Sunday, April 14, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

If I were more prescient, I would have seen the storm on my personal horizon based upon the comments from other folks on social media about how they came out under the new tax code.  Most of these folks are my age and I'm guessing in my tax bracket.  And they all reported that they took a hit.  Actually, they used words that were graphic than that.  But this is a family friendly space so I won't go there.

I was expecting some tax liability on my part.  After all, I actually made a little money practicing law last year.  And I had to liquidate some investments to fix up my house for sale, buy furniture for the new house, pay for this, pay for that, et cetera et cetera.  So I expected to pay some additional taxes as my taxable income went up.

I did not expect to get clobbered.    

But I damn near passed out when I got the email from my accountant yesterday afternoon giving me the news.  And the other person that lives here has been happier too, although if I got clobbered she only took a glancing blow, albeit one she didn't anticipate.

Now I am not a stupid man.  I realized that the decrease in taxes would result in an increase of taxable income based on my monthly check.  And I realized that my dipping into the IRA was a taxable event.  I also can do without a tax refund.  Indeed, I haven't had a refund from the State of Arkansas since I left the government and some years I don't get one from Uncle or have to pay a little. So, unlike many Americans I don't count on it one way or another.  But I wasn't prepared for this.

And I gather from the tenor of the remarks on Facebook alone that many other people weren't either.  

I think it was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said that taxes are the price we pay for civilization.  I'm pretty sure he said it but I'm too lazy to look it up.  And I get that.

But for the first time since I became a taxpayer, I feel that the system, always rigged for the wealthy, has become unfair.  The Donald Trumps of the world (I suspect) pay no taxes.  Amazon paid no taxes.  TurboTax beat back a proposal in Congress that would let folks file electronically with the IRS FOR FREE.  

It is manifestly unfair if the burden of paying taxes disproportionally falls on those that do not have access to the myriad of deductions and shelters available to the very wealthy.  As a buddy of mine that plays the market pretty hard said to me the other day,"It makes absolutely no sense that some of these trades I make are not taxed.  It makes no sense."

And my buddy is no wild-eyed commie.  

I was grateful to have the funds available to buy a house, move a family from Conway to here, and do all the other stuff that you have to do when you move and to do a 360 with your life.  Because of this I was able to do all of this without going into debt other then the mortgage on the new house.  Well, that's not true, I took out a bridge loan to use for a down payment on this house secured by the equity in the old house.  But that got paid off when the old house sold.  Worked like a charm.

And I had money set aside for what I thought I might have to render unto Caesar this year.  But I wasn't even close.  

Thank God I have money once again and can handle this.  But that means I'm going to think long and hard about buying stuff I don't need for awhile.  And if I'm thinking like this what about the folks who actually depend on their refunds to make ends meet?  I'm guessing that a lot of discretionary spending or non-spending will keep dollars from going into the economy.  Which brings with it its own set of problems from an economic perspective.

So will this be the wakeup call alerting the trumpers that they have been had?  Probably not.  As long as their leader keeps on about "building a wall" and how the Mueller report supposedly exonerates him that is sufficient red meat for them to keep them in the fold.  

What will happen after Monday when the bill comes due?  We shall see what we shall see.

As for us, my accountant says that next year we should "break even."

I'll take it.  It ain't fair.  But I'll take it.














Sunday, April 07, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

A gas station in Tallulah, Louisiana is pretty much the last place I would expect to get panhandled.  Now I almost got my ass kicked at a truck stop there back when I was in law school when some local rednecks took umbrage at the DEVO tee shirt I was sporting.  But that didn't seem odd to me at the time given the close proximity to Monroe (Correctly pronounced "MUN-roh," As in "Rut-roh.") which was then, and is now, the epicenter of toxic rednecktitude. But getting hit up for money in otherwise bucolic Tallulah genuinely surprised me.

"Excuse me Sir," said the voice behind me.

I turned around to see a tall, heavy set black man wearing a chef's smock.

"I'm not trying to scare you.  So don't be afraid,"he said.

"Do I look afraid?" I said.

"No, and that's good.  I just need some help. As you can see, I'm an executive chef," he said.

"I can see you are dressed like one, I suppose." I replied.

