Not Long Tales … October 29th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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12.

Cam-Pain

The season had arrived for the thirty-first official mayoral race in the little village of Garrettsburg, Oregon, population 4,322 individualists.

Three candidates stepped forward to offer themselves for consideration. As was the custom in the community, these contestants were not identified as Republican or Democrat. They were perused for their ideas, their popularity and whether they maintained a personable profile in all their dealings.

The first was the present mayor, Derrick Collins. He was one of those gentlemen caught somewhere between the barnyard and rock and roll. His favorite wheels—a motorcycle. His favorite beverage was a beer. Home-brewed if possible.

One of the challengers was Maxwell Jones, a slender man who taught history and civics at the high school. He favored classical music, though if you pressed him, would admit some fondness for the Moody Blues. He wore wingtips, polyester pants which desperately tried to reach to his shoe tops, and oversized sweater vests in an attempt to appear hunkier.

The third comer in the race was barely worth mentioning, since she was a woman and there had never been a female mayor in Garrettsburg history. It wasn’t that the community was gender-biased—just that so far, no woman had fancied the position. Her name was Rachel Luxor, and she was of some foreign extraction—and even by Oregonian standards, a bit frumpy.

Each one of these race runners had a different approach.

Maxwell immediately went after the issues. There were four he had in mind: expanding the park, sanitation pickup twice a week, cleaner water and better fireworks on July 4th. At the last minute, he added another one to his list of four, which unfortunately for his symmetrical mind, made it five. But it was important: filling in the potholes.

His strategy was to stay on point with these points to make his point. Matter of fact, that became his slogan: “Maxwell Jones will stay on point with these points to make his point.”

On the other hand, Derrick Collins was not quite so energetic. Already occupying the job, knowing the job and the city having printed business cards with his name on them, he felt very secure in his domain. What Derrick decided to do was, anything that Maxwell brought up to achieve—well, Derrick just took it to the next City Council meeting and proposed it himself. He figured it was perfect. If the proposal passed, it would then be to his credit, and if the Council thumbed their noses at the idea, then it really wasn’t his fault. So no matter how much Maxwell railed on an issue, Derrick just took the issue, put it to a Council vote and removed any potential for Maxwell following through on a campaign promise. So it seemed that Derrick Collins would once again be voted into the Mayor Chair.

Now, the two men and one woman had made a pledge to one another. A vigorous campaign would be waged, but there would be no dirty tricks. No insults. No personal attacks. And no punches below the beltline.

Well, since Derrick cheated—at least that’s the way Maxwell saw it—the promise was negated. A poster was printed with a picture of Derrick Collins drinking a beer at the monster truck extravaganza the previous fall. Underneath it was printed, boldly, “Here’s your man—if you want a redneck.”

The folks of Garrettsburg were not what you would call sophisticated, but they certainly did not want to be considered rednecks. Once this circular circulated through the community, Derrick decided the gloves had come off. He printed his own poster, showing Maxwell reading a book. Beneath the picture was the caption, “Your socialist at work.”

Once again, none of the citizenry were raging political animals, but they were pretty sure they did not want to be socialists.

The buckets were gathered, the lines were drawn, and the mudslinging began.

Maxwell said that Derrick once called an African American a Negro.

Derrick found a book report written by Maxwell back in high school, where he referred to Darwin’s volume, The Origin of the Species, as an “evolving read.”

According to Maxwell, Derrick was sympathetic to terrorists.

According to Derrick, Maxwell just might be one.

They scoured for dirt—back and forth. At first the community watched, pretending to be horrified, while lapping up every word.

On and on it went. It got nasty.

The two men refused to be in the same room with each other, which made things difficult since they ate lunch every day at the only diner in town. Therefore, it was agreed that Derrick Collins would arrive at 11:30 and eat until 12:15, when Maxwell would come from the school and eat from 12:16 to 1:00 P.M. Of course, that one minute in between did create some problems as the two jousters occasionally bumped into each other, like two bulldogs, growling and snorting.

Yet what was particularly aggravating for both camps was the fact that polling was not determining if the attack ads were successful—mainly because the populace was holding out its opinion, wondering what the next accusation might reveal.

