Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It is now acceptable to use sexist language on the grounds that "it is too difficult to avoid it" and to do otherwise is "politically correct."

It is actually very easy to avoid sexist language; our culture continues to use it out of desire, not convenience. Starting at the top, most churches still call God "He," though they could just as well say "She," or--more appropriately--alternate between the two.

Americans use bad grammar rather than deal fairly with gender. Consider this sentence: Everyone at the protest said ___ was taking time off work to march.

The average American says Everyone at the protest said they were taking time off work to march. That is grammatically incorrect because "one" is singular and "they" is plural. This is a common (and highly irritating) grammatical error made by many people, regardless of reason, but now that people are all confused about gender, it is even more common.

Classical (sexist) language usage would be: Everyone at the protest said he was taking time off work to march. And if the march consists of all men, that is also functionally correct. If the march consists of all women, the sentence should be Everyone at the protest said she was taking time off work to march.

But if the march consists of both men and women, or we don't know the gender of the marchers, the habit among people with good grammar is still to say "he" and the habit among those with poor grammar is still to say "they." However, people (with good grammar) who are sensitive to the existence of two genders will alternate the use of personal pronouns. For example: Everyone at the protest said he was taking time off work to march. Some of the marchers risked losing their jobs, most of them came from a great distance, and everyone agreed that she was making a worthy sacrifice.

Another useful rule is to use yourself as a reference point. If you are female and writing and talking about a group whose gender is mixed or unknown, you may say "she" since you are a woman and it is natural to make the association--men have been doing it for centuries.

Just last night, Jay Leno had Misty May and Kerri Walsh on The Tonight Show (May and Walsh, who travel with a group of scantily clad "cheerleaders" who draw viewers for the two volleyball players, are about as politically unevolved as you can get, but that is another story), and proceeded to refer to them as "guys" throughout the interview. "But that's a traditional part of our language!" you say. Exactly. It is traditionally sexist. What would it have sounded like if Leno had had Justin Gatlin and Shawn Crawford on and called them "gals"?

A few days ago, Anson Dorrance--former U.S. National Soccer Team coach and head women's soccer coach at the University of North Carolina--was on the Today Show talking about the U.S. women's olympic soccer team. It is fair to say that Dorrance has done more for young women than most women have, and it was with great pride that he called Mia Hamm "the face of women's athletics."

Asked about the personalities of both Hamm and Brandi Chastain, Dorrance said of Chastain, "She's a great showman." So ingrained is sexism in the English language that even Dorrance--who knows first-hand what women go through in trying to achieve their goals--called one of his prize players a man. Chastain isn't a man; she is a great showwoman. And the women athletes who play fairly and graciously are not "sportsmen."

So-called "political correctness" is now derided, partly because it has been misused by idiots (consider the "niggardly" case), but mostly because people do not want to change. Look at it this way: It is not politically correct to call a woman a woman; it is just plain correct.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

What becomes a legend most? is the advertising slogan for Blackglama, the mink coat company that uses famous women as models. The latest Blackgama model is Cindy Crawford, who is known for being part of PETA's I'd rather go naked than wear fur campain.

Like Naomi Campbell before her, Crawford has accepted a long fur coat and a check in exchange for doing a world of good in the fight against animal cruelty. Most people do not want to be bothered with the horrendous facts about how fur coats (or hamburgers or cosmetics) are made. This willful ignorance is enough of a crime, but now someone who actually served as a spokeswoman for animal rights has decided to promote fur.

What is worse is that Crawford's spokespeople are saying that Crawford never supported the anti-fur campaign. What a pit of slime Crawford is in, to have to deny that she ever stood for a movement against torture and cruelty. Here's hoping she runs into Sophie Ellis Bextor really soon.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Did you have a good time at the parades yesterday? Hear inspiring speeches? Grow tired of the television coverage?

What? Your community didn't celebrate Women's Equality Day?

Neither did mine. August 26 is the most important date in women's history in this country, for it was on that date that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives women the right to vote, became law. Prior to ratification, women were harrassed, arrested, and tortured when they tried to obtain one of the most basic civil rights in the nation. The worst treatment occurred under the administration of Woodrow Wilson, who--after the courts put a stop to the arrests--suddenly declared himself a supporter of women's rights.

