Archive for February, 2010

The Thinker

Psychiatrists agree: Republicans are insane

A year ago, I wrote that Republicans were putting the “bye” in bipartisanship. A commenter told me I was being premature because President Obama had only been in office a month. A year later, I bet the same commenter would now agree with me. You cannot have bipartisanship unless both parties can come together on a preponderance of disparate issues. When one side refuses to play ball, well that is clearly not bipartisanship.

Watching the “bipartisan” health care reform meeting on Thursday at Blair House was an exercise in mental torture. Even the Supreme Court would have to agree that no Gitmo inmate should be forced to listen to all eight hours or so of this “dialogue”. Watching it was kind of like hitting your head repeatedly against a brick wall. Not that President Obama did not try to lead out Republicans or ask them pragmatic and civil follow up questions. It’s just that Republicans did not have a whole lot of viable suggestions. The script was very shopworn even before the first Republican opened his mouth: start from scratch on a new health care reform bill. The only aspects of health care reform they seem willing to agree to are malpractice reform (which would affect less than one percent of health care spending) and allowing citizens in one state to get health insurance from other states. Everything else: forget about it! Cover the uninsured? Not interested. Seriously reduce the number of uninsured Americans? Not interested. As business reporter Steven Pearlstein pointed out recently in The Washington Post, based on the “discussion” at the Blair House, Republicans don’t give a crap about those too poor to have health insurance and certainly don’t want one dime of taxpayer money spent on the uninsured. In their ideal world, the uninsured would not get into the emergency room until they first brought a statement from their bank that they are credit worthy.

One of the definitions of insanity is to not learn from the same mistake. By this measure, Republicans (and this includes Conservatives and Tea Baggers) are insane. We usually deal with the insane by getting them psychotherapy or, if a menace to others, putting them in a rubber room. A clinical case could be made that the vast majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill should be in a rubber room. Because although we have tried massive tax cuts for the wealthy not once but twice and the result has been to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, Republicans are still convinced that all we need are yet more tax cuts affecting primarily the wealthy to change the situation around. In short, they are insane.

Republicans are insane on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. Most of them deny that climate change is happening and many of them also want to abolish the EPA. This could revert the United States back to the 1960s when we had no environmental laws and polluters could pollute without restraint. They want to reduce fuel efficiency standards for cars. They actually think we can solve our dependence on foreign oil by drilling off our coastlines. The effect will of course make us more dependent on foreign oil, which will come principally from overseas and at higher and higher prices by not weaning ourselves off oil. It is just insane!

Perhaps most insane of all is that Republicans have this dichotomy about wanting to take a meat cleaver to reduce the size of government then, when asked, find it hard to find something to cut. Take a look at this 2008 American National Election Survey where self identified conservatives try to find things they would cut in federal spending. The number one thing that conservatives would like to cut is foreign aid, which accounts for less than 1 percent of our budget. Even there conservatives could not muster a majority (only 49%). Well, that certainly won’t solve the budget deficit! The next thing they most want to abolish are welfare programs. This is essentially Medicaid and food stamps, but even here, only 35% of conservatives want to do this. Presumably, 65% do not. About twenty percent want to cut funding for the war on terrorism. I assume this is the Ron Paul wing. It is clear from the chart that while tax cuts are always in season, if they were back in charge cutting the size of government would be mostly lip service, as it was under Reagan and two Bush presidencies.

But of course now these same people are in a froth because we are doing all this deficit spending. Moreover, they are deeply upset at President Obama for deficit spending money on tangible goods that we need like new bridges and road surfaces which also help to get us out of a bad recession. They prefer tax cuts and fairy dust instead. (Actually, Obama accommodated Republicans and added plenty of tax cuts in his stimulus package, including tax cuts for small business, and they are still upset.) They are telling us the government should live within its means, even during a severe economic recession. Yet, it is clear that if they were back in charge, the first thing they would do is cut taxes some more, and thereby exacerbate the budget deficit!

So why do Americans keep putting these bozos back in power? It must be because the majority of us are even dumber than Republicans, or as a nation, we suffer from ADD and cannot even remember all the debt we piled up under the last administration. Actually though the polls do not give as much comfort to Republicans as they might hope for. Americans are pissed off that divided government means that things like health care reform are not being accomplished. (By the way, Americans still strongly support health care reform, including a public option.) What is driving voters insane is the inability of politicians to find common ground at a time when it is essential. They are paying the price in house foreclosures, rising health care costs and unemployment. As much as they dislike the way Democrats are using their majorities, they like Republicans even less. Voters have a lot of visceral anger but little way to express it. Moreover, who could blame them? Obama promised change you can believe in, but a progressive president cannot necessarily turn around a deeply partisan and recalcitrant Congress. This was borne out on Thursday at the Blair House.

One thing is clear: you won’t get bipartisanship by electing Republicans. If voters want to end gridlock by voting for Republicans, they might end up breaking the gridlock but it is unlikely they will get real solutions to the problems they care about. Put Republicans back in power and for sure, you can count on more tax cuts for the privileged. You can also count on deficits that will make today’s look small. Voters would be insane to do so. Unfortunately, when you are really, really angry you are not usually thinking clearly in the first place. You are letting your emotions take control of your faculties, instead of using your brain.

If voters want bipartisanship then they have to vote for people who are running on the platform of being bipartisan. These candidates should have a track record of moderation and crossing the aisle. You certainly won’t find that in a tea bagger! Unfortunately, you are unlikely to find any such a creature nominated by the Republican Party this time around, and the odds are not much better for the Democratic Party either. With the exception of the lunatic left wing though, you can at least rest assured that the Democrats running will at least be sane. At least we have one foot firmly in reality.

 
The Thinker

So bad, it’s good … and mesmerizing

YouTube: a treasure trove of the good, the bad, the indifferent, the mediocre and the ugly. Actually, I rarely visit the place. The few videos I do watch on YouTube come as recommendations. This one appeared in my wife’s LiveJournal, posted by a friend of hers. I happened to peer over her shoulder and asked her, “What the heck is that?

If like me you don’t understand Russian, you end up going to Google Translate to figure out the title of the video, which is “I am very glad, because I’m finally back home”. If I had to guess the title it would be, “I ingested ten times more Prozac than the doctor allowed.”

