5.17.2023 – eight years spent longing

eight years spent longing
for Hollywood’s realism
and sincerity

Lawyer, Actor and Politician Fred Thompson described his thoughts on who he might include in his autobiography.

Mr. Thompson wrote:

There were the early days when I was a federal prosecutor.

Then there would be a part about my role as counsel for the Watergate committee, and my part in revealing the taping system in the Nixon White House.

Then, of course, I would relate some of my experiences in the movie business as well as on the TV show Law & Order.

And there would be the eight years I spent in the U.S. Senate (which made me long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood).

The U.S. Senate made me long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.

I am reminded of something I heard Jim Harrison say in an interview that the only way he, Mr. Harrison, could stand being in Hollywood was the knowledge that, due to air travel, he could be back where he lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in just a matter of hours.

Mr. Thompson’s time in the US Senate made him long for Hollywood.

Mr. Harrison’s time in Hollywood made him long for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Have you have been to the U.P.?

I’ll let you draw any conclusions but often I think it is not a question of whether or not this Republic WILL survive, but HOW did we make it this far?

*From Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances by Fred Thompson, Crown, 2010.

5.11.2023 – Toe-curlingly bad

Toe-curlingly bad …
in words of one syllable
George Bush said it best

Quoted now by so many, as George W. Bush left the platform after the inaugural address of President Donald Trump, said to his wife, “That’s some weird shit.”

Not sure that this has ever been improved on.

And it is still applies to the current day.

In his article, “Toe-curlingly bad television: Trump’s torturous town hall backfires on CNN“, subtitled, “Truth didn’t stand a chance as the former president talked too fast to be factchecked and too shamelessly to be interrupted,” David Smith of the Guardian wrote:

The nausea came gradually, then suddenly, and with disconcerting familiarity. We had been flung back in time to the political hellscape of 2016. Only the second time around, it was somehow worse.

By chance I was reading in the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 13, where the Prophet writes about false prophets in Israel saying, “Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.

And it reminded of a another country.

Especially when Ezekiel went on to say …

Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, even if these three men — Noah, Daniel and Job — were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.

even if these three men …



and Job …

were in it,

they could save only themselves by their righteousness,

declares the Sovereign Lord.

Folks, last time I checked, those three men, Noah, Daniel and Job, weren’t anywhere near us.

4.23.2023 – if you are going

if you are going
into a food fight, always
come with the most food

Not making a statement on either side, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times made me laugh when in her opinion piece, DeSantis’s Puddin’ Head Campaign, she quoted David Axelrod saying, “If they’re going to get into a food fight, Trump always comes with more food.”

First, though I have to recognize Ms. Dowd for the homage Mark Twain’s The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson (please read if you haven’t – you won’t regret it) where the assembled crowd notes that, after the man (Mr. David “Pudd’nhead” Wilson) in question said something dumb, was a … “Perfect jackass — yes, and it ain’t going too far to say he is a pudd’nhead. If he ain’t a pudd’nhead, I ain’t no judge, that’s all.”

Then let me go to the simple wisdom of the Axelrod quote which I boiled down to today’s haiku.

if your are going
into a food fight, always
come with the most food

Is there a better description of our current political system as it now stands?

Back in the day I went to college in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Due to many and various reasons, I was starting in the Winter term, not in the fall like most folks.

Due to this, finding a place to live was a problem but through a kind hearted brother-in-law, I wound up ‘boarding’ at a frat house.

Living and dining at a frat while not a part of it.

It was a good deal.

I had a room, laundry facilities and meals.

When I signed my papers, it was explained to me that if I took a kitchen job to help out, I would get a break on the dining fees which is how I ended up making Sunday Noon Dinner for 40 guys but that’s another story.

We ate family style at 3 long tables.

The dishes for the meal where set down at the end of each table and then passed along and we helped ourselves.

There was this one kid who managed to arrive late for dinner one or two times a week.

The empty seats were always the furthest from the food and he would rush in late, sit down at the far end of a table and immediately ask for everything to be passed his way.

One night, this feller ran in and sat down, late, next to me at the end of the table, but before he could say anything, one of the other guys yelled out, “Pass the meat, please!”

Someone else yelled out, “Pass the potatoes, please!”

“Pass the bread, please!”

