What’s playing in the East Room?

Thank Coozledad for today’s entertainment; he sent me this a while back. It’s Elvis Costello, performing at the White House two years ago:

Enjoy the delightful four and a half minutes, and you will enjoy it. It got me thinking about…well, about a lot of things. First thing: Who determines who plays at the nation’s No. 1 venue? I’m not naive enough to believe it’s entirely up to the First Family; it’s surely a combination of their preferences, the WH social secretary, and some constellation of other parties weighing in. Timing certainly plays a part, don’t you think? There’s a time when the performer who was once rebellious and not suitable for a presidential audience suddenly becomes so. There’s a time when the cellist is ready for his Lincoln Center honor. But surely the First Family has something to do with it.

So. Today, a thought experiment, and I encourage you not to yield to the easy temptation of snark. Suppose Romney wins the election. Who plays in his White House? Who will be the first performers we’ll see in the East Room with Mitt and Ann in the front row center?

I’m honestly curious. It occurs to me that, for all I know about the Romneys, I have no idea what stirs his soul, besides dressage and his church. Do Mormons have a pop-music vein worth tapping?

I ask this in part because I read this story earlier tonight, about Romney’s church activities in Massachusetts. Another few thousand words that tells you a lot but, in the end, only makes the picture murkier.

On to the bloggage:

This is, what, Jimmy Hoffa’s ninth or tenth possible final resting place? They won’t find him there, but if they do, oh how sad that would be. A driveway in Roseville? (Trust me: It ain’t much.) If he can’t be in the end zone at whatever NFL stadium he’s supposedly in, at least let him be buried under the I-696/75 interchange, which is the last place I heard (on inside information, natch).

OID: Leg on a stretcher. Fake leg. Still.

Finally, one for you Vietnam vets. The napalm girl, later. Beautiful.

Posted at 12:25 am in Current events, Popculch |

73 responses to “What’s playing in the East Room?”

  1. Dexter said on September 27, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Ut’s photo of Kim Phuc , along with Eddie Adams’ photo of police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a prisoner point blank, helped swing opinion back from supporting the war back in the USA. The first photos of monks self-immolating via gasoline and matches were the first of such photos which garnered such hard international attention.

    Kim Phuc spoke in Toledo four years ago. She was, at that time, a converted Christian, after much anguish in her life. I am sorry I cannot link this story, and I have to post it via c & p.

    Published: 11/15/2008

    Girl in famous photograph turns tragedy into blessing

    Kim Phuc, who was severely burned by napalm in June, 1972, has formed a foundation to help young war victims. She will speak tomorrow at Liberty Baptist Church in Toledo. CHARLES BENNETT / ASSOCIATED PRESSEnlarge

    Kim Phuc lived through hell. Today, she’s found heaven on Earth.

    Ms. Phuc, who will speak tomorrow morning at Liberty Baptist Church in Toledo, was 9 years old and living in Trang Bang, Vietnam, when American troops bombed her village on June 8, 1972.

    Napalm hit the pagoda where she and her family had sought refuge. The fiery attack scorched Ms. Phuc’s back and legs and burned the clothes off her body. Wracked with pain and fear, she ran naked and screaming from the scene and was photographed by Nick Ut of the Associated Press. The photograph, which won a Pulitzer Prize, quickly became an indelible reminder of the horrors of war.

    “People tell me, ‘You are living history’ because my picture is in the history books,” Ms. Phuc (pronounced “fook”) said from her home near Toronto. “Whenever people talk about the Vietnam War they remember that picture.

    “But I say the second part is I am not only living history, but I am a living miracle.”

    Mr. Ut, moved by compassion, took the girl to a South Vietnamese hospital for treatment. She then spent another 14 months recovering at Barsky Hospital, the American medical facility in Saigon.

    The burns covered 65 percent of her body and Ms. Phuc said she nearly died several times.

    But the intense physical pain was only part of the suffering.

    “I was living many years with hatred, with anger, bitterness. All the bad things that happened to me, I didn’t understand. Why me? I became another kind of victim. I grow up and I suffer with emotional pain.”

    She despised her life, she said, and wanted to die.

    “I hated my life. I hated everyone who was normal because I was not normal. And living with that is really like hell in this life. I have no hope. No dream. No nothing. And how come? Deep down in my heart, I seeking the truth. I seeking the answer all the time, ‘Why me?’•”

    The Vietnamese government forced her to speak in public about the horrors of war and her American attackers, using her for propaganda purposes, she said.

    Ms. Phuc, now 45, spoke gently and clearly in imperfect English, laughing frequently during the interview.

    When she was 19, she said, Vietnamese authorities barred her from continuing her education, so she studied on her own at a library in Saigon, 30 miles south of her village.

    She turned to her family’s Buddhism and also looked at other religions in her search for peace and understanding.

    “I believe in Buddha a long time. They borrow a little bit here, a little bit there, and everything they combine together,” Ms. Phuc said. “And I pray to too many gods – to Buddha, to Hindu, to the river, the ocean, the mountain, ancestors who are dead in the family. But no answer. I still suffering. I was still bitter, still angry, and I wanted to die.”

    Things started to change when she picked up a copy of the New Testament, written in Vietnamese, at the library.

    “Of course the more I read, the more question I have. When I got to John 14:6, and I read that Jesus say, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to heaven but by me,’ then I was really confused and wonder what was true because my religion combine everything!”

    She knew one Christian, she said, her brother-in-law’s cousin, and when he visited she asked him many questions about Jesus and Christianity. He invited her to church.

