For Better, For Worse

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Reliance

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Get Your Gun

There’s a billboard somewhere in America depicting Santa Claus giving guns as gifts, a nice sentiment to add to that whole we are Christians, Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men messages being aired.

 

It’s good to have guns. They come in handy. A man got upset at McDonald’s somewhere this week. His McDouble Cheeseburger was missing from the menu. He did the natural thing and went and got his gun to fix things.

Yes, that’s natural. When I owned a business in West Virginia, getting your gun was many coal mining client’s natural response. Fortunately for the upset McDonald’s customer, most other customers and employees there had not embraced the NRA’s ‘Arm Everyone, Shoot Everything’ policy. No one else pulled a gun and demanded he leave. No shoot-outs were ignited.

So the good news for the customer is that it worked, proving once again that the armed customer is always right. The man got his cheeseburger along with Freedom fries, also known in some places as French fries. America indignantly started referring to them as Freedom fries for a while. Led by Congressman Bob Ney, who was inspired by a “Cubbie’s” restaurant owner in North Carolina, this was America’s protest to France’s refusal to back the Global War On Terror in 2003. You know the one, started as part of reprisals for the 9/11 attacks.

Oh, no, wait, I lie. The Bush Administration eventually clarified that this had nothing to do with 9/11, because Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. No, the Global War On Terror in Iraq was to wipe out Suddam Hussein’s WMD. You remember the late Suddam Hussein, the one the US kept in power for so many years, friend of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney? Despite his human rights violations, he was America’s good buddy until he invaded another good buddy’s country, Kuwait.

Iraqi defectors always said Suddam had no WMD. So did the UN’s official inspectors but that didn’t matter to America! No sir, we knew better. We went in there to find and destroy those WMD and kick a little butt, show those French people and the rest of the world how it’s done. WMDs were never found. Suddam eventually was found and killed. The war would pay for itself, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld promised Americans. No lasting ground force would be needed there. The Iraqi people would welcome America with open arms as great liberators. That was important. George W Bush and the Republican Party had run on a campaign that included a revamping of America’s foreign policy. America shouldn’t be in the business of nation building, they lectured American voters and the Democratic Party. And if you are forced to go into armed conflict with another country, it’s necessary to have an exit strategy, yessiree.

George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney didn’t have an exit plan, some Army generals and a secretary pointed out, and it was going to take a ground force and lasting presence to secure the peace, they warned. They were fired. Generals who agreed with the administration’s rosy predictions were promoted into responsible positions to execute the shock and awe cakewalk.

Meanwhile, intelligence was needed to support our claims that all this was working, that America was destroying Al Qaida, that we had them on the run, so we ramped up Gitmo and our torture program. Torturing folks is the way to go if you need information. Give them enough pain and they’ll agree to any damn thing, not a problem.

That’s how it goes. You want information, you torture. You want oil, you invade. Upset with the service?

 

Go get your gun.

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Courage and Shame

 

It started with one voice and now fifteen similar accounts of horror to tell.

On the other side stands a man in silence.

At this late stage in life a buried past comes alive.

 

Scary and awful fate to deal with when one should be enjoying the fruits of life.

Karma spares no one and will collect at any given moment it can.

Who cares that one is on his deathbed or at the height of fame.

 

When it’s time to pay, it’s time to pay.

I feel for all men and women of rape.

And I feel for all men and women trapped in rage and anger.

 

There is no winner.

Everyone ends up a victim.

And everyone ends up paying a high price.

 

What’s the moral of the story?

There are so many lessons to learn.

Not one story is bigger than the other.

 

I look back at my childhood.

Could anything have been different?

Life is the way it is.

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