Nick Turse Offers the Seasonal Shopping List from Hell

We all know the feeling. After your last minute holiday gift-giving near-disaster in 2004 (surprisingly similar to the one in 2003), you made that firm New Year’s resolution yet again – this time you were determined to buy those Christmas presents in July. The Monday after Thanksgiving at the absolute latest. They would all be wrapped and carefully hidden away in the back of your closet under the old skates and the family photos. Well, don’t even bother to look. You know you didn’t. Fortunately, there are sites – Tomdispatch for one – with your seasonal well-being in mind. And so it’s with particular pleasure that, in the very nick of time, Tomdispatch presents its third annual opportunity for you, the Xmas gift-giver, to partake in some small way of an all-American, globally generous spirit of giving. Open your hearts, open your wallets, and shop till you drop. It’s the Homeland Security way of life! Tom

p.s. One small gift you might actually consider picking up is an amusing collection of bumper stickers (“Be nice to America or we’ll bring democracy to your country”) and bumper facts, a little stocking stuffer of a book by two young progressives, Actions Speak Louder Than Bumper Stickers.

All-American Christmas By Nick (“Tongue Firmly in Cheek”) Turse

It’s that time of year again. A time for family and friends to gather. A sacred time. A time to look back and reflect on what really matters most. And, honestly, what matters more than Tomdispatch’s third annual holiday list of the season’s best gifts?

Back in 2003, there were those “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.” This year, it’s all about timeless American values, like militarism, jingoism, and barbarism. So if you’ve been wringing your hands, worried that you’ll never find that last minute holiday gift for the special someone on your list, today is your lucky day!

The Spirit of the Season

Does it seem like every year you have more and more people to buy presents for? Well, here’s a gift idea that wants to be part of the solution, not the problem: the “America Is Full” T-shirt. Now, when the recipient of your gift heads out, people will know exactly what s/he thinks about those tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And if there was any shred of doubt, the reverse side reads: “The Borders… It’s Closing Time.”

Last year, Tomdispatch suggested that classic bumper sticker, the “Terrorist Hunting Permit” as a tasteful addition to any Hummer, pick-up truck, or Abrams tank. This year, we recommend its companion the “Liberal Hunting License” – with this sticker there’s no “bag limit.”

Double your hunting fun with either the “Have You Killed a Terrorist Today?” or “One Dead Terrorist” T-shirt – in beautiful, all natural white or a pretty, pink junior-sized version with a faux-blood splatter and a logo that reads: “Bringing Freedom to the World, One Dead Terrorist at a Time.” Another sure-fire, stocking-stuffer is the “Six Middle East Countries Can Get Along if Five Are Nuked” tee. Or plunk down that extra nickel for a “Raghead Roundup” shirt to go with this year’s haberdashery highlight, the “We Will KYFA [Kick Your Fucking Ass] Iraq” hat.

Are shirts with slurs and hats with profanity-laced acronyms just a tad harsh for that place under your family-values tree? Then try a different path – one that blends militarism and misogyny– with an exquisite sweatshirt that reads: “Special Delivery” with an image of a bikini-clad woman, straddling a missile, in front of a red, white, and blue background, or how about the “Big Johnson Army” t-shirt – a gift for sophisticates who absolutely demand that their clothing feature large-breasted cartoon women, macho military vehicles, star-spangled backdrops, and mind-bending double-entendres (“We always get the biggest hummers”).

Fine Art for Xmas

Perhaps, though, you’re searching for an even classier gift. Then look no further than the artwork available from The Presidential Prayer Team – representing the network of “millions” of folks who “pray for the President, his cabinet, the nation and our Armed Forces.” You’re not going to find elegant artwork like this in the Louvre (which you can’t visit anyway, since you’re probably still boycotting France). For a suggested donation of $35 you can buy a “numbered collector’s lithograph,” “Praying For Peace,” featuring “two of our best-loved Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, praying beside President Bush” by modern master Ron DiCianni. For a mere $20, you can hang an un-numbered version of the same over your mantel this holiday season.

