Readings: Who is This Man?

Three years ago I stood about two feet away from Senator Barack Obama as he worked his way through the crowd he had just addressed in the gym at St. Peter’s College at the height of the New Jersey primary. The rally had started at least an hour late because when the candidate arrived he discovered a long line of many hundreds of would-be supporters winding down the street and around the corner; they would never get into the hall, so he took a long time to work the crowd so they didn’t have to go home disappointed.

I don’t remember what he said, but he left me with the feeling that this was the man we had been looking for to restore justice and decency in a nation running off-track. I later heard that the president of the College had received a visitor from the archdiocese expressing official disapproval of Obama’s presence on a Catholic campus, but I was proud that the president had welcomed the man who, I hoped, would be president of the United States.


Later, a month before the election, when I expressed my support for Obama in my blog for the Newark Star Ledger, I got about a hundred emails nearly all reeking of anger and hate and blaming me for the deaths of millions of fetuses.

In recent months however, though I do not regret supporting him, some of the glow has dissipated, and, like many other liberals—I am a political liberal and an educational conservative—I find myself asking, Who is this man?

The Constitutional Law professor who promised to close Guantanamo decides to keep dozens of prisoners indefinitely without trial. The opponent to the Iraq War escalated the War in Afghanistan and timidly times our withdrawal. The opponent to gay marriage on religious grounds finds his position “evolving” as he solicits funds in the gay community. He’ll pay a million dollars a year to keep one solder in Afghanistan, but cannot come up with a public works program to employ the 9 percent of the work force out of work. Worst of all, he declined to order that the Naval Seals should make every effort to arrest bin Laden and bring him to justice and went on the bask in the brief boost that the killing gave his popularity rating.

Maureen Dowd has been consistently brutal in her writing about Obama, but I suspect it is because she had high hopes and he let her down. In her latest column, “bi” doesn’t mean bisexual or bipartisan, but binary, wanting to be on both sides at once. In Afghanistan he wants to go and he wants to stay, to please military hawks and the electorate fed up with the war. On health care he wants everyone covered but won’t press for a universal system. He was elected on the platform of bold change, but now he plays it safe. He is misusing the gifts he had as a community organizer. It’s not enough to listen to everyone, someone has to lead.

E.J. Dionne sees that Obama’s prudence puts him at odds with everyone. Dionne sympathizes with those who want to leave Afghanistan quickly, but he also understands how prudence would make Obama move carefully, lest quick departure undo alliances, weaken progress we have already made.

David Bromwich is more devastating. Case by case he compares Obama’s lofty rhetoric with his failure to follow up with practical policies. He seems to see himself as a national host or “moderator” of the concerns of Americans. He makes eloquent speeches, runs town hall meetings, goes on talk shows. As a result his appearances seem less a display of strength than an indulgence. He rises above the hard work of fighting for social legislation to play the role of Mr. America addressing the world, as if it was his classroom. He has allowed himself to become the moderate who wants to change the world, but not to say anything startling or do anything very fast.

The question remains. Is there a real Obama buried under this super-caution waiting to burst forth, or is what we see now all there is?

Raymond A. Schroth


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Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 7 months ago
I just came across this website (via Andrew Sullivan, I think) ...

which lists many of the things that Obama has done since becoming president.

Granted, it has a liberal bias, and it notes the killing of OBL as one of those "accomplishments", but it is noteworthy in that it shows that the president has been involved and engaged in an almost mind-boggling way.

I would like to see him deal more assertively and decisively with problems that we face, but I trust his caution more than I trust my own need to see "action".  He has shown, time and again, that he can and will act when the time is right.

Like you, I saw Obama during his 2008 campaigning go out of his way to greet a man in a wheel chair who could not possibly get close enough in the crowd for a hand shake.  This was not in the script, and seemed to me to give a glimpse of who the "real" Obama is.  Pity the Catholic bishops can't get over their political agendas.
7 years 7 months ago
Prior to the 2008 election I would ask people to tell me one positive thing Barack Obama ever did.  No one could ever give me anything specific.  I asked it on this blog and no one could give me anything.  I can give plenty of negative things he did, some reprehensible but no positive things for a guy who wrote two autobiographies.

