A personal friend.

I set out yesterday on my police rounds via bicycle, which would be my favorite workout of the week if not for all the sweating: I cover 15 miles or so with five cop-shop breaks for rest and entertainment. There’s nothing like finding a report on a neighbor complaining that his neighbor’s garden fountain is too loud to brighten a girl’s Monday, or seeing a grimmer one to fuel the grind to the next station.

But alas, it was not to be. The skies opened en route to the Farms, and I had to cut the whole thing short. I knew it was trouble when I stopped at a corner, and just that gentle braking was enough to make me skid. There’s enough skidding to be done around here in winter, no need to pile it on. As I stood under the sheltering eaves, screwing it up for a drenching, one of those Lance Armstrong types blew past — dressed European-style, head down, lean as…well, as Lance. A rolling Nike commercial. Just do it, it said. So I did.

Got pretty wet. But as my dad used to say, “You’re not sugar. You won’t melt.” (Other dads tell their daughters they’re pretty pretty princesses. My father preferred a different model.)

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment of silence: An F.O.M. has died. Which is? Why, a friend of Mitch (Albom), of course. I first discovered the F.O.M. obit when Warren Zevon left us; I thought the top of my skull would fly off, as Mitch told us all how much the deceased had loved… Mitch. Today’s F.O.M. is typical:

We first got to know each other when our books came out a year apart. We shared the joys and pressures of fast success, asking each other, “So what do we do now?” Frank wasn’t much into sports, but he would quiz me about “DEE-troit,” the accent on the wrong syllable, the “tr” rolling through his Irish brogue and making our industrial town sound like something out of “Finian’s Rainbow.”

“You’re a good fellah,” he would tell me, after we did speeches or book fairs together. To sit next to him was to sit at the knee of a better storyteller than your grandfather. And when I played “Danny Boy” on the piano, he would rise as if singing a national anthem.

That’s Frank McCourt, of course. I strived to see anything that would indicate Mitch had even read the man’s books, but other than the obvious Irish clichés — the word “impish” appears, as does “twinkle” — alas there was nothing. But you don’t have to have read a famous author (McCourt) when you’ve appeared onstage with him, do you?

The last song he did with our band was the cowboy tune “Don’t Fence Me In,” an odd choice for an Irishman. But it seems sadly fitting now, because you couldn’t fence him in…

I love things that are “sadly fitting” in retrospect, and especially when they are sadly fitting in a trite, obvious way, don’t you? It’s so satisfying.

Oh, it’s been a great morning for all the bookmarks in my Idiots folder. Lileks:

As I’ve said before, nothing sums up the seventies, and the awful guttering of the national spirit, than a pop song about Skylab falling on people’s heads. “Skylab’s Falling,” a novelty hit in the summer of ’79.

Wha-? Huh? Once again: What the hell is he talking about? A little Googling, and it seems it’s most likely this, and to call it a “hit” seems to be stretching it, but well, when you’re a soldier in the War on Straw, what’s a stretch, anyway. “Skylab” seems to be by none other than Steve Dahl, whose wife reads this blog from time to time; I hope she gets a kick out of this. I remember Skylab fondly, m’self, as I won an office pool on the splashdown site. My guess: Krakatoa, east of Java.

Lileks is dusting off this week’s meme, popular among conservative libertarians: Damn the torpedoes, on to Mars! Depending on where they fall on the spectrum, libertarians will advocate removing the government from everything from zoning to infrastructure maintenance to education, but if you talk to them long enough, you inevitably find the place where they advocate Uncle Sam just write a blank check, and why? Because they like this thing, that’s why, and so you find yourself talking to a person who doesn’t think the government should build an interstate highway, but should sink billions or trillions into a mission to Mars. Perhaps they all imagine that in another time, they would be the men standing on the prows of ships sailing off to the unknown, in profile to a setting sun. Because they are Libertarians, and they are Free.

I need to stop reading these people, although they certainly don’t disappoint in the blogfodder department, do they?

Bloggage elsewhere: I also need to start following Sarah Palin on Twitter, but maybe that’s what Gawker is for.

Speaking of Sarah: Funny.

Back to Gawker: Rachel Maddow, national treasure.

Off to the gym for death squats. Why do I bother? I’m still fat.

Posted at 9:52 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

69 responses to “A personal friend.”

  1. coozledad said on July 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Reading Sarah’s catechesis is eerily like standing in a crowd of Red Guards while one of them reads from the Little Red Book. You wonder where she’s thinking of shipping all the running dogs.

