Some people.

When Alan was features editor in Fort Wayne, he had an intern one summer with a shall-we-say-foundational problem. She had no real instinct for a story.

One in particular sticks in my memory. A new freeway bypass was being constructed at the time, and of course it included many overpasses. When those are built, the ‘dozers pile up a lot of earth, leaving holes in the ground that become stormwater retention ponds. You’ve driven past approximately a million of these in your lifetime. In this case, one of the property owners whose land abutted this project had a dream, and worked out a deal with the highway department to make the retention pond near him just a little bit bigger, big enough to be the minimum size required to accommodate that dream: To host sanctioned water-skiing competitions. In that very pond.

I believe he had landed his first event, nothing Cypress Gardens-level, but still: A sanctioned water-skiing competition! In a freeway retention pond, the boats tracing extremely tight triangular patterns, with the traffic screaming by! Now there’s a story.

The intern could not be convinced. “It’s just a guy with a pond in his back yard,” she argued. “So he’s going to run a boat around on it. Big deal.”

I don’t think Alan won that one, and didn’t try to — any story written by any reporter who couldn’t see the humor and absurdity in that situation would be stillborn. But I thought about her when I read the comments on a short aggregation/rewrite I did for Deadline, of a charming story written for the Freep by my ottering friend Bill. He freelances a regular feature called Free Press Flashback, which is pretty self-explanatory. Sunday’s was on the time the city police department rolled out the red carpet for a Hollywood movie production, and the ensuing film, “Detroit 9000,” turned out to be a piece of crap:

A Black congressman from Detroit announces his run for Michigan governor in the ballroom of the Book Cadillac Hotel. After he collects $400,000 for his campaign in money and jewels from Black supporters, a group of masked robbers cleverly steals the loot.

That bold caper is the opening scene in “Detroit 9000,” the low-budget tire squealer that made big headlines in 1973. Hyped as the first locally filmed feature movie, it ended up embarrassing city officials and local celebrities who had fallen hard for Hollywood’s promise to splash the glories of Detroit across the silver screen.

After allowing filmmakers to use police assets from headquarters to horses, Mayor Roman Gribbs blasted the production team as “a garbage organization that produced a garbage movie.”

The police commissioner got a bit part, for which he will win no acting awards. Local celebrities got similar roles and walk-ons. And were rewarded with a film whose marketing line called their city “the murder capital of the world” — “where honkies are the minority race.”

It’s a funny story. Here are a few of the Facebook reactions:

So why bring it up?

Ya I know all about it. Do we really need to re live every one of these moments?? Certainly things are different now?

So.. Michigan is doomed, if all our media sources keep bringing up past filth and horrors. We’ve got to get past these garbage racist viewpoints. It’s too decisive and all it does is make this place slow and miserable.

Sigh. It must be terrible to go through life without a sense of humor. Like not being able to smell. Although I have to say, I’ve known reporters like that. Give them the job of writing about “Detroit 9000,” and they’d spend six paragraphs noting that a $400,000 fundraiser, in 1973, would be the equivalent of $2.6 million today, and that’s totally unrealistic for a single state-level function, plus it would be against the law to accept jewelry in lieu of cash.

I’m reading “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison, because some state senator concerned about Dirty Books is hooked up with some people who want it out of school libraries. It’s a Morrison novel I had not yet read, so I thought I might see what the fuss is about. The problem is a scene depicting the incestuous rape of an 11-year-old. It made me recall my high-school English teacher assigning Maya Angelou’s memoir “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” in which the 8-year-old Maya is also raped. My teacher was a very prim and proper old-school sort, but she did not shrink from the horror of those passages, and we had a very serious classroom discussion about them.

Perhaps this is why I grew up to be a Democrat. I was forced to read dirty books.

“The Bluest Eye” is a masterpiece, step one on Morrison’s path to the Nobel Prize. I pity the idiots who see it solely as obscenity. I wonder what they read for recreation, if they read at all. I guess the Left Behind novels had to sell to someone.

Hope all had a good weekend, with lots of recreational reading.

One of the things I read, not for recreation, was the New York Times’ Haiti project:

(F)or generations after independence, Haitians were forced to pay the descendants of their former slave masters, including the Empress of Brazil; the son-in-law of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I; Germany’s last imperial chancellor; and Gaston de Galliffet, the French general known as the “butcher of the Commune” for crushing an insurrection in Paris in 1871.

