The Tragedy Of Political Conversion, Part II
But, as with most of the women converts to Conservatism out there, I liked her a lot and respected a courage stretched to the breaking point by both inner and outer demons, which echoed my own struggle at the time with improperly medicated mental illness. I still like her a lot, and I still respect that courage.
We are now at a place where all that came between this woman and I on the comment pages of her blog, may finally be maturing into an unrecoverable bad end, leaving nearly 2,300 American soldiers dead, thousands more maimed, and close to $245 billion dollars poured down the toilet.
I do not want this end. I did not seek this end when the Iraq invasion of March 2003 galvanized me into Liberal political activism and into the search for a vehicle which this blog has become. I did not and do not want Iraq to dissolve into anarchy after being freed from tyranny.
But if it must come, I want it laid at the door of the one man almost totally responsible for it. I want it laid at the door of the Oval Office. And I want the people who helped return him to that office to take a little bit of responsibility for their own actions.
And even if the bad end doesn't materialize, it is not clear that we can, on our own, bring it to any end at all. I'd like for the people that cheered this endless enterprise on to take a little responsibility for that, too.
In the 2004 election, I obtained nothing of what I wanted for this country. My friend below obtained everything she wanted. Having obtained it, with her own self-lacerating emotional violence as the private price for it, she then turned her back on it, abdicating any public involvement in its consequences.
Can there be any greater political tragedy? Can there be anything worse for a truly free nation than a politically active citizen whose 9/11 Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, after tearing her in two and leaving pieces of her in its wake, was finally resolved by abandoning a citizen's commitment to become involved and to speak out? I don't think so.
Here is where it started:
What I remember most about the moments after the news broke was my drive home from work. I fled my federal office building in a panic that day, still not sure if more attacks were coming, if they were happening elsewhere, if the world was ending. I drove east, towards my home, but kept looking back in my rear view mirror at the brown, smoky haze filling the sky. My hands were shaking and tears were streaming down my face and I was frightened, so frightened, because we didn't know. We did not know what would come next, or if that was the end. I looked at every car that drove next to me, at every other driver at the stop lights. They were all crying or wide-eyed or clutching their steering wheel so hard I could see their knuckles turning white.
What I remember most about the subsequent days is the sky and the silence. The roar of planes is a constant soundtrack when you live so close to an airport. But for those days, four of them I believe, there was not a sound coming from the skies. The silence was so huge, so cavernous, and the only thing you could see when you looked up to the sky was thin wisps of smoke rising from the west. Those days seemed like they were lived out in a dream world.
November 1, 2001
jesuschristonapogostick. i need a drink.
When the hell will this madness end? Please, people of our government, for christ sake, please stop announcing every so called "credible" threat you receive. 90% of people in this country are hanging onto their sanity by a god damn string and if you keep blaring out every single whisper of impending doom, we are going to have mayhem on our hands.
So you think someone wants to blow up the bridges in California. What good is going to do to tell everyone this? Aren't we on the highest possible alert already? This is what, defcon 5 or some shit like that? Does this thing go to 11? Can you turn it up just a notch? No? Then shut the fuck up already. What is the purpose in scaring the bejesus out of everyone if you can't do a fucking thing about it. Station some guards, close the bridges or whatever you have to do, but do it quietly, forcibly if you have to, just do it without the damn fanfare.
December 17, 2001
Two days ago, bin Laden was said to be surrounded. I actually heard a talking head on tv say that Ol Dirty Laden should be dead in 24 hours. So today, in a statement that's sure to boost the confidence of Americans, it was announced that ODL's whereabouts is "anyone's guess." I'm guessing the guy already shaved his beard, put on a pair of khakis and a floral shirt, and is taking a garden tour of Hawaii right now. Wanna play Guess where ODL is now? We all put in a dollar and whoever comes the closest to where he's found wins it all. If you want to be altruistic about it, you can donate the winnings to the Coalition to Clean up After We Bomb the Hell Out of You fund.
May 31, 2002
Our current administration, fighting off accusations of incompetence regarding the knowledge beforehand of the plans leading up to September 11, have indeed pounced. They have taken their own mishandling of the situation and turned it into an towards turning this country into a police state.
July 14, 2002
Conversely, one peace activist, one person who works tirelessly to promote understanding, does not, sadly, represent all who are his religion or race or culture. There is still a lot of work to be done. There is still a long way to go before we are a peaceful planet. As long as we keep combatting the teaching of hatred and fear with the teaching of understanding and tolerance, we are doing our work. We are promoting peace. One voice, one hundred voices, one thousand voices. If the voices keep growing, we can make a chorus of peace.
