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. 

Friday, August 05, 2022

Old Enough To Know Better?

 This past Tuesday, I went into school. Not because I had to, but rather because I knew that the number of times I would be able to get at the various and sundry loose threads that begin to dangle like vines in a rainforest will do nothing but multiply as our official return grows nigh. Can you hook this up? Do you know where those tables went? The fan stopped working in the office. 

None of these things are specifically "my job," but when I started this gig twenty-six years ago, I made a point of remembering where the power strips are located and how to jostle that one door handle to get the closet open. That list has done nothing but grow, and after all these years I have learned to give myself a window to accomplish all the things that swirl around my job description and my reputation as "the guy who knows where/what/how" and so forth. 

On this particular morning, I found myself going up and down ladders, crawling beneath desks and portable classrooms, and retrieving a year's worth of balls that had errantly or precisely been kicked into the gap only accessible by removing a sheet of plywood. On my way down from the roof, where I discovered an additional assortment of playground equipment, I heard my lower back whisper, "Sixty."

Not a crippling or particularly disturbing moment, but I found myself asking the guy who recently finished his sixtieth trip around the sun, "When do you suppose you're going to give this up?' This was a reckoning. One that was probably exacerbated by the recent bout of COVID that swept through my house. My get up and go has yet to get up and leave on its own accord, but I know that it takes a little more planning to throw my energy around these days. I know that I have already lost a step or two, and the bike ride that accompanies my trips to and from my job are now a bit more of a conscious effort than they used to be. Not that I am willing to give up any of these feats of mild exertion. 

I'm just noticing it. And the math of sixty serves as a solid reminder of what I have done and seen already. And what lays out there in front of me. Sit down. Have some water. Catch your breath. 

Then back to work. It's turned out to be more true than I ever could have imagined that this is a marathon, not a sprint. That's why I need a little bit of a head-start. 

Thursday, August 04, 2022

The Personal Part Of Jet Packs

 July 31, 2022 was recently recognized as the birthdate of one George Jetson. For those of you uninitiated, George was, or will be, the patriarch of the space age version of The Flintstones, who were the stone age version of The Honeymooners. If you're following all that, then here's the nitty gritty: George Jetson had a flying car. Or will have a flying car. This is why time travel is so ridiculous. It's not the technology, it's the verb tenses. 

This flying car is what is at the core of my disappointment. For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of having a personal mode of transport that would lift me up and carry me over the traffic and the hustle and the bustle of earthbound twentieth century life. I have certainly mentioned it enough here in this blog that there are plenty of you who are past tired of hearing about it. And the personal jetpack. Same thing. 

I get it. 

But it hasn't been until this past week or so that I have begun to consider the folly of these pursuits. The idea of a flying car is integrally connected to the idea of a personal jet. And that notion has recently been under fire for all the right reasons. I confess that in all my fantasies involving my future modes of transportation, I had not considered the effects they might have on the planet that I seem so interested in floating lightly above. If you're a Drake or a Kardashian or a Swift, you may be as tired of hearing about the ecological impact of your private jets as my audience is about hearing me whine about the possibility of finally getting a flying car. But this is where the rubber meets the road, or rather the jet fuel hits the air: How about one ton of carbon for a ten minute flight to Las Vegas? And what if you did that fifty times a year? A hundred? A hundred seventy? 

Well, here's the thing: George Jetson was/is a fictional character. The world in which he lived had these flying saucer shaped cars that zipped around in what appeared to be fundamentally clear skies. That makes sense if there were that many private fictionally powered vehicles flitting about to the grocery store or to the office. But if I have my math right, it seems like we've got about forty years to turn that bit of made up cartoon world science into reality. Otherwise George and his boy Elroy might end up stuck on the ground, foraging for grubs in a dystopian wasteland in the aftermath of the climate Armageddon. Which probably wouldn't be as fun a cartoon, now that I think about it. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Star Date

 Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner shard the first scripted interracial kiss on television. I understand this may raise some eyebrows or tweak some pointed ears with that "scripted" mention, but this actually makes the scene all the more important. In 1968, these two thespians went where no one had gone before on commercial TV. While Shatner's Captain Kirk had certainly made the rounds across the galaxy it wasn't until he laid a big wet one on Lieutenant Uhura in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren" that most of America had seen such a thing. 

