Sunday, August 30, 2009
As I packed my bag for a visit, I was listening to the radio. A song that had been popular that summer, "Way Down Now," by World Party, was playing and I was absent-mindedly singing along:
Won't you show me something true today
C'mon and show me anything but this
I didn't know the half of it.
August of 1990 had already been a very eventful month. Jill and I had been edging ever closer to marriage and we were very excited about it. We'd been ring shopping earlier in the summer and I finally had managed to squirrel away enough money to get the ring. I'd placed the ring on Jill's finger 3 weeks before, on a flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. As soon as we got off the plane, Jill's mother noticed the ring and leaped into action. By the time the weekend had concluded, we'd already had a line on the church and the reception hall.
A week later the call had come from my brother that Dad had a heart attack. Jill and I were on our way to Appleton the next day. My brother had told me that although he'd had the heart attack, he was okay and that the prognosis was good. Still, we decided to find out for ourselves.
My brother's report had been accurate. Dad seemed fine when I talked to him on the phone. Jill was delighted to show her future father-in-law the ring. When we walked into Dad's hospital room, he seemed in good spirits. Jill smiled when she saw him.
"You know, when a couple gets married, it's the father of the bride who's supposed to have the heart attack, especially when he thinks about the bill," Jill said.
My dad laughed out loud. "Tell your father I had the heart attack in solidarity with him," he said. While Dad was still in the hospital and surgery awaited, it seemed like the worst was over, so we returned to Chicago and our lives after the weekend.
The surgery was going to be tricky -- a quadruple bypass. The prognosis was good, though -- we had been assured that as many as 90-95% of people who had the surgery were able to get out of the hospital within weeks and resume a normal life. The odds seemed good.
But things had not gotten much better. The surgery turned out to be complicated and complications from surgery began almost immediately. After another week, my brother had called again and told me I should come home.
I didn't own a car, so the trip home was complicated. I climbed aboard an Amtrak train at Union Station and rode it to Milwaukee. I met my sister at the station and we drove the two hours back to Theda Clark Regional Medical Center in Neenah, the hosptial where my dad was being treated.
As we drove, we talked about everything except the problems Dad was having. My sister had attended a concert at Alpine Valley over the weekend, a concert that ended in tragedy when Stevie Ray Vaughan and members of Eric Clapton's road crew were killed in a helicopter crash. Vaughan had performed there that night with Clapton and Robert Cray and my sister had felt that Stevie Ray had blown everyone else off the stage.
"It was an unbelievable concert, Mark," she said. "But I can't believe that he died. You just don't know what's going to happen, do you?"
I thought about that. I knew what she meant. But there was a long silence.
By the time we got to the hospital, things were seeming pretty dicey. Dad had been in intensive care for a few days and was drifting in and out of consciousness. We spent a lot of time sitting in an outside area overlooking the Fox River. At the time I was nearly a pack-a-day smoker and they weren't especially interested in having me pollute the waiting room. We weren't allowed to visit Dad; only my stepmother could go in. I could peek my head into his room, but I'm not sure he knew that I was there.
Dad's best friend was a pathologist named Charles Awen who lived in Oconto, Wisconsin, a small town about 70 miles north of Appleton. He wasn't involved in Dad's case but he'd been in to see Dad and I could tell that he was worried when I talked to him.
"I don't know, Mark. He doesn't look too good," Dr. Awen said. "The problem he's had is that he's been confined to bed for so long and he's had a lot of blood clots that have formed. He's at risk for a pulmonary embolism."
"Is there anything I can do, Dr. Awen?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.
"Not really. He's being treated for it now, but it's going to be tough."
Dr. Awen was right. It was going to be tough. By late afternoon all my siblings were at the hospital. We got a report from the doctor who was treating Dad. He told us he was cautiously optimistic. He also told us that we really didn't need to hang around the hospital, because there wasn't much we could do for him at this point. My brother Pat, who at the time lived in Milwaukee, asked if he thought Dad would make it through the night. The doctor seemed to think that wouldn't be a problem, so my brother returned to Milwaukee.
The rest of us went to George Webb, a classic U-shaped diner that is straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. We tucked into massive plates of greasy food and told bad jokes and laughed. It was an enormous release of tension. We had taken the medical staff's counsel to heart and were hopeful that maybe the storm would pass.
