Fixing the country’s broken moral compass

I know this is a pretty strong statement, and many people’s hearts are in the right direction, at least in starting to wake up from the slumber that overtook tens of millions of people over the past few years.  However, there are still so many people who don’t even realize, let alone have even remotely prepared for, the effects from the hangover caused by the past seven years.

Ironically, this all started back in the 2000 campaign with promises to “restore honor and dignity to the White House”, and was followed up in 2004 with the so-called “moral values” dominating the debate and election.  I’d normally laugh at this farce if the foul stench of hypocrisy and lies didn’t have such a grave impact on what so many in this country find “of utmost importance” and really how the view of moral decline and decadence really was portrayed by those who were not only in power, but by those who blindly supported the most radical and extremists views and actions – and had the unmitigated gall to call themselves “morally superior”.

A perfect example is the office of the US Attorney General.  Back when Bill Clinton was president, first Zoe Baird and then Kimba Wood – two women with pretty impressive credentials and resumes were summarily dismissed as being unfit for office and had to have their names withdrawn from consideration due to the horrific crime of not paying employment taxes on the wages paid to nannies.  The cries from the “right” and the so-called moralists mandated that a perfect record was the only thing that would allow someone to have the ability to hold this esteemed office.

While this may or may not be an appropriate place to draw the line when it comes to disqualifying someone from holding such an office, we now have all three Bush-appointed Attorneys General supporting torture, with nothing more than resigned acceptance as the strongest opposition from the “moralists”, the talking meatsticks in the corporate media and much of Congress.  We know how much Gonzalez skirted the law before and during his term as Attorney General – his lies to Congress, his approval of torture and his other shady dealings with Mister Bush in Texas or with respect to the Plame leak.  

We know that Mukasey’s otherwise solid resume (including presiding over trials of terrorists) should be thrown out the window if he has to hem and haw about whether acts of torture are indeed acts of torture.  Not to be overlooked in this is the colossal betrayal of American values by Democratic Senators Schumer and Feinstein with their tacit approval of torture.  And now, the first Bush Attorney General, John Ashcroft is doing the same two step on torture, and even said that he would be willing to be waterboarded.  

Now, aside from the fact that someone should call his bluff here, the fact that torture is even being discussed in the mainstream American debate and in the halls of Congress in 2007 is a disgrace.  The fact that so many people excuse the use of torture, including more than a few members of Congress is an embarrassment.  

But it isn’t just that.  Not by a long shot.  Here is a very quick, off the top of my head list of the dire moral situation this country is in.

Excusing the lies about going into Iraq, or the tactics that are used there.  Solving problems around the world by threatening to invade or bomb, instead of any level of diplomacy.  Allowing government officials to ignore Congressional subpoenas.  Dismissing the healthcare crisis with statements like “the Constitution doesn’t guarantee health care coverage”.  Forgetting about the neglect, negligence and destruction of an entire US city and region.  Not caring about most of the Bill of Rights being trampled on, or being spied on illegally.  

Making the argument about “every life being sacred” yet cheering for and sending other people’s children off to kill and die for lies.  Making that same argument about life beginning at conception, yet not doing anything to help people after they are born or before they are about to die.  Or, decrying gay marriage (which, as my wife says is “patently discriminatory” to decry) and living a double life in the closet – no doubt being untrue to your marital vows.  

Excusing the willful leaking of sensitive national security information and then wanting to punish and demonize the victims of the leak as well as the country(ies) that such people were tracking nuclear proliferation of.  Polluting the environment, purposely dumbing down the education system and demonizing those who don’t agree with everything you say or feel.  How does this create an environment that the next generation can thrive, let alone survive in?

Allowing companies to dump toxic waste, loosen standards for toy safety for our children, lax food and water quality standards and chemicals in our fish.  And of course, demonizing or censoring anyone who dares speak truth to power about, well, just about anything.  Preaching the Bible to “sinners” while only selectively following it yourself.  Or, doing exactly the opposite of what Jesus would do to and for fellow man (and women).

