Exit, sooner. Please.

I’ve been reading, off and on all weekend, about how President Trump intends to spend his post-presidency. Bottom line: He’s still going to be out there whoring for attention, and the attention-whore-chasing media will no doubt point cameras and microphones at him.

Whereas this is what I was thinking: I don’t want to see his hamsteak face or his asshole-shaped mouth, ever again. I don’t want to see his ridiculous hair, nor his sex-worker wife, nor his weird kid, nor his pathetic kid, nor the three O.G. kids – the stupid one, the other stupid one, and Government Barbie. I don’t want to hear his braying voice. I don’t want to hear any of his vocal tics, including “many people are saying” or “it was fantastic” or “no one had ever seen this before” or “they said, ‘Sir, we’re so sorry this happened to you,'” or really anything out of his asshole-shaped mouth again. I don’t want to see his veneers in that ghastly rictus smile. I don’t want to see his bubble butt, his man-boobs, his entourage of hideous men and sex-cyborg women. I don’t want to even see another pair of stiletto heels, maybe ever. Don’t want to see corkscrew-curl hair on women, cheek implants, breast implants, nose jobs or inflated lips, either. I don’t want to see Jared. Later, Ben Carson. Later, Steve Mnuchin, and take blondie with you. Bye, Wilbur Cox, Andrew Giuliani, Betsy DeVos and everyone else in the West Wing, including the mice and the flies.

If I’ve forgotten anyone, consider yourself wished into the cornfield.

As the kids say: I don’t want any of your names in my mouth.

But tomorrow, I am increasingly inclined to believe, the state Board of Canvassers will likely deadlock on certifying the election. The turmoil will go on.

How was your weekend? Mine was OK. Got some more stuff done in the basement. Got the laundry done. Got a few errands run. Watched a mediocre movie (“The Nest”). Threw more crap away. Cleaned the kitchen. Made mushroom risotto. During the stirring, I considered all the things I mentioned in the second paragraph. Watched “America’s Next Top Model” reruns on Netflix for as long as it was tolerable (1.5 episodes), which at least made me think about something other than The Man With the Asshole-Shaped Mouth.

Posted at 8:48 pm in Current events | 106 Comments
 

Still ratf*cking.

I should have written this last night, but I was, like you, preoccupied by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, who took what should have been a routine meeting to discuss the election, and then a unanimous vote to certify it, turned into an hours-long shitshow.

It’s pretty clear what their game is: Yell CHEATERS CHEATERS FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD until they run out the clock. It’s maddening, but this is what the GOP has been reduced to by propaganda and insanity. It’s a really dark time. They’re knocking out an essential support post of democracy, i.e. faith in fair elections. Once lost, it won’t be easily restored.

I wrote a column today, but think I won’t submit it to my editor; it just feels like too much. Should I paste it here instead? OK, here you go:

There is a phrase in politics to describe people who are loyal to the cause, who can be counted on to spread propaganda, parrot party lines and talking points and otherwise yay-team through every election cycle without requiring too much care and feeding: Useful idiots.

Some say the phrase originated with Vladimir Lenin, although that’s unsubstantiated. I thought of it Tuesday night, watching the slow-motion disaster of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers take down my fellow Grosse Pointe Woods resident, Monica Palmer. A mudslide of outrage gathered in the moments following her vote, and that of her fellow Republican on the board, Bill Hartmann, to not certify the county election, as canvassers nearly always do. The vote put the board in deadlock and for a few hours threatened the wrapup of the November election.

Their concern is that nearly three-quarters of Wayne County precincts were “out of balance,” i.e., that the voters recorded did not match the votes cast. The same problem was discovered in the August primary, and they asked Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to do something about it.

Early Tuesday morning, GOP consultant Stu Sandler tweeted disapprovingly that Benson had failed to do so. To continue the mudslide metaphor, this was a rumble from higher up the mountain, in the midst of a drenching rainstorm. If this was a movie, the birds would have all taken off from their perches, and deer and rabbits would have bounded away. Palmer and Hartmann marched on, and when, hours later, they used these imbalances as part of the justification to vote against certification, the debris began to tumble down the mountain.

