RIP, John Dingell

A legendary legislator has passed:

Michigan Democrat John Dingell, the longest-serving member ever of Congress who helped write most of the nation’s major environmental and energy laws, died Thursday, his wife said. He was 92.

The Dearborn statesman was a champion of the auto industry and was credited with increasing access to health care, among other accomplishments. Dingell helped write most of America’s major environmental and energy laws.

He was also absolutely hysterical on twitter, and I can only imagine how funny he was in person.

RIP, Schlemazel

Valued commenter and member of the Balloon Juice community Schlemazel was taken off life support today and has passed. I have been chatting with his niece, Laura, for the past few days (and she is a delightful person so that bloodline has some good genes- I hope she realizes she has big shoes to fill here), and she stated that the plan was for him to be surrounded by loved ones. She broke the news earlier:

I only have a few moments for an update to all of you most wonderful people. I am sorry to break the news that his all to brief life is over. I thank each and everyone of you for the kind, funny, snarky beautiful comments. I have to believe that he heard Roger Stone was arrested but ducked out before he heard his orangeness for a final time. And OzarkHillbilly – do you have any idea how long that amount of fucks takes to read??? I think the poem I will save for his memorial. I will update more later, but know he is at peace and he went out knowing you all loved him dearly.

Take care, man, and don’t forget to feed Tunch.

Roy Clark 1933-2018

Hi, everybody! Jewish Steel here. How’ve you been?

By a strange coincidence I was just watching this the other day. I was expecting some virtuoso hillbilly guitar. What I was not expecting was Steve Martinesque anti-comedy. Where there aren’t jokes necessarily, but the humor is in the stupidity, surprising turns, and flashes of insight contained in the material itself. I was kind of shocked at the sophistication of it all.


McCain Gets His Send-Off: We Shall Not See His Like Again… If We’re Lucky

Among us Celts, it’s not a real funeral until the various sub-clans start brangling over decorum and bringing up decades-old grievances, lightly coded for ‘civility’. You think ol’ John was the only dude kept an updated list of who wasn’t invited to his final planting?

Read more

Remembering John McCain

Amy Silverman, in the Phoenix New Times, “He Was America’s Senator, Not Arizona’s”:

In so many ways — throughout his life and now in his death — John McCain is an optical illusion. Look at the drawing one way, and it’s a haggard old lady. Shift your gaze and it’s a beautiful young girl.

If you liked McCain, his smile was broad and inviting, like you were in on a private joke with the guy. But if he wasn’t your favorite, that smile was a smirk, or even a sneer.

McCain, who died Saturday at age 81, was widely viewed as a maverick — and an opportunist…

He was a tireless champion of campaign finance reform who made enemies with his establishment-bucking efforts. Or he was the shyster trying to rehabilitate himself after his starring role as a member of the Keating Five, an aggressive candidate who never did stop taking millions of dollars in campaign contributions from special interests.

And then there was his complicated relationship with our state.

John McCain lived in many places after Vietnam, but for the last 36 years he called Arizona home, and represented the state in Congress — from 1982 to 1986 as a representative, and then from ‘86 to his death as a member of the United States Senate.

McCain embraced Arizona, adopting the pretty landscape of central Phoenix and Cornville, posting photos of red-rock hikes, but doing very little during his tenure to support the state. In fact, his stand against “pork-barrel politics” at a time when his colleagues in Congress were busy lining their own states’ pockets with infrastructure cost Arizona dearly while increasing McCain’s popularity as a refreshingly honest leader who turned down handouts.

In a lot of ways, it didn’t matter what state he lived in. John McCain was America’s senator, not Arizona’s, a transplant (or a carpetbagger — again, it depends on your perspective) who adopted the state as his own…

I covered McCain for this paper during the ’90s, as the local spotlight went national. The Arizona media – for which he’d never had much use – watched as the senator glad-handed Washington and New York reporters, boarding the Straight Talk Express in 2000, bound for the presidency. That job was not to be his – not in 2008, either — and in the ensuing years even the national media seemed to grow a little tired of McCain’s maverick/opportunist stands.

And then in summer 2017, beloved John McCain was back, with a diagnosis of brain cancer and – it seemed – a desire to set the record straight by saving the day. His dramatic thumbs-down on the floor of the U.S. Senate effectively ended Donald Trump’s efforts to gut health care reform (for the moment, anyway) and served as a big, satisfying “fuck you” to the president. McCain decried Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio and his decision to dismantle DACA, criticizing the president at every turn.
Read more