June 2002 | Inhuman Swill | William Shunn
Inhuman Swill : June 2002

From an Associated Press report, 6/11/2002, on President Bush's intentions to introduce a "strike first" military policy in this fall's national security strategy presentation to Congress:

Cheney ... emphasized that the United States has a special responsibility to initiate military action if it will thwart grand-scale terrorist plots before they happen.

"The nature and scale of the challenge we face became apparent last year on the morning of Sept. 11," Cheney said. "It is now clear that every aspiration we have for the countries we serve -- our prosperity, our security and the peace of the world -- all depend upon our answer to that threat of global terror."

Specifically, he said, Iraq poses a threat because its leader, Saddam Hussein, has shown a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, and because there is potential for Saddam's government to link up with terrorist networks.

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Okay, I'm a very bad man, but I just emailed my relatives this Jon Carroll article from the San Francisco Chronicle. It's the one and only time I will spam them with unsolicited liberal propaganda, and I'm doing it to make a point.

The point will probably be lost, but what the hell.

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John Entwhistle, 1944-2002

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He was the calm eye of the storm amidst the swirling chaos that was The Who—one of the bands that helped open my ears to the possibility that rock music wasn't all as mindless and soul-destroying as I was told in church, and my mind to the possibility that my church was wrong about other things. John Entwhistle was a world-class bass player, and a very fine songwriter. In fact, he penned one of my very favorite Who tunes, "My Wife."


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Family snaps

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I know you've all been waiting breathlessly for this, so here's my uncle's reply to my email from the other day about Muslim profiling and airport security:

I understand that you are a writer and perhaps tend toward the dramatic, but let's be real here. I don't know how you jumped to the conclusion that the comment of the person who originated the e-mail suggested not continuing the present pattern of screening. I didn't see that conclusion at all. The only suggestion I saw was to replace the benign, minimally effective "random" selection process with a more directed selection process.

I forwarded what I thought was some interesting historical facts. I made no comment on those facts, but since one is apparently needed, here goes.

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Bill is . . .

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  • Bill is a Potemkin reform
  • Bill is ready
  • Bill is the only way forward
  • Bill is shelved
  • Bill is watching you
  • Bill is just smarter
  • Bill is getting nowhere
  • Bill is passed
  • Bill is read for the first time
  • Bill is focused on porn
  • Bill is worth $33.45 billion
  • Bill is worth 70.15% the value of all the gold in Fort Knox
  • Bill is all about unions
  • Bill is back on the table
  • Bill is the actual "anti-christ"
  • Bill is finally enacted
  • Bill is a $200 billion disaster
  • Bill is just not cricket
  • Bill is "Bush lite"
  • Bill is a windfall for corporations but a pittance for workers
  • Bill is returned
  • Bill is introduced in the Senate
  • Bill is finally with us
  • Bill is likely to fail
  • Bill is printed and released to the public
  • Bill is not what they say
  • Bill is also managing editor of the Journal of Combinatorial Theory
  • Bill is currently working on his new book
  • Bill isn't anyone's underling
  • Bill isn't perfect for Pennsylvania
  • Bill isn't perfect, but offers hope
  • Bill isn't dead
  • Bill isn't all that it seems
  • Bill isn't just a Bill
  • Bill isn't halting worldwide destitution
  • Bill isn't without reservation
  • Bill isn't about helping consumers
  • Bill isn't really important
  • Bill isn't stalled
  • Bill isn't even in the heroic position to be a front-line soldier
  • Bill isn't finished, though
  • Bill isn't like that
  • Bill isn't top priority
  • Bill isn't real
  • Bill isn't a fireman
  • Bill isn't the father
  • Bill isn't good enough
  • Bill isn't what he appears to be
  • Bill isn't paid on time
  • Bill isn't the right one
  • Bill isn't funny-looking
  • Bill isn't particularly keen
  • Bill isn't as historic as some
  • Bill doesn't go far enough
  • Bill doesn't vouch for vouchers
  • Bill doesn't become law
  • Bill doesn't even mention gays
  • Bill doesn't pay
  • Bill doesn't get the job
  • Bill doesn't ban soft money
  • Bill doesn't speak for everyone
  • Bill doesn't help families
  • Bill doesn't have to be a chore
  • Bill doesn't doesn't call for the legalization of file-sharing
  • Bill doesn't include any specific legislation
  • Bill doesn't care about $1 billion
  • Bill doesn't care about Netscape anymore
  • Bill doesn't think you need to use it
  • Bill doesn't have a thing to do!
  • Bill doesn't address the real problem
  • Bill doesn't even keep up the pretense
  • Bill doesn't help you
  • Bill doesn't contain misguided plans
  • Bill doesn't make any sense
In case you were wondering.

