Fly away, little bird.

I guess you guys are all waiting for a new entry, so we can start the day’s comment-thread conversation. I don’t have a lot to say at the moment, having spent the last 10 minutes watch the cardinals eat safflower seeds at the feeder. Last winter, they were timid, and would let the sparrows’ superior numbers push them away. Now, they fight back; a particular female has been eating casually for a few minutes now, making threat displays to any finch or sparrow who dares to land on the platform with her. Alan thinks they’ve learned; I think it has more to do with mating season, and the need to hoard scarce food resources.

And you might think: This is so boring I may die. Sorry. An erratic sleep cycle was further disrupted by the need to rise at oh-dark-forty and pack Kate off on a two-day class trip to Our Nation’s Capital ™. The bus pulled out at 5 a.m., bound for Detroit Metro and a 7 a.m. flight to Baltimore. This is an eighth-grade tradition at her middle school, although only about 50 kids are going. I have to assume cost is the reason; even in an affluent district, $700 for a whirlwind speed-tour of monuments might be a pinch to many pockets. We committed and made payments over several months; we don’t travel enough as a family, and like Sinclair Lewis, I believe travel is so broadening. For a kid, travel made apart from parents is even more so. I am reminded of Anthony Soprano Jr., returning from a similar trip, and reporting his most overwhelming impression: “They had PlayStation 2 right in the hotel room.”

Early on, I hoped to go as a chaperone, but it is a parent-free trip — only teachers. Anyway, I couldn’t keep up with the pace, and there doesn’t look to be a spare five minutes in the schedule to, say, meet with your many internet correspondents and have a drink. Although I would have happily scratched the Newseum visit for that.

So for now, I’m just happy they are going ahead of the shutdown.

Let’s jump to the bloggage. Disrupted sleep or no, I still have work to do.

I’ve mentioned here before that Michigan has a form of Vouchers Lite in its public schools. Not 100 percent school choice, but districts are able to vote themselves open to students who live outside their boundaries, and those kids bring their per-pupil state funding with them. (Our district isn’t one of them; if it were possible to put walls and moats around it, I’m sure the residents would happily build them.) One of the things this leads to is marketing by districts, who try to catch the favor of the invisible hand with radio and TV ads touting their advantages. And in one case, it’s looking as though it led to $400,000 disappearing down a rathole in an already desperately poor district that watched its enrollment fall by 50 percent over the time it was paying a company to attract students. Nice investigative work by the Freep there.

I was never a Glenn Beck viewer, so I always heard accounts of his lunacy thirdhand. Dana Milbank explains how utterly off the rails he’s gone in recent months, including two weeks ago…

…when he devoted his entire show to a conspiracy theory about various bankers, including the Rothschilds, to create the Federal Reserve. To make this case, Beck hosted the conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who has publicly argued that the anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “accurately describes much of what his happening in our world today.”

These guys were prevalent when I was doing talk radio in the early ’90s in crazy, right-wing Fort Wayne. Until I sat behind a microphone, I had never heard of this stuff. At the time, they struck me as antiques, like those Japanese sailors who crouched in Pacific island caves for years and hadn’t heard the war was over. Guess not.

Lance Mannion finds a new metaphor for Paul Ryan’s budgetary technique.

Off to work.

Posted at 11:00 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

44 responses to “Fly away, little bird.”

  1. Carolyn said on April 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Great for Kate that she’s off to Washington! The school system here in Palm Beach County also does the traditional parent-free DC trip. Bonnie went one January not so long ago. Before she left, I took my Florida girl to buy a winter coat. The checkout gang at Target stopped what they were doing long enough to recall their own school days visits and the train ride to the capital city. It’s absolutely a memory that sticks.

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  2. Mark P. said on April 7, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Most of the nutjobs that are on (or call) talk radio or are big stars on Fox used to show up really late at night on weird radio frequencies. Back then they talked about flying saucers, alien visitations, anal probing and government conspiracies. For some reason they have dropped the first two of those topics, but they are pretty keen on the other two.

