It was a fresh June morning just before daylight. A gentle breeze blew from the north but not
enough to sway the trees still in sleepy silhouette as the sun telegraphed its
rising and imminent daily debut from just below the horizon. Quinn, my small white Bichon pup who loves
fishing more than I do, scampered about and danced on the carpet, and any
mention of “fish” or “boat” would send him into a Bichon buzz frenzy on the den
carpet. He knew we were going fishing
alright. Somehow a dog knows. The sun would be up soon, and I had time to turn
on the news and drink one cup of coffee before we ventured out and set out on
my Pelican pontoon bass boat with trolling motor and oar just in case the
battery died. The lake would be glass, I
thought, and then a headline appeared on CNN:
“NSA directs Verizon Corporation to turn over private phone records of
all its customers.”
Gulp! I burned my tongue on a sip too big to swallow. Bush II started all this destruction of privacy in the name of defeating terrorism. Makes you wish his IQ had been 102 instead of 92. And damned if Obama isn’t following suit, and starring in the Return of the Dreaded Government Monitor Lizards, now playing in every bank and every cellphone near you, throughout the country. The gd NSA, arm of the federal government under the control of the Executive Branch which means president, White House, Unitary Executive is at it again. Monitoring our phone calls, our bank accounts, all the stuff that used was sacred to free Americans before they became dumbed down and traded rights to privacy for stopping terrorists before they hurt us. Of course there was footage of angry demonstrators protesting against the government for not protecting Americans from illegal search and prying into our business, but the story held true that yes, Virginia, your and my government was at it again. The Monitor Lizards cometh. Guess they didn’t get their fill when Obama gave the phone companies all immunity and presidential pardons right after being sworn in over 4 years ago! That would be the illegal seizure of phone records when Bush II was president that gave Bush the means to investigate some 1.5 Million American citizens, without just cause, but just because. No FISA Court approval was necessary back then thanks to the serrated sharks’ teeth in the Patriot Act to shred and shake our very freedoms to the ground. So after Bush II did and got away with it, Obama said, shoot, do it, ain’t no thang. Besides, this time we don’t even need FISA Court approval to look at all the damn phone records we want to, thank you very much. And thanks to new and more draconian enhancements of the Patriot Act that lets government snoop into our lives without cause, just because.
Me and Q finished up inside and began the 200-yard stroll down to the beach where the boats were tied up to a Chinese Tallow Tree. Now someone once observed that a man couldn’t go fishing and be mad at the same time. I had always trusted this sage notion without contest, but today somehow I, pole in hand and hound at the ready, had to stay with the feeling due to the ever-eroding and deliberate burning of our rights under the Constitution. After the Shrub though, a quick inventory indicates that there aren’t many rights left. Without a pause the government can look at our bank accounts, our travel destinations, our phone records, and now the duration of calls and frequency of calls to the same number, you know real Orwellian stuff come to camp out on the shores of America at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. Or is all this new tethering of our rights as a free people just the beginnings of more dire and searches and seizures and prying’s into what used to be our own business as a free people? Would this Monitor Lizard just stop to eat a hot dog at Coney Island and then go away? Probably not. It has been too long since the Patriot Act was first enacted, and from that point on it appears that Obama is not going to rescind any of the bad stuff Bush did. But he promised, one might say. But he promised to close down Guantanamo too, you know? Obama promised to restore our right to habeas corpus that Bush dashed on the rocks of fear as justification because of (drum roll) a National Emergency. I get so tire of hearing that tripe as if there is a terrorist hiding behind every bush (no pun intended) on the White House lawn. That’s right, Virginia, just chalk habeas corpus up as just a memory of something sacred we used to have, but now you can color it gone. And as for National Emergency I think the use and abuse of the term is as ridiculous an emergency as the House and the Senate chambers running out of toilet paper. Now that would be a real emergency.
