Sunday afternoon. Time for clouds in my coffee, fat Sunday papers, mimosas. What am I doing? Staring at a screen. Not for the first time this year, I’m struck by a thought, Girl, you have GOT to get your shit together.
From the outside, my shit is mostly together, but it never feels that way. I put my tax documents in one place, I do my laundry, unfailingly, every weekend. My house is rarely surgical-theater clean but equally rarely a disaster area. And yet I never feel organized. I never can sit down without thinking that I should be doing something else. One deadline is met, another one looms in the great steeplechase of life and I feel like Velvet Brown, hanging on to the Piebald’s mane for dear life. All is chaos, where is the theory? And so on.
But as the kids say: Consider the alternative.
Argh. Oh, for a life of fewer distractions, but it’s not like I’m overwhelmed; my kid has flown the nest (more or less), and I’m no longer scrambling gig to gig. I’m just lazy, with the attention span of a fruit fly. Today, ladies and gentlemen readers, I am falling very short.
(Tomorrow will likely be fine, of course. It’s just one of those I-need-a-break days.) So with that! Cheerful! Greeting to the week! Let’s get to the bloggage, because there’s some good stuff here.
You like photo essays? Have I got a photo essay for you, via the NYT: Cuba on the edge of change. They induce the same uncomfortable feeling, located somewhere around the thrill of voyeurism, that Detroit ruin-porn pictures used to arouse in me. And there are some spectacular images in there.
I have a Cuba picture in my upstairs hallway, and I look at it often. (It’s next to the linen closet, so I have to.) Sometimes, when people ask me what Flint is like, I say, “All of the decay of Detroit, none of the faded grandeur.” Cuba is nothing but faded grandeur. Grandeur was its stock in trade, once upon a time. It has faded magnificently.
Remember what I say, often, about trusting local sources? Some fine reporting from Oregon Public Broadcasting about the elected officials, from Oregon and other states, who aided and abetted the Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover. Will they be indicted? I wouldn’t bet on it.
An interesting column about Bernie Sanders’, um, personality problems:
Here’s my problem with Bernie Sanders. With few exceptions, I agree with his positions on issues. But I don’t like him or his political temperament. He’d be an awful president.
I followed him carefully when I was editor of the Burlington Free Press in Vermont. Sanders was the state’s sole congressman, lived in Burlington, and would periodically visit with the newspaper’s editors and publisher.
Considering that the Free Press’ editorial positions were very liberal, reflecting the nature of a very liberal Vermont community, one might think that meetings with Sanders were cordial, even celebratory.
They weren’t. Sanders was always full of himself: pious, self-righteous and utterly humorless. Burdened by the cross of his socialist crusade, he was a scold whose counter-culture moralizing appealed to the state’s liberal sensibilities as well as its conservatives, who embraced his gun ownership stance, his defense of individual rights, an antipathy toward big corporations and, generally speaking, his stick-it-to-them approach to politics.
I hate to say it, but I’ve met a million of him through the years. And I never trust a person without a sense of humor.
Finally, this piece from New York magazine, about the problems in Kansas and Louisiana, who have followed the GOP policy prescription to the letter and now find themselves circling the drain:
In 2010, the tea-party wave put Sam Brownback into the Sunflower State’s governor’s mansion and Republican majorities in both houses of its legislature. Together, they implemented the conservative movement’s blueprint for Utopia: They passed massive tax breaks for the wealthy and repealed all income taxes on more than 100,000 businesses. They tightened welfare requirements, privatized the delivery of Medicaid, cut $200 million from the education budget, eliminated four state agencies and 2,000 government employees. In 2012, Brownback helped replace the few remaining moderate Republicans in the legislature with conservative true believers. The following January, after signing the largest tax cut in Kansas history, Brownback told the Wall Street Journal, “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.’ ”
As you’ve probably guessed, that model collapsed. Like the budget plans of every Republican presidential candidate, Brownback’s “real live experiment” proceeded from the hypothesis that tax cuts for the wealthy are such a boon to economic growth, they actually end up paying for themselves (so long as you kick the undeserving poor out of their welfare hammocks). The Koch-backed Kansas Policy Institute predicted that Brownback’s 2013 tax plan would generate $323 million in new revenue. During its first full year in operation, the plan produced a $688 million loss. Meanwhile, Kansas’s job growth actually trailed that of its neighboring states. With that nearly $700 million deficit, the state had bought itself a 1.1 percent increase in jobs, just below Missouri’s 1.5 percent and Colorado’s 3.3.
