Just On The Chance We May Be Wrong…

September 29, 2006 | By | 3 Replies More

The Bill passed by congress on the detainee and interrogation issue is one of the more frustrating examples of Democratic cowardice and political expedience.  It does not substantively change anything.  Personally, I feel the only utility in having a law in the first place is to use as a cudgel in case certain parties get caught doing something nasty.  It won’t prevent the nastiness, because the concerned parties will just get cagier in how they go about doing what they want.  But now we have a law that is vague where it needs to be clear and clear where it doesn’t matter and once again everyone just fell into line with the Administration.


Mid-term elections.

The Democrats could have filibustered.  But they don’t want to risk the chance that Bush’s approval ratings don’t really mean what they suggest.  They don’t want to risk blowing what may be a popular referendum on Bush that could conceivably return a Democratic majority to congress by doing something they know the public can’t stand.

Besides–and here’s the scary thought–what if their take on the president’s ratings is wrong.

Not that the numbers are wrong.  No, I think they’re pretty accurate.  But what they mean…do they mean the public is fed up with Bush or with his ideas?  Both?  Neither?

See, this is an issue of some concern, because while the approval ratings suggest that Bush is unpopular that does not mean the people who put him there in the first place have changed their minds about why  they put him there.  And if the Democratics go all left wing on this issue, it might backfire, because maybe, just maybe, those approval numbers are about Bush’s implementation and management of his policies–not the policies themselves.  People may see him as lousy manager, one who has botched oversite on ideas and policies his former supporters actually like.

See, people now seem to think Iraq is our biggest problem.  Do they want to pull out?  Look at how members of congress behave, one gets the impression no.  They want Iraq handled better and they no longer think Bush can do it. 

On a whole list of other policies, the public seems to contradict itself.  Roll back the tax cuts?  No, that doesn’t seem to be popular either.  Running up the debt is also not popular.  Immigration?  Talking tough is popular, but the worker pass idea is not.  Minimum wage?  Well…

Homeland Security?  Talk of rolling back the Patriot Act seems unpopular, but we have a schizo reaction to how it is implimented–don’t spy of Me, use it on Them.  Bush’s wire tapping is unpopular, but the Guantanamo situation is less clear.

So the Democrats didn’t challenge this piece of drivel, because they don’t really know what part of Bush people don’t like, and they’re too spineless to challenge him where he’s weakest–policy morality.

Bush is so typical of a kind of Cold War mentality that it’s sickening.  He talks about how great America is, but he has virtually no faith in the strength of our ideas, of our principles, of our potential.  The simple expedient of applying the moral and ethical–and legal–standards we reserve for our own citizens to anyone who comes under our sphere of influence would be the best way to combat the rabid anti-Americanism driving global disaffection with us, but he doesn’t believe it would work.  He doesn’t have faith in the idea of equality, of justice.  Doesn’t believe it and, from what we’ve seen vis-a-vis his domestic spying policies, doesn’t believe in it for Americans, either.  That alone should mark him as at least worse than Nixon, possibly the most unsuited occupant of the office of president we’ve ever had.

Challenging him on that, though, would be risky, because maybe–just maybe–that’s the way his original constituents feel, too.  The only mistake they made was putting Bush in office rather than someone who could “manage” things better.


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Category: American Culture, Civil Rights, Culture, Current Events, Law, Politics, The Middle East, War

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Democrats should argue that “Homeland Security” and war issues shouldn’t be decided by the person who most often puffs his chest and struts about the podium. It’s not about who is acting tougher or wasting more national resources. It’s about what measures, in actuality, really keep our country safer, both short term and long term. Really and truly, connect the dots between the policy and the results, then ask yourself: are Bush’s policies really keeping American’s safer?

    With regard to the occupation of Iraq, there is good reason to think that we are less safe. Iraq has devastated our military and our national budget. Iraq is a promotion tool for recruiting thousands more people who want to do us harm. Iraq is a quagmire that will sap our strength for many more years.  Here's what the NYT has to say about the results of our efforts:

    A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

    An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology. The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

    Iraq is also a domestic issue.  Every time you hear a public official saying “we can’t afford that,” (whether it be education needs, medical needs or fixing levies) remember that $250M per day is not there because of Iraq. Iraq is destroying the U.S. infrastructure every day. That is making us tremendously vulnerable.

