Here for the avocados.

Interesting discussion of Used-To-Be-ism, aka Rose-Colored Glasses Syndrome, in the comments the other day. It coincided with something I’ve been trying to do lately, in the current chaos: Notice, actively noting things that are better today than they were in the past.

It’s a way to stay sane, to take the long view, to remember all that arc-of-history stuff. The bright side is hard to find these days; the least we can do is notice…

Kinder, nicer young people. I’ve never gotten all the lazy-ass derision aimed at millennials. They’re fine people, and I don’t say that because I raised one. I say that because it’s true, and they got it, in large part, from the greater culture, and who knows how that happened? Preschool teachers + an admirable president + something in the air? I can’t say. All I know is, they’re fine. I don’t worry about them.

It’s easier to be different. Let wingnuts laugh at trans people and wring their hands about silly things like nonbinary people who want to be referred to by plural pronouns. Just let them. This will settle out with time. In the meantime, and at the end of it, it’ll be a little easier to be something other than, what’s the word? Basic.

Entertainment of all kinds? So plentiful. You can basically spend all day watching Netflix or listening to all the recorded music in the world. Avoid this behavior, however.

Food systems. Midwesterners: How old were you when you saw your first avocado? Yeah, I thought so. Produce used to be lettuce, onions, pink tomatoes and potatoes. No different kinds of potatoes, just potatoes. In the last months I’ve bought fennel, three kinds of citrus, fresh greens of all kinds…I can’t total it all up. And yes, avocados. Which are in season, and so cheap.

Better…things. One of my bosses, who as a young man seemingly held every low-level job in creation, revealed the other day he used to drive a route for a linen supply house. One of the things he delivered was those cloth towels on rolls, that you used to dry your hands in public restrooms. You know, the kind you pulled down from a box on the wall? The used part was allegedly taken up by the box at the other end of the loop, but it rarely did, and you mostly ended up using the same damp section everyone else used. Well, today I used a restroom, and waved my hand in front of an electric eye, which dispensed a perfectly sized portion of paper towel. Yes, I am speaking of the Miracle of the Paper Towel.

In other words, we’ve ruined the planet, but at least we have 69-cent avocados, pink grapefruit and paper towels. I’m watching a terrible movie from 1972 on my flat-screen TV, which features naked witches with big boobs. LIFE IS GOOD, DAMMIT.

And as Alex pointed out, throwing your mattress away along the side of the road is terribly frowned upon.

Things I wish were more frowned upon: A guy in the elevator the other day was doing business on his phone. On speaker. It was a real-estate deal, and he’d offered $4 million, but another bidder was offering $6 million. “I can go to six, if you give me a year,” he told the guy on the other end. “Work with me.” Then they got disconnected. There’s a special place in heck for people like that. I mean, on speaker?

I have really gone off the rails tonight, haven’t I? Must be this witch movie on Amazon. Skip to the bloggage, then.

I’ve never met Tommy Tomlinson, but he’s a Facebook friend, and married to a former co-worker of mine. This is a powerful essay on what it’s like to be obese all your life, an excerpt from a coming memoir.

After the president claimed human traffickers have “bigger, stronger, and faster vehicles than our police have,” I can’t lie: I lusted for a Mexican rocket car.

The president came south today, and came dressed for battle. Robin Givhan explains.

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 9:15 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 37 Comments
 

Not watching either.

Nope, I’ll be reading a book.

Open thread. I got nothing, alas. Let’s talk about what happens tonight.

Posted at 8:15 pm in Current events | 48 Comments
 

Deleting in the underwear drawer.

No big themes emerging as I sit down to wrap up the weekend, so accept this mixed grill:

Lately my social media feeds are showing me ads for undies — all sorts of undies, almost all of which I will never buy, because I think $20 for a pair of plain old panties is highway robbery. I think I mentioned the phenom of Startup Underwear here a while back, but that’s not why I bring it up.

It’s because the short video clips included in these ads frequently include un-models, i.e., normal-looking women with pregnancy stretch marks, fat asses and similar real-women bodies, and please note that I didn’t describe the above as “figure flaws.” Apparently women respond well to advertising that shows clothing on women’s bodies they actually identify with.

