Sunday, January 08, 2012


Dehumanization occurs primarily as a result of being part of a larger specialized system, with a sense of futility of being able to change the course of that system. A person who cannot face shame, guilt or pain, of what harm the system that he is part of is doing to others, either rationalizes it by perceiving his role as fragmented and refusing to acknowledge responsibility for what the system is doing, and what he is doing as a part of that system, or by viewing those hurt by the system as subhuman and somehow deserving the pain. The major example would be Nazi Germany, where many Germans were "just following orders" (as Adolf Eichmann said) and where the Jews and other minorities, as well as disabled people, were portrayed as less than human and not deserving to live or to be treated with freedom and dignity. Other genocides have also taken place in modern times, usually based on a similar rationale.

A part of dehumanization is blocking out one's emotional feelings of empathy toward others. Sometimes it would seem necessary to do so in order to help others, such as when a doctor performs surgery. In general though, by blocking out such feelings, one not only can become more cruel toward others, but also toward oneself; in that he becomes a more repressed person, less able to share feelings of love or concern for others. Furthermore, in a large world such as ours, it is natural for one to care little about mass tragedies happening elsewhere, yet much more concerned about the trials of one friend, or a pet. The "good German" attitude caused by dehumanization becomes a vicious cycle: as people see their roles as fragmented, they become apathetic and allow those in power to accumulate even more power.

There have been suggestions for minimizing dehumanization. For example, encourage people to exercise more power in the decision-making process. Another example, educate children toward rehumanization and against behavior that might lead to dehumanization. And encourage people to think more in terms of the future, including the long-range future, so they may respond to situations which might lead to dehumanization. In Christian terms, we can each begin with ourselves, acknowledge our guilt and responsibility for our own bad actions, acknowledge our responsibility as part of a larger system, and become less apathetic, with the hope that we can each see ourselves and others as fully human.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Confusing filibusters with majority vote

In her column today conservative pundit Michelle Malkin denounces the recess appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She says:

"The nomination of former Democratic Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to serve as Dodd-Frank regulatory enforcer had been soundly defeated in the Senate before Christmas."

No his nomination was not defeated. A majority of Senators approved his nomination, by a vote of 53 to 45. Constitutionally only a majority approval in the Senate is required for presidential nominations. But there were not enough votes to overcome the filibuster. And Republicans made it clear they do not oppose Richard Cordray himself, they oppose the agency which he now heads. The way to exercise their opposition to an agency set up to protect consumers against financial fraud is to repeal it, which they can do once they gain control of the Senate.

Maybe Democratic members of the Senate should just bring sleeping bags and cots and forget about trying to get a super majority vote for every piece of legislation or presidential nomination opposed by the obstructionist Republicans.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Government must function in a democracy

Republicans in Washington are expressing thier usual fake moral outrage, in this case because of a recess appointment by President Obama of Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As a form of retaliation, it seems the GOP senators may refuse to approve several other nominees for positions involving the regulation of the banking industry.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a legal agency established by the government. Republicans are still a minority in the Senate so the only way they can prevent it from functioning is through the filibuster. As reported, they don't object to the nominee, they object to the agency itself. Perhaps when Republicans regain control of the Senate and White House, they can abolish the agency, as well as other regulatory agencies that protect the American people from predatory practices of corporations. In the meantime, our government still has to function, and if the only way to do so in some cases is through recess appointments, then so be it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Catholic politicians vs. the Vatican

Rick Santorum in his almost victory speech last night, cited his religious faith as applied to his political views. But he fell short. He is a conservative Catholic politician, but unfortunately in his stand on political issues, he places his conservativism, as defined in American terms, above his Catholicism. In this sense he is not that different from liberal Catholic politicians such as Nancy Pelosi or John Kerry. The latter would agree with the Vatican's stand on a wide range of issues, such as protecting the environment, opposition to the death penalty, torture and preemptive wars, opposition in the words of Pope Benedict XVI to the “scandal of glaring inequalities” between rich and poor, and other social injustices. Santorum differs from the Vatican and Catholic bishops on these issues, but shares their stand on abortion and gay marriage. On the other hand, liberal politicians share the view of the Vatican on these issues, while differing with them on abortion and gay marriage.

