We can all get along.

Look, it’s like a United Nations of hockey:

Hockey fans

Saturday night in Detroit, before the game. (The Wings won. You knew that.) Walking around this particular neighborhood with friends — our zombie flick was part of a short-films festival in the same block — I marveled at how often you still hear the ghost-town claim about downtown, always from people who don’t live anywhere nearby and haven’t visited since 1974. You should have been there. It’s not Chicago, but it’s a hell of a lot more than you might think.

I cannot deny it: I look forward to P.J. O’Rourke’s byline. Mostly I am disappointed by what I find under it these days, but he still can find the mark once in a while, and he’s always good for a guffaw here and there. But I smelled something when I read his Saturday essay in the Wall Street Journal pegged to the GM bankruptcy, The End of the Affair: Old-man smell. And it started so promisingly:

Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn’t a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It’s a tragic romance—unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses.

Foremost are the horses. Cars can’t be comprehended without them. A hundred and some years ago Rudyard Kipling wrote “The Ballad of the King’s Jest,” in which an Afghan tribesman avers: Four things greater than all things are,—Women and Horses and Power and War.

Insert another “power” after the horse and the verse was as true in the suburbs of my 1950s boyhood as it was in the Khyber Pass.

This touches on something I’ve been thinking for a while: I’m worried about a government-imposed plan for the domestic auto industry, because I think cars are one of those things like newspapers, magazines and anything else with even a soupçon of creativity at its heart — they just can’t be made by a focus group. And the public is fickle. They wanted fuel economy last summer, when gas was $4 a gallon, but a few months later it was down to $1.50 and Priuses were sitting unsold in California lots near where they’d been unloaded from the freighters. The Obama administration is absolutely justified in imposing some harsh restrictions on a company so badly managed it’s taking on staggering cash infusions and bleeding them out nearly as fast, but…still. O’Rourke is right. The automobile is a powerful tool of personal freedom, and all the bike trails in the world won’t change that.

He loses me, however, when he lapses into his you-kids-get-off-my-lawn act. “In the name of safety, emissions control and fuel economy, the simple mechanical elegance of the automobile has been rendered ponderous, cumbersome and incomprehensible,” he writes, and in an underhanded way “to make me hate my car.” He adds:

How proud and handsome would Bucephalas look, or Traveler or Rachel Alexandra, with seat and shoulder belts, air bags, 5-mph bumpers and a maze of pollution-control equipment under the tail?

Oh, for God’s sake. Let me see the hands of all those who want to return to the golden era of bare-metal dashboards, leaded gasoline and seats free of safety belts. Thought so. There’s a great deal to be said for automotive design of a bygone era, but complaining that cars pollute less seems like a spectacular case of missing the point. To me, what makes cars dull and boring today is their slow transition from conveyance to living room, a sea change driven entirely by what a good libertarian like O’Rourke would recognize as the holy of holys, the Market. At least once a week, I pull up in the carpool lane at Kate’s school behind an SUV or minivan with a backseat entertainment system, and even though the kids are just going to school, it’s on and playing Sponge Bob for the backseat occupants. Modern cars are big and comfortable and climate-controlled and some of them make me yearn to stretch out on the third seat and take a little nap. That’s sort of the opposite of sex appeal.

My six-year-old VW has pollution control and 5 mph bumpers and cupholders and air bags, and it’s a blast to drive, a little Audi wearing dress-down clothes. It’s even a station wagon. The modern driver appreciates tight handling in the corners as much as an early XY-chromosome boomer like O’Rourke appreciates speed off the line. I’ve driven John and Sam’s Prius, and it’s a blast, too. Al Gore’s kid was clocked doing 100 in his. So the modern “shade-tree mechanic” can’t work on them anymore — so what? The best mechanic I knew in Fort Wayne, a guy whose customer base was so devoted they followed him from a Mercedes dealership to his own driveway after he got forced out, told me once he couldn’t work on modern cars anymore, they were so technically advanced beyond his tool chest, but he didn’t care. They’re better now, foreign and domestic. Keep the oil changed and even a cheap one should last 100,000 miles at the very least, a milestone that used to be remarkable. One of Alan’s colleagues drove an Acura with 260,000 miles on it, until it got stolen. (In Detroit. Only in Detroit.)

My proudest moment with a car came on M-129, a road as straight as a plumb line, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Four of us had borrowed my friend’s bad-ass ’69 Camaro, and decided to see how bad-ass it could be off the line. I forget who was driving. He dumped the clutch, laid rubber in first gear, chirped the tires again going into second, and then, blurp — it wouldn’t go into third gear. We pulled over and for the first and maybe only time in my life I said, “I can fix it. Got a wrench?”

This had happened before, the first week Mark had the car, and I was riding with him. It had happened in Columbus, back when every gas station was a service station, and Mark had limped it into one, where they put it on the lift. I watched the mechanic find the problem — jammed transmission linkage — and fix it with a smart whack of a rubber mallet. So I took a hefty wrench, wiggled under, found the linkage, gave it a similar whack and lo, it was healed.

While I think it’s fine that the problem could be so simple that a dumb ol’ girl could fix it with a blunt object, honestly, can you imagine that happening to a modern car today? I’ve had my transmission problems, but you could speed-shift my Passat every day of its life and not have the linkage jam. And my car is about as old now as the Camaro was then.

(On the other hand, that Camaro was promptly christened the Coolmobile. I can’t imagine anyone bestowing such a name on my car.)

It’s sad to grow old and have more of your life behind you than ahead. But yearning for your lost virility shouldn’t get you the cover of the Weekend Journal. Just sayin’.

OK, then. I suppose everyone will want to talk today about Dr. Tiller. I don’t have much fresh to add except to note that I’ve only known one woman who had a second-trimester abortion, and I don’t know where she got it, but she had her reasons: She needed chemotherapy for a devastating cancer diagnosis that came at the worst possible time. I don’t judge people who sometimes need an unpleasant and unpopular medical procedure. I’m just glad there are at least a few doctors willing to provide it. One less, today. Sigh.

Busy week ahead. Enjoy yours.

Posted at 1:17 am in Current events, Detroit life |
 

84 responses to “We can all get along.”

