Watching the Supreme Court

Watching and reading the current Supreme Court confirmation, one thing has been sticking out is the argument the GOP has been pushing the is that Democrats started the “judicial wars” (which has given them the prerogative to push this through nominee), and they continuously name Robert Bork.

Unsurprisingly, Bork had an interesting record. Early on he defended segregation, was critical of individual privacy, held views critical of the Fourth Amendment, believed in the right for government to censor writers and artists, and argued the Civil Rights Act was an imposition on Americans. Looking at his record as a whole, he seemed balanced, but there were some quarks in his record that stuck out.

The most damning fact was that he was key in the ‘Saturday Night Massacre‘ when President Nixon ordered the firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Cox after Cox asked for the tapes he’d recorded in the Oval Office. The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General each resigned in turn after being given the order, leaving Bork acting attorney general, who then fired Cox. Bork claimed he carried out the order under pressure, but in his memoirs, he claimed that after he fired Cox, Nixon promised him the next seat on the Supreme Court[wiki]

Even with that background (hell, Strom Thurmond, of all people, called him “controversial“), he was given full, bipartisan hearings, was heard from, and the Senate gave him a full up-or-down vote on the floor.

Let’s remember that Merrick Garland never got this opportunity due to one party citing the “Biden rule.”

Sen. Joe Biden had said in a 1992 Senate floor speech — when there were no high court vacancies to fill — that “once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.”

Admittedly, these days, it is hard to tell when the political season is underway. when the sitting president starts his reelection campaign days after he takes office color it’s hard to tell, but five weeks before a presidential election, that would seem to be a “season.” I hope those voting remember the hypocrisy that’s been put in office.

Watching Northern Colorado burn

Sitting here in the cold dark of the afternoon, ash and smoke from an over 500 thousand square miles of  fires just west of us dimming the sky to an early dusk, I’m fully cognizant of the impact of climate change. What I don’t get is why all the politicians and all the climate deniers dodge and weave anytime this comes up and says it’s not their fault.

It’s like walking into a room with 2 children and a broken vase and asking who broke it.  Not it!

The deniers, the politicians. and the conspiracy idjits all say “this has happened before, this is the natural way of the world.”

Technically, yes, the planet has seen apocalyptic climate change many times over its existence, we see it in the geological record. But these changes in the past occurred over hundreds of thousands if not millions of years, and the recovery from these changes took just as long to set back to normal. And very little survived tell the tale, mostly just rocks and fossils.

What we’re seeing now is the impact I’m just a few 100 years, in the common denominator of those couple 100 years has been our societies, our industrialization, our population growth. Essentially, we gave mother Gaia a very bad fever.

Even if you don’t want to accept that, accept that humanity is the cause for the current situation. Does it really f****** matter what caused it?

It’s obvious it’s happening, ask any firefighter up in the mountains right now, ask anyone who is going through multiple hurricanes in a season down South, ask anyone who is watching their streets flood on a sunny day on  the  East Coast.

It just doesn’t f****** matter who caused it. What matters is what can we do to mitigate it? What changes can we make to reduce the damage that will come in the future? Hoping for leaders that will look to the future, not their daily ratings or their reelection.

Reflections on an eve

Getting ready for my bookstore prep, thought I’d share this as my fiftieth eve approaches. 

It goes back to my seventh grade English teacher at South Jr. High in Boise. She had the class write up letters to ourselves, seal them in an envelope with our names and year on it, and give to her for a safekeeping. All she asked was that we’d come back for them after high school graduation

I’m not sure how many others came back, but I made it a point. I remember watching her sort through the boxes, labeled by year, from all the classes she’d taught, handling each box with a graceful dignity.

The lid from my year was lifted, she flipped through the envelopes like a card catalog until she had mine. She asked if I’d stay to read it, not wanting to know the contents, but just curious as to my response. Rereading a letter to myself with only a difference of five years was strange, the things I found important, the questions I asked. Looking back there are questions should’ve I asked her, but those are the questions of an older, not younger, me.

The letter’s been lost in the ensuing years of moves and deployments, as has the memory of the exact contents, but I still recall the reading proper, the feelings it brought up.

Thinking of that letter helps enforce my practice of keeping a journal and being able to randomly pluck one from the pile, cracking to a random page. Trying to maintain better breadcrumbs, especially after finding MS can lead to some memory issues.

Along those lines, I’ve a habit that I’ve been doing every ten years since my thirtieth birthday, but this particular reread involves books by others.

I do annual rereads often, usually for a holiday, like reading Martin Luther King on his birthday, Rabbie Burns on Burns Day, Bobby Frost and other poets just because. The obvious stuff. But there’s other reads that hit me harder than others, and deserve a bit more work.

The reads that changed my perspective on life the most were “Life without Principle” by Thoreau and Meditations by Aurelius. 

I reread both often, but I’ve made it a point every decadal birthday to go out, find and buy a new copy. Then, pencil in hand, I reread and mark up the points that interest me. After all that’s done, I’ll take the older copy, or copies, and compare to see how my train of thought has changed I since the last reads. 

