I Miss the GOP

We’ve had a few tense weeks here, and not because of current events. Short version: My wife had a cancer scare, but thankfully it was only a scare.

The past eight weeks, and especially the last two weeks, were filled with appointments and waiting and procedures and more waiting and biopsies and even more waiting. As you can probably imagine, during that waiting, all that downtime when the “What if?” scenarios bounce around your head like a ping-pong ball at a championship match, we desperately needed something to occupy our brains.

My wife (the one in greatest need of distraction) found her solace in Blue Bloods. It’s a show we’ve never watched before, and she now had eleven seasons (!!) to binge on.

And binge, she did (with me at her side, for much of it).

For those unfamiliar with Blue Bloods, it follows a family of Irish Catholic police officers in New York City. Gramps (Len Cariou) is retired, Dad (Tom Selleck) is the police commissioner, and the boys (Donnie Wahlberg and Will Estes) are cops. My wife was there primarily for Tom Selleck as the gruff but gentle patriarch. For my part, I was there solely for Bridget Moynahan, who plays the daughter, an Assistant DA for the city.

The shows are simple. There’s an A plot and a B plot in each episode. The family always gets together for Sunday dinner. There is ongoing character development, but for the most part, it’s purely episodic. It’s a dependable show. Dependably good. Dependably homey. Dependably entertaining.

During one episode’s Sunday dinner scene, I turned to my wife and said, “One thing I like about this show: they’re all Republicans.”

She looked at me like I had suggested they were all rabid dogs, a look that said, “Are you crazy? That’s impossible. I like these people!”

Given recent events, this reaction can be forgiven, but I stand by my opinion. Law enforcement skews strongly toward the GOP. Catholics lean conservative. Taken with the characters’ commentary about political and social issues (e.g., stop and frisk, personal responsibility, etc.), it was clear that this family had a strong conservative viewpoint. Doing the math, it was clear to me that the characters would probably vote Republican.

This deduction, however, was not offered up as an insult. As I said, I liked that aspect of the show. As a staunch liberal, a guy whose father campaigned for Adlai Stevenson (twice!), you might think it odd that I like watching a show about a family of Republicans, but it’s not odd. Not odd at all.

Why? Because these characters are old-school GOP, like the Republicans of my youth. Conservative? Yes. Tough on crime? You bet. Fiscally tight-fisted? Damned straight. But they are also capable of compassion, of seeing the gradients between black and white, of taking into account mitigating circumstances, and (above all) the necessity to compromise. They care for people as people, seeing the world not just as cops and robbers, heroes and zeroes.

In short, they are not of the rabid Jim Jordan GOP, nor the morally relativistic Lindsey Graham GOP. The Blue Bloods family is more akin to the Eisenhower GOP.

And I miss that GOP.

I miss the GOP with whom you could actually debate, the GOP that wasn’t blind to the massive common ground between the extremes. I miss the GOP that understood that politics is ideology but governing is compromise. I miss the GOP that was willing to give something up, to negotiate in good faith, in order to advance what they saw as the greater good.

Yes, polarization exists on both sides, these days, but if there’s one party that owns the centrist, moderate ground, well, it ain’t today’s GOP. Today’s GOP has been moving off that part of the field for over a decade, and in the past four years, they ceded it completely. Today’s GOP is all about power and money and control and is nothing about governing. Today’s GOP is the party of the Big Lie, conspiracy theories, and slavering devotion to Dear Leader. And sadly, of sedition.

I know there are some exceptions to this new norm in the GOP, and I feel for them. They are grossly outnumbered by the wild-eyed cohort that has shifted the GOP so far to the right. These few, these moderate few, are trapped between the mob their party has built and the abyss that now exists between our parties’ ideologies.

I miss the GOP, and I suspect perhaps some of these politicians do, as well.


22 Nov 1963
19 Oct 1964
04 Apr 1968
06 Jun 1968
27 Nov 1978
06 Oct 1981
28 Jan 1986
09 Nov 1989
19 Apr 1995
11 Sep 2001
15 Jul 2020
06 Jan 2021

Berlin Wall
OK City

Day’s New Year

breathe deep the morning’s mist
taste the chill stony silence
invite the soul of winter’s patience
into a warm, life-loving heart
and be at peace

Hey, Kiddo

I get annoyed when people mispronounce their own surnames.

Growing up with a last name like mine—a name that somehow survived intact its journey through Ellis Island’s patented Name Mangler—meant that I had ample opportunity to correct the spelling and pronunciation of others who, it seemed, were determined to succeed where Ellis Island failed.

Giambastiani starts with a soft “g” and has a wave-like rhythm: JYAHM-bas-TYAH-nee.

Not “guy-am-bass-tee-ANN-ee.” Not “guy-am-baa-STEE-nee.” And certainly not “Sebastiani.”

Nor is my name John Bastiani.

(And do NOT get me started on the written permutations I’ve received over the years.)

So, when friends of mine would give their own surnames an inaccurate pronunciation, I used to get a bit pedantic.

Like Lisa Yakubowski, whose family (at some point) decided that “yah-koo-BOV-ski” should be said “ya-ka-BOW-ski” where the “BOW” rhymes with “COW.”

Or Bob Boccaccio, namesakes of the great 14th century Italian writer, whose family inexplicably swapped the pronunciation of the c’s from “bo-CA-chyo” to [shudder] “buh-CHYA-ko.” Why, oh, why?

I’d try to show these folks the error of their ways, saying, “Hey, kiddo, you’re obviously ignorant of the proper way to pronounce your own last name,” which I’d follow with a remedial lesson on how it should be pronounced.

This rarely went well.

Correction: This never went well.

Because a person’s name is their name to say as they wish, and no one dubbed me (or anyone) the arbitrator of surname pronunciation.

I eventually learned this lesson, and though I continually cringe at the way newscasters butcher any Russian patronymic (especially the feminine forms), most of my complaints remain unaired. By way of example, consider this: Prima ballerina Natalia Makarova was famous for lecturing on the pronunciation of her surname, because Ms. “ma-KAH-ro-va” heartily disliked being called Ms. “MA-ka-RO-va,” as the latter pronunciation sounds like the Russian equivalent of “my cow.”

But that battle was for Ms. Makarova to fight, not me, and if she wanted it to be pronounced in a different way, that was her right and her choice. If she wanted us to pronounce Makarova as “Marky-Mark,” that’s how we would have said it.

It’s the same as with a person who, after years of study, earned a non-medical doctorate. If that person wanted to use the title “Doctor,” there’s no reason for us to question or deny this.

Even if the title wasn’t earned (e.g., Colonel Sanders), people with manners will use the title if the individual prefers it so.

A person gets to choose their name, their pronouns, and their titles, whether earned through toil, bestowed as an honor, or made up out of whole cloth. It is their identity, and their choice, and while we might have opinions about the validity and necessity of those choices, it is simply common courtesy to acknowledge the choice and use the names, pronouns, and titles that they choose for themselves.

And that, kiddo, is all I have to say on the matter.


Make It Stop

It’s one thing for my rabid right-wing-nutter Uncle Earl to run about in his tin-foil hat and go on and on about stolen elections and massive fraud at the polls. It’s entirely another thing when elected officials do the same. Crazy Uncle Earl didn’t take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. Elected officials did. 

If, at this point, they do not admit that Biden won the election, then they must believe that:

  • all the federal judges and Supreme Court justices (including Republican/Trump appointees) who have dismissed the fifty-odd (and counting) lawsuits filed, are lying to us
    • and
  • all the state elections boards, secretaries of state, and governors (including Republicans) who have certified Biden’s win in their elections, are lying to us
    • and
  • the complete lack of credible evidence is irrelevant to the process of determining fact from fiction
    • and
  • thousands upon thousands of people across fifty states, people who have worked for decades in jobs and processes that, in 2016, delivered Donald Trump the presidency, have all suddenly, secretly, and without evidence of collusion or conspiratorial intent, decided to cooperate in such a way as to deny that same Donald Trump a second term, and have done so without a single credible leak, whistle-blower, email, or text (all while delivering many down-ballot offices to the GOP).

In short, they are willing to believe the fabulists who concoct stories that support their fearful wishes, rather than accept the evidence that surrounds them, to wit:

  • a majority of voters who have decried this man’s performance for years simply voted against him,
    • and
  • the explanations as to how “day of” and “mail-in” ballots differ demographically are uncomplicated, unsurprising, and totally predictable,
    • and
  • multiple recounts and investigations and audits and canvasses have consistently shown the reported results are accurate.

The behavior we’re seeing from these elected officials:

  • is a disgrace to their oath, their office, and their country
  • is a blatant accession to the current administration’s worst autocratic impulses
  • is damaging to our institutions, our democracy, and our national security
  • is emboldening an indoctrinated and violence-prone faction within our populace, encouraging this faction to act out, terrorize, and even hurt people they see as “the enemy” 

This should hang around these politicians’ necks like a dead albatross.

But I’m sure we’ll forget all about it.

This is why we can’t have nice things.


I Read

By the full moon’s light
I read
of times long past
of a distant village

where limestone cliffs
as blue as the moon itself
rise high enough
to split the sky

where the mountain springs
murmur liquid life

where the townsfolk
hard and resinous
as turpentine trees
keep secrets
break hearts
learn lessons
(or do not, until too late)

and while their setting sun
reddens the pale scarps
above their heads

my sun rises
blanching the sky
behind my setting moon

I close the final page
and return home

As I mentioned a while ago, my mind is once again calm enough to allow me the enjoyment of reading fiction. In fact, I’ve read four novels in the past few weeks, which is about three more than I read in all of 2019.

Seriously. It was that bad.

The first books had been in my TBR pile for a while, but this latest one was a recent arrival, and it was a serious break from the “literary” works I’ve been reading. Written by Tim Lebbon, Generations is not only science fiction, but (gasp!) a television “tie-in” novel, the fourth novel set in the Firefly ‘verse.

The previous titles in this series, all written by a different author, were (to put it mildly) a tremendous disappointment. I reviewed the first two (here and here), but frankly, I didn’t see the point in bothering you with a review of the third one, so I read it and tossed it aside.

Seriously, they were that bad. Continue Reading »

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