As most people know, the vote was reversed after a few hours of unrelenting outrage, delivered by Zoom to the board (which could only have made it that much worse). But almost as soon as the first vote was taken, Michigan GOP chair Laura Cox issued a press release she’d obviously had ready to go, suggesting the vote was expected.

It’s hard to know what the play was here. Every element of it seemed to be so ham-fisted, so clueless, so…Trumpian, it’s hard to get your head around. The fact the two GOP board members were white and suburban, the two Dems Black Detroiters. The way Palmer said she’d certify the non-Detroit parts of Wayne County, even though many of those suburban communities had similar problems, but not Detroit. The way Palmer’s husband, Richard Shetler, immediately posted on his own Facebook news of the board’s vote, adding, “Huge win for #realDonaldTrump!” (He has since deleted it.)

All I could think was, Girl, Stu Sandler and Laura Cox loaded you into a cannon and fired you into the sun. Do you see that now?

Because it was Palmer and Hartmann, and not Sandler and Cox, who were singled out for punishment, including at least three outraged op-ed pieces published Wednesday by respected writers, with probably more in the works. The social media was far ruder, and Palmer, who physically resembles something of an ur-Karen, took the worst of it, because women always do. She was repeatedly called a racist, a vote-grabber, a disenfranchiser, one who would strip the hard-won power of the ballot from a city she doesn’t live in, and a racist a few hundred more times, and over what? One-half of one percent of the total votes cast in the city of Detroit, for errors that anyone who has worked an election knows are commonplace and entirely forgivable.

I suspect she’ll learn soon that charges of racism will follow her for a while – weeks, months, maybe years. She’s already facing an ethics complaint in connection with her activism in the Grosse Pointe school board race. Her husband has been rumored for years to have his eye on the mayor’s seat in the Woods. Hard to win votes door-knocking in an increasingly diverse suburb, once your face has been plastered on national newscasts as the smiling white face of attempted Black voter disenfranchisement, and in service to a soundly defeated president, as well.

I asked someone with far more experience in Wayne County politics what his assessment of this debacle was. “Amateurs trying to play in the big leagues,” he sniffed. Lenin, it is said, had his own description.
———–

And that’s it for me today. Let’s hope the week improves, OK?

Posted at 9:08 pm in Current events | 92 Comments
 

Deja vu all over again.

Alan and Kate’s birthday is Monday, but we celebrated Friday. A month ago, when I bought tickets to a safe-as-you-can-probably-make-it indoor show, it seemed like a bet worth making. By Friday, however, with cases soaring, it almost seemed irresponsible, but we went anyway:

The details: A large indoor space, seating broken up into twos and fours, well away from one another. Masks required throughout the show, temperature checks upon entering, etc. It was a Miles Davis tribute, and the show was only 65 minutes long, another safety measure. It felt a little like the Israeli audience in Gulf War I who sat through the orchestral performance in gas masks while the Scud missile warnings screamed outside — part defiance, part foolishness. The two horn players would pull down their masks to play, pull them up when the other players were soloing. Can’t blame ’em.

I wore one of our scarcer KN-95 masks, though — tighter seal, harder to breathe in it, but it felt pretty secure.

And now, as of a couple hours ago, the health department issued a new lockdown order — no more indoor dining, drinking, movie theaters, casinos and…high schools and colleges. For three weeks. The health department had to issue it because the GOP-dominated state supreme court ruled a few weeks ago that the governor no longer had the power. You know what happened right after that? Yep, cases began to climb, steeply.

Has the GOP legislature come up with any alternative, after screaming for months that they needed to be part of the policy solution? Um, no.

So that’s where we are, heading into the holidays. I doubt we’ll see anyone outside the nuclear nugget. How’re you all?

Posted at 6:28 pm in Current events | 70 Comments
 

Mixed grill for the weekend.

