It was a long year in Afghanistan, though it was punctuated by great moments like the one you see below. I had talked glassmaker Sultan Hamidy into playing something for me (there's more about Sultan in the comments), but he'd only play if I took up the drums. Forgive the "helmet hair."
What made the year even longer was the fact that I felt disconnected and unable to comment on the election as it unfolded. What was worse is that I saw so many of the proper responses to the Rovian campaign tactics tossed up on blogs, but ignored by the campaigns of the good guys*. That's why I knew that, though I would eventually return to blogging, it was more important that I make a difference to the country than it was for me to have this blog be what it had been: a venue to get things off my chest so that I wasn't kept up all night.
When I returned to find my state rejecting science, my senators abandoning their institution's rules and Kansas' Democratic party doing nothing about any of it. When I contacted the state party chair, he all but patted my head and said I might understand how politics work when I'm a big boy. I was sick of the bullshit. Blogging wasn't going to be enough. I think that, while a great tool, the internet alone will not help us turn Kansas around.
After talking to many of my fellow Kansans, I was struck by how many life-long Republicans are growing disgusted by the actions of their party. I would chat with them a bit and, after a while, it would dawn on me that these people had never really been Republicans at all. Their beliefs were pure liberalism, but they'd been distracted by the clanging of the Republican noise machine. I mean, honestly, "mainstream" thought doesn't normally include the likes of Todd Tiahrt and Sam Brownback's friends who want to pattern the Christian church after the mafia or the Third Reich. And, for God's sake, why didn't my state party send out press releases saying that both of our Senators voted for filibusters against Clinton judicial nominees?
Long story short: I'm pissed. I got with some like-minded fellow Kansas (this guy and this guy for starters) and, very soon, we will be kicking off a new organization designed to counter the right-wing co-opting of midwestern values. Once I got that ball rolling, I felt that I could come back to blogging.
So I'm back. I'm ready to kick some ass.
* Although I don't know why no one pointed out that the best argument against the Swift Boat assholes was to point out that the Navy's records were very explicit about Kerry's service and have everyone who spoke about it say, simply "I believe the Navy." It's concise, easy to remember and goes well on a t-shirt.