Link hors d’oeuvres.

There’s so much going on hereabouts, and so many good things I want to direct your attention to, that today will be an all-bloggage entry. Maybe we should make Thursdays the ADHD edition on a semi-permanent basis, eh? On with it, then:

One of the best meals of my life was in a long-dead restaurant in Columbus called L’Armagnac. It was in a converted house somewhere in a gentrifying neighborhood, and some weeks later I had occasion to see the kitchen on a reporting assignment. It was very easy to see the kitchen because it was the size of a broom closet — not much bigger than the one in my apartment, in fact. And yet, magic happened there, and happened on a scale large enough to share with several dozen people every night, and the only real accommodation anyone had to make was scheduled seatings and prix fixe. So I was amused to note this NYT blog piece called Mark Bittman’s Bad Kitchen, Bittman being everyone’s favorite food columnist. (Really. His recipes are worth the NYT subscription price alone.) Anyhoo:

Q: Okay Mark. What’s a popular food writer like you doing in a kitchen like that?

A: I got a bunch of e-mails that say, “Can you believe all this stuff about your crummy kitchen?” But the whole idea is that you don’t need a fancy kitchen. You don’t need fancy equipment, and you don’t need fancy recipes. When I show people my kitchen, they believe it. But I hate my kitchen also. I bump my shins on the dishwasher. There is not enough room to put stuff. It’s a terrible stove. It’s a terrible dishwasher. I don’t have room for the pots I’d like to have. I’ve cooked in much worse, though. I’m used to it. Someday I’ll grow up and get a real kitchen.

Q: So why do so many people think a nice kitchen will solve their cooking woes?

A: Maybe it’s like what you said. You use your crummy kitchen as an excuse not to cook. Maybe it’s like saying, “I can’t exercise in the winter because I don’t have an elliptical trainer.” I once cooked for six months in what amounted to a basement with a hot plate, microwave and a refrigerator and sink.

Sorry if you’re OD’d on the current crisis, but you’re not going to be reading this stuff in your local papers, and some of it is good:

Pete Karmanos — local hero, hereabouts — takes on Alabama’s most irritating senator:

The intent of this letter, however, is not to take you to task for the inaccuracy of your comments or for the over-simplicity of your views, but rather to point out the hypocrisy of your position as it relates to Alabama’s (the state for which you have served as senator since 1987) recent history of providing subsidies to manufacturing. During the segment on Meet the Press, you stated that:

“We don’t need government — governmental subsidies — for manufacturing in this country. It’s the French model, it’s the wrong road. We will pay for it. The average American taxpayer is going to pay dearly for this, if I’m not wrong.”

I trust it is safe to say that when you refer to “government subsidies,” you are referring to subsidies provided by both federal and state governments. And if this is in fact true, then I am sure you were adamantly against the State of Alabama offering lucrative incentives (in essence, subsidies) to Mercedes Benz in the early 1990s to lure the German automobile manufacturer to the State.

As it turned out, Alabama offered a stunning $253 million incentive package to Mercedes. Additionally, the State also offered to train the workers, clear and improve the site, upgrade utilities, and buy 2,500 Mercedes Benz vehicles. All told, it is estimated that the incentive package totaled anywhere from $153,000 to $220,000 per created job. On top of all this, the State gave the foreign automaker a large parcel of land worth between $250 and $300 million, which was coincidentally how much the company expected to invest in building the plant.

[Insert Nelson Muntz HAW-ha here.]

One of my favorite — OK, my absolute favorite — local blogger is Jim Griffioen of Sweet Juniper, who covers Detroit, urban wastelands, parenthood and stay-at-home fatherhood from a perch somewhere near Lafayette Park. His piece on the events of this week is worth a read because it’s beautifully written, and because it captures the ambiguity so many of us feel about the situation:

I take pictures of the sad state of Detroit partly because I know there are people out there who can hardly believe places like this exist in their own country. From our greatest, most unique cities to our blandest, most generic suburbs, things have been pretty nice for a long time. It is easy to forget how our once-great economy was built (or what happened to the places that built it). Now it has been pointed out that this robust economic juggernaut we’ve believed we were for the last several years hasn’t actually been wearing any clothes. And winter is here.

Some of the people saying let them fail about Detroit’s automakers are the very same people who had no problem with the $700 billion bailout of the very “industries” responsible for the sudden evaporation of so many billions of dollars in equity and credit. I would like to show them the state of this city and ask them to think about how much worse it (and hundreds of other cities reliant on the auto industry) will get if any of these three employers were suddenly unable to pay their employees or suppliers. This isn’t Manhattan. We’re not talking about Goldman Sachs associates suddenly not being able to pay the mortgages on their $350,000 parking spaces in Tribeca for the Ferraris they bought with their 2006 bonuses. We are talking about the lifeblood of a region that has already suffered so deeply, and I can’t believe how many people are speaking so flippantly about allowing this great American industry to die.

I’m no apologist for the Big Three or their ridiculous missteps and lapses of judgment. But I do care about the regular people who work for these companies and who played no role in those poor decisions. Where is the compassion?

