My dear dog Lupine was perfect. He was a perfect dog in every way. He could kill any raccoon no matter how big or how much it tore him up, but he was docile with us and eager to please. He followed me from room to room all day, my silent adoring shadow. We had an old wing back chair bought for 5 dollars at a yard sale thirty years ago. The worn arms were already patched with purple corduroy when we got it. My oldest daughter asked if she could take it with her to her new place because it is so homey – the perfect definition of a perfect family heirloom.

Lupine was not allowed on the furniture but he understood that rule only applied when we we could see him and the seat of that chair was the perfect size for him to curl up in. When he got old and deaf he would think we were all gone when we weren’t, or not hear us when we got back and I we’d find him sound asleep in his chair. I’m telling you this because Lupine was perfect, like Donald’s phone call with Volodymyr. And because Donald’s understanding of the law is as simple minded as Lupine’s. But not perfect. Lupine was entirely pure of heart.

Donald eagerly released the transcript of that phone call with the comedian president of Ukraine that his people had striven to hide away for eternity. Donald said that once we the American People read it we would recognize, “that phone call was perfect.” He kept calling it a perfect phone call.

What is astonishing is that I think he really is so fundamentally amoral that he honestly doesn’t understand. The phone call was perfect in that he accomplished what he wanted without saying any of the words he was not supposed to say. He understands that the law prohibits him from saying certain things, and he didn’t, therefore the transaction was legal and perfect. If he can get what he wants done by circumlocution is all good.


Warren/Buttigieg? Warren/Harris? Winfrey/Obama?

Clearly yrmama has stopped going to every show that comes to town – she’s heard all the stump speeches, experienced all the first impressions. She’s amused and pleased to see that all the pronouncements she made based on those first impressions are proving true. She’s waiting for the next stage to really kick in. What is the next stage? I guess we’ll find out.

yrmama has 3 political t-shirts now. The first bears an American flag with the stars replaced by a qr code for a website where you can register to vote. She bought it from the Parkland kids. The second says Elizabeth Warren 2020 and the third is a rainbow Pete logo. Elizabeth and Pete are still running neck in neck for my heart and I am so so so sorry that we let it get to this point, where kids are likely to get shot at school and any crowd that forms anywhere instantly feels like a minefield

Do you remember how Barack made us feel? Way back when? His deep voice oozed with intelligence and compassion and when he was done talking yrmama wanted so badly to invite him and Michelle and the girls over for dinner because we were all going to be best friends. I planned for my son to go to college with Sasha so maybe, just maybe, we could be inlaws too.

Sigh. That’s how he got elected. His slow-jam made me feel safe and loved. But that’s also how Donald got elected. He stood there and bellowed in a way that somehow exhilarated people.

Beto’s punk-rock, “Hell yes,” side has potential. Kamala is starting to seem too smug. IDK.

Pete is incredibly talented and could be the guy. His speaking soothes the savage beast. He makes everything feel manageable if we buckle down and trust the fundamentals of democracy. He’s adorable. Everyone loves him.

And Elizabeth. There is something indescribable about her that is most evident when you see her in person. She’s really pulling something amazing together. Listen this podcast about her rallies – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/podcasts/the-daily/elizabeth-warren-rally.html The thing that really convinces me about her ability to pull this off is imagining her onstage with Donald. Remember how he menacingly followed Hillary around while she talked? Now picture him trying that with Elizabeth. She would swing around and lay him out flat without missing a beat.

What To Read: Slavery in the Clover Bottoms by John McCline

The Hoggatt plantation at Clover Bottom, in Nashville, Tennessee was home to one of my slave-owning cousins, Anthony Clopton and his family, and to John McCline. John McCline was born there as part of the enslaved workforce. You should read his book even if he never met your long-ago cousin.

This memoir covers John’s earliest memories of life at Clover Bottoms and his years as a young teenager in the Union army. I’ve never read anything like it before.

