What election?

My weekly newspaper, the Grosse Pointe News, is the worst weekly in the United States. Someone needs to hold the title, and there I said it. We have a hot primary election coming up here in the GP, for the Michigan House, and the local paper has had zero coverage of it. Yes: [crickets.]

Not an endorsement, not a voter’s guide, not even a few lousy letters to the editor. I don’t know why. My first thought is that an endorsement for an open seat would confound their stated endorsement policy, which is to always back the incumbent. Yes, it’s in writing, and yes, my jaw dropped, too. While trying to inform myself on the candidates’ positions using the awesome power of the Google, I found this amazing account, on the website of the Eastside Republican Club, of a speech by the paper’s then-editor. Their endorse-the-incumbent policy was “in view of the sacrifice the citizen has made.” And you wonder how lousy government gets that way.

Of course, there’s been an ownership/management change since then, but it looks like the new owner has even less interest in government, although, oddly, they did cover Nancy Pelosi’s fly-by last week to endorse Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. This is week three of a letters-column battle over whether the Easy Riders Bicycle Touring Club does or does not observe traffic safety rules in its jaunts around town, and of course the police briefs thrive:

A resident of the first block of Muir reported that sometime between July 12-22 someone entered his unsecured garage and stole 12 brown leaf bags, a red 2 1/2-gallon gasoline can and one yellow work glove.

But nothing about the primary coming up next week. Oh, well. It’s not like it’s important or anything.

I don’t mean to rant about these things, but anyone who’s worked for any newspaper short of Grain ‘n’ Shit Weekly knows that elections are part of the franchise. No other news medium covers government the way the dead-tree variety does, and it’s one part of your coverage you should take seriously enough to do. [Cue the patriotic piccolo music, please.] When a candidate goes to the trouble to gather signatures, file for candidacy, walk door to door, shake hands and everything else, your local newspaper should take the time to notice and publish the outline of your platform. (Your TV stations certainly won’t.) Every paper I’ve worked for has published election guides, and we did them for every single one, and yes, there were probably eagles holding red-white-and-blue bunting in their beaks in every issue. It’s what you do, because it’s important.


Everything went fine yesterday, although Alan says I tried to engage the recovery-room nurse in lite chit-chat about my large intestine. (That’s a great ice-breaker, I’ve found.) Sleeping the afternoon away was pleasant until it wasn’t — nausea and a killer headache set in around 5 p.m. The headache was almost certainly from caffeine withdrawal, but I didn’t dare put coffee on an empty stomach, which couldn’t even hold water for a time. Alan said when he left me to go back to work, I was eating yogurt with a fork. And to think I used to be a world-class partier. No more, I guess.

A little bloggage? Sure. Much of this is pre-packed by Metafilter:

20 Ways to Die Trying to Dunk a Basketball. With video clips.

This one’s for Brian: The secret Catholicism of John C. Frémont. Everything old is new again.

Best LOLcats ever: Cats that look like Wilford Brimley. It’s …uncanny.

If it’s light and sloppy today, sorry. Ten percent of my brain thinks it wants more deep hypnotic drugs.

Posted at 9:45 am in Current events, Media, Popculch |

49 responses to “What election?”

  1. moe99 said on July 31, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Nancy, can you comment on the proposed court reform plan in Michigan? I realize the Nat’l Review is right wing and have no idea about what the Mackinac policy center is, but I have no idea if this is fact or opinion.



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  2. Jolene said on July 31, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Wow, Nancy, that is an amazing endorsement policy. And in addition to the “support the incumbent” principle, they disallow letters to the editor regarding individual candidates. Nothing like providing an outlet for the voice of the people!

    I can hardly believe these policies exist, let alone are recorded in print. Or that people don’t stand outside the newpaper office and laugh out loud at them. Perhaps you could lead a movement.

