I say this with some self-mockery, but: Last night was bad. Couldn’t sleep. My insomnia usually presents as middle-of-the-night wakefulness, but Thursday night I just plain couldn’t get to sleep. Might have dozed a bit, but at 11:45 p.m. I was still tossing and turning. Thought, screw it, let’s read Twitter. And that’s when I saw the news of the tragedy in Dallas, which many of you are waking up to now. That was 14 minutes before what’s below was about to publish, and for that, all I can say is: whew.

Rereading it, though, I’m not going to change anything, although I’m glad I waited. I don’t think it’s cognitive dissonance to say you condemn both the sort of police work that leaves two men dead in two nights, AND the ambush massacre in Dallas. It’s clear to me that the police are the infantry in a lot of wars we’ve chosen to fight, or been led into fighting. The low-level cracked-taillight cop hassle that led to Philando Castile’s death earlier this week, and the GET DOWN GET DOWN GUN GUN GUN paramilitary screwup that killed Alton Sterling even earlier (and that was, what? Tuesday?) are all of a piece with a larger brokenness in our society that we haven’t addressed, and can’t even really see. We can’t even agree on what it is, which is one reason I’ll be tuning out a lot of the social-media static over the next few days. I’ll read you guys commenting here, because you are in the main smart and thoughtful, and I’ll read some selected news sources, but right now the best strategy seems to be to step back and ask: What is really going on here? It’s not what we think. It’s something worse, I fear. So, then, below is what I wrote before Dallas. It’s yours now.

I know everyone is talking about a particular police video today, but I want to draw your attention to a different one. This one. A 911 operator in Avon, Ohio gets two calls, one from a young woman, one from a man, claiming a woman they both know (daughter to the man, sister to the father) is a desk clerk at a Fairfield Inn, and just observed an Arabic man with “multiple disposable cell phones” and “full headdress” pledging allegiance to ISIS in the hotel. Come quick, she’s terrified!

And they do.

The tape is long, but the action is in the first few minutes, when the police roll into this suburban McHotel parking lot like the Marines into Fallujah, weapons drawn, shouting GET DOWN GET DOWN SHOW ME YOUR HANDS GIVE ME YOUR HANDS at this poor guy, whose “full headdress” is basically just a traditional white robe and kaffiyeh, whose pledge of allegiance to ISIS was a phone call in Arabic. He complies immediately, but the YELLING ORDERS stuff goes on, and at no point does anyone in a law-enforcement uniform offer him a hand up or, god forbid, an apology. Eventually the guy has some sort of medical crisis while he’s lying down, and he’s taken away on a stretcher.

A few things to stipulate here: Yes, I know this is standard police training. Go in big and loud and don’t back down. My question is, why not back down when you’re obviously wrong? Is there, anywhere in the training manual, any room for common sense to take over, for an officer in charge, or even in the rank and file, to rub a few brain cells together and think, “Hmm, Avon? A Fairfield Inn? Does this make sense as a terrorist target? And doesn’t the Cleveland Clinic do a lot of business with Middle Eastern patients? Who is this clerk and her sister and father? Maybe we can go in a little less…erect, shall we say, at least until the shooting starts.”

This is why people keep getting shot by police. We train officers to go in like the Marines, when a little more Andy Taylor may be called for. I think Jeff gets at the nut of it in his comment yesterday. A lot of police today came out of the military. A lot of their equipment is military surplus. They’re trained to think of themselves as soldiers. We see the attitude here in Detroit when we cross the border to have lunch or a drink in Windsor. On the Canadian side, a polite border officer asks where we’re going, whether we’re carrying firearms, hands back our passports and tells us to enjoy the city. Coming home, a scowling guy in a bulletproof vest asks why we’d cross an international border to have lunch. (“Well, the dim sum in Windsor is really superior to anything you can get over here.”) The vibe is AGGRESSIVE and DO NOT FUCK WITH THE UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL.

A while back, I was listening to a local radio station’s news roundup. It’s Canadian, but rarely broadcasts its call letters, and I’d forgotten until I heard a story about the Windsor police releasing their use-of-force data for the year. They consider unholstering a nightstick a use of force, and it’s overwhelmingly the weapon of choice for Canadian police. Not that it is used often.

