Originally Posted by QBNCGAR
1) I don't give it much thought. Every administration operates secretly. If in fact we knew all the reasons why, we may find that we agreed that it was for the best. We as a people can trust that our elected officials aren't acting with malice toward their constituency - it doesn't mean we can't keep tabs on them (to be sure), but the people keeping the "checks and balances" need to be at least as informed and as smart as the people they're checking and balancing. This is to say, most of us aren't nearly apt enough or privy enough to form opinions based on all the facts, or offer suggestions that take into account all the factors. I don't see that an even insignificant fraction of the populace is being targeted for oppression by the government - I continue to operate under the assumption that this is because there is no such plot to oppress us all.
Not to intentionally just break up this happy family, I take exception to much of what you just said. First, I am confused by your defending of the unusual measures of secrecy and circumvention of the laws pertaining to obtaining warrants from a secret bench set up to address these conditions you so graciously portray as being beyond what anyone could have predicted. A process and means were established to specifically address this isssue, in the interest of ensuring there is always a means to oversee with checks and balances, that the Constitutional rights granted to each and every American is maintained while the President goes about honoring his oath of office while protecting the nation from danger. This process was unilaterally deemed void. Part of the checks and balances is the free press and a free press is only free when it can report to the public when it finds the Governement implementing a process that is outside the law, without reprisals. I am also amazed at how slickly you set a standard that says abridging the rights granted by the Constitution for these unusual and unpredicatable circumstances post 9-11 we find ourselves in is ok because you think not more than even an insignificant fraction of American citizens are being adversely affected by it. The standard here must be that the President follows the laws of the land, upholds his oath, and is not given a get out of jail free chit when he fails to do so. The situation was very manageable. Bush's team just elected to act outside the law because it was easier. The Bill of Rights has no words suggesting some insiginficant number of Americans might not have all their rights under circumstances to be decided by the then President of the United States. It, quite to the contrary, is very explicit in the concept that all Americans are granted these inalienable rights. I really don't care if you think it is ok to have government bureacrats snooping around your business without your knowledge and agreement. That is not the criteria in the Constitution, and nowhere in that document are any of your proclamations about innocent people should have not thing to hide and the like. The Constitution says essentially the opposite. The burden is on the Government.
Originally Posted by QBNCGAR
2) I'm honestly not sure I can define neo-conservative. I didn't learn until much later that Bush's "Compassionate Conservative" platform was formed in no small part by the book "The Dream and the Nightmare" by Myron Magnet. He makes some very interesting points that I find valid, and others toward which I'm lukewarm. If I could make a wish, it would be that we could see what Bush would have accomplished/failed to accomplish without the events of 9/11 to change the course of history. I don't think we've seen the real GWB - I think we've seen GWB attempting to deal with a political and military theater of operations for which neither he nor anyone else in history could have been prepared. I may come off as a Bush apologist; I'm not an apologist for anyone - I just bristle at how often he's blamed for things outside his control, and how infrequently he's credited for the positive things that are within his control.
I agree no one could have been prepared for 9-11 without being complicent. I don't subscribe to those theories about Bush, but the same could have been said about Pearl Harbor, or the stock market crash and depression. Those in charge rose to the occasion. To excuse Bush's response by suggesting no could have known or no one could have predicted, just sounds like you are reciting a chorus from Condi's Lament. I do not recall ever hearing past Presidents or cabinet members invoke the "no one could have known" line for a reason why they responded incompetently. To then suggest if the circumstances had been easier Bush might have done better is like saying if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his ass. I believe you believe you are not a Bush appoligist, but that, Cuban , is about the most overwhelmingly thorough example of being a Bush appologist I have ever read.
Originally Posted by QBNCGAR
3) I think it's silly to be spending as much as we are for NASA to play around on Mars - he's increased it's funding. I think it's pointless to fund AIDS research (as I've mentioned earlier) when the real vaccine is education. I think he's not too different from leaders of industry in that he allows people on his roster too many chances to fail before taking action that would humiliate them - I disagree with it in business, and I disagree with it in government. I consider the government a vast parking lot for mediocrity, and I fault anyone who sees that and does nothing to correct it. (Although to his credit, you won't find a much better pedigree in a presidential cabinet than that which he has kept since his first election).
Maybe Mars is not the right venue. Maybe a real energy policy other than big oil would be the more appropriate venue. But the technical innovation driven by the original space program initiated by Kennedy and funded entirely by the government, has propelled America's dominance in the economy, military and standard of living in the world for half a century as no other government or privately funded program has ever done. I think Bush, actually rightly, is looking for something similar to capture our national interest and pride again. Unfortunately, like many sequels from Holywood, or remakes of old classics, the rerun is not capable of doing the same thing. But the idea, to regain our preeminence in a very visible national challenge, is not all wrong, Bush just doesn't seem to be able to, well, lead in this regard. It is apparently too hard and falling back on a Holywood script seemed good enough, but wasn't and isn't. We just need to find one that is more appropriate to our time. Did anyone suggest an energy policy that would free us from sending money to the ME so they can fund terrorists to attack us and our way of life for millenia to come? Or possibly curing all kinds of ills with embrionic stem cell research?
As for the AIDS cure, well, you seem to be able to understand human nature when it comes to doling out freebees and how that is really counter to the human spirit. We need to be challenged and stimulated to struggle to survive - without that fundamental drive we become susceptible to low self esteem, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and other similar self destructive behavior. Therefore you should be able to understand that a significant number of people are likely to be unable to exercise the same self control you seem to have mastered and assume everyone else can muster if they just, what, be more like you? Are better Christians? Abstain from sex?
I look at this as there is ample evidence that your pretty cavalier conclusion that "education" is the vaccine is not working. And not likely to work, while a true medical vaccine would get rid of the disease altogether. So I cannot agree we should be turning our AIDS research efforts off. Besides, there is something about accepting the challenge to cure horrible diseases that, when successful, seem to provide us insight into the molecular biology rules that run our bodies that might prove useful in finding a cure for one of those other horrible diseases good, Christian, smart and obedient kids might get one day. If that was one of my kids I would be of the opinion that the AIDS vaccine investment was very good even if it saved queers boning each other in the bung.
I find the Cabinet's pedigree pretty meaningless. I am not into breeding any of them and so far, their performances, regardless of pedigree, has been dismal to just barely "good." Rummy is a dismal failure, but he is pretty smart. Just not in the way he needs to be to run the government's defense department in a time when the defense department is playing the most significant role of all the cabinet member's departments. Same with nearly every one in a role that is really being pressed into service. So what good is a good pedigree if they can't perform?