This wheezing carousel we call life.

This fall has been maddening, mainly because of changes in everyone’s lives that are screwing up all my attempts to get a handle on things, order being the only thing that gives me a modicum of peace of mind in this crazy world full of uncertainty, crazy Republicans and a freelance income stream. Kate started high school, where the bell rings 20 minutes earlier than it did in middle school, meaning earlier mornings. Alan started a new job, shifting from a night shift to days. There are new after-school activities, new friends, new everything, and just when I think it’s settled in, something else comes up.

Plus, I’m still working until 1 a.m. every weeknight, which means I don’t get to sleep until 1:30, which means even more sleep deprivation, the Grump-o-Meter rising through the week until today it actually shorted out. I awoke to a clamorous house before 7 a.m. — Alan shepherding an earnings story onto the web from our kitchen table, Kate with her usual teenage grooming rituals — and actually felt calm. I think it was the collapse of will, a certain caving-in of the belief that I will ever again have a rewarding job that pays a decent salary, with a 401K, a paid vacation and a more or less normal schedule. I will never again get more than five hours of rest in a night, except on weekends. And year will pile upon year, and then I’ll be dead. Om.

Well, I’ll tell you one thing: I’m done cooking for the week. Roast chicken Saturday, meat loaf Sunday, baked ziti Monday and pot roast last night. (Really good pot roast. I’m the only one who likes it, which suggests a certain hostility in adding it to the weekly menu, but if you don’t like this pot roast, there is something wrong with you.) There are plenty of leftovers, and if anyone dares to look me in the face and ask what’s for dinner, I’ll jerk my thumb in the direction of the refrigerator and bark, “Microwave.”

Oh, I’m just grousing. I’m gearing up for an R&R weekend day after tomorrow, after which everything will smooth out for a while.

But now I have to head down to campus, for an internship fair. We have a table and a banner for our little hyperlocal website, although if I were being honest, I’d substitute one reading CHANGE YOUR MAJOR.

I have a little bloggage today:

Tony Fadell is a graduate of Grosse Pointe South High School, and is generally called the inventor of the iPod, although obviously that other guy had a lot to do with it, too. He left Apple a couple years ago and formed a new startup, about to unveil its first product — a programmable thermostat that’s as beautiful, and as easy to use, as an iPod. (Only a native of the frozen Midwest would see the utility of such a thing. My allegedly programmable thermostat is a steaming piece of crap, and should have been smashed in the driveway with a sledgehammer long ago.) The bad news: It costs as much as a month of gas heat. Still: WANT.

Jon Stewart, Pat Robertson, the GOP field: Comedy gold.

Must run.

Posted at 9:48 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

30 responses to “This wheezing carousel we call life.”

  1. Dexter said on October 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Change is good, except when it fucks with the money…. it fucks with the money?–it’s evil. It’s also infinitely horrifying when a family income stream stops abruptly when time catches up with a human body breaking down and doctors say to a spouse,”You can no longer, ever, do this work again.”
    We are on a carousel of doctors’ offices and hospital tests, consulting with all sorts of specialists and ortho-doctors , trying to make sure we are on the right path for my wife.

    She has a condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth. It is not a dental condition…Tooth was a doctor’s name:

    She made it to 61 before the doctors shut off her work life.
    Just yesterday a specialist in Toledo told her she is eligible for disability. We all know how hard it is to get that going, but we are on the path, first step yesterday.
    She is in limbo, as she is right in the middle of doctor whirlwind, as they confer and decide if she is or is not a candidate for knee replacements. Her knees are shot.
    Time marches on…and as Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) said from his island, “you never know what the tide will bring in today.”

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  2. Heather said on October 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Who doesn’t love pot roast?

    I’m single so I don’t cook for anyone else on a regular basis, but from the experience of doing so for a series of semi-appreciative boyfriends, I completely understand how one’s family’s indifference or worse toward a home-cooked dinner can be galling.

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  3. Peter said on October 26, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Ooh, the pot roast. I loved my mother-in-laws – she used the Lipton onion soup mix and a load of carrots and tried her best not to drop any cigarette ash in it.

    FYI – the pot roast sandwich at the Henry Ford is really good. Better than Culver’s, but I only have to drive ten miles for a Culver’s, and the Ford doesn’t have frozen custard.

    Dexter – I’m really sorry – hope things will improve.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on October 26, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Oh Dexter, I’m so sorry to hear that. I think my sister will also be facing disability but without the support of a wonderful guy like you to help her negotiate the way.

    Like so much technology, our programmable thermostat is not intuitive, so every time we want to change it we have to get out the manual and re-learn. Overloaded are our brains.