  1. Dexter said on June 1, 2009 at 2:42 am

    I had a Dodge like the Camaro in regards to the jammed transmission, but I had to take my hammer to the linkage every day —for a week, then I sold the car quickly. Yes, Dodge made a few small cars with manual transmissions. Those guys were lucky to have you around!
    Is it true or rural legend—in the days of AMF Harley Davidsons, did riders really fix their broken cycles by taking a wrench and removing and then using the nuts to the bolts that held roadway guard rails together?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Goodbye, old friend…Sunday , I broke-down and dismantled my old Schwinn Le Tour road bike, salvaging all the good parts, like the new handlebars, the new tires, the Jim Blackburn racks,the kick stand, as I am recycling the frame and junking the new rims. I cannot abide having a bicycle that constantly leaves me stranded with broken spokes. I have had six news rims built over the past three years and still…more broken spokes, constantly. I liked that bike , but I still have eleven others to ride, most of them clunkers, true. Tomorrow I’ll take my Specialized Cross Bike out for a spin to forget that empty space in my garage.
    I love the new VW commercial, too. It features the talking VW Bug bragging about the new clean-burning diesel and its great gas mileage. The commercial pokes fun at the hybrids with their pitiful mileage. I think they said the VW clean burning diesel gets 51 mpg. I am a proponent of the new diesels, 70% of new car sales in Europe are diesel.

  2. moe99 said on June 1, 2009 at 3:39 am

    This is OT but with the car discussion it sorta fits in: http://bouphonia.blogspot.com/2009/05/immense-good-will.html

    Rather nice takedown of the No global warming critics.

  3. Jolene said on June 1, 2009 at 4:43 am

    Love the photo, Nance. Great catch.

  4. Dexter said on June 1, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Uh Oh….breaking news…
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31040692/

  5. Colleen said on June 1, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I wish I could remember what model it was, but I remember seeing an old car that had an actual POINT in the center of the steering wheel. So you could be not only crushed, but impaled upon impact.

    The good old days, yanno….

  6. alex said on June 1, 2009 at 8:18 am

    This weekend saw a swoopy new VW of some sort. Looked a lot like the recent designs by Mercedes.

  7. basset said on June 1, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Back when PJ used to be funny, he wrote a piece for National Lampoon entitled “How to Drive Fast On Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink”…

    http://www.heretical.com/miscella/reptile.html

    and actually this is a cleaned-up version, “getting felt up” was something rather more graphic in the original. the fact that I can remember specific PJ lines from thirty years ago and forget the names of people I’ve just met says something, too…

  8. Connie said on June 1, 2009 at 9:48 am

    As to Dr. Tiller, I am horrified by the comments around the web and in my local paper applauding his murder. What happened to rule of law?

    Twice I have been surprised by a friend or acquaintance’s abortion story. We all have no idea who may have had an abortion or their reasons for doing so. But they must be evil. Let’s change the laws so their only option is a back alley abortion complete with coat hanger.

  9. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 10:19 am

    P.J. O’Rourke comes dangerously close to Bob Greene territory with his paean to the cars of old. And I’m a car freak who regularly visits the website of a classic car dealership (www.volocars.com) to drool over the glistening examples of American muscle.

    For about five years, I owned two cars. A 1980 Honda Accord, purchased new and destined to travel 134,000 miles before the bracket holding the transaxle succumbed to rust. A 1968 Pontiac LeMans convertible, purchased in 1984 for the princely sum of $1,500 and thoroughly clapped out. So, it’s not really a fair comparison.

    The LeMans was a sexy car. Coke bottle shape. Aggressive chrome grill. Tailights recessed in a big chrome bumper. And a rompin’, stompin’ four-barrel 350-cubic-inch V-8. It looked great, but it cornered like a refrigerator and if you braked hard three times, you had no brakes on the fourth. (The poor vehicle just has drum brakes.) It was largely undriveable in the winter, where the lone rear driving wheel would simply spin, overpowered by the V-8.

    I recognize this is not a fair comparison, but while the LeMans was a looker, the Accord was a far more enjoyable car to drive. It has a beautiful manual transmission that was never replaced –a clutch at 88,000 miles was the exception– and MacPherson strut suspension and disc brakes.

    Waxing eloquent about those old machines is like lionizing the 8-track tape player. They were cool for their day, but their time has passed. O’Rourke may lament the lost style of Detroit cars, which turned so butt ugly in the late 1970s that they were easy to ignore. But he’s talking out of his ass when he dares compare those ponderous beasts to the slick machines of today.

    And, I repeat, I still lust for my 1962 T-Bird convertible, my 1965 Ford Mustang, and my 1970 Pontiac Firebird.

  10. coozledad said on June 1, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Connie: Let them applaud. Then trace them to their fake churches and use the legal mechanisms put in place after 9/11 to freeze their assets. You can legally wiretap now without cause. Use that power. Physicians and specialty hospitals need to decide if people who deny others life-saving procedures are eligible for treatment themselves. Driving 300 miles to get chemo will be an inconvenience some have to face if they’re willing to support terrorism.
    Mandatory multiple life sentences for gun crimes, plus civil penalties for gun dealers.Steep, crippling civil penalties for professional radio and TV agents provocateurs.
    And most of all- revive the shun or ostraka. My feeling is these people will be much more comfortable working in the torture halls of Uzbekistan, where they can boil people with impunity.
    Our Saudi and New European allies can also get them to provide useful information where our statutes are too confining. The critical thing at this point is to disrupt a financial or military linkage between them and other international terrorist organizations. They’re militarized now. Use the army to break them.

  11. Joe Kobiela said on June 1, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Nancy’s transmission story reminds me of one of my favorite A.J. Foyt story’s. Seems A.J. had transmission trouble in a race, he comes into the pits, stops and the crew starts taking off the rear bonnet and gently tries to move the linkage. A.J. throws the belts off, climbs out of the car, grabs a screw driver that looked 3ft long and a ball pean hammer, knocks the mechanics out of the way and starts whacking on that $100,000.00 motor and transmission like there was no tomorrow. I also so him grab a lap top computer out of a engineer’s hand after his driver ran out of gas. The engineer was pointing that the computer was saying they should still have fuel. A.J.pointed to the dead car on the track and threw the computer down where it busted into a couple of hundred pieces.
    What a racer.
    Pilot Joe

  12. Conan the Libertarian said on June 1, 2009 at 11:01 am

    O’ROURKE: “Boy I miss the styling of older model cars.”

    DERRINGER: “Let me see the hands of all those who want to return to the golden era of bare-metal dashboards, leaded gasoline and seats free of safety belts.”

    ~~~

    JANE: “I was watching Mad Men the other night. Those cool fashions made me wistful for the early sixties.”

    DERRINGER: “Let me see the hands of all those who want to return to the golden era of black vote suppression, subjugation of women, and rampant bigotry toward homosexuals.”

    ~~~

    JOESCHMO: “I inherited my great grandfather’s Colt revolver. It’s still in perfect mechanical working order. Amazing! Makes me wonder where such pride in craftmanship has gone these days.”

