Mark Drolette: Nukes And Dolts And Us! Oh, Why?
Nukes And Dolts And Us! Oh, Why?
By Mark Drolette
I should know better than to talk politics with my Republican brother-in-law, Dolton. But since he’s married to my sister, it’s hard to avoid sometimes, like the other morning when I was helping them move into their new apartment.
Well, not new new, exactly. To be honest, it’s a dump, but it’s all they can afford. They’d just been evicted from their previous digs after falling behind in the rent, which occurred after the cost of my sister’s unexpected surgery wiped them out. My brother-in-law pulls full shifts at both Harry’s House of Hubcaps and The Sloppy Burger (“When it comes to mess, we don’t mess around”), but, like 45 million other Americans, has no health insurance. If he and sis don’t file for Chapter 7 by October 17, 2005, the effective date of the bankruptcy bill Dubya signed into law last April, it’ll be that much harder for them to get a fresh start, leaving even less hope they’ll ever crawl out of the hole they’re in now.
Nonetheless, to Dolt, George W. Bush is very much “da man.” Hence, the pointlessness of our political parrying.
I still occasionally get sucked in, though. After he and I had carried their TV, leased from Rip’s Renter-Center, up the stairs and into the front room (why don’t relatives ever move into the ground floor?), he asked: “Whaddya hear about us maybe nuking Iran?”
Dolt knows just enough about current events -- that is, not much -- to make him dangerous.
I said, “Well, if you’re talking about the recently-revealed Dick Cheney plan, I just happen to have in my pocket here an item from the August 1 issue of The American Conservative by ‘former CIA officer’ Philip Giraldi about that very thing, which, if you think about it, is incredibly serendipitous in case I ever decide to write a column about our conversation someday.”
“Never mind. Read this.”
Dolt read aloud:
“The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing -- that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack -- but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.”
Ol’ Dolt took a deep breath and seemed slightly disturbed. (Well, he is slightly disturbed -- after all, he’s a Republican -- so a more accurate appraisal of his disturbance rating would probably place him somewhere between “disturbed” and “disturbed-plus.”)
“This is really upsetting, Mark. Know what I mean?”
Had he finally seen the light, I wondered? If such a miracle could happen, then maybe there really was hope my San Francisco Giants would be world champs once before I died.
“I certainly do!” I began. “To even think -- ”
“Yup,” he interrupted. “What the hell are we even waiting for? Nuke ‘em now!”
There goes the World Series parade, I thought, not to mention possibly Iran.
Espying my startled look, Dolt explained his “logic”:
“If the U.S. gets hit again and it doesn’t matter if Iran is involved, then why don’t we just blast ‘em now and get it over with? And why does Cheney want to wait until another attack, anyway?”
He leaned closer and said, “You know me, Mark: I’m as patriotic as the next guy with a yellow magnet on his truck, but I gotta tell ya, this makes me wonder about Cheney. The last thing we need is a soft Dick.”
I thought I heard my sister, who was passing by, sigh wistfully. I ignored it; the discussion was icky enough already.
Dolton was a-rollin’. “I’m also getting kind of tired of looking out my window for that mushroom cloud Condi warned us all about.”
I refrained from asking him just exactly what he would do after seeing one, call Homeland Security to report it? Instead, I inquired, “It doesn’t bother you that we would use nuclear weapons on a country that didn’t attack us, or use nuclear weapons, period?”
He grimaced. “You know, Mark, I know you’re Apolitica’s brother and all, but, honestly, man, you’re so naïve. Just threatening to go all nucular-like on them terrorists’ asses gets their attention.”
“You mean like how a Chinese general’s threat to nuke us got ours the other day?”
“What’re ya talkin’ about?” Dolton asked.
“Wow, what are the odds? I have an article about that right here,” I said as I reached into another pocket, “from Joe McDonald of the Associated Press in which he writes that Zhu Chenghu, a Chinese major general and ‘a dean at China's National Defense University, told foreign reporters…that Beijing might use nuclear weapons if U.S. forces attacked China in a conflict over Taiwan.’”
This gave Dolt a jolt; he seemed genuinely taken aback. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope,” I answered. “Although, according to McDonald, China’s foreign minister did scramble to quickly set things straight by declaring that China ‘will not first use nuclear weapons at any time and under any condition.’ This came after the U.S. State Department called the remarks ‘highly irresponsible.’”
“As well they should’ve scrambled. Barbaric bastards.” The bravado was back. “I’m surprised it took us this long to start playin’ hardball,” Dolton added.
“Let’s see, I know I have it somewhere. Ah, yes, here it is: in my shoe,” I said as I pulled out yet a third article, only slightly crumpled and linty, from my sneaker. “The Cheney Iran plan is actually not a brand-new position. William Arkin writes in the May 15 Washington Post that in early summer 2004, ‘Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved a top secret ‘Interim Global Strike Alert Order’ directing the military to assume and maintain readiness to attack hostile countries that are developing weapons of mass destruction, specifically Iran and North Korea’ and that a ‘global strike…includes a nuclear option.’ In other words, it has been official U.S. policy for a while now to order pre-emptive nuclear attacks.”
Dolt was unimpressed. “So?”
“So?? So you don’t find it supremely hypocritical, not to mention insanely dangerous, to denounce other countries for saying they’ll launch nuclear weapons in response to military action when we’ve already set the bar even lower than that hideous standard by authorizing first-strike nuke attacks, period?”
He shook his head exasperatedly and said, “Listen, Mark, I don’t know why you and your fellow liberals don’t get this, but if we have to lie or torture people or even wipe a country or two off the map to protect and spread God-given American values like justice, human dignity, and fair play to the rest of the world, I say go for it!”
He had me there: I never have understood that one, nor most of his ideology, actually. It is blatantly self-destructive, yet he and millions like him continue spewing it.
Just then, my sister brought in some Spamwiches and iced tea. She’s a stay-at-home mom (with eight-year-old Dolton, Jr.: that’s right, “the little Dolt”; I begged ‘em not to) who couldn’t care less about what her husband and I were discussing. She poured the tea from the “Star-Spangled Americana Series Designer Pitcher” she’d just bought at Wal-Mart, the bottom of which sported a “Made in China” sticker.
This tempted me to pull a July 18 New York Times editorial by William Greider of The Nation out of my…well, never mind. Suffice it to say, I just happened to have it, um, on me. I pondered giving it to Apolitica so she could contemplate some of Greider’s following thoughts on America’s “ominous” “weakening position in the global trading system”:
“[America’s] net foreign indebtedness is now more than 25 percent of gross domestic product and at the current pace will reach 50 percent in four or five years….If the news media decided to cast [such] facts as the story of the world's only superpower losing ground in global competition and becoming financially dependent on strategic rivals like China, the public would take greater notice. But governing elites would regard such clarity as inflammatory….The possibility that the United States can no longer afford globalization, at least not as it now functions, is what opinion leaders do not wish to discuss….Why is the United States one of the few advanced economies that suffers from perennial trade deficits? Why do new trade agreements, despite official promises, always leave the United States with a deeper deficit hole, with another wave of jobs moving overseas? How do the authorities explain the 30-year stagnation of working-class wages that is peculiar to America?…American producers are generally free -- and even encouraged by Washington -- to shift production to low-wage locations. Companies regularly use this cost-cutting technique as a competitive weapon without regard to the domestic consequences. The practice works for companies and investors, but not so well for a nation.”
I chose not to give it to her because, as I mentioned, my sister, though not stupid, simply doesn’t care, thus ignorantly abetting unrelenting corporate greed for which she, her intractable mate, and innocent son pay a very real price as America staggers ever closer to economic disaster.
“Thanks, honey,” Dolt said as he grabbed a Spamwich. “I’ll wolf this down and then head over to Harry’s for the first shift. I’m almost late as it is.”
He’s then got another eight hours after that manning the grill at The Sloppy Burger. Poor Dolt. The guy’s working himself to death and only getting father behind.
This all gave me an idea: I’d try hitting closer to home.
“Hey, Dolton. Didn’t your father work in the meat-packing industry when it was heavily unionized?”
“Well, Apolitica’s told me you had a pretty decent childhood. I’d have to believe your dad’s good income and benefits had something to do with that. Do you or your co-workers ever talk about unionizing?”
Dolt stared at me. “Are you kidding? Some guy tried that at Harry’s once and got the boot. Served him right -- friggin’ Marxist. Besides, I don’t believe in unions. They’re all corrupt.”
“As opposed, to say, a current White House administration?”
Dolt ignored me. “Also, why should a guy like Harry, who’s built a business from the ground up, be extorted by lazy union thugs into forking over his hard-earned profits? You see, my elitist brother-in-law, I believe in American values like hard work and personal responsibility, just like the president talks about.”
I could hold back no longer.
“Listen, Dolt, other than your lousy politics which is actually a very large caveat -- ”
“Is that like a large tie?” Dolt interrupted.
“Wha -- ? No, no, I think maybe you’re thinking of a large cravat. Hey! Don’t stop the narrative. What’re you trying to do, confuse the readers?”
“Anyway, besides this large caveat,” I quickly glanced at Dolt; he was humming softly with his eyes cast upward, “you’re being as ‘personally responsible’ as you can, and yet look at your life. You guys lost everything you owned through no fault of your own and are now paying usurious rates to rent the few household goods you do have, you’ve been forced to move into a substandard apartment, you personally are working yourself to death for slave wages with virtually no hope of relief thanks to the new bankruptcy law and on top of that, you’ve been brainwashed into hating unions, one of the few real tools that could actually help you and your family. You support an administration that takes responsibility for nothing, starts a phony, imperialistic, and disastrous war, views American children merely as fodder for its future fiascos, believes pre-emptively nuking others is a splendid idea, shills for corporations and treats Americans solely as consumer units, loves torture, hates the Constitution, and is in power illegitimately.”
“Hey, wait a -- ”
“I’m not done.” My anger and frustration from the last few years had been loosed. “The fascists who truly control America -- that’s correct, fascists -- also so control the media that they’ve turned it into a giant black hole for real news: anything of any import that directly affects your life gets sucked in and stays there, never to emerge, a perfect example of which is the Downing Street Minutes, the leaked highly classified British government documents that for Americans like you who couldn’t or wouldn’t see from the very start that the rationale for the war in Iraq was obviously bogus and need their proof served up in tidy, easy-to-read packages, serve quite nicely as such smoking guns by proving irrefutably that your beloved Bush lied this country into war.”
Dolt looked even more than confused than usual. “The Downing Street what?”
“Thanks for proving my point,” I said. I was almost finished, but had one final item.
“One final item.” (Told ya.) “Your hero Harry? He doesn’t just own the hubcap place, but The Sloppy Burger, too.”
“That’s right. He also owns this hole you’re moving into, plus the place you were just evicted from which means your own boss threw you out of your home, plus Rip’s Renter-Center, plus the local newspaper and radio and TV stations; in fact, he owns about half the town.”
“Well, uh,” Dolt sputtered, “so what if he does, if he worked hard for it?”
“That would be one thing, I guess, but good ol’ boy Harry, a longtime Republican Party mainstay, actually inherited his money from his dad, who got it from his father, who was busted in WWII for laundering money for the Nazis, although no criminal charges were filed because in the America that really exists, it’s not what you do, it’s who you know.”
“And now, thanks to the elimination of the estate tax spearheaded by your buddy Bush and his bunch, when Harry finally does go to the big country club in the sky, his son Harry, Jr., will carry on the new grand American tradition not of getting ahead by hard work, but by perpetuating an even wealthier, more entrenched plutocracy by continuing to stick it even harder to the servile serfs who serve him. Like you.”
“But, but…we’re at war!” my brother-in-law protested, invoking America’s Most Popular Non-Sequitur. Could “Polly want a cracker!” be far behind?
Now I was the one who was exasperated. “Has nothing I’ve said to you gotten through?”
Dolton was a-smolderin’. “Look, Mark, all I hear from you and your anti-American comrades is a bunch of leftist crap that, for some weird reason, I sure never hear on TV.”
My brother-in-law mainly watches Fox News and I’m sure thinks C-SPAN is a type of bridge.
“Besides,” he continued, still simmering, “I don’t really have time to keep up with all that stuff, but I don’t really need to, either: I trust my government to do the right thing and tell me what it thinks I need to know. If President Cheney, um, I mean, Bush, says we need to nuke somebody to spread peace and freedom, then, by God, we sure as hell need to nuke somebody and you know why? Because we’re -- ”
“Yes, I know: at war,” I said wearily.
“That’s right, buddy. Beyond that, I’m not really all that interested in what goes on elsewhere, to tell you the truth. All I know is, I just wanna be part of the president’s ownership society, because, dammit, that’s what being American is all about.”
I looked around, incredulous. “But you don’t own anything. Don’t you see? While you ignore and thus support your government’s murderous, looting ways and its even more breathtakingly frightening embrace of unprovoked nuclear strikes, you’re the one who is completely owned in every way and always will be unless you wake up and actually DO something about it.”
Dolt squinted his eyes and spat, Limbaugh-like, “In your world, Mark, the United States is always wrong and Americans can’t even have dreams anymore.”
Sure they can, I thought. But in my world -- the real one -- they’re more like unending nightmares.
Copyright © 2005 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.
Bio: Mark Drolette is a political satirist/commentator who hangs out in Sacramento, California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his writings can be found haranguin' out here: http://www.markdrolette.com/.