Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Culture Shock

The old paradigms were unraveling. The pre-recorded world was not working like it had been. The business model in the music industry, with the advent of MP3 and Napster, did not work. Even with the lawsuits. And now the local stations which carry the networks’ programming. After the ongoing collapse of the newspaper business. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox did not really understand the younger generation.

It was a matter of the relevant, in creating a culture. There was a battle over whether life was serious. In what had become the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry had taken over the news division.

The pursuit of happiness. Of iPods. Of reaching youth. Of the bytes of Apple. Within the music industry.

The old paradigms were unraveling. Over doubt. About the world of media. Over the truth. Over the definition of happiness and entertainment?
As presented by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox?

The old paradigms were unraveling. Apple. It was the same thing that got Adam in trouble. With Eve.

I had not given enough thought to the graduation gift, but I gave a new college graduate an iPod as a gift. Whatever it symbolized. About the old paradigms unraveling? My world? And whether she had learned whatever it was that should be downloaded to replace it.

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Term Limits

Watching parts of the funeral for Ted Kennedy yesterday, it hit me how few people who have been elected to recent public office in the United States wear eyeglasses in public. The president and those living ex-presidents. All the first ladies. Senators. And what good vision the elected government representatives had.

Or was it just vanity of vanities? The model of good government started with good looks?

My all time favorite forward was written in September 1986 in a book by Scott Walker. He was then working for the Minnesota-based Graywolf Press:

“After a time, some of us learn (and some more slowly than others) that life comes down to some simple things. How we love. How alert we are. How curious we are. Love, attention, curiosity. Layer by layer we discover and peel away superstition, fantasies, projections, levels of hate and anger and confusion….”

Woodstock & Stardust

Woodstock. The musical world was remembering what happened near Woodstock, New York 40 years ago.

I had watched the documentary “Woodstock: Then and Now” last night. And I woke up hearing Van Morrison sing “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

I was in high school 40 years ago. Perhaps I was an idealist at the time, but the world had seemed a lot more equal. Those Woodstock musicians had helped with a sense of vitality to point out a few problems with the world. With the Jimmie Hendrix improvised version of the National Anthem, which had seemed to address a war in Asia, race relations in the United States, or maybe the state of the union between men and women.

There was a lot of soul in the music. The documentary seemed to me to point out in its ending what was missing in the music today, watching kids today try to emulate the past, as they learned to make music. The music today which all looked like a Disney production. To make money.

The vitality of Woodstock: Kids listening to music, shouting “What the hell is wrong with you?” back at their parents. It was the same lyrics they had heard since they had emulated the hairstyle of The Beattles. Educated long-haired kids who had to go back home. Kids who for a longest time had been asked the same question, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kids who still loved their parents. Despite the world.

I watched the documentary “Woodstock: Then and Now” last night. About songs of protest and songs of love. And I woke up hearing Van Morrison sing “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Woodstock was all about vitality. About having fun. With little concern for making money. It was about a rain storm that humbled the crowd to equality. It was about a time of innocence. When musical artists were not concerned about impressing the audience as much as each other. Woodstock was about the muse. And about the true meaning of music.

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The Gravity of Money

It was the question of the year. How could home values go up or down so quickly? Where were the rating agencies? These were just opinions? Credit worthy? Fluctuating values. “Systemic risk.”

The changing valuations. The fluctuating currency value. Amidst the change in equity. In my house.

Equity markets. Falling equity in my home. When everyone felt secure with equity. It was as if equity was the purpose of life.

There were commissions involved with security. And commissions involved with exchange. Where had those commissions been?

That Filipino guy the other night. That guy, wanting to have sex. The nightclubs were filled with people like this. Just sex. Without concern with equity in a relationship. Without concern for real love. Without any real gentleness or compassion about a mate.

Slavery. Whether it was the Hebrews in Egypt or Africans sold for a cotton plantation. We were all descendants of slaves. Sex. Slaves to sex. But with choice. The choice beyond just having sex with someone in a relationship. The choice to marry someone. How many times?

How to teach the souls of the young? Teaching that “gentle” part of “gentlemen.” The graciousness. Learning the kind of God to believe in through religious education. And about that sanctity of marriage.

Searching for love. Little had changed from the past. The restlessness amidst all the change. I felt it upon my own college graduation. I wanted to get out of there. And make some money.

Memorial Day. Remembering the past. The great tradition, amidst all this change. And amidst the change, searching for God.

As to those outward signs: you had to be looking. A lot of people passed them by without a clue as to what was going on.

There was the rhythm of work. Lolling us. Investment bankers. Mergers & Acquisitions. Equities.

In partnerships. Keeping behavior in check. With liabilities assumed in partnerships. But behavior was not kept in check with the change to stock companies. There were dangers of greed. “Wall Street is a very dangerous place.” It was worse than polygamy.

Amidst all the change, to keep making money. Once the norm has been relativized, there was no obvious way to declare a way of life beyond the pale. Former Treasury official John Taylor, who had devised the “Taylor Rule” as a formula for rate-setting based on the outlook for inflation and growth, said the Fed’s growing balance sheet is a “systemic risk” because it may be difficult to unwind quickly enough without igniting inflation. Since last September 2008, the Fed’s balance sheet has more than doubled to about $2 trillion as it purchased government and corporate debt to help unfreeze credit markets and support banks’ demand for cash.

“Systemic risk.” Rate-setting. Rating agencies. Searching for value. Communal belief in value.

Communal beliefs were more than just opinions. Communal beliefs in action were more than just opinions.

Was there honesty in this work? At work? In the currency? In the trading? Was there honesty in my words? Or was there a lot of passing of the buck, the way government works.

Was there honesty in my words? In my prayer? Which reflected my actions? Was there any prayer by these people?

Falling valuations. Where was the honesty? Some got lost in the search and gave up.

Values. Opinions? These were just opinions? Or beliefs? Communal beliefs. Community’s norms.

Communal beliefs in action were more than just opinions. As to those outward signs: you had to be looking. A lot of people passed them by without a clue as to what was going on. Relying totally on those rating agencies. Passing the buck.

Searching for love. Searching for shelter. Amidst all the change. Searching for belief.

Up Tempo

Formed.

A river. Forming boundaries. Rivers divided states and provided separated nations. Rivers have an affect on people and their lives.

River banks. The affect on people and their lives,over-flowing. Rivers are always changing. The Army Corps of Engineers is involved in monitoring rivers and their flow here. Because rivers form boundaries.

My first job out of college brought me to the Red River of the North. There is no other river like it. The Red River flows north to Canada. That first spring I heard a lot of talk about dikes and their importance. Every spring, with snow melt slower at the mouth of the river in Canada, where temperatures are always colder, floods are a threat. The dikes are built to keep the boundaries bound.

This week the National Guard was building dikes with the local people. Protecting property, in a land where is no protection. If the dikes burst, most people had no insurance. Those home-owner insurance policy do not provide coverage for the peril of flood damage. If you live in a flood zone, your local banker knew it. If your banker is still local. And if you did not live near the river, 99% of the people were not going to purchase flood insurance which had to be bought 30 days prior to a flood anyway. And contents cannot be covered by the National Flood Insurance program.

Rivers and destinations. The path taken. The people met. The effect on river flow. In all the places I ever lived, of the 5 Midwest states, the general public in North Dakota was the nicest I ever witnessed. I think it was due to the harsh winters that are beyond description. And the weather and the rivers never really change. The affect of river flow. It is, I learned in geography class in the 3rd grade with Mrs. Wolfe, the effect that mountains and streams have on developing character.

This week with the Red River 22 feet above the normal level, the Coast Guard has been monitoring dikes. If this was a building that would be more than a 2-story house, miles after mile. The people were holding their breath, after hearts had beat so fast exerting to get the dikes at least a foot about the projected flood level, in the ever changing world.

Is it 2 million sandbags that were protecting the boundaries of the Red River? Hastily built dikes. Those dikes and their hastily sent prayers were all that are left this week. As most of the exposed people wait, with no insurance. For water levels to recede. For spring to come to Manitoba. For life to return to normal. For things that the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers had no control over. People prayed for warmer spring temperatures that were not above average, for calm winds that would not wash out the dikes, that their lives would return to “normal.”

For normal. For what always had constituted peace time. With the National Guard. And the Army Corps of Engineers. So people could go about their work.

March in North Dakota is such a volatile time of year. When death gave way to life. In lambing season.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

  

Cinderella.  Glass slippers.  A poor girl.  It was a story about illusion.  The story was really about wealth and poverty.  And the author in the end ties the illusion into romance.  Marrying well.  Match.com in the fairy tales. 

