Like Freud said a long time ago, our deepest desires are revealed at our most out of control moments, and they're expressed in funny little ways. Mr. Cadman, it looks like you just need some special understanding, and an environment in which you can explore his alternative sexuality in a non-threatening way. We understand that Colorado Springs isn't very gay-friendly, so why not take a vacation - maybe a Caribbean pleasure cruise?

      Then, Mr. Cadman, when you return to the Colorado House of Representatives, maybe you can take Val Vigil out for a nice cup of coffee, and be a gentleman about the whole thing. No one wants a fist rammed up their ass, but there are other possibilities for intimacy with a man that are less violent. You never know - maybe Mr. Vigil secretly feels the same way about you.

    161. Why is it that conservatives have such violent fantasies?

      "Shh … We're Hunting Liberals": This is a typical shirt slogan from a conservative webshop which also suggests hitting Hillary Clinton with a stick and features a nuke cloud with the word "Iran" above it and the words "oink, oink, Bitch!" below it. Also, predictably, if you don't love the conservative vision of America, you should leave it. This isn't the only conservative webshop with the idea of smashing everything and everyone who is different. It seems to be a favorite idea of the American right wing.

      Here's the latest example of a giggly pro-violent conservative slogan on a lawn sign: "Why Negotiate With Terrorists When You Can Torture Them?"

      Now, I could take a high-minded tack with this message, appealing to sense and abstract moral notions. For instance, how do you know someone is a terrorist unless you already have the information you already need, in which case you don't need to torture anybody? Really, what we're talking about is torturing people we think might be terrorists in order to find out whether they are. Do you support torturing everyone who might be a terrorist? In America, it is part of the legal bedrock that people are innocent until proven guilty, and you do support Americanism, don't you?

      Yes, I could follow that road, but I don't think it would be fruitful. The problem is that American conservatism isn't interested in abstract moral thinking. It's interested in smacking people. It fantasizes about a vengeful Jesus that will strike down its enemies and cast them into a pit of fire for all eternity. It wants to hit Hillary Clinton with a stick for being a woman with an opinion. It wants to shower the people of Iran with nuclear weapons. It giggles at the prospect of shooting liberals in the head, or hitting them in the head with rocks. All this is not moral. It's small-minded and brutish. Moral arguments won't work with these sorts of people.

      And yet, I think that there are reasons for even the most violent conservatives to stop voting conservative. This is because the violent conservatives aren't just violent. They also tend to be selfish and scared. This is why you'll see these conservatives get weepy and upset when they talk about the attacks of September 11, 2001 while they ignore or even cheer on the deaths of foreigners. It's OK for other people far away to be tortured and killed, but even the prospect that it might happen to American conservatives themselves justifies all sorts of barbarity, including nuking foreign cities full of innocent people.

      And so I make this amoral, self-interested appeal to the frightened American conservative: even if you hate foreigners and consider their lives to be worthless, think of yourself. History tells us that in the end brutal regimes become brutalized. The more you promote torture around the world, the more likely it is that when the tables are turned, someone will torture you. If you want this to happen in your lifetime, then by all means vote for the people who want to continue the use of torture by the American government. But if you want to save your own sorry, selfish, frightened, flabby conservative ass, then start voting for the people who have enough good sense to oppose instruments of torment.

      Otherwise, you may be on the receiving end of an ideology that favors lawn signs that read: "Why Negotiate With Americans When You Can Torture Them?" (Sources: RightWingStuff; Rolling Stone, August 24, 2007; TitillatingTees)

    162. Back in February of 2005, The public broadcasting world offered an interesting lesson in the true nature of obscenity. It had to do with the Frontline documentary on PBS this week, called A Company of Soldiers, which provides footage of American soldiers in Iraq, and information about their activities.

      Not everyone in America saw the same documentary. You see, most stations, out of fear of the strict Republican censors of the Federal Communications Commission, showed their viewers a "clean" version of the documentary. Only a few cities attempted to air the "raw" version of the documentary.

      What's the difference between the "clean" and "raw" versions of A Company of Soldiers? You might guess that the difference had something to do with graphic footage of violence - perhaps the bodies of Iraqi children that have been killed in the war, or American soldiers shooting someone dead, or videotape of the torture taking place at American prisons like Abu Ghraib. In truth, only difference between the two versions is that in the "raw" documentary, viewers can hear American soldiers using expletives, like "shit" or "fuck".

      In a war that America started, in which well over one hundred thousand Iraqis have been killed, in which Americans have been torturing their prisoners, in which billions of dollars of taxpayers' money has gone mysteriously "missing", and which has caused a budget crisis so severe that funding for children's hospitals is being cut, the only thing that the FCC would consider indecent or obscene is that a soldier in a life or death situation gets frustrated and says "damn". I call that ironic.

      At a time when the Bush Administration has made a widespread practice of sexually humiliating the people it holds as prisoners, what business does the FCC have of wagging its finger in outrage when people on the radio talk about sex in an explicit way? It is a symptom of a deeply immoral government when people are fined large amounts of money and thrown off the airwaves as result of mild verbal vulgarity, but the people who have organized the killing and torture of people around the planet are allowed to conduct their filthy and illegal business without so much as an hour of community service as punishment.

      I suppose we should expect more censorship like this in the future. In a country where the law is applied so arbitrarily, it is only natural for people to fear arbitrary punishment for superficial indecencies. And so we all will learn, as Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer infamously commanded, to watch what we say and watch what we do.

    163. Kurt Vonnegut, in an assembly of short thoughts about American politics and culture, wrote,
      "Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

      But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America's becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power."

      Vonnegut's words were written in protest of the wars being waged by the Bush White House, but I don't agree with them, and I don't think that they're truly progressive in their sentiment. Seeing the awful corruption of American idealism that has taken place during the presidency of George W. Bush, many Americans have become like Vonnegut - without hope that the American nation can ever reach anything above its current cruel mix of sadism and indifference.

      The plain truth, however, is that human beings are not chimpanzees. We are able to create things of great beauty that chimpanzees could never even imagine. We have the capacity to create great ugliness too, of course, but we do have a choice between beauty and ugliness in a way that chimpanzees never have a choice.

      Kurt Vonnegut wrote that he knew that America had no chance of becoming humane and reasonable, but of course he knew no such thing. He guessed it. None of us know the future. However, if we have sufficient will power, we can make the future.

      Resigning to the idea that things will never get better is a very effective way to grant power those who are trying to make things worse. (Source: In These Times, May 10, 2004)

    164. Here's a little mind-bender for all those folks in the Religious Right who believe that religion is a bastion of moral values, and those without religion are lost:

      It seems that, as much as religion preaches at people about moral values, religious people don't seem to actually follow through on those values in practice. For example, Catholicism relentlessly lectures anybody who will listen (and many people who don't want to) that abortion, divorce, and euthanasia are awful, terrible sins.

      But what do American Catholics actually do? According to a recent study, American Catholics actually have more abortions than other Americans do. American Catholics also approve of divorce and euthanasia more often than the general American population. So, it seems that Catholicism's methods of teaching its moral values just don't work.

      What do we call religious moral values that don't actually change anybody's behavior or moral vision? How about religious moral bankruptcy? It seems that religion provides rather inept moral leadership. If we want to become better people, we had better find other sources of inspiration - or, perhaps, we might step out on a limb and begin to think about moral issues for ourselves, without the crutch of doing something just because someone else, and the old book they cling to, tell us to do it.

    165. On December 4 2007, Steve Inskeep of NPR News asked the Democratic presidential candidates whether they, if elected, would encourage American citizens to ferret out and turn in illegal immigrants to law enforcement authorities. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio answered the question by evoking the Americanism of Emma Lazarus:
      Rely on the Constitution. You know, we don't encourage vigilantism in this country. We have a Constitution, we have due process, we have equal protection, we have habeas corpus. This administration, as - like - you know, would like to shred the Constitution and deny people all those rights. But when we get into that, what we do, we take the path of denying constitutional rights, and we're back to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and all those other violations of rights that we're ashamed of now. And I'm saying that we have to realize that these are economic refugees from NAFTA.

      You know, I've said it over and over. Cancel NAFTA. Negotiate a new trade agreement with Mexico based on workers rights, human rights, environmental quality principles. Give a path to legalization for the people who have been here. You can't send them home willy-nilly. You have to have a way in which our immigration policy resonates with the deeper principles of inclusiveness in America, as symbolized by our Statue of Liberty.

      Senator Barack Obama of Illinois also responded to the question:

      We're not going to deputize a whole bunch of American citizens to start grabbing people or turning them in, the - in part because the ordinary American citizen may not know whether or not this person is illegal or not.

      Now, we do - we should be holding employers accountable, because they have a mechanism whereby they can actually enforce. But you know, the notion that we're going to criminalize priests, for example, or doctors who are providing services to individuals and throw them in jail for doing what their calling asks them to do, which is to provide help and service to people in need, I think that is a mistake. I think that's out of America's character.

      And Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York agreed:

      Well, I agree with what Barack… and Dennis have already said. It's the failure of the federal government that puts people like Amy into this position. I do not think we should be criminalizing her or expecting her to enforce the broken laws of our federal immigration system.

      In fact, I spoke out very strongly against an effort that was undertaken in the House of Representatives to do just that, to basically say anyone who offered aid, comfort or any kind of service to someone in need who turned out to be an illegal immigrant was going to face criminal penalties. That is not in keeping with who we are as Americans. What is in keeping is having a government fulfill its responsibilities… what we're looking at here is 12 to 14 million people. They live in our neighborhoods. They take care of our elderly parents. They probably made the beds in the hotels that some of us stayed in last night. They are embedded in our society.

      If we want to listen to the demagogues and the calls for us to begin to try to round up people and turn every American into a suspicious vigilante, I think we will do graver harm to the fabric of our nation than any kind of, you know, person by person reporting of someone who might be here illegally. I reject that. I think again you have to look at the failure of the federal government and the failure of our political system to make a change in how we should be enforcing our immigration laws. And that's what I will try to do.

      There are some politicians who want to approach the problems surrounding immigration through harsh punishments, which is not too surprising, since they are the same people who seem to relish devising new policies of punishment in a variety of areas. In their rush to punish people, they're raising calls of fear that tap into people's fears about different cultures, different languages and different colors of skin. Having whipped citizens up into a fearful frenzy, the demagoguing politicians then want to turn citizens into posses with the responsibility of identifying illegals and dragging them to the sheriff. When you whip people up based into unreasonably bigoted frenzies of fear, then unleash them as vigilantes, they'll strike out based on fear, causing more harm than they solve.

      Thanks to Representative Kucinich, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton for resisting the calls to turn America into a Posse Nation, and for instead appealing to a more calm, reasoned and humane spirit. (Source: NPR Presidential Debate of December 4 2007)

    166. The Republicans say that they're against teenage pregnancy. They say that their policies will stop the number of "babies having babies". What the Republicans say, and what they actually do are not the same thing.

      Under George W. Bush, the Republicans have had the chance to test out their ideology on teenage pregnancy. They've promoted "abstinence only" sex education, in which teenagers aren't told about contraceptives, but are just told not to have sex instead.

      Under George W. Bush, the national rate of teenagers giving birth to babies has risen for the first time in 15 years. 15 years ago, of course, there was another Republican family values President in the White House. (Source: Associated Press, December 5, 2007)

    167. George W. Bush and the Republicans promised that if a Republican were put in the White House, the number of unmarried women giving birth to babies would drop. That's not what has happened, however. The rate of births to unwed mothers has risen since George W. Bush became President. According to the most recent measure by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of births to unwed mothers is now at a record high.

      Maybe that's a problem. Maybe it isn't. However, what's certain is that the Republican promises that they would defend traditional values by reducing unwed motherhood have not been met. (Source: Associated Press, December 5, 2007)

    168. I'm getting sick of reading newspaper articles in which professional journalists write about what a charming man Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is. It's bad journalism, but more than that, it's just not true… unless you find the idea of wives living in submission to their husbands charming.

      Mike Huckabee has signed his name to a full page advertisement in USA Today, endorsing the Southern Baptist Convention's statement of faith: "A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

      Most American couples today recognize marriage as a partnership, not as a relationship of submission in which the woman serves the man as if he is the family messiah. Yet, that's the vision of family life promoted by Mike Huckabee. That's worth keeping in mind when Huckabee says that he believes in a traditional definition of marriage. The traditional definition of marriage, as Huckabee sees it, doesn't just exclude homosexual couples. It also excludes anyone who doesn't agree with the idea of husbands as masters and wives as servants. (Source: New York Post, December 14, 2007)

    169. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee keeps on talking about the traditional family. What does that mean? What kind of traditional family is Mike Huckabee talking about?

      Apparently, Mike Huckabee's traditional family includes fathers using their power to protect their sons' criminal sadism by thwarting police investigations.