The week’s news sickens me, and almost as sickening is the justification that’s immediately offered, by talking heads right down to the comment sections: Police work is hard, it’s stressful, you never know when someone is going to bust a cap in your ass, SHOW ME YOUR HANDS GET DOWN GET DOWN. I’m not denying any part of that. I’m postulating that maybe more common sense is called for. Maybe more humanity. Maybe fewer traffic stops for cracked fucking taillights. Do you know what it costs to get a taillight fixed? Do you have any idea what that amount of money represents to a poor person?

Ugh. Well.

I didn’t mention Newt Gingrich in my veep odds the other day, did I? I should have. I’m thinking he’s my favorite. He’ll take the gig because he has nothing to lose. He’s well out of politics, and makes his living entirely by consulting and writing unreadable books and elsewhere in the shadow D.C. economy. In other words, he has a lot to gain from a brand-build that a veep run with Trump would offer. Newt is 5:2.

If Fox News is like this on the air, imagine what it’s like off the air.

Finally, you all have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events | 84 Comments


We had an impromptu dinner party on Independence Day. That’s the best kind, especially if it includes sailing and ribs and potato salad. Also, beer and prosecco and a bloody mary and wine. And a puppy. Because nothing makes a holiday gathering like a puppy playing around with the bigger dogs while we all look on and say oh god, he just walked right through the fence! Which he did, a couple of times, although he then walked right back in. In a few more weeks he’ll be safe in the yard, but not until he puts on a little size.

Sailing and ribs and a puppy. Beer and vodka and wine. And then the people’s fireworks, the Fallujah-under-siege soundtrack that, on July 4, goes on and on and on. It was a good holiday, if a little noisy. (And not nearly as drunk as it sounds.)

So that’s why no blog yesterday. Also, I tried very hard to avoid the news all weekend, and I was enjoying the sense of waiting for the news alert about Trump’s veep choice. Maybe we should have a pool, or a countdown clock. I’m setting odds on… Chris Christie, 5:2; Mike Pence 3:1; Joni Ernst 15:1. Oh, and Gary Busey at 50:1. Anyone else want to weigh in?

A few items of interest for you all to chew over. Gene Weingarten is breaking up with CNN. Over Corey Lewandowski, of course. Well, he lasted longer than I did. I gave up CNN about 19 shootings ago, when I finally found Wolf Blitzer simply too distracting, his strange anti-charisma finally doing what it was apparently meant to do. But he (Weingarten) is right: The hiring of Trump’s campaign manager, complete with non-disparagement agreement, is a deeply cynical bridge too far:

CNN apparently didn’t worry much about the guy being a fawning Trump suckup lickspittle who was likely sent away from the campaign with a wonderful golden parachute and a non-disclosure agreement that doesn’t allow him to be critical of Trump. How could CNN even consider such a grotesque arrangement? Well, because they’ve been doing it for years! This seemed like business as usual. They simply have never been doing it with a preposterous thug toady before. (They have, however, gone way over the line before. Ana Navarro embarrassed herself, and CNN, for years, over her fawning defense of Jeb Bush, particularly after he said that he still would have invaded Iraq after knowing what we know now. Ana was the first on the air with the revelation that, to her exclusive knowledge, he “misunderstood” the question.)

So now CNN is giving lots of air time to someone with no apparent sense of shame who is also in Trump’s back pocket, and the results have been more than predictable. It turns out Corey Lewandowski, who clearly isn’t allowed to say anything bad about Trump, also hasn’t anything to say that is not worshipful of Trump. Whom he calls “Mr. Trump.” You know, the way journalists do, out of respect.

I know we have some heavy people in the readership here. How do we feel about the paternalistic attitude people who run the contemporary workplace too often take toward fat people?

Those who do manage to land a job are less likely to be offered a salary bump or promotion compared to their slimmer peers. Obesity was found to lower a woman’s annual earnings an average of 4.5% and men’s earnings as much as 2.3%, according to a 2004 study by Charles L. Baum of Middle Tennessee State University. Some pundits have argued that this may be the last accepted form of prejudice in the U.S.

Progress to end this form of discrimination has been slow, with only a handful of states passing laws to curtail it. Meanwhile, researchers found in 2008 that weight-based discrimination is “increasing at disturbing rates.”

Doesn’t surprise me.

Finally, a WashPost column about anti-Muslim discrimination in Frederick, Md. Someone posted it in comments yesterday. I’m not sure how much to make of it, and I sincerely hope the writer got all the verification she could get, because it’s hard for me to believe there are that many awful bigots in Frederick, but what do I know?

