Monday, September 29, 2008

Lots of people still ask me how to answer the hard questions? How to respond to the uncomfortable comments? I'll let you in on my son's strategy:
Little Bun, when asked "Is your sister adopted?" or "Is that your real sister?" has taken to clamping his lips shut and performing a Greek dance -- the first time he did it, he said it was the fastest distraction. Later, he could just remember having done it the first time.

Conspiracy Theory of the Day

If I had a load of money and less of a conscience, I'd scare people into selling low. Tell them the sky is falling and then buy the moon.

With stocks down and people selling off, people with money can now buy all of America on sale, if they act now, before the bail out bill is passed.

Dollar is up, oil is down . . . I wonder what things will look like after the holiday, and once the initial "Act NOW!" panic has settled so cooler heads really can prevail.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You Seem to Become Increasingly Adorable

Newsweek's Fareed Zekaria thinks now is the time for Governor Palin to gracefully bow out. Here's why:

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

Where have we heard such a muddled mess before?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

President Bush, at the UN, on Syria and Iran:

"The terrorists believe time is on their side, so they've made waiting out civilized nations part of their strategy. We must not allow them to succeed.""

I don't understand this. We must not allow them to succeed at . . . waiting?

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Oversight?

This is shocking. The original draft authorizing Paulson's bail out seems like something that wouldn't happen in America -- except, that is, following the last eight years.

From the NYT:
"For Mr. Dodd, a larger issue was at stake in Mr. Paulson’s plan. “After reading this proposal, I can only conclude that it is not just our economy that is at risk, but our constitution as well.” Mr. Shelby echoed the point, saying the Treasury department was continuing “its ad hoc approach on a grand new scale.”"

ETA: Yeesh. If I didn't worry so much, this article would be like a birthday present.

The Value of Pragmatism

A commenter suggested this article and I didn't want the link to be buried in comments. It helps explain why a loved one of mine, a Goldwater Republican, is voting for Barack Obama.

(Thanks for reading, and thanks so much for the link!)

We had to take this drive-by photo of Obama supporters demonstrating their resourcefulness.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Made to Order

We shopped sans Dr.Bloom today, and the kids were great. It isn't easy to behave when shopping for cat litter, rat litter, Wittgenstein's Culture and Value, and vegetables for a week's worth of dinners. But they did, so I took them to (fast food) lunch.
It all fell apart in line. When I asked what they wanted to distract them from dangerous activities, Miss I said "anyfing." The man in front of us turned around and asked, "Anchovy pizza, then?" "Sure," she said, and went back to flipping over those railings that really do look like playground equipment and just beg for flipping while Little Bun scaled the nearest upright. "Little Bun, Miss I . . ." I began in exasperation . . .
"I tell you, if they'd eat anchovy pizza with me I'd adopt them," the man teased. My first thought was relief that he'd thought they were both foster/foster-adopt/adopted. Only later did I realize I probably shouldn't have laughed.
Tired of being a Washington outsider? Take Washington to Alaska and keep repeating "Maverick" like a cereal slogan. The McCain campaign, now with more "Maverick" (but don't read the ingredients).

Free Market Capitalism not working for you anymore? Nationalize debt, but find a way to drive up fear about the other party's socialism. (And suggest deregulation of health care companies to boot -- that worked so well for the banks, thanks much).

Our national way of life, and the global way of life based on it, is changing. It has to change -- again. An Historical state of affairs, it is subject to change. The way we do things is really only relatively recent in comparison to American history, and it's been untenable since at least 2001 by all markers. As one commenter remarked, since then, publicly and personally, we have been impoverishing our future (or our children's future, which has been the Bush policy) to be wealthier today.

And then the future arrived.

We are in a future that requires us to redefine ourselves -- the "free market capitalists" thing isn't accurate, it isn't working and it isn't true. Rugged individualism isn't the same as rampant unregulated Capitalism, and neither is a virtue.

Those feelings of anxiety, of impending doom -- that some have been tying to Obama and "the left" -- appear to me to be instead the deep fear not that something is going to go wrong, but that something already has.

This is perhaps why some have called the new national institution to buy out bank losses (American and UK) at mark-downs (reverse auctions) "Paulson's Monster." But it ought, really, to be called "Our Monster."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Swiftboating on Ice

Thanks to J for making my day:

On Poverty and Desperation

Much ado has apparently been made of Barack Obama's half-brother George, who lives a private life in Kenya, his privacy recently invaded by the UK Telegraph and subsequently by conservative commentators.

The story has been refuted, by George himself and others.

It offends me that this story is circulated. It does nothing to contribute to civil discourse or promote real consideration of what it means to care for the poor. It distracts us from the real issues (Biden was speaking of eliminating Bush tax cuts for the richest 3% and employing tax cuts for the middle class, a sound response to a flagging economy). It appeals to emotion to encourage the middle and working classes to vote against their interests.