 

At the time of the New Millennium, John Paul II proposed that debt forgiveness be instituted for 3rd world countries, keeping a custom from an age long ago.  No one one on Wall Street appeared to give this idea serious consideration.  The idea seemed more like a story for young kids.  There seemed to be a fairness missing. 

 

In a piece today, Elizabeth Moyer in Forbes quotes CreditSights, a research firm in New York and London, that so far the U.S. government has put itself on the hook for some $5 trillion in an attempt to arrest a collapse of the financial system.  The estimate includes many of the various solutions cooked up by Paulson and Ben Benake.  “The FDIC, meanwhile, is guaranteeing $1.5 trillion of senior unsecured bank debt.” 

 

In a speech yesterday at the Treasury Department., Henry Paulson said: “I believe we have taken the necessary steps to prevent a broad systemic event. Both at home and around the world, we have already seen signs of improvement.”

 

The environment of leveraged borrowing is over.  It is over for government.  It is over for the home owner.  Bankers, LIBOR rates, big money realize that in a deflation, you need cash to keep going, to keep your business in operation.  In a new era of deflation, you want cash.  To offer low interest rates when low interest rates developed this quagmire is beyond logic and is throwing oil on a fire.  You can no longer create wealth with illusion.   

 

The axis of power at the Treasury Department has included an imposing army of top-of-their-class Goldman Sachs people. From the September 21, 2008 Washington Post was a letter written by Eric D. Hovde, chief executive of Washington-based Hovde Capital.  “Firms such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman not only made billions of dollars packaging and selling these toxic loans, they also wagered with their own capital that the values of these investments would decline, further raising their profits. If any other industries engaged in such knowingly unscrupulous activities, there would be an immediate federal investigation.  Why is Washington so complicit in this intricate and lucrative affair? First, the Fed laid the groundwork for both these asset bubbles by lowering interest rates to historic lows.”

 

The axis of power at the Treasury Department includes a lot of people who must be afraid to tell Henry Paulson “NO!” 

 

In a piece in Fortune in the last week of September 2008, Alan Sloan wrote: “It is apparent to me that Washington’s attempt to bail out banks and brokers will do nothing but add to consumer debt, weaken the US dollar, and literally waste $700+ billion dollars which could have gone to more productive uses. Since the markets blew up in the summer of 2007, Paulson and Bernanke have tried one thing after another to stimulate lending and restore confidence but nothing has worked for more than a brief period.  For the past 14 months Paulson and Bernanke have thrown hundreds of billions of dollars of fed assets into the market, yet lenders still won’t lend.”                                                           

  

According to an October 17, 2008 piece in the New York Times, as he fought for the survival of LehmanBrothers this summer, “the CEO of Lehman Brothers, Richard Fulda, Jr., made a final plea to regulators to turn his investment bank into a bank holding company which would allow it to receive constant access to federal funding.  According to an October 17, 2008 piece in the New York Times, according to a former Lehman executive who requested anonymity because of continuing investigations of the firm’s demise, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy Geithner told him no. Its options exhausted, Lehman filed for bankruptcy in mid-September.  A week later, Goldman and Morgan Stanley were designated bank holding companies.” 

 

“That was our idea three months ago, and they wouldn’t let us do it,” said a former senior Lehman executive who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. “But when Goldman got in trouble, they did it right away. No one could believe it.”

 

(http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/business/19gold.html?_r=1&pagewanted=4&referer=sphere_related_content&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin)

 

 No one could believe that Cinderella had been at that ball.  Eight years ago, no one gave serious consideration to the idea of debt forgiveness.  No one could believe the idea.  I still have a hard time getting a handle on credit swaps, how this was all derived.  I know that Henry Paulson was at the ball when these ideas which were driving valuations down were derived at Goldman Sachs.  Now he was at the printing presses of currency.  I cannot believe all that is happening.  What Eric D. Hovde never quite explained when he said “Firms such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman not only made billions of dollars packaging and selling these toxic loans, they also wagered with their own capital that the values of these investments would decline, further raising their profits.”  The unscrupulous activities involved people and institutions who had contracted for new building with these credits swaps attached like your mortgagee requring you to purchase life insurance on the amount of your loan when you took out a mortgage.  After Lehman Brothers went poof in the night, builders who might cancel a construction project still would have to pay Lehman if they cancelled their project.  

How soon now before money as the medium of exchange would be questioned? 

