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Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #2257228
Tales from real life
Well, if they're not true, they oughta be!
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June 28, 2024 at 2:53pm
June 28, 2024 at 2:53pm

The conservative majority of SCOTUS ruled six to three this week that it is not a crime to bribe government officials. It’s only a crime for the bribe to be paid up front. The case involves a small-town mayor who received a $13,000 gift from a garbage company shortly after awarding them a million-dollar garbage contract. A reasonable person might conclude that a large cash payment following a lucrative contract award indicates that a favor was granted in return for the cash. State and local courts ruled that the payment was in fact a bribe. The Roberts court, however, overturned those rulings. The MAGA majority found that a gift following a favor is merely a gratuity for a job well done. It's definitely not a quid pro quo, merely an understanding between friends that first I need you to do me a favor. Justice Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion and should have included the infamous quote from Donald Trump's Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney: "It happens all the time . . . get over it."

Kavanaugh did acknowledge a few basic rules of etiquette for public corruption. Payment of the bribe must follow completion of the favor and there can be no contractual agreement up front. There can be no incriminating emails with price negotiations, no awkward text exchanges that predate the favor, and no inconvenient witnesses to the agreement. But as long as there is no admissible evidence of prior collusion, then there is total exoneration!

A legal basis for bribery is an important point for MAGA to establish in the law, especially for self-serving justices Thomas and Alito, who maintain that accepting gifts from wealthy political donors is not illegal or even unethical. They have both received lavish gifts from wealthy friends but have not always disclosed such gifts. And recent revelations of past gifts are not merely an embarrassing tax liability, corrupt justices could potentially face impeachment. So, overturning the mayor's bribery conviction gives them precedent to avoid their own bribery charges.

In his opinion, Kavanaugh described such gifts as gratuities, given in appreciation for a job well done. A reasonable person might conclude that this actually smells like bribery. The Roberts court, however, has agreed with Thomas and Alito that SCOTUS is above any legal or moral requirement to act ethically. Kavanaugh's use of the word gratuity may seem odd, but Donald Trump has recently decided to push a tax break for tips. Could this be a quid pro quo? Trump is granted immunity from criminal prosecution, and in return the justices won't have to pay income tax on their gratuities. It seems that MAGA greed truly has no limit.

When I worked in the corporate world, I was required to take yearly ethics training. These presentations emphasized that even the appearance of misconduct was unacceptable. We were told not to pursue a personal friendship with a vendor or a customer. We were told not to accept gifts from vendors or give gifts to customers. Even wearing a ball cap with a logo could be construed as evidence of favoritism. This mandatory training for all employees was put in place after a few high-level executives were found to have acted unethically to secure business contracts and personal perks. It may have been cynical for the bosses to push ethics training on us peons, but at least they acknowledged that ethical behavior should be the norm.

President Trump made many grandiose promises for his first day in office. He was going to make dozens of major changes in his first week. He promised to repeal and replace multiple laws that he disagreed with. But what he actually did that first week was to cancel the customary ethics training that had always been given to incoming White House staff. We don’t need no stinking ethics! Little did we know that ‘his’ judges would make this the official motto of the Supreme court. And now this smack-down of ethical behavior has been codified in U. S. law by a Supreme Court ruling. Choices have consequences and bad choices have bad consequences. A corrupt President Trump appointed corrupt judges and those corrupt judges make corrupt rulings. We should all keep that in mind in November.

