Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Hail to the Chaff

by David Vest

As winter gave way to spring, there was too much weather and too much to write about. Anyone with good sense would have burned the pencils. Everytime I tried to leave the house and avoid the issue I was lashed back indoors by driving hail and falling branches from the wych elm in the yard. Even the drug dealer on the corner had to give up after awhile and take shelter. I tried turning on the TV for relief but as usual it was hard to tell the risible from the ridiculous.

According to my cable connection, here’s what was important in the world:

In the wake of the revelation of the existence of a “shadow government,” Tipper Gore ran the world’s shortest shadow Senate campaign. Al Gore shaved the shadows off his face and issued an utterly baffling explanation, far stranger than the beard.

Tonya Harding beat the living hell out of Paula Jones, who turned tail and ran then cowered in a corner begging for mercy. Harding showed the depth of her compassion with a haymaker to the top of the head that knocked Jones into next week. Did Bill Clinton send the winner flowers? He should have.

A jury in Texas found that Andrea Yates was crazy before and after but miraculously sane during the murder of her five children. (During the trial a child was killed by gunfire every two and a half hours in the U.S.)

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney lumbered around the Middle East in Air Force One trying to talk about invading Iraq, a subject of no apparent interest to anyone who met with him. It was the best example of the administration being thrown “off message” since Enron.

Ari (“be careful what you say”) Fleischer blamed Bill Clinton for Middle East violence during the Bush administration. There was no word on whether Fleischer also blamed Clinton for the visas recently issued to dead suspected hijackers on Bush’s watch.

In Afghanistan, the masterminds of Operation Anaconda, the two-day battle that lasted two weeks, declared total victory as hundreds of al-qaeda fighters escaped, according to our Afghan allies. (This is what some thought the U.S. should have done in Vietnam: declare victory and get out.)

Who’s likely to be caught first? Osama bin Ladin in the mountains of Afghanistan, or Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina? The domestic bombing suspect, wanted for the fatal bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic and linked to the explosion that went off in prime time during the Atlanta Olympics, has been on the FBI’s most wanted list for almost four years. WIll U.S. troops be searching caves in Afghanistan that long? This may sound familiar: the FBI stated in 1998 that it “hasn’t ruled out any possibilities,” including that Rudolph is dead or has fled the area.

In Washington, Trent Lott threw a major temper tantrum over the Judiciary Committee’s rejection of Judge Charles Pickering, Sr.’s nomination. It gave Tom Daschle something to smile about and will give Lott something to talk about when he next speaks to his beloved Conservative Citizen’s Council.

Missing from my TV was the news that George W. Bush was greeted with catcalls, protest signs and “carols of derision” during an appearance at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago.

Did I just miss it, or was it the “patriotic duty” of the networks to avoid developing this story? The inability of organizers and White House advance men to turn Chicago into the usual obligatory Potemkin Village required for a presidential visit is surely newsworthy.

Fortunately, the Chicago Independent Media Center was on the case.

Riddle me this: since Cheney was reported to be traveling in Air Force One, how did Bush get to Chicago? Amtrak? Greyhound? Enron jet?

Perhaps Dubya should have sent the Shadow Government in his place. Something tells me our Shadow Government would have known what to do with those protesters.

Anyone who turned off the TV and picked up the New York Times expecting relief instead found Thomas L. Friedman calling on Bush to send an American occupying force to Israel. “Are you sitting down?” asked Friedman. No, I’d rather go outside and stand in the hail.

David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He is a poet and piano-player for the Pacific Northwest’s hottest blues band, The Cannonballs.

He can be reached at:

Visit his website at










DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?