Scott Hardie | December 15, 2003
Well, if no one else will introduce the topic, I will.

I congratulate the troops and President Bush on this accomplishment. Finally, it can no longer be doubted that Saddam has been permanently removed from power. This is the most important step Iraq will take towards peace and democracy.

Also, it can no longer be said that the war has been pointless. Even if capturing Saddam was never our primary objective (as Bush has declared many times), it is still a humongous symbolic achievement, and will indeed have many positive consequences for the nation. His capture provides the best hope we have of determining once and for all either A) where the WMDs are hidden or B) that there were no WMDs after all. Our divided nation cannot rest until that question is answered.

I warn pro-this-war folks not to force a catch-22 on anti-this-war folks like myself. Since yesterday, I have read several letters-to-the-editor that simultaneously chastised us for denying the righteousness of the invasion earlier and chasised us for now congratulating Bush on Saddam's capture, since we don't have the right to "act like [we] had anything to do with it." In other words, we're bad because we didn't support Bush earlier, but we're also bad because we do support him now? What the fuck do you want from us? I still think this invasion was not justified (show me the WMDs), and I definitely still think that Bush went about this invasion all wrong, but I must congratulate him on his accomplishment. For eliminating the tiny chance that Saddam Hussein actually posed a threat to me, I thank President Bush. I'm sure I'm somehow safer now than I was 48 hours ago.

Anna Gregoline | December 15, 2003
I'm sure I'm NOT safer than I was before this happened - I don't think that his capture has anything to do with future terrorist attacks on us. It's a relief to the Iraqi people, though.

I'm glad it happened, but I fear that it will only encourage more U.S. "the ends justify the means" type conflicts, where the ends mostly do US benefit, not others. We didn't go to Iraq to save the Iraqi people. I wish we had, I would have been behind it. I just don't like being lied to.

And the whole thing for me was a slight let-down, cause my mom called me about it but said, "They caught Osama bin Laden!"

Lori Lancaster | December 15, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | December 15, 2003
I don't think it's a matter of the Iraqi people not being educated enough to know that Saddam was a bad leader - it's that anyone who resisted was killed, and killed nastily. It's scary to stand up when that happens.

Kris Weberg | December 16, 2003
I'm glad he's captured as well. Let him be tried, convicted, and buried as a historical footnote, a bad example. He's a mass murderer and a tyrant. and the world is a better place with him in custody. Of course, those terms could apply equally well to the leader of Uzbekistan, part of our wonderful Coalition of the Willing, so I'm not hailing this as any kind of moral victory on the part of any particular nation or faction.

On a side note, does anyone actually think this will seriously impact the current resistance in Iraq? While they've apparently found that Hussein was in contact with a group of resistance leaders, it doesn't seem like he was micromanaging anything in particular -- the hole he was found in had no communications equipment whatsoever, and his appearance seems to indicate that his resources were quite limited.

I'd be very glad if the resistance does crumble, if only because that can only speed up troop withdrawal and the establishment of an actual Iraqi government. Fewer people dying, faster road to freedom for the people of Iraq (and god, what a patronizing phrase that is). Unfortunately, I'm pessimistic about either of those things happening any time soon fo several reasons.

Jackie Mason | December 16, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | December 16, 2003
Hilariously frightening, to think that ANYONE in this country is stupid enough/has been hoodwinked well enough to think that Saddam was behind 9/11. I will never cease to be amazed.

