Ernest Cassara

Fascism, You Say?

On a visit to a dear friend, and academic colleague, Ray La Vallee, in Vermont, years ago, I made the mistake of referring to someone as a "fascist."  Ray's wife Lois, also, an academic, snapped at me: "Ernest, you should know better.  'Fascism' is a particular organization of government."  Now, the American Heritage Dictionary, at my elbow, defines fascism in this manner:

"A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

In their umpteenth reason for fighting the war in Iraq, and the mislabeled  "war on terror," President Bush and his cohorts have reached back to the runup to WWII, accusing those who want to get out of Iraq, of being guilty of actions like those who attempted to appease Adolph Hitler.

They have now adopted the term "Islamic Fascism."  The definition may very well fit some of the Middle Eastern regimes, including Mr. Bush's dear friend, Saudi Arabia, but, on the other hand, some of the characteristics fit an American leader who sets the NSA on wiretapping phone calls, without court approval, among other egregious offenses to democracy.

America's Gift to Lebanon

In the wreckage that is today's Lebanon, hundreds, if not thousands, of unexploded cluster bombs, dropped by Israel planes, are being found in the debris, some exploding in the hands of children who pick them up.  They are labeled.  Yes: "Made in the U.S.A."

Louisiana and Mississippi Should Move to Iraq

As the American journalist, Jennifer Moses, wrote the other day: "It is a source of unending perplexity in Louisiana that so far America has spent some $320 on the war in Iraq for nation-building, whereas in New Orleans, homeowners have so far seen precisely zero."

Oh, President Bush has flown over the devastation a number of times, and has given a couple of speeches in which he claims he has not forgotten the victims of Katrina.  Very comforting, I'm sure, but folks down there may be curious to know when more than hot air is to be sent in their direction.

And, not completely irrelevant to this topic, are the reports that Hezbollah is handing out cash in Lebanon, to aid those who homes were devastated in the Israeli bombing.

Sovereign No More!

I'm always interested in the names that companies adopt.  For instance, who would guess that Verizon is a phone company?  Banks, on the other hand, usually adopt names that make sense.  No mistaking our neighbors in Harvard Square, the Cambridge Savings Bank.  On the other hand, sometimes a puzzle is involved.  I suppose that those who know the background are not puzzled by the name I came across in Ohio: The Fifth Third Bank!

Some names are pretentious, of course.  "Sovereign" is one of these.  Its sovereignty has now been challenged, however.  For, some important files have been stolen - those stored on laptop computers.  As I remarked, when his happened to the Veterans Administration, it is dumb to store precious files on anything light and removable.  Use, instead,  a heavy desk top computer, preferably chained down.

Check the Label

You may remember that, some months back, I had the occasion to read the labels on the various pieces of clothing I was wearing and discovered that I was a walking international community.  Ever since then, I always check after making a new purchase.  For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I bought an HP laptop, on which I am typing this (to be transferred later to my trusty desk top), and discovered it was manufactured in China.

Since we will be traveling in the dear, old, Mother Country later in the year, I responded to a picture in a drugstore insert in the Sunday paper.  It would make sense to purchase a traveling kit, which includes a trimmer for my beard, one powered by batteries, so I don't have to  worry about arranging for a transformer in London.  Well, when I got it home, I looked at the instructions packed with it.  Sure enough, made in China!

Since I do not shop at  Wal-Mart, I do not know this from personal experience, but understand from the media that that chain and China have a very close  relationship.  Nothing like trade to have an impact, communist China accommodating a corporation in the leading capitalist country in the world.  But, the dimwits in Washington do not see this, otherwise they would stop boycotting Cuba.

Click "Okay"

You must have noticed that when your Microsoft Windows, or Internet Service Provider, cannot come up with what you want, it will tell you, and expect you to click on "Okay."  Suggest that were Microsoft and ISPs to give you the option, "Damn," or "Damn You," they would sign up thousands of new customers.

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Harvard Square Commentary, September 4, 2006