A friend-ish friend from Columbus posted some pictures on Facebook last night. As best as I can date them, they’re from….1975-76. Here’s our mutual friend, Mark:

That’s one of the most ’70s pictures ever, I think — the aviator glasses, the hair, the ‘stache, the rings and of course, the haze in the air that pretty much always hung over the basement where that was taken. Someone else was there that night, too:

Yeah, that’s me and my first serious boyfriend, Peter. He’s no longer with us (one-car fatal). Neither are those glasses, thank the lord. Who was I trying to be? Gloria Steinem?

Ah, memories.

Another friend sent me this. I hasten to add that it was not because he believed it, or thought I might, but just because this is the sort of QAnon bullshit flying around. Ahem:

A recount of voting ballots nationwide was being done by elite units of the National Guard by early Sun. morning 8 Nov. To prevent fraud official ballots had been printed with an invisible, unbreakable code watermark and registered on a Quantum Blockchain System.

As of this writing, in five states 14 million ballots had been put through a laser scanner – 78% of which failed because there was no watermark to verify the ballot. Of those that failed 100% had checked for Biden.

An initial test showed that according to water marks on validated ballots fed into the Quantum Computer, Trump won re-election by over 80% of the legal ballot cast. The final validated vote tallied in that test: Trump 73.5 million votes to Biden’s 25.9 million – and that didn’t even account for Trump votes that people observed being tossed and never accounted for.

I’d actually seen this earlier in the week. The first reference to National Guard has been corrected; the original called them “National Guards,” and I recall from 2016 that small usage errors are a hallmark of bad actors speaking in foreign accents. I did chuckle over “Quantum Blockchain System.” If there are two words in the English language that are essentially meaningless, it’s quantum and blockchain. I know, I know — they have definitions. But a friend who edits financial news observed some times ago that if you want to bump a stock a few points, issue a press release with “blockchain” in the headline and watch the magic happen.

And remember, there are people in this world who believe this. Mercy.

Happy Friday to all. This weekend marks the beginning of BirthdayFest, i.e. the celebrations of Alan and Kate, followed nine days later by my own edging closer to Medicare. (On my legislative wish list: Early buy-in.) And then, Thanksgiving, which is looking increasingly like it will be a lonely, two-plate event around here. I had planned to eat with friends (because Alan has to work), but they’re both recovering from you-know-what, along with one of their two children, and so the calculus is: Go, and assume that this may indeed be the safest place to be? Or stay home?

At this point, I’m not sure I even want to go grocery shopping. I’m wearing the KN-95 mask now for even routine errands, and it’s starting to feel like…well, not good.

Last thing: Here’s a story I wrote this week, about a local TV news guy. A reader has already described the headline with poop emojis.

And that’s why we go into journalism: Shitty money, the loathing of the public and every jerkoff in the world expresses their opinions about your work with poop emojis.

Posted at 8:25 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 86 Comments
 

Flooding the zone.

Remember in “Gone With the Wind,” after Bonnie is killed in the riding accident, and Rhett takes her body into his room and won’t let anyone bury her because, he says, she’s afraid of the dark?

That’s Trump right now.

We need to send Miss Melly in there to talk him down. But there is no Miss Melly. Miss Melania is playing her own position. Maybe Ivanka can make some progress, but I doubt it. Deep down, I bet she wants to stay in the White House as much as her father. When crowds pour into the street in spontaneous celebration that you’re losing your job, you can figure no one will invite you to even a middling-good New York party. So you can go to Florida and relax in the Mar-a-Lago spa for a while — six months to five years should to the trick — or you can fight to keep your West Wing office.

What a crazy few days. I’m not as surprised by the lying, because that’s what Trump does. I am surprised at the apparent size of the people yelling MORE LIES MOOOORRREEE. I guess they’re just rage/adrenaline junkies. I do know this: I’ve heard enough from these yahoos. As Don Draper says: My life moves in one direction — forward.