It should be noted that the story had these two crew members of the Starship Enterprise locking lips for the entertainment of an alien race who can control others with their minds. The suggestion there being that the ship's captain would never take advantage of his position with one of those under his command. Pretty sure. 

Nichelle Nichols, one half of that society-shifting kiss so long ago, passed away this past weekend. She joins so many of her cast and crew members in the great beyond, leaving William Shatner and George Takei to squabble with one another here on Earth. She leaves behind not just the legacy of her groundbreaking role as one of the first African American actors to be featured on a weekly TV series, but decades of work after that to bring more women and people of color to join NASA. She helped bring about the reality of the fantasy she helped pioneer. It was a discussion with Martin Luther King Jr., a fan of Star Trek, When she suggested to Dr. King that she was contemplating leaving the series, he insisted,  'you cannot, you cannot...for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers." And though the Enterprise never finished their initial five year mission to explore strange new worlds, Ms. Nichols managed to ride the zeitgeist into syndication and eventually a series of films that featured her character in ever-more prominent position. 

Astronaut Mae Jemison and comedian Whoopi Goldberg count Nichelle Nichols as their prime inspiration for finding their way to their careers of choice. She paved the way for so many who would boldly go where she had already been. Elon and Jeff never invited her to go for a ride on their spaceships. She didn't need to. She stomped on the Terra as well as the stars, and she will not soon be forgotten. Hailing frequencies to heaven are now open. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Still

 There's still a war going on in Ukraine. While we spend our time mulling over whether or not to commit to our county's mask mandate, and make jokes about our President getting COVID for the second time, there is a war going on in Ukraine. The shooting kind. The killing kind. The dying kind. 

Nearly three hundred civilian casualties over the month of July. Almost nine hundred were injured. This is down considerably from March, when more than three thousand died and more than two thousand were injured. I know, I know. Approximately one hundred Americans die every day from gunfire, so what makes this such a big deal? 

Guns, artillery, rockets. The numbers from Ukraine are all innocent bystanders. Non-combatants. Not that Russia makes any particular distinction in this realm. Russia seems to be content to let the days and weeks go by as the body count climbs. Maybe Russia believes that once the streets and towns are free of Ukrainians, then the Russian flag can be raised and the war will be won. Maybe that is what Russia believes. 

I keep saying "Russia" as if there were some sort of collective or hive mind behind the destruction and death. There isn't. It's pretty much one guy: Vladimir Putin, whose virility and ego seem to be dually invested in this invasion. There hasn't been much in the way of justification for the past few months after starting out with the insistence that Ukraine was full of Nazis who had to be eliminated. Once that was pretty solidly beaten back by common sense and most media affiliates, Vladimir decided to continue as if there was some political or military slight that was being corrected by the continued bombardment of his neighbors. 

I thought about the feeling I get when I walk past the upholstery shop a couple blocks away, the one that burned out in a fire a few months back. Then I tried to imagine what that feeling would be magnified by entire city blocks. And the endless string of funerals for men, women, and children who had the misfortune of living in range. 

And how did Ukraine's president and his wife respond to this continued onslaught? They showed up on the cover of VogueVolodymyr Zelenskyy and Olena Zelenska are pictured together and apart, in and out of the capital, promoting their country and their cause. Some will talk. Some will roll their eyes, but I believe this is exactly how they will survive. They will do what is necessary to keep Ukraine from slipping to the back pages. All is fair in love and fashion, after all. 

Monday, August 01, 2022

Out To See

 Relationship

Friendship

Partnership

No matter what kind of ship you find yourself on

It's important to watch out for rocks

and icebergs

and other ships

Even if you're flying in a starship

watch out for stars

and moons

and discussions that involve home improvement

I've been on this ship long enough 

half my life

I's starting to get my sea legs

I don't mind that feeling

of the ocean beneath me

There are still so many things to see

so many port of call

I want to see them

I want to see them with you.