From the Department of Whaddaya Mean We, White Man?, Detroit’s very own Mitch Albom has found a new vein of cheap sentiment to mine, and it is rich indeed, i.e., the so-called “open letter” trope:
Do you want to watch us drown? Is that it? Do want to see the last gurgle of economic air spit from our lips? If so, senators, know this: We’re taking a piece of you with us. America isn’t America without an auto industry. You can argue whether $14 billion would have saved it, but your actions surely could have killed it.
We have grease on our hands.
You have blood.
Huh? You do? Grease? Where did that come from, passing a tip to the masseuse? This piece is headlined, Hey, you senators: Thanks for nothing. I suppose we should be grateful the editor didn’t try to channel the driving spirit behind the piece, and call it “t’anks for nuttin’!” But it’s bad enough as it is, a millionaire claiming solidarity with The People — worse, claiming to be a voice of the people. (One would hope that The People, if allowed to speak for themselves, could come up with a better turn of phrase than “the last gurgle of economic air,” etc. I do, anyway.)
The prose gets worse, too. You all know Mitch’s favorite rhetorical device: The single-sentence paragraph set off by lots of dramatic white space. Note the next passage; this may be a record:
And now you want those foreign companies, which you lured, and which get help from their governments, to dictate to American workers how much they should be paid? Tell you what. You’re so fond of the foreign model, why don’t you do what Japanese ministers do when they screw up the country’s finances?
They cut their salaries.
Or they resign in shame.
When was the last time a U.S. senator resigned over a failed policy?
Yet you want to fire Rick Wagoner?
Who are you people?
I like that last one — Who are you people? It’s the latest way to say How dare you?, a phrase that always packs a punch. Why I never is another goodie, the verbal equivalent of a clutched strand of pearls. Albom is a short little guy, a fact that doesn’t come across on ESPN, which perhaps explain his effortless belligerence in print. If he actually walked onto a shop floor, they’d pull the old no-really-we-need-you-to-be-the-crash-test-dummy joke. And he’d believe it.
Last check: The story had been recommended 825 times by readers. Probably a record. Most popular? Yup. Most e-mailed? Yup. I smell…book contract!
Well, he’s going to need one. I assume you all heard the news that leaked over the weekend, which hasn’t been formally announced yet. As it stands, you all know as much as I do, including how it might affect our household. I’m hoping for the best and expecting the worst, and if I can get something in between, I’ll be happy.
Of course, there are other ways to make money in this crazy world.
I’m posting this Sunday and spending Monday a) waiting for Sears to deliver our new washing machine, because of course no economic crisis can be complete without a major appliance throwing in the towel; b) studying Russian sentence structure; and c) writing and writing and writing and writing, in the hopes that someone might throw me a few coins for it, someday. I suppose Dwight has a lecture he’s about to deliver in 5,4,3…
You all have a good week.
UPDATE: For a lesson in how to say all the same things Mitch Albom said, only in less eye-rolling fashion, see the great Gretchen Morgenson in the NYT.
Crabby said on December 14, 2008 at 7:57 pm
At least she used zipcar to get to her appointments.
whitebeard said on December 14, 2008 at 8:26 pm
Wait a minute, regarding “”He denies any wrongdoing but pled no contest to quickly resolve this private matter,” Mulkoff said,” in the university paid strange-sex scandal.
Isn’t that what Senator Craig did after he got caught in the airport men’s room and then spent thousands of dollars and hours of court time trying to undo his quick resolution?
brian stouder said on December 14, 2008 at 8:44 pm
Crabby, the ‘zipcar’ she used made me laugh out loud, too!
The Detroit newspaper situation looks especially distressing, just now. We’ve been doing the karma-thing, having the girls tuck dollars into Salvation Army kettles, as we trudge into various stores. Today, we went downtown to the Habitat for Humanity display of Christmas villages and so on, at the Grand Wayne Center. Very pretty stuff (lots of picture opportunities), and free…with donation boxes for HFH here and there – which we heeded with a few more bucks.
