Like many of you, I read the Mitt Romney-at-Cranbrook story this morning and had it on my mind pretty much all day. It was good food for thought, with so many interesting angles to consider. If I’d been in an old movie, it would have been one of those scenes where an angel sits on one shoulder and a devil on the other, hissing in opposite ears:

Angel: He was in high school. Remember high school? Do YOU want to be judged for something you did in high school?

Devil: Remember Name Redacted? That asshole who stole from your purse and called you names and otherwise made your life a living hell? If he were running for president, don’t you think voters would find that stuff interesting?

Angel: Don’t be ridiculous. Name Redacted was a little punk. He’s probably living in a Florida trailer park. He certainly wasn’t Harvard material. Much less Bain Capital.

And so on. At one point, I forwarded it to my Bridge colleagues, and one replied with a towering rant about triviality in news coverage that made steam come out the vents of my laptop. He made many good points. And yet, I cannot lie: I am a woman, and a frustrated novelist, and I find these stories fascinating. I think of how many American families would sell kidneys to send their children to elite schools like Cranbrook, only to find that, once the parents drive away, they’re as brutal and awful in their own way as the worst gladiator academies in Detroit. I think of young Mitt, who must have cast a very long shadow there as the son of the governor and an ex-automotive CEO — believe me, this is the closest thing to royalty in Michigan — using his position to smirk and lead bathroom jihads against a gay kid who dared to bleach his hair and style it in a way others found offensive.

On the other hand? It was 1965. That’s what gay kids had to put up with then, what many of them still have to put up with. It’s why we had the Stonewall riots and a thousand smaller rebellions, in living rooms and offices and over dinner tables. It’s why gay people have been loudly banging open closet doors for decades now, demanding to be taken seriously and treated with respect. But to ask the people of 1965 to act as though it’s 2012 is as foolish as demanding Christopher Columbus land in Hispaniola with the attitudes of a late-20th-century college president.

For months, I’ve been reading about Romney, from sources around the political spectrum, trying to gather an informed picture of the man. I’m reminded of something Paul Helmke, the former GOP mayor of Fort Wayne, said about Evan Bayh, whom he faced in the U.S. Senate race many years ago. He said you got the impression, talking to Bayh, that if you peeled back the skin of his face, you’d see wires and LEDs blinking inside — that he was more a robot than a human being. This exhaustive piece in Slate tracking his shifting position on abortion is, I fear, the man in a few thousand words: He’ll say anything to get elected.

As it happens, there was a significant event in Romney’s Cranbrook-era past that pertains here, as well — his brother-in-law’s sister died after an illegal abortion in 1963, which along with his own mother’s pragmatic ideas about the subject, appear to have informed Romney’s opinions early on. But today, it’s all about balancing votes on a scale. Who is this man? I wish I knew.

We can’t change what we did 50 years ago, but we do have control over how we talk about it today, and that’s all I’m left with now. Romney gave a weasel apology about “pranks” that “might have gone too far.”

“Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that,” Romney said in a live radio interview with Fox News Channel personality Brian Kilmeade. Romney added: “I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize.”

Yet another missed opportunity to prove what sort of man he really is. He stood by quietly when he allowed conservative groups to drive out a gay aide a few days ago. He could have made it his Sister Souljah moment, but didn’t. What could he have said today? Maybe this:

“I’ve recently been reminded that I was a bully in high school, and picked on one boy in particular.” (The story mentions another boy, and a teacher as well, but let’s not be petty.) “I wonder how many of us would like to live with the consequences of our high-school behavior for the rest of our lives. While the incident isn’t indelibly imprinted in my memory, others remember a consistent picture of events, and I will take their word I did what they say I did. I’ll only add that 50 years covers a lot of time not just in my life, but in that of the country. I’m sure gay students at Cranbrook today have it a lot easier, and for that I’m grateful. I’m certainly sorry I was part of the problem then. I’d like to be part of the solution now.”

(I just made that up. I’m sure a professional speechwriter could improve it.)

So, bloggage? Sure. Here’s a Laura Lippman column that touches on the theme, tangentially — about how she hated covering politics and looked for the more human angles to bigger stories:

After five years on the news side, I moved to features. Even there, I wasn’t drawn to the more glamorous assignments. Asked — forced — to write about then-Gov. Parris Glendening during his re-election campaign in 1998, I focused almost entirely on his blushing problem. Asked — forced — to cover the mayor’s race in 1999, I observed that mayoral candidate Martin O’Malley had a frat-boy smile; I don’t think he ever smiled in my presence again. I liked interviewing writers, but other famous people left me cold. Too polished, too practiced.

Good one.

A truly glorious takedown of Jonah Goldberg, pegged to his stupid Pulitzer resume-padding but timeless in its detail:

I just opened “The Tyranny of Cliche” to a random page. It is the start of Chapter 9, “Slippery Slope,” and it begins with quotations from Hume, Lincoln and T.S. Eliot. Then we’re treated to the prose of Mr. Jonah Goldberg, who is here to share his presentation on “slippery slopes.” It reads very much like a high school student’s essay assignment:

Ultimately slippery slope arguments are a mixed bag. They are useful as a way to reinforce good dogma, but they are also used to reinforce bad dogma. Similarly they can scare us away from bad policies and good policies alike. There are good slippery slope arguments and bad ones for good ends and bad ends.

Bad dogma!

Finally, I leave you with an easy, Facebook-y smile, one of those Buzzfeed things you can pass on to your friends: How to evolve your views on gay marriage.

Happy weekend, all.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events |

110 responses to “Progress.”

  1. Dexter said on May 11, 2012 at 1:20 am

    My brother was at Ball State in 1965 as a freshman. He was the only male student in the entire university with long hair. The fact that he was straight and the lead guitarist in a popular campus rock and roll band made no difference to the Luddites and Neanderthals that comprised that college populace. He was threatened, chased, called “Alice”, ridiculed, and told he was going to get that hair cut off “no matter what.”
    Only the intervention by the best athlete on the BSU track team saved my brother from Romney-like assault. I don’t even remember that athlete’s name, but he still holds many Indiana records; he put a stop to the plans to beat and then cut the hair off my brother.
    Give me Obama any day over Romney, as Obama admits his youthful faults.
    Romney just isn’t fit to serve as POTUS.

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  2. Scout said on May 11, 2012 at 2:29 am

    For those already inclined to vote for Rmoney, the revelation that he was a bully is a feature not a bug. But for the rest of us, stories like these, added to those detailing his cruelty to animals, only reinforce how awful this candidate truly is. I cannot imagine him as POTUS.

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  3. MaryRC said on May 11, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I’m sure that Romney’s apology was so lame because tormenting his classmates and teacher meant so little to him that he can’t even remember it. Maybe he did hurt someone, maybe he didn’t, how is he supposed to know? Meanwhile his aides are probably frantically contacting his old classmates to find out if there are any other incidents that might come back to haunt him: “OK, there was the gay kid and the blind teacher, oh and some other kid … anything else?”

    Re Jonah Goldberg, it was either Tbogg or Roy Edroso who said that Jonah is so lazy, his wife has to chew his food up and spit it in his mouth.

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  4. Rana said on May 11, 2012 at 2:34 am

    My thoughts on the matter are that while I don’t think it’s fair to go digging around in a candidate’s past to find adolescent dirt to dish about, the Romney campaign itself opened up this can of worms by attempting to use it to “humanize” their candidate. At this point it’s fair game to talk about such things, because they themselves declared them an appropriate topic for discussion.

