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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 10:39 PM
Number of posts: 72,322

Journal Archives

Winter Garden

"Doctor Allenby: This won't hurt a bit.
[Sticks Chance with a needle]
Chance the Gardener: It did hurt."

OUR winter garden is emerging. The dogwoods have already lost their amber leaves to a couple of frosts, but the Japanese maples are still showing scarlet in the setting sun.

It was a successful summer. There were devastating renovations which included my first forays into no-dig gardening with the debut of two compost mounds placed defiantly on the flattened slope of my front yard and planted with new additions of tickseed, painted fern, hechura, and false sunflowers.

We shepherded the few Asian lilies - which had escaped the night-foraging of our neighborhood deer - to successful blooms (resolved to finally order them in bulk this fall so we don't need top protect the handful we have like they're gold).

It all was a spectacular success, though, making the end a bit more tolerable. It doesn't hurt to have the 'skyracer' oak-leaf hydrangea in the front yard with the sun-facing side gleaming apple-red, and the other side turning a deep burgundy now that most of the canopy has fallen and is littering the ground from the yard to the street.

All of the action is moving underground after the long campaign, gathering sustenance and generating energy. Most of the winter activity is occurring in the grassroots, growing and expanding their base, auguring an early Spring.

Of course, I'm being facetious and a little coy here. Politics is like a garden, right? It's been done, well done - some of the more poignant analogies made in a flick about a gardener, turned dying president's private confidant named 'Chauncey' (Peter Sellers), who was mistaken for a wise counsel because of his government-analogous remarks about tending his garden.

"President "Bobby": Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
[Long pause]
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President "Bobby": In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President "Bobby": Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.

Ah yes, winter... (pushing ahead, ignoring the sudden urge to go find Shirley MacClain's 'Being There' and sneak in another movie night).

The deer have arrived. They're welcome back, mostly. I chased a couple doe and kids away early in the season after I saw them eating my oak-leaf hydrangea transplants in the backyard to the ground. I armed myself with deer-repellent spray and all is now forgiven again.

It looks like last year's bunch, but I know these young deer are new to the yard - maybe visited here in their relative youth. I'm chill. There's really not much harm they're likely to do to the garden in winter (with huge, notable exceptions), and they're a familiar presence this time of year, twice visiting through Thanksgiving like errant relatives come to visit.

I try and interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

Once you've created your plant filled environment, however, you are bound to their success or demise. There's no questioning the beneficial effect of careful tending and nurturing of a yard full of plants. The wildlife which adopts the environment you've created becomes dependent on your beneficence -- as do the succeeding generations of fauna which are conceived and delivered into your garden home. Bees and other insects find spots nearby to winter over. Hummingbirds and other fowl will make your garden a regular stop on their essential feeding tours. And, yes, for some hapless gardeners, deer and rabbits make their garden paradises their own personal feeding stations and devastatingly devour the bounty to the ground.

There are consequences to the decision to establish a garden. Once adopted by our living counterparts, the future condition of that garden becomes almost essential. More water and food means more growth, so, you're then obliged to continue to nurture that growth at the risk of withdrawing that support and abandoning your sprouts to the ravages of the elements.

That's a bit like the way I view our community at Democratic Underground. We gather here, either deliberately compelled or bidden, and become reliant on the nourishment from the wellspring of activism, action, and advocacy that's been established here. That's what we establish gardens for; to sustain and enhance life on this planet, and that's what I suppose this place is for.

New voters provide new opportunities, new legislators, for our party to grow and succeed. I daresay we can find space and resource to accommodate most of them all; even as we cringe at the prospect of our prize 'buds and offshoots' serving as nourishment for other life before we can realize their bloom; none are more important than the other in this ecosystem; none are less vital than the other in our own survival.

So, winter has come to my suburban, wooded garden, bringing with it an abundance of sunlight and nourishing rain to sustain the burgeoning abundance of life which both sustains us and challenges for us to grow and prosper from the resources available.

Are we actually caretakers in this menagerie, or, are we merely antagonists bent on shuffling and scrambling nature about for our own edification? In mostly all of the natural world, we find most species adapted to an almost routine pattern of survival which advantages itself of every other instinct and expression of the environment - taking a bit of nature for themselves, here and there; giving another bit back, in return.

Does that nature manifest itself in the fox who found refuge for the majority of the day last winter (and warmth) on top of the pile of composting leaves at the back of my yard?