Erik Bates | December 16, 2003
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Jeff Flom | December 16, 2003
A bittersweet day.
The day Saddam was captured was a day of celebration and of realization for me. I never agreed with the Iraq war on the grounds of terrorism links and WMD both of these were false allegations. The United States, as an example, has been in far greater danger from the Russians accidentally launching a 40 megaton nuclear warhead. For me the Iraq war was about two things: 1 Making sure that the men and women who died in the first war died for a reason, liberating Kuwait was not reason enough; 2 A Coup de Grace, a death blow - you don't leave your mortally wounded enemy on the field to suffer (for 12 years of sanctions not to mention the reprisal of Saddam after the uprisings in the south and north) because you are too queasy to finish the job.
So it was sort of an end to something that should have been done 12 or so years ago. Also, It gives me renewed hope that we can one day capture Osama as I did not believe we would ever find Saddam. Kudos to President Bush on accomplishing these goals.
That was the celebration, the realization was that Bush is, in the end, too idealogical. There are two ways to win a war. One is to make a deal with the military and or the people who control them to end the war and turn over control of their military assets. This works if the people your fighting are sensible and realise that they've lost and want to get on with their lives. This probably would have worked in Iraq but President Bush did not want to deal with Saddam. The way to win a war in which someone is not reasonable, say the Germans or Japanese in World War II is to make the cost so great that you take the fight out of them. This was done to both Germany and Japan as both, it was feared, would turn into insurgencies. Japan is the most obvious example, the United States said, without compunction, if you do not quit we will kill every last one of you. And we gave the proof. Now my point here is that President Bush did neither of these things. He was always very careful to say we're not targeting civilians etc. So he's not using option 2 to end the war. Neither did he use option 1. He made it clear that their would be no deals with Saddam. Now, as much as we don't like Saddam we have to deal with one fact, he was the President of Iraq and as such he had the ability to do 2 MAJOR things that the United States could not do: 1 He had control of the military and had we dealt with him he could have turned over control of all military assets to us. At the very least greatly reducing any insurgency. 2 He had control over Iraq's borders leading up to the war and could have kept foreign fighters out, again, at the least greatly reducing the insurgency. But, there were to be no deals with Saddam so men and women die needlessly and perhaps yet in futility.

Jackie Mason | December 17, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 17, 2003
You know, I was just being sarcastic when I said I felt safer. =P

Every time I see the photo of a bearded Saddam, my mind starts playing, "Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus..."

The most disturbing element of the story to me: Reading (many times) about Iraqis firing guns into the air in celebration. This is a practice engaged in by idiots the world over, but it's still ridiculously dangerous. I recently read a statistic that something like six deaths occur every July 4th in this country due to falling bullets.

I'd like to share today's quote from my calendar: On October 16, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld was asked to define terrorism. He said, "Terrorism, of course, has a lot of definitions and people have different views as to what it means precisely. For myself, I think of the word as meaning an act whereby innocent people are involved and killed." Iraqi civilians killed since we invaded: 8,110 and counting.

Anna Gregoline | December 17, 2003
Oh yeah. America is one of the biggest terrorists of them all, no question.

Think about how we would feel if another country or several decided to take us out, which could happen in the distant future if we keep attacking countries without provocation. I wouldn't blame them one bit.

The Saddam doll isn't half as hilarious to me as the Bush doll in that flight suit. Yikes.

Bryan Antonio Carroll | December 19, 2003
Well all I have to say is GOOD WORK! I mean for such a long time our troops were out there and I for one didn’t see any "real" progress. We were still being rebelled against, still being ambushed and attacked, so what did we accomplish in all that time? Not much I think... We were supposed to be helping establish a just government but instead we became babysitters. So as soon as I heard the news I had to be happy. Although I know this War is far from over at least we finally get to add a point to our side of the score board.

We got him

Mike Eberhart | December 19, 2003
You know, I'm not even going to try to reply some of these comments. "America is one of the biggest terrorists of them all, no question"!!!!!!! What the hell is that.... Obviously my views are completely opposite of all of yours. So, feel free to continue to bash the US, The president, and anything that involves our troops.

Scott Hardie | December 19, 2003
Not everybody here feels that way, Mike, not even most. Me, I quoted the number from Rumsfeld because I found the irony amusing; that's the extent of my own agreement on the matter. I don't like Anna's ridiculous statement either (sorry Anna), but what can be said back to it? If you don't reply directly to what others wrote, at least voice your own opinion on the subject. The eventual consequence of the conservatives & moderates keeping quiet will be that the liberals really will be the only opinion around here, and nobody wants that, least of all me. I'll say it as many more times as necessary until people get it: The strong, vocal liberals do not speak for everyone, only themselves.

