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Friday, December 19, 2003

Merry Muslim Christmas

by Clinton Fein


Click to Send PostcardThat represented my first thought the moment I heard Saddam Hussein had been captured after a friend woke me up early Saturday morning to tell me the news. Not that I particularly liked Saddam Hussein. Vicious dictators, even those made by the United States, are not high on my sympathy list. It was the meaning of his capture that filled me with the dread of what was about to transpire.

The instant mini-hard-ons of the right wing punditry; the shit-shining smugness of President Yeehah, and his smirking Neocon cronies. The fresh stains on the chairs of Fox News as blonde pundettes squirmed and gloated. The predictable "Bring 'Em On" rehashing by jingoistic journalists who have never spent a minute in combat, let alone in service to their country. The desperate, preteen attempts at hyper-masculinity from the Don Imus crowd -- likely to use the tyrant's capture to convince themselves, in all their unimportance, that they only look like eighty-year-old Marlboro dykes.

I guiltily popped into a Starbucks feeling dirty, wondering when the first Tikrit store would be opening or if there were equivalent Iraqi terms for "non-fat venti macchiatos" or a "tall vanilla crème frappuccinos" (until I realized there weren't English terms for those either). I vowed to avoid television for the weekend, refusing to watch the gloating. Just what America needed. A fat dose of "gotcha" shit-eating grinning and self-congratulating with no self-reflection and no context. But there was no escape. There never is.

The media played the drama like the overused, cheap and uninspiring whores they became long ago, failing, once more, to address how Saddam Hussein became the man he became -- guided by the principles, money, weapons and chemicals bestowed upon him by the United States during Iraq's treacherous war with Iran.

America once again violated the Geneva Convention by humiliating, televising and disseminating images of a supposed Prisoner of War. Until the insurgents in Iraq capture "coalition" servicemembers and send videotapes of crude dental examinations with flashlights to Al Jazzeera to inspire Donald Rumsfeld to decry the lawless barbarians that mock international convention. "The Geneva Convention indicates that it's not permitted to photograph and embarrass or humiliate prisoners of war," he told the Press following the release of images of American POWs captured at the onset of the war. Prior, of course, to the proud display of Saddam's dead sons.

CNN's overstuffed exemplification of its ever decreasing ratings spiral, Wolf Blitzer, sneeringly and breathlessly derided Hussein's appearance as a "homeless" person. As if he would look any better after his home was bombed or if he lost his job. As if he looks that much better right now. The character-creased face of a mad tyrant being hunted versus the pasty pudding softness of a lazy television personality without any.

Quoting Jihan Ajlouni, a 24-year-old university student who cautioned the Jerusalem Post not to "rush to celebrate because there are millions of Saddams in the Arab world," James Taranto of OpinionJournal, the polemic, juvenile, online editorial arm of The Wall Street Journal, responded with, "A million Saddams? All we can say is bring 'em on! Come out of those holes with your hands up!" As murdered Wall Street Journal journalist, Daniel Pearl, squirmed in his grave, do you think Taranto (who probably wouldn't have fitted into the hole), would repeat his bravado looking into the eyes of the parents or loved ones of those who have lost their lives in Iraq? Didn't think so.

Columnist Maggie Gallagher, who has done more than her own share of hatemongering in her self-righteous columns, quotes the ever prestigious New York Post -- the Murdoch owned toilet trash -- as she tries to fathom Hussein. "How does a man commit or justify such atrocities? Members of the Iraqi governing council tried to pry an answer out of Saddam Hussein, according to the New York Post. Asked about the people celebrating his capture, Saddam replied, 'Those are mobs.' Mass graves? 'Those are thieves.' In Saddam's own eyes, he is a just, but firm, ruler." Ditto Bush, sweetie. Remember the hundreds of thousands of antiwar protestors? "Opinion polls." Andrea Yates? "Murderer".

Remember the crazed woman who sits with her legs open in miniskirts pontificating Jesus and who recommended America "invade" other "countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity"? Well Ann Coulter, the blonde, demented talk-show tramp, has been immortalized with a Barbie-like doll released in her likeness in time for the holiday season. It could just end up being the best selling anal dildo of the season, (it actually looks like and talks shit)." Funny, Saddam Hussein cannot be tortured, but seems like the doll manufacturers, TalkingPresidents.com, are able to do it to almost everyone. I would recommend sending the deposed leader a Coulter doll, but why should the interrogators be punished?

