To the children of Iraq: Nobody ever said life was fair
I recently wrote to Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, pointing out, among other things, that thousands of Iraqi children die every month as a result of sanctions and bombings. Both wrote very nice letters back to me, explaining why our government must continue to attack Iraq.
Now, I know that both of those women love kids, as do all members of Congress, our President, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and everybody in the Pentagon. They’d never do anything to harm children unless it was absolutely necessary. So I thought, “Gee, if we’d only explain to Iraqi children why we’re doing what we’re doing, it might make things a little easier for them.” Since our government officials are always extremely busy, I decided to take it upon myself to write to the children of Iraq:
I want you to know that we’ve been very busy in America lately, hating Serbs and bombing Yugoslavia. But that doesn’t mean we have forgotten about Iraq. We aren’t that kind of country.
So, how’s everything going? I hope you are going to school every day and keeping up with your studies. Some of you may live to be adults, and if you do, you will need your education to get good jobs. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.
You may be wondering why it is that we need to keep you from getting the food and medicines you need to live a healthy, happy life. Believe me, it’s nothing personal. Americans are very fond of children. And it’s not because so many of you are poor that we are treating you the way we are. Why, we have millions of poor children right here in our own country.
No, the reason we can’t let you have enough food to eat and medicines to treat your sicknesses is that your leader is a very bad guy. We figure that if enough of you and your moms and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles die, the ones who are left will kick that bully out. And even if they don’t get rid of him, soon there won’t be much of Iraq left and we can come on over and get your oil. It’s actually kind of a neat way to fight a war, because we’re not risking the lives of our own children, just yours.
Believe me, we’re as sorry as the next person when little children have to suffer and die, but it’s not our fault. Saddam Hussein is making us bomb your country and withhold essential supplies. He just won’t do what we want him to, and somebody has to pay the price for defying the mightiest nation on earth. In this case, that’s you.
It may not seem fair to you, but hey, as millions of parents remind millions of children every day, nobody ever said life was fair. Think of it this way: The 150 or so of you who are starving to death or dying of diarrhea every single day are helping to build a New World Order in which peace will prevail, if only everyone will behave exactly as America says. It’s an honor, really – you are serving as role models for others all over the world.
So try to look at the big picture. And try to keep your spirits up. A positive attitude can help you through the toughest times. The truth is, not all of you will die before age five. Some of you may not get cancer from depleted uranium residue. Some of you will grow up only slightly deformed or mildly retarded. A few of you may even grow up to be perfectly normal and healthy. So don’t use your tummy aches as an excuse to slack off from the books!
Enjoy the spring weather, the longer days, the buds on the trees, the slender shoots of grass poking up out of the ground, the birds singing their little hearts out. And try to make the most of the time you have left.
Have a great day!
Weapons of mass destruction
My friend Areopagitica Truelove can be a royal pain in the neck. She’s the kind of person who spoils perfectly pleasant conversations about politics or current events by throwing in a bunch of facts.
She rides around on an old Schwinn cruiser toting her Guatemalan backpack in which she carries a laptop that she whips out to summon up all kinds of articles and reports and declassified documents to mess with my mind. For example, last week we were sipping soy mochas at a sidewalk café in San Anselmo and she said, “You’re looking worried, Bufferootie.”
“I am,” I told her.
“About Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” I sighed.
“Stop worrying,” she said. “They don’t exist.”
“How can you say that?” I protested. “Every day there’s another story in the New York Times about how we’re afraid Saddam’s going to use those weapons against us or give them to terrorists.”
“Government press releases,” she said. “If you want to know about Iraq’s so-calle weapons of mass destruction, go right to the source, Amigo. Look at what a weapons inspector for UNSCOM says.” She punched a few keys and up on the screen came an article about a recent speech by Scott Ritter, a former Marine and member of the U.N. weapons inspection team sent to Iraq back in the ‘90s.
Ritter spent seven years in Iraq hunting down WMDs and facilities for manufacturing them. He says unequivocally that virtually all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed before he got there, and that given the intense monitoring that has taken place, there’s no way the Iraqis could have built more. “There has been nothing in the way of substantive fact,” Ritter said, “that makes the case that Iraq possesses these weapons or has links to international terror.”
“Then how come they kicked out the weapons inspectors?” I asked.
“They didn’t,” she said. “We pulled them out so we could do some more heavy-duty bombing in Operation Desert Dumbo. And Iraq won’t let the inspectors back in unless there’s a guarantee that the sanctions will be lifted. That embargo has killed more than a million civilians.”
“Come on, Areopagitica! You can’t blame us for that! Look at Oil-for-Food. We tried to help those poor people, but Hussein took all the money and built palaces.”
“Fat chance, Big Fella,” she retorted, hitting more keys and pulling up a United Nations document that explained how the Oil-fof-Food program works. Apparently, none of the money from the oil goes to Iraq. It goes into a bank account where Iraq can’t touch it and some committee decides what the Iraqis can and cannot buy. The amount of food they’re able to purchase is far from what’s needed to feed the people of that country a healthy diet.
