Enjoy hell, asshole.

I learned of Rush Limbaugh fairly early in his career. WGL in Fort Wayne was one of the first stations to pick up his show when he went national. I believe I’d listened for five minutes when I said to myself, “This is a fat guy who cannot score with chicks.”

Nothing against fat guys! Decent fat guys score all the time. Malevolent ones whose lack of Clooneytude has metastasized into a deep hatred of women are the ones who can’t. And while he was able to lure four of them into matrimony, none stuck around for very long. The last two lasted 10 years apiece, but I’d be willing to bet that as his wealth grew, the women in his life maintained separate bedrooms. Like Melania Trump, because she couldn’t stand the sight of the bastard “liked to read.”

I mean, five minutes with that foghorn voice would make me stick a drill in my ear. Rush would eventually lose his own hearing, likely through opiate abuse, which suggests even his own body was sick of carrying his blackened soul around after a while.

So anyway, that’s where it started with me and Limbaugh: The sexism. The racism, the homophobia, the casual bigotry and contempt for anyone who he perceived to be a lib-rull, as he pronounced it — that would come later, but only about 10 minutes later. You gotta give him this: The man was who he was from the beginning, and never really changed. If he had a conscience, if he ever evolved on any issue, if he grew, if his heart softened or expanded in any way, if he discarded one position and took up another, I never saw it. Of course, I didn’t listen to him for very long and had to depend on what was reported about him.

But you didn’t have to listen to him to listen to him. In Indiana, I heard him coming out of my neighbor’s kitchen window, out of cars stopped at lights, in restaurants. God, the restaurants. Alan, when he was a reporter, did a story on the “Rush rooms,” i.e. dedicated rooms in restaurants where they played his show over speakers for those who maybe couldn’t listen at work, but could catch the first or second hour at lunchtime. People only talked during the breaks. The rest of the time these places were like church with the clinking of silverware. Some people came every day.

I have been a fan in my life, a superfan of some, but honestly, I cannot imagine being so wound up with any one entertainer, one writer, one broadcaster, that I would devote this sort of attention to them. But I was never in Rush Limbaugh’s target audience, the people who not only listened to his show, but subscribed to his newsletter, bought his horrible books (even a “history” series, for children), attended his speeches and book signings, all the while looking at the sky or their shoes as the man revealed himself: As a serial bridegroom, a sex tourist, a drug addict, an all-around piece of shit from head to toe, from day one to whenever his last breath rattled his larynx.

Ordinary people, those with decency, stumble in all those ways, too. There’s no crime in multiple divorces (although when they come with NDAs you might want to check yourself), in patronizing sex workers, even in addiction. But you’re supposed to learn from these things. They’re supposed to humble you. If they did, the listening audience never got a sense of it.

It all culminated with that ghastly moment at the last State of the Union, when the worst president in history arranged to have his sex-worker wife hang the nation’s highest civilian honor around his neck, cheapening it forever. By then we all knew cancer was going to take him home sooner rather than later. I viciously hoped he’d live long enough to see Trump lose, and he did, but he was happy to walk in the president’s slime trail to the very end. Game recognize game.

Even Lee Atwater repented on his death bed. I guess we’ll have to see whether Mrs. Limbaugh numero quatro tells us what his final words were.

Alan noted that when people Rush Limbaugh didn’t like died, he’d say they “assumed room temperature.” I guess his corpse has gotten there by now. And the world is an incrementally better place today for his loss.

(This being the third entry of the week, I’m going to take the next couple of days off, unless Trump kicks the bucket, too. Then we’ll open the champagne. See you Monday.)

Posted at 2:34 pm in Current events, Media | 113 Comments

My Texas problem.

I have nothing against Texas. I have nothing against any state, really. Each and every state has a collection of terrible and wonderful people, although some of them need to DO BETTER, as the kids say these days. (Looking at you, Idaho. And several others.) Texas is the same as any, but yes, often it makes me weary.

It’s all that yee-haw Texas crap they’re always pulling. Yee-haw, we’re a nation unto ourselves! Yee-haw, we’re ruggedly independent and self-reliant! Yee-haw, let’s secede!

