Democrats & Liberals Archives

Democracy Keeps America Safe

Contrary to what Bush and his fellow conservatives have been saying, that we must choose between security and freedom, some Europeans are telling us to stick to our freedoms. They say that it’s the freedom we allow all immigrants to rise as high as they can that keeps America safer from terrorists than Europeans are.

Lately people have been asking, How come there are so many jihadist attacks in Europe and none in the U.S.? Here's the answer of a German:

Karl-Heinz Kamp, the security policy coordinator at Germany's prestigious Konrad Adenauer research center, said it was easy to understand why.

"The U.S. has a historical advantage; America is still the land of opportunity to the whole world. The people moving there believe the American dream of social mobility," he said. "In Europe, we've historically treated our immigrants as hired help, and waited for them to finish the work they arrived for and go home."

While we tear our freedoms to shreds foreigners tell us that our freedoms are the basis for our security! Ever since 9/11, we have been making it harder for foreigners to visit U.S. and to go to our colleges and universities. We have been making it tougher on immigrants, both legal and illegal. Instead of welcoming foreigners we shoo them away - in the name of security!

I have said it before: the best way to maintain our security is not to take our freedoms away but to make them stronger. I say it now again. This terrific point that


cannot be overemphasized. We Americans tend to forget it. But here is a German leader reminding us of the most valuable value Americans possess: freedom.

In the end it is American democracy that clothes us with the many freedoms that keep all of us secure.

Sure, we may be attacked. But even if we are, it will be the many freedoms we possess that will keep us strong. Furthermore, it will be our freedoms that will encourage foreign admirers, like Kamp, to come to our aid.

Posted by Paul Siegel at July 10, 2007 3:09 PM
Comment #225688

We can’t just let anyone into this country. From your post I take it that you just want to open up our borders and place a welcome mat by them. It was the lack of security that caused 9/11. WE NEED THE SECURITY SO THAT WE HERE IN THE USA CAN ENJOY THE FREEDOMS WE HAVE.

Posted by: KAP at July 10, 2007 4:41 PM
Comment #225689


There is a difference between logical common sense security and mindbogglingly stupid overreaching insane security.

For example, if everyone had a camera installed into their forehead and were linked to a central monitoring station, I daresay that most violent crime and nearly all non-violent crime would disappear instantly! We would be secure. But would we be free?

The fact is, many of the freedoms that we’ve given up over the past 20 or 30 years (this isn’t a since 9/11 trend, though 9/11 didn’t help) are both not working and not necessary. They are in place to make people FEEL like they are doing something for our security but in actuality they usually make them worse. For example, get rid of guns, that will make us safe! The reality is that easier access to guns by RESPONSIBLE citizens helps reduce crime, not the prevention of these people from having access to those guns.

Trying to travel in the air is a complete pain these days. But why? I can honestly say that I don’t see how another 9/11 hijacking could occur. The end result of any attempt from now on will result in the same fate as the 4th plane. It will never make it to its destination. The days of ‘if you are hijacked just do what they say and you’ll be ok’ are over. So anyone wanting to hurt us will have to use a different way. Knowing that, why do we insanely search every individual for the smallest of possible weapons? It’s moronic.

BUT, it makes people feel like we’re doing something, that we’re ‘secure’. We will never be as secure as we COULD be, so we have to choose a good medium between the two, and IMO because we were built on the idea of freedom from our government’s power of force, we should err on the side of freedom.

We are absolutely not there at the moment.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 10, 2007 4:50 PM
Comment #225690

I agree with every thing you wrote but the way I take what Paul wrote is that we should just open our borders to anyone who comes knocking. I do think that we need to be a little choosey of who we let in.

Posted by: KAP at July 10, 2007 5:08 PM
Comment #225693

Pretty rare that I agree with Paul, but he is bang-on here… not that we need some European telling us this… but the German does make a point.

It is our freedom that makes our country so great. I see those freedoms slowly, over a much longer time than just the Bush Adminsistration, being eroded away.

I am not about to say that we are living in a police state. We Americans still, by FAR, enjoy more freedoms than just about anyone on the face of the planet, if not everyone. It could be a lot worse, so I will not bore all of you with doomsday talk about how G-dub has taken away all of our civil liberties, but

Rhinehold is correct above… we tend to sit back and take what the government does to make us feel safe, even if it does not actually make us any safer… meanwhile, little by little, our freedoms are indeed being infringed upon, if not taken away altogether.

