Monday, August 31, 2015

Why wait?

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you:
Kanye West announced that he plans to run for president in 2020 at the MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday night in Los Angeles.

His comments came after being presented with the award show’s highest honor by Taylor Swift, who won four of the nine awards she was nominated for at the annual ceremony, including video of the year for Bad Blood, which features Kendrick Lamar.

West accepted the Video Vanguard award with a rambling 10-minute speech where he discussed grocery stores, baseball stadiums and awards shows. After admitting that he “rolled up a little something” before coming to the show, West made his political ambitions clear.

“And yes, as you probably could’ve guessed in this moment, I’ve decided in 2020 to run for president,” West said.
Why wait, Kanye? It's not as though you're any more absurd a candidate than anyone else out there. Meanwhile, I guess Miley Cyrus bared one of her breasts on the show. Unfortunately, she can't run for president until 2032.

Sorry, Bernie

Pros protect pros:
The Democratic National Committee is “dead wrong” by limiting the number of debates available to presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Sunday.

“I think that that is dead wrong and I have let the leadership of the Democrats know that,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.

“I think this country benefits, all people benefit, democracy benefits when we have debates and I want to see more of them,” he added. “I think that debates are a good thing."
Ahem. You see that "I" after Bernie's name? That stands for independent. Not Democrat. The price of maintaining your independence is that the party you generally support doesn't have any obligation to pay attention to your plaints. The worker bees will protect the queen.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dad's been gone for 25 years

A big smile and a big stogie
My dad passed away on August 30, 1990, now 25 years ago.

I'm fond of this picture of Dad, because it reminds me of who he was. Dad had a big smile and he displayed it often. He liked a glass of Scotch and a big cigar. He was a trusted professional and a hell of a raconteur, a generous soul who never lost his sense of wonder about the world.

Dad wasn't around as much as I would have liked when I was a kid. There were reasons for that -- his job required him to travel and our family situation was less than ideal. Like many men of his generation, he did what he had to do to provide for his family. While he wasn't around all the time, he was never absent. The years haven't changed any of that.

Dad has missed a lot of things in the 25 years since he passed away. Since that day, four of his six surviving children have married. He now has 8 grandchildren. He would have loved to bounce these kids on his knee.

Since I've become a father, I've thought about all the advice my Dad could have offered me. I've thought about the wisdom he would have shared with my son and daughter. I've thought about the delight that they would have had in each other's company. I've thought about the moments that he should have seen.

In the end, you can't worry about advice you don't get. You can remember the wisdom you receive. And when I think of Dad, as this unfortunate anniversary comes and goes, I'll try to smile the way he did. It seems like the wise thing to do.

Shadows of the indignant desert birds

And it will be said again
One of the advantage of being, ahem, middle-aged is that I've seen things change before. And things are changing, to the point that even Peggy Noonan is noticing:
One is the deepening estrangement between the elites and the non-elites in America. This is the area in which Trumpism flourishes. We’ll talk about that deeper in.

Second, Mr. Trump’s support is not limited to Republicans, not by any means.

Third, the traditional mediating or guiding institutions within the Republican universe—its establishment, respected voices in conservative media, sober-minded state party officials—have little to no impact on Mr. Trump’s rise. Some say voices of authority should stand up to oppose him, which will lower his standing. But Republican powers don’t have that kind of juice anymore. Mr. Trump’s supporters aren’t just bucking a party, they’re bucking everything around, within and connected to it.
Yep. That's precisely it. At the same time, a lot of Trump supporters are coming on like this:

So the peasants are revolting, in both senses of the term. To put it in popular culture terms, we're at a Katniss Everdeen moment, but the hero on offer comes on like some sort of combination of Juan Peron and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

Why is the Donald having this moment? We've all seen him say this:

And a lot of people want the political class fired. I do, too, but I'm a menshevik and I worry about what comes next. Have we seen this moment before? I don't think we have. Will the anger abate and will we settle into yet another Bush vs. Clinton election? Maybe, but I'm not so sure. Consider the scene here yesterday when the Donks came to town. You want 1000 words? Check this out:

If looks could kill, Martin O'Malley would be dead
Martin O'Malley, who apparently is running for president, although we can't be sure because he's on television about as much as Martin Balsam these days, was complaining about the debate format that the Democratic National Committee has put forward. O'Malley wants more debates. The DNC doesn't want that, because it requires Hillary Clinton to answer questions she'd rather not answer. So we had this scene yesterday, in which Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is at the helm of the DNC, gave O'Malley the skunk eye.

Can I sort it out? Naah. But something is going on.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Say it ain't so

News you don't want to read about your pastor:
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has put a Roseville priest on leave after receiving what it is calling a credible allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the 1980s.

The Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick is pastor at Corpus Christi parish and St. Rose of Lima parish and school.

Interim Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced the decision on Thursday and says police have been notified.
We are parishioners at St. Rose of Lima -- we joined the parish earlier this year after we'd grown disenchanted with our previous parish. I can't say that I know Fr. Fitzpatrick well, but we really like him and the other priests at St. Rose. I had no inkling that he might have trouble in his past. Fr. Fitzpatrick is pastor at both parishes because, frankly, there aren't enough priests to go around these days. Corpus Christi is significantly smaller than St. Rose and probably not large enough to have a pastor, especially now, but it's also a vibrant community.

Father Fitz and the Archbishop

Fr. Fitzpatrick had invited Archbishop Hebda to come to St. Rose for the upcoming 75th annivesary celebration of the parish school. Hebda was unavailable that day, but he came to St. Rose earlier this month -- the picture I've posted is from the parish website. St. Rose was the first parish that Hebda has visited since he became the interim archbishop. Now, less than a month after he came to St. Rose, he has to take action against Fr. Fitzpatrick.

