A house divided.

If awards were given for press releases — and surely, there must be some — the one announcing the closing of the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne has to be a nominee for something. Best Weaseling, maybe. For starters, there’s the headline:

Lincoln Financial Foundation to Make Its Lincoln Museum Collection More Accessible and Visible

Then there’s the lead:

Lincoln Financial Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Lincoln Financial Group, announced today it will take a two-pronged approach to make its Lincoln Museum collection more accessible and visible in celebration of the Abraham Lincoln bicentennial in 2009. The Lincoln Foundation currently owns one of the most extensive collections of Abraham Lincoln-related items including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and a Thirteenth Amendment signed by Abraham Lincoln (see attached inventory overview list for more details). Specifically, Lincoln Foundation will: one, seek public partners with whom the Museum can explore exhibition options for its three-dimensional items and, two, digitize its documents in order to make the entire collection more visible and accessible to a greater number of people.

Wow, you’re thinking. They’re making the museum bigger? Finding a partner to increase the collection? What? Paragraph two:

The Lincoln Foundation embodies the principles of Abraham Lincoln who once said, “I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number.” “By collaborating with other museums, the Lincoln Foundation hopes to make these items available to a greater number of people using Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial as a catalyst,” said Priscilla Brown, Vice President, Lincoln National Corporation.

OK, so it’s a press release. There’s always some fluffing.

Paragraph three:

The Lincoln Foundation is proactively pursuing a solution that benefits historical education and scholarship and exposes the collection to the largest possible audience. Through invitation, the Lincoln Foundation will host a national informational session with potential public partners in late March to provide an understanding of the collection items and, in turn, discuss options for increasing visibility.

A national informational session? Cool. Is the media invited to cover it? Not exactly. Paragraph four:

The Lincoln Museum has operated in Fort Wayne, Ind., for many years, first as a library and then as a museum. As a result of this new strategic direction, The Lincoln Museum will close to the public effective June 30.

Talk about burying the lead.

The next paragraph is the standard boilerplate about the company, its assets and services. They actually put the news in the final paragraph.

What a fine bunch of bastards these people turned out to be. For those of you unfamiliar with the company, for decades it was based in the Fort and was one of the proudest members of the corporate community. It treated both its employees and its city generously; the work week ended at noon on Friday, and Fort Wayne is dotted with public assets that would never have found or sustained life without its largesse. If they could be a little pushy sometimes — as a reporter, you really didn’t know rigidly enforced rules of media relations until you’d experienced it at Lincoln — at least it was in the service of a greater good.

Then the beloved, longtime CEO retired, and his replacement let little time pass before announcing the executive offices would move closer to a major financial center — Philadelphia. Oh, but don’t panic! they said as they backed out the door. Everything else is staying here! Don’t be alarmed! Well, you know what happened next. Bit by bit, Lincoln Financial Group is leaving the city.

Dismantling the museum, however, is truly vile. The Lincoln Museum is — was — a little jewel. A major refurbishment in the 1990s transformed it into a facility that walked a very delicate line between flashy-enough-for-the-interactive-age but still-a-serious-place. What could it cost to keep the doors open on a place that was largely staffed by volunteers, that didn’t require huge upkeep, that gave the city a unique, prestigious attraction? Especially when you consider LFG paid millions to get its name on a goddamn football stadium, this is just plain old, lowdown shittiness.

Priscilla Brown’s late mother-in-law has her name on a beloved institution in the Fort, incidentally — a fine high-school natatorium. I wonder how she’d feel if that was closed, and the water distributed to the “largest possible audience.”

Gerald Prokopowicz, pal of NN.C and occasional visitor to the GP, had his own thoughts in yesterday’s News-Sentinel. (Aside: Another fine effort by my alma mater. They really kicked the Journal’s butt on this one.) As the former scholar-in-residence at the museum, he was the logical source to call. It was even more depressing to note that one reason attendance is down is, fewer schoolchildren are being brought through on field trips. And why is that?

Prokopowicz said fewer students are going on field trips to museums, and it’s a trend that’s occurring in places other than Fort Wayne. He blames it on two factors: standardized testing, which forces teachers to spend more time in the classroom, and higher gas prices.

Even in our fancy suburban district, it’s maddening to see how much classroom time is taken up with prepping for our state assessment tests. Now you see the chain reaction of keeping kids in the classroom when they could be in the Lincoln Museum.


