Sunday, December 22, 2019


The  kids are home.  The tree is up,  The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

And the last check I wrote cleared the bank.

Time to take a break from blogging and concentrate on what is important this holiday season.

Mainly that the temperatures next week are going to be in the sixties.  Which means I can play golf at least 2-3 times.  I’m not likely to hear “The Little Drummer Boy” a single time while looking for my tee shot in the rough.  And that’s important to me.

Have a good one yourself however you choose to endure Christmas and I will see you next year.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

It will be up to history to judge the present moment.  

The House Judiciary Committee has referred two Articles of Impeachment to the full House.  The Committee vote was strictly upon party lines.  The vote by the full House of Representatives on whether to refer the Articles to the Senate for trial will likewise be along party lines.  It is expected to pass.  

Then what?  

Then Trump will skate.  Period.  Unless he shoots RBG between now and the Senate trial there is no other conceivable outcome.  And I'm not sure even that would be enough for the Rs to turn on him. 

The last thing that I read on the issue had the head "juror", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that he is working with the White House on how the "trial" in the Senate should unfold.  There is a good chance that there won't even be a trial.  He may just call for a vote of acquittal and let it go at that.

Many people are outraged by this.  I'm not.  I lost the capacity for that long ago.  The outcome was never in doubt even as the House began work on these issues shortly after the whistleblower made his or her report concerning Trump conditioning foreign aid to the Ukraine upon a "favor."  Said favor being the announcement of an investigation by them into  Joe and Hunter Biden, the former being a political rival.  The latter being a millstone around the rival's neck.

So why go through the time and expense of the opposite of a show trial in which the Republicans fail to present any exculpatory evidence and acquit anyway?  

Don't get me wrong.  I don't blame the Democrats for getting the ball rolling.  What else were they to do?  A good friend of mine was arguing for this over a year ago.  His position was even though the Republicans would never convict, much less remove, the President it was the duty of the House under the Constitution to refer Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.  He felt that the Republicans would own the judgment of history.

Well my buddy's position is about to get tested.  Big time.  

That must explain all of the telephone calls I've been getting lately.  I never pick up a call if I don't recognize the number.  I've had a dozen or so calls, some back-to-back, in the past week or so.  They never left a voice mail.  

A couple of folks at school have had the same experience.  They told me that the callers were all pollsters.  And sure enough one of them texted me in order to let me know they had been trying to call me and would I answer some questions by text?


Fingers are being thrust up into the wind.  There's money being spent because there's money to be made.  God bless.  Leave me out of it.

But back to the circus that is about to occur next Wednesday.  It occurs to me that the House has another option, even after the Senate springs the Dear Leader.  The House can still censure him.  And there's not a damn thing the Senate could do about it.  Granted censure doesn’t mean much legally. And a later House can reverse it.  But, assuming that Trump is again the standard bearer of the GOP and Fox News, which is a good assumption, their candidate  for the Oval Office would be only the second President in history to have been censured by a House of Congress.  

The Dear Leader talks and tweets tough but he has skin of rice paper.  I mean, c’mon. He can't stand the notion that Time Magazine put a climate activist that happens to be a 16 year old girl on its cover as "Person of the Year."  Imagine how much he is going to like having to carry the brand of the "scarlet C" on his undying resume?

But this would merely be a "fact."  And if we have learned anything since 2016 it's that facts don't much matter anymore at this point in time. That and some people are incapable of shame.  Maybe that will change but I do not hold out much hope of that.  At least not in the short term.

That's why it is up to history to judge this present moment.  Because maybe someday facts will matter once again.  

Sunday, December 08, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

It happens this time of year every year.  

I was walking across the parking lot of my local grocery store when I was approached by street person.  Or a woman impersonating one.  

Her fists were balled up in front of her face.  

"I need help!" she yelled. "I've been turned down by the VA!"

Pretty aggressive.  And most likely untrue.  It is my privilege to render legal assistance to veterans at the VA legal clinic every month.  Not many veterans are flat out "turned down." Whatever that means.

I muttered an apology and moved on.

Did I feel badly for her?  Of course I did.  But as I have said before I don't give money to panhandlers.  The majority of them will take your donation and drink it up or smoke it up.  Besides, it is inefficient.  Any charitable organization dedicated to the homeless that you can think of can make wiser use of a dollar then a guy on the street.  

The Deacon and I differ in this regard.  Then again, she is a better person than I am.  And she has dedicated her ministry to homeless people.  Every Wednesday and Sunday she goes downtown to a converted storefront where CANVAS, a United Methodist outreach to the homeless, holds church services.  They also feed folks, provide clothes and other services. And every time I go over there I give them money.  I have no doubt that it is used wisely and efficiently.

The Deacon is more apt to give a panhandler money.  That's OK.  As one of her fellow Methodist preachers who does the same told me that what the panhandler does with the money he is given is between him and God.   Which I guess is the right way to think of these matters.

But I won't do it.  

It's not that my heart is made of stone.  I contribute my fair share to charity.  I do a lot of pro bono work for Legal Aid type organizations. I am a sucker for a hard luck story.  Once I check it out and find out that it is a true story.  And I do check them out.  Every one. Sometimes I get lied to.  You would be surprised.  In any event, that seems like a better use of my time and resources.  

The Deacon sees my point.  She doesn't agree with it but she sees it.  And she is the sort of person that, if she at least sees a point to a particular position that she disagrees with, is liable to let it rest. This is part of the lubrication for the finely tuned engine that is our marriage. 

