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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The politics of fear and numbers

Polls show American's support for President Bush somewhere in the toilet. I realize first lady Laura Bush says she disbelieves the polls, and I don't blame her for standing behind her man, if that is what she is doing. Still, if Laura Bush really disbelieves how Americans feel about her husband then she ought to get out more often. By out, I mean in the real world as opposed to a rally where the tickets are given out to carefully screened individuals.

We have been hearing a lot about how "9-11 changed everything" and how we have to think differently. We are in a war on terrorism. Don't misunderstand me, I understand the threat of terrorists is real. It existed long before 9-11 for that matter.

When the President went on TV last night, he did so simply for the opportunity to soften up the negative numbers against him. Right now, Americans favor building a high wall around us and throwing the keys to the gate away.
Yes, some seventy percent of the American people want to close down the boarders. They want to close it down out of fear.

Some people are truly afraid of a terrorist walking across the boarder and it could happen. That is not how any of the 9-11 conspirators came in, but it is possible. There are a lot of other people who also want it closed out of fear, but that fear is not about terrorism but what they see as the assimilation of our American culture into large segments of diversified nationalities. They are fearful of the erosion of American job markets, and they are fearful of having to provide benefits and services to new people entering this country.

In fact, while the driving force in all of this is fear, it is really more the latter that the President is pandering to. Yes, I said pandering. Now, I'll tell you why. First of all, if the President was so all fire concerned abut the boarders, he would have ordered this done right away after 9-11. He has ordered wiretaps without court approval. He has ordered the collection of billions of people's phone records. None of those has he sought authority for, he just did it, in spite of existing laws that provide protections and oversight to such intrusions. He could have just signed an executive order and poof- put troops along the Mexican and Canadian boarders.

The only known terrorist entry attempt through the American boarders was the millennium bomber who used Canada, not Mexico for entry and was caught. But the President is focusing on the Mexican boarder not Canada. That is where people fear the greatest threat to American culture and jobs.

So the President now wants to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican boarder. I feel safer already! Don't you? Actually the Posse Comitatus Act would prevent these troops from making arrests of illegal aliens. They can only stand by and watch. Or call the actual boarder patrol and provide information to help them take the people into custody. So really this is not an addition of a big layer of added security. This is smoke and mirrors. The President has fallen on hard times with even his most conservative base. Plus, he wants to try and make his "guest worker" program for non-citizens more palatable with the conservative right. This is just the cod liver oil to help make it go down a little smoother.

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