Alan Millhone writes: 

Dear Chair,

You think we have problems.

Yesterday I took my house guest back to Columbus to catch his flight back to PE, South Africa. There are problems. He lives in the largest and poorest province. No jobs. Little food. Rent the movie KING ME on iTunes or Amazon and if in USA be thankful for what we have. Lubabalo says we have the best food and plenty of it. It was a pleasure having this poor but exceptionally talented Checker player in our home and I roomed with him for a week at our National Tournament.

Depends on who you are on what you can openly say. That is very sad.

My remarks above can be published as anyone deems fit.



Here is Gordan Haave's Story: 

Some time ago my now ex-wife decided that my daughter's sleep away camp should be 11 hours away in Eastern Tennessee. How it got to be that way is a long and convoluted story, sort of like my first marriage. But in any event she has been going there for years now and loves it, and my daughters sheer desire to get me to leave the second I drop her off and her tears upon pickup has me convinced of it's merit as a character building month of her life that is worth the money and hassle. Plus in the many years of drop off and/or return we have developed our own ritual of spending the night at the Hilton in Memphis and walking across the street to Benihana for dinner.

This year was my son's first year for sleep away camp, and of course it was in Eastern Tennessee about 20 miles away from my daughters camp, only they didn't start or end on the same day.

So the end result was my having to drop my daughter off one week and then pick up my son a week later in Tenn. Since it is actually closer to Connecticut than it is to my starting point in Oklahoma I decided to drive on to Connecticut and spend a week with family and friends rather than go back to Oklahoma in between the drop-off and pickup.

One sign that I am getting older is of course that I can't do the drive like I used to. Back in the day I would do the Oklahoma to Connecticut drive with one stop in Indianapolis (half way). Once, when my mother had to go straight into surgery for her cancer I drove it straight through without stopping.

This time on the way out I did Oklahoma City –> Memphis –> Harrisonburg, VA–> to my dad's house in Stamford.

On the way back I did Stamford –> Harrisonburg –> Knoxville –> Memphis –> OKC

The podcast of course is the greatest friend to the long distance driver. This time around I listened to The History of Rome which was once a weekly podcast (but still available) that ran from 2007 to
2012. Here is the wiki page.

I highly recommend it.

It was from this podcast that I fist heard the term Vespasian Sponge.

According to the podcast when Vespasian became emperor he was still dealing with the horrible fiscal mess left by Nero. One of his solutions was to let the tax collectors run rampant. He looked the other way while the tax collectors robbed the citizenry. Then, when they were wealthy, he would become the champion of the people and arrest the tax collectors and seize their ill-gotten gains, which he would of course deposit in the treasury.

As described by Suetonius in "The Twelve Ceasars": "They were, at any rate, nicknamed his sponges — he put them in to soak, only to squeeze them dry later. "

For some time now I (like any regular reader of Washington's blog) have viewed the banks and the government as essentially one and the same, and the two political parties as representing one pro-bank and pro-war party, that then squabbles over meaningless things in order to have us think they are in effect two different parties.

While I still feel the same way about the political parties, the recent fines and criminal inquires against JP Morgan have me wondering if perhaps I was wrong. Instead of the banks owning the government (or being one and the same) that in fact the banks are simply Vespasian Sponge's.

Having bankrupted the country in all manners of spending (particularly raining bombs down on people on the other side of the world) the politicians figured that it was easier to let the banks steal from the population, (and then to squeeze the money out of them) then it was to just take the money directly from taxpayers.

In any event, on a website with a wonderful history of nicknames for certain business figures, I propose that we start referring to certain eminent flexions and bank pres's as "The Sponge".


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