In the1970's, when the Second Wave of feminism was at its peak, it was common to celebrate August 26, but now, it is almost completely overlooked, which says a lot about our attitude toward both history and women's rights.

Virginia Slims cigarettes used to have a Second Wave slogan, "You've come a long way, Baby." Now, that distance doesn't really seem so far. Look at the makeup of the U.S. Congress in comparison with the general population. Or look at the management of Fortune 500 companies. There is still a significant pay gap between men and women in America, sexual harrassment persists in the workplace and at schools, and not many months ago, the people of California rewarded an unindicted sex criminal with the governorship of their state.

This is a country that does not like to remember our history. Last night, there was a feature on NBC about women in the Olympics, with emphasis on the participation of women from Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is indeed a wonderful story, but it was marred at the end by a little cheerleading editorial about how much we have to be thankful for because American women athletes have been able to participate in the Olympics for many generations.

That may be literally true, but the writer left out most of the salient facts: That female athletes in America had to endure being made fun of, called "unfeminine" and "unnatural," that they were all assumed to be homosexual (which is, of course, an insult in our culture), that they were not allowed to participate in many athletic events because participation would "harm their delicate bodies," and don't forget this one--that they shouldn't be compensated fairly for their efforts.

It is only because of Title IX and the courage of women like Billie Jean King that American women can compete in athletics they way they now do. It took government intervention and radical behavior for us to have this "tradition"--it was by no means the will of the American people.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Poor Claudine Schaul. She actually had the nerve to request that the sports media pronounce her name correctly.

She paid for it, too, when both Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver became utterly obnoxious about it while calling the second round of the U.S. Open Series Pilot Pen Tournament.

Announcing that Schaul had asked the media to stop mispronouncing her name, Drysdale said something to the effect of "Bear with us, we're used to pronouncing it a different way." It's one syllable, for god's sake! How much time does he need to learn how to say it correctly? And sure enough, he spent most of the match mispronouncing Schaul's name.

Shriver was even worse. At one point, she said "Schaul (wrong pronunciation), or Schaul (correct pronunciation)--whichever way you want us to pronounce it..."

Hello, Pam! She already told you how to pronounce it.

Neither Drysdale nor Shriver is stupid, so the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they somehow felt put upon by being asked to do something as simple as showing Claudia Schaul basic respect by saying her name right.

With the exception of NPR, no one in the American media pronounces Maria Sharapova's name correctly, either. Sharapova said she gave up thinking she could get Americans to pronounce it properly, and has adopted the American pronunciation. And though she has been a tennis icon for over two decades, Martina Navratilova has rarely had her name pronounced correctly by the American media.

It is easy to conclude that Americans simply don't think it is important to pronounce foreign names accurately. And though this is probably an accurate conclusion (it was such a chore for the announcers on the opening night of the Olympics), the problem goes beyond the speaking of foreign names.

Take Dick Cheney, for example. His name is pronounced "Cheeny," but years ago, he, too, gave up trying to get the American media to pronounce it correctly.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Hail Nicolas Massu!

The hot Chile pepper, as one headline writer called him, won the Olympic gold medal in men's tennis singles after going through a physical ordeal that was amazing to watch. Massu first defeated Gustavo Kuerten, Vince Spadea, Igor Andreev, Carlos Moya, and Taylor Dent. In the meantime, he and his doubles partner, Fernando Gonzales, advanced to the doubles final, which they won. Gonazales had to have been exhausted, since he had just won the bronze medal singles match, which also lasted over 3 hours.

The doubles match, a 4-set thriler, ended at 2:40 a.m, 3 hours and 43 mintes after it began. On Sunday, Massu played a 5-set, 4-hour match against Mardy Fish and collected his second gold medal. This feat, similar to what Cara Black did at Wimbledon, is Olympic indeed.

Tennis was one of the original games in the modern Olympics, but was eliminated for decades because of a scheduling conflict with Wimbledon. Re-introduced in 1988, it has yet to gain the respect that it deserves. The Athens Olympic games were filled with exciting tennis upsets, including a women's doubles gold medal win by a team from China. (In the past, players could play with their regular doubles partners, no matter what country each was from, but now there is a rule requiring same-country pairings, thus making doubles more difficult for some long-time teams). Justine Henin-Hardenne made her comeback from illness by winning a gold medal, and the great Martina Navratilova, though she was eliminated from doubles competition, thrilled the crowd with her presence, a first for the Olympics.

