CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - I Beg Forgiveness For I Have Sinned


By Jack Cawthon

I come to you in sin, crawling on my belly like reptile. (This lament can be found somewhere in the Good Book or in Bill Clinton's book, or both.)

I have always considered myself a conservative; I've always thought a flaming liberal was one who has been shot down by a conservative using surface to air missiles.

One is supposed to become more conservative as he or she ages. You know, sit around banging the cane on the floor and exclaiming, "Kids today don't know what hardship is. Back when I was a youngster…," and so on.

I have moved back passwards, and I don't really know what has caused it. Could it be that I caught a virus while at the university in Morgantown? Or could it be caused by a mutant gene? Or, good Lord, could it have come from reading Tony Russell columns?

I knew something had gone haywire when I picked up a paper, actually pulling it up on the computer as I don't wish to pay a steeper price for journalism than that which I've already paid with my life, and read the headline to the effect that the state is cutting $37 million from the welfare fund.

In my former life I might have muttered, "Let 'em eat commodity cheese!" and moved on to the business section. But suddenly I was struck as if by a NASCAR racer out of control on the far turn, and I read on.

Seems a family of four will be cut around $100 a month, down to around $350 and clothing vouchers for children going back to school will drop from $150 to $100.

Now, I hear you conservatives saying, "Good! About time we got tough with those loafers and unwed mothers who keep popping out litter after litter!"

But I had just read that the state had finished the year with a $61 million surplus, and then all those brags from legislators began appearing about how much their districts would benefit from the Budget Digest, the gravy of which can cause a major indigestion for those with weak stomachs. Such allotments are intended for worthy causes such as the Blue Tick Hound Show, Wally Baron-Arch Moore Memorial Parks, and the Big Puf Orange Roughage Catfish Festival. (Bobby Gene Bubba triumphed again!)

Again, I could have wiped all of this out of my mind faster than money owed to a relative, had I not become somewhat of a do-gooder from time to time in Big Puf. I had made the decision to cast my lot with those good-hearted people after years of serving as the token hillbilly in elite educational organizations so that they could meet Civil Right provisions for non-discrimination.

I had helped several people with their welfare visits. Often it meant going early in the morning, taking a number, and when called at noon, if lucky, receiving a pile of paper which would have equaled the bulk of my journalism thesis, had I written one. And then came the interviews covering conception to deception, the only way I could see to enter the system.

I am a Red Cross blood donor. The questions about my sexual history run longer and more detailed each time I volunteer. Soon, only I and a small group of nuns will be pure enough to donate blood. If all that is required to give to the Red Cross, think what is required to receive from welfare. (The analogy may not correlate, but both methods require the extraction of blood one way or another.)

And all for $350 a month for four people? Many of us spend that much just for our well balanced meals from Mickey D. A lot of folks will give up and not even attempt the ordeal, some out of pride, and others out of exhaustion; many of the needy go on needful. And there are still the remarks that people choose welfare for the benefits! I thought so at one time. Maybe those were my Goldwater years and now I'm suffering some sort of withdrawal as payback.

If I live long enough and the liberal curse keeps growing stronger, I may appear on the street corner in Morgantown carrying a sign, "Workers of the world unite!" Then I'll be mistaken for a sociology professor or an editorial writer for the Charleston Gazette. My poor old great-grandpappy will roll in his grave after taking a fatal Rebel bullet while defending old Abe and Republicanism. My poor dad, bless him, didn't live to see it, as I'm certain he would be wondering what he had done wrong as a parent. Oh the humanities! I'm turning into a, and the word sticks in my craw, Democrat!

That means for me Manchin instead of Warner, a member of the real estate family that is turning Morgantown into a city of boxes, and Kerry-Edwards to stop the insane war in Iraq. And while on that subject, I will not be forced into feeling guilt by "not supporting our troops." I am supporting our troops by urging their return home. If there were a vote allowed for the troops as to whether they would rather be threatened every day by car bombs, nutty religionists, blowing sand, or whether they would rather be home with the wife and kids shopping at Wal-Mart, there wouldn't hanging chads in Florida deciding the outcome of the election.

Kerry has seen war and terrible months as a prisoner. He knows the score by personal involvement, and he is smart or else he wouldn't have chosen John Edwards as a running mate, who some day may become a fine president. As the sun sinks slowly on the horizon Bush sticks with the old political throwback Cheny, who should have stayed in oil, preferable pumping the refined product at an Exon station. You might say, and you'd be right, that I voted for the W duo. That's why I said in the beginning, show mercy on me, as I have sinned (but I didn't share Bill Clinton's enjoyment of it).

P.S. After writing this column early Saturday morning, Shirley and I traveled over to Arthurdale in Preston County for the New Deal Festival. Arthurdale was one of Eleanor Roosevelt's homesteading projects to aid poor families during the Depression years. While I was standing in the shade of a large oak tree waiting for Shirley who was looking at crafts, I felt a presence beside me. I turned and a woman dressed in long attire and a large-brimmed hat, and homely as homemade sin, gave me a toothy smile and a sudden hug, then whispered to me, "Good job, Jack! We knew we could win you over!" And then she vanished. Who says I'm not a spirited writer?

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