Then they stopped saying things and just passed everything on the table, napkins, salt & pepper shakers, dirty plates, everything was passed down.

Desserts had just been set out and the dessert was passed down and I found an entire banana cream pie sitting on the table in front of me.

The feller in question was oblivious to all of this but on the other side of me sat Bob.

Bob was a frat boy.

Bob was, in the most 1980’s way, preppy, stuffy, spoiled and insufferable.

I looked at the pie in front me.

A banana cream pie that could have come from the kitchens of the Three Stooges I am telling you.

I looked at Bob in his pink izod, dockers and duck shoes.

Bob looked at the pie and he looked me dead in the eye and started to say, “Don’t even think about it!”

He got as far as “Don’t …”

Bob later told me that he counted to ten before he reacted.

If that was true, he counted by banging my head against the table.

I had picked up the pie with both hands, without turning, and with one fast motion, lifted the pie to my left and into Bob’s face.

As Mr. Twain (again) would write about dropping a watermelon on someone’s head from a third floor window, “I doubted the judiciousness of this, and I had some compunctions about it, too, because so much of the resulting entertainment would fall to my share and so little to the other person.”

To this day I doubt the judiciousness of this, and I had some compunctions about it but it was, above all else, really funny.

I was laughing all the time Bob was banging my head on the table.

When Bob stopped I sat back with tears coming down my face, making streaks in pie smears.

Bob, himself covered in pie, grabbed double handfuls of pie and threw it in my face and then rubbed his hands through my hair for good measure and left the room, slamming a door.

It was not until then that I noticed that the explosion of pie had led to a general food fight in the dining room.

Rolls, handfuls of potatoes, jello (a real accomplishment if you ever tried to throw jello) and whatever else was left from dinner was all flying through the air.

I had read about such things but, truly, this was the only food fight I ever experienced.

The place was a mess and after things calmed down, the guy who functioned as frat steward stood up and asked everyone to leave and that I would be staying until the place was completely clean.

I stood up, accepted the responsibility for the moment and apologized for the mess and got to work on the clean.

Then a goofy thing happend.

I would guess about 10 or 12 other guys pitched in and helped me with the clean up.

Afterward we went somewhere and I bought them all a beer and thanked them.

I made a toast of thanks and then I had to ask, why did they help me?

They all laughed and one guy spoke for all of them.

Are you kidding?” he asked?

You got Bob!”

3.18.2023 – the times are changing

the times are changing
or, tempora mutantur
… and we change in them

Or Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, which can be translated as:

Times are changed; we also are changed with them


Times are changed; we, too, are changed within them.

We change WITH the changes?

We are changed BY the changes.

In the first, we change to meet the challenges brought by change.

In the second, we are changed by those challenges brought by change.

I have to say that things have changed in the world of politics in the time that I have been around.

Not to mention any names, but there was a time when, if a candidate for ANY OFFICE, from dog catcher to President of the United States, was named in headline, just NAMED, about an encounter of any kind, from a cup of coffee, to the beast with two backs, with anyone, let alone with a porn star, that candidate would be FINISHED.

Can anyone remember Gary Hart?

But Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.

Times change and we changed with or we were changed by the times.

The current news cycle has a story about a candidate for Public Office who had a ‘tryst’ with a porn star.

No one denies that this happened.

No one denies that the candidate was married at the time.

No one denies that the candidate arranged for hush money to be paid to the porn star to keep the story quiet.

(UPDATE: truth be told, rereading the accounts, the candidate in question DOES deny the tryst took place 3/18/2023)

What is at question here is whether or not the candidate paid the porn star off with funds diverted from political contributions.

Because using money to pay off a porn star so the porn star would keep quiet about their ‘tryst’ would be WRONG if the money used to pay off the porn star so the porn star would keep quiet about their ‘tryst’ came from political contributions.

There is a tragedy here.

And it is not about the candidate.

That old wise man changed with the changes, watched and learned, and built a house on the rock with a firm foundation.

That old foolish man was changed by the changes and saw his house on the sand go splat.

3.6.2023 – dystopian farce

dystopian farce
it is laughable if you
don’t have to live it

Adapted from the line, “It’s pretty much a dystopian farce,” said Kathleen Miller Green, an assistant professor of child development who attended the nearly six-hour, capacity-crowd meeting at the school’s student union building on Feb. 22. “It’s laughable if you don’t have to live it.”, in the New York Times article, The Politicization of North Idaho College, by Daniel Berehulak.

