Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Violence for Hire

If I had any real courage, I would show up at one of the protests organized by the Westboro Baptist Church and beat the hell out of every male between 18 and 50. This desperately needs to be done, not because it's legal or even right, but because some people are in dire need of a full scale beatdown.

An earlier entry in this blog addressed a few differences between what is legal and what is sensible, considerate or appropriate and I won't belabor the point anymore than it amuses me to do so, but I'm quite conflicted when it comes to the aforementioned "God Hates Fags" creeps of the Westboro Baptist Church. They're the ones who show up at the funerals of soldiers chanting anti-gay rhetoric and generally ruining the experience for anyone who attends (when you think about it, isn't the phrase "ruined funeral" rather odd? Like anybody expects to have a good time, but I digress). It's possible the only thing on their side is the First Amendment. Mind you, I'm not entirely certain of this; better constitutional scholars than myself seem divided on whether picketing a burial is protected expression. However, if it is determined that such activity is permitted by law, I would hate to see this group singled out simply because most people despise them, myself included.

The overriding reason I don't want a law disallowing such activities at funerals is I think many of us have become overly reliant on legislation to ameliorate discomfort and inconvenience. People don't like being approached on the street, so they get rid of panhandling; people don't like door to door salespeople, so they pass laws against soliciting. All sorts of problems that in a perfect world should never even be considered by legislative bodies are now finding their way into courtrooms or on House and Senate floors.

That's why I advocate taking matters into one's own hands just this once. Somebody do this, please! Do it and accept whatever the punishment may be. Take a baseball bat or tire iron with you into the fray and unleash all your rage on these hopeless, hateful loudmouths so starved for attention and headlines they're willing to engage in the utterly tasteless practice of wishing for--and celebrating--someone else's death (And I'm absolutely not joking when I tell you the WBC calls these activities "Love Crusades"). I should do this myself. If I thought I could circumvent felony assault charges, I would. After all, public sentiment would probably lie on the side of the attacker in this case.

I'd be wrong if I hurt those people, of course, but maybe the ante should be raised a bit. Perhaps getting on television and ruining a very solemn and sober moment for family and friends wouldn't be worth it if they had to take a few licks of their own. Start taking up a collection for me, reader(s?), and if my bail is covered and I'm reasonably certain I can get by with a misdemeanor, I'll do it. Really, I will!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


"We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail." George W. Bush, 2001

At this point, is it safe to say we have both tired and faltered? Not to a man perhaps, but is anyone not weary of this war? Put it this way: if you remove the ambivalent and apathetic from the equation (the former term best describes the writer of this piece and the latter probably best describes anyone outside his circle of family and friends who might happen along this blog) and ask only people who have strong opinions on the Iraq War, you're likely to get three types of respondents. One is opposed to the war and has been from the beginning; a second was in favor of the war at its outset but has since turned against it; a third has supported the war effort throughout. But a fourth category is either missing or miniscule. Who opposed it at first but has converted to a pro-war stance? Where are these people?

In fairness, human nature is partly to blame for this. Nothing so costly in lives, time and money is likely to gain momentum over three years; it would take a miracle just to hold support steady
and expecting an increase borders on an optimism at which even Horatio Alger might chuckle dismissively, especially considering the nature of guerilla warfare, which confounds observers and combatants as to who the enemy even is, let alone which side is winning or losing. Thus, predictions as to how much longer the fighting will last and who will prevail become almost impossible.

No matter which category you fall into, it's difficult to deny the War on Terror has been a vast and profoundly expensive undertaking. Perhaps we should be fighting a concurrent War on Error, since any misstep is bound to be costly. Yet, almost paradoxically, this also seems like a point in time where we can't be afraid to make a mistake, because we have to find a strategy that works! Well, I have some suggestions. They're risky, but nothing we try from this point won't be.

1. Mend Fences in the Middle East
The chief country we want back in the fold is Turkey, but no opportunity to ease tensions should be squandered and no nation should be overlooked due to lack of size or power (Jordan, Lebanon) or past hostilities (Iran, Syria). Even our staunchest allies in the region, Israel and Kuwait, should be consulted.
As an addendum, the Iran question must be solved to the extent it can be. Iran says it doesn't want a nuclear weapon, but the world seems incredulous. Iran, after all, wants to be the toughest kid on the block and it's a rough neighborhood. With Saddam Hussein ousted, it could be Iran's chance. The best we can hope to achieve from Iran is neutrality and if this isn't possible, we should be content with benign resentment; what we don't want is active obstructionism.

