ABOUT THAT SUPREME COURT APPOINTMENT …

People have been joking about it, as if it couldn’t happen. Appointing Barack Obama to the Supreme Court when he’s no longer president. What most of the people who say this don’t know is that it wouldn’t be the first time. Not only could it happen, it already has happened.

William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court following his term as President. He is the only U.S. President to have served on the Supreme Court.  I have quite a fondness for Mr. Taft as he was a local kid, from … you guessed it … little Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

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It’s true. The Taft family is our primary claim to fame, if indeed Uxbridge has a claim to fame. But I digress.

There is no reason why a former president cannot be a judge, Supreme Court or otherwise. Or for that matter, anything else he might choose. Most presidents are well beyond retirement age at the conclusion of their terms in office. Many former presidents are happy to spend their remaining years writing their memoirs and donating time and energies to worthy causes. Those that are young and healthy enough to do more, often go into private corporate work to make some of the big bucks they don’t make as president.

POTUS earns $400,000 per year while in office. Compared to the CEO of any major company, this is chicken feed — even though it sounds like a lot of money to you and me. It represent slightly less than half his annual income. Obama, like most American presidents, has other sources of income, including investments and book royalties. He is not one of the wealthier presidents we’ve had through the years, but he’s doing okay — especially compared to the average working stiff.

That being said, there isn’t enough money in the treasury to make me want that job. There’s a reason why presidents go into office looking young and vibrant … and leave office looking old. Not older. Really old. You couldn’t pay me enough.

The First Lady gets a measly $10,000, which isn’t sufficient to cover a couple of nice gowns, much less shoes to match.

So if POTUS and FLOTUS were not rich when they took office, they may want to make up for lost income in subsequent working years.

William Howard Taft’s heart belonged to the law. He was an unhappy, unpopular president following the larger-than-life footsteps of Theodore Roosevelt. Getting appointed to the Supreme Court made up for much of what had gone wrong in his life. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

So … for all those who’ve thought the idea was humorous that Mr. Obama might yet play a major role in American history, it may be humorous. It would certainly for many people be ironic as well. It’s also a good idea. Assuming Barack Obama would accept the job.

Regardless, I doubt he’ll have a hard time finding work. He looks pretty employable to me.

MUNDANE MONDAY ON A BRIGHT WEDNESDAY

Finding beauty in ordinary objects is not difficult when the things with which you have furnished your home are beautiful in your eyes. I’m a collector — or perhaps I should say “reformed collector” —  so there’s a lot of stuff here that gives me joy just to look at it. They serve no other purpose but to be beautiful.

The first genuinely bright day in a couple of weeks made taking indoor pictures much more attractive!

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This is my dining room. More to the point, this is the home of my Dracaena Marginata, the plant I’ve been growing — and cutting back — for more than 20 years.

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It needs to be pruned again as it starts to scrape against the ceiling. These must be the easiest of all indoor plants. The whole dracaena family are tolerant of low light and forgetful watering.

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Give them half a chance and they will keep growing and never disappoint you. And … they are beautiful. Every once in a blue moon, they will also flower, though the flowers are nothing to write home about.

MUNDANE MONDAY CHALLENGE #68 : LEARN PHOTOGRAPHY

This is a challenge created to find beauty in almost everything. The challenge is simple : find beauty in everyday mundane things and frame it beautifully and upload the photographs. And give me a pingback by including the URL of this post in your challenge post.

If you think this challenge helps you to see ordinary things in a more beautiful way and to improve your photography, do help a friend to improve their skills too. You are free to Tag/Challenge a friend to join MMC, so that world around us look more beautiful to more people around us.

STORM OF THE CENTURY – EVIL SQUIRREL’S NEST

This is a great story and it’s also true! This is peak baseball season. Time for some thrills and chills that have absolutely nothing to do with politics! From the inimitable Evil Squirrel’s Nest, I give you …

STORM OF THE CENTURY!

Evil Squirrel's Nest

Mother Nature's always at her worst when I go to a ballgame. Mother Nature’s always at her worst when I go to a ballgame.

If you happen to be one of those weird people who actually keep track of my weekly picture dayfeatures, then you’re probably looking at your squirrel calendar right now wondering if it’s really Wednesday already.  No… calm down.  It’s still just Tuesday.  If you have a stereotypical job, you’ve got another three and a half days to toil away yet before the next weekend.  I decided to run Picture Day a day early this week because I wanted to commemorate the night I had a front row seat to the most wicked weather event this city’s seen in my lifetime… and that occurred ten years ago today on July 19, 2006.

It was just another Wednesday night at the ballpark for me… it was also the one game each year my Mom tags along to.  Which is good, because…

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ELECTING A PRESIDENT THE AMERICAN WAY

It’s here! The Republican Convention — the big show we’ve been waiting for. I’m sure it’s the hottest thing to hit Cleveland since 1997 when they won the American League Pennant but lost the Series.

