Archive for October, 2013

  • Blog
  • October 22nd, 2013

In The Doghouse

By Joel M. Vance

Bird dogs are like your babies.  Just as you don’t admit that your kid is so dumb he can’t tie his shoes (especially if he’s over 21), neither do you confess that your bird dog couldn’t find a quail if it were stapled to his nose.

You will, however, laugh about the time the kid ate the modeling clay in Kindergarten.  And, often under the mellowing influence of a couple of shots of anti-devil medicine, bird dog owners confess to horrible misdeeds by their beloved companions, usually with a bit of pride, as if Streak’s terrible behavior is so untoppable as to be a source of admiration.

It isn’t untoppable, of course–the next guy is impatiently waiting for you to finish your story so he can tell about the time his dog malfunctioned.

But the time my dog fell in love is hard to beat.  I saw the waitress’s eyes widen as she looked past me through the restaurant window, into the parking lot.  “Are those dogs out there?” she asked incredulously.

Instantly, I knew they not only were dogs, but whose dogs they were and what they were doing.  The two dogs were in the back seat of my car, a venerable Mercedes whose sleek exterior concealed rust better than it did philandering bird dogs.

A Mercedes normally is not a bird hunter’s car, but this one had seen better days (in fact, every one before that day qualified as “better”).  But it still retained its elegant lines and the unique hood ornament that bespeaks refinement.

We were grouse hunting in northeast Iowa.  The dogs were Samantha, a diminutive and saucy English setter belonging to my hunting pal Spence Turner, and my lusty Brittany, Chip (with heavy emphasis on “lusty”).  Samantha was in heat, but Spence alleged his vet had defused her with an injection of exotic chemicals.

And so it seemed, for the two dogs made the long ride north from Missouri with passion under control and hunted together with no indication of unbridled lust.

We decided to reward ourselves for conserving ammunition and the apparently non-existent local grouse population with a good meal at the best local eatery, a dinner playhouse.

Now, however, the waitress was aghast.  Not nearly as aghast as the theater patrons who began to arrive.  I don’t know what was playing (perhaps Desire Under The Elms) but it must have been something appealing to the geriatric female, for a procession of blue- haired beldames, clad in the northeast Iowa equivalent of mink and ermine (skunk and rabbit), struggled from elegant Lincolns and Chryslers and, spying some peculiar activity in the graceful Mercedes across the lot, tottered over to see…and, clutching withered hands to palpitating bosoms, reeled into the restaurant, gasping in shock.

It’s difficult to pretend you know nothing about bird dogs in love when you’re dressed in chamois shirts and brush pants.

I blamed it on Spence who has a history of malfunctioning dogs.  Spence is fond of snacking on health food, like chocolate- covered raisins (which keep you regular even as they rot your teeth), and had a large sack of them between the front seats of his station wagon.

His bird dogs were in a portable kennel in back.  He was due at a dress-up affair later that evening, so had his clean clothing in a duffel bag which, unfortunately as it turned out, he left unzipped on the passenger seat.

He took one dog into the quailfields, leaving the other apparently fastened in the kennel.  Apparently never is good enough with bird dogs.  They have the will for which the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way” was coined.

The sulking left-behind dog pushed the kennel door open (and had to scoot the kennel backward to do it), somehow writhed out and over the kennel into the car, instantly smelled those chocolate-covered raisins with the incredibly sensitive nose of the setter, ate about a pound of them…and then proceeded to use Spence’s duffel bag as a Port-A-Potty.  It then chewed the seat cushion into shreds.

Spence’s priorities were obvious when he came on the scene an hour later.  “He ate my raisins!” he howled.

Guff, my present Lord of the Manure, er…Manor, somehow clambered onto a pool table when he was a tiny puppy and chewed the corners off several pockets, resulting in openings you could shoot a basketball into.

I wondered how he could have climbed onto that table until a few months later when I stuck him behind a six-foot chain link fence and he went up and over it like a Capuchin monkey.  It took enough wire to corral a giraffe herd before he was contained and he still spends much of each day prowling the dog run, looking up, seeking the weak link.