    I’m also struck by an observation I read earlier today to the effect that it’s strange — and worrisome — that the only “humanizing” stories to emerge about Romney are things like this and the business about putting their dog on top of the car. Where are the funny stories? Where are the accounts of him doing something kind? I mean, you’d think that if they had this sort of stuff to hand, they’d be running with it, not awkwardly massaged tales of bullying spun as “hijinks” and “pranks.”

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  5. Rana said on May 11, 2012 at 2:38 am

    MaryRC, his apology, for me, gives the impression of a man who is apologizing not because he’s sorry, or even because he knows that he should be sorry, but only because other people have told him that it’s something he should be sorry for. It’s grudging at best, and suggests to me that he just doesn’t get why what he did might or could be a problem.

    To my mind, that’s even more troubling than the actions he’s sorta kinda not really apologizing for.

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  6. Deggjr said on May 11, 2012 at 6:44 am

    After all, who hasn’t led a pack of people to pin someone down and cut off their hair? Boys will be boys.

    Your Bridge colleague? Character matters except when it doesn’t. What did President Clinton do again? There was hardly any coverage at all so no wonder I can’t recall it.

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  7. Linda said on May 11, 2012 at 7:03 am

    I’ve done some mean and dumb things in school, but they were mean and dumb, and I’m sorry I did them, and they weren’t as bad as holding someone down and cutting their hair. And by “sorry,” I mean sorry, not “I’m sorry if I offended…” which means THEY have the onus of being offended.

    On the other end, I had a weird experience once. My brother ran into someone who was, I think, kind of a borderline Mean Girl at our grade school. She appologized to him for some mistreatment of me, and said she was sorry. This was shocking, because her jibes and snubs were not all that big a deal, but she was really remorseful for them, and this was 15 years after the fact. I hardly remembered them at all. Of course, she didn’t hold me down and cut my hair…

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  8. Deggjr said on May 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

    The John Lauber/Cranbrook story is the perfect metaphor for Romney’s business career. (The role of John Lauber will be performed today by Dade-Behring.)

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  9. alex said on May 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Helmke’s description of Evan Bayh sounds both spot-on and equally descriptive of Mitt Romney. Of course, both Bayh and Romney were born into the sort of privileged lives enjoyed by a tiny few and both traded on the accomplishments of their fathers in order to launch political careers of their own.

    At least Bayh had the good sense to realize that a colorless, stiff patrician like himself would probably never win the popularity contest that is the presidency. He no doubt also came to realize that his wife’s career of peddling his influence in numerous corporate board rooms would be an enormous liability.

    No surprise that Romney is incapable of reflection, but you’d think his handlers would have a clue as to how to program a robot to at least mouth some sympathetic words. Instead, they’re probably weighing the risk of alienating the “pro-bully” contingent who are up in arms about rules against bashing gays in school.

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  10. James said on May 11, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Well, at least this story argues for Mittens being just the man for the “bully pulpit.”

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  11. beb said on May 11, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Nancy, you have been thinking about this Romney story. This is one of your really great essays posted here. A detail I thought I saw somewhere was that Romney was a Senior at the time he cut that boy’s hair. 18. Old enough to join the army and kill people.

    My freshman year at college, this would have been 1968, I was assigned to a dorm that was full of jocks. Now this was a small church based college with pacifists leanings. The jocks’ idea of hazing was to grab a freshman, wrestle him to the floor, pull down his pants and fill his crotch with shaving cream. It was horrifying. It seemed a lot like rape and I couldn’t believe the school administration would tolerate such behavior. But they did. Looking back 40 years later I realize that it was exactly like rape except for the anal probing part. So when I read about Romney’s posse wrestling some kid to the ground and waving a pair of shears next to his eyes while they cut his hair my thought is: this is rape.

    A reader at Talkingpointsmemo makes an interesting observation about Romney’s inability to remember this incident. Victims remember it because it was so terrifying. We remember things that are terrifying, or invokes some other strong emotion (like hearing about Kennedy being shot). That Romney claims to not remember this incident suggests that it weren’t any strong emotions involved while doing it. Which suggests that Romney might be a sociopath. The story about Romney’s dog kind of points that way as well.

    And looking at my own life I’ve concluded that people don’t change much from grade school. If they were a dick back then, they’re probably still dicks today. So I find these stories significant.

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  12. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Guys like Romney are so snug inside their skin they can’t get out of it for a minute to even notice themselves propping a trash can full of water on that Jew’s door in the residence hall, or queuing up for the frathouse gang rape.
    T-Bogg is on the money here. Romney’s closest literary analog is Patrick Bateman.
    I don’t trust Romney’s memory of this as “dumb stuff” or pranks”, when the other guys involved say it torments them. It must really suck when you’re cooped up in faux English boarding school accommodations with some asshole who enforces the fag system with a vengeance, and he does it with your assistance.
    These things aren’t accidental. They were designed into the prep experience as much as the Prique-Gothique architecture.

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  13. Sue said on May 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

    What we can take from this is that Willard was a thoughtless jerk as a teen and subsequent events haven’t shown that he has grown out of it in any significant way. The man headed a company that destroyed people’s lives and as head of his household didn’t see that his wife could have used the same household help anyone of her economic and social class expected. So, no real story here unless these personality traits matter to you in your choice of a president.
    Personally, the only thing I feel about this story is a desire to watch “Animal House”.

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  14. Suzanne said on May 11, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I’m not so bothered that Mitt did something stupid as a teen-ager as I am by the fact that what he did is so fresh in the memories of everyone else, but he says he doesn’t even remember. So, he continues to inflict the trauma. I’m trying to imagine something like this happening to me or my kids, and it not even being a blip on the perp’s screen.

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  15. Connie said on May 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

    In my high school years a group of guys relentlessly bullied one of the girls in my class. They called her beagle, and howled whenever she walked past them in the hall. Many years later at a class reunion one of those guys, now an Assistant Principal at a nearby high school, told me he had made a point of contacting her and apologizing, something like 20 years after we graduated. He told me it was working in a high school that made him realize what complete assholes he and his friends had been.

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  16. Sue said on May 11, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Connie, if any of the bitches who made my life hell in 7th and 8th grades ever contacted me, I’m not sure I would bother to help them feel better about themselves. I wouldn’t want to revisit that for any reason.

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  17. Randy said on May 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Laura Lippman is da best.

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  18. Deborah said on May 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Empathy is what folks like Rmoney lack. Compared to Obama who shows plenty of empathy. Wouldn’t you rather have a prez who can imagine what life is like for people with say pre-existing conditions and then do something about it.

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  19. Dorothy said on May 11, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I find it hard to believe that he has no memory of this prank. The only possible explanation I can come up with, if I choose to believe he’s telling the truth is, he probably did so many shitty things like that, they all run together in his mind and he can’t discern one from another.

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  20. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Part of their campaign strategy has been to go through Dreams From My father with a highlighter and read passges back to the members of the base who can’t read themselves. A sort of priesthood of the “Obama eats dogs” sect.

    His staffers will have sat down with him and said. “This, being all we’ve got, is a lynchpin of our strategy. Now tell us what you did so we can defend your past.”

    He can’t even work with his campaign. That’s what health professionals call a crippling case of shit don’t stink.

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  21. jcburns said on May 11, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Have to get going on those ‘Romney for Bully [pulpit] 2012’ bumper stickers. Good line, James.

