Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's In a Word?

Calhoun’s Cannons for June 30, 2012

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
                                      Lewis Carroll,  “Through the Looking-Glass”

            Tax?  Mandate?  Penalty?  Broccoli? Hmmmmm. Such are the unnecessary problems created when you live in Grover NorquistLand. But Chief Justice Roberts sussed out the verbal hairs to be split and split them: No to the commerce clause, yes to the taxing power of Congress.  And, Poof! Obama Care became constitutional because a mandate by any other name is a tax.  And the Apocalypse, to hear some members of Congress, will commence today.  (Happily, you’ll at least have medical insurance coverage so you can repair your skull that was injured by the falling skies.)
            Because all the Republicans in Congress have sworn a blood oath, not to the Constitution, but to a wealthy corporate lobbyist named Grover, the rest of congress and the country has to twist itself into a pretzel to get anything done that requires any expenditures that might, conceivably be called a “tax.”  So nothing becomes straightforward and we end up playing semantic games. Facts become mere opinions, our politics and policies become incoherent and we are turned into a nation of liars shouting fake slogans at one another.
            This state of affairs makes Frank Luntz very happy (and very rich.)  Luntz, the most dangerous man in America, is a Republican pollster/political strategist and wordsmith extraordinaire who uses focus groups to winkle out the most effectively deceptive buzz-words and phrases that will conceal whatever he’s hired to conceal.  It’s fakery at a very high level.  And his most effective winkled-out fraudulence will become Republican talking points, run through the great 24/7 news cycle noise machine to be amplified up and down the line until it becomes received wisdom; Truth, in fact.  Or, as Stephen Colbert calls it, “Truthiness.”
            Remember “Death Panels?”  Perfect example of the kinds of lies we now have to swim in daily.  The real (factual) provision in the Portable Care Act would have paid a doctor for a consultation with his patients to have a serious end-of-life care discussion and go over all options (and limits and costs) available to them so they and their families could make decisions about what they wanted for themselves.  That’s all that was. 
            But that provision in the health-care reform act would have been helpful, would have  actually done something good for real citizens, might even be popular, which meant it also might offer some benefit to the opposing political party.  So, of course, it had to be lied about, demonized and destroyed, even if it hurt real people in real time. 
            And so it goes. Our discourse is full of false narratives, fake “facts, and hysterical rhetoric.  Nobody can speak truth any more.  Real facts are too dangerous.  They might benefit one political party over another.  Never mind that facts might benefit the citizens.  They no longer matter.  Not in Frank LuntzLand.  Not in Grover NorquistVille. In that world, the only thing that matters is winning.  And nobody bothers to ask, “Win what?”
            We spent years caterwalling about our lousy health care system.  People were going bankrupt paying hospital bills, people with “preexisting conditions” were unable to get health insurance at any price, insurance premiums and health care costs were rising to unsustainable levels and our hospitals were now being overburdened with the growing numbers of uninsured who showed up in the very expensive emergency rooms.
            Clearly, some sort of health care reform was needed.  But from day one, the fakery kicked in as any honest attempt at reform, from the single-payer expansion of Medicare for All, expansion of Medicaid for more uninsured, or any regulations on the insurance industry and Big Pharma, was falsely labeled “the government takeover of healthcare,” and promptly swept from the table.  
            And so we ended up with a for-profit, overly expensive cobbled together mess that few people liked, (or understood, or bothered to read) and twisted ourselves into semantic knots full of “mandates” and “penalties” and “broccoli,” because nobody could use the “T” word honestly.
            Thus we have turned ourselves into a nation of idiots.  I mean, how can you have a sane discussion about health care reform when millions of people happily receiving Medicare are simultaneously raging about “socialized medicine.”  The reality disconnect there is too large to bridge. And it’s now become impossible for people to understand that if you want things, even good things that benefit you and your family, you actually have to pay for them and that payment is called a “tax,” and it’s O.K.  It’s how government gets big things done. Everybody gets in the pool, everybody participates, everybody pays a little, and roads get built, public schools open, and bridges rise.
            And a slightly better national health care system gets underway with possibilities for great improvements ahead. If, that is, people can get their heads out of NorquistVille and LuntzLand and stop believing that shovels are teaspoons.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This wonderful piece is from "Love Poems from God; Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West," edited by Daniel Ladinsky and is by Tukaram (1608 - 1649) who in the introduction is described as the most famous saint in Marathi India.  "His poems were playful and earthy, sometimes very innocent and sometimes thought-provoking, often changing from serious to comical within a few lines.  His poems in the vernacular are called abhangs, which are poetic songs of a teaching and devotional nature. Even today many children in India grow up hearing these poems (the milder ones) recited and set to contemporary music."