Or is that nature the providence of the family of rabbits who live (and, presumably, are killed) in the burrows under the bank of day lilies facing our driveway - the rabbit family that was the subject of the fox's intense hunt that I witnessed one night from an upstairs window; the garden predator weaving back and forth through the dense growth of foliage to find his innocent quarry?

Are the deer who also time-shared the same cramped but accommodating space of refuge during the winter days - who now migrate through the yard in the summer and forage on every bit of nutritious foliage and flower they can find - friends or ultimate enemies of this arranged habitat?

Is the hawk less welcome atop the heights of the dead pine in back than the chipmunks who perform their death-defying feats of seeming mischief and frivolity with little visible worry or fear of the threat from above?

Poet, John Ashbery ('Some Trees'), describes the accommodating mix of menagerie and flora as an arrangement of chance and opportunity:

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though
Speech were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I (and others)
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness,
we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles . . .
Place in a puzzling light,
and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents
seem their own defense __

It is hard, but, not impossible, to imagine that all of this magnificence around us would occur without some hand in singling out new sprouts and nurturing, protecting, refereeing among their neighbors, and helping them take full advantage of the light, water, and nourishment that nature obligingly provides.

Caretaking and nurturing them is as intimate as we humans can be with these miracles of nature, unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper like they do; plant our own feet that firmly in the ground and we would surely rot away with time.

I don't remember a victory being this important

...it's a blast and a relief to win the House majority, of course, but it's impossible to take all of this in without reflecting on just how devastating a loss would have been.

It makes me much more grateful for this victory than I've ever felt before. Our situation with Trump still in office is as precarious as ever, but it would have been nearly impossible to see through the noise to some future win for Democrats, if we lost. Not impossible (I lived through the 'Gingrich revolution'), but dangerously close to a fascist state, if we lost to this crop of rabid republicans.

You could see the prospect of the Democratic party becoming even more toothless in the fight against Trump, without power to do much more than speak out and write strongly worded letters of opposition.

Now the Democratic party can issue subpoenas, call witnesses before committees, and initiate oversight and investigations, which our party will direct and control, of Trump administration malfeasance, graft, and criminality.

I know this is trite and an oversimplification, but America was awakened again last night. With the nation rocking a cool shade of blue this morning, our Democratic party has a consequential voice again. The Democratic-led House has a constitutional impetus and full reign to initiate financial legislation, hold oversight investigations, and, when appropriate, initiate impeachment proceedings.

Trump's rubber stamp is shelved. House Democrats will be an effective block of republican initiatives from the Senate, and a formidable force in budget negotiations. No more tax giveaways to the rich, no more blank checks to the military, no more swipes at our health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

More importantly, we owe the republican party nothing but scorn for their attempts to dismantle our democratic institutions and our social safety nets. Republicans behaved as if they would never be forced to account for their thievery, and their evisceration of standards and norms which once served to make even a divided Congress operate with as much comity and cooperation as politically possible, demands redress.

I daresay, this new Democratic-controlled Congress should be loath to allow any republican legislator to gain leverage at the negotiating table, especially without some reckoning from them for the way Democrats were locked out of any ability to influence Trump-enabling legislation in the last term. It's been such a power-grab by republicans and the WH, that a return to regular order will look like a revolution.

Democrats should think long and hard about making any gestures or concessions in the name of behaving better toward republicans than they acted toward us. The criminals in that party are unrepentant, and determined to resume inflicting harm the minute they get their foot back in the door.

Comity should be about more than just offering the other cheek. There should be some demonstrable benefit to our agenda from any deals with the republican opposition. Congress isn't a social club. The steamrolling Democrats have received from the republican party in recent years demands that they execute their politics, in power, with the same ruthlessness their opposition employed.

The stakes for Americans, for our Democratic party to prevail, couldn't be higher or more critical.

If Trump wasn't president, he'd be detained, questioned

...threatened with arrest if he continued to incite violence against individuals.

Trump is actively fomenting violence against his political opponents, critics. and their supporters. He's scheduled for another one of his 'rallies' tonight where he stirs up his already violent rabble against Democrats with incendiary lies and 'meddlesome priest' appeals that are pushing people to violent acts.


What's happened to America that we're allowing this spoiled, bad-seed, man-child to bully the nation from our own offices of government with impunity? Is there no fucking authority in the nation with the power to muzzle this terrorist-enabling thug?

Collins spent an hour elevating an unrepentant sexual assailant over his victim

...this is the grotesque face of the republican party.


