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Terrors to Come – Part Eight: Trick or Treat By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 31, 2001

"HE LOOKS SHAKEN, REALLY CONCERNED," said my wife Ellen as we watched Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Monday warning of possible terrorist attacks in the U.S. or overseas sometime during the next seven days.

"He looks like he’s been told these attacks could be something really big," she continued. "I bet they come on Halloween." Halloween, of course!

Muslim supporters of Osama bin Laden are calling on the United States to cease its attacks during their holy month of daylight fasting, Ramadan (The Prophet Mohammed himself picked up the sword during that month, as have Islamic warriors from then until now. The Iran-Iraq war never stopped for Ramadan. In 1973, Egypt attacked Israel on the holiest Jewish day, Yom Kippur – which that year came during Ramadan.)

So nobody expects Muslim terrorists to honor the highest religious unholy day of Hillary Clinton, who ran the coven at the heart of her President husband Bill Clinton’s "New Covenant."

Why would these fanatics, who violate and profane the Koran by sacrificing innocents in the name of Allah, respect the one religious holiday of the year – the pagan witchcraft day of human sacrifice and devilment known as Samhain (pronounced "SOW" –

like a female pig – "-en.") – celebrated in our public schools?

In those same socialist schools, of course, Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious celebrations are forbidden as violations of the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state. (Why do we not instead have a Constitutionally-required separation of school and state?)

Halloween is among the worst nights of every year for mischief, vandalism, and crime. Usually-empty streets are filled with roving bands of people in disguises. And masks that might draw police attention on any other night, on Halloween conceal the faces of innocents and evildoers alike.

This year, Halloween coincides with a full moon, namesake of lunatics. The full moon brings at least slightly more crime and psychiatric disturbance, some controversial research suggests. And this year we are near an 11.4-year sunspot maximum and its higher rate of geomagnetic storms, which also correlate to blips in psychiatric hospital admissions. Monday was among the most accident-prone days of the year as millions of us suffered the subtle jet-lag of the hour fallback from Daylight Saving Time. Many will have trouble sleeping this Halloween, even without Mr. Ashcroft’s warning to twist their dreams into nightmares.

You will recall that former Missouri Senator Ashcroft was almost denied confirmation as Attorney General by lawmakers who did not want a devout Christian in that position. On Monday it appeared that Mr. Ashcroft has come face-to-face with the literal truth of President George W. Bush’s repeated assertion: we are now fighting "the Evil ones."

Alongside Ashcroft on Monday, FBI director Robert Mueller added that the government’s information was not "specific as to intended target or intended method," but urged local authorities to be "extremely vigilant."

"But vigilant against what?" wrote David Stout of the New York Times, skating the edge of editorializing.

The question is not unfair. With no hint of the when, where, what or who of vigilance, what is the use of this warning? Is it, as some wags suggest, merely an exercise in the Bush Administration covering its backside, giving itself a way to say that it did not leave the nation unwarned if something happens?

More likely this statement, like a similar warning the FBI issued on the October 11 one-month anniversary of September 11, was the Bush Administration’s "signal" to deter Osama bin Laden. Like the signals bin Laden is suspected of sending in code to his agents via televised interviews, the Ashcroft warning could be a forthright way of semaphoring to the terrorists: "We have detected your plans and are laying in wait to strike if you try to carry them out."

But with Halloween upon us, what are you and I to do in light of such a warning? The FBI reportedly has been looking into the purchase of "large quantities" of candy by one man from Costco stores in Hackensack and Wayne, New Jersey. Is there, God forbid, a plot afoot to poison trick-or-treaters by the thousands?

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York State, Dutchess County officials have "removed names from several government buildings." Why? County Public Works Commissioner Paul Cassillo, reported the newspaper, told them that "Signs identifying those structures were taken down to make it harder for potential terrorists to find them."

Great idea. The terrorists will be too stupid to look up the address of their target building in the local telephone book. But citizens needing to go to such buildings will have the smarts to let their fingers do that walking. My question for Poughkeepsie – as a precaution, why not build fake buildings, the way Hollywood does, to put these target names on? That way the terrorists will be fooled into attacking the wrong places.

Crazy times make for crazy solutions. The Pentagon has already appealed to Americans to suggest innovative ways to fight terrorism, hinting that the best ideas might lead to government contracts. This might produce some brilliant idea.

And as public tension and spread of anthrax letters continues week after week, partisan politics is gradually reasserting itself. One manifestation of this has been a legislative wrestling match over whether to federalize the folks who screen you at airports. At present such screeners are paid by the airlines themselves.

Most Democrats in Congress have argued that these private screeners get minimum wage and minimum training, leading to slipshod security and safety. They should be replaced with highly-trained, highly-paid Federal employees.

Most Republicans in Congress counter that nobody has more incentive than the airlines themselves to keep the airplanes they own secure. Private screeners could be given federal training and oversight to raise their standards. But to federalize them would make air travel significantly more expensive, especially on small airport commuter feeder flights where today the airline’s ticket clerk now doubles as screener as boarding time nears. It would be prohibitively expensive to have full-time Federal screeners at airports with only a handful of flights each day.

But the real issue is political. As House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R.-Texas) spokesman Gregg Crist puts it, adding almost 30,000 federalized screeners into a national government union would generate at least $27 million per year in union dues.

A hefty chunk of such dues would wind up in the coffers of the Democratic Party and its candidates for office. It’s like taxing fliers to fund Democrats.

A few days ago I found myself debating this issue on a friend’s national radio show with Democratic Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, affectionately known in the House as the nut from Walnut Creek, California. She sits on the Armed Services and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees.

What, I asked, about unionizing these proposed Federal screeners? "They are already unionized," she said but refused further comment when I asked how unionized employees could be earning minimum wage and be incompetent.

Let’s suppose that today’s airline-paid screeners are replaced with these Federal employee screeners you favor, I asked; if the Federal screener dozes off and lets an armed terrorist onto the airplane, will the Federal Government accept liability for this slip-up and take financial responsibility when this terrorist crashes the airliner? Sniffed Congresswoman Tauscher, "Of course not."

So there you have the classic Leftist Democrat answer to everything: "We want the government to have all power and all money. But we take no responsibility if our monopoly power does something wrong."

The usual response of Leftists like Congresswoman Tauscher is to point to socialist Europe and declare that we should emulate them in government policy. Democrats are saying no such thing about this issue. The reason? As the October 29 Wall Street Journal Editorial noted, "in Europe 85%-90% of airport-security workers are privately employed."

Why, then, is President Bush starting to show signs of giving in to greedy, self-serving Democratic pressure on this issue?

What America needs are deeper reforms. Our government airports should be entirely privatized. And we should be turning away from highly-centralized, terrorist-tempting giant hub airports where a plane takes off or lands every minute of the day. Instead, as James Fallows argues in his latest book Free Flight: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel, much more air travel could be done via smaller air "taxis" that fly directly from one small community airport to another.

On other fronts, while waiting for doomsday, we can at least smile at some of the world’s odd news. You, too, can profit from skyscraper terrorism fears by investing in Executivechute of Three Rivers, Michigan. This entrepreneurial company sells parachutes that would give someone trapped on the 10th floor or higher of a World Trade Center-like building the hope of jumping to safety. Oh, you might get banged up as winds blew you into adjacent buildings or power lines, but you would have more of a chance than did those people who jumped to their deaths or went down with those seemingly-unsinkable vertical Titanic towers on September 11.

Necromancer John Edward, a psychic whom many believe can communicate with the dead, has canceled plans to air one or more television shows in which he would help families commune with loved ones who died in the World Trade Center towers. That "Crossing Over with John Edward" would profit from using these victim families apparently caused furious public reaction.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service plans to turn envelopes into burial urns for trillions of anthrax spores and other bioweapon agents. It is acquiring ion beam sterilizers that should be able to zap such bugs in letters passing through the Post Office. Whether this will kill all these germs, spores and viruses is debatable, but it will doubtless be more effective than steam-ironing them for 45 minutes or (as one New Jersey woman did) igniting the mail cooking in your microwave.

More certain is that such ion beams can discolor or damage a wide variety of things, from gemstones and floppy discs to electronic circuits and even the ink in photographs. What arrives in your mail soon may be sterile inside but have erased memories.

Political correctness seems to be softening a bit, at least in Europe. Great Britain’s Independent Television Commission has forbidden insensitive ethnic epithets in advertising. Thus an ad cannot call the French "frogs."

But days ago this commission ruled that to call Germans "krauts" is not racist or unacceptably offensive, but merely humorous – at least in an ad that says: "The krauts are coming… with unbeatable quality."

Kraut, of course, derives from the pickled cabbage of German cuisine, sauerkraut. But arguably "frogs" is likewise a reference to a popular item of French cuisine, frog legs. Why the double standard? Well, what do Limeys (a label from the limes British sailors sucked to avoid the Vitamin C-deficiency disease scurvy) know?

And the European Union’s European Commission has held that Woolworth’s need not offer for sale the exact same number of "Mother Christmas" outfits as Father Christmas outfits in order to abide by EU "sexual equality" laws. An EU spokeswoman dismissed Woolworth’s public announcement that it might have to do this as a "marketing prank."

EU spokesman Andrew Fielding, as Reuters reported, "said that the EU’s executive arm, often berated for meddling too much in citizens’ lives, would not be breaking down sexual stereotypes by giving Santa a female partner.

"He also noted," the Reuters story continued, "that reindeer portrayed as pulling Santa’s sleighs were all female – male reindeer lose their antlers before the winter while females keep them until the spring."

So apparently in today’s European Union, names like Donder, Blitzen, Vixen, Prancer and Rudolph are recognized as female names. And those female reindeer navigating Santa’s sleigh are unafraid to stop and ask directions as they deliver the Jolly Fat Guy to 9,000 chimneys per second around the world on Christmas night without causing a single sonic boom.

But as the pundits of political correctness have asked in recent years, what kind of role model for kids is Santa Claus? He overeats, exploits reindeer and elves, wears fur, and – gasp – smokes a pipe.

His one virtue to those on the Left is that Santa Claus (if not St. Nicholas) is almost wholly a pagan infusion into Christmas. Like the Easter Bunny (mythical egg-laying sidekick of the pagan Teutonic goddess of dawn Oestre), Santa has become a replacement for Christ in Christian holidays. St. Hillary, meanwhile, just uses a broom, but like Santa justifies what she does as being "for the children."

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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