Quel fromage.

I’ve been scanning the usual sources, and it’s gratifying to see that condemnation of Roman Polanski among people who have never been offered entrance to a luxury lounge is pretty close to universal. Among the ahem artistic community — pinkies up! — not so much. I admire Martin Scorsese, and you’d hope a man with five daughters wouldn’t be afraid to take a contrarian position, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. We separate the art from the artist, amen.

I agree with Paul Campos at LGM, who said the petition in support of Polanski “reads like a wingnut parody of degenerate France and degenerate Hollywood engaging in an orgy of amoral pomposity.” Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

Pétition pour Roman Polanski

Nous avons appris avec stupéfaction l’arrestation par la police suisse de Roman Polanski à son arrivée samedi 26 septembre 2009 à Zürich (Suisse), alors que celui-ci se rendait à un Festival de cinéma qui devait lui décerner un prix pour l’ensemble de sa carrière.

Cette arrestation fait suite à un mandat d’arrêt américain prononcé contre le cinéaste en 1978, dans une affaire de mœurs.

Oops, that’s the French. It sounds so…sexy, doesn’t it? The plodding, Puritan, Amur’can version:

Petition for Roman Polanski

We have learned the astonishing news of Roman Polanski’s arrest by the Swiss police on September 26th, upon arrival in Zurich (Switzerland) while on his way to a film festival where he was due to receive an award for his career in filmmaking.

His arrest follows an American arrest warrant dating from 1978 against the filmmaker, in a case of morals.

It is astonishing to learn that arrest warrants are sometimes carried out. What is astonishing to me is to learn that someone actually believes the following:

By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for filmmakers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.

The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance, undermines this tradition: it opens the way for actions of which no-one can know the effects.

Sundance as de facto embassy space? How charming. Imagine the possibilities for the diplomatic pouches.

I bring this all up not because this case is so interesting; ultimately — and it’s important to keep this in mind — this is about a grubby little crime, not artistic freedom and puritanical American…what’s le mot juste? Une affaire de mœurs, yes. I bring it up because you watch, it won’t be long before someone tries to hang this on “the left,” or the Democrats, or Obama’s secret teenage-girl rape teams, or whatever, and I just want it on the record now that I ain’t havin’ it. I don’t know what Scorsese was thinking, but I suspect it’s more along the lines of, “if I ever want to do business with Harvey Weinstein again, I’d better get on board with this” than “sure, she was asking for it.” Not that the former is any better than the latter, but at least we can all understand filthy lucre as a motivator, whereas the other is just gross.

OK. As you can see, I’m late getting started today. I took an extra-long sleep last night, didn’t rise until 9:30, and friends? It felt good. I see the previous comment thread has taken a left turn into discussion of “Valley of the Dolls,” one of my favorite novels of all time. I read it as a teenager, and learned so much from it, I hardly know where to start, from New Haven openings to El Morocco, where everyone waits for the early editions to see what the reviews are like. I’ve been looking for one of those “frownie” plasters Jennifer North wears in an early scene; it’s sort of a glue-on thing that pokes you in the face if you dare to furrow your brow and invite wrinkling, Botox-before-Botox. Also, I’m all about the Nembutals. I think I took one last night.

So no bloggage today; I’m still barely ambulatory. At least I’ll be well-rested for work tonight. I did try, as an experiment, doing the L.A. Times crossword puzzle within 30 minutes of rising, pre-coffee. I finished in 7:18. Anyone care to take me on?

Posted at 11:31 am in Current events |

46 responses to “Quel fromage.”

  1. 4dbirds said on September 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Well this left leaning birdie has no sympathy for the Polanskis or Allens of the world. They’re icky and creepy.

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  2. LAMary said on September 30, 2009 at 12:04 pm


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  3. Jenine said on September 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Ten minutes and change — you’re the xword queen.

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  4. Jim said on September 30, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    “Avec stupefaction” sounds so much better than “astonishing,” doesn’t it?

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  5. Jeff Borden said on September 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Polanski is a creep. Allen is even creepier.