See, I’m old enough to remember the “let ’em freeze in the dark” Texas of the ’70s and ’80s, when they sneered at Michigan residents who were refugeeing to Texas like Okies; the auto industry was on its knees, the weather was awful and they’d heard there were jobs to be had in the oil industry, or the awl bidnis as it’s known down there. Michiganians were called the “black tag people,” as I recall, after the license plate colors of the time. Basically, Texans behaved like Texas-size assholes. I have not forgotten.

Later, when the tables were turned, when the awl bidnis fell on hard times, I don’t recall any of them getting an attitude adjustment. But let’s not be petty. I will be the bigger person here. I will say I am perfectly fine with helping Texas as it suffers through Michigan-like weather it is utterly unprepared for. Only it turns out we cannot help them because the Texas electrical grid is a closed system and why? Because yee-haw Texas, that’s why:

The separation of the Texas grid from the rest of the country has its origins in the evolution of electric utilities early last century. In the decades after Thomas Edison turned on the country’s first power plant in Manhattan in 1882, small generating plants sprouted across Texas, bringing electric light to cities. Later, particularly during the first world war, utilities began to link themselves together. These ties, and the accompanying transmission network, grew further during the second world war, when several Texas utilities joined together to form the Texas Interconnected System, which allowed them to link to the big dams along Texas rivers and also send extra electricity to support the ramped-up factories aiding the war effort.

The Texas Interconnected System — which for a long time was actually operated by two discrete entities, one for northern Texas and one for southern Texas — had another priority: staying out of the reach of federal regulators. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which charged the Federal Power Commission with overseeing interstate electricity sales. By not crossing state lines, Texas utilities avoided being subjected to federal rules. “Freedom from federal regulation was a cherished goal — more so because Texas had no regulation until the 1970s,” writes Richard D. Cudahy in a 1995 article, “The Second Battle of the Alamo: The Midnight Connection.” (Self-reliance was also made easier in Texas, especially in the early days, because the state has substantial coal, natural gas and oil resources of its own to fuel power plants.)

I’m told Texas is, in this emergency, getting a helping hand from Mexico, and brothers and sisters, that is hilarious.

I have only really visited Texas once. We drove across part of the panhandle some years back, passing through Amarillo, home of the American Quarter Horse registry. I recall lots of flat landscapes and…not much else. And I visited Houston for a job interview in 2004. It was…fine, I guess, although I was appalled by the local attitude toward fossil fuels. At least three people told me they’d mastered “air-conditioning the outdoors,” explaining how the roof on the baseball stadium was partially closed, then giant A/C ducts turned down on the spectators. Also, there was something in the parks, I forget. (Yes, I believe I’ve told this story before.)

“I don’t really like hot weather all that much,” I offered, weakly.

“Aw, you’ll change your tune after you spend your first Christmas in shorts!” one editor said. Yee-haw, Texas!

But I understand suffering, and I’m sure that single-digit weather in a place that is absolutely not built for it is miserable. Frozen pipes are miserable. Not having heat because of rolling blackouts? Miserable. Dangerous, even. People will die because they lack coping skills, and as I write this, I believe at least two have already perished from CO poisoning, trying to stay warm in a running car.

But I won’t say let ’em freeze in the dark. It’s a new era, and we need one another. But I will not forgive Ted Cruz. You Texans have to fix that one.

Also, stop building houses in reservoirs, you greedy idiots. You get hurricanes! JFC.

As for the actual dark, here in the land of the black-tag people, we got hammered overnight. The drifts were four inches up the back door this morning, and Wendy was super-bummed about that. I shoveled her out a little pee patch, cleared the back steps, failed to get the snow blower to start and left it to Alan, who is doing it now. More on the way, too, on Thursday, although it’ll be a little warmer. But we have insulation and long underwear and snow plows and know not to let a car be your furnace.

We haven’t air-conditioned the outdoors yet. And I prefer our bearded senator.

OK then, here’s the midweek update, a little early. Gotta start putting the DD newsletter together.

Posted at 10:17 am in Current events | 64 Comments

The flotillas of freedumb.

I keep thinking about the boat parades.

There were several around here that I can recall, and in and around our marina many docked boats flew Trump flags all summer. Part of me can understand why so many Trumpers from that neck of the woods — which is to say, “can afford a boat and a place to run it” — were so stunned by Trump’s loss. The proverbial Pauline Kael effect on the water.

