Your digital assistant, and no-show.

I have a deadline at lunch today, and it means I’m going to have to write through blog time. So accept this photo of a typical cool-weather evening on my couch —


— and a few links. (Wendy is quite the snuggler, when the snugglee is possessed of body warmth. Once the weather warms up, she’ll be back on her tuffet.)

I admit that I have yelled at Siri in the car. I have told her she’s a stupid fucking twit, that all I want is a sense of the traffic between me and downtown, and how should I phrase that request so you can understand it?! I wonder if I’d be so profane if her name was Sam, and she was a he. The Atlantic explores the issue.

Donald Trump says one thing, backtracks. Oh, how long 2016 will be.

Dahlia Lithwick with a genius proposal for Merrick Garland.

Back for the end of this long week tomorrow.

Posted at 12:15 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 53 Comments

The rebirth, and one death.

A pretty good weekend ripened into a perfect Easter — bell-clear, warm, perfect. The Facebook pictures on my feed are a glory of sunshine and pastels, little girls in pretty dresses and boys in bow ties, egg hunts and big family feeds

Me, I wore black. Still not ready to transition to my springtime color palette of white, beige and gray.

But a good weekend. It included “The Ten Commandments” (not the whole thing, of course, because there were commercials roughly ever 45 seconds), a David Bowie tribute concert, Easter, spaghetti and a few other wonderful things. Now a thunderstorm is drawing the curtain down on the whole thing. Not bad.

Here’s an OID story for you: A mediocre avant-garde artist partially disassembles a Detroit house and ships it to Rotterdam for an exhibition, promising he’d clean the whole thing up within six months.

Yeah, that was a year ago.

The story of 20194 Stoepel has become a tangled web of lofty artistic intentions, unintended consequences and broken promises, leaving neighbors living next to blight they say is worse than when the house was simply abandoned.

“I feel disrespected to the max, like we are nothing,” said Beverly Woung, who lives next door to the crumbling remains.

Which is bad enough, but when you read the guy’s self-justification, it’s enough to turn you into a Republican.

When I started on this project, my thoughts were clear. I wanted to bring a house back to Europe from America. When I arrived in Detroit in March 2015 I realised that this city – in the country I had left in 1992 out of distaste for its nationalistic, isolationist, police-dog mentality and its privatised prison system, along with its thick dictionary of rules and tax codes and its ingratiating political correctness – had, aside from the positive developments that were mostly in the downtown area, begun to look like a war zone.

This guy is such a douche it takes your breath away. And now the city is going to have to clean up his mess.

What happens when you make a great research university an arm of the state chamber of commerce. In Wisconsin, specifically.

But the big news of the weekend is the death of Jim Harrison, a great poet, novelist, gourmand, and Charlotte’s neighbor. It was only a matter of time — he was old and looked terrible — but it’s still a shock. I won’t sugarcoat his last few books, which were not his best and sometimes embarrassing to read, but when he was good, he was as good as anyone. And he wrote a lot when he was good. Almost everyone slips a little in old age. And even when he wasn’t great, he was better than almost everyone.

A big loss. Now I have to download his last book.

Posted at 12:08 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments


The week is one pothole after another, but my shock absorbers are handling it. The weather needs to break; somehow I think a few open windows might make everything a little easier to take. (Pause.) Said every cabin-fever sufferer at this latitude since time immemorial.

This is spring-break time for the local schools, starting with Good Friday and continuing through next week. Strange to be divorced from that schedule for the first time in a decade. Of course, the only question I have of Holy Week is this: When is “The Ten Commandments” on TV?

And also, Passover.

Then jelly beans go on sale and the daffodils bloom. Hurry, please.

I can always tell I’m getting twitchy when I start obsessing on certain current events. This week: Trump and Brussels. I wish the world would stop giving these gifts to me, because I’d like to return both to the service desk. However, let’s use them to kick off the bloggage. Neil Steinberg on the Trumpian response to Brussels:

Because really, after the Brussels bombing, short of wrapping himself in explosives and setting himself off in some crowded public place, nobody could do the terrorist’s bidding with such alacrity as Donald Trump, running from station to station to spread the ISIS gospel.

