Boomtown.

I was 16 when I first set foot in the state of Michigan, and bypassed the lower peninsula altogether. We headed across the bridge, to my friends’ cottage in the Les Cheneaux Islands, high up in Lake Huron, off the eastern Upper Peninsula coast. Of course we stopped a few times in the nine hours or so it took to drive from Columbus, and we almost always stopped at Gaylord.

“Last chance for gas before the bridge,” someone would say. It’s about 50 miles south of the Mackinac Straits. Even though we’d been in the pine-trees-and-blue-skies north for at least 100 miles, Gaylord was the final turn before the home stretch.

(That the islands, and the cottage, were 45 minutes beyond the bridge didn’t matter. Once you crossed, you were as good as there.)

Gaylord was also the stop, going home, where you filled up and got junk food for the interminable, party’s-over trip home. My friend Paul, the party king, was famous for driving to Gaylord, getting a shoebox full of fries or bag of donuts at some drive-through, turning the wheel over to someone else and crashing for a carb nap in the back seat.

Anyway, while I don’t know Gaylord, I know its two freeway exits pretty well. After Alan and I got together, we started traveling to Grayling, about 15 miles south, and Gaylord faded into my past.

So on Sunday, I’m starting my trip home, hunger is starting to gnaw, and Covid or no Covid, northern Michigan was packed. Long lines at any sit-down restaurant, drive-ins and patios packed, and even McDonald’s in St. Ignace had a drive-through line backed up onto U.S. 2.

I crossed the bridge and tried Mackinaw City. Same story. So I got back in the car and figured, it’s Spike’s Keg o’ Nails in Grayling, then. As I approached Gaylord, I started seeing signs for lots of places to eat. Lots of them. It was a Five Guys sign that caught my eye; Five Guys aren’t exactly confined to Manhattan, but they’re usually located pretty far from little towns up north in Michigan.

So I took the usual fast-food exit and hooooly shit, this town has grown. There was not only fast food, but craft brewers, outdoors shops and lots of touristy stuff, but not overwhelmingly so. And this was just on one strip.

The answer was? Jobs, of course:

McComb said Gaylord is booming because it positioned itself to be ready after the economic downturn of 2007-08. Gaylord reeled when the Georgia-Pacific plant closed in 2006, eliminating 200 jobs.

McComb said the city has been able to attract employers and development because the city made itself attractive.

“We had a thriving community throughout the downtown and had things in place like an industrial park and another new industrial park, and infrastructure that we invested in in the downturn,” she said. “We really are a community where someone looking to invest can find an existing building or land to do it really quickly.”

I’m reminded of something someone said in an interview I did in northern Michigan once upon a time: “You want to change someone’s life up here? Give them a job.”

Other revelations from the trip: Radio has been entirely taken over by religious entities; I couldn’t find NPR to save my life. I did hear an interview with Salena Zito, the Trump whisperer on Relevant Radio, some Catholic network. She declared that Hollywood, New York and Washington are “all one big zip code” who dictate what the rest of us see and hear and…I turned it off. You had your time to cash in, honey. Once Trump is gone, you’ll just be another very low-rent Peggy Noonan, at one-tenth the salary, if that.

But it was a very pleasant trip, and when I got home? I got laid off. From one of my jobs; I remind you, I have two. They said it was for budgetary reasons, not performance, offered the usual letter of recommendation, all that. I’m…fine with it. Seriously. It was never the best fit, but it was important work. Deadline has more of an element of fun, and that’s the one that remains. I’m close enough to the end of my career that I could probably retire now, although I’d rather not do it abruptly. I’ll look for something else, and we shall see. Serenity now.

Tomorrow: Primary election. The day after that: Training for census work. I may not be back until week’s end. Enjoy yours.

Oh, wait. Before I go, I was calculating driving time to my election assignment tomorrow and found the Google Street View of my house. Alan made an appearance:

He was watering the ferns.

Posted at 8:30 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 48 Comments
 

Moonrise.

“Does it bother you when these threads get to 130-some comments,” J.C. just asked me.

“I guess so,” I said. “Probably time for a photo post.”

So…

This was night before last. I’ll have you know that as I was capturing this lovely Upper Peninsula moonrise, a pontoon was about to glide into the frame, playing “Smoke on the Water” with its occupants drunkenly singing along.

