Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Friday, January 31, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Creeping Meachamism

As soon as I read this headline, I was going to offer a rebuttal, but TPM pretty much took care of the big points.

I would add that both Lincoln and FDR enjoyed legislative majorities.  Lincoln was somewhat hampered in 1861 by the lack of Congress being in session, so he resorted to some extra-legal means to cement Maryland to the Union.

Given the way the House functions (or doesn't function) that seems roughly analogous.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


We have wondered - here in our frozen wasteland - whether the GOP will ever be truly competitive in New England any time soon.

Since the GOP positions on just about every social issue, most economic issues and most foreign policy issues fails to resonate with anywhere close to the majority in these parts, we are left to wonder what their outreach will be.

I guess they are going for "Thuggishness" since it elected Chris Christie.  Judging from the above exchange - and for that matter the entire campaigns of Carl Paladino and Joe Lhota - the only way a Republican can run in proximity to the Hudson River is to behave like a schoolyard bully.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thank God And His Magic Underwear That THIS Schmuck Isn't President

Mitt "Mitt" Romney is still upset that unpleasant plebian woman fact checked him during the debate.  Because how DARE facts play a role in modern presidential politics!

Ladies and gentlemen, the true standard bearer of American Conservatism!

Now THAT's What Twitter Was Invented For

Just click through...

SOTU Preview

It's really distressing to hear pundits weighing in on the President's State of the Union speech before it has happened.  First, because... it hasn't happened yet.  They are responding to leaks, dribs and drabs that are selected specifically for being used to spin.

There is the usual caterwauling on the Left for impossible programs, but even regular editorial pages are saying the President should "go big" on unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, food stamps and gun control.

The abject ignorance of the understanding of governmental institutions and the realities of the modern GOP is stunning.

Obama has and will continue to do what he can through executive actions.  He's actually doing a fair amount on pollution through regulatory changes.  But the big ticket items mentioned above are simply not going to pass a GOP House.

I get that some progressives want him to make this a condemnation of the GOP, but there is some evidence he might do just that.  However, it is the State of the Union.  It's not a campaign speech.

But of course, it is a campaign speech.  Washington dysfunction is only likely to increase as we approach the 2014 midterms.  And so, my guess is Obama will talk at some length about the intransigence of a House GOP that refuses to even vote on issues that have supermajority support,

But the important thing is to pre-judge the speech, because pundits are never held accountable for being wrong.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The South Is DIfferent, Episode 183,953

It's a decent write up.  But the South's racial history has also led it to reject unions, income redistribution and social services.

FDR said the South was the nation's number one economic problem.  Not much has changed.  But certainly the politics of the South is the number one problem in addressing our economic problems.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Your Week In The Wingnutosphere


Let's see...

The RNC has changed its nominating process in order to sideline the Herman Cains, the Michelle Bachmans and the Mitt Romneys... oops, no, apparently they want MORE Mitt Romneys.  Because this is designed to help the Big Money Establishment candidate.

Meanwhile, one of the previous Big Money Establishment candidates, a certain John McCain has been censured by the Arizona GOP, for being insufficiently conservative.  McCain's sins are three fold.  First, he has embraced the common sense, necessary immigration reform that George Bush wanted to pass and that is essential to any GOP plan to eat away at the growing demographic gap.  Second, he has relented to the realities of the ACA - it's passed, it's law - and perhaps even acquiesced in Jan Brewer's acceptance of Medicaid expansion.

The third and unstated objection is that John McCain is a national Republican, not an Arizona Republican.  He's the senior Senator from Meet the Press.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee said... something about lady parts.  And when a middle aged GOP man starts talking about lady parts, pull up a chair.  Apparently, Huckabee equates the ACA contraception provision - which is designed to give women more control over their reproductive choices and hopefully lead to fewer abortions - with a Democratic view of women as only being libidos contained in uteri with feet.  In other words, he creates a straw man so bizarre and off putting that it almost has to be a Freudian slip (as Kathleen Parker suggests).

