Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slightly North of the Border, Down Mexico Way

This afternoon I'm bound for Austin, Texas, meeting my dear friend M, thence to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where I'll be campaigning for Obama until the election.

This may mean no Friday Poetry, as I'm not sure what my internet access will be like with my lovely host family. It may, in fact, mean no blogging until after the election, because I don't feel like dragging my computer with me. If so:

This blog formally endorses Barack Obama. We believe that his centeredness and dedication to his vision of America, as well as his spirited, clearly not-programmed daughters, are what we need in the White House if we're to clean up even the slightest bit of this mess in the next four years. We believe that his experience in community organizing and in constitutional law, along with his work as a legislator on both the state and national level, qualify him for the office of the President far beyond any particular executive experience. Executive protocol can be taught; professionalism, focus and leadership cannot. Barack Obama has exhibited graceful leadership in the manner in which he has run his campaign, in his organized thought (as exemplified by an interview with his running mate in Newsweek three weeks ago), and in his consistent efforts to keep the campaign to the facts and the pragmatics. Barack Obama exhibits skills, talents and personality traits that we desperately need in the executive branch right now.

Just so it's official. In the meantime, I'll liveblog if I can; if not, VOTE, ferfuckssake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008


I do believe I'm changing my mind.

I previously stated that this blog would retire after Election Day 2008. But right now I'm having too much fun, and I really am not going to feel secure until Obama's inauguration, either way. I won't feel the era is over.

So I am, at the very least, extending the blog's retirement date until January 20, 2009. At which point I'll be in Ghana, so it will at least go on hiatus. But we'll revisit the topic then.

In the meantime, look forward to two more months of parsley-covered text than you were expecting!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Poetry: Mark Strand

Mark Strand
Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Educational Interlude

I wrote the following to the lovely 20-year-old woman who runs the organization for which I will be working in Ghana. We were having some semantic communication problems as we both attended a Theater of the Oppressed workshop. I have trouble with Theater of the Oppressed, for reasons I've already chronicled in this blog and other reasons I'm sure I will chronicle. My boss wished to be sure that I would nevertheless base my theater curriculum in critical pedagogy and dialogue, and this was my response.

I like it, and because it sounds more confident than I feel right now, I want it up here to reassure me about my upcoming journey and my own abilities.

I am a complete and unapologetic Freirean, which is to say, I think any and all good pedagogy is critical pedagogy. A curriculum that doesn't encourage critical thinking is, to me, anti-humanist, something to which I could never be committed, and which I would most certainly never create. Critical thinking has to be a goal of all my educational work, and I am thrilled that it's the goal of the organization as well. So I hope that I have at no point implied that I am in conflict with such a goal.

Nor am I expecting any of these kids to be the next Wole Soyinka. Most art created by kids, by any "objective" standard of quality, comes out looking pretty silly, and I don't think this program will be the magical exception. Some exciting and dynamic work will be created, if I do my job right, but nothing that's going to revolutionize the world or the arts, at least not yet.

All I mean when I say "I want the kids to create good art" (or whatever I've said along those lines) is that if we want a critical thinking curriculum, to that end alone, we can create that. I think your program's Girls' Club has created that already. It is incredibly valuable, as is a person's ability to recognize her own oppression (and, for that matter, when she is acting as an oppressor). Both of those things are elements of theater, and theater is also about something else, and I want to be sure that I am teaching that other skill set, as well. In pedagogies like "theater for critical thinking" or Theater of the Oppressed, that skill set often falls by the wayside, or is dismissed as unimportant. It is important; it is the difference between theater and academics, theater and self-worth, theater and therapy. Academics should be taught and valued, self-worth should be taught and valued, therapy should be taught and valued. I am a theater teacher.

