Inferno.

I guess the talk today was about Notre Dame, about which I have this to say: Very sad news. I really don’t know what else to add, but maybe this: What sort of people look at an event like this an immediately try to warp it into their paranoid world view, in which the Mooslims are responsible? I mean, have they ever read the police and fire briefs in their local paper? “Firefighters believe the blaze began in the roof space, likely started by a spark from a worker’s blowtorch” — that’s a sentence I have read approximately nine million times. As Neil Steinberg noted today: The roofers did it. The roofers always did it. Writing about another church fire, years ago in Chicago, he notes:

It’s ALWAYS the roofers. Do you realize how many public buildings burn during roof work? Two years ago, the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton caught fire. In 2002, we almost lost another Louis Sullivan building, the magnificent Carson, Pirie Scott Building downtown, when roofers set the place on fire, and exploding propane tanks sent burning debris showering onto State Street. In 1999, it was another black church, St. Stephen AME Church, one of the oldest African-American churches in the city, that was burned, destroying the roof and charring the walls. I’m telling you, roofers are worse than the Klan.

OK, that’s a bit extreme. It isn’t always the roofers. Countless roofers are reading this now, with their coffee and doughnuts, waiting for the supervisor to show up, and if there were ever a group that could tar and feather a guy, it’s roofers. So we should recognize that other trades also torch the places they’re supposed to be fixing. In 1998, the 120-year-old Barrington United Methodist Church burned to the ground when workers repairing a window burned a hole through the wall. Old churches are generally tinderboxes that could be set on fire with an ice cube.

That said, roofing is a particularly nasty, smelly, extra-dangerous business involving open flames and hot tar, which burns like napalm.

Fires are scarce these days, relatively speaking; you can credit GFCI plugs and outlets, as well as smoke detectors. Where I live, we don’t have full-time firefighters. We have “triple-trained” “public safety” officers, i.e. cops with firefighting gear in the trunk. They handle EMS, too. We have the trucks and all, and a staffing system so the garage is covered and they’re ready to roll, but fire is, blessedly, less of a concern than it once was. But Steinberg is right — old churches, and lots of old buildings, are just waiting to erupt into flames. Add cutting torches, and it’s only a matter of time.

You just hope it never happens at a place like the Notre Dame cathedral. And then it does. And you watch these crabbed, broken, twisted, awful people try to fundraise off it. Not to rebuild the church, but to stoke the fires of paranoia. It’s so repellant. If I ever have to peddle fear to make a living, just shoot me in the head.

And in just about 24 hours, I don’t want to hear any more about fires. Especially Notre Dame. I’ve looked at all your vacation photos on social media. I’m full.

Someone asked why Michigan has the highest auto-insurance rates in the nation. A few mentioned no-fault, but that’s not it. No-fault insurance is like no-fault divorce: Better. Instead of “you got hit, let’s figure out who’s at fault and recover from him/her,” it’s “you got hit, let’s fix it.” Michigan does have an unusual wild card — our catastrophic-care law, which decrees that if you are injured in a motor-vehicle collision, you can get the care you need, with no cap. A good thing! But under the law, health-care providers can charge whatever they like for that care, and the catastrophic-care fund must pay. There’s no negotiation, no agreed-upon prices. So an MRI related to an auto accident may well be billed at three times what it would be in a hospital. It’s lunacy.

So it’s not the service that’s provided, but the way it’s provided, that causes the problem. It wasn’t implemented well, and it’s quite difficult to change.

I think of cases like this when I read about all the vital functions of government that conservatives want to delegate “to the states.” Clarence Thomas wrote in one recent opinion that the states could figure out their own libel laws. Um, have you ever been to a state, Clarence Thomas? Visited the legislature? You might be surprised.

Let’s just call this Mueller Report II Eve and be done with it. It’s going on Wednesday. Hump Day, and I’m going to bed.

Posted at 10:00 pm in Current events |
 

89 responses to “Inferno.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 16, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    You’ve looked at my vacation pics? I’m flattered.

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  2. alex said on April 16, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    Oprah got sued in Texas for meat libel. Here in Indiana I’m sure they’re hot to criminalize Pence libel and Trump libel and maybe in Texas too.

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  3. Andrea said on April 16, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Lots of money is being pledged to rebuild Notre Dame and that is good. The three historically Black churches in Louisiana that were destroyed by a racist arsonist are still struggling to raise funds to rebuild. Their GoFundMe is not quite at 50% yet, if you want to pledge.

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/church-fires-st-landry-parishmacedonia-ministry

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  4. LAMary said on April 16, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you for that link, Andrea.

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  5. beb said on April 17, 2019 at 2:51 am

    800 year old oak timberes has to be considered an extreme fire hazard. I’m kind of surprised that wood of any sort could stand around for 800 years and still have any strength.

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  6. David C. said on April 17, 2019 at 6:11 am

    I knew catastrophic care was the problem with Michigan’s auto insurance, but I didn’t know the charge whatever you like wrinkle. I couldn’t figure out who was raking in enough to fight reform. Now I know. And “Old churches are generally tinderboxes that could be set on fire with an ice cube.” is one of the best sentences ever written.

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  7. Deborah said on April 17, 2019 at 8:13 am

    What the heck is “meat libel”???

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  8. Deborah said on April 17, 2019 at 8:19 am

    This by architectural critic Paul Goldberger on twitter regarding Notre Dame:

    “This is not about the rich buying indulgences, and it is barely even about religion. The outpouring of emotion regarding Notre Dame is about culture, about our ability to be moved by architecture—and most of all about the commonality of purpose that lay behind great cathedrals.”

