2008 reasons to elect a progressive president in 2008
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    1. America has not had a progressive President in more than a generation. We've tried the alternatives, and they haven't worked. It's time to give the progressive vision a chance in the Oval Office.

    2. "O Youth: Do you know that yours is not the first generation to yearn for a life full of beauty and freedom? Do you know that all your ancestors felt as you do -- and fell victim to trouble and hatred? Do you know also, that your fervent wishes can only find fulfillment if you succeed in attaining love and understanding of men, and animals, and plants, and stars, so that every joy becomes your joy and every pain your pain? Open your eyes, your heart, your hands, and avoid the poison your forebears so greedily sucked in from History. Then will all the earth be your fatherland, and all your work and effort spread forth blessings." (Source: Albert Einstein, Entry written in an album at Caputh, Germany, 1932)

    3. Charting a proper course forward depends upon a realistic understanding of one's present position in relation to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the right wing ideology favored by the current government of the United States of America is based upon an abstract faith in what ought to be true rather than what is true. Our leaders have insulated themselves from the reality of the current historical moment that they have lost the ability to check their beliefs against actual conditions. It isn't just that America's right wing leaders have lied to us. They have come actually believe their own propaganda.

      As a result, the right wing has led America out of history and into a wall of mirrors in which, no matter what direction we walk in, we come to find the same idealized image of America waiting for us as a confirmation. William Pfaff described this American national disorientation from the real events of history as follows:
      "The creators of this cartoon-like conceptual world have themselves become actors in the virtual universe their ideas and actions have made. They have left reality behind - or they simply ignore it, as they did in invading Iraq. We have passed from 1984 to 2006, into a post-Orwellian condition in which Big Brother has become a part of his creation. He is now imposing it on others by acting as though it were real, at whatever expense to others."
      We need to break the mirrors of our national self-delusion, and see our place in the historical moment as it is, so that we can find our way back to a more stable path into the future. (Source: The Observer, November 19, 2006).

    4. The freedom of women to vote in public elections is not yet even one hundred years old here in the United States. Now, we take it for granted. Early in the 20th century, however, right wingers took it for granted that women should not have the right to vote. The cause of women's suffrage was a progressive cause. That stand still reverberates, and indicates a more enlightened historical vision among progressives. That's one more reason to choose a progressive President in 2008.

    5. Progressives believe that the direction American history should be one of increasing individual rights. We agree with diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Ralph Bunche when he said,
      "In democracy the gap between ideal and practice must be constantly narrowed. For democracy, to prosper, or even to live, must ever be dynamic. It must move forward toward the goals of greater freedom, better life, fuller dignity for the people it serves. Any backward step, any encroachment upon the rights of democracy's citizens, any violation of the dignity of the individual, any retreat in the well- being of the people strikes at the virility of the ideal and retards the course of human progress."

      We progressives agree with History professor Melvin Urofsky when he states, in The Rights of the People, published by the United States Department of State, "The Bill of Rights can be read as the definitive statement of that most American of values: the idea that the individual is prior to and takes precedence over any government."

      We progressives are alarmed, however, to see that America's history of increasing individual rights is now being eroded by a government run by right wing activists who believe in the nationalist principle that the government has the right to disregard individual rights in the name of security. Lawyers representing the American federal government recently wrote in a legal motion that "When the national security conflicts with an individual's interest... the interests of the individual must give way."

      Americans should elect a progressive President in 2008 because we still believe that the history of the United States of America should be defined by the protection of individual rights, not the promotion of nationalist power. (Sources: The Rights of People, Melvin Urofsky, 2003; The Road to Peace, Ralph Bunche, 1954; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Motion by Intervenor United States to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment in Civil Action No. 1:05-cv-01417-TSE-TRJ)

    6. Did you ever wonder why the phrase "Homeland Security" made you feel uneasy? Well, it turns out that the word is based on the German concept of the "Heimat," which literally means homeland and which served as the foundation for German fascism's appeal during the Third Reich.

      By setting the Homeland against the Auslanders, Hitler found that he could get his Good Germans to agree to all sorts of moral outrages. Apartheid South Africa and Soviet Russia also used the concept of the Homeland to separate insiders from outsiders and reduce the liberty of insiders and outsiders alike in the name of security from outsiders. That doesn't put us in good company, but it does help explain how George W. Bush has been able to get so many Americans to acquiesce to so much. (Source: Associated Press, September 6, 2002)

    7. Adolph Hitler once proclaimed,
      "The individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole... that above all, the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual... We understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow man."

      History has shown us what happens when the interest of government security is allowed to overrule the rights of individuals. Unless they want their nation to go the way of Nazi Germany, Americans should not support the right wing ideology that proclaims that individual rights are subservient to the uninterrupted operation of the Department of Homeland Security. Those who do support such an ideology stand on Hitler's side of history. (Source: Speech in Buckeburg on Oct. 7, 1933 by Adolph Hitler)

    8. Why vote for a progressive president? Because progressives have done a lot of good in the past; it is only our limited frame of reference in time that fuels our pessimism. Consider progressive activist Ralph Nader. No, go back further than the 2000 election. In the 1960s and 1970s, Ralph Nader started a movement that uncovered widespread corporate malfeasance, helped get seat belts and air bags in cars, and pushed the Clean Air Act into law.

      Lives were saved because one progressive decided he'd had enough, and other progressives joined his cause. The entire Earth is a better place for his efforts: scientists studying ice cores can identify the point at which the Clean Air Act was enacted -- by sight.

      No, Ralph Nader was never elected president. But imagine what could change for the better if a progressive with the vision and drive Nader showed forty years ago made it into the Oval Office. Just imagine the possibilities, and remember that those possibilities are real.

      (Sources: An Unreasonable Man, IFC Films, 2007; An Inconvenient Truth DVD Release, Al Gore, 2006)

    9. In mid-May, 2005, news came from Iraq of the discovery of yet more mass graves in Iraq. The bodies of dozens of Shiite men were found, with gunshot wounds to the head and their hands tied behind their backs, after reports of American-trained, uniformed Iraqi government "security forces" were seen rounding up Shiites and moving them out of public view.

      Elsewhere in Iraq, American forces wrapped up an offensive against insurgents, near Iraq's border with Syria, which they declared a dramatic success. Reporters who went along with American military forces say differently. They say that very few insurgents were actually found, and that what American soldiers mostly found were roadside bombs and booby traps. At least 7 American soldiers were killed by such devices during the operation, but locals explained that insurgents had almost all fled the area well before the Americans even arrived. All that the operation accomplished, according to the locals, was to destroy their homes and businesses with unnecessary firepower.

      Stories of executed bodies in mass graves and pro-government forces cutting swaths of destruction through villages unfriendly to the regime in Baghdad give me a sort mental hiccup. Which Iraq is this? Before or after the liberating American invasion?

      A Republican friend assures me that all this is just a necessary mess in order to help the American-approved regime bring order and security to all Iraq. But there I go again with another mental hiccup - as I remember it, Rush Limbaugh said the same thing about Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in the 1980s, back when Saddam Hussein was America's friend and his regime was approved of by George W. Bush's father as the best chance for stability in the Middle East.

      History is rhyming, and it's giving me vertigo.

    10. Climatologists back in the 1980s had a good basic understandstanding of the dynamics of global warming. Their predictions of global warming have been proven accurate. In 2006, a team of NASA scientists researched the rate of global warming, and found that it matches the predictions made by researchers way back in the 1980s.

      Nonetheless, right wing politicians have been working all this time to deny the validity of global warming science. They have provided a litany of excuses for people who want to keep on burning through resources at an irresponsibly fast and furious pace.

      Back in the 1980s, we were given a warning about global warming. We had a chance to change the course of history, and unite to prevent further global warming from happening. Instead, Americans chose to listen to anti-science right wing propaganda.

      Now, in 2007, we are being warned again that global warming will continue for generations more unless we unite now to change our way of living to more sustainable levels. Once again, right wing politicians are saying that there is no need for action.

      The right wingers were wrong about global warming in the 1980s, and they're wrong about global warming now. We must not repeat the grave historical mistake we made in the 1980s. In 2008, we need to elect a President who demonstrated the wisdom to accept the science of global warming the first time around. (Source: CBC News, September 26, 2006)

    11. The history of the decline of the Republican Party from the progressive party of Lincoln to its current pandering, corrupt, reactionary and power-hungry form was summarized aptly by Robert Scheer when he wrote, "The party of Lincoln through Eisenhower has been captured by the Trent Lotts and Jesse Helmses, and the promised big tent for the GOP has been shrunk to fit the proportions of a Southern religious revival meeting." (Source: Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2001)
    12. You know things have gotten bad when a former President of the United States criticizes the sitting President. There has been an understanding that this sort of criticism won't be given in public, but now things have gone too far for such a gentleman's agreement to continue.

      This spring, Jimmy Carter said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."

      Jimmy Carter is right. The administration of President George W. Bush is the worst in American history.

