FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Blather Cancer

When informed–by a man named Winter–that I had blather cancer, I was very concerned about the health of my prose. Imminent death can focus one’s mind on the importance of life. It was a troublesome moment for me and, in a flash, I re-lived my career as a reporter and commentator.

I’ve had about a dozen pieces published on the CounterPunch website since returning to the United States in early September of 2002. Few of the articles and commentaries were more than a thousand words in length, and only half of them dealt with Iraq and George W. Bush. I haven’t been prolific, and I’ve tried to avoid acting the fool when I did manage to write for readers. My average yearly (published) output during the past five years equals that produced weekly by many other writers. However, prior to my exile in America, I did wander for years throughout the Middle East and the Balkans, learning my craft and, ultimately, producing words and pictures–telling stories of people suffering from war–that were of sufficient quantity (and quality) to qualify me as a working journalist.

I was not blathering (nor was I benign) during the years I spent covering conflicts. Winter’s diagnosis/accusation is incorrect, has pissed me off, and deserves a second opinion.

For instance, a few days ago, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi used the term “war without end” while commenting on the fiasco in Iraq. Pelosi prattled on about a war that began in January 1991 and, after more than sixteen years of lines in the sand, shock and awe, death and destruction, she now claims there is no light at the end of the tunnel. On 3 June 1992, I published an article–based on a visit to Iraq–in my hometown newspaper. The article concluded with the following paragraph:

“We are human beings,” cried the old man of Baghdad, caught in the crossfire of a war without end.

Blather? Presentiment? Plagiarism? The Baltimore-born daughter of a big city mayor lagged way behind a Baltimore-born son of a sea captain in understanding the predictable consequences of the Iraqi debacle. In 2006, the American electorate finally convinced the new Democrat Speaker to alter her stance, and she now opposes continuing the war against Iraq. In the spring of 1992, the words of an old man, spoken while standing on a street in Baghdad, had strengthened my conviction that the attack on Iraq was only the opening gambit of another dark chapter of American history.

Winter, the man who has caused my discontent, stood in front of me. The expression on his face was sympathetic, but his words had hit me like a punch in the belly. I knew he wanted some kind of response, but my reverie continued.

Americans as disparate as Representative John Murtha, Senator James Webb, and Senator Chuck Hagel have used their experience as veterans of the Vietnam War to carve out careers as politicians and, in recent years–based upon their previous service in the military–slice and dice the incompetence of the Bush administrations prosecution of the war against Iraq. On 19 June 1991, just three months after the end of the beginning of the war, the Jordan Times published the first article I wrote as a card-carrying journalist. An excerpt from the final paragraph predated–by a decade–the current observations of the afore-mentioned elected officials:

“When this orgy of self-congratulation ends, and the truth about this Middle East mis-adventure begins to filter through the blue smoke and mirrors created by the covert foreign policy of George Bush [the elder], the opinion polls might possibly show a change in the attitude of the American people. The minority who opposed this war will be joined by many others whose pride in accomplishment will be replaced by anger and shame. Just like Vietnam.”

Blather cancer, my ass. Winter was wrong and, as I let my mind wander, remembering what I had written, I realized that I was right when I refused to be conned by the Bush Family. Fool me twice? Nope. Not by the father, not by the son. For sure, not by the son.

On 11 September 2001, I was traveling with friends through the mountains of Macedonia, reporting on the aftermath of the Macedonian civil war, and the travails of Kosovo. For more than a decade, the Balkan Wars held sway in newsrooms and television studios. During those years, the war against Iraq–the sanctions, the aid to Saddam’s enemies, the air strikes–was relegated to the inside pages of newspapers, and televised snippets of video footage showing warplanes dropping bombs and firing rockets. When I learned that the World Trade Center towers had crumbled to the ground, my initial reaction was horror. It didn’t take long, though, for me to understand that the media had forgotten where the Balkans were located, and man-made thunder and lightning were about to descend on the Middle East.

My exile to America was about to begin. On 17 May 2002, in an article published by Counterpunch, I wrote about the last days of my reporting from southeast Europe. I couldn’t avoid including a few paragraphs concerning the perfect storm developing in and around Iraq:

“When the American media jumped on former President Bush’s bandwagon in 1990, the people of the world were able to watch as most journalists slavishly reported, as fact, every falsehood conjured up by the United States government and their obsequious allies. The lies and obfuscation during Bush War I should make most Americans wary of what their current government pronounces and their media report during Bush War II.

Truth is the first casualty of war, and lies are the bandages used by politicians, diplomats and military leaders to hide their failures and misdeeds and the subsequent true consequences of war. Media representatives who aid in covering up the unpleasant facts of life during war are propagandists who see, hear and speak jingo. In war-weary Macedonia, as in war-crazed America, there were a few journalists who, as patriotic citizens, believed they had to help kill the truth, casualties be damned.”

My daydreaming about the past faded out, and I was ready to confront Winter with the cold, hard facts about the blather cancer that continues to grow, not in my limited writings, but in the Bush White House. As I began to object, Winter interrupted me, and repeated his comments about malignant tumors, death, and timetables.

“You’ve got about two years to live, James”

Huh?

“If you don’t have the operation soon, you’ll be dead in two years.”

I stared at Dr. Winter. My jaw dropped, but I didn’t make a sound.

“You have bladder cancer.”

I shut my mouth, opened my ears, and breathed a sigh of relief. I only have bladder cancer. My work, my words, my passion weren’t being questioned. The urologist was talking about medical issues and, foolishly, when I mistakenly heard the word blather, I assumed the worse.

JAMES T. PHILLIPS can be contacted at jamestphillips@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:
August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail