I hope I saw this wrong. Or perhaps I was having a bad dream. Maybe I was hallucinating. I could, I suppose, simply be losing my mind entirely. Anyway, I thought I saw yesterday somewhere (probably either on buzzflash or the smirking chimp) that Congress had sent a letter to Bush pleading with him to not leave the war to the next President. Yes, “pleading,” was the precise word I saw. I am having trouble believing this, hence my confusion over my state of mind. First, why should Congress be “pleading” with Bush? They could demand he not leave the war to the next President. They could order him not to do so. They could suggest he not do so. They could even take action to insure that he not do so. So what’s with this pleading crap? Is our Congress so mealy-mouthed, so timid, so afraid, so senseless, so ridiculous, so stupid, so helpless, they have to “plead” with the worst President in American History, with the lowest ratings ever, not to do something? This I find unbelievable. They could have ended this disastrous “war” a long time ago. They could just have withheld any further funds which would have brought the troops home quickly. They could have impeached this pitiful excuse for President and his Rasputin-like sidekick a long time ago. They have done nothing, nothing, to end this ridiculous, nonsensical “war.” And now, at this relatively late moment, they are pleading with Bush to end it, knowing full well he is going to do no such thing. Of course he’s waiting to pass it on to the next President, that’s been his obvious strategy for a long time. If this is true it has to be the most cowardly, timid, asinine thing I have ever seen or heard about. Please tell me I’m hallucinating, I can’t stand any more.
Books. I love books. I love reading books. I love having books, touching them, holding them, admiring them, owning them. I have been an avid reader all my life. Thus I am distressed to learn that fewer adults are buying books this year than last year. I am even more distressed to learn that only 51% (I think it was) of adults bought books year before last and only 49% this year. I learned today that the book business has become so bad that Borders Books, a huge chain of bookstores, is trying to sell out. And of course I have known for a long time that small bookstores have been closing for years. This is partly due to the fact that the big box stores like Cosco and others have been selling books so cheap that even the huge Bookstores like Borders can’t compete. But there is another, more insidious reason, Americans just don’t read much. It is part of the overall anti-intellectualism that is such a part of America. Book larnin’ just ain’t a good thing in American culture. Teachers are not a good thing (people who can’t do something themselves teach it, so the saying goes). “Pointy headed intellectuals,” college perfesssors, types like that think they know it all. I know a man, and I think he is not atypical, that boasts he has never read an entire book in his life. I’m sure his friends don’t read either. Whatever it is they think they know they get from Rush Limbaugh and pass it on between themselves. Of course TV and the internet have something to do with it. But I think this may be overrated. I don’t doubt that many people just prefer watching TV to reading, that has to be true, but I don’t think many people actually read books on the internet, even people who do read. Even with the advent of laptops I don’t think taking your laptop and reading under the trees is a real substitute for books. I find the idea of having a non-reading public actually frightening and I wonder what will happen to us. When you also consider that about 50% of urban high-schoolers don’t graduate you might truly be frightened. Anti-intellectualism has been rampant in America for a long time. If we truly wish to survive in the modern world, and compete with other nations, we had better do something to reverse this trend before it is too late.
Books are readily available, more available than ever before. You can buy great books, books of all kinds, through the internet, for peanuts now, for one dollar, bargains galore. They are great entertainment as well as informative and useful. And they are less expensive even than going to a movie. Perhaps one good thing might result from the current recession – people might begin to read more. Books are our friends.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Charles W. Eliot