The burdens continued well into the 20th century. The wealth Ms. Present’s ancestors coaxed from the ground brought wild profits for a French bank that helped finance the Eiffel Tower, Crédit Industriel et Commercial, and its investors. They controlled Haiti’s treasury from Paris for decades, and the bank eventually became part of one of Europe’s largest financial conglomerates.

…How is it possible, many ask, that Haiti shares an island with the Dominican Republic, with its underground subway system, health care coverage, public schools, teeming resorts and impressive stretches of economic growth?

Corruption is the usual explanation, and not without reason: Haiti’s leaders have historically ransacked the country for their own gain, legislators have spoken openly on the radio about accepting bribes and oligarchs sit atop lucrative monopolies, paying few taxes. Transparency International ranks it among the most corrupt nations in the world.

But another story is rarely taught or acknowledged: The first people in the modern world to free themselves from slavery and create their own nation were forced to pay for their freedom yet again — in cash.

I knew nothing of this history, and I found the whole package fascinating. I checked Twitter for the reaction and found it to be, shall we say, derisive:

OK, fine. Sorry I brought it up. Man, people are so damn touchy.

I guess that’s all. Do yourself a favor and read a dirty book today.

Posted at 5:02 pm in Media, Same ol' same ol' | 8 Comments
 

Friday morning.

The involuntary manslaughter case against James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the Oxford school shooter (this was last fall, in November, and I know it’s hard to keep them straight these days), continues to grind on. Preliminary hearing after preliminary hearing, we get to see the couple, still being held in the county lockup, sit in court and hear details of the case against them.

The latest was Thursday. Here’s what they’re asking:

James and Jennifer Crumbley also don’t want the jury to hear about their alleged affairs, pot smoking or drinking habits, horse hobby or messy house — all of which has been raised by prosecutors. None of that is relevant to their case, argue their lawyers, who filed five blistering motions with the court late Thursday in which they blasted Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald over her handling of the case, accused her of trying to smear their clients and taint the jury pool by disclosing inflammatory information, and sought to derail the prosecution case.

The “also” is because the lede of the story was that their son had written in his journal — found in his backpack after the shooting — that he hoped his act would result in the impeachment of “Sleepy Joe Biden.” The Crumbleys are afraid their family’s unified Let’s-Go-Brandon politics might influence the jury.

But the “messy house” was the detail that pierced me. I’ve probably mentioned it here about a thousand times, that while my house will occasionally get more cluttered than I like, it’s very very rarely so awful that I would be embarrassed to have someone else walk through it. I vacuum and dust on the regular, and the thought of a pizza box sitting on my coffee table for longer than 10 minutes makes me shudder. I can just imagine what their place looked like, to have the prosecutor mention it in court documents. And then they bought their weirdo 15-year-old boy a handgun. GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY.

Anyway, that’s my prejudice.

Sorry for the scant updates this week. I just took a very leisurely stroll with Wendy and tried to let the calm of the morning penetrate me. I didn’t sleep well last night, and skipped the morning swim. I should do that more often — the calm-infusion part, that is. My pandemic funk deepened over the winter, and hasn’t entirely lifted, even though we’re doing more to get away from the rut we dug for ourselves in the last two years. (Not eating out as much, though — restaurant prices just keep climbing here, and the $50-plus-tip I paid for the last two-bar-cheeseburgers-and-two-beers meal suddenly doesn’t seem worth it.)

And our financial positions have taken a hit, but I’ve ridden the stock-market roller coaster long enough that I’m not too worried. We’re still taking another long trip this fall. Most likely to Spain, so tips and advice are welcome. Madrid and Barcelona will be the home bases; the south is tempting, but every day spent moving between cities is a lost day, so.

I’m an empty cup today, I know. Sorry about that. So I fall back on the Midwesterner’s old faithful parting: Gonna be a hot one today. You turnin’ on that AC?

ON EDIT: Some bloggage that won’t make anyone feel better:

A Virginia lawyer is suing Barnes & Noble for selling a book he disapproves of.

