More rakes please.

“There are hells below this” is something Neil Steinberg says from time to time. (It seems like it’s a phrase from Shakespeare or something, but when I google? It’s all him.) It’s a more elegant flip on the one lesson I learned from the newspaper game: Never say it can’t get any worse. It can always get worse. And usually does.

Anyway, this past week has been a new, deeper hell, in term of our national situation. By the time the president was rambling, exactly like a dementia-afflicted senior citizen, about raking the forest floor? I no longer had the spirit to even grimly chuckle. The president is deferred to, always — it’s one of the perks of the job — but I can only hope that sometimes, somewhere, there is someone in the White House who is brave enough to correct him.

What am I saying? Of course no one does such a thing. They just write anonymous op-eds in the New York Times.

Happy end-of-weekend, all. Ours went pretty well. After the dinner/cake thing in A2, I took Alan out for a peaceful Saturday breakfast, since any birthday when you have to work isn’t much of a birthday at all, in my opinion. Stopped by John King Books — a five- or six-floor temple of used ones — and bought four novels, in an attempt to rekindle my interest in the concept of reading for pleasure. Cheated with one that I’d already read, but it was long ago and at least I know the author (Martin Cruz Smith) is reliably pleasing to me. I also got a hardcover of “All the Light We Cannot See” and am hoping for the best. Also, did you know Elmore Leonard published a YA novel? No? Me neither. So I added that to the stack. Simplicity and brevity will do me good in the weeks ahead.

After John King there were chicken tacos, which I mention because I know how much you guys need to know that. And then it was “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” the new Coen brothers movie that premiered in theaters last week before immediately hopping to Netflix. It was daffy and funny and I recommend it, especially if you’re a Coen fan.

One more thing before I hop to the bloggage: I followed some of the discussion of My Pants over the weekend. I found McEwan’s take interesting, but maybe not entirely convincing. For My Pants to rise, phoenix-like, from Trump’s ashes is no small task. He’ll have evangelicals, of course, but even moderate Republicans are going to be put off by the montages of Pence clapping, smiling and looking his oleaginous, toadying self next to POTUS. That first cabinet meeting alone should suffice, but we’re in a different place now, bets off, but I have a feeling. He’s the only person connected to this White House who I find almost as repellant at Trump himself. And that is saying a lot. I can’t believe the same suburban women who voted for Trump hoping for the best (and flipped blue in the midterms) would fall for this guy.

OK, then: Your greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts story today is this one, about a fake-news farm that doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and the people who continue to believe what they publish, even when, for example, he publishes something like this:

He noticed a photo online of Trump standing at attention for the national anthem during a White House ceremony. Behind the president were several dozen dignitaries, including a white woman standing next to a black woman, and Blair copied the picture, circled the two women in red and wrote the first thing that came into his mind.

“President Trump extended an olive branch and invited Michelle Obama and Chelsea Clinton,” Blair wrote. “They thanked him by giving him ‘the finger’ during the national anthem. Lock them up for treason!”

Blair finished typing and looked again at the picture. The white woman was not in fact Chelsea Clinton but former White House strategist Hope Hicks. The black woman was not Michelle Obama but former Trump aide Omarosa Newman. Neither Obama nor Clinton had been invited to the ceremony. Nobody had flipped off the president. The entire premise was utterly ridiculous, which was exactly Blair’s point.

The story hits another gear when they visit one of those individuals who spends all day on Facebook, liking and sharing stuff like this because she thinks it’s true. The mournful violin strains of “Eleanor Rigby” began to play in my head, reading this:

It was barely dawn in Pahrump, Nev., when Shirley Chapian, 76, logged onto Facebook for her morning computer game of Criminal Case. She believed in starting each day with a problem-solving challenge, a quick mental exercise to keep her brain sharp more than a decade into retirement. For a while it had been the daily crossword puzzle, but then the local newspaper stopped delivering and a friend introduced her to the viral Facebook game with 65 million players. She spent an hour as a 1930s detective, interrogating witnesses and trying to parse their lies from the truth until finally she solved case No. 48 and clicked over to her Facebook news feed.

…On her computer the attack against America was urgent and unrelenting. Liberals were restricting free speech. Immigrants were storming the border and casting illegal votes. Politicians were scheming to take away everyone’s guns. “The second you stop paying attention, there’s another travesty underway in this country,” Chapian once wrote, in her own Facebook post, so she had decided to always pay attention, sometimes scrolling and sharing for hours at a time.

..She’d spent almost a decade in Pahrump without really knowing why. The heat could be unbearable. She had no family in Nevada. She loved going to movies, and the town of 30,000 didn’t have a theater. It seemed to her like a place in the business of luring people — into the air-conditioned casinos downtown, into the legal brothels on the edge of the desert, into the new developments of cheap housing available for no money down — and in some ways she’d become stuck, too.

Apologies for the long excerpt, but it’s worth breaking my three-paragraph rule for this one. If you have a lonely older person in your life, ask them to lunch. All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

There’s a guy here in Metro Detroit, a civilian who knows the Affordable Care Act better than most legislators. I follow him on the tweeter machine. He recently published a spreadsheet of the “AHCA Class of 2017,” i.e., those legislators who voted to repeal Obamacare and just ran for re-election. This is a one-stop shop to find out the electoral fate of all 217 House Republicans. Most were re-elected, but enough weren’t that it’s worth checking out.

And with that? I’m off to the gym and grocery.

