Trump Willing to Testify Under Oath?

The 9th of June 2017

John is a reporter from the White House press pool. They were covering a joint press conference with Romanian President Iohannis.

Sorry about the format of this. Best to read until you arrive at a bracketed number and then read what I have written below in the end-note area.

John: Did he (meaning Comey) ask for a pledge of loyalty from you?(1)
Trump: No he did not.(2)

John: So he said those things under oath.(3) Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events?
Trump: (without hesitation) One hundred percent. (almost running over his own words and a few from John, he followed with) I didn’t say under oath.(4) I hardly know the man I’m not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn’t make sense.(5) No I didn’t say that, and I didn’t say the other. (while gesturing with his hand to signify one from the other, I guess)(6)

John: So, if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that, …
Trump: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you, John.(7)

(1) John botched the question. No, John, James Comey did not ask the President to pledge his loyalty to James Comey of the FBI.
(2) Donald Trump answered correctly because James Comey did not ask for Trump’s loyalty.
(3) No, John. Since you botched the initial question, that is actually not true as James Comey did not ask Trump for his loyalty.
(4) Donald Trump just realized that he would not be willing to do any of this under oath so he now wants to make it clear that he would not be willing to do this under oath.
(5) All of that which follows Trump’s admission that he would not be willing to do this under oath, was to cover up this statement as Mr. Trump realized that him even saying what he just said is tantamount to an admission of guilt, so he threw in the last bit of brain salad to obfuscate. He probably lost his train of thought when he was answering “100%” because of John’s backwards question.
(6) Trump cleverly restates that we are at zero admissions as I, “didn’t say that, nor the other.”
(7) Which is absolutely nothing.

I know these are troubled times, and nervousness around people of power, especially people of power who can make career ending decisions for you, makes the job of journalism, especially at the White House level, a horrifically scary thing. The media, however, must do a better job when questioning those in power. Our futures depend on it. A mistake like this, and then all of the headlines about Trump’s willingness to testify under oath, please!

(for those who lack the time to view the entire video, the transcript above refers to questions that start at about 35 seconds)


The Fortune Teller

[This story was written as a response to the Reddit Writing Prompt comment: “[WP] A time traveller interviews major historical figures at three points in their lives: Their 16th birthday, the day after they made their most important decision, and the day before they die.”]

“Don’t forget to ask her.”

“I won’t grandmother.”

Bobby loved his grandmother very much, but was a bit puzzled by his grandmother’s strange request. He thought, “why would grandmother want me to ask the fortune teller specifically what is the most important decision I will ever make and what is the date when I will die.”

Bobby opened the door to the fortune teller’s studio. It was a dark place with all the tawdry Gypsy touches that one would envision in a fortune teller’s lair.

“Come on in, Bobby. Please have a seat. You don’t mind if I call you Bobby, do you?” Bobby thought that the fortune teller was quite deliberate in her tone so moved quickly over to the velvet chair that looked like something from a cheap romance novel.

“No Ma’am, you can call me Bobby.”

Bobby sat up forward in the comfortable chair eager for his first exchange ever with a fortune teller.

“Bobby, how would you like your fortune to be told? Is there a question you would like me to address for you?” She leaned somewhat into the table towards Bobby who was already sitting forward in his chair, mesmerized by this force of nature he saw before him.

Stella, is a formidable woman in her early sixties. She has been telling fortunes for thirty-three years and, before her, her mother had the same occupation for fifty-seven years. In fact, fortune telling goes back in her family for a multitude of generations.

“Sure,” he started, “I do have a line of thinking in mind. I would like to know,” he hesitated for a moment, and continued, “I would like to know what will be the most important decision I will ever make, and what will be the date of my death?” He felt a little weird asking that last part. Seemed a little creepy.

Bobby noticed that the fortune teller’s attitude towards him changed but for a second, and then back, “Sure, Bobby, let’s do look into those things.”

The fortune teller pulled her crystal ball towards herself a bit and invited Bobby to lean even further into the table with a simple gesture of her hand and wrist.

In a whisper the fortune teller continued, “Bobby look into this crystal ball with me and let us seek what you wish to know. I, I see you sitting at a desk. You seem to be in deep thought, a tumbler of–”

The fortune teller leans into the crystal ball even further.

“brandy. It is brandy. Bobby, do you see the brandy bottle on the credenza in the office? You are a handsome man, Bobby. Can you see him? The nameplate on the desk says ‘Robert Bartholomew.’ I guess you go by Robert now. Do you see the nameplate, Bobby?”

“Yes, I see the nameplate. But I cannot see myself. Why can I not see myself?” Even without the ability to see himself, Bobby was quite astonished that he could see the vision in the crystal ball at all. He always thought fortune telling was a joke played on gullible people.

“That is because you are you. Sorry I cannot fix that.” Was her simple reply as the fortune teller moved on with the telling.

“You seem very sad, Bobby–I mean Robert seems very sad. I see moistened eyes and they seem red as if he, you, had been crying.”

At this point, Bobby and the fortune teller were both mesmerized with the scene unfolding before them in the crystal. Robert backed his chair away from the desk and turned towards a large credenza. Grabbed a drawer knob. Oh! It’s not a drawer, but a cabinet. And the knob didn’t pull out as one would expect, but glided along some type of rail to reveal a safe.

Robert slowly twirled the dial on the safe, first to the right, then to the left, and then back to the right again. Robert grabbed the handle, pulled downward, but the safe would not succumb.

Robert let out a slightly audible, “Fuck!,” and, while reaching towards his glasses, knocked his brandy glass off his desk. This time he didn’t remark about his misfortune. Quickly he got a towel from his bathroom, dabbed up the brandy from the carpet for a moment, and said “fuck it, what am I doing.” He throw the towel into the chair across from his desk. Picked up the glass and poured another brandy. Took a quick, long drink. Put the tumbler on the other side of his glasses and grabbed his glasses from the desk on the glide path to his handsome face.

Robert sat back down at this desk, turned around and again set to twirling the safe dial, but this time preceded by a brisk set of long, left twirls, looked like three, proceeded by the usual right twirl with a more deliberate stopping at the arrival point of 10, then to the left to 34, and then back to the right, but this time to the number 17.

Robert cranked the lever and this time it opened successfully. He reached into the safe, moved a folder with a good centimeter of paper inside, when the crystal ball went blank.

We all saw what he had uncovered and was about to remove from the safe.

When Bobby looked up, the fortune teller was looking towards Bobby’s eyes.

Bobby said, “What does this mean?”

“Remember, you do not believe in all of this fortune telling stuff. Remember, it is a game fortune tellers play to swindle people out of their money.”


…on Bad Law

There are many instances in our American history when we have had problems with bad legislation being passed and the problems it creates for our society. Most of the time, on their face, bad laws would seem unconstitutional, but it seems like no one is willing to jump in there and say so, because for some reason, sometimes, bad laws are popular with the majority of people, but still remain bad laws that may be unconstitutional.

Take for instance, the war against marijuana. I’m not a scholar on the subject but I have read that the reason it was outlawed in the first place was because some business interest saw hemp as a better source of paper, which would compete against his interests in the “let’s cut down lots of trees to make paper” industry.

Once the law was put into place, those proponents for the law had already spent enormous amounts of money promoting the law so the low-information branch of the American public already had their points of view set for them.

