Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: 2010 elections

Reading Omens in a Caracara’s Plumage

Yesterday morning, I got to work unusually early. I didn’t get up any earlier; I just moved a little a faster getting ready. It wasn’t intentional, but sometimes that happens. I even stopped for coffee, and still I was at work before the sun was up, well, I would have been if the sun had come up, but it was a nice cold drizzly morning so there was no sun, just the good crisp early dark.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a crested caracara swoop over the lot and across the road right in front of me. I slowed down to watch him soar out over the fields near the building, gaining altitude and quickly becoming nothing more than a dark point in the gray expanse of sky.

I don’t see caracaras often, and I’ve never seen one around where I work. I’ve seen a lot of interesting birds around the building, but this was kind of a treat. As I watched him fly away, I couldn’t help but think of the previous night’s election and wonder what sort of meaning might have been read into the appearance of such a beautiful raptor. Good omen or ill?

I’m not one to take stock in omens, but the idea of reading our hopes and fears and finding either solace or justification in some bird’s random passing fascinates me. Perhaps the crested caracara’s black and white coloration could represent the newly divided nature of our government. Perhaps the bird’s powerful flight could imply that with divided government we can soar over all our problems.

Or maybe it’s a warning about the modern conservative penchant for viewing the world in black and white. Perhaps I should have looked for some gray birds: a mourning dove or scissor-tailed flycatcher. Most of the scissor-tails have already fled the country, though.

On the other hand, this bird is known colloquially as the Mexican eagle. So maybe its northbound flight across the field symbolizes illegal immigrants, and predatory ones at that, sneaking through the dawn into our country to destroy our culture and do all the other horrible things the right wing expects.

Speaking of wings, the bird did have both a healthy and functioning right and left wing. Neither one was dominant, and that circles me back (hopefully not too much like a vulture which I also saw an unusual number of yesterday) to that divided government thing. I do generally prefer divided government. Perhaps that’s a function of having once been a debate coach playing with my mostly optimistic nature.

I watched the bird disappear, feeling a little sorry for the poor guy for all the burdens I’d just laid on his shoulders, I mean, he’s just a bird trying to find something to eat in a world where such meals must seem increasingly scarce to a hunter like him. I wondered if our newly elected Republican house had any member who would worry themselves over wildlife and healthy ecosystems. If that wasn’t such a heartbreaking thought, I might have laughed.

In the gray predawn,
a crested caracara
swoops over the road.

Election Day

Vote Aqui

Today is election day, but I voted early as I usually do. I don’t know that I could say that I am more or less enthusiastic about voting than I have been in the past. Fortunately that doesn’t matter. Since I live in Texas and voted mostly for Democrats, my vote doesn’t really matter either. Such is the way of things here and I’m used to it. It’s why I don’t bother with my torch, pitchfork and revolutionary hat. We don’t throw our bums out in Texas.

My official for-what-it’s-worth prediction is that the Democrats will lose the house and hold the senate, which is pretty much conventional wisdom. Here in Texas, Rick Perry will win yet another term as governor, making him the longest serving Texas governor and one of the longest serving governors in US history. They say he has presidential aspirations, though I’m not sure if his aspiration is to be president of the US or a newly seceded Texas.

It is an odd choice for voters today. Vote for the Republicans who created many of the economic and budget problems we face or double down on Democrats who have demonstrated ineffectiveness in solving them. Here is the problem of a two-party system distilled: either/or without a pragmatic middle is barely a choice at all. I don’t know what the real answer is other than viable third and fourth parties. Maybe that isn’t an answer either.

As for me, I went with the Democrats this time out. I’d like to be able to take the GOP seriously, but it’s hard to get behind an anti-intellectual party that doesn’t believe in good government. It would be like going to a dentist who doesn’t believe in dentistry. Whatever happens tonight, though, I suspect I’ll be wishing for something stronger than Novocain.

Political Signs

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