Gay Marriage Again

I’ve been chewing on the recent events on this from in an Francisco and New Peltz, NY (just a train stop to me up to now), and thought I’d take a few minutes and go set out why these make me so happy, and what I think they mean.

Just for openers, as I said a while ago, I’m all for gay marriage, both as a matter of abstract moral conviction and out of direct personal experience (and no, I’ve never been denied the right to marry because I was gay…).

And I’m convinced that by the time Littlest Guy marries, it will almost certainly be legal. But as I noted, the process to get there is going to be messy, erratic, and anything but simple.

Here’s the image I have in my mind when I talk about it; as a society and as people, our values are complex, and often on some level, self-contradictory. I don’t see that as wrong, I just see it as human. At the highest, simplest, most public levels, the values tend to align. But deeper, it looks like the strata underneath California – more faults and temporarily stable dislocations than solid bedrock.And that dynamic system changes over time in response to events, to changes in belief or behavior, to a kind of social evolution.

As a believer in punctuated equilibrium, I also see that as a metaphor for patterns in societies.

Which brings me to Gavin Newsome (who looks like he is going to rival Joe Alioto and Wille Brown as a Bay Area political figure) and his act of civil disobedience – because it really can’t be characterized in any other way.

I’m really pleased that he’s doing this. I think that this is going to be remembered along with the sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. These are events that are among the first signs of real slippage on those faults as society aligns itself anew.

That’s how social change happens. A small event that would have been lost at another point in history, manages to set of a wider shift – because the underlying forces were in place to make society receptive to it.

Two years ago, it wouldn’t have had the same effect, and two years from now, it would have mattered less.

I believe that the gay community needs to keep fighting for this, and when the victories come – like this one – cherish them and use them for fuel to keep going for the rest of the fight.

And, most important, to realize that while those who oppose this are wrong and that this is a struggle – that hating and demonizing them is not going to make victory come sooner, and in the end will make the battle less worth winning.

Racism, Redux

As a follow-up to my earlier blog post on Our Watchful Media, I just made a quick pass through the newspapers and blogs, and noticed that the flap over Rep. Corrine Brown’s racist remarks seems to be overwhelming the newspapers – or not.

New York Times – still nothing
Los Angeles Times – still nothing
Washington Post – still nothing [See Update, below]

And because I’m feeling kind of snarky…Josh Marshall – nothing (actually he quotes her in a 2000 post about the Florida ‘undervote’ brouhaha, so he knows who she is…

Kos – nope

Tbogg – nope

Atrios – yes, kinda – the comments were ‘intemperate’. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to go Google his comments about Trent Lott, and see if he excuses them as ‘intemperate’.

Calpundit, absolutely stood up on this, and since we all read each other’s stuff, it’s damn unlikely that none of these bloggers knows about it; they just think it’s unimportant, or ‘intemperate’. Sadly, they’re wrong.

This isn’t some community organizer, struggling against The Man. This is a woman who speaks with the authority of the House of Representatives of the United States, and who writes laws that I have to live under.

And so far, she’s gotten a ‘bye’ on it. Someone explain to me how I can demand, with a straight face, that Dixiecrat Trent Lott or Jew-baiter (and MBNA shill) James Moran be punished when she isn’t, or how I can give moral – as opposed to political – standing to those who only bust one side for the same crime.

[Update – just got pointed to a 2/27 mention in Al Kamen’s column in the Post; I have no idea how my site search for “Corinne Brown” missed it, but I have to admit it did. Digesting this now to see if it changes my views…]

Challenges From Within

Two interesting articles in the last two days about issues that are central to me; one in the LA Times about race, and one in Wired about environmentalism.

Each is about someone who is challenging the precepts of those who have captured those issues and claimed them.

In the Times, a review (must be a CalendarLive subscriber) of a book by an African-American woman, Debra Dickerson –

In the first few pages of her new book, ‘The End of Blackness,’ Debra Dickerson wastes no time making it clear she’s going in for a little equal opportunity thumping:

“The first step in freeing one another is for black people, collectively, to surrender. Blacks must consciously give up on achieving racial justice. They must renounce any notion of achieving justice that is meant to even the historical score or to bring about full racial integration.”