Jim used to live in San Francisco. Ahem:

They say a sustainable model for future economies will trend away from globalization and be based more on localization. The yuppies and hippies have sort of turned that into “I am better than the white trash at Wal-Mart because I buy my eggs from Farmer Brown the next town over,” but that doesn’t mean a movement towards more local economies is without merit. For Detroiters, of course, it is hard to separate all this talk of “buy local” economics from the misery of the auto industry, and not be frustrated with those Prius-driving yuppies in the Pacific Northwest calling for the death of this massive American industry while patting themselves on the back for buying butter made from the milk of organically-fed Oregon cows. It’s not a simple matter, and hopefully if there is some sort of “bailout” there will be plenty of strings attached: perhaps this could be an opportunity to start transforming manufacturing in the United States to a sustainable model that strengthens our economy and provides jobs here rather than just strengthening the portfolios of a privileged few at the expense of so many. But calling for the death of this American industry is callous and shortsighted, and I would add that slowly turning into a nation where no one knows how to make anything but hamburgers and silkscreened t-shirts can’t be good for national security.

Oh, and speaking of San Francisco, where else could a letter to the editor this stupid originate?

Missing from both Detroit’s pleas for a bailout and the national discussion of its pros and cons is any acknowledgment that the American taxpayer continuously subsidizes the automobile industry through the financing of local, state and federal roads.

If car companies were suddenly forced to acquire the land and maintain the infrastructure that its products need to function, the real cost of a car would be beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest people, and our national economy would come to a standstill until another form of transportation were subsidized and developed to take its place.

Whether General Motors is “too big to fail” and therefore deserves a bailout ignores the fact that the company, along with every other carmaker in the world, is subsidized by our tax dollars. Giving the automakers more for abusing their unique standing hardly seems appropriate.

Do we need a palate-cleanser? We do:

Jon Carroll quotes an amazing fact about Tom Friedman:

The Nov. 10 issue of the New Yorker had a long and quite balanced profile of Friedman by Ian Parker. This paragraph caught my eye:

“A few years ago, the Friedmans bought a seven-and-a-half-acre plot in Bethesda, Maryland. They tore down the existing house, built an eleven-thousand-square-foot replacement, and planted 200 trees. (In a note at the end of [his new book] ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded,’ where Friedman explains his own ecological circumstances – geothermal heating, solar panels – he invites readers, perhaps unwisely, to regard his real estate move as an act of rescue: He writes that he and his wife bought the land ‘to prevent it from being developed into a subdivision of a dozen or more houses,’ which could sound like someone buying a lot of champagne to protect society from cork-related injuries.) Here, the Friedmans have started an art collection on a theme of reading, writing and the media, which includes a book by Anselm Kiefer and a bench by Jenny Holzer.”

“Perhaps unwisely” — snerk.

Finally, some comedy. One of the many, many shameful things about the way the city of Detroit rolls is the bloated Executive Protection Unit, the police-department detail that protects the mayor. The most recent former occupant of that office apparently looked into the mirror every morning and saw not a college football player going soft in the middle, but a TOTAL BADASS who needed muscle to get through his day without someone busting a cap in his ass. People said the EPU was staffed by his high-school classmates and was just another form of featherbedding, which isn’t hard to believe. Anyway, someone I know attended a Democratic fundraiser in Grosse Pointe Farms last year, and said the talk of the party was the way the governor, this 110-pound blonde lady, made a quiet entrance, her security consisting of one state highway patrolman, followed a few minutes later by Kwame Kilpatrick’s posse in two SUVs. (Because the Farms is a place where you take your life into your own hands after dark, I guess.)

When Kwame left the mountain headfirst earlier this year, there was some local comment that now would be an excellent time to dissolve the EPU as well. Not so fast:

City Council President Monica Conyers took along two police officers from the Executive Protection Unit last weekend to a National League of Cities conference in Orlando, Fla., which some colleagues say is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. Police spokesman James Tate confirmed the trip and said police have escorted Conyers during other jaunts out of town since she became president in September.

Of course, the best part is always the justification:

“She is next in line to be the mayor,” said Conyers’ spokeswoman Denise Tolliver, who added that Conyers took two officers because one requested that a partner come to share the duties. “She absolutely needs that security. She is a woman. She can’t protect herself in many instances. You have to be concerned with her safety.”

Let me just go on the record as saying that if any female can protect herself, it’s Monica Conyers, who can’t even check into a hotel without the police being called. Anybody who would mess with her deserves whatever they have coming.

Now I’m off to exercise until I look like a drowned rat. Mmm, sexy.

UPDATE: Wait! One more. Staffers at the Longmont Times-Call in Colorado have a unique opportunity to make some extra cash this Christmas: Working as valet parkers at the publisher’s holiday bash. If this isn’t the bottom, it’s hard to know what is.

Posted at 9:24 am in Current events, Detroit life |

70 responses to “Link hors d’oeuvres.”

  1. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Bittman’s videos, also available on the Times web site, show easy ways to make great food, but they’re not filmed in his own kitchen. Here’s one that shows a different way to make sweet potatotes.

    I noted this piece of the interview:

    I think part of me likes the inadequacy of it. There’s some pride involved. But people come in and can’t talk to you when you’re in the kitchen. There’s no room for two people to cook.

    A kitchen that cuts you off from your peeps is just no fun.

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  2. mark said on November 20, 2008 at 9:59 am

    wow, what an impressive spread! I think I’ll start by nibbling on the “roads as subsidy to the automakers” selection. Would this mean that mortgage deductions and tax exemptions for children are public subsidies to toy manufacturers? Where would Mattel be without all those living room floors upon which to race the Hot Wheels and without all those little hands to propel them?