There was no longer any discussion about filling potholes, and the quest for cleaner water dribbled away. It was a war of words and the two men were trying to put poison into each syllable.

Election Day rolled around. A gray cloud hung over the town—and not just emotionally. Since it was Oregon, and there were often gray clouds, the rain came pouring into the village like the wrath of heaven. It curtailed voter turnout.

Matter of fact, by midday, so few people had voted that the candidates decided to drive around town banging on doors, begging people to wade to the polls and cast their choice.

The weather also interfered with the counting of the ballots, so it was the next day, around one o’clock, before the tally was totaled. It was then posted on the window of the Garrettsburg newspaper, for all to read:

Derrick Collins got 32% of the vote.

Maxwell Jones also got 32% of the vote.

A tie.

But Rachel Luxor, from her backseat position, ended up winning with 34% of the vote (two percent of the electorate voted for a combination of Beyoncé, Tom Hanks, the Rock, Kim Kardashian and Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback.)

There was a collective gasp that went through the community—well, maybe not the whole community, but certainly City Hall and the high school, where Derrick and Maxwell joined in a mutual head scratching, trying to figure out the source of their defeat.

It was perplexing.

After all, Rachel Luxor—now, Mayor Rachel—had campaigned on only one issue, with one slogan.

The issue was better school lunches. And the slogan?

“Carrots for Garretts(burg).”

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … September 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: Where have you been? I’ve been trying to get hold of you all morning.

 

Dear Woman: I can see that. Six missed calls. What can I do for you?

 

Dear Man: Listen, I didn’t believe it, but I heard through the grapevine that you went to a Donald Trump rally.

 

Dear Woman: You heard correctly.

 

Dear Man: Why would you do that?

 

Dear Woman: I was curious. I wanted to hear for myself what all the fuss was about.

 

Dear Man: Curious? How can you escape the fuss? It’s on the television twenty-four hours a day.

 

Dear Woman: But that’s their opinions. I wanted to draw my own conclusion.

 

Dear Man: Okay, I guess. Did you learn anything?

 

Dear Woman: I did. What I learned is that Mr. Trump answers a need.

 

Dear Man: A need?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. There are times when things are moving so fast that I just need everything to slow down a bit so my head can catch up. Gay rights, gay marriage, transgender, immigration, Black Lives Matter… It just crowds my brain. It’s not that I want to prevent these people from having a voice. I could just use some time to get accustomed to it.

 

Dear Man: Well, you need to realize, all these people have been waiting decades–sometimes centuries–for the basic rights that you take for granted.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t need your sermon. I get that. But it doesn’t change how I feel. The world seems dangerous, and when you see something dangerous, you want a weapon. You want to protect yourself. I’m sorry. Hillary Clinton just doesn’t seem like a weapon to me.

 

Dear Man: She’s got so much experience! Why can’t you see that? Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about the world.

 

Dear Woman: I agree. But it’s not a geography test. It’s not a civics exam. It’s about leadership. And I just don’t know if Hillary has it.

 

Dear Man: Why do you say that?

 

Dear Woman: Well, first, she can’t even manage her own email.

 

Dear Man: Not that old story! She’s answered that a thousand times.

 

Dear Woman: Yes, but it’s the same answer. “I made a mistake but I didn’t know it was a mistake.” Is that what she’ll do as President? Constantly making mistakes but apologizing to us for fouling up? And speaking of that, the main thing that bothers me is having Bill Clinton in the White House again.

 

Dear Man: He won’t be President.

 

Dear Woman: I got that. But he’ll be back. And the things he did the last time he was there to defile the Oval Office with his immorality were nasty. And the fact that Hillary stuck with him makes me believe she’s kind of … girly.

 

Dear Man: You mean you’re mad at her because she forgave her husband?

 

Dear Woman: I guess so. I would just find it easier to vote for Hillary Rodham than Hillary Clinton.

 

Dear Man: I get it. It’s because she’s a women Answer me three questions, without thinking too much. Number 1, do you think women are weak? Number 2, do you think women are more emotional? Number 3, are men smarter?

