Fragments

NYTimes Picks

The Jell-O President and the Shutdown (20180122)
https://nyti.ms/2F6VtEO

"There's good reason to worry that this will be no different in three weeks..."

True enough, but there will be one big difference. CHIP won't be a bargaining chip. It just got funded. That's safely off the table.

Republicans used CHIP as bait to set a trap. But Schumer, at whom "progressives" are childishly screaming, showed he was willing and capable of holding Democrats together for a shutdown, extracted a promise it will be hard for McConnell to break without focusing the nation's ire exactly where it belongs, and he got CHIP funded. And he prevented his red-state and red-district Democrats from taking too much heat. Basically Schumer approached the trap, calmly ate the cheese, and got away to fight again for DACA in just a few short weeks.

Politics in a democracy is not like business, where one can fire employees and never see them again. Politics in a democracy is not like politics in an authoritarian state, where one can jail or execute one's enemies and never see them again. In a democracy, win or lose, the same players keep returning to the game. Though adversaries on issues, they are also one's fellow citizens. It's good that we have such old trap-wise rats around like Schumer and McConnell when everyone else is yelling "Off with their heads" as if we weren't all doomed to go on living together.


Trump Administration Says States May Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid (20180111)
https://nyti.ms/2Ft9ygS

The assumption is that work opportunities exist for those who are not already working. That assumption is false.

Employment varies greatly by state, region, city and locale, with the state of the economy. And it is contingent upon market demand for the labor Medicaid recipients can offer, not solely upon their willingness to work. The greatest demand for Medicaid comes precisely in times of economic downturn when there are the fewest jobs available.

There is no law requiring employers to create flexible and accommodating jobs for those partially disabled, physically, mentally or emotionally, nor requiring employers to hire those they simply find unqualified. Ask yourself, would you hire from the bottom of the barrel at any price? Many "able-bodied" Medicaid recipients are just that: they are unemployed because unemployable for a variety of reasons, among them that many are just too dense and confused and broken to follow even simple workplace rules and procedures reliably. It's a population distribution, not a moral distribution: for all those supremely capable at the top, there is some proportion at the bottom for whom no practical remediation is possible.

Absent readily available and accommodating paid employment, the "community service" option becomes a prescription for indentured servitude, the equivalent of debtors prison and the work house, without even the quasi-benefit of food and shelter, the chain-gang without the visible chains. Health insurance slavery.


Trump Administration Takes Step That Could Threaten Marijuana Legalization Movement (20180104)
https://nyti.ms/2E562aU

What makes this move a particularly noxious ideological gesture, if carried through, primarily destructive of the rule of law and an affront to the will of voters, is that there already exists a well-established, highly efficient black market in marijuana everywhere. Raids on dispensaries will not significantly reduce marijuana consumption, only restore levels of underground, untaxed, unregulated, unsafe, organized crime feeding commerce, which does not entirely disappear in any event.


Al Franken Issues Apology After Accusation of Forcible Kissing and Groping (20171116)
https://nyti.ms/2hF3ue3

To those who think Senator Franken should step down or offer a fuller apology, in what world are you living? At the rate this is going, indiscriminately jumbling together stupid male jokes (yes, they are funny only to men) and gross presumption (taking advantage of a scripted kiss) with child molestation and bragging about grabbing women by their genitals, any competent PR professional would tell Franken to sit tight on his apology, because 20 other prominent men are going to be in the spotlight for their past misdeeds within the next 30 days. We are even dragging out Bill Clinton for another round of the same thrashing he's had many times before. If there is no sense of proportion in coverage and outrage, just a leaping from one sensational headline to the next, this laudable change in our "national conversation" will just get dissipated whenever, eventually, the press and public get tired out from hyperventilating. And nothing will change. The wolves will slip away as we run in every direction chasing dogs.


Trump's Tax Plan Cuts Rates for Individuals and Corporations and Eliminates Many Deductions (20170927)
https://nyti.ms/2k2P5Jm

If you are self-employed, beware! A 25% tax rate on "pass through" income represents a huge tax cut for higher earners, taxed in upper brackets. But for lower income, self-employed people operating as sole proprietorships, reporting income on Schedule C -- the so-called "gig economy" -- a flat 25% rate represents a huge 67% tax hike for those currently taxed in the 15% tax bracket, which extends up to $75,900 for married couples. Talk about reverse Robin Hood, this is literally stealing from the poor to pay to the rich.