“And there’s more, Buffitito,” Areopagitica told me. “Did you know that most of the 5,000 children who die every month expire because of contaminated water?”
“See!” I said. “If Hussein would fix up his water treatment plants, all those little kids would still be alive!”
“Buff, Buff, Buff,” she said. (I hate it when she says my name three times in a row like that.) “We don’t let Iraq import what they need to rebuild their water purification system, which, by the way, we targeted in the Gulf War knowing full well that its destruction would lead to massive death.”
I had the feeling that I was about to see another document, and I was right. This one was a declassified report from the Department of Defense, prepared on the second day of the Gulf War, back in 1991. It stated, in part, that, “Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply … Failing to secure supplies [for purifying water] will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease.”
“Even when little kids get the rare antibiotics to fight the water-borne diseases,” Areopagitica explained, “they have to keep drinking the same water. Their little digestive systems just can’t keep fighting back.”
I was getting a little stressed by then. It was probably the caffeine. “Yeah, but what about the Kurds!” I blurted.
“What about them?” Areopagitica cooed. The madder I get, the sweeter she gets.
“Hussein gassed them. His own people. What about that?”
“You’re right,” she said. “That was back in 1988, when George Sr. was vice-president. Remember the public outcry when that happened?:
“Yes!” I shouted.” “Well…not exactly…”
“You don’t remember it because there was none,” she said. “Everybody knew about it and our government said not word one. Probably because the materials to make the poison gas came from the U.S., complete with official certification by the Department of Commerce.
“And if we’re so concerned about the Kurds, why did we just cut a deal with Turkey saying that if we can use bases in their country to stage attacks against Iraq, we will refuse to support the creation of a Kurdish state?” You guessed it. She showed me the Associated Press article that reported this piece of information.
We walked together to my car after we finished our coffee. “Then you tell me, Miss Smarty Pants,” I demanded, “why are we going to war with Iraq?”
“Well,” she said, “Scott Ritter, who says he’s a moderate Republican, believes it’s domestic politics, pure and simple – war in October, reelect extremist, Holy-American-Empire Repubs in November, and boost the Prez’s poll numbers. I put it more succinctly, in three little letters: O-I-L… Holy cow! What’s this monstrosity?
Fishing for the keys out of my pocket, I said, “You like it? It’s my new Mega-SUV, the Ford Armageddon.”
“Buff, Buff, Buff,” she shook her head and pedaled away while I climbed into the driver’s seat, pulled out of my two parking places, and headed for the nearest Chevron station.
Lebanese grandmother praises Israel
(July 25, 2006. Lebanon) After seven members of her family were killed today when an Israeli missile struck her home in southern Lebanon, a Lebanese grandmother held a press conference to express her gratitude to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Through a translator, 68-year-old Aisha Amadia told reporters that it was “an honor” for her children and grandchildren to die “for the only democracy in the Middle East.” “In a democracy,” she said, “all of the people decide, not a dictator or a king. So it seems that all of the people of Israel have decided that my family should die to keep Israelis safe from those who want a free Palestine. I feel humbled by my family’s opportunity to participate in this way in a great democracy.”
Mrs. Amadia went on to express appreciation for the way her family members were killed. “There is so much we Arabs can learn from the Israelis about what it means to be civilized. “Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, they use suicide bombers because they have no concern for human life. But Israel, a light unto the nations with the most moral army in the world, Israel would never resort to such a barbaric, primitive form of killing. Instead, they drop their bombs from missiles and jet planes. I am certain my family members would be proud to know that when they were decapitated and blown to bits in their own home, no Israeli had to explode himself in killing them.”
Mrs. Amadia also praised the IDF for the humanitarian way in way they are waging war. She stated, “I would like the people of Israel to know how deeply I appreciate the care the IDF exercises in avoiding civilian casualties. It is a great comfort to know that Israel did everything it could to keep from killing my family. Surely Palestinian parents in Gaza and the West Bank whose children Israeli soldiers were forced to shoot in the head feel a similar sense of comfort.
And does she feel any anger or bitterness towards the Israelis?
“No,” replied Mrs. Amadia, “only great pity.”
Israel bombs Vermont
(July 21, 2006. Montpelier) Israeli jets today bombed dozens of cities, towns, and villages in Vermont, leaving hundreds dead and thousands wounded. The state’s hospitals – those not destroyed in the bombing raids – are operating at maximum capacity, while countless wounded remain untreated. State officials have issued an urgent appeal for outside medical assistance. Vermont’s governor told reporters, “We haven’t heard from FEMA yet, but Cuba has offered to send as many teams of doctors as we can use.” A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State said that no Cuban doctors will be allowed to enter the U.S.
Asked why Israel would want to bomb Vermont, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters, “We have intelligence that indicates there are people in Vermont who blatantly disagree with the policies of the Israeli government. We will not stand idly by and allow such threats to our very existence go unanswered.”