Now, once the law was in place and it appeared that the American people were at least marginally for the law, it was nearly locked in and ready for a long run.

Other industries started researching the anti-marijuana laws and found that the law being in place had an actual benefit for their industries too. So, pretty soon their was marijuana screening done to the chattel at most of the corporate-owned megastores.

Looking at the present political situation in this country, it is apparent that the entrenched interests have still got most of the Washington DC crowd pretty frightened. At the State level, the situation is much different. Laws are being proposed in a lot of States by local governments and by citizen petition. This is a good thing and should be encouraged. Once local legislatures start moving the direction of repealing draconian marijuana laws at the State level, the federal government will be encouraged to move this direction as well, but it will take time.

Another case is with the health care industry in America. Who wrote laws allowing the sale of for-profit medical insurance? Actually, back in the day when an American life meant something to those in Washington DC, they did have regulations that forced those companies that wanted to sell medical insurance would be strictly regulated so that the American people would be protected from unscrupulous dealings.

Slowing, but much more rapidly of late, the Republican Party, the party of corporate America, has been stripping away laws that interfere with business. They see these laws as interference for a business’s ability to “do their own thang.” So, they replace these types of laws when they have the power to do so. Bush 43’s first six years, and quite a number of Republican administrations of the past forty years, had ample opportunity to wield enough power in Washington DC to repeal a lot of the laws that were put in place to protect the American people, but also restricted a business’s ability to “do their own thang.”

So, what we have now is a health care insurance industry that has more lobbyists and money than most industries and thus wields a lot of power in DC. Good luck getting “really” decent health care coverage for the foreseeable future.

* * * *
This is the danger of our American (so-called­, small ‘d’) “democratic” government creating “bad” law. Once a bad law is in place it is difficult to repeal.
Thus, a bad law will build an industry around it. If this is allowed to continue for decades (since laws are hard to repeal, it will be so), the industries surrounding this law will defend that law, even though they know that it is a bad law. Their greed will overshadow their desire to do the right thing.


Fictional Rove/Perry Exchange

It is a fact that Rick Perry use to be a Democrat. Yeah, it’s true! Also, if I recollect correctly, Karl Rove was the dude that talked him into switching parties.

This is a fictional account of their meeting:

As Karl walked to his car, he finally remembered why he wanted to talk with that guy Perry from the Democrat party. Frankly, he seemed more unscrupulous than himself, which Karl didn’t think was possible. Karl thought he would have a much brighter future as a Republican. Besides, he has a soft place in his heart for scoundrels.

(arrival at Perry’s congressional office)

Karl: Good to see you again, Congressman.

Rick: Karl, I don’t think we’ve ever met, but I do know who you are.

(Karl reads this comment by Rick as a sign that Rick holds Karl in pretty high esteem. Not a sure thing, but Karl is pretty pleased with the way the conversion is going. Karl sees himself as a highly intuitive guy and does, I would have to concur, have a gift!)

Karl: I’m sorry. I thought we had met. I do recollect seeing you do a speech at the Houston Rotary Club and, if you don’t mind me saying, I was quite impressed with you. Let me be frank, would you be interested in joining the Republican Party?

Rick: I beg your pardon. No, I believe I am happier right where I am. You have a lot of nerve, Karl. I think you had better go.

(Karl understands that Rick’s manly Texas honor would require him to resist, but it was all a feint)

Karl: I’m sorry, Congressman, if I offended you. The reason I even brought this possibility up with you was that I thought our political views were in line. Forgive me. I can see that I was mistaken.

Rick: Alright, alright, Karl. Please, sit down.

(Rick was pleased to have such an important man in his office, and did want to shoot the breeze with Karl. But, Karl already knew that.)

Rick: I’m sorry for flying off the handle like I did.

(Rick would have been wise to stop right there, but he continued.)

(unfortunate failure to at least slow down and pause, something similar to what that AK women does)
Rick: Rakes often fly off the handle
you know
I stepped on the tines of a rake and the damn thing knocked me silly. My makeup people had a hell of a time covering that red welt across my forehead up.

(Karl noted that the ice had been broken between himself and the congressman. Damn, that was so easy. Is this guy for real? No one could be that dumb, Karl thought. Karl slowly moved to a very comfortable looking leather chair where he might be able to talk candidly with the congressman, as that was his plan.

Knowing that the desk between himself and his mark would limit his ability to use his special “x-ray” vision (he chuckled to himself), he choose an office location where two chairs were aligned with the greatest effect.

Karl intentionally took the chair that he was sure the congressman favored just to see how he would react. As expected, congressman Perry’s shoulders slumped just for an instant and then sat in the adjacent chair. This is too easy, Karl thought.

Abruptly, Karl stood up!)

Karl: Congressman, I must excuse myself, I just remembered I have an important meeting with the Governor.

(Surprised, the congressman stood up)

Karl: Rick, it was great meeting you.

(brief pause as if to appear as if the next statement just crossed his mind without showing the congressman that this was his plan all along)

Karl: You know, a good politician, such as yourself, can become a wealthy man in Republican politics. Think about it.

(Karl, realized that he was wasting his time with this guy. He didn’t have to schmooze with this moron. All he had to do was make an appeal to his greed.)


Trump! You Are a Disgrace!

Nothing much to say about this that Baratunde Thurston has not already expressed so well.

America is better than this!


Clarence Thomas Writes Bold, Anti-American Decision

Well, well, here we go again. Another slap in the face to average Americans.

You see, we average Americans are not suppose to notice that:

A. Wall Street bankers, who totally screwed up our economy which, I might add,
it is still undecided whether it will even come back at all, are apparently not going to be prosecuted at all, at least it appears that they are getting away with it…


B. An innocent man, wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for 14 years, who was actually on death row for a murder he did not commit (and saw 7 men go to their deaths), was exonerated because the prosecutors did not share vital information to the defense so that the court could provide a “fair” trial for him, and he, even now, does not deserve justice for the willful crime the prosecutors’ office perpetrated.

This is how it is folks. The right-wing agenda of injustice for all is in full bloom. Wine and flowers for the mucky mucks, chicken soup and bread lines for you.

Please read this article to get a glimpse of what the right has in store for you. Don’t get in trouble unless you are rich, have rich relatives, or have lots of money.

Cruel but Not Unusual: Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever. by Dahlia Lithwick

In another article on the subject:

Scott Lemieux points out: “by all-but-immunizing (District Attorney) Connick for the conduct of his subordinates, the court has created a perfect Catch-22, since the courts already give prosecutors absolute immunity for their actions as prosecutors (though they may still be liable for their conduct as administrators or investigators). By immunizing their bosses as well, the court has guaranteed that nobody can be held responsible for even the most shocking civil rights violations.”



April Fool’s Day Snowfall

Maine has the most unusual snow that I have ever seen. Under normal conditions the snow is so light and fluffy that you can easily shovel a load of snow without much effort. This year, however, the snow on several occasions has been much thicker and wetter. This makes the shoveling pretty difficult without the right equipment. Heavy!

Today, April 1, 2011, we are still in the midst of quite a storm. The snow has been falling all morning and we are sitting with about ten inches so far and it may snow ’til after midnight. Some Spring!

At this point, we have lost one tree, with one bending over to the ground.

Broken Apple Tree

This poor apple tree. It is so old. Must have been here for well over 80 years. The contractors who built this house just didn’t have the heart to cut down this poor thing. Contorted from the many years of lost major limbs, it is a sight to behold.

