Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Rare Sincerity

Not an elegant solution, stripping the individual tweets like this, but I hope y’all will overcome your aesthetic instincts to read the whole thing anyways:

2/ I watched the segment @chrislhayes did tonight RE whether Trump called or sent letters to the families of the 4 soldiers KIA in Niger
3/ it kinda unexpectedly wrecked me. I heard about it earlier, & like w much that he does, my response was sarcastic humor. But watching…
4/…it overwhelmed me, & I ended up in tears. It was one of those moments where it was devastating to think about the defective human…
5/…now with power to make some of the most consequential decisions w the most catastrophic effects in human history. Specifically…
6/…it reminded me of my role in bringing a dog from Iraq to the United States. In 2006 I managed a Congressional campaign vs a Repub…
7….incumbent who–like nearly every one of them-voted for the Iraq War. As late as early 2006 there were still a lot of Dems afraid of…
9/…opposing the Iraq War & making the campaign centered on it. Like many Dems unafraid of opposing the war, he won. He asked me to be…
10/…his chief of staff. And in 2007 I took on the job of setting up his operation & positioning him for reelection.
*****

14/…BUT, he was not elected to represent only people opposed to or not involved in the war. He was elected to represent all +700,000 people in his district…
*****

19/ Fast forward a few months. We get word the family had tried to get help from one of the state’s 2 Repub…
20/…senators but we’re getting ignored. They reached out to us. The last photo of their son was him holding a puppy. The next day…
21/…he was killed. They wanted to know if we could he them bring them the puppy. From Iraq. To the US. From the start, I made it clear..
22/…I would likely fire anyone on our staff who should do any of the following: A. Guarantee we could get the dog B. Request anything…
23/…that could get anyone else wounded or killed C. Mention anything about what we were doing to anyone in the press. This was…
24/…something the family wanted. We were doing it for them, & because their son had made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation. Remember
25/…the man we worked for was elected for opposing the war in which their son was killed. I assumed they voted for the Repub incumbent…
26/…but _it didn’t matter. We had a duty to act in the interests of everyone in the district. And we took that duty seriously. So, for…

27/…the next several months, in addition to all out normal work, & helping a guardswoman who’d gone AWOL to attend a custody hearing…
28/… for her son, & a soldier who wanted to donate a kidney to his mom, we worked to find a street dog in Iraq, get it quarantined…
29/…in Iraq, transported through three countries, & delivered to a family in the US, & keep it secret from the press. The help we got…
30/…still makes me choke up; the soldier’ squad, the commander of the 82nd Airborne, DHL, customs officials in three countries…
31…and especially the 20-somethings on our staff who took on this task as professional, as public servsnts, as patriots, and as…
32…this connects to today–as serious people doing serious work. When I saw the tape of Trump today, I wanted to punch the screen…


***********

Apart from resolving to NEVER STOP RESISTING, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Readership Capture: The Obamas Continue to Push the Envelope

This is very cool, at least for us snooty high-culture types. From TPM:

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on Friday announced the two artists commissioned to paint the gallery’s official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

The former President, the Smithsonian said, selected Kehinde Wiley to paint his portrait. And Michelle Obama chose the painter Amy Sherald.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the pair are the first black artists hired by the gallery to paint portraits of the President and first lady. The publication noted that, far from being lesser-known names in the art world, as is often the case with presidential portrait painters, both Wiley and Sherald have “major followings.”…

Sherald and Wiley have those followings because they deserve them. I haven’t had the good fortune to see either of these artists’ work in person, but I have read enough about them to be excited by this choice. Barack and Michelle Obama are, of course, very smart people whose tastes extend well beyond the usual ‘safe’ sanitized portraitists. If you click over on the YouTube clips, there’s tons of other meaty visual material from both artists to help enlighten your weekend…



Heroes Are Important

There’s a new movie out: “Battle of the Sexes.” Seen it yet? I haven’t, but I plan to.

Martha Crawford, an eloquent psychotherapist, did see the movie and shared her childhood recollections about the event the film depicts on Twitter. It made for an incredibly powerful story.

I’ve rendered Ms. Crawford’s tweets in paragraph form below the fold… Read more



Happy Birthday, John Prine

It’s this master of the American song’s 71st today. Meant to post earlier, but Prine’s good for a couple of lullabyes too.

I’ve seen him live only once, decades ago. A great time then.  His music has only grown on me.  His songs appear simple, and some of them actually are; they’re all reach deep.

Here are a couple of favorites; add your own below.

 

And, of course:

I could go on, but no need. Fill in the many gaps I’ve left…

I wish we lived in a better led, better spirited time and place. Listening to this helps me believe that might yet come to us all.

Open thread, all.








Tuesday Morning Open Thread: This Is Who We Are


.

“America” — meaning that almost-entirely-white, very-largely-male portion of the population that gets to write the laws and set the norms for the rest of us — has an addiction problem. “America” is addicted to guns, to the noise and the power and the ever-ready hard shaft of The All-American Weapon. Like any other addiction, presumably it started as a way to salve some unspeakable pain, to lubricate the sharp edges of the consequences to some decision gone terribly wrong. But now it’s an overwhelming burden all its own, a disconnect at the heart of all our political interactions, something that even those of us who don’t share the addiction have to plan our lives around.

