Lions on benzos.

We appear to have turned yet another corner, or descended another step, into the hellscape of 2020 – the Justice Department is now fully operating as a wing of the Trump organization. At least the prosecutors in the Roger Stone case have resigned.

I have a friend who periodically remarks how much 2020 is going to suck, in the runup to, and perhaps entirely beyond, the election. All I can think in reply is, as of 11:59 p.m., we’re one day closer and hence, one less day of suckage.

So, the other day I found this story in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, on Jordan Peterson, a Canadian…something-or-other. College professor, philosopher, “polarizing Internet celebrity” who rose from obscurity a couple years ago. Honestly, I’ve avoided learning any more than I had to about him. I know he’s popular with conservatives. He tells young men to clean their rooms, advice I 100 percent endorse. He has problems with feminism, probably because, well, I don’t know why, but here’s my guess: His clean-your-room advice is also accompanied by an exhortation for men to take their rightful place at the head of the table? Seriously, I don’t know. Tried to watch a YouTube and found his Canadian accent distracting, and the fact he’s beloved by people I mostly can’t take seriously sort of sunk him in my book.

But anyway, he’s been feeling poorly. After a run of personal tragedy (wife, cancer), he became addicted to benzos, and now he’s gone to Russia. Why Russia? Because apparently his daughter is nuts and by nuts I mean nuh-tzz. She lives on a diet of beef, just beef, calls it the “lion diet” and advocates others do the same. This includes her father, I remember reading. In fact, the daughter says, he was first prescribed benzos after suffering “an autoimmune reaction to food.” This may be the reaction where he ate something like a cookie and claims he didn’t sleep for 25 days. Not “slept badly,” but “did not close his eyes and slip into the unconscious state the rest of us know as sleep.” For nearly a month. Yes.

Maybe you’re thinking, this family sounds nuts. I absolutely agree. But it gets nuttier.

She said the family sought alternative treatment in Russia because they found North American hospitals had misdiagnosed him, and were prescribing “more medications to cover the response he was experiencing from the benzodiazepines,” Mikhaila said. “He nearly died several times.”

She and her husband took him to Moscow last month, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and put into an induced coma for eight days. She said his withdrawal was “horrific,” worse than anything she had ever heard about. She said Russian doctors are not influenced by pharmaceutical companies to treat the side-effects of one drug with more drugs, and that they “have the guts to medically detox someone from benzodiazepines.”

Jordan Peterson has only just come out of an intensive care unit, Mikhaila said. He has neurological damage, and a long way to go to full recovery. He is taking anti-seizure medication and cannot type or walk unaided, but is “on the mend” and his sense of humour has returned.

This man is truly a philosopher for the Trump era. Maybe he’ll stay in Moscow.

What else is happening tonight, besides the New Hampshire primary? The Westminster dog show! Which I cannot watch because no cable, but I’m pulling for all the dogs. May the best one win. Apparently the golden retriever pulled off an upset in the sporting group, so who knows.

As for me, I slept terribly last night and am headed for an early bed.

Posted at 9:02 pm in Uncategorized |

79 responses to “Lions on benzos.”

  1. Heather said on February 11, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    Finding it hard not to scream “I TOLD YOU SO!” at all of the people who said we should give Trump a chance when he was elected.

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  2. Gretchen said on February 11, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    The American way is to prescribe drugs during withdrawal, such as anti-seizure drugs. Which she thinks of as more medications to cover the withdrawal, which for some reason she knows better than. So she takes him somewhere where they don’t use other drugs, just go cold-turkey and he has seizures. Which is why Americans don’t do that. And she still spins is as some story about how they bravely defied the American status quo and went to Russia.

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  3. Deborah said on February 11, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    Tonight I made a Mushroom, beef stew to take to Abiquiu tomorrow. LB made a tomato soup which I’ll also take some to Abiguiu. I’m sitting by the fire after a wonderful winter day, life is good.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 11, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Midwestern nice and practical is running 44% right now in NH.

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  5. alex said on February 11, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Mikhaila? She’s unconsciously punishing her father for giving her that name.

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  6. Jakash said on February 12, 2020 at 12:42 am

    So, in the opening episode of this season’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David wore a MAGA hat as a way to get out of having a lunch meeting that he didn’t want to have. He knew the guy he was having lunch with would be appalled and leave, which the guy did. Then, he used the hat to keep from getting in a fight with a biker (motor version) who he almost accidentally hit with his car. That worked, too, since once the biker saw the hat, he figured he’d give the old MAGA guy a pass.

    For whatever reason, Trump tweeted this biker exchange with the caption “Tough Guys For Trump.”

    But the question is — is Larry David concerned about the fact that the part of his audience that is made up of Trump supporters will be offended by this MAGA-hat story line? What about upsetting a segment of your audience? Here’s what!

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  7. A. Riley said on February 12, 2020 at 12:42 am

    All good doggies. Siba, Daniel, all the others. Good doggies. 10/10.

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  8. basset said on February 12, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Siba no dog. Siba topiary. Daniel best dog.

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  9. Jakash said on February 12, 2020 at 1:53 am

    Yep, basset. If that’s a “Standard” Poodle, I sure don’t want to see a frou frou version. Seems like another electoral college victory — Daniel surely would have won the popular vote!

