What the market wants.

I’ll say this for living in America’s most-loathed city (suck it, New York! we rool!) — local-media coverage of the auto-industry crisis is a cut above. You can’t really feed slogans and warmed-over talk radio calls to an informed audience, and so we’re spared “but if they’d only make cars people want, none of this would be happening.” For the most part.

My favorite of these is: America doesn’t want SUVs. Ha. Now they don’t. They don’t want them when gas is $4 a gallon. But until gas got that high, they wanted lots of them. Did everyone sleep through the ’90s and the first half of this decade? People not only wanted SUVs, they wanted them in all sizes, shapes and colors. They wanted big ones (Suburbans). They wanted little ones (Escapes). They wanted their Japanese brands tricked out to look more SUV-like (hello, Honda CRX). They wanted fancy-schmancy luxury SUVs (Escalade, Navigator). They wanted cheap ones for the entry-level market (Hyundai, Kia). Did O.J. Simpson flee in an Accord? I must have missed that.

Even now, they still want so-called crossovers, SUVs that drive and handle more like cars — Buick Enclave, Ford Edge, etc. You can pick many, many fights with the U.S. auto industry and make many, many good arguments against the government helping them, but you can’t change the facts to suit your prejudices, and the fact is, the Big Three invented the SUV, and for a very long time, the SUV was very, very good to the Big Three. So please shut up about that.

(On some right-wing blog I can’t remember, I heard the most stupido argument of all: The companies didn’t want to make SUVs, but were forced to by their onerous UAW contracts, which required them to make the highest-profit-margin vehicles possible. These people really live in their own fantasy world. I don’t want to wake them up. They’re like sleeping babies.)

Here’s the other thing you don’t hear so much here: Those greedy autoworkers. How dare they want stuff like health insurance and pensions. We really are crabs in a bucket, aren’t we? Again, go ahead and make informed remarks about certain work forces having to face the reality of higher co-pays and cost-sharing. But unless you’re willing to give up your own company-paid health insurance in solidarity, kindly shut up about it. Non-union GM retirees lost their health-care bennies earlier this year — replaced by a whole $300/month subsidy to buy private insurance in that marvelous free market, and good luck with that if you’re a cancer survivor or have heart disease. Spare a kind thought for them, eh?

What we’re seeing in Detroit is the death of the well-paid working class, and if that makes you happy, go be happy about it. Asshole.

Anyway, speaking of cars nobody wants:

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Gleaming new Mercedes cars roll one by one out of a huge container ship here and onto a pier. Ordinarily the cars would be loaded on trucks within hours, destined for dealerships around the country. But these are not ordinary times.

For now, the port itself is the destination. Unwelcome by dealers and buyers, thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused on increasingly crowded port property.

And for the first time, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Nissan have each asked to lease space from the port for these orphan vehicles. They are turning dozens of acres of the nation’s second-largest container port into a parking lot, creating a vivid picture of a paralyzed auto business and an economy in peril.

But…but…people want Toyotas! How can this be happening?

It is more unusual to see a lot at the California port filled with thousands of unsold Mercedeses, most of them gathering dirt on the plastic white film that protects their hoods and trunks. Some appeared to have been stashed at the port for several months.

Last week, Mercedes delivered around 1,000 more cars to Long Beach on the Grus, a 580-foot container ship.

“A year ago, I was looking into buying one of these for my wife,” said Kurt Garland, the terminal manager overseeing the unloading of the white, silver and black sports cars, sport utility vehicles and sedans. “Now I’m not. I’m saving money, paying bills, hunkering down.”

Oh, the poor economy is to blame. Not those Mercedes SUVs nobody wants.

(Yesterday I wrote on my Facebook status that I felt “amorphous anger.” I’m starting to see why.)

So let’s lighten up, a bit, shall we? I hope somewhere out there in the ranks of working screenwriters, someone is crafting a script about pirates, and not the ones in the Caribbean. If you can’t get a movie out of Somali hijackers, rocket-propelled grenades, hijacked Saudi oil tankers and the Indian Navy (!!!They have one??!!), you’re not worth your union dues. Or you’re just not reading the newspapers. (I heard on NPR the other day that all the coastal fishing villages in Somalia have become pirate dens, and that all the women want a pirate boyfriend. Well, duh.)

My Great Books discussion group meets in three hours, and I still have a few pages of the reading material to get through (“The Man Who Would Be King,” if you’re interested), so let’s wrap it up with just a bit of bloggage:

One of the reasons I sometimes curse Roy Edroso is, he got me hooked on reading Rod Dreher, and a more entertaining correspondent of Wingnuttia you will not find. What I like about him is his lack of filters; so much of what he writes seems to come directly from an id-well in his brain, and so you’ll sometimes see, in the space of 36 hours, a plea for us to be kinder to one another (“because we’re all carrying a great burden”) and then a denunciation of a bride who wants her wedding dress to show a special tattoo as a slut. It’s so amusing.

Anyway, lately he’s all het up about the Prop 8 backlash in California. “Gay mob assaults peaceful Christians,” he shrieked on Monday, embedding a video clip that showed the reaction when a group of Christians went into the Castro, the most famous gay neighborhood in the whole frickin’ country, to try to pray the gay away. Astonishingly, it wasn’t friendly. I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

The next day, he called for all of us to “stand by the Mormons,” because “a friend” tells him:

Things are pretty grim. On the ground pastors are worried, and for my Mormon friends it is very bad. No LDS person in their right mind who is not a man of courage would announce his church affiliation without knowing it to be safe.

Safe? From what? Disapproval? An argument? I must have missed the invasion of Salt Lake City by the drag-queen army. Even his Beliefnet commenters were unimpressed:

Yeah, it’s like Darfur out there what with all the pogroms and midnight roundups and mass executions of the Mormons out there.

Oh, well. On to Rudyard Kipling. I’m calling it the white woman’s burden.

Posted at 9:45 am in Current events, Detroit life, Movies, Popculch |

93 responses to “What the market wants.”

  1. coozledad said on November 19, 2008 at 10:17 am

    It’s just side-splitting that the holier-than-thous believed they were the broad political consensus, and that pissing on their neighbors would be met with approval. Now it turns out that everybody dislikes them more than anyone else, and they’re losing money to boot.

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  2. Jason T. said on November 19, 2008 at 10:21 am

    The funniest part of this mess (OK, not ha-ha funny, more like wry, cynical funny) to this native of the former “Steel Valley” has been listening to economists explain how this is a good thing for Detroit.

    “Look at Pittsburgh,” they say, “the steel industry collapsed and they reinvented themselves as a high-tech hub!”

    Oh, yeah, Nance, we’re wipin’ our rears with $50 bills down here, let me tell you:


    In what world do these people live?

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  3. Randy said on November 19, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Pre-child, I scoffed at all the minivans filling the parking lots. Then we had a child, then we bought one. We had such flimsy reasoning too – oh it’s good for hauling big things from the store, it’s so much easier to load the kid into a van, you get to ride so nice and high in traffic… blergh.

    Now that it’s paid for, we don’t want to buy a more fuel efficient car (and take on the payments) until the van stops running. So we carry on, getting about 18 mpg. True stewards of environment, us.

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  4. brian stouder said on November 19, 2008 at 10:26 am

    The Somali pirates (move over Dorothy – these guys are having a better season than your Pirates did!) IS a bizarre sign of the times,eh? It almost begs the question – what the hell is President Bush doing, these days?

    The Marine Corps song alludes to the ‘shores of Tripoli’ – and one wonders, when did we set aside “millions for defense, and not one penny for tribute”?

    Or in other words – although it is tempting to think that THIS must surely be rock-assed bottom (economic crash, protracted war, video from al Zawahiri talking smack about our president-elect, and unchecked piracy on the high seas), with W in office for 2 more months, who the hell knows?

    But enough of that. For 5 bonus points, what definitive event occurred on this day 145 years ago (east of that tech-Mecca, Pittsburgh), despite the belief that the world would take little note of it?

