A Modest Proposal

     To be initiated into a club he wanted to join, Leo Tolstoy had to stand in a corner and not think of a white bear.
     Try it sometime.
     The trick is to think of a giraffe.
     Left to our own devices, I believe, most of us don’t think at all. We idle and spin our wheels, like stinky old buses with bald tires.
     I just spent 10 days alone with my mind, driving twice across the country. Most of the stuff my brain did in that time was not really thinking – it was a useless mixture of regrets, fantasy and reminiscence.
     Finally I told my brain, “No more of this. From now on you will think only things that you have never thought before.”
     Try it sometime.
     Thinking of a giraffe won’t help.
     If we could think of something new, we probably would have done it already.
     How do you think of a new thing?
     I’m not sure. I don’t believe I managed to do it in 6,000 miles. But it’s clear that all 300 million of us in this country need to do it.
     That’s why I was glad to see Sen. Jim Webb demand that a National Criminal Justice Commission be established, to restructure, and, I hope, dismantle our racist prison system, which eats one of every three black Americans; our insane drug laws, which have thrown 1,200 percent more young people into prison than were incarcerated a generation ago though drug use has not increased; and our idiotic mandatory sentencing laws, which are calculated to hurt the young, the black and the brown for no good reason, while letting aging white men steal our houses, take our jobs, bust our banks, cheat on their taxes, deny us medical care and push our aging mothers under buses. And though I like President Obama, his economic rescue plan consists, so far as I can see, of giving these buttheads trillions of dollars and another bus.
     Maybe nothing will come of Webb’s bill. But how refreshing it is to see someone think of a new thing.
     Or perhaps it’s an old thing. The purpose of the U.S. justice system was not, originally, to use as a bat to whup poor people upside the head so aging white men could run for office. But that’s what it’s become.
     Surely Sen. Webb, a conservative Democrat and former Secretary of the Navy, did not introduce S. 714 because he has become a raging civil libertarian. I think he did it because he saw that our country is bankrupting itself – financially, morally and actually – to no purpose, and it annoyed him, and he’s too old to give a damn anymore what people say about him, and he doesn’t care anymore if he gets re-elected.
     Good for him.
     We need a little more common sense like that.
     Fortunately, I live in the Land of Common Sense – the People’s Republic of Vermont. When I returned home last week from my former home in Southern California – a horrible place – Hell on Earth – Sodom without benefit of sodomy -Gomorrah without penicillin – a vile, reprehensible, swinish, reactionary, traffic-clogged, loathsome, pestilential …
     Oops. Sorry. There goes my brain, reminiscing again.
     A recent statewide poll found that a majority of Vermonters want to prohibit drivers from talking on cell phones.
     A majority of Vermonters favor higher taxes on gasoline to fix roads and bridges. And a majority of Vermonters – 55% to 38% – favor same-sex marriage. That’s a 21% swing from just two years ago.
     I believe my compeers have come to realize that the rest of our country is insane. Vermonters see that our country has been commandeered by slavering nitwits, vicious contemptible kleptomaniac thugs, and for some reason we have agreed, just between 300 million of us, that we should not bring this up, that we should look the other way, and hope – and pray, of course – that these thieves and war criminals just leave us alone.
     Enough. I’ve had it with standing in a corner and not thinking of a white bear.
     I offer my own reform bill – K. 714. This bill will require that everyone elected to Congress must serve one year in prison after his or her first term expires. Then he may run again. If re-elected, he or she must go back to prison when the term ends.
     My bill is fair, and it’s based on common sense. And it will reform the prison system even faster than Webb’s bill.

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