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  9. Randy said on April 17, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Roofers caused the only fires at my campus in its 17-year existence. Two fires, happened on the same day, both times a torch was left unattended. Carelessness repeated, twice in one afternoon. Fortunately, no major damage or any injuries, but even a small fire caused a campus-wide evacuation once the smoke made its way through the vents.

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  10. Jeff Borden said on April 17, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Deborah, Oprah said some disparaging things about beef during one of her periodic diet and healthy living segments. The beef producers in Texas sued her in the mid-90s for slander/defamation/libel…I can’t recall which. It went to trial in Amarillo and she won handily. The cattlemen never had a chance.

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  11. alex said on April 17, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Deborah, the meat industry sued Oprah for publicly swearing off hamburgers on her show after the pink slime story came out. It was just a big show trial to test new “ag gag” laws.

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 17, 2019 at 10:42 am

    And, little known fact, that’s how she met Texan Dr. Phil McGraw, who had developed a lucrative sideline as a jury consultant, helping the lawyers figure out which prospective jurors to challenge and which to hold onto as being likely to help you. Oprah enjoyed his company in Amarillo, built a whole episode around him when she took her show down there for a few weeks during the trial, and thought enough of his insights that she gave him his own show, and that’s how we got “Dr. Phil.”

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  13. MarkH said on April 17, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Alex – The Oprah/meat trial had nothing to do with pink slime. Oprah took issue with red meat on general health issues and won that legal case in 1998. USDA approved ‘pink slime’ for use in fast food meat processing in 2001. It did not become a public issue until 2012.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_slime

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  14. FDChief said on April 17, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    The other reality of contracting is that the competition is often brutal, the margins are tight, and the pressure to cut corners and save costs can be difficult to resist. It’s likely we’ll never know – the fire was intense and likely destroyed any evidence of initial causes, but it’s not impossible that someone was supposed to have a ground fault interrupter and didn’t, or was supposed to have a fire watch on some hot work and moved on.

    What is infuriating is to watch the usual liars of the Right try and make this into a War of Religion. Rod Dreher is more than usually unhinged, and the reliably-loathsome Jonah Goldberg is even more moronic than usual about it.

    One of the more interesting things I’m reading is how this may turn out to be a rather peculiar opportunity. The cathedral was heavily renovated in the 19th Century and a lot of what we think of as the unique features – such as the spire – were created at that time to make the building more “Gothic”. One architect I’ve read called it “Disneyfying” the original sorta squat medieval structure. So there’s the possibility of returning to the original 12th and 13th Century appearance but using modern less flammable materials. I wonder if the reconstruction team will lean that way? Might be a difficult sell to a public who has never actually seen the original cathedral.

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  15. Jason T. said on April 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Our church caught fire in 1990 while roofers were working above the chancel. I wasn’t yet a member (I was still going to the One True Church) but it’s still part of the institutional memory. (And to add insult to injury, the roof they were installing was installed incorrectly, and has been failing for some time. The replacement cost will be staggering.)

    Anyway, my thought when I heard about Notre Dame was the same as Neil Steinberg’s: “It was undergoing renovations? The roofers did it.”

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  16. Peter said on April 17, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    FDChief, what you say about tight margins and saving costs is certainly true in the US, but in other countries, especially France, public work projects like this come with big budgets and a lot of layers of management.

    One thing I should have mentioned is that it’s really impressive that only one firefighter got hurt, and that so many items were able to be retrieved. The cathedral was open at the time of the fire; I’ve been in there after 8:00 pm in late autumn and there were still several hundred people in there wandering around. And, let’s face it, a lot of the people in the cathedral are tourists with a limited knowledge of French. You can just imagine if this happened in the States.

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  17. FDChief said on April 17, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Peter: My understanding is that the renovation bid was only about 8.6 million; that seems pretty meager for a project of that size.

    That, and I’m reading that the maintenance of the building wasn’t a public function; the French government leased the cathedral back to the diocese of Paris with the agreement that the Church would pay for upkeep. The Church, in turn, has to decide where to allocate funding, and I’m reading that the maintenance funding hasn’t been forthcoming. Not perhaps surprising, but, again, another hint that this might have been a case of a contractor trying to make things work on a shoestring…

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  18. jcburns said on April 17, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    I’m finding this article deeply disturbing: Instagram Memers Are Unionizing. I think it’s annoying the heck out of me because a) ‘memers’—of course, b) they’re using riffs on classic unionization phrases like “seize the memes of production”, and c) I’m trying to picture the millions of followers who say “oh yes, I will let this collection of hedgehog snuggling photos appear regularly on my phone for my distraction and benign amusement.” Yee-freakin-gads.

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  19. brian stouder said on April 17, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    So click on the 2nd to last ‘Today in NNC history’ (Ruffled feathers) and be amazed (yet again) about how ahead-of-the-curve Nancy is!

    (two or three whacks at the Donald – a decade before he thought of running for POTUS)

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  20. LAMary said on April 17, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    I was going through the nn.c history and I got stuck on My Edie Problem. Update on my comment about my packrat neighbor: He died, leaving his property to several people. One, an artist, moved into one of the houses and uses the another as an office and guest house. When the artist moved in he discovered a lot of old gay porn, mostly from the late forties through the fifties. There was a lot of Joan Crawford stuff too. Not porn. Just lots of photos and saved fan magazines. The artist stacked all this stuff on his second floor deck and there was a windstorm. My yard was full of gay porn photos and Joan Crawford headshots. This isn’t what you expect to find when you go out to collect your newspaper in the morning. The gay porn was very tame, btw.