J.C. and Sammy’s cottage is notable for its peace and quiet, and this was the first real evidence of more commonplace U.P. summer pursuits going on around us. Which only goes to show that somewhere in the world, it is always 1973, and Deep Purple is playing.

So! New post! I’m heading home today/tomorrow, and on Tuesday will be working the Michigan primary election as a poll worker. That will be 14-plus hours in a mask, and I expect I will be wiped afterward, so this thread may well get to 130-some comments too, but at some point, lo I shall return.

A couple of sandhill cranes just serenaded us. Such a lovely, unearthly sound. Nothing at all like Deep Purple.

The only thing I have to recommend is the Politico piece about Fort Wayne, which I see you’ve already been discussing. Jesus, what a barking moron Jason Arp is.

OK, the sun is out here and raining downstate, which means, alas, mini-vacation is probably about over.

Posted at 10:59 am in Friends and family, Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments
 

The last words.

Peter Green, a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, died in recent days. If you’re only a casual music fan, and think Fleetwood Mac = “Rumours” + Stevie Nicks + the band where everyone slept with everyone else, I’m not surprised. I used to joke that you were not allowed onto the Ohio University campus unless you could demonstrate, on dorm move-in day, that you owned both “Rumours” and Aerosmith’s “Get Your Wings.” And there were a lot of us.

But before they were that band, they were the sort of band that demonstrates how easily so many English musicians understood American blues guitar, absorbed its lessons and mashed it up with their own influences to make something entirely new. (See also: Led Zeppelin.) Anyway, this is the song I always associate with Fleetwood Mac 1.0; it’s great.

Peter Green left the band when he was felled by mental illness. Schizophrenia, I believe, not helped by the hefty diet of psychedelics he consumed. I think there was also a period with one of the cultier religious cults of the time – the Children of God, I think. And then he disappeared, and recovered a little, and played here and there on this and that, and then he died. He was 73.

But get this:

He outlived the man who wrote his obit. This happens from time to time, because media outlets, newspapers in the main, write obituaries for prominent people before they die. Everyone knows this, or should, although when mistakes happen, when someone presses the Publish button accidentally, a few members of the readership always swoon in horror. How dare you, how morbid, etc. In truth, it’s something of an honor to have your obit written while you’re still walking around, because it means you matter enough that the New York Times, et al wants to do it right.

We had a project like this at the Dispatch; we were all given a few and told to work on them between other things. I can’t even remember who mine were, but I do remember we were told to do new interviews with the people, to not just rely on clips. We were even given a suggested opening gambit: “I’m reporting a comprehensive biographical story about you that you will never read.” Most people got it right away, and most everyone was cool about it. My friend Ted did Gen. Curtis LeMay, a son of Columbus. He was a blood ‘n’ guts general in World War II, Air Force chief of staff during Vietnam and George Wallace’s running mate in 1968. Ted played me the part of the interview where he asked him about one of his most famous statements, that if the enemy in southeast Asia didn’t stand down, we’d “bomb North Vietnam back to the Stone Age.” It was pretty amusing; he said he’d been quoted out of context. But of course.

Anyway, LeMay died in 1990, at 83. I’m sure the paper was able to rustle up a comprehensive, well-written obit p.d.q. Or maybe they relied on wire copy, because all ours were typed on IBM OCR copy paper, and who knows where that stuff ended up.

(I took a tour of the New York Times in the early ’80s, and they showed up the drawers where the prewritten obits were. They were not only written, the pages had been designed and pasted up, so that anyone who died on deadline would get their excellent obit in the paper in mere moments. They didn’t let us linger over them; the content was still considered private. But I saw Jimmy Carter’s on top of the stack. Jimmy Carter just celebrated his 74th wedding anniversary, bless him.)

So, what else? Another beastly hot weekend, or Sunday, at least. Low 90s, and fuck that shit. But on Friday we went swimming in the St. Clair River, and that was great. Now it’s Sunday evening, a short week ahead, and yay that.

Some bloggage:

Cintra Wilson on how the St. Louis McCloskeys besmirched Brooks Brothers in a way bankruptcy couldn’t. Sorry, but I still like their fitted white oxford-cloth shirts. Also, Hawaiian shirts and certain haircuts are ruined, the same way the toothbrush mustache was ruined by Adolf Hitler.

If anyone cares, I found Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ floor speech last week to be outstanding.

