Sunday, January 13, 2019

AWOL

No blogging this weekend while still trying to get over an ear infection from hell.  

Talk amongst yourselves.


Sunday, January 06, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I didn't expect to be blogging this weekend.  I was supposed to be in the Chattanooga area visiting my wife's family.  But I got struck down by an ear infection.  And then I got struck down again by what my 17 year old dermatologist believes was an adverse reaction to amoxicillin, a drug which I have taken without incident for years for sinus infections and upper respiratory stuff.  My lips and tongue swelled up and these attractive red lesions presented themselves around my nose and mouth.  

So here I am sitting on the porch instead of scaring small children in restaurants in Appalachia.

I would rather be up there because if I were up there I would not feel compelled to write about the latest inanity to come out of the mouth of the Winner Of The Electoral College(WOTEC).  But these pearls on his part present teachable moments on mine as I have written in the past.  And so I go forward once again in my capacity as hectoring scold, albeit one who looks as if he has been beaten with a pipe.

As you may have heard most of the civilian workforce of what passes for the United States Government are not on the job as I type.  This is because the House of Representatives, which got defanged in the last election, refuses to appropriate money in the latest spending bill for the building of WOTEC's wall on the southern border.  WOTEC for his part has said that he will not sign any appropriations bill that doesn't include the funding.  And he says that he is prepared for the "shutdown" to last for years.  

I don't much believe this.  That would take some stones.  And Nancy Pelosi's are bigger then his.  A sign that the pressure may be getting to him a little popped up in the media last night and this morning.  

According to a story published in The Hill, during what it described as "an incendiary rant" in a meeting with Congressional leaders Friday WOTEC said that he preferred to refer to the absence from the job of 800,000 souls as a "strike" rather than a furlough.

That's right.  A strike.  

Where to begin?  Focus.  

I know something about employment law.  I clerked for a union law firm when I was in law school.  I represented folks that had been denied unemployment compensation as a Legal Services lawyer.  I represented the government in employment discrimination cases.  I currently represent a small business that occasionally has personnel issues.  

So let's start out with something that I haven't seen anyone else mention.  A strike is an intentional work stoppage by employees as the result of a dispute between employees and the employer, to keep it simple.  

The key?  "Intentional work stoppage" as the result of "a dispute between employees and the employer."

The current brouhaha is the result of a political crisis between the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States Government.  It was not initiated by the workforce.  

It is manifestly not a strike.  Indeed, it is against the law for federal employees to go on strike.  

If anything, the crisis at hand more closely resembles a "lockout" like you see from time to time in professional sports.  The owners declare a "lockout" whenever they can't get a collective bargaining agreement signed by the player's union.  Players don't get paid.  They are not allowed access to team facilities for training and whatnot.  They are "locked out" until the crisis is resolved.

So why would WOTEC refer to the furlough as "a strike" when nothing could be further from the truth?  Any of a number of reasons come to mind.  First of all, WOTEC lies all the time about everything.  Secondly, he is not particularly bright and neither is he well versed in basic literacy about how the government works. And so I suppose it is within the realm of possibility that he truly believes that if workers aren't showing up to their duty stations then they are ipso facto ( I get to say that.  You don't.) "on strike."

Here's what I think.  As I alluded to earlier, I think WOTEC starting to feel a little pressure concerning the furlough crisis that he caused by foolishly doing the bidding of his oracle at FOX/TASS and not signing the Continuing Resolution to fund the government a week or so ago.  WHICH HE HAD AGREED TO SIGN.

He did this so as not to rile up "his base."  Well guess what?  Some members of his base need food assistance.  They are counting on getting tax refunds.  Instead of MAGA trash and human poop is piling up in National Parks because the contractors responsible for janitorial services-guess what?-they can't work either.  

So, as is his typical fashion for taking no responsibility for his actions and in an attempt to deflect attention from the crisis that is of his own making, WOTEC prefers to refer to the furlough as a strike.  And after all, everybody hates unions.  

Except it's not a strike.  It's a political crisis caused by him.  

Thus endeth the lesson.

As I finally feel like getting out for a bit and because I have got the envies for a cheeseburger I may go find a bar, have a couple of drinks and watch football.  The one down the hill is pretty dark.  

Which is good.  I would hate for  the other patrons to think they are sitting next to someone with Hansen's disease.

I am nothing if not considerate.  

   










Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Sunday Feeling

"I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas."