There does not seem to be any Catholic politician in America, on either side of the political spectrum, who embraces the whole Catholic doctrine, but instead both conservative and liberals Catholics cite those portions of Catholic teachings which support their political positions while ignoring others. The same general principle applies to other Christian politicians. In general, conservative Christians are more faithful in adhering to the original doctrines of Christianity, except when it comes to teachings that address social inequalities and injustices.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Global warming

I am not a scientist, but I respect those in the profession and would defer to the general consensus among scientists who specialize on a particular topic if I have any questions on the matter. In this case, the question is whether or not global warming, or climate change, is taking place. The consensus among climatalogists and meteorologists is yes it is happening. Not everyone in these fields agree, but that is the general consensus. Yet among the conservatives here in America, it has become almost a point of religious doctrine that not only is global warming not happening, but that it is a hoax. If a Republican politician veers from this attitude to recognize scientific findings he is not likely to go far in the party. The most recent case in this respect would seem to be Jon Huntsman.

Do Muslims have rights in America

On a major conservative website,, there are often commentaries on Muslims, usually in the form of demanding that their rights be restricted in America. This is more prevalent among the individuals who join in the comments section (and to be fair, anyone can comment, even me), who take the view that Islam is not a genuine religion and therefore should not enjoy the same rights as other religions in America.

Having studied for many years communist Vietnam and its religious policy, where there is no inalienable right to worship, only the privilege to worship granted by the government to certain recognized religions, I can see the danger of this approach. If out of fear of Muslim terrorists we treat all Muslims as enemies, then to some degree we have already lost the wars, that is the wars we are conducting in Muslim countries, but also the continuing war here in America to preserve our constitutional rights.

We need lawyers in Congress

On Real Time with Bill Maher last night, one of the guests opined that the problem with Congress is that there are too many lawyers. He said that in law school people are taught to argue, and that is all they do in Congress. Truth is, though, that law school is about much more than learning to argue, it teaches students in detail about our laws, and such an understanding is fundamental to those who serve in Congress, since one of the chief functions of Congress is to legislate, i.e. make laws. The problem with our current Congress does not come from lawyers but from ideologues just elected who have little understanding of the law or how our government works, and who, in this case, were willing to bring our country to the brink of defaulting on our national debt in order to make a point. Experience and knowledge are important qualities for those who serve, alongside a strong dose of public service attitude and focusing on what works best for our country and the world.

Will America wake up?

With the stock market plummeting after the debt deal and Standard & Poor downgrading our credit rating, I wonder if Americans will come to realize that the Tea Party fanatics who control the House of Representatives do not represent our best interests, including those of the business community. When our economy goes down, everyone is hurt. And cutting government spending along the drastic lines demanded by the right not only throws tens of thousands of people out of work, and therefore cuts back on domestic consumption, but also cuts back on crucial services that are fundamental to our economy functioning well, including our transportation infrastructure. Only by increasing tax revenue can we get out of this mess, and it should not just be applied to the very rich. Let the Bush tax cuts end for all, so our economy can get back on track. I personally don't mind paying an extra few hundred dollars a year for fiscal solvency of our government.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Are Muslims not part of America?

A question for those who oppose the establishment of a Muslim center two blocks from Ground Zero in New York: Do you oppose the construction of *any* mosque or Muslim center at this particular location, or only this one?

What bothers me about this protest is the implication that Muslims in general should be blamed for the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, even though the actions were those of a handful of terrorists and were condemned by most major Muslim organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Consider the following statement for example, from the American Center for Law and Justice:

"When it comes to an Islamic mosque on the sacred site of Ground Zero, President Obama is out of step with the American people. He has voiced his support for the misguided project — ignoring the views of the majority of the American people and failing to understand the heart of the issue at stake: Building an Islamic mosque at Ground Zero is offensive to thousands of Americans who lost family and loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks."

