Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Muddy Waters

This won't be a fun column. Jesse Macbeth has got my panties in a knot this week.

[Above: Not that Macbeth...]

I just lied. I don't wear panties. But, if I did, they'd be in a knot. If I did, they'd be knotted ALL THE TIME.

[Right: ... this one.]

Jesse Macbeth's lie is bigger. Jesse claimed to be a veteran of the current Iraq War. He appeared in videos and wrote stories online claiming that he'd witnessed and participated in atrocities there. His stories were picked up by various organizations opposed to the war and they circulated them further, believing them to be true.

How aggravating is Jesse Macbeth's lie? Let's add it up.

One way that Jesse's lie is aggravating (as in "aggravated assault") is that the anti-war movement has been discredited by accepting his claims.

Good intentions don't justify mass killings. We don't need to catch our military in deliberate malicious acts of murder to know that their presence in Iraq has given rise to needless carnage. But it is human nature to want to simplify a moral picture by finding clear villains.

The villains aren't individual soldiers pulling triggers. The villains are the politicians who put them there knowing that war is sloppy and always kills more civilians than anybody else. The villains are the super-majority of the American people who went along with the patent lies, which were far more obvious than Jesse's, and allowed the politicians to get away with starting this war, claiming the people's support. The guilt belongs to a couple hundred million cowards, each of whom only needs to bear a tiny bit of guilt to add up to one monstrous wad of shared guilt.

All of that is meaningless to a people who are so utterly ignorant that they STILL think 15 Saudi nationals, two citizens of the United Arab Emirates, one Lebanese, and one Egyptian, constitutes 19 Iraqis. How do you explain to people that crushingly stupid that discovering Jesse's lie shouldn't deter the anti-war movement?

I'm reminded of events in connection with the '84-'85 Ethiopian famine. Con artists toured America posing as Ethiopians, complete with fake African accents, pretending to be personal witnesses to the suffering who had survived, and who were now in America to raise funds to help their less fortunate brethren. Instead, they raised funds to help themselves. Irrespectively, the famine went on, and roughly a million Ethiopians died.

Irrespectively of Macbeth, the Iraq War continues to be unjust.

Jesse's lie also adds aggravation to the fake vet phenomena. The VA knows there are thousands of American vets who are homeless. But every time someone turns out to be scamming the system, falsely claiming to be a vet, it discredits the thousands more who aren't faking it.

If fewer than 1 out of a hundred of the people claiming to be homeless vets turned out to be lying, that would be enough to convince almost every American that they all are lying, because almost every American is too lazy to learn the difference between 1 and 100, or between 1,000 and 100,000.

[Below left: Fictional representation of a simple moral picture.]

Jesse Macbeth has personally aggravated me. He claims to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Maybe he does. Just because he hasn't seen combat doesn't mean he can't have PTSD. I know this personally, because I have PTSD and I haven't seen combat. Only, I prefer not to call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I prefer to call it Post Traumatic Stress You Could Have Seen Coming, If You'd Been There And Experienced The Trauma Yourself.

When I have to tell people I have PTSYCHSC, IYBTAETTY, the question always comes back, "Oh, so you're a vet then." I'd love to be able to simplify the moral picture, and say yes, if it were true. It sucks having to say no, I'm not a vet, but I've got a story of repeated incestuous rape and vicious beatings that will put your lunch off.

Now, thanks to Jesse, I can expect the question to be, "Oh, so you're pretending to be a vet, then." Thanks loads, Jesse.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

I haven't said much about the Iraq War lately. I hate repeating myself and you can't not when you're talking about the repetitive.

But, holy cow, look what happened this morning. First, I beat my head on this keyboard, to bang a column out. Nothing came out of my head as usual (the head-banging trick almost never works) so I did what I always do next. I checked, to see if anything had happened overnight. And there was the story, just 39 minutes old, "Blackwater security firm banned from Iraq."

Just the day before, Blackwater contractors had been blamed for killing 8 civilians and wounding 14 in what was seen by many Iraqis as a scatter-shot response to small arms fire on a State Department motorcade.

