Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Felonies a Day

“It is hard to overstate the power of federal prosecutors,” NYU law professor Rachel Barkow

In “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent” Harvey Silverglate demonstrates how over-zealous U.S. attorneys take advantage of vague federal statutes to target people who did know knowingly break the law, including public officials and controversial private citizens, including political activists.  I’ll have to bring the book to the attention of Lake County surveyor George Van Til, hounded for allegedly having staff members engage in campaign work, something universally practiced by officeholders seeking re-election.  Someone with a personal grudge or political motive must have hounded the U.S. attorney until he looked into it.  I’m certain Van Til did not intend to break the law but was only following a time-honored tradition.

At Gaard Murphy Logan’s suggestion I started Will Schwalbe’s “The End of Your Life Book Club,” about a son discussing books with his mother critically ill with pancreatic cancer.  The first one of these, Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing to Safety,” deals with the friendship of two couples, including a woman dying of cancer.  Schwalbe mentions books that open with memorable lines, such as Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” (“The small boys came early to the hanging”).  Even better is this opening salvo from John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany”: “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”  Gaard is currently reading “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, about a seemingly benign Internet monopoly, TruYou, that threatens everyone’s privacy.

WXRT focused on 1983, the year Dave and Phil completed seventh and eighth grades respectively.  I heard several songs Dave’s old band LINT performed, including REM’s “Radio Free Europe” and “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes.  Favorite albums in the Lane house included “Fun Boy Free” by the Specials and “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads.  The Kinks, whim we saw at the Star Plaza, made a comeback with “Come Dancing,” and John Mellencamp dropped the middle name “Cougar” on “Pink Houses.”

The Ayers Realtors Fall Newsletter “Beach Bits” column lists such Miller Beach upcoming events as a Food Bank benefit at Temple Israel, “Soupy Saturdays” at Lake Street Gallery till year’s end, and a book signing at the Gardner Center for Ron Cohen and James Capaldi’s “Pete Seeger Reader.”  Gene Ayers reported that NIRPC (Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission) labeled Miller a “Livable Community.”

Saturday we dined with the Hagelbergs at Longhorn Steakhouse after seeing “Last Vegas,” for me the second time.  Of the four geezers Morgan Freeman is the only one without a love interest, but when he dances with two drag queens he seems to have a boner going.   At Hagelbergs for bridge (Toni won), Dick turned on the end of the IU game.  The Hoosiers found another unique way to lose.  On Minnesota’s nine yard-line with 30 seconds to go and needing a field goal to tie of a TD for the win, the QB threw a swing pass behind the running back that fell incomplete.  Since it didn’t travel forward, it was a live ball.  A defenseman swooped it up after the IU player didn’t bother to retrieve it.  What a gaffe!

Philadelphia 76ers, predicted to be the NBA’s worst team, has started the season 3-0, defeating Miami, Washington, and the Bulls.  On opening night fans honored Allen Iverson, who officially announced his retirement, saying, “I gave everything I had to basketball.”  Nobody played with more guts than AI, my favorite player of his era and a worthy successor to fan favorite Charles Barkley.   On hand for the occasion were Julius “Dr. J” Erving and his Georgetown coach Thompson.  Barely six feet tall he led the league in scoring four times.

How great to find Steve Buscemi in season 5 of “The Sopranos’ as paroled gangster Tony Blundetto.  Blundetto hopes to go straight as a massage therapist, but something tells me he’ll be lured back into a life of crime.  It doesn’t take him long to piss off his cousin Tony Soprano, breaking into a Reginald Van Gleason III impression to declare in front of others, “Boy, are you fat.”  Rapidly losing his mind, Uncle Junior spots Larry David and Jeff Garlin on TV from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and thinks it is he and Bobby.
Above, Reginald Van Gleason III; below, Samuel A. Love photo by Brenda Love
At the Unitarian Church in Hobart to speak on the subject of voting, Samuel Love sat in what he called “the king’s chair” but insisted that he is an anti-monarchist.  After Brenda posted a photo, Sam’s mother wrote that she was very proud of him.

Because the Vikings-Cowboys noon NFL game ended early, Fox switched to the Chargers-Redskins just as a replay review was underway.  Danny Woodhead came within inches of putting San Diego ahead with under a minute to go.  It came down to whether he grazed the pylon before touching the ground out of bounds.  After he was correctly ruled to have been short of the goal line, Washington had an unbelievable goal-line stand.  As Washington Post blogger Dan Steinberg stated, Somehow, a run and two passes got them bupkis, and the game improbably went to overtime.”  Skins won the coin toss and scored a TD to pull off an improbable win.

I suggested that Blandine Huk and Frederic Cousseau consider making a three-minute YouTube video called “The Dream Continues in Gary” based on our hanging Martin Luther posters at 4 Brothers Market and similar to the “Camilo Vergara MLK poster-bombing” at the abandoned Elgin Diner in Camden, New Jersey.  I also informed Pam Broadaway that I’d be willing to speak at the Maria Reiner Senior Center in Hobart about “Vietnam Veterans from the Calumet Region.”  She wants me to come in February; Steve McShane has agreed to go with me.

In an ideal world Mitt Romney would offer his services to the Obama administration in a dual effort to achieve a “Grand Bargain” regarding the budget and to fix problems with the Affordable Care Act.  During the 2012 campaign Romney touted closing tax loopholes as an answer to budget deficits; as Massachusetts governor he implemented a similar health care plane.  Perhaps, if the two found common ground, the President could reciprocate by offering Romney a cabinet post.  In 1940 when war clouds descended upon Europe, FDR appointed Republicans to key cabinet posts.  In 1960 after winning election by the narrowest of margins, JFK picked Robert McNamara and Douglas Dillon to head the Defense and Treasury departments.  The present situation is reminiscent of 1952, when Ike helped rescue the Republican Party from extremists.  Romney seems eager to save his party from Tea Party zealots, but is too timid apparently to make a statesmanlike gesture in the long-term interest of the nation and his party.  Instead he expects Chris Christie to save the GOP and meanwhile sticks to partisan attacks that are beneath his dignity.

In Nicole Anslover’s Sixties class the subject was Black Power.  I mentioned that the after the emphasis within the civil rights movement moved north Black Power spoke to what ghetto residents lacked – control over their own residences, stores, teachers, police, and public officials.  Nicole showed a 20-minute “Eyes on the Prize” segment about Carl Stokes winning election as mayor of Cleveland.
wit and wisdom postings by Steven Pickert

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