By John Cory
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Sunday 22 June 2003
It was a unique death. Nearly eight years ago now. Dave was only 32. He was the last of my truly close personal friends, and his death was as sudden as it was unique.
Dave was a good heart, would-be pirate, and passionate failure at golf though he loved the game. He always had his hand out to help others. Just the way he was.
Laid off, running out of money, my old $500 car was on its last legs when Dave told me to bring a case of beer to the house and he would help me fix the old girl and keep her running. That was Dave. He would build you a barn for a beer.
After we had torn it all down and re-assembled the afflicted parts, consumed most of the beer, and shared adventures and dreams, Dave fired up the engine. It purred like a fat longhaired cat. And then I saw them. A few odd o-rings, some screws and nuts from various engine parts, still sitting on the workbench. Hey Dave, what are these? I asked. The engine still purring, he gave me a lopsided oops kind of grin, took a swig of beer and winked, Spare parts, he said.
Dave had little brook for politicians. All a politician does is stick his finger up his butt and fart to see which way the wind is blowing. He was pithily colorful.
And then Dave died. He had been helping friends build a hunting cabin when he took ill. Hours after being admitted to the hospital he lapsed into a coma. Over the next two weeks his wife and a few of us friends split shifts, sitting by his bed, holding his hand, talking to him, playing his favorite Jimmy Buffet songs, desperately trying to reach through the coma and drag him back to life.
His wife and I sat listening to the doctor explain what had happened. It was rare, only half a dozen cases in the medical journals. For whatever reason, Dave s body had generated a false signal to his brain that there was a virus in his system. The brain told the lymph and blood systems so his body began producing antigens to fight the non-existent infection. The problem was worsened by the fact that the body could not balance the attack, could not produce the good agents that normally maintain healthy cells while controlling the antiviral cells. The bottom line was that his body had betrayed him, sending false signals that produced overpowering agents that now, unable to find a real virus, had begun to attack the healthy parts of Dave s body. It had mercifully put him into a coma, protecting him from painful agony while it destroyed his life.
America has this affliction.
Recently I came across an interview with Matt Labash. He is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard. The interview was originally given to the Web site, Journalismjobs.com, but I read it at TomPaine.com.
In the interview Labash was asked, "Why have conservative media outlets like The Weekly Standard and Fox News Channel become more popular in the past few years?"
Labash s response was chillingly insightful, "Because they feed the rage. We bring the pain to the liberal media. I say that mockingly, but it's true somewhat.... While these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity, the conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective.... It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket."
The virus message has been sent to the brain.
In the heady days of impeachment, the pious Republicans marched in and out of Sunday morning television to announce, It s not the sex it is the lying about sex. But these guardians of truth now sleepwalk through the steady lies about WMD and war and death. And the banner of respect for the rule of law is trampled under greedy self-serving parades.
Out in California, it seems the GOP did not like the last election. You know how Republicans hate actual vote counting. A recall movement is afoot to undo the election, funded and supported by questionable GOP groups. Apparently if the GOP can t manipulate the courts and ballot box, they are willing to overthrow democratically elected governors via petitions.
In Texas, the GOP is working hand-in-hand with White House advisor Rove to redistrict the state into a more favorable Republican stronghold. Normal redistricting occurs every ten years with the census, which was just done in 2000. But Republicans know that voters need the right people to vote for and this will show them just who is in charge and election worthy. As Tom DeLay declared recently, I am the federal government.
The virus message now spreads and reproduces.
Everybody knows that money is free speech. That is why minorities like the wealthy need tax cuts. If you are rich you are a valuable minority and deserve affirmative action programs. If you are rich, your vote is important. The poor only need jobs to pay their fare share of taxes instead of slacking off.
The media needs to be deregulated in order to force more competition and let the free-market forces help the consumer. That is the GOP reasoning. Mergers mean only two things; increased consumer fees to pay for the merger and job layoffs to improve cash flow from the merger. Like Bruce Springsteen sang, 57 channels and nothing on.
The great Pundit Pooh-Bahs chatter from inside the electronic clubhouse. They can tell by the cover or the author, which books you should read theirs. They don t even need to read a book to know its full of lies such is their divination skill. As Phil Ochs wrote in his song The Party:
The egos shine like light bulbs, so bright you cannot see them.
Blind each other blinder than a sandbox.
And the conversation sparkles as their wits are dipped in wine,
Dinosaurs on a diet, on each other they will dine.
Then they pick their teeth and they squelch a belch saying:
"Darling you tasted divine."
The brain is confused and dazed as the coma sets in.
Opposition swirls and squiggles around chasing its tail, unable to respond. Looking for Democrats or the Democratic Party to balance the greed and gluttony of the GOP? Wondering why the Democratic Party let the GOP get away with sliming a true war hero like Max Cleland? How can anyone stand by and watch the dismantling of the Constitution? Because they all mill about with sheepish smiles hoping the growing mess will magically turn into spare parts they can use later. Sorry guys, you don t have the class or Dave s charm to be able to pull that off.
The false virus signal intensifies and the body fights the only way it knows how, it devours itself.
Pundits claim Bush is set for re-election. Another soldier dies in Iraq. Mission accomplished. Take that Iran and you Dixie Chicks. The Taliban returns to Afghanistan but who cares? Pundits claim Bush is set for re-election. It has been 640 days since Bush said, Osama dead or alive. States are facing fiscal crises not seen since the days of the Great Depression. Keep those troops in Iraq; at least it s a steady job. Keep an eye on your neighbor make sure they are the right kind of American. And don t worry about making mistakes when you vote next year, the GOP will correct it for you. The pundits claim Bush is set for re-election. The Democrats say, Huh?
Dave is dead. Loving husband, doting father of two boys, and roguish chum, rest in peace my friend.
Me? I m puffing on a Havana while listening to Chris Rhea sing, This ain t no upwardly mobile freeway, oh no. This is the road to hell.