Thursday, February 09, 2006

But if I see him again, he DEFINITELY owes me $13...

The Bushies broke down - they've agreed to brief all the Intelliigence Committees and anyone else with a serious gripe about their so-called "terrorist surveillance program". Operational stuff only, which as far as I've been able to determine deals with the scope and analysis of data - none of the "who?" and "why?" that the public will increasingly demand to know. A HUGE cave on their part, nonetheless. They know that their legal justifications have taken some major hits and a bunch of GOPers looking at tough races this Fall needed to make a point of opposing the program being kept secret. Many of them such as Pat Roberts, Peter Hoekstra, and all the GOP leadership will try to wash it down with the empty defense that it's all perfectly legit. I think the tough questions are just starting to come forward.

Best NSA-related piece today - a story in the Christian Science Monitor laying out a bunch of the specifics on the "dataveillance" programs the Department of Homeland Security has at their disposal. Great reporting and a ton of insider-sounding dope on this new version of "Total Information Awareness". The Bushies even came up with spooky acronyms for this updated crime like ADVISE (think " USA PATRIOT Act" - or "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"). Slowly but surely the drip, drip, drip of pertinent info continues to trickle out of our nation's newsy pipeline.

In local newz, my neighborhood lost a friendly homeless man yesterday. He's not dead. Just traveling, as far as I know. Don't know his name, but he started calling me "Mr. Viking" after seeing me in a Minnesota Gophers t-shirt over a year ago. Eventually he started calling me "Dad" and he was always friendly and gracious with Maya, masking his rotten teeth and obvious willingness to drink rubbing alcohol or whatever was cheapest these days out on the Street. Just over a month ago after those 12 miners were killed at the Sago Mine in West Virginia, our shaggy friend told me that he lost family in that tragedy. I'd noticed his accent before, but I was finally able to place it...or so I thought. If he was giving me a line of crap, it was an original and current one. So I gave him some cash - more than I ever give a homeless person, no matter the circumstances. My expectation is that he partied it away that particular Friday night. Whenever we saw him thereafter, he really turned on the charm. One time he veered from our bright and suprisingly upbeat rapport and confided in me that he needed to get to the VA Hospital for his liver. I gave him more cash, thinking that I'd been led down the wrong road by this skinny, hairy drunk and that we'd now have a less amicable exchange. But then I saw him yesterday with three pieces of luggage, surprisingly clean and well-packed in a camper's sense of balance. He greeted me with a "Hey, Dad" and then a "Hello Miss Princess" to Maya in the backpack. When I asked what he was up to, he described needing to hop a bus back to West Virginia. So if he lied the first time West Virginnie came up, he's either really consistent, only partly full of crap or completely legit. I prefer to be an optimist in such human endeavors. I wished him luck and gave him a couple bucks. He hadn't asked, but I knew he needed it wherever he was headed with his life in tow. He said, "listen to your Daddy, Miss Princess" and backed away waving earnestly. I tried to follow up with a "safe travels" or a "stay safe" - came out more like "stay travels". Didn't matter, he'd already turned back toward his march to the Greyhound station downtown. Bet he made it back yonder. Or makes it - San Francisco to West Virginia on a Greyhound probably takes a week and a half.

Hope your own travels today have convenient bathrooms available. Rock on.

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