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IRS could be the news dogs of war

November 09, 2001

IRS could be the news dogs of war

Like everyone else, I was sitting around yesterday waiting for us to hang bin Laden from the highest yardarm when the bulletin flashed across the wire that the U.S. had, in dramatic fashion, "frozen terrorists' assets."

Next I heard the dispatch that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had "grounded all crop dusters."

Then I saw the story that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives had voted to pay all of America's back dues to the United Nations.

And I couldn't help but notice the report that we want to form an anti-terrorism coalition - with Iran.

Finally, the financial markets "soared" on word that "Energy prices tumble."

How in the name of broadband Internet connectivity is some poor newspaper columnist in the backwaters of Western Maryland supposed to make sense of all this?

I'll tell you: I don't know.

The world's gotten weird, and different, in the last couple of weeks. I'm going to have to take a trip to the mountains next week to be alone in the wilderness and try to make sense of it all. Or try to forget it all, maybe that's the better approach.


I mean, this freezing-of-stock-assets deal is all well and good, but - are you telling me that fanatic, long-bearded, turban-wearing, goat-herding, fundamentalist Muslim extremists invest in mutual funds? What the ...?

As Howard Cossell once so eloquently stated when Ken Norton was in the process of beating Mohammed Ali, "I don't un-der-stand."

I guess it's progress. But I always thought of war as involving bombs, tanks and missiles and guns. I never knew you could go after an Osama bin Laden by garnishing his wages.

What would we have done to Ghengis Kahn for crying out loud, deprived him of the company match in his 401(k)?

If it saves lives, I'm all for fighting wars with money rather than with soldiers. Reportedly, O.b.L. won over the Taliban a number of years ago not with his amusing, cocktail party anecdotes, but by cutting them a $3 million check.

Vermin like the Taliban can be bought. We give them $5 million and Illinois Avenue and I bet bin Laden would be on the Attica shuttle before you can say falafel.

Since money is playing such a large role on both sides, I dearly hope the terrorists are aware of the irony that they are so dependent on the rewards of the system they are trying to destroy. Also, I dearly hope they are paying their capital gains taxes. Elsewise, if the Delta Force snipers don't get 'em, the IRS audit will.

And if bin Laden ever had to wrestle with Publication 544 of the worksheet for Schedule D on the 1040, we're halfway home toward giving him his comeuppance. I don't know this for a fact, but I doubt he has been saving his receipts. Whatever, I'm betting his abode is about to get a big write-off for "depreciation."

And speaking of taking a hit, the poor crop dusters must be wondering what in the blue blazes they did to deserve this. One moment they're minding their own business, earning a buck or two in a tiny little agricultural niche and the next day all of the FBI with their badges flashing and all of the media with their cameras rolling are stampeding down on these guys, shutting down their business and asking if they are unwitting parties to a terrorist plot. (No word on whether the FBI has grounded the cloud seeders).

The FBI finally eased its order, allowing crop dusters to fly again, provided they not do so over cities.

I'll be honest, I've been in my share of cities and never once have I seen a crop duster buzzing the parking lots spraying for the destructive Macadam Weevil.

And in allowing the planes to fly over rural areas, I sort of resent the FBI's implication that country people are expendable. Perhaps we are, but lately at least our world makes a lot more sense.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or at

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