I've been trying lately to say more about Wisconsin and less about the country as a whole - but it's difficult. There's plenty wrong in Wisconsin, but it's just nothing compared to what the dolts we seem to have elected to Congress and The Presidency keep doing to us. So indulge me for a few minutes.

I used to think I actually understood what America stood for (at least in theory). I could quote the founding fathers and great US politicians and thinkers throughout the ages, but what's the point? The crux of the matter is that our government appears to have decided that chucking everything that we have believed in as a nation is justified because we got scared.

I'm not immune to this - I remember walking around in a daze for weeks after 9/11, wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. I got scared driving past the Mall of America on my way home. I worried about my wife and daughters and about what was going to happen.

But most of us recovered from that and started to live our lives again. We could tell the difference between the fear of one horrific day and how we should lead the rest of our lives. Not so with our government. The Republican majority has discovered the power of causing continued fear. The power of making an entire country of people so afraid of the boogeyman that we will turn our backs on things we've held dear. The power of repeating the same lies so often that they become the accepted truth.

The current rush to approve borderline torture and completely ignoring the Geneva Conventions in Congress is the latest of these indignities. Bush has insisted that passing this bill is the only way to be able to prosecute terrorists. It appears to simply be an attempt to side-step the intentions of the recent Supreme Court ruling - "If you say we're not following the rules - fine - we'll just change the rules to conform with what we're doing". It's yet another example of the neocon craziness that has infected Washington overpowering any sense of reason.

What are they going to do when they prosecute all these people under the "new order" of rules, and then all those convictions get overturned as being unconstitutional? It's much more important that the country does this properly than it is that this bill gets rushed through before the election, which is clearly the only thing that matters to the majority party. To me it's much more important that these prosecutions occur in a way that everyone in the world will agree was fair and just.

Habeas Corpus? The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Civil Rights? Limits to presidential power?

Hell, those are things that we want other countries to have. Like Iraq. They're gonna get them whether they want 'em or not. We can't afford 'em because there are bad people in the world. Nobody in Washington seems to be noticing that we're quickly becoming the bad people ourselves. Our job is not to let the craziness and extremism of some people rub off on the US, but to go back to setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Get in touch with your legislators. Remind them that we elected them to defend the constitution and the American way of life, not to trash it because for a change something bad happened to us. Sometimes genuine strength and patriotism lies in settling back and refusing to do the expedient thing. The attempted amendments to soften the current Senate bill are falling by the side - senators say they're amazed at the volume of phone calls they're getting on this bill -- but they're voting for it anyway.