         The Winner of the Electoral College(WOTEC) Christmas Eve on Twitter

No he didn't.  He can't.  

Maybe Trump is just indulging his usual penchant for hyperbole which is a fancy word for lying.  Of which he is setting a record that Stalin would have envied.  

But the only people that can request and/or accept bids on government contracts are Contracting Officers of the United States of America.  Trump is not a CO as they are referred to.  And I know something about this having been in front of the Board of Contract Appeals-a fun bunch presiding over an equally amusing area of the law-three or four times.  

Now, insofar as WOTEC's whoppers go, this is relatively minor.  After all, the AP fact checked (And why do we even refer to it thusly anymore?  Why not "lie check?") his statement and found that CONTRACTING OFFICERS for Homeland Security and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the latter of which really knows what they are doing) had indeed awarded contracts to build a section of a "wall/fence/Star Trek force field/whatever euphemism they are using to make-it-more-palatable-to-the-Democrats-who-are-fixing-to-shut-down-the-party" down there on the border.  So he was at least in spitting distance of verifiable reality.  

But WOTEC has no more legal authority to "give out" contracts than you or I do. Unless Gentle Reader happens to be a Contracting Officer of the United States of America who has stumbled across these chronicles while looking online for the Federal Acquisition Regulations or FARS as us government contract types call them.  To whom I say "welcome."  And "why aren't you furloughed like everybody else?"

Why do I even care?  Certainly, the perfervid types that populate his "base" who mostly reside within the states that thought firing on Fort Sumter was a damn good idea at the time do not.  And so while I think such examples of truth bending on the part of WOTEC present teachable moments, I have no illusion that these words will mean a rat's ass to those that have drunk the Kool-Aid and do not care to know how their government works.  And that saddens me.  

But here's something else for the Trumpers to consider.  There is a damn good chance the Wall hoped for by the xenophobes in that orbit may not get built.  At least not the Hadrian's Wall thing envisioned by those who never heard of Hadrian or his particular wall.  In the first place, and not to overstate the obvious, there is a new sheriff in town January 1.  If WOTEC doesn't get his 5 billion before the Democrats take the Oath, and it looks like he will not, he ain't gonna get it.  Because-and here's another fun fact about how government works, spending bills originate in the House. Which is now awash in blue.

Secondly, and nobody ever seems to think about this very much, but the Government is going to have to acquire title to much of the land upon which the wall would be situated  through its power of Eminent Domain.  Which means litigation with the land owners over what constitutes "just compensation" for the taking of their property.  The 5th Amendment is your friend.  Look it up. And I don't know what the Chief Judges in the Federal Courts presiding over these cases are doing, but Judge Miller here in the Eastern District of Arkansas has stayed all civil cases in our District due to-guess what?-the shutdown.  Wouldn't surprise me if civil cases are stayed in the Courts along the proposed Wall as well. 
Criminal cases must go on because folks charged with criminal have the right to a "speedy trial."  The 6th Amendment is your friend if you are a criminal.  Look it up.

Finally, if there is indeed a just God, which most of the time I feel can be ascertained by coin toss as much as consulting scripture, He or She will smile upon us and ensure that WOTEC is returned to civilian life in 2020 where he can start his own cable news network. When he is not dodging service of process or giving depositions, that is.

And probably going through a divorce if the old adage regarding the scorned wife is still on the books.  

But I think it highly improbable  that the next President, be they Red or Blue is going to be much inclined to throw 5 billion dollars at a mostly symbolic problem.  Especially given the headaches he or she are likely to inherent from the former occupant of the Oval Office.

Monday is New Year's Eve.  For God's sake use some sense out there.  Best to be home before 10 if that late.  The cops will be looking for folks to take downtown.  If you don't believe me there are any of a number of people of my acquaintance that can explain it all for you.  

Seriously.  Be careful.  I'm off to Tennessee for a few days.

See you next year.  













Sunday, December 23, 2018

MY SUNDAY FEELING


" I am proud to shut down the government for border security."

                                                         President Trump.  In front of rolling cameras.


As I type this, we are about 5 hours away from the closure of most of the United States Government of the refusal of Congress to include 5 billion (that's billion with a "B") in funding for a wall on the southern border of the US.  The House, which is made up of a lame duck majority of Republicans, approved the funding and sent it on to the Senate where it is, by all accounts, DOA.  

