Sunday, September 29, 2013

Unusual Camping Neighbor

Durango, CO. The reader might have noticed that I have been on a horse kick lately. A cynic would say that this is just a temporary romantic escapist fantasy by somebody who doesn't know what he is talking about. At any rate, it is time to recall the old saying about, 'be careful what you wish for.'

When my kelpie and I came home the other day we found the area taken over by huge horse trailers and their occupants. Some kind of event/competition was taking place nearby. That was good news. 

What wasn't such great news was that I couldn't really go inside my trailer.

The first thing I thought about was what a horseman told me some time ago: "There is such a thing as horse sense, but it's not necessarily the horse that's got it." That would be a pretty tight fit for me and the dog between the action end of the horse and the door. Since I know nothing of the do's and don'ts around horses, it seemed like a good idea to find the horse's owner first, to find a new parking space for their beast.

That happened pretty quickly, and soon I was able to enjoy the competition. Most of the horse-persons were actually women. And I must say that it's kind of fun to watch women riding horses. (ahem)  I'm referring, of course, to their long hair waving romantically in the wind, along with the horse's tail and mane.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up Thinking

It's a challenge to think about choosing a motor vehicle that will keep you happy for years, especially for a full time RVer who pulls a trailer. Last post I inserted a quote from Tocqueville about a historian needing to flip back and forth between top-down and bottom-up thinking. 

I ran across another illustration of this same principle, this time in the milieu of movie-making. The director's job is to make sure the actor understands his character's situation and motivation. But too much talk of that type is not helpful. For instance, in "The Count of Monte Cristo" (circa 2000), director Kevin Reynolds talks about this issue, in his commentary track:

I've been fortunate. I haven't had too many actors that are like that. The main thing I try to do if they start wanting to talk about [a scene] in great generalities is to cut the conversation off.  I say, "We've gotta roll."
And I'll give them a specific note. Somehow they'll process that.  A lot of times, if they want to start talking in generalities, it's because they're terrified. Talking in huge generalities is not going to help. All it's going to do is help them stall for time, which you don't have...
I guess if I had to pick a film-maker who influenced me most, it's probably David Lean. What I loved about his pictures is his ability to take a small personal story and put it against a big panorama.
It seems that this same principle applies to thinking and writing about many topics.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Part II, A Retro-grouch Goes Pickup Truck Shopping

Choosing a motor vehicle is a big part of most people's lives. This is even more true for RVers who tow trailers. But there's a lot more to this decision than picayune "practical" details, which could drown the writer and the reader if they didn't spend some time looking at the big picture. Conversely, if all we did was float along in the clouds of platitudes, hackneyed political theories, and socioeconomic statistics, the situation would become mind-numbing and sterile.

What we need to do is slosh back and forth between the bottoms-up and the top-down approaches. By luck I happened upon a juicy and profound quote by Tocqueville -- yes, Alexis de Tocqueville of "Democracy in America" fame. (I only recommend volume 2.)  But the quote was from another book of his, "The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville," written a couple years after the communistic (and aborted) revolution of 1848, which he experienced first-hand in Paris. (The remainder of that country hardly counts.)
I have come across men of letters, who have written history without taking part in public affairs, and politicians, who have only concerned themselves with producing events without thinking of describing them. I have observed that the first are always inclined to find general causes, whereas the others, living in the midst of disconnected daily facts, are prone to imagine that everything is attributable to particular incidents, and that the wires which they pull are the same that move the world. It is to be presumed that both are equally deceived.

For my part, I detest these absolute systems, which represent all the events of history as depending upon great first causes linked by the chain of fatality, and which, as it were, suppress men from the history of the human race. They seem narrow, to my mind, under their pretence of broadness, and false beneath their air of mathematical exactness. I believe (pace the writers who have invented these sublime theories in order to feed their vanity and facilitate their work) that many important historical facts can only be explained by accidental circumstances, and that many others remain totally inexplicable. 

That is just beautiful. I love that guy. In the case of choosing a new tow vehicle, one can't help but see general societal and political trends manifesting themselves in automotive trends. But the tangible details of motor vehicles count for a lot.

Recent trends in the motor vehicle industry have been both good and bad, like most situations. Next time, let's start off with the good developments. If I had to choose one, it would be anti-lock brakes (ABS) becoming standard equipment across the entire industry, or nearly so.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Scottish Highlands of Colorado

It's easy to miss opportunities in Colorado because it is just too easy to be sucked into the stereotypical postcards, such as an alpine lake at the foot of mountains. Such things are nice of course, but when you've seen 'em, you've seen 'em.