The midterm elections in 2014 could be rough for the Democrats.  The House remains gerrymandered.  The Senate has many more Democratic incumbents on the ballot, including some very vulnerable open seats in South Dakota and Montana.

The RNC wants to make sure there are no more Todd Akins winning Senate primaries or Michelle Bachman winning straw polls.

But while "savvy" Republicans in DC - like John McCain - may understand that Republicans have to reach out to women and Hispanics, the rest of the GOP remains committed to repressing minority votes and telling women what to do with their naughty bits.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Most Important Story No One Is Paying Attention To

Last week it was the fact that West Virginia's capital was polluted beyond description by the unironically named Freedom Enterprises.

This week, we have the events in Ukraine.

Ukraine sits between Russia and the Eastern European countries of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.  Poland and Hungary have done a pretty good job at integrating with the EU (Slovakia is a work in progress).  When the Wall came down in '89, the countries of the former Warsaw Pact turned their orientation from Moscow towards Brussels and the EU, even NATO.

Russia was faced with the same question, and under Yeltsin seemed to want an orientation with the West.  But Putin has rejected this and re-oriented Russia towards Eurasia.

Ukraine is basically the fault line between the Euro-centric and the Russo-philic.  The western part of the country wants to integrate with Europe, the eastern part and the leadership are cowed and co-opted by the Russian Bear.

Ukraine sits in the balance.  If it tilts westward, it is a rebuke to Putin.  If it tilts eastward, it likely becomes more authoritarian, along the lines of its northern neighbor Belarus.

Luckily, they have the cover of the Sochi games to keep Putin somewhat under control.  But if they haven't solved their problems before the Closing Ceremonies, I fear Russia will not sit on the sidelines indefinitely, as it loses another satellite state to the idea of democracy.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hopefully My Only Post On Bieber

There is a piece at the Times that suggests that if Bieber were Hispanic, he'd have been deported by now.

Let's all take a moment to say, "Duh".

But I'm not sure it's as much about race as class.  If Shakira had been up to such hijinks, I don't think she would be deported either.

I realize that Rosenthal is making a point - and a good one - about deportation, but I think we really need to think about and understand the fact that the Rule of Law - everyone is equal before the law, including the state and the rich - is currently imperiled.

There are one set of rules for the rich and famous, and another set of rules for everyone else.

Or maybe Bob McConnell will actually see the inside of a jail cell.  Not holding my breath.

What Could It All Mean?

Apparently the Crazy is receding a bit.

On the one hand, it would be nice to run against a few more Christine O'Donnells, Sharon Angles and Joe Millers.

On the other, if it breaks the fever grip that the Tea Party has on the GOP and therefore American politics, so much the better.

So basically, I'm conflicted as a Democrat and an American.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paranoid Libertarianism

Sean Wilentz has written a fairly well-researched piece on the Snowden-Greenwald-Assange triumvirate.  He explores their political beliefs, especially prior to their becoming celebrated leakers.

While some have lambasted Wilentz for equating the national security state with the liberal idea of the state today, I think he touches on a major problem I have with the S-G-A troika.  They have displayed and continue to display a shocking political naivete.

Leaving Assange aside for a moment, both Snowden and Greenwald have carried on long and heavy flirtations with the Paulistas.  Snowden seemed to be a Second Amendment Fundamentalist and Greenwald allied himself with the Cato Institute and Ron Paul's presidential runs.

As I've written before, the problem is that there is simply no reform of the NSA that is acceptable for Greenwald.  He is opposed to the NSA on principle.  Snowden was once an ardent supporter of the security state, up until he wasn't.  Wilentz writes:

They have held, at one time or another, a crazy-quilt assortment of views, some of them blatantly contradictory. But from an incoherent swirl of ideas, a common outlook emerges. The outlook is neither a clear-cut doctrine nor a philosophy, but something closer to a political impulse that might be described, to borrow from the historian Richard Hofstadter, as paranoid libertarianism. Where liberals, let alone right-wingers, have portrayed the leakers as truth-telling comrades intent on protecting the state and the Constitution from authoritarian malefactors, that’s hardly their goal. In fact, the leakers despise the modern liberal state, and they want to wound it.

