THE WANDERER, MARCH 8, 2007 JOSEPH SOBRAN'S WASHINGTON WATCH I haven't received the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER, but it's already making news with an article by the invaluable Seymour Hersh reporting that the Pentagon is preparing intensively -- and illegally -- for a military strike on Iran. Hersh says the Department of Defense, not the CIA, is smuggling agents into Iran disguised as Iranian civilians. Not only is this illegal under U.S. law; under the Geneva Conventions, only those captured in uniform are entitled to the protections due to prisoners of war. It's hardly necessary to spell out where this may lead. Hersh really keeps his ear to the ground, has great sources, and collects well-earned enemies in every administration. I wonder how many high-level conspiracies he has aborted over the last four decades by getting wind of them in time. Meanwhile, with respect to Iran, the politicians have a new mantra, repeated so obsessively as to remind one of the brainwashed soldiers in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: "All options are on the table." This is a transparent euphemism for "We're not ruling out nuking Iran." When John Edwards said it to an Israeli audience recently, he added, just so nobody would miss the point, "I repeat: all options." That's how you raise campaign money nowadays: by threatening mass murder. Incidentally, though it might be overstating the case to say President Bush is enjoying a comeback, we are now hearing less-frequent reports of his sinking poll numbers. But that could change in a flash if he attacks Iran. As Conan O'Brien has quipped, his recent warnings about the Iranian threat sound as if he has just taken his old Iraq speeches and changed all the Qs to Ns. Hollywood Goes to War His name may be slightly unfamiliar to the folks who buy the popcorn, but David Geffen of DreamWorks is one of the most puissant figures in Hollywood, a leading player in the Democratic Party and an old friend of the Clintons. So he caused a furor last week when he told Maureen Dowd of THE NEW YORK TIMES that he is throwing his hefty support from la Hillary to Barack Obama. Why? Because Obama is "inspirational," and the Clintons haven't changed: "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling." Furthermore: "I don't think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person." Hillary exploded. Through her spokesmen, she demanded that Obama repudiate Geffen and refund his money. Fat chance. Obama, through his own spokesmen, coolly retorted that Bill and Hill had had no scruples about taking Geffen's dough back when they were stuffing it into their own pockets and putting him up in the Lincoln bedroom. O world, thy slippery turns! Stilettos were flashing all over the place, and Obama by no means got the worst of it. As I often say, old ladies should think twice before starting knife fights. Thought she was going to teach this kid a lesson, did she? Well, this is what she gets for "moving to the right" -- taking such fascist positions as opposing gay wedlock and supporting the American Legion flag-burning amendment. Vexations "Father," I recently asked a priest friend, "if we can't have the Tridentine Mass back, do you think we could at least have the Novus Ordo said in pig Latin?" I still cringe when I hear Catholics say "hollowed be thy name," confusing "hallowed" with "hollowed," just as some of my angry readers confuse "mean-spirited" with "mean," and most people use "might" for "may." Life is a vale of tears for pre-Vatican II English teachers, as it must be for those lonely Episcopalians who still adhere to the Thirty-Nine Articles. We are headed for extinction. My reverend friend and I also agreed that were it not for the lesbian clergy, the Episcopalians might not reproduce at all. And as if I didn't have enough to tear my remaining hair about already, I just heard a newsman call Al Sharpton a "civil rights leader." You thought he was just a comical racial demagogue? Now it transpires, by the way, that one of Sharpton's ancestors was the slave of one of Strom Thurmond's ancestors, also named Sharpton. Which reminds me: If we're supposed to be reminded that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, why aren't we also reminded that Julius Caesar and countless other Greek and Roman freemen owned them too? Yes, all men are (and always have been) created equal, but it seems that owning white slaves is less culpable than owning black ones. Have we at last reached the limits of our amazing, seemingly infinite capacity for moral indignation about the past? Persevering in Dark Times Abortion seems to have dwindled to an intramural Republican issue, and even most people who regard it as a grave evil have difficulty keeping it uppermost in their minds. There are just too many distractions, and in politics the urgent always tends to usurp the important. A sense of futility, discouragement, abandonment, betrayal, and just plain baffling practical complexity makes it hard to sustain resistance. It is easy to succumb to the feeling that though it's terribly wrong, legal abortion is now here to stay; that even our old allies have found other things to do. Let us at least beware of our own infirmities and keep praying. Sad Decline Far be it from me to solicit pity, but it is a plain fact that since my stroke I am not quite what I once was. I can tell. Not to brag, but before the stroke I was something of a math whiz. I could solve calculus problems in my head -- using Roman numerals. (Now I have to count on my toes.) + + + If you have not seen a copy of SOBRAN'S, my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website, www.sobran.com. Already a subscriber? Consider a gift subscription for a priest, friend, or relative. 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