Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Sunday Feeling

Mr. Hamilton's firewall sprung a leak.  

What was widely conceived to be the unthinkable as little as a year ago has become reality.  Donald Trump, the ruthless businessman, tax deadbeat, Russian sympathizer and relentless self-promoting con artist is the 45th President of the United States.     

I almost don't know what else to say.  

Except this.  Every man that has stood in his shoes discovered something pretty quickly.  Governance is a lot harder than campaigning.  Every President struggles to turn promises made on the stump into policy.  Every one.  Trump will be no different.  Whether he can work with the Congress remains to be seen.  Here's but one example of the kind of disconnects we may safely expect going forward.

The Republicans have had a bug up their patoots from jump street over the Affordable Care Act.  Even though the basic framework was THEIR IDEA!  And so, now that they have majorities in both chambers they are proceeding to, well, do something about it.  And while this is going on Trump declares that everybody will have insurance.  Which wasn't exactly on the script.  Expect his underpaid press secretary to have to issue numerous "what the President meant by that" type of statements in the next 4 years.

While I didn't watch the show, I did read his inaugural address.  As far as I can tell, Donald Trump's America is a virtual dystopia that he promises to rescue and restore to its former greatness.  I don't live in that place.  

There's a thing going around on Facebook that is actually instructive for once.  This particular post reminds of a few facts about January 20th, the day on which Donald Trump was expressing his dark vision of reality.  

Gas was $2.09 a gallon.  The Dow closed at 19,819.  Unemployment stood at 4.7%.  Mark this and mark this well.  

Sure, there are problems.  And to give the devil his due, Trump was able to tap into a large and disaffected segment of the electorate that the Democrats foolishly took for granted.  This is largely why he is the Oval One and Hillary is not. 

But contrary to the portrait painted in his inaugural address, referred to by the known communist George Will as the most dreadful one in history (I'm guessing history of inaugural addresses and not the history of oratory), the United States of America ain't exactly the Weimar Republic.  At least not yet.  And it doesn't need to rescued by a cartoon character straight out of a Nietzschean fever dream.  

I don't live in the place that Trump described yesterday.  And as I type this women all over this country have taken to the streets in peaceful protest against the misogynist that the electoral vote has put in charge.  

Victory remains in love.  Hope and faith may safely abide in righteous anger.  

That's the country I live in.  God Bless the United States of America. We will get through this.

I don't know what else to say.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

My Sunday Feeling

I can't say that I feel old as such.  Or not all that old.  I still work out on a regular basis.  I'm a little heavier than I have been.  But I'm working on it.  I killed the treadmill during my last visit to the cardiologist.  I haven't been sick since,well, I don't recall.  Sometime last Spring.  I don't count my mild recurrent sinus infections as qualifying for "being sick."  

So far so good.  

But last October or so I noticed something. Catholic High is not the most well-lit place.  But I noticed when one of the boys was waving at me from around 30 yards away I couldn't make out his face.  And this is one of the boys I know well.  

That was new.  I started paying attention.  In choir rehearsal, I noticed I couldn't make out the director's face from the stage in the auditorium.  I noticed that it took me longer to walk down stairs or recognize folks behind a windshield.

I didn't think much about it. My yearly visit to the ophthalmologist was coming up.  I figured I needed a new prescription.  Wrong as usual.  In November my 17 year old eye doctor told me I had cataracts.  She told me this after hearing me tell her that I couldn't make out faces in the hall anymore. 

She looked in my left eye.  "Yep."

She looked in my right eye. "And yep. Bilateral cataracts."

"Are you sure?" I asked her in disbelief.

She shrugged.

"You're a little young. But you have cataracts."

I'm not yet a candidate for surgery.  She told me to get prescription sunglasses for golf and driving.  

"See ya in a year," she said while dispensing a hug as we walked down the hall. "Really.  This is going to be OK."

And for the first time in my life I feel old.  Now if this is the worst I get told, and it will not be, I will be lucky.  Especially given the amusing fact that we Bowens tend to have bad tickers.  

But I have never considered-nor have I ever had reason to do so-how limiting even a slight visual impairment can be.  While I can see to drive and read and perform the average tasks of daily life, my depth perception, already rendered tricky by bifocals, is now for shit.  It's a pain to switch from regular glasses to sunglasses. And vice-versa.

Walking on uneven ground and/or going down stairs is kinda scary.  Especially at low light.  Indeed, the other night I walked off a neighbor's porch.  Stone cold sober at 7:30 PM.  In retrospect, I probably would have been more nimble if I had a snootful at the time.  

So I downloaded a flashlight app for my phone.  I now keep a penlight in the car.  All for walking down stairs at night.  

Which is depressing quite frankly.  Why didn't she just issue me a white cane with her farewell hug?

But then I think how much more depressing it would be to have this condition with no medical insurance to pay for the surgery that will be necessary in about a year.  Or sooner if I keep taking dives.  

