The two historical Americans I hold in highest regard are Ben Franklin and Mark Twain. Ben Franklin made more of his talents and circumstances than arguably any person in the history and pre-history of humanity. Mark Twain was the most brilliant American writer to ever put ink on a piece of paper. The world could be a much better place if they came back and contributed their impressive talents again.
I'm loathe to utter a cliche, but sometimes a cliche is so fundamentally apropriate that it demands to be used. Ben Franklin once said something to the effect that those who are willing to give up a measure of freedom for the sake of security deserved neither.
Enter stage right: The New York Times. As I'm sure most of the domestic readers of this piddly little blog know, the NYT recently disclosed a program used by the Bush Administration to sift through massive amounts of bank records looking for some kind of information about terrorist spending. If you think I'm going to launch into some kind of tirade about the legality of this program, think again. A stoned, semi-retarded, one-legged frog can understand the fourth ammendment.
Enter stage left: The Insane Right-Wing Posse. The calls for jihad from the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, etc. would have been deafening if they weren't blunted by the fact that most people know that these folks are batshit-crazy. To hear them screaming about it, you'd think that the "Gray Lady" was running a terrorist hostel in the middle of Manhattan. Even the inbred politicos got into the act, calling for a McCarthyesque investigation of the newspaper. Even the president popped his head out of the little bubble universe where he normally resides to chastise them. And just as soon as it started, it went away. Apparently this program wasn't quite so classified as they would like us to believe. Turns out the President has been talking about this program for quite some time now, when it is politically expedient to do so, of course.
Do you ever get the feeling that the leaders of our country might just be overmatched by the terrorists? It's kind of like watching a chess match between two equally confident, yet clearly unequal players. Is there a reasonably intelligent person out there who doesn't realize that the terrorists are smart enough to actually be operating under the assumption that their financial affairs were being scrutinized and were taking steps to hide from that kind of detection? These guys are clearly crazy, but not dumb.
This administration seems to be operating under the dubious assumption (one of many) that freedom is not compatible with security. The Insane Right-Wing Posse trumpets this misconception at every turn. According to the powers that be, you simply must give up some level of freedom to achieve some level of security. I'm sure whats left of their hearts are in the right place. Unfortunately, their brains are in the wrong place. This thinking is the hallmark of three types of people: The intellectually deprived, the intellectually lazy and the intellectually dishonest. This administration seems to favor the doctrine of least resistance. They seem unwilling to take the effort to create policies that protect both freedom and security. I know they aren't stupid, most of them anyway. Why is it that instead of expending the effort to safeguard one of the things that makes America great they expend even more energy trying to hide what they're doing?