You cannot hide from your feelings forever. And when they break out from the dark place where you have shoved them, in denial of them, because they do not fit how you think you really are, or how you think you really ought to be, they turn into demons which possess you. This is the first crack in the pacifist facade of my friend:
July 24, 2002
I have been sleeping in only fits and starts.
When I do sleep, it's fitful and restless and filled with nightmares. In between those frantic dreams are the moments when I toss and turn or just lay there and stare into the darkness. Sometimes, like today, I just get up for the day at 3am because going back to sleep would only mean going back to the nightmares of lost children, dead bodies, running, running, running.
I suppose it's not a thing a decent human being would do; to feel joy when someone dies. But what if that person was not a decent human being himself?....Should I still feel like the world is better off without them? As a supposedly civilized person, am I to mourn the death of someone who brought hate and violence upon the world?....
The military leader of Hamas is dead. I don't feel sympathy, I don't feel sorrow, I don't feel grief that the life of another human being was taken so violently. Salah Shehade was a terrorist.
What followed this is a bizzare interlude that begins on July 26 with my friend blogging 24 hours straight, without stopping, for charity; progresses to an unbelievable 30 days of anticipating a second marriage to a man 18 years younger than herself [and this on her actual 40th birthday!], and coming to grips with the bitter years of her first marriage and her divorce. The entire sequence of days, the stress level involved, and my friend's description of it inevitably remind me of the disorientation used to break down resistance to interrogation or to facilitate brainwashing.
August 1, 2002
In September, they swore to everyone that their main goal was to find Bin laden and bring him to justice - whatever brand of justice that would be. Now, almost a year later, they have no idea where he is - if he's alive - and they are dismissing the need to find him. It's not even a priority anymore. What happened to that whole dispensing justice on his ass thing?
Now I am going to spend the rest of the day trying to wash from my brain the image of Bin laden "operating his apparatus." I'm going to have one dickens of a time doing that.
August 6, 2002
In a month it will be here, that dreaded anniversary. Sure, it's just another day. There will be school and work and probably grocery shopping and I think there is a PTA meeting that night. Life goes on....
I dreamed last night of the funeral service I attended for a bomb squad member killed that day. Of all the moments revolving around September 11th, even the first realization of what was happening, even the news of Pete Ganci's death, even watching the towers crumble, the service for Dan Richards will always be the most surreal moment of my life.
The combination of the bomb-sniffing dogs making sure the church was safe, the ever present helicopters, the bagpipes and the secret-service type people standing on my neighbor's porch with rifles poised on their shoulders made the day almost like a dream.
Last night I dreamed that the guns went off. The dogs were barking. The helicopters were droning in my ears and I couldn't hear a thing anyone was saying. People were running from the church, screaming and waving their hands in the air. I couldn't find my kids. I rushed into the church, into flames and rubble and body parts strewn about like candy wrappers in a movie theater. There were fingers under a pew and spilled blood on the seats and the floor was sticky with bodily fluids and tears. I thought I saw my kids at the altar, so I crawled through the wreckage to get there but when I approached I saw that it was effigies of my children, hanging from the ceiling fan of the church.
August 20, 2002
On the list of things to do: Buy underthings. Shoes. Chain smoke. Haircut. Have panic attack. Pick Nancy up at airport. Shoes, damn it. DJ can't wear sneakers and he has no shoes. Shoes for me, shoes for DJ. Worry that my outfit doesn't stand up well next to Justin's $400 suit. Fuck that, I'm going to look great. And if I don't, you will all pretend I do. Cry. Chain smoke. Sacrifice a virgin to the weather gods. Drink. Drink. Smoke. Drink. Smoke. Pace. Take Excedrin. Take the Hello Kitty vibrator off the wedding registry list. Explain vibrator concept to relatives. Or not. Empty bank account. Empty wallet. Empty piggy bank. Write overdrawn checks. Execdrin, NyQuil, Marlboro Menthol Lights, Tequila. Check, check, check, check. Pick up Paxil from pharamcist. Oh christ, could you imagine if I ran out of Paxil now? Stop writing stream of concious thoughts. Vows. Write vows instead. Plan ceremony with comedian/judge. Turn 40. Get married....
