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I’ve been struggling, recently, to wring some cardinal direction out of the wildly spinning compass that has become our nation. That’s true across a broad spectrum—from politics to sporting events, and includes even today’s most recent acid controversy, which is concerned with how children are meant to sing the “ABC Song”. Apparently the challenging “LMNOP” sequence has been deemed insensitive to some children who identify as rabbits. Not kidding.
All of that struggling for purchase has led to an acute bout of disdain for the people and processes of our government. I’m trying, desperately, to hold fast to some manner of positive thinking, to remember the oaths that I swore, and took seriously, twice in this life, but the virus of disdain is now so severe that I have been forced to stop listening to media inputs. I’m running through each day stiff-arming the news with a Heisman pose. Some of that is just a practical means of survival — the convolutions of our federal government have become so byzantine that anyone hanging on through the curves is on a path to carnival insanity.
I don’t know who, in what party, from where, has done what — I just assume they’ve all done something either intentionally or accidentally criminal — which should probably relieve some of the anxiety I feel about our national condition — but strangely doesn’t.
It’s interesting that so many politicians and bureaucrats, apparently lacking the strength of their convictions, are assuming noms de plume and making their little pithy appearances in the digital realm. Romney’s “Pierre Delecto” is a particularly daft touch, joining some other recent classics such as James Comey’s “Reinhold Niebuhr” and Anthony Weiner’s “Carlos Danger” as instant evidence of cowardice and active mushbrain.
But it’s much worse than these silly proceedings. The entire spectacle of impeachment, for instance, which includes the unsavory aspect of secret hearings. Secret courts and secret hearings are a dangerous trend in our government, suggesting there is much to hide, and we probably shouldn’t abide them. But we do, like sheep, and may be powerless to do anything about them in any case.
One might be safe to just assume that the Bidens are crooks, and that Trump is also a crook, and that Hillary and Bill are crooks, and that the Obamas and the Bushs are also crooks, and that virtually everyone serving in Congress is at the very least a slimebag, if not an outright criminal of some kind. It bears wondering, again and out loud, how so many who enter politics penniless manage to emerge exorbitantly wealthy. Perhaps they just become too big to fail.
There has also been a tidal wave of angst and hand-wringing over Trump’s decisions regarding US forces in Syria. Camps that once vehemently opposed involvement in Syria are now screaming for engagement, and vice-versa, and movements of political anxiety seem perplexed that the US has abandoned an ally. Which strikes me as odd given that the US routinely abandons its allies—and previously abandoned the Kurds for a few rounds of gassing back when old Uncle Saddam was still alive and firing a Mannlicher one-handed off the presidential balcony. Remember those halcyon days?
The real takeaway from all of this, even if we stipulate that abandoning the Kurds is difficult to stomach — particularly given the misleading and enduring image of ourselves as the aw-shucks victors of WW2 — is that we are now arguing over fruits from a highly poisonous tree. Perhaps there was a more graceful way to pull out of Syria, but the real problem is how we allowed ourselves to get so deeply entangled there to begin with. One might safely wonder why we belong in a five-sided shooting war where we don’t have a single clearly articulated national interest.
Just a thought.
We can’t say we weren’t warned against this sort of folly by our nation’s founders, and we should also immediately stop pretending that any relationship to the US government, for citizens and allies alike, is anything other than purely transactional. As the old joke goes: if you want to know who owns your house, stop paying your mortgage. If you really want to know who owns your house, stop paying your taxes.
Somehow, Americans have forgotten that government is always a hungry wolf, and the constitution is meant to be its cage.
I try very hard to come at these Running Iron pieces from some position of confidence. But I admit here that I am perplexed, on my back foot, and perhaps more than a little bit concerned that the locomotive of our nation actually HAS jumped the tracks and is now grinding up a dirt road. I’m not sure it matters anymore who is President, or who controls Congress. I think the institution smells like rotting flesh.
There is evidence elsewhere to support the idea. The state of California has now become, for all practical purposes, the first third-world entity in our republic, and the conditions there are primed only to get worse. The mismanagement of that once promised-land is so egregiously terrible that rolling blackouts effecting millions of people are not just temporary, they are the new normal—just as they are in Baghdad and Bangladesh. They aren’t magically going away – this is a severe and almost unbelievable infrastructure fail, and power outages lasting several days ARE THE NEW REALITY. Fires, land subsidence, the emergence of medieval diseases such as plague and leprosy on city streets oozing with human waste and needles and rodents, rampant lawlessness, an enormous tax-burden on the shrinking middle class to fund entitlement programs for non-citizen residents, air and water pollution, millions upon million of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities, and on and on ad infinitum. California IS the cautionary tale of the 21stcentury, though at least here in Oregon nobody seems curious enough to absorb the lessons it offers.
So, to work through these angst ridden days, I threw a gasoline on the fire by simultaneously deciding to quit my Copenhagen habit, and to wade knee-deep into a regenerative ranching business opportunity. These were positive steps, one for my long-term health, the other for food security in an age when almost everything meant to feed us – both mentally and physically — seems to contain massive doses of carcinogens. Perhaps you share some of my concerns. Perhaps you don’t. But I long ago learned, and was reminded recently, that a better part of leadership is to admit what we don’t know when we don’t know it.
And right now, I just don’t know. About any of it.