This first day wasn’t quite the thrilling event pundits have been touting, though it had its moments, at least a few of which will become sound bites on the late news.

No shootings, no riots worth noting, in or outside the convention hall. Trump didn’t say anything wildly outrageous, or at least nothing I remember. Frankly, after last night, when Trump declared Obama as personally responsible for the shootings in Baton Rouge while his so-called running mate said Hillary Clinton invented ISIS, he’d be hard put to top that.

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This is about how our electoral system does — and doesn’t — work. It’s a rewrite of a post from last March when we were in the early stages of political self-destruction. We are much further down that road now.


The United States isn’t a democracy. We are a constitutional republic. Over all, the system is pretty good and usually works. Eventually. Except when it comes to election law and picking a president.

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The first time this became apparent, it was 1800. The U.S. was a mere 24-years old. It was only our second real national election because George Washington was selected, not elected.

Due to a glitch in the architecture of the electoral college, the Democratic-Republican candidates — Thomas Jefferson, for President and Aaron Burr for Vice President — won the same number of electoral votes.

According to History Central: 

… no one had the majority of votes, and the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. The House deliberated from February 11th to February 17th and voted 36 times. The Federalists had decided to support Burr … (and) would have won since they were the majority of the outgoing House. However, the constitution called for the election of a President by the House on a state-by-state basis. The Federalists could not carry enough states. On the 36th ballot Jefferson was selected.

That glitch got fixed in time for the next election in 1804, but twenty years later, there was a four-way election starring John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William H Crawford, and Andrew Jackson. The electoral vote was Jackson – 99, Adams – 84, Crawford – 41, Clay – 37. The three leading candidates went to the House of Representatives for a final decision. With a little help from media-fueled scandal, J.Q. Adams won on the first ballot of the House. After taking office, he appointed Henry Clay Secretary of State. Hmm. Nothing suspicious there.

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This was the last time the House made the pick, but it wasn’t the last race to be decided outside the ballot box.

In 1876 the Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden while the Republicans nominated Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden won the popular vote by 250,000 votes (out of approximately 2 million), but the vote was tight in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Exactly how this got resolved is complicated. Suffice to say, it was a cooperative bag job by Congress and the SJC. The final decision landed Hayes in the Oval Office and brought an end to Reconstruction. Which, coincidentally, is what the south wanted all along.

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In the election of 1888 Grover Cleveland (incumbent Democratic President) faced Republican Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote. Harrison became President, but lost to Cleveland in a rematch four years later, making Cleveland the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. It’s also the only “disputed” election settled by an election.

The first memorable election of my life was the tight race between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. It was the first election I watched on TV. It went on through the night and was still undecided as the sun rose.

kennedy election posterI was 13. I liked Kennedy. He made great speeches and was cute. The electoral vote was extremely close, but Kennedy held a lead in the popular vote for the entire race. This was the first time I remember hearing everyone say (after Nixon conceded) “We should overhaul the electoral college.” I’m still waiting.

Forty years later, the Supreme Court stepped in and stopped the recount of the tightest election in our history. Just over 537 votes out of more than 6 million separated Gore and Bush. Evidence strongly suggests Gore was the true winner, but the Supreme Court called the play. Which they had — have — no authority to do. The problem is, no one else had (has) the authority to decide a disputed presidential election. What’s a country to do?

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There are precedents, but each is a one-off, a solution cobbled together to patch up the crack in the liberty bell. If it happens again — we can safely assume it will — a new quickie solution will be thrown together.

When the Supreme Court stopped the recount in 2000 — a vote which was entirely along party lines (party lines don’t officially exist in the Supreme Court) — nothing in the Constitution gave the SJC the right to do it. But in the U.S., the Supreme Court is “the final word.” You can’t argue with the Supreme Court, can you? With no precedent for disputing the authority of the SJC, we accept it. The buck stops there. We grumble, complain, rail, and rant. But no one refuses to obey a Supreme Court ruling.

It’s something to ponder while we watch a terrifying election. Maybe it’s not the most terrifying election ever. As Stephen Colbert noted, “Trump might not actually be the worst ever president. We’ve had some really bad presidents …”

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Indeed we have had some terrible chief executives. The constitutional requirements to become president are that he or she be 35 years old, a resident of the United States for 14 years, and a natural-born Citizen (a term not defined in the Constitution). No requirement for education or experience. We are free to pick nominees from the bottom of the barrel. We are also free to pick the best and brightest — but apparently, we don’t want smart, capable people running things.

You wouldn’t hire someone to mow your lawn without knowing if they can use a lawn mower, yet we are nominating a guy to run for president because he has a lot of money and wants the job. Otherwise, he has no experience that would lead anyone to believe he can or should do the job.

That’s the thing about freedom. We are free to trade our freedom for a bag of baseballs or a puff of hot air. We won’t be the first or last country to choose a terrible leader. I hope we survive our choices.

SEARCHING FOR PERFECT PIZZA – SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World – 2016 Week 29


What is the perfect pizza?