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said “those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve niether.”

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 10, 2007 5:13 PM
Comment #225697

This post is hilarious. Just what type of freedom is the German person talking about? Certainly not economic freedom. Have you even visited Europe, especially Germany, France and England. To quote a European about “American Freedom” is about as insane as quoting OBL on security. I have even read of liberal judges saying we should consider European law when making decisions in the U.S. as though our constitution was insufficient for the task. Many of you are the same folks who favor dumping our financial freedom in favor of some wild chase for global enviromental normalcy. Can any one of you tell me what is the normal temperature of the world? Or when was the world’s population just right? Or what diet is the best for people, no meat, lots of carbs, low protein, etc. I hear this clamor of voices demanding “normalcy” and have yet to hear the definition. Do any of you ever watch the local TV weather man/woman? We’re below normal for temp and rain, we’re above normal for rain and temp, what does that mean? Nothing, because normal doesn’t exist except in your feeble minds. I read constant jibes about our economy and yet it is historically one of the best economies in the nation’s history. Our water, air quality, schools, hospitals are constantly improving and yet no credit is given unless your man is in the White House. How shallow. How hypocritical! All of you need a good dose of depression era living to get your attitudes adjusted.

Posted by: Jim at July 10, 2007 5:52 PM
Comment #225702

Whoa… Jim… buddy… that was quite the rant. I basically agree with you as to the questioning of the European talking about American freedom, but Paul was simply using it to make a point. As to all of the other stuff you pointed out… I would prefer to not live through a depression, thank you very much.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 10, 2007 6:13 PM
Comment #225704

Paul, well, the Europeans appear to be acutely ignorant of the two oceans that bound our country from, and make travel damned inconvenient and troublesome for, terrorists born out of the Middle East. Britain is a much more accessible Western Civilization target.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2007 6:47 PM
Comment #225705

Doug, you’re right, that was a rant and I apologize for losing my composure for a brief time. My entire working life has been spent in sales and communication and logic and reason has served me well. Perhaps I should not read these blogs any longer as many of them are very upsetting. I don’t tolerate idiots well and that is a fault I will probably die with. The constant barrage of calling this, or any American President an idiot, traitor, panderer, nazi or worse just takes a toll after awhile. Some of our greatest presidents, and recognized as such by most people, have on occasion when the situation demanded, exercised presidential power that was also questioned at the time. Later, those decisions were justified. None of us is graced with the power of seeing the future. The real consensus of history on the last three or four presidents has yet to be written. Quoting Ben Franklin when it suits the writer’s ideas is hypocritical unless it is applied evenly. I wonder if Paul understands that our Constitution does not require us to commit suicide. Even Ben would agree with that.

Posted by: Jim at July 10, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #225707

Jim… actually, I was the one that quoted B-Frank… and I absolutely stand by that. It is certainly not only this president that has done all of the eroding of our basic libertis… And I certainly agree that history has yet to judge G-Dub… heck… how would history have judged FDR had we done a pre-emptive strike on Hitler? We would have never known of the atrocities he would have committed. Like you, I have no patience for baseless name-calling and knee-jerk Bush-hating (or Pelosi-hating, for that matter) just for the heck of it… but

That quote from Benny? It absolutely rings true…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 10, 2007 7:08 PM
Comment #225710

Will the last American standing please scrawl on a wall somewhere, “We died protecting freedom, not ours, theirs!”

Posted by: Jim at July 10, 2007 7:38 PM
Comment #225717

The terrorists feed off of anger, in particular the anger that is created when one is encouraged to keep to one’s own people and culture, yet criticized, excluded and bashed for that culture at the same time. They take that sense of exclusion, and use it to inspire hatred, resentment, and the willingness to strike back at those cultures, humiliate and terrorize them.

Folks here, though, face far fewer barriers, so they invest in us and we in them. They become part of our society, and so take our interests as theirs. An attack on us is an attack on them.

When we edge towards a police state, we hand the advantages to two kinds of people: the powerful, who will often cover their asses when their plans fail, and those who can rile people up to defy that state based on the draconian measures applied to people.