It's going to take a while for me to process this information. It's possible that the allegation, while credible, may turn out to be false. I hope it is. We are all sinners in need of God's forgiveness, which is why this scandal is so deleterious. I understand that the Church is much, much larger than any individual priest, but it has to rely on its priests to survive. And with every revelation of misconduct, people are drawn away from God, just when we need Him the most.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Joe knows

Out stumping for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin suggested that Joe Biden better not start thinking about this presidency thing:
Mr. Harkin, who served with Mr. Biden in the Senate for nearly 25 years and is now supporting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said the vice president should not risk ending his career with what would be a third bid for the presidency.

“He has served the country so well and been a good friend of mine — I love Joe,” Mr. Harkin said in a phone interview. “I just don’t think this would be a wise move.”

Without prompting, Mr. Harkin added that there were “other ways Joe can serve the country.”

“With Hillary as president, I can see him being secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations,” he said. “There are a lot of things he can do down the road that would be of valuable service to the country or the world.”
Why would Biden want to do those things? I suspect Yoni Applebaum of the Atlantic is correct:
The emails that Clinton gave to the State Department are now being released in tranches every 30 days. Her server has been turned over to the Justice Department, which is reportedly optimistic that it can recover at least some of the emails that Clinton had deleted. No one knows what the emails that have not yet been released may contain.

No one, that is, outside of the administration. Those on the other end of Clinton’s correspondence presumably retain their own records of their exchanges. The White House has reportedly monitored the situation since before the questions over Clinton’s email became public. And the State Department has assigned a team to sort through the emails, reviewing them for classified information.
It's still early. I am confident that Hillary Clinton's campaign will not survive the year. There's almost no chance that the professionals in the Democratic Party are going to let Bernie Sanders be the standard-bearer. The Donks have no bench. If Joe Biden enters the race, he's going to be the nominee. He may be a buffoon, a plagiarist and an all-around demagogue, but he's not fundamentally corrupt. As far as we know, that is.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The campaign

It's not a campaign, it's performance art:
Two minutes into Donald Trump's news conference here Tuesday night came the question he tried to

"Mr. Trump, I have a question," said Jorge Ramos, the top news anchor at Univision and one of the country's most recognizable Mexican-Americans, as he stood up in the front row of journalists.

"Excuse me," the Republican presidential front-runner told Ramos. "Sit down. You weren't called. Sit down."

Ramos, holding a piece of paper, calmly tried to ask Trump about his plan to combat illegal immigration. "I'm a reporter, an immigrant, a senior citizen," he said. "I have the right to ask a question."

Trump interrupted him. "Go back to Univision," he said. Then the billionaire businessman motioned to one of his bodyguards, who walked across the room and physically removed Ramos from the room.
Calmly? Not so much. There's plenty o' video:

Eventually, Ramos came back and got a five-minute exchange with Trump:
But moments later, Ramos returned to his seat in the front row -- and Trump called on him. For five minutes, they tangled over immigration policy, an issue on which both men have passionately different views. It was one of the more compelling moments of the 2016 campaign.

"Good to have you back," Trump told Ramos, signaling to him to begin his questioning.
Rick Perry might kick a reporter out of his next press conference, assuming a reporter shows up.


Of course it's a scam:
As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union’s carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, “hot air” – no actual emissions were reduced.
And the beauty part? Even more gas:
According to a study released in the journal Nature Climate Change, plants in Russia “increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas,” resulting in an increase in emissions as large as 600 million tons of carbon dioxide—roughly half the amount the EU’s ETS intends to reduce from 2013 to 2030.
Working great. Maybe that's why you aren't seeing any calls to have the climate summit grandees meet on Skype -- they aren't serious about any of it.
As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits “was like printing money.”
Perhaps when this all goes south, they can work for the Fed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

That nasty ol' blank screen

Most mornings I observe the same ritual. Get up early, post a "Song of the Day" on Facebook, then start looking for something to write about for a blog post. Some days it's easy to find a topic. So if you'll settle for a few ruminations, here we go.

  • The financial news isn't particularly encouraging. I don't doubt that we are heading into a period of financial difficulty that could prove quite severe. Still, the shrieking of various Cassandras seems self-serving. It's not coincidental that many of the people casting the warnings are suggesting that precious metals are a safe haven. It's also not coincidental that most of them are selling precious metals. If holding precious metals is the only way to avoid ruin, it's odd that so many people are trying to sell them to you.
  • I'm getting the distinct impression that any number of people want us to start a stampede. It's not just the Cassandras; I get the same vibe from some of the more vocal supporters of Donald Trump. While I'm largely sympathetic to the disgruntled conservatives who are flocking to the Trump banner, there's a lot of nonsense involved. If somehow Trump were to get elected, the best case scenario would be a presidency along the lines of the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We don't have time for that.
  • As a Packers fan, I'm bummed out about losing Jordy Nelson for the season. If it had to happen, though, this is a good time for it to happen. An ACL injury is typically a year-long event, which mean that Nelson will be available for 2016. There is also sufficient time for the Packers to identify a replacement for Nelson and a number of candidates are available. I'm guessing they have a Plan B.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Headed for the exits?
U.S. stock index futures screamed lower, with Dow futures tumbling as much as 350 points, as fears surrounding the health of China's economy multiplied.