Members of the “Boycott France” crowd who are also connoisseurs of the finest objets d’arts will love an apropos piece (de rsistance) that embraces their raison d’tre – namely, making sure there is never dtente with the French. For them, we recommend the elegant “First Iraq Then France Tile Box” – a “stylish” container we consider absolument trs magnifique! This petit box features a cartoon image of an angry George W. Bush dressed as Uncle Sam (with arms of Popeye proportions) rolling up his sleeve to deliver the coup de grâce to France. Don’t commit the faux pas of not picking up this gift.

Give the Gift of Gukert, er Gannon…

I bet you thought everyone’s favorite “White House-credentialed fake news reporter” and “potential male prostitute” was no more – gone off-line to hide his head in shame, no doubt? Don’t worry! He was, he writes, so “feared by the Left [that] it had to take [him] down.” But not so far down that you can’t exhibit a little holiday spirit by helping him up again. Just go to the contributions page at and make a donation in the name of a family member or your favorite co-worker. Not only is giving the gift of Gukert, er, Gannon, a wonderful holiday treat, but – his site assures us – it offers “an excellent opportunity to fight back against the well-funded attack machine of the Left.”

Warm Holiday (Death) Wishes

One piece of Christmas-themed apparel that might warm chilled holiday hearts is the “Freedom Isn’t Free. Peace Isn’t Pretty. Merry Christmas” shirt with its stunning image of the grim reaper, brandishing an automatic rifle, clad in military fatigues, and, of course, a Santa hat.

Or try the “Pro Bush Christmas Patriotic Hooded Sweatshirt” – emblazoned with an amalgamation of Americans flags, Christmas greetings, and a classic image of Santa “W.” (Perhaps next year’s version will have him handing out gifts with an obligatory “Happy Halliburton!” logo to Iraqi tykes.)

Git Yo Gitmo Gear

Believe it or not, our gulag at Guantanamo Bay has been up and running for almost four years now, and if you or your loved ones still haven’t been fitted for your orange jumpsuit or gotten your Gitmo gear, make haste! So that the process proves no trial for you, we at Tomdispatch have (extra-)judiciously scoured right-wing runways for absolute perfection in head-to-toe Gitmo garb.

For starters, there’s the lovely “I (heart) Club Gitmo” T-shirt – just for that special someone you’d love to be shackled to for life. Or maybe, with memories of a favorite island getaway dancing in your head, you’d prefer the ever-tasteful “Paradise Resorts: Gitmo” shirt.

A mere $17.99 procures you the “Club Gitmo” baseball cap with an illustration of “Palm Trees, surf and sun and a little turban wearing cartoon character giving a great big thumbs up!” It makes the perfect pair with the lovely “Guantanamo Bay: Spa and Resort” barbeque apron. And, so no one will be left out, for the littlest torture-advocate purchase that companion bib or the ever-so-sweet “Camp Gitmo Kids T-Shirt.”

Those on Santa’s naughty list may, of course, prefer to opt for the “got gitmo?” thong. Wearing this, you can rub your own fake menstrual blood on the “prisoner” of your choice this New Year’s Eve or adorn his/her head just like the genuine interrogators do!

And “Ghrab” a Few of These for Your Friends…

Feeling expansive? Here’s a shirt that seems to evoke both marquee sites in the American gulag (Gitmo and Abu Ghraib) – “The Koran: Now in Two-Ply” T-shirt with the image of a guy, pants down, seated on a toilet, holding the Muslim holy book and giving a thumbs-up worthy of America’s most famous soldiers. If “Two-Ply” isn’t quite right, then consider two other sure-to-please versions of the same: the lovely “Property of Abu Ghraib Prison” or the tasteful “I Got Humped at Abu Ghraib Prison.”

Freedom Isn’t Free, But this Gift Is!