Russia is no beacon of Democracy, and civil liberties are much less important there, yet these people have much more to fear from domestic terrorism, and have seen terrible loses as a result. Taking a hardline position on security does not ensure real security. In the meantime, you have a society that takes a lot fewer good intentions between people on faith, and that can wear on people.

America doesn’t need to hand more power to the powerful to protect itself. It needs to get smarter about how it approaches security with the strength it has.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 10, 2007 8:41 PM
Comment #225723

It is good to know that you think the U.S. is more democratic than Europe, but the German made no comment about how easy or hard it is to get in. He did not even really comment about democracy. It is the free market that gives people jobs and keeps their idle hands from becomming the devil’s workshop.

Posted by: Jack at July 10, 2007 10:07 PM
Comment #225731

Doug, the Ben Franklin quote is: “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

That is a much more nuanced quote than merely saying that freedom is more important than security, that security doesn’t matter and every minor thing that somebody considers a “freedom” must always be preserved.

What if I said I consider it one of my freedoms to shoot skeet at the neigborhood playground? Doesn’t the safety and security of others take precedence over my freedom?

Franklin leaves open the possibility of giving up inessential freedoms for temporary security. According to that quote, he also leaves open the possibility of giving up “essential” freedoms for permanent security.

But he is DEFINITELY not saying that inessential freedoms must never be given up for permanent security.

First of all, I do not consider it to be (as Paul seems to) anybody’s “essential freedom” to violate immigration laws and treat national borders as if they do not exist. Foreign nationals have no more “essential freedom” to behave this way than I have the freedom to go into my neighbor’s house while he’s away and eat his food or sleep in his bed.

But I do consider it impossible to have anything resembling either temporary OR permanent security if we don’t monitor AND place limits on who can come into this country and WHAT they can do while they’re here.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 10, 2007 11:20 PM
Comment #225738

Loyal Opposition,

There is a difference between ‘opening the borders and ignoring the laws’ than ‘irrationally get xenophobic and make it nearly impossible for people who genuinely want to come to the US for legitimate purposes and who would be an asset to legally go through the process’.

What we have now is the latter, not the former. That does *NOT* mean I am ok with illegal immigration, just the opposite. I don’t see the point in irrationally making it harder to enter so that more and more people decide to go the illegal route to enter.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 10, 2007 11:41 PM
Comment #225744

Rhinegold, the US admits between 800,000 to a million legal immigrants a year. Roughly equivalent to the population of the entire state of Montana. That’s a LOT of people. Enough that it doesn’t sound “impossible” at all for people to immigrate here legally.

So how many more do we need to admit before we can stop being accused of being “irrationally xenophobic?” Two million? Five million? Ten million? What would it take?

I have no problem with legal immigration either, and I think it’s a cheap shop to suggest that anybody who wants to enforce immigration laws or protect the security of our country by monitoring our borders is somehow racist and filled with some kind of “irrational xenophobia.”

But I want to take issue with this idea from another angle entirely.

I do not believe that is ANYONE’S fundamental human right to immigrate to this country either legally or illegally, and the onus should not be on us to make it easier or more convenient. Or that it’s OUR fault that people break the law because following the law is hard. Getting US citizenship if you were not born here should NOT be as easy as buying a Happy Meal at McDonalds. So what if it’s difficult? It’s difficult to become a millionaire too, but that doesn’t mean that the banks should just start handing out money to whoever asks for it.

There are great benefits for all of us to allow immigration at a certain level (I don’t deny this), but I totally and completely reject the notion that illegal immigration is a result of our failure to make legal immigration easy.

Legal immigration is a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s good for us, and its VERY good for the person receiving it. But it is simply not our responsibility to give it to everybody who wants it or to make the process easy, automatic, or even convenient.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 11, 2007 12:14 AM
Comment #225746

LO… Thanks for the exact quote… I think I took mine as it is from a rap song or something… I’ll change the attribution of that quote from Franklin to Talib Kweli… But the premise remains true.