    Why oh why can’t we agree to a major infrastructure program along the lines of the highways built in the fifties?

    For the record, I oppose the auto bailout AND I am appalled by the financial bailout. While I still fear what Obama may do to the free market in four or eight years, I must admit that I cannot fathom that he will do more damage than Bush and Paulson have done in the last two months.

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  3. Lex said on November 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

    One of the places Mercedes-Benz looked at besides Alabama was a site a couple of dozen miles east of here. I recall that at the time even what N.C. was offering was breathtaking, and Alabama’s offer eclipsed that. I recall reading a few years later that, primarily because of the Mercedes package, Alabama was unable to afford new patrol cars for its highway patrol. I think it’s like the British general was reputed to have said here after their costly victory at Guilford Courthouse against Patriot militia: “One more such victory and we are ruined.”

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  4. Lex said on November 20, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Also, is Monica Conyers any relation to the congresscritter also named Conyers?

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  5. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 10:50 am

    She is his substantially younger wife, Lex, and she appears to have something of a history of combativeness.

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  6. Neil said on November 20, 2008 at 10:53 am

    What of course doesn’t help in the numskull Big 3 CEO’s arriving in separate private planes (one hopes they invited the UAW Prez along). The reality is with thousands of Mercedes and tens of thousands of Toyota’s sitting in the LA-Long Beach harbor with no hope of being sold, the entire auto industry is near flat-lining. Auto dealers are dying daily. The only difference is Toyota has billions of yen in the bank.

    Prediction–Come January (if the big 3 last that long) congress and the new much improved President will extract the necessary concessions from the big 3 (uh, 2) and give them the $ to survive, in a smaller more sustainable fashion. We can’t let the industry die and chapter 11 is not a solution (anyone going to be a big screen tv let alone a car from a mfg who can’t fulfill a warranty?).

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  7. Jeff Borden said on November 20, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Have you folks heard or read anything about the Chinese swooping in to buy one or more of the Big Three? It would be pocket change for a nation sitting on $2 trillion in cash reserves and would give the Chinese access to an enormous global network of dealerships, strong brand names and cutting edge technology.

    I’m more than a little amazed that our Republican friends from Dixie don’t see this issue as one involving national defense. They’re always so quick to invoke it when it suits their needs. You want a major political, economic and military rival to have the keys to one of the nation’s most important industries? How can these people be so quick to throw $700 billion into the financial markets –with virtually no oversight– while they balk at a mere $25 billion bridge loan that would be repaid?

    I can’t deny the Big Three make it hard to root for them, particularly when their executives behave like rock n roll divas when they travel by private jet. But as your correspondent so correctly notes, large swaths of America will be devastated by the loss of these firms. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois — we’re all going to take it on the nose.

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  8. LA Mary said on November 20, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I’m going to make a sweeping generalization. The folks I know who have the biggest deal kitchens, the sub zero fridges and the wolf ranges and the full set of all clad cookware are the ones who cook the least. I cook from scratch nearly every day of the week in a room where you can’t open the oven door and the refrigerator door at the same time, and if you are loading or unloading the dishwasher, no one else can be in the room.

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  9. brian stouder said on November 20, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Mary, my sweeping generalization is that the percentage utilization of all-that-jazz kitchens = the percentage utilization of all-that-jazz 4WD off-road all-terrain civilian Humvees.

    Aside from that, Christmas is coming (no matter what!) – and last night Pam and the girls and I went down the street to a locally owned cell phone service provider, for the beginning of their Christmas tree festival. They have 50 local organizations put up trees, and donate $500 to each of them, and auction the trees off….all around pretty stuff, and the crisp cold of the night was well buffered by some wonderfully hot-hot hot chocolate.

    PS – if you look at the pictures, the main tree has a blue circle on top of it – which is their corporate logo. But, this past week we learned that AT&T bought them out for $900,000,000! – so before the big lighting ceremony, I jokingly asked one of the employees if that was an AT&T globe up there…which earned me a sharp elbow from Pam!

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  10. Jen said on November 20, 2008 at 11:48 am

    What’s sad about that story about newspaper staffers working as valets for the publisher’s big bash is that I would strongly consider doing it if our publisher offered it. Sigh. At our newspaper, we recently found out that, when we run out of paper towels, we’re going to the old gas station hand towel rollers. As another reporter said, we’re only about one step away from BYOTP.

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  11. brian stouder said on November 20, 2008 at 11:53 am

    What’s sad about that story about newspaper staffers working as valets for the publisher’s big bash is that I would strongly consider doing it if our publisher offered it.

    Think of the dishey/juicey articles one could possibly mine from such a situation!

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  12. Joe Kobiela said on November 20, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Neal and Jeff, Please read my reply about corporate jets in yesterday’s reply’s it might give you a slight insight to corprate travel.
    Pilot Joe

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  13. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Why oh why can’t we agree to a major infrastructure program along the lines of the highways built in the fifties?

    This is something that has irked me too. The growing trend in California of more toll roads that are privately built and managed is terrible. We need public investment in infrastructure to benefit the public.

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  14. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    When you have a big kitchen, as Martha Stewart does, you can invite friends over to cook w/ you.