 

Dear Woman: Wow. I don’t want to do this.

 

Dear Man: Come on. Be honest.

 

Dear Woman: Okay. Are women weak? They don’t have the same muscle mass as men. Concerning the second question, I was always told women are more emotional, even by women. And concerning men being smarter, well..they do win more often on Jeopardy!

 

Dear Man: What?

 

Dear Woman: I was just kidding about the Jeopardy! thing. I suppose you’re going to say my answers prove I’m a male chauvinist.

 

Dear Man: No, they just prove that you would vote against Hillary because she’s a woman instead of based on her qualifications.

 

Dear Woman: I just don’t want any more Orlandos or San Bernardino terrorist attacks. I would like to scare the shit out of them–the terrorists, I mean. Hillary is more like a queen. She’s stately, polite, on-point, courteous. But here’s the problem–the world is filled with pirates. Pirates take down queens.

 

Dear Man: So what is Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: He’s a pirate. So it’s a pirate fighting pirates. See what I mean?

 

Dear Man: No, I don’t. Because with a pirate you get thievery, treachery and the danger that he’s going to make everybody walk the plank.

 

Dear Woman: Well, anyway. Do you remember that story of the man who came across two doors, and behind one was a lady and behind the other was a tiger?

 

Dear Man: I think so.

 

Dear Woman: You see, that’s our choice this time. A lady or a tiger. I just don’t know if the lady can get it done.

 

Dear Man: You know that’s very prejudiced.

 

Dear Woman: Yes. But I don’t think I’ll be the only one thinking about that when I walk into the voting booth.

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The Muddle Class… May 19, 2012

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I do believe I was in the ninth grade–a freshman. At our school the class was called Civics. It was a required course taught to instill  an understanding of how the American form of government functions and also to do a little bit of flag–waving to convince us, as future tax-payers, how fabulous the setup truly is.

It’s called checks and balances. You know it well: the executive branch, headed by the President; the legislative, by Congress, and the judicial, mainly referring to the Supreme Court. I suppose I could talk about our history and say that this particular organization seems to function–but the lethargy, competition and frustration that is produced through the process holds back progress to such an extent that it is often nearly lethal to human causes.

It’s because we believe strongly in this country that we need a middle. We want a middle class, we extol the value of middle-of-the-road music, we love the happy medium (just another name for the compromised middle), and we’ve even established a world called “middle management,” where people who have not yet excelled to executive level can still feel a boost of confidence that they are no longer working on the floor with the serfs.

The problem with the middle is that it creates a jealousy for the top, and too often, a disrespect for what lies beneath. The checks and balances envisioned by our forefathers was constructed in a time when individual thinking was supreme, and being linked to a party or clump of beliefs was secondary. In other words, as long as every person actually thinks for himself and is not responding to the demands of an organization, then debate, challenge and conversation can occur on issues, resulting in some sort of agreement. But if your allegiance is primarily to your cause instead of reasonability, then your particular “flavor of the month” can dig in its heels and halt progress.

I will tell you what the problem is with the legislative branch of our government–you have nearly 535 or so men and women in one building, wishing they could be President–wanting to do the bidding of the President, or deciding to do everything they can to discredit that President. They are jealous of the executive branch and therefore can use their vote to pout.

Let’s move on to the judicial arm of the government. When I was a young man, the politics of a judge appointed to the Supreme Court was quite private, and whether the individual was conservative or liberal was a better-kept secret, with each person who received the honor promising to judge cases on merit instead of political swing. That is gone. The Supreme Court has lost its meaning because it’s just as political as Congress.

So as both political parties try to extol the beauty of honoring and respecting the middle class as the true by-product of America’s governing style, the middle class instead becomes the muddle class–lacking the integrity of being satisfied, but also lacking mercy towards those who have not yet achieved solvency. This is why middle management, in a company, is filled with some of the most nasty, cantankerous pencil=pushers you will ever find. They are discontented that they are not upper management, and also disgusted with those who work beneath them because they once held those jobs and feel that they are menial and meaningless.

