Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Dept. of Naval Gazing: Why liberals aren't taken seriously

One would think that after three years of unmitigated corruption, lying, and abuse of power that people would be so heartily sick of Republicans that they would never vote for them again. To be frank my gorge has risen several times, and there doesn't seem to be any end to the shoe dropping. In the interest of fairness, John Kerry has in fact pulled ahead despite the continued drag from the Nader-albatross. However given the incompetence and irresponsibility, one would think that liberals would be ready for another few decades of dominance by now. The reason why they're not?

Because sometimes they open their mouths and stuff comes out that makes the stomachs sink of even conservatives like me who have washed their hands of the Republican party madness.

What am I talking about? How about the latest TPM guest post?

During the Cold War, American officials discovered that one of the best ways to promote democratic capitalism at the expense of communism was by luring foreign students to American colleges. Some of these foreign graduates returned home to become the leaders of reform movements in their countries. Others stayed in the United States and contributed their skills to the great postwar boom. The same reasoning that prevailed during the Cold War should prevail during the war on terror. The United States should be eager, one would imagine, to expose students from abroad to democracy and religious pluralism, as well as to take advantage of their skills. But not the Bush administration and the Republican Congress. They are oblivious to any foreign policy measures that aren't repressive. Their response to anti-Americanism is to wall off America from its potential critics.

In the wake of September 11, the Bush administration tightened visa rules for foreign students. Prospective students have had to pay a $100 fee to file a visa application. And it has taken up to eight months to process the applications. As a result, foreign applications to American colleges have plummeted. According to the Financial Times, graduate school applications have declined 32 percent this year. "The word seems to be out that you can't get a visa to come and study in the US, so why bother," said Liz Reisburg, who helps recruit foreign MBAs.

Undoubtedly, some aspects of this new visa program were unavoidable in the light of how the September 11 terrorists entered the country. But one would hope that the Bush administration would be trying to streamline the program, and to reduce the delays, so that students would once against be drawn to American universities, as they were during the high-tech boom of the 1990s. Instead, the administration is on the verge of putting still another and greater obstacle in the face of foreign students.

The legislation establishing the Department of Homeland Security included a provision creating "Sevis." a database for keeping track of international students. Each student would have to register with the Sevis. Last October, the Department of Homeland Security proposed that in addition to the $100 visa fee, every prospective student would have to pay another $100 to fund Sevis. The payment would have to be through a credit card or dollars. Universities have not objected to the program itself; but they have objected strenuously to imposing another fee on foreign applicants. "Having yet another thing students have to do to come to the US that they don't have to do in any other part of the world will drive more people away at a time when enrollments are declining," said one official from the Association of International Educators.

The universities, of course, are understandably worried about declining enrollment, but what is most disturbing about the administration's program--and about its general approach to foreign students--is its hostile attitude toward the outside world. It's fortress America applied to educational policy. Such an approach won't necessarily prevent terrorist attacks, but it will in the long run encourage the anti-Americanism on which al Qaeda and other terrorist groups feed.

-- John B. Judis

What's the problem with this? Well undoubtedly the KGB had corrupted more than a few of those foreign exchange students, but their primary purpose was infiltration and spying. The problem with the current situation is that the system is open suicide bombers and terrorists coming over with the technical expertise to conceivably launch terrorist cells and potentially even help carry off a WMD attack one day. That's the difference.

Now I work in a university environment and I understand first hand how the visa problems have created snarled up conditions that have personally impacted my own work. This is a pain in the ass. I do hope that the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department get this worked out real soon. It's intolerable that it's taken this long.

However the simple fact is that the student visa system was one of the ways that Alqueda penetrated the United States to set up cells and directly contributed to the teams that carried off the 911 attacks. The fact that this person is so casually suggesting a return to previous conditions while blithely not considering the incredible harm it could do us, is mind boggling. It's also one of the reasons I think myself and many other Americans can't muster much enthusiasm for a Democratic takeover of the WoT despite our realization that GWB has gone off the deep end. (Capitol Hill Blue)

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.

In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

“It reminds me of the Nixon days,” says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. “Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.”

In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be “God’s will” and then tells aides to “fuck over” anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.

“We’re at war, there’s no doubt about it. What I don’t know anymore is just who the enemy might be,” says one troubled White House aide. “We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing.”

Okay, I agree GWB needs to be removed before something terrible happens. However before Democrats can be trusted by Americans like myself, we need to feel that they "get it". Naval-gazing rhetoric like that displayed by Judis just gives us the same sinking feeling that led so many (not myself) to pull the lever for the elephant. Show us that you "get it" and you'll get swept into power so fast that your head will spin. Continue to display that oblivious ignorance of real American concerns, and our support will be lukewarm at best. Maybe Mad George does have to go, but that doesn't mean that liberals are going to get everything handed to them on a silver platter unless they can demonstrate the seriousness to govern in an age of mass-terrorism.

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