 

Suddenly debt forgiveness was being talked about for every corporation with a spin doctor and a lobbyist.    In my view, Henry Paulson should have just asked for forgiveness for his mistakes.  “As we forgive those…..”

God Bless America

In the modern world, a blessing had become only symbolic. But it still involved the traditions of a family. In the past, in the world before television, the blessing WAS the legacy. It had involved a moral vision.

In the televised world with sponsors, with 120 channels to choose from, the world had come apart. Children of television saw the needs that generations of people who went before us never knew existed.

This week there would be the last televised debate, uninterrupted. America was looking for a leader who had been blessed by a spirit of the past that involved a moral vision. In my view, neither candidate showed much to date that they could carry on a tradition. While in the Senate, these two senators, both who employed a staff that was paid to help them see things, had missed a lot. They both were 2 leader who failed to guide the country with a moral vision. They might be forgiven for time restraints that involved gathering the funding to participate in this $1 billion presidential campaign.

At the last debate we heard one candidate speak of a crisis of confidence. Today there is a story about the crisis on Wall Street which has become the issue of Election 2008. There was a quote from Kevin Giddis, head of fixed-income trading at Morgan Keegan, who was trying to explain what had happened. He said. “I think we’re dealing with more confidence than substance.” With $560 trillion that was written by the 5 investment banking houses, Mr. Giddis, the confidence in people like you has been lost and is not coming back.

It was the derivative, market, stupid. Wall Street has with campaign 2008 stained everyone. It was no longer subprime mortgages, Mr. Giddis. What don’t you get Mr. Giddis?

The financial media has finally explained the goings-on in Washington and Wall Street since September 15th. Here are the Cliff Notes, Mr. Giddis, Mr. Obama, Mr. McCain. There were 5 investment banking houses not being regulated by the Securities Exchange Comminssion. The parties were Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs. The current Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, as well as the former Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, were CEOs at Goldman Sachs. During their reign at Goldman Sachs, the derivative market exploded. Paulson’s background includes rising through the ranks of Goldman Sachs since 1974, becoming a partner in 1982, co-head of investment banking in 1990, chief operating officer in 1994, and forcing out his co-chairman Jon Corzine in 1998, in what Floyd Norris of the New York Times termed a “coup,” taking over the post of CEO. (In 1970, Paulson entered the Nixon administration fresh from Harvard Business School Masters program, working first as staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense and then as office assistant to John Erlichman in 1972-73.) Paulson is a Republican. Rubin is a Democrat advising Obama.

There now is a battle of ideology going on between the credit markets and the equity markets. In the current envirnment, no matter the moves put on by Henry Paulson, a son of Wall Street, banks were not buying in. That was why credit markets froze. Bankers have always been conservatives. They were not buying into the social engineering on capitalism. It was not, Mr. Giddis, an issue “more confidence than substance.” Bankers neither trust the balance sheet of another bank nor the government. Nor do I.

Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, apparently thinks the Fed lower interest rates, exactly what created this mess, was going to send the equity markets up. The truth was there really any not arrows left in the quiver to policy makers, as they had all been used, apparently for political purposes.

Those traditions of a family: Read again the story of Isaac as he tried to pass on his tradition, his moral vision, to one of his sons. The question was which son.

A blessing was about making ME holy. Isaaac knew that. The meaning was not a wish. It was not an expression of astonishment or surprise like with a sneeze, as my unabridged dictionary suggested.

This crisis was not just about a failure of leadership. It was the system that was televised. The televised world with its 120 channels, all dominated by political ads, used to provide a place where one soap company could argue with another which could remove the stains the best , which could wash your hair the best. Now there were 50 feet rows of shampoos and 50 foot rows of laundry detergent. And in the end there really was not much difference, only a brand name, and issues of soap bubbles. Only some brands charged more for it brand name and soap bubbles. The cost of those commercials had been passed along, and many soap companies paid stores for preferential placement.

The 2 presidential candidates never had a vision of the developing problem as they focused on taxing power. Both had been in Washington for all of this, watching. Maybe like most of us, they just watched on television. They might have been too busy to realize that there is not enough money to fund health care with the recent crash. There is not enough money for tax cuts. There is not enough money to be waging war.

It was a new age for soap, with old ideas, old arguements. But plenty of shelf space. Those soap bubbles had burst too. It was time to come clean. God bless America.

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Electoral College: Welcome Week

It was another Olympic year. And as one Olympics were ending, another was getting into shape.