      Jimmy Carter is right to say so, too. The damage being done by the Bush White House is much worse than the impact of the small incivility of Jimmy Carter saying what almost the entire world is thinking. (Source: Associated Press, May 19, 2007)

    13. Fred Thompson doesn't have much more in the way of experience relevant to becoming President of the United States than his one and half terms in the United States Senate. Thompson's time in the Senate was rather unremarkable except in the way that it boosted his careers as a corporate lobbyist and actor.

      It is not fair to say, however, that Fred Thompson created no legacy during his time in the Senate. Thompson does have this legacy in the Senate: Fred Thompson is the first and only senator ever to allow a lawyer to ask leading questions about phone sex during a trial in the Senate.

      Here's a transcript of how it went down:

      Q. Let me go on. Did Ms. Lewinsky tell you that she and the President had had phone sex? A. I think Ms.–I know Ms. Lewinsky told me about, uh, telephone conversations with the President. If Ms. Lewinsky had told me something about phone sex, I think I would have remembered that. Q. And therefore, if she testifies that she told you that Ms. Lewinsky and the President had phone sex, then you'd simply deny her testimony in that regard? A. I– MR. KENDALL: Object to the form. THE WITNESS: I have no recollection, Congressman, of Ms. Lewinsky telling me about phone sex–but given my age, I would probably have been interested in what that was all about. SENATOR THOMPSON: We'll overrule the objection. It's a leading question, but I think that it will be permissible for these purposes. MR. HUTCHINSON: It's my understanding, Senator, that under the Senate rule, that the witness would be considered an adverse witness. SENATOR THOMPSON: That's correct.

      In this shameful moment in American history, the ordinary business of the United States Senate was brought to a halt in order for witnesses to be asked about who remembered hearing rumors about the President having phone sex. Fred Thompson didn't just allow it to happen. He was right in the middle of helping it to happen. (Source: Congressional Record, February 4, 1999)

    14. Republican fundamentalists are running away from a relatively honest depiction of a brutal historical truth: The Christian Crusades of the Dark Ages were a barbaric and senseless slaughter.

      Leaders of the Republican religious fringe are fuming at the coming release of Kingdom of Heaven - an action movie that is set during one of the Crusades. They are outraged that the film refuses to comply with the Christian revisionist history of the Crusades.

      The sin of Kingdom of Heaven, according to Christian film reviewer Bob Waliszewski, is that the film does not depict the Crusaders as righteous, morally-pure, holy warriors fighting in the name of God against the Muslim spawn of Satan. Instead, Kingdom of Heaven accurately portrays the armies of crusaders as rag-tag opportunists who are motivated by selfish instincts.

      The truth of the Crusades is actually more terrible than anything depicted in Kingdom of Heaven. In truth, the Crusades included immense slaughters of Jews in Europe. The Crusaders pillaged, raped and destroyed entire Christian cities before they ever got to Muslim territory. The Crusaders engaged in torture, killing, and even cannibalism against non-military inhabitants of the Middle East. The Crusades were awful.

      "This is not how Christians I know see each other," Waliszewski complains. Well, tough. I'm not saying that most modern Christians are the moral equivalent of the terrible Crusaders of medieval times. However, the Crusades are an important and illustrative part of Christian history that should no more be denied that the Nazi Holocaust should be denied. When Waliszewski complains about the truth being told, he is morally equivalent to a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier.

      Of course, the real battle that Waliszewski and his fellow fundamentalists are truly concerned about is the current campaign of the far right wing of the Republican Party to overthrow American democracy and replace it with a theocratic regime that is devoted to granting power to certain extremist Christian sects. This radical Christian fringe wants to wage a new Crusade against their evil enemies, and they want to use nuclear weapons to do so, fully expecting that in doing so, they will bring about the end of the world as we know it. These American fanatics are devoted to the idea that they are going to take part in a global Holy War which will be so bloody as to make all previous wars, even the Crusades, look like picnics.

      These fundamentalists don't want Americans to see Kingdom of Heaven because they want to preserve the illusion that Christianity is a pure force of good, even when it wages violence against its opponents. These fundamentalists oppose anyone who dares to confront their lies with truth.

      If you're looking for a bit of the truth about the Crusades, watching an adventure movie really isn't the best way to do it. I suggest, as a starter, that you take a peek at a documentary entitled The Crusades - available on DVD. Then, do some reading on the historical echoes of The Crusades in current events with Karen Armstrong's book Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact On Today's World. Defy the fundamentalists and do better than a Hollywood version of an education about the Crusades.

    15. Fred Thompson likes to depict himself as a hero of the Watergate hearings who, working as a counsel for the Republicans in Congress, brought down President Nixon even though he was a loyal Republican.

      The facts don't fit that story. The facts indicate that Fred Thompson was working behind the scenes the whole time to help Richard Nixon evade the law and hide information from the Watergate Hearings.

      Confronted with the truth behind his self-created myth, Fred Thompson has admitted that he leaked information to the Nixon White House indicating that the Senate Watergate Committee knew about Nixon's system of audio recordings of meetings in the Oval Office. Thompson also admits that his leaks were completely unauthorized.

      "I wanted to be sure that the White House was fully aware of what was to be disclosed so that it could take appropriate action," Fred Thompson says. We all know what "appropriate action" Richard Nixon took. When the Nixon White House audio tapes were finally obtained by Congress, a long part of the audio tapes was erased.

      Fred Thompson helped President Nixon cover up his crimes. He was no hero of the Watergate hearings. Fred Thompson was part of the problem. (Source: Boston Globe, July 4, 2007)

    16. It's taken the American public six years to catch on, but they've finally figured out that Vice President Dick Cheney is no Dan Quayle. According to the New York Times blog The Caucus, a new joint poll by the New York Times and CBS News finds that Dick Cheney "has replaced Dan Quayle as the most unpopular vice president in recent history."

      That takes some work. Dan Quayle, after all, is the man who told America's kiddies to spell potato "POTATOE," and who told us that "I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change," "Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things," and "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is ‘to be prepared.'"

      But now Dick Cheney has finally done it and topped (or is that bottomed?) Dan Quayle in unpopularity, signaling the inability of once-mainstream Republican authoritarianism to sway the American people on a permanent basis.

      We had warnings of Dick Cheney's estrangement from the world most of us inhabit as far back as 2000, when the man chosen to choose the best vice presidential candidate chose himself. We knew even back then that the man who would lead the free world as soon as Bush got offed hadn't bothered to vote in 14 out of 16 elections. Americans knew when they voted for the guy that the corporation he led, the soon-to-be-enriched Halliburton, ran a system of segregated bathrooms. We were (or should have been) aware that this was a man who voted "NO" with his Republican Party when given the opportunity to place sanctions on the White Only apartheid regime of South Africa.

      Enough Americans missed the clear warning signs that Dick Cheney would be part of a regime worse than Dan Quayle's, and Mr. Cheney made his way to power. But we've had enough of the administrations of Republican men named Bush and their callous underlings to know better now. If we fall for the same old ruse one more time, what will that make us? (Sources: The Caucus, July 9 2007; Snopes.com; CBS News, September 10 2000; CBS News, July 23 2000)

    17. "I just don't think that type of civil disobedience leads to constructive (resolution) of issues." Republican Representative Randy Kuhl, explaining why he will be increasing security measures to keep protesting constituents out of his district office.

      "We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was 'legal' and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was 'illegal.'" Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

      "Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well. What satire on government can equal the severity of censure conveyed in the word politic, which now for ages has signified cunning, intimating that the State is a trick?" Ralph Waldo Emerson, Politics.

      In which direction does your moral compass point you? (Sources: Letter from a Birmingham Jail; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Politics; Rochester Democrat and Chronicle August 8 2007)

    18. George W. Bush has finally acknowledged that the American military operation in Iraq has become a great deal like the quagmire of the Vietnam War. That's good. What's not so good is that Bush has taken the wrong lesson from the Vietnam War, and concluded that the United States should have remained in Vietnam for even longer, and that the same is true for the failed military occupation of Iraq.

      President Bush says that ending the American occupation will cause a bloodbath. However, the experts disagree. They say that the bloodbath that Bush says he wants to avoid has already begun, and has been caused by the length of the American military presence in Iraq, not because the United States has not been fighting in Iraq for long enough.

      John Johns, a former Brigadier General and an expert in counter-insurgency, says Bush's conclusions are based upon a selective interpretation of military history. "What I learned in Vietnam is that US forces could not conduct a counterinsurgency operation. The longer we stay there, the worse it's going to get," he explains.

      Steve Simons of the Council on Foreign Relations, which could never be accused of having a bias in favor of peace, also says that Bush's understanding of the problems that occurred after the American pullout from Vietnam is mistaken, saying that the violence "happened because the United States left too late, not too early," and adding that "It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay the worse it gets."

      Historian Robert Dallek describes Bush's blunder in more blunt terms: "What is Bush suggesting? That we didn't fight hard enough, stay long enough? That's nonsense. It's a distortion."

      It's worth noting that this issue does not necessarily end with the completion of George W. Bush's second term in office. Republican candidates for President echo Bush's claim that prolonging the military occupation Iraq is a good idea. (Source: Agence France Presse, August 23, 2007)

    19. Hillary Clinton has called upon Democrats to look back to the history of the original progressive movement in the early 20th century for inspiration in the building of a new progressive movement for the early 21st century. She says,

      "Back then, the American economy was dominated by large corporate monopolies. Corruption was far too common and good government far too rare. Women couldn't vote, and the minimum wage, well, that wasn't heard of and worker rights were completely unimagined. Back then, America was a country filled with haves and have nots and not enough people in between.

      In response to these excesses, the progressive movement was born. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, the progressives busted trusts and fought for safe working conditions and fair wages. They created the national park system, and replaced a government rife with cronyism with a merit-based civil service. They understood, as the great progressive President Teddy Roosevelt once said, that 'The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us.'

      Well, today, at the beginning of the 21st century, I think it's time we remembered those lessons."

      Whether or not you support the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in particular, her call to remember the role of progressives in improving the civic standards in American government is worth heeding. We citizens should stand up and do our part to revive that tradition. (Source: HillaryClinton.Com, May 29, 2007)

    20. Stop and think with a long historical perspective and you'll start to see the clear connections between the right wing's ideology and the way of life that predominated in the Dark Ages. The Republican agenda is essentially motivated by a medieval way of thinking, and the consequences we suffer are like the suffering of the Dark Ages.

      Lack of progress.
      Inability to fight disease.
      Lack of preparation for disaster.
      Centralized power.

      Line up the world that the Republicans threaten to bring us alongside the Dark Ages, and they match with frightening accuracy.

      America has been presented with an option with implications that are deadly clear: Bring Back the Dark Ages. Vote Republican.

    21. There has been a some controversy lately over comparisons of the policies of George W. Bush to the policies of the Nazis. What it all boils down to is the idea of nationalism, and what the practical effects of nationalism were in Nazi Germany and, in a more recent manifestation, what the effects have been here in the United States of America under the Bush Republicans.

      Let me point out a creepy parallel between Bush and Hitler that most people don't think about: Both Bush's Republican's and Hitler's Nazis systematically attacked gays and atheists. The Nazi attacks on gays are most recently being remembered in Israel's new Holocaust museum. The Nazis imposed laws making gay sex illegal, and sent off tens of thousands of gays to their prisons. All across America, Republicans are trying to do the same thing, with the explicit support of President George W. Bush.

      The Bush Administration's consistent attacks upon the rights of atheists and other non-religious Americans to fully participate in American public life are another mirror of Hitler's Nazi agenda. When nationalism runs amok, if quite often does so in the name of God. Consider the Nazi insignia, which featured the motto "Gott Mit Uns" - God is with us.

      All across Germany, as the Nazis gained power, the government started mixing itself into church affairs, promoting religion and being promoted by religion. The national headquarters of the German Freethinkers League was shut down by the Nazis, when all freethinking organizations were banned. Hitler himself repeatedly condemned atheists, launched an "anti-godless" campaign, and announced when he took power in 1933, "We have . . . undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

      Hitler replaced the secular government with the Nazi regime, which worked in cooperation with the church to promote what it called Christian values. Long before George W. Bush started his own plan for "faith-based initiatives", Hitler had done the same.

      In short, it wasn't just the Jews that the Nazis attacked. Hitler and his supporters used hatred against all kinds of ethnic, sexual, and cultural minorities to build support for their nationalist agenda. The parallels with the Republicans' gay bashing policies and efforts to mix the power of conservative churches into the power of his Homeland Security state are striking.

      Of course, I would never say that the parallels between Bush's Republicans and Hitler's Nazis are complete and undeniable. After all, there are clearly many people who are eager to engage in outrageous acts of denial - of the atrocities of the Nazis as well as the many crimes of the Bush Administration. The Nazi rise to power proved that people are eager to believe in a cause that makes them feel good about their nation, no matter how despicable that cause is in fact. It is shocking to see the widespread German denial of Nazi death camps echoed in the present day widespread American denial of a worldwide network of American prisons where people are taken without trial, tortured, and often killed.

      I hope that the adherents of the new American nationalist movement are not in such denial that they will allow the Republicans to go to the extremes of the Holocaust. The signs of dawning nationalism are strong, but there is still time for Americans of good conscience to resist.

    22. This morning, I realized that, in one weekI boarded airplanes three times without declaring a half-empty three ounce tube of toothpaste packed in my suitcase. I didn't take it out of my suitcase. I didn't put the toothpaste in a plastic bag to be separately scanned by an X-ray security machine.

      In the old America, I was just travelling while hoping to keep my teeth nice and fresh. In the America of Homeland Security, I was a traitor.

      In 2008, let's vote for a President who will end the nonsense of Homeland Security. Let's vote for a progressive President who will bring security concerns back in line with genuine threats.

    23. The political smallness of Republicans Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo was exposed once again yesterday, as both presidential candidates voted against the formation of a new National Historical Park in Paterson, New Jersey. The site for the National Historical Park is widely recognized for its long association with a series of important historical developments in the economy of the USA, ranging from the work of Alexander Hamilton to the development of hydropower. Establishing a National Historical Park there provides a focus for the education of Americans about certain aspects of America's economic development, including the transition from slavery to relatively free labor. I'm not an avid student of economic history, but I can see why it's in the national interest to preserve and recognize historical sites like those being included in the new Paterson Great Falls National Park.

      Tancredo and Paul don't see it that way. Even though 50 Republicans crossed party lines to support H.R. 189, the House bill establishing the new park, Tancredo and Paul voted against it. On what grounds do they oppose the park? On the grounds that it's a waste of money? The establishment of a new historical park is a tiny expense for the federal government, especially when compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent every year to keep the unnecessary military occupation of Iraq going on and on and on. Besides, federal funds for the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park will only be spent if non-federal matching funds, including private donations, are made available.

      It's not as if the new National Historical Park will grab anyone's private land. The power of eminent domain will not be used. The legislation states, "The Secretary may acquire land or interests in land within the boundaries of the park from willing sellers only by donation, purchase with donated or appropriated funds, or exchange."

      The opposition of Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo to the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park demonstrates the smallness of their political vision. We need a President who is capable of a broader vision of America, one that acknowledges the importance of preserving tangible connections to America's history. (Source: The Library of Congress)

    24. Only an illiterate simpleton or a shameless liar could deny that the nature of the American identity is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The Republican nationalists and the opposition liberals disagree about the nature of this transformation, but they generally agree that a transformation is taking place.

      In times of great change like these, I find it helpful to go back to the early days of the United States of America, and find small touchstones for historical comparison.

      This week, when President George W. Bush has finally been exposed as directly ordering the conditions for torture to be put in place, I thought it would be useful to see what another famous George W. would have done - George Washington. Would George Washington have ordered the torture of prisoners under his authority?

      Of course, we'll never know all the gory details of George Washington's many military adventures, but I think that it is well worth considering Washington's treatment of enemy soldiers he captured just after a series of particularly brutal battles. At the Battle of Long Island, Hessian mercenaries ran their bayonets through disarmed members of the Continental Army. At the Battle of Princeton, British soldiers killed wounded Continental Army soldiers that they found helpless on the battlefield. Nonetheless, when Washington prevailed in battle and captured hundreds of prisoners, he denied the American rebel soldiers' appetite for vengeance.

      The American soldiers asked for permission from Washington to beat the prisoners with sticks until they were bloody and broken, but Washington told them, "Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren." David Hackett Fischer, author of Washington's Crossing, writes that George Washington "often reminded his men that they were an army of liberty and freedom, and that the rights of humanity for which they were fighting should extend even to their enemies."

      Compare this honorable conduct to the conduct of George W. Bush, who has ordered that the legal definition of torture be stretched so that soldiers and other government agents can abuse prisoners without fear of punishment, and who has directly ordered for non-combatants captured on American soil to be transported out of the country so that they can be tortured in an evasion of clear American laws against the use of torture by any representative of the American government.

      The lesson I take from the comparison is this: When George W. Bush talks about defending traditional American values, he does not know what he is talking about. America's traditional values, dating back to our nation's founding, are respect for liberty and human rights. George W. Bush has no respect for these traditional values, and the historical example he sets for future presidents will be only the shameful lesson that a national descent into depravity is easy to accomplish as long as one vigorously waves the battle flag.

    25. Why be afraid of being labelled a "liberal"? George Washington wasn't.

      President Washington explicitly called for the United States of America to be known as a liberal nation. " I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality," he said on one occasion. On another occasion, he wrote, "The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation." (Sources: Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island , 1790; Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry)

    26. In 1976, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Francoise Giroud, the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, observed the following: ""Today, many people are amazed to see this airing of your dirty laundry, this public display of your wounds, and this ceaseless self-criticism. They have never seen that in their countries. They look at you as if the United States had become a kind of blind giant indulging in self-mutilation. This capacity that you have to expose your wounds instead of hiding them, is, in my opinion, the evidence of an ability to heal yourselves. Your wounds will be closed because you air them in the sunlight of the truth. This fervor with which you call yourselves into question, is in my eyes, the proof of the magnificent American vitality. It is this gift of innovation and initiative which is your greatest strength."

      In a more succinct manner, President Harry S. Truman made the same point when he declared, "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix."

      The danger of government secrecy to the integrity of the United States of America has been recognized for generations. Now, under George W. Bush, that threat seems to have been forgotten, and government secrecy has expanded beyond what anyone could have expected.

      In 2008, Americans need to re-establish the vision of people such as Harry S. Truman and Francoise Giroud, by dismantling the dark fog of government secrecy that suffocated American liberty nearly to death. (Sources: American Experience: Truman, WGBH; American Chronicle, August 6, 2005)

    27. Republican presidential candidate John McCain is continuing the Republican obsession with hippies, running a television advertisement that blasts the Woodstock music festival of 1969.

      How is a music festival that took place 38 years ago relevant to a presidential election that will take place next year? Senator McCain is furious that Hillary Clinton has supported a museum that commemorates Woodstock festival as an historical turning point in American culture. Given that Woodstock is in the state that Senator Clinton represents, her support is not out of the ordinary at all.

      Why is John McCain so angry? He says it's because he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam at the time of the Woodstock music festival.

      That's a strange justification for his fury, given that the Woodstock music festival was not in any way responsible for McCain's status as a prisoner of war. The people who organized and attended the festival in Woodstock didn't send John McCain to Vietnam, and didn't make him a prisoner. In fact, most of the people who went to the festival supported ending the war in Vietnam so that American soldiers would not be taken prisoner there any more.

      It was a corrupt, pro-war government that sent John McCain to Vietnam, and it was the North Vietnamese who took McCain prisoner. As far as I know, no one from North Vietnam or the White House attended Woodstock. So, what's the connection?

      The connection is that Republicans of John McCain's generation learned to loathe hippies back in the 1960s, and have never let go of that hatred. They've even passed their hatred of hippies down to new generations of Republicans, although hippies almost completely disappeared even 30 years ago. As weird as it seems, there are a lot of Republicans who believe that now, in 2007, hippies are somehow ruining America. John McCain knows that invoking hatred of hippies is an effective way to get Republicans worked up. McCain is bringing up Woodstock, and its images of hippies, as a tool to win the Republican presidential nomination.

      What's ironic, given McCain's television ad, is that in the present day, John McCain is in favor of prolonging another unjust war in which American soldiers are suffering, as he did during the Vietnam War. As a United States Senator, McCain supports inhumane prisoner of war camps of the sort that he suffered in. In spite of all his PR about being a victim of torture, McCain has used his power in the United States Senate to support torture of other people.

      John McCain will not stand against the brutal treatment of prisoners of war, yet he will stand against the Woodstock music festival. It's that same attitude in George W. Bush that has gotten the USA into the shameful mess we suffer from today. It's time to reject the mistakes of the past, not to repeat them. (Source: Phoenix Sun-Journal, October 24, 2007)

      A History of Censorship At the Border

      The American Civil Liberties Union has summarized a history of right wing censorship of the expression of ideas within the United States. This censorship takes place at the border, as the government identifies prominent thinkers to exclude from permission to enter the United States. These thinkers were not violent. They were not criminals. They were refused permission to enter the United States merely because they held political ideals that were different than those of the politicians occupying the White House at the time.

      The refusal of our government to allow Americans to associate with these thinkers within the borders of the United States makes each one of them a reason to elect a progressive President in 2008. A true progressive would never refuse someone permission to cross the border into the United States merely because of that person's ideals, and would end the current policy, legalized under the Patriot Act, of ideological exclusion from entry into the USA.

    28. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    29. Novelist Doris Lessing

    30. Playwright Dorio Po

    31. Poet Pablo Neruda

    32. President Nelson Mandela

    33. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

    34. Professor Tariq Ramadan

    35. Musician Maya Arulpragasam

    36. Musician John Lennon

      (Source: ACLU)

    37. Even if you're a fervent Christian who wants Christianity to become more popular and prosperous in the United States, you ought to support in progressive dedication to the Separation of Church and State guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. The Separation of Church and State has not been a hindrance to the success of religion in the United States. In fact, the history of the USA shows that religion has been successful in the United States because of the Separation of Church and State.

      President James Madison observed this trend in history when he noted, "The number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State." (Source: Americans United For Separation of Church and State)

    38. As leader of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has never been anything but a military dictator. Yet, the Bush Republicans have treated Pervez Musharraf as a close friend of the US government. "President Musharraf is a friend of our country."
      - Bush White House, July 21, 2004

      "Pakistan is a key ally in the war on terror."
      - George W. Bush, February 22, 2006

      Pervez Musharraf is "a strong defender of freedom and the people of Pakistan"
      - George W. Bush, September 22, 2006

      This "friend" and "ally" of the Bush Administration has now declared a state of emergency based on the threat of courts that interfere with his power. He has had lawyers clubbed and sprayed with tear gas for doing nothing more than trying to go to work and ensure that the law is followed. Americans are fond of insulting lawyers, but we can see in the totalitarian state of Pakistan what a world without lawyers would be like. Hundreds of Pakistanis have been thrown into prison for doing nothing more than criticizing their own government in public. I would say that Musharraf has imposed martial law, except the truth is that Pakistan has been in a state of martial law ever since Musharraf grabbed power for himself in a military coup d'etat back in 1999.

      Referring to problems with Pakistan, George W. Bush once said, "Friends don't sit there and have a score card that says, well, he did this, or he did that." Bush thought that he was being gracious when he said that, I imagine. It isn't gracious, however, to sit by and watch without doing anything while a friend becomes abusive and inflicts terror in other people's lives. Pakistan has been that kind of abusive friend, but George W. Bush has acted for years as if there isn't any problem.

      Some people are saying that it's just not fair to judge George W. Bush for his allegiance with Pervez Musharraf. How could Bush have known, they ask, that Musharraf would turn out to be a terrible dictator?

      It's true that Bush had ignorance on his side, at first. During the 2000 election, a reporter asked Bush if he even knew the name of the leader of Pakistan, and Bush didn't know what to say.

      That initial ignorance could not have lasted for long after Bush's arrival at the White House, however, and it cannot be said that Bush's Cabinet members were ignorant of the conditions in Pakistan. Pakistan has been an anti-democratic military dictatorship for the entire time that George W. Bush has occupied the Oval Office. This isn't the first time that Musharraf's promises to restore democracy in Pakistan have been broken.

      Bush and his Republican allies have coddled the dictator of Pakistan, even as he thwarted democracy, and even as that dictator has pursued to expand his arsenal of nuclear weapons.

      There is no excuse for Bush's long years of ignorance about Pakistan and Pervez Musharraf. In 2008, we need to elect a President who bases American foreign policy on a rigorous study of the facts, not on hunches about the personal character of foreign leaders. (Sources: Fact Sheet: Progress in the War on Terror, July 21, 2004; White House, February, 22, 2006; White House, September 22, 2006; White House, December 4, 2004; The Guardian, November 5, 2007)

    39. Right wingers like to talk about traditions, assuming that what has been traditional must support what they want to do. Sadly, they have forgotten the American tradition of preserving liberty in spite of all threats. After our nation was attacked for one morning of one day, the right wing couldn't move fast enough to wreck America's freedoms in the name of security, starting with the Patriot Act and moving quickly on from there until the Bill of Rights was full of holes wide enough for any tyrant to glide through with ease.

      One of America's true patriots, Sam Adams, had harsh words for that kind of cowardice: "The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards."

      Sam Adams didn't say that the liberties of our country, based on our Constitution, are worth defending unless we get scared, or unless a hazard seems particularly troublesome. He said that the liberties of our country are worth defending against all hazards.

      What part of all hazards does the right wing not understand? It's progressives who truly honor the American tradition of liberty. Right wingers disrespect the tradition with their trembling Homeland Security.

    40. I know that it's not fashionable in America these days to say anything nice about the French. Republican web sites are still promoting bumper stickers that advocate the bombing of France by the American military, as a matter of fact.

      However, it's a simple matter of history that the American people owe a large debt of gratitude to the people of France. It is, after all, the French who presented the Statue of Liberty to the American people as a gift. Even though (and perhaps especially because) George W. Bush has used the War of Terror as a pretext to refuse Americans the right to enter the famous landmark, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of how people can work across international borders, and even across oceans, in the name of liberty.

      Our debt to France goes back further than that, however. Who could forget the way that the Marquis De Lafayette came to the American colonies to support our fight for independence? Well, apparently, the Republicans can, but that's not the point. The point is that the French helped us Americans gain our very nationhood, not to mention our liberty.