    “It took many, many months. I couldn’t change my faith because my faith was very strong, I was very devoted,” she said. “But why did Jesus say that? What was true, my religion or Jesus? Because of that curiosity, I seeking and seeking and seeking and I try. And I got it!”

    She said she became a Christian on Christmas Day, 1982.

    “That is the point, an amazing turning point in my life. I’m not talking about religion but I’m talking about relationships. I put my heart right with God. I confess my sins and he gave me faith through Jesus Christ. For me, in my heart, I felt joy.”

    Ms. Phuc said the pain from the napalm attack has never gone away.

    “It’s a fact I still endure a lot of pain. I got that really deep burn in my left side, my back, and my leg. My nerve is really damaged. It is a challenge for me. But I thank God he helped me and that is a reminder of the past. When I have any pain, I come to the Lord and pray and the more I pray, the more I have peace,” she said.

    The emotional and spiritual healing has made all the difference, she said.

    “I know that when I die any time, heaven is my home. And I feel so safe. When I found the answers, there is a heaven on Earth for me.”

    Ms. Phuc defected to Canada in 1986 with her future husband, Bui Huy Toan. They were married in 1992 and have two children, Thomas, 14, and Stephen, 11. Ms. Phuc, who attends a Baptist church, said her parents live nearby and that all her family is Christian.

    She keeps in touch with Mr. Ut, the photographer, talking to him every week in Los Angeles, where he still works for the Associated Press, Ms. Phuc said. “I call him Uncle Ut.”

    In 1997, she founded the Kim Phuc Foundation to help child victims of war around the globe.”

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  2. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 3:54 am

    The Elvis Costello clip is from a concert at the White House honoring Paul McCartney when he was given the Gershwin Award for Popular Song. The whole concert is online at the PBS web site. It’s a great concert. Lots of wonderful music and a great, happy feeling in the house. Also at the PBS site are some outtakes, an interview w/ McCartney, and related things.

    I don’t think many people realize how much the Obamas have done to celebrate American music and make some great examples available to everyone. They’ve had several concerts organized by genre (e,g., blues, folk, jazz, musical theatre, country) and, with each one, they’ve held master classes for local students and made the concerts available on public television. You can look for these using “in performance at the white house” as a search string.

    Will have to give some thought to the question of a Romney administration concert, but it seems likely they’ve thought about it at least a bit. A few weeks ago, I read an article in which Mitt said that he appreciated what the Obamas had done to bring music to the WH and to share those concerts w/ the public.

    I’ve wondered whether the Romneys would serve wine at state dinners. The Bushes did, though GWB did not indulge. But his concerns were medical, not moral. It would seem odd to object to alcohol on moral grounds, but then serve it to others. On the other hand, what a drag to be invited to a lovely formal occasion and not be served wine with the meal.

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  3. Deborah said on September 27, 2012 at 4:47 am

    When I read your comment Jolene I realized it’s another example of a really wonderful thing the Obama’s have done that I never heard of and as you say many people don’t know about. Why is that? It seems the press and thus the public are all wrapped up in the trauma and drama of the tea party instead of wonderful things like those concerts.

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  4. alex said on September 27, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I can see wishy-washy Romney knuckling under to the base and inviting the Nuge and Hank Williams. If he has any musical tastes of his own, we’ll probably never know.

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  5. ROGirl said on September 27, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Would the Osmonds be on the bill with those guys?

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  6. basset said on September 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Kenny Rogers and Lee Greenwood. In acid-washed denim.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 27, 2012 at 8:19 am

    David Archuleta, and these folks.

    Thank you, Dexter. Sad and humbling. I’m not thinking she’s really doing justice to Buddhism in general, but if the folk traditions of her childhood Buddhist faith left her that muddled and unsustained, then it’s a lovely thing that she found a confident place to stand. I just dislike seeing folks, whatever their personal story, build up their chosen faith by slamming the one they left. It’s what you affirm, not what you reject. But her story is truly inspirational.

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  8. beb said on September 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Nancy, I would guess that Witt does not care a fig about dressage. That’s Ann’s hobby, and from other comments he’s made I get the impression that he doesn’t think that much of his wife. she’s “the wife” as if that was the sum-total of her involvement in his life.

    As for the kind of music he would bring to the White House I suspect it would be people like Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra – you know, dead, white guys. I can’t see Romney rocking with the Nuge or Hank Williams, Junior or that ilk. I can’t see him rocking at all.

    Oddly, I feel sad that Kim Phuc was unable to find happiness in Buddhism, a religion dedicated to finding harmony with the world.

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  9. brian stouder said on September 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

    re Mitt: no idea.

    As fate would have it, a friend forwarded this Mitt-link (from April!) this morning, and my question is, how did we miss this?


    It’s about quantum-Mitt, and the essential randomness in his core

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  10. Suzanne said on September 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Obviously the Osmonds would be hanging out at the WH. But maybe not Marie. She’s kind of the rogue Osmond.

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  11. Jim Sweeney said on September 27, 2012 at 8:50 am

    It would be some country band that Mitt will not even like, but that his handlers would have assured him sent the right message to his followers. In his heart of hearts, Mitt is a GWAR guy.

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  12. Dorothy said on September 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I see Kenny Gee written all over Romney’s face.

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  13. Dorothy said on September 27, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Oops – forgot that editing is currently unavailable. I am pretty sure I have seen each television special that was about music in the Obama White House. They’re not usually repeated so I try to make sure I keep a sharp eye out on our PBS station for them.

