Tea Bag Tripwires

Discussions of National Missile Defense moved into my little town, and Leroy got involved.

The stories comtinued to grow relative to my comments, and I was getting to know the characters better.

From August 2001.

Well, the last time I told you about Andrew and Leroy they were watching CNN on their new satellite dish, but the payments lasted longer than Leroy's unemployment checks, so they lost it. That's why they had to go down to Bill-Fred's last week to watch the race on TV.

Bill-Fred's used to be called Bill's back when Bill Anderson owned it. He painted his name on the front and both sides, but he didn't bother with the back since only the Preacher and a couple of the Deacons come in thataway.

Bill had to give up the place for health reasons, after his wife said what she'd do to him if she caught him with another bar-maid, and Fred Wilson took it over. Fred was a bit short of cash and only repainted the front, so it looked like either Fred-Bill's or Bill-Fred's dependin' on which way you was comin'. Most folks call it Bill-Fred's since it seems to sound a little classier.

Anyway, the race ended with a bit of fender bangin', and the discussions got a little hostile among the fans. Things got a bit agricultural, with folks casting asparagus at the other side and makin' ad-hominy attacks.

Andrew got carried away arguin' with Chuck Bissell, and told him he oughta name his house Rogaine Estates.

Now Chuck does have a bit of a Lunar haircut; when he walks away from you it looks like the full moon is shinin' through the trees. But he's a bit sensitive about it, and didn't take it very well.

"Well", he said. "I'm glad you're so concerned about my house. But you know, I can see you and Leroy's sorry-ass trailer from my back porch, and I think you need a little paint touch-up!" And then he went on out.

Given the circumstances, Leroy and Andrew didn't think they were in for any free home maintenance. "He's gonna paint up our trailer!", said Leroy. "We gotta stop him!"

They hustled on back home and started building their Bissel defense system. They figured out where he'd walk from his house to theirs, and laid out beer cans tied together with strings to make noise. Then Leroy set up a tripwire tied to a bag of water balloons over the trail. Andrew tested it, but he dodged out of the way just after hittin' the wire and the balloons missed.

"Well", said Leroy, "That's OK. I'm sure Chuck will just stand there, he's so dumb!"

As it got dark, they decided to stay out in the back yard to watch the results. Naturally, they brought out a few beers to help pass the time. They woke up in the yard the next morning, and nothing seemed to have happened. The trailer looked just the same. Then they went around to the front and saw Leroy's truck.

It was pink. It was Serious Pink. It was HOT PINK. Even the windshield was painted pink, with just a heart shaped clear spot in front of the steering wheel. It was a gen-u-wine, full size Redneck Barbie Accessory Kit.

The boys were not happy. They called the Sheriff, and Deputy Jimmy came out to investigate. The boys wanted Chuck arrested, but Jimmy couldn't help.

"You boys don't have any evidence that Chuck did it. And besides, Leroy, I saw your truck last week and to tell you the truth, it don't look that much worse today. You ain't got a case!"

"Well", Leroy told Andrew after Deputy Jimmy left, "We may not have a case, but we definitely need one, or at least a 12 pack."

"OK", said Andrew, "But we ain't DRIVIN' to the 7-11, that's for sure." And they set off a walkin' down the road.

When I heard about all this, it somehow reminded me of some other things, so I went back to the house and ran a bunch of tea bags through the wringer. Here's what I came up with:

1. National Missile Defense is like those perfumes you see advertised on TV. It looks like a great idea until you actually go down to the Mall and find out how much the stuff costs. Then it makes a lot more sense to go home and call up Miss Bertha the local Avon Lady for the foo-foo juice, and use the change to buy your wife that new bowling ball.

2. The money for NMD will be spent in a few high tech areas and in Alaska. Money for Alaska has never been a big political winner, and lots of folks consider California a foreign country.

3. In contrast, every Air Force bomber, every Army division, and every Navy ship is equipped with a Mayor, City Council, and US Representative and Senator. When things get serious, the local third grade classes produce posters saying "Please Save Our Base; My Daddy Needs His Job".

4. Cutting back locally visible, economically important conventional forces to pay for a potential defense against an hypothetical weapon produced by an unknown enemy is just not going to sell.

5. NMD opponents can easily defuse criticism by simply funding "continuing research" at an affordable level, using a few billion dollars to stall.

6. In short, NMD is not going to happen in any realistic, significant way for the forseeable future. However, administrations from both parties will claim to be "working on it".