    Check out Snoop’s distinctive approach to making mashed potatoes in the second video. In the first video, he provides tips on fatherhood.

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  15. coozledad said on November 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    The US is going to need an industrial base to turn itself around.
    Selling it to the Chinese amounts to treason.
    Why can’t we sell Alabama to China instead?

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  16. Julie Robinson said on November 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    It was way too cold last night to spend much time outside. We attended the IPFW-Michigan State game last night, which was really fun since my sister went to MSU and is visiting from Florida right now. IPFW really gave State a run for the money and it was much more exciting than anticipated. Our son is also in the pep band, because, get this, he gets PAID for it. Pretty sweet gig.

    Most of the big fancy kitchens I’ve seen are not designed for actual cooks. The work triangles are too far apart and despite the space they wouldn’t be efficient to cook in. When we re-did our kitchen we put in almost the cheapest of everything we could find. Plain-jane stove and formica countertops. Granite would never pay us back in our neighborhood. But for the two months it took us, I cooked on top of the washer with a crock pot, electric skillet and the microwave, and washed dishes in the laundry room sink. We had a group of six of our daughter’s friends stay with us for a week and we managed just fine. Not ideal, but we got by.

    I think we all need to realize that we can get by with less than the advertisers tell us. One of my favorite cookbooks is named More With Less, written by a Mennonite woman. It’s all about making the most of your resources, a thrifty skill that needs to make a comeback.

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  17. Catherine said on November 20, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Has anyone else read JULIE AND JULIA? It’s adapted from the blog of a young woman in NYC, post 9/11 & afflicted with a certain amount of anomie, who decides to cook her way through every single recipe in Julia Child’s ART OF FRENCH COOKING. She has a similarly small apartment kitchen. It’s a very charming book.

    And no, I’m not ODed on the current crisis. I’m learning a lot from all the discussion and linkages here. The situation, for all its awfulness on the ground, brings up some important general questions: What happens to people in any industry when there’s a seismic market shift? What are the true costs of a car (or anything else) — how much is marketing, materials, labor and so forth? What is the best role for unions? How could one have seen this crisis coming, and what should the role of government have been? Can the auto industry (or any other) be transformed into a greener one by dint of government incentives, or is an oil price spike the only way?

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  18. Jeff Borden said on November 20, 2008 at 12:24 pm


    Agreed, we’d be better off keeping Detroit and jettisoning Alabama, though at least the folks down there in the Heart of Dixie have a sense of humor. I talked to a guy in Birmingham years ago, who said the only real point of pride among state residents was that they weren’t Mississippians. He wasn’t sure who or what Mississippians look down on.

    I expect the kind of aggressive “let them fail” rhetoric from senators hailing from “right to work” states, but I must admit, Mitt Romney’s oped really floored me. I guess he’s willing to write off Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and the other states so closely aligned with the car business if he runs for president again. What a contrast from all the hooey he was pitching during the GOP primary. And, hey, Mitt? American Motors failed, remember? Chrysler bought the company for Jeep, that’s all.

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  19. MichaelG said on November 20, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    The Roseville yards outside Sacramento are the largest rail yards west of the Mississippi and one of the largest in the world. The vast majority of automobiles, domestic and imported are transported from point of origin via rail. As of this writing there are over 100 locomotives idled at the Roseville yards along with their operators.

    I think there’s a lot to what Mary says. You should have seen the fabulous meals my ex-mother in law, who lives in Brussells, would conjur up from a teeny kitchen the size of my closet.

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Joe K, it’s not that there’s no reason for corporate jets ever, it’s the perception thing. Not our perception of them, but their perception of their immediate environment, that we’re about to put a major bet on.

    If it never occurred to any of the three of them to a) take one jet together, b) fly commerical as a symbolic gesture (knowing there’d be at least one snarky story about how they own corporate jets, but your PR dept can point out that this one flight would have cost $20,000 vs. the $800 ticket), or c) the totally symbolic but very appropriate move of flying, just this once, in coach — then they don’t get that this is what politics is: symbolism. (And as Flannery O’Connor would say, never say “just” a symbol.)

    I say bailout Detroit, but the management AND the boards have to be on a glidepath to landing and departure. The boards have been totally out-to-lunch through the last twenty years, and the expectation that they go for our money to go in strikes me as the only feasible option (yes, same idea for Wall Street IMHO).

    PS — i’ve only got a few weeks near Canton, MS to go on, but i can answer the question above: Mississippians look down on people who look down on them. That gives them a healthy pool of derision to draw from!

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

    Maybe they should have driven Prius’?

    Hey, I just remembered. It’s hell week for Colts/Chargers fans.

    I predict Indy will be defeated once again by my lowly Chargers. They are my only bitter payback gently chiding outlet for youz guyz stealing the Colts from my hometown, Baltimore.

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  22. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    So how did you do on the 150 question quiz, Danny?

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  23. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Jeff, what quiz? I think I missed something. I need a clue.

    Or in other words, “I’ll research it and get back to ya.” {wink}

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  24. brian stouder said on November 20, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Laura Lippman Alert!! You can hear and/or interact with her Friday 11/21 at 3 pm…

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  25. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Don’t give her any lip, man!!

    I know, I know. That joke just precipitously brought down the collective IQ around here.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Eddie, gravy on your fries, Colts, quiz . . . Diner.

