Democrats & Liberals Archives

Security From Our Government

Is democracy a luxury we can afford anymore?

That is the essential question Bush asks us right now. Can we afford to investigate only those whose deeds have brought them to our suspicion? They would assert that bare suspicion, without probable cause is sufficient. After all, they are trying to defeat the terrorists, and this is a war.

Did the war make us into something else than the republic we are, though?

"Oh no," some would say, "you're taking the terrorist's side!"

Bullshit. I'm taking the side of that fellow who they think is a terrorist, but who isn't. See, this is the catch: authoritarianism. The founding fathers structured our government to where it actually had to prove such claims to the rest of us. Bush wants to make such claims, and to have his authority as president be enough. That's authoritarian rule by definition.

Some would cite Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus. They forget the constitution only waives rights for people in cases of insurrection or invasion. We're not fighting a civil war, and no enemy army has set foot on American soil in almost two centuries.

Bush says that all this is necessary to protect us from them. No doubt, we want a defense against our enemies, but then in turn, we must ask what protects us from him and others who might follow in his footsteps? What measures are in place to prevent secret and finally public abuse of these powers? Let me rephrase that: can any such powers, inaugurated without the checks and balances of warrants or legal underpinning, end in anything but abuse?

We have seen enough of the character of those in Washington to know that our politicians are not always gifted in their virtues. Many among the powerful are simply good at competing for power, and they will use the tools at their disposal for that. Our current president is especially opportunistic. Signing statements, defiance of the courts, use of national secrets to get back at opponents and sell his policies. He reacts very harshly to the notion that he could misuse those powers, much less the suggestion that he has misused them.

Fine if you agree with him, but a frightening stance for him to take if you believe, especially on good evidence, that this is precisely what he has done. What does one do, then, when you are restrained, and the leader is not? It's dangerous territory. This is where nations like ours fall.

The truth is, that the security of this nation is meaningless without the security of individual freedoms. If our choice is to live as subjects of a police state, or to die free Americans, we should chose to die free. That simple. If the choice comes down between our freedom and our vulnerability to the terrorists, we should chose freedom.

But does it necessarily come down to that? No, it doesn't. Let's consider the nature of information in case like this. First of all, In a nation full of information, most of it will be useless in terms of following the terrorists. So, gathering the nation's phone records might very well be an exercise in excess covering for a lack of imagination. Second, this information will not be random. It will cluster around the real world actions and presence of the terrorists. Third, if we already have investigations going, we're close to those clusters of information as it is.

The natural objection to all that is that we don't know everything, and that such work can be painstaking. The trick is, without at least some care and some reliance on evidence as the main conduit for the direction of the investigation, our own preconceived notions of things can become substitutes for the fact, with the strength of our beliefs becoming the strength of the barrier between us and the truth.

I will be the first to acknowledge the need to go beyond the rational, and beyond logic in seeking out the truth and investigating things in real life. There must be a grounding, though, to our speculation and theorizing, because we humans are exceedingly good at reconstructing the world in our minds in self-serving ways. I think the best investigations harness both sides of the human imagination, both the logical, rational side, and the intuitive, emergent side of it. Each side's strength's counterbalances the other's weaknesses.

This is what I would call the liberal theory on law enforcement and homeland security: the human mind and character are fallible, so we need our agencies to have built in means of maintaining the grounding of those in law enforcement, and ensuring their power serves the public good. The human mind and character are also gifted with capabilities that if developed can serve us well in keeping law, order, security and safety in our society.

We have to realize that this problem is not necessarily one of insufficient police and government power. The 9/11 report indicated a number of places where the problem wasn't that the government lacked information, but that the information was made available or brought together in one place until it was too late. It doesn't matter how great and grand your government's powers are. In ignorance, all systems fail, short of favorable chance.

We also have to realize that powers on paper are not necessarily powers that can work in the real world. Theoretically, the KGB and Kremlin had unlimited power. In real life, though, what emerged from the system was a repressives system that quietly depended on corruption and a black market to even survive. The system survives by not working according to design, but instead along the lines of the opportunity conditions provide.

The thing to keep in mind here is that any system, even a good one, can hide islands of problematic behavior in the folds of its complexity. These degenerate sort of systems, though, can hide far more problematic behavior, hidden cracks in the system that debilitated it when the right injury is inflicted on it. We see this in companies like Enron, in the Soviet Union's collapse, in the bubbles of this time and times past.

Both sides of the aisles would do well to recognize the difference between power reached for and power grasped. They would do well to grasp that the proper role of government is regulation- that is, keeping society from flying apart on account of all the contradictory forces and impulse within it, and the other forces and impulses outside of it. This is what makes government tough to put together right: it's an emergent system, where the rules together create the system, not the rules alone. Additionally, not all of the rules are written, or decideable by us human beings. So, the question is, what emerges?

That is a question that is easier to answer when you're not distracting yourself with the politics, or at least when you're letting your politics and your practice serve the same end. The problem with the current administration is that politics is in the drivers seat and this administration is seeking power with no real idea of what do with it, or any concept of the world working its own way and not theirs. Competence , experience, understanding, and intellect cannot take a backseat to the politics. The greatest danger to this country is not the terrorists, but the people who think they have the terrorists defeated but don't have them. Whatever party we choose our candidates from, we should push for them to be damn good at handling real world situations, rather than choosing them for their image making and political skills alone. We're not looking for a leader who has no charisma of course, but we need somebody who is more than just a pretty face with well-written speeches.

Bluster and bluff will not protect us. Gettin' Tuff in words more than deeds will not protect us. Betraying our freedoms to create a police state will not protect us. What will protect us is a better relationship between leaders in America and the rest of the citizens, and a more practical, grounded, alert manner of seeking out our enemies and defeating their plans.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 13, 2006 5:50 PM
Comments
Comment #147983

Stephen
First of all if we have to give up our liberties to fight the war on terrorism then we have already lost the war on terrorism. If the best this administration can do is to take away our liberties to fight the war on terrorism then once again we have already lost the war on terrorism. Of course they will not listen to others, so they will continue to try to erode the civil liberties of the American citizens because they can and because it fits there overall philosophy.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 13, 2006 7:40 PM
Comment #147985

Second of all,Those that claim to be the Conservatives and champions of liberty, yet fall in lockstep with whatever W and his ilk do are the true helpers of the terrorist, not those that cry out in defense of liberty.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 13, 2006 7:44 PM
Comment #147989

Stephen,
Do not let the Bush administration frame the argument. The War on Terror is a fabrication. Anything resembling a full scall war ended with the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003.

