The slough.

Well, I’ll tell you one thing that Patty Hearst book — and the study of history in general — has been good for: It’s convinced me the current era isn’t the darkest in our recent history. In the ’70s, during the Hearst kidnapping era, Kathy Soliah worked with a small group that placed bombs around the Bay area, set to explode during evening hours, when no one would be around. Just, y’know, to make a statement.

I’ve been tipping toward despair with regard to our current situation. It’s temporary, I’m sure, but after reading this regarding the Joe-Mika-POTUS affair, which already seems like it happened two years ago, despair seemed the only option:

According to three sources familiar with the private conversations, what happened was this: After the inauguration, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump turned sharply negative. “This presidency is fake and failed,” Brzezinski said on March 6, for example. Around this time, Scarborough and Brzezinski found out the Enquirer was preparing a story about their affair. While Scarborough and Brzezinski’s relationship had been gossiped about in media circles for some time, it was not yet public, and the tabloid was going to report that they had left their spouses to be together.

In mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting Enquirer owner David Pecker to stop the story. (A spokesperson for Kushner declined to comment.) Scarborough says he refused, and the Enquirer published the story in print on June 5, headlined “Morning Joe Sleazy Cheating Scandal!”

David Pecker was, perhaps not coincidentally, profiled last week in the New Yorker. Talk about depressing:

Throughout the 2016 Presidential race, the Enquirer embraced Trump with sycophantic fervor. The magazine made its first political endorsement ever, of Trump, last spring. Cover headlines promised, “DONALD TRUMP’S REVENGE ON HILLARY & HER PUPPETS” and “TOP SECRET PLAN INSIDE: HOW TRUMP WILL WIN DEBATE!” The publication trashed Trump’s rivals, running a dubious cover story on Ted Cruz that described him as a philanderer and another highly questionable piece that linked Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

It was even tougher on Hillary Clinton, regularly printing such headlines as “ ‘SOCIOPATH’ HILLARY CLINTON’S SECRET PSYCH FILES EXPOSED!” A 2015 piece began, “Failing health and a deadly thirst for power are driving Hillary Clinton to an early grave, The National Enquirer has learned in a bombshell investigation. The desperate and deteriorating 67-year-old won’t make it to the White House—because she’ll be dead in six months.” On election eve, the Enquirer offered a special nine-page investigation under the headline “HILLARY: CORRUPT! RACIST! CRIMINAL!” This blatantly skewed coverage continued after Trump took office. Post-election cover stories included “TRUMP TAKES CHARGE! SUCCESS IN JUST 36 DAYS!” and “PROOF OBAMA WIRETAPPED TRUMP! LIES, LEAKS & ILLEGAL BUGGING.”

Pecker and Trump have been friends for decades—their professional and personal lives have intersected in myriad ways—and Pecker acknowledges that his tabloids’ coverage of Trump has a personal dimension. All Presidents seek to influence the media, but Trump enjoys unusual advantages in this regard. He is also in close contact with Rupert Murdoch, whose empire includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. (While the Times and the Washington Post have produced repeated scoops about Trump and Russia, the Journal, which employs a large investigative staff, has largely been silent on the issue.)

So that’s why we don’t have Middle East peace or a fix for the opioid crisis: The 36-year-old dilettante in charge of both projects is trying to broker an apology to his father-in-law from two cable-TV personalities.

Despair, despair, despair.

Then there was Saturday. I went to Columbus for fewer than 24 hours, to attend a high-school reunion one-off, for our 60th birthdays. I had been chatting cordially with one guy off and on all night when the health-care bill came up. The situation escalated so quickly that I picked up an empty beer bottle between us, pressed the bottom to his chest and gave him a little push, to let him know I found his leaning in almost physically threatening. (I didn’t think a jab-cross-hook combination was called for just yet.) When he finally hissed, “Barack Obama! He’s the biggest racist in the world,” I stood up, announced I had to pee and was not going to listen to any more of this bullshit anyway, and left. I did pee, but I didn’t go back to the party. And I think it’s safe to say that’s the last reunion I’ll be attending, too.

Despair. Oh, woe.

Neil Steinberg appears to be in a similar frame of mind:

The first 4th of July under the Trump presidency. A buffoon king propped up by his court of cringing underlings, flattering toadies, traitors, psychopaths and henchmen. The first of four, or eight, depending on how things go. And we really have no idea how that will unfold. Are we in the lull before the true calamity starts? Is it spring 1914? August 1939? Where all the elements of disaster are in place, waiting for the spark to touch it off. Half the nation is already in lingering shock that we could have elected someone so unfit. Will the other half quickly learn the cost of their folly, when some irreparable harm is done? Will they never learn, and race off toward calamity with an enthusiastic whoop?