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  3. coozledad said on April 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

    If they stop at at the National Gallery, that alone will be worth it. One of the best collections there is. Particularly the Ingres and the High Renaissance stuff. Lots more than that, though.

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  4. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

    1. Birdies are nice and fun to watch. No boredom here.
    2. I was really concerned when my daughter went on her 8th grade Washington trip. It didn’t seem that there was nearly enough supervision of a bunch of flighty middle-school kids. She’s 26 and she still talks about that trip, not the crazy things that they did but how cool Mt. Vernon was etc. etc. This from a kid whose report cards consistently included the notation “socializing inhibits progress” or something similar. So, good for you working hard to get her there.
    3. We have a similar setup here regarding school choice. Surprisingly, it seems that it’s not academics that influences a lot of the decisions to move kids – it’s sports programs.
    4. If I could go off topic here a little, I must say there’s something obscene about a government shutdown that will continue to pay the people who are shutting it down but deny paychecks to military people.

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  5. Jeff Borden said on April 7, 2011 at 11:26 am


    Amen. I’ve been arguing the bastards in Congress who oppose HCR ought to give up their platinum-plated, taxpayer-funded health coverage and get out here in the real world with the constituents, but that’s too much sacrifice for our right-wing friends. Good Lord, even a salary of $174K is not enough to make ends meet for one of our conservative representatives, poor dear.

    The next time I hear a right-winger preaching about deficit reduction, I’m going to throw up on them, then ask why a budget deal is being derailed by the usual Republican bugaboos: abortion and the EPA. Clearly, it’s far more important to invade a woman’s uterus or allow industries to throw even more shit into the air than it is to whittle down the debt.


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  6. Suzanne said on April 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

    There used to be a guy on the radio (WGL in Fort Wayne, I think)who broadcast from somewhere in Florida. He was a hoot. He was sure Bush would beat Clinton in the presidential election due to an “October Surprise” in which aliens would attack the US and George would beat ’em back. He also tried selling short wave radios made in the good old USA, but apparently, they didn’t work.

    We have the school district to school district open enrollment thing in my neck of the woods. The one district is well regarded and seems to be growing, but they only take the upper echelons of transfer students, which I see happening with the voucher thing. Sure, you can come to my church school and bring your state money with you, but only if you meet these very strict guidelines. Although I wonder what middle America’s opinion of school vouchers will be when people want to use tax money to send their kids to the local Muslim or Polygamist Sect’s school.

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  7. mark said on April 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Amazing story from the Freep. Even more amazing that there was no story until one democrat sued another over an election result. Hard to believe this kind of stuff happens when everybody wears the Union label and pledges fealty to the good political party.

    It was probably that pursuit of the nasty “invisible hand” that drove these good liberals to make such mistakes.

    The Freep had an interesting tea party story I hadn’t seen before, too.

    I’m sure the explanation for all of this is the nasty people who hold conservative ideas, and the failure of more people to express pure hatred for them.

    Power corrupts, folks. And one-party power corrupts the most.

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  8. nancy said on April 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Mark: Agreed. I’m only pointing out the rich opportunities for corruption the situation creates.

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  9. mark said on April 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Thanks, nancy. Hope my comment wasn’t too sharp. It does appall me that board members and administrators watched this much money go out the window for 4 years and nobody made a fuss until they had a dispute about their own positions and power. Plenty of examples of republican orchestrated corruption out there as well. One of the reasons I prefer smaller government.

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  10. Jenny said on April 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

    i’m glad kate got the chance to go to washington. she’ll have a ball. it’s a neat place even for kids.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on April 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Yes, Mark, usually union members piss gasoline and crap diamonds, too, while they walk on water and cure the blind. This is clearly an anomaly.

