You don’t have to be Jewish…

I regret to say that the weekend mail did not contain my invitation to the Obama family’s White House seder. As the weekend’s NYT story points out, you don’t have to be Jewish to love the springtime tradition of a long ritual dinner featuring matzoh, horseradish, charoset and four cups of wine — but it takes real guts to host one if you’re not, and I admire the first family for doing so.

I understand some Christians hold seders at Passover, as a way of honoring the first of the Big Three of Monotheism, but I don’t know if I could do that. You know how people resent converts to any religion, the way they take the plunge into whatever your particular baptismal font might be, and then surface telling everyone what they’re doing wrong? That’s what it would feel like. You need a real Jew at the head of the table. I suppose if anyone could pull that off, though, it would be our multi-racial, multi-cultural president.

One detail from that story sticks with me:

Then came what is now remembered as the Macaroon Security Standoff. At 6:30, with the Seder about to start, Neil Cohen, the husband of Michelle Obama’s friend and adviser Susan Sher, was stuck at the gate bearing flourless cookies he had brought from Chicago. They were kosher for Passover, but not kosher with the Secret Service, which does not allow food into the building.

Offering to help, the president walked to the North Portico and peered out the door, startling tourists. He volunteered to go all the way to the gates, but advisers stopped him, fearing that would cause a ruckus. Everyone seemed momentarily befuddled. Could the commander in chief not summon a plate of cookies to his table? Finally, Mr. Love ran outside to clear them.

Mr. Love is Reggie Love, whom the NYT calls Obama’s “personal aide.” The job is informally known as “body man.” A politician’s body man — Hillary Clinton has a body woman — is a combination doppelganger, stand-in and walking purse. The body man carries your cell phone and hand sanitizer, gently takes your elbow when you need to be freed from a too-clingy supporter and opens the door for you. The body man frees a big part of your brain for other things.

Remember when George W. Bush, in China, spoiled his exit by trying to open a door that was locked? He should have paid attention to his body man, who was standing by the correct exit.

It goes without saying that the body man has the best seat in the house for watching presidential history in the making, but it takes the right kind of person. If you think you’re too good to fetch a plate of macaroons, it’s not the job for you. On the other hand, note Love’s position in this photo and ask yourself: Would I be willing to carry the Kleenex for this sort of fringe benefit? I would.

It’s a relatively new position in American politics, and I don’t think any have written their memoirs yet. I expect the best ones never will.

Love will be at this year’s seder. Just in case anyone tries to bring unapproved cookies.

So, as long as we’re a little light and gossipy today, someone tell me, maybe someone who follows the gossip columns a little more closely than I do: Is Jennifer Lopez still a diva?* Still buying Creme de la Mer for her ass, still insisting that she be surrounded by her special grapefruit-scented candles at all times? Does she still keep her eyebrow shaper on retainer? Travel with a beauty entourage?

I have to wonder. Not that Lopez is some sort of hagatha at 40, but at some point you have to get over yourself, and if you keep making movies like “The Back-up Plan,” it’s going to come sooner rather than later. Just the trailer — the funniest, most marketable moments of the movie — makes you want to stick your head in the oven. The woman’s capable of doing good work. She did it once (“Selena”) and did it again (“Out of Sight”) so I guess she has it in her. But lord spare us from more rom-coms where the audience is supposed to identify with her in her million-dollar shoes.

Tina Fey — now there’s an everywoman. If she weren’t so busy making television, she could turn out three of these a year and still keep it fresh. I have to watch “30 Rock” on demand, so I can re-run it and catch all the funny lines that slipped past when I was laughing at the last one. This week’s contender was Jack Donaghy’s: “(Irish Catholics) mate for life. Like swans. Like drunken, angry swans.”

“Date Night” — now there’s a romantic comedy. That one I’ll see. Eventually. Maybe I should write one. What do you think of “Body Man” as a title?

Any good bloggage? No. It’s all depressing. Suicide bombers in Moscow, lunatics in the Michigan woods — it’s just not a good day.

So try to have a good one, and I will as well.

* I know I had some comments a few days back about overuse of this word, but I think J-Lo qualifies.

Posted at 10:38 am in Current events, Movies |

69 responses to “You don’t have to be Jewish…”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

    “The best ones never will.”

    Yep. Too bad, sort of.

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  2. moe99 said on March 29, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I’ve just discovered and spent the weekend watching all the Doc Martin episodes that I could fit into my schedule. 30 Rock is next.