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  3. whitebeard said on July 31, 2008 at 10:46 am

    We are all glad to see you back, even if you want some more deep hypnotic drugs. How can a bird cage liner of any sort not cover an election, the world becomes more baffling each day.

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  4. brian stouder said on July 31, 2008 at 10:53 am

    and speaking of election coverage, thanks for the link to the 1856 presidential campaign cartoon; highly recommended reading!!

    Those wordy political cartoons of the old days have even more subtext than text. I liked the blogger’s comparison of the caricatures to Limbaugh’s “feminazis”….spot-on, really.

    Edit – and btw – Great to see the Proprietress back in the saddle (so to speak); I’m not far from the magic age myself….and I’m deep into Dave Barry’s ‘pre-enlighhtenment’ view of such things

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  5. MichaelG said on July 31, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Check the suit that guy Minnis wearing. It looks like a ’47 Buick seat cover. He does look kinda pleased with hisself. What kind of money does a guy putting out small town shoppers make?

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  6. nancy said on July 31, 2008 at 11:20 am

    The Republicans are right about Reform Michigan Government Now, and I hope it goes down in the fall, and that’s too bad, because if there was ever a legislature that deserved a pay-and-benefits cut, it’s this one. However, there’s already been one lawsuit filed to stop it, and more will likely follow if the first one stalls out.

    I signed a petition to get it on the ballot, but regret it now. I’ll vote against it in the fall.

    Jack Lessenberry addresses the issue low in his column, here.

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  7. brian stouder said on July 31, 2008 at 11:56 am

    The Republicans are right about Reform Michigan Government Now, and I hope it goes down in the fall, and that’s too bad

    See – a sentence like that one appeals deeply to me, and (I suppose) to anyone of a certain age; old enough to have gotten past clear-cut thinking and simple solutions. Ballot inititiatives like this one (and political campaigns in general) embody the eternal political paradox of purporting to offer simple and understandable solutions to complex problems…

    sometimes they do, but who the hell knows? And how can you “know”? One almost thinks that when things go RIGHT nobody really understands WHY any better than when things go wrong (except in hindsight)

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  8. paddyo' said on July 31, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Any so-called “editor” who spouts that toss-off description of the few news stories in his catbox-liner quality shopper as “write-ups” sounds to me like a talentless, clueless, third-class moron. An M.A. in journalism from Michigan State? REALLY?

    Gotta love the mustache, though. Goes great with the demon-red eyes. Grip ‘n’ grin, buddy. See you at the 19th hole.

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  9. jcburns said on July 31, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Hey, I thought that editor of Grain n Shit Weekly did a good job, considering her resources.

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  10. Danny said on July 31, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Holy smokes!


    From AFP:

    Knife-wielding man beheads fellow passenger on bus
    Jul 31 12:44 PM US/Eastern

    A passenger traveling on a bus across Canada’s vast Western plains stabbed, gutted and decapitated a man seated next to him in an unexplained attack, a witness told media Thursday.

    The victim had been sleeping before he was repeatedly stabbed in the chest by a man with a large knife, witness Garnet Caton told public broadcaster CBC.

    The other 35 passengers and driver were jolted by “blood-curdling screams” and fled. “He must have stabbed him 50 times or 60 times,” said Caton.

    When Caton and two others returned to check on the victim, he said they saw the attacker “cutting the guy’s head off and gutting him.”

    “While we were watching … he calmly walked up to the front (of the bus) with the head in his hand and the knife and just calmly stared at us and dropped the head right in front of us.”

    Police then surrounded the bus and arrested the man, he said.

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they were investigating a “major incident” that occurred at 9 pm Wednesday (0200 GMT Thursday) on a Greyhound bus traveling eastbound from Edmonton to Winnipeg, but offered no details.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Not to skip over a beheading, but i used to write for a free weekly, and the culture of “no controversy” is strong with those particular papers and their editors. It really is no more complicated than the fact that 75% of their ad rev is the local grocery store, and the store owner/managers say “i got both Dems and Rs buying rutabagas from me, and ticking either group off loses me half my business — cut it out!”