My guess is that there is an inner core but if he tried to address it directly he would end up with a 10% approval rating in a few months.  So he has to hem and haw and dodge and hopefully in the give and take he can get some of what he wants.  Because to get what he really wants would shut him down in a nano second.

So Father Schroth, the man you wanted is still there but what you and he want wouldn't get anyone anywhere if he took a direct route.  So we have the president who still votes present when the world more than ever needs firm leadership.  As the old song said,

''He's doing what come naturally'' 

He never did accomplish anything. 
Bill Collier
7 years 7 months ago
As a pro-life Democrat, I couldn't bring myself to vote for President Obama in the last national election because of his positions on abortion and ESCR, and I didn't vote for McCain either, choosing instead to vote by write-in for a priest I know. Alas, no Fr. Drinan-style election win for this very good man, I'm afraid. (BTW, I much enjoyed your book on Fr. Drinan.)

Nevertheless, there are a number of things I admire about Obama, and it would be foolhardy for me (or any American, I think) not to hope that he succeeds on the economy, on Iran & Afghanistan, on the environment, etc. Still, I can't help but agree with your paraphrasing of David Bromwich: Obama "has allowed himself to become the moderate who wants to change the world, but not to say anything startling or do anything fast." There is a presidential timidity in him that I find both surprising and unsettling, though he did act quickly (very quickly) on reinstating federal funding for ESCR. (Sorry, couldn't help the dig.)  
ed gleason
7 years 7 months ago
Wow... do you forget that politics is the art of trying to get the possible? Have you forgotten that in Nov. 2010 the mounting dislike and even hatred that was 'manufactured' on the right?  The art of the possible is still in play; these weak opponents are still breathing . I believe that Obama hatred might lead the GOP/TP  to use on   8-2-11 the debt/de-fault as the last desperate bomb to win in 2012. Would  the   GOP use a suicide  bomb  of  a trashed economy ?? youbetcha as one of their 'leaders' is fond of saying..
John Barbieri
7 years 7 months ago
Next November, If our nation is better off than it was four years ago, he deserves re-election. If it is not better off, replace him.
7 years 7 months ago
First off, I am a conservative who while disagreeing with many of his policies, is enormously proud that America has elected someone like Pres. Obama and had high hopes that he could truly transced the increasingly bitter partisan recriminations that so paralyze our politics.  Unfortunately I so frequently find such recriminations hurled against those of us respectfully disagree with the President as simply coming from, as one of the posters above said "hatred."  For 8 years as a Republican, I saw lots of mean, nasty things said about President Bush (of whom I was not a fan); almost daily he was greeted by protestors, his speeches interrupted by Code Pink.  Now you would swear many of the fools protesting Obama and questiong his birth had invented the notion of partisanship.  But alas, that is the press we have today.  Further, I find the contrast Ms. Cioffoletti draws between Obama's shaking the hand of a wheel-chair bound man and the bishops' "political agenda" yet another example of the bitter recriminations that linger.  (Query: Does that include their statements on the budget or not? And does Pres. Obama not have a political agenda by contrast?)  So on this score, Pres. Obama has failed to move the needle much.

As for the President himself, I have been disappointed by his leadership style, which is bizarrely passive and erratic.  His torturous and blatantly absurb justifications for Libya (refusing to call drone attacks "hostilities") is yet the latest example.  He seems to speak on an issue at a 60,000 foot level, then retract to let the sausage making play out, only to re-engage at the last possible minute and to what end?  He did this on the stimulus, on health care, and is doing it now on the deficit.  The single most important issue facing the country and he...appoints a panel headed by Biden?!  No LBJ for sure.

Part of this disillusionment was bound to occur in light of the near-Messianic expectations asserted on a man of very meager experience (and I do not mean this in a belittling manner); he showed time and again a tendency to choose the middle path or avoid the controversial one all along (voting absent a record number of times in the legislature).  So much of the disillusionment is due to the disillusioned themselves in my opinion (as if there was something particularly divine about Obama shaking a wheel-bound chair man, something any politician worth his or her salt would do).