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  27. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Damn, I can’t believe I missed that. Call off the wedding.

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Ah, we should give you the bonus question — the connection between the movie and the Colts’ move to Indy is . . .?

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  29. nancy said on November 20, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Jim Irsay saw the movie and said, “I can’t believe this is our fan base — a bunch of permanent adolescents who’ll never grow up and earn the sort of scratch that will buy $8 draft beers in the new stadium I expect the taxpayers to build for me.” So off he went in the dark of night for the sturdier, more mature Midwest?

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  30. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Answer. Modell.

    EDIT: Nevermind. that’s an answer to the wrong question. I had someone in my office. Sigh…

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    You can still get married, Danny!

    Reax to EDIT: Nope, that’s the answer i was thinking of, anyhow.

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  32. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    This reminds me, whenever we have a football pool and I ask my wife for her picks, here’s the criteria she uses:

    1. What is the mascot? Cute animals like Dolphins would trump Ravens, but a Bear might maul a Dolphin.
    2. What are the team colors? Powder Blue is just going to be better than periwinkle on any given Sunday.

    ..and she wins with these.

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  33. beb said on November 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Something to keep in mind in all this talk about the auto CEOs flying into DC on corporate jets. — Someone had to have been sitting at the regional airports watching for their arrival. Someone who then made a point of telling the media about how they had got there. It’s not simply that they were dumb to fly in, someone was waiting to ambush them when they arrived.

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  34. paddyo' said on November 20, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    And the problem with “waiting to ambush them when they arrived” is . . . . ? I’m with mild-mannered Jeff on this one. It’s all about symbolism, politics, public relations. And the Big Three’s corporate suite types seem Not To Get It. . . .

    As for football pix:
    When I was a reporter at The Denver Post, one of our young female reporters used the “dance” method in choosing her NFL weekly picks, as in:

    Which city was better to go out dancing in? Surprisingly, she was not last in the pool.

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  35. Dexter said on November 20, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Ford stock: $1.26

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  36. moe99 said on November 20, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    This is good news: Judge orders 5 detainees at Gitmo released. And this was a Bush I appointee, the government thought would be very sympathetic to them….

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  37. Dexter said on November 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Randi Rhodes (Nova M radio online) explained Sen Shelby’s (R-AL) stance against the “bailout” (actually a bridge loan) to the Big 3.
    He would LOVE to see the Big 3 collapse because of the huge presence in Alabama of not only the Mercedes plant mentioned in this thread, but also Honda and Hyundai have facilities there.

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  38. jcburns said on November 20, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Yeah, if I were doing PR for GM/Ford/Chrysler, I’d turn it into an event…put all three of them in a hybrid SUV and let them roll down the Ohio and Pennsylvania Turnpikes to DC, doing press avails by cell phone, stopping for mini news conferences at truckstops, and rolling triumphantly (with live shots) into the Capitol area. In the back seat: a UAW employee from each.
    “These are the people you’re affecting. We’re just their drivers.”

    That said, I’d only bail them out with about a zillion restrictions that would include firing most of top management, including the three jet-setters.

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  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    jcburns nails it — too bad for Detroit you’re not on their pr staff. And i am no Pelosi fan whatsoever, but she sounded quite straightforward when she said this afternoon that the Big 3 called her with one plan two weeks ago, left her hanging a week, and then came back as if they’d not even mentioned the “merger of somebody with someone else” plan and asked for “liquidity assistance.” All she didn’t say, but her eyes were saying for her, was that if they don’t even have that much of a coherent and consistent plan between two weeks ago and today, why on earth would we be well-advised to pay for the proverbial pig in a poke?

    I’m convinced that there’s a national, let alone local interest in keeping GM from cratering, but if the execs, boards, and union contracts all have to be left untouched, i can’t imagine a plan being approved that wouldn’t scuttle political futures all over the map.

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  40. JGW said on November 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    It’s not the size of your kitchen that matters; it’s how you use it!

    Sorry couldn’t resist that one, and I’m still bummed no one seemed to like my “Sell that Fokker,” comment re: Ford’s airliner sized corporate jet. Made me feel like Rodney Dangerfield here, “no respect.”

    One of our first apartments my wife and I lived in had a U-shaped kitchen that only one person could stand in, and the fridge was in the next room. I’m guessing it was 4 X 6. But it was laid out well, nice counters, sink, and a stove. It was efficient to work in and everything was inches away. I always turned out delicious meals there and it was abreeze to keep clean.

    Ever see the size of a galley on a nuclear sub? It’s amazing how they can turn out four meals a day in tight quarters like that.

    Lately I have been checking out web sites for tiny houses, and I think I’d like that lifestyle once the kids are gone (if?). They are cozy, cost almost nothing to heat, and they demand you avoid clutter and use space in an efficient way.

    Check these out:

    Ohh, and Beb, my guess isn’t that they were parked at the airports waiting. More likely they just kept an eye on flightaware, and then cross referenced the registration numbers with flights from the Detroit area.

    One of the first hints that Obama picked Biden was from flightaware with trips to pick up Biden and head to the announcement. An aviation web site called that pick way before the national media.

