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The Red Line

The nine people killed on the Red Line on Monday were just going through their normal lives. Read the story today. It's a tragic tale in part because of the randomness and suddenness of misfortune.

None of us is immune to catastrophe. There are things beyond our control. Sitting on a Metro train is not supposed to be dangerous. And usually it isn't. You play the odds in life. You park your fears in a corner of your mind -- otherwise you'll go crazy. And you have to assume, when you wave goodbye to a loved one, that it's not for the last time.

From the story:

It was an ordinary work day for Cameron Williams on Monday. He cooked himself breakfast, then surfed the Web and did some light cleaning around the house while he chatted with his aunt and grandmother in the afternoon.

Just as he was preparing to go off to his night contract worker job downtown, he stopped on the porch of the Takoma Park home he shared with his grandmother and talked to his aunt about the weekend. Maybe he'd go to Carter Barron.

"Then he turned the corner and headed to the Metro," Shirley Williams said of her 37-year-old nephew, the oldest of five brothers who grew up in the city and graduated from Coolidge High School. "I watched him until I couldn't see him anymore."

We all would like bad things to happen for some kind of predictable reason. But as Marjorie Williams once wrote, misfortune is random (she was pointing out that, contrary to the implications of some people, she hadn't caused her own cancer).

The investigation of the Metro accident is ongoing. We'll eventually know the various reasons why it happened. But there's no reason, at a certain level, why some people were killed and the thousands of others who take the Red Line (like I do, routinely) were spared. It could have happened anywhere on the Metro system. These people were victims of misfortune completely beyond their control.

Maybe it makes sense to go through life assuming this day will be your last. But probably the opposite is true: A serene existence presumes that there will many more days to come. You should feel some connection to the older person you're almost certainly going to be in five, ten, 30 years (and thus go easy on the ice cream and pizza). And you have to get on that train even though you don't know absolutely for sure that you'll get to your destination.


In the boodle, kguy writes:

"I'd quibble with the idea that a serene existence presumes that there will many more days to come. I'd say rather that a serene existence proceeds from personal comfort with the idea of one's death, either because of religious conviction and belief in an afterlife, or as I believe, that death is a logical and inevitable part of the cycle of existence and fear of death is both irrational and a great big waste of time."

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 24, 2009; 8:21 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: On the Far Side of the Moon
Next: Mark Sanford's Sin of Overwriting



Posted by: Yoki | June 24, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"Read out loud to the family" good, Joel. Thanks.

I remember when I was a kid, hearing about a helicopter that crashed on a building top in New York City. Someone walking down the street blocks and blocks away was struck by debris and killed. That's when I realized there's absolutely nothing you can do about it sometimes.

Joel's right... you've got to live like there is a tomorrow, but you've got to remember that it isn't guaranteed.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 24, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I read this piece and thought of slyness:

Apparently one young woman died while the rescuers were trying to rescue her. Must have been absolutely devastating for them.

Posted by: Raysmom | June 24, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I'd quibble with the idea that a serene existence presumes that there will many more days to come. I'd say rather that a serene existence proceeds from personal comfort with the idea of one's death, either because of religious conviction and belief in an afterlife, or as I believe, that death is a logical and inevitable part of the cycle of existence and fear of death is both irrational and a great big waste of time.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

kguy, great comment -- I added it to the kit.

My fear is that death will come before I get my work done. Editors would be VERY unhappy with me.

Posted by: joelache | June 24, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

There is a link on the front page; I don't expect it will become unpleasant here.

Posted by: Yoki | June 24, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Its not entirely random; just highly improbable.

Unfortunately, Metro helped reduce the randomness by delaying improvements and maintenance thereby raising the probability that an event like this would happen. Each explicit cost elimination step, from not improving frames or replacing cars, delaying brake maintenance, to not installing black boxes increased the severity of an accident, the probability of an accident happening or the likelihood that an accident would not be understood properly afterwards.

It is criminal that we are spending trillions of dollars on ensuring bankers can keep the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed while people are riding around in 25-year old transit cars with faulty brakes.

Posted by: raydh | June 24, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

That's one of those things about having a job, no matter how "unimportant." If you die, someone is going to be pissed because there will be work to do.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 24, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, Raysmom. That story gave me chill bumps. Now you know why firefighters are so unruffled; they know what the real risks in life are and they live with the sights of death. It changes one's priorities and perceptions of risk, for sure.

kguy, I will say that when I started on my journey of faith, one of the first outcomes was a powerful inner conviction that this life is only the beginning, what lies beyond is not to be feared but joyfully anticipated. I can't explain it, but there it is.

The little lady I was assigned to be deacon to died yesterday. She had just turned 91. I went to see her last week, and it was evident she was sinking. She knew me and was glad to see me but couldn't talk, so I didn't stay long. A sweet and lovely person. I miss her already.

Posted by: slyness | June 24, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps scarier, this is a country where having a car is a necessity, so there's lots of cars and pickups with faulty brakes.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 24, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

What will this terrible disaster lead to? I hope it will encourage funding for improvements to our nation's public transit systems. Though we don't know what happened exactly, either improved training or maintenance or both could have prevented this. I can't believe this accident was unavoidable. I also fear that the usual summer traffic lessening that I look forward to might not come, as I'm sure a lot of tourists not familiar with subways will see this story and use it as an extra reason to drive.

Posted by: Southwester | June 24, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Mr. T, here's a link to the fire department's first assessment of the Metro crash. It sounds like the rescue operation went well:

Posted by: slyness | June 24, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of randomness, there was a report this weekend of a rail accident in the midwest. Many cars of alcohol were derailed and exploded. The only fatality and injuries were to people in a car waiting at a rail crossing for the train to pass. The derailment occurred at that crossing.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | June 24, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse


A question: if one ever feels that their work here is done, is this an indicator that perhaps it is time to nod to the Reaper and say "Check, please?"

Personally, I expect to shuffle off this mortal coil with the to-do and bucket lists incomplete.

Well, I'll probably not so much shuffle off as take a Wile E. Coyotesque ride of a Samsonite folding chair off of an aircraft carrier's steam catapult into the Great Beyond.

And probably landing in a heap on The Other Side just as Error Flynn screeches to a stop up in a cloud of tire smoke and dust in his Mustang convertible. I pull my goggles up onto my forehead and we both break into laughter at what an idiot I am.

I'll let him drive as we take a Road Trip to go visit my relatives. I want to see the sights, y'know?

Excellent thought-provoking stuff, folks.

We don't always know why or when things happen. I think it's important to do what we can to ensure we're going to be around awhile and to do good - some real good - for others while we're here, but to also take some time to enjoy this life, knowing that it's not forever.


Posted by: -bc- | June 24, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Lifted from the Daily Mail ...

The case for such a probe was underlined only yesterday, as fresh evidence emerged suggesting that Mr Blair was well aware that Saddam Hussein may not have weapons of mass destruction.

A memo dated January 31, 2003, by Sir David Manning, then Mr Blair's policy adviser, outlined how President Bush told Mr Blair he had decided on a start date for the war, two months before it began - and while he was still publicly pushing for a second UN resolution legitimising military action.

'The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for March 10. This was when the bombing would begin,' Sir David noted.

It reveals that as Mr Blair and Mr Bush became increasingly aware that inspectors would not find WMDs, they tried to find other ways of winning support for a second UN resolution.

Mr Bush told Mr Blair the U.S. had hatched an extraordinary plan to fly aircraft painted in UN colours over Iraq in the hope that Saddam would shoot them down.

Little wonder, then, that Mr Blair protested to Downing Street that a public appearance at the inquiry risked turning into a 'show trial'.


I post this somewhat in congruent point just because we need to remember how dear we hold our lives and that of others. Ideally, we should be concerned for folks all over.

Our former pResident would hatch a plan, indeed, spend millions of our tax dollars hatching a goofy plan to force a pretense for war. Word is that the Vice pResident was working on war plans against Iraq even before 9/11.

We lose 9 fellow Washingtonians and we are watching TV 24/7 following the news. We start a war where we lose 5 to 6,000 Americans (counting contractors --guessing) and we suffer the severe injury to tens of thousands of others over some sort of personal vendetta?

In Iran, millions of folks are spilling into the streets to voice their demands for their rights of self-determination. In America, we saw Obama ride a similar wave of "power to the people" rather than the rich few who found a way to use their billions in concert with K Street to control our country at a very steep cost to "the average Joe."