Wilentz's research suggests that Snowden was much more politically antagonistic to Obama than his public comments suggest.  He opposed Obama's (non-existent at the time) plan to ban assault weapons, the stimulus and Social Security in general.  He favored a return to the gold standard.  In short, Wilentz describes - accurately, I think - Snowden as a politically naive, Paulista of the standard right wing libertarian sort.

Greenwald comes across as we already know him.  He is an aggressive advocate for his positions, just as he was for his clients when he practice law.  He sees his debate opponents not only as wrong on the merits, but as allied with the forces of darkness.  As a lawyer he gravitated towards defending the civil rights of extreme groups like the World Church of the Creator and the National Alliance.  As a blogger, he began to stake out his territory as a "pox on both your houses" libertarian, trying to unite the pothead left with the gun toting right.  Like Snowden, Greenwald allied himself with Ron Paul in 2008.

(Ron Paul is best understood the way Charlie Pierce describes him: as Crazy Uncle Liberty.  Pierce notes that Paul makes sense for about five minutes and then, inevitably, he starts saying some crazy shit.  What is disturbing about people like Greenwald and Snowden is how they simply don't seem to hear or mind the crazy shit.  The gold standard?  C'mon, man!)

What Snowden and Greenwald have is a single, monomaniacal obsession with the intelligence community that leads them into political relationships with reactionary extremists like Ron Paul.  Paul and his son, Rand, do make sense on some issues.  But like the stopped clock, they are dangerously out of synch most of the time.  This inability to see anything beyond their obsession with the NSA to me makes them the most unreliable of narrators.

Wilentz again:
The leakers and their supporters, however, see things very differently. To them, national security is not a branch of the government; it is the government, or it is tantamount to being the government: a sinister, power-mad authority. As Greenwald has argued: “The objective of the NSA and the U.S. government is nothing less than destroying all remnants of privacy. They want to make sure that every single time human beings interact with one another, things that we say to one another, things we do with one another, places we go, the behavior in which we engage, that they know about it.” It is impossible, therefore, to reform this clandestine Leviathan from the inside. And so the leakers are aiming at de-legitimating and, if possible, destroying something much larger than a set of NSA programs. They have unleashed a torrent of classified information with the clear intent of showing that the federal government has spun out of control, thereby destroying the public’s faith in their government’s capacity to spy aggressively on our enemies while also protecting the privacy of its citizens. They want to spin the meaning of the documents they have released to confirm their animating belief that the United States is an imperial power, drunk on its hegemonic ambitions.

I think this position has found real resonance on the Left, because many Leftists are incredibly uncomfortable with the existence, much the less the exercise, of political power.

But that manages to overlook the impulse Greenwald has to overhype his case and to see things in absolutist terms.  Wilentz cites the revelations about the xKeyscore program that Snowden claimed would allow him to read everyone's emails.  But the actual leaked documents don't support that interpretation.  Greenwald has claimed there are other documents that DO support that claim, but they have not been released.  Ironically, one source for showing that the NSA has been snooping too much on American citizens is the NSA internal audit, which has suggested that the NSA is at least taking some measures to police itself.

Like Wilentz, I agree that Snowden and Greenwald have exposed some troubling issues with data collection. But I also think that the most troubling revelations have been less about what is in the documents than what the documents suggest about the processes that the NSA uses to determine what it should be collecting.  The NSA needs reforms to make sure that it acts responsibly towards American's privacy rights.

But, like their avatar Ron Paul, Snowden and Greenwald have succumbed to the stopped clock phenomenon.  And what is right about their positions should not obscure what is wrong.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


This is probably the best thing I've read on MLK in a while.


