P&J wonder why Americans are so worried by Cat Stevens look-a-like
Osama bin Laden and his followers, especially after reading the view that some
Afghans have of this homicidal maniac. Haji Sali Muhammad, described by the
New York Times as "the eminence among the money lenders" in Jalalabad,
outside Kabul, near the Pakistan border, said it was up to the US to prove bin
Laden is guilty, and "the court will decide what to do with Osama, cut off his
head or whatever. I should think that would satisfy the Americans." Not too bad
an idea there, Haji, old man.
Meanwhile, another Afghan interviewed by the Times had an equally good
idea for avoiding a confrontation with the US military: " `Why not just kill
Mr. bin Laden and toss his body across the border,' one man suggested." OK,
start lobbing those bodies out, boys. We'll tell you when we've got enough.
Government intelligence = oxymoron
Once things have settled down in Washington and across the country, we
certainly hope the members of Congress will have a good, long public chat with
CIA director George Tenet and FBI head honcho Robert Mueller. The topic? How
astonishingly in the dark our extremely well-funded intelligence agencies were
when it came to predicting or preventing the plane hijackings that precipitated
our recent horror.
One would hope and expect that the CIA would take it very seriously when a
known terrorist such as bin Laden publicly states that he intends to launch
holy war against America, especially when he's shown himself capable of
organizing nearly simultaneous embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi,
and sending his men to blow a hole the size of a small house in the side of the
Cole. Instead, it appears the threats were taken almost as, "Oh, there
goes that bin Laden again. He's such a character."
Asked whether the FBI knew the kamikaze pilots had received flight training in
the US, Mueller disgraced himself and his agency when, three days after the
attack, he gave out a, "Gosh, we didn't know that!" answer. It was revealed a
few days later that the FBI did indeed know about suspected terrorists at
American flight schools.
Incompetence is bad enough when it leads to mass murder. But it's simply
heinous when Americans are looking to the government with trust and wanting
nothing more than to be reassured by our leaders. (Although Pretty P suggests
Mueller is already doing involuntary penance by having to hang out 24/7 with
the unctuous John Ashcroft.)
Speaking of raising eyebrows, who in God's name is responsible for assigning
titles to our military operations? "Infinite Justice" sounds like something
that would be coined by a Weekly World News editor who's addicted to
watching TV evangelists and drinking Jim Beam straight from the bottle in his
desk drawer. Not only that, but it succeeds in riling up Muslims even more (as
did Dubya's announcement about a "crusade"), since only Allah is believed to be
capable of administering infinite justice. (Come to think of it, though, it
might be nice to put that theory to rest with a few justly placed missiles.)
P&J figure the military-ops genius with the dog-eared dictionary may have
really wanted to call the American response "Infinite Jest," a la the David
Foster Wallace novel, as it, too, is going to be long, tough to get through,
and our enemies will not be laughing when it's all over.
Learning from our mistakes
Has anyone thought of making an offer to the Taliban in which the US government
sets aside a large parcel of land in Southern California for their use in
starting a theme park (you know, "Medieval World" or something like that)? Of
course, we haven't seen a super-evil villain like bin Laden in years, just the
kind of guy to build a real scary ride around. He's tall and handsome, totally
ruthless, independently wealthy, and moves around frequently from cave to cave.
Even Superman's writers at DC Comics never came up with a super-villain like
But seriously, as bad times are here, we hope people will take the opportunity
to review the history of the Middle East, because you can't get a grasp of what
has created this hatred toward the West unless you understand it. Perhaps we
can look at our foreign policy of the last 60 years or so. It's helpful to
understand how the French and British arrogantly carved up the Arabian
Peninsula for the benefit of the West (and to the detriment of the native
people there), and how the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan set the stage for the
ascendancy of the Taliban, as well as bin Laden. Not to mention how the United
States trained and supplied the Afghan resistance, and then, when the Soviets
moved out, dropped them like a hot potato, failing to come through with
promised humanitarian aid.
There's a long and complicated story here and it's not pretty. While nothing
justifies the horrors of September 11, those of us in the United States could
stand to learn quite a bit more about the situation. If you don't think there
have been egregious failures and many stupid, arrogant moves in our foreign
policy over the years, you'll remain in the dark as to why this terrible crime
has occurred (or naively believe in some sort of simplistic good guy/bad guy
world). The more we understand, the greater our capacity to act and respond in
ways that won't end up with greater and greater death and destruction.