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  2. brian stouder said on July 21, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Why do I bother? I’m still fat.
    If a Lileks Approved little Irish leprechaun suddenly appeared, and with a twinkle in his eye and an approrpiate lilt in his voice granted me just one wish, it would be to remove the deep-seated “I’m fat” belief that beautiful women – such as my wife, and the Proprietress of this place (who my lovely wife refers to – with a mischievous twinkle in her eye! – as my ‘internet wife’), and pretty much every other woman seem to be cursed with.

    Sorta the inverse of the typical man’s self-image, as a cross between Andy Griffith and Vin Diesel (did I spell that right?)

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  3. Colleen said on July 21, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I have a whole family full of Irish people. I’ve never seen anyone twinkle.

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  4. moe99 said on July 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

    The edits of Sarah’s speech were reminiscent of edits applied to some of my first work as a law clerk working in private practice. Sometimes what came out looked nothing like what went in. But I learned a lot from the process and now offer the same ‘learning’ opportunity to the law clerks in our office. I think Ms. Palin is past the time where it would sink in for her.

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  5. Deborah said on July 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

    At the bottom of the body of your post today it said “2 comments”, but when I clicked there are clearly 4? I clicked back and forth a couple of times to see if it would change but it didn’t.

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  6. brian stouder said on July 21, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Do a “refresh”* and see what happens

    *Like Irish Spring (manly Irish voice: “Smells like a man”; delicate but firm female Irish voice: “But I like it, too!”) (see, THIS is what comes of spending years watching too much tv)

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  7. Sue said on July 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

    The Irish in my family got infected by Germans, so maybe that’s why we don’t twinkle. And try calling a few of my 6-foot-3-and-then-some male cousins “impish”.
    I would love to know Frank McCourt’s version of his Mitch encounters.

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  8. beb said on July 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I don’t know why Rachel Maddow continues to have Pat Buchanan onher show. Monday she spent more time correcting the numerous and in many cases obviously intention errors he made during a previous interview. Buchanan has become painfully obvious as a hater, a racist, a cranky old man and a deliberate bullshitter. And that’s his “good” side.

    Meanwhile a skimming of my daily politcal blogs has left my eyeing the sharp knives…. Goldman Sachs is a criminal enterprise in the most common meaning of the work. The executives should be joining Madoff in prison instead of seeing $6Bn in new bonuses. The war in Afghanistan is turning into Iraq, which was our Viet Nam II, Obama hasn’t stopped either war as promised. The Health Care reform we’ll get will be about as useful as the Medicare Prescription reform that Bush gave us. Our “liberal” government thinks it needs to continue to spy on us and shield criminals from justice because they’re named Dick Cheney…..
    It’s rain nearly every day for the last week and is projected to rain for the next.

    On days like today I think Lewis Black is a blooming optimist.

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  9. ROgirl said on July 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Mitch managed to reduce Frank McCourt to a twinkling leprechaun who wrote a few books.

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  10. Sue said on July 21, 2009 at 11:17 am

    And speaking of leprechauns, does anyone watch ‘The Sports Reporters’ on ESPN? Before I knew Mitch from this blog, I only knew him as a commentator on that show. I’m suspicious that he’s seated deliberately at the end so the camera can show that his feet don’t touch the floor. Well, maybe they do but you know he’s stretching.

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  11. mark said on July 21, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Yes, beb, there are many interesting and troubling things going on currently. While I doubt we agree on much, your post covers a few issues where I at least share your concern.

    But it is much easier to continue to ridicule Palin, Buchanan and other easier targets than to address those issues. Sarah’s stupid so all liberal is good, conservative bad.

    I wonder how the journalists here would view it if Albom was used not as a surrogate for all things conservative, but all things journalistic? “That Mitch, he typifies the self-absorption that is destroying journalism. When will journalists learn?”

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  12. Catherine said on July 21, 2009 at 11:55 am

    God bless Vanity Fair. That’s exactly what I wanted to do when I read Sarah Palin’s speech, but then I was afraid it would hurt my head to try to understand her reasoning.

    I am unreasonably sad about Frank McCourt’s death (not “MJ changed so many lives!” sad, but misty that I’ll never hear him speak). If you haven’t read Teacher Man, I recommend it.

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  13. LAMary said on July 21, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Pat Buchanan has always been a nasty anti semite racist. He’s just being more public about it now.

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  14. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Reverend Wright has always been a nasty anti semite racist. He’s just being less pub­lic about it now.

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  15. paddyo' said on July 21, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Actually, Brian, I think the line uttered by the brogue-ish Irish Spring lass is “Manly yes, but I like it, too” — and yeah, this IS what comes from too many years of watching TV!

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  16. moe99 said on July 21, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Somehow, Danny, the equation does not add up. Reverend Wright has never had a national bully pulpit like Pat Buchanan has. So apples/oranges.