    DERRINGER: “Let me see the hands of all those who want to return to the golden era of hanging tree justice, hardscrabble subsistence farming, and wholesale slaughter of the Native American.”

  13. coozledad said on June 1, 2009 at 11:05 am

    CONAN THE LIBERTARIAN: “I arrived at puberty late, so I thought I’d kick it here for another fifty years.”

  14. Sue said on June 1, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I believe Mr. O’Rourke incorrectly spelled “Traveller”. These small mistakes are damaging when your rep is based on being a brainy smartypants who should know that Lee used the British spelling. Time to retire.
    Anyone got any thoughts on last night’s Breaking Bad finale? I hadn’t seen several episodes and generally thought it was good. The air traffic controller thing was obvious right away and felt like a hammer. I love those beginning show/ending show connections, though. Speculation on what will happen next season?

  15. LA Mary said on June 1, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I had one of those once in a lifetime “I can fix it” moments my senior year of high school. I occasionally drove my brother’s Dodge Polara, which would not start if there was weather any wetter than morning dew. One had to remove the distributor cap and dry it off to start the car. Coming out of school one afternoon, I saw several of the tougher types of guys, the sort that drove beater used muscle cars, attempting to start an aging Dodge. It was drizzling. I looked under the hood, took of the distributor cap, dried it off and voila. Art club president school newspaper girls were not supposed to know how to do that
    I got so much respect from then on.

  16. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 1, 2009 at 11:33 am

    House full of guests for a long weekend proved i can walk away from the ‘puter for up to three days at a time without [twitch] too many [twitch] symptoms of withdrawal.

    Note 1 — the murderer of Dr. Tiller should be prosecuted and not apologized for, and may Randall Terry drive into a pothole he can’t avoid and break at the very least his frame if not drive shaft. That’s as much violence as i can feel OK wishing on anyone. Please note that the entire pro-life movement has spoken strongly and without qualification that this was wrong and evil to do, and please don’t use O’Reilly as a counterargument, since i just can’t see him as part of any movement other than . . . yeah, right.

    Note 2 — to state the obvious, just in case: the Sotomayor objections are utterly and entirely “working the refs.” She’s a fine swap for Souter considering whose administration is getting to replace him, and much better than many feared (Justice Hillary may have been a fundraising ploy, but quite a few worry that would have been a possibility before the whole Foggy Bottom thing). But it is demographically inevitable that Pres. Obama will do at least one, likely two more appointments even before his first term ends. If they just wave Sotomayor through, it creates a steeper slope for mustering a real opposition to the next candidate, who is very likely to be much more liberal/empathetic/policy oriented. That’s all this is about, is positioning for that debate, which is not very far down the track.

    Now, to work, and to brace my work schedule to the return of the Lad Wed. noon to my daily maneuverings. I’m almost liking the idea of a longer school year (he said guiltily).

  17. Dorothy said on June 1, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Mary I can visualize that scenario so well with your great descriptive paragraph! You really are Queen of the Commenters here, ya know. If we were giving out such titles, that is.

    I’m so sad that the Penguins are down by two games already. I’m blaming myself since I bought a Penguins Hockey tee shirt in Pittsburgh on Saturday. (Yeah I know, it’s all about me, isn’t it?!) But I don’t really follow hockey that much. Since it’s the Stanley Cup, though, I felt the need to support the team somehow.

    Connie your comment really hit home with me. I feel like I’ve been hanging out with all of you here at nn.c long enough to admit that I did have an abortion – in 1975. I’ve told very, very few people. Maybe it’s the anonymity of the web that’s making me do this, but I think that reading what Connie said just struck a nerve with me. “We all have no idea who may have had an abortion or their reasons for doing so.” This applies to MANY things in life, not just abortion. If only people were less judgmental about EVERYTHING this would be a much better world.

    And now I have to reach out and virtually slap the shit out of Conan up there @ 12.

  18. brian stouder said on June 1, 2009 at 11:34 am

    You know, I had a ’65 Polara that ran like a top! That thing always, always, always started. The day the junk man came to haul it away, it still started, but the transmission was done-for.

    The funny thing is, I had that car in 1979-80, so it was 14 or 15, and I thought it was ancient

    somewhere in the early ’70’s, everything became more padded/plastic and less hard/steel

    edit: Dorothy – I nominate YOU as the Queen of Commenters here; or, if Mary is Queen, you’re certainly the Princess of the Realm!

  19. Catherine said on June 1, 2009 at 11:35 am

    My 1976 powder blue Chevrolet Chevette had an intermittently bad starter motor. The starter was actually the tip of the iceberg, but anyway, I learned to always back it into parking spots, preferably ones that sloped. My most vivid memory of push starting it is in the parking lot of a Stuckey’s on I-40, somewhere around Flagstaff. A bunch of frat-boy types looked on in astonishment.

  20. Dexter said on June 1, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Sue : go back one thread…I linked a NJ Ledger story , and interview with Vince Gilligan, who finally links up the “737” theme. Remember how Walter White calculated he needed $737,000 ? A bit more to it than that. This show is a rare one in that every episode just tightens the grip on your soul a bit more.
    As the interviewer and Gilligan discuss, the metamorphosis of Jesse from scumbag to cute puppy dog contrasts perfectly to Walter’s pitiful man -to- monster change.

    I see Mad Men is returning…is this the kind of show I can jump into, or is it like Lost, which I hear is impossible to follow for a newbie-watcher.
    I tried watching a repeat last night, but it was too much like those damn HBO “In Treatment” shows…woman is pregnant, doesn’t want to be…doc hints at a solution, woman doesn’t know…and then I hurriedly shut the damn thing off. I guess maybe that show ain’t mah cuppa tea.

  21. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 11:40 am

    More about cars. . .

    Lee Iaoccocca’s (sp??) genius in creating the Mustang while at Ford was the ability to deliver a cool-looking, sporty car that almost anyone could afford. For the time, it was a nifty little trick. I was thinking of that in light of the success of the Mini Cooper, which is made by BMW. Here’s a car that is distinctive looking, well-made, backed by an outstanding warranty and –shocker of shockers– gets great gas mileage while being a blast to drive.

    Why didn’t an American firm create something like this? The Mini proves you can build a neat little car for a fair price and make a profit, right? Or was the commitment to those ponderous SUV’s so deep and so profound our companies lost the ability to reimagine an economy car as a little performance car?

  22. Connie said on June 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Catherine, my dark blue 1979 Chevette wore through it’s alternator bolt housing about once a year, it wasn’t that the alternators died, it was that they just fell off. Drove that babe for 9 years and over 100,000 miles. Until I decided that hauling my baby around in a car with a rusted out floor in the front just didn’t seem right.

