Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gallup Poll: Barack and Hillary, Most Admired Man and Woman

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton Again Top Most Admired List

Clinton Most Admired Woman a record 16th time

by Jeffrey M. Jones
PRINCETON, NJ -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama continue to be named by Americans as the Most Admired Woman and Most Admired Man living today in any part of the world. Clinton has been the Most Admired Woman each of the last 10 years, and Obama has been the Most Admired Man four years in a row. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, and Condoleezza Rice round out the top five Most Admired women, while the top five Most Admired men also include George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, and Warren Buffett.

Most Admired Woman, 2011
Most Admired Man, 2011
These results are based on a Dec. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll. In 1946, Gallup first asked Americans to name, without prompting, the person they most admire living in any part of the world. Since 1948, Gallup has asked Americans to name separately the Most Admired Man and Most Admired Woman, and has done so each year except in 1967 (when only Most Admired Man was asked) and 1976.

The Most Admired typically hail from the worlds of government, religion, business, entertainment, or humanitarian causes.

Most Times Finishing First as Most Admired Woman, 1948-2011

Barack Obama's first-place finish is his fourth. Dwight Eisenhower holds the record for first-place finishers among men, with 12, followed by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton with 8 each.

Most Times Finishing First as Most Admired Man, 1946-2011

Friday, December 23, 2011


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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



House G.O.P. Leaders Agree to Extension of Payroll Tax Cut
Republican leaders bowed to intense pressure from members of their party to end a politically damaging impasse, agreeing to accept a two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday.

How curious is this?  The party of NO TAXES! refused the payroll tax cut extension compromise, which means taxes will go up for Americans. 

Read that again:  The GOP is for raising your taxes!

The GOP, in their maniacal hatred of President Obama, will actually act contrary to all they believe in order to prevent a compromise with the Kenyan Marxist Socialist Commie.  You gotta admire, in a sick way, the depth of their derangement here and their willingness to abandon all they stand for in service to that hatred. 

Speaker Boehner has lost control of the House to the Tea Party freshmen, who know nothing about governing and who took over in November of 2010; and Boehner, along with them, is taking his party off a cliff to certain disaster.

Even the Wall Street Journal, no cheerleader for Mr. Obama, has this to say about the lastest political insanity from the House Republicans:

The GOP's Payroll Tax Fiasco:

How did Republicans manage to lose the tax issue to Obama?

After a year of the tea party House, Mr. Obama and Senate Democrats have had to make no major policy concessions beyond extending the Bush tax rates for two years. Mr. Obama is in a stronger re-election position today than he was a year ago, and the chances of Mr. McConnell becoming Majority Leader in 2013 are declining.

From the Associated Press:

"John Boehner vowed early on that as speaker, he would let the House “work its will.” At the end of his first year in charge of the fractious Republican-controlled chamber, it’s clear he has little choice.

An uncompromising band of conservatives, led by GOP freshmen to whom Boehner owes his speakership, has repeatedly forced him to back away from deals with President Barack Obama, Democrats and, this week, even one struck by Senate Republicans. Gridlock, again and again, has defined Congress in the Boehner era even as Americans fume and the economy continues to wobble."

From Reuters:

"In Congress' tense drama over how to extend payroll tax cuts for 160 million Americans, it may be the most intriguing subplot: whether Republican House Speaker John Boehner is losing his grip on members of his own party."

Jay Carney, WH Press Secretary:

White House: President Obama Not A "Marriage Counselor"

"TPM - In his daily briefing to reporters, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said there's no good reason for House Republicans not to support the Senate's compromise legislation on extending a payroll tax cut. Carney said the Senate compromise was "a result that was deemed by the Speaker of the House as a good deal." "The president is not, and should not be a marriage counselor" between House and Senate Republicans, Carney said, when asked whether the president would work to bridge the divide between the two chambers."


