Coming back from the gym this morning, I encountered an 18 wheeler with a flatbed trailer, stuck on a narrow West Village street, trying to navigate between the fancy cars parked on both sides. I asked the driver if eyes outside the truck would help. He was happy to tell me where to look while he steered the truck back and forth in an effort to straighten out the trailer without smooshing anybody's fine examples of German luxry auto manufacturing.  [Read more]
When I first heard that Rev. Marvin Winans (of the gospel-singing Winans klan) refused to receive and Bless a child before his congregation because the child was born out of wedlock, I thought it was just another one of those ridiculous urban legends, because no Black minister could be that pompously out of touch with reality (I specified "Black minister" because Pat Robertson is White, and I’m not surprised at anything he does), and certainly no one with as high a public profile as Marvin Winans could possibly be that big a fool. [Read more]
Ted Cruz, that notorious commie-hunting senator from Texas channeling a certain notorious mid-20th century commie-hunting senator from Wisconsin, is just one in a long line of rock star politicians who think they've latched onto the best way to get their cockamamie ideas across: Get out there and make shocking accusations against either individuals or authority with such astounding stagecraft, the press, the media--indeed, a sizable section of the population--will become such slathering groupies they wo [Read more]
The NSA's answer to charges that it spies on the phone calls of citizens in the European Union is that it isn't spying, it is analyzing information provided to it by the intelligence agencies of allied governments. See, the NSA doesn't spy on Spanish people's phone calls. Spain does. Then they tell the NSA all about it. Glad we cleared that up.
This is very close to a defense of the metadata collection that the NSA engages in at home -- the NSA doesn't "collect" the data, says the argument, the phone companies do. Then they tell the NSA all about it. I'm not sure why that's supposed to make me think differently about the whole endeavor, but it works for some people. [Read more]
A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday, I was in the check out line at a local store. Just ahead of me was a lady checking out only she was over her budget and was having items taken off the bill. It took a while but I was not in a hurry. Shopping is just about the only thing I do to get out of the house these days, so I don't rush through it. After she got her over spending adjusted, she discovered she had left her EBT card at home. I could see her embarrassment in her face as she apologized. She said she would come back in a few minutes. There was tears in her eyes as she left the store. So all of us were switched to another register and I asked the young man checking me out if he thought she would come back. He said yes because she was a regular customer. Her tears of shame bothered me all day. In my head I had visions of her being a single mom that is over worked and tired. I think it is time that our politicians stop shaming people for being in need of SNAP and do something to remove that need. [Read more]
I've been away at an academic conference for nearly a week, leaving blog posts unfinished, e-mail unanswered, and campus office untenanted. I had a wonderful time with a bunch of scholars and actors at the American Shakespeare Center's reproduction of Shakespeare's Blackfriars playhouse. (If you'd like to see some excellent theater, a trip to see the ASC's company in Staunton, Virginia, is a great idea.) But I also bumped up against a small problem that's began to follow me wherever I go professionally: the problem of my (real) name.
(1) Merkel's now famous or infamous cell phone has apparently been 'monitored' since 2002, initiated by, I assume, white guys in the Bush administration. No one has asked who authorized that action. It was before she was Chancellor. She apparently was put on the NSA 'list' when she became an important politician in Germany. This would lead one to believe that this could have been a very long list, perhaps 'a routine intelligence' procedure, NSA business as usual, and furthermore, the program involved may date back to well before 2002. [Read more]
Well thank you so very much.
You are still going to hell you know, it is just that they might give you a nicer room!
Goodnews, it appears he still has feelings in all of his extremities.
(6:05 PM CDT, GB V CLEVELAND; CBS)
I wished to simply discuss the senility of George Will. Hahahaha [Read more]
This morning I was not feeling 100% and so I skipped the very cool calisthenics class I like to take on Wednesdays for the more tender embrace of the elliptical machine. Unfortunately, this meant that I did my silly walk while facing CNN with the sound off but closed captioning on. It is very funny to watch report after report, rendered by CNN's botched, real time closed captioning, about how Kathleen Sebelius should resign her cabinet post because the Obamacare website hasn't worked. [Read more]
Note: Thanks to Alan Colmes, I am now a regular contributor on his website, Liberaland. He posted this piece this morning, so if you're interested in reading the complete piece it continues over there. Thanks.
