Monday, September 11, 2006

California Check

I used to call it a "California Check." I would turn on the TV in the morning, just to make sure nothing big had happened, like there was a big earthquake over night, and California had fallen off into the Pacific. I didn't do one five years ago for some reason. The wife was out of town. I remember specifically thinking that I'd just leave the TV off, get the baby ready to go across the street to the lady who was caring for her at the time, then mosey on to work.

The sports talk radio guys were talking about the attack. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I turned around and went home. I sat glued to the TV. Finally I went to work about 11. We didn't have cable. We watched the towers fall in grainy broadcast mode.

I was working at a live theatre in South Florida. We had New York actors in for that particular show. People were panicked on the phone. Nobody could work. We all went home early.

I sat with a seven month old watching it all unfold. I looked at her and wondered what kind of world she was going to live in.

It got really weird after 9/11. It was revealed that nine or ten of the terrorists lived in the same town as me, Delray Beach. There were satellite trucks all over town, including at an apartment one of them lived in less than a mile from my work. We had a largely Jewish customer base, and the fact that the terrorists lived right by us made us feel that we could be a legitimate target of an attack. Kill a theatre full of Jews from New York. What a statement. It was very unsettling.

Then the Anthrax came. A friend who had shared the office with me at the theatre for years had left to go work at the National Enquirer where someone was killed by anthrax. Around that time, I threw a pile of mail on the coffee table, and noticed that there was some white powder on the envelopes. I stared at it in disbelief. Since the anthrax attack had been local, and affected one of my friends, I was genuinely worried for a moment. Then I thought if it is anthrax, it was too late for me and my family, so there was no need to panic, I just needed to think about it for a minute. I retraced the steps of the stack of mail. It turned out to be the source of many false alarms at that time, baby formula powder.

So here we are, five years later. Looking back, we had a guy from Saudi Arabia take a bunch of other guys from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan and train them and fund them so they could hi-jack planes and us them as weapons against us. The day we launched our attacks on Afghanistan, I was in a restaurant with my kid, eating lunch and getting ready to watch football. The attack was announced and most in the room cheered. I didn't cheer, but I saw the necessity of the attack.

Then the talk about Iraq started. Like I said, we had a guy from Saudi Arabia take a bunch of other guys from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan and train them and fund them so they could hi-jack planes and us them as weapons against us. So we attack Iraq? It didn't add up. The blowhards in Congress and the Senate puffed up their chests in support, because to not support it was unpatriotic. The news reported that an attack on Iraq had widespread support in America.

Well, I don't know who they were polling, but it wasn't me or my friends. I run with a crowd of intelligent, well-educated, well-employed people who actually take the time to vote. We were all puzzled by this turn of events. I said over and over, if we are going to attack soveriegn countries because they have an evil dictator that we don't like, that is fine, just call it what it is. And why start with Iraq? We have a perfectly good sovereign country with an evil dictator ninety miles south of Key West. Why not start there? Or why not go alphabetically? Or in order of GNP? Why Iraq?

Well, once we went in, I was really hoping that we would find WMD and a thriving nuclear program and vats of anthrax and scuds full of African Killer Bees just so we wouldn't have made a huge, costly, deadly mistake.

Nope. The worst happened. We made a huge, costly, deadly mistake. Now we are in a quagmire. If this isn't a quagmire, I don't know what is. I remember Viet Nam. I never thought it would happen again. But here we are.

I'm not smart enough to have a solution for getting out. I don't think the guys in charge do either. I sometimes question the whole President as Commander in Chief thing.
If a guy runs for President promising to cut taxes and wins, is it always a good idea to let him have the keys to the Pentagon? Apparently not.

Well, something is going to have to happen over there. And I'll probably hear about it on the morning news, because I check it every morning. It used to be a "California Check." Now it's a "Terror Check."

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