“Frankly, we’re having problems with the Muslims,” he told Fox News. “These attacks are not done by Swedish people. That I can tell you. We have to be smart. We have to look at the mosques and study what’s going on. There is a sick problem going on.”

In other words, “Muslim = Terrorist.”

Which is exactly the reaction terrorists are looking for when they commit these atrocities. Like Donald Trump, they are uncomfortable with the idea of a tolerant Western society that welcomes all faiths. Like Donald Trump, they don’t think it’s wise for the West to include Muslims either. Like Donald Trump, they’d prefer the cultures remain separate and apart.

So eloquent. Ed and Gin and Tacos is a little harsher. Yesterday we talked about word salads? His post is called Word Cannon:

“What would you do?”


“What’s something?”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to ask someone else.”

About a third of the country is really excited at the prospect of this person getting in the White House.

This is reacting to the WashPost editorial-board meeting, of course. I wonder how many more of those he’ll be doing. Based on the reaction to this one? Not many, I’d wager. No upside.

The WashPost is pretty brutal on Belgium’s culpability in failing to spot the vipers in their midst:

BRUSSELS — The bomb attacks in Belgium offer new evidence of its security forces’ shortcomings in monitoring violent Islamist radicals, a failure that has allowed this country at the heart of Europe to become an incubator of terror.

One glaring example: Belgian authorities knew that at least one of the two siblings accused of blowing themselves up in Tuesday’s attacks — Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, 29 — had entered Turkey with the apparent intent of joining Islamist militants in Syria, according to a senior Turkish security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Bakraoui was stopped by Turkish authorities last summer at the Syrian border and sent to the neighboring Netherlands. But Belgian officials now say that at the time, they did not equate his attempt to join the fighters with a possible terrorist threat.

Pop culture news. Guess who died recently?

Clare Alden MacIntyre-Ross’ death on March 9 in Falls Church, Virginia, might have gone largely unnoticed by the larger world if she hadn’t been a Fresh Air Fund camp counselor in 1960 — and if her parents had let her take the subway.

The Scarsdale native was the daughter of former Scarsdale Mayor Malcolm MacIntyre, who was also the former president of Eastern Air Lines and under secretary of the Air Force under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Clare’s claim to fame was that she inspired Harry Chapin to write the love song “Taxi,” about former lovers who meet after years when he picks her up in his cab.

Finally, I really admire people who can turn Twitter into a form of dada art. Like this woman. Not for everyone, but I laughed out loud.

Man, doing the taxes this weekend is going to feel like a massage. Beginning, middle, end. Enjoy the week’s downslope.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 43 Comments

Self-critical Sunday.

Sunday afternoon. Time for clouds in my coffee, fat Sunday papers, mimosas. What am I doing? Staring at a screen. Not for the first time this year, I’m struck by a thought, Girl, you have GOT to get your shit together.

From the outside, my shit is mostly together, but it never feels that way. I put my tax documents in one place, I do my laundry, unfailingly, every weekend. My house is rarely surgical-theater clean but equally rarely a disaster area. And yet I never feel organized. I never can sit down without thinking that I should be doing something else. One deadline is met, another one looms in the great steeplechase of life and I feel like Velvet Brown, hanging on to the Piebald’s mane for dear life. All is chaos, where is the theory? And so on.

But as the kids say: Consider the alternative.

Argh. Oh, for a life of fewer distractions, but it’s not like I’m overwhelmed; my kid has flown the nest (more or less), and I’m no longer scrambling gig to gig. I’m just lazy, with the attention span of a fruit fly. Today, ladies and gentlemen readers, I am falling very short.

(Tomorrow will likely be fine, of course. It’s just one of those I-need-a-break days.) So with that! Cheerful! Greeting to the week! Let’s get to the bloggage, because there’s some good stuff here.

You like photo essays? Have I got a photo essay for you, via the NYT: Cuba on the edge of change. They induce the same uncomfortable feeling, located somewhere around the thrill of voyeurism, that Detroit ruin-porn pictures used to arouse in me. And there are some spectacular images in there.

