The Scoop

Rest in Pieces

By Bob Harris

THIS WEEK MARKS the 50th birthday of the Central Intelligence Agency. And they’re having one heck of a party. But don’t ask for directions. These are the same guys who couldn’t figure out that Vietnam isn’t Chinese, China isn’t Russian, and Russians aren’t superhuman. And don’t ask when the party’s over. They couldn’t foresee the fall of the shah or the end of the Cold War.

They’re probably not gonna know.

Keep an eye on the parking valets–Contras, Mujaheddin, and Hmong from Laos–or you’ll never know what a police dog might sniff out in the back of your car. And don’t talk to the bouncers. They’re SAVAK, DINA, Guatemalan G-2, and a dozen other “internal security” organizations. Just keep your eyes down on the way in, OK?

Once you’re in the door, stay away from the girls. Hookers are a great way to get blackmail on people. And don’t even think about the punch bowl. Two sips and you might wake up strapped to a gurney with a field telephone clamped to your tongue, a tape loop of dogs barking in your ears, and one of the MK/ULTRA guys chanting the word kill in your face.

If the host says hello, stick to the small talk. Remember, they helped imprison Mandela, knocked off Allende, and targeted De Gaulle and Nehru. These folks don’t exactly do political debate. However, if you’re feeling jaunty and just can’t help yourself, ask politely what the whole shindig is for. Truth is, they don’t know anymore. The last three directors were asked that very question during confirmation hearings, and not one had a coherent response.

But still, the guest list is impressive–world leaders like Noriega, Suharto, and Mobutu; bankers from the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and even BCCI. And in the VIP section, see the old guys in the German uniforms? They’re the real big shots, here from the start–fought the Russkies so hard during World War II that the CIA smuggled ’em right in, got ’em good jobs, and even now almost nobody knows about it 50 years later.

Ooops, there, I’ve said too much. Look, enjoy the party. After all, you’re paying for it.

HEY! JUST WHAT EXACTLY are we gonna do about America’s No. 1 problem? It’s a crisis so severe that some people think we should even give up some of our constitutional rights to combat it.

You know what I’m referring to, right? No? Not drugs or crime or the decline of education. I’m talking about our long national nightmare, the one that touches the lives of everyone from Seattle to Maine. Not hunger or poverty or unemployment. Geez, come on–the problem . . .

I’m referring, of course, to . . . paparazzi. Oh. That long national nightmare. Excuse me, but paparazzi are only a problem for people who’ve devoted their whole lives to becoming famous enough to merit paparazzi. They knew the deal going in, and if they don’t like it, they can get a job like the rest of us tomorrow and they’ll be out of the papers in a week.

Yeah, what happened to Princess Di in France was a tragedy. But then, last I checked, France is not part of the United States, and as the French have discovered, making it illegal didn’t stop it anyway. You want laws? We already have laws against trespass and harassment. What else do you need?

Oh, sure, some big thinkers like Sonny Bono say that we can chip off a chunk of the First Amendment just this once, and the rest of it will stay up just fine. But do you really want to potentially give up a newspaper’s right to report on stuff like the Gary Hart/Donna Rice thing or which politician is meeting with which lobbyist, just so George Clooney can feel OK about going to Spago with his shirt untucked?

There’s a better answer. Boycott the sleazebag press–including the major papers and TV networks when they act that way–and give your money and time only to responsible reporting. You’ll put the bad guys out of business and still have a free country.

Gee, a free-market solution. That’s allegedly what small-government types like Sonny Bono are supposed to believe in. Assuming they believe in anything.

I GREW UP WATCHING the Cleveland Browns play football in old Municipal Stadium. You couldn’t have asked for a lamer name for a ballpark. You might as well have called it Ordinary Field or Generic Arena. But so what? We were there to watch a ballgame. Municipal was just fine.

Well, old Municipal Stadium is gone, and so is any chance we’ll ever see a name like that again. The Oakland Raiders’ place is now called the UMAX Coliseum. Riverfront is now Cinergi Field. Candlestick? 3COM Park.

I can’t be the only one who’s getting fed up with having every square inch of American life sold for ad space. We lose something when we surrender Joe Louis for Alltel. I’ll take RFK over RCA, TWA, or ARCO any day.

OK, I know, it’s a free country. If you can, you’re perfectly free to persuade the San Diego Padres into paying you to wear a tonsure and hairshirt. Maybe you can even sweet-talk some Internet start-up into tattooing its website address on your forehead.

And there’s always money to be made by auctioning off the naming rights to our children. “This one, the teenager, is Commodore– he’s our oldest–and these are the twins, Yahoo and Java.”

Now that I mention it, how long do you think it’ll be until somebody actually does that?

From the Sept. 17-24, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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