Letting go.

Another weekend so perfect it needed to go in a record book somewhere: Temperatures in the low 70s, cool nights, skies of such clarity it hurt to go outside without sunglasses. Kate took the ACT on Saturday and then hit the road for a no-parents Up North weekend with three friends and I decided not to worry about it. That’s a difficult thing to do, but at some point it has to be done. She’ll screw up; of this I have no doubt. I just have to accept that the screwups are something I don’t have much control over anymore. This was my advice as they left:

“And what do we do if we see a deer in the road?”

“Hit it!”

That’s exactly right, and advice every Michigan driver should know and heed. Never swerve. That’s how tragedies happen. Hit the deer. We have plenty.

(Obviously this is advice for if you see a deer in the road when you’re traveling toward it at high speed. You don’t just randomly speed up and run Bambi down on, say, a country lane. But you knew that.)

Speaking of cars, Alan brought home a monster Friday — a Chevy SS, which looks like a four-door sedan on the outside but has so much horsepower its ass end threatens to break loose on the regular. Gas mileage: 18 combined and say what? Eighteen? Yes. It’s less fuel-efficient than the Yukon he brought home earlier in the week. But so powerful, it’s a rolling Viagra commercial.

This is a perk of being on the auto staff at one of the Detroit dailies, one Alan barely uses. Of course my worry is more about carjacking than that he will fall out of familiarity with the product line, but it’s always fun to cruise up to Harrison Township and get some ice cream with the Underground Garage on the satellite radio. He works very hard. He deserves a little fun.

The car, and the weather, was a welcome distraction from self-torture, i.e., reading some of the response to the Iraq situation. I’m sort of done listening, and this John Cassidy piece on the New Yorker website says it all:

Senator John McCain, whom the President telephoned on Friday, has called on Obama to fire his entire national-security team, claiming, “Could all of this have been avoided? The answer is absolutely yes.”

McCain is right; it could have been avoided. If, in the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush had treated the arguments of Feith, McCain, and other advocates of the Iraq War with the disdain they deserved, we (and the Iraqis) wouldn’t be where we are today.

If, in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Baghdad, and his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, had not decided to disband Saddam’s army, the one institution that somewhat unified the country, the Iraqi state would be stronger. If, in addition, Bremer and Rumsfeld had ordered enough U.S. troops onto the streets to preserve order, then Iraq might (and it’s only a might) have held together peacefully instead of degenerating into sectarianism, anarchy, and violence.

This is a bigger clusterflick than Vietnam, albeit with a lower body count. But what we’re looking at now, in the Middle East and now Africa, is going to have worse fallout, I’d wager.

So that was the weekend, topped by a visit to the market that yielded garlic scapes, fresh spinach and all the dark green leafies we expect at this time of year. And strawberries. And peas. I’m going to salad my butt off this week.

I think the lead to this story might say more about our pathetic world than anything else I can find at the moment:

Farrah Abraham: reality star, singer, pasta sauce creator, sex tape maker and now, erotica author.

I hope that’s my epitaph someday. With the name and a few details changed, of course.

Almost time for “Game of Thrones,” and a new week, to start. Best wishes for a good one for all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

32 responses to “Letting go.”

  1. Kristen said on June 16, 2014 at 5:17 am

    “Letting go” is a fine post title, but I’d have gone with “Clusterfuck and Garlic Scapes” 😉

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  2. coozledad said on June 16, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Well, we still have an opportunity to get a few things right about Iraq, if belatedly.

    When they start digging the five hundred foot deep hole on the mall for the Iraq war memorial, Judith Miller, Tommy Friedman, Andy Sullivan, Jonah Goldberg, Bobo Brooks, any of these accessories to murder, really should be swinging the shovels for the first couple of hundred feet, or until they fucking drop dead, whichever comes first.

    Then they can be buried at the bottom of the hole with the administration they sucked off, like the slaves in the royal tomb of Ur.

    That way, some future Leonard Woolley may find it one day and unearth its contents with dental picks and brushes. He’ll adjust his pith helmet, wipe his forehead and say “By the end of the douchecookie civilization, the shit was so deep that the autocrats and their retainers had no other inclination than to eat it. They ate their own shit. Fucking dumbasses.”

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  3. alex said on June 16, 2014 at 7:33 am

    For all of its chest-thumping, the Chevy SS is one plain Jane. The new Impala is a much better looking car. The exterior of the SS is about as exciting as that of Pontiac’s last GTO, which was a rebadged Holden from GM Australia but makes me think Sunbird every time I see one. Perhaps they intended it this way. You’re at a light sitting next to what you think is a Cavalier and then it smokes you like a ‘Vette.

    Looks like autocorrect fucked your garlic scapes, Nance. I have a Mac too and it always does the same thing to me.

