[Note for Tomdispatch Readers: For those of you who visit the site, but don’t subscribe to TD — you can, by the way, do so at any time by putting your e-address in the “sign up” box at the upper right of the main screen — just wanted to let you know that I’ve written a “Tom’s Review of Books.” It’s a little book newsletter filled with genuine recommendations for holiday gifts (unlike the ones in the dispatch that follows). Done as a special “extra” for subscribers, it’s not on the site’s main screen, but you can check it out by clicking here. It’s a little experiment. If readers enjoy it and use it, I may do a few a year.
One other matter: All you TD subscribers at Comcast who haven’t been getting your Tomdispatch emails lately, I don’t blame you for being frustrated. I am too. The server that sends out TD posts has been having trouble with Comcast and is now evidently blocked by it. I assume this will be rectified sooner or later. In the meantime, you should certainly write in and complain — and just keep checking the site for new posts every couple of days. Tom]
Thank goodness for tradition! Back in the holiday season of 2003, Tomdispatch offered you a list of “Hot as Depleted Uranium Toys for a New Imperial Age.” In 2004, we gave you the inside scoop on how to “Make It a Merry Military-Corporate Christmas.” In 2005, it was all about timeless holiday values like militarism, jingoism, and barbarism, as TomDispatch wished you an “All-American Christmas.” And last year, we sent you “On Holiday for the Holidays.” For 2007, we thought you should have your wish list ready when Military-Industrial Santa lands on your roof in his Hellfire missile-armed Predator sled. Whoa, Blaster! Whoa, Blitzkreig! Whoa, Doom and Destruction! When you hear that Ho-Ho-Ho, hide the kiddies in that basement bomb shelter, cross your fingers, and make that wish of your dreams. Then open your eyes. The Holiday Gifts from Hell are coming your way. Tom
A Tomdispatch Holiday One-Stop Shop from Hell
By Nick (“Tongue Firmly in Cheek”) Turse
It’s that time of year, again. Time to wander the web searching for Holiday gifts for all those hard-to-buy-for folks, the usual cast of characters who make the holidays especially nerve-wracking. Well, have no fear and wander no more. This year Tomdispatch takes care of all the fuss and muss. We’ve scoured the web and assembled a one-stop-shop that will make your gift-buying a breeze. So forget about that already over-the-Hillary Clinton nutcracker or the Rudy Giuliani head that you affix to a tree so it appears the Republican front-runner is a stalker lurking in your yard — both so last year — and enjoy the Fifth Anniversary TomDispatch Holiday List from Hell. Because if you don’t, the terrorists win.
Let’s face it, nobody wants a White Christmas DVD these days, so how about making it a Black(water) Xmas? Some, no doubt, think Jeremy Scahill’s bestselling book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, is a suitable gift. But we here at TomDispatch have a tad more imagination than that. So, head with us to Blackwater’s own website and purchase that wonderful “cuddly black bear sporting a Blackwater logo t-shirt.” It’s sure to be a hit with your young mercenaries-in-training or anyone else who likes to snuggle with a plush toy totally unaccountable to the laws of war.
And while you’re there, you’ll certainly want to pick up a classic Blackwater Christmas ornament. Undoubtedly manufactured from spent shell casings and metal taken from genuine Blackwater-shot-up cars, these $11.50 tree adornments are a perfect way to show your holiday spirit.
Does your tree still look a tad bare? PatriotShop.US asks, “What could be more jolly than a Patriotic Snowman proudly waving the United States flag?” Nothing in our book, so click on over and pay a mere $21.95 for one of them.
Sure, you can get a CD with the Xmas fave “Silver Bells” on it just about anywhere. And what a great gift idea — for anyone who’s been locked in a basement for the last 60 years. But if silver’s on your brain, here’s a different kind of classy treat for that special someone. You can stuff his stocking and blow his mind — thanks to coin-connoisseur Ken Potter — with the “Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraqi Mobile Scud Missile Launcher Commemorative Silver Ingot.” No description of this .999 pure 1 oz. bar of silver can do it full justice; but, in an accompanying explanation, the seller does eloquently describe the ins-and-outs of enemy missile technology: “The Iraqi Mobile Scud Missile Launcher ingot depicts a camel with a scud missile upright in his mouth and Iraqi soldier swinging a sledge hammer at the camel’s exaggerated testicles laying on a tree-stump.”
