Ask Auntie Establishment

Dear Readers: Auntie gets a large number of conspiracy theory questions each week. Normally, she shrugs them off, not feeling qualified to confirm or deny the various charges. In honor of National Conspiracy Week, she's answering a few.

Dear Auntie Establishment,

I tried to e-mail an article from AlterNet to an ultra conservative cousin. This is the reply I got.

Your message...did not reach the following recipient(s). There was a SMTP communication problem with the recipient's email server. Please contact your system administrator. The URL contained in your email to AOL members has generated a high volume of complaints.

What do you think?

Concerned About Censorship

My Dear Concerned Communicator:
auntieWhile the Patriot Act provisions regarding Internet surveillance are quite disturbing, Auntie doesn't think anything like censorship is going on in this particular case. She does recommend your cousin (and you if you have it) drop AOL immediately and get a different mail carrier that isn't quite as well known for messing up your computer, overzealously censoring your mail, and filling your in box with junk you don't need. Nothing you send on the Internet is likely safe from government snooping, but there are enough viruses going around that it's worth just shrugging your shoulders about this one and talking to your cousin personally if you're hoping to change his or her mind.

Dear Auntie E,

Today a friend of mine was telling me that the U.S. Government has secret underground bases all over the country fully equipped for survival underground. I find this difficult to believe. I can picture maybe one such facility, but multiple scattered around the country. Seems unlikely but you know anything can happen ... there a lot of things I used to think unlikely but now who knows what's next. Anyway, I wonder if I am the one deluding myself or she? Our government is so secretive and just keeps on making those weapons.

Suspicious in Seattle

Dear Suspicious One:
Auntie is not privy to any information about the existence, or number, of secret basis, but she does wonder where Vice President Cheney seems to disappear to every now and again. She would hazard that the President and his men (and women) do have their tuches covered and that is one reason, perhaps, that they seem less concerned about what happens to the rest of us. Auntie recommends that you stick with finding a community of like-minded folk to watch each others' backs -- rest assured, the government does not have yours.

Dear Auntie Establishment,

Are there any kinds of safeguards in place to prevent the government from simply manufacturing these "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Iraq and then "discovering" them around election time? Is there anything standing in the way of them pulling this off?

Not Optimistic in Oregon

My Dear Pessimistic Pal:
As the inspections team found out, WMDs are actually quite difficult to make and especially difficult to make undetected. What you describe seems unlikely and Auntie suggests you find one of the equally disturbing but more plausible scenarios to keep you up at night and motivate your activism, for example: What if it became sincreasingly clear that there never were any WMDs, the war continues to be disastrous for both the Iraqi and U.S. people and U.S. citizens don't know enough or care enough to hold their government accountable?

Dear Auntie:

How do we put to rest the rumor that Hillary is planning to run for President in 2008; therefore, she and Bill (and their friends) are secretly hoping that Bush gets reelected to clear the path for her later? Or is there some truth to it?

Passing on Rumors in Pacifica

Dear Ruminating on Rumors:
Have you tried Auntie's fool-proof method for putting rumors to rest? Toss your hair, give a light shrug of your shoulders and a faint smile, and ask the speaker what they think about the California health care ballot initiative or some other important local issue.

Politically confused? Write to your Auntie for help: Letters may be edited for clarity and space. Missed last week's Auntie? Find her columns in the archives.

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