I believe, deeply, in the value of dialogue and conversations. I believe, further, that good theater by its nature creates dialogue and conversations. If I teach good theater, and particularly if I teach it with knowledge of critical pedagogy, dialogue, conversation and (at least some) intellectual independence *will* follow. I know it's going to be a hard road, and likely a harder road than I can imagine at the moment, and that I will have to make a lot of alterations as I come to understand the culture more and more. But if anything I believe about people and how they work is correct, then both of us will be more than satisfied with how this pans out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Darlin' Companion: a mini-rant

I've been doing a lot more of these brief posts lately. It makes me feel more like a Blogger, with a capital B, but I also have a lot more time on my hands. I'm working on a few dense essays as well, but I'm not positive anyone but me misses them. :>D


Let me admit up front that I am a little bit in love with Rachel Maddow, the delightful host of The Rachel Maddow Show, a new liberally slanted news show on MSNBC. I became aware of her because my mother is obsessed with Keith Olbermann, host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which is followed by Maddow's much more compelling show. (I love Olbermann's "special comments," overly articulate, intense bursts of righteous indignation, but they're rare these days and his smugness in the face of Obama's likely victory has started to really piss me off.) Rachel Maddow is incredibly intelligent, incredibly articulate, a mere 35 years of age, and boosting ratings at a startling level for MSNBC, as the New York Times discussed in this article today.

The article doesn't mention that Maddow is an out lesbian, the first lesbian anchor of a major news program (as opposed to, say, host of a talk show). That would be fine with me for the most part; her news program is not about her sexual orientation, and she mentions it only occasionally and in passing, like any old-school anchor might make reference to his perspective or his wife. But at the end of the article Stelter mentions that Maddow has finally purchased a television so that "her companion can watch her program."

Um, "girlfriend" and "partner" are both options here. "Companion" could as easily refer to a seeing-eye dog as a cohabitating girlfriend—it's a ridiculously vague and condescending term, thrown in at the end of the article as if we were expected to miss it. The sentence seems a throwback to the 1950s, or to be generous the 1980s, when you might be aware that a public figure was a homosexual but you nevertheless felt it was decorous or polite to hide it. But this is 2008, and it's fucking ridiculous. Maddow has made no secret of her sexual orientation, Brian Stelter; why do you feel the need to obfuscate it? Who are you trying to protect?

Palin(g) in Comparison, Part the Fourth

Milligan posted this.

Sometimes things just speak for themselves.

Monday, October 20, 2008

So What If He Is?

I am supremely impressed with Colin Powell.

Not simply for the endorsement, although it's much-appreciated in and of itself. But for being the first public figure to say "He is obviously not a Muslim—but so what if he were?" The Obama campaign has not managed to say that yet. In calling Dearborn, Michigan for the campaign, I have spoken to a lot of American Muslims who support Mr. Obama wholeheartedly, and it would have been nice to see him really rise to the defense of that community while simultaneously fighting the smears.

Now Mr. Powell has done exactly that. So high praise and kudos to Mr. Powell.

It almost makes up for his capitulations under the Bush administration.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

To Your Health

In switching my health insurance from Illinois to New York, my quarterly premiums have quintupled.

Yes, you heard me. QUINTUPLED.

(Actually, I'm not sure that's the word you use for multiplication, but fuck it.)

I would like to inform John McCain that that totals way, way, WAAAAAAY more than $5000 annually. As do the premiums—never mind appointments and drugs and the like—for any health plan one can possibly get when based in New York City.

So? says John McCain. You can get any policy you want in any state you want! Don't you understand?

Mr. McCain, do you honestly think that insurance companies in small, cheap states are equipped to handle the influx of New York City residents? Or is it that you think they won't adjust their premiums accordingly?

Make no mistake, team: the McCain/Palin "health plan" would be the death rattle for health care in the United States. I would not say this about all of McCain and Palin's views, but anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain deluded.

Friday, October 17, 2008


This election makes me feel optimistic in spite of my best efforts (and you know how good my best efforts are). This may be the best skill of both Barack Obama and the Obamabots.

Barack Obama is going to have trouble being President. He's inheriting a merciless disaster in the White House and even more financial drama throughout the nation. He's going to be more threatened with assassination than any other president in American history, and some of those threats could come from within. He has a deeply distrustful percentage of the electorate to contend with. He is not speaking the complete truth about all his plans: I believe him on taxes, but foreign policy is definitely going to be worse on all of us than he's giving it credit for, and I sincerely doubt he's gonna get us out of Iraq within that first term. And he's got two kids under the age of twelve.

