ON THE LAST DAY OF YOUR LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

So last night, I was watching Saturday Night Live. Minimally, but sort of and at some point they were talking about “living your life as if each day were going to be your last day on Earth.” Given how Earth is doing, that could be tomorrow or later today, but in the meantime …

It occurred to me that I have no idea what I would do if I knew it was my last day. Get really stoned? Nah. Call everyone I ever cared about? Probably not. The phones would be very busy. Does anyone actually have an image of what they might do if they knew this was their last day? Does anyone even think about it? I figure my last day will probably be in a hospital all hooked up to wires and tubes and things that go beep in the night. I probably won’t know it’s my last day because I doubt I’ll be conscious of it being any kind of day — or night.

I’m willing to bet that not one single person actually has “a plan” for their final day on earth or cares to make such a plan. So I think rather than living as if each day might be our last, we should just try to make every day as good as we can, not be excessively grumpy, ill-tempered, or rude.

On the road

Any day could be our last. We could be hit by a bus, crushed by a falling tree, have a stroke, heart attack, or fall down the stairs. Or the elevator cords could snap, an earthquake could eat us or fire sweep through our peaceful neighborhood. No one has a calendar that tells them how they will fare on any day.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

So I suggest we live in the moment, as much as we are able given the reality that we are not in control of our lives beyond the basics of getting through one day to the next. We can do the best we are able, try to be nice to others, and don’t forget to pet your dogs and cats.

Also, watch out for buses and trucks driven by drunks heading your way.

WHAT YEAR IS IT? – Marilyn Armstrong

It will probably take me until sometime in March before I know what year to schedule my posts. So far, each post for 2020 has been posted for 2019. After that, I have to find it because I don’t remember where it might be. The short cut mean I have to remember its title. No, I do NOT remember the titles of mine or anyone else’s posts. If I’m lucky, I remember one word that’s unique I can search for. I also don’t remember anyone’s names, faces, or directions. I can usually recognize buildings, if they have a sign in front telling me what they are.

My kind of calendar

I have been lost my entire life. My mother never understood when I said I was late and had gotten lost, usually someplace less than a mile from home, I wasn’t making up a story. I really was lost. I get lost in large houses, too and in buildings where all the hallways look the same. It’s humiliating. I’ve gotten lost on my way to the same doctor I’ve been visiting for 10 years because it snowed and everything looked different. I don’t recognize people if they aren’t wearing their usual clothing or they got a haircut or removed a beard.

Old year, new year

And this whole “change of year” stuff? I’m going to be writing the wrong date for months. By the time I get it together with the calendar, it’ll be just about time to flip to the next one. I also forget to change the month and year when I’m reblogging.

How pathetic is this? Pretty bad!

OUR PASSING HEROES – Rich Paschall

Deaths Of Our Sports Icons, 2019, by Rich Paschall

For many of us, we grow up idolizing our sports heroes. It is an important part of our youth. These people are more significant to us than the movie or television heroes because they are real icons. They are athletes we can watch on television, or, if we are lucky, go to see in person. They mean a lot to us in our youth and when they pass away, it is a reminder of the passage of time. We mourn for them and for ourselves, because we have lost a part of our youth. They have passed into our aging  memories.

For this “In Memoriam” I will mention ten that hold substantial memories to me for the sports I watched and listened to when I was young. They passed away in 2019. This is not a ranking and the order is totally random. There is no way I could place a number on the life of these accomplished figures.

First, there are a few that deserve to be mentioned for their notable lives. You may not know the name Pete Frates, 34. The Boston College baseball star never made it to “the bigs.” He was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehring’s’s Disease) in 2012. Frates along with his friend Pat Quinn are credited with creating the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It raised apprpoximately 200 million dollars for ALS research. In 2015 the Boston Red Sox gave Frates a lifetime contract.

Jack Whitaker, 95, was a longtime sports broadcaster. The Emmy award winner called the first Super Bowl in 1966. He was at countless sporting events for many decades for CBS, then ABC.

You may never have heard of Julia Ruth Stevens, 102. I had not heard of her either until now. She was the last living daughter of baseball great, Babe Ruth. Later in life, she was a Boston Red Sox fan.