But while tis the season for holiday cheer and all of that, it is also the season for porch thieves and con artists.  During the first week of the Advent season I have gotten 2 voice mails warning of my imminent arrest "by the magistrate" based on my "fraudulent activity."  I have gotten one Nigerian email.  And yesterday a panhandler got in my face.  

I don't have an answer to the problem of genuine want and poverty. Neither do you. And neither do the good folks at CANVAS, Catholic Social Services or Our House, just to name a few organizations off the top of my head that are knee deep in these issues.

But may God bless and keep all of  these organizations comprised of people like the Deacon that are truly doing the Work of the Lord against overwhelming odds.     

They say you can't throw money at a problem.  I say go ahead throw money at these or another favorite charity.  Trust me.  They will spend it wisely.  

And you will know where your money is going.  Unlike if you give your credit card number over the phone to the guy that says that "the magistrate" is after your ass this Holiday season.  

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Not In The Mood

In the last 10 days I have attended 2 visitations, a graveside service and a memorial service.  And I have another one in a week.  

Not to make too much of it.  After all, it's not like I had to charge a machine gun nest.  Or that I was the honoree at any of these events.  But my brain is tired. 

 I have work to do.  Work that pays money even.  And the Saints are on.

So I'm taking the day off.  

Talk amongst yourselves.  And be careful. 


Sunday, November 17, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I don't know why I continue to get waylaid occasionally by news of a death.  It's not like I don't well know that none of us are immortal.  Although it is true that Earl "Uncle Earl" Long famously used to address the possibility of his post mortem with the phrase "when I die, if I die," all of us know better.  And I suspect Uncle Earl did too.

I was in Conway watching a Hendrix football game when I got the news that my friend and mentor John Churchill died last night.  The only way that setting could have been more perfect was if the Warriors had been playing Rhodes. Because that's where John played back when it was Southwestern of Memphis.  And he played pretty well as he made the "Little All-American" team as it was called back then.

He arrived at the Philosophy Department when I was a Junior.  He was handsome, burly and loud with a laugh that could be heard in the adjacent county.  He didn't so much lecture as he imposed the force of his personality onto the classroom.  If anybody was a natural born teacher it was John Churchill.  I can see him now writing stuff on the board at 90 miles an hour with his back to the class yelling about the stuff that was going up.  He would then face the class and poke the chalkboard behind him for emphasis while his glasses slid down his nose.

Boy he was something.   

But even though he was nine kinds of brilliant as any expert on Wittgenstein would be, he was no egghead.  We watched many a basketball game together and sometimes late in the afternoon we would shoot the bull about sports in his office instead of discussing my academic progress as any other advisor would have done.

He became my faculty advisor when I busted out of music.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I tried to keep the beloved voice teacher Harold Thompson as my advisor because Harold didn't give a shit.  But Dean Raymond caught on eventually and sent me over to the Philosophy and Religion department, which was, after all, the acreage I was treading in the Grove of Academe.   

John's major contribution to my education was suggesting that I take more history courses after I decided that I was going to law school instead of seminary.  He had a hand in that decision as well because it was he who introduced me to David Hume.  Who raised far more damn good questions than damn good answers.  And so off to the law I fled where hypocrisy is more easily overlooked.  

John left Hendrix, as I recall, to become the Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa which is a pretty sweet gig.  He held that job for the last 20 years or so and retired as Secretary Emeritus of that organization as well as Professor and Dean Emeritus of Hendrix.

My last email conversation with John was in October of last year.  At the risk of inducing a stroke I advised him in writing that I had indeed gotten married.  He wished me much happiness and told me with no small measure of evident pride about his kids and grandchildren.  He told me that he and Jean had retired to Dickson, Tennessee because it was within easy visiting distance for most of his kids.

"I'm working on a book," he wrote. "Wittgenstein and liberal education---also reviewing philosophical books for Choice Magazine.  And reading.  Just plowed through Hardy's major works and now Lawrence Durrell."

He closed with the following:

"Right now I'm sitting on our big patio surrounded by Japanese maples.  We're a couple of miles outside Dickson so it's pretty peaceful.

With warm best wishes,


That sounded like a John Churchill way to retire.  Unlike me who plays golf and hangs out with knuckleheads at Catholic High he read big damn books and wrote high falutin' articles about Wittgenstein.  

I know everybody dies.  That's why life insurance is so expensive.  Death is the one certainty the insurance industry can't quite game.  But there are some departures that catch you unawares or hurt more than others.  This is one of them. If for no other reason than here's more proof that I am no longer the boy that I was when we first encountered each other.  .  

So thank you John for not letting me cut corners, for your kindness to my mother and me when Buck dropped dead, for patiently looking over some of the stuff I used to write for the religion section of the paper and for always being up for a talk about sports.  Oh.  And thank you for not expelling my brother.  That night you called me on the phone was the only time I ever heard you yell.  I don't remember specifically what John had done to raise your ire but I remember Jon Guthrie, the campus minister, was high pissed too. Which I didn't think was even possible.  So thanks again. You were really hot.  

I hope that wherever you are you find yourself surrounded by Japanese maples.  And that you have some large damn tome in your big hands. You are still in my head.  And that's a good thing.  

Warm best wishes,



Sunday, November 10, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I got eyes and I got Facebook.

While I am pretty agnostic about all things Razorback, I follow them mainly because they are the only game in town.  That and nobody around here wants to talk about the Tulane Green Wave or the Hendrix Warriors.  

