Let me relay to you a conversation that occurred not long after Iraq War I – Desert Storm, but well before America toppled Saddam Hussein: This was told to me by a stand-up guy regarding a talk that he had with a Prince of the royal family of Kuwait. He asked the Prince what he thought of Saddam Hussein. The Prince said that he thought Hussein was a very bad man, but the only man that could rule Iraq and keep it in check. My guy was more than a little surprised to get this answer. My guy pointed out that Saddam Hussein had invaded the Prince’s country, raped its people and destroyed many things of value. The Prince acknowledged the heavy price paid at Hussein’s hands, but reiterated that Saddam Hussein was still the best man for the job for all concerned.
Now let’s go forward to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the others…all of whom could be tried for war crimes in my opinion. They lied about the weapons of mass destruction – there weren’t any. They lied about Muslim Jihadists being supported by Iraq – there were none (at least there weren’t until we showed up). They asked us, the American people, to believe them in this. Most of us did. Our Republican and Democrat representatives told the administration “bombs away.” The Senate voted 77-23 while the House voted 297-133 in favor of the Iraq War Resolution.
I remember watching Colin Powell present the administration’s case to the United Nations. Powell was a man that I respected, and still would like to respect, but he really looked strained and uncomfortable making his argument…the way people look when they are saying something they do not believe, but feel compelled to say it anyway. Whatever his reasons, he supported the wrong cause.
We were told if we didn’t want another imminent 9/11 on our hands that America needed to make a pre-emptive strike against Hussein. From my knowledge of history, virtually all pre-emptive strikes are framed in this manner to justify the action, but the underlying reality is sinister and self serving. We, the People, got swindled by our elected representatives. It was a cowardly act of war – one that will probably shame us forever.
Funny too in that we had unprecedented world support before we turned our guns on Iraq. What a waste of goodwill.
Now I am hearing self righteous sabre rattling from the chicken hawk right. Now I am hearing “we don’t get fooled again” from the progressive left. Now I am hearing we were never fooled and we told you so from the libertarians.
Personally, on the record, I was opposed to our offensive war against Iraq. The subsequent facts reinforced my belief established in the ‘60’s about our government, which is: the only thing I can believe from our government is that I cannot believe our government.
But I am personally troubled because of one pretty significant reality: We did this thing to Iraq. We created this mess. I do not think that this can be disputed.
For your consideration, like it or not, do we have an ethical obligation to clean-up the mess we made even though we were lied to?
Benjamin Franklin said, “Wars are not paid for during wartime, the bill comes later.” Though I am far from an expert on the sectarian issues in Iraq, whether we own up to what we did or not, we will probably be paying that bill forever… one way or another.
The waitress brought me another drink. She wanted to light my hurricane lamp again. I wouldn’t let her. “Can you see anything in the dark, with your sunglasses on?” she asked me. “The big show is inside my head,” I said.
I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.
Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.
All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!
Wake up, you idiots! Whatever made you think that money was so valuable?
New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.
People don’t come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God.
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things.
And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
I will say, too, that lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve. The best idea in that apple, though, is making jazz.
Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.
People say there are no atheists in foxholes. A lot of people think this is a good argument against atheism. Personally, I think it’s a much better argument against foxholes.
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
To be is to do – Socrates
To do is to be – Sartre
Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra
I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.
Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
If you can do no good, at least do no harm.
Make love when you can. It’s good for you.
Ting-a-ling mother fucker.
There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look.
Until you die…it’s all life.
Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.
We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.
Life is no way to treat an animal.
The insane, on occasion, are not without their charms.
There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.
No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.
A saint is a person who behaves decently in a shockingly indecent society.
What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.
My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things.
She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.
And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years. It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period. This is it: “Nothing.”
A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.
Having recently heard of the latest Monkees reunion tour, sans Davey of course, I got to thinking of one of the threads of my youth that came to fruition much later along my pathway.