Which is what Nancy Pelosi precisely warned Trump about in their unintentionally televised meeting in the Oval Office a week or so ago during which he popped off about being willing to take the blame for this current impasse much to the undoubted horror of Mitch McConnell.  

At this point let me tell a story told to me by a friend who knew somebody who worked for Robert F. Kennedy.  

"Bobby always said you didn't have to be smart to be a politician," so the story goes. "But you did have to be able to count." 

Nancy Pelosi and her Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer can count.  The votes for funding for the wall weren't there then.  They aren't there now. Or that's my guess at least as I write this.

Maybe this is why the Winner Of The Electoral College (WOTEC) decided to sign another Continuing Resolution which would have funded the government through February.  Or so he said at the time.  

But after catching hell from FOX/TASS and the likes of the reptilian Ann Coulter WOTEC caved and welshed on his earlier agreement to sign the CR.  And here we are.  "Just In Time For Christmas" as the ads for the season say.

I used to work for Uncle.  I have been through 3 or 4 shutdowns.  I have written about them before.  No need to go back there.  

So here's the larger problem I have.

As far as I can tell, the only "advice" WOTEC pays any mind to is what emanates from FOX/TASS and other right wing media along with polling data from his "base."  Which means the goddamn country is pretty much being run by 30% of the electorate and windbags like Rush Limbaugh.   

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to reduce our military presence in Syria.  There aren't many good reasons to do so without consulting our allies, our military and diplomatic professionals, or the leaders of Congress.  As if this were not sufficient chaos for one Christmastide the government is shut down (I am finishing this up on Saturday). 

Shut down over a wall the Mexicans will not pay one nickel for in the event that it gets built at all.  And let's be clear.  WOTEC campaigned on the promise not just that the wall would be built, but on the preposterous notion that the Mexicans would pay for it.  Shut down over a wall Trump couldn't get full funding for while the Republicans had control of both Houses of Congress.  And now he damn sure knows he won't get it come January when the Democrats take over the House after the ass kicking the Republicans took in the mid-term election.

The game changes for WOTEC in January.  At least in the House where the potential exists for WOTEC's life-and the lives of certain members of his inner circle- to become unpleasant in the extreme.  

And perhaps then, once we get past this latest pique induced national crisis (and we will get past it) we will see who is running this country.

Our elected officials?  Or Sean Hannity? 








Sunday, December 16, 2018

AWOL

I've been a little busier than usual lately.  So no time for blogging.

Talk amongst yourselves.


Sunday, December 09, 2018

My Sunday Feeling

Twitter locked State Senator Jason Rapert out of his account the other day.  And he evidently continued to exist despite no longer having his favorite platform with which to pontificate from Faulkner County.

If there's one thing that sets Rapert off about as badly as gay folks its Muslims, neither of which exist in what could be described as abundance in his District.   Nonetheless, what got Rapert the heave-ho, from Twitter, at least for the time being, were certain comments he put out to the Twitterverse  in which he expressed his alarm over the participation of Muslims in the recent midterm election.

On November 30, he shared an article from something called DC Clothesline which stated that 95% of Muslim voters participated in this year's midterm election.  To which he added, "Do you want them ruling everything in America?"  Then according to KTHV's website he tweeted the following to another Twitter user "If you read this article and don't see real political concerns then you have a problem perceiving news."

As if the foregoing was not sufficiently idiotic, Rapert decided to consult history's immortal scroll, or the section that suits his purpose at least, to respond to someone who criticized him for these views,"[I]t was not a group of Baptists, Jews or Mormons who hijacked planes and killed thousands of innocent people on 9/11/2001-they were all radical Muslims."

Well.

It goes without saying that these statements are irresponsible.  But I'm going to say it anyway.  These statements are irresponsible.  And here's why.  In the first place, you have a Constitutional right to be a Muslim.  Or a Baptist, a Jew or a Mormon to use his examples of "a group" of non-Muslim folks that most assuredly did not fly planes into those buildings on 9/11.  Or you can be nothing at all if you so choose.  Accordingly, your right to vote may not be  conditioned upon your religious persuasion or lack thereof.  As long as you otherwise qualify to cast a ballot, the fact that you are a Scientologist, or a Muslim may not be taken into consideration. It is irrelevant.  

