Friday, August 12, 2022

Probably Cause

 A screeching head on Faux News insisted that "the left is laughing." He made this insistence just after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Mar-A-Lago, the home of one (checks notes) Barron Trump. And his father. As someone who has parked himself pretty far to the left for all these years, I have to say that I did chuckle when I heard the news. I also flinched a little when I heard those from the other side of the spectrum insisting that this was "unprecedented." Well, for the record, we "unpresidented" this guy twice. And yet he continues to insist that he's still the president, and he wants to run again. 

So, here's how this whole thing unravels, yarn-ball-wise: The perception for most of us is that, when you start ignoring subpoenas from Congress and insisting in the same fluid motion that you have "nothing to hide," it starts to raise more questions. When you haul off cartons of documents from the White House just after you had been accused of leading an insurrection of the government you used to lead, it raises some questions.  When the former gameshow host and twice-impeached "president" decries this raid by referencing Watergate, it raises some questions. Like, "which side does this guy think he's on in this analogy?"

Even if the only thing the FBI is investigating is the tax shelter 45 set up for himself by burying his ex-wife on one of his golf courses, why would anyone continue to see this squishy orange bowling pin of a man as a victim? Crybaby? Maybe. Victim? Nope. The line of people who have been victimized by this man starts over there and stretches for miles and miles. There is a way in which bad behavior can be passed off as everyone else's fault until you realize that all of those being accused have their own stories to tell. The outrage stoked by conservative pundits about how the FBI is going after this former "president" has obscured the reality of the fact that the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray,  was appointed in 2017 by (checks notes) Donald J. Trump. 

The parade of former Trump employees who would like to have a word with prosecutors continues to grow. The awkward and often shameful way that business was done in the White House from 2016 to 2020 will now be a series of discussions and discoveries. Rumors and whispers will now be amplified and brought out into the light. 

And if anyone's laughing, it's from a sense of relief. Those who have and seem to want to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big orange baby are calling it "weaponized politicization." Which is pretty rich considering how solidly the powers that were ran over the Constitution back when they were racking up indictments like no previous administration in history. 

A long time ago, Al Capone finally went to jail. Not for murder or bank robbery or anything particularly nefarious. They finally caught up to him on charges of tax evasion. Sooner or later, the gangster life catches up to you. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Summer Reruns

 Getting excited about Joe Biden is like getting all worked up about a rerun of Friends. Completely serviceable situation comedy, but wasn't that twenty years ago? Certainly given the alternative of watching all fifteen episodes of Townies, Ross, Rachel and the gang seem like a completely worthwhile choice for your viewing pleasure. The same can be said of President Joe, who came to us primarily as the "Not Trump" selection in the 2020 election. As we creep toward the halfway point in Biden's first term, I believe it's important to point out that this is a guy who was never even offered a "honeymoon period." Pinheads were crawling over the scaffolds being set up for his inauguration the week before he was sworn in to keep that moment from happening. Two years later, there are far too many Americans arguing about whether or not Joe Biden is really president than what sort of president he really is. 

This past week, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Plan, designed to combat climate change, address health care costs and raise taxes on large corporations. It was a fight that came down to Joe's Vice President casting the deciding vote to break the tie. With all this thoughtful work going on in the midst of a marathon session, there were still Republicans who managed to pull out a provision that would have capped the price of insulin at thirty-five dollars a month for those covered under private health care plans. Much like the ban on assault weapons that is making its way to the Senate after squeaking its way to passage in the House of Representatives, what sounds and feels like common sense measures designed for the good of all Americans, this administration has faced opposition from the moment the smoke cleared on January 6 and they moved into the Oval Office. 

Gas prices, which had flirted with six dollars a gallon have fallen steadily over the past seven weeks, and the wags will now hoot about how that's too much too fast after spending the early part of the summer complaining about how the president wasn't doing enough. Which is sort of how things have been for President Joe. There is no way for him to show up as anything but the antithesis of the guy who came before him. Just by showing up and being reasonable, or showing thought in his choices in decisions, he is a stark contrast to the former gameshow host who was impeached not once, but twice. 