  23. Catherine said on June 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Dorothy, I posted my car story before seeing your post @ #17. Thank you for sharing that story, and may we all stop judging, especially about things we know little about personally.

    Quite a number of my friends have had abortions, at points from a few weeks to 5 months. The second trimester stories are the hardest to hear, because they are always very much-wanted babies, with horrible birth defects. Someone (Nancy?) once said here something like it’s always a tough decision and a sad event. I didn’t contradict at the time, but I think there are times when it’s actually an easy decision, and one the women look back on without an ounce of regret.

  24. Sue said on June 1, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Does anyone watch the Mecum car auctions on cable? They seem to take place in Indiana somewhere (Indianapolis, maybe, because their big sale is Indy 500 weekend), and people use the words “muscle” and “Shelby”, and cars that people used to drive around town in the late 60’s and 70’s sell for the price of my house. There is lots of shouting, and the cars are shiny, even the engines. Some cars are very important – a very shiny car didn’t sell a couple of weeks ago because the bidding was only at 6 million and they wanted 8 or 20 or something, and now I know what a reserve is.
    I don’t know cars, can you tell? But that show is fun to watch in a glazed-eye kind of way. Probably more fun if you know what they’re talking about.

  25. moe99 said on June 1, 2009 at 11:57 am

    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/06/operation-rescue.html

    Just so you know how hollow the protestations of Operation Rescue really are.

  26. Catherine said on June 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    For Connie, more Chevette stories: The clutch cable snapped as I changed gears on Route 1A in Boston, near Nahant. Picture a 4-lane, limited-access commuter road, with no shoulder and CURBS. I’m stuck in neutral with traffic whizzing by at 65. Had just enough momentum to roll into a conveniently located service station.

    And every part of the starter failed at different times. I learned how to use a screwdriver to spark-start the car, from a mechanic in Cuba, New Mexico. That trick was good for impressing the boys, but a little scary for regular use.

  27. JPK said on June 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Please note that the entire pro-life movement has spoken strongly and without qualification that this was wrong and evil to do…

    This is really disingenous considering the whole tenor of the statement from Operation Rescue. The only thing they seem to regret is that the shooter didn’t force “Mr.” Tiller down to his knees to beg forgiveness of his Maker. You can’t say that statement is “without qualification” and you can’t say Operation Rescue isn’t part of “the entire pro-life movement.” You can say I don’t have your same perspective, but what I’m hearing is a lot of coded smug self-satisfaction out there from pro-lifers, which disgusts me.

  28. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    My buddy Doug in Charlotte, N.C. used to tell women at bars he “drove a ‘Vette.” Not everyone was amused when he walked them to his Chevette instead of a sleek sports car.

  29. Dexter said on June 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Not to rain on your parade, JeffBorden, but Click and Clack The Tappet Brothers frequently mention , when a caller phone in with yet another Mini Cooper problem, “that is common in these cars” or “we see that all the time with Minis”.
    I just get the impression they are not really up to standard BMW usual quality.

    Mecnanic memories: “These goddam Fords…why did they have to put that way back THERE!?”

    “Buy that Chrysler and just remember those axles will fail you soon”. I did. And I experienced axle failure…two worn out half shafts way before their time.

    “Well, we have seen several transmission failures in these Chevy Citations.”
    I bought it anyway…new transmission , $900, just before it got cut cut in half by that big truck and I attained “Saved By the Belt” status.

    Volkswagen Microbus: ” Make sure you inspect those brake lines once a month…they have a way of getting pinched and cut.”
    My brakes went out it all three of my buses over the years! Once I drove 30 miles just to get off a freeway with no brakes whatsoever, on the freeway shoulder…scary shit…no cell phones, remote location…what a horrible day.
    I now look at all used cars and can instinctively calculate how much it would cost to get the car up in running order, because while maybe one in thirty used cars really will “make it to California”, most will require many repairs before they attain that lofty status.
    I am 59 years old and the only modes of transport that thrill me are a new train car or a new bicycle. GM and I both view the car world differently today, but they will emerge , reborn into a new GM. I’ll ride my bike past a FOR SALE car on the street and just cringe as I recall all the tens of thousands I have poured down the rat-hole of car repairs on used cars.

  30. 4dbirds said on June 1, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Cars don’t interest me at all. I want something that will start, get me from A to B and hopefully with a working heater. Some of the happiest years of my life were when I lived in Berlin, FRG and didn’t own a car. Hubby, the kids and I got by with the subway, buses and occasionally taxis.

    I’ve known several women who’ve had abortions. Of course there are women who have regrets but most I’ve known felt nothing but relief and had no regrets. I also knew a girl in high school who received an illegal abortion somewhere. She died of sepsis because she waited too long to tell anyone why she was sick. I don’t ever want to go back to those days.

  31. Catherine said on June 1, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    jeff b, the anthem of that car was, “Little Blue Chevette,” sung to the tune of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” I wish I could remember the words.

  32. paddyo' said on June 1, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Dexter and Sue —

    I agree on the “tightened grip on the soul” by “Breaking Bad,” particularly this season. Walt’s slow slide from mild-mannered etc. to a guy who actually takes pride-of-authorship/creatorship in his blue-ice meth has been fascinating, and not a little scary …

    And those grainy, B&W images of the one-eyed drowned teddy bear, hazmat-suited crime scene types, etc., teased all season in little out-of-context dream-like snatches, came home last night in an unexpected way … but a brilliant one.

    I had figured at least one of the bagged bodies might turn out to be a member of Walt’s family (son “Flynn” perhaps), but I see from that excellent article you linked, Dexter, that they’ll turn out to be victims from the sky.
    Still, there’s plenty to sift over summer … and I guess, through autumn, too. Anybody know whether they’ve said when “BB” is returning?

    Other things to ponder:
    — Now that Mr. Los Pollos Hermanos, “Gus,” knows about Walt’s illness, will it complicate the meth-supplier relationship? I know the NJ article seems to suggest otherwise, but I wonder.
    — And will the south-of-the-border narcotraffickers try to muscle in next season?

    Meanwhile, welcome to summer’s doldrums, until “Mad Men” returns in August.

  33. mark said on June 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    jeff b-

    You have heard the one about the mouse, the elephant and the corvette, right?

  34. Danny said on June 1, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    My comment late yesterday aside (to those who were seeking to make immediate political hay), all I can say is that I had a genuinely sick feeling in my stomach when I heard the news that Tiller had been murdered. What a terrible, awful thing. I hope for peace for Tiller’s soul and for his family to have peace, but I’m very shaken by the whole thing. This sort of thing cannot be tolerated.