By 10 o'clock, we were all back at the big house on Railroad Street. The air was thick with cigarette smoke and laughter. So much so that I almost didn't hear the phone ring. But I did and I answered it. The voice on the other end was matter of fact and frankly a little chilling.
"This is Theda Clark. You need to get back down here. Things have taken a turn for the worse."
"We're on the way," I said. And we were.
We were there in 15 minutes. As Dr. Awen had feared, a large blood clot had broken free and had traveled to Dad's lungs. He was having difficulty breathing and needed emergency surgery. The doctor asked my stepmother if she would authorize it.
"Of course I do! What are the odds of success?"
"Not good," the doctor replied. "Less than 10%."
"Do it. We're going to the chapel to pray."
And we did. We prayed hard. I don't know that I'd ever prayed so hard in my life, before or since. We'd called my brother and he was tearing down U.S. 41 back to Neenah, hoping against hope that he could be there to help in some way, any way.
I know that God hears our prayers. And I know that God answers our prayers, too. But for whatever reason, the prayers weren't answered in the way we would have hoped. Dad passed away about a half hour after we'd arrived back at the hospital. When we went in to see him, we noticed that his fingers were clamped to the side rails of his hospital bed, as if he were fighting to the very end. He wasn't ready to leave, any more than we were ready to have him leave.
It had been 15 hours earlier, in my apartment in Chicago, that I'd heard the song that followed me like a nagging argument all day long.
Won't you show me something true today
C'mon and show me anything but this
19 years later, I still wish I'd been shown anything but this.
The problem is not that there is no Ted Kennedy among the Democrats who understands the art of compromise. The problem is that there is no Republican willing to provide, for health reform, the kind of bold leadership that Kennedy provided to help pass controversial legislation when George W. Bush was president.Heartless bastards. But there's more:
Democrats did not get their way on the creation of the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, but on that, too, Kennedy decided that something was better than nothing, even though seniors were required to buy their coverage through private companies and Medicare was prevented from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for the best prices.
Kennedy gave Bush a victory rather than sending the Republicans to their Waterloo because he believed the result was more important than short-term politics. If Republicans really want to honor the senator's memory, they should stop using him as an excuse for the failure of health-care reform and instead start living up to his example.
A few very brief thoughts:
- Help me understand why the Republicans should want to honor the memory of Sen. Kennedy. I'd love to know why that's so important. Someone must know. I think Rick Kahn tried to provide a similar rationale a few years ago, but somehow it got lost in translation.
- The prescription-drug benefit was hardly something that all Republicans wanted. Most Republicans I know opposed the effort. It was instead another example of George W. Bush's efforts to reach across the aisle. And when the history of the Bush administration is written, it may very well loom larger than the GWOT as a debit on the ledger.
- Anyone who says opposing Obama Care is about "short-term politics" is blowing smoke at you. If this dog's breakfast is passed, there will be nothing short-term about it, of course.
- As always, it's time to remind everyone of a simple reality. The Democrats have the votes to pass Obama Care at any time in the current Congress, if they are willing to muscle recalcitrant members of their own caucus. If Obama Care is that important to the future of the republic, and the Democratic Party is so confident that their view of things is correct, they should just pass the damned thing and be done with it. The potential loss of a few Blue Dog districts should be transitory as the wisdom of this decision becomes clear.
It's time for the Geoff Garins of the world to stop whining. You guys won. Barack Obama said so. You wanted the power. You have it. You told us that you were ready to govern. Well, get to it. If you are right, the Republicans will be out in the political wildneress for at least another generation. You don't need the Republicans.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The telltale hand of Theodore Sorensen can be seen in the allusion to JFK's (and Sorensen's) Profiles in Courage: "The stories of the past courage cannot supply courage itself. For this, each man must look into his own soul." But Kennedy's call on his constituents to render their verdict on him drew directly drew on the stratagem pioneered by then-President Richard Nixon in his brilliant 1952 Checkers speech.
I pray that I can have the courage to make the right decision. Whatever is decided and whatever the future holds for me, I hope that I shall have been able to put this most recent tragedy behind me and make some further contribution to our state and mankind, whether it be in public or private life.
When a man (if you’ll forgive the expression) confronts the truth of what he has done, what does honor require? Six years before Chappaquiddick, in the wake of Britain’s comparatively very minor “Profumo scandal,” the eponymous John Profumo, Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for War, resigned from the House of Commons and the Queen’s Privy Council, and disappeared amid the tenements of the East End to do good works washing dishes and helping with children’s playgroups, in anonymity, for the last 40 years of his life. With the exception of one newspaper article to mark the centenary of his charitable mission, he never uttered another word in public again.
Well, this year I learned something that I thought might provide a chuckle for the Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood readers. Truth in advertising - I have not actually verified this piece of news. Our next door neighbor has a young son who loves the usual toddler movies including ones featuring the Little People. Not familiar with the Little People? They are made by Fisher-Price and undoubtedly you have seen the Little People farm. So, guess who does one of the voices of the Little People on the movies? Aaron Neville. Not exactly typecasting. . . .
Thursday, August 27, 2009
One quick request: My cousin Tim Evans, who is a PFC in the Marines and was stationed in Afghanistan, got hit by an IED over the weekend. He is a great kid who blew off a football scholarship to enlist. He was banged up pretty badly, but physically, he should be OK. However, he also sustained a severe concussion, and there's some concerns about long-term effects. Any prayers would be appreciated.
I am praying for Tim and I would request that everyone who reads this feature do the same.
I am amused that a guy who blogs at a site that has trouble getting through a post without letting an F-bomb fly would attempt to use the Joseph Welch quote as a truncheon against Leo, though.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
- If you think the Star Tribune is bad, you should see the Kansas City Star. An aggressively stupid newspaper, but with even less content the Strib.
- My new all-time favorite television sports guy is Jack Harry at the NBC affiliate in KC. This guy is gruff, old school, obtuse and unintentionally hilarious. Picture Sid Hartman with a flat top haircut and a gravel voice and you've got the picture.
- Claire McCaskill, who theoretically represents Missouri in the Senate, comes off as very silly. She was doing a "town hall" in KC while we were there and even though she put her thumb on the scale in designing the format, she still seemed flustered even though the tough questions were screened out.
- We talk a lot about "Minnesota Nice," but the people we met in Kansas City were considerably more friendly than most people you encounter 'round here. And everyone is unfailingly polite.
- The difference between Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas and France Avenue in Edina is pretty much non-existent.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
- One of the things you don't always appreciate about the Twin Cities until you leave is how well signed it is. We made some sport about the expense of changing out the signs for the terminals at the airport, but by and large it's pretty easy to figure out where things are in the Twin Cities. Kansas City leaves a lot to be desired that way. You often don't find out about exits until you're just about on them. This has been pretty problematic a few times here -- fortunately, I'm a big fan of abrupt lane changes.
- I don't know how nice the new ballpark will be in Minneapolis, but they'll have to go a long way to improve on Kauffmann Stadium here. It is absolutely gorgeous and the renovation they did is spectacular. It's the nicest ballpark I've been in. Too bad the product on the field is, well, terrible.
- We went to the Harry S. Truman Library on Saturday. While's there's more than a little big of hagiography going on, it's a pretty neat place to visit. It's easy to forget how momentous the times were when Truman served the nation. A hell of a lot of things were on the line back then. I highly recommend a visit if you come to this area.
- Today we went to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum, both located in the historic 18th and Vine District east of downtown. The neighborhood is the one referenced in the Wilbert Harrison song about Kansas City and was the centerpiece of African-American life here. Both museums have a lot to offer and the kids had a great time.
Bottom line -- this is a nice place to visit, especially if you just want to get away from the Twin Cities for a few days. And I'm glad to see that the Stinger is keeping the neighorhood filled with content.
Of course, it's the preseason. We have to remember that Detroit went 4-0 in the preseason last year. But, the team Minnesotans love to hate could be pretty decent this year. So heads up, Vikes....it's not going to be a cakewalk just because you have the best 39-going-on-40-year-old QB in the league in your fold....and I don't think Chicago is going to be the only bump in the road for you either.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Before I begin, I should say that Mr. D and I have a lot of overlap in our musical tastes. But, there are definitely places where we part ways (although his picking up on the White Stripes is impressive...gives me hope). Oh, one other difference...I actually have an iPod.
