been a strange two weeks since I wrote a column. I skipped last
Monday's installment because my girlfriend, O., was due to return
the preceding Friday after spending the summer abroad with family.
(She's a legal resident, Mr. Ashcroft, and from a coalition
country, no less). After arriving in New York that afternoon,
she was to hop a quick flight to New Orleans. But the most populous
segment of the world's most powerful country happened to be
without power at the time, so no planes were leaving JFK.
almost none. When O. called collect in tears around 5:00 PM,
already 20 hours into the trip from her provincial home, she
mentioned that a few flights were departing for passengers with
no luggage. This puzzled me why would they get priority? until
I remembered that X-ray machines don't run on batteries. Oh,
yeah, national security. Say, how's
that War on Terror going?
frustration mounted during the evening news. Very little useful
info, plenty of autoerotic backslapping: Manhattanites had made
it a whole day sans electricity without resorting to cannibalism,
proof that America (especially its enlightened Northeast) is
a civilization unsurpassed. Then there was George W. Bush, who
has already spent more of our money on Iraq than was needed
to "modernize the power grid," crowing
that he's been warning of such a failure for years. My mood
lightened only when, after some D.C. lifer blamed the outage
on Canada, Toronto's
feisty mayor chirped, "Tell me, have you ever seen
the United States take the blame for anything?" Y'all N'Yawkers
ought to consider swapping commissar
Bloomberg for this guy.
by late evening, O.'s earliest departure was estimated to be
the following Wednesday. Wednesday! Every thought of Bush, Cheney,
and their corporate-welfare energy pals was drawing me closer
to the Dershowitz
view of torture. (Artistic license, Mr. Ashcroft, artistic
of which is to say, in an inversion
of the old Sixties ethos, that the political is personal.
What our rulers speak of in abstract terms is better-known to
us as our lives. Thus, as my petty inconvenience dragged on,
as 50 million Americans caught a faint whiff of life
in Iraq, the most intriguing war story that week was an
of vandalism in a Baghdad slum. A U.S. Army helicopter crew,
oblivious to the local Moral Majority, removed a Shi'ite flag
from a tower. The offended thousands stormed the streets, leading
to a death and several injuries in what had been a calm neighborhood.
Shouldn't our "pragmatic" warriors have seen this
coming? Maybe they did. The only undisputed purpose this war
has left is to advertise our power to do whatever we damn well
needn't wonder any longer why this administration watches
paintball enthusiasts so closely the game encompasses
the entire Bush philosophy of war and diplomacy. Shoot all the
guys on the other team, capture their fort, pull down their
flag and run yours up the pole: that's victory, and victory
is everything. Hey, they have the best weapons deficits can
buy; if only they had the sophistry to match! Condi,
honey, ya gotta give us a break with the "We Shall Overcome"
shtick. Even Al
Sharpton knows that bit is played, and no one trusts
him with anything deadlier than a butter knife. We Americans
haven't had to endure the violence and humiliation that the
Iraqis have suffered, but at least the Iraqis have their pride.
What pride can we possibly retain after years of being scammed
by imbeciles? When will our long national blackout end?
for that other blackout, my story has a happier conclusion than
is likely to come in Iraq. After "only" 24 hours delay,
O. made it back. I felt as content as a malcontent can, ignoring
the grim big picture in favor of my bright tiny vista. When
I got home, my spirits were high. Then I checked the mail. Lying
atop the standard pile of Saturday junk was a dumb bomb straight
from Bush 2004. No
postal error, either; it was addressed to me, with "Dear
Mr. Barganier" for a salutation. "Your early support
with a contribution would be a strong vote of confidence in
my leadership," it read, "and would help get my campaign
off to a good start." Then I felt even better.
who told us they knew Saddam had nukes, the same whizzes who
now aim to micromanage the planet, thought that I
would be a good bet to send them money. Isn't laughter wonderful?