Two years ago, this same tree was hit by another catastrophe. A brief rain and wind storm came out of nowhere and tore off the front side (closest to the house). We had to spend about three hours cutting this major branch away and, since this happened in late August, the ground was covered with apples. The deer found them within a week and gobbled most of them up.

Now, this. The back side (farthest from the house) has split away and will have to be dealt with after the snows stop.

I have noticed that Winter here is not kind to the trees. Most of the trees up here seem somehow very brittle. Poor, rocky soil, perhaps. We see lots of downed trees every year.

By the garage, there is another downed tree. This one, however, is just bending and not breaking (yet). We’ll see, when the snow leave the limbs whether it will every be able to stand up straight again. (As an update, the white birch by the garage stood up straight until the leaves matured. Even the weight of the several thousand leaves has brought the tree down nearly to half mast. She will have to be cut down :>( )

Downed Tree

That’s it. By the way, Molly is doing fine.

Molly in the Snow


Consequences of Overreach

Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has made the most serious political mistake since President Nixon covered up the Watergate burglaries back in the 1960s.

Many Republicans really thought that America would sit still for the destruction of the labor union movement, the complete annihilation of a woman’s right to her own health care choices, the devaluation of certain segments of our “fellow Americans” rights, and the complete and total destruction of the Democratic Party.

Overreach. Watch the radicals back off faster than a cat with her tail on fire (sorry, Molly, bad example).


Green Post

The ‘haves’ in the oil industry, the health insurance industry, the financial sectors, had better start showing material support for new, green technologies and better more honest business practices or they had better hope that the new (“middle class”) wealthy will not show them as much scorn as they have shown to us once they slip from the top.


Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

What to do? What to do? Should House and Senate Democrats accept the Obama/Republican tax-cut agreement, or should they reject it?

Once in a while, someone should stand with the American people. The Republicans won’t and now it appears that President Obama won’t either. Sure, you can argue, as #42 and #44 have done, that this is the best deal you are bound to get. And, with the Republicans owning the House come January, this may be true.

However, once in a while, there does come a time to fight for what you know to be right. What are the facts? The uber wealthy have spent the last three decades having the luxury of every advantage in life. The uber wealthy are flush, folks. They do not need even more tax advantages. Of course, there are some uber wealthy folk who think these tax cuts are outrageous, but they aren’t the ones employing all the lobbyists.

So, what should the Senate and House do?

This seems a simple enough matter.

House and Senate Democrats should reject this agreement if the Republicans can not see themselves voting for a more reasonable compromise. The Democratic Party Senators and Representatives will all benefit as their esteem with American voters will grow, and these Representatives’ and Senators’ personal self-esteems will grow as they all discover that they do indeed have balls after all.

And, what about President Obama (facing down the Commander and Chief)? If you succeed in foiling the Republican plan to scuttle any hopes the middle class in America might still have, President Obama will be fine. He’s an adult and can quite easily turn his situation around once he finds his balls too.

If you fail, well, you will still have the esteem of the American people. In 2012, for those coming up for election, you will be able to beat down the Republicans as you will be considered, legitimately, the “voice for the American People.”


The Moral Hazard Created by America’s War Criminals

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, did an op-ed piece in the conservative Daily Telegraph where he warns our ex-President, George W. Bush, not to visit London in fear of being arrested. He went on to say that George W. Bush’s war crime admissions in his new book1, make the duty of the world community clear if Bush were to ever leave the United States since the United States appears to be abrogating its obligations to the world to investigate with a clear mandate to prosecute if there is evident that a war crime has been committed. The below is an excerpt from his op-ed, and a link to the actual story:

It is not yet clear whether George W Bush is planning to cross the Atlantic to flog us his memoirs, but if I were his PR people I would urge caution. As book tours go, this one would be an absolute corker. It is not just that every European capital would be brought to a standstill, as book-signings turned into anti-war riots. The real trouble — from the Bush point of view — is that he might never see Texas again.

If you would like to read this rather well written piece, the above excerpt is linked to that Daily Telegraph article of November 20, 2010. You might also want to read Andrew Sullivan’s very short piece entitled “The Mayor Of London On George W. Bush, War Criminal” in The Atlantic. I appreciate Mr. Sullivan’s attempt to bring conservative America back to sanity. I hope he is successful (and other moderate Republicans might want to join in) as his cause is worthy. Mr. Sullivan summed it up by stating:

It’s good to be reminded of real conservative values, which include abhorrence of torture and a dedication to the rule of law. By those standards, George W. Bush is not now a conservative, merely a thug, twisting the law to engage in something utterly alien to Anglo-American ideals. And a smug thug at that. Watching his interview on Hannity – yes, I managed to get through most of it – I was reminded of this man’s utter shallowness and moral unseriousness. Glib doesn’t begin to describe his solipsistic denial of his own barbarism.

Lastly, I will offer up a good legal option from Jonathan Turley, scholar of constitutional law, George Washington University, School of Law.

I would hope that every American knows how historically significant this is? America has never had a man who occupied the White House vilified as much as George W. Bush has been vilified. Nowhere in American history has any American President done anything that would raise the ire of world populations against this country as much as what George W. Bush did. Never!

Once upon a time, we use to try and convict war criminals in America. Those leaders of foreign nations that would dare cross a very well defined line in the sand regarding torture, or any other war crime, would not get any quarter in America. Indeed, after World War II, the war that made America the mighty power that it is today, we tried and convicted Japanese soldiers and military leaders2 for doing exactly what George W. Bush ordered our people to do to those legally, or illegally3, held by the United States in connection to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

I know that we have all heard this stuff before, and that most American conservatives have already left this blog figuring that it is just another screed by some leftist moonbat, but they would be wrong in assuming this to be the case. Simply put, my politics are not based on ideology, but on facts, figures and rational solutions to problems. Politics in and of itself is a very base game that some play to win elections. Policy does not come into play for these people, unfortunately. Those who play the game of “politics” simply for politics’ sake are driving this country right into the ground. Are you listening Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Jim DeMint?

As Americans, we are between a rock and a hard place. Do we forget many decades of history and the fact that most real Americans despise war crime and let George W. Bush and his political facilitators off the hook on this one? What would it say about us?

What does it say about us? Well, psychologically, it says that we are still grieving the loss of our innocence due to the attack on September 11, 2001. Anger and fear in the aftermath of such an attack is understandable. What is not understandable, after that despicable attack by al Qaeda, was how the Bush Administration could mislead the American people into the worst possible course of action that a country can embark upon. The Bush Administration made the error of warring with Afghanistan and not completing the mission and then getting out as quickly as we went in, and starting another war with Iraq who had no connection with the September 11, 2001 attack, giving a false set of arguments to bolster up the country for such a war. The world is still reeling from this international turn of events where the United States went from a trusted partner in the world community to one of the most reviled.

It is insane for us to think that there won’t be international consequences for our behavior on this matter. America might be suffering the long-term effects of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) going right up into the Oval Office, the House, the Senate, local and state governments. The paranoia is palpable in America these days and this condition is not at all a healthy state of being for a person, or a country.

There is also an element in this country that would see America’s future being brighter if we take a much more brutal stance to countries of the world that defy us. America has never operated this way internationally as those bright enough to grasp the situation would be able to cite many times in history where a country took this attitude and paid the ultimate price for their arrogance. Germany and Japan once thought themselves in the position to thuggishly dominate their neighbors, and we all understand what happened to them.