    Tonight will be pork loin, seared and smothered with applesauce in the crock pot and then I’m done for the week too. My entire theory of cuisine is cooking ahead, aka leftovers. You’ll like it even more the second or third time, or there’s the jar of peanut butter.

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  5. adrianne said on October 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

    By Weds. night I hit the proverbial wall on home-cooked dinners. Tonight: Chicken paillards, courtesy of Mark Bittman in the NYT magazine. But that’s only because I bought ahead and had a couple left over. Also: Who don’t love the pot roast?

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  6. Judybusy said on October 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Dexter, I’m sorry to hear about your wife. That disease sounds pretty dreadful, not to mention the economic impact. I hope the disability application process goes smoothly.

    I did enjoy the video clip! These candidates scare the bejeesus out of me.

    Count me in on the pot roast fan club. We had the first of the season over the weekend, with red wine and a long, slow roast. I had the happiest dog in the universe as she got to eat the fat trimmings. Then we ate, and were pretty happy, too.

    An aside: was it here that someone mentioned the author Laurie Colwin? If so, thanks so much. I’m in the middle of Shine on, Bright and Dangerous Object. It’s such elegant writing, the kind that I don’t think gets written much anymore.

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  7. Suzanne said on October 26, 2011 at 11:23 am

    We were gone the whole week-end, so no leftovers to start the week. Boo.

    “a caving-in of the belief that I will ever again have a rewarding job that pays a decent salary, with a 401K, a paid vacation and a more or less normal schedule.” I think I’m older than you, and feel the same, although I more often cave into depressive thoughts. I’m at the age when my parents started socking away the dough for retirement since the kids were mostly out of the house and they were both working full time, but that’s not my luck nor the luck of today’s 50+ set. Heck, I’d be thrilled for a paid vacation or a paid sick day now and then! We won’t face Obama death panels, but will probably be encouraged to sensibly trot off somewhere and pass on quietly, because heaven knows we won’t have the money to retire.

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  8. Laura Lippman said on October 26, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Fan of pot roast and Laurie Colwin. Nancy, I’d love to know your recipe. My cooking this week has been crabcakes (Bittman recipe) and steak salad, with a roasted chicken. But tomorrow could be a good pot roast day . . .

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  9. LAMary said on October 26, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I love pot roast and luckily my whole household does as well.I’m still using the recipe from Jar restaurant.
    My schedule was messed up by other people’s changes this year too. Younger son Pete’s school starts 40 minutes later, in house Brit has an off and on gig testing software which requires his presence at an office three or four times a week, and my morning walk/run has been moved a half hour earlier to accomodate all of these changes. I’m out on the road at 4:40am now. Me and the coyotes and raccoons.

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  10. alex said on October 26, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Dex, you have my sympathy. I should think that the combination of your wife’s age and inability to return to her previous occupation will be a no-brainer for the folks at the Social Security Administration. In my work I see a lot of less deserving claimants getting breezed through.

    As for pot roast, I love it, but I’ve had some memorably bad ones in restaurants. Best to make it at home. And use the leftovers for sammiches or shredded up in chili.

    I’m about to order Hatch, New Mexico, green chiles and make New Mexico green chili. Question for the room: If anybody here buys them, do you have a vendor you’d recommend in particular?

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  11. Deborah said on October 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    LA Mary 4:40am, oh my!

    I too love pot roast, the homemade kind. I put a stick of butter in mine (before I ever heard of Paula Dean), but haven’t made it in years.

    Alex, I’ve only bought Hatch chilies (is that the correct plural?) in NM, at a roadside place halfway between Espanola and Abiquiu. They roast them there in a big round revolving wire cage and a bunsen type burner contraption. Smells wonderful when they’re doing it.

    Dexter, sorry to hear about your wife’s medical problem. Hope things work out soon.

    Peter your cigarette ash comment made me chuckle.

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  12. beb said on October 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    What I like about Pot Roast, besides the roast itself is all the gravy for the potatoes.

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  13. caliban said on October 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Keystone XL pipeline? NFW. First place, it’s a national security nightmare. Second place, how does a Canadian company take American land by invoking eminent domain. GOPers will howl about jobs if the State Department rightfully shuts down this boondoggle, the same way they are insisting on the Arizona copper mine, which is a massive land giveaway to an immense Chilean-based multi-national, that would cede mineral rights and get nothing in return in royalties to the federal government. An insane deal only Republicans could love. Neither of these canards is very likely to produce real jobs, as the GOP claims: both will certainly consolidate wealth in an even smaller nugget to the detriment of vast numbers of Americans.