Not in New England. I cannot help it. I know in my bones that the perfect pizza is nowhere to be found outside the five boroughs of New York. Brooklyn, last I knew, had the best of the best. The perfect pizza has a thin, slightly crispy (but not hard) crust. Plenty of sauce and lots of cheese. Mozzerella and  parmesan. Maybe romano too.

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Toppings? Whatever you like except — I vote with Terry Pratchett on this one — pineapple. Pineapple has no place on a pizza. You can argue with me until we are both too old to care. Pineapple is a great fruit, but fruit doesn’t go on pizza. No fruit. On. Pizza.

Moreover. Great pizza is hand tossed, then baked in a coal-fired oven. Nothing else comes near it. I can smell it in my dreams …

Meanwhile, it being a long way to New York, we eat pretty much any pizza. With exceptions. Most of it is okay. Imperfect, but edible.

What is your favorite time of day?

Although I sleep through it most days, just around daybreak is my favorite time of day.

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Even if I’m only away for a few moments of it, there’ something different about the light as it comes up over the horizon.

Show us two of your favorites photographs?  The photos can be from anytime in your life span.  Explain why they are your favorite.

I have over 100,000 photographs and I don’t even remember most of them. Thus, because dawn was the subject of the last question, I will give you my two favorite pictures taken at sunrise.

In this first pictures, I saw the sun and the cloud would intersect and I waited until the exact moment when it happened. Patience was rewarded! I endured a million mosquitoes, but got a dozen pictures that are still among my all-time favorites. Moments like this can’t be repeated.

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Taken originally in 2010, both my equipment and my technique have vastly improved … but you can’t repeat the moment.

The second picture was taken at almost the same time of day on the beach in Ogunquit, Maine. I took a few dozen pictures that morning and all of them are favorites, but this one, with the mist still hanging over the beach, is a favorite.

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Complete this sentence:  I’m looking forward to…. 

The end of this heat wave … and some rain!

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NOW WE ARE FRAIL

To say this political year in the U.S. has been upsetting hardly begins to cover the range of emotions it has engendered. Beyond these borders, the world has gone from its usual level of whacked to incomprehensible, at least to me.

I’m personally suffering from “mad bomber overload” among many other maladies that as yet don’t have a name, but the one that pains me the most is watching the American political system blow itself up.

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To say I’m not a Trump supporter doesn’t come close to how I feel. There’s a curious silence too about Trump, this clown and poseur. Most of what’s been said has been by late night comedians. Where’s the rest of the commentary?

Where are the editorials? The political analysis? Historians, and college professors. Where are the scholars taking up cudgels in defense of our integrity? Why are they silent in the face of this assault on our constitutional republican government?

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TV networks are obviously afraid … but of who and why? Have they been threatened? Blackmailed? I’m not sure what they are afraid of, but they are obviously scared. What good is a free press that’s got its collective jaws wired shut?

Newspapers? I know they don’t have the clout they once did, but wouldn’t this be a good time to show us how important they can be? Why we need them?

What happened to Hillary? For an intelligent, well-educated, long-term political animal, she has so flunked this campaign, it stopped being humorous months ago. I like Hillary, but at every turn, she’s made awful choices. Her campaign has been a disaster.

tyranny and oppression - madisonAll politicians lie all the time. If you don’t think they do, then you’re suffering from a lethal case of naiveté. You have the excuse of being a civilian … but what’s Hillary’s excuse? She’s been in politics since she got out of Wellesley. She’s seen them rise, seen them fall, been there from the early days in Arkansas through 8 years in DC with Bill. In the senate and as Secretary of State. That’s a lot of politics.

And hey there, Bill? Are you trying to finish Hillary off? What was that “runway meeting”? You mean to say you didn’t know how that was going to look? No one could accuse you of being politically naïve.

I’m going to vote for Hillary despite everything because I could not vote for Donald Trump even with a gun to my head.

As for Trump: we have a candidate who tells the world the police shootings in Louisiana are the fault of President Obama (I can’t even figure out how you can make that connection … ) and whose “running mate” is an anti-woman moron who tells the world Hillary Clinton invented ISIS. I know he said it because we watched him say it on network television last night. I wanted to barf. This is not a choice.

I thought our government was tough. We’ve had dreadful presidents in the past and survived. Obviously we’re going to have at least one more coming right up. I thought we could survive the stupidity of our electorate … but now I’m unsure.

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Some of our worst presidents have been good people and some of our most effective presidents have been complicated people who did not bear close examination. Being a great leader and being a good person are not the same thing. Jimmy Carter, as an example, was a bad president, but he’s a great guy. Lyndon Johnson was a great president, but a flawed human being. Me, I’d always prefer Lyndon because he got stuff done. Vital stuff. He moved the country forward.

How fragile are we? The Republican convention starts today. Let the games begin. Thrills and chills and just the future of the world on the line, so no worries, mate.

THE DAILY POST | FRAIL