"Oh, I am, Sir," he said.  "My car broke down and I need to get to work.  We don't have cabs here but we have jitneys that will carry you where you need to go.  But they charge $22 and I only got 15.  You think you could help me out?"

I just stood there and looked at him.

"Look around here.  All these black guys won't help me.  My own race has turned me down. So I'm humbling myself to ask for money from a white man."

At this point the bullshit detector in my head- and I have a good one- was banging the red zone. 

"I see," I said.  

I looked at the bay next to me.  The young black guy filling up his truck looked at me.  He rolled his eyes heavenward and back down while shaking his head.

"I'm sorry.  I don't carry cash," I said. Which is my standard reply if I am required to interact with a panhandler.

The Chef turned and walked away.

I didn't feel badly.  I never give money to panhandlers.  Ask anybody in law enforcement and they will tell you that 90% of the time a donation to a panhandler will get smoked up or drank up.  That and the old "my car broke down" or "I ran outta gas" appeals for money are almost always false.  

I didn't feel badly.  But I felt a pang of ambivalence about taking my usual hard line approach.  I am married to a woman of the cloth.  She is involved in a United Methodist mission to the homeless downtown called CANVAS where she spends her Wednesday and Sunday nights. 

Walking around the French Quarter last week, we were routinely hit on as anybody who has ever visited there has been.  She routinely and freely gave any spare change she had to some of them.  I guess her eye is better than mine and she can cull out the needy from the con artists.  That and she is a better person than I am.  

Not that I'm so bad.  I refuse to get hit up for money not merely because I am heartless or believe all begging is a con. Although a good 75% is.  I don't give money to panhandlers because it is inefficient.  CANVAS can take two bucks and stretch it a lot further and serve more people.  So I donate to them and and other homeless and hunger organizations.  And I accept referrals from Legal Services.  Giving back in this fashion is a more efficient use of finite resources because a community is involved.  

But I refuse to give to panhandlers just like I tend to give the heave-ho to most salespeople that show up on my front porch unbidden by me.  I will at least be polite to the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.  I'm not completely heartless.  

After I was through gassing up, I went inside and bought some bad gas station coffee with a dollar fifty that I had lied to the Chef about not having.

I pulled out of the station and pointed my car back to Arkansas and home.

I hadn't gone too far when I saw him walking north up US 65, umbrella in hand.  I figured back at the station that his "broken down" car was around the corner somewhere.  But there he was hoofing it.

And the thought occurred to me.

"What if he was telling the truth?"

Melissa might have pulled over to give him a few bucks.  I kept going. I felt a pang of something like guilt but I kept going.  After all, just because he left the station on foot didn't mean that his story wasn't complete bullshit.  After all, 90% of the time it, and similar stories,  are.

But then again, Melissa and all of the people that deal with the homeless and the dispossessed are better people than me.  

Way better.  

















Sunday, March 31, 2019

Rain check

Between grading papers and getting ready to blow town for a couple of days, there's no time for this foolishness.

Will catch you later.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

My buddy Phil looked beaten unto death.  I was standing in his kitchen as he poured me a glass of amber liquid.  All around us was the detritus of what used to be an orderly home.  He raised his weary eyes to mine as he held out his glass to offer a toast.

"Here's to getting this move over," he muttered.

Clink.

"And to never moving again."

God how I can relate.  It seems amazing to me now, but this time last year the Deacon and I were looking at houses.  We closed on this, the house in the sky, in May.  She and the kids moved in the last weekend in May and I followed a few months later once our union had been solemnized according to the laws of God, or at least the Formerly United Methodist version of same, and the State of Arkansas.  

Someone once told me that the short moves are the worst.  I didn't really believe that until I moved a couple of miles from the F Street Sports Bar to this house.  Between May and August every day I carried carloads of crap either to the new house or to the Goodwill store.  Some of the crap I hauled over here was rejected by the Deacon and so back to Goodwill I would limp.  

It was simply just about the worst summer I can remember.

Phil and Karen are making a short move to a development on the river in North Little Rock.    They are not content merely with the sheer awfulness that is moving.  They are building their new house.  They have to be out of their old house by the first of the month.  If they play their cards right their home might be ready to move in by then.  The progress reports from their contractor tend to differ on this score, at least to my ears, on a daily basis.  This would drive me crazy.  As flat out horrible as the buying and selling real estate and moving processes were, I at least knew where I was going to land once it was over.