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  17. brian stouder said on July 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Mary, agreed. Danny, agreed.

    And, President Obama specifically rejected Wright’s wrong-headedness; just as some elected Republicans rejected this meme that Sotamayor is a ‘racist’ – that Pat was retailing.

    So, if the object is to say that Rs and Ds both have unsavory elements – then we’re there; but if one wants to equate the state-of-play within the (currently governing) 2009 Democratic Party, with the state-of-disarray within the (currently incoherent) 2009 Republican Party – no sale.

    When the GOP was out of power in the late /70’s, and again in the early 90’s, they offered hope, optimism, and positive change….which somehow sounds familiar, just now

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  18. Bob said on July 21, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    “Because they are Lib­er­tar­i­ans, and they are Free.”

    make that: Because they are Libertarians, and they read Robert Heinlein when but lads.

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  19. Catherine said on July 21, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    OK, not trying to start an argument, but some comparisons on the Mars thing:

    Estimated cost of Iraq war from inception in March 2003 to the end of 2009: $694 billion

    Lowest-cost manned Mars mission (paid out over 10 years): $55 billion

    Estimated cost to date of Mars Science Lander (an unmanned rover): $2.3 billion

    Some manned-mission proponents definitely have that damn-the-torpedoes irritating swagger; however, NASA budgets are much smaller slice of the federal pie than most people think.

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  20. mark said on July 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    But Catherine, you would have us discuss an idea with reference to it’s merits, rather than what we think of some of the people who promote the idea.

    That’s kind of laborious and doesn’t provide much opportunity to feel smug or superior.

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  21. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Moe, one thing to thing consider with respect to Wright: President Obama, who I think we all agree is a very smart fellow, sat under his preaching for 20 years and gave thousands of dollars (20 or 30k?) to the church … yet had no inkling as to what this guy was all about?!


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  22. Sue said on July 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Mark, cheap shot. You are better than that; I’ve read much better than this from you. Contribute, please, or go troll elsewhere. If you think the main body of commentors here are just looking to feel smug or superior in our comments about conservatives, let me say that when someone like Fox News Strategic Analyst Ralph Peters gets air time to apparently suggest the death of an American soldier at the hands of the Taliban, ‘smug’ and ‘superior’ are not my immediate reactions.
    These are the people who are speaking for conservatives at this time, and they are behaving in a way that invites responses from shocked laughter to appalled fury. They do not do the conservative movement proud and no one is stopping them.
    And I mean it: you are better than that.

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  23. brian stouder said on July 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Here’s a story, about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, that made me wince, and then wince again


    an excerpt:

    Cambridge police say they responded to the well-maintained two-story home near campus after a woman reported seeing “two black males with backpacks on the porch,” with one “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”
    The woman, Lucia Whalen, is the circulation and fundraising manager at Harvard Magazine, a news and alumni magazine affiliated with the school. The magazine’s offices are down the street from Gates’ home. By the time police arrived, Gates was already inside.


    Gates said he turned over his driver’s license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He said he then followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was handcuffed in front of other officers, Gates said in a statement released by his attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, on a Web site Gates oversees, TheRoot.com. He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.”

    I hate stories like this. It seems clear to me that the police officer lost his or her temper, and then made the arrest. If the professor lost his temper (and became “tumultuous”) – still, HE was HOME! He had every right to become angry…..but here we go

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  24. Rana said on July 21, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Off to the gym for death squats. Why do I bother? I’m still fat.

    So you can kick the shit out of anyone who gives you grief? That’s always a good reason for doing squats. *grin*

    As for Lileks and his doom-and-gloom about the awful, awful Seventies – I was a kid then, and I think that they were pretty darn great. The Eighties, on the other hand…

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  25. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Yeah, the Seventies were great. You know, the fashion and all.

    Actually, I agree, Rana. Growing up in the Seventies rocked. Literally and figuratively.

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  26. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Sue, it’s been over a half-hour since you told Mark that he was better than that. I’m starting to give up hope and think that he really isn’t better than that … but he is pretty funny!

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  27. jcburns said on July 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Nah, he’s exactly that good. As good as Bill O’Reilly is when he disses Cronkite.

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  28. moe99 said on July 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Somehow, Danny, that just still does not make up for Pat Buchanan being beamed into millions of homes, night after night. He’s the modern day equivalent to the fascist right wing priest on the radio prior to WW2.

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  29. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I actually caught a bit of Mr. Bill last night. He didn’t diss Conkrite at all. Both he and Bernie Goldberg, who worked with Walter for about a decade, agreed that Walter was a gem. You can read the talking points here. In the subsequent discussion, they both lauded Conkrite as the professional that he was.

