Terror Babies

A perfect example of how insane parts of the GOP have become is this rant about how we need to end birthright citizenship because Middle Eastern women might have babies in this country. And those babies will grow up to be terrorists who can come back to this country easily and blow things up.

Destroying this idea is the work of seconds. To wit: we have plenty of people in this country, born to citizens, who grow up to be terrorists all on their own — John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla, Timothy McVeigh, eco-terrorists. It’s plenty easy for terrorists born in other countries to legally enter the US and blow things up (the first WTC bombers, the 9/11 terrorists, the Undie Bomber, the Shoe Bomber, etc.). And terrorists, almost be definition, do not think long term.

In short, we’re being asked to deny citizenship to millions of people because … someone someday might become a terrorist. This is the most vile nativist thing I think I’ve ever heard. It pointlessly insults millions because of a hypothetical and thus far mythical danger.

But moreover, it represents the diseased thinking that infests every aspect of the War on Terrorism. The way to deal with terror threats is:

1) Figure out what the threat is;

2) Figure out how much it would cost to mitigate that danger, in time, money and lost liberty;

3) Deal with the threats that have the greatest danger against the least inconvenience. If something is a minimal threat and could only be dealt with by a tremendous amount of effort (and suffering to innocents), suck up and deal. Trust in the American public to defend us.

Screening airline passengers is an example of this thought process gone right. It’s something of a burden but there is a very real danger in not screening passengers. Air marshalls are another example. It costs some, but the potential of stopping an attack is good.

The above thought process is so obvious, I feel like an idiot even typing it out. But this straight-forward policy seems to be beyond the ken of most politicians, who prefer to deal with terror threat like so.

1) Imagine a threat;

2) Declare that we must do whatever it takes to mitigate that danger, no matter what the negative consequences.

From three ounce limits on liquids to torture, our policies are based not on an objective analysis of reality, but upon someone sitting around and thinking about things that might happen. We are not asked to think about how likely it it is to happen nor the cost of dealing with it. We are just told that must sacrifice treasure, freedom, lives and our national principles to deal with any danger, no matter how remote it is.

Of the many things that turned me against liberalism, one of the greatest was the tendency to defend massive expensive intrusive social programs by claiming they were “worth it” if they only helped a single person. (To be fair, conservatives do this too on drug policy). This always seemed massively irrational to me. If a program costs a billion dollars and helps one person, that’s a gigantic waste of resources. Give me a billion dollars and I’ll help more than one person. And in the 90′s, that thinking began to infiltrate our government in such things as setting limits on how much regulations could cost industry against how many lives it saved. The thinking was that saving one life at a cost of ten million dollars wasn’t worth it. Putting ten million dollars into a hospital would be a better use of resources.

This idea — cost-benefits analysis — used to be the domain of Republicans. No longer. The menace of bearded maniacs has filled them with such pants-shitting terror thatno price is too high to pay to remove whatever potential threat they’ve conjured up in their imaginations. For people who like to quote Thomas Jefferson about sacrificing essential liberty, this is truly depressing.

PS: I actually am not sure that even Gohmert believes this pile of shit. This is probably just a justification for removing birthright citizenship because of the mythical anchor baby menace. He’s invoking the threat of terrorism as cover. But, in a way, that’s even worse.

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