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Tanker 10 folks. Not sure if this was tail 910 or 911. August 2013
Under Colonel Korn's rule, the only people permitted to
ask questions were those who never did.
                    ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

And then there was Yossarian with the question that had no answer:
“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”

According to the United States Government there is nothing more dangerous to the country I love than my own honest thoughts.

My only honest thought this week is that I need to send a few words into the ether to hold off my muse until a real piece of writing shows up in the little window. I might as well try to clear my thoughts about the NSA storyline. Someone has to smash for the truth’s nail on this thing and it obviously won’t be a headline journalist. When America leaves the truth to folks like the (ex) Cowboy it’s our own damn fault and I offer no apology.

I had hoped to write about the VLT which stands for “big-assed aerial tanker” that saved my entire town from burning to ash for only the third or fourth time since statehood.

It roared down through the smoke from somewhere above Michael Jordan’s house until it was basket height above the sage-crusted ridge across the valley. They say it costs taxpayers $26,000.00 an hour. Luckily for the Tea Party rednecks whose houses it saved they only required eleven seconds on each run to dump something like 44 tons of “red snot” fire retardant into the teeth of that mean little fire that brewed up a few days ago.

When you first see that kind of smoke as a young man you rush out and buy a new pulaski, a shovel, a chainsaw and six hoses. But it’s a mountain thing. I am not even the only one in my bed at night who has lived in fire country since before I was one minute old. After you hear that furnace roar and feel the trembling heat of wildfire’s demonry a few times you give the hoses to the hippy garden people down valley, put the chainsaw gas into the old truck, unlock every door on the property and walk around until the first snow falls with your passport in one pocket and a constantly connected cell phone to the kid in the other one. It’s called reality prepping. Getting The Dog out is considered high fortune in these situations.

It would have been fun to rant about, but that flying jeep of a DC-10 went back to Idaho faster than Shane and the NSA story just kept sprouting dryfuel weed. The soaring white beast has already painted a dozen newer wildfires burning between here and the McCarter lady’s town with a slight diversion I am told to save that bastard Hank’s place up near Ketchum. Which is fine I say because anyone who has more Smith-Corona "Super Silent" typewriters than the (Ex) Cowboy is worth keeping in the high country.

Over the DC-10s' fading turbines I can still hear the creaking teak of headline journalism’s sinking galleon. The Rockport fire is contained but it still gets better national coverage than the NSA mess. The Big J. is dead and getting deader. When it comes to NSA reportage the four or five remaining news editors in America all dropped the tiller and allowed themselves to get blown downwind with the storm. Long live Katie Graham and WAPO by the way, but it’s clearly “any port in a storm” from here on out. Not even Al Jazeera will roll the chilled dice of what your father once sarcastically called “free speech” in order to address the real news this summer.  Do not seek the treasure, as a man once said.

It is sad to watch the “I think I can, I think I can” news writing about Mr. Edward Snowden late of the Moscow Airport and the Dell Corporation. There is not a writer in America with the stones to even pretend to want to grasp a strand of tail hair from this runaway bullfight of story.  Fun is fun but this NSA gibberish is far more serious than any of us knows how to handle.

Tell me I am wrong. Tell me that in your most private heart you don’t also understand that we have to face the Jabberwock of domestic spying now. Or we have to face it later.

So let’s at it and we’ll meet again some day. Perhaps in a government run fire and climate refugee camp near the Idaho line, perhaps at a bar in the stateless persons lounge at the Chelyabinsk airport. Because the facts as Murrow might describe them are impossibly simple:

1) The largest military/government authority in human history is monitoring or striving to monitor every individual personal private thought that every person on the planet can possibly share in any manner.

2) Under a banner of godlike oversight a small politically chosen chamber uses the fruits of this tyrannical anthropology to determine who is the (next) most dangerous threat to the political order they serve.

3) They assign murder-robots or ski-masked secret police from a conservative’s holiday banquet of nationalist jackbootery to secretly wipe from the terra any aforementioned individual.

That’s the whole nut as far as I can tell and anyone who tells you different is just selling you garden hoses to try and stop the wildfire.

All of this is happening here, now and in absolute secrecy beyond the likely extent of ethically durable oversight. We are expected to believe that this most political of conceits can be the one nexus in America that is immune to ethic-less extremism in a historically unparalleled climate of illiterate partisanship. Well, then again, we must believe it because it is defined treason to doubt it in public discourse (and they are monitoring).

And by the way can you tell me what devil this is if it is not the very devil that we created the entire United States of America to escape?

This is inevitable destiny, they will say. It is an obligate evolution of freedom by another name. As free people we can only be protected with a cage around us. It is all just some new kind of navy. Just another tall tower to Babylon erected on the outskirts of the old marble city.  

Which will do fine until you take the old Solzhenitsyn (or, God forbid, Socrates) off the high shelf when the kids are asleep. You don’t have to scan many of those sentences before you recall that there is a long list of nation states which rotted down to the boneworks because the people in power were afraid to stop spying, torturing and making laws in secret.

Call for the Jesuits then because the means will always outlast the ends. It is terribly sad to observe but the fruit of the tree of knowledge has always been juiced with blood. And it will water yet another kind of tree, because this it has always done.

And this is all it has ever done.

Ride for the High Country

Dear NSA,

I hereby proclaim that my muse is my council in all things and therefore all communication between that snaggle-toothed ink slurping little demon and my own personal self, regardless of form, format or foci is privileged and confidential and, and …  and oh fuck it.

Originally posted to The (Ex) Cowboy on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 03:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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