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  3. Jeff Borden said on March 29, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Some thoughts on Monday before I dive into my newest semester of graduate school, which means I will return periodically when my eyes glaze over from the accumulation of too much academic jargon:

    1.) The Frank Rich column in yesterday’s NYT should be read by all for its insights into the lunacy of the teabaggers and the general air of anger on the right. I recommend it because his theory mirrors mine, namely, these people are not pissed off about bank bailouts, loans to GM or health care reform. They are pissed off because the world of unquestioned white privilege they knew is no more and it ain’t coming back. Yet the resentment of strong-willed career women, blacks, Hispanics, gays and non-Christians burns bright and hot.

    2.) What is striking about President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan, compared with W., is the complete lack of any military clothing. Remember how W. loved to dress up in his Army jacket with Commander-in-Chief stenciled on his chest, or the infamous flight suit for the “Mission Accomplished” photo gambit? None of that for the O-man. EDIT: Never mind. I just saw a photo from the front and the damned jacket has a huge presidential seal. It looks even more awkward on Obama than it did on W.

    3.) The NCAA basketball tournament is the coolest sporting event in America and the powers that be should not screw around with it in the name of the almighty dollar. Expanding the field to 96 teams is a terrible idea. Meanwhile, go Butler! I love the backstory of the 33-year-old Butler coach, who left a well-paying position at E.I. Lilly to pursue his dream of coaching college basketball.

    4.) Macaroons are overrated.

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  4. moe99 said on March 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Maybe we should all sign up and then derail the cruise. Just daydreamin’

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  5. Nancy Pevey said on March 29, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Andrew Young describes himself as John Edwards’ body man in his memoir “The Politician.” And we know what how far beyond the call of duty Young went!

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  6. Sue said on March 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    We saw “The Blind Side” this weekend. Nice, uplifting movie and I enjoyed it. Sandra Bullock is sassy as all get-out. But really, if this wasn’t an actual, true story I would have figured it for nothing better than a Hallmark Channel bit of nonsense.
    May I be the first to point out, just to get it over with, that yes indeed President Obama did actually try to open a door that wasn’t a door once, too. There. That’s done.
    Here’s some bloggage: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan gets his Irish up about the mean attacks against poor Pope Benedict, and Matt Taibbi finds that annoying.

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  7. brian stouder said on March 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Nance’s concept of “Body Man” as a romantic comedy angle could definitely work; awkward situations, competing loyalties, high-stakes situations that force choices – it’s got it all!

    This past weekend Pam and I watched Lakeview Terrace. We had it on the dvr from some previous free-preview weekend from one of the movie channles, and had never gotten round to seeing it; but after LaBute’s talk, and the intriguing 4 minute clip he shared from the flick, around the racial tensions at an informal dinner party, I was motivated to see it – and it was very good!

    Other than the over-cooked ending, I’d give it 3.5 stars (2.5 stars otherwise); you just cannot go wrong with Sam Jackson

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  8. coozledad said on March 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Sue: Every time I hear mention of Timothy Dolan, I can’t help thinking of Father Dolan from “A Portrait of the Artist…”
    I can just hear him berating the media shitstorm as the work of “Lazy, idle little schemers”.

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  9. Dorothy said on March 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I think being someone’s Body Man or Woman would be an extremely interesting job. I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that’s all I’ve got to say today as I changed my Gravatar but I don’t think it’s gonna show up. We’ll see….

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  10. Sue said on March 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Things were hopping in my neck of the woods recently:
    “Haizel’s girlfriend, who lives with him and their two daughters… told deputies Haizel was drunk and listening to a discussion of health care reform on the radio… Haizel told her they needed to stockpile food because things were going to get ugly after the reform passed… Obama messed with the constitution, the country is becoming communist and he was ‘going to Washington to kill that (expletive)’… continued to drink and yell at the radio… told her he didn’t want his children to see how bad the world was going to be or live in that kind of situation… asked her to wake up the children and talked about having them baptized… sang ‘I will see you in heaven’… He walked toward a deputy and fired at him… that deputy and another returned fire [wounding Haizel]… deputies found 12 shell casings from a .45 automatic and 19 shell casings from a 7.62 caliber rifle… 6,500 rounds of ammunition were found in the home.”
    Wonder what radio show he was listening to?

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  11. Deborah said on March 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    So my right wing sister sent me an e-mail today saying that the new healthcare bill doesn’t really address getting children covered who have pre-existing conditions, that the Dems thought it did, which she says proves the bill got passed too soon and without enough review. Is that true? Sounds like something totally bogus that she probably read on Michelle Malkin’s blog or something. Did anybody out there hear anything about this, I sure haven’t until today from my sister, who I consider a pretty unreliable source?

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  12. Jeff Borden said on March 29, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    She may have been referring to a story I saw on the Raw Story site the other day about a young couple who were denied insurance for their newborn because of a “pre-existing condition” since the child was born with some kind of medical problem.

