Monday, November 20, 2017

Dear Senator Franken

I voted for you twice. I have been an ardent supporter, and I was proud of the way in which you worked to oppose President Trump's nominations, particularly Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions. I also lauded your efforts to push for thorough investigations of Russian election tampering, and to fight the Republican legislative agenda. I have called your office to thank you for all of these things.

So when Leeann Tweeden wrote her essay last week, as a constituent and genuine admirer, I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt -- you have worked hard for Minnesota, and you have championed many of the issues that are personally important to me.

I cannot, however, ignore the second set of allegations against you that were published this morning in the StarTribune. For the good of Minnesota, I think it is time for you to make arrangements to end your career in the senate.

I did not weigh in publicly before now, because I was trying to be patient, and I was experiencing so many conflicting feelings. After your eloquent and personal apology to Leeann Tweeden and her acceptance of it, I breathed a sigh of relief and I was prepared to move on. From my remote vantage point, it seemed as though Tweeden was at least open to the idea that whatever happened between the two of you was a misunderstanding.

This second story recasts all of that. The incident occurred at the State Fair - the quintessentially Minnesotan family-oriented event. It was openly discussed by the accuser at the time, and it happened when you were our sitting senator. Even though what is alleged by the second woman is not as bad as what Tweeden said happened to her, it is still terrible, and perhaps worse in its own way: it happened in a context where your conduct should have been far beyond reproach.

I am not saying this out of fear of the narrative that will be spun in some circles -- people often tell tales regardless of truth. My concern is the actual harm that you did to these women. For that, you should step down. Minnesota needs a senator who better represents the values of the progressive movement.

This is not an easy letter to write, and it is not a knee-jerk reaction -- this is my considered opinion as a voter in Minnesota. I have spent a great deal of the last four days thinking and listening to people -- especially women -- and now that I have heard a second accuser step forward, I have come to a realization: you can no longer effectively serve us, your constituents. This story will follow you wherever you go, and it will render you irrelevant at best. I shudder to contemplate the worst-case scenario.

I would rather not take a chance on a special election. But these allegations are not going to go away.

Please do the right and honorable thing. Make us proud one more time.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Monsters, Bigots, Theocrats, Lunatics, and Grifters*

Monster: Greg Abbot. "Turner 'has all the money that he needs,' [Governor Greg] Abbott said. 'In times like these, it's important to have fiscal responsibility as opposed to financial panic.' The governor went on to accuse the mayor of using Harvey recovery efforts as a 'hostage to raise taxes.'"

Bigot: Donald Trump. Enough said.

Theocrat: Ted Cruz. "Cruz's approach to politics is inseparable from this theology. His goal is to lead a Christian occupation of the culture and then wait for the Second Coming of Christ."

Lunatic: Roy Moore. "Moore has suggested that 9/11 and mass shootings are God's punishment for Americans turning away from Christianity."

Grifter: Tom Price. "The overseas trips bring the total cost to taxpayers of Price's travels to more than $1 million since May, according to a POLITICO review."

All of the above.

These are not outliers. This is the core of the Republican Party. 

*With acknowledgements and respect for the invaluable Driftglass.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Hero Nurse Defends Constitutional Rights of Unconscious Man

My mom was a nurse, so I've been thinking a lot about today's viral story about the nurse who was arrested for refusing to allow a police officer to draw blood from an unconscious patient without a warrant. In my opinion, too much focus has been placed on the shitty cop who arrested her, and not enough on her plainspoken but deep-seated heroism. She is not just my mom: she is every nurse I've had the honor to know.

We ask far too much of nurses as it is! Nurses have to be experts in the multi-disciplinary field of health care, but also in human relations, administration, data management, and technology. And now they have to be hostage negotiators and constitutional scholars to get though a shift without being arrested by some overzealous cop? Jesus.