So let’s change the tone with some upbeat bloggage, eh? Via Ashley, some news on Jill Sobule, best known for writing and performing that lesbian theme song. I saw her open for Warren Zevon in 1996, and she was fabulous — funny and ironic and all that. She won my heart with “Kathie Lee,” her song about her secret affair with Frank Gifford’s wife. Like lots of hardscrabble artists, she came out during the break to sell CDs. We had a little chat, and she was as charming one-on-one as she was onstage. (In case any of you filthy pervs are thinking there was some sort of zing! there, let me put your minds at rest: I was 8.5 months pregnant at the time, and unless she’s into fat girls in jumpers and clogs and wedding rings embedded in their swollen fingers, you are wrong.)

Anyway, it appears Jill is no longer under contract with a record company, and has gone unilateral to raise money for her next one. She’s set up a website where you can give, with some creative fundraising steps. It starts at $10, which gets you a free digital download, and ends….

$10,000 – Weapons-Grade Plutonium Level: You get to come and sing on my CD. Don’t worry if you can’t sing – we can fix that on our end. Also, you can always play the cowbell.

I’m thinking I may go in at the get-your-name-in-the-liner-notes level. I want to leave cryptic footprints for my ancestors, so they can fight over the Thanksgiving table about whether I swung both ways.

Today’s only-in-Detroit story: Man comes home after alarm service tells him there’s been a break-in. Enters the house, looks around, realizes the burglars are still in the house. So he slips into a bedroom and calls 911 in a whisper. The police arrived…three hours later. He finally had to call his councilwoman, who called the police chief, who was able to rustle up a prowler. Best single detail:

He even tried the Northwestern District police station directly, but said he was told officers weren’t available because they were in the middle of a shift change.

In the New York magazine story about heroin tycoon Frank Lucas, which was the basis for the “American Gangster” screenplay, Lucas talks about the wonders of the shift change:

We put (the dope) out there at four in the afternoon, when the cops changed shifts. That gave you a couple of hours before those lazy bastards got down there. My buyers, though, you could set your watch by them. By four o’clock, we had enough niggers in the street to make a Tarzan movie. They had to reroute the bus on Eighth Avenue. Call the Transit Department if it’s not so. By nine o’clock, I ain’t got a fucking gram. Everything is gone. Sold . . . and I got myself a million dollars.

If only we could harness those powers for good.

OK, that’s enough for today. Have a good one. I’m off to enjoy what appears to be Steamboat Springs outside my window. Minus the mountains.

Posted at 11:07 am in Current events, Metro mayhem, Popculch |

33 responses to “A house divided.”

  1. Rory on LawnGuyland said on March 5, 2008 at 11:34 am

    “He even tried the Northwestern District police station directly, but said he was told officers weren’t available because they were in the middle of a shift change.”

    Nance: Dunno if this is true or an Urban Legend, but I’d heard-tell of a homeowner in a similar situation. Prowlers on premises, called the cops, gives his address, they said they were otherwise occupied. Guy thinks fast, says, “No problem. I’ve got my gun. I’ll take care of it,” and hangs up. Naturally, several cops come screaming up minutes later, nab perpetrators. Cop asks homeowner for his gun; guy says he doesn’t have one. Cop says, “Thought you told Dispatch you had a gun?” Guy says, “Thought none of you guys were available?”
    True or not, still funny.


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  2. ashley said on March 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I sprung for $50, and put the wife’s name in the liner notes. It’s both a birthday gift, and “cryptic footprints”.

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  3. colleen said on March 5, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I would love to know the inside scoop on how things went so horribly awry for Fort Wayne in choosing Mr. Rolland’s successor.

    The closing of the museum is horrible. A much bigger deal than it appears on the surface. LNC was a great part of the Fort. Good paying non manufacturing jobs. Now it’s just slowly dying. We need MORE of those jobs. Instead, I’m reading news stories about 20 new jobs that pay 8:50 an hour.

    And yeah. Talk about spin. Holy cow. It’s like putting “Oh, yeah, and the Hindenbergh exploded” in the last graph…

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  4. michaela said on March 5, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Man, I love Jill Sobule. Didn’t know about the fundraiser, either, so thanks for that. I’m cheap, so I only ponied up $15.

