Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Walls

“'Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun...No Collusion.'” @FoxNews That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,....which it was not (but even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s - but it was done correctly by a lawyer and there would not even be a fine. Lawyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me). Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced. WITCH HUNT!"
Let's start with the "smocking gun." A good laugh, since it's mostly a product of early morning thumb typing, but still worth noting that it had to be repeated. This is the social media account of a desperate man. The typos are one thing, but the caps lock identify it as that which should not be protested too much. The whole point of the Meuller Investigation is to find collusion, and with each passing day, it becomes more evident to just about everyone outside of the White House that collusion is exactly what was going on. And as unhappy as he may be about his choice of Michael Cohen as a litigator now, it was the choice he made when he needed a lawyer to pay off a stripper to keep her mouth shut about an affair. Sorry, alleged affair. And the "President" is currently swimming upstream in the river of lies he has created over the years.
"A simple private transaction?" Raise your hand if you have had a lawyer arrange hush money paid to anyone before? There is not anything simple about it. It's the kind of thing mobsters do. Not presidents. The smocking gun? It's right there: "but even if it was." This is burrowing back into the muck and mire that has already been sprayed. If Michael Cohen is trying to get his sentence reduced, it is because he has muck and/or mire to spread on the wheels of justice to help them grind smooth and hopefully, yes, reduce the time he will spend in jail for "making a mistake."
If it gives you the sense of walls closing in, like those in the garbage compactor in Star Wars, you're not alone. However, in Star Wars, there were heroes mixed in with that garbage. Here there is only garbage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Outside The Wall

My grandfather was a mailman. This may explain why I attract the attention of so many dogs as I go on my way. Running or riding past a fence is quite an affront if you happen to be of the canine persuasion. It is their territory and they guard it ferociously. It is their job. That and sleeping in the patch of sun that comes through the trees. I get it.
Our dog, who was as patient and loving as any I have encountered in my travels across the galaxy, still had issues with those who dared make the mistake of walking in front of our house. If you happened to be wearing the uniform of the United States Post Office. So much so that there was a time when she was sitting in her chair, staring out at our front lawn, when she spied a mail carrier approaching her turf. Enraged, she began to bark and paw at the window. With each step that the postman made to the mailbox, our dog became more unhinged. I had just walked into the room when the window broke. For a moment, no one moved. Not me. Not the mailman. Not our dog.
The mailman moved first. He quickly shoved a couple envelopes into our box and moved on. I looked at our dog. She looked at me. With a certain amount of resignation. "Did you just expect me to let that guy come and trifle with our empire?"
She didn't really say that. Dogs don't talk. But I could feel her profound disappointment at being in trouble for doing what came so incredibly naturally. For my part, I was more interested in keeping her from leaping through the shattered glass and continuing her pursuit in whatever shape the shredding and the drop would allow her to. Happily for all concerned, the pause was long enough to keep her inside the house, and though she was still agitated, her focus had shifted.
Which is why I tend not to exacerbate the situation when I run past a dog who is working to protect their masters' domain. I understand that it's nothing personal. It's just a job. It's not an easy job either. There are constant threats to their sovereign territory. It might look like they are simply passing by, but they won't be fooled. They put on a show of teeth and snarls. Don't let that tail fool you. This is for real. Until the sun hits that certain spot on the yard. Then it's time for a break. Vigilance takes a lot of of a pup.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Solidarity