You could say, "Insurgents shot at our State Department officials, and the Blackwater people were contracted to protect them, so what's the problem? When the insurgents stop shooting at us, Blackwater can stop shooting back." You could say that if you missed the fundamental issue involved, namely that whereas American military personnel are accountable for their actions in Iraq, to the military and ultimately to the American people, individual contractors are not. All we can do is cancel an entire contract, and that won't happen because the security companies have too many friends in the Bush Administration. Worse, our government has not permitted their puppet government in Iraq to hold military contractors to Iraqi justice. So without any investigation of the shooting having begun, everybody in Iraq had to know that the contractors involved would never pay a price, even if they had knowingly mowed down unarmed citizens in a deliberate massacre. It wouldn't matter.

Since I knew the puppet government in Iraq couldn't try these guys, it never occurred to me that they might get away with booting them out of the country altogether. It will be interesting to see if the order sticks.

I don't know about the rest of you, but this news gives me hope. I want to relish that hope. I want to savor every drop of it. Therefore I will indulge in fantasies, dreaming of the great news to come that may have just been heralded.

It might be that this is the first of many such bannings. Blackwater could be banned from Afghanistan. Then, countries where Blackwater isn't working now could ban Blackwater from working there in the future. Then, countries where Blackwater might never work anyway might ban Blackwater from passage through them. The result could be that Blackwater could be stuck operating entirely in the United States.

That done, the American people might wake up and come seriously face to face with the reality that the only remaining reason for Blackwater's continued existence is to wait in the wings until the scheduled roundup of undesirable Americans and facilitate their shuttling off to the concentration camps. And having witnessed the banning of Blackwater in the entire rest of the world, they might get the cajones to do it themselves, right here in the freedom-loving U.S. of A.

What's that? It can't happen? Americans won't get their rocks until the day comes they can tell Iraq from Afghanistan on a map? Hey, don't rain on my dream.

I'm not done. If the Iraqis, who don't even have a real government, can tell Blackwater to shove off, anything is possible. Americans could see straight to try the board and management for treason. They could elect a really good president.

The emerging testes could even affect us here in Seattle. Seattleites might realize they've been irresponsible to allow the MID Yellowjackets, unaccountable hired vigilantes, to force poor people to conform to the selfish greedy whims of the megacorporations that control the Downtown Seattle Association.

One more dream: Instead of peeing themselves every time they're asked for a quarter, and trying to put a stop to the practice, Seattleites could get the balls to just say no to panhandlers and keep walking.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We Have Overcome

Senator Larry Craig is still struggling to save his term as Senator from his decision to resign. He has promised to battle on against himself, vowing to remain in office the instant he's cleared of all charges.

I think the news reports focus too heavily on Larry Craig, the man, and not enough on Larry Craig, the symbol of America's emerging victory over wide-stanced toe-tappers.

Let's not forget, Larry Craig did his wide-stanced toe-tapping in a Minneapolis Airport bathroom stall. There were massive machines hurtling about! Someone could have been hurt! What if it wasn't a policeman in the next stall, but a potential terrorist waiting for just one more crazy American homosexual to ask him for sex before blowing up a plane? What if the terrorist had a shoe bomb armed to detonate on impact? Omigod, what if a pilot was in the next stall? A flight could have been delayed.

The story gives us hope that, through vigilance, and paying cops $30 an hour to sit on toilets, Americans can finally be free from having to verbally decline offers of gay sex. But we aren't stopping there! America's freedom is rolling on, all across this great land of ours!

In Miami last Friday, Black Enterprise Magazine held a Golf and Tennis Challenge and contracted comedian Eddie Griffin to do stand-up, only to have to hear him use the N-word over and over again. No American should have to hear a Black comedian use the N-word repeatedly, not even if the comedian is paid to do it and it's mainly what he's known for. And they won't have to! Thanks to the tireless efforts of Al Sharpton and the little people on the front lines like Earl Graves, publisher of the magazine, Black America is Free! -- Free at Last! -- from the oppressive derogatory language of one of its own people. And when Black America is free, the rest of us can be sure Our Day Too Will Come.

Freedom marched on after Jerry Lewis' thuggish behavior during his Labor Day weekend telethon for Muscular Dystrophy, when, 18 hours in, he named a piece of studio equipment "Jesse the Illiterate Faggot." Gay studio equipment all across this land rose up in outrage. Not right away, of course, because nobody was watching, but later, when the video was posted to YouTube. The uproar forced a contrite Lewis to apologize by email to someone. An unknown person or piece of studio equipment, who may or may not have been gay, who had been offended, was reportedly gladdened by Lewis' apology, but could not be reached for comment. The rest of us will sleep better at night next Labor Day weekend, free from the fear that Jerry Lewis might dare insult the illiterate again while we didn't care.