Quite a few people have hinted to me that they think I may be suffering from PTSD. While I do exhibit some of the symptoms, they don't apply because I have been experiencing these things most of my life, not just post-9/11. Also, instead of going to great lengths to avoid reminders, I actively seek them out.
Yesterday, I did say something about avoiding the anniversary date all together and spending the day in an arcade. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that sticking your head in the sand does not make something go away. It just makes it darker. And I'm afraid of the dark. Which is probably why I watch so much news. It's good out here in the light. It's scary as hell, but I'd rather be scared and armed with knowledge than be scared and not know where the hell I am or what I'm doing there....
Anyhow. I am not suffering from PTSD, but thank you for caring enough to suggest I get help. I'm suffering from the same thing I have been afflicted with my entire life: a quest to know more. I cannot fight the good fight if I don't know what I'm up against. I cannot speak my mind coherently or debate the issues or suggest alternative solutions if I don't make the effort to know every side of the issue.
August 31, 2002
I've had quite a few of these; glancing through my dream journal I see at least twenty. They usually involve the same things - planes falling from the sky, loud noises, skies on fire. They don't always appear to be about September 11 but I know they are.
Last night, in my dreams, buildings crumbled. I felt every rumble, heard every roar, cried and despaired. It wasn't the twin towers that fell in this nightmare, but buildings that are even more familiar to me. The building where I work. The local hospital. The library, which, in the dream, was about fifty stories high instead of one. I saw the buildings from a very low perspective, as if I were laying on the ground. They all went in the same way. First, the sidewalk would rumble. People would start screaming and running, looking for friends and family while fleeing. Then, the building would start to fall apart, piece by piece, block by block, each block crumbling into smaller pieces on its way down. From my perspective it looked like the sky was raining huge chunks of cement.
September 06, 2002
I remember that Natalie took her first step on the first day of the Gulf War. She stood up in the living room and took one step towards the tv, tuned to the face of George Bush on CNN and then she plopped herself down, stared at the television and cried and I said, yes honey, I know. He makes me cry, too. She didn't take another step until March. I'm sure she was just traumatized by George. And here we are now, still being traumatized by a Bush, still facing the prospect of a war in the middle east, still worrying about gas embargos and terrorism. I imagine George the junior sitting in the oval office, staring at a picture of his daddy and wondering how to outdo him and he turns to his cabinet of evil and says Let's kick it up a notch!
Sometime between September 6 and September 9 the world split in two. Sometime between September 6 and September 9, after a year of replaying, over and over in the mind, the repeating images of a jet liner crashing into tall, proud buildings, and of those building collapsing into rubble, the terror of them, the terror in the word terrorism, finally broke through to the surface of her consciousness and exploded across her awareness in a clear, cold rage lasting for two full years:
September 9, 2002
I fear for the future of my children. I fear if they even have a future at all. I want them to have a life free of the dark cloud of terrorism. I want them to feel safe and free like I have for most of my life. I don't want them to shudder every time a plane passes overhead. I don't ever again want to have to explain to them why children from another country are dancing in the streets as we mourn...
They are still out there. The people who did this to the United States are still out there, still planning and plotting. And they are not the only ones. A commentator on television today compared Iraq to Eddie Haskell. Only thing is, while Eddie Haskell may have been annoying and arbrasive, he was mostly harmless. Iraq is not Eddie Haskell and we are certainly not the goofy little kid named Beaver.
We must stop them before they take what we have left away from us. We must stop them before my children have nothing to look forward to.
September 12, 2002
What did I derive from Bush's speech to the U.N. yesterday? I'll paraphrase:
Dear U.N., either you start enforcing the regulations you made years ago, or we are so out of here. Either way, we are going to kick some ass, with or without your blessing, with or without the blessings of any other country. Inspections? I don't need your stinkin' inspections!"
For the first time ever, I applauded our president. Ok, so I did it quietly and maybe I hid in the closet while I did it so no one would see me, but I applauded.
The question that remains is not will we but when will we.
September 13, 2002
The daring, intrepid assclowns at indymedia are at it again. This time they are slapping this bumper sticker on cars in the San Fran area.
Ok, you punk ass fucknozzles - If you ever dare try this over on the east coast, and you have the balls to attempt to stick one of those on my car, I will beat you to within an inch of your life and I will make sure the cops in their cars and the paramedics in their ambulances know that you think they are the root cause of September 11 and then we will all sit around and watch while you writhe and moan in pain.
Who the fuck are you people kidding? Do you mean to tell me that you all walk, ride bikes or mopeds? Oh yea, you don't need transportation when you are just punk ass kids who do nothing but protest the country that gives them the freedom to spout their radical views.
