Things That Run Through My Mind, As I Peruse the News

Just wondering …

… when the ankle biters that do nothing but criticize President Bush for taking bold steps to protect Amercians, that some see as hazy in a legal sense — and that is always an unresolved question in these stories — will actually, you know, develop a spine, grow a pair, and come up with something like a plan, a policy, a f*cking foggy notion of what would work better to protect Americans, who are the people that the President is elected to serve?

Hmmmmmm?

Talk about nattering nabobs of negativism. It’s always “Bush’s way is illegal” or “Bush lied, people died” or “pass the bong”.

Instead of making their case, using reasoned argument delivered in a reasonable manner, the ankle biters rely on righteous anger, protest marches with ridiculous signs, and sometimes even, in a shocking display of poor taste, Sen. Ted Kennedy speaking in public.

Criticism of a president is expected. I voted for Bush twice — though the first time was just barely an endorsement, since I didn’t know that much about him, and 9/11 had yet to occur — but I find things to criticize about him, too. He is actually coming under quite a bit of criticism from conservatives for various policies, especially immigration and government spending. Criticism just comes with the territory. Especially when you talk like he does.

But what we have today is not criticism. When the default basis for your argument is always “how are we protecting our enemies that want to kill us”, you are taking the other side. Similarly, when the default basis is always “individual liberty trumps all security concerns”, you are using the Constitution as a suicide pact.

The fact is, we are in a war. And there are only, in fact, two sides in a war. There is no soft gray middle, despite the fervent wish for a comforting mushy quasi-position by the Jimmy Carters of the world.

Not taking your own side in a war is a good way to get dead.

So if it is not criticism, what is it? And whatever it is, why must it live on every freaking day in the constant mention of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, Guantanamo, the “secret” CIA flights into Europe that now no European security chief can confirm, “illegal” and “preemptive” war, and probably most of all, the imagined rights of enemy combatants captured while fighting under no sovereign flag and wearing no uniform and using school children for cover during gun battles.

Here’s what I think it is: hysterical nihilism masquerading as criticism. And it all centers on a very central question that we as a country need to answer for ourselves, because it has been asked by evil men on 9/11/2001: how serious are we about defending ourselves against an enemy that will, by all available evidence, stop at nothing?

In response to this question, some of us have developed resolve and national unity, while others of us have gone completely stark raving bonkers.

  • Elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats — nominally American — so desperate to gain political advantage, they toss national security over the side.
  • A media that has lost any sense of moral bearing, and has forgotten that their right to print half-baked factually-challenged stories is protected by the very government — and in a very real sense, by the very military personnel — that they so love to exploit to criticize the leader of that government.

Let us put all of our cards on the table now.

Our country is ill-served by all this hysteria.

Security is important. Especially in the age of terrorism. Nobody wants the streets of New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlants, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, and countless other places to start exploding with shrapnel and body parts, as a result of suicide bombers (or worse). Right? Let’s assume we all agree on that.

So, as a liberal democracy, we have a limited number of ways to combat the insidious evil that is terrorism. We have terrorists living in our country today — or more accurately, people in the United States who were being called from the phones of terrorists whom we have picked up overseas. Hundreds that we know about, probably thousands that we don’t.

Relying on law enforcement and the criiminal court system to handle this threat, with all of the shackles placed on them by do-gooders over the last 40+ years, is asking for trouble. We could, instead, do as the Europeans do, and let the terrorists foment all the hatred they want, to avoid confrontation, and hope they go away. Tihis has no possible expectation of success.

Or, we could do as Bush chose to do: become proactive, work around existing and outdated legal limits while being careful not to abuse them, and keep a watchful eye on those we have reason to believe are either out to do us harm, or in league with those who might.

Whether one agrees with the approach Bush has taken is actually not the point. I happen to think he is right, but I respect those who disagree with it, as long as they make it clear that they support two important ideas: protecting Americans, and at least the possibliity that Bush’s position is the best of a bad lot.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much evidence of those two things.

George Orwell invented a term for those who take positions that directly contradict their nominal support for freedom: “objectively pro-Fascist”. It’s a good term; intellectually honest, eyes wide open. In today’s world, he would have to change it to objectively pro-terrorist.

I’ve been watching this political slugfest take place for years now, every since 9/11. And I’ve had enough.

The debate about security vs. personal freedoms is a serious question deserving serious discussion, not a political football used to score ratings points and drive a discussion — that we need to have — straight into the ground.

This inability — or is it closer to refusal? — to properly frame a discussion of such vital importance is, quite simply, an abdication of the responsibilities of both the media and the politicans.

It needs to stop. Now.

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