“The ‘woe is me’ race men…. [would] have nothing important left to think about, no other way to organize their lives, no mechanism by which to understand themselves except as always marginalized, the perpetual outsiders.”

“Today whites deny the continuing effects of their past racism as well as the privilege they yet retain, simply because they are too stiff-necked, too embarrassed and too sickened to follow these truths to their logical and moral conclusions. They simply cannot live with the truth of how they came to be who they are so they choose not to know.”

Has she gotten your attention? Well, that’s the idea.

“I feel dangerous as hell,” she writes, throwing down the gauntlet, “and I’m spoiling for a fight.”

Wait, there’s more…

She tosses out an incident at a Dunkin’ Donuts when she, the only black female present, is passed over in line and rendered invisible — then dwells on it all day. She recounts a story of a lay minister basketball coach, telling his young team at the outset, ” ‘You’re one of the few black teams out there; you’re going to face a lot of racism. You’re going to lose more games than you win.’ And I listened to him and thought: ‘I’m so tired of being black this way.’ ”

A complex manifesto

Her not-so-small goal — one announced on the jacket of her new book — is to explain both how the antique notion of “blackness” has “bamboozled” African Americans and how white America “exploited the concept to sublimate its rage toward and contempt for black America.”

But it isn’t that simple.

The book, a densely constructed manifesto, is dizzying in its sprawl. Dickerson weighs in on slavery, knee-jerk racism and white intransigence and kicks up the already piquant mix with a chapter titled “Kente Cloth Politics,” taking a swing at a range of folk across the political and pop-culture spectrum, from Condoleezza Rice to Tiger Woods to motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant. “I was tired of being defined in opposition to racism. I needed a template,” she tells the bookstore crowd. . “My parents didn’t have it … that knowledge.” Dickerson casts a net, broad and deep, to contemplate: “What is my responsibility to the world — and the Civil Rights legacy?”

I haven’t (yet) read the book, but it sounds from this like there’s an interesting path here, one that both acknowledges the reality of race, even in the 21st Century, while suggesting that creating a self-identity totally defined by race maybe isn’t the best way for African-Americans (or anyone else) to build a strong community or self.

Then, in this month’s Wired, an article (not yet online, I’ll update when it is) about the Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, who has jumped ship and started testifying against the environmental interest groups he helped start.

Moore attacks what he sees as bad science underlying many environmental policies, and the article suggests that:

Moore’s turnabout was the biggest change of heart since Harold “Kim” Philby left Her Majesty’s secret service for the Soviet Union – or was it? Moore insists that he hasn’t changed a bit. His professional life, he says, has been a single-minded quest for true ecological sustainability. To his opponents, however, it adds up to little more than an ideologically bankrupt series of betrayals.

Throughout his presentation, Moore made barbed references to the devious forces behind the legislation [to ban PVC pipe in Boston], the same band of Luddites who “hijacked a considerable portion of the environmental movement back in the mid-80’s and who have become very clever at using green language to cloak campaigns that have more to do with anti-industrialism, antiglobalization, anticorporation, all of those things which are basically political campaigns.”

Now from my point of view, there are legitimate issues about where ‘political campaigns’ begin and end; the fight for a better (sustainable, less harmful) environment is itself a political campaign.

But I do question a lot of what I see in the current crop of environmental advocates who, much like those who self-identify through race, seem to be unwilling or unable to broaden their concerns.

In so doing, they damage us, because instead of working to deal with higher-impact, lower-cost issues which must be resolved; we wind up with ‘issue smog’ in which runoff from dog parks somehow becomes coevil with contaminated ground water from refineries.

I’ve had direct experience in both racial politics and environmental politics which tells me that they are fundamentally broken; that the issues of race in Los Angeles today have paved a freeway to the deadly care patients receive at Drew/King hospital, and that the impractical, ill-thought through environmental ‘policies’ are leading to more sprawl, more smog, and worse drinking water.

These two articles give me hope; I’ve argued for a long time for a ‘Liberalism of the Sensible,’ which can contain liberal goals – racial justice, a livable environment – while jettisoning the self-sustaining interest group politics that have captured both issues.

I’ll get the book and we’ll see.

