My first post of the new year.
I am actually going to start the year with two posts put together; (1) a short section on Bush’s speech, and (2) a longer section on national security.
Topic 1: Bush Calls for Unity
I read this after just reading a headline about the President’s speech on the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The headline reads, “Bush Urges Unity on Terror War.” (The site has since changed its headline.)
Bush does not urge unity. He urges unquestioned, blind, “ask no questions; follow all orders” obedience.
There is an easy way to tell the difference between a person who is truly asking that we set aside our differences, and a person demanding obedience. The person who seeks to set aside differences follows this up by saying, “These are the differences I will set aside. I am making the first step. Now, it is your turn. And if you do not take a step in my direction, then we will all know that you are more interested in obstruction than in cooperation.”
But Bush, in telling us that we should set aside our differences, does not give us a list of differences he will set aside. He is not going to budge. He is telling the rest of us to meet him, where he stands. We are to put aside 100% of the differences. He is to put aside 0%.
That is not a call for unity. That is a call for voluntary servitude – a willful slavery and blind obedience of another.
Another piece of evidence that Bush’s request for unity is insincere is his statement in the speech that, “"Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us."
Gasp! Really? Who’d a thunked it?
Bush cannot even express opposing views honestly. He has to make up ridiculous straw men that no rational person would accept, and attribute those absurdities to his critics. He either lacks the will to understand what others are saying, or the intelligence to do so.
A person cannot honestly say, “Let us put our differences aside and work together” if he is unwilling or unable to understand anything other than his own view.
The evidence suggests that Bush does not want us to put aside our differences. He wants our unquestioned obedience to his dictates. He wants to be a dictator. Like all dictators, he fantasizes about how wonderful it would be, “If I could be dictator and everybody willingly does whatever I say and marvels at me and tells me how brilliant I am at all times.”
“Mr. Bush. Do you really want us to put aside our differences? Prove it by putting aside some of yours. Not all of them . . . just some of them. Until you are willing to do that, then you are not sincerely asking us to put aside our differences. You are asking us to be voluntary slaves obeying your commands. That is something you have no right to demand, and that we have no duty to provide.”
Topic 2: National Security
Dear President Bush
I have spent several days now listening to you using the 5th Anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to promote your political agenda regarding national security. I have heard you say that you consider it your principle duty is to protect us from being killed or maimed by terrorists. It is, indeed, one of your duties.
I have no interest in being killed by a terrorist. You and your surrogates act as if any who would criticize you has a perverse desire to be blown to bits, poisoned, infected with disease, irradiated, or all of the above. Clearly, this is absurd. More than that, it is an insult.
A rational mind recognizes that we face many threats – not just those from terrorists. It does no good to be safe from a terrorist bomb only to be killed by a hurricane, or a disease that medical research could have cured, or pollution dumped into our air, water, and food.
Mr. President, we face a great many threats. One of them is terrorism. However, all of us can kill and maim us and those we care about.
I am particularly concerned about the hurricane example. When it comes to threats to the United States, Katrina proved to be a much bigger threat than Al-Queida. While you were protecting us from terrorists, you were weakening our defenses against hurricanes. from hurricane. You may boast that there has been no loss of life or property in the United States due to a terrorist attack in five years. Yet, you let our defenses against hurricanes deteriorate to the point that you lost 1800 of those American lives you swore to protect – not to mention an economic and property loss that exceeded the cost impact of the 9/11 attacks.
More importantly, if you had taken actions that a rational President would have taken to defend us from terrorists – those same acts would have protected the people of New Orleans. The levees in New Orleans could have been destroyed by a terrorist bomb. If your job is to protect American lives from terrorist bombs, then it includes protecting them from the consequences of destroying the levees around New Orleans. A group of terrorists would not have given us three days advance notice to prepare for an attack. So, compared to a terrorist attack, protection from Katrina should have been a breeze.
It was not a breeze. If your administration is incapable of protecting us from hurricanes with advance warning, then your administration thereby proves its incompetence at protecting us from the effects of a terrorist attack.
You claim that you want to protect us from weapons of mass destruction that might kill and maim us. You put chemical weapons on this list. A part of your plan is to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives to make sure that terrorists are not able to kill and maim us with the use of chemicals.