And he still makes me feel good. Not good because he's avoiding the questions and I don't want to think about the questions, but because he's got it under control, as much under control as it can possibly be. He knows his shit, and the concept of knowing his shit is very important to him, and he manages both to keep it accessible and to be precise. He's thoughtful without being obscure, a politician while genuinely being politic.

I like him. His political presence in the world makes me feel good. And in a climate like this, that seems like what I should be asking for.

Friday Poetry: Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick
Upon Love, By Way of Question and Answer

I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Like, and dislike ye;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Stroke ye to strike ye;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Love will befool ye;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Heat ye to cool ye;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Love gifts will send ye;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Stock ye to spend ye;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Love will fulfill thee;
I bring ye love, Quest. What will love do?
Ans. Kiss ye to kill ye.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fanning the Flames

This is really unpleasant.


• Did this teacher make up his very nasty acronym for CHANGE (read the article; let's just leave it at N stands for the proverbial "N-word"), or was it something he found on the interwebs?

• Why is the school system construing the teacher's transfer to the Adult Education program as a punishment? For whom, exactly? As a former Adult Ed teacher, those students have suffered enough and are in a position already insanely vulnerable without bringing a racist fuckwad in to instruct them, thankyouverymuch. Your school system failed these people already—I've got a great idea, why don't you send the dregs of your faculty in to fail and betray them again? ASSHOLES.

• What the hell is going on here?

Connor talked about this a couple of days ago, the climate of hatred springing up at McCain/Palin/McCain and Palin rallies. Perhaps a number of McCain/Palin supporters have always been that vociferously racist and nasty—in fact, I'm almost sure that's true—but it does seem clear that recently Palin in particular seems to be fanning the flames. It doesn't scare me so much that "Terrorist!" and "Kill him!" have been shouted as that McCain and Palin seem to have no interest in denouncing such comments, even as it's already clear that these tactics are gaining them no ground.

I mean, for fuck's sake, *Indiana* is a full-scale swing state. It went to Bush by more than 15% in the last two elections, and those who have lived in Illinois with me know how insane it is to imagine that Obama could win Indiana. But he could; McCain is only up by about three percentage points. Obama is up ten points in New Hampshire and five in Virginia. Right now I think he's going to win. As those who have been reading this blog for the last couple of months know, that feeling could change on a dime, but I think he's going to win.

What scares me is that I don't feel like McCain and Palin are trying anymore. These Ayers smear tactics are not working with anyone but their base, and they know it. Nor will a rerun of the Wright ridiculousness do anything productive with swing voters. They are not trying to win right now. They are trying to incite hatred. Serious, vociferous hatred.

I don't think I'm going to feel safe until Obama is inaugurated.

Friday Poetry: Wilfred Owen

First read this in ninth grade history, but when I came upon it again a few months ago I found it startlingly wonderful and resonant. Worth thinking about in an election like this, too …

Wilfred Owen
Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Get Me a Beer, Bitch!

I received this article from my friend M, with whom I'll be travelling to New Mexico for the election, this morning. In it, Thomas Friedman takes Sarah Palin to task on her debate statement that paying higher taxes is not patriotic.

Good for Thomas Friedman. Everybody should be doing that.

On an ideological level, the fuss over taxes has puzzled me for some time. You live in America. American businesses are paying you money. American towns, cities, lands are your place(s) of residence. American armies are (hypothetically) fighting to protect your interests. You drive on highways the federal and state government built, you fly in air the federal government controls. You're obviously gettin' something out of this, and it makes sense that you should have to put something back into it. Yes, I favor tax protest as a form of political speech, but only when it is done very precisely, to represent that you dislike about the government's actions—that is, if you know exactly which taxes go where and refuse to pay only the taxes that support those programs to the existence of which you object. But if you're using the resources of the nation to gain your means, you should be putting some of those means back into the nation. To me the default, and we have reached the point at which John McCain and I diverge, is that the more money you're getting paid by American businesses, the more American land you own, the more American places whose resources you use, the more you owe to all those places, and therefore the more means you should be putting back into America. At the very least I favor a flat rate for income tax, at the most something more like what Mr. Obama is talking about.

