Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Friday, February 24, 2006

Write Your Own Caption, I Dare You

Sometimes the imagery is unconscious, and therefore hilarious.

Sometimes the imagery is conscious, and therefore even more hilarious.

I most sincerely hope this is an example of the latter.

Wow. All I can say is wow.

So many jokes leap to mind...oh many...the snake and the trousers...the spilling cup of liquid...the spread legs...the woman looking on in shock and

Man. What caption should we give this panel?

(Note the clever application of my krazy mad graphics design skillz, using the "spraypaint" function to obscure background noise in the panel. Hell to the yeah!)

A better cropping job on the picture, a good caption, and this could be a top-selling "Successories" poster.

Click here to read more!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Great Scott! The Fiend!

Lex Luthor. Arch-criminal. Super-genius. Bald guy.

As has been pointed out by smart folks before, Luthor is a bellwether of what frightens people.

Luthor's first appearance cast him as a foreign despot, a caricature of the standard-issue Evil Foreigner. Considering that the Second World War was in the early stages, this seems like a predictable bogeyman.

However, "foreign badguy" was a motif didn't last beyond his first appearence. Throughout the forties and fifties, Luthor was the archetypal Mad Scientist.

Luthor had the traditional Mad Scientist accoutrements: bald head, labs, death rays, intimidating name, the works. His artistic ancestors ran thick through the pulp magazines that predated comics, creating robots and bubbling potions.

But why? Why a "mad scientist?" And why was he a good opponent for Superman? How could a guy equipped only with Big Time Smarts be a match for a demigod?

I got me a theory.

The Luthor question begs the question "what is Superman?" Superman is a power fantasy, one of the purest examples to be found. He can do anything, unbound by physical restrictions. He can lift anything, move as fast as light, and is unrestricted even by the primal force of gravity. Plus he looks good in tights.

What is the nemesis of the power fantasy?

Whatever gives feelings of helplessness. The nemesis of a reader's power fantasy is whatever the reader feels has power over him.

In the first half of the twentieth century, science fit this bill. Technology expanded wildly in the twentieth century. Everyday life altered faster in that century than any period in history. And there wasn't much people could do to stop it. That's unnerving.

Then in 1945, science had produced the greatest terror imaginable: armageddon in a can.

Against this, what did the average person have? What if science created something horrible? Your world changed whether you liked it or not. Granted, most of this change was for the better, but the lack of control, the lack of power, was frightening.

Science had the world by the scruff of the neck, it seemed, and it unnerved a lot of folks.

Over time, as people grew accustomed to the benefits of science and a little less certain that atomic war was imminent, the idea of an Evil Scientist grew less powerful in the public mind. Science had its drawbacks, but it had its finer moments too. It became seen as more of a positive thing. Mad Scientists diminished in the public mind.

In 1960, Luthor changed again.

Perhaps reflective of the "Juvenile Delinquent" scares so common in popular culture of the fifties and the simultaneous growth of popular interest in psychology, Luthor gained a troubled childhood.

Rather than being Eeeevil for the sake of Eeeevil, Luthor became a man of great potential twisted by youthful trauma. (Granted, the trauma was ridiculous, but hey, we're dealing with children's stories. If every balding man swore revenge against the world for his hair loss, we'd be in a lot of trouble.)

In the revised Luthor story, Superboy accidentally harmed his friend Lex, and as a result was cursed with an implacable nemesis.

Psychology pushed into the public eye a new thing to fear, a new object to thwart our power fantasies: guilt. No matter how powerful Superman is, he could not undo the damage he had done in the past, even when it was a childhood accident. Physical power meant nothing against that.

The decades passed, comics rolled on, and Luthor continued to cackle, escape prison, hatch master plans, and get tossed right back into the pokey. He carried on as a mad scientist, to less and less effect. (His background as "the man driven insane by baldness" faded away, as readers found it just too dang silly.)