It would be nice if the news media promoted Olympic tennis and showed more of it on television, but for now--16 years after its re-introduction--it is the Olympic stepchild.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Deal Hudson, Bush's liason to the Catholic Church, has resigned from the Republican National Committee. The former Baptist minister, who has been married three times, and who is the editor of Crisis, a consevative Catholic magazine, is now experiencing what crisis is all about.

Hudson, a crony of Carl Rove's, is upset because some reporters are looking at his past. What they've found is ugly. I'll start with the more benign piece of dirt: Hudson played a key role in ousting Ono Ekeh, an employee at the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for African-American Catholics. Ekeh's sin? He posted on the Catholics for Kerry Web forum, and was therefore not a suitable person to work for the bishops. Hudson says he is not sorry that he got Ekeh fired from his job.

As chairman of the NRC's Catholic Outreach movement, Hudson had regular contact with the White House. He made a public statement that John Kerry should be "denounced from the pulpit" whenever he campaigned as a Catholic.

You can already see, from these examples, that Hudson runs fast and loose with the morality issue. But the best is yet to come. In 1994, Hudson, a married man and a member of the philosophy faculty of Fordham University, met an 18-year-old freshman who had been in and out of foster homes most of her life, and who suffered from suicidal depression.

Hudson took the girl to a bar. There was a lot of drinking, and she observed him French-kissing a couple of NYU girls, then enhancing his margarita experience by licking salt off their necks and eatiing lime slices from their breasts. The 18-year-old was drunk by the time she and Hudson left the bar, and he touched her breasts in the taxi, then took her to his office, had oral sex with her, and told her not to tell anyone.

But she did tell someone. She reported the incident to Fordham authorities, and when they announced there would be an investigation, Hudson resigned. He wasn't able to bury the story, however, and now, thanks to an investigation by the National Catholic Reporter, he has resigned from his fancy White House post. He is, of course, blaming "politics" and the "liberal press" for his misfortune.

There is obviously no vetting process at this White House. Periodically, someone connected with it or working in it has to leave because a big blot is discovered on that person's record. It is starting to look like the Reagan White House, where there were hot and cold running indictments and resignations 24 hours a day.

Of course, the record of both Bush and Cheney are smeared with big blots, and neither the public nor the media seems to care. Drunk driving (Bush and Cheney), insider trading (Bush), and being head of a company whose financial dealings were highly suspect during the time of that leadership (Cheney) have never been issues, either before or since the 2000 selection.

Nevertheless, it boggles the mind, this Republican "morality" movement and its leaders. In addition to Bush and Cheney, there is the former Morality Czar, a compulsive gambler; the governor of California, an unconvicted sex criminal; and the chief mouthpiece, a drug addict.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The people of Louisiana, despite their tendency to elect multiple corrupt politicians to state office and to tolerate drunk driving and the emission of large amounts of toxic waste, are generally polite and sensible when it comes to their treatment of each other.

Not so in Mandeville last Friday, when a woman, on her daily Lake Pontchartrain commute to New Orleans, took some photos of the lake. She held a tiny camera on her shoulder with one hand and kept her eyes on the Causeway, not caring that the photos would be of blurs and streaks. Photography is one of her major interests, and she wanted to try out her new digital camera.

Suddenly, a Causeway police car, lights flashing, was behind her. The officer told her that another commuter had found her "suspicious," and that as a member of law enforcement, she had to pull the woman over. "After all, we are at war," the officer said.

We should be at war--with a government that chips away at our freedom day by day, and that encourages citizens to make McCarthyesque phone calls to police officers who should be looking out for the actual safety of commuters. The driver of the car had no business driving with one hand on the wheel and another on her shoulder--that is a safety hazard. But it was "taking pictures of the bridge" that got her reported.

As she pointed out, it is easy to find pictures of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in books and on the Web; it would hardly be necessary for a commuting terrorist to shoot several dozen extremely blurry images.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I hope that someone is enjoying Teresa Heinz Kerry's pumpkin spice cookies. They are making me sick. That Family Circle would continue, in the 21st Century, to have this offensive candidates' wives' cookie bake-off is outrageous. That their readers respond positively is just one more sign that American feminism is near death.