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  21. Deborah said on April 17, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    When we lived in St Louis our next door neighbor who lived in our same highrise owned a magazine/newspaper shop in the Central West End. When he died the folks who cleaned out his apartment (he lived alone) found stacks upon stacks of gay porn that they piled up in the room where we deposited our trash. I was astounded every time I went to empty our trash, there would be another mountain of the magazines, some going way back in time. It was probably actually valuable and was pretty interesting to peruse the old stuff.

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  22. Peter said on April 17, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    LA Mary: For how many days now I’ve been praying for anything to take my mind off of Cheetolini. When Notre Dame happened, I remembered that Chinese proverb about being careful what you wish for. What I was hoping for was something more along the lines of what happened to you. Thank God for LA!!!

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  23. Suzanne said on April 17, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    So, Barr is going to hold a press conference before he releases the next installment of the new reality show The Mueller Report!
    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/17/attorney-general-william-barr-will-hold-a-press-conference-to-discuss-mueller-report-at-930-am-et-thursday.html

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  24. David C. said on April 17, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    What Peter @ 16 said. The US is lousy at public works and refuses to learn anything from anybody else who does it better because USA USA.

    https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/03/03/why-american-costs-are-so-high-work-in-progress/

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  25. LAMary said on April 17, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Happy to oblige and apologies to our hostess for hijacking a thread. I have another phone interview in fifteen minutes. I’m getting pretty damn sick of them. I had a job offer to recruit nurses for 50 hospitals in Saudi Arabia for the Saudi department of defense. They are paying a lot and I’m sure the hospitals are state of the art. I would be making the equivalent of 4 months of my most recent salary for each hire. I wouldn’t be paid for the hire for ninety days after the start date so there’s a problem there of paying mortgage and eating and stuff for that period. It’s also for the Saudi government, and it’s for their military. I had to say no.

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  26. BigHank53 said on April 17, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    Fire safety goes back way, way before GFCI outlets and smoke detectors. Grounded outlets only came into common use in the seventies, and only because building codes started requiring them. Do you think any builder wanted to add 30% to his costs for wiring? Underwriters Laboratories is sponsored by insurance companies because it’s cheaper to keep crappy products off the market than to pay for the houses they burn down. I once bought a house with a breaker panel made by Federal Pacific and the inspector just said “it’s gotta go.” You could push on the individual breakers and watch lights blink on and off…and listen to the little arcs inside the panel, too.

    Cities started insisting on brick construction after too many of them burnt to the ground on a regular basis. An interesting (if grisly) public-health subject is fire codes as applied to schools, theaters, and nightclubs. Fires in those places used to regularly have triple-digit death tolls.

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  27. Dexter Friend said on April 18, 2019 at 2:04 am

    LA Mary, live off a wallet-full of credit cards for 3 months and then cash in. That job offer must have been hella-hard to turn down. We all have read how teachers and nurses are so underpaid, and I am sure they are, but not in some places. My son-in-law teaches elementary kids in a poorer Las Vegas escuela, and makes a helluva lot more than you could guess, and my daughter , also there in Las Vegas, rakes in an astounding salary as a nurse practitioner. So anyway, I just wanted to chip in with a comment: welders also burn places down. I remember one time in my workplace, a manufacturing plant, when something needed welded in …get this…the cardboard storage area. The flame was lighted, the job done, welder’s sparks flying like the 4th of July. The job complete, the welding rig was wheeled back to storage. In between shifts , folks smelled smoke. What a goddam mess. The factory fire brigade was overwhelmed and the city FD arrived. A huge area of stacked tri-wall and thicker flat-stacked bundled pallets of boxes were ruined by fire and water. The welder was an apprentice. The next day he was back running machines, his welding career up in smoke. ~ I watched more baseball on TV than usual, as all the news channels are speculating about Mueller’s report, and what it means, and my favorite, how Barr is acting as “house counsel to an organized crime syndicate’s godfather.” I couldn’t stand any more of it. Oh, and Mayor Pete tripped a trigger among the meme creators when he answered a French reporter’s questions about Notre Dame’s fire by speaking in fluent French. The latest meme has Mayor Pete speaking in tech-talk to an assembly robot on a production line.

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  28. Brandon said on April 18, 2019 at 4:54 am

    Madame X.

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  29. Deborah said on April 18, 2019 at 8:40 am

    So, less than an hour until Barr’s damn press conference. I thought this was funny https://mobile.twitter.com/ElieNYC/status/1118691037164265473/photo/1

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  30. Deborah said on April 18, 2019 at 10:18 am

    So now we all have an excuse for criminal behavior: we were frustrated, we were angry, therefore our illegal behavior didn’t have criminal intent and was justified.

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  31. LAMary said on April 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I’m not a nurse. I would be looking for nurses to work in SA. I would be getting commission on each nurse I hired. There are just a few too many things that are uncomfortable in this deal.

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  32. Sherri said on April 18, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Self-respect is a bitch, LAMary. So many people line up to take that Saudi money.

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  33. Scout said on April 18, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Senator Leahy isn’t playin’

    https://twitter.com/SenatorLeahy/status/1118933069958922240

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  34. LAMary said on April 18, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    The actual nursing job will probably be attractive to nurses with college loans. The pay is good, free housing, free transportation to and from the hospital, generous vacation time and free air fare for those vacations and for annual trips home to the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland and UK. And no taxes.