Has that harm already happened? Are we on the other side of the mirror now, bouncing down the proverbial slippery slope, watching mileposts of the unimaginable, boundaries of the unacceptable, flash past as we tumble into our new world? Will we look back on Trump with nostalgia as we squirm under the boot of a true tyrant?

But rallies in his final grafs:

With a conscienceless buffoon swinging a pick axe daily, if not hourly, at our institutions, nothing is certain. The battle is going on right now, today, this minute. Anyone who ever wished they could have been there at the nation’s birth, a cobbler in Lexington, a baker in Concord, so he could have heard the call, set down his hammer, his bowl, taken up his flintlock and rose to the defense of our aborning country, has to be a little grateful to be alive at this moment, this 4th, when the country needs every sound head and every stout heart it can muster. Every man and woman who believes in the United States of America at its best, not at its worst. This is the gravest sort of crisis—one self-imposed, by the cowardice of our leaders, the selfishness of our electorate, the loss of faith in ourselves and in each other. People have never needed an America more, and America has never needed her people more.

So, that’s my head on the Fourth. My body? This helped a lot:

Wendy the photobomber. It was a good day to be out. We had dinner later that night at an old-fashioned ’50s drive-in, so she could come along and help us eat the french fries. The place appears to be a hangout for hotrod people, all of whom appeared to be at least 60. One had a convertible Corvair, the car I learned to drive on, a model my mother believes was the victim of a great, great injustice thanks to Ralph Nader. All I know is, it went well in the snow.

So, change of subject? Change of subject. You might as well get your knees replaced, although I’m holding out. The pain’s not that bad. Yet.

Oh, and some data. Gotta love data. American carnage? No, Latin American carnage. U.S. cities are still pretty safe, as any city resident could tell you.

Finally, this is a few days old and you may have seen it, but no one writes better about internet trolling than Lindy West, and she did so over the weekend in the NYT.

Back in two days, then. Don’t despair.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events |

30 responses to “The slough.”

  1. Peggy said on July 5, 2017 at 12:23 am

    That’s a happy-looking dog.

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  2. Peggy said on July 5, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Interesting that Scarborough says the exchange demanding an apology occurred by text. So Joe may have texts that prove blackmail. Awkward.

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  3. MarcG said on July 5, 2017 at 1:51 am

    Nancy, it sounds like you were talking with Denis F. at the party, amIright? Not that there aren’t other suspects that I can think of!

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    • nancy said on July 5, 2017 at 5:14 am

      I did talk to him, but he wasn’t the one I’m referring to. Dennis mainly complained about his hernia.

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  4. ROGirl said on July 5, 2017 at 5:49 am

    I can’t tell if my personal mishegas is mixed in with the shit that’s going down in the world, but it’s all been getting to me and I’m trying really hard not to just give up and wallow in despair. Does it get better?

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  5. coozledad said on July 5, 2017 at 6:50 am

    It’s traumatizing, at first. Then you develop coping strategies until the next one traumatizes you. For all their going on about some kind of chivalry, I’ve noticed you’re more likely to be assaulted by a Republican drone if you’re female, or in my case, short stuff.

    There were a few in 2008, but we mostly caught them asleep. The first ugly encounters I personally experienced were when I was handing out sample ballots with my wife in 2014. We were at Roxboro City hall across from the police dept and Whitfield’s barber Shop. Toward the end of the day, Whitfield came out of Francesca’s coffee shop, where they serve syrupy coffee based confections. He approached me and my wife with a halo of orange goo around his mouth and opened it to reveal a truncated wiggling around a few stumps of brown teeth.

    “Why’eh yoo fruyh? M’whya yaw doah?”

    I would have offered to interpret Piedmontese mill trash dialect for my wife, but being from Florida, she’s already picked up on its obscure tonal variations, sometimes an entire variant couched in the space of one cousinfucking block.
    His threat was only implied, but it was the sticky syrup covered finger he plunged in his mouth before he pointed at my wife and said

    “Yaw neeta go!”

    His mouth looked like a remora someone peeled off a fucking circus peanut.

    We didn’t neet go, and we didn’t.

    The next several encounters implied forthcoming violence. There were about six instances of assault/communicating threats that I personally witnessed. By October of 2016, we’d had so many threats at the office, I followed the advice of a woman who recommended we get cans of wasp spray to keep by the doors. She said she learned in the Navy that it works better than mace or pepper spray.

    I’ve contemplated getting an aluminum T Ball bat, but I don’t know how you travel with one, and I’m not enough of a sad old terrorized piece of flabby pink muck to fret about carrying a gun. It just isn’t worth a person’s time or sanity to dwell on that shit daily. Even when you know they’ve marked you.

    But it is a black cloud that colors everything now. I find it more than a little galling when folks out here bang on with the “No true Republican..” garbage. It’s all of them, baby; they are feeling the power. And if accommodationists think they’re going to be safe in this environment, all I can tell them is their awakening is going to rock their fucking world. But do go on. It’s somehow stimulating to watch history repeating itself with such ferocity.