    The blogs that have followed this issue diligently and with plenty of criticism for the Democrats along the way, ie., Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo, have reported nothing about this. I cannot believe they would not be all over it if this were true.

    It’s a big day for terrorism with the subway bombings in Moscow, most likely linked to the Chechen movement, and the arrests of those Armageddon-loving loons in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, who were looking to start killing police officers, presumably in the name of Jesus Christ. The stories I’ve read about the Hutaree movement suggests they have studied the lessons of other terrorists well: They planned to kill a police officer, then attack the funeral procession of cops that always follows a brother officer to the cemetery. Lovely people.

    Meanwhile, defenders of the One True are casting the latest allegations of horrific abuse and child rape dating back 40 years and involving some of the youngest and most innocent of God’s creatures as an effort to financially shake down the church and damage its moral leadership. Of course, the NYT is a villain, too, for showcasing that terrible case involving more than 200 deaf kids in Wisconsin on Page One.

    While I feel tremendous sympathy for the vast majority of clergy who truly try to do the right thing, I honestly don’t recognize the Catholic Church any more.

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  13. baldheadeddork said on March 29, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    @ Jeff Borden: When the commander in chief visits a military unit he is traditionally given a military-style jacket or hat that has the presidential seal and the emblem or name of that unit. This has been a tradition for a long time and the president will wear it when meeting with the troops. Bush took it a lot farther than most in using it as a prop for televised speeches and media photo ops. But that is something the Obama administration has rolled back as the pictures from this trip show.

    Our sader menu:

    Mixed greens salad with feta cheese, candied walnuts, cranberries and mandarin orange slices, with raspberry vinaigrette dressing

    Eggplant mushroom bisque

    Herb-rubbed salmon roast with portabello mushrooms, roma tomatoes and provelone cheese

    Quinoa salad

    Flourless chocolate cake

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  14. Deborah said on March 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Researching my sister’s claim I found an article in the NYTimes dated Mar 28, by Robert Pear, headline reads “Coverage Now for Sick Children: Check Fine Print”. Naturally the Insurance companies are trying to weasel out of doing it. I knew they would. I don’t think it proves it’s a bad bill. What it proves to me is that we definitely need Universal Healthcare because the insurance companies will always try to find a way to weasel out of it. It doesn’t mean they absolutely can but we can bet they’ll try. Anyway the article was saying that it might be possible for insurance companies to avoid doing it now but in 2014 they won’t be able to.

    Here’s the link:

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  15. nancy said on March 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Just saw this during my lunch break. Congratulations, Fort Wayne, you’re officially more broadminded and tolerant than Stephenville, Texas.

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  16. brian stouder said on March 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Woo Hoo!!

    That probably puts us neck-and-neck with Lahore, Pakistan!

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  17. ROgirl said on March 29, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Breaking news: some bullshit happening somewhere,16928/

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  18. paddyo' said on March 29, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Speaking of body men, wasn’t that the role that Dule Hill had (“Charlie”) on “The West Wing”? By IMDB’s count, he was in more episodes than all but six of the cast members.

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  19. Julie Robinson. said on March 29, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I’m late to the party today but want to chime in on behalf of 30 Rock, one of only two TV shows I watch, the other being Glee. I totally get the humor and it’s always a laugh-fest, and who doesn’t need that these days? Alas it gets poor ratings and my liking a show is usually the kiss of death.

    Seders on Maundy Thursday were very popular in the 70’s and 80’s and I’ve been to quite a few. For me, they enhanced Holy Week by better understanding its context as part of Passover, and they were always done with great reverence.

    We have belatedly become part of the cultural shift this weekend, as Netflix started streaming movies through the Wii. We’ve experimented with several other streaming methods and been unsatisfied with picture quality or clunkiness. The Wii interface is not perfect but the picture was amazing and there were no hiccups in streaming. For the first time, I truly understood what the movie studios must fear; why would you ever buy a DVD when you can pull it up from the web at will? The drawback is that I’m not real excited about having a game console in my living room.

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  20. Jolene said on March 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Deborah: Thanks for answering your own question re kids and pre-existing conditions. To amplify, insurance companies are saying that they recognize that they have to cover pre-existing conditions if the kid already has a policy, but they don’t believe they have to sell new policies that would cover such kid. The Dems are furious, and are saying that the HHS secretary will write rules that indicate that the legislative intent was to make insurance available to such kids right away.

    There may be court challenges, and it could be that they’ll need to create a legislative fix. But I don’t think this objection will be allowed to stand.