"This Fine Social Scene," Zero 7
"1972 Bronze Medalist," The Bad Plus
"Open Your Heart," Madonna
"Since You're Gone," The Cars
"Big Me," Foo Fighters
"Oh Daddy," Adrian Belew
"Future Foe Scenarios," Silversun Pickups
"Goody Two Shoes," Adam Ant
Hey, no hip-hop...this list may be Maria-approved. Actually, I should do an all hip-hop one just because she called me out on not posting.
In the meantime, have an open thread. Anything you want to talk about. Start an argument, go nuts, have fun, whatever. My only request: don't work blue. Back Tuesday.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.
Must have been Rush Limbaugh, or maybe Glenn Beck or Ann Coulter. Someone irresponsible like that. Or maybe Sarah Palin has been turned loose on the Facebook again, making more of her reckless wild-ass charges. That's what you'd think, right?
If that's what you think, you're wrong. The author is Nat Hentoff. Here's the full quote from his latest column:
I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House
administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.
Emphasis mine. If you don't know who Hentoff is, he's a man with impeccable liberal credentials. He spent the majority of his 50+ year career at the Village Voice, which no one confuses with National Review. He wrote a book, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance, that was highly critical of the Bush Adminstration's actions in the aftermath of 9/11. He's one of the most important living experts on the meaning and importance of the First Amendment. He's not a nut. He also offers this cautionary note, quoting journalist Wesley Smith:
As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:
"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.
"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar. It is thus essential, as just one example, that any end-of-life counseling provision in the final bill be specified to be purely voluntary … and that the counseling be required by law to be neutral as to outcome. Otherwise, even if the legislation doesn't push in a specific direction — for instance, THE GOVERNMENT REFUSING TREATMENT — the regulations could." (Emphasis added.)
Emphasis noted. Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Windmills of Your Mind, Dusty Springfield
I Can't Stop Loving You, Ray Charles
Somebody Crying, Marshall Crenshaw
Runnin' with the Devil, Van Halen
You Took Advantage of Me, Art Tatum
It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), R.E.M.
Crazy, Gnarls Barkley
Lost in the Supermarket, The Clash
Back on the Chain Gang, The Pretenders
Carry Me Back, The Rascals
Brett Favre was a warrior from the Land of Hattiesburg
With a Thompson gun for hire, fighting was the word
The deal was made with Ron Wolf on a dark and stormy day
So he set out for Fox Valley to join the bloody fray
Through ninety-six and seven they fought the NFC war
Fingers on their triggers, knee-deep in gore
For days and nights they battled the Niners to their knees
They killed to earn their living and to help out the heads of cheese
Brett Favre the Thompson gunner...
His comrades fought beside him - Ted Thompson and the rest
But of all Ted Thompson's gunners, Brett Favre was the best
So the NFL decided they wanted Brett Favre dead
That son-of-a-bitch Ted Thompson blew off Brett Favre's head
Brett Favre the headless Ted Thompson gunner (Time, time, time
For another peaceful war
Green Bay's bravest son But time stands still for Brett Favre
'Til he evens up the score)
They can still see his headless body stalking through the night
In the klieg lights of ESPN
In the klieg lights of ESPN
Brett Favre searched the continent for the man who'd done him in
He found him in Milwaukee in a barroom drinking gin
Brett Favre aimed his Ted Thompson gun - he didn't say a word
But he blew all credibility from there to Hattiesburg
Brett Favre the headless Ted Thompson gunner...
The eternal Ted Thompson gunner, still wandering through the night
Now it's two years later but he still keeps up the fight
In Maplewood, in Hopkins, in Inver Grove and Fridley
Ziggy Wilf heard the burst of Favre's Ted Thompson gun
And bought it
Oh, where to begin. Such a target-rich environment. Let's see:
- First, as a Packer fan, I'm more amused than angered by this. There's no reason to be mad a Favre. He's not being disloyal, he's being bull-headed. He got it into his brain that he was indispensable. Ted Thompson didn't agree. And Ted was right, of course. It's 2009. I'd rather have a 25-year-old Aaron Rodgers at the helm than a guy who is going to turn 40 in October.