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  35. Mark P said on April 18, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    LAMary, I worked with a reported back in the 1970’s who had just come from Saudia Arabia where his wife had worked as a nurse in the royal Saud hospital, which was brand-new at the time. He said they did strange things like carpet the walls. All the foreign nurses and their families lived in a compound. If anyone did anything that offended the Saudis, they simply disappeared. They were there one day, then gone the next. It sounded very interesting, but not something they wanted to do long-term.

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  36. FDChief said on April 18, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    After today’s release of the investigation into the 2016 election and the despicable performance by the lickspittle who is notionally my nation’s chief “justice” officer, the choice of the way forward is brutally clear.

    Either the United Stated House of Representatives opens impeachment proceedings against Donald J. Trump.

    Or the United States becomes Putin’s Russia, where “truth” is what The Leader says it is and the residents are subjects, not citizens.

    Forget the man’s obvious senile incapacity. Forget the self-dealing, the lies, the performative cruelty, the emoluments. Simply concentrate on this; a foreign power meddled in the internal politics of this country. The current President knew of it, did nothing to alert those responsible for preventing it, and, instead, expected to profit from it.

    Does that excuse the U.S. meddling in other nations’ internal business?

    Of course not.

    Does that justify turning a blind eye to the current Administration’s role in what happened in 2016?

    Of course not.

    And then…consider all the things I’ve cautioned you to forget. The lies. The corruption. The vile eagerness to run the nation only for the rich, the white, and the notionally-Christian. The brutal vindictiveness. The crass eagerness to embrace Naziism. All the other lawbreaking, including recommending that federal officers break the laws and promising pardons if they do. The reality that the orange sonofabitch thinks he’s a king.

    If this Congress does not impeach, we might just as we stop kidding ourselves about being a “republic of laws, not men”.

    It’s really just that simple.

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  37. David C. said on April 18, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Good move, LAMary. I’m allergic to absolute monarchies that kill and dismember their citizens and commit genocide against their neighbors. I’m funny like that.

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  38. Deborah said on April 18, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    When my husband and I both worked for an architectural firm in St. Louis (where we met), there were a few projects in Saudi Arabia. We were always worried that we might end up having to work on one of the projects and have to travel there, neither of us had to. The folks in the office who did, always looked forward to going until they went once and then they never wanted to have to go back. Alcohol is not allowed but they always found ways to buy it on the black market. Women who had to go over for work had to wear long sleeves, but I can’t remember if they had to cover their heads. When the Saudis came over for meetings in our office, they cleared out all the women, we got that morning or afternoon off. I only knew one woman who had to go over, she was in my department, there was another woman in the firm who went too, she spoke Arabic so was helpful to our guys. It was very lucrative for the firm and one of the projects turned out stunningly beautiful, it was the Riyadh airport, this was in the 80s.

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  39. LAMary said on April 18, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    My friend who was a roadie in the seventies says Kelly Ann Conway looks like a Valley coke whore. Today Kelly Ann said Trump does not use language like “I’m fucked.”

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  40. Deborah said on April 18, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Actually I think it might have been the airport in Jeddah not Riyadh. I can’t remember now.

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  41. Suzanne said on April 18, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    FDChief, I wholeheartedly agree. I am not optimistic at all. Driving home today after work, listening to the news, I pretty much gave up. We are no longer a democracy. We are under a blossoming dictatorship, which will continue unabated. There is no knight in shining armor, no savior. In 2016, I voted in the last (half or so) free election I will ever vote in. The USA had a decent run, but it’s over.

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  42. LAMary said on April 18, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    I have to say I’m not very optimistic about the political situation improving anytime soon. What I don’t get is all the people I know who are ok with Trump. All three of my brothers certainly like Trump. They’ve always been republicans but now they’re much more at ease with being racist, anti immigrant, sexist and anti gay. It makes thing uncomfortable when I attempt to have a pleasant phone call. Their grown children all have the same beliefs as their parents, some of them more extreme. I don’t understand it. I have to talk very carefully with my brother who’s sick. He had a care giver whom he didn’t like and he said it was obvious she was a lesbian feminist n—-r. I asked him if her name badge identified her as that or did she introduce herself that way. What brought that on was her not holding the door long enough for him when he went into her office.

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  43. Sherri said on April 18, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Like I said the other day, who the Dems nominate for President in 2020 isn’t meaningless, but it’s not as important as the fact that the system is collapsing. The Mueller report is but one example of why the House should begin impeachment proceedings, or impeachment is no longer a meaningful correction to failure in the system. Maybe that became the case when Clinton was impeached. Maybe it became the case when Iran-Contra didn’t trigger impeachment proceedings, but pardons. But there is no longer political will to use the tools available to demand accountability.

    Too many people just don’t seem to care enough to pay attention, they’d rather just throw up their hands and blame government, as if government is something other than us.

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  44. Deborah said on April 18, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    I’m always astounded when I read the comments here how many of you remark that many of your friends and relatives support Trump. I guess I live in such a bubble, I don’t see that. As a result I’m much more optimistic about the future. I don’t see Trump getting re-elected, I hope I’m not naive and I will do everything I can to make sure that he doesn’t.

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  45. Suzanne said on April 18, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    I envy you Deborah. I am surrounded by Trumpsters. I got my haircut the other day and the first thing my hairdresser told me when I sat i the chair was that terrorists set fire to Notre Dame but “they” won’t tell us. I was visiting my parents recently and my brother was there. He said he was going to church at noon on Good Friday so he could go to a gun show Friday night, and by the way, why are there so many gays on tv?
    You can’t even imagine.

