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…with this morning’s jaw-dropping announcement that Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is leaving the Republican party to join the Democrats.

I say jaw-dropping, but really, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a few more moderate Republicans follow in his footsteps.

With McCain’s resounding loss in November, the Republican Party has been lacking a clear voice and leader, leaving it increasingly vulnerable to the rantings of the more extreme elements within it.

People like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck. And let us not forget the extremely scary Newt Gingrich.

And the visibility of those more extreme voices further marginalize the party, causing more and more moderate Republicans to abandon their party for independent or democratic status.

Meanwhile, no matter how much the Faux News people want to holler about socialism, Obama has if anything brought the Democrats closer to the middle than they were before (something that pisses off liberals like yours truly, but whatever).

Given the apparent public distaste for the extreme positions currently adopted by many high-profile Republicans at the moment, one is forced to wonder about the logic of the proponents of such positions.

I have my own theory about this. Regular readers of this blog will not be at all surprised to learn that it relates to terror management theory. But I will save that speculation for a subsequent post … check back in a day or so for that.

Meanwhile, in other news, I think the Department of Justice should open a war crimes investigation into the activities of the Bush administration. Just sayin’…

jane doe

Okay, I’d written this whole thing about how the wingnuts who want to teabag the White House really ought to consult before they embarrass themselves further, and pointing out the logical failings behind this supposed grass-roots protest, but really, David Shuster did a much better job last night on Countdown, so I’ll just let him say it:

Her name was French for “you paid too much for that coffee”, but the name came with her when we got her from an organization that raises guide dogs for the blind, and there was no changing it.

She was a beautiful yellow lab, though a bit heavyset in her later years as she became less active. She came to us after a brief stint with a blind person in California. She lost the guide dog gig because she never really shook the instinct to chase birds and squirrels, and that’s a really bad trait for a guide dog to have. But she was very loving and well-behaved outside of the birding tendencies.

For a number of years, she worked with my mom as a therapy dog at the local hospital, where patients and staff alike adored her. She would work with patients in physical therapy and would also visit children in the oncology unit on a regular basis, and always left smiles in her wake. She seemed to know which patients could play and which were more fragile and just wanted a little affection. Fuzz therapy, I called it.

One of her favorite things to do was go for rides in the car, and when the weather allowed it, she would often accompany my mother on her errands around town. Sometimes when my dad was restless, he and Latte would just go for drives up in the mountains or out in the country. She would also go on frequent walks through Garden of the Gods with me when she was younger.

Even in her later years, she remained good natured and affectionate. When my brother’s toddler would climb all over her, she would just kind of look at us with a slight doggy smile on her face, wagging her tail once or twice to let us know she was willing to suffer the indignity of being a climbing toy for a drooling 14-month-old.

When the end came, it was relatively quick, and she did not seem to suffer much. In her final days with us she was showered with love and affection, and when she stopped eating and was having trouble walking, we took her to the vet, who ended her suffering when it became clear that her organs were failing and this was not a temporary problem she could recover from.

She was a good dog, and she will be missed by all who knew her. She’s left a hole in our lives, but those lives were richer for having her in it for the time we had with her.

Rest in peace, Latte. If there’s a heaven for doggies, I know you’re there now, scaring all the birds in sight.

jane doe

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April 2009