I’m gonna set your flag on fire

19 08 2013

Quick follow-up to yesterday’s post:

I wasn’t clear in defining “punishment”, nor in distinguishing that undefined punishment from a beat-down from one’s political opponents.

The ultimate punishment (for an incumbent) is, of course, to be tossed from office, and is the standard for any other concerns about punishment. For example, falling poll numbers might invite either a primary challenge or a better-quality challenger from the other party, which could result in losing one’s seat. Similarly, a beat-down from a political adversary could lead to softening poll numbers, which, in turn, lead challengers to believe the incumbent is vulnerable.

I also wasn’t clear in distinguishing between fear of losing one’s seat from fear of being hammered for an allegedly weak response. As with the issue of punishment, the fear of hammering is a second-order fear linked to the primary fear of election loss.

The difficulty for the incumbent representative or senator, or for either the incumbent or possible presidential candidate, is discerning whether one will be considered weak if one counsels a less-aggressive stance as well as whether one would be able to fend off any attacks in ways that, if they do not strengthen one’s candidacy, do not appreciably weaken it. In the United States, DO SOMETHING!!! is the default mode in response to provocation, so in the absence of other cues, taking a highly aggressive stance is likely the safest tactic.

There are other factors, of course. Pressure from party leaders and threats to withhold campaign funds or boot a member off a favorable committee can steer a wavering politician toward aggression. A sustained media assault can also erode one’s resistance.

Finally, the politician might truly believe that the most aggressive response is, in fact, the correct one, and as such, acts in accordance with his or her principles in voting for aggression.

Now, as to my hypothesis that the supposed problem with a softer response is actually a problem with an unclear response, well, because elections are rarely about one thing and one thing only, this is tough to test.

Russ Feingold was the only senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act and laid out his reasons for doing so, and he lost his re-election; however, he had always had tough races, and lost his bid in the 2010 Tea Party surge. Rep. Ron Paul counseled and Senator Rand Paul counsel non-intervention; the father repeatedly won re-election and the son is popular enough with the base of the Kentucky Republican Party that Mitch McConnell is looking to him in his tough re-election bid. Yet it’s also clear that Rand Paul’s non-interventionism runs into strong opposition within his own party, and while he might be able to ensconce himself in his senate seat for decades to come, it might limit his appeal as a presidential candidate in the Republican primaries.

So, no clear lesson.

Except: to the extent that there is no clear lesson regarding the necessity of the most aggressive response, it is just possible that a sitting politician or a presidential candidate who strongly believes in a less-aggressive/non-interventionist approach could effectively inoculate him or herself against charges of being “soft on terrorism/crime” by crafting a strong and clear alternative and selling it as the most effective way of dealing with the problem.


Every move you make

1 08 2013

Move along, people, nothing to see here.

Yeaaaah, not so much:

Because who wasn’t reading those stories [about the Boston bombing]? Who wasn’t clicking those links? But my son’s reading habits combined with my search for a pressure cooker and my husband’s search for a backpack set off an alarm of sorts at the joint terrorism task force headquarters.


What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving.

Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door.

A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands.

“Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.

They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search.


Meanwhile, they were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he  from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked.

They searched the backyard. They walked around the garage, as much as one could walk around a garage strewn with yardworking equipment and various junk. They went back in the house and asked more questions.


They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. I don’t know what happens on the other 1% of visits and I’m not sure I want to know what my neighbors are up to.

45 minutes later, they shook my husband’s hand and left.


All I know is if I’m going to buy a pressure cooker in the near future, I’m not doing it online.

I’m scared. And not of the right things.

Hey, if Michele Catalano, her husband and son weren’t doing anything wrong, well, then, no harm, no foul, right?



h/t Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPo;  *Update* on the men-in-black, see this piece by Philip Bump of the Atlantic Wire (tip to Sullivan’s Daily Dish on Bump bit)

The loser’s standing small

29 11 2012

Shocking, I know, but I did not win the Powerball.

Guess I’ll have to find another second job in January after all.


Weird wonder 16 redux: Kathryn Rathke!

14 11 2012

Hey! Remember Kathy Rathke?

Sure you do! She’s the bitchin’ graphic artist who created this, back in the day:

And other stuff!

Amazing sly talented Kathy—ahem, Kathryn, her professional name is Kathryn Rathke, and you can see her current work here—is featured in The Stranger’s Slog series of people who both voted for Obama and manage to wake before noon*:

(Who took this photo? It’s a great shot!)

