No Room For Israel/Lebanon:
It was two for one mojitos last night at the bar here in Red State America. So we drank mojitos, goddamnit, 'cause six shots of Cruzan Rum (three per) for six bucks is a fuckin' bargain no matter how you figure it. We toasted the redhead pouring them, who joked about us double-fisting our drinks, with a wink about "double-fisting" turning her on. We toasted Cuba, not Castro, just Cuba for creating such a magnificent leafy beverage. It was all happy, happy good times until one of the toasters, a young, drunk, missing a couple of teeth, tattooed welder guy, asked the Rude Pundit, "So what do you think about this Israel/Lebanon shit?"

By that point, the amount of non-rum in the mojitos was precipitously close to zero, and the Rude Pundit said, "Fuck Israel. Fuck Lebanon (or, more properly, Hezbollah). Who fucking cares?" The tattooed welder, who wasn't wearing any shoes, and who had insisted over and over to the Rude Pundit's demi-poet friend sitting on the next stool that he had lived a rough life, nodded, saying, "Yeah, yeah, you're right, we're fucked-up, who cares about anything."

No, the Rude Pundit said, he wasn't that drunk. He wasn't a pussy-ass Mel Gibson, yelping about demonic baby-blood-drinking Jews and then claiming it was the booze talking. If you asked the Rude Pundit that nine shots ago, he'd've said the same thing: Fuck Israel. Fuck Lebanon. Who fucking cares? "Look, there's only so much caring that can go around, and I'm fuckin' sick and even more fuckin' tired of everyone on TV tellin' us what we should give a shit about," the Rude Pundit explained. "I don't fuckin' care about Israel gettin' all up in Hezbollah's shit because I'm too busy givin' a damn about Iraq."

Tattooed drunk welder guy wasn't pissed; he wanted explanations, for reasons that'd become clear in a moment or two. "Yeah, but Iraq's done, man, it's all over there, we've fucked that up good." he said. Would that tattooed drunk welder guy had been right about it being over. But it ain't never gonna be over.

In Iraq, in Sadr City and other coalition-wrecked places, the Shia militias are capturing and killing homosexual men and kids forced into gay prostitution. In Baghdad, three more U.S. soldiers were killed. In Baghdad, they're trying the U.S. soldiers who raped a young girl and murdered her family. But at least it wasn't gay sex. That's not to mention the suicide bombings, insurgent attacks, all the boring repetitious shit that's become insignificant white noise, a fly buzz compared to the garbage truck roar of the Israel/Lebanon conflict in the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, at a Crawford, Texas middle school yesterday, National Security Stephen Hadley took questions from reporters, as did Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Not a single question even mentioned Iraq.

The drunk tattooed welder told the Rude Pundit that his father, a sergeant in the National Guard, had spent two years in Iraq, back a few months ago. Another guy at the bar described the welder's father as a "right-wing Republican." The welder said that his father, a mechanic, told the welder that if he was put in a position where he had to kill someone, even to defend himself, he didn't know if he could do it because he thought the war was "idiotic" and he didn't believe in it. But the sergeant father still went and did his job.

There it is. From drunks in bars. Not so much wisdom as the numbing reality of it all, of this forced march we're all on, of the inability, so far, to figure out how to get out of the single file line into the end of the flat earth. At many points in our recent history, we had the luxury of being able to care about every blip on the Israel rocket radar. For most of America, there's no room to give a damn about Israel and/or Lebanon because Iraq is consuming our hearts.