So let’s go forward. Biden has named a chief of staff, and this is good. Keep acting like an adult, and let the toddler run around stinking up the room. Speaking of which, what will be Trump’s final FU as he leaves? I figure he’ll ditch the swearing-in itself and steal something from the White House. Maybe leave a toilet unflushed. The traditional letter left in the Resolute Desk will be interesting, too. Assuming there is one.

Man, I’m beat. Fresh thread, and I’m off to bed.

Posted at 9:26 pm in Current events | 57 Comments
 

The short game.

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here in the Midwest we’re enjoying a multi-day stretch of late-spring-like days — temperatures in the low 70s during the day and mid-40s at night. Lots of sunshine, too. And we named a new president just as the weekend was getting started.

If you were paying attention, you know the rest: Spontaneous joy and celebration broke out all over the country, especially in cities, and it was wonderful. Pretty much a perfect day all around. Alan had more driveway-sealing to do, so I took off with a friend to play two rounds of miniature golf. It was kind of a down-at-the-heels course, but who cares. Here was the Breeder’s Cup hole:

That horse has seen better days, for sure. But this was the only elephant I had to worry about all day:

We ended up at the Schvitz, which is still closed to all but private events, but hey, I know the owner, and he was on the patio, drinking beer and giggling at memes. We sat until the sun went down, and then I went home and made dinner. It was a pretty great one.

Sunday wasn’t bad, either. Monday and Tuesday will extend the meteorological blessing, and then November returns.

We lost Alex Trebek this weekend, and as Hank notes: How fitting.

So now we face a new week, a new era, and surely it will have its horrors. The hardline Trumpers are hard at work disgracing themselves, but I still feel a little like Glinda shooing the Wicked Witch of the West away: “You have no power here.” Surely they are still very dangerous, but for now, let’s enjoy the moment. The world will be back with us soon enough.

Posted at 8:58 am in Current events | 74 Comments
 

Misinformation.

So this crossed my radar this morning. As I heard the voice on this recording, I knew exactly whose it was — the Board of Elections trainer who led my class back in September:

James Woods has 2.7 million Twitter followers, and god knows how many the TikTok user who originated this thing has, so if someone sends you this, please explain to them what’s going on here: She’s explaining the procedure for what happens when someone shows up to vote and doesn’t have an ID and can’t confirm their address, or otherwise has a problem. Those voters sign affidavits swearing to their identity and are issued “provisional” ballots; depending on some other factors, one type goes into the tabulator, and others go into an envelope. An envelope ballot is, essentially, a kick upstairs to an election inspector with higher authority, who will determine whether to count it. All day at my precinct, I think we had one envelope ballot, maybe two. (EDIT: Just checked my notes. We had four.) It’s a pretty rare occurrence. The “six days” thing is a reference to the time period the Board has to examine all envelope ballots to make this determination.

(Fun fact: A few years ago, when James O’Keefe, the Project Veritas troll, showed up at a Michigan polling place and told them he was Brian Dickerson, the Free Press editorial-page editor, this is the ballot he would have been issued, if it had gotten that far. And the affidavit he signed to receive it would be a felony.)

There’s an edit at the part about “destroy it,” and I don’t know what she’s talking about. All I can tell you is, she wasn’t advocating anyone trash ballots. More on that in a sec.

She was a great trainer. Big big voice and a sense of humor: “Read your training manuals! I know some of you have done this before, but things change! I used to be a size 4!”

The musical underlay I can’t explain. Ask James Woods. Ask his psychiatrist.

Anyway, I mention all this because I’m astonished – and I really shouldn’t be – by the amount of lying surrounding this election here, especially the absentee counts. Generally speaking I avoid the darkest sub-basements of the media ecosphere; the vending machines at the elite-media level are so much better. But even though it flourishes best there, this stuff has a way of making it to the president’s tiny, pudgy fingers, and so here we are.

