Tag Archives: Tom Junod

Maybe my most depressing Election Night ever was even worse than I expected. And a fantastic Esquire story about solving the mass shootings issue


Well that sucked.

I went into Election Night last night with very low expectations, fully expecting the Republicans to take over the Senate, and probably win some governorships.

But the reality was so, so much worse than I expected. Just about every race that I was emotionally invested in, the candidate I supported lost. And it’s not just that: Just about ALL of the biggest horse’s asses who were running Tuesday night got re-elected, and some by much larger margins than I thought.

Rick Scott in Florida. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback in Kansas. Mitch McConnell. Joni Ernst, your new bat-shit crazy Senator from Iowa.

The list goes on and on. I think the only other time I was this depressed on Election Night was 2004, when W. Bush got re-elected and I had no idea how America (and me) was going to survive four more years of him.

So depressed. Just went in and kissed my 2-month-old son, that made me feel better.
Some final 2014 election thoughts as I sit here in the wee hours, with my ginger ale and bag of Tostitos multigrain chips (a truly outstanding snack we’ve just discovered in my house):

— I gotta start with Rick Scott.  I lived in Florida for 5 years, and was there in 2010 when he first got elected. I know Florida’s a crazy state, much more conservative than people realize, and I know the Democrats have put up two straight really terrible candidates against him. (Really? We couldn’t do better than ex-Republican governor Charlie Crist?)
But I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone voted for Rick Scott and elected him twice to run a state.
He was a miserable candidate, and an evil, greedy governor. Within three months of his first term he was the most unpopular governor in America. And yet he just got re-elected. I will remain baffled by that forever.

— That said, I know Rick Scott has zero chance nationally. But Scott Walker? He’s starting to scare me. Three election wins in four years (one was a recall), not much national political baggage, and he destroyed an opponent Tuesday who was tied in polls with him. He’s hugely anti-union, loved by the Tea Party, and governor of a blue state. Plus he’s bought and paid for by the billionaire Koch brothers, so you know they’ll have his back in two years.
He’s got a great shot to get the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

— It kills me that once again, the Democratic candidates ran far, far away from the greatest legislative achiement their party has pulled off in decades: Affordable, universal health care. Did any of them take credit for it, or campaign on it? Why were they so scared to tout one of the few things that’s actually gotten done in Congress the last six years?

— Chris Matthews is always the most annoying part of Election coverage for me. I watch MSNBC of course, because I love Maddow and most of their other commentators, but Matthews comes off as so smug and arrogant, I just can’t stand him.

— Mitch McConnell is your new Senate Majority leader. A man who said in 2009 that his No. 1 legislative goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Yep, I have a great feeling bipartisanship and cooperation is about to ensue.

— Only bright spot Tuesday was that Scott Brown lost, this time in New Hampshire, after losing in Mass. in 2012. Best Tweet of the night said “Hey Scott Brown, Vermont has a Senate seat available in 2016!”

— I lied, there was one other bright spot: Voters in Oregon and Washington, D.C. approved pot legalization laws. Outstanding.

— OK, time for a mood-lifter. Take it away, Partridges…

Well, I feel better.

–Finally, the loss of the Senate doesn’t really bother me too much. Nothing was getting done on immigration, climate change, etc. in the next two years anyway. But the governorship dominance by the GOP really hurts, because sadly that’s where all the real legislation that affects people’s lives, longterm and short-term happens.

Politics sucks when your side gets slaughtered.

**Next up, I promised in Monday’s post to highlight another great piece of journalism I’ve read lately. Tom Junod of Esquire takes a look at a radical new way that a division of the FBI is looking to stop, or contain, the huge number of mass shootings that have gone on in America in recent years.

No, it’s sadly not about enforcing gun control laws or making it harder for people to get guns, because that’s never happening in the U.S. But it’s a strategy that’s really enlightening and fascinating to read about, basically learning to target “behavioral threats” in a different and more comprehensive way.
Junod does excellent reporting here, using one troubled kid who walked right up to the line of becoming a mass shooter and explains the psychology of what he thought back then.

Really great story here, I urge you to check it out.

Study shows today’s kids think way too highly of themselves. A picture that sums up our world, circa 2013. And a beautiful tribute to Richard Ben Cramer.