If England is courting the idea for a full review, why are we not?

Is it too painful?

Is it too much work?

Are we afraid of the harsh reality that we were jobbed?

Posted by: russianthistle | June 24, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

It looks more and more like the proximate cause of the wreck was some failure of the automated control system. We will have to wait and see, of course. The other thing this points up is that it is WAY past time that the 3 jurisdictions agree on some kind of stable source of subsidy funding for Metro so that they can plan out for routine rail car replacments, instead of coming hat in hand to them and Congress every year or so begging for the necessary $$$. Metro is keeping the old cars going out of pure necessity. They need every car they have in order to keep the crowds moving. More 8-car trains? Keep 'em rolling. More riders if gas prices go back up again? Keep 'em rolling. But, you better make sure that control system is fully functional. And is there a fail-safe mode? If there is a safety glitch, should not the affected portion of the system shut down? And is that part of deferred maintenance?

Posted by: ebtnut | June 24, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

This is a fine observation, Joel. I see so many victims of crime who are completely blameless. Being in my line of work, I have long had the conviction that misfortune may strike anyone at any time. This leads me to a version of kguy's excellent thought. One can lead a serence life by accepting the possibility that bad things can happen, preparing insofar as it is possible to meet bad things, then just getting on with one's day. The recognition of one's eventual death and possible misfortune, it seems to me, can be liberating.

The Boy and I were talking recently and he said that, rather than count on the idea of a reward in heaven in an afterlife, he'd rather just live a good life now. I was pleased that he'd reached this conclusion by himself. I told him I try to live each day as an ethical person, taking the needs of others into account, because i believe that type of life is a good one and will also, on balance, give me the best chances to be happy.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 24, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"It's not that I'm afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens." - Woody Allen

Posted by: byoolin1 | June 24, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Life is short. I'm going to get my nails done.

Posted by: Windy3 | June 24, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Semper Cuticle...

Sounds like a great motto, Windy! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

My sympathies to the residents of Washington, a tradgedy like this affects a whole city.
I'm not sure that I agree that misfortune is random although it may appear so to the victim and I'd strengthen kguy's statement by adding a bunch of 'reallys' before the 'great' in his last sentence.
That said, I'd appreciate a week or so heads up before my demise as I have a short list of things and people to do.

Posted by: Boomslang | June 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

lol, windy.

I don't know if these are part of a nationwide trend, but a number of hospitals/medical centers around here have been running commercials where someone has a brain tumor, stroke or heart attack and you're told everything was done, the staff at the facility did their best. Then there's a kicker line where they say something to make you realize the person survived. The clear implication is "bring them here and they'll be fine, no matter what."

That disturbs me on some level.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 24, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Guests have us scrambling
Pick up, straighten, sweep, put away
And....vaccuum. No peace.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I rode the red line.
Worst thing was all the crowding.
Change's not always good.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

'morning all.
Sanford wasn't dead after all, he resurfaced from Buenos Aires, Argentina…
Joel, you should buy a ticket to BA and do a little investigative journalism. I bet this story has legs.
Slyness, the NTSB will look at the response too. It wasn't that smooth back in the 1996 incident the responders walked around the wreckage for 43 minutes before someone thought about turning the third rail off... Luckily there were virtually no passengers to evacuate so nobody got zapped.
Just for the heck of it I read both NTSB reports about the Metrorail accidents of 1996 (Shady Grove) and 2004 (Woodley park).
Report RAR-06-01 and RAR96-04 at
I make one prediction: the NTSB will tear Metrorail a new one about the continued use of the Rohr-built 1000 series cars. The pictures of yesterday's accident show exactly the same type of structural behaviour under crash conditions the NTSB considered completely unacceptable 13 years ago and again 5 years ago. Whatever the cause of the crash is as determined by the inquiry, the NTSB will say that people may have not died in a crashworthy car. Lawsuits will fly. As ebnut pointed out Metrorail use the 1000 series not because Metro loves them because they have lots of them in the garage and no money to replace them.

