The problem with modern life is, we all live in a bubble. Our bubbles float through space, occasionally bumping into other bubbles, but you know how that happens — the two bubbles don’t become one, but just adhere for a while. We can look into the bubble next door, but there’s still the membrane between us.
The better your bubble, the more secure you are. On the other hand, the better your bubble, the harder it is to hear what’s going on outside it. Bubbles can be called by other names — I prefer “Graceland” — but it’s still a bubble. My membrane is thin at the moment; I am not secure. On the other hand, I am not Peggy Noonan, either:
On Wednesday, in an interview with Politico, Dick Cheney warned of the possible deaths of “perhaps hundreds of thousands” of Americans in a terror attack using nuclear or biological weapons. “I think there is a high probability of such an attempt,” he said.
When the interview broke and was read on the air, I was in a room off a television studio. For a moment everything went silent, and then a makeup woman said to a guest, “I don’t see how anyone can think that’s not true.”
A makeup woman. Peggy’s bubble has adhered to another’s. She peers inside at the strange life there, and is pleased to see the makeup woman shares her anxieties. Makeup people, taxi drivers, “an e-mail from a reader” — these are how the pundit class takes the pulse of the mob. It doesn’t matter; it’s still a bubble.
Actually, the whole column is just classic Noonan, and I know I’ve said this a million times, but every time I picture her at her laptop, working, I see her stirring a highball with her index finger, sucking the bourbon off, tapping out a few lines, back to the highball. I can think of no other explanation for an opening line like this: All week the word I kept thinking of was “braced.” Peggy doesn’t write so much as she streams her consciousness, whatever shape it’s in at any given moment. Who knew that Hunter Thompson’s legacy would carry so far from the pages of college newspapers? It is to marvel.
Eh. I can’t get excited about picking on the holders of wingnut sinecures this morning. It’s Thursday, almost the end of my week, but not this week. I’ll be working every day, on one job or another, for the foreseeable future, which makes me a little glum and, like Peggy, very thirsty. So let’s turn to the one place that never fails to cheer me up: The big world outside the bubble.
Here in Detroit, the city council president is… well, what is the word I’m looking for? Insane? Maybe. You tell me how to describe a woman who cannot check into a hotel without police being called, who reduces a public meeting to chaos by flinging insults at a colleague? Insane implies she’s irrational, when she’s clearly not. Bloggers and commenters not affiliated with mainstream media reach for more racially tinged descriptions; “ghetto trash” seems to be the term of the moment. She’s always wagging her finger, metaphorically or not, in someone’s face. There was another incident last week:
Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers had to be restrained during a confrontation last week with Councilman Kwame Kenyatta in which she hurled insults at Kenyatta about his hearing aid, health and education.
…When Kenyatta asked her what she said, Conyers responded he needed to learn how to talk to a woman.
Kenyatta shot back that when he was with a woman, he would do so. That prompted Conyers to yell at Kenyatta that he was stupid, citing his lack of a college degree, to tell him he “can’t hear” — a dig at his hearing aid — and to try to rub in his face rumors that Kenyatta has cancer.
It sounds like an episode of “Rock of Love Charm School,” only without the hope of elimination at the end of the episode. Oh, wait. Monica may take care of that herself:
“Sometimes, I think of this job, it’s like, Is it all worth it?” she said in a half-hour interview. “It’s just so much scrutiny for nothing that I didn’t even see none of this when I wanted to run for this office. But now here I am in this office, and it’s just like, beat up on Monica.”
Narcissists are such interesting people, aren’t they? Poor them.
Meanwhile, in totally unrelated musings, Supergay Detroit has some thoughts.
But that wasn’t the only outrage coming out of Detroit this week. (Is there ever only one? No.) The same day one of the city’s few successful and legal businesses lays off 250, it also hires one: Kwame Kilpatrick. And while you can read the legitimate stories about this in the usual places, for pure summing-up pungency, you really can’t beat Detroitist:
Kleptocracy uber alles.
Oh, hell yes.
Dana Milbank can be a bit full of himself, but for a certain sort of Washington reporting, no one does it better:
In another time, Stew Parnell, the man whose peanut butter killed eight people and sickened 550 more, would have been put in the stocks or the pillory. Congress didn’t have such tools at its disposal yesterday, so lawmakers did the modern equivalent: They put him through the walk of shame.
The House commerce committee hauled Parnell up to testify under subpoena, even though lawmakers knew the Peanut Corporation of America boss would take the Fifth. Before calling him to the witness table, they heard from the grieving relatives of Parnell’s victims. They made him take the oath, then invited him to sample some of product he shipped even though he knew it had tested positive for salmonella. Finally, they forced him and his lawyers to take a quarter-mile perp walk on Capitol Hill, chased by television cameras and reporters jamming microphones in his face and shouting questions:
“Mr. Parnell, did you put profits ahead of the public’s health?”
“People died, sir. Do you have anything to say to their families?”
More constrained reporters had to settle for wussy adjectives like “theatrical,” but I thought Milbank’s “sketch,” as these pieces are called, captured the absurdity of the situation — posturing on one side, weaseling on the other — rather neatly. He should cover Detroit.
And with that, I think I should drag my stinky ass through some hot water and try to make some sense of the day. Some days, you think Joaquin Phoenix is the only one who really has it figured out. Hilarious clip behind the link.