Odds and Ends (Open Thread)

The Washington Post ran a lengthy story on Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland yesterday. I highly recommend it. The author is Caitlin Gibson, and it’s just a beautiful piece.

As you may recall, Raskin had buried his 25-year-old son the day before the January 6th attack on the Capitol Building. He was in the House chamber when the Trump mob violently broke the police lines.

Raskin’s youngest daughter and his older daughter’s husband had accompanied him to the Capitol, and they holed up in Steny Hoyer’s office during the assault, hiding as the Trump thugs ransacked the building.

It was chaos, but Raskin watched it unfold with a strange sense of remove, a clarity of focus; he did not feel the visceral fear that gripped so many others around him. He would come to make sense of this later: What was there to be afraid of when the worst thing imaginable had already happened to him? …

He is still trying to make sense of the intersection of these disparate tragedies — how, at the end of one awful year and the beginning of another, he suddenly found himself reeling from back-to-back calamities, each the outcome of something long-simmering beneath the surface. “The truth is that I see those two terrible, traumatic events as very intertwined in my life,” Raskin says. “In a cosmic sense, they were logically independent of each other. But in my life, they are inextricably bound.”

Raskin is beloved by his colleagues. One of them, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), also knows what it’s like to lose a child. Her teenage son was murdered by a bigot in a convenience store parking lot:

So when [McBath] realized Raskin had returned to the Hill only a few days after Tommy’s death, “I went immediately to see him, and he just fell into my arms and just started weeping and weeping,” she remembers, speaking by phone from her home in Marietta, Ga. “And I knew exactly what he was feeling. I know it. I know those emotions, I know the pain and the doubt. I just wanted him to know that, you know, ‘I’m not just offering you sympathy, I’m here. I know exactly what you’re going through.’ … I love Jamie. We all do. I think every one of my colleagues just truly admires him. We admire his intellect and his sense of compassion.”

Anyway, read the whole thing if you get a moment. It’s a really great story about a good and decent man. As I commented on Twitter, it’s amazing that a man like Raskin shares a species classification with guttersnipes like Gaetz, Gosar, Greene, Boebert, et al., let alone has the same job. 

In other news, New York AG Letitia James dropped out of the race for NY governor, just a month and change after announcing that she’d pursue the office. NYT:

Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, announced on Thursday that she was ending her campaign for governor and running instead for re-election, a surprising move that upended the high-profile governor’s race and further solidified Gov. Kathy Hochul’s standing.

Huh. I wonder what that’s all about. I can’t help hoping someone turned up a smoking gun in the Trump Org investigation and James wants to be the one who sends Emperor Tang to the Graybar Hotel. (I realize this is highly unlikely.)

In non-political news of the weird, 43 camels were disqualified from a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia due to Botox use. CNN:

The 40-day King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of the capital, Riyadh, launched at the beginning of December. In its sixth year, it sees breeders compete for more than $66 million in prize money, according to Saudi state media outlet Saudi Press Agency (SPA), so the stakes are high.

Unscrupulous breeders have been accused of using a number of methods to make their camels more likely to win, such as injecting silicone and fillers, and inflating body parts using rubber bands to enhance their appearance, reports SPA.

This year, organizers have dealt with 147 cases of tampering — the largest number since the festival began. Forty-three contestants were disqualified.

Alrighty then! Open thread.

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