And now that I have landed, nothing short of a goddamn court order or my eventual demise, whichever comes first, will cause me to ever leave.  

I wouldn't have left the F Street Sports Bar if I had not entered into matrimony and acquired 3 people in the transaction.  I don't know why Phil and Karen are moving except that Karen has always had bees in her britches for some reason.  For as long as they have lived up on Rosewood Circle she has had her eye out for real estate.  

There was absolutely nothing wrong with their house except that it is situated on a hill which is impassable during snow and ice storms.  Phil offered to sell it to me and this was one of the reasons I didn't want it.  

So I went and bought a house east of him on the same hill which will be equally impassable in the inevitable event of an ice storm.  Shrewd huh?

I mainly wasn't interested in his house because in my mind it would always be his house.  Perhaps that's why the Deacon wanted a new house.  The other one would always be my house and associated always with the bad juju that had built up there over the years.  Juju being in the eye of the beholder of course.  I think I managed to impart some pretty good if not hilarious juju there.  But I get her larger point.  And I know how to pick my shots.

Still, in retrospect, I don't know why people would willingly enter in to the soul crushing experience of dealing in real estate and moving unless they did so in contemplation of old age or downsizing   Or because of a goddamn court order.  

So I don't much understand why my friends are putting themselves through this misery.  Then again, it ain't none of my bidness.  And while I am no model for right living, I do tend to mind my own bidness.  

As for me, I am content to stay put.  I am happy to be down to one real estate mortgage and to have no debt except my house and my car again.  Solvency is a good thing.  

And I look forward to seeing their new house.  I just hope they are able to occupy it after they hand over the keys to the old place.

At least I managed to get that part right.




Saturday, March 16, 2019

My Sunday-Posting On Saturday Because Blogger Is About to Crash- Feeling

We lost one of the all time great ones a week or so ago.  Dan Jenkins, the Bard of Fort Worth, died March 7, having attained the age of 90 despite consuming a diet, that to hear his daughter Sally Jenkins tell it, consisted mostly of red meat, Winstons, coffee and scotch.  

Jenkins was nothing if not prolific.  Not only did he crank it out about football and golf, he wrote novels and screenplays.  Indeed, in the wonderful tribute to him in the current issue of Golf Digest, it was revealed that he and friend and collaborator Bud Shrake got fired from screenwriting duties on the Eddie Murphy vehicle "Beverly Hills Cop II" because they were too funny.  When Dan pointed out to the producer that he thought that was kind of the point of the enterprise he was told,"You don't have to be funny.  Eddie be funny."

"For the next 20 years," the piece said. "The co-conspirators looked across the room at each other, pronounced "Eddie be funny" and howled."

Jenkins was at his best skewering pomposity, the PGA tour and Tiger Woods.  Regarding the latter, Woods kept ducking him for interviews.  Undaunted Jenkins wrote his own fake interview with Tiger.  Check it out.  It is beyond hilarious.  

On the other hand, he could be borderline racist and sexist.  I reviewed "The Franchise Babe" , a novel about the LPGA, for the local paper.  I panned it.  As I said at the time if you're gonna go blue you better be funny.  And "Franchise Babe" wasn't funny.  

But if he was losing his touch with the novel form, he regained it on Twitter of all places.  His tweets as he followed the events unfolding during major golf tournaments were masterpieces of brevity and wit.  Unlike the usual dispatches from the White House.

He died too soon.  Can you imagine what Dan Jenkins would have made of the recent scandal involving those rich folks bribing their kids' way into certain elite institutions?  And USC too?  After all, this is just a sports story.  

As I understand it, the parents hired an application facilitator to help guide the kids through the process.  Which is completely legal.  What wasn't legal is that this guy was the conduit through which applications with faked up athletic accomplishments were passed along leavened in most instances by bribes to college administrators.  

I teach at a local two year school.  We talked about this in class.  Many of my students are of the non-traditional variety.  Many of them hold down jobs.  They don't play intercollegiate sports at our school.  Every one of the ones in my classes got in on their own merit.  At least I am relatively certain none of my kids could come up with bribe money even if they were so inclined.  

