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I AM TAKING A YEAR OFF, STARTING NOW | 2005-09-03

Starting now, no ifs, ands, or buts.

I am not dying, at least physically. I had always thought that was the only thing that would take me out of action for so long.

I remember a line from one of the Godfather movies that went something like, "He's been dying of the same heart condition for thirty years. He'll be here forever."

In terms of what really matters to me, the fact that I am not dying has a downside. There is something about the smell of embalming fluid that makes people take a short break from chattering about Nixon or Bush or Coolidge and actually look at what a man said as he worked his heart out to try to get ideas across.

After over half a century in this fight, when I speak of the dead, I have very specific people in mind.

They were people I worked with and whom I loved. It is a constant source of anger to me that they got all those flowers and flowery tributes after they died.

They would have much preferred a tenth of that flower money as support for what they were doing, a tenth of that attention when they needed it, a tenth of the effort on their book sales THEN.

In a wild and hilarious science fiction comedy called A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, one of the characters could not be reached because, "He's taking a year off dead for tax purposes."

Well, I am taking a year off dead for urgent health purposes. Maybe that smell of embalming fluid will make me great for twelve months.

In any case, I definitely do not have a choice.

The world will be here a year from now. I have been fighting for fifty-one years, and every one of those years were wasted by the "It's now or never" crowd who should have been helping me lay the groundwork for the future.

I remember one woman who genuinely believed that if the Catholic Kennedy beat Nixon there would never be another election.

She said, "Forget everything but winning THIS election." She never planned for anything but the political equivalent of Judgement Day.

Bless her heart, she did much more harm than good for our cause.