Lunch with Donald.

This was the game plan for Trump: Park somewhere remote, then take the People Mover to Cobo, where you get off inside the building and don’t have to navigate — don’t even have to see — the demonstrators outside. And that’s pretty much how it worked; a $7 parking spot in Greektown, a brief train ride and into the a/c and pleasant convention-center groove of…a convention center. The credentialing was a snap, the Secret Service wand-down chill, and into the auditorium, set up to accommodate somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000.

I was thinking this would not be a friendly crowd. Not hostile — the Detroit Economic Club emphasizes the clubbiness, and gentlepeople don’t do hostile face-to-face — but not much more than polite applause. These are Republicans, but Bush/Rubio/Kasich Republicans. America doesn’t need to be made great again, because for these titans of industry/C-suiters/middle managers on the way up, America is already pretty great. They’d like tax relief, of course, but when have American businessmen ever not wanted that? Detroit still runs on the auto industry, and it was recently saved from rack and ruin by none other than Barack Obama, Tim Geithner, et al. If that doesn’t make America pretty damn great for these folks, I don’t know what would.

Maybe the thunderous applause was just them being polite. I don’t know.

I do know this. After an introduction by Mike Pence (who was himself introduced as a graduate of the “University of Indiana”), out came the man himself, and it was clear from the outset that, as it was in Cleveland, this would be a teleprompter deal. Prompter Trump is a different animal. His vocabulary increases in size and complexity (somewhat, anyway). He swings between the screens like a pendulum, a phrase or two left, center, right. He reads well, pronounces well, but like a lot of kids I’ve tutored in reading over the years, punctuation other than periods is a struggle. He doesn’t seem to understand that a sentence can carry over to the next line, so that a passage like this…

When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit.

…sounds like this:

When we abandoned the policy. Of America First. We started rebuilding other countries. Instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing. And in many other cities around the world. While the factories and neighborhoods. Crumbled in Detroit.

I put the meter at a type of free-form anapestic — dat dat DAH, dat dat DAH. It’s different from the way he speaks when he’s freestylin’, so you know immediately that he’s on the prompter. Not a criticism, just an observation.

So that’s how it started. After “crumbled in Detroit” began the first big set piece of the speech, which committed the first sin that every carpetbagger, parachuted-in journalist/analyst does here, which is to conflate the three Detroits: the city, the metro area and the auto industry. They shouldn’t be.

Conservatives often make this mistake, to reel off the horrible statistics from the city — the unemployment, the crime, the illiteracy, all of it — and pretend it’s all the result of Democratic governance. (Or, in the usual phrase, “Democrat governance.”) This ignores pretty much every major factor that led to the city’s decline, and there are dozens. The automation of factories. Freeways. Sprawl. Ethnic tensions. Rising prosperity; have you seen a Detroit workingman’s bungalow? Would you like to raise three or four or five kids in 1,000 square feet once you were making enough money to afford better? And the stinking 900-pound primate in the room, race.

No, to people spinning this talking point, it’s all about taxes and welfare and Those People, who Just Don’t Want to Work For a Living. Under this argument, San Francisco and New York should be on the canvas by now, but whatever.

So here is Donald Trump, standing in front of a couple thousand mostly affluent white people, dressed in suits and ties and dresses and pantyhose, telling them they live in a shithole of misery:

In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda. Every policy that has failed this city, and so many others, is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton.

She supports the high taxes and radical regulation that forced jobs out of your community…and the crime policies that have made you less safe…and the immigration policies that have strained local budgets…and the trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries… and she supports the education policies that deny your students choice, freedom and opportunity.

Shipped whose jobs to Mexico? Not these people’s jobs. In fact, they did the shipping. Education policies that support choice have been well-established in Michigan for decades now, pushed and supported by Republicans. And immigration policies? That’s rich, considering this place was about as spicy an immigrant stew as you could find outside of Ellis Island, and still is. They couldn’t have run those giant factories with the Trump kids; they needed people willing to get dirty and work hard for a little bit of money, and then a little bit more.

So you can see right there that he’s losing me.

But then the hecklers started. These were Code Pink-types who’d stand up, start screaming and be hustled out by security. One after another, all but one women. They started before that passage above, in fact, when he was still in his thanks-for-inviting-me pleasantries, and continued, every few minutes, for about the first half hour. With each ejection, the cheering got louder. He started winning the crowd, not for the mumbo-jumbo coming out of his mouth, but because the people who got in to yell at him were worse.

I know the DEC was embarrassed by this. Tickets are not available to the general public, although members can bring guests. They don’t do shit like this, especially to national figures. As the ejections went on and on — 14 in all — it only made Trump look better, because he didn’t react. He just stood mute until the shouter was outside, then went on.

And he did go on. There was a laundry list of promises, mostly latter-day Reaganomics. Tax cuts, of course:

I am proposing an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans. This will lead to millions of new good-paying jobs.

How? As Boon said to Otter: Forget it, he’s rolling.

Three brackets instead of seven. A top corporate rate of 15 percent. All from the GOP wish list. This was a big applause line:

Finally, no family will have to pay the death tax. American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death – it’s just plain wrong. We will repeal it.

An auditorium full of people whose net worth put them in estate-tax territory loved that one.

On it went. Coal’s coming back. So is steel. American steel is going to “send new skyscrapers soaring.” It’s going into “the spine of this nation.” By now he’s in the last-20-minutes-in-Cleveland mode:

We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place.

We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them.

Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results.

We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America.

And then it was over. Standing ovation. Thunderous applause. Not the polite kind.

Cobo has a glass-walled front, and as I was walking out, I could see the demonstration outside. It looked pretty peaceful, although there were a couple of scuffles here and there. Two suit-and-tie gents were walking near me.

“I like that 15 percent, I’ll say that,” one said, before looking out at the crowd and wondering, “How do they get to spend a Monday doing that?”

“They don’t work,” the other scoffed.

We’re in trouble, guys.

Some links: The Freep fact-check of the speech. The NYT’s take, with fact-checking embedded. Another local analysis. A good one from Forbes. And one more, from a Freep business columnist.

And me, I’m back to my day job. See you tomorrow.

Posted at 8:44 am in Current events | 43 Comments

Not him.

Like Neil Steinberg, I am having Trump fatigue. So let’s handle him with a very light touch today, shall we? It’s Friday, after all. How about a cocktail to start?


This is why the countertops to the right of my sink are always sticky — it’s Alan’s bartending station. To be sure, he’s made us some awesome cocktails this summer, and here we have the elements of the Skeleton Key, a cocktail said to be invented here. It was imagined to be a Halloween drink, but it’s very refreshing for summer, and last weekend being payday, we got the name-brand ingredients. And they’re pretty sticky, but it’s nice having a good mixologist under the roof.

Moving on! What would you do if your plane landed belly-down — that is, with the landing gear up and not where it’s supposed to be — slid to a stop with an engine in flames, and the captain comes on the intercom to say EVACUATE THE AIRCRAFT NOW? If you answered anything other than “try to retrieve my bag from the overhead bin,” you must not be flying on Air Emirates. Everyone got away alive, but man.

And with that, enjoy your weekend, all.

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events | 67 Comments

Evicting the squatter.

Those of you who’ve been through therapy, or who have a friend who’s been through therapy and held your hand and refilled your glass for hours that night when you poured out your soul about that asshole, that prick, that king-hell bitch of a boss/ex-wife/ex-husband/no-goodnik who did you wrong — if you’ve been in that situation, ever, you’ve probably heard this line:

“Why are you letting them live in your head rent-free?”

Clever, to the point, sometimes it resets your thinking, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the eviction of the squatter in your head has to be done at a later date, but eventually, it has to be done.