The FTA will probably get some heat too for not imposing crashworthiness standards for transit cars while FRA does for mainline cars.
Strangely enough, structural survivability standards are relatively new to transit rail. The European started their standards writing activities in the mid-90's and are just recently put them into EU directives. The emphasis always has been to avoid collision and derailments. That's fine but it's also nice to know the subway car won't come apart if it hits something really hard. Because transit accidents actually do happen.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 24, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I suppose most of us are "textilists," though we didn't know it...until now.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Although I must say, a pretty mediocre and unimative choice of artwork with that link. I should think the NYT can do much, much better.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I forgot the gin. Typical.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

If you want to see some well made and interesting films about confronting death (and after all, who doesn't?) I'd recommend-

"Ikiru" by Kurosawa (natch) which deals with a man who leads a rather dreary and routine existence as a civil servant until he gets the news that he has terminal stomach cancer. His actions, and the responses of his friends and family make a great story.

"Wit" directed by Mike Nichols and starring Emma Thompson is a riveting look at terminal illness and the medical profession. Tough stuff, but Thompson is amazing.

"Fearless" with Jeff Bridges as man who loses his fear after a near fatal plane crash. And I do mean completely loses his fear. Lots of things to think about- healthy vs. unhealthy fear, survivor's guilt, etc.

"The Doctor" with William Hurt and Elizabeth Perkins about a brilliant doctor who learns valuable lessons about life and death when he suddenly becomes a patient himself. Pretty hard to be self important in those backless hospital gowns!

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: does that mean will have to get by on just vermouth?

Posted by: Southwester | June 24, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Good afternoon all, Joel a really great kit.

kguy loved your statement.

It is our first scorcher of the season 87 outside my house right now but humidity making it feel somewhat warmer. Pool is at 84 - Pool party!

Posted by: dmd2 | June 24, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Virtual lunch at dmd's house!!!!!!!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

rainforest -- thanks for the link last night to the story about drilling near the Geysers in California. My daughter lives very near there -- and I live in California -- and I had not heard of that project.

Nothing like getting your local news from an imaginary friend half a world away!

For watching earthquakes in California, do you know this site?

Posted by: nellie4 | June 24, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

@Windy3: My nails are short. I'm going to get my life worked on.

Posted by: ScienceSpouse | June 24, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Improve your life? Drink more water...

Then, eat a Weedster Reuben ... first preference--pastrami v. corned beef. BUT, mod'ed that to a combo of domestic ham and thick sliced peppered salame. Toss on a decent amount of saurkraut and some horseradish spiked mustard (I don't do Russian ... even in dressing, I am sorry)

Drink more water.

Posted by: russianthistle | June 24, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Someone said once that one should not act as if one is an immortal being. I take this to mean don't take life for granted, either.

I'm supposing Sanford has blown the lid off the super-secret meeting of the cabal of Ayn Randians down in SA at their "pretend-to-be-John Galt-and-rip-off-and-overthrow-civilization" convention.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 24, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I think the secret is to simply pay attention to the present. Which is often hard for me to do.

But I know that if I spend too much time worrying about the future then I will lose focus on the present. And if I lose focus on the present, I will have no way to appreciate the future when things get better, and no good memories to sustain me when things do not.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 24, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

And sometimes people are there to help when those random moments occur.

Badsneaks keep this article in mind if Peggy's Cove is on your list of visit in NS

Posted by: dmd2 | June 24, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm working on that very thing myself, ScienceSpouse.

Perhaps the funniest thing about it is my current mantra. I rarely drink, but I've adopted the "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning" saying from the venicesurfreport LiT pointed us to. In my case, it means start early, get a move on and keep going. And take a break for lunch with friends when they call unexpectedly.

Target's Archer Farms Lemon Sparkling Water is pretty good stuff.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 24, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

AMY GOODMAN interview with Pakistani opposition figure and cricketing legend Imran Khan:

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 24, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I could use a nice present.
Tell me a story.

Posted by: Boomslang | June 24, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Right then, with all proposed amendments the current proposed wording is as follows:

Live each day as though you were going to live for a very long time, but treat others as though there was a small but significant risk that you may not see that person again, on a going forward basis, and the restriction on assault rifles is hereby repealed.

Posted by: engelmann | June 24, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Here you are, Boko.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Re Boko's short list
of "things and people to do",
Details man, details!

