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Thursday, April 26, 2007
Thursday Morning Reading
I'm headed out of town for the weekend, but wanted to offer this brilliant post for your perusal while I'm gone. It's not about politics, it's about the social order and the culture of manhood that lead the Columbine shooters and Cho Seung-Hui to do what they did. Coming from someone who could have been Klebold or Harris, were it not for being both far less armed and far less crazy, this blogger beautifully articulates how these kids fall into a caste system, and how the tunnel-vision that pollutes a high schooler's ability to look to the future keeps these kids on the outside looking in.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Oh No He Didn't
Giuliani warns of 'new 9/11' if Dems win - The Politico
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.Wow. What balls on this guy.
I get so goddamn irritated with disinformation like this. Here's what I believe. I believe that you are not a serious or responsible human being if you believe any of the following things:
1) That "terrorists" are hoping and praying for a Democratic presidential administration, because they are somehow effectively neutered if we have a Republican in office.
2) That, in this day and age, "National Security/Defense" means the same things that it did under Reagan and for decades prior, and that only one party cares enough to protect you.
3) That we're all so goddamn weak and ineffective a people that the mere thought of another skyscraper tumbling or a suicide bomber in a Beverly Hills Starbucks means we're craving a Daddy-State where we should turn over our rights to politicians, law enforcement and the intelligence community in an effort to make sure our neighbor, his neighbor and the guy down the street aren't plotting to do something scary and dangerous.
If you believe any of the above, you are not a serious or responsible citizen of this society. Hell, channelling an old trope here, if you believe #3, you just might be a fascist.
"But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?" Giuliani said. "If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer."The solution, then, is to not "cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, (and) interrogation?" Really? I don't trust our politicians to stand on reasonable principles when it comes to taking money from the drug or tobacco lobby, so why should I trust them to stand on reasonable and noble principles when it comes to domestic surveillance?
Remember, we had an administration a couple of decades ago whose views on the unitary executive theory were well known:
Nixon insisted that when "a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude" was involved, a President could readily use otherwise illegal acts, including burglaries (he preferred the euphemism "warrantless entries"), wiretaps, mail openings, and IRS and FBI harassment against any "violence-prone" dissenters. But if this was so vital to national security, why not ask Congress to make such acts legal? "In theory," said Nixon, "this would be perfect, but in practice, it won't work." It would alert the targeted dissenters, he said, and raise a public outcry.Our politicians are not purebred noble public servants, except for maybe Henry Waxman. They are not drooling power-hungry savages either, but somewhere on that spectrum lies the truth. Do you really think Nixon was the last "bad" guy we're going to have occupying the office? Do you really think that the Bush administration's unitary executive theory is a great deal different from what Nixon is illustrating above? True, Nixon was apparently going after Vietnam protesters, but Bush wouldn't dream of quelling dissent himself, would he?
Look, it's not Bush I'm really worried about here. It's the next guy, and the guy after that, regardless of party affiliation. It is unacceptable for a President to engage in unitary executive theories that include non-FISA reviewed domestic surveillance, even if you want to believe Bush is "only" going after "the bad guys." What happens if his domestic surveillance theories get challenged at the Supreme Court, and what if they're upheld? You're willing to put the future of all our freedom from a power mad executive branch that gets elected 40 years from now on the line because you're scared of brown people with bombs?
Let me say this simply... If somehow it becomes acceptable for domestic surveillance to occur without oversight, that power will be abused.
I even put that in future tense for you conservatives who don't want to believe this abuse could maybe be occurring now. Does that help? If you're
Maybe someday you won't share the politics and values of the people who are abusing the system. Democrats aren't immune from being power-hungry Beltway whores either... except for maybe Henry Waxman.
The Bill of Rights is at risk, and I'm less willing to lose these guaranteed freedoms than I am to lose my own life to a dirty bomb attack. But let's shift focus to the other part of this, and that's the old trope about "National Security/Defense."
Twenty-five years ago, at the height of the Cold War, it made sense for us to ramp up the military-industrial complex. We needed more bombs and better missles and a bigger fighting force that was better equipped than our enemy. Proliferation was how we "won" against the Soviets. We outspent them and drove them to bread lines. Republicans wanted to spend huge sums of money in this effort, Democrats, while still recognizing the need to do so, wanted to apply much of that money elsewhere.
Twenty-five years ago, the framing of Republicans as "strong" on defense, and Democrats as "weak" was a hyperbole rooted in fact.
That's the way it was handled back then. "National Security/Defense" means something different today. There is not a single candidate on either side of the Presidential campaign who would tell you they want to open our borders and let "terrorists" blow up Manhattan. Whether or not we stay mired in a war in the Middle East is beyond the point - "National Security/Defense" to Americans today means being safe at home from attack. While we will never achieve total insularity and safety, it is unreasonable to project a total lack of safety (and terrorist slumber party) on the Democratic platform. It is unfair and unreasonable, and serious, responsible people don't tell lies and know them when they see them being told.
I want so badly for a Democrat running for President to come out and tell the truth on this issue. I want a Dem to step up and say that "National Security/Defense" is his top priority, but these contractors suckling at the teat of the war machine are going to take a backseat to the construction, training and implementation of an agile and effective network of intelligence able to focus our efforts as a worldwide watchdog, not as a brute force global policeman. It's time the rest of the world learned how to stand up and face extremism, and we will do everything we can to provide the intelligence necessary to succeed where this administration has failed - that is in understanding, observing, infiltrating and dismantling global terror groups where they live.
We will protect our homeland through immigration control, port security, and by fighting terror groups by being smart enough to know where all the heads of the hydra are so that we may cut them off at the same time. We are already stronger than our enemy and better equipped. A missle defense shield protects us from no one that's a threat to us now, so it must take a backseat. New bombers, new tanks, new weaponry can and will be developed, but intelligence has been our gap, and we will turn that gap a unique position of irrefutable world dominance. The world will depend on America for what we know and how we can help them strategize to mitigate their exposure to the risks of an uncertain world.
This is how we fight "terror." It's not through no-bid contracts to Boeing and billions to Halliburton. We are going to focus on making the world a safer place by shining the light on everywhere freedom is in danger. It is up to the rest of the world to collaborate on solving these problems, as we are standing up to protect our borders and our cities, and we expect the leaders of the world to do the same.
That's how you frame "national security" in this day and age. No sane, rational, serious or responsible person thinks we can beat al-Qaeda by bulking up the military machine. It's about agility and knowledge, all while respecting the freedoms guaranteed to Americans by the Bill of Rights. We support our troops by making sure they know what they're doing, who they're fighting, and becoming surgical in our precision when planning attacks. We will not commit to leaving tens of thousands in the middle of a civil war, we will make sure you're smart enough to understand your own threats and address them on your own.
This is how I want to see "National Security/Defense" framed. We want to be safe at home, we're technologically savvy, it was bad intelligence (well, um, cherry-picked hyperbolized and inaccurate intelligence - how about that?) that got us into this mess, let's make sure it never happens again.
Regardless, I'm tired of seeing this tired "strong/weak on defense" trope being trotted out again. It's a different world, and we need our leaders to start telling the truth on these issues. Americans deserve better than what we're getting at present, and you deserve better than rhetoric, sound bites and talking points to make up your mind on who it is you're going to vote for.
Think critically, think long-range, and don't let Giuliani spoon feed you this stuff without turning your nose up in disgust.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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