Trumps Gift

One of the things that make the United States a glorious country is that no artificial restrictions are placed on the abilities of anyone to attain anything they aspire towards.  Many cultures prevent achievement through a caste system or other social barriers, (classes), that make upward mobility impossible.  In this country we have no “classes” with one hideous exception, that being the “ruling class”.

Love him or hate him, President Trump has proven that any meddling in the status quo of the ruling elite will not be tolerated.  When it comes to a lust for power, there is no difference between parties or people.  Behind closed doors, politicians collude amongst themselves to keep their positions, their power and their fortunes.  When members of both political parties demonstrate equally ample quantities of hate and animus towards this political neophyte Donald Trump, it indicates to me that the President is really on to something.

There were always the indicators of a fix in the system, yet most voters either held their nose and voted for the lesser of evils, or begrudgingly supported candidates who seemed fine, only once in office to be swallowed alive in the swamp.  Broken promises and government gone crazy finally awakened angry voters.  Trump’s mere presence in this corrupt system has unmasked the panic of the power brokers once their fiefdoms were threatened.  Trump voters were right in their suspicions, just look at the reactions of the ruling class as they lose control.

The founding principles of this nation; self-governance and co-equal branches are similar to an orchestra.  The strings, horns and woodwinds blend and compliment one another, each ebbing and then flowing into and out of prominence, depending on the percussion to set the tempo and finally the conductor to manage it all.  Trump marches to his own drummer and this leaves the traditional power-players performing out-of-tune with no predictable beat to follow.

With typical Senate campaigns costing upwards of 30 million dollars, those who underwrite that expense do so to see a return on investment.  That means control over the candidate in exchange for the seat in office.  When this system was bypassed by Trump, it took away that influence.  Whatever you think of the President, thank him for unmasking the scoundrels and proving that those in the ruling class put their own interests in front of their constituents.  Although “follow the money is a long-used cliché, it is nevertheless a truism.  When Trump owes no one anything, he is free to be his own man.

Add to this the direct link to people via Twitter and his unwavering goal of dismantling the regulatory state and rebuilding a judiciary that respects precedent and law without legislating from the bench and you have at least a start in the right direction for the people finally awakening to the reality that for far too long we have failed to pay attention and government has morphed into a beast from the swamp.

Let the drainage continue.


Understanding People and the Cats That Keep Them.

Those who loath cats do so out of ignorance, intimidation and misunderstanding.   Cats pose an interesting and challenging relationship.  Dogs simply fill a lonely soul’s need.  You don’t “choose” a cat.  If on the other hand you decide to possess a dog, you go out and pick one, like apples or a couch.  You can’t do that with a cat, no one actually possesses a cat.  A proper relationship with a feline must begin with the animal seeking you out, not the other way around.  Go looking for a cat and it will forever view you as weak, needy and pathetic, like a dog owner.

During the initial meet-and-greet, when the cat needs you most, it is imperative that you take advantage of the power imbalance.  In that rare moment, you forever and firmly imprint on the animal the fact that it came running to you and not the other way around.  Throughout the life of that newfound relationship, you and the cat will be constantly jockeying for superior position, you in order to keep that power, and the cat, in the never-ending struggle to wrench it from you.

All relationships are like this.  We are perpetually in a state of trade-offs and consolations of either being in control, being controlled, (or God forbid, being out-of-control.)  The healthiest human relationships hover around a ratio of 50-50 in who controls what, but how many relationships are healthy?  And while it might initially feel good to have a 95-5 control advantage over your cat or your lover, neither will tolerate that level of helplessness and imbalance for very long.  While even-steven might make for a happy human relationship, that power imbalance over the cat needs to be comfortably in your favor but not slavish.

Cats are natural born killers, only seemingly domesticated by virtue of their own willingness to play nice.  Google “cat fights” if you need convincing that the line is scarily thin between purring, loving lap warmer and flesh-shredding bloodletting killer of the first order.  While cats try to satisfy their blood lust with birds and rodents, make no mistake, with one hit of acid, exposure to rabies or a brain aneurism, your apartment could become a major crime scene, with you the victim of a thrill killing courtesy of Fluffy-the-Feline Assassin.  Afterwards, the cat would sleep peacefully without a tinge of regret.

As a counter to that possibility, all cats should be out-door cats.

By letting the cat out, you are saying, “Go ahead, go, do as you please, take your chances in traffic, tease the dog or skunk, eat from the garbage, live it up, decide for yourself between water and anti-freeze, have a completely unsupervised free-for-all ball.  When you come back, you’ll tell yourself it is only for the food, but we both know the truth.”

Power established.

Cats have conquered even those who truly hate them.  Think about all of the laws, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning dogs, requiring leashes at all times, a total lack of freedom and hyper supervision.  Dog parks?  Please.  Cats have the run of the planet.  There are no cat-controlling laws because cats don’t play by any rules.  Recognizing this, authorities didn’t even bother to try legislating cat control.

Cats are the Hell’s Angels of the domesticated animal world, true one-percenters flipping off everyone while purring a pretender’s song.  Dog owners carry poop-bags and collect hot feces as their reward for taking Bowser for a walk.  Incredible that “Man’s Best Friend”, demands of his partner the manhandling of his crap.  Some kind of friend.