To enjoy landscapes for any length of time you need to branch out into new directions -- something that takes more imagination on your part.  Besides simple laziness, a middle-class traveler has the additional problem that his entire mindset is geared towards being a mass-consumer; and scenery tourism is just one more form of bar-coded  "consumption" to him.

Most people, like me, also need to fight against a complacent surrender to "the medium is the message."  The three-dimensional attractions of the desert (or grasslands or ridgey hills) do not show up so well in a two-dimensional medium like photography.
The reward for this kind of cantankerous independence is a greater appreciation for what is on the western edge of the San Luis Valley. A normal windshield tourist might easily think, "Not bad. But it will never make the front cover of a glossy travel magazine. Therefore I must go to XYZ National Park in order to consume a more upscale brand of scenery."  But a horseman -- or his modern reincarnation, the mountain biker -- will fall in love with this topography. Even more, in a rainy spell, the decomposed granite geology keeps you free of ooze and muck.


One morning Coffee Girl and I were exploring the high BLM valley when I heard the screams of a coyote. Then it sounded like a dog. Can a coyote really be so polyphonous? Why wasn't I willing to consider the possibility of the eerie sounds coming from two separate animals?

The sounds came from fog-enshrouded cliffs. A low ridge in the foreground blocked the view towards the bottom of those cliffs.  But the setting affected me strongly, just as many movie viewers are probably affected by the scene in Rob Roy (1995), when the English soldiers, led by the villain, hunted down Rob Roy and his clan in the foggy highlands of Scotland.

I've hardly known any RVers in my 16 years in this racket who had any interest in bicycling, so the exceptions are worth bragging about. When one RV/cycling friend was taking a cycling tour of Scotland he said that the place would be jammed with tourists if it just didn't have such dreadful weather. Colorado, of all places, has been having Scottish weather the last few weeks. 

It hardly seems possible to feel a connection with Scotland from the vantage point of Colorado BLM hills. There is sagebrush here, not heather. But what matters is what James Boswell called 'the rude grandeur of Nature': the treeless openness, the unpopularity, and the fog.

Travel has changed so much the last couple centuries that you might be interested in what it used to be like. Consider the short and easy-to-read book by Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, free from Gutenberg.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Appreciation of Anything Lies Mostly in its Context

Readers should never trust a blogger who might be on a drug trip. I'm afraid that I was. Normally a really steep mountain bike ride reaches a point where your traction fails before your aerobic capability does. This ride (Saguache, CO) was peculiar in offering such good traction that I could keep going until 'the snot comes out your eyeballs,' as a cycling friend once put it. Hence the psychotropic endorphin drug trip.

Believe it or not, the whole way up (to a radio tower of course) I was rhapsodizing how 'metal detectors are the perfect outdoor sport.' This is not facetious, but it seems like it would be. Metal detectors -- those things that geezers buy from television commercials scheduled at the low-rent-district of the programming day. These are the times when only retirees are watching television. You know, handy-dandy kitchen gadgets and cubic zirconia jewelry. It's really 'Mildred' who was in favor of buying the metal detector. She thought it would be good for old 'Fred,' or at least get him out of the house, where he is in the way of her incessant cleaning.

Of course, the virtues of the metal detector are too numerous to go into (eye-rolling emoticon). But one is very important: the preciousness of the rusted can or bottle cap that are discovered must be seen in the context of what is nearby. That sums up so many types of value, beauty, humor, pleasure, etc. The context provides a comparison, and it is in the comparison where value really lies.

Perhaps this obsession started a couple days earlier when I had been "dumpster diving" in the $5 DVD movie bin at Walmart. What trash most of it was! Then I found Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. Better yet it had a wonderful musical score by Adolf Deutsch. How could such a classic movie coexist in the same garbage dump as the average movie? This torched off an explosion of appreciation in me.

There are two main categories of contrast-with-the-context. We could invoke the language of electrical circuits and call them:

1) Series. A sequence of observations about different things or even the same thing, or 
2) Parallel. Observations are made of different things at the same time.