    My scales … dammit scapes … have yet to emerge. Some big critter trampled and flattened a good portion of my garlic. Afraid it may be a light harvest this year.

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  4. beb said on June 16, 2014 at 7:57 am

    With some forest fires the only thing to do is let it burn. The middle-east has reached that state. Of the many failures John Cassidy lists one he fails to mention is that the central government was never a unity government. It was Sunni versus Shitties from day one. An insurgency was inevitable. And the people saying we must go back in are exactly the same people who said we had to invade the last time. They all should be taken to a small island, given one pig, one knife and told ‘don’t expect to be rescued.’

    One the other hand, the weekend truly was wonderful. Saturday we picniced with friends and Sunday we went to the annual car muster at Greenfield Village. So many cars…. And all so do handsomely detailed.

    And now I’m back to work. Drat!

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  5. Jolene said on June 16, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Really, there are some people who just do not deserve to be listened to anymore. Paul Bremer? Doug Feith? Why are these people given airtime and op-ed space? What have they ever been right about?

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  6. susan said on June 16, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Doug Feith?? “The dumbest fucking guy on the planet”? Damn these shithole warmonger treasonous bastards. Why are they still allowed to talk?

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  7. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I have been saying the exact thing for the past couple of weeks. Iraq is worse than Vietnam, I think, because the technologies of destruction have evolved and because the combatants are religious zealots, not peasants rebelling against colonialism. Religious zealots are largely undesirable and the weaponry required to do grievous damage can be carried in a simple suitcase. I still remain amazed that no one has shipped a dirty nuclear device into one of our cities because we’re still only inspecting about 5% of the intermodal containers unloaded at our ports.

    Like Cooz, I long for some kind of justice for the men (and women) who lied us into this treacherous place, patted themselves on the back and left the flaming bag of shit on the front porch of the next president. Yet I see McCain and Graham and Cheney pontificating on the talk shows, calling for more blood, more explosions, more sacrifices by anyone other than them.

    The children of those who advocate for war should be conscripted into the Army and Marines and put on the front lines of the initial assault. When our leaders not only have no skin in the game, but also the possibility of making serious money from our wars, we’re screwed.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 16, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Well, to be fair, McCain & Graham both have served, and McCain has three sons in the military, the two younger of which have been in the recent wars. Of Cheney I offer no defense a’tall.


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  9. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I would love to know what Tom Ricks thinks is the best course currently; in general, I’d think our job should be to bring together Turkey, Iran, and the Saudis and say “we’re buying and we’ll clear away the ash trays, but we’re just hosting the gathering and it’s up to you three to figure out what you think would make for regional peace. More guacamole?”

    I’m more than semi-serious here. It’s what Jimmy Carter did, and it was his best moment as POTUS: host and facilitator. Bring ’em to the Wye Plantation or Camp David, and sit close enough to be courteous but not in the middle of the circle. And any request they make for us to bomb something or someone for them, we smile and say “we’ll take that under advisement.”

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  10. brian stouder said on June 16, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Count me with Jeff tmmo

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  11. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I’ll give you McCain and his kids, Jeff TMMO, but my sense was that Graham was a National Guard guy. I was thinking more along the lines of Mitt Romney’s five big, strapping, military age sons. When he was campaigning for the GOP nomination in 2008, Mr. Moneybags was asked why, if he were such a supporter of the war in Iraq, none of his kids were serving, Mittens replied they “were” serving America by helping him get elected.


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  12. alex said on June 16, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Looks like ol’ Mitt was talking out of his ass again (surprise) when he said 2012 was his last run for the presidency. Despite his derision of HRC, there’s a groundswell of support for her candidacy. As for his, even the crickets aren’t chirping.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 16, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Graham is hard to read, as Cooze has pointed out a few times before. He’s a JAG in the reserves, but he’s served as far as I can tell with some credit to himself. Odd character, but obviously a better politician than Eric Cantor.

    Jeff B., does it help that all his sons served 2.5 year missions for the LDS? No, I didn’t think so. Honestly, I think it’s a fair point, but I’m also nervous about the whole “Starship Troopers” vibe of “if you or your children haven’t served you not only don’t get a vote, you don’t get a voice.” There’s veterans enough who think that, and I know you’re not going that far, but I worry that the meme of “did their kids serve” can support that viewpoint.

    I’ve mentioned here before: I have two friends who flew CAPs over Iraq back pre-2001, and Saddam was regularly shooting at our planes even in the two-stripe no-fly zone days. My assumption early and late was that we went into Iran because a) there was serious concern about missiles getting fired into Israel, and b) the Saudis wanted us to do it for them, and had never gotten over being peeved that we muffed the job after Kuwait. Cynical? Nah. It’s the only explanation that fits the facts, neo-con or neo-corporate criminals. Did we get value for our service? Hard to say, since I suspect the bar tab is all being handled under the table anyhow.

