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View from the Solstice
The nights
Will be shorter now
As we push on
Toward the light

Let the sun
Grow strong
Let it illuminate
Cleanse, purify
Let it kill
Let the corruption
Wither and die
Let the lies
Be burned away
So we can
Start again

Just be sure
To get it all
Because the long nights
Will return
The Future Felon
I am certainly no expert at reading tea leaves. For one thing, I rarely drink tea. For another, it’s damn near impossible when they put them in those little bags. I don’t know, maybe I’m doing something wrong.


Anyway, I also have problems with my political predictions because I tend to let my personal feelings get in the way. One needs detachment to make sound judgments about the future. The leaves I am trying to read here are those that pertain to the future of the current resident of the White House. I am way too emotionally involved with this topic. It’s so bad, I can’t even stand to speak his name, much less forecast the exact date of his eviction.

For a while, like most people, I was basing my projections on his actions. Ever since he entered presidential politics and began doing the unthinkable, I and everyone else have been predicting his fall. But each time, no matter what the offense, he has escaped and moved on, seemingly unscathed. And so we see that none of those outrages-of-the-day has been any help in our political prognostication. So now I intend to focus on the words and actions of other people. Is there something in their response to He-who-must-not-be-named that might somehow hint at our future?

Again, let me stress that I’ve had very little success with this kind of fortune telling. Not only can I not bear to speak his name, the mere thought of it summons the taste of bile in my mouth. It clouds my thinking. For a while, I was projecting that he’d be out by Washington’s Birthday, 2018. Even though that was only a joke designed to get a rise out of people, I was genuinely crushed when it didn’t happen.

But that was before. This time, I am trying to leave my feelings (and any direct thoughts about him) out of it. Instead, I will go with an evidence-based approach. Scientific leaf reading, if you like. Let me give you an example: just today, Judge Andrew Napolitano — on Fox and Friends, of all places — suggested that Goldfungus may in fact be guilty of a felony for authorizing that hush money for Stormy Daniels. For a regular talking head over at Fox News, this would ordinarily amount to heresy.

Fox’s Laura Ingraham, lantern-jawed defender of the Orange Julius Caesar, dared to disagree with his recent assertion that The Wall has already been partly built. Though she didn’t say so, she was siding with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on that one. When was the last time something like that happened? Tucker Carlson has been tough on the president for over a year now (mainly because he wasn’t rabid enough about immigrants), but recently Tucker has added such jibes as “unfocused” and “boastful” (gosh, really?) to his list of complaints.

I don’t want to make too much of these examples. Fox remains, after all, the main megaphone for White House apologists and conspiracy mongers. Still, I see a trend. Michael Ramirez, a prominent right-wing colleague of mine (strong art, at least) produced a cartoon last week depicting T.Reeks as repellently ugly and even a tad cray-cray. That is unprecedented ink, coming from that pen.

And then there are all the people who decided not to take the job of White House Chief of Staff. That’s a rough total of 7.7 billion people (minus Mean Mick Mulvaney, who will soon join me in regretting the day he was born). That’s a lot of tea leaves, and they all seem to be saying that no sane person wants to get anywhere near the Cheeto-in-Chief.

And, lastly, there are ex-pals Michael Cohen and David Pecker (look it up in the dictionary — that’s his picture you see). They have both turned against the Bellowing Tangelo in a big way, transforming their undying support into dead weights around his bloated, bottle-bronze neck.

The Big Bag of Leaves is the Senate Republicans. I don’t see any of those leaves turning quite yet. Still, you hear plenty of scuttlebutt about deep dissatisfaction among these G.O.P. poohbahs. That disgruntlement will only go public once we get the long-awaited report from Robert Swan Mueller III. That may well be the biggest tea leaf of all, but it’s still not here. If the trend continues, however, the end may well be near.

And it will continue. My scientific leaf reading confirms that it wilI. What it doesn’t confirm is when, so I guess we’ll just have to be patient. Sometime, maybe even sooner than we think, the season will be over for the Golden Hate Warrior.

Okay, I know that prediction sucks. We’d all prefer to know exactly when it’s going to happen. As you know, however, tea leaves can be very evasive. They are certain of one thing, though: the Ochre Ogre will go down.
Eminently Qualified
Sadder
But wiser
But slower
But trickier
But weaker
But steadier
But unsteadier
But maturer
But older
What Lasts
Pont du Gard is truly a wonder. If you’ve never been there, look up “aqueduct” in your 28-volume Encyclopedia Brittanica. Or just Google it. Among the images connected to your search will be a picture of this stunning piece of Roman engineering.

It was part of a water system that once extended over 31 miles through the rolling hills of what is now southern France, but the image that persists is of the massive structure that crosses the Gardon River at Pont du Gard. It rises 140 feet above the river and spans a distance of over 900 feet. The aqueduct, despite having been built with only crude tools, is still standing after almost two millennia, and it is beautiful. The arches and columns formed by thousands of stacked limestone blocks (no mortar was used in its construction) seem unperturbed by the passage of time. It projects a calm, solid, almost serene presence. At its base by the river, giving testimony to the enduring character of the place, a thousand-year-old olive tree still thrives.

Augustus Caesar ordered the project to supply Nemausus (now Nimes), an ancient metropolis of 50,000 citizens, with water for their homes, their fountains, their luxurious public baths. By today’s standards, the levels of water usage per resident were almost sinfully high, but the world they lived in must have been a watery paradise.

The Roman aqueduct in Segovia has a less certain lineage. Unlike the city of Nimes, which rests at the edge of a broad plain, the original second-century core of this city — the intended target of the water — sits on a high outcropping. It is the kind of place that would be easily defensible along all of its sides, a place safe from the threat of marauders. That is how it was used by the Iberians who lived here before the Romans came. While the history of the French aqueduct is well-documented, the story behind this Spanish structure is largely a mystery. No records exist of the city’s name at that time, the number and descriptions of the people there, the uses to which the encampment was put, or the rationale for the structure. All that is known is that it was ordered by the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD — about fifty years after the work at Pont du Gard.

There are physical differences as well. The edifice in Spain consists of only two levels of arches instead of three, and although the columns supporting them are quite tall, the highest point is only 90 feet above the ground. Like its French cousin, it is unmortared, but composed of granite rather than limestone. And most noticeably, it stands at the very center of the modern city of Segovia — a sharp contrast from the remote and peaceful Pont du Gard.

Despite the differences, both are beautiful. They have long since stopped serving their original purposes, but the confidence and grace of their ancient ingenuity can still stun us today. I find that deeply comforting, though I’m not sure why.

Perhaps I want to see them as a hopeful a metaphor for our lives here and now. If something we create, whether as real as stone or as ephemeral as an idea or a feeling, can still persist a thousand years from now — and be seen as something good — that would be a worthy epitaph for our existence. Even if our motives are mundane and the rationale for the thing is long forgotten, with luck, the spirit of the creation itself might end up being what matters most.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon