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."