At a time when millions celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and hope for the resolution of international discord and domestic turmoil, our country seems to have lost its way. Our leadership, instead of governing by the rule of reason and law has chosen to let fear and intimidation set the standard by which it seeks public approval for its decisions.
It is more than a little disturbing that there seems to be an upsurge in support for a possible attack on Iranian nuclear sites, using U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. Logic fails when the use of nuclear weaponry to prevent another nation from developing a nuclear capability is, even a nascent consideration, but then logic rarely serves this administration in the missions it undertakes or the social policies it pursues. Worse still, it seems the only way this president and his staff can find a way to bridge the enormous credibility gap they have created is to re-activate that old standby – – the mushroom cloud.
But it isn’t only the prospect of endless war that has created an atmosphere of distrust and agitation here at home; it is also an attitude on the part of this administration and other leaders that disrespects the American people. Well after follow-up intelligence that refuted many of the reasons for invading Iraq, for example, the Vice President appeared on his cherished venue, Fox News, to reiterate just one of many deceptive and unfounded allegations – – that trailers in Iraq had been used for the production of chemical weapons, something that had been disproven months earlier.
And when the talk turns to issues other than war Republicans drift back into the realm of “character” and “values” as if by simply saying those words they will be able to bask in an aura of decency. How else could the U.S. Attorney General manage to twist the Constitution (that instrument said to be sacrosanct among those on the right) in ways that augment the policies and actions of the administration? For example, Article 44, Section 9 of the Constitution states that “Congress must not suspend the writ of habeas corpus except during a rebellion or invasion.” However, the president has claimed the right to do just that in place of Congress and as he sees fit because, of course, we are “at war.”
With respect to our Supreme Court, whose members enjoy a measure of respect reserved only for those appointed to that august body, Antonin Scalia’s unseemly behavior towards those he serves is a disgrace to the court and defies any reasonable understanding of our democracy and values. He is proud, for instance, that he did not recuse himself from a case involving the Vice President’s energy task force despite his hunting trip with Cheney, or what these folks like to call hunting, just prior to passing judgment about the case. He refers to people who disagree with his rulings as “idiots” and makes disrespectful gestures and uses inappropriate language in public. Are the American people really supposed to value this man’s opinions and intellect when he behaves in such an arrogant and low-grade manner?
It is a reasonable expectation that jurists on the highest court in the land should behave in a manner that reflects their high calling. In addition, while they are of course supposed to adjudicate, they should do so without being judgmental or deciding matters according to their religious predilections. For those who insist their preferences rely on a strict reading of the Constitution and deny the efficacy of decisions not founded in that document’s precise wording, reference Amendment IX and the “unenumerated rights of the people” which says “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Conservative justices sometimes deny the relevance of that rather expansive amendment to a variety of issues, but there it is nonetheless.
The country has been mired in confusion about who we are and what we mean when we talk about values and causes. It is time not only to reflect but also to reassert the core values that make us the kind of people we are when we are at our best, and to demand respect from our government and the truth about what is done in our name.

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