Chickenhawk Again

Here’s the ultimate response to the (sadly not yet dead) ‘chickenhawk‘ notion. From Chief Wiggles, on his return to the U.S.:

The vast majority of the military unanimously support the president’s decision to take preemptive action against Saddam Hussein. We agree it was necessary in order to eliminate a serious threat to the stabilization of this region of the world, to free a country of people from bondage and torture, to prevent a continuation of an anti-American sentiment, for that matter anti-Western world policy, with the real potential, if not actual, to create such weapons and aid our enemies in their terrorist activities.

Why is it that the people of the US armed forces have not and are not speaking out against the president’s decision, if in fact the WMD issue was the only premise behind making such a decision to go to war? Yes, we believed all along that he had such weapons before, that he had such weapons now, or that he possessed the knowledge and the capability to use, share, or develop such weapons in the future to promote his own anti-American plans. I have said all along that Saddam’s only real weapon against us was to hide everything so well that we would never find such evidence of their existence, in hopes that by doing so he would create a back lash of political opposition for the president.

To give you my opinion, the fact of the matter is that the WMD issue has never been a major deal for any of us in the military, at least from all that I have spoken with. Yes, it was important, but not a do or die situation, as is portrayed by the president’s political rivals. Our success here in Iraq did not and has never swung on the hinge of finding or not finding the weapons of mass destruction. There are far too many other pertinent and relevant variables that make this a much too complicated scenario to lump into my nice little nutshell we call WMD.

In this convoluted, intertwined every changing world environment, we have to rely on what we consider to be reliable and trustworthy intelligence, while understanding our own human limitations to correctly gather and interpret that same intelligence. We believed they existed and believe there is evidence of an existing program, either actual or potential.

So, if you oppose the war – is this really the guy who (along with his peers) you want to make the war/no war decision?

Our Watchful Media

In case you don’t read any other blogs, you may not have heard that Rep. Corinne Brown, an African-American Member of Congress, launched on a Bush Administration official, Richard Noriega with a racist rant.

It’s been covered by Instapundit, Calpundit, Michael Totten, and a bunch of bloggers in between; they’re universally embarrassed and angry at her – as am I.

But I thought I’d have some fun and see where the mainstream press is on this; at 8:15pm Pacific, here’s what we have:

New York Times: zip – ‘There were no matches for your search “Corrine Brown” / past 30 days’

Los Angeles Times: nada – ‘No matches found on search for: “Corrine Brown”‘

Chicago Tribune: gornisht – ‘No articles found on search for: “Corrine Brown”‘

Washington Post: fahgeddit – ‘No Results Found’

USA Today: nope, nothing here – ‘Your search – “Corinne Brown” – did not match any documents.’

These, along with the Wall Street Journal, pretty much define the print media’s view of the news.So we’ll add: found one 1998 article naming her

and two articles, neither mentioning this

FOX News has something (of course, it’s dinging a Democrat): ‘Rep. Brown Apologizes for ‘White Men’ Comment

(her apology is in principle a good thing, but qualified, of course:

Brown also wrote a letter to Noriega, in which she apologized again “if what I said was construed as a personal affront.”

“The State Department delegation that came to meet with us did not include any females or people of color. Given the racial makeup of the people of Haiti, who are 95 percent of African descent, I felt the delegation and the delegation’s position were callous and out of touch with the needs (cultural and otherwise) of the Haitian people,” she wrote.


Look, based on this incident and her handling of it, she’s a fool (not alone in Congress) and acted like an ass. I do think black racism is real, and amazingly counterproductive at this point in history. But lots of whites are cranky about race, and why should I expect black people to be any different. I’m not pissed about what she did – her constituents should be, but like Maxine Waters’ doubtless aren’t.

I am incredibly pissed (as usual) as the weak-ass response from the media, who place smiling pictures of third-rate celebrity Rosie O’Donnell and her missus in the news hole, and can’t be bothered to cover issues like this. If I’ve gotten nothing else from blogging than my distrust and disrespect for mainstream media, it’s been a damn good thing to have done.


* Trusting the Media: Joe chimes in with some tips from Orson Scott Card, incl. media sources he still trusts from the left and right.
* My follow-up article, Racism Redux.

Bonds. State Bonds.