If you have a favorite book that you’ve writ up the same, it’s a unique time capsule. Do the same passages still capture you? Why don’t older highlights make the same impact? What’s happened betwixt to cause the change? All sorts of questions can come to mind. Sometimes there might even be answers. Some you might even like.

And that again is how I’ll be spending my birthday on Columbus day, my fiftieth, this tumultuous year. With everything that has been going on this year, falling back on a routine of reflection seems to be a sound and comforting plan.


So much for “Love thy Neighbor”

Larimer County is on the raggedy edge of maintaining our state exemption allowing our current level (I know, not great, but more than we’d be allowed otherwise) of business, bar, and restaurant openings as it is with campus opening back up.

Christian Leader Sean Feucht’s Visits To Fort Collins And Colorado Springs Worry Health Officials

Now we have the religious folk, who don’t even live here coming in, ignoring what we’re trying to do, then moving on to let us deal with the consequences. Outside agitators of the religious type.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m not of organized religion. I’ve got no problems with anyone practicing their own religion, as long as it doesn’t affect others.

This is just another example to be added to my overflowing bag of religious types using their “god” to push their personal beliefs then move on leaving the damage behind.

Simply put, “Love thy neighbor” in my world means not getting them sick.

Highlights from the recent DHS Whistleblower Document

If this allegation is proven, it’s a particularly damning assessment of actions to undermine National Security while promoting an administration’s agenda. If even one of the five accusations is proven, the implications are enormous of a sitting administration’s appointees actively conspiring to alter intelligence reports to match what the administration is promoting as fact to further its aims.

Summary of Accusations

  • Perjuring Testimony before Congress regarding the Border Wall
  • Changing intelligence reports to support administration policies in denying asylum for Central American refugees
  • Changing intelligence assessments to downplay Russian election interference and to highlight Iran and China instead.
  • Changing intelligence on local threats to highlight “left” leaning groups
  • Changing intelligence to support President’s public statements re “ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups.”

Dramatis personae

  • Brian Murphy (“Mr. Murphy”),Principal Deputy Under Secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Whistleblower
  • Kirstjen Nielsen (“Secretary Nielsen”), former DHS Secretary
  • Miles Taylor (“Mr. Taylor”), former Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary Nielsen
  • Chad Wolf (“Mr. Wolf”), the Senior Official currently serving as Acting DHS Secretary
  • Kenneth Cuccinelli (“Mr.Cuccinelli”), the Senior Official serving as Deputy DHS Secretary.
  • Kristen Marquardt (“Ms. Marquadt” [sic]), Senior Counselor To the Secretary at Department of Homeland Security
  • Clare Grady (“Ms. Grady”), then-Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary
  • David Glawe (“Mr. Glawe”), Office of Intelligence and Analysis Under Secretary
  • Matthew Hanna (“Mr. Hanna”), Mr. Glawe’s Chief of Staff

From the posted complaint at intelligence.house.gov, copy below

Page 4: Perjured Testimony before Congress regarding the Border Wall

On or about October 29, 2018, Mr. Glawe informed Mr. Murphy that instructions from Mr. Taylor and Ms. Marquadt had been issued for Mr. Murphy to ensure the intelligence assessments he produced for Secretary Nielsen’s review supported the policy argument that large numbers of KSTs [known or suspected terrorists] were entering the United States through the southwest border.

page 5

Page 9: Changing intelligence reports to support administration policies in denying asylum for Central American refugees

Mr. Cuccinelli stated he wanted changes to the information outlining high levels of corruption, violence, and poor economic conditions in the three respective countries. Mr. Cuccinelli expressed frustration with the intelligence reports, and he accused unknown “deep state intelligence analysts” of compiling the intelligence information to undermine President Donald J. Trump’s (“President Trump”) policy objectives with respect to asylum. Notwithstanding Mr. Murphy’s response that the intelligence reports’ assessments were consistent with past assessments made for several years, Mr. Cuccinelli ordered Messrs. Murphy and Glawe to identify the names of the “deep state” individuals who compiled the intelligence reports and to either fire or reassign them immediately

page 9

Page 10: Changing intelligence assessments to downplay Russian election interference and to highlight Iran and China instead.

In mid-May 2020, Mr. Wolf instructed Mr. Murphy to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran. Mr. Wolf stated that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

page 12

The two men met on July 8, 2020, at which time Mr. Wolf stated to Mr. Murphy the intelligence notification should be “held” because it “made the President look bad”. Mr. Murphy objected, stating that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons for political embarrassment. In response, Mr. Wolf took steps to exclude Mr. Murphy from relevant future meetings on the subject. The draft product was eventually completed without Mr. Murphy’s involvement and was made public in a leak to the media by unknown individuals. It is Mr. Murphy’s assessment that the analysis in the leaked “completed draft” attempts to place the actions of Russia on par with those of Iran and China in a manner that is misleading and inconsistent with the actual intelligence data

page 12

Page 12: Change intelligence on local threats to highlight “left” leaning groups

Mr. Cuccinelli stated that Mr. Murphy needed to specifically modify the section on White Supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent “left-wing” groups.

page 13

Page 15: Change intelligence to support President’s public statements

During multiple meetings between the end of May 2020 and July 31, 2020, Mr. Murphy made protected disclosures to Messrs. Wolf and Cuccinelli regarding abuse of authority and improper administration of an intelligence program with respect to intelligence information on ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups operating throughout the United States. On each occasion, 15 Mr. Murphy was instructed by Mr. Wolf and/or Mr. Cuccinelli to modify intelligence assessments to ensure they matched up with the public comments by President Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and “anarchist” groups.

page 15

Presidential Thoughts

What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course? 