The Superman movie of 1978 introduced a new vision of Luthor. Gene Hackman portrayed Lex as part mad scientist, part used car salesman. He appeared to be a huckster with bad hair and cheap suit who talks a snappy line of patter. He seemed ridiculous and transparent, an obvious would-be low-level con man, easily dismissed and ignored. Underneath this facade was a megalomaniac with a plan to hijack nuclear weapons and make a vast fortune by the murder of tens of millions of people.

The Hackman Luthor was a fine bogeyman for the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era: the would-be charmer people thought they could write off as a buffoon, a devil with a warm smile and mass murder for profit in his heart.

The comic book Luthor also evolved during this period. With the public's growing acceptance of science, his "evil scientist" aspect became less important, as did his "embittered childhood friend" angle. Luthor became more of a generic super-villain. Part of this transformation entailed Lex stealing an alien battlesuit that put him on a physical par with Superman. Luthor became just another strong guy who'd show up to punch out the strong hero. Yawn.

This was not all that happened, however. In the late seventies and early eighties, Luthor acquired a new characteristic: an undercurrent of nobility.

For example, in the page below, Luthor gives up his chance to escape from Superman in order to save a drowning teenage boy. The Luthor of 1945 would not only have left the kid to die, he would have done so with a maniacal cackle. Not so the Luthor of 1980.

Science was no longer perceived by the public as The Enemy, the great implacable Outside Power that frightened us. It had done too much good. Therefore, the World's Greatest Scientist reformed, to a certain extent. He changed from Murderous Super-Villain to "Superman's Sparring Partner." He was a thief and, in theory, still dangerous, but his menace was gone.

The entire Superman line was revamped in 1986, leading to a dramatic change in Lex Luthor. Knowing that science didn't scare people anymore, Marv Wolfman and John Byrne tapped into a new fear.

In 1986, who was felt to have great power over normal people? Scientists? Not really. Power lay with wealthy businessmen, and everybody knew it. Vast wealth means vast power, and concentrated power scares people. If a multibillionaire decides to mess with you, what could you do in response?

This angle also gave Superman new troubles, since Luthor was no longer a maniac in a green-and-purple jumpsuit piloting a rocket-powered Ape-Bot to destroy Metropolis. That Luthor was easy to stop. The new Lex Luthor was one of the most respected citizens of the United States, a captain of industry, and a ruthless bastard. He couldn't be touched by the law, since he was both cautious of his public image and so powerful that he owned the law.

This fear took an interesting turn a few years back. Luthor ran for President of the United States in 2000. And won.

President Lex Luthor. No foolin'. For four years of DC Comics, Lex Luthor was as the President.

Again, Lex Luthor became an example of what we fear most, of what we see as having power over us today: a zillionaire politician. Popular culture of the nineties was rife with distrust of the government. The comics processed this fear to produce a new nightmare: President Luthor.

Possibly because the zeitgeist has changed, possibly out of boredom, or most likely out of the constraints that "President Lex" puts on possible stories, Luthor recently flipped out, donned green battle armor, and started causing trouble in his mid-eighties fashion. He's no longer the President--he's just another would-be world conquering schmuck in powered armor.

Which strikes me as a mistake. Luthor should be the man who has power over us, not just another supervillain. That's my theory, leastways.

I'm not sure what Luthor should be now. What has power over everyday people that we all resent and/or fear?

Is the retro-armored Luthor supposed to reflect our fear of terrorism? A stateless madman with a thirst for bloody revenge? I'm not sure. Perhaps the change was motivated simply by bad thinking, and Luthor is in another fallow period, waiting for the chance to escape the "interchangable super-villain" mold and be recast as the newest form of Feared and Unchecked Power.

What should he be now?

A terrorist? A lawyer? A spammer, perhaps? Any suggestions?

I leave you here with one of my favorite Luthor moments. It's simple, direct, and wicked sweet: Luthor blasts a heat ray into the ocean and creates a super-hot tidal wave to destroy Metropolis.

That's freakin' awesome. Nobody uses heat rays anymore, dang it.

Stuff like that reminds me of why I got into super-villainy. The hours are long, but the rewards are substantial.

Note: Most pictures on this entry came from the excellent site, which bestrides the narrow comic book internet like a colossus. Thanks for the brilliant site, guys.

