Thursday, March 16, 2006

PROGRESS If you've sensed a creeping terseness here at CONTRAPOSITIVE in the last couple weeks...well, guilty as charged.

The news has been so bad for so long that we've found it difficult, at least at times, to distill all the frustration and disappointment into constructive commentary.

Consider three observations aired here on January 10, 2005:

1. The invasion of Iraq has been a catastrophe in geopolitical, military, human and moral terms.

2. Victory in the war on terror remains uncertain. If the Bush administration believes that defusing the most serious threat of our time requires defeating jihadist terrorists in countries not named Iraq, there's little tangible evidence for it.

And if the President's team is working day and night to complete the difficult, boring work of securing nuclear material, protecting chemical plants and beefing up port security, they aren't doing a very good job of getting the word out.

3. Our federal government is on a path to fiscal ruin. And the people in charge are intent on accelerating its progress in that direction.
These words, accurate at the time, ring truer today than ever before.

The Iraq war remains a disaster. Our homeland security infrastructure is still woefully inadequate. And the nation's finances worsen by the day.

Granted, not all the news has been bad: Just yesterday, there was word that the UAE ports controversy--and the subsequent debate about port security--had yielded close to $1 billion in additional funding for our ports.

Of course, that's about how much we spend in Iraq every five days.

But hey--at this point, we'll take progress where we can get it.

UPDATE: Looks like we spoke to soon. Kevin Drum reports:

Today, House Republicans voted almost unanimously against an amendment to beef up port security and install radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. They also blocked consideration of an amendment to require 100% scanning of shipping containers entering the United States. I think this tells you just how seriously they take the actual threat of a nuclear Iran.

NOTE TO REPORTERS: The next time a Republican politician tells you that a nuclear Iran is intolerable, the first question you should ask is whether said politician supports funding for serious port security. If the answer is anything other than a firm and passionate "yes, dear God, yes," you should end the interview and walk away. You are talking to a partisan shill, not someone genuinely concerned about national security.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.