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  46. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 18, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Suzanne, I’m braced for the likelihood that Trump will get a second term. Will he finish it? Don’t know, but he’s likely to slither in for another four years. Today’s coverage of “yes, but; no, on the other hand” just makes me more certain he’s not going to leave us in 2020. Not that I want that, but there’s a market for the sludge he’s selling.

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  47. Deborah said on April 18, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Astounded doesn’t describe how blown away I was when W was re-elected. So what do I know. I realize that it’s really hard to vote out an incumbent, but not impossible as we have recently seen with Carter and HW. Especially with all of of the corruption we have seen with Trump.

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  48. Dexter Friend said on April 19, 2019 at 4:40 am

    In 1985 I was sitting in a bar right beside Grand Central Station, or maybe inside the station… anyway, a drunken middle-aged guy named Bobby entered and began shaking hands with the bartenders and a few customers he recognized, and he was stuffing C-notes into their hands and pockets. I asked our bartender what the hell? He said it’s just Bobby, he works six months in Saudi Arabia and he is not allowed a drop of booze, then he comes back to NYC via London and gets smashed on the plane and always stops in here to spread around some cash. Well, he ran out of hundreds but he still had a wad of Brit pounds and he tried to cash them in at the bar for greenbacks. Our bartender said, “Oh no, Bobby, we’re not a bank…you have to wait now until tomorrow for the banks or exchanges to open.” And Bobby left. Funny, Bobby had bought everyone , it seemed, a couple rounds, and handed out a few thousand bucks easily, but I and my pal from work never even got a draught beer. Damn shame. 🙂 A while back I read that the booze industry flourishes in Saudi Arabia, under the table or whatever. I guess they maybe don’t chop off hands and feet and heads for possessing a bottle?

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  49. nancy said on April 19, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Did I ever tell you guys my Saudi story? It’s not really my story, but one I heard when we were living in Ann Arbor, during my j-fellowship.

    Alan had taken some courses in the B-school, and made friends with some Canadian Bell alums there. They invited us over for an afternoon cookout, and told us about their time in Saudi. They’d been there on some sort of telephone-infrastructure project, of course, because “there are only two ways for outsiders to get into the Kingdom — to work, or pray.” Which means you can be a contract worker, or a Muslim making the hajj. They lived in compounds, of course, and one night just after dark one of the women realized she needed something from a store that was literally just outside the compound walls. She didn’t want to put on the full abaya, and thought she could do a dash-in-dash-out. So she left in something like Western dress, maybe with a scarf over her head, I don’t recall.

    And she didn’t come back. They called the police, and they said, “Eh, don’t worry. The religious police probably got her.” These are the ad hoc cops who enforce Islamic standards of modesty, etc. “They’ll bring her back, and they won’t hurt her.”

    They brought her back after a couple of days. The woman had long, blonde hair, and they had shaved her head.

    The Canadians said she walked into the compound, went straight to her house and told her husband, “We are getting on the next flight out of this shitty country, and we are never, ever coming back.” And they did. And that’s the story.

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  50. alex said on April 19, 2019 at 10:01 am

    I have to admit that the first time I became nervous about the possibility of a Trump presidency was during Leslie Stahl’s interview with Trump and Pence right after Pence joined the ticket in the summer of 2016. They promised a “law and order presidency” and immediately I recognized this as not only an appeal to racism but a promise to relieve the paranoia of the sort that has so completely overtaken people in Suzanne’s and my neck of the woods since 9/11, and that’s some powerful stuff.

    If people have the perception that they are safer from crime, that minorities are running scared instead of defiant and threatening and that political correctness is dead, even though it bears no relationship to reality, they may well indeed want give Trump another term.

    But the problem in 2016 was a low turnout and lack of enthusiasm for Hillary who still won the popular vote by a strong margin. And Democrats are much more energized now. So I’m not as pessimistic as some of you, although I think the stress of a second Trump administration might just kill me.

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  51. Deborah said on April 19, 2019 at 11:14 am

    I think that when Trump’s financial shenanigans starts to be revealed it’s going to be the end of him. Thank god the Dems prevailed in the house in 2018 or none of that would come out. As Barr tried to do with keeping the Mueller report under wraps, there will no doubt be every effort by the Republicans to keep the financials from seeing the light of day, but it will be way, way to obvious and whistleblowers will be inevitable.

    Lots of people say that Barr was trying to protect Trump, as if he respects him, but I think Barr and his supporters are desperate to try to protect the power that Republicans have had with the Senate, the courts and yes, even the presidency since the President is marginally a Republican. Barr went after the job of AG with the 19 page memo, hoping that Trump would bring him on board so he could try to resurrect the dumpster fire that is this president, and he was successful, of course. The Republicans realize that Trump is a disaster but they have to try to make him look as good as possible or their goose is cooked and they know it. They cravenly will do whatever it takes to retain the power they have now. In the end, I don’t think it’s going to work because Trump is way to corrupt and inept and they’re not going to be able to continue to hide it.

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  52. David C. said on April 19, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Mueller assigned the pre-Presidency tRump corruption stuff on SDNY and I assume they’re still working on it. We haven’t heard the last of this by a long shot.

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  53. Deborah said on April 19, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    David C, plus congress is investigating Trump’s finances, his IRS and Deutsche Bank records have been requested. Comparing those should be interesting indeed.

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  54. Jakash said on April 19, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    “Today Kelly Ann said Trump does not use language like ‘I’m fucked.'”

    She went on: “…there are words where the president is quoted throughout the report where he does not use those words.”

    Aside from the fact that his speaking style is rubbing off on her (swell sentence, there, Kell), the only thing that might call into question whether he’d “use those words” is the fact that they were the truth. Indeed, his being truthful would be an extreme rarity — perhaps she’s never heard him try it…

    FDChief hits on the heart of the matter. It was hoped that the Mueller Report would “prove” that the Marmalade Mussolini actively colluded with Russia, as if that’s the only important issue. Whether there’s a smoking gun or not, it’s amazing how readily people accept the undeniable fact that he did nothing to warn anybody about or punish the Russians for the fact that they were obviously interested in colluding with and helping *him* and were actively involved in influencing the election. In a show like “Homeland” or “The Americans,” the photos of his jovial meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian representatives would have turned up after some sleuthing and “be” a smoking gun demonstrating that the fears that he was in the pocket of the Russians were true. Truth is stranger than fiction, because the fact that those photos are commonplace and the “Better dead than Red” Republicans don’t give a crap about them is a plot element that would be too in-your-face to accept as TV drama.

    Uh, we just finished watching Season 7 of “Homeland.” Can you tell? Things always seem to work out better on TV than in reality, alas. Except for Carrie Mathison, of course. : )

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  55. Mark P said on April 19, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Sherri @43 — Up until recently I tended to agree with the idea that the House should not start impeachment proceedings against Trump for all the reasonable reasons. It’s divisive. We need republican buy-in. The Senate won’t convict. But at this point I am beginning to think that principle trumps (Ha!) pragmatism. Trump is so bad that there is no choice but to try to remove him, even if it’s an uphill fight, even if it’s unlikely, even if it’s politically impossible. Here is a case where the right thing is obvious, and we should not shirk our responsibility simply because it will be hard.

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  56. Suzanne said on April 19, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    I’ve been perusing Twitter in between cleaning & cooking in anticipation of Easter and I see way too much of the notion that impeachment is needed because then people will fill in the blanks of Trump’s long history of Russian mob ties and his other sleazy Trump & company activities. This, people are sure, will wake people up.
    No, it won’t. Not the Trumpers. They won’t see or listen to a bit of any hearings nor will they read the Mueller report. They will only get any info through the Fox, Rush, Hannity, Ingraham, Federalist, or Drudge filter. I think if you don’t know people that think like this, you cannot grasp how strong that propaganda is. Their minds are closed.

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  57. David C. said on April 19, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    They should have anticipated Kelly Ann denying tRump would use that language. It would seem like a perfect “Roll the tape” moment.

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  58. beb said on April 19, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Everyone is saying that if Congress doesn’t impeach it means the normalization of what Trump did. And so they wonder why Nancy Pelosi isn’t chomping at the bit to impeach. I’m trying to think what her calculus is. Basically I think she remembers Bill Clinton. He was impeached but no convicted. And as a result his bad behavior was sweep under the rug. Because Clinton was never convicted of a crime obviously no crime ever happened. So if Trump were impeached but not convicted in the Senate wouldn’t that also mean he never did anything illegal? Pelosi knows that the Republicans in the Senate will never vote to convict Trump. Even if there were video evidence of him killing a man in broad daylight they will never vote to convict. So Pelosi probably thinks it’s better to not impeach because that means he will never be exonerated of his crimes.

    If I were a tin pot dictator I would ban on commerce with Saudi Arabia until they fixed their human rights issues. I’d also ban boombox cars, sriracha, jalapenos and require all hot dog vendors to include ketchup among their condiments. Oh, yes, everyone would have to learn to write left handed. Bwaahahahaha!

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  59. Sherri said on April 19, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    I particularly hate the argument that we shouldn’t start impeachment proceedings because they would be divisive. The divisiveness is already there, it’s just a question of what it’s being used for. Just like bipartisanship is not a virtue in itself, divisiveness is not a vice in itself,

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  60. Deborah said on April 19, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I think congress should wait on impeachment proceedings until after they complete their own investigations, which are well underway. Mueller should be questioned, maybe Barr again etc etc, plus the financial investigations which I think will turn up a lot of shit that even the Republicans won’t be able to ignore (maybe?).

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  61. FDChief said on April 19, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    For all the tsuris surrounding the Mueller report, it’s really just another day when We the People are confronted with the brutal reality of 2019:

    You can be a good American – that is to say, you can live a life that aspires to the highest ideals of the American Experiment; equal justice under law, and spreading as broadly as possible the pursuit of happiness.

    Or you can be a good Republican.

    But you cannot be both.

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  62. Deborah said on April 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I had to look up tsuris.

    Next weekend is my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday in Charlotte, NC, so first we’re going back to Chicago on Weds and then NC on Saturday. The plumbing in our building still isn’t done, that means we won’t be able to flush our toilet between 8am and 4pm everyday. We will be able to shower before and after that. Our kitchen is operable even though it wasn’t supposed to be because they are so far behind, they didn’t even get to the kitchen. On May 2nd we’ll be back in NM until we find out that the plumbing is done. This is frustrating but not unexpected.

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  63. LAMary said on April 19, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Sara Sanders, she lies like a rug. I would bet good money that she describes herself as a good Christian and she is the daughter of Mike Huckabee. She has a job as an aggressive, professional liar. If she lies hard enough it makes what she says true, or at least she’s intimidated someone enough to not question her.

