Into it we go.

I believe it was another blogger who once said that she enjoys Christmas as much as the next girl, but dragging that tree to the curb is like getting another room on your house. Seconded. Every time I sweep up the pine needles, I think how a pre-lit artificial tree is definitely not selling out. Things are complicated this year by the snow on the walks and a serious deep freeze, which means we’re going to be tracking those fuckers back into the house for days and weeks yet.

Yes, I just referred to pine needles as fuckers. I go on a jihad about cleanliness at this time of year.

Otherwise, it was a pleasant new year’s weekend. Prime rib was prepared and served, as was spinach soufflé and a disappointing potato dish, bailed out by a wonderful sorbet. I may make sorbet every weekend for the rest of my life, if it’s as good as the kir royale sorbet I made for dinner yesterday. Glad I bought an ice cream maker at a garage sale a few years back. (“Does it work?” “Oh yes. It’s just that I have two of them.” #GrossePointeProblems)

Now for dry, abstemious January. I’m pretty damn ready for this one, gotta say. But I’ll eat the rest of the sorbet first.

I can say with confidence that my New Year’s Eve was better than young Barron Trump’s:

When I was 11 and my parents had plans for NYE, I could sleep over at a friend’s house, or have someone over, or otherwise do something that an 11-year-old might consider fun. I was never dressed up and required to go to their party with them. Just looking at the random crowd shots gives me the heebie-jeebies on his behalf:

Have we ever speculated on whether Barron is on the spectrum? I’ve thought so for a while now. Those of you experienced with these kids are encouraged to weigh in. His may be the only book out of this administration I might look forward to reading.

Speaking of which, this is required reading for those of you keeping up. And that’s all from me for now. I’m going to try out my new meditation app. Happy new year to all of us.

Posted at 4:55 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 39 Comments

January dead ahead.

A few years ago, novelist and NN.C internet-friend Laura Lippman started a New Year’s tradition: The one-word resolution. No long lists of overly optimistic goals, sure to be abandoned by January 23, but just one word. A verb, obviously, since a resolution implies change, and you can’t change without taking action.

I can’t remember what all of hers were; one-word resolutions are personal enough that if they aren’t yours, they’re not exactly memorable. I took her up on it, and remember a few of mine. Focus, for one. Finish, for another. Breathe was the year I got more serious about my fitness regimen; most of the breathing was deep or fast and accompanied by a quicker heartbeat. Last year’s – Twerk – was a total failure; I just don’t have the lumbar suppleness anymore. But if you take it metaphorically, I guess I did some twerking. Kinda.

This year’s isn’t entirely gelled yet, and may change, but I’m leaning toward Tune. It’s a transitive verb, so it’s not quite right. Tune what? A radio? Your engine? In my case, I want to tune in and tune out, which may blow up the one-word rule entirely. But here’s how I’d explain it:

I want to tune in to things that seem to pay real dividends, in either personal happiness or professional accomplishment. I want to read fewer words online and more of them between covers, and have a good stack of novels already in hand. I want to take more time, productive time, to work on writing and editing I’ve been putting off too long. Pay attention to good things, or interesting things, in other words.

And I want to tune out the daily outrage machine that has made 2017 so, so trying. Sorry, but I just don’t have it in me to read one more well-crafted takedown of the president, or Congress, or whoever is cranking the dials on any given day. Nor one more tweetstorm. Nor a hot take from a surprising source, or whatever. I’m not going to stop paying attention; no one can afford to do that. But the accumulated static, the constant clanging gong of OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING? That has to go, or at least be put in its place. These are important and transformational times we’re living through, and I understand that. But we can’t properly focus on our work if we are standing in this firehose of hot takes, laughing, jeering and, of course, the screaming inside our own heads. Arm’s length on this stuff in 2018.

I guess both of these boil down to Focus, again. But isn’t that what all of us are trying to do?

Maybe so.

And this will wrap 2018 for NN.c. I’ll be back…New Year’s Day, most likely, maybe later. In the meantime, I’ll be cleaning, organizing, throwing stuff away and throwing a fancy dinner party. Or rather, a casual dinner party with fancy food. (Prime rib.) Stop by.