Ezra Klein is leaving and Marc Thiessen and Jen Rubin are staying.

To Be A Man

Another interesting cultural essay by Stephen Marche.  This one deals with the current cultural craze that has men embracing caricatures of manhood, because they feel their manhood is threatened.

Yesterday, during the MLK Cultural Festivity, a young African American woman read a poem noting that whites better be careful about treating minorities as "minorities" since in their lifetimes, they will become a minority, too.  The overwhelmingly white, privileged kids reacted defensively in the conversations I overheard.

The thing is, reacting like that is a sign of weakness.  When you react to what you perceive is the "War on Men" on Fox News as being already lost and men are about to be legislated out of relevance, then you react with a combination of whining and over-reaction.

But if you know who you are as a man (or a woman, frankly), then you don't react to every perceived slight.  I think I know who I am - warts and all - and I am fairly confident in my manhood.

I have defined being a man as putting my strength at the service of others.  That's how I define it for myself and my sons.  Men have strengths - perhaps physical, perhaps mental, perhaps moral - and those strengths must be used for others.  A boy might use their strength for personal advancement, but a man realizes that he advances as his family, friends and community advances.  So he uses his strength to carry sticky toddlers on piggy back rides or builds another piece of crappy Ikea furniture for the romper room.  He volunteers to coach youth soccer or sit on the Board of Ed.  When he sees a friend stuck by the side of the road, he offers a push or a lift.

But if you don't have confidence in your manhood, then you don't have the confidence to serve.

Where I do think we are falling short for boys these days - and why I think we have an over-reaction towards what Marche calls campy manhood - is that we have drained some of the kineticism of youth from boys lives.  We don't want fights, because that simply teaches the large and strong to prey on the small and weak, and teaches the small and weak to cower and hide.  But at the same time, every boy needs to get punched in the face at least once (preferably more), to know that your life won't end.  That blow should not come with a psychological cost though, so you're stuck in a tough spot.

Boys instinctively need to prove their toughness.  Toughness is one of the measures of a man, but it can be in the toughness of the guy who absorbs verbal blows from an asshole boss in order to keep his job so his family can eat.  That sort of toughness doesn't come across on reality TV.  Walter White isn't "tough" as an Aztek driving chemistry teacher, but he's absorbing blows in order to provide for his family.  Yet once he gets a taste of being Heisenberg, he's ready for another, more juvenile form of toughness.

I do think we are in a form of manhood crisis, but it's not caused by women or feminism.  It's caused by the fact that we are not allowing boys to define their toughness in a way that is appropriate for them.  And so they overreact and drive Hummers and get military style haircuts and talk about "bitches and 'hos".  This ersatz toughness is a mask.

I don't know what the answer is, because a lot of this I made up as I was writing it.  But we need to let boys find their strength and their toughness.  Maybe it's in karate class or the hockey rink.  Maybe it's in the library or programming for hours on end.  Maybe it's in kindness and patience.  Each boy and each man will be different.  John Wayne toughness is its own mask, its own form of lie, unless you're John Wayne.  Bill Gates and Pope Francis are tough and strong, too.  When Francis wanders the streets of Rome at night tending to the homeless, what could be tougher or stronger for him?

If we do this right, we can offer a better world for men.  Because the "macho" world that beats on the weakling, sneers at homosexuals and finds thrills in driving drunk and power in beating wives and girlfriends is not a manly world, it is a "manly" world, a cheap imitation of strength and toughness.  The goal of men should be to help boys find their own strength, their own steel.  Not someone else's ideal of what that should be.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why I Hate The Deficit Scolds

Pretty much spot on...

This Seems Like Kind Of A Big Deal

I guess if he really felt that way, he could ask the FDA to re-schedule marijuana as a Schedule III drug, instead of a Schedule I drug.

Schedule III drugs are less likely to be abused, has a medical use and does not cause physiological dependence.