The consensus?  It ain't fair.

And that's right.  It isn't fair.  Especially when you consider that some of the ones that got admitted are airheads who couldn't pass the entrance exam during a fair fight and/or could give two hoots in Hell about an education.  

This story has it all.  Social media superstars, bribery, hubris, crooked athletic coaches and administrators.

Ah Dan you died too soon.  You could have hit this one dead solid perfect.  

As for me, I'm taking up Winstons and Scotch.  








Sunday, March 10, 2019

OBE

No blogging today.  I'm OBE. Overtaken by events.

Namely the realization that I no longer own two houses.  I'm taking it easy seeing as how I don't think I've actually felt relaxed since last May.  

I shall return.  

Sunday, March 03, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I'm not ordinarily given to nostalgia.  Or at least not overly much.  But I seem to be finding myself succumbing to it more frequently nowadays despite my best intentions not to.  Then again, as my friend and former colleague Danny said, "You've lived a lot of life lately."

He was in the passenger's seat as we headed to Ft. Smith the beautiful last Friday for a retirement ceremony in honor of another one of our mutual colleagues.  Debbie was hanging it up after 35 years.  Which seemed surreal to me when I pondered that I had been around for @ 30 of them.

I was a prodigy, you see.  That's the ticket.  

And I was down the hall from Danny for the same amount of time.  We hadn't really spent that much time together in recent days what with me living life and him working and being a single dad.  So our trip to the Fort was the first time in years we had really spent any time together.  

So we caught up on old news.  Did some reminiscing about those we loved and those we despised.  And we also spent a good bit of time with the fallback topics of most old guys: money, property and cars.  In our younger days we used to talk about women.  We know as much about them now as we did back in the day.  I guess the clock is ticking faster on the both of us now.  And we don't have the time to waste on issues we understand imperfectly.

The ceremony was in Judge Holmes' ceremonial courtroom.  A good number of our old friends from the Justice Department were there.  Some are still working.  Some aren't. There was much hugging, back slapping and leaning backwards while talking the better to check each other out while wearing bifocals.  

The honoree was positively radiant.  Much to our mutual surprise she acknowledged our presence during her remarks.  Any of a number of the speakers that preceded her pointed out that Debbie didn't have an enemy in the profession.  Which is pretty remarkable given the fact of what we do.  I know I've got them.  And I earned them. 

Speaking of money and property, the sale on my old house is set for next week.  And so I spent a good bit of time yesterday removing boxes and other stuff from the shed.  A couple  of the boxes contained a bunch of stuff from my old office. The one down the hall from Danny.  I hadn't looked at any of it since I left.  I guess I put the boxes of my life in the shed so I wouldn't have to remember some of what went on back in those days.  

After I filled my car up with the last load, I took a final walk around my old house.  Empty as it is now I heard my footsteps echo as I turned on the taps in anticipation of the upcoming freeze.  So the pipes won't blow up for the new owners.  They never blew up for me.  But you never know. 

I looked out the back kitchen window to the deck and cabana in the yard.  All the parties. All the Razorback games.  Back when the Razorbacks actually played down the street at War Memorial. I sat for the last time in the swing where I gave Abigail Straessle her bottle.  

I tossed the keys on the kitchen cabinet.  

"Good bye little house."

Danny's daughter is with him now.  He likes having her around more than he thought he would.  He likes having kids in the house.

I have a daughter now.  We Bowens don't produce girls. I like having Sarah around when she is home from school.  Her brother is still at Hendrix as far as I am made to understand.  That's cool.  I don't get much information. I hear from other Dads that this is not unusual.

I have a beautiful wife who tolerates me.  And you can see the Arkansas River from the front porch on our new house.  All is well.  All is better than I deserve.  I've lived a lot of life the past year.

Danny was momentarily alarmed when we wound up in Oklahoma briefly en route to I-40.  Once we got on the Interstate back around Dora (I actually knew what I was doing) he calmed down.

"Hey," he said. "Ya know?  We did damn good work you and me."

Yeah we did. 

