Hot time in the old town.

It was hot this weekend. How hot was it? Here’s one of the neighbors at Alex’ house:

Alex said he’s never seen a squirrel relax like this. I have, once. It was on a picnic table, and it was stretched out, belly down, in much this fashion. It was also on a hot day. Spriggy would stretch out like this, terrier-style, but almost always on a cool surface, like a tile floor, or even wood. That picnic table wasn’t cool, but maybe it was, relative to everything around it.

Or maybe squirrels know the behavior, but aren’t good about applying it. Little pea-brains.

It was a hot weekend, yes. Mid-90s, horrible humidity. We went to the lake Friday, our staging ground for a run to Fort Wayne Saturday, then home again Sunday. Kate wanted to see her friends. Alan hadn’t been back since we left. Good news: Our house was sold, downtown looks great, I got a mint-condition large-folio collection of New Yorker cartoons in the Friends of the Library shop for $8. (God, I miss that library. The recent expansion and remodel cost $80 million, and required a tax increase. The usual suspects whined and passed petitions for a remonstrance. Why do we need a fancy library when we have the internet, etc. etc. blah blah blah. I would hear none of it. All my damn life my tax money has gone to support stadiums I will never set foot in. Just once I wanted a big fancy public-works project for people like me, and I got it. And then we moved. Sigh.)

The bad news: The south side is looking pretty… what’s the word? Oh yes: Detroity. Our neighborhood grocery, closed. Our neighborhood Italian restaurant, closed. Our neighborhood fancy restaurant, closed. General Electric factory, closed. Lots of plywood, lots of For Sale or Lease. The recession hasn’t been kind to any city, but it’s been especially tough on Midwest manufacturing centers.

But we saw our old neighbor, Deb, and sat outside in the shade in her lavish new outdoor kitchen, watching her goldfish swim in her new outdoor pond. She was seeing a contractor for a while. I told Alan that if anything happened to him, that’s where I’d be hanging around — construction bars, making eyes at guys in tool belts. And we saw Alex, and marveled at his place in summertime. I’d only seen it in winter, and needed to behold the enormous vegetable garden and flower garden and boat lift and outdoor fireplace. The vegetable garden has an electric fence and metal plates driven a foot deep at the perimeter to discourage chipmunks, but they get in anyway. Suggestions welcome, I’m sure.

And then home, where a line of thunderstorms passed through and blew some of the heat away, so I can commence Manic Monday with a relatively dry scalp. Some bloggage:

Roger Ebert on BP. Simple, sane, bewildered — as are we all.

Why I love the British newspapers, chapter infinity. Imagine pitching this story to an American editor: “I’d like to ask a variety of prominent artists about how Caravaggio influenced their work.” “News peg?” “None.” “Sounds great!” Would never happen.

The Wikileaks doc dump on Afghanistan is today. This New York magazine piece has several links within. Read, wail and commence gnashing teeth. I don’t know what else to do. Except get to work. So that’s where I’m heading.

Posted at 9:16 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

50 responses to “Hot time in the old town.”

  1. coozledad said on July 26, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Too bad they couldn’t have snagged Coppola to talk about chiaroscuro in The Godfather films. But they were probably afraid he’d have started to drone on about the qualities of his rosso.

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  2. brian stouder said on July 26, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Well, darn. We were three counties away all week, or else ‘if I knew you were comin’ I’d a baked you a cake!’ Speaking of public institutions (other than sports arenas), one thing I accomplished this past week was finally (finally!!) finding Thelma’s Cass County Historical Museum open; spent a few hours in there reading and looking and wandering. It’s housed in an early-19th century home (not to say mansion), which is half the show. The various displays are spread out on the main floor, and upstairs, and in the basement. I was the only visitor (Pam and the young folks begged off, for some reason), and had an exceptionally pleasant converstation with two of the docents, but Thelma wasn’t there. I felt like I owed her an apology, but then again, we should probably let sleeping dogs (and squirrels) lie, eh?

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  3. John G. Wallace said on July 26, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Sounds like you are describing the Fairfield Avenue area. Lived there when we were first married, had a cute lil house on LaJolla Ct. The neighbor started to die in earnest when the old Lutheran Hospital closed. Hospitals offer a buffer zone in marginal neighborhoods, case in point N.Y. Presbyterian in Washington Heights.
    I wish more people in Ft. Wayne would treasure those amazing houses in that area and around Rudisill Blvd. Screw Aboite, I’d much rather live in an old brick tudor in a neighborhood with trees. Provided it wasn’t Fort Apache.
    It’s a moot point now – when the two female native born Hoosiers in my family started hating Indiana even more than me (kudos to Bluffton and the Apostolics) I managed to fix the warp drive after 6 years and we are now living in the 21st century, in Indian River County,Florida, where you can buy fresh seafood, use central air for half of what it costs in Indiana, and swim in the ocean for free.
    Don’t tell Hoosiers that my town has about 15 free boat launches and huge parking lots for free for the trailers.

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  4. Jeff Borden said on July 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

    We have become a country governed by and for business. Period. Part of this relates to the traditional conservative mantra that the marketplace will solve all problems, but really, it’s the massive amounts of money that grease the wheels of power. Time and again, we learn laws and regulations and guidelines have been written to the specifications of the industries they are intended to cover.

    It ain’t gonna change anytime soon, either. The Page 1 story in the NYT yesterday about the Roberts court lays out a grim future in which more and more power accrues to the already powerful while the marginalized and the weak will only get more marginalized and weaker. Roberts is a healthy man in his mid-50s. We likely will be living with him for the next 30 years.