Remember those 13 alerts prior to the last presidential election, the color coded traffic light of death? Those alerts never came from Homeland Security, according to its head, Tom Ridge. Those alerts all came from the White House. The intent was to distract and create fear.

How many Iranians have ever attacked Americans in America? For an anwer, even a round number will do. How many Iranians have been caught planning such an attack? How many Iraqis?

Here is a round number. Zero. 0.

The borders are porous, but the attackers are non-existent, and have been since the “Mastermind” of 9/11 was captured in 2003.

Should we take remedial steps for security? Of course. But to make the War of Terror a central focus of policy is ludicrous.

But I suspect the Bush administration will be bombing Iran before the election, for the same reasons they launched an invasion of Iraq:

Oil, as well as other commodities such as gold & copper, have been screaming north recently. These are clear harbingers of inflation.

A few years ago, Greenspan thought $60 oil would be a huge problem. Pundits thought the Fed Funds rate would be raised to the 4 - 4.5 percent range.

Today, we are at + $70 oil, with the Fed Funds at 5%. The DJIA dropped over 200 points in two days, and no one is even commenting on it.

There is no choice. This economic recovery has been funded by debt. Unfortunately, we cannot inflate our way out of it. The owners of our debt will not allow this. Therefore, rates will continue to rise.

When the collapse comes, it will come fast. Very fast. Before this happens, the Bush administration will need to act, otherwise the crash will be blamed on them, all this right before an election. Distracting the electorate before the election will be paramount.

The issue of immigration is merely a distraction. We have already gone over a cliff, but the country does not realize it yet. Before the realization hits, it is “bombs away” for the Bush administration.

Hey, this worked great for the Bush White House when it invaded Iraq. The invasion distracted the electorate from the economic mess.

They will do it again. The best hope for this country is to see Bush impeached, and soon.


Posted by: phx8 at May 13, 2006 8:12 PM
Comment #147990

Drop a bomb on DC and start from scratch ~

Posted by: Sonny! / doomsday soothsayer at May 13, 2006 8:13 PM
Comment #147996

To make your point hit home Stephen, Gen. Hayden in a press conference aired in January stated emphatically that the 4th Amendment was predicated on reasonable suspicion. The audience member corrected him stating no, it was predicated on probable cause. The Gen. insisted it was not, and he had been using reasonable suspicion. Therefore, I guess, it must be reasonable suspicion, right?

Wrong. Gen. Hayden had been directing and overseeing intelligence operations using reasonable suspicion and the Courts had long ago established probable cause was the standard for government intrusion under the 4 Amendment.

Now we are going to make this man the head of the CIA. Incompetence knows no bounds in this administration.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 13, 2006 8:44 PM
Comment #148007

phx8-
I cannot help but think that there truly is a security concern out there. al-Qaeda may be heading for the ashheap, but others have learned lessons from it about how to approach their own attacks. Full-blown wars may be few and far between, and the metaphor stretched thin, but I don’t think 9/11 is the last spectactular attack we will ever face.

David Remer-
Comments like Haydens are what make it easy to write for the Blue Column, nowadays. It’s funny how oblivious they are to the lines they’ve crossed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 13, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #148011

We get lots of fine words and I agree with them. But the diagnosis of the problem is incorrect. Things like the terrorist surveillance program or the more recent searching for patterns among 2 trillion telephone calls just does not rise to a level to justify all the fear.

Every president has done things like this. It is part of their duty to protect us from all enemies foreign and domestic. All of our democratic allies overseas do things like this today. We make fun of the French, but we have to admit they do not suffer excess oppression. The leaders of both parties have had access to information about these programs, although Pelosi evidently doesn’t show up for briefings. The Intelligence Committees are in the loop.

We used to worry about things like arrests at night or concentration camps. Now we worry that our government is doing research to figure out patterns of telephone calls to help us catch terrorists or prevent attacks.

Meanwhile we – ALL OF US – continue to freely post much more personal information and views than an investigator could turn up on us in a year. We obviously do not believe in our hearts what we assert in our rhetoric. We are not afraid of our government and we don’t need to be.

We are playing at this. Like the rich kid radicals on campuses, we prentend we are in danger. We pretend to be Nelson Mandela, when we are really more like Michael Moore. It is good business to be a radical in the U.S. There is no risk.

Is there is a potential for abuse – sure. Everyone has the potential to be a murderer; few people actually do it.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 9:18 PM
Comment #148013

Jack, What law would need to be broke, what lie told that would convince you to say W is over the line? Do you think W sets a good example for future presidents, perhaps of different political parties?

Posted by: j2t2 at May 13, 2006 9:40 PM
Comment #148015

Drop a bomb on DC and start from scratch ~

Posted by: Sonny! / doomsday soothsayer at May 13, 2006 10:06 PM
Comment #148017

Stephen,
There is a big difference between a realistic acknowledgment of the threat of terrorist attack, and an unrealistic one which makes it the focal point for policy.

I would argue that the Bush administration intentionally overestimated the threat. Doing so gave them carte blanche to pursue other agendas: invading Iraq; distracting attention from other issues unfavorable to Bush contributors, i.e., Global Warming; allowing defense contractors to squander our tax dollars on foolish expenditures, such as a new generation of air superiority fighter & new attack submarines, to such a ridiculous extreme that the US now spends more on “defense” spending than the rest of the world combined; and have I mentioned oil yet?

We financed this with debt: trade deficits, annual budget deficits, a total national deficit, and consumer borrowing out the wazoo. Commodities are running wild because inflation is looking more and more likely; and between the accumalated debts and inflation, we will have no choice but to jack up interest rates.

Bush will start a war first. Just watch.

Posted by: phx8 at May 13, 2006 10:15 PM
Comment #148018

Stephen-

Great post!!! For at least this once, you and I are on the same page. The Constitution was written, and the Bill of Rights especially, to protect the citizens from the government. This administration has turned it on it’s head. But, this only serves to demonstrate how astute our Founders were.

