Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Five

Guess who turns five today?

Yup...five whole years, which alternately seems like about 25 and then ten minutes. The girls opened their presents this morning (a couple toys, some coloring books) and then decided to wear their brand new T-Shirts to school. For MA, that meant a Frozen shirt that sings Let it Go on command. I am not entirely sure that her teachers will find that nearly as adorable as I do...:-)

That's all:-) Scooter rides and sushi for dinner, at the birthday girls' request!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Coming together

Things are looking good for Tinkerbelle on the job front...she called and emailed a bunch of places that I had sort of suggested for her and got all of the details on applications, deadlines, etc. She's got three really good leads on summer camps that hire kids her age and that would work out perfectly (lesson to teenagers...you want a job? Ask. The kid who goes out of their way to say they want it will probably get it.)

All three of them are taking applications and will be interviewing in a couple of weeks, and she already has times scheduled to interview in early May, all on the same day. She's going to come out here on a Thursday night, go to her three interviews (and more if she can get them lined up) on Friday and then stay for the weekend. Honestly, I'd be pretty surprised if she didn't get more than one of the jobs. Unless they are hesitant because she isn't really a Boston kid, which they all know already and seemed fine with, she will probably get to pick from the three of them. Again, when hiring kids at that age, employers are going to be drawn to the kids who seem assured and confident and serious about the job. The one who says "Hey, hire me! I would LOVE to work here!" is probably the one who will get hired.

I'm pretty excited by this...more so than when I first heard the idea. She seems really serious about it, and having a five-day-a-week job will be great for her. She'll stay busy, meet some kids her age, earn some money and get to be a little more grown-up than usual. She's going to have to get herself up, get ready and get to the T on her own every morning, which is kind of a big deal for a 15 year old ("on her own" is maybe an overstatement...I'll know if she oversleeps!) Not that it is exactly rocket science, but I think she will feel like she has some autonomy and some responsibility...hopefully that's good for her.

So, we'll see...but it is looking like my summer visitor is en route!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Penalties

Quick note today...

Emotional day around here yesterday, as the surviving marathon bomber was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including all of the Federal charges that carry the potential of the death penalty. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this...not about his guilt, but about the trial and the penalty phase.

To recap: he admitted to placing the bombs. He admitted to shooting the MIT cop. His lawyers acknowledged in their opening remarks that he was unquestionably guilty of murdering four people. Those charges, taken alone, would have led to his four-times-over guilt of the single worst charges under State law. In other words, four times the maximum penalty. And by most accounts, he was willing to plead guilty to those murders.

The only charges in dispute were the Federal charges, which basically amounted to "Terrorism". There was only one reason to charge him with this: the death penalty. Murder charges are State charges, and Massachusetts does not allow for the death penalty. Terrorism charges are Federal, and carry that potential. The purpose of trying him at all was to convict him of a charge that he was not willing to plead guilty to: the Federal terrorism charges.

I guess I just don't see the point of the trial. Not that it was a huge circus, but it kept this animal in the public eye for two months, it allowed for this bizarre pop-star style fetishization of him, tied up enormous law enforcement and legal system resources and forced the re-living of all of the raw emotions of that day.

And for what? So we can execute him...after we exhaust 10+ years of extraordinarily expensive appeals? After we let that ridiculous fucking Rolling Stone cover be plastered on the news 100 more times every time he is in court for some minor hearing? (Side note: someone needs to put that fourth-rate rag out of its misery already.) So that we can make him a martyr for a cause that he just spent two months claiming he didn't really care that much about..?

The death penalty is super expensive. And it's irreversible. And it doesn't deter crime or, obviously, rehabilitate criminals. The only real argument for it is that some people are just so incredibly horrible that this is the only punishment of appropriate severity. By that benchmark, clearly, if anyone deserves it, this shit does...

