I enjoyed smoothing out 10 truckloads of fresh white sand on the beach at our house, but today when I saw that a family of Black-Bellied Tree Ducks had taken to the pristine white shoreline it surprised me. What passion I felt at seeing the ducks on the hills of white. Maybe 10 in all, some standing on one leg behind a furled wing, they made a perfect silhouette against white sand and a new sun peaking over the trees. These splendid, endangered, “Do not shoot” waterfowl whistled sweet songs to each other. The feeling lifts you and takes you back. Like when I was a boy of 11 in the endless Corrigan Woods of East Texas with the silence of the trees and the twittering of thousands of birds within the canopy of green with little droplets of sunlight peering through. Then I was discovering wildlife on my on for the first time. But today I watched the stoic poses of Tree Ducks, looking aloof and into the east wind that must have cooled the sand overnight. They knew me. They had observed me, as they went disinterestedly about their duck affairs unafraid for many days as I sculpted the very hillside with trusty Kubota tractor and front-end scoop bucket loader. All this was in preparation for the white sand that came last week. The tractor noise, nor my fishing very near these velvet ducks of many colors and a big black belly that the artist must have forgot to paint, seemed to disturb them. Nor did my casting a Tiny Torpedo, a floating clear bullet of a lure with a silver propeller on the back that spun when you retrieved it slowly on the water’s slick top.
So this morning a good friend called me. We discussed a bit of politics, government, gold and silver, the price of eggs, the drought, the impending crisis with water shortages, the Fed, Bernanke’s printing presses, nothing out of the ordinary. It is agreed that all the world’s problems and frailties, including global warming, are man’s contributions to the planet, at least partly. We sort them out, trying to see a glimmer of soul within us humans, a caring about us ourselves as a species, as a viable worthwhile source of good that would make the universe smile to know that we are here.
The practice of lying to one another as humans seems endlessly pathetic and needless, yet it is what we do. To gain an advantage, power, money or otherwise, yet we do it until we cannot separate the truth from illusion. And our human databanks and memory chips become faulty and corrupted at times. Our giant human egos become the smoke pots, and our greed for instant gratification, money, and power, our mirrors. Politicians do it best, or maybe it’s their handlers who buff up candidates with powder and wigs and other cosmetic trappings to make the pig with lipstick seem acceptable (or delude us into believing the pig is not really a pig at all). Our eyes wander about the talking head faces of candidates on big screen TVs, looking for perceived character flaws or assets interchangeably until we wear ourselves out and flip the expeditious coin in our bank of what used to be reason. This business we humans must conduct if we are to do something collectively such as elect a president. And if it looks good, sounds good, and the hair on camera is good, bingo. We decide. The TV messages, the reasoning, the sincerity, all are secondary to the subjective images and nuances we see onscreen in little 30-second ads, mostly, and we decide to give it our best shot and we decide.
“Audacity of Hope” is catchy. So is “Change you can believe in.” These are, of course, Obamaisms that helped him get elected in 2008. But suffice it to say, for whoever is to blame, we Americans are farther bogged down in the swamp of more debt, more printing money at the Fed, and still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Guantanamo is still open for business and habeas corpus is still non-existent. Tarp bailouts don’t work, even GM fails and gets absorbed by Uncle Sam, and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are now owned by Uncle Sam and funded by us taxpayers. And our estranged Uncle Sam still wiretaps us in violation of the Constitution.
But not so fast. Who set all these plates of doom to spinning? Well, Reagan borrowed and spent $3 trillion extra during his 8 years as president. It was peacetime (do you love it?) yet the Great Communicator, the Teflon President, the Gipper convinced American voters that Russia was the Evil Empire and needed to be brought to their knees, economically. And enough American voters bought into it and voted for him. Twice. Religion was used against the Democrats like 100s of Tomahawk missiles (at over $1 million a copy) were employed against many ground targets when Bush II attacked Iraq. Bush said Iraq was in cahoots with al Qaeda and had missiles of mass destruction pointed at our very own American cities. And Right Wing religious groups such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition said, Reagan and Bush II were about God’s business and opposed abortion, so support them. Voters bought into it, and Bush II attacked Afghanistan, then Iraq, and we are still there, thank you very much, Shrub. In dollars, it only cost us taxpayers another $4 trillion borrowed and spent by Bush II. And all this massive borrowing and spending totaled half the debt of all our National Debt during the combined terms of Reagan and Bush II. So will the real big-spending Democrats please stand up?