I mean, wow! For me, not even The Wedding Dance video can come close to this 2:41 little gem from what appears to be the glorious era of the Soviet Union. I am guessing it was made sometime in the 1970s when the Cold War was still grinding on and Comrade Brezhnev was in charge. It just reeks of plasticity and phoniness, yet it is somehow kind of compelling. I dare you to stop watching it in the middle.

The “singer” here is apparently a Russian named Eduard Hill. Hill is apparently obscure enough in America not even to merit a Wikipedia page, but he does have a Facebook fan page. It was weird enough that even Huffington Post picked it up. A check of Google did not reveal much about the guy. Eduard Hill, whose real name is apparently Eduard Anatolyevich, is still around, apparently living in Saint Petersburg. You can see an updated picture of him here. From what little I can find of the guy on the web, he apparently does not sing. Rather he mimes. This is obvious from watching the video. He could have used more rehearsal because his lip syncing is poor, to say the least.

Still, Hill is mesmerizing. Is he alive? Are there little puppet strings coming down from the rafters directing him when to smile? He looks all botoxed around the eyes. His smile looks like a doll maker stitched it onto his face. Then there is that goofy gate as he saunters onto the stage, not to mention the very cheesy visual effects. Apparently, he is glad to be home, which for most Russians back in the 1970s probably meant a gray cinderblock apartment complex. I guess the proper way to return home after a long trip is to dress in suit and tie.

As for the music, I have no idea who actually sings it, but it too is hypnotic and catchy like a TV commercial jingle. You may find yourself humming it in the car. Lyrics? You don’t need to know Russian, such much of it is “La la la, la la la, la la la la la.” Then there is the staging, such as it is. Where did they get that weird iron latticework? Moreover, why are there only three colors: brown, beige and yellow? Who is he waving to? His neighbors? If my neighbor were greeting me like this, I would be running to get a gun.

In short, this is exactly the sort of weird officially sponsored “entertainment” you would expect from the world’s biggest communist state back in the 1970s. While Hill looks plastic, some tiny part of him looks like he is having a root canal or a high colonic. It’s like someone has a pitch fork to his ass and that’s the only reason he’s smiling.

Whatever this is, it’s a gem. YouTube had best never delete it. It deserves its own weird immortality.

Update 3/12/2010

Since this video was YouTubed, it has generated a lot of interest (as well as a lot of hits on my blog). I have also learned a few things about Mr. Hill. In fact, he does sing the song. In this case though he is lip syncing his own music and does a very poor job of it. I also found this “peppier” version on YouTube done in front of a live orchestra that you can enjoy. This one suggests the original video was made around 1984, still definitely in the Cold War period. This one is almost good, perhaps because it lacks the slower pace and the very odd staging. Moreover, Hill looks like he is having a little fun with it. Enjoy.

 
The Thinker

Citizens are united against Citizens United

Trying to find bipartisanship these days on any political issue is virtually impossible. So when I see a poll where there is strong agreement between Democrats, Republicans and Independents, I take note. What do eighty percent of very polarized Americans agree on? They agree the recent Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission sucks. Moreover, Americans are as mad as hell with the decision. In the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court said that corporations and unions could spend as much as they wanted on political campaigns, overturning long-standing regulations that limited this spending for individual candidates within a few months of an election. According to The Washington Post poll, eighty five percent of Democrats disagree with the Supreme Court, as well as 76 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Independents.

The only ones who seem to disagree, not surprisingly, are congressional Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans to oppose any legislation that would attempt to blunt the impact of this ruling. Americans of all stripes though understand what is really going on. Just like in George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others. With this Supreme Court decision, it’s official.

Most Americans understand what happens when one group of well moneyed interests can outspend and out organize us ordinary citizens. The result is clear in Congress: a strong resistance to change in any form and a tendency to serve the interests of those with the money. Nowhere was this more evident than in the recent health care debate. By throwing hundreds of millions of dollars into lobbying efforts, the health care industry gummed up process rather effectively. Clearly, the status quo works fine for the health care industry, as evidenced by record health insurance company profits and exploding health care costs in general. How does it work for the rest of us who aren’t self financed multimillionaires like Rush Limbaugh? Not so well, as evidenced by outrages like 39% premium increases on some Anthem Blue Cross plans in California and the growing percentage of Americans who simply cannot afford health insurance.

Health care reform is the issue of the day but the same can be said about most of the problems that Americans care about that are affecting this country. If we were happy with the status quo, there wouldn’t be historically high levels of unhappiness with Congress in the polls. However, it’s not easy to throw the bums out and elect new bums, particularly now that the Supreme Court has given the green light to corporations and unions to spend as much as they want to elect their preferred candidates. All this does it raise the bar even higher for those of us who have less money to convince our fellow voters to vote for this other guy (or gal). And we happen to be actual breathing U.S. citizens.

Of course it also doesn’t help that most states carefully draw congressional districts to ensure they are either highly Republican or highly Democratic (generally, depending on the party in power at the time the district boundaries are drawn). The effect of this practice is to disenfranchise anyone who is not among the highly partisan wing of the predominant party of their congressional district. It also inflames partisanship in Congress and creates very safe districts for incumbents. Once elected, these incumbents can create large war chests that discourage challengers. Even with a challenger, their war chests allow them to dominate the media prior to Election Day. Not that they have to worry much about losing anyhow because their districts are specifically drawn to make it likely they will be reelected.

The effect of this policy is to reduce the influence of ordinary citizens for those who have influence money. Republicans in Democratic districts feel disenfranchised, as do Democrats in Republican districts. My congressman is Frank Wolf, who first won election to Congress in 1980. That means he has spent thirty years in Congress. Part of his district is in Fairfax County, Virginia where I live, which is principally Democratic. A much larger part of it is in safe Republican counties like Loudoun, Fauquier and Prince William. It seems likely that when Virginia redraws congressional boundaries after the census, his district will somehow manage to remain predominantly Republican. Frankly, Congressman Wolf is more likely to die in office than retire from it.

Who is funding his campaign? According to OpenSecrets.org, it’s a lot of the usual suspects. In the 2008 elections, organizations representing retirees gave him the most (about $180,000), so don’t expect him to be voting to cut Medicare or Social Security just because both are tending toward insolvency. Next were real estate ($171,000), lawyers ($99,000), Republicans and fellow conservatives ($65,000) and various Israeli lobbies ($48,000). As for the health care industry, they came in at sixth at $48,000. Needless to say, he voted against the health care reform bill in Congress.