The candidates' wives should be ashamed of themselves for being part of this degrading nonsense. Why isn't Family Circle asking for cookie recipes from George W. Bush and John Kerry?

It is particularly demeaning for Heinz Kerry to be part of the bake-off, since she has established herself as a spokeswoman for feminism. Some spokeswoman. Oh, I can hear them now: "Teresa has to do this: She's an opinionated, foreign-speaking, loose cannon feminist liability. She has to bake cookies or they'll destroy her the way they did Hillary over the cookie issue."

If a woman is ever nominated for president, we all need to make sure that Family Circle continues its spouse cookie bake-off. But at the rate things are going, I don't think that's going to be an issue.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Thinking is not an activity that is popular in America. Personal research--hunting for facts and perspective--is practically unheard of. Americans often say they are too busy to devote time to reading newspapers and learning about what is going on in the world. This weariness is understandable in that many families have two working-outside-the-home parents, and there is a kind of national obsession among middle class parents to constantly haul their children to and from soccer, dance team, football, drama, and church activities.

Americans are indeed tired. Many of them are working more than one job. But life in America isn't harder than it is in, say, Italy, or Germany (if you don't count the fact that those people actually have health care). People in some other parts of the world appear to be more invested in thinking and understanding.

Many Americans like to read genre literature, watch so-called reality TV shows, and shop at the mall. There is nothing wrong with doing those things, if--like candy bars--they are not your main diet. But for thousands of Americans, mindless activities are their main diet. One of these mindless activities is also dangerous: the practice of "Christianity," the popular religion that has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. In this religion, which has many variations, everything in the world is divided into good and evil, black and white (often literally), saved and unsaved, traditional (read "good") and modern (read "sin").

Beneath this manufactured religion lies a deep hatred of women, gay people, and those who are not white. Because there is so much internalized misogyny, homophobism, and racism among oppressed people, it is easy to actually recruit the "enemy" into the religion. These "Christian" churches are not interested in calling for justice and equality for all, nor are they interested in facts or scientific evidence about our world. They do not care that thousands of people are dying in Africa. They do not care that women and girls in Saudi Arabia live the lives of prisoners. They do not care that that millions of animals are tortured every day in America. They are the anti-thinkers.

Unfortunately, thousands more Americans who do not hold these extreme views have something in common with those who do: a refusal to search for facts and to make decisions based upon analysis. What Americans don't know could fill a library the size of a large planet. A small group of people decides what Americans should hear about, and since most Americans are content to hear no more, the ugliness goes on.

Sometimes someone else says it better than I can, and that someone else is often Margaret Cho.

Monday, August 16, 2004

As usual, Olympic commentators--like most sports commentators--are fouling the airwaves with bad grammar and ridiculous metaphors. To be fair, they have a lot of company in the bad grammar department; everyone from network news anchors to NPR reporters are out to destroy the English language.

Last night, I had to stop counting the number of times the women's gymnastics commentators said "exact same"--the job required a calculator. When one of the competitors flubbed her routine, a commentator said she "dropped the ball." Using a football metaphor to describe gymnastics is the height of language laziness. Last week, I heard a coommentator use a footaball metaphor to describe a tennis strategy. Isn't it enough that we are bombarded by football metaphors on a daily basis on the so-called news shows? Can't we find another way to talk about gymnastics and tennis?

The opening ceremonies brought the return of American language nationalism. The commentators were struggling over those nations whose names were "hard" to pronounce. Most of the names were pretty easy to pronounce for people with a decent education, but again--we are talking about television commentators. And even if they were hard to pronounce, wouldn't it be reasonably respectful to learn the proper pronunciations before going on the air?

On Saturday night, the American women's gymnastics team took a break and watched the movie, Miracle. Apparently, this experience motivated them to do a little bonding routine between events. It was hard to understand what the team members were saying, except for a big "USA!" at the end. They did this several times, with arms locked and heads together. There was something so utterly American about this routine. The Romanian women and the Chinese women didn't speak between events, except to give one another an encouraging smile. They were focused on doing what they were there to do, and they did it with skill and intensity. It is difficult to envision a group of women huddled together, yelling "Romania!"