So, it is only reasonable to ask, "Why you are willing to allow corporations to poison our air and water for profit?" The poisons that come to us through air and water pollution leave us just as dead or just as sick as other weapons of mass destruction. The only difference between a terrorists and the corporate executives is that the terrorists aim to kill us, and the corporate executive is simply indifferent as to our survival.
However, the effect on the victim is the same. Whether he is killed or made sick by somebody who wants him dead or somebody who does not care, he is just as dead or just as sick. Your duty to protect us applies as much to the person who will intentionally kill us as those who will kill us with indifference.
On this issue of chemical weapons of mass destruction, how many American lives does the tobacco industry claim every year?
You also claim that you want to protect us from biological weapons of mass destruction. So, I have to ask you why protecting me from the effects of anthrax is worth hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of American lives. Yet, protecting me from the effects of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and the like is worth so little to you.
If you truly believe that your job is to protect us from those who will kill and maim us, and we know that these diseases are killing and maiming us, then why are you not protecting us from them?
Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
You claim to be concerned that terrorists may set off a dirty bomb in one of our cities, or even a nuclear bomb, rendering whole portions of the city unusable – or requiring multi-billion dollar cleanup projects. This, you tell us, is a part of your job as President. This is part of what it means to protect us.
Yet, you do not seem to show much concern to the damage to American cities that would be caused by sea-level rise.
Vice President Cheney once said that his philosophy required treating a 1% probability that we will suffer some sort of attack as being equivalent to certainty.
(Actually, Cheney is being foolish to adopt such a strategy. This amounts to basing policy on a false premise – on living a lie. This doctrine says that we should live our lives on the premise that 1 = 100. However, it is simply false that 1 = 100 and it is foolish to pretend that they are equal. We truly need an administration that is capable of basing its policies on the facts, and not on myth and falsehoods.)
However, when it comes to global warming, your administration seems to have a different philosophy; that 1% = 0%. That unless a threat is at least 75% certain, that it should be treated as no threat at all and ignored. So, while you seek to prevent the destruction of our cities as a result of some terrorist weapon, you ignore the threat that sea-level rise will do significant damage to those same cities.
One last thing that I need to protect me and those that I care about from, Mr. President, are tyrants. These are megalomaniac people who are convinced that God has specifically chosen them to create a model world and that anybody who disagrees with them are to e swept aside.
There is nothing that a tyrant loves more than an opportunity to work in secret, without having to answer to anybody else. They decide on their own who counts as an enemy of the state, who gets arrested, how long they spend in prison, and what happens to them when they get there. They do not need to worry about asking anybody else’s permission. They can even make it a crime to let it be known what they are doing.
This is the tyrant’s wet dream.
You protect us from tyrants by protecting a system of government that maintains a system of checks and balances. Presidents must appeal to the courts or the legislature to double-check their work and make sure it is not tyrannical. No President will ever judge his own actions excessive. That job must be left to an outside authority – a judge or a legislator. Take away that outside authority, and you have removed the only barriers that might exist against a new tyrannical government.
In the last five years, I have seen how your surrogates work. They take the words of any critic and twist them into something rediculous, rather than actually listening to what others have to say. So, I suspect that, if they were to read this, they would claim how absurd it is to abandon the war on terror so that we can address these other concrens
I would hold that it is as absurd to abandon the war on terror to address these other concerns, as it is to abandon these other concerns so that we can address the war on terror. Each concern deserves attention proportional to the magnitude of its threat. I dare suggest that global warming, pollution (air and water poisoned by Americans for profit), and disease are real and significant threats.
You say that you consider it your job to protect us. You will do everything in your power to protect us from terrorists. I want to know why you will protect us from the city-destroying power of a bomb, but not the city-destroying power of a hurricane or of global warming. You will protect us from chemical weapons launched by Al Queida, but not by the poisons put in our air and water by American companies seeking a profit. You will tirelessly work to make sure that we are not infected by anthrax, but you invest less and less in making sure that we are secure from the threats of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. You seek to protect us from being conquered from without by militant Islamic theocrats, by giving some future local-grown tyrant complete freedom to establish his own tyranny.
You are not protecting us, Mr. Bush.
You are making our lives decidedly less secure. More Americans will die as a result of your actions than you can ever hope to save.