The guy who sold the Buffalo shooter his weapon doesn’t feel guilty, no, why would you ask:

Even if Robert Donald were the rare 75-year-old who watches livestreams on Twitch, he would not have known that the video broadcasting at around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday had anything to do with him. The footage was from a camera attached to a person’s head and showed their point of view as they got out of a car, made their way through the parking lot into a Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, and started shooting people with an assault rifle. Donald would not have recognized the Bushmaster XM-15 he sold earlier this year, partly because it had been modified to hold more ammo and a racial slur had been painted on the barrel. “I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Donald told the New York Times, explaining that he did not even remember the person who bought the rifle. “But I feel terrible about it.”

Pennsylvania people: What’s going to happen in the gubernatorial race? Does Mastriano have a chance against Fetterman?

And with that, have a nice weekend. Ha.

Posted at 8:23 am in Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments
 

Mini-break.

This weekend — today, Sunday — is the Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere’s 29th wedding anniversary. While we’re beyond the “Gone Girl” tributes, it’s always nice to mark a milestone appropriately, so we had a 24-hour getaway.

To St. Clair, Michigan, previously known as the place where Nancy and her friend Bill go ottering in high-to-late summer. Just north of Palmer Park there, where we otter, is the St. Clair Inn. It was once a highfalutin vacation spot for swells (Bill spent his first honeymoon night there, once upon a time), then fell on hard times, then went through a lengthy, oft-delayed renovation, and reopened only recently as a swank hotel. We booked a room there for Saturday. River view, of course — what’s the point of going to St. Clair if you can’t watch the freighters go by?

That’s the…I forget which one that was. Wait, lemme zoom in… OK, it’s the Federal Columbia, a bulk carrier, upbound. A salty, which is what they call the ships that leave the Great Lakes for open ocean. We saw at least a dozen, a few of them thousand-footers like the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Federal Columbia is headed for Burns Harbor, in Indiana. Got a ways to go, but I bet it’s closer than I think.

The St. Clair River drains Lake Huron, into Lake St. Clair, then Erie, Ontario and out to sea. It’s blue, and it runs at a clip.

The bar in the Inn is called the Dive, and this sculpture outside pays tribute to the end-of-season tradition from the old days, where the wait staff would go for a swim themselves. My man on the right has about a second to correct his position before he does a bellyflop.

Today, it was a slow drive down the riverfront, through Algonac to the northern coast of Lake St. Clair, then the long way home. A whole trip that felt like a mini-vacation, and we used less than a quarter of a tank.

Of course you can’t get entirely away, and the news intruded. Another goddamn mass shooting, because we gotta have one of those every so often. Otherwise we might not have Freedom.

Bloggage: If you haven’t read this, from the Atlantic, about “how politics poisoned the evangelical church,” it’s worth your time.

Oh, and look — another mass shooting. This one…at a church. Kinda fitting.

Posted at 8:46 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 53 Comments
 

Travel is very broadening, part 2.

Best story from Kate’s Euro tour: The government-owned venues they played had the best food, and some even had chefs who would come in and make the artists a four-course meal before they went on. Also, they did a quickly arranged two-song pop-up at a sunglass boutique in Paris and all came away with a new pair of shades as payment. Also, Jean-Baptiste, their tour manager, knew all the best places to eat and even a secret swimming hole outside of Marseille.

They had a great time. Transformational, even.

So. The U.S. is having a baby-formula shortage. As usual, it’s complicated — a plant closed blah blah and supply-chain issues blah blah, you know the drill. Normally this is the sort of problem I’d pay polite but disinterested attention to. I want babies to be fed, but there are no babies in my current immediate orbit, so I don’t feel the urgency. I certainly don’t want any to be malnourished or die.

But it’s been kind of horrifying, given the other big event surrounding women’s bodies in recent days, to hear how many men are utterly. Clueless. About breastfeeding.

Not all of them. Those whose wives breast-fed generally get it. But a disturbing number of men have taken to social media to say, “Hey, just breast-feed!”

And this was one of the better ones. There were others that were far, far worse.

I breast-fed. It was a rough start, but we worked it out. And I kept it up. Kate weaned herself the week of her first birthday, and that was that. I didn’t realize at the time how rare that was, what a luxury it was, but let me tell you, I had a LOT of support. A long maternity leave, a breast pump, a lactation room at work, flexible hours. That’s almost unheard-of. Just having a job makes it insanely difficult for a working mother, unless you can take your kid to work, and hardly anyone can do that. Plus it requires good nutrition and, mostly, time. Newborns eat more or less constantly, which means you spend half your life sitting in a chair, nursing. Then they get a little older, and you spend a third of your time there. Then they get older still, and new complications ensue. All of which can derail something like breastfeeding.