A country that has this attitude might start by simply mistreating a country in some way (unfair trade agreements, embargoes, sanctions, attacks on a nation’s sovereignty, a hashed up set of falsehoods), and then they would start a propaganda campaign against said country to build national support for harsh action against them. This game has historically been played over and over again. The results might initially work without too much in the way of international repercussions but, eventually, world reaction would be set against this country, or countries. Indeed, the picture that one could paint would not be a pleasant one.

So, what can America do to clean up this mess that may only get messier the longer we wait to act? Why is it that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama think that the lesser of two evils is to let the Bush Administration off the hook on the war crimes of which some of them are so clearly guilty?

What would happen if President Barack Obama were to instruct Attorney General Eric Holder to proceed on an investigation of the Bush Administration’s war crimes?

If such an announcement were to be made by the President, you could bet that Fox News would be spinning this into an all out attack on conservative America, which could lead to civil unrest, insurrection or, even as a worst-case scenario, civil war. Would the conservative American leadership play this all the way out guaranteeing that the worst-case scenario actually happens? I would think so. They would have to take the position that if they were to “Throw Bush et al. under the bus” the Republican Party as a winning political entity might very well lose favor and thus may never again work their way into the ruling class.

That being the case, and knowing how utterly political those in the conservative leadership are, one would have to come to the conclusion that they would indeed push it all the way even if it means the destruction of the American political system.

So, that seems like a very unsavory position to put the country in, and would be something that President Obama and his staff would have to take into account. But, what of the alternative–to allow the Bush Administration off the hook on this one?

Indeed, this alternative, the one that the Obama Administration has embarked upon, is certainly the better choice in the short term. A choice, however, fraught with its own set of perils, some of which we see happening today. His hope is that the world community will forgive America for what the Bush Administration has done and will understand that the other alternative–seeking war crimes against the Bush Administration–might lead to even worse global consequences.

1 Decision Points, a memoir of our forty-third president’s life.
2 Washing Post article dated November 4, 2007 by Evan Wallach, a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York, teaches the law of war as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.
3 It has been reported that many of the prisoners held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, or any number of secret, or lesser known facilities, were not involved in any way, shape or form with the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.


Right-Wing Land

Historically, countries that head down the path to the right eventually fail. Sure, they may have some initial successes (though it may seem ugly to some), and they may actually survive for centuries, but eventually they always fail.

The countries that do well are the ones that:

1) do not get involved in foreign intrigues;
2) trade in a fair way with other countries;
3) only use their military as a defensive tool;
4) treat their citizenry with a great deal of respect; and,
5) do not treat the world like their own private playground where everything is theirs and the humans who object can easily and ruthlessly be brushed aside.

For a long time I thought that those who hold right-wing leadership positions used fear and hate to move the masses in their direction because these leaders had an abundance of fear and hate themselves. They do, in a way. But the movers and shakers on the right see the world as an absolutely negative place, but few of these movers and shakers actually feel the fear and hate personally. Right-wing thinkers see danger at every crossroads. And, that the only way to navigate through these dangerous intersections is to drive the biggest vehicle on the road and just blindly barrel their way through these intersections.

Just think how ignorant that would be in the real world. That is why we have stop signs to give the drivers of all the vehicles an opportunity to look both directions before proceeding through the intersection safely.

Yet, right wingers want to deregulate the world. No more stop signs? No. They just want to deregulate those areas where they see regulation as an impediment to their goals. You and me? We will still have to obey the seat-belt rules, the stop signs, the drug laws, the laws that have been set down to control our behavior.

The real motivation that steers the right-wing leadership to move their followers toward right-wing thinking is that there is great wealth to be had if you have a big enough club to make those who stand in your way step aside. But, folks, this is not great wealth that you will ever see; unless,

1) you are one of the movers and shakers,
2) you are at the top of the peaking order at one of the corporations who provide “things” for the masses who still have jobs,
3) you are a yacht builder,
4) you design and build lavish homes, or
5) you sell goods that only the most ardent right winger would appreciate (high-ticket guns, gold-encrusted bibles, fast and expensive transportation devices).

Right-wing lackeys will have to settle for much, much less than they even have in these hard times.

The problem with this motivation is that it won’t last. But, this works out fine for those who think short-term (as in the extent of their own lifetimes). For those who truly want to leave the world a better place for their kids and grandkids, this motivation would rank lower, but not out of the question. You see, if one fears poverty and deprivation, then even their children and grandkids (my spellchecker does not like “grandkids” so I decided to use it again) (but, it likes the word “spellchecker,” what’s up with that?) wouldn’t deter them from working towards building wealth over the torn and shattered bodies of those unwilling to bend their direction.

Now, this might sound like I abhor wealth. On the contrary. Wealth is good, but wealth should come with a number of rules. Mankind has had such rules in the past, and they are much easier to follow when times are good. I would have to say that Americans would be happier if these rules were adhered to even when times are not so good. I am sure I needn’t spell the rules out here. Everyone knows the rules, they seem of late, however, to be hard to follow. Even people of faith seem to be having trouble remembering the rules.

America seems to be heading down the road to the right. Why did this happen? Several reasons:

The Decline of American Prestige and Power

After World War II, America had a preeminent position in world affairs, and America willingly took up the mantle and ran with it. Sure, with atomic weapons hitting the stage when it did, with the help of America I might add (but, it was inevitable that someone would have had them by now anyway), someone had to carry the big stick to make sure that atomic weapons were not used to destroy the Earth.

America was it.

Since then, many things have happened and everything was working out fine (except for the Cold War, the usual powerful crazies around the world, and some exceedingly bad decisionmaking) until now. What has changed?

When the rest of the world looks at America they see a beacon of hope, a land of great wealth and opportunity, a safe and free citizenry, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But, America, has been having a difficult time living up to these myths of late.

The right wingers of America have a solution to this problem. Rather than finding ways to rebuild on this image of a democratic government who cares for its people and makes opportunity a mainstay of American rights to its citizenry, they would prefer that we just rob and blunder to keep the wealth rolling America’s direction. They figure that a feared America is stronger than a somewhat weaker, but loved, America. They are wrong.

This would not be a long-term solution to their problems. Inevitably, America would end up a pariah in the world community. Sure, America might be able to temporarily gain back some of its power and the wealthy might be able to get a bit wealthier, but America would never regain its prestige. What it would gain, however, is more terrorism, uneasy relations with other world players, travel bans for Americans throughout the world, trade deficits (because no one wants to trade with America anymore) which would lead to domestic poverty and social strife, and eventually the demise of the America we have all hoped would lead the world to better places.

Americans Have Grown Accustomed to the Best

Americans have had a delicious time over the past few decades and Americans are not keen on giving that way of life up. I would say that life might have been better for Americans if they had not been quite so comfortable, had been more charitable when dealing with other countries of the world, and had tried harder to live up to the mythical image that the world has hoped would lead them to a better, safer life merely by having a powerful, benevolent country such as America in the world. Most people of the world, I am sure, would be happy with much, much less than what the American people use to lavish upon themselves.*

In order for the right wingers to make good on their view of how to make their America strong again, they need ready and willing citizens to cast votes (against their better judgment if, in fact, they have good judgment which is often in doubt) to elect right-wing thinkers into elective office. How do they achieve that?

