So it seems that 2006
will be a year of rising international political and economic tensions, played
against the backdrop of a surging China and a weakening United States. In short,
a year of living dangerously.
him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the
War at the Top of the World. See
2006 Eric Margolis
Eric Margolis Archives
Go to the Light!
January 4, 2006
By Sheila Samples
Folks at the White House stay pretty busy these days just trying
to untangle the lies George Bush keeps telling every time he
opens his mouth. For example, back in April 2004, Bush explained
to a cheering audience and an unchallenging press corps in
Buffalo about "eavesdropping" on Americans: "When you think
'Patriot Act,' constitutional guarantees are in place when it
comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland,
because..." he said earnestly while leaning over the podium, his
hand on his heart "...because we value the Constitution."
Bush? I think not. From his actions and manner of speech, it is
doubtful that Bush has read either the U.S. Constitution or the
holy book upon which he placed his hand twice and swore to
preserve, protect and defend it.
After the New York Times reported last week that Bush authorized
the National Security Agency (NSA) to cast a wide net to spy on
American citizens' e-mail and phone calls without seeking
warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
court, Bush went on the offense, saying yeah, he did it, and he
was gonna keep on doing it, cause he was the president and -
like he told the Washington Post's Bob Woodward - that means he
doesn't have to explain to anybody why he does anything.
That apparently includes the FISA court, which has the audacity
to require "probable cause" before approving wiretaps on
American citizens. In Bush's defense, when you're huntin' and
chasin' and smokin' out evil lurkers and plotters and planners,
you don't have time to stop and fill out two or three million
pieces of paper. Like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says,
the Constitution is a quaint little thing, but we live in a new
world order now, and any constraints on "this president" are
just too cumbersome.
In an October speech, Bush said, "Our country is at war, and the
executive branch has an obligation to protect the 'Merican
people. We are aggressively doing that. We are finding the
terrorists and bringing them to justice." Bush paused for
effect, then added, "and anything we do is within the law."
Vice President Dick Cheney agrees. He says they must have
complete control and flexibility and unlimited power, even if
this means they have to make up the law as they go along. While
speeding home from the Middle East in time to break a Senate tie
on a bill that raises Medicaid payments for the poor and elderly
(while at the same time allowing states to cut their Medicaid
services) and cuts child-care payments for social
bottom-feeders, Cheney snarled that there "is a hell of a
threat" out there, and the president's authority under the
Constitution must be "unimpaired."
Cheney says "the vast majority" of Americans support Bush spying
on them, and warned that any "backlash" would not be against
Bush, but against the critics who dared question Bush's illegal
and quite possibly treasonous bits of derring-do. Cheney is
adamant that he - er, Bush - is above any court and outside any
law. Those who disagree can just go (insert word depicting doing
sexual "wild thaing") themselves.
Besides, Cheney might have added, they've been doing it for four
years - collecting information on American citizens by tapping
directly into the U.S. telecommunication system's main arteries
without first getting warrants - and nobody seemed to care.
According to the Times, these corporate behemoths supported and
assisted the spying operation, storing information on citizens'
calling patterns and giving it to Bush since 9-11.
Got that, sports fans? Since 9-11. And the NSA is not the only
one. According to Capital Hill Blue's Doug Thompson, the FBI,
the Department of Homeland Security and "dozens of private
contractors are spying on millions of Americans 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, 365 days a year."
It got so blatant that a former NSA agent who quit in disgust
over use of the agency to spy on Americans, told Thompson,
"We're no longer in the business of tracking our enemies. We're
spying on everyday Americans."
And, when there's treason afoot, one can hardly leave out the
vicious and wacky Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. A
couple of years ago, Rumsfeld had this great idea for not only
spying on Americans, but building a profile on every citizen who
travels, uses credit cards, talks on the telephone or works or
plays on a computer.
He called his new toy the "Total Information Awareness" (TIA)
Program, and put the disgraced Iran-Contra felon John Poindexter
in charge of it. When a furious Congress killed the program,
Rumsfeld said, "Fine. They can have the name." He then moved it
to the Pentagon's covert "black bag" program, out of
Congressional sight or oversight, and renamed it the "Terrorist
Information Awareness" (TIA) system. Thompson says the program
is "alive and well and collecting data in real time on Americans
at a computer center located at 3801 Fairfax Drive in Arlington,
It's difficult to gauge either the height of awareness or the
depth of outrage of the American public because the corporate
media steadfastly refuses to shed even a glimmer of light on the
myriad of scandals this administration is hiding out there in
The shock of 9-11 thrust the people of this country into a
depressing twilight zone, a "loyalty-oath" atmosphere where they
stumble around in the dark, afraid to speak - afraid to think.
Any anger they feel about the president of the United States
committing an impeachable offense by covertly spying on them and
openly admitting it will fade as the media psycho-flogs them
into believing the criminal here is the whistleblower who shone
the light on the illegal surveillance, not the traitor who broke
The irony of Bush, the NSA and Gonzales whipping up a criminal
investigation into who dared tell the public that they were
breaking the law will be lost on far too many Americans. Those
who do understand, yet choose to stand mute and hope for the
best should weigh the loss of their civil liberties against the
violence, murder, vicious lies, and especially the sheer
animosity Bush feels toward all but the wealthiest Americans.
They should take a look at the backgrounds and goals of the
beady-eyed war vultures who control Bush; who are urging him to
destroy everything in his path - not the least of which is the
U.S. Constitution. They should ask themselves what they would do
if they woke up in the middle of the night to find an invader in
their bedrooms, pawing through their personal belongings. Would
they silently bow their heads, or would they turn on the light
and scream bloody murder at the top of their lungs?
Truth doesn't just radiate light - it IS light. If Americans
would raise their heads and look around, they would see there
are flashes of light everywhere - especially on the Internet.
Americans have come to a fork in the road and, like the great
philosopher Yogi Berra once said, they need to take it. They
need to go to the light.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US
Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor
for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at:
Abramoff cash and Bush-Cheney '04: Now who's living in a
As we noted
earlier today, Jack Abramoff wasn't exactly the "equal money
dispenser" the president and the Republican spin machine would
like to make him out to be. As
Bloomberg News does the math, Abramoff gave more than
$127,000 to Republican candidates and committees between 2001
and 2004. His contributions to Democrats and their committees
during those years: Zilch.
