3-18-03, 7:33 PM -

The slush of busy washing machines fills my head, blending with the lingering echo of La Cucaracha, as performed on piano all through dinner by a young nephew of our downstairs landlord. I know it's an old traditional song, but because of my honky childhood, it has become a trigger for cartoon sombreros to begin dancing across my brain. I might as well sing "Kill the wabbit..."

Just got finished with four of the most gorgeous days you ever saw, courtesy of Elderly Man Winter shoving off to the southern hemisphere and giving us a break, for the love of Pete. It's been a heck of a winter, Blizzard of Aught-Three and all, and I'm glad to have experienced it. But the welcome's been worn out, and ain't no one letting him know there's pie.

Opened the mailbox Saturday (okay, opened the door and tripped on our pile of mail), and what should greet my eyes but an invitation to be included as a distinguished member of Who's Who In America.

I remember well my inductions into the vaunted Who's Who In American High Schools and the even MORE exclusive Who's Who In American Colleges, which largely involves paying a sizeable fiduciary sum to receive a copy of this ostentatiously-bound volume containing 5 million students I would never, ever want to meet.

But now...to send this piece of shit offer to me when I'm 29? Do there exist adults who will pay $50 to see their name listed in a vinyl-bound list of other people who paid $50 to see THEIR names in an Encyclopedia of the Already-Washed-Up? Is this the government's brilliant scheme to get the names & addresses of all the stupid people in the country so they can finally round them up and ship the whole lot to Antarctica? If so, I've really been underestimating that John Ashcroft. I'll bet it was Jeb's idea.

I guess I can't steer clear of the debacle that now faces the world as our troops prepare to march into Iraq. You know, after listening very intently to commentators and experts and specialists on both sides for well over six months, and I do mean a LOT of them, I find myself perched precariously atop a rusty fence, fearing that those calling to me from either side conceal knives beneath their holy robes. Is the threat to me from one really greater than the threat from the other?

I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that I feel a pang of guilt at being somewhat relieved that a choice, any choice, has been made and that we can at least have a chance of seeing who's closer to correct in this hellish morass.

Last night, Frontline ran a video of the assembly that Saddam Hussein called in 1979 upon ascending to power. Stone-faced, he began reading a list of "traitors" who sat in the astonished audience. Those called were escorted out of the building and never seen again. Men cried, the animal fear evident in their eyes as the roll call went on. At last, Hussein finished this litany of the damned, and walked out.

This man, I know, is not fit to rule the lives of millions, even hundreds, even one. He is not fit to live anywhere that is not a prison. He is not fit to live at all.

But is one nation fit to determine who will rule the countries of the world? It has certainly been tried before. History has much to say about empires. And invariably, what it says is that empires rise, attempt to control the world, and then fall. How can one nation bring peace to such a diverse world?

Last night, as I watched one of the least inspiring Presidents in history lay out his vision for order in the world's most volatile and complex region, a region that has baffled far greater statesmen, century after century, I could not help but curl up into a ball and attempt to fight off a very real sense of dread. The naive, Sunday School simplicity of George W. Bush's worldview came through his beady eyes as starkly as ever, and it made me physically sick.

Ever since November of 2000, I have felt as if my country has been stolen from me. And I feel that it will be broken by the time I get it back. It's like watching a bully tear the head off of a cherished teddy bear, seeing him smirk without remorse as he shows the disembodied head to his rotten toadies before handing it back to you, mangled and wrong.

It is within the realm of possibility that this war was inevitable. But I can't shake the feeling that our present leaders are not the right ones to prosecute it. And to be quite honest, I think it is likely that a sizeable majority of those worried citizens that I have marched with over the past months have far more objection to the instrument than to the procedure. For once, I find myself understanding the French.

Sometimes I look down from Sunset Park on the incredible city that exists on these islands, and I wonder how long it will be the center of the civilized world. To some that may sound a tad hyperbolic, but to me, seeing the modern remains of Baghdad on the television every night makes it a very real question.

I have decided to comfort myself with the knowledge that soon, a very evil man will be removed from power. Regardless of what else happens, someone somewhere will benefit from that. As for the rest of us, who knows? Perhaps we'll learn from history, perhaps not.

And perhaps I need to get some sleep.

Mixing this weekend, getting closer to the magnum opus releasus. Let's hope. Someone's got to depose Uncle Kracker.



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