I can’t help but wonder, and hope, that the blatantly unethical behavior of the Roberts court will enable future courts to find reversible error. Not just with this case but with any ruling handed down by SCOTUS since Roberts was appointed Chief Justice. These so-called conservative justices have openly admitted that they take gifts from interested parties. They do not recuse themselves from cases that involve their wealthy patrons. And they have ruled that this is acceptable behavior for government officials at all levels. As far as I’m concerned, a future court can overturn any decision from the Roberts era simply because it has the taint of a Roberts ruling.
June 4, 2024 at 2:11pm
June 4, 2024 at 2:11pm
Reposted from Real Fake News:

Vice Guys Double Down
         by staff reporter D. S. Gustin

         Co-conspirators, bootlicking toadies, and vice-presidential hopefuls have closed ranks around the ample cheeks of former president Donald Trump. But even a bigly backside can't provide enough lip space to accommodate this race to the bottom. Faithful maganaughts are pushing and shoving each other to gain the spotlight for their professions of unconditional fidelity. There appears to be no bar low enough to shake their faith in the convicted felon.
          "Donald Trump could revoke my citizenship and I would still vote for him," declared Nikki Hailey. "In fact, he could deport my entire extended family and they would all vote for him, too."
          "Donald Trump could tie a black man to his bumper and drag him down the national mall and I would still vote for him," promised a smiling Tim Scott. "He could even use the rope we bought for Mike Pence."
          "Donald Trump could date a 14-year-old girl and I would still vote for him," leered Matt Gaetz. "In fact, I'd drive her across state lines to meet him."
          "Donald Trump could send me dozens of dick pics and I would still vote for him," gushed Marjorie Taylor Greene. "It's not icky at all, a lot of people like mushrooms."
          "I feel very comfortable in voting for Donald Trump again," said Susan Collins. "Surely he's learned a lesson from two impeachments, an election loss, two defamation judgments, 91 indictments, and a felony conviction."
          "Donald Trump could organize a nambla professional wrestling tour and I'd still vote for him," said Jim Jordan. "In fact, I'd sign up for the teen age class myself."
          "Donald Trump could choose Hannibal Lecter as his running mate and I would still vote for him," said Marco Rubio. "There's nothing in the constitution to prevent a felon or a fiction from holding office, and I'd hope to be invited to the White House for dinner."
          "I would be proud to join Nikki on the first deportation flight of Donald Trump's second term" boasted Vivek Ramaswamy. "And even from India, I would still vote for him. Non-citizens cast ballots for Trump all the time, believe me!"
          "Donald Trump could lie about being a felon to purchase an AK-47, outfit it with a bump stock, shoot up my grandson's school, and I would still vote for him," solemnly swore Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
          "He could raw dog a $20 hooker, abort the pregnancy on live TV, eat the fetus with a nice Chianti, and I would still vote for Donald Trump," said Kari Lake."
          "Donald Trump could post a TikTok video of me cleaning his balls between holes at Mar-a-Lago and I'd still vote for him," cooed Lindsey Graham with a coy smile.
          “Donald Trump could attack my wife with a hammer, and I would still vote for him,” insisted House Speaker Mike Johnson. "Not only would I vote for him, but I'd use the bloody hammer as my official gavel."
          "Please, God, let me kneel in Hell with Donald Trump rather than stand in heaven with Joe Biden," prayed televangical Franklin Graham from a street corner in Gomorrah. "And I can still vote for him by mail-in ballot. Dead republicans do that all the time, believe me!"
May 30, 2024 at 6:21pm
May 30, 2024 at 6:21pm
Reposted from Real Fake News:

Atheists Shaken by Trump Verdict
         by staff reporter Harry Teck

         “Some of you may be thinking that there is a God, after all," mused prominent skeptic Ida Noe. "This is just the sort of thing that can make weak-minded disbelievers lose their way. But I prefer to think that this verdict is merely the build-up to a triumphant victory at the Supreme Court. A quick appeal with a corrupt ruling from SCOTUS will prove once and for all that there is no God!"
          "I blame Satan," declared MAGA evangelist Franklin Graham. "You expect better value when you sell your soul. This verdict is an outrageous carriage of justice, and I think President Trump has a very good case for breach of contract. The outcome gives every televangelist cause for concern about their own deal. It's almost enough to make a religious man reject Satan and all his empty promises.”
          “What did you all expect,” laughed the Prince of Darkness. "The pathetic loser thought he could trade his worthless, piece of crap soul for an eternity as president. Real original, like I've never heard that dodge before. And the moron still thinks he's the only one who can lie, cheat, and steal. Like Donny T. always says, a contract is just the first step in breaking a promise!"
May 22, 2024 at 10:31am
May 22, 2024 at 10:31am

