Preaching Democracy

The problem for U.S. presidents who jump on their moral high horse and gallop around the world loudly lecturing other nations' leaders about freedom and democracy is that their presidential practices back here in America are often the exact opposite of what they're preaching to others.

George W., our present preacher-in-chief, recently went on a highly-publicized moralizing mission to Russia, where he publicly scolded President Putin for imposing anti-democratic measures on that country. Fine – Putin's autocratic tendencies are abominable. But then George got caught up in asserting his own moral purity, declaring: "I'm perfectly comfortable in telling you our country is one that safeguards human rights."

Well, yes, Americans certainly have a strong belief in that, and we've been striving for that ideal for two centuries – until BushCheneyRumsfeld & Company arrived. They have been energetically pushing America backwards on human rights, ranging from insisting that the White House has a right to torture war prisoners to using federal police and the military to shut out and shut up Americans who protest Bush's policies.

Filled with moral piety, however, George continued his democracy lecture, saying: "I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open." What an absurdly awkward thing for him to say, since Bush & Company are notorious for pushing a dangerous new culture of government secrecy in America. They have gone to court again and again to assert "executive privilege," insisting that they have the autocratic right to hide all information about their decisions. They also maintain secret "no fly" lists, they have unilaterally suspended the public's use of our right-to-know laws in case after case, they've doubled the number of government documents classified as secret, and they've claimed in several cases that not even Congress or the courts can examine their decisions.

Of course, even under Bush, America is no where near as bad as Putin's Russia ... yet.

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