American chauvinism is an ongoing problem, especially these days, with a cheerleader in the White House encouraging extreme nationalism. The Olympics are always political, no matter how much we want to think they are not. And while it is natural for Olympic athletes and American commentators to feel national pride, it is also important that the national pride of other countries be acknowledged and respected. This means pronouncing names correctly, and it means not making fun of small, unfamiliar countries, as the opening night commentators did. It also means acknowledging the existence of events at which Ameicans do not excel.

Friday, August 13, 2004

I cannot join the chorus of voices calling Governor James McGreevey "courageous." Here's why: If he really did resign because he is gay and had an affair outside of his marriage, then leaving office isn't that brave. "I betrayed my wife (if indeed he did) and yes, I am gay; I have asked my family for forgiveness, and now I need to get on with running New Jersey" would have been the appropriate response. Resigning means that it is assumed that the people of New Jersey can't handle a public official's having an extramarital affair, and/or can't handle homosexuality. Resigning is an acknowledgment that those things really are a big deal and affect how someone governs, which is nonsense.

On the other hand, if McGreevey resigned because of other, alleged improprieties, then he has totally betrayed the GLBT movement and the broad civil rights movement in general by blaming his sexual preference for his resignation. If this scenario is the correct one, he is exploiting America's bigotry toward gays in order to get out of office before the indictments come in. Because yes, despite what many people think, it is better to be gay than to be a criminal.

I don't doubt that McGreevey's coming out was heart-felt, but that doesn't make it courageous.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"This court has never, in its 24 years, reviewed a record of agency action that contained such a compelling portrait of political meddling."

These are the words written by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in his August 10 decision that the Bush administration cannot change the standards commercial fisheries must meet before the tuna they catch can carry the "dolphin-safe" label.

Judge Henderson went on to say that Commerce Secretary Donald Evans not only failed to conduct the scientific research required to relax existing labeling laws, but engaged in "a pattern of delay and inattention" to build support for his position.

The plan was to allow banned Mexican tuna back into the country under a phony label, and in order to carry it out, the Bush administration--once again--had to ignore its own scientists' findings. How anyone can work as a scientist in this administration is beyond me. Scientific evidence about everything from condom use to cancer to global warming to stem cell research to dolphin traps is routinely ignored in the service of either huge corporations or fundamentalist churches. And since those corporations control the news media, the American public is left uninformed.

Of course, the American public isn't exactly turning over rocks looking for facts, and millions of Americans are perfectly happy to ignore scientific evidence. These Americans believe that homosexuality is contagious and that evolution never occurred.

Sometimes it seems like it didn't.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A new study, published by the Archives for Internal Medicine, indicate something that many of us already knew: that inappropriate drug prescription for people over 65 is a serious problem. When you consider that most medicines are prescribed in unnecessarily high doses to everyone, it is certainly no surprise that older people are at risk.

The study found that more than one in five persons over 65 receive prescriptions for at least one drug that is not appropriate. The inability of older people to metabolize drugs as well as younger people can cause serious side effects, and the vast combinations of drugs given to some older people can also cause serious problems.

Making the problem worse is the fact that many people who are in the 70's and 80's grew up at at time when "Dr. God" was the medical model. Their parents did not question the doctor, so they don't. But it is imperative that people over 65 (and everyone else, for that matter) read about their medications, talk with their pharmacists about their medications, report all side effects, and ask questions of their doctors.

Doctors who patronize older people should be fired, and geriatric specialists should be consulted whenever possible. A trusted (not always easy to find) doctor should regularly review all of the medications prescribed to an older person. Toxic doses of pain medications and antidepressants are all too common, and side effects such as confusion and dizziness are often relegated to the "well, she's getting old" status.

Of course, this entire discussion presupposes the notion that people over 65 are able to buy their prescribed drugs. Many are not.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

In today's New York Times, there is a story by Benedict Carey on whether psychotherapy methods should be subject to scientific research. The Times treats this as news, but the debate has been going on for decades. It is fair to say that the debate has intensified during the last twenty years, however, because of the advent of managed care and the increased use of antidepressant medications.

It makes sense to require that a psychotherapist know which methods have successfully cured certain disorders in most people. It also makes sense that new treatments or combinations of treatments be tracked to determine their efficacy.

