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The Wrong Arm of the Law
Maybe I’ve been watching too many of those British mysteries on the telly. In those stories, the slightly dotty sleuth is always able to sort through a haystack of clues and false leads to find, at last, the needle of proof that sends the wrongdoer to the nick for keeps.

Real life, as I have recently been reminded, is not like that. Robert Mueller, though he seems to be quite thorough when it comes to haystacks, does not appear to have come up with that elusive needle. Not for a conspiracy with the Rooskis, anyway. It may in fact may be there, but if it is, he couldn’t find it. That he didn’t find it does not establish Trump’s innocence or exonerate him or prove it was all a hoax. The guilty, in real life anyway, sometimes go free.

Collusion, on the other hand, was abundantly established long ago. Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with the Russians and the President’s subsequent efforts to cover up the purpose of that meeting have long ago proved that wrongdoing. But collusion is not a crime. It is simply “plotting, intrigue, or connivance.” That, we have here in spades.

But that’s not what Inspector Morse would be looking for. Conspiracy, with its very particular (and difficult to prove) legal definition, is the crime we’re talking about, and conspiracy is what Mueller could not find proof of in the haystack. Not enough to convict, anyway. We might suspect, as I do, that there was a conspiracy, but we haven’t got the proof. All we have is suspicion, and that doesn’t count for much — unless you’re into conspiracies, which I am not. I have no reason to believe that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, for instance, are running a child prostitution ring out of Comet Pizza in D.C., or that the Deep State is in league with them. I’ll leave such theories to the fevered psyches of the right.

Still, the Miss Marple in us is left to puzzle over some alarming behavior by Trump when it comes to Russia. How do we explain that he apparently continues to accept the word of Putin over the findings of our highly trained, and demonstrably patriotic intelligence professionals? What was that fawning, beta male behavior in Helsinki all about? Why has he done nothing — nothing! —about the Russian corruption of our elections that is so thoroughly detailed in the Mueller probe? Why does everyone in Trump’s orbit have one lie in common, and that lie is about talking to Russians? I have no real proof that Bad Vlad has something on our President, but it still remains the most viable hypothesis in answering these questions.

Hercule Poirot might be very happy, however, with the trove of evidence for our President’s felonious obstruction of justice. Unfortunately, however, we may never get to that satisfying ending we’ve come to expect from TV whodunits. Mueller’s report lays out the crime with sleaze to spare, but we are denied our outcome by DOJ policy. He done it, alright, and we’ve got the needles to prove it, but it seems we are not permitted to indict a sitting President.

And then there’s Attorney General William Barr. As much as I try, I can’t imagine what motivation he has for misleading the American public. An abiding love for DT? I don’t think so. Material gain? Maybe. A character with such an unclear rationale for his own wrongdoing wouldn’t be much use to DCI Banks. In any mystery I’ve ever seen, an Attorney General might be drawn as a detective’s pain-in-the-ass boss, but in the end he would at least side with the rule of law. Barr, though, is trying to undermine the rule of law by declaring that the needle we found was not a needle at all, but just another piece of hay. That could easily bring our inquiry —and our plot — to a screeching halt.

So, to be clear: there’s a real-life crook in the White House — a felon, in fact. If there ever was a mystery about that, it was solved long ago. But since our crook lives where he does, not even Sherlock Holmes himself can put the cuffs on him. And with the Trump-appointed Attorney General now derelict in his duties, the power to make Trump answer to the law rests with the U.S. Congress. Are they the Hetty Wainthropps and George Gentlys I’ve been waiting for?

I hope so, because otherwise it’s up to me and my fellow citizens…and many of them, it seems, haven’t got a clue.
I want to be clear, right from the beginning, that I do not watch golf on TV. I have nothing against the game, really. It’s just too freaking boring to watch.

It is a form of competition, I suppose, and it does involve a ball, so I guess it’s a legitimate sport. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone has their own ball and that competitors are forbidden from touching any ball but their own. That seems wrong. How can it be a real sport if it consists of a bunch of hackers out there on the lawn, each playing essentially alone with his or her own ball, without any meaningful interaction (much less physical contact) among them?

And then there are the contestants themselves: bland, to put it mildly. With a few exceptions, they all seem to have the same personality: decent, thoughtful, but not especially deep or particularly memorable. Most of them, despite of their obvious skills, do not look very much like athletes.