The effect of all this extreme gerrymandering is to end up with a congress that is more deeply polarized than it would be if congressional districts were drawn up impartially. At the same time, because they are fed by well moneyed special interests, we get a Congress that is resistant to change. This is turn means that current problems like deficit spending and entitlement reform are less likely to be solved, thus making problems that much more chronic. This ultimately is what is bankrupting the country, not Bush tax cuts or prolific spending on social welfare programs.

Really, even Glenn Beck and Arianna Huffington should be able to find common ground here. Last week at the odious CPAC convention in Washington, Glenn Beck was railing about the need to elect true Conservatives instead of Republicans. Arianna Huffington is one of many liberals, like me, feeling disenfranchised by supposed “Democrats” in Congress. Beck is frustrated because he cannot get rid of the welfare state. Why? Because Republicans will ultimately do the bidding of those who give them money. There are plenty of Republicans, like Congressman Wolf, who take heaps of money from senior citizens lobbies, so don’t expect him to vote to kill Medicare. Huffington meanwhile is in a huff because Democrats like North Dakota Senator Ben Nelson vote for the interests of Blue Cross instead of supporting a public option health care plan. Why? It is because Nelson gets a ton of money from the health insurance industry. Yet it’s not only the extremes that are upset, but also those in the middle whose interests are also not being served. That’s why hardly anyone is happy with the status quo. That’s why eighty percent of Americans are irate about the Citizens United decision while also realizing it is just more evidence of who really is running the country. It sure is not the people! Conservatives and liberals should come together to kill off corporate lobbying simply so they can actually advance their agendas!

It’s the system that is providing disincentives to pragmatically solve current problems. Congress gives highest priority to those who give them the most money. Otherwise, partisanship triumphs. For those few issues that are non-partisan and which there is no vested industry with their hand in the public till, we may get bipartisanship. Consequently, the two biggest things we can do to end our national dysfunction become easy to identify.

First, and probably the hardest thing to get Congress to do, is to change the process by which Congressional districts are drawn. We have an opportunity because the 2010 census is underway. A law that required states to have an impartial commission or judges draw up congressional districts would make it possible for more moderates to be elected. Moderates tend toward being pragmatic rather than idealistic. This would have the tendency to better balance Congress so that bipartisanship is more likely.

Secondly, the power of corporations and unions to influence elections must be checked. At the Washington Post poll demonstrates, there is overwhelming support for restricting the amount of money that these institutions can contribute. Congress could probably succeed in passing a law reforming the most egregious abuses, but this is one of those cases where a constitutional amendment really is needed to settle the issue of corporate “personhood” once and for all. Nowhere in our founding documents does it say that corporations are entitled to the same rights of citizens. This was due to an earlier Supreme Court interpretation that it has now effectively codified to mean without any restraints. If an amendment could pass Congress (a tough hurdle), it is likely to be easily ratified by the various states.

If these two systemic problems could be addressed, we might actually get a government representative of its people again. Consequently, government would be more likely to do the bidding of a majority of its citizens. We might as a result still find ourselves polarized, but it won’t be because of special interests or gerrymandering. Whether America swings to the left or the right as a result is really not as important as restoring a fully representative democracy. The truth is that these days our republican form of government is at best 30-50 percent representative of the people.

 
The Thinker

Out and Equal and I’m confused

A couple weeks back I received some LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) diversity training. Frankly, I figured the seminar would be a skate. While I am your typical heterosexual white male, it’s not like I have not known people in the LGBT community. As a Unitarian Universalist, I have also helped our church become a welcoming congregation for LGBTs. I was even Standing on the Side of Love at their annual assembly in Salt Lake City last year. Still, I was not quite prepared when I walked into the classroom, and left more than a little confused.

That’s probably partly by design, and partly because I have some trouble when an issue has too many permutations. Two instructors showed up from Out and Equal, a San Francisco based non-profit that is helping integrate the LGBT community into the workplace. Of course, the LGBT community has always been in the workplace. For the most part, they stayed silent about their natures at work. During the last couple of decades, more from the community have come out at work. In San Francisco, you expect LGBT to be out in the workplace. In other parts of the country, like many places in the Deep South, if you know what is good for you, you remain closeted at work, and maybe in your community as well. In Washington, D.C., being LGBT not that big a deal, as like most major cities we have a rather large LGBT community. For the most part the LGBT community just blends in. In general, there is an unofficial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the workplace. You disclose as much about your personal life as you feel comfortable disclosing. However, it is also perfectly okay to come to work, do your job, act pleasantly and then go home with your colleagues not much the wiser. Miss Manners does not approve of prying questions anyhow. So we generally don’t pry.

One of the instructors was a fifty something lesbian dressed as a man, right down to the blue suit and pinstripe tie. I first mistook her for a man until I heard the pitch of her voice. She spent most of her career in the military, but left the day the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy went into affect. She was eligible to retire anyhow, but said she could not live with an official policy where she had to remain closeted. The gentleman was much younger, gay and frankly gorgeous. He was skinner than Fabio but otherwise looked a lot like him, but with long dark locks mixed with blond streaks that flowed down his back.

Men dress up for work all the time, however, most of us just dress for success, which means that while we may look good in a suit, we are indistinguishable. When we get home, we revert to blue jeans. This man was as beautiful and any woman I’ve ever seen exiting out of a beauty salon. Frankly, he had me a bit mesmerized. Obviously, I need to get out more because I had no idea my sex could look so good. By the end of the day, I realized what my problem was: I found him attractive. I had no desire to put the moves on him nor I could not imagine myself intimate with him but the same is true with the many attractive women I run into everyday as well. I realized I found him attractive because he took exquisite pride in how he looked and in many ways, this made him seem effeminate to me, and this was the source of my attraction. Finding a man attractive has happened to me before, but only rarely, and generally about every five years or so. Generally, I don’t see my fellow men. I know them as people, but I don’t see them the way heterosexual women do. During the seminar, we were encouraged to challenge our assumptions, and I must say I was challenged.

I have always said I was heterosexual, yet few of us who call ourselves heterosexuals really are entirely heterosexual. Whether we wish to acknowledge it our not, we fall somewhere between the extremes of heterosexuality and homosexuality. Most of us tilt rather markedly toward one side or the other but at the same time, many of us have had homosexual experiences, generally when we were younger. Many like me assume we are completely heterosexual because even if occasionally we do find a man attractive, we don’t act on it.

