Category Archives: Random

Everyday Life

Ben East Books

The novelist is exhausted. Whole worlds suggest themselves to her but that is all. The worlds do not appear. They do not come ready-made. They do not exist. They require focus and time and attention. The worlds must be pulled forth. Forged.

The novelist is exhausted. Characters whisper in his ear and run through caverns in his mind. They are mere glimpses, shadows that must be captured, examined, and word by word turned from slip and sliver into clay.

The novelist is exhausted. The worlds and characters must palpitate, conflict, concur, act and react, breath and bleed and weep.

The novelist is exhausted because the details that join these things require consciousness as they tarry in the unconscious, wistful faeries concealed by too much darkness or masked by the squint of too much light. The glimmer and the shadow must be shaded or lit just so.

The novelist can’t show…

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Cut Joe Manchin some slack

JoeManchinMany Democrats are excoriating  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) for betraying Democrats by voting yes to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Gail Collins, for example, writes in the NYTimes

Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat, didn’t care and took a dive. It’s a real shame. This is a senator whose he-man image is so critical to his identity that he always runs campaign ads in which he shoots offensive legislation with a rifle.

I admire and follow Collins, but this is just wrong-headed.

First, the easy part. Manchin is a West Virginian. Like most people in his state, Manchin believes people have a right to own and carry guns. By shooting a rifle in his campaign ads, Manchin cements his relationship with his constituents. He has, however, bucked his party by opposing legislation that would impose restrictions on automatic weapons sales and a bill that would ban high-capacity magazines.

More important is the fact that West Virginia is the state that gave Trump his greatest margin in 2016, and Manchin is up for re-election in a few weeks. He is ahead in the polls, but if he had voted against Kavanaugh, he would very likely lose his seat in November. Democrats can’t take that risk if they want to win control of the Senate. By gaining the majority, Democrats would also control all the committees. Imagine how Kavanaugh would have fared if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had chaired the Senate Judicial Committee with a Democratic majority. (see Only 2 Republican votes to defeat Kavanaugh?)

Once Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced her vote in favor of Kavanaugh, his confirmation was assured. It would have been incredibly stupid for Manchin to sacrifice himself on the altar of a lost cause.

Now that the votes are in, the issue is a little more complicated. Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48. He had 49 Republican votes plus Manchin’s one. Two Republican senators did not vote. One was Steve Daines (R-MT). He had previously announced that he would be at his daughter’s wedding on Saturday, the day of the vote. The other senator was Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the only Republican with the courage to buck her party. She had announced that she couldn’t support Kavanaugh. But Murkowski didn’t vote no, as expected. She didn’t vote. I suspect she didn’t want to be the deciding vote, the only Republican to vote against Kavanaugh. If Collins had voted no, Murkowski and Manchin and possibly others could have covered each other by voting no together.

As it turned out, if Manchin had voted with the Democrats, the vote would have been tied, 49-49, and Vice President Mike Pence would have broken the tie, giving Kavanaugh his confirmation. Manchin’s vote would not have made a difference.

 

 

 

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And now, Justice Kavanaugh

KavSneerCropsusan_collins_official_photo-e1538799982930.jpg

 

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) put the icing on the cake. The confirmation was baked in long ago: the path to a fifth conservative seat on the Supreme Court was in the works for at least 30 years. (Remember Karl Rove’s dream of a permanent Republican majority?)

Before Dr. Christine Basley Ford described the sexual assault she had suffered in high school at a specially convened hearing of the Senate Judicial Committee, the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that the Senate would “plow” through to a certain confirmation. But when Ford described her ordeal, she moved and impressed not only the senators, but the president, with her authenticity. Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation no longer looked like a sure thing.

Then Kavanaugh testified. Red-faced, he wept and he raged. Furious, he accused the Democrats of plotting a “calculated and orchestrated political hit,” fueled by “pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.” But “what goes around comes around,” he said, apparently foreseeing vengeful retribution against the Democrats.

Following the hearing, people were appalled at Kavanaugh’s injudicious lack of control, his partisanship, fury and unseemly demeanor. The American Bar Association and the Yale Law School withdrew their endorsements pending a further investigation by the FBI. Close to 1,000 professors of law wrote to the Senate that Kavanaugh lacks the judicial temperament required for a seat on the Supreme Court.