    While I usually admire those who embrace the life of an artist, I am thoroughly sick and tired of those who use that choice as a license and excuse for terrible behavior. Yeah, Woody, you made some good films, but you’re still screwing your adopted stepdaughter. “Annie Hall” doesn’t buy you a pass on that kind of a depravity. And Roman, “Chinatown” doesn’t buy you a get out of jail free card for drugging and raping a girl who was barely a teenager, no matter how worldly this behavior may be viewed in some circles.

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  6. James said on September 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    RE: Roman Polanski – It’s not on a matter of “morals,” the guy was convicted and fled punishment.

    OK… I know this is probably a case of “get your own blog,” but I have to share this story with this group, which seems fairly balanced and rational.

    Weekdays, when I walk with my wife to the Marta (train) station for exercise, we pass this vacant lot that’s for sale. The owner has posted, in addition to the lot stats, a screed against annexation of this particular part of unincorporated DeKalb County (Georgia) saying “Annexation is Theft” or some-such slogan. I notice this lot because the back end of it is overgrown with weeds, most notable kudzu, which has left his property and swallowed the public sidewalk adjacent to it.

    Today I gave him a call, and left a message, asking him to cut his weeds. I got a call back from him. It went like this:

    Me: “Hello?”
    Him: “Is this the person who left the message about my property on College Avenue?”
    Me: Yep. I just wanted you to know that the weeds are all overgrown, and they’re covering the public sidewalk. It’s a nuisance. Can you trim them?”
    Him: “I just want to know, were you born stupid, or did you just get that way?”
    Me: “Good luck selling your property, pal.”

    … and then I hung up. He called again but I let it roll to voicemail. In the message he left, he called me: a “pussy,” a “dick-head,” and a “liberal.” There was more, but I think you get the idea.

    So my question is… Asking someone to trim 20 feet of kudzu from the sidewalk calls for rudeness and name-calling? What kind of world do we live in?

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  7. MarkH said on September 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    James, this is when you call planning and zoning, or public works, or whatever officious municipal agency has jursidiction over such matters. File whatever paperwork is necessary and get him entangled in some REAL “dickhead” or “liberal” red-tape process akin to annexation efforts.

    EDIT — Of course, the real danger now is, he has your phone number, can go to a reverse directory and cause all sorts of problems for you. He sounds like that sort. Be careful.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on September 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Hah! Proof once again that Southern hospitality is not really very hospitable. My wife’s aunt from Virginia will carve up someone like a Christmas goose, but then end her devastating remarks with the words, “poor dear.”

    You were polite and decent to bring the problem to the owner’s attention, James. Maybe the guy was having a really, really bad day and this set him off. Or, perhaps, he’s just a jerk. Either way, you did nothing wrong. You’d be welcome on my block any day.

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  9. Jean S said on September 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    balanced and rational? us? that’s a bunch of old journalists (plus random lawyers, pilots, farmers and whatnot) you’re calling rational. Scuze me while I giggle.

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  10. Sue said on September 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    LAMary, I’m always amused at how those who wishfully-think about a coup never look beyond the coup, assuming that those “patriotic generals” are automatically part of the hive-mind and will know how to punish the lefties while rewarding those who understand what that constitution is all about, donchaknow. I’m guessing if any of these folks ever watched Dr. Strangelove they either didn’t get it or got it in a scary way.
    And James – oh, yes, it does call for rudeness and namecalling, because no one should ever, ever be asked to maintain their property, or consider how their actions affect their neighbors. Anything like that is nothing less than an attack on their freedoms. And if you think it’s a waste of taxpayer money to have an inspector be accompanied by police officers for basic property maintenance complaints, you haven’t seen what’s out there lately. My question is, why own property anywhere near civilization if you “just want to be left alone”? And I would be careful if I were you, he could very well know where you live by now.

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  11. Jean S said on September 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    also, James, I agree with the “be careful” sentiment. He’s not going to clean up the plot until someone trips over the kudzu, falls, then sues him. Even presuming that happens, he’s the kind of jackass who would drag it out…

    and as my mother was most Southern, this is my opportunity to say, “Bless his heart.”

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  12. 4dbirds said on September 30, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Not sure if I’m balanced or rational and I fall in the random whatnot category. He sounds like a bitter lazy eff who doesn’t want the city to tell him to cut the grass. Father issues.