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

Remarks by the President at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches
The First Family waits with former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush prior to the walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia wait with former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush prior to the walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Alabama, March 7, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Kept quiet too long

We all stare at our Reflections in bright shiny bubbles, rarely looking outside the walls that reflect our cravings for information that we feel support our truths, our beliefs.  We all live in these information “bubbles,” fenced in by our social “likes,” the blogs and websites we visit daily. The bubbles tell us what we want to hear, how we should think, confirm our thoughts and allow us to move on without much more thought.

It’s much like saying you’ve “traveled” to other countries, when in reality you stayed in the resort bubble with the pool bar and private beach, never venturing into the local neighborhoods, or conversing with the locals

And the worst of it? We fight to ensure that these bubbles do not pop: we denounce,  we shout, we argue, we spat with anyone who might dare try to stretch the bubble fearing that it may pop, fearing we may be cast from our tribe.

I watch the events going on, I see the posts and the memes bouncing around, unsure who is throwing these out or if they’re actually written by the folk posting them.

I watch a convention where family members are front and center promoting the candidate, grooming themselves to be The Heirs of the Dynasty.

I watch one candidate do photo ops, while the other asks asks and listens to the affected.

I see peaceful protests tear gassed and paint balled. I see violent protests where self proclaimed, do-it-yourself law and order is condoned. I hear of people pulled from the streets into vans by unidentified members of … what? Unaccountable enforcers? Self-appointed protectors?

I hear the cries for Law and Order, but I rarely hear the cries for Justice from on high. The calls for Justice come from the citizens, cast to the deaf ears of leaders. I remember back to 2016, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”  

Now we’re warned of the dystopian violence and crime that will befall us after the election, destroying our nation, if our current president loses. Yet, this all has happened on his watch.

Now, look around. Here we are, on the raggedy edge, seeing the very things we were told the votes would prevent. Also, from the same speech, “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.” How protected do we as citizens feel three and a half years later?

I see the numbers every day, my friends sick, unemployed, facing evictions, foreclosures, shuttering their hard earned businesses. Every day gives us 250 times the Benghazi deaths. Where are the years of Republican hearings? There were boasting tweets early on of saving 700 jobs, now we’ve lost, what, twenty-eight million?

Every 3 days gives us the same number of deaths that befell us the last time are government ignored our intelligence agencies in 2001.  Where is the commission to investigate the failings? 

To cover that first failure, from a military perspective, I’ve watched from the bench for nineteen years as over 7,000 of my brothers and sisters came home, their families given flags and thanked for their sacrifice. Seven days at our current numbers. But it’s OK, it’s pointed out that our fatality rate is one of the lowest in the world, and “it is what it is.

A generation ago, we led the world, we led the world and went to the moon with the words “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” 

Presidential words, presidential leadership, presidential inspiration. Something I’d like to hear and see again.

Ars Poetica

Right off the bat with poetry,
if you’re reading this,
you’re doing it wrong.
Poetry is meant to be heard.
It’s the way that it’s always been.
So use your diaphragm,
your voice to read it out loud
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a coffee shop ,
have the guy typing on his laptop give you a glare
while you howl about your Ginsburg

But yet you look at the poem,
lying there on it’s page etherized
like a cat in the fog
and you think about how gto read it.
You see the odd line feeds
breaking up the words the sentences
and you think to yourself
how should I read this? You read it.

The line feeds Maybe pauses
or maybe breaks
or they may be just flourishes
affectations
put on the Page by the poet
because he thought it looked pretty.
Unless of course you’re

                 Mr
            E
        E
Cummings
                     and you
              spread
                          the words
about           the             page
             (randomly)

like traffic on a Wyoming freeway
to try to give it that look you call Jazz.
But I never really liked jazz.

The poem is the words coming home

is the metaphors,
the poem is the similes,
the order is important
but the words
and the sounds they convey
of what the poet it’s trying to say

Yet, here we are,
lines later,
still looking at the page
as I baited you
with blank space
With the thought
you should read
What your need to
Hear

Nursing Home Christmas

A quiet call from a dim room
Catches my ear
I call for nurse and go in
A frail arm waves to me
and takes my hand
Trembling like a wounded bird
I hold lightly, a grip of gossamer
Not wanting to crush
with my wheelchair grip
As I wait for the nurse
The breaths become shallower
Until they stop
The grip loosens
I feel a wisp brush my cheek
And I’m alone in the room
Until the nurse comes in
While christmas blinks in the window