I didn't make it to the big-ass war protest outside Disneyland Saturday; I was busy sleeping off the Swallow's Inn from Friday night instead. But considering the Marines at the legendary San Juan honky-tonk who'd been a-squalling (with each other) like they were drunk reincarnations of the Jetsand Sharks(but considerably less light on their feet, and with nary a pretty baritone among them), I felt like I had a pretty good line on Fallujah—if Fallujah were bloodless and banal and just featured a bunch of blitzed boys trying to make time, and when they didn't succeed trying to make each other into mincemeat instead, and if it had a snappy soundtrack courtesy of the retro country stylings of Miz Patty Booker and didn't have all those blowed-up Arabs our boys have been posting on Nowthatsfuckedup.comin exchange for amateur porn, then I know just exactly what Fallujah would look like.
Fallujah would look like a mighty good time!
I've always had a thing for Marines (and cops)—you know I love me a few good men—if only to break my mama's heart. My brother Eric used to be stationed down at Pendleton, and after their particularly grueling humps up one mountain and down another, he'd go Norma Rae on them and try to start a union. I used to spend the weekend with his platoon sometimes; in a move both chivalrous and thoughtful, his sergeant, whom he'd brought home for Christmas dinner, would post guards outside the showers to make sure I remained unmolested.
It's a grand thing being a girl.
The boys at the Swallow's were sweet and stupid and brimming with fight. Did you know that—besides those "few bad apples"—"the troops" aren't saints? I bet you didn't! Well, you might have known it now, since we got to convict Lynndie England this week. I'm not one to apologize for England: "just following orders" went out with Nuremberg, and "my boyfriend made me do it"went out with Joel Steinberg's common-law cutie. But it's funny that while all the corporals-and-under have gone to a good stint in their own private Idaho, Alberto Gonzalez, who approved torture policy for the White House, was promoted. And speaking of our next associate justice (if we don't get lucky and get Janice Rogers Browned): now that, as attorney general, he's decided the War on Terror is over and porn is again one of Justice's top priorities, I do wish he'd take a peep at Nowthatsfuckedup.com. That is fucked up! Dot-com!
Back at the Swallow's, one wee, cute sergeant went liquor-blind and started bum-rushing kids from other units like a drunken Napoleon. All the boys had been to Fallujah and a good number of them were on their way back; one talked for a long time about his friends who got killed, while others recounted the jolly time they'd had blowing up buildings and all the I-raqis who'd remained therein, and those who were lucky enough to light my cigarettes and buy me a beer got an earful on their stupid fucking war.
I'm pretty sure they liked it.
It's a funny thing how the Right works in this country. Sixty-five percent of the country has soured on the war, and we all manage to be un-American. At least 150,000 people descended on Washington, D.C., Saturday according to news accounts and D.C.'s chief of police. (Protest organizers estimated the crowd at between 250,000 and a million, covering, as it did, 22 blocks.) There were concurrent marches in LA, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, London and Italy, among others. And yet the entire right half of the blogosphere is sticking its fingers in its ears and insisting there were 2,000 people there (except for Rush, who literally maintains there were just 30 protesters). Why do they say 2,000? Because they're stupid for one, and liars for another—they found one AP report that said, "More than 2,000 people gathered on the Ellipse hours before the showcase demonstration passed the White House[.]"
Can you spot the lapse in reading comprehension skills between that news report and this hilarious interpretation of it, from ProteinWisdom.com? "Typically when we hear of 'thousands' protesting, we don't expect we'll need to rely on a kind of Clintonesque legal parsing to make the claim literally so; and yet that's precisely what's happening here, because, while 'more than 2,000 people' technically qualifies as thousands, the phrase 'rallied by the thousands' is suggestive of a bit more than the bare minimum at which 'thousands' is even pluralized."
Did you spot it? You're so smart! That's right! The number "2,000" referred to protesters who were there hours before the start time! The report never said more people—like, say, 100,000—didn't show up later (unlike those pesky WMD). Of course, those on the right might have confused the anti-war demonstration with a pro-war demonstration the next day: the archconservative Washington Times reported that about 400 people attended that one.
* * *
While all those hundreds of thousands weren't in D.C. Saturday, I was hanging out with my sweet new staff sergeant friend. (I'm a one-woman pep squad for troop morale.) He clearly hadn't read my columns, so I gave him the Cliff's Notes: the pope, ArnoldSchwarzenegger and the stupid fucking war.
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He didn't buy it, but he did buy me a teddy bear. I, naturally, tried not to look appalled.
Did you know Real American Hero Pat Tillman hated George Bush and was adamantly against the Iraq War? I didn't either. But according to reports this week from his buddies and the San Francisco Chronicle, it's true. Bizarrely, he was also a Chomsky fan. Of course, that's one less now.
One thing I appreciated about Bill Clinton—and trust me, I was not a fan—was the realization that military force could be used for good. Raised as I was by dirty hippies, this had never occurred to me before. Installing democratically elected leaders who'd been overthrown by military juntas, stopping genocide, scrubbing rocks and saving seagulls (actually, that was George H.W. Bush, but I couldn't think of a third example) . . . these are wonderful things. I would like our military to do more wonderful things, to, say, help during natural disasters or protect the homeland. And, maybe, buy me beers. And teddy bears if absolutely necessary.