First, they could never move the direction they want to move America if America were economically healthy, and the citizenry of the country were happy and content. As a general rule most Americans, in good times, do not ascribe to right-winger thinking.

Right-wing thinking thrives when things are bad. Not just in America–everywhere. Paranoia is part of everyone’s lives and is much more prevalent when times are tough. Yes, everyone is paranoid to varying degrees. The world is a bad, bad place and we need to be ruthless. Not so.

If Americans want to pursue this line of thinking (that America can be great again by being the world’s biggest bully), then trouble will be their only friend as they head down the road to ruin.

Top Dog

Being the world’s strongest and most powerful country means that all eyes are on you. Your every move is amplified over and over again. Everything you do, as a country, is inspected and dissected with the utmost scrutiny until nothing is left to ponder.

America does bad things = America is a malignant cancer and must be eradicated.
America does not help the needy of the world = America is greedy and living lavishly while the whole world starves.
America steals the wealth of other nations = America is greedy when world resources are dwindling (they want all the marbles).
America pollutes the seas and dirties the skies = America is destroying the planet and must be stopped.

(Molly needs petting)

. . .

Yes, I know the right-wing thinkers look at the rest of the world and loudly proclaim that they don’t give a hoot what the rest of the world thinks but, to their detriment, it does matter–it matters greatly.

We need to slip back neatly into world society as an equal player. Can we? Not by following the right-wing thinkers. America is a great country, has been blessed with a diverse society who can do great things when motivated to do so. Right-wing thinkers do not see a bright and sunny future. They see the world as something to be exploited now before it is too late. They want all the marbles so they can hold them in their hands and say, “you see, I got them all,” as the world crashes all around them.

Needless to say, the world would be a much safer and happier place for most if right-wing thinkers were not allowed near the wheels of power. Sure, right-wing thinkers would not be so happy, but those who hold such negative views of the world wouldn’t be happy until they had it all, and even then happiness would still be doubtful.

* Now, of course, not all Americans have shared equally in America’s delicious times, but the perceptions that the world holds of America still linger.


Glenn Beck Commands Tea Party Not To Play Dress Up

HERE is an interesting article (with a video of Glenn Beck’s FOX show on the 15th of September) where Glenn Beck is softly, and carefully, giving orders to Tea Party members (as an outsider) to knock off the funny outfits and stop bringing the ridiculous signs to the Tea Party rallies.

Come on folks, you’ve got to stop looking bat-shit crazy so that the people of America will see a legitimate movement that cannot be pigeonholed as just another silly group of whackjobs.


Rand, Rand, Rand

So senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY), has a plan for fixing the deficit, and a budget too. But he says that he will not be talking about it until after the elections.

Okay, Rand, so you are telling the voters of Kentucky, that they should vote for you without knowing what you are going to do/for them?

That is like buying a horse without taking it for a canter. Like buying a car without kicking the tires, or checking the dipstick for metal particles.

Sounds reminiscent of when John McCain during the presidential debate exclaimed that he knew how to get bin Laden. John made it sound like he had his cave address or, at a minimum, had GPS coordinates. So, now that the elections are over, and John McCain didn’t win, why didn’t he go to the DOD and clue them in on how to get bin Laden? Why? Because he was lying. He has no idea on how to get bin Laden. He just said that to help his election chances.

. . .

So, Rand Paul, you got a plan? Let’s hear it.

Just as I thought! There is no plan!

He is just lying to improve his chances of getting elected.

Come on people of Kentucky. You wouldn’t, really, vote for this guy, would you?


Polar Bears Are Not Vicious Killers, Humans Are

I sure do enjoy commenting at Huffington Post. The comment area can get interesting now and again. Often, I run to the end of a comment and realize that I need more room and more speedy fingers (yes, about 20 or 30 would do nicely). But, I know that the comment box only allows 250 words, and I cannot lay down my thoughts, on a fast moving thread, fast enough so that the comment will appear anywhere near the top, unless, of course, my comment is the root comment, and thus will always appear near the top, unless the comments are moderated (which is another issue altogether). So, I guess I have to write what I really wanted to say here. So, here:

This is a short transcript from a blog called “Nissan Leaf’s Strangely Moving Polar Bear Ad (VIDEO).” (First Posted: 09-10-10 05:17 PM, Updated: 09-10-10 05:22 PM. Apparently, not attributed to anyone.) Will not write the article here as it is linked above, if you want to read it.

(here is the video ad that this article was talking about. If the video is too large for the column shown to you by your browser, you can, if you have sufficient width space with your monitor, make your browser window wider.)

jefke: Of course polar bears are actually vicious killers which makes the ad a little ridiculous, not that that lessens the gravity of the effect of climate change on the polar bear population.

jabailo (commenting on jefke’s remark): If the ice was melting, wouldn’t the polar bear try and go further north to where its colder…instead of south to where it’s warmer?

GaryNMaine (comment on jabailo’s remark): Surely, you wouldn’t want to make a ‘logical’ argument against this ad? The ad is effective even if the actual facts would not support the animal heading south when crises arise. However, there will be an ending to the polar bears heading north once there is no ice left. But, if the polar bear can quickly adapt, the polar bear might survive. That being said, this type of adaptive capability is not available to mammals of the size of a polar bear. Farewell another endangered-by-man species. We can always read about you in our environmental-studies textbooks if, by then, we haven’t banned education altogether.

That’s about all I could write before the comment stream would shift to page two which, in fact, would make the whole point of commenting moot, since few venture beyond the first page of comments.

Mankind is at its wit’s end on how to deal with critical environmental matters such as climate change and man’s effect on his own environment.

There are people out there, those who own much, and pay so little into preserving this planet, who fight tooth and nail to preserve their financial interests. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they came up in a culture/household where grubbing for every last dime–let no one get in my way–kind of thinking. I am unqualified to analyze anyone’s motivations for the way they live and act. All I know is that the planet needs our help and we still follow the same course where anything that might slow business down is automatically poo pooed.

One day I do see the polar bear going extinct. The environmentalists will be up in arms well in advance of their demise. When the politicians and the corporate leaders finally realize that the environmental scientists were right all along, they will probably finally step in and try to fund projects to move the last polar bears to Antarctica, where the ice is receding, but not completely gone, yet. Being a very expensive endeavor as it most certainly would be, especially with the dwindling supply of fuels (to fuel the ships and move the apparatus forward) to get this done, there will be tremendous uproar from the right.

They would say:

  • Logical: The preservation of the polar bear species would put huge economic burdens on our failing economies.
  • Narcissistic: I got mine, so who cares what might happen in the future.
  • Bad Science: Sunspots are the true cause of climate change, so there is nothing we can do to change our plight.
  • Cynical: Animals have been going extinct throughout the history of this planet–what’s another animal, or two in the whole scheme of things.
  • Ignorant: [whoever they perceive as the Al Gore of their time] is a twit!
  • Party Line: I only vote [whatever party may be representing the interests of the right of their time]! It’s the other party’s fault that things are so bad these days!

You get my meaning. There are always arguments from those who have much too lose from progressing to a more sustainable future. It is, however, amazing how adept they are at getting ignorant people to vote against their own best interests. I mean, it is within most folks interests to see the planet survive for the benefit of future generations.

