- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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Rockvale TN  November 18th, 2010  – Barack, don't let 'em get you down.

Change we can believe in is a long time coming, but it ain't for lack of trying. You must feel lonely.  I know I would. How can a man govern an ungovernable people?  I don't mean that phrase in some faux-patriotism sense, some glorified concept of the American people as wild and free.
Willful, like a spoiled child, is what I mean. Yesterday GM shares went on the market and in minutes gained 8 per cent.  That fact that the government's shares of GM stock are down from 61 per cent to 23 percent in the year since you bailed out GM, that therefore an iconic engine of employment and manufacture has begun a rapid rise back to the top means little to many who voted for you and nothing to nearly all of those who did not. We don't like numbers. We don't like percents.  We like pizza.

Another thing we don't like is teachers, and you are a teacher.  And a lawyer.  We don't like them very much, either, though we're not sure why.   And a best-selling author.  Unless you're Stephen King or Dan Brown (both fine men, I'm sure) we don't like them too much.  Too  much thinking.  Maybe we'll just wait for the movie.  Denzel will play your

Meanwhile entropy is setting in, as you know.  I remember driving from St Petersburg to Manhattan in 14 hours and not speeding,, but even given the fact that my body is failing(you should stop smoking) as I get more miles on it, I don't think Woody's ribbon of highway will ever be as flawless as it was in the late 60s. You barely remember then, of course.  I spend a good portion of time on the road, and the potholes are getting bigger and more numerous.  But I do like Ike.

Why we do not have a national railroad is beyond me, too.  Dang Chinese got 33 high-speed rail systems under construction (with bamboo and bare hands when necessary) and last I heard, we're still bickering over that Tampa to DisneyWorld short line.  This is because we're not exactly a forward-looking people.  We'd rather be at the rear of the global train, looking back.

Why the public does not see the advantages of having fast trains to get on to go everywhere is out of my ken.

I was just reading Bill Bryson on Herbert Hoover.  Orphaned at eight, works his way through Stanford, becomes mining engineer successful in the American West, then Australia.  Lived in London as a wealthy man.  Turned down signal honors and significant offers from the English government to aid in feeding the starving millions after World War I.  Credited with saving 10 million(!) from starvation.  World-renowned and loved. He came home to a worshipful public, served two presidents, ran for the office himself and was elected by a landslide.  Nine months or so after he took office events occurred that caused him to be defeated in the same manner three years later.    Now how do we remember him?  He was the guy responsible for the Great Depression.

 I don't understand the resolute irresoluteness that is us as a whole people.

Something I think I do understand is connection.  And if you can disrupt connection you can own the  phone company.  So the engine works.   If you can disrupt government you can own it.  So the engine works.   Not having connections is one of your problems now. Teddy is gone.  Rahm for whatever reason is gone.  Perhaps you have been making connections that will bear fruit in your next half-term.

Herbert Hoover? Jimmy Carter? Another honest, enormously successful, compassionate man, destined to serve only one term?  It is an increasingly likely possibility. It will now be very difficult to turn that aircraft carrier around.

Yer friend as ever