This is how I feel about Donald Trump; this is what I was talking about when I said I didn’t know how much more of this campaign I could take. I’m just so, so tired of the endless tweets and posts and blogs and what-have-you about him, and I want to talk about something else. I want him out of my head, because he has clogged the toilet and smeared the bathtub with grime and left his hair products all over the sink and otherwise made himself unwelcome up there.

That said, he’s coming to town Monday to speak to the Detroit Economic Club, and I’m going to try to get a credential. The DEC is very much GOPe people, in the main, with some Democrats sprinkled in there. There will surely be supporters in the crowd, but this will be no Trump rally by any measure. They always ask a few questions, pre-vetted by the chair, and I don’t expect anything incendiary, but it’s worth giving up a lunch hour for sure.

We’ll see how it goes.

That said, the latest from the squatter between my ears:

I didn’t think it was possible to be more offended by this guy, but after watching the clip of him showing off a Purple Heart — a Purple Heart! — given to him by a veteran, making a joke about how he “always wanted one,” but didn’t think “it would be this easy,” something inside me just curdled. Alan’s father earned three of them, and his war wounds probably shortened his life by a decade, and did who-knows-what to the inside of his head. Where is the bottom of this barrel? What hell lies below this one? Who, who in the world with Trump’s resume, particularly where his lack of military service is concerned, would accept such an offer? What sentient human being wouldn’t tuck it back into that veteran’s hand and say, “This is something special, and while I’m honored by your gesture, it would be wrong for me to take it.” Donald Trump, that’s who.

Oh, enough of him. How about another one cut from the same bolt of cloth, James O’Keefe? He was in town on Election Day, and guess what he did? Tried to vote for a number of high-profile people, including members of the Free Press editorial board, one of whom wrote a column about his actions.

O’Keefe. What a douchebag. I commented on Facebook that if Ted Cruz is the most punchable face in America, this guy has to be the silver medalist.

You guys all saw the tweetstorm by John Noonan, who was Jeb Bush’s national security advisor, right? It ain’t pretty.

Mentioning the silver medalist makes me think of the Olympics, starting this weekend. I plan to watch that swimming until all I can see is blue.

And that’s it for me today. Here’s to a calmer tomorrow.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events | 48 Comments

What if we’re doing it wrong?

One reason the campaign so far is driving me insane is the… well, pretty much everything, but mostly the yelling at one another. I think it’s safe to say virtually everyone in my social-media feeds are anti-Trump — the conservatives may be pro-Trump, but not vocally so — and are ramping up the rhetoric weekly, daily, maybe some even hourly. He’s the orange ape, the deranged Cheetoh, Drumpf, etc. He’s a threat to the republic. He’s a fascist. He’s a disgrace. And so on and on and on.

None of it seems to be doing any good. If Trump is flagging (and I’m not sure he is), he has only himself to blame. But here’s what keeps nagging at me: What if this is part of the plan?

What if Paul Manafort is saying, “Apologize to the Khans? Fuck that shit — double down! Mention Cruz’ daddy again. And say no one cares if Melania did a lesbian photo shoot because she’s prettier than Hillary. The base loves porn, especially girl-on-girl. Be yourself! The people love you!”

In other words, we are directing our outrage and shaming at someone who is honestly incapable of feeling it. In some ways, Trump no longer worries me; the people advising him do. Manafort isn’t stupid. Roger Stone may be a snake, but he’s not dumb, either. Are they only in it for the paychecks? Why would you be in it for a paycheck when your client is a known welsher? Mike Pence is finished; once you stand before an audience, in this campaign, and rebuke the president for “name-calling,” how can you ever be taken seriously again? (In Pence’s case, we might ask how he was ever taken seriously in the first place.) But is Manafort? Or anyone else working on this campaign? I doubt it.

I worry that we’re fighting the last war, as the saying about bad generals goes. Clay Shirky, in his tweetstorm a few days back, said we’re bringing fact checkers to a culture war, implying we’re setting ourselves up for ruin. He’s right, but what’s the alternative? I still believe in facts. What are we supposed to do, have Hillary tag-team John Cena and settle this in a wrestling ring?

Now here I am, all worked up again. Time for some talking dogs!

OK, a little bloggage: This girl, a swimmer and Syrian refugee competing in the Rio games as part of the first-ever refugee team, won’t advance beyond her preliminary heat, but in the Olympics of Awesomeness? She’s a multi-gold medalist:

After four days, Mardini and her sister were packed with 18 other people, including a 6-year-old boy, on a dinghy meant to accommodate six. On their first attempt, they were caught by border agents and sent back. On their second, the engine died after about 20 minutes, and the dinghy took on water.

…Of the 20 people on board, only the Mardini sisters and two young men knew how to swim, so the four of them jumped overboard. It was about 7 at night, and the turning tide had made the sea harsh and choppy.

Mardini and her sister swam for three and a half hours, helping the boat stay on course — even when the two male swimmers gave up and let the dinghy pull them along. It was cold, Mardini said. Her clothes dragged her down, and salt burned her eyes and skin.

“I’m thinking, what? I’m a swimmer, and I’m going to die in the water in the end?” she said.

But she was determined to keep a good attitude — and not just for her own sake.

“The little kid kept looking at me, scared,” she said, “so I was doing all these funny faces.”

Now there’s an Olympian worthy of the title.

Another great Josh Marshall observation on who else?

And with that, we reach Wednesday. Time to start writing a Big Thing, for me.

Posted at 12:01 am in Current events | 49 Comments

Woo doggies.

And the Trump-Kahn fiasco is entering its, what? Fifth day? I think this calls for some terrier racing.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events | 52 Comments

Here, kitty.

Folks, I don’t know how much more of this I can handle. The campaign, you know. It’s barely started — it hasn’t started, if you consider Labor Day the formal kickoff, a quaint idea we might want to consider reviving — and I don’t think I can drink from this firehose much longer. If Donald Trump’s campaign strategy is going to consist of saying outrageous shit twice a day, my only options will be leaving social media, gouging my eyes out or moving to Sakhalin Island until Thanksgiving.

Keep in mind, it is my job to pay attention to politics, at least at the state level, so add one more layer to the madness. The bright side: We have far fewer Trumps in Michigan, although I’m sure a few will pop up soon. The state’s primary is tomorrow.

I simply lack the capacity to sustain this level of outrage for the duration. So if you pop into this page and see a kitten video here and nothing else, know that I’m rebooting in an attempt to stay sane.

I’m also taking a bit of time off from posting links to election stuff, unless I feel fairly sure it’s something most of you haven’t seen yet. Trying to keep up is too damn distracting from my real work.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. I worked at home four out of five workdays, so by Friday I was ready to jump the damn fence. We went to a new Chinese-ish place in what used to be Detroit’s Chinatown. I guess there really was one, once upon a time. It was a block or two long. Anyway, this place serves small plates (because every new place does, now), and when I say Chinese-ish I emphasize the -ish. Case in point: The cheeseburger eggroll, which sounds awful but was delicious. We sat by the window, the better to see the obviously poor family on the other side of the street, who had pulled up a couple of strollers to visit, while the kids played on the sidewalk and tree planters. That’s Detroit’s Cass Corridor in one frame, right there.

Saturday was the traditional million errands followed by a fine dinner and movie. Which was? “Midnight Special,” a film I hadn’t even heard of until Saturday night. We’re generally not supernatural-thriller people, but damn if it wasn’t half bad, buoyed by a fantastic cast. Whoever said there are no small parts, only small actors must have been thinking of Sam Shepard, who has one or two brief scenes and makes you want to want to follow him offscreen, just to see what he does next. Add Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst, and you want to follow everybody offscreen. Even the detective from “The Night Of” is in this, and makes a single line resonate.

The story? Meh. But I liked the execution.

And now the week ahead yawns. Not much bloggage (see above, me going around with my hands over my ears), but there was this splendid tale of how the home pregnancy test went from a to-the-trade item only to something in every drugstore. Of course a woman was behind it.