      Back in the day, Mike Huckabee's son David was fired from his position as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp after he was involved in the hanging of a dog until it was dead. That in itself is not a legitimate issue for the 2008 presidential campaign. A father cannot be held completely accountable for the actions of his 17 year-old son.

      The sadism of the son becomes an issue in the father's campaign, however, when the father involves himself in the crime of the son. That's exactly what Mike Huckabee did, according to John Bailey, who was in charge of the Arkansas State Police at the time that David Huckabee's dog hanging ways were made public.

      Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas at the time, sent his Chief of Staff to tell Bailey to interfere with the effort to investigate David Huckabee for criminal animal cruelty. After Bailey refused to protect David Huckabee, Mike Huckabee had him fired, and told him that among the reasons for his firing was that "I couldn't get you to help me with my son when I had that problem."

      Mike Huckabee is now defending his son's hanging of a stray dog by saying that it was not "intentional torture".

      This brings us full circle to the White House as it has been run by another sadistic Republican, George W. Bush. Bush and his lawyers have revised the definition of torture so that it does not include coercion of torture through pain and suffering, so long as the coercion is lacking the intentional infliction of injury that results in the failure of the prisoner's internal organs.

      Would Mike Huckabee past attempts to use his power in government to cover up for torture in his own backyard seem a telling indication of how he would treat torture performed under his watch as President.

      No more torture. No more cover ups. No to Mike Huckabee and his warped "traditional family". (Source: Newsweek, December 15, 2007)

    170. If you want to understand the difference between progressive values of open government, accessible to the people, and right wing values, ask yourself the following question: When was the last time George W. Bush made himself available to take open questions from ordinary citizens who hadn't first been screened to ensure that they supported Bush?

    171. Republicans like to talk about how they're tough on crime. Unfortunately, the Republican way of being tough on crime is also often tough on children.

      In the United States right now, there are approximately 2,225 people serving life sentences, without any chance of parole, for crimes they committed while they were children. Outside of the United States, there are only 12 other prisoners serving similar sentences, for crimes committed during childhood.

      Progressives agree that breaking the law is a serious thing, and should be punished in some way, regardless of the age of the offender. However, progressives believe disagree with law-and-order right wingers when it comes to juvenile offenders with life sentences that have no chance of parole. To never, ever, give a second chance to a child is inhumane. (Source: Harper's Magazine, January, 2007)

    172. The problem with Republicans' political ethics is highly contingent. Take the words of George W. Bush, for example. When he contemplates the other nations of the world, he declares an inflexible and unhelpful dichotomy: "either you're with us, or you're against us." But when it comes to judging himself and his own lapses in behavior, he asserts that "sometimes things aren't exactly black and white." Like Rush Limbaugh on drugs, George W. Bush has created a moral universe in which everybody needs to follow his hard-and-fast rules, except when one's friends and one's self are involved, in which case certain allowances must be made. Enough with flexibility for those in the loop and draconian measures for those outside the loop. Our nation is overdue for a return to a system under one rule of law, exercised with judiciousness and impartiality. (Source: Washington Post July 8 2002)

    173. Ron Paul has personal religious beliefs that lead him to the theological conclusion that human rights begin in complete form from the moment that an egg is fertilized - even before the fertilized egg implants itself in the womb. The idea of a fertilized egg floating around in a fallopian tube being a full person is odd enough, but Ron Paul has odder ideas too, and seeks to spread those ideas using the power of government.

      For example, Ron Paul has on multiple occasions introduced legislation to forbid any federal program from spending any money on family planning programs. The reason? Ron Paul seems to have something against contraception. If a married couple has limited resources and can't afford to provide for additional children, or if a single person doesn't want to make a child without a stable family situation, contraception is a responsible choice. However, though the government will lose quite a large amount of money providing services to assist families in raising children, Ron Paul is opposed to helping families make the relatively unexpensive choice of when to start pregnancy and have children.

      Abortion is not the issue. The legislation that has been introduced by Ron Paul forbids all family planning services, not just family planning services related to abortion.

      Whatever Ron Paul has against families using contraception on his own personal basis, it is uncompassionate, socially unwise, and economically unsound for him to work to restrict American families' efforts to make responsible choices about when to expand their families. (Source: Library of Congress)

    174. Audio tapes of George W. Bush secretly recorded by author Doug Wead between 1998 and 2000 provide proof that President Bush has a history of using illegal drugs. Specifically, George W. Bush is on tape admitting to Wead that he smoked marijuana.