But I think I can safely say that yesterday's drubbing by the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers was the absolute nadir of Razorback football in my lifetime.  And I have lived long enough to be eligible for Social Security and have watched the Hogs since achieving what passed for sentience during my walk in this life.  

Let me count the ways of despair.  They were clobbered-as in never in the game- by a team in a lower division.  A team with a quarterback they ran off at the controls.  That lost to the effing University of Central Arkansas. At home.  On Senior Day.  If you can find a bright spot-or some sort of context even-please let me know.

They are now 2-8.  I don't think there's much chance of them beating Missouri here in Little Rock on their last game of this miserable season.  There is absolutely zero chance of them losing by less than 30 against LSU down there.  The oddsmakers say "pick 'em" against Open Date next Saturday.

I know.  Wally will grind his ax against the Chancellor of the University and that girl acting AD who snubbed him who hired the soon-to-be unemployed Chad Morris.  But who could have possibly seen this utter disaster coming?  Nobody.  That's who.  

Speaking of Facebook, my feed has been blowing up with calls for Morris's scalp.  Indeed, one of my regular correspondents-one who is not known for flat out making stuff up, which makes him unique in the world of social media,  posted this morning that Morris has been canned.  

As I type this my phone just buzzed.  Traditional news outlet KFSM up in Fayetteville just reported that Morris indeed has been canned thus confirming Facebook.  A first.

Assuming this is true, and I have no reason not to believe it, what now?

Who is going to take over this raging dumpster fire of a football program?  And here's something else to chew on, sports fans.  Everybody bitches about these long term contracts coaches get and the big fat buyouts they also get when they are canned.  Arkansas now has 2 ex-head football coaches on the payroll.  

What fool would take the Arkansas job without a whole lot of money and security?  

I guess we're fixing to find out one way or another.

News is coming in fast.  "I'll just hang up and listen,"  as the journalists and scholars on "Drive Time Sports" say.

This ought to be interesting.  


Sunday, November 03, 2019

Sick Leave

I am getting over a bad cold and am not in the mood for dispensing wisdom this week.

Other than to remind you to cover your mouth when you cough, wash your hands frequently and "fist bump" rather than shake.

Good luck.   As for me, I may take up smoking seeing as how clean living isn't doing me much good.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

Years ago, I was sitting in a local coffee shop with my friend John.  John was wearing the uniform of the United States Army, having been activated for either a tour of duty in Iraq or because we had invaded Afghanistan.  I don't recall.  A lot of friends and acquaintances wore the uniform on a fairly constant basis in those days.  

He wore a dagger on his belt that was at least 6" long.  I said it looked kind of out of place in a downtown coffee shop.  He shrugged.  Part of the uniform.  He always had to have it on him.  

"FIGMO" they say.  "F*ck it.  Got my orders."

"Let me ask you something," he said.  "Take a look around you."

"Ok," I said. 

After I returned to his gaze, he asked,"Would you say that the folks in here are pretty representative of the population of Little Rock?"

This particular establishment caters to a pretty diverse clientele.  Folks of different races and genders were in there drinking coffee and eating pastries along with John and I.  So I had to agree.

"Of the folks in here, how many do you think have ever been in trouble with the law?"

"Not many," I said.  "Mostly traffic stuff most likely."

"Maybe 5%?"


"Now just imagine if 5% of the entire population of Little Rock decided to riot all at once.  Do you think law enforcement in this county could handle it?"

"Never thought about it.  Probably.  But it would be tough."

"Well, that's what's happening in Iraq.  Government depends on the vast majority of the population being law abiding.  But it doesn't take very many folks to screw things up completely.  That's what I've seen with my own eyes in Iraq."

Which brings me to Rob Blake.  He's an umpire in Major League Baseball who toiled in relative obscurity as should all umpires until last Tuesday when he felt led to tweet, according to ESPN,  that he planned to buy an AR-15 "because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVIL WAR!!! #MAGA2020."

I do hope that Mr. Blake had been drinking when he issued that pronouncement.  But he might not have been.  And who knows how many other folks feel the same way he does?  I personally know one man here in town who predicted civil war if Trump is removed from office.  And that was 2 years ago.  He already owns an AR. And God knows what else. I have since ceased to follow him on Facebook.

Showed him huh?  

Part of the problem, part of the danger, is that we have too much exotic weaponry floating around out there and we may safely deduce that a certain number of the owners of these weapons are semi-unhinged.  

And another part of the problem is that Trump and his defenders are resorting to intemperate language to describe his political problems stating for example that the recent impeachment inquiry is a "coup."

This is an opportunity to teach.

"Coup" is shorthand for "coup d'etat" or "blow against the state" meaning the overthrow of an existing government by non-democratic means if you will.  Think French and Russian Revolutions.  There are you some sure enough coups.  

Whatever you think of Mr. Trump's current plight, the impeachment process is by no means a coup.  It is described in Article I of the Constitution of United States of America.  It is carried out by elected officials.  And it only removes a person from office.  It doesn't alter or replace the existing government.  It is not a coup.

But try telling that to the average American who gets his or her news from TASS, I mean, FOX.  Or owns an AR 15.

And if we are to be honest, part of the reason for the venomous response of the Trumpers is due to the belief that the Never Trumpers have longed for this moment since his election.  And they're right.  I know folks that were talking impeachment damn near 5 minutes after Trump took the Oath of Office.  And I always tamped such talk down as utterly foolhardy if not groundless until fairly recently.  

