The Crack in the Titanic’s Hull

January 18, 2019

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The hands on the clock counting down the time left for POTUS45 began to speed up last night. For nearly two years, nearly every act or tweet by our perpetrator president has sounded the alarm of impeachment, but this is the big one, the iceberg cracking the hull of Trump’s titanically bad presidency. This is the big OOJ, ‘Obstruction of justice’.

Mobsters intimidate or kill witnesses, politicians and mobsters bribe key people to make legal troubles go away. (And we haven’t even gotten to the Russia part yet!) It was OOJ that led to Nixon’s defeat, and it will help lead to Trump’s. His tune will change from “No collusion” to “No collusion, and I didn’t do anything wrong!” He will yell this repeatedly as he looks daggers at his lawyers, who this time will not be able to ‘protect’ him.

I believe Trump is mentally ill, and really believes that he is above the law, impervious to legal punishment; there will be a flood of papers written about Trump’s scale-busting narcissism, and how as he was frog-marched to his prison cell, he screamed profanities to no one in particular, certain of the unfairness.

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Go in the Snow with SnowMeGo

January 12, 2019

There are times when I start a post with “there are times when…” and there are times when I don’t. The cold winter weather conditions in our nearly-beloved Washington DC area threaten to unleash the white stuff. For which people are nearly always not ready. Because the inhabitants are cynical. They do not trust winter storm warnings. They scoff. They down their rum drinks sporting tiny umbrellas with scorn. They don’t even slather their wellies with badger fat. So when the white stuff comes they are as cats let out of a bag. Confused and probably more than a little ticked. First thing you do is activate SnowMeGo, the great new snow-driving traction app from Tiny Umbrellas Smartphone Apps. Then duct tape two dozen phones to each tire, using the 97th phone to control them. With SnowMeGo you’ll zip past all those up-country degens stranded in the piles of snow, because this is one of those times.snow_tire-chain_b

She’s About to Blow!

December 22, 2018

 

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In every possible way, Donald Trump is unfit to run the country as the president. He is playing a role, a reality TV version of the “president,” and being a theatrical player is all he wanted, to be the center of attention of adoring masses on the world’s stage. (When he recited his Presidential Oath in January of 2017, he was just reading his lines; he didn’t understand them, had never read the Constitution, had no intention of keeping any promises the oath demanded.) In character, intellect, temperament and experience, he is completely unfit — completely. We knew this, this is not new. He is the most ignorant person in Washington DC, knowing little to nothing about history, science and world affairs, has never been in the military, and possesses only a cursory understand of government and legislation. He thinks that a philosopher, a “lover of truth” is a loser. Instead of reading and taking the advice of experts, he watches the wrong TV shows and trusts other morons like him. His greedy understanding of the world consists of taking, of graft and corruption, helping rich buddies who will help him; his vocabulary never rises above the playground bully or the mobster.

If the world were a Christmas ornament shop, full of delicate beautiful things, he would be the angry toddler throwing a violent tantrum. So much breakage it registers on scientific instruments. This week’s convulsions in governance are the latest and scariest seismic readings that “she’s about to blow.”

 

How to Spread Ashes

December 18, 2018

I met up for coffee today with master raconteur McFinn. He produced a thick envelope and freed its contents. The main thrust was a document stating that his balance due was $0.00. (This is the kind of document I would like to see more of filling my in-tray.) This reminded me of a solemn event which took place some 25 years ago. I had suffered a basket of Brobdingnagian setbacks, and had been in debt to a long list of creditors. (Kind of like now.) With a bit of luck and determined assiduity I clawed my way back and paid off my numerous debts. One day I had a stack of statements declaring that my balance due was $0.00

