The wrong person for the job.

The rest of you are talking and thinking nonstop about you-know-who, but I’ve been woolgathering on Karen Spranger today.

Chances are you don’t know her, although I know we have some journalists reading today, and if you’ve ever covered a small-city council and one of those people inevitably described as “a local gadfly” shows up, you know her. Spranger once attended a Warren city council meeting in a suit made of aluminum foil, to make her point that something – smart meters or chemtrails or one of those boogiemen – was poisoning local residents. She filed multiple petitions to recall a politician she disliked. And then she threw her hat in the ring as a candidate for Macomb County clerk, just north of where I live, and in one of those weird planetary alignments that happen from time to time in politics, last November she won.

It became evident almost immediately that she was unqualified and unprepared for the job. The office had run efficiently for years under a safe incumbent, who waited until the last minute to retire and tried to pass the position off to a hand-picked successor, but a party squabble broke out that allowed Spranger to surf into office on the Trumpian wave. And from there, it hasn’t gone well.

The biggest problem was Spranger herself, who appears to have mental-health issues. Her address of record is a blighted wreck that only a family of raccoons would find hospitable. She must live somewhere, but no one knows exactly where, and she won’t say. She’s never held a job like this before, and her actual employment record is sketchy – she was on public assistance before she started earning $109,000 a year as county clerk.

Needless to say, the existing staff hasn’t taken well to her. Key deputies were fired almost immediately, and the place has sunk into dysfunction, with filing backlogs, staff shortages and, of course, lawsuits.

Does this sound familiar? Spranger is Donald Trump, writ small. (This Free Press story from last summer outlines it all, with the bothsidesiest bothsides headline ever.)

It’s been fashionable for decades now to run for office on the claim that one is not a career politician, but if Trump and Spranger are what non-career politicians do? Bring on the people who know what they’re doing. Please.

Which brings us to the Michael Wolff book. Not a fan of Wolff, but not too proud to say this one landed like a daisy-cutter, and probably should have. The Real Journalists ™ over at Axios had this to say:

There are definitely parts of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” that are wrong, sloppy, or betray off-the-record confidence. But there are two things he gets absolutely right, even in the eyes of White House officials who think some of the book’s scenes are fiction: his spot-on portrait of Trump as an emotionally erratic president, and the low opinion of him among some of those serving him.

There follows a long list of things Wolff got right, and it’s all the important stuff. So. Make of that what you will. Meanwhile, Wolff’s column yesterday in his employer’s publication, the Hollywood Reporter, winds up like this:

Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.

At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.

Terrific. This is the fix we’re in. I see someone yesterday posted James Fallows’ comment on all this, something I’m in full agreement with. Everybody knows. And no one in a position of power is doing anything.

Have a great weekend, all. And brace yourselves for the rest of 2018.

Posted at 9:02 am in Current events |

94 responses to “The wrong person for the job.”

  1. Connie said on January 5, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I am sorry to say that I have enjoyed the local news stories about Spranger. The woman is clearly nuts.

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  2. Icarus said on January 5, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Spranger did not act on repeated requests for an interview by the Free Press via phone and e-mails to her work and personal accounts. At one point she said she would talk if a reporter answered three questions — one about the story’s deadline and two personal questions: Where did the reporter live and who is the reporter’s husband. The Free Press declined to meet her conditions.

    seems legit. Oh and that house. I bet Chip and Joanna wouldn’t touch it for all the shiplap in the world.

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  3. Sherri said on January 5, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Not a journalist, but I’ve been involved enough in local government to say, pretty much every city council and school board I’ve ever seen has at least one local gadfly. Every now and again one gets elected, and it’s usually a disaster. Our local gadflies seem more competent than Ms Spranger, which is both good and bad. The school board gadfly was able to delay construction of a new school because she didn’t like where it was being built and was competent enough to know how to work the system. Redmond finally put in a fee system for environmental appeals because she was filing so many of them. She was recently before the planning commission, trying a different route to get the school board to do what she wanted regarding school siting.

    Our local council gadfly is persistent, if not effective. He shows up to every single council meeting, with a prepared statement, complete with copies for the council and visuals for the audience, about his topic of choice. He never seems to have grasped the idea that maybe this isn’t the most effective means of accomplishing change. Or maybe change isn’t his goal, who knows.

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  4. adrianne said on January 5, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I’m still stunned that the goobers in Trump’s orbit let Michael Wolff be a fly on the wall in the West Wing. Had NO ONE done the least bit of research on the guy?

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  5. ROGirl said on January 5, 2018 at 10:24 am

    I’ve been following the story and had been thinking about the parallels and differences between her and Trump. He has more money.

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  6. alex said on January 5, 2018 at 11:20 am

    But I betcha she has the bigger button.

