The smell test.

Another perfect — mostly, anyway — weekend. The heat abated, a little rain fell down, we went to a party, I hit the gym. The grocery-shopping went off without incident. (It usually does.) And I started, and finished, our taxes. They were easier than ever, and unless I screwed up something completely, we’re getting a small refund. Weak with relief, we immediately celebrated by going out to dinner at Cliff Bell’s. Red meat! Bottle of wine! Two fingers of Knob Creek over ice for my gentleman friend! The director of Kate’s jazz program at the DSO was playing with his band, and they were very fine. Who could ask for more?

I am a child of children of the Depression, however. When a few days go well, I automatically brace for twice that many to go the other way. And when they go the other way, I rarely think things will be better soon. This is what the last decade in the newspaper business taught me: Things can always get worse, and likely will.

Still, a good weekend. How many read Frank Bruni’s Sunday column? No, not the one about his gout, but the tidy little tale of the unnamed college acquaintance who recently came back in his life, reading from a script that sounds more or less exactly like the one you can hear in every tent revival, except everything is flipped around — the guy starts out as a religious prig, and gradually the scales fall from his eyes, and now he performs abortions.

The comments are piling up, and they’re what you’d expect — “deeply moving,” “amazing,” “wonderful,” etc. I didn’t read every one, but I wonder how many had a b.s. meter start wailing at the final anecdote of the column:

He shared a story about one of the loudest abortion foes he ever encountered, a woman who stood year in and year out on a ladder, so that her head would be above other protesters’ as she shouted “murderer” at him and other doctors and “whore” at every woman who walked into the clinic.

One day she was missing. “I thought, ‘I hope she’s O.K.,’ ” he recalled. He walked into an examining room to find her there. She needed an abortion and had come to him because, she explained, he was a familiar face. After the procedure, she assured him she wasn’t like all those other women: loose, unprincipled.

She told him: “I don’t have the money for a baby right now. And my relationship isn’t where it should be.”

“Nothing like life,” he responded, “to teach you a little more.”

A week later, she was back on her ladder.

Excuse the longer-than-normal quote, but I wanted to get it all in. It so happens I’ve heard this before. Over the years I’ve interviewed several abortion providers, and they’ve all — every one — spoken of this phenomenon, of the protester they all know who shows up as a patient one day, claiming her abortion is different, and her abortion is justified. I’m not calling them liars, and I’m not calling Bruni one, either; to be sure, I recall reading a NYT piece on abortion on one of the Roe vs. Wade anniversaries that quoted a couple of women in clinic waiting rooms expressing this very sentiment. I’m opposed to abortion, but this time is different.

I get it. But this particular case just doesn’t pass my personal smell test. She needs an abortion, so she goes to the clinic she stands outside, on a ladder, no less? What did she tell her fellow protesters, all of whom would have recognized her as she walked in or out? She chooses the same doctor she regularly calls a murderer? She tells him a story, trusting that he’ll keep her secret — which he’s obliged to, by law and ethics — and then gets back on her ladder to call him a murderer again? This is one too-perfect anecdote too far. Also, note this saint-in-human-form’s reaction when he sees her missing one day — not thank God that bitch isn’t here today, but I hope she’s OK.

I get suspicious when people in stories like this don’t act like people, but more like characters from Central Casting. That’s all.

I’d be interested in hearing other takes on this one.

Which might as well take us to the bloggage, which is good ‘n’ plentiful today. Sorry to dump another NYT link on you; I know they’re curtailing the monthly allotment of free reads soon, if not already. But this is a good one, a look at the now-closed Wigwam, the legendary high-school gym in Anderson, Ind., the second-largest in the state. It seated 9,000 and once upon a time, every seat was filled. But times are different now, in Indiana and everywhere, and the expense of maintaining such a facility could no longer be justified by the cost-staggered school district.

It’s a good story because it looks at all the reasons this is happening, which is more than most Hoosier journalists do; they tend to lay the blame on the 1997 decision to divide the hoops championship by enrollment, still seen in the state as the end of the magic — “Hoosiers” could never happen again!, etc. The NYT story points out that decision was a long time coming. It’s a sad story, and it’s more complicated, in every way, than you might think.

Yesterday was the 101st anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire; LGM has a briefing. I bring it up because “This American Life” replayed the retraction of the Daisey-monologue show Friday, and I heard Charles Duhigg, NYT reporter, speak the essential truth of Apple and its factory conditions in China. He said something like: We once had harsh working conditions in this country, and we decided to end them, so that no American worker should ever suffer the fate of the girls who leapt from the Triangle windows to escape the fire at their backs. We could export that, our humanity, but we haven’t, and now countries around the world are waiting for their own Triangle tragedies.