    41. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, attempting to convince America's political leaders to start work in earnest combatting the rapidly worsening crisis of climate change, has quoted Niccolo Machiavelli's advice from The Prince:

      "The Romans did in these instances what all prudent princes ought to do, who have to regard not only present troubles, but also future ones, for which they must prepare with every energy, because, when foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they approach, the medicine is no longer in time because the malady has become incurable; for it happens in this, as the physicians say it happens in hectic fever, that in the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time, not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult to cure. Thus it happens in affairs of state, for when the evils that arise have been foreseen (which it is only given to a wise man to see), they can be quickly redressed, but when, through not having been foreseen, they have been permitted to grow in a way that every one can see them, there is no longer a remedy."

      Progressives have sought to follow Machiavelli's advice, to look ahead in time to solve the problem of global warming before it reached the level of crisis. Thanks to the right wing's refusal to allow any action, it's now too late for that kind of prevention. We can, however, still look ahead to the crisis as it will be if inaction continues. Though any climate action we take now will be much more difficult than it would have been 20 years ago, it remains much easier than it would be if action began 20 years from now.

      Our place in history is relative, and so Machiavelli's advice still holds true. In 2008, vote for the candidate who looks ahead. Vote progressive. (Source: The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, November, 2007)

    42. The connection between the liberty of the citizen and the fertility of the soil is not a new idea that progressives have just come to lately. For generations, progressives have sought to conserve the soil of the United States of America, and protect it from pollution, recognizing the soil as the literal and figurative foundation of society, and the liberty which natural prosperity enables. Back in the early 20th century, W. C. Lowdermilk, assistant chief of the U. S. Soil Conservation Service, explained, "If the soil is destroyed, then our liberty of action and choice are gone." Lowdermilk's vision remains active in progressive politics today, in the continued emphasis on sustainable agriculture and economic development. (Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service)

    43. Today, most people regard Congress as a place of representative government, where relatively small districts are given a voice on the national scale. There is another aspect to the history of Congress, however, that is downright anti-representative: Slave labor was used in the construction of the Capitol Building that now houses the Congress of the United States of America.

      There is nothing in the Capitol Building that acknowledges the ugly history of the building's creation. Some members of Congress are seeking to remedy that problem. In January 2007, H.R. 47 was introduced to the House of Representatives by Representative G.K. Butterfield. H.R. 47 would establish an exhibit within the Capitol Building in acknowledgment of the use of slave labor in the construction of the building.

      As of now, not one of the four members of the House of Representatives has signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation. Duncan Hunter, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo haven't made it their business to show support for the bill.

      I think that's a shameful display of apathy to make at the beginning of the 2008 presidential election season. True progressives want to acknowledge all of American history, the good and the bad, including the tainting of our democracy with the exploitation of slaves. If we can't find Republican or Democratic candidates who will stand with us on this matter, we'll look elsewhere. (Source: Associated Press, November 8, 2007)

    44. This historical testimony against the form of torture known as waterboarding was provided by Erik Lomax, a soldier who was captured and waterboarded by the Japanese:

      "A bench had been placed out in the open. I was told by the interpreter to lie down on it, and I lay on my front to protect my bandaged arms by wrapping them under the seat. But the NCO quickly hauled me upright again and made me lie on my back while he tied me to the bench with a rope& . The NCO suddenly stopped hitting me. He went off to the side and I saw him coming back holding a hosepipe dribbling with water& . He directed the full flow of the now gushing pipe onto my nostrils and mouth at a distance of only a few inches. Water poured down my windpipe and throat and filled my lungs and stomach. The torrent was unimaginably choking. This is the sensation of drowning, on dry land, on a hot dry afternoon. Your humanity bursts from within you as you gag and choke. I tried very hard to will unconsciousness, but no relief came."

      Honor the testimony offered by Erik Lomax, and end the use of this torture technique by the government of the United States of America. Elect a progressive President in 2008 who will pledge to end all torture. (Source: Sacred Pain and the Phenomenal Self, Harvard Theological Review, October, 1998)

    45. Back during the war of the American Revolution, the British developed a plan for victory. They would start with the colonies that where support for the insurgency was relatively weak, secure those colonies, pass off control of them to British loyalists, and then move on to take care of rest of the rebellion.

      That ought to sound familiar. It's the same plan that the Republicans have for the war in Iraq. Using the same plan for victory that the British used to win the American Revolution should not be a source of confidence.

    46. In 2006, for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that less than a majority of Americans reported a "very favorable" opinion of the United States. While a little pride is helpful, a little questioning and self-criticism doesn't hurt, either. The United States of America has many things to be proud of. It also has a lot of problems and more than a few things to be ashamed of. As Americans begin to look at their own country more realistically, we need a leader who is willing to see our country in shades of gray as well. (Source: Pew Global Attitudes Project, June 13 2006)

    47. Even Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise knew better than to keep an orange alert going for six years straight.

    48. Under the regime of Homeland Security, right wing claims about the threat of terrorism from Al Quaeda have reached absurd proportions. Consider the statement below by Michael McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence. As the Director of National Intelligence, McConnell is one of only two people who have the power to supervise gigantic electronic spying programs being used against the American people.

      How can McConnell justify spying against the private communications and financial transactions of the American people en masse? McConnell claims that it's all to protect us from one of the greatest threats ever known: Al Quaeda. McConnell says, "Today, we face some of the greatest threats that any generation will ever know, and we must not be slow in confronting them."

      Is it true? Is Al Quaeda really one of "the greatest threats that any generation will ever know"?

      Of course it isn't true. Consider the hordes of Genghis Khan, which laid waste to entire cities and conquered territories measuring in thousands of miles. Consider American slavery, which consumed millions of lives. Consider the Southern secession, which led to a war that killed at least 600,000 Americans in just four years. Consider Nazi Germany. Consider the Soviet Union, which aimed tens of thousands of nuclear missiles at the United States.

      All Al Queda has been able to do is kill a few thousand people, and get a lot of attention, thanks to hyperventilating in the right wing media. Al Quaeda is not one of the greatest threats that any generation will ever know. It isn't even close.

      In the historical perspective, Al Quaeda is a pipsqueak. Michael McConnell and his right wing enthusiasts for big government power to spy against Americans have forgotten that.

      Massive government spy networks have not been necessary to defeat much larger foes than Al Quaeda. Massive government spy networks are not necessary now. (Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence)

    49. Progressives honor the importance of the true American home land: The soil underneath our feet. The right wing dismisses soil conservation as a modern extravagance. We progressives have a deeper ear for history listen to the wisdom of two of our American presidents who described the importance of the earth long ago:

      "The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

      "While the farmer holds the title to the land, actually it belongs to all the people because civilization itself rests upon the soil." - Thomas Jefferson

      (Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service)

    50. Through the Military Commissions Act, right wing Democrats and Republicans in Congress have helped George W. Bush revoke the writ of habeas corpus, which requires governments to provide specific information about the reason that prisoners are being held. Habeas corpus is an essential tool in the prevention of arbitrary imprisonment.

      What would America's founding fathers think of the Military Commission Act's removal of this protection? Alexander Hamilton certainly wouldn't have approved of it. In the Federalist Papers, Hamilton wrote that "arbitrary imprisonments have been in all ages the favourite and most formidable instruments of tyranny." (Source: Federalist Papers, Number 84)

    51. In a "Republican Dictionary" published by The Nation, the phrase "checks and balances" is redefined as "An antiquated concept of the Founding Fathers that impedes autocratic efficiency.".

      It's a fake dictionary, and yet, all too true. (Source: AlterNet, February 12, 2005)

    52. The second inaugural address of George Washington was the shortest in history - just two paragraphs long. In that address, however, President Washington made an essential point: If he failed to uphold the Constitution, he should be made subject to it, and to the censure of the Congress.

      Washington said, "Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony."

      How sad it is that President George W. under whom America currently suffers can make no such commitment, but tells us that if he has committed a crime as President, it's none of our business. Unlike his predecessor, President George W. Bush regards his criminal activities as valuable state secrets, not grounds for impeachment. (Source: Inaugural Address, George Washington, March 4, 1793)

    53. In the 1969 case of Stanley v. Georgia, Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall wrote the court's opinion regarding a man in Georgia who had been arrested for possessing what the government called an "obscene" film in his home. In that opinion, Marshall wrote:
      Whatever may be the justifications for other statutes regulating obscenity, we do not think they reach into the privacy of one's own home. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds.

      And yet, in the face of these traditional notions of individual liberty, Georgia asserts the right to protect the individual's mind from the effects of obscenity. We are not certain that this argument amounts to anything more than the assertion that the State has the right to control the moral content of a person's thoughts.

      In writing his opinion, Thurgood Marshall took the progressive stance in defending freedom of thought, while the state of Georgia took the authoritarian position that it is indeed the government's business what do you think to yourself, even in the privacy of your own home. Thurgood Marshall is not alive to defend liberty in America any longer, and he has been replaced on the Supreme Court by authoritarians who would reverse the decision of Stanley v. Georgia, this time in Georgia's favor. Now it is up to you to defend freedom of thought. In the next election, vote for the candidate who believes that mind control is not and should not be the business of government.

