Monday, December 17, 2001

Week of 12/17/2001

The 2001 Brutally Honest Awards
- by David Matthews 2

Yes, that’s right, it’s time once again to recognize the best of the best, the worst of the worst, and the weirdest of the weird for the year of 2001. And believe me, there was a LOT of stuff to go over in the past year… so without further ado, let’s get into it.

The "Damn you… Damn you straight to HELL" Award for 2001: Osama bin Laden – Need I say why? After seeing that tape of his admitting to the coordination of the 9-11 attack, do I REALLY need to say why he gets this award?

The Lilly-liveried Yellow-bellied Coward Award for 2001: Taliban Leader Mullah Mohamed Omar – Fight to the last man, you say? Well then where the hell did YOU go, eh Popeye? Why weren’t YOU out there with your unholy warriors getting slaughtered? You pluck anyone with a hanging testicle off the street and force them to fight for you, but when it looked like you were going to go to Heaven and enjoy those 72 virgins and be fed grapes for all eternity, you sneak out of town! May the relatives of your fallen warriors shoot you in your sleep, you hypocrite!

The Creative Vengeance (Part 1) Award for 2001: The Various Ways To Punish Osama bin Laden – You see, simply shooting him would be too easy. I’ve seen some pretty sick and twisted ways to punish that pig bastard. The most poetic, though, HAS to be putting him though a sex change operation and then have "her" go back to Kabul and live life under a burqua. And that is probably the most HUMANE form of payback that I came across.

The Creative Vengeance (Part 2) Award for 2001: Trey Parker and Matt Stone of "South Park" – Gotta give these guys credit for putting the whole thing with Afghanistan and 9-11 and our hysteria into perspective. Not to mention the creative way they dealt with bin Laden… which was to have Cartman play Bugs Bunny to bin Laden’s Elmer Fudd.

"We hate you because a third of the world hates you and you don’t even know it!"

"Well, perhaps someday we’ll find a reason to hate you too."



The Chuck Jones Award for 2001: Farscape’s "Revenging Angel" – The weird science fiction serial of the Sci-Fi Channel took a humorous turn this year when main character John Crichton was near death and we see things through his cartoonish mind. Along for the ride are Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Hillary, the Mir space station, and the Starship Enterprise. Believe me, I was rolling on the floor laughing when I saw it!

The "I Owe My Life To Osama bin Laden" Award for 2001: Congressman Gary Condit – Come on, guys! Does anyone think Condit would have even THOUGHT about running for re-election if 9-11 didn’t happen? His career was in the toilet, and he knows it! Now the man with the Jiffy-pop toupee will probably get another term for his troubles as long as Chandra Levy’s body doesn’t show up.

The "I Owe My Halo To Osama bin Laden" Award for 2001: New York City’s Thug Mayor Rudolph Guiliani – Yeah, he was an unapologetic thug who flaunted his affairs and his power around, but all of his evils were seemingly wiped clean when the pig bastards attacked on September 11th. If 9-11 didn’t happen, this guy would be forever seen as Mussolini reincarnated. Now, instead of being rightly vilified, he’s been unduly canonized. They didn’t even have to find a pedestal to put him on… because he brought his own! There is no justice in this world!

The Tone-Def Award for 2001: Rush Limbaugh – Now Rush has another reason to ignore his liberal critics. It’s not just that he’s sure of his convictions. It’s not just that they’re sometimes wrong and full of body wastes. It’s that he’s now completely DEAF! He can’t even hear himself talk!

And for anyone who does any kind of public presentations would know, the biggest and best critic you could ever have is yourself.

The Most Creative Big-Government Slogan for 2001: Senator Tom Daschile – "You don’t professionalize until you federalize." Catchy. It insults the private sector and glorifies the government wonks all in one sentence.

The Biggest Bait-And-Switch Award For 2001: The Budget "Refund" – So we’re getting the money BACK, says Uncle Sam? WRONG! Just wait a few months when people realize that the money they got actually came from their future tax refund! When your individual or joint refund is short $300-600, be sure to remember where the money went, and remember who were the ones who warned you this was going to happen! Democrats and Republicans said not a peep about where the money was going to come from.