I am neither Red nor Blue. I am, at heart, a libertarian. I believe in very llimited government interference in the lives of citizens. Yes, there are times when that interference may be more intrusive, but this isn’t one of them. Although let me say that the NSA’s collecting telephone records is less intrusive than the information collected every time we use a credit card, debit card, or any of the other modern “conveniences”.

This election, I plan to vote against every candidate that cannot show me a consistent record of voting for the good of the country. I guess that means I will be voting against all the incumbents. I would characterize it as taking a stand against prostitution.

Thanks for a great read.

Posted by: John Back at May 13, 2006 10:35 PM
Comment #148019

The parable of the scorpion and the swan.

A scorpion asked a swan on the banks of a river if the swan would be so kind as to give him a ride to the other side. The swan was frightened and said to the scorpion,”No, No. You will sting me and I will die. The scorpion replied,I will not sting you,for if I did I would drown and we both would die.” The swan thought for a moment and decided he could find no fault with the logic and being a kind soul agreed to give the scorpion a lift. Half way over the river the scorpion stung the swan. The swan was shocked and asked the scorpion,” Why,oh why did you sting me?”’ The scorpion replied,”Sorry. I could not help it.It is my nature.”

I would submit that the nature of a corporate fascist regime requires the supression of civil liberties. If the war on terror had not happened some other reason or reasons would have appeared.Communism worked pretty good for several administrations with those tendancies but it really does not matter who the enemy is so long as there is one.(see:1984). The tragic war in Iraq, by creating more enemies serves their real goal well. And here you thought it was just incompetant.

Posted by: BillS at May 13, 2006 10:52 PM
Comment #148021

j2t2

If President Bush did something I would not have expected FDR or Harry Truman to do, or something they did not do in analagous situations, I might be worried. If my government went way beyond what governments of other democracies do, maybe I would get upset. If the President had not briefed the intelligence committees and party leadership such as Pelosi and Reid, I might be moved to ask why not.

The expansion of the idea of privacy during the 1970s was sometimes good, but not always. And some privacy goes too far. We should protect privacy to protect liberty, but it is not an absolute standard.

For example, we will never be able to get a hold of illegal immigration or voting fraud until we get some kind uniform identity papers.

Anyway, the current NSA program, as described in the media, worries me not at all. I am much more concerned with whoever it is who tells the press all the secrets so the bad guys can adapt their own tactics.

And before anyone tells me that the terrorist already know, answer one question. Do you lock your car or your front door? Why? The crooks CAN get in.

Posted by: Jack at May 13, 2006 11:26 PM
Comment #148035

Jack, After McCarthy in the Fifties and Nixon in the Seventies I think privacy is a good thing. Why dismantle privacy laws anymore than corporate America has already done. Hey who is the Conservative here.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 14, 2006 12:44 AM
Comment #148036

Jack, I have to lock my doors otherwise it wouldnt be breaking and entering would it.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 14, 2006 12:45 AM
Comment #148038

Stephen,

Good article, but IMO the whole thing boils down to two simple words: “trust me”.

Never mind the incompetence, “trust me”.

Never mind the lies, “trust me”.

Here’s a “never mind” that I wish I hadn’t read:
Paper: Military Ignoring Mental Illness
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060514/ap_on_re_us/military_suicides;_ylt=AtFvGuFHSrz3wNZjnwioq_is0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ—

Quote:
“U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.”

With violence in Iraq now even occurring between Iraqi’s we,ve trained to “stand up so we can stand down” we have two clear options: (1) Exit ASAP or, (2) deploy many more troops which means reinstating the draft. Anyone care to draw straws? We can’t keep sending the same people for a 4th, 5th, or 6th tour of duty.

Compared to what Bush and Co. are doing to our brave military men and women just violating my civil rights seems a small price to pay.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at May 14, 2006 1:43 AM
Comment #148044

Tell you what, look up Pun Plamondon, read his story, then come back here and write another column on illegal wiretapping. Time for impeachment!

Posted by: Scott Burgoyne at May 14, 2006 6:14 AM
Comment #148053

I wonder how accurate Truthout is on this?

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051306W.shtml

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at May 14, 2006 8:48 AM
Comment #148056

Jack, why the moral relativism? Why compare ourselves to our lesser democratic brethren? Why hold our president to the worst standards (mistakes) set by those before him?
Let me give you an alternative: require the president to uphold the law. Hold him to the only black-and-white yardstick that we have - the absolute law. If that law isn’t good enough, change it. If the Constitution isn’t good enough, change it. But while it is the law of the land, our president’s oath requires him to uphold it:
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
There’s nothing there about picking and choosing when to follow the laws and when to do what you want to do. There’s nothing there about breaking the rules if it makes us “safer” or some other nonsense. In fact, in the numerous cases the supreme court has considered, the decisions routinely come down on the side of protecting Constitutionally granted freedom from unreasonable search and seizure:
Youngstown
and
USvUSDC
I don’t expect Red and Blue to agree on social programs, foreign policy, or fiscal/monetary issues, to name just a few. But if you think the president can abridge the law when he wishes, you have stopped being a patriot.

Posted by: T. Jefferson at May 14, 2006 9:25 AM
Comment #148058

While nothing clearly illegal has been revealed yet, it is deeply disturbing that insider bureaucrats are risking their careers to reveal troubling activity on the part of this administration. An administration that many think is on a course to drum up hysteria about Iran.

As to Jack’s comments on rich kid radicals, all I can say is that those kids in the 60’s were right. We killed 58,000 Americans fighting a conflict that we had no part in, our administrations lied to us about, and that resulted in zero gains for us politically or economically.

It turned out the radicals were the patriots. We owe it to ourselves to listen closely here, and to find out what is causing the concerns of so many. The press smells a story here. Given your experiences with authoritariansim, Jack, I would expect a little more skepticism of the party line.

We know Bush lied to get us into Iraq. Why? We don’t yet know all the consequences of that. He has now begun to redirect and expand intelligence within the US. He has used the war on terrorism for political effect. Is he guilty of impeachable offenses? We don’t know yet. Is it wise to look into what is going on? It’s naive to ignore the cries from within.