Click here to read more!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Can't Quite Get It Together

I know I've been quiet the last few days. Man, I can't figure out what to blog about.

Lately I've been bored by the World-O-Comics, and can't muster up the enthusiasm to write about 'em.

Mainstream comics are so dull these days as to make my ears bleed, the few indy comics I've been digging aren't inspiring my usual silly odes, and I can't bring myself to raid old comics out of my boxes right now. I just did that with Groo the Wanderer.

A bunch of half-formed ideas for essays have drifted past my fevered brain as possibilities:

--A retrospective of boyhood-with-cable Gen-X touchstone movies, such as The Beastmaster, The Last Starfighter, and The Last Dragon. ("Who's the Master? Sho'Nuff!") Comics fandom wallows in nostalgia; why not wallow in a different mire for a bit?

--Copping from Dave's Long Box again and including a few of the great "F$*% YEAH!" moments in film.*

--P.G. Wodehouse: The Masta! (A sample passage from The Masta: "We exchanged significant glances. At least, I gave him a significant glance and he looked like a stuffed frog, his habit when being discreet." Heh.)

--"Gray Hats and Tin Stars: The Hooerhouse America of Jonah Hex."**

All of these are in some stages of completion on my hard drive, and will likely see the light of day sooner or later, as soon as I get off my ample and hirsute butt.

Then there's my Big Fat Vanity Project: a version of the Seven Soldiers of Victory project, this time done for Marvel Comics, and by yers truly.

Grant Morrison's SSoV project is impressive, but more than anything, it looked to me like a hell of a lot of fun to write.

So I'm doing it too, despite the fact it'll never see print. Recycling and reviving old properties by reinterpreting them and creating a collection of interlocking miniseries with a unifying theme running through them all?


In case you're wondering, yes, as I suspected, it's a blast to write. Now if only I can develop it to the point where it's a blast to read. Therein lies the challenge.

A real post will follow soon. Throwing this junk onto a page helped clear the decks for actual thinking and suchlike. Phew.
*If you don't feel like screaming "F*$& YEAH!" at least twice during The Right Stuff, you are a dirty, dirty communist and probably torture kittens with car batteries.

**Note the faux-academic title. Hells yeah! Pretension is fun!

But you can tell I never went to graduate school due to the title's lack of words like "hermeneutics" and "epistomology." Next year I'll see about working that crap in. How about "The Ontology of Squirrel Girl: Nihilism, Neoplatonism, Nietzsche, and Nut(s)?" Man, I feel like Baudrillard already.

Click here to read more!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Form a Super Guy!

Once in a while, comics create true magic. For example, the mid-sixties and Archie.

The success of Marvel Comics and the Adam West Batman TV show created a brief superhero craze in the mid-sixties. Archie Comics thought they'd have their fun with it. Archie, Betty, and Reggie all became super-characters.

And so did Jughead. Oh, Jughead.

Here we see his transformation into his own super-character, "Captain Hero."

Behold the awesomeosity of this scene. You have Jughead Jones, a great character. You have a "magic beanie." You have a transformative chant that works so well it's been stuck in my head for twenty-five years.* You have sound effects that match those of a toaster shorting out. And best of all, you have the brilliant costume design.

What's Captain Hero's symbol? Look closely at his chest.

Yeah, it's a hamburger in a heart. Let that sink in. A hamburger in a heart.

Rock. On.

The symbol provides the elegance of haiku, the dynamism of the superhero comic, the charm that always infects Archie comics...ah, so good.

(My thanks to Robby Reed and his ever-astonishing Dial B For Blog, from whom I copied the image. His Archie-as-superhero week has been a riot.)

*Yes, really. As a wee bairn, I bought a copy of an Archie digest that had a bunch of the superhero-style stories. The Archie/Betty/Reggie stories didn't make an impression, but Jughead? Even as a child I knew Jughead to be my alter ego. Giving him cool-ass superpowers and a symbol I can get behind was, to my young eyes, genius. That dang "teeny weenie magic beanie" chant has popped up in my skull at least once a month since then. Aaaagh.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

North by Southleft

To conclude "Groo Week," it feels necessary to include Groo's opposite number, The Sage. As bright as Groo was dim, the Sage (and his dog, Mulch) often found himself thrown together with the wanderer. Like so many readers, the Sage felt affection for the poor dumb bugger.