And then – we get home again….and we learned that Pam’s holiday lighting efforts on the house won Third Place in the neighborhood, and she got $20! (a humorous picture or two will surely appear on her blog, at some point. They put a Third Place yard sign up and everything!)
But – I fear this burned the good karma we were busy amassing….so now we have to offload another $20 ASAP!!
Anyway – here’s hoping for the best for our washer-awaiting friends in Motown
Joni Hubred-Golden said on December 14, 2008 at 9:20 pm
I’ve stopped reading Mitch, for the most part. He’s just not that good. I cannot understand how he still has a job and so many more talented news writers do not. Worse yet, he makes us all look like a bunch of whiners. Which we are not.
Mark Phelan wrote an excellent piece today about how the auto industry’s government liaisons let them down. Much better prose, far more interesting point.
Linda said on December 14, 2008 at 10:14 pm
In a way, I cannot stop reading Mitch, because my sister and mother just love him. What’s worse is that my mom (naturally) thinks I’m a terribly talented writer, and when he writes something she really likes, she’ll call me long distance to say, “This sounds like something you would write.”
moe99 said on December 14, 2008 at 11:16 pm
Well, I went and sang the Christmas parts of the Messiah at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Qute a few members of the Seattle Symphony Chorale showed up so it felt really professional and quite moving to be singing the Hallelujah chorus and watch the audience stand up. (I know that’s not part of the Chritmas part, but everyone expects it) I’d like to do that again.
Carolyn said on December 14, 2008 at 11:22 pm
Dexter said on December 15, 2008 at 1:12 am
good for you, moe99…what’s Christmas without Handel?
I bought both The News & Freep every day for many years before they pulled the vend-boxes and closed the newsstand here. That was six years ago, just a couple years after I got a home pc, so of course I started reading online. No, it’s not the same but it’s better than the 1968 strike-news-blackout…that was bad. This news , reported over the weekend on national news, is sad.
Here’s a little history lesson on post-war American compact cars, one-page article from The Times:
I couldn’t stay with the Saddam Hussein 4-part series on HBO, but I did see the end, in the “spider hole”. They didn’t film a hanging scene. I was relieved.
ROgirl said on December 15, 2008 at 6:35 am
Ah, Mitch. So lame, trite and shallow.
beb said on December 15, 2008 at 8:01 am
Since I never read Mitch Albom alll that much I find nancy’s sharp anger at him strange. But the nice thing about a free country is that I’m free not to read Albom, and I don’t.
$300 to be spanked? That Ann Arbor girl will never get anywhere selling herself that short.
I was floored Sunday when I saw the video of the man at the Iraqi news conferance throwing his shoes at Pres. Bush. I’m told that throwing shoes at someone is a great insult. So my feeling is — nominate that man for a Noble Peace Prize!
coozledad said on December 15, 2008 at 8:26 am
Beb: I had the same thought. Do you think they’ll make an exception and award two this year?
moe99 said on December 15, 2008 at 10:08 am
Guess they’re going to have to make journalists remove their footwear to attend presidential press conferences in the future.
Inaugural parade preparations. I hope this one makes the television:
coozledad said on December 15, 2008 at 10:34 am
Good lord. Where did Obama get that sweater?
brian stouder said on December 15, 2008 at 10:40 am
Hey – President-elect Obama has Joe the Plummer’s plunger!
Aside from that, I am quite taken with his rail-trip into DC for the inauguration; hopefully his passage through Baltimore will be more friendly than the last time a lanky fellow from Illinois headed through there, on his way to the White House
MaryRC said on December 15, 2008 at 10:42 am
I’m told that throwing shoes at someone is a great insult.
I have to laugh every time some talking head solemnly informs us that throwing shoes is such a grave insult in the Arab World. Like it’s such a warm, friendly gesture of fellowship everywhere else.
nancy said on December 15, 2008 at 10:59 am
And MaryRC, of course they get it wrong. Sure, throwing shoes is an insult, but they miss the subtlety. Apparently even showing the sole of your shoe is an affront, so don’t ever sit with your foot on your knee, American-style, in an Arab home.
I love when these show ponies do their I’m-a-citizen-of-the-world act.
Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2008 at 11:24 am
Could we not send a message to the bastard soon to vacate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and do a good deed at the same time?
Could we not start a movement to mail a pair of shoes to the White House, to demonstrate the level of contempt we feel for this vicious little Constitution-shredding tyrant?
Presumably, being such a “compassionate conservative” and all, the Decider in Chief would donate said shoes to the many homeless shelters, community stores, etc. for distribution to the many Americans whose lives have been turned upside down by his eight years in office.
While I would prefer this arrogant s.o.b. be indicted for his crimes, seeing piles of shoes stretching to the sky outside the White House would be a lovely reminder to him of how deeply and viscerally he is hated by most Americans.
Jenflex said on December 15, 2008 at 11:32 am
Hey, JeffB: Just the soles, ‘kay?
coozledad said on December 15, 2008 at 12:03 pm
I see George has made certain the bailout money is just a tip for his clique.
Danny said on December 15, 2008 at 12:12 pm
Maybe I’m alone here, but when I saw the shoe-throwing incident, it pissed me off. Regardless of what one thinks of the president, to have some foreign yay-hoo, who would probably cheer the beheading of innocents, throwing shoes at the occupant of the highest office in our country is totally unacceptable.
brian stouder said on December 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm
Yes, Cooz; and for those of you keeping score at home –
take the $18 billion (plus or minus) bridge loan that the automobile industry of the United States is urgently requesting, and which the Republican party and its blowhard barons of the airwaves are using as club to crush the skulls of the UAW –
MULTIPLY that dollar amount by 300% – and you get the amount of money flat-out stolen by ONE con-man on Wall Street!!
“The Senate last week rejected a $14 billion bailout for the auto industry — raising the possibility of a major bankruptcy, which some analysts say would result in as many as 3 million U.S. job losses next year. But as that fear eased, at least for the time being, another one cropped up and stocks pulled back by late morning. More and more individuals and companies have been revealing exposure to Madoff’s fund, which prosecutors say was a $50 billion Ponzi scheme to defraud investors. Those firms include HSBC Holdings PLC, Banco Santander, BNP Paribas, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and hedge fund Man Group PLC.
You know, really; wow.
Just as Blago’s antics are so totally absurd that they would change a serious novel into a farce, this financial wreck and the national GOP’s attempt to leverage it (sarcasm intended) into an ideological weapon against the UAW (et al) while at the same time keeping the money river flowing for the glass tower guys in the big banks – just beats everything.
PS – Danny – I agree with you on that one; and I was impressed that the president adroitly ducked, but kept his gaze fixed on the attacker as he stood up to the second throw. Presumeably no one could get in there with a gun or a bomb, but still – the spectacle struck me as troubling, before it struck me as funny
Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2008 at 12:32 pm
Danny and Brian,
I am not advocating throwing anything at W., despite the depths of my loathing for the man. The Iraqi who tossed his brogans should be charged with assault or whatever crime is appropriate.
That’s not my point.
Bush, who presided over the most destructive administration in modern history, will never answer for the many crimes he and his administration perpetrated. He’ll undoubtedly issue blanket pardons to assure that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Hadley, Gonzales, Addington, Libby, et.al. never face any criminal or civil proceedings, much less spend a minute behind bars.
I guess it’s the mounting level of frustration I feel that these cockroaches will soon be scuttling away, leaving nothing but chaos in their wake. Many will be penning books for seven figure advances. Others will retire to wingnut sinecures like the American Enterprise Institute or the Federalist Society, where they will draw large salaries thanks to benefactors like Olin, Scaife and Murdoch.
The mountain of shoes would simply be a way to metaphorically remind W. and his cabal of chickenhawk warriors of the level of disrespect and disgust many of us feel toward them.
LA Mary said on December 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm
Why do you think a reporter in Iraq would cheer at a beheading? Because he’s Iraqi? Do you think he has a right to be pissed off over civilian casualties?
coozledad said on December 15, 2008 at 12:43 pm
That reporter was captured by Shiite militiamen. He has a genuine grievance against that educationally retarded thief/ murderer, as we all do.
