MISS MANNERS HERE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Good Morning, Miss Manners

I am 72 years old and I still don’t know which side of the plate one puts forks versus spoons and knives. My son knows because his father taught him, but in my house, my mother — who hated cooking and refused to spend money on paper napkins (she used tissues which stuck to your fingers – yuk!) — basically threw eating implements on the table. We had no manners at all and whatever I’ve learned since childhood is at least good enough to get me through most dinners without everyone staring at me and giggling.

Manners tend to be species oriented. My dogs are very neat and always eat all the stuff they drop on the floor. Birds and squirrels too. None of them worry about where to put the forks and spoons.

On the other hand, I’m pretty persnickety about verbal manners, as in being polite, civil, and not shouting except with enthusiasm. Funny how different we can be about the same thing in different places, isn’t it?

It’s just that being a klutz at dinner will embarrass you, but being an uncivilized nasty asshole — you know, like our President — hurts a lot of other people. I’m not in favor of hurting people’s feelings unless they’ve really gotten under my skin. And it’s not easy to get that far under my skin. In the physical presence of others, I try really hard to be kind and polite. I even try to do it when writing, though I think I’m better in person. Wit can be hurtful and when I write, I too often go for “wit” when maybe I shouldn’t.

The trees are wearing their best manners today too. Our maple tree has a bunch of red leaves on it this afternoon which weren’t there yesterday. If not for the incoming storm, I think another week and the trees would be stunning and definitely better than civil. Downright glorious!

Tell me I’m not the only one who can’t set a table properly, please. I always feel like a total dunce when I’m trying to make the table look “fancy.”

SO WHY DON’T I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Verbose

So this morning, when Bonnie went into her barkathon, I knew one more night of no sleep was going to knock me off the ledge into a deep, pit. I would be in a coma from which I’d never wake up. Garry actually got up and went to sleep in the living room and I got to sleep.

I’m really grateful. I also feel guilty, but I don’t feel like I’m falling apart. It’s the first time in weeks I haven’t felt on the edge of collapse. Most of my parts don’t hurt (much) either. Golly whizzaker!

But I also don’t have anything to say. I’m all spoke out. I’ve been chatting it up for weeks and months and years and I don’t seem — at least for now — to have any chat left. I’m sure it will come back, but right now, I’m SO happy to be sitting here, coffee on the left, Garry on the right, dogs soundly asleep on the sofa.

Why can’t they do that in the morning when I’m trying to sleep? Is this one of those Murphy Laws?

Have a great day! I’ll be fully ready to chat tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Hard to tell.

TAKE YOUR UMBRAGE ON THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Umbrage

I always wanted to take an Umbrage. I wanted one in British Racing Green with a 5 on the floor.

That way when anyone said “I take umbrage at that,” I could respond by saying, “Hey, my umbrage is parked right out front. Let’s take a drive!”

No? Why not?

HOW MANY MAGNANIMOUSES MAKE UP A CONFUSION? – Marilyn Armstrong

Magnanimous but Confused

It is a beautiful day. Cool, comfortable, with a shining sun and no rain predicted. It doesn’t mean it won’t rain. It just means it’s less likely to rain than if they had predicted rain and anyway, it’s less like to rain as hard as it might if they had assured us by email and television that rain was coming.

Nuthatch

Basically, rain is always coming. The only issue is when it is coming and how hard it’s coming and how muddy the dogs will get.

Hairy Woodpecker

The birds really love the rain. Or maybe they don’t like hunting for food in the rain, so they love our feeders in the rain? Last night, by the time we got home, it was nearly dark, but there must have been a dozen birds squabbling over who should get the best seed.

Chickadee

I pointed out to them that the seeds were essentially all the same because they all came from the same big bag of black sunflower seeds mixed with shell and hull free food. I’m still trying really hard to find ways to have birds and not have as big a mess to clean up.

There were maybe two dozen birds all in a flying battle for seeds this morning. I still don’t recognize one of them. I think it’s a female and it’s mostly beige and brown with nothing particularly obvious in its design. The Hairy Woodpecker came back and as soon as he left, the Downy Woodpecker came by. There were half a dozen Nuthatches, something red (House Finch?) and a big Cardinal. He was there last night, too. And the usual woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker

I took pictures. I haven’t looked at them yet because I’ve been reading, commenting and drinking coffee, but they are up next. I haven’t quite gotten my sharp fix on the birdies yet. Need more practice.

Days like this leave me feeling magnanimous because it’s so lovely, but very confused since it’s really a confused mess. I decided to magnanimously enjoy the chaos. With a camera.

Nuthatch

That’s how I know I’m getting better. I can actually lift up my camera with the big lens on it! Oh yay!