I want to stress something right here. I am not widely experienced in Detroit election procedure, but I have more than 99 percent of the people opining on it. I’ve worked two elections now, and gone through three separate trainings, and I can say this: These people — and here I mean Detroiters, mostly black people — are deadly serious about voting. In every situation, the aim is to protect the vote. In dodgy situations like the one I just described, there are procedures to check, double-check, triple-check, and check again before accepting it or throwing it away. They are not fucking around, I promise you. When I spent a week processing absentee applications, if we had questions about any application — a signature that didn’t match was the most common — the answer was never, “Oh, this man is old and his child or caregiver probably filled this out for him, just let it through.” It was always “put it in the problem pile.” The problem pile went back to the Board of Elections for further review. I guess it’s possible the BofE was sitting around eating Cheetos and rubber-stamping these problem apps, but from the behavior of the employees I saw, I doubt it.

Early on primary day, in August, I was working under the same chairperson I was this week — it’s the young man in the photo yesterday. One of the first voters in the other precinct in the room was someone he knew, although they didn’t talk. As the other guy left, he raised his hand in our direction and called out, “First of all, we vote!” and the chairperson echoed it back to him.

What is that, I asked, and he explained it’s a bedrock tenet of Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity they both pledged in college. APA does extensive voter-participation work, for active members and alums, he said.

On Tuesday, when we talked between voters, he told me more about it. Apparently the fraternity has a procedure to join after college, if you didn’t go to a school with a chapter. And it’s not easy getting in; one of the things they consider is your voter participation, a public record. If the admissions board for your chapter includes an older man, a veteran of civil-rights struggles, and he sees that you were a non-voter for years on end? Expect to be questioned sharply about it, especially by that man, and watch your chance of admission fall.

All of which is to say that all this wink-and-nudge crap in the right-wing media sphere about corrupt Detroit is deeply, deeply racist. I stopped into my favorite dress shop today when I was downtown, picking up my check for the work I did for the Board in October. The owner was an ACLU observer in the AV count room Tuesday night, and we talked about it. Here were the rules and the setup: The city has 134 counting boards, and by law, each party can assign one trained, certified challenger to each board. Each counting board has five people, and they worked at these rectangular table setups:

As I think I mentioned earlier, the process is an assembly line: One person does this, hands the ballot to the next person, and it goes around the table until enough are in the pile, and then it goes to the tabulator, i.e., the counting machine, about the size of a photocopier. So: These two challengers, per table, are free to wander around and observe this to their hearts’ content. Poll watchers could also observe, but I’m not sure what their rules and restrictions are. I do know that there was a capacity limit, because of Covid but also because these people are working, and need to work efficiently, and having a bunch of people breathing down their necks is not conducive to that.

What happened was, at some point in the night, rumors began to fly around social media. I saw them around midnight, when I was trying to settle into some sleep. Someone just dropped off a box of 30,000 ballots out of nowhere! Need challengers at TCF Center NOW!!! That sort of thing. From what my friend at the dress shop said, these were military ballots, which they were told would be arriving. They were expected and they had staff to count them. Then, rumors being what they are, this figure ballooned to 130,000 on social media, and elaborate narratives were woven around them; my favorite was some Karen on Facebook Live claiming they were delivered by “a white van, a Chrysler 300 and a Ferrari.” By late afternoon, it had gotten ridiculous — people were arriving at the TCF Center and demanding to be admitted, but weren’t because the room was at capacity and work was ongoing.

So — and this is the part you might have seen on the news — these lunatics stood outside the glass walls of the counting room and began banging on the windows, howling Stop the count!, etc. The call had gone out to College Republicans at U-M and Hillsdale, and they all piled in cars to join the party. Imagine the scene: About 500 election workers, mostly black and female, working a locked-in shift, trying to get through 160,000 ballots, while Hillsdale students, freelance preachers, drama queens and assorted Karens and Kens — all of them white — screamed at them on the other side of the glass. I put together this aggregation this morning, before my sense of humor deserted me.

