The picture you see here was taken by Todd Vogel. A few decades ago we went to school together at Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Illinois. It was a small liberal arts college you have probably never heard of that offered a Great Books course of study, the Socratic Method of teaching, and a haven to bright kids who were also odd balls and misfits. We didn’t know one another well back then.
Forty years later we reconnect on Facebook along with other former Shimerites. It turns out Todd has become one of the best nature photographers I have ever seen. His work is both equiset and stunning. He is equally adept at capturing the tiniest bug munching a leaf and breath taking photos of birds in motion. If you want to see some of that work—and if you are smart you will—check out http://portraitsofgardens.com/ .
Todd also uses those photographs and decades of experience as a councilor to produce Very Simple Guides which incorporate the photos with plain good advice for overcoming addictions and facing life’s travails and challenges. I highly recommend those, too. You can find them at http://odatbooks.com/ .
So why, you may well ask, if Todd is such a fabulous nature photog did I pick a shot of a jackass for the blog? Because it made me laugh my ass off –you should pardon the pun—that’s why.
Unavoidably, it also brought to mind the current dismal state of political and social affairs here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Just last night a parade of Republican presidential hopefuls strutted their stuff in front of and Iowa and Fox News audience. I spared myself the painful duty to witness it, but I dutifully read up on post gang bang commentary this morning.
This particular debate is in advance of something called the Ames Straw Poll, allegedly the first unofficial test of strength for GOP wannabes. The participants in this quadrennial dance are notoriously the most hard core, flinty eyed conservatives in the nation. In order to get the votes of these folks you have to throw plenty of red meat.
Participants included former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Texas Representative Ron Paul, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Utah Governor John Huntsman, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Virtually every candidate needed continuously try to leap frog the others to the right to catch the fancy of the straw poll voters. And that’s exactly what nearly everybody, except maybe John Huntsman. Huntsman’s strategy is to come off slightly less than insane to general election voters. It cause commentators in the Washington Post and New York Times to swoon and proclaim him one of the winners. But it was sure to disqualify him for straw poll voters.
Things got lively as Minnesotans Bachmann and Pawlenty went at each other hammer and tong. Santorum and Paul argued over whether to nuke Iran and Gingrich, predictably got testy when someone asked a question he didn’t like. Or that’s what the morning pundits tell me.
Not making the dog and pony show were fading former right wing darling Sarah Palin, who continues to play coy about a run while tooling around in her bus, which, by the way, happens to be due in Iowa today. Texas Governor Rick Perry, the sudden darling of the revived Religious Right and anointed immediate co-leader of the field with Romney by the national press announced his candidacy earlier in the day, too late to be included in the debate.
The thing about this debate is that if anyone not already a card carrying Tea Party member or Fox news zombie actually watched, they were scared to death that any one of the contestants is even considered presidential timber.
Which brings us back to our friend the jackass. Remember him? Look to me like he is checking to see if the stampede of elephants has passed. Might be time to come out of the shed and get hitched to the plow. The ground is pretty fertile now.