Sunday, March 21, 2010

Songs for Lola

As readers of this blog will recall, on Superbowl Sunday we added another member to our family, one Lola Elizabeth Buckelew. My step-daughter Sara found herself getting to the end of her fertile age and was without a partner, as so often has happened with high achieving professional women, alas. Sara is a double-boarded pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist, with a subspecialty in adolescent medicine, and is director of the UCSF eating disorders program. We’re very proud of her, but it does seem she has paid a price.

So Sara bravely decided to have a baby on her own, and the happy result was Lola. For the first six weeks Sara and Lola have been staying with us, which is just fine with us. It’s been a long time since a baby has been in the house, our youngest, Pete, now being 26. And thankfully Lola is a very good baby, no excessive crying, regular habits. She does grunt a lot in a very unladylike fashion, and is a regular fart and poop machine, but as grandparents, we figure that’s mostly Sara’s problem, and we just chuckle at little Lola.

Both my wife Ann and I have regained our newborn skills. We do well with soothing. Lola likes to be held, and we hold her. Lola looks askance and we jump. We each take her and walk her and keep going, terrified if we stop she will wail, but she never really does. When Lola poops we hand her to Sara. We are, after all, grandparents.

So as Lola has matured in these six weeks, she has demanded songs. Babies without songs are bereft indeed. Ann and I have had to go back into our memories and come up with songs. It has been a long, long time since we sang to babies. Not sure we did such a good job of it with our own. But now with all our years of experience, and the luxury of having just one baby and three adults, we can search for the proper songs.

It was hard at first. I came up with “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard Want Victory Today.” Dunno, just trying to come up with a song. Sara objected and tried Roar Lion Roar, her Columbia fight song, but could remember only that line. We looked it up on Google and got some other lines, but she couldn’t quite get the tune. Sara isn’t that musical.

Ann came up with the California fight song. It was more like a response to my Ten Thousand Men of Harvard than a real solution. A counter-non-solution, I guess you could call it.

Farmer in the Dell was OK, and seemed to capture some attention, but that’s pretty dull. When the Bough Breaks did it for a while, but it’s hard to continue that one.

So, I made up a song. I kind of like it. It goes like this: “Lola is a good girl, a good girl, a good girl, Lola is a good girl,” and then you add any final line that you want. Like, for instance, “She has very cute nose.” Or, “She poops all of the time.” Or, “She loves me better than you.” It’s a good song for improvising. Its downside is that it’s one of those songs that sticks in your head, so you have to be careful with it.

Anyway, that’s a pretty good solution for right now. But it didn’t quite fit Ann. She had to come up with her own, which she did.

Now, you have to know Ann a bit to understand that she is not in the least saccharine. She always looks at life a little aslant. You’re never quite sure what she will come up with. But I have to say, her solution to the song for the grandchild took even me by surprise. I think it took even her by surprise.

Picture Ann with Lola lovingly in her arms, as she purrs to Lola, The Theme From “Cops.” “Whatcha gonna do when they come for you – bad boys, bad boys!” “Whatcha gonna do???” “When they come for you????”

We just had to laugh with the power of the unconscious. It’s just pretty funny. Her version of Rockabye Baby isn’t everyone’s. Could it be coincidence that we have two sons in law enforcement, do you think?

Just had to laugh.

Budd Shenkin

Friday, March 19, 2010

What's Up With Kucinich?

Dennis Kucinich was dead set against the health care reform legislation because it didn’t meet his criteria. Then he met with President Obama. Afterwards, Kucinich says he’ll vote for it. He says that he was offered nothing by Obama that would account for his vote change. Then, completely uncharacteristically for Kucinich, he started recruiting colleagues to follow his lead and vote for the bill.

What gives?

I have absolutely no inside information, and haven’t even followed the commentary very closely lately. But here’s what I think.

I think Obama told him that he needs to pass health care reform or his presidency is effectively dead. The bill is not completely repellent; it’s good enough not to be ashamed of. It will be very significant domestic legislation. It can be improved later on. And as Axelrod says, at this point they are all in. It’s now success or failure.

And then, here is what I think Obama said next. I think he said, after we pass health reform, I’m not stopping. I’m going to use this as a springboard for the next thing- financial reform. I’m going to double down – I’m going to be more aggressive, not less. And I’m really going after the banks. We gave enough money to them to stabilize the system – now we’re going after them.

It makes perfect sense for policy. Pivot away from Summers/Gaithner, over to Paul Volcker. Resurrect separation of deposit and investment banks, Glass-Steagall. Institute controls and transparency. Start a consumer financial protection agency. Dodd’s bill isn’t strong enough, but maybe they can get the House to be stronger, the way it was before Barney Frank went soft on us.

Then push the hell out of it and gain popular, populist support. Go for a 1934 – the only time beside 2002 that the incumbent party picked up seats in the off year election. Be very aggressive, which is what Roosevelt did. Take a chance. Say, we tried to be bi-partisan and what did we get? We tried to get some support by incorporating some of their ideas, and what did we get? We tried to include them, and what did we get?

I might have been a little na├»ve, but I’m not dumb. If we’re going to do something, we going to have to be aggressive. And we do have to do something. This country hasn’t been in this kind of a mess for a long time, so these are things we have to do. We won’t exclude them, and if they want to be part of this, they’re welcome to join us and weigh in. But we’re not going to wait around the way we did for health care. I’m not that dumb.

Then, see if the Republicans can be goaded into defending Wall Street. They will support “free markets” and decry “socialism,” but if they do, we can say – why are you defending the banks? And we’ve got them.

In other words, they went all in for health care – now double down.

How could Kucinich resist this?

It could be a hot summer and into the fall. Here’s hoping.

Budd Shenkin