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#06 Four More Years of Democracy and Killing

Originally published on November 03, 2004

FOUR MORE YEARS OF DEMOCRACY AND KILLING

Well, it’s done. George W. won the big one. I wasn’t very much for Kerry, he never said anything interesting that reached my ears, but I was very much against Mr. Bush. Four more years. Hopefully our President recognizes how much frustration, anger, and contempt for the American government he has created all around the globe, and decides that he will change that. I am not hopeful.

It is said that if you do not vote you have no right to complain. I voted once, in 1980 I believe, so I suppose I can complain. I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate. I can’t recall who he was, but I think he was a lawyer with offices in Pasadena, California. He lost. Then I lost myself trying to find a way to overcome the taboo against an open debate on the Holocaust story. And here I am.

I’m not certain who should vote and who should not. I have never thought people should be encouraged to vote. Those who are not interested in voting, by and large, are not interested in the issues that need to be addressed, so they are not well enough informed about them to vote well. Why should they vote? We should all be interested in all the issues, I suppose, but we cannot be. Too many issues. Too large. Too complicated. Too many interests to sort them all out.

How do you govern equitably 300-million people? Can’t be done. It’s time to dissolve the Union. Not going to happen. Abraham Lincoln, a unique and honorable man, was a disaster for America. If the Union had been allowed to dissolve during his reign, the history of 20th century America among the peoples of the world would have been another story entirely. Probably a lot better story. How could it have been any worse?

I am unmoved by calls for “democracy,” but look about me for signs of liberty. It is in the “democracies” as it is in the despotisms where it is taboo to say what you think about historical issues, where it is taboo to ask for an open debate on such matters as alliances with Arab sheiks and Jewish zealots. There is nothing that the despots of the world do that the presidents and prime ministers of democracies do not do. I find it odd that the matter was not a subject for public debate the last few weeks.

RAIN IN BAJA, RAIN ON THE WATER

It’s only seven o’clock but it’s already dark. I think maybe it is going to rain, maybe it isn’t. The television says it’s going to rain. Sometimes they know, sometimes they don’t. While Paloma is driving me to the other end of the Boulevard the first sprinkles hit the windshield. When I get out of the car in the dark, Paloma is laughing at my prospects. She’s going to visit with friends in the hills.

I start walking the two miles back to the house. It’s my constitutional. The storefronts are mostly dark. Some of the street lights are working, some aren’t. The usual. At first the rain is light. Before long a wind is up and the rain is falling heavily. Then the rain falls in a torrent. I think about pneumonia, and a taxi. When you’re seventy-four, you think about things like that. Then I think to hell with it.

The rain becomes a torrent. The Boulevard floods immediately. Here and there I have to cross the street to avoid the mud that’s collecting. When the mud is very wet, at the beginning, it’s slippery as grease. Can’t afford to fall. Who knows what might break? It’s been years since I’ve been out in a downpour like this one. It’s pretty wonderful.

And then thought, in a single instant, flies back some forty years. Marlow and I have shipped out on an old Victory from Wilmington, California. It’s 1966. We have a Swedish captain. We’re carrying a cargo of beer and coffins to Vietnam. We’ll off-load in Saigon. First we’ll stop over for oil bunkers in Yokosuko, Japan.

It’s a black, stormy night. The old Victory is steaming through a heavy sea. The deck is heaving and wallowing. Marlow I and go out to the bow and hold onto the gunnel. We’re going to keep watch. We’ll save the crew from disaster by alerting the pilot and captain to any oncoming ships. We’ve been on the water for ten days and haven’t seen another ship. Tonight we can’t see more than a few feet ahead. The rain is beating in our faces. We’re laughing and playing games like a couple kids. It’s a pretty good ride. I’m thirty-six year old. Marlow’s a couple years younger. We don’t have a care in the world.

Now I remember that Marlow died early this year. Throat cancer. We had a lot of laughs, Marlow and me. It doesn’t matter. He’s finished. And now I’m back in Baja, back on the Boulevard, the clothes saturated with the pouring rain, the night so black I can’t see clearly where it’s muddy and where it isn’t. Rain, mud, and death. Or as we like to refer to it, life.

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