Anna Gregoline | December 20, 2003
Scott's right, I never tell anyone what to think, simply voice my own opinion. I think the U.S. has been a tremendous bully as far as Iraq and many other countries are concerned, simply for the reason that we feel we can and do whatever we want, whenever we want, despite the voice of the people or international opinion. I just feel we're way too brash, and I'm sick of it.

Perhaps, as an American, *I'* come across too brash sometimes. I know my irritation at the political world lately has been at a breaking point, and I don't mean to sound so vitrolic. I have that problem on message boards anyway, but anyone who knows me knows that I usually voice most of my comments in a jovial, if not slightly sarcastic tounge. I'm rarely deadly serious about anything.

In conclusion, I like Tragic Comedy, and all of you. I want this to be an open forum, and not a place for petty debate - I see enough of that too. I'll try and tone down the anger, and perhaps we can get back to the interesting discussion I crave.

That said, I buried my aunt today and it's been a long, long day. I'm going to go to bed.

Kris Weberg | December 20, 2003
Well, let's see -- we backed a series of regimes in Guatemala that killed 110,000 people over 30 years, largely due to lobbying from the United Fruit Company; set up the so-called "School of the Americas" that trained numerous insurgents in torture, guerilla warfare, and terrorist tactics in the name of fighting the Cold War; tried to depose the democratically elected leader of Argentina last year or so because he was an extreme leftist; supported and gave shelter to dicators ranging from the murderous Duvaliers of Haiti to the fascistic Shah of Iran; and, oh yeah, openly funded and quietly continued to fund that Saddam Hussein guy even after 1988, when he was internationally condemned for using toxic gas on the Kurds, his own people, a fact roundle condemned by George Bush and Don Rumsfeld despite the fact the Bush's father did the funding and Rumsfeld has (as commemorated in a widely available photo) met and shook hands with Saddam in the 1980s. We supported the Mujahedeen in Afghnistan, including a younger Osama bin Laden; and hey, we were the original country to develop those nasty weapjns of mass desatruction called nuclear weapons, and thus far still the only country to ever use them, both times dropping them on major civilian population centers (albeit during a war).

Fuck yes, by the standards used by the current administration -- to wit, supporting terror, developing WMDs with intent to use them, destablizing foreign governments, and funding Islamic extremists -- we are indeed a terrorist nation.

The difference is, of course, that we have a political system and historical consciousness that allows our people and our legal system to learn from and correct our past crimes. Nations under tyranny don't have this chance.

Scott Hardie | December 20, 2003
And the list goes on; that's just the tip of the iceberg. I would happily argue against use of the Bush administration's definition for several reasons, including the spirit in which the listed actions were undertaken: Except for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we didn't engage in any of those actions for the express purposes of killing civilians or inflicting terror on the populace. But I cannot deny the technical definition of the word 'terrorism,' expressed here by the American Heritage Dictionary: The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons. Well... Yeah... I guess... there's just no getting around that. It would require a political technicality (something like "governments cannot be terrorists") for the United States not to meet that dictionary definition. If I'm going to cite the dictionary when I agree with it, like on April 30th, then I must concede to it when I disagree. I reverse my stance.

Jackie Mason | December 21, 2003
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Mike Eberhart | December 22, 2003
You know, this whole thread is just not right. You all think you know everything and how it should be done, but you are all basing your opinions on what you hear from CNN, and the other news channels. If you knew half of what I hear on a daily basis, you'd have a totally different viewpoint on what goes on in the world. I'd really like to expand on that, but I can't due to my job.

So, if you all have such a big problem with our country and how it's run, then why don't you do something about it. Get a government job, run for office, try to do something about it instead of bad mouthing it. If you worked in it like I do, you'd understand it better. That's the end of my soap box. Please continue to bash me, the US, and the military. Thanks.

Scott Hardie | December 22, 2003
Mike, listen. I'm not really interested in bashing President Bush just for the sake of bashing him. And I'm definitely not interested in bashing you or the military. Why must disapproval of the president's use of the military equal disapproval of the military itself? How come I'm not allowed to hope for the safe victory of our troops in the field if I opposed them going there in the first place? These are very complicated times in which we live; complex opinions are a natural result. I can be a proud American even if I don't agree 100% with government policies. (Hell, President Bush himself doesn't agree 100% with government policies.) I don't want to live in a black-and-white world.