This is a short list.  Yet it is very telling when it comes to how misplaced so many people’s priorities are.  When the big news of the day is the latest missing white woman (now it is the “other Peterson”), who won American Idol, Dancing with the Stars or whatever other piece of crap is getting more votes than the Presidential election.  When the breaking economy, housing market and healthcare system threatens tens of millions of people and can put them out on the streets in a matter of weeks is largely ignored, yet mudfights between the major Presidential contenders gets all of the press.

When human life is given such little thought, and the future is given even less thought.  When it has become “I’ve got mine, good luck getting yours” has become the modus operandi for too many people.  When jobs are being lost and a raise in minimum wage (to something way lower than even a basic living wage) is being looked at as a “burden” for businesses, yet executive pay is at all time highs.

The country is broken.  And it is those who are the ones pointing fingers are usually the ones whose heads are also buried in the sand.  Americans aren’t stupid, but they have very fragile egos (must have something to do with the “everyone gets a trophy and nobody loses” culture) and probably can’t even admit that the problems are as big as they are.  For those who can and do admit this (or see the obvious), it is too daunting to even think about without being overwhelmed.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that it doesn’t need to be dealt with and dealt with now.  

The question is whether we as a country are too far gone to do the heavy lifting.  That is, if people can realize it, care about what is right and can get off the couch long enough to turn off the TV and come back to the reality based community.


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    • clammyc on November 30, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    in orange

  1. essay. The questions asked in the ‘debates’ are in themselves an indication of how we have unleashed the horsemen and called them the reality. The box of Pandora is open and it flows through the other box, TV, all dressed up as not only real, but moral and the epitome of goodness.

    Where is the real reality? Hard to find anywhere, easier for most to pick the one they feel most comfortable with and use that. I do believe that the real reality will prevail only because this fake one will be buried by the wave of consequence and sadly,as the little nieghbor boy said “Nothing is revealed”.    

    • Tigana on November 30, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    • KrisC on November 30, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    can pull themselves away from the tv.  If it’s not the tv, it’s gaming…I think it’s getting worse too, the way things are going with our nation, with our planet, it’s too easy to tune in (to tv) and turn off (the rest of the world) these days.

    Wonderful essay, clammyc, do you know if you are having a clam jr/clammette, yet?

  2. I wish they’d at least change the channel from Fox “News” and change the radio dial away from Limbaugh.  

    • documel on December 1, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Whenever someone touts the decline of American morality, I sneer.  We were always a bigoted country.  Not only did we include a brutal form of slavery in the constitution, we were one of the last countries to abolish it.  We thrived and became a world power while we had lynchings and segregated schools.  At our zenith, we are the only industrialized nation without guaranteed healthcare.  We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving–the anniversary of the slaughter of some 700 native Americans.

    Too many, even at this site, believe the high school propaganda that we have always been the land of the free,  that we have the purest democracy.  Well, Boss Tweed and Richard Daley did not run fair elections–and neither has FL or OH done so recently.

    As for torture, we’ve looked the other way at prison rapes.  We put many of our minorities in those prisons and gloat about lowering crime.  We refuse to control guns while we profess to fight terror–think about that–it’s easier to get a gun than a doctor’s appointment–and cheaper.  

    The US has always been better in fiction than in fact.  We proclaim and defend the Monroe Doctrine, yet see nothing offensive about ringing missiles around Russia.  We call the enemy barbaric, then gloat about the number of insurgients killed.  We invented scalping–heck, waterboarding is nothing.  We are the barbarians, it’s only wrong to torture WASPs.

    • documel on December 1, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Clean Gene was unique–honest and gutsy–the ideal.  None of today’s wannabes fill his shadow.  Jimmy Carter was close-but DC ate him for breakfast.  Hillary is far less perfect–but she won’t be lunch or dinner.  Edwards is smooth–probably the best combination of politician and purist.  The operative word is probably–he was wrong on Iraq before he was right.  Now, his wife seems to rule the roost–and that’s a good thing–probably.

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