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Thanksgiving 2012

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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As my kitchen fills with more and more family members and "cooks for a day" on this Thanksgiving, I have slunk away to my little home office because I have been promising to write something about Thanksgiving -- and my procrastination time has run out.

Thinking about the several hundred articles I've written so far in 2012, they are 95 per cent critical -- highly critical, mostly of things our government has done (in my view) badly or not at all.

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I have railed against Guantanamo, military commissions and indefinite detention. I have condemned our President for the burgeoning surveillance state we have become. Likewise, his drone "kill list." I have charged that our policies and facilities for detaining undocumented workers for deportation are needlessly cruel and ineffective. And I keep thinking of how much money we could have saved or spent elsewhere if we had abolished the clueless Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). I have suggested that it's long past time for Janet Napolitano to leave. I have been embarrassed by Mr. Mitt Romney's flip-flops, his disgraceful disregard for facts, and his patrician conviction that 47 per cent of our country is worthless.

I have also been saddened by some of the major initiatives President Obama has promised to execute during his second four years. We wish him luck with such issues as climate change and comprehensive immigration reform. But he cannot govern the country without laws, and he is unlikely to get the laws he needs from Paleolithic Republicans who can focus only on the next snarky sound bite.

This list could run to many pages and would still be disgracefully incomplete. You'd be totally justified not wanting to read any more of these un-happy columns. But you get the idea.

This, after all, started out as "The Happy Column." And it started with a pretty clear vision in my head of what we could give genuine thanks for on this Thanksgiving Day 2012.

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At the top of that list is the fact that I'm writing this blogpost -- and there hasn't yet been a knock on the door from the secret police. They may well be hanging on every word I type, but while we still have a Constitution, I'm not getting arrested.

In something like 50 countries around the world, I would now be in custody. I'd be in prison and likely being tortured.

In those countries -- and I'm not only talking about failed states like Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, et cetera, but substantial nations, like Israel and Iran, and other mature countries that pass judgments on other nations from the safety of the UN Security Council.

I'd be in the same degree of hot water if I participated in a mass protest, regardless of the subject. Or if I insulted the head of state. Or if I said anything even a tad derogatory about the military.

The key to this our relatively safe and happy Thanksgiving is the Rule of Law. And that is the cardinal difference between the United States and most of the rest of the world. We have it. Others don't.

Some members of the Judiciary Branch of our Government have attempted to trash that sacred rule -- sometimes with scarifying success. But that situation may be reversible.

It's good that Obama has four more years. But when we get to Thanksgiving Day 2016, our government's deficits will still be there -- hopefully, different deficits than this year's -- but the list of things we did right will be longer.

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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