Wonkette had the best single snark on Dick Cheney’s heart transplant. It’s funny, but I’ll let you read it yourself. As for me, I wish him a thorough healing, in the best sense of the word. I’ll let you figure it out.

Finally, although I do not wish to bum you out at the beginning of the week, this really must be seen to be believed. Thanks, Zorn, for alerting us to “Obamaville.” (He’s calling this stuff “scaroin.” Fitting.)

A great week to all. Onward to Monday.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Media |

58 responses to “The smell test.”

  1. Jolene said on March 26, 2012 at 1:20 am

    According to James Fallows, who has written extensively about manufacturing in China, American standards have had–or, at least, are having–positive effects on some Chinese enterprises. See, particularly, paragraph 3 (the numbered one, not the third paragraph)here. He argues that, however bad things might be at Foxconn, they are worse in other Chinese firms.

    He mentions the frequency of industrial accidents, especially in mining. Googling “mining accidents in China” turned up an article Indicating that nearly 2500 Chinese miners died in 2010, a number thought to be an underestimate.

    Rebecca Schoenkopf, who wrote the Wonkette piece on Cheney, should get a Pulitzer on the strength of the last line.

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  2. Jolene said on March 26, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Have you thought of writing to Bruni to ask him how confident he is about the integrity of his source? I didn’t think of dishonesty right away, but I see why you might.

    What bothered me about the column was its seeming pointlessness. Perhaps I yearn too much for simple truths, but, interesting as the doctor’s transformation might have been, It didn’t seem to me that Bruni gave us much of a reason to care about it. Where’s the larger point?

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  3. Dexter said on March 26, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Not only did NYT go pay-to-read some time ago, the LA Times just did the same thing. Are all the newspaper sites going dark unless we pony up? One or two “pays” isn’t much, but I skip around the world reading a story here, a story there, and I can’t afford it.
    It’s just like everything else. I quit attending MLB games when the prices got too steep, NHL lower bowl tickets for the Columbus Blue Jackets are $83 to $113… all major league sports events are now out of reach for me. I got an alert from the White Sox about an April Saturday game coming up, and for poor, distant seats, a deal: $37 dollar seats , ten bucks off. Big deal. These are poor seats.
    Grandpa (me) is out of the game. I actually paid $1 for Cubs bleacher seats in 1969…$1.50 for reserved grandstand at Comiskey in 1963. Now the Cubs get something like $65 for a bleacher ticket for choice games. Red Sox seats around the dugout are $200.

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  4. beb said on March 26, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Two things about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, one is how the owners of the company were able to skate on all the liability for the deaths in that fire, actually profited from the fire because they carried so much insurance on the company. Most of the fines they faced were under $100, which in todays money would be under $3000: chickfeed. The other thing is that sweatshops still exist. The Huffington Post has an article on the way Wal-Mart and other companies run their distribution systems – through a confusing maze of sub-contractors and temp agencies supervising other temp agencies which then hire people at or below minimum wage, work them without breaks for long hours, find ways to short the workers’ their pay and so on. While these are illegal in the US unlike in China that they still exist in the US is not a proud thing for us.

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  5. Julie Robinson said on March 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

    If the Obamaville commercial and the Tin Man’s new heart aren’t signs of the Apocalypse, then surely this headline on the editorial page of the liberal* Journal Gazette is: “Obamacare on justices’ docket”. It can be argued that few would recognize the program’s legal title of Affordable Care Act, so effectively have its opponents rewritten the script.

    *Liberal for Fort Wayne, anyway.

    We went to The Hunger Games yesterday and it’s very well done. They didn’t mess with any of the book’s major plot lines and the violence is tamed down. Read the book, though, before you start any discussions. It’s still a richer experience.

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  6. Sue said on March 26, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Sorry to pop this in on such a topic-rich day, but I would love to hear the opinions of all you journalists out there on this. If you live in a state that legally allows recalls, do you think that your journalistic integrity is compromised if you exercise your right as a citizen and sign one? Do you think your company should apologize for you? Do you think your company should look into ‘discipline’ if you as a private citizen sign a petition?

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  7. Dave said on March 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

    All the Gannett newspapers have gone pay-to-read after a handful of stories (10?) I’ve peeked in on the Cincinnati paper for years, having spent a lot of time there, but now I scan the headlines and move on.

    The Columbus Dispatch had a pay-to-read model for a period of time and did away with it. I don’t know why they dropped it.

    The 100th IPFW Omnibus Lecture has been announced and Bryan Stouder is sure to be disappointed.

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  8. Suzanne said on March 26, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I’m confused by that Onmibus Lecture announcement. I thought it was not supposed to be announced until the 27th.