      I'll be the first to say that I don't believe that President Bush's now proven record as a pot smoker is a big deal. In fact, the country might be better off if Bush and his whole cabinet were smoking pot instead of starting unnecessary wars and sending their spies out to commit espionage against lawful American dissidents. Heck, I tried marijuana a few times when I was a student, and I think most people under the age of 65 have. As a habit, pot smoking has harmful effects, but I don't think that a history of some casual pot smoking ought to disqualify someone from public office.

      On the other hand, allegations of George W. Bush's history of cocaine use are serious. Cocaine is not a drug to be messed with. President Bush and Dick Cheney also are both convicted drunk drivers, and that's an issue that has serious implications about the character of the men who currently control the White House. However, we can talk about these other aspects of Bush's and Cheney's personal histories later - right now, it's not the issue at hand.

      What is important about George W. Bush's admission on audio tape is that even as he admits to using marijuana, he announces that he intends to lie to the American people about it. Heck, on the same audio tape, Bush mocks Al Gore - not for using marijuana, but for publicly acknowledging that he did.

      The scandal here is not the drug use. It's that Bush lies about the drug use. This lie reveals the essence of what's wrong about the personal character of George W. Bush.

      On the tape, Bush tells Wead that the reason he won't tell the American public that he smoked pot is that he doesn't want to hurt America's children. But what is it that Bush thinks that will harm the little kiddies? On the tape, Bush says, "You got to understand, I want to be president. I want to lead. I want to set — Do you want your little kid say, ‘Hey, Daddy, President Bush tried marijuana, I think I will?"

      The real problem is that George W. Bush doesn't really seem to believe that doing something wrong is a problem. Bush appears to believe that only admitting to having done something wrong is a problem. In Bush's view of morality, admitting a mistake is the worst thing possible. It's precisely this stunted moral perspective of President Bush that led America into disaster in Iraq.

      That President Bush smoked pot is a fact. The truth has been revealed, and now that the facts are out, America's children have to deal with two unsettling truths. Yes, it will disturb a few naive minds to find out that President Bush smoked marijuana when he was younger. On the other hand, it's going to be much more disturbing for children to hear that the President of the United States has lied to them.

      Now that irrefutable evidence is available to the public, the Bush White House acknowledges the facts about George W. Bush's history of drug abuse. Still, President Bush refuses to apologize for lying to the American people. Having been caught deceiving the American people, President Bush still pretends that he hasn't done anything wrong.

      As a father, I can tell you that this is the last moral lesson I want my children to learn from the President of the United States: That when you do something wrong, you should lie about it, cover it up, and even after you're caught lying, never ever say that you're sorry.

      Bush's model of leadership appears to be based on the idea that good leaders pretend to be morally perfect in spite of their human flaws. Such an attitude is perhaps forgiveable when leaders are morally forgiving with the people that they lead. When leaders like George W. Bush enforce an outdated moral puritanism upon the nations they lead, such a pretense of moral perfection is despicable.

      The question now on the mind of all thinking American children and adults must be: What else have the Republican politicians who campaign as a proponents of "moral values", lied to us about? (Source: Associated Press, February 23, 2005)

    175. It used to be that Republicans politicians tried to earn the votes of blue-collar Americans by accusing their opponents of being "liberal elites". The suggestion was that liberals politicians didn't really care about working people - a strange idea, given that it's liberals who support raising the minimum wage, and it's Republican politicians who are fighting against the right of American workers to organize for better pay.

      Then, one of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives abandoned all pretense of representing working Americans. DeLay dined on filet mignon with a group of Republican insiders at a ballroom in a Washington D.C. hotel, then stood up and announced to the room that the Democratic Party must be defeated because Democrats have "no class".

      No class? Since when is it a requirement of American politics that a person be of a certain social class?

      Let's talk about the elites, then. Tom DeLay was caught taking what amounts to bribes from corporate lords and ladies. He worked with the Bush Administration to cut medical care for low-income workers, and helped President Bush break the promise of the Social Security Trust Fund that has been made to the widows and orphans of Americans who have worked hard their entire lives.

      That made Tom DeLay the Sheriff of Nottingham to George W. Bush's King John. So, you'll forgive those of us who don't have enough class to satisfy this notorious pair. We'll get our chance in 2008, when the rabble will have the chance to choose a new leader who has fewer pretensions to aistocracy.

