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Daphne and the "American Taliban"
Dotty E. LeMieux del@greendogcampaigns.com e
Green Dog Democrats - Our Motto: "Bite the Right!"

Once or twice a week, my artsy friend Daphne and I visit a favorite watering hole to review the world news and catch up on local gossip. Naturally, the subject of the "War on Terrorism" has been on our minds lately, so I am not surprised when Daphne offers me her own version of the "nice young man from Fairfax joins the Taliban" story on a recent evening. Daphne, you must understand used to be a social worker, working with the mentally ill homeless. This was an incarnation of hers that she speaks about with growing fondness over the years. As long as they were on their meds, she says, and you got them to shower every once in a while, they were some of her favorite clients. Daphne always imbues even the most unfortunate among us with dignity.

"If he wasn't over there with the Taliban," says Daphne pouring us each another quaff from the half liter of white wine between us, "he'd be wrapped in tinfoil, trying to contact the mother ship, or setting out on a surfboard in search of a dentist," The colorful characters from these anecdotes, were actual clients of Daphne's at one time or another. "When they're on their meds, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart from you or me," she says, reminding me of that old saw "There but for the grace of God..."

"But if there's no one to remind them to take their pills, or they get themselves off somewhere without a support system, and all bets are off."

Daphne has decided in her admittedly unscientific opinion, that what John Walker is likely to be is a classic schizophrenic. "Look at his eyes, she says, peering into the photograph of the scruffy Walker in the paper. And he wouldn't talk to anybody. These CIA agents had him tied up and badgering him with questions like he's some kind of rational person fighting for the enemy, so they can try him for treason. What rational person would join the Taliban?" she says, as if that clinches it.

"And then," she goes on, "he starts claiming all these wild things like he's been meeting with Osama bin Laden in caves and has all the secrets of Al Qaeda for new attacks." But why, I want to know, does she dismiss his claims so cavalierly? "First of all, this kid was caught in the prison with the rag tag Taliban fighters, not in caves with the Mullahs. Secondly, it's one of the classic symptoms, delusions of grandeur, hearing voices. He probably communicated with Osama through his fillings."

Well, I have to admit that picking on a dazed scruffy convert from zany Marin County was easier than tunneling through caves in the frozen mountains of Afghanistan, rooting out Osama bin Laden and putting the questions to him. Not to mention, it provides non-stop talk-show material and jokes for the late night TV crowd.

"Can you spell Scapegoat?" Daphne asks a hypothetical audience beyond the confines of our small table. "George Bush had to lasso someone, or lose his credibility with the rough and ready set. It takes the pressure off, and maybe we won't notice when they start bombing Iraq, or," she leans in closer, rifling the paper until she finds the right story, stabbing at it with a day glow lime green fingernail, "when they start transporting the Kajekistan oil they just cut a deal for through the heart of Afghanistan."

She pours the last of the wine and we drink a silent toast to the "American Taliban" and confused kids everywhere.