Sunday in the Sun + 6 August 2017

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One of the reasons I glommed onto the idea of Wisconsin as a place to relocate centered around the idea of weather. It’s generally cooler up north (not to mention very cold in winter) compared to most of the US, and, with the Great Lakes just minutes away, there’s also water. Two elements conducive to life going forward…for me, anyway. I don’t like heat, and I’ve grown nervous watching encroaching wildfires as they surrounded me in Colorado. Snowfall levels were intense in January, but overall short-lived this past year, and stream levels were way down by May. Living with a well for water in an era of declining snow-packs and unpredictable rainfall, and let’s not even talk about increasing heat, struck me as risky at best. Too, medical facilities in Steamboat were simply inadequate to my needs going forward, not to mention way over-priced, so…off we went.

Unfortunately, we arrived up here about the same time as half of Arizona and New Mexico, and so ran into a feeding frenzy of real estate buying. I have never seen such nervous, almost panic-stricken buying in my life, and finding a house meant moving fast and trying to secure a contract in the relentlessly frenetic atmosphere of a seller’s market proved difficult. I was in and out of deals on five houses inside of two weeks, and lost out in two bidding wars as I simply refused to get sucked into paying too much for way too little. I finally found something close to ideal as the market simmered down last week, and was able to close within days. Today, some new furniture came; next week more stuff arrives so I’ll at least be able to settle down and write some this weekend. The Deep End of Your Dreams will need 2-3 more chapters to reach a conclusion, so that should take me to September…or thereabouts.

I’m of two minds about writing these gnews posts. I did so originally as a way to deal with my own simmering frustration after watching last November’s election results, which I still view as suspect. Suspect? How so? Well, it seems we’ll never know if electronic voting machines were hacked, and if we did find out just what the devil would we be able to do about it?

Nothing. As in nada. Yet there are tell-tale hints that something like this may have occurred. Probable? Who knows, and the same sorts of rumors popped up in 2000, in Bush v Gore. Maybe it’s just pure BS, or perhaps not, but when predicted outcomes fall so far outside of expectations, something unexpected happened. Polling errors of this magnitude have made a lot of people suspicious of cyber-intervention, but more mundane explanations abound..

And me, of two minds? Why now?

Well, the whole Trump thing may well be coming off the rails on it’s own, yet even so berating Trump seems to me at this point an exercise in futility. Trump, and Trump’s deepest backers, seem endowed with an almost endless contempt for the truth, yet the truth is beginning to alarm a significant number of other people – both in and outside of the republican mainstream – and I think that’s the most significant thing that’s happened in a long, long time.

Almost everywhere I’ve been the past month the divisions I’ve written about in these posts has been astonishingly apparent to even a casual observer. There’s a sense that “something’s wrong” out there, maybe even a simmering hint of betrayed angst amongst the less than sincere Trump aficionado. Still, party stalwarts like former Reagan and Bush I speechwriter Peggy Noonan have had enough. In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed two weeks ago she opined that it was time for Republicans to wake up and smell the rotting roses, because the stench was coming from the general direction of the rose garden, and since her piece came out the cry from more and more conservative organs has echoed her frightened refrain. Trump’s grip on the “establishment wing” of the party has never been firm, but what little he enjoyed has now slipped away, and even political newcomers who rode the Tea-Party wave into the Senate, like Arizona’s Jeff Flake, are turning on Trump. Needless to say, senators like McCain and Graham have made their feelings clear for a while, yet few listened. That’s changing now, and so the past week’s newspapers have been filled with stories about “panic in the West Wing” as yet another new reality soaks in. As Mueller circles overhead, how long before the 25th Amendment is invoked? How long do the establishment types let this go on before they risk Trump taking down the Republican Party? Let alone risk Trump letting Prince Vlad take a sizable chunk of Eastern Europe, or start yet another war in Korea.

Still, for me there’s the whole “conscience” thing. Watching idly while Rome burns seems to me to be the worst thing a person could do, while sitting on fences has never been my thing. I’ve written these posts with the idea in mind that I might help get more people involved in the discussion, because we all need to listen at least as much as we talk about these things.