    EDIT: “Beamed,” Moe? He’s on cable, not broadcast. And one can always change the channel. And one definitely doesn’t have to send 20-30k to his “cause.”

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  30. Scout said on July 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Rachel Maddow is a rare political commentator in that she has no apparent detractors. It’s like nobody even wants to try and tangle with that level of smart.

    The Vanity Fair edit of La Palin’s whateverthehellthatmesswas is brilliant. Oh, and the 27 minute Twitter opus – classic! I would love to turn away from the trainwreck that is Palin, but as long as there are people who actually believe she is just folks and thereby qualified to hold national office, she needs to be called out for every single dumbass thing she says or does.

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  31. ROgirl said on July 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    After Pat Buchanan gave a speech at a Republican convention in the 90’s calling for a religious war against the Clinton agenda, Molly Ivins wrote that it sounded better in the original German. That speech pretty much ended his presidential aspirations.

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  32. nancy said on July 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    “Yes, Mario, there is a culture war going on in this country…”

    I remember it well.

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  33. mark said on July 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm


    I googled the Ralph Peters incident to which you are apparently referring. Pretty outrageous. But what’s your point? I’ve never heard of the guy, but I’ll assume he’s considered conservative. Am I supposed to worry that his thinking will be assumed to be my thinking and spend my time saying ‘not true’ or to try ‘stopping him’, whatever that means?

    If I spend my day searching for the most recent bit of insanity from Maxine Waters, Rev. Wright, Al Gore, Keith Olberman, etc., and post about it with dumb conclusions about the state of liberal thinking, what does it accomplish other than the drawing of a false conclusion? There are major, controversial issues being debated these days, most at the behest of our new president. While most here were quite excited about his election, the conversation seems to be the same Cheney, Palin, Limbaugh ridicule.

    I guess I just find it puzzling. The crowd here is brighter and better educated than most places. But, yes, what passes for the discussion of ideas (at least the political ones) seems too often to be just ridiculing people who dare to espouse ideas.

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  34. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Or, like with jc, ridiculing people for something they didn’t do.

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  35. LAMary said on July 21, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Here’s an enlightening political statement from Senator Jim Demint:
    On a Friday conference call with conservative activists dealing with health care reform, in what is sure to become a rallying point for the White House, Sen. Jim DeMint said “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

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  36. Dexter said on July 21, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Attn: MichaelG:
    Tour de France— Lance Armstrong knows he’s past the time when he could accelerate with the fastest riders, but his stand-up sprint to catch Chase 1 in today’s stage was thrilling. Alberto Contador is “The Man” on Team Astana, but it looks like Armstrong isn’t ready to collect water bottles from the team car just yet.
    They’re in the French Alps now, and it appears the in-team rivalry for the maillot jaune is back on.

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  37. Sue said on July 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    So who does speak for you, mark? Where are your ideas formed, where do you research your opinions? If you are not a Fox News guy, what reasoned source do you use for the process that brings you to your conclusions? You demonstrate your higher thinking by grouping the people on this site into exactly the kind of bunch you claim we are feeling superior to. I surely hope you are not feeling … smug right now.
    Fox News specializes in helping its viewers draw false (or incomplete, or premature) conclusions, and their viewership is huge compared to the MSNBCs of cable. Do they speak for all conservatives? I doubt it, but it would be very foolish for anyone to discount their influence. Laugh at it, yes, but not discount it.
    And to answer your probable question: why, the Daily Show, of course. And whatever freakylibblog comes to mind. I try not to disappoint.

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  38. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Well, they gotta give the man respect, Dex. Not only does he have 7 mellow johnnies, he also recently had a collar bone broken in four places and he just had a child with his girlfriend about a month or so ago.

    He has probably trained the least amount this year and after being away from racing for 3 years, that makes a difference. The popular thought is that he will be back next year, perhaps with his own team and that with enough training, he may be back to better racing form.

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  39. brian stouder said on July 21, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Assuming the dope-cops don’t bag him

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  40. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Hmm, yeah, one never knows. But they have gotten better about that. This tour, both Armstrong and Contador are getting tested before breakfast and before dinner each day.

    EDIT: He did say something interesting regarding how the French are more inclined to like the romantic idea of an odds-overcoming second place finisher over that of a great champion. Whatever it is, they seem to have warmed to him.

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  41. LAMary said on July 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I doubt if his girlfriend giving birth was that tough on him.

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  42. mark said on July 21, 2009 at 4:18 pm


    For TV, I’ve almost given up on it since I don’t have access to the BBC currently. Recently I discovered CNBC, which is now my default station until at least 5:00 pm. They are the only news source I have found that didn’t give coverage to the MJ death/funeral silliness and never turns the latest missing 8 year-old blonde girl incident into an edge-of-your seat national story. I have no use for the hype and shouting of Hannity, Beck and Olberman.