    I don’t know if the abortion story is true or not, but I’ve contended for years that it will be hard to make abortion illegal because deep down, most of the loudest white evangelical opponents want a way out when they discover their darling little evangelical daughter has found herself in the family way.

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  9. Linda said on March 26, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The Obamaville ads don’t surprise me–we got a taste of that in the 2011 referendum on Issue 5, in which pro-issue 5 ads portrayed darkened, shuttered towns where scores of public workers would be laid off and services cut if Issue 5 wasn’t made law (so, it ran as pro-public union worker law, which is as Orwellian as you can get). Didn’t work, though–law got thumped in 82 of 88 counties.

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  10. Jolene said on March 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Julie, the Obama team has decided to embrace the Obamacare term, which I think is a good idea. They certainly can’t make it go away, and this approach gives him a chance to say, “I do care.”

    I can’t figure out, really, how a bunch of smart people could be as bad as the Obama administration has been at explaining both the need for healthcare reform and the mechanisms in the new law. Just one example: Before and during the legislative fight, Obama kept saying, “If you like what you have, you can keep it,” when what he should have been saying is, “Our healthcare system isn’t working. We all knw that many people lack insurance, but even people who have insurance are vulnerable. Premiums are rising, and co-pays are increasing. If you lose your job, you will likely lose your insurance as well. We need a system that will protect everyone, no matter their circumstances.”

    I’ve thought a lot about the modern equivalent of an FDR fireside conversation–some forum that would have allowed him to talk in an extended way to a broad swath of the country–might have been, but haven’t come up with many good ideas. Of course, many people don’t want to listen no matter what the appeal, but we have to hope that, at some point, reason will out.

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  11. Peter said on March 26, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Wow, what a post!

    1. Oh yeah, I’m calling big time bullshit on the Bruni story.

    2. I said it before about Cheney, and I’ll say it again: Nothing that evil ever dies.

    3. This may be on the sick side, but when I read the LGM entry on Triangle, it appears to me that the gentlemen on the left of the second picture looking at the dead employees seems to be one of the owners of the company shown in the first photograph…

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  12. alex said on March 26, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I might have been willing to pay for the NYT but for the fact that it lost one of its best writers, who as you can see by this piece remains at the top of his game. And I never waste my freebies on Bruni or Brooks or Douthat, all of whose work smells like bullshit as far as I’m concerned.

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  13. Bitter Scribe said on March 26, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I have a feeling the voiciferous abortion opponent who gets one herself is a sister of the hippie who spat on the returning Vietnam veteran.

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  14. Scrappy said on March 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    As soon as I read the Bruni column, I thought “here comes the next Jason Blair scandal”. That whole story about the woman on the ladder seeking an abortion and then returning to protesting is utterly contrived. The only way he will get away with it is it turns out his “doctor friend” source misled him.

    I’ve been doing web searches waiting to see when someone was going expose this column as a fraud. It is too bad we lost Andrew Breitbart, because he would be all over debunking Bruni’s flight of fancy.

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  15. Bob (not Greene) said on March 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

    This is Santorum’s newest campaign video. I think it’s sure to get some traction with GOP voters.

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  16. DellaDash said on March 26, 2012 at 10:26 am

    For an extra snort, hover your cursor over the Wonkette picture of Chaney and check out the caption.

    A religious prig turned chest-beating abortionist? Eeew!

    The Obamaville ad is so full of rapid-fire subliminal messages that I almost succumbed to a state of waking REMatonia.

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  17. MichaelG said on March 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Here’s a nice feature for those who like Formula 1. Lots of good info.

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  18. Prospero said on March 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

    How does a 71 year old man with a history of five heart attacks reach the top of a transplant list? Black ops.

    The sorriest-assed thing about Luntz’s masterpiece, Obamacare, is that it encasulates what the detractors really dislike about the ACA in the first five letters. It’s the Kenyan anti-colonial (how is anti-colonial an aspersion? I thought the Adamses, Washington, Jefferson, Hancock were pretty forceful in their anti-colonialism) stealth Muslim narrative, and the idiots that brough “Keep government hands off my Medicare” signs to Teabanger rallies lap it up like Oliver Twist asking “More, sir?” It’s all about apologizing to foreign governments and finding that America is exceptional in the case of health care only to the extent that it is exceptionally bad.

    I got a book for Christmas about the Triangle Fire, Flesh and Blood So Cheap, by Albert Marrin. It’s YA nonfiction that’s beautifully written, and spectacularly illustrated, and sets the fire in the context of immigration and similarly unconscionable social inequalities to those that are growing in the USA right now. America was exceptional in much of the 20th Century when unions and social activists overcame the grotesque socioeconomic disparities produced by the Gilded Age and industrialization, but the history of the Triangle Fire is evocative in the way in which it illustrates the great clawback of the last 20+ years by modern versions of the Robber Barons and their political lackeys.