In an emergency session, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting unconditionally Israel’s right to do whatever it deems necessary to defend itself. An identical resolution passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 534-1. The lone no vote came from Vermont Congressman Ethan Allen, who said, “The Israelis might have tried town meetings before they started dropping bombs. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) immediately issued a statement branding Congressman Allen as an anti-semite.
Where are the conservatives?
“I’m confused,” I said to my friend Areopagitica Truelove as we cruised the aisles of our favorite organic grocery store.
“What’s got you baffled, Buffy-cakes?” she asked, tossing a package of teriyaki tofu into her basket.
“I’m trying to figure out the conservatives,” I said.
“A fruitless task,” Areopagitica replied. “But tell me more.”
“Well,” I said, “when I grew up in Nebraska among all those rock-ribbed Republicans, they preached individual freedom and states’ rights and the evils of big government. I recall dire warnings about a bloated Federal government enslaving us all.”
“Ah, yes,” said Areopagitica. “Behind every bush lurked either a Federal bureaucrat or a commie waiting to snatch our liberties away.”
“Right,” I said, “and what has me confounded is that the conservatives in power are now gleefully doing everything they once claimed – and still claim – that they oppose.”
“Por ejemplo?” she asked.
“OK, let’s start with the 2000 election,” I responded. “A conservative Supreme Court ignored the principle of states’ rights in taking away from Florida the decision about how to deal with the vote recount. And now, states’ rights notwithstanding, the administration is overturning California’s clean-air standards because they prevent the oil barons from making ever more obscene piles of money.”
“I take it there is more,” Areopagitica said, reading the list of ingredients on a jar of vegan mayonnaise.
“Plenty,” I said. “Look at all these trade agreements, negotiated pretty much in the dark. They allow some shadowy, decidedly non-democratic tribunal to revoke any of our laws that it claims interfere with multinationals’ ability to make profits.”
“By-bye states’ rights and national sovereignty,” mused Areopagitica as she ground a pound of fair-trade coffee beans.
“And,” I went on, “what about the small-government crowd creating a gargantuan new Federal bureaucracy to spy on us? Our civil liberties are rapidly becoming relics of the past. These so-called conservatives have given themselves legal permission to investigate our financial records, our credit card transactions, even our bookstore purchases. They can eavesdrop on our phone conversations and our e-mail without any kind of oversight by the courts. They can detain people without charge based on secret evidence, and try them in secret. When we were kids, that’s what they said those evil Soviets did.
“It seems to me that the conservatives I grew up with would be screaming bloody murder about all this.”
Areopagitica placed a jar of macadamia butter in her basket, and paused somewhat melodramatically before she spoke. “Buff, Buff, Buff,” she sighed. “You are suffering from acute naivete. You must understand that the guys running the country now are far from the grassroots conservatives of your idyllic childhood. They’re the oligarchs. What they want to conserve is their own position at the top of the heap. What they don’t want is anyone calling attention to the fact that the Emperor and his cohorts have almost all the clothes and are building closets for more. Folks might start getting ideas. To keep that from happening, they employ some truly nutty think-tank ideologues, for whom fascism has never been an ugly work, to spin the yar that the only way to save our freedoms is to give them up.
When you listen to the current Washington crowd scold and pontificate you can hear how they ooze arrogance. They pose as morally superior to the rest of us, but in fact, their moral development is arrested at the level of a narcissistic two-ear-old. ‘I want it, so it’s mine!’ they whine. ‘You have to do what I say!’ But these are toddlers in expensive Italia suits, who command armies and spies and secret police; who plunder our economy with huge tax cuts for each other; and who pillage the rest of the planet using the IMF and the World Bank!”
We were in the produce section, and Areopagitica was fiercely flinging Brussels sprouts into her basket as she spoke, her voice getting louder with each sprout. People from all over the store started wheeling their carts over to see what was going on.
“What these conservatives want is more power, pure and simple. More power to amass great wealth for themselves and their cronies. More power to run the country and the world in whatever way will best serve their economic interests. More power to quash dissent and silence critics. More power to attack impoverished countries, to send our sons and daughters into one war after another. More power to create the new Roman Empire! Power that they must wrest from the hands of the people!
“But we will not give up the power of the people!” shouted Areopagitica.
“Not to Republicans! Not to Democrats! We will not be silent. We will fill the streets! We will pack the jails! We will get these monkeys off our backs!”
The applause was deafening. “Down with Bush!” shouting. “Down with turncoat Democrats!” everybody was shouting, tossing biodegradable confetti into the air. A man standing by the avocado bin snapped a picture of Areopagitica and hurried out the door.
“That was a great speech,” I told her as we walked to the checkout line. “But I still have one question. Why aren’t the real conservatives, the ones I grew up with, the ones who believe in our freedoms and civil liberties and a non-invasive Federal government, why aren’t they just as angry and upset as we are?”
“If I knew that, and five Supreme Court justices,” Areopagitica coyly smiled, “I could be President.”