I know you work for the military. So, your access to privileged information shapes your opinion. Dismiss me as ignorant or forgive me, but I don't have access to that same information. Is there nothing you can tell me? Not even in general? It's not like I want to be ignorant, you know. I try to keep an open mind about Bush; events like Saddam's capture remind me that, in his own way, the man is doing his share of good in the world.

To tell you the truth, I have never sincerely believed in the existence of a liberal media bias. However, I don't watch television news (I read Reuters and AP articles online), and I have never honestly tried to read the news from a conservative viewpoint. I can't say for sure whether there is a bias; it's a matter of perception. Anyway, what I mean to say is, please hold me responsible for my opinion, not some TV news channel.

I like you, Mike, and I respect you. In our limited contact over the past few years, you have struck me as a responsible, intelligent adult. If we have a disagreement, I want to know why; I want to learn your viewpoint, in your words, because I know you must have a worthwhile reason for your opinions. This site has a simple premise: I speak my mind, you speak yours, and maybe one or both of us can learn something. I know we often get negative around here (we're complainers by nature), but please believe me when I say that your input is valued. And I don't think I'm the only one who feels that way.

And, for whatever it's worth, I do plan to run for office someday. But I gotta get respectable first. ;-)

Anna Gregoline | December 22, 2003
Ditto to Scott's comments.

I'm not sure how this thread couldn't be "right." We're not doing anything wrong, and I think trying to discuss issues in a fair and open matter. I also see that we're basing our opinions on fact - everything that Kris listed has happened - it's a matter of history, of fact. And that all didn't come from CNN. I also have to agree with Scott that there might not be a liberal media bias - think about how many Americans get their news from television, and from Fox News, at that. Definitely not liberal!! I myself can't stand watching television news because I would rather read my news, and that's what I do.

Unfortunately, not many people can get a government job (or any job right now for that matter), or run for office to change things. They try to change things by voting, but look how that turned out last time. It's easy to see why so many people are feeling dispair over their ability to change their own government and their policies. "Bad mouthing" policies, not people, is a valid way to voice your opinion. I don't like Bush, but the reason I truely don't like him is because of what he DOES, not who he is. I think he thinks he is a good person, and he might be, but I don't have to like his decisions, nor pretend to agree with them or keep my mouth shut for appearances sake.

Mike Eberhart | December 22, 2003
Scott, in my posts, I'm not directing anything towards you. I know you get information from sources other than TV, and you do have a pretty open mind. It's the other people that I have an issue with. I really would like to tell you some more information, but due to security reasons, I can't. "America being a bully", that's just not right. We do everything we can through political means before having to resort to force, and when it does come down to that, it's very controlled and done in away to minimize civilian casualties, even though the media loves to report when we do hit civilians. Unlike the real terrorist's that do target civilians instead of military targets, we do our best to do nothing but hit military targets.

Now, I'm not talking about WWII, and the bombing of Japan, that was done with a totally different system when the military had more control over what they did. After that war, control over the military was turned back over to the civilian leadership. If you want to see a good movie that really depicts how the military really did their own missions, watch the movie Patton. It's a great movie.

As for the search for Osama, I can tell you that we are still majorly searching for him. It's just not being reported anymore due to the Iraq situation. There are still operations ongoing in Afghanistan right now. So it's not like they are just sitting there doing nothing. Afghanistan is a totally different animal compared to Iraq. It's a lot easier to hide there due to the mountainous landscape. But we will eventually bring him in.

There, I hope that helps clear my stance on the subject. Once again Scott, I have no problem with you or anything you write. And good luck if you do run for office. I'm sure you'd be great. :-)

Anna Gregoline | December 22, 2003
I have an open mind as well, and get my sources from other venues besides television, as I stated above. I think Scott would back me up on both of those statements.

It's not really a good argument to say, "I know more information than you do, but I can't tell you." I completely understand security reasons, but it's no way to present an argument.

The thing is, I don't think America DID do everything it could through political means before it attacked Iraq. That's one of my problems with it.