Nothing is beyond the determined bird dog.  A friend once spent a long day hunting waterfowl.  He checked into a motel, then decided to get something to eat.  He left his Lab, a burly specimen, in the motel room, but had enough sense to know an active, inquisitive dog alone in a motel room is as dangerous as 50 pounds of gelignite.  So he shut the dog in the bathroom.

Nothing but tile and porcelain, too tough for the toughest Lab.  Yeah, sure.

My friend’s first indication of trouble was when he returned after a fine meal and the headlights revealed water seeping under the motel room door.

The Lab had gotten in the bathtub, somehow managed to turn on the faucet and, in its unbridled joy at discovering a private waterfall, danced around until it stomped the drain plug shut.

There never was a happier Labrador retriever than the one that greeted his master, along with a wall of water, as he opened the motel room door.

My favorite story of dog depravity occurred some years ago when a Missouri forester decided to breed his female Lab to a husky male owned by a fellow Department of Conservation employee.

The forester took the female to pick up her date in Rolla.  He collected the big Lab and started back for his home in Steelville.  The two dogs winked at each other, nuzzled and whispered suggestively, but the cool wind in the back of the open Conservation Department pickup kept their passion under control.

The forester, swung onto Main Street in St. James, a small, tree-lined town about halfway home…and found himself at the end of a long parade.

It was the annual Founder’s Day festivities and the streets were jammed with people.  Mickey tried to turn onto a side street, but they had been barricaded for the parade.  Ahead of him were convertibles with the Queen and her attendants, the high school band, floats featuring the latest in farm equipment.  Traffic filled in behind him and he had no choice but to go on.

Farmers chewed Day’s Work and opined that the parades weren’t as exciting as they used to be.  Old ladies fanned themselves and thought of their lost youth.  Teenagers flirted shamelessly.  And, speaking of flirting, it was at that moment that the two dogs in the back of the pickup succumbed to passion.

They’re still talking about the utterly unique Department of Conservation float in the Founder’s Day parade…..

There’s an old saying in bird hunter circles: “Every man is entitled to one good dog in his life.”

That’s what’s known as wishful thinking.

But the definitions of “good dog” vary.  For one hunter, it’s a robot dog that finds birds with the efficiency of an accountant balancing a ledger, no waste motion, no fire, just covey, covey, covey.

How boring!

Then there’s the dog with warts.  Like Old Pete, for example.  Old Pete was a gnarled pointer that limped out to greet me one day at a dilapidated farmhouse.

“Why dontcha take Ol’ Pete along,” said the farmer.  “He don’t get to hunt much, but he’s a purty good ol’ dog.”

Yeah, I thought.  Only thing this old mutt hunts is a place to lie down.

Pete wagged a tail that looked like a transmission axle.  It apparently had been broken in about five places and none of the breaks had set right.

He had warts and skinned places and was knobby where he wasn’t supposed to be.  He had to be the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.

My Brittanies bounded into the birdfields with untrammeled fire.  Pete gimped along, occasionally pausing to smell the flowers.  I had visions of him collapsing on the back side of the farm and me carrying him home.

A couple of times, I growled, “Go on home, Pete!  Beat it!” but the dog just hobbled along.  Probably didn’t even hear me, since I’m sure he was as deaf as he was infirm.

And then I saw it happen, a transformation unmatched since the the frog turned into Prince Charming.  Pete paused as a vagrant breeze entered those elderly, worn nostrils.  He began to stiffen, as if congealing, leaning forward, neck extending.  The lopsided tail rose like the battle flag of a warship and froze at full mast.  One foreleg came up as elegantly as a dowager’s pinkie extended from a porcelain cup.

Pete was on point.

The old dog in him faded and vanished, replaced by a vision glimpsed only on old ammunition company calendars.  The tail seemed to straighten, lose its ugly kinks.

Awed, I stepped in front of the dog and looked back.  Pete’s yellow eyes were unblinking, fixed on a past more glorious than mine.

I took one more step and a quail burst from the grass and I killed it.  Pete deflated, became once more the gimpy old farm dog.  But for a moment frozen in time he had been four years old and able to run the world.

Unaccountably, I felt a lump in my throat.  It isn’t given to many of us to go home again, even for an instant.


