Thursday, August 17, 2006

For The Slow Of Mind

There are many people in America who really, truly believe that we are living under a tyrannical president bent on destroying the Bill Of Rights. We call these people "idiots". As a public service for any such people who have recently enjoyed a spark of common sense, here's an example of what real tyranny looks like. To make it easy to understand in the context of the recent NSA court case, it even involves wiretaps.

In August, 1991, nearly 15 years ago to the day, elements of the Soviet military attempted a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. They sent tanks into the streets of Moscow and towards the Russian Federation Building, and informed Gorbachev that he could continue to serve as a figurehead. Boris Yeltsin was then President of Russia, the major portion of the still extant Soviet Union. He defied the plot, along with Andrei Sakharov. Young people poured into the streets to stand between the tanks and democratic ministers inside the Federation Building. For three tense days, the country waited out the crisis, and the putsch eventually dissolved. Yeltsin's actions made him the dominant figure in Russia, and the failed plot contributed to the failure of the Soviet Union a few months later.

During the crisis, my wife's mother was speaking on the phone regularly to a friend in Minsk. She tried to describe the scenes on television to her friend, who couldn't get the latest news. At one point she said the word "tank" and the line cut off. Thinking it coincidental, she called her friend back. Again, the line cut off just after she said the word "tank". After suffering this several more times, she switched to using less exact phrasing, like "green thing with treads." The line stopped cutting off.

That is what a tyrant's wiretap looks like, and that is not the NSA surveillance program. Pretending to be a freedom fighter by disrupting the President's attempts to surveill al Qaeda phone calls to the U.S. is ignorant narcissism.

As I said earlier, what we are having is a disagreement about Executive power, about whether a clearly necessary wartime program is constitutional as currently configured, or if further legislation is required.

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