The Most Blatant Abuse Of Power In 2001 Award: The Fairfax County Golf Range Story – This was reported by Fox News and was the fourth case presented in Brutally Honest – LIVE’s ongoing series called "Government Out Of Control" on March 28th. Essentially the Fairfax County’s zoning board has been doing everything in its power to shut down the driving range owned and operated by John Thoburn simply to advance the competing driving range owned by the county. When the demands became too unreasonable, the county had Thoburn arrested and then intimidated Thoburn’s wife and three sons into exile. He was finally released from jail after the publicity, but the county still claims he owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

But as always, the real criminals are the robber-barons who sit in that local government, and who will never serve a day in jail for their heinous acts.

The Most Blatant Act Of Government Theft In 2001 Award: The Gold Club Trial – With evidence more flimsier than the outfits worn inside the club, the imperial federal government managed to pull off a cheap win by forcing the club owner to give up the strip club in exchange for the other defendants pleading to lesser charges. They once again prove the old barbarian proverb still holds true for the government: what the government wants, the government takes.

The Professional Wrestling Referee Award For Bias In 2001: Federal Judge Thomas Pinfield Jackson – Let’s see… would you trust your case to a judge who has shown contempt for you previously? Who sleeps through much of your trial? And shows utter contempt towards you in the media long before passing judgement on you? That’s exactly what Judge Jackson did in the federal antitrust case against Microsoft. The only way he could be any more biased against Bill Gates would be to have the logos of Sun Microsystems and America Online embroidered on his robes!

Fortunately, a federal appeals court ruled that Jackson WAS biased and bounced the punishment phase back to the lower court and told them to find a different judge. But my question is why did Microsoft’s legal team even LET the case get so far with Jackson on the bench? They could have easily claimed conflict of interest and probably fared much better with a different judge! I hope CEO Steve Ballmer is paying attention here… Microsoft should be playing for the win in the trial instead of in the appeals process.

The Thing That Would Not Die Award for 2001: The Florida Re-Re-Recount! – Yes, we know, it’s been well over a year, and even Al Gore admitted defeat, but apparently not the leadership of the Democratic Party, or the alphabet soup media. While Da Big W was being sworn in, party boss Terry McCauliffe and babymaker Jesse Jackson were talking about shadow governments. While Junior was getting his cabinet members confirmed, the reporters in Florida were counting ballots every which way possible, trying desperately to find some way to invalidate the Bush Administration. Even AFTER September 11th, when the whole country looked to Bush for leadership, the alphabet soup reporters were STILL counting those damned ballots!

Those ballots should’ve found their way into an incinerator after the first re-recount. The point is moot, Bush is president, and no amount of Chicago-style ballot fixing will ever change that! Do what us Libertarians have been doing for decades…. Accept it, deal with it, and move on to the next election!

The Biggest Software Non-Event for 2001: Windows XP – Oh yes, it’s more than just a bug fix for Windows ME, which was a bug fix for Windows 98, which was a bug fix for Windows 95… It gets rid of the whole Windows/DOS architecture and replaces it with Windows NT. This was the merging of Windows and Windows NT that SHOULD have been done in Windows 2000.

And I will say that it was easier to install the upgrade to XP than in any previous version of Windows. It didn’t take three hours like the folks at TechTV said it would take, and it pointed out all of the programs that may or may not work after the upgrade.

The problem, however, is compatibility. Not all programs that used to work under Windows 95, 98, or ME, or even NT or 2000, will work under XP. Companies like AOL and Sun also got dissed because of their influencing the federal antitrust lawsuit. Also, XP is not really for the "older" systems. It’s a HUGE memory and processing hog, and unless you’re using a high-end Pentium 4, you really shouldn’t be playing with this operating system.

Basically it’s the biggest effort since Windows 95 to get people to buy new computers… and it didn’t exactly work in an economic recession. People just aren’t buying what they can’t afford.

The Biggest Entertainment Non-Event for 2001: Michael Jackson – Sorry Mike, but it’s hard to pay attention to someone who looks like a refugee from Madame Toussant’s Wax Museum under hot lights. Your "big surprise" dancing with N’Sync at the MTV Music Video Awards was a joke. Your mega-star reunion special was a joke. The tip of your nose falling off and flying into the audience proves that your face is a joke. The sales of your new album were a joke. And quite frankly, Michael, YOU are a joke! Go back to your Neverland resort with your chimp and your oxygen tent and your kids. Or better yet, go back to Madame Toussant and have your face remade, and this time pay the full price!

