***image2:right ***BAGHDAD—They're having a tough time of it over there drafting an American-style constitution in what may soon officially be called "New Iraq." One of the main points they're haggling over, in fact, is what to name the thing that has emerged from the ash and rubble of "Shock and Awe." See how easy it is for America to name things? These poor new Founding Fathers of Iraq are under the gun, thinking there's got to be something catchier than New Iraq. And besides, York, England, Mexico and Zealand have already worn the "New" thing out.
The current American administration has been thinking, and these media-savvy westerners who now own Mesopotamia are trying to help them come up with a brand name that has cachet.
Rumsfeld suggested "Mesopotopia," but it was shot down, too new-agey for this old school bunch.
The president came up with "Freelandia," and you'd think that one might be a keeper.
But it's almost like trying to come up with the perfect name for a rock-and-roll band, you know? Who among us hasn't sat around somewhere in a smoke-filled room with guys forming a new group, throwing names at the wall until one sticks? The more you dwell on it the harder it gets. It's hard work. No name is perfect. As excellent as "Freelandia" might have sounded at first, the more they thought about it the more they hated it. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it's a little happy, if you know what I mean, so they threw it out.
Cheney must have been smoking the good stuff because he favored "Qwik-Cashistan." It does have a nice flow to it and a proper suffix. A lot of people are making a lot of that over there, especially Halliburton and the mercenary soldiers of fortune who are being paid salaries that dwarf those of the official American soldiers of misfortune. But, too bad, "Qwik-Cash," suffix or no suffix, is already taken by a little payday advance store at a strip mall on Pico and Lincoln, the kind that has been thriving for some time now in cities and small towns all across America, especially the ones with military bases near them. I took note of the sudden preponderance of the cash stores some four years ago but could never figure out the significance, other than a lot of people must be living right on the edge of financial depravity.
That includes soldiers, many of whom have given their all while simultaneously being taken of their all by the burgeoning "Qwik-Cash" outlets, who charge fees adding up to something like a 720 percent annual interest rate.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Withrow paid first-class interest on the advances he took on the meager paycheck he drew for having our back in Iraq. He said, "In five months I spent about $7000 in interest and didn't even pay on the $1900 principal." One lobbyist in Washington named, Jet Toney, blames it on the kids who are willing to die for him. He defends the quick-cash suppliers, stating, "They're not preying on anybody, they're just open for business. How many 18-to-22-year-olds make perfect financial decisions?"
Jet Toney hasn't fully thought through the difficulty of making perfect financial decisions while dodging all manner of Improvised Explosive Devices on the dead-end streets of Baghdad for a bad paycheck. A little shell-shocked maybe, the GI writes home to tell the wife to get the draw against the next check down at the Qwik-Cash to keep the kids fed until he gets home to a decent-paying job. Meanwhile Jet Toney sheds a tear all the way to one of his banks.
George W. Bush, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Withrow's and Army Spc. Casey Sheehan's commander-in-chief, when questioned how he could find time for daily 2-hour bike rides on his five-week vacation without finding five minutes to meet with Sheehan's mother in his driveway, answered, "I have to go on with my life." You fill in the punchline.
The Arlington West crosses representing every American who has given his life to the Iraq War, some 2000 and counting, were taken from the sands of Santa Monica to a field outside the president's Prairie Chapel ranch in Crawford where Cindy Sheehan continues her vigil in honor of her fallen son. A local patriot chained a long iron bar to the back of his pickup truck and mowed them down shortly after they were set up, in a courageous show of support for the president and the war.
As he attempted to flee into the Texas night, he didn't get very far. His truck ground to a halt, impaled on some of the crosses.