February 3rd, 2009

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Preserving the moral high ground

As Eric Holder gets sworn in as Attorney General, I find myself reflecting on the lesson of, "What goes around, comes around".

The thing is, the objections raised at his confirmation hearings weren't *completely* specious -- he was, by all accounts, deeply involved in a few dumb moves by the Clinton Administration, and those do raise reasonable concerns. But coming from the Republicans -- the party that pushed through Alberto "I'm sorry, I don't recall" Gonzales -- accusations of poor judgement and failure to stay above politics come across as more hypocritical than mere mortals should be capable of.

That's the uphill fight that the Republicans have on their hands, and it's going to be quite the challenge for them to overcome. In order for the public to take them seriously, they have to be a serious party, with serious principles -- and after muffing that for most of the past eight years, that's going to be hard to convince people of. Actions speak louder than words, and now that they are reduced to mostly words, it's not going to be easy to set aside the effects of their past actions.

The moral of the story? Don't make the mistake of assuming you're going to be in power forever. Your actions today will come back to haunt you tomorrow. Hopefully the Democrats will manage to keep that in mind...
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The simple things, made just a little fancy

Huge slices of fresh rustic bread, toasted until just a little past golden. Small-batch apple jelly, direct from the orchard. Thick peanut butter with a ridiculous number of chunks. Combine; slice in half; enjoy.

There are probably better lunches on a cold winter day. But not many...
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The ongoing bad fur day

Every cat is different, and each one is a learning experience. One of the main things I had to learn when we got the current kids was how to deal with Jez, who is the first longhair cat that either of us has ever owned. Fortunately, the vet was very clear from the beginning: we were to brush her *every* day, and get her used to it from an early age.

As he predicted, it quickly became part of our daily ritual, and as he predicted she quickly grew to like it. This means I don't have to be at all pushy about it -- the main brush lives at my bedside, and at least once each day when I'm in the bedroom (most often when I'm getting dressed), she comes up and presents herself for brushing, and I always give her at least a couple of minutes of it.

That said, I suspect both of us will be happy to have a bit of more normal humidity back. Brushing her this winter is rather like brushing an electric eel: every stroke crackles with constant static electricity, and her fur doesn't really come out any neater than when I started. (Indeed, often less so -- the static causes it to bunch oddly.) We'll both enjoy it more when it becomes a less shocking experience...
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Individual vs. Group Strategy

In my usual rather-behind-the-times way, I've been coming across a number of recent postings to the effect of, "What the heck are the House Republicans smoking?" The details differ, but they all point out the intransigence of the House and refusal of the Republicans to compromise, and how suicidal this seems to be electorally.

And the thing is, while that's probably true in the collective, I'm not at all sure it is individually. After the past couple of election cycles, the House Republicans who are left are, by and large, the more extreme politicians representing the more extreme districts. Moderates in moderate districts tended to get swept away -- it's notable that even the relatively good Republicans who had previously survived in New England simply couldn't hold up against the "Republicans Are Crazy And Evil" meme that swept the land.

So look at the situation from the viewpoint of an ideological Republican who is representing an ideologically red district -- the types who make up a lot of the survivors in the House. Why in heaven's name would you compromise with those terrible Liberals who are now ruling the roost? You don't agree with their approach to government, and there is no electoral advantage to *you personally* to do so -- on the contrary, your core constituents are much more likely to string you up at election time if you appear to be working with Liberals. Especially because the hardcore right wing is arguing, persistently and loudly, that the recent wipeout was caused by Republicans being corrupted by compromise of principles in the name of power and influence.

Remember, every politician's first priority is to get *himself* re-elected. Sure, bringing the party back to power would be great, but it's a secondary goal. So what are your choices? You can be reasonable and moderate, compromise with the Democrats, and hope that it all works out so that your party looks good -- because if it doesn't work out, someone further to your right will eviscerate you in two years. Or you can stand on hard-right principles, knowing that whether you are right or wrong, standing on principle can *always* be defended when election time comes around. It's not the strongest possible argument, but it's usually good enough to get an incumbent re-elected.

Yes, it's rotten strategy for the party, and yes, it stands a high likelihood of marginalizing the Republicans for many years if the Democrats manage to turn things around in the next two years. But on the individual level it's pretty good strategy, likely to keep the jobs of most of the existing Republicans. And these are "every man for himself" times...
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Good timing...

... is getting the first (fairly substantial) check from my current consulting contract two days *after* Birka. Less fun for me, perhaps (and bad from a stimulus POV), but a fine way to encourage a little necessary frugality...