    Serious question. Does Newt Gingrich ever give the slightest consideration to the meanings of words before he pukes them up? President Obama’s heartfelt and modulated comments on the Trayvon Martin case were “appalling” and “disgraceful”? “Divisive”/ FUBAR Newt, and Wayne LaPierre might agree with you, maybe David Duke, but that’s about the extent of your bombaclot cadre.

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  19. Kirk said on March 26, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Sue @6:
    A lot depends on whether the company has a formal policy on political activism and on what it says. There are legitimate reasons to prohibit petition-signing. I can’t tell you what the policy is in Columbus, but I have long refused to sign petitions to avoid the appearance of compromising journalistic integrity (not that my name would stick out on a petition). Some folks where I work don’t vote in partisan primary elections so as not to show up as having declared allegiance to a party. I do vote in primaries (and have declared myself for both parties over the years).

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  20. LAMary said on March 26, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I went to college with Andy Rosenthal so I “liked” his opinion pieces on Facebook. He regularly posts links to his pieces on Facebook which seems to get me in to the Times free. I can poke around the other sections once I’m in there.

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  21. Connie said on March 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

    The discussions about Cheney being “too old” brings to mind the accusations of death panels. How is this kind of comment different?

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  22. moe99 said on March 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

    From what I understand, transplant patients are reviewed for quality of match and possibility of long term success post-transplant. I know of a 65 year old alcoholic awaiting a liver transplant and I understand he is not at the top of the list.

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  23. Prospero said on March 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I’m thinking Bruni goes on the short list for the Janet Cooke/Mike Barnacle prize for that piece, although I think excoriation of Cooke, particularly by Barnacle, the past master of the bulshit Vietnam vet column for years, was somewhat hysterical and decidedly hypocritical. Did her critics claim there weren’t eight year old heroin addicts to be found in Jimmy’s World, USA?

    Connie @21: Because the US transplant system is a lottery with a list weighted by likely outcomes. Unrecovered alcoholics are at a disadvantage on liver transplant lists, unless they’re somebody like Mickey Mantle. That’s just the way the lists work. May seem cruel but it has been worked out over a few decades by medical ethicists. It’s life in the food chain. There are not enough organs available for transplant to go around, so rationing is necessary.

    Bitter Scribe@13: Nicely done.

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  24. Dexter said on March 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I can guarantee that Cheney will never give a Macnamara-esque mea culpa. None of those fucking neocons ever will. It wasn’t just Cheney who was evil…they are all still evil.
    Mitt Romney keeps saying he is a businessman and Obama is simply a li’l ol’ community leader and therefore Romney deserves the White House…but what kind of people, regarding foreign policy, would Romney surround himself with?
    Was he, is he, in synch and support of a neocon way of thinking?

    Have you heard him rave on about bombing Iran?
    Any honest , clear-thinking person could see that Ronald Reagan was an empty suit, a simpleton, a puppet controlled by people in the Don Regan camp…Regan actually prompted Ronald Reagan as to what to say, how to answer questions, when to shut up and leave the forum…and if Romney gets in, I fear he will be guided by some of these sort of misfits and profiteers.
    Cheney and Halliburton and Blackwater and many other private concerns became filthy rich in Iraq with government contracts.
    I would hope Romney would not allow such thievery, but ..well…we all know for fact that Romney is only obliged to obtain the almighty dollar, and like Bush, he would not be averse to emptying the US treasury to attain private wealth.

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  25. Deborah said on March 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    “Mitt Romney keeps saying he is a businessman and Obama is simply a li’l ol’ community leader and therefore Romney deserves the White House…”

    Dexter, it also seems like a losing proposition for Romney to talk about his experience being important to people choosing him to be president. After all Obama just spent nearly 4 years being president already, as well as Senator before that etc. Do these people even think about that?

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  26. adrianne said on March 26, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    On signing political petitions if you work for a news organization: Gannett papers just chastised a bunch of its Wisconsin employees (doesn’t appear to be newsroom folks, but..) for signing Recall Scott Walker petitions.

    Here’s the story link:

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  27. Jeff Borden said on March 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I depend on the NYT for national and international news that neither Chicago daily offers, but the current crop of columnists (aside from Paul Krugman) are depressing lightweights. Count me among those who think Bruni’s column suffers from “toogoodtobetrueitis,” much like those frequent Thomas Friedman columns in which he gets a ride from a magic taxi driver who talks sense to him.

