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This Day in My History

  For the Birds
It's Not a Great Story--It's Just What Happened

 It's All In Your Head
2004:  About that Arm...

The World's Biggest Tourist

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"With Joy Abiding"

"Take a Turkey..."

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Flash version is here.

Master list of links to (most) videos
by Mefeedia

My Favorite Video Blogs

29 Fragile Days
Bicycle Sidewalk
Carl Weaver's Video
Dan and Jen's Animal Friends

Drive Time
Josh Leo's Video
Kitchen Arts
Living with the Fallas
Minnesota Stories
PJK Productions
Randy Wicker Reporting
Walk Los Angeles
White Guy Eats Foreign Foods

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Toys for Tots

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Support liberty and justice for all

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My "Things I Want" Wish List

(with the hope that everyone in my family will think about making a similar list before their birthdays and/or Christmas roll around!)


22 January 2006

Where is the outrage?  Where are the protests?  Where are the signs.  What is happening to us?

I had a note the other day from a friend who has lived in this country for many years, but who grew up in Germany, under Hitler.  Her particular note, which I'm sure she won't mind if I share here, read:

You guys need to sign this petition.  We are in graver danger with longer-lasting  consequences today than Germany (and the Western word) was because of Hitler.

Your kids will not have a good life ahead of them if you are not becoming politically active. Hitler taught me that lesson -- and his planning for world dominance pales in comparison to the Republican open conspiracy and shake-down machine that will ruin this country and wipe away every other that stands in the way

On the heels of that, and in a somewhat unrelated topic, we have the Google issue.  Is there anyone who has not heard the latest that Google is refusing to comply with a Department of Justice subpoena to provide the records of searches that Web users ask it to carry out.  They say it's to look for pedophiles, but I no longer believe what I'm told by our government. 

A Google rep says:

If Google complies with the Justice Department's request, where will this stop?  People took a long time to get accustomed to using the Internet for shopping and other activities like researching movies. If they feel Big Brother is watching them, they will be concerned. What if they accidentally get on a government watchlist because they have the same name as someone who is accessing online pornography?

He also pointed out that pornographic Web site operators seed their sites with standard search terms so that when people do Web searches, their sites will come up. "It is almost impossible to do an Internet search without a pornographic site appearing in the list somewhere down the line,"

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has filed papers to force Google to comply.

I've noticed that whenever the government seeks to compromise the privacy of private citizens, there are buzz words which are used to convince us that this is a Good Thing.  I mean, who is going to argue with trying to protect our children from sexual predators?  Who is going to argue with protecting our country from additional 9/11-like attacks.

So we get all noble and stuff and we say "OK--I'll give up this little bit of freedom for the good of the tiny tots, for the safety of the country..." and another piece is eroded in the name of "national security."

It helps if the terror alert goes up to orange about this time too, so we start looking strangely at people with different colored skin or different clothes.   Gotta keep us off balance, you know.

But of course there are no headlines saying "OK--the government looked at all your records and now we are never going to do that again; your privacy is safe."  No.  They have made it through the barrier and Big Brother is watching.

Or listening in on telephone conversations.

Then, on top of that, came Joan Chittister's column this week, which reports on... alumni group that is offering students up to $100 per class to supply tapes and notes exposing professors who allegedly express extreme left-wing political views at the University of California, Los Angeles. The article goes on to tell us, "The year-old Bruin Alumni Association says it is concerned about professors who use lecture time to press positions against President Bush, the military and multinational corporations, among other things."

"Extreme left wing," it seems, is anything or anyone who criticizes the present administration or political policies of the United States. "Extreme left wing," in other words, is democracy.

Chittister goes on to add...

I have dim memories of this kind of tactic. Children in Nazi Germany, children in Communist China, were trained to report parents who talked at their supper tables about the deficiencies of the then-regime. Teachers were removed from classrooms, preachers were removed from pulpits, political figures were removed from office for such things. Some of them went all the way to a firing squad, we're told.

We have asked ourselves for decades:  How in the world did the good people of Germany ever allow Hitler to come to power.

Now I know, because I'm watching it happen in my own country.  I'm watching the government ride roughshod over all of the constitutional rights we have held so dear for so long and when we protest, they raise the terror alert, or conveniently capture "the #2 man in Al Qaeda" or claim that we've killed some important terrorist, with no proof whatsoever that such a killing has taken place.  Anything to convince us that giving up all of our rights is a Good Thing.  But they never mention giving them all back at any point.

And of course, if you raise questions, then you are unpatriotic.  You are bringing down the morale of the troops.  You are supporting terrorism.

I cheer for Google, which is refusing to mildly acquiesce to the Department of Justice demands.

I applaud the librarians who are shredding patrons' records rather than turn them over to the Department of Homeland Security for some hunting expedition, hoping to find some terrorists lurking in the stacks somewhere.

I am proud of those servicemen who listen to the man in the White House say that dissent undermines the morale of the troops, who say that it doesn't undermine their morale at all, but gives them strength to know that the people back home are behind them and want them out of this un-winnable war.

And I have so little faith in my own safety any more that I fully expect some guys in trench coats to show up on my doorstep some day and haul me off to prison because I've dared to speak out against the Bush administration.

The problem, of course, is that "freedom" (that elusive thing that we are selling to other countries when it has come to mean so little here) is being attacked from so many sides that you stand in the middle and try to figure out where to even begin.

I am reminded of when our little medical office was bought out and taken over by an HMO.  The people who negotiated the takeover promised the doctors that nothing would change; they would be allowed to practice medicine as they always had, give the kind of patient care they felt was important.  And, assured, the doctors signed. Then things started to change. When the doctors protested, they were told that the negotiators had been an "interim team" who were there only for 2 years, for the purpose of brokering the deal and that they were now gone and did not really have the authority to promise all that they promised.

The HMO didn't change everything overnight, of course.  It was a little bit here, a little bit there.   They took their time.  But at the end of 5 years, the medical office was completely changed.  It had been the best office in town and had the best reputation of any of them.  At the time I left, you would be hard pressed to find even a memory of what made that office special. 

But the HMO did it just like the Bush administration, one step at a time so that the doctors could sigh and give up one thing...and then another...and then another. 

I watched it happen to the office I love and now I'm watching it happen to my country as well.

So you sign petitions and you write letters, and make phone calls and write journal entries, but in the end, nothing happens and bit by bit, piece by piece, the Constitution is being shredded before our very eyes, and, like the doctors I liked so much, we seem to be powerless to stop it.

Text of Al Gore's speech


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Photo by Claire Amy Atkins


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