What If You "Liberated" a Country and a War Broke Out?:
Here's a letter from a soldier in Baghdad who the Rude Pundit knows, call him "Johnny," assuring everyone that he's okay after the hometown paper reported his unit had been hit by insurgent fire:

"With everything going on around here, I totally forgot to email everyone and tell you I was ok. My bad. We got hit twice in the past few days. One hit near the PX and hurt some people and another hit a gym (not mine) and hurt some people too. A couple have died also. It's just a part of the job and its something that we all know can happen at any time. It really doesn't bother you too much. Everyone keeps the thought in the back of their mind. We just accept it and go about our daily routine. But...on a lighter note...Popeye's opened up this week. It's not as good as back home but it's a change. We are suppose to get a Taco Bell too. We just don't know when. If we do, a lot of people around here are going to gain some serious weight. Well, other than that, things have been the same. Just kind of watching the days pass and trying to stay cool. Its going to be 115 this week. Thank God, we haven't had any heat casualties."

So, you know, if you measure progress by the number of fast food restaurants, Baghdad and Basra are supersizing and stuffed-crusting their way into the 21st Century. What, with Burger King, Pizza Hut, and now love-that-chicken-at-Popeye's, corporate America is not only bringing a simulacrum of a taste of home to our men and women in uniform, it's fattening them up for the kill. (Although one wonders if the Basra BK is still operating now that the city is essentially a lawless hellhole that makes Deadwood look positively dainty. But gauntlets of fear are a small price to pay for a delicious flame-broiled Whopper, right?)

'Cause, shee-it, looks like the folks at home, more than ever, and more than just the families of the soldiers, are understandin' that there's a real and actual war goin' on here. And even the mainstream media is puttin' out feelers on turnin' against the Bush administration, at least, if not the war itself. When the Washington Post ran its article this weekend actually calling bullshit on Bush's sunny outlook for Iraq, it was a rare moment where someone used facts to counter the lying opinions of the powerful. We used to call that "journalism." And the lead editorials of at least two major dailies on Memorial Day called Bush out for "lies" leading to war. The dribble before the dam breaks? Or just a pleasant bubble floating into the ether?

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney can slither up to the podium at the Air Force Academy and talk about, with that askew smirk that in old days would have gotten him hanged for being a minion of Satan, "our commitment to peace" and that "We will work day by day -- and side by side with other governments -- to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." 'Cause, you know, that's worked out so well already. The fact that a giant hand didn't come out of the sky and squash Cheney flat, into a gory but significantly less evil disc, is proof enough of the lack of a deity's interaction in this world. Then Cheney bid the graduating officers huzzah and farewell and consigned them to their imminent dooms overseas.

But, you know, if the soldiers come home horribly wounded, scarred, or in body bags, but fat on fried chicken and oh-so-yummy pepperoni breadsticks, well, God bless America, you know?

By the way, Johnny's letter ends by saying how many days he thinks he has left before his deployment ends. Damn, it's good that blind optimism is contagious.