So with that, I’m off to bed and hoping tomorrow will be a little cooler. (It won’t.) I’ll just think of that puppy.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 115 Comments

More calming photography.

Humpback whale, the northern horizon beyond, Husavik, Iceland.

I needed a couple days off, sorry guys. My week tends to be front-loaded (and sort of uneventful, most weeks), so I often find myself on Monday or Tuesday nights lying limply on the couch, thinking how little I care about the news of the day.

But of course I do. I’ve been absorbed by the news of the week, particularly the SCOTUS rulings, which are, like everything else, only more evidence of the great divide. To people like us, it’s pretty simple: You take a job as a pharmacist, you’re obligated to dispense the drugs people present prescriptions for. You’re not there to express your opinions about them, or otherwise interfere with a relationship between a customer/patient and the choices they or their doctors make. Your remarks should be confined to known contraindications and so forth, not your moral beliefs about them.

If you feel you need to say these things, choose another field.

Others? They don’t feel this way. Roy has the roundup. Read that, and you’ll feel better.

Also, the last few days here have been lovely. Monday was miserable hot, but a cool front blew in Tuesday and Wednesday? This:


It was pretty chilly at that hour, too — about 55 degrees. You stretch, you get in, you swim. In half a lap, all is well.

I plan to enjoy this summer.

Deborah, send me some current pix of your house project, and I’ll post them here. Along with more of my own, because I feel like if this weather keeps up, it’ll be a very photogenic summer.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events | 39 Comments

Sea and sky.

I just spent 30 minutes reading reader comments on Monday’s SCOTUS decision on the Texas abortion laws. It’s a scourging of sorts, I guess. But what it really made me want to do is look at a nice picture from Iceland. This one:


Sea, sky, mountain. Gray, gray, gray, and light. Ah, much better now.

That’s the kind of day it was. I’m headed for bed.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events | 67 Comments

These guys.

For many years now – ever since I read an Indianapolis Monthly cover story on Steve Hilbert, the high-flying CEO who drove Canseco into a ditch a few years back – I’ve thought the best job in America is to be an ex-wife of one of these guys, preferably before they hit the skids. Best of all would be for your hubs to fall in love with his secretary, or personal art dealer, or, in Hilbert’s case, the woman who jumped out of a cake at his son’s bachelor party, at the absolute height of their wealth and power, which is when so many of these splits tend to happen.

Seriously, imagine that scenario. It would be like getting released from prison, only instead of a suit of clothes and a parole officer, you get a condo in Aspen and $40 million. Jane Welch’s deal – that’s the one I want. Or Ivana Trump’s. You never again have to listen to him carp about the office, the board or the tennis coach, all of whom are somehow failing him. You don’t have to fuck him, or supervise his social calendar, or make nice with his equally odious colleagues. You are free to downsize and sit in front of that crackling Aspen fireplace, holding a warm cup of something in both hands and considering the rest of your life. Maybe do some more traveling – to Vietnam, or Russia, or India, places your ex wouldn’t even consider – or just fill your days with low-key lunches, reading and maybe regular dates with the tennis coach.

Of course, I was put on this train of thought by reading about yet another Donald Trump scam. The NYT has been tireless on these myriad disasters, the university and the casinos and all the rest of it. The most believable theory of why Trump won’t release his tax returns, to me anyway (I think it’s Mark Cuban’s), is the one that says he doesn’t have anywhere near as much as he’s been claiming, and the truth is clear if you look at the evidence in front of our faces. What billionaire needs to run as many low-level grifts and cheesy schemes as Trump does? “Trump: The Game,” Trump University, Trump steaks, even his dumb TV show. When you get your B card, you stop doing things like this:

In Oregon, Phyllis Fread was in her 80s, dealing with Parkinson’s disease and had been retired from teaching for almost two decades when Cambridge started calling her at home, where she lived alone. Cambridge salespeople telephoned Ms. Fread — who did not use the internet — 42 times trying to sell her networking services, a website and other products she did not need, according to an investigation by the Oregon attorney general’s office.

Over a two-year period, Cambridge charged her $14,593 for a video biography, calendars, a plaque and other items, including a news release in June 2010 titled “Phyllis J. Fread Reveals Her Secret to a Long Career in Education.” The release included a mention of Donald Trump Jr., saying he “was eager to share his extensive experience” with Cambridge clients.