The real trouble here is that the gulf between Democrat and Republican has always been pretty wide, but that between thought and lack thereof has become frightening over the past decade. Tiny minds scurry about the halls of Congress, making things ever more difficult to pass meaningful legislation because making noise is ever so much more entertaining than trying to make a change for the better. And yet, President Joe continues to show up and do the job for which he was elected. He may not be Chandler Bing, but at least he's not Sheriff Lobo

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Come And Go

 Birthdays come 

and birthdays go

It's time to turn the page

add another candle

Or maybe not

smoke alarms, don'tcha know

All that talk about

fine wine and cheese

So very many things

get better with age

Not being able to hear

and see everything

This might be one of those

blessings and not a curse

Today is the day we celebrate

another opportunity

Another opportunity 

to spend the day with you

Until the twelfth of never

we still have a while

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Hunting And Gathering

 I have had a lot of people tell me that I should give up cable TV and surrender tot he inevitability of streaming services. I continue to argue that without the ability to channel surf, my life would be a desolate wasteland of meaningless interaction with technology and media. And here's why:

I was climbing out of the shower a few days ago, and suddenly I found myself missing KFOG. If you don't recognize the call letters, it was the Bay Area's "rock station." If you don't know what call letters are, that's okay. If you don't know what radio is, then this next bit will become a bit convoluted. To say that I enjoy being programmed for is a bit of an overstatement. I am always pleased when I stumble on a group of sounds that remind me of music that I would have played for myself. KFOG used to do that for me. And every so often, they would slide in a something that would expand my horizons. And maybe even my CD collection. If you don't know what a CD collection is, well, this discussion is kind of going nowhere. 

But still I persist: Having a service that would supply me with a "stream" of music that I love, sprinkled with the occasional surprise, was a wonderful boost for my aesthetic self-esteem. "Hey, I like that. I wonder what comes next?" 

This is what broadcast TV offers me. Programming is one thing, but the chance of seeing or hearing that old friend provides me a very central joy. TV shows and movies operate in my mind very much like music does for most people. Like a favorite song, you can hear it over and over. You might even sing along. Like I do every time Animal House comes on. Much to the chagrin of those around me, especially my eternally patient wife. 

Do I know that I could choose to dial up some computer server somewhere and have them send me over a little Delta Tau Chi whenever I felt the need to recite the script with accompaniment? Yes, I know that. I own the DVD. I could slap that bad boy in our 4K player and have it on a great big screen with just a push of a button or two. Pause, rewind, over and over again. But this is not the same experience for me as flipping around the dial, finding nothing but home improvement shows until -

There it is. No more flipping. I am safe for a little under two hours. Then the hunt will begin all over again. 

Which is how I like it. Finding my favorite shows, songs and movies is part of the entertainment process. 

For me. 

Monday, August 08, 2022

Dick Talk


"In our nation's 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn't lie to his supporters. He lost his election, and he lost big. I know it. He knows it. And deep down, I think most Republicans know it."

Let's be honest: Most sentient beings know it. The trouble is getting past that brainwashing protocol that continues to keep so many Republicans believing that their once upon a time leader might still be their now leader. Seventy percent of Republicans, as of this June, say they don’t think Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of  the 2020 election. We could shorten that account by saying that seventy percent of Republicans don't think. 

Meanwhile we have to deal with this: The words that began this entry were those of one Dick "Dick" Cheney. If you've been stopping by this blog for more than a few years, you might remember "Dick" as a character in the tragedy that was the administration of one George W. Bush. "Dick" was his vice president. So much so that a movie was made about "Dick's" tenure called Vice. It was not the most flattering portrait of an elected official. 

Then again, who really elects a vice president? 

Which brings us back to the discussion of one Donald Trump. "Dick's" daughter Liz is on the leading edge of the January 6th Committee, the one tasked with uncovering just exactly how culpable the former gameshow host and twice impeached "president" is for the insurrection that occurred after he unleashed The Big Lie. To that point, "Dick" continues, "Lynne and I are so proud of Liz for standing up for the truth, doing what's right, honoring her oath to the Constitution when so many in our party are too scared to do so." Coming from a guy who played pretty fast and loose with the Constitution himself, this gives you an idea of just how deep into shark infested waters we have drifted. 