It’s very important to take the space time continuum seriously… especially when you are not much of a believer in fate, destiny or that things always happen for a purpose, like myself. For me things can be summed up pretty neatly with the words of Douglas Adams, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”
Back in the 60’s, music was exploding. It seemed like every day there was a new sound or a new artist adding to ever expanding genres. I tried to take it all in. We all tried to take it all in. I think we may still be trying to take it all in. It was an incredible time musically!
I love music in every form, but I have always been a sucker for a good pop hook. The Beatles were astounding. They were everywhere. They changed pop music with each new album, and they changed pop culture each time as well. The rest of the English Invasion was a musical force to be reckoned with.
America had to respond. And respond it did on every front. Admirably too.
One of those fronts was sheer profit. The Monkees were assembled as a money making business, pure Hollywood corporatism. Yet it was so wonderfully American.
And I loved the Monkees! Their job was making music! They had the Monkeemobile! They were hanging out and having fun! They got in (and then out of) the most ridiculous situations as a way of life!
My take on them, then and now: Davey had charm that was contagious, Mike was a serious thinker, but someone had to be, and Peter was just goofy. Mickey was just too cool and my undeniable favorite.
In the 60’s, when the Monkees came to town for a concert at the venerable War Memorial Auditorium, I heard on the AM wireless that they were arriving at the airport. My brother and I convinced my mother to drive us over there so that we could meet them in person. I was never more excited. I tried to think of what I might say to them. Maybe they would give me tickets to their concert. Maybe they would ask me backstage. Maybe they would ask me to be a Monkee. Maybe they would ask me to tour with them…
Of course we were at the wrong airport. The Monkees flew into the private airfield right next to where we were. Dreams dashed in the sad realization that we were not going to meet them.
But I knew one thing for certain from the Monkees – I had to be in a rock band. As a result of that, I had the incredible opportunity to perform with musicians who, to this day, I am deeply honored to have shared a stage with – times I will always cherish and be thankful for.
Real good stuff.
Fast forward a few decades. I’m doing the corporate gig as CFO of a rapidly expanding Internet company. We make generous donations to “Computers for Kids.” We get preferential treatment at their annual gala fundraiser. Mickey Dolenz is the performer. I get a private post performance party invite.
I am going to finally meet Mickey Dolenz. Did I mention that Mickey was my favorite Monkee?
It’s not that I am star struck, well maybe a little, but it’s that I like to meet the people who have had a profound influence upon me and thank them. And if possible, have as much conversation as the opportunity presents.
The show was great and it’s time to fulfill a boyhood dream. I’m cool, but yet I am as over-excited as a child. Finally, Mickey joins the party. He situates himself right next to me at the bar in the private room. I seize the moment and request a photo of me and Mickey.
As the photo is about to be snapped, I place my arm around Mickey, and in doing so, I push his drink right off of the bar. Horrors! Mickey looks at me and tells me that it took 20 minutes for the staff to find his particular drink of choice. He is not happy. Nightmare! I sincerely apologize. They replenish his drink. It gets better. I get my picture.
We talk. I feel so good. I tell him that “Shades of Gray” remains my favorite Monkees song. I tell him that Davey did a great job on the vocals. He tells me that it is his favorite too, but he sang the song. I am pretty sure that my memory is good in this regard, but this is Mickey Dolenz contradicting me here. I have to cede to him. Meeting summary to that point: Oh no, bad start that got better now taking a negative turn.
But things went back to good between me and Mickey, and as it turned out, I had the most delightful time talking with him.
When I had the later opportunity to listen to “Shades of Gray,” I realized that Davey did indeed sing most of the lead with Mickey singing along, but mostly harmonizing. Well at least Mickey and I consider it our favorite Monkees song.
Sometimes we get what we want in our childhood, when we are adults…
I’ve put on some obscure Iggy Pop from your collection and smoked a little to set the mood.
Your body stopped functioning yesterday, and you passed away a few days before that.
I am actually thankful for the deep cold virus that inhabits me right now and seeks to live at my expense. It forces me to be more inactive, which gives me time to think of you and our times together.