TO IMPEACH OR NOT? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION? NOT ANYMORE – By TOM CURLEY

IMPEACHMENT (FINALLY) NOW!

As I write this, I’m watching the Speaker of the House of Representatives formally open an impeachment inquiry into the Twitler-in-Chief.

What did it take? Well, a whistle-blower went through legal channels and brought a complaint about the President that was so bad is caused the Trump-appointed Inspector General to totally freak out. He realizes this was really serious and credible that he did what he is required by law to do. He sent it to the (Acting) Head of the Director of National Intelligence,  who’s responsibility BY LAW was to give it to the head of the House Intelligence committee within 7 days.  And of course, that’s exactly what he did.

Just kidding.

He refused because he went to the Attorney General, who by law has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. And guess what? The Attorney General created a bullshit ruling by the Office of Legal Counsel that said he didn’t have to do it and the whistleblower can be outed.

Then they showed the complaint to the White House. Which is also REALLY AGAINST THE LAW!! And he won’t release the actual decision made by the OLC.  The only reason we know any of this is that the Inspector General was so freaked out that he went to Congress on his own to tell them that something was going on that was seriously fucked up.

The complaint involves a phone call where Herr Trump threatened to withhold money Congress had already given to Ukraine unless they dug up dirt on Joe Biden.

What’s another way to put it?

COLLUDING WITH A FOREIGN POWER! 

To make things worse, he sent out crazy uncle Rudy Giuliani to both deny and then admit that he did exactly that. Then Trump admitted he did it himself!  He did this literally the day after Bob Mueller testified in front of Congress and everybody decided he got away with colluding with Russia and obstructing justice.

The Inspector-General told the Congress about this on Constitution Day. Irony is on overdrive. I was working at ABC Radio News during the Watergate hearings.

Here’s the thing. Everybody was against impeachment until they suddenly they were all for it. Maybe we’re seeing the same thing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic. Here’s the original post the last time I did.  Sound familiar?

  Original Post

Ever since the Mueller report came out, sort of, the topic on most people’s mind (or at least all the pundits on cable news) is whether or not to start impeachment hearings against the Twittler-in-chief.

In the last few weeks, with the addition of Attorney General William (I’m Trump’s Roy Cohn) Barr it has become clear that this administration has thrown any and all respect for the constitution out the window.

Then they went outside, peed on it, shit on it, let it dry out and peed and shit on it again. They are refusing all subpoenas issued by Congress. They are not allowing anyone to testify in front of any Congressional Committee. Even though many of those people don’t even work for the government anymore. The AG has lied to Congress and then refused to show up for a House Committee hearing because he didn’t want to be questioned by an actual lawyer!

The administration has said to Congress “FUCK YOU!” We don’t care if we’re breaking the law. What are you going to do about it?

Here’s the thing. No administration has ever done this before. Yet another “political norm” bites the dust.

What has become abundantly clear in the last two years is that our government has lasted for over 200 years because the people in it had some sense of civility. Some sense of decency. Some sense of shame. We never realized how much of government relied on everybody “doing the right thing.” We all just did it. It wasn’t written “black letter law.”

Then along came Cheesy McCheese Head.

A man with no civility. No sense of decency. No sense of shame. No regard for “Political Norms.” And as far as anyone can tell, no conscience.

If it isn’t written down as being illegal, fuck you, he’ll do it. And his and the whole Republican Party’s attitude is “even if it is written down, even if it is against the law, fuck you, we don’t care. What are you going to do about it?”

Here’s the most depressing thing. It turns out that Congress may not have much they can do about it. They can issue a subpoena, which in our previous reality was a really big deal. But this administration has just said “Fuck you, we don’t care. What are you going to do about it?”

Turns out they can hold a person who ignores a subpoena with a Contempt of Congress citation. Oh, that’s bad, right? What happens then? Congress sends the contempt citation to the Department of Justice, who then brings the cited individual up on criminal charges.

What if the person under the contempt citation is the HEAD OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT? What does he do?

Nothing. He ignores it. Fuck you. What are you going to do about it?

Congress requests the President’s tax returns be made available under an ironclad law written in the 1920s after the Tea Pot Dome scandals. They were intended to make sure no President or administration can hide corruption.

It was written to leave no wiggle room for a President or member of his cabinet to weasel out of providing those returns. So what does the Secretary of the Treasury, a person who has no right to interfere, do?

You guessed it. He says “Fuck you, I’m not going to allow that to happen. What are you going to do about it?

Theoretically, Congress can take all these issues to court, where they are on solid ground and will probably win. They always have in the past. What the current Supreme Court would do is questionable.

