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Land of the Free?

Even as we use terrorism as a guise to impose our specific brand of freedom upon the world through the use of violence and coercion, lawmakers are using this same terrorism as a long-awaited excuse to take away that freedom here at home. The system is sick, folks, and maybe beyond repair. Perhaps the evildoers are really just like bacteria, sent to this planet, by the same God that the politicians invoke whenever they have a personal agenda to advance, to compost this rotting corpse of a free nation. I hope not.

I love this country. As a matter of fact, I really know no other. I don't want to give up and move to Canada or France or Costa Rica or Zimbabwe or India or anywhere else for that matter. I love the people of this country. I've been to virtually every corner of America and everywhere I've been, I've been greeted with kindness.

What I don't love, however, is the way the current government continues to twist September 11 like a knife in the belly of the great people of this great nation, alienating us one by one in a sick mind experiment to see how far the citizens can be pushed before we stand up. Using our respect and mourning for those that died on September 11 and those that have died in vengeance and purported vengeance since as levers to pry us into accepting the new American ideals that democracy is silent agreement and that patriotism is blind faith is a tactic that is growing very old, very fast.

When, less than one month ago, I made the short walk on the morning of September 11 down to the former site of the World Trade Center and saw that an enormous contingent of the crowd were wearing black t-shirts with very plain and clear white text stating "9-11 was an inside job" I was saddened and embarassed. Not because of the presence of the protesters — actually I was rather moved that this country still allows the peaceful dissent of the people (most of the time at least). I was sad that we are living under a "leadership" that inspires such distrust, and embarassed that this "leadership" is primarily responsible for representing us to the rest of the world.

I'm not sure how much of this dissent made it into the mainstream national media. I saw firsthand one instance where a news reporter was threatening a protester with fictitious laws in an attempt to secure a clear backdrop of the gaping hole in the nation with no protesters in sight.

At one time, I thought that every youthful generation just needed a cause, and that without Vietnam or conspicuous segregation to rebel against, my generation and those after were, at times, looking for battles to fight for rebellion's sake. Now it seems to me that the inevitability lies on the other side of the equation.

Overcomforted veteran politicians have an inherent need for a personal agenda to impose, perhaps to leave some semblance of a legacy behind, perhaps because disconnect from their constituents makes them believe they are doing the right thing, or perhaps just to vie for more money and more power.

In any case, the reason I am writing this now may seem a bit petty, and certainly relative to many of the issues we face, it is. But I feel so strongly only because the attack is so arbitrary and ultimately personal. In the past weeks the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was slipped through both houses of Congress and now sits on our President's desk awaiting signature, conveniently tucked away at the bottom of a bill that supposedly focuses on port security. It's another example of pandering to a niche constituency. Polls have shown that a substantial majority of Americans don't want a ban on Internet poker. But, capitalizing upon loopholes in the political system, the most manipulative and conniving politicians impose their ways on the masses in a carefully architected attack on our personal freedom.

Ironically enough, what this bill really does is only eliminate the purest of law abiding citizens from playing, and the most conniving and fanatical players will continue, creating more criminal minds in the process as we move to research technologies like Tor and beyond to circumvent these bans.

Without locking down the entire country behind a firewall a la China, I don't believe there's any way these laws can truly be enforced. Sure, there will be enough of a nuisance that the state of the game will be crippled, but the "problem" will never be eliminated. Why can't these people learn? The hackers will always win. And by the way, as an aside to all you geniuses in Washington — if anything that even approaches the effect of that China-style national firewall ever comes into being in this country, that will be my breaking point. I'll be the first one marching my happy, intelligent, GDP-boosting ass to Canada or beyond, and I'll be taking a whole crowd of great American citizens with me. And just remember that - you've got the tanks and the bombs and the code of law on your side, but when it really comes down to it, we've got the brains. And you know it, and it scares the shit out of you. And so you try to keep a little control over what is going on or squelch it entirely, because when you see something you don't immediately understand or agree with, that's what you do. But take it easy, because just as fast as we can build this economic engine here, we can take it elsewhere.

And this isn't just another case of angst-ridden twenty-somethings looking for something to argue. Anchor Keith Olbermann painted this picture of opportunistic manipulation very clearly one month ago. Read the quote. Watch the video. If you haven't already.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."

Why is it that my government insists on protecting me from myself, when what I really desire is protection from my government?


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