I read recently in the New York Times that the president paid no taxes during eight of the ten years from 1985 to 1994 when he was writing off losses of $1.17 billion for the decade. The next day he went to his Twitter account to tell us that it was fake news, of course. Then he went on to say that developers took advantage of laws during that period to take big write-offs. They considered it “sport.”
The day of that report I received a letter from the IRS telling me that I had miscalculated my return for 2018 and that I must send a check for $922.73 by May 27 or pay additional interest and penalties. My underpayment was not the result of sporting the government. I made an honest mistake. My check is already written, sent, and cleared my bank.
What is the word for my mood?
Continue reading “Speaker Pelosi: It’s Time.”
A month ago I sat in front of the television the better part of the day and watched as the roof and spire of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris were ravaged by fire. The entire structure, the beautiful windows, and the immense organ whose notes have been measured to reverberate for a full six seconds at the midrange of the scale — all of it was at risk of destruction.
The shock was immediate as the world looked on. As I watched the fire progress, there was among the people of France and around the world a growing sense of foreboding and sorrow as it appeared that it could all be lost. The cathedral represents one of the spiritual and cultural centers of western civilization. It is irreplaceable.
I feel that way every day as I watch Donald Trump go about his work attempting to destroy American democracy. In fact, the cathedral is an apt metaphor for our constitutional democracy. Continue reading “There’s a Fire in the Attic . . .”
Thomas Friedman wrote an excellent review of immigration problems, procedures and policies for the New York Times in this morning’s edition. It is listed as an opinion piece but Friedman always writes from a background of solid reporting and this piece provides a comprehensive review of the current situation at the southern border and the likelihood of future developments if we do nothing to change.
Fans of the president may not get beyond his endorsement of the need for physical barriers. That is unfortunate because he makes the point that a wall alone accomplishes little or nothing. However, he also describes places where physical barriers have worked to the advantage of communities on both sides of the border allowing commerce to thrive and homeowners to enjoy their property.
Federal employees whose job it is to enforce our rag-tag immigration policies are underfunded and tasked with carrying out unenforceable laws. Comments you are likely to encounter on FB often present our choice as being between open borders and building a wall. Not so. Life is so much more complicated than that and it gets more complicated the longer we ignore the real problems we share with our neighbors.
(The Friedman article is here. If you cannot read it from this link, you may have to subscribe to the NY Times. Maybe it’s time to throw your support to good journalism.)
And if you have any doubts, watch this video from the New York Times web site this morning. We haven’t had a leader with such serious mental health issues since King George III.
Here’s a piece by Jennifer Senior that helped me understand him. From her February 9 column in the New York Times:
I’m not convinced, as some people are, that the Twitter fusillades from the White House are part of a larger strategy of distraction, specifically intended to divert us from this particular administration’s malfeasance and failures. I think our president’s attention span is genuinely scattershot. (“Post-literate,” Michael Wolff called him in “Fire and Fury.” Seems about right.) When I imagine his brain, I imagine a bug zapper in a drizzle. Bzzzzzzzzzzt. Fzzzz. Bzzz fzzz bzzzzzzzzzzt.
And there is this from the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank citing his Rose Garden performance as evidence enough to provoke discussion of invoking the 25th Amendment.
I ran across this report in The Guardian tonight. While it seems like a pretty weak research design, I concur with their finding based on my own experience that there can be happiness after Facebook. I ditched my account in April or May of 2018 (I’m not counting) and really haven’t missed it a bit. I write more letters with ink and pen. Anything Putin wants to know about me, he just has to wait for me to write him a letter.
Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
When my daughter came home during a break in her first year in college in 1996, she drove up to Angleton one day to meet me at work and have lunch. We headed over to the Texas Rose, an establishment run by a British expat who made the best hamburger in Brazoria County at the time. As we left the Texas Rose, young Dennis Bonnen followed us out the door and stopped us on the sidewalk.
“Mr. Fowler, I sure would appreciate your vote in the runoff next month.”
Dennis was pretty fresh out of college with a political science degree, a boatload of energy, and presenting for public office for the first time. He had barely made it into the runoff by edging out Beaver Aplin (yes, that Beaver) by ten votes. I had to tell Dennis that I was not qualified to vote in his runoff since I had voted in the Democratic primary.
The rest is history, of course. Beaver Aplin invested his free time in his gas station business and went on to develop the regionally famous “Buc-ee’s” brand. Dennis, won the runoff, served the next twenty-two years in the Texas House and on January 8 of this year was elected Speaker by unanimous vote of the membership.
Continue reading “We Give Texas a Speaker: Dennis Bonnen”
I grew up in the South in segregated neighborhoods, schools, and churches. I was born in 1943. The world was in violent upheaval across Europe and in the Pacific. That year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was finishing high school and preparing to enter college at the age of 15.
I can’t remember when I first heard of Dr. King but I think it was probably a six o’clock news report of one of the bombings of Dr. King’s home. Or maybe I saw him on the cover of Time magazine or television during the Montgomery bus boycott. 1957 was an eventful year in the life of Dr. King and in the life of our nation. When they were happening, these events didn’t make much of an impression on a white teenager from Houston’s blue-collar ship channel neighborhoods. I was in my middle teens and not as precocious as the young Martin, so the events of the day didn’t move me the way they would when I read about them later in my life.
At that age I was more interested in Houston Buffs and socializing with my church youth group than I was in the evening news. You may think that the brutality and injustice suffered by American citizens across the South would have gotten even a kid’s attention. But we white kids suffered from a vision problem that kept us from seeing the world of privilege we lived in and the injustices it had been built upon.
When I was a kid we listened to Sergeant Preston of the Yukon on the radio. If you ever listened to Sergeant Preston on the radio, you know that he sometimes got lost in the snow. Everything was white. The ground was white. The sky was white. Even the Yukon River was white. Everything ahead was white. Everything behind was white. White to the left. White to the right. He was blinded by the whiteness. Like Sergeant Preston, we had been snow-blinded.
Continue reading “Growing Up White in Texas: How I Remember Dr. King”