Monday, July 11, 2005


The Times reports Taliban Kill 10 Afghan Police Officers:
Ten Afghan border police officers were killed in a clash with Taliban fighters in the country's south, and all are believed to have been beheaded.
Which is a long-winded way of saying that, not only haven't we caught Osama, not only were there no WMD in Iraq, not only is Iraq more full of terrorists than ever before, not only is it not flypaper, and not only have rates of terrorism risen steadily since the War on Terror began, but the Taliban are still beheading people.

And the President and my senator can only say "Be vigilant." Screw that.

As Brownback said:

it's also just for individuals to be much more cognizant of what's happening around them. We tend to get lax over a period of time.
I'm cognizant of what's happening on around me. I'm not convinced that Sen. Brownback, or even Sen. Roberts (chair of the intelligence committee), is fully aware of what's going on around him. If either of them were, they'd be hanging from the ceiling.

Kansas may be pretty safe–no one would notice if the "T" in Lawrence got blown up–but these two live in DC. They have giant targets painted on their office buildings' roofs. What's their excuse for the persistent failure to get Osama bin Laden on TV with a US medic searching his beard for lice? They are either unaware of the world around them and have become lax, or they don't care about the nation's safety.

Neither option is acceptable, and I don't see a third way.

When the Taliban started blowing up statues at Bamiyan, I was ready for the US to get involved. I know that attacks on "deviant art" are a short stone's throw from a lot of worse behavior. I was talking to my friends about military interventions against the Taliban in March, 2001. Am I that much smarter than the Senate and all the President's advisors? Do I need to be more vigilant now? Less lax? More cognizant?

No, no, no, a thousand times, no. To Mr. Brownback, I submit this Bible verse to meditate on.

Plus, next time he's visiting his buddy in the White House, he should stop by Nathan Kleinman, a college student on a hunger strike over Darfur. Which of these two concerned people is doing more to stop that genocide? If it's the U.S. Senator and president of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, it's not by much. "Cognizant" my ass.

I'll expand on a challenge I've made before: What in the world is indisputably better than it was when Bill Clinton left office? Not Afghanistan, which is descending right back into chaos. Not terrorism, which I've already pointed out is on the rise. Not Iraq, which had peace and stability. And replacing a horrific dictator with a weak government on the verge of civil war and an insurgency that rules the streets is not progress.

America is no safer than it was. Taking my pocket knife away before I got on a plane didn't make anyone any safer, and John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales have been unable to convict a single person on terrorism charges. There were some plea deals and some deportations, but not in very impressive cases.

At best, the American economy has been a wash for the past several years, while government benefits have been declining in real dollars. Civil liberties are in a danger as great as any they've faced since the blacklist, and environmental protections are being slashed. Environmental quality is a lagging indicator since it takes a while for regulatory changes to percolate through, but that's why it's important to maintain and enforce strict regulations. Enforcement has been cut to the bone, if not deeper.

So what has gotten unambiguously better since the Republicans took the White House and the two Congressional houses?