    I wonder what our country will look like then?

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  5. nancy said on July 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

    John, I’m glad you ended up somewhere nice. You echo my feelings on the south side perfectly. There was an arts-and-crafts house on Kinnaird that I always considered my dream: Front door on the side, leading into a big living room and solarium along the sidewalk, facing south. Stucco, oak to die for, the whole nine. At one point it was on the market for $110K, probably you could get it for considerably less now. And yes, the hospital exit started the spiral. The park the Lutherans left behind is pretty thin gruel, and not much to look at, IMO. A splash pad, a path and religious statuary. Big whoop.

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  6. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I’ve seen squirrels relax like that lots of times. On the interrupted white line. Sorry.

    Hospitals and neighborhoods is an interesting subject. My dad was Chief of Pediatrics at Metropolitan Hospital, I think at Thirteenth and Tuxedoe, one or two blocks from Twelfth and Indiandale, where the blind pig was where the riot started, and where there was a Panthers safe house. They’ve probably changed the street names. That was not a stable neighborhood, even though the UAW was a dedicated client. Prone to inflagrations and $4.50 gallons of milk.

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  7. Rana said on July 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I’ve seen the squirrels doing that stretching out thing here – maybe it’s hotter here? Or the squirrels lazier and cockier?

    I think the most impressive animal heat index indicator is panting birds. I first saw this one summer in Minnesota – birds at the feeder and water dish, beaks agape, panting. So now “bird pant hot” is my code for freakin’ miserable hot.

    Worst heat ever? One summer day in Chicago. We foolishly decided to visit the botanical gardens… and ended up moving like ninety-year-olds from one tiny patch of shade to the next, where we would pause for about five-ten minutes to regain our strength for the next twenty-foot stretch. Glah.

    I’ve gotten better about coping with heat and humidity (I no longer try to cool off by putting wet bandanas on my head), though I’ve yet to learn to just avoid it. Saturday a friend asked me to help her plant shrubs; by the end of the day we were moving very slowly, at a pace of three shovelfuls of dirt before breaking for water and shade, then another three, and so on. Went home, showered, discovered that there had been a heat advisory with a heat index in the 100s, with everyone advised to stay indoors. Yeesh.

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  8. brian stouder said on July 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    And speaking of Lutheran Hospital, if you roll past their palatial new* facility (or campus, as they say) in the southwest, you will note that they are adding another floor atop the main building! But they must, you see, since Parkview is building their new mega-palace up north, which means bad times for West State street, when they shutter the existing facility. (they say they won’t do that, which of course means the train has left the station)

    Anyone who doubts the need for government intervention in the healthcare industry doesn’t have to look much past Fort Wayne’s hospitals to see that we need something as big and powerful as that, to stand up to the striped-suit guys who make these decisions. My theory is – Lutheran and Parkview are nominally “non-profit” organizations; so that when the fiscal year ends and they have a train-car load of cash laying around, they have to figure out a way to spend it all – so as not to show a profit. Hence, (in my lifetime anyway) there has never been a time when the hospitals haven’t been pouring cement and erecting steel and buying new property and moving ever further away from me.

    *The “New” Lutheran will always be “new” to me, even though I suppose it’s 20 years old by now

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  9. derwood said on July 26, 2010 at 11:03 am

    We had squirrels that would lay like that looking right into our pictre window where our 8 cats would be going nuts. Never bothered the squirrels though.

    Brian…isn’t Lutheran a profit hospital? I thought they were bought along with St Joeseph years ago…I could be wrong it’s been a number of years since we lived in FW.


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  10. Sue said on July 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Off topic, but something for all you bicyclers out there. You all sound like the kind of people who would have a blast at a 24-hour bike race and block party.

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  11. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Back in 1990, it reached 100 degrees every day for the entire month of July in Athens GA. I cleared what was basically a privet and Kudzu jungle in front of my mom and dad’s house, probably 1/2 an acre, with a roto-tiller and planted 30 some azaleas. Ridiculed by friends and family alike. They live, to this day. Actually, they thrive. Intense heat is both frangible and manageable. And it’s way better than freezing toes waiting for a train. That sucks.

    Climate change is undeniable if you aren’t an idiot, and the potential for damage to the way we all live is obvious. But weather? CS Lewis had the best idea. Weather’s weather, and we just enjoy it as it comes. It might be vexing, or felicitous, it’s there one way or another, it’s the quintessence of vicissitude, so enjoy it and jump in the cool shower after the sweaty bike ride and hang those damp clothes on the line.

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  12. Pam said on July 26, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Unfortunately, I did not get much art education while in school. So when I went to Italy with the girlfriends, it was – Madonna and Child, Madonna and Child, Another Madonna and Child, Different Take on Madonna and Child, Holy Family, THEN Caravaggio, what’s this? Awesome! Beautiful! Noteworthy even amongst all the great art of Italy.

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  13. Dorothy said on July 26, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I didn’t go to Ft. Wayne but I did get to the hometown of one our own recently. This is a shout out to Jeff (tmmo) – I finally got to Granville on Friday night last week! It was just to get from point A to point B but what we saw was really, really lovely. We plan to come back soon to eat dinner somewhere special (The Granville Inn? I think that was the recommendation from friends months ago but you should chime in here, Jeff.)

