Tracking shots.

I’ve been rewatching “Rome,” the HBO series on guess-what. Every time I watch a costume drama I wonder whether horsemanship is part of a British actor’s training. So many of them ride very well, and it’s not easy, doing it on camera. I recall an actor who played General Custer saying the hardest part of inhabiting the old general was riding a horse to a mark and getting it to stand there.

I also wonder how British English became the default accent of filmed depictions of antiquity. Maybe because it has a wide range of accents within it, from Cockney to Buckingham Palace, that we Americans somehow recognize as Street and Classy.

Yes, these are the thoughts that occupy me on a Thursday after a long week. They’re all long, aren’t they? And despite the pleasures of working at home — sitting around in yoga pants all day, making banana bread on my lunch break — there’s something about not having a quitting-time whistle, or its associated rituals, that tells you it’s time to put down the hammer and go sit on the porch a bit.

Or it might be that I’m just in a sour mood because I came across some tracking video in the course of my research today, and was repelled by it. You know what tracking is, right? A politician on the trail is followed by an opposition operative with a video camera, recording every word that comes out of their mouth in a public setting — and whatever private moments they might be lucky enough to get, at least if it reflects badly on their target. Both sides do it, oh yes they do. I once sat at a joint appearance by Sen. Debbie Stabenow and former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who was angling for her job. I was sitting in the front row, and when Stabenow was done talking, her tracker got up from the seat next to me and another young man took his place, taping Hoekstra.

It’s just business, but imagine being in this business. If this was your job. You had to get up every morning and be that asshole, hoping to get the next macaca or 47 percent moment (yes, I know the latter wasn’t gotten via traditional tracking, but it was tracking just the same). You want to know why politicians never speak honestly, why you have to pay a fortune to hear one talk about bitter clingers (not that that’ll ever happen again), why they’re such robots — this is one reason.


OK, enough. Time to stop staring at this screen, because it’s not good for me. (Andrew Sullivan says so!)

Why I don’t watch CNN anymore is no mystery (we cut the cord). Why I didn’t watch it for years before we cut the cord is pretty well encapsulated here. Also: Wolf Blitzer.

Mike Pence disapproves of you badmouthing the police. Just thought you should know.

I think I’m ready to go surfing again. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

45 responses to “Tracking shots.”

  1. Dexter said on September 23, 2016 at 1:56 am

    I saw the Don King N-drop and he needed no tracker to get that one starred and hi-lited…I am convinced that was no mis-speak, as Hillary Clinton and many others have used as a defense for saying words that they believed truly but caught hell for when the sifter sorted it out. Don King dropped the N-bomb to get national TV news coverage, one last blow-out, at a Trump rally, waving American flags as usual.
    My wife hates Trump, truly hates him. She is mad that there was only one visible HRC yard sign on out 90-mile drive Thursday, and probably 25 Trump-Pence yard signs.
    In the cascading prism of alternate universes, somewhere Elizabeth Warren is running for President against one of those jailbird Illinois governors. And I am paying attention. That would be fun. This 2016 election, in real time, is necessitating I ignore as much as possible to preserve my sanity.

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Obviously, those of us sitting parked here on a website/blog (can we call NN.C a blog yet?) are somewhat biased in a tech-ish direction, but I enjoyed the Sullivan article, I get what he’s saying, but I see the same obsessiveness he brought to being online now being aimed at silence and meditativeness. I’m not his spiritual director, lucky him, but I’d be tempted to say he needs more balance in his life than he needs another extreme.

    But there’s a bit, and I mean this in the most affectionate way possible, of Mr. Toad in Andrew. If you’ve not read “The Wind in the Willows,” first you *should* set down the computer and find a copy with the Ernest Shepherd illustrations, and for pity’s sake immerse yourself in the world of Mole and Rat. And in that world, a well-to-do well-meaning neighbor living in Toad Hall is Mr. Toad. And as a small child I learned something very helpful about human nature from Mr. Toad, who was given to enthusiasms. First boating, then camping, and almost fatally, to automobiles (vroom, vroom), but the point was that Toad would catch a hint of the ineffable in an activity, and it became his whole world to the exclusion of everything else, to the extent of denying he was ever interested in any of his previous passions. And when the next one came along, BOOM, and all his friends were expected to . . . go along for the ride.

    The essay read like Mr. Toad’s latest certainty, and I wish him well in it, but it too will pass unless he gets a little more moderation in his oatmeal. I do a three day silent retreat each year, and it’s a blessing, but if you don’t feel a tug to that, then bless you too. Some people surf. (Well, not Charlie.)

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  3. Julie Robinson said on September 23, 2016 at 9:20 am

    British English became the default accent of filmed depictions of antiquity because the Brits made (and still make) most of them.

    A long-running criticism of Evan Bayh is that he’s always behaved as if there’s a tracking video on him. He never wanted to say or vote for something that could be used against him. The result was a seeming lack of passion or believing strongly enough in something to make a stand. I’ll be voting for him but with that same lack of passion.

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  4. brian stouder said on September 23, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Indiana is in a tizzy – and who knows where this will go

    The Donald is comfortably ahead HRC, to the extent that it’s putting a drag on Bayh’s efforts.

    By way of saying, I’ll vote with very great passion for HRC, and for Bayh.

    I really, really want the Democratic party to win back the United States Senate, even more than I want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.

    If we get the worst possible outcome – Trump presidency + Republican House and Senate – I think that will mean the end of any semblance of a national Republican party (those guys are rock-throwers, rather than responsibility-takers), lasting damage to the nation (owing to their ultimate derangement of the Supreme Court), and the dawning of the age of you-can-go-to-hell “governing”

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  5. Deborah said on September 23, 2016 at 10:00 am

    While reading the Andrew Sullivan link I found myself getting fidgety and anxious, which is the worst thing the Internet has done to me (IMO anyway) which is to shorten my attention span considerably, on line and in real life. Now maybe that’s also a result of aging, I don’t know, but it’s sure troubling. I just can’t concentrate like I used to. Oh how I wish I could sit down again with a book and lose myself for hours on end, that would be nirvana. Now slight noises or movements catch my attention and interrupt me, then I have to refocus, find my place and continue. It’s exhausting. I wonder if I take a long vacation from the Internet, would that help? I would miss you all if I did that, but maybe I should. I’ll think about it, if I can focus on that thought for a bit, anyway.

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  6. nancy said on September 23, 2016 at 10:23 am

    A friend of mine who’s a Sullivan fan said a version of Jeff’s comment: “He’s excitable.” If you take that all in consideration when you read him, his stuff makes more sense.

    Rod Dreher is excitable, too, but in a different way. He seems to vibrate with anxiety over any number of things, a real nervous wreck, which he then filters through his right-wing religious-nut filter and comes up with his crackbrain blog posts.

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  7. Bitter Scribe said on September 23, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Whenever I read about horsemanship and movies, I remember this one anecdote. Wish I could remember the actor’s name, but he apparently was a spectacular rider.

    He was filming a scene that required him to lead a cohort on horseback full tilt around a corner. When he did, he saw to his horror that some idiot had placed a camera directly in his path, much too close to evade. There was nothing else for it, so he spurred his horse to leap clear over the camera, making for a spectacular shot.

    Unfortunately, as horse and rider were sailing through the air, his saddle girth (or whatever it is) broke and threw him off the horse. He saw to his relief that he was going to land on what looked like a nice, soft pile of manure. It turned out to be a thin layer covering a pile of nice, jagged rubble. Ouch.

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  8. brian stouder said on September 23, 2016 at 10:43 am

    So when he yelled “OHHH SHHHHHHIT!” – he was actually making a joyful exclamation, eh?

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  9. adrianne said on September 23, 2016 at 11:16 am

    On the bright side, someone at the New York Times has apparently decided, fuck it, we’re just going to call them as we see them on the Donald. This gem from this morning’s story on debate prep (three bylines on the story, but I detect the subtle hand of Patrick Healy, theater critic): Mr. Trump, in turn, is approaching the debate like a Big Man on Campus who thinks his last-minute term paper will be dazzling simply because he wrote it.

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  10. brian stouder said on September 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I honestly believe HRC will hand that guy his ass.

    She’s been there-done that; she’s taken hits and more hits and more hits (most recently from Bernie Seinfeld), and given as good as she got.

    Correct me if I’m wrong – but I’ve not seen the Donald do a one-on-one debate with anyone, right? Plus – he’s quick to anger, and I cannot recall him laughing (let alone chuckling) at any sharp one liner against him, ever.

    Remember the constipated look he had when BHO cooked his ass at a White House Correspondents’ dinner a few years ago? I’m thinkin’ THAT’S the guy who’ll show up at the prime-time Monday debate

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  11. Bitter Scribe said on September 23, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Something that worries me about the debate: Columnist John “the K is silent” Kass of the Chicago Tribune predicts that Clinton will mop the floor with Trump. It worries me because Kass is our local William Kristol: never right about anything.

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  12. Heather said on September 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Adrianne, I just read that NYT article. Last line is the best (regarding where the candidates are doing their debate prep): “Trump: Initially at his weekend home in Bedminster, N.J., but moved to Trump Tower in Manhattan after distractions kept popping up in Bedminster.”

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  13. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Sullivan points in a direction and takes it up to 11. That can be interesting, if he pointed in an interesting direction. It can be creepy when he decides that Sarah Palin really wasn’t pregnant. It can be dangerous when he’s making editorial decisions for The New Republic, and handing over space to Betsy McCaughey and Charles Murray.

    I was talking last night with a friend of mine. She leans Republican, but finds Trump scary and will vote Hillary. What’s interesting in talking with her is that she’s what I would call superficially informed. She listens to TV news compulsively, reads stuff on the Internet, reads a variety of opinion columnists. We have huge arguments over politics, for fun.

    Why I call her superficially informed is that she hears Romney’s 47% remark, and thinks that it means those people pay no taxes at all. She didn’t know commercial properties pay property taxes. What triggered our big argument last night was that she’s convinced that there’s a trend of African-American voters toward the Republican Party because she’s seeing more African-American Republicans on TV and she thinks it takes a lot of guts to go on TV as an African-American Republican.
    I tried to explain selection bias, but this goes to my hopeless and irredeemable tv news point: it makes you dumber.

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  14. Jolene said on September 23, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    There’s so much commentary about this debate: strengths, weaknesses, speaking style, what each must do to counteract the other, expectations, how various segments are likely to respond to particular moves by one or the other. Like the election itself, I’ll be glad when it’s over.

    It doesn’t seem like expertise is playing much of a role in this campaign, but I’m hoping that Trump’s inability to speak three consecutive sentences on any matter of policy will be his undoing. To the extent that he succeeded in the primary debates, it was because he found some way to needle his opponents, but it’s hard to imagine that that will work in a ninety-minute one-to-one exchange

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  15. Jolene said on September 23, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Similar to the idea that finding an African American to speak in favor of Trump doesn’t signal growing support in that community is the idea that crowd size is not a great predictor of victory. Trump needs, I believe, something like 65 million votes to win. I don’t think he realizes how many 10,000 person rallies he’d have to hold to get to that number.

    Of course, I know that many people who haven’t gone to a rally will vote for him. But the size of his rallies and the enthusiasm of the people who who attend are, I believe, bits of data that have been over-interpreted in his favor.

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  16. Jeff Borden said on September 23, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Andrew Sullivan lost me when he passionately embraced W.’s invasion of Iraq and then cast those who rightfully opposed it of being capable of “fifth column” activities. Combined with his elevation of Charles Murray’s racist screeds, it was enough for me to never visit his website again. I don’t miss him a bit.

    What I do miss is decent columnists in the New York Times. While Gail Collins has emerged as a great voice and Paul Krugman continues to wield his economist’s pencil to puncture conservative theories, the others are such a pack of mediocrities. Could David Brooks become even more Babbitt like? Ross Douthat? Tom Friedman? And Maureen Fucking Dowd, who has been pumping out the same mirthless bullshit since 1992? Ugh.

    I don’t know if I can sit through the debate Monday. A buddy has suggested we all go to the movies that night, so we are in a cocoon we cannot escape for a couple of hours. I think it’s advice we might take.

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  17. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I’m going to go against my usual practice and watch the debate. My husband has choir practice and can’t watch it with me, so I’ve invited one of my best friends, who is a new empty-nester and whose husband can’t be home to watch it either. We’ve worked on multiple campaigns together, and her job is to keep me from destroying my TV. I’m guessing C-Span will be the least intolerable option for watching.

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  18. Scout said on September 23, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    @JuddLegum has a tweet thread this morning in which he speculates that the Monday event is not going to be a ‘sober discussion of policy details’, but rather a venue for Mr Reality TV to show up and create memorable moments.

    The expectation bar has been set so low for he-who that if he manages to get through it without waving his arms and messing up his stitched on hair, the media will declare him the victor. His team claims he isn’t preparing for it, which is surely not true. I doubt he’s readying for it in any way that resembles serious, issue oriented debate prep, but he is prepping nonetheless.

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  19. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Trump has become a more disciplined candidate. His policies are even more frightening.

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  20. alex said on September 23, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    He was polling his supporters yesterday as to whether he should refer to his opponent as “Crooked Hillary” onstage to her face. That’s his debate prep.

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  21. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Dude. Really. No more pot before interviews.

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  22. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    When I was young, my pediatrician was a curmudgeonly old man who adored his patients (his “babies”) and terrorized nurses and other doctors (he had a solo practice.) I remember when I was entering puberty, he gave me advice,on handling boys. “Just laugh at them,” he said. “That will stop them.”

    Margaret Atwood says that men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them. A long lead up to this: I think Hillary should laugh at Trump on Monday, or at one of the debates. The pundits will all go ballistic, because the pundits are mostly male, but I think will make it obvious what a clown he is.

    The pundits all tut-tutted over deplorables, but it’s hurting Trump, not Clinton; it kept the racism, etc, front and center.

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  23. Bitter Scribe said on September 23, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    I’m conflicted because the Bears game will be on at the same time as the debate. I should record the debate and watch it afterward, but considering how horrible the Bears have been in their first two games, watching the debate in real time might be a mercy.

    At the same time…as a lifelong Bears fan I hate to admit this, but I find the new Bears regime very dislikable, and I’m taking almost a perverse pleasure in watching them fall on their asses. They got rid of Brandon Marshall, went 6-10, then promptly dealt Matt Forte (who has run for 100+ yards twice already for the Jets) and Martellus Bennett (two great games for the Patriots) for almost nothing. The second-year coach, John Fox, seems to think his success elsewhere in the NFL means no one in Chicago is allowed to question him. They got rid of Bennett in part because Fox didn’t like his attitude. Hey, John, a lot of people in Chicago are getting tired of yours.

    Sorry for the OT rant.

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  24. Joe Kobiela said on September 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Ah, bitter scribe, the Bears play, if you want to call it that, Sunday night not Monday.
    Long time Bears fan, I remember 1-13 in 69.
    Pilot Joe

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  25. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Jay Cutler will break your heart. Just good enough to give you hope, not good enough to fulfill it.

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  26. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Another guy I’d like to vote onto Peter Thiel’s seasteading libertarian paradise:

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  27. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    More conservative intellectual navel-gazing about Trump. He doesn’t blame Samantha Bee!

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  28. Bitter Scribe said on September 23, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Joe: Right you are. Thanks. So I’ll get my dose of punishment after all.

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  29. brian stouder said on September 23, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Sherri, that guy was making sense up ’til he said –

    I think 2016 will be relatively close, but it’s very difficult to see how the Republican Party puts together a winning presidential coalition in the future, especially if the Democratic candidate is a stronger and more human one than Hillary Clinton seems to be.

    “More human”??

    Truly, what does that mean?

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  30. David C. said on September 23, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    There’s nothing either Trump or Clinton could say or do to change my mind, so I see no reason to watch Monday’s debate. I can’t stand listening to him, and I can’t stand looking at him, so I’ll watch the Tigers (probably) lose to the Indians instead.

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  31. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Brian, I said he was a conservative intellectual. I didn’t say he had to make sense or be rational. You know how wedded conservatives are to their cartoon Hillary.

    Meanwhile, Ted Cruz? WTF?

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  32. Suzanne said on September 23, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    I usually watch the debates, but this year, I don’t know. If I do, I am going to have to pay my husband to keep me from live tweeting. I might tweet something I’ll regret.

    I hear Lyin’ Ted just decided he could support Trump. For a second there, after he refused to do so, I had a kind thought for him, but now, no. He’s as big a doofus as he appeared to be.

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  33. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    This is concerning.

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  34. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    C-span is doing split screen the entire debate, I read.

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  35. brian stouder said on September 23, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Sherri/33 – Good God! You’ve got that right!!

    Imagine the outcry if the Trumpy-fever swamps could label Hillary a latter-day Manchurian Candidate!

    Oxy-Rush would probably climax and keel over and die, ala Nelson Rockkefeller!

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  36. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Hillary’s policy wonks:

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  37. Dexter said on September 23, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    One of my favorite TCM films is the 1935 BP winner, “It Happened One Night”, Frank Capra’s masterpiece that was lightly regarded at opening, but slowly became a favorite. Claudette Colbert won the first ever Oscar for Best Actress and Clark Gable for Best Actor. Capra won for Best Director and the picture was Best Picture.
    Both Gable and Colbert employed standard American English in tone and pattern, but Daddy, played by Walter Connolly, who was born in Cincinnati, as well as Jameson Thomas, the husband who was born in London, use some kind of British English, totally unlike the movie’s stars. A pivotal actor, “Shapely” , talks in a regular Midwestern style. So I give the actor Thomas, the Englishman, a pass, but why was Daddy, the Ohioan, using Brit-Speak? In casting that worked, Thomas, nine years Connolly’s senior, played Connolly’s son-in-law. (both these actors died young, 50 and 53 years of age.)
    Everyday speech has changed a lot since that time. In 1941 my dad joined the US Navy, and at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Gillette Razors sponsored a promotion in which they interviewed sailors and made 78 rpm recordings for the folks back home. I listened to Dad’s a few years ago and both his and the interviewer’s voices sounded much like John Cameron Swazee’s Timex watch commercials from 1960 and before.

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  38. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    A reminder from Josh Marshall’s article in July about the Trump-Putin ties. Carter Page is number 5 on his list.

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  39. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    All they know is they hate Clinton.

    (Farmers who want government to get out of their business are like senior citizens who want government out of Medicare – unclear on the concept)

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  40. Suzanne said on September 23, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Oh my yes, Sherri! We know lots a farmers who say they hate gov’t handouts but have that hand out for their subsidy. And my father used to moan & groan about Social Security being a Ponzi scheme while he cashed his check every month.

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  41. Jakash said on September 23, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Re: Sullivan, and Nancy saying “He’s excitable.” Indeed. And, speaking of the upcoming debate, he was at his MOST excitable after the first Romney-Obama debate in 2012, in which Obama under-performed and Romney got a bit of a boost. Sullivan was beside himself in the aftermath of that debacle, to the extent that, even though I followed his blog, I abandoned it until after the election because of his doom and gloom about Obama having blown it. I keep thinking I’ll bail on all the overheated election coverage this time, as well, but haven’t managed to do it yet.

    I’ve studiously avoided watching Rumpelthinskin in anything but tiny sound-bites here and there when people link to them, but I figure we may watch this debate in the hopes that Hillary crushes it, as I assume she will. If he gets the same “graded-on-a-curve” treatment that he got from that Matt Lauer thing, that will really piss me off, though.

    I’ve never really given a crap about the Bears, being a non-native Chicagoan, but it never ceases to amaze me how important they are here. They suck. They sucked last year. Cutler sucks, though you’d have to give him a few games where he didn’t get sacked 5 times before you could really be sure. Yet last Monday all 7 Tribune reporters in the sports section survey picked them to beat the Eagles. What pathetic homers. They lost 29 – 14. D’oh! (Apologies to Bitter Scribe, whose comments I’ve admired on 3 different blogs, for that screed!)

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  42. Sue said on September 23, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    I doubt any moderator will be able to control Trump. He will do what he usually does, take up all the air in the room. Part of Hillary’s prep should be practicing the look she gives Congress when they yank her in for hearings, her version of “please proceed”.

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  43. Deborah said on September 23, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    So when I read that Cruz was endorsing Trump I asked my right wing sister via email if she will now be voting for Trump and she still says no. She says he’s not conservative and not a Christian, she thinks if elected he will revert to being a democrat as she says he was previously and she would be mortified if she had voted for him at that point. I have no idea who she will vote for except I know it won’t be Hillary.

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  44. Sherri said on September 23, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    The Carter Page thing seems to be less than meets the eye, but still a weird mystery.

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  45. brian stouder said on September 24, 2016 at 12:25 am

    And another mass shooting, this time in Sherri’s neck of the woods.

    I guess we’ll learn more, as Saturday rolls on

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