By the way, people who think we're being "unpatriotic" in saying things like
this probably don't have a clue as to why the USA is great.
Down the Hatch
Your superior correspondents can't tell you how thrilled we are every time Vo
Dilun's own Mr. Excitement, Richard Hatch, thrusts his smirking puss at the
public. The guy just can't keep out of the news! We suspect this is because his
specialty is something we can all identify with and have an unlimited appetite
for -- famous people acting stoopid.
The fact that Richie became famous by running around naked on one of the more
worthless television shows of all time shouldn't detract from his achievement
of remaining in the media's eye without having anything to offer. He's not
funny, he can't sing, he can't dance, he can't act, and he has nothing of value
to say. Yet he manages to entertain the living shit out of us just by being
Richie hit the headlines once again this week when, in a non-jury trial,
District Court Judge Robert Pirraglia found him guilty of using excessive force
in removing Glenn Boyanowski, a former boyfriend and the caretaker of his
11-year-old son, from his house on August 20. Hatch was sentenced to a year's
probation and a no-contact order was imposed.
As soon as the judge announced the finding of guilt, Hatch started arguing
with him, stopping only when Pirraglia threatened him with a charge of
contempt. Richie's response when he left the court? He claimed Pirraglia
"didn't listen to the evidence," he called the decision "ludicrous," and then
screamed at the prosecutor, "It's sad, it's really sad, Frank."
If anyone understands excessive force, it would be Judge Pirraglia, who
undoubtedly must resort to such means in order to force his amazing rug on
every morning. As for Richie, whose apparent time in the spotlight has led him
to believe that everyone else on Earth is wrong and he's right, time's up.
Smackdown in East Greenwich
In other law enforcement news, the state police are investigating East
Greenwich Police Chief Lawrence Campion for allegedly assaulting a woman in The
Grille, the popular restaurant on EG's Main Street, on September 21. The joint
was apparently crowded, so there ought to be plenty of witnesses. It was also
reported that restaurant employees had to separate Campion and his alleged
victim, Laurene Zickendrath, who subsequently filed a complaint with the state
There is, of course, a moral to this story. If you're a guy and you're going
to slap a woman around in public, it's a good idea to be a police chief. That
way, days or even weeks, might pass before you're arrested or charged, even if
there are dozens of witnesses and clear evidence of physical injury to the
alleged victim. Also, unlike the usual perp, you'll get a police escort home
and be able to successfully apply for medical leave the next day.
While we do believe in the concept of being "innocent until proven guilty," it
does seem the presumption of innocence is greater for some people than for
others, and this presumption is based more on their relationship to law
enforcement than the immediate and obvious evidence. If someone can persuade us
that we're wrong here, we'd like to hear about it.
Kudos and congrats . . .
. . . to the good folks at tompaine.com, who often run large ads on the New
York Times op-ed page criticizing outrageous behavior. On September 20, TP
got it just right when they featured pictures of the loathsome Jerry Falwell
and Pat Robertson, with the caption, "American Taliban -- Falwell and Robertson
hit a new low."
Accompanying text explained how, only two days after the attack, Falwell said
on Robertson's TV show that the country "probably got what we deserved." Why?
Because "pagans," "abortionists," "feminists," "gays and lesbians," and even
the ever-popular ACLU and People for the American Way on America helped make
the attack possible through their free-thinking ways. (See this space last
Robertson backed up Falwell, exulting, "Jerry, that's my feeling." These two
Neanderthals and bogus God-botherers are no better than the Taliban
hate-mongers and their ilk, and we were happy when the venerable Times
called them on this. The ad also appealed to the major news outlets to stop
booking Falwell and Robertson on their shows, thereby legitimizing these
incredibly ignorant and intolerant views. This advice is something we'd all do
well to remind these outlets of at every opportunity.
. . . to Trinity Rep and the cast of Noises Off, which P&J attended
Sunday past. A farce of this quality and inanity proved a good antidote to the
days of grief and emotion we've recently been experiencing. Phillipe shed tears
from laughter throughout the performance, a welcome change from choking up at
the sights and sounds of America's tragedy. Cynthia Strickland is the brightest
light among a full cast of talented comedy players, including P&J's
all-time Trinity fave, Tim Crowe. We urge you to let this wonderful production
wash out your mind for at least a few hours. It's definitely cheaper than
Send pulchritudinous offerings and Pulitzer-grade tips to email@example.com.
Issue Date: September 28 - October 4, 2001