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  13. James said on September 30, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks all.

    He has my cellphone number, so I’m probably ok.

    Heck… I do a weekly comic for an alt-newsweekly, so if I’m in danger from crazy right-wing nutjobs people, I’d probably be dead by now.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on September 30, 2009 at 1:14 pm


    What is particularly interesting among the worshippers of military might on the right is how few of them ever served in any capacity, much less in combat. My favorite, of course, is Old Crusty himself, Deadeye Dick Cheney, who somehow managed to obtain FIVE separate deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. Deadeye Dick looooooves him some military folks. He just didn’t want to be one when it counted.

    Guess I’ll have to go looking for my old paperback edition of “Seven Days in May,” which was a pretty nifty political thriller that was turned into a pretty nifty movie. It’s been years since I last read it, but I recall the military uprising was premised on a far-reaching treaty with the Soviets being pushed by an unpopular president from Ohio.

    Missing from the Newsmax whack job’s idea of a military coup is the charismatic leader, James Mattoon Scott, played by Burt Lancaster in the film. The book’s premise was that Scott, who I believe was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was gearing up for a run at the White House after his at the Pentagon and was widely liked and admired by the country. I can’t think of anyone like that now that Colin Powell has left the room.

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  15. Christy S. said on September 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    James, go online and file a code compliance complaint. A guy like that probably will be more irate toward the city than you — and more paranoid. So while he has your info, he’ll also know the city has his info and a complaint, and he’ll recognize the pickle he’s in if he retaliates against you. That’s if you even want to mess with it anymore. But I just hate when someone like that “wins” because he pours all kinds of crazy on the situation.

    Nancy, I’m with you on the “it won’t be long before someone tries to hang this on ‘the left’ ” notion. It’s likely happening on Fox but I can’t bring myself to turn to that channel. I get all the Fox I can stand on The Daily Show.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on September 30, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    It’s amazing what people will say when they are not face to face. There is a certain realtor in town who will never get my business due to a long message he left on my cellphone. He excoriated me by using multiple profanities as well as insulting the intelligence of my parents. Only, oops, he was actually leaving the message for someone else with a similar number, I assume. He couldn’t have been nicer when I called him back to let him know that they didn’t get the message, but that I certainly did.

    So go ahead and file the complaint, James.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on September 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    It’s a little harder for the GOP to make the Polanski case stick to the left as a morality tale. For that, we can thank Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, John Ensign and the as-yet-unrevealed others who lecture us daily on our moral failings while boning men and boys, women and girls, who are not their spouses or significant others.

    Thanks, guys!

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  18. coozledad said on September 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Poor old Derbyshire misses that sweet thwack of W’s cane across the dimpled gelatin salad of his buttocks. He’s starting to get a wittle quanky:

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  19. Dave said on September 30, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Caller ID took all the fun out of making calls like that and I’m sure kids of today don’t have the fun of calling and asking, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” Who’s Prince Albert, anyway, and what’s he got to do with a can?

    But I digress, for some people, it seems like there’s absolutely no getting through to them anymore, they’ve got so much reinforcement from whatever their view may be, that they’ve never considered the other side or even know that another side is possible.

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  20. Sue said on September 30, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Just a general warning re: filing complaints. I wasn’t kidding about the crazy factor out there. Most states have legal requirements about releasing names of complainants if requested. Think carefully about how badly you want a situation rectified and how well you know the crackpot you’re complaining against. Eventual restraining orders are not common but not unheard of. Watch your pets and any vehicles you park in your driveway or on the street. Really. I’m not kidding.
    Absolute worse case scenario:

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  21. deb said on September 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    what, no comments yet on frownies? nance, you must not get the same catalogs i do; they’re chock-full of items like frownies, along with devices to strengthen your pubococcus muscle, erase smile lines, and rid your person of toxins. old fart stuff. i blame my membership in AARP.

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  22. deb said on September 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    and i still can’t watch a woody allen movie without cringing. seriously, how can anyone watch him pick up mariel hemingway at the dalton school in “manhattan” without feeling sick?

