Is Anyone Paying Attention?

27 11 2011

I realize that thinking about our politicians and their manifold stupidities tends to cause projectile vomiting and blinding headaches, but it would behoove all of you who enjoy the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution to start. For those of you for whom thinking of any sort is actively painful, allow me to clarify that- everyone in the United States should start paying attention to the shenanigans going on in the halls of government.

It seems that a few Senators with an “R” in parentheses after their names have managed to sound out all the big words in Orwell’s 1984, and decided that they liked some of the ideas presented. They liked it so much that they proposed a bill to basically make the “War on Terror” more or less permanent and give the US military authority to detain and indefinitely imprison any American citizen on suspicion of being engaged in terrorism. By the way, for those of you who aren’t in shock after reading that, this includes American citizens within the continental United States. Put more simply, YOU could be arrested by the US Marines in your back yard if someone with a grudge called the local office of the Department of Homey Scrutiny and said you were building bombs for Al Qaeda. You could be hauled away in cuffs and tossed into a cell for the duration of the “War on Terror”- which would now be essentially endless.

There are those in this country who might be okay with this- provided it happened to people they dislike or merely disagree with. Those people are fools. Worse than fools, they are willing to sell themselves and their children into servitude in the vain hope that doing so will make sure those uppity moose limbs, ay-rabs, messicans, and hippies won’t be able to sully their precious American landscape with their differences. Without meaning to, these imbeciles are building the walls of their own future prison cells, because they don’t realize that THEY are a trouble-maker with different ideas to someone else.

This sort of Byzantine use of power is becoming ever more widespread, and is by no means exclusive to the Federal government. The Feds are merely the level of government least responsive to citizen anger. Witness the tale of Timothy Siaki, an American citizen who happens to be deaf. When police were called to a disturbance, they found Timothy and his fiance engaged in a loud argument- because both of them were deaf, they were arguing in Ameslan (American Sign Language), but they were so agitated that they were vocalizing as well. The police naturally arrested Timothy because he wouldn’t respond to their commands. This is easy to understand, since Timothy can neither read lips nor read or write English. His fiance tried to tell the police that she was in no danger, but they ignored her, because she also could not speak properly, and none of the cops bothered to get an Ameslan translator. This failure to get someone who understood Ameslan involved lasted for 25 days, during which time Timothy was almost deported by Immigration. He was almost deported despite the fact that Immigration agents knew he was an American citizen. I hope the lawsuit Timothy filed after his release leaves the police department and Immigration in bankruptcy.

Now let us look at abuse of power at the State level. It seems a High School class in Kansas were taken to the capitol and chanced to hear a speech by the governor. One of the students went on Twitter and said a few unkind things about the governor, then described her feeling that the governor did not represent her interests or her political views. Someone on the governor’s staff read the comments, and then contacted the girl’s school administrators to punish her for her temerity in saying unpleasant things about the governor. I realize that Kansas is not the most important state in the union, but surely even the governor of Kansas has better things to do than harass high school students who exercise their 1st Amendment rights to voice their opinions.

Since we’re discussing schools, it seems that a Catholic school somewhere in this country has decided that certain books are forbidden for their students- including a large number of classics such as Milton’s Paradise Lost. One student has decided to bring those books to school anyway, and has even gone so far as to start lending the books to her fellow students. For those of you old enough to remember the Soviet Union, this sort of thing used to happen all the time in the USSR. Then, books were banned for political reasons. In the “Land of the Free”, it largely happens for religious reasons. Granted that a religious school might not want to carry “controversial” books in their school library, but there ‘s no reason why students should be forbidden from reading the books on their own. Haven’t these idiots ever heard of the Streissand Effect? How about the best way to lead a pig? Taking the trouble to ban a book and publicly punish those who defy the ban merely guarantees that more students will read the works in question.

What do all of these incidents have in common? Bureaucrats and administrators who are insulated from public displeasure. Senators can count on their idiocies being forgotten by the time their six-year terms are up, so they don’t bother even pretending they are working in the country’s best interest anymore. Immigration officials hold secret proceedings out of the public eye for deciding on deportation- even for American citizens. State governors theoretically should be more susceptible to the peoples’ will, but the antics of the current crop of governors with an R after their names seem bent on acting like tin-plated despots in their own little fiefdom (This does not exonerate those with a D after their names, by the way. The most overt examples of corruption, cronyism, and abuse of power just happen to be from republicans recently, but democratic governors have their own traditions of the same crimes). School administrators who are so well insulated from the public they allegedly serve that they can impose censorship and generally rule their domains with an iron fist.

So what can we, the People, do about all this? First and foremost, pay attention. These abuses and excesses happen because those committing them correctly assume that the fickle public won’t remember anything past the next TV season. Once you start paying attention to the antics of these blights on the body politic, you’ll start to realize that we (the People) are paying these drooling jackasses to violate our civil liberties and build a police state against our will. They work for us. If they fail to perform their jobs to our satisfaction, fire them.