I have no issues telling anyone who will listen that last Friday night, at approximately eight forty-five, I teared up a bit. I was standing right at the edge of the stage watching Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul playing just for me, and I got all misty. Okay, maybe weren't playing just for me, but they sure made it feel that way.
Let me back up: A few months ago, I caught wind of an organization called Teach Rock. Their champion and their muse was none other than Steve Van Zandt. I know. This is where I lose a few people, but if I say "guitarist for the E Street Band," some will come wandering back. Little, Miami, or whatever modifier you put in front of Mister Van Zandt's name, has been singing and playing in support of the teachers of America - for free.
I got to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul for free. From the second row. And got a free T-shirt. I got to hear him and his band rock the Fillmore in San Francisco for two solid hours, and before that, along with a sea of fellow educators, I was treated to a glimpse at what he referred to as "STEAM" curriculum: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. He and his organization have shoehorned Arts back into the equation, encouraging students to find what they love and follow their own path. The message: Don't teach kids what to think. Teach them how to think.
From my own years as a student of music and a student in general, I can remember finding the history in the songs I heard. Procol Harum had a hit with a Bach mashup. And the way math swirled around in all those different beats and rhythms. I spent most of my junior high and high school years doing homework with my headphones on. Listening to music.
So there I was, twenty-plus years into my teaching career, treated to a concert by one of my favorite artists, dancing and singing along. I felt joy. The night, the music, the soul, the sound. Rock and roll was there to save me once again and remind me that I made the right choice, all those years ago. When the show was over, I didn't exactly want to go home, but I did want to take that feeling with me wherever I went. Teachers have power. Music has power. Together they make a difference. Together, teachers make a difference.
I had been making the joke earlier that this was a better perk than the school photo I get for free once a year, but now I see those as souvenirs that I can use as a way to show my commitment to the next generation. Thank you Steven. Thank you for making me feel happy to be a teacher.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Tucker Everlasting

I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him. He’s not going to do that.”
Our "President" “knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things."

These are words that spouted from the head of the usually sycophantic Tucker Carlson. You remember Tucker, don't you? He's the guy who said in 2016,  "There's no reason to elect Donald Trump president. There's literally no reason." 
Which is interesting, since he has spent the last couple of years taking up a position on the conservative side of the television news aisle. Not that all conservatives are supporters of the current resident of the White House. Melania's husband. That guy has taken the words and claims of Mister Carlson and his minions and turned them into fact-based morsels to incite outrage. Like Tucker's segment last August in which he bemoaned that a land-reform policy proposal in South Africa was sparking the murdering of white farmers in that country. The "President" proclaimed, via Twitter, that he had asked his secretary of state to check in on the matter of “farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” The “South African Government,” he added, “is now seizing land from white farmers.’” In case there was any confusion where he got the idea, Trump helpfully tagged his tweet with the verified handles “@TuckerCarlson” and “@FoxNews.” 
I don't expect that the Tuck's most recent tirade will be re-tweeted via the White House. 
It's almost as if Fox News is beginning to separate themselves from the big orange baby before he becomes completely untethered. True, it's not like the friends of Fox and Friends have suddenly turned their back on their favorite viewer, or as if Sean Hannity had made any indication that he would stop sharing lawyers with His Royal Orangeness, but as the release date for that Mueller Report creeps ever closer, who knows what will happen.
Tucker?

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Absence

For many years now it has been suggested to me that I "should take more days off." I am one of those people who has maxed out the number of sick and personal days they can carry on account. I could, potentially, walk out of school one day and not have to look back for several weeks. The theory behind all of this nose-to-the-grindstone foolishness is centered on a somewhat fervent commitment to my employer. I figure if I am being paid by this entity for my services, I should show up and deliver them as agreed.
Exceptions in the past few years have included jury duty and a kidney stone. Aside from that, I have managed to limp into work, or ride my bike in most days, and put in my eight hours. Or ten. Or whatever it happens to take. This kind of tenacious loyalty has been rewarded by a steady move up that salary scale. The same progression available to those who finish the fiscal year with a zero balance in their days off. If there was a cash value for sideways looks earned by telling others what my work attendance has been like over the years, I would currently be retired in style.
Running a bait shop in Key West. This is the alternative at which I tend to arrive when I start to imagine a place to land instead of the front door of my school each morning. I figure that the number of sick days a guy who runs a bait shop would probably be limited, especially in south Florida. And if I did decide not to open up that day, it would be my own business that I would be turning away.
It doesn't work that way with kids. Every day, they're here. Not all of them. Some of them miss a lot more days than I ever will. But when they show up, I want to be there. Because that's my job: being there. Sure, I hope that I can cajole some learning out of them, but when you're seven years old and there's this guy who is there day after day, holding the door open, getting the balls down off the roof, asking the tough questions like, "Did you really kick her on accident?" it starts to feel like a permanent gig.
One that I will continue to show up for until they tell me to stop. Because that's what teachers do.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Age Of Conspiracy

History Lesson:
There was a comedian who once suggested that he had concerns about giving Ronald Reagan access to "the Button," the one that sends our nuclear arsenal into the first act of Armageddon, because "I have an uncle who's seventy and we don't let him use the remote control for the TV." This was later considered by many to be ageist. 
Addendum: 
There was a senator from Alaska who insisted that the Internet is "a series of tubes." Plenty of folks had fun with this meme for a while until apologists decided to make the stretch that maybe Senator Ted was "kind of right." The senator's age and wisdom from all those years in office gave him the gravitas to make these kind of weak generalizations. Al Gore, who invented the Internet, was not available for comment. 
In my own living room: 
My son, on his visits to his ancestral home, will sit down on the couch and shame his mother and father for their lack of bandwidth and set about fussing with settings and modulations before he declares us once again safe for cyber traffic. And just when we believe we have caught up to him on Facebook to thank him, it turns out that he has moved on to some other social media venue that requires setting up an account and logging in. And once we get there, he's gone again. Like vapor.
What I am suggesting:
Technology is for young people. Rudy Guliani, "lawyer" for our "President" hastily made a tweet in which he wrote: "Mueller filed an indictment just as the President left for
http://G-20.In July he indicted the Russians who will never come here just before he left for Helsinki.Either could have been done earlier or later. Out of control!Supervision please?" Because Rudy did not put a space between the period and the "In," he inadvertently generated a hyperlink, which a clever person used to place the message, "Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country." "If you don't believe me, click the link above. This required a conspiracy response from Rudy: Twitter allowed someone to invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message. The same thing-period no space-occurred later and it didn’t happen. Don’t tell me they are not committed cardcarrying anti-Trumpers. Time Magazine also may fit that description. FAIRNESS PLEASE"
The tweet he referenced included the parse “Helsinki.Either” and since .either is not a recognized domain, there was nothing the machine could do but allow the sloppy typing. Rudy Guliani is seventy-four years old. Someone please hide the remote control. 
 July he indicted the Russians who will never come here just before he left for Helsinki.Either could have been done earlier or later. Out of control!Supervision please? 

Friday, December 07, 2018

Rejuvinator

I remember a time when I flinched at the idea of having Arnold Schwarzenegger for a governor. I can remember groaning at his acceptance speech, when he insisted that his administration wasn't just going to "think outside the box, we're going to blow up those boxes." This was an election in California that included such other impressive candidates as former child star Gary Coleman and former porn star Mary Carey. We elected the Governator.
Did I mention Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican? We re-elected him three years later. How did this happen in the bluest of blue states?
Maybe it was the same energy that eventually brought Donald Trump to the Oval Office. Maybe California was test-driving the new reality before it actually hit the market a decade in advance. Or perhaps there was a sense that all those signs - the infidelity, the Humvee, the allegations of groping - were all part of a smokescreen to cover up the tree-hugger inside.
"If we would've never started in that direction and used other technology, we'd be much better off. The biggest evil is fossil fuels: it's coal, it's gasoline, it's the natural gas," he told U.N. climate delegates at a conference in Poland. He said he wishes he could travel back in time like the cyborg he played in The Terminator so he could stop fossil fuels from being used. Schwarzenegger later told The Associated Press he has converted his signature Humvee trucks to run on hydrogen, electricity and biofuel and only allows himself to eat meat three days a week. "I mean, maybe it tastes delicious, but I think we should think then and there before we eat about the world and about the pollution," he said. "So I discontinued eating meat four days a week. And eventually, maybe we'll go to seven days." What happened to the Governator? There must be some sort of science fiction silliness at work. Did Green Zombies come down and fill his head full of these radical new ideas? Some sort of ecologically safe body swap with a member of the Sierra Club? Or maybe an old dog can learn new tricks, and we should applaud this re-education. We're glad he's back.