Monday, February 29, 2016


I once jokingly explained why California seemed to be the breeding ground for odd and impractical ideas and culture, by attributing the phenomenon to the Rocky Mountains: all the nuts roll downhill and don’t stop till they reach the ocean. The east coast, I was sure, was protected by the Mississippi River. Since then I’ve moved to the least populated county east of that river, a place with the highest mean elevation east of that same liquid barrier. And I’ve learned a thing or two.

First of all, not all the nuts roll downhill. Some of them remain ever stuck at the top of the rocks. Those that do roll down to the east seem somehow to be able to float until they climb out of the water and head to the Atlantic. Perhaps after rolling far enough to enter the water all the internal matter has degraded sufficiently to allow the empty shell to float. I don’t know. It seems likely, though. Then somehow these eastern nuts come to rest on the shores of the Atlantic.

Now, sitting on my Allegheny mountainside, I have a different perspective. It applies particularly to the crop of nuts known as "politicians." It seems, first of all, that no matter your taste in nuts, there is one for every tongue. It’s really hard to tell, of course, because instead of offering a sample to taste, we are instead given bites that hardly satisfy, much less give something to roll around in our mouth and decide if it matches our preference. Too often, at least in my mouth, I simply want to spit out whatever I’ve sampled. Besides that, there is a similarity of taste, regardless of the name, and they all seem to cost the same.

This week (tomorrow, as I write this) offers what is known as "Super Tuesday." I suppose "super" applies to the number of primaries being conducted on the first day of March, but I suspect that some of the candidates hope that the results will bring super support for their promises. Again, I don’t know. Late tomorrow night we’ll have lots of television "journalists" and their paid commentators telling us what the voting means, and expect us to believe. I will miss most of that because as in past years, I’ll be at our polling place from five in the morning until we have closed and counted and reported the results, which means I will arrive home around the time the polls on the west coast have closed and the pundits will have told us (without all the ballots counted), who and what has won or lost. Not that that means anything.

Come November, when we go through the final phase of the election process, the same people who will be so sure tomorow night of how the world will shift in 2017, will have a chance to tell us again what only they seem able to know before the last vote is counted and posted. It is a remarkable process, built from asking people who don’t know about things they might not understand, to give a single word endorsement or refutation of person or proposal which may or may not have anything to do with the running of a town or county, state or nation. Then these same experts will tell us how the world will end, and probably when. And then, of course, we will repeat the process when the next election cycle comes around.

If all of this seems negative, I must admit that I have some reservations about what the world my great grandchildren will inherit. My generation has done what it could, not always the best or in the best way (but we are still here and we know there is a future). Some of what is being proposed seems useful and positive. Too much appears to me to be negative (including some of what is written here). I hope we wake up on Wednesday (and again in November) to something positive and good.

We have tried to prepare the ground for the next crop. Let’s hope it is something more than nuts.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul,
    I just finished reading "The Deep State" by former Congressional aid Mike Lofgren. If you want some insight into some of the hidden forces that control our political process, check this book out. Of course, the pundits are not allowed to refer to these forces, but they have a huge amount of control. The interesting thing about this electoral cycle is that two candidates, Trump and Bernie, appear to have disregarded pressure from the Deep State, although Trump, if god forbid he should be elected, will be a super-militarist, which is just fine with the defense contractors. Bernie would actually try to go another way, disinvesting in military hardware and adventures, and spending the money on the people. And he may get assassinated for his trouble—as JFK was for a similar position (dismantling the CIA and refusing to continue in Vietnam—besides making peace with the Soviets, and Castro). Hillary may beat him and keep the Deep State in business, since she's so pro-foreign adventures (more than Obama).
    I also suggest you read the very revealing "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer, essentially about how the Koch brothers have created the equivalent of a third party to favor their bottom line. It's nefarious—and you won't hear about it in the mainstream media.

    Cousin Joel