    I did not know this, and wrote a tepid endorsement in the course of making a meandering point in a column for said paper, and was roundly chastized by the editor, who had already been reamed by the publisher of the regional chain of which he was a part . . . mainly because he had printed it, and only realized i’d said “the candidate to vote for in this instance is Bob XYZ” after it was pointed out to him in the paper at a meeting with said publisher.

    “We don’t do endorsements, not for nobody” was the watch-word given, and i helpfully reminded him it wouldn’t hurt to read my copy before he pasted it into Quark, to which he replied “I shouldn’t have to do that with you, Jeff.”

    Sigh. Would you believe that paper no longer exists? Sure, sure you would.

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  12. Gasman said on July 31, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I hope you continue to recover from your backdoor invasion. I am right behind you – as it were; I’ll be in line in a couple of years for the same abuse.

    I nearly coughed up my spleen laughing at the dunking videos. If any of the younger ones actually survive into adulthood they have definite futures in politics.

    Where can I get my subscription to Grain ‘n Shit Weekly? Sounds like they maintain higher journalistic standards than the Grosse Pointe News. Maybe the GPN could find a spot for Tim Goeglein, him being unemployed and all and a bona fide journalist ta’ boot. It would seem to be fated by the gods: that whiny little turd lands a gig at your very own local paper. I’m sure you miss his wondrous prose. Kind of like a weekly printed version of your recent procedure.

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  13. LAMary said on July 31, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    I bet the guy on the bus was snoring and had bad breath.

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  14. brian stouder said on July 31, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    A one-uh and a two-uh…

    The head on the bus goes ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round, ’round and ’round;

    The head on the bus goes ’round and ’round; All through the town!


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  15. nancy said on July 31, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Looks like that famous Canadian health-care system has some work to do on its mental-health component. Although, as Mary implies, bus travel can do that to a man.

    I’d be more prone to credit the no-controversy rule, Jeff, if there was more evidence for it. But the publisher seems to be deploying the time-honored ink-by-the-barrel strategy when it strikes his fancy — JohnC pointed out a case not long ago where the Farms city government was singled out for abuse over a long-running reassessment battle with a local country club within its boundaries, and guess which local publisher is a member?

    Plus, the ed page is seemingly given over to anyone. A few weeks ago they ran an main-bar editorial by the head of one of these border-security outfits, bitching about the suspension of National Guard backup on the Arizona/California/Mexico border. Which would be more defensible if there were a paragraph, a sentence tying this to Michigan, seeing as how four of these five municipalities back right up to the water, across which is another foreign country, y’know? But it’s more like, “This’ll work. Run it.”

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  16. Danny said on July 31, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Brian, somewhere in hell, a demon just got his pitch fork. {snicker}

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  17. Danny said on July 31, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Well, Nance, I’ve had a few more days to explore and saturate myself with the Cranberries back catalogue. So far, I’ve gotten their first two CD’s and a DVD of their live performance in London in 1994.

    Watching the DVD concert, I was floored. They are such a good live band. And Dolores O’Riordan…man. She was just 22-years old at that point and she had such stage presence. She is a pure genius. It’s one thing to have a great voice and another to do what she does with it, but then you combine that with the emotional depth of her song-writing and performing abilities. Wow.

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  18. brian stouder said on July 31, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Danny, at lunch I told Pam about a story I’d just read, about the kiddo playing near a retention pond in his housing addition in Slidell, LA (near New Orleans) who was attacked by a ‘gator…and lost an arm. But the police shot the gator and retrieved his intact (more or less) arm…and it wasn’t clear if it could be re-attached.

    After the disgusted look I got from her on that one, I skipped the one about the Canadian who lost his head on a Greyhound

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  19. John said on July 31, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Wasn’t Slidell the old stomping grounds of Jimmy “Poopy Pants” Swaggart?