Danny said on December 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm
Mary, I think there is a lot of irrational, unacceptable behavior in the Middle-east. It is not a stretch to imagine this guy cheering at awful stuff the way that the millions of other assholes over there do when anything tragic happens in the US. They’d be ecstatic if Los Angeles were nuked.
And as far as Iraqi civilian casualities are concerned, are we going to start counting from before Saddam “left office” or after because I’m sure he killed a shitload more Iraqi’s than we did. The US military has shown remarkable restriant in the face of a faceless enemy that hides within the civilian population.
Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm
LAMary and Cooz,
Exactly my point!
And yet, there will be no judgment of the wee man from Crawford or any of the incompetent cronies who made up his administration, at least not in this life. I will be very happy to watch Rod Blagojevich walk into federal prison for many years. He richly deserves whatever is coming to him. Yet the scale of his political perversity here in Illinois barely registers when compared to the massive outrages of the Bush administration.
I mean, Blago didn’t authorize the use of torture, trash the Constitution, ignore the Geneva Conventions, suspend habeas corpus, break the military, empty the treasury, put us deeply in debt with strategic, economic and military rivals, create one of the largest refugee problems in the world (more than 2 million Iraqis living elsewhere) and sully the good name of an entire nation. But Blago’s the one who’ll do jail time. Bush will do fundraisers.
LA Mary said on December 15, 2008 at 1:10 pm
I don’t think that just being a resident of the middle east makes one a vicious killer or a supporter of such acts. I hope that the people of Iraq don’t think that I support the way we have treated their country because I live in the US. I don’t think we should compare how many we have killed to how many Saddam Hussein killed. We may be ahead of him, but even if we aren’t, it’s still wrong.
mark said on December 15, 2008 at 1:22 pm
I’m sure there are some racists in this country who will want to pass out awards if some like-minded idiot is able to get close enough to spit in the face of Obama. That would be a rough western equivalent to what was done to Bush.
How do you reach the point where you can’t condemn an act of vulgarity for what it is, but actually applaud it depending upon the person against whom it is directed? Are you withholding your applause for the torching of Palin’s church for confirmation that the act was directed at Palin (making it Nobel-worthy), rather than only at a fundamentalist church (making it merely laudable?). Of course if it was a “right winger” who got bad directions to the local ACORN office or abortion clinic, then the arson would be an outrage, right?
And Jeff B.- speak for yourself. I’m quite certain that “most Americans” don’t share your your view simply because most Americans don’t “deeply and viscerally” hate anyone. What a sad way to live your life.
As an aside, the shoe thing isn’t limited to the middle-east. It’s pretty common in most poor countries. Our streets and sidewalks are hardly clean, but in Thailand and Vietnam, for example, it is quite common to encouter urine and feces, human and other, on the streets. They are very careful with the feet and shoe issues out of respect for each other. In my experience, it is not common in those societies to violate this taboo simply to say “F you” to somebody you disagree with.
Perhaps it’s a Buddhist thing. The avoiding vulgar acts part, I mean.
coozledad said on December 15, 2008 at 1:27 pm
Jeff: If that smirking turd had a shred of conscience he’d be a dead man already. Truly the emblem of his huckster-ass party, he is. Emotionally, morally and intellectually purblind. They’ll be whistling up his ass till he’s lying in state, and then the beatification will begin. The handwringing over the passing of St. Ronnie will be a whimper by comparison, because Bush wasn’t afraid to piss off liberals by killing hundreds of thousands of people. They’ll probably get him up some sarcophagus like Napoleon, to profane one of the government buildings, or stuff him and display him like Lenin. These people have a boundless appetite for shit.
brian stouder said on December 15, 2008 at 1:31 pm
Bush, who presided over the most destructive administration in modern history, will never answer for the many crimes he and his administration perpetrated.
While I agree that W’s administration has been an absolute train wreck – before we declare him the “worst” of the modern era, it is worth noting that Harry Truman made a pretty huge mess for this country himsef, in much the same way Bush has.