Bush Fights Global Warming
(Washington, DC) In what appears to be a dramatic reversal of a long-standing administration position. President George W. Bush announced today at a press conference on the beach in front of the White House (formerly Pennsylvania Avenue), that, after long and prayerful consultation with his friend, God, he now believes that there might be some truth to the dire warnings from every reputable scientist in the world about the dangers of global warming.
According to Mr. Bush, the two old friends began to rethink their dismissal of climate change as “junk science” and “Democratic fear-mongering,” when the state of Florida turned up missing. “As you know,” said the President, “the state of Florida has a very special place in my heart, and when I heard on Fox News that it had disappeared, well, frankly, I began to worry. Right away, I thought about my good friend, Tony “The Buzz Saw” Scalia, and how hard he’d work to make sure I won Florida. And now I’d gone and lost it.”
The President said he sent a team of the “smartest guys in the White House” to go out and look for Florida, and after several weeks of searching all over the country, they found the “Sunshine State” right where it used to be, only under thirty feet of water. “Dang!” said Mr. Bush, “That was a real surprise.” But still, he didn’t attribute the disappearance of Florida to global warming. “I asked my friend the Almighty about it, and He said the rising waters were probably due to some kind of long-term natural cycle, although He couldn’t be absolutely sure.”
What finally got the President and God to change their minds, Mr. Bush said, was when early one Sunday morning, a White House aide reported to both of them that the state of Ohio had turned up at the bottom of a vastly expanded Lake Erie. “Dang!” said Mr. Bush. “That was another real surprise. As you know, the state of Ohio has a special place in my heart. Right away, I thought about my good friend Ken “The Fixer” Blackwell, and how hard he’d worked to make sure I’d won Ohio. And now all those electoral votes were at the bottom of a lake.”
Mr. Bush said that this time when he talked with “my pal Jehovah” about the inundation of the two States, “He seemed a little worried. He said to me, ‘Dang, George! I’m beginning to think there might be something to this global warming talk after all. Lately I’ve been spending more time at the North and South Poles, and the ice is melting pretty darn fast. I suppose that could account for the current absence of Florida and Ohio.'”
“I don’t mind telling you,” the President went on, “that my good friend the Lord of Hosts, looked mighty worried. He said to me, ‘What about my base? I promised a fire, not a flood, next time. My numbers are way down, and if I don’t deliver on my promises, I’m History. We either have to get going on a fiery, nuclear Armageddon ASAP, or figure out a way to stop this global warming business.”
The President said that after this chat with God, he next went to his mentor Dick, “Gepetto” Cheney. Mr. Cheney advised him that now would not be the best time for nuclear holocaust, since Halliburton, along with the corporations run by many of his closest friends, were positioned to make record profits in the next several quarters. “So Dick and I decided we needed to come up with a way to stop global warming,” Mr. Bush explained. “But we wanted a good, Republican solution, not some kind of climate entitlement program where we just threw money at the problem and created a massive Federal bureaucracy that would make the climate dependent on the government for generations into the future. And, with God’s help, we have found the answer.”
That answer, President Bush announced after a dramatic pause, is to be called, in honor of his father, former President George H.W. Bush, A Thousand Points of Ice — Fighting Global Warming One Cube at a Time. “Here’s the way it works,” said the President. “It’s really neat. First, it will be a strictly voluntary program, managed by faith-based organizations, not a Federal agency. Those organizations that qualify will receive Federal funds for the collection of ice cubes. It’s an incentive-based program, see? The more ice cubes they collect, the more money they’ll receive.”
The government, the President explained, will supply those organizations with high-tech insulated containers created especially for the Thousand Points of Ice program by “our good friends at Bechtel.” “In fact, we’ve already awarded them a $3 billion contract for the Ice Boxes,” Mr. Bush said.
Once the Ice Boxes are filled with cubes, according to the President, they will be “rendered” on special charter flights to the Arctic or the Antarctic, where they will be deposited on glaciers, ice bergs, and ice floes. “My friend the Good Lord loves it,” Mr. Bush enthused. “He said it’s just like when He thought up natural cycles. The ice melts up there, turns into water and comes down here. We put it into ice cube trays, freeze it, and send it right back. What could be simpler?”
Immediately after the President’s press conference, the stocks of corporations that manufacture refrigerators and freezers tripled in price. Frigidaire announced its new corporate motto: Frigidaire: On the Frontlines in the War Against Climate Change. And groups opposed to gay marriage flooded Federal offices with phone calls inquiring how they could apply for the faith-based program.
Republicans in the House and Senate expressed great enthusiasm for the President’s new initiative. “It’s good old American ingenuity,” said House Speaker Dennis Hastert. “It’s the right thing to do,” commented Sen. John Warner of Virginia, “and the money will get into the right hands.” Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said the program seemed good on first look, but he wanted to be certain that there would be safeguards to prevent “stealth homosexual organizations” from using ice money to “promote their agenda.”
Democrats could not be found.
The war on terrorism takes a new turn
They are smart, they are creative, they are committed. They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.
— Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the commander at Guantanamo, speaking about the suicides of three Guantanamo prisoners.
(Washington, D.C.) In a major policy address before the American Enterprise Institute last night, President George W. Bush announced what he called a “breakthrough” in his administration’s war on terrorism. “Beginning immediately,” the president said, “the United States will take military action against millions of terrorists around the world who claim to be starving and dying of preventable and treatable water-borne diseases. That action will include missile strikes, targeted assassinations, extraordinary rendition, and all other means at our disposal to defeat this new form of terrorist threat.”
In identifying the “new form” of threat, the President went on to explain that U.S. intelligence agencies have determined “contrary to what the United Nations and left-wing Irish rock stars would have us believe,” there is no world hunger problem. In fact, stated the President, “world hunger is a terrorist plot to overthrow the government of the United States of America.” The millions of people around the world who starve to death every year, Mr. Bush said, are actually “terrorists engaged in asymmetrical warfare, just like those so-called suicides at Guantanamo.”
How, exactly, does this form of terrorism work? According to the President, it is a two-pronged assault. “It’s a psy-op operation,” he said. “They manipulate world opinion and seek to turn other countries against us by implying that we are cold-hearted, selfish, money-grubbers who choose not to use some of our vast wealth and power to end the so-called ‘world hunger’ problem or to clean up contaminated water.” In addition, the President explained, the terrorists cynically prey upon the sympathies of Americans to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable contributions, money that American families could use to buy new cars and appliances, go on vacations, pay increased fuel costs, and keep the U.S. economy strong. “You can be darn sure,” Mr. Bush said, “that when those terrorists get their hands on Americans’ hard-earned money, they don’t spend it on fancy French bottled water, or go to the International House of Pancakes”
“We are up against a cunning, crafty, and deadly enemy,” said the President. “They hate our way of life. They hate our freedom. And they will starve themselves, their families, their children, in order to destroy our freedom. They will force their infants to drink contaminated water in order to bring the hallowed pillars of Liberty crashing down around us. They do not value human life, their own, or ours, and they will stop at nothing.”
In concluding his address, Mr. Bush urged all Americans “not to be fooled by those pictures of skinny, big-bellied, hollow-eyed brown kids” they see in magazine ads and charity brochures. “Send your money to them and you’ll be financing terrorism by depleting America’s resources.” warned the President. He concluded his remarks with a ringing call for a united front against what he called “this insidious attack on all we hold dear.” “The United States is a proud and powerful nation,” he intoned, “and we will need all the pride and power we can muster to prevail over the Godless hordes who engage in this vicious form of terrorism, dying of hunger and dysentery in order to bring down the greatest nation on earth!”
Immediately after the President’s speech, Air Force B-52s conducted saturation bombing raids of several sub-Saharan countries where the terrorists Mr. Bush identified have their training camps. Tens of thousands were reported killed. At the same time, U.S. Special Forces teams rounded up thousands more at United Nations emergency food distribution centers and rendered them to Uzbekistan, Egypt, and Poland where they will be force fed through tubes and held indefinitely without charge.
Making a killing from global warming
The other day I was leafletting outside my favorite organic foods market, when who should walk out with an armload of kale but my old pal Areopagitica Truelove. “Buffy-kins!” she greeted me, eyeing my flyers, “What’cha got there?”
“It’s a flyer urging people to get in touch with government officials about global warming,” I explained to her.
“What about global warming?” she asked.
“People in government have got to realize the devastating effects on the planet of human-generated greenhouse gases,” I said.
“And you think they don’t understand?” Areopagitica asked, tearing off a piece of kale and putting it in her mouth.
“No, they don’t. They just don’t get it. The Bush administration backed out of Kyoto and the Congress won’t pass laws regulating emissions. They don’t realize that we’ve only got a very short time before global disaster.”
“Oh, they get it, all right,” Areopagitica smiled, crunching on a kale stalk. “The people who run the country may be a lot of things, but they’re not stupid.”
“How can you say that?” I said. “Look at people like Senator Inhoffe from Oklahoma, who claim the idea of climate change is alarmist leftist propaganda.”
“Inhoffe is a buffoon,” Areopagitica responded, “but the people with the real power know exactly what’s happening with the climate. The Pentagon even wrote a report about it stating that climate change over the next 20 years could result in global catastrophe, including nuclear wars fought over dwindling resources.”
“What!?” I blurted out, incredulous.
“You heard me right, Buff-meister. And what has the government done about it? Nada. Zip. Zilch. The people in power, in and out of the government, don’t care about what happens to polar bears or the Amazon rainforest or to the island countries and coastal cities that disappear or to the hundreds of millions of ordinary people who will likely die as a result of ongoing climate disasters. They look at global warming as a humongous business opportunity.”
“But…” I tried to interject. But when Areopagitica gets going, it’s impossible to stop her. “I just read the other day, for example, that market analysts are recommending weapons industry stocks because business is booming as governments all over the planet arm themselves in anticipation of civil unrest and the coming resource wars.
“And the energy industry is salivating over the melting of polar ice,” she went on, “because not only will it open up the Northwest Passage for shipping, it’ll also make it possible to explore for oil and other minerals up there. As far as Chevron is concerned, to hell with polar bears!”
