I’ll be watching the State of the Union address next week, but I’m bereaving hope more than I believe in it.
A couple of years ago, I asked When Did Americans Become Such Chickenshit Crybabies?, so it was kind of a relief when Patrick Smith, the “Ask the Pilot” guy, went public with a more serious and calmly reasoned treatment of the idea. Because if you look at the entire history of airline terrorism, things haven’t changed much over the years, only our reactions have. Which is at the core of just one of many reasons I take issue with the treatment of privacy rights since the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. All along, I’ve been of the opinion – which I consider to be informed rather than paranoid – that various parties both inside and outside of government have capitalized on public fear, whether in the interest of invasive data collection or manipulating national sentiment. With President Obama’s State of the Union address coming up next week, I’m reminded of how profoundly disappointed I am with myself for falling for his campaign rhetoric and tone in 2008. One of the only reasons I voted for the man was that I foolishly believed he was sincere about troop drawdowns, lowering America’s hostile presence abroad, doing away with some of the Bush administration’s executive secrecy, and easing up on the incessant erosion of citizen’s privacy and freedom to move about. I was disappointed when Obama supported the FISA bill before he was even elected, but blew it off to a campaign-time necessity, and believed him when he said his administration would pursue a sincere review of wiretapping policies. Well, not only have none of these things come to pass in two years, he has completely contradicted himself repeatedly on almost all of them. Last year was the deadliest year so far in the Afghan conflict, with troop increases of 3,000, and a 134% increase in drone attacks and 54% increase in related deaths. The Obama White House has endorsed Bush era secrecy on torture and rendition, been worse about wiretapping issues than Bush, and made virtually no changes regarding the inept, out of control, and revenge-driven TSA, which many travelers have described as providing an experience they haven’t encountered since the Berlin Wall days. I could go on about how the Obama health care plan was a back door corporate sellout, but I won’t. The Republicans will be spending enough time deriding the plan as a dog and pony show in the coming months. No need to throw more sand in the gears of government; American politicians seem to have things pretty well ground to a halt on their own. I honestly hope to see something inspiring from next week’s SOTU address, but only because I’m idiotically optimistic about life in general. Not because I have any rational reason to do so.