Saturday, February 23, 2008

Adios snow, hola Mexico

Camp Connell, Ca.-- I know that some of my friends and family will be suspicious that we are leaving for the warm beaches in Mexico because still another massive storm packing three feet of new snow (on top of the five still on the roof) and winds expected to top 60 mph on the mountain ridges is due to hit tonight and tomorrow.

Au contraire, my friends. We simply committed to visit our friends Michael and Sylvia (aka the Captain and the the Admiral) at their new home on Tenacatita Bay months ago. It's all in the name of friendship. Cold beer, warm sandy beaches and casual clothing requirements have nothing to do with it. It's a matter of cementing long-standing friendships.

It has nothing to do with the fact a lean and hungry-looking coyote wandered through our yard, cutting across the horseshoe pit, looking for a rabbit snack yesterday.

It also has nothing to do with the fact that when I went skiing Thursday the wind and snow basically blew me off the mountain. I had decided to call it a day early after hanging an edge and tumbling dramatically down the slope on the backside of Mount Reba ("Are you okay mister?" asked the smart-ass kid on the snowboard). My ankle, wrist and knee (all broken or torn in earlier decades) were slightly tweaked. After I spit the snow out of my mouth I decided to head home a bit early. All my basic parts seem intact. But I need some beach time.

My ski timing was almost good. The resort shut down the ski lift I was waiting for -- get back on the horse for one last run -- because the wind was too high to operate safely.

Pride intact, I headed down the hill to hearth and home. Hot tea with a tad of bourbon, and Girl Scout cookies (Shortbreads), make a perfect apre' ski treat.

So, for the next few weeks there will be no more shoveling snow off the roof. If it collapses, so be it, I won't be here to witness the event.

I fully expect Spring to be in full blast when I get back. Well, at least I am hopeful some snow will be melting and running into the seasonal creek instead of into my basement.

Then maybe we can get back to work on the garage we thought we would have built before the snow came.
I've already planted seeds for Sequouia trees that should live several centuries longer than me. And my daughter and family are currently staking out their garden plots at a lower elevation, where they promise we can grow a tomato or two.

But first, a Cuba Libre at Palapa Joe's in La Manzanilla with my buddy Michael, and perhaps a little sailing on the Bay.

See ya.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Election 2008 - Revolution or Revolting?

Camp Connell, Ca.-- Thomas Paine recommended a revolution every generation or so, and Thomas Jefferson thought that was an idea with merit.
Maybe 2008 is the year in which their dreams will be realized.
The presidential election of 2008 is already one of the most fascinating in the past 50 years, and it isn’t even decided (at the point I am writing this) who the candidates will be.
But we’re pretty sure it will not be Ron Paul, whoever he is, and he will not be able to pull a Ralph Nader and influence the final outcome. That’s encouraging.

Parties losing clout

And the political parties today seem to be less significant than in any election in recent memory. The party faithful are a shrinking minority in America, as more and more people declare their independence from partisan politics and look to candidates for answers to the questions we have not faced: war, health care, the influence of the rich, and foreign policy that breeds enemies among our friends and terrorists among our enemies.
No matter who the political parties select at their nominating conventions this year, three of the top four candidates today are serious people whom America has never given serious consideration to before:
-- Mitt Romney, the current favorite of the GOP right wing, is a Mormon. While America has always pretended religion doesn’t matter in politics, it always has mattered in the past. If he should revive his campaign and manage to survive the selection process, he will present a real test of American’s tolerance of religious freedom. No one talks about it publicly, but a some voters worry that the beliefs of the Church of Latter Day Saints is a little too weird for them. The anti-Catholic sentiments did not defeat John F. Kennedy, but it cost him votes. Ultimately, it is not Romney's religion that seems to turn people away, but his conservative positions that are not in synch with most middle-of-the-road voters.
-- Hillary Clinton, if you haven’t noticed, is a woman. She is taken seriously by almost everyone involved: Democrats because some see her as the best hope for victory and Republicans because they see her as the easiest to run against. The anti-Clinton and antifeminist sentiments will certainly cost her votes, but she has shown political savvy that could carry the day. Never underestimate Ms. Clinton, nor the right wing’s hatred of her.
-- Barack Obama, most Americans concede, is an African-American. He is taken seriously by supporters and opponents, though critics will nit-pick the details of his background and a few remaining racial troglodytes will never vote for any person of color. Most of us don’t care what he looks like, so long as he is a decent and intelligent person.
The fourth serious candidate at this writing is John McCain, a bona fide war hero and the likeliest GOP nominee after a near miraculous revival, who supports an extremely unpopular and expensive war. McCain seems to survive because voters believe he is sincere even when they disagree with many of his positions on issues. He doesn't represent change, but he could turn out to be the stealth candidate just because he seems likable. Remember, we liked Ike a few generations ago even when he promised not to do much.

Times, they are changing...

No matter who eventually wins the nominations and this election, America is headed for significant change at the top. None of the top candidates seem to admire George W. Bush's style or friends, and most are running as the anti-Bush.

Anything can happen in a presidential campaign, but the odds are that a Democrat will be the next president simply based on the “anybody-but-Bush-and-Republicans” voters, who seem to grow in numbers daily as jobs disappear, the stock market stays in the tank, and the body bags keep coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
With record deficits, long-term denial of global warming dangers, and padding the pockets of the mega-rich oil barons and others, the GOP has an uphill battle not unlike that of the Herbert Hoover supporters who tried to assure our parents the great Depression wasn’t really so bad, and if we’d just give the industrialists more leeway everything would trickle down to our benefit. Yeah, right.

But even entrenched GOP party folk recognize the country is ready for change, and they are eager to look like the instruments of that change.

The great thing about this Democracy is that no one knows what will happen, except that the majority will rule. Probably.

Then there is always the possibility of a modern American revolution.

(Sanders LaMont is a retired journalist, former editor of three daily newspapers, and persistent voter in all elections, except primaries. He has been registered as an independent for 30 years, and regards most politicians and their parties with distrust. It’s the American way.)