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Dead Leaves


J. D. Pendry


The sun shines brightly in a clear blue sky.  The air is fresh following the night’s rainstorm.  The temperature is unusually warm for this time of year.  A slight breeze is swirling, occasionally picking up enough force to dislodge leaves from the large oak trees nearby the house allowing them to flutter to the ground.  Somewhere in the neighborhood, a dog barks.  The squirrels are frolicking, digging in the flowerbeds in search of the acorn they can never seem to find before their curiosity moves them along to another investigation.  The snowbirds are chirping.  There is the lonesome, muffled sound of a train whistle in the distance  -a coal hauler.  The scene from my back porch is quite peaceful.  It lulls me into a twilight state that’s somewhere between meditative and contemplative.  Times like these produce the back porch philosophy that enables me to deal with the world’s problems or at the minimum determine if my woodpile is sufficient for the approaching winter or figure out why people come to wild wonderful to look at our dead leaves.

I’ve been thinking about the Fonda-ites.  The peace protestors that are already out suggesting to us that there must be a peaceful way of dealing bin Laden and his buds.  You know, let an international court handle it.  I suppose they’re not aware that when the same culprits bombed our embassies we handed evidence over to the Taliban implicating bin Laden.  We asked them to turn him over for trial.  The problem with that is that bin Laden may be able to hand over the Taliban, but not the other way around.  Bin Laden and his thugs have hijacked a country.  The Fonda-ites can’t see what their approach has already netted us.  Seventeen dead sailors aboard the USS Cole and nearly 7 thousand others in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon followed up by Anthrax in our mailboxes.  I listened to an interview of a woman.  She said that she was protesting because if this turns into a war, her son may have to go.  I wish no ones son to war, and I have one in the Army, but we can’t defend against terrorism by waiting for it to come to us and hoping we can detect it.  We’ve seen how well that works. Our only defense is to seek it out and destroy it where it is.  Somebody’s sons and daughters have to do this.  I’ve read several good articles on the subject, one was written by David Horowitz, An Open Letter to the "Anti-War" Demonstrators: Think Twice Before You Bring The War Home in Front Page Magazine.  If you haven’t read the article, it might be enlightening to you if you’re leaning toward a peace protest of your own.  By the way, Horowitz was quite a peace protestor himself during Vietnam.  Another thought was sent to me by e-mail, and I apologize that I can’t remember the author, but here is basically what he said.  Only in America could these peace protestors enjoy the protection of armed policeman while exercising their freedoms.  Frankly, I am happy to pay the taxes that pay the soldiers who fight for their freedom.  In most any other country, the policemen and soldiers would be shooting them.  A person must have something for which he is willing to fight.  If it’s not to bring mass murderers to justice or for the privilege of living in the most free country on earth – then what?  Bring the peace advocates to ground zero in New York City.  Allow them to protest all they want, after they’ve pulled a tour of duty removing body parts from the rubble.

Why are we having such troubles with the Middle East in the first place?  One word, oil.  We are so dependent on the oil from that region to power our SUVs, that we are held hostage.  The Saudis, who we went to protect from Saadam, won’t even cut off bin Laden’s access to Saudi Arabian money. If there is not enough reason for us to develop our own energy sources now so that we can wean ourselves from Middle Eastern oil then there’ll never be one.  Our reliance on oil produced in that region, produced the millionaires that now support bin Laden.  We need to explore every possibility for oil that we own and every alternative fuel source.  Who is in charge of the Middle Eastern countries wouldn’t matter to us if we didn’t need their oil – and they know it.  We have enough coal, with clean burning technology, in wild wonderful to provide electrical energy to every state in the union for a long time to come. Environmentalists will just have to get over it. 


The debate about civil liberties is already beginning to heat up.  Those opposed to any change in the law that might make it easier for us to keep track of “citizens” and monitor their activities are becoming vocal about it.  The fact that 19 men entered our country, some of them illegally and were able to train, plan and carry out the murder of nearly 7,000 people is not as important as protecting their civil liberties was.  When the poem at the Statue of Liberty (which happens to be closed until further notice) says Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free… I don’t believe it meant terrorists.  How can any law that’s passed now even come close to taking away the freedoms already taken by terrorists?  On 911, we were jolted from our American utopia into a real world reality.  Our choices are to give up some of our personal freedoms and privacy, or prepare for more of the same.


Homeland defense is something that sounds strange here in utopia.  I suppose the need for it’s proven now.  Still, there are libertarians out there who are saying this smells like a national police force.  To them, I say what are the FBI, DEA, Federal Marshals and ATF?  National police forces maybe?  We’ve had them all along, problem is they trip over one another or don’t share information.  Every state and city has some sort of civil defense plan.  Every state has National Guard units.  We need someone capable of pulling all of that together, but we also need an active military command with the mission of homeland defense because the FBI doesn’t have fighter aircraft and tanks.  Maybe that’s a job for the National Guard.  We’ve certainly spent enough time defending other countries.


Are we doing the right thing with our retaliatory efforts?  Let me answer that with a tale from my past.  When I was in grade school, which is what we call elementary school over here in wild wonderful, there was a bully in my 4th grade class.  His name was Grant.  If you look up bully in the dictionary, you’ll likely find Grant’s picture as the illustration.  Pudgy, crew cut and a head taller than any other fourth grader.  He was a head taller, because he should have been a sixth grader.  But, in those days in wild wonderful if you were too stupid to pass 4th grade, you didn’t.  Grant singled out one student in our class named Joey.  Joey was actually smaller than your average fourth grader.  Grant would push him down, take the best parts of his lunch or do some such to him almost daily.  In other words, he was terrorizing Joey.  Joey never fought back and Grant just kept getting a little worse each time.  It was around Valentine day, and we had all been working on one to take home to mom.  Joey was good at this kind of stuff, so he had a nice one made up.  He had worked on it every day to get it perfect before taking it home.  At the end of the day, as we were going out to the bus Grant slapped Joey’s valentine from his hand then ground it into the mud with his shoe.  In those days, we wore brogans to school.  Brogs are leather shoes with thick and heavy leather soles.  Joey turned a shade of bright red, trembled a little then kicked Grant in the shin with all the power he could muster.  It was enough to cause some pain and to cause Grant to bend over.  When he bent over, Joey leaped around his neck and wrestled him to the ground.  Joey got him in a headlock that would have made Hulk Hogan proud.  Grant was gasping, flailing and changing colors while Joey’s grip was getting tighter.  Grant was nearing a nice shade of purple and balling worse than a stood up bride when the teachers separated them.  Grant didn’t pick on Joey anymore; in fact, he hardly picked on anyone any more.


Bin Laden stepped on our valentine.  We’ve kicked him with our brogs a few times now we need to get a tight grip around his neck.  We are the biggest kid on the playground, and we are the teacher.  We have to continue our chokehold until he and his organization stops wiggling.  Then we must follow the blood trails back to bin Laden’s government sponsors.  If I lived in Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq or Sudan I’d be concerned.