From the seminar, I learned there is much more to someone from the LGBT community than just their sexual orientation. There are in fact at least four aspects to sexuality to consider about any person. The first aspect is our birth sex, which is straightforward enough. However, there are exceptional cases where someone is born with both obvious male and female genitalia. The second aspect is our sexual orientation, or the sex to which we are attracted. For most of us straights, this is all we think about when we consider someone from the LGBT community. The third is the gender we identify with. A transgender person, for example, has a conflict between their birth sex and the gender they feel inside. For example, if they have male genitalia, they may find it disgusting and unnatural. This often leads to stress because they are inhabiting the wrong kind of body. Lastly, there is the aspect of gender expression, or how someone chooses to express their sexuality. Transvestites, for example Eddie Izzard, like to dress in the clothing of the opposite sex, even while most remain extremely heterosexual. If you think about it, this means that a person might fit into any one of 24 possible categories. Moreover, categories are simply conveniences for us to try to organize aspects of someone in our own mind. A person’s actual sexuality includes all sorts of other possible variants.

By the end of the class my head was spinning. For example, I could be a biological man who so strongly feels I am a woman to the point that I might consider sex change surgery and hormone replacement therapy to look like a woman. Yet, even though I feel inside like a woman, even after all that surgery to make me a woman, I might prefer to dress like a man. Moreover, I might prefer men to women, which suggests I am not homosexual, but a heterosexual woman in a man’s body who prefers a “butch” look. Most would label this person as a homosexual simply because they are attracted to men and be done with it. We were asked to ponder how we would make the workplace an accommodating and friendly environment for people like this so they don’t have the stress of living a closeted identity. Indeed, they will probably be most productive in a work environment where they can truly be out and equal. Before taking the seminar, this all was so less confusing. Of course, I just chose to remain largely ignorant of the many variations of humanity out there.

As confusing as the LGBT world is, it is relatively straightforward stuff, compared it with the kinks many of us straights have but choose to keep in the closet. Since my wife has many friends from the LGBT community and well the kink community, about a decade back I purchased the book Come Hither, A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex by Dr. Gloria G. Grame. It sits next to my bed. I am a reasonably sexually curious person, but curiously in the nearly ten years, I have owned the book, I still have not finished it, although I genuinely mean to finish it. Frankly, I find the numbing variations of kink too confusing to fully get my mind around. Although I’ve gone through the definitions many times, I still cannot quite get the difference between a “top” and a dominant, and submissive and a “bottom”. To my wife it all makes complete sense and is intuitive, but to me it is a confusing muddle. Moreover, power play is just one aspect of the whole world of kink that seems to me to be an endlessly confusing hall of mirrors.

So I figure that if once every five years or so I run across a guy that I find attractive, then overall I must be a very vanilla heterosexual. Because of the seminar, I certainly will be more respectful of those in the LGBT community and mindful of the diversity inside it. In fact, I may be less “don’t ask, don’t tell” than I am now, simply because I don’t want them to feel they have to shutter some part of their life when they come to work.

Frankly, I don’t care if someone at work is or is not part of the LGBT community. If they want to have a picture of their same sex spouse in their office, that’s fine with me. I am glad to hear about their weekend activities with their lover or same sex spouse. I hope they would voluntarily open their lives to my gentle inquiries, because so much of their world still confuses me. My philosophy is people are just people, and these sort of variations should not matter at all as long as in the workplace there is no harassment. Which of the 24 squares a person falls into perhaps helps in understanding where they are coming from and how to manage them. I hope that I can set a standard with my employees that these variations do not matter and we should welcome anyone in the LGBT community we happen to work with for the complex person they happen to be.

I hope I will eventually understand all these permutations. Right now, I just wish my head would stop spinning. Once again, my black and white world seems to be mixed with too many colors to wholly comprehend.

 
The Thinker

Civil marriage is still a civil right

Perhaps to really appreciate Valentine’s Day, you have to be single or divorced. When you are an old married dude like me, Valentine’s Day has a perfunctory feel to it. Of course, I get my wife a card, some chocolate and sometimes even some flowers. She does likewise. It should be a special day since after all it is a day that celebrates romantic love. Perhaps we could find ways to make the day more special. For us the truth is that we love each other the same every day of the year, so there is not much point in making a fuss over Valentine’s Day, beyond what is expected.

Absence does make my heart grow fonder. There are times when I feel if we really wanted to rekindle the old flame, we should spend a month apart. A week apart, which happens a couple times a year when I am off on business travel, definitely makes me miss my wife. I miss her as well as all those comfortable, somewhat nebbish things we do both together and apart, like sit three feet from each other while she inhabits one computer and I another but largely never speak. I imagine to feel so distracted that I craved her most of the time would take about a month. I really don’t know because in nearly a quarter century of marriage, we have not been apart for more than two weeks at a time.

Passionate love is designed to be fleeting. It tends to get more passionate with increased separation, up to a point. If your hormones remained as high as they are during the passionate love phase, you would live happy but die young. This is why many of us crave a lower intensity kind of love that amounts to the comfort and routine of being married. After a while, you take it for granted simply because it is so always available. We have someone to come home to. He or she may not be perfect, but neither are we. This low-key love that most of the time is pleasant rather than passionate seems to be the key for many to low blood pressure, health and long life.

Some of us would like this pleasant kind of love but haven’t found the right person yet. Others of us may have found the right person but cannot get married. The person they love inconveniently has the same sex as they do. Except in a handful of states they are out of luck. Perhaps they can live with their love, but they cannot do anything to make their relationship legal.

I do not know exactly how things would be between my wife and I right now had we decided to live with each other the last quarter century instead of tying the knot. I do know they would be a lot different. Would we have ever had a child? These days there is a lot less stigma associated with having a child out of wedlock but childrearing is so much less complicated when you are married. Our daughter could fall under my insurance. My wife of course would not be my wife, unless you count her as a common law wife, so she would have to fend for herself in the health insurance market. Frankly, I doubt we would still be together. We both wanted to settle down. Inhabiting a house together was nice, but until we were tied together legally, it didn’t feel quite right. Marriage was important because it meant we were an established and committed couple and could plan a future together in a straightforward and structured way.