But, I dunno...I'm just not feeling like we get much out of this other than a little bit of vengeance. Frankly, sending him to Florence ADX seems a much worse fate.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Turn Back the Clock

Moderately big news around here...we're getting a special visitor this summer (probably). I got a call last week from Tinkerbelle's mother, warning me that Tinkerbelle was going to ask me if she could come and spend the summer. Her Mom wanted to give me a heads-up in case I wanted to say no and needed some time to prepare an answer other than "I really don't feel like having a grumpy teenager around"!

[In case you've forgotten in the year that I have been away;-), Tinkerbelle is my other little sister that I never knew about or met until she was about seven. She's not a petulant fifteen year old!]

My first instinct is to jump right in and tell her yes...because it would be awesome! I have always wanted to spend more time with her and have struggled to be as involved with her as I would like to be. Obviously, a full-immersion summer would be a great way to fix that...living with someone is a whole different experience than visiting. Plus, she'd get all kinds of time to be around the nieces that she doesn't see more than a couple of weeks a year.

There are a couple of sticking points. One of them, however, is not The Boy, who is entirely on board. He's used to having teenagers around, and he knows how much I feel like I have missed out with her. He may also see the value in having a pinch-babysitter when we need her:-)

It does sort of get to one of the issues, though...Tinkerbelle is NOT Munchkin. The Boy - along with Smoking Hot Roommate, Big Sis and Munchkin - have all made reference, at one point of another, to how much fun Munchkin's teenage years have been. She's lived at the beach, had a bunch of jobs, traveled a lot and lived under a somewhat flexible web of supervision.

I never had a problem with her being at the beach all summer for two reasons. First, she was always incredibly mature and responsible. Second, there was usually someone from her circle of authority figures there with here. I was there on weekends, Big Sis was maybe there for a couple days during one week, SHR the next week, The Boy sometimes, Papa Bear other times. She always had a lot of people fill various parts of the role of "parent" and there was generally at least one of them around.

Tinkerbelle is neither as responsible as Munchkin was (she is, in fact, a pretty normal teenager... Munchkin was the outlier), nor does she have the same relationships that Munchkin does. If she is here, I will be the authority figure and there won't really be any substitutes (except for maybe The Boy). Which is fine, I just have to keep that in mind as they all try to convince me that this will be the best summer ever!

So, I told her yes, because I really, really want to have her, but I gave her some conditions. First, she can't be at the beach all summer. I won't be able to take time off to be with her enough to make that workable. Munchkin will be there, which would help (Tinkerbelle absolutely idolizes her, and she is unquestionably mature enough to be the parent) but I don't know yet what her travel plans will be, other than to know that she will have some and they will be spectacular. And, that would sort of defeat the point...I want to be around her all summer, not just every weekend and a couple of full weeks.

That means she will need to be in Boston with something to keep her busy (read: a job), but that will leave her free on weekends because we are still going to be at the beach as much as we can. I'm thinking that a camp counselor job would be perfect...it would keep her busy, give her a little money and let her meet some friends. Even if she found some kind of a job in a store that was a couple of days a week, I'd be fine with her doing that and taking a class or volunteering or something to keep her engaged otherwise.

Mostly? I want to see that she can make a plan and make it happen. I know she wants to come out here, but I need her to be serious about her own plans and mine. If she can make the phone calls that she has to in order to line up her own schedule, then I am all for her coming out! But I am not going to do it for her, and her Mom isn't going to do it for her...coming here would mean more freedom and responsibility than she is used to, and I'd like to see that she understands that and is ready for it.

I think she will make it work...she really, really wants to. And, I think it will be good for her...she struggles with all of the regular stuff that kids that age struggle with around teenage social issues. She has had some (minor) issues with school and could use a couple of months to take in some new surroundings and make some new friends that she hasn't been in school with since she was five. Honestly, I think she and her Mom can use the break, too. Being a single mother of a teenager is tough, and they get at each other like any other parent and kid do...I think the time away will help them appreciate each other. I hope so, at least:-)

So, that's that...as long as she can find a job, she's coming for pretty much all of July and August! Wish me luck:-)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Is it 2016 already?