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  6. David C. said on July 5, 2017 at 6:52 am

    It sounds like a good weekend all around. One of my sister’s religio-nutbag Facebook friends posted his 4th of July message to the world. It was long and rambling, but the bottom line was “we have the guns and as soon as we get the word you libtards are going to be sorry. MAGA.” So I muted my sister. I can tolerate all the prayer requests for people’s hemorrhoids or whatever that came with friending my sister, but threats, No.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 5, 2017 at 7:32 am

    People who can say “No” to Donald Trump:

    Congress — yes, it’s a putative Republican majority in both the House and Senate, but they have to have unanimity to say “Yes” to him, and they don’t seem to have enough of that to agree on what toppings they want on their pizza.

    Supreme Court — likewise, there may be an effective conservative majority, but it’s close, and they don’t just give him what he wants. They’ve got the ability to say “no” on a number of subjects yet, and might just do it.

    The Cabinet secretaries — in fact, while they’re executive branch appointees, some of them appear to have been saying “no” to the President on a number of occasions; even Jeff Sessions has recused himself against the wishes of the Oval Office. A group of them working closely together can say “no” even more effectively.

    West Wing staff — even more “at the pleasure of” employees, but it’s amazing what kind of a career you can build out of just a few months of service in the White House, and they know that. Some stick it out for the so-called prestige, but you can either say “no” directly for a while, or quit, which becomes news itself and a reinforcement, even if temporarily, for “no.”

    The military — not getting overheated here about a coup or anything, just pointing out that the idea a POTUS can pick up the phone and tell Fort Bragg “go do this” is greatly exaggerated. The military has been saying “no” to presidents since Washington; the president needs to have a certain amount of top-level people pushing with him to overcome Pentagon reluctance. Now, when the generals *want* to do something, they can bamboozle a gooney Chief Executive, but that’s a separate problem.

    Senior civil servants — this is usually spun as a negative, but in fact there’s major institutional inertia in the various DC agencies. You don’t spin that ship on a dime, and you need lots of under secretaries and chiefs of staffs working willingly with you to make major policy changes.

    The media — they can and do say “bull” to stuff the President, any President, may try to shovel. They can be abused, mocked, and manipulated, but they can offer quite the collective “no” to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Family — oh, you may roll your eyes, but Melania still has quite a bit of “no” left in here, and has a certain veto she could exercise at her discretion. No, not that: she could simply say she will leave him, knowing that it would be a story and in her favor these days. I think she has opinions of her own right up there with Ivanka, and there’s a line beyond which she might just exercise her walking papers. He can’t leave her penniless while he’s in office . . . it might be the best time to leave him if that’s something she’s considering. Meanwhile, the Jared/Ivanka factor isn’t something I put huge stock in, but it’s something: especially given the role/roles Trump has chosen to give them.

    We, the people — yes, he’s in office, but polling numbers can go yet lower, public opinion can solidify and shout, and there are midterm elections ahead. The voters and citizens have a “no” that comes across in many ways, and will tangibly apply in the near-future.

    The Constitution — Article II, Section 4. You could look it up.

    Be of good cheer, friends and colleagues.

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  8. coozledad said on July 5, 2017 at 7:49 am

    We are ruled by a prion infested slab of rotten fatback:

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  9. coozledad said on July 5, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Pitch for an arty feature length.

    Melvin and Donald
    An out of work hardhat picks up an odd man in a suit with an improperly tied tie in the Nevada desert.
    The man keeps insisting he’s the President of the US, but Melvin doesn’t believe him until ‘Donald” shits himself in Melvin’s truck.
    “Well I’ll be damned.” Says Melvin.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on July 5, 2017 at 8:26 am

    My first car was a Corvair, no convertible but it was mine, all mine. Oh sure you had to drive with a window cracked in the winter time because the heating system fed exhaust fumes through the vents. How could Ralph Nader dislike that?

    We had a fun 4th on our little Orlando lake, decorating the paddle boat for a regatta, having a pie contest, and watching fireworks shot from the middle of the lake. I’ll save the despair for later.

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  11. coozledad said on July 5, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Election? What election?

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  12. Peter said on July 5, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I’ll defend our president!! You guys think that Trump isn’t fit to live with pigs. Well I say he is!!!!

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  13. Icarus said on July 5, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Shredded Meniscus, check. Bone-0n-bone arthritis, both knees, check. After my knee scope in 2010, I was able to train and run one last marathon though but after that, my speed and endurance diminished. It was coupled with not being able to get out to run as often as I used to once Moose & Squirrel arrived.

    I’d do the knee surgery in a minute if it meant I could run again, but currently running is still discouraged post-knee replacement.