If you will allow me to advance a theory, here’s the problem. Right now, in this country, we are trying to develop a philosophy based on the facts provided. Therefore, we are always changing our philosophy just due to circumstances, which can frankly often be temporary. America has developed a “moveable philosophy,” and because of that, all we have to do to become befuddled, frustrated, angry and unwilling to cooperate is to be confronted with a new set of hassles that contradict and challenge our previous conclusions.

Consider this: we just finish with the issue of civil rights for our black citizens, battling, arguing and even shedding blood over the issue, and then, before we can even take a deep breath, here comes the issue of gay rights. Rather than taking what we learned through the civil rights movement during the 1960’s, we act like we’re reinventing the wheel when it comes to civil liberties. We fail to honor a basic philosophy. Bluntly, we do NOT hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equal, as Jefferson insisted. We are continually looking at similar issues and acting like they’re brand new problems.

Let’s bring it into the normal household. If my oldest son has a curfew of eleven o’clock and I discover, that eleven o’clock is too late for him to be out because of the temptations available and I decide to change his curfew to ten-fifteen, it is ridiculous for me to start all over again with an eleven o’clock curfew with my next son. Have I learned anything through the experience with my first-born? Have I developed any concepts, attitudes and notions that are transferable to the next situation?

Therefore it is not an issue of checks and balances nor whether we have a middle class. The problem with our vision is that whenever anything new comes up, we never consider our history while honoring our philosophy, and applying both yardsticks to measure out wisdom to our new situation. So there you have it. History, our philosophy, action–the correct order and it is the way to get things done using the gravitas of our journey.  Instead, we try to develop a new philosophy for everything based upon the facts provided rather than adjusting the facts provided to our well-established, trusted and tested philosophy.

I have very little conflict in my life. It is not because conflict is not available. I deal with hundreds and hundreds of people every week–a built-in formula for stress (or even a coronary). But I don’t look at every person I meet as a new problem or even a new situation. I take these people into my life based upon an established philosophy and allow them to fit into that existing Magna Carta of tried-and-tested behavior. I took a combination of Thomas Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” and the suggestion of Jesus–“do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and I came up with MY core of conduct: “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

So if I were in Washington, D.C., the checks and balances would work for me. I would not feel I was better than the people who elected me, and I wouldn’t be jealous of someone who had achieved a higher office. In my soul, I have accepted the fact that no one is better than anyone else. But absent that fireball of intense understanding inside my soul, I begin to try to adjust everything I do to the information that is right in front of me. In that case, I not only become confused over the statistics and data, but bewildered and angry that nothing seems to be working.

I don’t care if you’re a Republican and I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. But I will tell you this–if the soul of your philosophy is not the precious idealism of “NoOne is better than anyone else,” you will eventually clump and muddle things up by protecting your cause instead of creating a cause to protect those in need. I do not extol any system unless it honors a central truth and holds that truth to be not only self-evident, but well-practiced.

So you can debate about Mitt Romney or Barack Obama all you want to. Our government will be at a stand-still as long as we are trying to find a middle ground that just becomes a muddled mess of confused, conflicting opinions. Sooner or later, both parties–all Americans–and everyone who lives within our borders need to agree on the lessons of our history and hold dear a common philosophy about how to move forward. We can debate how “NoOne is better than anyone else.” We can argue about the best method to treasure that particular gold nugget. But to proceed forward with half of our country believing one thing about humanity and the other half of our country believing another thing about humanity is to produce a muddle class that has no idea which direction to go. Going up seems impossible; going down sounds like hell.

Here is my suggestion–tell me your core philosophy and I can tell you if we’re going to be able to work shoulder-to-shoulder towards the common good. For me, if someone contends that “some people are just better than other people,” I can love that person but I cannot work with him. Because for every reason you can come up with that some individuals are better than others, I can tell you that holding that position is always the first fruits of bigotry.

So how do we get OUT of the muddle class? Somewhere along the line, as Uncle Tom Jefferson told us, we must hold some truths to be self-evident. Otherwise we debate the statistics and twist them in our own direction, instead of using our philosophy to determine how we will address the present possibility. 

   

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