This past Memorial Day, when our thoughts turned to heroes and events of the past, I thought I might as well indulge in an additional escape from the present by thinking about the future.
By this I of course mean: What punishment for all these horrors, abuses, thefts, and lies will befit President George W. Bush and his High Command of liars and cronies?
Naturally, like you, I immediately think: Chain each of them to a rock and have a falcon peck out their livers once a day, every day, forever. Is it a falcon? The bird that tormented Prometheus? No, wait, it was an eagle. Can we get an eagle? Are they still protected? Would hiring an eagle to peck at the liver of Donald Rumsfeld every day constitute an abuse of an endangered species? (I mean the bird. The Rumsfelds of the world are never endangered, alas.) Anyway, we get an eagle, or maybe a vulture, and teach it what it has to know about the human liver, and give those bastards a good taste of ornitho-renalectomitic justice.
Yes, I know: dream on. Plus, Prometheus did mankind a favor, so any comparison between him and those in the Bush Crime Organization is an insult to a damn good Greek demi-god, or quasi-Titan, or whatever he was.
I found myself in the vengeance-wreaking vein on this past beautiful--in L.A., at least--Memorial Day thanks to the spasm of horrific news from Haditha, Baghdad, and now (sigh) Kabul. All this death and misery; all this destruction and theft; all this ineptitude, corruption, and arrogance; all these suffering innocents; and, of course, the fake "contrition," the predictable naughty-schoolboy smirk, and the endless lies...
Are we having fun yet? No, because how can we have fun when these criminals will almost surely get away with it? This is how I assume George W. Bush will have to pay for the calamities he has unleashed: He will vamp out the rest of his term as hundreds more die or become hobbled, disfigured, and mad, and American society attempts to deal with thousands of returning Iraq vets bringing their rage, terror, addictions, and resentment home to a world of broken marriages, waking nightmares, VA cuts, and confusion as to what was accomplished--and all against the background noise of Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter assuring them that, after eight years of conservative-led disaster, it's liberals who "hate America."
Once out of office, Bush will enter a cushy retirement of drinking, wenching (his marriage will be for display purposes only), golfing, and giving canned speeches (not written by him) to slavish audiences of admiring imbeciles at business and institutional events all over the world, for 100 K a pop, until he keels over on the sixth green at Pebble Beach, his dying thought being that "it's not fair" that he should have to suffer the heart attack that finally puts us out of his misery.
Call me old-fashioned, but I find this scenario morally unsatisfying.
No amount of punishment or suffering on the part of Bush and his gang can possibly atone for what he and they have already done, of course, but still: Does that mean they all get to have good retirements, Medals of Freedom, million-dollar contracts for books (not written by them), and all the rights and perquisites appertaining thereto, including health insurance?
Hence this open appeal for suggestions: What punishment(s) would be suitable for the Liar-in-Chief and all his henchmen, enablers, and shills? Please be tasteful, thoughtful, and practical in your reply. Much as we may wish to, we probably can't afford, e.g., to handcuff Bush and Cheney together and shoot them into outer space. Well, wait a minute. Yes we can. Satellites are sent up into orbit practically every day. And it's not as though we have to worry about assuring and paying for our passengers' comfort. Okay, that's one idea.
I will admit that part of me rebels against this. Part of me agrees with the traditional Christian precept of "hate the sin but not the sinner." It tells the rest of me that I should be above visiting cruelty on others regardless of the cruelty for which they are responsible.
I respect that part of me; in fact, it's probably the best part of me. But I've told it to shut up. Because, while I may hate the sin, in this case--sue me, I'm not a Christian--I also hate the sinners. And anyway, this isn't "cruelty." It's justice.
Or is it? Maybe it's only revenge. What, when it comes to crimes of this magnitude against people, law, and the very idea of truth, is the difference? Is retribution "revenge" when enacted by an individual but "justice" when enacted by society? (Memo to Dick Wolf: Am available to write any extant form of Law and Order.) Then let's call up society, get it on the phone, and ask it to come up with some just rewards for these horrible, horrible people.
My sister suggests tar-and-feathering--a fine idea, combining as it does a certain amount of physical pain and, as its images circulate online forever, an infinite amount of humiliation. We could use the leftover tar to pave roads in New Orleans and the surplus feathers to make pillows for the orphans. Plus it's cheap.
Alternately, my wife prefers more poetically apt forms of punishment. It is her suggestion that Dick Cheney--who travels with his own personal HAZMAT suit and whose undisclosed locations are legend--be informed that, in fact, evildoers are closing in, and then whisked (no one is ever merely "taken;" they are always "whisked") to an underground bunker somewhere with minimal facilities and supplies, and then simply left to rot in secure, anonymous secrecy, forever waiting for the "all clear" that never comes. Yes, it is tempting.
My wife likens this sort of fate to something out of Dante; I don't have the heart to tell her it's just as much out of Rod Serling (let alone the Gilbert and Sullivan of The Mikado). But isn't it fun regardless? You bet it is. In fact let's do another--an easy one, for my own convenience:
Alberto Gonzales shall be taken forthwith to a place of detainment, yes, but not just any place of detainment. Say it silently to yourself as I write it out loud: to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There, surrounded by picturesque fields of sugar cane and mobs of seething political prisoners, he will be introduced into the general population. In fact, he will be introduced to the general population, one by one, by name, the better to make new friends for the duration of his stay. When he inquires as to when he will be told of the charges against him, and when he will be permitted to confer with counsel, he will be taken to a small interrogation cell, where he will be slapped smartly in the face with a two-day-old bonefish, barracuda, or some other local species, and then told, "Soon." Forever.
Too cruel? Too soft? Too easy? It's a start. No doubt many out there in the "snarkosphere" have better ideas. Let's hear 'em!