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Ich Vergessen

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Terry Ballard
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There is a story that may be an urban legend that German immigrants arriving at Ellis Island were asked their names, and might respond "Ich vergessen," meaning "I forgot, if they couldn't understand English. The officials would then mark down that the name was "Ferguson."

Republican politicians certainly know how to speak English - they even pass laws proclaiming that English is the official language of the United States. However, there is a rash of "Ich vergessen" going down inside the Beltway. I haven't seen such quality amnesia in Washington since the 1970's, when a group of unprincipled Republicans decided that any behavior was okay as long as it helped them keep their lock on power. Sound familiar?

Secretary of State Rice is blasting those who say she should have maybe seen something coming in the summer of 2001. She claims that this is preposterous - if anyone had told her something like that, she would have remembered it. This all sounds very plausible, if you are one of the Faithful. Unfortunately, I remember the summer of 2001, when Rudolph Guliani was questioned about reports that a major terror attack on America was in the works. "Just go on about your lives. We're taking good care of things. Don't worry," said America's Mayor. Likewise, my wife heard the same kind of story on the radio news.

That means it's time to put on my librarian's hat and dig into this matter. If Condi really didn't hear any of these rumors in the Halls of Power, then it's a shame she didn't watch the NBC Evning News on the night of Monday, June 25, 2001. Here are the headlines:

Road hazard. New York State makes history, banning the use of hand-held cell
phones behind the wheel.

Also, "Fast and Furious," it's not just a movie. The growing and fatal
attraction of drag racing.

Target America. An inside look at troubling evidence that Osama bin Laden
may be on the verge of unleashing a terror attack.

Could it be that they got this information from astrologers? No, more likely they got it from the intelligence experts in Washington who knew perfectly well that something was up. I guess they just didn't tell Condi. Or maybe they did, and she forgot.

Dennis Hastert has been doing some super-sized forgetting lately. A few weeks ago he was at the podium singing the National Anthem, and the sound carried nicely when he started putting in words counter to Francis Scott Key. Now when confronted with evidence that he knew about the Foley problems and decided to protect his party rather than the children, he says that he may have heard about this before last Friday, but he forgot. He is a busy man. There is so much information to process about Republican misconduct that this one just slipped off the radar. Just to show what a tough guy he is, he is ready to fire a staff member if they can find the right fall guy.

Maybe it's time to go out next month and vote for people who will remember what they are sent to Washington to do.
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Terry Ballard was a native of Phoenix, Arizona until he made a wrong turn in 1990 - he has been living on Long Island ever since. His chief regret in life is that he does not have the option to live on some other planet.
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