Spirit of 1576.

I was covering a local candidate forum last night, and missed the latest GOP debate. I understand that in a brilliant move to round up Sarah Palin’s little lost lambs, Rick Perry located the American revolution in the 16th century. Awright. Between this, Herman Cain’s skatting on Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan, Michele Bachmann’s vaccine-caused retardation and the seven or eight embarrassing moments yet to come in the next month, Barry’s got the second term all but sewed up.

Or not. Max Headroom Romney still floats above the fray. Way to pick your opponents, Mittens.

The local forum was put on by our chapter of the League of Women Voters. What mensches those folks are, arranging these deals every year so that none of us need go into the voting booth ignorant. Not that it makes much difference to most people, alas. Every term I discover how much my students — college students — don’t know about participatory democracy. Most of it is a function of simply not having lived very long; they don’t know how city councils work because they have never given a thought to city council, period. Nothing like buying property, paying taxes and having children to pique a person’s interest in public affairs. But I also wonder how much civics education is going on in schools these days. I took it in junior high. Today it might be wrapped into a general social-studies curriculum. I hope some of it is sinking in.

The warm weather will be leaving in a matter of hours, and it’s already cloudy and threatening rain. Leaves are falling like snowflakes, but it sho’ is purty out there.

I have quite a bit of tasty bloggage today, so let’s hop to it, shall we?

Your daily funny: Elizabeth Warren promises revenge vouchers.

Richard Dawkins, one of the most famous atheists in the world, was booked to appear tonight at a local fundraiser for the Center for Inquiry. But he was dropped at the last minute, when organizers learned — yes, learned — that he was an atheist. (From watching Fox News!!!) He’s complaining, but I’d consider myself lucky. If they can’t read a newspaper, they certainly can’t hire a decent caterer.

OID: A city so broke that the power company comes in and repossesses its streetlights. I didn’t think that was even possible.

Rochelle Riley is African-American, so this punchline doesn’t quite work, but it’s close enough for me, after reading this titanically dumb column: What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?

I haven’t been linking to NYT stories as much, knowing most of you can’t get behind the pay wall, but this story was so weird I can’t resist: Remember Professor Irwin Corey? “The world’s foremost authority?” I guess you’d call him a comedian, although as I recall, his schtick was to go on bubbly talk shows like Mike Douglas, Joey Bishop and maybe Carson, where the host would play straight man, asking him questions, which he would answer in long, convoluted bursts of verbiage. (We were so easily amused back then, but as I often think, watching contemporary comedy: It beats semen jokes.)

Anyway, Corey is still alive, lives in New York and is something of a panhandler, only the money he collects is sent to children’s charities in Cuba. He’s 97 years old. You really can’t make this stuff up, can you?

Off to work for me.

Posted at 10:22 am in Current events, Detroit life, Media |

34 responses to “Spirit of 1576.”

  1. coozledad said on October 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Is it possible they thought they were getting Richard Dawson?

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  2. Hattie said on October 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Thanks for the kind words on the League. We do a lot of the unglamorous political stuff and really appreciate it when people take notice of our efforts.
    Oh, and I loved Professor Corey, the World’s Foremost Authority! Think I’ll go watch a few clips on You Tube now.

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  3. Sue said on October 12, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Hattie, I believe the League is going to file suit in WI over our new voter ID (suppression) law, bless them. It will be hard to dismiss them as a bunch of DFHs, although an equivalent category will probably be created by Charlie Sykes & co.

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  4. Sue said on October 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Re Barry and Romney: If Buddy Roemer decides to run as an independent it’s a whole new ball game. He’ll take votes from each of them and he’s beginning to get a little more publicity these days.
    Not that he’s talking about running as an independent, but if his own party keeps ignoring him he might realize that he’s got a better chance getting his message out with a move like that.

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  5. LAMary said on October 12, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I think the GOP candidates should limit their debates to whether or not Mormonism is a Christian religion. Just spend months duking it out about that and decide whose religion is the best.

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  6. Michael said on October 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I was reminded about good civics education when I chided my son for failing to register to vote for the first election that occurred after his 18th birthday. “I don’t want to hear you complain about the way things are if you don’t vote” He initially gave me his “yeah, right” look. Then a light bulb went on over his head. “Hey, Dad, we learned about the first amendment in school. They never said you had to vote in order to have freedom of speech.”

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  7. Julie Robinson said on October 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Romney seems to hover around 25% in polls against other Repubs. That suggests he’ll have a hard time unifying the party once the nomination is his.

    As much as I want to like the idea of a third party, I still feel that Nader helped Bush defeat Gore (with a little help from Florida and the Supremes of course). That’s not a risk I want to take, since I believe any of the R’s would be disastrous for our country.

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  8. Jeff Borden said on October 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I wish I were as nonchalant about next year’s presidential election, but the specter of Citizen’s United hangs heavy and we all need to remember that whether the GOP nominates Mittens, Perry, Herman or some other schlub they will still receive the gajillions of dollars raised for the express purposes of driving away the Muslim socialist commie black guy. And with the unemployment rate officially above 9% and more likely well beyond that ghastly number, there will be ample opportunity to pound away at the incumbent with advertisements likely to resonate with the tens of millions who are either unemployed, underemployed or fearful of losing their jobs.

    The fact that the GOP retook the House on a “jobs, jobs, jobs” platform but have yet to introduce even one measly employment issue will not matter.

    Romney will be a substantial candidate. He will not look like a drooling goober next to Obama, which is exactly what the rest of that sorry bunch of yum-yums would resemble. I think Romney is absolutely the most plastic candidate in recent memory and his 180 degree changes on, well, pretty much everything suggests he has the spine of Gumby. But people are hurting. . .people are scared. . .and they see little on the horizon to give them hope. Those conditions are ideal for bumping off an underperforming incumbent.

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  9. Connie said on October 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Both Indiana and Michigan require high school seniors to take a civics class that is focussed on state and local government and how they work. I remember learning about millage rates and how property tax bills are calculated.

    On my 18th birthday I rode my bike about a mile down a gravel road, knocked on the farmhouse door at the township supervisor’s home and registered to vote.

    The Michigan civics class appears to require attending local government board meetings. There were over 50 kids from 3 different area schools at last night’s township board meeting. They all have a form that must be signed by an official.

    I was at the township board meeting to present the final budget for my proposed small construction project. Approved, approved, approved. So now I am about to tear up 8,000 square feet in the back end of my building. Been there, done that, makes you miserable, then its over.

    And the 10/17 commemorative issue of Time magazine reminds me that yes, Steve Jobs is still dead.

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  10. coozledad said on October 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Shitfaced, stupid and armed.

    This gives me an idea. I got your Republican saviors right here:
    Sweeney /Todd 2012:
    We’ll cut (shoot) a bitch!

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  11. Linda said on October 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Cooz @ 1–yeah, maybe they thought they’d get a kiss afterward.

    Re: the column on Michael Jackson’s death. I thought it was as dumb as a post the first time I read it, at my mother’s insistence. She also worships Mitch Albom.

    As for young’uns disinclination to follow local government–it’s the funnest government level. I still remember seeing a Detroit city council meeting in the basement of my grade school as a teen–lead by now-Senator Carl Levin. God, does that date me. And him.

    Sue–You will be happy to know that in Ohio, a similar voter supression law, rammed through the General Assembly, has enough petition signatures to go on the ballot in 2012. So, the law is put on ice until that vote, and we still have lots of early voting, etc.

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  12. Linda said on October 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    This awesome passage from Charles Pierce:

    “When Perry came at him about his health-care plan in Massachusetts, Romney stuck by it, arguing that almost every child in Massachusetts is covered while there are “over a million kids” in Perry’s Texas hellhole that are not. A few minutes later, Romney was arguing for the repeal of President Obama’s health-care plan so that the power would “go back to the states” where the states presumably could decide to leave a million kids uninsured the way they are in Perry’s Texas hellhole. You have to admire a man whose principles are so flexible that he can bend them into a perfect circle.”