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  22. Pam said on May 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

    This Romney high school story is a window into this soulless rich guy’s real personality. A guy who would behave that way in HS is merely a follower and a hater, and has a lot in common with the anti-everything constituency that the pitiful Republican party started courting several years ago, thanks to Karl Rove, Rupert Murdock and their ilk. It wasn’t “just a high school prank”. The HS bullies singled themselves out and were generally people who didn’t have attentive parents or a good home life, perhaps had bad role models at home. Romney showed that he was still capable of low class behavior in his choice of careers in the financial sector. “Hey, let’s wrestle this company to the ground, cut off its hair, and steal all its money!!” Romney doesn’t have the character to be President. So he may be rich financially, but he is dirt poor personally.

    And lately, he’s taken from the Rove/Murdoch method, that if the truth doesn’t suit you, just tell a lie. Saved the Auto Industry? His ass! This guy went to Clown School for sure.

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  23. nancy said on May 11, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Good discussion so far, as usual.

    I never got around to my final point last night, which is why I made the headline for this piece “Progress.” I think the fact we’re talking about it this way says something good about where we are as a culture. Sometimes the anti-bullying movement pushes too far, but they do because they were pushed so far in the first place.

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  24. Laura Lippman said on May 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

    My friend Melinda Hennenberger, writing over at the Washington Post, says she thinks Romney is lying about the incident — and she thinks better of him for it. That is, what would be worse? Being such a casual bully that you can’t honestly remember doing such a thing, or remembering it but thinking it would be better to lie about it? In fact, claiming not to remember it is a darn subtle way of suggesting it never happened if one finds Romney at all credible.

    Is it trivial? Only in that it probably doesn’t change anyone’s mind. What does? Speaking for myself, I still hold most of the beliefs I held thirty years ago, with one major exception. I don’t think it will be a big factor for undecideds. But who says every story about the presidential candidates is about the election? Bullying is a front-and-center issue in our culture. To learn that a presidential candidate did something so breathtaking cruel is to be reminded how mainstream it is, how the perps aren’t always Kiefer Sutherland in Stand By Me.

    I’ve written a lot about kids because power dynamics are so raw, so exposed when we are young. We’re trying to figure out just what we control and it often turns out to be another kid who’s weaker or lower in our little social system. I remember some things I did when I was a teen — I had a pretty cutting tongue — and I cringe. I also remember having things said and done to me. Most of us live in that middle ground, have experiences bullying and being bullied. But some kids are perennial targets and some kids are perennial predators. Romney as a youth sounds like someone out of a John Hughes movie.

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  25. brian stouder said on May 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

    What Randy said!

    Nancy’s link to Laura Lippman’s essay is a superb ‘school days’ palate cleanser, after the young-Romney barbarity

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 11, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Mitt Romney as a Cylon. If you know the backstory on Battlestar Galactica mythology, this becomes a really interesting line of hypothetical.

    Not sure how to fit “All Along the Watchtower” into this.

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  27. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Jonah’s crew sluts urge him to “hold that Pareene boy down and lop off his hair.”

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  28. Bob (not Greene) said on May 11, 2012 at 11:12 am


    Thanks for that column. I don’t know that I have a favorite story I’ve done. Most likely it’s one I haven’t written yet, but that I’ve been doing research on since last July, involving a local savings and loan, the mob and a now-forgotten Las Vegas style hotel near O’Hare Airport.

    During my journey I’ve tracked down relatives of the bank owners (the son had no idea his dad was convicted of bank fraud — I wasn’t thrilled to be the one to let him know); reached out to the daughter of the hotel owner who was killed in a mob hit; found the son of another bank employee who was instrumental in the mob-related hotel loan that brought down the local savings and loan; oh, and I tracked down and interviewed Vic Damone and Shecky Greene, a pair of figure skating twins, and legendary local weatherman Harry Volkman who all appeared at a very odd two-week event at the savings and loan in January of 1963 that brought all of the story lines together (Tony Bennett never got back to me).

    All I need now is about a month to write the thing.

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  29. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

    One of the commenters at Wonkette came up with another literary analog for Mitt: Harry Flashman without the suavity.

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  30. Julie Robinson said on May 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Progress? I’ve been following this story all week.

    1. Openly gay student who likes to accessorize with his Mom’s purses and jewelry is repeatedly harassed and bullied by other students despite his pleas to the administration.

    2. Mom gives student stun gun, with which he fires a warning shot when surrounded by six (SIX!) students who are threatening him with a beating.

    3. Student is expelled, while those who bullied him “cannot be positively identified” and go free. He cannot attend school again until January 2013.

    4. Indianapolis School system touts their anti-bullying programs and says weapons cannot be brought to school under any conditions.

    5. Name of high school? Arsenal. You can’t make this stuff up.

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  31. Joe Kobiela said on May 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I know Ill get flack on this. But if you go back to Clinton and his impropriety in the white house. I did not have sex with that woman miss Lewinsky. I was told over and over personal life doesn’ t mean anything. Only how you Govern. So isn’t it the same here. Only how he governs NOW not what’s in the past
    Wasting away in Disney.
    Pilot Joe

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  32. brian stouder said on May 11, 2012 at 11:30 am

    psssst…Joe, Laura Lippman (or at least, Molly Hennenberger – who I have seen many times on Rachel’s show) AGREES with you.

    Aside from that – I could not possibly agree more regarding John Hughes; Pam and I love all the John Hughes movies, especially Breakfast Club. (Pam likes Sixteen Candles best, I think; although Pretty in Pink leaps to mind)

    Those Molly Ringwald movies really capture a lot. It is tempting to say they are definitive ‘80’s movies – which indeed they are.

    But they’re more than that. Hughes (et al) was able to present truths in a memorable and entertaining way. (I suppose that this is always an artist’s goal; Hughes, et al, repeatedly achieved it)

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  33. Sue said on May 11, 2012 at 11:36 am

    psssst… Joe, see my comment at 13.

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  34. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

    If I could put time in a bottle
    the first thing that I’d like to do
    is to put the old days
    in a small shallow grave
    like the grave that I dug for you.

    If I could make money from wishes
    I’d wish all them unions away
    then I’d join all that cash with my daddy’s big stash
    and dance in that cornfield all day.

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  35. adrianne said on May 11, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I sense that Mittens’ exposure as prep-school prick is becoming a defining moment in his campaign.

    Here’s Andy Borowitz imagining a letter of apology from Mitt:

    “The fact is, boys will be boys. Who among us hasn’t shoved a crippled kid down a flight of stairs? That’s something else I did in those mischievous days, but the mainstream media isn’t reporting it because they want to turn this into an anti-gay thing. The fact is, when I was in high school I played pranks on everyone – blind kids, deaf kids, dwarves and Jews.”

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  36. Charlotte said on May 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I did my PhD at the University of Utah, and what struck me about the Mittens-at-Cranbrook story was how typical is was of Mormon social policing. There’s a strong tradition in Mormonism of policing your neighbors and reporting back to your Bishop (Mittens was also a Bishop, no?) to bring people into line. It’s a deeply, deeply conformist society in which bullying is, as Scout noted at 2, a feature not a bug.

    So by claiming he hardly remembers it, he aligns himself with the folks who think that this kind of social policing is good and that freaks and weirdos should be beaten up, regularly.

    As for the kids-will-be-kids thing. My brother went to camp with Randy Hopper, the now-disgraced Wisconisn state senator. On the one hand, Randy was kind enough to call me when Patrick died in a car wreck 8 years ago (I hadn’t spoken to him in probably 20 years –amazing how the grapevine goes into immediate effect) but on the other hand, he always was a silver-spoon elitist dickhead who believed he’d personally earned the fruits of his father’s car-dealership fortune. I grew up broke, in Lake Forest, with a social-register type mom, so I knew a lot of those overprivileged kids and the ones who were dicks at 10 are still dicks as adults. The ones who had some empathy, even if it wasn’t consistent, aren’t such dicks.

