Sunday, September 30, 2018

Trump's Troubadour Wonders Where the Virtuous Politicians Are

Before the 2016 election, I did not know who Salena Zito was. Through the primary and since, I have come to know her as a sort-of "Jane Goodall" of TrumpAmerica, only in this case, the anthropological case study not only catalogs the society under review but acts as its truth-teller and advocate. Ms. Zito has a new column up at the Washington Examiner entitled "The Politicians We Deserve", and it caught my attention on a quiet Sunday in the late stages of our Republic.

Ms. Zito begins the piece with a paean to former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who virtually every squishy, RINO, establishment, GOPe kind of person (like me) had hoped would someday run from President. The man was as Reagany and George W. Bushy as you could get, and those are great qualifications in my book.  In 2011, he ultimately decided not to, citing among other things, family concerns including the ups and downs of his marriage. Zito recently interviewed him, and he indicated that were he faced with the same decision today, not only would he not run, but the decision would be a no-brainer, the intimation being that the changed political climate including personal destruction was to blame. Zito sums it up thusly: "Daniels’ decision as a possible presidential candidate was a very high-profile example of when good men and women decide not to run for office, not because they aren’t capable, not because they lack leadership qualities, but because of the personal cost to their lives, reputations, and their family’s stability."

Zito's piece continues: "One of the most common complaints heard on the campaign trail in 2016 was this: Of all the inspiring, hardworking, bright men and women in this country, how did it come down to a choice between two people who were not exactly the paragons of virtue?" She goes on to answer her own question: "The answer two years ago was that people in this country had such a low viewpoint of government and institutions, it was hard to get good people to be willing to be involved because they lacked faith to get involved. In retrospect, two years ago may seem like a kinder, gentler time. Today, given that character assassination comes first, and facts come later, why would any good person jump in?" And "But in this age of vicious politics, good people will step back and refuse to upend their personal lives because the other side politically is set on winning at any cost"

I don't even know where to begin to unpack this. This woman who has spent a good part of the past two years attempting to normalize and legitimize not only the vicious and vindictive statements of the President-- but also in soft-pedaling the degree to which his supporters lap it up and internalize it--is all of a sudden lamenting the lack of good people willing to get into politics? Forgive me, but maybe I'm having a memory lapse. Did a former two-term governor of Florida not run in 2016? Did a former tech CEO not run? Did a brain surgeon not run? Did Senators from Florida and Texas not run? Were the sixteen others who ran somehow not virtuous enough? And was not every single one of these others (and at least one wife thereof) not savaged in personal ways by the man who eventually won? Remember-this wasn't "the other side". This was Donald Trump, running as a Republican, burning the crops in the fields as he roamed to the cheering and applause of the people Zito lionizes.

Does Zito REALLY think that if Mitch Daniels threw his hat in the ring in 2016 things would have turned out any differently? I mean--there was no more establishment guy around than Mitch Daniels--and I mean that with esteem and admiration. "Mitch the Knife" was the King of Cutting Entitlements and budget discipline. Trump and his followers want nothing to do with cutting entitlements, and they would have cheered and applauded while Trump turned his carnival act on Daniels, who is I think two or three inches shorter than "Little Marco" Rubio. My problem with Zito here is not that she is wrong in citing this as a problem, it's just that she is the absolute wrong person to point it out, as closely identified as she is with the defense of Trumpism and its adherents. Trump and Trumpkins did not invent the politics of personal destruction, but the degree to which they participate in its practice and defense is fundamental to the movement and its narrative.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Big Fat Friday Free For All

We live in troubled times, and I fear our nation is sick and broken. My day was a busy one yesterday, and I tried to use the busy-ness as a means to foist off the ubiquitous images coming from Capitol Hill, in which a group of people utterly certain of their priors preened for the cameras while a woman told a horrible story implicating a man who says it didn't happen. I was not totally successful in avoiding the horror, but I did manage to limit its impact on my already diminished capacity to watch the country devour itself in tribal displays. I have generally been optimistic about the future of our country, but the last two years have taken their toll on that optimism. What is most depressing about where we are is the degree to which people now question personal motives behind political ideas, while ignorant of their own horrible, tribal biases. I don't know how this ends, but I am not hopeful.

