Concerning Bush and Terror:
Ben, in the opening weeks of Bush’s presidency the first order of business was to dismantle or severely hamstring any on-going policies and task-forces that Clinton had left in place, or began towards the end of his second term. Examples include scaling back the anti-exploitation legislation of the Alaskan Reserves, revoking a good number of EPA guidelines and penalties, hamstringing the National Forestry Service, killing a number of family planning initiatives (both foreign and domestic), and killing a good number of law-enforcement task forces. Any guesses what area was hit the hardest by this? That’s right, anti-terror units.
Clinton dedicated a great deal of resources towards combating terrorists in his last 3 years as president. Not only had Clinton unsuccessfully lobbied a Republican Senate for legislative permission to have bin Laden killed (at a time when we knew exactly were he was, no less), he created innumberable (and effective) task-forces within the NSA, CIA, and FBI dedicated solely to investigating and preventing terrorist activities. Bush killed almost every single one of those task-forces. Bush also pulled out of the major international task-forces that we were participating in. The outrage among the agents involved was tremendous and many went on record to state that we were almost certainly looking at a major attack in the near future. One of these incensed agents was John O?Neill, the head of the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism department. O’Neil, who investigated the Cole bombing in Yemen, as well as the first WTC bombing, was (rightly) convinced that the World Trade Center would once again be attacked and was furious that the Bush administration wouldn’t take heed of his department’s warnings, nor allow him to actively stop such an attack. He was so sure of an imminent strike that he retired from the FBI in August of 2001 in protest, taking a job as chief of security for the twin towers. No small number of agents followed his example.
John O’Neil was killed on September 11th, 2001, along with 3000 more innocent people. My dad spoke at his funeral, one of many that he, a 25 year FBI agent and current State Department agent, attended in that month. Mayhap it’s an unimportant aside, but my dad retired from the FBI early so that he wouldn’t have to be under Ashcroft and Bush. And this is coming from a man who voted Republican his entire adult life. He worked in D.C. when Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and company were there the last time (under Bush the Elder), and was simply unwilling to do so again.
Those paragraphs comprise enough to solidify my belief that 9/11 could have (and should have) been prevented. And that’s without counting the whole Project for a New American Century whitepaper (written in 96) that effectively outlines our current administration’s behavior post 9/11. And yes, it’s edging towards conspiracy theory-dom, but that paper stated that for the PNAC’s goals to be achieved, ‘some catastrophic and catalysing event like Pearl Harbor’ would have to occur on American soil. The PNAC, by the way, was founded by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Woflowitz, and Richard Perle (among others).
So yes, I believe, without equivocation and without a doubt, that the events of 9/11 would simply have not occurred had Gore been our President. Gore was just as anti-terror minded as Clinton and was an outspoken advocate of actively attacking and dismantling the terrorist networks. And, as I pointed out before, if it weren’t for a spiteful and hate-fueled Republican senate, bin Laden would have been killed a good two years before the attack.
Now…Let’s talk about Democracy…
First off, you lose. It’s called Godwin’s Law. But for the sake of argument (which, as Justin can attest, I’m very pro-argument.), I’ll indulge you in this by proving you very, very wrong. Adolph Hitler was not democratically elected. The Nazi party did win a majority of the Reichstag elections in 1930, but Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by an intensely pressured President Hindenburg. Hitler (who was of course, the head of the Nazi party) then had his crony laden legislature pass the Enabling Act, which permitted Hitler’s government to make laws without legislative approval. The act effectively made the legislature powerless. Hitler then installed loyal Nazis in important posts in the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the German provincial governments. He replaced all labor unions with the Nazi-controlled German Labor Front and banned all political parties except his own. The economy, the media, and all cultural activities were brought under Nazi authority. An individual’s livelihood was made dependent on his or her political loyalty. Thousands of anti-Nazis were taken to concentration camps?the existence of which was widely publicized and all signs of dissent were suppressed. A massive propaganda campaign celebrated the end of democracy in Germany, and huge, staged demonstrations gave the impression that everyone supported Hitler.
(italicized portion taken from the Encarta World Encyclopedia).
As a future guide, don’t bring up Hitler in any political discussion with a Jew. We’re touchy about the subject and tend to have more complete information regarding it. You might say it’s an area of expertise. Hitler was forcibly appointed and then removed any ability the public might have to bring about his removal. He ascended to power and then continued to rule through intimidation and coercion. Get it right next time.
Democracy is indeed flawed. I doubt there is any rationale student of government who would claim otherwise. But it does remain the best system this planet has in place. And to a degree you are correct: a democracy is no guarantee against atrocities or abuses of power. But it is the only system that allows for a bloodless removal of individuals who abuse and pervert their office. It is also the only system that includes a built-in accountability. You fuck up, you don’t get re-elected. You fuck up bad enough, and we’ll kick your ass out before re-election is even a concern. So how can democracy be flawed and still be the best system of social governance in existence? The same way that we, as human beings, can be flawed and still achieve greatness. Trial and error. Constant refinement and retooling. Yes, there will always be handy examples of stupid, arrogant, and outright terrible things done by our Government. But what about OSHA? The War on Poverty? The Civil Rights Movement? The ERA? Social Security? Medicare? Education? Can you see no good in our government? Are you completely blind to the wonderful things we’ve accomplished?
It’s almost sickening to think that you, who have probably benefited greatly from living in this democratic society, not only refuse to participate in the process, but also have nothing but contempt for the only system in the world that would allow you to effectively achieve any goal in life you might pursue without the prerequisites of wealthy parents, political connections, or corruption.
Try spending a year in Mexico, or the Philippines, or even any number of the Eastern Bloc countries and speak to the run of the mill citizen about what country they’d rather live in. Or spend some time talking to recent immigrants about why they came to the United States. You know anyone who’s ever lived in China, India, or Iran? They’ve got some interesting thoughts on why they came to the US and what our democracy means to them.
Don’t like the Patriot Act? Vote for candidates that would recind it, or for candidates that opposed it in the first place. Enjoy your job and the attending money and comfort it provides? You might consider registering and voting for a candidate that won’t reward companies that ship jobs overseas. It’s the Republican party that loves letting businesses do whatever the fuck they want in the pursuit of profit. It’s the Bush administration that has no problem with you losing your job just so Sprint can save a couple thousand dollars a year. It’s local Republicans that gave Sprint a tax-free lease on that fucking concentration camp in Overland Park just to have the company lay off hundreds of workers.
What is needed to stop this kind of behavior? Your vote. Yes, your individual voice manifested by a check-mark on a piece of paper, is all that is needed to end bullshit like that. Unless you speak up, what you want won’t matter one fucking iota. That’s why it’s called a PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. If your Chumbawumba aligned ass can’t be bothered to participate, then you deserve whatever the fuck your government might decide to do to you.
Thanks for playing.