    For the record, Kenny Gee’s music makes me gag. That’s why I think Romney is probably a fan. I’m a David Sanborn kinda gal.

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  14. del said on September 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

    It’s obvious, isn’t it? The Romneys would host these folks:



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  15. del said on September 27, 2012 at 9:22 am

    The Killers’ videos above are very well done, but I may prefer these Casablanca mashups:



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  16. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Mitt has a playlist on Spotify that provides a few clues. Also, by googling “mitt romney music”, I found that he likes Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys. I think beb is on to something w/ his mention of Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra. James Fallows has a comment re this in a comment written after Williams’s death yesterday.

    But I think you are wrong re how Mitt feels about Ann, beb. I think he has been in love with her forever. Some time back, I read an article about how the one exception to his legendary cheapskateness was anything that concerned Ann–anything that would please her. I was touched by how he spoke about her in a recent interview, saying, simply, that his first impulse about how to spend time was always to be with Ann–that, if there was open time in the schedule, his first thought was to spend the time doing something with her.

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  17. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Whoops! First paragraph above should not say “a comment in a comment.”

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  18. brian stouder said on September 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I’m with Jolene regarding Mitt & Ann.

    She’s the best of him, and indeed, she looks like the one true thing about him – and he has the brains to know that much, whatever else he jitter-bugs away from, or towards

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  19. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I think Mitt’s big problem is that he has been pushed into being something that he is not. He is not, in fact, a severe conservative. He’s a moderate, technocratic problem-solver, and if he hadn’t hung the Tea Party around his neck as a way of surviving primary elections in which the voters were screaming for Obama’s blood, we might be having rational discussions (OK, sort of rational) about how to address the linked issues of debt and investment for the future.

    He was really impressive in talking about education at NBC’s Education Nation summit this past week. You might not agree w/ him on every point, but he had clearly taken education seriously during his time as governor. I admire him for trying to tackle head on the problem of how to help kids who don’t have very competent parents.

    He is also, of course, shallow when it comes to understanding the reality of other people’s lives (cf., the 47%), but his worst failure has been to be ambitious about becoming president w/o any clear idea about why he wants to do it. It’s left him vulnerable to the worst impulses of a party at war with itself and with the 21st century.

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  20. del said on September 27, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Mitt Romney’s Spotify list confirms that The Killers are a favorite, they’re one of two bands that appear twice on it.

    As for Andy Williams, two nights ago, out of the blue and for some unknown reason I started thinking about Andy Williams, Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich. As I sat at my computer I stumbled upon the Rolling Stones song “Claudine,” a song about Longet described as so pitiless that it remained under wraps for decades. I was struck by the fact that Williams stood by his ex and went to court with her every day after she was charged with Sabich’s homicide. People said Williams was the same guy offstage as on it, calm, mellow. I watched clips from his Christmas Specials and it put me in a mood…there was something peaceful about that time when our families all gathered around TVs to watch such fare, even as real life swirled and raged around us, especially for Williams. I wondered how his kids with Longet were doing now. And then I woke up to the news that he had died. Strange.

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  21. Maggie Jochild said on September 27, 2012 at 10:38 am

    That clip brought tears to my eyes. I remember when that album came out, and all of us gathering in the bedroom of the one girl in town who’d gotten her hands on it first. Every new Beatles album brought our worlds to a halt, as we clustered to listen over and over, trying to understand meaning on meaning. And that piccolo bugle player — ne brought the sound forward. Music kept cracking open the world, those years.

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  22. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Fareed Zakaria agrees with me.

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  23. Minnie said on September 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Amen, Maggie. Music still does it for me.

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  24. Sue said on September 27, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I believe it was Jackie Kennedy who really started the ball rolling re White House concerts as a cultural reflection of the inhabitants. Since her interests were more international that was what was highlighted. I think the Obamas probably have final say and continue the tradition their way.
    I always admired how Jackie expertly navigated her way through her WH years in terms of establishing her own presence. She could have been easily mocked for her high-end tastes and instead, using her art history background she took what was there and turned the White House into a living museum, finding or replacing period pieces and tunneling in the basement for china from old administrations and working around politicians to get funding. She’s always been given credit for what she did but it is usually in a ‘such a nice thing the little lady did in her spare time’ kind of way. She was a force and the historic preservation job she did changed the way the White House is cared for and thought of. She also made a point of purchasing American before it was an issue, looking around the country for glassware makers, for instance. The Romneys could learn a thing or two from Jackie if they want to change perceptions.

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  25. coozledad said on September 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

    They’re just fucking with us now, right?

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  26. brian stouder said on September 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Jolene – excellent FZ piece. It reads like a post-mortem piece, even despite that Mitt’s campaign insists they’re ‘not dead yet’ (sort of like that “None shall pass!” knight on Monty Python, who loses both legs and both arms and still insists that “I’ve had worse!”)

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  27. coozledad said on September 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Doktor Zoom, from the Wonkette comment thread:
    “Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for an evening. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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  28. del said on September 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I agree with you Jolene on your take on Romney. He’s not an arch conservative. He’s probably a decent, albeit ambitious guy. To me though there’s something understanable about politicians’ kids aspiring to political success. (In the FWIW category I worked at a Detroit law firm with his brother G. Scott, and had an office right next to his when I was a summer intern — no question he’s an affable guy.)