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  10. Dexter Friend said on February 12, 2020 at 2:38 am

    I have premium cable and all week I can’t find the dog show. What network carried it? Tuesday I got carried away watching “Sneaky Pete” on Prime and forgot to try to find Westminster. I guess I wasn’t too interested as I didn’t Google, I just channel surfed around and did not see it listed anywhere.
    It’s ugly with the Dems. I hope when it’s over the Dems can unite behind the candidate to beat Trump, but now the hatred is nasty.

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  11. ROGirl said on February 12, 2020 at 4:09 am

    I’m not surprised by Trump turning out to be Trump (and not the man who could be reined in by grownups), but I am surprised by the complete and total surrender of people who are willing to subvert the norms for him.

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  12. Joe Kobiela said on February 12, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Report from the mouse house.
    I haven’t seen any political hats or shirts pro or con for either side, cast members that I have spoken too have commented that people are spending more and in general seem happier than in years past and the weather is absolutely fantastic sunny and mid 80’s
    Pilot Joe

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  13. Suzanne said on February 12, 2020 at 8:08 am

    I watched part of the dog show last night and it was great! I wanted the boxer to win the big prize, but went to bed before it got that far. I also decided that I missed my calling as a dog show commentator. What fun would that be! Loved all the dogs.

    Did any of you note the passing last week of actor Orson Bean? And did you note that his daughter was married to Andrew Breitbart? Life is flat out strange.

    I don’t know a lot about Jordan Peterson but I had read about his drug addiction and thought, “Oh, OxyRush part deux!”

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  14. nancy said on February 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    The poodle’s clip is a throwback to its lineage as a hunting dog. The poufs are on its joints — ankles, hips, etc. — and what we’d call its “core,” i.e., vital organs. Before it was bred to be something to parade up and down Fifth Avenue, they were actually useful as water dogs.

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  15. Suzanne said on February 12, 2020 at 8:27 am

    On a positive note, a twenty something young man I know at work (don’t know well. He’s new) asked me yesterday if I am a Trump supporter. When I said no, not on your life, he thanked me. Told me that as a young person, he was so happy to know an (ahem) older person that did not support the orange menace.
    Honestly, it made my day!

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  16. Mark P said on February 12, 2020 at 8:52 am

    I bet there is a clinic in Mexico that could have cured the Canadian Nut. Probably run by an American dentist.

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  17. 4dbirds said on February 12, 2020 at 10:01 am

    I wish democrats and those that align with them would stop buying into all the concern trolls who keep saying everything is in disarray with us. We’re in the middle of a primary, it’s a fight and it should be. Did you read about all the people deciding on their candidate just hours before voting? That means we are taking this seriously. Don’t worry, we’ll settle on a candidate and if the messaging is correct, our candidate will win.

    Ever wonder about those Obama/Trump voters? This woman says that’s a myth and there are no swing voters. I found it fascinating and if true, I hope our eventual candidate follows the advice. Also, I love dogs, but my current three are my last. I’m 65 and I don’t want to leave any doggies behind for my kids to worry about.

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  18. Scout said on February 12, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for that link, 4dbirds, it makes a whole lot of sense and it gives me hope that there really is light at the end of this long dark tunnel. I especially liked this:
    “And today her model tells her the Democrats are a near lock for the presidency in 2020, and are likely to gain House seats and have a decent shot at retaking the Senate. If she’s right, we are now in a post-economy, post-incumbency, post record-while-in-office era of politics. Her analysis, as Bitecofer puts it with characteristic immodesty, amounts to nothing less than “flipping giant paradigms of electoral theory upside down.””

    We spoke to our son in LA this morning about his take on the primaries so far, and about who he will choose when CA votes, and he said that he doesn’t know yet but is less concerned about policy and more concerned about who can beat tRump. He thinks the primary turnout has been kind of meh because voters aren’t sure yet who that is and are worried about making a mistake. He predicts that once we have a decision the turnout in November will be big. That seems to align with Bitecofer’s model.

    I believe the Democratic party needs to take a long hard look at the primary process itself. Starting things off in red states that are predominantly white with few delegates awarded just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially in terms of the money, time and effort put into trying to win them. What would make more sense is to have several states vote on the same days, like super Tuesday broken up into equal portions with different regions represented in each batch. Like Maine, South Carolina, Oregon, Colorado and Illinois being one batch, for instance. A mix of regions and a mix of red and blue states.

    So Pete won Iowa and Bernie won NH. In terms of overall polling neither of these wins means much of anything, no matter how lathered up the pundits get over these results. Virtually NOBODY has voted yet and this thing is still wide open.

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  19. Sherri said on February 12, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Rachel Bitecofer is a good follow on Twitter (@RachelBitecofer).

    I swear, watching cable news and reading most political punditry will make you dumber about the election. They still operate in a model where the two parties are fighting over the white male vote, and that hasn’t really been the case for 40 years. If Bloomberg could set aside his enormous ego and use the millions he’s spending on ad buys for himself to target turnout for Latinos and blacks, and support for organizations that do that (which is not the DNC, unfortunately, which is also still operating in an old model), then real change would have a chance.

