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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Are you safer now than you were four years ago?

Ronald Reagan's 1980 victory can be attributed in large measure to the voters' answer to his simple question: are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Mired in the early stages of the Iranian hostage crisis, the public answer with a resounding "no," tossing out Jimmy Carter and launching a virtually uninterrupted push to install a conservative paradise on earth (except for that pesky Bill Clinton, but you how that was handled).

So 26 years into the GOP Conservative Paradise, it's only fair to ask a corollary of that question: are you safer now than you were four years ago? If you answer yes, you will be searched immediately to see what you are smoking.

Five years ago this week, the CIA presented (and George Bush apparently ignored) a daily briefing "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Less than one month later, four airplanes were hijacked, two destroyed the World Trade Center, one took a hunk out of the Pentagon and one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. George Bush stood on a pile of rubble in New York City and vowed to protect us.

Flash forward five years: a plot, alleged masterminded by Islamic extremists with ties to the Bin Laden organization is foiled. It was supposedly designed to blow up as many as 10 aircraft over the Atlantic, bound for the United States. The plot bears a strong resemblance to one foiled in the Philippines 11 years earlier.

In the intervening five years since Sept. 11, 2001, George Bush has guided the United States to war in Afghanistan and Iraq; along with his congressional colleagues created the Patriot Act which relies on wiretaps and secret surveillance; operated military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay; committed thousands of US lives to military operations; created a vast Department of Homeland Security; and talked tough about America's commitment to peace, freedom and democracy.

What has been accomplished?

The vanquished Taliban are staging a counter offensive and the elected leader of Afghanistan is mulling whether he will run again; Shiites and Sunnis continue to massacre each other in Iraq; and on a new front, Hezobollah, armed by Iran and Syria, is battling with Israel in the seemingly never-ending effort by Islam to destroy Judaism.

On the home front, the intelligence community is spying on cell phone records, library reading lists and anything else they can to try and track down "evil-doers." Away from the homeland, prisoners are kept without charges in secret prisons. In other words, the democratic civil liberties we are fighting for in the Middle East are being trampled in the name of that fight.

And despite all of those efforts, we are now faced with ever-tighter security checkpoints to make up for the fact we were not ready for this oldie but goodie one because we are fighting the last war against terrorists. Of course, if you take away the newspapers, how will people know the government is failing?

Anyone who dares suggest this fact of life is immediately labeled a traitor or coward, or worse still, a liberal, intent on strengthening our enemies.

George Bush's legacy. Do you really feel safer?

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