Father’s Day in Mr. Mueller’s Garden

Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller, III, visits the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Oct. 6.Former Director of the FBI Robert S. Mueller III visits the US Military Academy at West Point on October 6, 2017. (Photo: West Point — The US Military Academy / Flickr)

I will be spending this Father’s Day wrist-deep in dirt, because my little daughter is now a farmer of sorts. The nation, and indeed the world, are watching a different kind of crop grow in Washington, DC. Mr. Mueller is not screwing around, and the yield from the garden he’s growing could be substantial in the fullness of time.

Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller, III, visits the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Oct. 6.Former Director of the FBI Robert S. Mueller III visits the US Military Academy at West Point on October 6, 2017. (Photo: West Point — The US Military Academy / Flickr)

I will likely be spending this Father’s Day wrist-deep in dirt, because my daughter is now a farmer of sorts. Her preschool class started growing lima beans in little Dixie cups, and when they sprouted, she was allowed to take her three plants home. We transplanted them into one of the Earth Boxes we have on the back deck, right next to the lettuce, onions, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, herbs and cherry tomatoes. She helped plant them all, wearing my farmer’s hat like a restaurant tray on her head.

She says the same thing every evening after school: “Daddy, let’s watch my beans grow!” And so out we go to stand over her imperceptibly growing lima beans as the setting sun lights the western tree line on fire. After, we inspect everything else for signs of progress. There is always some; this looks to be a potent growing season again. She is tremendously excited by the whole process. Me? I’m the only person on the Eastern seaboard who actually likes lima beans as far as I know, so it’s win-win all around.

She hasn’t had a chance to work the big garden out in the yard yet, but the day is coming. Out there are the big beefsteak tomato plants, the pepper plants, the cucumbers, zucchini and squash plants, along with more beans and some snap peas for good measure. It’s a budget of work getting all that squared away, digging all the holes and doing the planting, staking and tying up the tomatoes so they don’t droop, watering everything without drowning it all, watching for slugs and other marauders, and all under a hot summer sun. It’s not breaking rocks in a gravel mine, but my back tells me about it whenever I finish a task. That, too, is a good feeling.

Getting my daughter involved with our annual gardening may prove, in time, to be among the more fateful and important decisions we’ve made regarding her upbringing. The lessons she is learning are so elemental, yet so vital. When we started, she thought her beans would fly out of the box in a few minutes. Having to wait and watch, she is learning the value of patience. She is learning you don’t eat if you don’t lend yourself to the labors. She is learning that it is not only acceptable, but mandatory, to get good and dirty every now and again. When she smells the soil on her hands, she smiles a secret smile. I don’t ask her about it; that smile and the feelings behind it are her treasure alone.

The juxtaposition between my garden and my work as a political observer is cracking me up these days, especially in regard to the ongoing Russia investigation. I sat through former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony like everyone else and came away thinking it was a big nothingburger: No major revelations. Nothing spectacular beyond someone finally calling Trump a liar in an official capacity. All the really important questions left unanswered.

As it turns out, I needed to re-learn the first rule of gardening — patience — because the nation, and indeed the world, are watching a different kind of crop grow in Washington, DC, and the yield could be substantial in the fullness of time.

Remember these names: Aaron Zebley, James Quarles, Jeannie Rhee, Andrew Weissman, Michael Dreeben and Lisa Page, the latter of whom enjoys world-class experience in running down money launderers. These are the people special counsel Robert Mueller has tapped to join his team investigating any and all Russia connections to Trump, his staff and his presidential campaign. While they are not yet household names nationally, they are the varsity when it comes to the law, and everyone in DC knows it.

In short, Mr. Mueller is not screwing around. That became abundantly clear on Tuesday afternoon when The Washington Post dropped another brick: Mueller is, in fact, investigating Trump for possible criminal obstruction of justice. This inspired the predictable Twitter tirade from the president, but 24 hours later had kicked loose yet another interesting tidbit: Vice President Mike Pence has retained his own outside counsel to deal with all the Russia inquiries that are now popping off like a string of firecrackers (the Senate Judiciary Committee recently joined the party by opening an investigation into the Comey firing). A smart move, as Pence was in charge of the transition team that let all of Trump’s tainted brigands pass the gates in the first place.

Trump’s lawyer has even hired a lawyer. Beat that with a stick.

There are a lot of balls in the air right now, and this is a massive investigation spanning multiple jurisdictions and crossing international borders. The issues at hand involve politics, technology, who talked to whom, who is willing to flip for a deal, and of course, following the money (paging Lisa Page). It will not be over in a week, or a month, or a year. Even if it were, nothing would come of it, because the current GOP-controlled House of Representatives would sooner leap from the Capitol dome wearing wax wings than impeach a sitting Republican president, no matter how egregious his crimes.

My feelings about Donald Trump are no secret: He and his cadre are a menace, and they need to go … and if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs. I’m going to buy a 2018 calendar and look at it once a day, because I believe that is the year in which we will learn many new things about electoral politics and political corruption at the highest levels of government. 2018 is when the Augean stables get cleaned out. If I were in Vegas, that’s where I’d place my chips.

It’s a long time until then, and a lot can happen for good or ill. So I will help my daughter tend our garden, and watch as it and she grow together. I will do it again next year in the same fashion. I will watch her learn the lessons of patience, work and the need to get dirty from time to time. I will try to remember those lessons myself. Most of all, I will hope Mr. Mueller has taken all three of them very closely to heart.

Happy Father’s Day. Let your garden grow.


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