    Don’t change the voters’ minds. Change the voters.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    How do people feel about the idea of a 50 state Super Tuesday? It would take power away from tiny & white Iowa* and New Hampshire. The Indiana primary isn’t until May, and by that time the race has been decided, so I feel excluded.

    *And pandering to small blocs, like the corn farmers who want ethanol added to gas.

    Still feeling crummy, so I’ve been spending a lot of time watching all the birds and squirrels out back. This morning I stood outside listening to their happy sounds, watching them swoop and scamper around, and my heart almost burst with joy. Then a HUGE woodpecker landed on the feeder; at least a foot high. It was gone in a couple of seconds and my mouth, it was gaping. We’ll have to fill it tonight to be ready for the snowstorm that’s coming.

    The poodle makes me think of the one my family adopted for about six months when I was five, with way too much energy and a bad habit of knocking me down with every encounter. To this day I’m not a fan of dogs who jump up on me, no matter how friendly. To this day I also don’t know why my cat loving parents decided to get a dog.

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  21. Jakash said on February 12, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Well, Nancy, I’m in over my head already, but I’ll bite! “The poodle’s clip is a throwback to its lineage as a hunting dog.”

    Just looking at Wikipedia, I see “As to where any of these clips originated, such is in dispute: Some sources believe the show clips evolved from working clips, which originally provided warmth to major joints when the dogs were immersed in cold water. The rest of the body is shaved for less drag in the water. Others express skepticism at this theory, instead citing the French circus as the origin of the entertaining and unique clips.”

    I just wonder why, if that clip is functional, it doesn’t seem to be used on other dogs — hunting, water, or otherwise. But I see why it’s used in the show — “In American Kennel Club (AKC) shows, adults must be shown in the ‘Continental’ or ‘English saddle’ clips.”

    Gotta say — French circus sounds about right to me. There are several photos of standard poodles with just regular grown-out hair on the page. Seems like that should be “standard”. Siba’s look is obviously “custom”. Or, if Siba were called a French Circus Poodle, that’d fit. (Yes, yes, I realize that the preposterous trimming doesn’t affect the poor pup’s genes, and that it’s still the same breed as the non-frou frou versions.)

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  22. Jakash said on February 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    On the political front, I gotta say that the campaign just makes me very anxious. Which is why I pay it little attention, with none going to cable news. I guess I’ve been rooting for Warren, but I don’t have any confidence that she can get the nomination, let alone beat Hair Furor.

    After witnessing the past 4 years, I’m sold on “Don’t change the voters’ minds. Change the voters,” Sherri. Anybody who thinks the Russia investigation was a “hoax,” or that a Senate “trial” that allowed no witnesses was anything other than a transparent sham and dereliction of duty is not going to be coming around to a more rational outlook in the next few months.

    It’s just that a.) I’m also not very confident that certain voters will even be allowed to vote in certain places. And b.) the one thing the Republicans have proved, over and over, is their willingness to vote for very, uh, flawed candidates to get the policies they want enacted, while Democrats so often allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

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  23. Scout said on February 12, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Julie Robinson @20: a 50 state primary would be the fairest way of all. The only reason maybe breaking things down to something like 5 super Tuesdays with 10 states each is that the candidates would have more opportunity to visit and rally before each block votes. But I guess whichever block voted first would still drive the electability narrative, so there would still be that feeling of later votes mattering less.

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  24. Dexter Friend said on February 12, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Trump is on live TV ranting like an escapee from a looney bin about Roger Stone, saying Stone is innocent of everything and hinting of a pardon. He is pushing for attorneys to go after Comey and McCabe, saying “there is no one who really knows what Roger Stone did!” Hey! Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and other charges, all serious crimes, and Barr is in-step with the liar-in-chief. Trump is trying to override the court convictions by the office of the President. Is he going to get over with this? OUTRAGE!!

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  25. Mark P said on February 12, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    I can believe that a Democratic voter could be undecided about who to support in the primaries, but I simply refuse to believe that anyone could be undecided on whether to vote for Trump or a Democrat. Anyone who says that is just too ashamed to admit they are a Trump voter. No one is going to convince that person to vote Democratic, so, forget them.

    New Hampshire was a disappointment for me. Sanders is just too damned old to be president, and Buttigieg is just too damned moderate. Biden is too damned old and moderate. I really like Warren, but I don’t expect her to get the nomination. But whoever gets the nomination will be my favorite come election day.

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  26. Sherri said on February 12, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Remember when Jeff Sessions seemed like a terrible choice for AG? (Because he was, but there is no bottom.)

    Oh well. Right now, my outrage is directed at our health care system. My 34 year old trainer has been diagnosed with gastric cancer. She has health insurance. But the out of pocket expense for the chemo she needs to treat her cancer is $1000/week, after insurance.

    Is it any wonder that gofundme is full of people trying to pay medical bills?

    It’s been a trying time. Two friends have died unexpectedly in the last few months, another almost died, and yet another just entered hospice with cancer that has spread everywhere and is no longer treatable. And this. At least I have the money to help her.

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  27. susan said on February 12, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Julie, I think you saw a pileated woodpecker at your feeder. They are about the size of a crow. They are BIG!

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  28. Bitter Scribe said on February 12, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    To Jordan Peterson: Dude, learn how to run your own life before you give me advice on running mine.