In Louisiana, there’s no longer money for indigent defense.
And with that, I’m going to go make dinner. Have a good week, all. I’ll try to show up where I’m expected.
Brandon said on March 21, 2016 at 12:32 am
The Hawaii Democratic primary is next Saturday. I predict a sizable minority will go for Sanders. But the labor Democrats, the older Democrats, the establishment will generally vote for Clinton. And you might have heard about our congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard quitting the DNC so she could endorse Sanders.
Sherri said on March 21, 2016 at 1:30 am
One thing I feel fairly safe in saying, just from reading this blog: Nancy, you’re not lazy.
Washington Dems caucus on Saturday, and Sanders is expected to do well, though I’ll be surprised if turnout is as high as it was 8 years ago. There’s not been that much attention from the candidates out here. Sanders was out here early on (and had a bad encounter with a Black Lives Matter protester), and he’s out here now, and Clinton is coming out. I’ve seen one Bernie yard sign, one Carson yard sign (now gone), and one Ted Cruz yard sign, which was defaced by someone who added “is the Zodiac Killer” to the sign, which entertained me for a few days until someone took the sign down. I saw a Sanders ad on TV for the first time tonight.
I wasn’t able to find any information about being able to participate if you couldn’t make it to the caucus at 10 am on Saturday, so I’ll be at my neighborhood caucus then, but I doubt if anybody else in my family will come. They’ll vote, but you have to be more into it than they are to caucus.
Dexter said on March 21, 2016 at 1:39 am
I felt the same way this weekend. My wife was away for a week dog-sitting while my daughter and her husband flew way the hell down to the far side of The Bahamas(Long Island, Bahamas). Don’t ask me what airfare was because he flew his doctor-friend’s private jet there. This is also the maddening long weekend when about 52 college basketball games are played and every year I want to see all of them, which is impossible of course. Fending alone, walking dogs every three hours, doing a couple loads of laundry, cooking for myself and the pups, doing the mundane chores such as taking care of the recycling tub and cleaning the catbox , vacuuming the dog hair from the carpet, glimpsing at Facebook now and then, and missing most of the basketball games but checking often enough to sort out which games warrant more attention, I felt overwhelmed and fatigued and sat in the chair and dozed off for a half hour. I think there was a Formula One race on TV but I had no time. Oh yeah…cable stations now give us Premier League Football (soccer) from Great Britain on weekend mornings and damned if I didn’t get sucked into that vortex as well. (Leicester City is having a magical season…running away with the points-lead in a year in which they were predicted dead-last). Well, I had enough peanuts-in-the-shell and bottles of Vernor’s Ginger Ale to get me through the weekend and then next weekend it’s off to see the family in Columbus. Easter cometh.
Brandon said on March 21, 2016 at 4:45 am
David C. said on March 21, 2016 at 6:14 am
We’re doing a lighter version of Kansas and Louisiana here in Wisconsin. It’s going no better. Lots of freeway construction, because the road construction industry are reliable Republican donors. Secondary roads are going to hell in a handbag because that’s the county’s responsibility and the first thing they cut was local revenue sharing. Our school district has a millage increase on the ballot for out primary on April 5 to make up for lost state money. I had someone come to the door canvasing against it. Good god what a nut bag. He was all smiles when he asked how I was voting and turned on a dime when I told him I was voting yes. He started yelling at me that if I wanted the schools to have more money I should just give it to them and how horrible it is that I can vote to make him pay more taxes. I hope he brought his sweetness an light to the whole neighborhood. I’m sure that’s good for a few yes votes.
Suzanne said on March 21, 2016 at 7:21 am
“And yet I never feel organized. I never can sit down without thinking that I should be doing something else.” Yep. Almost every day, when all I really, really want to do is make a big cup of tea, curl up in a chair, and read a good book. I hate to clean so having to do that every week (or less) is something I dread more & more as the yards go by.
