Snow Brook, oil on canvas, 9 x 12
by Charles Gray
"I am proud to shut down the government for border security ... I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it." –Donald Trump
|The Snow Man|
|by Wallace Stevens|
One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to think Of any misery in the sound of the wind, In the sound of a few leaves, Which is the sound of the land Full of the same wind That is blowing in the same bare place For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
When I posted this announcement, Shaw volunteered to be my aunt and make me worm sandwiches. So that is how Shaw became my aunt.Putting Myself Up for Adoption
The way natural birth or adoption works, children have no rights in choosing their own family. Since adults are the ones who make the decisions (or have an “oops”), you get what you get - for better or worse.
However, suppose it worked in reverse? Suppose children had the right to choose their parents, their family, their siblings? Trade in a doofus brother, for instance, for a more companionable roommate? One who shares your penchant for drawing murals on living room walls with crayons and magic markers? Or adopt a spirited sister who can dump a full box of laundry detergent into the washing machine and turn the house into a sudsy romper room? A sibling who conspires to leave on a faucet in the upstairs bath long enough to transform the staircase into a water slide?
Here is my problem. I am an only child and have never experienced the joys of growing up with a sibling. My mother was an only child too; hence I had no first cousins with freckles and pigtails. Better late than never, I say.
I have decided to take matters in hand and adopt a sister. I asked Sheria to be my sister, and she has agreed. So I am pleased to announce that henceforth and forevermore, Sheria is now my adopted sibling (and don't mess with my sister!).
Christmas has come early in Minnesota.
After an intense battle over government spending shut down its government for 20 days this summer, the state now is forecasting an $876 million surplus over the next two years. That’s a huge surprise compared to the $5 billion projected deficit that Minnesota expected in July, setting off a national, highly-partisan battle over the best way to close that gap.
What changed? State officials chalk a lot of the good news up to factors specific to Minnesota. The state has seen its revenue increase as its unemployment rate is lower than the national average. The state has, for example, regained about a third of the jobs lost since the recession began. Nationally, that number stands at 22 percent.
Minnesota has also cut its spending, particularly on health care, in unique ways. It’s one of just four states, for example, to expand its Medicaid program in advance of the health reform law’s required expansion. For doing so, it’s received a higher Medicaid matching rate for some patients from the federal government.
BACHMANN: I think what you’re advocating for is censorship on the part of government. So the government would prohibit intelligent design from even the possibility of being taught in questioning the issueof evolution. And if you look at scientists there is not a unanimity of agreement on the origins of life. … Why would we forstall any particular theory? Becuase I don’t think that even evolutionists, by and large, would say that this is proven fact. They say that this is a theory, as well as intelligent design. So I think the best thing to do is to let all scientific facts on the table, and let students decide."
DANFORTH: What have been the big applause lines in these debates? Well, a statement that the governor of Texas is responsible for killing 234 people on death row. Or that we favor torture. Or that we’re creating a fence on the Mexican border that electrocutes people when they try to cross it. Or when people show up at the emergency room at hospitals and they’re not insured don’t treat them. And that, I mean these are the big applause lines, people just hoop and holler when they hear all that. [...]
It doesn’t have anything to do with the republican party that I was a part of. This is just totally different. And all of these people who are saying this, y’know, and claiming that, y’know, they’re for all this stuff, they also sort of ostentatiously say, “Oh, we’re very religious people. We really, we’re just very pious, Christian people.” They were for torture, and electrocution of the people on along the border and all of that. That doesn’t have anything to do with, is contrary to the Christianity that I understand.
"But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”...
Some call this the closing of the conservative mind. Alas, the conservative mind has proved itself only too open, these past years, to all manner of intellectual pollen. Call it instead the drying up of conservative creativity...
I refuse to believe that I am the only Republican who feels this way. If CNN’s most recent polling is correct, only half of us sympathize with the tea party. However, moderate-minded people dislike conflict—and thus tend to lose to people who relish conflict. The most extreme voices in the GOP now denounce everybody else as Republicans in Name Only. But who elected them as the GOP’s membership committee? What have they done to deserve such an inheritance?...
This is, unfortunately, not merely a concern for Republican voters. The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society."
|by Marvin Bell|
We need some pines to assuage the darkness when it blankets the mind, we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind, and a blur or two of a wild thing that sees and is not seen. We need these things between appointments, after work, and, if we keep them, then someone someday, lying down after a walk and supper, with the fire hole wet down, the whole night sky set at a particular time, without numbers or hours, will cause a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap-- to close round the moment and the thought of whatever good we did.