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  23. Rana said on September 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Okay, there’s something about the URL that is freaking out the posting editor, but anyway…

    Frownies (and Wrinkies) can be found here, in the Apothecary/Facial Care section.

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  24. moe99 said on September 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    thank goodness lef arkins is on the Polanski case:


    And LA Mary, I read the John Perry article on Newsmax, before they took it offline (thank god for the internets ’cause it still can be found). I emailed them and told them I thought they were coming close to treason with that column.

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  25. LAMary said on September 30, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Rana, the Vermont Country Store site looks all homey with the candy apples and all, but check out the merchandise they call Intimate Solutions. Ahem. No frownies there.

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  26. John said on September 30, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    “Hitachi Massager: Delivering Good Vibrations for over 25 Years”

    I’m guessing they aren’t talking about Brian Wilson!

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  27. coozledad said on September 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    “I bought the Hand Held German Massager from the Vermont Country store. It promised gentle or intense attention. All those little cares seemed to melt away.. until it invaded Poland!”

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  28. Rana said on September 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm


    Gotta love that good old fashioned country fun, I guess!

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  29. LAMary said on September 30, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    The Vermont Country Store has some odd items. It also seems to have a markup of about 400 percent.

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  30. ROgirl said on September 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    RE: Roman

    In the words of Randy Newman: I’ve been around the world/Had my pick of any girl/You’d think I’d be happy but I’m not/Everybody knows my name/But it’s just a crazy game/Oh, it’s lonely at the top

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  31. cosmo panzini said on September 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    While most of you are pointing fingers and sleaze-bagging Mr. Polanski, keep in mind that the biggest reason the case was settled with a guilty plea and an agreement on a sentence of time served was that the prosecution at the time realized how weak their case was, and did not want to risk losing. There were major discrepancies in the girl’s testimony, and a very real concern, both on the part of the prosecution, and also the girl’s family, that she would be seen as somewhat enabling or complicit in the incident. So they offer Polanski a pass in return for a guilty plea, and later the judge in the case lets it be known that he’s going to renege on the deal. All of this, I’m sure, after some money had already changed hands. So what would you do? Get the hell out of Dodge, I’d say.

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  32. moe99 said on September 30, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Where to begin? Part of the transcript is posted in Lef Arkins’ blog that i pasted above. The young woman sounds very consistent. And at 13 she is too young to consent to it anyway. As someone in another blog wrote, and I am loosely paraphrasing here: It doesn’t matter if the girl seemed to indicate that it was ok, and that her mother signed an affidavit attesting to the fact she was 19 and gave her Polanski to do with as he chose, and even if the Bishop of the Archdiocease of Los Angeles signed a certificate that exonerated him from liability, Polanski was still guilty of rape. There is no way, under law, that it can be excused. Polanski pled guilty to lesser charges but he still fled the jurisdiction without serving about half of his ORIGINAL sentence. THAT is pissing on our judicial system and most of the lawyers I have talked with about this case have agreed with me: he has to come back and take responsibility for his crime(s). Sorry cosmo. Getting the hell out of Dodge is not even a lame excuse.

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  33. beb said on September 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    The PBS christmas catalog arrived today. So many lovely things that we can neither afford to buy or have places to put them, plus all these clothes top out two sizes too small. sigh.

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  34. Cosmo Panzini said on September 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    OK, moe, guilty of rape only because of a plea extracted from him under what you’d have to admit were false pretenses. The rape was never proven in a court of law, only admitted to as an expedient. To describe Polanski’s treatment as Kafkaesque is understatement. As for pissing on the judicial system, well, alright, bring him back to LA, vacate the previous plea, and fight the whole thing out in court. Even the supposed victim doesn’t want that. Not only that, but the end result of all the legal flummery would be the same: a big fat pass for Mr. Polanski.

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Pilot Joe, you gotta see this – http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/clouds/ (and anyone else who likes clouds, in or out of your coffee).

