April 15, 2003 edition

Crashing symbols and the decapitation of a statue;
Ashcroft and Big Brother rule all tribes; and
The Question of questions.

Cheap and easy news was just too alluring for video journalists to avoid. After weeks of aerial bombing, the United States military plowed through Baghdad and squashed what few defenses there were left. Then the citizens went on all manner of rampage. Photos and video clips flooded the American media world with imagery of people breaking into buildings, stealing, and defacing anything Hussein.

The looting went unchecked for altogether too long. And it wasn’t just government buildings that got pillaged. Small shop owners had their businesses stripped of goods. Historic treasures were stolen from museums. Military types were quoted as saying something like, “They’ve (the Iraqi people) been through some tough times and have earned a little craziness.”

Oh really? I want to hear that quote the next time one of America’s cities is the scene of a riot and looting becomes a rampant.

For the second consecutive week, the New York Times ran a funny headline: HUSSIEN STATUE IS TOPPLED – RUMSFELD URGES CAUTION. I didn’t bother reading the story that followed, instead opting for what my twisted sense of humor wanted the text to be. I imagined it going on to say how Rumsfeld was concerned for the safety of citizens as they pulled down statues and jumped through the broken plate glass windows of store fronts.

“The United States has no problem with looters or with those intent on tearing down murals or statues,” Rumsfeld said, adding, “but we want the Iraqi people to know that hospital and M.A.S.H. units are already overburdened with military casualties and cannot handle the deluge of citizens with lacerations from broken glass or head injuries sustained from falling objects.”

“Riot with Caution” lapel buttons are being air-dropped by the military’s PSYOP Corp, in the hope of spreading the word that “safe rioting is good rioting.”

That old Donald Rumsfeld is quite the cut up, eh? He’s a real riot ...

aye spy

I had to deal with a state government agency today, an uncomfortable environment for me. Anything that has to do with local, state or federal government means long lines, short tempers, much paperwork and many hoops to jump through.

I must say this about my visit: at least the worker bees were pleasant enough. But no amount of pleasantry by the people behind counters and desks can make up for the insanity of paperwork and pools of procedure. Fun it was not.

After getting though a great deal of the aforementioned hoop jumps and paperwork madness, there was one particular piece of paper that needed my signature. While reading the fine print, I noticed that I was being asked to agree to submit fingerprints and let The Government look at anything that had my name, social security number, or drivers license number on it. I was surprised that stool, hair and blood samples weren’t going to be taken.

And the fine print went on to list all the federal government’s computer systems that were linked together for cross referencing. I put down my pen and politely told the clerk that I wouldn’t sign the document.

"Oh, it’s just a formality,” she said. “Everyone has to sign it.”

Well, this citizen didn’t sign it. I placed the pen on the desk, picked up my drivers license and was on my way. Big Brother had just gotten too close for comfort, thank you very much. I think I can survive just fine without the services that particular agency had to offer. The price was simply too high.

Though annoyed, I decided to at least accomplish something, so I drove to the center of Hartford to cash a check. The usual parking headache was waiting for me, though I somehow managed to park my vehicle after only one scoot around the block. After walking a quarter of a mile or so to the bank, the teller asked if I had an account at the bank. I didn’t, so two forms of photo identification were required in order for them to cash the check. No problem: I’m there!

But then came the clincher. The teller asked me to put my thumb on a cute little circular ink pad and then put my thumb print on the upper left hand corner of the face of the check. I asked why this was necessary and was told that “it’s for everyone’s security.”

“Funny . . . I don’t feel more secure. As a matter of fact, I feel violated,” was my response.

The teller, who couldn’t have been more than 22 years old, looked at me suspiciously, and went on to quote the company line about how people can just print up bogus checks and cash them, so the bank needs thumb prints so the dishonest people can be brought to justice. I was feeling less and less insecure.

It was inevitable. George Orwell warned us.

I ultimately submitted to this invasion of thumb privacy just to get my money so I could get the hell out of Dodge. Sheesh! The more I witness of what John Ashcroft has done to the Constitution, the more respect I have for the true Anarchists. Perhaps the time is near ...

mean as hornets, slippery like eel

Section three to this week’s edition of Trifocal Rearview Mirror isn’t an overview of or commentary on a story garnered from the pages of any newspapers scanned over the past week. Quite to the contrary, the very absence of a story on this topic makes it bonafide news and underscores my concern that the majority of the media have fallen into sharp goosestep behind the United States government’s Rules of News Disbursement. A minority of media types that prefer to find their own news are nosing around places that smell better than the government’s official news excretory orifice.

Which leads me to the $64,000 question - - the Question of questions, if you will. That is, “Where’s Saddam?”

One would hope that with the United States’ expansive intelligence tentacles, the precise location of Saddam Hussein would be known, but apparently another bad dog has slipped his collar and is running scared and free.

Remember Osama? Osama bin Laden? Mastermind and key player in financing the Al Qaeda 9-11 attacks on America? Ole Osama was supposedly in the crosshairs on a few occasions, but he, too, has slipped off to parts unknown.

It looks as though (p)Resident Dubya may have driven Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad, and perhaps out of Iraq, but as long as there isn’t a corpse to display to the world, the little shrub Bush will not have driven Hussein from power. As long as Hussein and bin Laden are alive, they will wield sabers, rally the devoted and wage war. History has shown that wars waged by leaders in exile are long, drawn out, nasty and bloody affairs.

This is a serious version of the child’s game Where’s Waldo?

Earth is a large planet on which to play hide and seek. And from all indications thus far, Osama and Saddam are holding firm in their hiding places. They aren’t going to be making any mad dashes for home. The United States and the UN may shape and mold whatever kind of government they wish for Iraq or Afghanistan, but those ever faithful to the likes of Hussein and bin Laden will fight it.

And fight they will . . . to the death.

Copyright © 2003 by Jeff Bauer

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Revised - Friday, September 9, 2005