Notice also the claim that most Americans oppose the mosque. Is not our country based on majority rule and minority rights? A part of minority rights involves the right to freely express one's views and practice one's religion, regardless of how unpopular their beliefs might be. Otherwise, we would become just another dictatorship, where the rulers suppress dissent movements in the name of the people.

Muslims are just as much a part of this country as you or me. Many were among the victims of this terrorist attack, and many have fought in battle for our country. It isn't just a question of their legal rights, but also whether they should be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else in this country.

I believe the protest also sends a message to the Islamic world that we as Americans are the enemy of their religious faith. This may well doom any hopes of succeeding in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Finally there is the matter of anti-Muslim violence such as that which took place against the New York cabbie recently, and which seems to have been stirred up by the overheated rhetoric around this issue. Have any of the vocal opponents of the Muslim center spoke out against such anti-Muslim violence?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Glen Beck vs. Jim Wallis

Last week, I came across Glenn Beck on Fox television denouncing people supposedly intent on overthrowing our government and way of life, i.e. President Obama and his supporters, with a group of photos of supposedly sinister characters displayed behind him as he spoke. To my surprise, one of the individuals displayed was Jim Wallis. I subsequently learned through web surfing that Beck had devoted an entire week to denouncing Wallis, who he described as the spiritual adviser to President Obama.

Beck's attacks on Wallis do not merit a detailed analysis or point-by-point refutation. How can one take him seriously when he says, for example, he had never heard of Dorothy Day before but then goes on to describe her as a Marxist, because she said she once was a Marxist? In fact Day radically changed her views after a religious conversion in the 1920s and became a devout Catholic. With Peter Maurin she founded the Catholic Worker movement. She was a nonviolent and spiritual activist, in some ways, much more threatening to the popularity of the far left than the right-wingers who during her time were trying to suppress even the civil rights movement, as well as basic labor rights which we now take for granted.

The reference to Dorothy Day came in the context of noting a conversation between her and Wallis in which Wallis said he once was a Marxist. I doubt Wallis was ever truly Marxist in his views, but what Beck is missing is the concept of repentance and people growing out of former beliefs. Was not the apostle Paul once the leading persecutor of Christians? In fact, Wallis came of age in the late 1960s as a seminary student, but from a conservative religious background as an evangelical Christian. In the early 1970s he joined with some like minded people to form a community and publish a magazine, first known as Post-American, later Sojourners. By the mid-1970s they had moved to Washington D.C. where they lived in a poor urban community and, like the Catholic Worker movement, agitated for a more equitable society and against U.S. military policies, particularly in Vietnam and Latin America.

At the time I became aware of them in the early 1970s, they gave me some hope, not because I agreed with all their positions, but because they represented an alternative to the tendency within American evangelical Christianity to incorporate a right-wing political ideology within their overall religious worldview.

I had grown up in a liberal Methodist church, and I value many of the things I learned, but I had friends and relatives who described themselves as "born-again" Christians and I could see their faith was very strong and real to them. So at the age of 21, I became a "born-again" Christian too. It was a dramatic change for me and I recall attending a Billy Graham rally where he urged new converts to find a "Bible-believing" church. Over the next several years I attended various churches that were more in tune with my new orientation, and also became involved with a Christian fellowship on campus. But it was frustrating that the churches I attended, as well as the radio broadcasts I heard, seemed to take for granted that to be a good Christian one must essentially be a conservative Republican.

Glen Beck comes on with the style of a charismatic television preacher, although he is himself a convert to Mormonism, after being brought up as a Catholic. In theory, this would make him a heretic, or even an apostate from a conservative Christian perspective, as Mormonism is considered a heresy from this viewpoint. Wallis, on the other hand, does not seem to have questioned any of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. But in the polarized times we live in, politics seems to trump all, and Beck's style of personal attack -- for example, accusing any Christian who advocates social justice or progressive politics of being on the same level as a Nazi or Communist -- seems to go down well with the conservative "tea party" folks to whom he is appealing.