Currently, marijuana, as a Schedule I drug, is considered to have a high potential for abuse, has no medical use and is considered addictive.

Now, I'm neither a pothead nor a staunch advocate for legalization.  But it seems to me that marijuana is a clear cut Schedule III drug, and it sounds like Obama agrees. (For the record, other Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, lysergic acid, ketamine and many barbiturates.)

Moving marijuana to Schedule III would bring federal law into conjunction with many, many states that have legalized medical marijuana.  It would also begin to address the problems in sentencing that afflict poor and minority pot smokers who wind up in jail because "reefer madness".

Not to mention, I think it's a smart political move, because it will drive the GOP absolutely insane and they will pitch a fit.  In pitching said fit, it will continue to drive younger voters to the Democratic party and completely deny Rand Paul of one of his two wedge issues (the other being the NSA) that might draw off some younger voters.  In fact, re-scheduling marijuana will likely cause Paul to have to call for its rescheduling as Schedule III.

Thanks, Obama!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An Argument I Hadn't Thought Of Before

Booman makes the point that the GOP standard bearers' embrace of falsehoods and crackpots has damaged the country, because partisanship is so high, that half the country will immediately join in whatever the political leaders are saying.

The nut:

The man told too many lies. Maybe some of you know how many Steve Benen ultimately documented. By late-August 2012, it was up to 533. It was just incredible how frequently and shamelessly Mitt Romney made outright false assertions. And I think forcing nearly half the country to defend that kind of behavior has a crippling effect on the moral character of America. It's very similar to the way the GOP's standards were permanently damaged the moment that they had to defend Sarah Palin as an acceptable potential president. Suddenly, it was not just acceptable, but virtuous, to be ignorant about foreign affairs. Reading the papers became something only snobs do.

By Any Means Necessary

I get the point that these shows "shame" teenage moms.

But frankly, being a teen parent - especially a teen single mom - is pretty much to throw shackles around your future.  It disadvantages the parent and disadvantages the child.

Shame is a tricky word.  Shame suggests that there are certain things one shouldn't do, and that transgressing those societal boundaries brings some emotional trauma.

But being a teen parents involves emotional trauma, too.

And it involves trauma to the child.

So maybe a soupcon of shame isn't bad (if that is in fact what MTV is doing) if it prevents something worse.

Shaming people out of bringing guns to the movie theater wouldn't raise eyebrows on the Left, why should this?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Red State Blues

There were a lot of mistakes made in the creation of ACA.  But it appears that the biggest was assuming that governors of Red states would embrace the economic self-interest of making Obamacare work.  The assumption was that they would take advantage of the generous Medicaid expansion and the ability to tailor their exchanges to their state needs.

Instead, what happened was ideological opposition based on visceral hatred of both Obama and the idea of the government providing services for (mostly) poor people.

The only proper response to this is to win supermajorities in Congress, win the White House and introduce a universal, tax subsidized public option that can slowly squeeze private insurers out of the market completely.

That would  be hilarious.

This Is Not The Fork You Are Looking For

But it is stuck in you, nonetheless, Governor.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Nice Parenting Moment

Thing Two was very tired yesterday and got upset by playground nonsense.  It led to the "Nobody like me lament" that is patently absurd.  Thing Two is one of the most likable kids I've ever met.

Most Radiant Wife and Patient Mother talked him down, but he was still kind of blue when we drove to soccer.

So I told there was something that he needed to hear.

This is not Thing Two, but the sentiment is good.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Excellent Point

Ana Marie Cox writes a very thoughtful piece about how the media is ignoring the biggest scandal of the moment.  Yes, "Bridgegate" ("-gate"?  Motherf....) is compelling because Christie is compelling and New York is the center of the universe.

But as Cox points out, what just happened in West Virginia really WILL likely result in deaths.  People will lose their businesses.

