Romney logoI believe in America. That’s why I voted today for Barack Obama.

Yesterday Ana Marie Cox wrote that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Romney wins. Nor if Obama wins, if your nightmares run in that direction. She also makes the “belief in America” argument, and I agree with her—up to a point. She notes the damage likely to occur in the former case, and frankly, I’d really, really like to avoid that.

I never thought Obama could walk on water, but it was shocking how much toxic sludge an ideologically crazed, monolithic Republican Party could pump into the political sphere. If this election breaks the implacable bloc that has refused to address the issues we face as negotiators in good faith—as problem solvers—that would be a great achievement. New Jersey governor Chris Christie has set the tone. Will any of his fellow Republicans follow suit during the second Obama term?

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Now we’ll post from the Kindle Fire. I’m sure it will work.

Another colleague who was trying to help in my absence today mentioned that the post was going into the caption. So I guess I need to add a photo and a caption.


Contrails and wires over Washington

Image uploading was a bit tetchy. I needed to add it to my media library—couldn’t just insert it into the post. An extra step—oh, well …

So, here is a photo, with a caption. We’ll see how it renders.

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I’m hearing that a colleague is having problems posting to my day job’s WordPress site using a Galaxy tablet and the web interface. So here I am posting from my Galaxy S3 phone, using the native browser. Let’s see if it works …

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Political activism starts early here in Washington, D.C.:

stroller and scooter-car with gay rights sticker

Too young to drive, not too young to make a statement

Okay, okay, it’s the parents talking. Still, kinda cute.

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How messed-up would you have to be to even consider taking advantage of the services offered here on Connecticut Avenue? Or am I being an insufferable snob?

sign for doctor's office

A doctor on duty—really!

You simply must ask what the Blue Plate Special is.

For the record, this sign didn’t last long. Either the doctor(s) moved, or a better sign was made and installed in the arcade (entrance just to the right).

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“The best camera is the one that’s with you.”

Thus spake Chase Jarvis. And nowadays, more often than not, that camera is your phone. For Jarvis, it’s an iPhone, and he made an app for called … Best Camera.

I have only owned Android phones, and I don’t particularly like applying cutesy filters before I don’t upload them to the cloud for all to enjoy. (You follow me?) I just take pictures to document the passing scene.

The previous entry contained two such shots and might serve as the beginning of an occasional feature here in the Basement: Phone Photos.

Here’s one from a visit to Texas (this post is post-dated). I love cicadas to begin with, and it struck me funny the way it parked itself on the huge frog’s nose. I kept imagining the lightning-quick flash of tongue and “bye-bye, bug” … But nothing happened—except the cicada flew away. So the second part came true, which is not exactly nothing.

cicada and stone frog

The cicada and the frog

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To the surprise of many, Chief Justice John Roberts has saved the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Unsurprisingly, his reasoning in doing so was cockeyed. He rejected the Commerce Clause justification in support of the federal government’s authority to enforce participation in health care coverage (the so-called “mandate”), citing instead the government’s fallback position, that the penalty for not being covered by insurance can be considered a “tax,” and the federal government clearly has the authority to impose taxes.

Maybe this is just semantics. But here’s what’s cockeyed: Roberts writes that those who are not insured “are not currently engaged in any commercial activity involving health care …” Maybe the operative word for Roberts is “currently,” as in “at this very moment.” But it seems unlikely that every single uninsured person in this country uses no health care services or products, whether or not they pay for them; or that they will not require them at some point in the future, if only in the form of a final ambulance ride to an unsuccessful resuscitation at the hospital.

Judging from the muddled national “conversation” on the subject, it appears Roberts is not alone in not understanding health care—how it works in this country, and how it is failing its populace, whether or not one has health insurance. The uninsured are an unfair burden on the insured portion of the population, and the PPACA is a first step in fixing that problem. The problem of runaway costs remains, but “Obamacare” can be seen as a halting first step toward comprehensive health care reform that includes equitable cost containment. Those who wanted a single-payer solution, or the extension of Medicare to all, may yet live to see their preference enacted.

Thankfully, whatever his reasoning, Roberts upheld the product of years of painful Congressional labor, imperfect as it is. The irony is that the bone of contention—the individual “mandate” to purchase insurance—was a Republican idea. The GOP only turned against it when Obama adopted it and the PPACA showed a chance of passing. Roberts will catch hell from the right, but it will be painful only if rank hypocrisy has the power to sting.

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In anticipation of a new category to be dreamed up in 2016, here’s a Phone Photo from a walk in the neighborhood:

flowers escaping yard through picket fence

Lemme outta here!

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Cars were stopping in the middle of Key Bridge this morning. Some people got out, others just craned their necks from inside. They were doing what the pedestrians and cyclists on the walkway were doing: watching the space shuttle Discovery make its ceremonial passes around Washington atop a 747 before heading out to pasture at the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles.

Space Shuttle Discovery flybyI momentarily felt bad that I didn’t have a decent camera on hand. Then I thought of the online flood of excellent photos that others (better positioned) would take and didn’t care much any more. Yet I felt compelled to take at least one picture with my cell phone. In lining up the shot I made an unrelated discovery: a huge inflatable hockey player atop one of the houses on Canal Road in Georgetown. Go Caps!

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Prefix Dinner in Bethesda, MarylandYou may think this is about a linguistic nicety, the bit that comes before the main part and imparts a nice twist—something came before, or after (pre-, post-); or the word sort of applies (pseudo-); or the action is being done again (re-); and so on. No. It’s about a dinner that come before another dinner, apparently—a “prefix dinner.” Three courses for 29 bucks in Bethesda, Maryland—who could possibly have room for the dinner itself?

Before I go off on the sorry state of the mother tongue in 2012, I am tackled by the obvious fact that … prix fixe ain’t even English.

Granted. But is that an excuse? Did the phrase “prefix dinner” actually make sense to both the restaurant manager and the sign maker? (Then again, sign makers seem to have abdicated all oversight, having drunk the bromide that “the customer knows best,” God save us all.) Yes, it sounds right. But the whole point of English is that hearing is deceiving. We have appropriated bits of every language on the planet, so that our vocabulary is the hugest by far. But how many of us know how to handle it? There’s the rub.

And here’s the agenbite of inwit for yours truly: both the restaurant manager and the sign maker knew what they were talking about, and perhaps 99% of the people viewing the sign understood it without a snicker (“Hm, so that’s how that’s spelled …” some of them probably thought). Yours truly knows what a prefix is. Well, la-dee-dah.

Addendum 2012.03.26: A Google search on “prefix dinner” produces an alarming number of hits (including the charming “Pre Fixe”), all over the map. As of this date, it has not infiltrated Webster’s online. Here’s the stupid thing: they could just say “fixed-price dinner” (I would even hold my tongue if they left off the hyphen). Same number of syllables. I can hear the objection now: the consonantal collision between “fixed” and “price” (the sound “kstpr”). In practice, the phrase would invariably (and, I have to concede, naturally) devolve to “fix price” (because of our lazy ol’ American way o’ talkin’). Which is almost worse than “prefix.” Almost.

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  • Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.
    Gravity’s Rainbow

    ‘Is it about a bicycle?’ he asked.
    The Third Policeman