Saturday, July 28, 2007

Freedom isn't free

(Note: this is straight up politics. If you want to see a picture of Autumn, click here:)

The Nightmare is winning:

A few weeks ago I watched a BBC documentary called the Power Of Nightmares. Here's the trailer:

I think the series should be required viewing. It says that there's a theory about defeating Liberalism in the US. Make the people believe in a bad guy, and they will be led. Guys like Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz admit to it on tape. And by liberalism, they don't mean Democrats, they mean your freedoms. And it's working:

The government is monitoring your phone calls and can read your e-mails and open your snail mail.

The government can access records of your large financial transactions, such as buying a house.

Law enforcement officers can bust into your home when you're not there, riffle through your belongings, plant a recording device on your computer, and leave without notifying you for at least thirty days -- and maybe a lot more.

You no longer have the right to protest where the president or vice president can see you, or at major public events when they aren't even present.

Law enforcement officers can now monitor you in public if you are merely exercising your political rights.

They can infiltrate your political organizations.

And they can keep track of you at your place of worship. The government can find out from bookstores and libraries the material you've been reading, and the bookstore owner and the librarian can't talk about it, except to their lawyers, for a whole year -- or more.

The government can hold you in preventive detention for months on end as a "material witness."

If you're not a citizen the government can deport you on a technicality or for mere political association.

If you're not a citizen the government can label you an "enemy combatant" and send you to secret prisons around the world, where you may never see the light of day again -- much less a lawyer or a judge. And even if you are a citizen, the government can label you an enemy combatant and hold you in solitary confinement here in the United States.

Bush says you're with us, or you're against us

That kind of simplistic look at the world means we’re easier to lead. Believe in evil-doers, and it's easy to rationalize the lack of freedoms. Opening your mail, listening to your phone conversations becomes the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Who isn't for monitoring terrorists?

But then, perhaps you realize that our freedoms have been taken away because of people living in caves. No wait, that's not true: we wouldn't give up our freedoms because of people living in caves on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.In order to make the narrative work, add 'sleeper cells', 'Terror Warnings', an unsolved Anthrax attack. Add the 'gut' feeling of the guy in charge of Homeland Security. That helps sell the notion that the people in caves are really everyone.

That's the premise of the Power of Nightmares. And it points out that Neocons admit they were at it before. It used to be communists where everywhere. Now it's radical Muslims. They are everywhere, and they want to kill us. That's taken as fact.

Here's my take: Freedom is messy. Period. If you want freedom, it comes with risk. The freedom to own a gun means there's a risk of getting shot. The US used to have a constitution that didn't allow search. So even if a serial killer was killing people in my neighborhood, the government run police couldn't enter my home searching for evidence that I'm the killer. Even though a search through every home would save lives, American's didn't used to allow it. American's would never have allowed the Serial Killer Surveillance Act. But they allow the government to issue a Terrorist Surveillance Act.

I think the American people are beginning to wake up to the last 6 years. I think that's why prominent republicans have actually been wondering about the possibility of an attack. They have bought the notion that we're in danger and almost long for us to get attacked. A friend of mine, a republican wrote this in an e-mail:
Also, if you think GW is a threat to freedoms in this country now wait until the next big attack. No mater who is in office they will take away so many liberties next time it will make Jefferson roll over in the grave.
I responded that if he thinks this, then he should be for a withdraw from Iraq. The terrorists have already won.

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