Monday, September 28, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

Locally, teachers score these tests, but this essay (soon to be a book) shows how truly difficult it is to score the subjective portions, whether you're an educator or not.


The things I agreed with him on may have been limited to proper use of the conditional, but he represents to me the last bastion of intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken conservatism, and for that, I'll miss William Safire.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birds in the Woods

I saw this guy yesterday as I walked down the driveway. And we've heard a lot from this guy at night.

Required Reading

Frank Rich on a book that offers eerie parallels between the tipping point of Vietnam under JFK and Afghanistan under Barack, including a nice comparison of the Karzais to the Diems.
Much as Vietnam could not be secured over the centuries by China, France, Japan or the United States, so Afghanistan has been a notorious graveyard for the ambitions of Alexander the Great, the British and the Soviets. “Some states in world politics are simply not susceptible to intervention by the great powers,” Goldstein told me. He also notes that the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Vietnam share the same geographical advantage. As the porous border of neighboring North Vietnam provided sanctuary and facilitated support to our enemy then, so Pakistan serves our enemy today.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meet the Candidates BBQ

Today in Stewart Park, around 4 PM on a chilly but sunny day, we will eat chicken and meet our local candidates and hear speeches and be very glad that we're dealing with local politics and not national or state politics. Pix to follow. LATER: Or not--forgot the camera!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

America: Exceptional and Unique, Both

Thanks to Kris for passing this one along.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reading List

Diane L recommended this one, which is by the son of someone she works with. It takes place in NYC a few years before I got there in the '70s, but the landscape is terribly familiar. Inspired by the famous, prophetic photograph of a plane, the Trade Towers, and Philippe Petit, it's a lovely tale of the missed chances, chance collisions, and near misses that make up real life.

Liked 'Em Better When They Were Silent

The Cornell Dems are sharing this, which needs no commentary.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yes, You Are a Racist

Maureen Dowd has joined those of us who find the delegitimizing of the Prez all about race. The Confederates are coming out of the attic.
The state that fired the first shot of the Civil War has now given us this: Senator Jim DeMint exhorted conservatives to “break” the president by upending his health care plan. Rusty DePass, a G.O.P. activist, said that a gorilla that escaped from a zoo was “just one of Michelle’s ancestors.” Lovelorn Mark Sanford tried to refuse the president’s stimulus money. And now Joe Wilson.

Friday, September 11, 2009


The skyline as it appeared when I arrived in NYC in 1978.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Site

The Dryden Democrats have a nice, new website, courtesy of Wendy Martin and Simon St. Laurent.

Secede, South Carolina!

It's always those boys from SC who make a mockery of the halls of Congress. In 1902, two SC senators were censured for coming to blows over the Philippine conflict. In that case, it was Democrat Tillman, a white supremacist, who assaulted his counterpart. He had previously vowed to "poke old Grover [Cleveland] with a pitchfork."

After that, "conduct unbecoming a senator" became grounds for censure. I don't know the rules for representatives, but I think censure might be too good for Joe Wilson. There are already petitions circulating for that purpose.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Respecting the Office

When I was in school, it would not have been uncommon to see an assignment that asked students to write an essay about how they could help the President meet his goals for America. Then came Watergate. We learned that presidents were fallible and even criminal, and we started deconstructing them. Entire books were written about JFK's parade of girlfriends, when previously, that subject had been taboo. The derision that began with making fun of Jimmy Carter's accent and sweaters now has culminated with fury over Obama's speech to schoolchildren, which was as mild and conservative a speech as you'll ever hear.

Oddly, I'm pretty sure that the people who kept their children home are the same ones we saw come out in Dryden to rail against our town supervisor, who does not say the pledge of allegiance. This brings up an interesting question: Can you divorce the position of president from love of country? Are the two intertwined, or has the culture of celebrity separated them?

I probably never would have said this back when LBJ was running the place, but I think we'd better get back to a position of respecting the office even when we revile the person in the office. Otherwise, we look pretty stupid trying to impose our system of government on others. I would never have kept O home if GWBush had come to her school to read a book about goats. I would have recognized the historicity of the moment and encouraged her to pay attention.

This in no way contradicts the fact that if our current president fails to lead on health care, I will feel free to vilify him any way I can. There's a difference between disagreement with the person and disrespect for the office. To my enormous surprise, given their previous "my country right or wrong" philosophy, that's a nicety the far right seems to have rejected.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

State Fair 2009!

KAZ in the Journal

I had to cut 250 words, and they printed it weeks after I sent it in, but here it is.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sad News

Every state probably has one fleabitten journalist who burrows deep into the state capital and has to be carried out feet first. NY's is Jay Gallagher, who has reported on state doings for Gannett for 25 years. Now he's been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Of course, he's writing a blog on the experience. It's bad news for those of us who've relied on him to tell the truth about the Three Men in a Room and other gross injustices in Albany.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Push Back

September 2nd @7:30 pm, Vigil in the Park for a Public Health Care Option Now!

Please join the local MoveOn Vigil in handicap-accessible DeWitt Park, in downtown Ithaca, on Wednesday, September 2nd at 7:30pm. Help us send a message to Congress: We need a public health care option NOW!

Help get the word to Representatives Arcuri, Hinchey, and Massa to stand strong for a good health care bill.

Current, accurate information about the health care bill(s) will be available. Please feel free to bring any brief personal stories related to health care. Bring candles or flashlight.