The Second Time Around

We have been here before, of course. We have been here many times in the past year, and the story always involves power, and the lengths to which people will go to achieve and sustain it.

And if that were the entire story, we could understand it, the corruption of the individual, the stuff of novels and movies. But the real story is never about one person; it is always about the infrastructure of power, the aiders and abettors, people whose silence can be bought, people whose fear keeps them silent, people whose own power depends on staying in line.

This is how you get rape apologists.

This is also how you get traitors.

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Mr. Justice Rapist

Here is what we know: While in high school, Brett Kavanaugh, who is now 53, got into trouble.

He was at a party in Maryland. He pushed a young woman into a bedroom. He was joined by another young man. They locked the door from the inside. They cranked up the stereo so her screams could not be heard.

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The Silent Resistance

Much attention has been paid to the defiant op-ed in the New York Times, as is inevitable, as are the suspicions surrounding it.

On the surface, it reads as an heroic account by an anonymous insider to protect America from Donald Trump, maybe even to protect him from himself. Actions are taken to “insulate” the business of government from his whims. Without those actions, the worst we have feared would have come to pass.

The immediate, obvious suspicion is who wrote it. Because it was published in the Times, and because we trust the Times’ professional standards, if not their editorial judgment, we accept the claim of “senior official” as offered — we trust that they’re not inflating an intern, or just writing it themselves. We don’t know how senior, we don’t know how high up the food chain the writer grazes, but we presume it’s high enough to matter.

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Making America Safe for Democracy

It must have been during one of those invasions that America is so fond of that we first started hearing about it. Sure, we can rain hell and topple a government, but what next? A country needs more than a dictated instruction manual — it needs people to run the joint, and citizens to fill their roles. A nation needs a civil society.

You know, like ours.

That was the point: A constitution is just a piece of paper, as are laws. America is Americans, and we show the world how it’s done. We’ve had more than two centuries of practice, after all. We’re not just a democracy, we live by democratic norms.

At least, we used to. Or thought we did.

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Saint John

The facts of John McCain’s life are not hidden. From his return from Vietnam to his death last Saturday, John McCain was a public man. Nor are those facts inconsistent. McCain’s life had a trajectory, as all ours do, but there are no sudden turns, no Great Awakenings. The man who died was the man who had lived. We knew him. He was familiar.

Yet the moment of his death has, at least for the moment, defined his life. Had he died two years ago, before the current President was chosen by the Electoral College, or had he died three years hence, after the current President was run out of the country by an angry mob, his life would have been evaluated much differently. John McCain’s life would have been evaluated for what it was, not what people wanted it to be.

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Walnuts, 1936-2018

Mavericky McCain was a complicated dude. I’ll never forgive him for uncorking the genie of Talibunny and the Teabaggers, nor for him not doing more to stand up to Twitler. But dude had his moments.

WaPo Obit

Chronicle of Our Death Forestalled

Our story — this one, anyway — begins during that fateful spring of 2010. We, like the rest of the country, were watching the sausage that was the Affordable Care Act being made. The bill, as it had evolved, was not the one we had preferred — can you say Public Option? — but after the compromises that had preceded its introduction, and the politics that had attended its debate, we threw up our hands and were ready to accept a half-measure instead of no measure at all.

Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

So the bill passed, and upon its implementation, we bought health insurance — for the first time in twenty years. This was even more of a novelty than it sounds. For most of our adult life, as a grad student and a freelancer, we’ve gone without. The secret, we learned, was never to get sick.

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