These concerns saw the benchmark Shanghai Composite index notch up its biggest one-day percentage loss since 2007 on Monday, closing down 8.5 percent.
I have friends who are in full freakout mode right now, convinced that "The Collapse"is nigh and that we're inevitably headed for some sort of Hobbesian State of Nature -- you know, the ol' "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" thing. I'd like to have a little more faith than that in our ability to recover from our mistakes. Is that faith misplaced?

Let's talk about it. But first, a poll?

Is it time to panic? free polls

Sunday, August 23, 2015

If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be NARN*

It's that time of year again when my friend, the estimable Brad Carlson, invites me down to the AM 1280 bunker for our annual tour through the NFC North. I'll be on from 2-3 p.m. CDT, but you should always consider Brad's show appointment radio and start listening at 1 p.m.

Besides tuning in to AM 1280 in the metro area, you can check us out at the Patriot website, on iHeartRadio, or even watch the broadcast via these UStream. So many choices.

*Apologies to Mitch Berg

Friday, August 21, 2015

Down to the root

The estimable Thomas Sowell, discussing immigration but in doing so explaining the larger issue:
Even if it were necessary to revise the 14th Amendment, it is sheer Progressive era dogma that Constitutional Amendments are nearly impossible to revise, repeal or create. There were four new Constitutional Amendments added in just eight years, during the height of the Progressive era in the early 20th century.

But it is indeed impossible if you are just looking for excuses for not trying. Republicans who are worried about Donald Trump should be. But their own repeated betrayals of their supporters set the stage for his emergence. This goes all the way back to "Read my lips, no new taxes." 


Here it comes:
What happens when the Federal Reserve loses its stranglehold over debt markets? Investors are finding out.

The selloff in corporate bonds is deepening and investors are seeking safety in the longest-dated government debt, which does best when the economy does worst. Defaults are rising as oil tumbles and investors are looking for the best ways to hedge against credit losses.
That's the thing about a stranglehold -- eventually it leads to a strangling.

Are you not entertained?

Classy. Yuge. World-class trolling.

I use antlers in all of my decorating
Jeb Bush is considering a similar shot, but it involves a buzzard. Meanwhile, we get some even better trolling from The Donald (h/t Allahpundit):
“Here’s my question: So if I go to CNN and I say, Look, you’re going to have a massive audience, and if I say to them, I want $10 million for charity, nothing for myself, what happens? I’m not showing up, right?” he says. It’s a rhetorical question, the wheels of entrepreneurship are turning, the joy of being Trump dancing on his face. “I’m not showing up unless you give $10 million to cancer, to this, to that. You pick 10 great charities, $1 million per.” He’s not sure just how far the rules of democracy can bend, how big his ambitions can grow. “If I’m in it, they’ll get this crazy audience, and they’re going to make a fortune since they’re selling commercials every time we take a break. Would you ever say to them, would you ever say, I want $10 million for AIDS research, for cancer, for this type or not, or is it too cute?”
In other words:

Damn right I'm entertained.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Look for the union label

Walter Russell Mead, understanding incentives:
Why, you might ask, would a labor union that is supposedly dedicated to increasing the wages of its members be willing to sign a deal that allows workers to earn less than the minimum wage the union has campaigned to pass into law? The unions have said it gives them more flexibility in negotiations and shields employers and cities against lawsuits. But the real answer, silly, is the exemptions create an incentive to force companies like hotels and fast food chains to recognize labor unions precisely so they can keep labor costs down.
But that's not the real reason, is it?
In other words, empowering labor unions to strike sweetheart deals with employers is a way to divert money from workers to union bosses. Some of the unions backing these measures are run by well-meaning people who are looking for ways to build labor’s institutional power at a time when globalization, immigration, and automation have made traditional unions less relevant than ever in the private sector. But these measures will attract the wrong people back into the union business and create incentives that make unions attractive targets for mob power. (Not that anything like this could ever happen, say, to the casino workers’ unions in Las Vegas.)
Solidarity forever, chumps.

Darn the luck

So inconvenient:
State Department BlackBerry devices issued to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin have likely been destroyed or sold off, the department said in a court filing on Wednesday.

Mills and Abedin “were each issued BlackBerry devices,” department Executive Secretary Joseph Macmanus wrote in the filing.

The department, however, “has not located any such device,” and believes that they would have been destroyed or removed from the department's control.

“Because the devices issues to Ms. Mills and Ms. Abedin would have been outdated models, in accordance with standard operating procedures those devices would have been destroyed or excessed,” Macmanus added.
Haldeman and Ehrlichman really should have considered BlackBerry devices. Would have saved them a lot of heartache.

Great Moments in Investigations

Los Angeles, 1969:

Investigator:  Mr. Manson, we need to ask you a few questions concerning the activities of some of your associates.

Manson: We're running a social outreach program here.

Investigator: Are you sure about that? We noticed a little trouble up at Sharon Tate's residence and...

Manson: I've investigated this and there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Investigator: Okay. Sorry to have troubled you.

A movie set, circa 1976:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.

Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: These aren't the droids you're looking for.

Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: He can go about his business.

Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.

Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: Move along.

Stormtrooper: Move along... move along.

Geneva, Switzerland, 2015:
Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.
IAEA official: Let me see what's happening at Parchin.

Obi-Wan Khameini [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see what's happening at Parchin.

IAEA official: We don't need to see what's happening at Parchin.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The eyes have it

Out on the fairway

You may have seen this picture over the weekend:

Just two golfing buddies, probably discussing a little bidness while they were out there on the course. Of course one of the men is Bill Clinton, and the other is the Leader of the Free World. And there are other games afoot beyond a little $2 Nassau.

