The Kerfuffle About Covfefe

First, let me speculate on the old word “covfefe.” Although over the months there has been much speculation about what the originally intended word might have been (if indeed an actual word was intended at all) — “coverage” came up as a possibility. Personally, I’ve always felt “kerfuffle” was the target word.

I believe “covfefe” was supposed to mean “kerfuffle” but Our Leader can’t spell and also has not learned how to use Google to find a missed spelling. So he just throws stuff into Twitter without regard for the language. He has no regard for the constitution, so what’s another English word or three?

Kerfuffle is not easy to spell and since he can’t spell even simple words, he certainly can’t spell that one. It means “a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.” Kind of where the world is at. Truth be known, try writing “kerfuffle” on your phone and watch auto-correct go wacko.

Our leader, Lord Pit-of-Evil, believes he is a legend. 

If he is a legend, it is from a collective nightmare of our nation. For those of us who had nightmares concerning “the state of the state,” this is the guy we were sure we could never have to govern us because we have laws. Rules.

Our constitution has always survived the assholes. I feel obliged to remind everyone that he is not the first or only asshole to make it to the top of our political ladder. There have been others. More than one. If there were social media when Andrew Jackson was president, it would have been pretty much like this. Or worse. He personally slaughtered entire Native tribes. Unabashedly, with vigor and verve. And you don’t even want to know about his personal life.

I have saved this favorite bit of cartooning from the New Yorker for today. It is exactly how I feel.

WHAT’S AT STAKE – Jan Wilberg

As a young woman, one of the few major triumphs socially and politically for women was when in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled birth control legal — for married couples and later for everyone — and then, in 1973, came Roe v. Wade. Until those two decisions, women weren’t full and free citizens. A man could make a baby and walk away. A woman could not.

I and most other women believed we won that battle. We had won the right to decide what was right for our bodies. To be equals to the men in our world. Never did any of us imagine that as senior citizens, we’d find ourselves fighting the battle again.

I believe we will win this again, as we did before. I do not believe the courts will undo a couple of generations of law to make some old white men feel more powerful … but it’s a strange world into which we have roamed. I suppose anything is possible.

And now, from Jan Wilberg: WHAT’S AT STAKE.

noun: the action of bringing someone or something under domination or control

The guys in Washington can puff themselves up and talk all they want about their belief that life begins at conception, that the ‘unborn’ have rights that take priority over a living, breathing, born woman, that overturning Roe v. Wade would right a 45-year old wrong and set this country on a path of morality and righteousness. They lie.

All of this fervor to pack the Supreme Court with a solid anti-choice majority is about one single thing: subjugation.

The linchpin of gender equality is control over one’s own person. My husband controls his body. I control mine. Taken more broadly, men control their bodies. Women control theirs. That’s what we have now, more or less, although creeping restrictions on birth control benefits and access to abortion services erode this notion.

However, if one gender controls their person but the other cannot, then the two genders are not equal. In the event of an overturned Roe v. Wade, the genders would again become quite unequal with men having full agency over themselves while women’s agency is limited, proscribed, and subject to government intervention.

Taken a step further, if a pregnancy results from the actions of a man and a woman, it will be only the woman’s body subject to external review. The guy can pretend it never happened.

I know how this works. I lived through it.

I became pregnant before Roe v. Wade. I’ll die before I get the image of being completely trapped out of my head, a young, witless woman with no money, no options, boxed in by secrecy and shame, fraught with fear, fear of being found out, fear of doing something illegal, fear of getting hurt or worse. Just utterly trapped.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend was unmarked, he had not a single stain, he was unscathed. A not unkind person, he was, just by virtue of his gender, filled with options, not the least of which was driving away. How is this fair? I thought at the time, that I should be so stricken by this situation and he can be so free?

Because, dear one, you and your boyfriend are not equal. He controls his body. You do not.

How do I say this to women in the plainest possible way? If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the government will control what is happening inside your body. 

