It all started recently when USA Today reported that the government, in its ongoing efforts to nab Osama bin Laden right before some election, had been collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans. When I first read about this, I felt somewhat uneasy. It seemed intrusive and illegal. But then Big Jon set me straight. He said we're in a war, and that I, therefore, have no right to feel anything that the Bush administration doesn't want me to feel. Or something like that.
I've been married a long time, and one of the first things I learned in a marriage is that you shouldn't try to tell your spouse how she should feel. People feel the way they feel; they can't control that stuff. If you have an intelligent, educated and confident spouse, you can try to convince her that she might want to try to think a certain way about a specific topic.
(Who am I kidding? That doesn't work, either.)
But now Kyl has set me straight. With an informed self-assuredness (that some might mistake for a sneering condescension) that can only come from someone who is on the side of God, he told us that this is war, baby. We're the gub-mint, and your phone records (like your ass) belong to us. I felt so reassured, but only after getting official permission to feel that way.
He said it's not illegal, and even if it is, it's for our own good, so we should be grateful.
I remember not that long ago, I laughed when I saw that Time magazine named Kyl one of the 10 best senators in the United States. My first reaction was, "Wow, those other 90 must really suck!" But now I get it. Kyl knows what's best for us.
The article pointed out that three major phone companies--BellSouth, AT&T and Verizon--had given the National Security Agency the phone records of lots and lots of Americans. A few hours after the paper hit the newsstands, President Bush went on TV to point out that the NSA doesn't actually listen to everybody's phone calls; they're just compiling a list of every call you make in the hope that it will somehow help the military catch Osama bin Laden before old age catches up to him in the coming decades.
Of course, the NSA has always had the ability to listen in on cell-phone conversations. Cell-phone transmissions are simply radio waves, so I could listen in if I wanted to. However, unless it involves Jack Bauer, nothing ever said on a cell phone is worth listening to, so I won't bother. But apparently, the government will.
The article pointed out that my phone company, Qwest, correctly told the government to piss up a rope. I haven't always been the biggest fan of Qwest, mostly because, after suffering through an endless stream of D'Meetraes and Ontwons of The Maury Show, I have this obsession with spelling reform. Nevertheless, good for Qwest in this instance.
Still, I consider myself a good American, so I'll do my part for the (ahem) war effort. I'm voluntarily letting them know that I made four long-distance calls last month to three different people who, come to think of it, are mighty suspicious.
I called the girls' basketball coach at Duncan High School. He runs the huge family dairy that used to straddle the Arizona-New Mexico state line but is now strictly in Arizona. I don't know if milk is a matter of national security, but, during road games, his team does wear red!
Also, I did hear him say "Shucks!" once. I thought it was just a Latter-day Saints expletive, but maybe it's a code through which those who would undermine America communicate. Maybe it's an acronym for Saddam Hussein's Under Clark Kent's Suit.
I twice called my mom just to talk for a while. I've tried to get her to move here, but she doesn't like thunderstorms, so she chooses to stay in that leftist cesspool that is Southern California. She's always seemed pretty normal, but maybe she's a sleeper. The possibility exists that, as an infant back in the 1920s, she smuggled something in with her from Italy through Ellis Island.
And I called one of my former basketball players who is now at Arizona State University and is therefore, by definition, not known for making wise decisions. She's a Native American, and her tribe's reservation is partly in Mexico. This makes her suspect, unless you're part of a business that wants to exploit really cheap labor, in which case, that's good.
She wanted me to read a paper she had written on how American Indians didn't gain citizenship until 1924, nearly 60 years after it was given to freed slaves, and, in Arizona, Indians weren't allowed to vote until 1948.
I told her not to sweat it, that the Great White Father probably knew what he was doing.
Gee, it's too bad Jon and his boys weren't listening in at that time. Or were they?