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  64. beb said on April 19, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders ought to spend time in prison for all her lying but … is lying to the American people a crime? If it were wouldn’t a lot of politicians be in trouble? You can’t say she was misrepresenting the President because she was lying to met the President’s expectations. I’m so confused.

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  65. Deborah said on April 19, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Lying is only a crime if it’s done under oath and the Trump admin knows this. This is another example of the difference between a crime and an ethical aberration, these guys are pathetic. They have no shame whatsoever.

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  66. Deborah said on April 19, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Sarah Suckabee is so sad. She can try to spin and lie her way or of trouble but it won’t work. Mark my words, or I’ll eat my hat.

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  67. Suzanne said on April 19, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Anybody wondering what it’s like living in N Indiana among Trump supporters, read the comments here:
    https://www.facebook.com/8311374021/posts/10156666000074022?sfns=mo

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  68. Heather said on April 19, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    Sarah Sanders’ job is not only to speak for the president but to speak to journalists, so yeah, it’s a pretty big deal if she lies. It’s one thing to spin, it’s another to just tell out-and-out whoppers to the press, and to know it.

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  69. basset said on April 20, 2019 at 12:00 am

    “Whopper?” What “whopper?” The President doesn’t use words like that, and why do you hate America?http://nancynall.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?_wpnonce=92f94c330e&cid=854243&pid=19140

    I’ll use the obvious Germany-in-the-Thirties comparison to get into this next… went to a military collectors’ convention today, lots of interesting stuff including one WW2 US military rifle which I might have bought in anticipation of deer season if the check from my most recent freelance gig had come in yet and Mrs. B. hadn’t been sitting out in the lobby waiting on me.

    Anyway, the level of downright obsession in a lot of these collectors is just amazing, 400-page books about variations of German helmets and so forth, but today I may have found the one which retires the trophy. Sent our Proprietress a couple photos, but this makes the point… how about a several-hundred-page “Encyclopedia of Third Reich Tableware”?

    I mean, you could not make this up… opened it to a random page just to run into a detailed description, with photo, of aluminum dinner forks made for the mess halls of the Reichs Labor Service? And, of course, it’s on Amazon… https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Third-Reich-Tableware/dp/1466999853

    What really got to me, though, was a dealer selling letters from WW2 US soldiers… hard to read those without thinking what it must have been like at both the sending and receiving end.

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  70. Jakash said on April 20, 2019 at 11:45 am

    This lying bit is the double standard for “do as I say, not as I do” Republicans at work, as always. Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied under oath about getting blowjobs. Why on Earth was he being deposed about such a thing in 1998? Uh, because of an investigation into an iffy real estate deal from 1979, of course.

    But the investigation of collusion with the Russians must, must not stray from focusing solely on collusion. Righto! Dolt 45’s crookedness with regard to many other aspects of his businesses and personal life should be off limits, doanchaknow. Does anybody believe that Trump could face a rigorous, on-the-record interrogation about virtually *anything* without perjuring himself multiple times? I don’t. Fortunately, there are other venues in which investigations are or will be ongoing.

    Deborah, I hope this isn’t too obnoxious, but I gotta say that I’d wager good money that there are no other residents in your buildings better prepared to face the trial of limited toilet-flushing than you and your husband, based on your recounting here of the system you employ in Abiquiu. : ) (Spell-check wants me to change that to “ubiquity.”) Nah gonna do it!

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  71. LAMary said on April 20, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    The reason you can’t question Trump about lying is that he didn’t have any iffy real estate deals in the past. Um, hang on. I think there may have been some but nothing big.
    And definitely he’s never lied about a blowjob.

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  72. Deborah said on April 20, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Ha ha Jakash, true. But of course, the 3 bucket system won’t work there because there’s no privy to dump it in.

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  73. Deborah said on April 20, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Scout, I can’t access your Twitter again?

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  74. alex said on April 20, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    OMG Suzanne. Here I go again. I thought people around here were fucking stupid but not that fucking stupid. Even though I’ve met people that fucking stupid, certainly, but I thought they at least knew well enough to keep it zipped.

    The JG comments remind me of the pictures from Little Rock in the ’50s after Brown v. Board, which isn’t all that far removed from the pictures of the naked people lined up at Dachau and Spandau and Auschwitz. Why the fuck isn’t anyone doing anything?

    I’m celebrating Easter tomorrow with people this fucking stupid, but also with people who are the complete opposite. And I’m hoping the subject of politics doesn’t come up. Praying even, and that’s not like me at all.

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  75. Ann said on April 21, 2019 at 2:26 am

    Neil Steinberg did an excellent “on the other hand” response to his own post.http://www.everygoddamnday.com/2019/04/its-too-easy-to-say-bob-did-it-chicago.html

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  76. Dorothy said on April 21, 2019 at 6:26 am

    I think our best chance to rid ourselves of Trump lies with his financial dealings and the SDNY. There’s a reason they say “follow the money” – because he has had an entire career based on the lie that his father only gave him a small amount of money. Look at his sister recently retiring to stop an investigation of her? It’s genetic – it’s lifelong – and eventually he’s going to regret running for office because of the spotlight it’s showing on him. The truth will out – the Mueller report is just the beginning of the end for him. This is what I cling to, anyway.

