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Senator Frist's Twisted Priorities

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In a recent appearance on Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) discussed what he believes are America's most pressing priorities: flag burning and gay marriage.

Excuse me?!

Sure, burning the American flag is in very poor taste. Sure, a very vocal minority believe that their religion prohibits homosexuals from acting on their God-given sexual orientation. But are these really the two greatest concerns affecting the everyday lives of the American people? Or is this a smokescreen designed to distract us from the real issues?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that today, almost five years after the attacks of 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still beyond our reach? That the greatest power in the world cannot find and capture a 6'5" Arab on dialysis hiding within a fairly limited geographical area?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that today, almost five years after the attacks of 9/11, they're still not screening much of the cargo on planes, trucks, trains, and ships?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that more than 2,400 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, in a war of aggression based entirely on lies?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the Bush administration talks about human rights even as it plays with semantics and signing statements to reserve for itself the "right" to torture?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that in the past few years we went from a record surplus to a record deficit?
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Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the middle class is shrinking and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that they 've been giving tax breaks to billionaires while cutting back on the needs of the poor, the sick, and the elderly?

Is it meant to distract us from the cuts in education programs even as the U.S. holds an embarrassing ninth place among industrialized nations in its percentage of the population that holds at least a high school diploma?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the chairman of Exxon received a $400 million retirement package while we're paying more than $3 for a gallon of gas?

Is it meant to distract us from all the domestic emergency response issues that still haunt the Bush administration almost a year after Hurricane Katrina?
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Is it meant to distract us from the fact that senior administration officials outed a covert CIA agent in order to punish her husband, who publicly criticized their phony justifications for war?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the Bush administration boasts about spreading freedom across the globe even as our own Constitutional rights are being systematically dismantled?

According to Senator Frist, these things aren't so important. We have far greater concerns than these. We must worry about the possibility that someone might set a piece of cloth on fire. And we must worry about what consenting adults are doing in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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