All right. I confess to being a sword-and-sorcery geek.
I have been since 5th grade, when I first made my enchanted way through J.R.R. Tolkien’s massive epic fantasy “The Lord of the Rings.” As long as I’m confessing here, I may as well confess that I went through a “bodice-ripper” phase, reading many romance novels in which the heroine always had ‘lush, cascading tresses,’ ‘creamy, heaving bosoms’ (and, of course, those ‘pink-tipped breasts’ were always exposed by the poor girls’ bodices ripped open by a passionate pirate/highland lord/prince/knight/lord of the manor with an ‘engorged and throbbing manroot’ [I kid you not!] – you get the picture) and never just plain blue or green eyes – no, the heroine’s eyes were always ‘sapphire, amethyst, emerald or amber eyes fringed with sooty lashes,’ etc. etc. I’m old enough now that the lurid cover art on such novels embarrasses me, and normally, these days, they aren’t long enough to hold my attention. I also enjoy reading historical fiction, which aside from being entertaining, also provides me with my store of random historical facts which can be pulled out and exhibited for whatever purpose is necessary. I’ve also read my share of political books; I confess to owning books autographed by both Michael Moore and John Dean and un-autographed books by other authors like Naomi Klein, Valerie Plame, Howard Zinn and of course, Keith Olbermann.
But in my heart, I remain a faithful sword-and-sorcery geek. Those books are where I go to escape, and I’m currently working my way through the wonderful “Shannara” epic fantasy series, written by talented and incredibly imaginative author Terry Brooks.
To those of you not familiar with Shannara and theFourLands, a few words of explanation are in order. In the books I’m currently reading, there are creatures called the Shadowen.
They are twisted evil beings who have been consumed by evil magic. The Shadowen were originally creatures designed through the use of earth magic by the Elves for various benign purposes, but because of the uncontrollable and unforeseeable consequences of the vast power of the earth magic, these creatures – and even their creators – morphed into the evil twisted beings now called the Shadowen. The Shadowen can create new Shadowen by stealing the souls of humans (and the other races inhabiting the Four Lands) and taking over their bodies, thus becoming more numerous every day.
The existence of the Shadowen and the evil magic released also cause a blight upon the land, which causes the animals, birds, insects, plants, people – and even the land itself – to sicken and die. In the books, the blight is spreading, just like the evil of the Shadowen.
Perhaps Mr. Brooks didn’t intend for his novels and the creatures in them to reflect today’s politics, but somehow, it seems appropriate these days to make the comparison, especially in light of the virulent – and unsolicited – hate mail I’ve been getting from my stalker “Craig” who has no boundaries and no decency when it comes to indulging his hatred of liberals and atheists.
And you knew I was going to get around to politics anyway. Of course – even if it took me 5 paragraphs and a side trip into the land of bodice-rippers, right?
Well, now that we’re here, let me ask you – do you remember how America used to be?
We used to be able to actually talk to each other, to have conversations, to even have different opinions – and to respect each other and to be polite and courteous in our dealings with other people. The Republicans and the Democrats used to be able to work together – I mean, after all, not so long ago, Congress actually used to pass bills. Congress passed bills large and small, and even passed landmark legislation like Medicare and the Civil Rights Act – can you imagine those bills even making it to the Senate floor for a vote today? It’d never happen; the Republicans would filibuster them, just as they filibuster every other bill. Today, they’d never get the 60 votes needed for cloture.
I’m not saying that America used to be perfect. Oh, no, not by any means. America has always had a mean streak; there has always been an undercurrent of “evil,” by which I speak of racism, bigotry and greed, but in those more innocent days not so long ago, those evils rarely saw the light of day. Racists and bigots were scorned and relegated to the very fringes of society – where they properly belonged; like cockroaches, they infested our society, but when the lights were turned on them, they scurried for cover and disappeared. They were not taken seriously. They were not allowed to spew their vitriol on television or on the radio, nor were their hateful screeds published in anything but the most extreme of extremist rags. There was pressure from our society on these people to keep their hatreds to themselves.
All that has changed.