    And Nancy – my son made an offer on the house I told you about via email last Friday and it was accepted by the owners last night. Now to wait for the bank’s okay – it’s a short sale and apparently the bank okayed the owners to list it at the drastically-reduced price last week so this should move along fairly quickly, according to the real estate agent. Fingers crossed. I’ll give details once the deal goes through.

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  14. LAMary said on July 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

    My cats straddle the arms or backs of the living room chairs like that when it’s hot.
    We had a week of 100 degree weather and now we’re back to conditions I won’t mention for fear I’ll be accused of smugness.
    There are a couple of hospitals here in LA, White Memorial and USC County that hang on in rough neighborhoods. I’ve hired people from the ERs at those places who tell me there is an outdoor video camera at license plate level to catch the plates of people who drop of shooting or stabbing victims and zoom away.

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  15. beb said on July 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I see where Andrew Breitbart has won. The Senate stripped the funding for Pigford II the racial discrimination settlement. Shirley Sherrod was the force behind Pigford I so disparaging her made it possible for Senator to continue discriminate against black poor folk.

    I’d love to read what Roger Ebert says about BP but all I’m getting is a blue screen. I know what I’d like to do: seize all of BP’s US assets in lieu of payment of all cleanup costs, punitive damages, etc. I don’t think this or any corporation has enough assets to cover the full cost of clean-up, sealing the well, and so on. We should try BP like the criminals they are — sending people to jail for not following their own safety guidelines — might impress on other oil companies that cutting corners is not an option.

    We have a cat, big, long-haired fellow, I think his breed is called a ragdoll, that likes to lay on his back with all four legs spread-eagled. I find it vaguely disturbing but I’m sure he’s just trying to cool off.

    Wikileaks is a great service to the world therefore I hope the operators of the site are going to great lenghts to protect their safety because I can well imagine the CIA dealing with their problem the Old Fashioned way – with C4.

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  16. ROgirl said on July 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Yeah, I’d trust Tony Hayward and BP over Barack Obama any day. There’s a guy who has the best interests of this country and the environment on his agenda. Regulations forced them to drill that far out in the gulf instead of closer to shore.

    Caravaggio also led a scandalous and drama-filled life (at least what’s known about it), which may be why his paintings stand out from so many of the countless works in museums and churches in Italy. He got in numerous fights, killed a man in Rome with a sword, fled and died several years later, before he could receive a pardon from the pope.

    My kitty likes to sprawl out on her stomach on hot days. She’s been doing it a lot this summer.

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  17. coozledad said on July 26, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    RO Girl: Didn’t he kill that guy right after he lost a tennis match to him? Artists are nearly always bad sports.
    The Francine Prose biography was very good, as I recall.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on July 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Ebert’s piece did an eloquent job of summarizing my own feelings about BP.

    Lutheran is for profit now, but the Foundation they left behind continues to be a sugar daddy for Lutheran churches in the area. Since I attend one of those, I see the positive benefits. And there’s no doubt Parkview is pulling out of its east State campus, although they may leave a little more than a park behind. I can’t disclose my source but this person has seen the blueprints.

    OTOH, constructing all those new hospital facilities is one of the few bright spots in the local economy.

    And John W, my sister lived in Vero Beach her first few years in Florida, and it was a charming place in all the best ways. We were sorry when she moved away to Palm Beach County. We especially loved visiting the orange groves.

    Nance, one thing you would appreciate about the Fort now is the emphasis on paths for walking and biking. We followed one last night along the river by IPFW and saw some stunning and serene spots for the first time.

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  19. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    All of you progressives, too cool to be liberal, read the Wikileaks about Afghanistan and vote for a Republican. That will make things so much better than just whining about how health care and financial reform just weren’t good enough. I swear this is the revenge of Ralph Nader, who single-handedly got W appointed in the first place. Solipsist omphaloptical jerks. Politicians are all the same? They sure as hell aren’t.

    Roger Ebert is a superb writer, and he’s also just a guy you can trust absolutely to know if a movie’s worthwhile or if it’s lousy. And he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Regarding the oil spill Gulf FUBAR situation, how many replacement parts for the Department of the Interior would be on permanent anonymous hold in the Senate right now had the President decided to fire all of their asses? And since when is 60-40 democracy. If Senate Democrats have a failing, it’s in not just making the assholes actually filibuster.

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  20. Sue said on July 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I can never decide if I want to be a Theodore Roosevelt Progressive or a Fightin’ Bob LaFollette progressive or a David Obey Progressive or a Russ Feingold progressive ’cause they’re all so SEXY and I’m just too stupid!

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  21. Sue said on July 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Oooh, and Adlai Stevenson. That guy was smokin’ hot.

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  22. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Why parties matter when you vote. Republicans represent rich people and trailer trash convinced they’re included, and they’re willing to just make shit up in defense of obscenely rich people that don’t recognize the social compact that the Constitution and being an American is supposed to bind us to. These people also claim to be Christians, but have no clue about the second of the Great Commandments.

    Why Republicans are just so full of shit.

    And Sue, you want the one that can get elected, and get things done despite filibuster anti-democracy. But one way or another, the progressive rebranding is an undeniably dumb sack of shit that smacks of self-absorbed Naderite absolutists. Nothing good ever got done that way in the USA.

    Polls on health care are ridiculous. Papers of record report that Americans don’t favor the legislation. They leave out the part about how everybody is pretty much in favor except for rightwing reactionaries and the liberaler than thou crowd that decided late in the game that the public option was crucial. Funny, public option never raised its head during the campaign. Obama’s good, but there’s some sniff test he isn’t passing?

    Progressive? That’s Lakoff talk from the left, and that’s obnoxious. Liberal’s OK with me, and it was the same in Grant Park. Insisting on the whole pie at once instead of the undeniable camel’s nose in the tent and inevitable change is crybaby Darth Nader stupidity. More has gotten done than since LBJ, and Civil Rights for black people was kind of a no-brainer in the Land of the Free.

    The President can do only so much. He can’t make the Supreme
    Court actually read that delimiting clause that makes everything they say about gun ownership pure bullshit. If Scalia finds it remunerative to decide corporations are people, there is nothing the President can do about it. He can’t insist on math and force McConnell to admit 51’s a majority. He can’t do everything, but he’s accomplished a great deal in the face of purely crass, greedy and irrational opposition. And he’s got a boatload of so-called Progressives dogging his ass at every turn.

    I believe they miss W. But how do they vote? Obama’s unsatisfactory? Try Newt, you dumbasses. Or just get with the program.

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  23. Sue said on July 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Fooled ya, Prospero – I’m an independent and that’s even worse! Except when I’m a progressive! Or a liberal! Or an earth mother, or a DFH! No one can count on me to behave at the polls and the country is going to die a death that not even John Roberts could arrange because I refuse to fall in line and do as I’m told.
    Told you I was stupid. But at least I’m not superior.

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  24. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    No, Sue. Didn’t fool me, and I wasn’t taking any chum. Feingold is exactly the sort of holier than jackass I was talking about. Fairly transparent. But I don’t think any of this is a joking matter at this point, particularly when Americans are being encouraged to behave like racists, as a standard political ploy. And Progressives are an infantile, instant-gratification bunch, in general. It’s not even what has he done for us lately, it’s why hasn’t he done everything already. And, for sure, that’s just stupid.

    This is GOPlutocrats grassroots, and it’s worse than Nixon ever conceived.

    And superior is, of course, a relative term. I’m very good at swimming, probably superior to most people not named Mary T or Michael Phelps. Other things, like intelligence and sarcasm, I’m probably somewhere above average. Far as politics are concerned, I just can’t see undermining somebody that is getting things done for the better just for the sake of personal gratification. That’s why self-proclaimed ‘progressives’ annoy the hell out of me. I think that’s a reasonable political opinion, but it isn’t superior in any fashion. But I’m thinking you equate superior with an attitude of superiority. Surement pas. I know en peu, and every obscene insult en espanol. But not, unfortunately, what it takes to be superior.

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  25. Jeff Borden said on July 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm


    I hear and understand. I am the son of moderate Republicans, who were the children of moderate Republicans. Now, I scan this party, its members and supporters, its agenda and philosophy, and I want to scream.

    Recently, I heard someone discussing conservatives and government. They used this analogy. Would you hire someone who loudly and passionately describes how much they hate children to be your babysitter? Of course not. Yet we are supposed to elect as our public officials men and women who loudly proclaim their hatred for government? How does this make sense?

    I cannot foresee a time in the near future when I will vote for a Republican candidate. The Illinois GOP had a chance to earn my vote for governor, but they selected a social conservative with a mean streak and a record of voting against women’s issues. And he opposes abortions even in the case of rape and incest. WTF? Illinois Democrats are horrible, but instead of giving me a competent moderate I can vote for with some pride, the GOPers foist this Neanderthal on me.

    I’ll hold my nose when I vote for the Democratic senatorial nominee, too, but I’ll be damned if I can cast a vote for the Republican, who would become just one more vote for Mitch McConnell and his gang of stooges as they seek to keep the country in a horrible recession to enhance their prospects in 2012.

    It’s just a damned shame we cannot hasten the rush to irrelevance the Republican Party seems hell-bent on becoming. The GOP is pretty much on the wrong side of everything, but what will kill this party is long-term demographic trends. It can’t happen soon enough.

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  26. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Hell, Jeff. I”m going to have to vote for the deeply demented Republican plant Alvin Greene, because I won’t skip a slot and the alternative is Jim Demented. Turnout in the off-year 2010 SC Democratic primary was 35% higher than in the 2008 Presidential primary. For some reason, that doesn’t make hairs stand up on the backs of political analyst’s necks.

    Mitch McConnell is a particularly heinous brand of American traitor, I think. Newt lite, so to speak. These people do not believe in the Constitution nor in commonweal, and they do not give a shit about their fellow Americans. And their anti-Americanism is painfully obvious. As Steve Earle would say, it’s called snake oil, y’all. How do they fool so many people so much of the time?

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  27. Jeff Borden said on July 26, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Amen, brother, amen.

    I guess we’ll someday talk of a time in the distant, dusty past, when members of both parties may have disagreed on tactics, strategies, programs and funding, but were united in their desire to actually help the people of our nation. Now, we watch a group of wealthy politicians, aided and abetted by those far wealthier than they, denying unemployment benefits to their suffering fellow citizens. Worse, we see and hear them argue that these basic benefits –meant to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads– are disincentives to seeking work.

    Yeah, right, fuckheads. Your party played a major role in the destruction of some 10 million jobs, most of which are not going to return, but it’s our fault when we cannot find work. Of course, we could repeal those fucking tax cuts for the very wealthiest of Americans. . .cuts that were not paid for when the glorious Republican Party ruled like French kings. . .but you can’t do that! Why, no less an economics genius than Mitch McConnell just told me a few days ago that the Bush tax cuts helped spur a “vibrant economy.” Besides, if Mitch were to act on behalf of the poor, he might not get the big bucks he needs to run for reelection from his wealthy overseers. And they might even be mean to him!

    When the autopsy following the death of the American middle-class is performed, the cause of death will be conservative Republicanism.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on July 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Word, Jeff. I too am the child of moderate Republicans who would not fit in today’s party. This week’s Time has an article about the new British* PM, David Cameron. He is encompassing both sides in his new government, and it will be an interesting experiment to observe. I hope and pray for a return to civil politics, but I fear that moderates are drowned out by all the shouting and hate. Or, like myself, they just give up and focus on happier endeavors.

    *LAMary may correct me if that’s not the proper usage.

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  29. LAMary said on July 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    He is the British PM.

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  30. LAMary said on July 26, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    A man and a goat discuss politics.

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  31. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    You know, the entire Republican redistribution of wealth talking point would be funny if it weren’t sad and true. They have been actively moving wealth away from the middle class to the very wealthy for years. Attempting to prevent that apparently makes you a socialist. What’s hilarious is the trailer park denizens that are bent on boosting the agenda, convinced they’re on the gravy train. There is a serious divide between Trent Lott and the average Teabagger. What they have in common is racism.

    Oh, and if the Tea Party throws out Tea Party Express, does that mean Beck and Fox too? And what’s left? Citizen’s United? The remnants of the PNAC? Lott was a funding father of teapartyism and now he’s ripping them a new one. What Republicans intend and what the Teabaggers are founded on is inciting the poor disadvantaged white male Amurcan. This is just wrong, and it sure ain’t America.

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  32. Rana said on July 26, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Another child of a moderate former Republican here, whose father believes that small government is not the same as no government, and who has long believed that what one believes or does in the privacy of one’s home is no one’s damn business except the consenting parties involved. He’s thoroughly disgusted with the current GOP and takes great pleasure in shredding the arguments of those relatives who drank the Kool-Aid and believe that the current Republicans are “conservative” simply because they say so.

    prospero, I can understand your annoyance with those who place ideological purity over political pragmatism while being preachy, but, honestly, you’re whacking the wrong piñata by going after progressives. I am a progressive because the politicians who wear the label liberal do not, by and large, espouse policies that are in line with my views. Now, I may vote for them from time to time, on the basis of the enemy of my enemy is, if not my friend, at least an occasionally useful ally.

    But they are not progressive; I am not liberal. These days liberal – as defined by the people running the Democratic Party – seems to mean friendly to large corporations even if at the expense of individual citizens, protective of the environment unless energy and property rights are involved, against taxes, nominally pro-choice while turning a blind eye to the erosion of abortion rights at the state and county level, unwilling to support gay rights (let alone transgender rights) beyond token efforts with state-level civil unions, and on and on.

    These are not incidental issues for me. Each one of them is a potential third rail for me as a voter, and when the party tasked with opposing the Republicans and the Tea Party loons and the libertarians stands up to take their turn at pissing on it, I’m not going to cheer and clap, let alone join in the pissing contest.

    This is not to say that there are not decent folk among those who self-identify as liberals, like yourself, and who resent the way the label has been distorted and diminished by both the party that claims it (reluctantly) and their political enemies, just as there are decent folk like my dad whose self-identity as conservatives collapsed when the face of conservatism became that of rabid racist loons fixated on legislating morality while moaning about the evils of Big Bad Government.

    But however decent many liberals may be, it’s not accurate to label me – and those like me – who hold specific and distinct political views, misguided and self-deluding “liberals” just because some of the Nader nuts decided to piss in your cheerios. I’m not a liberal, and it’s not just semantics. Calling me one is like calling someone from a socialist nation like Canada a communist because both philosophies are opposed to fascism.

    And as a political tactic – yelling at potential allies and calling them traitors to a system of beliefs to which they do not adhere isn’t a great way to get them to vote for your candidates, now is it?

    (Sorry for the rant, Nancy, prospero. Buttons were pushed, whether intentionally or not.)

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  33. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Ralph Vader didn’t piss in my Cheerios, Rana, he, and navel-gazers like him made sure W’s thugs could steal Florida and the 2000 election. Michael Blackwell took care of 2004, aided and abetted by the Deanie babies that couldn’t forgive Kerry for beating the Governor (who now seems to have lost his mind–or has he– and endorsed Newt the serial adulterer).

    I think what bugs me is that Progressive as a political label is a Lakoff style rebranding, so it seems bogus, and so many people that call themselves Progressive are strident, absolutists, and, more than anything else, holier than thou. And, I’ll admit, I was one of those Freedom Rider, Chicago Convention liberals.

    Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible, and in two years, there has been a tremendous amount accomplished in the face of pure negativism and desertion on the part of people that thought getting elected President was a free pass to do everything at once. What I really can’t understand is what unsatisfied Progressives, to use their own term, think is an alternative course to that being tracked by the President. I haven’t heard viable aternatives. Feingold’s sno on finance reform amounts to very hollow posturing. That’s a personal agenda St. Paul Wellstone wouldn’t have fallen for.

    As far as voting is concerned, what’s your choice? Rand Paul? Newt Gingrich? Mitch McConnell? Carly Fiorino? And yeah, I believe these guys are guilty of treasonous behavior. They certainly do not uphold and defend the Constitution. The things you want to happen, they’ll get done. Controlling ;the immense damage of eight years of PNAC/Enron running the country doesn’t get fixed in 18 months. I’d like to think there’s good faith and common sense on the ‘progressive’ side, but sometimes it just seems like idealogical purity run wild with no sense of political facts of life.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think I labeled anybody anything. Well, except myself.

