A Debate We Can/not Have

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How many times since 9/11 have we heard the outcry from the Right — from the president, from members of congress, from FOX News, etc. — that we just can’t have a debate?  That if we have a debate, it aids our enemies?  That if opposition to some policy or piece of legislation is expressed, it gives comfort to our enemies?  That if specifics are discussed openly, it reveals our methods?

If I get the time, I’ll research it and try to come up with a number and some links, but I think it’s safe to say it’s been quite a lot.

So why is President Bush now revealing to al-Qaeda that without the specific provisions of the Protect America Act, America is unable to defend itself?  That we are wide open to attack?  That they can get together freely and plot anything they want, and we’ll never know a thing about it?

Does it not comfort and encourage our enemies to have our commander-in-chief declaring to all the world that we are vulnerable?  Does it not give them some insight into our methods to have him hyperventilate about the loss of the specific provisions of a specific piece of intelligence legislation?  Can they not ask, “Gee, I wonder what’s so important about the provisions of the PAA as opposed to the provisions of FISA,” and garner a useful understanding of our methods and weaknesses?

Which is it, Mr. President?  Can we debate defense and intelligence policy, or can’t we?

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10 Responses to “A Debate We Can/not Have”

  1. captmidknight Says:

    JU
    I don’t have anything to contribute on this topic right now, but I wanted to let you know that, after the discussion of “No Country for Old Men” and your mention of “Blood Meridian” as one of your favorites by McCarthy, I picked it up on my next trip to the book store and just finished it.

    It’s certainly an interesting book – especially if you like Old West history – and is full of gritty and memorable characters. I’ll have to confess, though, that I felt that much of the narrative was less about moving the story along and more to demonstrate how many complicated and colorful metaphors and similes the author could construct and fit on each page, or how many obscure and archaic words he could use in the same sentence.

    It was a pretty good tale, over all, but, at the end, I couldn’t quite get past the feeling that the author was really saying “There’s really a deep and cosmic message in here somewhere – if only you were smart enough to get it.” It’s probably just me being jealous that I wasn’t an English major.

    I’d love to hear our English professor’s opinion.

    Sorry for the interruption. Back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

  2. Michael Lasley Says:

    i’ve not read it, Capt. so i’m no help to you. as a general rule, though, when i get the feeling that that’s what an author is telling me, i quit reading whatever it is they wrote. i hate it when artists talk-down to their audience. but that’s just me.

    as for you, JU. see…your problem is that you don’t understand what we’re allowed to debate and what we’re not allowed to debate. it’s not defense and intelligence policies we can’t debate. we’d be allowed to debate those things if we just agreed with the people in charge.

    what we aren’t allowed to debate the administration.

    because they this big cosmic message if we were only smart enough to get it.

    (sorry, capt., that was my literariness coming out…you know, trying to be clever with a text and whatnot. i wasn’t trying to be be smart-alecky toward you.)

  3. alsturgeon Says:

    Thanks for introducing a catch-all topic JU.

    Hey Mikey, it’s suddenly looking like we’re heading your way in August. I just submitted my housing contract, and after confusion with my ID number, I ended up speaking with the lady in the housing department that is in the know – she said she doesn’t see any problem with getting us into married/family housing. Will mail out stuff in 2-3 weeks, but I’m taking her assurance as the news I wanted to hear.

    So is Pepperdine big enough for two hungry hippos?

  4. Michael Lasley Says:

    GREAT TO HEAR!!!! look forward to you being here.

  5. urbino Says:

    Be careful that your paperwork doesn’t end up in a pile instead of a file. Have Mikey look after it for you. He’s good with that kind of thing.

    And congrats! That must be a load off your mind.

    It’s been years since I read Blood Meridian, Cap’n. For me, it succeeded at doing what great art should do: it absorbed me, whole, into the world of its making. (The landscape, especially.) But, of course, art is funny about that. A given work will absorb one person, and leave another cold; while some other work, equally “valid” as art, will work just the reverse.