Of course, if that’s not quite your cup of tea, the company has thoughtfully cast a stirring, patriotic “challenge coin” of pure, unadulterated, 100% genuine bronze especially for that U.S. Marine on your holiday list. One side sports the Marine Corps motto, “semper fidelis,” and the iconic image of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. The flipside, no less moving, shows Santa relieving himself at a urinal beneath his own special motto: “Tinkle Bells.” The manufacturer notes that if the design “proves popular” — and how could it not? — “we’ll make more next year.”
A Gift for the Otherwise Occupied
For those who can’t come home for the holidays, because they are currently occupying somebody else’s country, there are gifts galore, but there’s one that tops any list. While it might have come in even handier a couple of years back, when body armor was often lacking for troops in Iraq, there’s still reason to pick up the “Soldier’s Companion,” a “unique, metal plated Bible” — “the perfect gift for the uniformed Patriot on your list.” Since IEDs and EFPs (or Explosively Formed Penetrators) are still a threat, why not buy a bunch of these metal Bibles (at only $30 bucks a pop). So handy not just to read, but to line any Humvee with.
It’s Xmas in Karachi, With All of the Folks at Home
We’ve all been there before. It’s the last minute and you need to buy a gift for a shaky strongman who seized power in a “devastating military coup.” What to do? Why not follow the lead of the Bush administration? This year the holidays came early for Pakistani ruler Pervez Musharraf — #15, even before his latest crushing crackdown, on Parade magazine’s list of the World’s Worst Dictators — when he scored a whole slew of goodies through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program. Pervez must have been an awfully good boy because Santa subcontracted out loads of toys way early, including F-16 fighters from Boeing, 200 AIM-9M missiles from Raytheon, 10 Harpoon missiles from Boeing’s McDonnell Douglas Corporation, and more than $54 million worth of targeting pods — long-range precision-targeting systems for aircraft-delivered munitions — from Lockheed Martin. Should you have a dictator to cozy up to, any one of these will be sure to make him sleep a little easier this holiday season.
War Toys for Tots
What would Christmas be without war toys? After all, who hasn’t stationed GI Joe atop that Middle Eastern manger? And this year there are so many options for toys that celebrate America’s multiple on-going wars. For a measly $109, for example, you can buy little Bobby an Operation Iraqi Freedom Marine Corps sniper action figure, including bayonet and pistol, M-4 Carbine, and M40 sniper rifle. For little Suzie, there’s the “Jennifer” 101st Airborne Division action figure with enough fire power to tell any Barbie or Bratz in Iraq to sit down and shut up — or pay the ultimate price.
Let’s not forget that U.S. occupations are supposed to be multicultural affairs. So check out McFarlane’s rifle-toting “Ethnic Air Force Special Operations Command” action figure for just $9.99 — or, for $40 more, the mustachioed “Operation Enduring Freedom Jose.”
Keep in mind that the holidays aren’t always about fun, fun, fun. It’s also a time for serious reflecting, as well as for mourning losses past and future. Admit it, you and your friends are already getting weepy at the prospect of having only one last Xmas with President Bush as your commander-in-chief (barring, of course, a Musharraf-esque power grab). Not to worry, the memory of his rule will never fade with the lovely, “museum quality” bust of Bush, in gorgeous “high quality polyresin.” Imagine, he can smirk on your mantle for decades to come!
Have you already moved on? Looking for new heroes to beautify your home? Then, it’s back to Blackwater! If you thought they only supplied lawless mercenaries, teddy bears, and tree ornaments, how wrong you were! Consider their inspirational “Evolution of Excellence” posters. Many have tough-looking, gun-wielding, white men like the “Train Hard Or Don’t Train At All” one — showing a plainclothes Blackwater gunman flanked by a host of other black-ops operators, engaging in Blackwater black ops; or, if you’re of a more metaphorical mind, don’t miss the “Vigilance” poster that shows a Blackwater bear battling a scary sand-monster — assumedly born of the place U.S. troops and their mercenary brethren call “the sandbox.”
