Sunday, July 02, 2006

Don't bomb Iran yet, George: I'm still lost in Tehran!

My daughter always used to say, "Mom, please stop getting lost! You are always getting lost!" And she's right. My capacity for getting lost is legendary in my family but this time I out-did even myself.

In the Kabul (Afghanistan) airport, while trying to get to the San Francisco airport via Dubai, London and Cincinnati, I somehow managed to end up on the plane to Tehran!

How? Don't even ask.

I have two things to say about Tehran. It's big. And they got a nice airport.

I have just two things to say to George Bush. "Please wait until I get back to California before you bomb Iran," and, "Are you nuts! These people have lives. They have families. They have AIRPORTS. Just like you and me. Enough with the bombs. If you gotta bomb something, go back to blowing up frogs!"

GWB should be the one to get lost.

PS: All the flights and all the airports in the Middle East are CRAWLING with macho white guy "contractors". It's as if the White House, in a surge of backlash against feminism, is personally financing a renaissance of the Marlboro Man. Don't get me wrong. I don't MIND seeing all these Rambo wannabees running around the Middle East in buzz cuts and tight jeans. But at $250,000 apiece for all this testosterone, that's a LITTLE bit out of balance, don't you think?

For every macho cowboy "contractor" let loose in the Middle East, shouldn't we be giving matching funds to a fleet of school marms and lady doctors too? One of us for every one of them? I want to give $250,000 a year to teachers and nurses and warm fuzzy cozy feminine types too. And I think they deserve it more. Anyone can blow up a building or destabilize a third-world country. It takes SKILL to nurture and heal.

PS: They finally got me on the right plane to Dubai. And on the flight from London to Cincinnati, I sat next to a "contractor" just returning from Baghdad. I grilled him mercilessly. "How much do they pay you?"

"About $150,00 a year but you have to stay there at least one year in order to get the tax break."

"How long do you stay there each time?"

"I go over there for four months at a time then I get 14 days' leave to visit my family. I have a wife and a 10-year-old daughter in Kentucky." 14 days? That's not very long.

"Is it dangerous over there?"

"Not really -- if you work inside the base perimeter. I'm a mechanic and I work inside a 15-square-mile area out by the Baghdad airport. It's pretty safe there but we hear the rockets and mortars whizzing by all the time."

"Do you ever have any contact with Iraqis?"

"Actually, yes. They come in and work at the base. But we don't go outside the perimeter. But who would want to. Baghdad is a dump."

"A dump?"

"Yeah. There's no water, no electricity, no sewer. It's like one huge gigantic junk yard out there."

"How does someone go about getting one of those contracting jobs?"

"Look on the internet. Try ITT. KBR is a good site to try."

PPS: At Gatwick Airport in London, they asked me where my flight had originated. "Kabul." Wrong answer.

The Gatwick security team actually pulled my luggage off the plane! I was impressed. They sorted though hundreds of suitcases just to search through mine. The bad news was that they broke one of my souvenirs. But the good news is that at least I knew that my luggage had made it this far and hadn't gotten lost back in Tehran....