    Nancy, Dorothy, Connie … thanks for your comments. Good to get some perspective.

    Totally incongruent to the above subject matter, but we went to see Fleetwood Mac last night. It was a great show and for our anniversary I had sprung for some good seats. We got home late and I didn’t sleep well (thinking about Doctor Tiller), so we haven’t downloaded our pictures or videos yet. Maybe later this week we’ll get to it and I can share something a little more light-hearted and uplifting with you all.

    One minor note of amusement: It seems whenever we go to a concert these days, we always are located near some girl who is dancing like a total dork, either like Elaine in Seinfeld or like someone who is having their own little worship service. Last night, we had a combo of this. Pretty funny. I’d like to extract that bit of video if we got any good footage. Oh, and then there was the 6’5″ guy next to me who wanted to sing along with all of Stevie Nicks’ female-centric lyrics. Ewww.

    Okay, one more thing. Coozledad, sorry for getting perturbed and posting brashly yesterday.

  35. Sue said on June 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Dexter and PaddyO’: that’s what I get for missing so many episodes, although based on the article’s information, much of the “under the radar” stuff would have gone past me anyway. I’m really not sure I can keep watching the show, though; it’s disturbing enough for me that I keep waiting for the next awful thing… but I want to see what happens. And I continue to marvel at Bryan Cranston and, um, the guy who plays Jesse. I think the show will go from cult to classic as more people discover it, and you two can say you were there first and knew it all along.

  36. Scout said on June 1, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    What I want to know is when the laws that say you cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater are going to be enforced. http://www.bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2009/06/quote_of_the_da_40.html#comments

    It is well past time for people to be held accountable for whipping others into a frenzy in order to further their viewpoint, and, even worse, for ratings. This should not be acceptable.

  37. moe99 said on June 1, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/6/1/737587/-A-Doctors-StoryWhy-I-and-my-patients-will-miss-Dr.-Tiller

    I wish that these sorts of testimonials had come out before Dr. Tiller’s death.

  38. LA Mary said on June 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    moe99,I know a family who got news similar to what was mentioned in your link. They chose to have the baby. It lived several weeks. Surgery was performed more than once. They declared bankruptcy, divorced, and one of their other children committed suicide six months later. The mother has full custody of their one surviving child. She’s my older son’s age, 18, and I haven’t heard anything about her in a couple of years, so I hope she’s ok.

  39. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    On his very best days, Bill O’Reilly is among the lowest forms of life on earth, but his role in demonizing Dr. Tiller may be his nadir.

    But, hey, it gets him good ratings and that’s all –absolutely all– Bill O cares about.

  40. Julie Robinson said on June 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I’m late getting here today, but I really appreciate Dorothy’s courage as well as the (mostly) intelligent tone of the discussion, and Moe’s link. Abortion is never an easy choice but we have to keep it safe, legal and rare.

    An interesting juxtaposition of the GM saga to my trip to the grocery today. In front of me at the service counter was an elderly woman who had walked to the store along with her trail-along cart. She was doing her banking and bill paying. It cost $3 each to cash her checks, .49 each to buy money orders, and .44 each for the stamps to mail in the bills. I couldn’t help thinking how much $$ she was wasting this way. But she apparently lacks a bank account and computer/internet access as well as know-how. I’m able to do all that electronically at no cost, and our credit union doesn’t charge for checking accounts.

    This woman was going about her business much as she probably had 40 or 50 years ago. It may be costly and inefficient but it’s all she knows. Kinda like GM and the other domestic car companies. We are embarking on a grand experiment to see if we can reinvent an entire culture. For the sake of all the auto workers and suppliers I hope it’s a success.

    She was also buying 5 packs of cigarettes, but that’s for another day.

  41. Sue said on June 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    When Timothy McVeigh killed all those civilians in Oklahoma City well over a decade ago, lots of questions were asked about the responsibility of talk radio and its “I love my country but fear my government” chorus.
    So, there’s your answer, Scout.

  42. LA Mary said on June 1, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m sorry. This person is stupid. There is no other explanation.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/200906010007

  43. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    LA Mary,

    There was a story in either the NYT or WSJ a few years ago about the D-list political commentators including Dum Dum Debbie Schlussel. The story detailed her efforts at working phones and e-mails to producers of rightwing media shows, where she would offer her “informed” commentary.

    She lives in the Detroit area and apparently practices some kind of law. She worships Sean Hannity in the same pathetic manner a 12-year-old lusts for Zac Efron. She loves referring to Dearborn as Dearbornistan because of its sizable Arab population. She fancies herself quite the pop cultural commentator, despite her status as one of the nerdiest writers on the right. And while describes herself as a Mensa member, she fell for a satire a few weeks ago suggesting that Jamie Foxx would play Frank Sinatra in the upcoming biopic.

    Anyhow, that’s our Little Debbie Snackcakes. The Motown Moron.

  44. john c said on June 1, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    As usual, I was about with Nancy on the PJ O’Rourke piece. … Shifting gears only slightly, I couldn’t help but sigh, as a GM cool-aid drinker to the end, at a classic NPRism in the coverage of the GM bankruptcy today. Talking about the break-up, a reporter whose name I can’t remember said Saturn already has a few people looking at it. But “Hummer, on the other hand, will be the real problem …” (Read the word “real” with a righteous sneer and imagine the nodding heads in Subarus and Honda Pilots across the land.) But this isn’t what was so delightfully NPRish (and please know that I’m a devoted NPR listener.) No, it was that, in the same sentence, the reporter noted that the GM CEO was expected to announce that someone was ready to buy Hummer. Hmm. Mightn’t one boil that sentence down to: Of course Hummer will be the real problem, and it will not be a problem at all. I liken it to, say, a San Diego weatherman pathologically unable to predict anything but sunshine. “It’ll be sunny today, of course. And it will be rainy.”
    I know. I know. I know. The real problem with Hummer is the perception problem those beasts caused. What galls me is the persistent need to, oh, make things up to fit that perception. Clearly, from a dollars-and-cents business standpoint, Hummer was not a problem at all. It was, as the Wall STreet Journal is reporting, the first unit of GM to be scooped up.
    I still haven’t heard the “they just didn’t make cars that anyone wanted to buy” line yet. But I’m sure I will. Never mind that, right up until the end, more people wanted to buy GM cars than wanted to buy cars from any other company save one.
    Sigh.

  45. Scout said on June 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Sue, oh I know how it is. I do hope O’Reilly’s words are plastered all over the 24 hour news for a few weeks though. Seeing him discredited does not bring Dr. Tiller back, but it might make a tiny dent in his pin head and those of commentators like him. I just want it to stop.