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  5. Jeff said on March 5, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    What made my first read of the Lincoln Museum press release a double cringe was that i knew exactly what one of the contributing factors is, as Gerald later explained — i’m very worried about the Ohio Historical Society going down the same road. Our school visitation numbers are in the tank, and even when you offer to front them the money for the busses and defer fees for kids from underserved audiences, they say “we just don’t dare spend the time off of the state-mandated lesson plan.” Nature centers are getting a punch in the gut, too.

    70% of the OHS budget comes from the state, but they’re a private association with a state charter, so the state is even less obligated to support them than if they owned all the locations and stuff themselves. (See http://www.ohiohistory.org)

    Like the Ohio state parks, there’s growing impetus in the Statehouse behind selling off, to private vendors, sites and pieces of property that can be “maximized to their fullest potential” or whatever rapacious lingo is obfuscatingly popular today.

    Which sure sounds to me like Lowe’s Depot, or Home Lots, or Big Hooters (wait, that’s redundant, isn’t it?) or Applely Tuesdays.

    “The past is silent, unless we listen very closely.”

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  6. michaelj said on March 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Good grief, how’s it feel to be virtually hobnobbing with self-proclaimed electronic big boys in the rarefied atmosphere of Slate? I’ve got to know:

    Just how effete is Michael Kinsley?

    Is Mickey Kauss really a consummate horse’s ass, or does the internet add 15 lbs. of fatuity?

    What’s the deal with Christopher Hitchens’ adenoidal whine and chronic neurasthenia? Did both get worse when he became an American citizen? (And who’s to blame for letting that unfortunate naturalization come to pass?)

    Is Dahlia Lithwick gorgeous, to match her verbal talent, rapier wit, and towering intellect?

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  7. nancy said on March 5, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Jeff, somehow you missed the spam filter just now. Let’s hope our long national nightmare is over.

    As for the Slate crew, they’re all coming to dinner on Saturday, Michael, so I’ll let you know. Gotta make more cheese straws!

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  8. blogenfreude said on March 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    The museum is set to close, but will not really close. In other news, tractor production is up three hundred percent for the year.

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  9. Peter said on March 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I’m of two minds on this one. It IS appalling that the museum will close – does it really kill them to do something nice, that’s probably a tax write off as well?

    On the other hand, while I have a grade school kid, and he (and I) believe that there’s nothing like a field trip to break the dreary routine, I think that some of these museum’s only reason for being is to host school groups.

    There’s a nature center about 1 mile from our house, and it’s a nice place, but I remember that my son’s school had a big field trip to – the local nature center, which most of those kids pass on the way to school. Bold thinking, there.

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  10. Jeff said on March 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Make them take off their shoes at the door; they’ve not used to the cinders we spread on Midwestern roads.

    Peter, we live in the midst of a prehistoric site listed in “The 70 Wonders of the Ancient World” from Cambridge U Press, between the Pantheon in Rome and Angkor Wat. Most of the college intro-history field trips we get (required on this campus) have never set foot on the site, unless it was to use to picnic shelters on one component. And with our 4th grade groups, the most common, my main visible reaction is on the faces of parents — “we live in the middle of a World Heritage nominated site? Huh?”

    So taking the kids to the local nature center i’m betting is a first actual visit for 85+% of those kids. I’m just sayin’.

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  11. MichaelG said on March 5, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Was in Susanville the last two days. Back in the office today catching up on stuff and, whoops, guess what I saw on Monday’s Slate!

    Pretty neat, Nance. I’d love to see some more.

    Interesting thread. I had no idea that field trips were down and especially no idea that it was so harmful to museums, etc.

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  12. brian sstouder said on March 5, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I will be interested to hear what some of the larger local supporters (such as Al Zacher) have to say, if anything, about the disintegration of the Fort Wayne Lincoln Museum.

    I just renewed our annual family membership with the Friends of the Lincoln Museum last month, and then they (in effect) turned right around and announced: ‘Oh by the way – we’re shutting down forever in 3 months!’

    I’m thinking my ‘friendship’ with them has been badly damaged!

    One supposes that this is just another step in the corporation’s ‘long goodbye’ to Fort Wayne. (My bet is that – after the bicentennial hoopla comes and goes, whatever travelling exhibits they have will congregate in Philadelphia….and that some specific high-value stuff, such as their 13th Ammendment signed by President Lincoln, and their signed copy of the EP, will get auctioned for a very tidy profit after Ian Rolland passes away)

    from the press release:

    Through invitation, the Lincoln Foundation will host a national informational session with potential public partners in late March to provide an understanding of the collection items and, in turn, discuss options for increasing visibility.

