Rainbow connection.

City life: I took the dog for a walk close to 7 p.m., and even though it wasn’t raining here at all, there was a pretty grand rainbow in the east, which we enjoyed until it disappeared. For a while it was doubled. Very nice.

A while later Alan pulled into the driveway.

“See the rainbow?” I asked.

“Yes. And I think someone on I-94 saw it, because he’d run his car up the embankment and rolled back down. He was standing outside smoking a cigarette, and grocery bags full of his crap were all over.”

Just another Monday evening. An exhausting one, for me — slept badly and had a series of frustrating blah-blahs, but oh well. A couple squares of dark chocolate and a glass of wine should do it.

So, a little bloggage?

Your daily presidential embarrassment, via Haberman at the NYT:

In the span of 72 hours, President Trump described the email hacking that roiled the 2016 campaign as a Democratic “hoax” and as clear aggression by Russia that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, failed to address.

Other times, Mr. Trump has said the hacking might have been done by China.

Or, as he claimed during the first general election debate, the hacking could have been the work of a lone wolf weighing 400 pounds, sitting on his bed at home.

Then there was the time Mr. Trump blamed “some guy in his home in New Jersey.”

Or, as Mr. Trump has also suggested, there might not even have been hacking at all…

Twenty-two million more uninsured. MAGA, mofos.

I think I need to see “Wonder Woman” or something. Happy Tuesday to all.

Posted at 9:04 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 59 Comments

Midweek. More week.

There are times, in the middle of a busy week, when only “The Great British Baking Show” and a glass of wine will work to calm one’s shattered, or at least frayed, nerves.

Frayed. Yes, that’s it. It’s been a long one, and it won’t stop until…a few more days. I have weekend stuff, too. But there’s a long weekend coming up eventually, and it’s not like I’m digging coal here.

Lifeguard training is going well, in the sense that no one has actually drowned. I had difficulty doing the deep-water rescues, as either the victim or the saver, because I float like a cork. I think it’s Charlotte who has difficulty floating? I can’t sink.

“Adipose tissue,” I said as I failed to touch the bottom of the deep end yet again. “I’m a manatee.”

But little by little, we four are getting it. You wouldn’t necessarily want to hire us at your water park, but we can certainly be useful assistants in an emergency. At least I hope so.

Man, water parks. I’ve been to the one at Cedar Point a time or three, when Kate was at an age to enjoy it. I always liked the lazy rivers, and could have stayed in one all day, if I were allowed a cocktail every third circuit or so. But guarding them must be maddening; so many people simply don’t know what they don’t know. (How to swim, for starters.) Not that this keeps anyone out of the water. I’d go nuts in 15 minutes.

So. Shame about Ossoff, although I wasn’t getting my hopes up. I’m done with that. Grim resignation, that’s my new default. Pendulums swing. Let’s just hang on for the ride.

In the meantime, some bloggage: A WashPost story about Kosciusko County, Ind., just west of the Fort, where the demand for skilled factory workers to fill the artificial-joint plants is acute and not being met by the market:

Kosciusko is only one of 73 counties in the United States with unemployment rates of 2 percent or lower, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many are in ­energy-rich counties in the Midwest and Colorado, where the fracking and natural gas booms have vacuumed up the workforce.

They also include communities that defy the heartland stereotype of industrial decay — like Warsaw, in northern Indiana, and Columbus, about three hours south.

Cummins, a global engine builder based in Columbus, recently opted to open its new distribution center an hour north in Indianapolis, where the labor market is much larger. (Columbus is the seat of Bartholomew County, which also has a 2 percent unemployment rate.)

Companies in Warsaw probably would not move manufacturing jobs abroad, said (economist Michael) Hicks, who follows the region. Firms are more likely to transition to Indianapolis or Chicago, he said, since quality control is crucial for medical implants, and businesses want to protect their designs from foreign competitors.

This is where the importance of talent comes in. And that is where the importance of good schools comes in. I’ve been gone from Indiana long enough that I can’t recall the quality of the schools in rural Indiana, but I think it’s safe to say they’re hit-or-miss. And the legislature has been working mightily to strip the public districts of funding, so that vouchers can be issued for religious schools. Dunno how they do in preparing the workforce of tomorrow. They need to be good. They better be good.