I was dating a formidable lady named Claudia, who, like Robert Reich, packed lots of brains, wisdom and gravitas into a tiny frame. When informed of the stack of statements with identical “bal due $0.00” statistics, she said, here’s what we’re going to do. I was to do as I was told — isn’t that so often the case, guys? — and meet her at a particular location at Boeing Field. This is not the official Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) airport, but more of a community airport, where you go for flying lessons, to test your crime-fighting airships and so forth. She instructed me, in the parking lot, to produce the papers with the zeroes and to put them on the ground. She then took out a large fire-starter and ignited the pile. The fire burned a short while, and soon turned the paper into ash. She had me gather up as much of the ash as I could and to put it inside a fresh envelope. Then we went inside the office. I met our pilot, an attractive sort of athletic, caramel-haired woman I guessed to be Australian, and we followed her outside. We strapped the small plane to our backs and soon we were aloft. You must fly around Seattle in a small plane one day, as it is really stunning, what with Mt Rainier, Lake Union and Lake Washington, the San Juan Islands and loads of sturdy trees. The only flat spots are water. When we were comfortably over Lake Washington, I was told to empty the envelope out the window and to spread the ashes of my debt. After we landed, Claudia took me out to an excellent restaurant. I had tingles.

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Smoked Salmon a la Douglass

December 14, 2018
Every year around this time, for the longest time, my dear friend Gary, the one who ended his life earlier this year, would smoke a batch of salmon. After he left the bartending game, where we formed our bonds in the 70’s, he became a cook on a fishing boat, and for years he cooked for crews fishing for salmon up in Alaska. He could always get fresh salmon, and of his incoming inventory he always smoked some in his home-make smoker in his backyard here in Bellingham. He had met my parents when they came out, and he liked them, and he wouldn’t let me go back east to visit during Christmas without taking some of his smoked salmon. When my parents picked me up at the airport, we had a well-scripted play to perform. At the front door, as I stood there exhausted from travel and holding a heavy suitcase, Dad’s hand with the key would pause inches from the front door lock. He’d look at me, “Well?”
I had to put down the suitcase, dig around for the buried treasure, and pull it out to show him; only at that point did he put the key in the lock and gain us entrance. There at the dinner table, in very few moments, my mother would have produced plates, knives, finely chopped onion, cream cheese, and the mini-bagels she preferred. I handed over the package of Gary’s salmon, and she performed the ritual transformation. Over the years we had decided that Gary always kept the salmon in the smoker too long, so instead of being soft and wonderful, it was dry and hard, like this smoked salmon I’m eating now. Mom would toss a handful of the smoked salmon into a mixer, add a glop of cream cheese and apply her magic. In a few minutes we had a fantastic smoked salmon spread, which was liberally slathered on bagels, and we drank bad wine and talked and talked and talked. Such wonderful times.
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The Trump-O-Phile Cake

December 8, 2018

The hottest bakery business news is that over at Make America Gape Again Bakers, flying off the shelves is their newest cake. Confident that soon, all that Donald Trump supporters will be able to do is to send a cake with a file in it to the prison, with red icing that says: “Good Luck, Donnie!” The Trump-o-Phile cake allows beaten and broken trumpettes to assuage their guilt, in a minimally painful way. (Only $49.95 plus shipping, plus an unspecified penalty for making unwise choices.)

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Leave Robert Mueller Alone

June 16, 2018

Robert Mueller is used to dealing with criminals, whether they are politicians or not. He may have solid, substantial evidence of Trump (or those within his orbit) having committed crimes, and wishes to question him, which is understandable. What is not understandable is the flack thrown at Mueller, who stands on a mountain of legal authority to determine precisely what the Russians did to influence the 2016 election, and to find any malfeasance on Trump’s team. It is logical that Mueller would wish to speak with Donald Trump personally.

Someone who has done something wrong, someone who has something to hide, a person with criminal activity under his belt, who thinks like a mobster and lies constantly, would fear revealing the truth, would be afraid of being lured into a trap, of being caught. An honest person, a person of integrity with a reverence for truth more typical of the past presidents we honor like Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, would want the truth to be revealed, would want to tell their side of the story, and would want the investigation to be thorough, transparent and lawful.