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  7. Sarah said on January 5, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I’m an attorney who practices occasionally in Macomb county. The depth of Ms. Spranger’s incompetence has caused me headaches. A clerical matter between Wayne and Macomb counties – a routine thing that should have taken 7-10 days – wound up taking over 3 months. It took many many phone calls (as well as in person visits) to the clerks office. Imagine explaining that to a client. Imagine explaining why you are billing all those hours to that client. I feel her incompetence directly, with Trump the affect is probably in the long run greater – but I don’t feel it so directly.

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  8. Connie said on January 5, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    And the dress matches a shower curtain

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  9. Joe Kobiela said on January 5, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    We have a councilmen in Auburn who is the same way, bat shit crazy, lives in a room in the Auburn hotel because his house is unliveable, is a licensed lawyer but works at Kroger as a bag boy,rarely bathes, uses the library internet,rides a bike, 365 got hit on his bike riding with no lights, wearing black pants and jacket. Ran for mayor saying the only thing he needs in a office was a card table and chair.
    As for the latest Trump book tell all, I believe as much in it as I would believe a rightwing hack job book about mister Obama or Hillary.
    Pilot Joe

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  10. Brian stouder said on January 5, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    My first post from my phone (excuse any typos)…I haunt our local school board, but always with a view to NOT being ‘that guy’…….maybe once or twice a year I’ll make a comment… It has been reassuring and ‘educational’.

    (I detest typing on this thong)

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  11. Scout said on January 5, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    This Bannon burn by Rick Wilson is sure to leave blisters. What an absolutely delicious read!

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  12. alex said on January 5, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Sure, Joe. You’ve never had any problem believing scurrilous bullshit about Obama and Hillary you’ve heard on talk radio and repeating it here. But a book, that’s different. Probably because you’ve never read one.

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  13. Scout said on January 5, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    “(I detest typing on this thong)”

    LOL!!! Thread win!

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  14. ROGirl said on January 5, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Brian, typing on a thong can’t be easy.

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  15. Bitter Scribe said on January 5, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    It’s always the obscure offices that get the fruitcakes, for the obvious reason that they attract the least attention and voters.

    In my experience, library boards seem to attract a disproportionate share of nuts. My hometown had this one goofball who was banned from the public library for harassing the staff (he would yell at them when they didn’t come up with research on how to turn lead into gold, or whatever). Then he somehow got himself elected to the library board, probably because his parents were respected around town. This treated us to the spectacle of the police having to escort him into the library for board meetings—the only time he was allowed there—and back out when the meetings ended.

    He served one term, during which he got himself arrested for assaulting his parents, with whom he lived (he was in his 60s, they in their 80s). Yes, those would be the same parents on the strength of whose name he was elected. He ran again but came in last; presumably some of the voters finally started reading the paper.

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  16. Jeff Borden said on January 5, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    The issue has been and will continue to be the absolute refusal by the Republican Congress to do anything about the craziness coming from the White House. Are they so fixated on felating the donor class that they are blind to what is happening to our place in the world? Are they so fixated with returning us to a Dickensian society where the poor and indigent are treated like garbage they cannot see the very real potential for nuclear conflagration? Is the goal to saturate federal courts with Cro-Magnon idiots worth ceding the world order to China or India or Russia? The Orange King is an abortion, a train wreck — insert every ugly terminology ever created here. But let us not lose sight of the complicity of the GOP in allowing this to happen. If you don’t know the names of Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Dana Rohrbacher –who are leading the Congressional charge against the Mueller probe– you’re not paying attention. And that greasy weasel, Paul Ryan, is backing Nunes attempts to investigate the investigators. Our elected senators and representatives are perfectly willing to ignore the intrusion of a hostile foreign power into our elections if it means they can enact their Randian ideals.

    There’d better be a big, blue wave in 2018. I’m not sure we can survive four years of this anarchy.

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  17. Julie Robinson said on January 5, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Laughing with you, Brian, that was priceless.

    I’m not going to read the book, but I certainly am enjoying Trump’s reaction. And the juicy tidbits.

    Aside from that, I don’t have to leave the house again until Sunday and there’s figure skating on all weekend. Let the wild rumpus begin.

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  18. Bitter Scribe said on January 5, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Dear Joe: Can you ever remember Obama or Hillary reacting to a right-wing hack job book the way Trump is reacting to “Fire and Fury”?

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  19. Jakash said on January 5, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    “(I detest typing on this thong)”

    But, from what I’ve heard from a very reliable source, “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

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  20. Suzanne said on January 5, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Maybe those in Trump’s orbit let the Wolff in precisely because they knew who he is. Maybe it’s like a person held hostage smuggling out a note. A collective “help us!”

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  21. Dorothy said on January 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve thought all along that a very sizable percentage of tRump voters are a few eggs shy of a dozen when it comes to brain cells, and Joe’s comment at 8 pretty much proves that.

