Yeah, we all enjoy reading an astute journalist going into lurid details about this or that scandal (and we really need to,) but what about the stories of the folks on the front line of this battle for our country? The educators, the activists, the veterans, the farm owners, the advocate, the clergyman, and the average joe on the street?
This book gives us 20 of these stories, and each and every one is a delight (well- maybe 19- read below.)
We hear from a lifelong republican cattle rancher in New Mexico who is fighting off the predations of big energy corporations. We read the memoirs of a young Syrian immigrant whose family was rounded up and detained for nine months without any recourse to justice. An FAA Red Team leader relates, in frightening detail, his experiences with incompetence at the highest levels of FAA security. A young couple who had the temerity to wear anti-bush t-shirts to an independence day speech by Bush are not only arrested, but lose their jobs.
The one common thread that unites these accounts is that each and every one of these people, faced with the unacceptable, decided to step up to the plate, and fight back. In a few cases, these efforts failed, but in far many more cases, these ordinary/extraordinary people won, and continue to win.
Above these individual accounts, this book is an affirmation of what is good and right in this country, in these darkest of times. It gives hope, inspiration, and every story (with the above caveat) is engaging, personal, and memorable.
The prize of the bunch? Paul Hackett- the democratic party shot itself in the foot, when they dissed this guy. A lot of my more liberal friends say that Hackett was a "conservative DINO..." Screw ya'll- yeah, the guy owns a gun, and goes to church, and in your eyes, that makes him a nazi? Screw you doubly. Triple screwage should be visited upon the weak-assed democratic party that shied away from backing one of the few genuine candidates the new century has produced.
The worst (and only bad one) of the bunch? Mort Sahl. Okay- I dig it- this guy was a prime comic once upon a time, but I'm sorry- back in the day. the guy obviously dropped too much acid one night, and decided that "comedy" meant reading excerpts from congressional records with a jazz band tootling away in the background. A few years later, the audience for such crap sobered up, put away the stash, got real jobs, and realized that comedy was supposed to make you LAUGH, DAMNIT. Relegated to obscurity, he uses his few pages in this book to whine, inconsolably, about how the new generation of comedy just ain't as "sophisticated" as he is.
Mort, on one hand, condemns Jon Stewart for not being radical enough to take on the criminal Bush administration, and in the next, brags about writing "comedy" scripts for, and having breakfast with, Bush Jr.
Crap, or get off the pot, Mort. Lenny Bruce is dead.
But hey- That's only one story out of twenty. Overall, it is a wonderful, heartening, and inspiring book.