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  29. Mark P said on February 12, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    If it was a woodpecker and it was that big, it was almost certainly the majestic pileated woodpecker. We have quite a few here and I love to see and hear them. They are usually a deep-woods bird.

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  30. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    Pretty sure it was the pileated. I audibly gasped when I saw it. Too bad we just sent our binoculars down to Orlando. I’m also frustrated that I don’t have a camera with a telephoto lens; maybe I’ll look into an add-on for my cell phone. Anyone have experience with those?

    Sherri, that is a lot of pain for you and the people around you. I’m so sorry, and I share your anger at the system. As I’ve said before, my sister was almost bankrupted by her medical expenses and was spending down her savings at a rapid rate. In less than two years she’d have been on Medicaid. I can only send you good thoughts, and maybe prescribe some bird watching therapy.

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  31. Heather said on February 12, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    How many times do we have to point out how fucked up our health care system is? It’s beyond ridiculous. Now that I’m self-employed I’m really taking it personally how much the government doesn’t care if I die. I mean, I was fighting and voting for better health care options before, but now I get it on a really visceral level. Even if you have insurance, you’re screwed. This is no way to live.

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 12, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    The likely extinct ivory-billed woodpecker, close relative to the pileated, was also known as the “Jesus bird” because when you had one fly into view, the usual human reaction was “Jesus!” Even the lesser pileated woodpecker leaves me with much the same response.

    Prayerfully, of course.

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  33. Mark P said on February 12, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t often do this but here’s a link to a blog post I did on the pileated woodpecker.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    Mark, what a great blog post, and it’s definitely what I saw. Forget about getting a picture, this thing moved fast. And Jeff, I will confess that my gasp included the words Oh My God.

    A follow up to the dog show: apparently many people were outraged that Daniel the Golden Retriever didn’t win. But Daniel and his owners, are, according to the New York Times, feeling sanguine. “He is happy to be home and just hanging out,” said Tammy Tomlinson, one of his owners. “This morning, he dug himself a nice hole in the backyard and decided to lie in it,” she added.

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  35. Deborah said on February 13, 2020 at 5:39 am

    We see woodpeckers fairly regularly in Santa Fe, but they’re not that big. Every once in a while one will rat-a-tat-tat on our chimney lining (top of the flue? Something metal up there) up on the roof and it reverberates through the fireplace place, usually in the morning, making sure you’re awake.

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  36. alex said on February 13, 2020 at 6:51 am

    One of my laments about our outdoor cat is her skill at killing birds. She took out a big pileated woodpecker one time, much to our horror. Though we have numerous birdhouses all over our property, we are considering taking them down because of this cat. She lies in wait for fledglings and they don’t have a chance.

    I’ve come to understand why the former owners of our house clad it in aluminum. Between the woodpeckers and the carpenter bees, you wouldn’t have much of a house left. Next door, where they have all wood siding, they hang pie tins from the eaves to ward off the woodpeckers.

    This place is great for birding and nature watching in general. The pros of having this cat is that she has done a fantastic job of controlling the populations of chipmunks and mice and moles and voles. She showed up about 7-8 years ago and has yet to be taken to a vet; she won’t allow it.

    How she kills and fends for herself without claws is simply amazing. We figure that she was a feral kitten that someone tried to domesticate and it just didn’t take. She is not a house cat and refuses to be brought indoors, and when you manage it she shows her displeasure by shitting and pissing all over everything. We provide her with a heated outdoor house in winter and feed her daily and she pretty much sticks to our property.

    I miss having a dog and very much look forward to semi- or total retirement when I can have another, but we simply are not home enough and feel it would not be fair. The last dog I adopted was extremely needy and I realized it wasn’t a good fit.

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  37. Jeff Borden said on February 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Alex, your cat would qualify for a cabinet post under the Orange King.

    I was listening to an interview with McKay Coppins, a writer at The Atlantic, while going to teach this morning. Boy howdy! It was depressing. His story examines a $1-billion “death star” of misinformation created by tRump campaign manager Brad Parscale capable of micro-targeting any American voter with the most vicious and ugly propaganda pitches. Coppins says the Democrats already are very far behind in harnessing this kind of technology and the party is riven by discussions of whether to fight fire with fire or take a higher road.

    The scariest part was his statement that our ability to discern truth from falsehoods will be permanently damaged by these propaganda efforts. If you buy into the theory of Steve Bannon about destroying the existing power structure, this is the kind of thing he was embracing. The truth will be whatever we are told by the powers-that-be.

    I’ve no doubt tRump is the most ignorant man ever elected to the presidency, but those around him are working their dark magic unmolested while we fuss over his latest stupid tweet. These are genuinely dangerous, dangerous times.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    More in the Jesus/pileated department:

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  39. Deborah said on February 13, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    My husband said this morning that he wouldn’t be surprised if the reason the powers that be decided to reject Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill, is that they want to put Trump’s mug on it. I guess if Andrew Jackson made it, that’s not a wild prediction.

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  40. Sherri said on February 13, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Back in the days when I used to do sabermetric analysis, there were often questions I couldn’t measure directly, so I would ask, if that effect is happening, if it is real, what else would I see that I could measure?