James Fallows, in the Atlantic“Two Dark American Truths From Las Vegas”:

The dead and the wounded, and their family and friends, of course deserve most support and sympathy. But their fellow countrymen should reflect on two dark truths the episode underscores. I was going to end that sentence with “reveals,” but that’s not right: We know these things already.

The first is that America will not stop these shootings. They will go on. We all know that, which makes the immediate wave of grief even worse.

Five years ago, after what was the horrific mass shooting of that moment, I wrote an item called “The Certainty of More Shootings.” It was about the massacre in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and after acknowledging the victims it said:

The additional sad, horrifying, and appalling point is the shared American knowledge that, beyond any doubt, this will happen again, and that it will happen in America many, many times before it occurs anywhere else.

That remains true now. I expect it to be true five years from now. I am an optimist about most aspects of America’s resilience and adaptability, but not about reversing America’s implicit decision to let these killings go on…

Here’s the other dark truth about America that today’s shooting reminds us of. The identity of the shooter doesn’t affect how many people are dead or how grievously their families and communities are wounded. But we know that everything about the news coverage and political response would be different, depending on whether killer turns out to be “merely” a white American man with a non-immigrant-sounding name.

That’s who most mass-shooters turn out to be, from Charles Whitman at the University of Texas tower back in 1966 onward. And from Whitman onward, killers of this sort are described as “deranged” or “disturbed” or “resentful,” their crimes a reflection of their own torment rather than any larger trend or force… These people are indeed deranged and angry and disturbed, and the full story of today’s killer is not yet known. It is possible that he will prove to have motives or connections beyond whatever was happening in his own mind… But we know that if the killers were other than whites with “normal” names, the responsibility for their crime would not be assigned solely to themselves and their tortured psyches….

This is who we are.

I was going to add, “—unless we decide to change,” but that’s the kind of mandatory-uplift note you put, because you have to, at the end of a speech.

This is who we are.

There’s only two “cures” for any addiction: the addict can give up his drug, or he can chase the high until it kills him. Right now, I’m not feeling optimistic about the ammosexuals among us — or the powerful white men who profit from their desperation — ever giving up the temporary high just because it’s predictably going to destroy them. (Along with every other person they love almost as much as their guns.)



Hurricane Maria’s Aftermath: The Leaks Become A Flood

Trump’s Oval Office Occupation has shattered so many norms, it’s impossible to assess what “bad news” might be for him. But this is an ongoing tragedy in real time — not just in Puerto Rico, either…



Hanging up the whistle

This is me this morning:

My ankle decided to not work for me early in the week. This is not unusual. Usually it will hurt like a bastard for half an hour and then I am good. This time it was different. Three days out of the injury despite the normal rest, ice, compression, elevation and not getting up more than I have to routine, I was still hurting. So I had it checked out.

The initial analysis is that my ankle is held together with duct tape and chicken wire. There is nothing too serious from the most recent injury , but there are a couple of bone chips floating around and worn smooth after years of not being detected in the ankle as well as visible damage from repeated sprains and other soft tissue injuries. I have a follow-up visit scheduled soon for more advanced diagnostics and planning. My inclination is to go with conservative treatment as I don’t want surgery unless it is a guarantee of 100% functionality.

I had been cutting back on my refereeing before this most recent injury.

When I was in Pittsburgh, refereeing was a key component of the family budget. We had two kids in day care for several years and then as my daughter got to school, her little brother was still in daycare. Refereeing made day care plausible. The fragmented buyer side and fairly well organized supply side of the referee market meant that I was taking home, after travel time, taxes and expenses, roughly what I was taking home from working a real job. I enjoyed it, I loved working with a great crew and I got to explore Western Pennsylvania and most of West Virginia.

When I came down to North Carolina, I noticed very early on that the buyer side was extremely concentrated and getting more so and the supply side was fragmented and disorganized. The game fees are lower, the number of games assigned at one field are less and the travel distance is far greater due to league organization. On net, after travel time and expenses, refereeing in North Carolina is a $12 an hour gig.

A few weeks ago on Saturday morning, my son, who started kindergarten this week, was watching television. He saw me dressed in ref shorts and a black t-shirt going out the side door.

“Daddy, are you going to soccer today?” He asked plaintively.

“Nope, just throwing out the trash and getting coffee”

“Can I come get coffee with you?”

“Get some pants on” He giggled. We spent fifteen minutes finding the most awesome pair of pants ever for him to wear.

I had already decided to make myself available on an extremely limited basis. If I thought my kids were going to be asleep or visiting the grandparents, I had openings on my schedule. I had taken a few games here and there just so I could stay on the field. But 2017’s game count was struggling to get to a score when usually I was turning down assignments to avoid being double and triple booked.

With a freshly jacked up ankle, the decision that I probably would have made next year just accelerated. I am hanging up my whistle and my flags. I’ll still re-certify but I don’t think I’m taking games again until I become perpetually embarrassing to both of my kids and they want me out of the house and away from being potentially seen by their friends.

I’ll miss the field, I’ll miss the camaradary and the dynamic mental challenge of riding a game to the edge and pulling the players back right before it devolves into mass chaos. I’ll miss that. But I’m okay with missing that if it means I can ask my 5 year old if he wants to get coffee with me on a Saturday morning.