In a way, Jerry Lewis has done me a great service. By his bad example I now know that it would be unwise of me to use politically incorrect language while insulting anthropomorphized characters in this column. I will resist the temptation, for example, to call the periods within my quotations "retarded." I will instead call them "learning challenged."

Just before I sat down to write this, Freedom rang out again, when a beautiful blond woman in San Diego was kicked off a Southwest Airlines plane for being dressed like any young woman on any daytime soap opera, but with less cleavage showing.

America is strong. America is fighting back against oppression. No longer can office-holders tap my foot with impunity. No longer can Black comedians say the N-word, even when asked to. No longer can a worn-out Jewish comedian say "faggot" in the privacy of his own telethon. No longer must our children be subjected on our airlines to as much skin as they see on our billboards on the drive over.

And, soon, in Seattle, thanks to the Downtown Seattle Association, we may be free from having to hear our own poor people beg. Hooray for us, as we bathe in sweet Freedom.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It Could Be Worse

Here it is Friday August 31 and ordinarily I wouldn't be trying to write this for three more days, but the Labor Day Weekend is looming and our Editorial Manager "First Man" Adam wants to go to all three days of Bumbershoot and I'm the only thing preventing it, me and my stupid column that needs its stupid editing and its stupid layout, so what should I do?

It's times like this Muses were meant for. So I whimpered for Cindy.

Cindy came in, her hair now jet black with rows of curls cascading down the sides, parted on the left, a single clockwise curl planted over the forehead. She was wearing a white dress with ruffles and a spray of orchids above her right shoulder, and I said, "Where'd that getup get up from?" and she said, "You remember, you saw the Boswell Sisters on YouTube and it stirred your soul. Did you forget who your soul is?"

Cindy is my Muse and Anima Figure. That means she is an Archetypal Representation of my Soul. She wants me to think she IS my soul and I do, because she can turn me into a Clydesdale in my dreams and make me drag a beer truck uphill for a dream-eternity. Cindy is a Muse of Few Words, and the Muse of Other. Cindy is not her real name, and black is not her real hair color, except when she says it is. She is an SF, HWP, age-less immortal, she's a one-writer muse, she enjoys small furry animals, having surpassing wisdom and beauty, dance, mysteries, and puzzles, especially being one.

So I said to Cindy, "OK, nice orchids. I need help. I have to do an early column."

Cindy said, "It could be worse."

"What could be worse?"

"It." There was a long pause. Before I could rephrase my question, she said, "That's it. Write how it could be worse."

It could be worse. Let's say you're walking down the street and what you think is a homeless panhandler annoys you by begging you for a quarter in the hopes you'll give him more. Think you're having a bad day? You could be the panhandler.

Say you're sleeping in a homeless shelter in Vienna, and the kid sleeping next to you in your two-bed cubicle bludgeons you to death and eats your variety meats, and let's say that afterward psychiatrists express concern for the cannibal because he "suffers from extreme sadism." That's sounds pretty bad doesn't it? I bet you think nothing could ever be worse than that. But you'd be wrong! It could be worse! He could NOT have bludgeoned you to death!

It could be worse. Say you're fighting wars on two fronts your people think are close together because they're on the same side of the globe, but actually they're 700 miles apart separated by a third country that shoots when your guys try to cross it, inducing painful logistics problems. You could have troops on the ground in the middle country, too, and have so many logistics problems your planning Pentagon Brass won't ever be able to take breaks from their office chairs, resulting in a world-wide shortage of Preparation H.

It could be worse. It could be your country being invaded. It could be your house being routinely searched while you, your spouse, your children and your live-in grandparents cower on the floor being screamed at in a foreign language with M16s pointed at their heads.

It could be worse. Say bullets are costing too much. That's awkward when you're trying to shoot people. But suppose it went the other way? Suppose the price of bullets got so low that even the beggars in the streets could finally afford to shoot back.

It could be worse. Instead of $998,798 of our taxes paid out to ship two 19 cent washers, we could have got stuck with a bill for all the gay prostitutes our antigay Senators use. It could break the Treasury.