A walk in the woods.


Sometimes I think the reason so much fuss is made over places like Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes is because they’re parts of the Great Lakes shoreline that look different from all the other parts. Kidding. But all of my northern-Michigan pictures feature the same low line of conifers on the horizon, like they’re following me around.

The backpacks are the tell in this week’s Embarrassing Photos — that’s Isle Royale, August 1991. Ten days or so in the backcountry in northern Lake Superior, one of the prettiest and least-visited National Parks in the country. Saw: Moose, pileated woodpeckers, miscellaneous eagles, a snake swallowing a toad, a load of canine poop shot through with hair, which is about as close to one of the island’s wolves as one should ever get. Heard: Loons, the wind whipping across a series of corduroy ridges like ocean waves. Did not hear: Internal combustion engines. Allowed: Nerves to relax, leg hair to grow. The shower when we came out of the country was one of the best of my life. The rest was unsettling, to learn that while we’d been gone there’d been rioting between blacks and Jews in Crown Heights, a coup in the Soviet Union and a tree that fell on J.C. and Sam’s house, nearly cutting it in two.

It sort of made us want to turn around and go back in.

[Pause.] Well, “error establishing database connection” just ate the bottom half of this post. I’m taking that as a sign that it was worthless and weak and starting my Friday chores on schedule, instead of trying to recreate it. Bloggage? Sure:

Roy disposes of the Andrew Sullivan-led Twitter revolution, plus a video. (I actually own that record. Even as a callow youth, I wondered if anyone had actually asked seven-eighths of these people to even play Sun City, so they could refuse.)

Well, now we know why her husband’s staff code-named her “Ghetto:” Monica Conyers can be bought with a pawn-shop shopping spree. Allegedly. In fairness, she also has more upmarket tastes.

And with that, another half-assed effort limps to a close! A few more like this and I may beat this blogging jones after all.

Posted at 10:22 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

50 responses to “A walk in the woods.”

  1. mark said on June 19, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Aaahh, camping! An activity that was educational and somewhat entertaining when I was a child. Tolerable, later, with friends and mood altering substances.

    If a group of popular musicians couldn’t change the world with a song, there is certainly no reason for the leader of the free world to firmly condemn the actions of Iran. Waste of breath. Our new leader will solve problems with the persuasive force of his personality and intellect, unburdened by divisive and simplistic notions of “American values.” As the Supreme Leader just pointed out, how dare America meddle in Iran with Waco, Texas in our own history? More beams for Obama to remove before talking about the other guy’s mote.

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  2. ROgirl said on June 19, 2009 at 11:32 am

    The last time Iranians took to the streets to protest a corrupt, oppressive regime they paved the way for … a corrupt, oppressive regime. Maybe things will change this time around, but it’s hard to believe a lot of people believe that.

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  3. Sue said on June 19, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I was never an enthusiastic camper, but I tried to be a good sport about it, even the wilderness stuff. That came to a stop after the kids arrived and I realized that I got to do the exact same stuff I did at home without the benefit of closely-available hot water and large magic boxes with knobs and buttons that heat and cool and wash and dry things. Did you know that small humans are built very close to the ground so that all that dirt does not have to travel as far?

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  4. Jen said on June 19, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Can you believe I’ve never actually been camping? My family’s idea of “roughing it” is a Holiday Inn Express. My husband’s family, on the other hand, loves camping. I got out of it last summer because my husband had to work every weekend, but I think I might have to go this summer. I told him I’d try it. I don’t know, though – I like the outdoors, and hiking, and all that, but I’m not sure I really want to sleep on the ground in a tent. Couldn’t I do all the outdoor stuff, then stay in a hotel at night?

    As comedian Jim Gaffigan said: “If camping is so great, why are all the bugs trying to get in my house?”

