Open Thread

Been a long and busy, yet productive day. I’m exhausted and watching the Silver Linings Playbook. Kind of funny that Cooper is such a smash hit, when I still remember him as the boyfriend from Season 1 of Alias. And is Jennifer Lawrence just beautiful or what?

It’s the end of the semester, so I have been dealing with all the end of the semester BS while also trying to wind down the year for the fraternity boys. Went to get a bunch of plaques made for the award ceremony on Friday, and tomorrow I have to go get the composite framed. One of the boys is coming with me (the old President), and I told him we would do that, then go get lunch and a pedicure (I figured he would want one, he plays football and I figgered his feet would be mangled). Instead I was told I was gay.

Exactly what about taking care of your feet is gay? I really do not get all the sexual hangups in this country. Hell, every Pittsburgh Steeler got manicures and pedicures because they understood their feet and their hands were their livelihood, and some of the most butch straight guys I know from the military get pedicures, because combat boots kill your damned feet.

We are a really weird country. Apparently, in order to be manly, you have to have shitty feet, a jacked up pick-up truck, listen to really bad music like Toby Keith, and develop heart disease. I don’t get it. I never will.

I like to feel good. Call me a fag all you want.

Gimme little drink

Are there people out there who enjoy readings things written “with a regulated sobriety”? I realize that prolonged listening to NPR Is a slow-mo lobotomy, but I like to think that even if I lacked a prefrontal cortex, I’d still reach for my revolver whenever I heard the word “nonpartisan”. Bobo:

But the detached writer wants to be a few steps away from the partisans. She is progressive but not Democratic, conservative but not Republican. She fears the team mentality will blinker her views. She wants to remain mentally independent because she sees politics as a competition between partial truths, and she wants the liberty to find the proper balance between them, issue by issue.

The detached writer believes that writing is more like teaching than activism. Her essays are generally not about winning short-term influence. (Realistically, how many times can an outside writer shape the short-term strategies of the insider politicians?) She would rather have an impact upstream, shaping people’s perceptions of underlying reality and hoping that she can provide a context in which other people can think. She sometimes gets passionate about her views, but she distrusts her passions. She takes notes with emotion, but aims to write with a regulated sobriety.

If you enjoy writers like the one Bobo describes here, you are not a human being.

And Now The Next Task

So — we know what’s coming up next in Massachusetts: Ed Markey vs. Gabriel Gomez.  Markey’s a 36 year veteran in the House; Gomez is an alledgedly “pure” non politician with all the attributes the national Republican Party wants to see — Latino, a former Seal, private-equity “job creating” vampire.

We’ve seen how this can play out even in not-as-liberal-as-our-rep Massachusetts.  Remember Senator Coakley?

There are real, big differences this time of course.  No Obamacare debate, nor teabagger summer of 2009.  We’ve seen the Republican party in its howling glory a lot in the last two and half years, and Massachusetts Democrats are profoundly committed to not watching Scott Brown II play at any multiplexes next year.  Not to mention Ed Markey isn’t Martha Coakley, for which I’m grateful indeed.  But I’m deeply mindful of what about a dozen of us heading out to canvass for Markey on Sunday heard from this guy:

Dukakis crop

Mike Dukakis was a damn good governor, and he would have made a much better president than Bush the elder.  Dukakis is particularly admirable because, in the tradition of the good guys, he hasn’t dropped out of public life or public service just because he’s not running for anything anymore.  And boy does he know his home town.

I’d never met him before, and so after we chatted for a while, he asked me where in Brookline I live.  I’m on a truly minor one block long street which boasts a grand total of, I think, seven houses that actually have addresses on our road (we’ve got a couple more on the corners that the larger through streets claim).  I said the street name and started to explain where it was and he stopped me.  “I know them all,” he said, and I believe the man.

So what did he say?  He told us to get out and knock on every door — not just Sunday, but as much as we could before today, and then again, as much as we can, over and over again between now and June 25th, the day of the general election.  We’ve know what happens when we don’t, he reminded us — and the he said not to pay any attention to the numbers.  “I’m the guy who was 40% ahead of Ed King with five weeks to go and lost that election.”  (Quoting from memory, backed up by this interview.)

The point is obvious, right?

Ed Markey is a hard core, old fashioned liberal.  The kind of senator we need right now, in ever greater numbers.  He’s going to start out with a substantial lead.  About three times as many Democrats as Republicans voted in this primary.  Markey’s vote total alone exceeds the GOP vote for all three of their candidates.  And he can lose.  If he doesn’t campaign better than Martha Coakley did, he may well lose.  He won’t, both because I think it is actually physically impossible to do a worse job in an election than Coakley, and because he’s not stupid.  He’s not a charismatic guy at all, but he works and works and works.  Which is all good.

But there are no guarantees.

So my wife and I will be handing over a few more bucks, and we’ll be hitting the phones and knocking on doors.  The state party’s a lot smarter than it was when it let Brown blindside everyone three years ago, and the national party isn’t going to let this one slip either.  But if any of y’all are in the area, we could use your help.  Ask Mike Dukakis.  He’ll tell you.

Open Thread

Not much going on.  Nice quiet evening at work babysitting Windows 7 roll-outs.  It’s a pretty evening outside and the weather has been nice in OKC the last couple of days.  The new house is coming along fine.  We hope to have it complete in about two or three weeks, weather permitting.  I’ve been working evenings the last three weeks, so that’s why you haven’t seen me around except the occasional comment.  Not that you all missed me.
So let’s have a nice shiny new open thread, just because I can.