Also, the skeet shooting at a playground example holds no water at all… of course no one would argue the freedom to do that takes precedence over the security of those at the playground and suggesting that I would think so is just silly… it’s a bad analogy. The central idea of true freedom is not anarchy, as you would suggest, but rather it is living freely while recognizing the freedoms and rights of others. Of course ‘shooting skeet’… as you put it… at children playing in a playground does not recognize the rights of those children to be free from having ‘skeet’ shot at them. Silly…

Why, whenever a libertarian talks about civil liberties and rights, do right wingers come up with these ridiculous, off the wall scenarios as if they prove something? I don’t get it.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 11, 2007 12:44 AM
Comment #225747

Oh… and I mainly agree with most of everything else you said. Although I personally don’t see illegal immigration as the world-ending catastrophe so many others do, I do agree with your premise that we are under no obligation to make immigration, legal or otherwise, as easy as ‘buying a happymeal’.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 11, 2007 12:48 AM
Comment #225753

Sorry to “invade” on this topic, but thought some might find this article interesting, to say the least. There doesn’t seem to be an end to the way this administration has flaunted its’ power, and ignored laws.

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at July 11, 2007 1:19 AM
Comment #225756

Doug, the analogy is meant to be ridiculous, and if you find it ridiculous it’s because you agree with me than there are cases in which security properly takes precedence over perceived “freedoms.”

It’s an important principle which was not reflected in your misquotation of Franklin which seemed to hold that abstract ideas of “freedom” should always take precedence over abstract ideas of “security” without weighing the consequences in regard to real-life situations. I think we agree about this, so let me ask a question.

To bring this all down to earth and be concrete instead of abstract:

What freedoms has George W. Bush stripped from any of us in his quest for security? It would be nice to see this question answered in a way which was not abstract. How are any of our lives less free than before he came into office? Is it that we no longer enjoy the rights of habeas corpus when we’re picked up on the battlefield fighting for Al Qaida in Afghanistan or Iraq? Is that’s what pissing us off? Is it that our phones are being tapped when by the NSA when we make phonecalls to our jihadist friends overseas?

I know it cramps my style, but I’d like to hear more real life stories from others about how this administration has plunged us into a police state where we don’t enjoy precious freedoms which we held so dear before it came to power.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 11, 2007 1:38 AM
Comment #225757

Rhinehold, the single greatest contributor to the rise in taxes and size of government is WHAT? Population increase. No other factor creates nearly as much demand pressure on government growth than population increases.

Additionally, while our nation is large and beautiful, its habitable zones are finite and cannot be infinitely expanded without either laying waste to its natural beauties or driving the cost of living for land space significantly higher, a trend we have been witnessing without check or balance in most of our cities, suburbs, and farms and ranches near population centers.

Therefore, I must to beg to differ with you on the wisdom of creating significant or unchecked open legal immigration processes that significantly increase our population. To do so, would be to ask for many of the problems China, India, and S. American nations and Mexico now have to struggle with. That is a very, very wrong path for America to take, and as the defeat of the amnesty bill proved, a very wrong path for Americans who have a stake in land ownership in this country and vested interest increasing quality of life standards for their children, not diminishing them which unchecked or out of balance population growth creates.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 11, 2007 1:42 AM
Comment #225765
Franklin leaves open the possibility of giving up inessential freedoms for temporary security.

I have no idea what an inessential freedom is? That you are willing to give up your own freedoms, or sacrifice portions of the Constitution as it affects you, may be noble from your viewpoint. But I thought what made us Americans, was our willingness to fight and defend our Constitution and the freedom it describes. No where in the Constitution does it say, these are your freedoms, unless you are scared or you feel threatened.

Posted by: Cube at July 11, 2007 2:24 AM
Comment #225766

LO… If your analogy was meant to be ridiculous then you hit it on the nose…

“if you find it ridiculous it’s because you agree with me than there are cases in which security properly takes precedence over perceived “freedoms.””

You could not be more wrong. Again, the central idea of freedom in America is that the freedoms one enjoys do not come at the expense of the freedoms of another. If we agree that this principle is true (your playground and skeet shooting example would not apply here), I can think of no case in which security takes precedence over constitutionally guaranteed (as opposed to your notion of ‘perceived’) freedoms. Please… enlighten me.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 11, 2007 2:25 AM
Comment #225786

Legal imigrants are a strength. Illegal imigrants are criminals. Since I support the process of making law in this conutry i believe we are obligated to enforce them. Simple really.
PS, ask France how that imigration thing is going since the 5000 cars were burned by non similating musmims.