Our default on environmental stories is that they "just happen".  But of course, they don't "just happen".  Freedom Industries... no, really, the company that spilled toxins all over the water system of West Virginia is called Freedom Industries... works in a climate that says, "If you want to have jobs, don't regulate us."

This incentivizes the movement of risky things like chemical storage to places like West Virginia.

Now, West By God Virginia is a unique place politically.  It is about as inhospitable an electoral landscape for Obama as is possible - rural, white, older, less educated - but they have elected Democrats to office before.  But every Democrat elected has to kow-tow before Coal.

If this situation gets worse, one has to wonder what this will do to West Virginia's understanding of its relationship to the industries, that - frankly - have exploited their state for over a century.Whatever animus West Virginians may have towards Al Gore and Barack Obama would have to be balanced by animus about having their rivers poisoned.

We will likely see Natalie Tennant face off against Shelly Moore Capito for Rockefeller's Senate seat this fall.  One would think that this is a time to go on the offensive over efforts to leave the citizens of West Virginia helpless before the agenda of de-regulation that is the modern GOP.

It might not work, but it would seem a no-brainer to me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Christie's Upside

Kathleen Parker has always been one of the last "reasonable Republicans".  She understands reality when it stares her in the face.

So her column about Christie is interesting.

First, there is the Republican Ridiculousness:

Even so, many Republicans in the Matalin camp see this as much ado about little, especially compared to, for instance, President Obama’s repeated falsehoods about people keeping the health insurance they like under the Affordable Care Act. Democrats see this as the inevitable ruin of a bully run amok.

Riiiiiight.  Confusing and confused statements about complex policy is the same as willful political thuggery.  This gibes nicely with Jon Chait's analysis that as Obamacare starts to work, it will no longer be about websites and funding but a "scandal" like Benghazi and the IRS that exists nowhere but within the partisan echo-sphere of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

Then she make a point about his future.

Christie was always a dark horse in 2016 in my mind.  There was Superstorm Sandy and his embrace of Obama (which now looks more like Christie being pissed that Romney snubbed him for Veep).  There was his bellicose style that won't play so well in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Obviously, this is a national story because Christie is a national figure.  He is the Great Also White Hope of Green Room Mafia.  He is a great media figure because he's quotable and flamboyant.  The media are also from the Acela Corridor and his style doesn't rub them the wrong way.

Christie has not fought the fights that he will lose in New Jersey.  This makes him heterodox within the GOP.  He opposes same sex marriage, but he's not going to the mattresses over that issue.  This works in New Jersey and among the Wall Street Republicans.

But it won't work among the Teahadists.

But being a Media Martyr suddenly makes him MORE appealing to the GOP electorate.  If there is anything the Teahadists hate more than Democrats, it's the media.

It still remains to be seen whether there will be more shoes to drop.  My guess (and the guess of many others) is that there will be.

But if he somehow survives this, he can play the media victim.  I don't know if that's enough, but it is something.

It is an interesting 2016 field on both sides.  Like in 2008, the Democrats will fall along the lines of Hillary and Not Hillary.  My early guess is Not Hillary will be Brian Schweitzer of Montana.

The Republicans are similar to 2012.  They will have a bunch of bodies, but little affection for any of them.  Christie is a belligerent, scandal tainted RINO.  Scott Walker has the charisma of a lawn ornament.  Jeb Bush has an unfortunate last name.  Marco Rubio is too dusky and flirted with letting similarly dusky hued people stay in this country.

Hey, there's always Rick Santorum....

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Connecticut can't watch the Patriots, because the cable company and CBS affiliate can't agree on fees.

I have an extra pitchfork if someone can rustle up some torches.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Christie Agonistes

Whenever we have a political story ripe for satire and righteous indignation, it is good that we have Charlie Pierce around.

And needless to say, Jon Stewart.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not A Bad Day

Sometimes a day comes along that you dread (for me pretty much every Thursday) and then it happens, and it's much better than you hope for.