The 2nd Biggest Entertainment Non-Event for 2001: Entertainers In Therapy – Yeah, let’s feel bad for A.J. and Mariah for having to go away for a little while. But only for a little while. It must be nice to be able to take time out of your lives so you can deal with your problems. The rest of us have to simply endure our burdens and keep going. There is no nice rehab clinic for us to check in and out of at our leisure like a hotel. There is no "pause" button on our lives.

The Biggest Sports Non-Event for 2001: Michael Jordan – Hey Mike, either you’re retired, or you’re not retired! Pick one and stick to it! You’re a straight player, Mike. You know you shouldn’t be playing the fans like that.

The "I Should’ve Been A Contender" Award for 2001: The XFL – Hey, I’ll give Vince McMahon more credit than the media EVER gave him… he really tried to come up with an alternative to the NFL! And he had some great ideas that the NFL ended up stealing.

And I have to admit… I LOVED seeing the cheerleaders! The NFL thinks that showing the cheerleaders are a nuisance, but the XFL at least recognized the value of eye-candy.

And let’s not forget "He Hate Me" and all of the other colorful sayings added on the backs of XFL jerseys! Allowing the players to be creative like that helped make the game that much more interesting!

The Most Underreported Talent For 2001: Playboy’s Playmates – While much publicity has been made about Joanie Laurer (formerly "Chyna" of the WWF), Darva Conger ("Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?"), and Jerri Manthey ("Survivor: The Australian Outback") and the various other celebrities who appeared in Playboy, very little has been said in 2001 about the women who become Playboy Playmates.

For instance, the USA Network featured the three Playmates of the Playboy X-treme Team very prominently in their airing of Eco-Challenge: Borneo. (Including, I might add, a rare scene of my friend Jenny Lavoie crying.) But Playboy gave very little mention of the team in the April issue, and even less in their own adult cable channel! Even the E! Network and Entertainment Tonight gave more exposure to these lovely ladies than the almighty bunny!

That wasn’t the only time they did that too. A few weeks later, the USA Network aired the "Cannonball Race 2001", featuring a team of Playmates. That got even LESS exposure on Playboy TV and very little in the magazine!

Mind you, this is the same magazine and TV channel that will give you regular monthly updates on platinum blondes like Pamela Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, and Brande Rodderick. These peroxide girls sneeze and it makes bunny headlines!

Look, Hollywood is a fickle and vain world, and to get noticed for what you do outside of Playboy to promote Playboy in a positive light needs to be recognized! When ESPN lists the X-treme Team in their Top-20, that needs to get more than a thirty-second spot or a column blurb.

The Mr. Magoo Award For 2001: The Economic Recession – In 2000, I made a prediction that if Al Gore won the election, you would not be hearing the word "recession" from the media until maybe six months to a full year. But if George W. Bush won, you’d be hearing the reporters utter the word "recession" almost the minute he is sworn in.

Sure enough, just HOURS into Bush’s tenure, reporters were speculating how he would be handling a "looming recession."

But the truth of the matter is that we’ve BEEN in a recession for quite some time now. The layoffs started to be announced back in 1998. Prices started to creep up in 1999. Remember the gasoline crunch last year? Growth started to subside in 2000. Even the common man such as myself could see these things happening. But you didn’t hear about it in the press because the media didn’t want to sullen the "legacy" one William Jefferson Clinton. No, they wanted to wait until someone else was in office so it would be THEIR problem, not Clinton’s.

I don’t know which is worse… the fact that the media’s conduct is pathetic, or the fact that it has become way too damned predictable!

The "Break The Mirror" Award For 2001: Senator Hillary Clinton – Much to her own dismay, the press loved to cover her during President Bush’s address to Congress following the 9-11 attacks. So they managed to get every scowl, dirty look, and expression of sheer and utter contempt that SHE was not the one addressing Congress. Every American got a chance to see the REAL Hillary then, the one that the late Barbara Olson described in her book "Hell To Pay".

Oh, and where was the "great New Yorker" during the World Series when the Yankees lost out to the Diamondbacks? Bush was there. Thug Giuliani was there. Why was Hillary a no-show?

Let’s not kid ourselves here… Hillary is pissed because all of this memorable history was happening and SHE was not at the center of it! SHE was not the making the calls for war. SHE was not the one creating the Department of Homeland Security. SHE was not the one ordering the secret police searches and the military tribunals. And odds are, SHE won’t GET that kind of political stroke until AFTER all of this blows down.

Congratulations Hillary! You’re now finding out what us Generation X folks have been going through after you Baby Boomers crapped in the social pool!

