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Will terrorists get us? Of course not.

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“If we don’t fight them there, we’ll fight them here.” You’ve heard it.

But just how dangerous is terrorism? Consider comparisons from the San Franciso Chronicle:

… the historical odds that an American will die this way [from a terrorist act] are 1 in 9.3 million. You’re slightly more likely to die in an avalanche, more than twice as likely to perish in a bus accident, 40 times as likely to drown.

Put it another way: For every American killed by a terrorist, 2,427 die of skin cancer, 4,893 expire in car accidents, 9,735 are shot to death by nonterrorists and — you might want to stub out your cigarette before reading this — 30,666 are claimed by heart disease and another 18,074 by cancer.

That’s for one person killed by a terrorist. In “bang for the buck” terms, the war on terror is a bust. Millions more American lives could be saved by declaring “war” on murder. Or improving highway safety. Or dropping subsidies on tobacco. Or finding a cure for cancer.

So much for the “clash of civilizations.” War, friends, is dumb.

Related posts: Most-decorated US Marine on war
A brief history of Iran-US relations, part 1: Constitution to Khatami
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Written by Monte

August 6, 2007 at 1:00 pm

William Ayers chats with reporters

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While waiting for the Grant Park rally to begin, reporters knock on William Ayers’ door. The truth?

When he said he wished he’d “done more,” he didn’t mean “bombed more.” He wishes he’d been more unifying, more principled in his opposition to the Vietnam war. He barely knows Barack Obama.

clipped from
He said that he laughed when he listened to Sarah Palin’s descriptions of Obama “palling around with terrorists.” In fact, Ayers said that he knew Obama only slightly: “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.” […]
Ayers said that he had never meant to imply, in an interview with the Times, published coincidentally on 9/11, that he somehow wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence […]
Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more[…]
“While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” he said. “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.” And yet he was not without regrets […]
“I wish I had been wiser,” Ayers said. “I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled […]

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In other words, the whole “palling around with terrorists” scare was Rove-style Politics 101.  Here’s hoping that those so ethically challenged awaken to the fact that most Americans declined to believe them.

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Written by Monte

November 7, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Politics

McCain dons the sad mantle: Deceiver-in-Chief

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Mr. Bush

Mr. Bush

I remember when I realized George W. Bush was a liar. It was November 8, 2006—the day after the mid-term elections. It had taken me six years to admit the truth. A week earlier, Bush had said in no uncertain terms that Donald Rumsfeld would stay on until the end of Bush’s presidency.  “Both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them.”  The day after the election, Rumsfeld was gone.  When asked about the turn-around, the President said:

BUSH: You and Hunt and Keil [reporters] came into the Oval Office and asked me to question one week before the campaign. Basically, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? […] The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer.

Yes, he’d been talking to Rumsfeld about resigning for some time.  Yes, he had been actively seeking Rumsfeld’s replacement at the time.  Yes, a campaign was on and he didn’t want to affect the outcome of the election.  Next question. Wait.  Say what? You made a bald-faced, straight-up lie to the American people from the Oval Office in order to get votes? You lied – not for national security – but to score points in an election? Yes, uh-huh, next question.  No big deal.  What’s a guy supposed to do?  No remorse whatsoever.  Next question.

Mr. McCain

Mr. McCain

Suddenly an awful lot of things made sense. It was to become the modus operandi of the Republican party.  Yes, Democrats stretch the truth too, and I despise it and let them know I do.  But the look-you-in-the-face flat-out lie—that is of a different order. McCain and Palin have picked up the mantle of George Bush. And with Obama opening up a sizable lead, and independents unimpressed by McCain’s positions, deceit—and a final farewell to hard-won honor—may seem like the candidate’s only hope. Had we correctly evaluated George Bush, tens of thousands would still be alive.  We dare not make that mistake again. UPDATE, 6:50P.M.:  Shields up; here they go.  From MSNBC:  Palin: Obama ‘palling around with terrorists’

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October 4, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Politics

We scarcely do diplomacy

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Diplomacy is making a headline or two. American diplomats are —wonder of wonders— talking to Iran for the first time in what, forty years? I want to say, “Where have you been?

I’m learning that diplomacy’s near absence is not uncommon in US foreign relations. Nicholas Kristof, writing in the New York Times, illustrates:

The USA has more people in its military <i>bands</i> than in its diplomatic corps (U.S. Army Ceremonial Band)

The USA has more "musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats" (photo: U.S. Army Ceremonial Band)

The United States has more musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats. […] More than 1,000 American diplomatic positions are vacant, but a myopic Congress is refusing to finance even modest new hiring.In short, the United States is hugely overinvesting in military tools and underinvesting in diplomatic tools. The result is a lopsided foreign policy that antagonizes the rest of the world and is ineffective in tackling many modern problems.

Huh. Then this stunner:  One of the voices pleading for increased US diplomatic ability is none other than Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

“One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win,” Mr. Gates said. He noted that the entire American diplomatic corps — about 6,500 people — is less than the staffing of a single aircraft carrier group, yet Congress isn’t interested in paying for a larger Foreign Service. […] Read the rest of this entry »

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August 10, 2008 at 5:29 pm

The Declaration of Independence and human rights

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To commemorate the 4th of July, here’s Declaration of Independence, as published by The Pennsylvania Packet, one of the great Philadelphia newspapers of the day.

According to

Congress had appointed a Committee of Five to draft a statement to the world presenting the colonies’ case for independence. The committee consisted of John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The committee assigned Jefferson the task of writing the original document. After minor alterations were subsequently made by Franklin and Adams, the document was submitted to Congress.

Two passages in Jefferson’s draft were rejected by the Congress — an intemperate reference to the English people and a scathing denunciation of the slave trade. Otherwise, the Declaration was adopted without significant change…

Declaration of Independence

In these days of controversy over the treatment of immigrants and the detention of suspected terrorists, perhaps it’s useful to remind ourselves that this founding document of America acknowledges that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Further, securing those rights – the rights of all, not just citizens – is the reason for which governments “are instituted.”

Nothing could be more American.

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Written by Monte

July 4, 2008 at 10:33 pm