The Republican debates last week proved beyond a doubt that their party's claims of owning the moral compass of the U.S., if not the entire world, are utterly bankrupt.
The candidates fell all over themselves to appear tough on terrorism and to show themselves willing to use any means necessary to obtain information from terrorists. Of course, no proof is required to label someone a terrorist and hold them indefinitely in legal limbo, which means essentially that they endorse torturing anyone the President feels deserves it.
Torture, they seem to say, is okay if it's done by... well ... US. I guess they believe that since our ends are pure (the belief of nationalists in every country all over the world), the means for getting there don't matter.
Bob Dylan once sarcastically opined, "you don't count the dead when God's on your side." There's no such sarcasm in the Republicans' claims. They're deadly serious. And deadly, period.
Listen: The Constitution of the U.S. guarantees that we are a nation defined by the means and not the ends. A nation of laws and not men. No kings or divine rulers. Only rules. You cannot both violate the law and protect it at the same time. Without this principle we cease to be anything but the biggest dog in the junkyard, with no pretense of morality, integrity, or ethics.
Remember when Republicans were going to restore integrity and honesty to government?
Then of course there is the fact that no military leader anywhere in the armed forces believes torture is effective at anything but getting our own soldiers treated in kind. John McCain pointed out that, during his years as a P.O.W. in Vietnam, he was buoyed by the knowledge that no matter what his interrogators did to him, his own country was far nobler, far more principled than they, and that we would never treat a prisoner the way he was treated.
Exactly why would we assume that today? Our current leadership is a group of thieves, liars, and brutal torturers. The only human life they seem concerned with saving is the Republican voter, the fetus, and of course the poor helpless stem cells.
And Terry Schaivo, of course.
I am a true patriot and proud citizen. But these people have so fouled my beautiful country, its reputation, and its shining achievement -- our Constitution and the representative Democratic government it creates -- that loving America in its current iteration is getting harder every day.
There are many people who I've spoken with who feel the same way I do.
It's ironic. After years of labeling millions of patriotic, informed, voting citizens as traitors for not falling into lockstep with our current leadership, they may finally be succeeding in turning us into genuine enemies of the state.
How can I believe in a bully who won't even play by his own rules?