But Sarah Palin, and this middle class she ostensibly represents, move(s) far beyond not agreeing with me. To Sarah Palin, paying taxes is unpatriotic. Let me say it again: UNPATRIOTIC.

I've proposed very complex definitions for "patriotism" and "patriotic" elsewhere on this blog. Let's put them aside for now. Let's assume that the definition of patriotism is the one more simply used. Like let's say "patriotic" means "loving your country."

Putting more money into the care and feeding of your country, according to the logic of the woman who currently has an 8% chance of being the President of the United States**, means you don't love your country.

The "bitch" in this post's title does not refer to Palin, although I would comfortably use that word to refer to her. It actually refers to America, and the relationship that Palin and her supporter-compatriots seem to think that we as residents and citizens of America should have with America. By Palin's measure, the way in which we should demonstrate our love for our country is by taking as much from it as possible.

Allow me to suspect that the First Dude puts up with an awful lot of bullshit.

My extremely ignorant opinion of the bailout is not terrific. It seems to me that the argument is the bigger you get, the more inherently dependent the government is upon you, and the more the government therefore needs to support you although you have felt no need to support the government. That seems icky to me, particularly when there are few provisions to ensure that the exact same thing will not happen again. As I said, I know little; I have no understanding of what would happen without the bailout. But the notion that we should lead big businesses to assume they can rely on bailouts at this scale without asking them to put in enough to support this possibility for all of *their* compatriots feels insane.

Sarah Palin is saying that an ideal relationship between country and citizen is an abusive relationship. She asks for a relationship in which the nation, and by extension the nation's poorest/neediest/least visible citizens (this is to say, those who have the least means not intimately linked to the means of the country) gives all to the citizens and expects nothing, no support, no response to its own needs. Instead, the country should be satisfied that we love it, because we *say* we love it. After all, don't we talk all the time about how much we love it? Don't we wave flags to symbolize our love? Don't we talk about how no other country can compare to it? Isn't that enough, America? Of course I love you! You should know that by now! Now get me a bailout!

**I'm assuming here that the McCain/Palin ticket has about a 50% chance of winning. Multiply that by John McCain's approximate one in six chance—around 16%—of dying in office.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Poetry: Gertrude Stein

I'm finding this one interesting. She always feels a little obscure to me, but it's hard to stop thinking about pieces of her writing sometimes.


Gertrude Stein
Scenes from the Door

The Ford
It is earnest.
Aunt Pauline is earnest.
We are earnest.
We are united.
Then we see.

Red Faces
Red flags the reason for pretty flags.
And ribbons.
Ribbons of flags
And wearing material
Reason for wearing material.
Give pleasure.
Can you give me the regions.
The regions and the land.
The regions and wheels.
All wheels are perfect.

What Is This
You can't say it's war.
I love conversation.

Do you like it printed.
I like it descriptive.
Not very descriptive.
Not very descriptive.
I like it to come easily
And then.
Crystal and cross.
Does not lie on moss.
The three ships.
You mean washing the ships.
One was a lady.
A nun.
She begged meat
Two were husband and wife.
They had a rich father-in-law to the husband.
he did dry cleaning.
And the third one.
A woman.
She washed.
Then this is the way we were helped.
Not interested
We are very much interested.

Why is the world at peace.
This may astonish you a little but when you realise how easily Mrs. Charles Bianco sells the work of American painters to American millionaires you will recognise that authorities are constrained to be relieved. Let me tell you a story. A painter loved a woman. A musician did not sing. A South African loved books. An American was a woman and needed help. Are Americans the same as incubators. But this is the rest of the story. He became an authority.

A Radical Expert
Can you please by asking what is expert. And then we met one another. I do not think it right. Marksman. Expert. Loaf. Potato bread. Sugar Card. Leaf. And mortar. What is the meaning of white wash. The upper wall.
That sounds well.
And then we sinned.
A great many jews say so.

