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According to the New York Times, the federal government was able to disrupt a terror plot aimed at the Brooklyn Bridge by using information gleaned from intercepted phone calls that originated in the United States. Domestic surveillance saves lives.
That's the administration's position. Most Americans seem to agree. I'm not entirely sold. I'm as against terrorism as anyone. And I think most of the criticism you hear from civil libertarians about the administration's handling of the war on terror is overblown. Bush may be a bad president, but this isn't a police state, not even close.
To claim otherwise is to insult the world's many genuine police states. But I'm still bothered by the NSA story. Here's why:. Why didn't the Administration bother to get warrants for the wiretapping? Bush's aides claim there wasn't time; the terror threats were so pressing, bureaucratic niceties could have been dangerous.
Sounds good, except that the law that governs federal eavesdropping allows the government to apply for a warrant after the wiretap has already been conducted. So that's not a serious excuse. The real reason is that the White House decided it didn't have to ask permission to wiretap. Bush's lawyers concluded that as president of a country at war, he had the constitutional authority to take any steps necessary to protect the country, regardless of the law. Bush's lawyers have a point. There are circumstances when the country's interests take priority over its laws.
But by definition such circumstances are temporary. In the long term -- for instance, in the four years since -- a president either has to obey the laws or change them. If Bush believes that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is incompatible with fighting the war on terror, he should ask Congress to scrap it.
Unfortunately that is not Bush's way. Bush distrusts rhetoric. He hates to explain and persuade. He'd prefer to decide and delegate. So instead of taking the time to convince members of Congress -- and for that matter the public -- that the government needs to start spying on Americans, he went ahead and did it in secret. All of which might be fine, for now. There's no evidence the NSA hurt anyone. But the principle is troubling. Do we really want to empower the president to ignore Congress, our most democratic institution?
Bush's defenders aren't bothered by the idea because they trust Bush. But Bush won't be in office forever. Keep those e-mails coming to Tucker msnbc. President Bush's approval ratings have risen eight points in the past month, and while they're still low 47 percent, according to thethe trend is clear: Bush is getting more popular. The conventional explanation is that a strong economy and a peaceful election in Iraq have allowed voters to forget about Hurricane Katrina and the CIA leak case.
But that's only partly right. The main reason more people like Bush, I think, is because he's saying hopeful things about Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was a horrible mistake. That's my position, and polls show the position of most Americans. Even the administration concedes that the central assumption that spurred us to war that Saddam possessed WMD was false.
No speech can change that fact. For the administration, the debate over why we went to war with Iraq is unwinnable. Bush seems to understand this. The debate now is over what to do next. In his address Sunday night, Bush described Fireman looking for nsa tonight after i get off work choice as one between victory and defeat.
You can argue with his logic stalemate is always an optionbut not with his instincts. Bush understands that defeat is what Americans fear most, more than chaos in Iraq, more than an unstable Middle East, more even than thousands of dead U. An American humiliation in Iraq would be devastating to America.
Americans know this, on a gut level if nowhere else. Bush's answer to our fears is bluster: The war in Iraq is morally just, and we are winning it. Is this in fact true? I have doubts on both counts, but ultimately it doesn't matter. Americans need to believe it. Because self-confidence is the key to national success. Ask the British, whose empire went from the most powerful on earth arguably in history to a footnote in a single generation. The reasons are many and complex, but the precipitating event was the First World War. Not only did that war kill off many of the most capable people in the country Harrow alone lost graduates; Eton,it changed the way the British understood themselves.
Despite their sacrifice, many in England came to see the war as pointless, an exercise in futility rather than righteousness. Within 30 years, the British Empire had evaporated.
You could spend a career arguing about whether the British Empire was worth preserving. The point is, it perished by suicide not murder. The average Englishman lost confidence that his culture, his religion, his language, his country, was superior to anyone else's. At that point, empire became unsustainable. You can't proselytize if you no longer share the faith. Whether we admit it or not, America has an empire. We rule the world by rhetoric and economic power and cultural appeal, and only occasionally by force.
Other nations defer to us because we seem to know what we're doing, and also to believe in it. The moment we lose faith in our own superiority, it's over. The age of American influence will end. A younger, more ambitious, certainly less altruistic nation will fill the vacuum we leave. America itself will recede to second-tier relevance in global affairs: Canada, but more crowded.
It's a depressing thought, not just for us, but also for the rest of the world. It's bound to happen someday. It'll happen a whole lot sooner if the war in Iraq is perceived by Americans as a disaster.
And so back to Bush. Yes, the war in Iraq is his fault. Yes, he has badly botched the handling of that war.
And yes, his predictions of a stable, peaceful and democratic Iraq are almost certainly wildly optimistic. But wild optimism is our only option at the moment.
Bush may be making it up, but it's in our interests to believe him. If there's one thing you know about Tucker Carlson, it's that he doesn't do anything halfway. While many television hosts settle for merely taking shots at individuals or organizations, Tucker prefers a bit larger target. A target the size of, say, Canada. To his credit, Tucker saw a window to create an international incident and he did not hesitate to seize it.
He likened Canada to a stalker of the United States - a country completely obsessed with the neighbor that hardly knows it exists. Canada has creepy pictures of the U. In short, his theory goes, Canada's perpetual frustration with the United States is the fermented product of the sour grapes that grow in the soil of unrequited love. Faster than you can say "Newfoundland and Labrador" that's a Canadian province for those of you scoring at home"The Situation" e-mail and voic boxes began to fill with the angry voices of a nation scorned.
Incidentally, Tucker was inconsolable in the weeks following the Nordiques' departure, but that has no bearing on this discussion. In some ways, Tucker is right. Canada is not a country without flaws. I mean, the Queen of England is on the money, for God's sake.
You're better than that, Canada. I'd go with either Wayne Gretzky or Pamela Anderson, but nobody asked me. Enough about what's wrong with Canada. I'm here to defend our neighbor to the north. The neighbor who you can always go to for a cup of sugar in a pinch by the way, has anyone ever actually walked over to a neighbor's house for a cup of sugar? Seems like more trouble than it's worth. The neighbor who provides safe haven for our cowards in times of war. The neighbor who, quite frankly, has the preferable side of Niagara Falls. I've always felt Canadians do a poor job of defending their fine country.
They're always saying things like, "We've got the world's longest coastline". All you're doing when you go public with information like that is encouraging Donald Trump to build a taller freestanding structure. Please don't encourage him. What you should be emphasizing, in the humble opinion of this Yankee, is your contribution to the television landscape of the s.
Two of the most influential sitcoms of our time owe their success to Canadians. Michael J. Keaton" character. Did you really think people were watching for Kirk Cameron? Thicke was the glue that held the Seaver family together and everybody knew it. Now if only Tony Danza were Canadian, we'd have the '80s sitcom trifecta.Fireman looking for nsa tonight after i get off work
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