Watching (not actually listening) to Susan Collins' hour-long lecture to sexual assault survivors and those of us who actually give a damn about the rights of women and other survivors, I remembered this de Tocqueville quote about power and assumed authority:

Rulers who destroy men's freedom commonly begin by trying to retain its forms. ... They cherish the illusion that they can combine the prerogatives of absolute power with the moral authority that comes from popular assent. - Alexis de Tocqueville

Here are republicans visibly and functionally out of step with the rest of America, yet they moralize down to us from their elevated positions of power. There's no humility, no consideration for the majority of Americans who disagree with them. Just raw, naked power manipulated for their benefit alone.

Consider this vote scheduled for tomorrow. It's a simple majority vote where it used to require a supermajority (60 votes) for advancement of a SC nominee. That's a consequence of the absolute power afforded to the republican party. Once they got the majority, they discarded Senate comity and simply changed the rules to suit their own interests. Garland was just a teaser, this republican party is on a tear.

It's a rampage through our democratic system of government complete with an opposites game that looks to be modeled after Orwell's '1984' - blatant lies presented as truth; one of the nation's most prominent religious leaders trotted out to proclaim that 'not completing the act' isn't rape, no matter that the person he's defending denied even attending such a party.

Kavanaugh went even further, proclaiming several times that, although he really "liked beer," he never drank to excess. That assertion completely at odds with a letter revealed, in his own handwriting, signed 'Bart,' saying beach house neighbors should be warned that they're "loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us."

We're dealing with weak and vulnerable bullies and liars. There is nothing redeemable about the republican party because there's nothing that they appear to care about outside of their sweet selves. But not to despair...some Tennyson to soothe the sour palate:

“Let darkness keep her raven gloss:
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss”

We're Democrats, and we're on the right side, if not the winning one. We don't shift to suit the political winds, and we act on principle and conviction, not political expediency. We have an affirming election coming in a few weeks where we can get on with removing these relics of absolute power, these horridly tragic mistakes of popular assent. Lets get on with it.

So yelling and beating up on the victim rallied republicans?

...that's the narrative coming from various media sources.

Prof. Ford's testimony was passionate, intelligent, and utterly convincing.

The republican counter is that Kavanaugh aggressively fought back, in an overtly political manner. The judge berated his accuser as some kind of Democratic conspiracy, blaming the Clintons.

Yet, Prof. Ford demonstrated a natural independence and clearly showed that there was no political bias in identifying her attacker. She repeatedly affirmed her support for an FBI investigation by saying she believed they could help her help the committee reach a just conclusion.

Kavanaugh belligerently and petulantly dodged the question of whether he would support such an investigation, while at the same time, wailing and moaning about the lack of a complete evidence trail. He showed open contempt for allowing witnesses to back up either his account or Dr. Ford's.

This sitting judge's contempt for the democratic process, and for the process of law, is a damning indictment of his intention to lead this committee to the truth. He's determined to substitute this stacked committee's partisan judgment for a process of investigative law, something that I would think is an anathema for a judge. It's certainly something that would disqualify any nominee for any position in government for any Democratic nominee facing these committee republicans.

Moreover, his temperament demonstrated in this rebuttal is not one that should be expected from someone tasked to adjudicate myriad cases fraught with contradictions, omissions, and complex defenses and prosecutions. The image of this judge yelling and crying from the federal bench (and if advanced to the Supreme Court) is a terrifying image of U.S. jurisprudence. This is a sitting judge, openly scorning the process that would advance him to a higher Court, actively obstructing the search for the truth he claims to seek.

The only conclusion to be had is that this person believes he's entitled to the Court seat; that he thinks he's entitled to sidestep scrutiny or challenge to his record or reputation; that he believes he's immune from accountability for his past by virtue of membership in a privileged class of politicians currently holding the majority of votes, presumably, in his favor.

For Trump-era republicans, their ability to outvote Democrats is all of the justice or justification they need to act, consistently in the most partisan manner they can accomplish. Their morality is mired in their ability to dominate this confirmation process, in the end, and manipulate the process with selective umbrage and obstruction of even the law enforcement professionals who could clarify their decision-making with actual witness statements and evidence.

It's privilege they're asserting here, plain and simple. Something women have been struggling for decades to advantage their own needs and rights. That's what republicans are trying to accomplish here, the advancement of their male-dominated privilege, and the suppression of this women and her right to hold this man accountable for his actions against her.