Here’s a weird story for you radio people, about a ghost station in Russia:

It is thought to be the headquarters of a radio station, “MDZhB”, that no-one has ever claimed to run. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.

Once or twice a week, a man or woman will read out some words in Russian, such as “dinghy” or “farming specialist”. And that’s it. Anyone, anywhere in the world can listen in, simply by tuning a radio to the frequency 4625 kHz.

It’s so enigmatic, it’s as if it was designed with conspiracy theorists in mind. Today the station has an online following numbering in the tens of thousands, who know it affectionately as “the Buzzer”. It joins two similar mystery stations, “the Pip” and the “Squeaky Wheel”. As their fans readily admit themselves, they have absolutely no idea what they are listening to.

It might be a “dead hand” signal, which means “in the event Russia is hit by a nuclear attack, the drone will stop and automatically trigger a retaliation. No questions asked, just total nuclear obliteration on both sides.”

This is the tone. Alan says it’s begging to be sampled. I agree.

So, then, mini-break is getting close. I’ll try to update before I leave, but if I can’t? Top of the week to all of you.

Posted at 7:44 pm in Current events, Media | 139 Comments
 

Road trip ahead.

Housekeeping note: Posting next week will be light, as I’ll be taking off on Wednesday to visit J.C. and Sammy in the U.P., where the cell coverage — with our carrier, anyway — is very very sketchy. As I recall, if you position your phone just so in a particular corner of the cottage, you can maybe conduct a short chat if you don’t mind getting your call dropped.

But that’s fine. I could use a little break. It’s very hot here.

Before I head out, though, I got a COVID test. Just to be sure. I went to the city of Detroit’s drive-through testing center, and besides the setting — the ruins of the state fairgrounds — it was an entirely pleasant experience. The whole thing ran like a Swiss watch.

It was sad to see the fairgrounds, though. I grew up in a state-fair town, and looked forward to it all summer, even as I knew that the arrival of the state fair meant summer was in its final stretch. But what a stretch — it was like the finale of a fireworks show, full of corn on the cob and Tom Thumb donuts and grandstand shows and barns full of blue-ribbon livestock and…so much more. Admittedly, the Michigan state fair was never a match for Ohio’s, but I was an adult by then. I took Kate a few times, and got to go through the Poultry, Rabbits and Pigeons building, among many others.

But the state subsidy was cut off during the financial crisis, and what remains of the state fair now meets in a horrible exurban convention center, while the O.G. fairgrounds slowly decay.

The test was…pretty much as expected. A swab goes a mile up your nose, and just at the point you’re knocking your shoes together and ready to scream, it comes out and you’re on your way. Hope to get the results before I roll north.

So I wish you a good weekend, and maybe you’ll be ready to read this: An oral-history retelling of the first Gathering of the Juggalos, 20 years ago this month. It was quite something, got the band banned from the Novi convention center, and sparked this recollection, among others:

We arrived that morning of the Gathering, our bus pulled in at like 7 or 8 in the morning. And we got down to the venue and the line was already 3.5 miles long. I thought we were going to get there and there would be 300 people, it was a pleasant surprise to see that I wasn’t the only one, and to see that wow, there’s people all over the world that are just like me. As different as we are, we have that common band, and it felt like a family.

It’s not like a family. It is a family. A dysfunctional one, but still.

Posted at 8:51 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 61 Comments
 

Bottom: Still some distance away.

I was going to mention a story about a staff uprising at the Detroit Institute of Arts, but sorry, this happened:

LONDON — The American ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, told multiple colleagues in February 2018 that President Trump had asked him to see if the British government could help steer the world-famous and lucrative British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland, according to three people with knowledge of the episode.

The ambassador’s deputy, Lewis A. Lukens, advised him not to do it, warning that it would be an unethical use of the presidency for private gain, these people said. But Mr. Johnson apparently felt pressured to try. A few weeks later, he raised the idea of Turnberry playing host to the Open with the secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell.

In a brief interview last week, Mr. Mundell said it was “inappropriate” for him to discuss his dealings with Mr. Johnson and referred to a British government statement that said Mr. Johnson “made no request of Mr. Mundell regarding the British Open or any other sporting event.” The statement did not address whether the ambassador had broached the issue of Turnberry, which Mr. Trump bought in 2014, but none of the next four Opens are scheduled to be played there.

I…I…I…I’m speechless. But of course I’m also not speechless, because this is what we expect, right? This is the world we live in now.