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  • Blog
  • October 13th, 2013

The Pie Supper

 By Joel M. Vance

It was the last day of August and the late evening was hot and sweet with the humid consequence of summer.  Second cutting hay lay browning and rake- rifted in the roadside fields.  Black-eyed Susans defied the arid sun.  A dove, picking up grit along the highway, started up at the approach of the car and juked through a break in the trees.

“That’s what we’re here for,” I said, and the drowsing Brittany in the back seat perked up his ears.  “Birrrrrd!” I said and the dog leaped into the front seat, peering intently through the window, nose wipes smearing the glass.  I laughed.   “Cool it,” I said.  “Not till tomorrow.”

I cracked the car window and felt the dry wash of the airconditioner flow out, the thick perfume of the countryside pour in.  I switched off the air conditioner.  It was tolerable outside and I wanted once again to smell the familiar smells of the old home place.  It had been ten years since I was home–if you could call home the old farmstead where I was raised, but which was long gone from our family.

Not only was it out of family ownership, it was abandoned as well, foreclosed on and waiting a sheriff’s sale.

My folks made it on 320 acres most of their lives until the bigger-and-better farmers came along in the 1950s and priced them out of the only life they’d ever loved.  Dad got a job repairing chain saws and Mom worked in a family grocery that in turn went out of business ten years later, victim of the chain stores.  They talk about man finally being freed of his chains.  Hah!

My parents aged visibly and  sold the farm.  They moved to a tiny house in town.  I was in college, then working in the city, then married and divorced.  And they died, one by one, and I went to both funerals without shedding a tear.  I just felt a bit more lonely each time.  One of my cousins was at the second funeral and I didn’t know him.  He was bald and sagging.  Something had stolen the freckle-faced kid I grew up with.  He tried to sell me an insurance policy, using the fact of my mother’s death as proof of its need.  “You never know when your time is up,” he said gently.  “It’s wise to be prepared.”

“I’ll just go home and lie on the couch with my hands folded across my chest for the rest of my life,” I said sarcastically.  “Then I’ll really be prepared.”  He looked hurt and drifted away.

The idea of buying back the old home place had briefly crossed my mind, but I quickly rejected that puerile fantasy.  Not for me to go bust like the succession of dreamers who bought the place from my father and from each other.  I only grew up there.  Sentiment isn’t something I carried away with me, like I did the scar on my leg where I fell over the pump while playing catch with my Dad, or the one on my chin where I fell off the haywagon.

“Why am I here?” I asked the dog.  “This is stupid.  You can’t go home again.  It’s an axiom.”  The Brittany wiggled his butt in agreement.  He knew why he was here–to hunt.  Mixed in with my hunting was an escape.  From myself, from my failed marriage and my stunted career and my sour anticipation of all the hopeless tomorrows to come.

Okay, dove hunting, pure and simple.  There always had been a productive roost in the line of Osage orange at the back side of the farm.  And I doubted the bank would be checking on its hardscrabble acquisition on a Saturday night.  I could park the car behind the barn, camp beside it and be in the hedgerow at dawn.

I bent the car onto the gravel road and the dog, alerted by the crunching sound, bounded around, trying to see everything at once.  “Relax, dummy,” I said.  “We’re not even close.”  I saw the spire of Mt. Oread Church, dipped into the Bee Branch hollow, then came up the steep hill to the church.

It was deserted and needed paint.  The old maples in the front were drought-sad and scarred by lightning and life.  The churchyard was browned by dry weather.  The older headstones in the cemetery behind canted a few degrees off plumb and there were few new stones.  My folks were buried out there, side by side.  I’d not visited the graves since

the last funeral–had paid a fee for lifetime care, whatever that meant.

The farmhouse was just down the road a quarter mile.  It needed paint, too, and the bank hadn’t bothered to mow the lawn so it was unkempt, smaller than I remembered, just another sagging farmhouse, shrine to withered dreams.

I jounced over the rutted driveway behind the house and opened the gate to the barnlot.  No pigs, no horse, nor cows, just quiet, save for a cardinal whickering in the yellowed, gnarled cherry tree by the garden.

The Brittany bounded around the farmlot fences, watering everything from both sides. He ran with such happy abandon.  No worries, save that he might not get to go.

