A loud chorus.

Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities to teach writing, from classroom visits to fourth-graders to adjunct gigs at the local U. I’ve “taught,” so to speak, everything from fiction to journalism, with most falling in the personal-essay category, thanks to my long stint as a columnist. And if I had to boil down the best single bumper-sticker piece of advice I have, it’s this: Tell the truth. If you’re writing in your journal, tell the truth about your day and feelings about it. If you’re writing journalism, don’t make shit up. Fiction uses make-believe to tell truths that readers recognize. If you make the 17 syllables of a haiku paint a particular picture, make sure every brushstroke is correct.

Journalists are big believers in facts, but facts do not always add up to truth, and it’s this that’s been bothering me in recent years. It’s a fact that propagandists have set up vast informational networks that look like journalism, but aren’t. Consumers are too busy, distracted, ignorant or angry to insist on anything better. I don’t think it’s any mystery why I started watching MSNBC during the worst of the Iraq war; as I said of Twitter recently, I needed something that validated the angry voices in my head, and Keith Olbermann filled the bill. (For a while, anyway. Now he just chaps my ass.) Imagine being old and confused and fearful of death, and you can understand the appeal of Fox News pretty clearly.

Add to that the both-sides thing, in which it reporting on Something Bad being done by one politician must be matched by Something Bad done by someone on the other side. So you end up with Donald Trump’s buffet table of outrages contrasted with a private email server, or Uranium One.

Hey, at least we got some memes out of it. But her emails!

I was thinking about how traditional reporters can work better, smarter, without becoming beholden to one side. Because even though “both sides do it” is trite crap, both sides – all sides – definitely do stupid and newsworthy things that have to be reported on. It’s just that one side is doing so much more of it at the moment. But the pendulum will swing, as it always does.

These thoughts were pinging around my head when I heard this story explained on the NYT morning podcast.

On Sunday afternoon, when Elmer T. Williams’s wife told him that a mass shooting had taken place at a church in Texas, he leapt into action. First, he skimmed a handful of news stories about the massacre. Then, when he felt sufficiently informed, he went into his home video studio, put on his trademark aviator sunglasses, and hit record.

Roughly an hour later, Mr. Williams, 51, a popular right-wing YouTube personality who calls himself “The Doctor of Common Sense,” had filmed, edited and uploaded a three-minute monologue about the Sutherland Springs church shooting to his YouTube page, which had roughly 90,000 subscribers. Authorities had not yet named a suspect, but that didn’t deter Mr. Williams, who is black, from speculating that the gunman was probably “either a Muslim or black.”

… YouTube has long been a haven for slapdash political punditry, but in recent months, a certain type of hyper-prolific conspiracist has emerged as a dominant force. By reacting quickly and voluminously to breaking news, these rapid-response pundits — the YouTube equivalent of talk radio shock jocks — have successfully climbed the site’s search results, and exposed legions of viewers to their far-fetched theories.

It so happens I follow a disgraced former state rep on Facebook, a guy who started out far to the right and since his downfall, has drifted deep into these weeds. And I see this sort of thing on his page all the time. I don’t know if he’s weighed in on the Texas shooting, because he may still be hashing over the Las Vegas shooting. Did you know there was a second shooter? You don’t? You need to stop listening to the lamestream media, then, and here, allow me to show you a bit of video the authorities don’t want you to see.

He has lots of company. I followed a bunch of them back when I was trying to understand them better, and man — there’s a lot of them. And one thing these YouTube people are doing is blanking out the voices of the sane and the professional. You might think, big deal, they’re nuts. And they are, no doubt, or close to it. But their work is surprisingly effective at spreading misinformation at a critical time, in both how the event is processed in real time and in this moment in history. I promise you, you know someone who believes this shit:

His hit productions have included fact-challenged videos like “Barack and Michelle Obama Both Come Out The Closet,” which garnered 1.6 million views, and “Hillary Clinton Is On Crack Cocaine,” which had 665,000. He was admitted to YouTube’s partner program, which allows popular posters to earn money by displaying ads on certain types of videos, and claims to have made as much as $10,000 a month from his channel.

“I like to call myself a reporter who reports the news for the common person,” Mr. Williams said.

Real reporters don’t respond to this, for the same reason you don’t invite the crazy people who send you letters and leave 3 a.m. voicemails on your office phone to lunch. Maybe they should.

Oh, well. Related: How American politics went batshit crazy, an instructive timeline.

And finally, in case you wanted to be made even angrier today, let’s check in with Omarosa, shall we? A great read.

And I live in Wayne County. My previous permanent or semi-permanent addresses were in Franklin, Athens and Allen counties. BOR-ring.

Posted at 12:14 pm in Current events, Media |

105 responses to “A loud chorus.”

  1. adrianne said on November 15, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks, Nance, for this post. Sometimes the bat-shit crazy people are really just bat-shit crazy. But one of my former colleagues had a rule of thumb for the nuts who called the newsroom: Give everyone at least 5 minutes of your time. Most of the time, it’s for naught, but once in a while it’s not.

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  2. Jakash said on November 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm


    Referring back to the county discussion on the previous thread, Neil Steinberg wrote a blog post about coincidences on Sunday. Here’s mine. A week ago this morning, we awakened in Pinellas Park, in your county, which I’d never heard of until the night before that. We were rambling around the central Fla. area for a few days, sans reservations, as I mistakenly assumed that it would be a random time of year and acquiring rooms would be easy. Uh, that wasn’t the case, and most of the AAA-approved places over on your peninsula, or whatever it is, were booked or too expensive, sending us to the middle, rather than the more scenic edges… So, while we didn’t have a gulf view, we did get a free breakfast and a swell overlook of a swimming pool sales place and a Wendy’s! ; )

    Somehow, I’ve gotten to this point while only having heard Omarosa’s name a few times, usually in a context that encourages me to steer clear. I’ve no idea who they are, or *why* I hear their name, and with all due respect, will maintain that ignorance as long as I can!

    What’s to be done about the fact that the New York Times, Washington Post and ole Rumpy’s Twitter feed are considered equally valid sources of information seems to be the most pressing issue facing the republic these days. (Oh, I realize that for many they’re not *equally* valid — Dolt 45’s tweets are gospel and the others only peddle fake news…)

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  3. coozledad said on November 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Holy fucking shit:

    The Roy Moore affair is the lancet that’s opened a window into the shitheap of the Republican soul. Talk to these people? Fuck that. Herd them into confinement and find things they can do, like donate blood or shred old automobile tires with their teeth.

    But Do.Not.Engage.

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  4. Icarus said on November 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I followed a bunch of them back when I was trying to understand them better

    This is why I use to follow Matt Walsh and Right Wing Barbie (Tomi Lahren). I’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t necessarily believe all the vile they are spewing; they have simply figured out how to grow and cultivate a large audience.

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  5. Deborah said on November 15, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Ah, a new post is up while I was still perusing the comments on the last one.

    I see that Hannity is maybe now backing down on his support for Moore, or at least that’s what I read early this morning, may have changed by now. I don’t know if his mind has been changed by advertisers leaving or because Moore’s story is obviously indefensible. Hard to believe we’re in the 21st century and there are still unbelievably backwards events still being propagated.

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  6. Icarus said on November 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Julie Robinson from previous thread…

    I recently put to bed something from my Grandma’s estate (weird calling it that) that my family has been dealing, or actually not dealing with, for 17 years.

    I’ll spare the boring details but the point is the process for claiming the money is designed with the nuclear family in mind. Grandparent had one spouse, maybe two children and they are all together in one unified fashion. If grandma never actually divorced spouse #1 and had a child with said ex, who is estranged from his half siblings, it gets a little murkier and the generic forms they send you just don’t cover this.

    I’m being sarcastically theatrical here; in our case it was more of laziness, lack of bandwidth, and the usual sibling rivalry.

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  7. Dexter said on November 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle Show, msnbc…11 o’clock hour…today. Have a look, amazing! http://www.msnbc.com/velshi-ruhle/watch/moore-s-atty-brings-up-velshi-s-background-in-client-s-defense-1096542787762

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  8. Jenine said on November 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    I learned my favorite county name when I was at college in San Antonio, TX. I heard references all the time to Bear County. And then in print I would see Bexar County. Of course the one with the X is the correct spelling and the Texan pronunciation is Bear/Bare.

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  9. Connie said on November 15, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    OK, mine are pretty basic, Washtenaw, Douglas (CO), Ottawa, Ingham, Washtenaw, Franklin, Ottawa, Jackson, Olmsted, Elkhart, Oakland. If I lived there at two different times do I get to count them twice?

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  10. Snarkworth said on November 15, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Adrianne, I take my hat off to your patient former colleague. When listening to an addled conspiracy theorist, five minutes would seem like five years.

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  11. Dave said on November 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Jakash, the snowbirds are arriving daily and I suspect that had something to do with your lodging woes. Plus, the big chains and upper end hotels have pushed out almost all of the old hotels on Clearwater Beach, making it increasingly upscale for folks who actually want to stay on the beach.

    We’ve been coming here for nearly forty years, my brother-in-law moved here in 1976, I think, and my parents-in-laws in 1978. We’ve seen many orange and grapefruit groves disappear, as well as what was once a large cattle ranch. Actually, the home we now own is my in-law’s old home. We had little reason to remain in Indiana when none of our children were living there. Now, in a twist, our daughter and her family are living back in Indiana, in the northern extended Indianapolis suburbs.

    The other counties I’ve lived in would be Franklin, Athens, and Sandusky.

    I saw somewhere online that the Breitbart folks that rushed to Alabama aren’t coming up with the contrasting dirt they thought they would find, making Bannon’s support questionable. However, you can count on plenty of other lowlife folks to continue to support him including this clown, a spiritual advisor to one Josh Mandel, a Ohio politician of despicable character.

    Oh, my favorite county name is Scioto, where my parents grew up, I’ve always liked the way it sounds but when it makes the news, it’s usually mispronounced. It’s Sigh-O-ta but I’ve heard it pronounced See-Ott-O.

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  12. A. Riley said on November 15, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Cass, Delaware, and Cook.

    Harking back to the cleaning out of parental, etc., homes: My sainted mom was a packrat. Not a full-bore hoarder, but she’d lived in that little house for almost forty years and she’d always had something more interesting to do than sort through drawers and closets and get rid of stuff. When she died, it took *forever* to get her house cleared out and ready to sell.

    This left an impression, so when I saw the concept of Swedish Death Cleaning get traction on FB a few weeks ago, I thought, yep, once we get to a certain stage of life, we should include that in our regular activities. It’ll be a kindness to our younger relatives. (Google it.)

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  13. Suzanne said on November 15, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    I’m not sure what I hope for with Moore. If he drops out or stays in and get trounced, there will be so many people on his side whining about the MAIN STREAM MEDIA and how they took over people’s minds and turned them away from this fine Christian man and then they will double down on their firm belief that the media and the liberals that blindly follow them are hell bent on shutting down all of Christianity and turning us into athiestic zombies.
    If he wins, well, then he’s in the Senate and it doesn’t appear most of the GOP leadership will do much about that as long as he votes for tax cuts and repealing any healthcare plan associated with Obama and he’ll try to do his best to make this country the Kingdom of God on this Earth, like it was back in the day when women and blacks knew their places.

    That’s what I call being caught between a rock and a hard place.

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  14. nancy said on November 15, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I generally take Cooze’s comments with a grain of salt, but man! The Moore lawyer is a real piece of work. There’s the comments he made, and then the fact the guy looks like some sort of cartoon about southerners. Him, and the political journalist all over the news yesterday, calling it a nothingburger.

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  15. Deborah said on November 15, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    The thing the lawyer said about Ali Velshi was unbelievable and then a few days back he said to Don Lemon on air “Don Lemon squeezy nice-n-easy”. I was flabbergasted. The guy is a moron besides being a racist of the worst sort.

    I was reading a blog post on Gin and Tacos a couple of days ago where Ed was describing his childhood and teen years where it was customary to hear people use the N word in his household and all around his town. I have to say that was not something I heard in my household growing up. Not that my parents weren’t racists, I remember them saying things that were definitely not politically correct in that regard, but never the N word. My dad had pretty colorful language too, he’d been in the Navy was always his excuse. Surprisingly I don’t ever remember him using the N word. My husband grew up in a small midwestern town and he said it was just second nature for people to use it, no one thought a thing of it back then, he says. Was it customary in your families and with your friends and acquaintances?

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  16. Deborah said on November 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Oh my God https://mobile.twitter.com/Olivianuzzi/status/930873229325021188 read the comments too. My bare hands never touch the singles.

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  17. nancy said on November 15, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    My parents never used that language, and would have killed me if I had. That’s not to say there wasn’t racism embedded in the fabric — we lived in an all-white neighborhood — but it certainly wasn’t overt in our house.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on November 15, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Deborah, my churchgoing Iowa farmer grandma was watching a beauty contest and said they better not give it to that n word. What a shocker that was to me! I must have been in my early teens at the time and had never even heard her swear before.

    icarus, that does NOT sound fun. This is a mess, but no one is fighting anyone about anything. We have pretty much figured out that she didn’t file taxes for the last year or two, and maybe longer. Yippee.

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  19. Suzanne said on November 15, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Was it customary in my family for people to use the n-word? Oh, my yes. Heard it all the time. Dad, uncles, my grandfather always used it.
    I know my dad still uses it sometimes as does my father and mother-in-law (although she is more likely to say “darky” and can’t understand why we say she shouldn’t.

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  20. Scout said on November 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    My parents were almost self consciously non-racist when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, so no, the ‘n’ word never was said in our home. However, everyone in our family used to chuckle at the story of the time my 6 year old, freckled and red headed cousin who grew up in South Carolina, said in her sweet, innocent southern drawl, “But Mama, I don’t want to be a Brownie. I want to be a white girl.” Luckily nobody who is still alive thinks this is funny any more.

    So the letter of support for Moore from the 53 evangelical pastors turns out to have been written before the revelation that he is a skeevy perv, but Moore and his wife tweaked it to make it seem that it came afterwards. A bunch of them are disclaiming it, but not all. Christians of this flavor have always loved bellowing about how persecuted they are. It seems they have finally managed to manifest it in reality.

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  21. Sherri said on November 15, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Montgomery, Allegheny, Santa Clara, King.

    I never heard my parents use the n-word directed at a person, but there were contexts in which they used it. There was a candy my father liked, a mound of cream with chocolate on the outside, that he called n-toes, for example. I certainly heard other family members use it. My grandmother said “nigra”.

    The South is a whole ‘nother country, y’all.

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  22. David C. said on November 15, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I do so want to bring back the gatekeepers. My sister-in-law’s husband if a WTC conspiracy nut. Any time a building anywhere in the world is imploded, I can count on seeing a side-by-side from YouTube of that and one of the towers coming down. See, see they’re both falling at the same speed. I gave up long ago explaining that gravity is a constant, I just delete it and feel sorry that my SIL has to listen to him all the time. Maybe there were conspiracy theories when Walter, David, Chet, and the hapless cipher at ABC ruled the airwaves, but they were spread by mimeograph so at least you could tell yourself they smelled too much fluid and weren’t going to have too much of an effect anyway. There’s no floor anymore for too crazy.

    Kent, Allegan, Outagamie, and Winnebago counties for me.

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  23. Jakash said on November 15, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    My father was a swell guy, but being born around 1910, he had a rather mildly evolved appreciation of what was appropriate. Case in point: I never heard him use the N-word to refer to a person, but he thought he was being PC by referring to certain men down at the factory as “colored boys.” In the 60s and 70s.

    Sherri, please! “a mound of cream with chocolate on the outside, that he called n-toes” That’s not a N-toe; a Brazil nut is a N-toe. I thought everybody knew that. ; ) My father had less of a compunction about using that term, alas.

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  24. Suzanne said on November 15, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    LOL! I was a near adult before I knew the real name of Brazil nuts!

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  25. nancy said on November 15, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Yes, it’s Brazil nuts. One of the “regional” papers in Indiana ran a column by some old lady, and her remember-when piece about Christmas back in the day made prominent mention of finding them in her stocking. And they didn’t dash out the word.

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  26. Sherri said on November 15, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Brazil nuts were far too exotic for our family.

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  27. basset said on November 15, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Hmmm, gotta think about this one for a minute. Martin, Monroe, Wexford, Monroe again, Vigo, Hinds, Sedgwick, Davidson. Not that many, really.

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  28. alex said on November 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Allen Monroe Cook Allen. Never anyplace that sounds fun like Outagamie.

    My parents never used the N-word and and absolutely forbade it in our household, even though they were quite a bit more lax about casual profanity. It was completely the opposite in the homes of some of my peers who would’ve gotten the shit kicked out of them for saying “shit” but an attaboy for talking smack about black.

    Just ordered a Lull mattress as a surprise birthday present for my partner. Has anyone had any experience with these things? For the price, I figure it has to be better than the wretched old mattress he’s been sleeping on that should have been replaced ages ago.

    A friend who got a mail-order mattress in a box told me to be careful. He said opening the box was reminiscent of the self-inflatable raft episode of “I Love Lucy.”