    The latest crap from Ross Douthat is nearly Santorumesque in its toxicity as our favorite religious pecksniff tries his hand at sportswriting. St. Tim Tebow, of course, has been displaced by a real quarterback, Peyton Manning, and thus has been traded from from Denver to the Jets. Except, see, in Douchehat’s view, he’s actually going from Galilee to the Roman Coliseum. It’s freshly baked smarm on a smug sandwich with a side of faux spirituality. It’s almost magnificent in its badness.

    If Krugman ever leaves, yeeeeeesh.

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  28. Julie Robinson said on March 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Dexter, I don’t think Romney’s suits are anywhere as empty as Reagan’s were. Not that I really want to defend him, but I don’t think he’s half as dumb as Reagan or Georgie II.

    Obama’s team embracing the term Obamacare overestimates the intelligence of the average voter.

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  29. Cara said on March 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    While I’ve never lived in a state offering a recall, and do not have a J.D.,nor am I a journalist, it would seem the petition for a recall vote would become a part of the voting process, and included with the right to vote in those states. If so,is it smart, or legal, to be the employer who demands the right to revoke any part of voting privilege? “Punishment” for being informed and doing one’s civic duty? Sorry, but it is difficult to accept that marketing-based editorial illogic. What else are they wrongheaded about? How does one trust their thinking after reading this one? Gannett lost me with that one.

    The Class Action suit might make good reading, yes?

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  30. Deggjr said on March 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Frank Bruni’s story is possible, I suppose, if the abortion foe demonstrated with other people she knew. She couldn’t stop demonstrating without an explanation and she wouldn’t shout ‘thanks again Doctor’.

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  31. paddyo' said on March 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    FWIW, I heard on the NPR News “Weekend Edition” version of the Cheney story Saturday that while his age was a little high for such a major surgery, his getting on the list wasn’t unusual — that he’d been on it for 20 months. They also mentioned that these things have a lot of other factors that come into play, including blood type, geographic locale, etc. ‘Course, they were reporting on it as breaking news at that moment, so it’s possible that subsequent reports have clarified this.

    Dexter @ #3 raises a point I’ve been pondering a lot lately. I call it “how-do-you-keep-online-news-readers-down-on-the-farm-when-they’ve-been-to-the-big-city.” Until now, the ‘Net has made it possible for anybody to read news from publications large and small, coast-to-coast, around the world. With the slow but inexorable shutting down of extensive free access to more and more sites, what might be the fallout? I’m not arguing here for NOT paying for something, but how many somethings will news consumers be able to pay for, let alone willing?

    Interesting dilemma, anyway. Maybe some form of officially sanctioned, third-party, pay-for-it aggregator might rise at some point to provide for those of us who want to keep reading several major (and minor) papers online daily but can’t afford individual online subscriptions to all of them? Maybe something not unlike various cable-TV provider packages?

    Personally, I think the latter would suck (and I do pay for subscriptions to two dead-tree papers, though I’m rethinking one of them for reasons that don’t apply to this topic) . . . but at the same time, I get the need of newspapers to charge something. Problem is, how do you make online readers go back to life reading only one e-paper? The answer is: You don’t. You can’t.

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  32. Prospero said on March 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    So, Jeff. Not a Ross Douthat fan, eh?

    Yesterdays NYT story about racetrack America and the maltreatment of thorobreds is stunning in the depth of reporting, but as horrendous as conditions described may be, there’s the nagging suspicion that it could turn out in a few days to have been daiseyfied.

    That piece about Gannett’s alleged mortification that employees with no connection to newsroom functions signed the recall petitions is a sniveling, self-serving piece of drivel, that effectively puts the company firmly on the side of Goobernor Walker. Wah, wah, wah. The original story about the judges is also bullshit. That’s why judges can and should recuse themselves in certain case, as Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from the ACA deliberations, since his wife has been paid nearly $400 grand by an organization whose raison d’etre is getting rid of the ACA (which the Thomases conveniently forgot to report on federal financial disclosure forms, for which Long Dong ought to have his fat ass impeached.) Does Gannet allow people to vote that work for the company? To express opinions? This has always been the problem with “liberal media” paranoiacs. The generators of intellectual property may, indeed, lean liberal, but the Owners of the means of publication and the pursestring proprietors are their polar opposites, politically, and that shit don’t fly, unless it hits the fan.Come to think of it, it’s abominable even to have rules against political contributions like the one Olbermann ran afoul of with MSNBC, in the wake of Citizens United. I think people are still people, my friend, and we all know money is sure as hell speech.

    On rationing transplant organs:

    How bullshit like SYG gets made into very bad law all over the country.

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  33. mekefalla said on March 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Deggjr has a good point about why a theoretical protester would have to go back. I thought that Ladderlady would have had to go to that particular clinic because she & her buddies had been so successful at closing every other abortion clinic for miles and miles and miles.