I’m going to think Sunday-evening thoughts now: What’s for dinner, is the laundry done, will this season of “Ray Donovan” turn around. You think your Monday thoughts, and I’ll see you soon.

Posted at 12:09 am in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments

Showing up every day.

I hope it isn’t too embarrassing to admit this, but since I’ve started working for a policy magazine, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how difficult good policymaking — i.e., politics, law-making, what goes on in capitol buildings — really is. (Even bad policymaking isn’t exactly a cakewalk.) I also understand better how so much of our political rhetoric works against good policy — the idea that “career politicians” are the problem, that term limits are the solution, to name but two. I will grant you that politics ain’t exactly eye surgery, but when was the last time you asked for less expertise in any service provider? “I don’t want a career mechanic working on my car; let’s let this guy with no experience open the hood and see what’s what,” said no sane person ever.

Again, I grant you that the idea of citizen lawmakers, who come together in session to consider the needs of the republic, then disperse back into their roles as farmers and insurance salesmen and high-school math teachers, is an attractive one, and not without merit. I only ask that those farmers and insurance salesmen and teachers be the best goddamn policymakers that we can find, and in this day and age, that means they’re pretty much policymakers, period. Governing is complicated. It’s not the 18th century anymore. There are 320 million people in this country, millions of them in each state (for the most part). You can’t get together, discuss solutions to the sheep on the commons problem and then ride your horse home anymore. People who believe this can still be done either live in very small or low-population states, mostly in the west, or they’re Hoosiers. Although they’re listed as a hybrid on this map, Indiana has every-other-year “short” and “long” sessions that meet for only a few weeks or months at a time. Coming from Ohio’s capital city, it was a shock.

Michigan has term limits, and when you talk to the permanent residents of Lansing — lobbyists and the stewards of the zillion-and-one nonprofit organizations that advocate for pretty much everything — they talk about the teaching-and-learning that must go on when every election cycle brings in a sizable freshman class who need to be brought up to speed on so, so much. Most of them have some political experience, so they’re not totally ignorant, but no one knows everything, and most are stepping into a wider arena than they previously occupied. So they have to learn, for example, how we fund mass transit in the state, who the players are, what’s needed, what needs upgrading, what the stakes are for the people who depend on it, and because it’s mass transit, what needs to be coordinated with Washington, and, and… It gets tiring. Repeat for education, health care, roads and bridges, agriculture, etc. It gets really tiring.

A running theme in our discussions here is the War on Taxes, the Let’s Drown Government in the Bathtub movement, the general, from-the-right idea that the best government is not only that which governs least, but that which barely exists. I don’t think of myself as anything more radical than a left-leaning moderate, and I’ve come to believe that idea is a big part of why our politics seems so broken. We have contempt for the people who practice it. Every cycle, we throw in a new bunch of not-career-politicians, and then wonder why they haven’t performed a miracle with less revenue in their allotted time.

Face it: It takes real dedication, or true masochism, to stay in politics for very long these days. So I was intrigued by the argument John Scalzi makes in this piece, which one of you sharp commenters already linked to, but let’s let the non-comments-reading readers see it. After explaining his philosophy of service to self and others, he gets to it:

I think that Clinton has shown amply over the years that, whatever personal ambitions or her willingness to cash a check for speaking fees (and as an ambitious person who occasionally speaks for money, I don’t see either as inherently a problem), time and again she’s put herself in service. Not with 100% success and not without flaws even when successful, but there are none of us perfect, and the end result of her putting herself back into the arena again and again is that much of that service has had an impact. Her ambition and service are not just about her and what it gets her. She’s done much, and at a high level, for others.