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  29. Sherri said on November 15, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Profanity was absolutely not tolerated in our Southern Baptist family.

    These are the candy I was referring to: https://www.candyattic.com/Chocolate-Covered-Creme-Drops-p/chcrm.htm

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  30. Heather said on November 15, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    I definitely knew the n-word was bad. Once my great-aunt was reciting the old “catch the tiger by the tail” rhyme as she used to sing it when she was a girl–apparently the kids then did not say “tiger.” My mother quickly shut that down. My dad did use it once in front of me when he was drunk and angry about a car accident, and with a sort of qualifier, like “I’m sorry, but this group of n—-s,” ugh. In vino veritas.

    My mom used to say “colored” too when I was growing up, and sometimes in a whisper. Finally I said, “Mom, just say ‘black.'”

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  31. Deborah said on November 15, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    My parents said negro, never black and certainly not African American.

    We took Sunday afternoon drives in my youth and my mother was kind of obsessed with driving through black neighborhoods, my father was very uncomfortable with it and it was just a tension point in our family.

    I remember visiting my ex’s grandparents in Wisconsin while we were still in college, this was maybe 1971, they were incensed by Ed Sullivan, how dare he put his arm around Sammy Davis Junior in a much earlier TV show. My ex told his grandparents that was clearly inappropriate to say or think, they just got very quiet after that and it was an extremely awkward visit after that.

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  32. Jolene said on November 15, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Sherri, we liked those candies in my family, too, but we just called them chocolate drops. I did, though, hear the n-word used to refer to Brazil nuts and in that “catch the tiger” rhyme. I don’t think I ever thought of actual human beings in either context.

    There were no black people inour community, so there was little practical need to refer to them at all. As a matter of principle, we were taught that everybody was the same and should be treated equally, but there was many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

    That premise, for instance, didn’t seem to apply to Hispanic farm workers. Mechanization has eliminated the need for such workers, so my brother, who still operates the farm, has not had to face the contrast between what was done and what was said.

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  33. Dexter said on November 16, 2017 at 12:17 am

    The WWI vet I made friends with in 1979 when he was 87 had an amazing life-journey and a brilliant mind. One thing he liked to do was tell stories of the old days just after the war, in the 1920s. People socialized in homes and coffee shoppes and played all sorts of mind-games to pass leisure time. Lots of games were memory tests. Through all these challenges, my friend Bert had memorized the names and locations of every county in the USA. When some guy, during a challenge, matched him, Bert memorized every county seat and the location, so he could stick a pin in a blank outline map and nail it. He also taught me about moderation…he smoked Camels, but in light moderation, a couple a day, and he drank bourbon, vodka, and lager beer, but very controlled and sparsely, and I took his example and advice and burned it in the trash barrel. Bert Wolfe, 1892–1981 Most impressive man I ever knew. My spiritual grandfather.

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  34. Dexter said on November 16, 2017 at 12:33 am

    My contribution to the race issue: I grew up in a rural area about 40 minutes north of Ft. Wayne. The only Blacks I ever saw were in the old grand wonderful G.C. Murphy store downtown Ft. Wayne. Up until age 18, I knew no African-Americans, but when I joined a baseball team , HQ’d in Winston-Salem, NC, I quickly learned the ways of the wicked world. I checked into the now-long-demolished Zinzendorf Hotel on a fine May day, and was told I had to wait until another ballplayer checked in so the bell boy could show both of us the room. I waited a short while and a ballplayer checked in, and came and sat down in the lobby. I made small talk, finding he was J.D. Stevenson, from Lafayette, Louisiana. We instantly hit it off, and decided we’d be great roommates. The old hotel clerk had his perpetual Doral cigarette dangling, looked over his glasses, and told us “we never allow coloreds & whites together in the same room.” Wake up call for Dexter, J.D. wasn’t shaken, just accepting. I remember being mad as hell, but I was not going to win that one. I ended up with a guy named Tex, never did find out where he was from (that’s a Forrest Gump joke, ha ha.) Tex was a prick and I hated him, a real suck ass to the owner.

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  35. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 4:59 am

    Good story Dexter.

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  36. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 16, 2017 at 6:30 am

    I’ve never in my church life heard anyone say the n-word, but I worry sometimes I will not live long enough to go a year without hearing “colored.” This congregation here has come a very long way, but I get frustrated at finding ways to communicate to them how much farther they have to go on understanding racism, starting with the fact that everyone over 60 here (and that’s well over half, to be sure) seems to still say “colored.” With my objections invariably being met with “well, they still have the NAACP, right?”

    But we’ve confronted and started to talk honestly about our Klan period in the 1920s, which is more than any other church in this state has that goes back to that decade. It’s all a journey, I know, but too much scrambling up a slope of loose sharp rock that slips in a tumble back down the mountain, again and again.

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  37. alex said on November 16, 2017 at 6:54 am

    To my ear, as a child, I heard it as “kellerd.” This was from a neighboring family whose mother hailed from Indianapolis, where there’s a distinctly different twang. She once chastised me for blasphemy (“blayass-FEE-me”) after I taught her kids the “Glory, glory Hallelujah, teacher hit me with a ruler” song. I credit her, and also a male fifth-grade teacher who was a classic horse’s ass, with bringing me to the realization that not all adults were created equal intellectually.

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  38. Suzanne said on November 16, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Wow, I had not thought of the Glory, glory, Hallelujah song in years! And, wow, in light of the past few years, the rest of the song is chilling. Amazing what a naive time my childhood was. Equally amazing how many people want desperately to return to that.
    If you think that’s not reality, those of you who have access to the Ft Wayne Journal Gazette, check out the letter to the editor today from a James Voeltz. (Who I believe is a prof at the Lutheran Seminary in town). The mind twisting intersection of White Christmas & Donald Trump.

