In the normal course of events you will rarely find a political appointee or elected official at Mickey’s Dining Car at 0330 on a Monday morning. That’s a shame. There’s a lot to be learned at that hour.
I’m not a populist by any stretch of the imagination. But the arrogance of our political elites galls me beyond words most days. The people at the top of the political pile (on both sides) look down their noses as the plebeians struggle along in the dirt. The elite seem to think it’s their right to rule. After all, they are better educated and far more interested in our social welfare than the dullards I surround myself with – just ask them!
As a result, they will never be around for conversations like I had on a -10 degree morning while eating a bacon cheeseburger. The guy at the end of the counter was obviously living on the street. The general condition of his clothing, the menu item he chose, the plastic bag luggage spoke volumes. Big deal. Seriously, he was just another patron to me, but I did take a few minutes to pray over my meal and ask God to keep guys like him warm on this cold night.
Back to the conversation. As he gathered his stuff and made to leave he said, “Why do you think those Iranian warships are heading for our coast?” I laughed and said it was to provide target practice for our nuclear submarines. Dead serious, he replied, “No, they’re really off the coast. Why do you think they’re there?” He pointed at the news ticker on the building down the road that was reeling off the headlines.
He had no idea who I was (I’m nobody – ask Mary behind the counter) or that I had some vague understanding of the Middle East and foreign policy matters. But I gave him an honest answer, befitting his level of interest. “I don’t think they’ll make it to the coast, and it’s just one warship and an auxiliary as far as I know. But they’re probably going to turn back before they get here due to maintenance problems.”
He shook his head. “As in love as they are with their nuclear programs, don’t you think they might have a weapon on board and will use this to get it in close and detonate it?”
In that moment he displayed more deep thinking than our chattering class has in the last ten days regarding the warships. He had done analysis and given it time in the computer bank between his ears. He has come up with a great response. I nodded. Hard to argue the possibility.
He smiled and made a final comment on his way out: “We ought to show them how real nukes work before they get here. It might discourage others from getting foolish.” With that he headed back out into the dark of night and the subzero cold.
To all the State Department wonks and weasels, and the ossified CIA analysts that lurk out there parroting what the White House wants to hear, head over to Mickey’s and have a burger next week. There are some experts there you ought to listen to – the people you work for in your jobs.
We’re not stupid, we’re not dangerous, but we are your employers. Drop on by without the camera crews and wear some old clothes. Sit at the counter and listen to what the young people say who are coming from their night shift at the bar, what the cook thinks, and what the old man in the snow suit knows about strategic deception. It will boggle your minds.
The members of the Senate, House of Representatives, and the executive branch seem to be under the impression that we work for them. Strange, I could have sworn it was all set up the other way around. My point is not to beat the black helicopters to the populist nirvana just down the road. Instead, it is to point out the upside down relationship between the power elites and our citizenry. Not subjects, citizens. We are often treated as though we were an annoyance and a hindrance to good government. I sure wish Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Franklin, Jackson, and Reagan were all here to school them on who’s really in charge. I threw Reagan in because he was the last president that actually got it right. The ones in the last few administrations have lost sight of that Constitution thingie.
I’m an optimist. I don’t think the best days of this nation are irrevocably in the rear-view mirror. But it’s going to be a struggle to turn this ship around and get it going the right direction. Ask the Iranians: long voyages are tough. I just hope we can turn the rudder before this beast of a government gets us up on the rocks.