Friday, August 11, 2006

War on terror... ad infinitum

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They need to come up with a new term for this war on terror for several reasons:

I'm sick of hearing about it, I'm sick of it being used as a tool for political gain, and more importantly, it can't be won. Does Bush really believe he can eliminate terror? Substitute the word evil if you are struggling with the idea.

Terrorism is rooted in some form of injustice and/or dissatisfaction, real or imagined. And it has been going on in some form or another since the dawn of man and will continue until mankind no longer exists.

If you want to break it down to a bare philosophical level, the eradication of all things evil would result in the eradication of all things good as well, to get yingy-yangy about it.

The eradication of evil is a myth perpetuated by those who know how to cleverly manipulate your fears for their own advantage. That advantage is often more power for them, less freedom for us.

Republicans and Democrats
clashed over the war on terror on Thursday within hours of the disclosure of a thwarted terrorist plot in Britain, each side accusing the other of doing too little to deter the threat of attack.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said: "We must be on alert so that our nation does not suffer another attack like 9/11."

"As a result of mismanagement and the wrong funding priorities, we are not as safe as we should be," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada countered.

"I'd rather be talking about this than all of the other things that Congress hasn't done well," one Republican congressional aide told AFP on condition of anonymity because of possible reprisals.

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.

Shameless manipulaton.

There are other grotesque quotes out there from those seeking the government pacifier.

At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Kristin Reinke, of Champlin, Minn., complained to her husband, Mike Reinke, "I just threw out $34 worth of hand lotion."
He was sympathetic, but accepted the Transportation Security Administration's reasons for the ban. "What are you going to do?" he said. "I guess you have to be safe."

Here's one benefactor from the chaos:

"I can't imagine all the millions of dollars that the Colgate-Palmolives are going to reap from this," said a Denver resident, as he waited to pick up his luggage at Los Angeles International Airport. "The Dumpsters in Phoenix were filled with shampoo and toothpaste."

Here's a fact: we do suffer casualties far worse than 9/11 every year.

Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000-62,000 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.
Source: California Environmental Protection Agency. Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke. September 1997.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that in the US more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and more than 20,000 people die from the flu and its complications every year.

FBI Crime Index figures: There were an estimated 15,517 murders in 2000.

The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116.

Incidents involving firearms killed 29,000 in the US in 2000.

Alcohol consumption was responsible for 68,000 deaths in the US in 2000. (not including alcohol-related car crashes).

The 9/11 attacks killed 2,976.

Soon, even the war in Iraq will have claimed more US lives than were lost on 9/11. (Some 50,000+ Iraqis have been killed during the occupation but that's not relevant to the point I'm making here.)

We're all going to die of something sooner or later. Shit, no one wants to hear that.

That one day in history which, by the way, 30% of Americans can no longer remember the year, has created an environment of fear and an opportunity for exploitation resulting in fewer rights & freedoms and the trend is continuing.

Stop believing that our government or our politicians can safeguard our lives into our golden years. Their attempts come at a hefty price and I for one am unwilling to pay it.

I am not suggesting the attacks of 9/11 are an apples to apples comparison of all the other death statistics I have listed. However, when you think about the homicide rate, it's a very fine line indeed. With over 29,000 "firearm incidents" resulting in death in 2000, you'd think that would be the easiest to control. Just outlaw guns. Stop selling them and do a massive sweep to collect all guns. Even if homicide rates only dropped to 7,000, that's still twice as many lives saved annually as were lost on 9/11.

Oh, but that Constitution of the United States of America gets in the way again. Americans have a right to bear arms. The Bush Administration and its Republican supporters have no problems skirting around or ripping into other parts of the Constitution in the name of homeland security. But you won't see Republicans or Bush clammoring for stricter handgun controls, let alone a ban and round-up of weapons. Does that fact alone not tell you something about the priorities, and that perhaps, it's about more than merely our "safety?"

If 29,000+ unnecessary deaths each year is a price worth paying to maintain the Bill of Rights, then why the hell are we so willing to bend over and take it up the ass over the 9/11 casualties?

For starters, it's a national ego problem. We are willing to overlook murders of Americans by Americans. Few of us personally know anyone who was murdered. And we never really stop to think about the overall numbers and putting that in true perspective. 9/11 was an attack on our national identity (and quite well portrayed that way by the Bush Administration) by a group of outsiders who are not like us. They aren't Christian and they aren't lily-white. We had to "unite" to save ourselves from those overseas who hate our Democracy and seek to destroy our way of life, if I recall one of Bush's more colorful ways of portraying this new war.

I'm not advocating a return to the lax security measures that were in place prior to 9/11. However, there has to be an intelligent and sensible alternative to the current scenarios.

From the NY Times:

Despite knowing for years that liquid explosives posed a threat to airline safety, security agencies have made little progress in deploying technology that could help defend against such attacks, security experts say.

Since September 2001, the federal government has hired tens of thousands of government screeners and upgraded its metal detectors and X-ray machines. But most of the equipment is still oriented toward preventing a metallic gun or other easily identifiable weapon from being carried aboard; it cannot distinguish shampoo from an explosive.

Cathleen A. Berrick, director of the Government Accountability Office’s homeland security and justice division, told a Senate committee in February 2005 that the Transportation Security Administration, part of the Department of Homeland Security, redirected more than half of the $110 million it had for research and development in 2003 to pay for personnel costs of screeners, delaying research in areas including detecting liquid explosives. It has continued to redirect some research and development money, she said Thursday.

So, we have to pay for their ineptitude?

Why are Americans so willing to resign themselves to the ridiculously incompetent state of airline security as well as erosion of civil liberties in exchange for a sense of security?

One airline with flights from Britain to the US actually banned books from being carried on a plane. If I didn't know better, I'd believe authorities were trying to find a breaking point -- to see just how far they can go with herding us like cattle. Honestly, my breaking point was in 2001.

Kingsley Veal, 35, a geologist from England, said his Continental flight from London's Heathrow airport to San Francisco was "long and boring" because, under British flight restrictions, he couldn't bring any books or music on board. But he thought the no-carry-on policy should always be in effect.

“I think they’re doing just fine,” Ron Spangenberg, 69, of Jacksonville, Ill., said of the Bush administration. “This is a big deal. I don’t where the doubters are coming from, but apparently they don’t think we’re at war. We are at war.”

“I think the British are doing a fantastic job when it comes to terror,” another woman was quoted as saying. “But I’m proud of whoever it was that caught them. I think it’s great. But I do respect their secrecy to do their jobs, and I don’t mind if they have to listen to my phone to do their job.”

To this, I would reply: Fine. Bend over. Take it up the ass. Be bored on a long flight. Feel safe. I'll stay home trying to protect what little privacy and rights I still have.

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