    What a week to be home sick with a cold and a contagious case of pink eye. I’ve been trying hard not to OD on news, but today I’m wallowing in it. I can’t help but be buoyed by the disclosures in this book. I’m turning all hopeful feelings toward the idea that someone somewhere is custom making a pair of handcuffs and a protective head gear (expected for the furious head banging he’s got ahead of him) for Donnie Dimbulb. My mother felt the same as I do about him. Now that she is (surely) in heaven, I’ve been asking her to intercede on behalf of the country and all our shared loved ones. Mum – have a few words passed along to the good Lord, would you?

    Suzanne – excellent supposition!!

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  22. Judybusy said on January 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Brian, you made my day, only because I could see the exact thing happening to me!

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  23. Peter said on January 5, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I’m sorry, but I’m close to Joe’s opinion on this one. We’re not talking about a Charles Pierce article here; Michael Wolff is a lot closer to Kitty Kelley.

    That being said, it’s been a fun read. I kind of thought that it was a three ring circus over there, and it’s been confirmed in spades.

    Bitter, you’re absolutely right: Hillary or Obama would have ignored the book and after a week nobody would have remembered it, but Don’s like a pit bull locked in the cab of a pickup truck with the window down 1/8″ – you tap on the window because you know the dog’s going to go ape shit and it’s fun to watch.

    Jeff, I wish you’re right about the blue wave, but I don’t know. November is a long long way away, and it seems that a lot of people have short attention spans. I can’t help but think that a lot of people will say that both parties do it, or my vote doesn’t count, or it’s too cold outside. What the heck, that’s how we got here in the first place.

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  24. Jolene said on January 5, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    First, the good news: David Letterman is doing a series of hourlong shows on Netflix, each focusing on a single guest. The first show will drop on January 12; the interviewee will be Barack Obama. Here is the trailer.

    The bad, or, at least, sad news: We won’t get to see the show he taped in St. Paul with Al Franken and several Somali immigrants.

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  25. Jeff Borden said on January 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm


    I have no illusions the Democrats can’t fuck this up. Talk of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders picking up the Democrat banner in 2020 doesn’t thrill me. Dems need some fresh and younger bloody. I express this blue wave hope to give myself some optimism, I guess, because we are going down a very crooked, very ugly and very dangerous path. When the damage the Orange King and his enablers in Congress have done in a single year is assessed, it’s inconceivable to me we can last three more years under the same conditions. This is utter madness.

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  26. Jolene said on January 5, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Peter, I found the Axios article Nancy linked to above very compelling. Whatever flaws there are in Wolff’s reporting, the message is correct. Trump is not fit to be president, and the people around him know it. This should not be surprising, as what we have seen of the book merely provides colorful anecdotes regarding these truths, which are observable to anyone paying the slightest attention.

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  27. Jolene said on January 5, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Here is further evidence that Republicans will stop at nothing to protect Trump. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have recommended to the FBI that they investigate the truthfulness of Chris Steele, the British former intelligence officer who assembled the dossier on Trump’s Russia connections. They did this without consulting or even informing the Democrats and the other Republicans on the committee.

    It’s worth noting that, during the primaries, Lindsey Graham called Trump a kook and said he was unfit to serve. Now, he has become one of Trump’s golfing buddies, and is willing to discredit himself to protect Trump. Anything for tax cuts, conservative judges, and free rein for fossil fuel companies, it seems.

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  28. Scout said on January 5, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    I second what Jolene said @25. That this administration is dangerously dysfunctional is the real bottom line, no matter who the messenger is.

    The Republicans openly trying to thwart Mueller could also possibly be up to their arses in (Russian) alligators and have their own dirty involvement in this mess to protect. Some days it’s the only thing that makes any sense.

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  29. Peter said on January 5, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Slate is reporting that someone sent out a fake blog that Trump likes to spend up to 17 hours a day watching The Gorilla Channel, which consists of videos of gorillas beating up on each other that was compiled by WH staff, and it seems a lot of people are believing it.

    After what I saw channel surfing last night, I’m thinking that a Gorilla Channel may not be all that bad an idea.

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  30. Dorothy said on January 5, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Yes yes yes to Jolene & Scout’s most recent comments. Wolff might not be the journalist who would ideally inform us of what he saw, heard, discussed inside the West Wing. But doesn’t his mere presence there for the amount of time he WAS there speak volumes about the unstructured and unsupervised system in place there? Who’s in charge of screening individuals with that kind of access?! What surprises await us in the coming months? Maybe someone else recorded Trump saying or doing something incriminating. The takedown of this fake president is going to be a shitshow of previously unknown proportions. I’m ready with a big bowl of popcorn and a cup of hot chocolate.