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  5. nancy said on November 19, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Too easy, Brian. You “jeopardized” the question, and I didn’t even have to think about it.

    Speaking of which, whenever we watch a game show, I try to teach Kate to look for the clue in the question. It’s so much easier to appear smarter than one really is.

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  6. Julie Robinson said on November 19, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Just as a distraction from the overall glumness: has anyone appeared on a game show, or even been on a quiz bowl team in high school or college? Our school’s team came from the ranks of the National Honor Society but we found that good grades do not make for good contestants. Prime example was yours truly, who never made it on the team itself, due to an unfortunate tendency to analyze the questions at s-l-o-w speed. (But I was great at spelling bees!) I’m thinking that the pressure ramps up exponentially at each level.

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  7. brian stouder said on November 19, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Gotta love Jeopardy! Whenever the Daily Double pops up, the tradition is that I blurt out “BET IT ALL!” (if I was ever on the show, I’d hafta do that – even if involuntarily)

    Wouldn’t it be fun to be one of the writers at Jeopardy?

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  8. Jeff Borden said on November 19, 2008 at 10:58 am

    What’s the difference between a Wall Street investment banker and a pigeon? The bird can stilll make a deposit on a new Mercedes.

    I’m here all week. Try the veal.

    The hooey about Detroit automakers not serving the public is funny stuff. As one who grew up when horsepower ruled –our plain Jane four-door Cutlass was powered by a four-barrel, 350-cubic-inch V-8 that would smoke the tires if you hit the accelerator too hard– the love by my fellow Boomers of the huge land yachts is not hard to understand. What did puzzle me, though, was the butt ugliness of most SUVs. At least the big cars we drove in the `60s and `70s were sleek, stylish, racy looking. Nonetheless, the Big Three were responding to the market. I recall a Hummer dealer after 9/11 saying that driving one of those fat pigmobiles was like “driving an American flag.”

    The Japanese and European automakers are equally capable of building large, wildly inefficient automobiles. One of the guys I play poker with drives a huge Mercedes with a V-12 engine. Top of the line Lexus, Acura, Infiniti vehicles get terrible gas mileage.

    Where Detroit is at a disadvantage, I think, is at the other end. The Euro and Japanese manufacturers also offer a lot of very tiny, very efficient vehicles for world markets. It’s no coincidence that when gas crested $3 per gallon, the Fit, Versa and Yaris were ready to roll out in the States. Imagine if GM, Ford or Chrysler had a well-made, peppy, four-cylinder car in the showrooms. They also would’ve cashed in.

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  9. Jolene said on November 19, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Speaking of quiz shows and other timewasters, have you all checked out the puppycam lately? Those little guys are getting pretty big.

    Julie, I was a spelling bee champ, too. Too bad there isn’t more of a market for that talent in the grown-up world.

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  10. del said on November 19, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Best Jeopardy moment: Cliff Claven on Cheers “correctly” identifying the clue as “Three people who have never been in my living room, Alex.”

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  11. Jolene said on November 19, 2008 at 11:40 am

    For more talk re automaker bailouts, see Stephen Pearlstein’s column in today’s Post and the related web chat taking place right now.

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  12. Dwight said on November 19, 2008 at 11:41 am

    “The companies didn’t want to make SUVs, but were forced to by their onerous UAW contracts, which required them to make the highest-profit-margin vehicles possible. These people really live in their own fantasy world.”

    Well, at least today you buried your patented strawman lede.

    “These dumbasses believe this crazy stuff: A, B, C.

    Uh, yeah. And this point is wrong becauuuuuuse? Becauuuuuse? Hmph. Because Nancy doesn’t have a counter point, I guess.

    “Those greedy autoworkers. How dare they want stuff like health insurance and pensions.”

    The non-union autoworkers for Toyota get health insurance and pensions for about $30 less per labor hour.

    No, the greedy autoworkers want their membership forced to fund Democrat candidates. The greedy autoworkers want their union to pay a truckload of thugs to wait outside of non-union shops and follow non-union workers to their homes as an intimidation tactic. The greedy autoworkers want butt-pay, getting paid 70% of salary not to work while they wait 5 months for the next model change-over.

    But mostly the greedy autoworkers want to be paid more than an anesthesiologist for bolting on lug nuts… merely because they’ve been bolting on those lug nuts for thirty years.

    How’s that business model workin’ out for you, Detroit?

    If you were a car exec and you could move your plant to Janesville, WI for 10 million to get away from the unions, and then have labor for 70% of what you are paying now…

    OR you could just keep going and move the plant to South Korea for 20 million and have a labor pool that cost 20% of what you’re paying now…

    Which are you going to choose?

    I have no doubt those folks work hard. But it’s a GLOBAL frickin’ economy now. That genie is not going back in the bottle. The unions are shooting themselves in the foot. Like most liberals, they have no concept of short-term-pain-for-long-term-gain.

    They are going to continue to negotiate themselves right out of a job and hurt my nation’s economy as they do so.

    As mamma used to say, “Rave on catshit. Some one will step in ya’ soon ’nuff.”

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  13. del said on November 19, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Here’s the link, I think.


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  14. LA Mary said on November 19, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I’ve been on Jeopardy and was on the first American episode of The Weakest Link.
    Putting so much money in the SUV market was still stupid, sorry. Note the foreign car companies did not push the whole pile of chips onto SUVs, even if they made them. While there were Toyota Seqouias, Priuses were being developed.

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  15. Dwight said on November 19, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Oh, and there’s plenty of WTF to spread around the conference rooms of the Big Three headquarters, too.

    It isn’t all union-insanity, but the union-insanity sure doesn’t help.

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  16. Rana said on November 19, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve now got the “Canyonero” song from the Simpsons running through my head!

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  17. Julie Robinson said on November 19, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    ABC is reporting that the big 3 automakers flew to Washington to plead their poverty cases in private luxury jets. And that Ford’s CEO actually lives in Seattle, and as part of his contract, gets the private jet for his weekly commute. Here’s the link: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/WallStreet/Story?id=6285739&page=1 Cue the outrage.

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  18. beb said on November 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I never could understand how the guy singing “Canyonero” could say ‘deer-smacking, squirrel crushing….” without getting his tongue all tied up. I can’t even say it slowly without getting messed up.

    The other thing that gets me is how the description of the Canyonero (65 tons of American pride) sounds like an description of Abrams tank (unexplained fires are a matter for the courts)

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  19. Jeff Borden said on November 19, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    True story of Jeopardy and a question for you movie buffs:

    My buddy the movie critic from the Charlotte Observer made it onto Jeopardy and was in a very, very tight duel with a history teacher from St. Louis. My buddy, Lawrence Toppman, was $200 behind when Final Jeopardy came up and, to his delight, the category was The Oscars.

    The question was this: Two Broadway productions made into feature films have had their entire casts nominated for Academy Awards. Name one.

    I’ll share the answer later.

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  20. Jolene said on November 19, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Wild guess (w/ no googling): Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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  21. Jen said on November 19, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I was in Academic Super Bowl in middle school, and my sister was in it in middle school and high school. Basically, there are teams in different subjects – the math team, the social studies team, the fine arts team, the science team, etc. – that answer a certain number of questions in the category. The moderator asks the question, then everyone confers and comes up with the right answer. They write it down and display it on a piece of paper, and get a point if it’s right. Each season, there is a different subject. When I was in it, I think one year was post-Imperial China or something (I remember learning a lot about Sun Yat-Sen that year).

    It was fun when I was in it, though I didn’t have time to do it in high school (I was a band geek). My sister loved it, though, and even watched her compete at Academic Super Bowl state finals one year at Purdue. I went to watch it, and it is THE most boring thing to watch. My wonderful, supportive parents used to go, however. Their primary entertainment was comparing which schools had the best popcorn.

    I am a HUGE fan of Jeopardy, though I rarely get to watch it anymore because I’m always working. I’ve always thought it would be fun to get on the show, but never tried. Maybe I should.