In order to make the case that Democrats share the taint of
the disgraced lobbyist and former College Republicans president,
you've got to argue that contributions from Abramoff's
associates and clients carry the same sort of smell as
contributions from Abramoff himself. There may be some truth to
that: If the
allegations against and
admissions by Abramoff are to be believed, he bought off
Republican Rep. Bob Ney using his clients' money as well as his
own. But if that's the argument GOP spinners want to make --
that money from Abramoff's associates and clients is just as
dirty as money from Abramoff himself -- then somebody had better
tell the White House and the spokeswoman for the Republican
National Committee. As the
Associated Press is reporting, Abramoff raised at least
$100,000 for Bush-Cheney '04, but the campaign is giving up only
$6,000 of it -- money contributed by Abramoff, his wife and the
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.
What about the rest of the money -- somewhere around $100,000
that Abramoff raised for the Bush-Cheney campaign but didn't
contribute himself? "At this point, there is nothing to indicate
that contributions from those individual donors represents
anything other than enthusiastic support for the BC-04
reelection campaign," says Republican National Committee
spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.
When checks and balances are quaint
Shortly after the New York Times broke the news that the Bush
administration has been engaged in warrantless spying on American
citizens, the White House assured us all that we had nothing to
worry about: Although the National Security Agency was spying on
Americans in violation of an act of Congress and without a warrant
from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, no eavesdropping
ever occurred unless somebody got approval from a
"shift supervisor" at the NSA first.
We didn't find that entirely comforting: With all due respect to
the middle managers of the federal government, a shift supervisor at
the NSA isn't exactly a disinterested party and isn't much at all
like the impartial federal judges who are supposed to be signing off
on such things. But even if we had been able to get our minds around
the idea of the NSA as some sort of one-stop shopping for the checks
and balances required by the Constitution and the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act, we'd have some additional cause for
concern now: As the
New York Times reports today, officials at the NSA may have
launched at least some aspects of their secret domestic spying
program even before they got approval from George W. Bush.
The revelation is hinted at in some previously classified and
highly redacted correspondence between House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the NSA who is
now Bush's No. 2 intelligence official. In a letter to Hayden
written exactly one month after the attacks of 9/11, Pelosi asked
"whether and to what extent the National Security Agency has
received specific presidential authorization for the operations you
are conducting." Hayden's response: The NSA was acting on its own.
"I used my authorities to adjust NSA's collection and reporting," he
Bush did not sign his executive order authorizing the spying
program until early 2002. In the interim, Congress adopted the
Patriot Act, a measure that, as former NSA chief Bobby Inman notes,
would have been the logical home for congressional authorization for
the domestic spying program if the Bush administration had bothered
to ask Congress for the power it assumed for itself.
Torture ban? What torture ban?
George W. Bush and John McCain went before the TV cameras last month
to say that they'd worked out a deal on the torture ban McCain had
proposed and the White House had long resisted, Bush said that,
together, they had "made it clear to the world that this government does
not torture and that we adhere to the international convention of
torture, whether it be here at home or abroad."
But as the
Boston Globe reports this morning, the president seems to have
undone that rather unequivocal stand when he signed the McCain measure
into law late last week. In his
signing statement, Bush said that he shall "construe" the ban "in a
manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president ...
as commander in chief." That's the same "constitutional authority," you
may recall, that the White House has cited in justifying Bush's decision
to authorize warrantless spying on American citizens in violation of the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
A senior administration official tells the Globe that the White House
considers itself bound by the torture ban but that a situation could
arise in which Bush might decide to disregard it in the interests of
national security. It's an exception that swallows the rule, of course:
Unless U.S. personnel are mistreating detainees solely for sport, isn't
there always a "national security" justification that could be offered
for torturing someone believed to be connected to terrorist activites?
"The whole point of the McCain Amendment was to close every
loophole," Marty Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor and
former Justice Department lawyer, tells the Globe. "The president has
re-opened the loophole by asserting the constitutional authority to act
in violation of the statute where it would assist in the war on
terrorism." NYU law professor David Golove puts its more bluntly: "The
signing statement is saying, 'I will only comply with this law when I
want to, and if something arises in the war on terrorism where I think
it's important to torture or engage in cruel, inhuman, and degrading
conduct, I have the authority to do so and nothing in this law is going
to stop me.'"
Abramoff an "equal money dispenser"? Not exactly
When George W. Bush was asked about Jack Abramoff a couple of
weeks ago, he said: "It seems like to me that he was an equal money
dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political
It might have seemed that way to the president because that's the
spin his party, and more than a few members of the press, continue
to lay out for the public. In a section of its
Web site called "Glass Houses," the National Republican
Senatorial Committee claims that 40 of the 45 Senate Democrats have
"taken money from Abramoff, his associates or his Indian tribe
clients." Appearing on "Hardball" -- where host Chris Matthews has
portrayed corruption as a bipartisan problem -- the New York Times'
Anne Kornblut said last month that Abramoff "donated to Democrats."
Times reports today that while Abramoff is "most closely linked
to Republicans," "many" Democrats "benefited from his largesse." And
Washington Post focuses today on the way in which Republicans
are trying to distance themselves from the disgraced lobbyist, it
warns that "Democrats could be ensnared by the Abramoff case, as
So what's the truth?
So far as anyone can tell -- and the anyones here include the
Bloomberg News and
Media Matters, among others -- Jack Abramoff himself hasn't
given a dime to any Democrat in Congress. That said, Abramoff's
associates and clients have given money to politicians from both
parties. Greenberg Traurig, the law firm for which Abramoff worked,
has doled out money on both sides of the aisle, as have the Indian
tribes Abramoff represented. But as Bloomberg noted, Greenberg
Traurig is a big firm with interests beyond those involving Abramoff.