    This “both parties are bad” argument is fun over a couple of beers, but not so amusing to the millions of people in the crosshairs of conservative politicians who seek nothing less than a return to the 1890s. The GOP has declared war on working men and women. The party isn’t even subtle about it. Good Lord, read Paul Ryan’s proposal. As usual among conservatives, it redirects massive amounts of money upwards to those already fat and wealthy while punishing the lower- and middle-class.

    That’s the modern GOP. “I got mine. Fuck everyone else.”

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  12. moe99 said on April 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I’d love to have a working two party system but as long as the Republicans’ only strategy is “my way or the highway,” it ain’t gonna work. The Republicans have NO realistic counter proposals ; witness Paul Ryan’s attempt to kill Medicare using phony numbers and lying about Alice Rivlin endorsing the plan.

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  13. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

    mark: you mean one-party power like the stated intention a few years ago for a ‘permanent Republican majority’? I couldn’t agree more. The best way to combat this on both sides is for voters to make sure they are both well-informed and suspicious. The suspicious part seems easy enough to accomplish, the well-informed part less so.
    And I like you better when you’re not being snarky. When you’re not being sarcastic and snarky I find you irritating – because we share different viewpoints, not because you’re actually irritating – and that source of irritation is usually because you make a decent argument. Snarky mark is just irritating, without any of the ‘damn, he has a point’ validation.

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  14. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    mark – see? Like comment number 9.

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  15. del said on April 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    The “when I was doing talk radio” link, a classic.

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  16. Hank Stuever said on April 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Oh, Nance — please come to DC someday!

    I hope Kate has a great time. Is it too late to text her and remind her and the rest of the class to not take up the entire width of the sidewalk everywhere they go (aka Wizard of Oz-ing)? And stand to the right on escalators, so us Type-A elites can dart right past on the, ahem, left? (We’re late for work — there are values to reject and an America to undermine.)

    Also, wonder if they could pack out what they pack in as a huge favor to those of us living under Taxation Without Representation — I hear we’re going to be without garbage collection during the shutdown.

    We’re in the high season of middle-school field trips here. It’s fascinating to watch on the streets. In a class of, say, 25 students, about 14 are always looking at their smartphones. One or two are clinging to the adult, having been ostracized by the peer group for some inane, post-cootie infraction. And about five of them are REALLY INTO IT, looking around and pointing out all the beauty and monumentalness. Those kids usually wind up going to GW and interning at the State Dept.

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  17. nancy said on April 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Hank, I was really, really hoping for a principal’s edict banning all phones from the trip, but no — I think parents would object, and since so many kids rely on phones as timepieces/alarms, it would be impossible to stick to the schedule without them. Kate’s isn’t smart, but it does get texts, which by today’s standards is like equipping her with a car without a radio, i.e., the bare minimum.

    I’ve already resolved not to call, and to text her maybe once, and maybe not at all. There’s a smart Style essay in the smartphone trance, of which I’m as guilty as anyone. They do make waiting for a slow-coming meal at a restaurant an opportunity to catch up on the news. On the other hand….

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  18. Catherine said on April 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Hank, I’m cracking up. I did a DC week my senior year in HS (Presidential Classroom, if that’s still around) and that was my EXACT plan when I came back — Go to GW and intern at the State Department.

    I hope Kate has a great time and learns a lot both intellectually and emotionally. I sure did.

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  19. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Wizard-of-Oz-ing. I knew there had to be a name for that!

    By the way, not to intentionally irritate cousin Jeff B. on the “both sides are equally obtuse” front, but there are highlights of the current House debate available: (no, it’s not Rick Astley, I promise).

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  20. Judybusy said on April 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I so agree travel prepares one for the world today. As a senior in HS, I went to Germany as a German class trip–I sold a lot of candy over four years to defray costs–and the best part was a family stay. Even more impactful, we had a Brazilian exchange student my junior year. We conviced my dad I had to go back with her. I lived with her family for two months in Brasilia and Rio. I had come straight from the farm and had visited Minneapolis twice. They were quite wealthy, so that was part of the whole experience. These trips changed what I ate, how I saw the world, what music I love, and made me somewhat trilingual. I’ve gone back to Brazil twice, but haven’t made it to Germany yet.