As part of my Delete campaign, I’ve been going through closets and looking for crap to pitch. I found a strapless/backless bra with still-firm elastic that doesn’t fit anymore, but might fit Kate, so I offered it to her. “It’s not something you’ll wear every day, but when you need it, you’ll want it,” I said. As I passed it over, I noticed the label: Victoria’s Secret. I remembered I bought it in…Fort Wayne, probably at Glenbrook Mall. Glenbrook was Da Place back then, but it’s a shadow of its former self. Also, malls in general are shadows of their former selves. And Victoria’s Secret, with its “fashion shows” featuring models with nine-foot-long legs, tight abs and gigantic fake breasts, is now a low-quality joke, mainly coveted by middle schoolers who still want PINK emblazoned across their butts. How the wheel, it do turn.

We took the holidays to the curb Sunday. It was Epiphany, a few days later than we usually do the chore. For a person like me, very little feels better than sweeping up that giant pile of pine needles and saying sayonara, tannenbaum. Kate said it makes her sad to not smell the tree in the house anymore, so there goes my scheme for a bare-branch tree next year, but oh well.

If I’m committed to Delete, deleting the holiday decorations feels pretty damn consequential, even if they’re just going back to the basement. A fellow blogger once observed that taking out the tree on New Year’s Day is like getting a room added to your house. Nothing to do now but wait for spring, and in the meantime, read some books and watch Netflix.

On that front: Watched “First Reformed” on Saturday, which I do not recommend to the Rev. Jeff, as it will probably make him want to stick his head in the oven. I liked it, Alan didn’t. Also watching the second season of “Atlanta,” which is spectacular. I’m reading “The Real Lolita” and “Dead Girls,” both of which I received for Christmas, both good so far. I also got the Sister Pie cookbook, a local bakery’s, which looks promising.

Finally, everybody’s talking about Rashida Tlaib’s comments about the president last week. You may want to see what she wrote two years ago, after she disrupted then-candidate Trump’s speech to the Detroit Economic Club. It was a planned protest that involved more than 20 people, who bought tickets, spread out in the room and, one after another, rose to yell at him, and then were frog-marched out of the place. In other words, she’s been after this motherfucker for a while. Good background to know.

With that, I bid you and the holiday season adieu, and look ahead to deleting more stuff.

Posted at 8:25 pm in Current events, Movies, Same ol' same ol' | 42 Comments
 

Trump country, on both sides of the bars.

One of the lesser-remarked-upon gifts of the holidays came from Kate, who, because she’s a college student, gets Showtime for practically nothing, bundled with her already low-cost Spotify account. She loaded the app on our TV box when she was home, and as a result we were able to watch “Escape at Dannemora” over these past few nights.

I liked it. A lot.

It’s a seven-part series about the 2015 escape, by inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat, from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York. You probably remember; they got out with the help of a female civilian employee, and stayed out for more than three weeks, surviving on food stolen from a series of Adirondack hunting cabins, using the dense forest cover to escape detection from an intense manhunt. But they didn’t get away clean, because how often does that happen? Matt was shot to death, and Sweat was also shot, but taken alive. The civilian employee, Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, who it turned out was having sex with both of them in the course of supervising them in the prison tailor shop, ended up behind bars for her role in all of this.

I read a few reviews of this when it was released about a month ago. The primary complaint was that it was too long, suffering from “Netflix bloat,” i.e., the tendency for projects like this to be padded out to make a season out of what could be a two-parter. I didn’t find this to be true, mainly for the way it observed the entirety of the Clinton Correctional universe, particularly the corrupt culture among the prison staff, which made it easy to smuggle contraband hacksaw blades and other tools into the facility, blurring the line between the criminals and those charged with keeping them behind bars. You really feel how shitty and depressing life is on both sides of the cell door; Dannemora is referred to as “Little Siberia” for its deep winters, and working at the prison is probably the best gig in town for the working class. But it sucked, because how could it not?

My favorite episode was the penultimate one, a flashback compilation that introduces the three main characters via their histories, the two prisoners committing the crimes that landed them in Clinton, and Tilly’s shady romantic affairs with her ex-husband and the one who takes his place. We see her working at a shoe factory maybe 20 years before the escape, already dumpy and frowzy, trading sex to get ahead in the world, in a place where sex is about the only pleasure to be had outside of food and Bud Lite. It’s not surprising to see her working later in the prison, because the shoe factory probably closed, its jobs sent out of the country. (A little Googling shows that was indeed the fate of the Tru-Stitch facility.) After a while, what’s the difference between living in a cell and living in a house nearby? In many ways, not all that much.