It's enough to make one damn near nostalgic.  Maybe I will open those boxes from my old office one of these days.  










Sunday, February 24, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

My buddy Don has an expression that he uses from time to time.  And it goes something like this: "It's amazing how stupid rich people can be." 

This time he was referring, not to the currant occupant of the Oval Office whose sexual misdeeds are a matter of public record and need not be recounted in this space. Rather he was referring to the pickle Patriots' owner Bob Kraft finds himself in after law enforcement in Jupiter, Florida busted a bunch of massage parlors over there for offering services a little more intimate than trigger point therapy and facials.  Kraft is accused, along with about 165 other guys, of soliciting prostitutes working at the massage joints in question.  And, in keeping with Don's mantra, a former President of Citigroup and a Wall Street billionaire also went down, if you will pardon the expression.

Not only were these rich old goats busted at massage parlors, these particular establishments were under the gaze of a multi-jurisdictional task force involving Special Agents of both Homeland Security and the IRS suspecting them of engaging in human trafficking.  And as is often the case in such matters, to hear law enforcement tell it, the women who worked for this chain of parlors were little more than slaves who were forced to work virtually nonstop in fairly squalid conditions.   This news must please Roger Goodell to no end.  The owner of the Super Bowl champs caught up in a prostitution bust involving human trafficking.  That's a hell of a way to start your Friday if your the Commissioner of the NFL.

Meanwhile, somewhere Jim Irsay is smiling.   


Which brings me back to Don's maxim.  

All things considered, and leaving out the apparent fact that the sex workers involved here may well turn out to be the real victims, I pretty don't care what consenting adults do behind closed doors.  One of the best things I do is I mind my own business.  And I'm not particularly judgmental.  People do what they do.  

But you would think that a recognizable and famous guy like Kraft for whom money is no object would have a little more sense than to go to a massage parlor if indeed he has an occasional itch for extra curricular activity that needs to be scratched.

An acquaintance of mine who knows how this kind of thing works on the professional golf tour told me once that the way you do it is your take out an American Express Black Card in the name of your caddie and you let him make the arrangements for you.  As you might have guessed, this discussion came up during the Tiger Woods imbroglio which proved that Tiger had never heard of this sort of money laundering or just was too arrogant to think he would ever get caught.  My guess is the latter.

I would think Kraft could have disported himself in a more discrete fashion in any of a number of ways.  Or talk to some of his players.  Some of them would know how to go about this low commerce.

I don't get it.

A spokesperson for Kraft says he denies the charges.  The cops, God help us, say they got him on video.  It's amazing how stupid rich people can be.

But Jim Irsay's looking pretty good.








Sunday, February 17, 2019

Swamped

Between grading papers and getting ready for a meeting today I have all I can say grace over.

I will get to the present Constitutional crisis shortly.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

My Sunday Feeling


Lord knows that I did my share of foolish things as a younger man.  And I humbly breathe a prayer of heartfelt relief when I consider that neither smartphones nor the Internet were around when I was out doing those foolish things.  Most of my stupid behavior centered around women and alcohol or any combination thereof.  The majority of my misdeeds, in retrospect, were fairly harmless in the great scheme of things.  And none of them, knock on wood, have come back to haunt me or cause me to invoke any particular period of limitations as my best defense.

Then again, unlike the Governor of Virginia I never posed for pictures while in blackface.  Unlike the Attorney General of the Old Dominion, i never put it on as part of a skit.  

What's the deal?  Is it a Virginia thing?

I grew up here in Arkansas with my fair share of guys whose views on racial matters could charitably be described as unevolved.  I knew folks, especially in my much younger days, who casually tossed around racial slurs without thinking twice about it.  But I never knew anybody who ever put on blackface.  Or Klan robes either.  

As I grew older, I certainly began to make acquaintances that were old moneyed conservative types from the Olde South, whose attitudes were probably not too terribly far removed from some of my fellow rednecks I grew up with on the County Line.  But they were too genteel and mannerly, at least in my presence, to give voice to such attitudes.  I can't imagine them wearing blackface either at some point at a fraternity party or such.  Although I concede I can't swear that some of them didn't.  

