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Showing posts from August, 2016

Why I'm Leaving Twitter. (I Think)

Last night, I deactivated my Twitter account.
I’ve done this a couple of times in the past when I wanted to dim the noise of social media that was flooding my brain, but I think this time it’s permanent. I’m not sure. The rush of constantly updated stuff — Information? Gossip? Debate? — has appeal to a guy like me. It’s possible, in fact, that I’m an addict.
Which is reason enough to pull away: I’ve spent too many evenings dicking around, flipping from Twitter’s stream to Facebook’s stream back to Twitter’s stream — all while a book sat just a few inches away from me, begging to be read.
Lest this come off as a “It’s not you, it’s me,” breakup letter, let me be clear: The problem isn’t just me — it’s also Twitter.

Trump, Second Amendment, Revolution: Continued

Sometimes this happens: You write a post, publish it, shut the computer down, eat lunch, and realize there's a shorter, better way of saying it.

Let's boil it down:

• Donald Trump's "Second Amendment People" comment seemed to suggest that Hillary Clinton could be assassinated if she appointed judges disliked by Second Amendment advocates.

• My friends Ben and Julie responded by saying that's not necessarily what he meant, but that the right of rebellion is enshrined in the Second Amendment, so whatever.

• And what I was trying to say is: "Who wants your rebellion?"

Here's the thing to consider: We Americans have a rosy, Star Wars view of revolution — good guys versus bad guys, no moral ambiguities to make you feel icky, no weighing of interests to be done. The real world, even our own revolution, didn't work out that way. Lots of perfectly nice, morally upright people were happy to be subjects of the British Empire!

So if the "sovereign …

Trump's "Second Amendment People": So You Say You Want a Revolution?

My conservative co-writer Ben Boychuk and our mutual conservative friend Julie Ponzi take turns this week trying to defend — or explain — Donald Trump's discussion of how "Second Amendment People" might try to undo the horrors of a Hillary Clinton presidency. (Yeah, that was several scandals ago, but sometimes these things are worth extended pondering.)

First up, Ben:

Hewitt asked Trump if he intended to incite violence against Clinton. “No, of course not, and people know that,” Trump replied. “We’re talking about the power of the voter. We’re talking about the tremendous power, and you understand this probably better than anybody, the power behind the Second Amendment, the strength behind the Second Amendment.”  That’s pretty deft. In the United States, with the exception of an unpleasant period between 1861 and 1865, we settle our political differences with ballots, not bullets. But the Second Amendment is a lot like the nuclear deterrent the Republican national securi…

Kansans in Congress: Here's Why Pat Roberts Is Backing Trump

Test-piloting a feature here at the blog: “Kansans in Congress” — a roundup of coverage at the local, regional, and national level of our state’s congressional delegation. Let me know if you like it, hate it, or if there are sources I need to be eyeballing when I do this roundup.

Pat Roberts advises Donald Trump on farm issues: Donald Trump can’t quite secure the explicit backing of the GOP’s leading figures, but Sen. Pat Roberts has jumped in with both feet — no backhanded nose-holding kinda-endorsement for him: He’s joined Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee. How much advising they’ll do remains to be seen, but it’s actually easy to see why Roberts joined up: Farmers might be Trump’s most loyal base of voters: “The latest Farm Futures survey shows that farmers prefer Republican Donald Trump to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Trump led Clinton 73% to 10% in the survey of 1,178 farmers conducted July 18-Aug. 3.” (Editor’s note: !!!!! That would be great for…

I Miss Sidewalks (And I Don't Want to Die Walking to School)

Ok, I'm going to try to make this the last time I gripe about this, but:

I miss sidewalks.

Some of my Lawrence friends have already heard me opine on this topic, but I'm going to put it on the record: Center City Philadelphia was a wonderful place to be a pedestrian — so wonderful, in fact, that we sold our car soon after moving there, realizing it was a bigger pain in the butt to keep a car there (especially price-wise) than it was to have easy access to wheels. Groceries, libraries, parks, schools, and much more were all within an easy 15-minute walk, and every block was bounded on all four sides by sidewalks.

In Lawrence: There is no sidewalk in front of our house.

Scratch that: There is a sidewalk — but we have to cross the street to get to it. Not a big deal, right?

Except for this: School starts on Wednesday. For us, there are two ways to get T's new school — Ninth Street and Yale Road.

Ninth Street has a sidewalk the whole way, though it's also got decent incli…

This Woman Worked Hard to Overcome Her Racism. So Why Are We Ridiculing Her?

I'm a bit disturbed by this post at Vox, about a woman whose daughter married a black man — causing the woman to recognize, then work to overcome her racism. The article she then wrote has become the target of ridicule, enough that she's had it removed from the website where it appeared.

You can see why this post, which the author almost certainly thought was a message about tolerance, was read differently by people who were irked by the idea that accepting a person of a different race would be a major feat requiring point-by-point instructions and a mandate from God.I shudder to think of how she would have treated this person if she hadn’t found a biblical angle that mandated seeing him as human, or if she embraced a different interpretation of scripture. I mean: This is just liberal snootiness. And I say this as a snooty liberal!

I don't like racism. I hate it. I'm sorry that this woman's racism was so ingrained that it created issues within and for her famil…

Back in Lawrence (Or: You Can Go Home Again. Kinda.)

