Sept. 4 2002 12:00 AM

I was willing to show it all to Big Government

It was sometime around the Fourth of July that I first heard about the Bush/Ashcroft initiative known as TIPS, the Terrorism Information & Prevention System. The idea-had you been off wandering in the desert seeking the Messiah for the last two months and missed this one-was to incorporate the roving eyes of American postal workers, UPS guys, cable people, delivery drivers, speed freaks, peeping toms and anyone else suffering from an overbearing Hooverian complex for spying on their fellow citizens who wanted to rise to the occasion and join in the war against terrorism.

The civil libertarians and editoral cartoonists, not to mention some Republications, quickly denounced the plan as a frontal attack on our basic, democratic values-the same basic values we are fighting this war to preserve, they were all quick to point out.

I don't know about you, but I was ready to sign up on the dotted line. If we want to live in a free and open society, then isn't it obvious that our freedom depends on our being open. Won't our openness set us free? What do I have to hide from the prying eyes of Big Government? Let them go over my phone records and monitor my conversations, the only calls I ever get are from telemarketers anyway, and so far, not one of them has ever offered me a missile launcher.

Same for the mail. It's never anything personal, just bills and credit card hype or someone begging for money. If they wanted to read it-fine, just sort it and put the obvious crap in the recycling bag under the kitchen sink. I'll leave my front door open, and once I learn how to permanently delete the pornography from my hard drive, I'll even leave the damn machine on for them with a list of passwords taped to the screen.

I won't roll up my pairs of socks anymore so anyone can squeeze them all at once if searching for nitroglycerine, then scoot right off into my coat pockets to look for detonators. The sooner they finish with me, the sooner they can move on to the next guy. If that still doesn't satisfy them, I'll walk the extra mile, as George the Father was so fond of saying. Not only am I willing to break down and confess to Rambo-like fantasies, all pitting me against authority, but I'll also atone for my sins by taking my therapy in a cage down in Cuba. It's the least I can do for my country.

But then the days of summer started shortening, and George the Son changed his mind. Well maybe he didn't actually change his mind; maybe he just toned it down some, switching the eyes from the postal/UPS crowd to border guards and pigeons. Come to think of it, he does that a lot, doesn't he? Campaign promises on arsenic, standing tall for corporate responsibility, then coming out here and campaigning for Bill Simon-I mean the man's pulled out of so many treaty agreements that he's raised the concept of “rhythm” to a whole new level, right? It gets very confusing, doesn't it?

Look, George, people change their minds from time to time, but the summer's almost over now, and with it, all the fun. Kids are going back to school, there's an anniversary just down the road that no one quite knows how to handle, and once we get past that, people will start thinking about Christmas. Don't forget there's also an election coming soon. Now that you're back in Washington after a month of playing cowboy, it's time to get serious. Draw in the wagons, stick with the Hawks, and to hell with the rest of them. The next time you want to do something, think Nike: “Just do it!”

Remember, there are lots of us who hate trees and think the earth would best be served if shaved as clean as a cue ball. Who likes birds anyway? And what about Tibet? My own unnamable intelligence sources inform me that the people there are not exactly thrilled with the Chinese occupation, but personally, I think it's the voice of al Qaeda doing all the talking. In fact, I just read on the Web that Osama is actually hiding out in Dharamsala with the Dali Lama. Maybe we can take out India, too; I'll bet your good friend Musharraf would get a kick out of that one.

And clean water-who needs it? Think about it; we're right in the midst of a commercial boom selling something that used to be free. That's money we're talking about, George, and money is campaign contributions, though we may not want to push it too fast or we might put undo pressure on Coke and Pepsi, which could throw the whole damn planet out of whack. Maybe Rumsy can handle that one. Everybody likes him.

You stay strong for me, George, and I swear to God, not only will I keep my eyes and my house open, but I'll chat you up to heaven out here in sunny, Southern California until the rains come. If you think that that's still not enough for you to take the state in next presidential election, just get your Texas buddies to run that energy scam three or four more times and you'll have them down on their knees screaming uncle-if not King. ©


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