On a personal level, I wonder who will make my daughter feel guilty that she does not financially support her extended family in Ethiopia?

So much for family matters remaining private.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Hold Me Accountable"

You must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. This looks like impropriety. This investigation began before she was selected as McCain's running mate, and they ought to cooperate to complete it.

So much for "hold me accountable," folks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

See more funny videos at Funny or Die


Nothing grows in my garden. Well, one tomato, three lemon cucumbers, a single scrawny pepper, and four stalks of corn -- two of which produced tiny, inedible ears (exciting as they were for the kids). The transplanted grapes -- shoots from family grapes brought from Italy -- didn't take.

Part of this can be blamed on the weather, but I am also convinced that right now, I just can't grow anything.

The kids are fine, the animals are healthy. But all my houseplants, even, are dead or dying.

It's baby week beyond our house: We met a good friend's beautiful new baby. We received text and a phone photo of a new nephew. We heard another good friend will be having another baby in the spring. I love these people, love these babies. And I feel guilty that their joy -- my joy for them! -- is also a reminder.

I can't grow anything here.

And my dissertation isn't writing itself.

(Of course, it is September. And if it's September, I must be lamenting.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Next thing you know they'll be telling us the earth is really super-old and carbon-dating matters and science is real and stuff, but only if that's what voters want to hear.

Flip, meet Flop.

But this is far scarier:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Or, You Can't Take That Away . . .

I'm never going to forget. I've told you the story before. I was at home, with my near-newborn, in an apartment in New York. Dr. Bloom was at a window, where he could actually see the first tower smoke, before it was news. He called me and asked me to turn on the news. Something was happening. The infant Little Bun layed on the floor in front of a screen on which the world as we thought we knew it seemed to collapse. My dearest friend's ship changed course, preparing to defend our nation.

Later, we gathered with our community. Was it hours later? Days? I don't know. Still later, with our church, who had lost members, but which thought they would be returning. Pictures taped to trees. Have you seen this man? Paper flags, printed in the newspaper, taped to the inside of our windows. We cried, and prayed, and feared, and prayed, and cried, and listened to F-16s circling our home.

And one day we decided to fight against that fear. Not only fear generated by the terrorists (they'll WIN if we don't get back to our normal lives!) but by our president's men, too (who would later tell us that if we didn't take a family trip to Disney World, the terrorists would WIN), a government who wanted a war in Iraq when we wanted them to continue the mission in Afghanistan. Get plastic and duct tape for the windows. Next time it'll be biological. Make sure you have a doomsday bag in the basement. It might be a dirty bomb. Be sure you have a basement. Plan a meeting place, an escape route from the city. Trust in the All-Mighty God, who is surely on the side of Infinite Justice (a catchy name for an operation, right?) . . . only be sure you have a back-up plan. That plan should include living in fear.

Only . . . if you survived . . . get on with your lives. Smile patiently when others try to take your pain, turn it into theirs, pretend that they could understand what it was like. Have a new look in your eyes that might never go away. Be proud to be American (but secretly wonder about this business about a trauma-bond).

Mr.McCain, I'm using today to say that you can't take that experience and what I learned from it away from me no matter how you try. The Republicans do not corner the market on a desire for security for our children, for all of God's children.

Why We Need a Sense of Humor

From the lovely Miss I this morning:
"They gave me idiot parents here." A friend assures me that this is just a specification on the general "I have the worst parents."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Before we drill anywhere else, let's get our house in order. Interior scandal here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls - a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton."

Really Valuing Life

The most disturbing thing about the footage of the Septa hammer attack (Philadelphia) isn't even that the attacker is first on the train with a young boy. It is that someone saw the attack, and got up and *moved away.* Ten people did not help stop the attack on that young man. Ten people did not assist him, did not help him get assistance at the station, didn't help him to the hospital. One person provided some sort of help, but another, rather than calling 911, stole the victim's cell phone and sold it for $150.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The joke will be on us

I thought they were kidding about the proximity to Russia as foreign policy expertise. Apparently, it wasn't meant to be funny.
Please, oh please, read the transcript of Charles Gibson's interview of John McCain. Here's an excerpt.

GIBSON: But as you know, the questions revolve really around foreign policy experience.

Can you honestly say you feel confident having someone who hasn't traveled outside the United States until last year, dealing with an insurgent Russia, with an Iran with nuclear ambitions, with an unstable Pakistan, not to mention the war on terror?

MCCAIN: Sure. And one of the key elements of America's national security requirements are energy. She understands the energy issues better than anybody I know in Washington, D.C., and she understands.

Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

This is so super awesome.