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  29. MichaelG said on September 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Things are really picking up in Sacramento. Two days ago Comcast announced they were going to close a call center here laying off 300 people. Today Campbell’s Soup announced the closure of a soup plant which will put another 700 people on the street.

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  30. del said on September 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Or Cooze, as Peter Gabriel sang in the encore of his concert last night, “You can put out a candle, but you can’t put out a fire… Oh Biko! Biko! Bikooooh! Biko!”

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  31. Sue said on September 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Re the comments here about Romney’s ‘real’ personality:
    I understand what you’re all saying, he’s probably a nice guy, a moderate less than a tea partier etc.
    But the guys been running for president for a hundred years. He made the 47% comment way back last spring, but he made that bizarre airplane window comment LAST WEEK. Yes, somewhere in there might be a potentially excellent president, but all observable evidence indicates otherwise. Shouldn’t we be looking at a very polished candidate by now who reads situations well enough not to step in it twice weekly?
    He had to get past the Tea Party to get to this point, but anything going on now he’s doing to himself. I think this is the real Romney and he is not up to the job. I was wondering this morning what the race would be like if Ann Coulter had gotten her wish. As obnoxious as Chris Christie is, the race would have been much different right now if he were in.

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  32. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I suppose if some anti-napalm activist tried to show the Kim Phuc photo to a GOPer-run House committee, they’d have her picked up by the Capital Police for child pornography, as the horse’s asses did to Maria Gunnoe over the naked little girl in the bathtub full of orange water polluted by Massey Energy’s mining operations. Anybody be surprised.

    I really got to like Detroit 187, so I’m hoping these folks make a go of this show:


    If Mittens claims he likes the Beach Boys, he’s talking about dickhead Mike Love, not Brian Wilson, and Kokomo, not Surf’s Up:


    With real musicians and no Mike Love. I always figured Brian put the Frere Jaques part in because of the descant in Paperback Rider.

    A brilliant tribute version by Jeff Beck:


    I read something yesterday that said Andy Williams and Claudine Longet were good friends with Bobby and Ethel Kennedy and were actually at the Ambassador Hotel when RFK was murdered.

    I want to know if Mitt met his wife by dressing up like a cop and pulling her over. No statute of limitations on kidnapping.

    del, can’t agree about the “decent guy” part. A decent guy doesn’t let himself be bound into someone else’s shape because of lust for power. Jesus wouldn’t bow when the devil offered Him dominion over all He could see. That story is a fine metaphor for RMoney’s etch-a-sketch behavior in his lusting after the power of the presidency. And his wife may not be as much of an asshole, but she’s at least his equal in sneering disdain for the commonfolk losers.

    Brandon Flowers, the Killers’ lead singer, is a Mormon. It may be one of the enjoinments LDS elders accept in the tabernacle with the “I will cut my own throat before I reveal this” gesture that at least two Killers songs be on you iPod.

    Comcast isn’t closing a call center in Sacto, they are moving it to New Delhi to provide crappy jobs for Indian kids with impenetrable accents. Surprising they don’t wait to see if they can qualify for the RMoney outsourcing corporate tax break.

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  33. LAMary said on September 27, 2012 at 11:41 am

    When Paul Ryan talked about IPods in his convention speech, he mentioned Mitt’s being elevator music and his being AC/DC and Led Zep. Never mind that both those bands are made up of guys Mitt’s age.
    I suspect Mitt likes Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep and the Chicken Dance. Also I’ve Been to Paradise But I’ve Never Been to Me. That might not be the acutal name of that song but you know the crap tune I’m talking about.

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  34. Deborah said on September 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    It seems to me that Romney’s performance gets worse and worse as his campaign comes to an end. I wonder if he’s just exhausted? While the Obama campaign is really stepping it up as they come in for a landing. Romney is in his mid-sixties and Obama is in his early 50s.

    I had a bone density test this morning, I’m trying to get all of my medical stuff done while I’m still getting healthcare on my current plan. I was surprised that I’ve already lost 1/2″ in height since I last had this test in 2007. Getting old is fun isn’t it?

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  35. MarkH said on September 27, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Further to Prospero’s last post, it turns out Mike Love really is an asshole after all.


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  36. alex said on September 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Extreme Combover: Hoosier Edition.

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  37. LAMary said on September 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    My friend Bill was a roadie for the Beach Boys for a couple of years in the seventies. He confirms. Mike Love is an asshole.

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  38. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Mark H: The question is, how stupid would somone have to be to buy a ticket to the fake Beach Boys fronted by the odious egotistical prick, Mike Love?

    I’ve seen the band twice, once on Boston Common, and once in the Field House at Princeton, just after Surf’s Up was released. Mike love acted like an attention-seeking terrible two toddler both times, and nearly ruined the first of those shows for everybody. The show at Princeton was so sublime, not even Mike Love’s assholish mugging could mess it up.

    I’d love to hear what Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Angus and Malcolm would have to say about Ayn Ryan. Ryan’s apparently not even cool enough to realize that Neal Pert has written Randian lyrics for Rush songs for years. Or is he trying to keep the Atlas Shrugged idolatry on the downlow, now that he finally gets the atheist part. What a dumbass. And how did he think Rage members were going to react when the machine they rage against said they are one of his favorite bands. Maybe when he got his body mass index lower than could be found at the Olympics, his fathead brain bore the brunt of the lipid loss. That might explain a supposedly intellectual adult not understanding John Galt’s 60 pp. anti-God rant

    And how would this go over with the fundagelical base?