In addition to covering for bad behavior, the fetishization of law enforcement distracts from celebrating other everyday heroes. We need to ask more from police officers. We should not ask so much from nurses. They are in the shit every day for all of us. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Game of Thrones Predictions


The Game of Thrones season finale airs tonight, and I've been thinking a lot about how they will wrap up S7 in preparation for the show's final season. Season 8 will be only 6 episodes long, which is not many, considering how much they have to resolve. Here are some fanciful thoughts about what might happen to lead into the final season... 

1. Clegane Bowl - the Hound appears to be headed for King's Landing, so this seems like a strong possibility. I hope it happens. It's pretty logical from the trailer for E7: Cersei springs a trap on Dany, Jon, & company, and the Mountain and the Hound end up fighting one another. Maybe the Mountain is vulnerable to dragon-glass. 

2. Jaime - I think he will either die or switch sides, or both. Like Clegane Bowl, switching sides could take place in the context of a big melee, and perhaps Brienne will be involved in his shift. 

3. Sansa and Arya - the events in Winterfell from the last episode didn't make any sense, unless... Arya and Sansa are actually conspiring together against Littlefinger! Arya, disguised as Sansa, kills Littlefinger. BOOM! We know that Littlefinger almost single-handedly started the War of Five Kings, but really, he can't be a central villain if no one knows who they are fighting against. The show has two main villains for S8: Cersei and The Night King. Does it really need a third? Time for him to go. 

4. The Valyrian knife - it was featured prominently this season, and I think it's time we learned who was behind the assassination attempt against Bran. Cersei? Jaime? Littlefinger? If it turns out to be Littlefinger, and he is killed, that would neatly wrap up his storyline. 

5. Jon & Dany - unfortunately, it looks like they are going to get together, unless there is some timely exposition from Bran, who has all but disappeared in the last couple episodes. 

6. The Night King - the final shot of the episode will be of the Night King riding his newly undead dragon over the army of the dead on their interminable march toward the Wall. (I think they've been walking towards it since before S1 started.)

What do you think? Do you have any predictions? 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Republicans Did This

Today's news is not really surprising. It's been clear who the Trumps are for many, many years: he and his family are unscrupulous business people willing to take any advantage, no matter how shady or underhanded or illegal, in order to come out on top or earn an extra buck.

Everyone knew this when Trump entered the presidential race.

Everyone knew this when Trump won the Republican nomination.

Everyone knew this on election day.

But Republicans stuck together. And thanks to an incredible confluence of unlikely events and the vestiges of slave power, Republicans put Trump into the White House.

Never forget: Republicans did this. They liked it. It felt good. It made them feel alive.

And America will be paying the price for decades.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dear Senator: Fight the AHCA with Everything You Got

A template for anyone inclined to write a senator to oppose the Republican "health care" bill.

Dear Senator NAME:

I am writing to ask that you object to all "Unanimous Consent" requests until such time that the AHCA is fully and openly debated, with public hearings, impact statements, industry input, expert testimony, and CBO scoring. As I see it right now, there is nothing that Republicans can offer in exchange for your consent that justifies accommodating senate business for this horrible bill. I therefore urge you to use every parliamentary tool and procedure available to you, including withholding consent, in order to stave off this disaster for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, and millions of Americans.

This is not a difference in policy in which reasonable people may disagree; if this bill is made law, people will die. They will die for a morally repulsive reason: to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. And Republicans are pursing this objective in the most cynical way possible. It is up to you to stop them.

There are 23 million people counting on you.

Thank you for your work on behalf of all Minnesotans.

With my kind regards,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keep Calm and Carry On

When Barack Obama was president, one of the most amusing manifestations of cognitive dissonance in his critics was that they cast him simultaneously as both a bungling incompetent and a cunning, manipulative mastermind. But now I see partisans on the left giving Donald Trump similar treatment.

Don't fall for it!

What's happening is not complicated. Simply apply Occam's Razor (or perhaps Trump's Razor): Trump is a greedy, racist con-man with no interest in or aptitude for government or policy, except insofar as they can serve his pride and avarice. No one expected him to win, but due to the quirks of our system (and a massive assist from the FBI and the media), he did. And now he is bungling through, doing awful but contradictory things on behalf of his various advisers and constituents.

