Sunday, July 05, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I love the smell of cordite in the morning.  Beyond that I have nothing to allow on this, the 5th of July.  

Except that I might have liked to have been a fly on Jefferson Davis’s wall on this day in 1863.  

Talk to you later.  

Sunday, June 28, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

They own it.  I suppose that they can change the name if they want to.  Yesterday, Gayle Benson, widow of Tom Benson and owner of the Saints, the Pelicans, numerous car dealerships  and Dixie Beer announced that they had decided to change “Dixie” to a less racially tinged brand name.

Anybody that knows me and has followed this blog-all 10 of you-knows that I am sympathetic to those who wish to erase Confederate iconography from public places.  Especially that iconography that was funded and maintained by tax money.  And I get that the song “Dixie” is associated with the Confederacy, mistrel shows (which were mercifully before my time), white supremacy and, worst of all, Ole Miss.  This despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln thought it to be a pretty snappy tune.

But to paraphrase Mr. Justice Kavanaugh, “I like Dixie Beer.”  When I was at Tulane, Dixie practically flowed from the drinking fountains.  You could get it for a quarter a glass at most of the bars around campus.  On Fridays in the spring Dixie would send a truck with about 5 taps per side.  We would sit in the Quad and drink free Dixie and eat free crawfish.  Granted, Dixie is not the best beer ever brewed.  Indeed, some would say it is an acquired taste.  But it was ubiquitous in nature in Orleans Parish and I have fond memories of it and those times.

The old brewery on Tulane Avenue over by the med school downtown looked like something  out of “Bride of Frankenstein.”  A friend of mine in Covington, where I last bought a case of it, told me that her Dad’s first job as a 13 year old boy was to shine the silver dome at the top of the tower of the old brewery.  Things were different then.  

Back in the day, New Orleans had 2 or three breweries.  Jax and Falstaff were brewed there as well.  When I was in school you could see the smokestack of the old Jax brewery from the top floors of the grad school dorm.  At night the word “JAX” was illuminated.  One of the letters was always burned out.  The brewery was empty back then.  It’s highest and best use was to give the bums a place to sleep.  Now it is a shopping mall and aquarium.  

And despite it being the lone survivor of New Orleans brewery history, Dixie was not the brew of choice for New Orleanians of a certain age and station.  As was described to me by a semi-reliable informant classmate who was raised in the Ninth Ward, there was the infamous “bad batch” of Dixie that got past what was euphemistically referred to as “quality control.” 

Seems all commercial brewers inject gas into their products to give it that nice foamy head when you pour it into a glass. Not to get too technical on you.  But this is referred to as “good” gas.  There is also a gas that is a byproduct of the brewing art that they bleed out of the mash.  This is called-guess what?-“bad” gas.  Well one fateful day, somebody screwed up and took the good gas out and injected the bad gas in.   

Anyway, the infamous “bad batch” that escaped the brewery up and killed some folks before they could get it all back.  And just like that a generation of your basic Yat types became Miller drinkers.  

What’s a “yat” you ask?  In some places in town you are not greeted with “Hello! How are you?” Instead they call out “Hey! Where ya at?”  I have heard this. These sorts of indigenous people are referred to as “Yats.” 

Anyway, Katrina destroyed the old brewery.  The old owners sold it to Miller if I am remembering correctly under some other brand name.  The Bensons bought it back and Dixie was reborn with a new brewery out in New Orleans East.  Old Tom said he bought it so he could drink on the job.  Your average Saints fan could be excused for wondering whether Tom had tipped the bottle a time or two during his tenure as owner.  

So, as you can see, me and Dixie go back a long ways.  I can scarcely conceive of New Orleans without Dixie.  And now, just when you can buy it here in Little Rock -and not at a stick up price-they are going to change the brand name.  

I say you have to draw the line somewhere.  As far as I’m concerned they can knock down every Confederate soldier in every courthouse square  in, well, Dixie.  They can disinterr Nathan Bedford Forrest and re-bury him in Forrest City.  They can set fire to the State Flag of Mississippi. They can rebrand Rebel Yell because I don’t drink it anyway.  And speaking of whiskey, they can change the name of the University of the South to Jack Daniels University if for no other reason than the distillery is down the road from “the Domain” and the streets on its property aren’t named for Confederate officers. And while we’re at it, for God’s sake get rid of the Redskins, the Indians and the Braves.  

But leave Dixie alone.

You can’t change my history.   









Sunday, June 21, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I had to see it for myself.  There used to be a statue of a Confederate soldier out in front of the Arkansas Museum of Military History downtown in MacArthur Park.  You know. Defensive position with bayonet and equally steely gaze pointed north.  Somebody had defaced it with varnish or something last Wednesday.  So on Thursday, the City of Little Rock took the damn thing down.

No hoopla.  No press conference.  No demonstration.  No nothing.

They just went over there and pulled Johnny off his pedestal.  Then they surrounded the pedestal with a wooden box.  I first learned about it from Friday morning’s paper.  I suspect that’s the way that most folks found out about it. And sure enough it was true.  I saw it with my own two eyes.

My thoughts?  I really don’t have any.  Other than it’s kinda surreal for a big honking piece of public art to not be there after being there all my life.  I vividly remember it greeting us elementary school kids when we went over there for field trips.  And a couple of years ago I went to see Johnny around dusk to try my hand at arty farty photography.  I failed.

I have always been ambivalent at best about “Lost Cause” iconography.  At worst I found it all overwrought and silly.  I remember the first time I ever saw Robert E. Lee way up in the air on Lee Circle.  I pulled the car over.  I got out and stood at the base and gawked.  I used to run from my hovel on Napoleon to Lee Circle most days.  And most days I would catch my breath beneath old Bobby and marvel at how “out there” Lee Circle was. 