Looks like the 2016 Presidential race is already heating up...cue the civics geek posts!!! By now, you all know that my love of the sport of politics is pretty intense, and this cycle is going to be a 2008-style doozy. Open seat, huge divisions, lots of aspirants...it's like an 18 month Christmas!!!

So, first of all, I am going to make a somewhat bold prediction: Hillary Clinton will not be the Democratic nominee. I'm not sure that I am totally sold on that, but it is too easy to simply say that she won't win, so I am going out onto a smaller limb and saying that she won't even be nominated. I don't know who will beat her (Jim Webb? Elizabeth Warren?), but I don't think she wins the nomination.

The reason? Because, quite simply, the left will decide who gets nominated, and the left doesn't like her. They don't trust her, and they haven't, in the nearly 30 years that they have known her, ever seen a whole lot that excites them about her. She's never been at the forefront on any social issues, she is an unabashed war hawk, she has almost no tangible accomplishments, and her campaign will almost certainly be funded by the same people who funded her 2000 and 2006 Senate and 2008 Presidential campaigns: New York-based financial services executives and lawyers. Or, in Liz Warren shorthand: "Wall Street".

She is currently the favorite mostly because she seems to be the most likely to win, and because it looks like she will be the left's de facto choice in a general election. But that support is really shallow: for now, they kind of tolerate her, but they would LOVE to have a candidate who reflects better on the issues that they care about. You know what else? She is old, uninspiring and she is a habitual liar (even on the scale of politicians!). I don't know whether Elizabeth Warren will run, and I think she is almost certainly unelectable...but she is the kind of candidate that the left WANTS to support, not the kind (like Hillary) that they feel an obligation to defend even when she does the indefensible (private email, for example).

And seeing the two of them on a stage together would be disaster for Hillary. Clinton will try to seem measured and unoffensive and diplomatic and inevitable. Warren will be fiery and she will speak eloquently and passionately about all of the things that Democrats believe and wish they could say in the same words that she uses. She'll rip into the big banks that everyone of those voters hates (sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly) and force Clinton to defend some incredibly unpopular institutions - institutions that paid for her campaign.

So, my outrageous prediction of the day is that Hillary consistently polls at astronomical levels well over 60%, regardless of who runs against her. Then, sometime late this year, as the electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire engages, that support will start to dissipate, and then it will collapse spectacularly as the voters in those states become the first to challenge her coronation. Write it down!

On the Republican side, it is a much more interesting race because there are so many disparate candidates. Ted Cruz is in. Scott Walker will be in. So will Rand Paul. Marco Rubio probably. Jeb Bush almost certainly. Christ Christie maybe.  Governors, retired governors, moderates, conservatives, libertarians...this race will have them all!

My guess is that Christie, Bush and Rubio will get the initial press, and will be over-rated by the pundit class. Christie because they know him in New York and they assume that what the GOP really needs to win is a moderate (they're wrong), Bush because of his family name (truth be told, he would have been a much better President than his brother, but the ship has sailed) and Rubio because he is a fantastic orator, has a great story and looks exciting. Rand Paul will also get a lot of attention, but he will prove a little more worthy of it...he is a different kind of voice in this race.

The national media will scoff at Scott Walker as a small-time provincial voice with a lazy eye and no college degree. They will ignore his proven appeal as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who wins elections in a progressive state. They will scoff at Cruz, calling him a reactionary bible-thumper, ignoring his consistent message, underrated eloquence and remarkable debate skills.

As long as we are making all kinds of predictions, I will guess that they all run (maybe not Christie), and that Rubio and Bush fade first. Paul will have a solid base of support, but he will spook too many on the right with his Libertarian tendencies. Republicans aren't going to like seeing him co-sponsor sentencing reform bills with Corey Booker any more than Democrats are going to like Hillary Clinton telling them that we can't make friends with Iran.

When it is all said and done, I think Walker and Cruz will be the last two candidates standing, and I'm not totally sure who wins. But, that's my outrageous, uninformed prediction for the day, and I am going with it!*

*Subject to change at any time for any reason:-)