Amazing grace.

I wish I could say I were surprised by stuff like Betsy Devos’ budget proposal for the Department of Education, the one that zeroes out funding to the Special Olympics, but who could be surprised at this point? And yes, it’s just a budget proposal; it won’t pass any more than zeroing out support for the Great Lakes ecosystem will.

But it says something. Doesn’t it?

I wish I could shut out what’s happening to the country, but that can only happen for brief snatches of time. So I was fortunate to get a couple of tickets to “Amazing Grace,” the long-delayed — like, 40-some years delayed — film of the sessions that produced Aretha Franklin’s album of the same name. It was her gospel album, made after years of pop hits. A return to her roots, two nights of performance at a Los Angeles church with James Cleveland guiding the session and Sydney Pollack filming it all.

Needless to say, the songs are great. The film is imperfect — lots of ’70s technique, which is to say, cut to out-of-focus shot and several-second delay while camera finds focus; grainy film stock; lots of cuts because cinema verité, dude — but imperfect in a great way. Aretha sweats through her makeup, along with everyone else, because gospel music is hard work. There’s a spectacular choir backing her up, and an even more spectacular choir director with the amusing name of Alexander Hamilton.

The film was shelved because Aretha didn’t like it, probably because of all the sweating. She doesn’t look glamorous, but she looks about as taken by the spirit as it’s possible to be. And now she’s dead, and her estate is not so picky, so here we are.

My favorite number was this one, “How I Got Over.” Mainly because of the choir.

It was screened at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the second night of a two-night run. The first night, the Franklin family threw things off by putting a few close friends on the guest list — a few hundred, which meant there weren’t enough seats, which meant a second night was added. We were lucky to get the seats, but it was worth it.

This was actually a Plan B. We were originally going to Extreme Midget Wrestling at some bar. Next time, maybe. You have to leave your Tuesday nights open from time to time, for stuff like this.

So, bloggage:

Actually, I don’t have any. You can look up Betsy Devos if you like. It’s not going to be a good week for her.

Posted at 10:12 pm in Movies, Uncategorized |

55 responses to “Amazing grace.”

  1. Deborah said on March 27, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    So much for Detroit and everything it is about. Love the salvos you send our way. What a life. I mean that in a very multidimensional way, although I’m not sure that’s even possible.

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  2. BigHank53 said on March 27, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    When has Betsy Devos ever had a good week? I can’t find a single smile line on her face. She’s rich as Croesus yet everything she buys–houses, yachts, governments–winds up being some kind of discount-store knock-off of what you’d actually buy if you cared about quality. I mean even your average person who’s as dumb as she is would eventually figure out something that they liked doing and devote some serious time and coin to it. Devos thinks her pinchbeck Jesus wants everyone to be as mean and dumb as she is. I can’t decide what would be a more appropriate punishment for her when she croaks: finding out that Jesus is the kind of hippie she loathes because he forgives everyone, or that heaven is exactly the place she wanted it to be, and she’s spending eternity in the company of fourteen other bigoted assholes.

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  3. LAMary said on March 28, 2019 at 12:46 am

    Betsy De Vos doesn’t deserve a good week. I’m sending eternal sucky week vibes her way.

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  4. Sherri said on March 28, 2019 at 1:49 am

    The DeVos/Prince clan are the worst: the true believer grifters. They really think it’s God’s will that they make the world worse for everybody else. The only difference between Bernie Madoff and Richard DeVos is that Madoff stole from rich people.

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  5. ROGirl said on March 28, 2019 at 5:13 am

    I started listening to the Amazing Grace music recently, after a lifetime of hearing Aretha’s secular music, which I’ve loved and appreciated. It blows all her other music out of the water. My favorite is Mary, Don’t You Weep.

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  6. David C. said on March 28, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Building on what BigHank53 wrote. Here’s McMansion Hell’s take down of Dickie and Betsy’s summer crib.

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  7. Suzanne said on March 28, 2019 at 9:04 am

    I heard this a while back, This American Life on DeVos. I think for her and Pence and their ilk, it’s all about who is worthy.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on March 28, 2019 at 11:05 am

    One of my aunts lives near Grand Rapids so has been exposed to the extended Prince/DeVos family, Amway, and Blackwater for many years. Her evaluation is succinct: cruel and clueless. The more I think about it, the more I agree, and the more I would extend the description to the entire administration.