    But what the hell, this is the very same pay to play bullshit Perry has employed in Tejas.

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  14. caliban said on October 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Tom Waits has always put me in my mind of albums Don Van Vliet would have made had he possessed human DNA and a breakable human heart. This new album has typically beautiful ballads with circus Wurlitzer accompaniment, more or less straight blues, and what seems to be a hugely inventive anti-military-industrial-complex tirade (Hell Broke Luce).

    Source for Hatch Chilis. Part of the proceeds funds chili research at New Mexico State. Have ordered from this site before, at the recommendation of a friend from New Mexico, who’s a connoisseur of chilis. Very satisfied with the results.

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  15. paddyo' said on October 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Dex, my sympathies over your wife’s CMT diagnosis.

    My younger brother, now age 55, has had the condition now for nearly a decade or so. He still gets around, with the help of orthotic-style leg braces (the kind that have a shoe insert and go up the pants leg; no outside straps and such) and he tries to keep as active as possible. He still works full time, but I’m sure he thinks about the prospect of long-term disability. The biggest issue for him has been the gradual atrophying of his legs — that, and the balance thing. Walking on any uneven surface is very tricky. Mark is a born optimist (maybe it was all the elbowing from his twin brother before they were born). I’m in awe of anyone who has to deal with this challenge.

    Alex, ditto to Deborah on the green chiles thing. I’ve never ordered via mail before. I’d make sure they’re sending them on ice or refrigerated in some way; the vendors here in Denver say they’ll keep in the ‘fridge up to 10 days after roasting, but of course lots of folks buy a mess and freeze them for winter-long use.
    (Deborah note: Dictionary of the American West says “chiles” for plural, but acknowledges “some authorities” spell it “chilies” . . . .)

    We’re fortunate to live in Hatch country: It’s the tail end of the street-corner-roasting season, maybe a couple of more weeks. This past Sunday, I drove several miles of Federal Boulevard, Denver’s multicultural commercial ghetto (Mexican/Latino, Asian and other recent immigrants), and found seven vendors open. I bought half a bushel (a little more than a plastic laundry basket’s worth, pre-roasting), big green and orange/red ones. They roasted them on the spot. Just 6 bucks — about the same price that a vendor at our neighborhood farmer’s market was getting for maybe one quarter as many chiles. It pays to shop the barrio . . .

    I doubt if the chile vendor-roasters will be out today, though. First snow of the season, all over town. 4-8-12 inches, depending on where you are, and a couple of feet up in the high country. It’s a limb-buster of a storm. Most of Denver’s trees still have most of their leaves.

    President Obama’s speaking right now at a college campus downtown, and flying off through the storm in about 45 minutes.

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  16. alex said on October 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks caliban. They seem to have better prices there as well.

    And paddyo’, a lot of places online promise to ship them frozen; I’m assuming they’ll come on dry ice. I once brought back a styrofoam cooler full of frozen ones from Santa Fe. They were wrapped in newspaper. No ice packs–I was told the condensation on those would actually promote thawing. This was the summer back in the ’90s that it was 100-plus degrees in Texas every day, and I had an overnight layover in Dallas. I thought for sure my shit would be ruined–wherever it was with the rest of my luggage. When I finally got home to Chicago, my chiles were still rock hard.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on October 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve been un- and under-employed now for more than seven years and the loss of stability is unnerving. At the moment, I’m teaching two classes at a community college and two classes at Loyola, so I am earning a reasonable wage. But, so far, both schools have offered me only one class for the winter/spring semester, which means another round of resumes and cover letters in an attempt to make up the difference. And that’s assuming I could get my foot in the door for an interview. There is no shortage of adjunct faculty out there and the competition for these part-time jobs is intense.

    The idea of ever having a full-time job with benefits and a paid vacation died a few years ago. I’m 60 now and expect to be plugging away with part-time employment for at least another 10 years — if I can continue to find work, of course. One of my colleagues at the community college is 76 and still teaching chemistry, so it can be done.

    My sympathies really lie with the young. I look out over the classroom and wonder how those kids are going to fare in an increasingly ruthless economy.

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  18. Bitter Scribe said on October 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I just turned 55 and have at least a dozen more years of work ahead. I’m fortunate enough to have an old-fashioned job with benefits, but who knows how long that will last. The company is shaky (as most seem to be these days), and the economy isn’t going to get better as long as the Republicans have both feet firmly planted on the brake.