We saw the remnants of a few once or twice when we were out this year, and we all saw the videos. Give them this: They sure looked like the were having fun. It was the Beach Boys formula: Sun + water + friends + air horns + beer + what-have-you = Fun, fun, fun ’til Joe Biden takes the White House awaaaayyy.

I still hear the bewildered, often pouting, comments here and there: But how could Biden have won, when we had huge rallies and boat parades? The idea that some people made up their minds and didn’t feel the need to stand in an airplane hangar for hours listening to the Village People was simply incomprehensible to many Trump supporters. I was plenty enthusiastic about Barack Obama in 2008, and he made a Detroit stop, on Labor Day. Let’s go see the future president, I suggested; as I recall, Alan’s sister was in town, and we all went. By the time we got parked and walked over to Hart Plaza and stood there for-fucking-ever in the hot sun and estimated the bathroom lines and would it be possible to get something to eat with all these people downtown, and, and, all to see him from seemingly miles away — I remember thinking that political speeches without a press credential were simply not worth the trouble, no matter who was speaking.

But that feeling of togetherness you’d get from standing on the deck of your own boat and seeing someone who looks and feels the same way you do in another one, and you’re both blasting “Macho Man” and wearing sunglasses — I could see where that would be powerful.

And it all culminates with the violent sons and daughters of those people ranging through the Capitol, the creepiest ones yelling Naaaaancy. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

So with that transition, a few links, then I’m going downstairs to work out.

Monica Hesse on that creepy call for the Speaker of the House:

Oh, Naaaaaaancy is a very specific scene from a horror movie. Oh, Nancy is what the protagonist hears when she is hiding in a parking garage, or in a stairwell, or crouched under her desk, or pressed flat on the ground in a damp cornfield. Her terror is played out for entertainment, whether that means a narrow escape or a bloody death.

Oh, Naaaaaaancy is said in a singsongy voice. It is the same voice that a child would use to say, Come out, come out, wherever you arrrrre in a backyard game of hide-and-seek tag. It is playful. It is sinister. It says, I am planning to take my time, and it will not be pleasant, and it will not end well for you. The men looking for Pelosi in the Capitol were strolling, not running.

…Some women — and I won’t say all, but I think it is closer to all than none — have heard their own first names called out in this singsong tone. Maybe a woman heard it when the front door clicked open, announcing the homecoming of the boyfriend who hits her sometimes. Or maybe she heard it intoned with flirtation and menace by the unnerving guest at a party; maybe she was hiding in the pantry at the time, concocting her excuse to leave. Or maybe she heard it while lying in bed, eyes wide-open, wishing she hadn’t told the pushy date he could sleep it off on the sofa.


Trump was sicker than he, or his handlers, let on last fall:

The people familiar with Mr. Trump’s health said he was found to have lung infiltrates, which occur when the lungs are inflamed and contain substances such as fluid or bacteria. Their presence, especially when a patient is exhibiting other symptoms, can be a sign of an acute case of the disease. They can be easily spotted on an X-ray or scan, when parts of the lungs appear opaque, or white.

Mr. Trump’s blood oxygen level alone was cause for extreme concern, dipping into the 80s, according to the people familiar with his evaluation. The disease is considered severe when the blood oxygen level falls to the low 90s.

More lies. I am so, so surprised.

The Bidens on the White House lawn, embracing V-Day with their dogs. What a strange and unfamiliar sight.

And now, into the weekend of romance, or at least our weird version of it. See you when it’s over.

Posted at 8:28 am in Current events | 60 Comments

I remember Larry.

Man, that was hard to watch, wasn’t it?

I’m speaking, of course, of the daylong testimony in the impeachment trial, culminating with the last hour or so, when the videos from inside the Capitol were shown. With the very compelling graphics that demonstrated just how close to the senators and representatives that the mob came, you’d think this would be a slam dunk for the Democrats, but as we all know, it won’t be.

Nevertheless, I found myself almost incandescent with fury watching, and I thought I’d already pegged the needle on this one. Worst of all was the police, the outnumbered, overtaxed, why-the-hell-didn’t-they-get-more-backup police, their panicked voices on the radios. For them to be terrorized by this gang of scraggly-beard, stunted-penis, mouth-breathing, misusing-who-and-whom-and-never-mind-less-and-fewer bunch of terra-cotta-toothed* shitheads? It’s enraging.

And they’re going to vote to acquit. Because they suck so, so hard.