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  31. Joe Kobiela said on January 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Let’s see, if I wanted to sell books or gain a t.v. Viewership how would I do it?
    Let’s see, maybe write or broadcast what my target audience wants to see, hear, or read?
    Wonder if that might do it, for either side?
    Alex you crack me up, you try so hard to make me feel bad, thinking I never read a book? Both my daughters are librarians, they got interested because the wife and I constantly had them at the library while we were checking out books. You should stop over some time and we could discuss something I have read, war and remembrance might be good, or the greatest generation, how about something about the B&O railroad or the space race, Dekalb county history might be good, or maybe the auto industry.
    Pilot Joe

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  32. Charlotte said on January 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Jeff Borden @24 — the Biden thing makes me insane! He’s too old — and considering the current moment, his handsy kissiness + his assholery on the Anita Hill front will not play well with the millions of women still thoroughly pissed off that the GOP stole the election from Hillary. And he’s TOO DAMN OLD.

    We lost 2 local elections here when arrogant candidates ran on the Dem ticket as “independents” and “mavericks” — one we actually got into the state legislature for a term but she was so terrible at it that it went to a GOP charter-school lobbyist the next round (charter schools are still illegal here in MT). Then a woman ran for the Public Service Commission, which is boring but crucial, and tanked it by being more concerned with her own purity as a candidate than in having anything useful to say … ugh. (And like all small towns, we have a few of the tinfoil types — some of whom are former members of CUT, our defunct local cult. If you want to set them off just mention the underpass/overpass issue across the rail line.)

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  33. Dave said on January 5, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Joe, every day, almost without fail, Trump tweets something stupid, something that someone with even an iota of common sense would know better than to put out there for the world to see. All I can say is that it makes this book much more believable, just by paying attention to the foolishness that comes from him. He scares me to no end.

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  34. Jakash said on January 5, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Right, Charlotte, the Biden nonsense gets me, too. 2 miserably failed Presidential runs already. His creepy (or old-school, if one wants to give him way more than the benefit of the doubt) “handsy kissiness” that you refer to, which is well-documented in many photos. Plagiarism, anybody? And, oh yeah, he’ll be 77 on inauguration day of 2020. He may appeal to the kind of voters in Pennsylvania who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary, but the guy to inspire the new wave of Democratic voters needed to right the ship of state in the years to come? Yeah, no.

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  35. Heather said on January 5, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Scout @27, that’s what journalist and authoritarian expert Sarah Kendzior thinks–that people are being blackmailed. But based on history, how can they not know this won’t turn out well? Fear has a way of blinding us, I suppose.

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  36. Suzanne said on January 5, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Although, my Millennial daughter loves Joe Biden! But I agree, too old. Also, after Trump, the bar is so low, it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone free of dementia who can string a few coherent words together.

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  37. Deborah said on January 5, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    One thing we all need to remember, I keep reminding myself that whoever, WHOEVER gets selected as the Democratic candidate, HAS TO win. We all have to put aside our purity tests at that point. Just get the vote out and get rid of these craven republicans. Sorry for the rant.

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  38. Dexter said on January 5, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Joe, I do not know Mike Walters personally but I believe him to be a conscientious watch-dog over council and a true servant of the people…he certainly stirs the kettle. I didn’t know he lives at the old Auburn Hotel…hell, I figured that place had probably been condemned by now. And Martha’s Popcorn Stand…how did the citizens survive all that melted butter?

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  39. Dexter said on January 5, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    “Everybody knows. And no one in a position of power is doing anything.”~ How right you are…it depresses me when I get anxious and began to believe nobody is going to…ever. At least I now know our teachers and parents were right: “Johnny, Jill? If you work hard you can grow up to be President…anybody can become President in America.”
    ANY-fucking buddy, right?

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  40. David C. said on January 6, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Wolff’s book could be 2/3 bullshit. Who knows. But I’ve yet to hear anything from it that I think “No, that couldn’t happen”. It all sounds plausible. I have a feeling if tRump goes through with his physical at Walter Reed, that will be the end. Any adult who drinks a bottle of water with two hands and less coordination than a three-year-old drinking out of a sippy cup isn’t well. I imagine Kelly made the appointment knowing tRump couldn’t pass it. God save us from a Mike Pence presidency, but I don’t believe he’ll nuke someone because he’s having a temper tantrum.

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  41. David C. said on January 6, 2018 at 8:21 am

    I am the very model of a very stable genius
    Whip out my ruler often to compare my tiny penis
    I know the pres of Russia and he helped me get my present gig

    OK, so I’m a shitty lyricist. We all can’t be W.S. Gilbert.

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  42. coozledad said on January 6, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Just a reminder that 24 years ago today, Ringo had a polyp removed.

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  43. nancy said on January 6, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Guys, I deleted a few comments, no hard feelings, but this shit has to stop. Settle down.

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  44. Connie said on January 6, 2018 at 10:50 am

    David c, I could immediately sing your lyrics, which makes them very successful, don’t you think?

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  45. alex said on January 6, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Mike Walter is an eccentric, and probably on the spectrum, but he’s also easily the most intelligent person on Auburn city council and has a very loyal following. To wit.