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  34. moe99 said on July 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    My son had my car all last week because he lost his key to his VW (they are specially made these days and take a week). Things could have been worse:

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  35. Rana said on July 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    See, the thing is – those who voted for Nader ALWAYS get the blame for Gore’s loss. Yet, let’s see, they made up less than 5% of the votes cast, which in turn makes them less than 2% of the overall population of eligible, registered voters. Put that against the nearly 50% voting for the Democrats, the majority voting for the Republicans (including those who got butterfly-balloted), the odd percentages who voted for people like Buchanan, and the whole bunch of people who sat home and didn’t vote at all, and, yet, somehow, it’s all the fault of those nasty Nader voters that Bush was handed the election by a cowardly Supreme Court.

    I’ve been seeing, and living with being the target of, this rage at Naderites (which I am and was not) and Greens (which I am, proudly) for nearly a decade now – nearly a quarter of my life. I have not seen the same level of fury and contempt directed at folks like, say, the Tea Party crowd, or the libertarians for spoiling the elections by voting for Bush, even though their numbers are larger and have a bigger media voice.

    The only reason I have come up with is that somehow, in the minds of many, many Democrats, their party was owed those votes on the left, owed them even though the Party leadership never endorsed any of the left’s concerns, or gave them lip service during elections only to bleat about being bipartisan when the going got rough, or turning to that old standby of hippie-bashing whenever someone questioned their patriotism. They don’t act betrayed when the wing-nut fundies – or even the middle-road conservatives – don’t vote for them; if anything, they go harder right in their efforts to court them.

    Yet – and this is the crucial point here, and why I will not identify myself as liberal – Democratic policies and governing philosophy, while closer to my own than those of Palin and McCain and Gingrich and all that lot, are at least as far from mine as they are from the right-center they court. And yet they act hurt, angry and betrayed when people with beliefs like mine decide that they’re tired of being ignored and bashed and taken for granted? Yeesh.

    If your party wants to court the right-center, it should not be surprised, let alone angry, if those of us on the left and far left decide that not voting makes about as much sense as voting. What good does it for me to vote for a “pro-choice” Democrat if he or she caves every time the Republicans say boo? What good does it for me to vote for an “environmental” Democrat if he or she signs off on increased offshore drilling, refuses to enforce EPA regulations, continues the extension of roads into roadless networks, and so on? Or voting for a Democrat who talks about the dignity of all citizens, but refuses to repeal DADT, or who stands with Republicans in support of DOMA?

    So while I – and other progressives like me – may look like we’re sacrificing pragmatism for impossibly idealistic principles – we’re actually not. Voting for Democrats doesn’t get us anything other than keeping Republicans out of office – and increasingly, many Democrats in office look an awful lot like Republicans when it comes to the nitty-gritty of governance. If a policy is shitty and damages my interests, does it really matter if there’s a D after it instead of an R?

    The only influence I have is through my vote – I’m not rich, nor connected, and my Representatives and Senators ignore my letters. So if they want my vote, they need to get it the old-fashioned way: earn it.

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  36. Linda said on July 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    When progressives register their disappointment at Obama, they do not take into account 1) the fact that they kidded themselves two years ago about how progressive he is or was and 2) exactly what he has done in 2 years. In the previous 30 years, Washington politicians could only effectively do 3 things: 1) cut taxes 2) deregulate 3) declare war. Period. Everything else was off the table. Any problem that could not be solved by those 3 things just had to stay broken. That he, Reid and Pelosi got anything to be addressed by the federal government is akin to turning a battleship around, and that’s not an easy or pretty task. Obama has managed to change the conversation in a way that will not be changed back soon. That’s a solid accomplishment.

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  37. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    There were nearly 100,000 votes cast for Nader in Florida 2000. If they’d gone to Gore, Scalia and Cheney could not have hijacked the election. Whatever other skullduggery took place, and it surely did, no matter how many Volusia County black voters were disenfranchised, had Nader not interjected himself, the PNAC wouldn’t have been able to effect the unfunded invasion of Iraq.

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  38. prospero said on July 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Rana, I understand and respect your political position, and nothing I’ve said is meant disrespectfully. Eight years of ridiculous misadministration is frustrating, and my dislike of Nader goes way back to the Vietnam era in Worcester. And it’s just a fact that if Green voters had used their votes in Florida to prevent the Enron and PNAC takeover, the US would be in a much better place right now. I agree with you that your vote is your most potent weapon to get things right, but the people that voted for Nader in Florida in 2000 wasted their votes and enabled small-minded, Enron-driven corporate America.

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  39. moe99 said on July 26, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Rana, consider this essay by Rachel Maddow from her June 25, 2010 broadcast:

    MADDOW: He signed a bill that gave amnesty to undocumented immigrants. He grew the size of the federal government and the budget, added a whole new cabinet level agency and added tens of thousands of government workers to the federal payroll.

    He tripled the deficit. He bailed out and expanded social security with a big fat tax increase. He raised corporate taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars. He raised taxes on gasoline.

    He, in fact, signed into law the largest tax increase in history. He supported federal handgun controls. He called for a world without nuclear weapons. He was Ronald Reagan.

    As a conservative saint, as the right-wing rock star, as king of the Republican prom in perpetuity, as a transformative figure for people who call themselves conservative, the facts of Ronald Reagan`s legislative record are awkward.

    Ronald Reagan`s record has in it a lot of things that would get him kicked out of today`s Republican Party, which is not to say that President Reagan was a secret liberal. He was not. What he was, was complex, but accomplished in his own way.