    Isn’t that a dryly polite, bloodlessly corporate way to say:


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  13. virgotex said on March 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Sobule is a menschy dame fer sure.

    I want to leave cryptic footprints for my ancestors, so they can fight over the Thanksgiving table about whether I swung both ways.

    plus you’re all mobbed up with the NuPac dykes and genderbenders, don’t forget.

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  14. michaelj said on March 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Perhaps Abe Lincoln is just embarrassing to the GOP in an election year. They claim him as a patron saint, but Lee Atwater killed the myth of the party of Lincoln (and tried to apologize on his deathbed, and for that, I hope and believe he made the saved varsity.

    It’s the party of Nixon and Strom Thhuhhhmond, Delay and Trent Lott. What’s amazing is that anybody without an ideological or financial axe to grind sticks with them. How is it they’re convinced their redneck asses have a stake? I’d like some enterprising reporter to ask McCain if he intends to pardon the neocons when they’re convicted of lying their asses off.

    I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic about Slate. Well, not entirely, and your response was typically and deftly sardonic. I assume, I hope, you actually got paid for your excellent piece. I most certainly think Ms. Lithwick must be, how the kids say, hot, if she can write so felicitously about complex legal issues and, you know, explain it all. On the other hand, Kinsley is wimpy, Kaus obnoxious and Hitchens entirely insufferable. Not good dinner party fodder.

    I’ve been thinking about the Talking Heads. In actuality, I read that David Byrne plagiarized Once in a Lifetime from some real estate company’s training documents. Sounds spurious, but he’s awfully, in the sense of scary, eccentric. Stuart Adamson ripped And the Walls Came Down from the headlines. It’s also true that this greatest song, by a mile, by Talking Heads is elevated by the crashing major guitar chords towards the end.

    How about Train in Vain. I contend punk started in Detroit. It started with MC5. But SRC were the more impressive musicians and Seger was everyman. Critics dismiss Quackenbush as relying of sustain, but nobody ever came close to that sound. Like the Stones, the Beatles and Credence.

    Sex Pistols and the Clash and the Jam? Maybe so. All lost in the supermarket. MC5 was the musical equivalent of a putative revolution, which is all Sonic and Rob Tyner, and John Sinclair ever hoped. Brilliant music and revolution on the side.

    This banner was taken up by Michael Bean and Bill Anderson. How do the Butthole surfers have a song called Jet Fighter? Thren there’s Ray Davies taking up this hopeless cause. Ray Davies took up this lost cause, and that’s Ray. Guy played like Dave, pretty much, but Raymond wasn’t buying .

    It seems kind of obvious that it’s all about the guitar playing. Why the Georgia Satellites are soooo much better than say, the Black Crowes. Way back in the day, Bob Seger played the lead parts. Of course, in that band, as in the Who, it was the bass player that took the foremost part. Or the singer.

    If you listen to Cream, Clapton’s amazing but Jack Bruce is mesmerizing. Best vocals that weren’t Stevie Winwood. And when the Who needed a solo, we got the Ox on My Generation. Played the Precision faster than Pete could play the strat, or whatever.

    But anyway, when it comes down to what’s denigrated as post-Punk, who ever wrote better lyrics than Shane McGowan? William Butler Yeats? Well yeah, but he’s the finest poet ever lived. Well, nobody did. Only the absolute best Beatles songs came close to Ray Davies. And he tossed them off like it was nothing

    So if you’re a Democrat, isn’t the idea of eight with Hillary and eight more with seasoned Barrack an attractive scenario?

    Just to leave y’all with a little something, how spectacularly excellent are the Georgia Satellites. “Her skirt rolled up and I could see she was French. And I said toujours l’amour, avec mon amour” That’s rock ‘n’ roll, I guess. My, my,my mon cheri, baby I sure would be delighted in your company
    anytime that is good for you
    would be convenient with me.”

    There are great bands that never get recognized. Georgia Satellites are surely one. How did anybody catch onto Heavy Music? Or Ramblin Gamglin. Truly great songs. SRC wrote and played Paragon’s Council. Ir sure sounded like Cheney running things. And holy shit, that’s a frightening mpnster.

    You seem like somebody that means the best, Nancy. And you get the idea that Bob Seger used to be special. And Iggy They were very good.. Back in say ’67 Bob was amazing and Iggy was strange, but attractive. he Seger song we loved was Noah
    . If you want to get in touch with your inner Detroit, it’s MC5 and SRC you want to listen to. MC5 and SRC ruled.