There was a real irony that it was the united South that has been deciding elections for the last 40 years.

The South was once solid for the Democrats, until the votes over civil rights legislation in the 1960s. The facts are, neither John Kerry nor Al Gore won a single southern state in the electoral college in the last two elections. The way those Florida chads were counted. In the 1960s the Republican Party began to make inroads in the South after the Grand Old Party had suffered from its identification with Lincoln and the freeing of the slaves.

Through the time of Lyndon Johnson, the Democrats controlled all the levels of power during the Jim Crow years. Johnson got behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it was ensnarled in Congress. As a result of his support over the issue of civil rights, George Wallace entered the presidential contest and the once solid Democratic Party of the South had lost their base of support, for the most part, ever since.

The South was defined to be the eleven states of the Confederacy. The Republican Party began to make inroads in 1968 and in 1972, with Wallace out of the picture. In 1968, Nixon won in the border South and Florida, Humphrey carried Texas but lost the rest of the South, with Wallace taking Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Jimmy Carter appealed to regional pride to put the South back in the Democrat’s column in 1976, but lost (narrowly) all but his home state of Georgia in 1980. Bill Clinton won with the regional pride of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky voters in 1992 and 1996, with Georgia in 1992 and Florida in 1996. Little research was required with the abysmal failure of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, in the electoral college.

It was the united South that was of interest. Journalists with no understanding of religion failed to understand that the principal purpose of religion was to unite people. Religion and politics had the same fundamental purpose, and that was formulating a common belief in purpose.

As the New Deal made sense to Catholics, especially the ethnic working-class Catholics, with their extended families in urban neighborhoods. Their lives centered around parish and school. Catholics had their own diocese newspaper, entertainment, and feast days. Assimilated into American culture and democracy, by participating in local politics and unions this was how Catholics came to understand rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Many non-Catholics remained prejudiced against Catholics in 1960 because of their “strange” religious practices. In those days, Catholics never ate meat on Fridays. It was a communal thing. There was no real dogma in fish, even though some saw a theology in Starkist’s Charlie the Tuna, who was never quite good enough. It was pre-Vatican II as ethnic America still lived mostly in the cities, and maybe Charlie really was a Protestant.

That anti-Catholic prejudice would affect the 1960 election. If you missed it, John F. Kennedy and his lovely wife were Catholic. In his run for president, to address those concerns, Kennedy attempted to make his religion inconsequential to his qualifications during his famous Sept. 12, 1960, speech to the Houston Ministerial Association:

“I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.”

Quoting from Olga Bonfiglio book review of Michael Sean Winter’s Left at the Altar, “Kennedy argued for a ‘privacy of faith,’” which attempted to distinguish between his ‘religion problem’ and the ‘real issues.’ In doing so, he misconstrued the nature of religion, says Michael Sean Winters,” and made a critical shift away from the fundamental basis of any faith which is to unite people. And in a way little understood, the torch was passed to a new generation.

Quoting from ideas of Michael Sean Winters, the issues of the 1960s turned out to be civil rights and the Vietnam War; in the 1970s, it was abortion and consumerism. Americans wanted to debate issues on moral grounds. It was Whip Inflation Now, meat prices, oil boycotts. To quote the theologian, Yogi Berra, “Déjà vu all over again.” Religion was thrust into the center of every election.

The abortion issue of the 1970s separated Catholics and the Democrats. Using the same Kennedy’s “privacy” doctrine to justify their position, liberals responded by being more strident in defending Roe v. Wade. And followers of Catholic moral philosophy struggled with their conscious to vote for any Democrat. Gradually becoming disaffected by the “liberal” politics the Democrats had represented, the Democrats split the Catholic vote.

At the same time, writes Michael Sean Winters, in the 1960s, 70s, and 80’s, immigrant families fled ethnic neighborhood and parishes for suburban life, ‘where they adopted ‘new secular and commercial identities’ that further separated them from their church—and the Democrats.”

And as the Democrats appeared to be irreligious, the Republicans began to look like the party of God, appealing to followers of the born-again evangelical movement.

Where at one time there was discussion of the Catholic vote, in the new millennium the focus was on the evangelicals. And on megachurches.

These megachurches function in the contemporary suburbs in very much the same way the Catholic parish functioned in the urban ethnic ghettos of the early 20th century had. Quoting from ideas of Michael Sean Winters, if ethnic immigrants faced the alienation that came from leaving their homelands to come to America, today’s suburbanites suffer the alienation that contemporary consumerism breeds.

