Today marks the departure of the Bush administration—and the opportunity to restore civil liberties and the rule of law to America. It's also the return of Civil Discourse, my biweekly comic for the ACLU. There's a lot to be done this year. I'll be chronicling the hilarity, absurdity and outrages and posting all my new cartoons here on the blog. If you want a look back at the insanity of the last few years, check
Sixty years ago, the United States was one of 48 nations to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then we've had an unimpeachable human rights record achieving all of the standards set forth in the declaration's 30 articles.
Oh, wait — wiretapping, torture, illegal detention, a biased criminal justice system... OK, there's still a few things to be done. Here's a comic showing what America may have looked like if the Bush administration were as committed to the UDHR as they are to waterboarding alleged terrorists.
Most people don't wait until marriage to have sex, but abstinence-only-until-marriage education programs tell teens they should...and not much else (hence the "only" part). Despite mountains of evidence showing these programs work as well as magical thinking, stubborn anti-sex ed moralists continue to insist we ignore reality and throw millions more taxpayer dollars at the problem.
The media coverage of the presidential campaign has devolved into daily obsessions with the latest gaffes and attack ads. The debates are stale stump speeches where our founding document is largely ignored. Watching it unfold, it's easy to forget the candidates are competing to take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. (If they can dig it out of Cheney's paper shredder.)
One of the most puzzling issues that confront those of us who care about civil liberties is the debate surrounding flag burning. Burning the American flag is offensive to many but done by almost no one. And yet every few years it is brought up as a wedge issue to separate those who love freedom from those who hate America, puppies and apple pies cooling on the windowsill of Grandma's house. See the latest Civil Discourse comic on the issue.
In Franz Kafka's 1925 novel, The Trial, a man awakens to be suddenly arrested and put on trial for an unspecified crime in a court where no evidence is presented. Hey, at least he got a trial! Most detainees at Guantánamo Bay are still waiting to defend themselves against their crimes — real or imaginary.
There's now over a million names on the government's "Terrorist Watch List." In a previous Civil Discourse comic I wondered why small children with common names like "Robert Johnson" are questioned. Today's comic deals with even more baffling suspects: dead people!
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is adopting some "calming" techniques to make you relaxed for their ever-increasing security procedures. My latest Civil Discourse comic goes through some of features at the Indianapolis Airport that were designed with the help of psychologists to create peaceful acquiescence in passengers.
Bush's approval ratings are so low they would have given King George pause, yet Congress keeps granting him all the power he wants. Their latest capitulation on FISA granted the President even more power to spy on Americans without a warrant. Count the Fourth Amendment among the many Bush has trampled on.