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

The Mother of Intervention


Yesterday, I said to my sister Laura, “I don’t believe in hell, but if I’m wrong, I’ll be removing wallpaper there.”

I’ve spent the last four days working on her condo, stripping the walls of dark green and brown. She and her partner Erma are moving three buildings down from my place. I’m in charge of wallpaper eradication. Laura’s the painter. Erma’s in Kentucky, sorting through a lifetime of accumulation, giving stuff away, and packing what they’ll need.

While spraying and scraping, I did my usual tangential wanderings/wonderings. How many coats of paint would one have to apply to reduce significantly the space within the room?

“You’re deep,” Laura said, when I posed the question. I think she’s grumpy.

I should be.

I found the seams in the dining room’s border and pulled the offending decoration off and away easily. The identical border in the living room was a bitch. Even worse was the entrance foyer. Beneath the paper was glue, a thick membrane of skin.

Difficult situations are supposed to inspire creative solutions. Nothing ingenious occurred to me. I had a spray bottle, a scraping tool, and something to protect the floor but nothing abracadabra to get rid of that dermis, hanging like confounding chad all over the surface.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Laura handed me a gadget (made in New Zealand) that fits in the palm. You run it over the paper, up and down, round and round, to score and allow more water to penetrate. Great device.

Life presents hurdles, but someone generally unravels the predicament to suit his or her requirements.

For example:

Nuclear power plants throughout the country are leaking radiation into our water supply and, magically, an authority announces a new and lower standard for drinking water. Done.

According to a report prepared by Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant in Nebraska suffered “a catastrophic loss of cooling” on June 7 when the Missouri River flooded the area. Obama ordered a “news blackout”. Done.

Wildfires are raging in Arizona and Sen. John McCain identified the culprits?”illegal immigrants”. Done.

War is expanded to Libya and Obama agrees with lawyers who conclude that military action in the country doesn’t amount to hostilities?that our bombing is humanitarian. Done. Reminds me of Operation New Dawn, the name of the war that’s officially over in Iraq where thousands of troops remain in “support roles”, still killing. And dying. Done.

Money is flowing to Wall Street?through print, print, print. But Obama said this gem in January of 2011: “We want an economy fueled by what we invent and what we build. We’re going back to Thomas Edison’s principles. We’re going to build stuff and invent stuff.” I’m sure we have. No improvement to infrastructure or job creation but plenty of sophisticated weaponry. Done.

Advanced propagandizing is a prerequisite for elected officialdom. The repackaging amounts to language-ing for perception alteration. Languishing is the result.

Seems necessity is not just the mother of invention. Necessity, also, is the mother of intervention. And this country’s “leadership” is the mother of all interveners.

Missy Beattie is exhausted in Baltimore. Commiserate with her at



Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

More articles by:

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

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


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
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
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?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”