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  39. Scout said on September 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I wanted to give some props to Jeff @ 7 for saying, “It’s what you affirm, not what you reject. ” That is something I struggle with all the time, although more with politics than faith.

    I picture Mitt’s music speed to be along the order of Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond. Not horrible but not especially cool either.

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  40. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Mourdock looks like the chicken lady character from Kids in the Hall at Alex’s link. But it looks more like a cheapo rug than a crummy combover. Actually, he reminds me of a psychiatrist that was a friend of my mom and dad when I was a kid. He was part of a generation of shrinks that believed ECT was torture, not treatment, but his boss still held on to the old barbaric practice. Dr Angier called the old guy Ol’ Buzz’em and Fuzz’em. Mourdock in that photo looks thoroughly buzzed and fuzzed.

    Bet Paul Ryan is a Humble Pie fan too, and had no idea this was about illicit substances and debauchery, either:


    Anybody that ever heard the Hot August Night album by Neil Diamond wouldn’t think he reides on the same planet with Barry “I Write the Songs, and nobody ever helped, not even Bette Midler” Mandy-low.

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  41. Scout said on September 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I knew I’d get crap for Neil Diamond! Said it anyway.

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  42. mlberry said on September 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Even the worst Mitt Romney quotes are made better when they’re paired with photos of Lucille Bluth from “Arrested Development”:


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  43. Deborah said on September 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Neil Diamond performed on The Last Waltz so he can’t be that uncool, can he? I like Neil Diamond, always have. That probably makes me a nerd but I don’t care. Barry Manilow not at all.

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  44. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    How does Blunt spend a month trying to get Akin to quit and then endorse the asshole?

    Slam dunk facial raining down on RomRy stupidity concerning Obama administration foreign policy. Those two don’t make the JV on this subject, ignorance abounds.

    Scout, all I meant was that it was unfair to put the guy that wrote Brother Love in the same sentence as Mandy’s author.

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  45. Dexter said on September 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm


    I miss Joey Ramone (d. 2001) but here’s some newly released material, which, of course, is great, and a catchy tune as well, no denyin’.

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  46. Dorothy said on September 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I’m with Deborah @ 43. Neil is cool – Barry is not. Long live Crunchy Granola Suite!

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  47. Dexter said on September 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm


    Thanks nance for calling attention to the moron GPS devotee who almost destroyed the Spencerville Covered Bridge with his big rig. This dumbassfirstclass is really getting blistered in the media comments from everywhere.

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  48. del said on September 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    A kid who claims to have defected from Obama to Romney pranks Fox News:


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  49. Catherine said on September 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Sorry to throw this into the middle of the nice music chat and inspiring photo of the napalm victim with her baby. It looks like Boy Scouts of America is the next Penn State/Sandusky: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-boy-scouts-files-20120916,0,6937684.story
    Jason Felch of the LA Times has been doing a series on the BSA “perversion files,” and all I can say is, wow… don’t read this while you’re eating lunch.

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  50. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Dexter, I went to Amazon to buy that Joey Ramone album, and found there is also a new John Lydon/PiL album, which, of course, I had to buy too. I’ve turned into the compulsive internet shoppers I used to find amusing. I also got what appear to be som high quality Japanese coping saws because I have to help my brother put in some new laminate flooring. He wants a floating system with soundproofing, so we’ll end up replacing the trim.

    Catherine, I was in BSA for a few years and never came across anything untoward. On the other hand, one of my brothers and I went to a Babdiss day camp in Memphis when I was about nine and there was a lot of creepy shit, like counselors showing us porn, that went on. Gotta love those youth outreach pastors. You can sue the American version of the Catholic Church and close down some parishes to pay your damages, or you culd sue the Babdiss and mine some truly deep pockets.

    My favorite song by Neil Diamond, and his best, in my opinion, and a funny bit with Johnny Cash:


    He has turned out some awful schlock, like I Am I Said and You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, but Cracklin’ Rosie, Solitary Man, that’s pure genius.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Jolene at #19 about nails it for this moderate Republican. As for the so-called “files” from the BSA, this is a story in search of a hook for almost thirty years. There’s no disputing that before background checks, reference checks, and two-deep leadership mandates, i.e. 1981, Scouting was struggling to figure out what to do with known, uncharged, unconvicted child molesters who moved from state-to-state. I’ve got my own stories, all of them about how horrible the problem is in a person who has this dissociative disorder, but the reason the files exist is BECAUSE Scouting was trying to deal with the problem, not cover it up. How do you keep these unfortunate damaged souls and pathological predators out when no one back then would press charges or see a trial through? The “black flag files” as they were and are known to leadership above the unit level is a way to cope. Even now, criminal background checks? Jerry Sandusky would have sailed through that standard until literally a few months ago.

    But the “news story” that isn’t is a person who keeps trying to force Scouting to open up those files, as if they were police reports, which they are not. And then they get spun as some evil conspiracy, which it isn’t. I’ve seen more than a few of them, and they’re the chicken tracks of piles of volunteer leaders sharing, in confidence, their concerns or second-hand reports of what happened as they’ve heard. Since mandatory reporting has become law, that’s been the Scouting standard, but I see no earthly benefit other than to litigation for saying a private organization should have to open up personal info to anyone who asks.