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  20. derwood said on July 31, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I thought everyone in Canada was nice?

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  21. Gasman said on July 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I remember Slidell LA quite well. Reddest necks of anywhere I’ve been down south. I very nearly spent a night in their jail whilst I was clad in Lycra bike shorts. A VERY long story. It may well have been Jimmy’s place of bidness. His presence there would would be oh so appropriate and explain much.

    I will personally vouch for the virtue of Canadians: I married one. However, before casting aspersions on our fine neighbors to the north inhabiting the Land of Ice and Snow, consider this: the executioner on the bus was probably American.

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  22. Danny said on July 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    ..consider this: the executioner on the bus was probably American….

    Umm, yeah. You’re probably thinking President Bush or Karl Rove, but I presume you have eliminated Tony Snow as a “person of interest” in your line of reasoning?

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  23. Dexter said on July 31, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    “Support the incumbent.” I live in Ohio’s 5th. Paul Gillmor died a while ago and now we have a new Congressman, Bob Latta.
    This is Republican country, the local newspapers lean right…of course there simply is no muckraking radio, so election after election Gillmor was elected overwhelmingly. Then he suddenly died, and the truth came out. I know this stuff is boring for all who don’t live in “The Fighting Fifth”, so I will just site two examples of what a phony Gillmor was.
    He was, by law, required to have residence in the Fifth. He claimed the little townshp where he was born, but he actually lived in a mansion on a golf course in Columbus, far from his native Northwest Ohio.
    Then there was the car. He kept a beat-up old Ford Contour, as I recall, parked in the home district. He would drive this around to town hall meetings and the like so the struggling natives would see he was a “man of the people”.Then he would park the hoopdee and get back to Columbus via executive jet or limo, to his golf course, his luxury cars, and his high life.

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  24. Connie said on July 31, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Slidell is not only the original home town of Swaggart but also his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis.

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  25. LAMary said on July 31, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I am on the world’s dullest conference call right now. I nearly fell asleep on my desk a few minutes ago but jerked awake.

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  26. deb said on July 31, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    hey, thanks for the grain ‘n’ shit weekly shout-out. and here i thought everyone had forgotten.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Nance — country clubs aren’t controversial! Didn’t you get the memo?

    (I was just writing up a service contract yesterday for some at-risk kids, with a woman whose ex is a member of the local country club…the one with the long-term lease on 2,000 year old mounds…and she suddenly looked up at me and said “are you the Jeff with the folks who are working for more public access to the earthworks?” Saying “yep, c’est moi,” she told me “boy, do they hate you over there.” Nope, country clubs are quiet and friendly places where all with membership are welcome.)

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  28. caliban said on July 31, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    <a One of the things I do everyday when I get up is to check the Bartleby word page. I’ve no idea who’s responsible these days, but when I first encountered it, when I found you could open a browser and several search engines, I thought it was amazing. I went immediately to newspapers, because I’d spent my undergrad years reading legendary papers . Now it doesn’t matter because you’ve got Dana Milbanks whoring?

    I was stunned that it was a product of Matt Drudge’s old man. You know who it was named after, and as far as I know, the scribbler still refuses to take part or to take responsibility. This is spectacular irony. Like John kerry saying that terr was something for police. He did say that, and the Rand folks said so. Right? Do Tom Ridge was a patsy/buffon and everything the misadministrtioon was a boondoggle, and people that fell for that Swift-Boat shit were idiots.

    Bartleby is a wonder and what I think is an attitude adjuster before diving into the alimentary tubes of the mysterious internets. The half-gainer is called a reverse dive and involves leaving a 17 ft. Duraflex board front ways and directing your body back toward the end of the board., which 99.44% of humankind wouldn’t have the wherewithal to try, and they shouldn’t try it, and every competitive diver hates. It’s a required dive; foreward, back, inward, reverse. Some meets, you don’t have to even try it.

