August 14, 2006

Must reads...

I was preparing to rage at the wind about the recently-foiled airline terror plot, specifically over how the Bush Administration and its GOP enablers are trumpeting the news as somehow indicative of their brilliance in combating global terrorism. Give me a break! If anything, reports are now surfacing that the Bushies have been trying to slash funding for explosives detection procedures at domestic airports, and that they rushed the Brits into making these arrests prior to the government's "summer recess" for purely partisan politicking.

Fortunately for my readers, both Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert took the words right out of my mouth - and reworked them far more eloquently than I was prepared to do - in twin editorials at today's New York Times. From Mr. Krugman:
We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration's fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever.

Fecklessness: the administration has always pinched pennies when it comes to actually defending America against terrorist attacks. Now we learn that terrorism experts have known about the threat of liquid explosives for years, but that the Bush administration did nothing about that threat until now, and tried to divert funds from programs that might have helped protect us. "As the British terror plot was unfolding," reports The Associated Press, "the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology."

Cynicism: Republicans have consistently portrayed their opponents as weak on terrorism, if not actually in sympathy with the terrorists. Remember the 2002 TV ad in which Senator Max Cleland of Georgia was pictured with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? Now we have Dick Cheney suggesting that voters in the Democratic primary in Connecticut were lending aid and comfort to "Al Qaeda types." There they go again.
And from Mr. Herbert:
I wonder if Americans will continue to fall for the political exploitation of their fears of terrorism, or if voters will begin to show some awareness of the fact that they have been cynically manipulated, and that our current policies have been disastrously counterproductive...

There was something pathetic about the delight with which Republicans seized upon the terror plot last week and began trying to wield it like a whip against their Democratic foes. The G.O.P. message seemed to be that the plot foiled in Britain was somehow proof that the U.S. needed to continue full speed ahead with the Bush administration's disastrous war in Iraq, and that any Democrat who demurred was somehow soft on terrorism.

The truth, of course, is that the demolition derby policies of the Bush administration are creating enemies of the United States, not defeating them. It cannot be said often enough, for example, that the catastrophic war in Iraq, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands, was a strategic mistake of the highest magnitude. It diverted our focus, energy and resources from the real enemy, Al Qaeda and its offshoots, and turned Iraq, a country critically important to the Muslim imagination, into a spawning ground for terrorists.
Well said, gentlemen. Well said.

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(NOTE: For those of you who are not yet subscribers to the NYT's "Times Select", Messrs. Krugman and Herbert's articles are reprinted in the comments section below. Click "add your opinion" to access the full editorials.)

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Double standard

Kudos to Arianna Huffington for her post yesterday about media accountability, and "the gigantic double standard when it comes to journalistic deceit." As I've written before, the inexcusable failure of our traditional media to provide the truth to the American people is... well, inexcusable!

Read on.

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