Reagan’s take on the problem
So Reagan promised to get government off the backs of the people. But it grew in size and drug our nation’s financial integrity into the toilet just as fast as the Fed could print more US dollars to buy a little more time. For those we trusted as leaders, for those who lied and corrupted America, there has been little to no accountability. For a greed that stole America. After all, during war time or peace time if you can convince voters to hold still while Halliburton sells our own government $500 for a single hammer on a no-bid contract, that’s Grand Larceny, isn’t it? So have the American voters become like millions of barnyard chickens that need plucking by the military industrial complex war corporation cronies of their favorite bought-and-paid-for presidents and congressmen? Were we just too trusting? Do we give up and buy the illusion? Just because a talking head candidate with good hair and no heart tells us he is made of truth and worth voting for? It is hard for me to feel passion for any of the candidates thus far, but I want to. I am still looking them over.
I have lived in Texas most of my life. We all used to be fierce in our competitiveness to win races here in Texas before the RNC and Tom DeLay stole an additional 16 seats in the US House of Representatives years ago. Redistricting they called it. And today DeLay has not spent a day in jail, though he was convicted of wrongful use of campaign money funds. Today, the courts are still sorting through the mess Redistricting caused, but Lordy, the damage has already been done. It is hard to put that genie back into the bottle. Texas is a funny place when it comes to judging what’s right and wrong, and the twists and turns for Texas lawmakers to get there, is a bitch sometimes. Sometimes you feel like T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock:
‘I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”
The other night my wife and I had dinner with two couples across the lake. They were our neighbors, recent acquaintances , and we played the famous game of “Ain’t it awful” about the drought in Texas and all and how our little 85-acre lake had fallen over 5 feet. I told them about the illustrious Tree Ducks on my new beach, and they seemed pleased. I also told them about how the Water Hyacinth had retreated to the far corners of land and had put down roots and were waiting for the lake to come up so they could float once again in all their majesty with succulent bulbous stems as floating green bulbs and luscious lavender flowers that truly do imitate Hyacinth flowers. Well, they were negative at the idea. Water Hyacinth, they proceeded to tell me was a noxious weed that choked waterways, etc., and as I listened, I had secret visions of my childhood in the South Texas bayous were the Water Hyacinth grew in great mats, providing cover for bait fish like minnows and added oxygen for water quality and clarity.
I argued in defense of the glorious water plant of my youth, telling them that when the White Amur Grass Carp were unintentionally released into Lake Houston that it became a fishless mud hole for over 20 years, and how not one sprig of Water Hyacinth or other vegetation existed in that lake for over 2 decades. But my arguments would not turn them. They certainly did not want any Water Hyacinth on their shoreline.
So I sought the advice of Google and found an alarming bit of news. Texas (Fish and Gamer Dept. of) had seen to it that over 10 years ago that it became illegal to own, transport, or nurture Water Hyacinth. The fine? Oh well, it was stiffer than any possession of ANY substance known to man, including Marijuana, I would guess. Each Water Hyacinth plant carried its own and separate fine of from $200-$2,000! That’s per plant! And a jail term of not more than 180 days or both. I had plans to transfer perhaps 100 plants from the cove to where the Water Hyacinth had retreated to my own beach, and quickly, the minimum fine would have been $20,000 and the maximum, $200,000! And the State of Texas means business.
But my neighbors proved to be politically correct about the hyacinth. I don’t think they knew that the plants were illegal, but I will tell them and watch a smile come to their collective faces. It’s always good to be right.
These glorious, non-invasive (in the eye of this Texan) plants of my childhood still exist all over Texas waters at this writing and are not a menace to water navigation or Texans in any way. What has the state become? Take a look at the wording, short and sweet, of this law that Texas has on the books to protect its citizens. Texas Law against Water Hyacinth and its Creator, God Almighty.
Needless to say I lost my passion for the Water Hyacinth revival project. Ah, passion.
“I grow old….I grow old…..I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.” -T.S. Eliot