Here's the thing I don't get.  A career in politics was probably the last thing on Ralph Northam's mind when he posed in blackface along with a medical school classmate adorned in Klan robes for the med school yearbook.  You're pretty young at 24 or 25.  I get that.  But he wasn't some dumbass 15 year old all jacked up on malt liquor either.  Indeed, he was fixing to go off and start training to be a pediatric neurosurgeon.  Which I would think requires a certain maturity and concentration of the mind.

And a bell didn't go off in his head that warned him that this was a bad idea?  That maybe this might come back to bite him on the ass?

I don't get it.  I just don't.

But here's a fair question.  I earlier made a semi-joking reference to a statute of limitations that I could seek refuge in at this point in my dotage.  But is there a period of limitations when it comes to youthful indiscretions?  Recent experiences with public figures such as Gov. Northam and Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh suggest there may not be.  And maybe that's fair.  Politics is (are?) politics.  It's not the criminal law.  If it matters to voters I suppose that's pretty much all that matters.  

But we as a nation need to get a grasp on just how far back in time we are going to hold our public figures accountable for stupid stuff they did back in the day.  Because sooner than later we are going to see videos and pics of candidates for public office from when they were drunk at a sorority party, sipping champagne from a bottle at a wedding reception or vaping.  It will happen. 

I tell kids all the time that you got to assume that somebody is taking a pic without them knowing it.  Or saving a text or an email for future reference.  I know many young people who are conscientiously attempting to conduct themselves as youthful pillars of rectitude with an eye to the future.  Is a history of avoiding instead of dodging bullets while young the new path for public office?

I kinda liked seeing AOC dancing on a rooftop in her college days.  I thought nothing of Sarah Palin having competed in beauty pageants.  John McCain stayed in hot water with his CO's.  George H.W. Bush kept his still oiled up first basemen's mitt from Yale in his Oval Office desk drawer.  He would pound a ball in it as he thought things through.  Young George Washington chopped down the cherry tree. Except he didn't. You get the picture.

Do we want to just elect robots who have been building resumes since the 9th grade?  Or do we want people with real flesh, real blood and real flaws.  People like you and me. Where do we draw the line?  

As the text of the old anthem by Richard Farrant puts it (and you should give it a listen on YouTube): "Lord for thy tender mercies sake, lay not our sins to our charge.  But forgive that is past and give us grace to amend our sinful lives."  Does that concept not extend to politicians?

What the Governor of Virginia did as a young man was palpably stupid.  Way stupider than anything I ever did as a young man.  And that's going some.  His recent attempt to lame out of it was even dumber.  The Commonwealth's Al-Jolson-In Chief says that he will not resign.  Rather he intends to go about attempting to foment "racial conciliation."  There's some nerve.

But he is Virginia's problem.  If they "forgive that is past" that is their prerogative. 

Having said that, I'm guessing Bill Clinton is really happy he never had to deal with smartphones or the Internet while he was a young politician.  

Really happy.  



  


Sunday, February 03, 2019

My Sunday "The Saints Got Screwed" Feeling

Today is the annual national bacchanal known as Super Bowl Sunday featuring the upstart St. Louis-Oops! Sorry.-Los Angeles Rams against the forces of darkness known as the New England Patriots.  

I'm gonna watch it if no other reason than as my buddy Kenny once said of it, "It's gonna be on.  Might as well watch the damn thing."  So watch it I shall.  But I won't be happy about it. 

That's because the Saints should be in Atlanta today offering themselves up as a perfect and living sacrifice to the Patriots instead of the Rams.  That's because the Rams were the beneficiaries of perhaps the most egregious "no call" I think I have ever witnessed in all the years I have watched professional football.  Including the SEC Division of the league.

There was @ a minute fifty left to play in the 4th quarter.  The Saints had 3rd and 10 on the Ram's 15 or so.  Drew Brees drops back and fires one out to TommyLee Lewis.  Only waaaaaaay before the ball was anywhere near Lewis's mitts he got clocked by Rams DB Nickell Robey-Coleman.  Clocked as in hit in the head.  That's right. Not only was it pass interference in extremis.  It was targeting.  It should have been 1st Down Saints and Robey-Coleman should have been checking out the water pressure in the Visitor's locker room.