Playwrights and movie screen writers are good at using type #1 comparisons, in order to make a big impact on the audience. The pleasure of catching a fish is a Type #1 experience. Any kind of outdoorsman or traveler can become quite expert at learning to tolerate temporary unpleasantness in order to intensify the following pleasure. Reaching this stage of "evolution" is necessary if the traveler is ever going to be anything other than a common tourist.

Type #2 comparisons are used by our metal-detecting jock, and by rock-hounds. Somebody walking along a shoreline or a dry-land boundary of any kind experiences the pleasure of Type #2. For instance, I am presently in the rain shadow of the San Juan Mountains. When much of the state was having heavy and deadly rains, I wasn't too bothered by rain.


Recently America became closer than it has in a long time to experiencing a constitutional crisis, if Congress had voted down authorizing the next Middle Eastern War, and if the Executive branch of government had proceeded in defiance of Congress. And then that damn Russky, Putin, came along and ruined the fun.

Under any circumstances, this would have been an interesting confrontation, perhaps of great and lasting historical significance. By pure luck I had been reading some excellent books on the French Revolution.  With this as a context, the possibility of a constitutional crisis seemed real and five times more interesting to me, even though I wasn't carried away with analogies. Conversely the books were made drastically more interesting because of political events.

What matters is that reading those books on the French Revolution awakened me from the slumber of assuming that nothing ever much changes. Oh sure there's a new "crisis" everyday, the gloom-and-doomers lick their chops, and the media sensationalizes the problem. But most of the time, the world muddles through somehow. Things might change, but usually the world pretty much goes on as before.

Since this is the usual course of human events, we forget that every now and then there are big changes -- discontinuities in the flow of history.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A "City Slickers" Style Cattle Drive?

Saguache, CO. What was that noise? Was somebody going through childbirth? Or calf-birth? My herding dog, Coffee Girl, was all excited by the commotion, and rightly so. A cattle drive makes an enormous amount of noise. Whoa baby, here they come now. About a hundred of them.

They missed my dispersed campsite by 50 yards. But that's closer than it's ever been before.

At first I thought it was a ranch family doing an old-fashioned Western cattle drive. But the "boy voices" that I thought I'd "herd", turned out to be adult cowgirls.

Recently I had overheard a conversation between a local and a metropolitan tourist, in a coffee shop. When the tourist left, the local rolled his eyes and said to the other local, "You can always tell a tourist from the shorts." Feeling self-conscious about my tourist status, and not wanting to ruin the authenticity of the experience to the cattlemen, I hid behind rocks and bushes when photographing them.

As it turned out, they were perhaps dressed a little too fancy to be authentic. Maybe they were all the offspring of a multi-millionaire who owns a ranch in Colorado as a nostalgia-thing, or as a trophy property.

Ahh well, that's OK. I'm not criticizing them. I just like observing things closely and trying to explain things, based on that. And why shouldn't I observe closely; coyotes do.

At first it was easy to imagine my Kelpie being "envious" of the four border collies which were "working" the cattle. Presumably that means chasing outlying or straying cattle back towards the center.  But they didn't really appear to be doing that. Clearly though, they were excited by the event.

Horses are rare and almost exotic animals in the post-western West, and few states are as post-western as Colorado. So this was a rare privilege. They are indeed beautiful and romantic creatures, and you don't have to be an affluent 13-year-old girl to feel that way. In fact, they have such large advantages over dogs in this terrain and climate, you almost have to feel sorry for the dogs. Wouldn't you prefer hooves to paws, all-body sweating to mere panting, coyote-proofness to vulnerability, and a large body mass to make you survive snakebite (presumably)?

As always, whenever I see a horse and a dog working together, I like to imagine a mountain biker and a dog as the modern reincarnation of the Western horse culture, just as the 'lone rider of the Plains, circa 1875' was the reincarnation of the knight-errant of the Middle Ages. 

These cattlemen were lucky. If I had been a real tourist from the big city, they would have returned down the road to find me waving a protest sign: "Ban Everything on Public Lands, Except What I Like!"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Finally, "Emergency" Becomes Problem Solving, III

Now that I had overcome the urge to panic and make things worse, it was time for the positive agenda to start: what action should I take to get my RV unstuck off that mountain?

But not quite. There was still one more useless act to perform, but at least it did no harm. I started walking toward the half dozen ranchettes at the top of the mountain, known to me from a recent mountain bike ride. 