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  15. joodyb said on March 5, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    buy all her music, and start with ‘underdog victorious.’ she’s a little genius.

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  16. alex said on March 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Colleen, I got to hear some of the inside scoop on Rolland’s succession firsthand and I can assure you he was blindsided by Mr. Boscia. Boscia hadn’t been the first to be considered. In fact no one inside was being considered. Instead they hired a guy named Robert Crispin who’d job-hopped his way up the executive ladder and evidently knew how to talk a good game.

    I heard quite a few people speaking openly about what an ass they thought Crispin was when he first arrived, and I particularly remember a confab of Lincoln execs and their wives letting rip over a party he’d held at his home, which had been catered to the nines and was very pretentious and stiff and phony and totally unlike the much more laid-back culture that was Lincoln.

    Crispin outraged my dad when he called him “unambitious” to his face for having spent his career at Lincoln rather than taking a new job every couple of years as Crispin had, uprooting his family and moving them all over the damn place. He also began interfering capriciously in my dad’s work, which he knew absolutely nothing about. Which is when my dad said adios and took an early retirement, enough of this shit.

    Crispin didn’t last. It was then that they decided it would be better to look for a successor in-house. And they really thought they’d made the right choice.

    It’s a sad ending for our community. It could have come sooner. I remember Ian Rolland saying he was working to prevent a hostile takeover back in the days when those were all the rage. He succeeded. Only to hand it over to an egomaniac exactly like Crispin who was looking out for nothing but Number One.

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  17. michaelj said on March 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    i remember an ice storm back in ’63. I needed to get downtown to take the UDHigh exam. Our neighbor had a front-wheel chevy because he was a Chevy exec. He rode us around on our sleds to wear down the ice. Got me to the test on time.

    Those were the days in Detroit. Community, even in the suburbs. We stood up for one another. In Pulte enclaves. Lamplighter Lane. Now, Pulte builds Sun Cities, and claims they’re Hilton Head. With tax breaks. Jesus what a jerk. Mr. Sheep, as Randy Newman might say.

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  18. Mark Walter said on March 5, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    I thought the new downtown baseball stadium was not only going keep everyone in FTW but draw all of us back who had left (escaped)?

    Too bad the museum won’t be around for the upcoming surge of people to downtown.

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  19. del said on March 5, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Alex, hearing what Crispin told your dad. Damn. The thread about LFG leaving the Fort reminds me of the great scene from Roger & Me where the GM execs are taking hors d’oeuvres from the trays held by human mannequins in costume. Through clenched lips they mutter, “yeah, GM’s been great to the community, they give folks jobs” or sumpin like that. Remember the rabbit lady?

    Michaelj, best Seger song: 2+2.

    My 2nd grader’s field trip (Pewabic Pottery) was cancelled for today (a snow day) but tomorrow I’m off to tour the Ford Rouge Plant with my 3rd grader. Yes!! Not all field trips are dead.

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  20. Kristina said on March 5, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Random Thoughts:

    1) I Never Learned To Swim: Jill Sobule 1990-2000 by Jill Sobule – best introduction to Jill – if you’re a newbie to her sound.

    2) Lincoln museum press release – Corporate greed/spin at its best. The person who wrote that – well – award worthy (what award? that remains up for debate).

    3) Let’s hope those greedy corporate bastards don’t dismantle other Fort Wayne-related great places like the children’s zoo and the embassy theater. Seems like a stretch, right? Uh huh. So was the thought of Lincoln (the massive family/hometown oriented business) leaving the Fort EVER.

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  21. Dexter said on March 5, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Good gawd, michaelj…I bet you call Iggy “Jim”.
    You’re right…MacGowan was a great lyricist; allow me to quote a few:
    “But fifteen minutes later
    We had our first taste of whiskey
    There was uncles giving lectures
    On ancient Irish history
    The men all started telling jokes
    And the women they got frisky
    At five o’clock in the evening
    Every bastard there was piskey”

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  22. michaelj said on March 5, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Del, I’d say best Seger song had to do with fortune wheels and roll dice. But I was there, when he used to play lead guitar. 2+2 yeah, unfortunate days. Too bad the Pretzleldent didn’t see that up close, since he was so sure it was right when he skipped.

    I figure John Kerry probably buys into your take, since he was there. He saved guys lives.