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  39. Suzanne said on November 16, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Text of letter to the editor I referenced above:

    “If you want to know why so many people voted for Donald Trump, just go to see the Civic Theatre’s production of “White Christmas.” It’s bright, beautiful, optimistic and “normal,” not dark, violent, pessimistic and twisted. We want a world characterized by the former categories, not the latter.”
    James W. Voelz
    Fort Wayne

    Someone who sees Trump as ‘bright, beautiful, optimistic and “normal,”’ well, I’m not sure where to go with that.

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  40. alex said on November 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

    OMG, Suzanne. I would have expected a Missouri Synod seminary prof to excoriate such a show for that sin of all sins — dancing — and for casting such obvious homosexuals in the leading roles.

    Wonder what happy pills he’s on.

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  41. Peter said on November 16, 2017 at 9:10 am

    The n word was never said at our house, except out of context – I too didn’t know they were called Brazil nuts until much later in life. My dad said that towards the end of the war the coffee was so bad they called it n-sweat.

    The only time I heard my mom say it was when I was a small tyke naming countries off of a globe – she said I pronounced a couple of them wrong – she thought the correct pronunciation of Niger and Nigeria was….

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  42. Julie Robinson said on November 16, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Dexter, I loved both of your recollections. You’ve really seen a lot.

    We went to White Christmas and loved it because it was a total fluffy escape from the MAGAland we’re living in right now. It helped me understand why people in the Depression and WWII flocked to escapist movies.

    I’m wondering if Herr Professor attended the last Civic show, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. It’s a very dark show and they took it even darker through the costuming, lighting, and fairly explicit (for the Civic) intimate scenes. I left that one a bit shaken, which is the point of the piece, I think. No doubt he would have blown his top.

    BTW I grew up Missouri and there are no prohibitions of dance. Or beer. They LOVE their beer.

    And we called those candies vanilla cremes.

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  43. AndreaJ said on November 16, 2017 at 10:09 am

    My random thoughts:
    I’m a little bit younger than most of the group here (45) and I had to google the slang term for Brazil nuts – I’ve never heard of that before! And for the record, I never heard the n word growing up in my house, either. Every day, I’m a little bit more thankful of how I grew up and wish more people had the same experience. We lived in a suburb of Baltimore and I went to a large high school in the late 80s that was about 50/50 black/white. About 50% of the white kids were Jewish, so it was a very diverse school without trying to be and I honestly can’t recall any tensions, problems, issues, etc (although I’m sure there were some). I never even gave it much thought until I went away to a small college in PA that was about the same size as my high school and about 95% white. I met kids who pretty much had never even spoken to a person of a different color, let alone had one in their high school. Up until then, I thought everyone had gone to a high school like mine. It was an eye-opening experience, as college should be.

    @ a riley @#12 – We just finished cleaning out my dad’s house so he could retire to Florida and it was about a two-year process start to finish because both of my parents were “savers” who lived in this house for 20 years and my childhood home for 20 years before that. We found boxes from the first move that had never been unpacked. I’ve continued the cleaning and discarding frenzy to my own house because I don’t want my daughters to have to deal with the same thing in the future.

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  44. Connie said on November 16, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Just got the all clear for my two basal cell carcinoma spots and am about to get stitched up.

    Blacks were coloreds when I was growing up in my little Dutchy small mostly white.town. When visiting Grandma in Grand Rapids we saw lots of them. Yes to n…toe nuts, and a joke with a punch line that included “jump n… jump”. I thought the GR parks were only for black kids as those were the only kids I ever saw playing in those very busy parks.

    I never had an actual conversation with a black person until I went to college. Same for Catholics.

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  45. Suzanne said on November 16, 2017 at 10:39 am

    We had a few black kids at my high school, but not a lot. Interestingly enough, there was a girl a year or so ahead of me who was from Pakistan by way of Uganda but had had to leave when Idi Amin kicked out foreigners. There was also a girl in my class whose parents were missionaries in Zaire and I think they, too, had left because of political turmoil.
    Did the teachers ever discuss any of this with the rest of us students? No. Not that I can recall.

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  46. Mark P said on November 16, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Check out the letter Moore’s lawyers sent the Alabama online publishers of stories about his predatory nature. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/11/14/roy_moore_s_lawyer_sent_a_apocalypse_of_a_letter_threatening_local_media.html

    How could these idiots get a law degree?

    The counties: Floyd, Richmond, Fulton, Madison, and El Dorado. Which of these is not like the others?

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  47. Julie Robinson said on November 16, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Shit. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/11/16/al-franken-kissed-and-groped-me-without-my-consent-broadcaster-leeann-tweeden-says/

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  48. Kayak Woman said on November 16, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Sadly, I am all too familiar with incompetent lawyers. After my parents died, my widowed sister-in-law chose to pay a particularly unscrupulous lawyer to write hostile, inscrutable letters to me and my daughters for a couple years. I never did figure out what s-i-l’s issue was but thanks to a very good lawyer that I eventually hired to respond to the creep, she is no longer part of the family.

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  49. susan said on November 16, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I’m trying to imagine being an African-American reading this particular comment thread. Makes me cringe.

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  50. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 11:24 am

    There were about 3,500 students in my public high school in Miami, and about 5 of those were black. There were quite a few Cuban students, I don’t really know the percentage. I also had lots of Jewish friends there, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t have any classes with the black kids so we never met.

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  51. alex said on November 16, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Uh, oh. Better start flagellatin’ ourselves over Al Franken before Dial It Slow dive-bombs us with his usual accusations of hypocrisy.

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  52. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I’m not surprised to read that about Franken, I think the world of entertainment is full of that. But it’s unfortunate to come out at this time, because it complicates the Moore circumstance. On the other hand it’s good to get it out, these behaviors need to stop.

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  53. coozledad said on November 16, 2017 at 11:44 am

    susan: That’s why there are no black commenters here anymore. It’s always a circa 60’s white man’s burden backslap fest. If you dare to pipe up about it, they lose their shit.