Posted by: john in Texas at July 11, 2007 9:02 AM
Comment #225850

Europeans have different freedoms than we do. They do not have to live with the effects of centuries of puritanical nonsense, we do not have to live with the residual effects of aristocratic government.

Posted by: ohrealy at July 11, 2007 2:18 PM
Comment #225873

L.O. and Jim:

Thank you. Your points are right on the mark.

I am sick of the tired lament that GWB and his cronies are stripping us of all of our freedoms. Once and for all I would love for someone to tell me PRECISELY what freedoms we have given up.

The only two eluded to in the opening post was gun control, which has been under assault for as long as I can remember. Gun rights have more enemies than GWB. And as pointed out, gun control makes us less free than when law abiding citizens are allowed to have guns. The other example of freedom lost is security at the airport taking little knives. Are you serious? Is this all you have?

Posted by: Beirut Vet at July 11, 2007 3:16 PM
Comment #225968

Ohrealy, it would come as a great surprise to Europeans—who lived through hundreds of years when the power of the church was indistinguishable from that of the state and where those who prayed at the wrong churches and read the wrong books were routinely burned at the stake—that it is us, not they, who have lived through centuries of “puritanical” nonsense.

It’s extremely ironic that the word “puritanical” should be used since the actual Puritans who fled to America were not exactly fleeing the moral permissiveness that’s come to be identified with Europe over say, the last 75 years, and were actually fleeing the death and persecution that came with not adhering to the state-sanctioned religions.

Remember that the idea of the separation of church and state was actually an American innovation.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 12, 2007 12:37 AM
Comment #226017

I am aware of European history. I am talking about the present and using puritanical in the modern sense, not in the 16th or 17th century sense.

Posted by: ohrealy at July 12, 2007 11:39 AM
Comment #226062

This is the biggest meaningless buzz-word we have here in America. You think you are FREE? Try going to the beach (you will be greeted by a huge list of things you are not allowed to do), building a house (permits, inspections, ordinances…) etc etc etc…we are the most rule-bound, over-regulated country on earth. I travel…a LOT! And I can tell anyone that we are NOT FREE HERE! This is the Land of NO…whatever you want to do, the answer is “NO”… it’s against the laws, rules, ordinances, regulations, etc etc. You no longer have any privacy. The government is sniffing every aspect of your life. YOU ARE ONLY FREE TO LIVE EXACTLY LIKE THE REST OF THE HERD AND DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD. So stop bullshitting yourself.

Posted by: capnmike at July 12, 2007 3:21 PM
Comment #226075

capnmike, in the political context, freedom means governance with the consent of the people, and the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and other guaranteed liberties or freedoms emanating from the U.S. Constitution. Freedom NEVER was used in the founding of this nation to mean anarchy, or freedom to endanger the lives, liberties, property, or pursuit of happiness of others. Hence, the rules, laws, and regulations, most of which orginated from American citizens filing complaints and getting a response from government.

You ARE Free to endeavor to change the rules, laws, regulations which you feel are unjust, but, it will be a futile exercise if the majority of the rest of your fellow citizens don’t agree with you.

I empathize with what you are saying. I have had many hurdles to jump in order to build my own house with my own two hands, and have yet one or two more to jump to acquire a mortgage loan on the finished home. Many punitive measures were launched against me as well, such as insurance rates more than double that for a house built by stick frame contractor.

Still, for the time being, I prefer to live here in the U.S. than any other country on earth, because for the time being, this is still the best nation for me and my family’s pursuits. I would guess you feel the same. So, the choices are to fight unfair rules, laws, or regulations, live with them and pay them little heed to keep one’s blood pressure under control, or leave this heavily regulated nation for a lesser one, and their are many. This too is one of America’s great bounties, so many choices. Many people in many other nations don’t have these options to choose for themselves.

And these choices constitute in large part, the consent of the governed, which gives our government legitimacy, rules, regulations and laws altogether.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 12, 2007 4:01 PM
Comment #226099

Uummm… ditto what David said…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at July 12, 2007 7:05 PM
Comment #226124


Listen to what David is saying. It is the rule of law that gives you and will ensure your freedoms. Without them, we would live in anarchy.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at July 12, 2007 9:54 PM
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