    In June, I’m taking my oldest niece to Italy for a graduation present. I hope she gets bitten by the travel bug as well. We’ll be in the Cinque Terra and Rome. She’s interested in all the ruins and architechture. I’ll encourage her not to be constantly on the smartphone, so that she can really BE there. However, there won’t be a power struggle. It’s gotta be her experience. I’ve learned some Italian, and have taught her how to ask for gelato, so she’s pretty set.

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  21. bobolink said on April 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I have an awesome, blue-ribbon middle school and have stretched to have my kids go on the DC trip. They do it over Memorial Day so it is a bit longer, but the pace is relentless! The pre-trip curriculum is well fashioned and the kids get to see much of what they’d been reading about. I always send them with the name and story of the POW from our street growing up, whose bracelet we all wore, and who was never found. It makes the moving Vietnam Memorial even more so. My one girl really was impressed with the FDR Memorial … I’ve never seen it. In any event, very strong memories for all, well worth the $$ (especially since I wasn’t getting them there!) Now, if there could be a National Parks tour …

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  22. bobolink said on April 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    One of my daughters’ friends went to Italy for Spring Break. I recommended she read The Agony and the Ectasty by Irving Stone before she went. It is a 1961 historical fiction of the life of Michaelangelo I read before my first trip in 7th grade. The history of art and the sacrifices of the artist really bring it home when you see the works. The mom of this girl is a reader, so read it too, and then had her husband read it. This recent vindication makes me confidently recommend it to you and your niece. What a wonderful trip you will have!

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  23. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Wisconsin Supreme Court race:
    revised numbers in one county take away Kloppenburg’s lead and now give Prosser a 40 vote lead.
    So does that mean there will be no more talk of voter fraud?

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  24. Rana said on April 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Judybusy, you can remind her that using US cellphones in other countries is usually really expensive – it may be that her smartphone isn’t afflicted by that problem, but it does exist for many carriers.

    I never did the trip-to-Washington thing; my travels were either camp or camping as a kid, with the foreign travel waiting until I was in grad school. (I don’t feel I suffered; camping and backpacking in Death Valley and the Grand Canyon were much more my style.)

    My brother did go on a trip to D.C., which he enjoyed. However, the details that stood out the most in his retelling of the trip were not the sights but the massive piles of steamtable scrambled eggs they were fed, and his delight in his and his friends’ being accidentally assigned the room that had been intended for their adult chaperons – until the mistake was realized, they had access to the full cable that had been shut off in the “for students” rooms.

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  25. mark said on April 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    The FDR memorial is pretty great. I was there two weeks ago. Best view of the cherry blossoms is from FDR’s spot.

    Also made my first trip to the National Cathedral. Beautiful use of all that Indiana limestone.

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  26. mark said on April 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Ground troops in Libya?

    I hope this guy is just trying to get fired, and not reflecting WH thinking.

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  27. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Now Kloppenburg is up by about 18.
    This is just amazing.
    edit: I have a conservative friend who voted for Kloppenburg after much soul-searching but wasn’t happy about it. It was a hard decision for him, and he joked yesterday when the first numbers came out, ‘She’d better not win by one, that’s all I can say’. Now it doesn’t seem that funny.

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  28. Jessica said on April 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    At least part of their visit falls before the shutdown, so they’ll be able to see some stuff. I hope every parent who has scraped together $700 and finds that much of it was wasted on visiting a National Capital where the good stuff was closed due the shutdown votes out the spoiled children in Congress who made that happen. I hope every kid who experiences that keeps it in mind when voting later in life.

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  29. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Latest update: several thousand votes were overlooked in super-red Waukesha County. Looks like it’s over for Kloppenburg.