One bit of bloggage:

Many of you may know that Michigan State University is going through some hard times of late. A doctor to the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team, employed by the university, sexually assaulted female patients, including many of those gymnasts, for years, while parties in a position to sound the alarm averted their gaze and made excuses and let things go on and on and on. The same story we’ve seen more than once in recent years. So far the administration appears to be resisting the sort of accountability that translates to people losing their jobs. It’s causing front-page editorials in newspapers and a great deal of anguish for the school’s vast and loyal alumni community.

Well, all involved parties might want to take a look at this story about the Penn State scandal, six years down the road. These wounds don’t heal quickly or cleanly.

So, everybody? Before I go, thanks again for your readership, your participation in our lively comment sections, and just showing up from time to time to read what you find here. It’s all I can ask for, and I’m grateful for it. Especially grateful to J.C., who keeps the machine running. Happy New Year to all of us.


Posted at 7:31 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 57 Comments

Happy holidays to all.

Hey, it’s the end of the week and I haven’t blogged for a while. Didn’t mean to blow you guys off, but I was wrapping presents and working my way through “High Maintenance,” my new favorite HBO show. Those of you who have a subscription, start with the web series of shorts, then start the main, 30-minute episodes. They’re wonderful.

I don’t really have much to say other than that. We’re off to Ohio and then back to Michigan, and as I pass by some of you, I send you greetings for whatever holiday you are celebrating. We’re past the solstice, so hey, longer days!

Here’s a Christmas photo, from the Santa Speedo Run a while back. One mile through downtown and back to the only gay sports bar in Detroit, and in fact, the only one I’ve ever been to, period. While I was there, they were showing years-old MMA fights on some of the big screens, and Janet Jackson videos on others. My kinda place:

Stay warm! I’ll be back next week.

Posted at 3:19 pm in Housekeeping, Same ol' same ol' | 44 Comments

Feeling less wondrous.

How was my weekend? Well, it started with deciding to stay in Friday night and rent a movie (“In Bruges”), because Alan had just finished a brutal week. I turned off the movie at 9:30 and went upstairs to read because he was snoring so loud I couldn’t hear the dialogue anymore.

Some weeks are just like that. Although the movie was good, even if I had to watch it in halves. We stayed awake for Saturday night’s choice, “Wonder Woman,” although it also filled me with despair because god, SUPERHERO MOVIES ARE SO BORING. They’re about 30 percent longer than the story needs to be, and all end with a huge battle that goes on and on and on, and has zero tension because you know who’s going to win, or, perhaps, lose in a sequel-y setup. I understand that people see these movies for the other stuff, in this case Gal Gadot in a metal bustier, but let me just say this: The smartest thing DC Comics ever came up with was Kryptonite, because otherwise, Superman is just another dude in tights who wins every fight. Wonder Woman can leap a quarter-mile, and that’s when she isn’t flying or jumping from great heights to land lightly on her feet, stopping a barrage of machine-gun fire with her shield, or random bullets with her wristbands, or squeezing the truth out of someone with her Golden Lariat of Justice, a handy lie detector she keeps tied to the utility-belt portion of her metal bustier.

I’d like to see Wonder Woman start throwing that thing around Washington D.C. these days. Now that would be a movie.

But these are quibbles, people. Quibbles! However, my weekend was about as low-key as could be, which was good, because we didn’t go to Noel Night in Midtown, where three people were shot, and we didn’t get up early to watch the implosion of the Silverdome, which was hilarious. To save you a click: The sequential charges all went off as planned, and then the stadium…failed to collapse. “Built too well,” the engineering firm concluded. Now, though, you have to figure it’s a real shitshow, however, because who’s going to want to go back in that thing after a series of explosions? Maybe a daisy-cutter would take care of it.

And with that, we turn to the weekend’s discouraging words:

You know what we need? Another dispatch from Trump country.

Today’s can-you-imagine-this-headline-three-years-ago story: Trump moves to block Romney from the Senate.

Finally, a note: J.C. and I are tinkering with the Amazon links — the Kickback Lounge shut down, as a few of you have noted — and will try to get a replacement in place eventually. It never amounted to much money, but it was a little, and I always appreciated those of you who used it. Let a worthy successor rise in its place. If any of you have experience with the Amazon Associates program, I’m all ears.

Posted at 9:43 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 72 Comments

The gratitude attitude.