    54. If you think the sort of skyrocketing income inequality experienced by the United States under George W. Bush is sustainable, think back in history to the presidencies of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. The share of all income gained by the top 10 percent and the top 1 percent is the greatest in U.S. history since the years of 1928 and 1929. What happened after 1928 and 1929?

      Think hard now. It will leave you feeling depressed. (Source: New York Times December 15 2007)

    55. As we think ahead to the presidential election of 2008, it does us well to think back to one of the low points of the 2004 presidential election. The Club For Growth paid a couple of actors to pretend that they were authentic, upset voters telling latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, New-York-Times-reading, Howard Dean to go back to Vermont, where he belongs. The advertisement was supposed to demonstrate just how out-of-touch with America Howard Dean was. The Club For Growth's alternative, who was supposed to be in touch with the pulse of America: George W. Bush.

      That's really how the right wing sees things, though. As the right wing sees it, the big problems aren't whether you break the law, trash the Constitution and lead America into unnecessary wars. The big problems with America, they say, are that too many people drink latte and read the New York Times.

    56. "A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt… If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake."

      Thomas Jefferson sent these words in a letter he wrote in 1798, just after the passage of the Sedition Act, which made speaking out against the government a crime. In our time, we're facing the the Patriot Act, which enables the government to send out spies to invade the private lives of ordinary, law-abiding Americans who have done nothing more than to speak out against the government.

      Different century, same idea. The 2008 presidential election is our opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost.

      These are not easy times for Americans who believe in freedom. However, we must persevere in our efforts to resist the nationalist totalitarian agenda of the Republican leadership. Activism that is only active when action is easy has little effect.

      These times of repression and fear will end, but only when the American people force their conclusion through massive, nonviolent, persistent resistance. We must continue to speak, to organize, and to act in defense of American freedom, although the weight of Republican power is pressed against us.

      Future generations will look back to this time, and they will ask how people could have allowed their government to take away their freedoms. In just a few years' time, my grandchildren will ask me what I did to stand up to President Bush's attacks on freedom. American progressives must get back on their feet and act now - so that we will not be put to shame by the questions of tomorrow's generation.

    57. You know, it galls me when I hear stories about Ambassador Joseph Wilson writing an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times after the war began, an op-ed piece exposing the fraud of the claim about Iraq getting uranium from Niger. It doesn't gall me because the Bush administration subsequently targeted Joseph Wilson for personal destruction for the sin of embarrassing the White House. That irks me, yes, but it's not what really galls me. No, what really galls me is that in the media and in the popular mind, Ambassador Wilson's Op-Ed piece in the summer of 2003 marks the date on which Bush's claim regarding Iraq, Niger and Uranium was debunked.

      Hogwash. Bush's critical assertion about Iraq and WMDs had already been debunked before the war began.

      The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on March 7 2003, before George W. Bush's war began, that read as follows:

      The IAEA has made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in recent years. The investigation was centred on documents provided by a number of States that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001.

      The IAEA has discussed these reports with the Governments of Iraq and Niger, both of which have denied that any such activity took place. For its part, Iraq has provided the IAEA with a comprehensive explanation of its relations with Niger, and has described a visit by an Iraqi official to a number of African countries, including Niger, in February 1999, which Iraq thought might have given rise to the reports. The IAEA was also able to review correspondence coming from various bodies of the Government of Niger, and to compare the form, format, contents and signatures of that correspondence with those of the alleged procurement-related documentation.

      Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents - which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger - are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded. However, we will continue to follow up any additional evidence, if it emerges, relevant to efforts by Iraq to illicitly import nuclear materials.

      There you have it. And yet George W. Bush not only went ahead to his unnecessary war of choice, but the American people followed him, even though this information was available to all looking for it. We know that George W. Bush is a war-o-holic. But what about the rest of us? Are we sheep? Perhaps so. That would make it all the more important for us to find a wise and attentive shepherd in 2008. (Source: The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq: An Update, March 7, 2003)

    58. In the typical biographies of President Thomas Jefferson, there is one text that is often neglected: His Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom that he wrote back 1786. It reads:
      "Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."

      These days, so-called fundamentalists seem to have forgotten what the true fundamentals of American freedom are. Right wing religious zealots love to claim that the Founding Fathers never intended for there to be any separation of Church and State.

      The Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom shows that the fundamentalists' claims are nothing more than crass historical revisionism. Jefferson wrote this statute for the legislature of his home state of Virginia, and thus it is a direct example of Jefferson's vision for the new America government.

      In his statute, Jefferson writes that the government cannot compel any participation in or support for any religious place, ministry, or kind of worship. He also writes that opinions about religion should not play a part in public life, either to restrain or enhance a public official's civil capacities. In other words, an individual can state any opinon about religion, but that statement of opinion must not be used as a criterion for promotion or demotion within the government.

      It's significant that, in this statute, Thomas Jefferson does not restrict protection merely to expressions of religion, but also to expressions about religion. Thus, in Jefferson's view, it is not just the freedom to practice a religion of one's choice that must be protected, but also the freedom to reject religion.

      The statement of Jefferson in this statute is clear: Government shall have no role in either restricting or promoting religion. When it comes to religion, Thomas Jefferson believed that government ought to simply butt out, and let opinions about religion remain private. "Faith-based" (meaning religion-based) government activities are forbidden by Jefferson's Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom, and Jefferson would not have supported them for a moment.

      Of course, the Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom applies to Virginia alone. However, the concepts of the statute are echoed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and that applies everywhere that the American government has jurisdiction.

      In both the Bill of Rights and in the Virginia legislature, Thomas Jefferson supported the separation of Church and State, and to suggest otherwise is ignorant nonsense. The efforts of the Republicans in the White House and Congress to mix religion and government, and place the mighty force of taxpayers' support behind conservative religious organizations is not only ignorant nonsense, it is a cruel betrayal of the principles of freedom for which the Founding Fathers fought.

    59. There's a whole lot of hooey in President Bush's Social Security schemes, enough to fill a hefty book in the fantasy fiction aisle of your local library. A particular oddity is Bush's claim that the only reason that he has proposing his scheme of diverting public money into private Wall Street investment firms is that the Social Security system is in a crisis, and will "go bust very very soon if we don't do something now. If this reasoning was genuine, then one should find that Bush opposed any changes to the Social Security system until the supposed "crisis" appeared. According to an article published by the New York Times this weekend, the exact opposite is true. It turns out that George W. Bush has been attacking Social Security as long as he has had a political career.

      Way back in 1978, when men wore plaid pants and Jimmy Carter was still a fresh face in the White House, George W. Bush was running for a seat in the U.S. Congress, and trying to promote his candidacy by telling people that Social Security was in a crisis. At a country club meeting in the summer of 1978 Dubya "will be bust in 10 years unless there are some changes."

      Yes, that's right: 27 years ago, Gee W. Bush was telling people that there was a Social Security crisis, and that Social Security would go bust in 1988. In 1988, Bill Cosby was wearing colorful sweaters as Dr. Huxtable on TV. People were singing "Don't Worry Be Happy". There had been no changes to the Social Security system to save it in the ten years since Bush predicted it would go bust, but miracle of miracles, Social Security was doing just great.

      Some people might liken President Bush to Chicken Little - a good comparison. I think a more apt description is of George W. Bush as a tent revival preacher, roving the countryside and proclaiming that the End Times are upon us, and we all must repent, repent, repent, and give a portion of our Social Security retirement money to big Wall Street financial companies so that they can make a good profit from public money. For almost thirty years, Bush has been preaching that the Social Security End Times are gonna come real soon, and we all need to watch out. It doesn't matter that the End Times never ever come when Bush says they will. He still gets big audiences full of ordinary folks who are eager to fork over their money every time he says BOO.

      To the Americans who have a penchant for believing in Bush's End Times sermons, I say this: If you want to trust your money to a scheme developed by a man who has been making wrong financial predictions over a period of four decades, that's your business. Just don't ask the rest of us to sacrifice the Social Security system we rely on in times of crisis. Social Security works, and it's worth defending from hucksters like Mr. Bush. Keep your surefire snake oil to yourselves, please.

    60. We may think we live in modern times, but the U.S. Constitution still does not guarantee that individual rights shall apply equally to men and women. Without such a constitutional guarantee, all it could take is a rogue judge or an emboldened conservative Congress to take women's rights away by a simple majority vote. On the other hand, this nation is still encumbered with unfair legal notions that, all other things being equal, give mothers custody advantages over fathers. The current state of unequal protection is unfair to both women and men, and devalues our common underlying humanity.

      There is no Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution, and it's high time that there is one. The Republicans, however, only seem to be promoting constitutional amendments to make things more unequal in America, pushing ideas like outlawing equal marriage rights. The 2008 presidential election therefore becomes a test of political philosophy - do you believe in equality, or do you believe in special rights for privileged elites?

