JAMES WRITES a weekly column readers can respond to:
"Journalism is a despicable trade. I know this because I practice it„but
only part-time„because there is no earthy reason to allow one's self to
have to live on such painfully wretched means. I have known this as fact
for over 20 years now. I knew it when I wrote for my high school newspaper,
college newspaper, and every publication since. It's not so much the reporting
or writing, or even the act of putting those two talents together to disseminate
reasonable information, but the inevitable sycophantic regurgitation of
all that is crude and inane." - jc from Fear No Art ›
it's important to point out that Donald Rumsfeld has gone insane.
I think it's important to point out that Donald Rumsfeld has gone insane.
His Meet the Press, 2/24/02 appearance frightened me in ways that is hard
to discern at the moment, but suffice it to suggest that he is clinically
mad and currently has the power of two Caesars and Benito Mussolini thrown
in for good measure.
No American citizen should have to suffer through anything like that without
a network banner warning or a scrolling marquee underneath.
Jesus, I felt like those crazed farmers after the "War of the Worlds"
broadcast for most of the morning before a phone call from Georgetown
jerked me back to reality.
"See that beautiful maniac, Rumsfeld?" he said with preternatural
glee. "Goddamnit he's good."
I only broach this because my concern is always with national interest
and not with the radical impulses of the foreign press. Rumor of the Pentagon
leaking false stories doesn't alarm my journalistic sensibilities, mainly
because I sold them not long after college for a case of Genesee Cream
Ale and a moped. On the contrary, I believe the more unstable the voice,
There were times when the loose-cannon approach served Ronald Reagan well.
The Soviets viewed the Reagan people as capable of anything, and that's
how Ronnie liked it. UN officials were sure the president would burn the
planet to cinder on what they dubbed his more severe "incontinent
days". And by 1986, Muammar Kadafi found himself waking up in the
middle of the night soaked with sweat and screaming about John Wayne gremlins
gnawing on his testicles with nightmarishly penetrating fangs.
Ordinarily appearing on a network news program as a jabbering lunatic
would be advantageous during times of global crisis, but it appears that
Rumsfeld is making major decisions on restructuring civil liberties under
the auspices that we are perpetually under attack. With the preponderance
of this latest blind national acceptance of anything that comes down from
the Pentagon or the FBI or the CIA these days, we had better be damn sure
those signing off on them aren't frothing at the mouth.
I don't believe Rumsfeld is aware that he is loosing his mind, and he
doesn't appear to be merely a blubbering ass like Jesse Helms or Ted Kennedy.
Normally, I would blame his of behavior on "interview stress"
caffeine overload or bad briefing, like someone forgetting to remind the
Secretary of Defense that the Pentagon has been bilking the American people
since its inception, and it probably isn't a good idea to try and sell
mercenaries as choir boys on holiday when the red light is on over the
The truth is there is a quagmire in Washington now that will be hard to
siphon with one session of congress or one election, and since the secretary
of defense is appointed, and not elected, and the current commander and
chief is going nowhere, we are confronted with serious issues.
Some congressmen have already begun running for re-election by blaming
the slag economy on the millions a day we're spending on super jets cruising
New York Harbor and the circumference of the Beltway. Others take credit
for riding the wave of sudden hysteria into what will no doubt mean the
kind of military spending that drove the national debt into NASA proportions
during the 80s'.
But it will be hard for Democrats to get a sniff while this near untouchable
Texan cowboy is mucking up the oval office with letters to the parents
of kids who keep getting charred on senseless military missions or the
pink slips for "special agents" who were pulling down six figures
a year not to find Osama bin Laden.
It is apparently not bothering enough Americans that the events of 9/11
has given the government a free reign to slowly turn this country into
subtle forms of marshal law, an Orwellian spectacle of never ending military
missions and infinite wars.
Anyone whose career is dependant on the outcome of the next phase of this
"war on terrorism" have to believe that if there is no concrete
move on Iraq by summer's end it becomes an ever harder to sell to the
American people, the crumbling Arab coalition and the Pentagon itself.
Rumsfeld's Sunday morning television stint notwithstanding, there is a
certain air of John Mitchell bluster to his press conferences that set
off alarms here at The Desk. This "holier than thou" Vince Lombari
shtick has gone from wonderfully eccentric to annoyingly pedantic. His
snide remarks broke up press row when Afghani caves were being smoked
daily for two months, but in the glare of this latest military hiatus
they sound like juvenile smoke screens. Meanwhile Muslim women are being
molested at airports and any protest against racial profiling is suddenly
a hint of un-American activity.
Tom Ridge, director of the Office of Homeland Security, has taken that
title to filter every possible panic the FBI sniffs to the point of hysteria.
Of course there will be threats at major events, the Super Bowl, the Winter
Olympics, a Britney Spears afternoon jog. But what Americans don't know
is that this has been happening for decades, and because your government
failed to protect us initially, we are stumbling toward a third world
has done is raise the level of terror, its exact directive. Now we may
be living in terror of our own government.
And this is a government currently being run domestically by attorney
general, John Ashcroft, Ridge and Rumsfeld and Pentagon officials who
have been on an unnatural level of readiness for six months. This is apparently
too much pressure of for these boys, and if not, they really ought to
prepare their spokesmen better.
The press cannot be trusted to uncover the truth on any of this.
The news channels have been reduced to beauty pageants and piss fights
between the left and right, and the New York Times is now soliciting unmarried
freelancers to cover Middle East events since the video slaughter of Wall
Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl.
It is not a safe time to be an editor and chief when the good reporters
are asked to stand down and wear flag pins and the freelance warriors
are taking their lives in their hands just showing up for work.
For me it will be a comfortable ride, and I will not be swayed.
I've fortified Fort Vernon and put the cats on full alert. And thank the
gods of journalism I cloak myself in this weekly column so I don't have
to work press conferences or damned piker leads any longer.
Oh yeah, and my wife's bullhorn privileges have been suspended until further
© James Campion March 6th 2002
Campion 2002 'Mr Reality Check'
Previously by James
HOW THE APPLE WAS WON
KEN KESEY RIP
ISRAEL - Blinded by the light?
to James Campion articles
© James Campion 2001
collection of jc's columns, essays, letters, e-mails, and in-dept
magazine and newspaper pieces from the late-nineties; Fear No Art
swerves, ducks, and lays heavy punches with every page. No one is
spared from the damaged arenas of politics and celebrity. In the
tradition of his heroes and inspiration; Lenny Bruce, H.L. Mencken,
Hunter Thompson, George Carlin, and other contemporary satirists,
jc uses wit and cruel visions to strip the hypocrisy of our world
bare. Yet, this is more a collection of entertaining revelry than
a dirge of preaching. Fear No Art burns the eyes and touches the
heart, and at times, does it simultaneously.
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