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I left for my lunchtime errands at 11:45 a.m. I took the 6 train downtown from 33rd Street to Bleecker Street to meet my wife at a little boutique for a fitting for some custom clothes. Then I bid my wife farewell and headed back uptown to the same post office from yesterday where I waited in line to mail five more stories out. Then I stopped at the bank for cash and to transfer some money around. Then over to Cosí for a special chipotle chicken sandwich and some Terra Chips. The line was about thirty people long. Still, I got myself and my food back to the office at 1:00 p.m. on the dot, which I think may be some kind of lunch-errand record. Well, my coworkers were impressed, anyway.

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So, with Laura's strep throat, the doctor prescribed her a course of penicillin—and a course for me too. Now I'm taking these nasty 500mg tablets every six hours. I have trouble swallowing pills, and these mothers are big.

Oh, well, maybe they'll kill all my internal fauna and help me lose some weight. ;-)

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Family jewels

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Do you all have relatives that forward you the stupidest, most offensive emails ever written? I love my uncle dearly, but he has the habit. I just got the one from him, which you've probably seen, about how racial profiling of Muslim males at airport security is justified, and we should leave the little old ladies, kids, and Congressmen alone. It comes in the form of a ten-question quiz on who was responsible for various infamous acts of terror over the past thirty years.

Well, sometimes I go off my nut a little when I get thoughtless tripe like this in my inbox, especially from someone who knows that I and at least two other relatives on his mailing list have vastly different political beliefs from your average Mormon Republican.

So I reply-all'd the following:

Right, let's stop searching everyone at airport security, because no white person would *ever* try to blow up a plane. We Caucasians concentrate on Federal buildings like the one in Oklahoma City instead. In fact, let's not stop at profiling in airports. I won't be happy until the nice Pakistani man who owns the grocery store on my corner is in an internment camp with his wife and children. And I like the Egyptian restaurant over on Steinway Street so much that I think I'll go smash it up with a baseball bat.
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Tonight the new season of the documentary series P.O.V. debuts on PBS, with an episode called "The Smith Family":

The Smiths of Salt Lake City may have America's most common surname, but their story is anything but ordinary. With two boys, a dog, a nice house and a strong commitment to the Mormon Church, Steve and Kim Smith believed they had achieved the American dream. But after nine years of marriage, shattering revelations of betrayal came—enough to test the strongest bonds of faith and love. When Steve confessed to infidelities with men, and they both find they are HIV+, Kim makes an unlikely choice. "The Smith Family" is a searing account of one family's struggle to preserve family and faith, while redefining forgiveness in the face of daunting tragedy.
It's on at 10:00 pm tonight Eastern time. Go here to check your local PBS station's schedule
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The privileged class

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So I prepared a manuscript for submission this morning, and I stopped by the post office on the way to work to mail it. This was the post office on 34th Street between Park and Lex, at about 10 am.

As I approached the propped-open front door, I had to step lively to keep from being run down by woman pushing a cart full of brown-paper packages of all sizes. The woman was fifty or so, potato-shaped, with ill-advised red-dyed hair and ill-advised tight white stirrup pants.

I bounced through the outer door and prepared to hold the inner door open for the cart woman, as I am usually wont to do, well-mannered fellow that I am. However, when the woman said, "Hold that door open for me," in a tone that made it clear that she was the lady of the manor and I was the servant in grubby livery, with nary a please or a question mark or an ounce of courtesy in earshot, I nearly balked. I nearly—and the words were right there on my tongue—nearly said, "I was planning to before you asked me like that," but, thanks again to my good manners, I said nothing. I just held the door.

When she was through the door, I stepped lively again to beat her to the end of the line. I was damned if I'd let her and her bushel of parcels on line in front of me. I reached the end of the queue and took my place—but the woman didn't even glance in the direction of the line. She went straight to one of the counters. "These are all unopened," she announced in a loud voice to the nearest postal worker. "Can I leave them with you?"

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