Kill the Bill, Vol. 2

It seems Mitch McConnell has figured out that the Senate health care bill is no better than the House version, and also, that senators are not as crazy as House members. I guess that’s why they get their own desks. So he has postponed the vote, which with luck will mean the end of things for now.

That is, if the public can be at least minimally informed about what a dog’s breakfast this bill really is. Continue reading “Kill the Bill, Vol. 2”

It Takes a Village to Raise an Idiot

Closing in on the mystery of gullibility.

In several earlier posts, I’ve tried to get a grasp on why people believe crazy conspiracy theories—usually concluding in exasperation that they’re just nut jobs, to use the Dear Leader’s terminology. How is it that otherwise reasonable people can believe Hillary Clinton keeps children locked up as sex slaves in a pizza parlor, or that Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, or for that matter, that George W. Bush orchestrated the 9/11 attacks? Continue reading “It Takes a Village to Raise an Idiot”

Reflections From a Deep Blue State

Having recently returned from our annual trip to California, where our daughter and her family live, I’m ruminating as I often do about how varied these United States are. I always feel like I’m in a different country when we’re out there, one that’s a little like the country I grew up in, but also a little like a future America we might hope for. Continue reading “Reflections From a Deep Blue State”

So Funny I Forgot to Laugh

Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome.

One of my favorite Broadway shows is Cabaret, a musical based on Christopher Isherwood’s biographical novel Goodbye to Berlin. Its plot revolves around a troupe of players in a Berlin nightclub during the Weimar Republic, the era of revolutionary cultural change and licentiousness that set the stage for the rise of Hitler and the National Socialists. They eke out a marginal existence entertaining Berliners by celebrating newly liberated sexuality, flouting convention, and poking fun at the fledgling Nazi party. It’s all laughs and fun until the Nazis become the government and most of the troupe is “disappeared.”

I can’t help feeling a little like one of those cabaret performers now and then. Continue reading “So Funny I Forgot to Laugh”

Look Under the Bushes

The naughty boy can’t help himself.

Several years ago, my son and his family were visiting us in Minnesota when, just as I was about to bring them to the airport to return home, I seemed to have misplaced my wallet. A frantic search ensued–sofa cushions, pants in the laundry, and so on–until my 4-year-old grandson helpfully piped up “It’s not in the bushes by the deck.”

Which brings me to our president, whose penchant for clumsy self-incrimination is about equal to that of a four year old. Continue reading “Look Under the Bushes”

Fogarty’s Flawless Investment Advice

I’ve got one word for you: Prisons.

One of the great film lines of all time is the career advice offered to the young Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in The Graduate: “I want to say one word to you. Just one word: plastics.” It’s a line that can be used for comedic effect in any number of situations, as in the sixties when a college pal did poorly on an exam: “I’ve got one word for you: Vietnam.”

But today it’s a can’t-miss stock pick, as attorney general Jeff Sessions has announced a new get-tough crime policy, by which federal prosecutors are ordered to charge suspects with the “most serious, readily provable offense” possible. Continue reading “Fogarty’s Flawless Investment Advice”

Words Not to Use

Advice for journalists.

Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and almost-the-right word is like the difference between “lightning” and “lightning bug.” While that may be an exaggeration, it’s worth remembering that Twain started out as a journalist and must have developed a keen sense of how words come across to readers. Plus, he was Mark Twain.

I’ve been noticing that journalists these days—particularly the ones on TV—have fallen into lazy habits of usage. Continue reading “Words Not to Use”