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  37. Prospero said on May 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Jon Stewart mocking the NC marriage amendment.

    Art Spiegelman/Maurice Sendak.

    If Mitt really doesn’t remember cutting that kid’s hair, he’s a monster with narcissistic personality disorder going all the way back to his childhood. Joe might have a point, but Willard is still getting this all wrong as an adult. The situation and his response is all of a piece with his comment on Limbaugh/Fluke “those are not the words I’d have used.” Too lame to be tepid. And calling the assault all those years ago a “prank” just doan get it, Mittens. The irony of the victim being expelled for smoking a cigarette while his assailants went scot-free is particularly galling.

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  38. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    We laughed, we cried. But at the end of the day, the homiciders won, and forced us at P-E-N-I-S point to drink their fungal brew.

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  39. Bob (not Greene) said on May 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Cooze, I don’t even know what to think of that. That’s what we’re up against folks.

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  40. Sherri said on May 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    This Romney incident isn’t shocking; it’s of a piece with many of the other stories about him, and no, not just the dog story. It fits right in with “I like firing people”, and how everybody should take risks and “borrow money from your parents.” I can’t fault Romney for being privileged; he didn’t get to choose his parents and upbringing. What’s deadly is the privilege mixed with a lack of self-awareness. Whether he’s lying about remembering this particular prank or not, it’s clear from many things both he and his wife said that they really have no self-awareness about themselves or their privilege.

    Telling poor people they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps is akin to telling a depressed person they should just snap out of it; both show a lack of empathy and are stunningly ineffective.

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  41. Catherine said on May 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    One my favorite authors, Sherman Alexie, summed it up nicely on twitter: “Romney, prep school asshole, is the bad guy from every high school movie ever. This is not surprising news.”

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  42. nancy said on May 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Why I always read Roy: “Our first suicide bomber president!”

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  43. Jeff Borden said on May 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    My biggest problem with Mitt Romney is that he seems to contain nothing but ambition. His political beliefs are ridiculously fluid, shifting and moving as circumstances dictate. The one constant is his belief in himself and his own rectitude, whatever purpose it might be put to.

    As dangerous as ideologues can be (see Bush, George W. administration), overly ambitious types can be just as scary. The prospect of a Romney presidency is particularly worrisome because (a) he will be pushed around by the teabaggers in the Congress since he has no core beliefs beyond getting elected, (b) he is committed t enlarging the defense budget even beyond the current bloated levels and adding another 100,000 people to the armed forces and (c) is a long-time friend of Bibi Netanyahu, which virtually guarantees a military involvement with Iran.

    Let’s not even contemplate the resurrection of Bush era losers, many of which already are attached to Mitten’s campaign.

    I know many of our fellow citizens are dumber than a bag of hammers, but do they really, truly want to go back to the Bush way of doing things? Do they hate gays, immigrants, minorities and the colored fellow in the Oval Office so virulently they’ll take us down this road again?

    Yeah. I know the answer.

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  44. Julie Robinson said on May 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Earlier this week my aunt in Iowa told me that Obama hates America. I have to go spend time with her and her less-moderate husband in June for a family reunion/80th birthday party for Mom, and am seeking out coping techniques. I’ve already opted for staying at a hotel instead of their house and shortening the trip by a day. But boy howdy I’m dreading the experience.

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  45. Rana said on May 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Julie – bring a book? Unfortunately the only semi-practical advice I can offer, which will not be useful in a lot of situations, is when they get going on stuff like that, is to get up, without saying a word, and leave the room. Engaging with them won’t change their minds, but it will raise your blood pressure, and sitting there taking it will have the same effect. So leave the room. If you want to preserve a veneer of politeness, invent an excuse like needing a glass of water or having to visit the toilet, but there’s something to be said for silently leaving with no explanation at all. (The advantage of this technique is that it removes you from the source of the aggravation, and it makes it harder for them to complain. They can’t turn your words against you if you say nothing, and complaining that you keep leaving the room will make them sound silly.)

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  46. Julie Robinson said on May 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Great advice, Rana. I’m going to focus on taking oral histories of family members, and plan on needing to go to a quiet place for that. We thought we had dodged the bullet for a few years by taking Mom to a funeral out there last summer. These folks were always conservative, but they’ve gone full-steam Tea Party Express. My incredibly mild mannered husband has refused to go and we’ve had to invent a work excuse.

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  47. alex said on May 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Julie, I’ve reached the point where I don’t suffer fools talking about politics, no matter how near and dear they may be to me as people, and I simply tell them that I disagree, that I cannot abide that kind of talk and could we move on to something else please. If they persist, that’s when I get up and leave.

    Some people need to be reminded–politely but firmly–not to presume that others agree with them or will allow themselves to be browbeaten. I used to be afraid to stand my ground, but not anymore, and I feel lots better.

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  48. Prospero said on May 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Julie, I’d try pot, or perhaps some Vitamin V. Either would help take the edge off that President Mau Mau merde.

    Gay GOPers flat out flummoxed by Obama marriage equality statement.

    Boy, Roy Edroso is right on the money concerning Mickey Kaus. What a tool.

    Out of the ordinary graduation story.

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  49. Charlotte said on May 11, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Steve Almond on Mitt, middle-school bullying and how it’s remembered:

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  50. LAMary said on May 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I’m with you, Alex. I say I disagree and I don’t want to argue, so let’s change the subject. In my family I’m the odd one out and it makes family visits tough.

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  51. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    For a while, my only consolation dealing with both Republican sides of our family was hearing them discuss their latest balloon angioplasty or quintuple bypass while they washed pulled pork into their faces with sweet tea.
    Sometimes the toughest part was to resist making the easy jokes, i.e. “These must be your shoes, DeWayne. There’s a couple toes in ’em!”.

    It got harder after one of the more adamantly racist law and order types got sent up for armed robbery once his medical bills bankrupted him, and he hit upon the standard white trash solution.

    These encounters used to provoke a mixture of pity and terror in me. Now disgust is all I have left. Life’s too short and too beautiful to let these monsters poison it.

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  52. MichaelG said on May 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Cooz, your friend is wrong about Mitt and Flashman. Flashman may have stumbled here or bumbled there but he was basically well intentioned and a good guy. Not true for Mitt, as today’s comments will show. As Lloyd Bengtson said: “I knew Harry Flashman and you are no Harry Flashman”. Or something like that.

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  53. Jimmie Cracked Thornes said on May 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    The Romney bully smear is falling apart at a rate about seven times faster than the “Sarah Palin burned books” smear proved to be complete crap.

    When you find yourself trying to pack rhetorical cobwebs into cannonballs, you’ve already lost.

    Is this and the dog thing really the best smear you’ve got? Sheesh. Good luck. You’ve got 254 days to work up your next plan.

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  54. Bob (not Greene) said on May 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Hiya Dwight! How’s the inbreeding going?

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  55. Hattie said on May 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    There seems to be a lot of interest in bullying right now, thanks to Romney’s behavior in high school. I was bullied a lot for not being cute, for wearing funny clothes, having the obvious stigmata of economic marginality and geekiness and so on. Guess what. That made me strong, willing to go my own way if I had to. If I don’t meet the standards of perfection dictated to females, well that’s tough. I learned I could survive all that. Apparently all Ms. Romney heard growing up was how beautiful she was, inside and out. That set her up to be the tool of others and to expect the perfect life. Poor thing.
    The worst bully I ever encountered in high school was a Mormon kid who is now an active Bishop and probably a worthwhile person, if I can judge by his career path. His politics are way to the right. He is now portly and plain. This is all information I gleaned on him from googling his rather unusual name.
    In class he would tell me I was ugly, had big feet and should shut up. He was a skinny puny guy who rolled up the sleeves of his shirt to the armpit and had a comb stuck in there somewhere to groom his greasy hair. I guess he picked on girls because he wasn’t big enough and strong enough to take on the boys. Anyway, this is a good experience to have. Consider the source. This is not a powerful person but a guy with geek problems of his own that thought he would take it out on someone he perceived as weaker than he was. That’s why I think kids should go to public schools and mix it up with all kinds. I think most bullies are like him. Romney is qualitatively different, of course, since he was so willing to instigate an assault and had a gang to back him up.
    Romney is a very bad man and should not become President.