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  22. Danny said on November 19, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Mitt Romney has an op-ed in the NYT today regarding the auto industry. It was worth a read, but comes out of the gate suggesting that pay, health benies and pensions must be reduced without really suggesting how this could happen or what the bottomline would be for thousands of households. Short of the government taking up the slack as is the case in other countries, I can’t see a solution. Higher trade tariffs? Along with the fact that this gets passed directly to the American consumer, the domestic manufacture of foriegn cars clouds this issue.

    The one point I liked was the mention of emnity between union and management being a major impediment to getting everyone “rowing” in the same direction. In general, it seems like a good idea to have part of everyone’s pay and benefits tied to the performance of the company with a higher percentage of the at-risk pay for the more highly compensated folks. It gives one a stake and keeps everyone’s eye on the prize.

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  23. Jeff Borden said on November 19, 2008 at 12:37 pm


    Excellent guess, but no. You are closer than you think. The key wording in the question is “entire cast.” You chose a play/film with a very small cast, so you’re on the right track.

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  24. LA Mary said on November 19, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    The Odd Couple? Cabaret?

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  25. Jolene said on November 19, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Yes, I was thinking “movies w/ small casts” when I guessed, but that’s turning out to be a small category in my little brain.

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  26. Peter said on November 19, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Not to brag too much, but I was on my high school academic team and also was on IIT’s College Bowl team, where we beat Northwestern and Michigan (on CBS radio no less) before we got the snot kicked out of us by Wisconsin.

    The only way you win those games is to have someone who knows a crapload of trivia and has an itchy trigger finger. That’s especially helpful in college, as you can have one grad student on your team, and most large colleges have a professional student who’s on a 20 year plan to get a degree.

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  27. paddyo' said on November 19, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    A non-Detroit’er weighing in here. Nancy, your anger is well-placed, and I agree totally that the autoworkers are getting the bummest rap. But there are times when the auto-industry debate feels more like a chicken-and-egg thing.

    Is it that Americans really WANT these gas-guzzling SUV’s, et al., or is it that the vehicles are their ONLY option when seeking the 21st-century equivalent of those old station wagons that my parents relied on to get our big honking Irish Catholic brood (seven kids) from here to there? (Ford Country Squire, circa 1963 or ’64, nine-passenger — although that “way-back” back seat was more like a two-seater than a 3- . . . )

    I’m with LA Mary on the dumbass pile-of-chips-ALL-IN “strategy” of Detroit with SUVs vs. what the foreign automakers have been doing all along. And don’t get me started on pickups, the moron-car-purchase of the century for entirely too many folks whose pickup beds will never haul anything more than a gym bag . . .
    But hey, ain’t that America?! I’ll also plead guilty to never having owned a U.S. make automobile, from my first — a $200 1959 Morris Minor — to the VW Beetle, a couple of Subarus, and my faithful 10-year-old Honda Civic with 120,000 miles and zero troubles.
    Sorry to ramble. Maybe I/we’ve put too much faith in the popular culture notion that “American ingenuity” solves everything. I just don’t get why the fuel efficiency thing hasn’t been solved yet, or at least hasn’t moved farther downfield, to use the football image. One view is that Detroit has resisted for ages and still doesn’t get it. The other is, it’s just not attainable unless we junk the long-held American notion of what and how big a family vehicle is supposed to be/look like.
    Whatever the case, the alleged brain trusts at the top in Detroit have blown it, and dragged a city, a workforce and a culture along with them. It looks like a slo-mo Katrina, minus the floodwaters.

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  28. moe99 said on November 19, 2008 at 1:10 pm


    these car execs are not helping their case

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  29. Jeff Borden said on November 19, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Attention, movie buffs. Here’s the answer to the Jeopardy question, which all three contestants missed. My pal and the third contestant finished with zero dollars. The guy in the lead wisely kept $200, so he won.

    The answer to the question: “Give `Em Hell, Harry,” which was a one-man show starring James Whitmore, and “Sleuth,” a two-man show starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

    Thanks for playing.

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  30. LA Mary said on November 19, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Pick ups were a cheaper form of transportation for years because they did not have to meet auto safety standards. Much cheaper to build.
    Thug Jr. Republican across the aisle from me here is blaming the whole thing on the unions, but he’s a big fan of large stupid vehicles. He just bought a big new truck to haul around his toys. ATVs, offroading motorcycles, that sort of thing. He drives a truck that is too tall to fit into the parking structure.

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  31. David H said on November 19, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    What is “Sleuth”?

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  32. whitebeard said on November 19, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    You are right, Nancy, automakers build what consumers want, or try to in any event. But it helps if you have a wide array of choices so you can cope with the need for smaller vehicles when there is a downturn.
    It wasn’t the auto industry that caused the global financial collapse; it was the people who don’t drive cars but are driven to work at the investment banks in a limousine and could play with our money in the back seat.
    Investing used to be putting money into a company you wanted to thrive, not gambling with oil futures, short selling, credit default swaps and other Ponzi schemes.
    Back again to autos, I am going to speak to a group of fans (I hope) at an out-of-town library Thursday night and I know somebody is going to ask if GM or Chrysler should be left to plunge into bankruptcy. (obviously I think Ford has a better chance of surviving) or get a government bailout.
    I think all three should get a bailout with strict conditions on building more fuel-efficient vehicles, eliminating dividends (until they recover), closing unproductive
    factories, and halting bonuses for the people who do not get their hands dirty from actually building cars.

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  33. David H said on November 19, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Rats… I was in moderation… I really did post before I saw the answer 🙂

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  34. Danny said on November 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Speaking of screenwriting, anyone have a guess as to what year the next season of Mad Men will be set in?

    The first season was in 1960 and the second was in 1962. This slight fast forward allowed the writers, among other things, to keep the the Peggy Olson storyline progressing in a very compelling way. A vastly more mature Peggy with the extended absense being covered in flashback was brilliant. And it still promises more dividends because there remains some very interesting backstory to address regarding what all went into Pegs rescue from the mental hospital. And the 2-year time bump didn’t make the audience miss the true start of the ’60’s with the beginning of the civil rights movement and the Cuban missle crisis.

    The looming, historic, 800-pound gorilla is the Kennedy assassination. Will it be covered “in-situ” or from a 1964 or 1965 retrospective. I really can’t see the latter working. It’s way too important. I mean, everyone “remembers where they were” when Kennedy got shot. Even me, and I was in the womb!

    And perish the thought of say skipping directly to the summer of love, 1967, with all of our favorite characters suddenly arrayed in bell bottoms an tie-dye. Yeeck! Groovy NOT!

    So my bet is the next season will be set in 1963.

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  35. Rosie said on November 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Nancy, I’m always interested in your take on Detroit, never having been there myself. Now the Independent (a UK paper) has sent a reporter there – and his conclusions are fairly lurid. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/motor-city-from-motown-to-nohope-town-1024597.html

    How accurate would you say his descriptions are?

    Wishing you well from England.

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  36. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 19, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    H/T Garrison Keillor, and Brian —

    It was on this day in 1863 that Abraham Lincoln got up in front of about 15,000 people and delivered the Gettysburg Address, which begins, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

    It was a foggy, cold morning on this day in 1863. Lincoln arrived at the new national cemetery in Gettysburg at about 10 a.m. Around noon, the sun broke out as the crowds gathered on a hill overlooking the battlefield. A military band played, a local preacher offered a long prayer, and the headlining orator, Edward Everett, spoke for more than two hours. When Everett was finished, Lincoln got up and pulled his speech from his coat pocket. It consisted of 10 sentences, a total of 272 words. The audience was distracted by a photographer setting up his camera, and by the time Lincoln had finished his speech and sat down the audience didn’t even realize he had spoken.

    The scholar Garry Wills recently published a 320-page book on Lincoln’s 272-word speech, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (2006). In it, Wills draws parallels between the Gettysburg Address and a funeral oration that Pericles gave during the Peloponnesian War. Pericles’ Funeral Oration starts: “I shall begin with our ancestors,” and it continues, “Thus choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from dishonour, but met danger face to face.”