    But it’s bracing to recall how prescient and clear-eyed Joe Flippin’ Biden was about this, and it’s damnable how poorly we prepared for the aftermath of the overture (too few MPs, not enough insertion of protective SF, too many demolition orders given instead, dismantling the Baathist Army without having a schema for what to then mantle afterwards). Saddam Hussein was a loose cannon on the global ship, and I’ll still shed him no tears, but the half-measures of Kuwait were just deferred to the half-measures of Sadr City. I assume the Bush 43 team didn’t either have the Saudi support for dismantling the Churchillian fiction of Iraq, or the oil interests didn’t like the idea of negotiating with the Kurds, who make Texas oil men look like cupcake shop frosting artists.

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  14. Deborah said on June 16, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Merry Bloomsday!

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  15. Dave said on June 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

    JTMMO “. . . cupcake shop frosting artists”. If that isn’t a winner for line of the day, I don’t know what would be.

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  16. brian stouder said on June 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I’m also nervous about the whole “Starship Troopers” vibe of “if you or your children haven’t served you not only don’t get a vote, you don’t get a voice.”

    Agreed – but folks who are practically reflexively FOR bombing/cruise-missile strikes/arms sales at EVERY decision-point definitely wear me out.

    John McCain is an American hero, and really an icon, and a son of a military hero…if this was 1840, he’d already have been president by now.

    Similarly, one assumes Bobby Lee could have had the brass ring, before he lead a horrible rebellion against his country.

    I guess I’m saying that I now reflexively devalue (if not reject outright) any foreign policy proscription coming from John McCain, because it’s just like that Far Side cartoon where the caption says something like “As with most Veterinary students, Billy excelled at equine health” – and the picture looks over the shoulder of the student at the pages of the book, where dozens of ailments are listed – sore hoofs, ear-aches, broken legs, sore backs, swelling, etc – and next to each one is the “treatment”: Shoot!

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Not to change the subject, but here’s one for Nancy’s husband . . . I’m a little annoyed about “Viking funeral” going on the list.


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  18. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I admit that my fervor for an all-volunteer army, which was very strong when my draft number came up 34, though I remained in college and maintained my 2-S deferment, was a terrible mistake. It’s much too easy to go jumping into wars and conflicts when only 2% of the country puts its ass on the line.

    Perhaps military service is no great help or hindrance in political leadership. FDR did a pretty good job. I can’t stand St. Ronald, but I understand he was a transformative figure in American politics whose only combat was in front of a camera. Ike was the supreme Allied commander and he whiffed on a few things (Vietnam, the toppling of the democratically elected leadership of Iran) but his sage words on exiting the White House should be engraved above every government portal. Bush put his time in with the Texas ANG and Powell had combat experience, but the entirety of his administration saw war as a hypothesis. I went back and reread some of the things these geniuses said and they were virtually 100% incorrect, from asshole Cheney’s “we expect to be greeted as liberators” to Wolfowitz’s assertion Iraq would rebuild itself easily with oil money so our adventure would cost no more than $50 billion to Bloody Bill Kristol arguing it was “pop culture” to believe Sunnis, Shias and Kurds loathed each other.

    We cannot keep throwing the same group of men and women into combat over and over and over again as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. I simply don’t know how to stop it. One of the reasons I’m not so excited about Hillary Clinton is that she’s a hawk at heart. Plus, she’ll want to show that just because she has different plumbing, she can be just as tough and ready to fight as any male president.

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  19. MichaelG said on June 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    There’s nothing military we can do about the business in Iraq.

    Boots on the ground? You must be kidding. Anybody recall the months of build up before the last adventure? The ship load after ship load of war material? The huge logistics effort and base in Kuwait? That won’t happen again. By the time we had any meaningful force in place things would be over. Even if we could put people there, where would we put them, what would they do? Flounder around like they did in 2003?

    Air strikes? Sure. In support of what? Who’s going to do the intelligence, select targets and provide the guidance for air strikes and do the evaluations post-strike? Iraqis? Right. I sure trust their target selection. Air strikes must be in support of something, not just for the sake of making noise and big flashes. There are no strategic targets like factories or airfields to destroy. Bombing supply lines or troops are tactical activities and when done in a void accomplish nothing and there is no tactical effort to support. Besides, this kind of strike done only sporadically and in a vacuum is worthless. Even when sustained there is no guarantee of success. We bombed the Ho Chi Minh trail nightly for years and still lost. So. What are we going to bomb and to what end?

    Provide arms and vehicles? We already did that. ISIS says ‘thanks’.

    Provide training? We did that too. And how did that work out?

