ROFL: Random Outbursts From Lar!


You’re Welcome, Iraq!

I hate to use a cliché, but something is really stuck in my craw. I didn't even know I had a craw, but something is definitely jammed up in there. The feeling reminds me of... maybe I better not say.

What's my problem? It's Thomas Friedman's New York Times article "It's Up to Iraqis Now. Good Luck." (Link.) The article was published months ago as I write this. Let that illustrate the severity of my craw constipation.

The piece articulates Friedman's belief that democracy in Iraq is starting to bloom and his hope that the lives lost in the still-ongoing fighting were worth the sacrifice. Tangent: If it's really up to the Iraqis, why hasn't the USA left yet? The article is the written equivalent of President G. W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo, which has passed its seven year anniversary. Still no WMD. That was the mission, wasn't it? At this point, who can remember? Those goalposts are more well-traveled than Tiger Woods' penis.

BTW, did you know that "a concise mild sophism" is an anagram for "Mission Accomplished"? Hidden meanings, indeed! Thanks, Anagram Maker!

Anyway, I don't want to pick on Friedman. He's spot-on when he writes about the need for renewable energy. This particular article, though, is a perfect example of the long-range bravado that accompanies a lot of American thought, a phenom I sometimes call faux badassery.

Let's consider a faux badass favorite, the motto of New Hampshire: "Live free or die!"

Sounds brave, but what about in reality? If someone held a gun to a person's head and ordered them to pay taxes, they'd say, no thanks, I'd rather die. If someone took away their right to choose between Pepsi and Coke, they'd rather die? If a surreal terrorist threatened to clog their throat with gumballs unless they declared pink your favorite color, and pink wasn't their favorite, they'd rather die? The faux badass says, "Hell yes! Freedom or death!"

I'm skeptical.

Faux badasses claim to accept this mythical binary trade-off of life for freedom. Notice however, someone else is always doing the trading. Do you think an Iraqi who lost a loved one due to seven plus years of violence thinks, "Well, I miss my children, but at least now I can vote for animal catcher"? Would you?

Don't get me wrong. Democracy is good for managing large groups of humans and maximizing their societal pleasure. It's a cornerstone of civilization, important and even beautiful. Whose breast doesn't swell with pride at the five minutes or so spent in the local VFW voting for people who you don't know for offices you never heard of?

But would you trade that ritual for one of the people you love? Someone who is with you every day? Who gives your life meaning? Or would you be okay with an unelected douche bag monarch ruling your nation, or higher taxes, if it meant you and your loved ones could live?

I feel like I'm blaspheming. Am I really an American challenging the idea of democracy being worth death? I'm just not convinced an abstract idea is worth dying for. If I was an Iraqi at this point, I wouldn't give a crap about who was ruling, just as long as the bombs stopped. No spin by Thomas Friedman could convince me otherwise.

You might even be a faux badass if right now you're getting the urge to paraphrase Ben Franklin: "Those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither." Sounds great! So profound! So very brave! But words come easy, that doesn't mean they're worthwhile when exposed to experience.

For example, that guy from Nantucket? He isn't really that well endowed, but suppose he was. In the abstract, it sounds awesome. In concrete reality? Buying pants must be a total bitch.

Larry Nocella writes The Semi-True Adventures of Lar blog at He's the author of the novel Where Did This Come From? The world's first CarbonFree(R) novel according to The book is available on as a paperback and Kindle eBook. It is also available for other eBook readers.