    Scholars argue over the inspiration for Lincoln’s last line, “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Lincoln owned a collection of sermons by the minister Theodore Parker, who said, “Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all the people.” Other historians think that Lincoln got the idea from a speech by Daniel Webster, who said that the federal government was “made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people.”

    There are five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address. The earliest version is the copy he gave to his private secretary, John Nicolay, and it’s thought to be the version he used for the oration at Gettysburg. It is two pages long — the first page is in ink on official Executive Mansion stationary, and the second is in pencil on lined paper. This version doesn’t contain the words “under God” in the phrase “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom.”

    Lincoln made one other copy at the time, which he gave to his other private secretary, John Hay, and then he wrote out three more copies in later years one for a benefit book and two for the historian and former statesman George Bancroft. Lincoln had to copy out two because the first one was written out incorrectly — on both sides of the paper — and so wouldn’t go in Bancroft’s book. The second copy for Bancroft is the only one that Lincoln signed his name to. It’s the copy that has been reproduced on a widespread basis in books and photographs and leaflets, and it is considered the standard version of the speech.

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  37. brian stouder said on November 19, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Good stuff, Jeff. I enjoyed Wills’ book very much, years ago – and had the pleasure of gabbing with him a little, between sessions at the Lincoln Colloquium at Galesburg Illinois last month.

    Gabor Borritt’s marvelous book “The Gettysburg Gospel” is well worth reading, as he covers how the newspapers of the time dealt with the speech – and also how the small town of Gettysburg dealt with the huge influx of people to their town.

    The historiography of the speech is also fascinating. Short version: in the years immediately after the end of the war and Lincoln’s assassination, the Emancipation Proclmation was considered his singular legacy (in fact he himself said that the EP was the one thing that he would be remembered for – if he was remembered at all); statues of him in towns all across America had him holding the EP. But as the 19th century rolled to a close, and Reconstruction turned into Jim Crow, and the war became “the late unpleasantness” – the Gettysburg Address replaced the Emancipation Proclamation as the thing in Lincoln’s hand, in the statues (and in people’s conciousness)

    To me, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural beats absolutely everything; but the Gettysburg Address is unsurpassed in giving definition and purpose to the horrendous war then in progress.

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  38. LA Mary said on November 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    I’m wondering what terrible price Mormons are paying. I still see the Mormon missionaries bicycling around LA in their short sleeved white shirts and black pants. My kids call them Norman and Gorman Mormon.
    As for the Christians marching through the Castro, how did they think people would react?

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  39. coozledad said on November 19, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Mary: One thing they lost is their cherished “persecuted” status. Once you go on the offensive against minorities, even very stupid people are reluctant to see you as victims.
    A lot of folks are leaving the church.
    I’m on shaky ground here, but weren’t Mormons the patriarchal hippie new age free love cult of their day, just a few dune buggies and days without bathing shy of the Manson family?
    Maybe I need to read more.

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  40. Jeff Borden said on November 19, 2008 at 4:01 pm


    Most of what I know about the LDS I learned from two interesting books. “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer and another with a title I can’t recall, which dealt with murders connected to the so-called “Salamander letters,” which were purported to be explosive documents that would show the church in a very bad light.

    These books were crime stories, but dove pretty deeply into Mormonism and its rituals.

    More than a few observers have noted the similarities between the rites of Mormonism and the Masons, which LSD founder Joseph Smith Jr. had joined years earlier. And it differs from many faiths in articulating a view that what we accomplish and accumulate in this life we can carry to the next. In short, if you are rich on Earth, you’ll be rich in Heaven. There are talking lizards, God’s words written on sheets of gold, an angel named Moroni. . .which sounds pretty weird but no weirder than what many of us studied in the Old and New Testaments with burning bushes, parted seas, multiplying loaves and fishes, etc.

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  41. coozledad said on November 19, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks, Jeff. Under the Banner of Heaven is one of those books I’ve been planning to read for a few years now.

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  42. Gasman said on November 19, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    To the extent that they are mingling political activism with their religious doctrine, the LDS church should lose their tax exempt status. On top of their inappropriate advocacy of a specific political measure as church doctrine, they are openly advocating the denial of civil liberties to American citizens. I’m not sure how you square those two circles with either the constitution or the bible.

    If Joseph Smith had emerged in central Texas in 2008, he would be regarded more akin to Warren Jeffs or David Koresh rather than any biblical prophet.

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  43. Jolene said on November 19, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Have you seen what happened to the Dow today? Ay yi yi!

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  44. brian stouder said on November 19, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    It’s all Obama’s fault, y’know

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  45. Danny said on November 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    On top of their inappropriate advocacy of a specific political measure as church doctrine, they are openly advocating the denial of civil liberties to American citizens. I’m not sure how you square those two circles with either the constitution or the bible.

    They probably do this by first realizing that they are not seeking to deny civil liberties to any American citizens because a) civil unions provide all the same civil liberties, as even Sir Elton John realizes and b) everyone is still allowed to get married… to someone of the opposite sex.

    And they probably thought it’d okay with the advocacy of a specific measure because it happens a great deal in churches already. Like when Jesse Jackson goes to a church speak on political issues or candidates.

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  46. Jolene said on November 19, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    It’s all Obama’s fault, y’know

    So I’ve heard. Really.

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  47. LA Mary said on November 19, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    >>>e when Jesse Jackson goes to a church speak on political issues or candidates.<<<

    Or James Dobson, or Pat Robertson, or any of the Catholic priests who said they would refuse communion to anyone who voted for Obama.

    I’m still trying to figure out what allowing gays to marry each other takes away from straights. People who love each other and want to consecrate their commitment to each should be allowed to.

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  48. Jeff Borden said on November 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    LA Mary,

    I agree with Kinky Friedman, the mystery writer, songwriter, all around Texas goofball, who supports gay marriage. His reasoning?

    “I support gay marriage because I believe they have right to be just as miserable as the rest of us!”

    I read a comment recently from Jay Bakker, the son of the disgraced evangelist Jim Bakker, who has followed in his father’s footsteps and is now a chain-smoking punk rock evangelist. He says that maybe Christians ought to work on their own heterosexual marriages, since the divorce rate is roughly half, before they get so upset by gay marriage.

    This is going to be a non-issue in under 20 years. The generation coming up doesn’t freak out about gays. My 18-year-old nephews have been aware of and comfortable around gay classmates since their junior high days. The same can be said for those of other religions and races. In their high school class, three of the four class officers were non-whites and two were non-Christians. And this is a middle-class community in Ohio.

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  49. Dexter said on November 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Look out your windows, Detroiters! You can see 3 Gulf Stream private jets coming back from D.C., each containing one CEO and some flunkies.
    I guess jet-pooling doesn’t work. Man , has MSM and the blogosphere ever been blasting the big shots for not flying commercial instead of blowing 20 grand EACH on the Gulf Streams.
    Great column,Nance…especially the comments on the Honda CR-V.

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  50. alex said on November 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    civil unions provide all the same civil liberties

    Yes indeedy they do. In Britain and other enlightened parts of the world.

    Here in the Land of the Free, only a few states grant civil unions and none of the others recognize them.

    So Sir Elton prefers not to call his relationship a marriage. That’s his right, just as it’s mine to prefer not wearing a shitty looking rug on my head like he does.

    Regardless of what it’s called, marriage or union, we do not have equal rights in this country, Danny. Much to your delight, I’m sure.

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  51. Gasman said on November 19, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    A rose is a rose. How does your civil unions argument differ from the Jim Crow era argument of “separate but equal?” The Supreme Court found that such arguments to deny civil liberties on the basis of race to be unconstitutional. How will they ultimately not find the same in the case of civil unions in regards to the civil liberties of gays and lesbians? This is nothing more than an attempt to deny U.S. citizens their full rights under the constitution via semantics and the parsing of bigoted words.