And some of the political contributions Abramoff's Indian clients
made to Democrats came before Abramoff was representing them; once
Abramoff began lobbying on their behalf, Bloomberg found, the Indian
tribes gave a smaller percentage of their contributions to
What does it mean? As a political matter, the Abramoff scandal
lives in the heart of the GOP. Abramoff is a Republican through and
through -- a former president of the College Republicans, a
Bush-Cheney Pioneer, a close, personal friend of Tom DeLay's -- and
his own campaign contributions reflect that fact. As a legal matter,
the scandal could indeed hurt members of Congress from both parties.
As Abramoff's admissions about his dealings with Ohio Rep. Bob Ney
seem to suggest, you can buy yourself a politician with someone
else's money just as easily as you can buy one with your own.
Dave Barry's year in review
By the way, the president has some truth issues
Lefty bloggers have been making hay for days on the apparent gross
contradiction between what President Bush
said on April 20, 2004 -- "Now, by the way, any time you hear the
United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap
requires a court order" -- and what he actually did: authorize a secret
NSA wiretapping program that required no court review whatsoever.
New York Times article on the ongoing scandal reports Bush's attempt
to explain himself: "I was talking about roving wiretaps, I believe,
involved in the Patriot Act. This is different from the N.S.A. program."
Roving wiretaps authorize law enforcement to listen in on all the
different phones a particular suspect might employ. And they do require
court orders. And a review of the 2004 speech in question does reveal
that Bush made his remarks in the context of a discussion of the Patriot
Act. But as everyone from
Andrew Sullivan to scores of bloggers noted immediately, the clear
import of the president's statement, prefaced with a "by the way" that
seems to flag the words to follow as particularly deserving of the
public's atention, is to reassure his listeners that the United States
government does not operate without following the proper checks and
We now know this to be indisputably false. But it's hard to believe
that anyone could be surprised that the president has been caught in the
middle of another whopper. The same man who said in November that
"we do not torture" heads an administration that has done everything
in its power to ensure that we can torture if and when we please.
Once upon a time, much ink was spilled and much political warfare was
waged over the question of whether a certain president lied about
getting a blow job. Today's new, improved model of president lies about
torture and the secret surveillance of American citizens. That's quite
Tribune Media Services
It was the Year of the Woman. But not in a good way.
Oh, I'm not saying that men did nothing stupid or despicable in 2005. Of
course they did! That's why we call them ``men.''
But women are supposed to be better than men. Women are the backbone of
civilization: They keep families together, nurture relationships, uphold basic
standards of morality and go to the bathroom without making noise. Women
traditionally shun the kinds of pointless, brutal, destructive activities that
so often involve men, such as mass murder and fantasy football.
But not this year. Women got CRAZY this year. Consider some of the more
disturbing stories from 2005, and look at the names connected with them: Martha
Stewart. Judith Miller. Valerie Plame. Jennifer ``Runaway Bride'' Wilbanks.
Paris Hilton. Greta ``All Natalee Holloway, All the Time'' Van Susteren. Harriet
Miers. Katrina. Rita. Wilma. Michael Jackson.
Of course, not all the alarming stories from 2005 involved women. Some of
them involved men, and at least one of those men was named ``Scooter.'' I'll be
honest: I don't really know who ``Scooter'' is, or what he allegedly did. He's
involved in one of those Washington-D.C.-style scandals that are very, very
important, but way too complicated for regular non-Beltway humans to comprehend.
But whatever Scooter allegedly did, it was bad. We know this because pretty
much all the news this year was bad. Oh, sure, there were some positive
developments. Here is a complete list:
• In some areas, the price of gasoline, much
of the time, remained below $5 a gallon.
• Nobody you know caught avian flu. Yet.
• The Yankees once again failed to win the
• Cher actually ended her farewell tour.
That was it for the good news. The rest of 2005 was a steady diet of misery,
horror and despair, leavened occasionally by deep anxiety. So just for fun,
let's take a look back, starting with . . .
. . . JANUARY . . . when President George W. Bush is sworn in for a second
term, pledging in his inauguration speech that, over the next four years, he
will continue, to the best of his ability, trying to pronounce big words. In a
strongly worded rebuttal, the Democratic leadership points out that, when you
get right down to it, there IS no Democratic leadership.
In other government news, President Bush's nominee to be U.S. attorney
general, Alberto Gonzales, undergoes a grueling Senate hearing in which
Democrats probe him repeatedly about his views on torture. At one point the
Democrats threaten that, if Gonzales does not give them the information they
want, they will force him to listen, without ear protection, to a question from
Sen. Joe Biden. ``No!'' screams Gonzales. ``Anything but that!''
Johnny Carson, an oasis of wit in the wasteland, signs off for good.
In sports, the winner of the Orange Bowl -- and thus the national college
football championship -- is Lance Armstrong, who is once again suspected of
being on something.
Meanwhile in Iraq, the first free elections in half a century are held under
tense but generally scary conditions, with more than 8 million Iraqis turning
out to elect a National Assembly, whose idealistic goal, in the coming months,
will be to not get blown up.
But the mood is more upbeat in . . .
. . . FEBRUARY . . . which dawns on a hopeful note in the Middle East, where
Israelis and Palestinians, after decades of bitter violence and short-lived
truces, are finally able to . . .
In other hopeful news, President Bush, seeking to patch up the troubled
relationship between the United States and its European allies, embarks on a
four-nation tour. When critics note that two of the nations are not actually
located in Europe, the White House responds that the president was ``acting on
the best intelligence available at the time.''
In sports, the Super Bowl is held for the first time in Jacksonville, Fla.
Defying critics who mocked it as a backwater hick town, Jacksonville manages to
host a fine event, marred only by the 143 spectators killed or wounded during
the halftime raccoon shoot.
On the social front, Prince Charles gets formally engaged to Camilla Parker
Bowles. The British public responds with sincere and heartfelt wishes that the
happy couple will not reproduce.
A study by researchers at the University of Utah proves what many people have
long suspected: Everybody talking on a cell phone, except you, is a moron.
Meanwhile, as the nationwide identity-theft epidemic worsens, FBI Director
Robert S. Mueller III pledges that he will make it the top priority of the
Bureau to find, and prosecute, the individuals charging stuff to his American
Speaking of financial hanky-panky, in . . .
