Tuesday, October 24, 2017


What's coming

People often ask me the same question, since I am in criminal law: "Do you think Donald Trump will last his full term?"

It's a pretty good question. There has not been a president in my lifetime who seemed to have such a precarious perch on the position. There are a number of things that could end Trump's term early. I list them here in order of probability:

1)  Resignation

It seems clear that Trump does not like this job. He liked the campaigning, with the adoring crowds and the applause, but that is not much of what he gets to do these days. I suspect that Robert Mueller is going to indict at least some of his friends and family, and I'm not sure he can handle that. The politician he resembles most closely is Sarah Palin, and she quit early as Governor of Alaska. I can see Trump taking the same path.

2)  Impeachment

For many Republicans in Congress, Mike Pence is the President that they want. While impeachment would enrage Trump devotees in the Republican base, if the Mueller investigation reveals significant wrongdoing it is a possibility. He probably would resign before proceedings were completed, though.

3)  Death

President Trump does not seem like a healthy man. I hope this does not happen, but he seems to be a much more of a cardiac risk than his two immediate predecessors.

What do you think the odds are of any or all of these?

Monday, October 23, 2017


Oh, cats

My dad wrote this one... but I don't recognize the cat!

that cute small black cat 
would smile and act like my friend

just to find a home.

The Medievalist got to the true nature of "el gato":

Fuzzy assasins,
Looking for something to kill,
Don’t be fooled by cute.

And IPLawGuy went for really-disturbing (in a poem he wrote while apparently driving his car to William and Mary's homecoming:

Hello Kitty pic
Reminds me, She is not one
A young girl, really.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Sunday Reflection: Consoling the grieving

This week, Donald Trump took a lot of criticism for his call to the family of a soldier who died on duty in the African nation of Niger. I'm sure he fell short of the ideal, but I also am hesitant to criticize him because I am not sure I could do so much better myself. Consoling the grieving is a difficult and subtle thing.

I am never sure quite what to say. I know it is important to be there, to be present. I know that it is important to love those in pain with selflessness, and to listen if they are willing to talk. But... what to say is a challenge for me.

"I'm so sorry," is what I usually say. If I knew the person who died, I try to say something about them, about what they meant to me. 

I'm pretty sure, too, what I shouldn't say. That would include the following:

-- That the death must have been what God desired 
-- That "all things work together for the good" or something like that
-- That I understand their loss (I probably don't-- I am not them)
-- To tell some story about myself

Some you out there have been in the position of either needing solace or giving it, well. What is the best (and the worst) things to say or do?

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Detroit makes its bid

Detroit's video for the Amazon HQ2 is pretty cool:

Here is the video for Worcester, Massachusetts (which contains the claim that it was the birthplace of the smiley face):

And here is the video for Los Angeles (I'm not sure they put a lot of work into it):

And Quebec City just recycled some old footage:

I think it is looking pretty good for Detroit!

Friday, October 20, 2017


Haiku Friday: Cats

A few weeks ago, a black cat sauntered into my yard, looked in the window, then lazily stretched out on the front walk like he owned the place. They have this way of doing that, don't they? It's fascinating and a little weird.

So let's haiku about cats! Here, I will go first:

Our feline was "Chuck"
He seemed to be retired
Mice would come to him.

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable formula, and have some fun!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: What's the Matter with Republicans?

That was the title of Ross Douthat's piece in the NY Times yesterday.

He makes a lot of sense, writing from the conservative side of things, in comparing Trump negatively to George W. Bush. Here is part of what he says:

.... But if you prefer pessimism, you’ll dwell instead on the second takeaway from Thomas Frank’s Trump-era vindication — namely, that a depressing percentage of American conservatives seem perfectly happy with the bargain that Frank claimed defined their party, with a president who ignores their economic interests and public policy more generally and offers instead the perpetual distraction of Twitter feuds and pseudo-patriotic grandstanding.
This dispiriting contentment is the sentiment you see from some of Trump’s blue-collar supporters, who love his uncouth rhetorical war on his fellow coastal elites so much that they’re willing to forgive him his threadbare policy agenda or else trust that gridlock and inertia will protect them from Republican bills whose actual contents they might probably oppose.
It’s also what you see from a segment of religious conservatives, like those gathered at last week’s Values Voters Summit, who cheered rapturously for an empty, strutting nationalism and a president who makes a mockery of the remoralized culture that they claim to seek.
Note that I don’t mean the religious conservatives who supported Trump reluctantly and in a transactional spirit, and who welcome his conservative judicial nominees. I mean those who plainly prefer his brutish braggart’s style to the sort of public decency that Bush or, in a different way, Mitt Romney offered — and who either spin elaborate fantasies about Trump the Christian or laud him as a Conan-esque warlord they think will drive their enemies before them.
For these Trump-besotted believers, you get the sense that the Bush administration’s attempts to devise a substantial socially conservative agenda, from bioethics to marriage promotion to faith-based initiatives and more, are remembered not for being timorous, limited or flawed (all of which they were) but for being simply boring. Far better to have a president who really sticks it to those overpaid babies in the N.F.L. and makes the liberals howl with outrage — that’s what a real and fighting conservatism should be all about!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Well, there goes the marijuana...