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  56. Jeff Borden said on May 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    The only thing missing from Dwight’s screed is a little spittle on the keyboard.

    Try harder, you silly punk.

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  57. Jeff Borden said on May 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    It has to be Dwight masquerading as another. The “source” of his facts are a Breitbart website, which is automatically disqualified as absolute horseshit, and Faux News, which deals in an even more toxic version of shit.

    It’s so cute when conservatives try to be newsy, LOL.

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  58. coozledad said on May 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Even Napoleon could see the Prussians sweeping westward from Quatre-bras.
    He removed his Brienne school hat and stomped it into the spongy Belgian soil.
    “Where’s Grouchy? I thought he took care of them.”
    His adjutant remained silent.
    “Well, form up the artillery. We can stop them with grape.
    “I’m sorry, sir. All we have is….cannonballs. Stuffed with rhetorical cobwebs.”
    “Ahhh. Tis a short step from the sublime to What The Fuck?!”

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  59. Bitter Scribe said on May 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    What kills me about this Mitt bullying thing is, he couldn’t even confront this sissy kid one-on-one. He had to round up a gang to do it.

    What does that tell you about character?

    At my prep school, the son of the governor of New Hampshire was in my dorm. Great guy.

    We were in the same American history class. At election time, the teacher called on all of us to talk briefly about the political situation in our home states.

    Andy said a few words about the governor’s race, then looked down at his shoes and mumbled, “The incumbent wasn’t even nominated.”

    If he’d been an arrogant jerk like Romney, I might have cackled or something. But my heart went out to him, because he was such a nice guy and this was obviously painful for him.

    Don’t ever let anyone tell you “it was just high school.” That’s where character starts to emerge.

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  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Bitter Scribe, yesterday, Andover was what I was asking about. There’s a Peabody Archaeology building on campus, and for all I know, it’s no longer used by students at all. I know too much about its founding in 1902 by R.S. Peabody, and Moorehead, the first curator, but my knowledge ends in the late 1930s when Moorehead died.

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  61. Bitter Scribe said on May 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    JTMMO: Hmm. Doesn’t ring a bell, but then, I’ve repressed a lot.

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  62. Prospero said on May 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Juan Cole compares RMoney to I’madinnerjacket claiming there are no gay Iranis. Yeah, it was a long time ago. That just makes RMoney’s present day poh-poohing and acting like nobody knew about homosexuality back then more infuriating. There was a kid in my grammar school that sounds a lot like Willard’s victim, and he was tormented by classmates as young as 10 or 11 for his effeminate mannerisms.

    The accounts of the incident aound like Willard was more intereested in an audience than he was in a posse. The entire assault was an act of cowardly self-aggrandizement. From what I recall of his father’s character, George would have kicked Mitt’s ass had he known about the harrassment. Describing such abhorrent behavior as “high-jinks” makes Mittens look like creepy sumbitch now when he could have handled it entirely differently.

    And Jimmy Asscrack is an idiot if he thinks this can be sloughed of as a smear. This incident has been verified by four of Mits HS friends, independently of one another. He could have made it go away, easily, if he wasn’t basically such an obnoxious, sociopathic prick at heart. And guess where RMoney will be tomorrow. Giving a commencement address at Liberty University. Perfect setting for some gay-bashing.

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  63. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    It seems to be on limited hours these days –

    That might not be a new thing, but I wondered.

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  64. brian stouder said on May 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    From Nancy’s Roy link, above:

    The ultimate aim of the radical left has been to destroy religion – especially Western Christendom. Once a religion dies, so does the culture and civilization it spawned. America is at a crossroads, enmeshed in a cultural war with homosexual advocates like Mr. Obama who are determined to strike at the very nexus of our civilization.


    So, if history began 15 years ago, one might excuse such a stupid bit of puffery.

    But, consider what the “radical right” actually DID do, to the United States of America, in 1861. And the rich and powerful bastards of that day made all of the same sort of benighted, elitist arguments that are being made now. They had a deal in place that they liked: people enslaved based on race; the vote mostly limited to white males and/or property owners; no EPA or Education Department or pesky ACLU; a national Know Nothing party that makes our current tea-party boobs look like the pikers and wannabes that they are; and forget about ‘border problems’ with Mexico! Hell, we shoved the damned border southward and westward and used our military in the classic way that George Carlin described (“take their fucking land!”)…when we weren’t fooling around thinking about conquering Canada……and America’s 19th century right-wing lunatics STILL weren’t satisfied!

    Forget this shit-for-brains guy who says that modern America “is at a crossroads, enmeshed in a cultural war with homosexual advocates like Mr. Obama who are determined to strike at the very nexus of our civilization”

    It’s time to “wave the bloody shirt” and remind Americans that we’ve done all this stupid horse shit-before; and by “we”, I mean a resolute, unbending, murderous and suicidal reactionary right wing versus a unionist, conciliatory (some would – wrongly – say “spineless”) American president and people.

    That imperfect (but plenty good enough!) president once wrote, with regard to the gradual abolishment of slavery (directed at the loyal border states, amidst the terrible war):

    “You can not if you would, be blind to the signs of the times — I beg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above personal and partizan politics — This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting no reproach upon any — It acts not the pharisee. The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of heaven, not rending or wrecking anything — Will you not embrace it? So much good has not been done, by one effort, in all past time, as, in the providence of God, it is now your high previlege to do — May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it.”

    These things never, ever change. I think the 21st century has better food, better medicine, and trickier gadgets all around. But lots and lots of 21st century Americans are just as willfully “blind to the signs of the times” as 19th century Americans were.

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  65. Deborah said on May 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Brian, can I just say that I love reading your comments. I just do.

    I took most of the day off unexpectedly. I had absolutely nothing to do at work today, long story but everybody knows I’m retiring in 5 months so I’m not getting assigned to projects that have longer lives. I decided to take an early lunch and when I got outside and realized how grand the weather was I spontaneously decided to take the rest of the day off. It was marvelous.

    Before I left the office though, I got a barrage of e-mails about what to expect next week and the week after because of this NATO summit coming up.The building I live in also sent out a memo about everyone having to carry ID to walk the streets of our neighborhood. One of the missives at work said that if for instance the police were tear gassing State Street then we should use the Wabash exit. And they said it might be a good idea to bring clean clothes in case we got stuck in the building overnight. Starting This coming Monday, a week before the event we will be required to go through a whole different security clearance to get into our building. I think this is all ridiculous.

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  66. brian stouder said on May 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Deborah, same back atcha! and for the record, I wish I was 5 months from retirement. (and indeed, here’s hoping that the good guys keep the bad guys away, in your neck of the woods, while NATO does whatever they’re planning on doing next week)

    Rachel hammered on Michigan again, with a focus on the “Emergency Manager” in Pontiac who sold the Silver Dome for next-to-nothing, and now stands to benefit, hugely and obscenely, and personally.