Eventually, Ms. Fread reached her credit card limit and her son disconnected her telephone to stop Cambridge from calling. In a recorded interview with an investigator from the attorney general’s office, Ms. Fread became emotional as she recalled how “there were all kinds of things they’d push and I’d say, ‘I don’t want it at all.’”

“I remember saying, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t need anything, I don’t want anything.’ And then you couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I probably should have hung up,” she said. “But I didn’t.”

Cambridge was accused by the state of “unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices” and settled without admitting guilt, issuing a refund to Ms. Fread in 2012. She died 18 months later.

“Cambridge” is:

Cambridge Who’s Who, a vanity publisher promising “branding services” that seemed to complement the real estate business (another duped woman) hoped to create. She paid thousands of dollars to Cambridge, whose spokesman and “executive director of global branding” was Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr.

It’s not a Trump company, but when Junior joined it six years ago, his name became part of the call-center script. You wonder why a billionaire’s son would feel the need to work for such an outfit, even if he only stayed a year. My guess is, he learned at the foot of dad, and knows you never leave a dollar on the table, on the ground or in an 80-year-old woman’s pocket.

A good friend of mine died of AIDS 25 years or so ago, and one of the last arguments I remember having with him was over “The Art of the Deal,” which he was reading, becoming ever more besotted with Donald Trump as the pages turned. To him, Trump was about confidence, “class” and being unlike any other. I never read it, and in fact avoid all such books, even while I marvel over the stacks and stacks you see in places like airports. The format is as predictable as a rom-com: Photoshopped pic of the author on the cover, wearing a sweater; wide margins and big type; and air, nothing but air, between the covers.

Really, who thought that Bill Gates’ “The Road Ahead” would contain one secret to duplicating his own success on the road ahead? Who thought that after reading Welch’s “Winning,” one might go forth and, y’know, win? Thousands, evidently. Maybe millions.

If you’d have told me that one day this “author” of an empty-headed parade of “books” would be the GOP nominee for president, well… I’m sure you feel the same way.

On the other hand, if you’d told me that both Trump and Welch would run personally branded higher-ed programs at for-profit “institutions,” well, I’d believe that.

What am I talking about? I feel like I’ve sort of lost the plot here.

OK, then, moving on. NN.C is a full-service blog, so when you’re passing through my town, I will do my best to say hi in the flesh, as I did on Saturday, at Eastern Market with the bassets, Craig and Patty:


I seem to have gone blonde with my most recent highlights. Might want to tone that down, eh?

The week ahead sits with fanged teeth. (Pronounced “fanged” with two syllables, and you’ll get a sense of how much I’m not looking forward to it.) But in five more days, it’ll be over, so let’s get to it, eh?

Posted at 12:31 am in Current events | 51 Comments

More slides.

This is Hverfell (or Hverfjall, something to do with whether it’s a hill or a mountain, a hair I leave Icelanders to split). Not my photo, obviously, as I didn’t have a helicopter at my disposal:


It’s a volcano, obviously, near Lake Myrvatn. We called it Dog Bowl Mountain, also obviously. All over Iceland are volcanos that have grass growing well up their slopes, but Hverfell is, after 2,900 years, still rock and cinders and dust. But you can climb it, via a steep walking path up the side. Up, up, up you climb. Pant, pant, pant. Trudge, trudge, trudge. Rest, rest, rest. You’re up very high — look at the cars in the parking lot. Like ants:


And then you come out at the top. I was expecting water down there. Instead, another heap of cinders, but in true Icelandic fashion, utterly otherworldly. The whole country looks like a Star Trek set, of about 19 different planets.


And that’s Hverfell. Let me know when you guys get tired of these pictures.

I’m exhausted, the sort of exhausted one gets when you’ve had a frustrating day, it’s too hot to go outside and the wind is just howling outside, huffing and puffing. Some of you people who are more politically savvy than me, please explain (if such a thing can even be explained): What possible motivation would Donald Trump’s campaign manager have to plant damaging stories about his own boss’ son-in-law? Because as a person who generally expects things to make a certain linear sense, I have to say I just don’t get it.

