The Distant Horizon: Critiquing Obama’s DNC speech.


BlaiseP is the pseudonym of a peripatetic software contractor whose worldly goods can fit into an elderly Isuzu Rodeo. Bitter and recondite, he favors the long view of life, the chords of Steely Dan and Umphrey's McGee, the writings of William Vollman and Thomas Pynchon, the taste of red ale and his own gumbo. Having escaped after serving seven years of a lifetime sentence to confinement in hotel rooms, he currently resides in the wilds of Eau Claire County and contemplates the intersection of mixed SRID geometries in PostGIS.

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68 Responses

  1. Mary G says:

    I also thought it was a sermon, though I didn’t think of that particular script. At one point, I shouted “Preach it, Brother Barack” at my computer screen. I saw two branches of the message. One was aimed at the base to whip up their enthusiasm, because the ground game and turnout will be everything this cycle, and the other was aimed at the undecided voter. This had to be more low key and serious. If he had done the unicorn-and-ponies-5-million-green-jobs speech he gave in 2008, they would have been seriously turned off because that doesn’t match the current climate and the actual conditions in the country. It struck me almost like a sermon that you might hear at a funeral – God makes us suffer, we don’t know why, but we have to have faith and if we do everything will eventually be clear.

    In addition, it was almost unnecessary to give almost any speech at all. Mrs. Obama, President Clinton, Sister Simone, Gabby Giffords, the honest and beautiful tributes to the military and many, many more had knocked it out of the park and I think the delegates and the press were running on fumes at that point. The two soundbites of “take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call me in the morning” and “my opponents are…new…to foreign policy” were all that was needed.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Mary G says:

      There’s a lot of truth in that: he did want to fire up the base. But as I pointed out in my summary and as Jaybird observes below, not even all his friends thought it was to their liking.

      Are there any undecided voters out there to convince? I don’t think so. This was a sermon aimed at the backsliders and the doubters. It wasn’t a funeral sermon: the best funeral sermon is from Psalm 90 and I’ve preached it myself several times. So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

      Obama, as I said, is giving us a snapshot of himself, as he is at present. The Democratic Party is faced with a situation where Obama’s win will at best be a narrow victory. The pundits wanted ice cream and fireworks and they didn’t get them. The Sabbath Gasbags don’t know what to make of this sermon: they’re all heathens and don’t like this rhetorical form.

      But as you say, Obama’s delegated the pyrotechnics to others, in accordance with the proverb of Solomon: Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. It’s better if Bill Clinton and Gabby Giffords and everyone else says fine things about him: coming from his own mouth, at this stage of the game, with gas prices and unemployment still stubbornly higher than we might wish, America’s hurting too badly for a sitting president to boast about his accomplishments. Obama gave those victories, and there was a bit of that, to the people who put him there: “You’re the reason.” Nice touch, that, particularly because it’s true.Report

      • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to BlaiseP says:

        “Are there any undecided voters out there to convince? I don’t think so.”

        What about “Decided but Could Be Convinced”. We’ve seen a few of those here in the League. How many will be so turned off by the lies of Romney and the sins of Ryan (for a Catholic, bearing false witness is one of the Biggies), and either vote None Of The Above (aka, the coward’s vote) or, however reluctantly, pull the lever for Obama? I think this speech was aimed at them, and may do some good.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

          Well, putting aside the good this speech might do them, the “Undecideds” were more likely watching Honey Boo Boo than the President’s speech. This wasn’t for the Undecideds, who I have concluded are rarer than yetis. This speech was for the Democrats.

          In orienteering school in the US Army, I was taught (and would later teach) to keep at least two working reference points. As the traveller moves from origin to destination, he ought to periodically turn around, to see the track he’s followed and re-establish his bearings. A good traveller follows his compass, not the path set out by others. He keeps his map pointed north when he checks it. And if he can, he stacks up three stones to mark his way.