*Stranger writer Goldy posted a vid of conservative crybaby Cal Thomas complaining that Obama was elected only by moochers who sleep until noon, so his colleague Dominic Holden decided to run with it.

Anyway, read what she has to say, then read the comments and see “katrat” responding to a compliment with a thank you and a pug.

Yes, a pug. She’s sly that way.

Update: kitty-boy

1 11 2011

He’s home, three of his legs are shaved below the joint (paws unshaven: legs of an off-kilter coiffed poodle), he’s eating, he’s drinking, he’s eliminating what he’s eating and drinking, and he’s fighting me when I try to give him his three medications—all good signs.

Staff at VERG-South were very nice, not snitty about my fiscal inability to keep him in the hospital any longer, and quite complimentary to Mr. Jasper.

We’re both breathing easier tonight.

Follow up: the killer president

7 10 2011

No, no reason whatsoever about the hit on al-Awlaki, or the precedent set.

Secret panel can put Americans on “kill list’

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 5, 2011 7:59pm EDT

(Reuters) – American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.

The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.

Read the whole damned disgusting thing.

KSPR post: Unexpected Neighbor

13 05 2011

Posted a few excerpts from the first chapter of my first novel, Unexpected Neighbor, at Knotted Spring Press Review.

When I finally manage to format it all for SmashWords, I’ll let y’all know.

And, hey, if you know anyone who might be interested in publicizing their work, send ’em my way. Yeah, it’s all still very beta, but why not leap and look at the same time?

Oh, yeah. . .

10 05 2011

. . . perhaps I should include the link for Knotted String Press Review (yes, changed the title already).

There’s still not much there, but I hope to put meat on those bones—or, as a vegetarian, should I say “cheese on that cracker”?—shortly.

Anyway, tell your reader and writer friends!

Announcing Knotted String Press

9 05 2011

I’ve finally done it: came up with a title for my writers’ blog.

Haven’t done much beyond that—if you go to the site, you’ll simply see the title and the generic WordPress intro post—but I am pleased finally to have started something.

As for the title itself, well, I could say that this had something to do with quipus/khipus and how the notion of digit-ized communication tickled my double-meaning fancies—I could, but that would be a lie. I mean, I like the notion of “talking knots”, but any doubling of the title’s meaning came after the fact.

No, I wanted something that could be remembered, that no one else had claimed, and that was an uncommon enough term that if someone entered “knotted string press” in a search engine I had a shot someday of appearing on a page nearer to the top than the bottom of the results.

Oh, and I wanted to have some connection to the title. I immediately thought of Black Cat Books, figuring (correctly) that that name had been snatched up, then came up with Black Coffee Books—alas, there was a Black Coffee Press (out of Detroit) already in existence, and while they’re real publishers (and KSP won’t be) I didn’t want to be an asshole and claim a name so close to theirs.

I ran through a number of other options, some of which were taken or too boring or too close to common terms or just too cumbersome, but I wasn’t coming up with anything. So I decided to open my old poetry file to see if there was some evocative-but-simple phrase I’d written that I could steal re-purpose for the new site.

There was gaspingly pure blue sky from “Sky Blue (Was My Favorite Color)”, but that was too clunky; shimmering ink also appeared in that poem, but, apparently, that has World of Warcraft connotations (no offense to gamers, but that’s not what I’m going for). I like the line ransacked of faith from “Reckonings”, but, really, that’s no title for a writer’s blog.

Then there was dislocated photograph from “Gretel, Away From Home”, but that didn’t fit. I tried to think of some sort of Gretel connection, but, nope.

I skimmed and scrolled up and down, then landed on the phrase We are a knotted string/
across the lake.

Huh. There was also this, from “Last Light On”:

Like a coarse string
                her conflicting
                passions and necessities
                pull through her –

                not cleanly, like
                scraping and ripping,
                tightly weaving
                an intricate
                bloody knot. 

And finally, my first novel was briefly named “Knots on a String”—hell, that might have been it’s original title—and in one draft I had a scene in which one character explains to another that, well, it had something to do with knots and string and it was all so very clumsy that I took it out.

Anyway, I clearly have a thing with that whole “knot” and “string” image, and “Knotted String Press” fit the other criteria, so “Knotted String Press” it is.

I think that could work.


25 04 2011

Situation preliminarily resolved.

And no, I don’t really want to blog about it, at least not now. Given the amount of time I gave over to thinking about what was a (low-level) shitty situation, I’d just as soon move on to something else.

And yes! I do have ideas! Which I’ll blog about! . . . soon.