Back from Chicago last night; cold, sad, alien to me in a lot of ways (I’m not someone who’s used to saying grace at every meal, much less an involved, actual prayer as opposed to a “thanks for the grub, yay God” type grace) but a fitting conclusion to a life and another bolt in the scaffolding I will spend a lifetime to erect tying me to TG and her family.

And now back to blogging.

Kevin (Calpundit) Drum has a post on the California propositions, specifically the proposition issuing $15 Billion (with a B) in bonds to cover the overspending and undertaxing of the last three years of the Davis Administration.

He links to a great (technical) explanation (pdf file) of the various debt instruments floating around out there.

Then he sets out his position on the bond issue:

Rather, California has $14 billion in short term debt that we have to pay off in June. That’s what the bonds are for.

But if the bond measure doesn’t pass (and if the legislature’s bonds get overturned in court), what can we do? Answer: we can issue more short term debt.

Now, there are indeed problems with this. The short term debt would be issued at a higher interest rate, it would put a pretty tight straitjacket on state spending, and it would have to be paid back fairly quickly.

However, it wouldn’t be fiscal Armageddon. What it would be is a firm order to the legislature to raise taxes and cut spending in order to pay off the short term debt. This is what should have happened years ago, and painful as it may be, it’s now obvious to me that this is still an option.

Arnold wants to have it both ways: he wants to have a tax cut and he wants a bond measure to help finance it. This is almost Kafka-esque irresponsibility and I think it’s time to cut the crap. The only way to get ourselves out of the mess we’re in is via both spending cuts and tax increases.

So despite the undoubted problems it’s going to cause, I think Californians ought to vote No on 57. Combined with a Yes vote on 56, which allows the legislature to raise taxes, and the line item veto, which allows every California governor to cut spending to his heart’s content, we have all the tools we need to bring the budget into balance.

It’s time for everyone to grow up. If the credit card is a bad idea next year, it’s a bad idea this year too. Let’s go ahead and tear it up.

It’s kind of an appealing position, and I’m tempted, but won’t bite.

Really, for two reasons:

First, because I know too many people at the local government level who will get slaughtered by this; as I noted a while ago, the common pattern is to shove the problem downstream by hammering the budget crisis down one level – federal to state, state to local – and the reality is that the crisis will hit hardest at the lowest levels of government, where the rubber meets the road. The crisis might be short-term, but it still will be hard as hell.

Second, because there is nothing in his mix of Yes on Prop 56 and No on Prop 57 that will convince me that spending will really be capped; Kevin convieniently ignores 58, which mandates a balanced budget and reserve, and sets some Draconian penalties for failure to enact the balanced budget or respond to a declaration of financial emergency by the Governor (note: Kevin did endorse it earlier).

I’m dubious about 56; I may support it, but I’d be more interested if it (a reduction in the 2/3 supermajority California requires to pass a budget) was tied to something improving our horribly gerrymandered legislative districts. I’ll make up my mind on this one in the next few days.

I will vote Yes on 58, and I also will vote Yes on 57.

Maybe I’ve had too much experience doing workouts in business, where the first issue is to establish liquidity and get out of the short-term debt crisis-to-crisis lending cycle.

Kevin is right about managing household finances (something I ought be better at); but he’s wrong about corporate ones. And I’ll argue with some conviction that the finances involved in running the state are closer to that – to complex corporate finance – than to homilies about individual fiscal responsibility.

I wish we didn’t have to mandate a balanced budget. I wish we segregated capital expenditures and amortized them over their lifetime in the budget, instead of paying for them up front.

Hell, I wish for lots of things.

But since I picked up our wedding rings today, I’m sure that at least some of them are going to come true.

Gerrymandering, Again

The New York Times has jumped on the gerrymandering bandwagon.

Totalitarian nations hold elections, but what sets democracies apart is offering real choices in elections. In recent years, contests for the House of Representatives and state legislatures have looked more and more like the Iraqi election in 2002, when Saddam Hussein claimed 100 percent of the vote for his re-election.

In that same year in the United States, 80 of the 435 House races did not even include candidates from both major parties. Congressional races whose outcomes were in real doubt were a rarity: nearly 90 percent had a margin of victory of 10 percentage points or more. It is much the same at the state level, only worse. In New York, more than 98 percent of the state legislators who run for re-election win, usually overwhelmingly. Anyone who knows anything about New York’s state government knows that’s not because the populace is thrilled with the job they’re doing.