Grassley's pathetic disinformation effort before Kavanaugh hearing is misogynists' last gasp


As BuzzFeed reports, “The committee didn’t identify the men, offer details about what they said, state whether committee staff found their accounts credible, or indicate whether there would be any further follow-up.” Committee staff interviewed each of the men between Monday and Wednesday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s attempt to sow doubt on the eve of Thursday’s hearing seems intended to cast doubt upon Ford’s unequivocal claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her. During a Fox & Friends interview on Thursday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway seized upon the revelation as evidence that Kavanaugh might have been falsely accused.

Releasing thin information about two anonymous men who claim to be the real assailants wasn’t the only misdirection pushed by Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) committee on Wednesday.

As CNN reports, the committee also released a transcript of a conference call with Kavanaugh in which they asked him about two new uncorroborated, anonymous allegations against him...

The republicans on the committee hearing from Dr. Ford today includes 6 men who voted against the extension of the Violence Against Women Act. This is the old guard of the women-haters club trying to preserve a place in society where they are allowed to treat women as sexual conquests. They are very clear that they want fellow men to be able to act out their sexual desires against women, without their consent, with impunity.

That's the principle republicans are defending today, at the same time that they're seeking even less accountability for the tainted men they seek to advance to the highest offices of our government. Success in circumventing Dr. Ford's testimony, and moving thereafter to an immediate vote, will be one more step toward insulating men from the consequences of their misbehavior and violence toward women.

It's the cherry on top of this shit salad they're tossing today. Well in line with the ascension of an admitted sexual predator to the WH, this is another momentous moment in our nation's history where republicans will attempt to normalize their misogyny.

The deck couldn't be stacked any more in their favor. The only saving grace is the courage and persistence of Dr. Ford in standing up to this rigged committee, and forcing them to publicly face up to the cravenness of their vain pursuit of absolution for this unrepentant, sexual abuser a step away from determining the fate of women's rights and protections from a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land.

Flake starts out speech on Senate floor equalizing Kavanaugh and his accusers

...that's the end of that for me.

Portraying this sitting judge as a victim of this process is a mockery of the Court he's trying to join. Due process would affirm his reputation, not diminish it. If Kavanaugh's guilty, he has nothing to fear from an investigation.

So far, Kavanaugh has shown open contempt for the process of investigations, for due process. He doesn't deserve the shield of a legal system he's openly scorning. If he's somehow a victim of these proceedings, it's because he's trying to subjugate the judgment of criminal matters to a partisan, stacked political process, instead of insisting on an FBI investigation.

The real victims here are, of course, these sexual assault survivors who have been compelled into the public arena to bare their reputations in a effort to be believed by this committee. There's absolutely no reason for this trial-like hearing, except for the craven need and desire of republicans to discredit these accusers before the nation and advance their president's nominee to the Supreme Court.

No matter what Flake is reasoning, Kavanaugh goes into this hearing facing several weighty and consequential accusations which all carry the same devastating theme of sexual abuse and assault. Armed with little more than his questionable word, the credibility gap with these women places him firmly on the defensive.

Given that this proceeding is still about Kavanaugh's fitness for office, his lack of veracity, and his blatantly false representations of his past, it places a steep burden on him to reconcile these vile acts - acts he's been described as either witnessing or participating in - with the image he tried to portray in the interview on FOX.

Denials without anything but his word to refute them should not be accepted as a defense in the committee, by Flake or anyone else.

So the battle line republicans are drawing is a 'smear' defense against these womens' allegations

...I say, bring it on.


I don't believe this fight is going to tolerate this panel of men (and the men shouting from the sidelines) dismissing these women's claims as some conspiracy. Beside the fact that they are mostly corroborated and come from women who are of apparently reputable character, there's been an awakening of sorts where women (of all stations) have felt more empowered to confront these excuses for abominable violence against them.

There are also many men identifying their own incidents of abuse with this movement of accountability and justice for abusers and the environments which allow them to persist and avoid prosecution.

These incidents being uncovered are about respect for and adherence to the rule of law. The person seeking approval for a lifetime seat on the Court should welcome the opportunity to clear up any questions about past behavior, but this nominee is determined to resist any entity but this weighted committee as an arbiter of the women's claims.

It's this resistance to the institutions and process of law, in favor of this rigged political process, which betrays Kavanaugh's contempt for the democratic process itself, including the one he expects to advance him to the Court. The only outcome of a committee vote weighted in his favor - a majority party membership openly declaring their intention to treat these accusations as an attack and vote to advance Kavanaugh anyway - will be a smear of these women who have been compelled beyond their intentions to appear and bear their pain before the nation.