    I read lots of things. On the conservative side, Drudge report is pretty timely and gives lots of links I can follow or ignore. I like Mark Steyn at the Corner for his writing on demographics, which I think is an underestimated issue. I get e-mail updates from a dozen or so foreign policy sites that a State Department buddy alerted me to.

    I like Colbert and the Daily show, but only when I stumble on to them. A host of economists, including Krugman and Samuelson. The Wall Street Journal is reliably good and conservative.

    Yes, the talking heads have influence, and if I was running a political campaign I’d pay more attention to them. I know they are doing a good job attacking Obama’s healthcare propoal.

    And no, I’m not feeling smug. Just puzzled. I have a lot of conservative friends and I can honestly say since the election we’ve spent little time discussing Palin or Limbaugh and none at all talking about Edward’s love child or Charlie Rangel’s tax problems. Obama has sucked all the air out of the room, which is impressive. His support is falling, which is inevitable given he’s vigorously pursuing his promised change.

    The main question is have the people become sufficiently skeptical of the ‘urgency of now’ stuff. Despite campaign and inaugural day promises of transparency and all legislation posted on the internet for 5 days before a vote, he’s pushing a third gigantic piece of legislation to be voted on before even those voting can read it. I think that and the spending is wearing thin.

    And the foreign policy side, while getting little press, is pretty fascinating to me. My friends who work in the area are giving Hillary Clinton huge praise for her work as Secretary. One remark I found interesting: “Well, first, she genuinely likes people, which is important and not necessarily true of her immediate predecessors. Second, she either enjoys or doesn’t mind travel. The visits are important and a big change from the last administration. And third, Condi Rice pretty much only wanted to talk about Russia, which she knows, or Iraq. The rest of the world was ready to talk about something else.”

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  43. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Mary, he only has one testicle. The whole experience could have been very draining … so to say.

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  44. nancy said on July 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I thought Lance was sterile following radiation and chemo for testicular cancer, and his children, by all the women in his life, were created from semen he deposited before undergoing treatment.

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  45. Danny said on July 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I think you’re right, but it made for a better joke my way. I wish I did not know that fact. I can never un-know it.

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  46. Sue said on July 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I much prefer mark#42. Thanks for coming back.

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  47. brian stouder said on July 21, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I much pre­fer mark#42.

    Me, too. Mark#33 made my head spin, a little; sorta disorienting –

    I googled the Ralph Peters inci­dent to which you are appar­ently refer­ring. Pretty out­ra­geous. But what’s your point? I’ve never heard of the guy, but I’ll assume he’s con­sid­ered con­ser­v­a­tive. Am I sup­posed to worry that his think­ing will be assumed to be my think­ing and spend my time say­ing ‘not true’ or to try ‘stop­ping him’, what­ever that means?

    What is this reminding me of? What echoes are ringing in my ears?


    It strikes me as similar to an exercise we recently engaged in, wherein some obscure fellow standing near a polling place with a baton was presented to us as indicative of some huge, unreported and unaddressed criminal conspiracy, or something.

    Yeah, that’s it! The Attorney General himself was involved, as evidenced by his lack of action on the matter, yes? And the silence in the media, and/or our very own lack of awareness of that “story” only highlighted their (and our own) complicity, yes?

    Ahh – well, never mind.

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  48. Sue said on July 21, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Actually, I’d like an update on that, Brian. I couldn’t find any more information beyond what we discussed and the fact that the US Commission on Civil Rights wrote that letter makes me want to get to the bottom of it. No, I don’t believe in conspiracies (too easy) but the Obama DoJ has so far disappointed me on some basic stuff.
    Any reliable information out there, anyone?

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  49. caliban said on July 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Who do y’all think the most current friend of Mitch Albom is meeting in heaven? I’d say Patrick McCabe, that wrote Butcher Boy, or Shane McGowan, but neither is dead yet that I’ve heard about.

    Maybe WB Yeats can explain to him how it’s a whole new Rose and Cross World and a glorious Golden Dawn to walk into. Or, Shaw, and yer dreary unbringin’ was preordained by bastard Capitalists that were too obsessed with possessions to see the Utopian Way. Some international futbol star that stepped on a hand and made a dangerous play that molded your sad but somehow meaningful life.

    I used to like Mitch Albom when I knew nothing about him but that he was a sardonic counterpoint to the hysterical (and I really mean the woman part) Mike Lupica slot on The Sports Reporters. But then there was best-sellerdom and the hand-wringing over Barry Bonds, who allegedly betrayed the lifetime committment of these little weenies to beloved sport.