Posted by: gergle at May 14, 2006 10:05 AM
Comment #148059

It is not moral relativism to believe that our defense of privacy goes beyond what is required to protect liberty and that it might have gone so far that it actual endangers it. Every time I use my visa card, someone knows. I can Google anybody reasonably important and find out all about them. We give up some privacy to live in society. This latest revelation bothers me very little.

I guess you are right that I am not an absolutist when it comes to privacy. Privacy is a good thing, but it depends on situation. I don’t want criminals to have privacy. I give up some of my privacy in order to stop them.

When I compare to other times and places I am just trying to see how much privacy can be given up before it affects something important. So far it is not a problem and may be a benefit.

And remember that the Constitutional issue has not been resolved. The founding fathers DID read other gentlemen’s mail. That is how they caught Benidict Arnold.

Posted by: Jack at May 14, 2006 10:08 AM
Comment #148065

Jack, I’m curious. Last year, it never occurred to me that our government would track our phone calls. Now we know they do, but that doesn’t bother you.

We know the PATRIOT Act allows government officials to secretly search our homes when we’re away, yet that doesn’t bother you either.

At what point does the erosion of liberty — or as you call it, “privacy” — start to bother you and your Republican colleagues?

Do government agents need to start searching your house while you and your family ARE at home before you begin to think it’s a bad idea?

I know you’ll say that’s unthinkable, but so were warrantless “sneak and peek” searches and phone tapping, once upon a time.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 14, 2006 10:35 AM
Comment #148068

PHX8,

An economy in fiat built on corporate debt, someone else gets it, finally. Inflated prices are here and will grow until we pay down the deficit—what’s the likelihood of that?

The war in part is just a mean for some hands to get rich beyond belief in procurement at these inflated prices being that our dollar IS NOW at par with Canada—that’s NOT GOOD.

See the problem with this war is Bush can’t decide if this war is about fighting terrorism or corporatista contractors making money in procurement hand over fist with our devalued dollar and it makes for some very corrupt bedfellows. Bush has to decide which one it is, and my guess; the corporatists win out as that is the scorpion’s true nature (if I may borrow from an above post).

Carte Blanche powers is a favorite of the right, it’s how they see the presidential powers to be instinctively, being they really don’t know any better. Or for that matter see anything a mile up the road or think things through. Wait until the dems have those same powers—we’ll see how they like it then. I suspect a squeeky wheel orchestra from the right-wing. And don’t think we won’t come back into power eventually—we will at some point and the question is will we have the restraint?

Posted by: Novenge at May 14, 2006 10:41 AM
Comment #148071

ALSO DID YOU KNOW IT NOW COSTS 5.6 cents TO MAKE A NICKEL?!!!! THat is what happens when you erode a currency through deficit spending then attempt to balance it with foreign borrowing. It equals a shit sandwich for Americans. It’s CREDIT CARD culture really. WE think as long as you pay the premiums you are stable—WRONG! Debt can be recalled as asian banks can stop holding our notes if the debts rise too high and they have to sell them off.

BUT OFCOURSE THE MSM will blame them darned foreigners for it just like they do with our oil crisis. The value of OUR DOLLAR IS WHAT WE PURCHASE OIL WITH, must I hammer this point further? Our treasury policy is flawed and too export directed.

Posted by: Novenge at May 14, 2006 10:57 AM
Comment #148073

“I don’t expect Red and Blue to agree on social programs, foreign policy, or fiscal/monetary issues, to name just a few. But if you think the president can abridge the law when he wishes, you have stopped being a patriot.”

I think the RED side believes whatever they are told to beleive. I actually read a RED post (in response to hookergate) that it is none of our business who our representatives sleep with as long as they do their jobs correctly. (I’m still laughing over that one.) From everything I’ve read posted and seen on TV, the REDs want to change our Pledge Of Allegence to “One Nation under Bush…” Actually, given our VPs name, I think dick-tatorship is exactly what they want for the US… as long as it belongs to their guys.

Actually, I can’t beleive any group would be so morally-maluable, even the REPs/REDs - but they’ve offered absolutely no proof to the contrary.

I find it som amazing that this group, who has such issues with hate-laws and racial quotas would use the exact opposite logic to argue in favor of warrantless spying and pre-war intelligence blunderings. “The government has aboslutely no right to… well, OK they have every right to… It’s my America right to beleive however I want to… unless of course my party/Presidents say otherwise…”

And they’re the ones who call US communists.

Posted by: tony at May 14, 2006 11:32 AM
Comment #148074

Jack
You continue to amaze me. Just how thick are your rose colored glasses? What! They must be guilty or we would not of tortured them?Sounds like the Saddam defense. 20 million phone calls? If there are enough Al Queida in the US to even make that many calls we might as well get used to Sharia law.
You believe that to get rid of voter fraud a national ID is needed. To get rid of voter fraud a good start would be to demand a real paper trail on Diebold machines and put the Republican fixers like Harris in prison where they belong.

Posted by: BillS at May 14, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #148075

AP et al

I just do not believe the things the NSA did, as reported in the press, are important threats to our liberty.

I saw Newt Gingrige on Meet the Press this morning. He pointed out that none of the things were illegal, but that the Administration explains them badly. I agree.

The stakes are high. We could be talking about the deaths of millions of Americans. We should state it plainly. Do we want to not use technology to track terrorists? Do we want to be afraid for our privacy when we every day and many ways give up more privacy for the chance to win am MPP3 player.

Posted by: Jack at May 14, 2006 11:41 AM
Comment #148087

Patrick Henry, over 200 years ago said “Give me liberty or give me death” and the context of that speech clearly indicated he considered liberty to mean free of government intervention. He would be willing to take his chances with today’s terrorists rather than be subject to government or government mandated searches of our selves or our activities. The excuses today have been heard before by citizens who soon found themselves prisoners of autocratic dictatorships.

Posted by: Paul at May 14, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #148098

Paul

Government intervention. How do you think Patrick Henry would react to the myriad of regulations, rules goverment subsidies, affirmative action etc. How would he feel about gun control?

I think that if he found out that the Colonial government had gathered information on the French contacts with Virginians during the French and Indian War, he would not be surprised or alarmed.

He might also be as concerned with the terrorists and know we are in a struggle with the bad guys.

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Posted by: Jack at May 14, 2006 1:58 PM
Comment #148106

Jack-
You’re missing something here: The Democrats have never been in favor of not taking the fight to the enemy. Our major objection to the war is that it was the wrong opponent to go after, with Bin Laden and others still out there.

