American what the-?

On the film “American Sniper,” I have no opinion. Had no opinion. Tell me lefty film buffs found it offensive, and I yawn. Tell me Michael Moore said snipers are cowardly sneaks, and I guffaw. Tell me it’s a crappy movie, and I shrug. Tell me it’s a great one, and ditto.

By which I mean, every piece of creative work isn’t for every single person. If liberals get movies that flatter their biases, why shouldn’t conservatives? So Clint Eastwood votes Republican; who cares? Judge his movies on their own merits. And since I really had no interest in seeing the Chris Kyle story dramatized on the big screen, I stayed away, content to savor Bradley Cooper’s Texas accent via the trailer and commercials. I read a few reviews about it. I know the outline of the story, and I figured I’d catch it when it came around on cable. Which it has.

The other day I surfed past “American Sniper” in progress on one of the premium channels and was caught up in the climactic scene, a firefight where Kyle takes a minute to pull out his sat phone under heavy fire and call his wife to tell her he’s ready to come home. Figured there were but 20 minutes or so left, and decided to watch. It unfolded pretty predictably: Chris the civilian is on edge, Chris needs some time to adjust. Chris attacks a family dog roughhousing with his children. Chris sits in a bar. And then, whaddaya know, here comes Chris walking into his kitchen with a revolver in his hand, through the living room where the kids are playing and into the kitchen. Jeez, is he going to shoot his wife? I don’t remember reading about this part. He points it at her and she doesn’t scream. In fact, she smiles. “Drop them drawers,” he says.

It’s a playful love scene! She throws up her hands, and they banter as he spins her around the kitchen, the gun still in one hand. I’m practically gasping at this example of responsible gun ownership in action. What are the pro-gun people always telling us? Relax, we have training. We secure our weapons. They are never anywhere a child could get to them. And so on. Apparently, having a weapon pulled is enough of a thing in the Kyle romantic-move catalog that the Missus doesn’t even blink. I was reminded of Janice Soprano confiding to Carmela that she isn’t worried about her fiancé, Richie Aprile, having a side piece because she’s the only one who would let him hold a gun to her head during sex. Carmela gasps, Janice shrugs and says, “Usually he takes the clip out.”

I went a-Googling to see if anyone else noticed this scene. Gail Collins did, bless her heart:

This is, by virtually any standard, insane behavior. Mike Huckabee, a big “American Sniper” fan, recently published a book called “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” which is so wildly opposed to any weapon regulation that Huckabee opens his chapter on modern education by complaining that public schools are anti-gun. Yet he also presents a list of universally accepted gun safety rules, many of which boil down to don’t point it at anybody as a joke.

…“American Sniper” could actually be seen, at least in the final scene, as a good-gun, bad-gun message. The real Chris Kyle did enjoy walking around the house, twirling a pistol. His wife said that as the clouds lifted after his Iraq service, he would playfully point a gun at the television and pretend to shoot down the bad guys.

No wonder we’re separating into two Americas. It’s not red and blue. It’s sane and insane.

So, now that we’ve gone there, another thing that was published a while back that I only saw a couple days ago: A very entertaining exegesis of the men who hate Hillary Clinton, and the, uh, interesting ways they express it:

Let’s begin with Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., author of “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House,” since if Hillary’s biographer-foes sound like embittered ex-husbands, in Tyrrell, founder and editor-in-chief of the far-right American Spectator, we’re fortunate to have a biographer who’s occasionally mused in print about his actual ex-wife. So who gets it worse—Hillary or the ex? Actually it’s a toss-up. Who would have predicted: coincidentally it turns out that Madame Tyrrell and Madame Hillary share an uncanny number of similar traits. Hillary’s a self-righteous, self-regarding narcissist, “a case study in what psychiatrists call ‘the controlling personality,” and assumes the world will share her conviction that she’s always blameless. Compare with Tyrrell on the soon-to-be-ex, from his political memoir The Conservative Crack-Up: “She resorted to tennis, then religion, and then psychotherapy. Finally she tried divorce—all common American coping mechanisms for navigating middle age.” When Tyrrell worries that suburban women will secretly identify with Hillary’s independence and break from their husbands’ politics in the privacy of the voting booth, clearly suburban women’s late-breaking independence is territory he has cause to know and fear.

Hillary’s disposition is dark, sour, and conspiratorial; she has a paranoid mind, a combative style, is thin-skinned, and “prone to angry outbursts.” Whereas the ex-Mrs. T., we learn, was afflicted with “random wrath”; and as divorce negotiations were in their final stages, threatened to make the proceedings as public and lurid as possible. Hillary has “a prehensile nature,” which makes it sound like she hangs from branches by her feet. (Tyrrell has always fancied himself a latter day Mencken, flashing his big vocabulary around like a thick roll of banknotes.) And while he nowhere actually says that his ex-wife hung from branches by her feet, the reference to protracted divorce negotiations probably indicates that “grasping”—the definition of prehensile (I had to look it up)—is a characterization he wouldn’t argue with. When Tyrrell writes of Bill and Hillary that there was an emotional side to the arrangement, with each fulfilling the other’s idiosyncratic needs, as we see, he’s been there himself.

It gets better:

On the sexual creepiness meter, Klein gets some stiff competition from Carl Limbacher, who writes for the far-right news outlet NewsMax and is the author of “Hillary’s Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton’s Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House.” Here’s another biographer a little too keen to nose out the truth about Hillary’s sexuality: Bill Clinton is a predator, Hillary digs it, and this is the key that unlocks her character. If Hillary didn’t literally hold down the victims while Bill did the deed, she was complicit nonetheless—“a victimizer who actually enabled her husbands predations,” since “a woman with half the intellect of Hillary Clinton would understand that she’s married to a ravenous sexual predator at best—a brutal serial rapist at worst.” At least he compliments her intellect. I’m dying to know what Limbacher imagines Hillary’s wearing when he fantasizes about her in the henchwoman-to-rape role—her Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS outfit or the navy blue pantsuit.

I recall it was said of Bill Clinton that he was fortunate in his enemies. That goes doubly so for Barack Obama, and probably triply so for Hillary. I cringe to imagine what the discourse over President Hillary will be. Just cringe.

OK, then, let’s get to the miscellanea:

Thanks to Jeff for bringing me up to date on the many lavish purchases of Leslie Wexner, Columbus tycoon and probably the richest person I ever interviewed. (He was very polite and sent me a lovely handwritten thank-you note later.) He appears to have bought a Downton Abbey-like house in the Cotswolds, solely to have a nice shooting estate for his wife, who is a trap and skeet enthusiast. They use it two weeks out of the year. I wonder if they use beaters, and whether they carry their own guns.

Chris Christie was kicked out of the quiet car, or, as the NYPost calls it, Amtrak’s “notorious” quiet car. I’ve heard anecdotal quiet-car stories that lead me to… not take a side on this one. No, not even the governor of New Jersey can yell into a cell phone in the quiet car; that’s why the quiet car exists. On the other hand, it seems quiet-car denizens can get upset by the quiet rattle of a keyboard, so there’s that. As someone who lives in a place where commuter rail is essentially non-existent, I’ll be Switzerland here.

And that’s it for the weekend, then. Shall we bite the new week in the ankle? Let’s.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Movies |

52 responses to “American what the-?”

  1. Sherri said on October 26, 2015 at 12:55 am

    When Tyrrell worries that suburban women will secretly identify with Hillary’s independence and break from their husbands’ politics in the privacy of the voting booth, clearly suburban women’s late-breaking independence is territory he has cause to know and fear.

    Every now and again I have to remind myself that there are people out there who would prefer that I not be able to vote. My husband, who usually just copies my ballot, is not one of them.

    The Benghazi hearing may have been the best thing that could have happened to Hillary’s campaign. Everybody who was lukewarm about her got a chance to see her being hectored by a bunch of slavering idiots and look completely Presidential. Someone commented that the committee reminded her of her ex-husband. Compare her performance to anybody running for the Republican nomination, and it’s a joke.

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  2. Sherri said on October 26, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Because the Freedom Caucus is considering Paul Ryan as Speaker, they’re obviously just a bunch of RINOs.

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  3. Brandon said on October 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

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  4. Linda said on October 26, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Re: the crazy gun handling movement. One of the strengths, and the pathologies of the right is the tribalism that gets people to support their allies through hell or high water. With guns, it means that if you have allies in open carry who are crazy, you defend them against all criticism, even if this means jumping into the crazy with them. My brother always had his guns locked up in a safe when his kids were little. Now he is silent or supportive of the craziest open carry people in the news.

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  5. Linda said on October 26, 2015 at 7:03 am

    And for Sherri @2: love the sound of the revolution devouring its children. Nom nom nom.

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  6. basset said on October 26, 2015 at 7:30 am

    First rule of gun safety, you always, always treat it like it’s loaded.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 26, 2015 at 7:50 am


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  8. ROGirl said on October 26, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Funny how revolutionary movements resemble one another no matter what the political bent. Every step along the path just ups the ante as it devolves into nihilistic destruction.

    Watching the Republican party blow itself up is kind of satisfying, but some scary people are getting very wound up over their frustration and anger.

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  9. Suzanne said on October 26, 2015 at 7:53 am

    The Freedom Caucus catching flack for not being reactionary enough. Not surprised. When you live in a world where extreme ideology makes for a perfect world, but that perfection never comes, it’s never that the ideology is unworkable. Gotta be somebody else’s fault.

    So Rubio is the new Palin. “My job is hard, so I quit. And now I want a harder job. But you hard working Americans better not quit your crappy jobs because then you’ll be takers instead of makers.” Apparently these Constitution loving conservatives still don’t understand that as president, you don’t get to do whatever you want. It’s in the Constitution.

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  10. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 8:19 am

    at some point during the weekend, I tripped across one of those all-purpose documentaries on msnbc, and it pulled me in. It was about the Medical Examiner’s office in Maccomb County

    and it was enthralling. This young-ish looking fellow has the job, and the show focused on three or four specific cases he had to deal with. There was a definite “ick”-factor (as in “BLECCCCHHH!!”), but that falls away (more or less) as the show unwinds. When the weekend comes, the young-ish Medical Examiner is shown relaxing with his family, aboard their boat on Lake St Claire(!), and – waddaya know! – his beeper goes off as someone drowned in the lake. It was altogether interesting, in a ‘Quincy’ sort of way

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  11. coozledad said on October 26, 2015 at 8:52 am

    “I can just tell you that of the 50-some odd interviews we have done thus far, the vast majority of them have been private. And you don’t see the bickering among the members of Congress in private interviews,” he continued.

    Gowdy said that the next several interviews by the committee will be done behind closed doors, saying, “The private ones always produce better results.”

    Gowdy wanted a show trial. Now that the show trial hasn’t gone his way, he wants a Star Chamber. He and the rest of the Republicans want an America that resembles South Carolina. Arbitrary arrests, confinements, preordained judgements plus torture. It’s what they’re working toward.

    I used to think it was revenge for Nixon having shot his own drunkard head off, but it’s all about the Bush family, and the monarchical hopes the Republicans had pinned on them.

    I know how Republicans conduct the business of the courts when they achieve full control. Our current chair of county commissioners was caught driving poisonously drunk, and they brought in a friendly Republican judge, Mike Gentry, to throw out the BAC report and vacate the arrest.

    When they talk about how much they hate the government, they’re also talking about how much they hate justice. They’re drooling sideshow freaks by birth and circumstance, and they don’t deserve a voice in government, much less actual power.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on October 26, 2015 at 8:58 am

    If the Senate is “too hard”, how does Rubio think he’d handle the Presidency? He’s insane. I do hope and pray that the crazies on the right have disgusted enough voters that we’ll start to see different results at the polls.

    And how about the Obama Grumpy Cat swagger? Hilarious.

    It was a very, very rough weekend for some people that I love, and I spent most of it on the phone listening to tears and often crying along. Here’s to a better week. Please.

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  13. Kirk said on October 26, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Les Wexner also dropped a few bucks on a toy that turned out to have been stolen, so now he’s suing. He spent $16.5 million for a Ferrari so rare that only four of them exist in this universe.

    I wonder if the Cotswolds place has a bridge rigged to explode in case assassins are chasing him, as his home place here in Ohio reportedly does.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on October 26, 2015 at 9:11 am

    I must learn how to find all this amusing if I’m going to be more “devil may care” in my views of American politics, but it ain’t easy. I’m reading more and more about how those who identify with the so-called Freedom Caucus are just fine with not extending the debt limit, which would be absolutely catastrophic, not only to the American economy, but to the world’s. To say these Republican rebels are not particularly bright is a compliment. They literally have no idea how the world works and, worse, don’t care to learn. They learned nothing from our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. They look at the moves of Vladimir Putin in Syria, discerned by experts in Russian foreign policy as a flailing, dead end strategy, and see a muscular strong man they admire over President Obama the wimp. They see no need for massive infrastructure investments, improvement of public schools and universities. We’re dealing not simply with nihilists, but really stupid nihilists.

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  15. Jolene said on October 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I wondered too, Julie, exactly how Rubio is planning to accomplish things as president that he is frustrated about not having accomplished as a senator. As Barack Obama has learned to his dismay, there are severe limits on what president’s can do on their own.

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  16. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Kirk, that bizarre story is proof of the statement about ‘the rich’ being different from you and I. Julie – here’s wishing all the best to you and yours

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  17. ROGirl said on October 26, 2015 at 9:20 am

    It’s stupid nihilists who get their ideas about how they think the world should work by watching “Survivor.”

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  18. Jeff Borden said on October 26, 2015 at 9:33 am

    BTW, if I recall, R. Emmet Tyrrell is also a huge Confederacy buff. Nothing surprising there, I guess.

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  19. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Jeff caused me to google up Tyrell & Lincoln, and I landed here –

    the lead:

    WASHINGTON — I begin most days in the library of my northern Virginia home a couple of blocks from a Confederate war memorial. From atop a stone pedestal, a young soldier, hands clasped on the muzzle of his rifle, peers forever south toward Richmond, once the capital of the Confederacy. Two blocks from the brooding soldier I sit, taking my coffee and reading the morning newspapers under an enormous picture of Abraham Lincoln. It is my first irreverent act of the day, but on a good day it is not my last.

    He goes on to stake his claim on Lincoln (via his great great grandfather), and otherwise basically does his terrible-two Tyrell shtick

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  20. Diane said on October 26, 2015 at 10:36 am

    I couldn’t even find the quiet car in a recent Amtrak trip from NY to Baltimore. There is a garbled announcement purporting to tell you where it is and then you go down to the track and there is a mad rush and absolutely no indication of which direction to head for the quiet car. The car I ended up in was very comfortable but I learned way more about the efficiency expert consulting business than I ever thought I would due to the 2 hours of constant phone conversations by the guy in the seat behind me.

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  21. Sue said on October 26, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I’ve only seen “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” in bits and pieces, but isn’t there some kind of similar ‘romantic’ scene in that one? I thought it was kind of creepy, but like I said, I’ve only caught that movie walking through the room when other people were watching it.
    I guess that’s one way to steal a lady’s heart, by playfully threatening to blow it right out of her chest.

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  22. Bitter Scribe said on October 26, 2015 at 11:55 am

    In Tony Hendra’s memoirs, he recounts how, when he and P.J. O’Rourke (whom he couldn’t stand) were co-editing the National Lampoon, O’Rourke kept trying to get Tyrell’s stuff into the magazine. Hendra describes Tyrell as “an odious little fruitfly” and his writing as “great swatches of Latinate alliteration draped over gutter-level bigotry.”

    Sue @21: You’re right about that scene, but IMO it’s such a cool movie overall that I give them a mulligan for it.

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  23. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I don’t remember that sort of gunplay in the movie, but I do remember a scene where one of them was busy in a brothel while the other noticed that the posse came into town, and had to interrupt things so they could leap out a window (or some such) while one fellow after the next discharged their weapons…

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  24. coozledad said on October 26, 2015 at 11:56 am

    One piece of information really stood out at the Benghazi hearings, and that was how deep you have to scratch a Republican before you get them to squeak “INTERNATIONAL JEW!”

    You have to watch those Sidney Blumenthals. They only want to defile good German American blood.

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  25. coozledad said on October 26, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I meant to strike through “German”, even though there was a sort of Teutonic “ass would pinch through a 20d nail” cast to the Republican half of the proceedings.

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  26. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Cooze – there is genuine derangement amongst American conservatives when it comes to Germans and Jews and the Holocaust…. and Benjamin whata-yahoo actually seemed to offer an apologia for Adolf Hitler’s genocidal impulses.

    Question one seems to be “who do you hate the most, today?” – and if the answer is “Them Muslims” – then even the damned Nazis become your friend

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  27. James said on October 26, 2015 at 12:41 pm

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  28. Deborah said on October 26, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Isn’t Tyrell a replicant?

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  29. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Today’s cake-taker, speaking of guns:

    The lead:

    NORTH WEBSTER, Ind. (WANE) Conservation officers said a woman who had been out hunting was hospitalized after she was shot in the foot – by her dog.
    Allie Carter, 25, of Avilla was hunting waterfowl at Tri-County Fish and Wildlife Area on Saturday when the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was called around 10 a.m. on reports of someone shot while hunting.

    And the kicker –

    Carter was apparently repositioning herself while hunting waterfowl and placed her 12-gauge shotgun on the ground at her feet. That’s when the DNR said her 10-year-old chocolate Labrador, “which is ironically and aptly named Trigger,” stepped on the shotgun. The gun went off and shot Carter in the foot, point-blank.

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  30. Wim said on October 26, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Deborah, replicants are made by the Tyrell Corporation.

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  31. Deborah said on October 26, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    I know, Wim. It was a lame joke.

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  32. Dave said on October 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Yes, there is a scene like that in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Sundance (Robert Redford) treats Etta Place (ah, Katherine Ross) like that. A movie that I have to confess to loving and seeing several times.

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  33. brian stouder said on October 26, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    “Who are those guys?”

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  34. Jolene said on October 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Brian, I thought I remembered incidents like the woman who was shot by her dog, so googled “shot by dog” and found that there’s quite a history of such events . Fortunately, because dogs are shorter than humans, they can’t readily aim for the chest or head. Still, some of these responsible gun owners were pretty seriously injured.

    And, to return to the theme of romantic gun play: Roughly a hundred years ago, I worked as a clerk on the surgery ward at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, which was then and, I believe still is, the city’s trauma center. One fine day, we admitted a young woman who’d been shot in the vagina. She and her boyfriend claimed that she’d been shot by robbers who’d broken into their apartment, but both the police and the doctors thought otherwise.

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  35. Judybusy said on October 26, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Deborah, I thought it was a fine joke!

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  36. Julie Robinson said on October 26, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Benjamin whata-yahoo. Thread winner for me.

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  37. Wim said on October 26, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I’m sorry, Deborah. I was dropping in from the real world still wearing an editor hat.

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  38. Jolene said on October 26, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    For the many here who are fans of Brussels sprouts: I came across this NYT link that specifies fourteen ways to cook them. Might be some ways to add new tricks to your repertoire here.

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  39. Jolene said on October 26, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Things are bad in the Middle East now, but, hey, they could get worse. Scientists are predicting that, by the end of the century, climate change will have made it uninhabitable.

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  40. Jolene said on October 26, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    More detail re the above. Both scary and interesting.

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  41. Deborah said on October 26, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I used to hate Brussel Sprouts but my husband loves them so much we have them quite often and I’ve learned to love them too. Thanks for the link Jolene, always looking for new ways to make them.

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  42. devtob said on October 26, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Not sure what Ed Klein wrote that was creepy, but he’s become wealthy lately writing fiction about the Clinton and Obama hating each other that he sells as real insider scoops.

    The Murdoch press breathlessly promote Klein’s fiction, despite the overwhelming likelihood that no one close to the Clintons or Obama has ever dished to him. But it fits the Murdoch narrative.

    My favorite Klein lie is from his most recent novel, about a “boozy lunch” at Le Jardin du Roi, a resto near the Clinton home in Chappaqua, NY, is a relatively minor one.

    Klein writes that “the wines had been carefully chosen by Roi, the owner of the restaurant,” plus “Roi waited on Hillary personally and prepared a special vegan dish for her after the former first lady told him that she was trying to lose weight.”

    Of course, there is no “Roi” doing any of that — the resto name is French for the garden of the king, and its owner is named Joe.

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  43. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 26, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Ed Klein books keep being donated to our church’s little library by one elderly Tea Partier, frequented by octo- and nonagerians of a Midwestern frame of paranoia. The donor landed at Omaha Beach (he is always quick to point out on June 8th, not the 6th) and was wounded in the Normandy hedgerows three harrowing weeks later, so he gets cut some slack that a younger parishioner would not receive. The pastor keeps making those donations disappear, since it’s next to his office and on the way to the little bathroom that serves both spaces.

    I thought about including them in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, but decided that, while it gets them far enough away, it would be cruel. So they just go in the dumpster deep in a bag full of old craft supplies or other loose scraps of useless paper.

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  44. Julie Robinson said on October 26, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    Oh Jefftmmo, tell me you aren’t supporting Franklin Graham’s hatefulness. Doesn’t your denomination have any similar, better projects? Through Lutheran World Relief, we make school kits, health kits, sewing kits, layettes, and quilts. The shoeboxes we make go to kids in our (very poor) neighborhood at a Christmas party, where we also have tables of gifts for the kids to wrap up for their family members. I wouldn’t send a penny to help Graham pretend he’s a Christian. It’s a great impulse, but there are better ways.

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  45. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 26, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Stouderbait — Some very well-reasoned “what ifs” centering around the execrable Andrew Johnson, and the no less appalling behavior of academia (and D.W. Griffith) in the early decades of the 20th century.

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  46. FDChief said on October 26, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Speaking as a former line dog medic, I can only say this about snipers, American or otherwise; there’s a reason that very few of them every survive to the POW camp. I respected the hell out of my battalion recon sniper-scouts, but I wouldn’t have traded places with them for all the TDY money in the DoD budget.

    The problem I have specifically with the Kyle film is the setting. This isn’t the sniper in Saving Private Ryan killing eeeeevil Nazis. In fact, ummm, the problem kinda is…“…making a 2015 flick about the occupation of Iraq glorifying a dude who is a stone killer, who is working as a sniper with an invading army fighting an aggressive war ginned up by lies and propaganda, who considers his targets subhuman “savages”, is different in any meaningful way from remaking the 2001 Stalingrad film Enemy At The Gates but only making the German sniper the hero..?

    It bugged me so much that I wrote a whole blog post about this problem, in fact:

    “You’d think that we would have learned that all sorts of lovely, decent, otherwise-humane people can do the most apalling evil when properly prepared, usually through a combination of innocence, ignorance, prejudice, and a carefully decanted mixture of bullshit and praise from people they respect.

    But, no.

    So lacking that we have to keep screwing our eyes shut tighter and our fingers deeper into our own ears to keep out the thought that we and all our yellow-ribbon magnets might just have been accomplices in a horrible, unspeakable evil.”

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  47. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 26, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Operation Christmas Child long preceded me, and as an effort will probably outlast Franklin’s tenure, bless his tiny little pea-picking heart; we do all those things you mention, plus are a key partner for the Salvation Army directed “Angel Tree” program in this county starting last week, actually, thousands of kids served locally . . . but 20-40 shoeboxes do go out from us, and one lady in our congregation has taken a week every year to go down to North Carolina with her grandkids to help do the back-end work of shipping them overseas, which made me feel better in hearing directly that the darn things don’t go into dumpsters in Charlotte. They’re really going where they say they go, and yes, I’m well aware it’s also (largely) a play to build mailing lists for Samaritan’s Purse. I don’t bend over backwards to promote it (we could do 200 if I just gave it a hearty shove), but I’m not of a mind to kill it out of my own distaste for their CEO. Puritanism doesn’t work for me in either direction.

    I’m no Savonarola, can’t have a Bonfire of the Verities right off . . . but I can make Ed Klein’s books vanish!

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  48. basset said on October 26, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I drove the entire length of Alabama today, south to north. Don’t talk to me about Confederate flags. Just don’t.

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  49. brian stouder said on October 27, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Jeff – thanks for the “what-if” piece. Our high school junior has been grilling me on the Civil War/reconstruction/impeachment/the klan, and so I immediately printed it off and gave it to her, too.

    Eric Foner has been my guiding light on Reconstruction, which is a fairly arbitrary term for an unwieldy process that arguably continued (in fits and starts) right up to Ike sending troops into Arkansas and JFK’s administration going (literally) toe-to-toe with Governor Wallace at the school house door in Tuscaloosa.

    In a larger sense, American Reconstruction is sort of like a rainbow, in that it’s visible and real (from some angles), even as it is illusory and fleeting, and indeed nonexistent, depending on the perspective of another observer.

    One structural problem with human beings trying to govern themselves is that voters can all-too-easily (and predictably) be herded into voting to hold down a particular subset of human beings, the better to avoid becoming the mud-sills of society, themselves.

    The magical ‘southern strategy’ of mid-late 20th century Republican party politics is of course just the same 19th century Democratic/Dixiecrat thinking, in a new package.

    Really, considering the insuperable intellectual dishonesty of a guy like Thomas Jefferson, who could write the ‘beautiful words’ about “inalienable rights” but who nonetheless took ownership of human beings (and impregnated some of them), I think the United States never had a chance to avoid this catastrophe.

    Indeed, we made a mess of things, yes? But NOW – in the 21st century – maybe we really are moving at least a bit closer to the right direction – even despite the caterwauling of such as Donald Trump or Dr Carson

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  50. Sherri said on October 27, 2015 at 12:44 am

    Our church does Operation Christmas Child, too, much to my distaste, but some battles aren’t worth fighting. I don’t like the entire concept, even if it weren’t a Franklin Graham production; I have this fantasy that someday, people will get the concept that shipping crap overseas isn’t really helping anybody.

    Besides, if I complained about Operation Christmas Child, I’d feel compelled to be involved in an alternative, and I just don’t have time. I’m maxed out on the capital campaign at church, the mayor’s campaign in the city, and the curriculum adoption committee for the school district. And, so I don’t get bored when the mayor’s campaign and the capital campaign wrap up soon, I just submitted my application for the city planning commission.

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  51. Wim said on October 27, 2015 at 3:00 am

    FDChief, you have some really interesting stuff at your blog. Thanks for the link!

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  52. Jenine said on October 27, 2015 at 9:38 am

    @50. Respect to your efforts, Sherri.

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