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  13. moe99 said on October 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Nancy, truth is stranger than fiction. The GOP in Mass think they have constructed a scary Elizabeth Warren video from her soundbites alone:


    And something on the ‘are Mormons Christian’ debate:


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  14. adrianne said on October 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Here in the Empire state, kids have to take a civics course before graduating from high school, and yes, my oldest son attended his first (and possibly last) town board meeting as part of the coursework. Since all the board members are Repubs marching in lockstep with one another, the meetings have all the excitement of watching paint dry.

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  15. Jason T. said on October 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Nancy N. wrote: A city so broke that the power company comes in and repossesses its streetlights. I didn’t think that was even possible.

    Highland Park is a microcosm of everything wrong with corporate America. Unless I miss my guess, the major taxpayer in Highland Park used to be Chrysler Corp.’s headquarters. About 10 or 15 years ago, Chrysler moved its headquarters to suburban Auburn Hills, to a shiny new complex that no doubt received public subsidies in the form of tax abatements and infrastructure improvements.

    The usual suspects bragged about how they had preserved all of those Chrysler jobs, but they never did anything to replace the lost income for Highland Park. So now Highland Park struggles to keep the streetlights on, and Chrysler works off its latest government bailout.

    And I assume the old Chrysler headquarters is a big vacant eyesore that’s full of lead and asbestos, which will eventually have to be torn down, again at public expense.

    Occupy Wall Street? Hell, yeah.

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  16. brian stouder said on October 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    and Nancy also said –

    Nothing like buying property, paying taxes and having children to pique a person’s interest in public affairs.

    And that is absolutely true, at least for me.

    Whereas City Council (et al) is amply reported, our local school board is something that I have become somewhat passionate about, to the extent that I find it upsetting if I have to miss one of their board meetings. (capital improvements are on top of the agenda now, and the “work sessions” are especially enlightening, but we digress)

    Two rules I live by are, first, not to talk to anyone I don’t know (people who are nuttier than me tend to show up); and second, not to ever act like a nut

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on October 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Wait…those people at the country club or whatever it was didn’t know Dawkins was an atheist?

    Why did they invite him in the first place? What did they imagine he was famous for?

    Someone needs to get his head out of his…golf hole.

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  18. Sue said on October 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    My gracious things are getting wild out there for the ladies:

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  19. caliban said on October 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    It’s Islam Karimov. How difficult is that to remember? And Jason, isn’t Auburn Hills another name for Pontiac. And unlike the crooked bankers, Chrysler is paying its debt instead of paying the assholes that put them in debt.

    Occupy Wall Street? Hell, yeah. They have occupied Main Street too long.

    Mormons, if they are true to the belief of their own religion, are not Christians. Why won’t they just admit it? I mean, Muslims hold that Jesus is a prophet. I believe in God, in a Teillhardian way.

    True morons for President, spare me. That includes MormonsNow a practical question:

    why did my new microwave come with metl zhelf?

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  20. moe99 said on October 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm


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  21. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    It’s a special metl zhelf. Transparent to microwaves, doesn’t heat up. Can’t recall the alloy off-hand. Usually it’s a metallic appearing coating on a resin fiber material.

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  22. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    According to the Denison University physics department, I’m half right. Has to do with having points that are a gathering point for an arc, so a bit of foil is much worse than a spoon, but a fork is gonna be spectacular. So there are full-on metal racks (I’d not seen one), and they are special made/coated so there are not pointed ends, edges, or protrusions that act as an antenna for the electrical energy. If so, and dense enough metal, they neither heat (much) nor arc. My dad’s old coffee cup with a gold rim apparently had just enough micro-texture to shoot off sparks like a kid on July 4th. Hat tip, Wes Walter, who paused in the study of negative ions long enough to help me answer this.

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  23. Connie said on October 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Auburn Hills is no way another name for Pontiac.

    I understood that Richard Dawkins was hired by a Skeptics organization to speak at their event. It was the hotel owner where the event was to be held that supposedly cancelled Dawkins. Makes me wonder who has a contract with whom for what. I read a lot of skeptic/freethought blogs and will probably hear more details. If you enjoy freethought blogs you might enjoy this new blog center: freethoughtblogs.org. This is where you will now find Pharyngula. Which last time I mentioned caliban defined for me.