Then there’s this guy:

Ohio’s top state lawmaker conspired to funnel tens of millions of dollars from the state’s electric utility to his political allies in order to consolidate power over the state legislature and shepherd through a $1.5 billion bailout for the utility’s nuclear power plants, federal prosecutors alleged on Tuesday.

The FBI arrested Ohio speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, and four alleged co-conspirators and leveled charges of racketeering and bribery related to the scheme. At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers called it “likely the largest bribery [and] money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”

At the center of the scheme was Householder, who prosecutors say used a nonprofit “dark money” group called Generation Now to funnel money from the utility, First Energy, into state-level political contests. Householder’s goals, DeVillers said, were to pass and preserve a contentious bill to bail out two FirstEnergy nuclear plants, and “to build a power base for Larry Householder.”

Does it ever stop with these guys? I think we all know the answer. Happy hump day. This is the country we live in.

Posted at 8:52 pm in Current events | 65 Comments
 

The omen.

Federal stormtroopers are in Portland rousting protesters. The president has a new pandemic strategy; he’s ignoring it. Not my problem, people! The other day I was riding down a residential street and saw a man outside, taking a smoke break. Above the waist: Oxford-blue shirt and tie. Below the waist: Some sort of shorts so flimsy they may have well been boxers. In one hand, a cigarette, in the other, his phone. His posture said: I am so sick of this shit.

So are we all, my friend. Someone messaged me the other day to tell me her boss had taken a shit during a Zoom call. Carried the laptop into the can with her and took care of business. No one said a word, because: The boss.

“Surely she thought she was on audio only?” I replied. “I mean, otherwise…” What conclusion could you draw from behavior like that? That she has dementia? My correspondent had no explanation. Needless to say, neither do I.

There’s a comet in the sky now, too, which would normally be something to marvel over, and it is, but on top of incompetent governments, played-out American workers and shitting-on-Zoom bosses, it feels like an omen. Like the star of Bethlehem, or the red comet in the Game of Thrones books that announces dragons are in the world again.

Today I spent an inordinate amount of time researching recipes for deep-fried tofu. Kate was coming for dinner, and I wanted to do a fake-chicken sandwich. It turned out OK. Concentrating on one stupid thing like a tofu marinade at least made a certain kind of sense.

So I took a bike ride. I looked at the water:

And I looked at the lighthouse, strictly ornamental:

I imagine there’s some sort of weather-recording equipment up there. All the charming details of seafaring – charts, maps, lighthouses – are now obsolete. GPS changed everything. On the other hand, maybe someday an electromagnetic pulse will take care of GPS, and we’ll be adding bulbs to that thing.

The weekend’s journalism was two versions of the same story, both about how fucked this stupid virus situation is. In the WashPost, and in the NYT. It’s the usual. In the Post:

The fumbling of the virus was not a fluke: The American coronavirus fiasco has exposed the country’s incoherent leadership, self-defeating political polarization, a lack of investment in public health, and persistent socioeconomic and racial inequities that have left millions of people vulnerable to disease and death.

And in the Times:

Over a critical period beginning in mid-April, President Trump and his team convinced themselves that the outbreak was fading, that they had given state governments all the resources they needed to contain its remaining “embers” and that it was time to ease up on the lockdown.

In doing so, he was ignoring warnings that the numbers would continue to drop only if social distancing was kept in place, rushing instead to restart the economy and tend to his battered re-election hopes.

Casting the decision in ideological terms, Mr. Meadows would tell people: “Only in Washington, D.C., do they think that they have the answer for all of America.”

This is the world we live in. Let’s take it on for another week.

Posted at 9:48 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 62 Comments
 

Back off.

I think I’ve mentioned 14,000 or 15,000 times that this historical era has me feeling glum. Also, the insomnia is back — I awake at 4:30 a.m. most mornings now, and that’s not good, but it boils down to 5-6 hours of sleep a night, and that seems to be…adequate. But lack of sleep + pandemic + everything else is not a mood elevator, so this afternoon I figured I’d do a bike ride, see if I couldn’t rinse some random shit out of my head.

