November 7, 2007 - Wednesday afternoon

I was on the rooftop of the Crocker Galleria in the financial district during lunch and looked down to see someone reading on the steps where the bike messengers usually hang out--well, the bike messengers are usually on the other side. This side is mostly people who work in the surrounding office buildings.

He was reading The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, by Chalmers Johnson. He loves the author. He's also read Blowback by the same author which, written before September 11, is about how the United States is making enemies all over the world with our covert CIA and our military presence and how this sets us up to be victims of serious terrorism. Johnson talks about the long-term consequences of meddling in others' affairs.

How has reading these books changed his life? He thinks about where he spends money, and, it has made him weary of Hillary. If he had not read these books by Johnson he would be less critical. Hillary, he says, as a senator, has shown how political she is, purely interested in making all the right moves. She doesn't have the courage to do what is right in Iraq. That's dangerous.

He wants a politician with an ethical code and not an interest in short-term political gain. He doesn't know, though, if Edwards or Obama would be any different. He knows, though, that Hillary is beholden to too many special interests. She's slick.

A favorite book--The Grapes of Wrath, by Steinbeck, based on pure story and the human condition. He likes it for its overall completeness. It's totally cohesive, but it's this massive story. When you read it you get the requisite feelings of despair that all good literature should instill, but there's also hope in the face of it all. That, and it's really well written.

What would his own book be about? He wouldn't write one. There are, he said, enough realities that need to be heard and he feels like his responsibility in all of it is to take in as much as he can and recommend as much as he can, but not rewrite it all in his own words.