Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, y'all! How's this whole 21st Century thing working out for you? You okay? No worries about money? Social Security? You getting all of your health care and your medicine right on time? You got a pension or something? Still working, like I am? Got that Supplemental Medicare? You can afford to live comfortably? You giving up all of your info on social media while they make billions and never share any of it with you? The provider? You're cool with the government, your government, listening to every phone call and reading every e-mail? You okay with that? You get your shakedown up at the airport and you're okay with that? Like you were some terrorist or something? Take off them shoes! You drive from Arizona to New Mexico and get one or two shakedowns along the highway, and you're cool? “Are you an American citizen?”

You're okay with all of that? When I hear that “American” question on the highway I bite my tongue until it bleeds. “Yes, officer,” I say as gently as I can. What I want to say is, “listen to my fucking accent and you tell me, you fucking idiot!” And get that dog away from my car. I'm on my way to visit my elderly father, unless, that is, such a thing has become illegal.

You know that American citizens around the world who are identified as terrorists by college aged hipsters with dubious credentials are getting zotzed by Predator drones firing Hellfire missiles and you're okay with that? What happened, you got tired of Due Process or something? And what about collateral damage? “It's cool, take out the whole wedding party.” You know that toddlers are being yanked from their mothers' arms IN AMERICA and being sent to “Tender Age Detention Centers” and you just go ahead on with your happy life? You can do that? Some of you are grandparents, as I am. And yet, very few of us seem to have any compassion for these “tender aged” prisoners. Have you seen the videos of those four-year-olds appearing in Immigration Court alone, and being asked questions by the judge? Not a lawyer in sight, except the lawyer representing the American government. What has happened to this country?

And by now, you're okay with a State Department made up of empty hallways and vacant offices? Who needs ambassadors to shit-hole countries anyway! And they're all shit-hole countries! We're America! We don't need the rest of the world! We don't fucking negotiate or cooperate! When we want your opinion, we'll beat it out of you!

Would you be comfortable relaxing your grip on that delusion for a moment and considering that this shit is not normal? Maybe you're so young that you grew up in this vicious simulacrum of America and think that it's all normal. Well, it's not.

Even George W. Bush, who is generally and correctly considered to have been a total asshole as president, kept the Federal Agencies fully manned an allowed them to do their jobs with their customary dignity.

There was a time, in my lifetime, when just the thought of requiring the constant showing of ID was anathema; the thought, just the thought, of being searched on a regular basis without probable cause was considered to be Soviet or fascist bullshit. Sure, this freedom allowed some people to get away with things, relatively inconsequential things. Like smuggling weed or something. Who cares? Have you ever considered “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” as a standard of proof for criminal cases? No, I daresay, you have not. That standard is designed specifically to let some guys off in spite of the fact that the jury was pretty sure that they actually did it. Don't take my word for it, I'm just a lawyer licensed to practice law in the state of California and in the Federal Courts of two districts. Look it up. You can do that, you know. When things get that important, give the accused the benefit of the doubt.

But hey, what can we do about any of this? You? Me? We're just riding this runaway train hoping for the best. Or, as I often pray, “please God, just don't let the worst happen!”

So Happy New Year! Now please consider this situation and decide whether you're totally cool with it all, or if you might want to lift one pinky finger off of the table top to do some good in the world while you still have some breath in you.

I won't hold it against you if you don't want to help. Most people don't, so you're in good company. Happy New Year!

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