    What in God’s name could have clouded Americans’ minds, to buy into the short boat assholes? I had friends that met their maker at Hue. I didn’t go, and I don’t regret my refusal to participate. I wouldn’t go. I objected wholeheartedly. It was unadulterated bullshit, same as now. But I wonder to this day, might I have kept somebody from getting killed?

    This shit now, stop-loss and endless deployments. Fuck the Masters of War. They haven’t got a clue, and they never sacrificed. New American Centurions. Kerry knows the sacrifice. All along the Mekong Delta and into Laos without a doubt Mcsain doesn’t and the dumbshit is on board the waterboard express, even though his personal bopgraphy is based on the idea it doesn’t work. What a scumbag.

    It’sincumbent upon American voters to actually read the alleged authorization. The law required W to let Al Baradei complete inspections and the Pretzledent report back to Congress. He did no such thing, he just went ahead with Shock and Awe. Asshole lied his ass off to Congress and invaded. It’s spectacular how the MSM blames this on Congress. Defies reality.

    Blaming Congress is a canard. Neocons wanted to invade and they diIt’s like the whole running NAFTA charade. Story after story with no mention of the environmental and labor agreements put in place by Clinton that W just abrogated. These aholes rewrite history and get away with it.

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  23. MichaelG said on March 5, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    michaelj — I agree totally with your assessments of Kinsley, Kaus and Hitchens. As for La Lithwick, well, sigh, she’s tops. I’ve long had this fantasy about her and Nina Totenberg, who is NPR’s brilliant radio equivalent, sitting in the gallery of the Supremes knitting and exchanging salty comments about Souter, Scalia et al, toddling down to some joint afterwards for a tot and filing their stories. Yeah, I know, but remember it was a fantasy. Ever notice that Dahlia seems oddly attracted somehow to Scalia?

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  24. Dexter said on March 5, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    mj said: “But I wonder to this day, might I have kept somebody from getting killed?”

    When I got back from VN, I tried to have sort of the opposite discussion with my philosophy prof at IUPUFW. I wanted to discuss his thoughts on my participation in that horrible war, that even though my job was to save lives ( I was a medic) , was I to hold myself responsible for participating in general, and being part of the killing machine?
    He always brushed me off, always busy…wouldn’t give me the time.
    So good for you, michaelj, for not going at all. I was drafted, was all set to just leave for Canada, but I was just out of high school a year and had no people in Canada, was not hooked up with any peace groups, and my family members were split in wanting me to obey the law and go, and leaving , just running away. Tough call for a 19 year old kid , working in a factory.
    So I went, and age 21 I was a veteran of a foreign war.
    Oh, that question that tormented me so? I dismissed it, finally, the same way we did in Viet Nam when we thought about why the hell we were there at all…it don’t mean nuthin’.

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  25. michaelj said on March 6, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Jesus Dexter. Way I heard that it was “doan mean shit”. I was accepted at McAlester, short hop, and at McGill, in Montreal. I didn’t buy it and I wasn’t going.

    Grace of God. When they ran the first lottery, a friend of mine from High School came up six. He was actually ROTC, so I guess the number wasn’t so threatening, but I wasn’t buying that shit. Nobody was taking my friend for something that stupid.

    I’d been to Chicago for the convention. Gave some, took some. But this seemed more serious to me. Lord help me, I suppose I was anti-American if you looked at it in a Nixonian kind of way. This guy wasn’t really even my friend, in High School. Uber-Jock. A Wizard and true star. In college, I realized he was a really good guy.

    Against all odds, the Student Center had a bowling alley in its basement. It was supposed to be a pool, God know’s what happened. So I’m sitting with this guy and I’m tripping, and he looks at the bowlers and says ‘Pyramus, New Jersey, make that spare.’ You had to be there. So, we’re UDHigh lettermen contemplating eternity, and I’m thinking ‘Shit, this is Joe Hart’. This guy played hoops lefty with a cast on his right wrist and crushed Brother Rice. (You have to know about Detroit high school to understand the importance.)

    So, tripping my brains out, knowing about the bad lottery call, I said “Joe, you going?” He said, ‘Pyramus ,Nj, male that spare.’ Way cool. I was all-state in two sports, but this guy was a legend. I have to think, he could have done anything. Might have pulled some guy out of a river. That’s what Kerry did and that’s what the shortboaters denigrated. How the hell did these assholes get away with this? W flew security for the O-club, except they wouldn’t let him fly because he was cocaine-dependent.