    I do wonder if this just serves to distract from the rest of the Education budget. There are a lot of other cuts that aren’t getting much coverage.

    Someone else posted the house take down earlier, but it’s well worth reading again. It may be today’s only chuckle.

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  9. Bitter Scribe said on March 28, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Trump and Mother Pence recently did some sucking up to Down’s kids and the Special Olympics, respectively.

    That’s a time-honored Republican tradition: doing photo-ops with kids just before you cut funding for their programs. Dubya, in particular, went in big for this. Whenever he or Laura showed up in a classroom to read to black or Latinx kids, you knew education programs that benefited minority children were about to have their budgets slashed.

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  10. alex said on March 28, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    While my partner was doing some exterior work on our house today, he discovered immaculate tongue-and-groove cedar siding underneath our ’60s or ’70s aluminum siding. It looks like the cedar has never been stained or painted and is not weathered in the least.

    He was replacing the framing around our garage door when he made this discovery.

    So should we tear off the rest of the aluminum? Do we dare?

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on March 28, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Depends on how much work you want to do. You will have to paint or stain every few years, but it will look better than aluminum siding. You might want to consult with a resteration expert or a realator and see what it would do to the value of you home.
    Pilot Joe

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  12. FDChief said on March 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I keep trying to picture myself as a political operative for the GOP talking to people like Betsy “Ten-yachts” DeVos, and starting out with something like:

    “Look, Bets. Normally I’d feel comfortable not even beginning with this in that this was simply common knowledge, but in this case I feel impelled to caution you that “Let’s NOT make ourselves look like callous rich bitches going after funding for adorable Downs Syndrome kiddies training for the Special Olympics by showing up in news items that juxtapose the picture of that adorable kid next to a picture of your fucking 40 million dollar fucking yacht, shall we?” is pretty much Bad Ideas 101, K?”

    Where the hell does the GOP GET these people? I mean, how hard is it to provide shitty governance that still doesn’t manage to make you look like the supervillain in a Bond film?

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  13. Scout said on March 28, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    The ratio on this Betsy tweet was epic. Not sure how it is possible to be so weapons grade tone deaf. Supervillain in a Bond film is right.

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  14. Dan said on March 28, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Extreme wrestling or extreme midgets?

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  15. Jakash said on March 28, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Conan O’Brien: “Look, I’m not perfect but at least my obituary won’t say, ‘and in 2019, he defunded the Special Olympics.'”

    Meanwhile, in WTF? news, this is currently the #1 most-read article at the WaPo website:

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  16. Bruce Fields said on March 28, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    My favorite has always been the bit of “You’ve Got A Friend” with the ascending arpeggios in the choir. I had no idea there was a film! Something to look forward to.

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  17. JodiP said on March 28, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    Scout, that twitter feed is wonderful. Ooof on the leggings–I had read the article earlier today. Personally, I don’t wear them outside of the gym because I think it’s too casual. But posing a threat to men’s ability to control themselves? Nah. That’s their own job. The comments on that story tended to be great, too.

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  18. beb said on March 28, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    When has Betsy Devos ever had a good week? I can’t find a single smile line on her face. (BigHank@2)
    Well, you know, the botox and all…

    Also, DeVos is doing exactly what she has always wanted to do, which is destroy public education. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    It’s like, what, $1,8 million (with an m). It’s not even a rounding error for the Dept. Education budget. It’s more like “found couch change.” What’s her problem. Is she afraid that her boss might have to host a party of … (there is no word that can express Trumps disdain for the Special Olympians that isn’t embarrassing to write. Let’s go with the Trumpian…) “shithole” people.

    FDChief @11 wonders how hard is it to provide shitty governance that still doesn’t manage to make you look like the supervillain in a Bond film? It’s pretty hard actually, when your party is composed of Bondian supervillains and wannabe Bondian supervillains.

    Yoga pants in public… (in ref. ND) Come on, Girls, admit it, you want to see the ND football squad in yoga pants!

    A couple memes suggest themselves here. One is of Ned Flanders in a ski suit saying “It’s like wearing nothing at all.” The other is of a guy walking with his girlfriend, turned around to stare at another girl walking past. The other girl was probably weaking yoga pants.