And for more entertaining Trump news, there’s this GQ profile of his 27-year-old press secretary, who has never worked in politics before. Welcome to Crazytown:

As for what arrives in Hicks’s in-box, a typical day brings upwards of 250 media requests. Usually, she alone decides who gets in and who’s kept out. But sometimes it’s Trump who plays bouncer for his own private party. “She sees the tantrums, and there are tantrums,” a source who’s been with Trump and Hicks told me. “He reads something he doesn’t like by a reporter, and it’s like, ‘This motherfucker! All right, fine. Hope?’ He circles it. ‘This guy’s banned! He’s banned for a while.’ That’s exactly how it works.” Hicks plays parole officer to an extensive and expanding blacklist of outlets and reporters (your correspondent once included) no longer welcome at his events.

While Hicks is often eager to please, she doesn’t mind upsetting the media and harbors no reverence for the civic duties of a free press. When reporters send her questions, she’s often irked—convinced they’re playing detective merely to irritate the campaign. She’s seemingly unaware that they might just be vetting a potential United States president. Often she doesn’t respond.

Finally, oncologists have had it with you mealy-mouthed pediatricians, and plan to go hard on HPV vaccines. Good for them.

Now to watch the “Game of Thrones” I missed last night because HBONow went down at the worst possible moment.

Posted at 12:13 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 50 Comments

Crazy talk.

Which one of those craggy peaks is my daughter? Reynisfjara beach, near Vik, Iceland.

One subject I find endlessly fascinating is how mental illness — specific mental illness in individuals — dovetails with contemporary culture. Once upon a time, paranoid people believed they were literally bedeviled, by incubi and succubi. This gave way to space aliens, which yielded to internet-connected “targeted individuals.” (That’s a fascinating story I just linked; you should read.) Our local electrical utility has been installing so-called smart meters over the last few years, and a number of people have appeared at city council meetings, asking that the city refuse them, because if they’re installed, the utility will know which lights you have turned on, access to your electronic devices, etc., and they have no right to this information. STOP THE SURVEILLANCE STATE, etc.

For as long as I’ve been reading newspapers, people have been killing in the name of God — bombing abortion clinics, drowning their own children, or shooting their friends and family. We understand that when these people say God or Jesus or an angel told them to do these things, they’re nuts, because we understand that the Christian God is about love and understanding.

So when a man whom circumstantial evidence would suggest was a closeted homosexual kills 49 people in a gay bar, common sense would suggest his own shame and impulses had something to do with his motive. But if he pledges allegiance to an Islamic terror group instead, we decide this is Islamic terrorism, that he was “self-radicalized” – even though he showed no other evidence of religious dedication, like time at the mosque or even living by Islamic practices – and that this is part of a global plot that must be answered with an unprecedented policy overhaul.

And that’s crazy, if you ask me.

Maybe what we need now is more Muslim immigration, so we’d read more stories like this, about a Muslim trauma surgeon in Orlando, treating the victims of the massacre. Or like this, about ordinary Muslims in Detroit, who worry about the shitstorm these events bring down on their communities. Coincidentally, they have almost the same lead:

Dearborn Heights — One fearful thought gripped Bissan Harb when she learned about Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, the worst in modern American history: “Please don’t let it be a Muslim.”


ORLANDO, Fla. — When Dr. Joseph Ibrahim heard that the attack at the Pulse nightclub may have been linked to terrorism, he caught himself fearing any kind of link to his own Muslim, Middle-Eastern roots.

Please, he thought, don’t let Ibrahim appear anywhere in the gunman’s name.

And with that, I think it’s safe to say we’re 100 percent repatriated after our break. I even spent my first Saturday night home at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Yes, I did. And now that I’ve done it, I never have to do it again. A friend had review tickets, good ones, because he always writes about the pregame scene outside, which I could sum up in a hashtag: #drunkwhitepeople.

That said, it was fun, although by the end I could fairly say I was sick of steel drums, the stupid talking coconut and especially the insistent pandering to the locals. By which I mean? The song – don’t ask me to name it, because I don’t know – about beautiful places. The accompanying video montage started with images of Buffettville, beaches and swaying palms and so on, but transitioned to the cool blue lakes and pine forests of Michigan, before ending with a giant map of Michigan, just in case the drunker members of the audience didn’t get it. “Just once,” I told my friend, “I want to see what happens when the crew loads the wrong video file, and the Texans get North Carolina, or vice versa.” There was also a Glenn Frey tribute – “Take it Easy,” totally defensible – that had some tacked-on images of Gordie Howe. Weak.