We're learning that the wife of Mr. Clinton, who has been much in the news lately, is in trouble over her conduct in office as Secretary of State. Many pixels have been piled up detailing the investigations under way, both by Congressional committees and, now, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Much of the story involves the homebrew server that Mrs. Clinton used for correspondence and whether or not it was secure. One might guess that the conversation between these two men would have some import.

For her part, Mrs. Clinton continues to deny any wrongdoing:
Speaking to reporters Tuesday in North Las Vegas, Nevada, Clinton said she was "very comfortable that this will eventually get resolved and the American people will have plenty of time to figure it out."

She added: "In retrospect, this didn't turn out to be convenient at all and I regret that this has become such a cause celebre. But that does not change the facts." She reiterated that what she did was "legally permitted" and said she did not send any emails marked "classified."
If that were true, the FBI would not be involved. A few thoughts:

  • While the questions concerning the marking on emails matters much, the larger question concerns the content of the emails that were on her server, particularly the thousands of emails that Clinton deemed "private" and therefore outside the purview of those pesky investigators.
  • If I were to bet, what Mrs. Clinton deems "private" are not the details of her daughter's wedding planning, nor her yoga schedule. None of that matters and would be of no interest. What would be of huge interest? How much business were the Clintons doing with foreign governments through their foundation, and the relationship between the business they did and the office she held. People don't give the Clintons money because they admire their grooming.
  • It's safe to assume that the Leader of the Free World knows exactly what was happening and thus has the fate of the Clintons in his hands. As a Chicago politician, the Leader of the Free World is willing to tolerate a little graft here and there, so long as it doesn't get in the way of larger agendas.
  • If Mrs. Clinton becomes president, the balance of power changes and the Clintons would have access to rather a lot of information concerning the conduct of the Leader of the Free World. Does the Leader of the Free World trust the Clintons to safeguard the records? Would you? Or would it end up on some homebrew server, so to speak?
  • If I were to guess, the FBI investigation is a sign that the Leader of the Free World has made his decision and that the Clintons need to go away now. He would be better off if someone more loyal is his successor. The Leader of the Free World could even live with Jeb Bush, because the Bushies know the code and wouldn't pursue any investigations, because who knows where that could lead?
  • Further, if I were to guess, the meeting out on the fairway was about the terms of Mrs. Clinton's exit. If she leaves, the Clinton enterprise is safe and the money keeps flowing for now. And when the Leader of the Free World leaves office, it becomes his turn to cash in.
Stay tuned. The endgame may be coming sooner than later.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Norwood Virus

I've been watching the Norwood Teague saga unfold but haven't spent any time on it here yet. If you aren't aware of the particulars, Teague was, until recently, the athletic director at the University of Minnesota. He resigned his position nearly two weeks ago after it came to light that he is a creep who sexually harassed various people, including two colleagues and a Star Tribune sports reporter.

The harassment part is pretty straightforward and his actions were certainly grounds for dismissal. You aren't allowed to cop feels and send X-rated text messages to people who have rejected your come-ons.

Still, I think there's a conflation of issues involved here. Teague initially came to Minnesota in 2012 with a clear agenda, which included two things: to raise money for new facilities and to raise the profile of the Gophers in major sports, particularly football and men's basketball. The Star Tribune's report today shows a little of that conflation:
The University of Minnesota said Monday that former athletic director Norwood Teague failed to disclose that he was facing a gender discrimination complaint at the time he was being recruited and then after he was hired.

The school paid the Atlanta-based firm Parker Executive Search $112,539 in 2012 to find an athletic director and do background checks on leading candidates. Working with Parker on behalf of the U was a four-person search committee and a 23-member search advisory committee.

Teague emerged as the only finalist for the job, and took the position in April 2012.

That search failed to discover that former Virginia Commonwealth University women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham filed a complaint against Teague when he was the athletic director there.
Did Teague sexually harass Cunningham? From what it appears, Cunningham's complaint concerned the way Teague was administering the office, not his personal conduct. Note that Cunningham is the former women's basketball coach.

Pat Reusse's recent column gives the game away:
It should be hoped that this will go beyond an attempt to dig up more dirt on the now-resigned Teague and put all the problems with women’s athletics and men’s nonrevenue sports at his feet.

The investigation also should direct the regents to reach some type of conclusion as to whether it is really necessary for the football and men’s basketball programs to be such hogs when it comes to devouring the revenue generated by TV and ticket sales for those sports.
The question of revenue at D-1 schools always comes up and it's a challenge. In order to fund the nonrevenue sports, most colleges, including the U, end up relying on the football program to generate the lion's share of the revenue. If the Gophers want to compete at the highest levels, this is how the game is played. Teague understood that and ran the athletic department accordingly. Pat Reusse and a lot of other people around town reject that view. We're likely to find out if Reusse is correct.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The smartest take on Trump you'll read all day

Scott Adams, the mind behind Dilbert, explains Trump's Jedi Mind Tricks. Classy and yuge:
For example, when Trump says he is worth $10 billion, which causes his critics to say he is worth far less (but still billions) he is making all of us “think past the sale.” The sale he wants to make is “Remember that Donald Trump is a successful business person managing a vast empire mostly of his own making.” The exact amount of his wealth is irrelevant.

When a car salesperson trained in persuasion asks if you prefer the red Honda Civic or the Blue one, that is a trick called making you “think past the sale” and the idea is to make you engage on the question of color as if you have already decided to buy the car. That is Persuasion 101 and I have seen no one in the media point it out when Trump does it.

