Thursday, March 6, 2008

Starr Wars II: Attack of the Drones

Today, one of Hillary Clinton's spokesmen, Harold Wolfson, compared Barack Obama's statement that he's going to be more critical of Hillary's record to the Whitewater investigation headed up by Kenneth Starr.

Yeah. It doesn't make sense to me, either.

Naturally when something like this happens, I look to talk radio's big guns, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck to see what they think was the motivation. I didn't find anything on Rush's website where he talked about it, but I did get to see the lovely collection of Club Gitmo wear. I listened to Hannity and he was still on the "Obama's racist Pastor" kick in between chats with guests. And Beck? I'm not sure it hit early enough for him to comment on it today, so I went 0 for 3 with the guys who get paid to comment on this sort of thing.

When I started thinking about it at first, it seemed rather disjointed. Who even remembers that much about Ken Starr these days besides the Clintons and their followers? Ah, but there's the rub! It comes down to this election, but not in the way you think.

Right now, Hillary could win the Democratic nomination by virtue of securing enough super delegates. With Obama starting to try to get Hillary's super delegates on his side, she knows she'll have to retain as many as she can while trying to attract as many of Obama's super delegates as possible. So, her campaign brings up an old boogeyman in the form of Ken Starr, hoping the super delegates who remember him flock to her to protect her from Obama's attempts to...well, to campaign against her.

The potential pitfall to this is if Democrats start to think about how weak a comparison Wolfson made. Seriously, asking about Hillary's tax returns as a means to suggest she's not being completely open about herself is akin to Ken Starr's investigation into Whitewater? That's a bit of a stretch, even for someone enamored with the prospect of a former First Lady becoming President. At some point, you can't play the "victim card" and have it work. This is one time when it definitely doesn't work when you really think about it.

Of course, you never can tell when something will work. Who would have thought Hillary crying would have helped her win New Hampshire?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rubbernecking at the Societal Freak Show

Have you ever seen "The Moment of Truth"? If you haven't, it's a game show on Fox that puts contestants on a polygraph, ask them questions ranging from benign to highly personal, and then ask them some of the questions they've answered previously to see if they're telling the truth on camera for a chance to win $500,000. And the toughest questions are saved for later on, as you might expect.

And let me tell you, it's uncomfortable to watch.

I'm not the type to force people to do my bidding (because if I did, Jessica Alba would be here and the blog would not matter), but I seriously want people not to watch this show. I'm sure there are people who would appreciate digging deeply into the psyche of the contestants, but some things should not be seen on television. This is way too real, even for reality TV.

Of course, Fox will say that they're only giving the people what they want. If they're right, we're much further along in our social disintegration than I thought. Where have we put our compassion for our fellow human beings? Seriously, this is the kind of stuff that would fall way into the TMI section if people volunteered this stuff on their own.

Perhaps more disturbing than the invasion of privacy that "The Moment of Truth" is the fact that these people are willing to destroy their lives and the lives of loved ones for money. I'm a capitalist, but even I have limits. When people's lives get destroyed in a pursuit of money, it becomes that much more important that we don't give our consent, silent or overt. Have we become so corrupted as a society that we take a perverse joy at watching the pain of others?

In a way, we've always been like that. As wonderful and moral as we think we are, we all have darker influences that creep into our minds and hearts from time to time. It's a part of human nature, but that doesn't justify our actions. We can and should strive to be better than our baser natures. "The Moment of Truth" should only be on the air for one more moment before being filed away like the bad show it is.

Of course, that would mean we'd have to stop rubbernecking long enough to make that notion a reality.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rethinking the War on Terrorism

It's been going on 7 years since 9/11, putting us on a course that put us in a war against global terrorism. Since I don't think anyone else is doing it, I figured I'd give some thought to how well the war on terrorism is going.

In the aftermath of 9/11, America took a bold step forward to challenge the terrorists, one I still agree with wholeheartedly. Yet, as time has passed, that bold step has been turned into a baby step. We're still fighting the terrorists as we should be doing, but I don't think we really think about the importance of that fact on our daily lives. President Bush, to his credit, told us that it would take a while to win, but we didn't get that. For many Americans, a long time is two weeks.

Like it or not, we got spoiled during the 90s. With the Soviet Union falling, we were the lone superpower in the world, so we did what seemed logical at the time and started to scale back our military operations and retool our thinking. With these actions, we became insulated with a false sense of security while another global threat on the horizon waited for its time to strike. And strike it did.

Once we saw that we weren't as safe as we thought, we woke up for a time. Ah, but with time, political spin from both major parties, and a shortening attention span or perspective on history, many Americans either forgot we were fighting the war on terrorism or merely disregarded it like a year-old advertising slogan. Once this started happening, we started losing the home front in the war on terrorism.

If you were to ask the average American on the street today whether we were winning or losing the war on terrorism, I honestly think the majority would say we were losing. Why? Although we haven't done everything we should be doing (like securing the borders and using more realistic standards for airport security) to combat terrorism, we're at least in the game. That's a step in the right direction, but we need more than a step. We need to be willing and able to fight the terrorists where they are and tell our international critics to sod off.

Unfortunately, we're not doing as much of either as we need to in order to be serious about fighting international terrorism. We're so concerned about fighting the "right" war that we're giving up ground to those who don't share our sense of battlefield fairness. The terrorists can and will use our freedoms and adherence to preserving them where we can against us. In short, while we squabble over whether to shut down Gitmo or whether the PATRIOT Act should be repealed, we're taking our eyes off the terrorists who want us dead.

We're past the point where we can point to one President or another as being to blame for our lack of readiness on 9/11. Looking at the past is only useful as a tool to know what not to do in the future. Instead, we should have our eyes fixed on our eventual goal and the path to get us there.

Yes, dear readers, we need to rethink the war on terrorism, not whether it was a worthy undertaking, but whether we're really fighting it as well as we need to do to survive. And if we're not, we need to figure out how to make it happen so that we do. Our nation's protection, and the protection of the world for that matter, isn't a political football to be tossed around during an election year to help one candidate or another. We need to take the war on terrorism seriously, and that requires us to do some serious rethinking about it to ensure that we're taking it as seriously as required to win it.