Cats take a dump in the neighbor’s flowerbed, kick a few claw fulls of dirt in the general direction and calmly move on to return to their neighborhood patrol duties.  By killing a chipmunk and depositing it on your door mat, a feigned sign of submission which every cat fancier mistakenly takes as the highest form of praise, what fluffy is really telling her person is, “This could be you.”

As a mature man with decades of experience, I know that convention today portrays cat fanciers in the exclusive domain of lesbians, crazy old ladies and the homeless.  While Bowser the Buffoon is tangled up in his owner’s legs, leash wrapped around his head and poop-bags flailing, my little cat is doing her own thing while I do mine.  While my macho friends reinforce their tenuous manhood with large dogs, long trucks and loud motorcycles, I sneer at this obvious sign of their sexual “short-comings”, clearly demonstrating an over-compensation mechanism that sadly still has them falling short.

One of my lady friends was telling me how much she detested cats.  For her, it is an instant deal-breaker once she learns of a potential date’s fondness for felines.  Given her record of accomplishment regarding relationships, I’m thinking she ought to veto Danny the dog-lover and experiment with men who are comfortable in their own skin and don’t feel the need to compensate by way of distraction via shiny, loud objects, spray-on tans and fake boobs.

I like pink shirts, cool shoes and cats.  I don’t feel the need to compensate or explain myself, it ought to be self-evident, real men like cats.  The companionship of a cat requires from both human and animal the loving toleration of each other, yet a mutual agreement to keep a respectable distance, both physically and emotionally.  Recognizing and appreciating that balancing act is the essence of understanding ourselves and our abilities to cope in a complex and amazing world.  Cats keep us humble while we suppress the killer hiding inside that purring, loveable ball of fur.

Dogs and their “owners” on the other hand are needy co-dependents.

If this is all odd, confusing and maybe even insulting to you, enjoy a lifetime supply of warm feces, twice daily, a few millimeters of shopping bag plastic the only barrier between your fingers and Fido’s feces, courtesy of Man’s Best Friend.

The cats I know would never demand such demeaning actions from their human companions.  There are rules of common decorum for god’s sake, even amongst killers.


Joe Hester

Everyone needs a role model, someone to look up to, demonstrating by example how to better live our lives and nobly conduct our affairs.  Finding such people is rare because possession of those qualities is scarce.  Recognizing the purveyor of such wisdom requires astute observation, as well as some luck, so not to miss the opportunity.  You must seek it.  It won’t find you if you’re not paying attention.

In my life, that man was Joe Hester.  Many have known him as a politician, or a lawyer, or a judge.  To his friends and me he was just Joe.

We met on the squash court at the Y in the 70’s, he, an accomplished player and me the upstart beginner.  Joe was a fine athlete, a collegiate tennis player at Yale, a solid A level squash player.  It took me three years to develop the skills in order to be barely competitive with Joe and another few years to begin winning.  I think Joe admired the tenacity of a self-taught, public school upstart chasing, catching, matching and finally surpassing the Ivy League, varsity team, private lesson stalwart.  The grace he demonstrated during that year’s long transition was inspiring.  Rather than being bitter about his defeat, Joe celebrated my improvement.  He saw it as a project he helped to flourish.  My advancements gave Joe as much pleasure as if they were his own because indeed they were; we were making each other better by being fierce competitors, pushing each other to advancements impossible to cultivate without mutual adversity.

As our relationship grew beyond the squash court, I came to know Joe’s family, his friends, and his personal life.  Joe was uniquely genuine.  When he asked how you were, he really wanted to know.  If a blank canvas expresses a life and our living provides the tints and brush strokes, Joe’s landscape combined the vividness of bold colors with the quiet subtleties of subdued shadows and a depth of field that commands your attention.

Squash, competition and the adversity of the contest exposes phoniness and character flaws as spatters of thick, black oil onto a vivid, bright white canvas that for better or worse, hangs in plain sight in the gallery of men’s minds, unalterable except by performance, honor and nobility.  Joe’s canvas glistens only with colors.  Nowhere appears a flaw or an opaque, stretched, errand shadow, only the vividness of a life well lived.

J1Joe passed away last week.  Family and friends celebrated his life while consoling each other with sharing personal stories of how he touched us all.  It was one of the greatest honors of my life to know Joe and humbling to be asked to carry him to his final resting place.  Joe never said good-bye at the end of a phone call, ironic when judges generally are known for always having the last word.  So, as usual, the conversation ends without a good-bye from him, but this time, a final good-bye from me to my friend.  Godspeed.




Acknowledging Evil

Whether you love or hate guns, we all formulate the same question after mass shootings:

How do we prevent evildoers?

People are evil not things.   Police represent the good and gang-bangers the bad, yet whether guns are in the holsters of police officers or in the waistbands of gang members, they are just interchangeable objects.

Peoples intentions define good and evil, not the objects they wield.  Intent is uniquely human.  Objects have no intention.

Frustration comes from the realization that identifying evil in people might only happen after a horrible act.  Controlling objects is easier than controlling people.  Vanquishing guns does nothing to address evil.  Evelyn Waugh reminds us that, “There’s only one great evil in the world today. Despair.”

A free society recognizes and acknowledges the existence of and even the toleration of evil amongst its members.  Mikhail Bulgakov said, “What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?”

Ursula LeGuin answers him: “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.”

Realizing that freedom casts many shadows, we should not despair over the existence of evil, nor let its threat extinguish our resolve to remain free.