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When others are listening…


Some readers who sport a grey hair or two and display a few wrinkles will remember having watched The Honeymooners sitcom in the 1950s. It was one of the most popular television shows at the time, starring Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramer, Audrey Meadows as his wife, Alice, with Art Carney as Ed Norton, married to Trixie (Joyce Randolph), as his main-man foil.

In one episode, Kramer is going to teach Norton how to golf.  The dialogue went something like this: “Look Norton, the first thing you do is address the ball,” to which Norton responds, “Hello, ball!”

Now, in 2013, we have learned that our electronic communications can be, and apparently are, monitored by the U.S. government.  So, the safest strategy may be to borrow from an Ed Norton “page” of 50-plus years ago and begin every conversation, whether it’s a phone call, a text or an e-mail by saying, “Hello, N.S.A.”

When initiating a communication, one should practice the following: after the initial greeting to and recognition of the National Security Agency, known to be listening, here are a few “I am innocent” messages to keep them away from your door in the middle of the night and a maximum security prison cell somewhere in Colorado:

• “I think the N.S.A. is awesome!”

•  “I just read 1984  and think it offers some really good ideas.”

• “There is no such thing as a bad drone.”

• “I feel good about the fact that I never talk to any foreigners.”

• “I don’t know the first thing about making ricin.”

• “The fourth amendment is way, way overrated.”

• “If you ask me, Guantanamo is full of cry-babies.”

• “I just changed my Facebook status from ‘Single’ to ‘In a relationship with America.’”

• “I believe my neighbor is cheating on his taxes.”

• “I see Barack Obama as greater than Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and F.D.R., combined. “

Then there’s “Hello, FAA”: Before an airliner is brought down by one of the apparent multitude of crazies flying these days, please, Federal Aviation Administration, adopt a rule whereby every passenger -before boarding- will be required to take a relax-and-enjoy-the-ride-sedative by mouth so that another passenger-gone-wild (a nearly weekly happening nowadays) will not occur to scare passengers witlessly incoantinent.

And, “Hello, Republican legislator”: Voting against freedom of choice and American women’s rights, and minority rights in general, immigration reform while voting for more warring in the Middle East, continuing to play politics when the economy remains ailing for most Americans and employment opportunities chronically weak, with no funding for infrastructure save-our-bridges-from-collapse projects, may keep you welcome in your respective caves but will never win the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans and thereby a win for a GOP White House occupant.

And, “Hello, Publisher Anderson III”:  Your public comments on June 20, defending The Oregonian’s strong financial health while reporting that home delivery will be cut and staff reduced, sounded an awful lot like just another politician’s tall tale.  That the move is best described by Anderson as an “improvement;” however, as jobs will be lost among the rank and file journalists and delivery men and women and home bound folks will go without a delivered paper, leaves the observer to shake his head in vigorous astonishment.

And, finally, “Hello, winner”: Governor John Kitzhaber won the duel between himself and Gary Haugen, thereby thwarting the will of the voters in Oregon and driving another stake in the heart of democracy in this state.  What should have happened, if we enjoyed an honorable, forthright gubernatorial incumbent, who would have told the truth about his beliefs before being elected, is that Kitzhaber would have resigned his position rather than permit capital punishment as decided by a lawfully-appointed judge and seated jury about which he is morally opposed.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)