Monday, February 20, 2006

The Rats In The House And The Wolf In The Woods

I have a friend we'll call Bob because it's only three letters and easy to type. Bob lives in a nice suburban home and is a kind, friendly American. We've been friends for years and he's always struck me as a font of common sense and decency.

Until the past few years that is.

Bob's got rats in his house but for some reason he can't seem to admit it. But he goes on at great length about big, scary wolves in a faraway forest. Not putting too fine a point on it, it strikes me as insane. He invited me to dinner last week and it was a surreal experience.

I got to Bob's at about 7. Bob opened his front door and the unmistakable stench of rodent hit me immediately.

"Whoa! What's that smell, man?", I asked.

"What smell? Can I take your coat?", my host helpfully offered.

I gave him my coat and Bob opened the closet door. A large rat scurried from the closet and ran under the couch in the living room.

"Bob, a rat just ran into your living room", I commented.

"What are you talking about?", Bob half-mindedly replied.

We went into the kitchen and two rats were on the counter by the sink eating through a loaf of bread. They didn't budge when we entered the room. Bob got two beers out of the fridge and gave me one.

"The wolves ate two chickens and a farmer in Overtheristan yesterday", said Bob. "The wolf problem is getting quite severe. We really need to do something about it before they come here."

A huge crash followed Bob's words as a cabinet above the stove came open and three huge rats fell out fighting over a chocolate bar. They hit the floor and one rat took off into the hallway carrying the bar in its mouth. The other two crammed themselves under the stove.

"Bob, you seem to have a real rat problem", I said.

At that, one of the rats on the counter stood up on its hind legs and actually hissed at me. I'd never seen a rat hiss before. It had breadcrumbs hanging from its whiskers and it seemed quite well-fed. At this, Bob made the first and only acknowledgement of the rats that I'd witnessed.

"Ix-nay on the at-ray alk-tay", Bob said in Pig Latin. "They hate that." He seemed terrified even speaking in Pig Latin about them, but then he went back to being his normal, congenial self after his denial kicked back into gear.

"I bought a new rifle the other day. If the wolves come to my door, they'll reap the whirlwind from this American", he said cheerfully.

I have a great affection for my friend, but I had to leave. I'd suddenly noticed the fleas and lice from the rats and thought it healthier for me to remove myself. I hope my friend survives the rats in his house so that he can make his dreamed of stand with the wolf, but I really doubt he'll make it much longer.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The War That We Deserve

Ponder this phrase for moment or three: WAR ON TERROR

When you're done thinking about it, try to imagine a dumber phrase in history being employed by a government and its accessory-after-the-fact media as a rationale for creative destruction. This one takes the cakewalk.

It's like saying "WAR ON DEPRESSION" or "WAR ON ANXIETY". It's meaningless, in other words. Yet if we expose ourselves to the controlled press for more than about twenty seconds, we're likely to get hit with this meaningless phrase like vaudeville straightmen used to get hit with rubber chickens. I suppose some people still laugh at someone getting hit with a rubber chicken, and perhaps some people actually believe that there's a war on terror.

So where did this phrase come from? Did it used to have some kind of meaning?

When confronted by these seemingly bottomless questions about phrases, let's go where I always go: Usenet. It's a storehouse of old phrases and catch-alls easily broken up by dates and micro-eras. For instance, June 5, 1999 is the earliest use of the phrase "Google me" on Usenet that I can find. That's not to say that it's the first use, but it's probably close. Usenet is sort of like the trap in the elbow of your bathroom sink. There's no telling what's gotten stuck in it.

So, onto the WoT. A quick search on Usenet brings us to a UPI article from Wed, Dec 23, 1992 titled, "Palestinians blame Israel for 'killing' peace process". The relevant sentences reveal the hairball in the sink:

"Israel issued the deportation order a week ago following the kidnapping and execution of a border policeman. Five other Israeli soldiers were also killed by members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad since Dec. 8. Rabin defended the action as part of a "war on terror" and has continued to defy almost total world censure."

Thus, according to Usenet, this is probably something close to the earliest use of the offending phrase. It's Israeli, no less (and no surprise). We also know that Billy-Bob Clinton was fond of this phrase in his mid to late presidency, most likely owing to how it played in Tel Aviv. That the Bush administration and the Neocons that perch on its shoulders are also fond of the quadsyllabic incantation is a fact that we shouldn't take lightly. That one of its earlier invocations was by an Israeli politician assassinated for being a softie should also be kept in mind.

