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Predictions! Distractions! Ablutions!

Your Humble Blogger came across Focus on the Family’s Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America (pdf you betcha) and meant to bring it to Gentle Readers as a sort of Hallowe’en spooky scary scarespook frightener. The Dr. Dobson’s gang created “a picture of the changes that are likely or at least very possible if Senator Obama is elected and the far-Left segments of the Democratic Party gain control of the White House, the Congress, and perhaps then the Supreme Court.” The Supreme Court is particularly important, as in the scenario not only do Ruth Bader Ginsberg and John Paul Stevens resign almost immediately, but Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia are also replaced by October 2009. Yes, ten months, four Justices. At least very possible.

And then the crazy really starts.

But the thing is, being a terrible blogger and all, YHB read the thing and then went and washed the dishes and drew moons for the Youngest Member and in the hour since I read it, I’ve gone from wanting to snark my heart out (you will notice that Focus on the Family approves of the idea that religiously affiliated adoption agencies should close down rather than place children with same-sex parents, and then whines about secular agencies not placing children with bigots and zealots) (OK, I can’t resist one more snark—during the four years of a foreseen Barack Obama adminstration, Russia invades and occupies the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria) to having a moderately serious point, albeit one I am repeating from four years ago.

So. This projection includes terrorist attacks on four American cities, killing hundreds of people. Hundreds! OK, enough with the snark. I suspect that we’re going to have the usual round of people who are appalled, appalled, by the idea that someone would have the temerity to suggest that the likelihood of terrorist attacks is dependent somewhat on who is President. This man Round would like it on record that he Objects.

Look. If you really think, if your best judgment and all the information you have, leads you to believe that a terrorist attack (or a Russian invasion of Poland) is more likely under one candidate than another, then of course you should say so. We should be talking about that sort of thing as an important part of the election.

Let’s get logical for a minute. Begin with the fact that we have been spending a lot of money and a lot of effort on preventing terrorism. We have been taking our shoes off at airports, we’ve been opening bags and going through scanners. We’ve turned over library records and store receipts and phone logs. We have put up with prison camps, torture and surveillance. Most of these things are under the direct control of the President of the United States, and most of the rest are under the indirect authority. There are, as I see it, four possibilities. First, there’s the possibility that all of those things we’ve been doing to fight terrorism have had no effect whatsoever and will have no effect in the future, because it doesn’t matter who is President. Second, there’s the possibility that Sen. McCain will institute policies that will be more effective than Sen. Obama. Third, the other way around. Fourth, that the danger of terrorism in the US is so low, in the scheme of things, that even though the chances of hundreds of people being killed would be greater under one candidate than the other, the change is insignificant when compared to the effects of different policies on health care, the economy generally, foreign policy, the environment and preparation for natural disasters.

OK, there’s another possibility that just occurred to me, and that’s the judgment that although it does make a difference who is President, these two candidates have policies on terrorism that are so nearly identical that the choice has little effect on the future in that respect. That may even be true, this time. Certainly the candidates have spent very little time (that I’ve noticed, and I do tend to notice this stuff) detailing the differences in their policies, or claiming that their policies would be more effective than their opponents.

And why is this? Well, can you imagine Jim Lehrer asking Do you think the odds of a terrorist attack would be greater under you or your opponent? No. It didn’t happen, and YHB can’t imagine the outcry if it did happen. Why not?

YHB takes the position number four up there, the one that says that terrorism isn’t really that big a deal, and shouldn’t dictate our policies. I have felt for the last seven years or so that I am way out on the fringe on that one. Am I wrong? Do people agree with me? Why? And if they do, why don’t we stop turning over our records and torturing people and taking off our shoes?

As crazy as the letter from 2012 is, and it is very crazy indeed, the part that doesn’t seem crazy is that Dr. Dobson is saying what he thinks about the danger of terrorism. Or, of course, he’s pretending to believe that crap, but that would be false witness.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Around about 10/11/01, I read an interesting post on a no-longer active blog called, IIRC, You Will Not Die from a Terrorist Attack, which argued the absurdity of the hysteria that then gripped the nation. I already agreed with the poster's point, and I ate it up, but he got hate-comments. The point, essentially, was that coastal dwellers were more likely to be victims of global warming than of terrorist attacks. That regardless of where one lives, animal attack is statistically more dangerous in the USA than terrorist attacks.

Odd, isn't it, that we're allowed on the Appalachian Trail without a handgun, but we're not allowed to fly on a plane without taking off our shoes? If bear attacks were connected with a political agenda, the handgun rights people would no doubt be as insufferable as Dr. Dobson.

Did you know that park rangers on the Appalachian Trail wear bells to warn off grizzly bears, and they carry pepper spray? Black bear sign can be identified by smell, since their diet consists largely of berries, and their scat is filled with seeds and smells sweet. Grizzlies leave scat that is filled with bells and smells like pepper*.

Anyway, I think there's probably a more cogent argument to be made that the world will end December 23, 2012, due to the fulfillment of an ancient Mayan prophecy, than any kind of argument to be made that any given political party in America negatively impacts the chances of her people dying in a terrorist attack.


* This is a lie. There are no grizzlies in Appalachia. The bell and pepper spray story is actually from the Pacific northwest**, but I repurposed it.

** It's a lie there, too.

i think, if we're talking about the same particular group of terrorists, and it's all just like it was in 2000, then attack likelihood goes up with an administration averse to "foreign entanglements" because the idea is to bankrupt and isolate us with commitment to stupid endless wars. in 2008 hussein is gone, musharraf is gone; palestinians are radicalized; power is changing elsewise, especially for the hammered USA; if big bloody provocations are still possible, i don't know if they're still strategic from that point of view. but they could be. forcing/encouraging the new administration into the same corner may be useful.

I'd want to distinguish, ideally, between the likelihood of a particular group wanting to attack and the likelihood of particular kinds of attacks succeeding. I mean, I suspect that Osaba bin Laden's associates could easily come up with a justification for a bombing under either President, because it's easy to come up with justifications for bombings once you get into the bombing business. The question of whether one or another candidate's policies (and the more or less competent execution of the policies) will lead to a diminishment of resources, or will lead to better intelligence (and thus to foiling any plan that may be started), or will lead to better on-the-spot defenses or reactions is another matter, and it seems to me that it could profitably be discussed.

Not so profitably as the Maya problem, of course, but still.


i'd feel more inclined to do that if we cared how much others suffer.

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