I saw this house, which was cheering:

It’s an old firehouse. No. 38, the numbers over the garage doors say. Move a few steps down the street and you can see the tower for hanging and drying the hoses:

I’m 90 percent sure this is a private residence. The best thing about it, which you can better see from the Google Maps satellite view — which I won’t post, because privacy — is that it’s virtually isolated. There are two houses on one side, two across the street, but in the other direction? Maybe a quarter-mile between houses. This is the neighborhood where, according to local legend, the first crack houses in the country sprang up. That was followed by abandonment, blight, “urban renewal” in the form of arson, and then, as Carl Sandburg wrote: “I am the grass. Let me work.”

Honestly, the concessions to reality — that stout fence is there for a reason — could be tolerable for quiet nights punctuated only by predawn pheasant crowing, coyotes yipping and maybe some random gunfire from time to time. Grosse Pointe is only a few blocks away, so you don’t have a hike for groceries and sundries. You find places like this all over town. Which is why the newsletter I produce for Deadline has a standing head: This week in America’s most interesting city.

Then I pedaled home and, as I was putting the bike away, got an alert that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been hospitalized and felt like screaming again.

Today, in greater Lansing, a 77-year-old man confronted a 43-year-old man outside a Quality Dairy — your basic quickie-mart type place. The confrontation was over the latter’s failure to wear a mask; he was ejected from the QD over it, and he must have been testy about it, because he stabbed the old man. Then he fled. The cops caught up with him about 30 minutes later, and he got out of his car armed with a knife and a screwdriver. He advanced on the cop twice; she shot him the second time. He’s dead.

I’d love to see that guy’s internet history. This being the 21st century, there is available video of the stop, the confrontation and the guy going down.

I love summer, but not this one.

Posted at 8:57 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 139 Comments
 

Unchained.

I met some friends for social-distance drinks on a patio Friday night, although “fled the house” might have better described my mood after a rocky week. I needed to go downtown to get my few belongings from our office there, as we’re giving up our lease; after three-plus months of WFH, we see no need to maintain it. I have mixed feelings. Commuting is a pain, but it gets you out of the house and forces you to engage with other human beings. Home is a nest that can easily become a fortress; many times I’ve been grateful for a random encounter on a bus, a sidewalk, a lunch spot that lights a creative spark.

But parking is expensive and it takes time, so.

Anyway, I stuffed my few personal items into a tote — the shawl I brought in case this summer’s a/c is anything like last summer’s, when it rarely rose above icebox level, a book, a water bottle — and we headed off for a patio. The police shot and killed a suspect Friday afternoon, and a demonstration had formed, this one fairly angry. We monitored it via Twitter through two rounds, told some stories, and left. I walked through the door a little after 8, and Alan told me Roger Stone had been granted clemency.

You know how it’s going to go from here on out, right? The corruption will get more and more brazen. If Trump wins, well then, there’s no governor on what can happen, none whatsoever. If he loses, the transition period will be nonstop crimes, the ramming through of pet legislation, all of it. I hope, when he leaves, someone goes through the White House silverware and artwork to make sure he hasn’t stashed any in his luggage.

Because that’s what we’re dealing with here.

Sometimes I feel like I’m on a hair trigger and go to MurderDeathKill twice a day.

I did fill out my absentee ballot for the August primary. It’s a whole lot of nothing — most seats were unopposed — but it felt like something.

Bloggage: In the summer I sometimes go swimming with my friend Bill, in the St. Clair River. He wrote a story about Great Lakes swimming yesterday.

And that’s it, I fear. Let’s see what fresh hell arrives in the next 48 hours.

Posted at 9:14 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 97 Comments
 

Lazy, hazy, crazy.

Well, I guess it’s been a minute, yes? Sorry, but I’m just not in the mood to do much these days beyond what it takes to make a living, stay in shape and put food in my body. The MurderSun of recent days doesn’t help. Our spare bedroom/home office gets morning sun, and the neighborhood lost enough trees over the last few years that I keep the blinds drawn so I don’t poach in my own sweat, even with the a/c on. So I sit in my darkened room, reading the news of the day and stewing, not poaching.

Also, been busy.

Had to take Wendy in to get her teeth cleaned, an appointment overdue by about a year. Mission accomplished:

I’d skip to the bloggage, but honestly I’m a little overwhelmed by it, still. So let’s just call this a thread reboot and wish you all a nice weekend.

And yes, if you’re wondering, the title of this post is to inspire another ear worm in Mary’s head. Mmmm-wah-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Posted at 3:46 pm in Uncategorized | 61 Comments
 

Heat wave.