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  21. Deborah said on March 29, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    ROgirl, bullshit happens link was timely for me, very funny. My right-wing sister is trying to whip me into a frenzy because the healthcare bill won’t help my daughter immediately (an adult with a pre-existing condition). I’m just so glad that she will eventually get insurance, I don’t really care that it’s not immediate. Don’t get me wrong it would certainly be nice if she could get insurance now but I’m not busting a gut irate about it. Actually when I think about it, I’m positively thrilled knowing that it’s down the road for her. My sister is also trying to get me mad about the cost, when she never said word one about the surplus being turned into a major deficit during the Bush years. Oh geez, I’m doing it again, I’m letting her take up residence in my head, rent free.

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  22. Sue said on March 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    And these are the companies we have to rely on because the public option is such an unacceptable alternative. The insurance companies these last several months have basically sat back and said “make me”, and it looks like that’s the plan of action for the foreseeable future. Kid gets denied insurance? Can’t afford that heart surgery? Have a bake sale, loser.

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  23. Little Bird said on March 29, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    It’s okay Deborah, my other aunt has been taking up space in MY head for quite a few days now.

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  24. Jolene said on March 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Deborah: By midsummer, your daughter will be able to buy health insurance. The feds will establish a high-risk pool for people who can’t otherwise get insurance.

    Companies will be required to sell policies under the same terms that apply to anyone else, and they will have to take everyone. There’s $5 billion in the Affordable Care Act to subsidize these policies, so that they’ll only be as outrageously expensive as the policies sold to people w/o pre-existing conditions.

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  25. Jolene said on March 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Addendum: The high-risk pools are supposed to be operative by July 1, and they’ll remain in effect until January 1, 2014.

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  26. Sue said on March 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Jolene: then why dig in their heels like this? If insurance companies cannot do this, and I’m assuming they’ve got the best legal counsel money can buy who would have told them by now that it’s a losing battle, what possible advantage do they have by announcing that they will continue to refuse coverage not just to Americans but to American children? What could possibly be the up side to what in every other business case would be a PR nightmare?

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  27. Julie Robinson. said on March 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Ridiculously high rates, indeed. Our premiums last year were $9200, for group health insurance which was partially subsidized by DH’s employer. We are especially happy about the adult children provision, since our son currently has no insurance as a part-time college student. But still, how many families can afford these rates?

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve been wanting all day to toss in that my cousin Jeff B.’s point 1) on Frank Rich’s column would, actually, get my hearty agreement, with an important caveat.

    There’s a major push to make the Tea Party folk appear uniformly racist and vile and beyond the fringe of polite society. That’s a neat partisan strategy that doesn’t carry much water very far. I’d actually intensify it, and point out that for most of the Tea party adherents, there’s a frothy brew of class anxiety and ongoing loss of status which includes, but is in no wise limited to fearfulness of ethnic minority groups.

    Pastors these last couple decades have been taking it in the teeth in the mainline/oldline Protestant denominations, usually with long, drawn out board meetings where the status of said cleric’s lawn or children’s behavior or when they last visited great-aunt Hattie at her home. But the real energy behind the ongoing tension is usually this — my kids, my grandkids, they don’t call, they don’t write, and they aren’t looking like their lives are going to be appreciably better than me and Edna had it. We have to talk into these blasted answering machines whenever we call you, and when I need pills, I can’t punch the buttons of the phone fast enough to not get chided by an infuriatingly neutral computer voice.

    The clerks all can’t make change, and ask me if I want to “swipe,” which seems pretty darn personal, and they’re tearing down the last place I used to go eat with Edna before she died. It’s not like I have anything against colored folk, one of my best friends in the service was a colored boy from down in Mississippi, and he was a fine soldier; this Obama fellow is probably a good thing for the country, but what I don’t get is that the mayor has an ear-ring, for pity’s sake, the governor doesn’t even pretend to go to church, and the senators all cuss like sailors. I’m sure Sen. Dirksen or Pres. Nixon didn’t swear like that (cue the “Animal House” line: don’t stop him, he’s on a roll).

    So what I’m trying to say (Jeff TMMO again) is that there’s a whole generation that went from knowing exactly who had which role, what the paths to success were and how far, within a couple of streets or neighborhoods, that path could take them. They could fix their own kitchen equipment and cars, and they knew face to face most of their infrastructure from bankers to insurance agents. They now cannot understand how almost anything they use works on a basic, repairable level, and the cultural references around them are utterly undecodable to them.

    They can’t fix any of that, but what they can do is dig their heels in as deeply as they can and say at church “No more.” Change anything, and we will rise up and smite you like we did the Nazis and Tojo’s boys. There’s a silent generation, coming between them, the WWII Gen and the Boomers, that is just now starting to slip up to and over 70, and they will make up the only cohort to not have a President (McCain was their last shot, basically, and it’s not gonna happen now), and they somewhat feebly have echoed (sorry, Dad) of the scripts of those who went before them.