This is not meant as a whole-hearted defense of Wallis and the Sojourners community he leads. When I read their Sojourners magazine back in the 1970s, there were some things that bothered me, primarily that it came across in a very self-righteous style. Also, I recall the magazine, while calling on the U.S. to provide aid and normalize relations with the post-75 government of Vietnam, seemed to overlook the serious repression that was taking place in the country at the time.

That said, I would not place Wallis in the same category as some of the other radicals or former radicals that have come under scrutiny in recent years. Rather, he would seem more like a typical member of the baby boomer generation, or that portion which protested the Vietnam war and agitated for social justice on economic and civil rights issues.

It was because Wallis called on Christians not to watch or listen to Glen Beck that he came under attack from Beck. In this respect, I disagree with Wallis, people should not close off their minds to the views of others with whom they strongly disagree. But Beck acted worse, displaying himself as a petty and vindictive character by responding with a week of personal attacks against Wallis.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What the prosecutor said

William C. Ibershof, lead prosecutor of the Weathermen, in a letter to today's New York Times:

As the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s (I was then chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of Michigan and took over the Weathermen prosecution in 1972), I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers’s terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child.
Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen.
Because Senator Obama recently served on a board of a charitable organization with Mr. Ayers cannot possibly link the senator to acts perpetrated by Mr. Ayers so many years ago.
I do take issue with the statement in your news article that the Weathermen indictment was dismissed because of “prosecutorial misconduct.” It was dismissed because of illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions, initiated by John N. Mitchell, attorney general at that time, and W. Mark Felt, an F.B.I. assistant director.

Bill Ayers vs. stock market crash vs. Alaska Independence Party

And the list goes on. If we play the guilt by association game, while Obama's connections with Bill Ayers seem pretty remote, Sarah Palin's husband belonged to the Alaska Independence Party for seven years, an organization which advocates the secession of Alaska from the United States and has established links with other state secessionist organizations, some of which promote white supremacy. And McCain in the past served on the board of directors of an organization affilited with the radical right wing World Anti-Communist League, described by the Anti-Defamation League as 'a gathering place, a forum, and a point of contact for extremists, racists, and anti-Semites.'

Meanwhile the stock market continues its alarming crash. I would really like to see the candidates spend the remaining weeks addressing this issue, rather than playing the guilt by association game. After all, why would McCain suspend his campaign for a few days to urge Congress to pass the bailout legislation yet ignore the exacerbating economic problems that have taken place since it was passed?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Novelist Elif Shafak to be tried for "Insulting Turkishness"

Novelist Elif Shafak is to be brought to trial in a Turkish court Sept. 21 for "insulting Turkishness", according to a report of PEN American Center. She is the third prominent Turkish novelist to be tried in just over a year. Shafak, who divides her time between Turkey and teaching at the University of Arizona, wrote her novel in English about two families, one in Instanbul and the other an Armenian family living in San Francisco. The offending passage in her book mentions Turkey's genocide against Armenians in the early 20th century. The Turkish version of her book is a bestseller in Turkey.

Kentucky school board nixes banning book

The Warren County School Board of Kentucky voted 3-2 against
banning a book the parent of a Greenwood High School student said was
"full of various types of immorality," according to Bowling Green
Daily News (Kentucky), Aug. 15. Here is an excerpt of the article:

Lee Ann Austin first complained last year about "Flowers for Algernon," by
Daniel Keyes, when it was one of the required books in her son's English

The science fiction book, first published in 1966, focuses on Charlie
Gordon, a 32-year-old man with mental retardation who undergoes surgery
that turns him into a genius. Part of the plot involves the character's
sexualexperiences, which include his having sex with a former teacher,
as well as other women.

