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Saturday, August 25, 2007

On Security

Security. It's a word that has permeated the consciousness of Americans to oversaturation since (say it with me now) Nine Eleven Changed Everything. But what does the word "security" really mean, especially when you combine it with the word "national"?

Security used to mean many things, all of them positive. You got a college degree, you got a good job, you bought a house and had 2.5 kids, and you retired with a nice pension. While all this was happening, you were able to afford gas and food for your family, and could even save money for vacations without re-mortgaging your house. You were never without electricity, and when you drove over a bridge, you didn't worry that it might collapse underneath you.

When you died, you felt secure that your kids would have the same, or an even better, standard of living, because you had faith that your government was doing its job - the job of improving security for its constituents.

Such was the American Dream, until Ronald Reagan and his conservative followers came to destroy the New Deal policies that had strengthened the middle class and allowed the dream to exist.

Poof! Before you could say "The government IS the problem," the economy tanked, we got mired in Afghanistan and created Al Qaeda, the multinationals began conglomerating and our media started to consolidate. News began degenerating into infotainment and propaganda. Think tanks blossomed that told us that the government was bad and corporations were good, and that loving the so-called free market was a substitute for political awareness. Pundits from these thinktanks began appearing on every channel to wage their particular form of class warfare and to demonize liberal ideology. Our manufacturing and service jobs began vanishing overseas, and our pensions suddenly became unsecured, easily lost when unscrupulous, greedy mega-corporations like Enron, WorldCom and many others used the funds to cover their illegal accounting practices.

Given the obvious effect conservative policies have had on national security, it would seem obvious that if you want to feel secure about your life in America, you would make sure to elect liberals like FDR, not conservative Presidents like Reagan and the Bushes, and Congresscritters like Newt Gingrich's class of 1994. But until quite recently, Americans seemed to feel that Republics were "stronger on national security" than Democrats - and even now, the margin of favorability between the two parties is very slim. How in the world did this happen?

One of the worst things the conservatives (especially gifted framers like KKKarl Rove) have done to this country has been their Orwellian destruction of the English language. The word "security" is no exception. When an elected official, pundit or journalist says the words "national security" now, they usually refer to "fighting terrorism by means of endless war". As if the only way our nation can be secure is to go to war against non-state actors who, in reality, are responsible for far fewer deaths than the automobile industry!

The real tragedy for America was not 9/11, but the reaction to it by our benighted Deciderer-in-Chief. Had Al Gore been inaugurated president in 2001, I firmly believe 9/11 would not have happened (the 9/11 Commission agreed that the attack was preventable.) However, had we been attacked by Al Qaeda during a Gore presidency, there is no way that Mr. Gore would have used such an attack as an excuse to terrify the country into accepting more and more egregious erosions of our national security. Among the outrages we have suffered are:

  • tax cuts for the wealthy and the corporations, which steal money out of the pockets of the working class;

  • destabilization of our infrastructure by refusing to invest in it or regulate its upkeep;

  • ignoring real threats to our country and focusing on billion-dollar boondoggles like missile defense (which Condi Rice was set to speak about on 9/11) and the illegal invasion of Iraq;

  • deliberate invasions of our privacy and a huge increase in identity theft which oddly seem to go hand in hand;

  • allowing the rule of law, which protects Americans against their government, to become almost completely non-existent; and

  • allowing predatory lending practices and prohibitive health care costs to bankrupt Americans.

For the sake of national security, it's time to stop accepting the meaningless slogans of Fear and Loathing, Inc., and remember that national security can only be provided by liberals. Conservatives do nothing but lead us down the path to endless war, and there is nothing less secure than that.

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