Spirit of the Season
When the holiday season comes round, which of you don’t head for your favorite haunts to shop till you drop? For most of us, that certainly means a trip to RightwingStuff.com. But for the few of you out there who aren’t regulars at the site that proclaims itself “back-handing the Left into submission,” here’s a helpful hint: think t-shirts. Take the “I’d fly 10,000 miles to smoke a camel jockey” fitted T. What a perfect gift idea! But don’t rush to buy quite yet. After all, RightwingStuff isn’t the only made-in-the-USA game in town. You might also think about the “Give Peace a Chance. Bomb Iran” fitted t-shirt from SnafuGear. Or slip over to ConservativeBuys.com to pick up that “Tic Tac Toe Anti-Iran” T, featuring the snazzy game-board motif, with Afghanistan and Iraq already Xed out and all those bombs heading Iran-wards. Or what about the “Tehran Forecast” t-shirt that reads: “15,000 degrees, high radioactive winds.”
Had enough of shirts? Feelin’ a tad sad because the latest National Intelligence Estimate wrecked that plan to take out Iran? How about a trucker hat emblazoned with a picture of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s face on toilet paper and the phrase “Shiite Head” in faux Arabic script?
And, for goodness sake, don’t forget the Xmas cards you’ll need to accompany your gifts. Perfect for the T’s and the hat are DareWare’s “Funny Anti-Iran Anti-Muslim Greeting Cards” with a lovely image of a mushroom cloud and the classic all-seasonal line: “Nuke Iran for Peace.”
Spirit of the (Primary) Season
Thanks to the phenomenon of migrating primaries, this year we’re truly blessed to have the holiday season and the primary season coincide for the first time. Not only is it great for our country, our news cycle, and our many pundits, but it’s a bonanza for shoppers. For Republicans on your list, you won’t want to miss the gear they’ve been giddy for — like the “In Fred We Trust” Fred Thompson shirt that calls for “laws and borders” or the slightly incongruous “Mitt Romney Stein.” That’s beer to you, buddy, as the manufacturer indicates in advising a potential purchaser to “heft a cold one in this 22 oz. ceramic stein with gold trim [and] make any day Oktoberfest.” You’d better lift two, because poor Mitt, a Mormon teetotaler, can’t.
At the Fred Thompson site, you can pick up this year’s safest holiday idea: “Fred Thompson 2008 Silicone Wristbands.” These Live Strong band knock-offs are “Certified Lead Free, Made in the USA of 100% USA-made ingredients [with] NO Chinese components.” You can adorn both wrists with these all-American bracelets — and your toddler can chew on them, to boot.
If you don’t want to commit to a candidate until the primary season shakes out, then how about just opting for a generic “War On Terror, Surveil This!” canary yellow messenger bag — with a handsome image of a Republican elephant holding up a satellite dish by its trunk. And don’t miss that magnifying glass placed over its rear either. (All the better to see the small donkeys it’s defecating, my dear.)
For Democrats — though obviously made by patriotic Republicans — there’s that “Bros Before Hoes” shirt featuring images of Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton; or the T with “Barack Osama” in a turban (and this explanation at the site selling it: “Who would have ever guessed that 6 years after 9/11 and 4 years after the invasion of Iraq we would have a Presidential candidate running with the name ‘Barack Hussein Obama.'”) And don’t skip over the tile coaster featuring Hillary Clinton as Cerberus — that three-headed hound of hell from Greek mythology — complete with a Bill Clinton-snake tail attacking the White House. Just the thing to prevent unsightly stains on your coffee table!
Stress Free Holidays
Well dear shopper, how does it feel to have all your holiday gift worries taken care of in one fell swoop? And don’t worry about that other source of holiday gift anxiety — returns; Tomdispatch has a solution for that, too. Say you get two or three “Chuck for Huck” buttons, featuring action-hero-has-been Chuck Norris and Mike Huckabee, or one-too-many Rhinestone Rudy Giuliani pins (is there such a thing?) under the tree this year? No worries. Just head to Mitt Romney’s official campaign site where the candidate has set up his own private Ebay called the “Mitt Market” for you to sell “items with little hassle and the added benefit of supporting Governor Mitt Romney.”
What more can you ask for? With all the time saved and aggravation averted, you can sit back, relax, and admire your Blackwater ornament-adorned tree, hoist your Mitt Romney beer stein (just remember to set it down on that Hillary Clinton coaster), and enjoy the holidays all courtesy of the Christmas elves at Tomdispatch.
Nick Turse, associate editor and research director of Tomdispatch.com, has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, GOOD magazine, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch. His first book, The Complex, an exploration of the new military-corporate complex in America, is due out in the American Empire Project series by Metropolitan Books in spring 2008. His new website NickTurse.com (up only in rudimentary form) will fully launch in the coming months.
Copyright 2007 Nick Turse