October 13, 2001
Bioterrorism Made Simple; Reporting Suspicious Crop Dusters; Frequent Flyers on Drugs; Cheney in Chains; A Four-Sided Pentagon
By Warren Pease
More choice items from the week's news. . .
Anthrax Strikes UFO Central
Five more employees at sleezeball tabloids have tested positive for Anthrax bacteria in Florida, bringing the total there to seven. And there are the weird Tom Brokaw and Microsoft cases as well. In all, perhaps a dozen confirmed cases of anthrax exposure have occurred in a country of more than 285 million. Experts now say these episodes are likely the work of disgruntled white- boy Americans, who bear absolutely no physical resemblance to the Arab Americans targeted for racial profiling, harassment, beatings and the occasional murder.
Meanwhile, several thousand sub-Saharan Africans tested positive for HIV again this week and were again denied any form of useful treatment, primarily because US pharmaceutical companies don't think it's a very good idea to distribute free meds to the Third World, or to allow drugs like AZT to go generic, when they can make their usual killing, as it were, by selling them for obscene profits right here at home. So, in the absence of western medicine, the shaman dances, the patient dies, the hatred simmers.
And as usual, nobody in this country can even begin to imagine why anyone, anywhere would question our beneficent effect on the world at large - chock full of innate wonderfulness and decency and humility and basic Christian charity as we are.
Crop Dusters of Doom
The FBI cautioned yesterday that new acts of terrorism could target Americans "over the next several days," providing the government's sternest and most specific warning since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The stark two-paragraph statement, based on intelligence reports, offered no details as to what or where the targets might be but called on Americans to report any "unusual or suspicious activities."
Meanwhile, asked to explain how Americans should pursue the seemingly contradictory courses or caution and normality, the resident weighed in with his usual Lincolnesque oratorical flourish, saying, "Well . . . you know, if you find a person that you've never seen before getting in a crop duster that doesn't belong to (them), report it. If you see suspicious people lurking around petrochemical plants, report it."
This one really doesn't require comment, since even the White House press corpse reportedly laughed out loud. But really, hanging out around rural airfields waiting to catch some swarthy Semitic type swiping a crop duster? A little much, even for our Ninny-in-Chief. Quick, give him his script back.
Don't Worry, Eat Xanax
President Bush urged Americans to go about their business and maintained that authorities are doing everything they can to protect them.
"The American people should take comfort in the fact that their government is doing everything we possibly can do," Bush said at a prime-time news conference, the first of his presidency.
Which would, in fact, be considerably more comforting if we could all hitch a ride on Air Force One - complete with fighter escort, escape pods, a flying wine cellar and massive supplies of sedatives - whenever we had to "go about our business."
The Incredible Disappearing Uber Creep
Vice President Dick Cheney recently referred to himself as a "mystery man," a wry reference to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 policy of keeping him largely hidden from public view - and away from the White House.
Working out of various remote locations, Cheney has remained totally engaged, helping President Bush pursue the war on terrorism, White House officials say.
Which is about the same thing sources in Afghanistan are saying about Osama the archfiend who masterminded the September 11 attacks - unless he didn't. The administration has decided that they don't got to show us no stinkin' evidence, since he's already been tried and found guilty on TV and, children that we are, we wouldn't be able to understand the complexities anyway.
And you've got to applaud the PR value in keeping Cheney out of the public eye. With Halloween coming up, you wouldn't want him scaring the children.
The Four-Sided Pentagon
Richard Berthold of Albuquerque says he has state legislators asking for his job and strangers threatening his life - all because of a bad joke.
The tenured University of New Mexico professor told a freshman western civilization class just after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 that "anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote." Within days, three state legislators and a UNM regent demanded he be fired.
Trying to save his job, and perhaps his life, Berthold has backed off his earlier statement. So I'll say it for him.
I've been waiting to see the Pentagon take a serious hit since I was a teenager and the Vietnam War was ripping the country apart. The fraudulent Tonkin Gulf Resolution had created the justification for an escalation of the war that ultimately resulted in thousands of US military fatalities and countless more Vietnamese civilian deaths and maimings. The generals were lying about body counts every night on national TV and nobody but the "alternative" press ever called them on it.
My girlfriend's brother got his left leg blown off above the knee and came back a Demerol addict, then was told by the Veterans Administration that, due to budget cuts, they wouldn't be able to care for his injuries or his addiction.
In 1968, my senior year high school civics teacher had spent two years at West Point and, failing to finding a sufficiently fascist organization there, had then joined the Jesuits, where he continued to preach military propaganda, although he found time to play MacArthur's farewell speech to Congress four times during the year -getting a little dewy-eyed each time.
Yup, the Pentagon itself is the bad joke here and I've been waiting a long, long time to see somebody light it up. And while the WTC atrocities hit very hard indeed, I reserve my anguish exclusively for the victims and families in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as for those on the plane that struck the Pentagon.
Military targets are certainly fair game in war, and our resident has made it clear that that's what we're involved in here - a protracted war of attrition against military targets.
In other news. . .
An email the other day from a decent, reasonable-sounding guy wondered in part how I managed to have acquired so much "liberal self-loathing and guilt." My problem is more accurately one of acute embarrassment.
Embarrassment that virtually all mainstream media outlets in this country have become so corporatized and so fearful of controversy that their reports are virtually indistinguishable from the blatherings of the White House and Pentagon PR departments.
Embarrassed that, just when we need real intelligence and statesmanship from our political leaders, we get Bush and Cheney and a bunch of Reagan re-treads who should have been indicted a long time ago, but instead connived their way into running the country again.
Embarrassed that so few of my fellow citizens seem capable of understanding the irony of fighting yet another war in yet another oil country while flying the flag from the fenders of their 5-mpg Super Giganto six-door all-wheel-drive V-12 gas-slurper deluxe turbo-charged urban battlewagon.
Embarrassed that, while national attention is focused almost exclusively on terrorism, Congress continues to work tirelessly to repay its campaign debts to its corporate sponsors. The latest evidence came Friday as the Senate denied $1.9B in federal aid to extend unemployment benefits, pay health care premiums and retrain people rendered jobless by the September 11 attacks. And if this isn't insulting enough, it comes only days after Congress granted $15B in welfare for its employers in the boardrooms and executive offices of US commercial air carriers.
And above all, embarrassed that all this happens time and again in my name and with my tax money. How very swell indeed.
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The author maintains that, for a middle-aged white guy who survived 14 years of Catholic school, he's surprisingly free of liberal guilt and self-loathing - or so a battery of psychologists and psychiatrists testified just before his sentencing. Judge for yourself. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org and see if you get in return the ravings of a lunatic, or just the quiet, self-effacing, wry brand of humor we all find so charming in Overlord Cheney - may he slither past a wall of leaky microwaves real, real soon.
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