Laugh tracks.

Are we feeling sad these days? I know I am. Not stick-my-head-in-the-oven sad, but more like gray-bowl-of-Michigan-winter sad, mixed with I-need-to-read-more-novels-and-less-Twitter sad and orange-elephant-in-the-room sad. If I were wealthier, I’d book a flight to Havana and do the major change of scenery thing. Can’t do that either? Then maybe this will help, a two-parter from New York magazine on the jokes that shaped modern comedy.

It’s not actually a two-parter, just a piece that was published last year, and the new one, dropped in the last couple of days. I like both, because you can really get lost in them, and then you find yourself laughing, and soon it’s as though you aren’t living in the first months of 2017, but in some bubbly comedy land.

Until you hit 1988:

The most influential magazine of its era left a mark on every other: complicated tiny typography, kitschy clip art, little floating heads as illustrations, charts and graphs analyzing everything it covered, and big memorable stories told with an ironic sensibility and unironic rigor. But clearly its single device with the longest legs was the compound hyphenated pejorative epithet, an update of the old Time house style. “Churlish dwarf billionaire Laurence Tisch,” “sex-kittenish Vanity Fair model Diane Sawyer,” “musky, supersuave love man Billy Dee Williams”: Spy’s editors had a knack for summing up an entire person in three or four words. Including one “short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump,” whose rage at this characterization continues to this day, and who now has his tiny, tiny finger on the button. (Sad!) Their glib irreverence would continue well beyond the magazine’s final issue in 1998; it’s almost impossible to find a funny blog that doesn’t at least somewhat depend on Spy’s voice and tone.

Oh, well. Nothing lasts forever. It’s still funny.

I remember that era at Spy. Tisch had his lawyer send a letter that explained Tisch was not “medically, technically a dwarf,” and cease calling him one. So they started ID’ing him as “Churlish billionaire Laurence Tisch, who is not medically, technically a dwarf.” Good times.

We need more use of the word “churl” and all of its variations.

So, what else happened today? The president got into a pissing match with a department store, that’s what. Something I didn’t know:

Last week, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores sent a note to employees — a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times — telling them to throw away signs for Ivanka Trump products.

“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into” the racks where most products hang, the note read. “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded.”

The instruction was to eliminate special displays for the merchandise, “not to remove it from the sales floor,” said Doreen Thompson, a spokeswoman for the TJX Companies, the retailers’ parent corporation.

And no one even called the first daughter an escort to wreck her brand. Maybe something else is at work here. Hmm, what could it be?

Finally, no less a writer than Hank Stuever decreed this story the best feature story about life in 2017, an account of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to the University of Washington, and the events that flowed from it. I’d say it’s right up there, and totally worth your time, Sherri and others.

Who’s ready for a measles outbreak? Because it’s coming.

Posted at 8:34 pm in Current events, Popculch |

101 responses to “Laugh tracks.”

  1. Suzanne said on February 8, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Re: immigrants on the last thread. My very white, very upper crust mother-in-law recently told me that her grandfather (or maybe great-grandfather) from Germany, never bothered to became a US citizen. I know my mothers great-grandparents (also German) spoke almost only German at home.

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  2. Charlotte said on February 8, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Oy — the Ivanka brand thing. My Beloved Stepmother (who is only 8 years older than I am) is a commercial interiors person — Nordstrom was her client when she was at Callison in Seattle, then after the 2008 debacle, they picked her up as an employee. They are so great to work for — she’s had 2 bouts of cancer, and they kept her at full salary through both of them — she originally thought it was a manager protecting her, but has met several folks working the floors who had the same experience. They’ve been taking it on the chin for not dropping Ivanka’s line for political reasons, and when people stopped buying it for political reasons, they’re now taking it on the chin for dropping it for performance reasons.
    But hey, the President was only in the middle of a National Security Briefing when he tweeted about it — it wasn’t like he had anything else going on.

    If you really want to scare yourself — go read this on Bannon’s apocalyptic ideology (from MSN, that lefty scare site):

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  3. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 8, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    The first of my paternal line came here and planted our family name on this soil the old-fashioned way: he deserted the British Army at Saratoga in 1777, and surrendered then joined up with a Pennsylvania militia unit, later taking his pledge of citizenship at York PA where our nation’s capital had hidden out after the taking of Philadelphia. He spent the next winter at Valley Forge, which is where my earlier forbearers liked to start the story . . . but I enjoy putting a thirteen-star flag out every year on Oct. 17 and occasionally have neighbors ask why, and get to tell them . . . “because my ancestor was a turncoat and horse thief!”

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  4. Deborah said on February 8, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    My mother spoke only German as a young child, her parents continued to speak German until much later. My grandfather (my mother’s father, obviously), still only read German, but spoke English fairly well when I was a kid.

    On my Dad’s side they go way back and they were Scot’s Irish (whatever thatis besides hillbilly) so they already spoke English.

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  5. alex said on February 8, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    My dad’s Hungarian. As the product of a mixed marriage I never learned it. My dad told me that at one point he knew he was a full-fledged American when the people in his dreams were speaking English and not Hungarian. He didn’t say when this took place but he was writing law review articles about six years off the boat, so probably by then I would imagine.

    My folks are still in fabulous shape for being in their late 80s. I ran into them both at the dentist’s office this morning and had no idea they’d scheduled their cleanings for the same day. Just resurrected my Waterpik on the advice of the dentist. I’m keeping it in the kitchen from now on instead of the poo room.

    My mom’s ancestry is pretty much everything that was in colonial America from the git-go. To my delight she was a Nickerson (as opposed to the semi-literate Nixons, who came from the same family tree), but to my shame the Nickerson and Crosby families of New England were what Coozledad would call cousinfuckers. It didn’t just happen in Appalachia. If you were a Nickerson you married a Crosby and vice versa for numerous successive generations. And then in the 1800s a Nickerson married into the Vandolah family, Dutch colonial stock also with a lot of first cousin marriages and some Nixons thrown in there too.

