Gadfly Bytes -- November, 2002
The Online Gadfly
November 21, 2002,
Smirking Chimp, November 23,
"Choose your enemies wisely,
for you will become like them."
Last November, the Senate approved the establishment of the
Department of Homeland Security, by a vote of 90 to 9.
So now we have our own
Komitet Gosudarstvenoi Bezopastnosti (KGB) --
sorry, I lapsed into an alien language. That translates into "Committee
on State Security." Sounds a lot like "The Department of Homeland
Security" (DHS) doesn't it?
In addition, we have learned of a super-computer database which will presumably
be linked to the DHS. This is the brainstorm of Admiral John Poindexter,
a convicted perjurer. This monstrous concoction will record book
purchases and library loans, monitor e-mails, and compile complete
records of credit card and checkbook purchases, and so forth.
In short, it will know everything about you except whether or not you own or
have purchased a gun. John Ashcroft and the NRA will not allow such an
"assault on our liberty" under the Second Amendment.
"Oh well," we are told, "if you have nothing to hide, you have
nothing to fear." Yea, sure. But how soon will some of us want to
"hide" our less than enthusiastic support of "our
President." ("You are either with us or against us.")
So pause for a moment and reflect:
Do you have a dirty little secret?
Did kindly Mr. Potlatch catch you swiping a candy bar at his Mom and Pop store
when you were twelve years old? And did that get to the police blotter?
Were you busted in college for smoking a joint?
Did you once forget to make good on a check that bounced?
Have you, out of curiosity, rented an adult video or paid for access to the
Did you get too friendly with your Secretary ten years ago, and have you
managed to keep this from your wife, thus protecting a perfectly fabulous
Did you once, on a lark, buy a copy of The Daily Worker, or subscribe
to Z-Magazine or The Nation?
Then, my friend, if you have a beef with "your government," you'd
better keep it to yourself, because Adm. Poindexter's magical computer base
will soon know all this. Furthermore, the Admiral's computer will
"know" a bunch of things that aren't so -- as reported by a
disgruntled employee, or colleague, or a nosy neighbor.
By quick calculation, the portion of our population that has something in
their past that they'd just as soon keep secret, comes to approximately
99.44%, the remaining 0.66 being certifiably "pure."
Are you scared yet?
All this reminds me of a 1990 conversation with a Russian friend at his Moscow
apartment. As our conversation turned to politics, he put a finger to his
mouth, making a "shush" gesture, and pointed to the ceiling at a
hypothetical microphone. Thereafter we had all our political conversations
As I walked late at night from the Metro station to his apartment, the lights
were on at the local Post Office. When I asked why, he explained that the
place operated 24/7, as the PO staff was reading the mail.
Thank God, I thought, I live in a free country.
That was then. This is now.