September 23, 2002
I used to be an idealist. I used to think that peace was the answer to everything and that if we worked hard enough, world peace could at last be found. I watched my older cousins protest the Vietnam war. I admired them at the time. I was only in grade school, I didn't know any better.
Give peace a chance is a nice sentiment, but it's not based in reality. I would like to know what the anti-war faction suggests to do as an alternative to getting into a war with Iraq. How do they propose we negotiate with a madman?...
My days of longing for peaceful solutions are over....I don't want to sit around and wait for concrete proof that Iraq intends to use their weapons of mass destructions on us, because the only proof we are going to get is when it's too late to do anything about it.
So now the clear, cold rage has expanded to include any potential target, foreign or domestic, standing in the way of "safety". As I pointed out in the first post of this series, one of the key events in 9/11 conversions such as these it the naive discovery of Betrayal By The Mainstream Media. The first glimmers of it start here.
September 19, 2002
Take the case of the mouth that shut down Miami. Here, we have a simple story. Woman overhears what she concludes to be a frightening conversation, does her patriotic duty and reports said conversation to authorities, police check out story, find there's nothing to be alarmed about, and everyone goes on their merry way. Right? Not quite the way it turned out, is it?
First the media reported the facts. Then they took the facts and turned it into a slogan-worthy story. You know, Terror in Miami, Tipster Terror, etc. Soap operas were interrupted, helicopters hovered and the country stared at CNN for hours, waiting for those bomb sniffing dogs to discover a weapon of mass destruction hidden inside of a backpack....
If we didn't watch or read or listen, there wouldn't be a need for catchy slogans tagged onto every disaster. They are only giving us what we want, which is to be riveted to the tv or the radio or our monitors, caught up in the fear of the moment.
We are the media's bitches.
September 26, 2002
My dream life is out of control.
We sat outside on the shore of an ocean that appears frequently in my dreams. It is a furious, gray ocean. Waves rise and fall and form whirpools when they crash into themselves. There is something lurking beneath the water, I have never been able to see what it is, but it frightens me every time. I think it might be fear itself.
I sit on a tree stump with Natalie and we stare at the blackening sky. There are explosions in the air - red, white, green, yellow sparks light up planets I have never seen before. A cacaphony of booms and whistles and bangs plays around us, and we eat popcorn and watch the sky explode.
The waves are lapping closer to us. The bombs are falling nearer to us. I tell Natalie that this is it, there's no stopping it now. She is not afraid. She stands on a log, arms outstretched, face tilted towards the fire in the sky, and starts belting out Skid Row songs. She turns her face towards me, hair flying in the firey wind, eyes lit by the glowing trails of bombs, and right before my eyes she turns into Ann Coulter.
October 31, 2002
Someone took me off their link list today. That in and of itself is no big deal. It's the reason why.
At first, it didn't bother me. But the more I looked at the reason, and the more I looked at one of the comments on the post regarding the reason, the more it hurt. See, the person wasn't de-linking A Small Victory. They were dismissing me. My views. My persona. My feelings.
I know things have changed around here. My world has changed in the last year and with that, I have changed. Obviously, the subject matter here would follow in that path....This is just me finding myself - finally, at 40 years old - finding my niche and finding where I'm comfortable.
For the next year the postings alternate sporadically with the adventures and humiliations of her private life, and with her persona of the with-it social and cultural critic. The posts up to the approach of another September 11 anniversary are short, pointed, and clearly under a writer's verbal control. But from the late Summer of 2003 to the Presidential election of 2004, the poster's rage builds up into a tower of words in every political post.
August 20, 2003
The Religion of Peace(tm) strikes again. And it won't be the last time. The War on Terror is mostly a war against militant Islamists and to deny that is to deny the fact that we need to protect ourselves against these people. Pandering to them and playing the P.C. game of being non-offensive only gets you more of what happened today.
Even though Rumsfeld and company issue threats and warnings every day, we should still pay attention. We can never let the idea of these threats fade, no matter how long the time is after a threat is revealed. These people have long memories and the patience of a lion stalking its prey.
Today Indonesia, tomorrow somewhere else. Thousands upon thousands will die across the world as some media organizations still cower to the politically correct crowd and refuse to use the word terrorist to describe the suicide bombers. Call it what it is. It's a Jihad against the world. Not against the United States, not against Indonesia, but against all of us who are not facing Mecca
August 26, 2003
I believe the cards are handed out by Susan Sarandon and, no, that is not the hightest honor. The highest honor belongs to those called Chomskyites, who get hemp plaques to hang in their bedroom.
If you flash the card at a restaurant, you get half price on all vegan meals. That whole parking thing is not required, as card-carrying members do not use gas-consumption vehicles. However, if you show up on a Segway or in an electric car, the first appetizer is free. And that oil change question is just silly. Members of the far-left do not consume oil! Ever! For anything!
If you get a card it would be best to carry it with you at all times so you don't get your ass knocked down by someone charging a Starbucks window with a brick. Just flash your card and he'll step out of your way. The cards are free (provided you join ANSWER first), they are emblazoned with a photo of Che and a Free Mumia! sticker and are good for life unless, like me, you decide to burn yours at some point in which case, make sure to use lots of oil.
September 29, 2003
The horrifying part of the dream was not that we were under attack; I dream that often. It wasn't even the way the attackers were marching down the street in formation, guns pointed, the desire to kill in their eyes.
It wasn't even the way we had to board up our houses to protect ourselves against these terrorists, or that I couldn't get to my kids, who were in the boarded up house next door without any adults to comfort them.
It wasn't the helicopters and warplanes zooming overhead, showering the street with fire and brimstone, nor was it the realization that we were all very close to dying in a most gruesome way.
The horrifying part was this: my insane obsession with blogging the whole thing.
As the streets ran with liquid fire and as my neighbors went down in a hail of poisoned bullets, I darted from house to house, looking for a way into any of them so I could get to a computer and blog what was happening in my town. I snapped pictures of enemy soldiers walking towards me with futurized weapons pointed at me. I hid in a garden, laying on my back with my camera pointed upwards, taking panoramic shots of the underbellies of huge flying machines that poured molten lava on top of my parents' home.
I went from house to house, trying to find a computer whose modem wasn't already down. I had to blog this. I had to post those pictures.
I emailed Glenn Reynolds to tell him what was going on. I emailed Ken Layne and even Hesiod and then I emailed Strongbad. I told them they needed to post my blog entry for me. I was obsessed.
And then, the sky fell and with it fell Arafat and Wesley Clark and they were holding hands and praying. They fell in the river of molten lava that my street had become and swam as if they were in a pleasant lakeside retreat. They each had a tropical drink floating on a tray next to them.
As the world around me burned and crumbled and the screams of my dying neighbors and crying children surrounded me, all I could think of was the hits I would get from blogging a first hand account of this disaster.
And then I threw up on a rose bush. I saw the face of Hilary Clinton in my blood-tinged vomit and I woke up, sweating, panicky and digusted with myself.
June 18, 2004
I am rounding a dangerous corner, one I've been approaching since Nick Berg's head was sliced off like that of an animal. Oh, hell. I've been approaching it since before that. I've probably crawled a bit closer every time a school bus exploded in Israel. What do we do? How do we stop this? Right now, in my anger, I want to go to war with the entire Middle East, save Israel. I want to annihilate them. I know it is unreasonable and I know it isn't right. I know it's a horrible thought, but it's there, at the tip of my brain, trying to get me to shout it out to the world. Kill. Them. All. In an hour or so I might feel different. I might not. The residual anger over Nick Berg stayed with me a for a while. Each time something like this happens, the anger dissipates slower and leaves a shadow behind. How long before the shadow is all that's left? I do not blame America. I do not blame George Bush. I blame people who have taken a religion and distorted, warped and molded it to fit their own homicidal, ugly needs. They have bloodlust. And that bloodlust has been handed down from father to son, and the resulting butchery of Islam is handed from mother to daughter and murder and justified barbarism goes on and on.
June 25, 2004
It appears to be a video of Arab children re-enacting the Nick Berg beheading. This is not the firs time I've seen young Arab children being taught to hate and kill Americans and/or Jews with glee. It won't be the last. But it horrified me so much that took away every ounce of good feeling I had left from the day. Those children are the future. Will they eventually become the adults who go after my own children? Will they one day come to America to fly planes into buildings or set off dirty bombs? So, I am raising my children to want peace, hope and prosperity for all nations, but there are children of other nations being raised to kill, kill, kill. How do we combat that? How can we still have hope for our future generations when our enemies are teaching their own kids to only hope for death to the infidels? Perhaps we cannot win. Not if the bloodlust and violence is handed down like that. Not if it is taught in schools - which was evident in pre-war Iraq, among other places - not if it is taught at Palestinian day camps, not if children are being taught to kill the Jews, kill the Americans, slice their heads off their necks. How do we instill hope in our own kids when it just might be a false sense of hope? What if we manage to take out al-Qaeda, take out al-Sadr's martyrs and instill a beautiful wonderful democracy in both Afghanistan and Iraq, only to have it all undone by the children of those martyrs and killers, who were educated by would-be suicide bombers and hateful murderers? Is this a war that we are destined to fight forever?