In 2021 I wrote a poem, Lost on Route 66, about the loss of the old ways by Irish immigrants who were assimilated and melted into a larger American culture. I presented Highway 66 as a more modern example of quaint old ways being replaced by the relentless march of progress. I never drove on Route 66, but I have seen the 1960's television show and heard the song by Bobby Troup: Get Your Kicks on Route 66.

My maternal grandfather, born in 1892, was at least third generation Pennsylvania Irish. I can trace the family name to census records from the early 1800's. They clearly emigrated before the potato famine and long before Ellis Island. Grampa Montgomery moved further west as a teen and became an itinerant laborer in Montana. He retained just a hint of Irish brogue, but he'd lost contact with even his Pennsylvania roots by the time I was growing up. I got all my information about Irish culture from books and movies. I also have Norwegian, English, German, and Scots ancestry, but Ireland fired my imagination. I always felt a vague desire for 'real' Irish roots. It may seem odd that I feel the loss of something I never actually had, but that's what I tried to put into the poem.

Nixie found the poem last week and gave it a shout out on the news feed. That generated a couple of additional reviews by Averren and Lyn's a Witchy Woman . This new interest stirred me to revisit the poem. I reworked it over the past few days and realized what I actually miss is the sharing of stories. I grew up with network television that was shared by the entire country and one TV set that was shared by the whole family. Our sharing was different from that depicted in accounts of the 'old country', but it was a family activity that seems to have gone by the wayside.

I have fond memories of dad and I playing cribbage while the television droned in the background. He'd tell stories of growing up with horse drawn farm equipment, serving in the Navy, or working as a carpenter to for the Seattle World's Fair. For decades I thought of television as the 'boob tube' with little real value. Now, I see that it served much the same function as the fireplace did when my grandfather was a child in the days before radio. It wasn't the content of the stories or the setting that made it special, but rather the personal contact.

Lost on Route 66  (ASR)
A lament for auld spirits
#2246122 by Words Whirling 'Round

May 7, 2024 at 4:52pm
May 7, 2024 at 4:52pm
The real reason why she won't be on the ticket!

Cruella de Noem handles a nasty old goat

May 7, 2024 at 1:18pm
May 7, 2024 at 1:18pm
Remember the good old days when traveling was an adventure and you could fix your car with a few hand tools?

"Error in Transmission
March 11, 2024 at 11:33am
March 11, 2024 at 11:33am

Mount St. Helens erupted in May and Gene was born in September. My wife and I wondered if the volcano affected his development in the womb or was merely an omen of things to come. Either way, Gene was exciting, exasperating, infuriating, and unique. He was not a slave to convention. Gene always did things his way, regardless of consequence. As a teen, he did the Seattle to Portland bicycle race in a single day - on a mountain bike. And wherever he went in life, he went fast. He loved running, riding motorcycles and driving sports cars. He lived life at a fast pace and left us too soon.

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Shortly after Gene started kindergarten, his teacher brought a box of Halloween decorations into the classroom and asked if anyone could guess what was inside.

Gene immediately piped up with “A skeleton!”

“How did you know that?” Ms. Diaz asked in surprise.

“Because it says so on the box,” Gene shrugged.

His teacher was surprised, but Deb and I weren’t. Gene wasn’t satisfied with waiting for us to read to him. He wanted to do it himself, and he wanted to do it now. I was proud and pleased that he was so eager to learn. He quickly caught on to the basic idea of using letters to represent the sounds that make up the words. Who knew that grade-school phonics would be so useful to me as a parent? The only down side was that Gene no longer needed to sit on my lap and have me read Dr. Seuss. No more Hop on Pop and no more Fox in Socks. He always read far above grade level, and he especially liked science fiction. I was proud of him, but I missed that time together.