Well, happy Thanksgiving to all. The holiday seems to expand every year, doesn’t it? I’ve read about young people, mainly women, referring to their “birthday month,” and expecting regular tributes throughout. That seems to be happening to this one, although who can complain, really? If you’re at work, you won’t be getting anything important done, unless you’re a police officer or an unlucky cashier at a grocery store. The white-collar world is phoning it in, or else shopping the Black Friday sales online, as I spent a chunk of yesterday doing. Like the holiday itself, they’ve expanded to the whole week. I can dig it.

So what are you thankful for? I’ll start with the trivial: I’m thankful for all the excellent shopping columns that have popped up in recent years, which help a person who doesn’t want to spend all day on the internet find the best deals. And yeah, I know they’re affiliate arrangements, but I don’t care. I’ve found several handy items I never would have even known about thanks to the Strategist, to name but one.

Also: Twitter, simultaneously a reason to get up in the morning and the bane of my existence (so hard to put down), a 24/7/365 cocktail party that, for all its infamous awfulness, also reassures me daily that I am not the only person who thinks X, not by a long shot. Kinda like this commentariat, actually.

What else? I have a new job, which is good news. It’s half-time, which is less-good news, but it’s a start. I’ll tell you more in a few days. This means I have to restart freelancing, a task that fills me with Ugh, but once it gets rolling, it’ll be easier.

No one is sick. Kate is investigating a study-abroad opportunity, and we have the money to pay for it. Our mortgage balance is down to a figure that doesn’t freak me out – thank you, 15-year loans. There’s a lot wrong with the world, but there’s still a lot that’s right. You can go online and, with a few clicks, and find dozens of videos showing turkeys attacking people. Turkeys were reintroduced to Michigan some years back, and they have thrived, not just here, but everywhere. Alan had to wait for a flock of about 25 to cross the road, the last time he went fishing up north.

So, on to the bloggage before I take a few days off, because Saturday is my birthday, and I won’t be back until Sunday/Monday. My first post-college job gave you a birthday personal day, and I try to keep that flame alive when I can.

There’s a Pulitzer Prize waiting to be mined from stories about how powerful forces are harnessing the internet for malign purposes. Here, the New York state AG explains:

In May 2017, researchers and reporters discovered that the FCC’s public comment process was being corrupted by the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules. In doing so, the perpetrator or perpetrators attacked what is supposed to be an open public process by attempting to drown out and negate the views of the real people, businesses, and others who honestly commented on this important issue. Worse, while some of these fake comments used made up names and addresses, many misused the real names and addresses of actual people as part of the effort to undermine the integrity of the comment process. That’s akin to identity theft, and it happened on a massive scale.

I have some thoughts about the John Conyers story, most of which I’ll keep to myself for now. But this one I won’t: How BuzzFeed colluded with a notorious right-wing troll to bring you the story. Mike Cernovich’s role wasn’t revealed until paragraph 18, and his name mentioned only twice, within that paragraph. I have a problem with that.

So, then, happy holiday and long weekend to all. Go Lions. Go turkeys. Go have a nice meal.

Posted at 10:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 87 Comments


One childish pleasure you can grant yourself after being fired is this: Purging files, photos, passwords and other job-related data from your devices. Unsubscribing to emails, putting things in the rearview mirror, waving bye-bye.

Then I found a keeper: Shit Derek Says, a file I was keeping of the quips and quotes of my amusing boss-before-last, who presents as quite the curmudgeon but, of course, isn’t:

Are you willing to admit I was right about TED talks? Yes? Victory is mine.

Yes, Derek, I am willing to admit you were right about TED talks. Great idea, ridiculous and/or poor execution in 90 percent of the cases. And yet they go on.

I’m going hard on self-care in this interregnum. Exercise, eating right, scant alcohol, childish pleasures – I believe I’ve mentioned this, but I could use some more, preferably the kind that doesn’t cost much money. Long walks with the dog, meditation, that sort of thing. Send tips.

Feeling a little peevish this morning, however. Alan was having problems with his email that I couldn’t solve, so we called Comcast for help. Ai-yi-yi. The first 15 minutes — FIFTEEN MINUTES — of the call, which of course was to the Philippines, was spent explaining that “Grosse Pointe” and “Grosse Pointe Woods” are the same thing.