I have a Cuba picture in my upstairs hallway, and I look at it often. (It’s next to the linen closet, so I have to.) Sometimes, when people ask me what Flint is like, I say, “All of the decay of Detroit, none of the faded grandeur.” Cuba is nothing but faded grandeur. Grandeur was its stock in trade, once upon a time. It has faded magnificently.

Remember what I say, often, about trusting local sources? Some fine reporting from Oregon Public Broadcasting about the elected officials, from Oregon and other states, who aided and abetted the Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover. Will they be indicted? I wouldn’t bet on it.

An interesting column about Bernie Sanders’, um, personality problems:

Here’s my problem with Bernie Sanders. With few exceptions, I agree with his positions on issues. But I don’t like him or his political temperament. He’d be an awful president.

I followed him carefully when I was editor of the Burlington Free Press in Vermont. Sanders was the state’s sole congressman, lived in Burlington, and would periodically visit with the newspaper’s editors and publisher.

Considering that the Free Press’ editorial positions were very liberal, reflecting the nature of a very liberal Vermont community, one might think that meetings with Sanders were cordial, even celebratory.

They weren’t. Sanders was always full of himself: pious, self-righteous and utterly humorless. Burdened by the cross of his socialist crusade, he was a scold whose counter-culture moralizing appealed to the state’s liberal sensibilities as well as its conservatives, who embraced his gun ownership stance, his defense of individual rights, an antipathy toward big corporations and, generally speaking, his stick-it-to-them approach to politics.

I hate to say it, but I’ve met a million of him through the years. And I never trust a person without a sense of humor.

Finally, this piece from New York magazine, about the problems in Kansas and Louisiana, who have followed the GOP policy prescription to the letter and now find themselves circling the drain:

In 2010, the tea-party wave put Sam Brownback into the Sunflower State’s governor’s mansion and Republican majorities in both houses of its legislature. Together, they implemented the conservative movement’s blueprint for Utopia: They passed massive tax breaks for the wealthy and repealed all income taxes on more than 100,000 businesses. They tightened welfare requirements, privatized the delivery of Medicaid, cut $200 million from the education budget, eliminated four state agencies and 2,000 government employees. In 2012, Brownback helped replace the few remaining moderate Republicans in the legislature with conservative true believers. The following January, after signing the largest tax cut in Kansas history, Brownback told the Wall Street Journal, “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.’ ”

As you’ve probably guessed, that model collapsed. Like the budget plans of every Republican presidential candidate, Brownback’s “real live experiment” proceeded from the hypothesis that tax cuts for the wealthy are such a boon to economic growth, they actually end up paying for themselves (so long as you kick the undeserving poor out of their welfare hammocks). The Koch-backed Kansas Policy Institute predicted that Brownback’s 2013 tax plan would generate $323 million in new revenue. During its first full year in operation, the plan produced a $688 million loss. Meanwhile, Kansas’s job growth actually trailed that of its neighboring states. With that nearly $700 million deficit, the state had bought itself a 1.1 percent increase in jobs, just below Missouri’s 1.5 percent and Colorado’s 3.3.

In Louisiana, there’s no longer money for indigent defense.

And with that, I’m going to go make dinner. Have a good week, all. I’ll try to show up where I’m expected.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 43 Comments

Birdwatching for lazy people.

If it’s spring – and it almost is – it must be time for various bird cams. I could go on a big long web search for my favorite – peregrine falcons – but in the meantime, there’s the spectacular, high-def, night vision DC Eagle Cam, featuring Mr. President and the First Lady, whose two eggs are being well-cared for. One is pipping right now. You chicken-coop keepers know what pipping is, right? No? It’s when the eaglet starts to peck its way out of the shell; in larger avian species, it can take a few days.

So that’s where we are. They seem to be good parents so far. Happy birdwatching.

Not quite spring, but it feels like it around here. Birdies singing their springtime songs, and this action in the back yard:


I made it the lock screen on my phone. Because I’m feeling a little starved for color.