But, as Carey's article points out, is isn't that simple. For example, cognitive/behavioral therapy is all the rage for the treatment of most depressive disorders and most anxiety disorders, but it is sometimes not enough to use thought- and behavior-changing methods. Psychodynamic therapy--treatment that seeks to heal early psychological wounds--is needed before some people can get better. Such treatment may also prevent relapse.

And the old-fashioned concepts of validation and unconditional positive regard are major components in psychological healing. Sometimes people just need to be heard.

There are people quoted in the Times article who call for a middle ground: the continued use of research tempered by acceptance that psychotherapy is an art as much as it is a science. A therapist who is accepting and caring but has few skills will do some good, but will be lost when it comes to diagnosing and treating disorders. A highly skilled therapist who cannot feel empathy or cannot see the client's "big picture" may be able to remove symptoms, but she probably cannot heal.

I have been pondering this issue for many years; I am a psychotherapist.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I bet everyone has forgotten Larry Patterson, the former Arkansas state trooper who claimed to have arranged sexual liaisons for former President Clinton when Clinton was governor of Arkansas.

To refresh your memory, Patterson told his story to now-repentant liar and former right-wing Anita Hill basher David Brock. Patterson was paid $6,700 by a Republican fund-raiser, which reportedly surprised Brock, who wrote the American Spectator article in which Patterson's story appeared.

Patterson is in the news again, at least in Arkansas (the general news media isn't too fond of clearing up questionable stories in which Clinton was implicated in misconduct). He just pleaded guilty in a U.S. Federal Court to one count of making a false statement to a federal agent, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Poor Larry. After he did so much to defend our country.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Iraqui civic leaders--welcome to Amurica!

On Monday, a group of Iraqi civic leaders--invited by the State Department to tour the United States--were not permitted to enter the Memphis City Hall because the Memphis city council chairman suggested they posed a security risk.

Chairman Brown wanted to know if the FBI had been informed that the visitors had tried to enter the building. Poor thing...he must have missed Secretary Powell's memo.

The visitors were on tour in order to learn what it is like to live in a democracy. I guess they learned.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I watched much of the Democratic convention, and--while I was disappointed over the total silence about the September 11 Comission's decision to cave in, the right of gay citizens to marry, the poisoning of children (and the rest of us) by the Bush administration, and the massive amount of tax money wasted by crooked Iraq war contractors--I certainly wasn't surprised. Kerry was too busy playing soldier to address these issues, and Edwards had already painted himself into a corner where everyone smiles and is "positive."

So it would have been futile of me to complain about business as usual. What enraged me, however, was the nine female senators agreeing to be brought out and paraded like the cute little tokens they are. Wasn't there even one of them who was willing to say, "No, I will not be part of this sexist charade?" Apparently not. While they were at it, why didn't they bring out the African American senators and put them on display? Oops...they don't have any.

This is a party that doesn't dare to put a woman on its ticket, but is willing to exploit the few women in the Senate for the sake of "diversity." For the women to comply is disgusting.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I am so tired of hearing the news media go on and on about Sibel Edmonds.

Oh, wait...that's my imagination, isn't it? They dont' talk about her much at all. However, on July 29, CBS did report what should have been the biggest story of the week: The FBI has confirmed that Edmonds was fired at least "in part" for being a whistle-blower. Edmonds, you'll recall, charged that right after the attacks of September 11, the FBI unit that did translation work deliberately slowed down the job. This happened, Edmonds said, in order to create a backlog that might gain the unit more money and staff.

According to Edmonds, her life and the lives of her family were threatened by a Turkish translator with whom she worked, Jan Dickerson, and that Dickerson omitted key information from her reports. Even more interesting is the fact that Dickerson worked for an organization that was being investigated by the FBI, and the FBI didn't even know it. The level of incompetence here is so dramatic, it is hard for us to believe.

Of course, botched translations by an enemy of the United States who happened to be working for the FBI, and translations slowed down by bureaucratic interests are only part of the translation mess. Right after the attacks, the FBI was looking under rocks for people who could read and speak Arabic. For some reason, it had never before occurred to them that such employees would be useful. The U.S. Army did have some good ones, but they were fired because they were gay.

Feel safer now?