And I suppose that, being a middle class white kid, I was just not attuned to the wider implications of the glorification of guys who pretty much under any other normal definitions that might govern armed conflict and/or political science committed treason against the United States of America.  I just thought “this is how they do down here.” Down here being Mississippi and Louisiana.  

Sure.  Back home we had rednecks waving the Rebel flag at Central High.  And Rebel flag bumper stickers were once abundant in nature around here.  But to consider Arkansas part of the antebellum south is ludicrous.  

Still.  I didn’t think much about it one way or another.  Background noise. That’s just the way they do down there.

I eventually was required to confront the issue.  And what forced the confrontation was, as is often the case, kids.

I was teaching high school history for juniors about the time Trump was running for the Republican nomination.  I think the Robert E. Lee thing had just cranked up down in New Orleans.  Anyway, about a third of the boys in each of my classes were incensed by the notion of taking down statues, pulling down flags etc.  About a third were all for it.  The rest could give a shit.

“You can’t change history Mr. B,” was the most persistent argument of the preservationists in front of me.   My response that so long as the Army War College exists so will Lee was deemed a little too facile.  Or would have been so deemed had any of them ever heard of that word.

Huey Long said that sometimes you got to put the hay down where the goats can get at it.  So I sat on my porch swing after school one day and cooked up some goat feed.  The final product went something like this.

“Let’s say I’m a black guy in Memphis.  I have a wife and a family.  I have a good job.  I pay my taxes just like anybody else.  And every day when I go to work I have to drive past a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest.  Nathan Bedford Forrest who was as ruthless a slave owner as ever was.  Who made a fortune off the slave trade.  And finally I get to thinking I’m sick of driving past a monument to a man like this.  And I really don’t want to have to explain to my children why they got to look at it either.

I know you can’t change history.  I’m not trying to.  I can’t bring back the lynched.  I can’t unseparate the families.  But what I can do is make damn sure that my children don’t have to look at Nathan Bedford Forrest every day.  I can damn sure try to make sure not another nickel of my tax dollars goes to the upkeep of that thing.  

And your only response is that you can’t change history?”

You may well ask ,Gentle Reader, “Did it work?”

And the answer would be “Of course not.”  I wasn’t exactly running the local chapter of the  “Dead Poets Society” in there.

I run into some of those guys from time to time. Or they look me up on Facebook.  They typically share with me a favorite memory of those days.  And it’s different with each former student. Some things I emphasized went in one ear and out the other.  Somethings I didn’t think all that important is remembered with crystalline clarity. I bet if you talk to any teacher they will tell you that this is pretty much par for the course. The fact that a kid remembers something-anything- is a win.

 But maybe some of my former students will remember the lunch Huey Long and I fed them 5 years ago as our country currently confronts the systemic racism embedded in much of our public art and iconography.  Racism that I didn’t ever really catch as a young man who looked up in the sky in wonderment at Marse Robert 3-4 times a week while I ran the streetcar lines.  Maybe my history boys will recognize that there is another side.  If they can do that, then I did my job.

“I pay my goddamn taxes just like anybody else.  And I am sick of looking at this.“

There are worst arguments.  











Sunday, June 14, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I got nothing.  Or, more accurately, I got too much.  

Let me ponder the situation and get back to you.

Wear your mask.  Wash your hands.  

Don’t be a jerk.  

I will report back later.  

Sunday, June 07, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I can't quite put my finger on it.  But things feel different.  Not particularly good.  Not really hopeful.  But different.

It is popular nowadays to refer to tipping points.  Ok. If the present moment is a tipping point what was its cause?  

The bungled response to the pandemic by this Administration?  The evisceration of the economy?  Unemployment numbers that rival those of the Great Depression?  The brutal torture and killing of yet another black man by the police?  A man who was completely subdued and in cuffs?  Who called for his mother as his life was being choked out of him? 

The ensuing, and occasionally violent protests across the nation?  Subjecting peaceful protestors to rubber bullets and tear gas in order to clear the space they occupied for a photo-op?  Was it the President-who is hardly known for his deep religious convictions-using a Holy Bible as a prop in front of a church whose door he hasn't darkened since his inauguration?

Was it the millions of people who still haven't gotten their unemployment or their Paycheck Protection loans?  Was it the threats of the use of active duty servicemen and women against Americans?  

Was it this week's jimmied up unemployment numbers?  The ones the President said George Floyd was smiling down on?  

Was it his inane promotion of quack cures and dangerous treatments?  Was it the criticism from all former presidents?  Was it the condemnation by his former head of the Joint Chiefs and Chief of Staff?  Was it the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs stating that he was opposed to using the military for law enforcement purpose?

Was it property destruction and mass arrests in an otherwise peaceful-well, peaceful if you're white-town like Little Rock?  Was it seeing my wife in her clerical collar join a protest with other clergy downtown with her daughter?

Was it noticing that the coronavirus cases here are spiking again?  Was it the lack of a vaccine?  Was it wondering how we're going to do school much less sports?   

Was it the Trump Administration trying to end Obamacare during a pandemic?  With no alternative to replace it with?  Is it the low esteem with which we are held by our European allies?  Upon whose shores much blood and treasure was expended on yesterday's date in 1944?

Is it the fact that the President is fundamentally incapable of empathy?  Of kindness? Of appealing to what Abraham Lincoln famously referred to as the "gentler angels of our nature?"  Trump likes to say he learned how to be tough from his late lawyer Roy Cohn.  Big difference between Donald Trump and Roy Cohn.  Like Trump, Roy Cohn was live evil.  But Roy Cohn was smart.  Donald Trump has a big mouth.  He is not particularly smart.

Is it the fact that the man who is leading-check that-in charge was freaking impeached?

And all of these calamitous events-or three of them at least(the pandemic, the crash and the execution of George Floyd) -took place within 6 months.  