I bought a ColecoVision game console when the kids were little. We spent many hours together playing Frogger, Q*bert, Donkey Kong Jr, and Burgertime. Gene loved the cartoony images and the electronic bleeps and boops. He later bought his own gaming consoles and continued to enjoy video games all his life. Gene would always race through the levels as quickly as possible in order to ‘beat’ the game. I couldn’t keep up with him, so I’d carefully rack up the maximum points instead. He’d get impatient waiting for his turn and would be indignant if I got a higher score even though he was three levels ahead of me.

In third grade Gene tested well enough to qualify for the Quest program. He enjoyed the more challenging curriculum and the more casual classroom atmosphere. Unfortunately, there was no Quest program in Jr. High and he began to have problems with what he saw as unnecessary homework demands. Gene could ace the tests without ever handing in a single homework assignment and that only irritated his teachers.

In High School, his issues with homework got worse. He often skipped school, but still aced his tests. We had many meetings with the principal. The only solution she ever offered was to have him change schools. And she forced him to repeat classes even though he clearly demonstrated proficiency with the material. The one lesson that Gene learned was that school was just busy work and a waste of his time.

As parents, we didn’t know what to do. I tried to get him to ‘go along to get along’, but Gene was the rebel without a clue. We tried punishments, we tried rewards, we took him to church, but Gene was too stubborn to give in. He didn’t get a driver’s license until he turned eighteen, because we made it conditional on getting his grades up. We went to family counseling and he sat in stone-faced silence. We got all kinds of well-meant advice on how to fix him, but it seemed the only thing we did right as parents was to not give up on him.

I did Track and Cross-country in high school and so did Gene. But where I was mediocre, Gene was actually good. And it was the main thing that kept him in school. He ran a competitive time in the 800 meters, but he really liked cross-country and continued to be an avid runner all his life. Gene worked his way up to longer distances and competed in the Boston marathon in 2007. He averaged about one marathon a year and ran in dozens of shorter races as well. He once said that he planned to run a marathon in all 50 states. He logged Hawaii and Puerto Rico in his total, and was up to 14 after completing a race in South Dakota last year. He and his wife Mary traveled to Tromsø, Norway in 2018 for the Midnight Sun marathon. The race actually does take place in the midnight sun because it’s held on the summer solstice and the course crosses over the Arctic circle. I was able to add a bit of human interest by sharing that his great-great-grandmother was a Norwegian immigrant from Drammen.

We weren’t surprised when Gene left high school without a diploma. He drifted aimlessly for several years, accumulated dozens of speeding tickets, and flirted with more serious trouble. He held a series of retail jobs, worked as a security guard, and even went door-to-door selling vacuum cleaners. Nothing he tried seemed to fit. In 2001 he ran out of second chances and spent his Christmas in jail. That was a low point for the entire family.

Gene’s turn-around began when Debbie confided in her friend Tracy and she put Gene in touch with her brother, Terry. He gave Gene a third chance and hired him as a laborer at Grayhawk construction. Demolition seemed like a perfect fit – he could get paid to smash things up. It wasn’t smooth sailing at first, but Terry had patience with Gene, and he became a valued employee at Grayhawk for more than fifteen years. It turns out that demolition actually goes more smoothly if you don’t make a big mess. Gene showed a talent for getting his demo jobs done quickly and with less effort. That made his boss happy, and Gene felt like he was beating the system when he could work six hours and still get paid for eight.

Terry told him that he needed a HS diploma to be hired, so Gene got his GED in 2002 at Bellevue Community College. They sent a letter with the results, stating that he had the highest score for the current year. They urged him to enroll in their college program and eventually, he did. Gene completed his associate degree in 2013. He then transferred to the University of Washington and received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2016.

