It’s in the water; it’s in the air. No other explanation: American culture is transmitted by some means we cannot detect or prevent. Gnat got on her trike tonight and started driving in circles as fast as she could. “Rock an’ roll!” she said. “Rock an’ roll!”

What? I said.

“Rock an roll!

“Do you mean that in the blues-based carnal allusion sense, or the sanitized Alan Freed backbeat for brylcreemed white-teen sense, or -”

Rocking an’ roll!” she said. “Rocking an’ roll! Rocking!”

Today she started preschool. Took the obligatory First Day of School picture, and mindful of my mother’s decision to photograph me on the front steps of the house, and thus measure my growth in annual increments, we posed Gnat on the back steps. I lobbied for the front steps, since the view’s better. Wife wanted back steps. Back steps it was. We’re committed. Every First Day picture from here on must be taken from the same angle, with Gnat standing on the second step. <tevyevoice> End fy duz a men votograf is dotter ze same as zis mutder did? Tradizhun! </tevyevoice> She had a splendid time - but it’s only two hours. She could do twice that. So could I. The work detail for the coming year is going to be grim; those two hours will be column time for Daddy. Drop her off, speed home, write the column at the kitchen table. Once my wife starts working I don’t think I’ll be able to go to the office at all. At least until kindergarten.

Can’t wait to check my voicemail in 05. You have six trillion messages. Press one to listen. Press two to delete.


Tonight we had chicken. Free-range, antibiotic free, low-stress, non GMO-grain-fed chicken. It was horrible. It was like eating chicken-flavored Silly Putty. I blame the marinade. But of course I always do; that’s my easy out. What, Iran has nukes? J’accuse le marinade! Gnat ate all her chicken, and inquired: “what’s for dessert, father?” (I love that. Sometimes she calls me “Papa,” which makes me feel like Kindly Gepetto; when she calls me “Father” I feel like a Victorian patriarch.)

“Kosher Ice Cream,” I said.

“Kosha izescheme?”

“Yes.” It was left over from the quasi-kosher meal I made for Medved et al a few weeks ago. I completely forgot about dessert. Since you don’t mix milk and meat, and since I was serving meat, I got some kosher frozen dessert. Chocolate fudge / vanilla. Not bad at all. It was soy-based, of course. Just like the soy-based vodka I had the other day: different, and not entirely bad at all. But I have an image of this conveyor belt heaped with soybeans heading into an Archer-Daniels Midland plant; on the other side of the building are various nozzles marked VODKA and ICE CREAM and ERSATZ BURGER PATTIES, and the goop plops out into trucks that take the stuff away to the post-production facilities. At this point they could market the stuff with the “people” suffix - People’sCream. People’sVokda. People’sBurgers. And the ads could have a Heston impersonator complete with kerchief: People’s Cream is made out of Soy!

No, I can’t get that movie out of my mind.

I’ve been watching the Democratic debate tonight, paying attention to Dean, the only candidate who really counts at this point. He always seems impatient. Even when he’s cracking wise, making a joke, he seems impatient that we haven’t agreed he’s the smartest person in the room, okay? There’s a brusque and contemptuous aspect to his personality, and that’s one of the things that makes his supporters love him: brio! Passion! Nervy acerbic wit! Some Republicans quaver when they think of Dean carving up Bush in a debate with his Fearsome Laser Tongue, and they have a point; Bush is often dull and stumble-mouthed when he’s in Official Presidential Mode. But he’s different when he’s in Crawford Mode. I remember a press conference he did with Putin at a Texas school - he just draped himself over the podium, completely at ease, spoke his mind, charmed the house. If that Bush shows up for the debates, the worst he’ll get is a draw. Dean’s bouncy nervy energy will look annoying, high-handed, and perhaps unsuited to the demands of the office. But of course we don't know which Dean will show up for the debates, either; could be the Sober, Moderate Dean Who is SMARTER THAN YOU F(#*$@#G IDIOTS -Wha? Time's up?

Confidence that comes from the heart & gut usually plays better than confidence that comes from the brain. Whoa! A new theory, developed here at the kitchen table at 12:13 AM! It’s like Rock-paper-scissors.

Heart and gut beat brain.
Brain beats heart if there's no gut.
Gut beats brain if brain has no heart.
Brain and gut beans heart.

Okay, I’m just making this up as I go along. But consider: Clinton had a spectacular ability to combine heart, brain and gut into one meaty electable package. Reagan was mostly gut. Nixon was brain. Carter: heart and brain, no gut. Mondale: brain. Dukakis: brain. Dole: gut, but one that concluded in a colostomy bag. Gore: brain. Bush 2000: ran on brain-heart ticket, probably elected because people suspected he had gut. Bush 04: heart-gut. Dean: BRAINBRAINBRAIN.

He’ll probably get the nomination. Look at him: smiles, energy, enthusiasm. Only Kerry counts, and he's a lemon-sucker. But how many Dems agree with Dean: we should not take sides in the Middle East.

We should be neutral about two suicide bombings in one day?

When we read a story about an emergency-room doctor blown up with his daughter, and we read about people pouring into the streets to celebrate the doctor's death, we should look deep into our hearts and find that most precious commodity: eternal forebearance of Jew-killers.

Forty people injured. Do I know forty people? Sure. Now imagine them all in the hospital, missing limbs and eyes and swaths of flesh, nails and ballbearings in their legs and organs. Everyone I know, hurting.

What will President Dean do when a bus blows up in Herald Square, and we learn that the terrorists are based in Syrian-controlled Lebanon? What will he do the first day of his administration when he reads the briefing papers, and realizes we’re at war, and the ball is in his court?

Pull out of Iraq?

I don’t know. Responsibility changes people. Dean, perversely, might have a freer hand - the right couldn’t complain if he moved against Axis O’ Evil countries, and the editorialists would applaud him until their palms bled, because he was one of them, and had redefined Bush's Whee-Ha- Cowboy Crusade into a struggle for civilization's survival. (Note: fine by me. If American jets take out Iranian enrichment facilities, I don't give a tinker's damn if the man who gave the go-order was a D or an R. I can live with triumphalism from the NYT editorial page writers exhalting President Dean for his farsighted attack. See also, FDR: 1. regrettable and largely inefficatious expansion of government approved by; 2. utterly necessary defeat of Naziism under the watch of)

If Gore had been Prez c. 9/11, I don’t know what he would have done. Truly. I think Dean would have hit Afghanistan. But I think he would have stopped there - and that would have meant that half-measures and salaams to multilateral action would have diffused our reaction, and guaranteed that Qusay and Uday ran the shop in 2010.

We’ll see. Now I have to get back to work - I didn’t want to start this with a bitchy litany of all the things I have to do, but oy: Tuesdays just bite. National column due by noon. Local Thursday column due by five. Sunday column must be completed before I go to bed. After that, the bleat. I say this only as a warning: if Wednesday bleats get thin, that’s why. I’m still figuring this schedule out. See you tomorrow, with an explanation of what that picture at the top of the page really means.

If you haven’t guessed already, that is.

(Links courtesy of LGF. Of course.)

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