Landlocked in Fur

I was meditating with my cat the other day
and all of a sudden she shouted,
"What happened?"

I knew exactly what she meant, but encouraged
her to say more -- feeling that if she got it all out on the table
she would sleep better that night.

So I responsed, "Tell me more, dear,"
and she soulfully meowed,

"Well, I was mingled with the sky.  I was comets
whizzing here and there.  I was suns in heat, hell -- I was
galaxies.  But now look -- I am
landlocked in fur.

To this I said, "I know exactly what
you mean."

What to say about converstation

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Children's Hour

Calhoun’s Cannons for June 22, 2012

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
                                                                                George Orwell

            The shocking thing is this:  How easily everyone turned away from the children and their truth.  They did not matter, but the institutions that their truth threatened did.  The Catholic Church, Penn State, the Boy Scouts, the dynamic was the same – deny, deflect, cover up, turn away, turn away.
            And how easily the mind deflected the children’s truth into euphemism – they weren’t raped, they were “inappropriately touched.”  Or “molested.”  Their rapists were “troubled men” who needed to be treated with understanding and compassion.  Or wrapped in the code of silence, for the good of the church, for the good of the school.  And the children were dismissed and turned away.  That made things much, much easier.
            And how quickly silence overtook everyone involved.  One didn’t discuss such things in public.  Not in polite company.  Not in the press or on TV.  And so the shadow world continued: lying adults, truthful children, the safety of an institution placed above the safety of a child’s soul.
            Year after year after year, all the lost children hidden from view, the sins piling to the sky until they couldn’t be hidden any longer.  And when they finally broke free, how easily the adults scattered –I didn’t know, I didn’t see, we thought it best to keep it quiet.  The Catholic Church stonewalled, withheld documents, fought with investigators all the way down the line.  They were protecting their institution, you see, not going hell bent for leather to get justice for their raped children.  Penn State initially diminished, dismissed, overlooked, and feebly did as little as possible, until Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky’s crimes couldn’t possibly be contained any longer.  Yet even then, vast crowds of Penn State students turned out to support their god, Coach Joe Paterno, when it was manifest that Joe had clearly guarded his school, not “his kids.”  And now the news that the Boy Scouts have for years covered up their own file cabinet of rape cases.  More denial, more lies, more turning away to protect a revered institution.
            And why not?  It’s clear that in our society, institutions are of value and must be preserved at all costs.  When it became clear that the Catholic Church had been involved for years in a conspiracy of protecting child raping priests and was even now actively involved in stonewalling investigations, every Catholic layman and woman should have walked out of the church door and refused to come back until the Church hierarchy had a thorough house-cleaning.  But that didn’t happen.  They stayed in their pews.  In a choice between their church and their children, their choice was clear. 
            And at Penn State, Jerry Sandusky is going to prison, but everyone else is happily ensconsed in  their cushy jobs and it remains to be seen how far the ongoing investigation of this mater will go.  I’m betting it will quietly go away, a few wrists slapped, nothing more.  Time to move on.  There’s another football season to prepare for.
            And I have yet to hear that all Scoutmasters across the nation are holding a national boycott until headquarters moves aggressively to open up those files and assist fully with a police investigation and then be held fully accountable for their years-long cover up. 
            But that’s the way of it in a society that gives lip service to children, while not really caring for them in real time.  Compared to other civilized societies, our child welfare numbers are abysmal; hungry kids, sick kids, poor kids, “at risk kids.”  The number of cracks they can fall through are endless because Americans don’t much care for safety nets, not even for kids.  The “village” needed to properly raise a child was ridiculed and blown away years ago. Now, they’re on their own, like their parents, to sink or swim, so they’d better just toughen up.
            And if sexual predators in the form of priests, teachers, coaches, scout-masters come after them, if the institution their rapists work for is rich and powerful and well connected, the children’s truth will go into a file cabinet, for the good of all, you understand.
            Unless we, as a society, decide that a child’s soul, a child’s truth, needs to trump a church steeple or an ivy-covered campus. And so long as euphemisms create a false reality, maybe it’s time to stop speaking about “molesting,” which is such a muddled, soft word, and start calling it what it is: rape.  Maybe that way, when a child speaks that truth, we’ll believe him.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bring the Salad Dressing

