Some of the most intelligent group of words I’ve ever read

~ February 10th, 2016 9:38 am

From Ezra Klein on January 10, 2016…

On Monday, Donald Trump held a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he merrily repeated a woman in the crowd who called Ted Cruz a pussy. Twenty-four hours later Donald Trump won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide.

I’m not here to clutch my pearls over Trump’s vulgarity; what was telling, rather, was the immaturity of the moment, the glee Trump took in his “she-said-it-I-didn’t” game. The media, which has grown used to covering Trump as a sideshow, delighted in the moment along with him — it was funny, and it meant clicks, takes, traffic. But it was more than that. It was the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president showing off the demagogue’s instinct for amplifying the angriest voice in the mob.

It is undeniably enjoyable watching Trump. He’s red-faced, discursive, funny, angry, strange, unpredictable, and real. He speaks without filter and tweets with reckless abandon. The Donald Trump phenomenon is a riotous union of candidate ego and voter id. America’s most skilled political entertainer is putting on the greatest show we’ve ever seen.

It’s so fun to watch that it’s easy to lose sight of how terrifying it really is.
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Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.

Trump is in serious contention to win the Republican presidential nomination. His triumph in a general election is unlikely but it is far from impossible. He’s not a joke and he’s not a clown. He’s a man who could soon be making decisions of war and peace, who would decide which regulations are enforced and which are lifted, who would be responsible for nominating Supreme Court Justices and representing America in the community of nations. This is not political entertainment. This is politics.

Trump’s path to power has been unnerving. His business is licensing out his own name as a symbol of opulence. He has endured bankruptcies and scandal by bragging his way out of them. He rose to prominence in the Republican Party as a leader of the birther movement. He climbed to the top of the polls in this election by calling Mexicans rapists and killers. He defended a poor debate performance by accusing Megyn Kelly of being on her period. He responded to rival Ted Cruz’s surge by calling for a travel ban on Muslims. When two of his supporters attacked a homeless man and said they did it because “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” he brushed off complaints that he’s inspiring violence by saying his supporters are “very passionate.”

Behind Trump’s success is an unerring instinct for harnessing anger, resentment, and fear. His view of the economy is entirely zero-sum — for Americans to win, others must lose. “We’re going to make America great again,” he said in his New Hampshire victory speech, “but we’re going to do it the old fashioned way. We’re going to beat China, Japan, beat Mexico at trade. We’re going to beat all of these countries that are taking so much of our money away from us on a daily basis. It’s not going to happen anymore.”

Trump answers America’s rage with more rage. As the journalist Molly Ball observed, “All the other candidates say ‘Americans are angry, and I understand.’ Trump says, ‘I’M angry.'” Trump doesn’t offer solutions so much as he offers villains. His message isn’t so much that he’ll help you as he’ll hurt them.

Donald Trump Holds New Hampshire Primary Night Gathering In Manchester
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Trump’s other gift — the one that gets less attention, but is perhaps more important — is his complete lack of shame. It’s easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they’re exposed as liars, when they’re seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn’t. He has the reality television star’s ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won’t, to say what others can’t, to do what others wouldn’t.

Trump lives by the reality-television trope that he’s not here to make friends. But the reason reality-television villains always say they’re not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch. “I’m not here to make friends” is another way of saying “I’m not bound by the social conventions of normal people.” The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.

This, more than his ideology, is why Trump genuinely scares me. There are places where I think Trump’s instincts are an improvement on the Republican field. He seems more dovish than neoconservatives like Marco Rubio, and less dismissive of the social safety net than libertarians like Rand Paul. But those candidates are checked by institutions and incentives that hold no sway over Trump; his temperament is so immature, his narcissism so clear, his political base so unique, his reactions so strange, that I honestly have no idea what he would do — or what he wouldn’t do.

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked Trump about his affection for Vladimir Putin, who “kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries,” Trump replied, “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.” Later, he clarified that he doesn’t actually condone killing journalists, but, he warned the crowd, “I do hate them.”

It’s a lie that if you put a frog into a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat the frog will simply boil, but it’s a fact that if you put the American political system in a room with Trump for long enough we slowly lose track of how noxious he is, or we at least run out of ways to keep repeating it.

But tonight is a night to repeat it. There is something scary in Donald Trump. We should fear his rise.