In addition to science fiction, Gene and I always shared an interest in cars and motorcycles. His first ride as a toddler was on my Yamaha XV920. He invited me out for my birthday a few years ago. We went to the LeMay car museum in Tacoma and spent half a day wandering the exhibits and talking. Gene drove and bought the tickets as a gift to me. I have arthritic knees and I had to stop from time to rest on a bench. It may have been the first time that Gene slowed to my pace and didn’t get impatient. It was one of the best days we ever spent together. Afterward, we grabbed a burger and Gene paid again. I understood that he was showing me that he’d become an adult, so I just thanked him and didn’t spoil it by trying to split the check.

I don’t know if Gene realized how proud I was of the way he turned his life around. We sometimes had a prickly relationship and weren’t as close as I would have liked. That’s on both of us. I was too proud to push myself into his life and I felt that he didn’t appreciate mine. Both of us had strong opinions that we felt bound to defend. In many ways, Gene was too much like me. He didn’t socialize much and it wasn’t easy for him to make a real connection with other people. His childhood friend Kaye meant a lot to him, and he was always close to his friend Chris, but he didn’t have a wide circle of support. That was one reason why Gene’s wedding was one of the best days of my life. It was the happiest I’d ever seen him. Mary was good for him and I’ll always be glad that they got together. Gene and Mary traveled the world together, visiting several European countries and doing a grand tour of Australia.

There’s a phrase, ‘dark night of the soul’, that I ponder sometimes. It comes from a poem by St John of the Cross. The poem isn’t really about depression, but that’s what the term ‘dark night’ means to me. Many of us experience that dark night. Some push through on their own, some get help, and some don’t make it out the other side. I was on anti-anxiety meds for a couple of years, but I didn’t share that with Gene. I understand why he didn’t want to share his problems with us, but I desperately wish that he had. And maybe if I’d been more open about my own experience with depression, it would have helped him to cope.

Everyone keeps asking if there’s anything they can do. The answer is yes and no. It’s too late to say or do the things that might have made a difference for Gene. All we can do is move forward and try to make a difference for each other. So, in lieu of flowers, please be open with your own problems, ask for help when needed, and be generous with your time for friends and family.

Gene was my son. I hope he knew how much I loved him.

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Boy with net gazes up at a starry sky


Would that grasp could equal reach
and net a heav’nly spark,
wheeling round celestial poles
like dew dropped in the dark.

Wistful gaze with hungry mind,
what wonders do await?
Yearning for the vast unknown
infinity of space.

Terrence G. Fisher, 2023

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my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”
The thought of my affliction and my
homelessness is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore, I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:17-24

February 20, 2024 at 12:52pm
February 20, 2024 at 12:52pm

In 2008, Barack Obama gave a victory speech with the theme "Yes. we can!" Sure, it was full of political platitudes, but it gave me hope that America might be ready for a positive change. The previous administration had taken the country to a dark place. They waged an undeclared Mideast war mainly for the benefit of the defense industry. Billions of dollars wasted on tit-for-tat vengeance with millions of civilian casualties. I thought the shame of this new genocide might shock Americans into doing better and maybe even being better.

Instead, it soon became apparent that there are no quick and easy solutions. The Obama administration accomplished many good things but, predictably, fell short of his aspirations. Helping others takes long-term commitment and it's often a thankless task with little reward. Self-sacrifice is difficult. It takes hard work. And it really puts a crimp in the consumer lifestyle. Self-awareness is the first step toward self-improvement, but it's painful to confront our own faults. Far easier to turn a blind eye to past failures and pretend that everything is great, has always been great. That our only real problem is that we don't spend enough time celebrating our own greatness and our great leaders.