Years ago, I did abortion clinic defense with a friend of mine who was a devout Catholic. I would pick her up early in the morning and we’d drive to whatever clinic was being targeted that day by the anti-abortion protesters being bused in from other states. Once there, we would link arms with hundreds of other people, women in suits on their way to their office jobs, college students with Rasta hair, men wearing feminist t-shirts, and the protesters would yell at us, really yell at us, inches from our faces.

“Would you ever have an abortion?” I asked my friend one morning, the sun just barely up and the grass wet beneath our feet.

“Never in a million years,” she answered.

We pulled our linked arms closer so there was no space between us, each of us clenching our hands together into tight, strong fists. What we stood for was clear – our right to be in control of our own bodies, our own lives, our own beliefs, no one telling another what she should do. Freedom.

LEGALIZING THE RIGHT TO A GOOD LIFE is my own take on the matter and you are welcome to peruse it at your leisure.


Photo by Jose Fontano on Unsplash

via What’s At Stake


What About Obama?  Huh? by Rich Paschall

You may have heard of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, aka the Great Debates of 1858.  Yes, this is history and there may be a quiz at the end so pay attention.

Abraham Lincoln and the incumbent Senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, held a series of debates around the state trying to sway voters on the important issues of the day.  Each hoped their party would control the state legislature, as US Senators were chosen by the legislature, not by popular vote.  Lincoln was well-received at the debates, but Douglas was elected Senator.

We know how it turned out for Lincoln two years later.

Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A . Douglas

Now Lincoln-Douglas debates are mostly a high school competition.  They are “values” debates where students often argue the greater good.

“Solvency” is not an issue.  A debater does not have to know how to implement a solution, just should be better for society.  Of course, he/she will attempt to bring into evidence material from authoritative sources to bolster his/her position.

One of the suggested topics for the coming year is Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.  There is no need to say how this should be applied, but that there are situations when it should or could be.  Historical examples would provide support.  Law and order arguments may be common on the negative.

These debates, like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, are one-on-one.  The first speaker has a set time. The second speaker a slightly longer period, then the first speaker gets a rebuttal interval.  Total speaking times end up the same.  The first speaker may have a plan. The second speaker may have a counter-plan or could argue that no plan is reasonable under the resolution.

Shouting, name calling, unsupported positions all result in a ballot for the opposition by the judge. Contestants must research, write, think, and propose.  Obviously, acting like modern-day politicians would not produce a winner.

So-called debate

Two man team debate, also known as Policy Debate, will propose a resolution where the tactic not only includes interpreting the resolution but also implementing a solution.  Some debaters may have so many points to make that they speak quickly.  The judge will usually take notes to be sure that the speakers arguments flow logically from point-to-point.  Both speakers on each side of the debate topic make a presentation, both are cross-examined.  Then each speaks in rebuttal.  In many leagues, constructives are 8 -minutes, cross-examinations are 3-minutes, and rebuttals are 5-minutes long.

You’d better come prepared!

A topic for next season’s two-man debate will be Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its restrictions on legal immigration to the United States

The topics for the debate season are often timely and include something prominently in the news.

Debaters must research both sides of the issue as they will be called upon to be on the affirmative or negative, depending on the debate or round within a debate.  In mid-summer, debaters are already starting to study the issues and gather evidence pro and con.  There will be no flippant remarks, insults of opponents, or made up evidence.  General and stereotypical comments mean nothing without support.  Judges will dismiss these comments. and opponents are wise to challenge them.

Because there are obvious “stock issues” implied with any current events topic, it is incumbent upon the debaters to deal with these intelligently.  Bombast and supposition will not do.  Instead, they must deal with the significance of the issue, solvency of the plan they present, the harms of the status quo or the affirmative plan, and the advantages of one side along with disadvantages of the other.