Feeling also a little starved for sleep. So this may not last too long today. It’s been a long-ass, tough week. Lots of driving, lots of stress, and a husband with a cold. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot read another word about Donald Trump for at least 48 hours.

In other words, welcome, Friday.

Here’s a little bloggage, then I’m heading upstairs, OK?

The usual Onion genius:

WASHINGTON—Declaring that the president had been warned about naming a justice during an election year, a defiant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly held up the severed head of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland this afternoon while standing in front of the Capitol building.

And on the same subject, a little more straight-arrow, Dahlia Lithwick on the GOP’s treatment of Merrick:

He is Scalia’s polar opposite. A careful writer, an infrequent dissenter, a true believer that judges interpret law and don’t make it. That Obama chose to take identity politics off the table with the selection of another Harvard-educated white man will disappoint many of us who had desperately hoped for a court that looks more like America. But at a moment when people are quite literally fighting in the streets about what America should look like, the idea of Obama seeking to turn down the temperature isn’t all that surprising. By picking a “judge’s judge,” Obama has tried to steer the conversation from one about politics to one about courts. Right or wrong, he still believes there’s a difference.

Interesting stuff about DNA and bones and Ireland:

Radiocarbon dating shows that the bones discovered at McCuaig’s go back to about 2000 B.C. That makes them hundreds of years older than the oldest artifacts generally considered to be Celtic — relics unearthed from Celt homelands of continental Europe, most notably around Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

For a group of scholars who in recent years have alleged that the Celts, beginning from the middle of Europe, may never have reached Ireland, the arrival of the DNA evidence provides the biological certitude that the science has sometimes brought to criminal trials.

And with that, let’s start a weekend, eh?

Posted at 12:22 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments

Tax time.

Sometimes we must screw our courage to the sticking place. We must take advantage of a rainy day that promises to stay all day. We must dive into the pile of bills on the desk (and pay them) and then we must dive into the pile in the dusty shoebox on top of the bookcase and do the taxes (and pay them).

I use TurboTax, and I love it, but I often wonder if I’m making a terrible mistake, or leaving a grievous amount on the table, as they say. Love that metaphor of “the table,” which reminds me not of polished mahogany in a law-firm conference room, but the 3-by-6-foot plastic ones, with collapsible legs, an image I retained from an article I read years ago about what it’s like to sell to Walmart. No business lunches, not that there are many places to go in Bentonville, Ark., but a whole lot of windowless rooms with those tables in them. You go in, lay your goods down, and Walmart tells you what it will pay you for them. Then you outsource your labor to a sufficiently cheap third-world market to restore your profit margin, and drink your pain away at Applebee’s before flying back to wherever you came from.

Anyway, the table. All I want is to get my taxes off of it, and I’m 80 percent of the way there, with only a smallish sum to still be paid; thank you, higher-ed tax credits.

And in my world, these days, that’s what shapes up to be a fairly good weekend. Of course, it beats the alternative of going to Nancy Reagan’s funeral. Here’s one of the guests, Mr. T.:


Wearing his best outfit, as you can see.

Now. I know I am wading into treacherous waters here, that there are people out there who can make cogent and compelling cases for dressing down, as it were, but I’ve about had it up to here with them. The slobification of America may not be at a critical stage, but if this is the best you can do for the funeral of a former First Lady, you should consider staying home and sending a card. Mr. T. doesn’t stand astride a pile of money the way he once did, but surely he has one suit in his closet, and if he doesn’t, he’s famous enough to borrow one. Hell, he could rent one.

Last year we went out to dinner on our anniversary, to a nice place here in Detroit. It wasn’t nice-nice, but nice enough that I wore a dress and Alan a tie, and we fit in. I looked up halfway through the appetizer course to see two couples being seated at a nearby four-top. They were young, in their 20s, and the women looked spectacular, heels and hair and makeup and clothes, the sort of turnout that suggested at least an hour of prep work, on top of a lot of regular maintenance.