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With all the noise in the media over the last two months about health care, has socialized medicines’ time finally come? Will Bernie Sander’s vision of Medicare-for-all suddenly become the next Big Thing? Well, read this article, from The American Conservative, on the conservative rationale for universal coverage. With recent polling showing that somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of Americans now favor the idea, we may not be as far off from such a policy change as you think. One thing has emerged as political bedrock, however: once a policy “giving” something like healthcare to people is set in place, it’s not politically feasible to take it away. Even with something as ludicrously inadequate as the ACA (ObamaCare) has proven to be, the act provided a lot more coverage than many people had ever experienced, and Trump’s admonishment that he’ll simply let the act implode is as morally reprehensible as it is illegal. The Executive Branch enforces laws – all laws – not simply the laws it wants to, and the ACA is the law of the land, for now, anyway. Trumps abrogation of executive authority is just another example of his disdain for the American political tradition – at least as envisioned by our founding fathers, and that’s been part of the real “wake-up” call received by policy makers this week. Trump is dangerous, in other words, to the US Constitution. They “get that” now. So, they finally seem to be grasping the idea that ignorance and narcissism are actually dangerous things.

Then there’s the other argument – that our current system (in the US) distorts medical decision making, with financial prerogatives often taking the place of “best practices” arguments. Want to read more? Try this one, from Slate.

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Growing old, and all the idiotic consequences thereof, seems to be a recurrent theme these days, both here and elsewhere around the web. And here’s a good essay from Down Under, by a Gonzo journalist of the Hunter S Thompson School of Reckless Abandon, that contributes to the mayhem. Titled I’m A Good Candidate for Sudden Death, it’s as thoughtful as it is fun to read.

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“Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Friday refused to answer a voter’s questions about a bill critics say will paralyze public health agencies and make it easier for corporations to pollute. He then laughed in the woman’s face when she asked him to stop taking donations from fossil fuel giants.” (Huffington Post)

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From the Food for Thought department: “Donald Trump’s new chief of staff has vowed to impose military discipline and straighten things out, as one might expect of a retired marine general facing a gigantic mess. John Kelly’s appointment has been greeted as “an almost perfect lab test of whether a Trump White House can be functional”: he is highly respected, is not part of a faction, and has been promised that all staff, even family members, will report to him (good luck with that, General Kelly). He may, indeed, quash the crudest outbursts of an internecine war fought on multiple fronts, as he sought to in dismissing director of communications Anthony Scaramucci. Yet it seems highly unlikely that he will be able to end the incompetence and infighting of this administration. It is far from clear that the president really wants him to. There are several reasons for the farcical tussle for control in the West Wing, but the primary one is the man in the Oval Office. “Changing the boss’s behaviour? That would warrant a fifth star,” joked David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama.” (read the original at The Guardian)

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Well, back to work and time to write. Got to find some eclectic bookcases today, too. Later…

19 thoughts on “Sunday in the Sun + 6 August 2017

    • After five years in Steamboat Springs? After 500 inches of snow, and temps down to -42 degrees? I just found a great German restaurant this evening too – and it’s three minutes away. And Oktoberfest coming? A street fest of music going on tonight, after a great farmer’s market this morning? Four blocks from me?
      No, I’m feeling pretty good about Wisconsin right now. And really, could it be that much worse than Maine?
      So, let’s have this conversation in February. I’ll either be ready to move to Florida and half way to dead. or having some fun at AA meetings.

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  1. Hah! I realized I was a beer drinking virgin when my wife, then girlfriend, took me to my first Oktoberfest. Nothing like double fisting beer in the beer tents while your girlfriend sings along to “In Heaven there is no beer” in German.

    We are sitting in Fenway right now. Copperfields might be closed, but despite the changes going on around it, Fenway Park is still Fenway park.

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      • A work friend of mine attended that game – his first visit to Fenway. I told him he had to genuflect when he saw the verdant green and The Wall for the first time. He said he did. I remember my first game … when it was over the newsboys were hawking papers announcing Marilyn Monroe had died. Maybe Adrien will work that into his latest story which I am looking forward to reading more of soon.