Seriously, though, how could anyone watch that and not believe Trump was the architect of the whole thing? I was almost physically sickened by it, and yet, just a few days ago, the majority leader of the Michigan Senate called this whole event “a hoax.” I wonder if he’s nauseous today. My guess is not.

Then, at the end of the day, Larry Flynt died, and I was moved to tweet. This is the first of a long thread, so if you want the rest, click on it and read it on Twitter:

Obviously he was more than a colorful punchline. His porn could be incredibly gross, but he had a certain guilelessness that I always liked. And he was a legit First Amendment warrior. He made political satire safe for everyone. Gotta respect that.

I can’t wait to see how the defense answers what was laid out today. That’s a reason to get up in the morning.

* Original witticism credited to Brett Butler. Apologies for not doing so sooner.

Posted at 9:11 pm in Current events, Media | 27 Comments

Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Feared I was going to miss today’s blog. I was reading the New York Times’ long, long, suuuuper loooong tick-tock on the post-election madness leading up to the Capitol riot. Tick-tock is journalism slang for a story that’s told chronologically. It’s also a table-setter, which is slang for a story that lays the table for the meal to come — in this case, impeachment.

I got through the thing — it must have been a million words — and while I’m not sorry I did, it also revived some anger that was starting to fade. For all the talk of how the night of the inauguration was the return to normalcy, it was only step one. Trauma doesn’t just go away like poof, you have to heal, and that takes time. So while the doomscrolling has eased somewhat, along with the midnight anxiety, we’re still pretty fucking far from OK, as Marcellus Wallace would say. And reading that thing took me all the way back:

The week (after the election) was coming to a particularly demoralizing close: In Arizona, the Trump lawyers were preparing to withdraw their main lawsuit as the state tally showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. leading by more than 10,000 votes, against the 191 ballots they had identified for challenge.

As he met with colleagues to discuss strategy, the president’s deputy campaign manager, Justin Clark, was urgently summoned to the Oval Office. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was on speaker phone, pressing the president to file a federal suit in Georgia and sharing a conspiracy theory gaining traction in conservative media — that Dominion Systems voting machines had transformed thousands of Trump votes into Biden votes.

Mr. Clark warned that the suit Mr. Giuliani had in mind would be dismissed on procedural grounds. And a state audit was barreling toward a conclusion that the Dominion machines had operated without interference or foul play.

Mr. Giuliani called Mr. Clark a liar, according to people with direct knowledge of the exchange. Mr. Clark called Mr. Giuliani something much worse. And with that, the election-law experts were sidelined in favor of the former New York City mayor, the man who once again was telling the president what he wanted to hear.

This fucking moron. An Axios story is far shorter, but just as alarming, in describing a meeting Dec. 18 that went on for hours. Hours! And it wasn’t a pleasant one:

Flynn went berserk. The former three-star general, whom Trump had fired as his first national security adviser after he was caught lying to the FBI (and later pardoned), stood up and turned from the Resolute Desk to face Herschmann.

“You’re quitting! You’re a quitter! You’re not fighting!” he exploded at the senior adviser. Flynn then turned to the president, and implored: “Sir, we need fighters.”

Herschmann ignored Flynn at first and continued to probe Powell’s pitch with questions about the underlying evidence. “All you do is promise, but never deliver,” he said to her sharply.

Flynn was ranting, seemingly infuriated about anyone challenging Powell, who had represented him in his recent legal battles.

Finally Herschmann had enough. “Why the fuck do you keep standing up and screaming at me?” he shot back at Flynn. “If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your ass down.” Flynn sat back down.

And he’s going to be acquitted, again. A just God would make a chicken nugget stick sideways in his windpipe and let the devil take him, but he’ll probably live to be 92. I can’t stand it.

Serenity now!

Anyway, it’s been a pretty good week so far. Got some work done today, closed my rings, lived another day. I hope you do, too. The hell with that groundhog — we gotta live through this.

Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 9:30 pm in Current events | 41 Comments

Why bother?