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I have:

…talk about domestic politics, and an unintended consequence of the information revolution – paralyzed legislative bodies, unable to come to grips with the real issues facing the various states and the nation and exempt from punishment by the electorate. That’s right, unless you are meaningfully accused of murder (Gary Condit), incumbency is essentially considered a property right these days.

There are a number of reasons, and I’ll focus here on one…reapportionment …[more]


Went to the LA Press Club booksigning for ‘Hollywood Interrupted’ last night; and reminded myself why it is that I enjoy blogging so much – because it has offered me an opportunity meet (and argue heatedly with) all kinds of smart & interesting people. Steve Smith was there, as was Cathy Seipp, Rand Simberg, and a bunch of others I’d remember if I was getting more sleep these days. I had a great conversation with the local Le Monde correspondent about coming events in les banlieues, and I think we even managed to frighten birthday-girl Jill Stewart a bit.

Had one short discussion about why I was “Armed Liberal” with some boho Silverlake folks, and we touched on the war. Their core position was that the war was wrong to begin with, and now that we haven’t found warehouses full of WMD, the lies that were used in promoting the war were an issue as well.

I was in too good a mood to engage, and so we chatted about culture and other areas of mutual agreement, and then I went home and read the book for a while (comments to follow later, time permitting).

Then, today, I was in the doctor’s office (all good), and picked up a copy of the New Yorker. First, a great article about one of my favorite artists, Joseph Cornell. Then a new John McPhee article (he was the Langwiesche before Langwiesche). Then an article by Nicholas Lemann, no fan of the war, caught my attention.The article is called ‘After Iraq’, and is available here. A couple of quotes:

Has a war ever been as elaborately justified in advance as the coming war with Iraq? Because this war is not being undertaken in direct response to a single shattering event (it’s been nearly a year and a half since the September 11th attacks), and because the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein has been Washington’s main preoccupation for the better part of a year, the case for war has grown so large and variegated that its very multiplicity has become a part of the case against it. In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular. In addition, Bush hinted at the possibility that Saddam might attack the United States or enable someone else to do so. There are so many reasons for going to war floating around at least some of which, taken alone, either are nothing new or do not seem to point to Iraq specifically as the obvious place to wage it that those inclined to suspect the motives of the Administration have plenty of material with which to argue that it is being disingenuous. So, along with all the stated reasons, there is a brisk secondary traffic in “real” reasons, which are similarly numerous and do not overlap: the country is going to war because of a desire to control Iraqi oil, or to help Israel, or to avenge Saddam’s 1993 assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush.

Yet another argument for war, which has emerged during the last few months, is that removing Saddam could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural, and economic climate of the Arab Middle East. To give one of many possible examples, Fouad Ajami, an expert on the Arab world who is highly respected inside the Bush Administration, proposes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that the United States might lead “a reformist project that seeks to modernize and transform the Arab landscape. Iraq would be the starting point, and beyond Iraq lies an Arab political and economic tradition and a culture whose agonies have been on cruel display.” The Administration’s main public proponent of this view is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who often speaks about the possibility that war in Iraq could help bring democracy to the Arab Middle East. President Bush appeared to be making the same point in the State of the Union address when he remarked that “all people have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.”

Even those suffering from justification fatigue ought to pay special attention to this one, because it goes beyond the category of reasons offered in support of a course of action that has already been decided upon and set in motion. Unlike the other justifications, it is both a reason for war and a plan for the future.