    And on the Freep webpge today is this column from USAtoday, “Can worker get written up for changing TV to Fox News? Free-speech rights differ in office” — The article explains that there’s no “free speech” at work. If the owner doesn’t want Fox News on the TV, there will be no Fox news on the TV. Personally, thinking of the fast food places that have Fox News on all the time, I would think the thrust of this column ought to have been “How can I get Fox News OFF the TV at work?”

    Hey, the #realmuellerreport is said to run 300-1000 pages in length. Kind of makes Barr’s 4 page Twitter account look like of weak, if you know what I mean.

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  19. beb said on March 28, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    JodiP’s comment on the leggings issue reminds me that the people most upset about women wearing leggings (or crop tops, tight pants, micro-miniskirts, etc) share an affinity with sharia-loving fundamentalists. You know, the enemy of the American way ™. Maybe the ND protests should have woren burkas with leggings stencils on the back of them.

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  20. Deborah said on March 28, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    By all means Alex, take off the aluminum siding!

    Hey Jerry in the U.K. what’s your take on the latest Brexit mess?

    Indeed, what are the Republicans afraid of in releasing the full Mueller report? Just what you’d expect, a bunch of damning info about Trump. They will fight it tooth and nail.

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  21. Heather said on March 28, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    I am not a fan of leggings as pants myself, but I will defend to my death your right to wear them!

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  22. Bitter Scribe said on March 28, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Notice how Trump did a photo op with some Down’s kids, and Mother Pence was named honorary chairman or something of the Special Olympics, before the budget came down.

    Republicans doing photo ops with underprivileged children whose benefits they’re about to cut is a time-honored tradition. Dubya, in particular, went in for this in a big way. Whenever he or Laura showed up in a classroom to read to a bunch of black or Latinx kids, it meant big budget cuts were on the way.

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  23. ROGirl said on March 28, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    The Special Olympics was a Kennedy family project. Maybe that’s part of the animosity against it, beyond just the money.

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  24. David C. said on March 28, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    I lived the first 48 years of my life in GR and like Julie’s aunt, everybody seems to have a story about run-ins with a DeVos or VanAndel. My brother-in-law is a retired GR officer. They all pretty much knew what cars they drove and they all drove like they had a special set of laws delivered directly from God. They never were pulled over because they would call scAmway security and before long it would be a confrontation.

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  25. alex said on March 28, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    Betsy only cares about Down kids in utero.

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  26. Linda said on March 28, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Now they are saying the SO will not be defunded, and everybody will feel good, and ignore the rest of special ed defunding. Which I am sure was the point in the first place.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 28, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Don’t forget that Betsy’s brother is Erik Prince, and I’m sure FDChief could add some pungent observations about Blackwater or Xe or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. The ultimate in outsourcing.

    Just got back from three days’ silent retreat at Thomas Merton’s abbey in Kentucky. Dessert at the noon meal are slices from their fruitcakes soaked in fine local bourbon. Conversation is of course non-existent in general, but the retreat master did ask me about the Mueller report. I smiled, shrugged, and said “Trump is one of the things I came here to get away from, Father” and he replied “of course, sorry to have asked; I’ll look tonight online at the BBC, they don’t seem to have lost their minds.”

    The Orange Scourge is everywhere, it seems.

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  28. beb said on March 28, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    I’m beginning to think that people who have sudden rage-attacks like this:
    should be insitutinalized until a doctor can certify that they are safe to re-enter society. Going off-hinged just because a restaurant his bilingual signage is a clear indication of mental disturbance.

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  29. susan said on March 29, 2019 at 2:29 am

    Watch this video interview of Deborah Judd. She’s really something. She said with all the traumatizing shooter-in-the-school training the students are required to undergo now, it’s their teacher that gets shot on her way home. She’s so worried about her second-graders. She wanted this interview so they could see she’ll be all right, and will be back to school soon. Maybe after she goes to Vegas to see Arrowsmith next weekend, though. She has tickets.

    What a sick sick fucked up country. And fuck the NRA. Build a wall around them. Oh wait, that would be a prison. Yes. And make all their members watch this video 20 times. If they don’t get angry and full of tears of rage after watching it, there is really is no way out of this gun terror.

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  30. Dexter Friend said on March 29, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Texas Tech knocked the Wolverines out; they destroyed them. A benchwarming scrub was brought in for Michigan to kill the final minute and he launched a long 3-pointer and it died on the backplate and rolled in. That made the Wolverines 1 for 19 on 3 pointers for the game. Season over.

