Blog

AND BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON WE WEPT: NIGHT TWO OF THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATES

So off we went. Again the evening began with pocketbook issues, which this time were not met with the same sort of discursive quasi-opening statements as the previous night. In other words, they mostly answered the questions they were given, yet another minor miracle in American politics. They all pretty much agreed on this, as they did on health care, though this night said topic, instead of morphing into a discussion of abortion, stayed, roughly, on topic. A show of hands of those who wished to abolish private health insurance got two takers, Sanders and Harris, but everybody raised their hands for covering illegal (or, as Democrats insist on saying, ‘undocumented’) immigrants.

Read More
MY JAW DROPS—IT’S NIGHT ONE OF THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATES

Then came one of the most singular moments of American debate history, when the moderator called for short answers to the question of what is America’s biggest threat, and, amazingly, they all followed instructions, the downside being that, having slept through shorthand class, I can’t tell you what candidates Castro and Ryan said. However, Inslee brought the house down by saying ‘Donald Trump’, Delaney went with China (but ended up babbling on about how it was really Iran), Klobuchar went along with China, as did Booker, but Klobuchar threw in Iran, Booker climate change. De Blasio thought it was Russia, Gabbard nuclear proliferation, and Warren and O’Rourke went with straight climate change, no chaser.

Read More
MEET 5 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Don’t worry about my health or losing sleep.  Despite the affair beginning at my supper hour and continuing on past my bedtime, thanks to the miracle of the digital video recorder, I didn’t lose a minute of sleep; in fact, I may have gained a few minutes when Bernie Sanders started in explaining what he meant by democratic socialism.  So, herewith, my report cards for all five of them, presented in order of appearance, which I’m guessing was a pyramid with the most popular in the polls getting the middle spot and working downhill to my suppertime and bedtime for the less popular.

Read More
OUR WORST PRESIDENT

The chart of presidential greatness was nicely delineated into “Great”, “Near Great”, “Above Average”, “Average”, “Below Average”, and the two “Failures”, Grant and Harding.  As for the greats, in my memory those were FDR, Lincoln, and Jefferson.  Near greats were ones such as Old Hickory, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ike Eisenhower.  I was quite surprised that George Washington not only didn’t make the greats, he didn’t make the near greats, and I believe he had actually slipped down into the average group, I am sure to the chagrin of my elementary teachers.  Finally, about the time I applied for Medicare, I read a book which explained the phenomenon to me, so I’m hip to the jive now, but at the time America’s great myth had not been punctured to me.

Read More
BERNIE SANDERS AND THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

In 1972 one could buy a board game called Who Can Beat Nixon?  I never succumbed to the very real temptation, and I imagine that it might have been a nice investment for sale on eBay these days, but I suppose that each player selected a primary candidate and off you went campaigning.  That the game was thought to have commercial appeal is an indicator of how much Democrats wanted to get rid of Dick Nixon.  There has been something of that level of obsession in the party for succeeding Republican presidents, perhaps excepting Ford and Bush 41, but I think never with quite the urgency that I sense toward The Donald.  And, indeed, the polls, for now, are showing that Democratic voters are valuing electability over ideology.

Read More
I LOVE A PARADE, OR, HOW MANY DEMOCRATS, PART 2

But punditry took this very seriously and reacted with a spate of commentary bewailing that the Democratic Party’s supposed leftward lurch had made it all too difficult for a ‘pragmatic’ Democrat to win the nomination (in case you’ve missed it, the media’s favorite dichotomy this year is ‘Socialists’ vs. ‘Pragmatists’ in the Democratic Party), a subtheme being that the head-in-the-clouds Socialists think, presumably mistakenly, that The Donald is so unpopular, so beatable, that a true progressive can be elected and get to work on a real Left agenda.

Read More
HOW MANY DEMOCRATS IS ENOUGH?

I’m not sure how we even get to two dozen as of now.  Time featured fifteen of them on its cover last week, and even one or two of those weren’t actually Democrats—I’m never sure where to put Michael Bloomberg.  When one got around to the actual article, their fifteen plus everybody else who got even a passing mention didn’t really get us up to two dozen, but perhaps we’ll get a stray state legislator or two eventually.

Read More
HAPPY OLD YEAR’S DAY 2018

Another year over, and what have we done? Yes, 2018 is at an end. We can look back at the past, and forward to the future, and celebrate an arbitrary date chosen to begin a new year – January 1. People will make (and break) resolutions, promise things will be better in the new year, and proceed to do the same things the way they always do them, because the new year isn’t magic. There is no reason to expect things will change, because New Year’s Day is an imaginary day…oh, the day actually exists, but there is no reason to believe things start over that day. It’s really just another day to which we have chosen to add significance.

