' wish The Universe would send me a statement showing my negative karma
balance. I must have been pretty awful in a previous life considering the
seeming penance I occasionally still pay in this one.
Despite my best efforts, I somehow ended up spending time recently at
the apartment of my sister, Apolitica, and her spouse, Dolton, an unabashed fan
of George W. Bush. Previous readers know I deem the enjoyment factor of such an
occasion equivalent to, say, getting a bikini wax. Of my nasal hairs.
During the stay, I'd done well by hiding behind a newspaper as I sat in
the front room while Dolt and eight-year-old, Dolton, Jr., watched Fox News. (Poor,
poor kid.) Having learned from previous visits, I'd already surreptitiously
Then I screwed up. I spoke.
"I see here that Ukraine
and Bulgaria are soon leaving the so-called 'Coalition of the Willing,'"
I absent-mindedly offered. "Wow, I guess that really puts the old dent in
Operation Occupy Iraq or whatever it's called now with the combined loss of their,
what, 17 soldiers?" (Twelve hundred fifty, actually.)
"You know, Mark," Dolt grimly intoned, "that's exactly
the sort of loose talk that inspires the terrorists and puts our troops in
Whoops, the duel was on. Oh, well, I figured, I might as well make the
most of it now.
"Really?" I responded. "You don't think that maybe being
invaded for no other purpose than imperialistic gain by a country that has
slain and injured well over a hundred thousand innocents and brought one's
nation to the brink of civil war just might have something to do with the fact
that American soldiers now constantly sport figurative 'Blow Me Up Here' signs
on their insufficiently-armored backs?"
"I'm not sure what all you just said," Dolt answered, "but
all I know is, we can't, and won't, leave Iraq until our mission is
"Wait a sec," I protested. "Wasn't our mission
accomplished by May 2003 when Bush landed on that aircraft carrier with the
huge banner that read -- oh, golly, just what did that thing say again? -- oh,
yeah, that's right: 'Mission Accomplished'?"
"Well, uh," Dolt stammered, "that, um, that musta been a different part of the mission. This
mission now is the main mission, obviously."
"Right. Obviously," I said. "I guess, really, though,
America won't be in real trouble anyway, until, say, Freedonia pulls out."
"Where's that?" Dolt asked. He was serious.
My eyes rolled so hard they popped out of my head and onto the floor. The
plugs shot from my ears, scaring the cat. I dusted off my orbs and put 'em back
in. (I never did find out what happened to Fluffy.)
"From a Marx Brothers movie," I said, finally.
"Ha! I shoulda known it'd have somethin' to do with communism,"
I stared at him. (Miraculously, my eyeballs stayed put this time.) Surely
even my aptly named brother-in-law wouldn't really confuse the classic comedic
brothers with the father of modern communism, would he?
"If you love their manifesto so much, whyn't ya marry it?" he
continued in a whiny, sing-song voice.
I guess he would. Thankfully, Apolitica saved me from a possible assault
charge just then by entering the room. When she left a little later, I'd calmed
down enough to press on.
"Dolton, why can't you see what an immoral, illegal disaster Iraq has
been from the beginning?" I pleaded. "Why don't you understand that
as long as the U.S. stays there, the violence will continue unabated?"
"Typical leftist cut-and-run nonsense," Dolt sneered. "Besides,
if we leave now, the sacrifice of all of our brave troops who have already died
there will have been pointless."
"So, then, you're saying more American soldiers need to die just so
that the soldiers who have died so far won't have died in vain?"
"Bingo!" he exclaimed. "Now, you're getting it, my naïve
"We all are. Sans lubrication."
He ignored me, and went back to watching the tube. Just then, a clip of
Dubya flashed across the screen.
"Daddy, look!" my nephew exclaimed. "The monkey man!"
"Junior!" his dad sternly admonished.
Ah, I thought, there's hope for the little Dolt yet.
After a few seconds of tense silence, my brother-in-law turned to me and
said, "You know, Markie Marx, if you want to get the real story, you
should watch Fox News. Listen to some truth for a while instead of all that
liberal media crap you always pay attention to."
"Funny you should mention that," I replied, "because I
did take note of a recent remark by Brit Hume. What do you think of his calling the number of American
military deaths in Iraq 'negligible'"?
"He's right! 'Cause if it weren't for Osama Hussein, I mean, Saddam
bin Laden, I mean, well, you know who I mean, anyway, if it weren't for that
evildoer being negligible, those soldiers would be alive today!"
"Well," I said, "if your statement clarifies nothing else
-- and it doesn't -- it certainly demonstrates why Dubya is the president for
you, even if he's not. President, I mean."
"My sediments exactly." In light of Dolt's rock-headedness,
this comment almost made sense, a sure sign I'd stayed way too long. I wasn't
quite done, though.
"You know, Dolton, I do, amazingly, agree with one thing you said
earlier: Whether America should leave Iraq or not -- and we should, immediately
-- we won't, especially since we're not about to abandon the dozen or so
permanent military bases we've been constructing there since right after the
invasion. Throw in Americans' natural blood lust, and the slaughter in Iraq is
guaranteed to long persist."
"What're ya talkin' about, 'blood lust'? We're a peaceful people,"
he said, repeating yet another Great American Myth I swore if I heard one more
time, I'd throw up.
"Peaceful?" I cried,
somehow managing to check my gag reflex.
"That's right. Everyone knows we Americans, by nature, hate war. If
we fight, it's only because we have to, so we can, ya know, spread freedom and
democracy around the world. If it weren't for us, everybody'd be speaking
German and Japanese and, uh, lots of other languages."
"You mean, like they do now in Germany and Japan and, uh, lots of
"Dang! I always mess that one up," he muttered to himself.
"Well," I said, "I hate to burst your presidential-like
bubble, but perhaps a brief rundown of U.S. wars and military actions might
give you a little perspective on just how non-violent we Americans really are. In
addition to the interminable 'Indian Wars' which Native Americans -- the
surviving ones, that is -- might more accurately term the Near-Genocide, and the
decades-long history of deadly U.S. destabilization throughout Latin America,
allow me to regale you with but a mere fraction of military engagements we
innately docile Americans have either instigated or participated in" (I
took a very deep breath and began):
"We have: The Undeclared War with France from 1798 to 1800; the
Barbary Wars of 1801 to 1805 and again in 1815; the War of 1812 from, oddly
enough, 1812 to 1815; the assault on Sumatra in 1832; the Mexican-American War;
the Civil War; the first Korean War in 1871; the overthrow of the Hawaiian
monarchy in 1893; the Spanish-American War; the U.S.-Philippine War from 1899
to 1902; the Boxer Rebellion; the American-Moro Wars from 1902 to 1913; the
Tampico Affair and occupation of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914; the 1915 invasion of
Haiti and subsequent 19-year occupation there; Pershing's Punitive Expedition
into Mexico from 1916 to 1917; World War I; the Siberian Expedition of 1918 to
1920; World War II; the second Korean War from 1950 to 1953; the Bay of Pigs in
1961; the Vietnam War; the Dominican Republic intervention of 1965; the 1983
Grenada invasion; air strikes on Libya in 1986; the 1989 invasion of Panama;
the Persian Gulf War; air strikes in Bosnia in 1995 and again in Kosovo in
1999; the war in Afghanistan and, of course," I gasped, "the Mother
of All Immoral Wars: Iraq."
Grateful I hadn't passed out from lack of oxygen, I looked at Dolt for
his reaction. He'd dozed off.
"Hey, wake up!" I yelled.
"Huh? Um, Okay, so . . . what were you saying?"
"Never mind. Suffice it to say that as of 1993, according
to the Library of Congress as researched by Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy
Ellen C. Collier*, there had been at least '234 instances in which the
United States [had] used its armed forces abroad in situations of conflict or
potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes.' Two hundred thirty-four!"
I smelled smoke as the lone, rusted gear inside Dolt's mind ground
slowly, picking through the irrelevant clichés jammed into that tiny locked
space and eventually singling out the most predictable of the shopworn lot. After
receiving final clearance from RBC (reptilian brain central), he at long last
blurted: "Yeah, well, so? We're -- we're still the greatest country in the
"Uh-huh. And you've been outside the U.S. just how many times,
exactly, to personally test this theory?"
He frowned. "Well, um, none," he said, and then suddenly
brightened. "But I was in San Diego once where I saw a whole buncha
Mexicans, and that was enough for me! Which reminds me: I don't see how you're
gonna be able to stand being around 'em all when you move to Costa Rica"
-- Apolitica had obviously apprised him of my plans to leave the country -- "but
then, I'm sure all you commies will get along just fine together. Don't let the
border hit you in the ass on your way out!" he cackled.
"Well, Dolt, I know this is bizarre," I sighed, "but
Mexicans come from Mexico and Costa Ricans come from Costa Rica, and very few
of them are communists. And yes, I am having a house built soon in lovely,
army-less Costa Rica and plan to be residing there for keeps in about a year or
"Good riddance!" he crowed.
"Y a usted tambien,"
I responded. "It's clear: I can no longer live amongst you and your ilk
and suffer the senseless, wanton destruction of my native country you have all
so willingly enabled, a nation that, despite its myriad flaws, at least tried for two centuries-plus, no matter
how haltingly, to hold aloft and put forth noble ideals for others in the world
to follow, but which now is nothing more than a rogue state firmly controlled
by murderers and looters gleefully annihilating constitutional liberties and
exporting untold misery worldwide, all the while supported, again, by millions
of witless Americans who firmly believe that independent thinking is something
to avoid and disparage at all costs. This land birthed with great hope from the
Age of Reason has slipped ignominiously and irreversibly into a superstitious,
spirit-crushing Age of Endarkenment."
Dolt fell silent; he was contemplating something, I could tell. Maybe,
just maybe, after all of our acrimonious arguments and his complete
unwillingness to look at his country crumbling about him and the very real part
he and others like him have played in its undeniable distress, this little
speech had finally helped pry open his atrophied mind and I had -- at long last
-- been able to get through to him!
After a few seconds, he said, "What's an ilk? Is that like a large
Oh, my. I wonder if can put a rush on that casa.
* Thanks to GlobalSecurity.org.
Copyright © 2005
Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.
Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who,
for the time being at least, lives in Sacramento, California. He can be
reached at email@example.com.