It turned out to be too far on foot. So why wasn't I riding the mountain bike? Probably because, in a panicky mood, I thought it would take "too long" to put on my bicycle shorts, and I had to "do something" immediately! Then I walked off to the ranchettes without bothering to put an explanatory note on the van's windshield. (That would have taken "too long", you know.) This act of stupidity just made me more ashamed of blocking the road to any motorist coming up the mountain, behind me.

Once again this other person, personifying Experience, said, "This walk is too long, you screwed up, this isn't helping." So I walked back down the mountain to my RV.

But the physical exercise did some soothing and calming. I straightened the front wheels; dug in front of the wheel that had spun into the road; tried rocking out of there, and almost made it; put rocks on the downside of the wheels; removed heavy 5 gallon water jugs from the van; and got the tow rope out so that it would be ready to go. 

It was amazing to watch "myself." Now this person had become a relentless problem-solver. No real physical breakthrough had occurred, though. Finally I went to the widest part of the road next the my RV and began removing rocks, so that motorists could get by. As each rock was hurled off the mountain, Panic became ancient history.

Recall the quote from William James, borrowed a couple weeks ago. It pertained to breaking bad habits, but I think it applies just as well to turning Panic into problem solving:
The second maxim is, Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up: a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again. 

As Professor Bain says:— "The peculiarity of the moral habits, contradistinguishing them from the intellectual acquisitions, is the presence of two hostile powers, one to be gradually raised into the ascendant over the other. It is necessary above all things, in such a situation, never to lose a battle. Every gain on the wrong side undoes the effect of many conquests on the right. The essential precaution, therefore, is so to regulate the two opposing powers that the one may have a series of uninterrupted successes...
It's funny that neither of these gentlemen used the ratchet wrench as a metaphor. Perhaps the ratchet wrench was not commonly known in their era, at least to a Boston Brahmin and Harvard professor.

I kept busy at these activities for 20 minutes until a pickup truck appeared at the top of the mountain, and headed downward to me. He was a local, and had four-wheel drive. He wanted to put it in reverse to tow me out of there. This made no sense to me. He argued that his reverse gear was lower than first gear. I was calm enough by then to resist arguing with him; he was the hero after all.

The towing worked easily. It was almost an anti-climax. We had a little chat afterwards. I gave him a few bucks, as a token of appreciation. He didn't want to take the money, but I insisted.

Afterwards I developed some deep appreciation for the experience. It's not that we moderns are complete wimps and cry-babies. We just don't get much practice dealing with "emergencies."  If we did, we would start getting good at it, just as our ancestors were.

This brought to mind a quote from Gilbert Murray, The Five Stages of Greek Religion, page 170:
"...throughout antiquity the possibility of all sorts of absurd and atrocious things lay much nearer, and the strain on personal character, and the need for real "wisdom and virtue" was much greater than it is at the present day.  That is one of the causes that make antiquity so general, the strong governments and orderly societies of modern Europe have made it infinitely easier for men of no particular virtue to live a decent life..."
Indeed, we live in climate-controlled comfort, with our government-mandated safety helmets and airbags, and our insurance programs. We live in more safety and comfort than human beings ever have. But, ironically, we are probably more fearful, much to the benefit of the political class. Our characters, our Virtues, have shrunk in the cocoon of security.


There was another profound anthropological satisfaction that grew on me after this experience. How satisfying it was to receive help from another member of my own animal species! It's so easy to see the human race as a noisy nuisance in a metropolitan and over-populated world. "Help" is usually confined to odious bureaucracies. But to feel overjoyed to see a human being is a pleasure we have almost forgotten.

Just think how primal this kind of satisfaction is compared to the almost universally accepted notion of a "natural" experience: looking at useless pretty scenery. This requires you to think of homo sapiens as a part of nature, rather than as the opposite of nature.  The latter is the Manichean pseudo-religion of the metropolitan Greens. It is just the kind of experience we should move towards, as we graduate from our newbie-hood and our glorified tourist status, and start to take traveling seriously as a profession.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Turning an "Emergency" into a Problem to be Solved, II

It was unchivalrous of the reader to leave poor Ol' Boonie on that mountain, in dire need of succor and rescue. Let's see if we can improve on the situation. It's easy to look back on any emergency with a humorous perspective, and even to imagine yourself heroic; nevertheless, at the time, the situation seemed serious and scary, and you probably acted in a bumbling manner.