Posted at 12:34 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

83 responses to “More rakes please.”

  1. Jakash said on November 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    “like it’s a phrase from Shakespeare or something” Mr. Steinberg is a big Dante fan. I believe “There are hells below this” is an allusion to The Inferno, which he occasionally refers to.

    “She’d spent almost a decade in Pahrump without really knowing why.” That would seem to go hand-in-hand with the woman’s analytical wizardry with regard to what the travesties underway in this country actually are…

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  2. brian stouder said on November 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Our weekend plans were ‘derailed’, so-to-speak, in Owosso

    My next-oldest brother is retiring from Norfolk-Southern, and the plan was to depart at 4 in the morning this morning, and meet up with everyone (other brothers and wives and so on) and take a charter bus from Pioneer, Ohio to Owosso, MI, and then go for a train-ride tour (with meal and goodies) up to Ashley, MI (and back)…..

    So, after Pammy got that wee-hour news on her cell-phone, it was roll-over-and-go-back-to-sleep time.

    But in the light of day, the news is rather more depressing(!)

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  3. Sherri said on November 18, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    I went to a party Friday night for the retiring ED of the ACLU of Washington, Kathleen Taylor. Anthony Romero, the national ED was there, and told the story of getting a memo 15 years ago from Kathleen with a detailed 10 year plan to legalize marijuana in Washington. We’re in the middle of the Bush years and the Patriot Act and Iraq, and he thinks she’s nuts. Of course, she was right; in 2012, Washington legalized marijuana, with the ACLU of Washington playing a prominent role.

    Kathleen became the ED in 1980 at age 29, taking over an organization with 2 staff members and in debt. Now it’s the 5th largest chapter in the country. She’s incredible.

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  4. Diane said on November 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    This may be a first for me-I had actually read that article before seeing Nancy’s post! The thing that floored me was this:
    “’Nothing on this page is real,’read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, reinforcing people’s biases…”

    What is it that is making people so desperate to believe this ugly blatant nonsense? I don’t think it is stupidity and I’m certainly not advocating for another two years of the press following every blue collar white male in Ohio around. I am regretfully coming to the conclusion that it is just old fashioned racism in its desperate, final (I hope) death throes.

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  5. Jeff Borden said on November 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Neil Steinberg is one of a very few columnists who are genuine intellectuals. He is well read, well traveled and well educated, but he’s also terribly human, which makes him a great read most every day. Considering that Chicago was once seen as the greatest newspaper city in the nation with the finest columnists and writers, the vast majority of his columnizing colleagues are, at best, blah and, at worst, angry old white men yelling at clouds. (Yeah, I’m referring to John [the K is silent] Kass.)

    A Bloomberg political writer was musing the other day about how much crazier life in ‘Murica is about to get now that the Orange King faces a hostile House of Representatives and the Mueller probe grinds ever onward. He’s a basket case even when his team controls all three areas of government, but now, he’ll be dicing with Nancy Pelosi and company. Are there hells below this one? Oh, hell yes. I shudder to think just how much worse things will get.

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  6. Suzanne said on November 18, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    And on the heels of our beloved leader’s debacle in CA talking about how people just need to rake the mountainous forests and how he wants good climate, he tweets this:

    Can it get worse? It already has.

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  7. alex said on November 18, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I read the Blair piece before it got linked here also.

    My take? While there may be people stupid enough to believe this shit, I think there are even more who know it’s bullshit but love repeating it in order to A) seek out fellow travelers and B) troll the “libtards.” B is a game of mischief. They’re having fun at your expense when they get you to engage them seriously with a bogus argument and expend energy on it. They’re making you show them respect while they’re disrespecting you. It’s a sick power trip really.

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  8. Suzanne said on November 18, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    “They’re having fun at your expense when they get you to engage them seriously with a bogus argument and expend energy on it.”
    True but sadly, I don’t think most of them are astute enough to realize that it’s not just a game. Real people get hurt in real time. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

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  9. David C. said on November 18, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    With any luck, we’re about to get to painting #4 with our rake.

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  10. brian stouder said on November 18, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Well, in a more general sense, this is why I will never vote for – say – Oprah Winfrey for president; the presidency is not the place for a political career to start.

    One could say “Eisenhower had no political office before his presidency” (nor did US Grant) – and indeed, I’d concede making exceptions for military leaders who successfully lead the nation through existential crises, if only because such (hopefully rare!) peple are used to dealing with very large and complex challenges, and working with people, and listening – rather than simply deciding things based on who-knows-what

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  11. Deborah said on November 18, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    David C, we’re going to the Sir John Soane house and museum next month on our trip to London, at Lincoln Inn Fields, My husband has been there before as Soane was an architect, but somehow (?) I never made it there. Looking forward to going there this time.

    My husband is shopping for a new coat, we went to a few places today, wow everything is so expensive. He’s looking for something that will last him at least 20 years (he’ll be 91 then).

    We’re about to watch another Katherine Hepburn / Spencer Tracy film tonight, I think this one might be Pat and Mike, last night we watched Desk Set.

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  12. alex said on November 18, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Deborah, I just heard a rave review from friends about Le Petit Paris on Chestnut. Is that one of your haunts? I haven’t had good French food in a long time and want to try it one of these days. Years ago I was a big fan of the Burgundy Inn–it was either on Ashland or Western–but it went out of business. Dingy old place with fabulous food and it had been there forever.

    Family in town this week and today I made a dozen prosciutto-wrapped chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes to be accompanied by marsala mushroom sauce. Instead of cooking marsala I used real marsala and now I’m concerned that the sauce is a bit cloyingly sweet. This is for tomorrow’s dinner.

    Other than having to bring a potluck dish on Thursday I’m off the hook as far as cooking goes this week. Gonna just enjoy.

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  13. ROGirl said on November 19, 2018 at 4:33 am

    This is a good explanation of why some Trump followers believe the lies even when they know they’re not true.

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  14. Suzanne said on November 19, 2018 at 6:34 am

    Disagree with the article, ROGirl. I know from experience that many people in my circle here in rural parts DO believe what they are saying. My elderly mother, for example. If asked, she probably couldn’t tell you the difference between a lib and a conservative but she believed that the ACA would bring death panels and that Obama was born in Kenya. Her sister believes the same. The woman I know who says she is worried about her husband because he stockpiled guns in their basement since he was scared Hillary would win and stop all gun sales. The guy I work with who genuinely thinks Hillary was so unhealthy she would never have lived through her term had she won and who also took out a loan to buy bitcoin on the advice of Glenn Beck (he also told me he is stocking up on freeze dried meals, just in case. Again, Glenn Beck). I run into these people every day.
    The politicians and conservative talking heads may be trolling the libs, but for far too many “real Americans” it isn’t trolling. They believe every word of the lies that are spread.

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  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 19, 2018 at 7:04 am

    An already common bumper sticker in these parts, put up next to the “Molon labe” decal, is “Trump 2020: Make liberals cry again.”

    Kent is probably the best working journalist in this county, and I hope he stays at work for a while yet; he wrote this piece about the odd plight of Democrats generally in a place where union membership was once large and a D wasn’t always a death sentence at the polls. Lots of interesting Facebook discussions between adherents of both parties about how this has come to pass, and what it would take to make more local races non-partisan:

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  16. Jolene said on November 19, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Suzanne, where do you live?

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  17. Suzanne said on November 19, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Rural Northeast Indiana

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  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 19, 2018 at 7:23 am

    My real opinion on fake news is that the internet in this as in most things hasn’t brought us anything new, but has increased both the speed and intensity of what’s always been around.

    Ask any clergyperson my age or older about Madalyn Murray O’Hair and television; every few weeks in the 70s & 80s a new person would toddle up to us brandishing a sheet of paper with blue mimeograph lettering that they’d been handed or gotten in the mail, asking us to take a stand on her campaign to bar religious groups through from the air through an FCC petition. We’d explain that this was in error, there was a 1974 petition about a different issue that O’Hair had nothing to do with, and hear “oh, but this came to me from [person I respect] and I really think we should do something with it.” Then it started showing up in early e-mail forwards, and folks would get peevish if I’d point out O’Hair was dead.

    Mimeo hand-arounds back in the 70s & 80s included “English only” campaigns and vile racist twaddle about sickle cell anemia and the ubiquitous chain letter with my first sightings of Nigerian princes. And in the religious vein, they also proposed hard dates and specific times for the return of Christ in glory. Mixing them up, I saw quite a few that tried to tie together ancient Indian curses (Tecumseh was popular) and the every twenty year deaths of U.S. Presidents . . . and after ’81, even odder claims about the divine role of Ronald Reagan after he survived the curse set for whomever was elected in 1980, when he lived through Hinckley’s volley.

    And stuff like this recent attempt to say the right thing with the wrong picture, which has frustrated some of my friends online when I send this link back to them after they message me to post their version of what “really” happened on Veterans Day at Arlington – – but I saw grainy mimeo versions of photos putting Nixon and Carter and Reagan in odd and unlikely locations.

    So I think we’ve always had plenty of people whose belief system is exactly what they want it to be, proudly independent of external information inconvenient for their assumptions. And they’ve handed around woodcuts in the 1700s and steel engravings in the 1800s and mimeographed pages in the 1900s. It’s just that they can create sludge faster, and jam it in the virtual mailboxes of more people with great abandon. It ain’t new, though.

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  19. ROGirl said on November 19, 2018 at 7:47 am

    I don’t disagree that there are people who believe the shit, but there are some who know it’s shit and don’t disavow it.

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  20. alex said on November 19, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Suzanne, there’s certainly no shortage of people dumb enough to get swindled by Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, but they’re different than educated and well-heeled staunch Republicans who pay lip service to bullshit rhetoric but know better. The latter are the sort of Republican Amanda Marcotte is talking about.

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  21. Suzanne said on November 19, 2018 at 8:11 am

    I watched a documentary on Jim Jones & the Jonestown massacre this weekend (and then had trouble sleeping). If, like you say, Alex, the upper crust GOP sorts are paying lip service to the spewed BS because of the power it brings, the parallels between Trumpism & a cult like Jones’s are even creepier. I’ve read a couple of books on Jones. His inner circle, the leadership of Peoples Temple, knew he was a fraud, an addict, and engaged in all sorts of dubious activities, but they stuck with him because he brought the results they wanted. Many stayed with him until the end, along with all those who willingly killed themselves for “Father”, even though they knew what he really was.
    I am up in the air, here, as to whether or not those well-heeled Republicans who wink at the garbage spewed out there & enjoy the outrage it causes the libs, really grasp how many people out here in areas of the country they would never live (or even visit often) believe that garbage with their hearts and souls and, like Jones’s people, would be willing to act if called on to do so.