But it was an enjoyable evening. And for all the excess in the parking lot – we found one converted school bus with a rooftop deck and hot tub – I thought these folks had the right idea:


Just a man, his girlfriend, a cooler and a kiddie pool in the back of a pickup truck. Note their ages, too — both 21. And they were by no means the youngest people in the crowd. Give Buffett this: No one has figured out a way to brand-extend the American vacation experience like he has.

OK, have to hit the ground running tomorrow, so this will be it for the day. Many more pictures to come. Tanned, rested and ready for the week.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Detroit life | 41 Comments

Some last notes.

This will be the last you hear from me for a while. But when I resurface? I hope to be in the land of midnight sun. Wendy will be home with her sitter — who allows her to sleep in bed with him — and we’ll have an ocean between us.

As well as the Greenland Sea. Current temperature in Reykjavik: 48 degrees.

So just a link or two, and some requests:

Talk about whatever you want in my absence, but be advised that I don’t have much email access, or only intermittent access. So if your comment gets kicked to moderation, it’s likely to stay there a while. Try resubmitting. Please be kind to one another. I hope I get some good pictures.

Meanwhile, an interesting story on the Jonathan Weisman anti-Semitic tweet storm.

And then there was Hillary’s rather splendid throwdown yesterday:

She said she imagined Mr. Trump was “composing nasty tweets” about her even as she spoke. And indeed he was: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton!” Mr. Trump wrote. “Reading poorly from the teleprompter! She doesn’t even look presidential.”

But Mrs. Clinton sought to turn Mr. Trump’s prolific Twitter habit into an additional bullet point demonstrating that he was “unfit” for the presidency, as she put it. She twice referred to the scene in the White House Situation Room where as secretary of state, she advised Mr. Obama on the raid on a compound in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

“Imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States,” Mrs. Clinton said, eliciting cries of “No!” from her audience. “Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.”

Woo. Who wrote that?

Finally, a longer read I’m not done with yet, but it’s interesting, on the genetic origins of dogs.

Bye! Wheels up for Reykjavik on Sunday. Back here eventually.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Popculch | 50 Comments

First blood.

Such an exciting morning at our house. I had just cracked an egg into the pan when I noticed Wendy wagging to go outside. I opened the door, she shot out like a rocket and before I knew it, the squirrel zigged when it should have zagged and had become Wendy’s first official kill. First blood.

I think I was squeaking as much as the squirrel was. I can’t say it was entirely clean; I didn’t see any violent head-shaking, but she got the job done. Spriggy would have shaken it vigorously for a while, then trotted around with his trophy in his jaws for another while, then settled in to rend it limb from limb and fight when we tried to take it away. Wendy’s sweet personality, and perhaps a little bafflement at actually having nailed the thing, meant she basically stood over it proudly, occasionally touching it with her nose, as if to say, “Hey, get up and play some more.”

I got Alan out of bed early to do the dirty work before she tried to dismember it, roll in it or otherwise make a mess. She was bummed to have to give up the prize, and now revisits the spot whenever she’s in the yard, just to see if it’s come back, or to sniff its blood, or something.

No, I didn’t get a picture. Should have. It was a black squirrel, too; they’re generally thought to have a few more IQ points than the gray ones. My mighty huntress.

I was interrupted by Trump thoughts all day, partly because I was working my way through this David Frum essay about him. Title: The Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy, just in case you think essay titles can’t be too portentous. He makes a few good points, although it’s hard to take seriously a piece that approvingly quotes both Rod Dreher and Jonah Goldberg. Frum makes the point that even if Trump is flattened in November, the damage is done. A presidential candidate has boasted about his penis on a national stage (in Detroit! Hometown represent!). Can’t rebottle that genie. I came away from it thinking I need to chat up my old boss Derek, whose head is a data-analyzing computer; he’ll point to an electoral map and tell me to stop worrying and start preparing for President Hillary, and I will, for a while.

At the same time, one of the things that makes life so interesting is how you really never know what’s coming tomorrow. And the night is dark and full of terrors, to quote a little “Game of Thrones.”

And there’s this, an account of this week’s Trump presser about the veterans fundraiser:

He actually believes that it’s the job of political reporters covering a presidential candidate to write “Thank you very much, Mr. Trump.” It’s not the press’ job to discover the truth or ask questions or hold the powerful accountable; their job is to promote him and compliment him. And when he doesn’t get the glowing coverage he wants, he attacks.