    Nobody’s proved Barry took steroids. (Nobody’s even alleged proof that Manny was trying anything but dealing with erectile dysfunction.) Not only that, but nobody has proved steroids have much effectiveness in any sport but weightlifting and field events. It’s safe to say, no matter what any naysayers say, steroids have absolutely nothing to do with hitting a baseball.


    and please scroll down.

    So is Mitch a facile writer that’s got an ear for manipulating people. Hell, yeah. I suspect the manipulation is what Nancy finds particularly offensive. Frank McCourt told stories in lyrical prose about his life, so I suppose he was a valuable memoirist. People think Proust was a genius (yeah, probably). McCourt was Irish so he did it in about 600 pp. where it took a French guy thousands.

    Mitch Albom isn’t going to meet any of these guys in heaven. He’s going to wake up from a dream of Wynona Ryder carressing his battered wimp frame to find Richard Simmons, RuPaul, Billy Mays, and that guy in the question mark suit giving him a 900 number to call now. Ephemera heaven.

    On the tour, watch Versus. Lance already said he can’t accelerate like the young guys. If he can grind tomorrow and somehow catch up, he’s formidable, but he’s probably going to pull a Tom Watson.

    The Health Care Debate: Suppose you didn’t know anything about it. Like you didn’t know that government costs and funding didn’t really have anything to do with it and it was about the percentage of the GNP being devoured by serious care being rationed 95% in favor of rich people right now. Or, the current US federal deficit resulting from putting the cost of the Iraq invasion on the cuff instead of the federal budget for eight years and being accounted for honestly now. Or the trillion spent on not being able to shoot down anything with missile defense unless you flew a gigantic weather balloon behind the target. Or, how much of the deficit comes from purely and idiotically Lafferesqe ideas about cutting high-end taxes when those taxes were lower under Clinton than when Reagan or HW was President?

    When Bush was President, Republican , and some Democratic, zombie-whores for the Frist Family and a consortium of health care providers that don’t give a shit about anybody but profits, and the family members they can readily pay for, legislated a prohibition against the federal government could negotiate pharmaceutical costs. Who was this intended to benefit? Americans?

    This is all leftover hangover from Lee Atwater and Kommissar Karl Rove. The idea is to make these idiot rednecks think they’re one of us, and it’s so virulently racist it’s a whole lot like Nazism. Ever see The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? What the Republicans want to do isn’t much different. In the movie, it was a guy that thought he had to be a heartless Nazi for his family to survive.

    Health care now? My dad went to work for Kaiser-Permanente sometime in the late 50s. He’d been investigated by the FBI, because he was a favorite student of Dr. Katie Dodd. She was a remarkable woman, and since we lived in her house, she was sort of another grandma to me. She believed in treatin everybody. Made her a pinko. What the hell is wrong with people?

    If you’re a conservative, does that mean you have a biblical objection to taking care of the least of my children? That’s What Jesus Would Do, you idiots.

    My dad was a professor at University of Arkansas. He had a gifted student that was a black woman. He made these people deal with her when the baby was due. Does Chuck Grassley think she should have waited on a federal appointment. My dad didn’t. He carried her into the OR and told everybody to get the hell out of the way.

    This entire health care discussion? Are you assholes kidding. It’s the United States. We take care of our own, even if some scumbag Republicans thing its some sort of political…Waterloo? Really. Look. People that read Nancy Nall are generally fairly intelligent. This debate has degenerated into Republicans saying fuck everyone if we can break the Nigger. I’m sorry if that’s offensive but holy shit, that’s what they said and that’s what they meant.

    They tried the Sherrif Bart. He fnnessed them. He’s a lot goddamn stupider than they are. They say things like Chuck Grassley thinking we could all get covered if we got elected. You all know Chuck Grassley said something spectacularly stupid. Chuck said you get his health care plan if you go to work for the government. No you don’t. As spectacularly obnoxiousas what this asshole said was, it did not come close. All of his staff works for the government. They don’t have his insurance coverage.

    In the grand scheme of how rich and entitled people live in a different world, Nobody living in Appalachia ar living on urban streets does. Republicans think they’re the butt of jokes about liberals. No joke, y’all.

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  50. caliban said on July 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    No shit. Bah dah Bah dah. Everything I think you know is some bullshit.