    From a document I found online entitled “Notes on the Vandolah Relatives”:

    1883 – James VanDolah bastardy case: # 2 MAY 1883 IN, Allen Co, Fort Wayne — Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel: An Amorous Cousin. Thursday, a procession of the male and female relatives of Miss Frances E. Tucker, a young but not handsome damsel of Perry township filed into Deputy Prosecutor Bittengar’s office and asked an interview. They had with them Frankie herself, who hugged in her bosom a screeching infant, whose cries the inexperienced Jake endeavored to quest with a dose from what he thought was a bottle of soothing syrup, but which proved to be castor oil and which made horrible havoc in the baby’s little stomach. As soon as the din subsided Mr. Bittenger wiped his perspiring brow and asked to what he was indebted for the honor of the visit. It appears that on Feb. 4 last year Miss Tucker as an unmarried female should, found herself with the [ ] mentioned above. Her relatives were very indignant and extorted from her the confession that the father of the child was James Van Dolah, a young unmarried farmer very well to do and Miss Tucker’s own cousin. She was averse to prosecuting him as he had promised to marry her. Mr. Bittenger however explained that by the laws of Indiana first cousins cannot marry and with many objections the girl finally signed an affidavit before Wilkinson J.P., charging her amorous cousin with bastardy. Van Dolah is highly indignant at what he terms coercion on the part of this girls relatives in the proceedings but will have to come to the scratch – settle or marry.
    — The Tucker VanDolah bastardy suit was settled Friday, though a trial was granted.
    — no mention of the child was made in James VanDolah’s 1919 will (see below); child was not included on the grandchildren descendants page.

    I don’t care. I’ll own it. I’m a real American with a pedigree that could make a fucking hilljack blush.

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  6. Deborah said on February 8, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Enjoyed your story, Alex.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 8, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    Alex, I think you just trumped my story!


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  8. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 1:06 am

    Two things I would add to the Milo at UW story:

    -Dino Rossi, the hero of the young College Republican in the story, is currently my state senator, and independent of my political differences with him, is an asshole. He’s telegenic, but he’s appointed to this position and isn’t planning on running in the special election, so he doesn’t care whether he’s rude to constituents.

    -UW has a large foreign born population, especially Asian. There have been tensions to some degree over UW admitting foreigners over Washingtonians (like many public universities, UW is helping to cover costs with foreigners). During the election, there were tensions on campus with trump supporters “building a wall” on campus.

    Oh, and while Carbonado may be a small town, it’s only 50 miles from Seattle. Its not like our young College Republican was unaware of what Seattle politics was like.

    (Mt Rainier is really close to Seattle, which makes it so amazing that for weeks at a time, you can’t even see it.)

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  9. Dexter said on February 9, 2017 at 1:15 am

    …and so, I finally know how the Vandolah Road was named. I grabbed this from some website:
    “Near the same spot where the old man may be seen walking on an old country road, there is a cemetery on Cedar Canyons near Auburn Road and the Vandolah Nature Preserve. Go to the cemetery and get out of your car. If you look in the back of the cemetery, it has been sworn by many that a pair of eyes and a shadow or two can be seen moving from side to side or even towards you. Several people even claim that if the moon is full and shines right on the middle of the cemetery, you can see a little girl staring back at you.” {END}
    When I lived in DeKalb County I heard many tales of the haunted Vandolah Road.

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  10. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Until staff pushback, WGBH had hired a science reporter who was both a climate change denier and an anti-vaxxer.

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  11. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 2:33 am

    Kevin Drum reminds that Republican White House ignorance of policy beyond bumper sticker level is not a new phenomenon:

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  12. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Remember the Flight 93 guy? The guy who made the “conservative intellectual” case for trump under his Roman pseudonym and now works in the White House?

    Yeah, not so much conservative intellectual, more white nationalist, just like the rest of the neo-Nazis.

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  13. nancy said on February 9, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I think one reason I popped off at Joe in the last thread was, I just finished writing this story, part of my magazine’s year-long Michigan Divided project. Hussein and Mariam are the children of immigrants. Hussein’s dad wanted his children to have a strong connection with the family in the old country, so he took them back to Lebanon several summers running when they were kids. Mariam’s didn’t. Consequently, he speaks, reads and writes Arabic fluently, she only speaks it. And his parents peck at him when he doesn’t speak Arabic to their toddler. In other words, in most ways they are exactly like immigrant families of every generation that preceded them, except maybe for their religion. Their daughter will probably be less fluent in Arabic than her mother, and in one more generation, their descendants will be down to cooking terms, religious language and maybe some profanity.

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  14. Heather said on February 9, 2017 at 10:00 am

    My family immigrant story is sort of boringly symmetrical and completely hews to the assimilation patterns mentioned in the thread from yesterday. Both sets of great-grandparents came to Chicago around the turn of the last century (Irish on one side, Polish on the other). My grandfather, the first-generation American, actually Americanized his Polish name, so it’s not surprising that not much Polish culture filtered down to me (besides the Catholicism). I do remember my great-aunts speaking Polish to each other when they didn’t want my brother and me to know what they were saying. I can say “Jesus and Mary” in Polish but that’s it. I am kind of sorry it was all so whitewashed by the time I came around–I didn’t even get pierogis.

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  15. 4dbirds said on February 9, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I haven’t posted much in the last four years as I’ve been crushed with grief and depression but I want Nancy and all those who comment know how much I enjoy coming here and reading the posts. Many times it makes my day.

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  16. Connie said on February 9, 2017 at 10:28 am

    All 4 of my grandparents were the children of immigrants who arrived in this country in the late 1800s. They grew up speaking Dutch at home. I once asked my dad how it was his mother was born in New Jersey. Answer: They got off the boat, stopped for a weeks to have the baby, then continued on to their west Michigan destination. That was in 1898.