"Many on the left credit President Obama's rise in the latest polls to the idea that he's adopted a "more populist" message lately. But those of us who have watched him closely these past few years know two things: First of all, we paid attention to the populism in his message all along. And secondly, we also recognized the long game he was playing of continuing to be "the only adult in the room" focused on real solutions. As I've said before, with Republicans adopting a policy of total obstruction, that forced them into an ever smaller corner of extremism, which is causing the divide today.

That, my friends, is the definition of conciliatory rhetoric as ruthless strategy. And as far as I can see...its working."

Photo via Democratic Underground

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Mean resentments and implanted fears"

Photo via Hysterical Raisins

We've seen so many in this weak group of contenders rise and fall--hello Michele, hello Donald, hello, Governor Good Hair, hello Mr. Cain!--once their frightening weaknesses and lack of basic knowledge have been painfully exposed.  We've seen the base say "thanks but no thanks" to Willard as each new date is asked to the nomination prom and then, like capricious pubescents, rejects them as soon as a new hottie gives them a hopeful tweet.

But their newbie idol, Newt, has me wondering how low can the GOP sink to scrounge up a nominee that keeps their grinchy hearts throbbing in anticipation of the victory they so desperately want in 2012 over the dreaded Kenyan Marxist Socialist Commie. 

Newt Gingrich?  Thrice married serial adulterer?  The disgraced former Speaker of the House? The epitome of the Washington insider?  A flip-flopper who would make Willard envy his acrobatics in pandering? The guy who took almost $2 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for his "historical" influence peddling?  IOW, this guy is everything the evangelical base detests in a candidate, and yet there he is--for now--their newtest American golden idol!

How can this be?

James Wolcott, writing in Vanity Fair, describes his assessment of Newt Gingrich in the GOP's race to the bottom for the least likely politician to be its presidential nominee for 2012. 

"One reason I’m such a wayward prognosticator of rightwing trends is that I’m incapable of blacking out enough neural sectors to see the world through reptilian-brained eyes, a prerequisite for any true channeling of the mean resentments and implanted fears that drive hardcore conservatives. I also make the mistake of believing that they believe what they profess to believe, which they clearly don’t, otherwise they wouldn’t be inclining to crown Newt king of the marsh. That a thrice-married Catholic convert with a history of marital infidelity would win the flinty hearts of Tea Partiers while true evangelicals such as Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry would find themselves standing on the platform as the train whooshes by, abandoned and bewildered--well, go figure. That a third-rate futurist spieler who rides every wave of pop guru bullshit and management theory would appeal to those who pride themselves on their unyielding, unchanging bedrock values also falls into the “does not compute” category. To most of us, Newt Gingrich has the mothball mustiness of a has-been who peaked [when] the 'Contract with America,' fell from grace with the House Republicans he led, and has fed his ego and bank balance ever since.


Newt’s shoestring Lazarus resurrection in the polls is a testament to perseverance and ingenuity--to the Power of Gall--but it’s also an indictment of the wet-cardboard strength of the rest of the Republican field. Here they have a clean shot to take the White House in 2012 and they troop out this Gong Show cast of contestants, most of whom couldn’t find their ass on a map and speak entirely in re-masticated phrases and sentiments tossed into their mouths by Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist, and Frank Luntz for years. The Republican field reflects the weak-minded, strong-willed prejudices of its base, hooked up to Fox News as if it were an IV drip. So when rightwing bloggers complain about the candidates, they need someone to skywrite for them, 'If they suck, it’s because YOU suck. You’re the guys who believed once upon a fairy tale that Fred Thompson was a political steamroller and that Herman Cain was a fresh breeze.'  I guess that’s a bit wordy for skywriting, but you get my meaning, sis."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Happy Memory of Her

Our family is in the process of getting on with life. 

Everyone who has lost loved ones knows how slow and difficult that is, expecially at this time of year.

I love this picture of my sister.  She was a beautiful, talented, intelligent woman.

Thank you, everyone, again for your kinds words of sympathy.

I'll be back to blogging in a day or so.

(O)CT(O)PUS, you're a star--not a sea star--the kind that shines when everything else is dark.  Thank you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Thank you to all my blogging friends for your kind expressions of support and comfort.

