Another week where the news has pretty much defeated any effort to keep up with it, make sense of it, put it in context. I woke up about an hour ago and reached for my iPad to scroll Twitter and see what happened overnight. I learned:
There is potentially another Trump in the world, Qanon lunatics got into the Oval Office for photo ops this week and Infowars is telling the world that John Kerry is connected to an Antarctica energy beam that split a hurricane apart.
We booked the ticket a while back, but it appears the train has arrived in Crazytown. Please check around your immediate area for any small items you may have brought on board before you exit.
So I’m going on vacation. We’re spending a few days in Toronto. It’ll be nice to visit a sane country for a while. I intend to see Lake Ontario, eat some good food, maybe check out the racks at the big Uniqlo store, perhaps buy some skin-care serums at The Ordinary shops there. Beyond that, no plans. I will post some photos, depending on the quality of the wifi at our rental.
Haven’t had a vacation in a year. This will be nice. If they shut down the country in our absence, we will come as far as Windsor and wave at y’all. Or maybe we’ll stay in TO. Such a nice city — it’s “New York as run by the Swiss.” You ever hear that one?
I actually think about that sometimes. How I might behave in a national emergency, that is. The Handmaid’s Tale got me considering borders and the crossing thereof in a martial law-type situation. I can’t run anymore, so I’m glad we have a boat. I’m glad we have a kayak. I’m glad I can swim. I know the narrowest point in the Detroit River. Of course it’s all the sort of paranoid fantasy one considers on a long bike ride, or while turning laps in the pool, but you know, World War II wasn’t that long ago. Europeans had to decide which side they were playing for, and how they might resist if they opted to go that way. One thing I know is, if anything like that were to happen here, it would be a lot stupider, because we’d have Twitter and Fox News.
Before I leave, a few items:
The Michigan State alumni magazine, Spartan, tried to address the Larry Nassar situation in its summer issue. It was overruled from the president’s office. The student newspaper — God bless student newspapers everywhere — got a copy of one of the scratched covers. It’s remarkable. So is this passage:
The original teal-laden version of the summer 2018 MSU alumni magazine, aiming to “build a path to a better future,” was stripped down and changed to Spartan green.
The State News obtained the original special issue of the MSU alumni magazine from someone close to the administration of Interim President John Engler. This version, solely focused on ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse and issues surrounding it, was not distributed to alumni.
Engler scrapped the three potential covers, according the Detroit Free Press, of a woman donning teal lipstick, a single teal ribbon and a wall of 60 teal ribbons all bearing the title “Finding Our Way” from a special issue of the MSU alumni magazine.
A Spartan green background, with a quote from Engler praising the university for having emerged from its “most difficult challenge in its history,” replaced these covers.
Propaganda is everywhere. Always.
A ProPublica essay to consider: Why Manafort and Cohen Thought They’d Get Away With It. Here’s some yup-yup-yup right here:
But how anomalous are Mssrs. Manafort and Cohen? Are there legions of K Street big shots working for foreign despots and parking their riches in Cypriot bank accounts to avoid the IRS? Are many political campaigns walking felonies waiting to be exposed? What about the world of luxury residential building in which Cohen plied his trade with the Trump Organization?
The answer is more disturbing than the questions: We don’t know. We don’t know because the cops aren’t on the beat. Resources have been stripped from white-collar enforcement. The FBI shifted agents to work on international terror in the wake of 9/11. White-collar cases made up about one-tenth of the Justice Department’s cases in recent years, compared with one-fifth in the early 1990s. The IRS’ criminal enforcement capabilities have been decimated by years of budget cuts and attrition. The Federal Election Commission is a toothless organization that is widely flouted.
No wonder Cohen and Manafort were so brazen. They must have felt they had impunity.
Finally, I imagine John McCain will no longer be with us by the time I post again. So farewell to a man who aspired to greatness, achieved it fleetingly, was as flawed as any of us and unleashed Sarah Palin upon us. Requiesicat in pace.
When I see you again, I’ll be using plastic money. (Not a card. Canadian cash is plastic. For reals. Another innovation that, in this country, would first be blocked by the vending-machine industry and then by paranoid lunatics.)