2. Pull Troops from Iraq
If the first objective is achieved, then phase two can begin. Every soldier in the whole country can make for Kuwait or Turkey or whatever nearby country will put us up. Their status will effectivly be "on call" and whenever the new Iraqi government encounters a situation beyond its control, our forces can step in and tidy up. Doing this will not prevent terrorist attacks in Iraq, but it might turn the blame squarely on the terrorists rather than dividing it between the two hostile parties. As it stands now, few Iraqis are happy with the situation, but terrorist propoganda shifts the blame from themselves to our own soldiers. Our absence would not eliminate this excuse, but it would probably seem like a less credible one to Iraqi citizens getting their houses blown up when there are no American or British troops in sight.

Of course, with this plan there is a risk of outright Civil War on a scale even larger than whatever one chooses to call the current state of affairs, but the sad fact is this: we can address a Civil War far easier than we can tackle the current problem. If a sectarian conflict explodes in Iraq, it will be bloody and tragic, but enemies and friends will be far easier to identify. We would side with the Shiites, assuming it's only a two-pronged conflict between them and the Sunnis and the Kurds remained stable. Why side with the Shiites? We would have to. They're the majority and were oppressed for years under Saddam Hussein. It doesn't mean all Shiites are magnanimous and all Sunnis are sinister, but the choice is clear. Without Shiite cooperation, coalition forces would have made even less progress than they've managed so far.

3. Admit to Specific Mistakes
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice confessed during a trip to Britain that many tactical errors had been made during the War on Terror, but she didn't identify a particular mistake. It's a start, but let's hear more. Let's hear our leaders say what they screwed up and when without being put on trial or placed under duress by continued media scrutiny. More transparency would set a good example for the budding democracies of the world in, say, Iraq, and perhaps warm some currently chilly relationships with some of our alleged allies.

One lesson being driven home that should have been obvious all along is this: military power can't fix the world. No single force or idea can. Not love nor money, not religion nor generosity, not capitalism nor music nor even Oprah Winfrey. This is why we can't tire ourselves out pursuing the same faltering approach or we will fail. Catastrophically.

Just doing my part to fight the War on Error. Feel free to offer your own ideas in the comments section. But one favor, please: let's save the sloganeering for someone else's webpage. This means no references to the "Bush War Machine" from war critics and no "God Bless Americas" from the pro-administration folks. Please have your own ideas and not something you heard on Fox News or Air America. Thanks in advance.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Febrile Vernal Equinox

These executive types who wear a coat and carry an umbrella need serious help, especially the ones who walk thirty feet in light drizzle with the umbrella perched over their heads. Grown men shouldn't need both a coat and an umbrella; pick one or the other. And if you have a coat that can't get wet, you're wearing the wrong coat!

I hate the word "proactive"; to me, it sounds like a brand of shoe. Next time someone uses that word around me, I'm going to hit him right in the face! That's proactive, isn't it?

Yanni was arrested for domestic violence, although he disputes the charge. I'm with him. After all, what are the odds Yanni hooked up with the only woman in the world who couldn't beat him up? Barry Manilow could put a beatdown on Yanni. Paul Anka is Cassius Clay compared to Yanni. If Karen Carpenter were alive, she'd mop the floor with Yanni; she could probably take him now! "Dead Schlock Singer Trounces Girlfriend-Beating Muzak Auteur."

Yes, it was an accident when Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face, but enough is enough! The story is not only overexposed and tired, but Cheney's defenders are making themselves look very foolish by complaining how overexposed and tired the story is. In essence, their argument goes like this: "What's the big deal? All he did was shoot someone in the face." The millions in the media still shooting this dead pheasant and the six or seven people who actually like Dick Cheney can shut their mouths anytime now.

The catchphrase "What Would Jesus Do?" ought to be ready for the glue factory, hadn't it? I don't have a particular problem with it so long as it applies to personal conduct. If people ask themselves what Jesus would do when the choice is to tell the truth or a lie, to be forgiving or vindictive, to be generous or miserly, that seems fine to me if it helps them decide. But things get dicey when matters turn to foreign policy or social issues. Regardless of a person's religioius views, does anyone see the problem here? If Jesus is your consult on such matters, he's either been dead for two thousand years or he's the son of God who transformed water into wine and raised the dead; what he would do about the war in Iraq or Roe vs. Wade is either impossible to determine or beyond our capabilities as individuals. If you ask what Jesus would do about world hunger and think you can achieve something similar, you either have delusions of grandeur or you're putting way too much pressure on yourself. Keep saying it to yourself if it truly inspires you, but enough with the bracelets and keychains and license plates... please!

What's with the word "refrain"? It can mean either to do something again, as in the chorus of a song, or not to do something in the first place, as in "please refrain from writing any more blog entries." That's what my readers always say, but I just refrain and refrain and refrain.