What every parent should learn from parenthood is that no one has the perfect answer. Whatever works for you may not work for the family next door. And I remember one member of my nursing mothers’ group, who cried because she simply couldn’t make enough milk and her child was medically diagnosed as malnourished. An affluent, educated woman. She was crushed. So if you think “just breast-feed” is the answer, and you don’t support things like long paid parental leave to accommodate, take a long walk in a different direction.

God, this stupid country.

OK, then! On that cheery note, have a great weekend, all.

Posted at 9:55 pm in Current events | 38 Comments
 

Homeward bound.

The Shadow Show tour is over, and Alan is on his way home from Toronto with the girls. (Air Canada has far lower fares to Europe than any domestic airline.) I remember being young, cobbling together multi-connection routes to the places I wanted to go. Living in Fort Wayne, you could save hundreds of dollars flying out of Indianapolis, only 110 miles south, or Chicago, 150 miles west. The drive down at the beginning of vacation was a blip; the drive home might as well have been 500 miles of two-track road.

Crossing international borders keeps getting easier, but even Canada is still complicated. However, they’ll be home later tonight and that will be good.

I’m trying not to mainline Doom, but I read this piece earlier this week and it unhinged me a bit. It’s about Marjorie Dannenfelser, “the woman who killed Roe,” i.e. an anti-abortion pitfall who sees no color but black or white. She is…infuriating:

She soon converted to Catholicism and came to believe that full human rights are conferred upon a zygote at the moment of fertilization, rendering even a rape exception “abominable.” She tried to convince her parents of this and failed, repeatedly. “They really taught me to relentlessly pursue the truth,” she told me, “which is why it was so frustrating.”

Of Trump, the strangest bedfellow:

…Dannenfelser says she “felt ill at the prospect of defending a man who could speak that way.” Her daughters told her they could not support her if she supported him. “Ultimately,” she wrote, “I had to accept my own public argument: Trump’s commitment to the pro-life cause outweighed his offensive remarks. My daughters saw a snapshot in time and were right to be appalled. But I saw the evil that had been wrought in the decades since Roe v. Wade, which had ended the lives of more than 50 million preborn babies.”

Inside the logic of this particular nightmare, the 50 million dead, there could be no question of falling back. Dannenfelser watched the final presidential debate. Trump had, of course, been coached, but he still sounded, usefully, like a child. “If you go with what Hillary is saying,” he said, “you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby … you can rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day.”

Finally! thought Dannenfelser, watching at home. Here was an answer neither avoidant nor squeamish; here was a man describing the improbable violence she wanted to be on every voter’s mind, the Gerber baby, the Nilsson baby, the visual stand-in for every routine eight-week abortion across the nation. “Trump got it right and was never even a part of it,” she tells me. “He wasn’t a part of it. But he has an instinct for how to build something.” Others had focused on “issues surrounding the act itself, paying for it, informed consent about it, parental notification about it. He’s one of the first politicians that was able to talk about what it is. Everyone else was afraid to offend. He wasn’t afraid to offend. He’s not a cautious man.”

Go ahead, nice Christian lady, get in bed with this guy. Enjoy the herpes. Although this story, infuriating as it is, is still very good, and has a great kicker. I recommend it.

Is that it for me tonight? It would seem so. Long day. Tired.

Posted at 8:46 pm in Current events | 25 Comments
 

Hu’s next.

In December 2020, a small group of Stop the Steal lunatics demonstrated outside the Michigan Secretary of State’s home. It was dark, and it was said that some were packing the usual long guns those dipshits favor, but I only saw a couple of videos and didn’t spot any. They were told to stay on public sidewalks, don’t block traffic, and do their thing. Which they did.

I wrote a column about it at the time, which no one liked. I said it was obnoxious, but entirely defensible, as long as it stays non-violent and the shits stay off private property. I think one of the demonstrators here dared to ring her doorbell, but that was it. (He should have been arrested, IMO.)

