Laughter or Despair?

This sad burlesque
With miserable failures making entertainment of our fate
Laughter cannot dignify or elevate
This sad burlesque.

Elvis Costello

Whom shall I ridicule this week? Why even bother? Better tyrants than ours might listen to their jesters; better morons might know their limitations. But there is no King Lear or Warren G. Harding in this administration. No bunker buster yet devised could penetrate the skulls or souls of Bush, Ashcroft, Perle, et al. Does humor stand a chance?

Michael Moore may think so, but I have my doubts. We’ve been neck-deep in comic gold for years now, but few seem to notice. Instead of recounting the last election’s ballots, Moore should be riffing on the moral absurdity of that contest itself. So a guy who enjoyed truncating Serbs lost to one who would rather abbreviate Arabs. Who cares?

Well, I guess the particular people now being abbreviated do, though they’re trying hard not to. Liquor sales in Baghdad have been climbing since bombing increased last week. Arak, the local liver-eater, already fetches the pathetically astronomical sum of $1.30/bottle. According to a cabbie, "I am buying arak now. I think it is destroying my stomach, but I need to sleep at night, especially where I live." Other Iraqis get wasted in a different sense, including those seven (or was it ten?) women and children whose souls were freed of their bodies at a U.S. checkpoint. Hah! John Allen Muhammad must be sorry he ever quit the Army.

Yes, this liberation shtick is pretty amusing. If you aren’t chuckling yet, then try the rainbow coalition of the willing, which Condoleezza Rice says includes "every major race, religion, and ethnicity in the world." Given her concern for diversity, one wonders what exactly makes a race, religion, or ethnicity "major." Chaldean and Assyrian Christians don’t seem to make the cut. Lesson #1 in democracy, you guys: be fruitful and multiply. In the meantime, follow Tonga’s lead and befriend bigger hooligans. Coalition heavies such as Bulgaria, Uganda, and Micronesia have suffered much late night mockery, but why shouldn’t they have a crack at the postwar spoils? (Emphasis in the following quotes is mine.)


"I am confident that peace will soon be reinstated in Iraq, the weapons of mass destruction will be destroyed and on the basis of this we shall be able to live in a more peaceful and tranquil world in future. I would also like to add that Hungary would be pleased to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq." Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy


"We understand the need for disarming Iraq. The world needs to be convinced that there are no weapons of mass destruction on Iraqi territory. This is important for world security. It is deeply regrettable that Iraq did not make use of the opportunity, which existed, to solve the problem peacefully… Estonia is ready, based upon the needs of the situation and its own capabilities, to help regulate the post-conflict situation and participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.” Statement by the Government of Estonia


"Saddam Hussein is a great danger to law and peace. Virtually all the countries in the world are in agreement on that… he takes no notice of the agreements which the international community has made time after time with him… Hence the Netherlands gives political support to the action against Saddam Hussein which has been started… The action is now getting under way. But, hopefully, a time will very quickly come when the weapons will fall silent. Then we will have to do everything in our power to help the people in Iraq with their country’s reconstruction." Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende


"Azerbaijan is expressing its readiness to take part in the humanitarian rehabilitation in post-conflict Iraq." Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


"Romania has interests and responsibilities in Iraq. We intend to bring our contribution to providing human assistance and to the reconstruction process in this country, including the reconstruction of the Iraqi society, economy and democracy." Prime Minister Nastase


"El Salvador is giving diplomatic support (to the United States) and also is willing to give support in a post-conflict phase, when a possible war is over, in reconstruction or de-mining tasks at which we already have experience." Foreign Ministry Communications Director Cesar Martinez

Don’t lampoon the upstarts for chasing lucre. If you really want a laugh, ask Mr. Martinez how the folks in El Salvador became such experts at "reconstruction" and "de-mining." Ask Jonah Goldberg if even Saddam Hussein deserves a sermon from the pulpits of Kigali and Addis Ababa. Ask President Ion Iliescu of Romania, who murdered anti-Communist demonstrators in 1990, how he plans to rebuild "the Iraqi society, economy and democracy." Then ask President Bush if it’s too late for Kim Jong-Il to board the all-forgiving war train.

Oh, my ribs ache from all the punchlines! An ex-drunk driving others to the bottle half a world away. An attorney general whose idea of decency is covering statues’ breasts. A prissy Pentagon dandy bent on ridding the world of its human dandruff. And the biggest joke of all? A nation led by men who think that freedom is something you put ketchup on.