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  46. Joe Kobiela said on January 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    That page was last updated 10 years ago.
    Pilot Joe

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  47. Jakash said on January 6, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    “There’s cheering in certain sectors that the economy created 2.055 million jobs in 2017. Those people lamented the slow pace of an economy that created 2.24 million jobs in 2016.”

    Hmmm… why would that be, I wonder? Some of the “economically anxious” folks weren’t as concerned about jobs as they were about some other aspect of Obama’s presidency, maybe?

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  48. Jakash said on January 6, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    “I am not a crook”

    “…being, like, really smart.”

    “It’s called a ‘tell.'”

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  49. Jakash said on January 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    So, there’s a Twitter hashtag for “stable genius.”

    My favorite, from a quick look:

    Okay, I’m done! Now back to your regular programming…

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  50. Dorothy said on January 6, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Pete Souza has a really great Instagram post regarding the definition of the word stable.

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  51. adrianne said on January 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Oh, my. Love seeing the trump supporters crumble. So long, suckas!

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 6, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    FYI Souza –

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  53. brian stouder said on January 6, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Aye yi yi!! And I thought I “fixed” the thong-thing, but the fix didn’t post. (yes, yes, ‘operator error’, indeed!).

    I’m blaming it on the Wi-Fi service at Taco-Hell.

    I apparently missed the fireworks around here earlier today; indeed, times are trying.

    In general, ol’ Harry Truman probably had it (mostly) right – with his ‘the only thing new is the history you don’t know’….but that’s cold comfort when you consider that the consequences of ignorant/inept/actually hostile statecraft have grown exponentially – and this chasm continues to deepen.

    Consider the genuinely out-dated concept that one human being – the president of the United States – possesses “the button” (or the code list), which will unleash the most massive destructive potential in existence on this planet.

    Thinking about it, we don’t trust a single human being with, for example, interpreting the Constitution of the United States (another genuinely existential responsiblity); one whole branch of the government (which our current president thinks he can tinker with, at will – but we digress!), topped by a collection of 9 justices, has that job.

    Maybe a formal delegation of that responsibility to a publically known, congressionally confirmed Supreme Command.

    A semi-non-sequitur. I am heartily tired of hearing the term “fake news”. I haven’t looked, but I assume there are essays in existence counter that bit of non-sense. From my corner of the universe, the concept of “fake news” seems to cry out for “official news” or “certified news” (or whatever) – which has to be either willfully ignorant, or else the product of an invincible (even if genuine) ignorance.

    What is “real news”? Every damned day ™, we start with blank screens and clean sheets of paper, and folks (like me) wanna know what’s going on, yes?

    And lots of people go to work filling those blank screens with ‘who shot who’/’what happened where’/’who died’/’who won or lost’/’what about the weather?’/’opinions are like noses – here’s ours’/what’s for sale etc etc etc.

    What is fake? We’re the consumers, and we get to pick and choose our sources. There’s always room for human error, and everybody has their own opinions…and this is precisely what a “free press” should be….and what it always has been.

    Tom Jefferson owned his own newspaper, and he got his spin on things; and Abe Lincoln the lawyer quietly bank-rolled a German-language newspaper, the better to reach a key voting bloc in Illinois. It’s all fair, and it’s all a product of a free press.

    And with that, we circle back to Harry Truman – and it’s time for me to go have some chips and dip!

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  54. basset said on January 6, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    You will not find a bigger Truman fan than my FIL – who was a barely-20-year-old soldier on a troopship headed to invade Japan when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

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  55. brian stouder said on January 6, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    My dad was 15 in 1945, and after graduating from good ol’ South Side in 1949, went into the Navy. If that war had continued grinding on – lots of us might not ever have come to be.

    Similarly, I recall him telling about watching the Cuban missile crisis unfold from here in Fort Wayne (I’d have been in the world, crawling on the living-room carpet), and being all set to go back into the Navy…

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  56. Deborah said on January 7, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Tomorrow is a travel day, we head back to Chicago. Ugh, I’m not looking forward to the slog to the airport and all that involves. I see that the temps in the Midwest are getting better, thank goodness. It’s been a great trip to NM, but I’m looking forward to being back in our perch in the sky overlooking the lake and the city. Next Saturday we head to NYC for our extended weekend trip to see the Michaelangelo drawings. Busy, busy …

    Our visit with my husband’s daughter and her family was ok, at least she hardly mentioned Jesus. They stayed an extra day, which kind of threw us because we had already made other plans for that day.

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  57. Sherri said on January 7, 2018 at 12:50 am

    Deborah, I hear you, I spent today recovering from Friday’s airport slog. My husband and I went out this past week to check in on his mother and stepfather, whose health continues to decline precipitously. His mother is actually sort of okay, even though she’s dying; hospice is coming in, we’ve got 24/7 personal care, and she’s declining at a more or predictable rate. His stepfather, on the other hand, is a much more chaotic situation, thanks to a rapidly progressing dementia. He did know who we were, but he was confused about many things much of the time, not just at night. He gets especially confused about where he is.