Yeah, Indiana is trying to be Kansas or Louisiana and are well on their way. If cheap property & property taxes are what lure businesses to your state, why did Whole Foods just announce they are moving their warehouse from NE Indiana to Chicago? Surely taxes are higher there, right? Heck, Google could move their HQ to, say, Gary, IN for a song, I’m sure, so why don’t they? Could amenities & quality of life have a tiny bit to do with where a business sets up shop? Hard concept, though, for some to get.
alex said on March 21, 2016 at 7:29 am
Mike Pence was going to go full Kansas on Indiana but the legislature stopped him. Even they knew that trickle-down was bullshit and the tax cuts Pence wanted to implement would be disastrous. Instead we have a less disastrous regressive property tax cap in place intended to bleed the public schools to death. This was offered up as a constitutional amendment, the voters fell for it and now good luck getting it undone.
My house, at the moment, is about as close to surgical theater clean as it’s ever gonna be. We have new wiring, floors, counters, lighting and paint, and almost everything has been moved out. Now I’m being very picky about what I let back in. The house makes most of my furniture look so shabby that I just don’t want any of it anymore, and I don’t want any clutter either. And I haven’t done my taxes yet.
Julie Robinson said on March 21, 2016 at 8:11 am
Dr. Robinson prescribes a vacation. Hope that fabulous Iceland trip isn’t too far away.
brian stouder said on March 21, 2016 at 9:38 am
I agree with Dr Robinson.
Age is beginning to assert itself onto my self-awareness, and I think one of the major things that holds that at bay is having the young folks around.
As they grow up and move on, I’m sure this will get less fun
Deborah said on March 21, 2016 at 9:43 am
Moving in Chicago is responsible for a lot of organizing going on in Santa Fe as well. The furniture I had shipped out from our Chicago place to Santa Fe is due next week so we’re getting this apartment ready to accept it. Lots of stuff has been relegated to the garage for a yard sale. I’m putting up a notice in the laundry room in the Chicago building of stuff for sale there, like my Aeron chair, a razor scooter etc because the new place in Chicago is smaller and has less storage. The electricians finished their work in the new Chicago place, rerouting wiring that was in walls we had demolished. Meanwhile construction starts up again on our Abiquiu project early next month. Lots going on. I return to Chicago Wednesday, then back to NM in mid April for a week or so. There will be a lot of going back and forth for the next few months. If I had a full time job to contend with while this was happening I’d be going bonkers. My husband is self employed so he has some control over his schedule, but with his work projects plus teaching his plate is overflowing.
Jeff Borden said on March 21, 2016 at 10:16 am
I’ve never understood how the Republican Party can continue to preach that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will boost the economy and the result will be a tide that lifts all boats. It’s never fking happened since the Reagan Revolution wove that trickle down shit into the party’s DNA. Kansas and Louisiana are just the best known states where one-party GOP rule has resulted in disaster. As noted above, Wisconsin is tacking in the same direction under the Koch Brothers’ wonder boy, Scott Walker, and the poverty level is now higher than it’s been in 30-plus years. It’s all the more surprising up there because Wisconsin was always a progressive state by Midwestern standards, but Walker has excelled at playing one group off the other. A reasonable state is now sharply divided by those who believe in his con and those who reject it.
It’s not much better in Illinois. Our inept Democratic governor was knocked off by a wealthy investment banker with zero experience in politics or governance. Like most of his ilk, he is convinced unions are the real villain and has set a “turnaround” agenda that would target them by allowing local governments to embrace right-to-work laws. Our Democratically controlled House and Senate, of course, are not budging so we are all held hostage. The state hasn’t paid its bills since last summer. The result has been especially disastrous for those agencies working with the poor, the disabled, etc. Many believe the Republican governor is looking for the Chicago Public Schools to go BK, which presumably would allow him to flush all those dirty union teachers out of the classrooms.
It’s only March and I’m already tired of 2016.