Some critics have pointed out that the “escape” doesn’t happen until the final episode, but honestly, I didn’t mind. And if there were a noticeable number of long, contemplative shots of the Adirondack forest rolling off to the horizon in waves, well, all it did was remind me what it must have looked like to a man who hadn’t seen freedom in many years.

All three leads were outstanding. Paul Dano captured Sweat’s keen intelligence and patience. Patricia Arquette must have gained 60 pounds to play Tilly, and is nearly unrecognizable. And Benicio del Toro as Matt did a great job of embodying a man who, it turns out, not only belonged in prison, he did everything possible to get himself back there — until he was shot to death. And Ben Stiller directs with a confidence that surprised me. But I guess an actor knows how to work with actors.

Anyway, the nights are still long and cold, and will be so for a few more months. It’s worth your time.

So.

Big news today, obviously. I just read this in the Axios PM newsletter:

Between the lines: The two sides of the House chamber looked drastically different today, Axios’ Caitlin Owens notes.

All but 13 House Republicans this Congress are men, and the vast majority are white.

While the GOP side of the chamber was filled with dark suits and red or purple ties, the Democratic side was filled with colorful attire and people of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds.

I think that says it all, and I’ve gone on for a while. Time to walk Wendy and think about dinner. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 6:00 pm in Current events, Television | 41 Comments
 

Peace, quiet and books.

Happy new year. I hope your 1/1/19 was peaceful and not too hungover. Our neighborhood resounded with gunfire, a Detroit tradition that seems to get worse every year. Yesterday was trash day, and the recycling is always the last to be collected, so the bin was still at the curb, looking ugly. I went down to pick it up shortly after we got home, around midnight-oh-five. Alan told me not to, but I did it anyway, because I like to live dangerously. Cover me, babe, I’m going for the recycling bin.

Meanwhile, in Washington:

Trump used the first day of 2019 to insult a retired U.S. commander in Afghanistan as a dumb loudmouth, sing the praises of an ultranationalist former aide and tell America to “ENJOY THE RIDE.”

That’s a teaser from the home page of the Washington Post. I’m afraid to click. So I won’t. OK, so I will. The self-proclaimed world’s greatest negotiator has invited congressional leaders for a briefing on border security, which I’m sure will be followed by this negotiation tweet: GIVE ME WALL.

But we’ll see that soon enough. Let’s talk…libraries, shall we?

I heard a little of “This American Life” on Sunday; the show was about libraries, and the chapter I heard was about a woman whose mother would take the whole family to the library every day for a year when she was little. It wasn’t until years later that she realized they’d been homeless, and the daily library trip was to give the family they were crashing with a break. She talked about the great children’s librarians who accommodated them and read to them and never made them feel anything but welcome.

It set my mind spinning back to when Kate was young, and I was trying to make it work with her in limited child care, which meant I dropped her at the sitter after lunch. The mornings are good for little kids, but the hours can be very long, and you’re always looking for something to fill them. We’d often go to the library, for story time, or just for a change of scenery from the house. The Allen County Public Library is a goddamn miracle, an institution worthy of a community far larger but somehow in this mid-size city (the county, really). The community loved it fiercely, with a few sourpuss exceptions, and for the most part, the library loved it back. There were programs for pretty much everyone, and the children’s room was particularly great.

I remember all the fantastic librarians who made us, and everybody else, feel welcome. The supervisor was a lesbian, Miss Mary (I think), who had a couple kids of her own. One of her deputies, Miss Beth, often ran story time and was hilarious. I was about as lucky as a mother of a young child could be, but when I think back on those years, I know how much I relied on others to help carry the load, and the library was a big part of it. It was one place in Fort Wayne where I felt absolutely welcome.

Here in Detroit, we don’t have a county-wide library system, and each city and suburb does its best. In Huntington Woods, they’ve instituted a drag queen story hour, which honestly sounds hilarious and something I would have enjoyed with a toddler. But as you can imagine? Some people object:

Warriors for Christ — which describes itself on its website as a pre-denominational ministry modeled after “the 1st century church that Jesus founded (which is not the Catholic Church)” — plans to meet at the library at 3 p.m. on Jan. 26 for prayer. This protest coincides with a scheduled Drag Queen Story Time, whose theme is “I Like Me Just the Way I Am!,” according to a Facebook event page.