    I don’t think it’s happened to every abortion provider; but I wouldn’t be too surprised if it had either.

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  34. MichaelG said on March 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I’m just wondering how many dollars in political contributions Gannet Corp has made and to which candidates and causes it has contributed.

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  35. MarkH said on March 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    MichaelG – Excellent link to the Autoblog F1 dissection. Answers a lot of questions on the light-speed assent of technology in the sport now.

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  36. Prospero said on March 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Dumbasses still can’t get the simplest thing right about taxpayers and paying for contraceptives. Seriously, this has to be some sort of dittohead brain damage.

    MichaelG: Two guesses.

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  37. Dexter said on March 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    right, paddyo’…I read five newsstand papers a day for a long, long time, always going along with the constant price increases.
    Long before I retired people laughed at me as I always had a section of newspaper in my back pocket…they told me to just read online for free. When I did retire, that’s what I did. The idea was the publishers wanted people to click on, as they used the numbers to sell advertisements, right? That was what they said…nobody ever said readers were stealing content by reading newspapers online! Now it seems they are saying that, and they want your credit card numbers or else…you’re done.
    It’s just reality…cable and internet service goes up every few months, of course, and we pay, we pay without blinking.
    Old people who quit reading publications because the budget is maxed out…ah…fuck ’em! Who needs the old codgers reading their papers anyway?

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  38. nancy said on March 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Looks like the Bruni’s-story-too-good-to-be-true meme is catching on in the right-wing blogworld.

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  39. alex said on March 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    More interesting news re: Obamaville.

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  40. Prospero said on March 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    This certainly puts the two viable Presidential choices in stark contrast. Even the Teabangers so dense light bends around them should be awakening to the fact that a GOP vote is a vote clearly against self-interest. They aren’t going to see those tax cuts in any way but the oldest of Plumbing truisms: Merde flows downhill.

    More than 17 percent of construction trades workers are looking for jobs. (And in some areas of the country, it’s 20 percent, 30 percent or more.) Meanwhile, 68,842 American bridges are deficient. More than 282 million vehicles cross those bridges every day. And many public transit systems have serious problems and are in need of critical upgrades. The Senate passed a comprehensive infrastructuree improvement, with 74 votes. Boehner on board in the House? Fuck no. The Speaker is scared shitless of Teabangers and pisants like Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor. What up, Boner?

    Bruni’s story sounds concocted, indeed. But only a moron would insist that nothing like that has ever happened. Like claiming that Janet Cooke was some ridiculous fabulist and there was never an eight year old kid addicted to junk in the USA.

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  41. brian stouder said on March 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Michael G – that was indeed an interesting F1 link; the first two races of the year seem to indicate that we’re in for a great season, now that McLaren and Ferrari seem to be on pace (or ahead of) the Red Bull cars.

    This past weekend, I finally watched the F1 documentary called “Senna” – which was surprisingly good. In fact, I would say that the movie succeeds in pulling in general viewers – who may or may not have any interest in F1.

    And Dave – you’re right. Omnibus #100 = “meh”. (But – I’ll be there!!)

    And Prospero – I cannot disagree with you about RR/empty suit. But, I would have disagreed 30 years ago!

    And now I must run – school board meeting!!

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  42. David C. said on March 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    The Bruni story is likely an urban legend. They spread like wildfire around hospitals and other medical facilities. I’ve heard dozens of them from my sisters in law (both nurses). When pressed, the source is always the ever popular FOAF (Friend of a Friend).

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  43. MarkH said on March 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Brian, “Senna” is indeed excellent. And that’s what fine movie-making is about: take an esoteric subject and make it engrossing to the masses. As an avid follower of F1 only until recently, I watched Senna from his 1984 debut to the live viewing of his fatal crash at San Marino. He was a real natural.

    And, going further, it will be what I’m sure Ron Howard aspires to as he films the story of the 1976 F1 world championship, focusing on the battle between James “the Shunt” Hunt and Niki Lauda, including Niki’s incredibly quick recovery from a fiery crash:

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  44. Deggjr said on March 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    The Bruni story can never be proven or disproven, at least not until birth certificates are issued at conception. The portion of the story that rings absolutely true? “My abortion is different; I’m not like the others.”

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  45. Prospero said on March 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Next time some shitheel like Little Ricky Sanitarium or RMoney starts ranting about an attack on Iran, I want to hear somebody ask the chickenhawg assays how to do that and pay for the future welfare of the American warriors that were damaged in W and the PNAC’s trumped up illegal invasion of Iraq.. Im interested to know whether or not Paul Ryan has taken this into account in his military spending increase. Well guess what, that asshole MF intends a $11bill cut in the veteran’s affairs budget relative to Obama’s budget proposal:

    How do these people claim to give a shit about the USA with a straight face, or without doing the nose trick? These suckers are the worst sort of bastards one imaginable, and their attitudes towards this country are reprehensible.