    I read another apologia this morning for reluctant white evangelical trump voters that tried to make the case that no, they weren’t throwing away their values, it was because of their values that they would vote for trump, flawed though they knew he was. It was because abortion is a transcendent moral issue and they could never vote for a Democrat.

    Well, if that is true, what else must be true? What is it about abortion that makes it a transcendent moral issue? It can’t be the absolute sanctity of life, because while The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty, most white evangelicals support the death penalty. It can’t be about the innocent little babies, because once those babies come into world, things like health care or food or shelter for those children become complicated issues, not transcendent moral issues. And putting babies in cages as part of an immigration policy wasn’t as important to them as forced pregnancy. So what is it about abortion?

    Having grown up in white evangelical world before abortion became the watchword for everything, what I think is that abortion is, for them, a suitably abstract way of claiming the moral high ground in a world in which they are increasingly becoming aware that they are wrong and losing on so many real world issues having to do with how they actually have to live, most notably race, gender, and lgtbq issues. I think the cognitive dissonance is killing them, so they cling to abortion, and tell themselves they’re saving the innocent babies. For them, it’s an argument stopper, in their own minds. They can feel bad about children and cages, then tell themselves, “but abortion!” They can blame gun violence and extreme weather events not on our society refusing to deal with gun control or climate change, but on God being displeased with us about abortion.

    There is no amount of outreach or compromise a Democratic candidate can do to reach these voters, because they need abortion as a transcendent moral issue to hold up their entire world at this point. Ask any exvangelical: the whole thing is a house of cards; once you start questioning, the whole thing collapses.

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  41. Jeff Borden said on February 13, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Bravo, Sherri, bravo!

    Opposition to abortion costs the believer nothing. They can pat themselves on the back for their moral stand without getting involved in the messy business of actually raising a child. . .particularly a child that may be unwanted. My response to anyone raising a hue and cry about abortion is this: How many children have you adopted? How many kids have you fostered? How much would you be willing to see your taxes rise to care for all unwanted children with decent housing, clothing, nutrition and education?

    Honestly, I sometimes get the feeling these anti-abortion scolds don’t give a fig for the fetus. They want to punish the mother (dog forbid they ever blame the father) for enjoying sex in a way they dislike, i.e., outside of marriage.

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  42. beb said on February 13, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    The “other” metric one can use to evaluate evangelicals is to ask if this or that position increases or deceases patriarchy? Does it devalue woman or people of color. Does it try to regulate the lives of others? Evangelicals aren’t interested in their relations with God but with controlling the lives of every one else. They love Trump because he hates the same people they do.

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  43. nancy said on February 13, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    We need to consider something else here: What if Brad Parscale isn’t this evil genius? What if he’s just another half-bright Trumper who was smart enough to hitch his grift train to Trump’s, but not all that smart otherwise? The Coppins story in the Atlantic was certainly alarming. But I keep thinking of how the U.S. built up the Soviet army to be this nearly unstoppable force, and then they were stopped by a bunch of mujaheddin in Afghanistan. The people I know who dealt with Trump when he was campaigning in 2016 all said they were a bunch of dummies, because who else would go to work for that guy? Melania’s speechwriter wasn’t even smart enough to cover up plagiarism that a middle-school English teacher could sniff out.

    Maybe Parscale isn’t the scary guy we make him out to be. Maybe he’s the Wizard of Oz. We have coders and ad people, too.

    ProPublica looked at him last fall:

    In political terms, Brad Parscale was a nobody before his association with Trump. In the span of just a few years, he has reinvented himself, transforming from an apolitical digital geek — building local websites in T-shirts and cargo shorts for a small San Antonio company — into a hyperpartisan president’s raging avatar, bestriding the national stage in Ermenegildo Zegna suits.

    “He was not that guy three years ago,” says John Dickson, a principal of Denim Group, a prominent San Antonio cybersecurity firm, who met Parscale during the 14 years Parscale worked in that city. “He was not a bomb-thrower or an ideologue. He was a savvy business guy, a hustler.”

    In other words, a grifter. Just like the boss.

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  44. Suzanne said on February 13, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Sherri, I have been listening to a podcast called “Straight White American Jesus” done by two professors of religious studies, both former evangelicals. Your theory is their theory; that abortion (which the Baptists thought was a good thing until Jerry Falwell came along) is their touchstone for morality that trumps everything else. If they are against abortion, then anything else they believe is good. It makes hard choices easy. When you go into the voting booth, you don’t have to think about which candidate would do the most for the common good because you only have to think about which one is pro-life. Evangelicals see the world in wrong/right terms anyway, so it fits their mindset. And makes hard, complicated choices simple.
    I have even asked people who vote only on a candidate’s stance on abortion if they are concerned that they are being lied to. All say they aren’t because it’s worth the risk to save the babies. All of them.

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  45. Sherri said on February 13, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    Parscale is not a genius. He just took advantage of what Facebook makes possible. Hell, Facebook even imbedded people in the campaign for them.

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  46. Jeff Borden said on February 13, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    I didn’t mean to infer I found a lump like Brad Parscale any kind of genius. I heartily agree a third-rate reality TV performer isn’t going to attract the best and the brightest. Rather, it’s the favored attack mode of disinformation on an industrial scale that scares me. One of the hallmarks of effective propaganda is to so muddy the waters that the search for facts and truths becomes exhausting and overwhelming and many people simply give up trying.