In 2024 we have over 70 million voters who are rallying to the angry cry of "No, you can't!" No, you can't trust the government! No, you can't make your own medical decisions! No, you can't marry your preferred spouse! No, you can't stop school shootings! No, you can't choose your own gender! No, you can't stand up to dictators! No, you can't love your neighbor! No, you can't read books! No, you can't choose your own leaders. No, you can't learn about racism! No, you can't choose your own lifestyle. No, you can't be woke! No, you can't be better!

It is truly disappointing to see the sins of the fathers visited upon the current generation. But the only way to break the cycle of shame is to make a change in ourselves. We can only strive to improve the present to create a good example for the future. We can't give up on the effort just because it isn't quick and easy. And it all starts with being woke. Even the biggest and slickest lies can't substitute for compassion, mercy, and justice. We can do better. We can acknowledge past failings and still take pride in incremental improvement. We can tell the truth, cast off our shackles, and be free of the sins of our fathers. Yes, we can!

January 30, 2024 at 3:18pm
January 30, 2024 at 3:18pm

Full disclosure: I would like to see failed insurrectionist Donald Trump disqualified from holding office in order to protect democracy and the rule of law. This ban should include any office, be it local, national or global. I would also like to see him barred from doing business in the US or abroad to protect his weak-minded and gullible base from his predatory fundraising. And I would like to see him excommunicated from any and all faith traditions as an amoral, sacrilegious, and unchristian infidel. As far as I'm concerned, he doesn't even qualify as human.

Donald Trump's lack of character should be enough to disqualify him from the ballot, but there's no legal requirement to be a good person in order to run for office. So, the issue I want to explore today is the natural-born citizen clause in the US constitution. Hospital records show that on June 14th, 1946, Mrs. Mary Anne Trump delivered a baby and a turd. Unfortunately, the baby died. Mrs. Trump was inconsolable. So much so that she sent the turd off to military school, where it left a bad odor before moving on to university. No one knows how or even if, the turd obtained a business degree. All academic records have been sealed to contain the stench.

Amazingly, the turd grew and prospered, becoming a huge steaming pile. And it was always presented on a fine silver platter so that none would dare to call it crap. Now you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. And you can serve a turd on a silver platter, but it's still a turd. The real point, however, is that a turd is not a natural-born person. And a turd, no matter how it's presented, is not qualified to be on the ballot in a presidential election.
January 19, 2024 at 4:11pm
January 19, 2024 at 4:11pm
I wrote this song parody almost five years ago. I had no idea that the orange oaf would reveal his man crush on Al Capone and make it even funnier today.

The Ballad of Donny and Al
(to the tune of The ballad of John and Yoko by The Beatles)

Betting on casinos in Jersey,
Atlantic City cash seemed so sweet.
I kicked up a fuss
when my dealers went bust.
A stock scam put me back on my feet.

Al, you know it ain’t easy,
you know how G-men can be.
The way things are going,
they might incarcerate me.

Working with the mob in construction,
don't worry pal, the check's in the mail.
Sell steaks on the side.
or cheap Chinese ties,
and Trump U grades the students pay/fail.

Al, you know it ain’t easy,
you know how G-men can be.
The way things are going,
they might incarcerate me.

Moving into big time corruption,
expanding internationally.
Shady real estate deals
are a license to steal,
dirty rubles getting laundered up clean.

Al, you know it ain’t easy,
you know how G-men can be.
The way things are going,
they might incarcerate me.

Gerrymandered voter suppression,
they say that’s how elections are done.
We got caught colludin’
with Vladimir Putin,
but baby, it don’t matter, we won!

Al, you know it ain’t easy,
you know how G-men can be.
The way things are going,
they might incarcerate me.

Lying to the people comes easy,
self-dealing’s just a personal loan.
Emoluments too
are just a president’s due;
but tax evasion brought down Capone.

Al, you know it ain’t easy,
you know how G-men can be.
The way things are going,
they might incarcerate me.

Terrence G. Fisher 2019

Author's Note

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