 

 

 

Keep an Eye on Rickie

June 15, 2018

 

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After the first day of US Open competition at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in the Hamptons, plenty of praise should be heaped on old guys. Steve Stricker (51) and Jim Furyk (48) both shot 3-over 73 on a windy day, tying with 16 others in 19th place, when the average score was 76.48; this is the highest first-round US Open score in over 30 years. (Again, par is 70.) Only four players were under par at 69, including world #1 Dustin Johnson, and only one player was at even par, Jason Dufner. Former #1 Tiger Woods had a bad day, starting with a triple-bogie 7 on the first hole, and wound up with a 78, along with geezer Ernie Els, winner in ’94 and ’97. Semi-geezer and 6-time runner-up Phil Mickelson was at 77.

But my eye is on the holder of the cleanest scorecard, Rickie Fowler, an anti-geezer at 29 years of age. When we talk about a “clean scorecard” we mean that there are lots of pars, and few deviations. Sure, while a coveted card carries lots of birdies and eagles, that rarely happens without dirty marks such as bogies and double-bogies creeping in. By far most cards have a mix of below-par scores and above-par scores. Fowler had the cleanest card today by far, scoring 16 pars, a bogie and (gulp) a double-bogey. That means that on only two holes were there over-par blips: a bogey on #2, and a double on #14 — amazing consistency. He hit 11 of 14 fairways, and 12 of 18 greens in regulation. When he missed a green he recovered well with chipping and accurate sand shots; clearly his putting helped him to churn out pars. He has 8 wins, but no majors; he’s come in second at majors 3 times. I’d keep an eye on him.

 

 

The Missing Wallet

September 6, 2014

 

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September, 2014 

Some of my relatives have posted some Douglass Family stories recently, in anticipation of the clan gathering to take place soon in Maryland. I love stories. Stories form the basis of history and learning. It’s the first thing you do with a very young child: you do them a favor and read them (or tell them) a story. Stories teach us language and life lessons, and sometimes we learn a moral or two. We learn about love and bravery, and form opinions about who we want to be. The best of these Douglass Stories were written by my brother Dave, the one with the well-deserved English degree. I’d like to add a story of my own.

It was a summer back in the 70’s, and I think it was during our years at Washington College. (Really good years.) Dave was earning some money working on a Virginia ranch managed at the time by my cousin’s husband, Mitch. I drove down from Rockville, planning to spend a few days there, and looking forward to some time with my brother and our cousin Donna Susan.

One of the first things that happened after I arrived was a horseback ride with Dave. I think I was just stepping out of the car when they attacked me. It was, “Hi JD. Wanna ride a horse?” And before I could say, “What about insurance?” they had me in the saddle. Back then I carried a wallet like most men did, in the back pocket of my jeans. It struck me that the jarring of butt against hard leather might cause my wallet to be ejected from its haven in the pocket. Mitch said that in all his time in the saddle that had never happened to him. It would have taken less time than a golf swing to take my wallet out and put it in the car or Donna’s hand, but I decided not to. Heck, Mitch was an old hand at this, what’s the big deal?

So Dave and I set out on a cruise, just the two of us. We went through trees, by a meadow and a creek, alongside a nudist camp (just kidding!) and all over the place. It was great. The only times I had been on a horse had been at carnivals, when I was just knee-high to a cricket, and was led in a circle on a pony. This was a full-grown, adult horse putting out more horsepower than I was used to. We trotted, cantered, galloped and all those things one did on a horse. I was having the time of my life.

At one point we came out of a stand of trees into a clearing, and my brother looked over at me with that characteristic sparkle of trouble in his eyes. He said, “My horse is faster than yours” and downshifted. He took off, his horse kicking up dust right in my in my face. I thought, “To hell with that!” and took off after him. I don’t know where we went, or even how far we went. I didn’t know the territory and just tried to do my greenhorn best to not fall off the horse and hopefully keep him in view. We started going faster.

Dave looked good on a horse, that natural look that movie stars with big chins have. I looked more like someone sitting on top of an old VW bus used for drivers ed in the Swiss Alps. After a while we wound up back at the house, tired but happy. It had been great. Then I reached for my wallet and found nothing but a sore bottom. I panicked. “My wallet’s gone!” Plenty of bad words that I might have heard for the first time at Tom and Tillie’s came spilling out.

