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Rapid Response 

A self-avowed sensitive guy gets tough on terrorism.

School nights at our house involve helping my son, Alexander, with his homework. Actually, I just have to ride herd so that his too-smart brain doesn't go off all over the place. After he gets done, showers and falls into bed, I turn to Darlene. She's always been tenacious about schoolwork. For as long as I can remember she has wanted to do it by herself, but I stay up with her until she's finished just in case she needs to ask me a question or two. Sometimes she'll just leave her book(s) out with the homework in it so I can check to see that she's done things right.

Early Tuesday morning I turned on the TV and picked up an engineering physics book in which she had left her work. She's studying 3-D forces and angular momentum. I opened the book, then looked up at the TV and saw an American jetliner crash into the World Trade Center. For some reason, I looked back down to the book and saw a phrase that is used in discussing rotational energy. It read: "Sense of moment ..." Irony sucks.

Throughout the day, I thought:

· With all that money that George W. Bush proposed for a missile defense system that is not needed and will not work, we should take some of it and rebuild the World Trade Center at record pace. Give tax breaks to the people who build it and to the companies that locate their offices there.

· Then take the rest of the money and hire some decent spies. Maybe Israel will rent us some of theirs. Obviously, the people we have working at the CIA just want to wear nice suits and attend embassy parties. Either that or they want to look like 20-something skateboarders who crack arcane computer codes. We need people on the ground who will learn things and act upon them, as opposed to hearing things and then passing the information along to be analyzed.

· They closed the Tucson Mall, for crying out loud! Yeah, the three main targets were the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Tucson Freakin' Mall! You just know that somewhere in the world some idiot with rotten teeth and a body that smells like goat flatulence is laughing his butt off at that one.

· Why doesn't the Pentagon have missile defenses? How in the world can somebody fly a plane directly into the command center of the U.S. military? The World Trade Center is one thing, but the Pentagon shouldn't be a sitting duck.

· If I hear one Washington pansy use the term "measured response," I swear to God I'm joining a militia. I remember I hated the episode of The West Wing where the president's doctor got shot down and killed in the Middle East and the Pentagon persuaded Martin Sheen that the appropriate response would be to bomb a radar installation.

Screw all that. While I sincerely wish that there could be solid, lasting peace in the Middle East, I've always appreciated the way Israel takes care of business. For better or worse, with them, it's many eyes for an eye, many teeth for a tooth. They're surrounded by enemies and they absolutely need to go undefeated in all wars. They can't go 19-1.

· At the same time, I saw the Palestinians dancing in the street and I felt no anger. I felt sorry for them. They've been taking ass-whuppins for generations and I have no doubt that they see Israel as a big bully who is protected by an even bigger bully. It's really rather pathetic and I hope they realize that this certainly isn't going to do anything to break the unending cycle of violence.

· Realizing that these things are all carefully planned out, I still can't help but feel that President Bush sissied out by going to Nebraska! Am I alone in this? Maybe it's my ghetto upbringing, but I swear that if I were president (yeah, that's likely), I'd go back to Washington and stand in front of the White House saying, "I'm here. Come get me. Y'all messed with the wrong people."

And if they killed me, the next guy should go stand out on Pennsylvania Avenue and say the exact same thing. People have to know that we're not scared.

· I sincerely hope that there isn't a ridiculous backlash against Arabs living in this country. It was so embarrassing when we went through that racist nonsense during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980, and doubly so when you consider that Iranians aren't even Arabs. They're Persians.

· I've always been a peaceful person. Despite all the mess I talk, I've never even been in a fistfight in my life. (I've been shot, but that's different.) I didn't like Vietnam and I didn't get all gushy over Desert Storm. And I've spent the last couple decades being the Ultra-Sensitive Guy. Stay-at-home father, PTO member, dishwasher, dinner cooker, doer of laundry. But even an Ultra-Sensitive Guy is, in the end, a Guy.

The Guy in me says that this has to be dealt with, and not through diplomatic means. Without jumping to conclusions, let's assume that it was Osama bin Laden and he's being protected by the Taliban. Well, you've got 12 hours to turn his punk ass over or Afghanistan becomes a parking lot. We'll pick him up at the border. And 12 hours doesn't mean 13. And we want all his homies, too.

Maybe it wasn't him. Maybe it was the Colombian cartel or the South Molluccans or the Quebec separatists. Doesn't really matter. Either we get those responsible right now or a whole lot of parking spaces are going to be opening up. And despite what they tell you, it really is that simple.

Darlene came home in the afternoon and got to work on her assignments. She had to write a paper and I told her that I'd help her with the physics stuff at night. The homework is on tangential acceleration and several of the problems involve the physics of collapsing buildings.

It's just not right.

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