Yes, he has some true villains in his coalition, and they have been emboldened by his victory. And this will have real and horrific consequences for far too many people. Meanwhile, supposedly decent Congressional Republicans appear to be ignoring his aggressive yet fumbling attempts to take executive action. But there is a simple explanation for this as well: Trump is useful to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, not the other way around. They tolerate him because they need him to sign tax cut legislation and remove financial and environmental regulations. If Trump is unpopular, that focuses more attention on their activities too. This they do not want, because their policy goals are very unpopular. McConnell, Ryan, and other Republicans will distance themselves from Trump the moment it is clear that his unpopularity threatens their goals.

So keep fighting, because it is working. But keep calm and carry on. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Forever Fighting The Fight

Remember when we fought British Aristocracy?

Remember when we fought Confederate Slave Power?

Remember when we fought German Nazis?

Remember when we fought Russian Totalitarianism?

None of these villains were completely defeated. Though they may take different forms, now we are fighting all at once.

Maybe total victory against these regressive forces is impossible. Either way, the fight is a marathon, not a sprint.

Gear up.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ten Years

Maybe writing this blog will make me a better writer. Or maybe this space will become just another bit of litter on the garbage-laden information stupor highway. --Knight of Nothing, January 2007
Ten years ago this week, I hung out my shingle in the blogosphere, and the result lies somewhere between these two predictions. I've split the difference!

Here are the top ten posts as of 1/4/2017, by traffic:

The (Losing) Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage
Sep 5, 2012; 40 comments; 5348 page views

Far and away the most popular post I ever wrote, this essay was posted on social media and subsequently widely shared and discussed. It was the closest I ever came to going viral. Still pretty proud of this post and what it represents. Hoping to prevent any backsliding now in 2017, and I'll be working to prevent it in the coming year.

Katniss Everdeen: Feminist Icon, or Yet Another Sexist Stereotype?
Nov 22, 2013; no comments; 1706 page views

A quote post. Most of the traffic for this piece is probably due to hot keywords ("Katniss" & "feminism") and a contrarian point of view.

Somewhere In My Soul There's Always Rock And Roll
May 14, 2007; 4 comments; 1300 page views

A snapshot of what was in rotation on my CD player in the Spring of 2007.

From The "Monkey Grabs Woman's Breast" Dept.
Jan 6, 2009; 1 comment; 775 page views

Here we see evidence that lowbrow humor is apparently popular on the internet. Who knew? Fun fact: after "knight of nothing," the top keyword search used to find my blog is "monkey grabs boob." I wish this wasn't in the top ten, but oh well.

Catholics and Gay Marriage
Jul 17, 2012; 10 comments; 748 page views

Another serious post from 2012. In some ways, this essay is better than my more popular post on the subject: it is more focused and personal.

'300' Minus 299
Nov 19, 2007; 7 comments; 698 page views

By the time I wrote this movie review, I was mostly going for humor. Early on, though, I entertained the possibility of evolving into a film reviewer. And why not? Blogging seemed so easy in that first year: after only two months of writing this blog, I was actually contacted by a marketing person from one of the films I reviewed. I thought I might just hit the big time as a writer. Ha ha! Oh, to be so young as that again. (P.S., I liked that film, but the review is a poorly written mess.)

Goodbye, Little Friend
Nov 7, 2013; 9 comments; 505 page views

A post about my love/hate relationship with my dog, who was hit by a car.

Hillary Clinton Is Trustworthy
Jul 26, 2016; no comments; 448 page views

A link post. Wish it had made a bigger impression in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

10,000 Burpees: Day One
Apr 1, 2011; 6 comments; 344 page views

Nuff said.

The Myth of the Self-Made Man, Debunked Again
Oct 21, 2013; 5 comments; 325 page views

Remember when Ted Cruz was everywhere in 2013? God, that guy was insufferable, and it turns out that the apple didn't fall far from the tree, because his dad is just as bad. It is small comfort that he's now on bended knee to President-elect Trump.


I was going to dig through the archives to round up a few of my favorite posts, but I'll save that for another day.