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Thursday, February 14, 2008

You're Not Freaked Out Enough!

Is it just me or is the White House being especially fearmongerish lately? Just a few days ago, the Department of Homeland Security released a report stating that "female suicide bombers have used devices that make them appear pregnant to hide explosive devices." MSNBC reports:

The DHS report states that terrorists are using female bombers more frequently, in part because these attacks generate “more widespread media exposure.” It adds: “Continued use of female suicide bombers-the most recent example being a 3 February 2008 attack at the main railway station in Colombo, Sri Lanka-indicates that terrorists judge this tactic as effective in increasing defenses and thwarting security measures.”

The report, marked “For Official Use Only,” is one of dozens of threat assessments issued jointly throughout the year by DHS and the FBI. The authors are quick to mention that there’s no immediate threat to the U.S.

"DHS and the FBI have no specific, credible intelligence indicating that terrorist organizations intend to utilize female suicide bombers against targets in the Homeland," the report tells us. This joins pen guns and terrorist attacks on cows in the list of unlikely non-threats weve been warned about during election years. If there's an election and Bush is in any way involved, expect a bunch of news items about how freaked out you should be.

In urging the House of Representatives to throw our civil liberties in the toilet on warrantless wiretapping (which the Senate dutifully did, although now cooler heads in the House seem to be prevailing), Bush warned that "terrorists are planning new attacks on our country ... that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison."

Those who remember Bush's 2004 campaign will remember his campaign slogan -- "AAAHHHHH! Run for your lives!" They were issuing insane warnings telling us to watch out for cows and jacking around the terror alert levels so much that DHS had to issue a denial that they were ginning up fear to help Bush in the election."We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," said then-DHS Secretary Tom Ridge -- about a terrorist threat warning during the Democratic National Convention. Of course, nothing happened and no arrests were made.

And so now, watching the Democrats get all the free media and the lion's share of every primary vote, Team Bush feels the need to play the fear card. They probably had hoped for Mitt Romney, but -- since he's cool with staying in Iraq for "100 years" and saying "U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 'a thousand years' or 'a million years,' as far as he was concerned" -- John McCain will do nicely.

On monday, Bush came just short of endorsing McCain; defending him against far right morons like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. "He is tough fiscally. He believes the tax cuts ought to be permanent," Bush said. "He is pro-life. His principles are sound and solid as far as I’m concerned." George Bush may be an idiot, but he's not completely vegetative. He knows how unpopular he is and he knows an actual endorsement before the convention would hurt more than it helps. But the Coulter and Limbaugh fans are about the only people in the entire world who still think he's doing a bang-up job, so his defense of McCain may actually help.

But will the continued fearmongering? The massive failure of Rudy Giuliani's campaign, which spent a gazillion dollars to earn one delegate, suggests that maybe "9/11" and "terrorism" aren't magic words anymore. There are probably few Americans who aren't worried about terrorism, but perhaps the time has come when we're sick of being scared of it.

After all, the Bush administration has gone out of their way to tie Iraq and terrorism together, but that hasn't kept that war from becoming as popular as a fart in an elevator. Bush may be running a big sale, but no one's buying -- because no one wants the product. Maybe pen guns and cow terrorism and jihadist phony pregnant women are finally being seen as ridiculous as they actually are. The analogy to the boy who cried wolf is finally paying off.

The right may try to swing the election into a discussion of just how certain your death will be if a Democrat is elected, but few will follow. They've played the fear card so often that they've worn a big hole in the middle of it; if Republicans keep us safer, why does the card still exist? Why are we supposed to be just as freaked out in 2008 as we were in 2004 and 2001? Wouldn't that represent zero progress in the big Global War on Terror? People are starting to get the idea that saying "we aren't any safer than we were when we started this whole thing" isn't the most compelling argument. It's basically an admission that everything we've done to fight terrorism has gotten us nowhere. And thinking that maybe it's time to go about this entirely differently an extremely reasonable position.

John McCain may let Bush turn his campaign from "The Straight Talk Express" to "YOU'RE GOING TO DIE!!!!" but I don't see that helping him out any. As things are now, McCain represents no change, the status quo, the Bush administration continued.

People can be excused for looking at John McCain and thinking "four more years." Same crap, different package. Same mistakes, same policies, same dumbass "stay the course" mentality.

But not the same results as in 2004. What McCain and Bush are selling has gotten stale in the intervening years and the magic words have lost their power. We're tired of being frightened and the time has come to be brave. The prosthetic baby boomer be damned.


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