Thursday, September 25, 2008

Glenn Greenwald on Sarah Palin

"Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short of frightening ... One of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a) completely ignorant about the most basic political issues -- a vacant, ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted, even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse, but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the election, both options are heinous."


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A real peach

My uncle Chuck's wife, Susie, passed away last week. She was funny and sassy and sweet. I'll miss her.

Susie had always been fascinating to me. She had been raised Amish in the little community southwest of Newton. She left that life when she married Chuck but remained very connected to her family there. I remember she said that she and Chuck had to sit at a separate non-Amish table at family gatherings.

Susie also had polio as a child, followed by a couple of botched surgeries as a teenager, and had to wear a leg brace to be able to walk. She had a very pronounced limp, and it took her a little longer to get in and out of cars, but it was never a big deal to her. She raised six kids, did all the cooking and cleaning in her old two-story house, did all the yard work and mowing, and worked in the catalog department at Sears for years. She was always in a good mood.

My parents and I visited Chuck and Susie practically every weekend when I was a kid. I sometimes ventured upstairs to play with their collection of great old toys, but I usually just sat and listened to the adult conversations. My mom and Susie became pretty close over the years. They always called each other "sis." I remember many conversations on the subject of Men, What Are They Good For? (Absolutely Nothing). They bonded as the long-suffering wives of often-selfish Gough men whom they loved in spite of their many flaws. It was a common theme. Also common was the latest gossip about the various "weird" members of the Gough clan, followed by unbridled laughter.

Susie took exceptional pride in her grandkids. She talked about them a lot, and her living room was filled with their photos. I think she was a fabulous grandma.

Susie and Chuck's middle daughter Cindy had gotten pregnant as a teenager and decided to give the baby boy up for adoption. Years later, as an adult, he contacted Cindy and became re-acquainted with the family. When he came out as gay a few years later, his adoptive parents turned him away. Susie was among the first to say he was welcome as a Gough. Hers was not the kind of love that came with restrictions, despite her conservative roots. (I remember her talking fondly about her grandson Scott and his boyfriend, whom she always described as "goooooooooood-lookin'.") Bigotry is often a generational thing, which makes me doubly proud of Aunt Susie. Scott sang a solo at her funeral.

My brother gave the eulogy, as he had at Chuck's funeral 10 years ago. He did a nice job, focusing on what made Susie special and well-loved. He talked about how she loved Coca-Cola and M&Ms and her grandkids and pristine flower beds and her dog, Freckles. He talked about her perfectly infectious laugh.

It was nice to see my dad's sisters and my scads of cousins, whom I sadly only seem to see at funerals. And it was neat to meet Susie's Amish relatives, all dressed alike, with their bonnets and beards. And her coffee klatch of Sears retirees. And her Sunday school class, "The Doers," who made us lunch. Absolutely all of them loved Susie. And so did I.