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    • nancy said on September 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      I once knew an editor who said we would get personnel files of the Catholic church through a FOIA request. I gaped in astonishment, and I think this person thought I was showing mad respect for their balls. Um, no.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Make sure if you read the story to read the link: http://documents.latimes.com/boy-scouts-youth-protection-timeline/

    I’d forgotten the phrase “Ineligible Volunteer File” or IV files, because everyone calls them the “red flag” and “black flag” files. And we had them, and used them, because in the 70’s and 80’s you were utterly and entirely on your own dealing with this issue. And again I say, since this is getting spun as some creepy practice: you can’t trust “official” background checks and so-called “fingerprinting,” because that only gets you *convictions*. It doesn’t get you charges unless you know the jurisdiction to check and the correct name and year; it doesn’t get you charges filed and dropped; it doesn’t get you charges that lead to an acquittal when all concerned know the guilty party is guilty, but the legal standard was not met. And you don’t get the guys who are moving from state to state, never quite getting to official notice, but who quickly make everyone aware there’s an issue.

    I fired four staffers over five years for non-compliance with staff-camper contact guidelines. I learned ten years later it should have been five. No matter how I reconsider the situation, I don’t see how I could have known or suspected, but I know that happened on my watch. And I’m quite certain that the situation alluded to in the story re: Michigan 1982 was my predecessor, whose behavior was widely suspected, and no one could confirm. In retrospect, my most unnerving remembrance is that the man who was the fifth I should have fired? Often spoke of that other fellow (81-82), that he knew something was wrong with him, and if he’d been in charge, he would have fired him earlier. What do I make of that?

    Regrets, I have a few.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 27, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Sorry to clog this thread. One more observation: in two of the four cases where I had to actively terminate camp staffers, I was fought vigorously by fellow staff, council office execs, and friends back home who would call and have me summoned to the one camp phone (ah, recall those days?). And it was always “did you see? how do you know? why would you suspect this fine person of this awful behavior? is that violation really a fireable offense?” And so on. I knew I had to have my ducks truly linear, and that no one would support me.

    The last one got me a tirade from the so-called camp director (resident in camp only a couple days a week), the council exec, and the council exec from his home council — this fellow was supposedly heading for seminary, and each said to me “Jeff, aren’t you going to seminary soon? Can you imagine what this will do to his future, based on such flimsy . . .” They were angry, at me, period. For the first two, it was a simple matter of “fine, I can be packed and on the road by dinner” but that’s the only way I made it stick.

    October, after the summer, and I went back up to camp from Purdue for a weekend event. The camp director came over and asked to speak to me privately. He apologized, and told me his friend, the neighboring council exec, had called him the week before in tears. The guy I fired went to his church camp, got a job for the rest of the summer, and . . . yep, you know what happened. Multiple kids, witnesses, litigation was piling up, families in chaos; and he wanted the fellow who’d fired him to know “I was wrong. I should have listened.”

    The satisfaction of that moment was extremely limited. And it infuriates me that I still have to explain, carefully, to mature, educated adults “if you have an adult who makes contact with youth that they’ve initiated, after the summer, and continue after the child’s parent asks them to stop, you don’t stop to ask questions, you put a ban on that person from counseling at your church camp. If you have an adult who goes into children’s living quarters after being told not to, for a reason that is not-emergency in nature, and is argumentative about why they should be able to do that for whatever reason, you send them home. NOW. And block them in the future.”

    I still lose these arguments. All I can do is then tell people not to send kids to those camps, same as if they had a sucking uncovered drain in the bottom of the deep end of their pool. Or broken glass all over the trails. Or ptomaine and salmonella in the dining hall. “But they care so much about the kids!” Yeah. I hate that this has almost become a warning sign for me.

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  54. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Last note: among a number of other inaccuracies in the stories LA Times has done, they say in a couple of them I see that BSA began to require Youth Protection Training “last year.” It was mandatory from 1982 forward to take YPT to become a registered adult leader (I’ve been one of the council level trainers since then); last year, it was (wisely) changed to make it only good for three years, and renewal was mandatory to continue your registration. It’s largely on-line now, and I don’t do the in person, in your face version except for all Day Camp and summer camp and high adventure adult leaders, who have to have it to even get their name on the roster for the event. If you want to see it and/or take it, go to myscouting.org and create an account (you don’t have to be a registered Scouter to do that, or pay anything; I tell church groups to use it all the time, and our council professionals say that’s just fine with them), then take the YPT, which can take you as little as 30 minutes to complete, and judge for yourself.

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  55. Charlotte said on September 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I’ve been spitting mad for the past couple of days about the local Catholic priest, who has decided to run a 40 day protest at our local women’s health clinic (yes, they do abortions). Really?! A Catholic priest, who apparently is also the vocations director for the diocese is out there casting stones? Come back when you’ve cleaned up your own house. There are a number of reasons I left the Church I loved, but the main one is that I cannot take the sacrament from the hands of a priesthood who has always, always shown itself to be more concerned with blaming the victims and covering up abuse than it has with cleaning out its own ranks. But why bother with that when you can make a bunch of signs and go out on main street calling women sluts, whores and baby killers? So much easier ….
    My only consolation is that the charitable fund that covers women who can’t afford services has a “pledge a picketer” feature. So I’ve pledged extra for the priest.

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  56. Mark said on September 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Jeff (tmmo)your unfortunate story indicates the opposite of an organization which tried in good faith to police itself. Here you were, trying to keep predators away from kids, and everyone else in the organization was fighting you.

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  57. Bitter Scribe said on September 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    JTMMO, thanks for sharing your experiences. That puts the Scouts in a somewhat better light, although I’ll always be angry at them for banning gays as though that had anything to do with anything.