But even though the Trumpers have a point of sorts it is largely irrelevant as Mr. Trump has done a pretty damn good job of handing himself over to his enemies ( and maybe more Republicans than we currently know) on a silver platter via room service.  

As for Mr. Drake, he has mercifully shut down his Twitter account and has issued an apology undoubtedly drafted for him by MLB, the MLB Umpires Association, or both.  

"I want to apologize to everyone that my words may feel less safe," he allegedly said in a another statement obtained by ESPN. "I also acknowledge and and apologize for the controversy this has brought to Major League Baseball, my fellow umpires and my family. I never intended to diminish the threat of violence from assault weapons of any kind."

And naturally, in conclusion, the statement goes on to say that Drake is "going to learn from this."

Like I said.  Maybe he was drunk when he took to Twitter last Tuesday.

But what about the sober yet deranged people out there that share his thoughts?  What are they gonna do if Trump is removed from office?

After all, It doesn't take many people to screw things up completely.  My buddy John saw that for himself in Iraq.

Hopefully we won't get put to that particular test here.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

My Worthless Feeling

I have nothing to allow today.  Which is rarely an impediment to my writing in these chronicles.

Beat you to it.

Anyway, I'm taking the day off.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I don't particularly know what came over me.  But a couple of months ago I decided that I wanted a nice wrist watch.  The only type of watch I've worn since-when?-law school I guess has been a running watch, a Timex Ironman (more specifically) the last 15 years or so.  The Deacon gave me a FitBit watch 4-5 years ago.  I was teaching full-time back then.  It would amaze me how many steps I would take in the average day.

You think teaching ain't work?  Buy a teacher of your acquaintance a FitBit or similar product and check his or her mileage.  Bet it's more than yours by a couple of laps.

But keeping track of all the stuff the stupid thing compiled on me on a constant basis) became damn near a fetish.  Or as close to one as I'll ever have. And my eyes are pretty bad.  I had trouble seeing the face of the device (you couldn't really call it a watch) in broad daylight.   So I went to Wal-Mart last spring and got me another Ironman.

Which suits me just fine.  Until I saw an article in Esquire Magazine about watches it recommended.  And it occurred to me that here I am pushing 65 and I didn't have what my father would call a "dress watch."  Besides, I'm no longer paying for 2 houses so the cash flow has improved considerably. So off I went in search of my dream.  

Now I knew I wasn't going to buy a Rolex, although my brother Bob gave me a fake one for Christmas one year.  Or anything that cost over $500.  So the first place I looked was at a large department store in the mall down the road.  This was a mistake.  The men's watches on display there were heavily reliant on the bling.  A gentleman of my age and station should not disport himself as Willie the Pimp.

So I started looking online.  I told my buddy Phil what I was up to.  Turns out he had a Citizen in his desk drawer that he wasn't wearing.  So he gave it to me to try out.  It's a lovely watch and I am grateful for his thoughtfulness.  But the damn thing has a black face, black hands and black numbers.  My eyes are so bad I can't read it even in good light. So first priority was to find a watch I can actually read with ease in all light.  

Two things became readily apparent once I started looking.  The first is that there have to be 25-30 companies in America that make quality timepieces in my price range.  The first one I ever heard of was Shinola out in Detroit.  I think I saw a story on 60 Minutes about how the company bought a building downtown and trained unemployed folks how to make watches.      I don't know if Shinola was the inspiration for all of these other companies making watches in this great land of ours.  But there sure are a lot of them.

Secondly, if you don't think Facebook doesn't read your mind or something, just look for a watch online.  Or some other discreet niche product.  As if by magic you will find ads from makers and sellers of watches on your feed.  Same thing with golf equipment.  It's really true that there's no such thing as privacy out there on the Internet.  So don't go looking for sex toys online unless you Mark Zuckerberg all up in your business.  

A word to the wise is sufficient.

After much looking and research I settled on a watch made by an outfit in Los Angeles called VAER.  The one I picked was semi-military in style in that it had a green face and white hands and numbers.  It came with two straps.  One was a gray nylon "NATO styled" strap for use in diving and other adventurous water sports.  The other is a "burnt orange" leather strap.  I have a feeling that the military grade strap will stay in the box.  I don't like to swim.  Besides, NATO will probably be dissolved by the time the election rolls around.  The Texas Longhorns will not.  Finally, it cost far less than my price range.

So I placed the order.  They said it would take about 2 weeks due to a backlog on orders.  Most likely it was the lies about backlogs on orders that were backed up.  But I didn't mind.

My new watch came in last Friday.  It was just as pretty in the box as depicted online.  It has a nice heft and feel to it on my wrist seeing as how, unlike either the Ironman, the FitBit or the fake Rolex given to me by Bob, the new watch has a million moving parts.  And it has a feature VAER calls lume which is just a fancy Latinate word for "light." Which means I can read it in pitch darkness as well as normal light.  And I can.  I am so happy.  

So if you are in the market for a reasonably priced, attractive timepiece that is made in the USA, take a look at the VAER website.  Or any of them.  They are all pretty good.

Just don't be surprised when Mark Zuckerberg gets wind of this too.  


Sunday, October 06, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I know a woman whose late husband found himself in protracted litigation over real estate during a time when he was not at all well.  She wrote me to tell me that she had heard recently that the attorney for the other party was now himself gravely ill.

"Karma is a bitch ain't it?" she wrote.