Even as we prepared to return to Lawrence, the place that felt the most like “home” during my adult years, I kept repeating the following to myself:
You can’t go home again. You can’t go home again. You can’t go home again.
I’d lived here eight years — most of them encompassing the last, most fun part of my extended bachelorhood — then been gone eight years. I had changed: A child, settled firmly into marriage, my body broken by surgery, my spirit humbled (and saddened) by age and the knowledge that life, my life anyway, is not the series of ever-greater achievements that I once expected it to be.
The town had changed, too. There are new, taller buildings downtown, a sign that this small town is determined to join the ranks of cities. Some old favorite businesses are closed; some new restaurants have popped up. The newspaper where I spent my favorite professional years has been sold and reduced staff. My friends are older; in the intervening years, many of them had become parents, or fou…

Topeka Is No Joke

True story: When we realized we were moving back to Kansas, my wife and I briefly considered moving to Topeka.

Really. After eight years in Philadelphia, it seemed like Kansas’ capital city might be a good match for us. It’s more urban, more working class, and less white than the state surrounding it. That’s terrain we’d gotten used to. Lawrence, for all its advantages — a smart, educated population, as well as kick-ass music and arts scenes — can sometimes seem insulated from reality, a mini-Portlandia on the Plains. Topeka seemed like a refreshing dose of reality.

The notion lasted about 24 hours. Our friends are in Lawrence. And that seemed to be what we needed most.

Then, right before we moved back, this happened:

Expressing his displeasure with City Manager Tom Markus' budget recommendations, including cuts to the Lawrence Arts Center and the lack of funding for the proposed East Ninth Street project, Commissioner Matthew Herbert made some comparisons between the Lawrence and To…

Why I'm Subscribing to the Lawrence Journal-World

My return to Lawrence, Kansas coincided with an epochal moment in the city’s history: After 125 years of ownership by the Simons family, the Lawrence Journal-World passed to the ownership of Ogden Newspapers, a West Virginia company with newspapers all over this great country.

One consequence of the new ownership: A lot of longtime employees lost their jobs.

None of this is a surprise, exactly. Lawrence hasn’t been immune to the newspaper industry’s overall decline over the last decade; the Simons family decided they couldn’t sustain the cost anymore, and Ogden apparently decided the paper would only be sustainable at a smaller size. Even before the sale, there was less LJW than there used to be, as both the staff and the paper had shrunk in fits and starts over time.

Even though I’m a Journal-World alum, I thought about skipping a subscription when we returned. Used copies of the paper are easy enough to find on coffee shop tables or at libraries in town; I wasn’t sure the cost — $18.…


I sang 606 this morning.
Funny thing about 606 — something Mennonites know, but you might not — is that 606 isn’t actually even 606 in the hymnal anymore. Oh, it was a long time ago. These days, it’s No. 118. However. Mennonites like their traditions, and even though 606 hasn’t been 606 for ages, it’s still known as 606. The hymnal even makes a concession to this in the index. Next to the song’s title, in parentheses, it helpfully explains that name and location aside, this is the 606 you’re looking for.
This is 606. The doxology.

Now. It’s been a few years since I was officially Christian. I sometimes describe myself as “lapsed Mennonite,” but that’s kind of a half-assed way of maintaining connection to the faith. I’m agnostic, if I’m honest. But in kind of a half-assed way.
But damn, that’s some beautiful hymn singing. The congregation I sang with this morning was just a fraction the size of the one in this video, but they gave it their all. I suspect all it takes is two Mennonites gath…

Don't Tread on Me (Or: Is the Obama Administration Really Trying to Ban the Gadsden Flag?) (No.)

The latest non-Trump scandal du jour among conservatives is the reported effort by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to consider whether the display of a Gadsden Flag in the workplace amounts to racial harassment. It was first reported by Eugene Volokh here. Here's National Review's take on the topic:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that displaying the Gadsden Flag in the workplace — the yellow flag with the words Don’t Tread on Me below a coiled rattlesnake — may be punishable racial harassment. In case you’re wondering: That’s it. That’s the extent of the offense. There were no racist statements. No slurs. No threatening looks. A dude wore a cap. Ah, but: Complainant maintains that the Gadsden Flag is a “historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party.”As Hillary Clinton would say: Sigh. There is no evidence that the Tea Party as a movement was motivated by racial animus (even some of the “racist” epi…

Why are evangelicals supporting Trump? (Try abortion.)

Damon Linker muses at The Week:
Why would voters who engage in politics in large part because of their attachment to a social-conservative agenda rally around a blustering, bragging vulgarian who's on his third marriage; who specializes in such un-Christ-like behavior as mocking a reporter with a disability; who favors such policies as rounding up and deporting millions, torturing terrorism suspects, banning the members of specific religions from entering the United States, and striking first with nuclear weapons; and perhaps most pertinent of all, who shows no interest in, knowledge of, or sympathy for the social-conservative agenda? Linker goes on to list a variety of reasons — ranging from a seemingly misguided belief that Trump has recently accepted Jesus into his heart to (more to the point) a belief that Trump will basically act as a mob enforcer "protecting" their neighborhood. One word Linker surprisingly never uses: Abortion.

Here's Pew: 
About half of white …