It baffles me, particularly with the passing of each Valentine’s Day, why gays and lesbians cannot enjoy the simple right to a civil marriage. I could enumerate the many reason why denying civil marriage is so counterproductive to our society. However, the Reverend Evan Keely, an interim minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church I attend pretty much said it all in his succinct sermon Forty-Seven Theses that he delivered appropriately on Valentine’s Day Sunday. In addition, I have talked extensively about this injustice before.

Today, I simply want to say to my gay and lesbian brethren just how sorry I am that they were born into a society where they still cannot know the everyday pleasure of waking up with and interacting with a spouse. I never have to worry that my wife will be denied hospital visitation privileges, or that someone I trust can direct our financial affairs when I am unable to do so. I don’t have to worry about finding someone to accompany me to the hospital for outpatient surgery or to drive me home afterward. It comes implicitly with marriage. Having a spouse makes life so much less complicated in so many ways, while of course it introduces relational complexities as well. It is not fair, but I am fully vested in society and you, unless you live in a state that allows gay marriage, are not. Even if you happen to live in a progressive state like Massachusetts, in the eyes of the federal government you are still not married, and are treated as such.

Rest assured that this will change. In time, this injustice will be rectified and you will be treated as equally as the rest of us who happen to have been born with heterosexual orientations. I will not rest until you too can enjoy the right to live pleasantly (but not always with burning passion) with the blessing of civil society with the person you love.

 
The Thinker

Global warming morons

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) lampooned, “It’s going to keep snowing in D.C. until Al Gore cries ‘uncle’.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), observing the record snowfall in the Washington D.C. area wonders where Al Gore was to defend his thesis on global warming against this outrageous assault by winter. Global climate warming skeptic Jim Inhofe (R-OK) had his kids build an igloo for Al Gore on Capitol Hill and posted photos of it in Facebook.

Meanwhile, over at the Fox “News” network, Fox used the occasion of the record snowfall to also castigate Gore and those scientists documenting the unfolding global warming disaster. Naturally, some of the news that Fox “News” did not choose to air was the unnatural lack of snow in Vancouver where the Winter Olympics are underway and where the snow and refrigeration is largely manmade. Nor did they cover the lack of seasonal snow in places like Vermont, which is usually hip deep in the stuff this time of the year but has settled for ice. Nor are they devoting much airtime to the rains and subsequent mudslides in Southern California, which are exceptionally strong this year.

Back when I was studying communications in college, I learned about the phenomenon of selective perception. Most of us go through life with blinders on, perceiving what we choose to perceive and ignoring or dismissing evidence that doesn’t match our view of the world. This seems to be a reflexive human trait. Sometimes selective perception can get in our way. George Washington, our first president, essentially bled to death at the hands of his physician. At the time, bleeding someone who was ill was considered good medicine. No one was studying whether this practice was stupid or smart, but it was the conventional wisdom, such as it was. Eventually enough research was done and the practice was stopped when it was deemed counterproductive.

In the real world, we hire scientists and researchers to tell us fact from fiction because we need to infer knowledge based on evidence, not fantasy. Unfortunately, to be elected to Congress you do not have to have accreditation as a scientist or researcher, although a law degree helps. An educated American would look at the Jim Inhofes and Glenn Becks of the world and know their opinions on these matters are ill informed. Instead, particularly when it came to topics like global warming, we should be listening to people like Jane Lubchenco. You probably have no idea who Jane Lubchenco is, which is a shame. She is the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as a professional scientist with sterling credentials. Prior to her nomination by President Obama, she had an illustrious career and received a number of notable awards including the 8th Heinz Award in the environment in 2002. Lubchenco has not abandoned her position on the reality of global warming because of one snowstorm in the D.C. area. She would be a moron to do so.

Could it be possible that Fox News is just a wee bit biased on the whole global warming question? Could it possibly be that they are far more interested in returning Republicans to political power at any cost than they are in learning the true about global warming as a result of human activity? As if I needed more proof, this reality was driven home to me yesterday at the health club where I happened to watch Bill O’Reilly on Fox “News” redefine the term socialism. Before, it has always meant that the government controlled the means of production. In O’Reilly’s weird world, socialism is anything the government does to shift wealth from one class of Americans to another class of Americans. Clearly, O’Reilly was asleep during the lectures on socialism when he was in school. Communism attempts to make everyone live at the same socioeconomic level, not socialism. Such ignorance is appalling, particularly when the whole point of government is to redistribute wealth. If it didn’t redistribute wealth, there would be no roads, no public schools, no bridges, no military, no regulated airwaves, no assurance that our drugs would be reasonably safe, ad nauseum. If it didn’t redistribute wealth, there would be no food stamp program, which due to the bad economy now feeds one in eight Americans. These fellow Americans would be starving, but that apparently is okay in O’Reilly’s world. (O’Reilly does seem to be okay with redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich, which has been underway for years.)

In short, the people who are spouting such opinions are either delusional, have an agenda or both. If they really believe that thirty something inches of snowfall on the Washington region means there is no global warming, then they are really morons who cannot see two inches beyond their own nose. Rather than taking them seriously, the media should be laughing them off for being such fools. Meanwhile, glaciers keep melting, the Arctic sea ice recedes to lowest levels ever, mountains of evidence shows winter snow melts beginning earlier every year, tiny Pacific countries are in imminent danger of disappearing due to rising sea levels, and devastating droughts are happening both here in the United States and elsewhere. Climatologists have overwhelming evidence that these are a direct result of shifting climate patterns due to global warming.

The last time I had the flu back in 2005, I remember regularly monitoring my temperature. For much of it I had a temperature in the 102 to 103 degree range. There were other times that I took my temperature and it was normal. Then it would go back up again. The moment it reached 98.6 did I no longer have the flu? My experience suggested this was the wrong inference to draw. The same is true with large snowstorms. One large snowstorm does nothing to disprove global warming. Scientists record temperatures across the globe, look at available evidence, measure carbon emissions and carbon levels in the atmosphere and draw inferences.