    It’s very tough on my MIL, who is completely lucid, but confined to her wheelchair now and can’t speak at all.

    On the airport slog, we had TSA Pre for our return flight out of Chattanooga, but all that buys you there is the permission to keep your shoes on. You still have to pull all your liquids out and all electronics larger than a cellphone. Both my and my husband’s backpacks were pulled out for search after the X-rays, too.

    And I came back home with a cold, too.

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  58. Joe Kobiela said on January 7, 2018 at 2:28 am

    Mom had to pull over the blog and settle some of the kids down. I too remember my dad worrying about being recalled to the 82nd airborne during the missle crisis at 32 years old.
    Pilot Joe

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  59. Dexter said on January 7, 2018 at 3:01 am

    Americans and all but the top brass did not know just how close Miami, Florida came to being nuked in 1962. Between fall-out drills and teachers at school and my being a voracious newspaper reader at a young age, I knew, and every attentive kid and adult knew the bomb was a possibility, but it was hard for us born just after Truman’s decision to comprehend the concept-turned-reality. So in 1962, there were 15 minutes left for Miami, when events turned and sensibilities ruled the day and the USSR’s launch was halted, but it was that close; that is the account I believe. Around 1975, Harry S. Truman began to be re-cast, this time all the thoughts that the bombs really needed not be dropped were purged from American thought, and Truman forevermore was being vindicated and portrayed as a great hero. I mean, I was taught that, but there are great thoughts, volumes out there, calling Harry Truman a chickenshit bastard who , like Trump, never should have ever been let anywhere near the White House, and the now-popular stories of joy the military folks and the citizenry felt and expressed at the sights and records of all those civilians suffering horrible deaths and scarred futures make me wonder…were the adults of 1945 just fucking ghouls out of monster movies?

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  60. Dexter said on January 7, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Well, back to research for another system to select lotto numbers, as people in Iowa and New Hampshire have nabbed both huge jackpots in the last two days…rats! I should get a prize for ineptitude…I missed all the numbers as badly as possible.

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  61. Dave said on January 7, 2018 at 9:41 am

    All those other losers missed the numbers as badly as you, Dexter. What makes you special? (tongue firmly in cheek). For once, I resisted the urge to buy a ticket, I usually get taken in when it gets so high but this time, I thought I’d probably miss the numbers and saved my money. The Mega Million winning ticket got sold in the next county north of us.

    Those volumes that argue Truman should have never gotten anywhere near the White House were written by people who didn’t know how low we were going to go.

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  62. David C. said on January 7, 2018 at 10:12 am

    A spare $500,000 dropped on me would make my life quite a lot better and less stressful. I think $500,000,000 would make me miserable. How often can you say yes and how often must you say no? No matter what you did someone is going to think you’re the biggest shithead in the world.

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  63. Jeff Borden said on January 7, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Is there anything funnier than rich, old (aside from Paul Ryan), white, uptight politicians trying to look informal? While the statements uttered by the Orange King yesterday from Camp David were, as usual, utterly bullshit, I found all those white guys –and the token white woman, blonde of course– laughable as they stood behind the stable genius “dressed down” in blue jeans and blazers. Not as bad as Richard M. Nixon strolling the beach in black wingtips, but still. . .

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  64. alex said on January 7, 2018 at 11:31 am

    David C., I have a childhood friend who’s a poor little rich girl whose parents died recently and left her a couple million bucks. She’s had friends turn on her when she wouldn’t give them a handout or help bankroll their nutty ideas for starting a business. I just hope she has the good sense to invest it conservatively and live off of the income, which is what I’ve counseled.

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  65. Peter said on January 7, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    David C, how about this:

    I am the very model of a stable genius president
    I am fully qualified to be the latest White House resident
    And should you have a query
    I refer you to my Twitter
    It is where I make pronouncements
    While I perch upon the shitter

    (tip of the hat to Talking Points Memo…)

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  66. David C. said on January 7, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    That’s a damn sight better than I did, Peter. But that’s a pretty low bar.

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  67. nancy said on January 7, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    You guys need to look at these tweets. If you toggle through the four screen caps, you have a whole song.

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  68. Deborah said on January 8, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Back in Chicago, what a long day. Snow on the ground but not on the roads, temps are moderate. I’m not getting up early tomorrow. Also I left my mascara in NM, so I have to buy some when Bloomingdales opens tomorrow. Bummer. My lashes are invisible without it.

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  69. Peter said on January 8, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Holy crap Nancy those are fantastic!

    And they say true literature is dead.

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  70. Icarus said on January 8, 2018 at 9:34 am

    I was hoping for a little more snow yesterday (in Chicago) because my kiddos have been cooped up inside and need an good activity like playing in the snow to burn off some energy.