The ministry has started its own Facebook event page, Rebuke Drag Queen Story, to get people to attend the protest.

Another group, Mass Resistance, has previously said it will be protesting the event.

And Rod Dreher, the conservative writer whose focus has dwindled down to Pedophile Priests and the Trans Menace, is also pitching a snit over it on his blog:

Why not Leather Daddy Story Hour? If you accept Drag Queen Story Hour, why not? What is the limiting principle? I’m not trolling; I’m asking seriously.

I guess the limiting principle would be whether parents are willing to take their children to that story hour. I’d probably have opted out of that one, but drag queens? What’s the harm? Kids see very tall women with too much makeup, playing a role. Big deal. And if they learn that people come in all shapes, sizes and …other differentiating factors, so much the better.

OK, then, a little bloggage:

The NYT podcast, The Daily, spent the holiday interregnum rerunning some of the year’s better pieces. This edition was a particularly good one, a deep look at how POTUS got rich. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to tell you that the origin story he peddled on the campaign trail — my dad gave me a loan, I paid it back with interest, and spun it into the billions I have today — is, um, a lie.

And this story, about the possibilities of “deepfake” videos, is deeply disturbing. Wait until the Russians start deploying it.

But I don’t want to bum you out as the year begins. Let’s go get it.

Posted at 8:10 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 35 Comments
 

The whirl.

Mercy, you folks must wonder what’s become of me. Honestly, it’s been a week. Nothing bad, but just constant running/driving/cooking/celebrating, to the point I’ve looked longingly at the calendar from time to time and longed for mid-January.

And then, when it finally arrives, I’ll be thinking, that was such a nice Christmas, wasn’t it? Because contradiction, thy name is Nance.

And it was a nice Christmas. If I’m feeling a little carb-bloated, well, I have no one to blame but myself. I got everything I wanted and more. We had a nice celebration here and in Columbus. Kate’s boyfriend came for the holiday — he’s an international student, and with Michigan’s short break, there was no sense in traveling all the way to Santiago for just a few days. We watched “Die Hard” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” We ate tamales on the Eve and had hot chocolate in my old Dutch double-walled milk warmer. Everything was fine.

Then, the next day? BACK TO WORK, GUYS. Although it’s not the usual grind — one of my jobs is dark this week, so it’s still a pretty leisurely pace. Time to think about what happens in January, plan for the year ahead, to the extent it’s possible.

The one-word resolution for 2019: Delete. Delete crap apps from the devices, delete all games, delete as much b.s. as possible from daily life.

We’ll see how that goes.

I’ve been following the comments these past few days, and I’m so grateful to have traveled to Paris with Deborah, to have celebrated with all of you, one way or another. (But especially to have gone to Paris. I mean, I’m sure Chicago was fine, but…) And I’m grateful to have been alive in this remarkable American moment, to watch the president of the United States ask a 7-year-old if she still believed in Santa Claus.

Because man, you couldn’t make that shit up, could you.

A few updates before I turn this over to you guys for the long New Year’s weekend:

Remember Ann, the Mrs. Claus I wrote about for the Santa-school story? She performed for a special audience just before the holidays:

She said she asked Bill if he’d been a good boy, but he didn’t hear her.

And Jerusalem Santa, in the same story? He’s in the WashPost now.

This was depressing, but in a grim-purpose sort of way: What it’s like to work for a not-particularly-exciting-or-prestigious daily newspaper in the age of fake news. A good read.

And with that, I wish you a happy new year, and I’ll see you all in 2019.

Posted at 8:29 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 81 Comments
 

The homestretch.

The holidays are bearing down on us like a tsunami, but all things considered? It could be worse. Today the phony-baloney Trump Foundation began its final death spiral, and that is good news:

The attorney general’s investigation turned up evidence that Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — all listed as officers of the charity — had never held a board meeting. The board hadn’t met since 1999. The charity’s official treasurer, Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg, told investigators that he wasn’t aware that he was on the board.

I know it’s foolish to believe that one day we might see all the Trumps disgraced and in bracelets, but we can always hope. This made my day, anyway.

I’m not sure how much more I’ll be here this week. Just too much to get done between now and then. I don’t have much to offer today, other than this good wish for the weekend and the holiday to come: May you relax, and smile, and enjoy yourselves. Friday will be the longest night of the year, and then we start our six-month trip back into the sun’s good graces. That noted Capricorn, Jesus Christ, has his birthday party on Tuesday, and maybe we’ll be back by then. Or maybe not.