I have another busy day today, one capping off in a drive to Kitten #2's school to watch her play field hockey. She plays lacrosse in the spring, a sport I prefer. That said, as field hockey games tend to be low scoring affairs, there is often a good bit of tension as to the outcome. Afterward, she and I will drive back to Easton, an hour or so of me doing my best not to poke knitting needles into my eardrums to end the pain of the music she likes to play. I am that guy, but only on internal monologue (I have been told that voicing these objections is not welcomed by one's children). Every single damn song sounds like the one before it; monotonous, folksy, earnest. Blech. 

The Kitten and I have been solo for a couple of weeks, with Kitten #1 off on a gap-year Outward Bound course in the wilds of North Carolina and Kitten #2 off at school. I have to say that I've enjoyed it and am looking forward to more of it. The passage of the seasons was marked last night in our kitchen as the two candlesticks/white candles that sit atop our kitchen table during the fall and winter returned to their positions. No friend of fall and winter, the Kitten rages against the dying of the light by eating dinner aided by these candles. I like candlelight, and so look forward to the change. It won't be long until the gas fireplaces we installed during the renovation six years ago will be fired up, and I'll have my favorite little spot back by the fire in the kitchen for the mornings that I am at home, with two slumbering black labs nearby and occasional intrepid visits by the cats.

Every five years I am charged with rallying the Lenape High School Class of 1983 for our reunions, and this being one of those five years, I have been at this. Thirty-five seems like an odd number (not just mathematically) to celebrate, but we'll gather nonetheless. The event is a virtual copy of #30 which makes everything much easier. October 20th is the date if you are hoping to attend, reach out to me for details.

The big news in my life is that I am considering ending my 25 year relationship with America Online (AOL). That's right, I still have an AOL account (email only). The Kitten and I were chatting last night about the list of automatic payments that so effortlessly fly from our treasure each month, and after her list I laid out mine, which included AOL. She brutally brow-beat me on this, and my only defense was that of clinging to something old, familiar, and comfortable. This morning, I've begun the process of getting a new personal email (gmail) account and will take a hard look at these auto payments that desperately need pruning.

My beloved Cavaliers venture into my ancestral homeland of central North Carolina tomorrow at a gaudy 3-1 to face the undefeated Wolfpack of North Carolina State. It looks like something positive is happening with the Hoos this year, and I'll search the various forms of connection I have with the world to see which might bring me this game. Further to my previous paragraph, we have DirecTV, and pay an enormous fee each month for a thousand channels I do not watch. But when the Hoos are on Big Ten TV--well, I get to watch! The Kitten suggests that we might have a more restrictive (and cost effective) plan, but I have been unable to bring myself to shed the giant menu of unwatched fare.

A good weekend to you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On a Weekend in France

Readers may remember way back to last week when I wrote about an upcoming weekend visit to Paris with the Kitten. That travel is complete, and I can say with confidence that Paris is a do again.

We flew from Dulles to Vienna to Paris, a route necessitated by my having cashed in miles. Our plane was a 2-4-2 configuration, and we had a 2 on the starboard side. While not roomy, we were fine, as neither of us is all that tall. We landed in Vienna, had to clear customs and then go back through security. In the meantime, we had a nice fat breakfast before our 2.5 hour flight back the way we came.

Landing in Paris, we moved quickly through immigration and found our way to the train station, where the RER train would whisk us to St. Michel station a ten minute walk from our hotel in St. Germaine. But just as we approached the terminal, security cleared everyone out as there was a suspicious bag left unattended. Without any real sense how long this would last, I checked Uber and everything looked good-so we caught an Uber to Paris. Our driver was a jazz buff (not the first Uber driver who would be listening to jazz), and drove like a maniac.

