on the Potomac
November 22, 2002
By Ernest Partridge
the DU 4th Quarter Fundraising Drive!
Yes, it's that time of year again -
when we beg for money to keep Democratic Underground
online. Unfortunately the site doesn't run by
magic - it costs money. And without money, there's
no DU. So please take a moment right now
your enemies wisely, for you will become like them." - Anon.
On Tuesday, the Senate approved the formation of the Department
of Homeland Security, by a vote of 90 to 9.
So now we have our own Komitet Gosudarstvenoi Bezopastnosti
(KGB) - sorry, I lapsed into an alien language. That translates
into "Committee on State Security." Sounds a lot like "The
Department of Homeland Security" (DHS) doesn't it?
This same week we learned of a super-computer database which
will presumably be linked to the DHS. This is the brainstorm
of Admiral John Poindexter, a convicted perjurer. This monstrous
concoction will record book purchases and library loans, monitor
e-mails, and compile complete records of credit card and checkbook
purchases, and so forth.
In short, it will know everything about you except whether
or not you own or have purchased a gun, this exception thanks
to John Ashcroft and the NRA who will not allow such an "assault
on our liberty."
"Oh well," we are told, "if you have nothing to hide, you
have nothing to fear." Yeah, sure. But how soon will some
of us want to "hide" our less than enthusiastic support of
"our President." ("You are either with us or against us.")
So pause for a moment and reflect: Do you have a dirty little
Did kindly Mr. Potlatch catch you swiping a candy bar at
his Mom and Pop store when you were twelve years old? And
did that get to the police blotter?
Were you busted in college for smoking a joint?
Did you once forget to make good on a check that bounced?
Have you, out of curiosity, rented an adult video or paid
for access to the Playboy channel?
Did you get too friendly with your Secretary ten years ago,
and have you managed to keep this from your wife, thus protecting
a perfectly fabulous marriage?
Did you once, on a lark, buy a copy of The Daily Worker,
or subscribe to Z-Magazine or The Nation?
Then, my friend, if you have a beef with "your government,"
you'd better keep it to yourself, because Adm. Poindexter's
magical computer base will, like Santa, know if you've been
bad or good. Furthermore, the Admiral's computer will "know"
a bunch of things that aren't so - as reported by a disgruntled
employee, or colleague, or a nosy neighbor.
By quick calculation, the portion of our population that
has something in their past that they'd just as soon keep
secret, comes to approximately 99.44%, the remaining 0.66
being certifiably "pure."
Are you scared yet?
All this reminds me of a 1990 conversation with a Russian
friend at his Moscow apartment. As our conversation turned
to politics, he put a finger to his mouth, making a "shush"
gesture, and pointed to the ceiling at a hypothetical microphone.
Thereafter we had all our political conversations outside.
As I walked late at night from the Metro station to his apartment,
the lights were on at the local Post Office. When I asked
why, he explained that the place operated 24/7, as the PO
staff was reading the mail. Thank God, I thought, I live in
a free country.
That was then. This is now.
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer
in the field of Environmental Ethics. He publishes the website,
"The Online Gadfly" www.igc.org/gadfly
and co-edits the progressive website "The Crisis Papers" www.crisispapers.org.