I believe that America is a good country populated primarily by good people.  I believe it or I would like to believe it.  I get the sense that people, even maybe people that were willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt in the last election are weary of the incompetence, the meanness, and the constant drama.  

We are 5 months from November.  That is an eternity in politics.  But, for all of these reasons, I sense a tipping point.

And if it's not? God help us.       

Sunday, May 31, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

You could fill a thimble with what I know about psychology.  But I believe that the phrase "cognitive dissonance" pertains to things we experience that don't quite fit within our experience.  When things just don't look right.  However you define it, I'm pretty sure I  experienced it Wednesday morning.

I was driving down a major artery in the neighbors en route to the running track at school.  Suddenly I saw something low to my left out of the corner of my eye.  I looked in my side mirror and thought I saw a little boy, a baby really, walking down the sidewalk.  

I was like, what?  That's not supposed to be there.

I hung a left and went around the block.  There he was.  A toddler. No more than 3.  Barefoot and in his jammies walking toward me bigger than Dallas.  I started slowing down.  I guess that spooked the little guy because he turned and ran the other way.  I followed him as he went up the front steps of one half of a house.

I pulled onto a side street and got out of the car.  He was banging on the storm door and calling "Mommy! Mommy!"

What to do?  Apart from hoping that Mommy would open the damn door that is?   I started to go up the steps to bang on the door myself.  

But then I thought of George Floyd.  Certainly not in the sense that I feared any retaliation by the cops.  I'm white.  I'm older.  As far as I know, I'm not wanted for anything. I drive a late model car festooned with stickers that indicate that I am well educated although just because you have a particular school's sticker on your car doesn't mean much.  My stepson is a Georgia Bulldog fan for reasons that are by no means clear to me and despite my attempts to raise him better.  He has the red "G" on his truck.  Perhaps it is for "Go Figure."

No.  I was hesitant to intervene further because between the pandemic, the horrifying circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Floyd and the outbreak of protest afterwards along with the fact that there are touchy white folks out there with too many guns, I thought it not outside the realm of possibility that I might get shot for my trouble.  I mean, what's scarier than seeing a lost child with a stranger?  

And it occurred to me that "aint that a hell of a thing to have to worry about at a time like this?"

So I developed a plan.  I was not going to leave the little boy who was not particularly disturbed by my presence thank God.  I decided to give Mommy a couple more minutes to get her ass to the stoop and then I was going to call 911.  Let a cop knock on the door.  

A few minutes later I heard running down steps in the back.  A man who I assumed was Daddy came tearing around the corner with a cell phone in his hand.  He was obviously terror-stricken.  I came around my car with my hands held out to him as if to say "Whoa!.

I pointed to the porch.  

"He's right there.  He's OK.  I stayed with him."

The man scooped up the boy and held him close.

"Thank you," he muttered.  

"Look man," I said. "When I first saw your kid he was halfway down the block walking around like he owned the place."

I was yelling.  I am not a yeller.  

"Thank you. Thank you."

About that time a car pulled in behind me.  Lone female driver.  I figured it was Mommy.  

And I figured things were fixing to get real with Daddy.  I'm prescient like that. Besides, I had done my civic duty.  The child was safe.  I had experienced enough drama for one day.

Later on I wondered, and still do, whether my reluctance to put my hand on the child and knock on the door myself was justified. Or paranoia.  Or both.

But I know this.  The whole country seems to be on fire in 9 places at once.  And at a time when we could use a leader in the White House we have a rageaholic who seems intent on fanning those flames.  People are on edge.  And there are too many guns.

Still.  

Aint this a hell of a thing to have to worry about when you're trying to get an escaped child home?

I mean really?   

I believe they call it "cognitive dissonance." 








Sunday, May 24, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

If memory serves, it was right around Katrina.  The United Methodist Church (back when there was such an entity) ran a series of ads.  The one I remember most showed a scene of devastation.  Police directing traffic.  Sirens.  People lined up to get food from a canteen van.  Rain.  Flashing lights.

A young man's face was superimposed on this scene.  His countenance was solemn if not grim.  He looked the viewer directly in the eye so to speak.  

"Do you recognize this?" he asked as nodded his head back toward the scene.

"This is church."  

I thought of this ad about the time that the Moron-in-Chief took it upon himself to threaten to "override" any particular governor's orders limiting crowds of people to gather so as to "open the churches."

Now, as a matter of Constitutional Law the Commissioner of the NFL has as much authority to "override" the governors as the President does.  Actually, Roger Goodell probably has more.  Let's see what happens if the Mayor of New Orleans tries to stick to her position that the Saints are not going to play in the Superdome during this crisis without permission from her office.

As Bugs Bunny used to say, "It is to laugh."

But hell this is football we're talking about.  That's important.

Besides Saints fans can just get all those bags out of storage and cover their faces that way.  It was good enough then.  It should be good enough now.  

But I ramble.

The cynics among us view this latest typically unenforceable edict by Trump, praying man that he is known to be,  against the states to be a dog whistle at the  evangelical types in his base alerting them that he is not letting "the State" tell the churches that they have to keep their doors closed. 

I'm willing to bet that this was his target audience because most "mainline denominations" including the Formerly United Methodist Church have voluntarily shut their doors for the time being.  This is not due to slavish obedience to government fiat.  They did it to keep their congregations and visitors safe. Think about it.  Off the top of my head I can't think of a better way to spread germs around then singing hymns and having Communion together. It is hard to maintain social distance at the Rail.  Which is, of course, the very idea.

But other folks, most of whom probably enjoy a closer walk with the Almighty than I do God knows, have pointed out the flaw in what passes for Trump's reasoning.  "Church" is not a building.  People are the church.  Church is what happens when you visit the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and try to bring aid and comfort to the victims of a natural disaster. 