- By signing today, Favre got his way and demonstrated the desperation of the lost souls at Winter Park. Why go through training camp? Why bother with the alphabet soup of activities that are supposedly an essential part of the modern game? Who needs a mini-camp, an OTA, a trip to Mankato? And remember all the assurances that we heard from the assembled brain trust in Eden Prairie. Favre is just another guy. He'll go through everything everyone else does. Guess not.
- So I wonder how all the boys at ESPN feel, especially the ones who spent the summer logging long hours in Hattiesburg watching for smoke signals from the Favre compound. How many breathless dispatches were offered, how much air time did the network offer, only to have Jay Glazer of FoxSports get the scoop when it really mattered. Ol' Number 4 used Mort, Ed Werder, John Clayton and countless others as a footwipe. Hope you enjoyed it, kids!
- As for the season ahead: who knows? If I were to guess, I don't think it ends well for the Vikings. The final image Packer fans have of Brett Favre is watching him throw a bad interception in the 2007 NFC championship game. It served as a nice bookmark to the bad interception he threw in the playoffs in 2003. Maybe it will be different this year, but that's not the way to bet.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Anyway, just thought I would put up a post letting people know that I will be putting up the occasional post here....which, as anyone who reads SN knows, is infrequent.
I think I made a pretty decent intro to myself and what I am about on my first post at my blog. Read that, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what I'm about.
Oh, I will make one point. In making his announcement that he was not running for a third term as Wisconsin governor, Jim Doyle said he was not going to "pull a Brett Favre." So, rest assured, Minnesotans. Doyle will not flirt with the idea of running for governor of this state. That was what he meant, right? Probably just as well...he is about as beloved in Wisconsin as Brett Favre will be if Jay Glazer turns out to be right.
OK, there you go, Mr. D....I finally put up a post.
Let's get the ball rolling:
1) What is the opposite of Must See TV?
2) We can only hope this is on tape delay.
3) It's actually a square dancing segment with Ronnie Earle calling the moves.
4) I've got a Congressman who lives on the Hill. He won't do it but ol' Hammer will. He do the boogie, he do the K Street Boogie.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
That people from bad homes do again and again
It's big and it's bland full of tension and fear
They do it over there but we don't do it here
Mr. Gibbs compared the protesters with the "Brooks Brothers Brigade" that he said appeared in Florida after the 2000 presidential election.
"I seem to see some commonality in who pops up at some of these things," he said, without elaborating. "You can see quite a bit of similarity between who shows up where."
Two weeks later, the town meetings have been happening throughout the country and now a different picture emerges of the protestors. Turns out the protestors aren't Brooks Brothers people at all. In fact, they aren't fashion forward in the least. They are a mob. And not very well dressed at all.And our betters don't approve. Here's the measured response of Robin Givhan of the Washington Post:
By and large, the shouters are dressed in a way that underscores their Average Guy -- or Gal -- bona fides. They are wearing T-shirts, baseball caps, promotional polo shirts and sundresses with bra straps sliding down their arm. They wear fuchsia bandannas and American-flag hankies wrapped around their skulls like sweatbands. A lot of them look as though they could be attending a sporting event and, as it turns out, the congressman is the opposing player they have decided to heckle. If not for the prohibition on signs and banners inside these meetings, one could well expect to see some of these volatile worker bees wearing face paint and foam fingers, albeit the highlighted digit would be one expressing foul displeasure rather than competitive rank or skill level.
The elected officials stand in front of a lectern or roam the hall -- making sure not to stray too far from the protective reaches of their security detail, just in case a yeller lets a right hook fly. At the town halls hosted by Sens. Arlen Specter and Claire McCaskill, both legislators dressed for business. Specter was in a dark suit and tie. McCaskill wore a chocolate brown jacket with a narrow standing collar. Sen. Ben Cardin wore a dark suit with a navy striped tie to his meeting with his health care mob. They all peered at the irate speakers in some combination of stoic disbelief, subdued annoyance and preternatural calm.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I started out this summer by going to the wedding of Ben and Faith Worley. I met many new people. I was introduced to many of the guests as Mrs. D. Mr. D introduced some of the guests by their blogger name and then told me their real name. As a result, I met lots of very nice people but I am still trying to put the blogger names with the real names.