Posted by: DNA_Girl | June 24, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I've said it here before, but I do have a fear that Metro will be the death of me. Being blind, I have little choice other than to use Metro to get to work. Navigating across the crowded platforms with so many very important people rushing around pulling their luggage by a rope and with the noise of the trains and the sound of tons of metal whizzing by just a few feet next to me is simply terrifying. Several times a year I get the adrenalin rush from catching myself from falling off the platform or slipping between the cars trying to board the train. Just one step in the wrong direction, and that'll be my last mistake. Above ground isn't much different. I've heard the sound of screeching wheels from a car whose driver prevented an ugly situation by slamming on the brakes with not a split second to spare many more times than I want to remember.

So yes, every time I kiss my wife goodbye before heading for the bus stop I do think to myself that this one could be the last.

And before taking a sigh and stepping off a curb I do have a consoling thought: If I don't make it to the other side, hey, at least I won't see it coming.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 24, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Ever since my 10-year-old daughter left Children's Hospital three weeks ago, I've mulled the seeming randomness of life. As her young bones learn to accept her new titanium screws, I marvel at the tenacity of human beings and promise to hone my skills at adaptation, acceptance and appreciation. On Monday, before the Red Line accident occured, I took a photo of the sunrise on my mobile phone. I've been doing that every day since. A little reminder about the value of simple things at a time of great sadness.

Posted by: bluestilton | June 24, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Geezos-Peezos, WhackyWeasel! I was agonizing with you until your last sentence, and I didn't (and still don't) know whether to laugh or to cry.

Those everyday, self-important or not, but usually so, people who go through life thinking fervently that they are the only people on the planet and that if other people indeed exist, those others exist *only* to do things for the only person on the planet. I remember when I had my left leg in a cast when I moved home from Sweden (dislocation in Germany -- long story) -- and it was the days of the plaster cast and a lot of itching). There was a change of planes at Heathrow to go to New York and then to Detroit. At least SAS got a wheelchair for me at all stops, but I recall particularly at Heathrow, people kept walking into my outstretched leg. I ended up flailing one of my crutches about to try to protect my leg (especially the knee) and people got very offended by that. For them, I simply shouldn't have existed.

WW, I recognize your dilemma and wish things were easier and safer for you.

Still don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 24, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Metro is stressful enough even when you have the eyes. The Beltway is worse, though.

I wound up choosing to move so I could walk my commute. It helped in training Wilbrodog.

This morning its in the 70's, the lawn is fresh-mown, got a little weeding in, and I'm feeling like playing hooky.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse


For a look at what some might describe as death in life, see "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" a French film based on the memoir of a stroke victim with "locked in" syndrome.

Fans of the afterlife may enjoy Albert Brooks' "Defending Your Life" with Meryl Streep and Rip Torn. You die. You are judged. You get to move on, or not. The cameo by Shirley MacLaine in the "Past Lives Pavillion" is worth the price of admission.

Subway lovers who have seen "Pelham 123" and the remake and want more should seek out the Hungarian fantasy "Kontroll."

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Great story ,Mudge. It had eveything. And beer and burning stuff.

I believe it was after the British burned bits of Washington that a Canadian comic came up with the line: Sack, then burn.

Stoopit British.

Sorry DNAGirl, it's enough to know that I've got one. A list, that is.

Posted by: Boomslang | June 24, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I am watching Mark Sanford's press conference and it is really a *hoot.*

Posted by: Yoki | June 24, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

So true, Boomslang.

I learned a long time ago that if you have to cut and torch metal, it's best to cut it first, *then* torch.

It's a lot harder to cut something that's been heat treated...

WW, I'm with ya, man.

Now I'm off to a meeting, then the ballgame.


Posted by: -bc- | June 24, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to say I love "Boomslang". Great handle. It's nice to have a snake on the Boodle.

Off to a meeting. I'd just like to point out that it is supposed to hit 99 degrees today, then be over a hundred the rest of the week. It is still JUNE. This is just WRONG.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

FTB, I've had people such in a hurry on Metro slam into me and bellow, "Why dont you Watch where you are going?"

Which is laughable because not only do I move slowly, but I'm the size of a small offensive guard. (Some people would do good to take their own advice.)

So go ahead and laugh, I don't want to think that I made a boodler feel bad from one of my comments.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | June 24, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, I sympathize. What's the expected humidity?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Off kit but topical - Gov. Sanford admits to flying off Argentia for a tryst with a woman not his wife. Can't anyone in high public office keep his pants up?