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  54. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 11:51 am

    I have a black friend who reads from time to time, I’ll have to ask her if she’s read this thread. We’ve talked about things like this often.

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  55. Sherri said on November 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    My grandparents had a tobacco farm. I can remember eating dinner (the midday meal) at my grandparents’, and the white farmhands would eat at the table with the family, while the Black farmhands would eat downstairs in the basement.

    Schools had only recently been desegregated when I started school, and I remember the adult conversations about what that was going to do to the quality of the schools.

    I remember being a church, and someone raised the question, what would we do if a black family came? Someone answered, we’d direct them to one of their churches, where they’d feel more comfortable.

    When I was in about 6th grade, I usually sat at lunch at a table with black girls. My mother came to lunch with me one day, and she was very uncomfortable, and asked me later why I was sitting with them.

    When you figure out they’re lying to you about race…

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  56. Peter said on November 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Franken: Oh boy, they’re going to have a field day with this. As if this is equivalent with 45 and Saint Roy Moore, much less Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein.

    And speaking of Roy Moore, it appears that as supreme court justice, he signed the decree to disbar a lawyer 90 days…the lawyer who’s representing him now. Ay Yi Yi.

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  57. susan said on November 16, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I’m waiting for someone to drop a dime on G. Keillor…

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  58. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    At the small Lutheran college I went to in Nebraska there were about 20 or so black students, they mostly transfered in as juniors from a Lutheran junior college in Huntsville Alabama. There were very few white students at the Huntsville school. The Lutheran churches I attended in Dallas and St. Louis were well integrated but they did have LCMS churches that were all black, except the pastors were white. A good friend of mine went to the same church I went to but her husband was a pastor at one of the “black” churches. I thought it was weird that she didn’t go to his church and always wondered what the parishioners of her husband’s church thought about it. We never discussed it.

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  59. susan said on November 16, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I went to school with lots of white kids, and even had some over for slumber parties, shared candies with them, white chocolate and snow balls. They didn’t know about dark chocolate. There were some white kids in Girl Scouts, too. Lots of white kids in the neighborhood. Got on the school bus, lots of white kids. But since we didn’t go to church, I didn’t know about white kids there. We didn’t talk about that.

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  60. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Good one Susan.

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  61. Jolene said on November 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    In case you want to feed your confectionery nostalgia: vanilla creme drops from Amazon.

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  62. Andrea said on November 16, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Speaking of racists, Columbus, Ohio, figures in the story behind one of the internet’s biggest alt-right trolls…

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  63. Scout said on November 16, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I’m glad women are breaking silence and speaking up. The oppression has gone on for far too long, and no matter who has done it, they need to examine their past actions and make honest efforts to bring this crap to an end.

    At least it’s a real apology and not a bunch of weasel words. That said, I’m really disappointed in Franken.

    Scalzi had a great post about this the other day and the comment section is worth a read.

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  64. coozledad said on November 16, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    The year the Beatles broke up, there were sharecropper kids in my second-grade class, Mack and Hattie. They were high school age. The teacher largely ignored them. They left at noon in the fall to prime tobacco, and they didn’t return for the rest of the intervening period between tobacco harvest and the implementation of desegregation in the Durham County Schools.

    Upon the integration of the schools, I was no longer bussed to Mangum Elementary, but to Little River, up until that moment a black high school. The conversations around the dinnertable went like this: My Parents- “Are you going to get you a little N– girlfriend, Derek?” My older brothers and sisters “He’s going to Little N—school! Little N–!”

    My first day in an integrated classroom I was so terrified to ask my black teacher where the bathroom was, or what might happen to me there, I managed to hold it until we were waiting for the bus home, and I pissed my britches in the cold, and the white kids never let my ass forget it.

    The black kids, on the other hand, tried to teach me to do the tighten up. Their laughter wasn’t malicious. They were poor farm kids, like my family one step removed. Every thing white people told me was going to happen was bullshit, and that’s a story that continues to repeat itself to this fucking day.

    I disowned my family for their insane habit of lying, their racism, and the fakeass thin veneer of civility they acquired in adulthood. I know the language of that passive aggressive shit like I know the back of my little pink monkey hands. I’ve since learned the historical origins of that awfulness and me it’s a fucking miracle that whites can pretend to anything but shame.

    And if they think it isn’t telegraphed through their language or their demurs, they just don’t know how emotionally uneducated they appear to people in the non racist camp. In fact, that pouty denial is the giveaway for the ones too gutless to indulge their damage publicly.

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  65. Jakash said on November 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve long been ambivalent about Al Franken as a comedian — enjoyed some stuff, including one of his books, but thought Stuart Smalley was largely a misfire, e.g. I’ve thought he’s done a pretty good job as a Senator and obviously agree with him on most issues, not that I’ve paid very much attention to him in either role. Ever since he decided to enter the political arena, I just assumed that his background would be filled with things that could be used against him. This incident having taken place as recently as 2006, though, is surprising to me. There’s no excuse for it, and it’s very disappointing on its own. Given the mileage the Whataboutists will get out of it, it’s even more depressing.

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  66. Jakash said on November 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm


    #59 was funny, indeed. As for cringing, I can certainly understand that reaction, but what this thread largely seems to indicate to me is that even the liberal folks commenting on this liberal blog grew up in a very different world, and our outlook has often been arrived at in spite of our family/school/church backgrounds, not in line with them.

    “The fakeass thin veneer of civility” may ring hollow to Cooz, but to me it was a step my father’s generation took toward the more inclusive world we live in now. By no means is this country anywhere near where it should be, but anybody who thinks it’s as bad as it was in 1960 is not being objective, IMHO. The rise of Trumpism is very disturbing, but there is a significant majority of folks out there for whom it is repellent.