    I guess GOPers believe W’s daddy’s gold card approach to paying for invasions and occupations, and fuck the troops. I do not understand how anybody votes for these dickheads.

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  46. brian stouder said on March 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Mark – back in the day I always watched Indy cars, and only came to F1 right after the terrible weekend of Ratzenberger/Senna. F1 cars looked like a funny Euro-version of the “real” race cars (Indy cars); the funny air-intakes and the ceaseless twists and turns of purpose-built F1 circuits, as opposed to Indycar’s mix of big fast ovals like Michigan or Indy, and twisty street circuits like Belle Isle and Long Beach, clearly made the winner of the PPG cup the best driver in the world, blah blah blah….

    But the ascendant Michael Schumacher won me over, and the (later) disintegration of American open wheel left nothing else worth watching (to me). The Senna documentary therefore had a protagonist that I hadn’t ever followed, plus a whole cast of other drivers that were familiar to me (especially good ol’ Rubens Barricello, who could have been killed that same weekend, in his own massive shunt). I especially enjoyed the classic F1 political stew that the documentary highlighted, with the comically crooked (or unfair) French FIA head, who (seemingly) worked to help Alain Prost defeat our hero (Senna). The driver meeting where Senna won the room and defeated the FIA president (over removing a tire barrier and replacing it with cones) was lovely!

    Aside from all that, I finished Diane Ravitch’s marvelous book – The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education – this past weekend, and was greatly affected by it.

    Nancy’s link to the piece about the Anderson Wigwam is directly related to many of the same issues that are addressed in Ms Ravitch’s book, as well as the excellent article Nancy wrote about school “choice” in Michigan.

    I won’t spend another 2000 words yapping about all the stuff that Ravitch’s book taught me, except to say that it turns on the lights, and shows a humble citizen (like me) the important things to stop and consider, when some new reform measure or trendy “solution” comes down the pike (as they always, always, do…and none of them are ever really new).

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  47. Sherri said on March 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I second Brian’s recommendation of Ravitch’s book. The degree to which educational reform across the country is being driven by three big foundations is not well known. The Gates Foundation money is better known, but the Walton money in charter schools is less well known, and I didn’t know about the Broad Foundation until reading her book. Then I began to notice how many school superintendents in large urban districts were graduates of the Broad Superintendents Academy.

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  48. basset said on March 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Can’t bring myself to care about modern F1 – no American cars, no American drivers, no American tracks the last time I looked and I wasn’t looking too hard. That said, the documentary about 60s and 70s F1 safety that’s been running on Velocity is fascinating.

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  49. LJG said on March 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    The documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire is to be on PBS tomorrow night. According to Diane Ravitch’s website, she is to be on Charlie Rose’s program (PBS) March 29. That’s at midnight in FW.

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  50. Candlepick said on March 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Unless there are lots of women on lots of ladders in front of lots of clinics, the doctor just “outed” the patient/protester in telling the story. Jeez, where’s the concern for HIPAA?

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  51. Suzanne said on March 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Regarding the education problems. I had an interesting conversation with a clergy sort this week-end who had spent some time at a mainline church in Downtown Detroit. They lease their old school building to a charter school and his comment was that the money they get from the charter school keeps the church open. Now imagine this was a mosque…

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  52. brian stouder said on March 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Sherri, the ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ of foundations, and their coordinated advocacy was news to me, as was (in particular) the Broad foundation’s training academies for superintendents. They really seem to have an orchestrated, complementary approach to advocacy and funding priorities…and of course no normal citizen-voter gets a vote in what they do, or what they seek. At the end of the day, one can clearly envision a tightly stratified system, wherein the children of “haves” – and a few have-nots with sufficient brains – get all the best opportunities, and everyone else’s children get scraps and leftovers (if that much)

    It was also news to me how in New York City, Mayoral Control simply squashed the elected school board they had; and it was also news to me how much of a dick Arne Duncan (of Chicago) is, and indeed – how unhelpful President Obama himself is, in this ongoing educational struggle. Ravitch illuminates what she calls the “left-right” dynamic of the national NCLB monstrosity, and the national Race to the Top boondoggle – not to mention many state and local “left-right” accommodations, wherein profoundly right-wing ideology dictates public education strategies and approaches, and is fully supported by powerful elements of the left.

    I will surely watch her on Charlie Rose’s show; she is nothing less than a national treasure.

