Monday, September 11, 2006
Have you ever watched demolition experts take down a large building? I guess the exhibit appeals to our fascination with the surreal; not in the art world but in the real world. In an instant a solid stalwart edifice is reduced to rubble and dust. Or, so it seems.
Few realize that the demolition company spend weeks or months weakening and cutting major supports in the building before the grand exhibition begins. Major load bearing members are severed and made impotent. Anything that might impede the decent of the building is compromised or stripped away. Destruction is not as effective without the preliminary weakening of the structure. Although the building may appear sound, it really isn’t.
Maybe people just don’t care about the preliminary preparations. Maybe they don’t realize what is even happening until the ‘big show’.
What better method to use to bring down a structure that has stood for 230 years?
There is a smart lady I know and admire very much. On her wall in the kitchen is a sign. The sign reads, ‘Do something. Move forward; move backward; or just get out of the way.’ We all have 20/20 hind sight; what we could have done; what we should have done. Have we made the right move? Who knows for sure? But, we did something.
Inaction can be worse than the wrong action. I just hope we don’t stand idly by while the support structure of our nation is severed so severely that it can no longer stand.
Unfortunately, a great majority of our citizens are simply denying the problem and wasting time blaming Bush, or whoever/whatever, diverting attention to such non-critical things, such as "global warming," all the while our country's infrastructure, backbone and common sense is being erodded away by our own inattention and back-biting. (Note I said global warming was non-critical - not unimportant. Ten years from now, global warming will still be an issue - provided our country survives to worry about it. Comparing global warming to the current terrorist threat is like comparing a misquito bite to having cancer. Which requires IMMEDIATE action?)
A classic "Can't See The Forest For The Trees."
Some people might say it's "Head In The Sand," but in the military, we call it "Head Up Your Ass!"
Ps: I wonder how much global warming would occur if the terrorists tossed a couple of nuclear weapons our way?
Jacquie, I completely agree with you but completely (and respectfully) disagree with my father. Yet he thinks you are 100% correct. I guess that reasonable people can and do disagree about issues and about what is reasonable.
I too fear that the very foundation of our country is being undermined. If left unchecked it will most certainly result if not in our collapse then with us being reduced to a mere shadow of our current greatness. The United States of America is the greatest country that has ever existed on this planet. This is at once both a statement of patriotic love of my country and a statement of fact. Two hundred thirty one years ago this was not the case. Other great countries have come and gone before us. Once France was a world leader – remember that they helped us win our independence from England – but they do not fill that role in the same way today. We do. If we hope to maintain our lifestyles and our leadership, one depends on the other, we should perhaps examine what it is that makes us great.
Might makes right, or is there more? It seems “self evident” that our greatness springs from our constitution, that governing document that gives us, the common person, the “unalienable right” to govern ourselves, according to our own best judgment. We, the people set the law of our land and no one is above those laws. I fear that it is this foundation that is being undercut. There are some today that would diminish the constitution by amending it to restrict the right of some individuals to form a family in the way they think is best and to prevent the free expression of others because they find it offensive. Mind you, gay marriage and flag burning do not infringe on the rights of other citizens. If we truly wish to preserve our liberty how can we support such oppressive restrictions? At a time when issues important to the preservation of our nation loom, such as war, terrorism and, yes, global warming, dwelling on these seem more an attempt to distract than real statesmanship.
It is our patriotic duty to question our government. We, as a people, may disagree as what to do about this or that. The only way to preserve our culture is to openly, honestly and coolly debate and discuss issues in an environment where truth and reason are the norms, not fear, disrespect and hatred. What kinds of discussions do we have today in America?
A great man can be quoted as saying “"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts" (Abraham Lincoln). Do we have the “real facts”, or an artful, skilled spin? As an educator I draw one of the great purposes of my life from this statement. That the citizens of this country can tell the difference between facts and spin, to be able to use reason to seek truth is absolutely essential to their ability to self govern. Adolf Hitler said "What good fortune for those in power that the people do not think." Not in my country, not if I can help it. Dante wrote, "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis".