    A lot of people — in my profession, especially — find Richard Powers’ novels to be masterpieces, and he has the awards to back that up. I’m happy to acknowledge all of that, but, nonetheless, he just does nothing for me.

    I don’t claim to have fully gotten the Meaning (queue the violins) of Blood Meridian. (I try not to pay much attention to such things; I figure if a book succeeds at what it’s trying to do, well, then, it’ll succeed: I’ll understand it. I just follow along and let the book do [or not do] its thing.) I can only say it does seem to me McCarthy is trying to do something pretty large, along the lines of Moby Dick. Melville’s book didn’t absorb me. At. All. McCarthy’s did. Why, is anybody’s guess.

    Anyway, sorry you didn’t like it. I’ll try to do better next time. 🙂

    your problem is that you don’t understand what we’re allowed to debate

    Yes, I think that much, at least, is clear.

    because they [have?] this big cosmic message

    “Do everything I think is a good idea, or somebody’s going to get killed.”

  6. captmidknight Says:

    Michael said:
    because they this big cosmic message if we were only smart enough to get it.
    (sorry, capt., that was my literariness coming out…you know, trying to be clever with a text and whatnot. i wasn’t trying to be be smart-alecky toward you.)
    _______
    Actually, I’m flattered that I generated a phrase you saw fit to repeat. I confess that I did get the feeling that, once in a while, McCarthy seemed like he was “showing off” a little.

    Whether or not I might agree in the case of JUs post, I have certainly gotten that same feeling – if I were only smart enough, I would get it – from any number of politicians, academics, theologians and other assorted keepers of the intellectual flame over the years. The fact that sometimes they are right doesn’t make me like it any better.

    Come to think of it, if you WERE trying to be smart-alecky, I might not be smart enough to get it.

    Al, If you wind up out on the Left Coast, will you buy or rent the surf board?

  7. alsturgeon Says:

    Thanks, Mikey. Save us a spot. Hillary’s pumped about going to Malibu Middle School. She’ll be the coolest poor kid there.

    Thanks, JU. I’ve made myself a 1st class nuisance I think, so hopefully I won’t get in the slush pile. If so, I’ll blame Mikey.

    And Cap’n, do I need to learn to swim before learning to surf? I’m thinking I’ll be happy sitting and watching.

  8. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    Anyway, sorry you didn’t like it. I’ll try to do better next time.
    _____
    I didn’t say that I didn’t like it. McCarthy did a great job of “evoking the times” – certainly makes you glad you didn’t live in Mexico and the Southwest during the 1840s and 50s. I doubt that many of us coddled 21st century types would have lasted a day. And there’s no denying his skill with words – who knew there were 187 different ways to describe the sun coming up over the desert? – but sometimes I wished he’d just get on with the story. I thought “No Country for Old Men” was much more straightforward plus it had a really scary villain with a unique murder weapon. To each his own.

    Al said:
    do I need to learn to swim before learning to surf? I’m thinking I’ll be happy sitting and watching.
    ________
    Good thinking!

  9. urbino Says:

    She’ll be the coolest poor kid there.

    Maybe they’ll make a reality tv show about her. If they don’t, she’ll be the only kid there without one.

    hopefully I won’t get in the slush pile. If so, I’ll blame Mikey.

    It’ll almost certainly be his fault, anyway, so you might as well.

    but sometimes I wished he’d just get on with the story

    Yeah, it’s not as tightly plotted as some of his other novels are. It’s one of those trips where you kinda have to enjoy the scenery along the way enough that you don’t mind the slow pace and the wandering around.

  10. alsturgeon Says:

    If any of you are bored and/or interested, check out Malibu High School on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malibu_High_School – some pretty interesting stuff as you read through… I think I like the “located one block from the Pacific Ocean” best… 🙂

    Just starting to sink in that my little girl will be there next year.

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