I got one of those Youre the Best Day in the World cards that melt your heart, but it made me wonder what kids give dads who are manifestly deficient in the parental department. I mean, if Dad leaves Mom for some fun-bunny, what sort of card do you get him? There arent any Thanks For Being A Great Dad Right Up Until Dec. 12, 2002 cards or To the Worlds Most Conflicted Male Presence cards. I have to share Worlds Greatest rights with a million poltroons.
My gift was a radio. You can never go wrong giving me a retro radio. This one was a knockoff of an old British portable; Id pointed it out in the Restoration Hardware catalog, dropped the 50-lb hint and let time and Visa do the rest. The picture was rather misleading. The radio is huge; its like a small suitcase. But it looks cool. Its now my outdoor radio for yardwork. And thats how I spent my fathers day. Instead of lolling around in the hammock sipping rum and listening to a ball game, I did some weeding and seeding; I put up a bird feeder (Fathers Day gift from last year) and five solar-powered garden lights, and cleaned out the shed. The contents of the shed:
1. A large dingy plastic table left by the previous occupants
2. A box of ripped-out molding, bristling with rusty nails, also left by the previous occupants
3. Five hundred thousand spiders
4. Several bags of bird and chipmunk food, labeled Grass seed
5. A wide variety of domestic poisons, none of which worked against my new enemy, The Ants.
A word about them, if you dont mind. I like ants. In their place. Theyve always fascinated me, ever since my first Uncle Miltie ant gulag. But there are now several supercolonies in the back yard, and the sight of a hundred holes in the patio is unpleasant. Theres one spongy spot that suggests some sort of Insect Zion rests below. Usually I just hose down the patio mounds once a day - doesnt kill them, and it gives them something to do the next day. But today I bought some stuff that kills them all dead, Queen included. They cannot resist the sweet taste; they carry the poison home, and they all die. The secret ingredient is arsenic. The warning labels said, in essence, do not use this stuff on the Planet Earth. Prolonged exposure to the text of this warning label may cause seizures. Wash mouth after discussing product with clerk. And so on.
Speaking of poisons:
Todays Star-Trib edit page had a piece replying to the conspiracy theorists who believe that the White House had Wellstone killed. That was heartening. Alas, in the interest of equal time, there is a piece from James H. Fetzer, a McKnight professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Duluth who has been writing about these theories in a Duluth weekly. In those columns, Fetzer writes, I lay out the evidence, much of which is in the public record, that has led me to the belief that this was an assassination and that the White House may have been involved.
Before you write me off as a crank . . . - inks dry, sir. Inks dry. . . let me ask you a simple question. Do you know what caused the crash? Im guessing gravity had something to do with it. If you dont know, then how can you know that I am wrong? Hes got me there. I also dont know why the shuttle crashed, which is why I cannot rule out the possibility that Romulan warbirds fired their disruptors as the ship began its descent. But I suspect you are wrong about this, because you are wrong about nearly everything else. Want proof? Mr. Fetzers U of M website links to his other sites, assassinationscience.com and assassinationresearch.com.
As the saying goes: when all you have is an assassination-related URL, everything looks like a covert hit.
(Side note: I like to play a little game with these conspiracy theorists. Any site devoted to JFK assassination theory usually is but three links away from a laudatory word about Jim Garrison, the nutball whose theories formed the basis of Oliver Stones movie. If you remember that plot, it went like this: Kevin Jim Garrison Cosner believed that Lou Grant and Tommy Lee Jones set up Sid Vicious to kill Kennedy, against the protestations of Felix Unger, and John Candy knew something about it.)
(Fetzers site takes three links to get to Garrison.)
As far as credibility goes, you can judge for yourself. Professor Fetzer kindly provides other writings on his sites, and Im not linking to all of them because some show up as .pdfs. Go poke around for yourself, if youre so inclined. Lets go back to his prescient remarks two weeks after 9/11:
"Some may think we can force Afghanistan into submission, but it has proven impossible for the great powers of the past (including Britain, and the Soviet Union, and even Alexander the Great) and there is no reason to suppose we are going to do any better."