It was too good a line with too much application to today’s United States to let it go past.

“It’s pretty much a dystopian farce,” it’s laughable if you don’t have to live it.”

So quoted is Kathleen Miller Green, an assistant professor of child development at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, a town of 56,000 in the Idaho Panhandle.

See, according to the article, the county Republican Party holds a majority on the North Idaho College board. They have denounced liberal “indoctrination” by the college faculty and vowed to bring the school administration’s “deep state” to heel and “Make N.I.C. Great Again.”

I apologize to the people of the great state of Idaho but saying, Make North Idaho College Great Again out loud makes me laugh.

It’s IS laughable.


Until it isn’t.

And it isn’t as we all have to live it.

And is isn’t as it isn’t just the North Idaho College, it is small colleges, schools, churches, libraries, township boards and zoning commissions everywhere.

It gets very scary quickly.

Here in the low country of South Carolina, a feller was convicted of murder pretty much evidence from his own cell phone that showed where he was, or at least where his phone was (and he was NEVER with his phone), how his phone moved around, whether in a car or walking and what he used his phone for.

While I have little problem with this specific case, think of how, in general, we are all being tracked.

All that data is there.

All that data is real.

All that data can and will be used against you.

Live a good life and you got little to worry about.

Still, there is a concern over WHO has control or even access to this data.

Imagine a local police force, or for example, the Michigan State Police (an awful awe inspiring title when you think about it, so says Jim Harrison) with access to the data.

Or worse, imagine the North Idaho College Board of Regents with access to this data.

Tracking faculty.

Tracking students.

On the one hand, It’s pretty much a dystopian farce,”

On the one hand, it’s laughable

On the other hand, it’s laughable if you don’t have to live it.

And we all have live it.

We all have to live with it.

What part of this is making us great again?

For decades, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a daily column called simply, My Day.

If you wonder why any one would care about Mrs. Roosevelt’s day, just look at the subheadings in the online archive.

They include, White House Years (1935-1941), White House Years (1942-1945 WW2), United Nations, (1946-1951- Post UN years (1953-1962).

In her December 12, 1953 Column, she wrote about attending a meeting to celebrate Brandeis University and she commented about the ‘Red Scare’ that dominated US politics at the time.

She wrote: The attacks on our schools today and on our clergy are of course only incidents but they reflect a little the attitude toward educated people.

We are all of us opposed to the evils of fascism and communism but in fighting these evils we must beware lest we adopt the very methods used by fascists and communists and find ourselves destroying things of value in our own country when what we really are trying to destroy is a foreign concept with which we disagree and yet which we are being led to copy.

2.22.2023 – citizens by birth or

citizens by birth or
choice, of a common country
name belongs to you

Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections.

The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.

With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles.

You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together.

The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts – of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

From the Farewell Address of George Washington.

The preface of a memorial edition printed by the Senate of the United States in the year 2000, states:

In September 1796, worn out by burdens of the presidency and attacks of political foes, George Washington announced his decision not to seek a third term.

With the assistance of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Washington composed in a “Farewell Address” his political testament to the nation.

Designed to inspire and guide future generations, the address also set forth Washington’s defense of his administration’s record and embodied a classic statement of Federalist doctrine.

Designed to inspire and guide.

I am not sure who came up with the wording for With slight shades of difference as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison helped out, but I have to marvel.

With slight shades of difference.

Citizen’s by birth OR choice.

The name that BELONGS to you.

The name of American.

The name that BELONGS to you.

Citizen’s by birth OR choice.

With slight shades of difference.

Words you could spray paint on a wall somewhere …

Appropriate reading for the General’s Birthday, 2023.

2.12.2023 – would not be a slave

would not be a slave,
not be master, my idea
of democracy

Abraham Lincoln is one of those people whose every written word and every public utterance has become almost sacred.

His Presidential papers were donated, by his son Robert, to the Library of Congress.

In the description to the collection at the Library of Congress, we read:

The papers of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), lawyer, representative from Illinois, and sixteenth president of the United States, contain approximately 40,550 documents dating from 1774 to 1948, although most of the collection spans from the 1850s through Lincoln’s presidency (1861-1865).

