Friday, July 26, 2013





"I'm calling about  that same issue.  Any word?"

"Ah, nothing yet, but there's a meeting this afternoon that should provide some clarity.  As soon as I hear anything, I'll let you know."

"That's the same thing you told me yesterday."

"Not so.  Yesterday I said there was a meeting that might provide some clarity.  I'm sure you can appreciate the distinction."

"So... you feel more certain about today's meeting providing clarity than you did about yesterday's meeting doing so?"

"I don't think I am prepared to take a position on that.  I refer you back to my earlier 'might and/or should' statements."

"When might and/or should I expect a more satisfying end to these conversations?"

"Best guess?  Call me back in a couple of weeks.  There are lots of meetings planned between now and then, but I only have so many verbs left to convey the likelihood of actual outcomes."

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Meaning of Mt. Rushmore

I don't know why America works.  Probably I ought to know -- ostensibly,  part of my job is explaining the United States to other people.  Plus, I've been American for a long time.  You'd think I'd have figured it out by now.

"Democracy:  The Meaning of Mount Rushmore" the pamphlet declares.  Joe and I hop around  in front of the monument taking pictures, then sit in the amphitheater to admire the view of the presidents.  A very American moment.  The woman to our left comments to her husband, gesturing toward the mountain, "They could put Reagan in that space there."  Joe and I exchange glances.  "Gift shop?" he asks.  Yes.  Democracy at its finest.

Back in the car, I check my blackberry in between appreciative scans of the South Dakota countryside.  The scenery is soothing; the story out of Egypt less so.  People there have been trying to figure out democracy, too.  I try to imagine some equivalent scene in the United States -- Secretary Hagel letting Congress know it's got 48 hours to pass a budget, or the military would be taking steps. Why doesn't that happen here?  What makes it seem so far-fetched?

We hit Wyoming, my favorite state.  "You could put your blackberry down, you know."  So I do, for a while.  Just a little while.