Monday, May 2, 2011

Better Stuff to Do

What a day of conflicting emotions. I woke to the news that Obama had ordered the takedown of Osama bin Laden, who took a double tap to the noggin. I both felt satisfaction in a job well done and sensed that I wouldn't be feeling giddy. (That said, go watch the Daily Show from today.) I have to admit to being pleased that the Navy SEALs were the team to do it - having the most affection for that group of the JSOC, despite being acquainted with a few of them. (My new emotion is surprise that Google dictionary does not yet recognize "takedown", "Osama", "SEALs" or "JSOC" despite nearly total coverage of those things today. I suppose I am also relieved that it finally knows "Obama".)

There's pride in knowing that the entire operation was (1) kept quiet - no one leaked critical information that could have endangered our guys or tipped off the targets, (2) well planned, and (3) successfully executed. And that the target was a man that these guys who "live for the suck, not for the glory" could actually get some credit for killing. It's what we have them for, and I can't tell you how relieved I am that our current president knows how and when to use special forces. It makes be believe that he also knows when NOT to use them, which might be more important. In the case of Osama, I think his death was inextricably linked to our narrative of success. My stance on his demise is along the lines of "don't bait the bear".

If I'd had any energy at all on saturday, I'd have blogged about the Wedding. I still might, but suffice it to say, it was the feast day of a generation and people need these occasional spectacles. It's good for the mental health. I did spend a few minutes this weekend wondering what manner of newsworthy items would be buried under the deluge of the Royal Wedding newscaster-distract-o-tron-2011. Usually, corporations and countries take these opportunities to announce unpopular things so the news gets buried under the fold, as long as it's less marketable than the flashy event. In this case, I think Obama used the distraction strategically to reduce the risk of press leakage of this operation. Because even if it did get leaked, how could it compete with such a stunning dress? Or those crazy hats? Unless someone knew the whole story, such a rumor wouldn't be sufficiently newsworthy to overcome The Spectacle, and even then it might not fly. I was pretty impressed that someone finally used the media lull to accomplish something impressive. (Despite thinking it was the necessary thing to do, somewhat like an emergency C-section, I can't call it a good deed as such.)

Next comes some trepidation. I've been staunch anti-war-on-the-tactic-of-terrorism from the get go. Honestly, I would have been fine with going in, taking out Osama, and calling it a day. (I'm actually ok with black ops, when used IN MODERATION, by someone I trust to make an adult decision, when they know they could be called to account for what gets done, and feel it's necessary to do them anyway.) After 9/11, I could see limited engagement in Afghanistan. But Iraq? Clusterfuck from start to finish residual troops who may one day leave.

What I had hoped for then, was that we'd become even MORE American - more free, banding together, not being scared, willing to take a risk here and there rather than give up our hard won freedoms. Instead, I got a government spewing fearmongering nonsense for nearly a decade, and a media utterly and absolutely complicit in spreading the the fear. Instead of taking a statement from the White House and giving it in context, and making some sort of reasoned comment on it, especially with regards to how much bullshit it contained, I was being fed a steady stream of "the White house says this" soundbytes. Even from NPR, that "liberal" bastion of broadcasting. These preposterous soundbytes like "The Healthy Forests initiative is good for trees" would land in my ear and wake me up shaking with rage nearly every morning. (I only get one station in the electrical dead zone where my alarm clock lives, and it was the least worst option.) The rage was at the combination of flat out lies given out from our government echoed back, without question, comment, or analysis, by the journalists who are supposed to be critical to the point of irrationality. Since Obama got elected, the rage making is less, but now it's mostly about things that are commonly agreed to be false. At least someone points out the nekkid guy in the parade once in a while these days.

I've got a long and involved rant against the way we handle the security theater around flying and travel generally, which I'll forgo for now. But has anyone compared how difficult it is to fly these days with what we all condemned about the soviet government control on the flow of people? You can still drive around the country, but flying, or even taking the train requires an Official Government ID. Really? How many years will it be before they're making movies about the goodhearted rebels in America who require underground suppliers of forged documents to travel around the country, or smuggle deserving folks over the wall to safety, without being targeted for destruction? I'm not real thrilled with the average citizen being required to produce supplemental, official ID on demand all the time, for routine transactions. Reminds me too much of Escape from East Berlin docudramas.

So my hope for the future is that the GWOT will ramp down (and with it, can I hope that the GWOD, or global war on drugs will similarly be rescinded) the travel restrictions will ease to something less ridiculous and more effective, that we won't condone past or future torture of anyone in the name of America. That we can make decisions based on facts, not lies. That we can eject the people who keep trying to make us scared and call them out for working against the interests of the country. The biggest boogeyman of all has been removed and tossed overboard. Can we all agree that however scary the next boogeyman is, that he or she is not scarier than what we'll allow to be done in our names? Can we all agree that they are not scarier than giving up liberties for marginal illusions of safety? Can we all agree that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?

1 comment:

Up My Mind said...

Awesome post! Well said. :)