    Your argument is inherently untenable. If indeed civil unions provide everything that marriage does, what is the point? Why not just allow same sex marriage and be done with it? Your very intransigent resistance to gay marriage is clear evidence that you do not recognize any real equivalency between the two.

    Marriage is a civil contract in this country. We allow religious ceremonies, but those are done in accordance to state laws. As long as it is a civil right, there can be no justification for denying to some simply because you do not approve.

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  52. Danny said on November 19, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Alex, in California, civil unions have all of the same rights and liberties. And since Prop 8 was specific to California, the people who are protesting it’s passing by complaining about inequality are lying. No rights have been taken away from anyone in California. Period.

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  53. moe99 said on November 19, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Danny you are so out to lunch on this. There are significant differences between marriage and civil unions:


    Here’s a snippet:

    What’s the Difference?
    The most significant difference between marriage and civil unions (or domestic partnerships) is that only marriage offers federal benefits and protections.

    According to the federal government’s General Accounting Office (GAO), more than 1,100 rights and protections are conferred to U.S. citizens upon marriage. Areas affected include Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits, health insurance, Medicaid, hospital visitation, estate taxes, retirement savings, pensions, family leave, and immigration law.

    Because same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and California, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not federally recognized, any benefits available at the state or local level are subject to federal taxation. For example, a woman whose health insurance covers her female partner must pay federal taxes on the total employer cost for that insurance.

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  54. Danny said on November 19, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    moe99, since we have a paucity of national political leaders who really want to do the right thing, it remains with the patchwork of states for the time being. Not my fault. And had Prop 8 failed, that would not have changed a thing. So your argument is faulty, as usual.

    Gasman, it differs because there is no separation. There are no gay-only or straight-only water fountains. Nor schools. Nor anything else.

    Marriage is a definition and a tradition that has not only cultural significance, but significance to our very humanity as it touches upon procreation and child-rearing and the future of all humankind. It touches upon how we are made what is best for the future success as a species. I am not in favor of courting disaster by doing great violence to the language and the culture to satisfy politically correct penchants.

    If liberties were being denied it would be different. As it stands now in California, no liberties are being denied. And, as I told moe99 above, since we don’t have national propositions that we can vote on or political leaders who really want to do the right thing, it remains with the patchwork of states for the time being.

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  55. coozledad said on November 19, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    By all means we have to protect the rights of straight relatives of queer couples to invalidate living wills, etc. After all, the right to property grabs is one enshrined in the constitution. One that’s built a hell of a lot of religious edifices, by the way.

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  56. LA Mary said on November 19, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Danny. The right to marry someone you love is denied.

    And that whole procreation thing doesn’t fly. Does this mean I can’t get married again someday because I’m past child bearing age? Can people unable to have children marry? Best for the future as a species? In what way? Because it doesn’t make some people uncomfortable?

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  57. alex said on November 19, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    And had Prop 8 failed, that would not have changed a thing. So your argument is faulty, as usual.

    Danny, you’re blustering as usual without having given the slightest consideration to what moe said. You think no one’s paying attention?

    What’s “equal” about the fact that my partner cannot leave me his military benefits, but if he were to marry a female illegal alien she’d be taken care of for the rest of her life? People “marry” illegals all the time, usually in exchange for $$. And you think gays cheapen marriage?

    You disappeared for a good long time when moe called you out on your “natural law” shit. She just outlawyered you again, so go pound sand already.

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  58. MichaelG said on November 19, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I still don’t understand what difference the issue of who gets married or doesn’t get married makes to anybody. Marriage as recognized by the state is a civil matter. Some may elect to celebrate their marriages with a religious ceremony, some may elect to go to city hall or to Vegas. I don’t know if the two nice gay ladies up the street are married or not. It’s none of my business. I still don’t understand how two gays getting married imperils anybody’s straight marriage. Why can’t religions content themselves with minding their own business? Why do they have to bother everybody else? This is the part of religion that drives me nuts. You can certainly hear the shrill screams when any religion feels it’s being impinged upon. Hypocrisy and self delusion are rampant here. People, freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. The right to not be bothered by religion is just as valid as the right to practice religion.

    The points Moe cites are very valid. I’ve heard too many horror stories about gay couples getting screwed because they’re not married. Jeff Borden is also right that this will all be moot in a few years.

    I still don’t get it. Why is it so necessary to meddle in other peoples’ lives? And yes, I’d be for revoking tax free status for Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims — any of them who abuse the privilege. Why should my taxes subsidize hate and intolerance?

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  59. coozledad said on November 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    A guy who played drums in my band was in the first wave of people claimed by the AIDS epidemic. He was a nurse, so he knew his estate would just go to his parents upon his death, despite the fact they’d disowned him and treated him like shit anyway. His response to his situation was, for all its apparent hopelessness, resourceful, to say the least. For one thing, he knew the hospitals were treating victims of the disease like lepers, because they were too freaked out to even collect blood samples without mangling him. They underprescribed pain-killers because they assumed gays just wanted to get high. He also knew from his deceased friends he had no say over the distribution of his estate. When he developed Kaposi’s, he took his gold card and began purchasing items that he could convert to cash to purchase China white heroin, for pain. Best pain management drug available, according to him. Bought a vintage Harley Davidson, nice wardrobe..
    By the time he died and his creepy ass folks showed up to collect, he had built up a crushing mountain of debt. One of my friends went to his funeral in San Francisco, and the parents weren’t there.

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  60. Joe Kobiela said on November 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    When it comes to corprate aviation it is unfortunate that the public perspective is slewed so bad. People think a corprate jet is a toy, it’s not, it’s a business tool just like a computor or a desk or a piece of equipment out on the shop floor. When I fly corprate people in both a King -Air and a Citation jet, our people our on board and working their laptops sending e-mail and holding meetings while airborn. Let me ask you a simple question, if you were paying a employee 2-3 hundred dollers a hour, why would you want them sitting in a airport for 2hr waiting on a flight, times that by 3 or 4 people and a corprate plane is only the way to go. It saves the company money in the long run. Now that being said, did the ceo’s of the big three need to go to Washington in a Gulf steam 5, no it could have been done in something smaller. Also remember this, Nancy Pelosi whined big time about having to fly in a Gulfsteam and demanded a 757, her excuse was they had to refuel when she was flown home to California. BULL, a G-5 would fly to California and most of the way back without stopping for fuel. Also don’t forget security concerns. Very important.
    Hope this helps.
    Pilot Joe

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  61. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 19, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Jeff B., i believe you’re talking about “A Gathering of Saints,” by Robert Lindsey on the Mark Hofmann “Salamander Murders.” Good true crime writing, and pretty fair on the Latter Day Saints.

    I do think that making the governmental side of things specifically “civil unions” and leaving “marriage” to various religious and liturgical bodies, separate from the contractual and tax implications, is what suits the country as a whole best.

    If “marriage” is to be made a governmental category, and that category imposed across religious boundaries, you’re going to see a hash-fight that John Belushi would back away from. The Dalai Lama, the Amish, let alone Southern Baptist pastors and clergy who think the SBC is too liberal will all refuse to be required to join parties they don’t chose to unite in a sacred covenant, which is how most religious traditions look at the word “marriage.”

    When the United Church of Christ or The Episcopal Church choose to unite same sex couples, to quote my betters, “it neither picks my pocket or breaks my leg.” And i will welcome, with open arms, no longer having the legal responsibilities that come with certifying a marriage certificate for the state. If i never say again “by the power invested in me by the state of Blank,” i will die a happy little pastor. But if i choose to say to Sam and Sara, let alone Dan and Dave —
    “i don’t think this ceremony should happen, or at least i’m not the one to conduct it,” i don’t want a civil rights commission second guessing me.

    Let the state certify civil unions as they will, and let religious bodies be as broad-minded or narrow-eyed as they wish . . . and the market will out, or [insert Acts 5: 38-39 here].