I'm happy with your assurances that we're still looking for Osama - I didn't really doubt that though. It would be a great victory for us, and definitely a feather in the cap of this administration. I hope we do find him, and soon.

You basically ignored my post, so I'll assume you don't want to talk further on this subject. That's a real shame, and one of the reasons that conservatives and liberals are dividing even further - because they can no longer have civil and balanced conversations.

Denise Sawicki | December 22, 2003
Chances are Mike's post at 10:24 wasn't "ignoring" Anna's post at 10:23, as they were probably composing their posts at the same time. :) That's all I have to say about that.

Mike Eberhart | December 22, 2003
Anna, if your talking about your post that was submitted about 1 second before my last response, I'm sorry, I didn't even know you had submitted it while I was typing that last response. I'll try to respond to it now.

The different events that Kris talked about is history, and it's all been well documented, and is readily available. I was talking more about current events when it came to the CNN, and Fox news, or whatever. I'm glad to hear that you do use other sources, because I really do think that CNN, and yes, Foxnews also, like to slant their reports to the public, either one way or the other.

As for the jobs. I went out on several websites for government contractors, and the site for GS jobs, and found many, many different job openings for postions throughout the government, and on military installations. So, I don't buy the there isn't any jobs out there line. If you want something, you just have to know where to look. If you want to have anything to do with the government, this is a good place to start. Yes, getting into political office would be a bit tougher, but it can be done. I, however, would not want to run for any kind of office, just because of how public everything is about your life. I like what I'm doing and plan on staying here for quite awhile.

Finally, If you don't like Bush, fine, but you have to know that he does have many advisors and people that he relies on for the many decisions he makes. Yes, he's the ultimate decision maker, but it's not like he's sitting in the oval office with a Risk board, moving pieces around to different parts of the world and saying, let's attack them and take them over this week. He recieves intel briefs daily, makes the best choices available to him from his military advisors.

Anna, I hope that covers your post, I didn't try to ignore you, I just didn't see it. I will try to reply to you more quickly next time. Thanks.

Anna Gregoline | December 22, 2003
Whoops - I didn't check the time it was posted, sorry about that.

What's interesting about current events is what will the official historical version be? I think that's why people (like me, sometimes) get so crazy about trying to show other viewpoints. Right now, the overwhelming amount of mainstream (meaning television coverage) media seems to be supporting Bush without question, and that bothers me greatly. The Bush Administration has been less than forthcoming about many of their actions, and the "official" version is often one that seems to ignore many valid questions.
An example is the
recent interview with Diane Sawyer:

BUSH: -- There’s no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person. And there’s no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that.

And there is no doubt that the president must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.

SAWYER: Um, again I’m just trying to ask -- and these are supporters, people who believed in the war --

SAWYER: -- who have asked the question.

BUSH: Well you can keep asking the question, and my answer is going to be the same. Saddam was a danger, and the world is better off because we got rid of him.

SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction, as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --

BUSH: So what’s the difference?

This is the sort of thing that Bush says regularly that bothers me...but the difference is huge to me, and to many other people.

But I don't WANT a government job...I also don't see that as a good solution for change. Everyone cannot get a government job, whether they are available or not, and not everyone wants one. What else is there to do then, but vote and join campaigns for your favorite candidates, and make your voice known, make known that your opinion is different than that of the administration's?

Every president has many advisors and people he relies on for decision-making. He might not be deciding who to attack next, but the administration might be. I know, I know, that sounds like I'm a crazy liberal black helicopter conspiracy theorist, and that's not what I mean. But I'm talking about the administration as a whole, and I think I always was. As I've said, I don't like Bush, but I hold the entire Administration responsible for their actions.

All this means to me that while I'm glad I live in America for the freedoms I enjoy, I feel more and more afraid of the retribution we will experience from the rest of the world as time goes on. And that if I lived anywhere else in the world that wasn't a direct ally of the United States, I would be afraid of us.

P.S. The excerpt is from a place called "liberal oasis", so that sucks (link via Metafilter). I couldn't find a complete transcript online. I wish I'd seen the interview. If you look at the transcript on the website - I took out all their little snide references in an attempt to be fair, such as "Bush sits with self-satisfied look on his face." Those are completely biased and subjective comments.

Aaron Fischer | December 23, 2003
This whole anti-government, anti-military line of thinking is making me sick! Let me talk a bit of rational sense that you can digest for a while: I have only one question: Have you ever considered any of the following before opening up and letting the hot gases spew forth???

1) The U.S. government is a group of highly-educated, highly experienced individuals that form a governing body that YOU, (yes that means all of us), vote into office by exercising our constitutional rights.
2) We count on these individuals to make decisions for the good of the country as a whole. While we may not like such decisions, or even just a few of them, too bad. Just sit back and wait until you can vote again!
3) You, (yes all of us here), even though we think we know everything (and trust me, you and I do not), are not made privy to many of the highly sensitive streams of intelligence that the president and his cabinet receive every day.
4) You (yes all of us), are not made aware of many of these threats because they would start mass hysteria, mobs, rioting, civil unrest, and other bad things to occur.
5) Although the president may not have made the same decision you would, he (in almost all certainty), made the decision to do what he did and thought to be the best course of action given the intelligence information, and the opinions of his advisors, that he was provided at the time.
6) President Bush found the strength to go forward, not listen to the media and anti-war protesters, and continued to push for what he determined was the best course of action for our military and nation.
7) Conclusion: Unless you are an elected government official, you have no right to make decisions, change foreign policy, or interpret intelligence reports to your own end.

Thank you and please enjoy your holiday season,

Aaron L. Fischer
Cryptologic Collection Technician (2nd Class)
United States Navy (Inactive)

Anna Gregoline | December 23, 2003
1. I didn't vote the last guy into office.

2. No, not too bad. I can choose what I want to agree with, and I don't agree with what's going on right now. No one who disagrees has to be silent.

3. Duh. I think we acknowledge that. I still don't like how the Administration is handling things - there are better ways.

4. Again, duh.

5. Right - but I don't like how he goes about it.

6. President Bush ignored all dissent. He might stick to his guns, but he sticks to them even after he's proven wrong. That isn't the mark of a strong person to me.

7. I have a right to question decisions. That's what America allows me. I don't understand why the argument is always, "You don't agree? Then you should shut up.

I don't accept that, and if I did, I wouldn't be a true American. How is that hard to understand?

Jackie Mason | December 23, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 23, 2003
What Anna wrote.

Aaron Fischer | December 23, 2003
1) No you didn't vote this "guy" into office... your fellow American's voted the President of the United States into office.
2) You can disagree all you want. Until another vote comes around this President and his general staff are in power.
3) Too bad. You and the media can feel free to continue to offer all the opinions you like. (Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.)
4) Enjoy!
5) Once again, I feel for you.
6) No presidential office ever really ignores the opinion of the voters. They just ignore the opinion of the voters they think will vote against them.
7) You (and I) do not have the right to question the decision of the highest office in the land. We can only offer opinions. Only the judicial branch and congress can officially question the decisions of the executive branch. Also, I’m not telling you to shut-up. I don’t believe I uttered any semblance to that phrase. Please feel free to provide entertainment for myself and the other conservatives in this forum.

Scott Hardie | December 23, 2003
Stop kidding around, Aaron. Your statement of "too bad, just sit back and wait until you can vote again" had a clear "shut up" connotation to it.

Until now, I was never really convinced you were just trolling on this site. If you're making a sincere effort to contribute to this discourse, then let's get on with it in peace; there's no need for hostility. If you're only trying to get a rise out of us for your own "entertainment," then you can take it elsewhere. Which is it?

Denise Sawicki | December 23, 2003
Wouldn't the raising of the terror alert to orange do something to help negate the idea that we are safer after Saddam's capture?

Mike Eberhart | December 23, 2003
I wouldn't really be all that concerned about the terror alert being raised. It was raised last year about this time. There are always lines of communication being intercepted from the terrorist groups, and the chatter always seems to increase around the end of the year.