    Aside from that, I get what you’re saying, basset. There’s no reason on earth that at least several Americans aren’t racing in F1. Last time I looked, Mercedes and Renault and indeed Ferrari and their parent Fiat (Chrysler) sell lots of their products right here in America, and might spark interest in their rolling advertisements here, if they groomed and raced a few young American guys (or gals). For that matter, Ford was once HUGELY involved in F1, and they could surely have put an American into one of their cars.

    Anyway, they’re supposed to race in Texas this fall…if King Bernie feels that they’ve thrown enough cash his way!

    edit: Suzanne – exactly!! And not for nothing, let me add that Ms Ravitch is quite supportive of Catholic schools, since they have spent generations running schools in urban settings and taking all students, including special-needs and English Language Learners – precisely the type of students that most charter schools will shun at the get-go, or “counsel out”, or suspend on test-day. And then, those students arrive at the front door of a public school, which of course must take them, and then if their scores are indeed bad it’s just more “proof” of how much of a “failure” public education is. I betcha a Madrassa would have no problem in an urban setting, and taking in all comers, and absolutely inducing shudders of agonized, terrified ecstasy at places like Fox News

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  53. MarkH said on March 27, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Yes, there is, Brian: $$$.

    Who would you pick today anyway? There is no training ground specifically for F1 drivers in the states like there is in Europe. And the biggest reason is the outrageous money it takes to become involved thanks to the estimable Mr. Ecclestone. A few years back, Scott Speed was an exception to the drivers training for IndyCar and NASCAR. He has great talent, but, he was groomed domestically, little or no time on the European circuit and he arrived in F1 woefully behind the curve. And, Ford being “HUGELY” involved was a European operation at its zenith 10+ years ago, first under Stewart (1996-98), then under the Jaguar banner after Jackie and son Paul sold to Ford outright in 1999. There was never a logical reason for Ford to conscript an American driver; no one was qualified let alone capable of winning. Even with capable drivers like Barrichello for Stewart, and Eddie Irvine and Mark Webber for Jaguar, Ford lost interest, the effort fizzled, Jaguar/Ford sold and became today’s Red Bull. Jaguar has a footprint here and by all accounts the effort did not do much for car sales. In the US today, maybe F1 helps Mercedes some (multiple engine contracts) with a sizeable lineup, but Ferrari and Lotus little, what with their lineups now so exotic and out of reach. Fiat’s purchase of Chrysler and its subsequent impact domestically via the Alfa Romeo influence is yet to be seen. Renault has no presence here. And, Brian, you’ve commented enough in the past on the woeful turnout at the Indy F1 races you attended to understand that there’s no F1 passion here like there is in Europe, and now the middle and far east. Maybe that was just the Indy and Tony George bad PR vibes. All this makes it so surprising that Ecclestone was willing to back the effort in Austin given the questionable interest. This is a major undertaking with a first class racing facility on 800 acres. Personally, I hope it works. Unlike you, I got away from F1 about the time Schumacher won his fourth title. After Senna died, I was turned off by his thuggish bumper car tactics early on, the eventual predictability an general politics of the series. I quit getting up early Sunday mornings. That’s changing this year, though.

    Back to drivers: there is hope for an outstanding American in F1. Keep your eye on Alexander Rossi. Fully involved in European racing at 20, he is now one of two backup drivers for the Caterham team this year. He is in the right place with the right stuff.

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  54. Basset said on March 27, 2012 at 2:21 am

    A.J. Foyt, greatest US driver ever, turned down an f1 offer. What if… and I saw Scott Speed running an ARCA stock car on dirt at Du Quoin, Illinois, a year or two after his f1 interlude. Car problems and finished mid pack, if I remember right.

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  55. MarkH said on March 27, 2012 at 3:12 am

    It’s not surprising he would turn it down, basset. I don’t know who made the offer, but I’m sure he was warned by the other Indy drivers who had offers that it was all for show and he would likely get inferior equipment. Bobby Unser was particularly bitter about BRM sticking him with an underpowered backup car in ’67, I think. There is no arguing with Foyt’s success. Only F1 is missing from his CV, which means only Mario comes close with the ’78 F1 title canceling out his lack of multiple Indy 500 wins.

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  56. basset said on March 27, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Agree with all of that… as I remember it was some kind of part-time deal for a few races & he had too much going on here to bother with it. And Mario is indeed a close second but, as you know, he’s not a native-born American.

    or maybe he is and it’s all a conspiracy, part of the United Nations plot to make us a one-car world.

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  57. brian stouder said on March 27, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Mario was born in Montana……!

    (or Motovun)

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  58. basset said on March 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

    ah yes, home of the dental floss tycoon.

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