    61. Mike Huckabee recently suggested that if gay marriage is allowed to be passed into law, then American civilization will collapse. Huckabee said, "There's never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived. So there is a sense in which, you know, it's one thing to say if people want to live a different way, that's their business."

      There's a simple test of that, of course. Uruguay, which is in the Americas, has rewritten what marriage and family means, by offering civil partnerships to homosexual couples, when it used to be just heterosexual couples that were allowed to be married. So far, the people of Uruguay have survived, although Hugo Chavez did arrive in Uruguay on the same day that the civil unions were approved. Coincidence?

      Historically, though, is Mike Huckabee correct? Have civilizations truly been destroyed in the past when their definition of marriage changed?

      Well, I did find one example of such a thing, though I don't think it's what Mike Huckabee had in mind. There are no Arawaks remaining alive. They were the native inhabitants of the islands first discovered by Christopher Columbus.

      According to chronicler Bartolome De Las Casas, the Arawaks, before Christopher Columbus landed, had no notion of marriage. He wrote, "Marriage laws are non-existent: Men and women alike choose their mates and leave them as they please, without offense, jealousy or anger."

      Then, Christopher Columbus came along and tried to redefine marriage. He tried to force the Arawaks to comply with the Christian definition of marriage: One man and one woman, tied together forever under the force of law.

      What happened to the Arawaks? Their civilization was destroyed.

      What do you think? Does that prove Mike Huckabee's point? (Sources: Reuters, December 18, 2007; GC, December, 2007; Voice of America, December 19, 2007; Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States)

    62. Before you vote in 2008, explore the history of how the Nazis came to power in Germany. What many people forget is that Adolph Hitler was elected by the German people, who loved the Nazi hard-line anti-Communism, focus on security, and patriotic nationalist rhetoric. The democratic election of a national leader does not guarantee protection against fanaticism.

      Hitler's Nazis were accused of torturing prisoners, just as the Bush Admistration has been accused of setting a policy of torture of prisoners in American military centers installed around the world. Consider the following justification for torture:

      "This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centers, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed… were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies, and men who laid violent hands on the detainees."

      This justification for torture is strikingly similar to the protestations by Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush that the American guards who torture prisoners are just "a few bad apples". However, the words were spoken by Rudolf Hoess, Commander of the dreaded Nazi SS guards.

    63. Stephen Colbert famously mocked the right wing's trouble sticking to the truth in its assertions by claiming that actual truth could be replaced with "truthiness". Mitt Romney has given a great real-world example of the right wing's use of truthiness, with his claims that he and his father, George Romney, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

      The lie started back in 1978, when Mitt Romney claimed, in an interview with the Boston Herald, "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit." The lie continued from there, right up until the present, with Mitt Romney's campaign for President. In his big speech on mixing religion and politics, Mitt Romney asserted again that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. He repeated his claim on the NBC Sunday news show Meet the Press.

      The trouble is that the historical facts show quite clearly that neither George Romney nor Mitt Romney ever marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Confronted with the evidence, the Mitt Romney for President campaign acknowledged that Mitt Romney's claims had not been accurate.

      Still, Mitt Romney is refusing to admit that he had done anything wrong in claiming to have seen his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Romney said that he saw it all, just in a figurative sense, not in a literal sense. "If you look at the literature, if you look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of in the sense I've described… It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort," Romney said.

      See, so when Mitt Romney said he saw his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King, it didn't mean that he actually saw it. Mitt Romney wasn't telling the truth. He was telling the truthiness.

      Mitt Romney can make all the slippery linguistic arguments he wants about his claims to have seen his father march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but no such assertions can be made about Mitt Romney's claim to have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself. There is no sense of the definition of the word 'march' which includes not marching, but thinking about marching.

      So, the Mitt Romney for President spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, issued the following short admission that Mitt Romney had lied: "Mitt Romney did not march with Martin Luther King." On that part of Mitt Romney's self-mythology, there wasn't even any truthiness. (Source: Boston Globe, December 21, 2007)

    64. The historical track of descent brought to us by the right wing government under President George W. Bush is marked by a poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News asking people whether they believe that America is on the right track or the wrong track. In January 2001, the first month of George W. Bush's presidency, 45 percent of Americans believed that their country was on the right track. Think that's bad? Fewer than half that many now believe that America is on the right track. The same poll, conducted in December, 2007, found that only 22 percent of Americans think that their country is on the right track.

      The dramatic decline in that poll is confirmed by a separate poll conducted by Gallup, asking Americans whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the way that things are going in the United States, found that though 56 percent of Americans were satisfied with how things were going in the United States in the first month of George W. Bush's presidency, only 27 percent of Americans feel that way now, in December 2007. (Source: PollingReport.com)

    65. The lowering in positive feelings during the presidency of George W. Bush might have been due to a growth in uncertainty. It could have been the case that many Americans rushed to an undecided position. However, the two polls show that there has been a large growth in negative feelings about the course of the USA during the Bush presidency.

      The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that the rate of Americans expressing the feeling that America is on the wrong track rose from 36 percent in January, 2001 to 63 percent in December, 2007. The Gallup poll found that the rate of Americans feeling dissatisfied with how things are going in the United States rose from 41 percent in January, 2001 to 70 percent in December, 2007. (Source: PollingReport.com)

    66. Those who discount the immense government power assembled under the Bush regime of Homeland Security ignore the many times before that powerful people within the U.S. federal government have come close to dissolving the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution in the past.

      A plan developed by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover in 1950 called for the suspension of habeas corpus and the arrest and imprisonment of every one of the people Hoover had placed on a long list of those that Hoover thought were not sufficiently loyal to the government. Almost all of the people on the list were Americans. "The index now contains approximately 12,000 individuals, of which approximately 97% are citizens of the United States," Hoover wrote to President Harry Truman.

      Those who think that the United States is somehow special, so that tyrannical government could never happen here, don't understand how much our liberty depends upon respect for the power of the Constitution, and don't realize how often top government leaders have demonstrated disdain for the Constitution. Our freedom has come close to being destroyed too often for us to sit back and do nothing now that habeas corpus has, in effect, been suspended by the Homeland Security regime. (Source: BBC, December 23, 2007)

    67. For decades, the state of North Carolina made it a policy to sterilize women and girls, often without their knowledge, because they were deemed not worthy to have children. Often, the reason was just a matter of race: The women were African-Americans.

      An example: Elaine Riddick was raped as a girl, and gave birth at the age of 13. The government of North Carolina decided that, because she was a Black girl who had a baby, she must be too stupid to deserve to have any more babies. So, without telling her, they performed surgery on her body to make it impossible for her to have any more children.

      How stupid was Elaine Riddick? Well, she went on to graduate from college in spite of being a single mother. Her son has also achieved a higher education, and is now a successful engineering consultant. It really doesn't seem that there was any inferiority that needed to be kept from breeding in Ms. Riddick - unless, of course, you agree with the North Carolina racists who deemed that she must have been inferior because she was not White.

      The ironic twist is that the very same North Carolinians who supported the policy of forced sterilization of "inferior" women also were those who most strongly supported keeping abortion illegal: Racist, so-called conservative, white activist Christians. Fancy that: They opposed contraception, and opposed abortion, but favored sterilizing Blacks.

      This nasty contradiction that runs through the history of the Bible Belt reveals the ugly truth about the Pro-Life agenda: At heart, it isn't at about the sanctity of anything so much as it is about the sanctity of power. By exerting control over reproduction, right-wing activists seek to control the lives of those they deem as inferior: Gays, non-Whites, women, and poor people. So, they forbid people from getting married unless they get married to people approved of by evangelical Christian churches. They forbid people from using family planning so that they can control when to have children themselves. North Carolina's dark history of forced sterilization is a natural extension of the state's old anti-miscegenation laws. Even now, the Southern Baptists support the idea that God wants wives to submit to the wills of their husbands.

      This all may seem like old news, but the shameful fact is that North Carolina only repealed its pro-sterilization laws in 2002.

      About 7,600 people were sterilized under North Carolina's program, and 3,400 of these people, like Elaine Riddick, still alive. These 3,400 people have never been compensated for the assault on their lives, even though a state commission recommended two years ago that such compensation be allowed. That's something that Democratic state representative Larry Womble is seeking to remedy. He is in the process of writing a bill that would provide financial reparations for those who were forcibly sterilized by North Carolina.

      Pro-Life Republican politicians, true to form, have complained that North Carolina should not have to pay the victims of the state's sterilization programs. Although these politicians are willing to pay for the upkeep of monuments to the Confederacy, they are say that North Carolina just doesn't have the money to help the people it performed unauthorized and medically unnecessary surgeries upon.

    68. In 2005, the U.S. Senate voted on S. Res. 39, a bill that simply apologizes "to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation." That's pretty straightforward, no?