    176. One of the things that comes along with war is a push in favor of submission to authority. Authoritarian impulses, like Mike Huckabee's admonition that wives should allow their husbands to be dominant, are always there, but in war time, the become amplified, with the cult of the obedient soldier, crushed by the military's authority, chanting, "Support our troops! Support our troops!"

      I'm glad to point the way to an alternative progressive vision, that of Courage to Resist, a site that revises the popular pro-war slogan, and calls instead for America to "support the troops who refuse to fight".

      The people profiled on the Courage to Resist web site are soldiers who have reclaimed their humanity, and have summoned the discipline to resist the military authority that orders them to destroy themselves and others. These soldiers have had the courage to become individuals again, to think for themselves instead of submitting themselves to the violence of an unjust war with the excuse that they are only obeying orders.

      We need more appreciation in America for those who refuse to obey. Now is not the time for the USA to become a compliant nation. (Source: CourageToResist.org)

    177. Enthusiasts for right wing ideology have a kind of passion for seeing themselves as the victims of persecution. Mel Gibson has been the most obvious example of this, signing up for movie after movie in which his characters are tortured into a kind of special state of righteous purity. The plot line soaked itself into Gibson's head so thoroughly that when he was pulled over by the side of the road for drunk driving, he claimed that, somehow, it was all part of a plot by the Jews to persecute him.

      Something of the same character has been going on at Princeton University, where right wing student Francisco Nava has been complaining that he and his fellow right wing students are persecuted by university liberals. Nava claimed that he and his right wing friends had been sent threatening emails by liberals, and that he had himself been physically attacked by violent liberals intent on punishing him for his punishing him for his political views.

      Nava's ordeal was cited as an example of how liberals aren't really as tolerant as they claim to be, and how right wing Americans suffer under a liberal intellectual elite.

      The trouble with the story is that it wasn't true. After the police were called in to find the nasty liberals who attacked Nava and threatened other right wing Princeton students, they discovered that Nava had sent the threatening emails to himself and to other right wing students on campus, in order to create the false impression that militant liberals were oppressing him. What's more, the scratches and scrapes that Nava claimed were evidence of the attack by liberal student fiends were actually self-inflicted.

      Yes, Francisco Nava actually beat himself up in order to make it look like he had been attacked by a secret liberal conspiracy. Just close your eyes for a few seconds and try to picture what Nava must have done to himself to fake the injuries. That's the fervor with which right wing ideologues have dedicated themselves to the cult of persecution.

      The Passion of Francisco Nava is smaller reflection of the narrative of Homeland Insecurity that right wing activists across the United States have attached themselves. We are given stories of terrorists exploding flower pots, advertisements for cartoon television shows that might be bombs, and hordes of murderous illegal immigrants that simply don't exist.

      Most Americans don't need to indulge in fantasies of being persecuted in order to find their moral center. In 2008, we need to choose a presidential candidate from the reality-based community that knows the difference between a genuine threat and a hoax generated out of the sublimated desire to be purified through persecution. (Source: Associated Press, December 17, 2007)

    178. Progressives believe in the power of individual activism. Lenny Kohm, conservation director for Appalachian Voices, has the following thoughts on activism:

      "People often ask me, 'How do you think you're going to win?' You have to understand the depth of your commitment, and I think that the people who are our opponents, I think the one thing that really frightens them is commitment, because when they go home at 5:00 at night, they leave their power at the office, where, in our case, an activist, your power is always with you." (Source: Appalachian Voices, December 16, 2007)

    179. One thing you'll find out about progressives is that we just don't enjoy freaking out the way that right wingers do. Right wingers tend to take stories about random violence more seriously than progressives do, for instance. We progressives just find that these stories are often riddled with ridiculous exaggeration.

      A while ago, for example, I visited Google News and saw the following headline describing the conviction of a conspirator in the shoe bomber plot: "Former grammar school boy gets 13 years for shoe bomb plot"

      Hmm. Well, when I read down past the headline, I read that the "former grammar school boy" is 25 years old. What I don't understand is why the newspaper editors described this man as a "former grammar school boy". After all, pretty much everyone these days is a former grammar school boy or a former grammar school girl, except for people who are currently in grammar school

      We might as well have the following headlines for the news instead:

      Virginia Upholds Death Penalty for Former Preschooler! Former Baby Pleads Guilty in 9/11 Conspiracy! Former Embryo Convicted of Murdering Two Comrades! Togo Dictator's Former Sperm Seeks Presidency!