But "Church" in this sense is not particularly narcissistic. It is outward directed. Not inward.  It is "Go out into the world to love and serve the Lord." It is not "Go out into the world to bitch incessantly about how unfair it is for you to have to wear a face mask before you can gain entry into Taco Bell."

But I will grant you this.  

Nobody takes up a collection at a disaster site.  They do at the Lakewood Church.

I'm certain that this latter consideration had absolutely nothing to do with the latest toothless pronouncement from the Roger Williams of Pennsylvania Avenue and FOX News.  










   

Sunday, May 17, 2020

My Sunday "On The Record" Feeling

And now, a little something from the public recorded. Where EVEN YOU can look up the facts if you are so inclined.


"The preceding statement is a summary, made for the purpose of providing the Court with a FACTUAL BASIS for my guilty plea to the charge against me.  It does not include all of the facts known to me regarding this offense. I make this statement KNOWINGLY AND VOLUNTARILY because I am, IN FACT, GUILTY of the crime charged.  No threats have been made to me nor am I under the influence of anything that could impede my ability to understand this Statement of the Offense fully.

I have read every word of this Statement of the Offense, or have had it read to me.  Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11, after CONSULTING WITH MY ATTORNEYS, I AGREE and STIPULATE to this Statement of the Offense, and DECLARE UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY that it is TRUE AND CORRECT."

Defendant's Acceptance of Statement of Offense in United States vs. Flynn, USDC No. 17-cr-0232 at Document 4.  Executed by Defendant on November 30, 2017 (emphasis supplied).

"I have read this Statement of Offense, and have REVIEWED IT with my client FULLY.  I CONCUR in my client's desire to ADOPT and STIPULATE to this Statement of the Offense as TRUE AND ACCURATE."

Attorney's Acknowledgement of the Defendant's Acceptance, executed by both attorneys for Flynn on that same date.  

                                                *******

" I cannot recall any incident in which the Court has ever accepted a plea of guilty from someone who maintained that he was not guilty and I don't intend to start today."

Transcript of United States District Judge Emmet Sullivan at the sentencing hearing of Michael Flynn on December 18, 2018, pg. 7, lines 15-17.

THE COURT: "All right. Thank you, Counsel. Thank you both.  Mr. Flynn, anything else you want to discuss with me about your PLEA OF GUILTY?  This is not a trick. I'm not trying to trick you.  IF YOU WANT SOME TIME TO WITHDRAW YOUR PLEA or TRY TO WITHDRAW YOUR PLEA I'll give you that time.  If you want to PROCEED BECAUSE YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS OFFENSE, I will FINALLY ACCEPT YOUR PLEA.

THE DEFENDANT: "I would like to PROCEED, Your Honor."

THE COURT; All right. BECAUSE YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS OFFENSE?"

THE DEFENDANT: "YES, Your Honor" 

THE COURT: All right. I am satisfied that Mr. Flynn entered his guilty plea while COMPETENT and capable.  He UNDERSTOOD the NATURE OF THE CHARGES AGAINST HIM and the CONSEQUENCES OF PLEADING GUILTY. Having carefully  read all the materials provided to the Court in this case, including those materials reviewed under seal and in-camera, I CONCLUDE that there WAS AND REMAINS to be a FACTUAL BASIS  for Mr. Flynn's PLEA OF GUILTY."

TRANSCRIPT OF SENTENCING HEARING, page 15, lines 21-25 and page 16, lines 1-15. 

Elsewhere in the transcript Flynn told the Court he knew that lying to the FBI was a "federal crime" and that he had no "challenge with the circumstances" by which he was interviewed by the FBI. He was given the opportunity twice by the Judge to withdraw his guilty plea before the Judge accepted it and he declined it both times (Actually he was given the opportunity three times given the colloquy above. Not only that,his attorney advised the Court that he did not believe that Flynn had been entrapped.

Now I don't know if Flynn's attempt to withdraw the guilty plea under these circumstances constitutes Criminal Contempt of Court or not.  

I do know that it's pretty clear that, as the old expression goes, Michael Flynn has done pissed off the Judge.  And that ain't gonna help him any.

These are indeed amazing times in which we live.  There are as many amateur experts on Federal Criminal Procedure running around on Facebook nowadays as there are amateur epidemiologists.

You can get your news from FOX if you want. But you can’t deny that this is what the man told the Court under penalty of perjury.

As the Old Perfesser Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.” 








Sunday, May 10, 2020

My Mother’s Day Feeling

Too much action going on for blogging today.

Happy Mother’s Day to you (if you qualify) and your’s.

Talk amongst yourselves till next week.  

Sunday, May 03, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I am reminded lately of an old expression in my line of work.  

"Everybody thinks they can coach baseball and practice law."

I will add to that.  "Everybody nowadays think they know more than experts."  

Way back in the day, back when I was a humble civil servant, I used to have to contend  with every nutbar shitbang legal theory that was percolating out there, primarily in the world of people that owed the government money. Let me try to remember some.

"The government does not have jurisdiction because I am a Christian Sovereign Citizen and I do not consent."  This I referred to as the "You can't sue us. We're Baptist" defense.  

"I am entitled to a trial because the filing fee represents a contract between me and the clerk.  So you can stick that Motion for Summary Judgment."

"The Amendment that created the IRS was invalid because Virginia is a Commonwealth and not a state."

Und sehr wider.

Typically, these "arguments" as such were put out by people representing themselves.  And any lawyer can tell you that a pro se litigant is the bane of our collective existence.  I remember one of these fools had somehow gotten ahold of an opinion letter I had written to the client agency authorizing them to do whatever oppression they were doing to this lady.  Her defense was that my opinion was "wrong" on the law. And she wouldn't come off that opinion in our deposition of her.

The exasperated Assistant United States Attorney led her down the path.

"Did you graduate from high school?"