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  5. coozledad said on June 19, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Mark: Perhaps we should simply bomb the lot of them, as McCain blithely suggested. I often wish other countries had meddled in our own stolen election, but theoretically it would have united us behind president Shortbus, or, more likely, in front of him. Since when can Republicans even discuss the necessity of counting the votes, when democracy is anathema to them.
    Seems to me the mullahs are going to be the only people willing to cite Bush v. Gore as a pattern for election management. All them people wantin’ votes counted they’re just a tramplin on poor old Achmedinajad’s freedom. And them protesters over there needs to find ’em a job, don’t they, Billy Bob?

    Your folks ought to cut the mullahs a check: they’ve given future Republican electioneers a new tactic- Just destroy the votes! Then have the Supreme Court-er, ayatollah call the election for the autocrats.

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  6. paddyo' said on June 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Since you mentioned a coupla national park sites, Nance, I’ll just throw in a shameless plug here for my post-newspaper-career employer (14 months and counting) and note that this is a “fee-free” weekend in all 391 national parks, monuments, lakeshores, historical parks, etc., etc. Free admission through the entry gate (although campground fees are not included).
    It’s the first of three such weekends this summer. Read all about it at:

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  7. Sue said on June 19, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    From yesterday’s comments:
    Deb, I’m a transplanted Flatlander, so according to Wisconsin’s constitution, I can never, ever be a Wisconsinite, even if I have a Place Up North and know my way around a deep-fried cheese curd. But it’s a wonderful state and a great place to raise kids.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on June 19, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    What, exactly, are American values? I must be a quart low on `em because I dislike the vast majority of people who evoke them. Then again, I live in Chicago, so I’m not allowed to be a “real American” as defined by the Oracle of Wasilla and her followers.

    Cooz makes a great point about the neocons. They never saw a problem they didn’t want to nuke. Being lectured on the proper response to the situation in Iran by Paul Wolfowitz, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, etc. –men of such epic fail I cannot remember the last time any of them was correct about anything– is rich. Two weeks ago, they’d have been happy to see missiles and bombs raining down on Tehran and killing the very people they now lionize for marching in the streets. Now, Obama is a pussy for not getting personally involved.

    A pox on all the chickenhawk neocons. They’ve written a chapter of American history with the blood of others. May they all rot in hell. . .if it exists.

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  9. Connie said on June 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Long ago on my 40th birthday I announced I would no longer sleep on the ground. Never occurred to my guy to buy me an air mattress, he just went camping with the kid.

    Paddyo, I rushed to your link to see if one of the free weekends would coincide with my last week in July at Sleeping Bear. No such luck. And I am always happy to pay my $10.

    Sue are you there in August again?

    This has been a most stressful year at work, (property tax reform and unemployment overload)and I am ready for some peace and relaxation at the beach. Especially since I hear there has been a new stairs built to my former favorite beach, which I had to quit visiting a few years ago due to bluff erosion. I was not up to rappeling to get there.

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  10. beb said on June 19, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I wonder, if the camerman had turned around, would we have seen all the snow that was in last week’s picture?

    About the only camping I remember was when m parents took the family on a two week tour of the East. We stayed in tents each night until we arrived at friends and family we could crash at. When you’re ten, roughing it is not so back. It’re when you realize that elephants can get up off the grond veasier than I can that the idea of camp was firmly snuffed out. Also, I’m not big on the idea that a toliet is a hole behind some trees.

    Pawnstore jewelry? Man, that woman is low rent!

    And the Washington Post, in an effort to “improve its business model” (cough! cough!) has has fried Dan Froomkin, probably the only reporter to give Obama as much pain as he gave Bush. However he apparently had a spat with right-wing crazy Charles Krauthammer last week over torture. Apparently, like Limbaugh, Krauthammer is an intouchable.

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  11. LAMary said on June 19, 2009 at 12:36 pm



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  12. 4dbirds said on June 19, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Meh. I was in the army. Enough camping to last a lifetime.

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  13. Sue said on June 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Connie – yes I will be there in August. For my computer background, I have a photo of the beach as seen from our rental, so every day I can look at late-afternoon sunshine and shade on Glen Lake. What beach do you go to? And have you heard how the construction is going on the road at the Narrows?
    And… how’s the campaign going to get Brian Stouder to join the Glen Lake/Sleeping Bear Dunes club?
    LAMary, as always, Gawker commenters deliver: “Why is there a stream of urine pouring from that gingerbread house?”

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  14. LAMary said on June 19, 2009 at 1:08 pm


    Note the phrase “painter of light.”

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  15. Jolene said on June 19, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Nance, I’m curious. What’s your beef w/ Andrew Sullivan?

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  16. James said on June 19, 2009 at 1:10 pm


    Great minds think alike.

    I wrote and drew this yesterday.

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  17. coozledad said on June 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Sue: Kinkaid is a well known public urinator. The iconic elements of that painting are knit tightly with its narrative structure. The master has just returned to work ripping his daughter’s Disney posters off the wall of her playhouse (which he’s expropriated as studio space), in yet another fit of anti-Walt pique.
    Sweating profusely in the heat of numerous halogen worklights, he pauses occasionaly to knock back a swig of Green-Label Jack Daniels and scream bitterly “I AM the king of happy paintings. I am the master of light!” Before he crumples from dehydration in a puddle of his own urine, which leaks out over his yard and onto the sidewalks of Carmel, CA.

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  18. ROgirl said on June 19, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    A lot of chimneys for such a small cottage. Very odd looking too, with their streams of smoke going straight up — rather phallic. Another commenter goes into his drunken antics at signings and at Disneyland. Hilarious.

    Apparently Henry Kissinger has said that Obama is taking the right approach towards Iran. Has Rush drummed his ass out of the party already?

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  19. Jolene said on June 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Whew! LAMary, you might want to check out TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/

    Thanks, though, for the link to Vermeer. Light, indeed. See also Edward Hopper.

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  20. LAMary said on June 19, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    The roof looks like it’s covered with fur.

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  21. coozledad said on June 19, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    James: Yup. A commenter over at Roy’s made a good point: Achmedinajad’s base is made up of rurals, fundamentalists, military hard liners, oil-wealthy former Pasdaran. What’s a Republican not to love?
    I’m afraid it’ll wind up like Tianenmen Square. They’ll call the douchebags in from the sticks to do the killing.
    By the way- excellent work. My art teacher used to tell me I had the makings of a painter, except for the abject lack of drawing skills.

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  22. Connie said on June 19, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Sue, based on where I think you stay you may have our cottage in that pic. We are just a few doors east of the old Dairy Bar next to Shady Shores. And I hear the narrows bridge will be closed all summer, which means any trips to Glen Arbor for us will involve driving around a Glen Lake. Most likely Little Glen.

    The new stairs is at the Lane Rd. dead end on Pyramid Point. I still have an entire bag of petoskey stones found there one day with my mother and my aunt. (My mom died 18 years ago, and it would have been many years before that.) It was always the best rock hunting beach.

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  23. Danny said on June 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    You know, Mark, though I consider myself conservative in many ways, I’m still holding out hope for President Obama. I think he needs at least 6-18 months before we can start to get a sense of his contributions.

    I listen critically and in great moderation to any right-leaning talking heads. A week or so ago, I heard someone discussing how President O was post-American and that he did not subscribe to the “Doctrine of American Exceptionalism” … and I thought, “So what?” I remember when President Bush (then Governor) during a debate with VP Gore explained how he thought America needed to be more modest in it’s approach to the international community and that we should eschew “nation building.” When I heard that, it made sense. Of course, that went out the window (at least to some extent, necessarily, I would argue) after 9/11, but I think it is still a worthy stance.

    I’m all for America being exceptional by being a model of modesty and reticence. Let our greatness be our intelligence, compassion and meekness, not our words and saber-rattling. Let other nations sing our praise or not. Other nations can sometimes figure things out for themselves too, right? Less of our government intervention in other nations governing seems a pretty conservative idea to me.