In fact, our snowstorms if anything give more credence to global warming, not less because they are more extreme. What makes a snowstorm bigger? It is the amount of water vapor in the air. How to you put more water vapor in the air? Well, if the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic is warmer than it was, the atmosphere above it is capable of holding more water vapor. This is why we get hurricanes during the warm part of the year and not in the middle of the winter. If you move that body of water vapor over a part of the country that is still cold enough in the winter to generate snow, not only do you get snow but a whole lot more snow. Looking for evidence? Look at the length of the Gulf Stream this year, which extends further north than usual. Why? Well, I am not a climate scientist but it seems likely to be that if you have a warmer body of water it has more energy so it can push further north. These changes are likely causing the unusual snowfalls experienced in Great Britain and elsewhere in Northern Europe this year, where it is still cold enough to turn rain into snow, but where there is also more water vapor to turn into snow.

If you “get” global warming, I think you have a duty to get the facts out. We must vigorously challenge these global warming Luddites. If these people succeed in their agenda, not only will the planet rapidly warm up but also we will also likely be dooming ourselves as a species on this planet. Climate change will also drive human migration and competition for resources, increasing the probability of war, conflict and endangering our national security. Speak up! Do not let the sirens of ignorance get away with these outrageous claims.

 
The Thinker

Feds bravely telecommute while the government “closes”

The recent set of snowstorms here in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area made many headlines. It’s not often that federal government offices shuts down at all, let alone for four days straight. Newspapers were full of reports on the cost of the storm including this one: $100M a day in lost productivity because federal workers like me could not get to work. Hmmph. Call me skeptical.

As someone who survived the Snowpocalype (Dec 19-20, 2009) and then Snowmageddon (Feb 5-6, 2010) and another eight inches (Snowmageddon Part Two) that ended on Wednesday, I can report first hand that, yes, we did get a lot of snow. By my count, my neighborhood received 27 inches from Snowmageddon, Part One. Add in the eight inches and that is nearly a yard of snow. Now there was some time between the two latest storms to attempt a recovery, but we never quite got there before part two arrived. Snowplows had nearly (but not quite) finished clearing the roads from the first storm when the second hit.

Clearing the road in my neighborhood did not mean getting the road down to bare pavement. It means your road becomes a teeth-rattling washboard where two cars can barely pass each other. Driving down my road is a slow process requiring lots of caution, good shock absorbers and plenty of clearance between your car and the road. There are a dozen feet between the lane where it was plowed and my driveway. To get our cars out at all, in addition to shoveling my driveway, I had to shovel a dozen feet into the street.

Yesterday, the major arteries were at least back to bare pavement. Yet, like with the Snowpocalypse in December, lanes frequently narrowed or disappeared altogether. Even if federal buildings and parking lots had been cleared, it would have been gridlock for federal workers to try to drive to work because so many lanes had disappeared. Taking the metro was out for most as well because the outdoor tracks were still being cleared of snow.

If it really costs $100M a day in lost productivity when the government closes, you would think taxpayers might not mind chipping in $50M or so a year in order for DC, Maryland and Virginia to have more snowplows and drivers available. This way commerce could resume a lot more quickly than it did. Unfortunately, Congress is pennywise and pound-foolish, and with so many overlapping jurisdictions, making it work is pretty much impossible. So taxpayers pay for it in federal closures that are sometimes simply a result of neighboring states like mine being niggardly about paying for promptly plowed roads.

What the average American may not realize is that just because the government is closed does not mean it is really that closed. Congress was in session, at least for part of it. The White House was busy doing things as well. Social security checks went out as usual. Homeland security kept running. In short, news stories gave the incorrect impression that the whole government was shut down, at least in the D.C. area. In fact about the only thing that was working was the government, mostly state and local governments pushing snow out of the way and providing emergency services. In some ways, the federal government had to “close” so state and local governments could do their jobs. As for the federal government, except for emergency personnel, offices were closed. Maybe the State Department could not process visas for a few days, but it is likely that some of their other offices away from Washington took up their slack. In general, Washington may seem dysfunctional and politically it is often gridlock. But we have all sorts of backup and contingency plans that the most essential parts of government will keep chugging away no matter what the weather.

It is true we civil servants in the area stayed home because basically we were landlocked. So, incidentally, was virtually everyone else. Some of us did kick back and watch HBO on your tax dollars. Most of us had more pedestrian things to deal with, like simply shoveling our long walks and driveways or fretting over the volume of snow on our roofs and wondering if it would cause them to collapse. We also waited for snowplows that were loathe to arrive, tried to figure out ways to keep our kids from driving us crazy and hoped our power would not go out. For hundreds of thousands of us, the power did go out. For the rest of us, we had to hope we had stashed enough provisions to ride the storm out. In short, we weren’t necessarily being lazy, we were overcome by events beyond our control.

As for the $100M in lost productivity, I really question that figure. One thing the storm demonstrated to me is that I could telecommute nearly as effectively as if I were in the office. So I did! I did not work full time during those days; because of the snowstorm, I had other things I had to do. Nevertheless, I did work part-time even though the Office of Personnel Management excused us from working altogether. Maybe I got lucky but I had no problems telecommuting. The telecommuting infrastructure worked: the high speed internet, the VPN, the access to internal file servers that I needed, the email system, the whole shebang performed flawlessly.

Moreover, I was hardly the only federal telecommuter. All the other members of my team were also spending significant parts of their snow days working. If I had to guess, most were working half to full time. They did so because they felt the professional responsibility to keep things moving. Federal employees have deadlines that must be met as well just like the private sector. In my case, I had an executive steering committee coming at me like a freight train in two weeks. My schedule did not allow for a four-day snow holiday. So I kept plugging away at home. We also had a couple of servers with issues to deal with during the storm, but we were able to fix them working remotely. On Thursday, I also attended a two and a half hour conference call from home. Most of us working in this information age can work anywhere there is electricity and high speed internet. Yes, it is convenient to come together daily in a shared office setting, but it is not essential. When you are working from home, you are still working even if the office is “closed”.

Unfortunately, the Office of Personnel Management’s policies for snow days are still 20th century oriented. They should be updated. If the telework infrastructure is as robust as it was while the government was “closed”, the policy should be to simply require employees to work from home, like I did. Granted, the people who maintain the telework infrastructure may not be able to fix certain problems if they cannot get to the office. Moreover, if everyone is working from home at the same time, it might overtax the network. It appears though that most technical issues can be addressed remotely. It seems like everyone with a white collar job has an employer furnished laptop and high-speed internet at home these days. All we need is a phone and a desk and we are at work. There is also the advantage of having no commute whatsoever.