I asked Feith whether an American military victory in Iraq could help curb terrorism by organizations like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, which operate with the support of other countries in the region. He nodded. “One of the principal strategic thoughts underlying our strategy in the war on terrorism is the importance of the connection between terrorist organizations and their state sponsors,” he said. “Terrorist organizations cannot be effective in sustaining themselves over long periods of time to do large-scale operations if they don’t have support from states. They need a base of operations. They need other types of assets that they get from their connection with their state sponsors whether it’s funding, or headquarters, or, in some cases, the use of diplomatic pouches and other types of facilities. And one of the principal reasons that we are focussed on Iraq as a threat to us and to our interests is because we are focussed on this connection between three things: terrorist organizations, state sponsors, and weapons of mass destruction. If we were to take military action and vindicate our principles, in the war on terrorism, against Iraq, I think it would” he paused, looking for the right word “register with other countries around the world that are sponsoring terrorism, and would perhaps change their own cost-benefit calculations about their role in connection with terrorist networks. I think this process got under way with Afghanistan. There you had a regime that was ousted because of its support for terrorist operations against the United States. If the Iraqi regime gets ousted because it ultimately proves unwilling to disarm itself in a coöperative fashion with the U.N., and if the United States leads a coalition and overthrows that government, I think that the combination of those two actions will influence the thinking of other states about how advisable it is for them to continue to provide safe harbor or other types of support to terrorist organizations.”

Because they’d think they might be ousted next? “Perhaps,” Feith said. “Or just because I think that we may be on the way to creating a new international way of thinking, a new international norm, about terrorism. If you look at the national-security-strategy document that the White House put out, it says that our goal is to make terrorism like piracy, the slave trade, or genocide in the minds of people around the world. It is to delegitimate terrorism as an activity, as a practice. This can’t be done solely by military means, but it is interesting how military action sometimes reinforces philosophical messages.”

A few things should be said about this vision of the near-term future in the Middle East. It is breathtakingly ambitious and optimistic. It might plausibly be described as a spreading of democracy but, perhaps more important, it would also involve, as the “Clean Break” paper said, forcefully altering the regional balance of power. And it differs greatly from the vision of the future of the Middle East that will prevail among liberals, both here and abroad, after the war in Iraq. It treats Pan-Arab nationalism as illegitimate. It does not accept the widespread assumption that no regional good can follow the fall of Saddam unless peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority begin immediately. And it sees the fall of Saddam Hussein less as the end of a great diplomatic and military effort than as a step in an ongoing process.

Honestly, I hadn’t read this article until today; many of the sources for it have written things that informed my own thinking on Iraq (which happens to line up almost exactly with the position described in the article); and I bring the article up today, not to pat my head and remind everyone how smart my rationales for the war were.

I do it because the article was published in the New Yorker in February of 2003 – well before the war; and it suggests that there was a lively public dialog around the reasons for the war that went far beyond WMD – a position that many of my colleagues don’t accept.

We live in an era of data overload, where too much data about too many things is available, and readily searchable backward in time. That presents a problem, in some ways, because it means that our ability to set and keep memories is somehow weakened and that it’s all too easy to go back and remake them.

In the torrent of discussion and argument about the war, WMD certainly played a significant role – but my waiting-room discovery today should remind us that it was not the only one.

Iranian Blog Status?

Here’s a report on Potestas that Iranian blogs and websites are being blocked.

the main reformists websites are still blocked.if the reformist want to continute the battle for democracy they should pay more attention to internet and cyber space.they should use the coming months in parliment and prepare the enough laws for filtering.they should not lose this chance again.they also can impeach the ICT minister for blocking hundreds of political websites and weblogs.
i think what we need is some serious international action regarding the filtering.a report like what harvard berkman institute prepared for china can be the first step toward this issue.
ben edelman and colleagues at harvard listen our voice and be quick.

Browsing around the few that I know, I’m seeing no 2/20 posts; that certainly not definitive and my Iranian reformer blog list is uncertain.

Anyone know more about this, one way or the other?


Well, it will happen to us all, and yesterday it happened to TG’s father, who died suddenly. He’d been ill, and we’d actually advanced the wedding date to try and make sure he could be there and share the fun. Sadly, that didn’t work out. She got back to Chicago in time to be with him and her family when they decided to end life support, and she’s having a good, close time with her brother and mother. I’ll fly back over the weekend, and be there for the funeral.

He was the epitome of an average man; a retired postal worker – USPS for his entire career, active in his church and not much else as far as I can find out.

But I’ll say one thing writing in this blog has done for me is to strip away the notions that I once had which told me that wasn’t a good thing. Because I’ve come to realize that we are a nation of average men and women, who live and die to no great notice, and that fact is our greatness and power.

We don’t need Alcibiades. We had Willie and Joe. And TG’s dad.