Happy Cat Rescue Update

klokanek LiteraryFamily

From commentor FoxinSocks:

When last we spoke, I was struggling to find a home for Cornelia, Julius, and Portia, and keep them together as a family. Now, they’ve got excellent new names – Persimmon, Huckleberry, and Peaseblossom – and a wonderful new owner. That’s right, frequent BJ lurker and infrequent poster Klokanek has adopted them and has been spoiling them rotten ever since (as they should be!).

I understand Persimmon, ever the elegant cat, likes to spend her days lounging on the sofa in the living room or sitting atop the bar, overseeing the grading of papers. Huckleberry, meanwhile, is forever in want of a lap and Peaseblossom, who bonded to her new owner almost instantly, keeps herself busy by attacking the feet monsters that lurk under the covers at night.

All of this is on top of a busy regimen of wrestling, snuggling, and napping together, so I think it’s safe to say these are some very happy, and lucky, kitties!Thanks so much to you and the Balloon Juice community for all your help and support. You guys are amazing.

klokanek Huckleberry Read more

Open Thread: O’Keefe’s Old Folks Army

Even plague-ridden weasels gotta pay their dues, play those small-venue tours. Alex Morris at NYMag finds a professional ratfcker at a low ebb in the electoral cycle:

The agents of truth are massing. They wear pleated slacks and wire-frame glasses, button-downs and blazers, sensible shoes. They congregate over muffins and oatmeal in a beigeish room on the twelfth floor of a Hilton in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. There are two people of color, but otherwise the agents appear blissfully Anglo-Saxon; some wear tea-party pins. The average age looks to be roughly 63, though that figure would be a few digits higher were it not for the eventual arrival of 28-year-old keynote speaker James O’Keefe, most famous for secretly filming a video that seems to show workers from the liberal community group acorn advising him on how to conceal income from an imaginary brothel. This, among other gonzo YouTube videos revealing alleged liberal misdeeds and hypocrisies, makes him a hero in this room. The agents of truth want to be like O’Keefe, rooting out liberal bias, shining light into the dark corners of corrupt government, and, perhaps most important, getting linked to by Drudge.

And so, on a sunny April morning, here they are at a Citizen Watchdog Summit aimed at training them in the art of citizen journalism, an event sponsored by the conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which was created with support from David and Charles Koch…

O’Keefe assures his aging army that it’s a daunting task to break through the “media firewall” and portray the truth. There will be suffering, maybe even public disgrace, like what O’Keefe faced when he was arrested at the office of Senator Mary Landrieu after entering the federal property under false pretenses. “You can only imagine what it feels like to be shackled to your waist with a leather belt and chains and a Timothy McVeigh jumpsuit, put on the front page of the New York Times; you can only imagine how difficult it would be to continue. But I continued. Are you willing to make the sacrifices? Are you willing to be slandered and defamed, falsely accused?”

An older woman in a flowered turtleneck shirt raises her hand.


“My husband and I are fighting with our local township,” she says, her voice brimming with indignation. “What they came and did was end the curb so all the road’s storm water runs down our driveway, and in the winter it makes our driveway one solid sheet of ice. And thank you for the YouTube. We have photographs of the icy driveway, and we’ll be working on publishing.”…

After his presentation, O’Keefe can be found at a window near the back that looks out over his home state’s highways and warehouses. As a part of his three-year probation, he can’t travel without permission from a judge, a U.S. attorney, and a probation officer, he says.* This makes it hard for him to round up his army of citizen watchdogs, though he tells me that, along with continuing to make his videos, it is “definitely one of the more important things that I do.” Not that the law is the only obstacle. “To be a disrupter, to go against the grain—the hardest part for me is just getting them to do that. They’re all 50-plus. They’re always older. Probably the most frustrating thing about what I do is that people who have lived through a lot can identify more, but once you have a family, a house, you’re entrenched.” He pauses. “People in their twenties are going to be more likely to make sacrifices, but they’re just not there yet.”

It’s like the old joke about the circus worker following the elephants with a shovel and a bucket. Sure, O’Keefe could find a (semi-) honest job fetching coffee and tweeting Reason links, but then he’d have to give up show business!
Apart from the inescapable bucket work, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

The Way Things Work


Until yesterday, I thought that opening a dishwasher door during a cycle would cause catastrophic flooding. I’ve never really thought about how dishwashers operate, though I recently purchased and helped install one.

When I was considering various units for my kitchen rehab, the sales dude did explain the differences between the different models and spraying doohickeys, but mostly all I heard was “Blah blah blah blah $450 dollars,” and “Blah blah blah blah $675 dollars.”

I guess I must’ve known on some level that a cycle didn’t entail the unit filling up completely with water. Why would it?

And yet I have always imagined exactly that, because yesterday, when my husband found a stray fork shortly after I’d started the dishwasher and went to open the door to add it to the rack, I reacted as if he’d moved to open the floodgates of the Hoover Dam.

We’ve been married long enough that he knows it’s pointless to argue with me, so he simply ignored my remonstrations and opened the door. And it just shut off. He added the fork and closed the door, and it started up again. It’s like the whole universe is a lie.