Cliff Branch, 71. The wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders (1972-1986) won three Super Bowls.

Jim Bouton, 80. The longtime major league baseball pitcher spent the first seven years in the “Bigs” with the New York Yankees. He became well know after baseball as a broadcaster, and for writing the babseball book, ‘Ball Four.”

Bill Buckner, 69. One of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history became best known for just one error with the Bost Red Sox. He played 22 years in “the show,” including 8 with our Chicago Cubs.

Wrigley Field

Center Field scoreboard from Sheffield Avenue

Bart Starr, 85. Even though he played for the rival Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears fans could still appreciate the accomplishments of this HOF quarterback. He won the first two Super Bowls.

John “Hondo” Havlicek, 79. The basketball Hall of Famer played 16 seasons for the Boston Celtics. For some reason we hated to see the ball in his hands. He was an outstanding ball handler.

Forrest Gregg, 85. The NFL Hall of Fame lineman played with Bart Starr on the Green Bay packers. Like Starr, he later went on to coach the Packers.

Scott Sanderson, 62. The long time MLB pitcher played on both the Chicago Cubs (1984-89) and Chicago White Sox (1994). His career spanned 18 seasons.

Frank Robinson, 83.  The longtime baseball player, then manager is in the MLB Hall of Fame.

Mel Stottlemyre, 77. He pitched 11 seasons for the NY Yankees, winning 5 World Series. He later went into coaching including 10 more years with the Yankees.

Zeke Bratkowski, 88. He played for the Chicago Bears and LA rams before becoming the “Super-sub” and backup to HOF QB Bart Starr. Legendary Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi picked up Bratkowski off waivers at the beginning of the Green Bay dynasty.

These athletes may not be known by some, and may be forgotten by others, but they remain there through the foggy mist of my memories. They cling to those precious spots of youth from which we are reluctant to let go. “Requiescat in pace.”

Sources include: “Pete Frates,” Alchetron.com
Too much loss: A look back at the notable sports deaths in 2019,”  The Detroit News, detroitnews.com  December 31, 2019.
Julia Ruth Stevens, Babe Ruth’s Daughter, Dies at 102,” The New York Times, nytimes.com March 9, ,2019.

WHY I SIGNED THE HISTORIANS’ STATEMENT ON THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP By SEAN MUNGER

SIGNING THE IMPEACHMENT STATEMENT – SEAN MUNGER

This week I was asked by a professional contact in the history community to add my name to this statement, called the Historians’ Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump. It was an easy call for me to do so. But, as has become evident over the last few days, this statement was much more than just another “online petition.” The historians who have signed this statement, now more than 2,000 of them, have had a measurable impact on the events that occurred in Washington, D.C. this week. Indeed, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referenced the statement in her floor speech beginning debate on the impeachment of Trump. As you know, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. We historians have joined numerous other professionals whose expertise is relevant to the impeachment process, such as Constitutional legal scholars and public prosecutors, in stating that impeachment is warranted under the standards of the Constitution.

Some of the historians I joined in signing include Ken Burns (documentary historian), Robert Caro (biographer of LBJ), Ron Chernow (author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that was the basis of the Broadway musical), John Fea (fellow history podcaster and author of the wonderful Way of Improvement Leads Home blog), Alan Taylor (Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), Matthew Dennis (my former academic advisor), and many, many more.

While the statement speaks for itself, I thought I would add a few words to explain why I signed it.

I marched in favor of women’s rights and solidarity on the day after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017. That action was political. My signing of the Historians’ Statement goes beyond politics.

Reason one: Trump’s actions are unquestionably impeachable.

The Constitution’s standard for impeachment is deliberately vague: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The fact that it’s vague doesn’t mean it’s always difficult to tell when the standard has been reached. The impeachment inquiry has proven beyond all doubt that Trump committed bribery by conditioning aid to the government of Ukraine on their investigation of the Biden family. That’s bribery. As for other “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it seems difficult to argue that this standard hasn’t been reached either. If we could go back in time to the stuffy room in Philadelphia where the Founders met in the summer of 1787 to create the Constitution and give them the example of Trump’s actions, it’s abundantly clear that they would agree, probably to a man, that this is the kind of behavior they had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause. The evidence is uncontroverted. I say that both as a historian and as a lawyer.

Reason two: The Constitution and its processes must be protected.

America was created with the notion that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Flawed, yes; imperfect, yes; subject to change in interpretation by future generations who are entrusted with it, certainly. But some things about it are absolute. If the Constitution’s standard for a President’s removal from office is reached, not taking the Constitutionally-required action to set that process in motion does violence to the primacy of the Constitution and its principles. Letting Trump’s unconscionable behavior slide, giving it a pass, is itself an affront to the Constitution and everything it stands for.

The action of impeachment entails considerable political risk. While it’s true that I voted for the other lady (you know, the one who got more votes than Trump did), I’m certainly not happy with the idea that, if Trump were to be convicted, his successor would be Mike Pence, a man whose bedrock principle is that I, as a member of the LGBT community, do not deserve basic human and civil rights, and once in office he’ll likely mobilize the power of the government to strip me of those rights–because he’s done it before. But that’s a political calculation. The risk to the Constitution in turning a blind eye to Trump’s crimes transcends politics, and it should. That’s what the primacy of the Constitution means.

The men who met in this room in the summer of 1787 believed they were serving principles larger than themselves. I think we have to honor that commitment, however imperfect the Constitution was (and still is).

Reason three: Trump must be taught that his wrong actions have consequences.

Even if the Senate takes the cowardly way out and does not convict him, the impeachment of Trump has considerable value on its own. One of them is to teach him something he apparently hasn’t learned during his nearly two years in office: he can’t just do anything he wants, and his bad actions have consequences. Apparently, he has learned that lesson. There is a report out of the White House this week that Trump was surprised, astonished and furious that he was impeached, and that he’s gone through violent mood swings as a result. Indeed, an aide is quoted as saying, “He’s very angry. It’s made a deep impression.” Trump is a man impervious to facts (such as the proven scientific reality of human-caused climate change) and incapable of empathy (such as when he ordered children to be placed in concentration camps). But if impeachment can get through to him on such a deep level, and tell him that his actions will receive push-back, from the Constitution if from no other source, then the impeachment is worth it on that score alone.

Reason four: Historical precedent shows impeachment has the effect of reining in a wayward President’s actions.

If you look back at the two Presidents who have previously been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, you’ll see that, although neither was removed from office, impeachment had a profound effect on both of them: they took care to stop doing the actions that got them impeached in the first place. Andrew Johnson, in particular, was every bit as pugnacious and defiant about his impeachment as Trump is about his own. Yet, after the impeachment and Senate trial in May 1868, Johnson suddenly went quiet: he stopped trying to interfere with Congress’s power over Reconstruction and he took no significant action for the rest of his term.

Clinton, similarly, toned down his act in his last two years in office. And you can bet that, at long last, for once in his life, he stopped running around with young women and lying about it. Both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were/are deeply flawed men who did monstrous things. But impeachment did put brakes on their reckless behavior. Even as defiant and vengeful as Trump is, I seriously doubt he’ll ever call up a head of state and ask them to interfere in our elections again. There’s no telling what other more subtle effects it will have that can serve the public good.

Andrew Johnson was, like Trump, a racist man, a white supremacist, and deeply incompetent at his job as President of the United States. But, his impeachment in 1868 did have an effect on his behavior.

I don’t like to see our Constitutional system tested and tarnished by the actions of President Trump. Our government has many important things that it could be doing right now, like taking immediate and drastic action on climate change. But the Constitution must be protected, and sometimes its enemies are within the walls rather than without.

I stand by the Historians’ statement. I only hope it’s not too late for our republic to be saved from the damage being done to it by self-serving people like Donald J. Trump.

All images in this article were either taken by me or are in the public domain.

Please check out Sean’s blog at: https://seanmunger.com/

THE WHITE OF A WINTER SKY #4 – Marilyn Armstrong

WHITE WINTER SKY – Marilyn Armstrong

The sky is as white as the snow. That was winter. Now, it’s just dull gray, day after day. With rain, with sleet, with ice. Warm enough so the fleas don’t die and the dogs need flea and tick collars. I’m not sure what this season is, so here’s to winters in years gone by.

As winter ends, a bit of snow still remains along the road