    Although I don’t agree with some of his moves thus far (e.g. spending), right now, the biggest problem for President O (somewhat ironically) is the fact that he has a very complicit, lap-dog Press. People know this and are not going to like this for very much longer.

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  24. Jolene said on June 19, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Couldn’t one of you nice people from Indiana do something to bring an end to the career of Mike Pence? Maybe get him a post as the overseer of all farmers’ markets in the state–not that I’d want to inflict him on the farmers. He is as stupid as a stick, and, for some reason, the TV people are always asking him what he thinks.

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  25. jeff borden said on June 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm


    Well-said. No, brilliantly said. I agree with every syllable.

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  26. paddyo' said on June 19, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    One more outdoors note, campers:
    Sunday, besides being the Summer Solstice, also is National Naked Hiker Day, or Naking Hiking Day, depending on local parlance:

    There’s already some buzz about what National Park Service rangers may encounter out there during this free weekend.
    Needless to say, use sunscreen …

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  27. Rana said on June 19, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Jolene, alas. Pence seems freakishly well-ensconced.

    I would argue that he’s more stupid than a stick, judging by the letters his office sends back to me. His belief that we can drill our way to energy independence is particularly obdurate and ludicrous.

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  28. 4dbirds said on June 19, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    OMG he’s painting Nascar scenes now. http://www.thomaskinkade.com/magi/servlet/com.asucon.ebiz.catalog.web.tk.CatalogServlet?catalogAction=Product&productId=206325&menuNdx=0

    This past weekend, I was in Atlantic City playing in a poker tournament at the Borgata when Paris Hilton showed up for a club date. She gets paid hahuge bucks for these appearances. I wish I could turn back the clock say to my 16 year old self “Self you need to go into the schlocky painting profession or the go to parties profession because that’s where the money is”.

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  29. ROgirl said on June 19, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    He’s the next Leroy Neiman.

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  30. Catherine said on June 19, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I’m a little concerned that a Vermeer link can co-exist on a thread with a Thomas Kinkade link. And on a site with at least one Cezanne link (loved that, LAMary).

    And just to pull together months worth of comments, elsewhere I saw TK referred to as “The Painter of Shite.”

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  31. Dexter said on June 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Nothing looks so out of place and lonesome as Mighty Mac from the road around Mackinac Island as you pedal along.
    And if you long for the conifers, take a drive up to Newberry, and drive some stretches on routes 28, 2, 123 in the U.P. —seemingly never-ending desolation and pine trees.

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  32. Sue said on June 19, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Well, if I’m going to purchase tacky art, I’m going to do it with some style:

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  33. LAMary said on June 19, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    How does TK work Jesus imagery into his NASCAR scenes? Oh, come to think of it, it’s probably pretty easy and works perfectly for his demographic.

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  34. mark said on June 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm


    I haven’t given up hope on Obama on foreign policy, though the early signs aren’t encouraging to me. I’m not sure they have figured out what to do yet, in which case doing little is fairly wise until you sort things out.

    I’m not critical of Obama’s response to the Iranian elections and aftermath because I don’t have the information to understand his approach. The tepid response could be fully consistent with the “realists” approach, but I don’t see the Obama people as disciples of Morgenthau. Maybe Clinton. If, for reasons we wouldn’t necessarily be privy to, the Administration thinks it can make short term progress on the nuclear issue with the current regime, it’s probably wise not to rock the boat over less immediate concerns.

    My impression, though, is that Obama overestimates the extent to which events are driven by personalities.

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  35. mark said on June 19, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    danny (part 2)

    And I guess I’m not as much of a relativist when it comes to America. Compared to almost all other countries, we are the “shining city on a hill,” and the handful that compete mostly benefit from our disproportionate shouldering of collective burdens or responsibilities.

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was very easy to think that we could take a breather and no longer compete with the same vigor either for influence or to promote democracy. While others might continue to suffer in the various hellholes of the world, our lives would be relatively unthreatened.