So we must give up a right we held for centuries and let it bite the dust so that our government can better protect us from terrorists? Sound a bit fascistic or is it just me? Who really believes terrorists lurk behind every corner and bush with a roadside bomb to blow us up? But didn’t Obama campaign on the promise that he would clean things up and rescind the freedom-robbing parts of the Patriot Act? Sure he did, but he didn’t limit the Act. In fact, during his first term as president, Obama saw to it that Congress strengthened the oppressive act that sets fires to many freedoms and rights we used to have. Enter more hordes of Monitor Lizards, forked tongue a-flicking.
Eric Fromm, perhaps one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century in his book “Escape from Freedom” gives us fair warning. He says that just because it might seem unlikely or even bizarre to think Fascism and dictator rule could enter and corrupt the integrity of free societies and democracies, that we must guard against it continuously. It not only has happened, it erodes a society without much fanfare over time.
In reviewing all the damages to our Constitutional rights under the younger Bush as president we see the following: the loss of our right to habeas corpus, private courts in Guantanamo Cuba to try not people, but military combatants without rights, loss of privacy to our financial records, our phone records, and the right to no less than 3 branches of government power, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. Bush took care of the legislative branch and neutered it with his “signing statements” that would when attached to a bill duly passed by Congress would negate the bill in many cases. To wit the McCain No Torture Bill was signed by Bush with the little statement that he as president could damn well torture if it was in the interest of National Security. So there you have it. Legislation by White House, ladies and gentlemen. And ain’t it funny how Obama promised to do away with signing statements if elected, yet he keeps on attaching little amendments to bills just like Bush. And just like Bush, many bills Obama put a little something to the end of a bill besides his John Hancock, got tabled by the GAO who would not fund it because the signing statement negated the bill, they said. So how many bills sit on the table as we speak because Obama and Bush gave a little more ink and ego below the dotted line below their names?
Do we even have a government I got to ask? If we do, it certainly looks more fascistic than democratic if you want to really look at the little cuts our Constitution still has to endure before it collapses. Take drones for instance. Obama uses them without much discretion, it seems. He or someone in the NSA gets to find some person guilty without a trial and then send a drone to blow him off the planet. No trial, no due process, no argument. And the American people seem to think it’s a good thing to blow our enemies away without due process or at least a conviction in a world court. But who is the judge here? Are we allowing the president to put our system of justice on the chopping block just so Obama can better kill terrorists without incident? And if that is what he is doing, do we really care? Haven’t we become a nation without laws to a great extent? And what of it? Does anyone care anymore? What if a drone suddenly appeared outside your window and blew the crap out of your wife just as she was removing some brownies from the oven? Wouldn’t you at least want her to have a fair trial by jury first? Like in finding her guilty of conspiring to increase your waistline by making cookies for you and causing an untimely heart attack?
What if you want to eliminate a barking, threatening dog next door that terrorizes you and your family and your small dog? And say you had a son-in-law who worked for the federal government in Nevada as a drone controller? Who would know? Do they keep records of strikes or attempts? Or is it an uncontrolled, anything goes unlawful top secret operation designed to preempt the law? When you mess around with the law and things change as much as they have in the last decade it is impossible to get the genie back into the bottle. Scary. You can blow people up with Hell Fire missiles in the darkest night, and no one will even see the drone. So much for a revolution where rebels assemble. Fagetaboutit...
Yes, Virginia, the Monitor Lizards cometh to take your data away. And you, too, if you give them any trouble. And Obama is riding the lead lizard side saddle in the movie version.
Oh, and by the way Quinn and I managed to lose a couple of nice bass and bag a couple of small ones which Quinn loves to nip. By the time the sun had come up I had forgotten all the considerations before that tried to spoil a good morning on the lake. After Quinn and I cast off the only lizard of note was the watermelon plastic one with which I hooked one of the bigger on the first cast. But he got away. And so did my darker thoughts. It’s true. It is impossible to fish and be mad at the same time.