All the lower courts are going to say is, “Are you fucking kidding me? This is illegal as hell. Honor the subpoenas and turn over his friggin’ tax returns.”

Okay, they probably wouldn’t say friggin’. I’m just making a point. I like to speak in the vernacular. Okay, that’s not true either. I just wanted to use vernacular in that sentence.

The problem is, all of that would take a lot of time and we need speed. There is a good chance even if Congress wins, the administration will still say, “Fuck you. We’re not going to do it. What are you going to do about it?”

What can Congress do at this point? They have a thing called “Inherent Contempt” which allows them to actually jail someone they hold in contempt and fine them.

But their “jail” is merely a room in Congress’s basement. The Sargent-at-Arms of the House of Representatives doesn’t have a large force of well-armed troops.

That option is iffy.

You want me to do what? Are you kidding me? All I’ve got is this old sword! WTF!

So the only thing left that Congress can do is Impeach the mother-fucker. Not my quote, but a quote from a member of the House, the Speaker of the House, and many top Democrats are resisting this.

Their reason? They know the Senate will never convict, so why bother?

Because they have to do something. They simply cannot allow all of this to happen and do absolutely nothing, even if the end result isn’t an actual conviction.

Their reasoning is badly flawed but I understand why they think this way. When the Republicans impeached Clinton the majority of the country didn’t want them to do it. They did it anyway. On their own. On a party-line vote.

The result? The House Republicans impeached. The Senate didn’t convict. They knew the Senate wouldn’t convict when they impeached him. They did it anyway.

When it was all over? Clinton’s approval ratings were in the ’70s.

So what? The Republicans won the next election. Granted the won because the Supreme Court-appointed Bush as President, but regardless, they won.

Why were Clinton’s approval ratings so high? Because the MAJORITY of Americans thought getting impeached because you lied about getting a BJ from a consenting adult was bad, but NOT AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE!

The group MoveOn.org was created because most Americans wanted to “Move On” from this silly impeachment bullshit. Back then, I was working for CBS News Up To The Minute news.

Every night, we would air a three-minute piece about how the latest polls showed most Americans didn’t give a crap about Clinton’s affairs. No one wanted more stories about Monica Lewinsky.

The very next piece was inevitably about Monica Lewinsky.

After months of this, one night I asked the line producer if he actually watched the news block he just produced. He replied, “What do you mean?”

I replied, “You just aired the umpteenth poll showing how nobody cares about Monica Lewinsky and the Clinton scandal and your next piece is about Monica Lewinsky.”

His reply? “What’s your point?”

To this day, after 40 years of working in Network News, I still don’t exactly know what a news producer does. Now that I’m retired, I’m not sure I care.

The difference between then and now is simple. Back then, the majority of the country thought to impeach Clinton was silly. He got a blow job.

This president is under 14 CRIMINAL investigations — not counting the Mueller report — which documents at least 10 instances of provable obstruction of justice.

Now he is obstructing Congress daily — in plain sight! The overwhelming victory for the Democrats in 2018 was due to the majority of Americans wanting this President to be reined in.

To be impeached. Speedily. Then sent forth to a place of imprisonment, clapped in irons at least until his political string runs out forever and we know he can’t come back.

It looks bleak. The checks and balances of this country and our Constitution contained some serious hidden flaws. Mainly, the Founding Fathers assumedand we all know what assumed means — that the members of Congress would do their jobs.

Which is checking and balancing and keeping the country on an even keel.

The Republicans are not doing that. The current administration isn’t following the Constitution. Essentially, they are spitting on it with the result that our system is falling apart.

The reason we are not impeaching is that the House of Representatives know they can’t get a conviction in the Senate. This is totally stupid.

Only two and a half Presidents have been impeached. Nixon only counts as a half because he was never impeached. Congress was going to impeach him, but he quit before they could do it. In the other two cases, Clinton and Lincoln’s Vice President Andrew Johnson were impeached, but neither was convicted, although Johnson came close.

He won by only one vote. And that guy had to be brought into the Senate on a stretcher. He was near death. Nobody’s ever been convicted by the Senate. So that’s not an excuse to not impeach.

Here’s my argument. No, sorry, it’s not my argument. It’s from a far more reputable source than me. Who?

Otter.

Who’s Otter? I’m talking about Otter, the character from the movie Animal House played by Tim Matheson.

Specifically, the scene where Dean Wormer has closed down Delta House and the whole fraternity was getting thrown out of their frat house. Otter comes into their living room after just having the crap beaten out of him by the bad guy Frat house Omega Theta Pi.

And here Otter gives the speech that drives the rest of the movie. And this speech should drive all of us now.