Sunday, June 24, from 1 -4 PM. the Morro Bay Community Organic Garden is having a BBQ fund-raiser and a chance to tour their community garden.  The garden is located at Ironwood Ave, South of the entrance to Del Mar Park.  The fund raiser will go to buy some more tools and maintenance equipment for this fabulous community enterprise.  Tickets are available at Coalesce Bookstore, Miners garden store in Morro Bay and can be purchased at the BBQ at the garden. Tickets are $12 for adults, Veggie lunch and Children under 12 are $5. For further information, call Susan Heinemann at 772-7828.

If you want to have a yummy lunch and a chance to see what a band of community veggie pioneers have been up to, stop by for a look-see. Then maybe think about starting your own community garden!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ah, what's in a word?

Interesting story in Saturday's Tribune by David Sneed, about the Coastal Commission latest hearing of an appeal to revoke the sewer project's permit on account of claims that the commission's original approval "was based on false information from the county and state water officials."

The Tribune reported that Dan Carl, the commission's Central Coast regional director, said "he could find no evidence that the commission was intentionally misled."

Commissioner Jana Zimmer of Santa Barbara is further quoted as saying, of the revocation request, "I think it's really inappropriate to infer that the staff was bamboozled in any way." 

Does anybody but me find it deliciously funny that "unintentionally misled" is O.K. with the Commission while "intentionally misled" is a no-no?  I always thought misled was misled.

And as for Ms. Zimmer, I will have to presume she is unfamiliar with the infamous Coastal Commissioner who famously talked about "bait and switchy" at an earlier hearing.  When did "bait and switchy" separate out from "bamboozled?" I always thought if you had been bait and switched, you had been bamboozled.

Well, who knew?

Tuesday night, June 19th,  at the Los Osos Middle School from 7 - 9 pm. the county will be holding a public outreach meeting to begin to get information out on the construction schedule.

Chugga, chugga.  Bait and Switchy Train's now out of the station.  Unintentionally.  Woooo, Wooo.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This sly piece by Piet Hein (1905-1996), Danish scientist, poet, put together books of these short poems called "gruks" (grook)

Timing Toast

There's an art of knowing when.
Never try to guess.
Toast until it smokes and then
Twenty seconds less.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Awww, just how dumb are we, Part I

Awww, just how dumb are we, Part I?

            Poor Joe Tarica.  His Sunday Tribune column really stepped in it on Sunday.  True, he took some unwarranted swipes at people in the Central Valley, for which he was rightly chastised, but his column primarily focused on the cigarette-taxing Proposition 29, which proposition tanked because of a terrific campaign by the tobacco companies.  A lot of letter-to-the-editor writers took umbrage and wrote in.  But their letters, for the most part, illustrated just how terrific the tobacco companies’ campaign had been. 
            The Tobacco Boys ran a barrage of ads that paired the words “taxes,” and “bureaucrats/government,” with the winning tag-line, . . . we don’t need more taxes. . . Oooo, those are guaranteed winning words in this tax and government/bureaucracy-hating political climate and sure enough, the brains of millions knee-jerked and their fingers went right to the “NO!” box on the ballot.
            Brilliant.  Especially the use of the “we,” like it’s just us poor freedom-loving citizens against those evil taxers, those evil bureaucrats, forgetting that the vast majority of those “we’s” don’t smoke so would be totally unaffected by the tax.  Nope.  Just the thought of the word “tax” was enough.
            Never mind the point of the tax, or whether it might benefit smokers, or deter them.  Nope.  A tax is a tax is a tax and even the threat of a tax on some other guy is somehow translated by our already-primed brains into a tax on me.  And the letters to the editor showed just how effective Big Tobacco’s strategy had been as they parroted it back.   Said Denny Barringer, “It was an unjust tax.  It targeted the already burdened.  It made no sense.  It wasn’t about making people quit smoking – it was about bureaucracy.”
            Ah, yes, “bureaucracy.” Never mind that it was also about making people quit or never start – price points have a tendency to also be tipping points that can change behavior.  And never mind “unjust.” All taxes can be viewed as “unjust.”  Right now, polls show that the vast majority of Americans support the idea of “unjustly” raising taxes on millionaires.  That’s as “unfair” as slapping a buck on a pack of smokes. 
            No.  Logic had nothing to do with what happens in the lizard brain.  And ours have been carefully primed for years to view taxes as evil, the government as evil and bureaucrats (i.e. anybody who works for the government, even those who provide vital services to the taxpayers) as evil.  So, simply pair those two hot buttons in a primed brain, toss in the “We” to create the false sense that we’re somehow part of what’s being proposed, and there you have it: Guaranteed crash and burn.
            Ah, those Tobacco Boys know what they’re doing!