And yet, the new Republican Congress is hell bent on messing with the 20 million folks out there who get their insurance through the Affordable Care Act.  They are opposed to expanding Medicaid.  They are talking about changes to Medicare which is one of the most popular government programs ever devised.  

Now, rabid partisans though they may be, Trump and the Congress he inherits are not complete fools.  They aren't about to create an instant bloc of pissed off voters.  They know that immediate repeal would be disaster for the economy.  And so this is why some have predicted that the changes to the ACA will be mostly cosmetic in nature.  

But if I got my insurance through Obamacare, I would be nervous.  Because insurance companies are all about managing risk.  And the longer the Congress screws around with this issue the less quantifiable will be the risk.  And insurance companies, except for the more unstable ones, will leave the insurance exchanges in each state.  And Obamacare will collapse under its own weight.  Which is maybe what the Republicans want to happen.  

So yeah.  I'm depressed by the cataracts.  But I would be a lot more depressed if I didn't have insurance.  I would be even more depressed, and angry, if my government was going to take it away from me.

Because it isn't fair.    

It just ain't fair.  

Sunday, January 01, 2017


I know.  Long time. No see.  My last hiatus from blogging took place after my brief tenure in the grove of academe.  Quite frankly, I was tired.  

This last departure?  I don't know.  Well, I do know.  

What I had reposed trust in, that there was no way Donald Trump could be elected President, at least not of the United States, proved to be completely wrong.  My prediction that we would be saved by the Electoral College was 100% backwards.  Hillary clobbered the Orange One in the popular vote.  Mr. Hamilton's firewall against someone with "talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity" delivered us......this.  Hamilton also viewed the Electoral College as a check against foreign adversaries meddling in our elections. 

How quaint.  Then again, cyberwarfare hadn't been invented when they wrote the Constitution.  

Well, we have gone and done it now.  We have put the least qualified candidate in at least MY memory in the control booth.  And I will eagerly await the response of the "swamp drainers" and "lock her up" types when they realize that they have been rolled.  I really do.  

By the way, have you heard a peep from anybody about Benghazi or emails since the election?  Hell no you haven't.  They weren't really crimes, and nobody but the most fervent adherents to the world view of Fox and the Internet thought they were.  But they worked.  That much is beyond a doubt.

So, not that anybody cares, I just went away for awhile.  Took stock of things.  Made an appointment with my investments guy.  Burned my ACLU card.  Became rather inert after things I never thought remotely possible transpired.  

But I'm past that.  I'm back for the new year.  Why not?  Besides, it's humbling to realize just how wrong you can be.  

What about 2017?  I don't make resolutions as such.  But there are some things I want to do.  Assuming, that is, that a random thin-skinned tweet from the Oval Office doesn't start WW III. 

I want to get back to my home improvement projects.  The closets are pretty much cleaned out.  Next step is to reorganize (which implies there was some organization in the first place) my kitchen.  Then on to other tasks.  I'm giving this about a year.  I can do it.  I can even pay for it.  At least I can for now, seeing as how the international banking system hasn't blown up yet.  

I need to go ahead and pull the trigger on buying a car.  I've done some looking and I've seen some things I like.  I just find the passive-aggressive behavior of some car sales persons tedious in the extreme.  You tell them you are unavailable the next couple of days and you hear from them 3 times.  They say the will shoot you some numbers and then crickets.  Mercy.

My banker will be back next week.  I want to get this over with.  So does she.  She's tired of my bitching.  As are many of you.  

I look forward to spending more time with the kids at school.  I really enjoy teaching music and history when I get the chance.  It's better on a part time basis.  I like having the option to leave to go play golf or be a lawyer or something.  Having done it once, I'm not sure I want to do it on a full-time basis.

My little practice of law has picked up.  I broke down and bought malpractice insurance and I will need to get a business permit.  It's a good thing they don't require malpractice insurance for teaching.  My premiums would be through the roof.  But I like practicing law a whole lot better now that I have left the government.  It's nice to not be constantly getting second guessed or writing memos seeking approval to take actions.  I like being my own boss.  But I really miss Sovereign Immunity.  That sure came in handy at times.  

Speaking of hiatus, I'm going to get back to playing and singing again.  I just got too busy last summer and fall to practice.  I plan to make time this year. 

I'm going to hang out in Louisiana more often.  I went twice last year and really enjoyed it.  And I want to go back to the battlefield at Shiloh.  M and I went past it en route to Cleveland, Tennessee last month.  I need to spend a couple of days up there taking pictures.  After I buy a new car.

Speaking of M, she still hasn't come to her senses yet.  She, the kids and I spent 3 days in a cabin in the middle of no friggin' where outside of Chattanooga.  Nobody got killed.  There were a couple of close calls.  But all's well that ends well.   And so far so good.  

I can't say what the future holds although I would be lying if I didn't feel a good bit of apprehension about it.  

But I have my health.  I have my friends and family.  And evidently I have you.  That's a pretty good start if you ask me.

I'm determined to have a good 2017.  I have no control over WW III.