“Now we could do it with conventional weapons, but that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

And there you have it. It appears to be a futile gesture and thus stupid. But this situation absolutely requires a stupid gesture to be done on somebody’s part. We’re the only ones who can do it.

It will most likely fail, but we have to try. Hell, it can be the Democrats campaign slogan. “We Tried to Impeach the Mother Fucker. What Do You Want From Us?”

The only problem is WTTITMFWDYWFU doesn’t fit on a hat.

We’re going to need a bigger hat.

DEBUT OF THE CHICKADEES – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Debut

We hung the feeders on Sunday. By Monday, we had birds. Tufted Titmice and Chickadees and a few woodpeckers. Also some little ones I think are some sort of sparrow or finch. They are all rather beige now, it being winter coat season.

The birds are all shy now and fly away as soon as they see me by the window, but they will relax as the year moves along. Yesterday, I finally hoisted my rig onto my shoulder to take a few pictures of our Massachusetts State Birds, the Black-Throated Chickadees.

I know the birds are busy because the level of seed keeps dropping and I’m pretty sure when I put fresher food in the feeders, they will be even happier. This is the last food from last winter and it’s a bit stale.

Still wondering what to do about the squirrels. The suggestion is to put squirrel feeders at least 15 feet away from the bird feeders to distract them from the feeders — and some of the designs are hilarious and I’m sure the squirrels are pretty funny as they figure out how to get the corn out of the hole or the big jug or the roof flap.

The problem is that 15 feet from the bird feeders is the woods and once the snow falls, I can’t get to the woods. So I’d be able to feed them until December or thereabouts, but after that, I’d be snowed in and they will promptly take over the feeders.

Chickadee

They will do that anyway. I don’t see any reason why they should stop with their food and not move on to finishing the food in the feeders. Food is food is food.

They are such greedy guts!

WISHFULLY THINKING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Wishfully Thinking of Squirrels

The birds are back. Not as many as last year, but they have arrived. Woodpeckers and Titmice and something I haven’t identified yet, but it’s about the size of a Titmouse, but without the feather headdress. I’m pretty sure I saw a goldfinch and I’m sure there will be more.

So now is the time when I try to figure out what to do with the squirrels. My current state of mind is to set up a separate feeding station for them on the other side of the deck. As the add for some of the most amusing pieces of handmade, artistic stations for squirrels is “If you can’t fight’em, feed’em.”

Bird-proof-squirrel-feeder. If-you-can-t-beat-them,-feed-them

The problem is that squirrel feeing stations are expensive. They are handmade, usually of very hard cedar with a gallon glass jug on one end for peanuts of cracked corn and any number of weird places to stick corncobs. One farmer offered to sell me a ton (yes, a ton) of feeding corn for the squirrels. I passed. But we do have feed and grain stores around here because people do have chickens and other small farm critters — and some people enjoy the antics of the squirrels. I enjoy the antics of the squirrels. I just want them to play in their own garden and not try an take over the grain feeders for the birds.

The squirrel airplane!

They want the feeders to be at least 15 feet apart from each other. If our deck wasn’t a squire 12X12 feet, it would be easier. In theory, I could put the feeder for the furry ones off by the trees in the woods … but once it snows, I can’t get through the backyard, so they get would only get fed until the first snow and after that, the yards are socked in for the winter.

Owen and I finally decided to bring up the big glass and metal table and put (for now) the big flat feeder on it and throw ears of corn around the rest of the table. As long as we don’t get an invasion of raccoons and chipmunks, that is. Raccoons can do some serious damage and they have hands, too. Chipmunks are noisy and not shy about letting you know when they feel it’s feeding time again. They feel that it should always be feeding time.

Uncle Dunkels Backyard Squirrel Feeder One Gallon Glass Jar Entertaining Squirrel Feeder

So far, we haven’t seen any raccoons. We used to have a yard full of chipmunks, but the bobcats ate them, so we rarely see them anymore.

Anyone with serious experience in feeding squirrels? I’m assuming unhulled, raw peanuts and corn are the foods of choice? What can one use as a feed bin that they won’t chew to pieces? Something very hard in the way of wood (hard cedar?) or metal? I have an old, useless (as a yard tool) wheelbarrow, but I’m afraid it would get too full of water to be useful and become a squirrel-sized skating rink the rest of the winter.

It’s a BIG one!

Just when I think I’m making my life easier, I find some special new way to make it more difficult. On the other hand, I always did love a yard full of creatures, as long as they keep their legs fewer than six.

Also, the question is, will they finish off their food then try to take over the bird feeders too? I want them to guard their own feeder and not the bird feeder. By spring of last year, they were constantly guarding the feeders. I didn’t know you could have guard squirrels.