Last month I received a message on Facebook from a reporter from a famous TV station. CNN was searching for a local woman who was in the middle of her big fifteen minutes of fame. We share the same first name, same maiden name and we live in the same state. The CNN reporter assumed that I was the same person and it was urgent that he speak to me. However, I am not the same person who was appearing on national morning talk shows, the dancing bride who boogied down the aisle at her wedding. I highly doubt that CNN would like to do a story about a suburban wife and mother who works part time.
Last weekend Mr. D and I went to my high school reunion. I reintroduced myself to people I hadn't seen in a couple of decades and of course the only way that they could remember me was if I used my maiden name.
Some days this summer, when the dinner I make is a favorite, or if I have a special surprise activity planned for the day, my kids have taken to calling me the best mom in the universe. On the flip side, when I am assigning allowance chores I am definitely not called the best mom in the universe!
Forty years ago was the Summer of Love. Think I will remember this as the summer of many names.
"Mark, she's gone."
"Okay. We'll be there later today."
There wasn't a lot more to say. I'd had a few days to steel myself for what was coming. I'd driven nearly 600 miles round trip by myself two days earlier, hoping to see something better than what I'd seen. It was a forlorn hope. Now it was time to return. This time it was time to say goodbye. My mother had passed away.
My mother was 67 years old. She needed oxygen because of her emphysema and had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She had gone into the hospital for a mastectomy six days earlier and complications set in almost immediately. She never made it out of the hospital. I'd gone home on Saturday for a quick visit, returning home the same day. Mom was tired, angry and somewhat incoherent. The attending doctors and nurses seemed concerned but optimistic and I thought that I would see her again. I thought wrong.
We started getting ready. We had to make some phone calls — let the office know I wouldn't be around for a while, let my wife's parents know, all the calls you have to make when a life-changing event needs to be explained. These days you might be able to put a post up on Facebook or a blog, but in 2000 those things weren't around yet.
Since we'd been on vacation the previous week, I'd driven well nearly 1,500 miles and was pretty much exhausted. We were still recovering from our vacation and we couldn't leave right away; there was laundry to do and arrangements to make. My son, then 4 years old, couldn't understand why we had to make another long trip in the car. I understood what he felt -- the last thing I wanted was another 289 mile trip. The trip from the Twin Cities to Appleton was about 5½ hours under the best circumstances; you had to take a somewhat convoluted path back then, driving through the back end of Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls before heading east on Highway 29. We also had a highly cranky infant daughter in the car and we had to make a number of stops along the way. As the light of the day began to fade, we pulled into Appleton and checked into the Microtel, a new but pretty spartan place out by the highway. We just wanted to get some sleep.
It didn't work out. The disruptions in schedule were a little too much for our daughter and she spent most of the evening crying. Eventually I had to try the old trick of driving her around to lull her to sleep. I put her in the car seat and began to drive around town. By then it was deep into the night, almost 3 a.m. the next morning. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed the lightning flashing in the western sky. I turned on the radio and tried to find out what was happening; there was a severe thunderstorm warning and the potential of a tornado. Travel was not recommended.
Still, I continued to drive. The rain came down in sheets and the lightning crackled across the sky in weird horizontal patterns. My daughter, who had finally started to fall asleep, was awakened by a clap of thunder and began to cry again. I made another loop through the west side of town, down Mason Street toward my old neighborhood. I turned right on Cedar, then left on Outagamie, stopping briefly in front of my boyhood home. At that moment, the rain began to slow and my daughter started to fall back to sleep. As I wound through the streets of my youth – Reid Drive, Douglas Street, Prospect Avenue, past my high school, past St. Mary's cemetery, back to the highway, I craved sleep most of all. Sleep would come soon enough. The only good news was that the longest day of my life was coming to an end.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The state already has an annual “Minnesota Leadership Summit.” It’s called the legislative session and it lasts approximately five months. This past year, rather than taking timely and decisive action to deal with our budget deficit, the Legislature’s DFL leadership wasted the first few months of the session. Passage of your final budget bills in the last few minutes before midnight on the final day of the session was indicative of how you managed the situation.
That's going to leave a mark.
Meanwhile, the idiosyncratic and highly valuable Camille Paglia, who supported Obama and still seems to want to, makes another great point, even though she seems to want to avoid the obvious conclusion:
And what do Democrats stand for, if they are so ready to defame concerned citizens as the "mob" -- a word betraying a Marie Antoinette delusion of superiority to ordinary mortals. I thought my party was populist, attentive to the needs and wishes of those outside the power structure. And as a product of the 1960s, I thought the Democratic party was passionately committed to freedom of thought and speech.