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  30. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I need a laugh. Has anyone seen the ‘funny or die’ When Harry Met Sally 2 preview? I can’t link, you’ll have to look it up. It’s just perfect. I want to see the movie.

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  31. MarkH said on April 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I thought Kloppenburg WAS the super-red candidate in that race? It appears you’re correct, though, Sue. That county clerk was under heavy criticism for her tallying methods; 7,000 votes is a LOT. News sites now predicting a Prosser win.

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  32. Deborah said on April 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    The Modern Wing of the National Gallery in DC has some great pieces too. I couldn’t figure out why the architect, I.M. Pei, made it out of pinkish grey concrete until I happened to be there on one of my trips when the cherry blossoms were in bloom. A perfect match.

    To me travel is the best education. I’ve been reading stuff lately about what neuroscience is finding out about creativity and innovation. It seems that novel situations activate the brain in healthy ways. Good for you Nancy for sending Kate off to have a great adventure she’ll never forget.

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  33. Sue said on April 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I keep trying to reply to you, MarkH and it keeps disappearing. No, Kloppenburg is the more liberal (blue) candidate, and the one thousands of people have worked really hard to elect (she got only 25 percent of the vote to Prosser’s 50 plus in the primary). With Prosser elected, it’s pretty certain that any budget issues that make it to the State Supreme court will go Walker’s way; Prosser has stated publicly that he and Walker have similar views (‘complement’ the Walker administration).
    It’s a big, big blow to the opposition, both in fact and in spirit.

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  34. moe99 said on April 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Some humor to make up for a shitty day:

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  35. Julie Robinson said on April 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Our school gave us the opportunity to raise most of the money for DC and also had everyone “sleep” on the bus both there and back. Not fun for the adults, but it sure kept the cost down. It was the spring of 2002 and the kids were especially touched by the Tomb of the Unknowns and Arlington Cemetery. Four of the eight boys in the class enlisted in the military. I pray for them every day, along with our son’s other friends in the services. This generation is taking the brunt of these terrible wars.

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  36. Dexter said on April 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I got a rush when I read that Detroitblogger John won the award. Thanks to nance for tipping us bloggers off to this great writer.

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  37. prospero said on April 7, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Sue said on April 7th, 2011 at 4:20 pmThey will sheat. Duyahoga County. The Diebold Pretx;edemt promised he would cheat, and he did. Kerry got jobbed and it’s pretty obvious. There were precincts so obviously jacked it was hilatious. Clarke Co on Georfia, Where the University is, voted for W. Not in a billion years, Somebody jacked those machines, No way people voted that stupid/ Here’s the deal. Are people so gd stupid they buy the republican shit. Do they think these the Republican party gives a flying fuck about them. They don;t, They are running them into the ground, These people are such morons, they are buting the entire idea of makinng rich people richer while makind the middle dlass some sort of underclass,
    No joke? that is exactly what they’re doing. If you don’t think the rich people are jacking the riches up, you are a moron. It is a scheme to make rich people rocher and the middle class poorer. If you don’t see that, you are a fucking idiot. How are people so fucking dumm TThis is obvious. Thes bastards are stealing the prodiction. Who produces ? The labor, This is relatibely obvious. . Labor produces goods, so labot produces capital. Labor produces productivity. Aanagement sits in productivity and kimits jobs, Business limits jof oggortunities to boost prolots
    They screw over job markets to sit on profits, aano shit, That;s what they do.