It sucks not being the center of attention, doesn’t it? Good! Welcome to life in the post-Clinton era!

"The Thing That Would Not Go Away" Award for 2001: Bill Clinton – Yes, we would all like to forget him now that he’s out of office. Unfortunately, we can’t. When he left office, he went on a last-minute pardon spree that is still being investigated. Too bad he didn’t issue himself one for all of the lying and obstruction of justice he did while in office. Then he basically settles up all of his past scandals by surrendering his law license for a little while (yeah, like he’d be using that), gets barred from the US Supreme Court, and still manages to find ways to hog media attention from his new home in New York.

That and we’re still paying for his past mistakes… namely the fact that he never really DID bring to justice the people behind the attack of the USS Cole, the people behind the attack of our servicemen in Somalia, and the people behind the attacks on our embassies. And wouldn’t you know it? Those people just happened to be the same ones responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11th! Maybe if Bubba DID the job he promised to do the first time, we never would have had to deal with 9-11!

The Most Over-hyped Award for 2001: Broadband Internet Access – Oh yes, broadband cable and DSL are wonderful devices that allow us to surf the Internet at breakneck speeds. They’re cheaper than buying a T1 line and much faster than using a 56K modem.

But they’re not the be-all, end-all in the universe.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the broadband providers were sending out fliers promoting their service and then telling many people they can’t provide that service in their area yet. What the hell was up with that, huh? Some dumb-ass consulting group trying to generate interest that just was not available?

And now the punch-line: Several members of Congress now think that broadband Internet access should be some new welfare entitlement program! THIS, my friends, is how badly this issue has been over-hyped! What’s next? Cyberspace access stamps? Forced logins for the underprivileged?

The George Orwell Newspeak Award For 2001: Attorney General John Ashcroft – So if anyone questions you, they’re siding with the terrorists? Talk about blatant presumptive arrogance! You sure you know which country you’re in, right John? Because it sounds like you came from Communist China!

Folks, remember the credo of Big Brother: war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is knowledge.

The Political Tool Award For 2001: Michael Shane Lassiter and Senator Max Cleland – Cleland has been the biggest bitch-and-crier for federalizing the airport security after 9-11. A typical Democrat, he loves making everyone a servant of Uncle Sam.

Well, wouldn’t you know that the SAME DAY that Congress decides to vote on this new airport security bill, Michael Shane Lassiter decides to be a huge butthead, bolt past security at Hartsfield Airport, and cause the hypersensitive airport staff to shut down Harstfield for several hours! Just in time for the House vote! You can guess how that vote turned out.

Someone asked me not too long after it happened whether or not the senator arranged it all simply to get Congress to vote in his favor. We’ll probably never know, and it really wouldn’t matter anyway. The only thing Mr. Lassiter has to worry about is whether or not he’ll have any money left in his name after the airlines and passengers sue him, and to deal with the embarrassment for acting like a nation-wide butthead.

And Finally…

The Toughest Break Award For 2001: Brutally Honest – LIVE and – Matthews’ Law was really working overtime with us this year.

Let’s get brutally honest here… Between Talk Liberty’s web provider hijacking the domain, the broadcast provider not responding to our sever being down for over a month, and our new web provider giving us another two weeks of server-related problems, we really couldn’t get too many shows done in the last half of 2001. It sucks, and what’s worse is that the archives had to be removed from the Internet. So the only way you can hear those old shows is for me to send them to you on CD.

Hopefully 2002 will be a much better year for us all.

Monday, December 10, 2001

Week of 12/10/2001

Web Woes 2001
- by David Matthews 2

"The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit." - Samuel Gompers

You know, one of the things I’ve heard from the older generations is how EASY things are for me. I’m sure my fellow Generation-X’ers heard it as well. Certainly the Gen-Y kids (or NeXters as they are sometimes called) are hearing it as well. How easy it is for us to live today compared to yesterday!

It’s not a new complaint. Every older generation boasts of the hardships they had to endure in their younger days. I think the only generation that NEVER had that problem was the first one. I think it would’ve been hard for Adam to tell his kids how HARD he and Eve suffered in the Garden of Eden. "When we were you’re age, we didn’t have clothes! We had to walk around NAKED! Naked, you hear me? Times were TOUGH!"