Charlotte said on March 21, 2016 at 10:59 am
Maybe it was Mercury retrograde yesterday? I too hit the wall — have a couple of deadlines on deck, was making great progress and then yesterday, brain freeze. Gorgeous here — nearly 70 — tried to get some outside chores done, but then the ankle had had enough and my brain went into the fog. Lifted long enough to draft this thing in the early evening (weird time for me) but mostly a weirdly sludgy day.
And f*ck the GOP madness. Really. There’s no sense in it, it’s just naked greed and meanness.
Heather said on March 21, 2016 at 10:59 am
It’s just me and one cat in a relatively small condo, so why do I feel like I am always on the edge of everything falling apart? I’m not sure why having clutter on the dining room table or needing to vacuum makes me feel so guilty and ashamed. And I’m terrible at deep cleaning–I hate to do it and it also really does a number on my back, all that bending, etc. But I do find I feel better in a clean house, so I’m realizing that for my own mental health I might need to hire a regular cleaner. But then SHE would see what a mess I am . . . and so the shame spiral continues.
MichaelG said on March 21, 2016 at 12:16 pm
It wasn’t all that long ago when we were treated to what ? Three or four soccer matches a year on TV. Now on the weekend there are six or eight shown.
No presidential primary goings on here either. No signs, no TV ads, no appearances, no nothing. There isn’t even anything about local issues that may be on the ballot. It’s like all that primary stuff is going on in some other country. And both senators are democratic so there’s no issue with Judge Garland either.
MichaelG said on March 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm
Should be TV? And six or eight shown each day.
Judybusy said on March 21, 2016 at 1:02 pm
Heather, go ahead and hire that cleaner. I bet they’ve seen far worse, and it’s not like a lecture is included in their fees. Best of luck to you!
Now back to my very busy, very cool job in the Public Defender’s office. Terrible news about LA; will have to read when I have time!
alex said on March 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm
Heather, I had the most wonderful cleaning lady in Chicago and she’s still in business. Never had to be embarrassed about skid marks in the toilet or even sex toys on the night stand. I’ll pass her info along if you like.
Heather said on March 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm
Alex–sure! I don’t want to post my email address here though (nothing against the delightful nn.c community; just noivous about spammers etc). If you are friends with Nancy on FB you can find me and message me there maybe?
St Bitch said on March 21, 2016 at 2:13 pm
Can’t get no satisfaction when bringing any one project or task to some sort of fruition is forever at the expense of endless unfinished others piling up and looming. Oh well.
So our righteous leftist prophet is a humourless scold. That fits. He’s still ours…the anti-tRump. Still, the glaring flaw in his revolutionary persona was his decision to run as a major party candidate (rather than as an Independant) in order to win; all the while castigating big party machinations. Bit of a sellout…tainted purity…but name of the game and a catch22.
I know I celebrated my 40th birthday (by getting drunk) while living in Burlington, Vermont…so that would put me there in March of 1990. If Bernie was still mayor then, he wasn’t really on my radar. What did become inescapable by increasing degrees was that I was dwelling in the midst of a lesbian enclave. Really. The female Rainbow coalition ruled.
There was a joke that became a little tired when I was living (about five years later) under the Cuban regime of Miami, Florida:
“Will the last Gringo to leave Miami please carry the American flag?”
Maybe one of you wags around here could come up with a punchline for:
“Will the last straight woman to leave Burlington please…” (fill in the blank)
Bitter Scribe said on March 21, 2016 at 2:35 pm
Sanders wants to be the presidential nominee of a party that he’s too good to identify with as a senator. That’s all I need to know.
susan said on March 21, 2016 at 2:35 pm
“…kiss everyone good night.”
alex said on March 21, 2016 at 2:36 pm
Heather, I’ll get Jola’s contact information to you one way or another. I’ll need to get it from one of my friends whose place she still cleans after all these years. Her name is Jola, short for Jolanta. J pronounced like Y.
Dave said on March 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm
There’s a newspaper columnist down here in Tampa Bay named Daniel Ruth, who has a two hour radio show once a week on Saturday. He’s a liberal voice in a conservative world and a Pulitzer Prize winner, too, but he recently made much the same point about Bernie Sanders. He said that he had never met Bernie but he had heard stories over the years that he wasn’t really a very nice person, very brusque with his dealings with others.