While the press vomited, the leaders shuffled and plotted revenge, providing insightful lessons to the young Iraqis watching to see what liberation looked like following the bombing of their parents and the destruction of their homes and lives.

The double dose of doublespeak by Dubya, pretending to be humble so as to downplay yet unequivocally play up the events of the capture. A carefully scripted pep-up talk designed to frame Hussein's capture as a successful milestone in a war that was waged on the basis of readily deployable weapons of mass destruction, not the removal of Saddam Hussein. If cruel behavior of dictators was even a remotely true objective, Robert Mugabe would be shaking in his satin slippers, not brazenly and defiantly resigning from the Commonwealth.

"The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq. It marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name, " parroted Mr. Bush as Iraqis have become used to being bullied and killed in Mr. Bush's name.

"The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq. The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country, "declared the President. Weeks earlier, in response to a leak by his administration to slimy columnist Robert Novak resulting in the treasonous outing of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, (whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had debunked the veracity in the President's State of the Union address in a New York Times op-ed), Mr. Bush told journalists: "I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." So much for the superb work of intelligence analysts. How about a leaker's footprints in a small West Wing of the Whitehouse?

Adding a Martha Stewart color to his sincerity President Bush stated; "I want to know the truth…Leaks of classified information are bad things." No shit, Sherlock. Ask your father.

Among immediate outspoken proponents of the death penalty was Senator Joe Lieberman, the yawn-inducing presidential candidate that not even the man who had chosen him as a running mate, Al Gore, could endorse. "My first question about where he's going to be tried will be answered by whether that tribunal can execute him, which is what he surely deserves. And if it can be done by the Iraqi military tribunal, fine. But if it cannot, he should be brought before an American military tribunal and face the death." Great example Mr. Lieberman. Perhaps you can arrange to build the perfect gas chamber. Perhaps we can convince the annoyingly antiwar Germany to play its role and deliver America some showerheads. Oh, wait! It's the Iraqis who will determine Hussein's fate.

Lieberman's droned packaging of middle-of-the-road vagueness in an era of extreme sports and decisive action is about as well placed as a McDonald's billboard in Mecca during Ramadan.

The capture of Saddam Hussein appears to have boosted the confidence of Americans in finding Osama Bin Laden too according to latest polls. The fabricated connection between Bin Laden and Hussein, September 11th and Iraq is so entrenched at this point, attemps to clarify the distinctions are futile.

In a botched literary attempt at a vague Republican insurance policy (that likely made Shakespeare doublespin in his grave and vomit), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts wisely clarified why the United States has failed to capture Osama Bin Laden yet: "As opposed to finding the needle in the haystack, now the needle is in a mountain chain." Memorable.

Given the hundreds of thousands, if not more, Iraqis that have encountered misery and death as the result of the two wars conducted by American forces, and a decade of devastating and crippling sanctions under Presidents Bush and Clinton, and the million or so deaths in Afghanistan since 1979, trying Hussein for crimes against humanity should prove entertaining reality television. Next installment: Ousted New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso to head the Security and Exchange Commission.

But fear not. This holiday season will have more than enough jam-packed entertainment to keep you going if you get bored trying to count dead soldiers in spite of the ban on images of their return home in coffins. Ariel Sharon will continue building walls around Israel providing plenty of action for the New Year. Get your joysticks ready. Already MSNBC is asking its viewers who will be bigger: OJ or Michael Jackson? Better question would be who needs Viagra more: MSNBC's Erik Sorenson or Fox's Roger Ailes? Michael Jackson has been formally charged with child molestation felonies, Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case is in full swing. Celebrity lawyers Mark Geragos and Gloria Allred will perfect television appearance timing to represent and denounce accused child-abuser, Michael Jackson, and accused wife-killer, Scott Petersen, respectively.

In the meanwhile Iraqis can use the Christian holiday season to absorb a few little lessons: If countries that have resources you need and do things you do not like, you are perfectly justified in bombing their capitals, annexing their resources, occupying their land, deposing, hunting, humiliating and punishing (if not killing) their leaders, and awarding your friends and allies who helped you, lucrative reconstruction contracts - and celebrating your holidays and offering them your God's blessings.

2004 should be a blast.

Clinton Fein can be reached at clinton@annoy.com


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