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: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com










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.

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