Austin objected to the school's inclusion of a book that portrays this, as
well as drug use and profanity...

"Flowers for Algernon" was 47th on the American Library Association's list
of the 100 books most challenged between 1990 and 2000...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ocean acidification threatens marine life

Increasing acidification of the oceans from carbon dioxide emissions could cause mass extinction of marine life, reports Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology

When carbonic acid input is modest, sediments from the ocean floor can buffer the increases in acidity. But at the current rate of input--nearly 50 times the natural background from volcanoes and other sources--this buffering mechanism is overwhelmed. Previous estimates suggest that in less than 100 years, the pH of the oceans could drop by as much as half a unit from its natural value of 8.2 to about 7.7. (On the pH scale, lower numbers are more acidic and higher numbers are more basic.)

This drop in ocean pH would be especially damaging to marine animals such as corals that use calcium carbonate to make their shells. Under normal conditions the ocean is supersaturated with this mineral, making it easy for such creatures to grow. However, a more acidic ocean would more easily dissolve calcium carbonate, putting these species at particular risk.

Bush uses straw man fallacy

President Bush has been employing straw man arguments with increasing frequency as his popularity plummets, reports AP correspondent Jennifer Lovan:

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" - conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stop big oil giveaways

Democrats in Congress will present legislation this week to require oil and gas companies to pay royalties to the federal treasury for drilling on public lands. American Chronicle reports: "taxpayers stand to lose at least $7 billion on oil and gas retrieved from federal lands, according to a report in the New York Times published today." Historically, oil and gas companies have had to pay royalties for drilling on federal lands, but since 1995 they have been exempt from such payments, despite their record earnings.

Seven billion dollars is alot of money, as much as the California state deficit. Another case of big business being allowed to profit off the destruction of our natural resources.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I am back

I apologize for the long delay in posting anything to this blog site. I don't know if anyone still reads it. But I plan to resume posting within the next few days, on issues concerning liberal values.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Remembering my mother

My mother, Mary Denney, passed away last Sunday. She died peacefully, in her sleep at home.

One of my earliest childhood memories of mother was when she taught me the Lord's Prayer as I lay in bed.

She was not one who wore her religion on her sleeve, she did not come across as overly religious or sanctimonius. Instead, she lived her faith in her involvement with this church and in her relationships with others. I remember in my youth she told me how much she liked a book by the psychiatrist Eric Fromm, The Art of Love. The theme of this book was that love is where we find the meaning of our existence. God is love, my mother told me.

Mother took pride in whatever modest accomplishments I made in life. Even when I would thank her for dinner, she would comment on how thoughtful it was of me to thank her for having prepared the meal.

She also sought to expand her own horizons. When I was in high school, she began attending part-time the College of San Mateo, and then onto San Francisco State from where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors. She was a better college student than me.

After college she painted many pictures, and received some awards at local shows. We have many of them on the walls of my parents' home, along with paintings by her brother Richard, some of them are local landscapes, some of them are of people, including my mother's father.

Mother also began travelling around the world in the later years of her life. She went with travel groups to Europe, the Mid-East, China. I think she wanted to see as much of the world as she could before her life ended.

Mother worked hard on compiling a family history on both her and my dad's side. She did alot of research, visited the Mormon archives in Salt Lake City and various places in the midwest. The family history is a few hundred pages in a looseleaf binder, with many old photographs, and quite alot of fascinating detail. She managed to trace her ancestry all the way back to an emperor of Britain at the time of the Roman empire.

She took good care of herself, and looked young for her age. I recall in the early 90s she was told a few times that she looked like Hillary Clinton. And that was very pleasing to her, because she really liked Hillary, who was also someone from the midwest who grew up with strong values from the Methodist church.