      Unfortunately, support for the bill was not as straightforward as it should have been. Some Republican senators refused to co-sponsor the legislation, afraid to offend those voters who still don't think lynching was such a big deal. (Source: Library of Congress)

    69. It's become clear that the Bush Administration will do anything to avoid taking responsibility for its helter skelter conspiracy to start a war with Iraq, as revealed in leaked documents from the British government (Read the Downing Street Memo and the Cabinet Office Briefing Paper of July 23, 2002.) However, no one could have predicted how bizarre the excuses concocted by the Bush Administration as it scrambles to deal with these documents would become.

      For example, just as the Bush Administration ran out of excuses for its immense and deadly failure in Iraq, the Cabinet Office Briefing Paper was revealed to the world, showing that Tony Blair's top ministers agreed, less than a year before the war began, that George W. Bush had no real plan for how to stabilize Iraq after invading it and establishing an American occupation. The paper declared that in April 2002, "The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it."

      This statement is strong evidence that the Bush Administration was so hurried in its rush to war that it didn't really stop to consider how to secure the peace after its invasion. After all, the British government was the Bush Administration's closest partner in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Tony Blair put British soldiers on the line in Iraq. If Tony Blair's government never saw any American planning for the aftermath of the invasion, we can be pretty sure that no such planning existed.

      The Bush Administration's lack of planning has resulted in the deaths of over 1,700 Americans. That's worse than an embarassment. It's a betrayal of the public trust.

      So what's the best defense that the Bush Administration can come up with in response to the clear evidence of the negligence of Bush as Commander-In-Chief? Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews today, sputtered that "I would never claim that the exact nature of this insurgency was understood at the time that we went to war."

      Condoleeza Rice would not claim that the exact nature of the Iraqi insurgency was understood by the Bush Administration when it dragged America to war in Iraq? Well, that's because there was no insurgency in Iraq before the American invasion created it, Secretary Rice!

      Furthermore, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and all the other insiders in the Bush White House who pushed and pushed to start a war with Iraq spent the months before the American invasion began insisting that there would never be an insurgency. Bush Administration officials told us that American soldiers would be greeted with flowers in the streets. They told us that the Iraqis would be so thankful for the American invasion that their new government would vote to send billions of dollars in cash to the American government to cover the costs of the war.

      The Bush Administration was not just sloppy in planning for the Iraq War. The top officials of the Bush Administration were downright delusional.

    70. When I was a kid growing up in Hilton, NY, I was a real sucker. There was this kid (I'll call him Andy A.), who used to hit me on the head, burp in my face and stuff like that. Don't fret; this is not a woe-is-me story, most kids get picked on… I'm getting to the point. The thing is that every once in a while, at well-placed irregular intervals, this Andy kid would play nice. He'd sidle up to me and say, "Hey, big guy. How ya doing? No, really! Nice day, huh? Hey, you know what? I don't have a pencil. Could I borrow yours? I'd really appreciate it. No, seriously. Hey, thanks. I just need it for a second. I'll be right back!" Then he'd take the pencil across the room, get his droogies' attention, point at me, smirk, then snap the pencil in two and go on his merry way.

      I've grown up and long since moved past these incidents in an emotional sense, and I'm sure that whoever he is now Antonucci has as well, but I think it's informative to examine in a more detached sense. What was my problem with this Andy kid? My problem was that I did exactly what he wanted me to do: I reacted to him and fed him the emotional reaction he needed by getting visibly upset by his antics. I won't guess what his specific emotional needs were in this regard, but it's pretty clear I filled them. So he came back again and again to get his fix. I couldn't at the time detect his bullshit, so I'd follow his script again and again.

      I'd like to think my bullshit detector is a bit more refined these decades later. We have the Republicans in Congress trying to get the USA Patriot Act extended, even though they promised its provisions would expire later this year. These GOP politicians are swearing up and down that, although, golly gee, the provisions of the USA Patriot Act allow for the curtailment of civil liberties and the intrusion of Big Brother government into the most personal aspects of our lives, they aren't actually going to curtail your civil liberties; they aren't going to snoop into your personal life. No, no, the Republicans insist, they are going to be judicious, careful, virtous executors of the Patriot Act; the only people who will be harmed are the bad guys. The evil ones. The dead-enders. The traitors. The terrorists. Not you, ha ha ha, no, not you!

      Trust us.

      We'll be good, the Republicans say. You just run along now and don't worry your pretty little head none. We'll take care of everything.

      Trust us.

      When the Republicans trot this line out, they depend on you to be a Class A sucker.

      After all, if you paid attention, you'd know what happens when you go ahead and trust George W. Bush and the Republicans. When you give Bush and the Republicans the green light, they: - take us to war on false pretenses
      - fire staffers who tell the truth
      - identify CIA agents by name on petty vendettas
      - kick out ticket holders at public events because they wear a Democratic Party affiliation
      - kick out ticket holders at public events because their car has a critical bumper sticker
      - arrest peaceful protesters for moving out beyond the fences of the protest pens
      - place noncitizens in indefinite detention without charges or access to a lawyer
      - place citizens in indefinite detention without charges or access to a lawyer
      - classify embarassing documents having nothing to do with national security

      This is history, friend. Recent history. If you're a political grownup, and not a political kid, you know you can't trust the Republicans because when you did it before, they let you down. Again. and Again. and Again. and Again. and Again.

      If you're a grownup about this, it shouldn't be hard to guess that the Republicans' aren't interested in what they say they're interested in. All this Patriot Act business isn't really about patriots and isn't really about terrorists. It's about some deep, secret emotional vacuum of fear and vulnerability inside the Republican Party that Republican politicians have made a career out of filling with hatred, enmity and repression.

      So now you're holding the metaphoric pencil. You know what the bullies did the last time they asked for a favor, the last time they asked you to trust them.

    71. Vote progressive in memory of September 10, 2002, when the Department of Homeland Security declared an Orange Alert, creating hysteria about the possibility of a terrorist attack on American soil when no specific threats were mentioned. But, you see, it was the anniversary of the attacks of September 11 2001, so apparently some sort of commemoration was called for. No attacks occurred. (Source: CNN September 10, 2002)

    72. Vote progressive in memory of February 7, 2003, when the Department of Homeland Security declared an Orange Alert with the claim that terrorists would be getting ready to bomb "apartment buildings, hotels and other soft or lightly secured targets in the United States." No such thing happened. But the American people DID get their fear ratcheted up in time to wave the flag for another war. (Source: PBS Newshour February 7, 2003)

    73. Vote progressive in memory of May 20, 2003. May 20, 2003? You may ask what happened on May 20, 2003 that is so worth of remembrance. On May 20, 2003 the Bush Administration ordered that the nation be put on Orange Alert, the second highest level of alarm. The alert was declared even though George W. Bush's aides admitted there was absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that a serious attack was being planned on American soil. No attack occurred. Haven't we had enough of this wasteful, afactual fearmongering? (Source: CNN, May 20 2003)

    74. Vote progressive in memory of December 21, 2003, when the Department of Homeland Security initiated an Orange Alert and started random searches of vehicles by security teams armed with assault rifles, usefully freaking out Americans at the beginning of the 2004 election season with DHS head Tom Ridge asserting "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experienced on September 11." No attacks whatsoever took place. (Source: CNN December 22, 2003)

    75. Vote progressive in memory of August 1, 2004, when the Department of Homeland Security declared an Orange Alert and started searching cars up and down the Eastern Seaboard and snapping photographs of civilians in New York, New Jersey and Washington DC. The claim: Al Qaeda was going to bomb "several specific buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia, Prudential Financial in northern New Jersey and Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York." Of course, no such attacks took place, and no attempts to make such attacks took place. But the American people were freaked out yet again, just a few months before a presidential election. (Source: Washington Post August 1, 2004)

    76. Vote progressive in memory of August 10, 2006, when the Department of Homeland Security raised a Red Alert, freaking Americans out about a terrorist attack using airplanes, an attack that never occurred. (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune August 10, 2006)

    77. Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Mike Huckabee are competing for the support of right wing preacher John Hagee, praising his leadership and commitment in pushing extremist religion into the the public sphere. It's well worth noting, therefore, the way that Hagee proposes we all look at the identity of the American nation.

      Conventional history has it that the United Sates was created as a sovereign nation in 1776 through the American Revolution, and subsequently through the Articles of Confederation, which were succeeded by the American Constitution, which is now the supreme law of the United States of America, defining the parameters of what the USA is.

      That's not how John Hagee sees things, though. According to John Hagee, the United States was born in the year 1607. Hagee took part in the Consecration Conference at Assembly 2007, which declared, "In April of 1607, the Jamestown colony landed in Virginia Beach and planted a cross, birthing a new nation dedicated to God."

      Progressives believe that the United States was born through the American Revolution and the establishment of the Constitution. Right wingers like John Hagee believe that all it took to create the United States was a prayer and a cross planted in the sand.

      If you vote for John McCain and Mike Huckabee in 2008, you're voting for the cross-in-the-sand vision of the birth of America. (Source: People for the American Way, March 22, 2007)