June 30, 2004
It's not a fringe thing, because I see and hear on a daily basis words from moderates and mainstream liberals that used to be used only by the fringe elements of their political parties. Perhaps the far right is engaging in these tactics as well. I don't know because I don't pay any attention to them. But I do pay attention to the left if only for the very fact that they hate me. And if you think like me, they hate you, too. They have declared themselves my enemy and, as such, I am obligated to pay attention to them. I imagine them as anger personified; a massive swarm of bad feelings and bitterness, all shouts and shrill screeches and phasers set on stun. They come at me (and when I say me, I mean anyone who is planning on voting for Bush) every day and no matter how I try to repel them, they will not back off. They are immune to facts, to truth, to reasoning. They beat you back with the only weapons they have: denial and distorted truth. No matter how many Iraqis you throw at them, they won't believe a word spoken by them. No matter how many statistics you hit them with, they will deny each one to the very end. No matter how much good news you give them, they will search out any tidbit of bad news to fight back with. They don't want to hear good news. It defeats their purpose. Give them a soldier telling them the truth and they will stick their fingers in their ears. What makes me so different from them, you ask? Well, while they are totally negative, I'm not totally positive. I recognize flaws within my party. I recognize the faults of George Bush. I don't deny that there are some days the news out of Iraq is disheartening. They won't say anything that strays from the basic tenet of their movement, which is: If it's good for Bush, it's bad for us. Their chants and mantras are nothing but bashing; their fight songs are funeral dirges. They are like goth teens gone wild. Death, despair, life sucks because you made it that way. What also makes me different is my hope.
August 9, 2004
So if Kerry wins, there will be further split in the political map of America. The left will split into two separate and very disparate portions. The ABBs will morph into the ABKs and the moderate Democrats will be left scratching their heads. They voted for this guy, but he doesn't really represent them. They succeed in getting Bush out of the White House, but in the end they're still not happy. Then what? Form another party? Seek out another candidate to push towards a 2008 run? Sadly, it's the ABBs who are the most vocal crowd in this whole carnival. They are most likely to be the ones crying that President Kerry sucks. One can only hope that these people never get their way. Because what they want in a candidate, and in this country, is something that would drive us to the brink of disaster. Free health care for everyone. Free college. Completely open borders, with benefits for all the non- citizens that come through. Free day care. Free food. Free Mumia. Their key word, obviously, is free. They want the world handed to them but they want to do nothing to earn it....
No, Michael Moore will not pull the trigger (he doesn't like guns, remember). But this atmosphere of hatred could inspire and embolden someone to try. The ultimate extension of presidential hatred could be assassination. Oh, don't think that ugly little thought hasn't been running around in my head for months. Embolden. The hatred is sure to do that. And I'm sure that dissenters the world over, all the socialist-loving conservative haters, are looking at America right now with wide-eyed wonder, reveling in the anti-America feel coming from the haters. How soon before one of those comrades in arms decides to make his venomous brethren happy and do America a favor? In a couple of years, I've gone from far left to moderate left to center and now, I must admit, to the right. And each day I go farther and farther to the right, pushed their by the fact that I want to remain as far away from the left as possible.
August 23, 2004
Well, it seems I have adapted my daughter's favored method of coping. I've zoned out, gone into a Swift Boat coma, had my brain eaten by blogs, etc. Choose your phrase. The noise coming from both sides has reached a level that should only be heard by dogs...
And now everyone is micromanaging this issue down to little, bitty pieces, to the point where the campaign ads are about campaign ads about Vietnam. So while everyone - that includes both campaigns and most of their supporters - are flinging so much Vietnam-flavored feces at each other, I'm sitting here truly shocked that his election is about a thirty year old war. I had to stop reading blogs this weekend because it was all Swift Boat/Cambodia all the time. The major papers were no better, the chat at an online game I play was inundated with Swift Boat cat fights....