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  58. brian stouder said on September 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Jeff – enlightening, as always.

    There’s a scene in one of the Wambaugh (possibly mis-spelled) movies – maybe New Centurions? – wherein William Holden (or George C Scott?) is the grizzled older cop, and he’s off duty at a dinner party, and some dang college-boy gets in his grill about bein’ a pig and all; and Holden (or Scott, but I think Holden) keeps an even strain, and tells the guy something like: there are things that need to be dealt with/faced/done. Your momma ain’t gonna do them for you, and your daddy ain’t gonna do them for you, and still – they need to be done…and that’s where the cops come in.

    The mix of a certain sort of fatalism, with an undaunted preparedness to do the job that needs done, every time – is what you’re reminding me of. None of the stuff you’ve described could have been easy to deal with, or routine, or clear-cut; and you could have averted your eyes or rationalized or just dithered (I’m a big ditherer). And yet, you saw the caution flag pop up and you acted – come what may.

    My hope is that, if I’m confronted with anything of the sort, that I can act as effectively (come what may) as you have, Jeff; and further, that maybe all of us will take an ‘increased devotion’ to doing the right thing, when inconvenient circumstances present themselves

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  59. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Malcolm Gladwell has a short article in a recent New Yorker about how pedophiles select and groom their victims that also captures the shock and denial of community members and colleagues that Jeff encountered. Seems like, by now, people would have gotten past the idea that a child molester is going to be recognizable–say, with fangs or horns that would reveal their predilections.

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  60. beb said on September 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Jeff, I, too, appreciate your discussion of problems of keeping molesters out of youth activities.

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  61. brian stouder said on September 27, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    and by the way, Fort Wayne still has a slow-motion, high-profile reputation-crash unfolding, with our local all-conquering high school football coach (now fired) being (overly slowly?) investigated by the Allen County sherriff’s office.

    Yesterday they executed a search warrant on the guy’s home…funny that 10 days or so had elapsed since the guy was fired and the police were called.

    If he couldn’t burn anything incriminating in that amount of time, then he’s either the owner of a mountain of bad stuff that he couldn’t dispose of, or else he’s really stupid, or else he really sort of wanted to be caught…whatever the case may be, the police carted several bags of…something…out of his home, yesterday.

    We shall see….

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  62. David C. said on September 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    With so much evidence computer based, people just delete it and thing it’s gone. As I understand, unless they scrub the hard drive, it can still be there. I suspect this has been extremely helpful in catching perps – pedophile or otherwise. So even a week out, would be something to trace.

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  63. Deborah said on September 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Many years ago when I was a kid, my dad was a church trustee for awhile. For some reason it was his responsibility to interview and hire a bus driver for the school. He hired a guy who seemed perfectly qualified and everyone loved him. You know where this is going, the bus driver turned out to be a pedophile who always dropped off a particular little girl last. She eventually told her parents and the shit hit the fan. The family miraculously did not hold the church or my father liable. The guy got arrested but my father never mentioned what became of him. My dad felt horrible that he was responsible but I never knew about it until years after it happened, I was married with my own kid before my father told the story.

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  64. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Child molesters at kids camps? Heaven forfend. As Willie Sutton said, famously, when he was asked why he robbed banks, “Cause that’s where the money is.” When I was in HS my mom took a school nurse job at Birmingham Country Day. (Yeah, where Jalen Rose and Robin Williams and two of my brothers went.) But Chief of Peds at Metropolitan Hospital at 13th and Tuxedo didn’t pay all that well, so she took a second job on the night shift at a nursing home full of rich discarded Bloomfield Hills nouveau riche grand dame types. At first she stuck with it despite the soul-sucking nature of her surroundings because these old ladies enjoyed her company even when the kids never visited and the staff abused them. Gradually, the extent of abuse of the residents weighed her down. I can remember hearing my dad talking to her about it. He told her the most difficult thing for health care facilites was to weed out sadists before they could get hired. Being my mom, she raised holy hell with the board of directors, most of whom had relatives in perpetual care, buncha Cranbrook types, and that is not an opinion, I know first-hand what I’m talking about in this case, and of course, was forced to resign.


    But the “news story” that isn’t is a person who keeps trying to force Scouting to open up those files, as if they were police reports, which they are not. And then they get spun as some evil conspiracy, which it isn’t. I’ve seen more than a few of them, and they’re the chicken tracks of piles of volunteer leaders sharing, in confidence, their concerns or second-hand reports of what happened as they’ve heard.

    That’s how people are sentenced to live as cockroaches after show trials in a Franz Kafka novel. The neighbors thought there was something odd. This is all reminding me of the Brit cops’ witchhunt against Pete Townshend, who was exonerated in the end. But Brit cops don’t need evidence.

    I have never made an excuse for Catholic clerics guilty of abuse. I do believe it’s institutional in organized religion and the fact that the original focus was on Catholic priests came from an ancient prejudice in the USA and also from a blooming cottage industry in recovered memory, which, pardon me, sounds like DPRK style brainwashing for profit. Those same pastoral youth outreach pastors at Baptist camp that tried to interest nine-year-old me and my little brother in porn photos, also told my brother and me and the rest of the campers that my parents and the priests at St. Louis Church had stocks of armaments in basements beneath the church and were awaiting orders form Rome to overthrow the US government. Chris and I mocked that shit but sure as hell looked at the Big Boobs and Wide Open Beavers (0). We were both smart enough to tell our parents, who were somewhat slow to believe us. They knew we preferred being left to our own devices with the chemistry set to make explosives and damage we could do to each other in our back yard. Because of that experience, I’m willing to believe that many accusations against Catholic clergy were manufactured. Many have been proven to have been.

