I was corresponding with my nephew-in-law, who is stationed in Iraq. He's in the National Guard which I thought was set up to defend our homeland borders, hence the name National Guard, but I digress. I asked him if he had met any of the Bush or Cheney family stationed over there. To my great surprise, he said no. I told him to keep looking because surely, being the great defenders of democracy that they are, they would have some of their family over there fighting the war they started.
So as I help my nephew-in-law's two daughters to celebrate their second and third birthdays, I try to explain why their daddy can't be there. "You see, a long time ago, before you were even born, a very bad man in a far away place made fun of the president's daddy when he was president. So your daddy has to go to war to prove that the Bush men aren't chickens because the president sure didn't do it. And weapons of mass destruction are a lot like your pretend and invisible friend "Pooky." Just because no one else can see, find, or hear them, doesn't make them any less real to George W.
Democrats wouldn't sign pledge
With election day approaching, as Speaker of the House, I want to take the time to warn Minnesotans about the trash they're about to hear over the airwaves and receive in their mailboxes. I recently held a press conference at the State Fair, where I encouraged House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, to join me in signing the 2004 Compact for Clean Elections, an agreement between the two House caucuses to run clean campaigns.
The compact -- endorsed by David Schultz, a Hamline University professor and former president of Minnesota Common Cause -- would require the Republican and DFL House caucuses to ensure that what they write or say about a candidate in a mailing or advertisement is true, fully documented, and not deceptive, misleading or taken out of context.
The compact also would prohibit the use of retouched or distorted photos of opponent candidates in mailings, and prohibit the attacking of opponent candidates through mailings or advertisements in the final 48 hours before election day, when the candidates being attacked have no chance to respond. Unbelievably, Entenza showed up at the press conference and refused to sign the compact, clearly indicating his DFL Party plans on waging the ugliest, dirtiest campaign for control of the Minnesota House that the people of our state have ever seen. When you receive a piece of mail or hear an ad on the radio in the coming weeks attacking your local Republican candidate for state representative, throw it away or turn the dial, because the Democrats doing the attacking have zero credibility and will say and do literally anything to get back in power.
And next time you hear a Democrat complaining about how politics has gotten too partisan, remember who did -- and who did not -- sign the 2004 Compact for Clean Elections.
Rep. Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon
Speaker of the Minnesota House
How we treat prisoners
This past Friday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld stated to the National Press Club, that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib does not "rank up there with [a terrorist] chopping someone's head off on television" [Sun., Sept. 12 pg. 9A]. In my opinion, we can not compare such atrocities. Anytime a human being is raped, tortured, shot, beheaded, beaten, electrocuted or physically -- or emotionally -- abused in any way, it is wrong!
It wrong for Rumsfeld to start justifying that one type of abuse or killing is somehow less wrong than another. Rumsfeld's statement illustrates that our country has indeed ignored, and will continue to ignore, guidelines on the treatment of POWs agreed upon during the Geneva Convention, because President Bush stated that these guidelines do not apply to terrorists. This can be very misleading. Who's to determine whether someone is a terrorist?
Many Americans have ingested Bush's "war on terrorism" propaganda as license to hate anything foreign. The assault on Iraq was continually framed as retaliation and linked to the 9/11 terrorist attack, (even though the 9/11 commission has found no evidence linking the two). With that backdrop, Iraqi POWs were considered terrorists and thus suffered inhumanely at the hands of our government. If you fight to defend your family and country, are you a terrorist? If one truly comprehends the human suffering caused by such tortures or abuse throughout history; one would NOT covertly condone such acts of government-sponsored human violence as a solution to a problem.
What we did at Abu Ghraib is terribly wrong. What a disgrace to honorable Americans, who do believe in the dignity of human life on a grander scale.
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