Indeed it is.  In this case it has given a perfectly nice little lady a license to indulge in schadenfreude.  Which I completely get.   

I don't claim to be very good at Christianity.  I have my moments I suppose.  But I  understand the inability to forgive.  

In my own life, there are a couple of people whose funeral I would attend pretty much only to make sure that they were indeed stone cold dead.  Which is petty in the extreme and goes against both my home and church upbringing.   I know this.  I was raised better.

But under certain circumstances Christ's admonition to turn the other cheek is not just impractical.  It seems impossible. Ask anybody who has gone through a divorce.  Who has come out on the short end of a business deal.  Who has been denied a promotion or otherwise works for a son-of-a-bitch.  Pick your own scenario. I know that you can.

Which is why the scene in the courtroom in Dallas was so remarkable.  A young man named Botham Jean was sitting in his apartment eating ice cream when he was blown to Kingdom Come by a cop named Amber Guyger who claimed that she not only somehow mistook his apartment for her own.  She mistook him for an intruder.  

The prosecutor called this unlikely mistake of both identity and residence "murder" and a jury agreed.  It gave Guyger 10 years.  Just before she got led off, the brother of Botham Jean approached her.  And the now famous picture shows him hugging her and offering her his forgiveness.


By all accounts, Botham Jean was a fine young man. He was much beloved by friends and family.  He manifestly did not deserve to have his life taken from him by an addled police officer.  And yet Amber Guyger was forgiven by the brother of the man she executed.

Could you do that?  I know I couldn't.  I'm not nearly Christian enough or man enough.  Mercifully, most of us won't have to have our faith tested in such an extreme way.

I'm no theologian but I am a practical man. Perhaps there's a middle ground.  I heard a rabbi once say, on the Don Imus show of all places, that "hating somebody is to drink the poison and expect that other person to die."  I think that this is useful advice which I have tried to follow in my own life.

Like I said, there are a few folks that I would just as soon not ever have anything to do with ever again.  But I refuse to hate them.  Mainly because to hate them would require me to think about them.  I refuse to let them occupy real estate in my head.  I refuse to drink the poison. 

That ain't exactly offering up my cheek to be slapped.  But that's the best I can do. 

The harder question would be what would I do if one of these people that "I would just as soon not have anything to do with" asked me for forgiveness.  I am comfortable posing this question as I am certain that it is purely rhetorical.  Narcissists have no need of reconciliation.  

But my answer is, God help me, that I do not know.  I do not know if I am capable of being Botham Jean's brother.  But I refuse to hate.  Like I said, it's the best I can do.

And I guess that would be my response to my widowed friend.  

I hope she finds a measure of peace someday.  I hope she can put down the poison.

But I likewise understand it, and will not blame her, if she never does.      


Sunday, September 29, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

"[T]here's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.  Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it...It sounds horrible to me."

                         From the unclassified notes of a telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky of the Ukraine July 25, 2019 which were released by the White House.

I have never, in this space or otherwise, advocated for the impeachment of Donald Trump.  In the first place I consider myself to be an imminently practical man.  And I failed to see the use of initiating such a divisive process when there is no practical hope that the Senate would convict given the fact that it is controlled by the Republicans.  Rather, I would vastly prefer to defeat Trump at the ballot box.  If he is removed from office by any other means, it will do nothing more than stoke the fires of grievance burning in the guts of his base.  

Not that removing him from office by either method will mean that we will be shed of Donald Trump.  No.  As long as he has opposable thumbs he will post away on Twitter.  And, most likely, he will host his own show on either radio or Fox.  Which was most likely why he ran in the first place.  I am not the only person to believe that Trump never believed he would actually pull this off.  Nor did he particularly care.  All he cared about, all he still cares about, is the brand.  He will not go gentle into that good night when he finally leaves office.  The money he stands to make is too good to pass up.  And when Trump finally gets on the air, he will make Mike Huckabee look like George Will by comparison.  At least voting him out takes care of the asterisk that he and his supporters would otherwise place by his name if he is removed..

But I digress.

I have changed my mind about opening an impeachment inquiry.  Trump committed an impeachable offense, if not a felony, through the firing of James Comey.  And now we have evidence that he solicited the assistance of a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political rival while his administration was holding up aid to that country.  Aid that had been appropriated for that purpose by the Congress. 

If that's not a "high crime and misdemeanor" what is?  As the Speaker of the House said in an interview said the other day, "What choice do we have?"   Practicalities of the politics of it are no longer enough.  This has to be investigated.  

But still.  I don't get it.  I never had Trump up there with Machiavelli insofar as tactical ability is concerned.  But my God.  It's not like the President of the United States has private conversations with leaders of foreign countries.  Or, if he does, they are infrequent.  No. Most of the time there are people listening in and taking copious notes.  And a transcript will be prepared.  

Why didn't a bell go off in his head alerting him to the fact that it might not be the brightest thing in the world to make an extortionate demand or, if you prefer, attempt to make a deal involving the highest offices of the United States for his political gain while the walls had ears?

Maybe it's because Trump is not the brightest bulb that's ever been screwed into a socket in the Oval Office.  Which means he really believes that because the phrase "quid quo pro" was never uttered that none was ever offered.  

Please.  Trump has dealt with mobsters enough to know that the language of extortion is subtle.  This provides a measure of deniability if somebody is wearing a wire.  And it's scarier.

