Lately signs have been going up in the neighborhood — OUR TROOPS HOME NOW. It reminds me of 2003, when the signs in Fort Wayne said PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS and the ones in Ann Arbor commanded NO BLOOD FOR OIL and others advertised ANOTHER FAMILY FOR PEACE. Ann Arbor was a photo-negative version of Fort Wayne, I told people at the time; I’m sure it still is.

I never thought the war was a good idea, but I hoped it wouldn’t be a disaster. I hoped it would go the way we were promised it would, that the casualties would be minimal, the shooting brief, the outcome something not too shameful. Well, it turned out to be anything but those things. For most of 2003 I was living in Indiana, and I remember the runup to the invasion, the endless letters to the editor about the importance of supporting the troops and the tiresome repetition of what even then were talked-out talking points, about “fighting them there so we won’t have to fight them here.” There was just so much of that crap. Alan was scowled at in a news meeting when he suggested, not long after Mission Accomplished, that we were going to be in Iraq for quite a bit longer. All of this — and, to be sure, a few other events in my life — made me feel I was regarding my community from behind a thick sheet of plexiglass. I’d sit in meetings, interviews, and want to ask, Who the hell are you people?

Things change, and I apologize for woolgathering. It’s just that here we are, four years later, and everything’s different, eh?

Sunday the New York Times ran “The War as We Saw It,” a column with seven bylines, all sergeants and specialists fighting in Iraq. The short version: We’re being lied to, yet again. The surge isn’t working. The situation is FUBAR. No one has a clue. I was struck by this paragraph:

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

That’s my emphasis, by the way. To save the village, we must destroy it, in other words. Saving ourselves, eh, that’s another matter. It’s times like these that I think the Rose Garden doesn’t need a wedding, it needs a hanging. Several hangings.

How depressing. Sorry about that. How about a Simpsons avatar instead?

It’s amazingly accurate, everyone who knows me will attest. Get your own.

Posted at 12:27 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

22 responses to “Mem-reeeeez.”

  1. John said on August 20, 2007 at 6:49 am

    It’s definitely the eyes that clinches it. The mouth/teeth/lipstick is good too!

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  2. Colleen said on August 20, 2007 at 7:20 am

    “Behind plexiglass…..who the hell ARE you people”….that’s EXACTLY it! How I feel so often as I observe the community around me. Just a great big sense of “whaaaaa?!?!” And of course it leads to the question….do you stay and contribute, or do you try to find some place else where you’ll fit in better. I’m still deciding.

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  3. brian stouder said on August 20, 2007 at 7:56 am

    It reminds me of 2003, when the signs in Fort Wayne said PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS and the ones in Ann Arbor commanded NO BLOOD FOR OIL and others advertised ANOTHER FAMILY FOR PEACE. Ann Arbor was a photo-negative version of Fort Wayne, I told people at the time; I’m sure it still is.

    I believe I understand your point; and it seems you give away too much with the photo-negative metaphor. Afterall, what is specifically opposite ‘pray for our troops’?

    The metaphorical contrast I’d have tried for would be between head-in-the-clouds support, and head-in-the-game support; or hard-headed Jack Murtha-style thinking.

    But then again – and as my wife often says of me – what the hell do I know?!!

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  4. nancy said on August 20, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Having been there, as you well recall, Brian, the mood in the Fort wasn’t just “pray for our troops,” but “don’t you dare say anything bad about the commander-in-chief, either.” The PFOT signs were given away by the county GOP; I’m sure if they’d chosen a more aggressive message, that would have been all over, too.

    P.S. My favorite of these signs is one I saw in Grosse Pointe, written in the imperative: SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH AND OUR TROOPS. Um, nothin’ doin’.

    The more I look at that avatar, the more I feel like I’m looking in a mirror. Creepy.

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  5. brian stouder said on August 20, 2007 at 8:31 am


    It is exactly this sort of blurry argument – about ‘support the troops’ (but really ‘support President Bush’) – that made Karl Rove (et al) a very rich little man.

    Didja see him on Meet The Press this weekend? Remarkable stuff, really

    (PS – the Simpson BK thing looks very neat; my bet is that your daughter and you hit the drive-through and got clued into this. See how much we’ll all miss out on, when the young folks grow up? Anyway – I will have to try that tonight.)

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  6. Vince said on August 20, 2007 at 9:07 am

    A new crop of bumper stickers and yard signs have sprouted in just the last week here in left coast Portland: “Support our Troops By Holding Our Leaders Accountable.”

    It’s wordy, but sure gets the point across.

    LOVE your avatar. That’s just dead on! Now I want to see Spriggy ala the Simpsons!

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  7. brian stouder said on August 20, 2007 at 9:44 am

    LA Mary Alert!!

    Leona Helmsley (aka ‘not a little person’), RIP

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  8. LA mary said on August 20, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Oooh, thanks, Brian. She has looked somewhat embalmed for a long time.

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  9. Peter said on August 20, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Long Live the Queen of Mean.

    Sadly, her over the top arrogance has been left in the dust by our Commader in Chief, but she did set the bar high.

    My favorite story about her was that she swam laps in the hotel pool in the nude, and a waiter wearing a tux stood at one end of the pool with a tray of shrimp and cocktail sauce. When she did a lap, she would announce “Feed the Fishy!” which was his cue to pop a shrimp in her mouth.

    I wanted to host a party where I would do the tux and shrimp tray and my friends could ask me to feed the fishy, but the bastards at the Y and the Park District didn’t share my sense of humor. So we just had the party in the back yard with a kiddie pool with ice and beer in it. Just wasn’t the same.

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  10. nancy said on August 20, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Well, my favorite Leona story was about how when she and Harry bought a building — I think it was the Central Building — and wanted to change the name. So they chose the stunning new moniker “General,” so that they’d only have to buy a few new letters.

    There’s something about a cheap rich person that’s alternately amusing and insufferable.

    Feed the fishy!

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  11. Robert Rouse said on August 20, 2007 at 11:12 am

    As someone who still resides in Fort Wayne, I can attest that things have changed – a tiny bit. On the first Saturday of every month we hold a peace rally on the Allen County Courthouse Green and we usually have a large enough contingent to stretch fingertip to fingertip from Main Street to Berry along Clinton.

    A couple of years ago we started getting counter-protesters on the opposite side of the street. At first only a couple, but they grew all the way to seven or eight staunch pro-war demonstrators every month. They tried letters to the editor and even went on TV, but their numbers never increased.

    This past month they gave up demonstrating across from us.

    I think what this says, more than anything else, is that some people are actually too ashamed to publicly show their support for Bush’s misguided attempt at nation building.


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  12. Danny said on August 20, 2007 at 11:47 am

    …we usually have a large enough contingent to stretch fingertip to fingertip from Main Street to Berry along Clinton.

    I though Bill Clinton slimmed down after his heart problems. It should only take two people to stretch around him fingertip to fingertip.

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  13. Robert Rouse said on August 20, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Danny. LOL

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  14. brian stouder said on August 20, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Another non-sequitur, and a tragedy…and I confess, I’m still laughing over this

    BELGRADE, Serbia (Reuters) — A 23-year old Serb was found dead and half-eaten in the bear cage of Belgrade Zoo at the weekend during the annual beer festival.

    The man was found naked, with his clothes lying intact inside the cage. Two adult bears, Masha and Misha, had dragged the body to their feeding corner and reacted angrily when keepers tried to recover it. “There’s a good chance he was drunk or drugged. Only an idiot would jump into the bear cage,” zoo director Vuk Bojovic told Reuters. Local media reported that police found several mobile phones inside the cage, as well as bricks, stones

    “annual beer festival”.

    Well, the cell phones should lead to some mournful, hung-over friends – who should be charged with trespassing, and illegally feeding the bears

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  15. 4dbirds said on August 20, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve only seen pictures of you but your Simpsonized self looks remarkedly like your photos. I Simpsonized my daughter but it didn’t come as close as your did.

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  16. THS said on August 20, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    In addition to the many other aspects of the Iraq war that keep me in a more or less permanent state of outrage is the idea that the issue there involves the US “winning” or “losing”. The “enemies” there are enemies of the Iraqi government, such as it is. Killing Americans is something opponents of the government do because (1) they are in the way and (2) they are, at least officially, there to support the creation of an “independent” government and capable security forces.

    We could, I suppose, think of the enemies of that government as our enemies, but not because they pose a threat to us.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on August 20, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    Colleen, please don’t desert us–we few who are blue in the red state have to keep up the good fight!

    We saw a great bumper sticker in Bloomington, home of the greatest concentration of liberals in Indiana. It said–Support our Troops, bring them home.

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  18. Jolene said on August 20, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Whoops! That comment by THS was me. I use those initials as my signature on some of the other blogs that I read, especially those where there’s a non-zero probability that a dissenting opinion could result in threats to my life.

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  19. Danny said on August 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Well, now that Jolene has fessed up, someone fetch the hacksaw.

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  20. alex said on August 20, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Amazing. Anti-war sentiment is actually percolating up faster in the Fort than awareness of hair and glasses, which usually are one to two decades behind the curve. Then, again, as with hair and glasses, there’s a resolute core of about 75% who say you’re going to have to bring about change over their dead bodies. Which I’m sure leaves the funeral directors in a quandary. Do we make them look au courant or just plain old hyperlipidemic in a housedress and ’70s aviators as opposed to ’90s aviators?

    It’s only marginally safer to say you oppose the war at this point. No one will deck you or burn your house down or drive up over the curb to mow your ass into the ground; they’ll just freeze you out and ignore you as if you were the one “REEtard” or “kellered” in the whole room.

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  21. Dorothy said on August 21, 2007 at 7:49 am

    I got mine!

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  22. brian stouder said on August 21, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Very nice, Dorothy!

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