So, I thought I would write you one last time. Maybe you can read this, maybe you can’t, but there is little to come that you don’t know already. Maybe this is selfishly more for me than it is for you.
How prophetic that you would die at the hands of the state. How wrong. How fucked-up. This is going to have to work itself out within me in the future as I am not capable of dealing with it right now. But I will deal with it, on that you can rest assured.
What a prequel it is that your father, of Polish nobility, would be killed working for the secret service of the allies during the Cold War while you were still in your mum’s womb.
You weren’t properly “schooled” because you couldn’t take them and they couldn’t take you, yet you were one of the smartest people I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around.
Oh, and Eddy (and I must say as trying as it was sometimes), I really like how you understood and looked for the Zen in everything. In your occupations as a mason and plumber you were a magnificent craftsman. You raised masonry and plumbing to a form of art. I wish others could better understand you in this regard. As a chef, you prepared a private meal for the artist then known as Prince, and had your own audience with him. I wish you had more of those experiences for a lot of different reasons.
Like virtually everyone in my life, your political views were different from mine. But unlike virtually everyone in my life, your views came about from deep study and a real search to determine your position. I would very much like to think that was one of our mutual traits. Tears rise up as I realize that I will never be able to call you a “socialist twit” again during one of our thankfully many discussions. You never had any idea how much I enjoyed calling you that, but on the other hand, perhaps you did. It wasn’t that you were a “socialist twit” (as we both knew you weren’t), but that you would let me call you one.
As you well know, I have said for over 30 years that you are one of the few people that I would give my life for. You didn’t give me the chance.
The world at large did not want you in it, my friend, but of course, you knew that. It did not want to listen to the inconvenient truths you so readily spoke of. It, metaphorically speaking, shut its ears as you raised your voice thinking that it was the decibels it should be avoiding instead of listening to your different point of view. It could not tolerate your non-conformity. By everyone’s standards, you weren’t normal, and that meant that they classified you in demeaning, negative ways. The fools…
And it is because of all of the foregoing, that I knew that the world needed you in it.
I think I will take “a little one” now in your honor and to dull the sadness in me. Na Zdrowie Brother.
You married a girl who even at her young age saw, as she describes, “the diamond in the rough” that you were. How many people have missed what was obvious to her? And though you have left, you added two daughters who I am sure, just like you, will make the world a better place.
You and your house were a haven for others that didn’t fit the mold very well – generally musicians or people who liked being around musicians. I find it ironic, yet wonderful that you, a guy who faced his own mental demons all the time, was able to “mother” them so well. Each walked away the better in some way for the time spent with you. You should be really pleased by that Buddy.
There is not a musician who received your help that did not appreciate your efforts.
Very few really ever knew how much of a musician you were.
I am glad that my children got to experience you in their lives – they are the better for that. And just for the record Buddy, they are thankful for that too. Biology never interfered with your being a true member of our families. Holidays, camping, pinochle, talking, arguing, fixing stuff, music, hanging out together – these are times I will always remember well.
You continually referred me to interesting authors, Neal Stephenson being the latest. As a source of music and literature, as well as philosophy, you added so much to my existence.
Who will take your vital place in my life? There are so few capable. You were truly one of kind Ed.
Oh, and I have to mention that in the past, when someone close passes, I have felt an overwhelming blast of loss. In your case, the blast of loss deepens as the days go by. You always had to be different, didn’t you?
You fought the good fight Eddy – See ‘ya on the other side, Brother.
Not long before his death, I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut. It just so happened that his last published work, “A Man Without A Country” was released on that very day.
During the course of our meal, I said to him, “Mr. Vonnegut, I obviously haven’t had the chance to read your new book, but I do understand that it involves a lot of your belief that America has gone in such a poor direction, has become so gluttonous in its consumption of resources, and is generally an embarrassment from a global point of view, that you no longer feel as if you have a country.”