    Michael Moore had the best line, when he wondered aloud how the R’s in Michigan would feel about this sort of governmental action if President Obama swooped in and appointed a ‘Michigan czar’ emergency manager to supersede Governor Snyder, since the whole damned state is broke.

    Somehow, I suspect that their attitude about the wisdom of these supernumerary actors would change pretty quickly.

    G’night, y’all

    edit: almost forgot; Three Cheers for Nancy and all her commenters for getting through the whole week without any comment on a certain news weekly’s ridiculous (and blatantly calculated) cover photograph. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

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  67. alex said on May 11, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Speaking of which, Brian, that was kind of a yawner. On the bright side, a lot of uninformed people are learning what boobs were made for.

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  68. Jolene said on May 12, 2012 at 1:10 am

    James Fallows on the Romney hair-cutting story, a perspective from a man of about the same age on the treatment of kids who were, in the parlance of the time, perceived to be “sissies.”

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  69. alex said on May 12, 2012 at 8:11 am

    U.S. Conference of Bishops Seeks to Vindicate Bob Morris

    World flat, Thin Mints powerful lesbian aphrodisiac, Bishop Rhoades reveals

    Pedophile priests scandal called “scurrilous Sierra Club propaganda,” part of big global warming hoax

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  70. David C. said on May 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

    When I was bullied in HS, it was by a common HS thug. His family was probably one of the poorest and most downtrodden in the district. His old man beat the shit out of him, I was small and skinny and quiet, so he beat the shit out of me. It was all he knew so I can forgive him for that. If it someone like Mitt – beating me because he could and because I didn’t live up to his warped standard, I could never forgive that. I normally scoff when anyone plays armchair psychologist and assigns some diagnosis to a politician, but the more of this that comes out the more he looks like a sociopath to me.

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  71. Kim said on May 12, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Bob NG, I bet that story has all the usual suspects (or their parents) in it. Spend an hour on it first thing every day and in a few weeks you will have written it! Wait til later in the day and it’s a story you’ll tell about the one you didn’t write but should have.

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  72. Prospero said on May 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Astoundingly cringe-worthy defenses of Bullard RMoney from Faux and Breitbart, Tortured logic in defense of the indefensible. Truly shameless bullshinola.

    Don’t Goldberg’s Pulitzer nominations reside in that same realm of delusional, self-aggrandizing imagination as O’Reilly’s Peabody Awards. At least Goldberg was technically telling the truth and relying on ignorant credulity from his legions of cretinous readers. Spinmeister O was just making shit up out of the clear blue.

    WTF is wrong with Americans?

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  73. Jakash said on May 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    David C.,
    I think you make a very good point about the difference in social standing between the average school bully and a privileged guy like Romney, and that it may well indicate something about his personality.

    As for some armchair analysis (tongue firmly in-cheek here), perhaps we underestimate the emotional scarring ole Mitt suffered due to being associated with the runt of the Detroit litter. From the WaPo article:

    “Romney even came in for teasing because American Motors, the company his father ran, was considered at the bottom rung of the big-auto hierarchy, below General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.” … “The children of other auto executives would taunt Romney for the Ramblers he and his father drove. ‘That’s not a car, that’s a bicycle with a dishwasher for an engine,’ Bailey recalled them saying.”

    Sheesh, it’s amazing he ever amounted to anything — the poor guy was stuck driving a Rambler.

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  74. Jolene said on May 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Wow, the Trayvon Martin-shaped target is really something. I wonder what sort of person you have to be to even think of something like that.

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  75. Prospero said on May 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Mother’s Day, Konrad Lorenz and imprinting.

    Ultimate seed catalog.

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  76. beb said on May 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    brian stouder @66: Actually, in re Michael Moore, not broke. It’s even enjoying a budgetary embarrassment of riches because the auto industry is doing better than it has. Still the larger point is try, how would Republicans feel if Pres. Obama appointed a special manager for, say, Texas?

    But the truth is that the Republicans have no policies, no philosophy. All they have is a craven desire to rule and will do anything and say anything to get all the marbles. Which what we’ve seen in the last two years in both the House of Representatives and in state governments.

    It’s supposed to be wrong to make references to the National Socialist party but isn’t this how they took over Germany, by refusing to compromise on anything with anybody?

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  77. Rana said on May 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I don’t normally respond to trolls (except to taunt them) but that comment above about discussion of Romney’s past as a bully being a “smear” has reminded me of some other similar comments, and how much I hate them.

    There is something sad and small-souled about people who, when presented with an act of human unkindness, cannot respond to it except in terms of seeing it as a move in a game of political strategy. It’s the same mentality that leads to people gleefully pointing out that Zimmerman was a Democrat, as if that meant anything outside of a wanker’s game of gotcha. Rather than engage with the substance of the event – one person abused another person, one person abused a dog, one person shot another person – these folks take the stance that talking with outrage about it must “really” be about scoring political points, rather than an honest reaction to a human misdeed. It’s like the folks who think that one’s “playing the race card” (I mean, it’s right there in the phrase itself!) when pointing out race-based injustice, or those who think that talking about incidents of racism is more racist than the actual racism. Or the ones who think sexist insults are just fine when applied to the other side, but beyond the pale when applied to people they support.

    I find that lack of empathy and moral principle profoundly appalling. The irony is, of course, that should any of those folks read this comment, they will see my commentary not as an honest expression of my opinions, but a calculated move in a game whose strategy is about making the other guy look bad.

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  78. nancy said on May 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I’d only remind people that the GOP were the ones who decided these “character issues” matter so much. If they think the guy’s behavior as a teenager isn’t important, ok, fine. The pledge of allegiance wasn’t important, either, but they said it was. Sauce, geese, ganders, etc.

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  79. Dexter said on May 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    This story broke Thursday afternoon and I am still steaming about it.
    The acts Romney performed against the kid at Cranbrook should have been viewed as criminal, maybe by today’s society, a hate crime.
    I am sure this will die down long before convention time, but along with the revelation about the way Romney disenfranchised so many American workers when he was involved with Bain Capital, we now have a much clearer view into just what Mitt Romney is made of.
    Al Gore was denied his place in history by a right-leaning SCOTUS, John Kerry was beaten down as a phony war hero by people claiming to be witnesses, when in truth Kerry was skipper of a river boat on the most dangerous waters in the world at the time. As a Vietnam vet, I can tell you, that was some serious , dangerous duty, and Kerry was portrayed as a coward, and then had Ohio stolen from him by the infamous Ken Blackwell with dirty election procedures.
    Obama reversed the trend, and maybe, hopefully, these truths about Mitt Romney will help defeat Romney.
    I have been very critical of Obama’s first term; he has fallen short in many areas in my opinion, but I hope he beats Romney. Why? Because I hate that son of a bitch.

    Anybody a devotee of Spotify? Music surely sounds good on Spotify.

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  80. Basset said on May 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Dunno about Spotify but I saw the cleaned up and remastered “Yellow Submarine” today, in an artsy little theater with great projection and surround sound. Amazing, even at noon and dead sober.

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  81. brian stouder said on May 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Dexter, this Romney story is the damnedest thing. One wonders why it didn’t break years ago, when he ran against Teddy, or when he won the Governor’s house in Massachusetts.

    Honestly, I think if this story broke 20 years ago, it would have been less damaging to Mitt; the flip-side of Nancy’s comment at 23.*

    Lawrence O’Donnell specifically ran the video of Anne Romney (in her $1100 tee shirt) going on about how much of an uninhibited jester and funnyman Mitt really is, within his buttoned-up, suit-and-tie exterior. O’Donnell’s point was that Mitt and Anne knew this big story was coming at that moment; they had spoken with the journalist, as their friends (clearly!) had. Her remarks at that time were an (exceptionally lame!) attempt to get out in front of it.

