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Decline & Fall

Friday, Mar. 14, 2008 3:48 AM

Sometime in the distant future, as archaeologists study the ruins of what was and theorize about what led to its collapse, I suspect it won't be global warming, fundamentalist Christians, or reality television.

It will be a simple progression. First, society loses its ability for critical thinking. Next, it loses its ability to observe their immediate environment. And finally, it stops thinking at all.

Maybe I need to etch that on a stone tablet somewhere ...

Speaking of someone who's lost their ability to think critically, observe their immediate environment, and think at all, we have President Bush:

"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed," he said. "It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks."

Yeah, there's nothing so romantic as getting blown up by a roadside bomb.

Mr. Bush, you are an idiot, a coward, and a liar, and deserve nothing but history's scorn.

Someone impeach this fool before he kicks off another romantic democracy-building moment in the Middle East.

But it's not just Mr. Bush who needs a kick in the pants; America's to blame, too. We're sitting by as our economy founders, crooks trample the Constitution, and our military grinds itself to powder trying to complete a non-existant mission.

Yet instead of elected representatives filing articles of impeachment, instead of the media laying bare the seemingly endless pile of lies oozing out of the White House ... we're busy searching the web for pictures of "Kristen," the high-priced prostitute linked to disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and listening to 'experts' opine about the motives of the rich and powerful.

Spitzer got caught, and I'm not shedding any tears. Maybe he wasn't paying attention to the whole warrantless wiretap thing, or figured no one else would be sifting through the numbers like he did. But he's resigned, story's done. Stop giving the girl (oh, excuse me, 'aspiring singer') free press. I expect she'll be posing nude in Playboy any day now.

Here's another tidbit which has eluded our notice: a survey by the Pew Research Center shows that just 28% of Americans are able to correctly place American casualties in the Iraq War at close to 4,000 dead. (The figure from the Department of Defense is 3,974, with thirteen more awaiting confirmation, for a total of 3,987.)

I'm not sure what to make of the 'secret session' for Congress to debate FISA revisions, including telecom amnesty. Why is there need for secrecy? Is the White House, in secret, going to reveal the depths of their perfidy, or the telecoms their complicity in illegal activity? I doubt that very much.

Our security needs to be open and honest, as we've all got a stake in how it works (and whether it works at all). The argument that discussing methods gives things up to the enemy is a straw man; our security must function whether or not a given enemy has knowledge of particulars.

That is, it doesn't matter if we catch a terrorist's phone call to Osama - they still have to get around a battery of other security measures, all overlapping, and which provide security by default should they fail.

Thieves know your front door has a lock, after all. They know you have an alarm. They know police patrol your neighborhood, or that there's a neighborhood watch. You don't go around saying, "I'm not going to tell you if I have a lock on my front door or not, because it would give away information to the criminals."

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