    In diving, you try to take the dive straight up and straight down. IgCogonoscenti know that vertical and no splash are de rigeur. You come up straight of the end of the board with maximum force and do the dive in the air. And then you stop your movement. You do it all at the apex of your physical projection of the board. Rudimentary physics would indicate this isn’t possible, but I’ve missed kids diving off the side when I was in the late stages of a double-twister two-and-a-half off a three-meter. It hurt.

    Meantime, you live in the land of propagandists. I personally don’t see anything Hitlerian. Subborning and purloining the Constitution and the only international treaties that ever made men look like more than acquisitive hominids, what’s that compared to the legal brilliance of John Woo?

    So anyway, when I greeted the day, after my companion, who believes it’s just the two of us in the long run, and we’re getting on old, there must be a baby, I was confronted with some WWI apologist that sounded like the damnation of the neocons.

    The Bartleby poem of the day for today:
    The entire collection (did you know about Google books?):
    If you look at even just the T of C, it’s pretty obvious this was meant as anti-German propaganda, which I guess makes it worse that it fits the NACenturions so well. Click on the Sir Owen Seaman entry. I think Wilfred Owen had a specific jingoist ahole in mind.

    Regarding drilling:

    “There are some instances [that] within a matter of months they could be getting additional oil. In some cases, it would be a matter of a year. In some cases it could take longer than that, depending on the location and whether you use existing rigs or you have to install new rigs, but there’s abundant resources in the view of the people who are in the business that could be exploited within a period of months.”

    Drilling to affect gas prices is a flatout lie. Maybe a nickel a gallon 15 years out. This is a fact. How is anybody in a better situation by lying about this? Anybody with a brain knows this. With regard to McCain’s campaign, I’d like to ask a question. On the issues, in which case has he told the truth? Regarding his opponent, in which case has he even considered the truth?

    It’s not purely political, and I’ve been an asshole, but, but economically, the most important thing is health care. Hillary knows this hands down. ObamaHas a clue. McCain, he thinks everybody get’s his coverage. He’s a health Care elitist and he’s been absent whenever this subject has come to the Senate. He’s a lying snake. His laughter is exceptionally innapropriate.

    This war hero business makes me think of Poppy bailing.

    Aside from all of that, McCain is acting like the most constipated idiot the world has ever seen And the most connected with Rove. Lee Atwater made a death-bed confession.

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  29. coozledad said on July 31, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I hear you, Caliban.
    Just lurking today. I’ve finally become allergic to poison ivy and I’m one miserable bastard. I used to laugh at people who were afflicted by it. My little hell is well deserved.

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  30. Linda said on July 31, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Dexter, the issue of Gilmore’s residence and how ridiculous a sham it was has been covered by the Toledo Blade, but the true blue Republicans of the fifth have said la-la-la with their hands over their ears for years. The way goofy part was that his wife was a state senator living in yet another district. They had more legal residences than a tribe of nomads.

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  31. brian stouder said on July 31, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    They had more legal residences than a tribe of nomads.

    Reminds me of a joke my dad repeated often, about the ancient nomadic tribe known as the Fukowis.

    Every evening, after a full day of wandering through the wilderness, they would ascend to the top of the tallest hill at hand, and look all around, and then say “where the Fukowi?”

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Ah, Gladstone stood for Midlothian . . . (yeah, Google it, you know you want to).

    I do wonder if geographic representation will be replaced someday in the not too far future with something like what Heinlein described in “Double Star.” “The honorable member for trucking interests,” or “i grant the balance of my time to the representative of secondary teachers in the eastern states.” With hypermobility and rootlessness, do we serve the public interest best through purely geographic definitions, and lots of reps (and don’t even look at senators) “resident” in two-room walkups they couldn’t find without an aide and Googlemaps on their BlackBerry, with their palatial home in a Virginia ex-urb that they have almost completed the mortgage on.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 31, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Can i put this up here, just to show that us’ns McCainiacs have a sense of humor about ourselves?