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  36. Joe Kobiela said on September 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    I have seen the first type and the last two, but the middle three are really strange.
    You see all sorts of stuff when airborne. I still enjoy watching thunderstorms light up the inside of clouds, as long as I’m a safe distance away. Up close when you can hear the thunder, not so much.
    Pilot Joe

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  37. moe99 said on October 1, 2009 at 12:33 am


    So perhaps the attorney lied about the ex parte contact with the judge. Well, well, well. And if Polanski pled guilty, he did it on the advice of counsel. He was not some pro se shlep. He can sue his attorney for all I care, but he was represented and he took the plea. I would appreciate it if he would take the responsibility for it and behave like an adult. Some of us have to take responsiblity for things we never wanted to but have no choice. He chose his course.

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  38. Dexter said on October 1, 2009 at 1:08 am

    All mellowed out from the Ken Burns segment tonight, I had to search deeply to find a story to irritate me. Why is this happening?


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  39. moe99 said on October 1, 2009 at 1:08 am

    btw, moving on to lighter things and reminded of the nauga hunts from a thread either yesterday or the day before, I got an email from my former cleaning person who has set up a very active estate sales business in Seattle. She is conducting sales at two estates this weekend, but this item in her West Seattle sale caught my eye:

    “#1 Sat./Sun. October 10/11 condo in West Seattle, and an auto once belonging to the movie actor Ricardo Montebalm”

    Hokay, who wants me to act as proxy for them on this once in a lifetime opportunity?

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  40. Dexter said on October 1, 2009 at 2:13 am

    does it have fine Corrr–eeen-thee-an leather?

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  41. Kim said on October 1, 2009 at 8:27 am

    You can order those frownies and winkies at The Vermont Country Store.

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  42. ROgirl said on October 1, 2009 at 8:46 am

    The Vermont Country Store: who’da thunk it?

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  43. brian stouder said on October 1, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Dexter, the color of the illumination of the Empire State Building – again the tallest in NYC – doesn’t irritate me in the least (nor does it make me see red, but we digress!), although I was tempted (for a few seconds) to be put off when Rachel Maddow noted sometime a week ago that they were going to bathe it in green for Iran (in advance of Nutjob’s UN speech) and then didn’t.

    Aside from that, I’m with Moe on anything to do with the poleaxed Polanski

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  44. MarkH said on October 1, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Yes, what moe said.

    cosmo, an adult having sex with a 13-year-old is against the law, period. That a sex act took place between the girl and Polanski is acknowledged. “Consent” is not an issue. Statutory rape, he needs to answer for it, end of discussion.

    Brian, I have a problem with it. Any celebration by a free society of a historically repressive regime, responsible over the years for the deaths of millions of its own people, is disturbing. No matter that China now seems to be thriving under an evolution to new-found capitalism and we are now highly dependent on their financial strength, or weakness. Oh, the irony!

    EDIT: Just sayin’!

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  45. brian stouder said on October 1, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Mark – agreed, really, regarding China’s history. But beware: our American history won’t pass a white-glove test, either.

    Last night I was catching up on DVR’d shows (after my Nebraska trip); Pam had specifically not watched Amazing Race (a great show!) so that we could watch it together, and the teams hooked up into Vietnam after a visit to Japan.

    This caused my daughter to ask a question that was rattling around for me, too – what must those people think of us?

    By way of saying, the world is a prickly place; our nation has to deal with things as they are, even as we work toward shaping things in a way that we prefer.

    As a footnote, I am expecting that the yappers on the wingnut right will express extreme disapproval for the direct talks between the US and Iran, because they prefer……what? War? A war that WE start? A war that then risks going nuclear?

    We have to play the hand we’re dealt – and indeed, jaw-jaw beats war-war, every time. If illuminating a skyscraper every once in awhile, in honor of a nation that we maybe don’t have lots of affection for, helps even a little, I’m for it.

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  46. Montag said on October 12, 2009 at 5:37 am

    The title is priceless.
    Oh, I am not ignoring Polanksi-palooza, but I can’t add anything to that pedo-jam.

    But after all these years of listening to pompous oinologists spouting off about wines, and gourmands lecturing the gospel of artisanal cheeses, you have given me the most excellent riposte: quel fromage, mon ami! quel fromage!

    And in the Mad Max future when I am told unemployment figures for the month of Lurk-Snaggaroth are coming out, I shall say “Quel chomage, mes amis! Quel chomage!”

    The possibilities are endless.

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