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  62. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 19, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    (Yes, i have chosen to not preside at weddings for couples that were heading for trainwreck-dom, in my opinion, and yes, they still got married, and yes, they were hetero. I’ve participated in blessing ceremonies for same sex couples who understood what they were getting into and were ready for commitment, again IMO. But it’s like the Scouting leadership thing — it looks simple until you get in the middle of it. Even if you’re hot to pull tax exempt status from churches — and i know many of you are — it still would create unbearable tensions, Constitution-wise, to force clergy to do certain kind of weddings they don’t believe they should perform. Better to de-link the whole thing. If civil society *has* to end up with custody of the word “marriage,” i don’t know where that one ends. Maybe churches go with “holy matrimony” and walk away from “marriage” then. But there has to be a, well, separation of church and state that makes sense to everyone on this subject.)

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  63. MichaelG said on November 19, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    As several folks have noted, marriage is a civil matter in this country. Nobody is suggesting that religions or clerics be required to marry anybody. To assert so is just more of the right wing BS cloud. I could give a rat’s ass if clerics elect to deny their services and the services of their religions to selected groups. That’s their right. What people are after is the right to get married at city hall with the whole list of 1100 things that Moe alluded to included so are all equal under the law. The world is not all about posters at nn.c and whom they piously feel may or may not be worthy of their attention. God will sort all that shit out later.

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  64. Rana said on November 19, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Yes. To flip the equation around the other way, separating civil marriage from religious marriage would not only involve not forcing narrow-minded churches to perform marriages of which they disapprove. It would also eliminate the current situation in which liberal churches are denied federal recognition of some of their marriages while more conservative churches are granted full recognition. (Not to mention the imposition of conservative religious values on atheists and agnostics.)

    This to me this is almost more egregious than conservative churches’ fears about “having” to recognize gay marriage (in law, if not at their altars) in that what we have is de facto government support for one form of religion, and those who do not follow that religion or who belong to other faith communities are not given equivalent support.

    Simply put, the refusal to recognize gay marriage at this point is a breach of the First Amendment, in that it provides government support and legal backing for some churches at the expense of others. Toss in the civil rights issue for gays and lesbians and it becomes very hard to justify this insistence that federal civil marriage must follow a specific, limited religious definition of marriage.

    I think that civil contracts should be the norm across the board, formed between two – or even several – consenting adults who want to form a legally recognized relationship. If churches wish to recognize or refuse to recognize those contracts spiritually, it’s up to them.

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  65. Suzi said on November 19, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Danny, you got this part right:
    “It touches upon how we are made.”
    Gays and lesbians are made that way, by God. Let them marry.

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  66. beb said on November 19, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Nancy Pelosi did not request any specific model of airplane to fly her back to California. That request was made by someone responsible for her security. Moreover, Pelosi is third in line to the Presidency so I think she deserves a plane in keeping with that status.

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  67. moe99 said on November 19, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Where’s our Thanksgiving recipe thread? I have one to add in the general spirit of this year:

    Turkey Dressing

    3 eggs
    1tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    3 cups washed popcorn (uncooked0
    1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
    1 cup diced celery
    garlic and salt to taste

    Mix ingredients well and stuff turkey. Bake at 350, until popcorn pops and blows the ass off the turkey.

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  68. Gasman said on November 19, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    In what possible way is gay marriage “courting disaster by doing great violence to the language and the culture?” That is the homophobic canard that you trot out to make it sound like you are doing something noble. It is precisely the same argument that racist crackers used to keep blacks from integrating churches and schools, because it would offend their culture.

    You lob incendiary charges into the mix that are thoroughly unsubstantiated as if they were undisputed facts. How does gay marriage have a negative impact upon the “future of all humankind?” How does it negatively impact “child-rearing?” Unless you can demonstrate factually based substantive data that supports your charges, you have no basis to deny anybody any rights. Once more, your premise is buttressed upon the “BECAUSE I SAY SO!” argument.

    The procreation argument is moronic. Does that mean that childless straight couples are less married than those with kids? Of course not. Then why in hell would a gay couple be any less married without children? It is entirely possible for gays to have children via several methods. How do you then address those that procreate?

    Your claim that there is no separation is simply not true. Gays are most certainly separated from end of life decisions with their partners, the ability to adopt, the right to have survivor benefits, and the list goes on. These are things that straights take for granted. Why should gays and lesbians be denied these rights and benefits?

    You posit that gay marriage “touches upon how we are made what is best for the future success as a species.” Really? How? How is a gay marriage any more a threat to our species than bogus straight marriages?

    I am under no illusion that your opinions are going to change regardless of what is written on this forum. I also take great offense at your histrionic attempts to inject fear and and a sense of danger into this subject. Gay marriage is no threat to any straight marriage, period. Since gays have been allowed to marry in some states, I’ve heard of the demise of no straight unions as a result.

    Don’t try and justify your homophobic bigotry with the canard of “threat to society” or “the corruption of our children.” It is simply narrowness of mind that fuels your arguments, nothing more.

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  69. Ricardo said on November 19, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Since 1970, people began buying pickup trucks (and later, by extension, SUVs) because they were better built, more rugged, lasted longer than cars, exempt from many auto safety standards, and exempt from smog standards. Minivans and most imported cars since 1980 are “throwaway cars”. If you bought a pickup or big SUV recently, you expected it to last for a long time, and it probably will. I think the oil companies with their huge profits should bail out the Detroit auto companies.

    In 1940, the auto industry and all of the associated shops were ordered to switch to war production. Headed by GM president William Knudsen, all American industries were directed to what was needed to win the war. It irked Henry Ford to have to obey someone who he had fired (after Knudsen designed his mass production assembly lines), but everyone fell in line, and it is acknowledged that the American industrial effort won the war. If we lose this capacity, it may never come back. The interstate highway system was pushed through as a defense system by Eisenhower in the 1950s. Get trucks with missiles through quickly.

    OK, lastly, I see this community at Nancy’s site as something I experienced in the late 1990’s. We had a regular group, mostly people younger than me, who made friends over a bbs similar to this. Mmm, it was a famous pioneer webcam site where a woman took off her clothes and her boyfriend provided a bbs, not too common back then. anacam.com is still online (I heard about her on the Whaddayouknow radio show), but the friends moved on, and the bbs is long shut down, replaced by the Ihaveasecret.com site. We did decide to meet for a member’s wedding in Las Vegas, in August, 2000. The wedding never took place, but the meeting did. I think it might have been the first time a virtual group of friends actually became friends IRL.

    There were also subgroups, the Toronto group, the LA group, etc. Fortunately, we recorded the meeting on video and I just made a digital copy of the best part and posted it on youtube.com. Would this group like to meet sometime?? Go to Youtube and search for Secret Society Banquet to view, it is in two segments, 10 minutes and 8 minutes, I am the old guy, a little buzzed at the time. We were IRL just like we were online.

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  70. JGW said on November 20, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Thanks for Jeff (TMMO) for the look at Lincoln at Gettysburg, it was insightful. Thanks also to Joe for standing up for corporate aviation, in general he is right BUT if any three guys needed to fly commercial it was those three, even as an act of contrition.
    Hell, Ford’s CEO should have jumped up and said sure, sell my jet, since they have a huge fleet including a Fokker 70, a small jetliner. He should have said, sell that Fokker! Can’t resist any Fokker joke, even before “Meet the Fokker’s.” I’m terminal childish! But hey, Ford was the launch customer for the corporate version.
    And I’m not sure who owns it, but I think Chrysler flew a Lockhead Jetstar II there which would be about my age or so, as in 40ish. It was the old four engined pig with huge wing mounted cylindrical tanks for fuel.
    I actualy resent those guys less than the glorified white trash UAW guys that rallied at the Fort Wayne Assembly plant this week. I say dump everyone, and rehire from scratch. I’d take their jobs for 1/3 the pay, and so would almost everyone out of work here. And all the new hires would have to give 100% every day. The long timers clinging to their high wages and great benefits are part of the problem.
    When people like me can’t get hired for $8.50 at Walmart and my neighbors are all struggling, we could give two s***’s about the spoiled GM employees. When the local food banks have waits of 3-4 hours in the cold, it’s hard to be sorry for people making $23 an hour or so. I say let the big 3 all go bankrupt and let the economy and a free market sort it out.
    I can’t afford a new car, I drive beaters with state minimal insurance coverage. If the big 3 cared, they would sell cars for pennies on the dollar but require a 5 year service plan.
    I used to sell cars and the worst customers (Sorry to sound racist but ask any car guy) were Indians. They’d come in, shop around, test drive, then lay ths assinine crap on salesmen. They would scoff at the sticker price, then get all studious. After a few minutes they would announce that the car was a few hundred dollars worth of metal, plastic and rubber. Try getting a fair price when they start dealing up from $750 on a new car. I had Indian guys, medical doctors and college professors actually calculate the scrap value of the parts then try to bargain.
    If anything, now is the time to start selling new cars for the masses at the Indian derived prices based on the materials used. Oh, and when an Indian guy pulled up, a salesman would always note, “Mr. Patel is here,” then the big grossing old timers would run to the bathroom to hide and let the struggling new guys suffer for 3-4 hours of some immigrint from Mumbai (It’s BOMBAY dammit you PC idiots) tell you what the grade of steel used sells for by the pound!