Posted by: ebtnut | June 24, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Argentina, of course.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 24, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh good lord. Mark Sanford just torched his career. What a dumb@ss.

Posted by: slyness | June 24, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

If he went in Argentia it would be for a tryst with a moose or a seal.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 24, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Great... Now I have an Argent tune cootie.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 24, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Unbe-freakin-lievable! What part of "public figure" do these guys not get? The world used to be so simple. The Dems couldn't keep their pants on and the Repubs couldn't pass up the cash. But now they all seem to go both ways. Blago and Jefferson grub for the coin and Ensign and now Sanford are hoist on their own weapon of choice, petards being outlawed under the Geneva Convention.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Gov. Mark Sanford just had a press conference during which he admitted the “hiking the Appalachian Trail” story was a lie, and that he flew to Argentina – ARGENTINA, FER CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!!! – to continue an affair he’d been having for 8 years. And which his wife has known about for five months.

So he’s resigning as head of the Republican Governor’s Association. Which, hey, seems only fair.

Jeez. William Effing Shakespeare couldn’t write such a bizarre story. Not Mark Twain. Not Rod Serling. Not even me.

Rachel, Olbermann, Letterman, and Jon Stewart are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO going to be all over this.

This must be a sign of the End Times or something.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I hope Jenny divorces him.

Posted by: slyness | June 24, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Man, I hope she was worth it. We must be talking about one of the all-time, world-class, waves-breaking-in-the-surf skyrockets-over-the-Statue-of-Liberty explode-the-top-of-your-head pecks on the cheek here.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Do you ever wonder whether it ever occurs to these guys to get AIDS-tested and/or to get their mistresses AIDS-tested?

I suspect that Hallmark wouldn't have such a card, but a "Keep It Zipped!" card wouldn't hurt!


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 24, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Who stabbed him with truth serum, Mudge?

Or, Scrooge-like, did he experience the Ghosts of Midsummer Day past, present, and future?

Keep in mind, there is a possibility that the affair in Argentina is actually untrue. Which means the truth must be much, much worse.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Mudge he better have enjoyed it because he may never have the chance again. I think I'm going to scratch whatever I was going to watch on TV tonight and see what Kieth O does with this. He had Gene Robinson on last night, and he said that there had to be much more to this than a trek in hills. Little did we know! And Nuke, yes you're right, trysting in Newfoundland certainly doesn't have the panache of Buenos Aires. I almost got stationed there when I was in the Navy - got Iceland instead.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 24, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

It really is simply staggering. In so many ways. And it's the cumulative effect thing: Edwards, Ensign, Sanford. Hell, let's throw in Gingrich.

Hey, if Barney Frank admits to having an affair with a woman, I'm hanging up my interest in politics forever.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe even worse than if it was actually with an Argentinan fella...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

And for those wondering just why petards have been outlawed, this from Wiki-

The word petard comes from the Middle French peter, to break wind, from pet expulsion of intestinal gas, from Latin peditum, from neuter of peditus, past participle of pedere, to break wind; akin to Greek bdein to break wind. (Merriam-Webster) Petard remains a French word meaning a firecracker today (in French slang, it means a handgun, or a joint). Today, these "firecrackers" can be purchased at local shops and supermarkets for a very low cost.They are made by the french brand "super demon" situated in Paris. They have a range of different sizes.They can be lit using matches or a lighter.
The word remains in modern usage in the phrase to be hoisted by one's own petard (or to be hoist with one's own petard), which means "to be harmed by one's own plan to harm someone else" or "to fall into one's own trap", literally implying that one could be lifted up (hoisted, or blown upward) by one's own bomb.

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Barney might be the only member of Congress who isn't boffing some bimbo.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Dear Governor Sanford:

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 24, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Which is actually an unfair slur against bimbos. I have more respect for them than for the politicians. The true bimbos are the ones in office.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Another politician whose handling of his pressure has been misguided. ;-)

Posted by: Windy3 | June 24, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Boy, Gene Robinson is sure quick off the blocks:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm picturing Newhart imitating Sanford in a one-sided phone call with whoever broke the news to him that the Appalachian Trail story wasn't cutting it. And telling him what he needed to do next.