Well, being one of those at the forefront of the Gen-X crowd, I can say that our older peers were partially right. It HAS been easier for us than in previous generations in terms of creature comforts. I mean, once upon a time, you would NOT have found a grocery store open 24-hours a day! You wouldn’t have 24-hour cable news, and 24-hour weather reports, and 24-hour music videos, and 24-hour ANYTHING on TV. Cellular phones and Wall-Mart and as many ways to make coffee as there are for Baskin Robbin’s ice cream. All of these things that just were not around one generation ago!

Certainly the Internet and computers have played a HUGE role in providing many of our new creature comforts. Once upon a time, if the local store didn’t have what you needed, you had to get your stuff from a mail-order catalogue. Now, instead of going to a catalogue store, or playing those long waiting games with the postal service, we can go online and order just about ANYTHING we want, and have it delivered in a matter of DAYS instead of weeks. Instead of having to go to a library or a bookstore to get the news from someplace outside of your area, you can now go online and visit that publication’s website. Pen pals take on a whole new meaning online, where you can chat endlessly and instantaneously with people from all around the world.

But there is a downside to all of these creature comforts… and that is it makes us soft and impatient. We are now USED to having things instantly provided for. We want our double-filtered, extra-cream, no sugar, mocha blend coffee now, not in ten minutes. We want our favorite movies now. We don’t want to drive to the theatre and have be there on THEIR schedules, then have to put up with noisy people and uncomfortable seats and who-knows-what on the floor under our shoes. We expect things to be open and available at OUR schedules, not the other way around.

And of all of the creature comforts, instant information HAS to be the number one creature comfort today. We crave instant messages and cell phones and pagers and getting e-mail from a PDA. Laptop computers are almost as big and powerful as any desktop, and people keep on talking about those soon-to-be released tablet computers that look like something out of Star Trek.

So imagine, then, our reaction when we are cut off from some of those creature comforts.

It’s not a pretty sight.

It’s like taking away a baby’s pacifier. We get cranky. We get irritable. We get annoyed. We throw temper tantrums. And we expect someone to fix things.

Remember a few years ago when America Online suffered from growing pains? AOL made the mistake of offering unlimited access before they had the infrastructure to handle all those millions of users staying online. It was a colossal blunder, one that cost them in terms of subscribers and in terms of bad public relations. People who just did not want to deal with busy signals switched to Internet Service Providers who were eager to take their money and had access to spare!

But even if they did not switch, oh did the subscribers bitch and cry! They wailed and moaned for satisfaction like a bunch of babies who needed their ba-ba. Oh woe are we, woe are we, we cannot get our daily fix!

Like I said, it’s not a pretty sight.

And some of those dissatisfied subscribers even went so far as to hire lawyers and file lawsuits against AOL! They actually tried to claim false advertising or some kind of unwritten expectation of instant access. In either case, the lawsuits didn’t go very far. But it did demonstrate just how upset the subscribers were when they couldn’t get their fix for information.

Well recently one ISP has taken Internet woes to a new level. Excite@Home was one of the major suppliers of broadband Internet content. If you had access to the Internet via a cable provider like AT&T, Comcast, or Cox Communications, odds are it was provided through Excite.

You would think that a company that had a lock on so many productive cable providers (which in and of themselves are government-endorsed monopolies) would be financially secure. It turns out, though, that Excite wasn’t as secure as expected. They were so badly off that they turned to one of their own clients – AT&T – to buy them out. Realizing that Excite wouldn’t be able to survive the winter, the Ma Bell company said no, and then set up its own broadband connections. The other cable providers soon had to follow suit when Excite arbitrarily cut off all connections two weeks ago.

The effect was predictable… millions of cable subscribers were cut off from the Internet. No browsing, no IM’ing, no chatting, no e-mailing, no downloading, and no streaming. Blank screens and "Unable to connect" messages all around!

And the info junkies were PISSED! Some of them didn’t even realize how the demise of Excite would affect them. After all, they got their service through Cox or Comcast or XYZ Cable. That’s who they paid their subscriptions to. And now those companies were unable to provide the service that they paid for.

But let’s get brutally honest here… the demise of Excite was somewhat predictable, not to mention inevitable. The company was, after all, a middleman. They provided the link between the cable companies and the Internet, but that’s all they provided. Outside of the routers and converters, Excite@Home basically milked off the cable lines of its own clients. Their connection to the Internet wasn’t unique to them, it was just a time-saver for cable providers who were otherwise clueless how to make the connection. It was only a matter of time before a company like AT&T would say "Screw them! We’ve got the technology right here, we don’t need them to do this!" After all, why would the original telephone company, who has its own ISP, even WANT to deal with middlemen, except out of sheer corporate laziness?