    I’ve just sent in one of those spit swab ancestry things so we shall see.

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  17. Icarus said on February 9, 2017 at 10:43 am

    “What Jolene says is true: The immigrants struggle, their children learn, and their grandchildren don’t speak any of the old language. That’s the way it happens, over and over again.”

    I really wish I had learned (been taught) Polish but my family 1) was lazy and 2) bought into the if you’re here, you speak English as part of the assimilation process.

    My mother was actually born in a German work camp (never set foot in Poland) and they came here as soon as my grandmother had her 3 child. So I guess I’m technically first generation though really it feels more like 2nd generation.

    One of my Righty friends thought that English was the national language. When I pointed out that there is no law stating this, she said “there should”. ugh.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on February 9, 2017 at 10:48 am

    4dbirds, you always have friends here. Sending you a big virtual hug.

    My ancestors are much the same, great or great great grands immigrating and in two generations no one was speaking the language. Of course I did learn that one of those great greats came from Africa, and my spit analysis showed I carry 6.5% of his blood.
    But even his country of origin has been lost. A family member is working hard to rediscover it.

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  19. Charlotte said on February 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

    On my mother’s side (or more technically, my maternal great-grandfather’s side) the family goes straight back to William Bradford — “Grand” was a Ripley and the fanciest of the ancestors. He was however totally overshadowed by the Catholic Plamondons — Mary and Charles built a successful foundry and gear business in Chicago and went down on the Lusitania. My grandmother was raised to believe she was “French” — including a French nanny who only spoke the language with her — she only figured out in her 20s that the family living in the little house by the gates to our farm in Leland were her Irish Mackin cousins. Since the male Mackins tried to wrest the farm from my great-great grandmother Mary and her sister Kate (“Girls can’t inherit property!!!) we never knew that side of the family, but a friend here in Livingston and I have discovered that he’s one of them. Danny’s from Winnetka, and as I tell folks when they’re surprised — the wealthy Irish Catholics intermarried so much that if your family was Catholic and wealthy in Chicago at the turn of the last century, we’re probably cousins. Oh, and the fancy “French” — turns out “Plamondon” is a completely common French Canadian surname — that side immigrated through Milwaukee in the 1850s or so. My dad’s side of the family is Freeman Shoe Company from Beloit on his father’s side, and English/German on his mothers side — Craven from St. Louis. That grandmother and her 3 sisters had a musical act and performed on the Chatauqua circuit for decades — but her father was such a taskmaster that she gave up music entirely after graduating Northwestern.
    No immigrants on either side any later than about 1850 as far as I can tell — and that Ripley line all lived well into their late 80s and 90s before antibiotics. So I’m saving my money.

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  20. brian stouder said on February 9, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Let me just say – run (don’t walk!) back to Nancy’s link to the Bridge piece (Strikes & Spares).

    If President Trump read that, and if he didn’t dismiss it out of hand ……

    then ol’ Nance would get a major audit from the IRS, no doubt!

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  21. LAMary said on February 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I always liked the little floating heads above the Usual Suspects column in Spy. Little Abe Rosenthal was my favorite.

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  22. BigHank53 said on February 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I’ve got an odd background myself. On my mother’s side, the first ancestor set foot here in 1670. So I’m related to signers of the Declaration and the Constitution. My dad was naturalized in the fifties–he emigrated here after escaping from Nazi Germany and spending years in a Swiss refugee camp. He and his brothers learned late in the war that their names had been removed from list of males eligible for reserve militia positions, and they decided to take their chances on an illegal border crossing before their names appeared on a different list.

    The family history does not make me sympathetic to the GOP’s positions.

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  23. annie said on February 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    If you want to talk about immigrants who never bothered to learn the language of their new country, go to any American ex-pat community.

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  24. Scout said on February 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    “Vetted” at Ellis Island. That was a good one. That was my laugh for the day. God knows, nothing else is very funny. Betsey DeVos in charge of dismantling education. Ben Carson in charge of dismantling HUD. Tillerson at State, fer gawd’s sake. BO-regard Sessions as AG. It’s a cosmic joke. That isn’t funny.

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  25. Kirk said on February 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I was never sure about my ancestral breakdown; I know that there’s Scots-Irish, French, Welsh and some German mixed in there. But one-fourth of it is lost to history, as my paternal grandmother’s grandmother was, as an infant, rescued and adopted somewhere out West after being the sole survivor of an Indian raid.

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  26. Jolene said on February 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Hard to imagine what it must be like to be a lawyer in the Justice Department contemplating your future with Sessions as AG. Or being an environmental scientist at EPA with Dean Pruitt coming in to undo your work. Or having spent years working to develop, implement, and refine the ACA with Tom Price coming to take it apart. Awful, awful, awful.

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  27. Deborah said on February 9, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I’m out in Abiquiu so not sure this will work. My husband sent me an email just a bit ago, his take on Sean Spicer. He has been avoiding reading or watching anything about the current admin. I sent him a link to the SNL skit and he finally watched it. Here’s what he had to say:

    The SNL skit prompted me to watch a few clips of Spicer press conferences on YouTube.

    He puts me in mind of so many guys I have encountered over the years.

    Spicer is clearly a fierce, narrow, limited, aggressive and rude hotshot. However he is also highly intelligent and thinks extremely well on his feet. He has the Press Corps completely flummoxed. They have no idea what to do with him. The skit caught perfectly the wide-eyed deer-in-the-headlights stares and stumbling syntax of the Press. But the audience missed the humor in that.

    The Press does everything wrong. They ask questions only within Spicer’s narrative frame. They use his words, reinforcing them. But because they realize how narrow and limited and wrong he is, they challenge his narrative directly. Big mistake. Like Kellyanne Conjob he can talk his way out of anything within his narrative. He knows better than to go out of it. The Press doesn’t. They should be asking him totally different questions that have nothing to do with his topics. But they don’t and won’t.