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  41. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    I agree, Jeff. It seems clear that a substantial number of the Dems want to do something, but the auto companies aren’t making it easy for them. Here, again, is that Steve Pearlstein column that I mentioned yesterday. What he describes sounds pretty brutal, but it seems like approximately what should happen. There are lots of details in his proposal, including government-backed warranties to encourage customers to buy even though the company is in bankruptcy and promises to update government vehicle fleets w/ Big Three cars and trucks.

    Would be interested to know what people who know more about the auto business or business in general than I do think of his ideas.

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  42. ROgirl said on November 20, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    As a resident of southeastern lower Michigan who works in the automotive industry, I was appalled by the whole bloody spectacle of the blowhard, showboating, ignoramus senators confronting the Detroit 3 in all their arrogance as they begged for more. Rick, Bob and Al did us no favors in pleading their case, and their attitude reminds me of the way they treat the companies that supply parts to them. I have no love for them, but there are good people in the industry who do deserve to keep their jobs. Better pr would no doubt help, but I can’t imagine those guys going through security in the Northwestern terminal at Metro airport and wheeling their bags down the concourse to their planes (tee-hee). But seriously, I think the Democrats will hammer out some sort of package with conditions to keep things afloat for at least a while longer.

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  43. Jeff Borden said on November 20, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Hey Danny,

    When I have no rooting interest in a sporting event, I root for the team from the coldest and most beleaguered parts of the country. Detroit vs. Tampa Bay? Go Lions! NY Jets vs. Arizona? Go Jets. Penn State vs. Alabama? Love those Nittany Lions!

    I figure people enjoying nice weather already have it cushy. Those of us who live in the more extreme climes –Chicago in my case– deserve athletic glory more.

    This does not apply to any Big Ten football teams. What an overrated conference!

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  44. Jolene said on November 20, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    I have a similar nonsensical rationale for rooting for sports teams, Jeff. I really have no interest in sports at all, but I’m happy if others are happy. So, if I happen to hear that Pittsburgh is playing (doesn’t matter what), I hope they’ll win because my old pals in the ‘burgh will be happy and, Lord knows, Pittsburgh needs all the help it can get. Or, my brother roots for the Vikings and the Twins, so, if I happen to hear that they are playing, I hope they’ll beat whoever else it is they’re playing. Similarly w/ my sister, who roots for Green Bay. Just call me Suzy Sunshine.

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  45. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    This does not apply to any Big Ten football teams. What an overrated conference!

    JB, after reading the first part of your post, THAT ending killed me. Hilarious.

    And your’s too, Suzy Sunshine!!! LOL!

    Now my wife, she’s like Suzy Chap(my-hide)stick. She likes rooting for the other team. Especially if it has Tom Dreamboat Brady on it.

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  46. JGW said on November 20, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I hate to be pleased by this but the unemployment extension passed today is a godsend. My kids get a semi-normal Christmas, and I get to re-group and stay close to current on bills.
    And since Hoosierville is tanking (above 6% jobless) I get 13 weeks more, not 7. I have gotten so thrifty that we’re ok but this is amazing, and lifts a great burden off of my family.
    I’m guessing I don’t get a check until Dec. 22, but that is enough time for Santa to do his stuff.
    Plus I feel better about this extension – the last one was buried deep in the war funding bill. I took the cash but hated the fact that is stemmed from an evil and ignorant war in Iraq.
    Go ahead and mock me, but try keeping it normal at home with no income and kids who deserve the world.

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  47. Linda said on November 20, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    What’s mostest fun about the hypocrisy of Sen. Shelby is that the MB plant that got subsidized for a quarter billion bucks? They announced an employee buyout plan on Halloween. That’s what I love about the sunbelt. They feel this huge moral superiority towards the rustbelt, then they fall for all the stupid tricks we fell for 30 years ago–the tax breaks, subsidies to companies, etc.–then the companies screw them and leave them on the side of the road, just like they did us. They won’t learn from our experiences, because they are just sooo much better than us Yankees.

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  48. Dexter said on November 20, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    The Big 3 execs are returning to D.C. early next month to get their money after they present Congress with a coherent plan.
    They’ll get it, they just had to get their asses singed a bit first.
    They’ll probably fly in the day before on Northwest on $880 first class tickets, just for show.
    I understand Pilot Joe’s comments here yesterday about corporate planes being tools used in modern day business, and I know a corporate pilot , too, well…not a “real” corporate pilot, but a “rich people in general” pilot, for NetJets.
    Private planes are here to stay, like it or not.
    Check out all the private jets at Teterboro Airport in NJ, for example…amazing! NetJets is HQ’d in Columbus, also.

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  49. beb said on November 20, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    paddyo’ says: And the problem with “waiting to ambush them when they arrived” is . . . . ?

    It just says that there was a concerted effort to de-rail that conference before it even began. It appears that the southern auto states are trying to screw the competition from the northern states, as if the southern states will survive if the northern state’s economy collapses.

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  50. MichaelG said on November 20, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I agree with Joe that business aircraft can pencil out. I used to own an airplane and I did everything I could to justify it. I’ve studied that stuff. It was a teeny little plane called a Citabria and I had a partner, but that’s another story. There are many occasions and many applications where privately owned aircraft work far better than air carrier aircraft. That doesn’t mean that every use of a corporate aircraft benefits the bottom line. Perqs, for example, don’t pencil. Thumbing noses at the senate and the public doesn’t pencil. The Big Three bosses should have been more sensitive to appearances for all the obvious and already stated reasons. One question that I have is how can their time be so valuable when all they’ve done with it is run their businesses into the ground? As far as I’m concerned they can all walk. Whaddaya mean they don’t have a plan for the bail out money? It seems they‘d just drop it into the old bank account and continue business as usual until it was exhausted. I’m not against a bail out in principle, but there has to be some thought and planning and an end in mind and some serious strings attached.

