Why can't we win at home?

Well, we seem to have won the war, and by air power alone. That, and a few dozen billion dollars. Now we (that is, NATO, now essentially the military arm of the American empire) will settle in for years of occupation and rebuilding of Kosovo.

Nobody, certainly not I, thought this would work. It did, and as far as I know, no one on our side got killed, except for two men in a helicopter crash. (No one cares about a few thousand dead wog civilians and conscripts.)

What remains to be seen is whether we make Slobodan into another Saddam, i.e., a convenient low-risk bad guy, who U.S. presidents can bomb a bit when they need to get their polls up. Idly, I had wondered whether we’d establish a "no-cleanse zone" in Kosovo, much as the "no-fly-zone" in Iraq.

Apparently not. Senior NATO officials told the New York Times Kosovo would be virtually "walled off" from Yugoslavia, and that for currency it will use either the German mark (!) or the American dollar (!!).

Whoa! Ganz gut! Guess it’s clear who is running this empire! The NYT, incidentally, has become sort of the unofficial bulletin of the new imperium.

The day after the peace deal, it sternly counseled those who wanted to liberate their own country, the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA should demobilize, give up its weapons and "trust NATO peacekeepers to provide physical security for all of Kosovo’s people."

Obey Big Daddy, in other words. Frankly, you can make a good argument that all this makes sense, and whether by accident or crafty design, the White House has hit a homer, and is on target to create the best possible future for these folks.

We’ll see. The world is changing. But since the dawn of man, even benevolent occupying powers sooner or later have trouble governing the occupied, especially when vast cultural, ethnic and linguistic differences separate them.

Question for tomorrow: How do you say "Viet Cong" in Albanian?

Meanwhile, it has not been a good spring for gun nuts.

Some weeks ago, I engaged in a little, very gentle, criticism of the society for dangerous evil psychotic wackos known as the National Rifle Association.

Their supporters responded with the usual hysterical venom that revealed a great deal about the faulty state of the safety catches on their brains.

Curiously, several thought that my anti-gun stand proved that I was gay. "Queer marriage is not what this nation stands for," one told me.

Clearly, he needs a concealed weapon to shoot the demons who live in the fillings in his teeth, as well as any bearded would-be brides he meets standing in line for his Thorazine.

But most of my correspondents – including some who supported me – repeated, sadly or gleefully, the big lie that the Second Amendment means all gun control is impossible and a sin against the Founding Fathers.

Yet the truth has now been exposed. The Wall Street Journal is easily the most conservative – in every sense of the word – newspaper in the country, and one of the two most authoritative. And on May 25, there it was, a long story right on the front page.

Legal and constitutional experts lined up to affirm that the gun nuts’ BS is not what the amendment means. "Federal courts have almost unanimously rejected the NRA version of the right to bear arms, saying it is a right reserved for state militias, not individuals," the Journal reported.

As a result – despite their rhetoric – when in federal court, the NRA has "consciously steered away from Second Amendment arguments," opposing gun control instead on technicalities and other "less lofty grounds."

Even worse for the lethal lobby: The public mood has turned.

Somehow, the school massacre in Littleton resonated with citizens in a way nothing else has. This has even gotten to those Republicans with hearts, which is to say, their women.

Prior to the Columbine High School massacre, lady elephants were about evenly divided over gun control. Now, according to a new poll, nearly three-quarters want more of it. Naturally, this won’t have the slightest effect on those in Congress who feed at the NRA’s trough. Speaker of the House Dennis ("guess what it rhymes with") Hastert, an alleged moderate whose toughest known decision came over how much ice to put in the cola machine, took a forceful stand.

No matter how many Republican moderates indicated their support for some kind of timid gun control proposal, he, by God, wouldn’t lift a finger to help. (Wonder what his list of campaign contributors might show?)

Surprisingly, the situation was reversed in Michigan. Long ago, I stopped expecting Lansing to do anything other than live down to my lowest expectations. Instead, our Legislature, poised to allow essentially anyone not yet a convicted assassin to carry a concealed weapon, backed off. Not that they had any real change of heart. Allowing anyone to have a hidden death machine was still "good public policy," said House Speaker Chuck Perricone, R-Kalamazoo, but he admitted it might be politically risky.

Sanity may be fleeting, but if our luck holds, some day we might have a prayer of restricting the number of assault weapons a seriously insane psychopath can buy. See you on the rifle range.

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