I called the Georgia Department of Revenue to ask a tax question. With the end of the year coming, and who knows what happening on Jan. 1, I needed some clarification on a matter. After the requisite 15-minute wait listening repeatedly to the same 32 bars of musical interlude, one of the bastions of bureaucracy told me she couldn’t help, but that there was a website she was certain could answer my main question and any others that may arise.
I wrote down the Web address, read it back for accuracy, received an approval and thanked the woman. The next day, I typed the letters, dots, and dashes into my computer’s search bar. I double-checked to make sure I had it right. And I did. That’s when my computer told me it is smarter than I.
Once I hit the “Enter” button, a very large box appeared in the center of my screen. My attempt to access this government site was thwarted. There in big bold letters were the words, “THIS CONNECTION IS UNTRUSTED.” No kidding. You see, secretly, I had suspected the government couldn’t be trusted all along, but now here was the proof staring me in the face.
Now, sure, the computer could have been telling me that there was a technological issue, and that what it really meant was the software just didn’t recognize the tax division’s code of zeros and ones. But I like my explanation better. The words “government” and “trust” are oxymoronic at best these days.
Alas, recent events regarding Benghazi, Libya, are not helping matters. As you’ll no doubt recall, the first governmental reports of the Sept. 11 uprising that occurred on the grounds of the U.S. Consulate indicated that a spontaneous negative demonstration had broken out, sparked by an obscure YouTube video that apparently defamed the prophet Mohammad. Never mind the fact that news film from the attack site showed some of the alleged flash mob attendees had taken the time to pick up their high-powered grenade launchers and had made Molotov cocktail-like devices before attending.
Five days after the fact, spontaneity was still the official White House position on the matter as voiced on Sunday talk shows by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. It seems she was repeating talking points garnered from CIA Reports that Administration officials had reviewed and given her.
As events have unfolded, it now seems that between sending emails to “biographers,” CIA officials had written reports that included words calling the uprisings at the consulate and annex terrorist attacks. Somehow, those key words didn’t make it into Ms. Rice’s script.
Hmmm. Does anybody remember a certain 18 and a half minute gap in a recording of White House tapes about 40 years or so ago? Not that one has anything to do with the other, mind you.
Unfortunately, trying to frame situations to suit agendas isn’t exactly new in Washington, D.C. Some historical theorists believe Franklin Roosevelt knew about Japan’s Pearl Harbor plans well in advance. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson urged Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, justifying “military action” after a supposed attack on a U.S. destroyer off the coast of a then unfamiliar place, Vietnam.
Even George McGovern voted “Aye.”
Richard Nixon called a break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices a “third-rate burglary.” Ronald Reagan bypassed a few established practices and greased the wheels of military arms transfers between nations. Bill Clinton did not have relations with that woman. George W. Bush produced reports that said weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq. And the list goes on and on.
Do you think maybe even Thomas Jefferson initially proposed the concept of the Louisiana Purchase by touting the fact the U.S. would pick up the port of New Orleans in the deal, but failed to mention North Dakota was part of the package too?
No regular news watcher is shocked these days when reports of what actually happened vis-à-vis initial reports in a given governmental situation finally surface. We all kind of shrug our shoulders and say with dripping sarcasm, “What a surprise.” Trust is a rare commodity.
Kind of makes you wonder what’s really in the Affordable Health Care Act for 2013, doesn’t it? As Nancy Pelosi famously said just before the vote on the bill, “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” Do you suppose anyone knows yet?
Just asking. Even my computer isn’t that smart.
Bill Lewis is a freelance writer in Marietta.