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all the rage
open letters to war opportunists
by joe procopio (@jproco)

I'll level with you. Lately, all I do is rage.

I must have sat down to bang out my April column, which ultimately had to be a war column, a dozen times during the month of March. And each time, what began as clever, insightful, and witty wound up as an incensed mashing of keys devolving into unintelligible gibberish and made up swear words.

I was angry. Livid. Pissed off. Check out these "before" attempts for yourself:


all news is good news?
how the media is dropping the bomb on war coverage
by joe procopio

I know. You can't stop watching the 24-hour war coverage. Neither can I. We've got eyes right there at the front lines and we get to hear, see, and smell it all. Now, if only they would make up their minds as to WHAT THE HELL IS NEWS AND WHAT IS SPECULATION! I MEAN, JEEZ, WHILE YOU'RE REPORTING ON A ONE-DAY 40-POINT SWING IN OPINION POLLS ON WHEN AMERICANS THINK THE WAR WILL END, WHY DON'T YOU ACTUALLY GLUE TOGETHER SOME JOURNALISTIC SKILLS AND ASK YOURSELVES IF YOU'RE A PART OF THE PROBLEM YOU HACK SONS OF... GAH! I MEAN, IF THEY JUST HSD :LOHSD JKH KJSDH


don't forget to tip your flight attendents!
why the airlines should go broke
by joe procopio



f*ck france
by joe procopio

Never mind.


You can see the hot water, and me all ready to dive in headfirst at the shallow end. So instead, I decided to roll back a little, turn off the TV, take a few walks outside, and ultimately use the podium to construct instead of destruct.

Oh, plus Maker's Mark.

To that end, I decided to filter through and find the common denominator to all these thorns in my side. It seems the thing which I've hated the most about all this conflict is when something posing as good, honest, even altruistic, reveals itself as ugly, greedy, and self-aggrandizing. Think of it as the moral equivalent of "jumping the shark," as it was called before the phrase, ironically... did itself.

Once I realized this, it became much easier for me to address the war without looking for something to smack. So with a newfound momentum and a little more mixer, I sat down to write a series of open letters which will, ultimately, bring the unblinking eye of revelation to a great many instances of phoniness, and, in itself, do more good than harm.

Or maybe not. At least I'll get the war column out without having a stroke.


Dear Martha Burk,

Yeah. Okay. Shut up now.

You had the golf equivalent of a putt-for-eagle going. Especially when the KKK decided to cozy up to Hootie and his pals (the headlines of that event, by the way, sent Darius Rucker into hiding, which would have been awesome, but we just can't bring ourselves to get rid of him that way). You had the public and the press on your side. Kudos.

But making a connection between Augusta's discriminatory policies and our female troops fighting in Iraq was just ignorant. It's the second time you've tried to connect the war and the Masters, and everyone just sort of brushed that first attempt - demanding the Masters be cancelled due to the war - under the rug.

Now it's obvious. You're in this for self, for the media attention and whatever that is going to buy you down the road - a book deal, a handful of walk-ons at Oxygen award shows, whatever. The truth is, whether you find it ugly or not, what the women in the military fight for is Augusta's right to do exactly what they're doing. Discrimination can only be defeated with the swaying of minds.

Martha Burk 1, Women's Rights 0. Thanks for playing. The silver lining is, if you step out now and let the momentum of what should have been your message carry on, those minds may still be swayed.


Dear Jacques,

Jacques. Jacques, Jacques. It was all fine and good, a little irritating maybe, but seemingly all for the right reasons. That is until you and Vlad decided to start holding up humanitarian aid efforts, including debating whether or not aid be distributed through Saddam's regime, since he is still in power.

Yeah, we know you want to be a part of the rebuilding. Yeah, we know it's sort of your thing to be all... French at times like these. But we also know that the companies with the most vested interest in Iraqi oil, once the UN lifted sanctions, were your Elf Aquitaine, Russia's Lukoil, and China's National Petroleum. Germany has been awfully quiet of late.

Your cheese is starting to stink. Back up now and keep your mouth shut unless you're talking about the swift and efficient distribution of aid and what you can do to help.

And don't surrender. It's totally unnecessary this time.


Dear Hippies,

First of all, the Chapel Hill Local 506 sends its peace and love, and they hope Sunbeam is getting over that rash.

Now, we can hear you spinning in your hemp hammocks at what passes for intelligent non-violent protest these days. Throwing rocks at female National Guard troops, macing the cops (although the irony there is too good - it's okay to chuckle at that), jumping off bridges, and snarling traffic - it just doesn't seem like anyone learned anything.

All I can tell you is this. I've seen a couple of the protests myself and, through it all, there are still plenty of frisbees, pot-legalization placards, and nude-people-who-shouldn't-be-nude left to go around. The chuckleheads are an abberation.


Dear Michael Moore,

Way to put a zero on the end of your next budget. I suppose it's all good, as it was kind of expected of you. Not to say that maybe that's why you won the award in the first place, and maybe you know that, so maybe the not-really-funny, not-really-provocative speech you made was sort of payback.

Not to say.

Man, that would be one hell of a conspiracy.

Wait! That's it! Michael Moore's Michael Moore and Me.


Dear Dick Cheney,

I don't care if there was no one else technically up to the task. I don't care if you're no longer associated with the company. Before awarding the contract to put those oil fires out, you could have at least changed the name to "Shmaliburton." At least at that point it looks like you're trying.


There. That was the last one I got out before the language got all blue and homemade again. I'm going to take the weekend to unplug my television and maybe do a little work around the yard. But before I totally tune out, let me just say Godspeed to all of our troops, and that no matter where we come down on the issues, or where we come down on those who come down, we're 100% behind you and what you're fighting for.


Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio


drowning in their sorrows
how the media is bleeding new orleans
by joe procopio
topic: news
published: 10.3.05

apology not accepted
which part of jihad do we not understand?
by joe procopio
topic: news
published: 3.1.02


tracey kelley
4.1.03 @ 8:26a

Spot on, brother.


adam kraemer
4.1.03 @ 9:55a

Elf Aquitaine doesn't exist anymore. It's Total Fina Elf. Soon to just be renamed Total.

I'm paid to know these things.


russ carr
4.1.03 @ 10:18a

They should just call it "Total Elf."

joe procopio
4.1.03 @ 10:57a

Thanks Trace! Yeah, Vondrook. It's a reference.

Apparently, the deal was, once the sanctions were lifted, those three companies would have had pennies-on-the-dollar oil deals with Saddam directly. I knew about the name change, but the press is still using EA when discussing these deals, and I didn't want to blur the issue.

heather millen
4.1.03 @ 11:46a

Joe is taking on the hippies?! I love this guy more and more each day.

erik myers
4.1.03 @ 12:05p

This coming from a hippie?

You've got confused priorities, girl.

matt morin
4.1.03 @ 12:09p

Oooh no. Heather's about as anti-hippie as it gets. She even considers a lot of non-hippies, hippies.

heather millen
4.1.03 @ 12:30p

Hippie?! Erik, don't you dare call me a hippie ever again... those goddam tree-huggin' LKSJL OIJS DH...

It's contagious, Joe!

sarah ficke
4.1.03 @ 12:39p

Isn't it fun to see her brain explode?


erik myers
4.1.03 @ 1:03p

Yeah.. it makes me smile.

matt morin
4.1.03 @ 1:09p

So here's a question: What kind of shit is going to hit the international fan when, after all this, the U.S. doesn't find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

douglas jones
4.1.03 @ 1:13p

This is a real wake-up call for all Americans. We think we have been
"reacting" to these acts of terrorism, but we have not seemed very intent on stopping it until now. We must put a stop to these radical terrorists who are brainwashed into being willing to make life of no value as their way of getting to "heaven."
America WAKE UP!

That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 and maybe
it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!"

In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep since then.

It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a
religious and political upheaval, when a group of Iranian students
attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on this sovereign US embassy set the stage for the events to follow for the next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Viet Nam experience
and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then President
Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism. America's military had been decimated, downsized and right sized since the end of the Viet Nam ‘war.’ A poorly trained, poorly equipped, and poorly organized military was
called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran, experience Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens that were living and working abroad. The attacks against our US soil continued.

In April of 1983, a large vehicle packed with high explosives drove into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it exploded, it killed 63 people. The alarm went off again, and America hit the snooze button once more.

Then just six short months later a large truck heavily laden down with
over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut. 241 US servicemen are killed in the blast. America mourned her dead, and hit the snooze button once more.

Two months later, in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives was driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait, and America continued to slumber.

The following year, in September 1984, another van drove into the gates of the US Embassy in Beirut and exploded, and America slept on.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe. During April 1985, a bomb explodes in a restaurant frequented by US soldiers in Madrid. Then in August a
Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven

joe procopio
4.1.03 @ 1:20p

Yeah! Come on, Doug. Give me more! I'm so ticked off my melon's gonna explode like an M-80 stuffed in a... melon. Hell yeah!

No, seriously, this is great. Of course, it's a column in itself.

matt morin
4.1.03 @ 1:22p

Point taken Doug. But please tell me one verifiable thing Saddam has done directly to Americans?

There will always be attacks on people based on their beliefs. Are we "hitting the snooze button" on people like Timothy McVeigh? Are we on drug lords and gangs in America who kill far more innocent people each year than terrorism does?

Just because we've been attacked over the decades by Middle Eastern people doesn't give us the right to attack a country with zero provocation.

heather millen
4.1.03 @ 1:24p

Yeah, go Douglas! And I'd personally LOVE to see a column on this!

In reference to Matt's question, I don't think that's going to occur. All signs point to the fact that Saddam DOES have weapons of mass destruction. What about all of the biological warfare gear that they've found since they've been in Iraq? A goverment that hides chemical warfare suits and gasmasks in hospitals seem to be hiding something more, don't ya think?

And I don't believe the Bush Administration made this decision to go to war on some half-witted information. I think Douglas has a point that the threat has always been there. Maybe it's time to do something about it.


matt morin
4.1.03 @ 1:29p

Yes, but the threat isn't from one specific group. When Bin Laden attacked us, I was all for going over there and blowing the shit out of him. Has Saddam or Iraq done anything specific to us? Nope.

We're saying, "Hey, we've been bitten by a dog before, so eventhough your dog has a) never done anything to us specifically and b) is too far away to pose an immediat serious threat...we're going to shoot your dog anyway.

sarah ficke
4.1.03 @ 1:31p

But is this war the right way to go about getting rid of the terrorist threat? Suicide bombings and terrorist attacks are kinds of guerilla warfare that don't necessarily need the backing of a country's government. They are motivated by hatred of our presence and our actions. Overthrowing a government like Saddam's may cut off some of their funding and safe space, but it will not solve that problem. It may, actually, increase it.


erik myers
4.1.03 @ 1:34p

I agree with you, Matt. People seem to forget that we are currently an invading force. We're not acting in self-defense because nothing has been done to us by Saddam and Iraq. A pre-emtpive strike, in domestic terms, is murder.

I mean.. I agree.. the guy's a bastard, but I don't think that America has the right to go bully around in other countries just because we think we might someday be affronted.

matt morin
4.1.03 @ 1:34p


God, that was said well.

(I meant Sarah, but Erik, you too.)


heather millen
4.1.03 @ 1:35p

Is too far away to pose an immediate and serious threat?

Yeah, that's what everyone thought while they were getting their croissant and coffee the morning of September 11th. The United States is not untouchable. But it is strong enough to combat threats... on our home soil and abroad.

erik myers
4.1.03 @ 1:39p

So because we're as vulnerable as everybody else we're gonna go out and kill a bunch of people?

Violence begets violence. By resorting to violence to resolve an issue we're inviting further violence upon ourselves. It's that simple.

heather millen
4.1.03 @ 1:45p

You don't have to invite violence for it to be a viable threat. One of the worst atrocities in history was Hitler's regime and what exactly did jewish people and the like to do invite that terror upon them? Or Saddam killing thousands of his own people for that matter?

Anyone who has the means and desire to inflict violence upon another will do so. They go hand and hand. And if a regime is constructing the means, what would lead you to believe they have no intention of using that means?

Phew. Okay, now I think my brain really is about to explode.


erik myers
4.1.03 @ 1:48p

Anyone who has the means and desire to inflict violence upon another will do so. They go hand and hand. And if a regime is constructing the means, what would lead you to believe they have no intention of using that means?

That's a good question. The U.S. has been doing just that for the past 60 years. What makes us so different?

joe procopio
4.1.03 @ 1:57p

Heh. You need a complete lack of moral compass to truly pose that question, Erik. I know you're playing devil's advocate, but we're going after the regime, not the people. And we have every right to do so. A country can not limit its defense only to retribution for attack. 9/11 brought this idea, not new now and certainly not new then, back to the forefront. Also, remember, this conflict is an extension of the Gulf War, a refusal to live up to its treaty, and continued threats to our people here and abroad.

That being said, my pose here is on opportunists, those who are striving to make a name, a buck, or precipitate a shift in power due to the war. I don't think I threw up anything that most people would argue with, although I find the Martha Burk example especially maddening.

erik myers
4.1.03 @ 2:04p

I know you're playing devil's advocate, but we're going after the regime, not the people.

Yep. Fine. And I support that.

I don't support the killing of innocents, or even soliders. I find it hard to believe that there weren't a thousand other choices we could have made that didn't lead to having to kill people that have nothing to do with the conflict at hand.

That said, I DO completely agree with your column: There's a time and a place for everything. You can't use your star power to make a statement that's outside of your sphere of influence.

I think the only one I might argue on your list is Michael Moore, simply because he's made a career of pissing people off in situations where it weren't quite merited. I mean.. that's what he does.

Was anybody surprised when he stepped out at the Oscars?


heather millen
4.1.03 @ 2:05p

Thanks, Joe. Well put! I was off trying to avoid an anuerysm.

Also, I think Joe did a great job in this column of touching on the issues revolving around the war without getting into the firey debate for or against the war. Which, as we're proving here, can become lengthy, laborious and impossible to decipher which side is "right."

erik myers
4.1.03 @ 2:06p

Side note: There is no "right" side -- that's the problem.

matt morin
4.1.03 @ 2:09p

While I think Moore's speech was lame, I don't think it was out of place. I mean, his movie was all about violence in America.

heather millen
4.1.03 @ 2:11p

Side note: There is no "right" side -- that's the problem

Hence, my use of quotes. Some people, unfortunately, are ignorant enough to think there is a right or wrong. I acknowledge there are different viewpoints and respect others. Even if ya did get me all worked up here at the office, Erik!


erik myers
4.1.03 @ 2:44p

I try to get people worked up whenever I can, Heather.


mike julianelle
4.1.03 @ 4:50p

Michael Moore. Somebody's got to be an outspoken asshole sometimes, I am glad he did what he did.

Martha Burk sucks shit and undermined her own anti-discrimination campaign by being insensitive and ignorant. Did anyone else see when Tyrone Lue of the Washington Wizards was asked about the war and he compared it to his team's attempt to make the playoffs? Sickening.

Noone wants innocents to die. But war is war, shit happens.

robert melos
4.1.03 @ 6:23p

Noone wants innocents to die. But war is war, shit happens.

In war there are no innocents. If you look at things from Saddam Hussein's perspective, he's the victim, and American troops are the outside influence. If you look at it from Osama Bin Laden's perspective, everyone who died on 9/11 deserved it becasue they didn't worship the way he did/does.

In the long run war isn't the right answer, but for now it seems to be the only answer anyone will listen to. Now that we've started a war, we'd damned well better finish it with America coming out on top, because I really don't feel like rearranging my life to suit a new world order. (I know, selfish of me. However, most people do look at everything from a selfish angle first. They just don't flaunt it the way I do.)

Joe, Great column.

michael driscoll
4.1.03 @ 9:51p

Erik wrote "rowr" and that makes me giggle.

jack bradley
4.2.03 @ 7:49a

Michael Driscoll: never afraid to weigh in on the tough topics...

mike julianelle
4.2.03 @ 11:07a

Doug Jones: are you passing that post off as original thought? Because I got a chain email that has it word for word.

matt morin
4.2.03 @ 11:10a


joe procopio
4.2.03 @ 11:15a

He's not (I hope). Thus my reference to it being its own column - which it was. I've been trying to figure out and/or google the original.

adam kraemer
4.3.03 @ 12:28p

Weeeevvve got plaaaagerisssm!

juli mccarthy
4.3.03 @ 12:46p

Oh dear.

I hope this proves not to be the case, and that he's merely repeating his OWN words that were posted elsewhere.

joe procopio
4.3.03 @ 1:19p


It ain't plagiarism because he's responding, not publishing. It doesn't bother me (especially since it was cut off - he might have credited at the end). Maybe I give people the benefit of the doubt too often, but this was no crime.

joe procopio
4.13.03 @ 12:44p

If you haven't read any of the recounts on Martha Burk's fiasco at Augusta, please do. They're funny and scary at the same time.

One down, four to go.

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