Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Whoever Came Up With These Names?

I don’t know about you, but I am frustrated by things being called what is popular or agreeable or what sells, rather than what they are.

I don’t know about you, but I am frustrated by things being called what is popular or agreeable or what sells, rather than what they are.
Frostedflakes Take for example the USA Patriot Act—the Frosted Flakes of government intervention in our lives. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. Do you ever wonder who comes up with these acronyms? Did they start with PATRIOT and work backwards though the dictionary?
I suppose the Discouraging Useful and Meaningful Bipartisan Overview (DUMBO) Act would not have sold as well a short six weeks after 9-11. So, even though we got the DUMBO Act, we saluted the flag and called it PATRIOT. And the flags, as well as our personal rights, flew.
Usflag The original Act (just so no one could accuse us of giving away all our constitutional protections in one fell swoop) had a sunset clause to ensure that Congress would need to take active steps to reauthorize it. Nodding off like viewers between guests on Leno, we signed up as DUMBOs again in 2006.
Or we allowed our elected representatives to do it in our name. That’s what a republican (with a small r) form of government is all about—electing those who act for you instead of actually bothering about all the details yourself.
Karlrove Come to think about it, that’s what Republican (with a capital R) government is about as well. Though they don’t worry so much about elected officials. Karl Rove, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Alberto Gonzales are good enough for their purposes.
Rumsfeld Eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana and Vermont) and 396 cities and counties (including New York City; Los Angeles; Dallas; Chicago; Eugene, Oregon; Philadelphia; and Cambridge, Massachusetts) have passed resolutions condemning the Act for attacking civil liberties. (Wikipedia)
Paulwolfowitz But what the hell, it’s PATRIOTIC.
Interestingly, the Act and George Bush have much in common. The content of each was largely unknown when they were enacted—the former by a terrified Congress and the latter by an intimidated Supreme Court. Each, immediately after 9-11 enjoyed approximately 70% approval and has since fallen to 30%. Each harbored within it a hidden agenda and each appealed to patriotism in place of content.
Frosted Flakes are good for you.
Gonzales2 Similarly, where we used to have what we called Civil Defense, largely peopled by school teachers and block captains with whistles and hard hats, we now have the Department of Homeland Security. DHS has replaced your and my neighbors with 180,000 full time, fully confused employees at an annual cost of $44 billion.
We never used to even have a Homeland. Homelands were for Russians and Eastern Europeans. But we have one now and the FBI and CIA report to it.
The FBI used to work pretty well back in the bad old days when it was run by a dictatorial closet gay named J. Edgar Hoover, but it no longer knows how to get a message from a field agent to headquarters. The CIA has similarly fallen apart, to the extent that Don Rumsfeld built his own CIA within the Defense Department. The old one reports to DHS, but the new one doesn’t. Oh, and the PATRIOT Act worker-bees report to DHS as well.
Am I going too fast for you?
Homeland security is generally used to refer to the broad national effort by all levels of government--federal, state, local and tribal--to protect the territory of the United States from hazards both internal and external as well as the Department of Homeland Security itself. (Wikipedia, but my italics)
Well, there you have it. That’s why the confusion. Homeland Security’s job is to protect the country from hazards, including itself. That’s what happened in New Orleans—it failed to protect itself from itself.
Homelandsecurityadvissys So we guestimate we’re spending $44 billion, but we haven’t the slightest notion of what it’s buying. Which is the way it’s supposed to be, because if it’s working we’re not being terrorized, except in a very small way in the matter of our rights.
Conveniently, it's impossible to prove a negative and no one (apparently) thinks $44 billion is a negative.
Taking that premise just a notch higher, some say that results are not the goal. The impression of results is the goal. The impression calms people down. No wonder Mike Chertoff has time for all those speeches and congressional appearances. No one actually knows that he’s out of his office, because no one looks.
Prozac also calms people down and (as far as is known) has almost no side effects relating to the destruction of the FBI and CIA. It is possible (though not yet clinically proven) that the wider distribution of various ‘lifestyle’ drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft might reasonably replace the entire structure of the Department of Homeland Security.
But then, come to think of it, we were never really a homeland kind of country.
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