I set up the backpack tent in the shade of a mammoth white oak on the hogback leading out to the big pasture.  The sun was low and still hot, but there was a steady breeze on the ridge top.  I fixed a sandwich and had a beer.  The dog flopped down, mouth wide with a heat grin.  I got out the water jug and poured him a bowl and he lapped sloppily at it.

We walked on out the ridge, toward the line of Osage orange, and I began to see occasional doves flying arrow like into the dense trees.  They still were using the old hedge for a roost.  I felt a glimmer of anticipation for the morning, something I hadn’t felt for a long time.  I didn’t really dread the tomorrows–just accepted them with resignation. There–over by the curious hummock that the locals said was an Indian mound.  That’s where I killed my first bird.  Hunting with my father.  He was enthusiastic, but not a very good shot.  We had fun, though.  He was a simple man with, as far as I could tell, no real worries.

I watched the doves flickering to roost, squatting on the ridge.  The dog came over and leaned against me and looked comically at me upside down with his expressive brown eyes.  Poor simple mutt!  No idea of his own brief existence, no premonition nor fear of his dying.  My eyes turned moist and I hugged him close, saddened by my superior and unwanted knowledge.

It was nearing sunset when I decided to hike to the church.  Though I didn’t profess to be religious, it seemed at least discourteous to be so close to my parents’ gravesite without visiting.  I shut the dog in the car and he set up a piteous howl at being left.  “Shut your stupid mouth!” I growled without heat.  He’d quiet down when I was out of sight.

I peered in the window at the side of the house, below my former bedroom.  It had been a parlor, with a piano that no one knew how to play.  It was kept shut to “keep it nice” as my mother always said.  I never could see the value in “keeping things nice,” including my life.  I felt distinctly secondhand.

A gathering of migrating nighthawks wheeled and darted above me.  I kicked at a pebble, kept it going for about twenty yards, then lost it in the dusty weeds at the roadside.  There were no cars, not even the distant sound of one.

The old home valley was as dead as the churchyard ahead, and my life behind…or maybe ahead.  I wanted to shake the persistent emptiness but didn’t know how.

The air was perfectly still and smelled of dust.  Grasshoppers sawed tedious tunes and bees pillaged the sagging flowers.  I walked slowly so as not to raise a sweat, my boots scuffing dust and crunching gravel.  This was where I learned to ride a bulky and rusty bicycle, falling off, skinning my knees and hands, getting up again cussing and crying.  When a car came by, I’d pretend to be examining something on the bicycle.  When it had gone, I’d mount up once more, wobble a few feet and crash into the rocky ditch.

“Oh, dear!” my mother exclaimed when I came into the house, bloody, dirty and tear-streaked.  But I could ride that damn bicycle.  My father merely smiled a bit.  Later he’d and put his arm around me and punched me lightly on the shoulder.  It hurt like hell because I had a deep bruise there, but I didn’t even wince.

The concrete foundation of the church was cracked and badly patched.  The road back to the cemetery needed gravel.  I walked behind the church, enjoying the quiet, but feeling more alone than I usually wanted.  My wife and I split up a year before largely because I spent more time with myself than I did with her.  By choice.  She was right.  I wouldn’t live with me either.

The headstones were in the last row of the cemetery.  Maybe they could cram another rank of graves between my mother’s and father’s and the boundary fence, but they’d have to be planting midgets.  Three strands of barbed wire separated the eternal sleepers from a herd of feeder calves, now dark lumps in the near-night.  I wondered what cows thought about in the spooky dark countryside every night.  Probably not a damn thing, not even the elementary scenarios that flickered through my dog’s head.  I stood there empty of feeling.  Memories of my parents were in my mind, not in a couple of fancy rocks.  But at least I’d paid my respects and observed convention.

A full, golden moon came up over the horizon, painting the cemetery with a pale light and I felt strange and feverish as if I were coming down with a sudden infection.  The moon was hazy and indistinct, though the night was clear.

When I came around the corner of the church, I gawked foolishly, for the yard was filled with trucks and cars, and the church was blazing with light.  There was a piano inside playing an old tune, “Shine on Harvest Moon.”  People, indistinct in the night, were lounging on the steps and around the cars and I saw others passing across the windows inside, carrying dishes.  I smelled pipe tobacco and saw a cigarette glow.  A match flared and I caught a glimpse of a pair of bib overalls, a seamed face.