    Have any of you ever wondered if a person’s IQ impacts their ability to understand what Trump really is? I think about this a lot. I cannot rationalize any other theory, and I’ve been thinking about this a good deal. Probably too much. But I cannot let go of the idea that this boils down to the human brain. Why is it so many people look at him and do not see the evilness, the brazenness of his lies and behavior, and don’t realize something is innately wrong with him? How do they live with themselves? Do they lack the ability to empathize with others? Do they lie regularly themselves and therefore find no issue with him doing it over and over? I really don’t WANT to know the explanation for why so many people support him. I’m just thankful I had the good sense to have been suspicious of him many years ago and recognized his overall sleaziness from the beginning.

    Happy Easter by the way.

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  77. alex said on April 21, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Dorothy, I’m astounded at the number of otherwise intelligent people who fall for lots of things, not just Trump. It does seem like a flaw in the brain circuitry that makes people susceptible to charlatans and abusers, and Trump is one helluva telegenic charlatan, unfortunately. Why is it that you and I can see right through him while others do not?

    Then again, I’m not surprised at the religious right’s fealty to Trump. It’s pointless to argue with them that Trump contradicts their values because their values were never what they purported. They’ve always been authoritarians at heart and their Christianity is a flimsy disguise.

    Happy Easter. I need to get off the computer and get busy. Serving a big crowd today.

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  78. Deborah said on April 21, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Regarding the intelligence of Trump supporters, I always think of my sister because I always thought of her as an intelligent person, as a kid she was always a very good student, read a lot, took AP classes etc etc. So when she turned to right wing extremism as she got older, I was surprised and perplexed. To be honest I don’t know if she is a Trump supporter exactly but I’m pretty sure she voted for him and probably will again. The fact that she doesn’t see how she is being duped by fat cats is very disappointing. I think it does have something to do with brain chemistry or wiring of some kind not intelligence.

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  79. Sherri said on April 21, 2019 at 11:59 am

    I don’t think trump supporters are duped by him. I think they know he’s a liar and corrupt to the core, and they don’t care. Those things would matter about a Dem President, and possibly even a different Republican President, but not trump.

    I think it’s always been about trump hating the right people.

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  80. David C. said on April 21, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Their brains are wired for fear. I’m reading Robert Sapolsky’s book “Behave”. He goes into the ways liberal and conservative brains are wired differently in the way they perceive Us and Them. To a liberal, “them” is interesting and to a conservative “them” is frightening. Back in normal times when we had three mainstream networks and nuts with mimeographs it could be made to work. Now the nuts with mimeographs are Fox News and they wire fear directly into their brains. It’s like the sugar and salt in all our prepared foods. It’s perfectly prepared to satisfy that urge. I don’t know what that means for the future. A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half Fox and half free.

    https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_biology_of_the_modern_political_divide

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  81. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Happy Easter, Chag Sameach, and joy of a new week to you all. I value your presence here; thank you!

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  82. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 21, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Anyone else have Dyngus Day observances in their neck of the woods tomorrow?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Śmigus-dyngus

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  83. beb said on April 21, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Dingus day. That’s a South Bend / Democratic / Polish thing. Never hear it mentioned outside of South Bend, IN.

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  84. Little Bird said on April 21, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    https://hillreporter.com/trump-sri-lanka-terrorist-attack-killed-138-million-people-32101

    Has anyone seen this?

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  85. Suzanne said on April 21, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Good discussion about the fear wired brain. I think it’s at the heart of Trumpism. If you step back and look at the incredible changes in technology, society, scientific breakthroughs in the past 50-100 years, it is astounding, one of the largest changes probably since the onset of the industrial revolution. And it scares the hell out of people already prone to fear.
    My right wing brother, who has become overly religious (but in bad sense) in the past 10 years or so, spent most of the Easter dinner complaining about society and technology, and all things wrong with the world. “People today…why can’t they?…they shouldn’t…Hollywood…liberals…why is everything nowadays?” and on and on. It’s draining to be around him. The only people I hear him compliment are people who are or were in the military as he seems to have some sort of fetish for all things military.
    Why can’t we go back to the way it was? Because Adam & Eve couldn’t return to the Garden of Eden and neither can we.

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  86. Connie said on April 21, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    Dyngus Days happens in the South Bend area and in Buffalo NY. We found it kind of weird when we moved to Elkhart and discovered it.

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  87. Dorothy said on April 21, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Little Bird – I saw that on Twitter this morning and could barely believe my eyes. I don’t follow you-know-who but of course others linked to it, and I just could not fathom how one could make that mistake. One person said something like:

    TWEET. Poop. Wipe. POOP. Tweet. WIPE

    Repeat….

    Sounds about right to me.

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  88. Deborah said on April 21, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    To some degree we’re all wired differently, in every respect. Some people are more curious, some people are stronger believers in authority etc etc etc, there is a complex spectrum of behavior and propensities. What I continue to find surprising is how many more people than I would have ever imagined are on what I would call the radically averse to change end of the spectrum. A whopping 40% according to most polls approve of Trump, that is way more than I would have thought. I realize that number is probably a bit high because some of those people say they approve just because he’s a Republican. Perhaps many are just not perceptive, they don’t want to look below the surface of Trump’s lies. And also maybe they relate to his narcissisism, they believe they are always right too and the world revolves around them. I wish I knew.

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  89. Jenine said on April 22, 2019 at 9:29 am

    @Jeff tmmo, thanks for the Dyngus Day reference. I had never heard of it. That’s one to add to the folk traditions pile. Dousing someone of the opposite sex and whapping them with a pussy willow wand sounds like a good way to make sure spring is well underway.

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