To the reading list, I would David Brooks' column in today's NY Times; Brooks is a noted conservative admirer of the President's but reaches some interesting conclusions.
7 years 7 months ago
''JR Cosgrove, we've ''been there and done that'' before about Obama's pre-Presidency accomplishments.  I encouraged you to consider Obama's recorded interrogations bill in Illinois as an accomplishment in bringing together hostile opponents and forming consensus''

You made the same comment last year but did he do it?  This was the project of another legislator and was taken away from him and given to Obama after he said he intended to run for Senator.  The Democrats controlled everything in Illinois at the time.

If this is the only thing anyone can come up with than it is even more embarrassing then I said.  And if it was taken from another legislator it is even more ironic.
Chris Boscia
7 years 7 months ago
Fr. Schroth, I appreciate your post and have been hearing from more than a few people these days that they have "soured" on Obama since the election.  My position is that his moderation after the election is both natural and necessary.  Obama went from being the torch-bearer for one segment of Americans, i.e. democrats and some independents, to a representative for all Americans, even those who disagree with him.  To simply implement every campaign promise on a speedy timetable (or at all) wouldn't properly reflect his new role.  A closer look at the Bush presidency would probably reveal an analogous pattern, although the deviations might be different.

The real test will come at the next election, Father: if the "real" Obama never emerges to your liking, will you vote for him again?  I would be willing to bet you will, because your view of him may soften when compared to his opposition.

Thanks for helping us think about this stuff.

JR Cosgrove, we've "been there and done that" before about Obama's pre-Presidency accomplishments.  I encouraged you to consider Obama's recorded interrogations bill in Illinois as an accomplishment in bringing together hostile opponents and forming consensus (google my post).
Was that legislation earth-shattering relative to the global impact his efforts have now?  Of course not.  How many pre-presidency efforts ever do measure up?  Few, I suspect.  I mean, Mitt Romney was a Governor, ran Bain Capital, and ran the Winter Olympics.  I'm not going to vote for the guy, but I give him credit for doing those things and doing them well, whether I agree with what Bain did or not.  

As a legislator in Illinois, Obama did the good he had available to him by helping to pass that bill.  Doing it with the help of other senators is precisely what a legislator does.  It's noteworthy that he got it done.  Ask any legislator.  

What troubles me is your blindness to any of the President's pre-presidency accomplishments.  It reminds me a bit of doubting Thomas: "I won't believe it until I can put my hands in your wounds, Lord."  JR, for your sake, I encourage you to dig into the issue of wrongful convictions and see the impact of false confessions and how recorded interrogations can prevent them.  Talk to some legislators about that issue, look at the failed attempts in many states (including my own, California), then re-consider how difficult it must have been for Obama (and others who helped him) to make that happen.  

For some info on wrongful convictions, check out  For an easy and informative read on the legislative process, check out Legislative Law and Process by Jack Davies, really a good read for any citizen who wants a more nuanced understanding of that branch of government. 

Crystal Watson
7 years 7 months ago
I voted for him but I've become disappointed in him as he's not liberal enough.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 6 months ago
JR, I read the whole article in the link you provided above, and I can't find anything about the project you said was given to Obama after he said he was running for the Senate.

It was, by the way, a very interesting article about the political and racial complexities that Obama has had to maneuver in his road to the presidency.  I don't doubt at all that he is driven by no small measure of personal ambition - how in the world would he (or anyone) get to the presidency without it?

As for accomplishments before he was elected, I would think that being an African Amerian who worked his way through college and was the first African American elected to be president of the Harvard Law Review would count as something.  And much as everyone likes to poo-poo it, I am impressed with his work (at minimum salary) to rebuild the Chicago communities.  As an Illinois senator he expanded healthcare to children and cut taxes for working people.

What exactly are you looking for?  What did previous Presidents accomplish that shows Obama lacking in this area?
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 6 months ago
For my part, I more or less expected a Clintonesque presidency which is to say not very much.  But I hoped for at least some return to regulation to reign in that New York casino called Wall Street.  I also hoped for some backing off from the imperial presidency and the Big Brother stuff left over from the last bunch.  That didn't even happen.

I stopped looking for political messiahs  a while ago.  We now have a captured system.  We really can't wait for these people.  Whatever change to be wrought must be from the bottom.  Alternate ways of doing things, living, connecting have to be invented or rediscovered.  New bubbles have to expand and interconnect and hopefully eventually render the old stuff and sick institutions obsolete.  This government won't save us or the rich or the big megacorps or some economic theory.

