Various things & stuff, Episode 1

Deregulator's first week in review, plus what subscribers can expect

Sand sculpture at Merlefest, 2012 (Photo by me)

Thanks to everyone who’s offered encouragement, support (and subscriptions!) for my first week of Substacking!

I’ll spell out how I plan to treat my paid subscribers even more special than I do the rest of you wonderful people who’ve signed up for free.

But first, here’s the first installment of one of the weekly items that’ll be behind the paywall, a notebook column we’ll call:

Various Things and Stuff!*

  • Impeachment? Nothing to see here ... I’ll write about the impeachment trial of Donald Trump as it approaches. But surprisingly we haven’t heard more about a federal impeachment of a sitting U.S. congressman that shares some parallels with the former president’s situation: The strange case of Florida man Alcee Hastings. The 84-year-old Hastings, who’s served in the U.S. House since 1993, was a Carter-appointed federal judge who was impeached by the House and convicted (on eight counts) by the Senate for taking a $150,000 bribe and giving a lenient sentence to two convicted mobsters. In 1989, the Senate removed Hastings from the bench but it failed to disqualify him from another office. So he started running immediately. He won his House seat in 1992, with quite the career since then. He’s a deputy Democratic whip. He’s also faced allegations of sexual harassment, nepotism, and accusations he used campaign money to buy himself a Lexus. FWIW, he raised challenges to the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 and voted both times to impeach Trump. Stanford Law School professor and former U.S. Appeals Court Judge Michael McConnell points out even though Trump is out of office, he was impeached during his term (HT: The Volokh Conspiracy). A trial is not only constitutional but legitimate if the Senate wants to prevent him from any future federal service. Have at it.

  • The most important test this school year: Legislative Republicans soon will introduce a bill requiring school districts to offer some in-person instruction while allowing parents to choose full-time virtual options. The bill would require schools to adopt COVID-19 protocols endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the joint UNC-Duke ABC Science Collaborative. Gov. Roy Cooper probably will veto any bill, but Republicans would need to get only five Democrats — three in the House and two in the Senate — to flip and override the veto. This will move fast.

  • Week one in review: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t express my gratitude properly for the first week of this Substack. So much positive feedback, so many friends and people new to me who’ve subscribed, for free and for money. It’s humbling. Heartening. And it’s pushing me to do better. My first outside media hit was yesterday, with my pals Rick and Donna Martinez on WPTF 680 in Raleigh. We talked about the Cooper emergency powers story and they asked about the Substack (thanks for the plugs!).** I also hope to renew my slot at 7:40 a.m. Wednesdays on WPTF with Scott Briggaman. Check out my Twitter feed for updates on this and other outside media. Please tell your friends, sign them up, consider gift subscriptions. If you appreciate what I’m doing, spread the word.

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Now, for the PBS-style fundraising pitch. I’d rather have Mike-Nelson-as-Jack-Perkins present it, but still …

If you’re one of my paid subscribers — or if you’re on the free list and may fork over a few bucks — you’re probably wondering what will remain gratis and what bonus materials will paid folks get?

All subscribers will get

Three posts weekly. Everything will have a North Carolina hook of some sort. I’ll share my articles published in other outlets.

Paid subscribers will get

A post every weekday (or five a week, just in case I decide to hold a thought for a weekend). Plus, any bonus posts that pop out of my keyboard.

Everything on Deregulator, plus access to the archives and an invitation to comment. Please comment, and try to keep things between the ditches. A big reason I chose to do this was a hope to host lively discussions without yelling. I’d appreciate both. Lively discussions and no yelling, casting aspersions (or asparagus), etc.

These items will remain behind the paywall:

  • Various Things and Stuff*: A weekly (probably Friday) notebook column about … various things and stuff. It may or may not mostly be political. Next week, it’ll get feistier. More personal. Punchier. It’ll include updates about the site, any outside media attention and other shameless self-promotion, interesting items that came over the virtual transom, potential pet pics. Maybe even ukulele! (Although I may charge more for you NOT to get ukulele posts.) It’ll be fun, and worth the price of admission. Promise.

  • Truth Serum: A weekly post on media, political culture, the state of the liberal (in the best sense) project. From my perch. How can Americans maintain a reasonably functioning society — including, but not limited to, government operations — in Clickbait Country and Hot Take Heaven? How can we at least stem the erosion of civility in our civil society? This L.A. Times op-ed from former Fox News Decision Desk honcho Chris Stirewalt would offer a fantastic hook for the topic. OK, this column will be ambitious. It’ll be a challenge. But if a sitting president and a handful of elected representatives can convince thousands of people that their existence as Americans depends on storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent an illegitimate transfer of power, things must change. I’ll try to redirect the stream ever so slightly.

  • Mail Time! A regular feedback (not feed bag) entry, answering your emails, comments, or other messages. I’m not sure how well Substack handles AMAs, so the mailbag it is. I may do this monthly, or, if it’s popular, more often than that. Send your questions to

You want everything? Daddy’s gotta pay the rent.

I’ve considered a podcast but am leaning against one. It’s not off the table, but there are many great podcasts out there. I’d rather be a guest than a host.

The paywall goes up Monday. 

Thanks again for a great start. Have an excellent weekend!

*My friend and former Las Vegas Review-Journal colleague Steve Sebelius (follow him on Twitter!) wrote a notebook roundup for the late, lamented Las Vegas City Life he called Various Things and Stuff. I’ve not found a better handle for the grab-bag column, and he’s given his blessing for me to use it here. Thank you, sir.

**The Martinezes, Cash Michaels, and I are award winners! Our Curtis Media Group team won First Place in Broadcast Political Coverage of Election Night 2014 from the Radio and Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas and The Associated Press. (Other shameless promotion of accolades, plus my CJ archives, here.)

Please be kind, and share if you will!