"Yes." And she named the school and the date.

"Did you go to college?"

"I attended Northeast Louisiana."

"Did you graduate?"

"I did not."

"So you didn't go to law school did you?"

"No."

"And you don't have a license to practice law do you?"

"No."

"Did you know that my colleague here (that would be me) graduated both college and law school? And that he holds a license to practice law up in Arkansas? And that he's done so for 20 something years?"

"I assume that's true."

"And yet you think you know more about government regulations than he does?"

"On this one regulation I do."

Which she learned to her eventual consternation was not true.  Or at least her argument failed to impress whatever United States District Judge she tried to fly it past.  

I don't recall if this delightful encounter was prior to the Internet or not.  But I know this.  Expertise is no longer valued in this country.  Thanks to the Internet in our present age you have any of a number of crooks and nuts (sometimes both) peddling pseudo science and paranoid theories that have gained a purchase in the minds of some and created constituencies that insist that "belief" trumps knowledge.  The effect is that all kinds of people are like my old defendant.  They don't care what they are told by the authorities or professionals.  They don't believe stuff because they have a right not to.  And that is all that matters to them. 

And in Michigan, some of them protested government quarantine orders there by marching on the statehouse armed to the teeth.  I remember a day in the not so distant past when such behavior would have resulted in arrests (or worse).  Those idiots in Lansing should thank their lucky stars on the Confederate flags some were waving (talk about mixed signals) that the cops guarding the building were calm and professional.  

But is anybody surprised at this when we have a President who muses aloud during news conferences about unproven drugs (Chloroquine), quack remedies (injection of disinfectants) and who urges armed cranks to urge states to "open up" when his own administration urged them to "close down." And now the United States has the highest number of dead in the world during this pandemic.  

This must be said.  From what I can tell the vast majority of folks that are taking to the streets are white folks.  I wonder what the outcome would be if a crowd of black men with the same right to openly carry weapons as their cracker brethren took to the streets.  I just wonder.

Godalmighty.  Science doesn't cease to be science just because you don't "believe" it.  You cannot vote out the coronavirus or declare a shooting war against it.  I'm not saying that you don't have the right  to believe whatever damn fool notion that is rattling around inside your head.  I am saying that exercise of rights can be a delicate thing in a democracy.

You say you have a right not to cover your face.  Fine. I have a right not to let you in my store.

You say you have right not to vaccinate your child.  I have the right to ban you and your child from my medical office.

You say you have a right to go back to work.  Actually you don't.  But even at that your employer has the right not to call you back until there's work for you to do.  

You get my point.  

I don't know more about infectious disease and vaccinations than Dr. Fauci.  Most likely neither do you.  Just because you don't "believe" him doesn't make him wrong.  Just because you listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh doesn't mean you know the first damn thing about the law.

By the way.  Practicing law and coaching baseball ain't easy.

I know.  I've done both.  

Trust me.





  






Sunday, April 26, 2020

My Sunday Comfortably Numb Feeling

I believe that one should speak primarily when one has something to say. Ditto with writing. Or blogging if you don’t consider that to be writing. 

I have nothing to say. Nothing of much import in any event.

So I will catch you later. 

Be careful out there. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

My Sunday Feeling

I don't know much.  But I know this.

I'm glad I'm not in law school.  

Not because law school, especially the first year, is a completely soul killing, brutal and largely costly experience.  Although that is reason in and of itself do be glad that this endeavor is in my distant past.  

The job market is nothing short of dismal.  And this was before the pandemic.

It is my privilege again be a mentor to first year students here at the local law school.  I tend to like this gig.  I like being around young people.  And I have been fortunate, with the exception of one complete, and I do not exaggerate, psychopath to have likable, well rounded, law students in my charge.  

This year's models will be writ on history's immortal scroll as two of my favorites.  A is a cheerful sort, a horsewoman from Tennessee.  J is a country boy from a little town in the Ozarks.  He is a baseball fan.  He also possesses an acerbic sense of humor and a deadpan mode of discourse.  J and I understand each other for some reason.

Anyway, as if the first year of law school were not sufficiently traumatic, they are now forced to divine the secrets of the law through Zoom or Google Classroom.  I can't imagine.  I have had meetings with Zoom that typically involved no more than 5 high school boys.  It can be pretty confusing with all of the cross-talking that typically goes on.

Multiply that by a factor of 5 online with a bunch of mouthy future lawyers.  I found law school instruction on a face to face basis to be fairly incomprehensible at times.  I just can't imagine trying to absorb the law school experience over the Internet.  I just can't.

But these kids were raised on the Internet.  I was not.  They are making do.  J told me the other night that he rather liked doing law school from his home in the hills.  It's turkey season in Arkansas.  He hunts in the morning and studies in the afternoon and at night.  A enjoyed having horses underneath her again when she was back home.  They both also said they didn't much miss being around other law students.

And boy I get that.  However, I have to say that I enjoyed my law school buddies, then and to this day.  Then again, none of us were regarded by our fellow classmates, or the faculty come to think of it, as the second coming of Learned Hand.  Look him up.  So there's comfort in that.

They have both asked me how I think this national emergency will change the practice of law.  Which is only their future profession. And I tell them I don't know.  It is too early to tell.  If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the big firms will be fine.  But will they offer clerkships for this summer?  A law firm is a business like any other.  When the economy is bad it affects them.  I'm guessing that solo practitioners that are young in the practice will get hit the hardest right off the bat.  Too many-at least for my tastes-young lawyers are forced to "hang out shingles."  If nobody is coming through the door, or if they can't get into court (which they basically can't right now as courthouses all over Arkansas are shut down) they don't make any money.  

But what do I think is going to happen?  I don't know.  I've seen a thing or two in my day but I've never been through a global health crisis.  

The best answer when you don't know is to say "I don't know."  So that's what I say.  

