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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Nailing It Down
Will Saletan comes up big again in his assessment of Bush's fundamental flaws:
"It's funny, in retrospect, that Bush ran for president as a uniter. To unite a country, you have to acknowledge and reconcile differences. Bush doesn't work toward unity; he assumes it. He doesn't reconcile differences; he denies them. It's his tax cut or nothing. It's his homeland security bill or nothing. It's his terrorism policy or nothing. If you're playing politics, this is smart strategy. But if you're trying to help the country, it's foolish. The odds are that 50 percent of the other party's ideas are right. By ruling them out, you start your presidency 50 percent wrong."
I couldn't agree more with this take. Bush really does just assume that he is right. Granted there's nothing wrong with having convictions and even having strong ones, but with Bush it's more than that. For Bush the most important thing is pushing his radical agenda because he thinks it is the only way to do things. Meanwhile the country suffers.
The president should act above politics whenever possible, but Bush has shown that the White House is really nothing more than a plaything for whoever squeaks by every four years. Perhaps the president should govern with an understanding of the circumstances underwhich he was elected. Bush has never done that. Ever. More people voted for the other guy, but you would never know it from watching Bush in action.
The problem of course is that, while apparent to everyone else, this is hardly the way to unite a country that is in the midst of a global campaign against terrorism. Unity doesn't show up on its own. It takes effort. Bush clearly doesn't understand that.
In the Illinois Democratic senate primary, Barrack Obama won convincingly. He collected 53% of the vote and swept away his competition. On the Republican side, Jack Ryan won 36% of the vote and earned the right to fight on.
But what is most interesting about these results is not Obama's unexpectedly large numbers, but the actual vote totals themselves:
In the Democratic primary, Obama got 642,305 votes. On the Republican side, the entire field only received 638,502 votes. That's right, Obama managed to single-handedly gain more votes in his primary than all the Republicans could gain in theirs, COMBINED.
Finally Tom Daschle sounds like the leader he has been pretending to be the past few years.
"The purpose of government isn't to make the President look good. It isn't to produce propaganda or misleading information. It is, instead, to do its best for the American people and to be accountable to the American people.
"The people around the President don't seem to believe that. They have crossed a line -- perhaps several lines -- that no government ought to cross.
"We shouldn't fire or demean people for telling the truth. We shouldn't reveal the names of law enforcement officials for political gain. And we shouldn't try to destroy people who are out to make country safer."
You'll notice that not one of the Bush administration people who has gone on the defensive in regards to the Clarke allegations has addressed the substance of his charges. Instead Cheney goes on Rush Limbaugh's show and changes the subject to Clarke's character because he and Condi and the rest know that Clarke is throwing some real heat in their direction.
Government shouldn't be all about denials. We shouldn't be bombing the places that have the best targets if they aren't related. That just makes no sense. The administration needs to addrees Clarke's charges. Otherwise they are just running from the truth.
How is there even any debate about the Bush administration's commitment to fighting the terrorists responsible for the attacks of September 11 when there is repeated evidence to the contrary? This is simply unbelievable.
"In the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI, an internal administration budget document shows.
"The document, dated Oct. 12, 2001, shows that the FBI requested $1.5 billion in additional funds to enhance its counterterrorism efforts with the creation of 2,024 positions. But the White House Office of Management and Budget cut that request to $531 million. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, working within the White House limits, cut the FBI's request for items such as computer networking and foreign language intercepts by half, cut a cyber-security request by three quarters and eliminated entirely a request for "collaborative capabilities."
At a time when the threat of terrorism had boiled over into an act of terrorism, why would the White House cut funding for counterterrorism? It is one thing to neglect counterterrorism funding in the blissful days before September 11. To fully attack that decision is to play monday morning quarterback to some degree. But to knowingly cut funding after the attacks, when full knowledge of the terrorist threat had presented itself? That is simply inexcusable.