Apparently, one victim of the California wildfires has been that state's marijuana-growing industry, which is centered in three northern counties. This is happening right before the legal recreational marijuana market opens up there, too.

So what does it mean? In short, prices will be higher-- just like anything else where supply is restricted. The same was true with illegal marijuana, of course. I'm constantly baffled how our approach to illegal drugs ignores the way markets work. We assume that constricting supply will "cure" the drug problem. That's just not realistic. It can, at best, temporarily raise the price, and that might be a good thing, but it is neither dramatic nor lasting so long as demand continues.

And why do Americans like drugs so much? And shouldn't that be the first question we ask, not the last one?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017



I love my dad's picture on his blog this week (you can find the whole thing here). Here is part of what he has to say in the accompanying post:

It is interesting that we go through our day doing things like scratching our heads or we stir a cup of coffee with a definite rhythm even though it is not necessary. A steady rhythm is a basic part of human life starting when we were in a comfortable place with only our mother’s breathing and heartbeat. Even after we are thrust into a less peaceful environment we often seek out a calm place where we are alone with our natural rhythms. We try to walk and talk at a steady pace. We check our watches when we run to keep ourselves on a steady pace. We easily fall asleep riding in a train with the steady click clack of the wheels on the tracks and drift off when we hear the consistent sound of waves on a beach.

It is not surprising that this steady beat has been essential to our music. The pulse of our music starts us dancing or at least nodding our heads or tapping our feet to the beat. We all like to believe we have rhythm.

It's true, isn't it? (except the last part-- I am under no delusion that I have rhythm).  Later, he's got this:

Detroit’s jazz, like the city itself, is know for its persistence. The music maintains a powerfully steady beat from beginning to end. It is who we are and the reason the city  has turned out legions of great bassists and drummers. This has allowed Detroit to be a dynamic town for experimental music.

To the roots, Dad!

Monday, October 16, 2017


The Medievalist dreams of Autumn

I feel for the Medievalist. He wrote this last friday:

The heat of summer
Has finally gone south and
Frost covers the grass.

I asked if that was true in Waco-- and it wasn't.  It was in the 90's there. Sigh.

Also Texas-y was CTL:

Seems Waco's summer
Has settled over Houston
On its southward trek.

And Jill Scoggins told a perfect little story:

Morning. I open
the door for the dog. He
brakes! The air’s now cold!

But Christine gave me an image that lingered:

Driving, roadside stand,
A field of colorful Mums
I stop and pick one.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Sunday Reflection: The sins of the powerful

Harvey Weinstein, ugh.

The stories that have come out are just horrible. It's bizarre that it did not come out sooner, given the remarkable scope of his actions. BUT... there is a reason it didn't come out. He was powerful. People knew what could be lost if they told the truth.

People have such a desire for power, to get a position where they hold the fate of people and projects in their hands. It often has to do with money, but it is more than that. Something deeper and often darker is at work within that ambition.  One thing that comes with power is the ability to get away with stuff. One powerful person explained that dynamic here:

"When you're a star they let you do anything."

You add that power to misogyny and what comes out is destructive to all of us.  And by now, this is not news.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Costanza Wallet

I'm having a little bit of a "Costanza Wallet" situation lately. I did a little inventory, and my wallet contains all of the following:

-- transit passes from 3 cities
-- unidentifiable hotel keycard (marked only with a Papa John's ad)
-- gas receipts
-- faded receipt from what appears to be "D_ug G-rr---f--s LLC
-- customer card from defunct Farmer Jack grocery store
-- lucky $2 bill

So, I'm open to suggestions-- what needs to go?

Friday, October 13, 2017


Haiku Friday: The Fall

This is such a sensual time of year-- when all of the senses can be engaged with what surrounds us. Originally, haiku were themed around nature and the sense of our surroundings that poetry encompasses so well.  

Please, write a haiku about what you see, taste, feel, hear, smell in this sweet season. I will go first:

There you are, red leaf
Taken to air, rustle, fly 
Fall, pile, gather, love.

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5-7-5 syllable formula and have some fun!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: What Happens Now?