. . . MARCH . . . a federal jury convicts former WorldCom executive Bernie
Ebbers in connection with an $11 billion fraud that led to the bankruptcy of the
telecom giant. Upon Ebbers' arrival at the federal prison, nearly $7 billion is
recovered during what shaken guards later describe as ``the cavity search from
In economic news, financially troubled Delta Airlines announces that it will
no longer offer pillows on its flights, because passengers keep eating them. But
the economy gets a boost when the jobless rate plummets, as hundreds of
thousands of unemployed cable-TV legal experts are hired to comment on the trial
of Michael Jackson. Jackson is charged with 10 counts of being a space-alien
freakadelic weirdo. Everybody agrees this will be very difficult to prove in
In a related story, a California jury finds that actor Robert Blake did not
kill his wife. The jury also rules that John Wilkes Booth had nothing to do with
the Lincoln assassination, and that bears do not poop in the woods. In other
celebrity legal news, Martha Stewart is released from prison. The next morning,
in a chilling coincidence, all of the witnesses who testified against Martha
wake up and discover, to their utter horror, that their sheets no longer match
Meanwhile in Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives takes time out
from jacking up the deficit to look into the baffling mystery of whether
professional baseball players suddenly develop gigantic muscles because they use
steroids, or what. Former St. Louis Cardinals star Mark McGwire, who broke the
major-league record for most home runs in a single season, arouses suspicions
when he repeatedly denies, under oath, that he ever played professional
baseball. Slugger Sammy Sosa also heatedly denies allegations of steroid use,
emphasizing his point by pounding the witness table into tiny splinters. There
are no questions.
But the major issue facing our elected leaders in March clearly is not
whether a bunch of overpaid athletes cheated. No, at a time when the nation is
beset by serious problems in so many critical areas -- including Iraq,
terrorism, the economy, energy, education and health care -- the issue that
obsesses our elected leaders to the point of paralyzing government at the
federal, state and local levels for weeks, is: Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.
This, unfortunately, is not a joke.
In entertainment news, controversial anchorman Dan Rather retires from CBS
News with a poignant farewell speech, cut short when Dan is felled by a
tranquilizer dart fired by his producer.
Speaking of people who read from TelePrompTers, in . . .
. . . APRIL . . . President Bush, in a decisive response to sharply rising
gasoline prices, delivers a major speech proposing that Americans switch to
nuclear-powered cars. In a strongly worded rebuttal, angry Congressional
Democrats state that, because of a scheduling mix-up, they missed the
president's speech, but whatever he said, they totally disagree with it, and if
they once voted in favor of it, they did so only because the president lied to
In other Washington news, the U.S. Senate approves the appointment of John
Negroponte to become the nation's first intelligence czar. His immediate task is
to locate his office, which, according to a dossier compiled by the CIA, FBI,
NSA and military intelligence, is, quote, ``probably somewhere in the United
States or Belgium.''
In Rome, the College of Cardinals gathers following the death of beloved Pope
John Paul II. As the world waits breathlessly, the cardinals, after two days of
secret deliberations, order white smoke to be sent up the Sistine Chapel
chimney, signaling that they have made their decision: Robert Blake is
In sports, Tiger Woods claims his fourth Masters title with a dramatic
playoff win over a surprisingly dogged Lance Armstrong.
As April draws to a close, the nation focuses its eyeballs on bride-to-be
Jennifer Wilbanks, whose claim that she was abducted just before her wedding is
undermined by a widely circulated photo of her in which her pupils appear to be
the size of dinner plates. When it becomes clear that nothing actually happened
-- that there was no abduction, and that Wilbanks is basically just a troubled
person -- the news media drop the story and move on to more important matters.
Ha ha! Seriously, as April morphs into . . .
. . . MAY . . . the Runaway Bride story totally dominates the news, becoming
so gigantically huge that some cable-TV news shows are forced to divert precious
resources from the Michael Jackson trial. But in the end sanity prevails, and
Wilbanks is forced to accept responsibility for the trouble she has caused,
ultimately selling media rights to her story for a reported $500,000.
In other show-business news, millions of middle-aged people without dates wet
their Luke-Skywalker-model underpants with joy as they view the final
installment of the beloved Star Wars series, ``Star Wars: Episode MXCVII: Enough
Already.'' Fans hail it as the least tedious Star Wars in decades; many are
stunned by the surprise ending, when it turns out that Darth Vader is actually
Tom Cruise, seeking to counter the increasingly widespread view that he is an
orbiting space module, jumps up and down on Oprah's couch.
Elsewhere abroad, European Union leaders are stunned when the proposed EU
constitution is overwhelmingly rejected by French voters, who apparently do not
care for the Deodorant Clause. President Bush visits Russia for an important
photo opportunity, after which he describes Russia as ``a foreign country where
they speak Russian,'' an assertion that is immediately challenged by
In media news, the editor of Newsweek magazine retracts a report that guards
at the Guantanamo Bay prison flushed a Koran down a toilet in front of a Muslim
detainee. ``It turns out,'' the editor states, ``that it was actually the
detainee who was flushed down the toilet. Boy is our face red!''
But the biggest media shocker occurs when ``Deep Throat,'' the
Watergate-scandal source whose identity has been a tantalizing secret for more
than 30 years, is finally revealed -- in a stunning and unforgettable
development that sends shock waves of shock throughout the world -- to be . . .
Let me just check Google here . . . OK, it was some guy nobody ever heard of.
But it was totally unexpected.
Speaking of unexpected, in . . .
. . . JUNE . . . a California jury acquits Michael Jackson on all charges of
everything, including any crimes he may or may not commit in the future. ``We
simply felt that the prosecution did not prove its case,'' states the jury
foreman, Robert Blake. Jackson announces that he no longer feels welcome in the
United States and will move to another dimension.
In disturbing medical news, a new study of 1,000 Americans finds that obesity
in the United States has gotten so bad that there actually were, upon closer
scrutiny, only 600 Americans involved in the study.
Meanwhile, the U.S. film industry, in the midst of the worst box-office slump
in 20 years, looks for possible explanations as to why Americans are not
flocking to movie theaters. In a totally unrelated development, ``The Adventures
of Sharkboy and Lavagirl'' opens nationwide, to be followed in coming months by
``The Dukes of Hazzard'' and ``Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo.''
