Monday, June 4, 2007

Fear of terror

The late Ewan MacColl penned a lyric to a song (my favorite version is Dick Gaughan's), which is worthy of consideration today as the FBI rolls the latest set of boogeymen from the closet, and the national press swallows it whole.

From A Father's Song:

Stop crying now, let daddy dry your tears

There's no bogeyman to get you, never fear

There's no ogres, wicked witches

Only greedy sons-of-bitches

Who are waiting to exploit your life away.

So the national press offers scare-the-bejabbers headlines about some gang-who-couldn't- shoot-straight terrorists who "planned" to blow up JFK and half of Queens.

And we should believe the FBI, beause?

Last night at the candidate's debate, among the ridiculous questions posed by Wolf Blitzer and the journalists from New Hampshire was one that went something like: "Since 9/11 there have been no further terrorists attacks in the U.S., doesn't George Bush deserve credit for doing something right? And doesn't the arrest of a terrorist cell threatening to blow up JFK, prove he and the FBI are doing something right?"

Fortunately Barack Obama said, simply, "No."

This "no terrorist attacks since 9-11" is a laughable canard. The absence of something is not proof of the effectiveness of a vaunted prevention. Its humor is illustrated by an old vaudeville routine, best portrayed by Abbott and Costello:

Abbott: "What'cha spraying around?"
Costello: "Elephant repellent!"

Abbott: "But we're in Brooklyn! Other than the zoos there's not an elephant within a thousand miles of here."
Costello: "See how well it works!"

Nora Ephron has some ideas about how to foil your own terrorist plot over at Huffington Post.

While the real scary stories are about Dick Cheney and Arkansas Republican chairman Dennis Milligan.

In the midst of Republicans like this, an aersol can of elephant spray suddenly seems like a good idea.

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