On I-95, heading for DC
This apparition in the sky greeted me on I-95 not far south of the Daytona area. What the heck was it, anyway? From a distance, when I first saw it well south of this (iPhone) photo, it looked like weather, because the white cloud on the top was more visible. Then as I got closer, it looked more like smoke. Abreast of it, it was very dark smoke from a fairly concentrated fire source. Nothing to take me off the ribbon of concrete and asphalt connecting me with the Inauguration. So it remains a mystery. What the heck was it, anyway?
It’s a thoughtful time, to be driving alone for most of two days. En route to a historic event, with the radio blaring AM and FM, talk shows, music, religion, sports, a smidgeon of news now and then. Where have all the announcers gone? Long time passing. Where have all the DJs gone? Long time ago. Where have all the voices gone? Gone for software every one …
Except on NPR. There still are voices and brains there. Wonder why NPR fades away and can’t be found for a long stretch in east-central Florida. All those low FM freqs occupied by the Lord and his/her minions.
Leaving Miami-Dade, I recalled that Nicole Sandler had sent an email a few days ago about being on the radio Saturday morning, and by some miracle of memory, I correctly tuned the Mustang radio to AM 850, and there the former voice of progressive South Florida on early morning AM 940 was sitting in for Stacy Ritter, the Broward commissioner and tireless campaigner for Barack Obama. Great feat of memory, Larry, and then I decided to try to get into the conversation over what to do about all the misdeeds of the Bush (mal)Administration.
On the second try, I got through to the screener and was put on the queue. Most of the callers were for serious prosecutions of the Bush miscreants, but I had a slightly different idea in mind. It was getting closer and closer to the end of Nicole’s time, and I worried that I might be left out. But about 10 to the hour, I was on. I blurted out that I was on the way to the Inauguration, barreling up I-95, and I wanted to make a different point about the difficult decision on whether to unleash all the powers against the loyal Bushies, or whether to let them get away with vast crimes against humanity and the US Constitution.
My drift was this: I don’t know exactly what to do but I hope that Barack Obama will find a wise course, and since he seems such a wise person, there is hope. I remember what John Dean, once a loyal Nixonite, is saying these days about the spectrum of political tendencies we find in the population. Is this a conservative country? Sometimes it seems terribly conservative, but this may be a temporary phenomenon caused by the luck and skill that the conservative minority has had in winning too many elections lately – until 2006. Research shows that there’s a firm minority with authoritarian tendencies, and they may number 25-30 percent. This may be why, though Bush is clearly the worst president in a very long time, he still seldom drops below 30 percent approval. The other thing about the people in that minority of 25-30 percent is that they’re loyal to a fault, and they tend to be heavily represented in the military and the first responders – in other words, they’re important for taking care of the rest of us slackers.
So my final point to Nicole Sandler was that I hope the resolution of this issue – prosecute or let them off? – does not alienate this large minority, because we need them.
Nicole then jumped back in and started agreeing with most of my line of thought, though I didn’t hear exactly all of it, because the screener came up in my earpiece (I was hands-free-talking into the iPhone’s throat mike) and said “Thanks for calling, sir” and cut the phone connection. It took me quite a few seconds to get the earpieces out and turn up the car radio again, so I missed a lot of Nicole’s wrapup. And of course there had been a delay of a couple seconds in releasing me for broadcast in case I said one of the seven deadlies.
Anyway: Thanks, Nicole Sandler, for letting me get in the last call, and we wish you more and more gigs!
It was satisfying to get in a little broadcast punditry en route to Washington, and I mulled over in my mind what I’d left out, such as reference to the South African brilliance of truth commissions after the end of apartheid. Grant absolution in advance as long as the miscreants tell everything. What an idea. Is it still working? I don’t know. It was better in the early years, at least, than the Yugoslav experience, in which the ethnic hatreds were forcibly held down for decades under Tito rather than being illuminated and, perhaps, reduced through the experience of public confession.
Then, an hour or two up the road, the radio gave me a jolt in the other direction – away from mercy for the miscreants who have dragged this country through the mud for the last two presidential terms. What was it? A voice from 40 years ago – Chuck Colson. This country is so good at redemption. Here is the guy known as Nixon’s Hatchetman. He went to jail after Watergate, got religion, and now is a guru of the religious right. The program had a host who led us listeners to the brink of buying both the printed book and the audio version of one of Colson’s books. “This way you really get it packed in,” he said, or something like that, not having the brain to connect this with brainwashing.
And then there was Colson’s voice down the telephone with all the combination of fundamentalist Christianity and “well, I guess I’m conservative” political thought.
(This entire "interview" with Colson revealed itself to be pretty stale. Though it sounded sort of current, Colson dated it to last summer by saying that the Democratic ticket was still undecided, and it was down to two candidates. Guess the listeners in north Florida will be surprised when one of the Democrats gets inaugurated on Tuesday.)
Now I can only paint myself pretty naïve to think that there’s a good alternative to thorough investigation and prosecution. If miscreants like Colson and G. Gordon Liddy can be admired gurus decades after the disgrace of felony jail time, what can the following generations expect to emerge from the debris of loyal Bushies and their crimes? They will become billionaires and media royalty, especially if they get a slap on the wrist.
What else from the first day on the road to Washington?
- In the Jacksonville area I caught a black station for a few minutes (92.5 FM?) with two talkers who surprised me as they started pondering what to do about such a lot of people getting shot lately. Huh? What’s going on in JAX? They seemed to have good ideas about ways to try to keep youth busy. Pity that it takes money.
- There’s this from the NY Times website. Good stuff coming for the first full-tilt cyberspace Inauguration.
- I also note that other newspapers up the Florida coast are reporting good local participation in the National Service Day that Barack has called for on Monday. Here's a snip from the Palm Beach Post. The NY Times site (above) has ways for ordinary people to offer their photos and stories to the national spread of Inauguration events.
There is a true tingle to this. This is the best pre-inauguration mood I’ve experienced, going back to JFK when I was 20.
Pray keep us all safe and happy.