I was winding up looking at the blood oranges and the corn just coming up in my garden, and I decided to go inside to make more political trouble in Oregon. Thanks to the internet, you can do that these days.
The first thing I did was to go to my Facebook page. Imagine my surprise when I found a message from my little brother Clyde. This is about as common as an eclipse of the sun. The last time I actually saw him we nearly got into a brawl because of his greed in dividing up my mother's estate. I had talked to him last by phone just before the election. The Facebook message was that he had had a small stroke, but he had bounced back and was back at work. During the course of the next day or two, I called. I only got message machines. But I digress.
Clyde was a character in my book The Story of the Century. (Available at Amazon!) In it, my hero Clem calls Clyde, knowing that he's a stooge who records phone conversations so he can turn them over to the authorities. Clem knows this, providing him with deliberately false information. The funny thing about talking to Clyde on the phone are these pregnant pauses that he has. It's like he's taking notes or something, but that's just the way he is. But then -- Clyde works for the phone company.
Once upon a time he was actually an employee, a low level manager supervising the grunts in the holes doing cable splicing and line connections. However, since the company downsized, Clyde lost his job. He has the freedom to be a private contractor with them doing the same job as before. Does he make what he used to? Yes.but now he gets to pay for his own healthcare costs, pensions, etc. Such is the wonderfulness of American corporatocracy.
Libprogs are up in arms over drones and warrentless wiretapping, etc. by President Obama. But civil liberties in these areas are dead on arrival since 9/11, and I cannot see when these pieces of the Constitution will ever come back. Perhaps if the US had presidents like Willy Brandt (Germany) or Olaf Palme (Sweden), there might ber some tinkering around the edges, but 98% of the warrantless wiretapping of our phone, banking, and internet traffic would still be in place.Why is this?
When Hillary Clinton was asked about why the US didn't surrender on its futile war on drugs, she said. "We can't. There's too much money involved." Clyde no doubt understood this concept immediately.
Because of my checkered history and political beliefs, I have probably been under government surveillance for a lot of time since 1967. Now that the national surveillance state has been expanded to include everyone, the only thing I can say is, "Welcome to the club." When I found out that John Brennan, current nominee for the CIA and the #1 wiretapper in the country wanted to expand the government's surveillance, I gave out an involuntary yelp. If the government snooped into my private life any more, they would be giving me colonoscopies instead of my medical providers.
As John Chambers, CEO of Cisco once said, "Privacy? Get over it!" Given the power of the money, if anyone is looking at doing away with more than $75 billion dollars of year for government snooping into you -- you might as well write a letter to the pope.
When Clyde finally got around to returning my phone call the first call sounded like a speaker had been placed inside of a garbage can. The second time he called, everything was crystal clear. I assume that this is because our conversation went through the NSA splitter box in Room 403 of the San Francisco AT&T switching center.
We only talked for a few minutes because Clyde called late. Every time I've ever had a phone conversation with him (for years and years) the thought balloon in my head flashed: THIS MESSAGE MAY BE RECORDED. And tonight was no exception. Clyde spoke to me as he always had, with pregnant pauses -- perhaps to allow the recorders to do their job.
We had our intimate conversation, safe in knowning that it was just as private and secure as any phone call in America. Perhaps with the same number of people listening.