The other day we watched “Hunger,” which is not “The Hunger,” the sexy, vapid vampire movie directed by Tony Scott, and not “The Hunger Games,” the franchise I lost interest in after part two, but a grim, grim, incredibly grim account of the IRA hunger strikes of the early ’80s in Belfast’s notorious Maze Prison. I knew a little about this, having lived through that era and also, having read “Say Nothing,” the recent history of Northern Ireland, but there was something about seeing it on the screen that underlined just how bleak and ghastly that whole era was, pitting the bullheaded Margaret Thatcher against the even more bullheaded Irish Republican Army, and in the end 10 men starved themselves to death in a brutal prison, to get the attention of the world.

And succeeded, I might add. But what a cost.

Early on, we see the largely self-imposed, horrific conditions the men are living under. They refuse to wear prison clothes because, they say, they aren’t criminals but political prisoners, and won’t wear the uniform of criminals. They want to wear their own clothing. The warden won’t agree to this, so they’re sent to their cells nude, with blankets to cover themselves. That was the so-called blanket protest. Then they used the only weapons at their disposal — their excrement and urine — and smeared the walls of their cells with the former, and poured the latter out into the hallways from under the doors of their cells. This was the “dirty protest.”

(Excrement and urine and other bodily fluids are prison weapons of long standing, any guard can tell you. Or Clarice Starling, who has semen thrown in her face in “The Silence of the Lambs,” as you’ll recall.)

Anyway, I don’t recommend this film for a bleak January night, although it is very good, and Michael Fassbender really outdoes himself prepping for the role of Bobby Sands; he dieted himself down to a veritable skeleton.

Also anyway, I am not sure how to explain how I got onto this, but… oh, right. I was telling Alan that I find myself whipsawed madly between wanting to put on some damn nice clothes and go SOMEWHERE OUTSIDE OUR HOUSE AND KROGER, goddamnit, or just giving up putting on any clothes at all. Since it’s been cold, I’m wearing longjanes most days, and when I come inside, I take off my pants and go around the house in my underwear. My own little blanket protest.

The new, easier-to-catch Covid variant has now been identified at the University of Michigan, which means it’s everywhere, and we’re far from the top of any vaccination priority list, so now we wait. Through the rest of the winter and likely into the spring and who knows, maybe the summer. I hope Biden’s plan gets moving. Flood the damn zone with that stuff.

Because we all know the potential alternative. Condolences, again, to Dexter on the loss of his Carla Lee.

And condolences to anyone who is missing Larry King, even though I can’t imagine why. I was Googling around and found that I wrote about Larry in 2010, but I really wrote about James Wolcott’s hilarious Larry takedown, published after Michael Jackson died. It’s linked within, and I suggest you read it.

Of course Mitch Albom rose to bravely defend King’s moronic interviewing style, but I won’t link to that. You can find it easily enough.

I will link to this NYT piece, by their excellent health reporter, interviewing Dr. Fauci on what it was really like to work for Dipshit Don.

Time to rewrap my blanket and go rustle up dinner, then. The week awaits.

Posted at 6:27 pm in Current events | 72 Comments

Happy anniversary to us.

Wednesday — or maybe it’s Thursday — will be the 20-damn-year anniversary of this stupid blog. Why am I still here? What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve been doing this so long that I was ahead of the curve to even start a blog, plowed through when they collapsed, and now anticipate another swell, now that the psychopaths are being kicked off the social-media platforms.

J.C. got me into this. His blog is still alive, but it has gone into hibernation for months at a time, hell, maybe years. He recently resurrected it, but the last entry was a month ago, so: I guess I win.

I mention J.C. because in my estate folder, there’s an envelope with his name on it. It contains the passwords to all my social media accounts, and bequeaths the millions and millions of words here to him. If he survives me, I ask that he kill my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever other social-media foolishness I get myself into, and in return, he can do whatever he wants with this thing. Publish it as the world’s longest book, download it to a hard drive and fire it into the sun, whatever he thinks best.

But who knows when that will happen? For now, we celebrate! Open the champagne! Put on some peppy tunes! And let’s hope we’re still here in 2021. Alan will be around shortly with the canapés.

But I guess most of you would rather discuss the other momentous event happening Wednesday. I gotta say, every photo I see of Trump looking defeated and pouty is like sweet sweet her-oyne going right up the main line. I expect at least one network I can get via Hulu will cover it live, and if not, there’s always the internet. But I want to see this on a wiiiide screen. It’s not porn; porn would be any Trump or cabinet member taking a perp walk in handcuffs. But it’ll do.

