Friday, September 29, 2006

Four legs good, two legs better

God save King George (DG), who was officially placed above the law today by the Senate. If history doesn't mark September 28, 2006 as the end of the democratic experiment begun here in 1776, then history will have let our children down.

The necessary machinery of tyranny in the United States of America is in place: indefinite detention without trial, no executive accountability, and easily fixed elections. Only the campaign timetable has delayed unfettered spying.

What are we going to call this nation now? USA 2.0? The Evil Empire? The anthem's obsolete, because the answer is no: an alienable, non-universal right to freedom is no right at all. Without that right, there can be no land of the free.

I told my son tonight that a piece of paper and a pencil constitute absolute freedom. You can draw or write anything on a piece of paper. And Winston Smith's creamy paged notebook, in which he wrote out of sight of the telescreen, welled up in my mind.

If these things go, the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and so on, what happens to our human rights? Can we hold on to anything in the face of a tyrant's relativism? Liberty - No. Pursuit of happiness? No. Life?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm sorry you feel that way

We've all heard this, and we all hate it. Something goes wrong: so you call one of our great corporations, and wander through the voice prompt system. You're told to expect a long hold time. You pick the wrong one of eight options, and forget to press pound at the end of your account number. You redial. You're kept waiting long enough to listen to a sales pitch for a product you don't want. Twice. Three times.

Then you speak to a person. Before you can tell them what's wrong, you identify yourself. You explain, are misunderstood, and explain again what the corporation has lost, broken, forgotten, or taken from you.

Then the customer service representative hits back.

"I'm sorry that you feel that way."

When did this become about my feelings? And what makes this stranger think that they know how I feel? There's nothing at all convincing about their sorrow. This is not about the failure of the corporation any more: it's about making you feel better while they do nothing.

I just don't want it. I want them to fix what they did badly. I will not let them fake dolorous compassion any more.

How about you? Will you tell them to knock it off?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ob911+5 post: Losing the War on Terror by Fighting it

This isn't the Ob911 I thought I was going to write: I thought it would be about where I was when it happened, and all that blah. That I will write, for the record: but not today.

Today, Bob Cesca writes at the Huffington Post that Dick Cheney justifies the war in Iraq by saying that there hasn't been another attack in the past five years. Last year, four; next year, six. He means "on US soil", of course.

I think there's an alternative interpretation of the facts and recent history: in the years since the tragedy of 9/11, we have not been attacked again by Al Quaeda because there's no need to: we were just given a push in the right direction, and we're doing the rest to ourselves.

Rather than follow through on the police action to bring Usama bin Laden to justice, we are told we need to commit to an open-ended war in a country that had nothing to do with the tragedy, because Dick, Don, Wolfie and other PNAC ( clubmembers had been making warplans for Iraq since 1998.

This misguided war and the botched planning have taken a repressive secular state and turned it into a sectarian bloodbath, a recruiting ground and a massive terrorist training camp. I doubt there's much "improvised" about the IEDs these days. On the international stage, we are known to use torture in secret prisons, ignore the Geneva Conventions, and refuse to acknowledge the International Court at the Hague.

At home, the Federal Government has taken a record surplus and turned it into a record deficit, is dismantling the Bill of Rights (unless you want a semiautomatic weapon for home use, of course), while the White House has assumed monarchical powers and routinely acts outside the law.

We must remember that the United States is founded on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which gives it its structure, as well as the values that were enshrined in these documents. When we abandon these universal, inalienable rights, and the universal rule of law, we lose the very nation that was founded in those years. We are in danger now, as at no time before, of losing the democratic republic, and the abandonment of the great experiment as we destroy it from within.

And this outcome is just where bin Laden wants us to be. If we continue in our current direction, then I fear that he will succeed in his goal.

(earlier version also at the Huffington Post).

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