    I’ve never been to Teterboro but I have heard about it. For those on the left coast, I would direct your attention to Van Nuys or John Wayne airports for superlative selections of corporate barges.

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  51. moe99 said on November 20, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Did you know that the airport scenes in Casablanca were filmed at the Long Beach airport, which still looks like that? I flew in there at the end of this summer to visit my college freshman son and bring him as much crap for his dorm as I could fit in one big suitcase.

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  52. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    I hate to be pleased by this but the unemployment extension passed today is a godsend. My kids get a semi-normal Christmas, and I get to re-group and stay close to current on bills.

    JWG, take care, man. Lots of bad news around. You are not alone.

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  53. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Did you know that the airport scenes in Casablanca were filmed at the Long Beach airport, which still looks like that?

    No way. Wow. I own Casablanca. Do you think the credits say anything? Maybe I’ll check.

    I’ve been having fun with older movies lately. Watched Grapes of Wrath last night. My favorite is the grandpa who says, “I don’t give a hoot nor a holler if ther’s so many grapes an’ oranges there’re crowdin’ a feller outta his bed. I ain’t goin’ to California!”

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  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    ROgirl — “their attitude reminds me of the way they treat the companies that supply parts to them” — Owwww.

    Indy and Kokomo and much of Ohio know what you’re saying. We want to see these guys get a comeuppance that does come up our alley, but our fates are intertwined with these tools, blunt though they are.

    And on the right, the spectacle of George Will, Chris Buckley, and Kathleen Parker all saying “can’t we be conservative without all these religious people” leaves me baffled. It’s one thing to swing at the pinatas of Pat Robertson and the slowly simmering corpse of Jerry Falwell, but those three really want any hint of religious conviction tossed overboard. That’s gonna work out electorally how, exactly?

    Most readers here i’m sure are pleased to watch the infighting, but this phenomenon is truly mystifying, isn’t it? They’re really saying that they think a viable conservatism can be built on robust agnosticism, if not overt atheism — i think religious conservatives have been waaay more accepting of non-religious fellow right wingers than liberalism has been accepting of any form of theology other than their own form of fundamentalism. Neither Falwell nor Robertson nor the loathesome Rod Parsley have defined hardly any of the theocons who make up a core constituency of “the right” (see entry, Latter Day Saints (Mormon), political leanings of), but to say religion should be backseated if not evicted from policy and platform discussions in the GOP strikes me as hari-kari with a dull seppuku sword.

    (PS – i thought Casablanca was filmed at the Burbank airport?)

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  55. moe99 said on November 20, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    wrong on two counts, Jtmmo. Check out your for the airport connection.

    And conservative republicans were not more accepting of their atheist, agnostic compatriots than liberal dems were of Christians, such as myself. I have never felt out of place in the wilds of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Washington in the halls of the democratic party, although I have been embarassed to admit that I am a Christian given how the Republicans have mucked up the brand name.

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  56. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Van Nuys? Has an airport? — see “Filming Locations” . . . but “Silent Runnings”? Hmm.

    (Confession: i’ve never been west of St. George, Utah, so the LA basin is a vast mystery to me, imperfectly unpacked by many viewings of “Chinatown” and “Mulholland Falls.” But i do know that exterior viewscapes of “Lost Horizon” were filmed in Ojai, which i’d love to see before i pass into Glory . . .)

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  57. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Jeff, why don’t you come sit next to me and we can have a nice, quite, in-house discussion of Calvinism vs. Arminianism.

    Opening up the question you just did to this room is like throwing a match into a powder keg! LOL!

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  58. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Man, did anyone see that the Attorney General just collapsed while giving a speech. The video was just shown on Greta’s show.

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  59. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 20, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Danny, Calvinism is an ornate over-ornamented facade akin to Baroque architecture, while Arminianism is the minimalism your mom tried to like when the family went for a drive in the high end neighborhoods — “well, that certainly looks . . . interesting.”

    Sadly, i’m a process theology mainliner contaminated by a passion for the Gospel and practical discernment in everyday spirituality, so i don’t fit into many theological Procrustean bedframes. Muddled ain’t the half of it.

    Plus i’m an archaeologist, for my sins. “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” But i can still pray for Mr. Mukasey.

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  60. Danny said on November 20, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    FWIW, I fit in neither of those camps, but I’ve scouted them both.

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  61. Gasman said on November 20, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    I still am amazed that the conservative fundagelicals have been so gullible as to be conned by the Republicans once again. If Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II didn’t make a serious stab at Roe vs. Wade, why did anybody think that McCain, a recent convert to the anti-abortion crowd, was going to do anything about it?

    I think that if the fundies would get down off their high horses on the abortion issue, they could find allies in minimizing abortions from among their more liberal Christian brethren, and even among the nonreligious liberal crowd. I don’t know of anybody that actually wants more abortions. It would be great if it were an extremely rare procedure used only in the most onerous circumstances.