In the meantime, know that the Trump family will have a thoroughly miserable holiday. The needed to be careful what they wished for, because hey, they got it.

Posted at 8:40 pm in Current events | 85 Comments
 

Funeral for a friend.

Jeez, what a sucktastic Saturday. I spent much of it traveling to, attending and returning from a funeral. The husband of my former editor at Bridge (the one I still speak to and like) died suddenly, of an apparent heart attack. At 37. Everyone was in shock, and the funeral home was filled to capacity with very sad people.

Derek still seemed flattened, and I expect he will be for some time. The two of them made one of those unlikely pairs that somehow works perfectly — the curmudgeon and the happy sprite, with Derek, the journalist, playing the curmudgeon role. The good news is, he has lots of people holding him up, many of whom wore bow ties to the service, in tribute to the deceased, Jesse, who wore them often.

Anyway, it got me thinking.

I found this Twitter thread last week. Someone dug up Ross Douthat’s college writings and found, whaddaya know, he hasn’t really changed since 1998. He was a smug little shit then, and remains one today. I was taken by the one headlined, “The Cross and the Triangle,” sniffing over the appointment of a lesbian to an associate-minister position at Memorial Church, which I gather is an important one at Harvard. Young Ross was “opposed to homosexual conduct,” like his church and, he points out, many others. Damn liberals.

It was a reminder that roughly 20 years ago was an utterly different era in how we think about gay people in this country. One of the last funerals for a gay person I attended was during the AIDS era, when it was common for health-care professionals and even morticians to refuse their business. My friend Paul had to find a new dentist. I expect some of the funeral directors would have preferred ditch burials, maybe preceded by an open burn, like for zombies.

But of course AIDS was, paradoxically, also one of the things that started to change our thinking. I once asked one of my gay male friends, who came of age in the ’70s, how many sex partners he’d had in his lifetime. First we had to determine what constituted sex, and settled on any activity where one or both parties reached orgasm, since body fluids were what was causing the plague. He had to estimate. It was a big number. A big, big number, and fairly common for that era, at least for men. A few years later, he was the one in the casket, having been lovingly cared for through a horrible illness by a partner he considered a husband. It was common at the time to consider gay men infantile pleasure-seekers, incapable of true romantic connection with another human being. (This, even though every city and town, large and small, had its Fred and Howard or Bob and Steve, two “roommates” who’ve shared a house for decades and always decorate it so nicely at the holidays and invite all the auxiliary ladies to use it for their fundraisers. I knew one of these guys back in Columbus; they had a custom drape to hang over the mural of semi-nude Roman centurions lounging around in leather harnesses, etc., when the auxiliaries came through.) Seeing how they mourned their dead put that one to rest.

Anyway, back to the funeral. The woman who led the service was a lesbian, and her partner/wife was one of the eulogists, speaking of their “gayborhood,” and their “framily.” I’m so happy that people don’t have to live lies anymore, to be “confirmed bachelors” but actual husbands to other husbands, wives to wives. Life goes better when you have someone you love sleeping next to you every night, drinking coffee with you in the morning, and you don’t have to hide it.

I expect I’m now at the age when the funerals will come more often. We had a “celebration of life” last summer. Saturday was a celebration of life, too, only no one was feeling particularly celebratory.

Sigh.

Otherwise? I’ve got a big day of writing ahead, so I should wrap. A little bloggage:

Thanks to LAMary for this, a collection of social-media shots from the White House staff holiday party. Folks, I’m worried about Tiffany. Very, very worried. She doesn’t look well.

If you aren’t one of those who caught this charming story about an unlikely friendship between Charles Barkley and Lin Wang, enjoy it now. Who is Lin Wang? That’s what makes the friendship unlikely.

On to my friend’s arts-grant application. Happy start-of-the-week, all.

Posted at 11:41 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 28 Comments
 

Smocking hot.

It seems as though I read a while back — which, in this insane time, could mean anything from two days ago to a year ago January — that Trump deliberately uses bad grammar, random capitalizations and misspellings in his tweets, because that’s the way “the base” writes, and it helps them claim him as their own.

I believe it. Or, as we say these days, put that in your pipe and smock it.

Folks, I’m feeling out of sorts this week. Dunno why. I’m just slow and sluggish and fat and farty and tired. My knees hurt, and all I want to do is read about Michael Cohen and his bottomless misery, as well as his future in an orange jumpsuit.