The last years of my mother's life were very difficult for both her and my father who worked hard to take good care of her. She suffered from Alzheimer's and related problems. But even then she focused her mind on what was most important to her, her love for her family. Often, while visiting, I would be talking to dad about something and she would suddenly say, "I love William Julian Denney with all my heart, and I love my sons David and Stephen." Sometimes she would ask me about her grandchildren. Actually there were no grandchildren, but she wanted very much to believe that she had grandchildren. Sometimes she would just hold onto my hand for awhile, like when I would go out to the sofa to sit down and she would sit next to me. When it came time for me to go back to Berkeley, I would shake hands with dad, and by then mother would usually be laying down in bed or on the reclining chair, so I would lean over so she could kiss me on the head to say goodbye.

There are probably more stories I could tell about her, but the main thing I recall as her son is the strong love she had for her family, along with her sweet disposition and her caring and thoughtful attitude for other relatives and friends, and people she knew in church.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Durbin and the FBI said

Since he has been denounced so harshly for his statement
on Guantanamo, it might be helpful to read what Illinois
Senator Durbin actually said that provoked the outrage.
The full speech can be found here.

The offending passage:

"..When you read some of the graphic descriptions of
what has occurred here-- I almost hesitate to put them
in the record, and yet they have to be added to this
debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw.
And I quote from his report:

"On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to
find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position
to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times
they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been
left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the
air conditioning had been turned down so far and the
temperature was so cold in the room, left there for 18-24
hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning
had been turned down so far and the temperature was
so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was
shaking with cold....On another occasion, the
[air conditioner] had been turned off, making the
temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees.
The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile
of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling
his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion,
not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely
loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been
since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot
in the fetal position on the tile floor.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was
an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners
in their control, you would most certainly believe this must
have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some
mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for
human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action
of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.."

In response to this, Chris Wallace of FOX news said:

"But what the FBI memo alleges, and it is an allegation,
is, you know, would be considered a day at the beach
in the Soviet gulag or Nazi ... I mean, what was so
horrific in the memo? And I'm not saying, you know, there
aren't legitimate questions there, is that someone is
chained to a floor and forced to defecate on themselves,
and has loud rock music playing. Excuse me? I mean, you know,
Auschwitz? Bergen Belsen? The Soviet gulag? I think
they would have been very happy to be allowed to defecate
on themselves."

I don't know any former prisoners of the Soviet Gulag or of
Nazi concentration camps, but I do know Vietnamese who were
detained in re-education camps that I think can be fairly
compared to the Gulag system, and the treatment described in
the FBI memo is actually a common form of mistreatment of
prisoners in Vietnam -- the shackling of hands and feet in
confined positions and exposure to temperature extremes.

To me this is torture, in that it involves the infliction
of severe mental and physical pain. The defecating and
urinating on themselves, as well as the pulling out of hair
and shaking from extreme cold, is a byproduct of the
fact that these prisoners in Guantanamo were "chained hand
and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair,
food or water." This kind of mistreatment of prisoners in
the U.S. would be illegal, even against those
who committed the most heinous of crimes.

In reading this memo, Senator Durbin was not claiming that
overall treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo is comparable
to the Nazi concentration camps or the Soviet Gulag. He was
saying that the particular treatment of prisoners
described in the FBI memo is what we would associate with
the treatment of prisoners in these more extreme prison
systems. Maybe he was wrong to compare this kind of torture
to Nazi concentration camps. But on the other hand, I don't
think that the kind of torture described in the FBI memo would
be considered a "day at the beach" by many former prisoners,
including those who survived the Soviet Gulag system.

If someone had read the FBI memo to me, without the reference
to rap music or the FBI, I would probably think the memo was
describing a prison in Vietnam.

It seems that those concerned with the human rights have to walk on pins and needles when criticizing U.S. prison abuses in Guantanamo, Iraq or elsewhere. The Bush administration and its supporters will jump on the slightest hyperbole from those who criticize such injustices, but it is only a diversionary tactic. Their moral outrage goes in only one direction: against those who speak out against the inhumane policies they are carrying out.

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