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Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2001 / 5 Kislev, 5762

Robert L. Haught

Robert L. Haught
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Are Americans too spaced out? -- IF there is intelligent life on other planets, those faraway families must be looking with interest, and some curiosity, at how Americans have reacted to the troubles of the past two months.

They surely must be viewing New Yorkers with great admiration for their courage and strength in light of the losses they have suffered. They no doubt have been impressed with the way the country's citizens have rallied behind President Bush, whose bold leadership has drawn support at home and abroad.

There have been some exceptions, the most notable being the utterances of his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Terrorists everywhere must have loved his remarks to Georgetown University students that the nation was "paying a price today" for a past that included slavery and looking the other way "when a significant number of native Americans were dispossessed and killed." Osama bin Laden couldn't have said it better.

Some U.S. TV networks might have surprised outside observers by their decision to ignore Bush's prime-time speech on the nation's efforts to counter terrorism. ABC was the sole broadcast network to air the speech. NBC chose to give anxious viewers a report on a pregnant unwed comedian on "Friends." CBS' "Survivor: Africa," featured scantily clad adventurers on the veldt. Even public television didn't carry the speech live.

The extraterrestrials also could have been puzzled by the Voice of America trying to make up its mind which side it is on in America's war on terrorism. The VOA had no problem deciding to close its cafeteria after signs of anthrax were found in the mail room, forcing postponement of a scheduled pizza tasting.

Speaking of bin Laden, what do we see the U.S. government doing to try to find him? The FBI and CIA are recruiting psychics to help locate the terrorist leader and to predict future attacks. The agencies have reactivated a remote viewing program known as Stargate that had been set up in the 1970s in an attempt to utilize psychics' purported skills to combat communism. Daytime TV shows must love this!

The government also is doing its best to implement Bush's appeal for individual Americans to help fight terrorism. The Pentagon issued a call for ideas on technologies to assist U.S. troops in "conducting protracted operations in remote areas." The Defense Department is seeking "anti-terrorist concepts" in 38 categories, including countermeasures to weapons of mass destruction. As one retired lieutenant colonel remarked to the Washington Post, "You read that list and wonder: What have they been doing?"

Even some of us on Earth might wonder at the wisdom of the American Red Cross in continuing to collect blood donations after Sept. 11 with the knowledge there was far too much to use for victims of the terrorist attacks. The result is that thousands of pints of blood that have outlasted their shelf life will be destroyed. Maybe the Red Cross should replace the Internal Revenue Service as best qualified to squeeze blood out of taxpayers.

The interplanetary observers probably were mystified by the media's obsession about the whereabouts of Vice President Dick Cheney, when he was merely hunting pheasant in South Dakota, still receiving daily intelligence briefings by video-conference.

If the space aliens had trained their powerful telescopes on Capitol Hill, they would have seen that Congress was not overly preoccupied with the terrorism threat. Sixteen senators and 55 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter demanding "immediate steps" be taken to rescue seven polar bears being exposed to tropical heat in a circus in Puerto Rico. The legislators acted in response to reports that the Suarez Brothers Circus not only had required the bears to do tricks but had forced them to endure temperatures as high as 110 degrees. Let us hope cooler heads prevail.

And the men on Mars probably are still trying to figure out Harry Potter.

JWR contributor Robert L. Haught is a columnist for The Oklohoman. Comment by clicking here.


10/12/01: There's something fishy going on in the U.S. Congress
10/05/01: Lincoln had some memorable things to say about war
09/21/01: Washington's guidelines on how to tickle a terrorist
08/31/01: Two Garys, going the same road
08/24/01: Dog days are laughing matter, stories set tails wagging

© 2001, Robert L. Haught