April 1, 2003 edition

Kamikaze Iraqi taxi hacks offer killer rides;
greed is alive and well in major league baseball; and
anti-war protesters do have a sense of humor.

all’s fair in love and war

A story in the March 29 issue of the New York Times got me chuckling. Though the subject matter was serious, the title and parts of the story were, well … just funny, in a peculiar kind of way. The event that prompted the story was the suicidal taxi driver that took out four U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint north of Najaf, Iraq. The title was “Bombing May Signal the Future Use of Guerrilla Tactics” written by Steven Lee Myers.

Now I’m willing to cut Myers some slack for that title, as the story’s by-line said “WITH THE THIRD INFANTRY, Central Iraq.” He’s apparently one of those embedded journalists right in the thick of it and has probably been losing some sleep. If the Third Infantry has taken any enemy gunfire, he has probably soiled himself a few times, too, so Myers is probably a little off his journalist game.

In the news story, the Civil affairs officer for the First Brigade, a Captain Andrew J. Valles was quoted as saying “I don’t know what motivated this guy to kill himself.”

Oh really, Captain? And just what don’t you understand about being willing to risk life and limb for your country? You are in the military, aren’t you? Over the past 20 years, you have been following the news from the Middle East, haven’t you? And by the way, did you know that some guys hijacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon a little while ago? Ever hear of Kamikaze and Pearl Harbor?

Valles went on to say “It’s terrorism - - a man in a civilian vehicle killing himself at a checkpoint.”

Yes, dear Captain. It’s terrorism. You got that right. But before you start pointing an accusatory finger at all things Islamic, wave the stars and stripes around and sing God Bless America, let’s take a look at a few definitions:

terror – state or instance of extreme fear; violent dread; terribleness; a state of intense fear caused by the systematic use of violent means by a party or faction to maintain itself in power.

terrorism – act of terrorizing, or state of being terrorized; specif., a mode of governing, or of opposing government, by intimidation.

terrorist – One who favors or practices terrorism.

terrorize – To impress with terror; to coerce by intimidation.

I think it’s fair to assume that the residents of Baghdad have been terrorized by recent airs strikes on their city by coalition forces. That would make members of the attacking coalition forces terrorists. Get it, Captain?

Couldn’t it be said that the United States government terrorizes its citizens each year around April 15th with its very own IRS and their intimidating methods of collecting tax dollars? Aren’t “sting operations” that are frequently conducted by law enforcement agencies actually guerrilla tactics? Aren’t FBI and CIA deep cover operatives utilizing guerrilla tactics? And excuse me, but isn’t the use of desert camouflage a guerrilla tactic? I think so, because my dictionary lists camouflage as “any disguise or deceptive expedient.”

To get back on track, it appears, to at least to this observer, that things have come full circle. In the 18th century, colonialists used tricks learned from Native Americans in fighting the Queen’s Army for independence from England. Two hundred years later, Navy Seals and Green Berets trained in guerrilla tactics fought the North Vietnamese. Yet in 2003, the American military is crying “FOUL!” and pointing fingers at Iraqis that utilize guerrilla tactics.

To me, any U.S. military type bemoaning Iraqis using guerrilla tactics is a perfect example of the old saying “look whose calling the kettle black.”

Until warfare is fought toe to toe with contestants fighting in hand-to-hand combat, sans the luxury of ships, airplanes, tanks, guns, knives, missiles, submarines, RADAR, night vision, lasers, radio, satellites and GPS, there will be no such thing as “fair”, Geneva Convention or not.

Think about it. This suicide attack on American troops is nothing other than a modern day equivalent to the Trojan Horse; the only real difference being that the enemy in Iraq was going to blow himself up instead of engaging his enemy in battle.

As this is being written, I have yet to see Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld address this incident, but I can just imagine how he would comment on it. Rumsfeld has been getting a tad testy in recent days, growing more and more agitated with the press.

Would you care for some cheese with that whine, Donald?

There’s a lot of talk these days about sending American troops in harm’s way, mostly from (p)Resident Dubya, who was reported to be AWOL from the Air National Guard for 18-months of his hitch in the military. Ole Dubya attempts to wax eloquently when American soldiers die in combat, saying how they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Yet when an Iraqi voluntarily lays his life down for Islam and Iraq during warfare, it’s called an act of terrorism.

excess in America

I’ve never had a lot of money. About the most rich I’ve ever been has allowed me to call myself a multi-thousandaire. This is due to a lot of reasons, most of which can be attributed to the fact that I don’t believe happiness is gauged by the amount of monetary or material wealth one accumulates, and therefore am not motivated by money.

With that said, it’s no surprise I’m so repulsed by something I heard yesterday. I was watching a Red Sox baseball game on the television and the sportscaster mentioned that some player’s contract for the year 2003 was for 14-million dollars.

That’s right, 14-million dollars to play baseball for a year.

