Make that a cold bath. It hit 107° F here Friday. 15th consecutive 100°-plus day? 17th? 200th?
Birds refuse to bathe in the bird bath — they’re saving it to drink. The sprinkler system misfired yesterday — had to kill the power to fix a kitchen light and the clock on the sprinkler got a few hours off — and we were alerted by dozens of bluejays broadcasting the news. “Water!” they screamed. Dallas isn’t supposed to be home to robins, but there were three of them dancing on the wet sidewalk with the jays, plus assorted other birds — house finches, mourning doves, white-winged doves, cardinals, and that little scamp, the Bewick’s wren. The woodpeckers declined to land on the ground. No room for grackles.
While soaking, and cooling, what do we read? In total chaos, or at least, in no particular order:
- At the Chicago History Journal, a story of New Year’s, 1909, illustrated with a cartoon by John T. McCutcheon. In 1909, Chicago spent $1 million celebrating the new year. Why not? The Cubs had won their second consecutive World Series the previous summer. McCutcheon’s political cartoons appear everywhere illustrating the Gilded Age, the Age of Imperialism, the Progressive Era, the Jazz Age, the Great Depression and the run-up to World War II – but usually without any attribution to him. I was happy to find a trove of his material, making it easier to identify his work. See, too, Roger Ebert’s Journal. McCutcheon’s work gives insight into the Great Depression, too. Chicago celebrates McCutcheon almost as much as he celebrated Chicago; the rest of us ought to catch up.
- Reagan’s mythology leading us off a cliff? Paul Rosenberg of Random Lengths, lists the false myths about Ronald Reagan that, he says, poison political discussion today and bring Washington to gridlock. Oddly enough, Rosenberg’s piece got carried on the English Al Jazeera site. Is it true that Bill Clinton was more popular than Reagan? Maybe progressives should get a group up to start naming things after Bill Clinton; or maybe we should just name it the Ronald Reagan National Debt.
- Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman gives a sober assessment of Republican politics these days in his New York Times column: “Getting to Crazy.” Sez Krugman:
A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask.
Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.
And may I say to those suddenly agonizing over the mental health of one of our two major parties: People like you bear some responsibility for that party’s current state.
- What if they made a movie about Sarah Palin, and nobody came to see it in Orange County, California, the heart of American Republican conservatism?
- The third return of a cancerous brain tumor took away her ability to teach, so she turned to writing children’s books. First one coming out in time for Christmas.
- Chutzpah, with the proper pronunciation: Republicans demand $55 million from the federal government for security at their convention, ‘AND PAY IT NOW!’
- If you’re discussing whether various states execute innocent people, an informed discussion better include Herrera v. Collins 506 U.S. 390, the 1993 case in which Texas won the right to execute an innocent man — innocence being not a good reason to reopen the case, the Supreme Court ruled. If God is punishing the U.S., I think this case may be why.
- Ed Brayton has a story with stirring video about another innocent man, this time who got out of jail.
- You voted for Obama, but he’s not given the performance you think he should have? So you’re thinking of voting for a third-party candidate? Read this. It makes Santaya’s Ghost smile.
- Planning to join Texas’s candidate for Saul of the Year Rick Perry at his pray-in? Don’t bring your gun. That means you, Mr. NRA!
- Speaking of people who don’t think President Obama is doing all that he should, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project kicks off a new round of . . . information? September. Don’t be caught on the glacier.
- 100 songs that Messed with Texas (from NPR)
You can only read until your fingers get all wrinkly. There’s still stuff on the reading stack!
Another soak, for another time.