Adam Zyglis Cartoon

**This post written while happily savoring another Duke victory, the 15th of the season, without a defeat. They’re not winning pretty, but they’re getting better and better. Just hope Ryan Kelly isn’t hurt too bad. Big game against N.C. State on  Sat., can’t wait.

You know, sometimes you see a study or hear a report and think “Of course, that makes total sense!”

As I’ve started substituting in the New York City school systems, one of the things that’s struck me most is the irrational confidence of today’s teenagers. No matter what they say, or how they’re doing in school, they absolutely, positively think they are the cat’s meow.

Wait Michael, you’re saying: Doesn’t every teenager think the world revolves around them, and that they’re awesome? Well, sure. But this generation seems maybe even more loaded with self-belief.

So then I heard on MSNBC today about this study by professor Jean Zwenge and some university psychologists at San Diego State that today’s kids think they’re more awesome than any generation, ever.

Zwenge’s study, called the “American Freshman Survey,” found that from 1982 and 2009, U.S. students’ narcissistic attitudes increased by 30 percent, and that in 1966 teenagers who had above-average intellectual self-confidence numbered 39 percent, while in 2009 that number was 60 percent.

Now, there could be a lot of reasons for this: Parents coddling and instilling in their kids the idea that they are perfect, and can do no wrong; the culture we live in that is so much of the “hey, every kid gets a trophy!” mentality, or any number of reasons.

It just bothers me, the self-entitlement the younger generation feels about itself. Course, I realize I now sound like a grumpy old man.

**Ah, this cracked me up big-time and almost caused a spit-take of water in our home (not by me). My friend Dan Higgins, a hell of a nice guy and crackpot journalist, found this on Reddit, the community information site. I’d say it pretty much sums up America, circa 2013:


**And finally, I wanted to point out this great obituary written by one writer about another he idolized. Tom Junod, for my money one of the best magazine writers in the world, has penned this piece about Richard Ben Cramer, a prolific writer and author who died on Monday.

Junod got to know Cramer a bit and his words clearly come from the heart; even if you’re not all that familiar with Ben Cramer’s work, this is a terrific read by a brilliant scribe.

Another insane week in the NFL. David Silver on “Housewives?” And a great story about the 11 lost on Deepwater Horizon

I truly think the lifespan of men who gamble money on NFL games goes down every year.
Every season, this stuff gets less predictable, and more insane. I bet on the NFL through fantasy football, but that’s quite a bit different: I can rely on my big stars every week, even if their teams aren’t that good (eh, check that. Thanks for those four INT’s Sunday, Drew Brees, star QB of my fantasy team this year).
Sunday, the following happened:
— Cleveland, the second-worst team in the league, beat the Super Bowl champion Saints.
— The Buffalo Bills, who are awful and winless, nearly beat the Baltimore Ravens, falling 37-34 in OT.
— The Oakland Raiders, who go entire months without scoring 50 points, scored fifty-freaking-nine on Sunday to beat Denver. Fifty-nine points!
— The referees again screwed up and cost a team a game, as the Miami Dolphins recovered a fumble in their own end zone at the end of their loss to Pittsburgh, only to have the refs change the call and give the ball back to the Steelers. Who of course then kicked the game-winning field goal. I’d be more outraged, but it was the Dolphins, so I’m happy they lost.
All I can say is, I’m so glad the Jets didn’t play Sunday. Who the hell knows what would’ve happened to them.

**OK, I gave up watching “Desperate Housewives” after last season, because it just got so ridiculous.
But I caught a promo the other day for Sunday’s episode, and holy crap, David Silver from “Beverly Hills 90210” is dating Bree? That’s just so wrong. What would Donna Martin say about all this?

**Tom Junod is another of the handful of writers who I love so much, I’ll read anything they write, even if I know I don’t care about the subject matter.
Several years ago he wrote one of the greatest magazine articles I’ve ever read, about bullying and his experiences as a bully (check it out here).
Last month in Esquire Junod wrote a beautiful story about the 11 men who died in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. We heard so much over the past months about the environmental costs, and the financial costs, of the spill.
But these 11 guys, it’s like they were forgotten. Nobody seemed to talk about them. Junod did an amazing job learning about their lives, their jobs, and their families.
Check out his fascinating story here if you want to read some fantastic reporting and writing.