    If I were to win the lottery (I rarely play so the odds are that much lower for me) I would only want a $5-10 million, which I would use to buy a house or two and put the rest into investments so we could retire now. I say $10 because Nightingale is kind enough to want to pay off her sisters and parents mortgages as well.

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  71. Jeff Borden said on January 8, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Woke up to temperatures of 33F in Chicago. It’s the first time above freezing since Christmas Eve. One of my former high school classmates, who lives in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, posted that it was 117 degrees there yesterday. I’ll take the cold, please. I have the gear to deal with it. There’s not much you can do when it’s so hot asphalt is melting.

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  72. Sherri said on January 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Let me say up front that I don’t want Oprah to run for President. I don’t want Oprah as President. But, if we’re going to have TV stars as Presidents, Oprah isn’t a bad option.

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  73. Suzanne said on January 8, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Sherri, I thought the same thing. She may be a tv star, but didn’t inherit her success and at least she can give a coherent speech. And maybe we’d all get a NEW CAR!!

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  74. Deborah said on January 8, 2018 at 11:28 am

    And she has the added benefit of being a woman! A black woman at that!

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  75. Julie Robinson said on January 8, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Now that was a speech; educational and inspirational. I haven’t been a huge Oprah fan in the past as I think she’s been pretty shallow, but I’m seeing evidence of new depth. Call me when she takes her own photo off the cover of her magazine every month.

    First world problems: can’t get the garage door to open, had to reschedule mammogram. Snow day!

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  76. susan said on January 8, 2018 at 11:43 am

    sherri @72 – My Dad used to bemoan the Reagan *presidency, saying, “If we had to have a goddamned actor as president why couldn’t it have been Paul Newman.”

    Not that he wanted that, either, but, ya know…

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  77. adrianne said on January 8, 2018 at 11:57 am

    Astonishing decision this morning from the Supreme Court staying the execution of a death-row inmate in Georgia because one of the jurors made these wonderful remarks after the fact: Years after his conviction, Keith Leroy Tharpe’s attorneys interviewed one of the jurors in his case, Barney Gattie. Gattie told them in a signed statement “there are two types of black people: 1. Black folks and 2. N—–s.”

    Tharpe “wasn’t in the ‘good’ black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did,” Gattie’s statement said, adding that after “studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls.”

    Lower courts turned down Tharpe’s appeals based on Gattie’s statement, which he said had been taken after a long day of drinking. They found the jury had not been prejudiced against Tharpe.

    The Supreme Court, in an unsigned 6-to-3 opinion, said Tharpe deserved another chance in court.

    “Gattie’s remarkable affidavit — which he never retracted — presents a strong factual basis for the argument that Tharpe’s race affected Gattie’s vote for a death verdict,” the court wrote.

    “At the very least, jurists of reason could debate whether Tharpe has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the state court’s factual determination was wrong. The [U.S. Court of Appeals for the] Eleventh Circuit erred when it concluded otherwise.”

    Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only African American member, objected and was joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch.

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  78. Heather said on January 8, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    I don’t want Oprah as president either. We need someone with experience in public service. I’m sure she’d be decent at it, but the bar is pretty low these days.

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  79. susan said on January 8, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Adrienne @77 –

    Mitch McConnell can go to hell.

    So can the fucking Bush crime family.

    Actually, the entire Republican Party can join them.

    Wish I believed that.

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  80. Brian stouder said on January 8, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Not for nothing but rwr had been a union leader (sag?) and a governor of California…so there is that….(I voted for him, back in the day….)

    my guess is that the key in 2018 and 2020 elections will be ‘competence’….and I’m still smitten w/ senator warren….

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  81. Jakash said on January 8, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    “Call me when she takes her own photo off the cover of her magazine every month.” Yep, that was a brilliant, well-delivered speech (though I could have done without the shouting at the end), but I seem to have the same attitude toward O as Julie has, with the apparent egomania being the biggest problem. But you don’t get to be somebody like her without having an ego, granted.

    Watching an awards show like that (we always watch the Globes, Emmys and Oscars, Lord help us) is something that actually makes me feel like the clueless old white man that Cooz loves to paint so many of us here as. Another year where I’d never *heard* of so many of the nominated TV shows, for instance, let alone watched them. There’s a lot to be said for the cutting of the cable, but when the result is that you need to pay $8 to $15 a month to 5 different entities to keep up with all the quality stuff that’s being fire-hosed at us these days, I’m not sure that’s a net win. Aside from that, at one point I found myself thinking, “Boy, if a liberal, culturally elite snowflake like me finds some of this self-aggrandizing, victory-lap speechifying to be a bit much, I can only imagine what the fabled coal miner in West Virginia would think, were he to even know that the Golden Globes existed.”

    I used to kinda like Susan Sarandon — I wonder if I’ll ever see her again and not be pissed off about her attitude toward Hillary, rather than focusing on whatever she’s doing at the time.

