Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly.  Thanks for watching us tonight.

The weakness of America.  That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

Most of us living here in America expect openness. We expect to know the truth about things that affect our lives.  Sometimes that expectation is not met, but most of the time it is.

However, knowing the dark side of American life can hurt us as we are now seeing in the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.  Even though the vast majority of our military men and women are honorable and  brave, a few criminals have smeared them and the entire country.  Thus the sentencing today of Army Specialist Jeremy Sivits (search) to a year in prison for his abuse activities is a good thing.

I actually think Sivits should have gotten three years, but his plea bargain prevented that.

In the weeks to come, we will see more of the abusing soldiers get what's coming to them.  And the investigation should punish everyone culpable, no matter what the rank.

But no matter what the U.S.A. does to impose justice in this terrible situation, those who dislike how America is being run will continue to pounded the table.

Today this political cartoon appeared in "The Washington Post."  Tom Tolls (search) apparently believes President Bush is responsible in some way for the Iraqi abuse situation.  While Tolls is entitled to his opinion, "Talking Points" wonders what he's trying to accomplish by this tremendous leap without a fact to back it up.

Also piling on is a former archbishop of Denver, Cardinal James Francis Stafford (search), who now works at the Vatican and has accused the Bush administration of "moral failure" in Iraq. 

Says the cardinal, "Is this what American democracy is producing, men and women who just below the surface are barbarians?"

Well, here's a clue, Cardinal.  There are bad people and weak people in every country and in every religion.  What if I said about the Catholic church, is this what Catholicism is producing -- sexual predator priests?  That would have been grossly unfair, Cardinal, just as your statement is about your own country. Shame on you.

What angers me the most about the abuse scandal is that a few Americans have disgraced themselves by violating the human rights of prisoners.  And that has harmed their country dramatically.  These soldiers have given the Tom Tolls' and the Cardinal Staffords of the world all the ammunition they need to imply that the U.S.A. is a corrupt country.  That, of course, is false.  But there's no question America is now on the defensive all over the world.

One final point.  It doesn't help the image of America for citizens of this country to make excuses for the prisoner abuse.  There is no excuse, because to use a cliche, we are better than that.  We are better than the terrorists and their cowardly enablers.

But by those few soldiers violating the human rights of captured individuals, we've lost the moral ground and have become even bigger targets than ever before. 

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...

New Jersey lawmakers are voting this week on a bill that would legalize income redistribution in that state.  The bill would raise the state income tax on households earning $550,000 a year, and raise about $800 million for the state.  Now most of that money would be given to low-income families and the elderly. 

Our new billoreilly.com poll question asks you if you approve of this kind of taxation, taking money directly from the wealthy, from wealthy Americans, and then redistributing it, giving it to those Americans who don't have very much money.   It's a very interesting question.   It's really the new taxation trend, and we hope you'll let us know how you see it. 

And that's never ridiculous.  We really like these billoreilly.com polls. They are not scientific, by the way, but they do give us an indicator of public opinion. 

wish we had had the hats.  All right.  Ridiculous? Watch it or I'll come hip check you.

--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com