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  19. caliban said on October 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Until a few years ago, the idea of buying food online struck me as ridiculous. Since then, I’ve become a regular patron of Burger’s Smokehouse. (Best bacon I’ve ever eaten. Great hams and smoked turkey, duckling , pheasant, etc., very good pork barbecue and brisket). These are things that are a pain in the ass to shop for by bike.Perishables shipped with dry ice have never arrived with any problem. The roasted chiles from the Biad Chili Products site are always excellent, and when I read about their work using plant genetics to restore heirloom varieties, I was a convert. We also buy great ancho chili powder from a company online called Colorado Spice:

    And we get superb Kenyan and Sumatran dark roasts from Gevalia, on a schedule that took a while to get right, but works perfectly now. We’ve got a regular UPS guy, who has us last on his route, so we never miss deliveries. I know this is less than environmentally sound. Then again it keeps people employed.

    As for continuing employment, I’ve got a backload of clients that will need my help is lawsuits over the next few years. Pays even better than writing original contract documents. Depositions over the phone are very easy money.

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  20. moe99 said on October 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Pot roast was a staple growing up. As a result I got pretty tired of it and haven’t really made it much. Same with chicken noodle soup. Then there’s things that I can’t find in Seattle but don’t miss, like ring bologna. My mother’s favorite cookbook was Peg Bracken’s “I Hate to Cook Book.” Luckily my daughter and older son are far better cooks than I was at their ages.

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  21. caliban said on October 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    FLA residents elected Alan West, who is totally delusional, very possibly schizophrenic, and Rick Scott, the unquestionably biggest crook in the history of American health care.Why is anybody surprised by dwarf tossing as a jobs program?

    We’re partial to Alton Brown’s pot roast (he’s a fellow UGA alum.) We agree with the choice of the 7-bone top blade cut chuck as optimal for pot roast and eschew the raisins, although occasionally including currants or fresh cranberries (which admittedly, might sound as weird), and invariably some shrooms, since everything’s better with shrooms.). My mom never made pot roast (though her mother made a classic version), so having pot roast at another kid’s house always seemed like a treat to me. The balsamic imparts a wonderful flavor. A dish of this sort demands a sturdy salt. Mr. Brown uses kosher salt in everything, but we like Celtic grey sea salt purchased through Nancy’s Lounge and Amazon, and we use wonderful “organic” olive oil called Zoe that comes from Spain by way of Amazon. The oil comes in beautifully decorated tins, which I save, expecting at any time to devise a means of recycling them. Maybe as containers for growing herbs.

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  22. coozledad said on October 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Support the troops!

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  23. Dexter said on October 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    it’s that time of year

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  24. Dexter said on October 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Really good stuff here: Celebrity Zombies.

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  25. brian stouder said on October 26, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Gotta love pot roast! Tonight we had….blt’s and mac and cheese! The bacon was cooked in the oven on a rack in a cake pan – very crispy and less greasy, and the tomatoes were fresh from our one tomato plant that produced tomatoes this year.

    Later this week I’m hoping for a taco/burrito supper, the better to utilize some home-made picante sauce that one of Pam’s friends made and canned, from her abundance of green tomatoes.

    Aside from that, let me toss a few digressions into the stewpot. Adam Goodheart (“1861”) has a genuinely different writing style, which is by turns refreshing and sometimes jarring; I’m 305 pages in, and he STILL surprises me quite regularly….which is a good thing!

    Can you believe the 2012 Republican presidential field? Is this really the best they can do? One is tempted to think that, when it’s all over, the revisionist history will be that “everyone knew that it would be a losing effort, so the REAL players stayed out of the contest”….but really – WHO could the R’s run, right now, that wouldn’t look more ridiculous than the current crop of small-minded people?

    Mitch Daniels? I think he’d have been clobbered by his record as Bush’s budget director(!), let alone his ‘colorful’ marriage.

    Jeb Bush? Three Bush presidencies in 20 years would be far from a bird-in-the-hand, yes?

    Maybe a wildcard – like Evan Bayh switching parties and running as an R?

    It is just amazing to me to see how very (very) little the national Republican party has to offer, in 2011-12

    One last digression; or, come to think of it, I’m back on-topic! That iPad style thermostat? I’d hate it! I read the link expecting to see that one can control it remotely, and sure enough, by the fourth or fifth sentence, we learn that one can adjust it with one’s cell phone.

    There’s a commercial on TV, hawking 4G phones (or whatever the hell), and it shows mom, who is away, talking to her son, who is at home doing homework. Mom, who is viewing her son while speaking to him, notes that he should have more lights on, and with a few key strokes she pops on the dining room lights for him.