So don’t cry to me, Clarence Thomas. Tough shit, Brett Kavanaugh. If it’s the downfall of decency and decorum, hmm, too bad. As these guys like to say, over and over and over, the American Revolution wasn’t polite, either.

At least I’m consistent in my outrage. I don’t remember any Republicans hand-wringing today over the Death of Decorum defending Jocelyn Benson in 2020.

So. Not a terrible weekend, for a change. Friday night we shlepped to Pontiac to see the Hu, the Mongolian metal band. I’d put them in the Deadline Detroit newsletter in the events section, just for the novelty. Then I got a note from LAMary telling me her roadie son was going to be in Detroit “with some Mongolian musicians” and figured there couldn’t possibly be more than one. We’d actually talked about going, just to get out of the house for something different, and that settled it. So first Mexican food, then the Hu. We were supposed to be on the list, but we weren’t. “We’ll just take two tickets, then,” I said.

“Sorry, it’s sold out,” the lady at the window said. It was a nightclub, not the hockey arena, but still. Clearly the Hu has more of a fan base than we thought. And we got lucky, because just then the club owner came in, saw us standing around fretting, and waved us in. First stop: The merch table, to say hi to Pete and buy a T-shirt. We found our way upstairs and had an OK view. They put on a good show — very Metal, very loud, very tribal-sounding. They play traditional instruments (although I noticed a guitarist standing in the back, out of the light, and one of the drum kits is the conventional kind), and do a fair amount of Mongolian throat-singing. For once, it didn’t matter that the lyrics weren’t clear, because they were in Mongolian. It reminded me of George Miller, talking about the flame-throwing guitarist in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” He said every army needed a drummer boy, and that guitarist was the bad guys’ drummer boy.

The Hu could be the drummer boys for Genghis Khan. Somewhere in a central Asian grave, he is surely smiling. Of course, the band has a song about him.

I’ve always been interested in Mongolia. When I was riding, I used to get a catalog for a horse-based travel service called Equitour. Most the trips were stuff like fox hunting in Ireland, dressage in the Netherlands, etc. But there were two that I really should have done when I still could — crossing the interior of Iceland on native ponies (there was a note that you should be able to ride 20-plus miles a day and expect mutton at literally every meal), and a trip across the Mongolian steppes, also on native horses, probably with a similar physical and dietary warning. When I had amnio before Kate was born, the geneticist and I chatted about her research work in Mongolia, looking for links between central Asians and native Americans.

I’d have chatted about all this with the Hu, but they don’t speak much English, Pete said. Probably fluent in Russian, though.

OK, then, time to get the show on the road. On my “day off” I’ve already edited several stories and had no fewer than four phone calls with my editor. I’ll leave you with a picture:

Hu’s on first, but in Columbus today, I believe.

Posted at 11:58 am in Current events, Detroit life | 31 Comments
 

Cooling down for the weekend.

Warning: I am only somewhat less incandescent with rage over the SCOTUS thing. However, I also had my second booster this week, which took out most of my stuffing for about 12-24 hours. I’m Team Pfizer, but my local CVS had only Moderna. I’ve read a few things suggesting that cocktailing the two vaccines may give the recipient wider immunity, and I’m all for that. However, while I had zero side effects from Pfizer other than the usual sore arm, this Moderna made me feel like a very old person with aches, pains, ague and zero energy.

As I recall, Kate got Moderna and suffered a bit, too. Maybe it’s in our genes.

Anyway, I now feel pretty immune to everything. But I’m still bothered by the Supreme Court.

I was in high school, a sophomore as I recall, when Roe was decided. I lived in an affluent area, and the standard operating procedure for girls who got pregnant was the one-day trip to New York City. An ACLU lawyer described it to me years later: The gate at the airport for the 7 a.m. flight, full of youngish women, teens and their mothers. They’d arrive in NYC mid-morning, take a cab to the clinic of their choice and all be back at the LaGuardia gate for the 5 p.m. flight back to Columbus. Everyone knew what was going on.

You had to go to New York because the earliest states to liberalize abortion laws were Republican-led, and that was the Rockefeller era. Democratic governors were beholden to the Catholic vote then, and as others have pointed out, Catholics were pretty much the only religious group opposed to abortion then.