    With the passage of financial regulation in Washington today, President Obama took to the very un-momentous setting of “Twitters,” as he called it yesterday, to say this, quote, “Last night`s House Senate agreement on Wall Street reform represents the toughest financial reform since the Great Depression.”

    It turns out that a lot of things that have happened in the less than two years of this administration are the biggest or first or most important in generations. On the occasion of the Wall Street reform announcement today, Taegan Goddard at “CQ Politics” wrote, “Not since FDR has a president done so much to transform this country.”

    Even before today`s historic Wall Street reform agreement, President Obama, of course, did what politicians have been trying to do for more than 60 years. He passed health reform, which, for the first time, establishes government responsibility for the health care of American citizens.

    Consider also the stimulus bill. It didn`t just throw a lasso around our entire economy and yank and yank it back from the brink. It also pumped about $100 billion into the crumbling embarrassment of our national infrastructure and transportation system.

    It was the largest investment in infrastructure since Ike. For solving our country`s energy problems, something Obama has compared to man walking on the moon, it contained about $60 billion in spending and tax incentives for renewable and clean energy, also a historic investment.

    It also included an unheralded but giant investment in science and tech, amping up the budgets at NASA, the National Science Foundation, and an experimental energy research agency that was created under President George W. Bush, but never funded until now.

    President Obama also expanded state kids` health insurance to cover another four million kids. He signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amending the 1964 civil rights act for equal pay for equal work.

    He signed a nuclear arms deal with Russia that would reduce both countries` arsenals by a third. He created a new global nonproliferation initiative to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

    He set forth an international way forward on that radical left-wing proposition of Ronald Reagan, a world without nuclear weapons. Then there are the legislative and policy achievements that don`t just build on previously-set precedents, but set new ones.

    The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. It had languished in Congress for years. The Food and Drug Administration permitted for the first time to regulate tobacco.

    Better late than never, he dismantled the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service, broke it into three parts so that the folks who collect money from oil leases aren`t the same ones regulating the industry. And now, it will actually investigate the industry that it was busy schtupping and doing drugs with during the last administration.

    Obama fired two wartime commanding generals in little over a year. He overhauled the astonishing stupidity of the student loan system in which banks were being subsidized to give loans that were guaranteed by the government anyway, a license to print money.

    That was ended in the savings put toward actual aid to students. He canceled a weapons program that was bloated, unnecessary and totally irrelevant to either of our current wars, the F-22. Why even mention the cancellation of a single weapons system? Because that never happens. Weapons systems never get canceled. The F-22 did, which is itself a miracle.

    In each of these achievements and in the list of things he has yet to do – “Don`t Ask, Don`t Tell,” closing Guantanamo – in each of these things, there is room for liberal disappointment. I sing a bittersweet lullaby to the lost public option when I go to sleep at night.

    But presidential legacies are complex. Not even the Reagan administration`s legacy is pure as the conservative-driven snow. But Taegan Goddard at “CQ Politics” was right today about nothing this big happening since FDR.

    The list of legislative accomplishments of this president in half a term even before energy reform which he`s probably going to get to is, to quote the vice president, “a big freaking deal.” Love this administration or hate it, this president is getting a lot done.

    The last time any president did this much in office, booze was illegal. If you believe in policy, if you believe in government that addresses problems, cheers to that. Good night.

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  40. Dexter said on July 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I remember Reagan’s arms reduction deals well. It may appear to the casual browsing individual , leafing through a condensed high school history book, that Reagan was a peacemaker, when in fact the opposite was true.
    Reagan always made sure his jackboot was on the throat of the USSR. His reduction plans always made it clear it would be the USSR who would lose more on the power swing than the USA.
    I remember 1983, when Reagan’s goons came up with the Strategic Defense Initiative , which stuck the blade right up against the bear’s ribs and was ruled un-negotiable by the USSR, kicking up the arms race again and I remember it also set the Doomsday Clock right up to about 2 minutes to midnight.
    Also in the 1980’s Reagan’s war machine decided to waste untold billions on this bizarre scheme called “Star Wars”, so ridiculous it was that the scientists of the world organized and wrote in their journals that this Star Wars program was…A JOKE. It took months if not years to finally convince the powers in Washington that this was true.
    Reagan a peacemaking man? No, it’s a lot more complex than that.
    Of course, this was before Comrade Gorbachev came along…Leonid Breznev wasn’t nearly so warm and cuddly, and NO-BOD-EEE in Washington trusted Moscow.
    Those were fascinating days; I was laid off and I had plenty of time to read The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Soviet Life magazines for a contrasting viewpoint. But Time magazine didn’t get totally behind Reagan’s bullying either, not by a long shot.

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  41. Dexter said on July 26, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    For you folks who love your fish tacos:

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  42. Rana said on July 26, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Oh, I’m well aware that Obama’s done some good things, and I also voted for him knowing full well that he was a centrist Democrat and not a progressive messiah (I would have voted for H. Clinton on similar grounds if she was the final candidate). I’m pretty cynical about what can and cannot be accomplished in Washington, and I don’t expect things to change overnight.

    A lot of this for me is, admittedly, about what some of the punditry like to call “the optics” – that is, whether us lefties are treated as worthy partners (even if a bit eccentric) with some useful ideas or whether we’re kept in the back room like an embarrassing relative and only acknowledged when elections roll around. Seriously, Democrats do at least as much hippie-bashing as the Republicans do. When they talk about us in public, they’re so eager to distance themselves from our positions that they present us as weird tree-hugging greenies with strange ideas about pacifism and women’s equality and immigration reform. And then the Democrats wonder why they have trouble pushing center-left policies through! Gotta prime the pump a bit, guys – you can’t just have a cold start out of nothing.