And I have a feeling Excite knew that as well, which was why the execs made the decision to arbitrarily shut off service now instead of when they would officially shut down in February of 2002. It was an object lesson to the cable subscribers to show just how much they need their info fix, and to cable providers to show just how lazy they really were.

What was also inevitable was the screed coming from those who considered the demise of Excite, and the cutting off of Net access for millions, as the perfect excuse to have the government do what Netizens have rallied against for five years: regulate the Internet.

One talking head from the Ziff-Davis Network considered Excite’s shutdown to be the perfect reason why government should be running things online. After all, broadband access IS the newest entitlement, right? Right up there with food, clothing, shelter, and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire".

Well I’ve got a question for Mister David Coursey and his "We can’t trust private business" socialistic big-government mindset: What makes you think the GOVERNMENT can do a better job? Before you answer that, why don’t you take a look at the 2001 Federal Tax Code to see why Congress is the direct opposite of progress.

Would government regulation have stopped Excite from going under? Certainly not! If anything, the government would have forced ALL the cable companies to use Excite’s services, creating a danger for even more subscribers when Excite eventually falls.

And as for his drivel about the so-called "failure" of deregulation, I only have two words: WHAT deregulation?

California’s public utilities were NEVER deregulated! Neither were the airlines, or the phone services. Believe me, if these venues WERE really and truly deregulated, there would have been government agencies shut down and government employees laid off and scores of regulatory book that would have gone into incinerators. Instead, these venues were RE-regulated. Rules were changed here and there. Regulatory agencies were told to stop focusing at one area and instead look someplace else. But were they ever really deregulated? Please! Stop deluding yourself!

While the government may have laid down the foundation to the Internet, everything that makes it what it is today came AFTER the government got out of the Internet business in 1988. The federal government did NOT invent hypertext protocols. A private group did. The federal government did NOT invent streaming media. A private company did. The federal government did NOT invent the browsers and chat programs you use. Private companies did. What makes you think the government could do what private companies have been inspired to do?

Look, the important thing to bear in mind is that access to the Internet is NOT an entitlement program. Yes, a provider going down will cause some inconvenience. It sucks not having instant information. It sucks not having access to your e-mail all the time. But it isn’t permanent, and you’re more than free to find some other provider that CAN give you what you want. That’s something the government CANNOT provide!

Progress is not perfect. The telephone system wasn’t instantaneous when it first got started. The first automobiles were sometimes more trouble than they were worth. The Wright Brothers crashed their first airplanes. Radio and television were far from flawless in their early years. The Internet is no different in that regard. Sure, we are going to have companies stumble and fall. Providers are going to be bought out and go bankrupt, and people are going to be inconvenienced. Suck it up and deal with it, because inconvenience serves as the greatest incentive for change!

Besides, twenty or thirty years down the road, you’re going to be the ones telling your kids and grandkids how TOUGH things were for you at their age.

Monday, December 3, 2001

Week of 12/03/2001

Using The "T"-Word
- by David Matthews 2

"You can tell the man who rings true from the man who rings false, not by his deeds alone, but also his desires." - Democritus

The one thing that then-Texas Governor George W. Bush liked to say separated him from then-Vice President Al Gore in his 2000 race for the Presidency is character. Sure, ol’ Bush Junior would say that he’s made mistakes. He’s not perfect. But he owned up to them. He admitted to them. And he paid the price for them.

And the Republicans were quick to sing the never-ending praises for Da Big W’s pick for Attorney General. John Ashcroft, after all, was a former member of Congress. (Never mind he had been voted out of office in 2000 by a dead man.) He was a man of virtue and character, and he wouldn’t let the Justice Department be mired in the political shenanigans that tainted that department under the watch of Janet Reno.

So after the 9-11 terrorist attacks on America, and the subsequent unleashing of Anthrax and of Anthrax hoaxes, Bush and Ashcroft both pledged to hunt down those responsible for the despicable acts.

"If you send Anthrax through the mail, you’re a terrorist!" decried Bush in a public form in October. "And if you send an Anthrax hoax through the mail, you’re a terrorist!"

And the people applauded that statement. It was direct and straightforward. There was no quibbling there. No Clinton-like soft lawyer-like language involved. If you sent Anthrax through the mail, you were a terrorist. Period. And if you sent an Anthrax hoax through the mail, you were also a terrorist. Period.

USA Today went so far in their October 25th editorial as to call all those who send Anthrax or even Anthrax hoaxes as collaborators of Osama bin Laden, and as such guilty of treason against the United States of America. Harsh words, perhaps, but it certainly reflects the sentiment many of us share about these people who would create fear and havoc in America.

So imagine this commentator’s surprise, then, when the FBI announced this past week who they believe was responsible for the mailing of over 200 Anthrax hoaxes to women’s clinics across America. Not that they wouldn’t find out who this person was, or that the so-called "Army of God" was nothing more than an escaped prisoner by the name of Clayton Lee Waagner.

What surprised this commentator was how the FBI DID NOT describe this man.

Yes, they said he is believed to be armed and dangerous, and to possess strong survival skills. Yes, they said he has a history of violence, including bank robbery, carjacking, and possessing bombs and stolen firearms. Yes, he considered himself to be appointed by God to be a "holy warrior", not unlike the Islamic mujadaheen, and believed it was his sworn mission in life to kill doctors who provided abortions.

But what Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the FBI… and for that matter many of the members of the media… did not mention in describing Mr. Clayton Lee Waagner was the dreaded "T" word. Terrorist.

Remember what Bush said about those who send Anthrax hoaxes by mail? He called those people terrorists, right? If that is the case, why aren’t Bush’s people calling Clayton Lee Waagner a terrorist? Or even a suspected terrorist? Where’s Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge, and why isn’t he coordinating efforts with his state and regional counterparts to track down and bring in this suspected terrorist before he strikes again? He’s clearly proven to be a threat to the well-being of American citizens.

We’ve spent two months since the terrorist attacks of September 11th being told by Bush and his people that we have to take a firm and hard line against terrorism, no matter if they are overseas or in our own backyard. They have asked for and received unprecedented powers over and above the old Alien and Sedition Act. Even after getting as much raw executive power as Joseph Stalin, they are saying it is still not good enough to start tracking down the bad guys. They have generated so many "alerts" now that even the boy who cried wolf is calling us drama queens! They have fouled up airport security so badly in many places that it is almost cost-effective to simply WALK to your intended destination instead of fly! They have turned us into skittish Chicken Littles, afraid not only of our own shadow, but even the light creating our shadows!

But let’s get brutally honest here… Even after we have been told to be aware of terrorists, here we have a clear example of domestic terrorism, and the Bush Administration is hesitant to call it for what it is, never mind treat it as such!

Oh, but wait a minute! This guy Waagner isn’t a threat to EVERY American, is he? No, this one-man self-professed "Warrior of God" is only a threat to doctors and clinic workers and patients who go to women’s clinics and people who support the right of a woman to choose.

In other words, he’s not really a terrorist in the eyes of the Bush Administration, is he? No, he’s just a spirited and misguided pro-life activist who just happens to also be a dangerously armed escaped convict. And since many members of the Bush Administration are decidedly pro-life (or to be more specific, anti-abortion), it would be no skin off their teeth if this terrorist continues his wild and wacky ways without having to bring the nation’s new anti-terrorism forces to bear.

This sets up a very dangerous and hypocritical precedent for the Bush Administration. How can the Administration be trusted with protecting Americans from terrorism when they cannot even properly identify domestic terrorists simply because they happen to share the same social ends?

How can President Bush claim to speak up for tolerance and freedom, when his people are harassing college students who display questionable posters, and then turning a passive eye to those who pose as much a threat to this nation as do any other terrorist from around the world?

Terrorism is the perversion of activism. It smears all legitimate forms of protesting and political persuasion, and it condemns any cause that it claims to support. That has been the message we have been trying to tell the world since September 11th. I don’t think that any legitimate pro-life supporter – especially those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ – would want to be associated with wanted terrorists like Clayton Waagner. And yet, the refusal of the Bush Administration to identify and differentiate between terrorists like Waagner and peaceful pro-life protesters only serves to bloody and condemn the pro-life movement. Is that what you pro-lifers want?

Francis Bacon once said that "Constancy is the foundation of virtue." If Bush and his people want to continue to be seen as the paragons of character and virtue they campaigned as in 2000, then they have to be willing to go after terrorists from EVERY corner, including those whose political leanings they may agree with.