Chris Matthews' Final Volley. What Would Osama Say? Did bin Laden Anticipate Ashcroft's America? Another Jewell in the FBI's Crown? Remembering Veronica Moore.
September 20, 2002
Marching Orders from The Boss
Were in the midst of a rollback of our civil rights.
Its a good time to be vigilant and responsible.
That responsibility comes with the turf when youre born in the USA
-- Bruce Springsteen, August 28, 2002
Playing Hardball: Chris Matthews Final Volley
On September 1, 2002, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBCs Hardball, decided to end his career as a syndicated newspaper columnist. In his final column, Matthews offered a touching tribute to some of the greats of US journalism -- Nicholas van Hoffman, Mary McGrory, Joe McGinnis, David Broder, Maureen Dowd, Mike Barnacle, Joseph Kraft, Bob Novak, Murray Kempton and Jimmy Breslin.
And in the last five paragraphs of his final column, he wrote the following -- and we salute him for it:
I remember Sen. Ed Muskie the night he won his last election back in 1979. Hed had some vodka, which I sensed hed drunk fast.... He said: The only reason to be in politics is to be out there all alone and then be proven right.
That goes for good columnists, too.
So Ill say it: I hate this war thats coming in Iraq. I dont think well be proud of it. Oppose this war because it will create a millennium of hatred and the suicidal terrorism that comes with it. You talk about Bush trying to avenge his father. What about the tens of millions of Arab sons who will want to finish a fight we start next spring in Baghdad?
Well, thats it for now. You know where I stand.
What Would Osama Say?
Born-again politicians like to say that their decisions are guided by contemplating the question, What Would Jesus Do? That line has since become institutionalized and encoded as WWJD?
Recently, I found myself wondering if this might be a good time to start asking a related question: What Would Osama Say?
George Bush claimed that Osama bin Laden orchestrated the attack on the US because of our lifestyles and our freedom. (Meanwhile, bin Laden has gone on record claiming that the US was attacked because of the impacts of its foreign policy in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Palestine.)
But if Bush is right and bin Laden is wrong -- if the roots of global antipathy toward America is really a lifestyle thing -- then I believe weve got a real problem on our hands.
Reading US newspapers on any given week, readers from Brooklyn to Bangalore are treated to stories of child abductions, corporate larceny, and urban mayhem. Priests are revealed as pedophiles. Martha Stewart is accused of insider trading. Anna Nicole Smith is honored with her own TV reality show.
Looking over the moral wreckage of an average weeks worth of US news, I found myself wondering aloud: What Would Osama Say?
In August, a man and woman celebrated the Feast of the Assumption by having public sex in a vestibule at New Yorks St. Patricks Cathedral. It was extremely public sex since the witnesses included millions of radio listeners who tuned in to hear the stunt live on WNEWs Opie and Anthony show.
In its defense, WNEW explained that it was just part of the shock jocks annual contest which hands out points to contestants who agree to have sex in unlikely places. It was, after all, good for ratings.
At which point, I found myself asking: What would Osama say?
And then I heard that Opie and Anthonys contract with WNEW to broadcast lewd and crude humor through 2004 was worth $30 million.
When WNEW fired Opie and Anthony, a sense of decency was restored -- briefly. A day later, the two cut-ups were promptly offered a job by another radio station eager to draw fans to O&As tasteless but crowd-pleasing antics.
Like tens of thousands of affluent US youngsters, George W. Bushs daughters have had problems with alcohol.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bushs daughter Noelle has a drug problem.
However, unlike thousands of other young Americans who are tossed into jail for their addictions, Noelle was remanded to a private drug clinic in Orlando for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, on September 10, Noelle was caught with a rock of crack cocaine in her shoe. As her father infelicitously told the press, The road to recovery is a rocky one....
This is a game that anyone can play. Clip the news story of your choice and send a copy to The-Edge for future posting [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Did bin Laden Anticipate Ashcrofts America?
I tell you, freedom and human rights in America is doomed.
The US government will lead the American people... and the West in general, into an unbearable hell and a choking life.
-- Osama bin Laden, October 2001
Another Jewell in the FBIs Crown?
FBI bumbling in the aftermath of the bombing of the 1996 US Olympics in Atlanta wound up destroying the life of a security guard named Richard Jewell. The FBI all but accused Jewell of planting a terrorist bomb. The press, following the FBIs lead, tried Jewell in the headlines. But Jewell was innocent. The government had to apologize and pay the innocent man a large settlement. The FBI never did find the bomber. (Maybe he was the same elusive fellow who bombed Judi Bari.)
Having gone on to detain and vilify (and ultimately to release and exonerate) California physicist Wen Ho Lee, the FBI is at it again. After spending 11 months in futile pursuit of the person who planted anthrax spores in envelopes selectively addressed to Capitol Hill Democrats, the Feds unleashed the bloodhounds of pack journalism on the heels of a scientist named Steven J. Hatfield.
Newsweek splashed a collection of photos of Hatfield over a two-page spread and the scientists home was placed under a full-press siege. But Hatfield, who once reportedly served as a mercenary in Rhodesia, was not the kind of fellow to cut and run. Instead, he stood his ground and barked back. The Feds were forced to back-peddle.
Hatfield was never a suspect, the FBI now explains. He was merely a person of interest. As one anonymous law enforcement official confided in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: To be honest, we dont have anybody that is real good [as a suspect]. That is why so much energy has gone into Hatfield -- because we dont have anybody else.
Remembering Veronica Moore
Michael Moore is known to many of us as a rumpled working class hero who has used documentaries, books and TV shows (Roger and Me, Stupid White Men, The Awful Truth) to poke his finger in the eyes of the powerful and get a good bellylaugh in the process.
His new all-American anti-gun film Bowling for Columbine has been winning film festival prizes around the world. It will be opening soon in the US. But there is a big cloud over Michaels life these days.
Recently Michaels mother died -- a sudden, unexpected loss that left Michael unable to work for nearly two months. Michael has asked for a small favor. Anyone who wishes to honor his mothers life can dash off a check to Outreach East, 425 N. Genesee St., Davison, MI 48423. Outreach East provides food, clothing and assistance to the poor and unemployed residents of Flint, Michigan.
For more information contact:
Contact the websites and resources listed in the above article.