    So anyway, here’s my new-found friend, who actually lived in my dorm room the year before, and we’re UDHigh (it’s a Setroit thing, though they may have missed it in the Grosses) (We’re Catholic as opposed to Anglican).

    And I can’t see Nixon sending this guy to war. In fact, I can’t see anybody being sacrificced for any war that scurvy brarded slome had promised to end but was still listening to Curtis LerMay.

    This was just a few months abyer that ahole shot Bobby Kennedy, and I was in an upstart frame of mind.

    I made up my mind that Joe Hart was my friend, and he was not going to get killed for no reason in VietNam.

    So, I launched a tirade. I committed any number of physical acts of civil disobedience and I launched myself into the anti-war movement. It’s notable that there was a campus uprising at the same time that involved the Black Student Union. Clarence Thomas claims to have taken part, but I don’t thinkhe did.

    This was at the College of the Holy Cross, an exceptional liberal arts school at the time, with one of the finest English Departments ever assembled. I managed decent grades. So the lottery came atround again and I was 115. Not good. But my draft board was Royal Oak, Fr. Coughlin’s territory. I dropped my student deferment because a friend of my dad’s on the draft board said volunteers would keep the number down. Reclassified 1H.

    I have to say, Dexter, I don’t think I should have gone. I believed, and I believe now, for sure, it was just wrong. You did what you had no choice about. I wish you’d had a choice. I wish you hadn’t had to to go through that. I got beaten by Chicago police trying to stop the war. Beat some up too. All in all, we’re both still alive, against any sane odds. I guess that’s something.

    Oh, and my pal Joe. Last play, last game, playing linebacker, and damn he was good. Trashed his knee making a tackle. Army had no use for his damaged ass. Isn’t that a perfect outcome.

    the student Center

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  26. Kevin Knuth said on March 6, 2008 at 6:11 am

    “Especially when you consider LFG paid millions to get its name on a goddamn football stadium, this is just plain old, lowdown shittiness.”

    You are quite the wordsmith!


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  27. MichaelG said on March 6, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I did two tours in the RVN. Trust me, michaelj, it was “doan mean nuthin'”.

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  28. Jeff said on March 6, 2008 at 8:50 am

    How did Hillary win Ohio? Bless ’em, The Plain Dealer tells you — http://www.cleveland.com/news/index.ssf/2008/03/_rural_ohio_helped_clinton.html

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  29. Jeff said on March 6, 2008 at 9:00 am

    And here in my county, Obama won eight of eight precincts around Denison University, and Hillary won . . . 110 out of 117 other precincts making up the county. Union, retired union, and general blue-collar folk are mixed up in a stew of “he’s too young,” “hasn’t paid his dues,” “doesn’t understand folk like us,” and, with apologies, “just can’t vote for the colored fellow.”

    It would be too much to say racism lost it for him, but it surely played a key role. Much of that, around here, is age and era, but there’s plenty of Alan Jackson, truck drivin’, beer drinkin’, youthful racism too. Add in anxiety about all them ‘Spanics comin’ up here to take our construction jobs, and you’ve got no way for Obama to win.

    Which no one wanted to talk about in the last few weeks.

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  30. joodyb said on March 6, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Yikes, Jeff. you are channeling my beaten down, beleaguered nephew who wouldn’t read a newspaper even if he had the time.

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  31. Jennifer said on March 6, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Re: LFG and the museum-closing press release: the strategy to sent the press release out at 9 a.m. for an 11:30 a.m. press conf. was, most likely, that no one would show up and the “upbeat” news (how wonderful the collection will be seen by so many people — NOT — if it’s divided among 20 museums in 15 states!) would come from their “official” announcement.

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  32. brian stouder said on March 6, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Jennifer – indeed. And Nance was being polite; the utterly worthless Journal Gazette’s “reporting” consisted of lots of meaningless pablum from the empty-suited dolt who heads the Chamber of Commerce, and dishonest double-speak from the empty-skirted corporate automaton that conducted the news conference.

    Dr P rightly called this ‘cultural vandalism’ in his News-Sentinel article, but you’d never get the idea that anyone at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce recognized this as the punch in the face that it truly is.

    And not for nothing, but in trading thoughts with my friends on staff at the Lincoln Museum, the corporate automaton was flatly lying when she said staff knew about these plans and have been working to implement them for months. To use the term one said to me – this was all a ‘horrific shock’ for them, too.

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