We’re into taxes, too. We had to wait this long for one document to come through, we usually like to have it all finished by now.
CW said on March 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm
Loved the Cuba photo essay.
On a marginally related topic: Nancy, have you read “Once in a great city: a detroit story” by David Maraniss? Just finished it a couple of days ago, and it’s really a well told history of Detroit in the early ’60s, when everything seemed to be going so well.
For some reason, Detroit’s trajectory fascinates me — maybe it’s the ruin porn thing, as you put it. Maybe it’s because I see something similar in ft. wayne whenever I’m there. You see the hollowing out on the south and east sides, and I think about the ’60s when I was a kid and the Harvester plant and its surrounding companies provided thousands of good paying jobs.
Sherri said on March 21, 2016 at 3:03 pm
This has been out for a bit, but I’m just now getting around to reading it, and it’s good. I’m going to miss Obama.
St Bitch said on March 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm
Kisses to you, susan@21, for that sweet giggle.
brian stouder said on March 21, 2016 at 3:57 pm
cw – indeed.
I grew up two blocks north or McMillan park, on Fort Wayne’s southeast side.
I really do remember seeing guys walking down the street with their lunch pails, to get to whover’s turn it was to drive, that week. Folks worked at Harvester, and at Tokheim meters, and at Essex and at Rea Wire and at Magnavox, and at Fruehauf Trailer (in my memory more women worked at Magnavox or ITT)…and they’d buy cars new, and play bridge once or twice a month, and new additions were sprouting up southward and eastward from Hessen Cassel, and new high schools went up (Harding and Wayne)….and in a stunningly short period of time it mostly all tanked.
adrianne said on March 21, 2016 at 4:15 pm
That column on the Bern was right on. Self-righteous scold sounds about right (btw, Bernie recently stormed out of a TV interview. That seems to be his go-to move when things don’t go his way.). I understand his appeal to many groups, but he’d be a terrible president, I think.
CW said on March 21, 2016 at 4:41 pm
Yup, we weren’t far from one another. Between ’63 and ’70 my family lived in one of those new subdivisions right off Hessen Cassel (The Village Green).
Lots of new families and a mix of white and blue collar. There was a young doctor and his wife and their two kids a few houses down. My dad was a CPA. My best buddy down the street, his father worked for the railroad. All the relatives used to show up on the fourth of July because of the unbeatable view of the McMillen fireworks available from our front yard.
We went to Mass and school at St. Henry’s, which was crammed to the rafters with kids. Man, how long has it been since they turned out the lights there? We moved in search of more space, after mom had child No. 7.
My mom and one sister and one brother are still in the fort — all live over by Foster Park. Hanging in there on the south side of town.
When I’m in town, I sometimes drive through that old neighborhood and think about that time. It didn’t last long.
Oh, look at me. I’m ramblin’ again.
brian stouder said on March 21, 2016 at 5:07 pm
CW, I worked at Maloleys #16 at Hessen Cassel and Paulding, when I was 16 (1977, or thereabouts), and – truly – it was my bias (based on what I saw) that the Catholics had all the money!
From our frontyard (on Drexel Street) you could see the fireworks from McMillan, and tons of people parked all through our neighborhood.
One pattern that took off all through the ’70’s was that white folks moved out (almost always northward) and black people moved in, which accelerated the white-flight. When our white next-door neighbors to the east moved out (guessing about 1972), a marvelous (black) family moved in, and that family is still there.
The dad worked at GM in Defiance, and always drove a new Buick Electra 225. He was the first guy I ever saw who would polish the rubber part of his wheels. And, he is a Vietnam war combat veteran, who once flew his flag upside down for a week, after Bush-44 invaded Iraq.
In fact, that family (now larger, owing to sons and grandsons) bought my mom’s house, when she passed away, and it makes me feel like it’s therefore still “in the family”.
But in any case, when IH crashed down, it really seemed to be the end of the world, for my part of town
MichaelG said on March 21, 2016 at 5:49 pm
A long but fantastic article, Sherri. It gives me new admiration for Obama. I simply can’t imagine any of those Repubs being a fraction as thoughtful.