    180. We liberals are a live-and-let-live kind of people. Want to worship some god, pray in school, support stupidhead politicians, decide not to take contraception, repress your latent homosexual urges, designate certain regions of your body as sinful, or give over your autonomy to your local authoritarian huckster? Fine — go ahead. It's your right. Just don't try to push everybody else into doing it, too. Also don't be surprised if people openly dare to disagree with or question you. That's freedom for you — pesky at times, but vital.

      Republicans, on the other hand, have this bizarre tendency to want to threaten, maim and kill those who disagree with them. This is what some have declared they'd like to do to you:

      Now Bomb France
      First Iraq, then France
      First Iraq, then the Ditsy Twits!
      First Iraq, then Hollywood!
      (Democratic donkey in target) Got ammo?
      Save the Seals, Club a Liberal
      Club Liberals, Not Sandwiches
      Save the Rainforest, Burn a Liberal
      Split Liberals, Not Wood
      Liberal Hunting License
      I Club Liberals
      Visualize No Democrats

      These are the messages for bumper stickers, t-shirts and buttons that are most popular among Republicans out there, for sale at a store called Right Wing Stuff. Imaginative name, huh?

      Apparently, they do a fine bit of business over at Right Wing Stuff, so you can't say this is just one Republican guy with violent fantasies about killing and maiming those he disagrees with. This is one Republican guy with violent fantasies about killing and maiming those he disagrees with whose fantasies are being snapped up like hotcakes by other Republicans.

      What a juvenile fantasy this is: that, rather than allowing other people to disagree with you, you could club them, burn them, shoot them, bomb them into oblivion.

      Some people have suggested that these messages are all just "jokes." That says something about the people who think killing and maiming those you disagree with is really funny. We all know enough psychology to know that what people say in jokes is actually what people mean, but know they can't say upfront without getting into trouble.

      I'm not of a mind to suggest that these violent bumper stickers and t-shirts be forced off the market. I'm not a censor by nature; these Republicans have every right to sport these messages, and I support that right.

      Actually, I encourage every Republican who harbors such violent fantasies toward people and nations who dare to disagree with them to get one of these messages. Wear your hatred on your shirt! Sport your intolerance on a button! Stick your violent ideations on a bumper sticker! I can't think of a better way for it to be made clear that Republicanism is infected with a thoroughly anti-democratic, anti-freedom, anti-disagreement, anti-discussion spirit. Every time some loser buys one of these items, it becomes more and more clear that Republicans just can't handle anyone daring to disagree with them.

      I want Republicans to put their violent fantasies out where everyone can see them. That way, you can take a moderate friend out to the street, point to these messages, and say: "See, some day, for some reason, you'll be the one that pisses these Republicans off. Do you want to wait for them to turn their violent fantasies on you?"

      Are you a Republican with violent ideations? Go ahead, buy a violent bumper sticker today! You can do nothing better to support the renaissance of liberal thought in America.

    181. If you hold progressive values, it's important for you to do more than think progressive thoughts, or drink tea from a box with progressive quotations on it, or talk to your progressive friends about progressive ideas. It's important for you to get out and take action, to vote in a progressive manner. The re-election of 2004 taught us something. It taught us that even when the anti-constitutional, ill-considered, conspiratorially secretive and unhinged nature of a presidency is unveiled, a lot of Americans will continue to support it, even to their own detriment, if that's what they're told to do. You're an independent thinker. You realize the problems with what's been going on in America. But sadly, you can't rely on other people seeing what you see. That's why you can't just sit in your chair and wait for others to do what's needed to solve our problems. You have to become part of the solution yourself. You have to act in a way that will result in the changes you want to see in this world, to paraphrase Mohandas K. Gandhi. That means among other things voting your hopes, your ideals and your principles. If you want to see a progressive world, you can start by casting progressive votes.

    182. One morning, a few months after the 2004 election, someone sent a message to Irregular Times. After telling us how she would love to "Abu Ghraib" us, she asked why we don't stop criticizing United States policy and start complaining about "the human rights abuses carried out by Saddam Husein [sic], or the bribery of the French." I'll ignore the fact that Saddam Hussein is currently dead and address the real meat of her question: Why don't we focus on the foibles of other countries and stop harping on the foibles of our own country?

      If I were a Frenchman, I'd want to know exactly what benefits, if any, the French government obtained under the Food-for-Oil scheme.

      If I were an Iraqi, I'd be spending nearly all my time criticizing the governing coalition for not seeing beyond short-term competining positions to long-term common interests.