Our hotel was a nice little spot, probably 25 rooms or so, with a bar and a breakfast room. We set our stuff down and began a walkabout--probably around 3:30 PM. On the way out of the hotel about ten yards down was a bistro that I suggested should be our place to eat that night, as my next meal is generally one of the three top things on my mind at any one time.

The Kitten is an old Paris hand, and she had a determined agenda of gardens and churches for the first day. Around 6:30 or so, I'd had enough and suggested that we needed to get moving toward the hotel to get some dinner. I'd gotten maybe three hours sleep on the red-eye overnight and was beginning to fade. She was somewhat disappointed in me, as she had researched the Louvre and saw that it was open until ten on Fridays and that Friday evenings were the least well-attended. I delayed answering her, but reminded her that before we left I had predicted that Friday evening would be a groggy one for me.

We made our way to the little bistro and had a nice dinner. Turns out they call French Onion Soup  "Onion Soup" in France. Who'dathunk it? At the end of our dinner, I let the Kitten down gently and told her I was headed directly to bed. She--independent woman that she is--said, fine, I'm going to the Louvre. She did, and I did. Actually I didn't. I read for a little while but was unconscious by nine pm.

Eleven hours later I was awakened by a fully dressed woman holding a cup of Nescafe for me, telling me I had to get up because we had a lot to do. In fact, over the next two days we did do a lot. Museums, sites, palaces, meals, etc. Having a limited time in a city the size of Paris means you either do little or do lots for short period of time. She chose the latter, and I followed along. On Sunday after a long day at Versailles and a romantic dinner in a spot at the base of the Eiffel Tower, I decided to see if I had enough mile to upgrade us to business for the long flight home (we were going Paris to Franfurt to Dulles--I know, again in the wrong direction). The wonderful gent at United said "how'd you like to get on the non-stop from Paris to Dulles leaving at 1230?" and then cited the miles I'd have to cash in. This was a no brainer.

We woke Monday, made our way to the airport, and then traveled home uneventfully.

I have a few observations to make from the trip:

1) Paris is a beautiful city. Rome is my favorite, but Paris comes close to displacing #2 (Florence). A few more days in Paris and it would likely be #2.
2) Parisians were wonderful, helpful, and kind. Parisian waiters were...rude. Except the one at our final dinner, who was great.
3) Because we did a good bit of close quarters travel (planes, Metro, trains) I was able to enjoy the wafts of BO from a great many people. I don't have a great sense of smell, so if you smell bad enough for me to notice, you smell really bad. And there were a lot of foul smelling people in France.
4) I could live in Paris for a while, in fact I may someday. The Kitten and I are thinking about a one month a year plan in which we live somewhere else when we're retired. I'll let you know how that shakes out.
5) The walk Monday morning from the hotel to the train station was brisk and wonderful. We left the hotel around 8:15, and there was a school about halfway between us and the train station; from the age of the kids we saw walking hand and hand with their parents, it was likely a kindergarten. What a scene. Businesses slowly opening up, street sweepers and cleaners out, and little kids chattering like swallows to their parents as they walked. A great scene.
6) I do not recommend intercontinental weekend trips. Too much flying for too little hanging out.

On Kavanaugh

There is nothing good about what is going on with the Brett Kavanaugh nomination for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Anthony Kennedy. I have been actively trying to shield myself from the constant clatter of opposing social media volleys, unsuccessfully mostly, not because I have any particular dog in this fight, but because I find the whole situation emblematic of our nation's decline. That decline is increasingly depressing.

I will assume the reader is familiar with all the history. Bork. Thomas. Garland. Nuclear options.

How we got here is interesting but far less important that the fact that we ARE here. We are in a place where a woman accuses a man of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago when both were teenagers. The accused went on to a successful career and is currently a federal judge. The President nominated him to the Supreme Court, and the accuser (Professor Christine Blasey Ford) came forward with her accusations, breaking the lid off of an already runaway process. Virtually every other aspect of this situation is tainted by politics, score settling, or team divisions (sex-based and again, political).

I simply do not know who to believe in this matter, but I do know that I will not believe either of them (or the second accuser whose story seems somewhat problematic) without some evidence. During a long and emotional conversation recently, I took pains to point out that I see both sides of this tragedy. I see a young woman, attacked and alone, who feels she cannot tell anyone what has happened to her. I see a 53 year old man who has lived what appears to be an exemplary life, without means to address an unfalsifiable claim. My interlocutor was more than willing to grant me the horrible situation Kavanaugh is in, without means to prove that he did not do something. But when pressed for how we resolve this, my friend said, "we just have to believe the woman". No can do.

There is stray voltage from both sides here. I am unimpressed with the "this isn't a trial, it is a job interview and so the rules of evidence are demonstrably less" argument. I am also not impressed with the "she must be telling the truth because why else would she come forward" argument. The former ignores the importance of truth as truth, and the latter ignores the many motivations people have for their actions.

On the other side, Kavanaugh's virginity (or not) is unrelated to the charge. I am also not convinced that calendars -- even kept by a precocious teen -- would mention sexual assault.

So here we are, a nation tearing itself up. I saw someone today on Twitter make a comparison of our divisions to that which existed in the 1850's. He was loathe to say would might be our 1860's.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Random Thoughts Before a Long Weekend

Later this afternoon, a jet will carry the Kitten and me to Vienna on an overnight flight. We'll land, have a few hours to catch our connection, and then head a few hours back west to Paris where we'll land early Friday afternoon. This is an inefficient route, but when one cashes in airline points to travel, one's options are few.

The occasion for this trip is a comment of the Kitten's from several months ago, when she for the ten-thousandth time in the past eleven years said "I love surprises". Having listened now for nearing a dozen years to this comment, I decided it was high time to act upon it, if for no other reason than to see if perhaps doing so will make it go away. Monthly trips to the West Coast having contributed mightily to my airline status/miles account, I decided to whisk my best girl off for a long weekend in a city that she loves and which I had never visited.

Oh, I've been to France. Several times, as a matter of fact, courtesy of the U.S. Navy. I've had wonderful visits to a number of places along the Mediterranean coast, but I've never had the time or the inclination to visit Paris. I once carried on a conversation with a French woman in Cannes at a formal luncheon wherein the city's grandees feted a group of officers from my ship. She was seated next to me, an attractive woman of about 40 (I was 30ish), while her husband was seated across the round table. He was older than she, jowly and sullen. He was French and spoke no other foreign languages. She was French and also spoke German but no English. I speak English and German, but no French. Once we discovered that we could communicate -- I was treated to a tale of tired boredom as her midday wine intake increased, and eventually slipped a telephone number which I declined to exploit.

This was the same trip in which I enticed a number of my shipmates to unknowingly (we were young-ish) commit horrible relationship fouls. I had a few months earlier, come to know the charms of a young woman who wore a perfume (Boucheron) that was unusually attractive, if you know what I mean. And you do. She did not last, but the memory of her perfume did. There we were, seven or so Lieutenants and below, strolling along the main drag of Cannes--when we happened upon a Boucheron store. That's right. An entire store. So I convinced my (unknowing, soon to be troubled) shipmates to come in and "smell this stuff", which they did, and several of them reached the same conclusion that I had. This led to the brilliant conclusion that they would purchase some of it for their own sweeties. Which they did.

It was after we got home a few months later that the first inklings of dismay began to arise when one of the guys came by my stateroom to tell me about the big fight he had with his girl, and why he bought her perfume that reminded him of another woman. Apparently, "no honey, that wasn't it, the Operations Officer introduced it to me" was not an answer that held water. He was apparently not the only one to be so persecuted, and I learned a solid lesson from all of it. Interestingly, my inamorata at the time was a good sport and tried to wear the perfume "for me"-- but she was astoundingly allergic to it (and other perfumes, apparently) and so died my Boucheron fascination. Although I did keep a little perfume tester strip bearing the whiff of it in my wallet for some time thereafter...