Just as Bush squandered a historic moment of worldwide agreement (and shared grief) at the beginning of his presidency, and landed us in his half-baked, mismanaged war in Iraq, so too did HST throw away a unique historical opportunity in the wake of the Second World War, and land us in Korea, and a MUCH, MUCH more destructive and bloody snafu versus the Red Chinese Army, in China’s backyard!!
And on “Constitution shredding”, who was president when McCarthy and MacCarthyism was in the ascendant? Who was president when the government moved against the railway workers and steel workers unions? Who presided over the beginning of the end of the American labor movement?
Bush-43 is a blot on US history, but there is at one other biggie, in the not-so-distant past, which exceeds him
Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2008 at 2:18 pm
So, you’re equating Harry S Truman with George W. Bush?
You must be kidding.
Who made sure the Marshall Plan was enacted, Brian? Who desegregated the armed forces? Who ensured the creation of NATO? Those three acts alone dwarf anything this mumble-mouthed lout has ever done.
Was Korea a mistake? Yessir. But who canned the general who wanted to start World War III with China? Were his actions regarding steel and auto industries awful? Yessir. No question. But I would point out that HST took responsibility for each and every action he undertook from the atomic bombing of Japan to his union-busting.
BTW, how did HST first rise to political prominence, Brian? He pursued war profiteers during WWII with a vengeance. Can you cite a single example of oversight in Iraq or Afghanistan that has resulted in jail time or fines under this pathetic shell of a man? You won’t because there’s been none. Nada. Zilch.
Regardless of how Americans felt about Truman, he did not leave office with the entire world -absent a few Eastern European nations- loathing our country and distrusting the promise of democracy.
If James Buchanan did not exist, I would argue Bush was the worst president in our nation’s history and have a helluva compelling argument to support my contention. Bush is no blot on America, man. He’s a cancer, a virus, the bubonic plague. We will be at least a generation recovering from Bush and all the damage he has done.
jcburns said on December 15, 2008 at 3:08 pm
Bush is in a league of his own, train-wreck-wise.
brian stouder said on December 15, 2008 at 3:13 pm
Well, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, regarding historical comparisons.
But, to be clear, I do think President Bush-43 is the worst president of my lifetime; and I have no intention to try and defend his presidency at the expense of any other
Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm
I think we will gradually come to an understanding of just how widespread and pernicious the abuses of this administration were over the next several years. W. likes to say he’ll be dead and gone before history renders a verdict on his administration, but I don’t think we’ll have to wait that long. Even after the extraordinary steps this administration has taken to blot out their crimes –ie., the missing White House e-mails– there’ll be plenty of evidence to sift.
I’ve lived through some very bad presidencies –Nixon and Carter come immediately to mind– and to quote John Cole of Balloon-Juice arrive “pre-disillusioned” to most candidates. I fully expect Barack Obama will disappoint, too.
It’s just the overall lack of accountability for Bush and his crew and the obvious fact that no one will ever pay in any measure for the pain and damage they have inflicted on so many.
But, of course, no one said life was fair. And we have reached consensus of sorts that 43 is the worst in our lifetime.
joodyb said on December 15, 2008 at 4:05 pm
yanking the thread for a moment:
i’d wager any remaining newsroom of a certain girth has a mitch or 2 – at least one who possesses a demonic ability to snow poultry-minded bosses (sorry, chickens) and get away with professional murder to the indigestion/insanity of co-workers. i hear tell of one who doesn’t have to work weekends because s/he’s “too tired.” swear to god.
to push the pendulum the other way on this bittercold and depressing Monday, Gretchen Morgenson is easily THE BEST BUSINESS WRITER WRITING. -30-
Jeff Borden said on December 15, 2008 at 4:39 pm
No argument about Gretchen Morgenson. Her piece comparing and contrasting the Congressional responses to the banks vs. carmakers was outstanding. It laid bare the hypocrisy without resorting to any kind of sensational language.
David Greising of the Chicago Tribune has always been one of my favorite business writers. He was hired to write a column, which he did with the kind of style and elan often limited to the sports pages. Even in the pre-Zell days at the Tribune, his brand of truthfulness found few patrons in the managment ranks and he lost his column spot to become kind of a roving reporter. His work is always worth seeking out.