I went on with a certain amount of hopeful trepidation for how my comment was going to be received. After all, I was speaking with Kurt Vonnegut…
I continued, “While I certainly agree with you in this regard, I would like to be able to say that I am a man without a country simply because I would prefer to be regarded as a citizen of the planet earth.”
Vonnegut ignored my thought completely, didn’t seem too pleased with my interpretation of his title, and immediately changed the subject. I certainly didn’t score any points with the big guy with that. So it goes…
But, I do think that many of our human troubles are based on human defined borders.
Think About It…
We all revolve around the sun together on the same planet. We are all stuck on the same rock in a universe that is far too big for anyone of us to fully comprehend. We cannot empirically answer the simplest of philosophical questions.
This should be enough to make us all realize the most common bond we share, that being that we are all in the same proverbial boat, but in our case, we have a paddle.
Humanity is indeed becoming more humane, but the pathway has not yet been linear. We still have so much more to achieve.
I would be so bold as to suggest that when we lose the zeal of patriotism for our country uber alles, when we no longer are so convinced that God is only on our side against the enemy, when we can look at anyone and everyone and realize that they are probably just as confused about things as we are, then, maybe, just maybe, we will begin to live in a better place.
You don’t have to be John Lennon to imagine…
And seriously, to Elvis Costello’s question, what indeed is so funny about peace, love and understanding?
I think it might be prudent to judge our social evolution on how well we interact with our fellow human beings socially and in trade. Interventionist military conflicts would be viewed as failure in regard to the foregoing, obviously. If we are to talk the talk, then we need to walk the walk.
But, on its present course, America is not seeking that world. America is seeking to be an empire. I find that counterproductive and ultimately doomed (as all empires are) to failure…
I would suggest that our individual and personal life experience is far more important than nationalism in the big picture of things. Let’s historically face it, America is much, much more of a philosophy than a country.
Do not think me naïve. What I am suggesting is not realistic presently. But that only makes the need for us to be thinking that way even more important.
I am a resident of planet Earth, as are we all. I have become a free man living in an un-free world.
I just happened to be born in the USA.
For those of my national tribe, I am not disrespecting our country…I am, for fact, trying to expand the principles upon which it was founded.
And I think that Mr. Vonnegut, in his writing, is largely responsible for at least planting the seed of these thoughts in my head. That is something that I will never have the resources to repay.
OK, it’s time for my periodic plea for us to come to our senses when it comes to our never ending “War on Drugs.”
But before I begin, it is essential to state that my beliefs on this topic stem from the knowledge that the right to my life is mine and mine alone. Along with that comes the right to make choices for myself, the consequences of which I also bear full responsibility for.
The Declaration of Independence clearly states that I have inalienable rights, among them the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Most, if not all, of the major religions are based on the concept that people have free will and therefore must make decisions for themselves of eternal consequence, which is a pretty heavy responsibility.
I concur with the words of one of my favorite authors:
Now what I contend is that my body is my own, at least I have always so regarded it. If I do harm through my experimenting with it, it is I who suffers, not the state – Mark Twain
Back in the early 1970’s, I thought it only a matter of time before marijuana was re-legalized. A short matter of time.
A Couple of Serious Facts:
Marijuana has never been proven to be addictive.
There has never been a documented death due to marijuana use.
Could we say the same of widely accepted alcohol use, which is arguably the most dangerous drug of all?
The Social Cost
It has been said that smoking marijuana is a victimless crime.
As I understand criminal acts, there needs to be a perpetrator of the crime and a victim of the crime. This makes sense, right?
So when a person goes to jail for smoking marijuana, then the person is both the perpetrator and the victim. This does not make sense, right?
In fact it makes as much sense as the tabloid headline I once saw in a supermarket checkout line:
Siamese Twins to be Executed for Murder – One Says, “But I Didn’t Do It!”
American jails are filled, and many in them are incarcerated for non-violent drug use or possession.
It’s like sending children to live with pedophiles. They live with and make friends with murderers, rapists, muggers and robbers. They probably forfeited their personal property to the government in the process.