So let’s get to the bloggage, because I have to be back at work in…eight hours.

What was I saying about maybe trying to get into “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”? I don’t think so anymore. I think Emily Nussbaum hits that nail pretty squarely. Reminded me of why I quit watching in the first season.

For you Hoosiers and Buckeyes: The estrangement of the Amish Cook from the editor who launched the column (and, she suspects, cheating her out of her end).

I think I know why I’m not feeling it this week: We reached the end of the most recent Great British Baking Show, and the WRONG PERSON won. Team Ruby all the way here. Or even Kim-Joy. But not…him.

Into the rest of the week, then.

Posted at 9:58 pm in Current events | 51 Comments
 

A few days away.

This weekend seems to be all about luxury for me. I’m house-sitting/nannying at my friends’ house two miles away from my own. They’re in London, but their 15-year-old twins are here, and the dogs need to be fed. So this is really a pretty sweet gig — the girls are self-sufficient and look after themselves, the dogs just need to be let into the yard from time to time, and the house is very pleasant. I basically just sit around and wait to do practically nothing, ensuring there is an Adult Presence on call and no teen ragers take place, because the midcentury modern furniture is too nice for that.

This must be what it’s like to be in a harem, only I don’t have to screw anyone. I never realized how much I do on a typical Saturday until I didn’t do anything. It felt pretty good.

(Of course, this means I’ll have to do the laundry Tuesday, when I get home, but eh, no biggie. There’s something to be said for watching the rabbits play on the front lawn as the sun comes up, listening to the coffeemaker burble away in the kitchen. Also, the bed I’m sleeping in is vast and has a firm mattress. After all this exertion, I took a siesta yesterday afternoon that was the best nap of my life.)

Here’s my buddy Leo. We’re reading the Times together.

And besides lounging, that’s what this weekend has been about, for me: Reading the Times. Reading the Post. Reading reading reading reading, because I don’t want to miss a nuance of the news breaking this weekend, which, like so many things, has been right in front of us all along. I’ve been checking Deplorable Twitter for reaction, and — this house having cable TV — an occasional Fox News fly-by, but there’s nothing there you wouldn’t expect. Just crickets or BFD. I expect we’ll have to wait for another round of pulse-taking out in Red America to find out what they’re thinking.

A few days or weeks ago — who can say — I saw a story about a farmer who was starting to suffer from the agricultural tariffs. He was feeling the pain, he said, but he just had to keep believing the president knew exactly what he was doing, and all would be revealed soon. I’ve seen less childish belief from first-graders talking about Santa Claus. I expect that’s what’s going on out there now.

So! How was your weekend? Leave links in the comments, if you wish. There are so many stories about what’s going on out there, I feel like I can’t pick just two or three, especially when so much of what I read is behind paywalls. But there’s this, from Politico, on what’s going on in North Carolina, and it’s free:

In the two weeks since Thanksgiving, Bladen County has been the focus of investigations into irregularities in the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district. Specifically, how did the Republican, Mark Harris, win 61 percent of the absentee-by-mail votes when Republican voters only requested 19 percent of all absentee ballots? How did he manage to win the county at all, given the fact that it has three times as many registered Democrats as Republicans?

The numbers are close enough to jeopardize Harris’s apparent 905-vote victory over Dan McCready and might even force a redo of the election. That a small-scale fraud in a rural county of only 35,000 people could have fudged the result of one of the most watched Congressional races in the country is a reminder once again of the outside influence of economically left behind places like Bladen County, where the poverty rate is 20 percent and the median household income of $32,396 is about half the national median.

Local and national news outlets have done a fairly convincing job assigning blame for this fraud to a man named Leslie McCrae Dowless. A lifelong county resident, Dowless took money from an organization that took money from Harris’s campaign and, in turn, handed that money out to anyone willing to go door-to-door and persuade people to request and then hand over absentee ballots. A few of the foot soldiers have confirmed their parts, and several voters signed affidavits saying someone took their unsealed and incomplete ballots, which is illegal.

A fruitcake true-crime story for fruitcake season, via Laura Lippman. I’m only halfway through, but it’s wonderful, and so far, there haven’t been any murders.

With that, I find that I grow weary of this back-breaking labor, and need to relax some more. Happy Sunday, all.

Posted at 9:43 am in Current events | 61 Comments