Some of you have been commiserating with Jeff about the divided nature of his congregation. Getta loada these apples:

Both inside and outside St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church on Sunday, the statement “Black lives matter” was said with conviction and met with opposition.

Outside, it was written on signs and chanted through megaphones by members of the community protesting remarks made late last month by the Rev. Theodore Rothrock calling Black Lives Matter organizers “maggots and parasites.”

Those “Black lives matter!” chants were met with chants of “Go Father Ted!” from counter-protesters who oppose the suspension handed down to Rothrock and argue that he was speaking the truth.

This is in suburban Indianapolis, by the way. And it goes on:

Inside, during 9:30 a.m. Mass, “Black lives matter” was said just once by Bishop Timothy Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana at the end of his opening comments to the more than 150 people attending.

His words prompted one woman to shout “You’re a coward” in the bishop’s direction multiple times before she was escorted out. More than a dozen other people gathered their belongings and walked out of the church along with her.

Breaking my usual three-paragraph rule because man, what a story. My history with the church is checkered but mostly non-existent, but I never heard a priest call an abortion provider a maggot, at least not from the altar. To call a movement working for justice by names like this? Man, no wonder the pews are empty.

But that’s our country these days. Adult babies throwing tantrums over wearing masks. White supremacists on the march. Murder hornets and ranting priests. I will not make a “who had that on their 2020 bingo card” joke here, but it applies.

OK, then. Short shrift today. Apologies. It’s supposed to be 93 today, and just thinking about it makes me want to move to an island in Lake Superior.

I’m grateful for whoever in my network flagged this piece, about the poisonous legacy of Newt Gingrich. You want to know where civility ran off to? Newt was one of the biggest traffic directors sending it over the next hill:

Gingrich was my introduction to Orwellian newspeak. He had this tic of starting every other paragraph with “frankly” and then telling a lie; it was his poker tell. Falsehoods and hyperbole came as naturally to him as smirking. He freely trafficked in conspiracy theories. His PAC circulated a pamphlet for aspiring politicians who wished “to speak like Newt.” It advised them to repeat a long list of words to describe Democrats, including sick, pathetic, corrupt.

Like Trump, Gingrich was a thrice-married womanizer who’d somehow seduced the evangelicals. He too had a skyscraping ego, nursed grudges as if they were newborns, and lacked impulse control. In 1995, Bill Clinton made him sit in the back of Air Force One; he responded with a tantrum and shut down the government, prompting The New York Daily News to run a cartoon cover of him in a diaper under the headline “Cry Baby.”

Gingrich turned the politics of white racial grievance into an art form. They may have started with Nixon’s Southern Strategy, but Gingrich actually came from the South. He intuited the backlash to globalization, to affirmative action; the culture teemed with stories about white men under siege. (Including the Michael Douglas movie “Falling Down,” about a divorced, unemployed defense contractor’s descent into armed madness.) It wasn’t long before 1994 became known as “The Year of the Angry White Male.”

Mark Souder, my former rep-for-life-or-until-he-gets-tired-of-it in Indiana, was elected in the 1994 sweep and looked up to his leader, the Newt. He mainly had an easy time of it at election time, but once in the early 2000s he was challenged by a credible moderate Democrat, and a man without reproach, Dr. Tom Hayhurst. He was the medical partner of a close friend, and I knew him a little bit. He grew up middle class in Fort Wayne, served as a medic in Vietnam, specialized in pulmonology and was liked and respected by all who knew him. And he was handsome, the sort of man who ages like Robert Redford but without the plastic surgery, which is to say: Well. Once I was ending a lunch with my friend, his partner. He was dawdling about going back to the office, and said he had an appointment with a patient who’d asked to see someone else in the practice because she couldn’t get along with Hayhurst.

“She can’t get along with Dimples?” my friend moaned. “What’s she gonna think about me?” (And yes, Hayhurst had dimples.)

Anyway, faced with this paragon, Souder went low, with ads calling the doctor “rich” and out of touch with regular people, even though he had lifelong friends all over town, few of whom were in his income bracket. Souder won, of course, and went on to flame out in the single most embarrassing sex scandal I can recall that didn’t involve an actual crime, or diapers.

You can trace that back to Newt, I guess. What a piece of shit.

And with that, let’s all start Tuesday! The mood seems to be going around.

Posted at 8:54 am in Current events | 131 Comments