I don't think it can be done without religion that binds together and spirituality that energizes.  Can the Catholic Church get beyond the nostalgia kick and do the job it can and should do?
7 years 6 months ago
''I read the whole article in the link you provided above, and I can't find anything about the project you said was given to Obama after he said he was running for the Senate.''

The following was about a third of the way down.

''Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.
''I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen,'' State Senator Rickey Hendon, the original sponsor of landmark racial profiling and videotaped confession legislation yanked away by Jones and given to Obama, complained to me at the time. ''Barack didn't have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit.
''I don't consider it bill jacking,'' Hendon told me. ''But no one wants to carry the ball 99 yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book.''
During his seventh and final year in the state Senate, Obama's stats soared. He sponsored a whopping 26 bills passed into law — including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.''

Here is what I wrote last year on what Obama did before anyone knew about him.

''While Obama is real short on positive accomplishments, he is not short on negative ones.  People should pay attention to the following people who were Obama's mentors or associates.  Alice Palmer, Alison Davis and Tony Rezko.  Palmer was Obama's mentor and a communist.  Essentially Obama worked for Palmer.  He took her senate seat away from her after he had her disqualified by lawyer friends of his.  (One of the more reprehensible political acts I ever heard of.)  Davis and Rezko were slum lords and built many dysfunctional housing projects in and near Obama's district which Obama supported and helped get financing for.  They were associates and fund raisers for Obama.  If the people Obama was associated with or helped were associated with a Republican, America and all the liberals would be all over them as corrupt.  But if you are a Democrat, you can screw the poor and still be a hero to them.'' 

Valerie Jarrett, his closest confidant in the White House and who Obama wanted to take his senate seat was also a slum land lord in Chicago.  She ran the Grove Park project which has since been closed down.  Here is a comment about this when Chicago was seeking the Olympics 
Jim McCrea
7 years 6 months ago
For a minute, considering the comments that appear here quite regularly, I thought I had logged on to The Wanderer website.  The more I read comments in general on the America blogsite, I am convinced that it has become an adjunct of The Wanderer or EWTN.
7 years 6 months ago
"The more I read comments in general on the America blogsite, I am convinced that it has become an adjunct of The Wanderer or EWTN."

I think this says more about your POV than it does about America's.  Why are people (purported progressive liberals) so afraid of dissent and diversity of opinion?
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 6 months ago
"Why are people (purported progressive liberals) so afraid of dissent and diversity of opinion?" (#16)

I do not think that it is accurate or fair to characterize liberals as afraid of dissent and diversity.

Sr. Joan Chittister OSB wrote a powerful and profound article, "Unity is Seeking out Differences" in which she expounds on the idea that unity is more than just uniformity, but actually seeks out the voices that are different.  (You can read the article here ...

"For the freedom to ask questions without reprisal in the face of contrary concepts, sing alleluia."

From what I understand, this is also the style of President Obama.  He wants his aides and advisors to give him all sides of an argument. 

What I like especially about Joan's article is the dynamism and freedom she gives to the very concept of unity - unity is not static, but must be constantly created anew.  What worked yesterday to hold us together, may not work today, so we must always be seeking out (and listening to) our different voices.

Seems a bit like the Holy Spirit to me.
7 years 6 months ago
Ms. Cioffoletti,

Have the editors here ever told you/suggested to you to stop commenting here.  They have to me more than once.  Have they told any liberal commenters here to stop commenting?  Or chastised them for their ad hominem attacks.  Sometimes on the latter but only when they were very egregious.  They do not seek any real unity here, only one side of a debate in the articles.  The other side is provided by about a dozen commentators who it seems are an irritant to the type of ''unity'' they seem to want.

When I was taught by the Jesuits, they didn't necessarily seek out differences but sought out what was based on fact and reason as opposed to what was based on innuendo and emotion.  I see very little of that here in the articles posted.  I see a lot of one sided, shallow, poorly thought out presentations.  Not something the Jesuits of the past would be proud of.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 6 months ago
I wanted to add that President Obama actively seeks out the views of those who disagree with him.  And since this article is about Obama, boy he showed some punch at yesterday's news conference!

JR (please call me Beth), no, I have never been asked not to comment.  But I seem to remember you calling me out on an ad hominem that I didn't think was valid.

Can I be honest?  You say the same thing over and over again in extremely long postings.  Your comments do not inspire me to think more deeply or broadly on an issue.  You continually accuse America magazine of being biased.

Can I suggest a different tactic?  Shorter comments.  Less defensiveness and accusations.  And try spicing up your views with the Gospel!
Marcello Mastroianni
7 years 6 months ago
What the liberals call "disappointment" is what the rest of us call "coming down to Earth". Obama's 2008 candidacy was largely a media and money-driven cult of personality. It was a fantasy that could not, and should not, be sustained. Now the fantasy is over, and America is back to the unglamorous but necessary task of problem-solving. Thank the Lord for that!
7 years 6 months ago
"And since this article is about Obama, boy he showed some punch at yesterday's news conference!"

May we interrupt the canonization with some facts from the President's presser?

In a bit of class jujutsu, the president six times mentioned eliminating a tax loophole for corporate jets, frequently pitting it against student loans or food safety. It’s a potent image, but in the context of a $4-trillion goal, it is essentially meaningless.  The item is so small the White House could not even provide an estimate of the revenue that would be raised, but other estimates suggest it would amount to $3 billion over 10 years.
Meanwhile, student financial assistance, just for 2011, is about $42 billion. So the corporate jet loophole — which involves the fact that such assets can be depreciated over five years, rather than the seven for commercial jets — just is not going to raise a lot of money. It certainly wouldn’t save many student loans.
7 years 6 months ago

''Can I be honest?  You say the same thing over and over again in extremely long postings.  Your comments do not inspire me to think more deeply or broadly on an issue.  You continually accuse America magazine of being biased.'' 

Much of what I say is presenting evidence and most times it cannot be done with a quick comment.  Yes, I accuse America Magazine of bias, it is very biased.  Several others besides myself find it obvious.  
Thomas Farrelly
7 years 6 months ago
To Tim Reidy:  Tim, I think the reason that views opposed to America editorials and blog entries seem to come from "the same sources" is that you don't have many conservative readers left.  Among my Jesuit-educated friends, I am the only one who continues to subscribe.  Except on the subject of abortion, America's stances are indistinguishable from any of the Liberal Democratic newspapers and magazines.  While dissent is allowed in this kind of forum, it is not to be found in articles or editorial pages. I challenge you to name an America editor or writer who votes Republican.

I may be wrong on this.  Perhaps America should poll its readers on their political views.
Thomas Farrelly
7 years 6 months ago
To Father Schroth:
I did not vote for Obama, so am not disappointed in him.  I am disappointed that so many obviously educated and intelligent people were taken in by vague slogans of "hope and change" from a man with no credentials for the Presidency.  Our system unfortunately leads to too many presidents with the slimmest of credentials for the job.  Our three most recent presidents - Bush II, Clinton, and Obama came into office with zero experience or knowledge in foreign affairs, national government, finance and economics, or the military.

In addition, Obama arrived with zero executive experience.

Falling for his promises and ignoring his inexperience was simply delusional - you were projecting your hopes and beliefs on him without any evidence that this made sense.

Unlike you, however, I applaud him for keeping Guantanamo open, for supporting the renewal of the Patriot Act, and for putting down Bin Laden.  Why did he do these things?
I recommend The Terror Presidency, by Jack Goldsmith,former head of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, in which he predicts that Bush's successor would quickly adjust his views as soon as he started getting daily terrorist briefings.  (It would be nice if America reviewed this book sometime.)
7 years 6 months ago
'' I think we give a lot of space in the comments boxes to opposing views-even when their longwinded and repetitive and come from the same sources. ''

When the editorials repeat the same points of view, the same repetitive responses are warranted.  Refute the responses, not impugn them by saying they are longwinded and repetitive.  The lack of refutation indicates something.  
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 6 months ago
America has a liberal stance.  So what? First Things has a neoliberal stance.  I subscribed to FS for years until I became tired of Neuhaus' interminable nastiness and intellectual lightweightedness.  The intelligent design articles didn't help either.  I'm not chasing that wild goose.  
7 years 6 months ago
''The intelligent design articles didn't help either.  I'm not chasing that wild goose.  ''

I spent a fair amount of time reading about intelligent design.  It is anything but a wild goose.  And it is definitely science.   Now some crazies endorse it for their own wild gooses but that does not make it what they believe.  The problem is that Darwinism does not explain anything more than what is governed by modern genetics and that is pretty good.  So it is essentially the same as genetics.  It's problem is that it cannot explain the complex things that have happened.  The evolutionary biologists are searching very hard for how these could have happened but they keep it quiet because if this gets out they are deathly afraid that the creationist will run with this uncertainty to a 6000 year old earth.