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  14. adrianne said on July 5, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Your ugly encounter at the reunion brought to mind this story, about Trumpians having a collective freakout over NPR reading the Declaration of Independence.

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  15. Carolyn said on July 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for reporting back from your reunion, Nancy. You saved me a trip to mine.

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  16. Peter said on July 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Adrianne, as if we needed any more evidence that these Trumpians are beyond crazy. I’m not sure we’re going to be able to put this genie back in the bottle.

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  17. Deborah said on July 5, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Never been to my high school reunion never intend to go, ever. I did go to one of my husband’s, never again.

    I was the victim of a hit and run yesterday. Doesn’t that sound dramatic? I was about to enter the building at the airport (on foot, of course) when a woman with a rolling bag cut me off and I fell ass over tea kettle. She turned around but kept right on heading for the parking area. I was stunned and my back hurt like crazy. Some people helped me up and asked if I was ok etc. I was really shaken and afraid I’d done some damage. My back really hurt for about an hour, it felt better to walk so that’s what I did. And now I can’t sleep on my left side without it hurting. If this keeps up I my have to see someone. But my Drs are in Chicago and I’m in NM.

    Our upstairs neighbors in Santa Fe had a BBQ yesterday and left the yard a mess. Oh well, if it only happens once a year I’m ok with it. Guess who cleaned it up at 7:30am?

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    • nancy said on July 5, 2017 at 11:05 am

      When Jeff Borden and I lived in the same four-flat, we had a July 4 party one year. We were both drunk and exhausted by the time it ended, so we took in the speakers and left the rest for the following day. Not long after daybreak, a HUGE thunderstorm blew through the area. When we looked out after the storm was over, the yard was clean as a whistle.

      God cleaned it up, in other words.

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  18. Connie said on July 5, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Those are my knees in that article complete with synvisc and arthroscopic surgery. The surgery let me sleep without pain. I have an upcoming apptment with a new surgeon, so we will see.

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  19. Sherri said on July 5, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Elon Musk is not some brilliant superhero who is going to save the world. He’s just another tech CEO asshole who is rich and treats everybody around him like shit.

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  20. Sherri said on July 5, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Oops, here’s the link to the story:

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  21. Suzanne said on July 5, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Someone on Twitter over the weekend tweeted something about several signers of the Declaration of Independence being immigrants and, predictably, someone replied “but they were LEGAL immigrants!” Uh, dude. There was no real legal or illegal at that point. When they came, there was no USA, just some British colonies.
    Like my gun-toting, “real American” relative several weeks ago who didn’t believe that Hamilton could have run for president because he wasn’t born here. There was no “here” here to be president of when Alex stepped off the boat.
    So, I am not the least bit surprised about the NPR/Declaration tweet storm.

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  22. Kim said on July 5, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Adrianne@14’s post had this great comment/quote, attributed to Isaac Asimov: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

    I think our access to information and what passes for knowledge (like presidential tweets, for instance)gives this cult of ignorance more legitimacy among the ignorant.

    We just returned from nearly two weeks of being away/offline from the daily churn. I recommend it, if just to recharge for the rest of this horror that is 45.

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  23. Connie said on July 5, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I am reminded that Dorothy and I tried Synvisc around the same time, which led to a very goofy discussion here about whether we could refer to each other as friends when talking to our drs. Since we had never actually met.

    Its bone on bone here and as I consider new knees I have to balance the limits on physical therapy so I have enough for my various things. Next pt will be for bending ankle to replace blade foot on my prosthesis.

    I have one of those simple not a class reunion events in a couple of weeks, as we have not had a reunion in years. No dinner dance here. Instead a private Saturday night at the downtown coffee shop where we used to play pinball after school. My father has eaten breakfast at this place almost daily since he opened his office there in 1960.

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  24. Jolene said on July 5, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Parts of that article on knees sounded very familiar to me too. A couple of years ago, I had an acute attack of pain in one knee. Absolutely excruciating. Since then, I’ve had a few cortisone shots, and I take a couple of hits of ibuprofen most days. But I’m doing better than I thought I might be when I had that severe episode. I could probably do better still by following some of the advice at the end of the article, especially losing weight, but, as we know, easier said than done.

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  25. David C. said on July 5, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    When my mom had bone-on-bone knees, Medicare wouldn’t approve Synvisc. They said it wouldn’t do enough to justify the cost. They said to have them replaced, which she did. Like most people who have it done, she wonders why she waited so long.

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  26. coozledad said on July 5, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    A government that is profoundly antisemitic, and a majority of whose people still believe in the existence of witches:

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  27. nancy said on July 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Bad news from Sacramento, guys. I’m making a new post momentarily.

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  28. LAMary said on July 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    There weren’t many immigration laws until the 1920s, I think. Basically if you weren’t Chinese or a prostitute you could get in. I love hearing about people bragging about their ancestors coming to the US legally.

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