Wailing on Freedom

(note: this posting was written earlier this summer–then removed, and updated. It ran as an op-ed piece locally)

I went to the driving range one morning this summer. I’m not a golfer. The first and last time I was on a real golf course was decades ago. I don’t find it to be a real sport. On this morning, however, I was compelled to pick up a stick and swat little balls. I was driven to the driving range that day by Congress, Dick Cheney, and Monsieurs Bush and Gonzales. We all hopped in a little cart and went driving together.

You see, that morning the radio was blaring how Congress had just past the Protect America Act of 2007. What it basically did was take telephone and internet surveillance powers away from the courts (via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), and hand those powers directly over to the executive branch and a perjurious Attorney General.

This cowardly Congress gave the cookie jar to the Cookie Monster, then packed up and left for vacation.

Any number of analogies came to mind: evil flourishes when good men stand by and do nothing; or, to paraphrase the Speaker of the House, “The Constitution is off the table.” These people not only don’t have the courage of their own convictions—they don’t have the courage of anyone else’s. There is little dignity left in being a member of Congress as part of the Democratic Party. Better to resign, than to capitulate to a dictator’s bullying. Yet here they were abetting the enshrinement of an Imperial Presidency—something that will not be returned to the people by any ensuing incumbent. They were guilty of ripping freedom away from the future.

So, on a muggy, rain-threatening mid-morning, I teed up at the range. I was the only one at it. I grabbed a driver, tried to remember a serviceable stance, and addressed the ball—as Mr. Bush. Big, creaky back-swing, and WHOOSH—the ball dribbled a few feet past the tee. Fine! I’d get it on the next one. I was remembering our new stance on torture now. I ambled over to the tin basket and plucked out another little white dome. I placed it on the narrow neck and addressed it: this one’s for you Mr. Cheney. I straightened up, balanced my stance, pulled back, and… bluummp. The ball trickled lamely away for about twenty yards.

And then it came to me: I was over-thinking this—caring about them each in a personal way, when they hardly think of me at all. They were garnering a bit too much individual attention. I grabbed another ball, put it on the tee. I wiggled my hips, measured my spread, wound back, and WHAMMM!—there went the whole damned Congress, a pretty sweet line drive hooking right, but finding its way up beyond the 150 yard marker for its first bounce. Oh did that feel good. “Thus, Congress doth make cowards of us all.”

Well, it was mostly improvement from there. Sure there were slices, and unintentional chip shots. But I wailed on the Attorney General’s little pocked sphere, and Condi Rice went for a blistering 175 yards, before bounding left. I still swung so hard and passionately for the president and vice president that I got under the ball. They both tipped into the air rather unconvincingly a few times. But, there were those other times when I connected, and there went that spying, lying, cowardly executive branch—bending in searing arcs toward their inevitable halts, way out by the 200 yard marker. There is nothing like connecting with a solid drive when it comes to wailing on freedom.

So, for a few satisfying minutes I stood bashing the bashers of freedom at there own game. I was quite dripping with sweat when I was done. But it was an honest sweat, something I think these people are unfamiliar with. And though I think golf may quite rightly be called the stupidest thing parading as a sport since auto racing, there was something organic about whacking that little sphere. You always think things can’t get any worse. But just in case I’ve already reserved several spots in the demolition derbies at next year’s county fairs. And teeing-off again is definitely NOT off the table: I’m worried we’ve yet to see the full cowardice of Congress.