          Obama’s looking both backward and forward. The Undecideds don’t matter. The Doubting Thomas-es, they do matter.Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Far beyond my competence to analyze, but a very interesting take–a perspective I never would have considered on my own (not that I bothered to watch the speech, so I could hardly have a perspective, but if I had…). One of my favorite posts of yours, because while I can’t add anything to it, or make any rebuttal/critique of it, it’s going to have me thinking for a while.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    His enemies think it’s a terrible speech.

    There are those who consider themselves his allies who think that it wasn’t very good.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

      It certainly wasn’t what anyone was expecting. Obama knew it wasn’t what anyone in that hepped-up audience wanted to hear but it was what they needed to hear; the country’s in a terrible place just now and there’s no sugar coating this situation.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

        That thing that Churchill said: something something KEEP GOING.

        The problem is that a lot of what we’re going through is merely the business cycle that was kicked to the right a couple of times too many and we’ve got to wring out the rot before we can really get going again. There’s not a whole lot that can be done on a governmental level with the possible exception of “slowing the process down” which has the upside of making it less painful but carries with it the downside of making it take longer.

        And that choice is pretty much the choice we have and neither side has particularly communicated that they understand this.

        But I’m not saying anything I haven’t said 100 times before.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

          I once attended a series of lectures by a Buddhist monk who said “If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying any number of times.”Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

            How many times did he say it?Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              The Buddha had an attendant, a cousin of his named Ananda. He was always asking the Buddha questions. He wasn’t a big player in the Buddha’s inner circle but he memorised the speeches. When the Buddha died and his followers gathered to write down all he had taught them, it was poor Ananda to whom they turned to repeat it all.Report

    • Scott Fields in reply to Jaybird says:

      It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” sort of thing, isn’t it?

      Offer lofty rhetoric and you’re dinged for getting everyone’s hopes up. Offer a grounded assessment of plausible progress and you’re dinged for being uninspiring. Is it any wonder politicians won’t give it to us straight?

      I thought Obama’s transition from transformational figure as candidate to sober figure as office holder was completely appropriate and a telling contrast to the fantasy Romney is selling where tax cuts and limits to only those government programs that benefit “them” not “us” will bring fiscal balance and robust growth.

      The question that remains is are there enough grown-ups in the electorate to choose the more realistic path forward.Report

  4. CK MacLeod says:

    Thank you, BlaiseP. I agree with much of what you, with your usual impressive range of expression, have pointed out, but I think you underrate the overdetermined necessity of just this approach by O: He had to let himself be a little smaller to encourage those with ears to hear to be a little bigger. Let me point you to David Corn’s take, which puts the matter in terms of political strategy and a rather obvious theme of “values,” but gets at something absolutely essential by the end, beginning with a quote from Mary J Blige, who had spoken earlier: “‘”The message: We are all in this together.’ Obama is asking voters to determine if that’s an American reality or just a hope.” The theme is “it’s in your (all of our) hands,” not mine, to be or to become, or to maintain and renew ourselves as, a community of citizens first and foremost (rather than, say, a set of economisms), or to grasp at the Republican alternative which, whatever else it may represent to its backers, would represent an interruption and retrenchment on behalf of a vision that even the Republicans themselves cannot make out for us coherently, and which, to the extent they have made it out for us, is a rather frightening and dizzying mass of contradictions.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to CK MacLeod says:

      That’s a cogent observation, one I had thought to expand more forcefully, that Obama not only gave the credit to others, saying “You’re the reason” but in so saying, put the cause in their hands as well.

      Specially liked this bit: to be or to become, or to maintain and renew ourselves as, a community of citizens first and foremost (rather than, say, a set of economisms), or to grasp at the Republican alternative which, whatever else it may represent to its backers, would represent an interruption and retrenchment on behalf of a vision that even the Republicans themselves cannot make out for us coherently, and which, to the extent they have made it out for us, is a rather frightening and dizzying mass of contradictions.

      An exceeding fine turn of phrase, that.Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

        The GOP is quite coherent: A nation is its society, not its government. The government is subservient, not master. The left has it all backwards: “The Government is the only thing we all belong to.” [DNC 2012 video]

        The DNC video pulled a Kinsley-an gaffe and accidentally said what it believes.

        ” I would just like to say something, ladies and gentlemen.
        Something that I think is very important. It is that, you, we
        — we own this country.
        We — we own it. It is not you owning it, and not
        politicians owning it. Politicians are employees of ours.

        [Clint Eastwood, 2012 RNC]

        This sounds like a distinction without a difference to the left, but they are wrong.Report

        • The incoherence is in its most obvious and banal form on the level of policy: an ever-expanding defense budget + massive tax cuts that by unspecified means is somehow also to be taken as seriousness on fiscal matters. On a deeper level, a society that does not cohere as a society, including through whatever political institutions and customs, is not a society at all.

          And that was the Republican gaffe, that the right sees as a distinction without a difference, but is wrong about. We do not “own” the country. The country isn’t real estate. We are the country, and Republicans and especially wealthy old men in uncertain control of their faculties do not “own” us. We are not your property, nor your slaves, and you didn’t build that either. To whatever extent the country is still a democratic project, our politicians are not “employees,” either, because popular self-government is not a business. The right’s blind spot has to with why the RNC 2012 presented a diffuse and chaotic image of every ambitious politician for himself, pushing an every man for himself ideology.Report

          • In the words of Lesley Gore, CK. You don’t own me. Of course we “own” this country, not the government. The left doesn’t recognize the pre-political: life, liberty, property. Inalienable rights endowed by our creator. Yes, Pres Obama stuck that into his speech, but you and I both know that the leftpersons @ LoOG and elsewhere think that’s pap.

            Let’s just tell the truth for once.

            We are not your property, nor your slaves, and you didn’t build that either.

            Damn skippy, Mr. Obama, you and all your “communitarian” friends who control the government [for now]. Catholic bishops must hand out condoms to their employees, figuratively speaking.

            No, this will not stand. Clint Eastwood is feeling it, and I bet more than half the voters this November do too. Goddam right the president’s our employee, and he’s getting his gold watch, thank you and goodbye.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              That’s where the difference lies, Tom. The Republicans are now set in enmity to “the government”. To you lot, it’s not our government. You really ought to quit pledging allegiance to the republic, for you think you own the country for which it stands. You have become the worst of traitors, the traitor who thinks he’s acting in the interests of the nation.

              You do not own this nation, not yet anyway. Have your little pity parties with your Catholic bishops: let history show who they are and what they want. For centuries they held sway over kings and principalities and the Pope’s guillotine is still on display in Castel SantAngelo.

              This is a republic, not your goddamn temp agency. We give mandate to our elected officials for set periods of time. Even the Supreme Court appointees must survive scrutiny by Congress.

              I wrote some while back I could not bring myself to condemn Clint Eastwood. He’s an old man, grown foolish and intemperate. But you, Tom, are another story. The President of the United States is not your employee. You are at best a stockholder. You have no mandate for terminating anyone.Report

            • James H. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              government. The left doesn’t recognize the pre-political: life, liberty, property. Inalienable rights endowed by our creator.

              Sure, that’s exactly why they say it’s fundamentally wrong to put the rights of homosexuals up to a vote. Whereas conservatives, who do believe in the ore political and inalienable rights and whatnot do believe in putting their fellow citizens’ rights in the hands of the political process.

              Yes, it all makes perfect sense, once we’ve gone through the looking glass.Report

            • James H. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              No, this will not stand. Clint Eastwood is feeling it, and I bet more than half the voters this November do too. Goddam right the president’s our employee, and he’s getting his gold watch, thank you and goodbye.

              Are you serious about betting? I don’t think Obama’s got it in the bag, but I will take that wager. Seriously. Talk is cheap–let’s move beyond cheap talk and prove whether we really believe in what we say.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to James H. says:

                I got an even grand on the election with my mom, even odds. She initially stated that Romney wins in a landslide but then backed down to a simple side bet, no spread. And she’s not even a Republican or a conservative… she just thinks as a scholar of history that she can read tea leaves better than Silver can read polls.Report

              • James H. in reply to Kazzy says:

                I’m still hoping MFarmer will go big with me on his Romney with 55% of the vote claim (or something like that).Report

            • zic in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              You speak of the government as is it’s other. I don’t understand this construction, and hope you can explain it; for if we are not the government, who is?

              As a liberal, I get really peeved at environmentalists who speak of nature and humans as something separate; we’re here and nature’s over there, and there must be some invisible wall between. I always want to point out that, no, we are part of nature, we depend on the environment, it’s a whole that you can’t take humans out of without the end of humans.

              Well, the same distinction holds true with ‘the government,’ at least in this country where we do not have kings and serfs or dictators ans slaves.

              Our government is created by our common agreement to the constitution and charters for state, county, and town/city creation, and it’s refined by the legislative and judicial arms of government. Governments at all these levels are run by people we elect and the people they appoint. The employees come from within our communities. All government in this country has rules concerning posting asvance notice and allowing time for public comment and debate before laws pass, rules change, elections. So government is slow, particularly compared to business, when any action is taken that changes the rules for the people who are governed to allow those same people time to participate in the change, to shape it and refine it to suit their needs. Because it’s their government.

              So can you please explain to me what this outside invader, this monster you say attempts to own this nation, might be? What’s the purpose of this distinction other then to suggest you own this nation, but somebody else, somebody different, doesn’t?Report

        • Cermet in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Your wing nut TVD is showing when you think a single short sentence said one night during the DNC reveals a deep, ultra-dark secret (along with death camps and black helicopters, no doubt) when you say:

          “The DNC video pulled a Kinsley-an gaffe and accidentally said what it believes.”

          TVD, you should strongly consider getting professional treatment and some Meds and fast if you think that out of the hundreds of thousands of words spoken by some many speakers all those nights that this reveals the true motives behind the vast secret (UN ?) run system and the democrats are out to impose on our naive society some agenda that seeks to change ownership of the country. All I can add is LOL about what you TVD think and you need to get a grip, or meds.Report

  5. Michelle says:

    I noticed the sermon element of the speech myself and got somewhat verklemplt by the end. I appreciate your analysis. To me, the first, fairly pedestrian, part of the speech seemed detached from the second part, so much so I almost tuned out about halfway through. But the second part brought back the Obama poetry from the last campaign, chastened this time around, humbled by the realities of the situstion he inherited and the intrangience of his political opponents. There’s no way the President could have offered the buoyant vision of 2008. Most of us know it isn’t true and know that the economic landscape has shifted in ways that belie the possibility of rapid economic growth or swift recovery.

    I also liked the return to the theme of hope. A lot of people confuse hope with optimism, but hope is a very different beast. Optimism posits that everything always works out for the best, that there’s always a happy ending, a bigger, brighter future ahead. Hope knows better. Hope is in it for the long haul, able to endure hard times and press forward even if the outcome is uncertain. Reagan was the voice of optimism, the put-a-happy-face-on-it attitude that made him such a contrast to Carter. Americans, by and large, love optimism. I’m not sure how they feel about Niebuhrian realism.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Michelle says:

      The Romney speech in comparison was all banal platitudes and macho fantasy. The most cringe-inducing aspect was his call for a new American Century, forgetting the events that made the last one, which lasted for all of three or so decades, possible. Time for Mr. Romney to do a bit of reading on why empires fail. No humility for the Mittster. That would be unAmerican.Report

    • CK MacLeod in reply to Michelle says:

      I’m not sure how they feel about Niebuhrian realism.