Don’t have a lot to spend, not even enough for those tees or bibs? Not to worry! Tomdispatch isn’t about to be all tied up in mercantile knots this Christmas, not when, courtesy of our friends at the 700 Club and the Christian Broadcasting Network – and at no cost to you – you can get your own, genuine, 100% red-and-white bumper sticker. Using widely recognized images (found on restroom doors everywhere), it proclaims: Marriage = Man + Woman. Not only is the price right on this gift, but it offers your recipient the ability to really experience what it must have been like to be on the “pro” side of the debate over segregation or a card-carrying member of the anti-suffrage movement. You can’t put a price on that!

Pimp Their (Sleigh) Ride… or at least their Bumper

If that special someone’s car still has a little bumper room, consider the following crop of bumper adornments:

“Jeb Bush for President, ’08” “Nuke their ass, take their gas!” “My SUV (heart) Iraqi Oil”

or simply: “Nuke Mecca”

A.C. F-U!

In 2005, the Xmas-hating American Civil Liberties Union continued releasing “information about detainees held overseas by the United States” obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests of the U.S. government. If you know someone who isn’t about to stand for the release of one more tedious FBI document detailing abuse at Guantanamo Bay – then look no further than the “Anti-Christian Lawyers Union” line of caps, shirts, mugs, and stickers. With the “C” in ACLU cleverly replaced by Islam’s green crescent moon and star, your giftee will be able to do double duty every time he or she steps out of the house in 2006 – insulting that organization and a major world religion all at once!

If, however, your giftee is the picky sort – someone, say, who hates “our nation’s guardian of liberty” but hasn’t the stomach to rile Muslims at the same time – not to worry, there’s always the “ACLU: Enemy of the State” product line that cleverly replaces that telltale “C” with a hammer and sickle.

Give War a Chance

The holiday season is usually a rough time for warmongers – with all the talk of “peace on Earth,” it’s little short of a seasonal bias crime. So, into fairness as we at Tomdispatch are, we’d like to recommend the “Footprint of the American Chicken” T-shirt, designed, says manufacturer “Life, Liberty, etc.,” to help you identify “radical individuals so they can be avoided when possible… confronted when necessary” and, ultimately, chased “back to their hippie communes.” On it, the peace sign is cleverly likened to the footprint of everyone’s favorite cowering fowl. Another selection that promises to “drive all those bongo-slapping hippies berserk” is a tee of understated simplicity that says it all: “Pro-War.” What could be better in the giving season than to offer someone close to you the chance to tell the world that s/he’s down with human suffering and not afraid to broadcast it?

Raw Deal

Okay, so the conflict in Iraq is going miserably for the U.S., but who – aside from millions in the streets before the war started – could have known? Still, this turn of events has an upside for you – bargains! Case in point: the “Iraqi Freedom US Military Heroes Playing Cards,” once $19.99, and featuring aces like President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald (“Gin Rummy”) Rumsfeld. The Bush administration’s loss is your gain. Your whole family can now play “war” for the mission un-accomplished price of $2.99.

Santa’s Decree: No Child Left Behind

Christmas, of course, is all about the kids. So Tomdispatch offers a smashing selection of shock-and-awe toys for terror-fighting tots.

The “Air Force One Playset” is a can’t-miss choice – die-cast metal replicas of all the President’s fave vehicles: his jet, Air Force One; his helicopter, Marine One; the posh Presidential Limo; the sporty Presidential Sedan; and a Secret Service Jeep, “complete with presidential seals, plus presidential motorcade signs.” Now little Suzie or Timmy can play President all day long, running from trouble and reality. A terrorist attack? Time to run (er, fly) scared in Air Force One. A hurricane in the gulf? Chopper off to Washington. Work to be done? Screw it, and head for Crawford. Protests there? Speed away in the high style only a Presidential sedan can supply. With this playset, the kids will have fun, fun, fun ’til their daddies take their bomb-proof limos away.

