Why, you ask? Why am I refusing to entertain my loyal dozens (and countless accidental readers) with yet another rambling jeremiad today? Well, there’s a whole bunch of reasons, really. Behold.
I’m a Lazy Bastard: My whole life I’ve loved nothing better than doing nothing. Sometimes I come clean and admit my lethargy. Yet people often refuse to believe me. “You have a Ph.D. You’ve published three books. You helped negotiate the Peace of Westphalia. You can’t possibly be lazy.” I wave off their protestations. I insist that I am really quite slovenly. I remind them that professors are notoriously lazy, barely rousing themselves to fabricate random grades for their students. But the skeptics just pshaw and in insist I’m energetic.
Yeah? Well not energetic enough to write this essay.
There’s a Stray Cat on the Back Porch: I think he might be part Maine Coon. He’s got pointy ears that sprout tufts of hair. He’s not fully grown but looks to be getting quite large. And he doesn’t seem to mind the cold. Hell, I think he enjoys it. A few weeks back it got down to 14F at night. For you fancy people with your hip, scientific measurements, that’s some big negative number in Celcius. Anyway, he just stayed out there and slept in the papa san chair on the next door neighbor’s dilapidated back porch. Next morning he was like, “What’s up dude? You sleep well? Yeah, me too. I mean the post office truck down the block is pretty noisy, but other than that, good times.”
It’s been a few weeks now. We gotta figure out if we’re keeping him. I posted a couple of Lost Cat announcements on Craig’s List. The only response I got was from some woman warning me about a convicted animal mutilator up in Delaware. I’ve asked all my friends. No takers. But if we bring him into our home, what about the 17 year old cat we already have? He can be a real prick and will never actually become friends with Coon kit. But during their interactions on the back porch thus far, the old fella’s been surprisingly amenable. Meaning, he just ignores the newcomer and hisses at proposed play dates.
The new guy has shown no inclination to leave, and in an effort to make sure he had sufficient calories to survive the cold, I gave him all our tuna fish and kippers. Then I bought some actual cat food. Not a good sign. He might be ours now. But it’s not official until you name him. Haven’t named him yet. Toyed with some ideas. Hieronymus Bop. The Incredible Mr. Jingle Pants. Ulysses S. Cat. None of them have stuck yet.
Anyway, the point is, I can’t be bothered to write an essay. I have to figure out what we’re doing with this goddamned cat.
Timmy McTinkles? Hair Pie? Blammo the Wonder Cat?
I’m Turning 50 this Year: It’s not until much later in the year, but I’m already using it as an excuse to not do things. You don’t wanna fall behind on not doing stuff.
I Have Nothing to Say about Princess Leia: I Wish I did, but nothing’s coming to me. And it’s pretty obvious that you can’t be culturally relevant right now unless you have something to say about Carrie Fisher and/or her mother Debbie Reynolds and/or their closely edited death scenes and/or how Elizabeth Taylor stole Debbie’s husband/Carrie’s dad Eddie Fisher from them and then got catty about it. And who the hell was Eddie Fisher anyway? My mother always acted like Fisher was a real celebrity, and she casually spoke about him in a way that assumed I should know who he was, but I never knew who he was. I couldn’t even remember if he was Carrie Fisher’s dad or Jamie Lee Curtis’s dad, who was Tony Curtis.
I know, I know, the last name’s should kind of be a dead giveaway on that one, but they’re both just Jewish guys from the Bronx who married a series of hot Hollywood shikshas and sired daughters who went on to be famous actors themselves. Honestly, it all sort of runs together for me, especially since I can’t really tell Debbie Reynolds from Janet Leigh. Leigh sounds like Leia. But she’s actually Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom, via Tony Curtis. So maybe that’s the confusion at the root of it, but either way, I don’t have anything to say about any of this, and as the old adage goes, If you don’t have something topical to say, don’t say anything at all.
I’m Going to Florida: Actually, I already went. Flew down to Sarasota. Sat in a tikki bar in and watched football games. Drove to the Keys. Got bit up by mosquitoes in the Everglades. Even my knuckles. You ever heard of mosquito bites all over your knuckles? Rascally bastards. Anyway, it’s all part of my annual commitment to get warm for a week every January. You see, the thing is, I’m soft. I’m weak. I hate being cold. And getting warm for a spell means a lot to me. It means more than writing this goddamn essay, that’s for sure. And anyway, I had to figure out what to do with the cat that’s not my cat yet while I was gone. If it had a name, I probably woulda just taken him with me. Set him up on the bar. Buy him a fish taco and a daiquiri, maybe a straw hat. But we’re not at that point in our relationship yet, so he stayed behind and slept in the papa san. Or maybe he slept in the impromptu Cat House we made for him. No, not that kind of Cat House. You’re filthy. I can’t write for people like you. Minds in the gutter.
I’m Drunk: Goddamn right I am.
The fuck you lookin’ at?
THANKS, Obama!: As a historian, I have no assessment of Barack Obama’s presidency. My lot usually waits a generation before making professional, academic analyses of people and events. We’re all about the 20/20 hindsight, ya know. But as a regular ole person in this here United States country, I think Obama was pretty middle-of-the-road mediocre. He did some things really well, like work hard to compromise, maintain the dignity of the office, rise above the ever worsening partisanship, voice good values, put the nation’s interests in front of his own, and keep us out of anymore stupid wars. He also did some things really badly, like failing to realize that working hard to compromise and maintaining the dignity of the office weren’t enough to overcome ever worsening partisanship, or that voicing good values and putting the nation’s interests first weren’t enough to coax many of his political opponents into putting the nation’s interests in front of their own, or that threatening military action (Assad’s use of chemical weapons is “a red line” that would have “enormous consequences”) and then not following up might actually make things worse when someone calls your bluff.
But most of all, I think Obama was a plain old middling president. His signature achievements are middling. ObamaCare wasn’t horrible like Republicans said. For starters, guess what? There aren’t any death panels! Federal star chambers aren’t issuing death warrants for Gradma. Go figure. And some insurance company abuses were reined in, while some people really got the insurance they needed. Some, not all. Twenty million uninsured people got insurance. There are still 29 million without. And what’s more, ObamaCare didn’t fix America’s broken system, It just expanded it by pushing uninsured working people into it, and punishing those who refused. It’s still private insurance, the prices for individuals didn’t come down as much as promised/hoped, and the only thing most people on it can afford is something that amounts to catastrophic care: big co-payments and enormous deductibles mean you’re still paying out of pocket for almost anything short of a genuine calamity like cancer or a major injury. And that’s on top of thousands for premiums. Don’t forget, ObamaCare is basically a turn of the 21st century Republican Party market-oriented plan for helatcare reform, not some grand Liberal experiment, much less socialism.
Oh, and the economy. Obama inherited a very broken economy. And he kinda, sorta fixed it, but too slowly and not as much as he could have. He did a better job than Europe of falling into the austerity trap, but not good enough. Is it better than when he found it eight years ago? You bet yer ass it is. Even a guffawing little Republican, sitting in a coat closet on the day after Christmas and being a naughty boy with an Ayn Rand novel can’t deny that. But did he fix it enough? Obviously not. Or we wouldn’t have an orange hot air balloon as our next president. Could Obama have done more? Not after the 2010 midterm elections. Once the Republicans got the House, it signaled the bitter end of Obama ever having an effective legislative agenda, even if Obama himself seems to have been the last one to recognize that.
Could Obama have done more? Not after the 2010 midterm elections. Once the Republicans got the House, it signaled the bitter end of him ever having an effective domestic agenda, even if Obama himself seems to have been the last one to recognize that.
But Obama could’ve done more during those first two years when Democrats had Congress. Instead, he focused on passing mediocre healthcare reform. Which is now going to be dismantled anyway, in part because people are angry that the economy’s not as good as they want it to be, so some of them voted for an angry balloon.
In the end, what did we get out of all this other than Obama’s admirable examples of dignity and comportment? Don’t say LGBT marriage. We were getting that anyway.
The truth is, I’m not really sure. Feel free to chime in.
Maybe it’s because everything feels fuzzy and even numb at the moment, but if I had to guess, when the time comes I suspect Historians will rank the 44th president 22nd. However, at least until he’s out of office next week, Republicans continue to pretend Obama’s the anti-Christ, blaming him for everything from Benghazi to getting caught in the coat closet the day after Easter while eating Cheetos and being naughty while reading Milton Friedman. And if they can do it, why can’t I?
I’m not writing this essay. And it’s Barry Hussein Obama’s fault. And Hillary Clinton’s. It’s probably her fault too.
TrumpMania!: The nation is eating itself, like a farmer’s pig breaking free of its pen, waddling down to the swamp, turning feral, and gnawing on its own ham hock. Nothing matters.
An even lazier version of this essay originally appeared at 3QuarksDaily.com.