Marc Carlisle: Hearing my own voice, and standing by my word
During the Memorial Day weekend, I spent the rainy hours looking through past columns of mine that had appeared in print in Summit County newspapers. At the age of 90, while my mother’s mind and memory for events and details, of Christmas’ past, family dinners, who begat whom across a century is unimpaired, the years have extracted an evil toll. She suffered her first major stroke six years ago, followed by innumerable cardiac events, including a recent one that robbed her of part of her eyesight. She can see around the edges of her eyes, looking sideways to see what’s in front of her, but anything straight ahead, a person, a hallway, a television screen, are a blur. Reading more than the newspaper headlines is impossible, but like any mother she likes to read what one of her sons has put in print, if only to identify those errors of moral and political judgment that need correction when he calls home.I write with the sound of my own voice in my head, and so what I write has the same cadence, lifts and valleys as my voice, so I hit on the idea of making tapes of my columns. Technology slowed me down at first. I had planned on simply making tapes, only later realizing that built standard into my computer was the software to record and edit media “documents” suitable, as a friend pointed out, for podcasts not just to my mother but friends and family.
For awhile, content got lost in the dazzle of computer “gee-whiz,” and only last weekend did I start to choose which of 400 columns to put on tape. The only thing more disconcerting than hearing the sound of your own voice for the first time is the sound of your own ideas read aloud. The new technology, though, once I’ve digitized a particular dumb statement, let’s me make verbal annotations to revise and extend my remarks in my own defense. The more analytical the column, the more annotations I include because clarity is sometimes lost in editing. The more passionate the column, on subjects I simply feel strongly about, the fewer the verbal footnotes – those I can add with the timber and tone of my own voice.I feel very strongly that people should mind their own business more often, and spend more time becoming involved with their own families rather than managing the lives of strangers. I believe in participatory government, that people should vote and attend meetings and write letters and speak out, and that anyone who stands for election is at once a fool and a god. I am always skeptical of government. No committee, impact statement, or four-stage review process has ever improved a sound idea. Poor ideas can thrive, however, defended by a moat of paperwork, regulatory guidelines, and timetables that make the process the center of discussion and not the idea itself. All government decisions should be taken in public, including those involving national security. One of the very first columns I wrote in the spring of 2003 called for the impeachment of the President over the war in Iraq, and the decision to send American servicemen to die on our behalf.
The Constitution is a marvel of foundation and foresight, which no government process or review could hope to reproduce today, and its impeachment provisions are a tool to be used often, especially to ensure that decisions of life or death for American servicemen or foreign nationals are taken only if necessary. Four years later, I still think the President should be impeached, over Iran, and no, that’s not a typo. Over the weekend, we announced that we had initiated, gone to the Iranians, a state known to support anti-American terrorism, and asked to sit down and talk about threats to the security of the region. We negotiated with terrorists, and made the first of many deals, exchanging promises as between two gentlemen, with no talk of war to eliminate a regime that can produce nuclear weapons. We’re in similar discussions with North Korea, another terrorist regime with nuclear capabilities.
Sorry, Mom, but the President should be impeached. Three thousand, five hundred servicemen have died in Iraq because we wouldn’t initiate talks with a regime in Iraq with far fewer ties to terrorism and no clear nuclear weapons capability. Our talks with Iran and North Korea say to me that the President knows that Iraq was a mistake, and before next Memorial Day he should hold himself accountable, or be so held. Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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