    Spicer is a huge hero on the right for his ability to belittle the Press. He is a terrific marketer for his niche. He is doing a great job for them. Sad.

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  28. Jolene said on February 9, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    My mother’s family is a good example of how quickly language use can evolve. Her parents were second-generation Norwegians who spoke Norwegian to each other and to their older children at least some of the time. But she was the youngest in a family of eleven children, with the oldest 21 years older than she was, and English had taken over by the time she came along.

    By the time Mom was an adult, the only one of her siblings who’d retained her Norwegian was a sister who’d married another Norse speaker and used the language when they didn’t want their children to hear what they were saying.

    In our household, our only connection to the language was in the names of the things we baked for Christmas.

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  29. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Here’s something that puzzles me. I can understand the thinking behind the white evangelical trump supporters, or the so well-profiled West Virginian trump supporters. But then you get to the trump supporters who are baffling, like the farmers in the Central Valley of California. Not only do they depend on federal government programs right and left, they use almost exclusively immigrant labor, and a significant amount of undocumented labor. They depend on trade. So, when they hear a candidate make vague promises about cutting taxes and regulations, but specific promises about deporting immigrants and tearing up trade deals, why do they think he doesn’t really mean it about the immigration stuff, but will improve their lot with cutting regulation?

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  30. Jolene said on February 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Deborah, I disagree. I think Spicer’s briefings make him look ridiculous and, apparently, so does Donald Trump, though for different reasons. The job of the press secretary is not to make news through his own misstatements and errors, and he has done that practically every day.

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  31. Heather said on February 9, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Annie–so true. When I lived in Rome (I had learned beginner Italian and also took classes while there), I met an American dentist at an expat party who had lived there for over 20 years and had Italian kids–he still didn’t speak Italian. Neither did my roommate, who had been living there for several years.

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  32. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I just called my Senators to give them some love, Senator Murray for speaking out against Labor nominee Puzder, and Senator Cantwell for speaking out against HHS nominee Price. Gotta encourage them when they do the right thing!

    I also said I hoped they would stand up against trump’s nominee for the stolen Supreme Court seat.

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  33. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Come on, Dems, repeat after me: Republicans won’t tell you the truth about their health care plans because their health care plans will kill people!

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  34. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Not content with labeling the Dems as the party of the KKK, now Rep. Tom McClintock, perhaps unnerved by the (obviously paid outsider) protesters at his town hall, says Democrats are acting just like they did leading up to the Civil War.

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 9, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Spent much of the day giving an earthworks tour to a visiting Native American legal scholar who has his own opinions about immigrants. It’s been a running joke for his three day visit, because “if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane!”

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  36. brian stouder said on February 9, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Well, it’s hard to like George B McClellan – but he was what they called a “war Democrat”…and although he and the president didn’t mesh well (mainly because Mac was never really ‘ready to go’) – Mac DID prevail at Antietam (America’s single bloodiest day) well enough to enable President Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation…which is a pretty good day’s work.

    And by the by – Lincoln would never be a Republican in 2016. All this purposeful racial division and class-warfare by the Republican party is exactly and precisely NOT what Lincoln was all about

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  37. BItter Scribe said on February 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    My mother didn’t speak anything but Greek until she entered kindergarten. Her mother, the only one of my grandparents who didn’t die before I was born, was a lovely person, but never learned more than a few words of English.

    I used to get so jealous of my parents and other bilingual relatives. I made a few stabs at learning Greek as a kid, but it’s the devil’s language if you don’t grow up with it. (You have to decline nouns. Ugh.)

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  38. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Most of us know these things, but it never hurts to reinforce them. Barney Frank on how to influence your lawmakers:

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  39. Charlotte said on February 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Steve Daines is getting slammed inside Montana for shushing Elizabeth Warren yesterday:
    On top of this, he sent out a fundraising letter (which since we’ve all been calling and writing, went to many of us not inclined to give him $$) bragging about how he “stood up to one of the most prolific liberal senators” .. and how his courage on this matter has made him a “target” of liberal groups. So we’ve started a campaign to make contributions to Jon Tester and E. Warren in his name — so he’ll get the thank yous.

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  40. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I think a lot of people are being slow to catch on to the idea that a lot of women are pissed about the election and tired of white guys making the decisions and setting the rules. I’m seeing a lot of women who have never been active in politics or protest forming groups and learning how to make their voice heard even out here in an area that was not trump territory at all. I’ve been told that of the 13 people who applied to the open council seat, only one was a white male. I hear more women talking about running for office, and wanting to work for female candidates for office, than I’ve ever heard.

    I’ve read tweets and articles by male political reporters expressing surprise that Betsy DeVos engendered so much more protest than Sessions. If you understood that women are the driving force, not the far left, it makes more sense. Despite the huge turnout for the Womens’ marches, they don’t get it yet,

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  41. Jakash said on February 9, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    As a liberal white guy, I “get it,” Sherri, but having seen 53% of white women and similar or higher percentages of Christian white women vote AGAINST a woman and FOR one of the sleaziest and most unprepared of men, I’m not getting too excited about it, yet, lest I be disappointed again. This is not meant to be rude or obnoxious — your reference to “a lot of women who have never been active in politics” is encouraging — I just wish a tenth of all this enthusiasm had been better mobilized in November somehow. (Not that you and plenty of others weren’t trying, needless to say.)

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  42. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Oh, me too, Jakash, me too. I’m not counting anything yet, I’m just saying that the complacency that was there in November is gone. Even me; while I’ve been politically active for quite a while, my level of engagement has increased, I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I’m spending more nights away from home and more time on the phone.