But Hillary Clinton is — is what, exactly? A criminal? Corrupt? Dishonest? Evil? Terrible? Awful? A bitch? Satan in a pantsuit ensemble? As I’ve noted before, a quarter century of entirely outsized investigations into her life and actions have come up with nothing criminal or found corruption that rises to indictable levels. As for the rest of it, whatever Clinton’s own personal characteristics, she also had the misfortune of stepping into the political spotlight concurrent to the GOP wholesale adopting the Gingrich playbook of demonizing the opposition. She’s has an entire political party and its media apparatus spending two full decades telling the world she’s a bitch, and evil, and a criminal. It’s still happening; the Republican National Convention resounded with the words lock her up, lock her up, lock her up. And yet she is still here. She is still in service. Now, you can see that as ego or delusion or the inability to take a hint. I see it as an unwillingness to yield the floor to those whose political playbook is simply “demonize your opponent,” with the rest to be figured out later.

He’s right about the two full decades thing, although it was a little longer. She was the one who coined the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and it turns out? She was right. Richard Mellon Scaife did fund the American Spectator’s campaign to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton. Fox News does have a memo of the day that lays out political talking points. Anyone who doesn’t notice this isn’t paying attention.

And after being examined like an ant under a magnifying glass for almost a quarter-century, what do they have on her? Not bloody much. And she’s still working. She could have retired years ago, and she hasn’t. Honestly, to still be in the game at this point? She’s either the world’s biggest masochist, or in it because she wants to make a difference.

By this point, she’s experienced. Give her that, if nothing else. She’s spent her career working as a lawyer in a state capitol, a political spouse, a U.S. Senator, a cabinet secretary, a nonprofit foundation executive – a well-rounded resume that’s allowed her to see the sausage-making from farm to table. And for much of that time, her every move has been examined, by people who despise her. Despise her. As bad as the abuse heaped on Barack Obama has been the last eight years, it’s been maybe worse for Hillary Clinton. This piece is humorous, but every charge on it has been made, in all seriousness, by the people who hate her. Last night I stuck a toe in right-wing Twitter. The voice! The boring stuff! OMG, can you imagine four years of this? (Well, yes I can. Ask anyone who lived through the Bush administrations.)

The election is still months away, and a lot — a lot — can happen in that time. But if she prevails, I will feel all my complicated feelings about her, but one thing I’ll be certain of is that she’s no dilettante. She is competent. She’ll make mistakes, as we all do, but after all this time, the fact she’s still in the game says something important about her.

So there.

Open thread for convention chatter again. The links I could post are already outdated, so nothing from me right now. I had a little string gathered on the men’s-rights people swooning over “alpha” Donald Trump, but it makes me sad to look at it, and in the end, I’m afraid it wouldn’t even make a bird’s nest. So let’s let that go.

And have a great weekend. Heat’s broken here. Hope it has where you are, too.

Posted at 9:07 am in Current events | 55 Comments

Brave new diners.

The sushi was delicious, if you’re wondering. This particular bar/restaurant has a “takeover Tuesday” every week, when guest chefs come in and do something new and different. It’s a cool idea, imperfectly executed, in that the regular kitchen staff and the waitstaff just take the night off. So it’s not just a new menu, it’s new servers and, well, anarchy of a sort. The place was full when I arrived, angling for seating for four. There were no rules about sections or seating, just take whatever you can grab. A six-top arrived five minutes after me and had their eyes on the same table.

(Guess who was sitting at the table, which could have comfortably accommodated five? One guy, working on a laptop, drinking a beer. I tried to displace him through my thought beams.)

Readers, I had to bigfoot the six-top, and readers, I felt bad about it. But when there are no rules, you make up your own.

This new dining culture in Detroit is simultaneously wonderful and baffling. The food is so much better than it was when we arrived, it hardly bears mentioning. But as we saw about a million times on “Top Chef,” just because you can put a great meal on the table doesn’t mean you know how to run a restaurant, and that lesson is harder to learn. Lots of the new places don’t take reservations and many don’t have phones. Nothing like making your way to the hot new place and discovering there’s a 90-minute wait. I have a young friend who sets aside Friday as date night with his girlfriend, and I rely on him for intel on whether I can even get near a hot new place. Lately we find them when they’re only lukewarm; we were delighted to get immediate seating at one farm-to-table something-or-other a few months ago, and the food was quite good. A week later we heard it was on its last legs and would likely close within a month. (It remains open.)