It’s costly to house an inmate in a jail.
And they come out with knowledge and skills they didn’t have when they went in…
As a society we pay a steep price because trading in drugs, due to demand and its illegality, is very profitable. This leads to organized crime syndicates and violence in our communities, along with police and government corruption.
The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has this to say:
We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes marijuana worth more than gold, and heroin worth more than uranium – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.
History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.
We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.
This comes from an organization of individuals involved in law enforcement…
I suggest you read it again. And maybe once more.
The Economic Cost
These are tough economic times. Our government has run up debt that our children and grandchildren will not be able to pay back. Some gift to our kids. Cutting expenses and adding income should be of paramount concern. We could achieve significant budget cuts to law enforcement agencies, the courts and the prison system, not to mention increased tax revenues from users and sellers if marijuana were re-legalized.
What About the Trees and Our Environment?
It has been widely speculated that marijuana became illegal at the behest of big business. This is not the result of capitalism; it is the result of corporatism where business connives with government for control of a market segment. I maintain that the American government is the best government…that money can buy.
Jeffrey Blum, an associate professor of law, in response to a request from a federal judge, contends that a significant reason for making marijuana illegal was to protect the interests of the paper and synthetic fiber industries from competition with hemp producers.
It has been calculated that hemp can produce, acre for acre, four times as much paper pulp as trees.
Bye-Bye Trees, Bye-Bye Rain Forests…
Hemp has many uses according to Hemp USA:
Hemp can be used to produce a very large variety of products from clothing to paper to building supplies to cars to fuels to food products to much, much more. Some people have called hemp the plant of 30,000 uses because it combines the utility of the soybean, the cotton plant and the Douglas Fir tree into one green package. Hemp is an environmental, renewable, reusable and recyclable resource.
Notable People Are More Openly in Favor of Re-legalization
While it goes without saying that many in movies, music and the arts, such as Tommy Chong, are publicly calling for the end of pot prohibition, there are a growing number of people, such as television host and activist Bill Maher, former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, mega-businessman Richard Branson, author Stephen King, and congressman Ron Paul, who have joined the ranks.
Eve Conant writes:
Certainly, the Republican Party is a long way from becoming the Pot Party. Although a handful of conservative thinkers like Milton Friedman, George Shultz, and William F. Buckley have argued the merits of legalization over the years (Buckley even mocked those who called marijuana a gateway to addiction, saying it was “on the order of saying that every rapist began by masturbating”), most Republicans still oppose the idea.
These are influential people even if most Republicans still oppose it. And to be fair, how many Democrats are openly calling for re-legalization? Only the growing Libertarian Party openly supports re-legalization.
Pundits like Fox News’s Glenn Beck and former judge Andrew Napolitano have also joined in the debate, on the pro-legalization side. “You know what, I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana. Hear me out for a second…” Beck told viewers in April. “We have to make a choice in this country. We have to either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars, or we legalize it. But this little game we’re playing in the middle is not helping us, is not helping Mexico, and is causing massive violence on our southern border.”
I can’t say I am a fan of Mr. Beck, but he has that right.
We each have a right to what we put into our bodies – will you continue to be told what you can and cannot do with your body?
You can bet that the mob and the cartels don’t want to see marijuana re-legalized – will you continue to support them?
Allowing hemp to be grown is much better for the planet than cutting down trees – will you continue to support environmental destruction?
American drug policies defy every sensibility when you look at the big picture. They cause so much harm in so many aspects that I think future generations will be puzzled by our point of view.
Let’s change this. Let’s grow-up. It may not be a great leap forward, but a leap forward nonetheless.
Hey Nephew – You’ve been talking about joining the Marines for a long time. As you know, each time that you do, I grimace and then remind you that on my side of the family, we are Air Force men. Your grandfather, your father, and I, your loving uncle, all served honorably in the USAF.
And if you have our aim, you should definitely avoid having anything to do with guns. As your grandfather has pointed out, during his pistol training, trying his hardest, he couldn’t even hit the target. Of course from that, we made note that should he ever go postal, as long as he was aiming at us we should be completely safe.
You joined the Marines and are expected to begin active duty soon, but can decline at any time before your report date.
You did, however, grant me an open ear to dissuade you. And that is what I intend to do. If this doesn’t do it, then I’ll have to come up with a better plan. But if I fail to convince you not to do this thing, I will respect your decision as I have respected the decision of another nephew who previously joined the Army.
I was just old enough to have to register with the draft board during the Vietnam days. I complied. I was very opposed to our involvement in that war. I decided that I would not serve in the military in any capacity and if drafted, I would relinquish my citizenship and move to another country. Conventional wisdom suggests that wars and killing can be “just,” but there was nothing coming close to that in ‘Nam.
It turned out that I was never called to duty, but years later I voluntarily joined the military. I followed orders and did my best to do a good job. If you do decide to join, I know that you will do the same. And under the present circumstances, that’s exactly why I don’t want you to join.
Let me say that I have nothing but respect and gratitude for those serving in America’s armed services. I don’t say that because it is so politically correct to say it. I say it because I have been there.
Here’s the way I see it – If you join the Marines, you will undoubtedly spend time in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Let’s take a very abbreviated look at both:
America invaded Iraq because of the supposed threat of hidden WMD, because of the supposed Al Qaeda presence and because of the supposed threat of Iraq’s future actions against America.
Hitler pointed out that the bigger the lie, the more likely that the people will believe it. Man, he sure was right.
There were no weapons of mass destruction. Al Qaeda wasn’t there. And we did a most un-American thing by making a pre-emptive strike against, at best, a mouse that might roar.
Of course, Al Qaeda is there now – our presence made sure of that.
Of course, we will be enmeshed in Iraq forever.
Frankly Francis score: Unjust War 1 – Just War 0
We very quickly invaded Afghanistan after the despicable acts of terror on September 11, 2001. The “supposed” purpose was to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice and remove the Al Qaeda supporting Taliban. Well almost 10 years later that’s sure worked out swell, wouldn’t you say? It’s at best another forever presence that will accomplish nothing.
Frankly Francis score: Unjust War 2 – Just War 0
Frankly Francis Side Note: And as long as I’ve mentioned our Enemy Number One, Sarah Palin has recently suggested that we hunt down the WikiLeaks front man like Bin Laden. Seriously, or at least as seriously as one can take that statement, that should make the guy feel pretty safe and comfortable…
That’s Not the Worst of It
The number of innocent civilians killed by the U.S. military is staggering. And I say this carefully and with the utmost of respect, but even conservatively, they are so massive that they make the number of innocents lost on 9/11 miniscule in comparison.
Maybe, underneath it all, it is revenge we are seeking…and if so, what is the ratio of other innocent deaths to our innocent deaths that we must achieve? 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, 10:1? We are already far above those ratios. So how many more innocent people must die to avenge our loss?
Perhaps There’s Worse Than That
The innocent civilians that survive American attacks have this nasty tendency to want revenge against us. Thus, our very actions are creating more terrorists. YIKES!
I can only imagine, but it must be very difficult to kill another human being, even if they have it coming. To kill innocent people must make life unbearable.
Your well intentioned uncle knows that you would never choose to suffer the blood of innocents at your own hands. But if you join, at best you will be much closer to that process and at worst, a direct part.
And while I know that innocent casualties occur in any conflict, I can’t help but think that it is worse when the war was not just to begin with.
Again, I’ll respect your decision to join the military, but I urge you to consider my thoughts before you go off to war.
People can certainly be savage, but there is great nobleness within us as well.
People can certainly do stupid things (re: amending the constitution to prohibit alcohol), but we also do some wonderful things. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Americans always do the right thing. After they have tried everything else.”
People can actually want to be controlled by authority and be told what to they can do, but even the densest of us knows that this experience, whatever it may be, should be uniquely our own to live our own way.
