FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Send in the Cons

Someone writes to me in favor of arming the populace for national defense, on the ground that terrorists would be reluctant to board any airplane knowing that the entire complement of passengers was armed.

So, of course, would anyone else in his right mind.

Another correspondent offers the old myth that Japan choose to bomb Pearl Harbor rather than to invade our mainland because their leaders knew our people had guns.

Perhaps this same argument will keep the United States out of Afghanistan, though I doubt it.

I bring this up not to launch a new argument with gun advocates. It is understandable that a true believer in any cause will see a national emergency as reason to argue that cause with greater urgency. In the public arena, this can be useful. It can, for example, allow hateful charlatans like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson the opportunity to expose their true feelings for all to behold.

For the most part, there has been a commendable absence of authentic nuttiness on the national airwaves since Sept. 11, although Fox did resort to hauling Jeanne Kirkpatrick in for an interview. (Who knew she was still alive? You decide.)

Then there was Billy Graham’s poor daughter, who really should get out more. She told Brian Gumble the other day that “God was being a perfect gentleman in doing just what we asked Him to do” when He stayed out of our lives and allowed people to attack us on Sept. 11. The heartlessness of it was stunning.

There is probably something to be said for airing all this vacuous puerility, for lancing these boils of unfeeling stupidity and getting the viciousness out of our national system.

Air time is there to be filled, and why not interview people who think like Mariah Carey sings? What’s the alternative? Talking to Edward Said or Noam Chomsky? Finding out what Ralph Nader thinks?

“Intellectual disgrace/Stares from every human face,” said Auden. Still, most people seem to know that now is not the right time to destroy themselves on TV.

However, it’s not what’s being said and done in front of cameras and microphones that troubles me. I don’t have much of a problem with anchor people waving little flags and sobbing. What else can they do? They’ve long forgotten how to report news, ask hard questions or investigate anything of substance. (Can you say “Carlyle Group,” dear anchor?)

What concerns me more is what else might not be getting shown on TV while we watch the twin towers collapse again and yet again.

For example, no one has shown me the truth about what’s going on with Cheney and his health. Are they telling themselves it’s in the interests of national security to keep quiet? Telling themselves that is easy. They do it all the time.

They still haven’t told us the names of the industry insiders who helped Cheney write energy policy, either. (Here, look at this picture of the towers collapsing again. Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain.)

At the old ball park, the singing of the National Anthem and the Seventh Inning Stretch are the two most productive times for pickpockets, who flourish in those moments when the public’s lump-in-the-throat attention is directed elsewhere.

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, times of national catastrophe are the first choice of the con artist and huckster.

There are people who jack up the price of flags and gasoline. People who show up at the widow’s door with a box of dust and ashes, claiming to have retreived the remains of the lost beloved. Artists who haven’t had a hit in eons competing for the chance to bellow “I’m proud to be an American” at any public event (but not “This Land is Your Land”). There are evangelists who know a golden opportunity for gay-bashing when they see one. Oil companies who would like to seize the moment and drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge while other matters weigh on the public mind. You get the feeling they would drill in Arlington National Cemetary if allowed.

Who do petrochemical plants along the Gulf Coast take advantage of hurricanes and tropical storms to emit their most noxious clouds of poison? People hiding in the cellar or joining evacuation routes are somehow less observant than on, say, a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The environment is never in greater peril than when no one is watching. The same can be said for our civil rights. In “a war unlike any other,” says the president, “sometimes we’ll see the fruits of our labors, and sometimes we won’t.”

The president was referring to efforts to track down those who planned and financed the Sept. 11 attacks. “There is no doubt in my mind, no doubt at all, that we will fail,” he told the Labor Department, and the nation, only this morning. Sometimes he (and we) will hear what he says, and sometimes he (and we) won’t. CP

David Vest is a writer, poet and piano player for the Cannonballs. A native of Alabama, he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit his webpage for samples of the Cannonballs’ brand of take no prisoners rock & roll and other Vest columns: http://www.mindspring.com/~dcqv

More articles by:

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.

September 19, 2018
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail