C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.


Friday, May 26, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Russ Recommends: Harvey, 1950


Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" — she always called me Elwood — "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Being pleasant is easier said than done. But we could all envy Elwood P. Dowd, a softspoken dreamer of independent means who has the help of a marvelous, magical friend named Harvey.  Jimmy Stewart is at his best in this comic fantasy, ably supported by Josephine Hull as his sister Veta - a Thurber caricature come to life - and a slew of other fine character actors.  Do watch it if you can find it - it will surely make you laugh and give your spirits a lift.

Original 1950 trailer:



Jimmy Stewart's introduction to the 1990 home video release:




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Random-Flash President



It has always been starkly evident to anyone with a lick of sense that Trump is a blustering, bragging, overgrown baby, a child's mind in a man's body.  Finally, it seems, the oh-so-smart mainstream press of this overstimulated era has figured it out, too.  Duh.

Excerpt from the New York Times opinion piece, "When the World Is Led by a Child," by David Brooks:
At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist or a big business corporatist.

But as Trump has settled into his White House role, he has given a series of long interviews, and when you study the transcripts it becomes clear that fundamentally he is none of these things.

At base, Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif. . . .

Which brings us to the reports that Trump betrayed an intelligence source and leaked secrets to his Russian visitors. From all we know so far, Trump didn’t do it because he is a Russian agent, or for any malevolent intent. He did it because he is sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.

The Russian leak story reveals one other thing, the dangerousness of a hollow man.

Our institutions depend on people who have enough engraved character traits to fulfill their assigned duties. But there is perpetually less to Trump than it appears. When we analyze a president’s utterances we tend to assume that there is some substantive process behind the words, that it’s part of some strategic intent.

But Trump’s statements don’t necessarily come from anywhere, lead anywhere or have a permanent reality beyond his wish to be liked at any given instant.

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

“We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him,” David Roberts writes in Vox. “It might give us some sense of control, or at least an ability to predict what he will do next. But what if there’s nothing to understand? What if there is no there there?”

And out of that void comes a carelessness that quite possibly betrayed an intelligence source, and endangered a country.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Drive: Strauss, Voices of Spring

A favorite composition of the Waltz King, so right for the merry month of May:




Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Moment and the Choice

For the record, here is an open letter, published on Thursday, from the Editorial Board of the New York Times to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

I will make no comment, except to say that anyone who watched Mr. Rosenstein's confirmation hearing in March would find it hard to doubt his integrity and loyalty to the Constitution.  I'm sure at this turning point in the history of our Republic, he must feel himself caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Dear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

It’s rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now. Even before President Trump’s shocking decision on Tuesday to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey, a dark cloud of suspicion surrounded this president, and the very integrity of the electoral process that put him in office. At this fraught moment you find yourself, improbably, to be the person with the most authority to dispel that cloud and restore Americans’ confidence in their government. We sympathize; that’s a lot of pressure.

Given the sterling reputation you brought into this post — including a 27-year career in the Justice Department under five administrations, and the distinction of being the longest-serving United States attorney in history — you no doubt feel a particular anguish, and obligation to act. As the author of the memo that the president cited in firing Mr. Comey, you are now deeply implicated in that decision.

It was a solid brief; Mr. Comey’s misjudgments in his handling of the F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server were indeed serious. Yet you must know that these fair criticisms were mere pretext for Mr. Trump, who dumped Mr. Comey just as he was seeking more resources to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

You must also know that in ordering you to write the memo, Mr. Trump exploited the integrity you have earned over nearly three decades in public service, spending down your credibility as selfishly as he has spent other people’s money throughout his business career. We can only hope that your lack of an explicit recommendation to fire Mr. Comey reflects your own refusal to go as far as the president wanted you to.

In any case, the memo is yours, and that has compromised your ability to oversee any investigations into Russian meddling. But after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from these matters, because of his own contacts during the campaign with the Russians, the power to launch a truly credible investigation has fallen to you, and you alone.

You have one choice: Appoint a special counsel who is independent of both the department and the White House. No one else would have the standing to assure the public it is getting the truth. While a handful of Republican senators and representatives expressed concern at Mr. Comey’s firing, there is as yet no sign that the congressional investigations into Russian interference will be properly staffed or competently run. And Americans can have little faith that the Justice Department, or an F.B.I. run by Mr. Trump’s handpicked replacement, will get to the bottom of whether and how Russia helped steal the presidency for Mr. Trump.

In theory, no one should have a greater interest in a credible investigation than the president, who has repeatedly insisted the suspicions about his campaign are baseless. Yet rather than try to douse suspicions, he has shown he is more than willing to inflame them by impeding efforts to get to the truth.

Given your own reputation for probity, you must be troubled as well by the broader pattern of this president’s behavior, including his contempt for ethical standards of past presidents. He has mixed his business interests with his public responsibilities. He has boasted that conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to him as president. And from the moment he took office, Mr. Trump has shown a despot’s willingness to invent his own version of the truth and to weaponize the federal government to confirm that version, to serve his ego and to pursue vendettas large and small.

When Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, for instance, he created a Voter Fraud Task Force to back up his claim that the margin resulted from noncitizens voting illegally (the task force has done nothing to date). When there was no evidence for his claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, Mr. Trump demanded that members of Congress put their work aside in order to dig up “facts” to support it.

Firing Mr. Comey — who, in addition to leading the Russia investigation, infuriated Mr. Trump by refusing to give any credence to his wiretapping accusation — is only the latest and most stunning example. The White House can’t even get its own story straight about why Mr. Trump took this extraordinary step.

Few public servants have found themselves with a choice as weighty as yours, between following their conscience and obeying a leader trying to evade scrutiny — Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, who behaved nobly in Watergate, come to mind. You can add your name to this short, heroic list. Yes, it might cost you your job. But it would save your honor, and so much more besides.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Russ Recommends: Blithe Spirit, 1945


Your Head Trucker can't bear to keep up with the ghastly news out of Washington anymore, and so is declaring a moratorium on current events for the duration.

For anyone who needs the relief of a witty, breezy celestial comedy, try the original film version of Noel Coward's celebrated play, if you can find it.  I just saw it again on TCM last night, and it was delightful as ever, with a young and handsome Rex Harrison as the haunted husband and the inimitable Margaret Rutherford as the other-worldly medium. Original trailer:



A short review from the British Film Institute:




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday Drive: Tchaikovsky, Waltz of the Flowers

These days I feel a need more than ever for pretty pictures, pretty sounds, pretty thoughts. I hope these do the trick for my truckbuddies who may feel the same way.




Saturday, May 6, 2017

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