If you are inclined to think that federal civil servants are lazy and pampered SOBs, think again. It is true that we may get more holidays than you get, but most of us are not lazy, spend our days at the water coolers, or take two-hour lunch breaks. Most of us are very much vested in our work. It gives a lot of meaning to our lives. I was glad to work from home because I felt useful and I had no lack of work. I just hope next time we will have policies that are more realistic in place. In addition, I hope in the future that the public relations folk at the Office of Personnel Management paint a more realistic portrayal of what “shutting down” the government actually means. It does not mean what you think.

 
The Thinker

Taking Chrome for a Spin

Does it really matter which browser you use? So many of us spend our lives in a browser that it is reasonable to think the answer is yes. Nevertheless, all browsers pretty much do the same thing. Once familiarity sets in, you have to have a compelling reason to move from one browser to another.

In 2004, I ditched the world’s de-facto browser Internet Explorer for a weird upstart browser called Mozilla Firefox. It was an easy switch. It was true that back then, thanks to Microsoft’s proprietary extensions to HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) that things would not always behave the same way in both browsers. Six years later, I still have to use Internet Explorer on a few sites, because the application has not been updated to use web standards. This is now largely a past memory. Unless you need some quirky feature like HTML 5 compatibility (which most browsers are racing to address anyhow) most of the rendering oddities are in the past. Not that a few don’t still bite us. Last I checked, Internet Explorer still did not allow rows in HTML tables to dynamically collapse through Javascript.

For six years, I have been satisfied with Firefox, and generally happier with each new release. I loved all the free plug-ins that were available. The latest version of Firefox (3.6) that I recently downloaded introduced personas. These are sort of like themes for the blank spaces around the edge of your browser. It’s pretty neat to look at, but it’s really window dressing, just like the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop. What matters the most to me is usability. Simple tends to be better.

Firefox’s weakness the last year or so has been its instability. It crashes a lot for me on both Windows and the Mac. This could be more annoying than it is, for you can at least restart it quickly and it will remember your open windows. Firefox also suffers from new version syndrome. Once every few weeks it wants to install a new minor version of itself, sometimes with new features, but mostly to fix bugs. As annoying as new versions are, it’s a straightforward and quick process. It’s better than Internet Explorer, which even though it claims to have excellent security is rife with bugs that require all sorts of mostly behind the scenes patching. IE wants to keep you in the dark about its bugs. Firefox is in your face with them by patching them so quickly.

Since I have a Mac, I also have Safari, which I use from time to time. It’s pretty nice, and there actually is a version of Safari for the PC, although it looks quite a bit different on a PC. There are lesser-known browsers out there like Opera (proprietary and not necessarily free) and Konquerer (for Linux boxes). Now there is also the official Google browser called Chrome. Chrome is part of Google’s grand design toward a web-centric architecture. Its operating system Chrome OS, which I wrote about recently, is taking wings and will soon be appearing on fine netbook computers.

I had installed the Chrome browser but had never really put it through its paces. I did so over the last long snow-congested weekend. After a couple hours, I was hooked. I will still need Firefox for quite a while. If Firefox can be made as fast and stable as Chrome, I would gladly drift back to Firefox. I must say though that Chrome’s speed and stability are both very compelling. I didn’t need Firefox to come out with a persona feature. What I need is a browser that is a lot like my Mac: I don’t have to think about it. It should just work. The best browser is like a sheet of glass. It renders the page of interest transparently, cleanly and correctly. Chrome just takes you where you need to go quickly and with (so far) none of the quirky rendering issues that plague most browsers. Through delivering high backwards and forwards compatibility, Chrome seems to have filled the niche. No wonder that Chrome’s browser share is climbing rapidly, mostly at IE and Firefox’s expense.

Clearly, it is not as feature rich as Firefox. The bountiful plug-ins that are available with Firefox for the most part do not exist with Chrome. However, some Chrome plug-ins do exist. My suspicion is that a good part of the Firefox plug-in community is already working on Chrome compatible plug-ins. As a web developer, I need the amazingly excellent plug-in called Firebug for Chrome. I sure hope it is being ported, although Chrome comes with some built in developer features that are quite decent.

The average user will just notice Chrome’s rendering speed, which tends toward blazingly quick. I had no idea so much of the slowness in Firefox was just its code trying to make everything look pretty. Of course, if the Internet is slow or congested, no browser will speed it up, but whatever Chrome is doing to render content quickly it is doing very well. It helps to have very deep pockets. Since a lot of our content comes from Google, Google can do a lot to put its content on the edge of the network so it will download quickly.

Simplicity and too much intimacy with your favorite browser have a downside. It would be nice, for example, if Chrome would refresh the page by pressing the F5 key, which I have used for the last 15 years. (Instead, it is Ctrl/Command-R.) It would also be nice if my bookmarks would appear on the side, as in Firefox, by pressing Ctrl/Command-B. I also like Firefox’s search box in the top right corner, although by integrating the URL field with search engines you arguably have a simpler interface. Perhaps those features will show up in time. Maybe it would be better if they did not. Simplicity also has a certain virtue. Most of us prefer cars that are simple to use. Too many gizmos and gadgets on the dashboard can make for a confusing experience

Here is hoping that the folks at Mozilla address the instability and page rendering issues so I can go back to it. I hate to give any monolithic company, even one as friendly as Google, all my loyalty. Still, Chrome is compelling in a way IE never was. If you try it for a couple days, you are likely to find yourself also hooked.

 
The Thinker

Snowmageddon

After nineteen inches or so of snow back on December 19-20 of last year, most of us Washingtonians had figured we had seen the last big snow dump for a while. Based on my experience we could expect to wait another five to eight years before we would get a snowstorm that would exceed a foot.

And here it is less than two months later and the snow is back, but even worse. I will let the meteorologists tell us what the official tally was. Based on trying to shovel out our driveway late this afternoon after the storm ended (and getting only about a third done) it is clear that this storm will exceed last December’s storm. Based on my shoveling, I’d say we received somewhere between twenty four and twenty seven inches of snow. Washington Dulles Airport (just a few miles away) reported received 32.4 inches of snow so maybe our actual total was higher. Areas north and east of us reportedly received more snow. So it is a good bet that this snowstorm will go in the record books, actually exceeding the crippling snowstorm that dumped twenty eight inches back in 1979 on Gaithersburg, Maryland, where I was living at the time.

