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Grand Lake Theater in Oakland.

March 15th, 2003

In Your Element
Friday. Later in the evening, raining, a chicken sandwich and a bag of peanuts for dinner. Not good to be eating dinner, my breakfast and lunch only diet does not allow for dinner, but it's the weekend and I'm allowed. The head is reasonably clear, somewhat tired, but the kind of tired that can generally be fixed with a good night's sleep. Time to get on with life, I'm ready to be recovered. Born again recovered. Shorn again recovered, we can negotiate on this, really, make an offer.

I'd forgotten I'd requested an Element sales brochure over the web from Honda. Arrived today. Many photographs of people one third my age acting out in their Elements. In their element in their Elements. (wince) A sign of some sort, fate creeping in. I'm liable to buy the thing, if my head ever gets clear, and I feel the need to drive. That's how it goes, does it not? Been some time since I bought a new car, been some time since it's mattered. Seems time, somehow: war, job, head dizzy.

Saturday. I guess we'll be at war this week. Invading Iraq has never made sense to me any more than invading North Korea. If there were good reasons to invade - imminent attack, support for anti-Oakland terrorist groups, the existence of a sensible after the war end game - I could go with the flow (and the slaughter). Even Bush seems to have given up his pretext that Hussein is allied with al Qaeda or he's doling out weapons to bad people on the street. An Iraq allied with an al Qaeda might be reason for war, I will admit it. Even Bush agrees (for the moment) we shouldn't invade North Korea without an existing danger of attack. North Korea has nuclear weapons and is poised to vaporize the fifteen million citizens of Seoul with his first shot. Better to talk.

Al Qaeda must think our invading Iraq a gift from heaven. (Maybe It is on their side.) The Iraqi regime has always been high on their list, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq perhaps more so, since it's a secular and not an Islamic state. How do you radicalize the entire Muslim world against the United States? You hope the United States invades Iraq so the world can see the thousands dying on television, in living color, day after night after day after night.

What do you do with people who kill women and children? You stomp them like rats, whatever the price, you dismember their allies, you stomp their children and you stomp their women, you have your anti-Oakland theologies ready to grab up the pieces and send them to US for a visit. Would Hussein, if he hasn't been providing weapons to his terrorist enemies, now think twice about giving them out, a dozen here, a dozen there, a last act of revenge before taking the bullet? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? Am I the only cold hearted son of a bitch on the planet to think this?

Now I could be, we could be, absolutely stupidly wrong. You can pretty much spin this thing any way you want. Yes, the CIA authored the "no connection to al Qaeda - an invasion could radicalize the Muslim world against us" hypothesis, but think how many times the CIA has been wrong in the past. If we're going to war, I hope Mr. Bush is right. I hope the troops go straight lickety split through Baghdad, Hussein falling with the first shot and Iraq transformed into a land of unlimited frolic. And our economy zooms up. And I don't have to flee to the hills. I'm too old to flee to the hills, with or without the Element. The four wheel drive Honda Element. That gets good gas milage and can't be an SUV because it only carries four in addition to the studio lights. Right?

Because we could, of course, get a good outcome, Bush and Wolfowitz and the rest could bePaul Wolfowitz, pre-emptive strike advocate. right. A flip of the coin. You take your chances. War, like gambling, has its thrills. Heads you're alive and the future looks bright, tails you're on the ground fighting for your life. How much good? How much bad? How do you weigh your chances? I think you only make this bet when there is no other choice. If Iraq or North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and either one has the intention of seeing them in the hands of terrorists, invasion is an option, no doubt about it. If you believe these states have no reason to make them available to terrorists, then you work them over in every way you can short of war. You don't bet the rent. Or the house. Or the family. Or the kitty cat.

Let's hope those of us with anti-war sentiments are wrong, dead wrong, dumb assed wrong, egg on our face wrong, because it sure looks like war. War is blind and it has consequences. If the Muslim world is radically turned against us, if this invasion turns really bad, you can't get it back in the bottle. How do you keep them from retaliating in our cities, bomb after bomb? The downside of misjudgment is generations of destruction, the loss of our freedoms and the loss of a not uncomfortable life. Here in the Homeland. You remember the Homeland? The term that gives you the warm fuzzies of 1930's German propaganda, something Goebbels could have invented?

Well, this is my anti-war rant. I didn't make the demonstration in San Francisco because I've been dizzy (what else?) and I've used it as an excuse to skip the packed trains and the crowds. No pictures, no ambition to shoot pictures. Same with the car and the other stuff. No urge to go out and make commitments until I feel better. No impetus to go out and make commitments until the job market settles. The war is in some sense a television show. Vietnam was just a television show in my time until it started to affect my life. Dead kids aren't really a drag until they're your dead kids. Dead adults - men, women, doesn't matter - don't really count until you have to walk around them on the sidewalk or drive over them in the street. In your Element.

The photograph of the Grand Lake theater marquee was taken recently in Oakland.