  46. Sue said on June 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    You mean commentators like Tucker Carlson, speaking of Bill’s comments?:
    “Every one of those descriptions of Tiller is objectively true. I sincerely think it’s appalling that he was murdered. But Tiller was a monster, no doubt.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/05/29/DI2009052902325.html?hpid=discussions

  47. mark said on June 1, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Tiller was murdered. Using his murder to demonize the people you disagree with, or to engage in wishful thinking about silencing the views that aren’t as intelligent or progressive as your own, is foolish.

    Let’s silence Islam before they whip any more extremists into a frenzy.

    Button-up Cindy Shehan and the peaceniks for planting the seeds of today’s shooting at a military recruiting facility in Arkansas.

    And when somebody takes a shot at Dick Cheney, by all means let’s check the visits to nn.c, where the loony might easily have found his justification. Like shouting ‘fire’ in a theater, I tell you.

  48. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    John C,

    I’m a live and let live kind of guy regarding cars. My own vehicle is an Acura TL, which gets about 26 to 28 mph on the freeways, but a measly 15 to 18 in town. I’ve no desire to drive a Prius, though the soaring prices again this summer might make me rethink that stance.

    If someone thinks it is cool to drive a Hummer, let them. Perhaps there are places in which they are ideal rides. But I reserve the right to mercilessly mock the virility-challenged men who drive them down the Edens Expressway from their North Shore homes to a cozy parking deck in the Loop.

    Oh yeah, Mr. Hummer Driver, you are soooooo manly, lol.

    As an aside, there was a story recently in the Times about a pair of Baghdad brothers who were importing Hummers from the USA to sell in Iraq. You’d think they might be associated with the military occupation, but instead, the civilian versions are seen as wicked cool, or so the brothers argued.

  49. nancy said on June 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Hummers really are dog whistles for a particular type of liberal, when if you spend any time learning about them, they’re really no worse than your average mid-size SUV. There’s an offensiveness factor to driving a military-style vehicle when an actual war is going on, but other than the very few rich souls who can afford the original $100,000 H1 — Ah-nuld, Snoop Dogg, et al — the Car & Driver description seems to apply: “This is an SUV dressed up in a G.I. Joe suit.”

  50. Sue said on June 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    How about a compromise? We respect Bill’s and Glenn’s and Rush’s right to free speech on a wide variety of topics and people, and when something happens after they have exercised that right over and over, making money off of their opinions and gaining fame among the followers who reallyreallyreally agree with them, every last one of them gets to stand in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner and take credit for helping the cause(s) to which they are so committed that they are willing to pursue the free speech equivalent of shouting fire in a theater.

  51. jeff borden said on June 1, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I would amend your statement to say the Hummer H1 is no worse than a full-size SUV. I don’t care much for butched out trucks, so I don’t know the dimensions, but the Hummers look wider than the big SUVs. They certainly are fun to watch poking down the narrow streets in Lincoln Park, lol.

    They’ve had their day. Johanna and I went to Wrigley Field last night to watch the Cubs lose badly to the Dodgers. A few years ago, the player parking lot was wall-to-wall Hummers and Escalades. Now, the ballplayers seem to have gravitated to Bentleys. We counted four sedans and one convertible last night. There also were some 800 series BMWs in the ranks.

  52. moe99 said on June 1, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2009/6/1/05557/09911

    Booman has some good points on Dr. Tiller’s profession.

  53. Scout said on June 1, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Mark, I must take exception to your claim that any of us tree huggin’ liberal peaceniks might just pull some Timothy McVeigh stunt because of comments here at nn.c. Screw spell check, your computer needs an absurdity check command.

    Name the last domestic terrorist that was anything but a right wing nut job. Name one.

  54. Jolene said on June 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Another first-person account of the sort of circumstances that lead to late-term abortion. Also, some interesting numbers: Will Saletan was just on MSNCC saying that late-term abortions constitute 1.5% of all abortions performed in the US. I don’t read him regularly, so can’t assess his credibility, but I think he writes seriously about abortion fairly often, so he probably has his numbers right.

  55. Dexter said on June 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    jeffborden: Ballplayer car memories:
    Greg Maddux, young Cub pitcher, before the mega bux, drove a white little Nissan sedan.
    Jim Thome, Cleveland Indians, mid-1990s, drove the biggest, baddest Dodge pickup trucks, always totally shined up, red. Extra long bed.
    Tony Pena the elder, late in his career as an Indian backup catcher, drove a stylish , sporty-lookin’ BMW sedan.

    Kenny Lofton? Oh yeah, baby! A pure white huge Mercedes luxury sedan.
    Years ago I saw Leo Durocher pull into his spot at Wrigley Field. Of course he had the deal with a Pontiac dealership…a brand new Pontiac full size sedan in exchange for a picture of a smiling Leo on the advertising. Those dealerships changed-out the car about mid-season, too…always a new car for Leo.

    And then there was Mickey Mantle, who walked from his hotel in NYC to Yankee Stadium on nice days…many, many blocks. This was documented in his book “My Favorite Year, 1956”, by Mickey.
    FWIW, Pete Ward was the last White Soxer to live in Bridgeport, but he drove the six short blocks to the game, I think…never saw him on the streets, anyway….

  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 1, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Scout —

    Just crusin’ through, but:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Jane_Moore

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Oughton

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOVE [This one gets you a combo of liberal and conservative stupidity & terrorism, but i leave it to you to determine culpability]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Liberation_Army

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koresh [Is this liberality run amok or conservatism with a religious overlay? Again, half-and-half.]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Allan_Muhammad

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Liberation_Front

    That’s just me ruminating briefly, but i think it refutes the “only right wing nut job” meme.

    Sara Jane was just on the Today show doing her unrepentant parolee “understandable” schtick about conservative warmongers provoking poor innocents like herself to unreasonable actions, which she now of course regrets as she deals with the harsh, harsh terms of their probation.

    Sort of.

    Anyhow, I would say that if Saletan says it statistically, it’s probably true. He’s proven to be consistently reliable in the past.

  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 1, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    And then i go to review the day’s news, and find this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/us/02recruit.html

    Done by a right wing nut job? Somehow, i suspect not. As always, i could be wrong.

  58. Deborah said on June 1, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Dorothy, thank you.

  59. Danny said on June 1, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Scout, Weather Underground.

  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Oh, and how could i have forgotten:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Kaczynski

  61. LA Mary said on June 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Jeff TMMO, I question calling the Unibomber a lefty, or Sara Jan Moore, or David Koresh or John Allan Mohammed. Aren’t there folks who are just crazy? Weather Underground, no doubt was lefty. But Kacysnski? He was anti-technology and anti- government.
    Not one of them can touch McVeigh in numbers or destruction.

