A Spring Day in Hell (2001)
The editors of my state newspaper must need Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion for their chapped
lips hands from all the pom-pom waving for BushCo lately. They sure show a lot of team spirit for someone who has no team.
Last week it was a weighty (as in ton of bricks) editorial entitled "Attaboy Mr. President" praising Our Leader for trusting his wrong-way gut over the homegrown evil empire of those who prefer "surrender" in Iraq. On Sunday, the editorial cartoon featured Nancy Pelosi leading a pack of dopey donkeys in planting a white flag -- in a pose mirroring the iconic Iwo Jima scenario -- on the Capitol dome. Get it? Advocating withdrawal obviously means you're a pro-surrender cheese-eater. Sorta like surge really means escalation, I guess. Or enhanced interrogation techniques are doublespeak for torture.
Anyway, today's front page lead story featured John McCain, wearing a sport shirt (and a podium microphone?) "strolling" around Maui -- er -- Iraq. The Headline: MCCAIN VISITS, SAYS CRACKDOWN WORKING. To be fair, the story did note that the congressional visitors "wore body armor," but, understand, it was just a precaution -- you know, probably like wearing a mouth guard while playing chess. McCain once boasted to gambling Bill Bennett that there are "neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today." And there, splayed out for the undiscerning, was St. John standing in what could have been a golf course in Pebble Beach.
Except it wasn't. Here's a shot of the stroll:
I bet these shades will cut the glare from those IEDs and debris from hovering chopper rotors.
[Photo seen on the new, improved Shakesville.]
And St. John wasn't exactly Sir Gawain either -- forging out alone on a hazardous quest. No, here's what my state newspaper / propaganda organ forgot to mention to the gentle readers of Arkansas. From Think Progress:
NBC’s Nightly News provided further details about McCain’s one-hour guided tour. He was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.”
Roll that beautiful full of beans footage:
I'm as snug as a bug in one of Lindsey Graham's rugs.
even Paris Hilton could ride a bicycle in a bikini through Anbar province.
But the sadder -- and more cutting -- reflections come from many Baghdad merchants themselves. From the New York Times:
“What are they talking about?” Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal!”
“They paralyzed the market when they came,” Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. “This was only for the media.”
He added, “This will not change anything.”
At a news conference shortly after their outing, Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican, and his three Congressional colleagues described Shorja as a safe, bustling place full of hopeful and warmly welcoming Iraqis — “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime,” offered Representative Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican who was a member of the delegation.
But the market that the congressmen said they saw is fundamentally different from the market Iraqis know.
Merchants and customers say that a campaign by insurgents to attack Baghdad’s markets has put many shop owners out of business and forced radical changes in the way people shop. Shorja, the city’s oldest and largest market, set in a sprawling labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, has been bombed at least a half-dozen times since last summer.
At least 61 people were killed and many more wounded in a three-pronged attack there on Feb. 12 involving two vehicle bombs and a roadside bomb.
Told about Mr. McCain’s assessment of the market, Abu Samer, a kitchenware and clothing wholesaler, scoffed: “He is just using this visit for publicity. He is just using it for himself. They’ll just take a photo of him at our market and they will just show it in the United States. He will win in America and we will have nothing.”
Perhaps Mr. Samer will actually soon have less than nothing, since McCain's visit could well make the market a more inviting target for insurgents.
Not that St. John, late of the Straight Talk Express, will care. He'll be off to his next fund raiser and photo op where he'll hype surges and bitch slap all talk of surrender. And his surrounded-by-a-private-legion-with-heavy-air-support open air market stroll will just be a memory...of another spring day...passed through...like a whistle stop...in someone else's...hell...