Then the police put up pizza boxes and poster paper on the glass walls to block the view, and they really went insane.

All this is over now, but the White House has spent the day whipping things up, and oh look what was just tweeted 15 minutes ago:

I am so, so, SO sick of this.

I’ve gone on long enough. But this is where we are as a country, and it’s not over yet, and it might even be getting worse.

I hope those healthy balances in everyone’s 401K was worth it.

Posted at 7:10 pm in Current events | 100 Comments
 

Aftermath.

In the end, it was a perfectly fine Election Day. I was assigned to the same precinct I worked in August, with most of the same crew, plus extra help because November. And it went fine. Great weather. Turnout was 3x what we had in the summer, but it was never more than a couple-minute wait for anyone.

The surrounding area is pretty poor. I don’t have data, but the view out the front door of the church where we were set up was of a large commercial building, formerly an activities center, now blighted and boarded. Turn your head a quarter-turn to the left, and there’s a vacant block with one little blighted house on the prairie. It’s a block or three from where I took the French journalists in 2008, when they asked to see the houses they’d read about in the European press, the ones you could buy for a dollar. The voters were almost entirely African-American, many elderly. Which is to say, not a representative demographic of anything other than their precinct.

I looked at the totals tape when we printed them out at closing. No surprises whatsoever. But as the sun rises, however, it may well be that the fate of the nation lies in the absentee ballots now being counted in the basement of the TCF Center downtown. Which gives it maybe a little more drama. Kate, who also worked the election, was crestfallen as the results began to come in. “I hate Trump,” she said. “And I hate Democrats. They’re useless.” I couldn’t really respond to that, as it appears she is right. I imagine we’ll be analyzing this election for years, but my takeaway is pretty clear: There are far, far more racists, bigots and self-interested assholes in this country than I ever dreamed. And Democrats may well be useless. All the money spent, all the polling, all the door-knocking and leafleting and phone calls, and it comes down to this. Not many bright spots.

So let’s let today be a thread devoted to nail-biting, and Monday-morning-quarterbacking, and mourning, and further discussion. Because I have a little work to do today, and then will turn to all of the above.

Posted at 7:17 am in Current events | 59 Comments
 

Saturday morning market.

We haven’t done one of these for a good long while, have we?

Apologies for not making it in for a third post last week. I’ve been preoccupied. We’ve all been preoccupied. And I think this will be the last post until after Tuesday, because I’m out of things to say about our current situation and I have to organize and pack supplies for the longest possible shift Tuesday. Instruction guides, fully charged extra cell-phone battery, snacks – you know the drill. I’m slated to be at the same precinct I worked in August, on the east side of Detroit. The action will be downtown, at the TCF Center, where the absentee ballots will be counted. But I’m content to do my part in the field.

If anything noteworthy happens at the polling place Tuesday, I’ll tweet. But I’m hoping for a nice, quiet-but-busy, anticlimactic E-day.

In the meantime, I’m going to do a thing that doesn’t exactly calm me down, but helps dissipate some of the anxiety: Cleaning and laundry. Any bloggage? Eh…how about this elegantly written but ultimately lightweight essay titled “How Don Junior became the future of Trumpism:”

After four years in power, Trump is, characteristically and axiomatically, unchanged. He is what he has always been—a creature made merciless by his inherited privilege and stupid appetites, a slave to vanity shoved haphazardly into an expensive suit, a dim country club gossip who watches too much TV and wants to be famous. Trump’s most ambitious son shares that curdled understanding of who he is and what he deserves, and is just as relentless and just as hungry.

They are telling the rest of us, everywhere and every day, what they want and how they intend to take it. At bottom, this is nothing more than the plump, pink privilege of all the people at Mar-a-Lago getting righteously wasted off toast after fulsome toast, because those seething and freshly liberated burghers are what Trumpism is and whom it is for. Trump is an aspirational figure in the sense that he promises his acolytes the right to be as brutally free and unaccountable as he is. That is all his movement is. For all the talk about making America great again, his project has transparently always been about keeping this tenuous and untenable moment from tipping into any kind of future; it is about maintaining control, whatever that means and at whatever cost; it is about every dying and unworkable thing remaining exactly as it is.

