Two Little Sentences

This post is a departure from my normal writing, and the main purpose of this site.  It is much more personal than normal, but it’s something I need to get off of my chest.

The names of the living have been changed or obfuscated. Most of the dead, too.

Last week, my Uncle Dave died.  I did not attend his funeral.  I have no intention of ever speaking to my aunt again without using the words fuck, bitch or cunt directed towards her. When she dies, I will not attend her funeral, nor will I give my condolences.  When her children ask why I’m such a dick, I’ll tell them how no one from my family or any of my cousin’s familes were invited to the “private ceremony” they had.  Then, I’ll send them the screenshot Dave’s obituary.  The one that Lonely Aunt wrote that left out two of Dave’s siblings.  The obituary that erased my mother from his life.

You read that right.  Lonely Aunt not only denied Dave’s family a chance to say goodbye, but tried to act like none of us existed.

A little bit of backstory…

My mom (Mother) was the second of four siblings, all born in the 1940’s.  She had one older brother (The Widower), and two younger brothers (Dave and Car Guy).  They grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh on a farm until their teenage years, when the farm was purchased by a land developer and turned into suburban sprawl.  The family used the money from the purchase to start several businesses, and the four kids all grew up, got married, and bought houses in this sprawl where they initially raised their families.  At least I think so.

Before I go further, I have to admit something; I never felt like I was truly close to my family, both immediate and extended.  I’m the youngest of my generation, by several years.  From both sides of the family, I’m the only one of the 14 cousins still in their 30’s.  All of the rest of them are in their 40’s or 50’s.  A few of them even have grandkids older than mine.  As I was growing up, there was always a generational gap.  When I was playing with toys in grade school, they were in high school.  When I was in high school, they were getting married and having kids.  When I was getting married, they were getting divorced and their kids were growing up.  It’s taken a while, but that difference is starting to fade away.

That’s one reason.  Another reason was distance.  When I was a small kid, all of the family members lived within a few miles of each other in the same development that rose from the ashes of the family farm.  Everyone was within a few miles of each other.  It was a quick bike ride, walk, or car ride to hang out at with family.  But that didn’t last. As I grew up, the families moved out, but they still stayed in contact with Mother.  All of them, that is, except Dave’s family on both counts.  Not only didn’t they move until later, but they were always… difficult to keep in contact with.

Finally, I always felt out of place, mostly because of my own inadequacies and lack of things in common.  Eventually, that went away with most of my family.

Except Dave’s family.  That weirdness never went away.  After nearly four decades on this planet, I still need reminders as to the names of all of my cousins in that branch, and if it wasn’t for social media, I don’t think I’d be able to pick them out of a lineup.  The last time I saw them was at Mother’s funeral, over a decade ago.

So, back to present day.  Last week, I get a text from my brother (Bro) that Dave died in his sleep.  Over the next couple days, he tells me that he heard this from Car Guy’s daughter (Biker Mom) that Dave had lung cancer for a while. This was a surprise to me, but not completely unexpected.  Dave smoked for the better part of 50 years.  Instead of milk at school, they gave out Pall Mall’s and Camel’s.  Dave quit like 10 or 15 years ago, but the damage was done.  Plus, he wasn’t exactly the model of health.  I never heard of him going on a walk or running a 5k, or anything like that.

The next few days are spent waiting for information on a viewing, ceremony, or anything else like that.  His family moved out to the sticks a long time back, and like I said in Irregular Posts, I’ve got a newborn, so the logistics of making that trip are now much more complicated.  Not only is this a chance to say goodbye to Uncle Dave, but also a chance to reconnect with family, and patch up any problems that existed.  Eventually, on Saturday, Bro tells me through Biker Mom that there is no viewing or funeral.  They’re just going straight to cremation.  It sounds weird to me, but I’m like “Ok.”  Maybe they fell on hard times and couldn’t afford a viewing or funeral.  Plus, Dave was the stereotypical Uncle Dave.  Gruff, emotionally detached, didn’t want to make a fuss, and was just generally miserable about life.  Thinking back, I don’t recall him smiling much.  Not even smirking.

The next night, I get a text from Bro telling me to check out the private obituary section of a certain funeral home.  What I read pissed me off.

In addition to his parents, David was preceded in death by his brother, [The Widower].

David is survived by [Lonely Aunt], children [lists four kids, none of their spouses], grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

At David’s request, al services are private…

I’d like to apologize to those in my presence when I read this for my outburst of language at the time.  Screaming “Fuck him in his dead fucking ass” and “Fuck that miserable fucking cunt with a fucking cactus” is not appropriate language to yell out in front of small children or a breastfeeding mother.

After calming down a little bit, I tried to think of the best reaction.  Should I stalk them on social media and spam them with pics of my mom and them?  Should I harass them at work? Should I order a stripper to show up to the cremation?  Should I park a car in front of Lonely Aunt’s house and play  gangsta rap at 0300 every day for the next few months?

Instead I decided to send flowers.

