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"Nervous Times"

Songster Tom Lehrer, almost 40 years ago, referred to the year 1965 as "a nervous year," what with LBJ practicing "escalatio" on the Vietnamese. A well-intentioned Chinese greeting is, "May you live in interesting times." We're certainly doing that -- I'd say we are living in "nervous times." Three major concerns come to mind.

[1] Weapons of Mass Destruction. Evidently the acting president lied about Iraq's WMD's. We went to war in order to find them and destroy them, but they didn't exist. Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea may be in the process of building nuclear weapons. "Proliferation" is in the news, a notion Tom Lehrer sang about way back then:

" -- Israel wants a bomb.
'The Lord's our shepherd,' says the psalm,
But just in case, we're gonna get a bomb!
Egypt wants to get one, too,
Just to use on You-know-who..."
Israel did get several atomic bombs, but so far as we know, Egypt did not. Israel has recently received the first of 102 American-built F-16I warplanes, specially designed with extra fuel tanks to allow them to reach Iran. A deal has been signed by which Israel gets nearly 5,000 U.S. made smart bombs, including 500 "bunker busters," reported AP in The Albuquerque Tribune.

Concern about proliferation of WMD's is a little puzzling. Why is it O.K. for Israel to have nuclear bombs, but not any of Israel's neighbors? And why is it O.K. for the U.S.A. to have 4000 of them, and to repudiate the non-proliferation treaty, and to prepare for the invention and manufacture of an entire generation of new ones, not for deterrence but for actual use, while we dictate that others may not have any? We say we're afraid these weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists. They are already in the hands of terrorists. Pre-emptive war, conducted mainly through air and missile strikes, is terrorism.

Inspectors from international organizations are sent to hot spots from time to time. Why aren't they crawling all over Los Alamos and Albuquerque? We know they're inventing and making WMD's in there -- let's find out exactly what is going on, and get it stopped. The tough-guy stance, which has been the norm so far, simply enlarges the problem.

[2] Global Warming. Don't fail to read, and look at the pictures in, the cover story of the September, 2004, National Geographic Magazine. There you will find chapter and verse, from scientists. The attempts of the oil companies and the government of the acting president to pretend that "science" doesn't think global warming is for real are no longer working. The rest of the world is already quite convinced. Four hurricanes in six weeks may help convince Florida. The longer this country delays any serious attempt to deal with global warming, the worse the results will get for more and more people. This country contributes most of the man-made causes of global warming, the emission of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuel.

[3] Fascism. Jay Evans found this material at the website of Free Inquiry derived by Lawrence Britt from his studies of five Fascist regimes:

Hitler [Germany]
Mussolini [Italy]
Franco [Spain]
Suharto [Indonesia]
Pinochet [Chile]
He found that these regimes had fourteen things in common:
1) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism,
2) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights,
3) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause,
4) Supremacy of the Military,
5) Rampant Sexism,
6) Controlled Mass Media,
7) Obsession with National Security,
8) Religion and Government are Intertwined,
9) Corporate Power is Protected,
10) Labor Power is Suppressed,
11) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts,
12) Obsession with Crime and Punishment,
13) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption,
14) Fraudulent Elections.

Last night, while many were watching the presidential "debates," we helped fill a theater for a live performance of Cabaret. I have had more people express concern to me about a Fascist takeover here, far more than those who indicate approval and support of the acting president. I have to conclude that the polls are in error, perhaps merely wrong, but more likely deliberately false. This morning we learn that Kerry "won" that first debate -- so we are allowing ourselves to be hopeful. But Sally Bowles' exclamation in the play, Cabaret, still rings in our ears: "Oh, that's politics! What has that to do with us?"

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Copyright © 2004 Harry Willson

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