Catching the Big One 


There are many life lessons one can take from fly-fishing. I spent last week on vacation in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania relearning many of them. It's an ancient, historic pastime, more about deception than anything else. Well, deception and tying and untying lots of tiny knots while squinting through your glasses, as you try to determine what wary trout living in crystal clear waters in a small stream will deign to suck into their mouths. The short answer is "not much."

Sure, one could put a big juicy worm on a hook and probably catch trout all day, but that's for "meat fishermen," and bait-fishing isn't allowed on this little piece of pristine water.

One lesson you quickly learn is that smaller is better. We were often fishing with flies so little you could put three on a dime. The fish are too smart and too wary to take a big, feathery fly, but they'll occasionally suck in a tiny midge with a barbless hook. Then the battle is on, to try to bring them to the net without breaking the gracile tippet — near-invisible line the diameter of a spider web. The reward lies in the fooling and the catching and the release.

We were without cell phone connection, and so, for four blissful days, we were spared news of President Trump and Russia and presidential tweets and Congressional hearings and all such modern madness. On the plane ride back to Memphis, I read about Stephen Colbert's insult-filled riff against Trump and the subsequent announcement by the head of the FCC that his agency would "review complaints" against Colbert's monologue for possible "obscenity" violations.


May I introduce you to Alex Jones? Or Michelle Malkin? Or Ann Coulter? Or Ted Nugent? The stuff they and other stallions of the right have said about former President Obama make Colbert's bleeped-out remarks pale in comparison.

Do I think our TV-obsessed president might have made a call to his FCC chairman? Yes, I think that's quite possible. It would fit Trump's pattern of using cheap intimidation tactics, as he did in a tweet about former acting Attorney General Sally Yates prior to her testimony before the Senate on Monday. Attempted witness intimidation by the president? Sure, no problem. It's the new normal. But it didn't work.

Yates deftly and resolutely held her ground, refusing to let GOP senators divert the issue from her testimony about warning administration officials about former NSA head Michael Flynn's collusion. Likewise, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was unflappable, and clearly in possession of still-classified information that should terrify any Republican who was involved in communications with Russian operatives. And there are many who were.

Among those appearing terrified was the president himself, who changed the header photo on his Twitter account to read: "Director Clapper reiterated what everybody including the fake media already knows — there is 'no evidence' of collusion w/Russia and Trump."

Very presidential! Because nothing says "I'm innocent!" better than a full-color, Photoshopped lie about testimony that was nationally televised.

Monday's Senate hearing was the first solid indication in weeks that the Russia connection is not going away, that the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies have much more to reveal: transcripts of phone calls, meeting and travel records, intercepted emails, intel from European allies, etc.

Now, the battle is on to try to bring those who've committed possible treason against this country to justice. And as with fly-fishing, patience is everything, and the reward lies in the fooling and the catching.

I think a big one is eventually going to get brought to the net.

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