I saw a couple discussion on intelligent design at First Things a couple years ago and it brought out people of all stripes arguing against it as well as the Catholics who support it.   There has also been editorials there against it and that is what I mainly saw.

But this is not the place to discuss this since it is about what President Obama is at his core. 
Marcello Mastroianni
7 years 6 months ago
@David Smith: I agree, it's unfortunate that the Catholic news magazines are caught up in an obnoxious "Fox vs. MSNBC"-styled political smackdown. It's one thing to have an opinion, but quite another to imply that anyone who disagrees is both mentally and morally inferior, which is too often the case. To it's credit, America magazine has improved greatly since Michael Sean Winters left it's pages. He's now at National Catholic Reporter - needless to say, I'm no longer a subscriber of that magazine!
Marcello Mastroianni
7 years 6 months ago
P.S. Sorry, I have no idea why my last comment showed up in bold. I'm not trying to shout, really!
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 6 months ago
I hate to drag these things out, but there are things going on in these comments that I don't understand.

How is it that America Magazine implies that those who disagree with its content are morally or mentally inferior?

They give ample space for any and all who disagree to express themselves.

Could someone give me a simple (and short) answer? 
Marcello Mastroianni
7 years 6 months ago
@beth ciofoletti: I noted that America magazine has greatly improved, but if you want to see an example, take a look at some of Michael Sean Winters' columns from a couple of years ago. He uses the word ''racist'' to describe just about anyone who disagrees with the President. Pretty condescending stuff.
Thomas Farrelly
7 years 6 months ago
To David Smith:

In answer to your question, "Has it always been this way?", I would answer that in the cae of America it has followed a Liberal Democratic line for a very long time.  While I vote Republican as usually the lesser of two evils, I often differ with Republican policies on one matter or another, and read many left of center magazines, including America, the New Yorker, and New York Magazine, as well as leftist aggregrators like the Huffington Post.
I even watch MSNBC, though the foaming-at-the-mouth hatred of many of its pundits is off-putting. 
As a graduate of Jesuit high school and college, I initially subscribed to America as a source of religious news and commentary and a way of keeping up with Jesuit thought.  What I have objected to is its almost 100% identification with one political party.  Why subscribe then?  Many of my friends have simply abandoned it.  I continue because aside from the politics, there are often good articles, book reviews, and news on subjects that are specifically Christian.  At times it has published outstanding writers like Andrew Greeley and Avery Dulles.  But the one-sided and sometimes plain silly editorials and blogs do try my patience.

As to your other question, why editors have decided that "there is no other way to do it", I leave it to the editors to answer that one.  But they probably won't.
Stanley Kopacz
7 years 6 months ago
MSW was always an apologist for Obama and has the theory that Obama is a centrist and that centrism is good.  I've  been in whitewater canoeing situations with a rock dead ahead where averaging out a left turn and a right turn would have been catastrophic.  I am not happy with Obama but for the opposite reasons from the conservatives here.  As a matter of fact, I find their displeasure with Obama amusing as I have seen no change of any import since he came into office.  He is too much of a listener and a compromiser.  There is something between fear and caution that keeps the man from striking out on new paths.  Thus the fear of changing gears on handling terrorism.  If something terroristic happens here, and something probably will, sooner or later, he doesn't want to be blamed for it.

The FBI didn't need Guantanamo and the "Patriot" Act (disgusting bit of 1984 there) to stop the attacks of 9/11.  They just had to listen to the information coming in about Middle Eastern guys taking flying lessons without the landing part.  It also didn't help that they pushed their best Al Qaeda expert out of the FBI, where he died shortly after taking over Trade Center security, in the collapse of the towers.  What we need is competence and respect for competence and promotion of competence and nurturing of competence which is something that is missing these days.  It's all about who does obsequy to whom.


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