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  22. Sherri said on November 19, 2018 at 9:09 am

    I think that the number of people who know better is smaller than we’d like to think. We might think that outraging the libs is their point, but I suspect it’s just happy side effect for most of them, the point being they really do believe a lot of this shit at core.

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  23. Peter said on November 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

    I always have a hard time determining if certain people, such as Trump, are evil or stupid (of course, not thinking that they can be both).

    This whole Pence story got me thinking that he’s on the evil side – sure, he makes stupid statements all of the time, say 20-30 a day. But I think you have to have some brains and cunning to contemplate pitching your vice president, who must be a butter suck-up and toady than any of your kids or wives, and will say whatever you want him to say, in order to bring on a woman to try to get back some of that sweet suburban vote.

    Then again, does he really think the soccer moms are going to vote for him now because he has someone they can identify with in the no. 2 spot? Back to him being dumb.

    Then again, rumor has it that he’ll want Nikki Haley. But what about Snowzilla? She’s available, she’s almost as good at lying as Kellyanne, and the RWNJ loves her. Back to evil.

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  24. Deborah said on November 19, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Alex, I guess I walk past Le Petit Paris every single day and have never noticed it before. It appears to be in a tall white high rise building that we see catty (kitty?) corner from our building, I knew there was a restaurant in it and have passed a neon sign with the name of the restaurant but it has never registered. We’ll have to check it out one of these days. I usually think of myself as an observant person but there seems to be much that I see but don’t think about, there’s a lot of stuff vying for attention in the city. I think what I want to think and notice what I want to notice, when I walk around town. Which sort of brings me to the latest subject in this thread about gullibility and people wearing blinders, being duped easily, I honestly think it has something to do with brain chemistry or DNA.

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  25. Lois Marquart said on November 19, 2018 at 9:52 am

    “All the Light we Cannot See” is a great read!

    Contact me at this address about your former neighbor hair dresser.

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  26. Julie Robinson said on November 19, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Concur on All the Light We Cannot See with the caveat that it’s very sad. Very, very sad. I’ve had to cut back on my heavy reading right now to protect my mental health. Between the state of the world, the state of my mother’s health, and my annual SAD attack, what appeals to me right now is Ellie Kemper’s My Squirrel Days. It’s a cleansing breath.

    So I couldn’t watch the Jim Jones show, though I did listen to a few things about books I’d already read.

    My mom is one of those lonely people, and with her health deteriorating just doing her shopping is getting more difficult. We’re exploring grocery delivery services, but going to the store means moving and interacting and making decisions, and those are all positives. The little losses are hard to see.

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  27. nancy said on November 19, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Interesting conversation this morning. I echo what Jeff said about the weird samizdat that circulates in many circles; I hadn’t really encountered it on a wide scale until I moved to Indiana. The one that always floored me were the cassette tapes, which were peddled by every gimcrack preacher and religious nonprofit under the sun, and they weren’t cheap, either. I can’t imagine putting on a sermon for easy listening, although I know many do; I once heard one coming from a African-American woman’s vehicle that, in the course of one stoplight, taught me more about black life than five NYT think pieces.

    (Marilyn Quayle was raised in one of these houses, as I recall. The preacher her parents were devoted to had a strange idea about male/female sex organs, and how they had to have a “snug fit” for a marriage to work. Whatever.)

    Anyway, I go back and forth over whether these people believe the bullshit they’re fed. I make it a point to belong to certain FB groups, and follow various individuals, just so I can hear how they speak to one another. It’s pretty mixed, but I’m simply amazed — amazed, I tell you — by how many of these folks in northern Michigan can’t believe their senator/governor candidate must have lost because the vote in Wayne County/Detroit was cooked somehow. After all, all their friends voted like them; how could one county be so lopsided the other way? Never mind that it has 100 times the population of whatever rural outpost they’re dug into.

    The latest is this guy, in California, who made some reference to the government having nukes, in a Twitter conversation about an assault-weapon ban. They’re going apeshit on far-right social media. “Buy an AR-15 if you haven’t already,” etc.

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  28. Peter said on November 19, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Nancy, I can relate to the samizdat issue.

    I apologize if I wrote this before: when I was a young college student I worked part time at a large architectural firm that had it’s own engineering department.

    One day one of the mechanical engineers struck up a conversation with me about current events. He said that I looked like someone who was interested in the truth; I said sure (what, I like reading lies?) and he gave me an article to read, but told me I should read it when I’m on the toilet.

    Well, I followed his advice, and when I started to read the article, I noticed that the next page had a picture of a HUGE areola (at least 2x actual size…)

    So after the toilet break I asked him: “So, Julius, what magazine did you cut this article out of?”


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  29. Andrea said on November 19, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Alex, you might like to try Chez Joel French bistro if you are in Chicago.

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  30. Sherri said on November 19, 2018 at 11:11 am

    This is what Republicans are:

    Our Constitution works on a set of assumptions about the country, assumptions which no longer hold. This is creating an unstable situation. I honestly don’t know how this can resolve. People decry polarization, like the problem is that we’ve retreated into teams, but the Republicans are demonstrating that polarization is not about bubbles and echo chambers, it’s about a clash of values. Once, even when I disagreed with Republicans on policy, I could identify values we shared, though we might differ on how those values were implemented. Now, I find it harder to find values I share with Republicans, as they cross more and more lines.

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  31. brian stouder said on November 19, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Sherri – couldn’t agree more.

    And you know what that one guy said, 155 years ago today. (‘course, he referenced the Declaration of Independence, as it sets the bar – which we were short of then – but we digress!)