Among those 40,550 documents is a scrap of paper with some words in the handwriting style of Mr. Lincoln.

It says:

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.

This expresses my idea of democracy.

Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is not democracy.

As one writer says of this scrap of paper, The provenance of the tantalizing document is questionable, as is the date, although the editors of his collected work conjectured that he wrote it on August 1, 1858.

The provenance of the tantalizing document is questionable yet the words on the scrap of paper were included by Aaron Copeland in his Lincoln Portrait.

If you search Aaron Copland and Lincoln Portrait on You Tube you can here the words of Mr. Lincoln read by:

William Warfield

James Earl Jones

Phylicia Rashad 

and even

Aaron Copeland himself.

Anyone of you should give yourself a present on this 214 anniversary of Mr. Lincoln’s Birthday and listen to any of these version on this February twelfth.

My favorite is the one I embedded in this post with narration by Henry Fonda.

It is my favorite for two reasons.

One, with Mr. Fonda playing Young Abe Lincoln and with the midwestern twang, I feel this is kinda close to what you would have got with Mr. Lincoln.

The second is that it is the first version I ever heard when I heard it on a record I checked out of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

The list of recorded narrators is really quite impressive as it allows anyone who can read a chance to record with a symphony orchestra.

The list includes, Barack Obama, Margaret Thatcher and Willie Stargell.

Still, the narrators read the words written by Mr. Lincoln.

It is good to note that while the settings and music provided this piece were in no way imaginable by Mr. Lincoln, it all seems altogether fitting and proper that they appear together.

Mr. Copeland himself liked to tell the story that a performance of the Lincoln Portrait in Venezuela was credited with sparking the popular uprising that led to his removal from power.

Mr. Copeland related that “On that evening Juana Sujo was the fiery narrator who performed the spoken-word parts of the piece. When she spoke the final words, “… that government of the people, by the people, for the people (el gobierno del pueblo, por el pueblo y para el pueblo) shall not perish from the earth,” the audience rose and began cheering and shouting so loudly that Copland could not hear the remainder of the music. Copland continued, “It was not long after that the dictator was deposed and fled from the country. I was later told by an American foreign service officer that the Lincoln Portrait was credited with having inspired the first public demonstration against him. That, in effect, it had started a revolution.

It should also be noted that because of his leftist views Copland was blacklisted and Lincoln Portrait withdrawn from the 1953 inaugural concert for President Eisenhower.

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln!

1.28.2023 -times when picture worth

times when picture worth
thousand words – what happened to
Great in Great Britain

It was Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, the Irish writer, who said, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life“.

Mr. Wilde felt that the reason life imitated art was the, “… result not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy.”

I have no problem with this.

And I suppose there are no rules or guidelines as to which art to imitate.

And it seems that Great Britain has decided to skip ‘The Thick of It’ and ‘Yes Minister’ and go straight to imitate Monty Python.

I feel that all I have to say or can say on the subject is illustrated in the above photo.

Who are these people?

From what slime at the bottom of a genetic gene pool were they scrapped up and presented to the world as viable political leaders?

Oh Boy Howdy, but do I love this photograph.

It says it all.

All you need to know about what happened to the Great in Great Britain.

I put it to you that you had been able to take this photograph to Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin and asked, can you come up with a sketch that presents these two as the leaders of Great Britain, they might have said it was possible, but even in the World of Monty Python, who would believe it?

According to Wikipedia, “[The British Empire] At its height, was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35.5 million km2 (13.7 million sq mi), 24 per cent of the Earth’s total land area.”

Great Britain WAS Great.

There were leaders who put the GREAT in Great Britain and it was felt all around the world.

Not arguing here if that was good or bad but I will say this.

I remember talking with a friend years ago who had just spent time in Canada and Australia and I asked her what she felt those folks thought about the US and the relationship with Britain and those countries.

Her response was that the people she met regarded the US as the country that was able to get out, but I digress.

As I was saying, one time Britain had a hand in the live of a quarter of the worlds peoples and a say over a a quarter of the lands available in the world.

Now they make deals where they don’t even know if they are or aren’t or maybe might be in charge of Northern Ireland.

The picture illustrated the article, Why is British politics a raging bin-fire? Don’t ask the misunderstood heroes who held the torches, by Marina Hyde.