And then it turned out the problem was at their end. While I listened to him negotiate with the Filipino help desk, I read this story, from Columbia Journalism Review, on the victims of fake news — Sandy Hook parents, Comet Pizza owners and customers, you know the drill. Here’s a passage that I stopped at:

I spent 45 minutes on the phone with Megyn Kelly asking her to not run that show where she interviewed Alex Jones. My point to her was, don’t just hold up this guy and say “Can you believe he thinks this?” That’s not enough. Look into why is he that way, why does he think these things, what happened to him to make him think this? Why?

That’s Sandy Hook parent David Wheeler speaking. Good for him for sparing 45 minutes for Megyn Kelly, but where Alex Jones is concerned, I think he’s asking the wrong question. I firmly, absolutely believe Alex Jones doesn’t think these things. He knows he’s peddling bullshit to rubes, but it pays so well, he has to pretend he believes this nonsense, too. And this is where I part with those earnest souls who insist that we must meet Milo, et al in the Marketplace of Ideas, extending respect to them and getting it in return. They are not bargaining in good faith, and I don’t think we owe them anything like respect.

Also on the Testy Train is the writer of this piece, who points out that “as the father of daughters” is the thoughts-and-prayers of sexual harassment stories. Slam-dunk kicker here:

Having a daughter shouldn’t be a requirement for internalizing the problems of working within a sexist industry. Your wives gave birth to a baby girl, not a moral compass. (For what it’s worth, George Clooney, a new dad, managed to talk to the Daily Beast for a whole interview without mentioning his infant twins, one of whom is a girl.) Peppering statements about how shocked and appalled you are with a mention of your daughter just makes you look clueless. Because here’s the thing: Only a sociopath needs a daughter — or a sister, a girlfriend, a wife, or even just a lady standing in front of him at Starbucks — to make him queasy enough at the thought of a sexual predator in his industry to do something about it. You don’t need a daughter to feel guilty about working with a man who preys on young women, or about not acting to stop him. You just need a conscience.

The Russians not only penetrated Facebook, Twitter and Google, but even…Pinterest? The social network for bar-cart enthusiasts? Apparently so.

Onward into the maw of Thursday. Time to check GlassDoor and ZipRecruiter again. Sigh.

Posted at 10:19 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments

Postcards from the Dairy State.

And just like that, the weekend has flown. Two days in the car, one in the rain — it wasn’t a bad three days at all, but man, am I stiff. Have to do some legs-up-the-wall later.

It was a lovely visit with my old friends, who met my new friends, and while it rained much of the weekend, there was still shelter for this:

You UW alums should recognize those chairs, which are the signature seating on the Union Terrace, second only to my beloved alma mater in the Best Student Union Ever sweepstakes. It overlooks a lake, has a stage and a wide selection of Wisconsin beers. On a lovely day, you can watch the sailboats bobbing at their moorings. On a rainy night, it’s still not half-bad.

My friends Frank and Cindy are living the life in retirement. Cindy said Frank woke up one morning and decided he wanted to live on the lake. Cindy has a short list of things she wants in a house, one of them a window over the kitchen sink. In all of their previous homes, this simple detail has eluded her, but the latest one made her dream come true. The view from the sink:

You can see the weather was sketchy, but it cleared up that night and we were able to enjoy a rooftop deck downtown for our Saturday nightcap:

Waxing moon on the rise, capitol dome aglow, one of those gas fires to enjoy. The capitol dome was also visible from my guest bedroom, the state’s greatest nightlight. The next day the sun rose in a clear sky, and we took their pontoon boat around for a cruise and got a closer look:

That’s Monona Terrace in the foreground. A Frank Lloyd Wright project.

In between all these photos was talk-talk-talk, about everything under the sun, but mostly health-care policy. (Frank was a hospital president, and now consults with health-care startups.) He recommended this Atul Gawande dispatch from Athens, Ohio — the writer’s hometown — on the question of whether health care is a right. I think you’ll recognize the opinions within, and his treatment of them is respectful. Personally, I believe that until we start turning away the seriously sick and injured at the hospital door if they’re unable to pay, health care already is a right; all we’re arguing about it is how we will pay for it. This passage is important:

Liberals often say that conservative voters who oppose government-guaranteed health care and yet support Medicare are either hypocrites or dunces. But Monna, like almost everyone I spoke to, understood perfectly well what Medicare was and was glad to have it.

I asked her what made it different.

