Thursday, July 01, 2010

Fourth of July Manifesto

What is this thing about Harvard? Elena Kagan was the Dean of the Harvard Law School -- that makes her no smarter than a dozen people I know who read this newsletter.

There's is nothing special about Harvard. It's a fraud, an institution encrusted with prestige and the aura of power. They really know how to work the hype, but it's not an especially good school.

President Obama seems to fall for this kind of thing, as if they were the anointed ones -- those attending Harvard Law School and Yale Law School.

Isn't there a law school in Wisconsin? There are probably one or two really good law schools in the Badger State, whose graduates have become distinguished attorneys and judges, whose politics align well enough with our Democratic President -- why not pick one of them, instead of Elena Kagan with the Harvard mystique, who will probably serve on the high bench with decent distinction, meanwhile fueling the anti-elitist fury of the Tea Party.

It would be better if the nominee came from Wisconsin. Cheeseheads vote, you know.

I was in Cambridge for a few years in the 1990s -- they're a real bunch of snobs at Harvard. Thinking about this wakes up an old anger in me. They can teach, but they can't learn. They can talk, but they can't listen. They can give directions, but they can't join the team.

President Obama isn't that smart either -- he should listen to me more often, and less often to those tired saints on the Charles River.

Tea Party Demographics. I'm an old white man making far less money than I thought I would. The Tea Party people are recruiting me big time. I mean, I fit the demographic and I'm angry enough. I understand what's making them work. I have coffee with them several times a week.

We tell jokes. I said yesterday, talking to a scurrilous, foul-mouthed Cajun, "Is that what they mean by the right to bear arms? Like if you can pick it up, then it's legal."

He said, "That's right. If you can bear it, you can own it."

I said, "You can't pick up a tank, so you can't own one."

"Yeah," he said. "That's right."

"But machine guns are all right," I said.

"Sure," he said.

"What about one of those blow guns that they use in the Amazon that blow poisonous darts? What if you owned one of those blow guns and had some darts dipped in Anthrax powder, would that be legal?"

That puzzled the old Cajun, but we were interrupted by the cook bringing out some strawberry shortcake for us to taste.

I like the Tea party people. They're not stupid, except for Joe, who brags about how he never reads books. Actually Joe isn't stupid, he lives pretty well, and he knows how to do a lot of things that I can't do.

But the old Cajun is surprisingly well-read and well-informed. He's pretty sharp, and sharp-tongued too.

Those Tea Party People -- they're honest, God-fearing, hard-working people, but I'm not, I'm a Democrat.

Hard work? Are you kidding? Not for me. I wake up in the morning and use the brain God gave me and the education my parents paid for, and I start to think, "How can I make the most money with the least amount of effort?"

Taxes? Don't tax me, tax the rich. When I get rich, I'll pay a lot of taxes and complain about it while I'm riding on my yacht. Some day I'm going to be so rich that I'll hire a lawyer just to shine my shoes.

But in the meantime I think we ought to extend unemployment benefits until the true rate of unemployment gets down to under five percent. And I strongly support increased deficit spending by the federal government -- Prime the Pump, just like FDR did in the 1930s. It worked then, and it will work now.

Let's build a few more highways and dams. Let's have the government hire all the laid off construction workers and have them retro-fit every old house in America to be more energy efficient.

That is what I favor, so I guess I won't be joining the Tea Party, even though they are my kind of people.

Instead I am following a narrow path between the extremes of fundamentalism and the terrors of feminism.

I run to the Tea Party people because I am fleeing the Language Police on the left -- you know, the ones who chopped off "fisherman" and made it to be "fisher." Oh, that hurts my ears.

And then they took "Founding Fathers" and shrunk it down to "Founders." Horrible language.

I am a foe of inclusive language. I am an opponent of the gender-free vision.

But I support substantive feminist ideas, like government-subsidized day care, which could be a great help to working parents of either sex ….. just …. don’t …. correct …. my speech.

It is a narrow path, because I can't stand Fox News either. I wouldn't listen to Glenn Beck for a hundred dollars.

I attack the Right, and I irritate the Left.

It is a narrow path, but it is the way to freedom, and there I will go.

Living in Season. I get a newsletter from Waverly Fitzgerald. It's called Living in Season -- all about catching the natural rhythm of things as times passes -- days pass, weeks and months pass, the season changes, we age, the river of time flows on. But she says it much better than I can say it.

Waverly inspires me and many other writers. It isn't so much what she says, but it's the generosity of her spirit.

If you get discouraged as a writer, then you can read what Waverly wrote and she makes the effort worthwhile and you keep writing.

Being Transparent About Money. Here's what I think about money -- if I act like myself, no one wants to pay me. If I act normal, then they pay me a little bit, but it's hardly worth it.

Mainly the money dragon flies overhead and craps on my parade. I can't ever fix it.

The good thing is that I get Social Security at $551 each month, so I should always have enough money for rent. And, in my experience, if you have the rent money in hand, you can figure out the rest.

Like this week. My checking account shows $858 on hand. I pay $400 to rent a room and that includes utilities. I gave my housemate $155 on top of that for groceries, and that leaves $303.

My other bills are the car insurance at $65, and the cell phone at $50.

Oh, don’t forget health insurance -- zero, don’t have it, planning to stay healthy for one more year until I get Medicare at 65.

Do NOT mutter something about the joys of simplicity. I am neither complaining nor bragging, I am just stating what it is.

So I have the $188 left over. But wait, there's more. I have a check for $150 which I earned from Katy's Inn -- doing their gardening, and then a check for $50 which I earned as a freelance journalist.

It's really piling up now -- more than $388 on hand -- the bills are paid and I’m rich!

I could get a tuneup for my old Toyota -- long overdue. OR, I could drive down to Eugene, Oregon and visit my friends who just bought a small farm.

That would be a working vacation -- go down there and help them with the chores. It wouldn't cost me, except for the gas money to get there, and they can use the help.

I spend a lot of time in libraries, parks, and at church. I'm not religious, but I go to church because it's free, same with the library and the park.

On July 10, I expect a LARGE check of $450 for some freelance writing at the farming newspaper.

Some days I dream about owning property again, like having my own place. I would go out in the yard and pee on the bushes -- my bushes. It's a dream like out of a John Steinbeck novel. "Lennie, can we have rabbits at our place? And can we grow some carrots, and can I feed the carrots to the rabbits? I wouldn't ever forget to feed them."

How did I end up in a John Steinbeck novel? I don't know.

Previous acts of financial insanity have resulted in the squandering of money I inherited from a share in the family business -- resulting in the loss of my home and property in 2004.

That's when I bought the Toyota with the money I had left and began to roam the country.

It doesn't make any sense to me at all. I'm not asking for any understanding here. I just know that I have been ashamed of my penury, and I'm tired of feeling that way. I'm tired of the judgment I've been getting from other people. It's my money and my life.

If anybody writes back to me and says I should be grateful for what I have, their name will be removed from the mailing list -- unless they are a paid subscriber.

If anybody writes back to me with some friendly advice about how I can do better, I don't want to hear it.

This is my Fourth of July message, and my Declaration of Independence. Don't tread on me. I'm all right, Jack.

Us All One. This Fourth of July, it’s not me, it’s us. E pluribus unum meaning one from many, from diverse sources we forge a unity and harmony of sweet voices raised in songs of praise for our wonderful home and country.

Read a story about me and my book in the Wilson County News .
-- Fred Owens

cell: 360-739-0214

send mail to:

Fred Owens
Box 1292
LaConner WA 98257


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