(We talk about this issue in Michigan a lot. Safe to say the legislature is not entirely in agreement.)

And the Senate health-care bill is set for its big reveal. Discuss.

Posted at 10:03 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 95 Comments

In which I am doctor-shamed.

Guys! I’m feeling much better! After a week of misery, I finally dragged myself off to the doctor, and told her about the ears and the sore throat and the fever and the non-arc of this affliction, so it must be an infection and I need some serious meds and oh my I feel terrible and–

“Your right ear looks normal.”

Well, the pain is mostly on the left side, and–

“Your left ear is fine, too.”

But, but, fever! And pain! In my ears! I’m a swimmer!

“I’ll just do a strep test, then.”

You know the end of this story. The test was negative. My ears were fine. Diagnosis: “Viral blah-blah.” Her words.

“Don’t put that on the internet or anything.”

I wouldn’t dream of it.

The next day, the very next day, I was much improved. Enough that I headed out for a quick dinner with a friend, and posed in my boss Mike Tyson T-shirt in front of one of Midtown Detroit’s dwindling number of corner stores:

This time next year it’ll be an artisanal paper store, or something. Just you wait.

But now the hour is growing late, and I want to go to bed. A couple quick links:

This was on Slate Plus, and I’m not a member, but I was able to open it: Is Trump experiencing cognitive decline? Yet another examination of the StatNews piece a couple weeks back.

Obstruction of justice and the world of hurt to come.

Let’s hope the weekend heals me fully. Have a good one, all.

Posted at 10:46 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 82 Comments

Fresh thread.

I suppose we will need a fresh thread for the Congressional shooting. Here it is.

Posted at 8:57 am in Current events | 57 Comments

That cabinet meeting.

Still sick, still gotta deadline, still 90 degrees. Have this mixed grill.

What’s the matter with Kansas? They took the craziest tax-cutters at their word, and look what happened.

The 101 canonical tweets. In the depths of my feverish misery, I wept my mascara off, laughing at some of these.

Speaking of Twitter, though: As the kids say, Thread.

Is North Korean diplomacy a job for the secretary of state? Or…:::echo FX here::: Dennis Rodman?

Finally, I repeat what I said yesterday: Has there ever been a more unctuous windbag than Mike Pence? When he says, “the greatest honor of my life,” I wonder how he explains it to Mother. Ah, she’s probably Pinteresting inaugural ballgowns; what am I saying?

Hope I can see the doc today.

Posted at 8:09 am in Current events | 44 Comments

Steamy weekend, plus fog.

Nope, sorry, not feeling better, although based on the fact I woke up Saturday morning with the feeling of having a hot poker stabbed into my ear, I’m fairly sure of my self-diagnosis. It so happens I had an unopened package of cipro otic solution from a previous false alarm, still unexpired. So I’m self-medicating until I can see the doctor.

And two sentences of another person’s medical woes should do it, so let’s move on.

Man, has summer arrived with a vengeance. A week ago, long sleeves, and now, an extended period in the 90s. (It’s especially fun with a hot-lava post-nasal drip, let me just say.) Fortunately, the inaugural Grosse Pointe Pride parade was wrapped before noon:

I walked, yes. Why not? It was the safest, most family-friendly Pride march you’ve ever seen — not a dyke on a bike or a leather daddy in sight. Everyone behaved themselves, and even the cops were friendly. A trio of high school-age MAGAs showed up with their Trump flag, but they kept to themselves and didn’t draw attention to themselves.

What I noticed most? Teenage girls never, EVER tire of taking photos of themselves. Especially when they have rainbows painted on their cheeks.

So, with much of the weekend spent lying in bed, hoping the pressure didn’t blow my eardrums clean outta my head, a little bit of bloggage, most of it outdated.

A rather blunt-spoken account of working with Roget Ailes. Spoiler alert: He was not a nice person, not even a little bit.

The Guardian is reporting that our president’s state visit to the U.K. has been indefinitely postponed. Why?

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

For some time? For ever, at this rate. Maybe the Queen decided against loaning him her golden carriage.

Now starts the slow process of catching up. And the wonders of antibiotics. (Fingers crossed.)

Posted at 9:08 pm in Current events | 55 Comments

Feverish morning.

Again with the apologies, and I’m sorry. Sorry to be scarce around here, sorry to be always apologizing for it. Monday afternoon I seem to have been struck down by an illness, and I’m not sure what it is. Might be allergy-related; this year has been an absolute mofo for pollen. It reminds me of the ear infection I got the last time I swam before I made wearing earplugs a regular habit, but my ears don’t hurt (yet). I considered going to a strip of doctors’ offices nearby and walking the halls until I found a nurse with an otoscope. But then the low-grade fever rose again, and I decided to go back to bed.

So that’s me, today. Alternating chills and sweats and really not wanting to do anything other than watch “The Great British Baking Show” from the couch.

Instead, I have links. They’re old links, because I gathered them on Monday, but maybe you haven’t seen them yet.

Check out the rocket trail on this chart, tracking overdose deaths in the U.S. Appalling. Wait until all those Trump voters realize they voted away their health care. This New Yorker story is instructive:

Michael Barrett and Jenna Mulligan, emergency paramedics in Berkeley County, West Virginia, recently got a call that sent them to the youth softball field in a tiny town called Hedgesville. It was the first practice of the season for the girls’ Little League team, and dusk was descending. Barrett and Mulligan drove past a clubhouse with a blue-and-yellow sign that read “Home of the Lady Eagles,” and stopped near a scrubby set of bleachers, where parents had gathered to watch their daughters bat and field.

Two of the parents were lying on the ground, unconscious, several yards apart. As Barrett later recalled, the couple’s thirteen-year-old daughter was sitting behind a chain-link backstop with her teammates, who were hugging her and comforting her. The couple’s younger children, aged ten and seven, were running back and forth between their parents, screaming, “Wake up! Wake up!” When Barrett and Mulligan knelt down to administer Narcan, a drug that reverses heroin overdoses, some of the other parents got angry. “You know, saying, ‘This is bullcrap,’” Barrett told me. “‘Why’s my kid gotta see this? Just let ’em lay there.’” After a few minutes, the couple began to groan as they revived. Adults ushered the younger kids away. From the other side of the backstop, the older kids asked Barrett if the parents had overdosed. “I was, like, ‘I’m not gonna say.’ The kids aren’t stupid. They know people don’t just pass out for no reason.” During the chaos, someone made a call to Child Protective Services.

At this stage of the American opioid epidemic, many addicts are collapsing in public—in gas stations, in restaurant bathrooms, in the aisles of big-box stores. Brian Costello, a former Army medic who is the director of the Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services, believes that more overdoses are occurring in this way because users figure that somebody will find them before they die. “To people who don’t have that addiction, that sounds crazy,” he said. “But, from a health-care provider’s standpoint, you say to yourself, ‘No, this is survival to them.’ They’re struggling with using but not wanting to die.”

We are all West Virginia now, or soon will be.

In 2018, the GOP strategy will be all about the media. I wonder if those of you who don’t work in this business know what it’s like to be universally loathed by the general public. I expect you do, because you’re in similar fields. We just keep doing the job, as strange as it can be in these times. I was doing spadework on a story a few weeks ago that was put on the shelf until the whipsawing in D.C. leads to a coherent policy, if it ever does, and this week I’m doing the same – working on something that could be overtaken by events before, like, Friday. And I’m sick, too. Woe, woe is me.

I don’t think it’ll be overtaken by events, though, because the event we’ll all be watching is the Comey Show, starting tomorrow.

I believe J.C. flagged this on Monday, but if you didn’t see it then, I wish to do so again: A teacher deep in Ohio’s coal country tries to school his students on climate change. This guy’s a hero.

Finally, Neil Steinberg wrote something elsewhere, on the science of falling. Interesting.

Back to bed for me. OK, no. I’m actually in bed. But back to work, anyway.

Posted at 7:40 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 122 Comments

A five-day week ahead.

So glad you nice commenters are willing to keep the chitchat going when the bartender retires to her cot in the back. You make running this place so much easier.

I had some evening stuff last week, and I have evening stuff this week, but not quite as much this as last. I’m also hitting the weight rack again, which means I’m walking around like a crippled-up gimp, but last week was the first, so: Slightly less crippled this week. Fingers crossed.

So. A terror attack in London Saturday night, and Sunday morning, the leader of the free world tweets? And golfs.

What are we going to do when this happens here? I can’t even think about it.

