Monday, January 30, 2006

Debra Burlingame on Security

Specifically, the sister of the command pilot of American Airlines Flight 77--the flight that hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 (or 22 Jumada t'Tania 1422 AH)--intorduces a radical concept. The President's opponents speak loudly of "rights" to "privacy" and so forth--even the "privacy" of a phone call with a terrorist on the other end of the line. Well, says Miss Burlingame--actually, Counsellor Burlingame--she has a right, too: the right to be secured in her own person against such acts of sabotage and mass murder that the Patriot Act might have prevented on that fateful day and are preventing right now.

She might not be a lawyer anymore, but she might as well be--my lawyer. Whenever any of those in-a-world-of-their-own Senators babbles about how they are protecting my rights, and presume to ask the President--and by extension, me, who voted for him--what Benjamin Franklin would say, I want to remind them that they wouldn't know Benjamin Franklin if he rubbed his feet on the carpet and gave them a handshake and a shock. If they did, old Doctor Franklin would ask them why they thought the original Foreign Office was called the Committee on Secret Correspondence. And he would tell them that they were the same prize collection of blabbermouths with whom he lost patience when he was Minister to France! And maybe John Adams would explain to them why he violated the instructions of the Second Continental Congress when he saw France and Spain double-dealing behind his back with the British after Washington's victory at Yorktown. He did this for two reasons:

  1. He didn't have time to ask for updated instructions, as Doctor Franklin had only recently discovered (or rediscovered) electricity, and Samuel F. B. Morse would not invent telegraphy for decades--much less would anyone lay a cable across the Atlantic!
  2. He would have had even less time to explain to them why he had to cut the French out of the negotiations and deal with the British directly. (N.B.: the French haven't changed a bit since then. How do they say it in their own language? Plus ça change, plus ça reste. Or in English, the more it changes, the more it stays the same.)
We can all be glad that John Adams acted as he did. And I am glad, even if no one else is, that President George W. Bush has acted as he has. I don't have space to explain all the myriad reasons why those Democrats are wrong. I'll leave that to the President, and to good people like Miss Burlingame. I don't even dare speculate on this page on what would happen to some of those poor excuses for statesmen if they really killed the Patriot Act and the remnants of Al-Qa'ida really started playing with Saddam's old WMD stockpile in Syria. I'll leave that to the FBI--or to former Producers Gary and Dave Alan Johnson, who produced a TV show (now off the air) that explained it much better than I can.

Instead, I'll just ask a personal favor of those fine, upstanding Senators and congressmen. With all due respect to your rank, stop acting like asses, even if an ass is your mascot!

POSTSCRIPT: Here's a detailed treatment of what Benjamin Franklin really said, and how he would really regard all this pontificating.


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