But somehow liberals have drifted into a strange servility toward big government, which they revere as a godlike foster father-mother who can dispense all bounty and magically heal all ills. The ethical collapse of the left was nowhere more evident than in the near total silence of liberal media and Web sites at the Obama administration's outrageous solicitation to private citizens to report unacceptable "casual conversations" to the White House. If Republicans had done this, there would have been an angry explosion by Democrats from coast to coast. I was stunned at the failure of liberals to see the blatant totalitarianism in this incident, which the president should have immediately denounced. His failure to do so implicates him in it.
Implicates, you say? Keep thinking, Camille. You're getting very close to the truth, even if you'd rather not acknowledge it yet.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
She Has Funny Cars, Jefferson Airplane
Big Sister’s Clothes, Elvis Costello
Cynical Girl, Marshall Crenshaw
Treat Her Like a Lady, Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose
Let’s See Action, the Who
Dream Weaver, Gary Wright
Future Shock, Curtis Mayfield
Red House, Jimi Hendrix Experience
American Squirm, Nick Lowe
I Say a Little Prayer, Aretha Franklin
First, here's some theme music from Tom Lehrer:
So many mean things have been said about Our President lately. Wonder where we've heard that before:
One hallmark of the new mainstream Hitler rhetoric is that the speakers typically try to soften the accusation right after making it. [Andrew] Greeley said, "He is not another Hitler. Yet there is a certain parallelism." [Guido] Calabresi said he was "not suggesting for a moment that Bush is Hitler." No, course not. That was probably the furthest thing from his mind when he decided to link Bush with Hitler. In his heyday, Joe McCarthy used the same rhetorical device. If he wanted to plant the idea that someone was a traitor without quite saying it, he would announce that somebody or other "is a traitor to America's highest principles," which is not exactly an accusation of treason.
As a test of the state of "Bush the Nazi" rhetoric, I went to Google and typed in "Bush is a Nazi" and got 420,000 hits, well behind "Hitler was a Nazi" (654,000 hits), but then Hitler WAS a Nazi and had a 75-year head start. (Computer searches like this are very crude instruments. They sweep up many references that cannot fairly be listed as slurs. But they do offer a rough idea of the amount of name-calling.)
President Clinton did fairly well in the Nazi sweepstakes (158,000 hits, but that's only 20,000 references for each presidential year, compared to 120,000 annually for the 3 1/2 year-incumbency of George Bush.) The odd thing is that I typed in the names of every Nazi I ever heard of, excluding only Hitler himself, and the group total was still less than George Bush gets alone. This might indicate that either that George Bush is by far the second most important Nazi of all time, or that the Democrats and the left now require some sedation.
That's from a John Leo column in 2004. Do the same search today and you get over 5,000,000 hits. By the way, in case you were wondering, Guido Calabresi is a sitting federal judge.
I am heartened that the Democrats are getting the vapors right now about some of the mean, rotten, awful things that those astroturfin', teabaggin', knuckle-draggin' Republicans are doing, especially the handful of miscreants who were totin' swastikas at a few rallies. I'm sure we'd be able to enter a new era of good feelings, if only I could stop dragging my knuckles. I'm working on it. We do need to make the world safe for Andrew Sullivan, of course.
We might need to get some help to a few other needlessly angry people, though.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Opponents to Obama Care are partisan mobs, according to the WH script. Sometimes the supporters are, too.
And here is how it plays out in Denver (h/t: Powerline, which also has an interesting look at the performance of pet conservative David Brooks on Meet the Press yesterday).
This should buy a whole lotta astroturf.
On the one hand, this is pretty alarming. On the other hand, it makes Cash for Clunkers seem a bit like the after-dinner mint in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
On a totally different note, be sure to vote in the poll for the time of the next MOB Party over at Mitch's place. And remember, the correct answer is September 12. As Foghorn Leghorn might say, that's a hint, son.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Your neighbor, who makes about the same money you do, maybe a little more, is tired of driving his old yet serviceable second car (a 1997 Chevy Monte Carlo, like the one pictured with this post*) and goes in for Cash for Clunkers and gets a new Toyota Corolla. He gets a $4,500 credit to buy it. Guess what -- all the taxes you paid for the year are devoted to financing his new car! And if you're lucky, your neighbor might even let you drive it around the block or something!