For example: "You've got a nice business here.  I would hate to see something happen to it."  Language such as that has been held by the courts to be extortionate. Or, I have a friend who grew up in New York. He had a relative who was in construction who was asked rhetorically by a mobbed up union representative "You ever seen a body at the bottom of an elevator shaft?"

In the situation at hand the Trump Administration was holding up money legally earmarked for the Ukraine.  According to the notes RELEASED BY THE WHITE HOUSE ITSELF, Trump asked the Ukrainian President for "a favor." Said favor being help in finding dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden. You think President Zelensky didn't catch the clue?

And as if this wasn't enough, he offered the assistance of the Attorney General of the United States in this regard as long as the services of his personal attorney and free-lance diplomat Rudolph Giuliani in this regard.

Clearly, an inquiry must begin.  Even though I dread the prospect of this with every fibre of my being.  Donald Trump has no shame.  And to paraphrase what was once said about the Taliban soldier, "He would burn down a village to light a cigarette."  Those two traits together, along with this lack of respect for the rule of law, and/or basic decorum and feral intellectual deficits make Donald Trump a very dangerous man.

The worst man for these perilous times.  And it is for this reason that Nancy Pelosi will have to keep a tight rein on the proceedings to make sure that they don't devolve into the circus that I fear Trump and Fox News will attempt to portray them to be.  

The great Swedish tennis player Mats Willander once said that the difference between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer was that "Roger has no balls and Rafa has three"

The Speaker of the House is similarly endowed. Metaphorically speaking of course.  My money is on her.  

But God is this going to be ugly or what?  

Sunday, September 22, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

About a month ago the Deacon revealed unto me that she had gone vegan.  This was in response to my asking her why she wasn't eating any of the jerk chicken that I had grilled with my loving hands.  At her request. Or so I had thought. 

Anyway, I wasn't completely surprised by this.  Although D enjoyed the occasional bite of steak off the grill or my butterflied pork chops, she pretty much preferred fruit and vegetables to anything else.  Indeed, her daughter Sarah of Arabia was vegan when I first made her acquaintance back when she was in high school.  So veggies have been a thing at the dinner table for the 5 years we have all been together. 

As far as relationship changes go, this is not that big of a deal.  It does tend to complicate the formerly simple question "What do you want to do for dinner?" But it's not like she expects me to cross over with her.  Or join a temperance league.  The latter persuasion being a shorthand version of the phrase "general indignities sufficient to make life intolerable." Or whatever it is. I don't wait tables or do divorce work.

D and Sarah are good cooks. Truth be told, I've eaten a lot of their vegan cooking and I have to say most of it's pretty damn good.  Besides, I spent many years in South Louisiana and  there's not much that can't be improved to my taste with Tabasco and/or cheese.  I buy sandwich meat and bacon from the deli.  Sometimes I'll have a sandwich and eat some of her dinner for a side.  It works.

I'm a decent cook. But my repertoire is pretty limited to guy stuff such as grilling and soups and stews in the winter.  For years I have made chili on Sunday nights in the fall and winter.  I guess I will give it a whirl using fake meat if ever we get seasonable weather around here.  I made a red meat sauce using ersatz beef the other night.  I found the pasta made from chickpeas a whole lot stranger than my red sauce.  Then again, Tabasco and cheese can normalize just about anything.   

Since D has come out of the closet-or more accurately the barn-on this issue I have become aware that there are many in her number.  My friend Paul at school has been giving me some good tips.  "Hummus is a good bridge in a house divided," he advised.  And he is correct.  I've eaten more hummus in the last month than in the previous year.

And there's no doubting the health benefits.  Neither Paul nor D are heavy people.  But Paul is now fitter and more trim since he has given up meat.  And D is more willowy than she was.  And her recent blood work is perfect.  Can't argue with that.  

The fact of the matter is that global warming-there I said it-will make traditional meat agriculture more expensive.  This cost will have to be passed to the consumer.  Another school friend Steve used to be an aficionado of the "cheap steak." Sometimes I would go to the store with him where he would reveal his secret knowledge of how to find the perfect specimen.  I'm afraid this knowledge, like driving a shift on a column, is obsolete.  There ain't no such thing as a cheap steak anymore.  Plant based food is the future whether we like it or not.  

But this new plant based world of meat products is not without complications.  There was a fascinating article in the paper yesterday about whether plant based pork ( and other formerly forbidden foods) may be consumed by our Jewish and Muslim friends.  It is a subject of some debate in those two cultures.  As one of the rabbis interviewed said, "Ask any 3 rabbis and you will get 25 opinions."  So there's that.

Last night D wanted to try one of those Impossible Whoppers made by Burger King.  So being the good provider that I am I went to the frequently robbed BK over by the medical school and got 2 to go.  Or given the gunfire that occasionally erupts over there, I got 2 to "run real fast."  Anyway, the burger was really good.  I couldn't really tell the difference between it and the real thing.  So there's another option.

It is clear that plant based food is part of our future both as a society and within the confines of this house.     As long as I can make my Sunday night chili in the winter months and have the occasional steak on the grill I can handle this.  

But I ain't going back to BK after 8 pm again. The health effects of the Impossible Whopper Burger would be offset by an overdose of lead.  And admittedly things might get tense around here if D starts handing out temperance literature on the street.  But so far so good.

Like I said, as far as changes to relationships go, I can handle this.  

Sunday, September 15, 2019


It's been a busy week by my admittedly negotiable standards for the concept of busyness.  Nothing to report since last week.