I drove home in a daze. My brain is just going to refuse to acknowledge that this presidential election is about something so far removed from the American psyche that the most relevant voters have no frame of reference for it. While most bloggers are cheering that this issue is finally making it to big media, I'm cringing. Neither side will benefit from bringing the Christmas in Cambodia story mainstream. Neither side will benefit from behaving like monkeys in a zoo in regards to the Swift Boat vets. So now, my defense mechanism has gone into full effect. It's effectively tuning out the noise and letting in all the signal. While it may appear that I'm not paying attention, I certainly am. I'm just filtering out those things that don't need to get in and people may think I look dazed and confused but, like my daughter before me, I'm taking in only what's necessary.
August 24, 2004:
As you probably know, tomorrow is my birthday. As a much needed birthday present to myself, I am shutting down ASV until October, maybe November. Maybe forever. Why? Because it's time. If you're still interested, I'll be writing one daily piece that has nothing to do with politics or current events, over here. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
But never underestimate the power of Betrayal By The Mainstream Media to undermine all good resolutions to take a vaction, just before an election, from being an Involved Citizen. For this was not just the ordinary Betrayal of mere "liberal bias" or "cowering Political Correctness", this was the Texas National Guard Hoax, the real cause celebre of the 2004 election, the event that allowed the Right Wing Blogsphere to shoot John Kerry and the Democratic Party in the back, while quite legitimately turning their guns on CBS News:
September 21, 2004:
Let me reiterate: This is, for me, not about Bush and his guard duty. I don't care about that inasmuch as I no longer care about Kerry's holiday in Cambodia. And I think it should be obvious to anyone observing this farce what the real issue here is. So why do I feel like I have to shake some people by the collar to get them to see the importance of all these revelations? How can you just blow off the fact that a major newscaster went ahead with a story that was backed only by shoddy documents whose authenticity had not been proved for the sole reason of rushing that story on the air because it flows with the newscaster's political bias? You don't believe that? Fine, there's a two for one sale on bridges today. Get out your checkbook....Even if John Kerry had nothing at all to do with this, it reflects badly on his campaign. If one of his advisers is running around making whisper deals with a major news channel to help that channel spread a story about the opponent, well, my god, how can you not see what's wrong there?
The Grand Finale:
October 20, 2004
The new 527 ad - Ashley's Story - is one of the most powerful election ads I've seen in a long time. It's powerful for me in a different way than it might be for an undecided voter. I have already made my decision to vote for George Bush. Ashley's Story just underscores one of the main emotional reasons why I am voting for him....
What is evident about George Bush in this ad is one of those vital things that give me faith and hope enough to vote for him with confidence. His sincerity, his passion and his compassion are all on display here....It's just a brief moment that shows the true spirit of what lies beneath George Bush, President. Oh, there are some who look at our President and see a liar, a thief, a devil in disguise. They refute even this small yet powerful gesture of the President, one in which he comforted a young girl whose mother died on September 11, 2001.
But it's what I see in this ad that encompasses all of the emotional reasons why I trust this man to be my president. It's not enough that Bush stands for the issues that are most important to me this election; in order to get my vote I have to believe in his sincerity and trust him with my life and the lives of my children. That I do.
And the aftermath:
November 10, 2004
If I had to absolutely make a choice, if America was physically splitting down the middle and one side was blue and the other red, I think you know where I would go. The left has become too ugly, dark and dangerous to ever think of siding with them again. I've seen reasonable people slide so fast into the depths of vitriolic insanity that I they became unrecognizable within mere weeks. In a way, I'm astonished at what I see happening to this country post-election. Even though I predicted that it would become this ugly and divisive, I thought I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole most of the time. But it's here and it's real and it's out there....
But they aren't the only problem. Because now I'm suddenly a target not just for the left, but for the right. I'm being told I must fight the good fight, rethink my stance on gay issues, abortion, the definition of family and religion. I'm seeing the first hints of alienation. They got my war on terror vote. I was part of them for this whole election cycle, working side by side to get Bush elected. And now that the election is over, I've been given a put up or shut up demand. Bad enough to get the bullets from the opposing party, I'm now being eased out the door of my own. So what happens when the civil war takes place and the blue secedes from the red? Where do I go?
Here is where it ended:
November 26, 2004
Thanksgiving has become, in the past six years, my year-end measurement....I react to everything with feeling. Most of my decisions, my choices, my actions are based on my emotions. No, not a great way to live, but it's who I am. So last night....I read a good portion of what I've written here over the past year. Talk about self discovery. When I was done reading, I was left the feeling like I looked in the mirror and saw that I was covered in thousands of blemishes. It was an ugly year, to put it mildly. I suddenly found myself faced with the weird feeling of losing all respect for myself....