All you can do is to go on about your life and just do things normally. The increased level is just to inform you that they have some new intelligence in hand. That's the authorities job to put in place increased security measures. So, I still think we are safer. Al Queda or however you spell there stupid ass name, is in pretty bad shape. Yes, they are probably trying to regroup, but it's taking them a long time to coordinate anything significant.

At most, they can still do little bombings in the middle east, but I'm not all that worried about that. Until they can show that they can reach us here again, there's really nothing much we can do about, other than be alert. However, if they do attack us here again, I would have NO problem turning the entire middle east into a parking lot, if you know what I mean.

Anna Gregoline | December 23, 2003
I've said it once and I'll say it a thousand times, even if it falls on deaf ears - I DO have the right to question what my government does. That is my right as an American.

Anna Gregoline | December 23, 2003
And what Scott said. Mike, come back! You offered far more to the conversation than Aaron.

Anna Gregoline | December 23, 2003
I'm not really worried about huge terrorist attacks right now - I'm worried about smaller things, like suicide bombers. But another big attack will be launched sometime in the future. I think the government is just being careful, which is good. And I would imagine that hitting us during the holidays would be a great victory for Al Queda, just like 9/11 had significance for the date.

Mike Eberhart | December 23, 2003
Don't worry Anna, I'm still here. Scott, I would say that Aaron is what you would call an extremist when it comes to the conservative side of things. I also am a Right wing conservative as you could probably of figured out by now, but that's just his style. He is quite serious, it just doesn't come across that way. You just have to know how to take his comments.

Anna Gregoline | December 23, 2003
I think we would take them a lot better if he was a bit calmer in his approach.

Jackie Mason | December 23, 2003
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Jackie Mason | December 23, 2003
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Erik Bates | December 23, 2003
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Anna Gregoline | December 23, 2003
I THINK I agree that the U.S. should make the world as safe as possible - but we went in with the Administration saying we were taking Saddam out because he had weapons capable of hurting US, as well as others. Oh sure, the official line changed, and once WMDs weren't found, it was a humanitarian mission, but that was the original story. I'm glad he's gone, but we could have gone about it a lot better, and in a way that everyone could have supported, including me.

Erik Bates | December 23, 2003
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Scott Hardie | December 24, 2003
Great comments.

Aaron, I apologize if I was too harsh. While Mike appeared to be merely frustrated, you seemed to be outright hostile just for the sake of getting us angry. I know you're not really like that.

Maybe this is an unpopular view, but I think we have a moral duty to question our government. It's supposed to be by and for the people, not by and for itself. I'm not saying that we should never agree with our government; I'm saying that we should only agree with it after we've thought things through. (Same goes for disagreeing.) Blindly accepting or not accepting the rule of our elected representatives does a disservice to our society; we're supposed to be better than that. As Erik said, "with great power comes great responsibility" - if we're going to empower ourselves to live in this representative democracy in an attempt to efficiently self-govern, then we have a responsibility to ourselves to hold on to that power and not give the government the authority to do whatever it pleases. How would rolling over help us in the long run? Although Matt Preston and I usually agree on politics, I couldn't disagree with him more when he says that the government should be free to keep any secrets it pleases at any time; that's true on matters of national security, but we can't hold the government accountable if that's true on every matter.

I guess it comes down to a question of priority: Are we subject to the government, or is the government subject to us? Not long ago I was debating the draft with some extreme conservative friends, who told me that, even in peacetime, every able-bodied young American should be compelled to serve in the military for two years (and those less-than-able-bodied should do desk work to make up for it). I could see this argument being made in favor of the country as a whole, as in, we owe it to America. But my friends said no, we owe it to the federal government. Forgive me, but I don't "owe" the federal government a goddamn thing: Not my money, not my youth, not my life, and definitely not my allegiance. Because the president, congress, governors, even city council are elected by our society and I have a proportionate say in their election, I give what I give in order to keep the power: What they decide is ultimately subject to what I decide. While I'll give the government the freedom (secrecy) it needs in order to protect our national security, I will not let go of the leash on any other matters, nor should I. (And yes, I know that I legally "owe" my money, life, etc to the government. I hope it's clear that I'm talking about what I morally "owe.")

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