      If the only alternative is catastrophe, then the question is how much of one they/we need to bring about to convince ourselves of the fact.Report

    • Scott Fields in reply to Michelle says:

      …chastened this time around

      I like the way you’ve put it. There is a self awareness in that which is pretty rare in our public figures. It is not surprising that the pundits don’t know how to respond to it. They tend to see as a weakness what I would consider a strength.Report

  6. wardsmith says:

    Missed the sermon, but is it true he changed Reverend Wright’s “G-D America” to G-D Republicans?Report

    • Kazzy in reply to wardsmith says:


      A totally honest and sincere question and one I hope does not offend…

      You are not the first I’ve seen whose referred to Wright’s speech as “G-D America”. But didn’t he actually say “Goddamn America”? I’m a bit curious as to the censoring of the phrase. Not critical, but curious, as I’ve never really seen people do it in a non-joking way. But the folks whom I do hear it from seem to do it very seriously. Do you consider the phrase “Goddamn” to be that verboten? I totally respect if you do… I’m just trying to understand.


      • CK MacLeod in reply to Kazzy says:

        Don’t know if it’s a matter of belief or habit/upbringing for Ward, but there are those who take the commandment not to “take the Lord’s name in vain” quite seriously.

        A supporter of Rev Wright’s would counter that, far from taking the name in vain, he was speaking prophetically (and truly). Naturally, he then had to go through a version of media martyrdom, though in our age we are often satisfied by tearing apart the image and merely banishing the body, rather than tearing apart both.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          Fair enough. I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious area of the country. I suppose I know people who wouldn’t say it, but I never really saw it abbreviated as such, especially when quoting. Again, I respect whatever conventions people have when it comes to the language they’re comfortable with… this is just a new one to me. Thanks.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

            Observant Jews never write out the name of The Almighty either.

            [Edit] Actually, they do. The sofrim who letter Torahs (it generally takes a year to letter one) will write out a large section, leaving spaces for the Holy Name. Then, they’ll go to mikveh, purify themselves, take a separate pen and make separate ink and spend that day filling in the Holy Name in the work they’ve done.

            I always wanted to be a sofer. It would be the ultimate religious endeavour, to letter a Torah.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

        Some people make a point of Not Taking The LORD’S Name In Vain.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, I’m immediately inclined to point out the difference between “Goddamn” and “God Damn”.

        The former is language appropriate for, oh, hockey.

        The latter is to be contrasted with “God Bless”. The sermon made a riff on “God Bless America?!? God Damn America!!!” and Republicans went on to question the patriotism of a person who would go to a church where the pastor would make such a sermon.

        “Dude, I go so Michelle can see and be seen and parents are just expected to take their children to church in my community and sitting and counting time until kickoff is something that every single male in the church was doing” is not, in fact, as good a defense as you’d think it ought to be.

        And, anyway, John Hagee.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Kazzy says:

        They ought to merely write it out. G-d condemn America.
        Not swearing then, is it?Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Kazzy says:


        Umm, CK is closest it is mostly a matter of upbringing. My dad flavored every other sentence with the phrase and as a young man I made the conscious decision to /not/ follow in those footsteps. Looking at what a mess he made of his own life there could indeed be an element of prophetic or perhaps Pygmalion effect in the repeated utterance. No point in casting curses

        Mostly I was trying (and yet again failing) to play tongue-in-cheek, a game best left of course to the inestimable Jaybird but one I continue to try and emulate.Report

      • Cermet in reply to Kazzy says:

        Many people do not want to spell God because they believe that droping one letter meets the requirement not to ‘possibly’ use G-d’s name in vain. Not a big deal or impostant – just something most Jews and others follow to be on the safe side, I guess.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    I tuned out during most of it, since it seemed a lot more policy and a lot less principal. While the former is important, the latter is more interesting, I feel. Seemed primarily like a laundry list of “We did this!” and “We did that!” and “We’ll do this!” and “They’d do that!” Well, the first half at least… Zazzy was working late and got home at that point and she is decidedly more interesting than the President.