Thought that your taxes were going to pay for national defense, or roads and bridges, or something else? Naah, why would the government do that when they can dispense favors instead? Guess all the infrastructure projects that we've heard about are all under control now.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is.
That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction.
It's the Nobel Laureate as Jeff Foxworthy: You might be a racist if you oppose Obama Care. Good to know. In fact, you probably are. And a "birther," too. As we all know, anything that Dick Durbin says is probative. QED. And these guys probably disapprove of you, too.
The good news for advocates of limited government is that our opponents are displaying a striking lack of confidence in the actual arguments for their proposals. If they thought they could win a debate on nationalizing health care, or running trillion-dollar deficits, they wouldn’t need to reach for such smears.
Friday, August 07, 2009
My TvM colleague Gary Miller gets to the heart of the matter. Over/under on the walkback for "inartful phrasing" on this one is probably sometime after 5 p.m. today.
Peggy Noonan redeems herself: Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, accused the people at the meetings of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that.” (Apparently one protester held a hand-lettered sign with a “no” slash over a swastika.) But they are not Nazis, they’re Americans. Some of them looked like they’d actually spent some time fighting Nazis.
Last month, President Obama held a conference call with a small group of liberal bloggers, asking them to keep pressure on Congress in the health care fight. Now those same bloggers are part of an orchestrated effort by the Democratic Party and the White House to portray protests against their health care legislation as, well,
John Amato of Crooks and Liars was on last month's conference call with Obama. Yesterday, Amato asked, "How long will it take the traditional media to expose the corporations that are running this con and even mention the word 'astrotufing' in a serious way?" In the same post, he praised Robert Gibbs for accusing the protesters of being phony.
David Dayen of the blog D-Day was on the call. Yesterday, he wrote a post titled, "Top-Level Democrats Assault The Extremist Astroturfers." It began, "The White House took the lead on this, publicly calling the teabagger disruptions an example of astroturfing and citing conservative industry-backed groups taking credit for activating the rioters. Now other elements of the Democratic Party are taking up the baton. Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer blasted the clown show today..."
Joan McCarter of Daily Kos was also on the call. Yesterday, she wrote of the protesters, "It's kind of sad, isn't it? They think they're part of a real populist movement, but the freedom they're fighting for is the freedom of corporations to make even more money off of them. It's that cynicism of this astroturf campaign that's particularly disturbing, because it's not about the rights of citizens to freely express their dissent."
You know what? I don't much care if these bloggers want to help the White House sell Obamacare. It's a free country. Should you take their complaints about the nefarious forces on the Right seriously? Your mileage may vary, but I surely don't.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Take Me Out, Franz Ferdinand
Bargain, the Who
Moonage Daydream, David Bowie
Can't Stand Losing You, the Police
Bound to Fall, the Byrds
Flirtin' With Disaster, Molly Hatchet
Find Somebody, the Rascals
Death or Glory, the Clash
Ain't That Peculiar, Marvin Gaye
Whole Lotta Rosie, AC/DC
Why can’t the Democrats just pass what they want to pass with their supermajority and stop whining incessantly about Birthers and mobs or whatever? The answer, I think, is that the whole “mob” meme is effective only insofar as it creates the impression that the GOP is the stumbling block to ObamaCare, which of course is an outright lie. It’s the Blue Dogs who are holding things up for fear of a backlash in their purplish districts if they vote for socialized medicine. Which brings us back to the astroturf smear: If the left’s so sure this is all a psy op by Republicans and that Joe Public’s gung ho to run health care into a collectivist ditch, then the Blue Dogs should call the GOP’s bluff and pass whatever Obama wants. Then, when they’re all reelected next year, the great conservative fraud will be proved and The One will have a great victory, no? Put up or shut up, kids.Word. Read the whole thing, of course.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At one point, I was feeling embarrassed that a slight plurality of my fellow Minnesotans sent Al Franken to the U.S. Senate. Then I remembered who's already there.
Why didn't someone tell us this?
What is the meanest thing you can do to a politician? Provide an exact quote.