Save your calculator batteries, folks. I’ve done the math and it comes to a hefty $269,230.76 per week! Even being tossed into the highest tax bracket, the take home pay for grossing nearly $270,000 a week has got to be pretty comfortable.

Now before all the rabid, jock sniffing ”sports fans” jump all over me with the usual (and inadequate) arguments about how a good player only has 10 or 15 years he can play pro ball, how grueling the league schedules are, being on the road and being uprooted for spring training in Florida, I not-so-politely reply “BOO-phreaking-HOO!”

I’m sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a single human being on the face of this planet worth a quarter of a million dollars a week. I don’t care if it’s a player who could throw 9-innings of 150 MPH pitches, game after game after game, or a batter that hits home runs every time he steps up to the plate. $269,230.76 a week is simply profane.

It’s no wonder why a lot of foreigners are repulsed by what they consider American greed and excess. Had I not heard that particular snippet of sports commentator chit chat, I would have continued watching the game. There’s a certain bliss in ignorance, I guess. But now I just can’t stomach sitting down to watch these prima Donna boys of summer. I work too hard for my money and they work too little for theirs.

The professional baseball season is going to go on quite well without my support. Besides this screed, I fully intend to maintain my status as a guy who has never stepped foot in a professional major league baseball stadium. I don’t think I’m missing much. Besides, there will be plenty of sandlot games across America. I’m sure to pass one in my travels this year.

And if so, I just might stop at the nearest convenience store and buy a case of ice cold soda for those real baseball players.

sign – sign – everywhere a sign

The third view in this week’s edition of Trifocal Rearview Mirror is going to be a bit of a diversion from the regular format, in that I haven’t picked a news story to tear apart and devour for this section. With that in mind, please consider this humorous alternative to the usual fare.

Here is a collection of what anti-war protesters had displayed on placards at the January 18, 2003, peace march on Washington, DC. Of ironic note, considering the political climate in the United Nations these days, this list is from a friend who received it from someone in France, of all places. Though not fresh-off-the-press news, I hope the following list will at least lift the spirits of readers in these serious days we find ourselves in. Enjoy!

  • Drunken frat boy drives country into ditch.

  • Frodo has failed, Bush has the ring.

  • War begins with 'Dubya'.

  • Bush is proof that empty warheads can be dangerous.

  • Stop the Bushit.

  • Who would Jesus bomb?

  • Sacrifice SUV's, not children.

  • Let's bomb Texas, they have oil too.

  • How did our oil get under their sand?

  • Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

  • A picture of Bush saying: "Why should I care what the American people think? They didn't vote for me."

  • Daddy, can I start the war now?

  • 1000 points of light and one dim bulb.

  • No George, I said Mac Attack.

  • Look, I'll pay more for gas!

  • Preemptive impeachment.

  • It's the stupid economy.

  • Draft dodgers shouldn't start wars.

  • War is sweet to those who haven't tasted it (Erasmus).

  • Different Bush, same shit.

  • Just war = just oil.

  • You don't have to like Bush to love America.

  • Bushes are for pissing on.

  • Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld: the asses of evil.

  • $1 billion a day to kill people -- what a bargain.

  • Consume -- Consume -- Bomb -- Bomb -- Consume --Consume

  • It's time to trim the Bush.

  • Hey Pro-lifers! War kills innocent children.

  • Big brother isn't coming -- he's already here.

  • An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind (Gandhi).

  • Impeach the squatters.

  • Mainstream white guys for peace.

  • Empires fall.

  • Hans Blix -- look over here.

  • Let Exxon send their own troops.

  • Curious, George? -- get a clue.

  • Destroy Florida. [It could happen again]

  • There's a terrorist behind every Bush.

  • SUV owners roll over for terrorism.

  • We can't afford to rule the world.

  • War is so 20th century!

  • While you were watching the war, Bush was raping America.

  • 9-11-01: 15 Saudis, 0 Iraqis.

  • Don't waive your rights while waving your flag.

  • Drop Bush not bombs.

  • I asked for universal health care and all I got was this lousy stealth bomber.

  • War is not a family value.

  • A picture of Bush with a red-stained upper lip: Got blood?

  • A picture of Bush saying "Ask me about my lobotomy."

I’m wondering if it’s merely a coincidence or if there is any connection to there being 50 of these listed. Wouldn’t it be interesting if all 50 states were represented in this listing?

And for those of you out there whom are still pissed off at the French for not falling in goose step behind Fuhrer Dubya, rest easy – I haven’t forgotten you. Here are the two best shots at France that I’ve seen to date.

“Going into battle without the French is like going into battle without an accordion.”


“Going into battle without the French is like, uh ... well, it’s just like World War Two.”

Copyright © 2003 by Jeff Bauer
All rights reserved

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Text - Copyright © 2003 Jeff Bauer
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Revised - Friday, September 9, 2005