When I was 7, I wanted to be a President or a baseball player.

At 47, I just want days like today.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

True Story

I was at home with my dad over vacation and he said, "This Chris Christie bridge story is a huge nothing."

I replied that maybe, but the rumors are that there are a bunch of things like the bridge in Christie's career.  He's vindictive.  He's a bully.  That's why he appeals to a large segment of the Jersey electorate.

So anyway, I guess that bridge story turned out to be a something after all...

UPDATE:  It already has a Meme.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Too Hard

I just returned from a memorial service for a remarkable young woman, an 11th grader at our school.  As is typical for me, I knew the girl, I knew the name, but I didn't have the two firmly bound in my mind.  I neither taught nor coached her, so she was like many other students who come through our school.

So, at first, I was weeping in the abstract, and I was weeping.  Here we - as a community - were confronted with the worst possible news: the death of a child.  If she had been ordinary, even somewhat anonymous, it still would have been crushingly sad.  She was not.  She was extraordinary.  To be a teacher is to believe in growth and possibility.  We are, by nature, optimists, dedicating ourselves to the spring of young people's lives so that they may reap a full autumn harvest.  We live over our student's horizons.  And Zoe will not cross any more horizons.  And that is devastating.

At the end, after some tearful remembrances, they ran a slide show.  And it was the combination of pictures that reminded me of the specific person that we lost.  I did know her, though not well.  She was luminous.

To some degree, I hold students at some distance.  I do it, because every year they leave.  We stay and they move on.  If I remain aloof, it's because graduation can hurt too much if I don't.  I am a rank sentimentalist.  Every May, I have to strap on my armor.

I am lucky, because young people like Zoe are a part of my life, even if she herself wasn't.  It is a privilege to nudge and guide them towards honorable adulthood, and a tragedy when their time is cut short.  Far too short.

Afterwards, I came home and hugged Thing One, who was home because once more his round peg could not fit into a square hole.  He is a damaged and flawed and wounded child in some ways.  But he is also full of love and moments of great kindness and joy.  I heaved with some sobs as I hugged him, and he asked what was wrong.  How can I explain?  Grief in the specific?  Grief in the abstract?  My fears for him?

I suppose in the end, there is only the embrace that I can offer him.  It isn't a cloak or a shield.  Love doesn't protect the worthy or unworthy.  The world isn't "fair".

All we can do is hold on to each other.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dick Dynasty

Stole the title from Tbogg...

So, Liz Cheney barely had time to forge her fishing license before she drops out of the Senate race.

Apparently her daughter has diabetes.  That is obviously a burden, and I hope she comes to manage her condition well.

But I also know that she will have long term health insurance that she can't be denied because of pre-existing conditions, like, well, diabetes.

And her mom has been working tirelessly to deny that to other people.

Bless her heart...


From the article:

"The people of Utah have rights, too, not just the homosexuals. The homosexuals are shoving their agenda down our throats," Former Graham County, Ariz., Sheriff Richard Mack said at the meeting.

That's not an agenda, dude....

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Tea Party Anthem

Bonus points for Les Miz....

American Exceptionalism

Read that.  That is the GOP base in a nutshell.  An old white dude railing against Washington, DC as he sits in a Medicaid clinic and lives off government assistance.

Dig down a millimeter below the surface and there sits race ("illegal immigrants from Mexico and Africa").

Basically, the GOP position on Obamacare is premised on falsehoods and racial animus.  While there are obviously adjustment problems from millions of Americans, there are also millions of Americans like Terry Rupe who are going to benefit from Obamacare in the long run.

And twenty years from now, Jenna Bush will be running for President on how Obamacare was originally a Republican idea....

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

American Hustle

Tremendous acting and writing.  Perhaps a little over-directed, but that might have been a stylistic choice.  Probably fifteen minutes longer than it needed to be.

But Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were absolutely fantastic.

Still, every movie set in the '70s makes me feel like I need a shower.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014