I spent the first two years of the Bush administration in a kind of stupefaction. In fact, it began even before Bush’s inauguration, which I watched in bed while my wife covered her head with a blanket and her ears with a pillow.

To be blunt, although I was already one of the most cynical political observers out there, I simply was not prepared for George W. Bush to become President of the United States. I had not thought it possible.

And when I came home from work and watched the news on my television, I found myself shaking my fist and hollering at the talking heads who were bending over backwards to ignore the elephant in the room. Bush was just a figurehead, and the powers behind him were radically different than any Republican powers before them.

I just kept getting madder and madder. And then something snapped. I gave up on what I was attempting to do, which was to write a book about the intersection of religious fundamentalism and terrorism, and I decided to go organize voter registration teams in Missouri. Plans changed and I wound up in Florida, and then Pennsylvania. But the point is that I had to do something. I needed to get away from my television and out in the field of battle. For my sanity.

This blog is about my sanity, and your sanity too. Anger has its place. Anger can motivate. But if anger doesn’t lead to action, well….from John Prine’s Bruised Orange:

You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
Throw your hands in the air, say what does it matter?
But it don’t do no good to get angry,
So help me I know

For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
Wrapped up in a trap of your very own
Chain of sorrow.

I been brought down to zero, pulled out and put back there.
I sat on a park bench, kissed the girl with the black hair
And my head shouted down to my heart
‘You better look out below!’
Hey, it ain’t such a long drop don’t stammer don’t stutter
From the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter
And you carry those bruises to remind you wherever you go.

With the short days and lonely holiday season, John Prine has been speaking to me. More than ever.

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