Essentially, there is only the first argument that has a logical basis. The rest are just cold-hearted, bitter people who have not found a way on Earth to be just ‘plain and simple’ happy. Or, they are simply too ignorant for their own good, and tend to listen to those with the gloomiest of messages.

Since it is impossible to predict politics into the future, it would be safe to say that there are only two directions we can go. The bitterness on the right, and the shock and horror from the left of what has been happening in the last few decades, has left us all in a position where, one way or the other, there will be a sizable shift politically in our near future. Guaranteed.

If we move to the right, this is what might happen:

There turned out to be not enough support for funding on the plans to move the polar bear from the Arctic to Antarctica. Though some funding was established for a certain number of polar bears to be sent to zoos around the world.

If we move to the left, this is what might happen:

Funding was established for the relocation of the polar bears to Antarctica, though environmentalists and left-leaning politicians have voiced concerns that this may very well be ‘too little, too late,’ and they hope to fund future measures to protect endangered species.

Either way, we have lost yet another species due to our lack of political will to make the hard choices. We are already seeing signs that climate change is happening, and some of the signs are alarming. It is more than likely too late for the majestic polar bear. The next time scientists warn of impending doom, we should probably take their claims seriously. Well, that is if we still bother ourselves with science once the shit hits the fan!


Mere Corporate Thuggery, Nothing to Concern Yourself About

A little something I found disturbing, but don’t fret, nothing you need to get worked up about.

U.S. Department of the Interior
Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board

Report to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
September 1, 2010

III. Inspections
D. Management Support (Analysis/Discussion)

• Most inspectors interviewed stated that industry often exerted pressure on them to minimize reporting violations during inspections. For example, personnel on a facility may make comments such as “there goes my bonus,” or “my wife is sick and I’ll lose my job.” Inspectors also reported that if they issued INCs [Incidents of Noncompliance], operators would sometimes call BOEMRE (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement) managers and complain about inspector behavior. For example, one inspector, new to the job, reported that on his first day on a platform he issued several INCs, and the company called to complain about his “rude and unprofessional behavior” before he returned to the office.

Reminds me of a familiar-to-all Marlon Brando movie:

(cue the melancholy theme music)

The Oilfather

(two BP employees talking in the lobby)

BP Employee 1: The COO is in an uncommonly good mood today. Hasn’t bitten anyone’s head off yet.
BP Employee 2: Jeez. I thought for sure when Margie forgot to use the green binders for the profit report, he was going to at least humiliate her good. Didn’t happen. I wonder what’s up with him? Must have gotten something special this morning from his girlfriend–couldn’t have gotten it from his wife.

(scene moves to the conference room where the BP Corporate Chief of Operations (COO), Tom (BP attorney and COO confidante), the chief at a Gulf oil rig, and several other BP executives)

BP Rig Chief: That new DOI inspector, Galen Chatterborg, has given the BlueSkyBlueSeasWonderfulPlanet oil drilling rig two INCs citations. (almost mumbling) Son of a bitch.

(in my best Godfather impersonation, ah-hem)

BP Corporate COO (calm, soothing): What do you suggest we do about this?

BP Rig Chief (frantic): We could stage an accident. I was thinking we could create a fake blow out and his dead carcass would be catapulted out to sea.

(The COO appearing a little surprised by the outburst, but delighted with the Chief’s ability to think on his feet)

BP Corporate COO (calm, soothing): I don’t think we need to resort to such harsh measures to deal with Mr. Chatterborg at this point. (pause) Let’s see what we can do from here. You needn’t worry about this matter anymore–we will handle it.

BP Rig Chief (frantic): But–

BP Corporate COO slowly rises to his feet and gestures with his hand that the conversation with the BP Rig Chief is over. A few lesser BP executives are alerted by the COO’s movement that they should ready themselves to escort the BP Rig Chief out of the conference room.

The BP Rig Chief, sheepishly gives the BP Corporate COO a slight tilt of the head in the affirmative, and then leaves the room along with the lesser BP executives.

BP Corporate COO: Tom, we will need to do something about this.

Tom (BP attorney and Chief of Staff to the Big Guy): My staff has done a little preliminary background work on Mr. Chatterborg. He has a new mortgage in New Orleans, two fairly new automobiles, and an older SUV. His wife, Becky, and him have been married for two years, and they have a masculine bun in the oven. He has been with the DOI for about a month, before that, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan in environmental studies and forestry. That is all we have on him at this point. We are trying to find out where his wife works, but have not been able to find this out, yet.


BP Corporate COO: Give this job to Sarah Palin (his secretary and corporate flunky). Have her call Sam Smithers, the BOEMRE manager, and tell them that the new inspector they sent, Galen Chatterborg, exhibited rude and unprofessional behavior when he inspected the BlueSkyBlueSeasWonderfulPlanet oil drilling rig this afternoon. Be sure to tell her not to get carried away–after all, we are not thugs. (pause) He’s a bright boy, he’ll know what he has to do.

(clap, clap, clap, cheer)

Good theatre, but not particularly pleasant from the point of view of the DOI inspector.

. . .

Galen Chatterborg, is a pleasant fellow, just finished up college, with honors too! Worked for the forest service when he was a boy and always wanted to be a forest ranger. Not in the cards, I guess, but he still has hopes of someday becoming a ranger, but this job was what was available at the time and, being a married man with a baby on the way, he had to take what he could get.

Galen’s wife is a pretty girl who he met and married while they were both still in college. They have a child on the way (a boy, but Becky is withholding this from Galen, until their Anniversary, three days from today).

Galen has only been inspecting rigs for the Department of Interior for a month and has inspected three so far. One was an Exxon rig, and the other two were owned by Conoco-Phillips. Pretty clean, he thought, and their maintenance crews were top notch.

Today he inspected a BP oil rig called the BlueSkyBlueSeasWonderfulPlanet rig. Sure, we all know that BP markets itself as the environmental oil company, but we all know that this is far from the truth. BP does their seemingly environmentally conscious marketing just to keep the natives happily confused.

When Galen arrived back at the DOI after the inspection, he was called into his bosses office and told that he was reported for “rude and unprofessional behavior” by some ignorant-sounding woman at BP. Galen told his boss, and several witnesses, everything that had happened at the rig. The violations that he had written up in the two Incidents of Noncompliance citations.

Galen left his bosses office understanding that this was simply a “shot across the bow” by BP, and he shouldn’t be too alarmed about it. But, he does understand, now, how he is expected to do his job. Make waves and the pressure would get much, much worse; or, stop reporting violations and live long and prosper. Remember, at home, you have a beautiful wife who is carrying your child.

No righteous person should ever have to make this choice. So, what will it be–preserving his self respect, or the job. Self respect will not protect his family and their middle-class lifestyle.

The American people should not tolerate their employees being intimidated by corporations who clearly are not working in the best interests of the people of this great nation, nor the people of the world.

Nothing to get worked up about. This is just how some corporations operates these days. What a shameful bunch of thugs.


Interior Painting: The Walls Are Painted Last

I have been painting my bedroom on and off for the last year. Why should such a job take this long? Two reasons: (1) I am very busy and must devote most of my waking hours to business, and (2) I am lazy when it comes to the work that needs to be done around the house.

To stress the point of number two above, we have been here for over four years now–a house that was room-to-room beige and in dire need of paint–and we have only completed a few painting tasks–one upstairs room (office, which is what we use it for, or the third bedroom), the main floor office, and the formal dining room. That is it. The two bedrooms upstairs, one of which is a master bedroom suite, which I occupy, are partially done. The master bedroom suite is only waiting for completion of the walk-in closet–the bathroom and bedroom are completed.

