Tuesday, December 20, 2005


This morning I was carrying my backpack and a cup of coffee. I got to the door here at the Liberry, took off my gloves so I could get my wallet out for my key card, perched my wallet on top of the coffee cup so I could free up a hand for the door, swiped my key card through the reader, opened the door and held it with my foot, and my key card and one of my gloves flew out of my hands and down into the loading dock area by the dumpster. Trying to stop this caused my wallet to fall and I spilled coffee on it. Typical.

I've been in a bad mood for a few days--mostly based on the remaining 3 years of Bush's term. Looking at that guy and his coterie of shameless ideologues daily on the TV, and reading their Orwellian spew in the press, is compromising my mental health. Last night I saw a "debate" on Hardball about the Patriot Act and the recent domestic spying scandals. The participants? Conservative John Harwood of the Wall Street journal, ultra-conservative Tony Blankley of the Washington Times, and throwing the softball questions (my fave? Have the Democrats sunk themselves by aggressively going after Bush on the spying and holding up the Patriot Act?) was Mrs. Alan Greenspan. Her involvement in the Plame scandal, and her attempts to pretend she's an objective journalist merely commenting on the case have taken away all her credibility, and yet there she is, still working (like Matthews and Russert and Woodward--all should be shown the door like Judy Miller was).

But Mrs. Mitchell/Greenspan might have a point. The Democrats (and a few principaled Republicans) may indeed be shooting themselves in the foot on torture and domestic spying and the Patriot Act. Americans like torture when we're doing it to others, they like the executive to have tons of unreasonable power, and they want the courts in their neighbor's bedrooms (but not their own) despite proclamations against "activist" judges. As Jane notes, the Republican genius for exploiting Americans' peculiar enthusiasm for macho pseudo-fascism is unparalelled--yes, they've hit some snags lately, but until Rove is indicted and Cheney blows an aorta we're in the shit. Few Democrats have the skill or the balls to confront these issues publicly--most (HRC and Biden in particular) are taking the low road of Republican light (Biden and HRC have both been talking up flag-burning laws lately. Need I say more?).

The last time I taught a class my students were overwhelmingly in favor of allowing the government to do "sneak and peek" searches without warrants. Their justification? "If you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear; if you are, you deserve to get nailed." When I suggested that "the government" could plant any evidence they wished without checks and balances to help guard our civil liberties, and that the government would likely target political opponents with such powers, well that idea was beyond the pale. This isn't Iraq or Saudi Arabia, after all. American presidents would never do such a thing, nor would our police or intelligence services.

Ha. The same group of students thought it was ok to have only rich white guys running against each other all the time. "They're rich, meaning they're successful and better than us--they're the people we want in office." I'd not heard such a powerful argument for monarchy from a classful of American teenagers before, and it had a lot to do with my decision to stop teaching. The Heritage Foundation has served its purpose.

Who's been the target of the recent FBI/Pentagon spying (and no doubt the NSA spying as well)? Peace groups, Green groups, aid groups, civil rights activists--the usual dissidents. NOT terrorists.

But I think back to my initial reaction to 9/11--when a bunch of muscular thugs were waving "Don't Tread on Me" flags at the corner of York and Burke, and when an Egyptian customer at Borders was sporting a fresh shiner from said thugs--and I can't help but think that things could have been much worse. Of course we still might get there. Or, W. might have finally gone too far by sidestepping the Courts with this NSA thing, and he might get the Tricky Dick treatment so long deserved.

I promise to watch some Netflix DVDs and read some books soon and get back on track here.

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