I suspect many business models in all kinds of businesses are about to be rewritten.  That's about all I feel comfortable predicting.

J acknowledges that he feels a great bit of uncertainty about the future.

"But you know?, he said. "I'm glad I'm not a 3L.  I've got two more years.  Maybe things will have straightened up by then. I don't know what those folks are going to do."

Let me rephrase my earlier remarks.  I am glad that I am not in law school.

But boy am I glad that I'm not a 3L in they year 2020.  

I don't know what those folks are going to do.    






Sunday, April 12, 2020

My Easter Feeling

It is Easter and the churches are empty. 

 In this time of pandemic, it is simply too dangerous to gather together to seek the Lord's blessing or to gather together (in groups greater than 10 at least) for pretty much any other reason.  So the churches, while empty, are making do with live stream broadcasts of their services.  Here is a question for my theologically inclined peeps.  Does the priest's (for example) blessing at the conclusion of the service still "count" if it is broadcast digitally?  

I ponder about such things when I have time on my hands.

The churches may be empty but we have a full house here.  Fortunately, it is a big house.  And nobody owns a handgun.  We will get through this.     

It is Easter and one of one the logical fallacies of classical logic informs a substantial portion of our public discourse.  I am referring of course to the Argument from Ignorance or "argumentum ad ignorantiam" as us pedantic showoffs would say.  My mother's formulation of the argument was " You don't know (whatever fact-free notion in the favor of which she was advocating at that moment) that it's not true."

Or here's an example.  We don't know for certain that the moon is not made of swiss cheese.  Therefore it is made of swiss cheese.

Or here is one from current events. "We don't know that chloroquinine won't work with people who have the Covid-19 virus.  Therefore we should try it."

An annoying manifestation of this application is an apparent run on tonic water in the neighborhood by amateur pharmacists who are self-medicating with Canada Dry.  A  MEDICAL DOCTOR of my acquaintance put it best:

"I could have saved those folks a lot of trouble.  The quinine in tonic water is not the same as in the medication.  However, they are both alike in that neither has been proven to be effective against Covid-19." 

Or as my NURSE PRACTITIONER brother Bob said, "They don't know if chloroquine is going to be effective against the virus.  They do know that it screws up the heart's electrical system in some folks.  So you have to be careful who you give it to."

The run on tonic water is merely an annoyance which will force me to dilute my Brokers with club soda.  Or to drink it straight if my nerves are especially frazzled at the cocktail hour.  But giving medication for an off label purpose without adequate testing because you don't know that it won't work is irresponsible. Or at least used to be.  

But we don't trust expertise in this country and haven't in sometime.  Those eggheads tend to make things complicated.  And some of us just know that we're not getting the straight story.  Therefore they-the media, government, every authority figure other than Donald Trump (for God's sake) are lying to us.

I can forgive Mother.  Any widow raising 4 boys on her own is entitled to use any weapon at her disposal.  TASS, I mean FOX, Pat Robertson,  and other cable network blowhards, along with the President of the United States, not so much.  


It is Easter.  And paranoia abounds.  

The following must be a thing on Facebook as I have seen it various iterations of this post on-naturally-Facebook:

" It sure seems strange to me that the economy of the greatest country on Earth has ground to a halt over a virus.  Does it seem strange to anybody else?"

I was tempted to respond thusly:

" Not to me. It's not that complicated.  Our economy is largely a service economy.  We don't so much make stuff anymore as provide goods and services.  As you may recall, the mayors and governors across the land, shut down the schools, imposed social distancing and sheltering in varying degrees, and ordered non-essential businesses to close.  All of these measures were indicated to slow the progression of the virus.  The state and local authorities were forced to take the lead, and for the most part admirably so, due to the complete lack of leadership from the Moron in Chief.  Anyhoo, due to the fact that people are staying at home for the most part and not spending as much money as usual what we are seeing is what is known by the economists as a variant of the "Paradox of Thrift" that states that when consumers save money on a large scale, a service economy suffers because they aren't spending money.  Which has a ripple effect.  But you are way too stupid to accept this as a plausible explanation for the present crisis preferring instead to place blame on the takeover of the Federal Reserve by the Jews or some such nonsense."

But that would be a waste of typing.  So I didn't do it.

Or you can believe, as an acquaintance I ran into on my walk yesterday does, that the "soft crash of the economy (whatever that is)" is not due to the pandemic.  According to her there is no pandemic.  Which would certainly come as a surprise to the medical professionals in my life and family. No. It is the takeover by " the New World Order."  She whispered this info to me in case the lady pushing a stroller next to us was wearing a wire I suppose.

I was tempted to respond thusly:

"Well, it's hard to reconcile a "takeover" by a world wide monolith in the face of the upsurge of nationalism here in the West.  But you are...."

Well you know.  

It occurs to me that conspiracy theorists surely have never heard of Sir William of Ockham who devised what came to be know as "Ockham's Razor" which states that when one is confronted with two conflicting propositions, the simpler explanation is preferred.  Ockham's Razor has served me well in the practice of law and in dealing with teenaged boys.   

And in picking out sense from nonsense.  

It is Easter.  Got help us.  It is Easter.

Love may have come down at Christmas but hope resides in Easter.

Be careful. Stay well.  

Hope resides in Easter.  The simpler explanation is preferred.  

We will get through this.  

  




Sunday, April 05, 2020

My Sunday Not Much To Report Feeling

Let’s see.  What did I do last week?  

Not much.  Took walks.  Went to the driving range 2-3 times.  Did a Zoom meeting.  Practiced law.  Read magazines.  Read books.  Watched it rain.  Talked on the phone.  Texted.  Emailed. Instant messaged.

Like I said.  Not much to report.  

And with that, I will sign off.

Take care of yourself.  You’re the only one that can.