Donald Trump can only be himself, and he just so happens to be the perfect avatar of every rancid revanchist American impulse that made his celebrity and ultimately his presidency possible. The combination of Trump’s sincere desire to have and keep and control everything in the world, and a nation too confused and too weak to tell him no, has been catastrophic. His brutal legacy is secure in all the worst ways, and the mere fact of his presidency will make any number of treasured old falsehoods about this country impossible to believe in the future. His most ambitious son clearly wants some of what his father has, but it’s unclear whether he is more than just another follower—one of the many faces in the burgeoning crowd of Americans who no longer feel compelled to honor anything but their own appetites.

Elegant writing has been one of the few consolations of the past four years. Not that it’s done much for us.

I leave you with one more picture from this morning. Love that Portrait mode on the iPhone:

Good luck to all of us. See you on the other side.

Posted at 12:09 pm in Current events | 78 Comments
 

Bad night, bad day.

Whenever Trump pulls some shit, I sleep badly the following night, and it was very true last night, when I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and never really got back to sleep. It’s going to be wine and a little cannabis edible for me tonight, and no water after…well, after now. No middle-of-the-night peeing! I’m going for seven hours, uninterrupted.

My mood today has been murderous. I drafted and trashed tweets and Facebook comments off and on all day. Just not the right day to do that, although god knows I was tempted. The display last night was almost literally stomach-turning. The only smile I got all day came from Tom & Lorenzo:

So I leave you today with…OK, two sick-making pieces, both from the WashPost, but both worth your time, plus another that’s less so. First, Gene Weingarten’s Sunday cover story, on what’s so awful about right now. After a long indictment of the president, he writes:

Mostly, I cannot forgive him for what he has taken from me, personally. It’s not money — with his mismanagement of the virus, eliminating my travel and restaurants, and with his tax policies that favor the economically comfortable at the expense of the poor, he probably has actually made me money. What he has taken from me are two things: First, my genuine lifelong feeling that the United States, for all its weaknesses and failures, deserves, and has always deserved, the benefit of the doubt. Second: I find myself profoundly disliking and disrespecting almost half of my countrymen and women — that is, the group of Americans that support Trump. I have never felt such antipathy before, even in other sharply polarizing times, and it feels absolutely terrible.

Also, it has a great kicker.

The other WP piece is another investigation of just how obviously, and blatantly, and shamelessly, the president has poured money into his own pockets for four years. Forgive the extended excerpt, but it has a rhythm to it I don’t want to disrupt:

President Trump welcomed the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a-Lago, in front of a towering arrangement of roses. The two could have met in Washington, but Trump said his private club was a more comfortable alternative.

“It is, indeed, the Southern White House,” Trump said, greeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the press in April 2018.

For Trump, there was another, hidden benefit. Money.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s company would get paid to host his summit.

In the next two days, as Trump and Abe talked about trade and North Korea, Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., club billed the U.S. government $13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for the roses and other floral arrangements.

Trump’s club even charged for the smallest of services. When Trump and Abe met alone, with no food served, the government still got a bill for what they drank.

“Bilateral meeting,” the bill said. “Water.” $3 each.

Indeed. This chiseling bastard. No wonder he had to buy a club to get a toehold in Palm Beach.

Finally, a break from the misery, again via T&L, who like me have been watching “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. (The novel was written by my college roommate’s father, who died years ago. I feel bad because I never read it, and I guess I should buy it, now that his children control his literary estate.) The production is gorgeous, all midcentury modern design and wardrobe, and everyone’s favorite gay uncles have picked out how many of the costumes have a chessboard theme to them. Reminded me of their Mad Men analyses.

OK, I’m going to order takeout and hope for a better night. Hope you have one, too.

Posted at 5:49 pm in Current events, Television | 86 Comments