In a brilliant moment yesterday it was confirmed; the people running this country are absolutely nuts. The president’s meeting on the tarmac in Florida with Jeb and the Harris woman was another example of dancing in la-la land. Although he claims not to care about such things, with his poll numbers dipping ever lower, does the president honestly believe that brother Jeb would be a viable presidential candidate even if, in his heart of hearts he thinks he’d be a good chief executive? The Bush name is as close to a poison pill as any politician other than an extreme right-wing candidate could swallow.
In fact, even for many Republicans, it is difficult to keep trusting this president about the war, the economic condition of ordinary Americans or the acceptability of opening up huge domestic surveillance networks. Supporters keep reminding us “we’re at war”, but the reason we have to be reminded of that fact is both politically motivated and because most people haven’t had to bear the brunt either financially or militarily for the consequences of our adventure in Iraq. The human sacrifice is a distant murmur, and the cost in terms of dollars is just another blip that necessitates raising the debt ceiling.
As for the excuses offered up regarding surveillance and its operation outside the bounds of the FISA court or proper oversight by the Congress one needs to reconsider the intelligence available immediately before 9/11 and the action or inaction regarding it on the part of the administration. For one thing the FBI had infiltrated a terrorist cell in California but there was no follow-up on the part of the government. Massoui was in prison, but his computer was never plumbed for contacts or information. Mohammed Atta, one of the terrorists boarding in Boston, was on a terrorist watch list. Richard Clark had been calling repeatedly for a “principals” meeting, and Vice President Cheney was supposed to be spear-heading a terrorist task force that never met.
After the August briefing that Condoleezza Rice likes to refer to as “historical” in nature, if even a modicum of attention had been paid, airports could have been informed and at the very least, Atta would have triggered an alert at Boston’s airport. If experts in the field had been consulted it wouldn’t have come as a surprise that terrorists would plan to fly planes into buildings. Tom Clancy had suggested just such a possibility in his book The Sum of All Fears.
The level of inattention before September 11th and the ensuing incompetence and multiple deceptions that occurred in the prosecution of our Iraq policy make the administration’s defense of its surveillance program almost ludicrous; much more direct action could have been taken at the time. Leaving aside privacy and civil rights issues, current operations are time-consuming abstractions that often prove irrelevant to the needs of the intelligence community.
The fact is that the people in charge of our government never had the slightest idea what to do about our most important national concerns. The president, un-traveled and uneducated about foreign affairs, had absolutely no big ideas about anything beyond our borders. It was easy for him to leave it to the neo-cons. He and his administration were too busy promoting an agenda that revolved around right-wing religious ‘values’, shifting resources to corporations and the wealthy, and trying to dismantle anything that smacked of New Dealism – – kind of a latter-day Nero fiddling away.
Finally there’s concern about what the administration thinks it has a right to do in the name of national security although it hasn’t provided adequate funding to secure either our ports or our borders. And, while Iraq and Afghanistan fester away with no end in sight, presidential wannabes like McCain are off trying to mend fences with the Christian right, and a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton is to be hosted by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
It just gets crazier and crazier. Maybe we won’t find a genius to put in the White House or congressmen with spotless records, but perhaps there are some reasonable alternatives to what we have now, people who will, hopefully, restore some measure of sanity to the national landscape.

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