Al-Qaeda, Liz Cheney, and American Failure:
It's hard to pinpoint, this general feeling of anxiety and apprehension that has afflicted Americans. Joblessness, Congressional paralysis, airwaves filled with bickering phantoms all day and all night, it's all so very hard to take. But for the Rude Pundit, there's one thing that overwhelms him more often than all the rest. He's tired of us being such pussies about terrorism. Or, to put it more precisely, it's exhausting to see politicians and citizens toss away our rights, our freedoms, our Constitutional guarantees, all because a couple of goat fuckers learned from the CIA how to blow shit up. He's tired of surrendering to the thugs. Lately, in America, every day is like getting your lunch money stolen by the bullies.

Our unending state of stress-out is al-Qaeda's greatest victory against the United States. As the AP reports today, al-Qaeda got one big message from the Underwear Bomber's failure: "the group that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks and has prided itself on its ideological purism seems to be eyeing a more pragmatic and arguably more dangerous shift in tactics. The emerging message appears to be: Big successes are great, but sometimes simply trying can be just as good."

Yeah, it seems like the simple cave dwellers have figured out big, complex, allegedly bad-ass America: we're just a bunch of sticky fat kids crying because our ice cream fell off the cone. That wedgie-bait, Adam Gadahn (nee "Pearlman"), an American in al-Qaeda, taunted, "Even apparently unsuccessful attacks on Western mass transportation systems can bring major cities to a halt, cost the enemy billions and send his corporations into bankruptcy." He may be a traitorous asshole who can't grow a decent beard, but that doesn't mean he's wrong. Ask anyone who was at Newark Airport in January, where security imprisoned thousands of innocent people for six hours because some idiot took a shortcut.

The whole history of our post-9/11 brain damage doesn't need to be rehashed here. But the continuing use of terrorism as a political tool, and the success it has, speaks a great deal about the character of the nation. Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol's hysterical attack on the Justice Department is part of the right's attempt to undermine the credibility and the legitimacy of the Obama administration. Without demonstrating in any way that the "al-Qaeda 7," the DOJ lawyers who did pro-bono work for Gitmo detainees, have broken any laws or ethics rules, young Cheney is doing the same work as old Cheney, that Dick: giving al-Qaeda legitimacy as a force in determining the way the United States functions.

Indeed, the right has so successfully torqued the country into what our enemies believe it is, it's almost as if the GOP is a subversive arm of al-Qaeda. They have nearly bankrupted us, thus making any great social advances impossible; they have turned mild dissent into sedition; and they have turned the Constitution into a loophole-ridden contract, filled with more fine print than a subprime mortgage. They did most of that shit when they were in power. Now, out of power, the right is seeking, as it did in the Clinton years, but even more insidiously, to undermine the very functioning of government. And, frankly, it ain't like the Obama administration is doing a whole lot to stand up to these political forces. Close Gitmo. Try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. Say, "Fuck you, cowards everywhere. This is what a country does that ain't intimidated."

Here's the dirty secret: we were pretty fucking safe prior to 9/11. We aren't really much more safe after. We should be vigilant and strong. We should be infiltrating groups and breaking them up. We should be negotiating with other countries. Ultimately, though, you can use all the technological geegaws in the world, you can get DNA and feces samples of everyone coming into the country, you can drown every detainee, but you're not gonna stop the lone fucker who wants to crash a plane or blow up his balls. It's the price of living in these armed times.

And, honestly, on the whole, for those of us who remember the Cold War, it's a little easier to live with the odds of a terrorist attack versus the odds of an earth-destroying nuclear war. (But we were still told on a daily basis to bug out over Commies.) At some point, we have to decide if we are a nation of principle or a nation that capitulates to the merest threats.