A representative scene of their relationship is below. The Sage stumbled upon Groo fraying alone against dozens of soldiers. Groo was, as per usual, winning. Taking pity on the soldiers, the Sage shouted that Groo had the plague. The soldiers ran away, and the Sage was pleased. But as he turned to speak to Groo, he found the barbarian gone as well. The Sage looked around until...

It's not Noel Coward, but it's funny, consarn it.


Groo the Wanderer brought joy. Pure, goofy joy.

Among my many thousands of comics are only a handful of issues preserved in mylar bags. They are random comics here and there, usually bagged for no particular reason than one was handy as I was putting the comic away. Only one spot in one longbox holds an uninterrupted string of carefully-bagged issues. Ayup. Groo is the only comic I ever bothered to protect like that. I love them so.

Groo the Wanderer was a well-drawn book crammed with detail and style, starring a good-hearted killing machine with the brain of a turnip. The book was jam-packed with poetry, jokes, and references to gardening.

It is one of the greats.

And yet there is more. For beyond these great qualities, there is also its philosophical merit, unparalleled in comics.

Is there another comic that so encapsulates the human condition?

I think not.


Cheese dip for everyone, on me!

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Am I Not Lovely, O Man?

Cross-dressing: a source of great humor to the British, occasionally amusing to everyone else.

Groo, of course, makes it work.

Groo the Wanderer #6, "The Eye of Kabula," gives the Wanderer a chance to flaunt his feminine wiles. Such as they are.

Below is the double-splash, typical of a Sergio Aragones comic. (I lost a bit on the right-hand side due to a smallish scanner bed. Sorry, folks.) Good lord, that man can cram a lot of things into a space. For those unacquainted with Aragones's work, please note that this double-page splash is a little less crammed than his usual big crowd scenes. Still, there's a lot to see here.

(As per usual, click on any image in the post to expand it.)

The man speaking to Groo sells him a fruit (overcharging him horribly) and relates the town's tale of woe. The statue in the center of town, a likeness of the god Kabula, has an eye made from a giant ruby. Without the ruby, a great curse will visit the town. However, the ruby is gone, recently taken.

Groo, happy to have a quest, decides to retrieve the ruby and help the town. Why? Because he loves quests. Besides, grateful villagers might pay him in coins and cheese dip.

Groo undertakes his quest, ruminating how this particular task will take more than his usual approach of "stab everything and hope it all works out in the end."

A chain of events leads to a discovery: the ruby was purchased by the ruby-obsessed King Ojete. To get the gem back, Groo would have to infiltrate Ojete's castle.

With the assistance of a pair of helpful (if mocking) citizens, Groo has a plan. A servant of the King buys new women for the harem on a regular basis. If Groo dressed as a woman, then perhaps...

Work it, girl. Work it.

The king's servant appears and, as per usual for Groo, madness ensues.

Yeah, I like women with a little fire in 'em too.

Though preferably without a giant gourd-shaped nose and bad makeup. To each their own.

As in so many men's fantasies, Groo enters the harem, and indeed, finds paradise.

Before he can enjoy the cheese dip, he is called to meet the king, who is immediately inflamed with white-hot pagan lust. Groo employs his feminine charms to stall the king and get a look at the ruby collection. Smitten with his new concubine, the king boasts of his latest prize: the Eye of Kabula.

Groo being Groo, he seizes the gem, decks the king, and runs for it.

He escapes the castle, changes back into his usual garb, and returns the gem to the village, pursued by King Ojete's army. The village sends out its own forces to protect their hero. Groo forks over the gem and relates his tales of high adventure.

The comic ends with Groo fleeing the town, pursued by two armies. As is often the case for him.

This issue has a lot going for it: a quest, a fabled gem, cross-dressing, a harem, battling armies, cheese dip... ah, Groo.