    Checked again. Hotel owner cancelled event contract with organization because he didn’t want Dawkins speaking there.

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  24. Jolene said on October 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Linda, that Charles Pierce quote re Mitt Romney’s flexible principles is great. Thanks for posting.

    He’s made a lot of hay out of Perry’s criticism of Social Security, essentially laughing at him for suggesting that retirement security should be a function of the states.

    Some bright reporter should ask him why state-level healthcare programs are OK but state-level retirement programs aren’t.

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  25. Suzanne said on October 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I am desperately trying to figure out why I should care whether or not Mormons are really Christians or vice-versa (and might I remind fellow Christians that our religion began as basically a cult). Can the Mormon bring this country out of the doldrums is what I want to know.

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  26. LAMary said on October 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I think Howard Hughes made a point of hiring only Mormons for positions in his inner circle. He also wore kleenex boxes as shoes.

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  27. beb said on October 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    It’s important to ask whether the tea partiers who consider Mormonism to be a cult believe that Catholics are Christians. because a lot of protestants aren’t so sure that they are.

    Highland Park is roughly a square mile of land surrounded on all four sides by Detroit. Now that Chrysler has moved out it have no industry, no revenue outside of welfare checks and social security. The best thing that could happen to it is to be forcibly merged with Detroit. Motown ain’t exactly rich either but it has more money than Highland Park.

    At this point I think the Republican Party’s best bet is to buy one of those life-like robots from Japan. Then they program it to support all Tea Party positions while doing wikipedia look-ups before answering simple questions about who did what when.

    Michael Jackson didn’t launch a come back tour because his fans demanded it; he was running out of money.

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  28. Sherri said on October 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I grew up Southern Baptist, and they didn’t consider either Mormons or Catholics to be Christian. Mormons weren’t Christian because they believed the Book of Mormon, and Catholics weren’t because they worshiped Mary and because of the Pope. Now that I’m Episcopalian, my parents refuse to go to my church when they visit me. (To be fair, I refuse to go to theirs, too.) We don’t discuss religion or politics.

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  29. coozledad said on October 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    The genesis of the modern Republican party is tied pretty closely with the second coming of the Klan. The religious alignments have changed since the 1920’s, when Meditteranean Catholics ranked a distant third to ‘well-behaved negroes’ and secular Jews.

    Like the Romney campaign itself, this is a soft sort of racist politics filtered through demographic realities. The aims are the same.
    The status quo ante forces of the South managed to prevail not only in the mosquito infested hellholes of home, but infected national politics via Wilson, Hoover, and Coolidge. Hoover even applied for membership.
    The key difference is the Republicans will only run the blacks out of Tulsa (or Wilmington, NC)-or the Mexicans out of Alabama, when the big donors give their approval.

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  30. alex said on October 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I understood it to be a country club where Dawkins got the bum’s rush. Aren’t country club Republicans supposed to be the pro-science ones, as well as the pro-choice ones when their daughters get knocked up? Sheesh.

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  31. Julie said on October 12, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Down here in Georgia, to my surprise, the 9th grade AP American Government course is doing a great job teaching the fundamentals of civics and democracy…reading Locke, for heaven’s sake, and dissecting the constitution. Last week, they spent a day with the county manager and city/county department heads, and a couple of hours in municipal court. They’re going to have a better understanding than a lot of adults I can name.

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  32. caliban said on October 13, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Thanks Jeff. Any idea of the purpose? Sherri, weren’t Catholics, historically, kind of the original Christians? And LAMary, that is hilarious. Howard also sold the US government a plywood plane, and even flew it once.

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  33. alex said on October 13, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Missed headline opportunity: Own A Piece Of Ass

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  34. Kim said on October 13, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Did the Highland Park lights get repo’d during the summer and nobody noticed? That would compound the tragedy, for sure, and illustrate the problem of basement-level expectations fulfilled.

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