People coming out of the store avoided looking at us and hurried by as Areopagitica’s voice rose in pitch and volume. “The rich will create their luxurious enclaves, their own beautifully landscaped Green Zones with tennis courts and swimming pools and charming cafes and maybe even boutique-y little zoos where their over -privileged offspring can see the last timber wolf or the last great-horned owl. And they’ll sell the rest of us bottled water at 10 bucks a pop…”
When she paused to take a breath I finally managed to squeeze in a comment. “Oh come on, Areopagitica, you’re being overly dramatic and cynical,” I protested. “They’re not monsters, after all.”
“Worse,” she replied, “they’re capitalists.”
Now she spoke in a quiet, almost confidential tone of voice, as if imparting a juicy piece of gossip.. “You see, Buffarootie, capitalists don’t really care about much of anything except how to get more capital – hence the name. Kale?” she asked, proffering a leaf.
“Too early for me,” I said. “Are you saying that capitalists don’t love their kids, or care about their friends and families?”
“Oh, I’m sure they do,” she responded, her voice beginning to rise again. “But their circles are very small and tight, limited to their ‘own kind’ ” –she made quotation marks in the air—“not the riff-raff who are responsible for producing their wealth, and not you, and not me,” – her voice began to rise again – “ and not the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta whose lands they have poisoned, and not the Mexican farmers whose livelihoods they have destroyed by dumping subsidized corn on the market, and not the Chinese who labor in sweatshops for pennies to make next season’s chicest apparel, and not the illegalized immigrants in the Central Valley breathing in pesticides as they pick our fruits and vegetables . . .”
“How do you do that?” I interrupted her.
“Keep all that information in your head and go on and on with those long sentences and not an ‘um’ or an ‘er’ or a breath.”
“It’s the kale,” she said.
“You know,” I shook my head, “I just find it so hard to believe.”
“But it’s true,” she replied, “kale has amazing . . .”
“No,” I interjected, “not about the kale, about our leaders being so greedy and selfish and uncaring …”
“Well disabuse yourself, Buffismo. It’s what we all have to do. Explode the myths that bind us. We’re taught from the time we’re little kids that we live in a classless society where the leaders represent all the people and work for the common good. But in fact, our constitution was written by a guy who said that the purpose of the government they were making was to protect the rich from the rest of us.”
“You’re kidding!” I exclaimed.
“Nope,” Areopagitica smiled. “James Madison, the Daddy of the U.S. Constitution, said those very words.”
“Wow indeed. And that’s just what the government, in collusion with the ruling class, the capitalists. in this’ classless’” – quotation marks in the air again – “society, has been doing ever since, carrying on a relentless war against the poor and wretched of the earth, whose ranks, by the way, millions of middle class folks are about to join.”
“But we vote,” I said.
“If voting made a difference, as the Wobblies used to say, it would be illegal. We get our choice between two capitalist parties, both of which make it their primary purpose to do just what Jimmy Madison said, to protect the ones he called the opulent.”
I felt completely deflated. “So the only way these people will do anything about global warming,” I whimpered, “is if they feel that they themselves, and their bank accounts, are threatened?”
“I suppose so,” said Areopagitica, stuffing one final piece of kale into her mouth, “but don’t hold your breath on that one, Buffytista. As Vladimir Ilyich Ullyanov once so astutely observed: A capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him with.
Areopagitica gave me a big hug and said goodbye. “Gotta run, Buff-ster. I’m making kale brownies for the Anarchists’ Bake Sale.” She trotted over to her Schwinn cruiser, stuffed the kale into the saddlebags, and pedaled away into the bright afternoon.
The future is now: Ask Mr. History
The year is 2050. We are in the studios of PPBS, the Privatized Public Broadcasting System, as another broadcast of a popular children’s program is about to begin. The kids in the audience squirm and chatter excitedly as a woman wearing a headset counts down the seconds until air time:…4…3…2…1… Music begins to play, a man wearing an Uncle Sam suit trimmed with flashing lights runs out from behind a curtain and the children cheer wildly. He shouts:
Hey kids! What time is it?
It’s Mr. History time!
That’s right. He begins to sing and the children join in (to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy):
Millard Fillmore, Betsy Ross
Davy Crockett, Tweed the Boss
The Gadsden Purchase, Boston Tea
Seward’s Folly and Robert E. Lee
I’m the guy with the information
All about this mighty nation —
Everything you need to know
From Teapot Dome to the Alamo
So if you want to do your best
On standardized achievement tests
The answer is no mystery
The studio audience joins in:
ASK MR. HISTORY!
It’s great to see all you eager young historians here today.
Now, who has the first question for Mr. History?
A dozen hands shoot up. Hr. History scans the audience, looking at name tags.
Sally Jefferson, what’s your question?
Well, Mr. History, my daddy has an old book I found in the attic
and I was looking through it last night and it said something about “presidential elections.” What are presidential elections?