    I bet #45 has no earthly idea, at all

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  32. Julie Robinson said on November 19, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Whenever I think there can’t possibly be people who believe the ridiculous dreck, I think of my uncle in Iowa. His doctorate, hundreds of patents, and textbook authorship in the engineering of crystal electronics have not provided him with discernment in non-scientific areas. In fact, he doesn’t have discernment in many scientific areas either, since one of his deeply held beliefs is that the world is 5000 years old.

    It’s goes without saying he subscribes to all the above-mentioned crap. My trip there this summer was a supreme self sacrifice to take my mom there one last time.

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  33. Alan Stamm said on November 19, 2018 at 11:43 am

    “All the Light We Cannot See” will uphold your hope, I predict.

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  34. Deborah said on November 19, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    One of the whack-o things my RWNJ sister has said: that Republicans don’t really want people of color to vote because POC want the government to give them stuff as they’re too lazy to work for it, then when they do manage to vote they go for Democrats because Dems are weak and give POC what they want. She thinks that’s why the debt and deficit are so high. She probably didn’t use those exact words but that’s the gist of it for her. She’s perfectly content with voter suppression. I haven’t spoken to her since before Trump came to power so I don’t really know what she has to say about the state of things. I hope she has changed but I doubt it.

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  35. Scout said on November 19, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    A Finnish scientist weighs in on Dipsy Donnie’s hilarious ‘rake the forest’ stupidity.

    On Twitter @itsJeffTiedrich gets to the crux of the biscuit.

    “rake the forest floor” is the brain-vomit of a mediocre man who misremembers something he once half-heard and never fully understood at the time but now considers himself an expert on the subject and oh, the absolute and serene confidence of a moron is indeed a thing to behold

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  36. Suzanne said on November 19, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    People like this are out there:
    I truly do. Or think someone like this is trolling the libs. I think he believes this

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  37. Deborah said on November 19, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Lots going on in the next few days so I don’t know if I will be able to visit nn.c, although probably will have time at Midway tomorrow morning where we’ll be for our flight out to NM, but you never know. If I don’t get to say this, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your feasts aren’t punctured with assholes and may you feel hopeful about the future. I’m not sure what we have to be thankful for except of course life and adult beverages.

    We made our travel plans for December in London and Paris today. Of course this could all change tomorrow but right now it’s on and very exciting.

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  38. brian stouder said on November 19, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Deborah – here’s wishing you and yours safe travels, excellent meals, and pleasurable family interactions, without exception!

    And indeed – same to all y’all other NN.cers, too!

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  39. Dexter Friend said on November 19, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    My friend Tom the school principal and I used to go to Ann Arbor once in a while back in the middle 80’s to browse record stores and always stop in at David’s used books store on State St. Then it moved to Williams St. and then the owner got convicted of being the brains of a scam in which he hired drug addicts to steal textbooks from other bookstores and sell them online , or something like that. The first location was above Potbelly’s Sandwich Shoppe, you had to climb stairs, and discover the treasure of thousands of books. Tom was a real bookworm, but also frugal, and he’d agonize horribly over which few books to settle upon. ~ My daughter’s step-daughter lives in Pahrump, Nevada… has a boyfriend and a kid, my, what a wonderful place to live. Furnace hot, legal whorehouses in town, limited work opportunities, but somehow they survive. ~ By all means, watch “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” I loved all the vignettes but one, the finale, which was ultimately scary and odd. It is a remarkable film alright. Also, one more plug for Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”. It just gets better every year. A sassy rich character played by Susan Sarandon spices up the cake. And also, Patricia Arquette is stunningly brilliant as Tilly, the prison supervisor who aided the two convicts in “Escape at Dannemora”, chronicling the 2015 escapes. Paul Dano and especially Benicio del Toro are just remarkable in their roles.

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  40. Dexter Friend said on November 19, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    Cop shot, Mercy Hospital area, Chicago

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  41. David C. said on November 19, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    I worked with a guy who came to work all cranked up after every other Wednesday men’s bible study at his church. Oh, they stories they came up with and things went into overdrive after Obama was elected. Once he came in with some piece of nonsense about Obama. I showed him it was wrong and he said that although it may have been factually wrong is was essentially correct. Which I guess meant he didn’t do it, but it’s something he would do. I wish I knew how to deal with that, but I’ve never figured it out.

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  42. Heather said on November 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    David C.–and this from the “facts don’t care about your feelings” crowd, no less.

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  43. Brendan said on November 20, 2018 at 5:42 am

    Hey (long time…long time). Catching up here for first time in a while inspired by an Austin Klein post. Life goals: NND blog. Kudos.

    Last night Lynn and I watched a special on Daniel Ellsberg (on YouTube via Fire, so don’t ask). Amazing fucking story. There’s an insider who had real balls. He put his ass out way over the line on that. I was reminded by thinking about all the Trump stuff and your comment about anonymous OpEd’s. We need a Daniel Ellsberg now.

    But my long-winded point is that at the base of what Ellsberg did was real analysis – facts as compiled by The Rand Corp. None of that story (arguably the one that led to RMN resignation) had there not been a fact basis of the history of Vietnam. Which begged the question in my mind: Who is trusted anymore of the fact basis of anything? Whether a Dan Ellsberg exists in our world today or not, would it matter if there is no reliable fact basis of record of anything?


