Friday, April 16, 2010

15th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing

On April 16, 2010, three days before the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, Bill Clinton gave a speech at the Center for American Progress to reflect on what had happened 15 years ago. According to him, the attack led to several changes, changes that would affect himself as a person and America as a whole.

After the attack, Clinton worked together with Congress to pass legislation to protect the country against terrorism. Clinton ordered the FBI and CIA to cooperate with each other and share information. However, according to Clinton, they didn’t do that. Clinton claims he failed to discover that because, before 9/11, for some reason, there was a rule that the president was not supposed to know what the FBI was doing. To me, that sounds like a rule intended to give the FBI the latitude to break the law, which they probably did on 9/11.

In his speech, Clinton argued that, in some way, the interactions between himself and Congress changed after the Oklahoma City Bombing. Though he didn’t stop fighting with the Republicans – after all, the two of them managed to shut down the government twice within a year’s time – according to Clinton, “as tough as it was, it was different” after the bombing. Or maybe not. Towards the end of his speech, Clinton said fighting with the Republicans wasn’t tough at all. In fact, Clinton said he had a “great time” fighting with Newt Gingrich and the rest of the Republicans. It didn’t bother him a bit when Gingrich referred to him and Hillary as the enemies of normal Americans. Clinton said he “was glad to get in and mix it up.”

This, of course, implies that all the fighting between Clinton and Congress during the Clinton administration was, in fact, nothing more than political theater – both sides were working together for some purpose. In the case of the government shutdowns, I believe they were working together to try and get Tomiichi Murayama, the Socialist prime minister of Japan, to resign. Murayama was the first non-LDP prime minister in Japan since the creation of the LDP in 1955. Apparently, America didn’t want to see Japan change. And in fact, the LDP would return to power in 1996. Murayama would resign right after the second government shutdown. Apparently, Japan thought that a shutdown of the U.S. government might send the world economy into turmoil. Rather than risk that, Japan apparently decided to bring back the LDP.

As for the ways the attack changed Clinton personally, prior to the attack, Clinton had, on several occasions, referred to federal bureaucrats in a disparaging way. But after the attack, he stopped doing that.

“You could not read the stories of the lives of the people who perished at Oklahoma City and not respond in that way,” said Clinton.

Moreover, according to Clinton, given what happened 15 years ago, and given the similarities between then and now, we should all be careful of what we say. After all, we wouldn’t want another Oklahoma City Bombing, now would we?

The similarities include the fact that, in both times, there were anti-tax, anti-government movements in America. Furthermore, in both eras, U.S. incomes were stagnating. From the time Clinton left office until the financial crisis, the median income for families in America fell by $2,000 when taking inflation into account. During that time, the richest 10% got 90% of the economic gains. Clinton called these circumstances “profoundly disorienting.”

Too bad he didn’t call the inequity in America unfair. The fact that you have a bunch of crazy people whining about how high taxes are at a time when poor and middle class families are struggling while all the benefits go to the rich only proves that these crazy people must be controlled by someone else, namely, those rich people, who are somehow using these crazy people to advance their agenda. It makes no sense to have a bunch of poor, “disoriented” people complain about what is in effect income redistribution, which is what taxes often amount to.

Instead of arguing that we should do something to help these “disoriented” people by, for example, taxing the rich and using the money to create middle class jobs, Clinton merely seems to accept that America has a bunch of “deeply, deeply troubled” people who could explode at any second. Therefore, we should watch what we say, particularly when it comes to bureaucrats, the victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Clinton claimed that the so-called “disoriented” people “wanted a simple, clear explanation of what was an inherently complex mixed picture full of challenges.” That sounds to me like a lousy excuse for not telling the people the truth. Clinton claims the people only want a “simple, clear explanation.” I’d say they want an honest explanation.

As for what this “complex mixed picture” really involved, Clinton, of course, didn’t fully explain what he meant by that, but he did say a few interesting things.

To deal these challenges, Clinton said that there had to be changes in “personal conduct.” He never said what those changes were. But let me take a stab at it. By changes in “personal conduct,” I believe he was referring to all the scandals he was involved in during his presidency, for example the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I believe Clinton is implying that the scandal was nothing more than political theater. It was nothing more than an attempt to avoid leadership at a time of crisis (at the time the Lewinsky scandal was going on in America, the Asian Financial Crisis was going on in Asia). Of course, this implies that the “challenges” Clinton faced was the rise of Asia. Clinton implies as much in other parts of his speech.

At one point in his speech, he talks about a letter he received after he won his election, a letter written by Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. In the letter, McNamara wrote that, now that Clinton had won the presidency that meant that the Vietnam War had finally ended.

“But the war did not end with my election,” said Clinton. “It entered a new phase.”

Hmmm…it appears someone was still not happy with East Asia.

Clinton also mentioned that the Internet proved troublesome during his administration.

During his presidency, America moved “into an information age that opened vast new vistas and posed all kinds of new problems.” In his speech, Clinton never really explained why the Internet proved so difficult to handle during his administration. He only mentioned one problem – the ability to use the Internet to teach each others how to make bombs.

Since Clinton, once again, was unwilling to explain his own statement, let me, once again, take a stab at explaining it for him. I believe that the “New Diplomacy” began during his administration. That was why CSIS wrote that report which called for changing U.S. diplomacy to use the Internet and to use the public, not because CSIS was initiating change, but because CSIS was reacting to changes that were already taking place, namely, individual citizens using the Internet to convey classified information to the public.

At the end of his speech, Clinton said that our freedoms endure because of a “bright line” that separates free speech from criminal activity, namely, the advocacy of violence. I don’t disagree with that but I wonder what he thinks of Krauthammer and his advocacy of going after people like me?

After I listened to this speech, I wrote the following in INDB, in the hopes that Clinton might somehow be able to read it.
The one thing you left out - though you hinted at it in the beginning - is that the Oklahoma City bombing was a terrorist attack carried out by a group of people with links to Al Qaeda, in particular Ramsey Yousef (see the February 26, 2008 House speech by Dana Rohrabacher). That implies that the ultimate responsibility for the attack lies with Europe or America. Or both. The fact that Ramsey Yousef attacked the World Trade Center implies an anti-Globalization viewpoint, which means that Europe is likely responsible. Or America, as attacks on itself could provide pressure on Japan to make changes (America is collapsing due globalization and globalization is your fault so make some changes). Of course, if I am right and the attack was planned by a government, and you know that the attack was planned by a government and is not simply the result of some wing-nut out there acting on his lonesome - that implies you are using this incident not to explain the Oklahoma City Bombing but to try and get people to watch what they say. Frankly, it almost seems like you are threatening to kill someone if people don't speak more politely. Nevertheless, I think I will try out this politeness thing, at least for the rest of this comment. Please stop poisoning me.

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