From the families of [Mother] and [Car Guy], loving siblings of David.

I regret to inform those reading that I did not pull the trigger on this transaction.  I had the credit card in hand, but talked to Bro first, since my action would likely escalate this pettiness into a full-blown feud.  Bro talked me off the ledge.  Instead, I’m writing about it.

I’ve had a week to think about this, and I’m still pissed off.  I’ve spent too much time trying to answer a simple question.

How fucking petty does someone have to be to hold a grudge against a woman who has been dead for 10 years?

The answer, as I’ve come to figure out, is pretty fucking petty.  But as I’ve looked back on everything involving her, she’s pretty fucking petty.

As I found out this past week, I was the only member of the family who didn’t dislike her or flat-out hate her for actions she caused.  And, all of the grudges against Lonely Aunt were because of actions she took.

When I was growing up, Car Guy and Dave hadn’t spoken for years.  I never knew the reasons, and I still don’t, but Lonely Aunt kept the feud going for decades.  It wasn’t until The Widower’s funeral that I saw the two of them in the same room at the same time.

Dave lived less than 2 miles from us when I was growing up, but his family would only come over on special occasions.  Car Guy’s kids visited frequently, and The Widower’s daughters came over at least once a week.

When Dave moved to the sticks, he took his annual 4th of July party with him.  Of course, we didn’t know it was an annual thing until after they moved.  We just weren’t invited to the previous ones.  Apparently my dad said Mother’s food tasted better within earshot of Lonely Aunt and we were persona non-grata at their old house for years.

One year, Widower’s youngest daughter (Trey) was invited to a party, but couldn’t make it at the last minute due to an actual emergency.  Lonely Aunt refused to invite her or her sister to any parties again.  Lonely Aunt said she “didn’t think she’d want to travel the long distance.” Trey lived two streets over.

The last time my dad was invited to one of their parties, he declined as he was busy taking care of Mother, who was suffering from late stage Alzheimer’s.  Lonely Aunt never invited him to anything again.

I can list even more perceived slights and non-politic interactions that Lonely Aunt felt translated into a lifelong vendetta, but fuck it and fuck her. She’s not worth any more time or effort.  She wasn’t worth the 1700-2000 words I’m writing about this.  Her bitchslapping my mother’s memory and shitting over my uncle’s family is definitely worth it.

So, this is the legacy of Uncle Dave and Lonely Aunt.  A miserable man and a petty woman.  I wonder if he was miserable because she was petty.  Then again, I don’t think I need to wonder.

You know what the fucked up thing is?  All of this was because Lonely Aunt omitted two sentences from a private obituary.  Not even two whole sentences, but two sentence fragments.  Simply mentioning Dave’s sister and living brother would have pulled the family together, and we’d be there for them in their time of need.  Instead, this petty shit has pushed us away.  As Bro said, “All this means is I’ll save $1.88 on stamps for Christmas cards.”

Bro and Biker Mom decided to take the high road in all of this.  Recently, my philosophy has been “When they go low, step on their fucking throat.”  With that, to Lonely Aunt, I say Fuck you, you miserable fucking petty cunt.  How dare you show ill will to a woman who did everything she could to fix your petty blow-ups, who bent over backwards to help you with your disabled child by showing you what she went through.  Your food sucked.  The only thing palatable at those parties was the fried chicken you ordered from Giant Eagle.  My children will find out about you when they have to do family trees at school, and when they ask “Did I ever meet my Great Aunt?” I’ll tell them “No, we don’t talk to her.  She was mean to your Grandma and Grandpa.”


That’s it for Lonely Aunt.  If she’s dies tomorrow, inshallah.  I have much more important people to care about and love, and the only purpose she can serve now is as an example of how not to treat others.


I’ll be back next week to my regularly scheduled programming.


Thank you, and have a good one.

Lateral Movement

In the world of business, lateral movements are pretty common. For those new to the term, it's HR speak for taking a new position with new responsibilities and team members, but no promotion or raise is included in the mix. Moving to a new shift in the kitchen, taking on a new software project, or leaving one team to join another that does something similar, those are lateral moves.

Companies love lateral movement because it usually means they get more work out of a known person for the same cost, and it is either a better fit for everyone involved, or it puts an incompetent nincompoop that can't be fired in a place where they can't break anything.

Government agencies like this as well, but usually for the latter reason than the former. Low and mid-level government positions can be difficult to fill, but once in the system, one has to work hard to get fired. It's often times easier to strongly encourage someone to apply for a transfer to some obscure department where they will spend their days filling out status reports about meetings about status reports about meetings about status reports.

But what about government positions requiring a presidential appointment and approval by Congress? Especially in the Cabinet?

Does moving from Cabinet post to another require approval from the Senate? Or does the previous approval count for the old position still count for the new one?

That's the question being asked on twitter today. Here's why…

Trump wants to remove Jeff Sessions from his spot as United States Attorney General because Sessions recused himself from any investigation related to the campaign, which he worked on. This recusal is required by law. Because of this recusal, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein became the go-to person in the DOJ for the Russian Investigation. Then, when Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey to bury the Russian Investigation, Rod activated the Special Counselor rule, and named Robert Mueller III, aka "Bobby Three Sticks" as the Special Counselor in charge.

Only the AG can fire Bobby Three Sticks. And since Jeff "Keebler Nazi" Sessions is recused, that means it's Rod's job, and he's said he's not gonna do it.

That leaves Trump with three moves to fire Bobby, and all of them suck.

The first move is a repeat of history. He could fire Jeff, Rod, and everyone down the line until he gets someone to fire Bobby. Nixon did this on a Saturday night for the exact same reason, to remove a Special Prosecutor. It was called the Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon fired both the AG and Deputy AG until he found Robert Bork, Solicitor General, to do the needful, as the Indians say. Bork was promised the next open chair on the Supreme Court for his part in this. The Saturday Night Massacre basically ended Nixon's presidency, and Bork became the first person to ever have their SCOTUS nomination voted down in the Senate.

The second move is to fire Jeff Sessions during a recess, and appoint his replacement then. The Constitution has a provision in it for the President to make an appointment during a Congressional recess. That appointment would then be approved or not during the next session. This has been anticipated, though. Thanks to a SCOTUS ruling from the 1920's a three day break is not long enough for a recess appointment to take place. Congress will hold a Pro Forma session once every three days, to prevent the recess from becoming official. One member of either house shows up, goes through the motions of having and setting up a session of Congress, sits around for a while, then calls it a day. If this seems petty, it is. Mitch McConnell used this against Barack Obama for a year to prevent him from naming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

The third trick left up to Trump to get Bobby fired is for a lateral movement. Here's the plan…

Trump recently hired John F. Kelly as his new Chief of Staff. He was the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, a Cabinet position. Trump would try to convince Jeff to step down from AG and take over the DHS. Assuming Jeff goes along with this plan, and that's a BIG if, Trump would then name one of his other Cabinet picks, like Rick Perry, as the new AG. He would then have Rick fire Bobby Three Sticks (I'll have more on why he's called that in a future article, but the dude's like Wu-Tang, ain't nothing to fuck with). There's also the chance he fires Jeff outright and names Rick Perry the new AG anyway.

This leads to a Constitutional Crisis, or a scenario that was not explicitly defined in the Constitution, nor has it been decided since.

Does filling a Cabinet opening with a person from another Cabinet position require the consent of Congress, or was that consent already given when that person was approved for their original position?

What if there was a significant change between when the original approval was given, and when the new position opened? Would it be realistic to assume that consent would have been granted?

This is where we're at. We're debating the constitutionality of a Hail-Mary move by the President to end an investigation into his campaign where his own son admitted to meeting with the Russians to gain an edge on his opponent.

But, let's answer the question as best as possible. Does a lateral cabinet movement require approval from the Senate?

To answer that question, let's look at some historical perspective.

Wikipedia link to people that served two or more Cabinet positions.

There are more than a few people that have served in two cabinet positions, but this list also includes cabinet-elevated positions like Chief of Staff which don't require approval from Congress.

So, I had to find someone in two positions, same President, and two positions that required approval, preferably since Watergate.

I found Federico Peña. He served Bill Clinton as Secretary of Transportation then as Secretary of Energy. Here is an article about his nomination for Energy in 1997, and Here for his 1993 nomination. He required Senate approval for both positions.

The most recent example of a person serving two positions is Elaine Chao, the current Transportation Secretary who was also on W's Cabinet. Norman Mineta served 6 months on Bill Clinton's Cabinet, then on W's. For both people, both instances required Senate approval.

The argument that Trump's team will make is that any approval for a Cabinet position is good enough, and that it's not specifically mentioned that each person has to be approved for a specific position. At best, their argument is flawed, and history is not on their side. Every person who was approved for one position had to be approved for the new position they took.

How did we get here?

How did we get here?

How in the hell did we end up, in the Summer of 2017, six months into the presidency of Donald Trump?

How did we get to the point that the FBI are the good guys?

How did we get to the point where main stream media is talking about collusion and treason while the fringe media, the normal home of conspiracy theorists, deny that anything even took place?

How did we go, as a nation, from being the shining city on the hill to being run by a group of wannabe dictators and religious zealots?

How did the Party of Lincoln and Reagan change to the Party of Racists and Fascists?

How did we get to the point where calm political discussion is no longer expected, but viewed as a pleasant surprise?

How did we get to the point where 1/3 of the population doesn't believe in basic facts unless they support their cause, another 1/3 calls that group liars, and the rest are apathetic?

That's what this website is about. None of this is Normal seeks to try to make sense out of the world, and everything that's going on. Politics, propaganda, whatever's going on, and I feel the need to talk about it, I'll talk about it here.

Who's this for? Anyone who wants or needs a sanity check.

We are in some crazy times. None of this is Normal.