I (hacks into tissue) excuse me, agree with the words of Dick "Dick" Cheney. God help us all. 

Sunday, August 07, 2022

The Real Winners Of The InfoWars

 He who has himself as a lawyer has a fool for a client. This adage is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, a very wise man. It could be that in his years before freeing slaves and getting shot in the head, he was an attorney looking for a way to drum up business. That would make a pretty good billboard. Don't be a fool! Call 1-800-TALKTOABE. Of course all those perspective clients would have had to wait for the invention of the telephone.

Which is not the excuse for Alex Jones. The blustering blister behind InfoWars did not, in fact, choose to represent himself in the penalty phase of the trial in which the amount that the conspiracy monger will have to pay Sandy Hook parents. He picked F. Andino Reynal. The F in this case may stand for "fool," because he's the genius who handed over a digital copy of all of Mister Jones' texts to the parents' counsel. Two weeks ago. Which was just enough time for the man who lies professionally to spin some new deceit regarding what he did and did not say via text over the past two years. Awful Alex insisted that he did not have any texts on his phone regarding Sandy Hook. According to the phone records, this was a lie. The phone records handed over by his own attorney. Causing a red-faced Jones to respond, "This is your Perry Mason moment."

Except Perry Mason, television's epitome of clever justice, tended to be matched up with Hamilton Burger, a Los Angeles District Attorney who was pretty good in his own right, but never quite a match for Perry. F. Andino Reynal doesn't seem prepared to carry Burger's briefcase. Even though F's LinkedIn profile insists "He specializes in innovative litigation, conflict resolution, internal investigations, and managing accusations of violations of State, federal and international law," One might guess that handing over the contents of his client's cell phone without any strings attached probably doesn't fit the dictionary definition of "innovative." 

I'm not sure, since I never studied law. 

But I have studied irony. And I know it when I see it. If you haven't visited the InfoWars web site lately, you might be as amused as I was to find an ad waiting there promoting a service that will protect your cell phone data. Among other things. But that will do for now. Revenge is a dish best served cold, but perjury can be served at room temperature. 

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Through The Cracks

 As I wandered the hallways of Horace Mann last week, I felt sad. Sad because I know all the tiles and the cracks in them. Sad because knowing where the cracks in the tile are in this school won't probably won't match up with the cracks in the tile in any other school or office in the district. 

I am, for those unfamiliar, a huge fan of ruts. This quarter century of Horace Mann is pretty much the deepest of all the ruts I have been able to generate. Familiarity does not breed contempt in this case, but the fear of having to learn a whole new set of names and places terrifies me. 

I'm a grownup, and I know this is not what we grownups refer to as a "growth mindset." Because I am spoiled. I have become so comfortable with the way things are that I have forgotten that they have not always been this way. If I think back to that first day that I piled onto the school bus that took this brand new teacher with a staff that was made up of half new teachers and half vets, I knew no one. When the first day of school for children arrived, I had to go through another round of strangers. The school building itself felt impossibly large, and finding my way to my own classroom became easier over time. The trip to the men's room came along soon after that. 

Back in those days, I had a key that would let me into one room. My room. If there was anywhere else I needed to go, I had to wait for a custodian or my principal to let me in. 

Now I have a master key. I let other people in. 

Listening to my current principal describe the year ahead of us, with the potential of our school's closure and all the usual stresses and challenges that face an urban elementary school. She told us we need to be strong. We need to be courageous. We need to move forward. And suddenly I was struck by this vision of us all leading our young charges out the front door, whenever that last day is, and out into the world. That's something we have always done. I have always done. What happens after that moment will be different. Maybe I will turn around and go back inside to pack up boxes. Maybe I will go straighten up to prepare for another year in the rut. 

There are plenty of cracks that I have yet to explore.