And then there’s Tiger Woods. If he’s in the field, I can always find a little time to stop and watch. It was that way before he became the Deeply Flawed Hero, and it has remained that way up to and through his riveting victory last weekend at the Masters. There is a lot to that story — the struggles, the history, the transit from light to darkness and back to light — but what makes it the stuff of legend is this particular hero. If we plugged the name of any other golfer in this tale, it would be impressive, but ultimately just another heroic comeback story. Such stories are commonplace in sports.

But not with Tiger as the hero. Among other things, he looks different. No spare tire there, even at 43. No droopy boobs-in-banlon, either, or goofy walking style, or quirky-but-effective swing. With Tiger, it’s all grace and power and that flare for exultation. You can’t miss him walking down the fairway; you don’t have to look for him because he’s the one you’re already looking at.

Indeed, it’s hard to think of any athlete in any sport who has that kind of star quality. Roars like that are rare, especially on a golf course. And though Tiger has moved closer to the boring golf mean in personality, he now has an even bigger bigger-than-life backstory. That will always be there whenever you hear him speak, so that even the most predictable golf platitudes will sound like ageless wisdom coming from him. Plus, he is the GOAT (for the uninitiated, an unfortunate acronym meaning Greatest Of All Time). On top of everything else, then — besides the comeback and the aura and the beautiful power of his game — he is really, really, really good at his sport.

It’s only golf, admittedly, but I’d sit down and watch him even if it were curling.
The Upside of Madness
Please allow me to burst through the cascade of daily idiocy and extol the wonder of Spring. This bright moment on Nature’s cycle brings with it a promise of renewal, of another chance to thrive and grow, of the sheer power of life itself. And, of course, of hope.

Allow me to further suggest that the NCAA college basketball championships are also a part of this pageant of life. What better point to contemplate the simple purity of amateur athletics? And what event better represents a kind of competition untainted by materiality than the innocent quest for victory that is March Madness?

It might be argued that the Olympics would be better cast in such a role. Sadly, however, the Games have been infected with the professionalism of perpetual champions. They have been co-opted by politics and degraded by rampant cheating. Most of the participants in March Madness, by contrast, will never see a paycheck for their athletic skills. A very few will go on to the NBA or WNBA and claim a brief living as professionals, but the rest will come to lead otherwise normal lives. For them, this is not about the money. It is about a moment of glory that only the young can feel, one that comprehends the virtues of good, clean competition: respect for your opponent, playing by the rules…and prevailing with honor against the very best.

It’s just sports we’re talking about, of course, but how can we be numb to such worthy intentions? Especially when such purity is tested in the national spotlight for all to see? It is good to know, in spite of the tide of meanness and selfishness we must swim against each day, that there is a universe, however small and insignificant, where our better selves can find affirmation.

(I should say here, in the interest of full disclosure, that there might be another factor coloring my Pollyanna-ish view of these NCAA tournaments. My bracket was the lucky winner in my pool. I am told that such betting competitions might be illegal, but I can only say that I played with a purity of heart that mirrored that of the the tournament itself. My cash winnings, though substantial, are irrelevant. I was in it strictly for the glory, and though I will no doubt be praised for my unique system for picking winners and my clear-eyed assessment of multiple branching probabilities, I will not brag about my victory nor do anything else to disrespect my fellow competitors. I salute you all, and thanks for playing.)

If my victory has in any way affected my analysis here, however, I will not apologize. How could I? My existence is now fortified by a kind of hope that only a truly glorious victory could provide. My notions of fairness and honor are renewed, and I am emboldened as I step back into a wider universe where such virtues must fight to gain traction.

At least that fight will be easier now. With the power of life itself under my wings.

That, and the cash in my pocket.
King of the Ill
I want
To know
(If you so

If lesser
Catch my

I ask
I am a

We are
In charge
Is that not
True man?

Are there
Who have

Some oxes
Vexed by

Or, say
A flea
who's got
The flu?

With their aches?
Feeling blue?
A worm with
it's own worms?
A kinked

Do those low
All feel
My pain?

Each ill and
Of which
I complain?

Yes I’m
Only human
And just a bit

Because if
They don’t
Then I will
Be furious
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon