41 Years in the Land of the Free
Just a few days back I hit 41, For weeks I’ve been trying to write some devastatingly interesting column about the Bush fiasco de jour and have found myself speechless. Am I wrung out, exhausted, fed up with all of this political nonsense – nonsense that is paid for daily in lives, blood, suffering, in lines of The Constitution blacked out by a magic marker?
Is this what happens when you turn 41?
I lost my column in the local paper last year and I felt like St. Sebastian porcupined with a hundred arrows, all painful, none fatal. Months passed while I worked with a friend to get this website up so I could have my shameless soapbox and a toy megaphone, a place where I could go back to being the voice crying in the wilderness. A place where I could go back to shamelessly exaggerating my own importance and take myself as seriously as any other grandiose bastard with a moderate ability to type and glue words together into half-intelligible sentences.
I’m 41, now. Who the Hell am I fooling? I’m another year closer to my own death, which will now be sooner than later. Once I could imagine my final moment suspended indefinitely, as if I were on permanent reprieve from Kronos and his scythe, but that fantasy has died. It has been the first casualty of the cutting instrument that will soon relieve this world of the burden called Richard Van Ingram.
Tapping out another column after these long months away from the keyboard on a subject – politics – that frankly wears on my nerves and leaves me frustrated has proven harder than expected. And starting over, writing something to launch into the void of cyberspace instead of seeing it appear in newsprint is a grave disappointment. Tangible print got read, the ink rubbed off on people’s hands and heads and hearts, got into their bloodstream and caused them to think and respond. This project of mine here is liable to be as much of a waste of time as anything else I’ve ever done on the net.
A waste of time – a 41 year-old man does not have much time to waste anymore and here I am rolling dice that my clicking these keys will actually result in something people read, though reading is not the favorite sport of them that scan the wasteland of internet sites scouting a fix for their multimedia hungers. The net is in a hurry – it doesn’t have much time either.
And here I am creating a site that is more like a journal from the 1700s than a proper web zine, a site that asks of you the one thing in short supply here in Electroland: patience. Patience enough to read these things I’ve put here, patience enough to care about what I’m pointing out, patience enough to take some time to e-mail your Congressperson and demand some changes be made before it’s too late to drag ourselves back to sanity and morality, if, in fact, we didn’t hit the “too late” mark 3 or 4 years ago.
It’s difficult to light the indignant fire that used to burn in my guts every time I heard our government lie to us, every time I heard our President issue commands and threats that were, to say the least, aimed more at showing the world who the Biggest Kid On The Block was rather than demonstrating whose was the coolest and wisest head on the international scene.
And now that the Republicans took a beating in November 2006, I have listened to President Bush say that he was ready to change course and listen to “input” from many diverse sources, ready to work in a “bi-partisan fashion” on the issues of the day. I listened only the other day when the man said that he thought debate and disagreement about the war in Iraq was tolerable and was not a sign of being un-patriotic, nor was it to be condemned as showing lack of support for the troops in the field.
And then I read last night that President Bush says that debate is well and good, but that whether Congress actually supports the troops will be shown in whether they fund his strategies or not. In other words, “Talk pointlessly if you like, but don’t even think about reigning me in.” I heard Tony Snow say that all this free speech and debate and disagreement with Bush by Congress, while somehow still “a good thing,” is also giving comfort to the enemy. He kept saying, in effect, that Congress needs to be very careful what it says.
Perhaps Mr. Bush would like to send over a script telling the Legislators what to say so they can avoid “giving comfort to the enemy.” After all, that’s pretty much what the White House did for the Republican Congress from ’01 through ’06, didn’t it?
In other words, George W. Bush and his gang of verbal thugs have not changed one iota. He does not value real dissent, he does not listen to points of view other than his own except long enough to send out an attack dog to vilify the messenger. He has not changed his infamous “course:” His interpretation of the nature of the world, the Middle East, the “War on Terror,” and the power of Executive Branch has not moved at all from the fortress-like spot he’s held since 9/11 stole our collective ability to demand proof and accountability from our leaders.
Unless Congress stands up, shakes off the damned right-wingers, stops believing a word that comes out of George W. Bush’s mouth, cuts him off at the knees with some legislation and exercises the oversight available through the power of the purse, God only knows what manner of bloodbath we will see by the year’s end or the end of next year. The man is on a mission, he has to prove a point – that he is infallible and all powerful – and that criticism of his beliefs must be ignored or downplayed; he is willing to write his footnote to history in the blood and gore of our sons and daughters and the sons and daughters of innocent people caught in the gear teeth of his merciless war machine.
Why write about this? It is the same thing every week, every month. The Administration is responsible for some atrocity or denigration of our civil rights, denies it, is caught red-handed, and then glares at the critics and calls them friends of the terrorists for daring to expose our weaknesses. It is becoming tiresome. And as long as the media and Congress and the Courts play Bush’s game, walk on eggshells in his presence, and are afraid to take The Constitution and use it like a rolled up newspaper to beat the behind of this dog that refuses to be housebroken, refuses to know his place is at the end of a leash held by the American people, not the other way around – until that happens, the news will remain tiresome and repetitive.
41 year-old men will wonder why they feel the need to write about it at all.
Richard Van Ingram
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