Israeli and Palestinian leaders reach an agreement under which Israel will
withdraw its settlers from the Gaza strip, arousing peace hopes in amnesia
victims everywhere. In response to this historic development, Fox News Person
Greta Van Susteren heads for Aruba to report personally on the Natalee Holloway
Hurricane season officially begins, with a spokesman for the National
Hurricane Center warning that, quote, ``This could be one of the most active
sEEEEEEEEE. . . '' His body is never found.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a Solomonic ruling on a display of the Ten
Commandments at the Texas Capitol, allows the display to remain, but orders the
state to correct all 137 spelling errors. The Supreme Court remains in the news
in . . .
. . . JULY . . . when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announces her retirement,
setting off a heated debate between right-wing groups, who think the president
should appoint a conservative to replace her, and left-wing groups, who think
the president should drop dead. Eventually Bush nominates a man going by the
moniker of ``John Roberts,'' who, in the tradition of recent Supreme Court
nominees, refuses to reveal anything about himself, and wears a Zorro-style mask
to protect his secret identity. In response, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary
Committee, led by Sen. Joe Biden, vow to, quote, ``get on television a LOT.''
But the juiciest story by far in Washington is the riveting scandal involving
New York Times reporter Judy Miller, who is jailed for refusing to answer
questions before a grand jury called by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald,
who is trying to find out whether the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame was leaked
to columnist Robert Novak by an administration source such as presidential
confidants Karl Rove or Ari Fleischer, or Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, chief of
staff to vice president Dick ``Dick'' Cheney, in an effort to discredit Plame's
husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, in connection with the use of
allegedly unreliable documents concerning . . . Hey! Wake up! This is important!
The troubled U.S. manned-space flight program hits yet another snag when,
moments before the ``return to space'' launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, a
technician notices that the shuttle and its booster rockets are pointed at the
ground, instead of space. The launch is delayed for several days while workers
repaint the ``THIS SIDE UP'' arrows.
In weather news, the formation of Hurricane Dennis is followed closely by the
formation of Hurricane Emily, arousing suspicions among some staffers at
headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that hurricane
season might be going on. It is agreed that somebody probably should look into
this and write a report no later than Halloween.
Abroad, the news from London is grim as four terrorist bombs wreak deadly
havoc on the city's transit systems, prompting Greta Van Susteren to do a series
of urgent personal reports from Aruba on how these attacks could affect the
investigation into the Natalee Holloway disappearance.
In sports, Lance Armstrong rides down the Champs-Elysees, raising his arms in
a triumphant gesture, which causes the French army to surrender instantly.
No, sorry; that was a cheap shot. One unit held out for nearly an hour.
In book news, millions of youngsters snap up the latest in the Harry Potter
series, ``Harry Potter Must Be Like 32 Years Old By Now.'' The book has a
surprise plot twist that upsets some fans: Beloved Hogwarts headmaster, Albus
Dumbledore, is killed by Severus Snape, who, moments later, is acquitted by a
Speaking of surprises that nobody could have predicted, in . . .
. . . AUGUST . . . Baltimore Orioles star Rafael Palmeiro, who vigorously
denied steroid use when he testified before Congress in March, is forced to
change his story when, in the seventh inning of a game against Cleveland, both
of his forearms explode.
In other news, South Korean scientists -- I am not making this item up --
clone a dog. This one is too easy.
In Washington, President Bush bypasses Congress with a recess appointment of
his controversial nominee John Bolton, to be U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations. Bolton immediately signals a new tone in American diplomacy by punching
out the ambassador from Yemen in a dispute involving the U.N. cafeteria salad
In other foreign-policy news, the Rev. Pat Robertson states on his Christian
Broadcasting Network show that the U.S. should assassinate Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez. Responding to harsh criticism, the Rev. Robertson retracts this
statement several days later with the explanation, ``Evidently I am a raving
On the economic front, there is bad news and good news. The bad news is,
gasoline prices are reaching $3 a gallon. The good news is, with the
manufacturer's rebate, you can buy a new Hummer for $167.
But by far the biggest story in August is Hurricane Katrina, a massive,
deadly storm that thrashes Florida, then heads into the Gulf of Mexico. For
decades, experts have been warning that such a storm, if it were to hit New
Orleans, would devastate the city; now it becomes clear that this is exactly
what is about to happen. For days, meteorologists are on television warning,
dozens of times per hour, that Katrina will, in fact, hit New Orleans with
devastating results. Armed with this advance knowledge, government officials at
the local, state and federal levels are in a position to be totally, utterly
shocked when Katrina -- of all things -- devastates New Orleans. For several
days, chaos reigns, with most of the relief effort taking the form of Geraldo
Rivera, who, by his own estimate, saves more than 170,000 people.
FEMA director Michael Brown, after conducting an aerial survey, reports that
``the situation is improving,'' only to be informed that the area he surveyed
was actually Phoenix. For her part, Greta Van Susteren personally broadcasts
many timely reports from Aruba on how the Katrina devastation will affect the
ongoing Natalee Holloway investigation.
It is not until . . .
. . . SEPTEMBER . . . that the full magnitude of the New Orleans devastation
sinks in, and local, state and federal officials manage to get their act
together and begin the difficult, painstaking work of blaming each other for
screwing up. Urged on by President Bush, Congress votes to spend what could wind
up being more than $200 billion to repair the Gulf Coast and fix up New Orleans,
so that it will be just as good as new when the next devastating hurricane
With the horror of Katrina fresh in everyone's mind, a new hurricane, Rita,
draws a bead on the Gulf Coast, causing millions of panicky Texans to get into
their cars and flee an average distance of 150 feet before they become stuck in
a monster traffic jam, where some remain for more than 12 hours. ``It was
hell,'' reports one traumatized victim. ``The classic rock station played
`Daydream Believer' like 53 freaking times.''
President Bush, after an aerial tour of the devastated region, tells
reporters that he always kind of liked ``Daydream Believer.''