      If I were a German, I'd delve into the problems inherent in a Red-Green coalition.

      I am not a Frenchman. I'm not German. I'm not Iraqi. I'm an American.

      As an American, I have the privilege and burden of an American government acting in my name. Because I endow the American government with my taxes and invest it with legitimacy with my votes, I am especially responsible for the behavior of the American government. Because this is a democratic republic I live in, it is my role to learn about what's going on in American government, spread the word on that if need be, engage in a process of public, collective critical thinking about the direction of American policy and, if I feel we're headed in the wrong direction, advocate for change.

      There is no such functional relationship between me and the French, German or Iraqi governments. Therefore, while wranglings and policy issues regarding the French, German or Iraqi governments may be of intellectual interest to me, they are not my primary responsibility or under my domain of primary control.

    183. The Boogie Man asked us to to send on a personal appeal for us all to vote progressive and shove the Bushes of the world out of office in 2008:

      "Hi. Boogieman here. I wanted to bring something to your attention that you may not be aware of, but has just been a problem for me. You know, it used to be that I could depend on scaring little children and some older people too by pretending to be under their bed, calling out words like "I'm gonna getcha" and "boy, I'm gonna eat your little toesies one by one." You know, none of it was true but I managed to scare them nonetheless. But lately, it just isn't working.

      The problem is that someone's been poaching on my territory. The president of the United States for the past seven years has been standing up in front of the nation and telling us that flower pot bombs, and suitcase bombs, and bombs in our food and bombs in our hats, and bombs in our jackets are going to go off and kill us all, even when there's no evidence for that. It's kind of scary. It's been enough to make people run around and wave their arms and pull at their hair and do all those things they used to do for me. They won't do it for me now. I'm just a has-been Boogie Man with George W. Bush and the likes of him around. I'm unemployed now; I have no job to do.

      You know, I need your help. I think it's time we get rid of that president and those like him in government. Do it for us Boogiemen in the world, sitting there under your beds, just waiting for a chance. Let's put those irrational, counterfactual fears back under the bed where they belong."


    184. Remember how, months back, the fundamentalist conservatives sensed they were losing their struggle to convince Americans that the declared wishes of the Terri Schiavo should be ignored? That she should not be permitted to die? Their arguments weren't working, so they trotted out increasingly bizarre speculations cloaked in the name of "revelations." They asserted:

      Terri Schiavo was not persistently vegetative, but joking with the ladies in the nurses' lounge.
      Terri Schiavo responded to visual stimuli (this, the "professional medical opinion" Senator Bill Frist got from um, watching an edited video)
      Terri Schiavo could eat and drink by herself if only people would let her.
      Terri Schiavo was being poisoned in the hospital.
      Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, had assaulted her.
      Well, now the autopsy results have been released, and the coroner has found:

      Terri Schiavo's brain was half the size of a normal person's.
      Terri Schiavo was blind, since the part of her brain dedicated to processing vision had died.
      Schiavo would not have been able to eat or drink.
      All findings were consistent with the diagnosis a persistent vegetative state.
      No evidence of poisoning.
      No evidence of trauma.

      Pesky things, facts. (Source: Washington Post, June 16, 2005)

    185. Every time I listen to Republican politicians, I hear them talking about the "core values" of the GOP. What exactly are these "core values" the Republican Party keeps talking about? Consider the following statement by Rod Paige, the Republican who served as Secretary of Education under George W. Bush:

      "I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith... The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system. In a religious environment, the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."

      Republicans like Paige are not interested in children being exposed to "different kids with different kinds of values." They're interested in cutting their children off from diversity of thinking so they can rigidly control their minds instead of letting them grow and learn. A Secretary of Education who is opposed to children learning? That certainly doesn't fit with my moral values. If it doesn't fit with yours, why vote Republican? (Source: Washington Post, April 9, 2003)

    186. Mike Huckabee tried to be clever, telling voters in the state of Iowa that if they don't support him, they shouldn't worry too much about voting in the caucuses and should go watch a football game instead. That's a typical conservative approach, trying to win by getting as many people as possible to stop voting. A progressive presidential candidate encourages people to start caring as much about their country as they care about sports. A progressive presidential candidate asks people to become involved, to think about the issues, and then to participate in the political process -- not to stay home. (Source: Baltimore Sun December 28 2007)

    187. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."

      Walk.


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