Nov. 3, 2019


In the early ‘60s, when I was in the process of getting my beginner Private Pilot license, a significant part of the learning process was flying a solo ‘round trip’ circuit from my home airfield to two or three neighboring airports, none of which had control towers (that’s why they were called ‘uncontrolled’ airports), and then returning to my home airfield. The learning ritual required making a ‘touch & go’ (landing –wheels touching the runway-with immediate take-off-go– on the same runway) at each airport on the circuit. Since those airports had no control tower, much less an ‘air traffic controller’, the way a pilot (me) determined which runway and what direction on that runway to land was to fly over the center of the airport at about 500 feet above ground level and look for the wind sock to show me which way the wind was blowing and it’s ‘fullness’ indicated the approximate wind speed. The wide end of the hollow, very light weight, wind sock was always directly into the wind (the direction you want to land and take off into) and, if the ‘sock’ was fully extended the wind speed could be at or over 25 knots. As a beginner pilot, the two wind sock position I didn’t want to see were: 1) a fully extended sock at exactly 90 degrees off the runway direction or, 2) a dead, totally drooping sock. The first meant a severe cross-wind was going to test my landing skills and the second required I put my eyes to work through the back of my head looking all around for another approaching-to-land, airplane, take my pick of runway directions (I always picked the runway pointing closest to the direction I wanted to be going on take-off) and cross my fingers that no other pilot was up in the sky and wanted to land on the same runway at the same time I did. Learning to ‘read the wind sock’ was the best metaphor I could find for learning to read the ever-changing winds of public opinion. As a (airplane and sailplane) pilot for over 40 years, I did a reasonably good job of ‘reading the wind socks’ because I always selected the correct, safe, runway. Now, as a writer of political and social commentary, I hope I do as well in learning how to read the ever-changing winds of public opinion.

     Winds, of weather and public opinion, increase in times of change and decrease in times of stability. I don’t think I need a doctoral degree in meteorology or political science to opine that climate change is happening and our world society is reaching the point of potentially severe imbalance and, what could be, a cataclysmic re-balance. Like wind is not the cause of weather change, public opinion is not the cause of social change. They are both symptoms of change coming. The first could indicate an approaching storm and the second a significant change in government or public rejection of government policy. As a private pilot, I spent a great deal of time studying ‘weather’ and I soon learned that barometric pressure variations and the earth’s rotation (angle and position of the sun) were the push and pull of weather changes. As a writer concerned about matters of social equity and (the often stupidity of) political reality, I realized from my reading of history that people’s needs and wants were the barometric equivalent, the cause, of social change and political stagnation or upheaval. Watching the barometer or reading the polls reports of political opinion is neither like reading tea leaves nor expecting the Ouija Board to explain the meaning of anything. Both are subject to broader understanding of other existing elements and require serious analytical thinking. I believe the issues of climate change and our present political ‘situation’ require just that—serious, analytical, thinking! Just as there are many reasons why we have more hurricanes, tornadoes, raging wildfires, and other weather extremes, we have political constipation in our do-nothing congress, loss-of-faith in our political system by the majority of our electorate, and a ‘Donald Trump’, ‘Mitch McConnell’, ‘Lindsay Graham’ and a ‘William Barr’—all symptoms of a truly dysfunctional government— running and ruining our country with total impunity! I have a hard time dealing with the ‘deniers’ of climate change and a harder time dealing with Trump (jockstrap) supporters. I truly believe that President Obama was a failed example of a ‘Harvard Elite’ in political leadership but this country didn’t deserve a ‘Trump’ as a result of his failure to govern wisely.

      My suspicion, that our electorate’s loss of moral character, is the main reason why we have ‘Donald Trump’ may be ‘on point’, as a bird hunter with a good bird dog would say, but I also believe that the loss of moral character is not the only reason. Looking at the straight line rise in our national debt to a now untenable level, through Democratic and Republican administrations, shows equal blame by both parties.  The problem, my friends, isn’t ‘blowing in the wind’, the problem is simply, and seriously, that ‘Money’ has corrupted our entire political system and it has done that for a very, very, long time! Worse is the fact that both of our major political parties and our entire political system seem quite content to let that corruption continue indefinitely. Donald Trump, whose basic business plan is based on borrowed money he knows he will never pay back, is the ‘fitting image’ of our present national economic reality.  The fact that he is also totally lacking in ‘moral character’ just may be the ’fitting image’ of our national moral character reality. America looks at the mirror and sees itself as—-Donald Trump. Not a pretty picture!  Let’s hope the winds of public opinion blow some fresh air into a political system sorely in need of change.

     Whenever I think of ‘Donald the Narcissist’ I think of the nursery rhyme “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” –and I start to laugh. Whenever I try to think of how we are going to get out of the mess that we are in—I get angry.  And then, I remember another little cowboy song, “When you are in a bad mood, and you want to act rude, you had better go and talk to your horse!” Hubris, let’s go for a ride!



                               Copyright, Nov. 2, 2019, Louis J. Christen

Lou (The Lone Curmudgeon) Writes Again! “The Wind Sock”