    Romney continually displays a quintessentially clueless demeanor; he really and truly, genuinely and sincerely does NOT get it.

    Aside from that, happy Mother’s day to all the moms! Pammy took me off the hook and ordered herself a fancy-schmancy cell phone of some sort. Tomorrow I will cook steaks on the grill, and the kids will present their cards to her, and generally try and give her a pleasant Sunday. And then, we go to gramma’s house, and present to her some books she’s been wanting (can’t tell you the series their from, but Pam says they’re pleasantly trashy, so there’s that)

    *I watched Mitt’s commencement speech at Falwell U (Liberty?) earlier today, and it was flatly bizarre to hear a (former) Mormon bishop lecture us about “traditional” marriage being between one man and one woman.

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  82. Dexter said on May 12, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Yes, as Brian said, Happy Mothers’ Day to all.
    We are headed to Toledo tomorrow for a backyard ribfest. The eighty-five minute drive is a piece of cake compared to all the trips we make to Columbus, which is about three hours and ten minutes. A somber downtake, Mom died on the 13th of May, 2004.

    Photo contest: Like Mother, Like Daughter…San Francisco

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  83. Prospero said on May 13, 2012 at 12:07 am

    DEXTER,HOW BOUT THAT BOY HITTING ALL THEM HOMERS. , FAIRLY AWSOME, EH? LIKE COLAVITO. THE ROCK. Back when we were young’ un baxeball fans. I remember the summer Northrup hit one bases loaded after another. Greatest Tigers summer ever. Tigers ruled in those days, I/m loving these tigers. Not quite the Dodgers, but they can play. It’s a good-looking season Dex. They are playing like Jackie is on board. And that is how to play.

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  84. JWfromNJ said on May 13, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Respectfully, that seed website pales in comparison to my favorite, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds,

    I had 20 different tomato varieties a few summers ago, including the Paul Robeson. The website is fun to check out but do yourself a favor and sign up for the 2013 print catalog. 2012 is gone already. Each year its like a coffee table book, full of color, history, and great tips. I haven’t had a garden the past two years because my soil in Florida is horrible and the bugs are on their game all the time. I keep wanting to put in a raised bed garden but lack the funds to do it right. Back in Indiana I swept the tomato classes at the local fair three years in a row, it’s the old school Italian in me.

    And for kicks, even if you can’t have them where you live, the Murray McMurray poultry catalog is worth ordering too.

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  85. Dexter said on May 13, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Well, Prospero, Oakland handed them their asses again tonight.
    A total of zero runs for Detroit. Lots of grumblings this was not supposed to be a sub-.500 team. Yep, that ol’ Texas boy, he’s got it goin’ all right, running away with the Triple Crown these days. His only problem is that it seems like when the Jesus starts overflowing his capacity, he’s just got to go get really drunk in public.

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  86. ROGirl said on May 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Speaking of commencement addresses and Romneys, the speaker at my high school graduation was Mitt’s old man, George. The only thing I remember about what he said was that the girls should get married and have babies while the boys go out and do their career thing. It was in the midst of the era of the first wave of feminism, and I was stunned that such a retrograde notion would be voiced to our huge baby boom graduating class. I guess the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree.

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  87. LAMary said on May 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Not many photos but amazing seed collection.

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  88. Linda said on May 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Re: tomato growing. I’m tickled as hell-2 of my Arkansas Travelers have flowers on them. Got the seeds from a seed swap in February–year-old seeds for free. I’ve never tried these before.

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  89. beb said on May 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I came across a comment yesterday about Mitt that kind of resonates with this Cranbrook story. At the time George Romney was Chairman of American Motors. AMC was never a part of “The Big Three (GM, Ford, Chrysler). So while his classmates were being picked up in Cadilacs and Lincoln Continentals, Mitt was being picked up in a … Rambler. How that must have hurt. Oh, the shame. And how do you hide shame? By being a bully. So is Mitt’s problem car envy?

    Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.

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  90. coozledad said on May 13, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I just like the name TBogg found for him on twitter: The Demon Barber of Cranbrook.

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  91. basset said on May 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I have about thirty plants out around the yard and we are currently experiencing a nice soaking rain that’s been going on for about the last twelve hours. last one I put out was a “Kellogg’s Breakfast” from Wenke in Kalamazoo (right down the road from Battle Creek) by way of the local farmer’s market, we’ll see what happens with it…snap, crackle, pop as the birds and bugs take hold, I suppose.

    We have chest-high tomato stakes lined up with the shrubs in front and on one side of the house, another patch on the other side and one in back; looks like we’re expecting amphibious invasion or something. Been doing fairly well with them the last few years, barring the flood year, but I still think about bringing a load of Daviess County tomato dirt back with me every time I’m up that way.

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  92. Prospero said on May 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Dexter, Spotify is featuring a new Jack White album currently, called Blunderbuss. Outstanding. Sounds like a cross of Led Zep and Dexter Romweber.

    SLightly strange Mother’s Day message from Bonnie Raitt and Major League Baseball:

    The wonders of Adderall (which DoD feeds to American soldiers):

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  93. alex said on May 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I went to boarding school with a kid whose dad was a Shakey’s Pizza franchisee. Poor kid.

    Reading about Cranbrook brought back a lot of memories of my own schooling. We actually had students who’d been thrown out of Cranbrook. Very much the same sort of culture and I certainly took more than my fair share of crap. I relived plenty of it as a Freudian analysand over the course of many years and no longer dwell on it, or live in fear of being terrorized by others, but I think it’s high time our society addressed the bullying issue and I’m glad it’s front and center.

    Mitt strikes me as sort of a latter-day Eddie Haskell—poised and unctuous and oblivious to the fact that everyone can clearly see he’s the cat that ate the canary. For all of his hundreds of millions, the one thing he never acquired in his lifetime is wisdom. He’s still holding himself up for judgment and trying to be Mr. Popular—in a party that has become every bit as arbitrary, provincial and punishing as an old-fashioned Episcopalian boarding school. In actively campaigning against gay people (whose vote he once curried, claiming to be more pro-gay than Ted Kennedy), he might as well be holding them down and committing an assault on their person in order to win the approval of a bunch of rowdy thugs who don’t really like him anyway. Plus ca change…

    Time to get outta my armchair and go plant some tomaters.

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  94. MichaelG said on May 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Happy Mothers’ Day to all who are!

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  95. Prospero said on May 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    One thing struck me besides RMoney’s Lord of the Flies behavior in that story. My own HS in Detroit regularly turned out three and four times as many National Merit Semifinalists (scholarship need not considered) as Cranbrook. Just a better school. And the tuition was $900 my senior year. Fuck Cranbrook. Cranbrook may have made the turds whose parents dumped them there pretend to be studious, but any dumbass whose parents could pony up the cash could get in there and graduate with “gentleman’s Cs”.

    I took some shit from Pulte neighborhood kids for going to the Cranbrook Summer Theater, and I can’t imagine now how I ever got the idea in the first place. We put on plays in an outdoor Greek Theater recreation at the school every week, and took classes in dance (that one didn’t have any lasting effect), theatrical makeup (I can do scars), and voice (I can sing if I imitate Lou Reed or Bob Dylan). The head of the program was Karl Wonnberger, the old guy Mitt pulled his “hilarious” unopened door prank on. A nice old character with a wife that had obviously been a hot ticket in her distant, dewy youth. Probably a showgirl. Anyway, they were enthusiastic about the summer camp and wrote new scripts every week for the performance programs. Classes and rehearsals in mornings, PMs free for swimming in a gigantic whale shaped asphalt pool called the Jonah Pool, and serious messing with theater girls, who had imaginations Catholic School Girls might never catch up with. It was a pretty sexually charged atmosphere, and cast parties after plays were decadent. All in all, it was a lot of fun.