In the next town over from us the recycling station is in a huge semi-trailer. You have to climb six narrow metal steps to get up into it, but there is an aisle you can walk down and there are huge open boxes in which to throw your stuff.  [Read more]
Set against the government’s shutdown charade, President Obama, awarded the Medal of Freedom to retired Army Captain William Swenson, citing among his incredible acts of valor under fire, “a simple act of compassion & loyalty to a fellow brother-in-arms.” As Captain Swenson places a wounded soldier he has just rescued onto a helicopter, he bends down &, in the President’s words, does “something unexpected”: kisses his comrade on his forehead. All recorded from a rescue pilot’s helmet video camera, now displayed before the public during the White House ceremony. [Read more]
A big fear among investors and people running actual businesses in the U.S. is that at some point, interest rates must rise from historic lows. This must happen, in part, because nothing lasts forever. But behind that truism, there is a lot that could cause rates to rise. [Read more]
When the vote to reopen the government ended in the House of Representatives last night a woman staffer grabbed a microphone and as she was rudely escorted from the hall she imparted to the crowd snippets of her religious beliefs along with epithets against the Freemasons. When the overseers of an institution act like inmates it is not surprising that the inmates become the normal ones.  [Read more]
Leaving aside the usual suspects--the terrorist factions round the world, the seething Middle East mountain and desert folk--who are President Obama's worst enemies? The Republicans who saw it as their mission to keep him from winning a second term but failed? Those 30 members of the House and the Tea Party now holding the country hostage over an already approved health care plan nicknamed after this president? The Religious Righteous? The far Left disillusioned? The whites-only-as-long-as-they're-not-women crowd?
“A plague on both houses!” I've seen that line from Romeo and Juliet quoted repeatedly for the last two weeks, as pundits and bloggers devoted to “balance” argue that the Democrats and Republicans share the blame for the current budget shutdown and the looming threat of default. The line itself is a cliche, but quoting Shakespeare makes you sound learned, and that is too often the major aim of both-sides-do-it journalism: making the journalist seem wise and above the inconvenient facts of the fray. Shakespeare was a poet, not a pundit, more interested in dramatic complexity than sound bites but if we’re going to mine his plays for lessons, we should remember what we’re quoting. [Read more]
At the Value Voters Summit today, Mr. Ben Carson curiously juxtaposed the practice of Slavery with "Obamacare", saying: "Obamacare is the worst thing since Slavery". Because Slavery preceded the Emancipation Proclamation (I grant myself license to, as Mr. Carson was wont to do, riff a bit on what can actually be called a thing)---it would mean that Obamacare is worse than the Emancipation Proclamation---perhaps a question for further debate at the Values Summit---and at the same time one could say that Obamacare is worse than Woman's Suffrage, Prohibition, & Roe v. Wade. or any thing that's happened since about the year 1600. [Read more]
Flavia has a post about her writing process, with many thought-provoking comments from her readers, and Dame Eleanor Hull posts a great deal about the academic writing life. I find that I can't give a clear account of my writing process right now, if by "writing process" we mean my composition process. But I have learned, through difficult trial and error, that I need three things to keep my writing going well:
1. Something accepted but not yet in print.
2. Something submitted but not yet accepted.
The Republican effort to defund “Obamacare” is like playing chicken with a wall. The Senate Democrats will never vote against health care legislation they spent decades to pass. The voters will punish Republican legislators if they shut down the government or default on the debt. Whether the Republicans crash or swerve, this game has no positive outcome for them.
So why are they doing it? [Read more]
Twenty years ago, while I was talking politics with my friend Mike, he said that Reagan's great achievement was what he called "the Nietzschification of the Right." I didn't grasp what he meant at first, since I typically encountered Nietzsche quoted by leftist literary critics. Mike's point was that Reagan had transformed American conservatism from a stodgy, rationalist enterprise into an emotional, charismatic movement like the New Left of the 1960s. Main Street conservatism gave way to Movement Conservatism, founded upon passionate emotion and conviction. I've thought of that conversation a lot over the last two decades, through the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich, the second Bush Presidency, and the flood tide of the Tea Party. [Read more]
There are two kinds of borrowers who default on their debts. One type defaults because they cannot pay. It is typical to say that they have over borrowed but it is easily as likely that some sort of catastrophe has destroyed the borrower's earnings power, perhaps permanently. Then there are defaults of choice. A borrower decides not to pay, even if they have the means. Perhaps they feel that they were swindled by the lender and that the debt is thus invalid. Or, maybe they just don't want to pay. [Read more]