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  51. Dave K. said on July 21, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you, Caliban. Perhaps your best post ever. Chamber of Commerce has pledged $100 million to defeat HB 3200, and people are dying because they cannot afford proper health care. Like Caliban says, this is no joke! One of the loudest, most persistent arguments against the proposed health care plan is that increased costs will put everyone out of business. Think about it. If everyone is in and no one is out, there will be no competitive disadvantage. You better believe that without a public option for coverage there will be fewer people who can afford coverage, higher costs for those who can, and profits that continue to soar for the insurance industry giants.
    EDIT: That is, Caliban at #49, not #50. Shit must have started kickin’ in about 7:38!?

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  52. caliban said on July 21, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Nancy, you actually find this jerk offensive. Because you actully write better than he does. Well you do write better. So do half these dumbassses that think your a good writer. I think you’re entertaining. And a decent writer. Actually, ok/

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  53. Catherine said on July 21, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Now i have a mental image of Jesus saying, “take care of the least of my children… you idiots.” Paging Jeff tmmo!

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  54. LAMary said on July 21, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I find the idea of senator saying he will “break” the president very sad. It’s ok to hold opposing views or to want to defeat the opposing political party, but to break the president? As much as I had no use for George Bush, I did not wish that for him. I never wished to see him destroyed and I don’t remember any senator wishing that either.

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  55. caliban said on July 21, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Nancy thinks she actually saw Iggy. I saw him and he wasn’t Scott Richard. This is something about SRC and Persecution Smith.

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  56. caliban said on July 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Why don’t people get behind? These assholes pulled this garbage on national TV abut 2 lbs. of ham How is it that there’s anybody dumb enough to buy that sort of shit? The Plumber is that stupid.

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  57. caliban said on July 21, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    LAMary. The deal is are Americans so stupid not to understand there are Rwpublicans they can’t see don;t care about anybody that isn’t better than they are and covered by Big Insurance. These [eople thinkthere is something wrong with the government using its size to negotiate a price for meds. Does somebody find something wrong with that? Republicans seem to think drug companies should just tell us what drugs should cost. Does this make any sense? Tell you what. They used our cash to develop the drugs in the first place. Republican health care says they should tell us what the drugs ought to cost.

    These are absolute facts. And they payed spectacular amounts of money to solidify their position. So are you idiots or do you think for yourselves. And seriously, if there’s a government option or a mediocre private choice, they claim we should all have a choice. If they can’t compete, they should just shut the hell up.

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  58. beb said on July 21, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Wow. Caliban @49 was brilliant, insightful and well organized. Then @50 and on he becomes rude, insulting and crazed. It’s like two different people blogging under the same handle.

    The thing about the guy on Fox News wishing for the death of an American soldier isn’t that he is or isn’t a famous person, but that the hosts of the show listened to him say all this and didn’t remonstrate. They have a national TV show (even if it is only cable). They have a responsibility not to promote crazy, hateful speech.

    The thing about Rev Wright is that as an activist during the Civil Rights war during the 60s he saw a lot of institution injustice in this country. Like that Harvard professor arrested for trying to enter his own house. When he was crying “Goddamn America” it wasn’t because he hated our country but to emphasis how far America has fallend from the goal of “life, liberty and justice for all.” That’s a lot different from Pat Buchanan claiming that white men — and only white men — built this country.

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  59. coozledad said on July 21, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I’ve been trying to figure out which ideas the right promoted during the previous eight years. I suppose it’s a source of endless discomfort for those who believed in the Permanent Majority, if you accept Addington and Cheney’s notion of the immutable power of the executive, which is a skulking perversion of King James (though not the Bible):”A good King will frame all his actions to be according to the law, yet he is not bound thereto but of his own good will.”
    Among other things, the absence of evidence of good will tended to militate against the “pissing on most people’s shoes” policy objectives of the previous White House occupants.

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  60. MichaelG said on July 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Thanks, Dexter. VS comes on with coverage of the Tour here at zero dark thirty in the AM, at some time during the day and then again at 5:00 PM. I’ve been watching the five o’clock version with Roll and Hummer during the week. Roll is great. Hummer has a way to go. On weekends I have been getting up early to watch Liggett and Sherwin who are the best of them all. Great performance today by Armstrong sandbagging the shit out of the field. Contador has to be thinking. Lance is the master of the psych.

    Caliban’s comments were right on the mark.

    As a timely item, I touched the health care world today at Kaiser. Saturday I bumped a chef’s knife off the counter and it fell on my foot. This AM I finally called Kaiser at about 6:00. They gave me an appointment for 10:00. Not with my regular doc but with a Dr. Patel. I didn’t care. I just wanted to see a doc. I sort of had vague expectations about a Dr. Patel. I was a little off. I was called at about 10:05. Dr. Patel turned out to be an extremely attractive young lady, a confident kid of about thirty. Clearly born, raised and educated in this country. She was very professional but with an easy, relaxed, personable and confidence inspiring manner way beyond what one would expect from one of her age. Her lecture about my not coming in on Saturday for stitches was light and well done without patronizing or hectoring me.