Speaking of deep satisfaction, check this out: The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran an editorial calling for Sen. Ron Johnson to resign. He bitched and demanded a response, which they allowed him to submit. But! The editors footnoted it. It’s hilarious.

Oh, and this: The just-released 1776 report? Has a major cut-and-paste section.

Read it between swearings-in. Our long national nightmare is…not over, but not quite as awful as it was maybe yesterday.

Posted at 9:00 pm in Current events, Housekeeping | 140 Comments

The rabbit hole of one’s navel.

My “big” Christmas present this year — no, last year — is an Apple Watch. I told Alan it was too extravagant, but he didn’t have a better idea, so now I have Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist TV strapped to my arm, and I kinda like it.

A committed and unapologetic Apple cult member, I hadn’t felt the need to pull the trigger on the watch until recently. With typical master of the universe skill and timing, Apple has, in a pandemic, gone all in on “health” with the latest model, and I am SO THERE for it.

However. I have some thoughts.

First, what I like: The A.W. is the first fully immersible fitness tracker I’ve cared to own, and one reason I was looking forward to our trip to Florida was for the chance to test it out in our condo complex’s 25-yard pool (with two lap lanes!). It worked, well, swimmingly. As a lap swimmer who’s been deprived of water for months, it was frankly thrilling to, first, actually get in a pool, and then to be able to read all about it afterward. And boy, was I able to read about it.

This thing tracks the number of laps you turn and your total yardage — yes, all things you could carry in your head if you can keep focused enough to count while you’re swimming — as well as your heart rate and range. And it even knows what strokes I did. Sorcery! How do it know? (I’m sure J.C. will be forwarding me some links within a few minutes.) I mean, I can figure it out, a little — breaststroke has a distinctly different arm motion than freestyle, and I guess it can detect it — but backstroke is far more similar, and it picked up my single backstroke 50. Sorcery! Satellites! Spycams!

It also does a million other things: Tracks your heart rate and rhythm, your blood oxygen, your periods (shoved that one off to the side, crone that I am), and of course your movements. I enabled every notification, to see which ones I want to live with, and which I can do without. When I was drying my hands in an airport bathroom, it told me that I was in a 100-decibel environment and that wasn’t good for my ears. The hand washing timer is sometimes a pain, but not too bad. I’m reminded to take a moment every so often to do some deep breathing. It tells me to stand for one minute every hour. Needless to say, you can add apps for food and sleep and really dive down the rabbit hole of your own navel. And so on.

And that brings me to the thing I least like: The prodding. While the data can translate to real accountability — it’s a lot harder to skip a workout when you know your watch will be sending notifications like “you still have time!” — I also try to be aware of how it’s leading me around by the nose.

I subscribed to the NYT crossword about a year ago, because I like doing crosswords online, but I hate-hate-hate the “streak” feature, which keeps track of how many days in a row you’ve successfully solved the puzzle. My nature runs to good-studenthood, and whether it’s my watch or my crossword puzzle, anything that pats me on the back and says good job! is going to sucker me in. I don’t like to be like this. And yet I am.

That said, I should probably try to get a workout in later today. Also, let’s take a moment to savor the irony that many of the rioters who invaded the Capitol would refuse to get a Covid vaccine for fear of being microchipped, but willingly carried smartphones with them as they climbed through the broken windows; i.e., they microchipped themselves. LOL. Pro tip from every law enforcement officer in the world: If you’re gonna do a crime, leave your phone at home.

So much good journalism about the Capitol riot, but if I had one piece to recommend, it might be this New Yorker piece, but it’s the New Yorker, so you may face a paywall. Still, it’s very you-are-there:

When Babbitt was shot, I was on the opposite side of the Capitol, where people were growing frustrated by the empty halls and offices.

“Where the fuck are they?”

“Where the fuck is Nancy?”

No one seemed quite sure how to proceed. “While we’re here, we might as well set up a government,” somebody suggested.

Then a man with a large “AF ” flag—college-age, cheeks spotted with acne—pushed through a series of tall double doors, the last of which gave onto the Senate chamber.

“Praise God!”

There were signs of a hasty evacuation: bags and purses on the plush blue-and-red carpet, personal belongings on some of the desks. From the gallery, a man in a flak jacket called down, “Take everything! Take all that shit!”

“No!” an older man, who wore an ammo vest and held several plastic flex cuffs, shouted. “We do not take anything.” The man has since been identified as Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.