Spinning out on a dirt/gravel road near the top of a mountain isn't a true emergency in the sense of rolling backwards, jack-knifing, and demolishing your rig. But at first it felt like it. I had never experienced this before. It's so easy for the mind to run away with fearful possibilities and scenarios. To make matters worse, my van and trailer were blocking anybody else from going by. Oh how hateful these fat-ass rigs are! I decided right there and then that my next trailer will be a 6 foot wide cargo trailer, and the next tow vehicle will have the width of a Nissan Frontier or Xterra.

It was acutely embarrassing to block the only route for the half dozen houses at the top of the mountain. This exacerbated a sense of panic. There was no cellphone service right there, so I couldn't call my towing service. (And remember, you must be on a graded county road for the service to owe you help. I'm not sure it was an official county road.) Even if a Tow Truck were there, it couldn't drive around me; it could only push on the back end of the trailer. Would that even work?

I even considered backing down the mountain, at least to a point where I wouldn't be blocking other motorists. Backing down? A yellow light started blinking in the back of my head, because I recognized a pattern of behavior from an emergency or two in the past. This is where it really got interesting. Panic is caused by the Imagination running riot, which makes it your worst enemy; worse than the physical situation itself.

But Imagination is also necessary for Experience to win out over Panic. Somehow you must step outside your own skin, and imagine somebody else -- some pitiful fool who is not your real self -- displaying a pattern of thinking that is trying to make a bad situation worse. Recall the great Truth of Weaver's Ideas Have Consequences: "the apparent does not exhaust the real." It was only my "apparent" self who was stuck on that mountain. My "real" self was a quality, a noun, called Experience.

In our pampered era, we tend to use the term 'emergency' when in fact we are only in a "tricky situation." Most real disasters are actually a sequence of distinct mistakes. In all likelihood, you are still one or two mistakes away from a true disaster. Your all-important mission is to first arrest the downward spiral NOW.

Commenter, George, mentioned the similarity of accident emergencies and medical emergencies. Recall the great aphorism of medical ethics, primum nil nocere, 'first, do no harm.' Until a century ago, just about any medical problem was a scary emergency. It's easy to see why there was tremendous pressure on the physician to "do something."

Stepping outside myself, "I" saw a fool trying to "do something" at all cost, despite not having experience about backing down mountains. Yes, there were pro-s and con-s to backing down, but this other "Self" asserted itself, and said that this was not the time to experiment with a new technique. Happily I resisted the self-fulfilling prophecy of Panic.

This "negative" agenda must succeed first. Recall the old Latin poet's aphorism (Horace) that 'Fleeing vice is the beginning of virtue.' Yes, it's just the beginning. Now it was time to implement a "positive" agenda. That will have to wait for part III.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Photographic Evidence of RV Blogosphere Blarney

We interrupt this story of embarrassing foolishness, and will leave the reader hanging in suspense about whether Ol' Boonie gets off the mountain in one piece. But we'll get back to it next time.

Newbies to the RV blogosphere might be unaware how much silly nonsense they are about to encounter. Most of it is harmless as long as they take it with a grain of salt. Much of it is due to "boondockers", since RV park "campers" are so middle class/suburban/boring that they seldom blog. The blarniest of the blarney-ers are probably van campers, or worse yet, stealth van campers.

The last thing the RV blogosphere needs is one more smelly fool bragging about how he hasn't paid to camp for years because he camps for free (next to railroad tracks) in cities or on public land. Or how he sleeps in the trunk of his Toyota Corolla, together with a week's supply of his own poopies in double garbage bags, and washes himself with Baby-Wipes by "rubbing a little bit here and a little bit there." (And he probably uses the soft and conformable poop-filled garbage bags as a pillow.)

Washing just about anything is pretty much the same. It is a chemo-mechanical process, involving a wet, soapy wash rag, followed by repetitive iterations of oscillatory motion and pressure, followed by hydro-surfacto-expurgation, or in layman's terms, rinsing off with clean water. Most of the water gets consumed by the rinsing process, not by the so-called "washing."  

Nothing could be sillier than pretending to clean yourself by merely redistributing the crud from one place on the body to another place on the body. In other words, the process of cleaning yourself (or anything else in the world) is about excrudescence rather than recrudescence.