Now that we've got one part of the worm on the hook, let's see what the "War on Terror" means to one mindset.

In 2002, the Ariel Center for Policy Research ("devoted to incisive research and discussion of political and strategic issues concerning Israel and the Jewish people.") published an essay by a 1966 University of Chicago grad named Paul Eidelberg called "Democratizing Islam". In the essay, Eidelberg gave us the following neat summation of our spotlighted phrase:

"America’s war against international terrorism is in truth a war against Arab-Islamic civilization."

There's one reason why Eidelberg's definition matters: he was a contemporary of Leo Strauss, the mentor to many of the Neocons in the Bush nest, though Eidleberg's actually about half a generation ahead of Wolfowitz and Co.

So, one aspect of the War on Terror is about the destruction of the oldest enemy of the Jewish people using the most powerful military in history. I suppose this sits well with some people. It doesn't sit well with me. It portends the destruction of what's left of America.

There's another odd thing about Eidelberg's perception of the "War on Terror" that we should make note of. In the same essay referenced above, he invokes the Noahide Laws as the basis for the war:

"President George W. Bush, a devout Christian, is qualified to make the Seven Noahide Laws the ultimate justification of America’s war against Islamic civilization."

There it is: A dyed-in-the-wool Straussian Neocon Eidelberg lays it out. As I understand it, the Straussian method is to conceal tactics and ends from the hoi-polloi. If that's concealment, what the hell is he hiding?

So now when I hear the phrase "War on Terror", what I actually hear, with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish, is:

"So it's 1-2-3, what are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
The next stop is Armageddistan..."

"War on Terror": The dumbest phrase in the history of propaganda fed to the dumbest population to ever walk the earth. We get the government, and the wars, that we deserve.

Stephen Francis is a writer and a researcher living in Occupied Virginia.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Give Us This Day Our Daily Boot

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

-George Orwell, 1984

On Tuesday night, 01/31/06, the boot came down for all to see. Cindy Sheehan was publicly hustled out of the "people's house" and arrested for wearing a shirt. If the Powers That Think They Be will now treat a known figure thusly in full view of the world, how will they treat those that they may have issues with when there are no witnesses present?

The "War on Terror" is spoken of in religious tones by both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Cindy Sheehan's son died in the war and she had the temerity to question the war priests in their own church. Mike Weight, the US Capitol policeman that bravely wrestled her out of the inner sanctum, said "Protestor!" when he saw her shirt, much as an inquisitor's guard would shriek "Heretic!".

The First Amendment is quite clear about what laws Congress may NOT make regarding our ability to speak and assemble:

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Whatever Congressional "rules" are in place that caused the manhandling and arrest of Cindy Sheehan are in direct violation of the US Constitution, supposedly one of the things that Cindy Sheehan's son was fighting for if you go by the rhetoric of the Executive and Legislative branches of the current government. This only underscores a conviction held by many, that the current government is an unconstitutional one and has been for some time.

So let's quit the charade, shall we? If we don't have a Constitutional Republic, what do we have? Is it a Plutocracy? A Usurocracy? A Cryptocracy? If Liberty has been sacrificed for a little temporary security, whose security is actually being assured by the arrest of dissent?

One thing I do know: the offices of the legislative branch certainly don't feel a need to comment to the hoi-polloi on the violation of Cindy Sheehan's First Amendment rights. I called my two senators, John Warner and George Allen and my representative, Virgil Goode, for a comment on what went down with Cindy Sheehan. Goode's office was at least honest enough to say there most likely wouldn't be any comment. As of this writing, I've received no response from the senators. I'm sure these principled legislators were clapping and cheering whenever George Bush intoned "freedom" and "democracy" in his Tuesday night speech as Cindy Sheehan was being processed.

Whether you agree or disagree with Sheehan's politics or opinions, what happened to her on Tuesday night is a bellwether event. If you're an American that actually values Liberty and its attendant responsibilities, I suggest you call your representatives and senators to let them know you're onto the game that's afoot. Some of them might actually appreciate it. Then again, you might have a rep in the mold that Ezra Pound spoke of in Canto XVIII:

...War, one war after another,
Men start 'em who couldn't put up a good hen-roost.


Their chickens are coming home to roost and there'll be no place for them to set. Let's make it more difficult for those same men to put on their stomping boots.

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