Our commitment to that is not false. It is not us saying “We, too…”. You and others like you have confused support of this president’s policies, and continued support of this war, with a support of this nation’s defense against its enemies.

If you’re asking “WWTFFD?”, someone should ask you back, “Which One?” They should also ask you whether it was the Founding Father’s intention to have future generations making church canon of their views, especially in the light of the civilizational shifts that have occured in the time since then.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 14, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #148112

No one on the left was worried for one second when Clinton instituted the “Echelon” program, which does with email, exactly what the NSA program does with phone calls. Your cries for “Liberty!” fall on deaf ears when everything else you support enslaves us to the Federal Gov’t. Oh yeah, I haven’t earned a dime for my family this year. So far I’m working for the Feds. Maybe my family will get a scrap or two when Washington is finished gorging themselves, or giving bonuses to CIA agents who actively subvert the policies of the Commander in Chief.

Posted by: David C. at May 14, 2006 4:00 PM
Comment #148113

It really troubles me to read through these posts listening to people constantly undermining the War on Terror…because there is one. People all too often forget about 9/11, how thousands of innocent Americans were killed on our soil by ruthless terrorists. If you don’t call that war than I don’t know what is.

And it perplexes me as to why people don’t want to stand up and fight, seek vengeance, for all the innocent civilians lost on 9/11.

The bottom line is that there is a real threat here, with cataclysmic consequences if we stop taking action. And I shudder to think what people like Al Gore, John Murtha and Howard Dean would do with the WOT if they ever got into office. I would feel a lot less safe.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at May 14, 2006 4:14 PM
Comment #148131

Alex,
No one has forgotten 9/11. It is nearly impossible to get over it, given the constant repetition of this mantra by the Bush White House.

Why are you living in fear? Why are you afraid? The “mastermind” of 9/11 was captured in 2003. Al Qaida no longer possesses an effective operational organization.

Think about it. How many attacks have occurred in the US since 2003? How many “terrorists” have been arrested? How many have been caught attempting to infiltrate US borders?

Alex, you know & I know that few, if any evildoers have been captured in the US. Among those- I am thinking here of the guy in Indiana who wanted to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch- among those, no “war” is necessary.

Did you know the Brits concluded their subway bombings had nothing to do with Al Qaida? The bombers were home grown wannabes who were upset about Iraq.

For all practical purposes, the War of Terror ended years ago. We are left prosecuting an aggressive intelligence operation. That is about it. And that is not a “war.” Not even close. A Predator firing a Hellfire missile into a mud hut in Afghanistan is simply not that significant in the larger scheme of things. (It hurts more than it helps when innocent women and children occupy the hut). And can anyone tell me how datamining has affected the so-called War of Terror?

We sought vengeance for 9/11 with the invasion of Afghanistan. Most people were behind it, both liberals & conservatives, Dems & Reps. We missed OBL, and I think everyone agrees we should redouble efforts to capture OBL & Zawahiri.

Cole,
Great comment. One of these days, we will put the long nightmare of the Bush administration behind us. At that point Republicans & Democrats can resume working together. We may not always agree, but a lot needs to be done. Chances are that people like Alex and I agree on far more than we disagree. When Bush Supporters can overcome the fear instilled in them by Bush & Rove & Cheney, and refocus, we might actually begin to re-address real issues in appropriate proportion to their importance.

Posted by: Phx8 at May 14, 2006 6:02 PM
Comment #148134

Phx8,

There havent been any terrorist attacks because we’ve taken the offensive and driven the terrorists back, but our job is not yet finished.

Leaving Iraq now, as fragile as it is, would only result in terrorists taking over the government. And that would be one more safe haven for the terrorists to regroup and concot their next plot. That is why maintaining order in Iraq is necessary to the WOT, or ”prosecuting an aggressive intelligence operation”, as you characterized it.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at May 14, 2006 6:18 PM
Comment #148137

Alex,
You write: “There havent been any terrorist attacks because we’ve taken the offensive and driven the terrorists back.”

Can you cite an example?

“Leaving Iraq now, as fragile as it is, would only result in terrorists taking over the government.”

The terrorists are in charge. It cannot be helped. For every death in a suicide bombing perpetrated by Sunnis, roughly nine are dying at the hands of Shia militia Death Squads. The Sunni victims are hogtied, tortured, and shot in the head. Dozens of bodies turn up daily. That is just the way it is, and the way it will be, until the Shias kill enough Sunnis to end all resistance. That will be out victory. Nasty & brutal, but there you go.

But Alex, think about it. How many Iraqis have ever been captured attempting an attack inside the US? The answer is zero. Nada. None. Zip. Zilch. How many have been caught infiltrating? How many were involved in 9/11? Zero. Not after the First Gulf War, and not in the current invasion & occupation. The problem is not Iraqis coming after the US. It never has been. The connection between the Iraq & terrorism is de minimis. There was never enough Iraqi involvement with terrorism to warrant invasion & occupation & the expenditure of thousands & thousands of lives & billions & billions of dollars, not even close. NOT EVEN CLOSE!


Posted by: phx8 at May 14, 2006 6:37 PM
Comment #148144

David C said:

Clinton instituted the “Echelon” program, which does with email, exactly what the NSA program does with phone calls.
Ahhh, the long-expected “Clinton did it, too” defense. The last refuge of the wrong wing.

David, there’s a big difference between the two programs: The NSA program doesn’t comply with FISA, but Eschelon did. Before any conversations of U.S. persons were targeted, a FISA warrant was obtained. Then-CIA director George Tenet testified to this before Congress on 4/12/00: “We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.” (source)

Posted by: ElliottBay at May 14, 2006 7:32 PM
Comment #148153

Jack

I know you are well studied in history from your previous post.I would like to respectfully suggest you read ,APeoples History Of The United States, by Howard Zinn. You would find it disturbing but a good read. Zinn is admittedly slanted but the book is a serious academic work,well footnoted with an extensive bibliography. For example he starts with Colombus’ landing from the point of view of the
inhabitants of the island he “discovered”.