    “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday” she said popping fingers at me one by one with a smile on her face “That’s three days. You know you should have come in.” She knew I knew and didn’t rub it in. She did the foot and then the whole thing became a session about my blood pressure which has jumped all of a sudden. She even had a sense of humor and was very gentle in her blood pressure spiel. I was extremely favorable impressed. Did I mention she was a babe?

    Then I went over to the pharmacy across the courtyard where my new blood pressure pills were already waiting for me. No waiting. I had a consultation with the pharmacist. She was a very young Vietnamese woman whose name I forget, also clearly born, raised and educated in this country. She was happy to take a good ten minutes with me to discuss the medication, side effects, alternatives, results, etc. She answered all my questions and provided information in a professional but personable fashion, again with no hint of condescension. Altogether it was an excellent encounter with the health care establishment. I have nothing but the highest praise for the way I was treated today. The whole thing left me twenty co-pay bucks out of pocket. Things can work for those of us lucky enough to have good coverage. There’s no mystery here. Just a good system.

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  61. Catherine said on July 22, 2009 at 12:16 am

    A thoughtful article on health care rationing:

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  62. Dexter said on July 22, 2009 at 1:50 am

    MichaelG: I admit that when lance announced in September that he was going to France in July, I thought it was a bad idea…that he had no chance , and then the broken collarbone threatened his TDF comeback.
    Two days ago he conceded that he would now be working for Alberto Contador, that Albert was clearly the Team Astana leader.
    And then yesterday…Paul, Phil, and me the TV watcher all thought it was over for sure for Armstrong as he dropped way back, even trailing Andy Schleck. Then, it was as if Lance was shot from a cannon, blowing Andy Schleck off the road and rejoining Chase 1 .
    Then came the statement that he could no longer accelerate , he couldn’t win this year, that it was essentially over.
    Now, no one in cycling believes that Lance’s age (37 and a half yrs.) will be what prevents him from winning this year. The proclaimed jovial atmosphere that Team Astana now can enjoy was just a smokescreen. Sandbagging is indeed the same word I was using yesterday as I discussed my viewpoint with friends.
    Today and tomorrow are key: If somehow Alberto cracks just a little, Lance can overtake him. Things shouldn’t change today on this upcoming up-and-down stage, but by Thursday’s end, we’ll know who will win on the Champs-Elysee on Sunday.

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  63. Jenflex said on July 22, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I loved that NYT article as well…it’s the only piece of thoughtful political discussion I’ve been able to have with my aging-and-increasingly-curmudgeonly father.

    His take? If you could extend your soon-to-end life 6 months by raiding your kid’s $54K college fund for the drug, would you do it?

    To me, we have GOT to figure out a way to get over this notion that somewhere there is an endlessly deep pocket. (Mark, DON’T go off on government spending here, ‘kay?)

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  64. MichaelG said on July 22, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Lance is nothing if not entertaining. He does great interviews too. Saturday’s climb is, they say, supposed to be a big deal as well. I’m certainly enjoying the show.

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  65. Jim S said on July 22, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Note also that Mitch writes that Frank “clamored up on stage.” It’s “clambered.”

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  66. brian stouder said on July 22, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Mitch writes that Frank “clam­ored up on stage.” It’s “clam­bered.”

    Unless ol’ Frank had an epileptic fit, or was otherwise in a raucous mood up there, on the stage

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  67. beb said on July 22, 2009 at 10:45 am

    The thing about the arrest of Prof Gates is that the call to the police came from “a neighbor.” What does it say about that neighbor that he didn’t know that the owner of that house was a black guy, or had some idea of what he looked like? What kind of neighbor is that?

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  68. moe99 said on July 22, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Beb, the caller was a woman:

    The woman, Lucia Whalen, is the cir­cu­la­tion and fundrais­ing man­ager at Har­vard Mag­a­zine, a news and alumni mag­a­zine affil­i­ated with the school. The magazine’s offices are down the street from Gates’ home. By the time police arrived, Gates was already inside.


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  69. brian stouder said on July 22, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I have no problem with the neighbor. Regardless whether you know what your neighbor looks like, someone making a forced entry into a home could be domestic violence, or whatever else.

    But once the cops show up, it seems to me, the burden of being extra careful should be upon the police. Making an arrest of an (understandably) agitated home-owner, from his or her own home, for being “tumultuous” strikes me as wrong from the get-go.

    Whether the racial component of this is THE driver might be arguable, but it cannot (and certainly will not) be dismissed.

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