And I think that if We the People would stop to think about it, we would take cognitive note of the vast difference between Patriotism and Nationalism. Seriously.
Time marches on. In life, the only constant is change.
We have been choosing a growing central authority. I do not think that this is wise.
Kurt Vonnegut, the curmudgeon that he was notwithstanding, was so alienated that his final book was entitled “A Man Without a Country.”
David Bowie wrote the song “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
I certainly understand where they are coming from. As an American, I’m afraid of Americans.
I’m afraid that we are giving up still revolutionary freedom and liberty in exchange for centralized government control, which historically, at best, doesn’t work as well.
It is really painfully obvious that if we don’t remember the mistakes we made in the past, we are likely to make them again.
From my point of view, we are reverting to the very systems that caused our forebears to come to America in the first place. Going full circle, so to speak.
Perhaps we are trying to reach the future through the past.
We are putting out fires with gasoline. It won’t work.
Instead, we must continue the revolution that we were born into. It’s still the best one yet in recorded history.
My connection to Kurt Vonnegut (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) began most innocently.
My father and I were doing a classic road trip in a VW Microbus in the spring of 1972 when we happened upon a drive-in theater featuring the recently released movie Slaughterhouse Five. What a beautiful accident!
“I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all” – Sirens of Titan
From there, I commenced to read everything that Vonnegut wrote. He became an essential element in my life. I was (and still am) an avid reader, but I connected with his writing and thought process better than with any other author.
“This is my principal objection to life, I think: It is too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes” – Deadeye Dick
His curiosity, humor, sense of irony and tragedy, and even his joy affected me deeply. No other writer could make me laugh at life’s follies while at the same time crying over them.
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be” – Mother Night
Curiously enough, I came close to Vonnegut without realizing it during 1974-76. The parents of the drummer of the band that I was in were post-hippie secular humanists that hung with a very interesting crowd. Vonnegut turned out to be an element of this group though I missed that completely.
"I am notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other" - Kurt Vonnegut
The next Vonnegut miss was in March of 1988 when he premiered his humanist requiem in my town. I have chatted with a guy who conversed with Vonnegut in the bedroom at the post-premier house party while Vonnegut was looking for his coat…can you imagine that?
His impact upon American culture has not yet been fully realized.
The Essential Kurt Vonnegut
I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool – Jailbird
Around the millennium I began thinking. If I could meet any one individual currently living on this planet, who would it be? Musicians are certainly my most admired group, but for me it is a one way relationship: what would I say to David Bowie…I really like your music? There are a lot of philosophers and statesmen that I would love to meet, but none presently living. Current Politicos didn’t merit consideration. I soon knew who it would be.
Somewhere later, in the ensuing years, my best friend and wife says, “You know, I am getting tired hearing about if you could meet any single individual on this planet that you would choose Kurt Vonnegut.” She went on to say that I should either meet with him or stop talking about it. I thanked her for understanding and arranged the meeting.
It was a lunch in Manhattan at a little French restaurant that he enjoyed, with a few other people.
It was September 13, 2005, the day that his last work, “A Man Without a Country” was released.
It doesn’t really matter, but he ordered the salmon. I have no memory of what I ordered.
The conversation was incredibly delightful. He read us a poem that he had just composed. After our lunch, Vonnegut went to appear on the taping of the Daily Show with John Stewart.
I took a picture of Kurt as he walked away down Lexington Avenue, but I missed the picture completely, photographed my own finger on the lens, and only got his feet. Kurt Vonnegut walking away down the street and all I got was his feet. And yet, in ways I am still feeling, that picture is perfect.
Vonnegut's feet right along the shadow line on Lexington Ave
I remember watching the show that evening – Stewart introduced Vonnegut, “as an adolescent, he made my life bearable.”
I could not possibly put it any better.
So it goes.
P.S. It was some years later that I connected the dots to another story involving Vonnegut that made me realize even more how close we are all: