Could I respectfully request that we agree to a moratorium on declaring war on anything other than another country amassing armed troops on our border? We're coming up on the seasons when everybody across the political spectrum can use the war trope to demonize a philosophical enemy, and the prospect is utterly depressing.
The holiday season is almost upon us, and conservatives will use the occasion to revive their annual whine about "war on Christmas," as if Christ will be taken out into the parking lot and mugged by Santa, who will then be banished to the shopping mall on the edge of town. And the presidential election season would be just around the corner if it hadn't become a permanent part of the landscape, so get ready for more pathetic "war on women" rhetoric from liberals, as if Republicans didn't have wives, daughters, sisters and mothers,
While we're at it, we can end a couple of long-running wars, and that can be a bipartisan effort, too.
Liberals can give up the "war on poverty," which has wasted trillions of dollars while poverty has gotten worse. Perversely, the war has created a permanent underclass that doesn't seek to get out from under dependence on government. In a dynamic economy, poverty is omnipresent but not static. People move in and out of it. It's time to try something different.
Conservatives can give up the "war on drugs," which has wasted trillions of dollars while drug abuse has continued unabated. Worse, a vicious criminal class has been created even worse than the one spawned by Prohibition. Some people have always sought escape from reality, and they always will. It's absurd to criminalize some methods of doing that but not others. It's time to try something different.
Along the way, we can give up most of our other wars, including but not limited to, the ones against crime (thank you, J. Edgar), gangs, obesity, illiteracy and the Constitution. Some metaphoric wars can be won because they are against a specific evil the progress against which can be measured. Goodbye polio and smallpox and maybe, one day, cancer. But when it's a war against a concept, such as drugs or poverty, we are trying to simplify something that is complex and difficult to solve. There is never an end point, no way we can say when there is a victory. It just goes on and on, with government spending growing, the dependence on experts expanding, our sense that as individuals we have control over our own destinies diminishing.
President Bush made some smart moves and some dumb ones after 9/11 and we can debate those all day long. His worst decision, I think, was to make our response a "war on terror." Terror is not an enemy. It is a tactic of our enemies. Enemies can be defeated. Tactics are fluid and will be changed as they are challenged. A real war has a goal — an advancing army to be defeated, a border to be defended, an enemy to be be vanquished. We will know when victory can be declared and peace can be resumed. A "war" against something as amorphous as terror can go on as long as the ones who declared it want it to. So everybody from babies in carriages to grandmothers in wheelchairs will be harassed and humiliated at airport checkout lines while our de facto open borders policy lets terrorists from Syria flow across our southern border.
It's time to try something different.
Give peace a chance. All I'm saying.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS
Aww, man. The Rib Room has closed. Never again to have a rib basket with fries and a shrimp cocktail? Inconceivable. Once upon a time, that was my regular Friday night hangout. Sam, the cook/owner, would sometimes come out, and we'd talk politics and science and art and stuff before convening the weekly meeting of the Northeast Indiana chapter of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. In truth I haven't been there in a couple of years, but that didn't matter because I could go whenever I wanted to because, you know, it would be there forever. Alas, no.
Finally succumbing to mounting restrictions imposed by lawmakers, the last gun shop in San Francisco is closing. Guess the criminals will all go somewhere else now, and San Franciscans can feel safe and secure.
Burning question of the day: Is the Kasich mini-surge over? In other news, there was a Kasich mini-surge.
Beef is not what's for dinner anymore. As the price of beef has soared, Americans are increasingly turning to cheaper pork and chicken. Where I grew up, everybody had pigs and chickens, so that's what we ate. Beef was a rare treat, so naturally it became my favorite. Now I'm going back to pork and chicken more often, just for variety's sake. Great timing.
California has become the fifth state to pass a right-to-die law, which is a strange thing to call it. Death isn't a right; it's an inevitability. The law isn't as bad as it could have been. It requires certification by two doctors that someone has less than six months or less left to live and that person must be physically capable of self-administering the lethal medication.
Edward Snowden says he is willing to go to prison just to come back to the United States. Sounds like a really good deal to me. Take him up on it.
So, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam has been achieved, or will be if Congress approves it. We don't know the details yet so all those people either cheering for it or denouncing it should maybe wait a bit. Promoting trade is generally a good idea, so until I learn otherwise, I choose to be optimistic about the TPP.
Pope Francis is becoming the master of the mixed message. In opening a meeting on family issues Sunday, he said marriage is indeed forever, "an indissoluble bond between a man and a woman," but that the church must seek out hurting couples without judgment because marriages do fail, the church is a mother, and a mother "doesn't point fingers or judge her children." My first reaction was: Huh?
Finally, the geniuses who run the education system have figured out a way to screw up even recess. Two elementary schools in Minnesota have hired a "recess consultant" who will make recess more structured so it will be "more inclusive." The games and activities, like four square and jumping rope, are overseen by adults and designed to reduce disciplinary problems while ensuring that no children are left out. Phrases like "Hey, you're out!" will be replaced with (not kidding here) "good job" or "nice try."
WORD OF THE DAY
etiolated (EE-tee-uh-lay-ted) — (of a plant) pale and drawn out due to a lack of light; having lost vigor or substance; feeble, as in: "Your etiolated philosophy of big government is no longer defensible." Also see effete, which most people mistakenly though meant something like effeminate when Spiro Agnew talked about "effete liberal snobs."