    The case of Cardinal Berardin of Chicago is perhaps instructive. The Cardinal of the Chicago Archdiocese is a powerful political figure, and this was an easy, and totally fallacious way to get at him. Eventually the accuser broke down and told a shrink he was talked into the accusation.

    About eight years ago, I opened the door to Beaufort Co. Sheriff’s Deppity dawgs that claimed someone with white hair (mine’s still blonde) had made suspicious contact with some very young Hispanic sisters near our condo . Oh, and riding a bike. Half an hour earlier. We’re on the second floor. The cops made me stand out on the balcony in front of a rapidly fomenting mob that looked like the villagers after Frankenstein and his Creation. For all y’all know, I could be a sexual predator, and my roomie S. didn’t help things by abusing the cops and insisting we had been in bed all day. I’d been out on a ride to the grocery to get beer and stuff for a UGA game that afternoon. I don’t frighten easily in the face of authority, but being accused of something so horrendous with an angry mob a staircase away scared the fuck out of me. Weeks and several more cop visits later, it became apparent from the investigation that somebody wanted access to our condo. All I’m saying is that this is the absolutely easiest accusation to make and the most damaging without any subsequent proof. My immediate neighbors backed me up and the story the little girls had been instructed in fell apart, as to what I was wearing, what my bike looked like and every other detail. At the time that happened, my daughter had just gotten out of HS. My first and urgent thought was that she never hear about this bulllshit. The extent of my interest in little girls is about like this:


    And I really doubt Ray has any more nefarious intentions than I do. But I’ll tell you. Once these blithe accusations are made, they can’t easily be taken back. Cardinal Bernardin died bereft despite a life of service and good works, even after the manufactured charges against him were reneged upon. And I’ll make fun of Magic U-trou all I want. Aside from Muslims, religious bigotry in the USA is reserved for Catholics, you know, the demonic sect from which all the Protestant sects sprung. What sort of time warp does that require? Being the victim of a fabricate accusation gives one an entirely other angle on this shit.

    Deborah, with all due respect and apologies, if it had involved the Catholic Church, it would have turned into a gigantic stew of recovered memory and accused coverups. America dislikes Catholics at such a subatomic level, nobody ever tried t find out who was responsible for the murders of Jack and Bobby. If I say it was the Sons of Dan preserving the White Horse Prophecy, I’d be hooted down. It reminds me of a joke I was told by my childhood friend, the eminent guitarist Pete Hennes, about the old war ace recounting his exploits. Fokkers to the right of me Messerschmitts to the left of me, I shot them down. But what about the Messerschmidts says the sweet young thing. Yah, but them Fokkers was Messerschmidts.

    Anybody that doubts that recovered memory was a cottage web industry ought to take a look on google. But, you know America has alwys treated Catholics as untrustworthy. Fundagelical preachers backing GOPer moron pols have gotten away with calling the Catholic Church a cult. You fracking morons, how are Catholics a cult when we beat you here by several hundred years? I mean, I suppose that is not noticably stupid for people that think Jesus saddled up dinos.

    And about the idea of what we affirm rather than what we deny, I say I affirm, if this is somehow a Christian nation, “Whatever you do to the least of my children. Christian or not, you’d have to agree Jesus was kinda right about that. What I want to know is why every scumbag paul ryan shithead not struck down by lightning for declaring that the poor capitalism demands as its lubricant is som sort of loser?

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  65. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Seriously, anti-Catholicism is the last refuge of dogass bigotry.

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  66. Jolene said on September 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    In addition to what sort of music the Romneys would have in the East Room and whether they’d serve wine at state dinners, some people have started to speculate about where they’d go to church.

    Apparently, Mormons are expected to attend whatever church is nearest their home. For the Romneys, this would mean a diverse, urban congregation made up heavily of Democrats. Still, the current congregants say, they’d be very welcome!

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  67. Prospero said on September 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Isn’t pulling this sort of shit kinda like Tamany Hall?


    Preventing legitimate voters from voting is how Teabangers or Gangbaggers or Rove GOPers do business.

    I’d like to hear something from either of the Marks about this indefensible shit. Danny, you can give it a very lame try.

    Do any of you guys think fucking wit anybody’s right to vote is legal, sensible? So much for your principles, but you didn’t have any in the first place.

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  68. Minnie said on September 27, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    The late Levon Helm wrote that Neil Diamond was in “The Last Waltz” because Robbie Robertson was producing a record for him. Levon also noted that Neil was mighty nervous.

    Boy Scout leaders aren’t necessarily trustworthy. When I was a high school freshman my boyfriend’s BSA leader proposed to shoot photographs of us, um, you know….

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  69. Minnie said on September 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Maybe he was Babdiss.

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  70. MarkH said on September 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    ALL Boy Scout leaders, Minnie? Every last one of them?? By that reckoning neither is anyone else on earth. I suggest re-reading Jeff’s earlier posts.

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  71. Minnie said on September 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    MarkH, I did not say ALL Boy Scout leaders. My father was one, and I assure you he was trustworthy.

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  72. Minnie said on September 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Full disclosure, he was a Babdiss, too, though not one of Prospero’s pervert persuasion.

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