Is it good for the country to smear people who speak their minds, call them names and belittle them? Aren’t we better than that? Consider this quote and how it relates to today’s climate of “discussion” as seen in the media:
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders . . . All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism." (HERMANN GOERING)
“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country" (THEODORE ROOSEVELT).
Are we “denying the problem” or do the “great majority” simply feel that our current leadership is leading us to no good? When those who govern “edit” scientific reports, imply connections when no supporting facts can be found and cherry-pick the facts that support their private goals are we “wasting time” when we demand that our leaders justify their actions and decisions? When we send over 2000 of our young men to their deaths in a foreign land do we honor their sacrifice when our borders are as porous as sand? just what is “the problem” here and who is denying it?
We have the leader of Iran publically stating that he feels it's his duty to bring the entire world under Islamic rule and in that quest, he said that causing a massive world holocaust is completely justified and required.
We can all question the wisdom of the Iraq invasion after 9/11, but who has stepped forward and offered any other RATIONAL course of action. (I don't think going to the impotent UN would have been rational, nor would trying to enlist the aid of France, China or Russia ... or even Canada. Even further from rationality would be to "sit down and talk.")
Did the US, under President Bush, "stir up the bee's hive" and start the Islamic hate? Well consider this:
*1972 Munich Olympic games (Who did it?)
*Achille Lauro - 1997 (Who did it?)
*1989 The Navy frogman brutally butchered and tossed out an airplane window. (Who did it?)
*USS Cole blown up in port. (Who did it?)
*1993 The first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center, which failed. (Who did it?)
*The 1982 Marine barracks bombing which killed 282 Marines in Beruit. (Who did it?)
*1993 killing of U.S. servicemen in Somalia. (Who did it?)
*1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 (Who did it?)
*184 Bombing of the US Embassy in Beriut. (Who did it?)
*February 1998 bin Ladin issued a statement under the banner of "The World Islamic Front for Jihad Against The Jews and Crusaders," saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill U.S. citizens, civilian or military, and their allies. (Who said that?)
These are just a few examples - there are many more. There are TWO common thread through all this:
1) Islamic extremists
2) The US basically did NOTHING, except complain to the UN and try to "talk."
These non-actions only emboldened the perps and created a sense that they could pretty well do what they wanted and the US would "take it.". As you can see, it's not a Republican or Democratic issue, both parties basically took no significant action.
Now comes 9/11 and finally we have a President with the balls to do something ... even if the Sunday-Morning-Quarterbacks later decide it was all wrong. (And after agreeing, decided they didn't really agree.) Well, maybe it was the worng action, but it was ACTION, and the world is finally getting the message: "Don't Mess With Texas!" (Or something close to that.)
If only the nay-sayers would stand up tall and tell everyone what they would have done in the same situation if they had been in GWB's shoes, knowing the same information that was available at that time. So far, no one has done that ... But they are quick to call the President a liar.
Sad commentary ... sad situation.
Several failings have been pointed out by the prior writer, with no suggested solutions. It's so common to hear, "What we should just do is .... (fill in the blanks.) Mostly it's all a bunch of worthless wishful thinking. What we need is a leader that "puts the rubber to the road" and does something that CAN be done ... and not just "wished it could be done."
"Illegitimus non Carborundum."
Ps: Nice writing, Patrick, but I respectfully disagree with the premise that "the people are always right." If that were true, then why are there so many obese people and why are there so many smokers. Not only that, but most people (probably 75+%, by my guess), would not even be able to name the two countries that fought just a month ago!
"... 'great majority' simply feel that our current leadership is leading us to no good?"
I have been on the governing board of a community of 12,000 people and know first hand how many extremely poorly informed folks stand up and blast the governing bodies for lying, cheating and stealing. You just just want to kick them in the a$$!
Hey, you have both mentioned global warming. I'd hate to be misunderstood, so I'll make this clear: I believe that our nation has the capacity to address multiple issues at once. We can work on terrorism while also working on poverty, health care, drugs, education, energy policy, etc. I would say to anybody who says "don't worry about x now because y is more important," that they are making a classic logical fallacy--a red herring, to be exact. And that includes people who say that we don't need to worry about terrorism because global warming is more important. They are both important, and we can and should be taking action on both fronts.