    Wow, Adrianne, that *is* astonishing — that *this* court would actually do the right thing. And the holder of the stolen seat — who should never be on the court in the first place — sided with Clarence Thomas, the patron saint of the anti-MeToo gang, by objecting? Well, that’s not astonishing at all…

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  82. Judybusy said on January 8, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    I don’t want Oprah to run either. As someone said here ages ago, when we still thought no way could Trump win, the Presidency is not an entry-level job.

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  83. susan said on January 8, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    I’d rather Oprah put her money into the progressive/liberal pot, than be in the pot herself. She is too attracted to woo. Would Dr. Oz be head of HHS? Or would that be Dr. Phil? And then there is… Big Woo himself, Deepak Chopra. Plus she has no government background. Government is NOT a business. Don’t we see that now?

    Oh jeezo, nope nope nope nope.

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  84. Jolene said on January 8, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    For the sake of argument, I’ll say that I think we could do far worse than having Oprah as president and, further, that I see few better alternatives. That’s not to say that I think none of the plausible Dems could be effective as president, but, so far at least, they are a pretty uninspiring lot.

    Oprah has encountered pretty much every form of human misery and experienced a few of them herself, yet she remains optimistic about what people can do for themselves and to make the world better.

    She has a long history of organization-building, which means that she knows how to plan and how to recruit and guide people to accomplish goals far beyond what any individual could achieve acting alone. This speaks well of the appointments she might make and her ability to work through and with both her supporters and political opponents.

    She seems to believe deeply in creating circumstances and opportunities to give people their best shot, and she inspires people to take on challenges.

    No one could accomplish what she has without an exceptional willingness and ability to learn. I don’t think we would be hearing stories about her unwillingness to read a briefing book or even listen to someone briefing her about important issues if she were in charge.

    Am not saying I think this is the direction we should go, but, again, we could do worse—as we currently are.

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  85. Jolene said on January 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    “Too attracted to woo.”

    This, I agree with, but I think it’s a low level failing.

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  86. Icarus said on January 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    If Oprah runs, can Ellen be her running mate?

    or Stephen Cobert, Trevor Noah, or John Oliver?

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  87. Julie Robinson said on January 8, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Yep, too attracted to woo. And she gave Dr. Phil his start. Ick. I don’t follow Ellen too closely, not that I do Oprah either, but my impression of her is of a puppy dog who wants everyone to like her. Given what she’s been through, it’s understandable, but not what we need from a politician.

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  88. Jakash said on January 8, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    So, we have a disastrous Presidency, largely courtesy of this country’s very unfortunate infatuation with celebrity. And the best idea we can come up with is replacing “their” celebrity with “our” celebrity? I can’t believe this is where we’re at. Jolene makes some fine points @ 84. There’s no question in my mind that she’d be a better celebrity president than the Cheetoh-in-Chief. But, holy-moly, I really, really hope there are other alternatives than that, and that the Presidency in this country doesn’t boil down to “Who’ll turn out to vote for ‘their’ celebrity?” And, yeah, the woo is worrisome…

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  89. susan said on January 8, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    As Atrios wrote, “Describe a single policy-related view held by Oprah.”

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  90. Bruce Fields said on January 8, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I haven’t forgiven Oprah for this yet.

    I guess I’d choose her over Trump, but please don’t make have to.

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  91. Peter said on January 8, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Best line I’ve heard: Day one of the Oprah Presidency: “You get health insurance, and you get health insurance, and you get health insurance….”

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  92. LAMary said on January 8, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Anti-vax, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil who else? Nuh-uh.

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  93. Jeff Borden said on January 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    I’d be very happy to never see another unqualified celebrity seek the highest office in the land. Just as I’d be very happy to never see another unqualified moneybags purchase a political office as their latest bauble.

    In Illinois, which is in absolutely horrible financial shape, the gubernatorial race will give me the choice of voting for incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner, a multi-millionaire former investment banker with nine houses scattered around the world, or J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire financier and hotel magnate (Hyatt), who has never even been a township trustee. Some fucking choice.

    We’ve been backing a state senator named Daniel Biss, but he literally has no chance. Both Democratic sitting senators have endorsed Pritzker and most Dems are falling into line, though others are still clinging to Chris Kennedy, the son of RFK but, quite honestly, a rather dim bulb. And also rich, of course.

    What a sad fucking state of affairs.

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  94. Sherri said on January 8, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    There are many reasons I don’t want Oprah as President. That’s why I began my comment by saying I didn’t. Despite her love of woo, though, I think she gets discounted unfairly where a white male celebrity wouldn’t, an Alex Baldwin or a Matt Damon. I don’t want either of them as President, either.

    Oprah isn’t just a celebrity, but a CEO of a media company that she built; CEOs running for office without political experience is certainly not out of the mainstream. I don’t want her as President, but I’m no more dismissive of her than Mark Zuckerberg.

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