Flavin’s Corner

Tunnel Vision

Vice President Dick Cheney doesn’t have retinitis pigmentosa (retinal dystrophy) or glaucoma. However, less than twenty-four hours after refusing to comment on the existence of a tunnel allegedly dug under the Soviet (now Russian) Embassy in Washington, D.C. during the non-Democratic ‘80s, he was admitted to a hospital and underwent angioplasty to repair a damaged artery. Besides heart disease, Cheney also suffers from a unique form of tunnel vision often associated with Republicans, third-world dictators, and some taxi-drivers. They sometimes see what’s directly in front of them, yet can’t discern the so-called big picture. Maybe a cure will be discovered at one point. Say, four years from now?

Though its construction may never be confirmed, this wouldn’t be the first time Republicans have tried to spy on the Soviets by digging a tunnel. During the Eisenhower years, a tunnel was built under the Soviet Embassy in Berlin [Note: halfway down webpage.] to monitor military telephone calls. Apparently a Brit double-agent told the Soviets about the tunnel and to protect the identity and presence of the spy, the Soviets didn’t do anything about the tunnel for over a year. The Eisenhower tunnel fiasco (no, not any incident in Colorado) was/is part of a general arrogance on the part of Republicans (i.e., Nixon being busted for wiretapping while he was Ike’s vice president). It may be understood as a consuming, politically demagogic desperation of wanting to do something, anything, and the really poor choices subsequently made.

I experienced "tunnel vision" recently. Last Saturday I was driving a friend’s car (as my car is critically wounded and in need of an engine transplant) through Boston’s Callahan Tunnel, on my way home to Salem, when traffic stalled for no readily apparent reason. I attributed the jam to someone’s poor decision making skills and began to read the latest issue of the Nazi/Mormon fantastic archaeology magazine, The Ancient American, which I’d purchased a couple of hours previously. Did I write "read"? I’m sorry; I meant I looked at the table of contents for anything by the ex-neo-Nazi, Frank Joseph Collin (of Skokie infamy), perused a few letters to the editor, laughed at the new Mormon ads, and was finished with the issue in a few minutes. And, the traffic was still not moving.

Earlier, I’d picked up some old mail that wasn’t forwarded to my new address, and among the letters and bills was an envelope from the I.R.S. I wasn’t looking forward to opening the envelope, as the I.R.S. isn’t known for dropping a taxpayer a line or two to say "hi" and inquire how things are going. As I was frustrated with being stuck in traffic almost a hundred feet below Boston Harbor, it seemed like as good as time as any to see what the I.R.S. wanted. It was a request to know my latest address. No threats, no penalties or audit; the letter just asked for current information. I think the firemen walked by at that time. The hundreds of people abandoning their cars and fleeing the tunnel occurred shortly thereafter. My heart was still racing from the I.R.S. letter and I was beginning to get angry, as the traffic jam was interfering with my schedule and I’d much to do in Salem to ensure a successful Saturday night of debauchery and anthropological research.

A fellow knocked on my window and informed me that a car was on fire ahead and everyone was instructed to walk out of the tunnel.  I thanked him and slowly collected my things.  It wasn’t good.  Sure, getting everyone out of harm’s way was necessary, but I was immediately concerned with getting everyone back in their cars after the fire was out.  I stepped out of the car, locked it, and watched the smoke waft toward me.  Reluctantly, I began to walk backwards out of the tunnel.

The thick smoke engulfed me, I walked faster to the North End-side of the tunnel to join the others, but stopped before I reached them, as it was pretty damned cold outside, it being winter in Boston and all of that.  I walked towards the smoke and stood halfway between the cold and the smoke.  A hundred cars before me, hundreds of people behind me, and I was annoyed at the inconvenience.  Ouch!  Here I was with hundreds of others in the same situation, however all I could think about was my own troubles!  I sensed I was being selfish, but didn’t let the feeling get to me.  As I was pacing back and forth, the tunnel’s ventilation system cleared the smoke and the firemen told us it was safe to return to our cars.

It was over a half-hour before any cars began moving, as some tourists had darted into the North End for slices of pizza and their cars had to be towed to allow the traffic to resume.  Start to finish, the whole incident was about an hour and ten minutes in duration.  The next day a local paper had a brief mention of the fire, with a quote by a Boston Fire Department spokesman saying, “We were fortunate it happened on a Saturday when there was no rush hour.”  Sure, there was no rush.  I had all the time in the world.  The only fortunate thing about the whole matter was that I didn’t get a speeding ticket on my return to Salem!

Who’s to say if it was guilt over not commenting on the tunnel under the Soviet Embassy that gave Cheney a pain in his chest and sent him to the hospital?  His doctors say he’s fine, he should be able to finish out his term, and not be the eighth vice president to die in office.  I mean, George Clinton openly despised serving under President James Madison (whose estate home was recently featured in the movie Hannibal), which isn’t the case between Cheney and Bush.  They admire one another, right?  Two peas in a pod.  Cut from the same cloth.  Diners at the same table.  They both have tunnel vision in regards to the future robbing of America.  All they see is profits for their favorites at the expense of the rest of us.  I can’t wait for a cure!

Still feeling claustrophobic,

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