    But my point about Bannon remains. People like Betsy DeVos are horrible ideologues, but she is gutting the Department of Education and protecting the for-profit education scammers out there among other outrages. While we might applaud people of principle who resign their posts rather than carry out the commands of immoral clods, their departures only weaken the institution they leave. The State Department needs more people like the former Ukraine ambassador, not less. The Justice Department needs more, not less, people like the prosecutors who diligently earned a conviction of Roger Stone and then resigned when Barr intervened on the *president’s behest. Bannon’s theory is all about gutting long-standing institutions, weakening their reason to exist, demoralizing the bureaucrats within. None of these departments will be as strong, as good and as effective after this *administration. How long it will take to restock the talent pool is anyone’s guess.

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  47. Icarus said on February 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Dexter (friend) I know you missed the Dog Show so here’s something related

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  48. Julie Robinson said on February 13, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    We’ve uncovered a subspecies of nnc-ers, the birder! I wish to report that yesterday I also saw nuthatches, which I was calling woodpeckers. They behaved just like the woodpeckers, pecking on trees and only coming to the feeder for suet. But the color was amazing–delft blue with black outlines and a white breast. This picture looks faded next to the ones visiting me:

    Speaking of one issue voters, our paper carried an op-ed this morning calling out Liz Brown, the ultra Catholic and ultra pro-lifer that got herself elected to the state Senate. She voted in the majority against a law giving protections to pregnant workers. He points out that she was not standing with the unborn despite constantly touting her pro-life bona fides. It’s really well written:

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  49. susan said on February 13, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Nuthatches walk down the tree trunk head first. I love watching them do that.

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  50. Julie Robinson said on February 13, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Yes, they do! They are the coolest little things ever. The shape of the black outlining them looks almost architectural. Until yesterday I had never seen one.

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  51. Dorothy said on February 13, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    We have nuthatches pretty regularly here. Not too many woodpeckers, though. At our first little Cape Cod house in Turtle Creek PA one really loved to drill on our downpipes/gutters. All hours of the day, and frequently when my kids were napping. Once in a fit of anger I ran up to bang on the half circle glass window in my son’s room, and of course I put my hand through the glass. We had to to a hurry up patch of cardboard and tape, and a few days later we pulled up in front of the house. Mike glanced up and said “Jeez that looks SO white trash!” and he got it fixed the next day. That’s my primary memory related to woodpeckers. I’m not really crazy about birds. I love to look at them, but the idea of them being near me makes me freak out. Wings flapping and sharp beaks/talons just make me nuts.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    For anyone besides me and Deborah who like this sort of landscape, here’s three minutes of pretty drone footage of it . . . not so many birds there, to be honest, but lots of geology and not a little archaeology and a whole lotta scenery. Plus the scent of piñon.

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  53. Sherri said on February 13, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    I’ll give him this, Bloomberg does understand how to spend his money to get what he wants. Too bad he’s a racist misogynist.

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  54. beb said on February 13, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    We get a lot of Bloomberg ads here in Detroit. Their attacks on Trump was wonderful for their straightforwardness. I’d like to see more Democrats go after Trumps and the Rs with that kind of directness.

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  55. Deborah said on February 13, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    My dad was a big birder, and some other relatives are too. I pay some attention to birds but not anything like true birders.

    Jeff tmmo, I cant watch that video as I’m in Abiquiu, it’s a stretch that I can post comments here from time to time, but videos are impossible. We go back to Santa Fe on Saturday so I’ll watch it then.

    My time in NM is drawing to a close for a spell. Next Thursday we head back to Chicago. I always start yearning to go back about a week before, I miss the bustle and the lake. When I’m there after a month or so I miss the quiet and the mountains. I’m so glad I get both worlds from time to time.

    I’m so sick of Trump and his unlawfulness, and his enablers are even worse. It’s disgusting.

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  56. David C. said on February 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    If you love woodpeckers, the best thing to have is a neighbor with a mostly dead tree. We have that neighbor and we love her for it. She told us it isn’t coming down until it falls down or the city makes her cut it down. We put up suet feeders and get downys, harrys, red-bellied, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and a couple more I can’t remember.

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  57. alex said on February 13, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Sherri @ 40, I notice the evangelicals are also resorting to their other favorite chestnut to explain away all of the less-than-transcendant social ills — [insert atrocity here] happens “because they took prayer out of the schools.”

    I’ve also heard them bemoaning theft and vandalism purposely as a segue into “In a society that doesn’t value human life, it’s no surprise there’s no respect for property.”

    Bloomberg may be a racist and a misogynist but I’ll forgive him if he is willing to spend his money insulting right-wingers who will never vote for him anyway. I fault Obama and most of the current field for being too magnanimous and mealy mouthed in their naive expectations that supposed “independents” will cross over to their side. They’re playing with a huge disadvantage against an incumbent who has no compunction about attacking his opponents brutally. What Trump needs is a good dose of his own medicine from someone who doesn’t give a fuck.