The men? Looked like boys. Sports jerseys, saggy jeans and sneakers, plus that ubiquitous young-male accessory, the baseball cap. Which they kept on throughout the meal. They sat down with women on one side of the table and men on the other, and if the girls had started holding hands and left together, I couldn’t have blamed them. They looked more like a couple than they did with their male partners.

I see this dynamic everywhere, and I don’t know where it comes from. Most of the sharp, Don Draper-level male dressers I know anymore are gay.

I’m not against casual dressing; I do it all the time. I’m for appropriate dressing, and again – the funeral of an important public figure, carried on national television in a beautiful setting, requires at the very least a business-level turnout, dark suit and tie for men and dark suit or dress for women, although some more vivid colors are fine if they have some connection to the guest of honor; Mrs. Reagan was known for her fondness for red, so sure, wear red if you like. I’ve heard of funerals where the deceased actually asked, in his or her advance directives, that guests dress a certain way, in Hawaiian shirts or Lilly Pulitzer or the colors of his or her favorite sports team. OK, fine – I’m not a hard-liner on this.

But surely you can do better than camo and a flag do-rag. Even if you are “colorful.” It’s not about you, dude.

Rant over. Speaking of baseball caps, here’s one I saw Saturday night:


Ha ha. I’m about reaching Peak Trump myself, especially after Friday night’s events in Chicago. But here’s another one, with a certain THANKS OBAMA theme to it. It’s about Trump’s bottomless need for affirmation:

Donald J. Trump arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April 2011, reveling in the moment as he mingled with the political luminaries who gathered at the Washington Hilton. He made his way to his seat beside his host, Lally Weymouth, the journalist and socialite daughter of Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post.

A short while later, the humiliation started.

The annual dinner features a lighthearted speech from the president; that year, President Obama chose Mr. Trump, then flirting with his own presidential bid, as a punch line.

He lampooned Mr. Trump’s gaudy taste in décor. He ridiculed his fixation on false rumors that the president had been born in Kenya. He belittled his reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Mr. Trump at first offered a drawn smile, then a game wave of the hand. But as the president’s mocking of him continued and people at other tables craned their necks to gauge his reaction, Mr. Trump hunched forward with a frozen grimace.

After the dinner ended, Mr. Trump quickly left, appearing bruised. He was “incredibly gracious and engaged on the way in,” recalled Marcus Brauchli, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, but departed “with maximum efficiency.”

Kind of a meh story about a meh topic – how Ben Carson came to endorse Trump – contains this delicious detail that I can’t get out of my head:

On several occasions, Trump and his wife Melania hosted Carson and his wife Candy for dinner at (Mar-a-Lago).

Mercy. Imagine the sparkling conversation at that table.

A little less levity, then? Josh Marshall on the violence at Trump rallies, with a warning.

One thing the Flint disaster may lead to is the end of the “let’s run government like a business” stuff, because as we know all too well, it doesn’t always work out.

And that wraps it up for me. Tip your waitresses and enjoy your week.

Posted at 12:15 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 36 Comments

Farther ahead at the halfway point.

More proofing to be done tonight, but hey — it’s Wednesday, i already got a lot done this week, and once Thursday starts the weekend is more or less under way. At least to my mind.

As you might imagine, I’ve been reading about Iceland between chores. Of course the Derringers will be visiting the Icelandic Phallological Museum, i.e., the penis museum. Which is? A collection of more than 200 penises from the animal kingdom, from whales to elves, and no, I’m not sure how the elf deal works. “I want to see the elf weiners!” Alan chirped. This marvel is only blocks from our apartment, so yeah — on the list.

I’m also looking forward to swimming there, as it’s apparently a big-deal national pastime, with wonderful public pools in every town, and each includes at least a couple of hot pots, for after-lap soaking. The oldest one in the country is steps from our apartment, and this amazing complex is a mile or two away. All the guides go into great detail explaining the scrupulous scrubbing one is expected to give oneself before dipping so much as a toe into the pools. It’s a very clean country, and I intend to abide by local customs.

Beyond that, I’m thinking lots of skyr, lamb, local beers, steam, walking and birdwatching at midnight.

