This is a story about Cambria’s scarecrows, but it includes the behavior of individuals in the national spotlight who have exceled in the art of crowing — as a substitute for veracity — during this nasty, sometimes nonsensical season of presidential politics.
First, to the villainous pilferers who stole Coast Union student Bobby Koster’s scarecrow in San Simeon; who ripped off the kayak from the priest and nuns; and who yanked the gorilla mask off Bob (on his bicycle) in front of the Bluebird Motel.
Shame on you. Please return these stolen items.
Meanwhile our community has said its goodbyes to hundreds of scarecrows that were not molested, stolen or disrespected. They entertained us, laughed at us, even sneered at us and seemed oblivious to us, from sidewalks, storefronts, yards and shrubbery (thanks, Cambria Pines Lodge).
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So here is a sincere thank you to all the people and organizations who constructed scarecrows — often out of whole cloth — and, in particular, here’s a tip of the cap to the folks who didn’t enter their scarecrow into the official ledger, but just created one because it was the cool and inspired Cambria thing to do.
Dry your tears, local folks who adore this annual creative juggernaut, the scarecrow movement will return in October 2016. And for those who complained about the bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go parade of out-of-towner autos clogging up Main Street — you know who you are — lighten up, the crush of cash-carrying rubberneckers is gone.
One thing should be mentioned as we return to normalcy here in our parched seaside hamlet: Not one scarecrow insulted another scarecrow. No lies, threats or gross exaggerations were articulated — at least none came to my attention — by any scarecrow or scarecrow creator.
That is in vivid contrast to the coy innuendos, outright falsehoods, and mean-spirited self-promotional rhetoric I witnessed on Wednesday night, Oct. 28, on the CNBC channel. From a front row chair in my Wilton Street studio — with my neighbor’s scarecrow keeping watch over the neighborhood — I flipped between the World Series and the Republican presidential debate.
And as much as I love baseball — darn those Dodgers for going one-and-done again — I couldn’t tear myself away from the fascinating yet infuriating candidates’ pronouncements.
New York’s self-assured billionaire Donald Trump has dominated media coverage for months with his absurd proposal to deport 11 million immigrants, his offensive attacks on women and President Barack Obama, and his unverified assertions that China, Japan, Mexico and other nations are “ripping us off.”
The pugnacious redhead stood on the debate stage in Boulder, Colo., proclaiming that he is “putting up 100 percent of my own money.” Not true, big guy. Your nose is growing. The Associated Press reports (based on Federal Election Commission data) that of the $3.9 million raised by the Trump campaign in the last fundraising quarter, just $100,000 came from his personal pocket.
What did they say?
Trump wasn’t alone in his dishonesty. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered the television audience — those who weren’t watching the Royals beat the Mets or the NBA’s opening games — a glimpse of his willingness to dip into the waters of falsehood.
Christie claimed FBI Director James Comey said that cops in America are on the defensive because “of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States.” That simply wasn’t close to being true.
The AP later reported that “Comey never mentioned Obama or blamed politicians for failing to support police.” And to Christie’s assertion that Obama doesn’t support police, the AP points out that the president spoke to police chiefs earlier in the week and told them “this country is safer because of your efforts.”
‘Every single policy’
One of the bare-knuckle blasts that is as far from the truth as Caracas is from Cambria came from the mouth of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. “Every single policy [Hillary Clinton] espouses, and every single policy of President Obama, has been demonstrably bad for women,” she gushed.
Do you really mean every single policy? Is advocating for closing the pay gap between men and women “demonstrably bad” for women? Is pushing for affordable child care bad for women? How about advocating for an increase in the minimum wage (62 percent of minimum wage earners are female) — is that demonstrably bad for women?
In truth, what is “demonstrably bad” is the lack of genuineness by candidates like Trump, Christie, and Fiorina. And no, this is not an endorsement of Clinton as a candidate.
It is, however, a farewell to the 2015 edition of the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, and a short list of candidates who should — and likely will — eat some crow this season.
Freelance journalist and Cambria resident John FitzRandolph’s column appears biweekly and is special to The Cambrian. Email him at john fitz44 @gmail .com.