The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Emergency Tip-Jar Appeal

Posted on | June 26, 2017 | 1 Comment

Going gonzo on the campaign trail in Iowa, January 2012.

Y’know, sometimes, I can almost sympathize with the socialist Bernie Sanders/Occupy Wall Street crowd — almost, I say, because it is morally wrong to scapegoat “the rich” (however one defines that term) for the problems of the poor which, at the present moment, is defined as . . . me.

To skip ahead to the bottom line, I need $300 today, and have every reason to hope that the tip-jar hitters will come through, as always.

Reader-supported journalism — a fee-for-service arrangement between the reader and writer — is an honest sort of capitalist transaction, and if it requires me occasionally to rattle the tip jar like an epileptic on meth, this is a small price to pay for editorial independence.

During the years when I was rocketing around the country doing gonzo campaign trail coverage, readers’ Shoe Leather Fund contributions funded some daredevil expeditions. Probably the wildest of these was when I decided to fly to Alaska to cover the GOP Senate primary — Tea Party challenger Joe Miller versus the hated RINO Lisa Murkowski — and bought a one-way ticket to Anchorage, counting on the tip-jar hitters to get me back home. My departure for that trip was a particularly somber experience. Imagine the scene of me, with my suitcase, ready to leave for the airport, telling my wife, “Don’t worry, honey. I’ll make it back,” when all I had was a prayer that the readers would come through? And yet that trip proved to be one of my greatest triumphs, including a visit with Todd Palin (and sweet little Trig) at their family’s lakeside home in Wasilla.

A willingness to push it to the limit, to go all-out in pursuit of the story, led to many another daredevil adventure over the years, but the cost of those repeated gonzo expeditions began to mount unacceptably during the 2012 presidential campaign. During the Ohio primary, for example, I discovered that Ohio state police vehicles were equipped with a sophisticated type of radar which enabled a moving patrol car to detect the speed of a car traveling in the opposite direction. Then, late one night in Louisiana, en route to a Rick Santorum appearance in Shreveport after covering a Newt Gingrich event in Baton Rouge, I encountered the notorious speed-trap town of Livonia. That resulted in (a) the discovery that my license had been suspended because of non-payment of the Ohio ticket, and (b) my rented Nissan being towed, a situation that the rental agency seemed unwilling to forgive, so that I could no longer rent cars for my travels, which was quite unfortunate because (c) not long after that, the 2004 KIA Optima finally broke down. The Kimberlin drama happened amid all that and, after moving to the Undisclosed Location, I somehow managed to make it through both the Republican and Democrat conventions, then all the way to the end of the campaign trail in Ohio (“Doomed Beyond All Hope of Redemption”) before returning home and deciding, “OK, enough with the road warrior craziness, for now.”

For the past four years, except for a few occasional trips like the 2016 Republican National Convention, I’ve been blogging from home, which is obviously cheaper than constant traveling everywhere. So when my license was suspended for unpaid traffic tickets, I shrugged. But then there was one late night in 2014, when my wife was tired and I offered to drive and — as luck would have it — the tag light on the car was out, so we got pulled over and I was cited for driving on a suspended license. Again, I shrugged, because I had no real need to drive at the time, but being stuck at home began to be problematic. So when our tax refund arrived this spring, I resolved to fix the problem, which involved hiring a lawyer and finally paying off that Ohio ticket. (The Louisiana ticket had been paid off in 2012.) As of June 7, then, I am once again a licensed driver.

Well, becoming a law-abiding citizen wasn’t cheap, and then the cable bill showed up. The cable company is also my Internet service provider, so paying that bill was a necessity, and it wiped out my PayPal balance, which is why I’m rattling the tip-jar today. The mathematics of “crowdfunding” mean that, if 30 readers give $10, or 15 readers give $20, that $300 deficit is instantly eradicated. My one-way-ticket-to-Alaska confidence in the readership has always been rewarded, because I try to avoid rattling the tip-jar except when necessary. Regular readers give spontaneously — thanks to Mark in Arizona, Richard in Yonkers, David in Texas, and Daniel (“Doing God’s work”) for their contributions the past week — which keeps things rolling under normal circumstances, and there are a few readers who check the box for recurring monthly donations, which establishes what we might call the baseline blog budget. Meanwhile . . .

There’s a silver 2000 Saab Turbo with a five-speed stick-shift transmission sitting in front of my house. My teenage sons got it for $500 a few months ago, and it needs a few hundred dollars in repairs to be roadworthy, but the Silver Bullet™ has inspired me with a few wild ideas. In September, my friend Pete the Tech Guy will be hosting an event in Massachusetts where I’ll discuss my book Sex Trouble (New Englanders should buy their tickets now), and I’ve told Pete that while I’m up there, I want to visit Harvard University. Poke my nose into their Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, see what’s happening, maybe interview some students at that overpriced Ivy League insane asylum. And why stop at Harvard? It’s only a 2-hour drive from Pete’s house to Dartmouth College (where there’s also a Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies department), and from there, it’s just a three-hour drive down I-91 to Yale University in New Haven (which, of course, has a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department). Basically, I have in mind a Women’s Studies tour of the Ivy League, to discover by shoe-leather methods exactly how seriously this delusional nonsense is taken by the typical $65,000-a-year student at these elite schools.

However, that mischief is still more than two months in the future, and in the meantime there’s that $300 cable bill. Anything beyond the goal will be pushed forward with the idea of getting that Saab Turbo roadworthy, because I’m going to drive like a law-abiding citizen . . .

What? You don’t believe me? You think that I’m going to drive that sweet machine like the kind of reckless maniac who flies one-way to Anchorage? But I’m a Professional Journalist! Oh, wait . . .

The media credibility problem has gotten bad when my readers don’t even trust a Professional Journalist to obey the speed limits, but it’s been a fun ride so far, hasn’t it? And just imagine the adventures to be had when I’m writing The Ivy League Is Decadent and Depraved, as I’ve tentatively titled my prospective fall campus travel journal. Ah, but that’s the future, which can only be imagined, whereas today’s reality involves $300 and the Five Most Important Words in the English Language:


Thanks in advance for your usual generosity.



One Response to “Emergency Tip-Jar Appeal”

  1. FMJRA 2.0: Painkiller : The Other McCain
    July 1st, 2017 @ 10:29 pm

    […] Emergency Tip-Jar Appeal EBL […]