Ms. Hyde writes that these leaders fell they failed because their, ” … visions have been betrayed by someone or other in one way or another, when the reality is they were undone by such trifles as “the voters”, “reality” and “the consequences of their own actions”.

Ms. Hyde finishes with “it’s possible – just possible – that the real victims of betrayal are not all these politicians, but the public.”

As the Pythons would say, “Now … for something completely different …”

Notice, they didn’t say better.

1.25.2023 – President has more

President has more
absolute executive powers
than any ruler

The important words that I could not hammer into place in this haiku are, “… in theory.”

Today’s haiku was adapted from a paragraph in Nelson’s History of the War (Vol. IX) (Thomas Nelson, London,  1915) by John Buchan where Mr. Buchan worked towards explaining The American Philosophy of Politics on the chapter titled, THE STRAINING OF AMERICAN PATIENCE.

(GOSH, 9 Volumes already published as of 1915 and three more years of war to go? BTW, it does run to 24 volumes all together!)

Mr. Buchan wrote:

These reasons decided public opinion, and, since in America public opinion is the true sovereign, President Wilson was loyal to his master.

The President of the United States has in theory more absolute executive powers than any ruler in the world.

But he is bound to an unseen chariot wheel.

He dare not outrun the wishes of the majority of the citizens.

His pace is as fast as theirs, but no faster, or he courts a fall.

A true democracy is a docile follower of a leader whom it has once trusted.

But an incomplete democracy such as America demands not a leader but a fellow-wayfarer who can act as spokesman.

Hence it was idle to talk of President Wilson’s policy as if it were the conclusions and deeds of an individual.

It was his business to interpret the opinion of America at large, and there is no reason to believe that he erred in this duty.

I have heard this explained more than once, in more than one book, in more than one lecture, by more than one writer or Professor.

The most important job any President has is to EDUCATE THE PEOPLE, one of favorite Professors pounded into my brain.

Once educated, the people will understand what the President means to do.

Once the people understand that, they will also support what the President means to do.

Search on YOU TUBE for FDR’s fireside chat on February 23, 1942.

The White House would ask the Newspapers to print a World Map so that listeners could follow along with the President as he traced around the world and focused on trouble spots and where American military forces were in action.

I always thought to myself, can it be this simple?

How can it be this simple?

How can it be this simple and still almost impossible to do?

How can it be this simple and still almost impossible to do today?

Then I re-read that paragraph I quoted today.

There is that one word in there.

The word at the end of this sentence.

A true democracy is a docile follower of a leader whom it has once trusted.



So simple.

And I do love that line that reads, “But an incomplete democracy such as America demands not a leader but a fellow-wayfarer who can act as spokesman.

I have been watching these reports of everyone taking Top Secret documents home as home work, I guess, and I see that these folks look to live in some really nice homes.

Not like much anything like most of my fellow-wayfarers get to live in, but I digress.

1.23.2023 language certainly

language certainly
infelicitous surely
makes its purpose clear

I had to look infelicitous up.

I had to look infelicitous up, but I really really like the word.

Notice is that the word looks to be very close to inflection or the modulation of intonation or pitch in the voice, but the word is infelicitous.

It is an adjective that means unfortunate or inappropriate.

As in the sentence I read today that started; While the language is certainly infelicitousthe historical context makes its purpose clear.

The best part of the sentence is that part where I substituted the ellipsis.

The entirety of the sentence as used in the opinion piece, The Constitution Has a 155-Year-Old Answer to the Debt Ceiling, by Mr. Eric Foner, is:

While the language is certainly infelicitous (surely Congress could have found better wording than declaring it illegal to “question” the validity of the national debt), the historical context makes its purpose clear.

I have to admire any optimist.

And anyone who feels that surely, Congress could have found better wording.


Our Congress?

The Congress of the United States?

Surely, The Congress of the United States could have found better wording rather than using wording that was unfortunate or inappropriate?

That, dear reader, it what I call optimism.

Not wanting to be infelicitous but I am reminded of Sir Humphrey Appleby when he said, ” … the traditional allocation of executive responsibilities has always been so determined as to liberate the ministerial incumbent from the administrative minutiae by devolving the managerial functions to those whose experience and qualifications have better formed them for the performance of such humble offices, thereby releasing their political overlords for the more onerous duties and profound deliberations which are the inevitable concomitant of their exalted position.”

Infelicitous my butt.