However, I will note that another hurricane seems to be bearing down on the Bahamas.  Maybe some TV preacher with appropriate magic skills can go down there and talk some sense into it before it makes landfall.  

You do remember that the two charlatans I wrote about last week claim they can talk to what the sane world otherwise considers to be meteorological phenomena don't you?  And convince it to change course.

I'm guessing they will stay home since Florida is not yet in danger.  

You can't make this stuff up.

Anyway, carry on!

Sunday, September 08, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

For the life of me, I don't know how people can come to believe this stuff.  The "stuff" to which I am referring (and please feel free to insert your own favorite descriptive word if you feel so led) are the recent stories out of Florida-and it's always Florida-where a couple of TV preachers have claimed that God, working through them, caused Hurricane Dorian to miss the Sunshine State.

The first guy I heard about is a preacher down there named Rick Wiles.  An Internet search for him causes many entries to pop up, many of them containing such words as "right-wing" and "bigot."  Earlier this month, he hit up his evidently gullible and weak-minded viewers for-get this-100 million bucks.  That is breathtaking.  Even old pros at working the preacher con like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart might be hesitant to put the arm on the faithful for that much long green.  Not all at once at least.  Wiles says he needs this much scratch to build a global media "for the body of Christ to get us through to the End when Christ comes back."  Which is a positively Trumpian serving of word salad.  

You notice these guys never give a breakdown of where the money they solicit will actually go?  Do you think there is a reason for this?

Anyway, Wiles said that God told him "to speak directly to the storm" and get it to turn northeast.  Really.  He said God told him to talk to a phenomenon of nature. 

Kat Kerr is another preacher down there.  She has pink hair and claims to have been given tours of Heaven off and on for the last 10 years.  She took to the beach down there in Jacksonville armed with a rod or a staff which she swung baseball- like (left handed just like me)  at the storm-or in the direction of the storm- which was at that time 40 miles out-commanding that it head east in the name of God.  

Which the damn thing did, making landfall at Cape Hatteras about 6 this morning, knocking out power to 250,000 people in the process.  I guess the TV preachers in the Carolinas don't have the same juju as the ones south of there.

Now I do not believe for one second that God intervened in human history at the behest of these two.  Or evidently anybody else if you take into account the carnage visited upon the Bahamas.  They got churches down there.  I'm certain that folks there were fervently imploring the Almighty to spare them.  Which He, in his mercy, obviously did not. But to paraphrase Mr. Lincoln, still it must be said the judgments of the Lord are righteous.

To believe otherwise is to ignore one of the logical fallacies identified by Plato: that of "post hoc ergo propter hoc" or the fallacy of "false cause."  Sequence is not always causality.  Just because the medicine man beats his drum to make it rain doesn't mean that if it rains he was the reason.  And just because some pink haired lunatic takes 3 cuts at the ocean allegedly in the name of God doesn't mean she-or God come to think of it- was the reason that Jacksonville was spared and North Carolina was not.  

This is not religion.  This is superstition.  This is magical thinking at best and a con at the worst. 

But I will tell you this.  If one of these charlatans-wherever they may be in this great land of ours- can use their suck with the Almighty to stop the next mass shooting, I will gladly open up my wallet.  I think my money is safe.

Until then I'm going to try to learn to swing that right handed wedge I got in the garage.  If acting crazy is the long term side effect from swinging from the port side I'm going to try to cross the hell over before it's too late.


Sunday, September 01, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

My excellent nephew Henry is pursuing a Master's degree at Indiana's school of music.  He has sensibly decided not to be on the performance side of the business although as long as there are brass bands-and regrettably they are with us always-the trombone, like lawyers, will be part of God's plan.  So, Henry is getting his degree in the business side of the performing arts in hopes of becoming an Executive Director of a symphony or the like.

Beats teaching music in high school.  Trust me on this one.  

The other night his dad texted me.  Seems Henry had been assigned the task of asking me about our family's history in Indiana.  I think there was a governor of the state once with our last name although we are no relation.  Maybe it was a "conflict of interest CYA" kind of thing.  Maybe not. Henry, like most of the young people in my life, didn't give me much to work with.  So here's what I wrote to him given what little information I had at my disposal.

"Your grandfather who you never knew was born in Chicago but was raised in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Valparaiso is now basically a bedroom community of Chicago on the other side of Lake Michigan.  My buddy Kenny is from Indiana.  He says that Valparaiso "really sucks." So there's that.

I never knew Russell Bowen for the same reason you never knew Buck Bowen.  They both smoked cigarettes and it killed them both equally graveyard dead.  Russ checked out at 56.  Dad pretty much dropped dead in our backyard at 52.  And I have coronary artery disease.  Thanks, Buck.  But I remain asymptomatic mainly because I have always exercised and never smoked cigarettes.  Some outcomes are preventable.  

Russ Bowen served in World War I and he was part of the effort to organize the workers at the steel mill.  I guess it was Indiana Steel but that's just a guess.  He was a big union guy.  Grandmother Bowen told me they camped in tents outside the mill after their shifts were over to fight the goons the management brought in to kick their asses and/or to fight the scab labor (Look it up. It won't kill you.  Do I have to do everything around here?) that tried to take the Union guys' jobs.  imagine that if you will.  I can't.