“Hello, there!” someone said.  “Glad to have you with us!”

“What’s going on?” I asked.  “I didn’t realize anyone was here.  I was back in the cemetery.”

“Pie supper,” the voice said.  “Better stop in a while and maybe you’ll get lucky and buy some pretty lady’s pie.”

“Oh, I’d better be getting along…” I said.

“Ah, come on,” he said.  “Lots of nice people and lots of good pies.  Lots of pretty girls, too.”

What the hell, I thought.  A few minutes here or a lonely time back at the tent with only my sour memories and a warm dog for company.

The church was hot and bright.  The old farm ladies, raised on a strong starch and fat diet, sweated and fanned with the paper fans furnished by funeral homes.  I smelled baked goods, ranked on a table with just numbers to identify them.  The idea was to bid on a delectable pastry, hoping that a good- looking girl went along with it.

Generally the girls let their steadies know the number so there was little uncertainty about what girl went with what pie.  But get a little competition going between a couple of young bucks and the pie price might skyrocket and there also might be a spirited fistfight later in the parking lot.

Then I saw the girl.  I can’t tell you if she was more beautiful than any other girl there, but when I saw her I was bewildered, for it was as if I knew her, yet I was sure I’d never seen her before.  She seemed illumined, as if painted by a Renaissance master.  As I looked at her–stared at her–she glanced my way and our eyes locked.  She smiled and there was something at the same time sad and joyful in it.  I gaped foolishly.

Someone jostled me and I begged pardon.  When I looked up, I didn’t see her.  I searched the church basement frantically.  Then a low, rich voice just behind me said, “Hello.”

I spun around and saw her.  I took a deep breath.  “You must think I’m a real jerk for staring at you,” I said.  “But I couldn’t help it.”

“That’s all right,” she said.  “I understand.”

“I…well, I’ve never reacted to anyone that way before,” I said.  She smiled again.  I introduced myself, but before she could give me her name, someone called for quiet and the pie auction began.  “Wait!” I cried desperately as she began to leave to join the other girls.  “I want to bid on your pie.”

She smiled again.  “I can’t tell you the number,” she said.  “That wouldn’t be fair.  But why don’t you watch me?”

“I wouldn’t do anything else,” I said fervently.

Hers was the fourth pie offered.  She looked at me and again that intense spark jumped between us.  I had enough money for my trip, probably more than any of the local boyos, and I was willing to write checks, sell the car, give away my dog–anything to share her pie and her time.

“Who’ll bid five bucks for this coconut delight!” cried the auctioneer.  I raised my hand, but he’d already seen a bid from the other side of the basement.  “And who’ll raise it.  I’m bid five, got five and who’ll bid seven, wanna hear seven…”

I raised my hand.  “I got seven an’ who’ll bid eight, I want eight, who’ll bid eight…”  Once again someone across the room bid and when I looked, I met the hot glare of a young local.  He glowered at me and clenched his fists.

I upped the bid again and we fought it out with our billfolds–infinitely preferable to duking it in the parking lot, especially since I had more money than fighting ability.

I outlasted him.  Probably a record price for a pie at Mt. Oread.  I paid and picked up my pie and the lovely girl.  The young fellow was there, with a dark face and shadowed eyes.  “Don’t ever look back,” he snarled at me.  “I’ll be there.”

Then he was gone, almost as if he never had been.  The girl and I went out of the church basement, up the stairs cupped by countless feet and into the humid, cool night.

We sat under one of the battered maples in the dark.  “I hope there’s no chiggers,” I said, as nervous as a kid on his first date.  She was ethereal in the golden moonlight.

“I don’t mind,” she said, her voice low and soft.  “I’m glad you bought my pie.”

“Well, I’d better confess,” I said.  “I didn’t want the pie, I wanted to be with you.  Not that it’s not a good pie, you understand…” I prattled hastily.

She laughed.  “Who was the guy bidding against me?” I asked.  “Your boyfriend.”

“You know him,” she said.

“I never saw him before,” I protested.