But to Rapert and his ilk, Muslims participating at a high level in participatory democracy raises "real political concerns."  And this is at the heart of voter suppression schemes.  Not election fraud, of which there is precious little, and certainly none on a widespread systemic level.  Not even in Louisiana.  And not the prospect of American courts dishing out Sharia law if the Muslims "take over" either. The fact that the electorate is becoming more diverse and that it resembles crackers like Rapert and me less is the "political concern" that I'm betting is the real driving force behind these paranoid tweets.  

It also goes without saying that Rapert lives in a "context free" zone.  But let's go ahead and apply some to his tendentious "9/11" trope.  Yes, the hijackers were Muslims.  But they, along with Osama bin Laden, were also predominantly Saudis.  Whom we consider an ally.  Albeit one whose Crown Prince has evidently ordered, and thus far has gotten away with, the brutal murder and dismemberment of a journalist that was critical of him.  Is this, or 9/11, representative of Islam?  Of course not.  No more than not hijacking planes is representative of the views of the Southern Baptist Convention.

No more than the guy that shot up the synagogue in Pittsburgh represents white males. Or Christianity.   

And no more than Jason Rapert does come to think of it. And thank God for that.

Of course, Rapert has vowed to appeal Twitter's decision to knock him off the air.  And meanwhile back at the Ledge, a Republican representative filed a bill that would allow legal action against social media companies that "censor" content posted by users.  There being evidently no matters currently more pressing than this in the Lower Chamber.

Maybe I should get a Twitter account.  The more I'm thinking about it the more I'm basically good with suppressing the Scientologist vote.  Mine is a voice that needs to be heard.  Which makes me a megalomaniac.

And also makes me a hypocrite I suppose.  Good deal.  I will fit right in.












Saturday, December 01, 2018

My Sunday Feeling

My phone buzzed yesterday morning at @2:30 AM.  Since I now have college aged kids in my life (and in my occasional charge) I put on my glasses so I could better see the name of the Regional Detention Center that had awakened me.  

It was not a jail.  It was the New York Times service I subscribe to informing me of the passing of George H. W. Bush.  He was the 41st President of the United States and the father of the 43rd. He was 94 and had been in poor health for some time.  

I was a young lawyer in my thirties when Bush was sworn in.  This being prior to the Internet  (as I recall) I had a small TV that I brought to the office so we could watch the inauguration in the conference room.  I had no particular use for his predecessor in office who he served as VP and so I had very little use for him.  

Further, Bush (or his minions such as Lee Atwater) had run an absolutely filthy and racist campaign against Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. About whom, it occurs to me, little has been heard about since.  I do not know if he is still alive even.  Has anyone ever slipped into irrelevance as quickly as he?

OK.  Maybe Ross Perot.  But I digress.  

I did not hold out much hope for the presidency of a man who sold out like that. Even one who spoke of "a thousand points of light" in that inaugural address that we watched in the conference room.

And in retrospect I was mostly wrong.  Indeed, 41 is positively Lincolnesque in comparison to the historical aberration that currently infects the Oval Office.  

As I reflect on his life and career, the words "decency, humility and devotion to duty" came to mind and I wrote them on my scratch pad.  He was a decorated Navy flier, the last President who actually served in combat.  He understood war.  And he resisted those who urged him to chase Saddam into Iraq after the coalition of 35 countries he put together expelled Iraq from Kuwait.  

His bone-headed son would have done well to ask his father why he stopped at the border.  But I'm guessing here that 43 didn't want to know.  Or that Dick Cheney wouldn't let him ask the question.  

Bush should have been able to ride his wartime popularity into a second term.  But a skilled young governor from Arkansas hung Ronald Reagan's economy around his neck.  And George Herbert Walker Bush was turned out by the voters.  

Our presidents tend to look better to us over time and in the rear view mirror.  Even Nixon is credited with opening the door to China and in creating the Environmental Protection Agency.  I think Bush will be remembered for those attributes that I scraped on the paper.  Even if for no other reason than he was not trying to build a hotel in Kuwait City when he went after Saddam.  

Here's another reason that I came to like George Bush.  SNL's Dana Carvey spent the 4 years of the Bush Administration doing a spot-on impression of 41 as a high church patrician goofball.  Bush thought it was hilarious.  So much so, he invited Carvey to perform at the White House.  You can tell a lot about a man if he can laugh at himself.

Could you imagine President Heel Spurs inviting Alec Baldwin over?  

Rest in Peace Mr. Bush.  And thank you.