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  58. Julie Robinson said on February 13, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    David, the little area behind us is completely natural with plenty of dead trees, many half down and diagonal, and very fun for the squirrels. No doubt the small stream is an attraction too; so far it hasn’t frozen over. It’s so incredible that such a small slice of land, maybe 30 feet in width, can sustain so much wildlife*. What a testimony to the power of nature.

    Dorothy, I feel the same way about birds up close and I’m quite content to do my birding from behind the patio door. Next weekend my husband and three of his sisters are going to tromp around fields down by Bloomington to watch for some migratory birds. No way to I want to go along.

    *There are a lot of bird feeders in this community of senior apartments, so they have help.

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  59. Sherri said on February 13, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Sorry, no matter how much he insults trump, I will not vote for a racist misogynist. We don’t fix the rot by installing a somewhat less crazy version of the current occupant.

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  60. Deborah said on February 13, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    We have a completely dead tree in the condo building side yard near our windows and the birds do love it. It has lost a lot of branches and the trunk is infested with wood wasps. Those wasps don’t sting, they’re hideous, they drill holes in the tree, and the females have long ovipositors that deliver their eggs into the drilled holes. After two years new wasps come out of the holes. That’s probably what the woodpeckers are after.

    I’m reading a strange book “I Am God” by Giacomo Sartori, translated from Italian. It’s written from the perspective of God who has fallen in love with a young woman earthling. It’s very funny and has asides about the state of the world, and the cosmos. At first I wasn’t sure I liked it and was ready to ditch it, but now I’m in to it. It’s a slim volume, easy reading. I get a lot of reading done in Abiquiu.

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  61. David C. said on February 13, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Last fall we had a red-bellied woodpecker on our mountain ash tree. It cut holes in the bark in a nearly perfect grid and when the wasps and other bugs came to get the sap he snapped them up out of the air. We watched it for days. It was fascinating. For a tiny little city lot, we get lots of bird watching done. We’re right between the Fox River and Lake Winnebago, so we watch eagles go overhead. We get plenty of hummingbirds and everything in between. The only thing we really miss is the bluebirds we had at our house in Michigan.

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  62. Sherri said on February 13, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    The prayer in school thing is total bullshit. I’m not saying evangelicals agreed with the decision, but it was not a call to action, and was not something constantly talked about.

    What motivated action, and led to abortion being used as a wedge action? The IRS threat against Bob Jones University and their racist policies. Abortion was a proxy, because “the IRS is going to force us to integrate!” wasn’t something you could say out loud.

    Likewise, they’re very worried about losing their tax exempt status over how they treat lqtbq+ people, but they don’t need abortion as a proxy for that, they’re quite okay with saying “the IRS is going to force us to marry gay people!”

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  63. Sherri said on February 13, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Here’s a weird thing. I’ve done all the standard opt out things you can do to cut down on junk mail, but in the last few months, I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting junk mail with my address but not my name. We’ve lived here over 16 years, and I know the names of everybody who has ever lived at this address (there were only two homeowners prior to us). These names are for people who have never lived at this address. Just junk mail, but still kind of weird.

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  64. alex said on February 14, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Sherri, I live in a district where my state representatives perennially introduce legislation to return prayer to the classroom. It’s showboating and they know it will never pass but they persist because it makes their hardline constituents happy. It’s amazing that this shit doesn’t get through while draconian impositions on abortion rights always pass and then get overturned, or at least watered down, in the courts.

    Anyway, I can tell you anecdotally that blaming lack of prayer in school for the world’s problems is a big thing around here. It doesn’t galvanize big rallies like abortion but it undergirds the world view of the same people who turn up for such events.

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  65. Suzanne said on February 14, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Oh absolutely Alex, on prayer in schools. I hear it all the time. The problem is that people’s notion of how public schools run is wildly out of whack with reality. Get people here in rural IN talking about public universities and you will find that they think the profs are all a bunch of Marxist atheists who want to do nothing more than lure your kids away from God and into drugs and communism.

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  66. alex said on February 14, 2020 at 9:40 am

    “Educated fools” is what they call us.

    One of my friends got a scholarship package to the Berklee Institute of Music. His whole family gave him grief over it, told him he should go get a factory job making big bucks like they were doing. This was in the ’80s. Today my friend is the head of the music department in a large school system and makes a whole lot more money than any of his siblings. But he’s an educated fool.

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  67. LAMary said on February 14, 2020 at 10:31 am

    I love the New Mexico landscape. For about two years I had a boyfriend who was a geologist. We lived in Colorado but traveled to Utah, NM, Arizona and Wyoming whenever we had time and money at the same time. John McPhee writes so well about that part of the world.

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  68. Sherri said on February 14, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Alex, all I can tell you is that the prayer in schools decision came down in 1962. It was not a catalyst for action among evangelicals.

    I pay a lot more attention to what people do than to what they say. I’m sure people are sincere in their belief about school prayer, just as I’m sure they are sincere in their belief about abortion, but both are proxies for what’s really driving them, as their actions show. What I say is, abortion is their strongest proxy, the one that actually created the white evangelicals as a political force. School prayer didn’t do that.

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  69. alex said on February 14, 2020 at 11:05 am

    And the Scopes decision came down in 1925, but that hasn’t stopped Dennis Kruse, my state senator, from pushing for both creationism and school prayer from his statehouse pulpit for the last 20 years. Fortunately even in this benighted shithole of a state the rest of his fellow legislators regard him as a kook.