    I think that the hypocritical mass finally imploded from the bizarre “America-is-the-new-Jerusalem,” Rapture/Millennialist theology that the theocons were pushing. It was the local preachers and congregations that began breaking with them on issues such as social justice, the environment, and immigration. That has given this liberal Christian hope.

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  62. Catherine said on November 20, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Jeff, I think it seems odd for anyone to think of leaving faith out the mix.

    That said, the present day Republican party has tried to bring in the libertarians *and* the fundamentalists. These two camps, there’s no way they’re going to co-exist for long, let alone sing Kumbaya around the bonfire.

    jcburns, why AREN’T you doing PR for the Big 3? That is truly a great idea for a campaign.

    JGW, hang in there. It’s going to get better.

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  63. Jolene said on November 21, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Jeff (tmmo): Kathleen Parker used the phrase “armband religion”. Have never heard that before. What does it mean?

    Also, I don’t think Parker had in mind booting religious people out of the GOP. Yesterday, Ana Marie Cox commented on this in a WaPo web chat. She said:

    I actually had drinks with Kathleen last night — she had just turned in her column and was preparing for the barrage of bile that did in fact come forth today. We sort of wound up fine-tuning her thesis a bit: The problem is not evangelicals, it’s social conservative evangelicals who see social conservatism as their PRIMARY political point of entry.

    [I’ve made this point before here, stop now if the tune sounds familiar.] Younger evangelicals — who started to make their voices heard with Huck — have a very different coloration than those currently leading the political faction of their church. For them, issues like abortion are just PART of a wider, almost civil-rights like approach to “social conservatism,” which would also include environmentalism and using the machinery of government to address poverty and (now a very hot topic) usury. Those guys could be very useful in rebuilding the party — the problem is they don’t necessarily identify as Republican. And don’t necessarily see electoral politics as the way to get things done. They are more like — ahem — community organizers.

    Sounds like Parker might actually be hoping for a bigger place in the party for people like you!

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  64. Dexter said on November 21, 2008 at 1:48 am

    MichaelG: I have a friend in Canoga Park and she said the locals always try to fly out of Van Nuys to avoid LAX. I never checked it out because the few times I flew to LA we used LAX.
    According to the Wiki entry, it’s not even a commercial airport; my friend might be passing bad info!

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  65. moe99 said on November 21, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Ah, I must apologize Jtmmo. When I flew on Jet Blue to Long Beach they told us that the airport was featured in Casablanca. After running my own checks, I find you are correct.

    I will say that the airport does look like it had never advanced beyond the 1940’s and some Ong Beach residents would like it to stay that way, despite Jet Blue’s activities contra.

    Again, you were right.

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  66. beb said on November 21, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Jeff(tmmo) I don’t know what Parker, Will and others are getting at because I don’t read them but I suspect they’re arguing that the Republican party has — in the eyes of too many — become the Anti-Abortion Party. And since the anti-abortion position has always been a minority position, this makes the Republican party a minority party. I don’t think they want to kick religion out of the party, just maybe out of the driver’s seat.

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  67. LA Mary said on November 21, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Dexter, maybe your friend meant Burbank airport? My son flies RC planes at Sepulveda Basin, near Van Nuys airport and we see the corpoate jets zooming over at times, but they seem to be the smaller variety. I don’t know much about corporate aircraft varieties, forgive me.

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  68. Ricardo said on November 22, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Yeah, Burbank airport was the one in Casablanca. I love flying from Long Beach. When you walk out on the tarmac in the morning to get to the plane your are about to board, you notice there are only two jets sitting out there. No delays at Long Beach.

    When I worked in downtown LA, I started going over to the Bradbury building on my lunch break to look around. It was only two blocks from the California Plaza. The Bradbury building had movies filmed there as soon as it opened in 1913 including Chinatown (Jake’s office) and Blade Runner with the Asian images on the skylight over the atrium. The oak and iron exposed stairs and elevators are something. Just act like you belong, it is actually a working office. The LA Times has office space there. I could look down on the atrium from my office on the 43rd floor.

    I was always trying to find the building that Harold Lloyd climbed in the film “Safety First”, but couldn’t, maybe torn down. It was on Bunker Hill which gave the illusion that it was much higher than the other buildings. Most of the victorian mansions on Bunker Hill was torn down in the late 1960s to make room for the skyscrapers that now inhabit the area, including the California Plaza.

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  69. caliban said on November 22, 2008 at 6:18 am

    # Catherine says:
    November 20th, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Jeff, I think it seems odd for anyone to think of leaving faith out the mix.

    That said, the present day Republican party has tried to bring in the libertarians *and* the fundamentalists. These two camps, there’s no way they’re going to co-exist for long, let alone sing Kumbaya around the bonfire.

    jcburns, why AREN’T you doing PR for the Big 3? That is truly a great idea for a campaign.

    JGW, hang in there. It’s going to get better.

    And when you try to codify faith, well, that’s just unConstitutional. And that’s exactly what these bastards have attempted. If their faith ws anything but Halliburton and Enron, and Norman Podhoretz, they might deserve audience. And they’ve attempted to make huge bucks doing it. Jesus, who believed in the Commonweal, would not approve.

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  70. Lex said on November 25, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Jolene: Thanks for the (rather entertaining) info.

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