Dexter said on December 15, 2008 at 5:30 pm
Check the puppy cam! The remaining three pups are VERY animated right now…last days for the pups…they are old enough to be sold away from their siblings…that’s the way it’s done…but it makes me sad, too…..
Gasman said on December 15, 2008 at 9:12 pm
The Iraqi reporter that threw the shoes at Bush is not being charged with assault – he didn’t hit him – or even attempted assault, he is being charged with “committing an act of aggression against a foreign leader.” Muntadhar al-Zaidi is the shoe throwing reporter. He was mistakenly detained by the U.S. military earlier this year and had been kidnapped for ransom prior to that. It sounds as if Mr. al-Zaidi is a proud Iraqi that is sick and tired of having his country treated as everyone else’s doormat. Here is what his brother and sometime cameraman said (from CNN.com):
Sounds to me like he’s got some legitimate beefs with us. Note that he is not just mad at us, he is also sick of Iran meddling in his country’s affairs. I find it interesting that you are pissed off because someone showed contempt for our contemptible excuse for a president. Where is your outrage over the tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqi war dead? We did not seek the approval of the Iraqi people when we plunged them into war. Bush didn’t give a fat rat’s ass about the Iraqis and still doesn’t. Nobody on this site has praised Hussein, but since when do we decide when other countries begin their civil wars? That was for the Iraqi people themselves to choose, not us.
When referring to al-Zaidi, you state that it “is not a stretch to imagine this guy cheering at awful stuff….” So now you are castigating him for what you imagine he might do? I guess that’s just because he had the audacity to be born a “foreign yay-hoo, who would probably cheer the beheading of innocents…” Of all the nerve!
Ironically, Hussein was so weak and impotent at the time of the invasion that had Bush merely fostered dissent from within Iraq, he might have been able to oust Hussein without a single U.S. soldier. This was a bunch of chicken-shit Vietnam era cowards waging vicarious warfare with real flesh and blood American men and women. He and those in his administration have done more harm to the Constitution than Hitler, Hirohito, Stalin, Jeff Davis, et al., combined. He deserves to face trial for treason and then to dangle at the end of an American noose. God damn George Bush and go to hell.
Give Muntadhar al-Zaidi a medal for expressing the outrage of many Iraqis who are sick and tired of our arrogance. Spare us your outrage on Bush’s behalf.
Danny said on December 16, 2008 at 10:12 am
Gasman, nope, your wrong (again). It is unacceptable for any nation’s leader to be assaulted on foreign soil. So you spare us the ridiculous polemic. If the guy had done that to the “ironically impotent” Hussien he would no longer have a head.
Gasman said on December 16, 2008 at 1:25 pm
At the risk of prolonging your time on the soapbox while you espouse your tendentious view of recent history, Bush was in fact not assaulted. If you take a swing at someone and don’t land a punch, it is not assault, it is attempted assault. Since neither shoe actually struck Bush, the most that al-Zaidi could be charged with (at least by our standards) would be attempted assault.
I find it ironic that al-Zaidi could face seven years in prison essentially for nothing more than humiliating Bush. We’ve squandered our reputation and standing in the world, wasted billions and wrecked our economy, made a mockery of international treaties and our own Constitution, violated international law, not to mention treating our soldiers as cannon fodder, ostensibly to establish a democracy in Iraq. Their brand of “democracy” allows for seven years in prison for something as petty as this? So much for democracy and justice.
Bush appears to have laughed the incident off. Why do you find it so off-pissing?
Danny said on December 16, 2008 at 1:51 pm
Gasman, although it’s comical, you should give it a rest. You’re wrong. But by all means, feel free to continue…
mark said on December 16, 2008 at 5:41 pm
you can go to law school or just use google, but you are a little off on your concept of assault. A thrown punch (or shoe) that misses is an assault. The one that hits the target is called a battery.
Gasman said on December 16, 2008 at 11:06 pm
As you are a lawyer, I defer to you as the expert on that subject. I’ll make sure I don’t throw any punches, or shoes, for that matter. I’m glad the subject hasn’t come up for me until now. I hope that your advice was pro bono.