See ya next week.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

My Sunday Socially Distant Feeling

Finally, some halfway decent news.  Golf courses and driving ranges are opening back up.  The USGA put out some guidelines a week or so ago about how us hackers can return to stinking up the real estate consistent with safe practices during the current plague. 

In general, courses are confining folks to one in a cart.  The flags are to be left in.  Bunker rakes and ball washers  are removed.  Starters are sending folks out every 10 minutes instead of 5.  Clubhouse access as well as food and beverage service are curtailed.  People playing together are expected to keep their distance.  

This is doable.

 I went to the range twice last week in an attempt to reconstruct a swing.  The guy nearest to me was 50 yards away easy.  I wanted to actually try to get in a round yesterday but I didn't feel like getting caught in a rainstorm.  There will be plenty of opportunities.  Especially since there's nothing much else to do.

It was good to be out there.  It felt like normal.  Like life as I knew it had returned.

Obviously, that's not true.  But it was good to let my concern limit itself to why I keep pulling everything with the new driver.  If only for a little bit.

As for us we are doing OK.  We have a big house.  So we can practice social distancing even for anti-social reasons.  The Deacon has kept busy with her school stuff.  I have been busy actually practicing law.  And Joe will start his online classes next week.  It's good to have things to do.

In fact, the biggest problem I have encountered is that the present crisis must have rendered my speech unintelligible.  At least my speech while ordering take out.  The last 4 orders I have placed have all gotten screwed up.  As far as problems go, there are far worse.  I know.  And I'm not complaining.  The restaurant folks are under stress of the worst sort.  They are doing the best they can.  But still.

As far as the virus directly affecting me, as far as I know I don't know anybody that has tested positive.  My brother Bob doesn't have any cases at the hospital.  Yet.  That will change.  It is bound to.  But so far so good.  

Like you, we are inconvenienced.  We are bored.  We are probably a little more apprehensive than we would like to admit.  We are ready for this to be over even if we know intellectually that we cannot know the day or the hour.  

There was an interesting piece in the paper yesterday written by some military type.  He was writing about which POWs did worse in captivity during the war with Viet Nam.  He wrote that it was the guys who always looked to a date certain-Christmas or Easter say-for their release.  He wrote that the guys who fared the best were the ones who remained hopeful but did not repose that trust in a date on the calendar.  

I think that's the best way to approach the present crisis.  Which of course is precisely the opposite of what the Moron-in-Chief has floated recently when he said he wanted folks back to work by Easter.  According to what I've read most public health experts find this to be a dubious proposition.  So naturally, he will probably ignore them.

Going back to golf, here's my prediction.  I predict that that the PGA and LPGA will be the first professional sports back.  For the same reasons that golf courses and driving ranges are coming back on line.  Golf can be safely played given rudimentary sanitary precautions.  Now there may not be any spectators allowed to walk the course with them.  But I see no reason why professional golf can't start staging events in front of cameras. 

I believe Major League Baseball will soon follow golf.  A prominent epidemiologist was quoted in last Sunday's New York Times that baseball could be likewise safely played in outdoor venues with no spectators in the stands.  That may be true.  And spitballs would be cut way down if for no other reason than catchers won't want to have to throw them back.  These issues could be worked out in the locker room.

So there are my predictions.  About things that don't much matter all things considered.

I also predict that someone other than me will be phoning in the takeout orders around here for the foreseeable future.  As far as problems go, we don't have any.  



Sunday, March 22, 2020

My Sunday Shelter In Place Feeling

I have a rule of thumb when it comes to technology.  When you need it to work, it will not work.  Last night my iPhone caught the coronavirus or something and went flatass dead.  And two days before that, my printer, which has been acting up off and on for a couple of years finally pissed me off for the last time when the scanner tried to eat a K-1 I was attempting to send one of my brothers on behalf of the Trust.  

I am mindful of the fact that we need to practice social distancing during this crisis.  And part of that entails not making unnecessary trips I get that.  But you need a phone that works, especially during a national emergency.  And I have paying customers who expect me to get stuff done next week.  In the age of electronic filing you need a scanner that is on speaking terms with the computer that is creating the docs you are getting paid to crank out.

Apple Stores are closed nationwide.  So I went to the AT&T store up the road.  Quite frankly I dreaded it.  I have never gotten in or out of one of those places in less than an hour.  

As I got out of my car I noticed a handsomely dreadlocked employee standing out front.  He held his hands up in the universal "stop right there" gesture.

"Sir, is this an emergency?  All we are doing is emergencies until further notice."

"My phone is dead."

"What do you mean 'dead?'"

"As in it won't turn on."

"Let me see it, please."

He took the inert iPhone from me.  He fiddled with it.  He put it close to his face to see if he could discern any signs of life.  Evidently he could not.

"Oh yeah.  This ain't good. You need a new phone.  This ain't fixable. Come with me.  We'll see who's available."

Thus did I pass consumer electronics triage as practiced by  AT&T.  

The young fellow that assisted me found me an IPhone 10.  I had no need for an iPhone 11. Even if it has what Apple refers to with in all seriousness  as a "telephoto" lens. Anyway, the young technician got the data transferred over from the dead phone to the new one. I noticed that over by the front door people were being turned away.  Some of them were not to happy about it.  Especially the guy who was wearing the surgical mask.  Anyway eventually the young man set me up on a new plan that he assured me would save me money.  After we both had a good laugh over that one, we touched elbows and I was on my way. 

Concerning the printer, as far as I can tell I bought the last HP 9015 to be had around here.  The big box office supply store was out of it and many other consumer grade HP printers.  I found one online at a sister store west of here and headed out there to pick it up.  

The pickup area was full of people waiting to take delivery of orders they had made online.  A nice clerk wandered among the assembled throng to remind us to make some room between us.  Social distancing and all.