But not everyone could get to New York, and so one night the wife of a friend of mine told me about the abortion she’d had, pre-Roe. She, too, was from a reasonably well-off family, but she went to St. Louis, and had her abortion in a hotel room. She didn’t share a lot of details, but I gathered it was a very unpleasant experience. Just thinking about it made me mad all over again.

And now we learn the prime mover behind the J.D. Vance endorsement: Tucker Carlson. Behold the former president of the United States:

After promising Trump that Vance was with him on the issues despite the candidate’s past anti-Trump comments, Carlson — according to three sources familiar with the matter — turned to a lurid closing argument. “You can’t trust” David McIntosh, the president of the conservative Club for Growth and a top backer of Vance’s rival Josh Mandel, Carlson claimed. McIntosh had just concluded his own phone call with Trump during that same midday meeting. The reason, Carlson asserted, is that McIntosh has an embarrassing and “chronic” personal sexual habit.

Rolling Stone cannot confirm the claim and will not repeat it. But during that phone call, the twice-impeached former president spent a notable amount of time gossiping and laughing about the prominent Republican’s penis and how “fucking disgusting” and “fucking gross” he allegedly was.

Trump had already displayed a long, abiding interest in Mandel’s own sex life, having spent months privately regurgitating and spreading salacious, unverified rumors that he’s heard about “fucking weird” Mandel’s supposed debauched ongoings. Carlson’s comments about the proclivities of Mandel’s patron threw both Trump and his son into fits of laughter.

I’M MOVING TO MEXICO, CANADA OR WESTERN EUROPE ONE OF THESE DAYS AND GODDAMNIT YOU CAN’T STOP ME.

OK, time to take off the caps lock and prepare for the evening ahead. I believe we’re headed to Pontiac this evening for some Mongolian heavy metal and a potential face-to-face with LAMary’s roadie son. This should be epic. I’m getting a T-shirt.

Good weekend, all. Stay cool.

Posted at 12:44 pm in Current events | 50 Comments
 

The red zone.

I don’t know what. I’m so tired, and yet furious. I slept badly last night because I was so angry. I’ve never had an abortion — although that’s none of your, or anyone else’s, goddamn business. My friends had them, oh yes they did. And because I’m old as hell, most of them had them before you had to walk a gantlet of screaming idiots to do so. But almost every one of them is a happy, well-adjusted mother of multiple children today. Successful. Confident. And (I’ve verified this) beyond regret over decisions they made when they themselves determined they weren’t ready to have a child.

And that’s what people like Justice Handmaid and Justice Rapist and Justice Steal-a-seat and Justice Strip Search can’t stand. The autonomy. (And when I say almost all of them are, etc., I don’t mean the ones who aren’t are messed up somehow. Some of them aren’t mothers, because they never wanted to be mothers. And still aren’t. Another thing that’s none of your business.)

God, I’m just furious. I’ve been furious all day.

As the Trump administration headed out the door, I thought back on its early days and came to the conclusion that Dems should have held their fire longer. The early “scandals” — OMG Kellyanne Conway put her bare feet on the Oval Office couch, OMG Ivanka has a West Wing office, etc. — burned people out to the point that by the time the really bad stuff arrived, voters were numb. I feel the same way about this. Yes, Roe will be overturned. Yes, probably same-sex marriage will be next. But no court is going to overturn interracial marriage or ban birth control, even though they believe those decisions rest on rotten foundations. In fact, they’ll use their tolerance of this fruit of the poison tree to show how reasonable they are, how hysterical it is to call them extremists.

And I just want to do something. Besides scream and be angry and pour another drink or write a check. If we’re two-thirds of the voting public, we need to do something.

Sorry, but I’ve been reading takes all day and I’m about taken out. And — as I might have mentioned — fucking furious.

Discuss? Discuss.

Posted at 8:15 pm in Current events | 59 Comments
 

A Buckeye state of mind.

I guess Tuesday is the Ohio primary, correct? I suppose it’ll tell us a few things, unless it tells us nothing. Joe Blystone, “constitutional conservative” and cowboy-hatted dipshit with a Santa Claus beard, won’t make a dent in the governor’s race, but I’ve been amused by his candidacy ever since the Cincinnati Fucking Enquirer identified him as “Farmer Joe Blystone” in some earlier story. I just checked his campaign website. Of course one of his issues is?