“He’s all your yesterdays,” she said and put her hand on mine.  What a curious thing to say.  “But if you don’t look back, you’ll never see him again.”

She leaned close and I smelled her cut-clover scent.  Her hand was as soft as the tap of a kitten’s paw.  I touched her cheek and she pressed against my hand.  She leaned against me and I smoothed her hair back.  Her breath hinted of summer morning.

I kissed her gently then and felt a great and yielding peace, a swirling quiet like the brief sparks from a fire that heats the eyelids and unknots the soul.  I cherished her soft lips and the clean and complex scent of her.

We slowly drew apart and were silent.  “Who are you?” I whispered in awe. She leaned forward and touched my face with her gentle hand.   She was an inch from me.  “I can be all your tomorrows,” she said.  “It’s up to you.”  Everything darkened–the church, the moon–as if I were fainting, but I am sure I never lost consciousness.  I think I cried out.   I came to my senses and was sitting under the maple and there was no one at the church.  No pie supper, no trucks and cars.  No people, no girl of my tomorrows.  Just me and the golden harvest moon now high in the sky.  Cicadas and crickets rasped and the air was heavy with summer scent.  It was the same scent that had overwhelmed me, the smell of days without care or fear.

I walked back to the farmhouse struggling to understand what had happened.  I still am.  The dog snuggled close to me in the night.  Heat lightning flickered to the west.  Tomorrow we’d hike out to the end of the old home place and watch a promising sun come up.  I’d think of the might-have-beens and the yet-to-be’s.

But without regrets or fears.  Maybe that’s what happened.  The dog whimpered and kicked in his sleep and I smiled in the dark tent and rested a hand on his soft head.

And fell asleep.




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  • Blog
  • October 3rd, 2013


By Joel M. Vance

I vowed to myself not to write about the government shutdown because it just rouses me to helpless fury, upsets my stomach, and gives rise to unhealthy hopes that Congress, individually and collectively will develop shingles, acne, hemorrhoids, anal boils and any other really painful affliction.

Not all of them, just the so-called Tea Party types who crouch out there on the far right like dyspeptic apes, flinging shit at the country.  But it has gotten personal.  Our son J.B. is in college on the V.A. bill, his schooling largely paid for because of his Naval service.  Except now, because of the T.P. (read “toilet paper” for Tea Party—it’s more fitting) shutdown, his money stops at the end of October and so does his schooling.  He’ll have plenty of company—the V.A. says it will not have enough money to pay veteran’s disability claims or pensions.  That’s another 3.6 million citizens who have given to the country and hoped to have something given back.  Add in women, infants and children, getting aid for a healthy diet for pregnant women and new mothers.  They also lose their aid—some nine million of them.

J.B. joins 800,000 federal workers who have been laid off and may never be repaid any lost wages (it depends on Congress which is what got them where they are in the first place), an economy threatening another free fall from the ripple effect of the Tea Bagger’s screw job, closed national parks (including the World War Two Memorial, which we donated to and which aged veterans now cannot visit) and on and on.  Two million government workers may get (they hope) delayed paychecks.

The far right claims to be the champion of small business and resents any of what they consider government interference with those small businesses like taxes and regulations.  Yet their shutdown has stopped loan guarantees for small businesses under the Small Business Administration.  Disaster relief probably will continue, but I doubt anyone is hoping for a hurricane to see government aid in operation.

Head Start for a million low income families through 1,600 programs?  Going, going gone—but what the hell, those folks don’t vote anyway.  And if any of those who-cares children have cancer, don’t bother taking them to the National Institutes of Health.  They’ll be turned away for lack of money to care for them.  Of course the Affordable Care Act is designed to help such families but the Baggers are determined to defund that and ultimately kill it.   Remember?

Obama, of course, is blamed for the shutdown because, the Baggers whine, “He won’t negotiate.”  What’s to negotiate?  Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, despite the right wing’s efforts to cripple it.  It has been upheld both by Congress and the Supreme Court and attempts to defund it are simply unconscionable.  It is the law, imperfect but what law isn’t.  You don’t kill a law because you don’t like it; you fix it.  It offers health care to millions of Americans who didn’t have it and couldn’t afford it.  This is something that a good Christian should support (“Love thy neighbor,” “My brother’s keeper,” etc.).  But the right wing, with its usual selfish, mean-spirited and greedy attitude, essentially is saying screw the rest of ‘em if they ain’t us!