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  31. jerry said on March 29, 2019 at 3:59 am

    Deborah asked about Brexit.

    It is a total cockup! The PM seems to have no idea except to present a bill that has already been rejected twice. When you get five MPs together there seem to be seven different ideas about what should happen next.

    I find it hard to believe that a group of grown men and women should be so totally incompetent. If they worked or a company and ran a project as badly as this I’m sure they would have been fired with no reference offered.

    Personally I feel sick to my soul. I believe that whatever the final outcome it is going to be a disaster for the UK and bad for the majority of the population, it is noticeable that many of the leading proponents of leaving seem to have enough money to weather any storm in comfort. For the rest of us, no such luck.

    I despair.

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  32. Suzanne said on March 29, 2019 at 8:02 am

    This from last nights Trump rally. This Twitter guy is surprised. I am not. Those of you who have been here on this blog know I have been pretty consistent in saying that a large swath of people here in Trump country believe the garbage spewed by the alt-right conspiracy people in the depths of their souls.

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  33. Jenine said on March 29, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Many things are true all at once.
    Young women should be able to wear what they want.
    Young women are often presented with clothing options that are calculated to appeal to the male gaze and get attention for wearing that.
    Young men hardly ever wear thin clinging leggings as pants, with no visible underwear, why is that?

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  34. Bitter Scribe said on March 29, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Beb @ 26: Nigel Farage, the fount of obnoxiousness who was a prominent supporter of Brexit, once remarked that he gets nervous whenever he’s around people speaking a foreign language.

    A British comedian retorted: “That’s not a political preference. It’s a mental disease.”

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  35. Bitter Scribe said on March 29, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Young men hardly ever wear thin clinging leggings as pants, with no visible underwear, why is that?

    Because of certain, um, structural differences.

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  36. Sherri said on March 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

    If it were because of the structural differences, Bitter, codpieces would never have been fashionable.

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  37. Deborah said on March 29, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Sorry to hear that Jerry. It did seem bad from what I’ve read on the BBC. I’m in despair here too over Trump and his corrupt regime. But I do have hope for 2020, that it will all be over. I will say that in my experience there can be extremely incompetent people working their way up ladders in corporations too.

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  38. Jakash said on March 29, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Perhaps, for many of them, because the evidence of the structural differences would not be as compelling as they’d like. ; )

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  39. alex said on March 29, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    Here’s why:

    Unsee that!

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  40. Scout said on March 29, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    I think what defeats me the most is that Trump’s cruelty is what his defenders like the best about him. I despair, I really do.

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  41. Scout said on March 29, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Brexit. Trump. The same pain. More than a few of you will probably be interested in this take.

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  42. Suzanne said on March 29, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Oh, my goodness, Scout! That bit you posted from Balloon Juice is utterly brilliant!
    All y’all out there, take the 5 minutes and read it!
    Here is a taste:
    “In both cases what we’ve had since is the result of putting nearly unfettered power over the nation’s present and future into the hands of utter fuckwits; people who achieved prominence in the field of fuckwittery by steadily building up a portfolio of crass stupidity, whining victimhood and uninformed wrongness for all to see, taking the retrograde side of every argument and proving themselves suitable for no post more challenging than bringing up the rear in a Human Centipede.”

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  43. Bitter Scribe said on March 29, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    The dog in the unit below me is doing the forlorn, whining howl she does whenever she’s left alone. She’s been doing it all day.

    It’s especially pathetic, even heartbreaking, because the reason she’s alone is that her “grandma”—the old woman who lived there—is getting buried today. The woman’s daughter lives there too, and now the dog is all she has left. Her husband is still alive, but he has all kinds of health problems and is in long-term care with no prospect of ever getting out.

    I hope she’ll be OK. The mother and the husband aren’t the end of it for her, not by a long shot. That poor woman has had problems that would make Job’s look like a case of the sniffles.

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  44. Sherri said on March 29, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    So, one of the pieces of stupidity in my corner of the world this week is that someone complained to the public disclosure commission and the attorney general’s ethics department because my friend, who is running for mayor and is currently city council President, didn’t provide equal respect and representation to that person’s beliefs when she emceed a legislative town hall in city hall. The person complained that it was a campaign rally in disguise (all the legislators in that district are Dems), and so my friend shouldn’t have done the event since she’s running for office.