But that sushi was great. Had a pancake something-or-other, and a noodle thingie, and some rolls, and some sashimi, and some vegetable tempura. That’s the other thing about the new dining scene — there are robust vegetarian and vegan options everywhere, and while I’m neither, it’s nice to have someone paying attention to the vegetables, because they’re damn tasty. I recall my last meal at a local chain that’s often recommended by people who live in the ‘burbs. “Sooooo good!” they enthuse. It isn’t, but it has a lot of locations, it’s Italian, and we happened to be in one of their neighborhoods when we were hungry and it was open. I didn’t want a pasta pile or cheese explosion, so I ordered something from the heart-healthy, light menu, a lentil or bean thing I thought might include tomatoes and some Mediterranean seasonings. Utterly devoid of any seasonings, much less Mediterranean ones, it tasted like the gruel they serve on a hospital cardiac ward, dished up by Nurse Ratched. I put down my fork after a few bites and declared I would never, ever spend another dollar in this shithole, or any other of their other locations, and I haven’t, and I won’t.

I can put up with a lot of hipster bullshit when I remember the old alternative.

So! Bill’s speech last night! I didn’t last through it, but I heard the opening, and as he got into the groove, I could tell the old dog still had it. His voice is diminished, his body is diminished, but it’s going to take a lot more to put him down, and he’s a long way from down. So Rachel got her knickers in a twist because he said he “met a girl?” Oh, girl, please. And here I thought you had a sense of humor, or at least perspective. Whatever.

Tonight is POTUS, of course. By the time you read this, he’ll be on Marine One or Limo One or maybe kicking it in his jammies in a nice Philly hotel suite. So tell me how it went, ’cause I won’t see these comments until Thursday morning. As I write this, Gabby Giffords has just given her speech, and oh my. That woman.

So I’m settling in for the rest of it. Have some bloggage:

Jill Stein is just awful.

The incomprehensible mystery of the Clintons’ marriage.

Tonight’s non-convention activity: Reading more Susan Faludi, and trying to decide whether we should refinance the house. Woo, adulting! Have a great Thursday, all.

Posted at 12:18 am in Current events, Detroit life | 65 Comments

Sushi night.

Oh, you guys. My lovely, lovely readers. Where would this stupid blog be without you? Monday night was a late night for me, if “late” means “feeling sweaty and unwilling to sit in front of a screen for another 45 minutes to an hour.” I’d tell you I watched the convention, but I didn’t watch much of it. Sue me. I edited a cover letter for a friend and read a little in “In the Darkroom,” Susan Faludi’s great memoir about investigating her estranged father, who had gender-reassignment surgery late in life.

(Alex, this is going to you when I’m done. Not because you have a particular interest in trans issues, but because her dad is Hungarian, and much of the narrative takes place in Budapest.)

So I missed the FLOTUS speech, but after reading the raves today, I looked it up and watched it over my lunch hour today. Outstanding. Talk about someone who slays all day. Beyonce has nothing on FLOTUS (and I suspect she knows this; I suspect, if FLOTUS decided to try a little career in pop music next year, Bey would retire or maybe take a job as one of her backup dancers).

I promise I’ll watch more tonight, but I’m attending a sushi pop-up Tuesday night and may not be into it tonight, either. Truth be told, I generally find following it on Twitter more entertaining and time-efficient. And of course, you guys are invaluable.

So I’m going to post this on Tuesday afternoon, and I’ll see you again in 36 hours or so. With a sushi review! Maybe.

I discovered the “Keepin’ it 1600” podcast over the weekend, and that may be my second-favorite way to enjoy the conventions. This is produced by Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer, former Obama aides who now do their own thing and enjoy the freedom of doing a podcast full of laughter and casual profanity. Like lots of podcasts, it’s way too long — lookin’ at you, Marc Maron — even while you enjoy every minute of it. But I have been chuckling over one passage all day, which I’ll try to paraphrase: “I voted for the first time in the election of 1994, and if you’d told me then that I would still be having to see Newt Gingrich speaking at conventions 22 years later, I’d never have believed you.”