    I will see that he seemed to have a bit of his swagger back. He just seemed to have a bounce in his step, something I hadn’t noticed in him in a while. Hard to explain. Seemed a bit more engaging, more self-assured, more calm-cool-and-collected. Had he always been this way? Seemed like some of that veneer got worn away over the last 8 years. I dunno.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      I struggle to see the relevance of this comment. This post is explicitly about the speech itself. If you think not enough attention is being paid to the employment picture, you are free to write your own post, seeing as how you have FP privileges. But don’t get all pissy because a post about meatloaf and a post about a speech didn’t talk about things that weren’t meatloaf or speeches.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

        I struggle not to blow out Tom’s entries on this diary. If it weren’t explicitly against the rules, I would. If he keeps it up, I’ll just shut down commenting entirely.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP says:

          If he wants to criticize Obama’s speech, I’m all for hearing that argument. But if we’re going to engage in, “YOU DIDN’T TALK ABOUT WHAT I WANTED YOU TO TALK ABOUT IN A POST THAT WASN’T WHAT I WANTED YOU TO TALK ABOUT” nonsense… well… the game suddenly stops being fun.Report

        • Freeman in reply to BlaiseP says:

          I often wonder what TVD is doing here. He seems so out of his “league” in this realm, lacking the talent for gentlemanly expression of disagreement as well as the depth of thoughtful consideration necessary to convey his opinion convincingly, commonly expressed by the other bloggers and even the vast majority of commenters here.

          But please don’t lock him out of comments (or worse, everyone) . The thoughtful comments here are icing on the cake (and what’s cake without icing?), but it’s also a treat to see a few mindless platitudes taken down the way you and CK did upthread.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Freeman says:

            It is not my sincere belief that TVD is not out of his league at all here. He is fully capable of all that you stated, but seems to deliberately avoid offering us his best. Which is a damn shame, because I think his best would be some of our best.Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to Freeman says:

            Don’t like ganging up on people or speaking about rather than to them when they’re around and available, but more to the point I think TVD contributes a lot to these discussions, even if I often find him exasperating and generally disagree with him. I have my own past hanging out in a lot of the same political-intellectual places to live down and work through.Report

            • Liberty60 in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              My thoughts as well; I think TVD expresses the conservative viewpoint about as well as anyone can and I come here precisely to engage libertarians and conservatives.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              I tried to critique the Obama DNC speech using my old man’s rules of homiletics. Preaching is an art form and he was a past master. We’d go out to visit churches, just to hear the preaching. We’d both take notes and critique them in his old Plymouth, going home.

              So TVD came over here to crap on this post. He can’t even summon up the HTML skills to make an HREF tag. Better pundits than Yours Truly have covered this speech from a variety of angles but none of them have approached it from homiletics. It’s a defining speech from this president.

              I am the lesser son of a greater sire and this post mattered to me. I’m channelling him, writing this thing. I miss him horribly around this time of year. He wanted me to be a preacher. I’d stand there in the living room and he’d listen to my sermons. He’s present in everything I’ll ever write. He was my hero.

              Have you ever seen me say “I especially liked this bit”, then quoting someone ? That’s my old man, standing at the door of the church after the service, complimenting the pastor.Report

            • Freeman in reply to CK MacLeod says:

              I’ll defer to the consensus as far as substance goes, my observation relates mostly to style. I just don’t see any of the other bloggers here pulling this sort of stunt (comment #43) obviously intended to belittle the subject of this post without making the slightest effort to discuss it’s substance. Yes, probably it was aimed more at Obama’s speech than BlaiseP’s commentary, but it seemed to me a bit immature and unmannerly for a member of such a league of gentlemen as this.Report

              • Cermet in reply to Freeman says:

                Uh, TVD adds insight of what some people do think and he appears to be honest in expressing what he believes – he sure isn’t a troll; also, removing all comments would really make learning about other’s ideas very hard and make the site less interesting.Report

              • Freeman in reply to Cermet says:

                Yeah, well I took y’all’s word for it and wasted a fair amount of time reading more of TVD’s comments and posts, looking for this alleged “insight”. All I found were rote talking points and a bunch of I know you are but what am I.

                I’m going back to skipping over anything next to the picture of the guy with the ridiculous glasses on.Report

        • dexter in reply to BlaiseP says:

          That would be a shame. Just don’t feed the trolls and maybe they will go away.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kazzy says:

        That should be the new blog name. “Meatloaf and Speeches”Report