This trip is a quick one, we'll return Monday. The surprise element of the master plan failed a few weeks ago when The Kitten consulted her own miles account and saw that there was a reservation to Paris. A calculated error in adding her number, I know. But once the cat was out of the bag, it relieved me of any other planning responsibilities, as she has gleefully ran with how to spend 72 hours there. Further evidence of my good fortune in having convinced this woman to accept me into her life is that we are sharing a single carry-on bag (don't hate, Tom).

First things first though. Our two black labs need to be transported to their luxury spa experience at our favorite "pet resort". The dogs (Baloo-7, Zuzu-5) lose their minds whenever they get into an automobile of any type, but when they realize that they are at the pet resort they are beside themselves with joy. This place is great--in the woods, lots of dogs, big play yard, the kind of joint I would want to be shunted of to were I a dog.

My only regret this weekend is that the trip coincides with a UVA home game (v. Louisville) in which we are favored. I would not bet this game, were I a gambler, but it is nice to think Vegas sees something in my team that I don't yet see.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Silver Lining in the Darkest of Clouds

I have watched the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh with a mixture of revulsion and amusement, as Democrats and activists (but I repeat myself) beclown themselves in earnest desire to show themselves to be the wokest of woke for their increasingly leftist voter base. This is the equivalent of Trump campaign rallies, which really were performative theater based at a specific brand of voter who then delivered big time for him. It remains to be seen whether the Democrats will be able to catch lightning in a bottle, but they are certainly trying.

I believe the Trump Presidency to be an absolute calamity, and I actively desire its termination, either through the ballot or some other Constitutional means. As it decays, the true nature of its incompetence and chaos will become further known, although why anyone of sound judgement would need additional evidence of the rot is unknown to me. The assaults on norms, civility, international relationships, free trade, and free speech have been damaging, and will continue to be damaging to the civic life and national security of this country.

But what comes next is going to be equally damaging. The lurch to the left that follows this dumpster fire is going to be an assault on every political virtue conservatives hold dear, and they will accomplish it through political processes. They will have the votes. They will have convinced enough Americans that their way is best, because the fat, apolitical middle will have had enough of the ghoul-show that is the Trump Administration.

And what will be there to stand up to the assaults on freedom and liberty sure to follow? The judiciary. A judiciary whose absences will have been filled for at least two years and perhaps four, by a Senate run by a nominally conservative party whose leader was positively excoriated by the Trumpkin "burn it all down" set for being a RINO and GOPe, from lists compiled by the GOPe'est of GOPe organizations--the Federalist Society--lists that were compiled during the campaign as a direct consequence of the desire to box a wildly inconsistent President in with respect to judicial appointments (remember the President ruminating on the fitness of his sister for the bench? I do).

When I think about the storms to come, I think about the bulwark being constructed around the Constitution by Mitch McConnell and the incredible importance it will have when the shiny objects of Trumpism have dimmed and his voters return to their dulled rage states and Infowars consumption, as the hungry leftists gain power and engage in their version of norm breaking (ok, re-engage, as Barack Obama/Harry Reid were masters of this). When this happens, and I am as politically isolated as I am today in the Age of Trump--the judiciary will be there to stand in the way of leftward madness.

So on this Friday, I give thanks for Leader McConnell and the wisdom of our Founders. Because winter is coming. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Mutiny, Treason, or Patriotism: The NYT Op-Ed, Considered

We are in the midst of one of those tsunamis that would once have seemed unthinkable, but which in the current circus atmosphere have become routine. It seems a "senior administration official" has written an op-ed in which he or she assures us of hard work on the inside trying to move forward the tenets of movement conservatism against the glandular lurches of an unfit President who not only hasn't a conservative bone in his body, but who would not understand the reasons behind a conservative idea if served in a Happy Meal. We are further assured that this person is not alone, and in one stroke, the "resistance" has its mole(s) on the inside publicly proclaiming their work. Forgive me if I don't cheer out loud.

