Words of Advice:

"We have it totally under control. It's one person coming from China. It's going to be just fine." -- Donald Trump, 1/22/2020

“We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here..and isn't it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama."
-- Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, 2/25/20

"I don't take responsibility for anything." --Donald Trump, 3/13/20

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bank Robberies and Terrorism

(As promised)

Bank robbery has been a Federal crime since 1934. Bank robbers can expect to do 10 to 15 years in a Federal prison, usually for making off with only a few thousand dollars. Supposedly, bank robberies have a very high closure rate (the perps get caught).

But banks still get robbed.

Terrorism, at its core, is done to terrorize people, to frighten them into doing what the terrorists want. The most successful terrorist attacks were the 9-11 attacks, which, for very little cost, have prompted this country to damn near go bankrupt with stupid wars and stupider security measures. We now have armies of well-paid contractors, sucking at the Federal teat, in order to generate thousands of reams worth of reports that nobody will ever read. We have built a massive new Federal bureaucracy that was totally incapable of dealing with a hurricane, but is fully capable of stealing shit from airline passengers, though they have a bad case of "gun envy" so they want guns.

We can no more "defeat terrorism" than we can defeat murder or the illegal drug/sex trades. There is not a single leader to terrorism. All we can realistically do is try to control terrorism, to make it a crime that only a moron would engage in, like bank robbery. The politicians who tell you that “terrorism can be eliminated” or that “Islam is the enemy” are either so stupid that they need to be watered twice a week or they are so manipulatively cynical that even Niccolo Machiavelli would be shaking his head in disapproval.

An example of this is Northern Ireland. Less than two million people live there. Less than a million of those, maybe 800,000 or so, are Catholics. Even twelve years after the reaching of the Good Friday Agreement, IRA splinter group terrorism is still a threat. What the terrorists are trying to achieve is an over-reaction by the British government. Nobody has forgotten that it was the British Army's Bloody Sunday massacre that ratcheted up the Troubles and brought many new volunteers to the IRA.

In many ways, we Americans have failed to absorb the central lesson of terrorism. The Bush Administration's efforts to fight terrorism could not have generated many more enemies if that had been their true objective. The Bush and Obama Administrations have made the destruction of the rule of law and the substitution of a system of elected tyrants their central plan to defeat terrorism. The Bush Administration asserted that it had the right to suspend habeus corpus if only it uttered the incantation "he's a suspected terrorist or a supporter of terrorism". The Obama Administration has elevated that to a claim to be able to kill anyone, anytime, anywhere if the same incantation is uttered.

Both Administrations claim the right to listen in on the telephone calls of Americans and to read our e-mails whenever they want. Both Administrations have been using law enforcement to spy on, if not outright suppress, those who dissent from their tactics of aggressive wars. Both Administrations have persisted in handing out the fiction that terrorism can be stopped 100% and that terrorism can be defeated. The Right has bought into this idea and has used the fear of another terrorist attack as a political cudgel.

Meanwhile, a significant percentage of the American people wet their pants whenever they think of terrorism. They seem to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that all it takes is to be Jack Bauer level mean in order to prevail. Tyranny does not bother them in the slightest (unless health care is provided, then they get mad). They are eager to surrender their freedoms and liberties for the chimera of safety. In this, they are treating terrorism like the Drug War, a war that has resulted in a gradual erosion of American rights and liberties.

The Drug War is a very close analogue to the War on Terrorism. This country has poured trillions of dollars over the last forty years into fighting illegal drugs. As any dispassionate observer will note, it has been an utter failure. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have done time and are doing time for possession of drugs. The Drug War has transformed much of the American police force into paramilitary goon squads. It is now an accepted tactic to break down the doors of residences to serve search and arrest warrants, something that 40 years ago was considered a hallmark of a police state. The possession of cash has been criminalized, with police confiscating money and then forcing people to prove that the money was legally theirs, rather than requiring law enforcement to prove just cause (as would be done in a nation that was truly operating under the rule of law).

40 years of eroding individual liberties and rights in the name of stamping out the drug trade have been fruitless. Drugs are far more available than they were 40 years ago. Cocaine was not a common street drug in 1970, it was far too expensive. It is not now. Marijuana is far more potent than in 1970. There are drugs now that were unheard of in 1970, such as Ecstacy and Meth.

This nation finally got smart about alcohol. It needs to get smart about drugs and it needs to get smart about terrorism.

I have no hope of those two things ever happening. There are too many people invested in those fruitless wars, from the hundreds of thousands of contractors who are producing those useless reports, the NSA which has undergone a huge expansion since 9-11, the DHS, which didn’t exist in 2001, not to mention all of those who have grown fat on the Drug War, such as the private prison industry (which did not exist 40 years ago) and the police departments which have grown fat on using confiscated monies and goods. Regaining sanity would break too many people’s rice bowls.

And in the meantime, the Right blathers on about the mythical threats of health care reform and the prospect of Social Security “going bankrupt” in 30 or 50 years while ignoring the real threats to American freedom and liberty posed by the ever growing American police state, a growth that the Right approves of, so long as the cops are focused on “those people”.*

We need to get a grip as a nation. But it isn't going to happen.

So in summation: We are so frakked.

__________________________________________
* The cops, of course, are complicit in this, which is why three Moslems with hair spray are terrorists and white people with guns who shoot up police stations, churches, bomb family planning clinics or case military bases are not considered to be terrorists, not until they kill over a hundred people.
In point of fact, this is not much different from gun control laws, which have historically been used to disarm the poor, the powerless and the minorities.

1 comment:

Nangleator said...

Remember the amusing story about the airline steward who quit his job in such a flamboyant way? Well, popping the emergency ramp and walking off was an illegal act, so naturally police had to arrest him.

50 cops surrounded his house and broke in, to arrest him. And I saw no mention on television or on blogs about this insane overreaction.

How soon before arrestees (whether jailed or proven innocent,) are billed for the SWAT team man-hours?