I think these republican dinosaurs in the Senate (many, like Grassley and Hatch lording over nominees since Anita Hill) are going to find their weak protestations of some unfairness to a sitting judge seeking one of the highest positions in the land answering these women's charges without denigrating them, fully revealed as the bitter misogyny which is at the heart of their petty rule.

Week's events should draw epiphanies from those insisting the sky would fall if Dr. Ford missed Mon

...committee hearing.

So it appears Dr. Ford will be given the opportunity to appear on Thursday, instead of allowing herself to be jammed into a Monday hearing, one that would involve great difficulty in attending for the non-flying professor who was, just hours before the ultimatum, engaged in an interview with the FBI over death threats she had received as a result of her name being publicly revealed without her knowledge or consent.


I don't know what got into some folks, but there were far too many posters willing to believe the bottom would fall out of the resistance to Kavanaugh if Dr. Ford refused to fold in the face of Grassley's arbitrary demand that, she not only appear before the committee Monday, but that she also hand over her testimony by Friday.

All of that bullying was met by firm rejections by Dr. Ford's lawyer, explaining in detail the unfairness and arbitrary nature of the committee chairman's demands:

That damning letter was met with a curious response from Grassley, utterly blase in its detachment from the devastating charges Dr. Ford made in her response. It seemed Grassley was having a private conversation with his close friend, Kavanaugh, not the sexual assault survivor he tried to intimidate and sabotage.


Look at how far the opposition to Kavanaugh has come since that anticlimactic end to the committee hearing. He's dropping in the polls and republicans, Grassley included, are now running scared over their inability to pass their misogyny off as altruism.

They have at least one republican senate nominee insisting that the sexual assault described in detail by Dr. Ford couldn't possibly be rape because the assault didn't include actual intercourse; echoing the improbable statement of a prominent ordained minister that, “no completed rape means no crime.” That Kavanaugh "respected" his victim by not finishing the abominable act. Franklin here:


...and North Dakota’s republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, challenging Democratic Senator Heidi Heitcamp in November:


We have FOUR more days to press for Kavanaugh's withdrawal. After this impressive assertion of rights and reason by Dr. Ford to prevail and appear before the committee on her own schedule (and some of her own terms), none of us should be chagrined or resigned about any assertion from republican senators that we can't have our demands heard and responded to, even though we hold slightly less votes in that body.

We should continue to press for a real investigation of the charges; press for other witnesses, press for senators to question of Dr. Ford in the hearing, instead of an outside counsel...

We should be inspired by Dr. Ford's persistence and steadfastness to her cause to continue to press for what we believe is fair and right, even in the face of seemingly intractable odds.

Watch the republican attempt to jam Prof. Ford into hearing Monday fall apart

...and recognize how full of shit the Monday deadline Grassley set for Dr. Ford was, and how self-defeating it's been to have apparent opponents of Kavanaugh, nonetheless repeating the republican demands like they're infallible and set in stone.

Imagine the scene where a gang of pasty men are talking smack about a victim of sexual abuse, dismissing her claims and trashing her reputation, while shoving her aside in a rush to advance her alleged assailant to the highest court in the land. With the midterms just over the horizon, someone over there is going to ask their chairman just what the upside is for team Kavanaugh in abusing this woman further.

There was never a hard deadline, just bullying from Grassley, expecting some political mileage out of jostling this woman around; expecting that her story would disappear or be discredited because they and whoever listens to them spread their petty nonsense that if she doesn't appear on some arbitrary date that advantages proponents of Kavanaugh, her claims would be dismissed.

But here we are. The hearing will likely be delayed to accommodate Prof. Ford - something many folks insisted wouldn't happen, because, republicans.

My point is that, despite the republicans holding the votes to confirm, Democrats own the reputation of Kavanaugh, going forward. The very fact that the WH and their nominee have not asked the FBI to investigate the claims carries with it a strong presumption that he's hiding something.

And it hasn't gone unnoticed that Prof. Ford gains credibility with her request for the FBI to probe Kavanaugh further.

Democrats have the upper hand. Republicans cannot proceed, unaffected by the scandal. If we don't let them completely dictate the terms of this hearing and vote, and demand fairness and respect for the accuser, the ambush they've planned for Prof. Ford will fall on its face.

No, we don't have the votes, but we have the moral high ground, and a good window in which to rally opposition to this tainted nominee. Just like the confirmation vote slipped under pressure, so is this nominee's ascension vulnerable to the same political activism.

Today would be a good day for Kavanaugh to call it quits, before some other salacious scandal drops out of his past onto the national stage.


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