    I think the Tea Party folk are largely the WWII Gen, the Silents, and those of the Boomer generation who have lived out their lives fairly conformist to their elders, and who are now channeling the last gasps of their frustrations and furies over feeling that they cannot engage their world or culture anymore, at least on their terms. To write them off as mere racists is to miss a number of points of contact where they can be reasoned with, and we need more of them inside the dialogue than we now have.

    The Gen X and after folk are going to be fascinating to watch politically, since they grew up assuming that no one really understands how their cars, computers, thermostats, or ingredient lists works, but that doesn’t stop you from interacting with them. Take it apart now, figure out how it works or if it can be repaired later — Chilton? Who he? That makes them look like reckless wreckers to the older folk, but it’s how they roll.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Julie — the real driver behind passing some kind of reform this year is that your question is non-relevant, in a way. Most people are not “paying” those rates, but someone is. $9,000 isn’t that bad, generally speaking. Health care insurance costing more than steel & electronics in a car made in America, or clergy group insurance for a family costing $12,000 to $18,000 — you can say you’re paying it, or not, but the reality is that it’s coming out of the pot marked “total cost of employment.” One of the best things about this debate is that more people are thinking about what health care insurance currently costs, and for those who don’t pay for it directly, it’s still getting paid, and that number is impacting your wage rates whether you know it or not. Of the 80% who do have insurance, I think $9,000 would be under the average per household amount that’s paid out . . . by someone.

    The vast majority of clergy compensation packages have been going more and more to HCI since ’85, which almost necessarily means the cash salary is going down. But nothing has been more frustrating these last twenty-five years than the number of board meetings where someone with a full benefits package and a salary of $50,000 say of their pastor who is paid $30,000: “hey, we’re paying you $60,000” because in a small-medium church the total of salary, pension, and HCI (and often auto mileage, even when you beg them to list it differently) is often a single line item of “pastor’s salary package.”

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  30. Sue said on March 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Here ya go, MMJeff:

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  31. Bob (not Greene) said on March 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    And then there’s these guys. Probably too loony even for the Tea Party crowd. Right? I agree with Jeff that the anger of tea baggers and such (I think the militia groups are actually the absolute lunatic fringe of a lunatic movement) is less about “the government” than it is about white folks’ loss of power and status.

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  32. Jeff Borden said on March 29, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Jeff TMMO,

    I think we are pretty much on the same page vis-a-vis the motivations of the Tea Party movement. I am not writing them off as racists, though an appallingly large number of racist signs and chants have been seen and heard over the past year. Saying they “want their country back” doesn’t necessarily mean they want black people on the back of the bus, Hispanics confined to the orchards and gays arrested on morals charges. I understand they are pining for an America they know will never return and one that, while it may have been glorious for them, was not at all pleasant for many other fellow citizens.

    And yet. . .

    These same folks were mute when the last administration was playing hide ‘n’ seek with the Constitution, tapping phone lines and e-mail accounts without supervision, allowing the president to sidestep laws and regulations he didn’t like through his executive orders, ignoring habeas corpus, etc.

    What’s a greater assault on your freedom, Jeff TMMO? Being required to buy health insurance or letting the government jail anyone the president declares an enemy combatant –including American citizens– without recourse to a lawyer or even family members?

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  33. Julie Robinson. said on March 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Jeff tmmo, add an anti-immigrant rant and you have perfectly channeled my mom, who at 77 is mightily pissed that her generation didn’t get a President. Thank goodness she’s too uptight to attend a rally. DH always has to calm me down after I’ve been on the phone with Mom.

    And to clarify, that 9K is our portion of the premiums. I’m quite aware it’s not the total, and I’m grateful it’s available at all since it does represent a partial subsidy.

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  34. Jeff Borden said on March 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Bob (not Greene) Thank God,

    You can find the mug shots of the Hutaree loons at They look pretty much like you think they’d look, ie., halfwits. One dude is even sporting a mid-1980’s mullet.

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  35. Sue said on March 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    MMJeff, my experience on a church council backs up your argument, with one exception: most council members I worked with understood the salary/benefit issues but could not explain it in any way, shape or form that would be acceptable to members. The attitude was similar to what you are describing re health care opponents – ‘it didn’t used to be like this and I’m not accepting it’. Elderly members and anyone making less than the minister’s package were very clear – a minister is not entitled to make more than me. The unconscious contempt for the profession mirrors the common practice of voting down school referendums because ‘the teachers make too much money’.
    Some people cannot be reasoned with, no way, no how.

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  36. Little Bird said on March 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    The last time I tried to get insurance, the company wanted $1000 a month, with a truly outrageous deductible. All because of a pre-existing condition. I simply cannot afford that.