Without a Sound

~ January 27th, 2016 10:15 am

1-27-2016 10-13-23 AMThe Fourth Sign of the Zodiac
-by Mary Oliver
1.
Why should I have been surprised?
Hunters walk the forest
without a sound.
The hunter, strapped to his rifle,
the fox on his feet of silk,
the serpent on his empire of muscles—
all move in a stillness,
hungry, careful, intent.
Just as the cancer
entered the forest of my body,
without a sound.

2.
The question is,
what will it be like
after the last day?
Will I float
into the sky
or will I fray
within the earth or a river—
remembering nothing?
How desperate I would be
if I couldn’t remember
the sun rising, if I couldn’t
remember trees, rivers; if I couldn’t
even remember, beloved,
your beloved name.

3.
I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

so why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

4.
Late yesterday afternoon, in the heat,
all the fragile blue flowers in bloom
in the shrubs in the yard next door had
tumbled from the shrubs and lay
wrinkled and fading in the grass. But
this morning the shrubs were full of
the blue flowers again. There wasn’t
a single one on the grass. How, I
wondered, did they roll back up to
the branches, that fiercely wanting,
as we all do, just a little more of
life?

Yourself included

~ January 4th, 2016 5:25 pm

“When will you have a little pity for every soft thing that walks through the world, yourself included?” Mary Oliver

The Titmouse

On the bitter winter ground
I found a small grey titmouse
With a broken wing.
As I stopped to consider
How I might help her,
It became apparent
That something else
Was also broken inside her,
And that she was dying.

It is the way of the world,
One animal will eat another animal,
And all animals,
(Including the human kind),
Eventually go back into the earth.
And yet
I could not leave her there,
To die alone in the snow.

I cradled her in my mittened hands
And warmed her with my breath,
Trying to make her
As comfortable as possible.
I hummed to her
And breathed a silent prayer
To the god of snow and spring
and small birds.

After a while, her eyes drifted closed.
She did not struggle or appear afraid.
She was beyond that now,
She was just infinitely tired
And wise,
In the way that things
Approaching a great mystery
Are often wise.

From A Permeable Life: Poems and Essays
by Carrie Newcomer

What I See

~ January 3rd, 2016 8:04 pm

IMG_1026What I See is the Light Falling All Around Us

To have understood some small piece of the world more deeply doesn’t have to mean we’re not as lost as before, or so it seems this morning, random bees stirring among the dogwood blossoms, a few here and there stirring differently, somehow, more like resisting stillness. . . Should it come to winnowing my addictions, I’d hold on hardest, I’m pretty sure, to mystery, though just yesterday, a perfect stranger was so insistent that I looked familiar, it seemed easier in the end to agree we must know each other.
To his body, a muscularity both at odds and at one with how fragile everything else about him, I thought, would be, if I could see inside. What’s the word for the kind of loneliness that can feel like swimming unassisted in a foreign language, for the very first time?

— Carl Phillips

Gratitude v Solidarity

~ January 3rd, 2016 8:27 am

“Saying grace to an abstract God is an evasion; there are crowds, whole communities of actual people, many of them with aching backs and tenuous finances, who made the meal possible.

The real challenge of gratitude lies in figuring out how to express our debt to them, whether through generous tips or, say, by supporting their demands for decent pay and better working conditions. But now we’re not talking about gratitude, we’re talking about a far more muscular impulse — and this is, to use the old-fashioned term, “solidarity” ” – Barbara Ehrenreich

Wisdom at 6th and I

~ January 2nd, 2016 11:05 am

“Sometimes I think the world is divided into 2 kinds of people…Those who divide the world into 2 kinds of people and those who don’t.”-Gloria Steinem at 6th & I Synagogue

First FB post of 2016

~ January 1st, 2016 6:45 am

Up and at ’em. These resolutions aren’t going to break themselves.

This saved my life those days

~ June 23rd, 2015 10:02 am

In the summer of the same year that Jim left on Mother’s Day weekend, a guy from work actually showed a little interest in me which made me feel nice and yes, worthy of someone’s love. Although I didn’t go out with him except for lunch, he gave me a picture to hang in my house with this poem on it. It, in part, saved my life.

After Awhile

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept
your defeats
with your head up
and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child

And you learn to build
all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground
is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way
of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.

And you learn
that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…

Another take on the same words…

Then After “after a while” you change and build your hopes again. And pray that maybe this time it will be different. And you hold on to that hope because in the end that’s all you really have..