    What’s evident to me, for example, is that many of us grew up hearing the racist term for Brazil nuts being used casually and often — but today we recall it as an anachronism, not as anything we’d even consider saying ourselves.

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  67. coozledad said on November 16, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Yes, the greatest generation of white people made it possible for white people to substitute an army of racist cops for a mob and a rope. Thank almighty god we don’t have near as many N– jokes.

    Come sing along with me the old Negro Spiritual Cracker where the fuck have you been?

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  68. Bitter Scribe said on November 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Congratulations, Senator Franken! You’re a finalist for Mr. WhatAboutThatGuy 2017!

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  69. Dave said on November 16, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    I’m afraid I heard my father say the n-word a number of times while growing up and he never quite let go of using it when Obama ran the first time. I cannot ever recall hearing my mother say it. There’s no apologies for that and I have none.

    His younger brother always seemed filled with a genuine hate for black people, far more pointed in his words than I ever heard out of my dad. I always wondered why he was like that. His daughter told me there are some things she never tries to talk to her dad about because it never goes well.

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  70. coozledad said on November 16, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    susan: One a scale of 1-10, how would you rate that mansplainin’?

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  71. Judybusy said on November 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Oh, irony: Giant of the Senate has finally made its way through the waitlist and is on the way to my library.

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  72. Suzanne said on November 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    No end in sight, it seems:

    Can we just make a list of who is at least marginally not a pervert or a liar or a sleeze? Nobody’s perfect, I know, but still….

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  73. Peter said on November 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I remember one day, about six months ago, when the Comey stuff was happening, and Susan Collins cried out “Can’t we just have one normal day around here?”

    Seriously, I can see why some countries turn into dictatorships. Some people crave for the discipline, others are just fed up with the filth and are happy not to hear about it for a while.

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  74. coozledad said on November 16, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    White American culture is a thin skein of sham legalisms stretched over the skeletal remains of this past. It is the larger portion of our current undoing.


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  75. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve been spending waaayyy to much time online of late. When I’m in Chicago and the weather is bad I don’t get out and about as much for one thing and there’s so much going on politically with this Moore business and the Mueller probe etc, that I’m obsessed, seriously. I envy Brian that he has been able to pull himself away. The good news for me is that I’m going back to NM on Monday for Thanksgiving and then I will stay there until after the New Year. Most of that time I’ll be in Abiquiu where I’m hoping the internet connections will be even more spotty than usual because I need a break. Until then I’ll probably be glued to my phone or laptop unfortunately.

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  76. Colleen said on November 16, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    I once said the n word, not knowing what it meant, and my parents went ballistic on me. So no, that was not a word I heard growing up.

    Counties? Greene, Allen, Finney, Tippecanoe, Franklin, Allen, and now Hillsborough.

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  77. Sherri said on November 16, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    I’ve got an idea: howzabout we elect more women? Not saying women never do awful things, but let’s try out their awful things for a while.

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  78. Dexter said on November 16, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    I have lived in many counties. Most glamorous, Monterey County, California. Sorriest,Craven County, North Carolina…so damn pathetically poor, my grandkids were the only kids who paid for school lunch.
    In mundane stages of my life: DeKalb-Indiana….Steuben-Indiana, Allen, Indiana, Bullitt, Hardin, Meade-Kentucky {Fort Knox, US Army}….Bexar, Texas {Fort Sam Houston/San Antonio}, Pierce, Washington (old Fort Lewis), and now Williams, Ohio. Yeah…boring…*yawn *

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  79. Mark P. said on November 16, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I was very disappointed to hear about Al Franken. We donated to his campaign because we figured he would represent our values better than our own senators here in Georgia. Unfortunately, it appears that he represents some other values as well.

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  80. coozledad said on November 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    This is what we’re fighting. Pick your goddamn battles, and for fuck’s sake, pick them with your enemies:

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  81. basset said on November 16, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Colleen, surely that wasn’t Greene County, Indiana? I was born there, in Linton, and it was a “sundown town” back in the days when such things still happened – I remember being shown as a child where the “get out by sundown” sign had previously hung.

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  82. Deborah said on November 16, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    What does that mean? A sundown town, never heard that before?

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  83. basset said on November 16, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Deborah, it means nonwhites out of town by dark, or else.


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  84. Dexter said on November 17, 2017 at 1:44 am

    I never lived in Minnesota but I still miss Paul Wellstone, especially when Franken has joined the creep-brigade.

    My old hometown, Waterloo, Indiana, was a sundown town…there used to be a sign posted, but I never saw it, and I assumed the kids were making it up, but then I heard many towns were sundown towns, so Waterloo probably was, too, and so ironic, as at least one house was a prominent stop on The Underground Railroad. The town also enforced the Green River Ordinance, which may have had to do with peddlers. I am not sure about that.

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  85. Dexter said on November 17, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Wikipedia: “A Green River Ordinance is a common United States city ordinance prohibiting door-to-door solicitation. Under such an ordinance, it is illegal for any business to sell their items door-to-door without express prior permission from the household.”

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  86. ROGirl said on November 17, 2017 at 4:51 am

    My parents were progressive lefties, and when I heard kids at school use the n word it was shocking.

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  87. alex said on November 17, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Like the new typeface.

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  88. alex said on November 17, 2017 at 5:50 am

    What happened to the new typeface that was here just an hour ago?

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  89. Suzanne said on November 17, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Selling door to door. I am old enough to remember the Fuller Brush salesman coming to our house and showing my mom all his merchandise.
    (Honestly, in light of all the sexual accusations going on, there is no way to word that that it doesn’t bring to mind things other than cleaning items.)
    As kids, we thought it was pretty exciting and couldn’t believe our mom didn’t buy anything. We were poor & lived in the country, so excitement was hard to come by. The Hoover vacuum guy would come by once in a while too.

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  90. alex said on November 17, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Some bracing reading on the alpha primate-in-chief. And our fellow citizens.