In the past week, as Puerto Rico continues to bleed, a new series of sex scandals regarding a powerful man emerged, and the threat from North Korea continued to escalate, the President of the United States seemed obsessed with his personal feuds with Senator Bob Corker and his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. He made fun of Corker's height and challenged Tillerson to an IQ test face-off, among other things.

This is what a lack of leadership looks like. Exactly like this.

But, Marshall's got it, I'm told.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Still relevant

This 1965 debate between William F. Buckley and James Baldwin is remarkable. It reflects issues we still wrestle with, though portions of the Buckley position is rarely articulated in public (though it often is in private, I suspect).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Like the 2000's all over again!

It hasn't been a great year for Baylor football.

They had a pretty big shakeup last year, of course, which included the departure of Head Coach Art Briles and a bunch of players in the wake of the sexual assault scandal at the University. At that point, for a while, football was viewed as not so important at Baylor, which was pretty appropriate given the situation.

They paid a lot of money to bring in a new coach, Matt Rhule, from Temple (though probably not as much as the $5,000,000+ a year they were paying Art Briles). In his three seasons at Temple, Rhule went 2-10, 6-6, and then 10-3 last year.

So far this year, Baylor has lost to Liberty (a division I-AA program), Univ. of Texas at San Antonio, Duke, Oklahoma, and Kansas State. Staring at an 0-5 start, now they play Oklahoma State away-- and Oklahoma State is the #14 team in the country. After that come West Virginia and Texas at home, Kansas away, #24 Texas Tech in Arlington, Iowa State at home, and finishing up at #6 TCU.  Ouch.

They will get better. They probably won't be great again for more than a fluke year or two now and then; Baylor does not have the resources to do that, especially with the thorns of this scandal dogging it for a while. And some people are probably ok with that. 

Monday, October 09, 2017


Look up

There were several great haiku last week, but I want to talk about Gavin's:

You, with the iPhone.
The world is full of wonder!
Why won't you look up?

It' s bad enough that people drive while staring at their phones-- now it seems like everyone crosses the street while doing that, too. I'm sure that somewhere in the US a driver who was staring at the phone ran over a pedestrian who was doing the same thing.

Mortal danger aside, there is the issue of real vs. represented beauty. 

A few weeks ago I was walking down Nicollet behind a young guy watching a movie on his phone. As I passed, I saw the image: a street scene, people walking and laughing. He was in, literally inside, that same scene, but he did not see it.

What do we lose with all this?

Sunday, October 08, 2017


Sunday Reflection: The Fall

Yesterday I drove up to town north and west of Minneapolis. Along the way, the trees were turning. On the way back, I stopped in the little town of Cold Spring which has a handful of businesses that include a bakery and a brewery. In the bakery, they had all kinds of beautiful frosted monster cookies, in any color you might like.

Fall is here. I love fall.  Part of it is the aesthetic, the gentle palate of colors if you live in a place with trees and a good view of the sky. The weather, too, is just the tiniest bit challenging. You might need a sweater. Or, you might not. Hard to say.

It is something to be grateful for. And if there is one thing we seem to be lacking as a nation it is gratitude. Instead, we are becoming a nation of grievance, even among those with the most abundance.

How can that be, on a day like this?

Saturday, October 07, 2017


My Ideal Superhero Team

So, IPLawGuy tipped me off to the fact that Bulgarians have been repainting Soviet monuments to depict American superheroes.  It's really an awesome development.

I would add that I LOVE the idea of a superhero team that includes Superman, Ronald McDonald, Captain America, Santa Claus, and the Joker (as depicted above).  That is some serious ideological diversity!

Friday, October 06, 2017


Haiku Friday: That makes me sad

Sadness is something we all feel now and then. I'm with my dad in thinking that there can be something like the good blues. Often I can identify exactly why I am sad-- maybe one of my clients was denied clemency, but other times it is more difficult.

This photo supposedly shows a divorcing couple dividing up their Beanie Babies. There is something really sad about that, and I struggle a little to figure out why. A few guesses:

1) They appear to be doing it in an arbitration room, which is kind of depressing-- the combination of toys and such formality.

2)  It they both loved Beanie Babies so much (and it looks like they were WAY into Beanie Babies), how come they couldn't hold the marriage together?

3)   She is dressed for work, it seems. I am imagining her returning to her office, downcast, with her arms full of Beanie Babies.

So, this week, let's haiku about things that make us sad even though we aren't quite sure why. I will go first:

In the grocery
Dusty can of Viennas
Why aren't they loved?

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable formula, and have some fun...

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Political Mayhem Thursday: Meanwhile, across the pond...

Sure, we have some remarkable political events going over here. But meanwhile, in England, Tory Leader and beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May is having some problems that at least are kind of funny (other than the coughing fit-- that is never funny):

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