    (just remember the Hare and the Tortoise, y’all…)

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  34. caliban said on July 31, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Bd for the Graasse. What the hell is wrong with you?Havw noxkuw

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  35. caliban said on July 31, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Trrying to out somebocy

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  36. caliban said on July 31, 2008 at 9:55 pm


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  37. caliban said on July 31, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    mjdawg, mjdawd

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  38. caliban said on July 31, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    mjdawg, mjdawg

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  39. basset said on July 31, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Connie, you’re thinking of Ferriday, Louisiana, not Slidell. Ferriday’s right across the river from Natchez, Mississippi; Slidell’s down near N’Awlins, not real far from Metairie, where Jimmy Swaggart did some of the stuff that got him in trouble.

    Ferriday is not only the home of Jimmy and his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis; their other cousin Mickey Gilley’s from there too, along with Howard K. Smith, who’s no relation that I know of.

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  40. Hattie said on August 1, 2008 at 1:51 am

    The worst troll I ever had was a Canadian. Death threats and everything.

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  41. Dorothy said on August 1, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I thought everybody was related to everyone else in Ferriday.

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  42. Kirk said on August 1, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Didn’t make it here yesterday, but thank you so much for the 20 ways to die dunking a basketball. The idiot on the trampoline is priceless.

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  43. nancy said on August 1, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Is that the guy who puts a foot through the hoop? I had to look away. I was thinking of spiral fractures and two weeks in Fiji for a lucky orthopedist.

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  44. Kirk said on August 1, 2008 at 9:53 am

    That’s him. Looks like he could have ripped his leg out of the socket. As soon as the tape starts and you see three guys bouncing on a trampoline, one with a basketball, you know it has to end badly.

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  45. LAMary said on August 1, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I used to know some people from Rayne (Raine maybe?) Louisiana who swore everyone in that town was related. Ron Guidry was from there. I think everyone in town was either a Guidry or a Lejier.

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  46. brian stouder said on August 1, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Leaving aside the Guidrys and the Leijers (there’s gotta be a joke there!), it turns out that the Slidell gator was named, too!


    an excerpt

    An enormous alligator, dubbed “Big Joe” by residents, attacked Funck, biting off his arm at the shoulder and sparking a scramble to save the boy’s life. Funck and two friends from Slidell, Louisiana, about 20 miles northeast of New Orleans, had trudged half a mile to a small pond called Crystal Lake for a swim Wednesday afternoon. The towels, toys and other gear that still dotted the beach Thursday testified to the spot’s popularity with area kids.

    “It’s an ideal pond to swim in, clean, beautiful,” said Howard McCrea, 61, the St. Tammany Parish deputy and nuisance alligator hunter who caught the animal that attacked Funck. “But it’s kind of a hike to get to it, and there is no supervision there.” People living in the area know about the alligators that swim in the three small lakes and waterways around their houses. They especially knew about Big Joe, the 11-foot-long, 500-pound gator that swam in Crystal Lake. But, they weren’t especially worried — alligator attacks in Louisiana are rare and usually the injuries are not serious. Only 13 fatalities were recorded nationally since 2000, and none was in Louisiana.

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  47. Linda said on August 1, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Mild Mannered Jeff, in a sense we already have that representation. Chris Dodd from Connecticut is, on many issues, really a rep for the insurance industries based there. John Dingell is a rep for the big three.

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  48. Linda said on August 2, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Re: Alligator attack. Real life imitates a Jerry Reed song, “Amos Moses:”

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  49. beb said on August 3, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    moe99 says:
    July 31st, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Nancy, can you comment on the proposed court reform plan in Michigan? I realize the Nat’l Review is right wing and have no idea about what the Mackinac policy center is, but I have no idea if this is fact or opinion.

    The Mackinac Institute is well to the right of the National Review.

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