A key part of any debate is “Topicality.” With time to fill in rebuttals and possibly cross examinations too, it becomes important to stay on topic.  With an audience of debaters and judges taking notes, you can not stray into areas that are “Extra Topical.”  There are no random viewers waiting for a debater to pull out stock arguments on other topics or to launch into inane attacks on the opponent.  It’s just critical thinkers judging the merits of the debate.

Why do we bring you this small lesson in the fine art of debate? Perhaps you have noticed that debate is a lost art in the political arena, television news shows, and especially social media.  In the last election, you saw one party presenting something other than primary debates.  Even as an entertainment show, it was generally lacking in substance.  The other side had two candidates who actually seemed to study the topics, but they also found time to present “extra-topical” discussion points.

The presidential “debates” that followed frequently strayed off topic.  One candidate spent time talking about other administrations rather than what he would do as president.  The attempt to belittle your opponent through insults to family and associates may influence some viewers, but it would not work well with debate judges.

On my Facebook news feed, I see “discussions” of a social or political nature often degenerate into a series of personal attacks and Extra-Topical points.  One friend often posts news articles on current social issues.  A person I am acquainted with will usually make a comment on sanctuary cities.

If I point out the topic has nothing to do with these cities, he tells me to wake up!  For him, that is the only topic which really matters.

Another friend likes to engage me in a debate.  I try not to fall for it anymore.  If he says something about 45, I might respond (on topic), “As a former military man, how do you feel about Trump sharing military secrets with the North Koreans or Russians?”

The response is likely to be “What about Obama?  Huh?  You never said anything against him when he was president.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“You weren’t listening.”

“Well, what about Obama? Huh?”

There is no staying on topic sometimes.  It is particularly frustrating if you are a debate coach or judge.

DO YOU “DO” PROUST? – Marilyn Armstrong

I got this one from THE PATIENCE OF WILLOW.  

If you’d like to copy the questions yourself without having to delete my answers, just click on the above link.

Anyway, this questionnaire, popularized by Proust, according to Vanity Fair (from whence it sprang), has been making the rounds. I, myself got it from Willow who got it from Embeecee.

Here are the questions — with my answers. As I said, if you want the questions without the answers, just click on the link.

The Proust Questionnaire had its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that in answering these questions, an individual revealed his or her true nature.

So, is this my “true” nature? I have no idea what my true nature really is because I have been in a state of permanent change as long as I’ve been alive. So have fun. Just … don’t get too serious. I’ve never much cared for Proust or his writing.

Also, there are no answers, right or wrong. So no matter what you say, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to prove. Quizzes without answers are kind of weird, don’t you think?

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My life with about twice the income and enough savings to cover “stuff” that comes up. Also, add to that, good health, a sturdy, comfortable car with 4-wheel drive, happy dogs, someone to come in twice a week to clean. An on-call driver so neither one of us has to drive plus someone sturdy, young, and interested to take care of the house. Heavy stuff, like snow shoveling, serious cleaning.

Can I also get a cook a few times a week? Not every night. Just a few nights … like maybe three? That would do it for me!

__2.__What is your greatest fear?

Spiders in the bed.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Talking too much and thinking too little.

__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Stupidity, ignorance, bigotry, and bad speech.

__5.__Which living person do you most admire?

Admire? Maybe, at this exact moment in time, Elizabeth Warren. You could ask me this tomorrow and I’d say something different. I am not embarrassed that I change my opinions. Isn’t change what it’s all about?

__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?

Housewares. Linens, blankets, towels, bathmats. Cookware. And, sadly, antiques.

__7.__What is your current state of mind?

Pretty good. A little worried about stuff coming up. Garry’s surgery. His recovery.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Hoping that I’m able to do what I need to do. I have good days and not such good days. I need a bunch of good ones all strung together. I absolutely do NOT have time for bad days!