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  38. Dexter said on April 8, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Just Wednesday night I was talking to my brother regarding how important our senior trips were for us.
    Our class flew to NYC (the old Park Sheraton, 57th and 7th) for two days, bused to Philadelphia for the third day, bused into D.C. for two nights at the Sheraton Park. We did so much, hardly slept, had lots of free time to do whatever we wanted, and the whole experience just woke us up.
    The day we checked out of the Sheraton Park, LBJ was there giving a talk to a group about water conservation. I knew nothing of this until about 40 years later when I just accidentally found the info on my computer.
    I have heard about the trips being taken by junior high kids now…more power to them.
    Most of us were also experiencing our first air travel, on a United chartered prop plane; jets were just starting to take over completely. And, we filled that airplane to the max with cigarette smoke. I bet the majority of Kate’s classmates are experienced jet travellers.
    Now it’s been 44 years, I still think of that week away from home.
    My brother’s class had to bus it all the way, there and back…I’m glad these current travellers were spared that ordeal.
    I read a story once of a factory worker from some rust belt city who had spent every vacation day he ever had accumulated riding Greyhound buses around the USA. At least then , a person could buy a pass and ride for a month anywhere Greyhound went. Not for me.

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  39. prospero said on April 8, 2011 at 4:41 am

    I got tear=gassed on the steps of the National Gallery cooxledad. Nice introduction, opposing the last meaningless war, How is Obama supposed to deal with the PNAC bullshit, Soldiers are in harm’s way and apparently you can;t just yank them without endangering others, So ir seems W set up the same sort of rar baby his dady created on purpose in Somalia, HW most surely did that on purpose, to screw Clinton over, That is the sort of foul shit that family does. They are disgusting sacks of shitm driven by the PNAC.

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  40. prospero said on April 8, 2011 at 5:24 am

    Every dime being spent on what remains of missilw swfwnze ia wasted cash, Don’t work, in a million years. Admiral Poindexter kiss my ass, That is all loony fuxking toons, Srop wasting thT monwy, Propoainf mpre tax cuts for corportions AND the Koch Bros. that is loony, Make them pay and, and take away their ethanol welfare. Why does Don’Agra ger more vovernment welfare than poor people? They are providinf a service? No, they are fucking everybody over,

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  41. prospero said on April 8, 2011 at 6:15 am

    Dexter. I’ve ridden Greyhound a few times, and it is my lot to be saddled with the most odious seatmate in the sordid history of buses, It can’t just be chance. I mean obese and stinking, Always right next to me. Why I bring a pint of Jack with me when I have to take the bus.

    Sue, The Kloopenburg/Prosser race. Wlecting judges is a fool’s gameIn this case. Scott Slker gets one in the teeth,which is all good, The guy is a moron that sould seem to have out hinself in favor of landing planes on the fraveyard shirt at Raygun Airport without backup. For first responders, cops and air traffic controllers, government sutters are serious idiots, and collective bargaining puts people that know the circumstances in control, Just one more situation in which Ronaldus Macimus was either an idiot or a victim of Oldtimers,

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  42. Linda said on April 8, 2011 at 8:28 am

    A priceless take on the Ryan budget proposal and the Republican strategy in general by Matt Taibbi.

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  43. coozledad said on April 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

    The Republican Party is transparently fluffing a potential candidate that its menfolk and a significant chunk of the villagers want to fuck. That’s all there is to this “plan”. They’ve been jonesing for a big dose of stupid dick, and they’ll get it, even if they have to synthesize it.

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  44. LAMary said on April 8, 2011 at 11:10 am

    My son’s class went to Sacramento and San Francisco.There were a few parents along, and my son unfortunately got stuck with a dad who was a heavy smoker and a macho LAPD officer. The multiple asthma attacks and being told to “toughen up” when he was gasping for breath stick in my son’s memory.
    Luckily his next trip to SF was terrific. Both sons went with their dad for three days in SF. There were I think 16 and 12 at the time. Dad got sick on day one and stayed in bed, but told them to go explore the city, which they did, using public transportation, completely on their own. I don’t know if I would have set them loose every morning for three days in a city they didn’t know, but they came back safe and sound with nothing but good stories to tell. I was pretty pissed off at their father for being that lax, but I was seriously impressed with the kids’ navigation and planning skills. They never got stuck someplace without enough money to get back and they ate cheap, interesting food in every neighborhood in SF. They brought me a fan made of sandalwood as a souvenir.

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