In non-hurricane news, the Senate confirms the Supreme Court nominee known as
``John Roberts'' after the Judiciary Committee spends several fruitless days
trying to trick him into expressing an opinion by asking such trap questions as
``Can you tell us the capital of Vermont and your views on abortion?'' The only
moment of drama comes when Sen. Joe Biden launches into his opening remarks,
thus causing several committee members, who forgot to insert earplugs, to lapse
In international news, North Korea, following months of negotiations with the
United States and other concerned nations, agrees to stop producing nuclear
weapons, in exchange for one of those new iPods. The United Nations Security
Council censures John Bolton for giving noogies to the ambassador from Sweden.
Speaking of appointees, in . . .
. . . OCTOBER . . . President Bush, needing to make another appointment to
the Supreme Court, conducts a thorough and painstaking investigation of every
single woman lawyer within an 8-foot radius of his desk. He concludes that the
best person for the job is White House Counsel Harriet Miers, who, in the
tradition of such legendary justices as Felix Frankfurter, Louis Brandeis and
Oliver Wendell Holmes, is a carbon-based life form.
Ultimately Miers withdraws her name. The president, after conducting another
exhaustive search, decides to appoint ```John Roberts'' again, because it worked
out so well the first time. Informed by his aides that there could be some legal
problem with this tactic, the president finally decides to nominate Samuel
Alito. Democrats immediately announce that they strongly oppose Alito and intend
to do some research soon to find out why.
In Congress, Tom DeLay's ethical woes worsen as he is indicted on additional
charges of hijacking a train.
As fears of a worldwide avian flu epidemic mount, the surgeon general warns
Americans against having unprotected sex with birds. Fortunately there is no
sign yet of the deadly disease on Aruba, thus allowing the Natalee Holloway
investigation to continue unimpeded, according to on-the-scene reporter Greta
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein goes on trial, facing charges of genocide,
human-rights violations, and failure to pay more than $173 billion in parking
tickets. In his opening statement, the defiant former dictator tells the court
he intends to prove that these crimes were actually committed by Tom DeLay.
In sports, the National Hockey League, amid much hoopla, resumes play,
fueling rumors that the league must have, at some point, stopped playing.
Immediately dozens of fights break out, all of them won by Lance Armstrong.
Speaking of conflict, in . . .
. . . NOVEMBER . . . Americans find themselves heatedly debating a difficult
question: Is it truly in the nation's best interests for its citizens to be
fighting, and suffering heavy casualties, to achieve the elusive -- some say,
impossible -- goal of buying a laptop computer marked down to $300 at Wal-Mart
the day after Thanksgiving? For many Americans, the answer is a resounding
``yes,'' as they observe the official start of the Christmas shopping season at
5 a.m. on Nov. 25 with the traditional Trampling of the Elderly Slow-Moving
Shoppers, while the mall p.a. system interrupts ``O Come, All Ye Faithful'' with
urgent requests for paramedics. The season's hottest gift is the Microsoft Xbox
360 gaming system, which is in big demand because (a) it's really cool, and (b)
Microsoft apparently made, like, three of them.
Also heating up in November is the debate over Iraq, with even Vice President
Dick Cheney joining in, fueling rumors that he is still alive. President Bush
makes a series of strong speeches, stating that while he ``will not impugn the
patriotism'' of those who oppose his administration's policies, they are
``traitor scum.'' This outrages congressional Democrats, who respond with a
two-pronged strategy of ¹ demanding that the troops be brought home, and ²
voting overwhelmingly against a resolution to bring the troops home.
TRUE ITEM: During the debate on Iraq, Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) calls
U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) ``a Howdy Doody-looking nimrod.''
Tom DeLay is indicted for cattle rustling.
Abroad, unemployed ghetto youths in France go on a weeks-long rampage,
burning thousands of cars to express their view that being an unemployed French
ghetto youth sucks. Outraged, French President Jacques Chirac announces that, as
a precautionary move, he is relocating the army to Belgium.
In one of the month's more bizarre stories, a luxury cruise ship off the
coast of Somalia is attacked by pirates in inflatable boats. The pirates are
armed with machine guns and grenade launchers; unfortunately for them, the
passengers are armed with cruise-ship food. The pirates barely escape with their
lives under a deadly hail of falling entrees, including slabs of prime rib the
size of queen mattresses.
ABSOLUTELY TRUE NOVEMBER ITEM: Michael ``Heckuva Job'' Brown, who
resigned after being harshly criticized for his performance as FEMA director
following Katrina, announces that he is starting a consulting business that will
-- you are going to think I am making this up, but I am not -- advise clients on
preparing for disasters.
And ``disaster'' is clearly the word for . . .
. . . DECEMBER . . . which begins on a troubling economic note, as General
Motors, the world's largest auto maker, announces that, despite a massive
program of rebates, zero-interest financing, employee discounts, lifetime
mechanical warranties and dealer incentives, it has not actually sold a car
since March of 1998. ````We're in real trouble,'' states troubled CEO Rick
Wagoner, adding, ``Even I drive a Kia.''
In other troubling financial news, Delta Air Lines announces a plan to
convert its entire fleet of planes to condominiums. Within hours, the housing
The hurricane season, which has produced so many storms that the National
Weather Service is now naming them after fraternities, fails to end as
scheduled, as yet another hurricane, Epsilon, forms in the Atlantic. The good
news is that Epsilon poses no threat whatsoever to land. The bad news is, it
still manages to knock out power to most of South Florida.
In politics, Republicans and Democrats debate the war in Iraq with increasing
bitterness, although both sides agree on the critical importance, with American
troops in harm's way, of continuing to jack up the deficit. Tom DeLay flees to
California, where a friendly jury agrees to hide him in the barn until things
Abroad, Western nations become increasingly suspicious that Iran is
developing nuclear weapons when a giant mushroom cloud rises over the Iranian
desert. The Iranian government quickly issues a statement explaining that the
cloud was caused by, quote, ``mushrooms.'' As a precautionary measure, France
Greta Van Susteren is elected prime minister of Aruba.