AFTER “AFTER A WHILE”

After ‘after a while’
You want to hold a hand not to chain a soul but
to enjoy its company,
and you want someone’s lips to kiss,
not because you are lonely but because you are
happy, and you want to give presents
and you want to make promises.

After ‘after a while’
You begin to accept your defeats like an adult,
but like a child, will want someone to listen
and care,
and you want someone who will build roads with
you today so maybe you can pave the way for your
future together.

After ‘after a while’
You want someone’s sunshine and warmth,
but also accept the rain and the cold,
and you want to give flowers picked from your
own garden.

And when your garden is picture perfect,
you want it to be more than a picture
even if it means having to be imperfect
because you want someone in it to stay and to
live.

Then you’ll see that there is
such a thing as love…
and that you were made to live in someone else’s
garden…
and you’ll know that there is more to life than
yourself.

and finally, this take on it now…

You realize that no matter how tightly you hold,
if you’re meant to let go, you can
And then you will understand that love
gives you reasons to understand
even the most complicated situations
And you will grow older believing that just
because you have convictions
doesn’t mean you’re always right

You will remember lips because of the smiles
that made your day,
the words that touched your soul, not only
because of the sweet kisses

And as you graciously accept defeat and absorb
the meaning of lessons
learned,
You feel that you are finally being the person
you never thought you’d be

So, armed with courage, strength and confidence,
you will face the world
head on…
With or without an army behind you
Because you know your worth and that alone is an
armor.

Was I in search of something?

~ December 13th, 2014 3:03 pm

keep-calm-you-are-my-platonic-love
“Platonic” by Mary Ruefle:

Did it mean anything? The stone, the rose,
darkness, wood, wind, flame, the violin.
The practical man, the visible world,
the painted ponies, the sea, the wilderness
of cellophane, my last word, my crumpled message
to my friend? Was I in search of something,
tools maybe, or seeds, for many odd things
are stowed under the overthinking.
Let’s begin to talk about things,
and what they should be named,
and whether it will be necessary
to draw any of them.
The sound of the teakettle—
it was the most terrible thing in the world.
Sometimes it was a wolf, and sometimes
a man or a woman, whatever it felt like,
even falling cherry blossoms, and always
it could take you out, and then it did,
leaving the whole room as impressive
as an unexplored cave.

Pottery Barn

~ November 5th, 2014 3:44 pm

You Broke It, You Won It

By JOSH MARSHALL, NOVEMBER 5, 2014, 3:19 PM EST

Pottery Barn“To prevent Obama from becoming the hero who fixed Washington, McConnell decided to break it. And it worked.” That’s from Matt Yglesias in a post he published yesterday evening before the scope of the GOP victory became fully clear. This is succinct and it is correct.

Indeed, in key respects it worked in 2010. By many measures Republicans should have won the Senate in 2010 and 2012. But each year they were hobbled by a raft of crazy and indisciplined senate candidates who squandered what should have been easy or at least odds-on wins. This year, the terrain was heavily weighted in their favor. And they kept their candidates on the straight and narrow.
But if this was the plan (and it was) and if it worked (which it did) we should ask, why?
We’re hearing that President Obama was poor at messaging and keeping his voters involved and invested, that Dems aren’t tough or combated enough or didn’t stick together enough. All of these are true to some degree. But it doesn’t explain why they are true or why the Democrats don’t seem to be able to do the same sort of thing.

I think there are two answers, the first of which is more relevant at the moment. That is that it is much easier to break the government and reap the benefits of doing so if you are not the party of government. This is obvious when you put it this way. But it’s worth considering what a central reality this is.

We should also remember that this is exactly what Republicans did in 1993 and 1994. The script was identical. The difference is actually a good one for Democrats in that they got a lot more accomplished in 2009-10 than the more entrenched Democratic majority of 1993-94. Still, the strategy was identical and it had a similar result – the difference being needing three cycles to finally grab the Senate.

The second point is that the Democratic party has a different structure from the Republican party. Both are coalitions. Big national parties have to be. But the Democratic party is a more disparate coalition. The base of the GOP has long been more coherent. And that makes the primary-ing mania that helps keep the GOP so unified on Capitol Hill possible.

None of this is meant as a counsel of despair. I think the Democratic party’s future is bright. More importantly I think its central goals remain in the ascendent. But addressing the shortcomings I noted above must happen by treating these realities as the starting point of the discussion, accepting them. They cannot be ignored.