I’m trying not to get tired of saying this, but just try to imagine what the reaction would be if Hillary Clinton came out to defend herself against some perfectly reasonable questions, and said “The press should be ashamed of themselves” or pointed to a reporter and said, “You’re a sleaze.” She wouldn’t be criticized or questioned, she’d be crucified. Reporters would ask if she had lost her mind and was having a nervous breakdown. There would be demands for her to pull out of the race immediately, since she had shown herself to be so unstable.

It’s going to be a real challenge for reporters covering Trump to continue to ask the questions they ask of every candidate, to demand answers and to point out falsehoods — which is already a herculean task when it comes to Trump, since he delivers so many of them. That’s not easy to do when you know your subject is going to assault you over it. And it’s not likely to change.

Ai yi yi.

Loose ends: The water test came back. No lead, no copper, no problems. No neurotoxins. Thanks, beb!

Finally, you know how zillionaires are always threatening to move to less-tax-y places unless they’re properly honored? Few of them do.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 46 Comments

A few details.

And now begins the countdown to Iceland, and a time of Some Uncertainty for blog postings. I’ll be on vacation, but of course I’ll also want to share the experience with you guys, because that’s what I do — share and overshare. However, the only computer I’m taking will be my phone, and for a long time, the WordPress mobile app didn’t play well with this site. Remember how I used to do Saturday-morning market posts, and then I stopped? That’s because I couldn’t seem to size the photos anymore — they downloaded in their full, multi-pixel splendor, sprawling all over the damn page and grr.

But I tried a phone post yesterday, and huzzah, it worked on three different devices, so awRIGHT, I can blog a bit from Scandinavia, at least as long as I have wifi.

I will not be attempting the Icelandic keyboard set, though, so apologies in advance for mangled spellings of local place names. I’ll do my best.

So while I count down the days and tick the items off my to-do list, which involves a shit-ton of work-work along the way, and in a holiday-shortened week to boot, enjoy some stateside bloggage:

Oh, you should have seen Mark the Shark this weekend; he was en fuego on social media about Herr Trump, whose cotton-candy hairdo may go down in history along with Hitler’s mustache if he keeps this shit up:

“What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,” Mr. Trump said.

The “Mexican” judge was a law-school classmate of Mark’s, at the Indiana University law school. The “Mexican” judge is Gonzalo Curiel, and he was born in Indiana. Trump called him a “hater, a hater of Donald Trump” why? Because he refused to grant summary judgment in Trump’s favor in one of the Trump University-is-a-scam trials. Any lawyer can tell you that summary judgments, while hardly unicorns, are sort of like 9-0 Supreme Court decisions in the modern era, i.e., kind of a rare bird. A summary judgment is the judge saying that a case is so weak or flawed we don’t even need to have a trial; it’s just game over and one side wins.

For not granting Trump his motion, Judge Curiel became the subject of a 12-minute speech-within-a-speech in San Diego — San-Di-frickin-ego, where you know that calling out a Hoosier “Mexican” isn’t going to attract any attention at all — that went to the usual places, the “build that wall” chant, all of it. My favorite part of the Wall Street Journal story:

An aide in Judge Curiel’s chambers on Friday said the judicial code of conduct prevents him from responding to Mr. Trump.

Well, I’m glad someone’s keeping their wits about them.

Of course, Rod Dreher read the same story and came away with a different villain: The protestors, because things got unruly, and oh that’s a very bad thing. I mean, they waved Mexican flags! OMG!!!

The hell with that. If you don’t protest some things, the people who perpetrate them think it’s OK. It’s not OK. Even if you can’t make them stop, you still speak up and say it’s wrong.

On a happier note, I know many of us here are fans of Pete Souza, the White House photographer whose images of the Obama presidency have been so wonderful. Here’s a puff piece on him, but includes a few of those great pictures. Something I didn’t know: Souza was also Ronald Reagan’s personal shooter, for six years.

Finally, let’s end with comedy: The Libertarian convention, held over the weekend in Orlando. Here’s your nominee, freedom lovers!

In Saturday night’s debate, Johnson, alone among the top-five contenders, said that he would have signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and that he thought people should be licensed to drive cars. He was loudly booed for both positions.

And here’s how it ended. With a fat guy spontaneously stripping off his clothes onstage.

OK, then! I leave you with a picture of my weekend, which was hot but also pretty delightful, as you can imagine:


Posted at 12:01 am in Current events | 51 Comments