On my way back from Canada yesterday, the border guards had us open the back of our SUV to have a look inside. "Odd," I thought, "they don't usually do that." It wasn't until much later, when we'd lost the Canadian radio station we were listening to, did my wife and I discover that we'd come back to the US during an "Orange" threat level. But there was no more than that, just a quick look in the back window, the usual innocuous questions, and we were waved through. There didn't seem to be more than the usual number of cars pulled over for further inspection. But there it was; Orange Alert.
When I got home, we turned on the news to see if there had been something in particular that had caused the change - but all we saw was the mayor of New York City doing his, apparently standard, civic duty: Christmas shopping. Tom Ridge and Rummy have their vacations interrupted, they talk about al Qaeda pilots potentially flying for foreign airlines, and attacks as big as 9/11 - but their only advice to us is to shop, to go about our business. Apparently they have it all under control.
Of course, they still don't know where Osam bin Laden is. They won't say exactly what kinds of threats they are taking care of for us. But they do know that we should be shopping. We're no longer concerned citizens, no longer voters in a democracy; no, we are now strictly consumers. The engine of our economy. To be protected - to a certain point. To work as hard as we can - as long as we're needed.
But under no circumstances are we to be told any real information.
If you haven't listened to the Bare Naked Ladies latest CD (this really isn't off topic) you should. There's a great song on it called "Shopping." It was written with their typically wry humor specifically about Shrubby's exhortation since 9/11 that "everything will be alright, when we go shopping."
So, I'm back. Back to earthquakes in California. Back to Libya being our friend (didn't we just celebrate 10 years since Lockerbie?). Back to an Orange alert.
Back to shopping.