My work winter coat is a navy blue cloth greatcoat that extends down to about knee level. It’s sturdy and warm and reasonably professional looking — and also seems to magically attract every strand of white dog hair in our household.
When you live in a house with two dogs, dealing with dog hair is just part of life. When we’re gone our dogs jump up on chairs, flop down on rugs, and leave their fur behind. You can brush their coats regularly, sweep and vacuum repeatedly, and flap out rugs until you can flap no more, but dog hairs are always going to be there, ready to leap onto any item of dark clothing and make you look like a vagabond who’s been sleeping with a pack of strays in a downtown alley.
In our household, we deal with the dog-fur-on-clothing issue by owning approximately two dozen adhesive rollers designed specifically to remove hair from garments. (Of course, the plastic handles of the rollers have all been chewed to smithereens by our dogs, which is just another fun thing about life with dogs.) Although the rollers are designed to remove hairs and pick up most random items, they don’t do an especially good job on dog hairs. The only real way to remove dog hairs from your coat is to exercise your fine motor skills and individually remove them, hair by stinking hair.
That is because dog hairs are clingier than your two-year-old at his first terrifyingly large family reunion. Dog hairs have a special bonding property that makes them stick — well, doggedly — to any dark item of clothing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the NSA is attempting to build listening devices into strands of dog fur to assist in its surveillance programs. Because the NSA apparently monitors just about everything, and dog hairs can be found just about anywhere, it seems like a match made in heaven.
The latest surprising American surveillance story has to do with the amount of spying the National Security Agency is doing overseas — and who is the target of the spying. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of a number of foreign leaders whose phones were wiretapped by the NSA.
There are reports to the contrary, which assert that President Obama in fact was aware of the wiretapping programs and didn’t stop them. But let’s assume for the moment that the denials of President Obama’s knowledge of the programs are true. Doesn’t that tell us something even more damning about our spy programs? It’s fair to assume that foreign leaders would be upset about America tapping their phones if they ever learned of the practice — to the point where it might imperil our relationships with our allies. Given that risk, wouldn’t it be prudent to get clearance for such programs at the very highest levels? If President Obama wasn’t regularly advised of such programs and making the decisions about whether to continue them, who was?
We’ve got a surveillance community in this country that has an insatiable appetite for more information and that appears to be accountable to no one. Congress and the President need to address this issue and bring our intelligence community back under meaningful civilian control. Otherwise, we are going to be in for more leaks, more embarrassment, more difficult conversations with angry foreign leaders, and more credibility problems for the American government.
I wonder how many other supporters of President Obama are feeling a similar, profound disillusionment. I know many people — including members of my immediate family — voted for the President with great excitement because they expected a lot from him. In fact, they expected a President who would realize dramatic change, turn around the world’s perception of our country, and achieve historic greatness. In my view, at least, that hasn’t happened.
What must be even more galling is that many of the people who voted for President Obama did so largely because they wanted to reverse course from the Bush years. That hasn’t happened, either. More and more, it has developed that President Obama has adhered to the security policies established by the Bush Administration and, in some cases, expanded and amplified them.
When people criticize actions like the NSA’s routine collection of reams of data about ordinary Americans, and the Obama Administration’s defense is that the programs were begun under the Bush Administration, how is that received by Obama voters who hoped for change? Do they suddenly develop a deeper respect for the policies of President George W. Bush, or do they scratch their heads and wonder why they voted for a guy who promised so much and seems to have delivered so little?