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"Why We Should Care"

Monday, May 29, 2006
From Alberto J. Mora, the retired Navy general counsel last year, who wrote a memo to the Pentagon 2 years prior to Abu Ghraib warning against US violation of national and international agreements of torture and detainee abuse:

"Our forefathers, who permanently defined our civic values, drafted our Constitution inspired by the belief that law could not create but only recognize certain inalienable rights granted by God -- to every person, not just citizens, and not just here but everywhere. Those rights form a shield that protects core human dignity. Because this is so, the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel punishment. The constitutional jurisprudence of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments outlaws cruel treatment that shocks the conscience. The Geneva Conventions forbid the application of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to all captives, as do all of the major human rights treaties adopted and ratified by our country during the last century.

Despite this, there was abuse. Not all were mistreated, but some were. For those mistreated, history will ultimately judge what the precise quantum of abuse inflicted was -- whether it was torture or some lesser cruelty -- and whether it resulted from official commission or omission, or occurred despite every reasonable effort to prevent the abuse. Whatever the ultimate historical judgment, it is established fact that documents justifying and authorizing the abusive treatment of detainees during interrogation were approved and distributed. These authorizations rested on three beliefs: that no law prohibited the application of cruelty; that no law should be adopted that would do so; and that our government could choose to apply the cruelty -- or not -- as a matter of policy depending on the dictates of perceived military necessity.

The fact that we adopted this policy demonstrates that this war has tested more than our nation's ability to defend itself. It has tested our response to our fears and the measure of our courage. It has tested our commitment to our most fundamental values and our constitutional principles.

In this war, we have come to a crossroads... Will we continue to regard the protection and promotion of human dignity as the essence of our national character and purpose, or will we bargain away human and national dignity in return for an additional possible measure of physical security?

Why should we still care about these issues? The Abu Ghraib abuses have been exposed; Justice Department memoranda justifying cruelty and even torture have been ridiculed and rescinded; the authorizations for the application of extreme interrogation techniques have been withdrawn; and, perhaps most critically, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, has been enacted, thanks to the courage and leadership of Sen. John McCain.

We should care because the issues raised by a policy of cruelty are too fundamental to be left unaddressed, unanswered or ambiguous. We should care because a tolerance of cruelty will corrode our values and our rights and degrade the world in which we live. It will corrupt our heritage, cheapen the valor of the soldiers upon whose past and present sacrifices our freedoms depend, and debase the legacy we will leave to our sons and daughters. We should care because it is intolerable to us that anyone should believe for a second that our nation is tolerant of cruelty. And we should care because each of us knows that this issue has not gone away."

Dems and the Evangelical Vote

Thursday, May 25, 2006
From a recent posting at the Emerging Democratic Majority:

Can Dems Win Evangelicals? ...is a question that would have been quickly dismissed a few years ago, but is now well worth asking, suggests Amy Sullivan in her New Republic Online article "The Christian Right Moves Left: Base Running." Sullivan recounts a recent incident at Messiah College in which GOP Senator Rick Santorum was char-grilled by evangelical environmentalists, who were unhappy with his opposition to the Kyoto Accords and support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Sullivan sees the incident as emblematic of a larger trend within the evangelical community --- and a growing problem for the GOP:

...Rove is also reportedly worried about another group of evangelicals: the nearly 40 percent who identify themselves as politically moderate and who are just as likely to get energized about aids in Africa or melting ice caps as partial-birth abortion and lesbian couples in Massachusetts. These evangelicals have found the White House even less open to their concerns than their more conservative brethren have...They have also been aggravated by the refusal of the Christian right's old guard to embrace new causes like the environment and global poverty.

Others have noted the growing interest in environmental causes among evangelicals, as evidenced by their increasing references to Genesis 2:15, in which God tells Adam to "watch over" the Garden of Eden "and care for it," posited against the sorry record of the GOP on every environmental issue. Sullivan offers a revealing statistic in this context that should be of interest to all Dem candidates:

...63 percent of evangelicals in a March survey released by the Evangelical Environmental Network agreed that global warming is an immediate concern.

It is doubtful that Dems will win a majority of self-described evangelicals. Yet it is quite possible that they can win a healthy slice of the evangelical vote this year and in '08... But it won't happen automatically. As Sullivan points out, the national Democratic Party, as well as state and local candidates, must make a focused commitment and an energetic effort to make it a reality.

Quote of the Day

Friday, May 05, 2006
"For people of all faiths, prayer is a powerful act of devotion. Today, people of faith gather all across the country to reflect on our many blessings as a nation and to seek thoughtful discernment on the many challenges before us.

We know that the suffering of our neighbors, both domestic and around the world, is a burden we must work to alleviate. For the nearly 1 in 5 American children living in poverty, for the nearly 46 million Americans who are uninsured, for the millions of refugees around the world, and for the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost to genocide in Darfur, we must come together around these and other common concerns to offer hope. Today and every day, we must strive to find the moral high ground to impact real change.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to work to heal our nation and to come together around our shared values to rebuild our American community with honesty, security and opportunity and to demonstrate moral leadership around the globe."

-- DNC Chairman Howard Dean, on the National Day of Prayer

A Good Cause: Net Nuetrality...Save the Internet

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Save the Internet: Click here