When you’re fighting an endless war, you’re gonna need an endless supply of warriors. This Xmas season, to help ensure that recruiting centers get a fresh supply of bodies for imperial wars of the future, you’ll want the kiddies on your list to improve their battle-hardened brain power with Mindfield, the U.S. Military Trivia Game Board Game. Over 2,400 questions about the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, their equipment and their battles! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! It’s never to early to steep little Timmy and Suzie in militarism and the lure and lore of war.

Way back in 2002, people were appalled by the “Forward Command Post” – a bombed-out dollhouse from hell, that rankled consumers who objected to a toy glorifying civilian casualties. The next year, some loudmouth Tomdispatch writer got all bent out of shape about the “‘Battle Command Post Two-Story Headquarters,’ a brownstone-turned-battle bunker… large enough to dwarf your child.” This year, the “Forward Command Post” returns in less ravaged form. No doubt, a hue and cry will still arise from die-hard peaceniks who object to the military driving civilians from their houses, leaving them dead in the front yard, or turning their homes into places to kick back and fire the mortar, heavy machine gun, light-heavy machine gun and bazooka that come with the set. But remember, there have always been American killjoys like the unpatriotic folks who objected to the Quartering Act of 1774. For shame! Luckily, a new play set this year catches the untrammeled spirit of the original Forward Command Post before the legions of PC leveled it. For hobbyists of all ages, the “Middle East Afghanistan House Ruin” is the absolutely “perfect way to start off [a] diorama” of death and destruction that, quite literally, brings the war home.

Keep the “X” in Xmas

With so much going on during the holiday season, it’s sometimes hard to keep what really matters in mind. Sure, the death toll due to the massive earthquake in Pakistan this year is nearing 90,000 and even the President has finally admitted that at least 30,000 dead Iraqis resulted from his war (over a hundred thousand, not even counting this year, if you care to believe the notoriously unreliable researchers-with-a-cluster-bomb-on-their-shoulder at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Columbia University’s School of Nursing, and Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad). But who has time to worry about such things? There’s Xmas shopping to do and there could hardly be a holier or (as Dick Cheney once intoned) more patriotic pastime. After all, capitalism has worked out so well for so many!

So, in the spirit of the season, use Tomdispatch’s All-American Christmas list to guide your every purchase so that, come Xmas eve, you can kick back, down some eggnog, and toast the gulag, knowing you did your part for the U.S. of A. And while you’re at it, you can enjoy an Xmas present from Tomdispatch meant especially for you. In 2003, it was “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” In 2004, it was “Let It Snow.” This year, Tomdispatch offers Sid Tepper’s and Roy C. Bennett’s 1955 classic, “Nuttin’ For Christmas,” with some new lyrics for your caroling pleasure:

I lied about double-U, M, D’s; Somebody snitched on me. I tortured a bunch of detainees; Somebody snitched on me. I spilled beans on a covert spook; I refused to be rebuked. Lied and said we’re gonna be nuked; Somebody snitched on me.

(Chorus) So, I’m getting’ nuttin’ for Christmas, Even hawkish Dems are mad. I’m gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas, ‘Cause I ain’t been nuttin’ but bad.

I lied about the yellow cake; somebody snitched on me. The documents proved to be fake; somebody snitched on me. I set up an offshore gulag, Willy-Pete shells I did lob, said Brownie did a “heckuva job,” somebody snitched on me.


I lied about an Iraqi drone; Somebody snitched on me. An anti-war war mom chased me from my home; Somebody snitched on me. Ignored N’Orleans until too late, With Iraq I sealed my fate, It’s looking more like Watergate, ‘Cause somebody snitched on me.

So you better be good – unlike me; ‘Cause if you’re bad, you’ll surely see; You’ll get nuttin’ for Christmas!

Nick Turse is the Associate Editor and Research Director of He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch on the military-corporate complex, the homeland security state, and various other topics. If you have whistles to blow or muck you think Nick should rake, send your insider information to [email protected]