This is really a post on how to paint when you are too lazy to empty a room, and how to get professional results when doing such a project.

When painting a room, or an area, such as the one I will be discussing here, the master bedroom, I almost always choose three colors (usually all on the same color card). For the master bedroom, I chose a muted blue color scheme. The trim is done with a light blue (Under the Big Top), the walls a medium blue/gray (Colonial Blue), and the ceiling dark blue/gray (Hudson Bay). All of the paint purchased was from Benjamin Moore and all are semi gloss. I like the glossy look of semi gloss and gloss paint, though it does require the painter to take special care in order to get a good look.

This suite is in a lovely Cape Cod, with the slant ceiling in the bedroom that follows the contour of the roof. The dark blue/gray color was used on the actual ceiling and the angled ceiling.

The first task in any interior paint job is to patch any problems in the wall surface. In this case, since I had planned on taking my time on this project, the ceiling–since it was first on my list of painting tasks–was all I had to worry over.

Taping light fixtures should be done only on fixtures that cannot be taken down easily. In the case of this room, I had to do the ceilings in the bedroom, the walk-in closet, and the bathroom. The bathroom has a fan/vent that was easy enough to dangle down so I could paint the ceiling including the area under the fan. The walk-in closet, has a ceiling light fixture that was easy to dangle as well. The bedroom has a smoke detector, that was easy to remove temporarily, but the ceiling fan was not, so I taped it.

Now that the room is prepared for painting, I laid out a huge canvas tarp so as not to drip paint on any of my furnishings.

I started first by painting the areas of the ceiling where the ceiling meets the walls. You should not be particularly concerned about carefully cutting in the line between the ceiling and walls, however. Since, you will be painting the walls last, you can cut in that line when you do the walls. Do, however, make sure that you paint the ceiling with some overlap onto the walls.

Also paint a goodly area around the ceiling fan, the bathroom fan, the walk-in closet light fixture, and the smoke detector. This was all done with a 2-inch high-quality paint brush. When I finished doing this trimming of the ceilings, the paint was dry enough for me to start at the beginning and get a second coat on the trim. Sometimes, two coats is enough. In this case, it was.

Upon completion of the ceiling area with the dark paint, the paint brush I used was folded carefully into plastic kitchen wrap so as to be fairly air tight and then put into the freezer. This will keep the paint from drying for an extended period of time–but not forever.

The next process that is needed to be done is the rolling of the paint on the ceiling.

Now that the trim is done, and dry, it is time to paint the entire ceiling with a paint roller. Everyone should know what equipment is needed for this, so I will not add comment about this here. There are plenty of articles discussing this kind of stuff.

What I would like to stress is that, when working with gloss or semi-gloss paint, do not go back over areas where you might have missed a spot (called holidays). Leave it alone as it will be dealt with on the second coat. Try to avoid holidays by being generous with the paint refilling the roller often. Inspect your work as you go and follow a pattern that gets you finished as quickly as possible. The reason I mention leaving holidays for subsequent coats of paint is that glossy paint will leave “textured” areas when you roll over areas that have had a few minutes to set up. This does not look good when the rest of the room is nice and glossy, and that one area, where you overrolled before it had dried, has a inconsistent texture to it that is nearly impossible to make right.

Once you have the ceilings done to your liking, you are ready to do a wall. Why just ‘a’ wall? Several reasons.

  • We are painting this room without the removal of furniture and we will need to jockey the furniture away from the wall we will be painting, and
  • If we short ourselves on the wall paint and need to buy more, if you are cutting in one wall at a time, slight differences in paint color will not be noticeably different.

You will need to clear furniture, wall hangings, and electrical face plates from the wall you will be working on. You should also fill any holes in the wall, blemishes, etc., so that the wall comes out looking nice.

Before you start painting the wall, however, you should paint the trim. This would be baseboards, windowsills, door frames, etc. You needn’t worry about slopping paint onto the walls when doing the trim. Since the walls are painted last, you will be painting over any trim paint that gets onto the walls. In fact, you should make sure that you do overlap onto the walls a bit so that the old color is not left behind when the job is done.

Once you have the trim painted to your liking, it is time to trim up the walls. Now, this is the time to carefully outline the wall color so as to make a nice steady line against the ceiling and the trim. So you trim and roll just as outlined in this post.

Pretty simple. You have the ceiling done, one wall with baseboards and trim done for that one wall. Now, if you have time, you can do another wall. If not, you can put it off until another day. Just remember, your brushes and rollers will not remain moist in the freezer for too long, so you might want to finish your painting tasks and get your brushes cleaned as soon as you can. Six months in the freezer is too long–your paint will have partially dried and will require combing of the brush to remove the paint chunks.

Hope this helps those who paint.


The Wanton Murder of Fresno Bob

Everybody in Gold River knew him as Fresno Bob. Probably because they thought he hailed from Fresno, but I know for a fact that he came in from the James Hill Camp.

The James Hill Camp is a mining community about thirty-five miles due east of Gold River up the rugged Sudsbury Trail. The Camp consists of about 40 tents of various sizes and colors, most of which started out white but became grimy and weathered over time. A few of the tent owners, particularly those who ran businesses out of their tents, had painted the canvas since the settlement was fairly well established and, over time, their appearance had become somewhat unsightly.

Mr. Tittleman, the general store proprietor, even erected a large porch with a business-like facade, with two small windows and a windowed door. Camp folks had to open the door in order to enter his tent store. Unfortunately, during rain storms, a torrent of water cascaded right inside the door that would drench anyone trying to enter.

Mr. Tittleman had a big sign made in San Francisco that he hung above the door that read, “Titleman’s General Store.” Much to Mr. Tittleman’s dismay, the sign-painting company in San Francisco misspelled his name on the sign, but no one seemed to notice, except Mr. Tittleman, who made rather coarse remarks signaling his displeasure over this unforgivable sin.

Except for Mr. Tittleman’s porch and store facade, the jail house was the only other non-canvas structure in the entire camp. It was a wooden building that was constructed the year prior to deal with lawbreakers. Though most of the serious criminals were shipped down to Gold River to face justice, it was not uncommon for camp residents to handle some of the more serious crimes locally.

The deep rope wounds on one of the lower limbs of the great oak tree near the edge of the camp could attest to this. You could also see, on this same lower limb, what would appear to be a railroad spike about six feet out from the trunk of the tree.

As the story goes, the first hanging this tree witnessed did not fare too well. Apparently, when the rope went taut on the lawbreaker being hung on this limb the rope slid down to the bottom of the limb where the man jerked and squirmed for about forty-five minutes resting up against the trunk of the tree with his feet just inches from the ground. You see, the limb was not parallel to the ground. It angled sharply upwards so that the rope would naturally slide down to the bottom of the limb. Hence, the spike. All future hangings, of which there were many, had the rope securely placed above the spike so the hangee would not slip down to the bottom of the limb. After all, if the first person hanged had been just a few inches taller, he might have had to be rehung in order to effect the camp people’s will.

Fresno Bob’s name wasn’t even Bob.

About three years earlier when I first arrived at the James Hill Camp, where he sort of acted as lawman, everybody called him Sheriff Deek. They had even given him a badge to signify his high office, unofficial though it was.