Awww, Just how dumb are we, Part II

            The Tribune’s been running a series about the plight of our schools.  They’re broke.  Classes are cut to the bone, things like art and music are tossed out the door.  Parents have to hold bake sales to even have a hope of getting their kids a decent education.
            Awwww, too bad.  Now, can we please parse this problem?  Taxes are the price we pay for things we want.  Clearly, for years and years, nobody wanted educated kids.  They couldn’t possibly have felt that was important because they refused to vote to tax themselves so they could have decent schools.  (And the schools themselves refused to deal with their own problems of waste and mismanagement and bad teachers.)  Instead, the constant mantra was (here it is again) the school “bureaucracy” is wasteful, those  rich, fat, “bureaucratic” unionized, money-grubbing teachers are earning too much money, the kids don’t need any “frills,” we don’t need to raise taxes to pay for any of this.  We need to privatize schools, make them more competitive, bust the teacher’s unions, race those wages to the bottom, turn schools  into a for-profit business.
            The result you can see.  Failing public schools, poorly educated kids, parents out selling brownies.  Pathetic.  But you get what you pay for and clearly, as a nation, we ain’t paying for public education.  It’s not important to us because you only educate the next generation if you believe you have a future.  And we no longer believe we do.

Awww, just how dumb are we, Part III?

            The AP reports that health-care spending will be one-fifth of the economy by 2021. Even if the Supremes don’t overturn Obamacare, health care costs, insurance costs, will all continue to rise, despite new efforts at reform that are now resulting in savings.  The costs are being driven by an aging population and the rise of often unnecessary expensive new medical technologies.
            And, of course, a horribly overweight population, with the young kids coming along destined to die cruelly at a far earlier age than their overweight parents.  As I said, we’ve turned ourselves into a country with no future.  Literally.  And a country sadly filling with the next generation: Under-educated , 12year-old kids weighing 200 pounds and already diagnosed with diabetes.
            But when the First Lady plants a garden and urges the country to get off its fat butt and move and eat right, right wing politicos start yelling about The Nanny State.  Propose a tax on sugar and high-fructose corn sugar, or even propose simply stopping subsidies on those lucrative and damaging products, or, better yet, shift those subsidies to fresh fruits and vegetables, and corporate, fake Astroturf organizations and the right wing will arrive in full force braying about “We” (there it is again, that “we”) as in “We don’t need any more taxes.”   
And now the answer to, Awwww, just how dumb are we, Part IV?       

            Meanwhile, Burger King announced they’re rolling out a new summer treat:  The bacon sundae –vanilla soft serve, fudge, caramel, bacon crumbles and a piece of bacon stuck on top.  Logs in at 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar.
            I have no doubt it will be a big hit. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

Mallows in bloom, zuri, finn, backyard 009
Last year the old, old mallow bush flared into beauty – the magnificent Pink Queen of the Yard.

Mallow collapsed, backyard 003 

Then came the rains and laden with water the blooms and leaves collapsed in a heap.  The few remaining limbs struggled along but the roots had pried loose and it was doomed.

Mallow cutting, back yard, Mar 12 001 So I made some cuttings, rooted them and replanted the Pink Queen’s clone and lo, it started to grow.

Molly sleeping 1 001

And now, here it is again.  The Pink Queen rules!  

