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More Dogs on Main Street

Well, we’re down to the wire. Only three days to go before the start of the 2012 campaign season. This has been the longest, loudest campaign I can remember. John McCain has been running for president since at least 1950. Hillary Clinton was campaigning in the womb. Obama’s been at it for nearly two years. Sarah Palin has been running for almost eight weeks now. It’s all wearing thin, but Tuesday it’s over. It’s kind of over early for me, because I voted last week.

I started watching the Obama infomercial, but quickly found that I’m tired of it all. So I switched over to the farm channel, expecting to find the "Classic Tractor Hour." Instead, T. Boone Pickens was explaining his wind/natural gas power strategy to a group of high-plains farmers. He made all kinds of sense. After the long and counterproductive political season, here is a guy with a solution. It’s well thought out, and he was quick to admit where there were problems and technology gaps that needed to be filled. Whoever wins the election, I hope he is on the phone with Pickens by about noon on Wednesday.

For the first time in my life, I voted a straight ticket. I had to think about it for a while because there are some Republicans who actually deserve consideration. Governor Huntsman has done a pretty solid job. He seems to be able to rise above the swill in the legislature and take a logical, long-term view of things. The Democrat running against Congressman Bishop frankly seems like a major-league twit, but he’s in no danger of winning. So I voted against Bishop. Even on the local level, there are a couple of council candidates I would have voted for in a non-partisan race. But I’m mad as hell and hold the Republicans largely responsible.

I saw a map of the U.S. recently with each congressional district color-coded. Only those districts where there was a serious challenge were colored, with those predicted to go one way or the other shaded red or blue. The rest of the map, showing the vast majority of districts, was gray, indicating the incumbent had no serious challenge. Something like 90 percent of Congress will be reelected. The other 10 percent are either dead or recently caught in sex scandals with underage pages. So far, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, a doddering octogenarian, and now a convicted felon, is still ahead in the polls and likely to be reelected.

Personally, I would consider this election a real success if there were 435 members of the House of Representatives in the unemployment office on Wednesday morning, with Nancy Pelosi at the head of the line. The majority of them are Democrats; all of them are incumbents who should be held accountable for their non-performance. If they had been doing their job, the odds are pretty good we would not be in the current mess, or multiple messes. But in a year when the electorate claims it wants change, we are going to send 90 percent of the same incompetent, venal criminals back to Congress. Yeah, that will change things around here. We keep doing the same thing over and over again, and are surprised and disappointed when the result isn’t different.

In the 1950s, the U.S. was the world’s premier manufacturing economy. Nobody was better at it than we were. Then it faded, and we became the world’s best technology economy. Then we became the world’s best services economy until that got shipped to India. So we developed an economy based entirely on trading pieces of paper, and nobody was better at it than us. Then somebody discovered that pieces of paper didn’t have any intrinsic value. Now we’re on our way to building a new hunter-gatherer economy, and I’m sure we will be the best hunter-gatherers in the world. Whatever we do, we Americans do it big. The new currency will be Campbell’s Minestrone Soup. It’s a little hard to carry in your wallet, but it tastes better than a collateralized debt obligation (though Icelandic Treasury Bonds, seasoned with a little garlic and sautéed in olive oil, can be quite tasty).

Everybody is trying to predict what kind of winter we’ll have. A repeat of last year would be very nice. Apparently one of the Salt Lake weathermen said that the ocean currents were setting up with a "la nina" effect, which is what happened last winter. The storms came in often enough to keep the skiing just about perfect all season long. I don’t know if he has any idea what he’s talking about. They have a hard time forecasting tomorrow’s weather, so looking out three or four months is a stretch.

Years ago, a neighbor told me his theory about winter predictions. He claimed that if the hornets’ nests are high in the trees, we will have a big snow year. He was very old. Somehow, that gave his theory an aura of credibility. Some years the hornets’ nests around the ranch are built about chest height. It’s a discovery I’ve generally made by accidentally smacking one with a shovel while irrigating. You tend to remember that. Then other years, the hornet nests are way up in the tops of the trees and you don’t have to worry about them at all. This year, the hornet nests are cantaloupe sized and right at the very tops of the trees. So, by that theory, we are in for a big winter.

I have to admit that, while I eagerly watch the hornet nests in the fall, I’ve never tried to go back in the spring and correlate the hornets’ forecast with what really happened. It could be completely random. It might be a better predictor of the World Series than the weather. But I know that the hornets build their nests differently from year to year. And my neighbor who told me about this lived to be 102, so he has to be right.

Get your snow blower ready.

Tom Clyde served as a Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs on Main Street." He has been a columnist for The Park Record for more than 20 years.


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