For doubters, notice the daily excrudescence resulting from a two hour mountain bike ride, without blowing dust, and without crisco-ing up in sunscreen or bug goop:

Good grief, it looks like something you'd drain out of an old automobile engine or its radiator. I rest my  case. Notice how this navy shower only used 0.7 gallons.

So what is it about van campers or weekend campers that causes them to underestimate the hygienic and salubrious effects of a navy shower? Is it perhaps that they just sit around in their rigs most of the time, and have no positive sense of what the Good Life Outdoors consists of? It consists of walking, observing, bicycling, fly fishing, doggie sports, rock-hounding, horse riding, etc. It doesn't consist of sitting in the van and watching satellite television all day, while boasting about how cheap they are. The latter is the only lifestyle that lends itself to cleaning up with baby wipes.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sometimes an "Emergency" Can Just Be a Problem to Solve

Most of us have had an automobile accident or two. I'll bet you've launched into a retelling of the accident, only to notice that your audience has started fidgeting, has lost eye contact with you, and then changed the subject.

Why is that? Lack of empathy on their part? Poor listening skills, short attention spans? Or was the story teller too animated and self-absorbed?

In either case, I haven't had an accident; but I did manage to spin out and lose traction near the top of a mountain in the Gunnison CO area; it was the first time in 16 years, and with two wheel drive, that's not a bad record. Now the question is, can I write about it with more efficacy than is typical in "horror stories."

This wasn't a reckless stunt. I had probed the slope the day before on my mountain bike, and had let out half the air in the rear (drive) tires of the tow vehicle. And there was good motivation: the most scenic dispersed campsite in years, and with two Verizon towers lighting up the mountain.

I managed to get over 95% of it. Then one of the drive wheels started spinning, which instantly produced a hole. At that point you're sunk. (Why don't all two wheel vehicles have limited slip differentials? The option only costs $300-400.)

Ahh dear, I can't wait to replace my old tow vehicle with one as new as model years 2010 or 2011, because they all have Traction-Control as standard equipment, even at the low trim level.

And then it started happening. Frustration turned into mild panic. How do you get out of a mess like this? Next time I'll try to educe general principles of more use to the reader. I haven't accomplished as much as desired when it comes to the balancing act of:
  1. Avoiding a too detailed, too personal, and self-absorbed description of a "horror story," (while the reader sniffs boasting), or
  2. Avoiding too general or dogmatic platitudes about risk and panic.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stay Optimistic About the Syrian War

As you follow the operations of the Media, the Congress, and the Imperial Presidency, it is easy to get disgusted and ruin your day feeling sour about the future of what's left of the American Republic. Do yourself a favor and resist the doom and gloom.

The faster the hateful amerikan Empire breaks down, the sooner something better might replace it. It took over 400 years for somebody to sack imperial Rome, starting the clock from the time of Augustus. For the sake of argument, let's say that the British Empire collapsed when Indian and Pakistan gained their independence. We could date the end of the French Empire in the early 1960s, when Algeria gained independence. In either case, it took these two empires 200 years to collapse.

The amerikan Empire didn't start until the end of World War II, so it isn't even 70 years old. The good news is that it is making great progress in destroying itself. We should all wish It continued success.

But it is easy to forget the long-term optimistic trends while focussing on the short-term doom and gloom. For instance you can draw a long face over the amerikan Caesar making it clear that He/She didn't really need Congress's approval to wage war against Syria. Caesar is only going in front of Congress now to spread the ownership and blame, and because He/She expects to get that approval, unlike the British non-Caesar.

Indeed, I'm willing to bet that Congress will give this approval. After all, the amerikan Caesar will get support from most Democrats because they don't want to see one of theirs keep ratcheting downward throughout His/Her second term. Benghazi, the IRS scandal, NSA spying on all Americans, deferred ObamaCare... Imagine what defeat at the hands of Congress would do to His/Her prestige!?

There is an opportunity for the Republicans to gain from the unpopularity of a Syrian War, but they are too stoopid to use that opportunity. They are hopelessly addicted to endless War, and to open-ended militarism in amerikan society. Therefore the President will get the unrequired approval.

This is evidence that the Republican party is going the way of the Whigs circa 1850 and the Federalists circa 1800. This is a huge breakthrough because it means that amerika will soon be a one party system, like california has been for the last 30 years. Bankruptcy and economic ruin will be the Empire's well-deserved fate.

Who knows how much damage the Syrian War will do to the Empire. But let's keep being optimistic and think long-term.