Yes, we all know how Alex fared, particularly his spectacularly ill-informed attempt to drop flaming balls of pitch from 30,000 feet against targets acquired by sextant and bird-entrail divination. As the war concluded, Fetzer saw the real horror of the Afghan war.
Our all-out bombardment of Afghanistan . . . has involved invading not just the air space but the territorial boundaries of a sovereign nation and displacing its government by one more to our choosing. Not to draw to (sic) fine a distinction but some might call it terrorism.
The Taliban used to bury women up to their necks and have people throw stones at their heads to kill them for sins like, oh, whistling. But say what you will, they didnt invade the air space of a sovereign nation.
In the bio for this article - which is called Armageddon - he says The United States appear to be on the verge of publicly reaffirming its standard as the worlds leading terrorist state. Uh huh. Its a variant of Hammetts old Cheaper the gunsel, the gaudier the patter rule: the more hysterical the characterization, the more leaden the prose. Appear to be on the verge of publicly reaffirming. This is the language people use when they never have to back up their predictions. The government will always appear to be on the verge of publicly reaffirming something.
Israel? Oh, you know where he stands.
The situation is tragic. Nazi atrocities that occurred before and during World War II produced worldwide sympathy for the Jewish people, which led the United Nations to create a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948. But the ascension of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister has brought in its wake new atrocities that invite comparison with those of Nazis of the past. Surely a nation whose people have suffered as have these must rise to a higher standard.
That last sentence is so inane you wonder whether he realizes what hes saying. In translation: The Jews have to rise to a higher standard than the Nazis implies that they are currently operating at Nazi standards.
North Korea? Oh, you know where he stands.
Until the axis of evil speech, North Korean was on the verge of engaging, not in acts of terrorism, but in acts of negotiation with South Korea in an effort to reduce, not increase, tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Iran? In the same paragraph: Moderate leaders in Iran have been attempting, with no help from the United States, to promote more democratic policies in international affairs. Thats what makes them moderate.
Yes, that's the impetus behind all those Tehran demonstations: we demand more modern promotion of democratic policies in international affairs, you mullahs! Enough with the half-measures! These quotes were taken from a piece the Prof called Lunatics - and the bio has a parting shot: Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officers, has become increasingly disillusioned with the Bush administration, which, he believes, is the most corrupt in our nations history. He fears for the future of his country and for the well-being of the world.
And all the baby chicks and the flowers and bunnies and Grandma and Teacher and puppies and Elmo. His ilk in a nutshell, emphasis on the nut, taken from a post-9/11 piece on the need to let the UN take the lead in Afghanistan:
If we can't lead the world, perhaps the world can lead us.
I repeat my earlier theory about these people: they already believe that we are living in a Star Trek world with one global government, and the US is some rogue holdout fighting the existing order. The world can lead us. His article cited the three world leaders who attempted to stay Bush bellicose hand, and the rollcall was instructive.
China. France. Russia. Our moral betters.
So what of his piece in the Strib? Well, one of the experts he cites for the Wellstone hit theory is . . . . Michael Ruppert! His 9/11 conspiracy theories are handled by Bill Herbert, if youre interested, but rest assured this is like citing Jim Garrison as an expert on the faked moon landing. Says Fetzer: (Ruppert) has reported that members of Congress have confided in him that they think it was also an assassination. And I hearby report to you that 187 members of Congress have confided in me that the Romulan hit on the shuttle was actually a coverup; it was actually the work of Klingons whod sold the Romulans a warbird design with the intention of using that ship for covert ops, knowing wed blame the Roms.
Were through the kooking glass here, people. He concludes:
Every American should want to get to the bottom of what happened to Wellstone, if only to seek assurance that this was not the act of a new fascist state.
One doubts that Professor Fetzer will ever be reassured. Some people believe that we are but a day away from torchlight rallies and death camps, that a vast pulsating mass of nascent fascism throbs right beneath the surface of American society, eager to shoot through the cracks. They will only breathe easier when a president quotes Che in his inauguration address. The world is full of these guys, and it always been - but whats unique to our society is that these people find a home in the Universities.
When I was growing up, the term professor connoted respect and accomplishment. It was a name society gave to its wisest citizens.
Isnt it funny what children believe. No matter what their age.