Elected officials- especially at the Federal level- should only be concerned with ensuring the most effective means of guaranteeing the things written into the Preamble to the Constitution:

We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America.

To accomplish all of these things, our elected oafish-als are supposed to be bound by the rules set forth in the body of the Constitution and the various Amendments thereto. By my reckoning, every last one of the abuses and excesses listed above violate that last italicized item in the Preamble. They also violate the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and/or 7th Amendments to the Constitution. Why are we (the People) paying these imbeciles to trample our civil rights underfoot?

Because none but a loudmouthed few seem to be paying attention, and fewer still seem to care.

Current status- Disgusted

Current music: Banditos by the Refreshments

Feline Overlord

7 11 2011

A little over six months ago, the last Feline Overlord at Chateau d’Archvillain died without an heir to the throne. I’ve been an acknowledged catsoftie since before I could walk, and this is the longest I’ve been without a furry little despot to boss me around. It’s a bit surreal, actually. When we had cats in residence, we were always having strays turn up and try to move in. Now that we are de-catted against our will, we can’t attract a new one to save our lives.

FSM knows we’ve tried. The Archvillainess has continued her usual practice of feeding a variety of furry freeloaders with high-quality, home-made gooshy foods. There’s always at least a half-dozen cats lining up for mealtimes at Chez Archvillain, tapping their feet, drumming their little paws impatiently, and frequently checking their Hello Kitty watches and wondering why the wait staff is so incompetent. One would think that some of these cats might be willing to move in and become the new Rulers of the Archvillain domicile, but one would be wrong. Not one of the smug bastards will even let us get within three feet of them without running away.

The Archvillainess and I have looked into adopting a cat or two from the local shelters, but they all charge a hundred dollars plus for the privilege- per pet. Paying for a pet has always seemed unnatural to me, especially when there are so many abandoned, stray, and feral cats roaming around. When we were stationed overseas, cats were coming out of the woodwork all around us. It took us weeks to find new homes for them all before we transferred back to the World. We checked with our local vet, and thought we might have a winner.

It seems some ass-hat had skipped out on the last month’s rent and left the family cats behind. They were discovered by the homeowner three weeks later. The homeowner wants to sell the house, but can’t because there are still four cats roaming around the place. The vet’s office said that the homeowner wanted to find homes for all four cats, but would have them all put to sleep if it came down to it. Rather than have these cats destroyed through no fault of their own, we decided we might take a couple- maybe even all four.

So I called the woman who was listed as the point of contact for these abandoned cats and told her we’d be interested in taking a couple of the cats, if they were still available. I gave her the phone number to Chateau d’Archvillain, then called the Archvillainess and let her know the lady may be calling about the cats. Sounds like a fairy-tale ending, doesn’t it?

It turns out the fairy-tale was more like a bad southern gothic novel. The lady I’d spoken to turns out to be the homeowner in question- the one who threatened to have the cats killed if she couldn’t find homes for them. Ironically, she says she wants to visit our house to make sure we’d be fit caretakers for the cats. She’s keeping these animals in cages in their old house after they were abandoned, she’s threatening to kill them if she can’t find homes for them, and yet she has the nerve to imply that we might not be an acceptable household for the cats.

I said I’ve had cats since before I could walk. Over the past four decades, I’ve been owned by almost thirty cats at one time or another. Every last one of those cats was well-fed, loved, cared-for, and given whatever medical care they needed whether or not we could really afford it- and I have the vet bills to prove it. We bought our house with cats in mind- we’re on a quiet street that runs only four blocks and doesn’t intersect any major thoroughfares. The nearest street with lines on the road is eight blocks away. As soon as we closed on the house, we had a fence put in to give our cats a safe haven and room to play and hunt. We kept a back window open year-round so the cats could come and go as they wished, and cheerfully paid the higher electric and gas bills as a result. We are cat people. To have this woman imply that we are possibly unfit to be minions to Feline Overlords is an incredible insult.

So we’re going to get a new Ruler or two somewhere else. There are a couple of kittens at the vet’s office who need homes. Maybe we’ll take those. Maybe we’ll wait until the shelter has a free adoption special. What we won’t do is allow some alleged human to get away with blackmail. Publish and be damned, you disgusting harpy! I don’t negotiate with terrorists, and threatening to kill four innocent animals because their presence is inconvenient unless you are allowed to pry into my life and home qualifies as terrorism in my book. It may not rate up there with the big leaguers in Al Qaeda or FARC, but it’s still terrorism to me. I like most animals more than I like most humans, and this woman rates somewhere lower than politicians on my scale of lower life-forms.

Current status: Pissed off

Current music: Young Blood by Naked and Famous