“We all pay in for that,” she pointed out, “and we all benefit.” That made all the difference in the world. From the moment we earn an income, we all contribute to Medicare, and, in return, when we reach sixty-five we can all count on it, regardless of our circumstances. There is genuine reciprocity. You don’t know whether you’ll need more health care than you pay for or less. Her husband thus far has needed much less than he’s paid for. Others need more. But we all get the same deal, and, she felt, that’s what makes it O.K.

“I believe one hundred per cent that Medicare needs to exist the way it does,” she said. This was how almost everyone I spoke to saw it. To them, Medicare was less about a universal right than about a universal agreement on how much we give and how much we get.

Understanding this seems key to breaking the current political impasse. The deal we each get on health care has a profound impact on our lives—on our savings, on our well-being, on our life expectancy. In the American health-care system, however, different people get astonishingly different deals. That disparity is having a corrosive effect on how we view our country, our government, and one another.

I’d rather think about beer for a while longer. But let’s get to the bloggage:

I started subscribing to Mike Allen’s daily email for Axios. This was pretty pungent: Welcome to Rex Tillerson’s life.

A handy guide to Republican presidential etiquette, from the NYT. For those of you who remember the OMG-a-tan-suit days.

God, I can’t wait until this freak show is over:

I am teetering on the edge of a Coozledad-worthy rant, so I best sign off for now. Legs up the wall! And work to do!

Posted at 12:28 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments

Park bench notes.

So, when one is unemployed, is it normal to be whipsawed between optimism over the unpredictable future and despair that one is old, old, old and will never work again?

Asking for a friend.

Basically doing OK here. I’m trying to keep busy. Sent out some résumés, surfed some more job-search websites, cleaned the first floor, ate leftovers for lunch, rode my bike a bit. Swam. Tried not to feel like a leper.

When I was a kid I had a board game called Careers. The square for unemployment was called Park Bench, because that’s what you did when you were jobless, I guess — went to the park and fed pigeons. I’ll try not to be a cliché, but Wendy does enjoy occasional jaunts to the dog park in Detroit. We’ll try that.

Hugh Hefner is dead. I do not have much of a feminist take on Hef, I confess. Objecting to the grosser elements of his lifestyle seems about as effective as objecting to the same parts of our president’s – you’re not going to make a dent in the guy, and the objections seem to be a feature, not a bug. He made it to 91 living more or less exactly how he wanted, down to the last detail. A deeply strange man, fully on display in this four-year-old Esquire feature on the occasion of his 87th birthday. Thanks to Hank for tweeting it late last night. I read it during my 4:30 a.m. insomnia bout (see above). A few details:

Even after they split up, when Hefner bought (ex-wife Kimberly) Conrad the mansion next door and smashed down the wall between them, he kept a blown-up version of her centerfold on the wall in his library. It wasn’t until (sons) Marston and Cooper told an interviewer that they didn’t love seeing their mom’s bush every time they came over that it even dawned on Hefner to take it down.

and this:

On another night, Bettie Page was invited to come see, for the first time, “The Notorious Bettie Page,” a 2005 biopic starring Gretchen Mol as the early, iconic Playmate. In her eighties then and still getting used to the idea of her late-life revival, Page sat near the back of the room. Everybody hoped that she liked what she saw. (Hefner was especially protective of her, having loudly denounced a biography that documented her battles with mental illness and occasional violence. A giant topless photograph of her still hangs in the hallway upstairs.) Those hopes were shattered only minutes into the movie when Page began screaming at the top of her lungs: “Lies! Lies! Lies!” Then she burst into tears, her face in her hands. “Why can’t they just tell the truth?” she said between sobs.

and can’t forget this:

He holds two Guinness World Records, for different kinds of devotion. The certificates are on display not far from Bettie Page’s beautiful tits. He is the longest serving editor in chief of a magazine—Playboy’s first issue came out in December 1953 (he founded it after leaving his job as a copywriter at Esquire), with a sixtieth-anniversary issue planned for the end of this year—and he has the world’s largest collection of personal scrapbooks. A genial but intense forty-nine-year-old man named Steve Martinez oversees their assembly and upkeep; he has a silver tooth and dark-framed glasses. For twenty-two years, he has been Hefner’s full-time archivist, responsible for the thick black books—2,643 volumes and counting—that document virtually every day of Hefner’s long and eventful life.