My sister will be buried tomorrow, and this is a poem I will read at that time.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
W. B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Shaw Became My Aunt

Recently, Malcolm asked me if Shaw is really my aunt.  So if any of you are wondering why I call her “Auntie Shaw,” here is the background:
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!).
When I posted this announcement, Shaw volunteered to be my aunt and make me worm sandwiches. So that is how Shaw became my aunt.

Recently, marine biologists were researching intelligence in cephalopods and placed a jar containing a crab into the octopus aquarium to see what would happen. Sure enough, the octopus untwisted the lid off the jar and devoured the crab. Don’t believe me?  Here is the YouTube video. Afterwards, the octopus twisted the lid back on the jar and winked at the researcher.

Monday, December 5, 2011


A message to my blogging friends:

Thank you, everyone, for your fine contributions to this comment forum.

Unfortunately, a catastrophic event has just engulfed my family, and I'll probably not be blogging for a while.

(O)CT(O)PUS take the reins!

My older sister suffered a stroke that will probably end her life. In the early summer of 2009, I lost another sister. I understand that life brings these awful events to us all, and that we have to find the strength to get through the pain and suffering as our loved ones slip away from us. That's what I'll be dealing with over the next few days.

(O)CT(O), you have the keys to the blog. Use them as you wish.

Please keep me and my family in your thoughts. I'm not a religious person, but I do need the comfort and the support of my blogging friends just now.

Thank you.



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Good Stuff

Herman Cain's candidacy is over.


With one month remaining this year, the U.S. private sector has now added 1.67 million jobs in 2011, well ahead of last year’s private-sector total of 1.2 million, and the best year for businesses since 2006.


Reuters) - The U.S. unemployment rate tumbled to a 2-1/2 year low in November, even though the pace of hiring remained too slow to suggest a significant acceleration in the labor market recovery.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 120,000 jobs, the Labor Department said on Friday, and the jobless rate dropped to 8.6 percent, the lowest since March 2009, from 9 percent in October.

It was the biggest monthly decline since January. While part of the decrease was due to people leaving the labor force, the household survey from which the department calculates the unemployment rate also showed solid gains in employment.

"The economy is continuing to head in the right direction," said Millan Mulraine, senior macro strategist at TD Securities in New York. "However, the ultimate test of the sustainability of the recovery is for the economy to create a sufficient number of jobs to sustain a consumer-led rebound in activity."


A Conservative pundit, George Will, commenting on Newt Gingrich:  "Now you can associate many things with Mr. Gingrich, but wisdom isn’t one of them."


The Bomb Buried In Obamacare Explodes Today [12/02/2011]-Hallelujah!


Andrew Sullivan commenting on the Rabid Right's overestimating Mr. Gingrich and underestimating President Obama:

"Of course, when you actually imagine a Gingrich-Obama debate, and you are not living in a cocoon that insists that Obama is both dumb and a commie, you see how fatal a trap this could be for the GOP.

It's not just that Obama is a smart person whereas Gingrich is simply a dumb person's idea of a smart person. It's that Obama has always excelled up against a volatile, angry opponent. He is a master of allowing them to self-destruct. He got that Houdini-like master of political survival, Bill Clinton, to blow up in the primaries. In a matter of days, he got McCain to destroy his bid with his frantic response to the Lehman collapse.
I mean: who's gonna seem like the angry guy in a Newt-Barack match? Who's gonna seem like the old, rather than mature, one? Even when Gingrich was Speaker, he couldn't muster any grace or authority or calm: things we like in a crisis and a president.

I can't believe the GOP is going to fall for this yet another time. But their loathing of Obama seems to trump all reason, prudence, or guile. Once again, the jujitsu Obama model of politics emerges as his strongest weapon. Given the economy, it may not be enough. But man, does Obama get lucky sometimes in his opponents."


And kudos to Minnesota and its Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, for plodding along in this difficult economic time and getting things done.

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.