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  71. alex said on November 20, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Breaking news:

    Syndicated harpy grows some balls:


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  72. brian stouder said on November 20, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Great article, Alex – thanks!

    This part gave me a healthy chuckle:

    [quoting Sarah Palin] “I’m like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I’m like, don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is…. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it’s something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door.”

    Let’s do pray that God shows Alaska’s governor the door.

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  73. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Brian: Your hero, Nate Silver, has been named one of the 10 Sexiest Everyday Men of the Year. “Everyday Men” seems to be quite an expansive category, as it includes Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel, as well as a few bloggers known only to Internet nerds and political junkies.

    Not sure exactly how I happened across this, but I thought you’d want to know. Who knows? Maybe next year it’ll be your turn.

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  74. brian stouder said on November 20, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Jolene – Nate Silver definitely strikes me as a ‘hip to be square’ fellow. Or, for another 80’s analogy, he’s like the guy in Animal House who does everyone’s homework (or the kiddo in Wierd Science) – he simply has “it”.

    In the swirling chaos of our late election cycle, his website was a fixed point, a lighthouse…in fact I was always a little worried that his consistently pleasing polling reporting was a siren song calling me to the rocks (was my man Barack REALLY going to win so decisively?)….right up ’til the election blew over, and we witnessed the shimmering beauty of President-elect Obama and his lovely family standing in Grant Park….

    and one of the reactions that crossed my mind (and presumeably every other reader of fivethirtyeight) as the states went blue or red, and the projected electoral votes added up was – “Wow – Nate was exactly right!”

    PS – and come to think of it, Jolene, I think you are the person who pointed me there! So – Thanks!! (I believe I owe you at least an icy cold Diet Coke)

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  75. MichaelG said on November 20, 2008 at 9:02 am

    That was good stuff, Alex. Never thought I’d like a Parker column.

    JGW, you sound like an up for a Tata Nano.

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  76. mark said on November 20, 2008 at 9:14 am

    While I remain unconviced that there Is true “discrimination” involved in the gay marriage issue, the remedy seems to me to be not in redefining marriage but in removing many of the legal and governmental benefits that flow to that status. Most of those benefits are premised on the now out of date notions that:

    1. Women don’t work.

    2. Women need to be protected.

    3. Protecting marriages financially (and in a few other ways) is necessary.

    We could eliminate the married verses single tax filing status issue pretty readily, while maintaining exemptions for children and dependents. When women didn’t work, marrieds almost always got a benefit; not so true anymore.

    Social security survivor benefits could be structured based upon the payee’s contributions and average life expectancy at time of death, and made available to any designee with default provisions similar to estate law.

    The “spousal privilege” recognized in most all courts has been of questionable value for a long time and would not be missed.

    Health care decisions could be made a matter of contract only, subject to limited default provisions. Heck, the lawyers have every doctor and hospital requiring a fistful of releases and authorizations, even from spouses who don’t require one, that this wouldn’t be much of a change in practice anyway.

    If “marrieds” want to preserve marriage as it is, then they should give up the unnecessary benefit that separate it from civil unions. And if Gays want to experience that particular hell that is known as divorce, and spend years and tens of thousands of dollars splitting up the household goods, step right up.

    But trying to make marriage into something other than one man and one woman is a battle against thousand of years of culture and the teaching of every major religion. Why bother?

    Oh. I realize there are other legal consequences/benefits that attach to marriage. I just don’t feel like listing all of them and discussing how or why they can be eliminated or made partner neutral. If somebody sees one that can’t or really shouldn’t be changed, let me know.

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  77. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 9:26 am

    I’m very taken w/ Nate too. Although I’m easily moved by a sentimental scene, I’m an empiricist at heart, and I love the way Nate sticks to the statistical knitting, as well as his ability to write clearly about his results. The stories that his cohorts wrote about “the ground game” were an added treat.

    I’m interested to see what he’ll do w/ his site as we move away from this election cycle.

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  78. mark said on November 20, 2008 at 9:40 am

    More on topic, nancy you are correct. Whatever the current difficulties, Detroit has given the consumers what they want. The Big 3 employ thousands of bright, well-educated men and women who devote their careers to assessing the market, enhancing design, addressing changes in the market and improving the product. They have a vested interest in giving the public a product that will sell.

    It takes incredible arrogance for even a well informed observer to declare they must make a “green” car or any other car. About the only thing we observers know with some certainty is thaty their costs are too high to allow them to make a profit under current circumstances.

    And for those who think Congress or a Car Czar can oversee things, Congress sold a bunch of the biggest SUVs to lawyers and doctors, inadvertently, when they gave a $7500 tax credit for new business vehicles exceeding a gross vehicle weight that was low enough to encompass a Chevy Suburban. What was intended to help farmers and small manufacturing businesses modernize also let taxpayers help pay for a big new ride for the professional class. Oh that law of unintended consequences.

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  79. del said on November 20, 2008 at 9:59 am

    mark, the question I have is whether it really was an unintended consequence. I think Congress knew exactly what it was doing. Let’s see what happens to Big John Dingell today in his chairmanship fight with Henry Waxman.

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  80. mark said on November 20, 2008 at 10:04 am


    good point.

    That tax break had so many of my lawyer buddies buying SUVs they had to restripe the parking garage to accomodate them.

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  81. Gasman said on November 20, 2008 at 10:23 am

    As to marriage being “a battle against thousand of years of culture and the teaching of every major religion,” couldn’t the exact same thing have been said about racial segregation? Justifying bigotry because it is our tradition is no more reasonable than any other excuse.

    If our rationale for not confronting prejudice is “we’ve always done it that way” then we would still be a nation with slavery, no women’s rights, child labor, etc., etc., etc…..

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  82. moe99 said on November 20, 2008 at 10:29 am


    You’re a one man band for full employment for attorneys the way you’re proposing to go in and fix up all those laws one at a time. It’d be more efficient to just make marraiges between gays as well as straights, legal. See? Problem solved. Then you can go back and fine tune your other issues to your heart’s desire and do it on the merits of each issue, rather than cloud it up with the other crap..

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  83. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Nancy, first off,, I do apologize for the comments section occasionally descending into food-fight status. It’s not my intention to stir things up and I tried to leave off this issue yesterday, but I figure after a number of comments pass by and unchecked rhetoric ratchets up, it’s okay to offer a differing opinion.

    Secondly, Alex, I’ve said before: I wish you the best and do not want you to be denied civil liberties. We just disagree on the issue of redefining marriage as being the answer. And while politicians on the national scene continue to shirk their responsibility by demurring to “it’s a states’ rights issue,” this will continue to be an unhappy hodgepodge of states where the voters wrestle against activist judges. Every state where the vote is allowed, the issue loses, so for the time being, it is not me who will be “pounding sand.”