Super Tuesday turned out pretty much as advertised. I’m trying to be aware that I’m living through history, and I should pay attention and take good notes, but I keep getting distracted by a) terror; and b) the need to laugh uproariously from time to time. That look on Christie’s face is one for the ages.

But now we have a little time before the next primary (it’s Michigan’s, although the mood here is not exactly outward-looking, as the Flint disaster is still the story everyone talks about), so let’s look at some different topics today.

Remember when Hamtramck, the little city within the big city (Detroit), elected the first majority-Muslim city council in the country? The local alt-weekly did a story about how they’re getting along, now that everyone’s settled into office now. The answer? There’s plenty of conflict, but not the kind you might expect:

One weekday afternoon I sit down at Aladdin Sweets, a popular Bangladeshi restaurant, with Kamal Rahman.

He’s with the Bangladeshi-American Public Affairs Committee, and he’s here to help set me straight on the history of immigrants from Bangladesh. A thin, well-educated 47-year-old with a slight accent, he tells me that people have come to Detroit from Bangladesh since the 1920s, although it’s been just a trickle compared to the flow of immigrants from, say, Lebanon or Iraq.

Rahman’s duties as cultural emissary have included documenting the way Islamic culture has blossomed in the Detroit area, and have even seen him take Sen. Hansen Clarke back to his grandparent’s village in Bangladesh. But the meat of his job is helping native-born Americans understand that immigrants aren’t invaders, in fact, they’re most often the victims of racism and bigotry. He tells of a Bangladeshi family who bought a house near Hamtramck High School and found it vandalized with the message, “You are not wanted here.” The family sold the house and never moved to Hamtramck.

“I think the fear is mostly of the unknown,” Rahman says. “People aren’t familiar with the new culture.”

These are the sorts of patently obvious things Rahman has to say over and over. Though he can do it articulately, you wonder why it’s necessary to explain that people fleeing sectarianism and terror would embrace America’s secular culture and ballot-oriented politics.

“Those who experience conflict, those who experience suffering, they tend to not to want to repeat it,” he says. “The Muslims that are coming here, most of them have suffered through war, through terrorism, through everything. They know what to avoid. It’s highly unlikely that someone would like to be in the same situation as they were before.”

These days, after seeing media people bring up Sharia Law again and again, he doesn’t even care to joke about it.

It’s a very good story. Recommended.

Because I don’t follow sports, I wasn’t very familiar with the Erin Andrews story. I find my old friend Jones’ story about it very compelling, though. God, what a horrible experience to go through; I hope she recovers everything she’s asking for. And when she testified that it never stops, she was right. It never stops.

On to the proofing.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 38 Comments

Clearing the desk.

A few stray notes and scraps I’ve been saving. Sorry, but we all have to empty drawers from time to time.

** Every time I think about the Supreme Court, I get irritated, thinking about one of the most preposterously obnoxious trolls of recent years — the time the National Review bitched about Sonia Sotomayor daring to pronounce her name the way she feels like pronouncing it. Why can’t she be more ‘murrican? A few of the viler blogs referred to her thereafter as Sodameyer.

I know it was just baiting, but keep that in mind when some winger whines about whoever the president ends up nominating.

** Kate had a friend over when she was home a few weekends ago, and they made a nest on the couch to watch “Six Feet Under.” Kate got up to make popcorn, and her friend popped up behind her. “In a popcorn popper? I have to see this!” she said. Nineteen years, and she’d never seen popcorn prepared in a home popper. And so another generation got to see this in action:


My siblings are in their 60s now. This was a gift from our Aunt Charlene when they were preschoolers.

** Jeb! has a monogrammed gun. I am not in the least surprised.

** Tonight may be the first night since we cut the cable cord that I regret it, because it’s… the Westminster Dog Show! Someone tell me how it went.

Everyone else, get through your Wednesday however you can.

Posted at 12:17 am in Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments

Another snap.