LAMary said on March 21, 2016 at 7:06 pm
I watch the soccer every weekend. I’m a fan of Tim Howard, the American guy who plays goalie for Everton. He’s moving to the Colorado team at the end of the season. I also like the post game coach interviews. Dutch guys, Spanish guys, Italian, French. The French guy who coached Chelsea for a while was a really nasty jerk so they dumped him and replaced him with a Dutchman. Not many English coaches for the English teams.
Jolene said on March 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm
Re the Obama Doctrine article, The Atlantic also published a set of commentaries by people of various political persuasions. Worth checking out.
Also, the author, Jeff Goldberg, was interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show shortly after publication.
Scout said on March 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm
From where I sit, Nancy, you look pretty damn together to me. We all have those days, one of which you seem to be having. You’re good.
And yeah… MichaelG@31. What you said. I’m kind of depressed about this being Obama’s final year as POTUS. Nobody has the gravitas he does.
Jolene said on March 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author of Hamilton, the hot, hot, hot Broadway musical, will be on Charlie Rose tonight.
As you may have heard, Miranda and part of the Hamilton cast visited the White House last week for a day of workshops with local students and an evening performance. Obama also did a bit of freestyling with Miranda in the Rose Garden, and he gave a nice introduction before the performance.
Jolene said on March 21, 2016 at 7:59 pm
I think Hillary may have the gravitas, but she won’t have the swagger or the style. I’ll miss those just as much.
Bob (not Greene) said on March 21, 2016 at 9:42 pm
LA Mary, that Chelsea manager you speak of, Jose Mourinho, is Portugese, and you’ll be able to enjoy his hilarious dick-tastic postgame interviews next year as the manager of Manchester United when he replaces the Louis Van Gaal, the red-faced Dutchman now in charge there. In the meantime, I will keep enjoying the post-game interviews of Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentinian manager of Tottenham Hotspur, as they try to run down Leicester City (managed by an Italian) for the EPL title. #COYS
LAMary said on March 21, 2016 at 11:28 pm
Noooo… they’re not replacing VanGaal with that putz, are they? I mean, I understand VanGaal being dumped but replacing him with that Chelsea guy? It’s just wrong.
Bob (not Greene) said on March 21, 2016 at 11:44 pm
Sorry, Mary, looks like done deal: http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/19/jose-mourinho-manchester-united-pre-contract
MichaelG said on March 22, 2016 at 12:30 am
I sort of got into watching soccer with all the time I spent in Spain over the last two years. It’s on 24 hours a year there. I guess I’ll watch more of it.
If anyone is interested, Philip Kerr, the Briddish author, has a fairly new mystery series with a main character who is the manager of a fictional soccer team. Veddy good stuff.
Dexter said on March 22, 2016 at 1:34 am
NESN showed my LFC (Liverpool) lads get out to 2-nil and then surrender three goals in a total collapse to Southampton.
Sports talk radio was all a-buzz over the Northern Iowa meltdown Sunday night in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. 41 seconds left, aisles full of spectators cramming the exit lanes, as Northern led by 12. Texas A&M pressed hard and kept intercepting the basketball and scoring at will, machine-like. Soon it was tied and A&M won in overtime. Biggest collapse in basketball history. Wow.
I think it’s great Cuba and USA are attempting to get together. Lots of stuff to iron out. Today on cable TV the Tampa Bay Rays are playing a Cuban team from Havana. I’m watching fersure. I wonder which cars the Cubans will fall in love with when the trade issues melt away. A guy I listen to on sat-radio from New York smokes only great cigars…he said his “guy” has illegal Cuban cigars for $40 each. He said he has bought a few, but opts for his regulars, which he buys 5-for $100. Nice to be a millionaire, eh?
Connie said on March 22, 2016 at 8:37 am
OK you got me. Last night I finally added up all my 2015 medical expenses. Ready to do my taxes.
LAMary said on March 22, 2016 at 9:18 am
Louis Van Gaal actually smiled for about five seconds last week when United beat City. Otherwise he always reminded me of a red faced cartoon character who had those little lines of exasperation coming out of his head. He had two expressions. Lemon sucking and exasperation.