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  37. paddyo' said on March 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    While the two Jeffs work this one out (I admire both your points of view, and they’re really not very far apart at all), I’m reminded of another pop cultural turn on this theme.
    Anybody else remember the 1993 movie “Falling Down,” with Michael Douglas as the bespectacled, crew-cut, just-divorced and just-lost-his-job engineer who finally snaps when faced with a boatload of change-he-can’t-believe-in?

    With apologies to JC of Nazareth, whose big week Christianity marks this week, it’s like with poor: The disenchanted/disgruntled/angry will be with us always.

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  38. moe99 said on March 29, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Glenn Reynolds, right wing law prof at TN, thinks the arrest of the Hutaree was somehow suspicious. In this same vein, I am waiting to hear condemnation of the Hutaree from Republican officials.

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  39. paddyo' said on March 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    P.S. @#37: IMDB says “Falling Down” is “up in popularity 46 percent this week” . . . uh-huh. Must be SOMEbody’s cup of, umm, tea.

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  40. Jeff Borden said on March 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Of course, arresting the Hutarees is suspicious. They’re white. White folks simply cannot be terrorists. Just ask Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

    God, looking at those pictures of the Hutarees, I keep hearing the song about Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel from “The Simpsons” in my head. I’ll wager the number of teeth the nine suspects share is still higher than their mean IQs.

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  41. nancy said on March 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    You know what, though? Big chunks of this country are well-populated with people like this. It’s one reason I get all eye-rolly when people like Rod Dreher go on and on about the wonderful virtues of small-town life. It’s like, have you ever been to Waterloo, Indiana? Kendallville? Their dinky equivalents all over the map? It’s sort of frightening what you see when you drive through these little burgs — the abandoned light-industry factories (all the jobs shipped overseas), the Wal-Mart on the edge of town (filled with People of), the pregnant teenagers, the yellow ribbons for the ones gambling their lives on a hitch in the service for the chance to get some paid-for college. Barack Obama was right when he talked about clinging to guns and religion — in many ways, all the promise of America has passed these towns by. The smart kids move to the nearest city, the dumb ones open meth labs.

    I know I’m painting with a broad brush here, but it’s what I notice whenever we get off the freeways these days.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I’m thinking the Snopes family — Faulkner’s, not the Mikklesons.

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  43. nancy said on March 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Oh, and Jeff TMMO, your geezer’s rant upthread is pretty much the text of a column written by one of my former colleagues a few years back. Basically, it boiled down to: All I ever wanted was to do this job in my hometown, and now it’s all wrong, it’s wrong, I tell you. When did everything change? And who is responsible? So good listening skills there, bub.

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  44. Deborah said on March 29, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Nancy don’t forget about the meth too. Smalltown America is full of it.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Meth is old news — hydroponics, and poorly wired grow-lights, burn down more houses now in our neck of the woods than unattended candles. The cops occasionally go check out homes the power company tells ’em have extremely high electricity consumption, and when they see lots of windows with black plastic taped up over the whole thing, it’s search warrant time.

    But taking pills you’ve swiped from the ‘rents (and grandparents) is still number one.

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  46. Deborah said on March 29, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Are there any people under 50 in the Tea Party. After reading about them it doesn’t seem so.

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  47. jcburns said on March 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Yeah, had some sense of that meth-ness heading south from Athens, OH through Meigs County a week or so ago. Jeez, when they were just the pot growing capital of Ohio it was all much simpler then.

    I’m going to cling to my iPad (this Saturday) and my object-oriented computer languages now.

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  48. moe99 said on March 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Roy Edroso has several good finds here.

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  49. del said on March 29, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with Nance’s post at 41. I’ve had similar thoughts about small town America since Ted Koppel broadcast from Deckerville, MI in the rural “thumb” of MI in the aftermath of Timothy McVeigh & co’s link to the Michigan Militia.
    Gravatar where are you?

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  50. Jean S said on March 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Would be most interesting to see any age info on tea party folks.

    This came up in a related context–an old friend and his partner were out walking around San Francisco (where they live) on Sunday. Got called the F-word twice. Once was in the Castro. (The Castro! holy cow!) During the facebook conversation that followed, another friend said that she thought the problem was with us old farts (50 and older). Her kids and their friends (early 20s) seemed to have more of a live and let live perspective, she thought…

    Yeah, I know: exceptions. Duly noted. My 88-year-old father-in-law is one of the most tolerant and emotionally flexible people I’ve ever met (except when he’s driving the LA freeways).

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  51. Jolene said on March 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Many good comments here. I agree w/ the analysis of the Jeffs, i.e., that all this noise is really about fear of a changing world and the loss of certainty that goes along with it. Racism is part of it, but not, it seems to me of the hard-core white supremacist mode. It’s more, “Who are these people, and what happened to how things used to be?”

