Friday, May 15, 2009


I’m beginning to “clear,” as the Scientologists call it, on the topic of politics. I am “at cause over” my primitive feelings on the subject. Cutting the techno-religious jargon, I’m beginning to just not give a shit. No, that’s not right either—I’m anything but apathetic—but I’m beginning to see a light, if not exactly the light.

Politics changes very little in the world. And very seldom. And the chances that decisions and compromises American political figures make will ever (ever) be of some benefit to me individually are very (very) slim.

I’ve written my second letter in a week to my two senators, Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, first to urge action on the torture memos and, yesterday, to complain that both of them voted down a proposal to cap credit card interest rates at 15%.

To write them, I ran (twice) through a gauntlet of silly multiple-choice “options” on issues on which people may have concerns. Unsurprisingly, “torture” and “credit cards” do not appear on either senator’s list. Those check lists infuriate me anyway—like those aggravating FAQs on Amazon that manage to answer every question I don’t want to ask, before (at last!) opening a page that lets me write and e-mail my own goddamned question.

Burr, a Republican, has ignored both e-mails, as he did an earlier phone call a few weeks ago, also on the topic of torture—silly me, I’m under the naïve impression that torture is an important issue, even when stacked up against matters like Dijon mustard use and homosexuality’s similarities to pedophilia and bestiality.

Hagan, a Democrat, ignored my phone call, but sent me the same canned “response” to each of my e-mail queries:

Dear Friend,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts and opinions. Since taking office, I have received an overwhelming number of calls and emails from North Carolinians like you who are ready to take an active part in our government. I appreciate each and every call and email. With our country facing some of its toughest challenges in a generation, your phone calls and messages are an important factor guiding my work here in Washington. Please be assured that we will get back to you as soon as possible regarding your specific concern.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my website with you. Please visit http://Hagan.Senate.Gov to find contact information for my offices and to stay updated as my new state offices open. You can also find information there about what I've been doing in North Carolina and Washington. It is an honor to serve as your United States Senator, and I appreciate your patience as I transition into this new role. I sincerely hope you will not hesitate to contact me at any time to share your concerns and voice your opinions on our country's most pressing issues.

Kay R. Hagan
United States Senator, North Carolina

Trust me. I’m not holding my breath about her getting back to me. I’m not positive, but I got almost the same response a year ago from Elizabeth Dole, Republican, whom Hagan replaced. Dole must have left the boilerplate in the office computer.

So several deep breaths later, I’m facing up to the likelihood that Chuang Chou was right:

Running around accusing others is not as good as laughing, and enjoying a good laugh is not as good as going along with things. Be content to go along and forget about change and then you can enter the mysterious oneness of Heaven.

I’m facing up to the likelihood that Jesus was right:

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.

And I’m facing up to the likelihood that my old hero Voltaire (or his character Candide) was right:

All I know is that we must cultivate our garden.

And, last, I’m facing up to the likelihood that another old hero, Mark Twain, was right:

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

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