This is going to be one hell of a Monday, so don’t expect a dynamite column tomorrow. Come to think of it, if you’re looking for a a dynamite column, check out the San Francisco Chronicle archives and look for some of Herb Caen’s work. It’s more dependable and only slightly less dated.
Caen, as with most of my literary heroes, have been dead a good while. 1997 for Caen.
In fact, come to think of it, the only really good newspaper columnist I worked with for any period was Emmett Watson, of the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
Watson hung on until 2001, but after you’ve founded a great organization like Less Settle, Inc. (his answer to the Californication of the Northwest spearheaded by Greater Seattle) and after operating one of the finest oyster bars down below the Pike Place Market in Seattle, how do you top that?
I learned a few things from Watson. Luckily, I was News Director of KOL AM-FM in the early 1970’s in Seattle and he was doing commentary (anti-war, pro abortion rights). It was something station manager Dick Curtis has cooked up.
Watson was pretty good. I’d ghost write about half of of his commentary would cover and then he would come in and clean it up. I never learned a damn thing about punctuation, but since we were doing radio, that was a minor concern.
He usually needs half a dozen “takes” to record things perfectly, so I was able to fine-tune my splicing block skills. Oh to have a digital audio workstation, back then!
Why mention Watson and that other fellow – the one down the Coast? Well, at some point they both dabbled in politics.
I had a near-brush with this form of spiritual death this weekend.
Our story has an obscure beginning. Down in the bowels of small town politics, of the rural East Texas sort.
Over on County road 450 there was a gravel pit, operated by a fellow who lives in a different county.
After a while, the local residents on Country Road 450 got sick of the trucks and and protested to the County Commission.
The Commissioners responded by putting some pressure on the gravel pit operator…who moved to a new location, just across County Road 441 from Ures truly.
There was a shoveling off of the old gravel pit to the county…and we’re still looking to find out which hands were near the cookies on that deal, if you follow me.
People who live here in Anderson County are judged in surrounding areas as being hillbillies who spent most of their life fixing their deer stands. Taking gravel from the simples isn’t a big deal, or at least, it didn’t used to be so.
That was until the overweight belly-dump trucks busted up a great deal of the former oil-sand paving.
At first, it was merely an increase in dust and noise. My asthma medication use doubled. By then our cars were beginning to get buggered up.
Brother in Law Panama, the retired Special Forces and Ranger graduate, who lives with us and watches the place when we “go tumbleweed” goes to town more often than we do. He just had his third front-end alignment up at the Nissan dispensary in Tyler. 2-year old car…
The 10-year old Lexus has done a little better because of a unique voice alert that begins to scream “Slow Down! Slow Down! Dammit, Slow Freaking down!!!” any time I drive faster than 12 miles per hour. It sounds suspiciously like Elaine.
We are not rich, but out here a job which pays $60,000 a year doesn’t interest me. I’ve had my boardroom fun. I keep plenty busy and my next book (“Gambling With Your Future”) should be on Amazon sometime in January. But, not if I get wrapped around the axel of politics.
Besides $60-large, county commissioners get a car allowance. That and another dip for something (skip[s my mind for now) make this a highly prized political plum.
The County officialdom (emphasis on the dom part) didn’t have the sense to demand a bond of the gravel farmer, so it’s an easy issue to exploit..
Even advising the Country Judge that I’ll be gong door-to-door explaining how to petition for property tax relief – since the county has given up on maintaining our roads – was only met with a polite note that our road issue is not currently on the agenda for this morning’s meeting.
The good news is that one of the non-performing county commissioners is up for election this cycle. So I got on the blower and pitched my high-powered Texas Political Consultant on managing my campaign. He was “all-in.”
He’s managed more than 50 races in the state and actually holds High Office. He’s also a Peoplenomics.com subscriber. Which means bright and very clever. A step ahead on things.
He gave me a couple of choices:
Choice #1: I can register as a republican candidate, pay $750, to register, and try blow out my local County Commissioners in the primary.
The problem with this approach is that he is an incumbent, everyone in the community knows him and no one has ever heard of Ure’s truly.
Oh, I also don’t kiss babies.
Choice #2: I could pay next to nothing and run as an independent. This way, while the fellow who hasn’t seen to fixing my road yet would have to face a serious November (2016) challenge.
If the road gets fixed before April 1, I just let it slide and announce a good slot tournament has come up that demands my attention, elsewhere.
Somewhere along the way, I discovered a few things about the reality of campaign finance. The way you begin is by “lending yourself” a starting amount to run for office. Then you start raising money by explaining how your opponent is the Spawn of the Devil. Around here that’s easy.
Say you “lent yourself” $1,000 of “seed money.” The next step is to hornswoggle people into contributing at least that much to your campaign. You take your original grub-stake off the table paying your “loan” back and from then on, you’re playing with House Money.
I’m not sure if the “pay-day loan congressman” from our district started that way, but many people go into politics broke and retire rich. Which is more than most jobs offer. Not to mention the “special” retirement deals.
A lot of the campaign seemed like real work, except there is one part of my background that you may have forgotten.
In 1985, in Redmond, Washington, I was the very first voice of VoiceLink.
That’s the automated (predictive di8al) system that can dial across hundreds of phone lines and wait for a sucker…er…human…to pick up the phone. My claim to fame after 20-years in broadcast journalism and engineering?
“Please hold, I have an important call for this number….”
The VoiceLink (product genealogy) went on to evolve from Microperipheral Corp, when I was there circa 1985 to Digital Systems International, and then it got rolled up into Avaya.
My high-priced consultant said in this kind of race the idea would be to come in hard and fast…”Speed Kills, in politics, George.”
And he’s right. So do predictive-dialing algorithms.
I remember one weekend before a mid-1980’s era political campaign in Nevada, we used an early VoiceLink to call every single eligible voter in Nevada. 72-hour window. More than a quarter million completed calls. And the technology has only gotten better.
Toss in a number of skillsets in email campaigns and the like and it would not be too difficult technically…
– – – –
The 3rd choice. You need to understand that people in East Texas are generally what I call “false-flag republicans.” Since Barrack Obama won the White House, a huge number of locals changed parties; demos to repubs. You did catch that this is the South, right?
So I called a friend of mine who is closely allied with the democratic party to see what kind of “deal” I might be able to finds if I ran under that brand.
Not that I am a Bernie Sanders guy, don’t get me wrong, but the demos do have a pretty interesting take on things. Went something like this:
“Despite what you hear, there’s a good chance that the GOP will implode.
The old guard want Trump and Carson out of the party. If they go, as independents, there are no viable candidates left and that will pave the wave for Hillary to win in November.
And when that happens, a lot of people will vote a straight party ticket – and you can be on it.”
The other thing pointed out was that an independent had never one an election in East Texas.
Of course that didn’t answer the real problem…time.
IN terms of winnable?
Long before I had my White House Press credentials back in the day (I did ride the back of the bus with Frank Mankiewicz during the losing McGovern campaign), I had been privy to how the mechanics of campaign tactics are structured. All politics is worked out on a four-square issue board that looks something like this:
It’s then a simple process of painting your opponent into the negative boxes while holding the positive ground for yourself.
Move public opinion into the right “issue” box and you win the election. It’s pretty trivial.
Which Party Did I Take?
To recap: About $750 to go with the R’s, about $0 to be a credible “I” and $750 to be a “D”.
One of my brain trust admitted that having a formerly paved road turned into a Mud-running track did give me some “fire in the belly.”
But could that be acid reflux? If almost 67 years has taught me anything, it is the wisdom of seeking good counsel. And never being in a rush to commit.
Elaine and I had a heart-to-heart about it.
The County is going to pave the road when they get good and damn ready to…and what we suspect is going on behind the scenes can be rooted-out with a massive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filing. Different topic.
But the real question is: “Is George up for a political fight?”
A political campaign would bring out the terrible truth about me: I has a speeding ticket at age 18.
Age is a legit concern. Since the election won’t be decided until a year from now, that would put me at age 67….almost 68. By the time the four-year term would complete, I’d be 72.
I would also have to work about 100-hours a week to do everything I do now, since none of that workload is going away. That would be edging toward heart attack country. For what?
And the capper is that these are likely these next five years will be the last “flying years” – at least for long cross-country trips. Give up four of them to put up with minutia and long hours?
The obvious tactic is to file a notice of intent as an independent. Low cost, gets me until April to ramp up signature gathering (if my road is not fixed) and in the meantime, I can go around to the local service clubs with my trusty LCD projector and give ‘em hell about what the future looks like.
As soon as this morning’s Commissioner’s Court meeting in done, I’m afraid I will be “plum tuckered out.” Getting a notarized statement of neck in the noose is stressful, I hear.
I promised Elaine we can take a three-day casino vacation over in Louisiana.
The thing I’ll be ponder there is this:
Given a choice, which device do you think is more honest?
- A Texas Voting Machine or
- A Louisiana Slot Machine?
Still, since UrbanSurvival has served up more than 8-million pages to more than 2 1/2 million users this year, I figure at least one of them has to know someone in the Koch Brother’s sphere.
And all those out of state contributions….why maybe I could scam myself into riches like the rest of ‘em do.
Monday at the Inbox
Two items to share.
1. The recurrent story about the supposed state superior court judge in Alaska declaring congress and the president should be arrested is a recycle.
Seems like a dozen copies of the same disinfo has hit our tip line here…
2. On the other hand, this email joke is making the rounds:
No nursing home for us. We’ll be checking into a Holiday Inn!
With the average cost for nursing home care being $188.00 per day, there is a better way when we get old and too feeble. I’ve already checked on reservations at
The Holiday Inn.
For a combined long term stay discount and senior discount, it’s $59.23 per night.
Breakfast is included, and some have happy hours In the afternoon.
That leaves $128.77 a day for lunch and dinner in any restaurant we want, or room service, laundry,
Gratuities and special TV movies.
They provide a spa, swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge and washer-dryer, etc.
Most have free toothpaste and razors, and all have free shampoo and soap.
$5 worth of tips a day you’ll have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
They treat you like a customer, not a patient.
There’s a city bus stop out front, and seniors ride free.
The handicap bus will also pick you up
(if you fake a decent limp).
To meet other nice people, call a church bus on Sundays.
For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of
The nice restaurants there.
While you’re at the airport, fly somewhere.
Otherwise, the cash keeps building up.
It takes months to get into decent nursing homes. Holiday Inn will take your reservation today.
And you’re not stuck in one place forever — you can move from Inn to Inn, or even from city to city.
Want to see Hawaii ? They have Holiday Inn there too.
TV broken? Light bulbs need changing? Need a mattress replaced? No problem.. They fix everything, and apologize for the inconvenience.
The Inn has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks to see if you are ok. If not, they’ll call an ambulance . . .
Or the undertaker.
If you fall and break a hip, Medicare will pay for the hip, and Holiday Inn will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.
And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you, and probably check in for a few days mini-vacation.
The grand-kids can use the pool.
What more could I ask for?
So, when I reach that golden age,
I’ll face it with a grin.
This gets passed around as a “joke” but much of the same holds true for cruise ships.
The other option is to buy a few bottles of spray-tan, some black hair dye, and announce you are a refugee. Then…oh, let’s not go there.
Write when you break-even,