    Confused in Trumpland (aka Brendan)

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  44. Bitter Scribe said on November 20, 2018 at 9:57 am

    These “parody news sites” are all over the place, and I’m sorry, but I find them unamusing and pointless. For one thing, they’re done without humor; they’re basically unfunny versions of The Onion. This guy can claim until he’s blue in the face that he’s “trolling” conservatives, but by now he’s well aware that too many people believe his shit, so why does he keep doing it? I understand, everyone has to make a living and this guy has failed at other stuff, but pumping poisonous bilge into cyberspace is like pumping toxins into the air or water. It’s destructive in the long term, and it’s a jerkass way to make money.

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  45. basset said on November 20, 2018 at 10:51 am

    And there is always something worse. The worst year ever was… maybe not what you’d expect:

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  46. Sherri said on November 20, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Senator Fucking Piece of Shit strikes again.

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  47. susan said on November 20, 2018 at 11:47 am

    And who do we have as a firewall against Sen McA$$hole? Sen. Schumer. Great. Why didn’t Democrats go after Schumer as minority “leader” instead of going after Pelosi as speaker? At least she has accomplished real things (ACA). Schumer is all about that bi-partisan caving. I want to smack those stupid half-glasses off his ƒü¢king face.

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  48. Sherri said on November 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Because the Dems coming after Pelosi are just as much about bipartisan caving as Schumer.

    And because Schumer isn’t a woman.

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  49. JodiP said on November 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Deborah, have a blast in London and Paris. While in Paris, check out Le Vache Piano, a great bar near the Sorbonne where we saw amazing music. On Mondays, they have a trio that plays Gypsy jazz, which was super fun. Soooo, that trip to London and Paris would be something to be thankful for, n’est pas?

    Basset, the first year I thought of for Worst Year Ever was 1349. I will have to check out another source for 536 CE. The link was firewalled.

    I’m thankful for a lot. Sometimes I think I’m too optimistic, but part of it is that years of practicing social has taught me you must pay attention to the good in a very focused way, or you drown. I also know the way ahead is fraught and by no means guaranteed. And F.U. to McConnell for not bringing that bill to a vote!

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  50. Deborah said on November 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    We arrived in NM after a lot of extra stress getting here.

    JodiP, I’d gladly forgo our trip to London and Paris in December if by doing so Trump/Pence would be out of their jobs. Ha ha.

    What would the rest of you be willing to give up?

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  51. Sherri said on November 20, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    The sexual harassment I put up with was pretty mild. Gender harassment, on the other hand…

    For many women scientists, the emphasis on the term “gender harassment” in a major report on sexual harassment in science published this summer came as something of a revelation.

    Defined as “verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey hostility, objectification, exclusion or second-class status,” it is far more common in science settings, the report said, than forms of harassment like sexual coercion or unwanted touching: less often a come-on than a put-down.

    Still happens. Regularly.

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  52. FDChief said on November 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Scene: Office of the Prime Minister of Finland, November 9, 2018. Day.

    Prime Minister Sipilä (putting his phone down on the desk): “So I’m supposed to go to this dinner after the ceremonies on November 11th. It looks like they’ve got me sitting one seat down from the U.S. President. Any suggestions for table talk?”

    Secretary Juntunen: “Wellll…he’s supposed to be a “populist” and a dealmaker. Maybe you can ask him to see if his pal Putin will talk some import-export deals. Or maybe he’d be interested in a new phone? Nokia will cut us a sweetheart deal.”

    PM: “Nah. Boring. I can do that anywhere. I want something different. Something funny. Hey…I tell you what – I’m gonna tell him that we rake our forests.”

    Juntunen: Rake our…whaaaat? C’mon, be serious. I’ve heard the stories, but surely he’s not stupid enough to buy THAT.”

    PM: “Heh. Watch and learn.”

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  53. Jolene said on November 20, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    The Post just published a story about Nancy Pelosi’s fight to become Speaker of the House that contains some fascinating–and horrifying–details re events in Ohio that helped to eliminate her most likely competitor.

    The background: This past weekend, in a Cleveland suburb, a former judge murdered his estranged wife–another one of the way too many deaths of women at the hands of their current or former intimate partners. It’s a terrible story. In her picture, at least, the murdered woman looks very appealing. She had been an elementary school teacher for 16 years and had two children, ages 8 and 11.

    Four years ago, she was severely beaten by her husband, and he was sentenced to two years in prison, but served only nine months. Upon release, he was given a good job in Cleveland city government. Without saying so directly, the news article describing her death suggests that this relatively lenient sentence and the soft landing after his release were a result of support from powerful friends in local government.

    Now comes the story announcing that Marcia Fudge, the representative for that part of Ohio and the person who Pelosi’s critics had hoped would run against her, has withdrawn and thrown her support to Pelosi. Part of the wheeling and dealing involves an aboveboard offer of a subcommittee chairmanship for Fudge, but another part involved the likelihood that her public profile would be undermined by the revelation that she had written in support of the murderous judge when he was sentenced for assault several years ago.

    Ain’t it amazing what turns out to be connected to what?

    Here’s the story re the murdered woman.

    Here’s the story re the connection between Fudge, the murder in Cleveland, and Pelosi.

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  54. Jolene said on November 20, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Is the longish post that I put up an hour or so ago in moderation?