    The real kicker is that the person *lives in a different district.* She was complaining about not feeling represented in a district she doesn’t live in and not feeling welcome at an event in a city she doesn’t live in. She had run for legislature last year in a different district and was defeated badly. I don’t know why she showed up at this town hall rather than at the town hall for her district, which was held at the same time; she could have yelled at her own legislators.

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  45. beb said on March 30, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Scout@38. You right, One of Trump’s supporters gave it away when she whined that he wasn’t hurting the people he was supposed to. The President is supposed to be president of all Americans not just of the people who voted for him.

    The Human Centipede — oh! Devin Nunez.

    Sherri is the answer to your question “Republican Privilege?”

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  46. Dexter Friend said on March 30, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Brexit confuses me as every day I see different viewpoints bandied about. A few years when I first heard the term, for a second I thought it was the name of a projected new PM. May says play cricket with me and I’ll resign, but the same results will occur Tuesday whether she resigns or not, or what-the-fuck-evah.

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  47. FDChief said on March 30, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Re: our boy Prince-not-the-purple-Prince-Prince, I can’t really add much to what ol’ Nick Machiavelli said several hundred years ago; for a cunning ruler mercenaries are a worse-than-worthless investment. If competent they will pull your policy in their direction, not yours. If not they will do the same but fail, leaving you worse off than you began.

    Money is useless to dead men, so you cannot count on cash-whore-iors to put your interests first. The Europeans learned this the hard way from the wars of the Renaissance, where mercenaries proved unreliable at best and dangerous to their employers at worst. We’ve gone a long time without the scum of war since then, so Prince and his ilk are profiting from the memory hole, but the primary problem remains. Mercs are to war what profit is to education; something that will always distort and, eventually, take over from the original objective.

    It’s very Trumpy to include them in the military policy picture, tho: that’s the Trump brand – superficial and expensive while being simultaneously cheap, nasty, and worthless.

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  48. Mary Ann said on March 30, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Jeff TMMO: I’m going to that Kentucky Abbey, Gethsemani, in June, unfortunately for a meeting, not a silent retreat. But I’m looking forward to the bourbon-soaked fruitcake!

    One of my favorite Merton books is The Sign of Jonas. It has a beautiful epilogue, Fire Watch, written back in the 50’s.

    One of my goals in life is to visit all the Trappist monasteries in the US.

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  49. Sherri said on March 30, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Jamelle Bouie makes the point that the relevant Republican scandal to today is not so much Watergate as Iran-Contra:

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  50. beb said on March 30, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Preaching to the Choir, but Lucian K. Truscott IV writes a fine article on the nature of gun nuts.

    And we learn that “Unca” Joe Biden is a creepy touchy-feely kind of guy….

    At two links I’d better stop.

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  51. Deborah said on March 30, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I thought Kamala Harris was the front runner for me, but I could totally go for Beutigieg (spelling). A Beutigieg Harris ticket or a Harris Beutigieg ticket would suit me just fine.

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  52. Suzanne said on March 30, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Wow, beb, that article about gun nuts is great. My brother is one as well as the kids of the couple across the street. You truly cannot reason with them. A gun is their right, any gun of any kind. Your right to live is secondary.

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  53. Sherri said on March 31, 2019 at 2:08 am

    Want to understand why I’m a big No on Mayor Pete and Beto, as well as Biden and Bernie and Inslee and Hickenlooper, for the Dem nomination? Read this article:

    Ask yourself, would South Bend Mayor Paula be given this kind of attention in a
    race? Or Bella, after losing a Senate race?

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  54. David C. said on March 31, 2019 at 7:05 am

    Sleep well.

    Shortly after the success of The Art of the Deal (1987) made Donald Trump a supposed expert on negotiation, he lobbied the George H.W. Bush administration to put him in charge of arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union. The position went instead to Richard Burt, an experienced diplomat and arms control expert. When the two men met at a New York social event, Trump pulled Burt aside to tell him what he would have done—and what Burt should do—to start off the negotiations. Greet the Soviets warmly, he said. Let the delegation get seated and open their papers. Then stand up, put your knuckles on the table, lean over, say “Fuck you,” and walk out of the room.

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  55. alex said on March 31, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Ask yourself, would South Bend Mayor Paula be given this kind of attention in a race? Or Bella, after losing a Senate race?

    And just look at how they’re ignoring state rep Stacey after losing a gubernatorial race. Shocked, shocked I tell you.

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