Proud to Be A Democrat: John Dingell’s Last Warning

In my life and career, I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power — as in, “the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.”

It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better)…

Zack Stanton, in Politico, “You’re Living in the America John Dingell Made”:

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1955, a year after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education deemed “separate but equal” unconstitutional; he remained in office into the second term of the nation’s first black president. His 59 years in Congress are the most of anyone in American history and span more than a quarter of the time since the Constitution created the legislative branch. He was sworn in at 29, the same age Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is today. She would have to remain in the House until 2078 to match his tenure. He was there for the administrations of 11 of the nation’s 45 presidents. “Presidents come and presidents go,” Bill Clinton said at a 2005 celebration of Dingell’s 50th year in Congress. “John Dingell goes on forever.”…

Modern America is as much a creation of John Dingell’s life work as anyone’s. If you or a parent or grandparent have relied on Medicare or Medicaid; if you’ve seethed about the lack of gun control; if you’ve cheered that segregation of public places is illegal and employment discrimination is banned; if you’re thankful for the continued existence of the U.S. auto industry; if you’ve raged about gas-guzzling cars contributing to climate change; if your health insurance is purchased on the Obamacare exchanges; if you’ve swum in lakes or rivers or oceans free from toxic pollution; if you’ve drunk a glass of or bathed your children in tap water with confidence that it’s free from contamination; then John Dingell played a role in your life…
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Good Thoughts for Schlemazel: An Ongoing Series of Posts

Today we inaugurate a new, ongoing series of posts: Good thoughts and well wishes for Schlemazel. This way his niece can aggregate the comments and read them to him at his and her convenience. I’m sure it will also be okay if you throw in some good thoughts for efgoldman and the occasional fuckem in his honor, but I’m funny that way.

So let me kick this off: we’re keeping good thoughts for Schlemazel and his family. Also, for efgoldman.


Not so open, stay on topic, thread!

Tick Tock: Yarrow is Fine!

For those of you who asked in the comments and/or emailed me concerned that Yarrow was absent, I did reach out to Yarrow. And, as I said I’d do once I heard back, I am now reporting back that I’ve heard from Yarrow. Yarrow is fine. Just very busy. As you may recall he related he was dealing with/helping out with some health issues pertaining to his dad. That is taking up a lot of his time and energy. So he’s out there, doing what he has to do, and doing right by his dad. So send some good thoughts his and his dad’s way.

Open thread!

When efgoldman Talks Someone Else Emails Us the Response…

Several of you had been expressing concern in the comments about efgoldman as he’d not been around. Some speculated that he’d taken a late summer trip to Camp Methusaleh: The Last Resort. I reached out to SiubhanDuinne, Badass Jackal as I knew she had been in touch with efg to see if she could check on him and report back. She got a response earlier today and while she posted it as a comment this afternoon, I wanted to make sure everyone saw it

Good news, Jackals! I talked with efgoldman for 15-20 minutes this afternoon.

He is, as you would guess, an intensely private person, but he has authorized me to share the following:

He has been in hospital for a couple of weeks now, having had major surgery on both feet. He was lucky enough to find a vascular surgeon who specializes in saving limbs rather than removing them — so while he’s looking at months of healing and rehab, he still has his feet and all his toes, I gather.

He’s not sure just when he’ll be walking again; expects to be in hospital probably at least until Thanksgiving, but may be home for Christmas. He did say all his vital signs are surprisingly good; I told him he’s probably the only one of us whose blood pressure is normal and who’s sleeping well these days!

Unfortunately, he will not be on line for the duration, but is more than grateful that so many Balloon Juicers miss him, love him, and have been asking about him. I hope in the next day or two I can share his IRL name (it is not efg!) as well as hospital address, room number, direct phone, etc. (Thought I had the latter from the incoming call data, but it turns out to be a dummy number, so I’ll have to track him down through patient info.)

At any rate, he said he would love to hear from and even see Juicers, so as soon as I — or, more likely, a front-pager — posts the relevant information, do think about sending him a card, giving him a call, or paying him a visit if you’re in the Boston area.

I plan to talk with him once a week or so and will share news and jokes and curmudgeonliness.


For those concerned about Yarrow, I emailed him last week when you all asked after him, but have yet to hear back yet. I will update when I hear.

Open thread.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Queen Aretha Will Never Die

She was a religious woman, and her faith was strong in an afterlife where she could forever share her gifts. We will surely miss her, though!

The lyrics of The House That Jack Built were problematic even in 1968, but it was always one of my favorites. Something about Ms. Franklin’s voice acknowledging, in the mirror-image of a contemporaneous hit, that even when you fought righteously to get what you needed, it might not be everything you wanted

For 17 years, I wrote Aretha dozens of postcards and letters, one every six months, promoting myself as the right collaborator for her memoirs. After working with Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Etta James, I asked each of them to put in a good word for me. When I ghosted Jerry Wexler’s memoirs, I asked him to do the same. They all complied, yet Aretha stayed silent. I befriended her brother Clarence, her sister-in-law Earline, her sisters Erma and Carolyn and her first cousin Brenda. Although I researched Aretha’s life thoroughly, my aim wasn’t a biography, but to work with Aretha herself. I wanted to be her ghost. Of all the great voices, hers was the one I yearned to channel.

And then it happened. Before going to Detroit to research a Motown project, I sent Aretha a postcard — probably my two hundredth — saying I’d love to see her. When she called me at my hotel, I nearly lost it. But I held on, spoke to her for over an hour and convinced her that I was her literary man. We went to work on her book.

Those close to her said she’d never let down her guard. But that didn’t faze me. I’d win over her trust and charm the truth out of her. I didn’t. I found what we wrote — From These Roots (1999) — shallow and void of introspection. During the process, Aretha and I remained civil to another, but she clearly rejected my approach and fashioned the book according to her fantasy of an idyllic life. That was her right. We’re all free to mythologize ourselves any way we please…
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