I have always liked the "well-oiled machine" comparison, evoking as it does images of briskly humming gears, cogs, cams, and belts efficently spinning away and finely tooled components seating themselves with satisfying metallic clicks and thunks, not only is it a useful idiom in describing systems characterized by their easy competence, skill, and utility, but there is a pleasantly lubricious tone to the words that give them, when judiciously and properly applied, a satisfaction in and of themselves. Of course, when you have an organization like the Trump White House laying claim to the descriptor in characterizing their operation, as the Donald himself and several of his spokesmonkeys have thoughtlessly done, the phrase takes on a mantle of sad irony, as it would be impossible to conjure a group operating less like a well-oiled machine without devolving into silliness, like a tribe of Juggalos wacked out on Everclear and orange Faygo taking over operations at CERN. If you need an explanation for that, it means the stupidest followers of the world's stupidest band trying to run the World' s most complex and advanced technology, the superconducting supercollider, and that is barely an exaggeration.
There is plenty of oil coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania, but it is all of the snake variety, an endless litany of misdirection, hyperbole, and outright bullshit designed specifically to mask an epically disordered mare’s nest of chicanery and confusion.
Even if you think Trump is the greatest thing to hit America since Jello shots, you have to admit that a 'well-oiled machine' is not one for which you have to replace parts every single day. It is not one that fails to fulfill its intended purpose 90% of the time, and it is definitely not one that colludes with other, equally inept but decidedly more corrupt machines to facilitate the ruin of an essentially decent and well-meaning, if a little pushy and strident, machine.
If one were to immerse oneself in the daily deluge of reportage of the cockeyed machinations of the shitshow that is the Trump administration, one might be forgiven for deducing that the country itself is shedding crucial components, springing leaks, shearing off bolts, and is fixin' to blow. This is, naturally, the opinion of the rest of the world, whose experience of us is limited to what they can glean from their various news outlets, all of whom are (also naturally) fixated on the most compelling and horrifying aspect of America today: Donald Effing Trump and his merry band of rapacious stooges. However, and I know I've pointed this out before but I can't stress it enough, the government is not the country nor vice versa.
The country is made up of people, most of whom are not stupid or suicidal enough to allow a blustering, bloviating bully like Trump anywhere near any enterprise which is depended upon to promote the general welfare in the way of producing goods and providing services. To do that effectively, it is necessary to install serious, competent people, commit to a firm and unwavering mission, and work with unstinting perseverance. Exactly the opposite of what is currently happening in the government. And it is because of people like that doing what is necessary that the country is humming along nicely right now, if not precisely like a well-oiled machine, then at least like one that has been patched up by a reasonably competent shadetree mechanic.
We exist, thrive, and grow in spite of that venal cabal of nest feathering scalawags, not because of them. I'm a little surprised that more alarm bells weren't rung during the presidential campaign when Trump promised to run the government like a business, given that his personal style of free enterprise involves a surprising level of bribery, fraud, and bankruptcy.
Gutting companies and leaving banks and investors holding the bag may be acceptable behavior for a reviled supervillain, but I'm not convinced it's the best strategy to achieve peace, prosperity, and the potential for happiness, our ostensible shared goals as Americans — regardless of political affiliation.
Luckily, there are elected officials out there operating in the best interests of their constituents. You’re just not likely to find them at the federal level, and in fact expecting effectiveness at the highest levels, given the size, complexity, and variation of our country, is maybe a touch naive. It's the local officials, those in direct contact with the people they serve and the problems they face, where you're more likely to find the actual, practicable sort of idealism and commitment so earnestly trumpeted by presidential candidates and so casually sloughed off once installed in office.
I first met Sheriff Tom Allman exactly where you'd expect a guy like me to encounter a person in his position: in his jail. He was making the rounds one day, and I took in the star-bedecked collar and crisply starched uniform, the authoritative mustache, and commanding demeanor as he entered the pod like Eisenhower inspecting the troops, complete with aides-de-camp, and thought: self-important posturing stuffed shirt. But he stopped and appeared to listen attentively when addressed by inmates, even taking notes. Well, okay, I thought. He has the politician's gift for making people feel as if he cares about their concerns. Surely no sheriff gives fuck one about what's troubling the inmate population. Then, later, I saw specific issues actually being addressed. I tried it myself and sure enough, my request was dealt with promptly and efficiently. The last time I asked a politician for anything was in 1973 when Gary Hart, then running for the senate in Colorado, asked me what I would change about the country. "Legal marijuana," I said, and you see how long that took.
For the past seven-odd years my experience of Sheriff Allman has been through the reportage in the AVA, and he seems to consistently operate with compassion, foresight, intelligence, and integrity.
Mendocino can't be an easy county to police, given its size, rurality, disproportionate meth-fueled social pathology, well-armed weed cowboys, and large numbers of people living off the grid, only tangentially attached to the grid, or either stealing from or actively sabotaging the grid. And yet he perseveres, implementing initiatives you wouldn't expect from a top cop and tackling problems from angles generally ignored by politicians, the ones that lead directly to solutions.
Qualities and abilities like this are rare enough in elected officials that suggesting our sheriff might make a capable and servicable president is not completely insane. I don’t even know what political party he belongs to, and I don’t care. I just know that he would be a vastly superior alternative to the status quo.
A cynic might surmise that I, as a convict preparing to return to society, am simply trying to ingratiate myself to the law enforcement community with my praise. Nope, and I have an issue or two with both the U- and FB-PDs I could air to prove otherwise, but in the clean-slate interest I will refrain. I just recognize excellence when I see it, especially when it exists in stark contrast to such screamingly inept suckitude as currently runs the country.