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  55. Dexter Friend said on November 20, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Above in the comments I mentioned Pahrump, Nevada, where my daughter’s husband’s adult daughter lives. The daughter leaves the baby with baby daddy and goes with the family to The Smith Center in Las Vegas for The Lion King.
    . She stays in Las Vegas overnight with her dad and goes home to Pahrump in the morning. The house is trashed, the baby and baby daddy are gone, and a note informs her that he is gone for good, moved into another place already, and has already started custody proceedings to keep the baby away from her, the mother of the baby. Baby daddy had hired a spy as he suspected sexual monkey business on the mother’s part. Happy Thanksgiving. ~

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  56. basset said on November 20, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Sorry about that, JodiP@59. Here’s an excerpt:

    The Queen once identified 1992 as her “annus horribilis”. Others have suggested that 1349, when the Black Death was wiping out half of Europe, marked something of a low point in our history.

    Now, though, historians and scientists believe that they have found the worst year to have been alive: AD536. Analysis of atmospheric pollutants trapped in ice extracted from a glacier in the Swiss-Italian Alps suggests that this was the start of a cataclysmic run of global misfortune. “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” Professor Michael McCormick of Harvard University said in the journal Science.

    The analysis suggests that early in 536 a volcanic eruption in Iceland spread ash across the northern hemisphere. Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia fell into darkness. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote the historian Procopius.
    Justinian I ruled the Eastern Roman Empire in AD536, the year the “sun gave forth its light without brightness”

    Crops failed from Scandinavia to Mesopotamia. “It would have made places very cold very quickly and would have been most felt in Britain and northwestern Europe,” said Professor Christopher Loveluck of the University of Nottingham. This was only the start.

    Two more climate-cooling eruptions followed, in 540 and 547. In 541 an outbreak of bubonic plague, known as the Plague of Justinian, emerged in the port of Pelusium in Egypt and went on to kill as much as half of the population of the Byzantine — or Eastern Roman — Empire, according to Dr Kyle Harper of the University of Oklahoma. The Western Roman Empire had fallen less than a century earlier. “In Britain the cities, the administrative support, they come apart,” he said. “It was the first Brexit and it was not entirely peaceful.”

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  57. Sherri said on November 21, 2018 at 9:54 am

    An African-American man accompanies a white woman and child into a frozen yogurt shop. He sits at a nearby table while they eat froyo, but he doesn’t order anything. He spends the next 30 minutes looking at stuff on his phone and looking around.

    The two young women working in the shop feel uncomfortable about this, and call the owner, who calls 911. The cops come out and tell him he needs to leave, even though they find out he’s there to supervise the visit between the mother and child.

    Oh, the excuses people come up with to claim that race had nothing to do with this situation:

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  58. Diane said on November 21, 2018 at 10:01 am

    In Seattle no less. He probably would have gotten shot in Mississippi.

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  59. Sherri said on November 21, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Seattle suburbs. Some places out here, some law enforcement agencies, I wouldn’t bet my life on them not escalating. Kirkland PD has some issues, but shooting people of color isn’t among them. The Seattle PD about ten years ago, before the consent decree, did have some issues with that.

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  60. beb said on November 21, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    A man sits in a yogurt store and doesn’t order anything and the manager, instead of asking the man to order or leave, calls the cops. It’s like — Geeze, haven’t these people ever seen a blalck man before?

    Talkingpointsmemo has an article this morning

    That caught my eye for two reasons. First the headline reads:
    Scott Walker’s Democratic Successor Fights Off Aggressive GOP Power Grab so I read it to see how he had fought off the power grab and it turns out that he had not. It’s still a developing situation. The headline should have said “successor fights” instead of “fights off” which implies a past tense.

    But in general this raises serious issues with the whole concept of “Lame-duck” legislative sessions. If elections have meaning, as is so often said, then perhaps lame duck sessions should be eliminated so the losing party can’t obstruct the winning party. What’s happening in Wisconsin happened in North Carolina and may happen elsewhere. Not to mention what Congress can get up to between now and when the new session begins in January. Short of an emergency I don’t see why state or federal legislatures can’t stay recessed until the new legislature is sworn in.

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  61. LAMary said on November 21, 2018 at 3:25 pm

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  62. Sherri said on November 21, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    To be clear, the owner, who called 911, was not onsite. The employees called him, and he called 911, and using the security camera, identified the man as African-American.

    But honestly, there aren’t a lot of black people on the Eastside. My state rep jokes that in his district, if he knocks on a door and a black man answers, it’s more than likely a retired Seahawk.

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  63. David C. said on November 21, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I thought the same thing about the headline in TPM. The biggest disgrace is that the Rs got only 45% of the vote for the state Assembly and Senate but are within a whisker of a super-majority in the Assembly and will at 19-14 in the Senate. We don’t have a citizen’s initiative process, so we can’t change the apportionment to an independent commission like Michigan did. If the Supremes don’t step in, we’re screwed.

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  64. Sherri said on November 21, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    It’s impossible to make fun of Seattle.

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  65. basset said on November 22, 2018 at 5:20 am

    “Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison…”

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  66. susan said on November 22, 2018 at 11:33 am

    and the Addams Family Thanksgiving…

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  67. Deborah said on November 22, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I was just reminded on Twitter that Kennedy was assasinated today in 1963. Oh how well I remember that afternoon when I was 13.

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  68. basset said on November 23, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I was in the second grade in Bloomington, still remember the collective gasp when someone, maybe the principal, came in & told our class.

    And for some reason I suspect that the Secret Service’s golf carts being too slow wasn’t an issue back then:

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  69. beb said on November 23, 2018 at 10:20 am

    My sister, two years older than me, was born on Nov. 22. Her 15th birthday sucked. My wife was born on Nov. 23rd. So happy birthday to her.