The young America Firster went directly to the dais and installed himself in the leather chair recently occupied by the Vice-President. Another America Firster filmed him extemporizing a speech: “Donald Trump is the emperor of the United States…”

Ai-yi-yi, these people.

OK, back to the Sunday papers and errands.

Posted at 12:49 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 86 Comments

Belated postcards.

And now we have returned. It was a nice trip, a too-short trip, but we’re back, and I guess I’m as happy as one can be, when one has returned from a warm, light-filled climate to a cold, dark one. Not that the weather was perfect when we were there. It was warm, but overcast, and when it was sunny, it was chilly. “Chilly” is a relative term, of course; say… 64 degrees.

In Key West, you can spot the locals because they’re the ones wearing down puffer jackets when it’s 64 degrees.

They also ride bikes everywhere. The last time I was there, literally 40 years ago, it was more of a ramshackle place, and there were cars and parking spaces to go with them. Now the big money has flowed in, and money changes, and ruins, everything. Not that Key West is ruined, but it’s definitely a richer place now. There’s far less parking. And here’s the big thing: Everyone locks their bikes now. I don’t remember this from 1980. The bikes were crap — single-speed things that didn’t even have handlebar grips, half the time. They’re not much better now. But you still better lock it up.

Mostly, it was nice to get away. I know it was irresponsible, but it was as responsible as travel can be now, I guess: Tested negative ahead of time, masked through the entire airport/flight, drove down in a car, stayed in a condo, masked here there and everywhere, etc. Alan got his day of flats fishing, I did some reading, it was fine and fun.

Of course I told myself I was going to try to unplug from the news for a while. Of course this was impossible, after Wednesday. About which I have little to add, except that I’m so glad this horrible era is ending, kinda. More or less. A new chapter, anyway.

How about some pictures?

Here’s a Hemingway cat, displaying what makes him special.

Chicken in a tree:

The line — yes, the line — to take a picture at the Southernmost Point:

Two final notes before the weekend arrives: Let’s keep the best thoughts, the best prayers, for Dexter’s wife, who is in intensive care with Covid. We wish her the very best.

Finally, a history of the Trump era through stories about toilets. Yes:

From the very beginning, the First Couple experienced the White House primarily as a place with dissatisfactory facilities for depositing their bodily waste. Melania delayed her move into the residence, former senior adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff revealed, because she “didn’t want to move to the White House right away in part because she didn’t want to have to use the same shower and toilet as former first lady Michelle Obama.”

The president soon began to take pride in the elegant appearance of the White House lavatories. Trump “has an odd affinity for showing off bathrooms, including one he renovated near the Oval Office,” reported the Times in 2017.

What wonderful people.

Posted at 8:57 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments

A satisfactory result.

This winning stuff feels good, and I for one am not tired of it yet.

Still, going forward a few things are clear now: We’re still pretty fucked. When “counting votes” becomes known as “a dump,” we’re fucked. Until the MAGAts from “Qtah” and elsewhere move on to collecting vintage farm implements or Barbies or something, my guess is, we’re fucked. Winning these elections is important, but as we all know, the margins were tight enough to let us know: We’re fucked, at least for a while.

I’m reminded, while watching tantrums like this…

…and this…

…that many of these people aren’t really into politics so much as they are just into licking Donald Trump’s boots. They still haven’t learned the first rule of politics: Win some, lose some. The ol’ Time in the Wilderness cliché. And so on. So they’ll either grow up a little and learn what this is all about, or…not. Cults that don’t explode in dramatic fashion (Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate) tend to trickle away, a little at a time, as followers become disillusioned. I don’t see Trump leading a mass suicide, so we can hope for the trickle.

Meanwhile, a Trump lawyer who advanced crackpot legal gambits and possible felonies resigned from her respectable law firm, and that, too, is good news. The sooner real consequences are faced, the better.

And now for the main event, the certification and whatever violence the Proud Boys get up to today. Making the popcorn now.

Also, signing out for our trip to Florida. We have our negative Covid tests, we have our KN95 masks, we have TSA Pre to avoid the lines. Traveling may be irresponsible, but we are trying to be responsible in our irresponsibility. Maybe a photo post between now and next week, but if not, rest assured we are relaxing.

Posted at 8:47 am in Current events | 252 Comments