    I’m simply tired of being blamed, as a lefty who views the Democrats with a jaundiced eye, for things that the Democratic Party managed all on its own, through misunderstanding of its base, failure to understand the nature of the media today, and their incompetence at countering right-wing narratives. I’m tired having my vote taken for granted by their most partisan supporters… so long as I exercise it the way they see fit, they have no complaints. If I dare suggest that maybe, if the Democrats care about my vote, they should stop taking it for granted, well, then I’m either a traitor or an idealistic fool. It gets damn tiring.

    I mean, hell. I have my own party. I register for it in every state that lets me, and I donate to it, and subscribe entirely to its platform, and have done so since I was in college. Asking me to cross party lines to vote for Democrats makes at least as much political sense as asking centrist Republicans to vote for Democrats. When Republicans vote for Democrats, the Democratic leadership rewards them. When the Greens, or any other left-wing parties, vote for Democrats, the leadership blows us off or paints us as the scary weirdo lefties in order to reassure their constituencies that they are the normal folks. All I’m asking for is courtesy and respect, rather than simply assuming that I’ll vote for candidates belonging to their party instead of my own, and getting angry and threatening me when I suggest I might do otherwise.

    As I said, my buttons were pushed, even though I recognize that was not your intent. I’ve just heard variants of what you’re saying all too many times before, and argued myself blue trying to explain why blaming us minority party members for the failures of the majority parties is a waste of time. I mean, hello. There’s a reason they’re called minority parties, right?

    Anyway, I’ve said my piece. I think my position is clear, and I’m not planning to change it, so I’m calling it a night.

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  43. DEdelstein said on July 27, 2010 at 12:10 am

    My brother-in-law and his family just moved there from Chicago. I said don’t fret you have THE most brilliant blogger in the whole Midwest.

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  44. MichaelG said on July 27, 2010 at 1:07 am

    WOW, Rana. Just Wow. You knocked my socks clear into the next state.

    I always liked it when Norman Mailer described himself as a “left conservative”.

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  45. john wallace said on July 27, 2010 at 3:12 am


    I’m certain that no one except the Soviets thought SDI was going to work back then, but it was the main reason the Soviets were finally bankrupted and vanquished. Ironic how now we have to rely on their cold war rockets to get us to space.

    I was invited to a NJ high school student leader conference held by Sen. Bill Bradley in 1985. I was a GOP youth leader then, how things change. I ended up sparring with the big man himself over SDI and almost getting kicked out by him. I said flat out back then at age 18 that it wouldn’t work but we could afford it more than the Russians and it would bankrupt them and topple them because the soviet people would suffer to pay for a response.

    The missile defense thing won’t work ever because the best delivery system will always be a bomb in a box truck. I’d bet anything there are prepositioned nukes in our embassies in Beijing and Moscow, and I’m equally certain the Russians have a city killer at their embassies in NYC and DC. Thats the best way to pull off a decapitation strike.

    I’m a Democrat now and will always mourn the damage done to our nation by 8 years of W, but I won’t buy your revisionist history take on SDI. Indeed you were right, thats what shoved the knife up the bear’s ass finally.

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  46. Sue said on July 27, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Rana, thank you. I appreciate the effort.
    And Prospero, if noth­ing you’ve said is meant dis­re­spect­fully in this thread, then I will also be respectful, and respectfully ask that you refrain from lumping progressives into a group and using words and phrases like:
    lib­eraler than thou
    cry­baby Darth Nader stu­pid­ity
    Pro­gres­sives are an infan­tile, instant-gratification bunch
    stu­pid peo­ple that call them­selves Pro­gres­sive are stri­dent, abso­lutists, and, more than any­thing else, holier than thou.

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  47. Dorothy said on July 27, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I would like to second what Sue said. Any name calling or dismissive-ness belongs elsewhere, not here where we all try to be respectful of each other’s politics. Any kind of clear discussion can be done without name calling. If you’re stuck get out your thesaurus!

    MWAAA – blowing you a kiss, Prospero. And a virtual handshake.

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  48. coozledad said on July 27, 2010 at 9:39 am

    There certainly isn’t a political party that meets my criteria. The prohibition against fundamentalists in a public space minus their government mandated shackles, ballgags and head-to-toe woolen cloaks alone might make me seem a little marginal. Twenty years automatic road labor for any Republican engaging in Reagan adulation while wearing Hugo Boss and a corresponding aftershave even strikes me as a little stern, but necessary.
    But if you factor in the amount of fuel that could be saved if our roadways were paved with manually crushed rock, these minor societal adjustments have an interior logic that more than makes up for their perversity. Think of the increased productivity that would result from every office conversation not degenerating into speculation about the Second Coming, or the confidence that comes from knowing simple possession of Ayn Rand will get you six months community service or a $250,000 fine.
    Where it really gets controversial is the relaxation of feedlot standards to permit the inclusion of a few new food species. For political purposes, it’d be best not to go into that.

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  49. LAMary said on July 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Cooz, where do I sign up?

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  50. coozledad said on July 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

    LA Mary: Your local New Black Panther Party headquarters, or at pretty much any gathering of anarcho-syndicalists. But the NBPP is offering free cell minutes (they purchased them from Sprint with Nazi gold).

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