    Gasman, you have a tight grip on your anger, but it seeps through in your rhetoric at the first sign of disagreement. For someone who’s guy won the election and has a vast majority in congress, you sure don’t seem too happy. If your only happiness will be from winning every battle, be prepared to die on a few hills and to continue to be disappointed and angry. And remember, while your casting your misguided aspersions of “bigot” and “narrow minded,” be sure to picture a cartoon thought bubble coming out of your head with Barack Obama’s likeness in it. He agrees with me.

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  84. Rana said on November 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Danny, marriage has already “been redefined.”

    My church (UU) believes that “gay marriage” and “straight marriage” are the same thing: marriage.

    Liberal Quaker churches believe this already, as well. As do some liberal Baptist churches, and others.

    What has not happened is that laws based in a narrow-minded, and, yes, bigoted view of humanity have been expanded to grant more rights to more people and more churches, instead of to a limited, homophobic few.

    Government establishment of religion – which this is, this giving of full legal status to some churches’ marriages but not to other churches’ – is, last time I looked, a First Amendment violation.

    As for the “tradition” of marriage being ineluctably one of one-man, one-woman, that is so historically inaccurate, it’s not even funny. In some societies, men married pre-pubescent children. In others, men married several women. In some cultures in native America, men did marry other men (they were called berdaches).

    The “marriage” that you are so worried about the government redefining is ONE form of social and spiritual contract from among a range of options. It is not some timeless ideal that wafted down from on high. No one is asking you to participate in, perform, or approve of a marriage between gay people. What they are asking for is for gays and lesbians and the churches and families that love and care for them be given the same legal recognition – which currently goes by the word “marriage” – as homophobic straight people and their families and churches.

    I’m not casting an aspersion when I call your views those of a bigot. I am stating a fact.

    I also realize that I’m unlikely to change either your attitude or your views by stating so. But your defending the denial of full civil rights to a group of people who want nothing more than to live their lives and raise their families and love their beloveds in peace, while claiming that the people who call you bigot are the insulting, hateful ones, is too egregious an irony to not respond to.

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  85. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Rana, why do you hate Barack Obama? Why?

    Don’t injure yourself on the meaning of the word irony…

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  86. Rana said on November 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Danny, that’s a stupid, childish response and you know it.

    I don’t hate Barack Obama, and on this issue, I think he’s wrong. He’s not my god; I’m free to disagree with the man.

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  87. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Hey, don’t soft-peddle it, Rana. You can’t have it both ways.

    You don’t just disagree with Barack Obama, you define him as a bigot. Along with me and most of the rest of the United States.

    Logic is hard!

    In other news, Eharmony was successfully sued because they did not offer same-sex dating services. Next up, churches, no doubt.

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  88. Gasman said on November 20, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    I am not angry. However, I am totally through with accommodating intolerance or bigotry that would deny any American citizen full access to the rights that other citizens enjoy. That’s not anger, that is determination and an unwillingness to accept remarks that reek of bigotry. When is it appropriate to compromise someone else’s liberty? I am of the opinion that it is never right or just to compromise when it comes to withholding full access to citizenship.

    As to President Elect Obama’s position on gay marriage, I would say the same things to him that I am saying to you. As a matter of fact, I already have voiced my discontent with his position on gay marriage on Barack Obama’s website blog section. There were plenty of people within the civil rights movement who thought that it was best not to rock the boat. There were others who knew that the time for boat rocking was long overdue. Without the latter, the former would likely still be at the back of the bus and we would not have a President Elect named Barack Obama.

    As for defining Obama as a bigot, I would if he summarized a justification for the denial of rights that was as homophobic as some of yours have been. I suspect that his views were tempered more by expediency than deep seated conviction. This election cycle played host to a small but vocal minority that was intent on inciting an irrational sense of fear toward the GLBT community on the issue of gay marriage. As we can see by posts in this thread, it has not abated from that crowd.

    I am going to continue to rock the boat every time I perceive that we are withholding liberties or rights from any citizen. The constitution applies to all, not just those currently in favor. Do not mistake resolve for anger. They are very different.

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  89. Rana said on November 20, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    I do disagree with him, but I am not, along with Gasman, convinced that hatred of gay people is his motivating justification. He did not oppose gay marriage per se; he opposed it on the federal level. There’s a difference there, in that such a position is about a president respecting the rights of states to make their own decisions, rather than about trying to get his own personal prejudices written into law.

    In fact, he and Joe Biden both opposed Proposition 8 – which makes his position a lot more complex than you’d like to caricature it as.

    Again, he’s not my god, my messiah, my savior, or any of those things, and I am under no obligation to march in lockstep with him, or to treat his every utterance like the word of an infallible god. He’s a human being, complicated and flawed, and he’s willing to support a number of my other policy positions, and I deemed him a better political match and more thoughtful candidate than McCain. That’s it. That’s all. Do I approve of his weak defense of civil rights for gays and lesbians? No. But that weak broth is better than the foul brew you’re offering.

    Don’t like being called a bigot? Don’t be one.

    And do grow up. I know I’m younger than you, and it pains me to see a grown man stamping his feet like a child.

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  90. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Fine guys, whatever. And you mistake my disagreement with you for hatred and bigotry.

    You know, if you two weren’t so fast and loose with the perjoratives, we probably could have had a reasonable thread here. As it is, you demonize those who disagree with you.

    Food for thought.

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  91. Rana said on November 20, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    The thing is, Danny, you have offered no reasons against gay marriage that have not been rebutted multiple times, both here and elsewhere. You keep shifting the goal posts. First, it’s “separation is equal.” Then it’s “marriage has always been this way.” Then it’s “think of the children.” Then it’s “what about Obama?” Then it’s “lets re-do the system.” Then it’s “don’t force the churches”.

    To me, someone who keeps coming up with multiple reasons – no, let’s call them what they are, excuses – to deny civil rights to a group of people appears to have a vested interest in that group’s continued inequality. A person who thought well of that group but who had reservations about the legal changes would be willing to rethink his or her position upon hearing counter arguments.

    But that’s not what you’re doing. You keep throwing arguments at the wall in the hopes that one of them will stick.


    If marriage becomes a civil right for everyone, what harm does it to you?

    Really, honestly – what harm?

    So far you have made NO convincing case that harm exists; indeed you keep groping around for a new angle to persuade us of something that you’re just assuming – with no evidence.

    You assume that gay marriage = a bad thing, with no evidence. You insist on repeating this, despite arguments to the contrary. You kick and scream when people point out the errors in your assertions, rather than pausing to wonder if perhaps they might have a point.

    I don’t think you are a demon. I think you are a person who has formed a prejudice against gay people, and one who refuses to contemplate the possibility that the assumptions that go along with that prejudice are in error.

    In short, I think you are a bigot. You hold erroneous, damaging beliefs about a group of people that has done you no harm, simply because their biology is not the same as yours. That’s a textbook definition of bigotry.

    I don’t throw out that term lightly, or to make you look bad, or to insult you. I do it so your behavior is correctly identified for what it is.

    Again, if you don’t like the label, change the behavior. No one can make you a bigot except yourself.

    This isn’t about whether you disagree with me, and it’s silly that you keep acting as if it is. I could care less about you personally. I have no stake in pleasing or insulting you. But the views you hold are damaging, hurtful ones, ones that have real consequences for real families, and I will not let them go unchallenged.

    I’m defending the civil rights of a minority group. What are you doing?

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  92. Gasman said on November 20, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Perjoratives? Demonize? I called you a bigot. If you’ve made bigoted statements, how is that demonization? With a breezy wave of your hand you declare that whole classes of people should be denied civil rights because they make you uncomfortable. If the jackboot fits….

    As Rana said, if the moniker of bigot is an uncomfortable one, feel free to cease and desist with narrow minded remarks. You think that it is reasonable to talk of denying or even revoking civil liberties for Americans of whom you do not approve. That is decidedly not reasonable. I would call that the basest kind of prejudice, one that has a caustic effect in our democracy.

    “Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.” – Pogo

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  93. nancy said on November 20, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I am closing comments on this thread. I am sick of this shit.

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