Usually, I am the soul of kindness when dealing with the people who answer the phone for vast impersonal bureaucracies, but tonight, after a long a dropped call & a couple of long periods on hold while being forced to listen to chirpy music & self-serving blather about how convenient Time Warner cable service is, I swore at the poor bastard who answered the phone. Background: our digital cable box failed a couple of weeks ago. It was the third box in a couple of years. Rather than call & have a guy come out to the house "between eight & noon or between noon & five" -- I have a job -- I just unplugged it & took it to the Time Warner office in town. The new one they gave me would not record programs. So today I took that one back & got another box -- "a new model," I was assured. When I plugged it in all it did was produce a message telling me I had to call the cable company to get the unit "activated." That's when the call happened & when I swore at the drone. If I were him, I would have hung up on me. Still, swearing at the service representative of a rapacious & incompetent corporation is, I'm pretty sure, covered under the First Amendment. Easier than thinking about the fucking war, in any event. And the crescendo of lies I've been listening to from the rapacious & incompetent American government these last two days. Really, listening to the coverage of Gen. David Petraeus' testimony & the expert commentary on the radio, I have been beset with the sense that I am listening to people in a madhouse. Alternate befuddlement & rage. At least Ted KoppelÂ cut to the heart of the matter with this commentary, but after hours of Cokie Roberts & Neal Conan & the rest of the supposedly liberal gang's endless, culpable ignorance & smug self-satisfaction, it just wasn't enough. It didn't balance the scales. So I dropped the f-bomb on the guy who answered the phone for Time Warner. Lately, I have been having fantasies about being able to confront George Bush or Dick Cheney or any of the rest of them in a situation where they would have to listen to me. Obviously, that's not going to happen. I'd never get in the door & if I did get in the door & raised my voice in protest -- the way someone did this morning during Petraeus' testimony, I'd be "physically removed" to use the bland but utterly accurate phrase of Mr. Conen's voice-over this morning just before they brought the volume back up on the general's bland, professional voice assuring me that this is the new model, different from the old model that didn't work. Seamless.