As the troubled year draws to a troubling close, yet another hurricane, Kappa
Sigma Gamma, forms in the South Atlantic, threatening to blast the U.S. mainland
with a load of energy that, according to the National Hurricane Center, is the
equivalent of 17 trillion six packs of Bud Light. On an even more ominous note,
officials of the World Health Organization reveal that -- in what disease
researchers have been calling ``the nightmare scenario'' -- a mad cow has become
infected with bird flu. ``We don't want to cause panic,'' state the officials,
``but we give the human race six weeks, tops.''
So, OK, we're doomed. But look at the upside: If humanity becomes extinct,
there's a chance that Paris Hilton will, too. So put on your party hat, raise
your champagne glass, and join with me in this festive toast: Happy New Year!
Or however long it lasts.
January 7, 2006
Heck of a Job, Hayden!
by Ray McGovern
The eavesdropping-on-Americans scandal came as
shock and betrayal to most employees of the National Security Agency – and to
other intelligence officers, active and retired.
The idea that the once highly respected former director of NSA, Gen. Mike
Hayden, had allowed himself to be seduced into sinning against NSA's first
commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Spy on Americans," was initially met with
incredulity. Sadly, no other conclusion became possible as we watched Hayden and
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spin and squirm before the press on December
19 in their transparent attempt to square a circle.
For many of us veteran intelligence officers, the press conference put a
damper on the Christmas spirit. The Gonzales-Hayden pas de deux should trouble
other Americans as well, because the malleable Gen. Hayden, now bedecked with a
fourth star, is Deputy Director of National Intelligence – the second highest
official in the US intelligence community. Only time will tell what other
extralegal activities he will condone.
The framers of the US Constitution must have been turning in their graves on
December 19 as they watched Gonzales and Hayden defend the eavesdropping –
especially as the two grappled with the $64 million question: Instead of simply
flouting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), why didn't the
administration ask Congress to change it, if the law really needed to be made
less restrictive? (And that remains a big "if.")
Well-briefed by executive branch lawyers, Gonzales recited "our legal
analysis – our position" that Congress's authorization of force in the wake of
9/11 gave the president the right to disregard FISA's prohibition, absent a
court order, against using NSA to eavesdrop on Americans. This "position," of
course, is quite a stretch; even the regime-friendly Washington Post has termed
it "impossible to believe" the government's contention. While reading from his
script, the Attorney General presented his case as well as it could be argued,
but twice he slipped while answering a question as to why the administration
decided to disregard the FISA law rather than try to amend it.
Letting the Cat out of the Bag
Asked why the administration had decided to take
a "backdoor approach," Gonzales twice let the cat out of the bag:
"We have had discussions with Congress – as to whether or not FISA could be
amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were
advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible."
They went ahead and did it anyway.
Gen. Hayden's remarks were equally intriguing, as he repeatedly emphasized
the need for "speed and agility." Describing the current eavesdropping effort as
a "more aggressive program than would be traditionally available under FISA," he
seemed equally at pains to stress that the program deals only with international
calls for short periods of time. He is saying, in other words, that US citizens
are monitored only sometimes – and just a little, so we're dealing with only
tiny incompatibilities with the FISA law – and, anyhow, the president has said
he has the authority anyway. New York Times reporter James Risen, who
broke the story on NSA eavesdropping on Americans, says the communications of
"roughly 500 people in the US have been intercepted every day over the past
three or four years," which hardly jibes with the impression that Hayden seems
to be trying to foster.
As for speed and flexibility, Hayden knows, better than virtually anyone
else, that both are already built into the FISA law, which allows the government
to begin eavesdropping immediately, as long as it sends catch-up paperwork to
the FISA court within 72 hours. His acquiescence in administration instructions
to make an end-run around FISA is a serious blow to the morale of those
thousands who once worked for Hayden – and had admired him – as director of NSA,
as well as to thousands of other intelligence officers, past and present, hoping
against hope for more integrity at senior levels.
Appearing Tuesday on Democracy Now!, former NSA
officer Russell Tice talked about NSA's ethos regarding eavesdropping on US
"A SIGINT [signals intelligence] officer [is] taught from very early on in
their careers that you just do not do this. This is probably the number one
commandment – you do not spy on Americans. It is drilled into our head over and
over again in security briefings at least twice a year, where you ultimately
have to sign a paper that says you have gotten the briefing. Everyone at NSA,
who's a SIGINT officer knows that you do not do this – Apparently the leaders of
NSA have decided that they were just going to go against the tenets of something
that's gospel to a SIGINT officer – Hayden knew that this was illegal."
Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (ret.) was assigned to NSA headquarters
in the late nineties while working for Gen. Hayden, who was then head of the Air
Force Intelligence Agency. At that time she – like others – had a favorable
impression of Hayden and was therefore stunned upon learning of his acquiescence
in, and rationalization of, eavesdropping on Americans. In a recent
conversation, Karen used as an analogy what Gen. Brent Scowcroft said recently
about Dick Cheney, with whom he had worked for many years – "I don't know Dick
Cheney." As for her, said Karen, "I don't know Gen. Hayden."
Cancer Metastasizes at the Top
It does not seem so very long ago that John Dean
saw fit to warn President Richard Nixon that there was a "cancer on the
presidency." Now prevalent among top Bush administration officials is a two-fold
malady. One – GAGA (Go-Along-to-Get-Along) – has been around a long time. The
other might be called "Colin Cancer," after former secretary of state and
chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell.
At Christmas, the still unrepentant Powell came out of limbo, just before the
Vatican closed it down. Once again he was feted in the indiscriminate mainstream
media, which has decided to forgive and forget his unconscionable role in
spreading a trumped-up justification for what he well knew was an unprovoked war
(not to mention the media's complicity in that same deceit). Powell's claims
that he had no information that there were doubts regarding weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq are demonstrable lies.
Has he forgotten the strong doubt expressed by chief UN inspector Hans Blix
and his people on the ground in Iraq, who enjoyed virtually unfettered access in
the months immediately before the US/UK attack on March 19, 2003, and who
pleaded in vain to be allowed to continue their search for WMD? Does he not
remember that his own intelligence analysts at State had warned him time and
time again of the bogus "intelligence" reports being manufactured at the
Pentagon and the aiming-to-please analysis being served up at CIA? (Much of this
is documented in the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee of July 2004.)
Heck of a job, Colin!