I’m not exactly sure when this all started; but this blight has been growing in our society. The checks on the haters have been removed. Nowadays, we routinely take the most shocking statements for granted with a shrug and a yawn, and some people even applaud wildly. You sick people who applauded torture, applauded the execution of 236 Americans – including mentally challenged individuals and those letting go with wild hoots of approval at the concept of letting an uninsured person with a life-threatening medical condition simply die – I’m talking to you.
Republican voters who consider themselves true and faithful followers of Jesus Christ – the original socialist liberal unwashed hippie – know that Rick Perry is an admitted murderer (those 236 executions he’s so proud of), homophobe and racist – he’s said so, plainly – and it’s no big deal to them. We know that people like Representative Peter King and professional hater Pamela Geller have a virulent, deep-seated and unreasoning hatred of all Muslims, and without protest, we have allowed Rep. King to actually hold official hearings in our House – the United States House of Representatives – on the subject of whether or not all Muslims are terrorists who “want to murder us for our freedoms.” What would Thomas Jefferson make of that? I suspect he’d be horrified.
We all take it for granted that there is now a huge cadre of rightwing “pundits” like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Neal Boortz and Ann Coulter endlessly talking and talking and talking on our national airwaves – and of course, we know that they will all say incredibly ugly and shockingly vile things – and they never disappoint. And, sadly, there are so many more of them – that I can’t even name them all.
It also used to be that our American journalists and newscasters were respected as truthtellers. The so-called Fourth Estate, peopled with towering icons like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley struck fear into the hearts of the corrupt and the criminal, and were revered by the American people for bringing the truth straight into our living rooms every night at 6:00pm. I ask you, can you imagine Edward R. Murrow anchoring the nightly “news” at FOX? I certainly can’t. The shameful treatment of an American icon, journalist Helen Thomas, by the Bush administration makes me furious to this day.
Instead of journalistic giants, we now have pandering hypocritical dullards like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, clowns without the honesty of the white pancake makeup, red noses and big shoes and vapid, simpering blonde “newsbabes” like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly occupying our airwaves ladling out the lies and the misinformation by the gallon and calling it “fair and balanced.”
The Republican Party, over the last 40 or so years, has morphed into the drooling, mindless, bullying bastard child of the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch and his criminal organization, FOX “News,” – the beast slouching toward Washington, D.C.
The Republican Party has become the Shadowen, if you will, a balefully evil creature which has taken on a life of its own as the ringmaster presiding over the insane, vicious and ugly 3-ring circus where we find the Republican candidates put forward for the office of President of the United States: blathering, brainless buffoons like Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann; hypocritical, megalomaniacal, corrupt and heartless authoritarian graspers of power and money like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, and finally, the twisted and mentally ill Rick Santorum, a pervert who exhibits a completely unhealthy obsession with other peoples’ sex lives. Bringing up the rear are Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, both of whom exhibit flashes of both sanity and humanity, which surely explains their extremely low ratings in polls taken of possible Republican voters.
I’ve pondered the question of how we got here many times, especially over the last 10 years. Who is to blame? Where did this start? I know who I blame. Yep. I believe that most of the blame for what we have become can be laid directly at the feet of Karl Rove. Oh, there are many others upon which blame can be heaped, but Karl Rove, an ethically stunted, angry and pudgy little man discovered at an early age the power of hate and fear, and he has ruthlessly used that power ever since to create the blight that now covers our nation, the blight that eats away at our very hearts and souls.
I hate it. I hate what we have become. I hate the ugliness, the brutality, the stupidity, corruption and greed running rampant through the halls of power in Washington and infecting our airwaves and our public discourse…to the point where someone I don’t even know is willing to try to physically crash my car into a wall because of a bumpersticker, or seek me out and invade my privacy solely to viciously insult and harass me simply because he doesn’t like what I have to say. It’s a disease.
I wish I could find a cure. A remedy. The turning point where this course became set…
Maybe that’s it. The turning point. If I was somehow given the power to go back in time and do one single thing to change the future, I would go back to the night that Karl Rove was conceived and hand his father a condom.