  62. LA Mary said on June 1, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    And I want to thank Dorothy too. I feel priveleged that you shared that.

  63. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 1, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    And McVeigh was sane? Sadly, we executed him, so the question can’t be resolved (yes, i’m most certainly against the death penalty). So perhaps we’re saying that a certain level of craziness can’t be laid largely, let alone entirely, at the doorstep of partisanship? I’d go along with that, but as framed, the question deserved the response i offered. But if you want to say they’re disturbed individuals who were ready to go sproingggg at the slightest touch, i’m certainly fine with that. Eric Rudolph and the accused killer in Wichita are no more conservative exemplars than the Africa family or the Weather Underground are liberal test cases.

    Dorothy, you honor us all with your candor. Hope campus life has reached a quiet calm as we have finally achieved here, a bit south of y’all. We make the strategic choice to have Reunion Weekend the weekend after Commencement, which takes a few layers of skin off the elbows of all the staff and such hereabouts.

  64. coozledad said on June 1, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Ted is a misogynist. There’s also an element of green libertarianism in his spiel. I think he’s one of those characters who straddles the confluence of the extreme left and right. The authoritarian impulse wedded to upper class dipshit Thoreaux maunderings. It’s like wandering into a Naderite seminar on fuel economy where they’re arguing about which car to take to some political theater event designed exclusively to piss off yokels.
    There are a hell of a lot of people who are already disgusted with timber industry practices, especially since it’s a prime example of “free enterprise” milking the public trust through the sham of the US Forestry Service, but Ted was, like a lot of fortunate kids, a hostile little shit looking for some form to inhabit. Smallholders need to be encouraged to resist efforts to clearcut forested land, if only for reasons of self interest. The people cutting now are paying shit. They’re the equivalent of television ministers, and their targets are the same: The elderly and feeble. It’s one of the worst cases of mindless grabass and wonton ecosystem destruction in history. If anything, Kaczynski has conferred victim status on real perps, none of whom were his targets. No movement ever coalesced around him. At least not one that included nonwhite non hacky-sack players.
    These idiots don’t have any idea how to get through the fucking day, much less work toward political solutions.

  65. mark said on June 1, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    scout,

    John Brown
    Bill Ayres
    Bernadine Dohrn
    Mark Rudd
    Eldridge Cleaver
    Timothy Leary
    Patricia Hearst
    Donald deFreeze
    Angela Atwood
    Ted Kaczynski

    Many others.

  66. Jolene said on June 1, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Ted is a misogynist.

    Maybe, but the more salient fact is that Ted is a paranoid schizophrenic.

  67. coozledad said on June 1, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Jolene: And also fervently anti-choice.

  68. mark said on June 1, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    And Scout,

    It wasn’t my contention that someone will do something criminal because of the comments here. People make their own decisions. Even the crazy ones.

  69. moe99 said on June 1, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Yes, Dorothy, thank you for your courage and your candor. It’s stories like yours that put the lie to the right wing cant that passes for truth out there.

  70. Jolene said on June 1, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    And also fervently anti-choice.

    Right, but my point was that whom a mentally ill person chooses to kill and what he or she says about it should be thought of as a reflection of the illness rather than a matter of politics. For instance, several years ago, a young man from the Pittsburgh area went off his meds and shot several people of color, claiming that he was opposed to foreigners. A couple of years ago, an American of Pakistani descent shot several people at a Jewish organization in Seattle. In both cases, there were clear political statements, but there were also clear histories of mental illness.

    The madness organizes itself around themes that flow from the person’s history and culture, but it’s still madness.

  71. mark said on June 1, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Thank you, Jolene.

  72. Scout said on June 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Well, guys, thanks for the long list… most of whom were from 30-40 years ago. I guess I was more looking for someone comparable in the past decade or so, who lost their shit and started blowing people away AND can be tied to relentless fear mongering from the “liberal” media. I guess I was more looking for someone whose insanity could be a bit more directly linked to screeds by, say Olbermann or Moore. My bad, I was not very specific.

    I maintain that right wing punditry goes out of its way to whip up strong emotions in some pretty unstable people and then acts all wide eyed and innocent when people die. “I’m just an entertainer,” they claim.

  73. coozledad said on June 2, 2009 at 6:08 am

    I agree It’s the crazy that’s the root of the problem. But the right seems to pride itself on tapping into the crazy. I can’t forget Bush’s posturing during the Schiavo fiasco.
    I suppose if someone wants to make an argument that the militant movements that sprang up in opposition to the Vietnam War, or the groups that formed in opposition to the marginalization of blacks were exclusively leftist, they’re somewhat justified. But it also shows a willful ignorance concerning the distribution of political power at the time. If you opposed the Vietnam war during the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and stepped out on the sidewalk to voice that opposition, some lardass on bubba welfare would crack your skull open. Or shoot your ass down on campus. Or if you were black, you could be shot or strung up because someone thought you were breathing too close to a white woman.
    There are plenty of former hippies who, once they had no fear of being drafted, bought into the whole shitty ethos of blowing nations apart for the sheer fuck of it (And by the way, old Reagan hippies, fuck you.)
    Yet it’s always the Republicans who are the victims. This is the deployment of the “yeah, but you do it too” argument they trot out after their latest senseless killing. It now has that sickening inevitability about it. And they’re completely sanguine about the whole thing. It’s how they make a brilliant Hispanic woman into an oppressor of Tom Tancredo and his thugs.
    But their latest tool wasn’t acting alone. He was an organization man. They’ve found contact info for Operation Rescue staff in his car. He’s been at the tits of various right wing groups for decades now.
    I’ll rephrase Scout’s question: Show me a current group of lefties with a checkbook and a body count that comes anywhere close to these Republican auxiliaries. I’ll give you a little while to reset your goalposts.

  74. coozledad said on June 2, 2009 at 6:41 am

    A laundry list:
    “If his murder was the result of anti-abortion ideology, Tiller’s would be the eighth death in the last 20 years. In addition, there have been 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 incidents of arson, 96 attempted bombings or arson, 390 invasions, 1,400 cases of vandalism, 1,993 cases of trespassing, 100 butyric acid attacks, 659 anthrax threats, 179 cases of assault and battery, 406 death threats, four kidnappings, 151 burglaries, and 525 cases of stalking directed at abortion clinics, doctors and patients according to the National Abortion Federation.”

  75. alex said on June 2, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Turns out the shooter at the military recruitment center was a Muslim convert.

