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Gitmo beauty

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 07, 2009 7:30 AM

So the news is pretty much all bad, and the weather is worse. The North Koreans are testing a ballistic missile that maybe could reach Alaska (I wonder if, in addition to Russia, Sarah Palin can see North Korea from her Alaskan island), and spring is as much of a myth as economic recovery.

There have been a string of bombings in Iraq and Pakistan, Afghanistan remains a puzzle inside an enigma (to steal a line), and while the Iowa Supreme Court extended basic human rights to gay couples, right-wing Republicans are maneuvering to overturn the decision (and impeach the justices).

I mean, God forbid the same-sex community should enjoy the same rights as the rest of us. Who do they think they are, human beings?

(While I’m absolutely in favor of same-sex marriage, and opposite-sex marriage, for that matter, there’s a *New Yorker* cartoon from a few years back that I always recall when the issue comes up: It shows a middle-age couple watching the news on TV, and one says to the other, “Gay marriage — haven’t they suffered enough?”)

And on top of all that, a lot of you have five or six more weeks of college to slog through (sorry to bring it up). On the other hand, college is a whole lot easier than working in a chicken factory. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Well, as Louis XVI said in 1793, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. (Of course, in his case, that light turned out to be a TGV train, which was a trifle odd, because the TGV wasn’t invented until almost 200 years later, but details, details.)

There is some good news about. For one thing, by the time finals week rolls around (and it always seems to roll around), you’ll be wearing flip-flops. (The why of this isn’t exactly clear. Rite of passage, or something, kind of like reading Salinger.)

For another thing, Sarah Palin hasn’t (yet) claimed she can see North Korea from an Alaskan island and therefore understands the North Korean mindset. And, in any case, U.S. experts said the North Korean missile launch was a failure.

As the *New York Times* reports, “It’s got to be embarrassing,” said Geoffrey Forden, a missile expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I can imagine heads flying if the ‘Dear Leader’ finds out the satellite didn’t fly into orbit.”

The experts told the *Times* that the missile fell into the ocean, and, the *Times* reports, “Some said the failure undercut the North Korean campaign to come across as a fearsome adversary able to hurl deadly warheads halfway around the globe.”

And if that’s not enough good news for you, there’s always Miss Universe.

Yes, that Miss Universe — who this year turns out to be Dyanna Mendoza of Venezuela. She recently, according to Michael Winship, a senior writer for “Bill Moyers Journal,” visited the Guantánamo prison on a USO trip and, instead of the dark, foreboding, torture-filled facility that many people imagine it to be, discovered it to be delightful.

Yes, delightful. As she put it in her Internet jottings, “It was a loooot of fun,” she wrote. “We … met the military dogs, and they did a very nice demonstration of their skills …” as Winship reports.
Yeah, that’s what I like to do on my junkets, watch military pooches show off their skills. Forget all those Abu Ghraib pictures you saw. Nice puppy.

Just in case we were missing the point, Mendoza went on to write, “We visited the detainees’ camps, and we saw the jails, where they shower, how they recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, book … I didn’t want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.”

Ah, yes. The *real* Gitmo. Relaxing. Calm. Beautiful. Don’t you wish you, too, could visit?

No doubt that’s why the Guantánamo detainees are clamoring to stay there.

Maybe as part of the economic stimulus we could set up Guantánamo tours for the rest of us. Why should it be reserved for Miss Universe?

See, there’s good news out there. You just need to know where to look.

Oh, and yes, there will be a job for you when you get out of college. With any luck, it won’t be in a chicken factory.


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