We called Grandmother Bowen Gram.  And I'll be damned if I can remember her name.  Isn't that strange?  Anyway, she and Russ were damn near Communists by contemporary standards.  She proudly told me that she cast her first presidential ballot for "Fighting Bob LaFollette" who ran on a pro-union pro-farmer platform.  His official portrait in later life bears something of a resemblance to you oddly enough.  If you had an Elvis-like pompadour that is.  You and I come from labor types on one side of the family and hardscrabble cracker types on Mother's side.  Both sides were big supporters of FDR but for slightly different reasons.

After WWII, Buck went back to Valpo (as the locals call it) and went to Valparaiso University on the GI Bill where he got a degree in engineering.  He went to work at Indiana Steel in that capacity.  If he ever had to fight anybody outside the front gate like his own father did he never told me about it.  

Your Uncle Dave and I were both born in Valparaiso although I have no memories of it.  If your Uncle Dave says otherwise he is lying.  My Uncle Ralph wound up at the steel mill too. The story I got was that Ralph had gotten into an altercation with some other contestant in a poker game and Buck told the judge that he would take Ralph back to Indiana and get him a job if the judge would go light on him, as we criminal lawyers say.  Uncle Ralph must not have beaten the guy up too bad because the judge told Buck to get him out of Cleburne County by sundown.  That was back when you could get justice.

My memory on this is imperfect but it is understanding that my mother, whom you called Grandma Donice, met my father when she was in Chicago on a girl's trip with some coworkers.  They were married in Little Rock for some reason and the rest is history.  Well, they married because they loved each other.  Why they picked Little Rock was never explained to me.   Not that it was any of my business. Anyway, this history resulted, among other things, in your ultimately gracing the planet and your cantankerous uncle with your presence.

It occurs to me that the reason we have a Labor Day is because of guys like Russ Bowen.  Along with 8 hour work days, wage and hour laws, child labor laws and, well, you name it.  At least we have them for now. The country is currently run by fools.  

Gram's name was Lucille.  It just came to me.  You will be old someday too.  And you will marvel at the stuff you can forget.

Happy Labor Day, Hen!  I hope this helped some.  

Write when you get work."

Saturday, August 24, 2019

My Sunday Feeling on Saturday

I don't have much to allow this weekend.  Sarah of Arabia made it safely to Cairo.  As we speak, Joe and his Mom are out shopping for stuff for him to take back with him for his second year at Hendrix.  I'm playing golf in Morrilton the Beautiful tomorrow if the weather holds. And college football starts tonight.  High school ball starts next week.  

And the sun seems to be making a cameo appearance in today's sky.  So I'm off to the driving range.  All is right with the world.

See you next week.  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

This will not be a long post.  

Today marks the first anniversary of the marriage of the Deacon and I.  I guess I should have given more thought to it and composed a tome about the last year.  But quite frankly I didn't know where to start.  This time last year?  5 years or so ago when we first started seeing each other seriously?  The sheer hell that was last summer?

True story.  I ran into one of the young coaches out on the golf course.  He was getting one last round in before football practice started for real.

"How has your summer been Mr. Bowen?," he asked.

I'm "Mr. Bowen" to about half of them over there at Catholic High.  I'm still not quite used to that.  As far as I'm concerned "Mr. Bowen" is buried over to the VA Cemetery downtown. But what are you going to do?  

"Let me tell you Coach," I said. " I'm not buying a house.  I'm not selling a house.  I'm not moving a family here from Conway and I'm not living in a house with no furniture except a recliner, a bed, a TV and a coffee pot. I'm having one hell of a good summer compared to last summer."

If we got through last June without somebody getting shot in the front yard, I think the prospects for the long haul are really good.  

Should I write about the wedding ceremony itself?  That wouldn't be a bad idea except I don't remember much about it except Chris Riviere telling me a lawyer joke about an hour prior to the nuptials and folks applauding as we left the Sanctuary.  That's not true.  I remember my right foot falling asleep in my new shoes as we standing up there in front of God and everybody as the old saying goes.  

And I remember Jim Hathaway coming up to me at the reception.  He had noticed that I was not drinking.  He did not think this was advisable given the stress I was under and so he brought me a double bourbon on the rocks.  Jim Hathaway is a good man.

But really that's about it.  Maybe if I looked at the pictures it would come back to me.  Except I have no earthly idea where they are around here.  Which is not atypical.  

Talk about a blur, it seems hard to believe that a year has come and gone.  The kids will be leaving soon.  They have been here for most of the summer which has been interesting to use a word.  Sarah is headed back to the Middle East for a fellowship.  She will be gone until Christmas.  Joe will head back to Hendrix a few days after that.  He will be gone until he needs laundry done or his Mom's cooking.  Or money.  

What else should I write about?

Maybe this.  Soon it will be back to just the Deacon and me in this big old house up on top of the world.  Once it is no longer 10 degrees hotter than Hell, we will go back to sitting on the porch.  We like it here.  You can see deer in the woods across the street.  You can see the Arkansas River a mile or so to the north.  Joe says you can see the lights of downtown from his room upstairs.  I'll take his word for it.  I don't own a hazmat suit so I don't go up there.  

The Deacon is a bookish sort.  I am a "gin-ish" sort.  The neighbors walk by and stop to talk to her.  They merely tolerate me.  I think they can't figure out how M got stuck with the likes of a dyspeptic curmudgeon-which is the worst kind if you think about it-like me.  That's OK. I can't figure it out either.  But our porch is a good place to be. Our home is a happy one.

It's a good place to start the second year along with all the other years that are hopefully to come.  

I'll try to do a better job of paying attention from here on out.