And is it not curious that Powell "forgot" to take his own intelligence
analysts along with him to CIA headquarters for those (in)famous four days and
nights of preparation for his shameful performance at the UN on February 5,
2003, and that he neglected to heed his analysts' warnings about the falsehoods
and hyperbole they had seen in early drafts of that speech?
Sorry, but I find it impossible to feel sorry for Colin Powell as he laments
the fact that his UN speech left a "blot" on his record. What about the blot it
put on the reputation of the United States? What about the 2,200 US servicemen
and women who have died in Iraq – not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi
civilians killed because he, and those like him, lacked to guts to shake off the
GAGA syndrome and try to halt the march of folly? Powell was one of the very few
who might have stopped it.
True to character, Powell continues to march in lockstep with the president,
telling ABC last week that he saw "nothing wrong with the president authorizing"
warrant-less eavesdropping, which, Powell added, "should continue." As for the
missing weapons of mass destruction, Powell insisted to George Stephanopoulos:
"Some of the intelligence was right. There's no question that Saddam Hussein had
the intention of having such weapons." It is a very old, tiresome chestnut; but
George just smiled sweetly, not willing to challenge the matinee idol.
Suffice it to say that Powell's chutzpah and the continued lionization of him
in the media give very poor example for younger generals, most of whom lack
antibodies for GAGA – which, in turn, makes them all the more susceptible to
Colin cancer. What the Haydens of this world need is positive example, but
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has assembled a coterie of star-studded sycophants.
Joint Chiefs chair Marine Gen. Peter Pace did summon the courage recently to
correct Rumsfeld and insist that our troops are required to stop the torture
they witness, not simply to "report" it. We shall have to see how long Pace
lasts in the job.
Hope in Whistleblowers
The good news is that truth tellers (also known
as leakers) have stopped being intimidated and are doing their patriotic duty.
The New York Times's James Risen, who first revealed the program allowing
eavesdropping on Americans, has emphasized that this is the "purest case of
whistleblowers coming forward" that he has encountered in his 25 years as a
reporter. According to Risen, many of then were "tormented by their knowledge"
of the way the Bush administration was "skirting the law." "Something was wrong
– and they came forward, I believe, simply to make the public aware of this,"
said Risen who, appropriately, calls the truth tellers "patriots."
Risen pointed out that these are people involved in the day-to-day struggle
to defeat terrorism and who have intimate knowledge of the issues. "They came to
us because they thought you have to follow the rules and you have to follow the
Risen's sources, of course, are the very people the Justice Department has
launched a major investigation to apprehend and, as the saying goes, "bring to
January 05, 2006
By: Molly Ivins
MY THEORY is that they don’t tell him anything, that’s why the president
keeps sounding like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
There he was at Brooke Army Medical Center over the weekend, once again
getting it wrong: “I can say that if somebody from al-Qaida’s calling you, we’d
like to know why. In the meantime, this program is conscious of people’s civil
liberties, as am I. This is a limited program ... I repeat, limited. And it’s
limited to calls from outside the United States, to calls within the United
So then the White House had to go back and explain that, well, no, actually,
the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program is not limited to calls
from outside the United States, or to calls from people known or even suspected
of being with al-Qaida. Turns out thousands of Americans and resident foreigners
have been or are being monitored and recorded by the NSA. It’s more like
information-mining, which is what, you may recall, the administration said it
would not do. But now Bush has to investigate The New York Times because Bush
has been breaking the law, you see?
I really don’t think he’d sound like an idiot if they kept him informed. He
would, however, still sound like a kid trying to get out of trouble by tattling
on something Billy did: “My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for
someone to disclose this very important program [the NSA surveillance program]
in a time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the
There he goes again. He is being deceitful and insincere. Bush and Co. have
broken the law, and furthermore, it was completely unnecessary to do so. The
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is not a hindrance to tracking down al-Qaida
— every objection to its requirements is easily refuted.
So Bush breaks a law he didn’t remotely need to and then denounces anyone who
discusses this as helping the enemy. Come on. It’s so stupid. The choice is not
between a police state and another al-Qaida attack. (Speaking of disingenuous,
if you wanted to make this country safer from terrorist attack, you’d do a lot
better to trade in the NSA spy program for some sensible precautions at chemical
plants, or making the Department of Homeland Security into something resembling
an effective agency.)
I love the way we always start secret spy programs with great vows that the
information shall be guarded and the innocent protected — and it turns out one
of the first to make use of the NSA program for his own purposes was that
parfait, gentil soul of discretion John Bolton, the Godzilla diplomat. Came out
during his confirmation hearings: Bolton — no one’s idea of a judicious,
reticent man — called on the NSA 10 times to identify sources he wanted the
names of, presumably in connection with NSA’s shamelessly undercover spying on
the United Nations just before the Iraq War started.
Now, look at how this stuff spreads. We’re only talking about the NSA, a
top-security spy agency, super-secret — surely it can hang onto information
without having it leak all over hell and gone, right? Wrong. Also in the
business of spying on American citizens are the Pentagon, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and dozens of private
Do you remember a parlor game that was popular a few years ago called “Six
Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The game was to name any actor and then see who could
connect him to the actor Kevin Bacon in the least number of moves. For example,
Elvis Presley: Presley once appeared in a film with Ed Asner, Ed Asner later
appeared in a film with Kevin Bacon, therefore Presley has a Bacon score of two.
How long do you think it would take to connect you to Osama bin Laden?
Another reason to be deeply worried about a huge domestic spying operation is
that it will inevitably be manned by nincompoops. Just take, for example, this
lovely 2003 memo from an FBI agent railing at what he perceived as the dreadful
restraints by John Ashcroft’s Justice Department: “While radical militant
librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from [Justice’s] failure to
let us use the tools given to us.”
Yep, time after time, it’s those radical militant librarians impeding those
pitiful, helpless agents at the FBI.
Speaking of helpless FBI agents, in a recent column I misattributed the FBI’s
fine program of spying on vegans and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
to the NSA. I’m sure both agencies would appreciate a correction.
P.S. — You can always suggest to the radical militant librarians that instead
of saying, “Shhhh!’ they yell, “Shut up!”
Ivins is a syndicated columnist.