    The articles re the tea partiers in the NYT and a recent WaPo piece by Eli Saslow all point to unemployment of the sort that’s not likely to be relieved by an uptick in the economy.

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  52. Deborah said on March 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    LA Mary, I bought a new cologne on my way home from work. I was trying to wash my right-wing sister’s irritating remarks out of my mind so I bought a new Jo Malone fragrance – French Lime Blossom, new to me anyway. I usually go for the more citrus scents but this is more floral with a hint of lime underneath. Perfect for spring. It did the trick for changing my mood.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 29, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Nancy, I mean, JC, we need a scent app for NN.C — this would be good for all of us. If you don’t claim it cures cancer or straightens your spine, I can concede much to the value of aromatherapy. Good smells clear the mind.

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  54. alex said on March 29, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    The articles re the tea partiers in the NYT and a recent WaPo piece by Eli Saslow all point to unem­ployment of the sort that’s not likely to be relieved by an uptick in the economy.

    Yeah, placing people like that in the work force would require the intervention of a well-funded nanny state that pays for mental health care and sterilizations and keeps them on their psych meds. I’m afraid Obamacare will fall short in that regard, but optimistic that the GOP will recognize the folly of enfranchising the deinstitutionalized and their spawn and let the liberals craft a more merciful plan for their care and feeding on the public dole. Like it used to be.

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  55. LAMary said on March 29, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Deborah, Jo Malone makes great things. Lime blossom is nice stuff. I know it well. I’m liking Chloe Neroli right now. I was out sniffing last weekend.

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  56. Kirk said on March 29, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    McClatchy Newspapers reports:

    WASHINGTON — Under fire from both the right and the left, the Republican National Committee is investigating how and why it spent nearly $2,000 for “meals” at a bondage-themed strip club in West Hollywood featuring topless dancers simulating lesbian sex.
    The GOP confirmed Monday that it reimbursed a California consultant for $1,946 spent at Voyeur, a high-end bar/lounge that’s described on one Web site as “classic slutty.”

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  57. brian stouder said on March 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    It’s one rea­son I get all eye-rolly when peo­ple like Rod Dreher go on and on about the won­der­ful virtues of small-town life.

    What Nance says here encapsulates much.

    First, Rod Dreher – and Sarah Palin’s remarks about “the real America” in the last presidential campaign – are based on what? Small-town life seems to be code for “where you can give voice to laughably mis-informend opinion (or outright prejudice) in public and expect nodding agreement or (at worst) mild (silent)disagreement”.

    I don’t claim any moral superiority – I’m as ignorant an oaf as the next guy – but one thing that benefitted me was a huge fight that Fort Wayne had back in the ’70’s (and since) about desegregation of the schools. It’s all too easy to miss the critical importance of exposure to folks who do things differently, or who look different, or who have different cultural tastes or names or traditions or touchstones.

    This is “top of mind” for me just now because I was reading the paper the other day and do you know what I saw? A “guest column” by Anne Rickert, who was my 4th grade teacher, almost 40 years ago, when John S Irwin was almost entirely white. (For 5th grade, I was sent to Weisser Park, which was 90% non-white; this was before desegregation, aka “the good ol’ days”)

    Ms Rickert apparently doesn’t think much of our current superintendent, Dr Wendy Robinson*, but I really (really) like Robinson, since she is home-grown as opposed to head-hunted like several of her truly empty-suited predecessors; I think friend-of Nance and school board president Mark GiaQuinta deserves an “atta boy” for her hiring (or at least her retention). Anyway, at some point desgregation came to Irwin, and Ms Rickert went to an out-lying FWCS school (the apparently apty named Pleasant Center school) to finish her career.

    I was braced for this sentiment, and yet it still upset me:

    Pleasant Center Elementary School is also on the list of possible school closings. This school is very dear to my heart because I taught fourth and fifth grade there for 13 years. It was a wonderful school for the first three years I was there, but due to forced busing and the influx of many special needs children, the entire atmosphere changed. This was not all bad, but there were many new challenges to students, teachers and administrators. Less emphasis was on actual learning and more on discipline and emotional needs of students.

    Many bused students were forced to get up early in the dark and wait for the bus much earlier than they would have if they walked to their neighborhood school. FWCS emphatically refuses to even consider sending children back to their neighborhood schools because it would be an impossible task to accomplish. Forced busing is no longer required for schools and many systems have stopped the practice. One has to ask what has been accomplished by spending millions of dollars each year. Are students more tolerant of their differences?

    Did you catch that? “forced busing” is “no longer required”; Mission Accomplished, don’t you know?