    The unappreciated rise of radical islam and the predictable spread of and improvements upon technologies of destruction may have changed things. Regardless of how or why we got into Iraq, the experiment now is whether a democracy can grow in the middle east, whether it spreads, and whether it deradicalizes (if there is such a word) the region.

    Living in the US and living under the mullahs of Iran are not, IMO, two equally weighted sides of the same coin.

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  36. moe99 said on June 19, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I’m certainly not interested in continuing to pay for the debacle in Iraq except via reparations to those who have been harmed by our unjustified and unprovoked attack on that country.

    Get over it. We are not the world’s nursemaid or patrol cop. Once we get our own act together, then let’s talk about the rest of the world. But we’ve got more domestic problems than we can shake a stick at, and unless there is some country out there who is in immediate danger of attacking us, we do not have a decent justification for further aggressive action.

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  37. jeff borden said on June 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm


    When I think of the lost opportunities in the wake of 9/11, I almost weep. The civilized world was united in its support of the U.S. and its revulsion at the cowardly attacks while the wreckage still smoldered. The opportunity was there for a sustained, global approach to the issue of terrorism in general and radical Islam in particular.

    And our conservative leaders blew it. They blew it big time. . .like losing your house on a coin flip. What’s most galling was the absolute incompetence melded with the preening arrogance of the chickenhawk cheerleaders, who continue to shirk responsibility for the enormous cost of blood, treasure and prestige for which they alone are responsible.

    They believed they would show the world how big and tough and imperious we were. Instead, they proved just the opposite. Our nation is weaker and poorer by far than it was when they took over. They’re bastards. They deserve serious jail time, but at the very least, they should be shunned by their fellow countrymen.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 19, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Yeah, because fighting an efficient and well thought through war would have been so easy and straightforward if Al Gore had been elected president.

    Enough of that — not that i’m wanting to maintain an Obama lovefest from the right, but i got back from Cub Scout Day Camp this afternoon *just* in time to hear a simply marvelous speech from President Barack Nobodyelsecouldmakethatspeech Obama on fatherhood and Father’s Day. Truly heartfelt, on point, and uplifting without being unrealistic about the obstacles we still face. 4 of 10 kids are born out of wedlock, and saying “that really doesn’t matter” had no traction anywhere in Obama’s extremely moving personal testimony, which he used to open a dialogue on policy that affirmed traditional values without getting overly concrete on traditional forms, which strikes me as reasonable and appropriate for a president to avoid (mommy, daddy, poochie, kittie, and 2.3 kiddies on the swingset just doesn’t work as a policy description default).

    Could i put my rightwingnut tinfoil hat on and kvetch that he didn’t talk about the sources of the parenting dilemma we’re in? Actually, no, because i’d think Mike Huckabee or Mike Pence would be wasting time to make that part of the public dialogue, and i can’t imagine how Obama or Joe Biden could usefully go there even if they wanted to, and i’m sure they don’t.

    Today’s speech by Obama was part of why i’m still a bit hopeful about the impact overall of this administration, creeping socialism aside. The speech in Cairo, in my opinion, was identical to speeches Bush made, but it does, in fact, sound different coming from Barack Hussein Obama; what he clearly wants to say about the commitment of fatherhood and the need for communities and social groups to affirm responsible male behavior and, neatly alluded to without getting muddily specific, condemning irresponsibility among some men, simply could not be said by a Bush or McCain (or Palin).

    Plus, Democrat or Republican, we need to find new metaphors beyond William James’ accursed “moral equivalent of war” for efforts on things like poverty, fatherhood, and health care. Obama’s team may get some reframing done that, in turn, can only be finished off and painted and sold by Republicans. Right now, i’m very proud of our president — check out his speech at http://www.whitehouse.gov. Worth a read.

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  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Seriously, you want to read this: Obama’s remarks at the Fatherhood Town Hall.

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  40. moe99 said on June 20, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Just saw The Visitor starring Richard Jenkins. Very touching film.