Election integrity is a major issue on the minds of Ohioans. While the design of Ohio’s system has many strengths, we still have issues that draw attention to a need to do better.

There were two links in that statement. One took me to the Ohio section of the Heritage Foundation’s vast database on election fraud. It used to be hosted by WhiteHouse.gov, but isn’t anymore, teehee. For the hell of it, I clicked on the first case, from 2021:

Edward Snodgrass, a registered Republican and a Porter Township Trustee, was charged with one felony count of illegal voting after submitting an absentee ballot on behalf of his deceased father in the 2020 General Election. As part of his plea deal, Snodgrass pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of falsification, was sentenced to three days in jail, and fined $500.

Hmm. There’s one vote. (Never mind it’s a Republican.) Here’s the next one on the list, from 2019:

Yaakov M. Schulman, of Columbus, was found guilty of illegal voting for voting as an alien. Schulman was charged with one count of false election registration and one count of illegal voting, and was found gulty of illegal voting, a fourth degree felony, by a jury. He was sentenced to community control (probation) for two years, ordered to complete cognitive behavioral programming, and was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and $1,812 in court fees.

And so on. The list is full of stuff like this, but we’re so distracted we don’t even check. People see the Heritage Foundation has a database of 1,353 cases of voter fraud and assume HUGE PROBLEM. When the list is almost all penny-ante shit like this. But keep trying, Heritage Foundation. Here’s their splash-screen copy:

The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database presents a sampling of recent proven instances of election fraud from across the country. Each and every one of the cases in this database represents an instance in which a public official, usually a prosecutor, thought it serious enough to act upon it. And each and every one ended in a finding that the individual had engaged in wrongdoing in connection with an election hoping to affect its outcome — or that the results of an election were sufficiently in question and had to be overturned. This database is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list. This database is intended to demonstrate the vulnerabilities in the election system and the many ways in which fraud is committed.

“…hoping to affect its outcome” made me laugh. Isn’t that why people vote at all?

I don’t know who will win the gubernatorial primary in Ohio. It’s the Senate that everyone’s paying attention to. Don’t know that one, either, but whichever Republican it is, it’ll be a terrible, terrible one.

So. I guess the big talker over the weekend was the Tucker Carlson thing in the NYT — you can look it up if you haven’t clicked out yet this month. (Does the NYT free-articles meter reset on the first of the month, or does the 30 days roll over?) I’m still working my way through it. I don’t know if there’s any one thing to say about it, other than: Hmm, what an asshole, but anyone who didn’t know that already has been failing to keep up. Just did a Twitter scroll and discovered there is no shortage of wannabes out there stoking fear and anger, particularly about public schools and teachers. I know it’s trendy to say someone’s going to get killed over this, but from the tone and hysteria of the clamor, I think it’s only a matter of time.

And now I think I’m-a walk Wendy. I leave you with this excellent joke:

And wish you all a good week.

Posted at 4:39 pm in Current events | 59 Comments
 

What comes later.

Years ago, when I was younger, callow and a lazy newspaper columnist, I opened my mail one morning and a story fell into my lap.

The letter was from a former resident of the Pixley Home, a long-closed child welfare agency in Fort Wayne. Back in the day, if you lacked the resources to support your own children, you didn’t get cash or food stamps or other help from the government. Rather, the government would take over the care and raising of your children in a place like the Pixley Home, sort of an orphanage for children who weren’t orphans. This woman’s time at Pixley was sometime in the ’30s or ’40s, when the Depression, and then the war, disrupted many families. Kids at Pixley might have only one parent, often a widower father but sometimes a woman who had no family of her own to help with her burden. Child care outside of a grandmother or aunt was virtually nonexistent, so if you had to work to support yourself and had no one to watch your children? You surrendered them to a place like the Pixley Home.

If it sounds cruel to you, you’re not the only one.

Parents could visit their children, of course, on Sundays. And parents could get their children back, once they were back on their feet. I don’t recall what the process was to reclaim them, but I do know children generally stayed for months or years.