As to Patrick Henry your quote seem vastly out of context. You also asked how he might react to several things. Would he have opposed government regulation to keep people from selling tainted meat or poison waterways. Probably not. Would he hate milk price supports to keep farmers in business and stabilize prices.I doubt it.Given his beliefs in the equality of men I doubt he would have had much trouble with affirmitive action. Gun control? I am not big on it either but laws preventing ten year olds from buying machineguns probably would not piss him off much.
He was a radical anti-monarchist. He believed in eqality of opportunity and most like ly would have opposed tax breaks for the wealthy and supported a confiscatory inheritance tax.
Sorry Jack. If Henry was alive today,and lord knows we need him, he would be a leftist Democrat.

Posted by: BillS at May 14, 2006 8:18 PM
Comment #148159

I believe Patrick Henry, as well as many of the Founders, would be surprised that the Grand Experiment has survived as long as it has.

I don’t think they would be surprised at how corrupt that experiment has become. Madison, Washington and Franklin all voiced concerns about the potential for a strong central government to usurp the soveriegn power of the people and become just that.

Posted by: ulysses at May 14, 2006 8:37 PM
Comment #148160

Alex-

It really troubles me to read through these posts listening to people constantly undermining the War on Terror? because there is one. People all too often forget about 9/11, how thousands of innocent Americans were killed on our soil by ruthless terrorists. If you don’t call that war than I don’t know what is.

Welcome to the real world, Neo. We haven’t forgotten. We never forgot. We just didn’t agree with you on Iraq, and to you, that represented forgetting. Given that we didn’t find the terrorists we were looking for when we first invaded (the hordes of al-Qaeda, you know) I think it’s accurate to say we didn’t forget a damn thing. We managed to remember better than you folks where the enemy truly was.

You blame the Democrats for this mess, but in truth, the President’s negligence in the cause, execution, and completion of this war are what created the mess. The role of the Democrats in the congress and senate was mainly that of doormats, too afraid to risk their political fortunes to question Bush’s plan or methods.

Bush paid for his carelessness with the failures of this war, and the failure to set the conditions from which we could more easily gain victory in it.

Frankly, I worry about the terrorist attack, and I remember that there were several years between the original WTC attacks, and the one that hit us that fateful day in September. So do I feel reassured? No.

We are on the defensive. They’re choosing when they attack and when they don’t more than we’re doing so for themselves.

I agree that we shouldn’t leave Iraq to its own devices, but I think Bush’s fiscal policy, foreign policy, and military policy are bringing us rather quickly to the point were we won’t have any choice but to do that.

The Republicans have unloaded the deferred dreams of the cold war onto the war on terrorism, breaking the bank on new weapons systems, even as our manpower is stretched to the breaking point. I don’t think the party members in Washington are really looking at this with a logistical mindset. Rather, they’re assuming jingoistic postures, then leaving the military to take up the slack. That includes the shameful episodes where our soldiers were having to weld scrap metal to their vehicles to armor them, the current manpower shortages, and the inability to keep our vehicles in reliable service over there.

How we can fight like this, bad strategy mixing with logistic stupidity, and shortsighted policy? The Republican party needs to remember how to fight a world in the real world, where budgets aren’t infinite, deficit spending has to be paid back, and armies that are not properly equipped and led, wasting the strength and training of the committed soldiers giving their lives.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 14, 2006 8:44 PM
Comment #148179
Leaving Iraq now, as fragile as it is, would only result in terrorists taking over the government.

There is no way that bin Laden or Zarqawi will ever take over the Iraqi government. You’re just drinking the kool-aid if you seriously believe that.

As for the spying, you Bush fans try to frame it as targeting terrorists, but collecting call records of tens of millions of innocent Americans does not target terrorists. It’s just aimless trolling and a clear violation of your rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Read it and weep.

When I get back to the States this summer, I will try to hook up with Qwest — the only com company that refused to hand over our records to the Bush administration without a warrant. If the program is necessary and legal, why doesn’t the Bush administration get a warrant?

And that goes for the ongoing illegal domestic phone tapping program (yes, these are two separate programs) as well.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 14, 2006 9:23 PM
Comment #148257
Jack, What law would need to be broke, what lie told that would convince you to say W is over the line?

If tonight, on Nationwide Television, George W. Bush came onstage and there murdered a Nun bny bludgeoning her to death with a Fireplace Poker, Jack and his fellow Conservatives would shake their heads sadly and remark, “Well, that damn Nun sure had it coming to her!”


BillS: Yay!


All: has it occurred to anybody what we HAVEN’T heard of? I mean, does anyone here really believe that this administration has been unable to cover everything up? How many Illegal / Immoral / Unconstitutional / Criminal / Evil things have we not yet heard anything about? Surely, there are some; surely there are some Things - out There - that we still have no inkling whatsoever about: maybe, the worst Things…

Wellwellwell… Food for thought, is it not?

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 8:01 AM
Comment #148319

Jack:

It is part of their duty to protect us from all enemies foreign and domestic.

No, Jack. The oath the president swears is to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. As for “all enemies foreign and domestic”, that is from either the oath of citizenship, the oath of office for the united states senate, or one of the armed forces oaths (possibly among others, I have not made an exhaustive search, but not part of the presidential oath in any respect) and specifically states they will “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. The Constitution and the law, NOT the people, are the subject of both oaths and the duties connected with them. If Bush is defending the people from “all enemies foreign and domestic” by simply ignoring aspects of the law or Constitution when they do not suit him, even in the name of defending us, he is in fact breaking his oath of office and becoming one of those domestic enemies of the Constitution that we are sworn to defend it from.

Posted by: Jarandhel at May 15, 2006 12:49 PM
Comment #148354

ElliotBay,
You missed my point. I’ll continue in spite of the shock. I didn’t say it was ok because Clinton did it, I said no one on the left ever complained about that program because there was a Democrat in office.

Good for Clinton, he went to FISA. Presidents before and after him have done that without going to FISA or any court for that matter. As Commander in Chief, that is their perogative. Actually their duty is more like it.

The sad part is, that the Military, those that did not quit in disgust, which is overwhelmingly conservative, followed orders and did their duty under Clinton, no matter how much they despised him and his politics. The CIA, which is largely socialist, does not do that. They seek to undermine Bush at every turn. Proving that socialists care more about their party, than they do the country.