__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Some people think I’m a lot wise than I am. My “wisdom” is more like a compilation of tens of thousands books I’ve read, conversations I’ve had, the courses I’ve taken. It’s not me. It’s all the authors I’ve read, conversations I’ve had. The great thoughts of other people I’ve absorbed.

I try to leave a little room for a few knickknacks too. Fit them in with all the books …

Maybe that really IS wisdom, but I’ve always thought wisdom was more Zen and magic, and less like research.

__9.__On what occasion do you lie?

I always tell people they look fabulous, no matter what I really think. Everyone needs a boost. No one wants to hear they look like crap.

__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I look kind of like a stump with a bad back. I try not to look very hard. It is what it is and at least I can still walk. Or limp.

Marilyn can still walk! Photo: Garry Armstrong

Whatever you call it, I can still do it. On my own and these days, that’s no small thing.

__11.__Which living person do you most despise?

Donald Trump.

__12.__What is the quality you most like in a man?

Intelligent openness. The ability to understand — to “get it” — the first time and the openness to accept ideas that are new and might require change.

__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Same as for a man plus a determination to laugh at tragedy.

__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Really. Very. Actually. I am an adverbial overdoser.

__15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?


__16.__When and where were you happiest?

The past 30 years have been great. Yes, I know. I had cancer twice and major heart surgery and I forget how many other illnesses and surgeries … but still, they have been great years.

I have never been happier, even when everything seemed to be falling apart, including me.

__17.__Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could still sing. I miss my voice.

__18.__If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d make my back function like a real spine!

__19.__What do you consider your greatest achievement?


__20.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I can’t answer that. I have no idea.

__21.__Where would you most like to live?

I’m pretty happy here, actually. If we could also take a midwinter vacation to someplace warm — Arizona for example — it would be perfect.

I like the seasons and I love New England. It just isn’t my favorite place in the middle of winter.

__22.__What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t think I have one. I have many things I love and enjoy, but “most treasured” implies a level of caring for a “thing” that I no longer possess. It’s one of those time-sensitive issues.

“Things” meant more to me when I was younger than they do now. I am more inclined to love living things than inanimate things.

__23.__What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Growing up. Childhood was ugly.

__24.__What is your favorite occupation?


__25.__What is your strongest characteristic?

I can write.

__26.__What do you most value in friends?


__27.__Who are your favorite writers?

That’s not fair. I like many authors and who is at the top depends on the genre and my current mood. And what I read last.

__28.__Who is your fictional hero?

Do I have a fictional hero? If you’d asked me that as a kid, I’d probably have said “The Black Stallion.” He might still be my hero. I really like horses.

__29.__Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Identify with as in “feel some sense of being like them?” Or is this an “I wish I was like” sort of question?

Eleanor with Franklin D. Roosevelt. By Effanbee, 1985

I wish I were Eleanor Roosevelt, but I’m not. Many of the people I identify with have lived a life similar to my own. They are not necessarily the people I most admire, but I understand them. I “get” them.

__30.__Who are your heroes in real life?

And still handsome.

Garry is. My friends are also my heroes. They live real lives and overcome real adversity. And they laugh anyway.

__31.__What are your favorite names?

I don’t really have favorite names. I had a terrible time picking a name for my own baby. I had thousands of potential names and picking one was really hard. Fortunately, I had a husband with a passion for awful names so, anything he suggested, I automatically rejected. He weeded out a lot of bad ones for me.

If he liked it, I just knew it would be cruel to a child. Gwynellin? Seriously?

__32.__What is it that you most dislike?


__33.__What is your greatest regret?

Not saving more money. Or possibly, not earning more money that I could save. Maybe these are the same thing.

Regardless, I think you can put it down to my haunting lack of ambition.

__34.__How would you like to die?

Quickly and painlessly.

__35.__What is your motto?

Do the most you can with what you’ve got. Life won’t be perfect, but you will have given it your best shot.

So now that I’ve filled it all the answers, how do I find out what my true nature is? Anyone have any ideas? I’m listening.

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