The $10 billion estimate Trump uses for his own net worth is also an “anchor” in your mind. That’s another classic negotiation/persuasion method. I remember the $10 billion estimate because it is big and round and a bit outrageous. And he keeps repeating it because repetition is persuasion too.

I don’t remember the smaller estimates of Trump’s wealth that critics provided. But I certainly remember the $10 billion estimate from Trump himself. Thanks to this disparity in my memory, my mind automatically floats toward Trump’s anchor of $10 billion being my reality. That is classic persuasion. And I would be amazed if any of this is an accident. Remember, Trump literally wrote the book on this stuff.
There's a lot more at the link and it's all worth your time.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

As seen on the internet.

The ever helpful Wisconsin AFL-CIO shares this breaking news about Scott Walker:

The ribbon is a nice touch

Okay, so you might have noticed that this is a relic from the 2014 campaign, but it showed up on my Facebook feed this morning. You might have also noticed that the statistics all are retrospective and catalog rankings that reflect the economic performance of the administration of Scott Walker's predecessor, Jim Doyle. But see, you need to understand the motivations of the person who posted this lovely image:
 ..whatever it takes for him NOT to be president..just my thought..
So, it's fair. And remember this: Scott Walker was born in 1967, so any adverse economic results in the state dating back to the Warren Knowles administration are clearly Scott Walker's gift to all of us. I remain particularly bitter about that damn Walker's malign influence in the time of Martin Schreiber.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Obvious, if you think about it:
There are probably a bunch of folks in China and Russia who are praying (even if they’re atheists) for Hillary to be elected. If she wins, they own the President of the United States. I can just imagine in a meeting with Putin, Hillary being told to back off supporting Ukraine or he’ll release her emails (as he hands her a folder containing the most damaging ones for her to peruse). Put in that position, would Hillary fall on her sword or sacrifice a country like Ukraine? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t want to be living in Ukraine…

Someone with that kind of vulnerability to blackmail shouldn’t be allowed to sweep the floors of the NSA, much less run our country.
Ready for Hillary. Darn right.

The game never ends

This story was supposed to be reassuring:
The yuan halted a three-day slide after China’s central bank raised its reference rate for the first time since Tuesday’s devaluation and said it will intervene to prevent excessive swings.

The onshore spot rate rose 0.11 percent, strengthening in the final minutes of trading for the third straight day and paring its drop for the week to 2.8 percent. The People’s Bank of China said Thursday there’s no basis for depreciation to persist and that it will step in to curb large fluctuations. It raised its daily fixing by 0.05 percent on Friday, after three cuts of more than 1 percent each.
No basis, unless there is. We've got central bankers all over the planet trying to steer the same wheel. I'm not reassured. How about you?

August 14, 2000

I wrote this post a few years back but since today is an especially problematic anniversary, it seems right to use it again. I don't even know how 15 years have passed from this moment. I love you, Mom, and think about you every day.

When the phone rang at 3 a.m. on Monday, August 14, 2000, I knew what it meant. Things had been going badly from the start and we were now at the end. It was my brother on the other end of the line.

"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 send out a tweet, but in 2000 those things weren't around yet.

Since we'd been on vacation on the North Shore the previous week, I'd driven nearly 1,500 miles and was pretty much exhausted. We still were trying to catch up on all the chores we'd set aside from our vacation and so we couldn't leave right away; there was laundry to do, lawns to mow 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 that way. 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, 2015

Poor Ron

It's not easy being Ron Fournier these days, having to break it to us gently:
 For once, Hillary Rodham Clinton seemed to be a decent candidate. Taking aim at weak spots in the GOP lines, she attacked Jeb Bush on women's health, Marco Rubio on abortion, Scott Walker on college costs, and Donald Trump on sexism.

Then the stone wall crumbled around the Queen of Paradox: Hillary Clinton, both a political colossus and a catastrophe. 
He's just broken up about it all:
If the deleted emails can't be recovered, Clinton will never be able to clear her name. Only the most blindly loyal and partisan voters will accept her word and ignore the serial deception. Even people like me who have known and respected Clinton for years will walk into the voting booth asking ourselves, "What is she hiding?"
We all know what she's hiding, actually -- everything. The homebrew server, her feckless conduct as a diplomat, her eternal grifting. It's all coming down on her now.

Many people are speculating that the Obama Justice Department is going to stall out the investigation long enough for Hillary to win. Why would Obama want to do that? He couldn't count on Hillary to protect him. He'd rather have a loyalist like Joe Biden succeed him, or if a Republican has to win, someone who understands the code, like Jeb. The endgame is coming soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It's Raining Mensheviks

Walter Russell Mead, explaining Trump Summer well:
For voters who’ve come to believe that both parties are owned and operated by the kind of people who pay Hillary Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars to make platitudinous speeches, who believe that the system is rigged and will never be reformed, that the candidates offering “real solutions to real problems” are fooling either themselves or, more probably, you, Trump at least offers the satisfaction of making the other rat bastards and pompous PC elites squirm. He laughs at them and makes them look small; he defies their hatred and revels in their pursed-lip disapproval. By incurring the hatred of the chattering classes, he seems to some voters to be signaling both that he hates the empty showmanship of the capital as much as they do and that, by making himself the enemy of the self-determined arbiters of the rules of the political game, he is throwing himself on the support of the American people.
Or, put another way, by another blog commenter:
And yes – I have given up on America. Because a nation is merely a codified philosophical concept contained within a physical set of geographic boundaries.

But look around you. The original version of that has all but faded away entirely. Hell, the elitist class even think that enforced borders are passe.