Gosh, Sally, I’m surprised your father has such a book. It
should have been turned in long ago. But anyway, the
subject is presidential elections. Now, you may find this
hard to believe, but there was a time in America when nearly
all adults, no matter how ignorant or poor or uneducated,
were allowed to vote to choose our president.
The children gasp.
You mean it wasn’t just the Supreme Court?
That’s right, Billy. In fact, as strange as it seems, hundreds
of millions of people actually voted for a person that they
wanted to be president.
Well, I guess you could call it an experiment in democracy.
Even though our founding fathers never intended for
everyone to vote – including women and slaves and
indentured servants and Indians and poor people –
over the course of our history, things just started
getting more and more out of hand and before you knew
it, almost every adult was allowed to vote.
But wasn’t that dangerous? I mean, what if everybody
voted for a bad person?
You’re exactly right, Timmy, it was dangerous. That’s what
Alexander Hamilton meant when he talked about the
“imprudence of democracy.” The truth is, you just can’t
trust most people to make the right kinds of decisions
about what’s best for our country. That’s why we have
So how did these presidential elections work, Mr.
Well, first, the political parties had big meetings called
Sammy Martin nearly flies out of his seat, flinging his hand in the air.
I’ll bet I know what you want to ask, Sammy. You heard
me say “political parties,” didn’t you?
Yes, Mr. History. Did there used to be more than one political party?
As amazing as it sounds, Sammy, yes there did. We used to
have what was called a “two-party” system in our country.
In fact, there were two major parties, the Republicans and
the Democrats, and many small insignificant ones. The two
parties did a pretty good job of keeping democracy from
getting out of hand by doing their best to make sure
that the people who were nominated wouldn’t make any big
changes if they were elected. But once we did away with
elections, we didn’t need any more than the one party
we have now. But before we go on, let’s hear from the folks
who support our program.
An announcer speaks as pictures of purple mountains and amber waves of grain appear on the screen:
Ask Mr. History is made possible by generous grants from
UniGene, your full-service bioengineers. Whether it’s cloning a
dead pet, designing a new baby brother or sister, or growing
popcorn to eat at the movies, remember, why trust nature when
you can trust UniGene?
…And from PetRoXX Corporation, exploring for oil in our national
Parks. PetRoXX – the dinosaurs would have wanted it this way.
… And from viewers like you. Now, back to Ask Mr. History!
OK kids, let’s continue our discussion about presidential elections. Nancy?
Mr. History, when did these presidential elections
Nancy, the last one occurred in the year 2000. That’s the year when George W bush, the grandfather of our current president George Y. Bush, was nearly defeated in the election. It was actually very exciting.
The vote was close and it all came down to which candidate would win Florida. Luckily, George W. Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush, was governor of that sate, and he and his supporters responded to the danger before it was too late. Many of the Florida voters were not, how shall I say this, not the best sort of people and very likely voted for Mr. Bush’s opponent. So Florida election officials did the right thing and mislaid their votes. Of course, Mr. Bush’s opponent contested, but a little more than a month later, the Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, disallowed the challenges and selected Mr. Bush as President. During the next session of Congress, both houses passed a constitutional amendment calling for the Supreme Court to choose the president from then on. Three fourths of the states approved it – Florida was the first – and the rest, as we say,
After we did away with presidential elections, it didn’t take
our leaders long to decide that we really didn’t need elections
of any kind. But Sally, I can tell from your frown that you
want to know more
Gee, Mr. History, I was just thinking, it doesn’t sound like such a
bad idea … elections, I mean. Isn’t that what democracy is
supposed to be about, everybody choosing our leaders?
Sally, Sally, Sally. Sure, democracy is a good thing. So is
ice cream. But too much ice cream can make you sick, and
too much democracy can make our country sick. Remember, I told you that our Founding Fathers, those men who created the greatest democracy on earth, were concerned that only the best, most qualified people lead our country. They didn’t intend for people to vote who
came from bad families, who didn’t have a good education,
who didn’t own land and businesses and factories that give
work to millions. As Tommy said, allowing those kinds of
people to vote would be dangerous. James Madison said it
was the purpose of our government to protect the best people
from everybody else. Remember, it’s those people who own
most of the country and provide your moms and dads with
I don’t know, it just seems like, if everybody has to obey the rules,
everybody should at least have a chance to choose the people who
make the rules.
Do you choose your parents? Do you choose your teachers?
You don’t vote for them, Sally, and yet they always do what’s
best for you. Our leaders are not our equals, Sally, they’re
our betters, like our mothers and fathers. They come from
the very oldest and best families. They go to the best
schools. They know more than we do. And they know each
other. We can trust them to take good care of us. Oh, but I
see its time for one more break before we say goodbye.
Announcer speaks as pictures of Irish dancers appear on the screen:
This is PPBS. Stayed tuned. Coming up next – Riverdance: Generation after Generation after Generation.
OK, kids we have time for one more question before we have
to go. Yes, Sarah?