Once in English they said America. Was it English to them.
Once they said Belgian.
We like a fog.
Do you for weather.
Are we brave.
Are we true.
Have we the national colour.
Can we stand ditches.
Can we mean well.
Do we talk together.
Have we red cross.
A great many people speak of feet.
And socks.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

To Thine Own Self

Attempting to take all emotion out of this, using logic and only logic: is there a logical argument by which one person's sexual orientation—in and of itself, behavior nonwithstanding—could cause genuine harm to another person?

Racking my brains, I don't think it could. But when I was visiting Memphis about six months ago, my writing partner and I, in another one of our strange debates about sex and sexual orientation in which neither of us has any real illusion of bringing the other about to his or her side, discussed the Protestant notion of good works, the evangelical idea that you really do have to do your best work to bring the world to God.

Oddly enough, this jives with Hannah Arendt. In a way that freaks me out a little, so I want to think it through.

Contemporary American society is incredibly contradictory on the topic of individualism and self-determination (as evidenced by the bailout controversy, among other things). On the one hand we're encouraged to be the freewheelin', frontier-blazin' capitalist that any red-blooded American or American wannabe should, you know, wanna be, but on the other hand we're held in thrall to a moral system that remains, in spite of everything, a culture of sexy Puritanism. And on the other other hand, a constant social mantra that has run through the last ten years of my life, taking over from its predecessor "no offense," is, "No judgment." We can blaze our own trails, and we can do what we want, as long as we're absolutely sure God thinks it's the right thing, but if someone else is doing what they want and we know God doesn't think it's the right thing, well, it's for God to judge, just make sure those people know that God thinks it's wrong and they'll get their comeuppance in the afterlife. But no judgment.

Makes one's head spin, no?

I recognize that the Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps crowds are not exactly preaching "no judgment," but I have learned from my self-declared no-longer-gay-never-really-gay-just-damaged writing partner that the movement against homosexuality in the Christian community has much deeper and more complex roots than such rabble-rousers, most of which roots are, indeed, based on this principle of "no judgment," that what they consider love through God is the only solution to such problems as homosexuality. Noteworthy, too, is that the contradiction is present for everyone, on all sides. Liberalism is pretty much based on this "no judgment" principle, and in that light the right wing has a leg to stand on about "the liberal media": twenty-four-hour news networks are for the most part, and almost have to be, networks of "no judgment," of heads talking at each other and sharing their polarized views until everything is neutralized.

Enter Hannah Arendt (okay, she entered sixty years ago, but still), who says, "FUCK YEAH judgment!" By avoiding judgment, she argues persuasively in Eichmann in Jerusalem, we end up condoning Nazism. "Judge not lest ye be judged," biblically or in day-to-day life, itself neutralizes, assumes that none of us is, in reality, better than another. And I am comfortable saying I am a better person than, say, Adolf Eichmann. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't endeavor to understand Adolf Eichmann, to know what brought him to that point, and that I shouldn't know what Arendt calls the "banality of evil," that we're not just talking about Hitler but the thousands upon thousands who brought him to power and supported him thereafter, that *those* people, rather than the one crazy demagogical dictator, are what's required to make evil work, but it does mean that I can, acceptably, judge him, if I have assessed him honestly and myself equally honestly and have a clear notion of what separates me from him.

The real problems I have, then, are problems of hypocrisy. Not simply the dramatic and typical Mark Foley genre of hypocrisy, but the sort of everyday hypocrisy that "judge not lest ye be judged" intends (I believe) to counter. The problems are people who speak against divorce while on their third marriage, those who speak against gay adoption without addressing social ills that lead to abandoned children or what makes people good or bad parents (less the classist or heterosexist definitions often forced upon those ideas), those who preach "judge not lest ye be judged" in the manner that a seventh-grader might hastily add "no judgment" after asking a classmate if she needed a hairbrush or some dental floss. That means that if James Dobson wants to hate gays, James Dobson can fuckin' well go ahead and hate gays. His call. Some people do. You can't please everyone. But James Dobson fuckin' well better be paying the rest of the Bible attention as intricate as he pays Leviticus 18:22, and he better be willing to offer his virgin daughters to every gay man he meets. (Objection sustained. The jury will disregard that statement.) He better be putting "adulterers" on an exact par with "homosexual offenders." He better be following everything else to the letter (and decontextualizing every other Bible verse he encounters). If he could possibly be doing all of that, which of course he couldn't, I would not have a problem with his judgment.