We organized a search party like someone had been lost on Mt Rainier, and began retracing our horses’ steps. Nothing. My heart pounded harder — money, ID, credit cards, an ancient, unused condom — all of it was gone. Donna Susan was a model of stoicism and a steadying presence, insistent that I calm down and eat dinner. The wallet wasn’t going anywhere, and it was getting dark soon. We could look for it tomorrow.

In the comfortable house, beers were produced without delay, and there may have been whiskey shots too; the memory can play tricks under duress and after a year or two. Dave, Mitch and I were in the living room, while Donna was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Then came the question I will never forget: “JD, can you eat a whole steak?”

What does that mean? What is a “whole steak”? A naïve boy from the suburbs, I said “sure.” We moved into the dining room and sat. Donna took my plate and shot me a glance I classified as ‘enigmatic.’ She returned moments later with a thick steak that was bigger than my plate in all directions. I stared. Someone scooped mashed potatoes onto a side dish for me while I was paralyzed; there was no room for anything else on the plate except for that large slab of cow. I found my knife and fork.

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I had been angry, frustrated and frightened by the unnecessary loss of my wallet; I had been hungry. I lost myself in that steak, chewing and cutting and stabbing and chewing. I tossed down large gulps of beer, and tore into the steak, as if chewing more furiously and eating faster would bring my wallet back.

After eating, and then sitting on the couch in a meat-induced stupor, I couldn’t shake the idea that my wallet was gone. It grated on me. I pleaded with Donna Susan and Mitch to let me look for it some more. (I must have been a bigger whiner than George Costanza ever could be.) We enlisted some of the men who worked on the farm to go with us, and soon we had a posse, armed with small trucks with racks of high-intensity lights on top. We drove through trees and trails, turning night into day and trying to reconstruct our route on the afternoon’s ride. Now and then we saw the illuminated eyes of deer, but saw nothing else. They must have thought I was nuts. Dejected and exhausted, I returned to the house and tried to sleep.

The next morning brought contradiction, in that I really was capable of eating again. Cousin Donna served a large and delicious breakfast — she was my sainted angel, and kept my coffee cup full; I was sure she felt my pain. (I am so thankful for family.) Without the advantage of using cranes to stand up, Dave and I found horses, saddled up, and started out, the obvious plan being to once again retrace our tracks. We trotted slowly, eyes on the ground looking for a sign.

We covered a lot of ground, going through fields, meadows, and lots of other kinds of Mother Nature I have no words for. We came across one area that was a hay field, but we recognized it as a particularly bumpy part of our horseback ride the previous day. We dismounted — that was new for me, to ‘dismount’ from a horse — and started combing the area. I was frustrated and angry — I was NEVER going to find my wallet. I started going through all the steps I would have to take, cancelling credit cards, trying to resurrect my life, finding phone numbers and the other crucial detritus one couldn’t live without. I was dreich and lost in thought.

Dave was about 30 yards away and called out, interrupting my thought. “JD, what does your wallet look like?” I didn’t even look up. “Oh, it’s black leather like every other wallet.” “Does it look like this?” 

What?

I looked over, and Dave was holding up a wallet. It looked like MY wallet. I ran over for a closer look.

It was a miracle, a needle found in a haystack, a wallet lost on a miles-long horseback ride out in the country. I gave him a hug. We had a big steak again that night, and for some reason it tasted better than the one the evening before.

A few years later I lost my wallet again, this time in the wilds of Washington DC, and once more it was found by someone else when common sense declared that such an event would be impossible. But that story will be told another day, and it still won’t be as special to me as this one.

J.D. Douglass

 

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Tampa’s Darwinian Dominator

August 23, 2012

Romney, Ryan, and the other Republican also-rans face new competition from Rebus the Rhesus. Polls show that the newest prehensile-tailed sensation to arrive in time for the Grand Old Primate party convention in Tampa has grabbed low-hanging votes. Pundits suggest that the only chance for the other Republican candidates to dislodge this Darwinian dominator from the electoral tree is if Rebus slips on a political banana peel.