Sheriff Deek McAllister was a very hard man, and a very hard man to like. Everybody said that he was the fastest man with a gun in the entire camp, and pretty accurate too. He had a dark beard, a musty smell about him, and a noticeable limb. I had the privilege of watching him pistol whip a man nearly to death over an imprudent remark he had made to one of the girls at the biggest tent in camp–the Sunrise Saloon.

Now, when he arrived in Gold River, Deek McAllister was not the name he used. He came into Philson’s Saloon and Card Room on the day he arrived. Here, I overheard him telling a town official friend of mine that his name was Bob and that he was just in from Fresno.

My councilman friend replied, “Well, Fresno Bob, let me buy you a whiskey.”

The sobriquet “Fresno Bob,” from that point forward, was the only thing folks around here ever called him.

His appearance had changed since I had seen him last. His beard had grayed some, and he appeared quite a bit older, even though it had only been about two years. But, he seemed to still have his limp, though he seemed to be trying very hard to disguise it. I knew it was him when I moved over closer to him and noticed that musty smell that only he imbued.

I had settled in this town several years ago and I own The Philson Mercantile. I bought it from ole’ man Philson for 1,750 dollars, lock, stock and barrel. His son owns the town saloon that I mentioned earlier. The Philsons seem intent on naming their businesses after themselves, and it seems that the Philson Family own half the businesses in town–The Philson Dress Shop, for the ladies, The Philson Livery, for the horses, The Philson Mining Consortium, which was not a consortium of anyone outside the Philson Family, and the two businesses already mentioned in this story. Except, The Philson Mercantile, which I now own. Maybe I will change the name someday but, for now, it probably helps to keep the name as it is.

Fresno Bob came into the Mercantile a week after he had arrived and bought some cartridges for his pistol and rifle, about a pound of coffee, two pounds of dried beef, and looked wantonly upon a double-barrel shotgun I had up for sale.

He didn’t seem to know me, and I let it rest at that. I was not keen on reminding him that there are people in California who could remember how callous he had behaved when he acted as camp lawman at the James Hill Camp.

Tragically, about ten days ago three men rode into town and unloaded their pistols into Fresno Bob. Needless to say, Fresno Bob did not survive his wounds. They, then, jumped back onto their horses and rode off the same direction they had come.

In my entire life I had never seen such a thing. Sure, I had seen many random gunfights which usually resulted in some man’s death, but I had never seen a man shot dead without having had an opportunity to even defend himself.

Being a respected member of the Gold River community I was asked by the town sheriff to join the posse that was being organized to apprehend these evil men. I accepted. There were nine of us and we set off towards the east, the direction the three men rode off and, not coincidentally, towards the James Hill Camp.

The sheriff of Gold River, who I had thought would be leading our posse, had headed down the road to Dennison with another group of men. So, Clyde Culpepper was deputized to lead our group, since he had the greater experience.

That afternoon we caught up with these three evil men in the James Hill Camp. They were apparently brothers who own a couple of claims along the creek directly south of Camp. Initially, they were aiming to fight it out with us. But, seeing that we had superior numbers and firepower, they decided to surrender peacefully. I was relieved that they made this decision, considering none of our number had ever ridden on a posse before, except Clyde Culpepper. I got the impression from the other members of the posse that they were relieved as well. Except Clyde, who made some rash comments to the men–which I found quite disturbing–for the purpose of goading them into an exchange of something other than their persons.

“Unbuckle your gun belts and slide them this direction you low-life, scum of the earth, murders,” he exclaimed.

The eldest of the three, looked at Clyde, his eyes narrowed, but after a few moments, unbuckled his belt. His two brothers, thankfully, followed his lead. Deputy Culpepper was less thankful.

When we took these three men into custody, it seemed that Clyde Culpepper was itching for a fight from the very beginning of our ride back to town. He taunted the prisoners relentlessly for the entire first hours of the ride, as we all listened without adding to the conversation.

We rode for most of the evening and had to make camp since we took most of the day to get to the James Hill Camp. Most of us had nice beds at home and wanted to push forward, but we were overruled by Deputy Culpepper. In fact, we had all made such a fuss about it, but this seemed to really agitate him so, eventually, we all gave up. Blankets and saddle pillows it would be.

Late that night, I heard Deputy Culpepper, again, taunting our prisoners.

“Fresno Bob was one of the finest citizens of Gold River and you killed him. Won’t take the law long to hang y’all.”

“He deserved all he got,” one of the brothers exclaimed, “he raped and killed one of the saloon girls at the Sunrise.”

“I’ve been to the Sunrise Saloon. Who was it?” the Deputy asked, not totally believing the brother’s story.

“Martha VanPelton.”

“Martha VanPelton,” Culpepper said with a bit of alarm in his voice, “I knew her–she was so young and a lot prettier than the other girls at the Saloon. How do you know it was he who raped and killed Miss VanPelton?”

“She was our sister,” another brother answered hesitantly. “When father died, the family needed the money so she agreed to go to work at the Sunrise Saloon. She was an honorable girl who would not have dishonored our family. Sheriff Deek McAllister, was sweet on Martha and he would not leave her alone. Martha would come home from the Saloon practically in tears complaining to us about his advances.”

Deputy Culpepper continued with his investigation: “Who is this Sheriff Deek McAllister who was sweet on your sister?”

“The man we call Fresno Bob,” I interjected.

Looking surprised, Deputy Culpepper turned to me and said, “What are you talking about?”

“When Fresno Bob came to town I thought I recognized Fresno Bob as the infamous Sheriff Deek McAllister of the James Hill Camp,” I answered.

I relayed to Deputy Culpepper what I knew about Deek and how he had nearly murdered a man for insulting Martha VanPelton when I lived in the James Hill Camp.

Deputy Culpepper listened intently to my story. We both talked for a while with the brothers and got a pretty good picture of what had really happened.

The next day we got back into town in the early afternoon. The Sheriff of Gold River had already arrived back into town and had no luck finding the three murderers.

Neither did we.


We’ve All Been Written Off

September 2, 2020:

Democrat Virg Bernero said Thursday he’ll stop the state from doing business with banks that won’t lend in Michigan if he’s elected governor. Kathy Banks Hoffman, AP

He also said on The Ed Show tonight that, “…the banks have written off Michigan.”

Let me clue you in, Mr. Bernero, the banks have written us all off.


New Computer Work Chair

I’ve had this same crappy chair for 12 years and I am finally going to get something better.

At this point in this chair’s life, it is getting pretty beat up. There is a big tear in the seat cushion, one of the adjustable arms, which are plastic-encased foam rubber, was so tore up that I took it off a year ago. The metal under the foam rubber was exposed and I was afraid that it would scratch up my bass guitar. So off she went!

But, the really big problem, the reason I can’t stand this chair, and I would never buy another one like it is the single-post support for the back. Over time, these single-post supports begin to wobble and start to loosen so that when you try to lean back in the chair to relax, you end up leaning back so far that the chair threatens to keel over.

One last point, this was not a cheap chair.

The chair I am replacing this one with is a Sealy Posturepedic Geneva black leather executive’s chair. Tried out a number of under $400 chairs and this one was the best in my view. Whether it will hold up, who knows. But, at least, it does not have a single-post back support. The arms of the chair are attached to the back so it will be less likely to wobble.

Tomorrow, delivery!