Naturally, being the consummate teacher that I am, I took class time last Thursday to bitch about the unfairness of it all.  About how this episode, considered alongside the previous season's epic last play choke job, was the perfect metaphor what misery it is to be a Saints fan.

"Misery?" one smart ass said. "They've been pretty good the last 10 years or so.  Even won a Super Bowl.  Another pointed out the missed face mask on Jared Goff during which he damn near got his head separated from his body.  I drew these misguided attempts to provide perspective to an abrupt close.  What's the point of power if you don't use it?

"I'm not listening to any of this," I said. "I prefer to luxuriate in my sense of victimhood."

The female members of the class thought that was pretty funny.  Hmmmmmm.

So the Saints got screwed, blued and tattooed a week or so ago.  They would probably have lost to New England anyway.  As will the Rams I predict.  And for whatever it's worth the NFL will take another look at whether to allow teams to challenge pass interference plays.  My guess is that they will not.  The games are already too long and they could call PI on every play most likely.  And besides, you can't legislate against incompetence.

So today maybe I will go play some golf and come home to the miscarriage of justice that will be this year's Super Bowl.  There are worse ways to spend a Sunday.

Kenny's right. It's gonna be on.  Might as well watch the damn thing.  






Sunday, January 27, 2019

AWOL Again

Been busy this week trying to wrap my arms around teaching government to college freshmen.  The freshmen won last week.

They will not win this week.

Talk amongst yourselves.  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

I was minding my own business, as I am wont to do, watching a high school basketball game when I got the call the other night.

The voicemail was from a person in the administration at a local college.  They wanted to talk to me about going to work for them as an Instructor in the Political Science department.  That was Tuesday.  As of Friday I was all papered up.  

And Tuesday I will meet my first class.  I will be teaching 3 classes of American National Government for freshmen.  Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Done by 1:30 in the afternoon.  This is a good gig for somebody like me that is semi-retired and likes hanging around at Catholic High.

It's also a good gig because it's a good gig period.

And unlike my last foray into the grove of academe this time I have materials, a syllabus already made and somebody else's game plan.  And it's a good one.  I'm not figuring it out as I go unlike last time.  All I have to do is prepare.  Which I can do.

Why me?  Not to discount the element of Random Laughing Chance entirely.  But I happened to hit a lot of their marks.  I'm a lawyer which fits their requirements for accreditation for this course.  I was in the government for virtually my entire career.  I have classroom experience which in my case means I am VIRTUS certified by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock and I have already passed a police background check.  

Right place.  Right time. That and the guy they approached in the first place didn't want to do it and recommended me.  

I confess that while I am slightly nervous, I am mostly excited.  I am slightly nervous because I have taught before.  And I know that it is a lot harder to be a good teacher than anybody who has never done it knows.  While I won't have the discipline issues in a college classroom (at least I hope I won't) that you have in a high school full of boys, you have to bring your A game everyday.  Because the students deserve it.  That and if you don't they will smell blood.  

Also, I am cognizant of the responsibility that I have to pay close attention to the administrative aspects of my duties as well.  A college transcript is a precious thing.  Grades must be scrupulously rendered and recorded.  For better or for worse.  That was the part that I hated about my last gig.  I loved teaching.  I hated giving people bad grades even when they had them coming.  But that's part of the job.  It's just that the stakes are even higher now.  I know that.

But let's get back to the fun part.  

The ancient Chinese curse is that we might live during interesting times.  And boy, are these interesting times.  I can't think of a better time to teach Government 101.  I am confronted with a veritable child's garden of interesting issues.  The current shutdown, impeachment, whether a sitting President can be indicted, Federalism, the limit and extent of the power of the respective branches of the the Government.  Not to mention the call by some fools for another Constitutional Convention.  And that's just off the top of my head.

It has always been both a wonder for me and a concern to me just how little some people know about their own government.  It seems for all the world that the average guy gets his knowledge about these matters from the sewer pipes of social media and cable TV to borrow from Bret Stephens of the New York Times.  

Well now's my chance to put up or shut up.  And I will start Tuesday morning by passing out  copies of the Constitution of the United States of America and the Amendments thereto.  

And away we will go.  

Wish me luck.  










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.