Don't get me wrong. When I read the op-ed yesterday, there was a part of me that said "ah, at long last. Signs of hope" as if I were in the NASA control room waiting for communication from a distant satellite orbiting a far-away body. The word that came to mind was "remarkable", which the Google tells me means "worthy of attention; striking" without further value judgment. This was indeed a remarkable letter, if only because the New York Times does not regularly print anonymous op-eds. Adding to the the perception though, was the content and purported provenance of the essay. A "senior administration official" was sending signals in the clear to the "resistance" to the effect of "never fear, we are here and we are helping to restrain this monster." Those opposed to the President (me) are presumably to take great comfort from this person's activities and those of others of like mind. 

Some important thoughts up front. First, I have to assume that this person is either senior White House staff or a cabinet officer. The risk to the New York Times by printing this is so immense (reputationally) that to offer the space to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the Department of Commerce would be illogical. Second, I believe that this person exists and that he or she wrote this essay. This is not "fake news" or any of the other ridiculous mutterings emanating from the sausagey fingers of our unfortunate President. No--I truly believe this person exists and that they chose this moment to send their bat signal to the resistance. What I can't quite figure out is WHY? 

I've seen some elsewhere characterize this person's actions as "mutiny"; one person--familiar with my chosen career earlier in life--was incredulous that I did not see this action as mutinous. Putting aside for the moment that I had not rendered any opinion to that moment other than that it was "remarkable" (see above), and furthermore that mutiny is an actual charge and crime under the Uniform Code (which unless this person is uniformed, they would not come under), I do not see this as mutinous for a very important reason. This person's boss or bosses have not seen his or her actions and job performance as such. If this person were considered unloyal or mutinous, would there not be actual--you know--actions that would rise to this level? Actions that would be noted and questioned? Were there such actions--and having first hand knowledge of the depth of animus this crowd holds for those who oppose the President--do we really think this person would still be around to write such an essay? Of course not. 

So then, is this treason? No, at least not under any definition of the word with which I am familiar. Conveniently, we have such a definition close at hand, as the crime is defined in the U.S. Constitution, Article III Section 3 as "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court." I am no Obama-like Constitutional scholar, but writing this op-ed does not seem to rise to this.

Was what we read yesterday patriotic? This one is a little more difficult to arbitrate, as patriotism is a matter or personal taste. I am sure that the author of the piece thinks they are being patriotic. Many readers will see this as a patriotic act, as there is within both the resistance AND the lukewarm Trump supporter community this notion of men and women of good character and sound conservative principles toiling day by day to restrain the President's "...most reckless impulses..." (as Brit Hume put it). Calling it "God's work", Hume goes on to suggest that while the quiet, subversive activities carried out by this person are fine--laudable even--anonymously crowing about it in the New York Times is considerably less praiseworthy. Again--we must willfully suspend the disbelief of just why it is a President's reckless impulses must be restrained and whether that person remains fit for the office in order for this role to be meaningful. But I digress.

So, where exactly do I come down on all of this? After having a night to sleep on it, I come down thusly. The author of this op-ed is guilty of neither mutiny nor treason. That said, what the author has done is not in the least bit patriotic, nor is it worthy of praise or honor. It is self-serving. It is an attempt to get on the record a sterilized version of whatever impulses led this person to serve, and then remain serving in spite of the accumulating evidence that the President is unfit and should be removed from office. This is because this person's identity will one day be known to us, to all of us. Probably sooner, rather than later--as the value of having written something like this diminished greatly over time. No--this was not an honorable act. It was an act of great dishonor.

Which brings me to my final main point. The continuing hope and desire of the anti-Trump crowd and the lukewarm Trump crowd that men like Chief of Staff Kelly and Secretary Mattis are serving as great superhuman patriots constraining the President is a fiction and ought to be dispensed with. There was a time when this was an attractive notion, one from which many likely found comfort. But that time is long over, they are now complicit in the perfidy. That Bob Woodward's book recounts for us exactly the same kind of exasperated views of the President made by these men that others have reported makes their continuing and active denials not only ring hollow, but rise to the level of dishonesty. 