Monday night appears to be turning into a semi-regular no-show night for me. I apologize, for whatever it’s worth. (Not much.) This is the point in the winter where I begin to get mad at my coats, sick of flannel sheets, keenly interested in lying under down comforters until maybe April.

And what are we looking at for the end of the week? Single digits, just in time for the weekend. Yech. Ah, but we will make it through, as we always do.

Primary season, then. Bernie wins big, Trump wins big, Kasich finishes big, the Exclamation Point battling it out for fourth place. What a crazy race so far. What else is there to say? Maybe here’s a companion piece, a (wait for it) David Brooks column about the president:

(Over) the course of this campaign it feels as if there’s been a decline in behavioral standards across the board. Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted, have suddenly gone missing or are in short supply.

The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free. Think of the way Iran-contra or the Lewinsky scandals swallowed years from Reagan and Clinton.

We’ve had very little of that from Obama. He and his staff have generally behaved with basic rectitude. Hillary Clinton is constantly having to hold these defensive press conferences when she’s trying to explain away some vaguely shady shortcut she’s taken, or decision she has made, but Obama has not had to do that.

This is what much of the world is so angry about, mind you. Or rather, it’s what they’re concentrating their anger upon. They’re angry because they’ve been screwed over by a changing economy and an almost unbelievably greedy and uncaring elite that cares absolutely nothing for them. But they’re focusing it, many of them, on an administration that sees mostly convenient.

You know where people are angry? Flint. And who wouldn’t be? Every day the story gets more infuriating:

In sum, a review of the e-mails provided by Genesee County from several public-information requests appear to illustrate the inability, if not unwillingness, of city and state agencies to share information with the county as it investigated multiple Legionnaires’ cases. The clash among bureaucrats went on privately for months despite growing fears inside Flint among residents that something was deeply wrong with the city’s drinking water.

Imagine owning a house in Flint right now. I’d be angry, too.

Not much bloggage today, but if you’re one of those spreading the story that Michigan passed an anti-sodomy law this week, you’re wrong.

On to South Carolina, then.

Posted at 12:04 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 67 Comments


The Super Bowl is this weekend, which always reminds me to check my grocery coupons in the Sunday paper to see what the potheads at the Kraft and Pillsbury test kitchens have come up with to amuse us. Never do I get such a strong sense that drugs were involved than when I behold the recipe suggestions. A football field made of lime Jell-O, with yard lines of piped-on Cool Whip. A dip in a hollowed-out bread bowl in the shape of a football. Cheese-stuffed everything.

The year I was a journalism fellow, we threw a Super Bowl party for the overseas journalists, and i tried to come up with the most ridiculous possible nosh, and settled for something fairly pedestrian — guacamole in a low, rectangular dish, with sour cream piped-on yard lines, and PATS and PANTHERS in the end zones.

Of course, if cheese-stuffed deep-fried Doritos had been invented then, I’d have made those. I’ve been weirdly interested in this preposterous recipe for a few days, but I’m not invited to any parties this year, and there’s no way in hell I’d make them for two people. So another year will pass without experiencing cheese-stuffed deep-fried Doritos. I vow that I will pass the time trying to figure out how to add bacon to the recipe.

What’s your favorite Super Bowl food? Don’t say chili; it’s pedestrian.

So, Eric Zorn asked the other day if it’s sexist to describe Hillary Clinton as “shrill,” even if her voice does occasionally rise into the higher registers. I didn’t have to think for a second before thinking yes, it is sexist, and we should stop using that to describe not only Hillary but any woman. I think we’re just going to have to stop it the same way we stopped telling our black friends that they’re great dancers. Because “shrill,” even if it describes a person with a high, screechy voice, is making common cause with Rush Limbaugh and all his minions. You sound like the people saying stuff like this. Speaking of shrill.

Just one bit of bloggage before the weekend starts. Planned Parenthood was blocked from using public funds to serve poor women in Texas, and so had to stop serving them. Guess what happened? Pregnancies rose. Color me astounded, and I wonder what happened to the aboriton rate.

Whatever your Super Bowl plans are, I hope they include cheese. See you Monday.

Posted at 12:15 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 88 Comments