Why did I actively seek out those things which I knew would anger me? Why did I engage in such vitriol and mouth-foaming reactions when most of it was not only completely unnecessary, but only served to fuel whatever negative emotions I was dredging up by reading things I knew would make me mad?....Well, it starts with one little instance and it sort of builds up. A few accolades for a well written, yet vitriolic post, a few extra hits, a few more readers. So you do it again to see if you can repeat that success. Sure enough, you can. That shit sells, man. My hits were going through the roof. I had a nice, long adstrip. I was quoted in newspapers. CNN was calling my house. I was finally being accepted. But accepted as what?
I knew that people showed up in droves for the posts that were written in the depths of rage. Again, my anger was definitely real. My opinions on these subjects were completely honest. But it's the fact that I reached for these subjects, that I actively sought out those things that would make my blood boil and my hands shake that makes it now seem so manipulative....I know I also lost some friends over this....We just lost touch and I know damn well why. And I never made the attempt to initiate contact with these people because subconsciously I knew that I was being a complete asshole....
All these things are what I'm leaving behind by not dealing with the politics anymore. I'm over the whole acceptance thing because, just like when I was fourteen and drank fifteen shots of Sambuca to gain acceptance, it has left me feeling sick to my stomach. And in much the same way that to this day I can't look at a bottle of Sambuca without heaving, I will not be able to look back at a year's worth of my writing without feeling sick....I stopped caring about the hits or the comments. I stopped caring about figuring out ways to draw people in. It wasn't all it was cracked up to be, I'll tell you that. What I gained in readership or ad revenue was not worth the respect I lost for myself.
And so we return to the same place where we started. When it is safe, when it is sure, when we no longer have to fight, then we stop.
The speaker, if you haven't already guessed, is Michele Catalano, now safe, sure, and beyond the fight. Amazing, isn't it, what one good Presidential hug will do! The blog was known as A Small Victory. You can follow my archeological footsteps here, if you like.
The blog itself, flickered, sputtered, and rock-and-rolled itself to its final demise one month ago. The prose has withered to one line captions in a, new, potentially endless, Millenium Photo Album where the bad dreams are safely evaded in the parallel universe of the camera.
September 11, 2005:
I still think about it daily, but it's only when reminders like a perfect pre-autumn day or the roar of a jet engine kick up the dust where I store all those memories. It's not there, right out front any more. And when I do think about it, the thoughts are fleeting, sometimes lasting only seconds. It's not like it used to be, when the mere sight of an airplane could send me into a tailspin. It's not like it used to be, where just mentioning it could make me spend the rest of the day talking, writing, emoting about it.
I think that's a good thing, no? Time marches on, as do our lives. Just because you don't think about it as often doesn't mean you don't remember.
I dreamed last night about firemen and burning buildings and memorials. So it's there, it's all there saved and stored, but put away in place that only comes alive when dreamed about, or when disturbed by a perfect blue sky or a glimpse of the city from the view of a bridge. That's good, I tell myself.
Today marks the 1625 day Osama Bin Laden has been at large since President Bush vowed to bring him in, dead or alive. That's almost four and one-half years. Bin Laden, his followers, and the leavings of the Taliban, have been allowed to operate with impunity just over the Pakistani border from our democratic showpiece country, Afghanistan, and still remain at large and as much a threat to both Afghanistan, and the world, as ever.
Today there are now 2291 American lives that have been lost in Iraq. There are 16,742 Americans who have been wounded, many, many more of them crippled for life, rather than merely killed, as in past wars. Such is the progress of combat medicine.
In round figures, about $244 billion dollars have been spent there. When last seen, none of the Iraqi army was yet capable of operating on its own, without American troops in close support. That war will soon be 3 years old, with no end in sight, beyond the dreadful possibility of the entire country of Iraq slipping into a sectarian civil war.
Iran is well on its way to making a nuclear warhead, and we have no army free to stop them. We haven't had one available since March of 2003, so they've gotten a three-year head start. A nuclear Iran, accomplished without even a gesture of the "Bush Doctrine" to stop it, may well be the most lasting Presidential legacy that George W. Bush will leave to Ashley, to Michele and her children, and to the rest of the world.
But it is safe, it is sure, and we no longer have to fight, right?