Read More
The Busies

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon of late (well, okay, that’s if “of late” means “the past 40 years”). Whenever I accomplish something, or do something that someone else admires, they are quick to tell me that they are “too busy” to do anything like that, but they really would if they had the time. The tone in which this is stated is designed to make a person who has just worked their ass off to accomplish something of merit feel like they have been sitting around all their life just trying desperately to fill time while their friend, colleague, or whoever happens to be speaking, has been working to make sure the world keeps running. In fact, I have discerned that the people in this world who accomplish the most are apparently only accomplishing stuff because they never do anything.

Read More
RIGHTS – HOW DO THEY WORK?

At a meeting today, I was listening to a millennial give a speech about important things. Really important things. And he had figured out they were important, which is sort of what he talked about at the beginning of his very important talk. He stated that his generation doesn’t know where rights come from. They just think they were part of the natural process, and that they will always be there. I sat up and took notice. Why? Because that is a phenomenon I have noticed myself. Not just about ordinary rights, either, like speech or religion or not having soldiers quartered in my home (I use that one every day, I tell you. Just yesterday, I had to turn away an army who wanted to camp out in my spare bedroom.) They don’t understand about the specific rights that pertain to them, the amount of work that went into gaining those rights, and the danger to those rights if we are not eternally vigilant. They have no idea that rights were not always there, or that rights could go away.

Read More
I’M NOT POLITICAL

There is a strange phenomenon that I encounter on a regular basis – people want to talk politics! Oh, wait, no, reverse that. I find it strange when people living in a democracy, or more accurately a democratic republic, say “I’m not political”. They clap their hands over their ears if you so much as mention the local school board election; if you get to the level of Senators or Presidents, they will rudely hum, sing, or burp until you stop. They treat you as a pariah, someone weird and out of touch, if you know who is running for the City Council, and if you can name both of your senators, you are regarded as ready for the insane asylum, complete with straight jacket. Don’t even get me started on what they want to do to you if you can name senators from other states.

Read More
Politics, Society6 for 2
THE MYTH OF THE 40-HOUR WEEK

Who the hell thinks it is okay to ask anyone to work 80 hours a week? What happened to the weekend? The evening? Sleeping? Eating? Why is no one questioning the bald statement that faculty are going to be working 80 hours a week without so much as a “say what”? Why is no one stopping to calculate what the hourly rate would be for an 80 hour week at the average professor’s salary and wonder why the highly trained, highly skilled professionals are being expected to work for so little compared to others with a comparable level of education and a similar skill set?

Read More
THE ROCK-Y HORROR SHOW

If you live in my town, which I realize you may not, the next time you go grocery shopping, you should look across the street at the Presbyterian Church and check out what’s up next with their Sermons on Song series.  Apparently the minister has decided the church needs to attract some young blood and is holding forth on rock songs.  So far he’s done “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Show Me the Way”, which means that he’s probably doing a good job of bringing in the younger set—the younger set that is trying to figure out how their Medicare works, that is.  If he’s going decade by decade, as it appears, I’m here to suggest as his topic song for the eighties “Da da da”, and for the nineties, let’s go with “Sex and Candy”, huh?

Read More
THE ANECDOTE

There are a lot of people out there who need a lot of reality training. Take, for instance, this woman my mother met in the grocery store one day who said “What do we need farmers for? I get my food from the grocery store”. Or the women who constantly told my mother she was inferior because she was “just a housewife”. Or the….

Read More
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Does religious freedom mean the freedom to decide what kind of Christian you will be? Some people believe this – that religious freedom applies only to Christians. Others are somewhat magnanimous, extending that freedom to all the religious. Then there are actually those who think, gasp, that religious freedom extends to everyone, including the non-religious, and includes the freedom not to believe. (By the way, this is what the authors of the First Amendment believed, but you won’t find that in Scalia’s “original intent”).

Read More
IS IT LIVE? OR IS IT CELLULOID?

It is common knowledge among theatre professionals that there are fewer good parts for women than for men. This is true not only in Shakespeare, but across the spectrum. Some may not be aware that, like in the movies, this increases with age. Middle aged women scarcely show up at all in stage plays; women seem to disappear between the ages of 35 and 65, when they are once again allowed as the voice of wisdom, someone to be mocked, or the kind and gentle old grandmotherly sort who picks up the slack when the younger woman’s mother (the you-know-what) runs out on her with the first trucker who accidentally slams the cab of his truck into the living room. And she takes the family dog, so everything is bad. That’s the woman we don’t usually see, or hear her side of the story, unless she comes back when she’s older, so that her now 20-something daughter can lambaste her with her awfulness and show the world how strong she is…oh, and reclaim the family dog.

Read More