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  43. beb said on February 9, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Just a reminder, sticking your head in an oven will not kill you! That only works in communities that use “coal gas” ie, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is a poison. US gas ovens use methane which is not a poison!

    Also cut along the tendons, not across them.

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  44. David C. said on February 9, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I’m not sure how many generations I would have to go back to find an ancestor who didn’t speak English as their native language. In the direct line of Cooks, it goes back to my 12 greats grandfather who married a woman who was born in Denmark and lived there until she was 15 and her family emigrated to the colonies. So my heritage is very much English speaking, yet I seem to care less than anyone I know what people speak. Some people seem to want to call a cop when they hear another language, I just listen and enjoy. I love to listen to the cadence and pitch changes that come along with it. Every language has a music all it own. I had a friend in school who’s great grandmother had been in the US since she was a teen and sixty or seventy years later spoke only very broken English. When her daughter, my friend’s grandmother died, his great grandmother was distraught because her daughter was the last one in the family who she could speak Italian with. I can’t think of anything much more lonely than not being able to converse in the language you dream in.

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  45. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    The Ninth Circuit denied the administration’s request for a stay of the TRO of the Muslim ban! Even better than I expected after listening to the hearing, the ruling was 3-0; I thought it might be 2-1, with GWB appointee Judge Clifton the dissenter. He pushed the hardest on the WA SG.

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  46. Judybusy said on February 9, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    David C., I have a very similar love of hearing languages.I get to hear Somali nearly every day, and it sounds like a brook running over rocks to me, which, to be clear is a positive soundscape in my world. Since a young age, I was also fascinated with learning languages. My small town school offered only German, which I didn’t want to take, because of the Nazi history. (Hey, I was 15!) But I took 4 years in high school and it gave me an even more solid grounding in grammar. I still love learning languages–I always learn a little bit–maybe 300-400 words whenever we go somewhere. I have to check this enthusiasm, because I do get puzzled why immigrants wouldn’t learn as much English as they can. I remind myself that it’s not tremendously fun for everyone to learn a language–and it doesn’t come so easily for everyone. I also get super annoyed when visiting foreign places, and the ex-pats haven’t learned more than a few phrases. In that situation, it seems that there is that sense of entitlement that people should just speak English.

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  47. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    When I encounter people who don’t speak English, I’m always frustrated that I don’t speak their language, not that they don’t speak English. I never learned to speak another language, only to read; Latin in high school, German in college. I found that when we went to Italy, i had forgotten one important aspect to learning a little bit of Italian; if I asked a question in Italian, the answer was going to be in Italian, and it’s much harder to understand than to speak! My high school Latin was helpful in reading signs and restaurant menus, though.

    (People in Italy was so nice. I sprinkled plenty of “prego” and “scusi” in my attempts to communicate, and everybody was so friendly and helpful.)

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  48. alex said on February 9, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    When my partner’s German relatives visited this summer I was amazed at how well we understood each other even though I don’t know any German and they don’t know much English. At the time they were telling me about being freaked out about Brexit and neo-Nazism and how the European press was talking about how Trump was part of the same phenomenon. I tried to reassure them that an asshat like Trump didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell…

    My mom-in-law says that of all of her kids my partner and I were the German relatives’ favorites. And we have a standing invitation to go visit and make Dortmund our home base for whatever train trips or road trips we’d like to take through Europe. I’m eager to do so in the next year or two, if we can coordinate our crazy schedules and take at least three weeks off together.

    Glad to see the Muslim ban got its just deserts in the appeals court. Now if we can get a unanimous Supreme Court decision, Trump’s head will explode and we’ll only have to worry about beating Mike Pence in four years.

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  49. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Rand Paul, man of principles, says that he had doubts about Sessions as AG, but because the Dems were mean to Sessions, he voted yes.

    If you override your principles because someone was mean, you didn’t have principles to begin with.

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  50. Charlotte said on February 9, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Years ago I was flying out of Milwaukee on a 6:30 am flight. I got to the TSA, which was pretty much empty, and the black guy agent was goofing and speaking to me in Spanish. Easy stuff — what’s your name? where are you going? and so I answered him — then he asked “durante?” and I was confused. In English, he said ‘how long have you spoken Spanish.” “But I don’t speak Spanish,” I said. “You just were,” he said. “Oh that,” I said. “That wasn’t Spanish — I just lived in California for a long time.”

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  51. Andrea said on February 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Today’s work: keep resisting our Trumpian Gov here in Il, known for hostage taking and alternative facts…

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  52. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    George Soros must be throwing around a lot of money, because the scenes I’m seeing from Republican Congress member’s town halls show over flow crowds and angry questions about health care being taken away. Meanwhile, Dave Reichert, the Republican in my neighboring district, is too afraid to even hold a town hall.

    I’ve donated money to Reichert’s opponents three times, and will do so again if he has a credible opponent in 2018. Part of his Congressional district is in my legislative district as well, so I may do some doorbelling as well. (My rep seems pretty safe.)

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  53. Linda said on February 9, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I am Polish clean through, but different branches of my family had different ideas about assimilation. My maternal great grandfather came as a teen, and shook off all the old country like a bad habit.

    OTOH, my father’s people were much slower to assimilate. Grandma was born in Detroit, and spoke English as a distant second language, with her fluency reserved for Polish, Poland being a land she never saw.

    However, mass media is assimilating people faster than they used to be. Now it’s hard to live in a neighborhood where hardly anybody speaks English, without the dominant culture breaking in somehow.

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  54. Sherri said on February 9, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    My question is, did he lie to the FBI?

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  55. CHarlotte said on February 10, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Indiana GOP apparently losing no time fixing Pence’s work:

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  56. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 1:25 am

    This is a fabulous evisceration of one of the more odious owners in sports, and that’s saying something.

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  57. Dexter said on February 10, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Spicer is quick with the retort, distorting questions and answers and now he is just MC of the Shit Show. He never seems to be stumped, he’ll always feed back the boss’s lies or create as he goes along. So far he doesn’t seem as fucking stupid as Dana Perino, who when in those shoes tried to deal with a reporter who was making analogies to The Cuban Missile Crisis. Perino had never heard of it! Her lame-ass excuse was she had not even been born yet. She was in the hot seat and the hot podium daily and obviously had never picked up a history book. I mean, the USA was forty minutes away from a multi-missile attack on at least Miami, fer crissakes. Never heard of it…let’s move on. Every day, another incredulous story. Nordstrom’s (the stock went up when they canned Ivanka Trump)…and today that serpent-faced Conway was shilling the merch, I think it was “Today”. Howard Dean said Trump has to stop this nonsense (taking the “so-called judges” to court). And even without a Bernie White House, free college in The City. Live one year + one day in San Francisco and the state is paying for your college at community colleges in Californa.

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  58. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Town hall events for Chaffetz and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) weren’t very friendly, despite being in trump country,

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  59. Connie said on February 10, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Had an unfriendly town hall at my library last week. Was a staff person, not the congressman. I never expected to see banners about health care out front.

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  60. Suzanne said on February 10, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Charlotte, I saw a similar story last night about the IN GOP working quickly to undo some of Pence’s idiocy. Makes me think even the state party understands what a doofus he is. It also makes me look at Holcomb in a kinder light, especially since he pardoned this guy who Pence wouldn’t for God know what reason. I go from wanting to apologize to the country for giving them the “gift” of Pence and wanting to shout “Good luck, suckers! We told you so!!”

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  61. Bob (Not Greene) said on February 10, 2017 at 9:31 am

    I ran across this story on Facebook, but thought folks here would enjoy it. I’m not up on Indiana politics, but I found it pretty revealing that apparently his own party couldn’t wait to see Mike Pence get the hell out of town.

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  62. Suzanne said on February 10, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Heck, Bob NG, I live in Indiana and follow IN politics and I am surprised how quickly the new administration is moving to wash the taste of Pence out of their collective mouths. It gives me hope.

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  63. brian stouder said on February 10, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Here’s the first thing I’ve read that I found (at least a little bit)…reassuring…

    In Trump’s inner circle, Kushner draws plaudits for smoothing feathers ruffled by his father-in-law’s more erratic moves — with some aides bemoaning that on Saturdays, when Kushner observes Shabbat and does not work or use electronic devices, the workings of the White House sometimes devolve.

    So “the adult in the room” is the son-in-law

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  64. Scout said on February 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Having Kushner as the “adult in the room” is a mixed bag. He shouldn’t be there because of conflict of interest, and yet, he honestly does seem the sanest of anyone else around the Tangerine Terror.

    So I heard Kellyanne Conartist was censured for her QVC moment. When is her boss going to be? He is the one who started the whole mess. As usual.

    Sherri @ 47 – We had the same experience in Italy. The people were extraordinarily nice to us and gave us props for even attempting our few phrases in Italian. Unlike the Parisians, who were patronizing and rude about our French. And I speak alot more French than I do Italian!

    I always thought my maternal grandfather’s family was German since that is where they emigrated from, but our family genealogist recently discovered they were northern Italians who first emigrated to Germany. And on my maternal grandmother’s side, I found out that her father was actually from Germany and not Ireland as we’d always been told! One of these days I’d like to do that spit test to find out the percentages. Just to know, cause it’s kind of fascinating. I’m sure they were all “vetted” back in the day, though.

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  65. susan said on February 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Scout @64 – One of these days I’d like to do that spit test to find out the percentages. Just to know, cause it’s kind of fascinating…

    I’d like to do that, too, sometime, hoping to discover our family consists of 28% Neandertal DNA. We’d be better able to survive long, cold, snowy winters and devise some new/old basic tools to do so.

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  66. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Puzder’ s hometown newspaper thinks he’s a terrible nominee for Labor Secretary.

    is brash, outspoken, misogynistic, combative and uninterested in quarantining himself from his financial interests. Like many of Trump’s nominees — Rick Perry at the Energy Department, Betsy DeVos at Education, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development — he is almost uniquely unqualified for the duties of the office to which he seeks confirmation.

    OTOH, he hits all the characteristics of a trump nominee.

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  67. LAMary said on February 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Kelly Ann Conway pitching Ivanka’s style should not be considered an endorsement. Remember what she wore to the inauguration parade? She looked like she worked at the corn dog place in the mall.

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  68. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I was thinking she was previewing the new bellhop uniform for Scion.

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  69. brian stouder said on February 10, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Well, I’ll settle for Rosie O’Donnell playing Steve Bannon on SNL (as is being reported)

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  70. Mouse said on February 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Great photo of Rosie as Bannon on CNBC moments ago.I think they said it was on her Facebook page.

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  71. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Idaho as preview:–and-failed/2017/02/09/80f8354a-dd00-11e6-918c-99ede3c8cafa_story.html

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  72. Judybusy said on February 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Scout, my wife and our niece had the very opposite experience in Paris last June. From restaurants to museums to shopping, we encountered no snobbiness or impatience. Just big city business. I even got to joke around (in French!) with the staff at the Cluny: I’d bought pastries and checked them in at the coatroom. The staff said “merci” in an exaggerated fashion and I told them to guard them with their lives! Laughs all around. I imagine you two are really sweet, so that’s weird. My brother and wife had a bad experience, but they’re kinda rude, and I wasn’t surprised.

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  73. Jolene said on February 10, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    The article Sherri posted @71 is terrific. An excellent view of the mélange of political and practical concerns that will make it nearly impossible for the GOP to come up with a healthcare plan that is actually better than the ACA. Some of them don’t want to do it at all, and most of them refuse to recognize that it can’t be done without spending money.

    Trump keeps making promises. Just today, in his press conference with the Japanese Prime Minister, he said that they are “a few strokes away” from a better, lower cost system, and many members of Congress are champing at the bit. But they are nowhere in terms of agreeing on an alternative.

    Meanwhile, the insurance companies have no idea how to plan for next year, and hospitals are terrified that they will once again be stuck with lots of uninsured patients.

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  74. Dorothy said on February 10, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    This has been a really rough week for me and frankly I completely forgot to even THINK about reading NN.C for the last several days. I read most of the comments from Tuesday’s entry but have read none of today’s. Maybe this weekend I’ll get caught up. But first let me chime in and say like a few of you, I used to have a dog (an Irish setter) who would try to run away from her own farts. She was endlessly entertaining but also dumber than a box of rocks.

    Re Muslims and this ‘ban’ and/or screening process: I am still astonished that so many, MANY people blame Muslims for terrorism. Doesn’t everyone know that the terrorists who claim to be Muslim, or follow Islam, are making up their own interpretation of that religion? They are twisting words and doing ugly, awful things to people in the name of Islam, but they are NOT good, faithful, religious people. They are pure evil. Syrian people (among others) trying to flee their beloved homeland are almost certainly not terrorists. But this is what the screening process is for. We have to trust that there are safeguards in place. You cannot and should not go around looking over your shoulder all the time thinking you’re about to be murdered by a terrorist. What kind of a life is that?!

    Finally, on Monday I think I chimed in with a comment about colonoscopies saving lives because of my husband’s history of colon cancer. Well a short time after I made that comment, we had to head to the ER. He had been having some serious bleeding/bowel problems all day and at 9:15 we headed to the ER. He was admitted, and had a colonoscopy on Tuesday late in the day. They found ulceration at the site of his cancer surgery in 2011. They took biopsies from the tissue around the area, but they feel fairly confident that it is NOT cancer. It’s likely a reaction to him recently taking ibuprofen/Naproxen for some shoulder pain he’d been having. He lost so much blood that he had to be transfused with two units of blood. IT was not fun to go through; he’s home, though, and feeling better, but he’s awfully tired. I’m just glad as hell that his happened before our vacation, which starts on the 18th.

    Oh and for the record, he’s been tooting a LOT since the scope on Tuesday! I don’t even care – I’m just glad to have him home and on the mend.

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  75. Jolene said on February 10, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Glad to hear that Mike is home and feeling better, Dorothy. Hope he continues to recover and is ready and rested in time for your vacation.

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  76. Scout said on February 10, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Judybusy – When we were by the main attractions – The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc – where there were mostly tourists we were treated well. It was when we got into some more off the beaten path neighborhoods that we were treated less than hospitably. In one place we asked for a glass of water in our school French, “je voudreais un verre de l’eau” and the guy pretended he had no idea what we were saying. But mostly they would just say, “I speak English” dismissively. We are definitely conscious of not being “ugly Americans” when we travel abroad. We want to experience their food, their culture, and we do so joyously. We were there in 2006, in the height of the Dubya years, so who knows if that was any part of it.

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  77. Judybusy said on February 10, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Dorothy, glad your hubs is OK! I loved your eloquent statement about Muslims.

    All right, off to jail to see a client, then home to walk the dog in balmy 40 degree weather! Tonight’s entertainment will be a performance of the opera Nightingale by talented youth working with the MN Opera.

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  78. brian stouder said on February 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Dorothy – you made me sigh (with relief!) by the end of your post.

    This ridiculous discussion of health care and insurance and the “free” market, and the role of government is well-encapsulated in Sherri’s linked article.

    How “free” is a market if your “choice” is – pay whatever the hell we TELL you to pay, or else die (see – prescription drug makers, et al)?

    That’s simply legalized extortion; a suit-and-tie protection racket.

    Government most certainly DOES have a legitimate role in the healthcare system, just as it does when it comes to drinking water/waste management/police/roads/food safety/schools…

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  79. LAMary said on February 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    What’s crazy is that the Veterans Administration CAN negotiate drug prices but no other government entity can. That was one of George W.Bush’s gifts to us.

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  80. Julie Robinson said on February 10, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Dorothy, here’s hoping for good biopsy reports. What a harrowing experience. Bleeding is scary enough, bleeding from an orifice must be terrifying. Have a rejuvenating weekend.

    We picked up the hubby last night and the cat sized dog was fogging up the whole car with her SBDso. Pound for pound, she wins the stinky contest.

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  81. Suzanne said on February 10, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Did anyone listen to the press conference with Trump & Shinzo Abe today? It was bizarre. Trump welcomed Abe to the very famous White House and then said “I grabbed him and hugged him because that’s the way I feel” and then went on with his usual blather. It was strange…

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  82. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I’m glad your hubby is okay, Dorothy! That reminds me of something I’ve wondered about for some time: why isn’t diclofenic gel available OTC? It’s an NSAID gel, allows you to apply the medicine directly to the site, is effective at a lower dosage than oral NSAIDS, and avoids a lot of the gastrointestinal problems. It’s sold OTC in a lot of places, but I’m not sure why topical NSAIDs are kept prescription only here.

    On the free market approach: the whole “if they don’t have health insurance, they can just go to the ER” thing is so stupid, if you just take more than 5 seconds to think. What do most people go to the doctor for the most often? Chronic conditions that need to be managed, like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. What’s the worst, costliest, most inefficient and ineffective place to manage chronic conditions? The ER. Anybody who says people can just go to the ER isn’t trying to solve the health care problem, they’re trying to avoid responsibility for it.

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  83. David C. said on February 10, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    It’s hard to believe any sports team owner could be worse than Dan Snyder. Maybe, Loria is a bigger thief and Snyder is a bigger asshole and they are 1a and 1b on the chart.

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  84. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Snyder is, without question, a huge asshole. But despite his best efforts, he hasn’t actually managed to destroy the Washington football team. Loria destroyed one team (Montreal Expos), and every time his second team (bought with the help of MLB) has had any success, he has sold off all the parts like a private equity guy and then complained that the reason no one comes to watch his shitty product is because he needs a new stadium. Eventually, Miami built him a ridiculously expensive taxpayer funded exceedingly tacky stadium:

    Of course, most sports teams owners should be tied for first. Many of them are leeches, cheapskates, and/or crooks, as well as being assholes and bigots.

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  85. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Yep, they’re neo-Nazis.

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  86. Sherri said on February 10, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    We all know trump is a petty cruel man who can’t handle women standing up to him, so it’s no surprise that he thought it was an insult to tell a group of Democratic Senators that Pocahontas was the face of their party. Unfortunately, that ICE raids are happening isn’t a surprise either, or that like with the CPB and the Muslim ban, the petty cruelness of the man at the top trickles down to the officers carrying out the raids.

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  87. Rana said on February 10, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    That whole visit with Abe has been an enormous, shameful CF. There was the handshake that went on too long (poor Abe’s expression at the end was priceless), the abandonment of Mrs. Abe to her own devices since neither Melania nor Ivanka could be bothered to act as hostess, the failure of Trump to wear his translating earpiece during their joint press conference… and those are just the smaller things. All around, it’s just been embarrassing to witness.

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  88. basset said on February 11, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I know, Onion links are too obvious, but this is a good one:

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  89. beb said on February 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

    It is no surprise that Republicans can’t come up with a better replacement for Obamacare. It was crafted by our wonkiest president even. If there had been a better idea he would have thought of it. As it stands the only way to make Obamacare better would be Medicaid for everyone or universal health care such as every other industrialized nation has. (Well, allowing Medicaid to negotiate with drug companies on prices would be an improvement. (I read this morning that another drug’s price has been increased astronomically. I think it’s time to make the drug industry a regulated monopoly where a commission sets prices for drugs while guaranteeing a fair return on their investments. It’s worked well for public utilities. Let’s give it a shot for something equally vital to life.

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  90. Deborah said on February 11, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Actually the gist of Obamacare came from Romneycare in Massachusetts. And that was based on something the Heritage Foundation came up with. At least I think it was the HF, it was a conservative think tank. So it is weird that Republicans became so opposed to it.

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  91. David C. said on February 11, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    You’re right Deborah, it came from Heritage. It’s not weird at all that the Rs opposed it. The day of Obama’s first inauguration, their leading low-lifes got together and decided they’d oppose everything Obama tried to do. They would go to the point of when Obama decided to try it their way McCain’s immigration bill , McCain voted against his own bill. They hated him enough they made Obamacare an epithet. Now people realise health insurance is better than before, and it’s called Obamacare. They have to kill it lest the Kenyan Muslim Usurper be credited with it. It’s slowly dawning on them though that Obama has them in a vise. They kill it, and millions of red state voters get pissed when they lose their insurance. If they keep it with some modifications, the “I got mine” suburbanites get pissed. Pop plenty of popcorn because the civil war they’re going to have within their own party will be interesting.

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  92. Sherri said on February 11, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    This is excellent news. The concern over historical erasure is just bunk. Women and people of color are erased from history as a matter of course.

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  93. Deborah said on February 11, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    The NYTimes on Bowe Bergdahl. I have to admit I have a soft spot for this kid

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  94. Sherri said on February 12, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Some Tennessee lawmakers are so mad about same sex marriage they think my daughter should be illegitimate.

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  95. alex said on February 12, 2017 at 1:24 am

    SNL crucifies Spicer again, along with Kate MacKinnon as Jeff Sessions and Elizabeth Warren. Google it. Diddle it.

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  96. Sherri said on February 12, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Meryl Streep was speaking tonight:

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  97. David C. said on February 12, 2017 at 5:56 am

    It took unimaginable restraint for them not to label children conceived with artificial insemination bastards.

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  98. Deborah said on February 12, 2017 at 9:46 am

    The SNL Spicer skit was good but not as funny as last week. The surprise factor last week was the best. The ending was the best part of the skit this week, I won’t spoil the ending here for those who haven’t watched it yet.

    Will somebody explain to me the statistic that 53% of white women voted for the corrupt president? Does that mean that 53% of his vote was by white women? Or that of all white women voting he got 53% of them? Or something else?

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  99. Suzanne said on February 12, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Deborah, i think it’s that of all white women who voted, 53% of them voted for Trump, or that is the way I understood it.
    Any of you that have access to the Ft Wayne Journal Gazette, look at the letters to the editor today. There is one by a Suzanne Anglin that I can’t figure out if it is satire or if this woman is serious. She talks about what a great sacrifice Trump has made to give up all his money to serve as president for the betterment of the country. I am having a hard time believing any sane person would write this.

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  100. Sherri said on February 12, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I don’t usually pay any attention to the adolescent writings of political figures. But when they don’t appear to have changed their views since they were sixteen, and they’re the right hand man to Shadow President Bannon, and the White House sends them out to lie all over TV, then I will make an exception.

    But I’m sure if liberal coastal elites would just stop looking down on, well, conservative coastal elites, we’d all get along and trump wouldn’t be president.

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  101. Suzi said on February 13, 2017 at 1:36 am

    Judybusy – just confirming that I have this right. It’s understandable when an immigrant to the U.S. doesn’t learn English because 1) it may not be ‘fun’ for them (having fun apparently being the primary consideration when determining one’s responsibility to a host country) and 2) it can be difficult for them to learn a new language. Wow. You are aware that there is a name for people who assign an inferior intellectual capability to a group of people based on their ethnicity or national origin, right? Also, TIL, that when encountering the exact same circumstance for English speakers in a foreign country, it is reasonable to be ‘super annoyed’ at their ‘entitlement’. Got it. Thanks for the enlightenment.

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