As for the actions to take, when it comes to global warming, I advocate for things like insulating your home and driving more fuel-efficient cars. These are just weekend projects, and they are consumer decisions.
With terrorism, it appears that most of the advocacy is about voting for people who have an aggressive policy against terrorism. After all, it's not like we can insulate our houses from terrorism or buy bomb-free cars on a weekend. The actions against terrorism are much more complicated, and they're government rather than consumer actions. I understand and respect that.
Brian, I couldn’t agree with you more. We cannot afford to have our leaders, or our citizens wearing blinders or suffering from tunnel vision. We face more than one challenge, all of which require our immediate attention. It seems a reasonable expectation, to this writer at least, that our nation be able to accomplish this.
Dad, while your response to my comments is obviously heartfelt, you didn’t address my main point: that what makes us uniquely American, our Constitution is under attack. We obviously face many external perils as a nation – what else is new – but if when facing those perils we lose what makes us great, we lose. It’s not that I, and others like myself, feel that we shouldn’t be eavesdropping on telephone calls or using other sophisticated and invasive techniques to gather data on potential terrorism, it’s that we should be following the established law of this land when doing so. If those laws prove to be an undue and fatal hindrance to national security then they should be openly reviewed and changed, not ignored. When we act un-American how can we expect the rest of the world to respect us?
Concerning questioning the actions taken by our government and it’s leaders I have to point out that it’s not our privilege but our RIGHT to question them. I do agree with you that it should be done based on reason and fact. You make my point. I didn’t say that “the people are always right” but that is it their right to make the decision. Lincoln’s quote states that if the people are given the facts they will ultimately make the right choice but either way it is theirs to make. I believe this. Smoking and obesity are symptoms of personal choice, not a collective choice after a reasoned debate. A poorly informed or berated populace cannot make a wise choice.
As for taking action, any action, this is pure folly. I am reminded of a story I once heard, can’t say if it’s true. After an auto accident on an icy bridge, a man standing alongside the road looks up to see a large truck sliding out of control towards him. Without a thought he springs to action and jumps out of the way, over the rail and falls to his doom. I honestly don’t know anyone who thought that our going into Afghanistan after we were attacked was the wrong thing to do. It wasn’t, it was measured and appropriate. We should be focusing out efforts on the actual threats we face. Who did all of those things you mention? The Palestine Liberation Organization, Al-Qaeda, Libyan terrorists and Hezbollah did. The people most responsible would then be Yassar Arafat (dead), Osama Bin-Laden (where is he?), Mohmmar Qadaffi (still running Libya) and Sheikh Fadlallah (Lebanon). Saddam Hussein and Iraq did not make the short list. I would not have us just sit idly by while we’re attacked but rather would pursue those who I KNEW committed the terrorism. Another couple more quotes for you:
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our Number one priority and we will not rest until we find him!" (President Bush, September 13, 2001).
"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." (President Bush, March 13, 2002).
I cheered the first one; I lost faith with the second. I just think that president George took his eye off the ball. What should we do? I certainly am not arrogant enough to have all of the answers but I think we can make our country safer by securing our borders and working with the rest of the planet to solve the problems that lead to such acts, poverty and helplessness. I think that most of the people on this planet, of any faith or nationality want to live in peace. We should promote this and not let a minority of radicals drag us all into war. By all means, “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down”! There will probably always be nations that can’t be dealt rationally with and when they attack us we should defend ourselves vigorously. I can’t support preemptive strikes against nations and their people due to the uncertain nature of intelligence. In Iraq, most of what we thought we knew was wrong – no WMD’s, no link to September 11th. Certainly Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, but there are other bad guys we don’t attack. God help us when we can be arrested and convicted based upon things people we might do or probably would do.