Anyway, the woman who wrote was trying to put together a reunion of Pixley kids, and hoped I could publicize it. I dug up a picture of the old building, called a few of the other residents that she had already tracked down, and wrote a column describing this merry, loving place, because that’s how my correspondent remembered it. She described it as something out of Little Orphan Annie, with stern-but-kind caretakers, big group dinners and so forth. It was like having a couple dozen brothers and sisters, all sleeping in dorms and bunk beds. About the worst thing she remembered was the weekly dose of castor oil everyone had to take.

The column ran, a few more Pixley kids were found as a result, the reunion went as planned and then, a few weeks after that, another letter arrived.

Like the first, it was written by an older woman. Only her memories of the Pixley Home were very different. She described a particular delivery man who would hang around after he’d offloaded his groceries and find a way to corner her in a quiet place. You can imagine what happened next. She certainly hadn’t forgotten it. She said she told the matrons about him, but nothing was done. It’s safe to say that decades later, she was still pretty upset about it. She certainly didn’t want to go to a happy reunion, and didn’t. But she wanted me to know.

Jeff has written about this elsewhere, and he’s right: Sexual abuse of children and women is absolutely nothing new, and was far, far more widespread than any of us know. My Fort Wayne neighbor’s mother-in-law was profoundly deaf from birth, and it happened to her. If you wanted a perfect victim, why not choose a girl who couldn’t talk? Or a girl in an institution? Or a servant or other low-status worker with no power and few resources to fight back?

The good ol’ days weren’t, in other words.

I thought of this other Pixley girl a couple years ago, when a father in one of the Larry Nassar sentencing hearings lunged at the defendant, calling him a son-of-a-bitch and asking for “one minute alone,” etc. He was subdued by deputies before he laid a hand on Nassar. So now his daughter, molested by Nassar at 13, has to further deal with the sight of her father being taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.

I want to tentatively raise my hand and ask a question: Is it possible to acknowledge every one of Nassar’s victims, to let them speak and describe how they were hurt by him, and still give them what they need to live the rest of their lives, not as victims, but as survivors? Because as creepy as having some doctor stick his ungloved fingers in you might be, having that define the rest of your life is far, far worse.

All of these stories are terrible, and some are unendurable. A father whose guilt over not protecting his daughter drove him to suicide. A victim who committed suicide herself.

When I read that ESPN piece about Todd Hodne, the rapist who played briefly at Penn State, I was struck by…well, by so many things. But what elevated it, in my eyes, was the careful attention paid to what happened to the women after they were raped by this behemoth. The girl who, at 16, successfully fended him off found strength in what she’d done, strength that has buttressed her throughout her life. Betsy Sailor, the woman who tried so hard through her terror to remember every detail, so she could testify later in court, similarly carried that good-deed-that-came-of-a-terrible-one into how she lived. Others were broken, or nearly so, by what happened. One woman remembered her mother, a Hodne victim, and the anxiety she was never able to shake afterward.

Of course you can’t blame those who didn’t turn straw into gold; no one knows how they’ll come through a trauma until it happens.

I was also struck, reading the Hodne story, that we’re finally getting better at how we treat women (and men) who endure these crimes. Victim impact statements are only part of it. We obviously have far, far to go. But there’s a glimmer of a bright side to look on, at least sometimes.

I don’t want to bring y’all down today, but the Pixley Home has been knocking around my head for a while now, and it needed to come out.

Bloggage?

In Michigan, the state GOP continues to delaminate. The guy in that story is deep in the DeVos organization, as I recall, and if he’s out, well, Katy bar the door.

If you were wondering if there’s a worse businessman in the world than Donald Trump, I do believe we’ve found him:

Boeing should have rejected then-President Donald Trump’s proposed terms to build two new Air Force One aircraft, the company’s CEO said Wednesday.

Dave Calhoun spoke Wednesday on the company’s quarterly earnings call, just hours after Boeing disclosed that it has lost $660 million transforming two 747 airliners into flying White Houses.

Then-President Trump, an aviation enthusiast, took a keen interest in the new presidential jets, involving himself in everything from contract negotiations to the plane’s color scheme. As part of the deal, Boeing signed a fixed-price contract that required the company, not taxpayers, to pay for any cost overruns during the complicated conversion of the two airliners.

Then-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who was dismissed in December 2019, personally negotiated the Air Force One terms with Trump at the White House and the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

P.S. Dennis Muilenberg left his “dismissal” with a $62 million exit package.

Posted at 5:09 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 41 Comments