    Thanksgiving was ruined somewhat by a drunken boyfriend-in-law who kept ranting about Trump. My sister-in-law has had one horrible boyfriend after another.

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  70. Julie Robinson said on November 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    No one wanted to host a big family dinner this year, including me, so it was just the three of us. And it was lovely and no one talked politics and then we went to a movie. So, popcorn
    for dinner with a pie top-off when we got back.
    Facebook reminded me that today was Moe’s birthday. It’s been over five years since she joined the alumni club over on the right rail. Rest in peace, dear Regina.

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  71. Jolene said on November 23, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Nice to be reminded of Moe, Julie. Thanks for that. A hard loss.

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  72. JodiP said on November 23, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks for the reminder about Moe. She was always so eloquent. It would be good to see her words again. Those five years have gone so quickly.

    My wife and I took my mom out for a Thanksgiving lunch; it was good to spend time with her. (Unfortunately the meal was really terrible. Small town “supper club” included instant potatoes and gloppy stuffing. Happily, my sister is hosting T-day tomorrow for her husband’s family so my mom will get a real meal!)

    We spent the evening having a wonderful feast with chosen family; just 6 of us. One of them had just finished her first Ironman and we all talked about our travels in France, so it was lively and perfect.

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  73. Deborah said on November 23, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    My husband and I had a simple Thanksgiving at our Abiquiu cabin, our favorite place to be on that holiday. This was our third one doing that. Our cabin was finished right before the first one, so it’s been two years of enjoying the peace and calm.

    LB likes to have her Thanksgiving with her good friends in Santa Fe, everyone brings something and she always raves about how good the food and company is.

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  74. Dexter Friend said on November 23, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Turkey and cranberries again in Grove City, in the shadow of the big buildings of downtown Columbus. We spent three days with daughter Vanessa who showed great courage and strength , hair gone, in the process of chemotherapy. We had a great time with the 7 year old granddaughter Madison in Hilliard, then drove to Grove City for the Thursday feast. That is where my son-in-law’s sister’s family live. On the way home we saw gas was down to $2.13/gv so we pulled in to a Kalida Shell station. People were constantly pumping gas all day and the whole system went berserk. The pumps went all haywire; we just left. Just a perfect day to drive, no sun in the eyes, 51F degrees, light traffic with no tie-ups, very few traffic coppers. Zoom zoom…before ya knew it…the 158 miles were all in the rearview mirror.

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  75. Sherri said on November 23, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    We had a lovely Thanksgiving with 20 people who really are family of choice; I’ve spent close to as many Thanksgivings with them as with my family of origin at this point.

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  76. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 23, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Julie, thank you.

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  77. Dexter Friend said on November 24, 2018 at 3:33 am

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  78. Sherri said on November 24, 2018 at 11:46 am

    An excellent comparison of the Amazon HQ2s to stadium deals:

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  79. beb said on November 24, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    It’s always a little disorienting to find good political analysis on what is basically a sports website. But Sherri’s link does make a telling comparison between Amazon and sports arenas. I had this idea that cities being blackmailed into financing new arenas ought to demand part-owner in the team as a reward for this contribution.

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  80. Sherri said on November 24, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    The Richard DeVos nugget in this Twitter thread makes it extra special:

    Which also reminds me. An excellent podcast about the MLM world is The Dream. I’ve always thought they were pretty shady, but after listening to the dream, I put MLM companies on a par with payday loan companies in terms of skeeviness.

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  81. David C. said on November 24, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    I’m having a Twitter fight about that right now, Sherri. There’s a lot of people saying that the DeVos family owns Spectrum. They don’t. It’s a not-for-profit. They have a huge influence due to the money they’ve donated to it. It was also Dick DeVos Sr.’s idea to combine Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals into Spectrum. But they don’t own it or make a dime off of it. Probably the only thing in the Grand Rapids area they don’t make a dime from.

    The Dream podcast is excellent. About three or four times in my life I’ve been invited “Over to coffee” by someone. When I arrive and see a screen, and at the time a slide projector set up, plus boxes of SA8 for our perusal, I knew I’d been had. They really capture the attitude. I worked with an engineer who took the scAmway bait. He was trying to buy a house that was obviously too expensive for him. I heard him pleading on the phone with the bank saying “I know I can handle it, I’m building my organization”. There probably isn’t a loan officer in GR who hasn’t heard the same plea a hundred times over.

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  82. Deborah said on November 25, 2018 at 12:15 am

    A dozen years or so ago I went on a business trip to Grand Rapids to the AmWay headquarters cosmetics division which had a different name that I can’t remember. We were there for an exhibit design project for their clients to come and see what was what. At that time their main client base was in China. They had portraits lining the corridors of Chinese top sales people who sold their products using the typical pyramid scheme, but it was also set up a bit differently, they were allowed over there to have stores where the products were sold. Theys showed us photos of some of those stores. Most were cramped hovels lined with packaging floor to ceiling. I remember that one of their biggest selling products in China was skin whitening cream. Thank goodness we didn’t get the job to design the exhibits, it seemed like a miserable project.

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  83. nancy said on November 25, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Thank you for saying so, beb. That’s been bugging me for a while. Rich people endow hospitals all over the country. That doesn’t mean Frank Sinatra is making rounds at the Atlantic City Medical Center, where he has a wing named for him.

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