    As has been pointed out probably the best we can do is contact concerned neighbors like the Saudis, the Turks and Iran and hope they can do something, anything. Kerry has already broached the possibility of talking to Iran. Otherwise we are stuck watching and contemplating our past fuck ups.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on June 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    From Lance Mannion over on the right hand rail:

    “The Duct Tape Theory of the FIRST Iraq War

    Good time to read Days of Fire by Peter Baker, now out in paperback, and be reminded of a number of things about Iraq. I’m thinking of sending a copy to John McCain and everybody else arguing we need to re-invade.

    There was never any real evidence that Iraq had WMDs.

    Even before 9/11—before Bush was elected President—Bush and Cheney were both on the lookout for an excuse to invade Iraq.

    The mission was never accomplished. The invasion was the easy part. It was the occupation that was a disaster.

    We broke the country into pieces. Then for four years we watched helplessly as the pieces got broken into smaller pieces. Then came the Surge.

    During the Surge, the occupation continued to be poorly managed and misguided.

    The Surge just duct taped as many pieces as possible back together while we hoped Iraq would fix itself.

    The hope was Maliki would grow into a true national leader and somehow re-assemble Iraq into a working nation state by himself, saving us the trouble.

    Bush convinced himself that that happened and more or less gave himself permission to stop worrying about it anymore.

    So, say we’re stupid enough to re-invade, and assuming it’s as easy this time as it was last time—a big assumption because ISIS doesn’t present the same sort of target as Saddam’s army or Saddam himself—then what’s the plan?

    More duct tape?”

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  21. Jeff Borden said on June 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Not much to add to your observations, Julie.

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  22. brian stouder said on June 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Let me say I very much identify with today’s headline – “Letting go”.

    It seems so obvious – the fleeting nature of youth (with regard to the youth I’m responsible for!) and yet it has only really be hitting me over the past month.

    Suddenly the platitudes at Commencement don’t sound like platitudes anymore

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  23. Dexter said on June 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Lindsey Graham is answering all questions with “…they have the wherewithal to bring their terror to our homeland…”
    All the while eating yellow cake and pulling mobile terror bombs behind trucks.
    We who followed the war closely all those years never were informed Isis were some super-threat…I spent hours every day following all the moves along the way. I never once heard warnings about Isis, and most people never heard of Isis until a week or so ago.
    Well, folks, Isis is coming to Kalamazoo! Plastic-wrap your windows! Report any suspicious characters around town!

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  24. Bitter Scribe said on June 16, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Whatever the cops in Kalamazoo are paid, it ain’t enough.

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  25. Jolene said on June 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Check this out: http://hertogfoundation.org/advanced-institutes/the-war-in-iraq-a-study-in-decision-making/

    Not only do Wolfowitz and Libby think they have useful things to say about Iraq; they think people should be willing to pay to hear it.

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  26. alex said on June 16, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Off topic. Right now sitting here like a fly on the wall. Listed my rental property next door with a Realtor and the second showing is about to go down if their agent ever gets here. Young family. Wife is a slender young thing in a sundress. Hubby is a shaved-headed guy with a limp wearing some kind of work uniform. Two little girls, grade-schoolers I’m guessing. Older model SUV. There were some folks in a newish silver Lexus casing the place the last few days; was wondering if tonight’s showing would be for them.

    I went to a lot of trouble mowing and window washing earlier and my partner put out some fresh flowers in vases. Red lupine, tickseed, lantana, daisies and a whole lot of other interesting things from the garden.

    In case anyone’s curious, here’s the listing.

    Agent still hasn’t added exterior shots as promised.

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  27. Jolene said on June 16, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    James Fallows noticed the seminar announcement that I linked to above. He has more to say about it:


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  28. Jolene said on June 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Your rental place sounds terrific, alex. Hope you find a good tenant quickly.

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  29. alex said on June 16, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks Jolene. Their agent no-showed and they left after about 45 minutes. I decided to remain a fly on the wall instead of going over and giving a tour and becoming a fly in the ointment. Surprised the agent blew them off, but then there isn’t that much of a commission in rentals, so maybe the guy felt they’d worn out their moneys’ worth of his time.

    Hope the lupine lasts another day and that more viewings get scheduled in the meantime. It looks great but it’s not a very good vase plant as longevity goes.

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  30. Dexter said on June 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I was gonna kid ya about putting a lot of lipstick on that pig but damn, Alex, that place looks fantastic for that price. Keeping fingers crossed you don’t get some crazy fuckers in there that ruin your serenity. I’m sure you’ll get some great renters, though.

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  31. basset said on June 17, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Something of a victory today – booked Mrs. P a trip “up north” on Delta and it only took an hour, between the website, chat line and toll-free number. Family stuff, Jr. and I are staying home.

    Joe, just out of curiosity, what would you charge to fly one person Nashville-Flint tomorrow, come back Monday and fly them Traverse City-Nashville? A lot of empty mileage there, I know, but given the PITA factor of commercial flight maybe someone here could have done it.

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  32. basset said on June 17, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Mrs. B, I should say.

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