Granted I am violating my own rule of correspondence 24 ounces into a unity vibration 9% Booch Beer — but the timing of this piece is no coincidence.
I am still processing this week of cops nearly being run over by juvenile gang members in a stolen car; the call board holding transient, drug, theft and keep the peace CFS’s most of our shift; multiple injury collisions daily and the WTH look on some very motivated, educated, well trained and diverse young officers over the course of the last three days of chaos. We even had a mental health professional riding with a sworn officer for those types of calls.
There is an ever increasing inability for much of our general public to even talk to their neighbors. “You called the cops for that?!” Simultaneously, I had six separate instances in which civilians sought me out during my patrol shift to make eye contact, acknowledge what we do and offer heart felt thanks. Food for the soul and I told them that.
I know my heart (and my family) is literally in the Panhandle right now, but you are not alone in your “I’m not really sure” disposition with regards to the state of things.
I am simultaneously hopeful seeing the best of people in the worst of times and as a Christian, quite comfortable in the condition of a fallen world, the concept of grace and the blessing and curse of our free-will.
I’ve never been more sure about my call to public service; the toll it’s taking; my uncertainty of where this will end up and the godlessness and corresponding lack of hope the people of my current west coast states are suffering from.
Prayer, intervention and perspective seem to be lacking.
Could just be me.….……
Craig Rullman says
Americans have been known, rightly or wrongly, for their general optimism. Cops, even the extraordinarily strong ones, are exposed to so much genuine human toxicity that the veneer of optimism is quickly worn away. A strong faith helps. That may ultimately be the only thing that does because the rest is a brutal war for survival, and civilization itself hangs on weak hinges. Stay in the fight. Idaho, and new challenges, await.
FRANK JENSEN says
I question the sanity of quiting the Copenhagen but couldn’t agree more with the rest of the story.
Craig Rullman says
Day 20. I’m no longer stuttering or drooling, which is good, but occasionally am overwhelmed with desire for a snoose. I did find some Mint Chew that has proven very helpful. Hopefully I can stay in this fight, need to be done with it.
My response includes a connection between this posting and some audio from your trip to the valley with some of your cattle. It brings your dialogue about California right into Oregon.
My grandparents, parents, and I were raised in Woodburn — in fact, I was born in the town’s small hospital that hasn’t existed for decades. My husband and his parents and grandparents are also come from this area. My parents and my father-in-law (and their siblings) attended the same high school I did … and my mother retired as the school’s vice principal. My brother retired as a“resident” OSP senior trooper and still lives on what is left of our family’s homestead east of Woodburn. One of my sisters works as a manager at a fruit processing plant in Woodburn — she’s worked there since she was in high school.
The town wasn’t always the way it is now. I recognize my mother’s retirement from the high school in the early 1990’s as a turning point. One of the reasons she retired was having to confront people on campus who were gang members and not students, and her concern for the safety of the real students and staff members, as well as her own. The dynamics of Anglo’s, Russians, and Hispanics in this once small, agricultural-based community has changed over time. Citations/arrests for underage drinking have given way to drug-related crimes and even murders. The contrast of the outlet mall on the freeway and the downtown district is remarkable.
Portland has become a cesspool and towns like Woodburn, once described as “bedroom communities” for Portland and Salem, have become growing abscesses as a result. One example is the frequency of stolen cars from Woodburn showing up in Salem and vice versa, as drug traffickers/users create their own version of “Cars-2-Go”.
Not sure what the answer is. My father once described a prison system whereby bad guys would be locked up in a secure four-walled, no roof, “fort”. The incarceration would start with 100 bad guys, food and water for 50, 25 blankets, and 10 knives. Each day, security would come in and remove those that hadn’t survived the last 24 hours, and reduce the ratio of food, water, blankets and knives accordingly. When the day came when there was just one guy left, the procedure would start again with the next 100 bad guys. This was obviously factitious, but it makes about as much sense as allowing the drug-induced zombies to take over.
Craig Rullman says
I feel the pain. They did the same thing to my home town. First, they made it impossible to make a living by either ranching or logging — both renewable and sustainable industries if done well — and then they built prisons. 3 of them. You can imagine how the character of the place changed. It’s sad to see, and I don’t think anyone really does have an answer. No one in California does, for sure.
I am sorry for your loss my friend and I mean that. It’s a different scenario than your fields becoming custom homes and condos, or traffic problems which is bad enough.
We eventually moved north of my coastal beach town to raise my boys in what was about as working class as I could find in SB county 15 years ago.
When we finally sold a few months ago, my wife would no longer hike the trails by the river due to transient drug addicts and booby-trapped hobo camps. The acceleration was noticeable after the prison prison realignment bill and then even worse again after Prop 47.
It’s hard not to take it personally when your attached to the geography you respect and care for, only to watch such a rapid decent.
Between the cartel weed grows, sanctuary state status, decriminalized hard drug, gun, violence and theft laws — it became a moral imperative to get my crew out and we took a very real financial hit to do it.
It’s getting worse (rapidly); add now the current administration locally and on a state level — and sadly more will suffer in very real ways in the coming years.…
I accept and understand it, but it’s very sad.
Sorry about the typos — thought I proofed it?
It’s good to note that at least ONE person living on the west coast of our country displays good sense and logical thinking.
Incidentally, quite a few of Colin’s artworks are on display on the walls of my home, along with some firearms from bygone ages.