(The published "framework" made available after I posted this comment refers to a maximum rate on pass through income of 25%, not a flat rate, but without specifying what rates might be under this cap, if it proves a cap in any final legislation. I remain concerned and convinced a careful eye must be kept on this area of the framework as it wends its way through a GOP-controlled Congress. The central problem the GOP confronts, and the reason the "framework" is deliberately vague, is that Republicans no longer have available the Obamacare and Medicaid pot of gold they intended to grab and divvy up among their wealthy constituencies. Instead, the GOP must raise elsewhere the revenue necessary at least to dampen the massive deficit balloon this tax giveaway to the wealthy will bring on. The GOP's inclination to flatten tax rates to advantage the wealthy is well established; indeed, exemplified in this proposal in spades. Where the majority of small businesses using pass throughs are paying less than 25% now, the temptation to nip at them to fund the giveaway to those comparatively few paying more will be great. An issue to watch.)


Russian-American Lobbyist Attended Meeting Organized by Trump's Son (20170714)
https://nyti.ms/2ujalhA

Liars who, when caught lying, simply lie some more. And when those lies are found out, lie some more and lie to blame someone else. Why do we keep granting the Trumps the benefit of the doubt we would not grant the most mendacious child? And since when did immature, compulsive moral depravity become exculpatory? If they are lying it is not because they can't help it; they are lying because they did something, perhaps many things, they know very well will get them in big, big trouble.


The North Korea-Trump Nightmare (20170421)
https://nyti.ms/2pJJINX

I'm unsure how younger Americans feel, who have not lived through this before, but I distinctly don't appreciate waking up every morning wondering if my country's leaders are mad enough or sufficiently belligerent and incompetent to precipitate a nuclear war or. short of that, simultaneous conventional wars on the top of ones we are already fighting without Constitutional authorization.

Neither do I appreciate having to wonder whether the President, Vice President, U.N. Ambassador, the Cabinet, and the U.S. military and military command are all on the same page, in the face of evidence that they decidedly are not. It is very disturbing that Captain Wrongway Peachfuzz seems in command of Trump's "armada" or that Trump himself is the orange-haired reincarnation of that Rocky & Bullwinkle Show Cold War cartoon character.

One did not have to agree with President Obama to rest assured that, at least, someone was in control who was appropriately cognizant of the risks in foreign policy and military action. Neither did one have to agree with President Bush to rest assured that someone (Vice President Cheney; Secretaries Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell) was in control who was appropriately cognizant of the risks in foreign policy and military action. If American citizens must worry, our allies must be worried. And that is even more worrisome.

Agree or not - and we can't know with whom or with what we are agreeing or not - this administration is failing in fundamental, dangerous respects.


Manhood in the Age of Trump (20170402)
https://nyti.ms/2nLWgng

Good column, though the usual focus on Hollywood misses the mark. You are a bit unfair to the male stars you cite, all of whom have made efforts to play less cliched macho roles. Just to mention two: Dwayne Johnson is at root a comedian, a thoroughly ironic muscleman; and Ryan Gosling is where he is today for an on-point performance in "Crazy, Stupid, Love" as a pick-up artist in full emotional meltdown in bed with a woman he can't just take as another conquest. Hollywood contributes but fairly cravenly serves a market for extreme gendered roles that preexists.

Your memories of high school, particularly physical education and athletics, are more on target. High school is the crucible in which the Man Box (and girls' adulation for its walls) is forged. There we take adolescents at their most sexually insecure and rigorously separate them for "education" specific to their physicality, while turning on the full power of peer on peer pressure. One doesn't have to be a gay man to remember that the P.E. locker room was the most humiliating and dangerous place to be "less than a manly man." High school football and high school dances are often apiece, organized and scheduled as a concerted effort to make "young men and young women."

This is where the current transgender bathroom issue is a very good thing, despite the grotesque cliches the transgendered typically take for the gender they are. It forces on schools a nut they cannot crack with the same old pernicious machinery.


House Republicans Unveil Plan to Replace Health Law (20170306)
https://nyti.ms/2n8OAdf

The provision that creates a 30% barrier to reentry into the health insurance market virtually guarantees that, over time, with vicissitudes of employment and unexpected expenses, fewer and fewer people will have insurance and that those who do will be sicker and sicker. In other words, it legislates a death spiral in the individual market, at the same time that eliminating the requirement that large employers offer coverage to full-time employees forces more people on to it. It would be hard to devise anything more certain to reduce coverage and still call it a national health care plan. It will be interesting to see if major insurers remain silent or speak up against this planned rapid, destructive contraction of their industry.


First, Sex Ed. Then Death Ed. (20170219)
https://nyti.ms/2lwXJik

Before adding Death Ed. to Sex Ed., how about reviving Civics Ed., before we lose both and Science Ed. in the bargain.