It was pretty interesting as a matter of sociology.  People were buying office chairs, desks, computers and, well, printers.  

It's really true.  America is working from home.  Now this is a good thing for people that have jobs that can be done over the phone and Internet.  But there's an unfortunate ripple effect for others whose livelihood depends on folks like me being downtown.  If I'm working from home I'm not likely to walk over to the diner to get a sandwich-albeit a takeout sandwich-at lunch.  My car won't be parked in a parking lot or garage.  I won't drop my clothes off at the laundry on the way in.  No need to dress up.  The judge doesn't know if I'm wearing a suit during the teleconference or if I am in a my golf stuff.  Nor does she care.  

It really is true as the Moron-in-Chief is learning to his sorrow.  Everything is connected. Commerce.  Finance.  

Viruses.  

How this all shakes out is anybody's guess.  But as I have said before I fear that things have changed in this country.  We shall see if any good possibly comes out of this terrible terrible time.  

As for me, I've got the new phone synced up with my car.  If you send me a text while I am driving Siri will read it to me in an Irish accent.  I scare myself. 

Perhaps I will ask her about the Troubles.  Maybe she will put things in perspective.  

Beats turning to TASS, I mean, Fox.  




Sunday, March 15, 2020

My Sunday Death In Venice (Or Hillcrest) Feeling

I'm sure I've never seen anything like this.  I remember some kind of flu going around during the Ford Administration where there were mass inoculations performed the government.  I caught that bad flu that was going around about 2000 or so.  First (and so far only) time in my life I couldn't get out of bed. And that was after taking the flu shot.

But the recent coronavirus, or rather the government's inept response to it, has produced an economic and social disruption on a mass scale.  The stock market tanked, grocery store shelves are bare and toilet paper is damn near legal tender.  And for the second time in my life, the first being 9/11 I can't find a ballgame on the tube.  In March.  When generally all kinds of cool stuff is going on.

But I also realize that not being to watch the NCAA Tournament is nothing in the vast scope of things.  This pandemic has the potential to strain the medical system in this country out to the max.  People infected here in Little Rock will die.  Not many more than likely.  But people will die.

I am not typically an anxious person.  But I have the same sort of free-floating angst that I experienced during 9/11.  Only maybe a little worse now.  I can't really figure out why.  Maybe it's because I've been a little sick with a nasty case of bronchitis that is only now starting to clear up after two weeks of shots and horse pills.  Maybe it's because it is because I have a family now and feel th need to protect them.  Although it's not like I can go out and buy a gun or something.  Although I've never gone through quite anything like this, I'm used to slogging through major problems by myself.  I feel a greater responsibility than I did.  indeed, Joe will be back home tonight.  Hendrix College shut itself down for the remainder of the semester.  The family that pandemics together stays together.  

Maybe it's because I am in the so-called group most that is most "at risk" for an unfortunate outcome in case of an infection.  I'm in my sixties and I have asthma.  I do not need this.  No I do not.  

But am I in a panic?  No.  I'm pretty good at keeping my eye on the ball.  Apart from my lousy upper respiratory system I enjoy robust good health.  Up until I was struck down by my latest spell I was exercising regularly.  I'm married to a medical professional who is also an ordained minister of the Gospel.  That's pretty strong ju-ju.  And while the word "pandemic" is kinda scary, I know it refers to spreadability of the virus and not its lethality.  If I catch it I am unlikely to croak.  


I think if I take sensible precautions I will be fine.  I like where I live.  I stay here a lot anyway since I don't have to go into an office on a daily basis.  We eat here a lot.  That's one of the side effects of having a vegan wife.  She cooks a lot.  I am by my nature a clean person so I don't worry over much about picking something up off the street.  Especially since I don't work in a government building anymore where every malady known to man comes in and drinks from the water fountains.  And the Deacon and I have already been practicing social distancing of a sorts and have tended to keep to opposite ends of the house during this amusement.  I've been coughing and she treats germy little kids.  It just makes sense.  My doctors don't have time to fool with my nickel and dime problems.  

And although it is really strange not to be able to watch sports, it won't be so bad.  I got plenty of stuff to read, movies to watch and law to practice.  Nobody has said that getting out in the fresh air is incompatible with social distancing.  In fact, if the weather is pleasant I will spend most of my time on my front porch and take walks so I can get plenty of it.  

But my God.  There's no denying the hardship all of this is putting on people.  Churches are shut down.  In Lent they are shut down.  Schools all over the country have closed.  Which means folks that can't afford day care will have to stay home from work.  Some kids may not be able to get the one solid meal their school provides them per day.  State and local governments are scrambling to try to provide services against an enemy made up of many moving parts.  And the fingerpointing and paranoia on social media has reached radioactive proportions.  Real scientists are forced to slug it out with amateur epidemiologists who got their degrees from Facebook.  The scientists seem to be finally getting up off the mat . So far.

Maybe the anxiety in the back of my heart has to do with the feeling that nobody at the top levels of government seems remotely competent in its response to this crisis.  And even though it is ramping up now, the reaction up until now has been slow and inadequate.  Thank God we have a sensible and pragmatic governor in Asa Hutchinson who thus far has hit all the right notes and has provided calm and steady leadership.  Unlike our alleged Commander-in-Chief, whose occasionally unhinged worldview world and concerns extends no further than TV ratings and poll numbers.       

This is the greatest country in the world.  And its being run like a kindergarten.  I take that back.  A kindergarten run in this fashion would lose its license.

But there's nothing I can do about that.  At least not until November.  

Joe will be home tonight.  This means, God help us, we will have to go to the grocery store because pandemic or no pandemic the boy consumes mass quantities.  And we don't have sufficient provisions in the commissary yet.  

We will get through this.  We will return to a patchwork normal.  But I fear that this pandemic has changed us forever.

And maybe that is where the anxiety is coming from.