With apologies for the autoplaying video, this was an incredible story from the weekend here, about an abused woman and her incarcerated ex-husband, who vows to kill her when he’s released — in a little over two months. And the law can do little to help her.

You know, just an uplifting story for the weekend.

Meanwhile, back at the State Department, things are not looking so great.

Is that enough to start a Monday?

Posted at 9:28 pm in Current events | 100 Comments

No more drownings, if we can help it.

Just a quickie today: Had an early start and a late finish yesterday, and besides, Wednesday night is for “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, so t.s. for you guys.

Speaking of which, that show is freaking my cheese right out. I generally don’t get swept up in dystopian fiction, but this adaptation is very very good and very very powerful. I don’t think I was all the way in until a flashback scene, to the time before Gilead, when one character remarks that soldiers are rounding people up, another says the army wouldn’t do that, and the first one says, “This is a different army.” I can’t be the only one who thought, So that’s what Erik Prince has been up to lately.

Anyway, there was a double drowning in the Metro this week — a toddler and his father in an apartment-complex pool. The boy’s tricycle was found in the water, too, and the theory is, the kid drove his bike into the pool, the father jumped in to save him, but neither could swim and neither made it out. The grim punch line: They drowned in five feet of water. The father could literally have stood up and probably gotten his nose and mouth into the air, and he certainly could have bobbed his way to shallower water.

The incident prompted me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while — donate $100 to Detroit Swims, the program run by the YMCA here to teach city children to swim. Most children of color cannot, and a $100 donation covers lessons for one kid to go from scaredy-cat to water-competent, including transportation and even a swimsuit. On impulse (and because I was on my second beer), I set up a Crowdrise account for it, posted it to my social media, and a few of you who follow me there contributed. Huzzah, we now have $400.

This is not a pitch for donations, although (koff) here’s the link. Give if you feel like it, or better yet, find a similar program in your own city and donate to that. The Ys do great work in this area, but they’re not the only ones. These tragedies shouldn’t happen, and I thank Sherri, Ann, Jolene, Kathy and others who pitched dollars into the kitty.

On to the day ahead! What fresh hell will it reveal on the Trump front? Oh yeah, this.

One final note: I did a lot of driving yesterday, and listened to the most recent Pod Save the World ‘cast. The guest was career diplomat Bill Burns, who explains clearly and calmly how modern diplomacy works, including back channels and when they are and aren’t appropriate. Highly recommended.

Later, all.

Posted at 8:46 am in Current events | 116 Comments

Death to the fascist insect.

I was 16 when Patty Hearst was kidnapped, just three years younger than the victim herself — a fact I find astonishing — and was only paying a teenager’s attention to current events, so this is what I know and recall from that time:

Hearst, a wealthy heiress to the publishing fortune, was kidnapped by a radical group called the Symbionese Liberation Army. She was held for a long time, during which the SLA called not for ransom, but for her father to distribute millions of dollars’ worth of free food to the poor in California. There was a fire in Los Angeles that killed most of them, but Patty wasn’t in that group. She was later spotted on a bank security camera helping surviving SLA members rob it. Arrested later, she raised a clenched fist to news cameras. She was tried, convicted, sentenced and did prison time, after which she was released, married a cop/security/bodyguard type, submerged herself in American anonymity, wrote a memoir, received a presidential pardon and most recently owned the Best in Group winner at the Westminster Dog Show. And that’s pretty much it. Oh, and it’s where I first learned of the concept of Stockholm Syndrome, the condition where kidnapping victims are said to identify and sympathize with their captors.

And that’s probably more than most Americans know. But the story is so much richer that that, and I’m glad to be reading the current On the Nightstand book over to your right, Jeffrey Toobin’s “American Heiress,” about the case. Toobin crafts his story as a case of not ’60s counterculture America, but the ’70s post-counterculture era — with Vietnam winding down and the air rapidly leaking from the antiwar movement, leaving behind only the craziest and most dangerous radicals. The rest of youth culture was entering adulthood or grad school, starting to ask the big questions of self-discovery that led to the Me Decade. The Beatles had broken up, disco was right around the corner and serial killers with names like Zodiac and Zebra were terrorizing places like San Francisco. It was this period, February 1974, when the SLA knocked on Hearst’s apartment door and, despite being so bumbling they couldn’t even tie her hands correctly, managed to get away with their prize more or less cleanly, leaving behind Patty’s dork fiancé, Steven Weed, whom I will always remember wearing a bandage, black eye and walrus mustache.