The Republicans, all men, identified with Kavanaugh. They said they believed Ford had been sexually assaulted, yet contrived a way to exonerate Kavanaugh and justify voting for him. They began to poke holes in Ford’s testimony, pointing to her inability to remember details such as the address of the house, who took her home and the like. The people Ford named as being at the party couldn’t recall the party, much less the attack. All the evidence the senators chose to examine was gleaned from the severely limited FBI investigation. It was not enough to identify Kavanaugh as Ford’s aggressor. There was only Ford’s word. It didn’t occur to the men that a woman who had been sexually assaulted would have a powerful and excruciatingly present memory of the event, if not the superfluous details, while others present would have no reason to remember what was for them one unremarkable party among many. Once again, the woman was silenced, her searing testimony almost beside the point.

Within days, the debate shifted. Kavanaugh’s lack of judicial temperament, his lying under oath and his fierce partisanship replaced the sexual assault as the principal reasons to deny him a lifelong seat on the Supreme Court.

In the end, however, Kavanaugh’s unsuitability was tamped down by the overwhelming desire to hold on to power. Republicans have an extremely thin majority in the Senate. In the event of a Democratic victory in the imminent midterm elections, they would lose not only one or both houses of Congress, but the ability to establish a conservative majority in the Court that could endure for decades to come.

So Ford exposed her private torment to the world, and for what? For nothing, as she herself had feared?

Well, no, not entirely. Women heard her and their own buried traumas rose to torment them. All across the country women clamored to bear witness. They marched and spoke and wrote and pounded on the doors of their representatives. 

Many men listened to them. Amazed by their number, they confessed they had no idea that sexual assault was such a widespread problem. The #metoo phenomenon, just a year old, came roaring back.

Now that women’s and Democrats’ efforts have failed to prevent the elevation to a lifetime appointment of a judge whose convictions threaten the progress already made, what comes next?

Keep striving. We have to believe that though we have undoubtedly suffered a setback, we have the strength to reclaim lost ground and continue to advance into a more equitable future for all Americans.

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The Well-Dressed Horses of Palermo

Everyone loves horses and has at some time or other dreamed of sitting in a horse-drawn carriage. Tourists especially like to ride them. Palermo offers horse-drawn carriages wherever tourists hang out in Palermo. The horses look much fresher than the ones on Central Park South in New York City, who seem rather more tired and weary. The Palermo horses’s millinery shows an Italian sense of style.

They wear lace-trimmed straw hats:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and casual straws

 

 

slouch hats adorned with flowers
and a plain model for the guys

dress-up frilly ones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and lest you think the men can’t be elegant too

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Just a little note from your “enemy”

via Just a little note from your “enemy.”

So you heard that four journalists and a sales associate were gunned down on Thursday at the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.

A man armed with a shotgun stormed an office building and opened fire into the paper’s newsroom in the middle of the afternoon, sending people running in fear, diving under their desks and praying for their lives.

The man who’s accused of this horrible crime had a vendetta against the paper for printing a story about him years earlier. He wrote about his rage against the paper and the reporter who wrote the story on social media quite frequently leading up to the attack.

As a result of his anger and hatred, five people who got up to go to work to do their jobs — just like you do — are dead. Their families, friends and colleagues (their second families) are now left with a huge void.

It’s senseless. It’s sad. And it’s an attack on the free press — yes I said free, please reread your Constitution. The section listed “First Amendment.”

But it’s not the only attack, as you well know. As a journalist, I’ve been labeled an “enemy” of the people. I’m accused of producing “fake news.” So says the leader of the free world, who regularly uses his platform to discredit, malign and vilify journalists. And the message, unfortunately, reaches vast numbers of people who agree and emulate this behavior.

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June 29, 2018 · 12:19 PM

#ENOUGH! #NEVER AGAIN!

March For Our Lives, Washington, DC, March 24, 2018

Washington, D.C. and the entire country received a powerful lesson in civics today. Democracy worked. Hundreds of thousands, if not a million, students bonded into an unstoppable movement that is determined to change America.

The passion and the eloquence of the Parkland students was as moving and inspiring as it was astounding. They and the other young speakers at the March for our Lives rally captured the nation and people all over the world. Their tears welled up, remembering friends and siblings who were mowed down. The crowd wept with them. Only someone with a heart of stone could fail to be moved.

They hammered the politicians who support the N.R.A. and also the ones who don’t commit themselves. There was no mention of Democrats or Republicans, though they did single out a Republican senator. The Parkland students pinned price tags of $1.05 to their jackets. That is what they calculated the life of each student in Florida is worth to the Florida government. It’s the amount collected by Sen. Marco Rubio from the N.R.A. divided by the number of students in his state.

David Hogg

“The cold grasp of corruption shackles the District of Columbia,” declared 17-year-old David Hogg. Again and again, the students vowed, “We will vote you out!” threatening retribution at the ballot box for politicians who don’t support a meaningful program of gun control and safety.