When dealing with foreign threats the President does not need to go to FISA. Bush has at times, when he thought it was warranted. The NSA program does not listen to domestic phone calls. They use computers to search for patterns, or certain numbers. If they get a hit, they then, and only then get the specific records. If they feel a FISA court is neccessary, or timely, they use it. The socialists in Congress know this, they get briefed on it. What they say in public is a show designed to hurt Bush. If a few Americans die along they way, that’s a small price to pay for them to reaquire power.

Posted by: David C. at May 15, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #148365

Whoa, David, let’s get some facts straight: Total Information Awareness, Carnivore, and any number of ther programs that have been underway, either have had the plug pulled on them, or been shifted to other tasks because they were unconstitutional, as determined by Congress. Google it.

The NSA not only listens (ECHELON) but records, sifts, data-mines, spreadsheets and indexes you, up one side and down the other, which is a violation of the the charter of the NSA, which makes it illegal to monitor US citizens, period. They are tasked to monitor foreign traffic, not domestic. Anything else they may do domestically is not legal on its face.

The President has said repeatedly that his first duty is to provide for the “safety” of Americans. That is simply not true. His duty is to defend and protect the Constitution, which does not give him sneek-and-peek powers, in fact specifically forbids unwarranted searches and seisures.

Data-mining may have lots of precedents, but that argument is a red herring. What the government is doing NOW is the problem. Just because Mikey ate the goldfish does not give license for Georgie to do it too.

There are no excuses. If you lose sight of the details of the Bill of Rights you have lost sight of what America is all about.

When you catch a guy fishing in your private pond, you don’t need to determine if his activity is “illegal.” You just tell him to pack up his fishing rod and move along. As a free American citizen I am telling the government that they are engaging in activity which intrudes on my personal space, my “property,” if you will. Get off my land, pilgrim.

Anyway, this is a tough world, and we all proceed at “our own risk.”

I’m not a child, and I don’t need some snoop reading my mail, tracking my internet surfing habits, logging my telephone calls, whether they are Choicepoint or the United States government.

That’s why we have a Constitution, to lay out the rules of how this society is organized to keep bad behavior on the part of the government to a minimum.

Posted by: g randy primm at May 15, 2006 4:46 PM
Comment #148367

David C.-

Good for Clinton, he went to FISA. Presidents before and after him have done that without going to FISA or any court for that matter. As Commander in Chief, that is their perogative. Actually their duty is more like it.

FISA is the law. The Fourth Amendment is the law. I can see a president breaking that law in an emergency (as with Clinton’s ordering the search on Aldrich Ames), but otherwise, he is to uphold the law. Their duty isn’t to violate the constitution.

The sad part is, that the Military, those that did not quit in disgust, which is overwhelmingly conservative, followed orders and did their duty under Clinton, no matter how much they despised him and his politics. The CIA, which is largely socialist, does not do that. They seek to undermine Bush at every turn. Proving that socialists care more about their party, than they do the country.

So, you’re saying that political disagreement is a license for disobeying orders and practicing insubordination. Nice. Would you like them to take over when the people of the United States, those damn socialists, elect and re-elect the wrong man?

When dealing with foreign threats the President does not need to go to FISA. Bush has at times, when he thought it was warranted. The NSA program does not listen to domestic phone calls. They use computers to search for patterns, or certain numbers. If they get a hit, they then, and only then get the specific records. If they feel a FISA court is neccessary, or timely, they use it. The socialists in Congress know this, they get briefed on it. What they say in public is a show designed to hurt Bush. If a few Americans die along they way, that’s a small price to pay for them to reaquire power.

When dealing with any communication involving an American citizen, or which could potentially do so, he must go through FISA. Flatly stated, that is the law. It doesn’t matter if they were only handed the phone numbers and nothing else, because phone numbers are tied to names and addresses by their very natures. It’s no different, really, than them opening the phonebook and doing a physical search of every residence in it. There’s no warrant to determine the validity of the search done, so a politician could investigate his rivals and critics as easily and as secretly as he could go after terrorists.

In fact, it turns out, this is what Bush actually did.

As for that briefing for Congress, it was only of eight people, when it happened at all. FISA warrants can be attained retroactively, and they are necessary under the law.

What kind of conservative is one when the law doesn’t matter and you support a government can invade one’s privacy at will? I’m sorry, but an authoritarian police state is not what I think of when I think of folks defending my freedom.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #148369

Least surprising story of the day: The NSA datamining operation is being used to muzzle the press. Reporters are having the numbers on their cell phones checked. The datamining did not work well for actually catching terrorists, but it is pure gold for suppressing any press sources outside the sanctioned releases of the government.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/05/federal_source_.html

Maybe, instead of calling us “liberals,” the government could start referring to us as “dissidents.”

Posted by: phx8 at May 15, 2006 5:12 PM
Comment #148370

Good spot phx8,

I just saw that article, too. Obviously, it’s not just about Al Qaeda. If this doesn’ concern you, you ARE the enemy of freedom.

Posted by: gergle at May 15, 2006 5:20 PM
Comment #148529

Jarandhel: a most excellent rebuttal!

gergle: Yup. Conservatism is a Threat. To Liberty. To Life. To the Planet itself. It must be confronted and stamped out, or at the very least watched carefully and prevented from the halls of Power.

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #148628

Betty Burke-
The threat is the believe that anybody in this Democracy needs to save it from itself. If you only look out there, you will see people on both sides of the aisle who hate what our government has become. The forces of moderation are lashing back against the political fanatics.

I would not have us become the replacements for those fanatics, bending the government back too far the other way. I would just as soon we learn the lesson of our predecessors and willingly embrace calm, moderation, and bipartisanship.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 16, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #148632
The CIA, which is largely socialist…

LOL! See, this is what I dearly love about internet forums. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at May 16, 2006 12:27 PM
Comment #148882

Continuing that Thought, AP, let’s look at what Stephen said:

If you only look out there, you will see people on both sides of the aisle who hate what our government has become.

Yeah - but what the Conservatives hate about the Bush Administration is that they don’t think he is Conservative enough!

