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 

     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 

     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 

     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 


     "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.)

                 +          +          +                  

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