I love this stuff.


Click here to read more!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Process of Inbred Fertilization

One of my character flaws, of which I have many, is a weakness for running jokes. It marks me as a bad person, yes, but it also means I love Groo the Wanderer all the more.

For it produced one of my favorite running gags in comicdom. The series contained an early example of a comics meme, and ran it not only into the ground, but through the bedrock below the ground, into the molten core of the planet, and clear out the other side.

It began innocently, a throwaway joke in Groo the Wanderer #4. Groo comes upon a village whose women have been kidnapped by mysterious, handsome men in a flying boat. Here's the panel.

"Who will till our fields? Who will milk our cows? Who will mulch?"

Lo, in such a moment was greatness born.

The word "mulch" appears four or five more times in the issue. Confusion over the term prompted a few readers to ask what the word meant. Mark Evanier explained mulching in the letters page. Here it is, from Groo the Wanderer #9 (click on the picture to enlarge):

Three times, yes, three times he defines mulching as "...a process of inbred fertilization which employs certain decomposed organic materials--including but not limited to animal sediment--to blanket an area in which vegetation is desired. The procedure enriches the soil for the stimulated plant's development while, at the same time, preventing erosion and decreasing the evaporation of moisure from the ground."

And thus was a running gag born.

Starting with issue #9, the letters pages of dozens of issues of Groo the Wanderer contained letters asking what "mulch" meant, and Evanier would repeat the definition. Over and over and over and over...

Not long into the gag's life, Evanier wormed the word into the stories themselves. A common battle cry for Groo during this era was "I kill! I maim! I fray! I mulch!" The word would appear in random spots of stories for no good reason, time and again. (Not in the picture to the left, though. I just enjoy the doggerel.)

How can a comic fan not love this? The readers and the creators were in it together, bound by a process of inbred fertilization which employs certain decomposed organic materials. And it was good.

The "mulch" gag ran for years, reaching its peak when a major supporting character's dog was revealed to have the name "Mulch." (A name, by the way, the dog hated.)

Eventually the gag evolved. In this latter stage, Evanier printed letters where readers asked what "mulch" meant and in response, he refused to say. While this could be construed as dismissive, he printed these letters, month after month, along with an identical refusal, often several times on a letter page. Yes, a new running gag was born from the decaying corpse of the old gag.

Which is, to these nerdly eyes, rockin'.

Heh. "Mulch." What a great word.

Not long ago the lovely and delightful Mrs. Jerkwater and I bought a house in the burbs. The grounds of Jerkwater Estates have flowerbeds and quite a bit of shrubbery. This necessitates that I, you guessed it, mulch.

She has no idea why I chuckle every time I do it.


Click here to read more!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Wanderer, A Kat, and a Mice with a Brick

Why Groo?

It's a simple comic with a handful of running gags. And doggerel. Oh, the doggerel.

Perhaps it's because I feel a spiritual and intellectual kinship with the barbarian. Below is a scene from Groo the Wanderer #2, as he puzzles over a problem.

In the end, he did come up with a solution. It was the wrong solution, but no matter. I feel his befuddlement.

Groo the Wanderer was light, fluffy fun every month. Incapable of taking itself seriously, jam-packed with interesting visual tidbits from the pen of Sergio Aragones and the typewriter of Mark Evanier, the comic was a good time every time. And that isn't common.

The simplicity of the setup was part of its charm. Groo joins an army? He'll cause its defeat. Groo gets on a ship? It will sink somehow. Groo goes on a quest? He'll succeed only if success brings disaster. You know it's coming. The only question is how the comic will get you there.

I call it "The Krazy Kat Effect." George Herriman's brilliant comic strip centered on a very simple idea, executed time and time and time again. Krazy Kat was a love triangle between a cat, a mouse, a dog, and a brick.

The mouse hates the cat. The dog loves the cat and hates the mouse. The cat loves the mouse and doesn't hate anybody. The mouse wants to throw a brick at the cat's head. The dog doesn't want the mouse to throw the brick at the cat's head. The cat wants to be hit in the head with a brick, taking it to be a sign of love.