    There are many problems that you can’t simply shoot and bomb away, contrary to Republic bravado. Motion is often not progress. Doing something is sometimes worse than doing nothing. When the Dems next here Bush proposals for spying, torturing and bombing, they need to loudly ask: “And where have those things got us?” And just because you don’t approve of Bush’s ineffective methods doesn’t mean you want to coddle terrorists or that you WANT to see violent people attack U.S. citizens or interests. I can’t believe how the Dems just sit their and let the Republicans frame these debates.

    Republicans have been busy working hard to do the wrong sorts of expensive things for our country. Democrats need to stand up and tell the people why most of the money spent by Bush is welfare for the benefit of the military-industrial complex. Let the people eat cake.

    The Dems need to figure this out. They are not going to win this intellectual battle by saying NOTHING. They’ve got to stop being afraid about blustery speech that use words like “guns” and “bombs.” They’ve got to get in there and fight the battle of ideas for their country.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Well worth reading is this column by Molly Ivins at Alternet:

    This bill is not a national security issue — this is about torturing helpless human beings without any proof they are our enemies.

    Perhaps this could be considered if we knew the administration would use the power with enormous care and thoughtfulness. But of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place . . .

    I'd like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.

    So where were our alleged Democrat leaders who should have been front and center speaking boldly, like Molly Ivins, against this legislation?  Can you imagine this scenario ten years ago?  A country where our leaders are afraid to speak out against our country systematically torturing hundreds of people?  I am truly ashamed of what we have become.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    I remember when Bush ran for office in 2000. One of his big talking points was that he was going to restore integrity to the office of the president in the wake of Clinton's Monica Lewinsky mess. I remember him specifically saying that his administration would not just obey the law, but would set an even higher moral standard of doing what is right even if the law didn't require it. Given his widespread violations of law — from a fraudulent war, to illegal wiretaps, to torturing prisoners — I think we can give up waiting for evidence of that commitment.

    As regards the various semi-secret government reports that Erich mentions — reports which provide inconsistent assessments of whether America is becoming "more" or "less" safe from terrorists — I don't think we need official government reports to answer this question, because we can answer it for ourselves. Bush's invasion of Iraq has caused the death of more than 100,000 innocent Iraqis, as well as the physical and emotional maiming of at least half a million more. Indeed, American troop casualties occur at a rate of about 9:1 compared to the number killed, which, if we apply this same ratio to the Iraqis, would put the total number of Iraqi casualties at about 1 million. If we assume that just 10% of these people will harbor some level of resentment toward America, or will have a friend or relative who does, that's 100,000 people. If we then assume that these 100,000 people will spread their resentment to just 1-2 other people, that's 250,000 total people (100k originals + 150k followers). Now, if just 1% of those people decide they want to kill Americas, that's 2,500 new assassins created by Bush's invasion. It only took 19 assassins to bring down four jets on 9/11. We don't need a government report to tell us we are less safe: we can do the math ourselves.

    Of course, if you don't like the above estimates, you are free to make your own. For example, what if these estimates are way too low? What if, of the million Iraqi casualties, half of them hate Americans and will spread their hatred to five more people. That's 3 million people — about 10% of Iraq's total population, and more than ten times the estimate above. If you think 10% of Iraq's total population is too big, remember that current polls in Iraq say that up to 70% of them support killing Americans, so even 10% might be way too low. If that 70% figure is true, then America has 20 million new enemies in Iraq (Iraq's total population is about 29 million). Again, we can do the math ourselves: if 20 million Iraqis hate us, and just 1% of them hate Americans enough to want to kill us, that's 200,000 new assassins.

    Remember that these numbers exclude people living outside Iraq, who might also hate America for what Bush has done in Iraq.

    To my knowledge, the Bush Administration has NEVER given any justification for saying that America is "safer today with Saddam in jail." Given the numbers above, I, for one, can find no connection between their claim and any identifiable reality.

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