    And it is a blue moon when I agree with someone at the American Conservative, but I do:

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I’ll see your “thirty years of bankrupt Iran policy” and raise you “fifty years of ignorant, ill informed Middle Eastern policy,” and no, i don’t mean support of Israel (which i think can be reasonably defended from 1948 through the present, given the original “facts on the ground” in 1947).

    There’s been so little comprehension of the actual polis of Arab nationhood, the practical side of Islamic theology(ies), the demographics of Moslem regions vis a vis Persian and Turkish, and an utter, willful denial of the economics of oil *within* the Middle East, let alone between that region and the rest of the world — but in sum, i agree (tho’ i don’t often with Larison, who is Rod Dreher on a full bottle of brandy) that Obama has so few options today because of the hand the last few decades have dealt him.

    Only an idiot could say he’s been “silent.” He’s clearly being guarded, in such a way that at each juncture, players all around the table are listening closely to what he will or won’t say next. He’s in the game, which is where he ought to be, but not pushing the bidding, which he shouldn’t.

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  42. crinoidgirl said on June 20, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    And now for something completely different – John Hodgman roasts Mr. Obama at the Radio & TV Correspondents’ Dinner:


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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 21, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Check the YouTube sidebar on that for Obama’s remarks, too.

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  44. moe99 said on June 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Happy father’s day to all you dads out there! Hope the weather’s good and you have something cooking on the bbq.

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  45. Jolene said on June 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Another puppycam!

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  46. Jolene said on June 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    The brilliant Tom Ricks sneers at Tom Pence.

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  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Ditto Moe’s wish, and — i got a dvd of “Pride & Prejudice”! (The new one with Keira Knightly.) You can tell ties are ded, dead, Dead.

    My apologies to any dad who got a tie; i’ll loan you my dvd when we’ve watched it. Unfortunately, the way this summer is going, that will be Labor Day.

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  48. brian stouder said on June 21, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Well, I got a small air compressor for Father’s day; not sure if Pam was making a slyly sarcastic point – but a handy machine nonetheless.

    We went to Logansport for the weekend, and as it happens, Pam’s uncle (only 56!) suddenly died Friday (another story), so that lead to a fairly somber Father’s Day weekend.

    And, coincidentally, I noticed a newly-added sign on US-24 near where one turns to head to Pam’s folks’ place. It said “Potawatomi Trail of Death” in large letters, with “Regional Historic Trail” beneath a silhouette of a (presumeably) Potawatomi dad and a mom with a baby on her back, and with a bird wheeling above them (one supposes it’s a noble eagle and not a hungry vulture).

    I was so taken with that, that the girls and I headed back to snap a photo – but the sign on US-24 is in a place where no sane person would stop; so we proceeded about 10 miles down the Trail of Death to another marker, in a spot further from the road, and got our photo.

    It did cause me to google, and I came up with this


    Anyway – it sparked discussion amongst Grant and Shelby and I, about cruelty and racism and America and Andy Jackson…Shelby asked what would have happened if a Barack Obama could have been president back then – and (after discussing the impossibility of anyone but a white male gaining the office 170 years ago) that lead the discussion to President Lincoln – and the cataclysmic upheaval that followed his election.

    Anyway, I had heard of “Trail or Tears”, but come to think of it, “Trail of Death” sounds infinitely more honest

    (if Pam posts the photo, I’ll link to it)

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  49. Connie said on June 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Brian, somewhere on the back roads between Columbia City and Shipshewana there is a little park called Indian Kitchen. According to the historical marker it was the site of a kind of last dinner before the forced march out of Indiana began.

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  50. brian stouder said on June 22, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Somehow, this story ties in…


    an excerpt –

    The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by descendants of Apache leader Geronimo, whose remains were purported to be stolen long ago by members of a secret society at Yale University.


    Both Presidents Bush, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and many others in powerful government and industry positions are members of the society, which is not affiliated with the university.

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