(Editor’s note: I wish classy magazines like Esquire and the New Yorker would stop spelling out numbers higher than nine. “Forty-nine-year-old man named,” etc. Ugh.)

The scrapbooks part is really weird.

Time to hit the gym and walk Wendy. In the meantime a little bloggage.

When we look back on this era, the No. 2 embarrassment will be our creation of the Dragon of Gluten, although it’s certainly been a good grift for some people:

Belle Gibson, wellness blogger and founder of the Whole Pantry, was fined $410,000 (in Australian dollars; $322,000 in American dollars) by an Australian court for claiming that she “cured her terminal brain cancer by avoiding gluten and sugar.” Gibson admitted in 2015 that the claims had been made up to Australia Women’s Weekly — she did not and never had brain cancer.

“Wellness blogger.” Speaking of which, if you’re on Twitter you should be following @drjengunter, who has made a small name for herself tormenting all things Goop, i.e., the work product of wellness entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow.

As the kids say, so much This to this, a report from today’s college campuses from Ed and Gin and Tacos:

Articles about college students by people who do not spend their working lives on a college campus are inevitably bad. Hilariously bad. Bad like that right-wing Christian fantasy film God’s Not Dead, which represents a fever dream of what a college campus is like by a bunch of people who have never been on one.

Since this isn’t the Washington Post and I don’t have an editor here I’m going to cut to the chase: 99.99% of college students don’t care. About anything. Half of them consume so little news that even asking them about the major headline stories of a given time period draws blank stares more often than not. If they have opinions about political or social issues, more often than not it amounts to parroting the reactionary views of their parents and all the Fox News their parents exposed them to. The idea of college undergraduates as a gaggle of barbarians mobbing the proverbial gate is endlessly amusing to any college faculty. If you can get these kids to show up to class and hand in their assignments it’s a goddamn miracle.

OK, then. There are but 24 hours in this day and more than nine of them have already flown. Time to get some shit done.

Posted at 9:38 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 95 Comments

New horizons.

I have to admit it: It’s hard to get excited about job-hunting in journalism, not only because there are so few of them available, I just know what all the job-listing language is really saying. Plan, coordinate, assign and edit = answer to vague directives from on high, struggle to translate them to assignments that can be understood by freelancers, beat the bushes for a few writers who are both a) literate and b) willing to work for peanuts, hector them until the pieces are done, try to shape them into what you really wanted, mail out tiny checks.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Meanwhile, when I think of what I want the next chapter in my work life to be, I find myself inspired by…well, this guy, who was the subject of a Wall Street Journal A-hed story way back in the day. He’s an Ohio U. grad, a few years ahead of my time, whom I met and chatted with at one of our college-newspaper reunions. He’d been the Israeli correspondent for the Dallas Morning News and was among the very first to be downsized. So he took his considerable portfolio of skills and ended up PR guy/day manager of one of those mega strip clubs that the Sun Belt is so famous for. Now that’s a goddamn transition.

As I come to the end of my career, I want my work to encompass more experiences outside journalism, not another office staffed by the depressed and overworked. The websites I’ve been examining for jobs this morning include casinos, professional sports, and if anyone knows some URLs for what a friend describes as Big Marijuana, pass them along. (Big Marijuana is gathering on the state’s borders, I’m told. Salivating. They need someone like me.)

However, I’m 59 and realistic. But you never know.

Thanks for all your support. In the end, I think Bridge will move in a new direction, and it’s just as well I won’t be moving with it, because I’d be miserable. My plan for the next few weeks, besides updating my resume, are to restore my sleep, relax, pinch pennies, exercise every day, chip off the eight pounds that accumulated over the last year and listen to my nerves sigh, rather than gasp for air.

So, need to hit that gym yet today. On to the bloggage:

I agree with Neil Steinberg that this piece is too long, but it’s delicious just the same — Matt Taibbi on the Madness of Donald Trump. If you’ll forgive this breaking of the three-paragraph rule, a description of the Phoenix rally a few weeks ago:

The audience seems into it for a while. But it goes on too long. During the campaign, Trump was expert at keeping a hall buzzed with resentment for an hour or so. But he hits weird notes now. He goes off on a tangent about his enemies, it’s not clear which ones. “They’re elite?” he says. “I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment, and I live in the White House, too, which is really great.”