If Mattis and Kelly and Pompeo and the author of this op-ed truly believe that their roles are to constrain/restrain this President, in light of what we have seen now over 18 plus months in office, it seems that they are only being minimally successful. Whatever patriotic stirrings led them to accept these offices must now turn to the realistic understanding of the situation, and that is that whatever grand powers they believe they have, the President's are grander, and he is always a Tweet away from statements that have considerable consequences. Respect for the Republic and a desire to serve it require these people to "walk and talk". Resign en masse with letters addressed to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Explain publicly the extent to which your efforts were required to restrain the "reckless impulses of the President". Then let the political process of impeachment--or not--play out.

I stand ready to accept the charge that I am advocating "undoing" the results of the last election. I'm happy to do so as I have the Constitutional process of impeachment to fall back upon to support my view that the Framers gave us the means so to undo, and specifically placed those means within the legislative branch rather than the judicial, recognizing the overtly political nature of the act. It is time for men and women of honor to stop the leaking and the anonymous bullshit. Act now, or forever be tarred with the dishonor of having aided and abetted this dark period in our history. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Weekly Wrap Up

It is 0545 on a Saturday morning, and I have been awake for over two hours. Normally I am a great sleeper, and last night was a solid night's effort (six hours). But when I woke this morning, it was wide awake, and so I decided to press through. My mind was quite full upon startup, and I suppose that's why I was unable to get back to sleep. Here are a few of the things that I pondered.

Kitten #1 is headed off to a seven week Outward Bound program in the wilds of North Kakalaky. She and The Kitten had a 0500 wake up to get to the airport, and I imagine their impending departure and the thought of anyone in my house not waking to their alarm both conspired to create the early wakeup. Her departure and the fact that Kitten #2 is off at school creates (at least for a time) an "empty nest" here, and that was also something I was pondering. I concluded that clean(er) counters and fewer dishes in the sink are unlikely to compensate for the lack of giggles and smiles and girly conspiracies.

I also thought about the weather in Charlottesville for today's game, with reports of scattered thunderstorms moving in just about the time Rob and I sit down for our pre-game meal at The Virginian. I've sat through a number of rainy games, and being prepared really does make a difference in how enjoyable the experience is.

The drive to Charlottesville also popped into my head. I thought about how many times I've made the trip, how godawful I-95 is (gotta go this way to pick up Rob in Richmond), how I need to bring my 9mm along on one of these trips so I can stop off at Clark Brothers in Warrenton, how I need to download a few podcasts for the road, how I need to buy some bourbon, etc.

My Friday activities popped in. I made the trip in to DC and stood in line for a bit to pay my last respects to John McCain. I thought about how great the Capitol Dome looks since its multi-year renovation. I thought about how the dome looked from the inside gazing upward. I thought about the flag-draped coffin and the slice of Americana who joined me in the hot sun for hours in order to spend 90 seconds with John McCain for one last time. I thought about the protests in DC over the past year, and my social media pondering about just what would bring me to actually protest (me being a conservative and all and not prone to public displays of political theater). I realized that what I did yesterday was--in fact--a form of protest, a form of public display. It was me, standing in the sun in a dark suit and black tie sweating straight through an undershirt, dress shirt, and tie--resolved to be part of a crowd gathered to remember duty, virtue, honesty, bravery, and civility-- in contrast to the immaturity, incivility, bombast, irresponsibility, and incoherence emanating from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

I thought a little about upcoming travel. The Kitten and I are going to Paris in a couple of weeks for a long weekend, a city I've never seen. I've been to France quite a bit (thanks Navy!) but never to the City of Lights. I pondered the carb induced gluttony that awaits me. I wondered if we could pack a single carry-on between us (of course). I quietly bitched about not yet being able to select seats for the flights.

The blog popped into my head. I wondered why I keep it live, and why I decided to contribute to it again this week after months of idling. How the book I keep meaning to write derived of the best of the blog's offerings remains only partially written. How the things I like to write about most--politics and policy--are the least popular things I write about here. I get more feedback from my thoughts about everyday life than I do about the things I agonize over. Maybe a lesson here.

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