Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sunday Potpourri

My women have abandoned me this weekend, leaving me free to pursue various methods of time wasting and reputational self-destruction which include both my Twitter habit and this blog on occasion. Fall and winter clothes in the attic are not going to bring themselves down to our closets, and the electric dog fence is not going to self-heal. There are things to do, but first, a few words.

I made a quick trip to New Jersey earlier this week to finalize preparations for my 35th high school reunion. We're essentially re-doing #30, but there are still details to be micro-managed. Having a bit of time before my meeting, I drove around some of the haunts of my youth, and I was amazed at how everything has shrunk. What I mean is that how I experience distance at 53 seems markedly different from how I experienced it at 17. My high school (Lenape, go Indians) is on Hartford Road in Medford, New Jersey. 


Driving to school each morning, either as passenger to an older brother or as driver, the distance between Elbo Lane and Lenape High School along Hartford Road seemed considerable. I also remember running to lose weight for wrestling, thinking that getting to Elbo Lane was a drudge. Driving this on Wednesday evening, I covered the distance in what seemed to be an instant. No, I was not exceeding the speed limit. And yes, my mind may have been elsewhere. But this phenomenon--the shrinking of familiar drives--repeated itself throughout the visit. Have any of you ever experienced this? Oh, and if you're Class of '83, don't forget about our reunion on October 20th at Ott's in Medford.

So much Kavanaugh in the past few days. I'd like to say I'm glad that's over, but I can't because it isn't. This is going to go on, and on, and on. We are a divided country and we see nothing but malevolence in the views of "the other". I am no angel--my problem is that I see malevolence on both sides these days, although I at least THINK that my ideology is based in principle. Others may not see it so. Former Republican national security guy Max Boot -- who has gone 180 degrees the other way and now identifies utterly with the Democrats-- and I had an exchange on Twitter this morning that raised a ruckus among others who rolled in on me from both sides. Trumpies don't care for me because I have no love for their man who I believe is doing long-term damage to our country. Liberals seem also set against me because my disdain for Trump is insufficient, I must go full Boot and declare my loyalty to their party.  I am comfortable where I am.

We are in the midst of college hunting for Kitten #2, which accounts for 2/3 of my women being gone this weekend, headed south to North and South Carolina on college visits. The college admissions game is much changed from the early '80's, and not for the better. First of all, the complete diminishment of any career not requiring a bachelor's degree has created a "demand" for undergraduate slots that is a distortion. Secondly, this demand has created (in my view) a situation in which the bachelor's degree is not worth very much, even as its cost explodes. Put another way, a degree from one of the top 50 universities in the country MAY matter, depending on what it is in. But outside of that group--unless you're in hard STEM stuff--the BA prepared you for little. The final piece of this pie is "the common app(lication)", which for those of us who hand-crafted four or five applications in the 80's without any similarity--sounds like a benefit. But it isn't. What it has become is a delivery vehicle for applications from unqualified--or worse--uninterested students who don't have as much work to do in order to apply to a school. And while universities are now able to point at how exclusive they've gotten (as their class sizes haven't increased as fast as their super-charged applicant pools), high school seniors work themselves into a lather when they see schools with what were (and are) middling reputations turning down 60% of their applicants. One hears from the next generation many tales of how much harder it is for them (likely every next generation has and will), but in this case, I think they have the facts on their side.

The geese have returned to the cove. Each season has its wonders here, and among those fall brings is the cacophonous arrival of geese. As I wrote this, a group descended noisily and distracted me from this post. And so I'll now pay them heed and wish you a good day.

Geese in the distance



Friday, October 5, 2018

Some More Thoughts on Kavanaugh

I look forward to the Kavanaugh vote, and I will accept the vote of the Senate however it turns out. This has been an entirely unsatisfactory period in our nation's history, and I look forward to its diminishment.

As I think about this whole sad and sordid affair, a number of things kept coming to mind, and I'll lay them out in no particular order. But the sum total of them has led me to be far more sympathetic to Kavanaugh than I would normally have been.

--This has never been about Kavanaugh, sexual assault, or teenage buffoonery. It has always been about Roe v. Wade and any attempt to make it about anything else is disingenuous. The left sees Kavanaugh as a potential fifth vote to whittle away at abortion rights, and they went to the mattresses in order to stop him. This includes willful manipulation of Professor Ford and her narrative and evidence.

--The degree to which the press has served as an advocacy arm of the Democratic Party in this sad affair cannot be overstated. There simply was no equality of effort in questioning the narrative of Professor Ford and the narrative of Judge Kavanaugh. Ford was believed, Kavanaugh was not, and it was open season on Kavanaugh. Ford's many, many, many inconsistencies, her failure to share even the evidence she had, and the indisputable lack of any corroborating witnesses--were never as interesting or salacious as the drinking habits of entitled young white men.

--The President's actions -- especially his performance at a rally the other night -- has been predictably gutter and utterly representative of this immoral and unethical man. That more Republicans did not vocally chastise the President is unfortunate, and unfortunately also predictable.

--The plain truth is that if the White House had pulled Kavanaugh's nomination, or if Kavanaugh had dropped out under this onslaught, a terrible precedent would have been set, one that would be more injurious to our Republic than the lifetime tenure on the court of a man who had been accused without evidence. The effort to get him to derail him guaranteed that a vote would occur.

I received a note the other day from a fellow Field Marshall in the #antiTrump movement who was dismayed at the degree to which I was not repudiating the GOP on its conduct in this matter. I reminded him of my lifetime disdain for the Democratic party and its tactics, and I pointed out that one of the things that he and I had been so vocally protesting--the destruction of political norms-- by Donald Trump, was EXACTLY what the D's were doing now with a wrecking ball (the media) at their control. I don't think the D's calculated the degree to which their efforts would cause a re-forming of the pre-Trump coalition on the Right. Don't get me wrong. I will not and can not every vote for Trump again, and I will not be a Republican while he and his ilk are ascendant. But they have the better of this argument and that's where I am on this.
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