Any other podcast recommends? They make me feel guilty, because I’ve found they generally require a more focused attention than regular old music-on-the-radio, but I can rarely devote an hour or more to them. And I’m out of the radio habit. But I want to be open-minded. So throw ’em out there.

Quick bloggage before I book out of here:

Does anyone care about Milo Yiannopoulos? I don’t, but I guess he’s someone who begs for attention, so here ya go.

Speaking of profanity, but the funny stuff, the case for Hillary, by “Hillary.”

I know you’ll keep me posted on what I need to watch tomorrow. For now, post away here.

Posted at 3:43 pm in Current events | 85 Comments

Make America suspicious again.

After the week we had, it was nice to have a nice, boring weekend, where it was too hot to do much but chores around the house, the usual errands, a little shopping and the neighborhood block party. I brought Mark Bittman’s corn salad, which I recommend if you have a little mint growing in the yard, and who doesn’t? I hope your neighbors like it. I sat quietly (heat; 90 degrees) and looked around, trying to imagine who’s voting for Trump.

That’s what the events of last week did to me.

Later, we chatted with one of our closer-in neighbors, who told us a lively story about the time in 2004 she was cited for putting up a Kerry sign more than 30 days before the election. A neighbor — a neighbor who had an enormous sign in his own yard reading I SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH AND OUR TROOPS — complained. The police explained that his wasn’t political. She had an identical sign made reading I SUPPORT SENATOR KERRY AND OUR TROOPS, and then the ACLU was called. The sign ordinance was challenged and pitched, as they all are. Why do dunderheaded city councils allow these things to go through? If the first amendment protects any kind of speech, it’s political speech. This happened in Fort Wayne, too. City councils aren’t always the most forward-thinking governmental bodies.

Which reminds me, I was watching a Facebook thread about the local rules about putting out trash and garbage, and whether it’s OK for others to go through it, in search of treasure. The discussion was divided between the pro-picker community and those who found the idea simply reprehensible, and didn’t see why they should have to alter their behavior one little bit — such as, putting out trash close to the predictable pickup time — to keep bums and scrappers out of it. One argued forcefully for an ordinance banning the practice. I don’t need to tell you that in other forums, he’s a loud voice for Getting Government Out of Our Lives.

This is what the events of last week did to me.

And now a new week awaits. More heat ahead, slightly less oppressive, but not much. I may have to double down on swimming workouts until it passes. Here’s what was waiting for me on Friday:


The duck paddled around all the lanes as the lap swimmers did their thing. She was eating the bugs in the gutter. That’s Tim, the old coach/lifeguard. When he’s gone and I’m old, I’ll remember he taught me how to do the butterfly.

I don’t know how he’s voting. When he remarked on the sparse numbers at the workout Friday, I said maybe everyone was crouched, fearful, in their homes, after listening to Der Fuhrer the night before. No one smiled.

I guess they were feeing the strain, too.

So much to link to and comment on, really too much. Events are moving so quickly, why try to keep up. But I thought this piece summed things up nicely:

We noted four years ago the dysfunction of the Republican Party, arguing that its obstructionism, anti-intellectualism, and attacks on American institutions were making responsible governance impossible. The rise of Trump completes the script, confirming our thesis in explicit fashion.

Consider, as a sign of the party’s decadence, how quickly Bob Corker, a card-carrying member of the Republican Party elite — the center-right chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — caved in to this horribly miscast party standard-bearer. Trump’s campaign has been filled with statements whose ignorance and bombast have appalled the establishment. Then a ballyhooed foreign policy speech in late April was widely panned by experts across the foreign policy spectrum. (“A very odd mishmash”; “strident rhetoric [that] masked a lack of depth.”) Corker’s response? He praised “the broadness, the vision” of the speech.

Sigh. Bring on the Dems, and let’s see how their show goes.

Posted at 12:13 am in Current events | 84 Comments