So I took a bit of a break this past month, and I figured by the time I came back y'all would have things sorted out: people would surely be flying around with jet packs by now, God would have sent fires and floods to smite the unrighteous, and, if I really got lucky, Barack Obama would have "grown a pair."
And now that I'm back, debt negotiations are about to commence between Obama and the Republican Congressional Leadership, things like Social Security and Medicare cuts are apparently on the table in order to protect tax cuts for the rich, and certain quarters of the Republican Party aren't even trying anymore to hide their racism.
All of which suggests that I shouldn't be looking for a jet pack anytime soon.
But there is some good news: God is apparently working hard, and states like Oklahoma and Arizona and Florida and Georgia and Texas have been alternately aflame or aflood, apparently as a result of their unrepentant behavior ... and on the economic front, New York City's Stonewall Inn is going to make a ton of money this summer hosting weddings.
That gives us a lot to talk about, so let's get right to it.
Pessimism is cowardice. The man who cannot frankly acknowledge the "Jim-Crow" car as a fact and yet live and hope is simply afraid either of himself or of the world. There is not in the world a more disgraceful denial of brotherhood than the "Jim-Crow" car of the southern United States; but, too, just as true, there is nothing more beautiful in the universe than sunset and moonlight on Montego Bay in far Jamaica. And both things are true and both belong to this, our world, and neither can be denied.
-From On Being Black, by W.E.B. DuBois
On Personhood USA
We gotta start with the most "WTF?!?" news first: Personhood USA is a group that figures the only reason we want to make sure that abortion rights are protected for women who are raped, either by members of their own family or others is because we really don't understand how wonderful it can be for women to enter motherhood in this way, or for those children to enter the world. All of this presumably means that for these folks, the dark cloud of rape and incest has a silver lining that the rest of us never really think about.
To help make the point, and to help advance legislation that basically says that as soon as two sets of haploid chromosomes become a diploid, a child is born (this to try to criminalize abortion in the state), Personhood Mississippi sent their representative, Rebecca Kiessling, on a week-long "Conceived in Rape Lecture Series."
"I am not the rapist's child!", Kiessling declares in a written statement, which I personally think is going to be tough to sell to some poor kid who's been forced by law to sit down at Thanksgiving dinner next to his father and grandfather - and there's only one guy sitting there. Especially in a state that isn't exactly big on providing mental health services to these victims.
But let's move on to happier subjects.
On Jay Inslee's Candidacy
I live in Washington State, and for the past several years Democrats in what you might think is an aggressively liberal state have been fighting a losing battle to keep it that way. Much of this, frankly, rests on the shoulders of Gov. Christine Gregoire, who, not unlike many other Democratic leaders nationally, has simply not chosen to take the fight to the Republicans.
But this may change, as Congressman Jay Inslee is apparently going to announce his candidacy for the state's top office on Monday.
I have to confess that I personally am looking forward to this, as Inslee has been pushing a lot of issues that I care about over the years, including real health care reform and an energy policy that tries to remove Saudi Arabia from their position as America's "best frenemy forever."
I don't have the exact quote handy, but I once saw Inslee, on the floor of the House, describe a Bush budget as having the same effect on someone as it would be if you hit them over the head with their own artificial leg. I've been a fan ever since; if he takes that attitude to the campaign and governing, we'll be the better off for the effort.
On Workers' Rights
The number of states looking to screw over their workers is growing fast, and so far Barack Obama hasn't been able to locate those "comfortable shoes" he said he'd be putting on so he could march right alongside those same workers.
I want to be helpful here, Mr. President, not mean. So maybe you might want to check out the Nike Factory Store over there at the outlet mall in Potomac Mills, which is out in Virginia just a bit past Arlington National Cemetery. (It's right next to the Burlington Coat Factory and that Japanese place in the food court.) I have shopped at one of those Nike stores a time or two, and they have lots of comfortable shoes - and boots, too, which are really great for marches.
Now I like these right here - but I wouldn't pay $120 for 'em; instead, I'd wait for them to drop to below $50. But workers in Wisconsin and Ohio and Michigan and New Jersey don't have that kind of time, so if I were you I'd pay the extra money and treat it as a campaign expense or something, and then I'd actually fulfill my promise and get out and wear those shoes, before the Republicans start running that pesky YouTube video as a campaign ad, which, sooner or later, they probably will.
On "Most Wanted" Men
When Osama Bin Laden was killed just a mile or so from Pakistan's military academy we all wondered how it was possible for the world's most wanted man to be there and, somehow, no one of authority knew about it.
And now (alleged serial killer, notorious mob boss, FBI informant, and "Next Most Wanted Man") Whitey Bulger was just captured a few blocks from the Santa Monica pier, in an apartment he rented for 15 years, which just happens to be 4.5 miles from the FBI's Los Angeles field office up on Wilshire Boulevard.
On Keith Olbermann
Not a word from me about Anthony Weiner. Instead, go read what K.Flay had to say about all this, as she has it exactly right. (If you visit she will also, out of the kindness of her heart, hook you up with lots of her music, free of charge, which is très sweet.)
Olbermann is back, if you did not yet know, on Al Gore's Current channel, which means you probably have to go to the website to see him (unless you have either DirecTV, or Dish, or a cooperative cable company), but it's worth the effort.
Since Current lacks content, he can be seen "on air" at nearly any hour of the day (the "official" time: 8 PM weeknights on the East Coast, 5 on the West), which reminds me of "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" in a couple of ways (much respect, "Vanguard"); we'll be watching to see how that shapes up over time with great interest.
On Enlightenment and Marriage Equality
Next up, perhaps the best story of "taking your enlightenment where you find it" in history:
So the Dalai Lama walks into a bar and tells the bartender: "Make me one with everything."
Does everyone remember that guy in Florida a few weeks back who said God wanted him to burn the Qur'an, so he went out and burned him some?
Has anyone noticed that, just a few weeks later, Florida is now so overwhelmed with fires that they are running out of people to send to fight them, and that most of them, evidently, were started by lightning?
Does that make you more or less likely to be an atheist - or a comic - or do you find that compassion in the face of the bad karma of others is the right way?
In our final comment today, we offer congratulations to New York's LBGT community, who, thanks to the passage of marriage equality legislation, are now just as free to be just as miserable as any other married couple in the State. In your honor, we'll close out today's story with a joke, courtesy of the great Henny Youngman:
So the wife and I are laying in bed, and she looks over at me and says: "What's the matter, honey? Can't you think of anyone else either?"