Posted by: Raysmom | June 24, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

rainforest -- my daughter lives 28 miles from that geothermal site. She said, when I sent her that link:

"This is very interesting and I had no idea that it was going on either. It looks so dangerous - like a two-year-old sticking his finger in a fire. Actually, what I was thinking is that the expensive earthquake coverage that I pay for every year will not cover an earthquake that is triggered by man made geothermal activity . . ."

Posted by: nellie4 | June 24, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Sanford's to do list

of Argentinian people;

don't want details, thanks.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | June 24, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Another headline that's both a "No sh--, Sherlock" hed as well as one that's also making me see red: "Report: Insurers Bilked Patients" [No kidding?]
Deck: "Consumers forced to pay billions in medical bills health insurers should have paid, report says."

Is it possible to be completely unsurprised yet furious at the same time?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I need a drink. Really.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Jeezy-peezy, Mudge, anyone who deals with insurance companies knows that's their M.O. Deny the claim and hope that the consumer gets tired of fighting the denial and pays it himself. Calling Captain Obvious.

Posted by: Raysmom | June 24, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

My brother lives in SC and we were chortling on the phone this morning about the *in Argentina, not Appalachians* story and we both agreed that another shoe was going to drop. Neither of us had any idea that it was going to be a freakin' Paul Bunyan shoe!

Posted by: Kim1 | June 24, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I'll whip up some pina coladas (a bottle of rum was what I got Mr seasea for Father's Day).

Wow - I was going to watch the Sanford press conference, but it wasn't on CNN when I checked, then had to go to the grocery store. So this is pretty stunning, that he admitted to an affair, after the Appalachian Trail business. So glad his wife wasn't with him at the presser.

kguy, thanks for the words of wisdom, and for the movie recommendations. I thought I had seen all of Albert Brooks's movies, but I haven't even heard of Defending Your Life.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 24, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I know, Raysmom, that's why I'm totally unsurprised...but furious.

And yet another American occupation that's been move offshore: mistress. So much for "Buy American."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 24, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps not so much "Buy American" as "Rent to Own".

The only Argentinian movie I know of, and it's a good one, is the twisty sting flick "Nine Queens."

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

That's the one with Madonna, right?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 24, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm having a drink and the giggles Mudge. Sanford was so quick to admit it was with a woman, I find it suspicious. There's plenty of good looking gaucho (and maybe vaca!) in Argentina.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 24, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Ack! I forgot about the Oscar winning "The Official Story."

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Madonna does not appear in "Nine Queens." Perhaps you are thinking of "Evita" which I have not seen, having contracted a severe Madonna allergy during a screening of "Dick Tracy."

Posted by: kguy1 | June 24, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

She wasn't bad in After Hours; but then, she was playing a s1utti$hly clad weirdo.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 24, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

We'll be better able to judge the seriousness of his affair when we see the size of the bible Sanford carts to his next photo-op.

Posted by: Buddy999 | June 24, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Buddy! How's Boko doing?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Also by how closely that bible shields his privates, Boko.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 24, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

8000km/5000 miles between Warshington dc and Buenos Aires. Not exactly Green Dating, ain't it?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 24, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

A Twitter on Tommy Tomlinson's blog:

Totally understand Mark Sanford. Can't tell you how many times I've set out to hike the Appalachian Trail and ended up in Buenos Aires.

Posted by: slyness | June 24, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Hi Wilbrod. I appear to have lost my Boko self somewhere in the intertubes.

From WordNutDaily:
'The governor indicated his family was aware of the affair before he left on what he called an adventure trip last Thursday.

"We've been working through this thing for about the last five months," he explained. "What I did was wrong, period."'

I suppose he's spent the last six days breaking the bad news to his paramour.

Day 5: "Oh, by the way."
Let the adventure begin.

Posted by: Buddy999 | June 24, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

This is a statement from Sanford's wife:

which I think is quite dignified and appropriate. I wish she was kicking him to the curb, though. Once again, I'm more impressed with a politician's wife than with him (although I know next to nothing about her...or him...but he's seemed a bit off the rails, with refusing the stimulus money,

Posted by: seasea1 | June 24, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

New Kit! (think I'll need a shower after reading it...or another drink)

Posted by: seasea1 | June 24, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The boss has a Sanford kit up ---

Posted by: nellie4 | June 24, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

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