As with the December storm, this one I got to ride out in the comfort of my house. Our electricity stayed on but many Washingtonians were not so lucky. No property damage for us, as best I can tell. Our next door neighbor’s purple plum tree though fell to the ground under the weight of the snow.

The storm was preceded by the usual frantic preparations that clogged roads and emptied store shelves. Friday found me nervous, because I was expected in Georgetown to have my sutures removed and the snow was to start around 10 a.m. Fortunately, we could be seen early and the snow when it did start came down wet and for some hours did not stick to the pavement. For a few hours, the storm actually made getting into and out of D.C. a breeze compared to a normal Friday. Most people just stayed home. We were able to buy food without too much trouble before the storm hit as well.

As usual, we expect it will be a few days before we see a snowplow on our street. More than likely they will do what they did last time: plow one lane and throw some sand down. This means of course that our driveway will temporarily extend six to twelve feet into the road, which we of course will have to shovel. Ah, the paradise of living in a low tax state! We are learning more of that good old American self reliance!

No question about it, it was a lot of snow and perhaps I will not live to witness a larger snowfall. Look at how the snow accumulated on our deck and you will get some idea of the volume of snow we received. I will let Mother Nature take care of the back deck. Hopefully it will be melted by spring.

 
The Thinker

Seriously Jenny?

In case you haven’t noticed, I just love news stories about politicians that cannot keep their zippers zipped. One rarely learns anything new from these news stories, but they always amuse and entertain even though they are heart-wrenching experiences for the aggrieved spouse and family. It seems that cheated ex-wives (and ancillaries who facilitated the cheating) are competing with each other for Amazon bestseller status. There has been a whole rash of books lately. Elizabeth Edwards recently released Resilience, her tell all book about her marriage to John Edwards. Also hot off the presses is The Politician by Andrew Young, the former myopic and masochistic aide to John Edwards wherein we get all sorts of details we probably did not want to know. These include that Edwards’ bit on the side, Rielle Hunter, couldn’t be bothered to clean up a pot of spilled coffee. Why bother when there are maids for these sorts of things? Anyhow, perhaps John would have commanded Young to lick it off the floor. If pretending to be the father to Rielle Hunter’s love child was not beneath him, licking up spilled coffee off a hotel room floor should not be either. God, what a sap.

There is also Jenny Sanford’s recent book Staying True. Jenny is of course the soon to be ex-wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who earned his day of infamy last June when he was supposed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail alone but was instead in Argentina crying over losing his mistress. Good news, Mark. Within a few weeks, you will be legally able to marry your soul mate. Some how I’m betting she won’t let you come within a hundred clicks of her.

Staying True seemed like a good name for the book, for there are few things that women like to read more than stories of courageous women who take their vows seriously. Jenny may have had a philandering husband, but at least she was faithful to her vows: score! It’s hard to feel sorry for any philanderer and I certainly felt no sympathy for Mark when I learned of his indiscretions. That is I didn’t until yesterday when I read this news article.

South Carolina’s first lady says her wedding was a “leap of faith” because Gov. Mark Sanford, who famously cheated on her with a woman he described as his soul mate, did not want to include a vow of fidelity in their marriage ceremony.

Not having a vow of faithfulness “bothered me to some extent, but … we were very young, we were in love,” Jenny Sanford tells Walters. “I questioned it, but I got past it.”

In her memoir, a copy of which The Associated Press obtained Tuesday, Sanford writes that her groom was worried “in some nagging way” that he might not be able to remain true.

“With the benefit of the knowledge I have about Mark now, I could point to this moment as a clear sign of things to come,” she writes. But at the time, she found his honesty “brave and sweet” and thought he just had cold feet.

The first time I read this I thought, “This has to be a joke.” Apparently not. Here is the aggrieved soon to be ex-wife of the conservative South Carolina governor writing a book called Staying True for crying out loud wherein she gets to proclaim how justifiably aggrieved she is. She gets to say how important fidelity is to her in a marriage and yet she went into the marriage knowing that her husband could not promise fidelity. She found his honesty “brave and sweet”.

Oh kay… Jenny, you must have been high on something at the time and I will be charitable and say it must have been the love hormones that made you temporarily lose your mind. I applaud you for your honesty with this admission but really, anyone who bought your book should demand their money back. Yep, your soon to be ex-husband is still a philanderer and a snake. But it’s not like he didn’t warn you. Most philanderers leave their spouse in the dark until the evidence becomes impossible to ignore, you pick up a STD or they mysteriously move out in the dark of night. Here Mark told you up front that he wasn’t sure he could be faithful to you and you married him anyhow.

Now I haven’t read the book to know if there is more to this but if fidelity is so important to you that you write a book called Staying True, for crying out loud, don’t you think you should have made it a requirement before agreeing to take the marriage vows? Granted, the Guv’s stepping out on you was not right. I hope you at least had the understanding that his extramarital relationships would be in the sunshine. But it’s not like he was not up front about his feelings before marriage. Basically, the Guv was saying he too had doubts about marrying you, but when he disclosed how he was honestly feeling, you swept an issue of such critical importance under the rug.

We all make mistakes in our marriages and I know I have made plenty. This one though was a whopper. You absolutely should not have married the guy if fidelity was important to you. And you certainly should not be writing a tell all book called Staying True saying what great character you have in contrast to your soon to be ex-spouse. Maybe it should have been titled, God, I was such a Putz.

The Guv told you he was a snake. Snakes bite. You married him it appears on the expectation that through the course of marriage you could change this. Smile sweetly, raise a bunch of healthy kids and perhaps your hope was that all such concerns would simply vanish. It sounds like you projected your feelings about fidelity onto him once the marriage was underway. He probably snuck around in part to spare your feelings. Granted it was a stupid thing for him to do, but no more stupid, in fact a lot less stupid than you were for marrying him. His behavior after marriage was not decent, but at least he was decent up front about it before tying the knot.

I haven’t read what you plan to do with the profits from the book, but here’s hoping that you at least donate the money to a good charity. Here’s a spouse abuse shelter I can recommend that desperately needs your money. I’ve given them quite a handful this year as the D.C. government greatly reduced their contributions due to the recession. Perhaps this would be a way to atone for your serious lack of judgment thirty some years ago.

If you ever decide to remarry, I hope this time that you will have the good sense not to marry the dude without making sure he first agrees to a sexually and emotionally exclusive marriage with you and you alone.

 

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