That equation of mouse, cat, dog, and brick formed the heart of the strip for decades. Herriman went wild with the possibilities created by the fixed form. He created a particular space, and then had complete freedom within that space to go as wild as he wanted. Which was pretty damn wild.

Groo the Wanderer's immutable story elements, its predictability, set it free and made it wild. Like Krazy.

Groo wasn't as mind-blowing as Krazy Kat. (Not much is. Dang, was that strip strange.) But dammit, Groo was a good solid humor comic that knew what it was about and had a lot of fun.

Plus it had loads of bad verse. Not enough comics have bad verse.


Click here to read more!

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Greatest Comic Ever Printed

A bold title, I know. But one that cannot be argued.

Okay, it could be argued. Never mind that.

After wallowing in the surliness of (a mercifully abbreviated) Grump Week, I felt a need to wallow now in the balmy waters of awesomeness.

As this is mostly a blog about comic books, that meant only one thing.

An ode to the Greatest Comic Series of All Time: Groo the Wanderer.

The mightiest swordsman of a mighty age. The bringer of hope to the hopeless, help to the helpless, and feck to the feckless. A lover of cheese dip and frays. The dumbest man to ever draw breath.

Soon I will delve into my long boxes and bring forth highlights of Groo the Wanderer. There are many. The doggerel. The puns. The mulch.

Oh, the mulch!

Grump Week is dead. Viva Groo Week!


Click here to read more!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Where Would You Hide, the Laws All Being Flat?

Ah, to hell with it. One big fat political salvo. Then “Grump Week” ends, because being grumpy is boring.

I apologize for getting topical. Back to frivolities after this.


You know what really grinds my gears?

Silence. Silence of a peculiar sort.

Listen close.

The Bush Administration arrests people without charge as “enemy combatants” and holds them for years without benefit of legal counsel. It spies on American citizens without warrants, insist that it should be able to torture if it wants to, and has set up secret prisons in Eastern Europe, likely for that very purpose.

When called to account for any of these issues, the Administration has said:

“Hey, we’re fighting a war here. The President can do whatever he deems necessary to Protect the American People (tm, pat. pending). An undeclared war. Against an undefined enemy. Against a method, really. A war that can never be declared ‘won,’ because, guess what, terrorism never dies.”


“Trust us,” the White House says. “We’re only doing this because we’re facing a grave threat. We’ll get back to normal when the war is over.”

When will that be?

“When we say it’s over.”


Under this line of thought, under what constraints does the President operate?

Think hard.

The answer is “none.” According to this type of thinking, the President's status as Commander in Chief means that any actions taken to defend America are his right. He will Do What He Must to Protect the American People, and pansy laws and structures of the republic be damned!

That the President and his cronies have declared themselves above the rule of law is hardly surprising.

...that so many people are silent in the face of this gall, that is a surprise.

The laws and checks placed on the President are there not for the safety of murderers and thieves. They are not the product of weak men seeking to “coddle criminals” or fools who "don't understand how the world works." They are the fruits of centuries of hard lessons about law, justice, and government.

The play A Man for All Seasons portrayed the conflict between King Henry VIII and his chancellor, Sir Thomas More, a man of unbending principle. Early in the play, More’s future son-in-law railed against More’s unwillingness to imprison a man who was foul but had broken no laws. More insisted on the primacy of law, even in the face of evil.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

To stand by and do nothing while the President declares himself above any law is to remove our protection against tyranny. Where would we stand when the winds blew then?

Let's be honest. Many people, deep down, crave an enlightened despot, a powerful and wise figure who would remove the burdens of leadership from us and take us into a better future. Democracy is hard, frustrating work riddled with mistakes and the awful weight of responsibility.

But what if the despot makes a mistake? What if the despot grows impatient and decides that “to make an omelette means breaking a few eggs?”

Then, my fellow Americans, we are all screwed.

I live in Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from the District. Since I moved here, I’ve been around for some crazy shit. You may have heard about some of it.

A father-and-son sniper team terrorized my town. They shot one of their victims in the parking lot of a hardware store where I shop regularly.