I guess my problems are also problems of origination. Which is to say, I am perfectly comfortable hating Nazis or their contemporary equivalent, but I feel better considering my hatred reactionary. Then again, I suppose if Dobson and his cohorts genuinely believe queers are trying to convert the entire world to homosexuality (which obviously makes perfect sense in every way), they might think they have a similar leg to stand on.

But they don't. Why? Where does being queer fit into all of this, then? If you really, genuinely believe that all homosexuals are out to convert the entire world, then the sin, as you call it, is your business. But there is a lot of concrete evidence to argue against that notion, whatever else you believe about homosexuality; even if you're basing yourself on Sodom & Gomorrah it's shaky. Next question: do the sins of everyone else reflect upon you? Even if the sins are not about to be inflicted on every person in the world, even if homosexuals are not on a conversion mission, if "homosexual behavior" (as distinct from "homosexuality" in the New Christian Ethic school) is indeed sinful, are you a worse person if you don't do your damnedest to stop other people from committing this sin?

In general, I am startled to find that I believe the answer is yes, though obviously I believe different things to be "sins" than the Dobson crowd does. I therefore to a certain degree believe that "if you're not with us, you're against us." How the hell can one believe that "to a certain degree"? Well, because it depends on what your definition of "with us" is. I am, for example, against terrorism. Which ought to satisfy the Bush definition of "with us," and yet does not. Curious.

So back to queer people and James Dobson. *If* you are the non-hypocrite I posited above, and *if* you genuinely believe that homosexuality is a sin rather than just something you're uncomfortable with in yourself, *if* you believe it is your duty to do all you can towards creating a sin-free world, and *if* you are not committing other sins (like, say, murder) in your desire to purge one sin, I think I would really be okay with your behavior.

I'd judge it, and I'd hate it, but I'd be okay with its existence.

I've seen nothing in my experience of anti-gay rhetoric or organizations so far that truly fit with the above criteria, but hey. It's probably not impossible.

Also, at the bottom, judgment and hatred are not equivalent. Judgment can be made on a practical level—which is to say, I can, indeed, judge someone's actions without hating the person. And honestly, I think I can hate a person without judging her, though that one's a little more complicated. Hatred is much more difficult to control, and also, unfortunately, much more destructive. I hate very rarely. I judge —well, not "constantly," but often enough. And I don't mind that either.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In Which We Call Attention to Connor's Brilliance, Part the Second

This one he actually did create, and I like it.

Yes, expedient action is necessary. But we've all seen where executive-generated super-expedient legislative action has gotten us in the last eight years, and I think we could do without that in the future. I would rather the 110th Congress, and the 43rd administration, not use its last hours to render the Obama administration virtually ineffectual.

Unless, of course, this is a … no, I'm not going to go into conspiracy theory here. I am not going to think about conspiracies in a way that takes time away from my thinking about anything else, because *that* makes them more likely to happen. And right now I am thinking about something else.

A "bailout" needs to include real oversight, real fiscal thoughtfulness, and real penalties for those who—if not deliberately then certainly knowingly—sank the ship. It needs to be bailing out the nation itself, not Wall Street, and it needs to take real steps to prevent this from happening again. I appreciate the balls shown by the holdouts in this vote, whatever party they belong to, because it demonstrates that the blind panic Bush was able to stir up in the first term-and-a-half of his presidency is no longer a driving force for either party. I hope the Senate can craft useful bailout legislation, and in the meantime I'm going to adapt and send Connor's letter to my elected representatives in Illinois and New York.