No one unhindered by prejudice or ignorance should lay blame anywhere but on the pigheads on the extreme right who are hunkered down in their grungy philosophical cesspool, willing to let the country come apart while they stick up for “principle.”  The classic definition of politics is “the art of compromise,” but there is no compromise in these intransigent ideologues.  They are human staph infections on the body politic.

That any of them should at the same time they are parading their bigotry likewise trumpet their Christianity is simply sinful.  I don’t pretend to be a good Christian type, but I do believe in the teachings of Jesus and especially in the Golden Rule.  By their actions, the Baggers defy every precept of Jesus’s philosophy.  They hide their essential racial bias under the guise of righteous indignation over Obama’s actions—but don’t be fooled; they are racists to the core and if it were 50 years ago they’d be sluicing black people with fire hoses and spending their nights wearing bed sheets instead of peacefully sleeping between them.

The comments by some Facebook posters about the President are sickening.  They represent the pustulent population that elected Cruz and his fellow Baggers and the rest of us have to suffer from their roughshod ways.  A few nights ago I watched again Gary Cooper in “High Noon” where he tried to get townspeople to help him against a quartet of outlaws bent on killing him.  One by one the craven town folk chickened out, leaving him to fight it out alone.  Of course he won, because that’s the way of the Western.  But that also is a movie.  We have our own real High Noon and instead of Frank Miller and his trio of bad guys we have Ted Cruz and his Congressional henchmen like the smarmy John Boehner and the Chinless Wonder, Mitch McConnell.

Congress, of course, is paid for by insurance companies and other special interests who feel threatened by any government program that might cut into their bottom line.  The hard liners would if they could do away with Medicare and Social Security except for the fear that it would motivate enough seniors and sick people to vote the bastards out of office.  And that is a horrible thought because the name of the political game is to spend your way into office and stay there by raising every form of shady money possible.  As hapless as the extremists are, if they lost an election they might have to turn to something honest for a change.  Most are marginally qualified to fill orders at the local fast food restaurant for coolie pay (after they do as they’ve vowed to do, eliminate minimum wage).

It would be laughable if it weren’t so heartbreaking, to see a complete fool like Ted Cruz, the dim bulb presidential wannabe from Texas mounting a 22 hour filibuster during which he entertained his fellow mentally-challenged peers with a reading of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.”  Talk about certifiably nuts!  He is the poster child for the Tea Party where the intellectual age of the members is pre-school.  Give them some Crayolas and let them color pretty pictures.  Don’t forget nap time….wait, they spend most of their time anyway in a semi-comatose state.

Once we were a proud nation, top of the heap, envied by every other nation for our lifestyle, our system of government and our ability to survive any crisis and emerge stronger and more vibrant.  We weathered a wrenching Civil War and a terrible Depression.  We triumphed in a World War and even a dubious Korean War but since then we’ve been careening from one stupid killing field to another.

Today’s local rag, a conservative mouthpiece which seems to feel that Cal Thomas is an oracle, contained a letter to the editor seriously suggesting the country needs a takeover by a military junta to get back on the right track.  He and Cruz are bloody brothers if ever there were any.   Cruz said that those who fail to oppose the Health Care Act are equivalent to those who didn’t oppose Hitler before World War Two.   What I’m seeing here are dangerous people who no more represent what this country is supposed to be than did Hitler represent the average German.

The sad fact is that it is a year until the next election when, if voters emerge from their stupor and collective apathy, they will send the Tea Baggers back under their rocks.  It was a combination of that apathy among many voters combined with anger at the slumping economy that got the ultra-conservatives elected and now we have to live with that mistake.

Meanwhile our kid will be looking for a job to support himself until the government revives and his V.A. benefits are restored.  Ted Cruz continues to get his paycheck, along with his fellow Baggers (and yes, I know what that term means and I think it suggests the type of recreational activity their intelligence level would embrace).

Maybe the Baggers will undergo a revelation and reform.  And maybe pigs will take up aerobatics.


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