    I find that commercial disconcerting and repulsive. If mom can run her lights and appliances (and thermostats!) from her 4G phone – not even to mention get a live video feed from inside her house – regardless of wherever in the world she happens to be, then indeed ANYONE might also be able to fool with her appliances and/or peer in and see what’s shakin’ at the old homestead.

    Call me an out-of-date old guy, but they’ll have to pry my (cold!) damned fingers off my MANUAL thermostat, before I’d ever have one of those sooper-deluxe ones….and forget about controlling the lights and running a live video link to the outside, 4G world

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  26. beb said on October 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I think the Republican party will have trouble picking a presidential candidate this election cycle. One has only to listen to the laughter st the debates to see what Republicans want. They want to kill convicts, even the innocent ones. They want to electrocute people sneaking across the border. They want the sick to die. They want to ban sharia law while installing christian theocracy. They want a tax cutting, budget balancing, abortion banning patriot who will get the government out of our vaginas. I don’t think there is one person in this nation who will met all of these requirements. Who isn’t at the same time… nuts (ie, Michelle Bachman or Rick Perry.

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  27. Dexter said on October 27, 2011 at 12:36 am

    My Jack Russell doggie is 11 today. Terriers are great dogs.
    She looks just like this Google Image dog:

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  28. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Beb, et alia; I’d concede that I think the GOP presidential field is, at the very least, not too terribly presidential, but pretty terrible as possible presidential candidates. Having said that, can I suggest that the Democratic talking points rooted in the laughter episodes at various debates and forums as being even narrowly representative of party supporters, and the general disdain for Republican voters en masse, is bad for Democratic campaign politics, and not good for the body politic, either.

    There’ve been reporters as well as candidates who noted that up on the platform, the hooting and “Yeah”‘s and laughing is barely or not at all audible, but the mics in the audience are picking up individual voices; the video shows a candidate’s face, and the laugh at full volume, and one reasonably asks “surely he heard that, he should respond.”

    But the idea has taken on a life of its own, summed up in your statement, Beb, that all conservatives hate & loathe gays, despise women not keeping to their place, and like executions as general entertainment. George W. Bush, on this as so many things, did his part to cement that image in place, though I credit him on having said clearly (if rarely cited) that it was a juvenile and stupid thing to say about the woman executed on his watch. I recognize that GOPers can never apologize enough for anything to avoid the usual brickbats about everything discreditable in their past, but I think it just adds to the weight pressing against reconciliation and compromise to keep piling onto the idea that “they” are such abhorrent people. “They” are the other half of the electorate; I’m driven nuts by the relative inconsistency of Biblical inerrantists in Christianity, and debate and argue against them when I can, but also find their congregations and groups are often first and most in showing up when the food pantry needs rebuilt after a fire, when the sandbags need to be filled, when the money for enough concrete blocks in Haiti to put up a school is getting raised.

    I could easily justify saying they’re all not only nuts, but heavy-handed, mean-spirited, and cruel to marginal groups that aren’t part of their evangelism strategy; if I do that too harshly and too publicly, I can’t be too surprised when they no longer show up to community and co-operative efforts. “There has to be a line” is a fair argument, but if the line is always beginning with “and that is around those who already agree with me” then you’re probably going to be working with a steadily diminishing circle.

    And if Cain pulls out a second place in Iowa, we could see some very startling sights in South Carolina in the GOP primary. This is a wild and wooly race, which means there are plenty of eddies and backwaters where the Gingrichs and Bachmanns can lurk, where in other two-current torrents of the past they would have been flushed out of the waterway by now. I can’t see the end clearly, but however the river bends, we’re going to ride it to building a redesigned ship of state that has to be remodeled as we steam along, whoever the captain may be. Don’t start throwing pieces over the side too soon.

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  29. coozledad said on October 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Have reporters and Democrats no shame? Laughing at Republicans!
    Why, they’re the people who brought us such stunning successes over the past decade. And only 75% of them are gun fetishist psychopaths!

    When that red wheel rolls back home from Iraq to find Miss Lindsey holding up jobs bills and fatass cops are shooting vets in the streets, the Republican clown car will wish it was only a matter of being laughed at. The sad thing is, a lot of the people who tried to tell your idiot king to back off on his imperial ambitions are going to be collateral damage.

    Fuck you people. Comedy is the only appropriate nonviolent response to you pisstrousers- your last opportunity for salvation. It’s the only thing that can even remotely humanize you schmucks. Otherwise you’re just a shabby group of delusional racist fuckpuddles who need to find a different home.

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  30. coozledad said on October 27, 2011 at 9:19 am

    What happened to this bog alderman’s forehead? Did they have to lop it off to make room for the Reagan wig?

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