One day young John was on horseback, watching the Union army march past the plantation on Lebanon Pike, admiring the men, their uniforms, the horses and vehicles, the whole spectacle. One of the soldiers called out to him, “Come on, Johnny, and go with us up North, and we will set you free.” He was amazed that the Yankee soldier knew his name (he didn’t know they called all southern boys Johnny, like Johnny Rebel). He slid off his horse and into the crowd of soldiers. He travelled and worked with that regiment from Michigan for the rest of the war and they took good care of him. He returned to Michigan with them after the war, got a couple of years of schooling in, worked in fancy hotels in St. Louis, Chicago and Indianapolis and eventually ran the household of the governor of New Mexico, Herbert Hagerman, in Santa Fe. He got married for the first time when he was 85. Never once does John expect the reader to feel sorry for him or his plight. He’s very matter of fact about everything and eager to recount his memories of a remarkable period in his life. John McCline reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder with his engaging, detailed, visual descriptions of how otherwise mundane things worked which in turn reminds me of my own grandfather, except for the slavery part.

Now that I’ve compared John McCline favorably to Laura Ingalls Wilder you might veer into the tempting weeds and say, “Gee, yrmama, American slavery wasn’t so bad then, was it. And if it was so easy for him to run away why didn’t they all just walk off into the sunset?”

To which I would say, “Shut the fuck up up and read the book. Mr. McCline is very clear and detailed about the vast evil he was raised to endure, the traumas he and everyone he loved faced, beatings, murders, deprivation, cruelty and outright theft of monstrous amounts of human labor. yrmama is grappling with the knowledge that her ancestors on both sides were slave owners and trying to acknowledge the ill-gotten privileges she has certainly inherited. I may say the wrong thing from time to time, inadvertently, but we are certainly not going to move through this as a society if we don’t talk about it openly. So there.”

  • If you have not yet begun listening to 1619, a podcast from the New York Times, you need to get busy with it immediately. It is hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones who grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where I lived as an infant, and we both are very smart.

Confederates in the Attic

Confederates in the Attic : Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War was a bit hard to pay attention to clear to the end no matter how much I liked the idea of it and the specific things I learned from it. The bulk of the action is Tony traveling around the south checking out the culture of Civil War reenactment by participating. It is really interesting to see a bit into the way southern culture was shaped by history and how the Civil War persists. Sounds obvious, I know, but I am very northern so it’s all new.

The back cover blurb from the Washington Post says, “Hilariously funny.” Not true! At all! By the end I felt a bit like Tony Horwitz was losing himself like Jim Carrey did impersonating Andy Kauffman making Man in the Moon. Published in 1998 it also manages to feel dated. We’re less naive about racism now. Thanks Donald.

Should you read it? Maybe probably, but feel free to power-skim.

*Those who recall yrmama’s reading recommendations from years past will recall they were mostly about works of fiction. Now you’ll soon recall they mostly aren’t. I can’t recall a way to explain. It’s a sense of nausea and creeping dread deep in the gut that for five years I have recalled and consistently avoided.

Re re re re Pete

Sunday afternoon I caught the end of a Pete event at College Green Park – Labor Day weekend was a busy one for the candidates. But even at the end of a long day I observed Pete giving his full attention to journalists and selfie seekers and responding thoughtfully. The small clump – couldn’t call it a crowd anymore, he was working his way towards his giant black SUV – was completely hushed. Everyone was straining their ears to catch a smidge of the conversations.

The Gazette
Pete Buttigieg Ramps Up Iowa Campaign

Talking softly is a power move and in stark contrast to standing under roaring helicopter rotors and yelling impatiently. I think that is Donald’s favorite way of talking to reporters because it says, “What. You want to talk to me here? Underneath this helicopter? Can’t you see I’m going somewhere? Go ahead, but I don’t have time to anything substantive, you flea.”

I think Pete is looking less like a twelve year old to me. It may be deliberate that he’s often seen now with five-o-clock shadow as in, “Hey. I am too old enough to grow a beard.” He has impressive squint lines around his eyes and a solid tan from standing around outside all the time, playing corn hole and taking selfies. Everyone still says, “well…I sure do like Pete” when I ask about their favorites.

Beto. He’s different now too since all the shooting in Texas. I think he is being his real self now, letting his emotions show and saying fuck a lot. I’m happy about that.