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      • There’s something about night games in general, but night games at parks like Fenway and the old Yankee Stadium seem to galvanize the idea of community in a way few places can these days. Going back to our near ancestors, lets say something like twenty thousand years ago, it’s not too hard to imagine communal gatherings around a bonfire of some sort. The birth of oral traditions, mythologizing heroic deeds, sharing accomplishments with one’s group took place around such fires…even coming together on the 4th of July here in America to watch fireworks…that coming together in the night seems like something vital that we’re in danger of losing. I mentioned Field of Dreams advisedly, recalling James Earl Jones’ character “Terrence Mann” talking about the idea of baseball being one of the core unifying elements of modern society…and I think perhaps modern ballparks serve the function of those prehistoric bonfires. They provide one of the few places where we can come together to celebrate community, to mythologize the heroic again, and perhaps that’s a basic human need. I think that’s why I’m so attracted to Lambeau Field these days, too. That stadium was my field of dreams at one point, and I guess I want to feel those feelings once again.

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  2. I am glad you are settling in. Exploring and discovering can be an enjoyable introduction to your new home. I am finding a much deeper creative culture in my new home than I had anticipated. And, if I pace myself, it will take a year to taste my way through the nearby venues without repetition. Yum. A recent change in the ABC regulations has added 10 distilleries to the local tasting rooms.
    Please keep updating your progress and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your point of view.
    Any idea what prompted the awakening and initiative shown by the joint sanction bill tying the hands of the President?

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  3. There’ve been a few pieces on the issue; some point to a concern that the Russians are staging a very large military exercise in the Baltics next month, and there is the usual concern this may be a prelude to another land grab, e.g., Crimea.
    D. Trump Jrs appointments with Russian lawyers, revelations that Sessions may be knee deep in this mess too, and more info that Flynn was doing deals with Turkey and Russia are producing a perfect storm of doubt where the president and collusion is concerned. These are all givens, nothing new.
    What’s changing, in my opinion, is the perception that Trump may be mentally challenged in some way. Dementia? A psychopath? Who knows…but above all else I think his inability to tell the truth is beginning to raise serious warning flags. Why call the Senate’s healthcare bill “mean” one day, then push them to pass it the next? His messaging is often inconsistent with the truth and divorced from reality, so why hitch your wagon to his star? And of course, many republicans don’t consider him a true conservative.
    ((On the other hand, if democrats make too much noise about Russia and it turns out there’s really no story there…then what? They’ll be toast in 2018, and beyond. Yet, if republicans continue to support Trump and it turns out he’s up to his neck in Russia AND as crazy as a loon, they’re going to look worse than bad. And evangelicals supporting Trump may find this there undoing.))
    It’s a fascinating, volatile time in our history. A transitional period rather like the 1865-1890 period, a time when railroad “robber-barons” generated so much inequality that huge populist uprisings threatened to tear the country apart. Well, we’re there again, only this time information overload is making it possible for interested third parties to come in and distort all our political messaging. Putin is the one running this war, and I think the Senate is simply recognizing this reality. They had to, as Trump has been, in one way or another, compromised. I think the senate is simply doing their duty now. Finally. Just in time.

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  4. It is something when you walk from the asphalt, brick and concrete that surround Fenway, through the dank concrete underbelly, before climbing up and bursting out into the light surrounded by a sea of green.

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  5. If you’ve been to the National Cathedral in D.C. you’ll have a pretty good idea of the intended effect, but for sheer brooding power, try Köln, in Germany. That’s a bucket list worthy piece of work if ever there was one, but St Denis, in the northern ‘burbs of Paris, has the most enchanted light.
    And why go to Turkey when Trump is going to build a magnificent, beautiful wall down south?

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    • Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps because the Theodosian Walls have just a tad bit more historical significance, and they actually exist?

      Your comment about the Trump wall gave me a good snicker, which also caused me to snort some of my Captain & coke out my nose. Damm that hurts.

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  6. Did you notice the similarities between the statement by HST just before sending the Enola Gay and Pres Trump to north Korea kj un?

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