What’s truly astonishing here is not my stark realism – but rather – your delusional dissonance. Change can come, but not through the status quo of the current political paradigm we’ve been dealt. We cannot rebuild a stable recovery on a rotten foundation.

This thing must be burned down.
In other words, operationally if you doubt that a nihilistic, "burn it down" approach is the proper approach to political change, you are, like me, a bit of a Menshevik in the current context. I get it -- there's a palpable sense of betrayal in watching John Boehner and Mitch McConnell operate. It bothers me, too. Yet I don't possibly see how supporting Trump can advance the cause. Fires are notoriously difficult to control.  And nihilism is for suckers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The great man in retrospect

When we were out in California for our vacation at the end of the year, we were able to visit the Reagan Library. While all presidential libraries are designed to tell the best possible story about the man each honors, the folks in Simi Valley have it pretty easy. Reagan's personal story, and the overall success of his administration, make the case that our 40th president was a great man.

I'm old enough to remember the Reagan era well. At the time he was president, his detractors were legion. One of the more epic rants was Gil Scott-Heron's "B Movie," recorded early in Reagan's first term:

Ol' Gil wasn't too fond of Reagan. A sampling of his, ahem, thoughts:
The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can - even if it's only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse - or the man who always came to save America at the last moment - someone always came to save America at the last moment - especially in "B" movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at -like a "B" movie.
As it happened, the B movie actor was pretty successful, but we didn't necessarily understand it at the time. You heard a lot of Gil Scott-Heron on college campuses in those days, especially mine. We thought his insights were brilliant. Now, 30+ years on, it's clear that  while Scott-Heron was pretty full of himself and wrong about the motivations of the man in the White House, he was right about one thing. We do value nostalgia. We want a great man.

The issue is that a great man only becomes visible in retrospect. Not many people really thought Reagan was great while he was in office. It only became clear after he was gone. It was, and is, a lot easier to identify the warts than to see the qualities that lead to greatness. One thing seems clear enough -- if someone comes to you and presents himself, or herself, as a great man, it's likely that he isn't.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Vehicle, baby

I'm a friendly stranger in a black sedan
Won't you hop inside my car.
I got pictures, got candy
I'm a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star

The Donald remains the belle of the ball, at least among certain noisy portions of the GOP electorate. He's resonating because a lot of people have voted for Republican candidates in recent years, only to see them go along with the Democrats once they get to Washington. The anger is palpable and, in large measure, it's justified. Take it away, Glenn Reynolds:
The rise — and, for that matter, the fall, if fall it is — of Trump is an indictment of the GOP establishment and, for that matter, of the American political establishment in general. And that failure bodes poorly for the future, regardless of what happens to Trump.

Trump’s rise is, like that of his Democratic counterpart Bernie Sanders, a sign that a large number of voters don’t feel represented by more mainstream politicians. On many issues, ranging from immigration reform, which many critics view as tantamount to open borders, to bailouts for bankers, the Republican and Democratic establishments agree, while a large number (quite possibly a majority) of Americans across the political spectrum feel otherwise. But when no “respectable” figure will push these views, then less-respectable figures such as Trump or Sanders (a lifelong socialist who once wrote that women dream of gang rape, and that cervical cancer results from too few orgasms) will arise to fill the need.
I'm your vehicle baby
I'll take you anywhere you wanna go.

If you doubt the anger in the air, just check out some of the comments on righty blogs. There are, as I write this, nearly 900 comments on this anti-Trump post on Hot Air. Here is a representative sample:
Is he or isn’t he [a conservative]? At this point, I don’t care.
He not just pulled back the curtain covering the GOPe, he has ripped it down. (And, no, I am not making a Messianic figure out of him.)
I do not trust Trump. Most of us do not. We are not blind.
But for now, schadenfreude.
The term "GOPe" means, roughly, GOP establishment. That would be John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, like that. But it also means George Will, the editors of the Weekly Standard, and lately the assorted pundits of Fox News. They all have their sinecures and it's a pleasant enough life for them. The sense I get is the base is tired of being patted on the head like a Cocker Spaniel while the self-styled adults in the big room get down to bidness. The anger is real and, in the main, justified.

Well if you want to be a movie star
I'll get a ticket to Hollywood.
But if you want to stay just the way you are
You know I think you really should.

Never mind if it's all contradictory. Never mind that populism always seems to fall short, as William Jennings Bryan demonstrated repeatedly. We're always looking for the Great Man to solve our problems. But we don't want to change; we don't see a need to change. But that's another post.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Another saddled frog discovers the scorpion

We thought he loved us:
This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.
"A sickening new development?" Hardly. Jesse Jackson let fly with such things over 30 years ago. It's tough to find out that your boyfriend doesn't respect you in the morning, I guess.

Friday, August 07, 2015

The first debate

Saw a good chunk of it, but not all. First thing to note -- how much time did each candidate get to speak?

Classy and huge
I saw this and found it interesting on two levels -- first, it goes to show why you need to double-check your impressions. As I was watching, it seemed to me that Ben Carson and Ted Cruz got less airtime than some of the other candidates, but that was actually not true. Second, I do suspect Rand Paul's lack of airtime is both purposeful and problematic. He is the contrarian of the bunch and we needed to hear more of his political philosophy. I know the reason because I've studied libertarian thinkers and thinking, but I would imagine much of the audience doesn't. As for Scott Walker's lack of airtime, I think that's more a function of his style than anything else. He makes his point and moves on. He could have easily had an extra minute of time if he'd chosen to take it, but he didn't.

