Ah, yes: personality politics. They were used to demonize Bill Clinton (Republicans couldn’t go after him on policy, since he was hijacking their policy agendas); they were used to sell absurdities like putting Ronald Reagan in the White House (and, with an assist from Oprah, Schwarzenegger in the California governor’s mansion); they were used to sweep Adolf Hitler into power in Nazi Germany.

Oops! Did I mention Hitler in there? Does that make me an irrational alarmist? For perspective, I give you a true-life anecdote from last night. At about 9 p.m. my engine company got dispatched to a report of a possible rubbish fire behind a high fence enclosing the loading dock of an abandoned warehouse (which was in the process of being demolished, and was therefore unoccupied). As we pulled up to the scene, we could see a steady stream of grayish smoke rising from somewhere behind the fence. As we attempted to open the sliding gate of the fence, the smoke plume began to get darker and bigger, and we could see the telltale orange glow flaring up just as we got the gate forced open.

By the time we got our large attack hose in position, flames were rolling out from the ceiling and roof above the loading dock entry. The elapsed time between our arrival on the scene and this point couldn’t have been much more than five to eight minutes. As we began our initial advance on the fire, the other four or five companies (our officer had prudently called for assistance before waiting to see how bad things were going to get) arrived and went to work around us. It took over two hours to extinguish every trace of the fire and call the scene secured.

The moral of this long story is that tiny, harmless fires sometimes turn into big, deadly, destructive fires. Sometimes they don’t, but it is never wise to ignore them when they’re small. Its much better to sound the alarm and investigate, lest you be running (if you can) for your life. The Germans of the 1920s and ’30s, very few of whom were ever committed Nazis, refused to be sufficiently alarmed at the danger smoldering from within their society. Seven or eight years of costly, deadly war, and roughly four more decades of seeing their country divided and held under foreign authority, was the price the Germans paid. I think they got off easy, but that’s probably just me and the 12 million people the Germans exterminated during their Third Reich.

Anyway, if we see our government pooping on the Constitution, playing fast and loose with our ‘freedoms’ for any reason, and doing so under multiple cloaks of secrecy and falsehood, how long do we wait before we stop making fun of people who are concerned that this could go a lot farther if something isn’t done to stop it?

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