Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Al Gore: Defender of Law and Order...
Regareding the ex-Vice President/Current mental patient's comments on Preident Bush "knowingly and repeatedly violating the law" with regards to NSA wiretaps, I say, Al should know illegal behavior when he sees it. He was surrounded by it as Vice (and "vice" is the operative word) President and even indulged in a bit of it himself.

Al Gore was witness to, or should have known about:

Bill Clinton's littany of "allegations" about rape, sexual assault, sexual harrassment, misuse of campaign funds, accepting bribes from foreign governments or agents thereof. There are the controversies surrounding something like 54 "Arkancides" (i.e. the surprising number of people who have turned up dead after being involved with the Clintons in one way or another), the allegationsof murder and tampering with evidence in the cases of Ron Brown and Vince Foster. There is also the use of the FBI, IRS and a ton of other government-type alphabet soup agencies against political opponents.

Hilary's record of alleged crimes is somewhat tame in comparison, but include withholding evidence, destroying evidence, securities fraud, real estate fraud, misappropriation of campaign funds, filing false documents with the SEC and FEC. How about 900 FBI files int he hands of an ex-bar bouncer that no one remembers hiring, files on Republicans and other potential political rivals/enemies, by the way. Wonder how much those files revealed about the opposition and how it was used against them (particularly when impeachment time rolled around).

Let's also not forget Janet Reno who has the deaths of 80 people in a conflagration shown on national television after an abortive assault upon a church, complete with dead ATF agents, tanks, helicopters and the belated admission of the use of pyrotechnic devices after 5 years of denials. Let's throw in the use of Federal agents to facilitate the kidnapping of a 7 year old child (again, shown on national television) in order to placate a certain Carribean dictator.

How about Jamie Gorelick (which is both her name and an intimation of what her role was in the government, perhaps) and her repeated efforts to stonewall the 9/11 Commission, to destroy or hide evidence before the Commission and her role in the creation of the policies that helped lead to the events of 9/11.

Let's not forget Sandy Berger, he of the stuffed pants, who destroyed, stole,and doctored government documents that were supposed to be given to the 9/11 Commission.

There is a long list of minor, but important, co-conspirators in all of this: Web Hubble, Susan MacDougal, MacDougal's husband (whose name eludes me for thje moment) Craig Livingstone (who has disappeared as conveniently as he was hired), a host of private investigators, etc.

Let's not forget Al's little dalliances with activities that didn't pass the smell test, like calling for a recount in areas where he was sure there were more votes, and not just in the whole state of Florida. How about taking his election loss into the law courts (which delayed the implementation of the Bush Administration and which may have contributed to the multi-agency confusion implicated in the 9/11 attack).

Yes, AL Gore certainly knows lawbreaking when he sees it. What he doesn't see is hypocrisy. But then again, narcissism is a serious mental illness that blinds one to his own shortcomings.

Tipper, honey, please get him some help. And keep him away from the TV cameras.
Ben Franklin's View of Insanity...
Appropos of yesterday being Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday (I think it was yesterday), I was reminded of one of the old geezer's most famous remarks about futility. Paraphrasing Ben Americana, the quote goes something along the lines of "Insanity is repeating the same action and expecting different results".

Which brings me to a speech made two days ago by Michael Chertoff, the director of the so-called Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Chertoff, in response to complaints from people who regulalry traverse US borders with Canada and Mexico, unveiled a plan to speed up the annoying routine of actually having your travel permits, papers, etc. checked at border crossings. Apparently, complying with US law upon entering the United States is a tad difficult for some folks, akin to the necessary evil of having a cavity drilled.

The new plan to speed up "security checks" at US Border Crossings is to implement what Mr. Chertoff calls a "Trusted Traveler" program, where people who routinely and rugularly cross into the US from Canada and Mexico will be given an identification card. Possession of this card, from what I can tell, helps travellers avoid the process of removing their shoes at the airport or actually having to carry their passports.

Which is where Franklin's description of insanity comes into play.

If we learned anything from 9/11 it is that the process of obtaining identification papers in the United States is extremely easy. The hijackers had 60 state driver's licenses between them, for example. Social Security cards wind up in the hands of illegal immigrants all the time, especially the fake kind. Counterfeiting of identification documents is rampant. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, made easier by the fact that Americans are so free and easy with revealing their personal information. Just ask any telemarketer how many credit card numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, etc., they collect on the average day while selling timeshares in Florida. Just ask your insurance company, bank or doctor how much information thay have on you. Just think of how many of you may be reading this right now from a computer on which you have ordered something from Amazon, via credit or debit card, and which is still not protected by a firewall, security software, anti-virus software, etc.

Check the garbage pail in your local mall establishment for all those carbons that get thrown away, or sometimes, lifted by employees. Ask yourself how it is that 2 year olds get called for jury duty, or that dead people and housecats have credit cards issued in their names.

Ask Microsoft how much they know about you. They pretty much check on your computer all the time to see if you're stealing software.

So, there's an awful lot of information floating around on pretty much everyone. Much of it just laying around for the taking. Since our lives are pretty much resigned to a database somewhere which can be hacked (or more likely, your bank or the magazine you subscribe to will sell your information to an interested buyer), lost, pilfered, etc., it kinda sorta waters down the value of any form of personal identification.

So why, oh why, when we know that such devices are easily forged or counterfeited, that with the easy access to people's personal information brought about by the computer revolution, is our government issuing a "Trusted Traveller Card" that is barely worth the plastic it's made of?

Because the Department of Homeland Security (and the government in general) have to be seen as "doing something" in the face of all the rancor and debate about securing the borders. If the argument is "We don't know who is crossing our borders at any given time" the government response can be "Sure we do, we gave them ID cards, see?".

It is a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. But that's government, especially the American government, for you: when confronted by a serious issue, do something ineffective and open to fraud, but symbolic of your "commitment" to "safe and secure" borders.

This is merely an extention of previous government boondoggles on border security which used to fall under the euphamism of "guest worker program".