Reason, Extremism And The Right To Life

COLUMBIA, South Carolina - - Our intelligence is being insulted by narrow and extreme political partisanship.

Most Americans appreciate the courage and independence of the fourteen members of the U.S. Senate who compromised in the face of a "nuclear" option vote on filibustering judicial nominees that threatened to further erode and destroy the credibility of the Senate. I'm proud of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the fearless fourteen with the determination to defy the party bosses.

Since the compromise was reached, Senator Graham has been castigated for "selling out to the liberals" in letters-to-the-editors in the papers of South Carolina. Because he is an independent thinker who is not limited to partisanship in his decision making, Senator Graham has been the target of hateful, personal attacks by true believers in the right-wing Bush/Cheney/ Rove gospel of political partisanship. The seeds of such mean-spirited political attacks were planted by members of Senator Graham's party. The chickens always come home to roost.

Lee Atwater's take-no-prisoners politics of destruction in South Carolina in the early eighties spread like a cancer through the national Republican Party as he became its chair and poisoned political discourse with Willie Horton ads and such. When I was the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina in 1980, Atwater delighted in telling the media I had been "hooked up to jumper cables" to describe the electro-convulsive shock therapy I received during my struggle with bi-polar disorder as student. Lee also directed push polling to inform white-flight suburbanites that I was a member of the NAACP. Facing death with a brain tumor, Lee later apologized--- personally and publicly. The same sort of meanness, destructiveness and deception now permeates politics and U.S. policy at home and abroad.

A recent New York Times editorial accused the Bush administration of facilitating prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Patterns of Abuse" was published along with articles about the horrifying torture and murders of two Afghans at the Bagram prison by US military personnel. The Times said "what happened at Abu Ghraib was no aberration, but part of a widespread pattern. It showed the tragic impact of the initial decision by Mr. Bush and his top advisers that they were not going to follow the Geneva Conventions, or even American law, for prisoners taken in antiterrorist operations."

Revelations of torture and desecration of Islam's holy book, the Quran have resulted in Amnesty International charging that the Guantanamo Bay detainment center is a "gulag".

More than a year after their son was shot several times by his fellow Army Rangers near the Pakistani border, the family of former NFL player Pat Tillman is furious at the Army. Tillman's parents said the military created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country.

Mary Tillman said, ''The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. He was the ultimate team player and watched his own men kill him. It is absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."

The Army told Tillman's family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill. After Tillman received the Silver Star, the Army told Tillman's family that he had been killed by his own men.

Patrick Tillman, Sr. said. ''They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

The Bush Administration also lied by alleging Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was connected to the 9/11 attacks to justify the invasion of Iraq. Recent elections in Britain revealed a "smoking gun" memo stating that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy."

Our soldiers are giving their lives in Iraq because of the lies of politicians. Our military heroes have the right to life. We must bring them home soon and safely.

A new report on global military spending reveals that the U.S. has allocated $238 billion to the War on Terror since 2003 in addition to our regular defense spending.

Life sustaining programs at home are being decimated. Medicaid faces deep cuts. It provides health care to over 50 million low-income Americans, including children, disabled and elderly. The assault on Medicaid will end health care for many poor people.

Medicaid, Social Security and other vital social safety-net programs for poor, middle and working class Americans are being curtailed by Tom Delay in Congress, who also led an unsuccessful effort in the House to prevent funding of stem cell research.

Stem cell research could save the lives of millions by curing cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases. Almost every American family has members who could benefit from stem cell research.

Joe Wilson, our Congressman, voted against stem cell research and has voted with Tom DeLay's narrow partisan agenda 95% of the time between Jan. 1, 2004 and March 31, 2005. Wilson has taken $15,000 from DeLay's political action committee. DeLay has been admonished three times for his unethical behavior by the ethics committee, but Wilson still gave DeLay's legal defense fund $5,000.

Congress should prioritize basic needs like health care, education, and housing.

Congress should support the right to life of our citizens who are without job opportunities, who go to bed hungry, if they have a bed, and suffer without adequate health care and affordable drugs. Congress should support the right to life and the hope for a cure for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, and heart disease.

People will support political leaders who honor the right to life. They will support political leaders who are reasonable, respectful and intelligently independent.

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