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  91. coozledad said on November 17, 2017 at 8:41 am

    The US-just as big a festering shithole as Russia. Thankyew boomer fuckwads.

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  92. coozledad said on November 17, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Let’s extend the Al Franken metric and use it as precedent for every case going forward. Because Donald Trump raped a 13 year old. He raped a thirteen. year. old.

    The process by which this country became governed by white trash began with the videots who came of age in the fifties and sixties. After a brief stint as hippie losers they threw away the pajamas and let Mammon peg them up the ass. The president they foisted on us is a child sexer from the Russian mafia.

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  93. redoubt said on November 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

    (OK, I’ll play. I’ve been reading along, and cringing only a little.)

    Speaking of counties–I was born and grew up in the southeastern portion of Cook County, Illinois but only heard the n-word yelled at me, with malice, for the first time in Davidson County, Tennessee. (Other counties–Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and sometimes Chatham, all in Georgia.) And as a reverse of Dexter above, until I was 20 I didn’t know any white people. (And yes, I am appalled at this looking back. But in the neighborhood I grew up in, very possible.)

    FWIW, Forsyth County, Georgia, north of here, used to be a sundown county (it was ethnically cleansed in the 1910s); it’s still only 2.6% African-American.

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  94. Deborah said on November 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I have a lot to learn about my own racist proclivities. As much as I try not to be one I have caught myself thinking, doing, saying things that can’t be described as anything but racist, and I sincerely regret that and am deeply sorry for being that way.

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  95. Scout said on November 17, 2017 at 11:43 am

    “The president they foisted on us is a child sexer from the Russian mafia.”
    ^^^ this ^^^

    And yet, Al Franken’s crime is just way worse than the pedophilia that both POTUS and Roy Moore engaged in. Democrats are always held to a higher standard, presumably because they actually are better, more principled people. I can’t think of any other reason for disparity of reactions, and in this case – BOTH SIDES DO IT.

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  96. adrianne said on November 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

    People, Al Franken’s trespasses are venial, while the odious Trump and Roy Moore are rapists. Perspective!

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  97. Scout said on November 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    adrienne – yes, I completely agree.

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  98. coozledad said on November 17, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Keep in mind who votes Republican: Dick swinging subliterates like Jimly Joe. Authoritarians who cultivate developmental disorders in children; who teach children their savage fundamentalist horseshit; the Dunning-Krueger set of the foaming at the fucking mouth stupid; Realtor trash, corporate farmers, gun obsessives, land rapers, labor exploiters, wage thieves, inveterate ass kissers, animal torturers, domestic abusers, mass murderers, Nazis, crypto-Nazis, racists, xenophobes, old white guys with a foot already sliding into the muck at the edge of their graves, martinet cops…

    Everyone who is overdue for a conviction and a long jail term. That’s the fucking Republicans. They’re the scum of the earth, and it’s self defeating for a civilized nation to think of them in any other way.

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  99. Deborah said on November 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I learned a few things in the last couple of days from these comments, I learned that there are two parts to empathy from that link up thread about the guy who started the Storm Trooper website. For those who may not have read it the two parts are, cognitive empathy and affective empathy. Cognitive empathy is when you understand WHY a person might be in pain, and affective empathy is when you CARE. I thought that was interesting, the article said that the Storm Trooper guy had the cognitive part but not the affective part. I don’t think Trump has either.

    The other thing that gave me thought was in Alex’s link about the psychiatrist who started an organization and wrote a book to warn people about the dangerous state we are in because of Donald Trump’s mental health problems. He referred to how so many people stood by and did nothing in Germany as Hitler came to power, even though they knew he was dangerous and hideous. That made me think.

    So instead of standing around doing nothing, my husband and I decided it’s imperative to send money to Doug Jones in Alabama. The NYT had an article about how dicey it is for the out of town Democrats to get involved in that race, they said the only thing that can be done is to send money directly to Jone’s campaign, not by going through the Democratic party. It’s still a bit iffy but something MUST be done to keep the Republicans from getting that seat and giving Trump success in his (and the Rs) endeavors to take away healthcare and raise taxes on the middle class to subsidize the wealthy. Hopefully his inability to govern will open eyes and he will be defeated in 2020 or possibly even impeached before that. Or better yet, he will become so disgruntled he would quit before that, because he hates to lose. Let’s give it a shot.

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  100. Deborah said on November 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    As much as I like Franken, it wouldn’t surprise me that more stuff might be in his background that would not be pleasant to hear about. I say this because of the world he was in before politics, comedians have not been getting good press lately on that score. I hope that’s not true about Franken but I wouldn’t put any money on it either way.

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  101. coozledad said on November 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Hitler was a junkie, whacked out on a cocktail of oxycodone and cocaine. He also did enough meth to rot his teeth out of his head.

    Trump is a flat out cokewhore, and considering his morbid obesity, he’s looking at a Breitbart style coronary event. Even money he dies on 1.The golf course, or 2.Jamming a second piece of pie in his disgusting gob.

    The closest he’ll ever come to dying while fucking is getting a face full of piss in the White House Jacuzzi.

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  102. Scout said on November 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    “As you know, Senator Al Franken is the latest high-profile man to be accused of sexual assault. Guess which bundle of flaxen-haired impetigo has roused himself to make a tweet?”


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  103. Icarus said on November 17, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I hope it’s #1 though #7 isn’t sounding so bad right now


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  104. Mark P said on November 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Cooz, I tried to think whether I disagreed with anyone on the list. Nope. No, I don’t.

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  105. Suzanne said on November 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    If Franken was GOP, he would still be denying, saying the woman is lying, saying that photo is fake. You know the routine.
    Instead, he admitted it, said something Trump or Moore would never say–I am sorry. I am an idiot.
    That is the big difference between the reactions of the accusations of sexual harassment.

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