Mr. History, why did those men in the sunglasses take Sally
Don’t worry, Sarah. They just wanted Sally to show them
the book she was talking about and to have a little talk
with her father. And that’s all we have time for today.
Thanks for being here in the audience, and thanks to all
of you watching us at home. See you next week, same time,
same place. And remember …
If you want to do your best
On standardized achievement tests
The answer is no mystery –
Just ask Mr. History!
Slouching toward Baghdad
Note: It has been reported that George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice pray together every morning.
This… is GNN!
This is Bear Blitzkrieg, reporting live from an undisclosed location in the Middle East. We are here at a secret Allied air base to speak with U.S. military personnel about preparations for the upcoming war against Iraq. With me is F-16 fighter pilot Captain J.O. Nazareth. Thanks for being with us,Captain Nazareth.
Tell me, Captain, how are preparations proceeding?
Well, Bear, in the past few weeks we’ve flown these babies on literally hundreds of training missions under simulated combat conditions, we’ve engaged in countless mock bombardments and air battles, and
we’ve honed our fighting skills to a keen edge.
So you’re ready to go?
We’re ready and eager to engage the enemy.
How about morale?
Morale is great. We’ve got cable TV, plenty of cold beer, and these cool Hummers to drive around in the dunes.
Are you kidding? These Iraqi scumbags don’t scare us. Look at what happened the last time. A couple hundred thousand dead Iraqis and fewer than 150 American deaths, most caused by friendly fire. And just between you and me, Bear, combat pilots don’t make those kinds of dumb mistakes. If last time was a turkey shoot, this is gonna be Slaughterhouse Five.
I’m curious about your name, Captain. Nazareth is a pretty unusual surname. And what do the J and the O stand for?
Capt. Nazareth: Jesus Of
Uh…oh…I…oh, I see, you were named after…
Not named after, Bear. I’m the real deal, the McCoy, one and the same.
You mean … are you saying … are you trying to tell me that you are the actual Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God?
That’s me. The Big Kahuna. El Jéfe. The One and Only Messiah. In the flesh.
So let me get this straight. What you’re saying is, you’ve returned … this is … this is the Second Coming?
You got it.
I … well … I … I’m sure no one every expected Jesus … expected you … to return as a fighter pilot.
Yeah, I know. But who expected a poor Jewish carpenter the first time? I kinda like the surprise aspect of it.
Bear Blitzkrieg: But why have you come back, and why just now?
Well, Bear, one of my jobs in Heaven is to listen to people’s prayers. President Bush has been praying very earnestly for a victory against the evil Saddam Hussein. I thought about it for a while, then decided,
what the hey, why not?
But that doesn’t explain why you returned.
I came back to kick some Iraqi butt. I missed all the fun he last time around and I didn’t want to miss out again.
But … but …. I thought you brought a message of peace and love to the world. What about turn the other cheek and walk the second mile and love your enemies?
Well, heh-heh, if that was the message, Bear, it’s pretty clear that nobody got it. But seriously, Bear, I was 2000 years younger then. I’ve grown a lot in the past two millennia. True, I used to think that peace and love were the answer. But I’m big enough to admit my mistakes. Big enough, hell! I’m infinite! Anyhow, as I watched all these wars being waged in my name over the past couple thousand years, I began to think that either everybody else was wrong, or I was. Finally, the fervent prayers of fine folks like George W. and Condi, and little people in churches all over America convinced me that I needed to rethink. If those folks were going to follow me, I figured I’d better lead them to where they wanted to go.
But why be a fighter pilot instead of, say, President yourself, or at least Jerry Falwell?
Because, as I said, I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. I watched the whole first Gulf War from Heaven. It was particularly thrilling to see these incredible supersonic fighting machines zero in on their targets from unassailable heights and at the same time to see people on the ground scatter in panic like a bunch of crazed ants as the bombs rained down. Then, when the explosions happened, there were arms and legs and torsos and heads flying everywhere. It was way cool.
Did it bother you to think that innocent people might be among those killed?
To be honest, Bear, it did at first. But then I realized, if you want to make a falafel, you’ve got to grind some garbanzos. So now my attitude is, kill ‘em all and let Dad sort ‘em out. He’s good at that.
So you decided to fly an F-16.
Yup. It’s a lean, mean killing machine with all kinds of fabulous technology that is just the bomb to play with. Get it? The bomb? It’s the best video game you’ve ever played times about a million. Plus, I get to hang out with all these baaad dudes who pray to Me and really know how to party.
We’ve been told that this war against Iraq is going to last less than two months. Do you have any plans for what you’ll do after that?
Well, at some point, I’m going to ascend back up into Heaven with 144,000 very special folks of my choosing. But I haven’t decided yet when that will be. Before then, I’d love to get my hands on one of those cool Israeli bulldozers.
Our time is just about up, Captain Nazareth. Any final words for the American people?
Yes. I’d just like everybody to know that I’m back, and I’d like President Bush to know that his prayers have been answered.
Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, a GNN exclusive: the Second Coming of the Messiah. This is Bear Blitzkrieg reporting for Government Network News. Good night, and God bless us.