They hate that his Immigration Plan allows for “amnesty”…

They hate that he hasn’t cut Services more

They hate that he hasn’t had Cindy Sheehan rendered to Guantanamo…

And the one thing that some of them agree with me upon - and that’s only the “libertarian” wing of Conservatives - is the NSA Spying thing: to which their biggest objection is that it was reported the Lists were paid for

They don’t hate:

- The outing of Valerie Wilson for Political Payback,

- The “clear skies” initiative and the plan to drill in ANWR,

- The Elective War in Iraq and the consequences thereof,

- The Secret CIA Torture-Prisons,

- The “vanished” Halliburton Billions,

- The Tax-Cuts for the Wealthy and the Corporate Welfare,

- The “signing statements” subverting the U.S. Constitution,

- The Coup Of 2000, subverting the U.S. Constitution and Civil Rights,

- The Vote-Rigging in 2004, subverting the U.S. Constitution,

- The Unfunded Mandate of “No Child Left Behind,”

- So many *MORE* that I can’t be arsed to shove in front of your face right now.

This is a Criminal Conspiracy operating under cover of Authority: they should all be convicted under the RICO Statute and do hard time in Leavenworth!

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 17, 2006 7:57 AM
Comment #148943

The problem with your argument is the sense in it that you treat all conservatives as being the same. True, some don’t think he goes far enough, but there is evidence that many also think he’s gone too far.

The other problem is that you don’t make a distinction between Conservative government officials and the folks back home. A recent media study actually conclude that GOP leaders are to the right of most of their constituents.

What we have here is a far-right political machine hanging on by fingernails of single-issue and independent voters who only identify with the GOP because it does such a good job of convincing folks that we don’t support their interests.

These are people we could yank back to supporting or at least keeping out of the way of our party, if we only saw fit to engaged them properly. If the Democrats take enough of the center right from the Republicans, the GOP’s current crop of leaders, which anchors it’s majority in them, will fall right off the edge they’ve been perch on for so long.

Your trouble is that you don’t see your beliefs and the atrocities you describe as requiring explanation. You seem to move forward with the notion that if they don’t get it immediately, they’re somehow morally deficient. The reality is that many of these people have had a version of events drilled into them that only patient, fact-based argumentation can extract. Do it any other way, and you confirm the stereotype of Liberals as the irrational ones.

Bit by bit, we’re succeeding. Our point of view is working, in no small part on the vindication of our facts, and the confirmation of our interpretations, laid down by any number of calm, fact concerned political writers out there, not to mention the media.

You’re really taking too much of the work and the credit onto yourself for what you do. What’s really happening out there is happening between the ears of the folks listening to us. If we take them for granted, or attempt to impose our beliefs on them without explanation, that has an effect on how people view the rest of what we tell them.

Believe me, Betty, your list has been well covered on this site, especially by me. I couldn’t have totaled as many blog entries as I have, without hitting on many of these subjects at least once.

We don’t have to force this consensus. Our hard work and the course of events are bringing it forward without the need for too much browbeating from we humble writers.

I think my main concern is that I don’t launch into the stratosphere on my claims without there being some factual basis for doing so. The more we make overheated charges without the facts to supplement things, the more we jump on news items without fully understanding them, the more we expose ourselves to the Republican’s current vulnerability, which is that their stories are more spin than fact. Once interpretations start to override facts, trust and confidence in our message will diminish.

We keep our feet on the ground, you could say, so we don’t fall flat on our face into it instead.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 12:36 PM
Comment #149205

If everybody has their pressure points, as I previously wrote, then people also have their breaking points. Katrina was a breaking point for many people. It’s one thing to screw up on a war outside one’s territory, but to be unable to resolve a problem like this in our own country is just humiliating.

What we should be in the business of doing is making it easier for people to reach their own breaking points. You’re obviously past yours, as I was by January 2004, but many people still fear more the collapse of conservative rule in the country than they fear the results of what happens if Bush remains unopposed. Your error is in thinking that this is a static situation.

It isn’t. This is about stress. It is easier on oneself to be a Democrat, than it is to be Republican. A Liberal, at this point, can passionately support their cause without reserve.

A typical conservative, though, has the weight of Bush’s failures and the unavoidable truth of his screw-ups. It doesn’t get better for them, because so many times they have bought the White House or Legislative line from the GOP, only to find that the sentiments of the other side were true. What I try to do, is give these people good reason to finally let their troubled, burdened loyalty to the current Republican System break.

Part of what I want to do is convince people that being a Patriot and Religious person is not a barrier to being a Democrat. It is also not necessarily the reserve of those who simply lack the commitment necessary to be Republicans. It can very well be a strong, powerful point of view on the world.

Intimidated by the gains of Republican politics, and wounded from the painful divisions of the 60s and 70s, The Modern Democratic Party have had a tough time of things, and as a result, some of our politics has gotten weak. We turned to consultants, to those who had more charisma than assertiveness on the issues, and defeat by defeat we ceded territory as permanently conservative.

For all the negatives of what Bush has done, he’s done us the favor of making himself an excellent villain. Now a villain doesn’t have to be necessarily evil. No, a villain can be a good or average person who simply stops registering at some point that there are things one just can’t do. Bush plays a good villain, because he is combative, stubborn, and in command of all too much power. He doesn’t compromise, and has all too little value for human life in practice.

He’s succeeded in uniting a large part of the country against him. His isolation from outside reasoning, his stubborn maintenance of his policies despite their disasterous effects, and his poorly concealed antagonism and contempt of the other side makes many people regard him as a threat to America and its future. Best of all, his party has made the mistake of supporting him for far too long without asking questions.

Why am I optimistic, why do I not fret and panic?

Because in the end, Bush has done most of the hard work of breaking the power of the Republican party for us. Focusing on belligerence towards the GOP is useless. They’ve made themselves hateful to the rest of the country, even to their own supporters.

The Real question now, is whether we can stand up and give America a new heart and soul to replace the one so battered and bruised by all the fighting and partisan rancor. We cannot heal this nation without a spirit of forgiveness, of purpose that goes above and beyond our identity as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, or whatever else we might think of ourselves at. We are all human, all mortal, and all want a future for this country better than the present world it faces.

We’ve gotten too afraid of the future in this country. We’ve been reminded by the events of the last few years, and the trials this administration has put us through that there are things worth fighting and dying for beyond ourselves, and that there are principles that we have to stand for to preserve our dignity and prosperity.

So what I aim to do is encourage people to believe in something bigger than themselves. I can’t get small about that if I hope to achieve anything.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2006 11:57 AM
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