The SLA was equal parts crazy, dangerous and inept, led by an ex-con named Donald DeFreeze, aka Cinque M’tume, and staffed mostly by whack-job women who were themselves equal parts crazy and smart. One worked in a library, and kept very good notes. Others found their way via acting (acting?) or teaching or whatever. Paranoid and deadly, they lurched from missions to safe houses to whatever. They assassinated the Oakland school superintendent, of all people, thinking it would set off a people’s revolution. (In this, they reminded me of Charles Manson, who thought slaughtering a houseful of Hollywood types would start a national race war.) When it didn’t, they thought kidnapping might be the way to go. Patty and Steven’s engagement photo, in the pages of the Hearst daily in San Francisco, gave them their target.

I’m not very far into it, and I’m noticing how many of these anecdotes mesh with other stories that broke earlier or later. Angela Atwood, one of the kidnappers, the actress, went to college in Bloomington, Ind., with Kevin Kline. When three of the group accidentally touched off some full-auto rounds at a firing range, one of the people who noticed was none other than Lance Ito, the O.J. Simpson judge. The Hearst family’s hastily thrown together food bank had its books kept by Sara Jane Moore, who would later try to assassinate Gerald Ford. Jim Jones, of the notorious mass-suicide People’s Temple cult, tried to horn in on the food giveaway. One of my old editors, Richard, covered it for the San Jose Mercury. I get the sense that California is a very big state and a very small world at the same time.

But my biggest takeaway — so far — is how insane the world was then, emerging from the cataclysmic ’60s into the burned-out ’70s. It’s somehow…familiar, the end of a period of idealism into a darker one of cynicism, full of hustlers and flatterers and a corrupt president who exposed how broken the country was. The SLA signed its communiques thusly: DEATH TO THE FASCIST INSECT THAT PREYS UPON THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE. All caps. It seemed to fit the times.

An enjoyable read. And the previous paragraph leads us into the first bit of bloggage, this essay by Rebecca Solnit on…can you guess? Can you guess? Yeah, you guessed!

A man who wished to become the most powerful man in the world, and by happenstance and intervention and a series of disasters was granted his wish. Surely he must have imagined that more power meant more flattery, a grander image, a greater hall of mirrors reflecting back his magnificence. But he misunderstood power and prominence. This man had bullied friends and acquaintances, wives and servants, and he bullied facts and truths, insistent that he was more than they were, than it is, that it too must yield to his will. It did not, but the people he bullied pretended that it did. Or perhaps it was that he was a salesman, throwing out one pitch after another, abandoning each one as soon as it left his mouth. A hungry ghost always wants the next thing, not the last thing.

This one imagined that the power would repose within him and make him great, a Midas touch that would turn all to gold. But the power of the presidency was what it had always been: a system of cooperative relationships, a power that rested on people’s willingness to carry out the orders the president gave, and a willingness that came from that president’s respect for rule of law, truth, and the people. A man who gives an order that is not followed has his powerlessness hung out like dirty laundry. One day earlier this year, one of this president’s minions announced that the president’s power would not be questioned. There are tyrants who might utter such a statement and strike fear into those beneath him, because they have installed enough fear.

And here’s the Financial Times, proclaiming the end of the American century:

Mr Trump’s impact on the very idea of the west is already significant. The western alliance is still the world’s biggest economic bloc and largest repository of scientific and business knowledge. But it is disintegrating. As Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, admitted, Europe can no longer rely on the US. It might have been unwise to say so, but she was surely right.

Mr Trump seems to prefer autocrats to today’s western Europeans. He is warm towards Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, not to mention Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He appears to care not at all about democracy or human rights. Neither does he seem committed to the mutual defence principles of Nato.

Mr Trump’s “alt- right” supporters see not a divide between the democracies and the despotisms; but rather between social progressives and globalists, whom they despise, and social traditionalists and nationalists, whom they support. For them, western Europeans are on the wrong side: they are enemies, not friends.

Depressed enough yet? The Onion is here to cheer you up.

Me, I’m out.

Posted at 8:08 pm in Current events | 72 Comments