The news that war is good for your mental health should confirm, once and for all, that we are truly living in Bizarro World a universe of inverted values and the upside-down laws of a very unnatural nature. This explains why the U.S. government has engaged in a campaign of unprovoked assaults and unprecedented belligerence in recent years: Americans, always geared toward self-improvement, are getting rid of their old neurotic hang-ups about and taboos against mass murder and torture. Abu Ghraib was merely a form of group therapy.
Okay, let’s get serious: there are plenty of hard issues to confront this fine spring morning. As suicide bombers tear up Iraq, and its “liberated” peoples descend into civil war, our vice president declares that victory is near and a resolution calling for an “exit strategy” is defeated in the U.S. Congress. Why leave when we’re having such a good time and getting mentally healthier by the minute? That must’ve been the “reasoning” behind the decision of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to oppose the nonbinding resolution introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey.
I saw Nancy the other day walking down San Francisco’s Fillmore Street: she was dressed to the nines for this sojourn among the commoners. Although that stretch of street is filled to the rafters with an uncommonly upscale brand of San Franciscans, she stood out: her cape of crushed black velvet billowing in the breeze and her gold necklace glittering in the noonday sun as she acknowledged the gasping admiration of her subjects with a queenly nod.
I sidled up to her on the corner of Fillmore and Sacramento, and introduced myself as her onetime rival yes, I was her Republican opponent in the congressional election of 1996. She jumped back as if I were some suicide bomber and she a U.S. convoy on the road to Baghdad.
“Are you going to light that thing?” she demanded, referring to the unlit cigarette dangling from my lips.
“Well, uh, yes it is still legal, you know.”
Either some congenital defect or badly fitted contact lenses make her eyes seem to pop out at you with unblinking intensity, and so perhaps it only seemed as if Madame Minority Leader surveyed me with all the considerable disdain at her command. Not wanting to leave such a loutish impression, I dug deep in my bag of possible compliments politicians love flattery, and even such a formidable lady as this one could manage a smile provoked by praise and came up with:
I thought I heard her face crack as the shadow of a smile flitted over her oddly immobilized features, although it may have been a car backfiring in the distance. And while it may be unchivalrous and, yes, a trifle loutish to take back what has been given, I’m afraid I must withdraw that compliment, and not merely on account of her inexplicable opposition to the Woolsey resolution.
Not content to quash an attempt to get us out of the present quagmire, Pelosi is eager to jump into another one, this time in Iran: she has signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by Republican warmonger and presidential aspirant Rick Santorum (and the distinctly dubious Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) to impose sanctions on Tehran and take a higher profile against the Iranian government the same beating of the war drums that was the legislative prelude to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Here is yet more proof that we’ve living in a Bizarro World where logic is stood on its head: in one of the most antiwar congressional districts in the country, true blue San Francisco, our representative is leading the way to another (and much wider) war. But it gets worse
Her recent speech to the national policy conference held by AIPAC out-Sharoned Ariel Sharon. Next to Pelosi, the prime minister of Israel who spent the majority of his speech calling for peace through disengagement from Gaza and imploring the attendees to give the Palestinian president a chance was a wimpish peacenik. Sounding like Pat Robertson and his wacko fundamentalist flock, she declared the birth of Israel “the great shining moment of the 20th century,” praised Prime Minister Sharon’s leadership as “remarkable,” and tore into Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas:
“He has not removed Arafat’s corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize that vision.”
She also went Sharon one better by describing the withdrawal of U.S.-subsidized (and, to a large degree, U.S.-born) “settlers” from Gaza as “gut-wrenching.” As for the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has anything to do with the occupation this is “absolute nonsense.” It’s all about “the fundamental right of Israel to exist.”
Occupation? What occupation? Never mind how “gut-wrenching” it must be to stand and watch as “settlers” steal your land, bulldozers destroy your home, and helicopter gunships made in the good ol’ USA gun down your children it’s all about Israel’s “right to exist” as an inflamed and dangerously infected carbuncle on the Middle Eastern body politic.
Pelosi wants to impose economic sanctions on Iran because the Iranians aspire to what the Israelis already have: but don’t talk to her about Tel Aviv’s nukes, or whether sanctions ought to be imposed on a nation that refuses to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It’s all about Israel’s “right to exist” as the undisputed hegemon of the region.
In a democracy, the people rule and if you believe that, I’d like to have some of whatever it is you’re smoking. Okay, so we know it’s a sham, but what I find ominous is that, even granted the “democratic” principle, it seems to be malfunctioning in a spectacularly conspicuous manner. “Antiwar” San Francisco consistently sends a vicious warmonger to Congress, almost without opposition. The same is true, to a less pronounced degree, on the national level: most Americans, according to polls, oppose the Iraq war and want out as soon as possible. Yet our representatives in Congress won’t hear of it indeed, they’re already busy ginning up another war.
It makes no sense, but you’ll have to admit there is a certain Bizarro logic to it.
As long as we’re on the subject of nonsense: the self-outing of the infamous Deep Throat has us deeply engaged in a national debate over the value of anonymous government whistleblowers who “leak” the truth to the media. We argue over whether Mark Felt is a hero or a villain, while our numerous contemporary Deep Throats are studiously ignored. This is yet another symptom of our cognitive malaise: during the last presidential election the issue was not the war we are in, but the war we were in, namely the Vietnam War. It seems therefore weirdly appropriate that we should now be arguing over the depredations of Richard Nixon rather than bothering with crimes committed more recently. We debate the details of a long-ago break-in by government agents even as we give government agents carte blanche to not only search our homes, but read our mail and spy on ordinary, noncriminal citizens. As the prospect of armed conflict with Iran darkens the horizon, I fully expect the Deep Thinkers and intellectual trendsetters among us to begin an avid discussion of the pros and cons of the Second Carthaginian War.
Longtime readers of this column will recall my theory that the intense violence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks tore the fabric of the space-time continuum and plunged us into a world where the rules of ordinary logic have been repealed: a Bizarro World, where up is down and right is wrong. However, my preliminary theory was that what I called the Bizarro Effect was geographically centered on the two nodes of Unreason in the United States: Washington, D.C., and New York City, and that, with any luck, the phenomenon could be contained. I’m afraid, however, that this optimistic outlook has been disproved and we have a worst-case scenario on our hands. The Bizarro Effect has clearly spread from its initial focal points in the East all the way to the Bay Area, invading my little isle of sanity with its fanged madness and with little, if any, opposition along the way. The evidence is San Francisco Democrat Pelosi striking poses as the winged war goddess and hectoring Israel’s Palestinian helots for their lack of subservience and getting away with it.
Famously parochial, and smugly certain of their own unbearable coolness, San Franciscans are so enamored of their town and its much-vaunted “progressive” values that they barely notice Pelosi’s shenanigans they’re too busy berating the 49ers for not showing the proper respect for gay “marriage.” Such blindness is emblematic of our missing-in-action liberals of the Democratic Party, and in Pelosi they are getting the representation they deserve.