When I lived in Brownsville, Texas, I used to see an old man walking a monkey on a skateboard. The man did not appear to be very bright. The monkey was as smart as monkeys get, I guess. The monkey stood on the skateboard and pushed himself along a few times, then he’d put both feet on it and look around, not particularly interested in what he was seeing.
     For seven years, our country has been like that. The dim-witted man is the president and all 300 million of us are the monkey, leash around our neck, pushing ourselves along, not particularly interested in what we’re seeing, resigned to our powerlessness, wondering, perhaps, where we’re going, and if some day some other man will come along and drag us someplace else.
     2007 was the worst year for the United States since 2006.
     We live under an administration that spends half its time lying and the other half trying to keep us from finding out the rest.
     George W. Bush does not want to make history, or change history, or even affect history – he wants to erase history.
     It’s clear now that Bush refuses to close the torture center at Guantanamo because that prison represents his ideal society: subjects muzzled, press excluded, and the law – if we may be permitted to use that word – trampled, shredded, stuffed and cooked.
     For seven years we have witnessed the triumph of ambitious mediocrities.
     The Bush administration has prospered – if we may be permitted to use that word – by purging, threatening and ruining the lives of anyone who dared oppose them.
     These triumphant mediocrities rule in the same way the Soviet apparatchiks did: through slander, connections and intimidation – it’s a government run by stooges.
     Only the stupid need a monopoly to prosper. But even with a monopoly of all three branches of government, Bush accomplished nothing but ruin.
     This is a man who never succeeded at anything, who never ran so much as a candy store unless it was done on the public dime and through his father’s hatchet men.
     The vicious, Bible-thumping, closeted extremists who have taken over the U.S. government and used it for their own ends are so myopically venal, so shortsighted and unimaginative that they have squandered trillions of dollars, killed 4,000 American soldiers, maimed 30,000, and murdered half a million Iraqis, while ruining our nation in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of those U.S. citizens who still have them. And the old man with the leash calls it prosperity.
     They have tried, and nearly managed, to make the words “reason” and “science” obscene – filthy – but their terms will expire before they accomplish this noble goal.
     In an essay on former Bishop of London Mandell Creighton, Lytton Strachey praised the bishop for his moderation: “One of his very last acts was to refuse to prosecute two recalcitrant clergymen who had persisted in burning incense in a forbidden manner. He knew that, in England at any rate, persecution did not work. Elsewhere, it might be different; in Russia for instance …”
     One of the good things about the United States used to be that, aside from a few centuries of unpleasantness involving anyone who did not happen to be a white man, persecution did not work here either.
     If one had to sum up the vileness of our present times and the present administration, perhaps the most concise statement would be to say that this president has dedicated himself to the proposition that persecution shall be made to work again.
     In cases such as this, it makes no difference what the ruling cult claims its ends are: noble, holy, pure, Roman, Christian, Islamic, whathaveyou. Eventually, or immediately, their purity and holiness become persecution.
     And the most shameful thing about Americans today – my countrymen – is that so many of us are all for it.
     We have not yet seen the worst.
     The worst will come in the final days, as Bush issues one executive order after another, giving away our mountains, forests and rivers to private corporations, to be sacked, stripped, leveled, drained, devastated and sold off.
     He will issue urgent laws permitting the ransacking of banks, pensions, insurance companies and investment funds.
     He will pardon in advance the criminals he enriches.
     Then his minions, the thousands of flying monkeys who follow the orders of the Man Behind the Curtain, will strip whatever they can from what used to be a government and they will take it with them, each to his or her own private Oz.
     Then who will clean up the enormous mess, the stinking disgrace that George W. Bush leaves behind?
     I’ll tell you who will have to do it – lawyers.
     Lawyers have been our last line of defense from these vicious mediocrities, and the lawyers are the ones who will have to try to set things right again.
     So here’s to lawyers: Soon, you will have to be doctors too.
     The patient is called a constitutional republic.
     As you help it recover from its long illness, the patient will scream.
     That’s good.
     It shows it’s alive.

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