Elliot: Breaking bad in Syria


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Americans are breathlessly waiting to see if President Obama will strike Syria and how and when and if that would mean the end of those delicious powdered Syrian desserts that gastropubs so lovingly serve.

All right. (Note to writers young and older: That’s how you spell those two words, which, given many recent submissions and sports reports, Americans don’t seem to know.)

Meanwhile, Americans don’t seem to be all that breathless about much of anything except how “Breaking Bad” will end.

Yeah, a popular TV program that involves drug dealing and killing characters off (those would be faux people, if you’re keeping count at home) overtakes killing some real human beings. One hundred thousand so far. Those are real Syrians. You know, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers. They’re really dead. May you be in heaven an hour before the Devil knows you’re dead, as the Irish say. Not that that’s much help.

On the other hand, “Breaking Bad” is good American TV, largely because it steals from ancient Greek tragedy: good man runs into bad circumstances, in order to save his family undertakes bad actions, has good results (mixed with bad results), and then more and more bad results.

I’m only through the third season, because I’m using the DVD mode of travel. But I can tell it will only end badly for Walt. (Hence the title, duh.) If the story line follows the arc of ancient Greek tragedy, Walt will lose his entire family — because he originally broke bad to save his family.

It seems as though things can only break bad in Syria, also. Though, as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post points out, the American people can only surmise that because anytime someone (say, members of Congress) want to know some details about Syria that the administration knows, those members of Congress are told they can only hear the information behind closed doors.

In other words, the press, and thus us, don’t get to know. So it’s no wonder the polls show Americans oppose any U.S. military strike. Many of them, no doubt, probably remember how they were kept in the dark about the intelligence concerning Saddam’s WMD (did you find those yet, Cowboy?) in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

I’m not saying the situation is the same — in fact, Walter Pincus, the national-security reporter for the Post, reports that he’s not hearing the same blow back from his intelligence sources about U.S. intelligence on Syria that he heard from those sources about Iraq WMD.

But still, one has to wonder: What possible good could come from two dozen or three dozen cruise missiles hitting Syria?

In cheerier news, the Post reports that a USDA pilot program allowing much faster inspection of pork plants has also allowed contaminated meat to be produced. The program cuts the number of government inspectors, uses more private inspectors, and increases the speed of the lines by 20 percent.

Not very cheery news, you say? Well, Google tells me, in its inimitable way, that the world’s only launching pad for flying saucers is located at St. Paul, Alberta, Canada.

Yeah, that’s silly, but it’s better news than anything coming out of Syria. Or “Breaking Bad,” for that matter. We don’t end up with ancient Greek tragedy with launching pads for flying saucers. At least, not yet.

So here we are: It’s far more important to protect the people of Syria, without knowing exactly which Syrian people we would be protecting, but it’s seemingly not quite so important to protect the American people from American meat.

Meatheads rule, I guess.

For the first time in the history of universe, of course.

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