General impressions, in the order of airtime:

  • Trump is Trump, a force of nature. He talks in generalities and it's clear that he's only renting conservative principles, but his acolytes love him for the same reason why the dudes in the mullets came out for Jesse Ventura in 1998: people perceive him as speaking truth to power. He'll be in this for a while.
  • I'm not convinced that Jeb Bush really wants to be president, but it's his time now, or so he's been told. He actually has a pretty good record in Florida, but he's made a habit of sticking his finger in the eye of the base. I don't see him making it.
  • John Kasich had a home field advantage, since the debate took place in Cleveland, and he used it -- it was clear that the hall had a lot of Kasich acolytes in attendance. Kasich might have the best record of any candidate, but he seems, I don't know, cranky. He spits out his talking points in good fashion but he doesn't seem particularly compelling.
  • Marco Rubio is a talented dude. He also seems callow to me. I really would like him to run for governor of Florida and come back in eight years.
  • Ben Carson is interesting to watch. It takes him a while to rev up, but once he gets going he's pretty good. He's done some remarkable things in his life that are completely unrelated to the job he is seeking. In the end, that disconnect will doom his candidacy. Still, I would like to hear more.
  • Ted Cruz is brilliant, the smartest guy in just about any room. He knows it, too. I think he really belongs on the Supreme Court. 
  • I have never liked Mike Huckabee, because I think he's a charlatan. He's very good behind a podium, though. His "trust but vilify" line concerning the Leader of the Free World was a good one. I still don't trust him.
  • Chris Christie is fun to watch -- his dustup with Rand Paul was the most interesting exchange of the night. He would never admit it publicly, but I think he will regret his embrace of Barack Obama for the rest of his days. He'll never have the trust of the Republican base.
  • As I said, Scott Walker hit his marks and moved on. The interesting comparison for him is Kasich, who is also a Midwestern governor but a generation older and with extensive Washington experience. I suspect Kasich is going to start taking shots at Walker and it will be interesting to see how Walker responds.
  • I like Rand Paul for many reasons. He's the only libertarian in the race and I personally think he got the better of his exchange with Christie. He doesn't come across as forceful on the television screen, however. His voice is adenoidal, which really hurts him.
  • I didn't see any of the matinee event, but the consensus is that Carly Fiorina won going away. I would very much like to see more of her; she's tough-minded and she stays on message better than any of the candidates I've seen. I suspect she'll be in the next debate.
Finally, a word on the Fox News panel asking the questions. From what I can tell, the conservative blogosphere was mightily displeased with the questions and tone of the panel, with particular scorn for Chris Wallace. I didn't mind the tough questions -- when the general election debates take place next year, those are the sorts of questions that will be asked, so it's better that the candidates get used to it.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Meanwhile, back in that same old place

Remember Homan Square, the "off the books" interrogation facility in Chicago, that we briefly heard about in February? The Guardian has stayed on the case and we now know more about what's been happening in the City That Works:
At least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal.

Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.
That's a little, uh, problematic. So is this:
Lawyers and former police officers say that lack of access to a lawyer after the arrest and before booking – particularly during any interrogation, and particularly people from poor minority communities – puts a suspect’s rights in jeopardy.

“In Chicago, the police do not provide people with attorneys at the police station at the times they most need them: when they’re subject to interrogation,” said Craig Futterman of the University of Chicago Law School. “That’s what the Miranda warning is all about: the right to counsel while interrogated by police.”

Even when suspects claim to understand their rights, “they still tend to incriminate themselves” without an attorney present, Lorenzo Davis, a former police detective and attorney who himself commanded a unit at Homan Square, explained.
There's a lot more at the link. It's worth your time.

One day is "later"

So, yesterday I said the criminal probe of Hillary Clinton would come later. Maybe it was only one day later:
The FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unsecured e-mail account is not just a fact-finding venture — it’s a criminal probe, sources told The Post on Wednesday.

The feds are investigating to what extent Clinton relied on her home server and other private devices to send and store classified documents, according to a federal source with knowledge of the inquiry. 
“It’s definitely a criminal probe,” said the source. “I’m not sure why they’re not calling it a criminal probe.

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] and FBI can conduct civil investigations in very limited circumstances,” but that’s not what this is, the source stressed. “In this case, a security violation would lead to criminal charges. Maybe DOJ is trying to protect her campaign.”
Nah, they aren't trying to protect her campaign. My working theory about all this, which is hardly unique, is pretty simple: the current administration doesn't trust the Clintons. They'd rather have someone more loyal be the successor. They'd even settle for a pliant Republican disinclined to make waves, e.g., Jeb Bush.

At bottom, the Clintons are grifters. The Obamas play for keeps.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Under my thumb drive

Here they come, Hillary:
The FBI has begun looking into the security of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail setup, contacting in the past week a Denver-based technology firm that helped manage the unusual system, according to two government officials.

Also last week, the FBI contacted Clinton’s lawyer, David Ken­dall, with questions about the security of a thumb drive in his possession that contains copies of work e-mails Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state.
I wouldn't find this particularly reassuring, either:
The FBI’s interest in Clinton’s e-mail system comes after the intelligence community’s inspector general referred the issue to the Justice Department in July. Intelligence officials expressed concern that some sensitive information was not in the government’s possession and could be “compromised.” The referral did not accuse Clinton of any wrongdoing, and the two officials said Tuesday that the FBI is not targeting her.
The FBI is not targeting her yet. That comes later. As we mentioned yesterday, the most important thing to remember about the Leader of the Free World is that he is a Chicago politician. Among other traits that Chicago politicians share, he is willing to wait until the right moment to drop the bomb. Mrs. Clinton might want to ask David Petraeus about that.