 On a day when the wind is perfect
 the sail just needs to open
 and the world is full of beauty.
 Today is such a day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin

            It was so sweet.  All those earnest, scrubbed Mid-west faces, genuinely believing that they could use a loving-hands-at-home grassroots recall movement to overcome the power of money, the power of resentment and envy that supports an effective political race to the economic bottom and the supremely effective power of false narratives.
            Naturally, the grassroots recall of Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, failed. How could it not?  Recalls are, in the best of times, difficult things to pull off.  There’s only been a few in history.  People hate recalls.  For most of them, it’s a long, long stretch between, “I hate that guy,” and “I’ll actually vote to toss the bum out.”  Instead, people will endure all sorts of awful governance and won’t lift a finger to do anything more than just grumble and wait until the next election. And in Wisconsin, the bar had been set even higher – recalls only for illegal wrong-doing. And with Walker, that was (at this point) lacking, though there is an ongoing investigation into some illegal activities alleged to have gone on in the Governor’s office.
            And nobody should ever, ever underestimate the power of envy in a bad economy.  In hard, scary times, instead of raising all boats, the reverse is true.  After all, the secret heart whispers, Why should you, via your union benefits, be doing better than I, who am without those benefits?  And if you’re a public worker and my taxes are paying your salary, well, I’m gonna make sure you really, really get cut down to my size.
            And, of course, one should never, ever underestimate the overwhelming power of the false narrative fueled by unlimited money.  The big lie too often wins in the short run, and in politics, it’s all short run.  Plus, negative ads work, no matter how many times we tell ourselves that that don’t.  They do.
            So, there’s Wisconsin, which became a sort of laboratory for what’s roiling the rest of the nation: an unbalanced economy with only a few boats rising while the rest have been scuttled or sent to China; a political ideologue (Walker) who forgot that while you can run as an ideologue you have to govern as a moderate, and instead of compromise, took an ax to the few remaining boats, gave tax breaks to his rich cronies, then openly going after union’s bargaining rights – an arrogant act of overreach that triggered the revolt.  And finally, Wisconsin became the first chance to see what unlimited (and secret) PAC money can do in a hot-button, clearly partisan, ideological,  political fight.
            Interestingly, the battle isn’t quite over.  There’s a few GOP state senators up for grabs and ultimately, the outcome of that battle may moot Walker’s win – a new Democratic majority that will block any more of Walker’s unilateral ramrodding.  
            Perfect cheese fight! With the outcome pretty predictable.  But, bless all those fresh, hopeful mid-west faces. Wisconsinites, you got the government you deserve, ot once but . . . twice! 

Speaking of Cheese Fights

            The guy even looks like Jeremy Irons, star of Showtime’s “The Borgias.”  In a new book, “His Holiness,” by Gialuigi Nuzzi, who got his inside info from a Vatican “deep throat,” the Pope is portrayed as a weak doofus surrounded by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, “the Holy See’s influential secretary of state.  In his quest to consolidate power for himself and his cronies, Bertone made many enemies at the Vatican.  The picture that emerges is of powerful groups fighting it out for control beneath an ‘almost absent’ pope, who is fully ‘under the thumb of the powerful cardinal.”  Toss in the head of the Vatican Bank, who was abruptly fired (amid rumors that he actually got the boot because he had really been trying to root out financial corruption at the bank), and now the Pope’s personal valet is caught with stolen documents . . .
            Bring on the poison-in-the-ring!
            Or, better yet.  Send a whole bunch of those fresh-faces Wisconsinites over to Italy to recall the Pope and all his minions.  Considering the still-ongoing disgrace of the child-raping priests and the still indifferent/obstructing hierarchy, maybe it’s time for a total recall.  Throw the bums out and start over.

Oh, Noooooooo . . .

            Oh, Dear God, No. . . .  John Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, has just written a new tell-all book that’s due out on June 26.  Haven’t we had enough?  Really, Rielle?  A tell-all-book?  Really?

            “Hunter told GQ magazine in 2010 that she said she did not want to capitalize on the affair to make money.

            Yet here she is. 

Time to move to France.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Your Sunday Muse

From, Love Poems from God; Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, Daniel Ladinsky, ed.  This one by St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)


            All has been consecrated.
    The creatures in the forest know this,

the earth does, the seas do, the clouds know
          as does the heart full of

    Strange a priest would rob us of this

       and then empower himself
               with the ability
         to make holy what
                already was.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Bring in the Clowns

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for June 2,  2012

The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think about us.
                                                   Quentin Crisp.

            No matter how I try, it just keeps returning to the ridiculous.  With all those ruined lives, the whole, sad story should firmly remain in the realm of tragedy.  But like one of those Shmoo boppy toys, it keeps whipping back into farce.
            He was the golden boy; a wealthy, highly successful litigator, a poor boy from one America who now lived in the other America, a presidential candidate who gave a whole gaggle of Democratic hopefuls a run for their money.  John Edwards had it all.  
           And lost it all.  It’s a tale that should cause feelings of sad empathy, perhaps a moment of smug self-righteousness. But for me it all just keeps turning from a sad-faced tsk-tsk moment back into snort-through-the-nose laughter.
            I think it’s just the sheer wretched excess of it all.  This wasn’t a story of one man’s ego and libido getting the better of him in a moment of weakness.  This was epic!--  a traveling road-show that included a cast of players larger than “Cats” that turned the action into a Max Sennett comedy, all zippy rattle-trap cars whizzing up and down and back and forth while a speeding train crashes into a water tower.
            And somewhere along its sorry way, the tale passed the point of mini-gravitas and tipped into a clown car jammed full of fools, each more embarrassing than the other. 
            I mean . . . Rielle?  the hideous high-maintenance mistress, one of those Hollywood wannabes who was originally hired to make a series of “webisodes” of Edward’s campaign.  Between making stump speeches, shaking endless hands, and kissing babies, the two of them fell into bed.  The expensive video log Ms. Hunter made turned out to be so poorly shot it was unusable (Goodbye Hollywood), but the baby the two of them made in that hotel room stuck around (Hello Pampers).
            And had to be hidden from the ferociously ambitious and now-suspicious wife.
            Who was suffering from cancer.  Did I forget to mention that part?  
            Enter Andrew Young, the loyal lickspittle willing to fall on his sword by volunteering to claim that the child was his, which prompts a few moments of delight picturing how Mr. Young explained that baby’s existence to his own wife.  Cue the pie in the face.
            And best of all, this hugger-mugger traveling hide-the-baby Klown Karnival was financed by a loopy heiress, the fabulously wealthy  “Bunny” Mellon, and a couple of Edward’s rich lawyer pals, all of whom thought nothing of dropping over a million smackaroonies just to keep this ridiculous production on the road.
            And so it shambled on, wheels creaking, calliope booming, the dying wife raging, the whining mistress demanding shopping trips to Los Angeles, the golden coins pouring out of the purses and pockets of  the Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mommy Mellon, while the baby-hiding aide stopped feeling the love and started sulking and plotting his own cover-his-ass revenge.
            And above it all, the master juggler floated, the smiling, golden-haired Edwards.   Campaigning for President, then, when that wasn’t working, maneuvering to cut a deal to become the Veep.  No?  Well how’s about giving me some kind of high-powered State Dept. office? Astonishing. Brazen. Shameless.  Deluded.  Oblivious.
            Until the wheels came off.
            And the wife died, and Edwards sought absolution from the obligatory TV confession – My bad.  My bad.  My maxima culpa bad -- followed by a trial for political corruption (all that nice Mellon money), where even more grisly, cringe-worthy details spilled out.  And the poor jurors had to struggle with confusing, conflicting election laws filled to the Swiss-cheese brim with deliberately written convenient, wink-nudge loopholes.
            All of which should elicit sympathy, perhaps some sorrow.  A long face?  I mean, how much more can one man be humiliated?
            But there it is.  That stubborn snicker.  
            In classic literature, the downfall of the tragic hero should inspire fear and pity. But this wasn’t tragedy, it was comeuppance. Somewhere along the way this sorry saga passed melodrama and fell onto the banana peel of not guilty on one charge and a mistrial on the other five.   
            That the DOJ wasted a dump-truck load of tax dollars on a political corruption case in the era of  Citizens United and all our now-legal corrupt and corrupting Super PAC spending, well, that’s the biggest laugh of all.
            Cue the Whoopee Cushion.