It’s funny how when reasonable people disagree, it’s always the other guy who is being unreasonable. I am sure I’m not immune to this malady. Not everyone who disagrees with your views or mine is an ignorant moron. Sometimes leaders of all political persuasions lie, cheat and steal, sometime they do their level best to do the right things as they see it. It is up to US, the people to evaluate our leaders, not blindly follow them and to protect ourselves from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
This is quite different from saying or acting on misinformation.
If I told you that, based upon my information, the third house down the street from you was yellow, I would not be a liar if it actually turned out to be green ... unless I knew it was green, yet told you it was yellow.
It seems that many in this nation think, obviously without direct information, that the President knew there were no WMD's in Iraq, yet lied about it to the public in order to start a war.
How ignorant is that?
I also cannot find any section of our Constitution that is being attacked. Is there something illegal going on that I have missed?
President Bush, March 13, 2002).
That was probably how most people felt in 2002. But now it's 2006 and a lot has changed. For example, with a little help from our friends, we've been able to squeeze off much of the financing that Osama bin Laden had been using to pay his terrorist organization. It seems to me that current intellegence indicates that he has been greatly reduced in importance and others have risen. With the general uprising of Iran and the radical Islamic terrorists, Osama is no longer "Priority Number One." It's not a matter of a waffling President, as I think your point is, but rather someone that can shift gears in a dynamic situation. That's what a good leader does ... much like a chess game. You counter one move with another.
It wasn’t dangerous to be out on the street after dark playing kick-the-can or hide-and-seek with your friends. Kids could play in the front yard and at the neighbor’s house without fear that he/she was a pedophile or child predator. At ages 9 and 10 we walked to the market alone to get a loaf of bread for our mom and actually make it home again without being accosted.
We went to bed at night without locking our doors. Neighbors watched out for the welfare of neighbors. If a pet (or a kid) was found wandering where you knew it shouldn’t you took it home or watched until someone got home.
You could park your bicycle on the front lawn; even overnight. And, it would still be there in the morning when you woke up. If you left if in your neighbor’s yard it more than likely was still in your yard when you woke up.
It used to be a man’s word was his bond.
One got paid to work. If you didn’t have work, you went out and found something to do to earn a living. People understood that if they didn’t work they received no money. Most people were too proud to accept charity. That’s what Welfare is, charity.
It used to be that the government was established to SERVE the people NOT CONTROL the people.
What is the saying? “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely...”
The federal government is beginning to look like one of those Tinker Toy constructions we used to build when we were children. You know: you begin with a plan and keep adding the parts. Then, because you don’t have the right parts or enough parts you start using what you have left to try to complete the project until the whole mess, because it is too large or too lopsided, becomes unbalanced. It begins to fall over and come apart.
I.E. In 1994 the citizens of California voted into law Proposition 187. The proposition would have denied health care, education and welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. Almost immediately the proposition opponents’ were granted restraining order, which prevented it from taking effect.
In her final ruling, Judge Mariana Pfaelzer rejected California's attempt to regulate immigration. She said is the federal government's responsibility.
Yet the federal government has taken little or no action. In fact the federal government tends to hinder or discourage securing of the boarders. Who bears the penalty of the daily onslaught of illegal immigrants? The state pays and who pays the state? The good people who pay their taxes; you and me. How much can we afford to pay? How much longer can the state absorb the cost of educating, feeding and housing people who do not contribute collective coffers?
This country was founded up Christian principals and values with tolerance towards ALL religions. So, please tell me why is it that organizations like the ACLU are systematically eliminating God from all aspects of our government. Why is it that at every turn the word God and references to Christianity are being systematically eliminated from all aspects of public display? It appears that religious tolerance applies to anything but Christianity. Why?
On September 11, 2001 the United States lost its innocence. Several knowledgeable people told me then, “For the U.S., things will never be the same again.” This frightens me.
“A house divided cannot stand.” People, there is an entity out there that is trying to destroy us. While we argue amongst ourselves that entity is eating at our foundation and causing us to rot from within.
Right now, because of the great hispanic influence in the US, both houses of congress are pandering to the hispanics in order not to piss them off and lose votes in the coming election. Even Arnold is guilty of it ... in my opinion.