What is the end game? Hard to know, but one thing seems increasingly clear -- Barack Obama does not want his successor to be Hillary Clinton.

Line items

It's all a matter of record keeping, you see:
Asked specifically if this means Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast can change abortion procedures to supply intact fetal specimens, Farrell affirms, “Some of our doctors in the past have projects and they’re collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way that they get the best specimens, so I know it can happen.“

The investigators ask Farrell how she will frame a contract in which they pay a higher price for higher quality fetal body parts, and she replies, “We can work it out in the context of–obviously, the procedure itself is more complicated,” suggesting that “without having you cover the procedural cost” and paying for the abortion, the higher specimen price could be framed as “additional time, cost, administrative burden.”

Farrell finally summarizes her affiliate’s approach to fetal tissue payments: “If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. It’s all just a matter of line items.”
We're all line items on someone's spreadsheet.  And we're all someone's additional time, cost, administrative burden. Eventually.

Human life has value, or it doesn't. And there's a particularly notable overlap between the people who view a fetus as an administrative burden and those who favor certain, ahem, procedures at the end of life. It's all just a matter of line items.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

il miglior fabbro

Victor Davis Hanson, making a point that's obvious to those who have paid attention to the Leader of the Free World's career:
There has been bad blood between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ever since their acrimonious 2008 nomination fight. Hillary should beware: Obama has a long Chicago memory, and as an unfettered lame duck he no longer worries about polls or national elections. Coincidentally, Hillary just learned that federal officials are once again looking into her private e-mail mess and her possible release of classified information to friends and associates. She should remember what happened to General David Petraeus, whose use of private e-mails and sharing of classified documents were apparently known to the Obama administration well before the 2012 election — but mattered more opportunely after the Obama victory, when it led to Petraeus’s resignation and eventual guilty plea to a federal charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified information. In Chicago style, the sword of Damocles falls when the boss chooses.

Even more curious, as Stanley Kurtz has pointed out, the Obama administration is apparently going ahead with its bizarre plan to force elite suburbs to diversify and become more racially proportionate under federal guidance (certain tony enclaves like Oprah’s Montecito or Silicon Valley’s Woodside will no doubt be exempt). Disbursements of federal money will apparently be used to alter zoning laws in wealthier areas, with the purpose of granting access to the underprivileged. Guess which exclusive enclave the Obama administration tried targeting first?

Westchester, N.Y. – home to Hillary Clinton. Pettiness too is a Chicago presidential trait.
Emphasis mine. The most important thing to remember about Barack Obama is that he is a Chicago politician. Read the whole thing.

Establishing a record

Many of the conservatives I know are furious with the Republicans in the Senate because they failed to pass a bill defunding Planned Parenthood yesterday.

You have to play the long game on this one. The organization that has been releasing the videos has been making sure that each video shows behavior that is more reprehensible than what was shown previously. We've gone from callous statements to gruesome images. They know what they are doing, and each subsequent video will be more damning.

Get the politicians on record as supporting what PP is doing. Keep making them vote. I have a feeling that each subsequent vote will be more untenable.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Line of the day

From the invaluable John Hayward, speaking of the astonishing $141 million that the Clintons have raked in over the past 8 years:
Not bad for a couple that produces nothing, adds nothing to the economy, and gets all of their money based solely on political connections. Many of us are old enough to remember when liberals were very, very upset at the thought of rich people running for President – three years ago, to be exact.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The boys

Four well-meaning Catholic boys
I went to Wausau yesterday to see my three best buddies from childhood. The faces you see on the picture are Pat O'Connell, John Gosling, yours truly and Mark Miller. I've known these guys for 40 years or more, which is hard to believe, but the calendar says 2015, so it's true.

We are all graduates of St. Mary's School (1977) and Xavier High School (1981), four Catholic boys from middle-class families in a prosperous town. We had our struggles growing up, but in general it was a pretty good circumstance to come of age in Appleton, Wisconsin, in the 1970s. You don't always realize your good fortune when you are in the middle of it, but we had it pretty good.

We don't get to see each other as much as we'd like, since we all live in different places, but we all are greatly blessed in our own ways -- all four of us have been happily married to our respective spouses for 25 years apiece, give or take a year. All of us have two children apiece, who are all coming along nicely. We have our health, for the most part, and our wits about us.

I spend a lot of time writing about misfortune, perfidy and stupidity. There's plenty of that going around. We need to be thankful for what we have. And I am greatly blessed and especially thankful that these gentlemen are my friends.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

The month of ghosts

I hate August.

For most people, August is pretty good. It's a big vacation month and in Minnesota it is the time of the State Fair, which is always a time of great joy and gastrointestinal excess. It's one of the nicest months in Minnesota, with warm days and comfortable nights. Most people I know like August and it's perfectly reasonable. There's a lot to like.

But not me. I hate August.

In my family, August is the Month of Ghosts. The reason for that? My father passed away nearly 25 years ago, on August 30, 1990, and my mother passed away on August 14, 2000. Even as those events pass further back into the miasma of time, they still hurt.

The funny thing is, this month should be pretty good. I am on the way to Wisconsin today to see my three best friends from childhood, one of whom I haven't seen in 15 years. We'll have a great time, I'm sure, and I am eager to catch up. As a family, we'll have a few more events coming as well. Sometimes it's tempting to think you can take the approach that this song suggests (about September, but never mind that). But that's not how you deal with ghosts. The best way to fight the Month of Ghosts is by adding good memories. And that starts today.