    If I had the power to make one decree, it would be to make the school district county-wide, and then proceed to balance the district’s schools (by race and economic status)

    In for a penny, in for a pound

    *don’t know about her doctorate, but she is genuinely sharp

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  58. Colleen said on March 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Brian: Here’s a gem from the RANTS section of the N-S: “Those Elmhurst kids should not have to be bused to minority inner-city schools, as they will be in danger.”

    Really. People really think that way. And express it. In public, albeit anonymously.

    Some days I just shake my head.

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  59. Julie Robinson. said on March 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Fort Wayne Community Schools fought desegregation with everything it had; I remember a superintendent who boasted of a million dollars spent on legal fees. Sadly, his name is on a building downtown. This had a big impression on me as a new resident and was part of the reason we opted to send our daughter to a Lutheran school. The other was the huge difference in the students–at the one they were still learning their letters, at the other they were fluently reading full sentences. Superior academics won for us, and we made huge financial sacrifices to pay the tuition. I rejoice that, due to those lawsuits, better choices are available today for our students, who are the future of the community.

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  60. Jolene said on March 30, 2010 at 12:57 am

    NPR has reported that the insurance companies have caved w/ regard to covering kids w/ pre-existing conditions immediately after receiving a sternly worded letter from Secretary Sebelius.

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  61. Dexter said on March 30, 2010 at 3:24 am

    We have all seen the documentaries of Black folk riding trains north to join the ranks of the factory worker trades in the 1930s, then when everything went really bad in the 1980s, the papers were full of “reverse migration” stories, frequently highlighting how many Afro-Americans were settling in Charlotte and especially Atlanta.
    I never read anything about any white reverse migration, as a movement. When the African Americans moved north on trains from the deep south, Appalachian whites drove cars north from Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky to work in factories. Some moved north to escape a life in the coal mines . I worked with many such people.
    I used to read how the Ohio counties of Appalachia were the poorest, but just a little over a year ago, my county, Williams, had the worst employment numbers in the state of Ohio. Now we are fifth or so, last I checked, but we wore the title as worst for a few months.
    My daughter left here years ago and built a house in Columbus, where work in her field is plentiful. It seems all her friends left here for Columbus or Cincinnati or Chicago. A couple weeks ago the Indiana edition of the FW Journal-Gazette ran a story of how Bryan, Ohio lost another 138 jobs as yet another factory closed. Every good-news story of expanding production lines ends up with more layoffs in a few months in the few places of work here.
    Of course there are people doing well here…our hospital is completing a $62 million expansion…but it is over for the working man here, and has been for a long time.
    Nance mentioned Waterloo again. A couple months the Auburn Star ran a story about Covington Box, who was featuring a new item:
    burnable caskets for cremation. A real hot seller. Fancy decorated cardboard boxes. Cheap way to check out.

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  62. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 30, 2010 at 7:58 am

    For years, in SE Ohio it’s been Columbus or Charlotte, Orlando or Oklahoma/north Texas. The last couple years, it’s just been Columbus. Post a janitor position and watch 300 resumes roll in. Short move, relatively cheap housing, and you still have a little family safety net.

    What we get more of the last year+ at the Housing Coalition has been folk who graduated Newark High School years ago, and moved down to Bham or Tallahassee or Fort Myers, and they moved back, but the first stage of the reboot back home didn’t work out as planned (job fell thru, divorce, family fight after you co-housed with ’em a few months), so you’re looking for help. Which, for now, we’ve still got a bit of.

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  63. John said on March 30, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Can we get a report from LA Mary about Voyeur? Is it worth the 2k for an evening’s outing?

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  64. MichaelG said on March 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Here’s the low down on both the insurance industry dust up over covering kids and strip club Repubs.

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  65. coozledad said on March 30, 2010 at 9:41 am

    It could have been a lot worse for Steele among the Republican base. Instead of taking “The Young Eagles” to the Voyeur, he could have sprung for “The Young Voyeurs” to visit the Eagle.

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  66. Dorothy said on March 30, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Our LAMary gets around pretty well, but here’s hoping she’s not overly familiar with Voyeur!

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  67. John said on March 30, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Dorothy, I’m not asking for firsthand knowledge. But I’m guessing she knows someone who knows someone, that’s all.

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  68. LAMary said on March 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I probably do know someone who has been to Voyeur. Or maybe I was married to someone once who would be familiar with Voyeur, but I’ve never been there. My life is pretty low key. I don’t party like those wild Republican mainstream values guys. I work 11 hours a day, cook dinner, watch Jeopardy, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and last night, the end of Dancing With the Stars. That last half hour would have been better spent asleep.

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  69. del said on March 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    LA Mary, I saw some of ICarly on Nick last night and can never look at the girl who plays Carly without thinking of your comment about actors having large heads — Lollipop people, as you described them.

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