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May 17, 2002: Random Acts: Should

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Random Acts of Journaling - May

"It's the things I might have said that fester." - Clemence Dane

I want you to know that I am having a very difficult time with this. My brain is wrestling with itself inside my head and every time I realize what I am about to share with you, every fiber of my being begins to cringe. After over a year or derision and scorn; after continually rolling my eyes at every new report of how his policies have yet again done some sort of damage that throws our country a few years more behind the times; after all of this I am faced with the inescapable fact that stares me in the face this week.

This week, I actually find myself siding with the Shrub.

There, I said it. And there is a thunderstorm gradually building overhead even as we speak (I'm not kidding, it's raining and everything). You tell me there's no coincidence, I dare you.

But the point is, this week I have to be on his side, no matter how painful it may be to admit it. I have to side with him because I do not think that anyone - aside from Osama bin Laden and his little band of deranged loonies - could have predicted what happened last September. All the facts could have been handed in, neatly typed up, bulleted, and color-coded, and no one would have seen them for what they were, or else accepted that they were true.

The problem is, hindsight is always 20/20, and right now, there's an awful lot of political jockeying, cleverly (ha!) disguised as hindsight going on in Washington. There was this memo from the FBI, see, and something else from the CIA, and oh yeah, that really vague mention about how there might be some people who might be considering hijacking planes sometime, maybe, we think, you know, just like every other time there might be people considering hijacking planes. It's all there, staring us in the face. It's all so easy to see now. So why didn't the Shrub warn us? Why? Why?

After September 11th, the American public has been bombarded with warnings. For example, here in California we were all to be on the alert because someone was going to go blowing up bridges. The airlines are all foaming at the mouth trying to shut the barn door now that the horse has escaped, confiscating hair combs and nail files, x-raying shoes, kicking people of Arabic descent off of planes, all in the name of national security. The rest of us are told to stay on alert. What we're supposed to be alert for we're not exactly sure, but by golly, that isn't as important as the warning itself.

The problem with all these extra precautions and all these extra warnings is that the boy's voice is starting to get a little hoarse from crying "Wolf", and the rest of the village is getting a bit jaded hearing him. Sure, there was a wolf a while back, but there hasn't been a legitimate sighting in a long time, no matter how many times the neighbor's puppy might walk past the window and cast a big shaggy canine shadow against the wall. The American public is already starting to slip back into our own complacency. We see another Yellow Alert and nod our heads. Yep, there's another one. That's nice.

I?m sure that there are people in the FBI, the CIA, and the Shrub's cabinet that are doing a lot of desperate soul searching, and have been doing so ever since that first plane slammed into a building. But as much as we all wish we could, no one has yet discovered a way to turn back time. Looking back, maybe all the signs were there. Looking back, maybe if the right person had looked at all the right puzzle pieces at just the right time; if the moon and the planets and the stars had all been in the right alignments; maybe then the Shrub would have been able to issue the right warning to the right people and maybe...

It's a lovely dream, all those maybes. It's awfully easy for all those politicians up for reelection to point their fingers and demand to know where their warning was. But, humor me for a moment here. Think back to those golden days, pre-September, when we never dreamed we could be attacked. Remember those lazy times when we lived our lives complacent and happy, free from the worries that people in other countries deal with on a regular basis. The airlines receive vague warnings of hijackings on a regular basis. I think it's fairly obvious just how much they took them seriously, but can you blame them? It's awfully tiresome to be forever on alert when that old wolf hasn't crept down from his mountain cave in too many years and you're pretty sure that he's lost most of his teeth anyway.

It's easy to lay the blame on the things that weren't said; to stew around and let them fester. But look back for a moment, with your pre-September eyes, before we all were forever jaded. We thought we were untouchable here. We were all convinced that dastardly plots like this just don't happen in American. So think for a moment, of the world the way it was before. Would anyone have really believed?

Would anyone have really listened?

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