And another thing -- I was worried that I might have to hold off the teen-pregnancy discussion until my kid got out of like second grade, but thanks to the RNC for thrusting Palin's family into the spotlight! Today we had an opening, and it's all thanks to family values more conservative than mine.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The One Where Dr. Bloom commits the cardinal sin of parenting

Dr. Bloom was on call this holiday weekend, so we were hanging around Bloomsburg most of the time, much of it car-less. The grandparents Bloom took pity on us one day, and took me and the kids to a fair. I made playdates for the other dates, and generally kept the kids entertained. But alas, by the end of the weekend, Dr. Bloom had caught up at work, the kids were tired and whiney, and worse . . . there were no snacks.

When I say to Dr. Bloom that we should do something fun with the kids, he proposes the grocery store. This would not be fun for the kids, or for me. I check my email, and wait for Dr. Bloom to come up with a more interesting possibility. He suggests the grocery store again. In those few moments, Little Bun becomes engaged in The Pokemon movie on Cartoon Network (I now hate the cartoon network for ruining holidays with inane marathons).

I mention to Dr. Bloom that I am not thrilled by Little Bun watching the endless Pokemon commercial, so he tells Little Bun to turn off Pokemon immediately and put shoes on to the grocery store -- he can't sit around and watch tv all day. He clearly does this to make me sorry I asked him to intervene and to make Little Bun cry. But wait -- it gets worse.

I calmly tell Dr. Bloom that he has mishandled the situation: Now I have an enraged child, who believes that he is being punished for watching Pokemon by going to the grocery store, which is already NOT FUN.

Dr. Bloom smirks; I freak. I take a moment, and then decide that I will never hear the end of Pokemon OR the grocery store unless I take the kids and go, stopping at the playground first as a peace offering. But I don't tell them this -- I just say, "Kids, meet me at the door." They do.

Dr. Bloom demands to know where I'm taking them, so I dig in my heels, and say nothing. Then IT happens.


Appalled, I'm silent (we do not undermine one another's authority as a RULE), but I'm still putting the kids in the car (they are no dummies; they don't believe their dad that they can choose not to go wherever it is I've asked them to go).

Finally, I take a deep breath and say


Dr. Bloom responds, flustered, trying to reclaim some authority for himself, which he now realizes he might have lost for both of us: "You need to think about the consequences of your actions --" Only he can't think of any for a second. Then one dawns on him and he lights up: "They haven't gone to the bathroom first. What if Miss I has an ACCIDENT?"


With that, Dr. Bloom, like the kids, gets in the car, sulking. We sulked our way to the splash playground, and after, to the grocery store, and home . . . to a quiet, indoor Labor Day picnic, Pokemon on in the background.

Monday, September 01, 2008

More Adoption, Less Politics

In a minute.

"Country First" assumes that not every one puts Country First. Well . . .

But this is what really gets me. Awhile ago, one of my students provided evidence that a character in a story was a "good character." He had, after all, a blind child. "What makes him good?" I pressed. "You can see here where he's on the beach, and he says that this is his son" he said, confused that I did not accept what he thought was plain to see . . . What should a man on the beach do with a son who is blind? Hide him? Drown him?!

"Before, they were excited about her, with the Down syndrome baby," conservative, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said. "But now with this, they are over the moon. It reinforces the fact that this family lives its pro-life values."

The "Down Syndrome baby" is a person (Trig is four months old). And it seems odd that people, whatever their position on abortion, would congratulate Palin on carrying her child (as others have remarked, she was not congratulated, so far as we know, on not terminating her other children). Yes, I do know that a high percentage (nearing 90%) of children identified as ds by amnio are not carried to term. But isn't it a strike against people with downs syndrome and parents of ds children when someone is "exciting" for not terminating a ds person?!

I find the same thing odd about the story I would otherwise not mention here (Obama does not support the circulation of this story, and I do think candidate's children should be beyond the, ahem, Pale) but -- why should Palin be praised for not terminating Bristol's pregnancy?! It's Bristol's pregnancy, not Palin's!!! I know that families (particularly families of prominence) have pressured young women to terminate and/or hide pregnancies and/or relinquish, but I do not understand how this situation makes anyone "over the moon."

Dear baby Trig and baby-to-be,
We lived out our pro-life values by not terminating you. Isn't that great?! No, you don't have to say it. We already know you're feeling overwhelming gratitude that we let you be (even if we didn't protect your privacy) -- according to the media, this was in serious, reasonable doubt. So you're welcome!

That's the biggest "yeesh" of all.

And I hope that marrying the baby's father is really the best choice for Bristol and her child, and not merely for the campaign. I can't imagine that it could be.

(ETA (after others have shared their agreement, so this I say alone): That Trig has downs syndrome and Palin took less than usual precautions -- rather than more -- and that Palin seems to have thrown her daughter under the bus to prove that there was no cover-up with Trig's birth DOES seem to me to reflect on her judgment and values).