Monday, September 11, 2006

The Price of Liberty

It was Ben Franklin who said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We are "they", aren't we? How many liberties have we given up to the terrorists and to our government? Who *asked* us to do this? Who said that the security we enjoy now is permanent? The people who were screaming for the security the most - those who have the most to lose.

I point you now to the Bush Administration. I see that Bush thinks the Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper. He's really hot on the trail of terrorists and though there are a billion Muslims, he's determined to find every last Muslim terrorist (and no, not all Muslims are terrorists). And he'll do that much better if we'd just give up a little more freedom this year. And next year. Remember, it's for your own good.

I find it interesting how politicians love to talk about their grand ideas in general terms. Like, when they talk about terrorists. They talk about apprehending terrorists and treating them as if they don't have any rights as a good thing. Sure, they're terrorists and we already know that, they say. So don't give them access to lawyers, charge them with a crime, or show them the evidence against them.

This sounds like it's a great idea doesn't it? So now lets drill down a little. Imagine for a moment, that it's your son. You haven't seen or heard from him for a few days. Then weeks. Two months go by and your family is in a panic. He's Latin and he has brown skin. And he's in Guantanamo with a lot of other men. Men who've been there for a year or more. Your son has disappeared. He has no access to a phone. He can't access a lawyer. No charges have ever been leveled against him. He'll be late for Christmas.

Is that what you call security? Maybe in East Germany. You know, that fallen communist country that no ever one really liked?

Now, lets say you're an activist politician. Then you're declared a terrorist. Your political career comes to a quick, if temporary end, once you're detained. Who knows, maybe when you get out, you can write a book about your experience, and then run for president. Okay, scratch that. Try for a talk show. Even Martha has one now.

Who is watching the watchers? How do we know we'll be treated fairly? How do we know if the action is motivated by politics, budgets or real safety?

Oh, and don't forget their religious agenda. You know, the one that says they are on a mission from god to impose, er... promote... the Christian Worldview. Hmmm. That's funny. Didn't they just spend the last 8 years emasculating the Environmental Protection Agency? This is an agency that was created under the Nixon Administration to protect the environment. And now they want to take it down, you know, for the economy. Never mind the fact that their god says that we are caretakers of the earth. What will their god say to them when they have to answer questions like, "So what did you do to your beautiful earth?" Well, we sold a hell of a lot of SUVs.

The funny thing about religious agendas is that they are operating on what they call the truth: a message from god to take action. Unfortunately, there's no scientifically objective way to verify the message. It could be anything. Say, remember how the 9/11 terrorists believed that they were on a mission from god, too? The similarities are eerie, aren't they?

How many people can still remember the press mocking President Bush for his terrible speaking skills? How many remember him as unable to pass a bill prior to 9/11? That was what he was afraid of. He's afraid of not being remembered. Oh, we'll remember him alright. We'll be looking out for others like him, too.

Now there was a man whom the press laughed at. And then, after 9/11, everyone shut up. Suddenly, it was time to be nice to Mr. President. Better to be with him than against him, eh?

Too bad Bush didn't listen to Winston Churchill:
"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events."
Mission accomplished, right?

Given that we're not very good at picking political leaders, perhaps it's time to enlist the Psychopathy Checklist. This is a diagnostic checklist for subclinical psychopathy. I think it would be very handy to screen our potential politicians. For some reason, psychopaths from both dominant parties seem to rise to the top in our country. We could stop that rather quickly with this checklist. The best part about this list is that it is nearly impossible to fool since the impulses of psychopaths are hard for them to hide under the intense scrutiny of this checklist.

So I watched the news today. And as I did so, I recalled how we never heard a dissenting voice for 5 years on who, what, how and why of 9/11. At least, not if you read any papers, or watch TV.

But if you look at the internet, you will find a Google of dissent from people warning of the impending disaster and the other people trying to calm their collective nerves. Go ahead, do a search and see what you find for "9/11 conspiracy theories". It's interesting how network news doesn't talk about them.

It took nearly 5 years for Bush to admit there was not a single tie between Al-Quaeda (there seems to be a million ways to spell and pronounce that) and the dictator of the century, Saddam Hussein. Why did it take him five years? What else is he omitting from his press conferences?

Look around and you will see blogs and articles about why the World Trade Center towers fell straight down instead of falling over like a tree. That is one I want to know. Or how about explaining why President Bush sat in a classroom reading a story to children instead of excusing himself politely and handling the situation?

Whatever your feelings about Bush, consider this: why is it that the disbelievers are shut out of the press and being told to shut up? Why do they wind up unemployed, demoted, on paid leave, or transferred to Siberia? Why isn't there an honest, public debate on the subject on network television? No one would pay for the commercial time? Puh-lease!

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. That's why. So consider what we are doing here and why we are motivated to do it. If you support the president, have you questioned his motives, reasoning or accounting of the facts? Why can't we have an open discussion on the air, with the people who were there?

There is an interesting show on KPFK here in LA. It's called Uprising. They are uncompromising liberals, and at least they are not afraid to say it. I don't agree with everything they say, but at least they are upfront about where they stand. They introduce the show by saying this: The purpose of journalism is to question the prevailing wisdom.

When was the last time you heard Tom Brokhaw, Dan Rather, 60 Minutes or perky Catie Couric question the prevailing wisdom?

People worry about the way Bush and his administration violate the Constitution on a daily basis. That is because most of us are asleep with our various addictions: work, sex, tv, coffee, gambling, name it. We've got it here. Those addicts sure know how to keep the economy going. Until we wake up from our collective sleep, a small minority will seek to impose their will upon the rest of us. The irony? They want us to believe as they do so that we'll be saved. Heh.

"I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it." --- Judge Learned Hand.

So when I think of my desire for security, I think of Alan Watts. In his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, he shows that the more security a man has, the more he wants. And then there is never enough. So what does he do? He unplugs his computer, locks his door and curls up with a nice book in bed, hoping for the best. Bush appeals to the insecure among us. That's George W. (Wuss) Bush.

There are more books on the subject, but that book says more about the spirit of liberty to me than just about any other. Once we can have faith in our existence and the universal power, then security becomes a second thought. We rely upon the universe for what we need and nothing more. For our putative brains and our unaided will can be flicked from the earth at any time.

Remember to breathe and everything else will follow.

Mr. Scott
(sorry, transporter is out of order today)