Polite applause.

“You know what?” he goes on. “I think we’re the elites. They’re not the elites.”

No one is counting fingers, but you can tell people are having trouble making the math work. We’re elite because you have a nice apartment? Campaign Trump bragged endlessly about his wealth – “I have a Gucci store that’s worth more than Romney” was a classic line – but back then he was selling a vicarious fantasy. Trump’s Ferrari-underpants lifestyle was the silent-majority vision of how they would all live once the winning started. But candidate Trump was never dumb enough to try to tell debt-ridden, angry crowds they were already living the dream.

At one point, Trump ends up standing with a piece of paper in hand, haranguing all with transcripts of his own remarks on Charlottesville. To prove that he’s been misquoted or misunderstood, he goes through the whole story, from the beginning. It gets quiet in the hall.

It’s an agonizing parody of late-stage Lenny Bruce. The great Sixties comedian’s act degenerated into tendentious soliloquies about his legal situation (he had been charged with obscenity). Bruce too stood onstage in his last years for interminable periods, court papers in hand, quoting himself to audiences bored to insanity by the spectacle.

This, too, is another piece that’s on the long side, but it certainly captures the particular blend of soft-focus nostalgia and blindered self-delusion that is the contemporary Confederacy. The Sons of the Confederacy is there to make sure it stays that way:

We linger at the mausoleum of Jefferson Davis, whom my escort refers to as “the president.” “You probably don’t like President Trump, and to be honest I’m not too thrilled with President Obama,” he tells me. “But like it or not, they were president, and President Davis was our president.” I must look skeptical. “Aren’t you the folks who want to go around giving everyone a participation trophy?” he snaps.

The bronze effigy of Davis winks in the sunshine, a participation trophy if I’ve ever seen one. Earnest, meanwhile, has withdrawn once more into the 19th century. Not among these dead, he intones, is Davis’ son Jim Limber, a black boy freed and then adopted by Davis’ wife. “Union troops took Jim Limber away” when the first couple of the Confederacy retreated to Danville, Virginia, he says mournfully. “They didn’t think it was right to have an African child in a white family. But I tell people that we Southerners were way ahead of President Obama: We put a black in the Confederate White House.”


Finally, on Mike Pence and Obamacare, this:

As governor of Indiana, he implemented the ACA’s Medicaid expansion to great success, modifying the program to address what he perceived to be his state’s unique needs. Now Pence is championing a bill that would undo much of what he accomplished in Indiana, stripping insurance from the very people who received it under his plan. Graham-Cassidy redistributes federal funds from blue states to some red states—but not to Indiana: The bill would slash federal funding for Indiana by $7 billion between 2020 and 2027, denying health coverage to nearly 500,000 Hoosiers over the next 10 years. It is, in other words, another version of the same concept that Republicans have pushed for months: a massive cut to Medicaid under the guise of ACA repeal.

As vice president, Pence has unceasingly promoted measures that would undo his signature achievement as governor. (As of this writing, Graham-Cassidy appears to be dead, but recent history suggests the repeal effort isn’t truly over until the Sept. 30 reconciliation deadline passes.) More pointedly, he has promoted these measures using a rationale he has already himself disproved. Why? Pence obviously wants to remain loyal to his boss and the GOP agenda—but he’s also boxed in by his own past success. If the vice president told the whole truth, he’d have to admit that as governor he showed that the ACA already allows states to “innovate” with “new ideas” about health care. According to Republicans, Graham-Cassidy seeks to solve the alleged inflexibility of Obamacare toward states that want to color outside the lines. But Pence’s own record proves that this problem is simply nonexistent.

And that’s it for now. Again, thanks for all you do to buoy me up at times like this. It helps. It really does.

Posted at 11:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 65 Comments

Breaking news.

Hey, guys. I just announced this on Facebook, but for those who aren’t over there: I was laid off this morning. Yes, it came as a surprise. Yes, there’s severance. Beyond that, I should probably keep my mouth shut. But if you’re a Detroit reader, and you know anyone who’s hiring, believe me I am all ears.

These things happen. It’s never happened to me before, but I guess it was my turn. I’m not really bitter, except OK I am, but I’ll get over it.

New horizons dead ahead.

Posted at 12:44 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 57 Comments