Raoul (Jan '18)

Ornaments

"I'm going to start inquiring about your own personal agenda, whether your positions and your scoffing tone might not be viewed as little more than cover in lieu of a defense of the indefensible. In truth, I don't presume much worse than that you hold a good many of your opinions and views primarily, consciously or not, as ornaments of some long-term but still evolving notion yourself." Requiem...
anne duncan (Jul '07)

Alhambra

aridness constrained water in a dry land
anne duncan (Aug '05)

Phoenix

the sky is burning
anne duncan (Aug '05)

Conjunctive Points

The intersections of our lives. Some lives intersect along whole surfaces. They blend together in seamless arcs and pleasing forms. Point and counterpoint in rhythm with each other, not conjoined, but blended, a symmetry, a balance achieved, comfort. Some lives merge together, run hand in hand with each other. They merge and enhance becoming larger entities, edifices, cathedrals one might say. The merging together of lives to create something understandable, coherent, perceptible, a unity, a shaped space. But our lives, the complex geometries of ourselves intersect irascibly, conjunctive points in an imperceptible structure whose purpose, meaning or ultimate form surpasses our cognition. Occasions of connection that lead not rhythmically onward nor to some larger purpose. Occasions which neither preclude nor predestinate some future connection....
anne duncan (Mar '05)

Hallowed Halls

The ivy crept over the house, a green plague, relentless. The house, that human construct lay beneath, consumed. Some looking would call it quaint, ivy covered halls, hallowed halls. I called it death, a slow strangulation, a suffocation within the leafy legion. Its progression was incremental, measured in inches, brick by brick, one crumbled mortar joint at a time, a progression if not quite sapient, then certainly malevolent in its indifference....
anne duncan (Jan '05)

Fallow

the ills of marriage, but none of the fruit the mundane, the insipid, the better left unsaid tenderness, intimacy, joy threadbare in the tedium of being better to lie fallow to await another season
anne duncan (Dec '04)

Gone

She is gone, the one you wanted, that effervescent blythe spirit. I buried her, walled her off, it is the same. I built the wall myself, mixed the mortar, carefully laid the brick. Silence. I cursed you both as the mortar dried. The housewife remains....
anne duncan (Dec '04)

Love Songs (2)

Her own dreams were tame. She had domesticated them long ago and eventually she noticed that they were just gone, dried husks of themselves that she must have swept out unnoticing one day.
anne duncan (Mar '04)

Love Songs

Perfumed in moonlight and rain she approached. "Come, waltz with me" she whispered and her breath trailed like warm silk across my skin.
anne duncan (Mar '04)

Data Has No Right to Integrity

Data has no right to "integrity" independent of our human interest, however individually or collectively we may care to negotiate that.
Raoul (Jan '04)

a gift

A single grain would have sufficed. As the last grains trickled through her fingers she perceived the mystery hidden in the broken glass.
anne duncan (Jan '04)

Malificent

It was my prerogative and I let it pass, as if it were of no greater essence than the mist, thinking it no more than a lost dream and forgetting it was no less.
anne duncan (Nov '03)

A Village

He sat by the side of the school, waiting. He and the clusters of other students that milled around, some raucous, some aimless, some like him carefully timing their entry into the line of students waiting for a parent to pick them up. He had learned to time the line. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes he failed miserably. Even when he was very young, he had known which parents he liked, and which he did not. By the time he was ten, he had begun to try to get picked up by the parents he preferred. Now, he had been watching the patterns for years. He could feel the flow of them. He had his favorite parents. He knew if he timed it right, he could spot the car of a parent he liked as it rounded the turn coming up to the school. He had to keep track of the...
anne duncan (Oct '03)

Why Bother

All Hail Freedonia!
Fragments
Google Giggles
Literacy and Its Discontents
Old and In the Way
On the Road
Pretty Vacant Video
Readers Notes
The Climate Suits My Clothes
The Net Takes You Nowhere
Time Keeps On Ticking
Weapons of Mass Distraction
Why indeed?

Links

Recent Posts

NYTimes Picks
Ornaments
Alhambra
Phoenix
Conjunctive Points
Hallowed Halls
Fallow
Gone
Love Songs (2)
Love Songs
Data Has No Right to Integrity
a gift
Malificent
A Village


Advertising

Shameless
Self-Promotion

Fortune is a Woman
Fortune is a Woman
It is not unknown to me how many men have had, and still have, the opinion that the affairs of the world are in such wise governed by fortune and by God that men with their wisdom cannot direct them and that no one can even help them; and because of this....
from Why Bother
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Copyright © 1998-2018
Why Bother | WhyBother.org