  76. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 2, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Well, if you check the last two links on my overlong list, i can get you into the current decade. Having said that, i think a debate over which “side” is more into inflaming unstable people for the sake of getting them to do disavowable acts is looking at a Matisse from the edge — there’s some contour, but not much. It’s a very uninteresting way to look at the scene, mainly because so much of current political debate is nowhere near two-sided, D & R.

    What i do find interesting: i agree with Dick Cheney.

    So i really am a right wing troglodyte!

  77. john c said on June 2, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Just for the record, I don’t particularly care for Hummers myself. I was merely pointing out the strange need so many people have to leap from “I don’t like it” to “nobody likes it and the fact that GM makes it proves they are idiots.”
    And Dexter’s post about what ballplayers drove reminded me of an old Chicago Bulls memory. I think it was Michael Jordan’s return after playing baseball, or some big event like that. I was sent to the old Chicago Stadium to cover the “scene” for the news side. After it was done I walked out of the press and player’s exit into one of those bitch-mother of a cold Chicago nights. I noticed the hum first. Then I saw the soft glow of dashboard lights and the exhaust gently wafting into the night. I was walking through a herd of Lexi, Jaguars, tricked-out trucks and one very bright red Lambourghini – Scottie Pippen’s, if memory serves. The Bulls staff had, of course, started ’em all up for the lads.
    And this story reminds me of the first real big interview I ever had. Tip O’Neill was speaking in Boston and I, a cub reporter for the Boston College paper, had been granted a few moments with The Speakuh. It was at BU and I walked out afterward and was waiting for the T on Commonwealth Ave. “Hey Tip! Howahyuh?” I heard someone say. I turned to see the rumpled hulk of the third person in line to the Presidency wave and stuff himself into the passenger seat of a beat up Plymouth Duster. At the wheel, of course, was his son Tommy, I mean, Massachusetts Leut. Governor Thomas O’Neill.
    I miss guys like Tip.

  78. nancy said on June 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

    John, I’m disappointed. You know the plural of Lexus is Lexii.

  79. beb said on June 2, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Operation Rescue’s expression of shock and horror at the murder of Dr. Tiller is the same shock and regret they expressed after earlier murdered of abortion doctors in, I believe, Florida. Back then anti-abortion web sites were carrying “wanted” posters targeting several abortion providers. The situation was not unlike that in the play “Becket” where the king famously asks, “who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”and when a couple of courtiers go out and murder Becket complains “I didn’t mean kill him…” Well, if Operation Rescue and these other anti abortion groups don’t want murders committed in their name then they had ought to stop talking in such absolutist, eliminatist terms.

    It was weird synchronicity that Nancy choice to talk about cars the day after my car died. I fried the engine by not paying enough attention to oil level since the engines was burning oil on a slow by steady basis. There was a funny aspect to this. I was on the freeway nearing my exit when the engine stopped. I put it into neutral and tried to start the engine and when that didn’t help considered my options. I was in the nearest lane, preparing to exit, traffic was very light. So I decided to continue to coast in neutral for a while longer. The closer to home the short, the cheaper, the tow would be.

    When traffic began to catch up with me I pulled onto the shoulder but was still going around 40 as I got to the exit ramp. The farther up the ramp the better for the tow truck I thought. I was still rolling when I got to the top, so I looked around for the best place to ditch. This was a pretty busy off-ramp so no place was good. Except that at the moment no one else was around. I decided to just keep going up to the traffic light. The car was small and easy to push so I could push it around the corner onto the much safer surface street. Only as I drifted up to the corner, the light turned green. I had just enough momentum to drift through the turn and parked safely before calling AAA. I must have coasted a quarter-mile, maybe a half mile, after the engine died, to that safe parking place. Talk about lucky.

    Obama has been pretty clear that his administration does not plan to micro-manage GM or Chrysler. The president does need to set some clear nation-wide automotive policies, though. The nation needs more small, fuel efficient cars, not because people like those cars but because oil has gotten too expensive and will only continue to get more expensive. It would help if the US and Europe got together and agreed to common safety standards so that cars developed in Europe could be introduced into the US without major re-designs, as I think happened to The Smart Car.

    I think GM’s original plan was to close US plants and import more cars from overseas. As president that would be unacceptable to me. I’m not sure what Obama’s plans are but I think I would link any bailout money to purely domestic manufacture of cars sold in the US.

    Most of the Hummer IIIs, I think, were built on Suburban frame so they are merely large SUVs. The first generation of Hummers, though, were larger than Expeditions, militarized in look and exuded an in-your-face arrogance that alienated a lot of people. And yet, The Hummer line was quickly sold off Monday, while Saturn and Saab are still looking for buyers.

  80. basset said on June 2, 2009 at 9:19 am

    if you buy a Hummer, you should have to take it to Iraq…

  81. Connie said on June 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I live a county away from the Hummer plant. My back road route to the mall takes me behind the large rail yard between here and there, where there are lots filled with hundreds of Hummers, both military paint and not. Are they unsold? Are they just waiting to get loaded on a train? I am curious blonde.

  82. moe99 said on June 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Here’s mark’s list:
    John Brown
    Bill Ayres
    Bernadine Dohrn
    Mark Rudd
    Eldridge Cleaver
    Timothy Leary
    Patricia Hearst
    Donald deFreeze
    Angela Atwood
    Ted Kaczynski

    They’re fairly close to those that Jeff tmmo is talking about as far as lefties who have committed violence. What I want to know, is what organizations were getting the same amount of publicity with their whacked out notions that the folks at Operation Rescue, or Bill O’Reilly or Tucker Carlson are now getting as they condemn Dr. Tiller and continue to incite anti abortion supporters to violence? I think rather than slinging around these charges, it would behoove those who make them to provide names.

  83. mark said on June 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

    moe,

    You are very good at winning the arguments that the other guy isn’t making.

    I’m not “slinging around these charges”. I responded to the challenge “Name the last domestic terrorist that was anything other than a right wing nut job. Name one.” In addition to the guy who shot up the military recruiting office yesterday, I named several.

  84. moe99 said on June 2, 2009 at 10:51 am

    mark, I was using your list as a shortcut to respond to jefftmmo, so since you didn’t understand that I will restate it.

    Jeff–=Name me the MSM pundits and mainstream organizations who were in the news inciting folks to do the types of violent behavior that the individuals and organizations you listed accomplished. For ease of reference here are those individuals and organizations you listed:

    Sara_Jane_Moore

    Diana_Oughton

    MOVE

    Black_Liberation_Army

    David_Koresh [And no this is not liberality as it is classically defined whatsoever]

    John_Allan_Muhammad

    Earth_Liberation_Front

    On another topic, watched The Front Page by Billy Wilder last night. That era is gone.