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  70. Deborah said on February 14, 2020 at 11:09 am

    So this day hasn’t started well, my 100 year old mother in law fell and broke her hip this morning. She’s having surgery today. Not good. My husband will probably be making a trip to Charlotte maybe tomorrow. She is such a sharp lady, I hate it that her quality of life will be effected.

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  71. Julie Robinson said on February 14, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Deborah, I’m so sorry to hear that, especially knowing the stats on breaking a hip. My mom is paranoid about that, and I’m trying to get her to join the Y so we can exercise together. They also have classes for seniors, including strength and balance. It’s a tall order because she thinks it’s too expensive, even though she’s comfortably well off. Her insurance doesn’t have any Senior Sneakers type programs.

    I’ve just been sitting here looking through the senior resource guide we picked up yesterday at the League for the Blind. We had an appointment there to get Mom some better magnifying glasses, unfortunately the lady had a childcare emergency and cancelled, after we had driven for 35 minutes.

    I’m also getting an application for her to use the Access bus service for when I’m not around. And I’m trying to find a grocery delivery service she would like. We had Shipt for awhile, but the interface confused her and again, she thought it was too expensive.

    Even living almost next door, it can be frustrating and difficult to get her the help she needs. And always time consuming. How do people on their own do this?

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  72. Sherri said on February 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    I’m meeting tomorrow with a friend who contacted me because trump has finally pushed her over the edge, and she feels like she needs to do something to “get that lunatic out of the White House.” She’s never been political (ie, always had the privilege of not being political), and is certainly more conservative than I am. So I’ve been thinking hard about where to send her so that she doesn’t feel alienated and ineffective and more discouraged.

    The first question I’m going to ask her is, if trump dropped dead of a heart attack tomorrow, what would change for you? Would that be enough, and you’d be satisfied and feel you could go back to normal? It’s a way of getting to what it is about trump that bothers you; are you okay with the policies, but just wish he’d stop saying the quiet parts out loud?

    I think it’s an important question to ask. Stop looking at trump. Just like there’s a push to stop focusing on the perpetrators of gun violence and instead center the victims, stop centering trump and instead center what or who is harmed. If trump dropped dead tomorrow, that harm would still be there; who is going to heal the victims? What does that look like? Who gets left behind?

    That’s why Bloomberg is a hard no for me. We have plenty of evidence of who gets left behind with him.

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  73. Scout said on February 14, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    I got booted off twitter today for calling Laura Ingraham a racist skank. Jeez, trumpistanis know how to dish it out, but sure can’t take it.

    Sorry about your m-i-l’s fall, Deborah. That is scary stuff at that age.

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  74. David C. said on February 14, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    My school stopped prayer when I was in kindergarten. Sometime during the 1964/65 school year. The prayer was so meaningless that I still remember it. “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food, Amen.” It didn’t work. I’m secular. I didn’t know any of the high utility words back then but if I did I’m sure I would have thought “Just let me eat my fucking cracker”.

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  75. Jeff Borden said on February 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    I attended Mass five days per week before my elementary school classes even began for eight full years. Also attended church on Sunday, of course. I’m pretty much a full-blown atheist these days, though I respect and admire those who find strength in their faith.

    Students are allowed to pray in school. (I did it before every algebra test.) The rules are against an organized prayer.

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  76. Deborah said on February 14, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    Thanks David C and Jeff B for the laughs, I needed it today. My MiL had her surgery, my husband is waiting for word from his sister who is with her in Charlotte to let him know if he should go there.

    In the meantime, look at this illustration for the New Yorker, I know this illustrator, wow, this is accurate

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  77. LAMary said on February 14, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    I remember when school prayer was banned. My home town, Hawthorne, NJ, was in the news big time. I was nine, so I don’t remember who was making it a big deal but all the NY TV stations were there interviewing people in the street, in front of churches and schools. Eventually they gave up and prayer ended but not right away. It was a very big deal.

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  78. Deborah said on February 15, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    My husband leaves for Charlotte tomorrow morning, and he doesn’t get there until almost 5pm. Ugh. Meanwhile they had his mom up and walking this morning, at 100 years old and 3 pins in her hip. Amazing.

    We closed up the Abiquiu cabin for the season, we’ll be back there in late March. It’s always a sweaty task, running around doing this and that, loading up the car, even when it’s below freezing outside. I’ll be in Santa Fe now until Thursday morning. Then it’s my turn for a full travel day.

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  79. Jakash said on February 16, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Granted, there are probably Cult 45 members that feel about Trump the way these folks (and most of us) do about Obama. (Why, I don’t know.) But can you imagine Trump caring about *anybody* other than himself the way Obama relates to these folks?

    Among the many things I don’t understand about run-of-the-mill Republicans who support Trump is that I remember the 2000 and 2004 campaigns. One of the themes back then was that G. W. Bush was a guy you’d like to have a beer with, as opposed to Gore or Kerry. Now they support a guy that is about as close as you can get to the opposite of a guy you’d want to have a beer with. Oh, well. Here’s a 2 minute, 20 second clip of Obama being Obama to remind you of the nature of the sea change from 44 to 45.

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