Stoneman Douglas survivor Delaney Tarr scoffed at the STOP School Violence and Fix NICS Acts. “We are not here for bread crumbs; we are here for real change,” she said. “We are here to lead, we are here to call out every single politician to force them into enacting this legislation.”

Hogg continued, “They haven’t even gotten started, and we have.” Hogg personifies the audacity and authority of the mantle he and his comrades have assumed. They know they are leading the charge. “We are the future, and we will vote!”

Naomi Wadler

The intelligence and the poise of the students was amazing. Naomi Wadler, an 11-year-old girl, was one of the most polished and eloquent. She said she represented “the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper” and “who are simply statistics.” Responding to a charge that she’s “the tool of an adult,” she avowed that isn’t true. “My friends and I might still be 11, we might still be in elementary school, but we know,” she said. “We know life isn’t equal for everyone and we know what is right and wrong. We also know that we stand in the shadow of the Capitol and we know that we have seven short years until we, too, have the right to vote.”

Trevon Bosely

Invited by the Parkland organizers, students from all over the country streamed to Washington to March for our Lives. They also were survivors of gun violence or had direct connections to the victims. Trevon Bosely, 19, came from Chicago, where his brother was gunned down while leaving church. He looked out at the crowd. We are all a family, he said, a family united in pain, hope and determination to change. “We are survivors not only of gun violence, but of silence,” he said, condemning the apathy of the adults who have done little to stop the violence.

Edna Chavez

The diversity and the unity of the students was as impressive as it was moving. Latina Edna Chavez remonstrated against the demeaning of and violence against her brown and black colleagues and black men shot by the police in South Central Los Angeles. She insisted that armed teachers, metal detectors and transparent backpacks are not the answer. They don’t work, she said.

Bosely deplored the meager resources allotted to his school and neighborhood in Chicago, charging that lack of funding in black communities leads to unemployment and contributes to gun violence.

Stoneman Douglas survivor Jaclyn Corin showed she understood that the violence endured by Chavez and Bosely is a national problem. “We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence,” she said. “But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun.”

Samantha Fuentes begins to feel ill

A friend comes to the rescue

Feeling better

Samantha Fuentes, recovered

Samantha Fuentes was wounded at the Parkland school shooting, and her face still bears the scars. Fuentes was midway into her speech when an attack of nerves overcame her and she turned away from the podium to vomit. A black girl came to the white girl’s side to steady and comfort her friend. Fuentes regained her composure, exclaiming, “I just threw up on international television, and it feels great!” and continued her speech smiling and confident, with her friend at her side.

Emma González, crying silently

Emma González and friend, hands clenched

Three Parkland students have become the faces of the movement. David Hogg and Cameron Kasky declared the beginning of a revolution. Emma González began to speak out the day after the shooting. In her speech at the rally, she remembered the 17 victims of the infamous attack. She finished naming them, tears streaming down her face, and grew silent. After a few minutes, the crowd began to chant her name. She remained stony-faced and silent. They quieted down for a few minutes, then attempted another chant, followed by silence and tears. The awkward and uncomfortable silence lasted six minutes, 20 seconds, the time González said the shooter took to terrorize, wound and kill the Stoneman Douglas students. Correction. See @Emma4Change below

I am unspeakably proud of these kids. If they are the future of America, then we are not doomed, as I feared. They have given me hope.

Yolanda Scott

The rally was reminiscent of past movements led by young people. Civil rights, the Viet Nam war, women’s rights, gay rights— movements that snowballed until they succeeded in attaining the change they demanded.

Martin Luther King Jr., whose activism changed the nation forever, was reincarnated in the person of his nine-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda Scott. “My grandfather had a dream,” she said. “I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.”

And the President spent the day golfing at his club in Florida.

The signs were left outside the empty White House

Survivor schools bond

Real Quick: my speech today was abt 6 mins & 30 secs, including both my speech and my silence. The fact that people think the silence was 6 minutes… imagine how long it would have felt if it actually was 6 minutes, or how it would feel if you had to hide during that silence

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More on Trump’s parade

Retired Army Major General Paul D. Eaton reacted on VoteVets.org to the parade being planned by “a wannabe banana republic strongman.”

Donald Trump has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies, and this is just another worrisome example.

For someone who just declared it was “treasonous” to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military – it’s about making a display of the military saluting him.

The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world – they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have a wannabe banana republic strongman.

@realDonaldTrump has blocked @VoteVets, an organization of 500,000 veterans, military families, & supporters.

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