Like the ethnic parish of old or the Jewish synagogue, the megachurch of today creates a subculture with bookstores, schools, day care, and a network of small groups for teens, for college students, for Moms, that meet weekly to discuss how their faith has impacted their daily lives. The bookstores sell books extolling a devotional approach from child-rearing to finance. Megachurches create a humane world for people whose sense of their own humanity has been uprooted by contemporary culture and its economic imperatives. And social texture grows out of its religious ground.

As Democrats ignored those Americans Catholics who tried to be deeply religious, Democrats appeared to be irreligious and the Republicans began to look like “God’s Party,” relying on the evangelical vote.

So it was the days of another election. And it would once again be about the South. Really since the days of Thomas Jefferson, it always had been about the South. Slave or free states. Was the abortion debate really about ‘privacy of faith?’ Was the abortion debate the foundation of moral relativism in modern American culture? Was the abortion debate about a policy of states’ rights versus federal rights in another age? The real irony in all of this united South was that the South which has been deciding elections for the last 40 years was made up of children of slave-owners and slaves who never had come to grips with the dysfunction of this history. And the results of the dysfunction of this history, over slavery, over abortion, were guiding the sails of the ship of American history which has led us to Iraq and Afghanistan.

All the while, in light of the tenets of Washington’s Farewell Address, I question the foundation for the mission overseas which has jeopardized the ideals of the constitution. And it was religion that had given the jib of the sails to what would happen once again down South. We were still all sons and daughters of slaves and slave owners, dealing with the past. And dealing with the still solid South.

 

Religion and politics had the same fundamental purpose, and that was formulating a common belief in purpose. And journalists with no clear understanding of religion failed to understand that the principal purpose of both was to unite people.
 

The Sound Bytes of Crickets

 

 

Was it politics or religion that was the opium of the masses?

The continental divide:  what was its meaning in a land situated between 2 different oceans?  If this divide was a border between two watersheds so water on one side of the line flowed to one ocean, water on the other side went to the other ocean, how could the divide be in Montana?   

Crickets and their meaning:  In the waning days of summer, crickets were back.  It was not that school was just 2 weeks away.  Rather it meant that crickets were restless, looking for mates.  At night.  A lot like people.  In August, I  wanted to be outside, moving in the waning days of summer.  I wanted to act, not contemplate. 

 

Politics.  In the waning days of The Bushes and The Clintons.  Politics was now all a show. There were millions of dollars pumped in to elect someone.  Politics was a machineA dog and pony show, with actors.  This year because it just goes on and on, with those never ending commercials, I see politics as filling an emptiness.  As people went in search of true ideals, was this on earth, the substitute, to fill the void?  Hire someone to write speeches.  As one candidate approached about running for the Minnesota House of Representative was told, “We’ll tell you how to vote.”  Surrounded by beauty, we all loved an illusion.  Hire a model.   The promise never seemed fulfilled. 

 

Media focus in the past on the labor vote, the Catholic vote, the gun vote, has led me to miss the power of the born again in recent American presidential elections. “The Bushes and Clintons have dominated modern American public life for twenty years because they have embraced the born again and understood them,” wrote a Republican operative, Doug Wead, on his website.  But like the continental divide, was there any real difference? 

 

Politics.  Religion.  My grandmother once told me never to talk about politics or religion to people outside family.  Was it media ignorance or just this old time etiquette that had led the different media to shy away from the talk of religion with politics?  I always seemed to hear a lot of analysis of the “Catholic vote” since the days that John Kennedy was elected.  No one analyzed how the Swedes of Minnesota, Lutherans, felt about anyone candidate.  As if they were of one mind.  It would seem that it had been the evangelical vote all along and nothing else that determined which way the nation would lean.  But how did those evangelical pastors keep all those people together?  Why did they not learn to think for themselves?  Or was this the union we were all searching for? 

Was it just about the sounds of the season.  Promise unfilled?  Like those crickets, we were all in search of a co-star.  Wanting to act.  Looking for mates.  Looking for unity, union.  Looking for meaning from the seasons.  In the dark. 

 

I never believed a change in water flow acted differently on the other side of the continental divide.  They said the same thing in grade school about the equator and its affect on water flow.  Mostly, in the light of day, things always looked the same to me.  But I have yet to get the chance to flush a toilet on the other side to test what was the truth.