    Alex, Eddie Haskell is right on the money. Or Porgy Tirebiter. But unctuous is too polite. Oleaginous is the proper descriptor. And what sort of human being rubs his wealth in the world’s faces and then whines about them being jealous? That is sociopathic behavior. Mittens is a repulsive shitheel, not quite as odious as Sanitorum, but close to making Newt seem human.

    I went to boarding school with a kid whose dad was a Shakey’s Pizza franchisee.

    Played in the movie by Romney Dangerfield, right?

    What we have on the stereo:

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  96. Prospero said on May 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Those guys that said Mittster was a bully, they weren’t popular anyway. Like those Swiftboat assholes were ever within 100 miles of Kerry’s swiftboat you pathetic liars. Mitt and the boyos:

    That is Raygunomics and GOPerism, idn’t it?

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  97. Charlotte said on May 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    My favorite seed company is — Seeds of Italy. They sell Franchi brand — established in the late 1700s — fabulous seeds. Everything grows like gangbusters and they have all these wonderful unusual Italian greens — I’m a big devotee of Cima di Rapa (a turnip green I think) and Senza Testa (a mustard?). Good tomato varieties as well — I even grew a couple of their big tomatoes here in Montana once or twice (although these days I stick to short-season varieties).
    I’m also a big fan of Seeds Trust …

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  98. Prospero said on May 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I just saw an attractive photo of glass gem corn. Doan know dick about seed catalogs, just thought y’all would like it. GOPers: Kerry was a fake and W was an authentic war hero. What is the matter with people so brain-damaged they buy this shit. Barney pissed on W’s head, you fucking morons.

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  99. Deborah said on May 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Burp. I just finished my mother’s day meal of homemade pasta with bolognese sauce, my favorite. We’re having dessert of berries with vanilla mascarpone (and honey) coming next. Is this decadent, or what? And of course a good red wine.

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  100. basset said on May 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Taking a break from writing a fishing video… those Italian seeds look most interesting, will have to order some. Haven’t found a place to actually buy the glass gem corn, though, nice as it looks.

    Still raining, lightly. Feels good, but Mrs. B. said this morning it was “scary.” River out back is only a little short of four feet on the US Geological Survey gauge a half-mile upstream, though; normal level is around two feet this time of year, flood stage is twenty, and it got over forty during the flood two years ago.

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  101. brian stouder said on May 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Basset, I thought you had moved away from the Harpeth, no?

    Deborah, that does sound delightfully decadent. Pam made a “trifle”*, with brownie-like cake, those little Reeses peanut butter cups, and creamy whipped topping. That stuff should be a controlled substance.

    I was cooking steaks on the grill, when I noticed that it wasn’t smoking anymore. Upon investigation, I found that we had run out of gas. So, after running to the service station and exchanging the tank, I installed the full tank, while Pam (unbeknownst to me) moved my chair, so that once things were going again, I went to sit down and went ass-over-tea-kettle(but I didn’t spill my icy cold Diet Pepsi!), which gave Pam her laugh of the day.

    All was well, and everything ended well

    *she made this before Mother’s day, with a view to bringing it to gramma’s house, which she did

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  102. Deborah said on May 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    And I forgot to mention that the berries with mascarpone had a topping of rhubarb compote. We bought the rhubarb Saturday morning at the green market on Division. It was very tart which contrasted nicely with the sweet berries and mascarpone whipped with vanilla and honey. Yum. Little Bird is quite the chef.

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  103. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Fired a guy at Scout camp who was an experienced range director, but who brought human outline targets out for the 410 shotguns. He was warned that this was against Scouting policy and my own sense of decency, and his argument was “I wanted the kids to see what a shotgun does versus a rifle, because they don’t understand a spread of pellets; it’s a safety teaching tool.” I told him “interesting argument, but do what the last fifteen range directors have done on range safety orientation and take down a watermelon from 50 feet.” He grudgingly agreed . . . a couple weeks later I heard about how he was pulling them out of his truck and putting them up during evening program hours, laughing “they’ll never know.” He packed in such a hurry he left behind porn in his staff cabin, which we mailed him in lieu of his last check.

    On the brighter side, our graduating class at Denison U. heard from a pediatric AIDS specialist who talked about standing up for the marginalized and making a commitment to service in your work as you can, and in your personal life wherever you might. She was no master speaker, but she’d walked the walk, and that kept the graduating seniors more than listening to the talk. Dr. Ellen Chadwick of Northwestern for all you Chicago folk; she’s an alum, and now an honoris causa doctor of philosophy to boot.

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  104. nancy said on May 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Funny you should mention that, Jeff — now that he’s a target-shooter, Alan makes a point of *only* patronizing ranges that don’t use human targets. He said the vibe at the ones that do is distinctly different. Then, the other day I see a post from a FB friend who took his girlfriend to a range for a lark, and he used a target of a rampaging zombie! They have those! I had no idea!

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  105. basset said on May 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    We had planned on moving away from the river, the city made us a written offer on the house and then reneged on the whole thing. Values are coming back some, we may sell this summer but are afraid of the process.

    Actually, we’ve never sold a house before, and only owned one. We bought this one a few weeks before Basset Jr. was born, he is now 22 and a university graduate; I can retire in seven more years, we may build a garage and hang on till then, I dunno.

    Nancy, what kind of target shooting does Alan do? I have seen those zombie targets in stores… usually if I go to the range it’s just to sight in the deer rifles, though.

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  106. JWfromNJ said on May 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Brian – the grill tank always runs out at the least convienient moment. I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping at least one extra full one. It’s not hurricane season yet but soon…

    when we moved in my uncle gave me five 5-gallon gas cans, and four grill tanks. the people that were here in the 2004 storms won’t forget those days. I was checking out photo blogs on my newspaper’s site last week and seeing the people after Hurricane Frances with their homes devastated, looking so hot and tired was especially poignant KNOWING that Jeanne was only another ten days or so away and those poor souls hadn’t a clue.

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  107. Prospero said on May 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Jeff (MMO) That’s what Dickless Cheney said. Then he shot a human being in the face.

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  108. beb said on May 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Jeff @103: +1

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  109. Dexter said on May 14, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Alex’s comment made me think of the time I was at a party at my high school buddy’s parents’ home, this was two years after high school and he was a junior at Notre Dame then, and he had brought a college pal home with him for the holidays. Word came into the party that a really jumpin’ party was just a couple miles away so everybody piled into cars and headed that way. The pal of my friend jumped into my car for the short ride.
    Some of you will recall the name Joe Robbie, a lawyer who owned the Miami Dolphins for 15 years until his death. The stadium was even named for him for years, Joe Robbie Stadium.
    The kid in my car was his son, Joe Jr. I remember him , he was cultivating the typical US university student look, which was very long unkempt hair, wild mustache, torn and tattered jeans, beat work shoes. No big deal, except he was heir to a multi-million dollar fortune and I was a working class kid.

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  110. Dexter said on May 14, 2012 at 12:26 am

    At our party in Toledo Sunday we had smoked pork shoulder, pulled from the bone. It was great. My daughter’s man stayed up all night tending to it. Absolutely restaurant quality, and served on sourdough biscuit-buns with coleslaw and sides of baked beans and cornbread. We even had Famous Dave’s Devil’s Spit sauce on the side.

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