Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Red lights
glare on the freeway.
Traffic ahead.
Grimly, I work
on my patience.
Not much luck.

So we drove back to Los Angeles yesterday, leaving Laguna Beach reluctantly in glorious sunshine and arriving here in time to get back into the office and take measure of what needs to be done. It feels like a lot, with all the work involved in putting out word about the new book. And at such moments, there's some part of me that rebels against the task ahead and wants simply to withdraw from engagement with the world.

It's right now nearly nine o'clock in the morning, first day back. I was out early, for a blood test at the Kaiser lab in preparation for an annual medical appointment tomorrow. I go early to avoid the crowds. Then back to bed to watch the news from Iowa. Having lived in the state myself for four years in the 1960s, I have a fondness for the place and have been distressed by the far-right versus the far-far-right battle between Republican candidates there. Admittedly, I lived in a little corner of the state which, at that time at least, remained firmly liberal: Iowa City is the home of the University of Iowa. But I believe that the Republican voters in that district, this year, went for Ron Paul.

It was a nasty race, with candidates at each others' throats; but also at President Obama's. The misconceptions and outright lies promulgated in the past few weeks about his performance in office have been outrageous and, for the most part, unanswered. Uttered with glib assurance, they seem to command credence with remarkably little resistance. It's apparently what people want to hear. To watch the candidates on the television screen is to try the patience even more than that drive on the Los Angeles freeways. I usually end up yelling back at the the screen, for all the good that does.

It occurs to me that the old individual-before-government America for which these people are so nostalgic--the America they proclaim they want to "get back"--worked fine so long as most individuals could be counted on to be trustworthy, decent people with the common interest at heart; people, then, who would not so readily exploit their customers in order to maximize their personal gain. Your banker, in those mythical times, was your friend and ally in all things financial, not your extortioner. It's the mutual trust and common interest that seem to have evaporated, and without them that quaint version of America that (perhaps) existed in the days of yore. Our "values," instead, have come to be equated with opposition to the rights of our gay fellow citizens, and to abortion, even in the direst of cases.

As for the God these candidates call upon with such outspoken confidence that He supports them and assures their victories--and, presumably, their defeats--I personally hard it find to believe that, if merciful and all-knowing as advertized, He would approve one half of the policies they propose. Naively, perhaps, I imagine Him more compassionate than they. Still, it's a sad prospect that one of these candidates will undoubtedly become the Republican nominee for the presidency; and could actually end up in the White House. Heaven (if heaven exists) forfend.

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