Mail delivery to my house was a little slow for a while, since weaponized anthrax was making its way around the DC postal system.

And a giant fucking airplane seized by murderous zealots smashed into an office building near my house, killing one hundred and eighty-nine people, including one of my coworkers.

Do you know what burnt jet fuel and powdered cement smells like? I do.

Every day, I ride the DC Metro train system to work. It’s one hell of a bomb magnet. I work a block from the White House, the biggest target on the face of the Earth.

If anyone would benefit from the Bush Administration’s authoritarian tactics, it would be me. My personal safety benefits from them, plus, hey, since my job is intimately tied into the national security apparatus, it means job security too.

And right here and now, I say that Bush should be impeached for breaking the law.

I will not surrender the rule of law out of fear. I will not surrender my children’s futures because I am terrified of some fuckwit with a barrel of homemade explosive and a rental truck.

Fuck al-Qaeda. Fuck Osama bin Laden. Fuck the snipers. Fuck the anthrax-mailing asshole, whoever he is.

But they’re not everyone on my fuck-off list.

Fuck the fearmongering paranoid clowns who used the attacks on September 11th as a pretext to snatch more power for themselves and do what they always wanted to do. Fuck the pandering sycophantic tools who shirked their duties and let the paranoid clowns do what they want.

And most of all, fuck the knee-jerk badge-kisser “patriots” who will let a man in power do anything, as long as it’s forceful. These folks love the use of force. Nothing gives them a bigger charge than seeing an authority figure slap someone down.

These pseudo-patriots are the enemies of freedom, and they don’t even know it. Claiming they love their country, they’ll obliterate every ounce of freedom and say it’s for the public good. They’ll smile, wave a flag, and crush the ideals of the republic in the name of saving it.

They don’t understand that professing high ideals doesn’t mean anything if you’re not willing to follow through on them. That actions count, not beliefs. That an authority figure can stand before a crowd, smile, and with the best of intentions, do a horrible thing. They refuse to see.

“Sure, the President flouted the law, but he did it for a good reason. He’s a good man, and I believe in him.”

Silly me, judging a man by what he does, not his demeanor. He has declared himself above the law. He has broken the law. And he must face the consequences of it.

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, if you think I’m some sort of treasonous toad who “wants the terrorists to win” or “doesn’t understand what kind of war this is,” ask yourself this: what action could Bush take that would make you think he’s finally overstepped his bounds in the “Global War on Terror” and should be brought to heel?

If you can’t answer that without resorting to cartoon fantasies of jackboots and assassinations, you need to crack open a civics or history textbook and maybe even read the occasional newspaper. Real corruption eases its way in, bit by bit. Eased by regular citizens who don’t pay attention or think that history doesn’t apply to them.

“This time it’s different, because we would never do that. We’re different…we’re Americans!

No. We’re people, the same as everybody else. What makes our system worth anything is that it was built around that very simple idea, an idea formed by centuries of hard-won wisdom and suffering: People are people, unfettered power will lead to corruption, and that the only way to ensure freedom is to split power among many competing hands.

Bush is consolidating power, claiming prerogatives that do not belong to him, in violation of the controls long established. Do his defenders believe these old understandings are now wrong? Has humanity changed so dramatically in the last two centuries, that the wisdom of the past no longer holds true?

Or is it that perhaps the difficulty of relating the past to the present that blinds us to the idea? The lessons of history are tough to apply; what seems clear in retrospect is often hard to see in the chaos of everyday life.

Here’s the simple truth: the great danger to our freedom is not terrorism. It’s not Islamist dipshits with truck bombs or airliners.

The great danger is our willingness to abandon everything for which our forefathers fought and died in return for a little quiet. The great danger is our hope that if we sit down, shut up, and don’t make waves, Big Daddy will protect us and stop the bad men.

The great danger is our own fear.

And what horrible mistakes our fear might lead us to make.

Abraham Lincoln, a President who faced a greater threat to the republic than any man before or since, put it best:

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

And that, my brothers and sisters, is the simple truth.

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