As anyone who pays attention to the news knows by now, the U.S. Census is over. I pretty much stopped enumerating around the end of September anyway, after a series of frustrating shifts, the details of which are unimportant, convinced me it wasn’t worth my time or the wear and tear on my car anymore. Turned in my phone, ID and bag o’ forms last week. It’s over.

But I’m still left with my experiences, which is one big reason I did it in the first place.

In June, we had a brief, ferocious thunderstorm, and our neighborhood was hit hard. Trees down all over the place, roofs pierced by falling limbs, one house and a couple of garages destroyed. Within 12 hours all the streets were clear, within 48 hours most of the chain saws and chippers had fallen silent and within two weeks, you had to look for the damage in the trees — the still-raw snapped limb stumps, etc.

My census cases were mostly in Detroit, on the east side more or less adjacent to the Pointes. And there, three months after the storm, the storm’s evidence was still very much in view. No streets were blocked, but where limbs had fallen on private property, quite a few were still there. One house had a huge tree lying across the back yard. (I assume from the same storm because we didn’t have another nearly as severe, and the look of the leaves left on the branches, the stump, etc.)

I remember thinking, walking Wendy in the days after the storm, noting the cleanup, Thank you, civilization. But of course it’s more honest to say, Thank you, money. If you don’t have the resources to remove a tree too large to do yourself, or with help from neighbors, if you don’t have a chain saw or other suitable tools, well, the limb stays where it is.

My ultimate takeaway from the census was this, however: We have to figure out a way to do it better. Polling had to pivot from the everyone-in-the-phone book landline era to cellular phones. The census, too, has to figure out how to get more people to fill out the stupid form themselves, because door-knocking is a highly imperfect tactic, particularly in poor neighborhoods. Good news rarely arrives via a knock on your door, and with technology enabling people to see the person standing there without even leaving the upstairs bedroom, bathroom or miles-distant office, it’s easier than ever to ignore it. In poor neighborhoods, your friends text you that they’re coming by. Several times I’d knock, knock again, leave and then see someone pull up a minute later, hustle up the front walk and be hastily admitted.

All this by way of saying: We’re headed for a big undercount, especially in cities like Detroit.

I got my main Problem Closet cleaned. It took the better part of a week, off and on. As always, when I do this, I get sidetracked. There are boxes of letters and photographs in that closet, so you can just imagine. But as also always happens, the further you get into that project the more ruthless you become. I didn’t throw out a single photo, but I did pitch lots of clothes and other crap. The door closes smoothly now and while there is probably still stuff to toss — hello, mystery Box o’ Cords, I’m looking at you — it’s done for now. (I’m actually waiting for a recycle event for the cords. Someone must do something with those things; it can’t be entirely landfill material. Does anyone know?)

Now to put the still-good clothing on the Facebook Mom Swap. Lots of pictures to take, capsule descriptions to write. My FB listings are the J. Peterman catalog of social media.

What else this weekend? Watched the new Borat movie. It’s fine, if you like that sort of thing — cringe humor. Personally I think Larry David does it better, but Sasha Baron Cohen certainly does it fearlessly. One thing I do know, however:

Rudy wasn’t tucking in his shirt. At that man’s age, sometimes Mr. Happy needs a little shake to wake him up.

So let’s have a good week ahead? I hope to.

Posted at 4:07 pm in Detroit life, Movies, Same ol' same ol' |

55 responses to “Civilization.”

  1. Deborah said on October 25, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    I commented on the last thread then I noticed the new post notice so here it is again:

    Did I mention that we watched Borat 2 last night? It was… something. Mainly we were astounded that people would be duped by the actors during the filming, and wouldn’t they have to sign off on their being in the movie for legal purposes? Including Guiliani?

    I no longer have Karen hair, it has grown out to the point that I now have Calista hair, unfortunately. I want to do something else with it but until our country gets a handle on the virus I just want to keep it simple, and the bob is about as simple as it gets.

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  2. David C said on October 25, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Electronics used to get shipped off to China when they were recycled. They would did with it whatever China does with things. China stopped accepting it a few years ago. Then it went to Vietnam until they stopped accepting it. Now I hear it goes to Nigeria, Pakistan, or Ghana.

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  3. ROGirl said on October 25, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Took my ballot to a drop box today. I had to wait for a guy who was taking a selfie while he was putting his ballot in the slot.

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  4. MarkH said on October 25, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Deborah, you said it. In a way, Borat’s setup is so telegraphed one has to be amazed no one sees it. If Rudy, and Dick Cheney in Sasha’s last foray, were so inexplicably clueless, where were their handlers? How could someone in their positions not know what was going on?

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  5. Deborah said on October 25, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    We watched 60 Minutes, and it seems soooooo obvious who should be president. Anyone who would vote for Trump over Biden after seeing that is beyond me. Wow.

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  6. Deborah said on October 25, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    Leslie Stahl is 78, same age as Biden.

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  7. Dexter Friend said on October 26, 2020 at 1:27 am

    I recycled 15 more ancient New Yorkers and my brother called to say our cousin dropped off a large bag of family memorabilia , and the bag contains the diary of my uncle G from 1936, his daughter said. Someday I’ll give it a look.
    Great football as the Lions and Browns won. LA Mary will be happy as her Dodgers won the World Series game 5. On Saturday the Wolverines play the Spartans. The B1G10 is back on the gridiron. It’s to be held in Ann Arbor and back in East Lansing the airhead students can burn all their old couches on the streets. That activity is a ritual there, it’s on Halloween day, gasoline is cheap, let those flames rip! Too, too bad that Rutgers kicked Sparty’s ass on Saturday.

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  8. Suzanne said on October 26, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I watched Rebecca on Netflix last night. It’s pretty good although the actor who played Max deWinter was way too young in my mind. It made me want to revisit the book as I am rusty on many of the details. But overall, worth watching.

    I did watch the Trump interview. He’s a jerk and a complete a$$hole, but this is precisely why many of his voters love him. So, I am sure it didn’t change anyone’s mind. Pence was a complete toady. Toads eat flies so I expect that debate fly was daring him to shoot out his toad tongue and have a snack.

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  9. LAMary said on October 26, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Dexter, I was happy but yesterday was a sucky day overall. First I lost a crown on front tooth, probably swallowed it. Thank goodness I work remotely so I can go the the dentist sometime this week instead of rushing in and dropping 600 bucks or so. Then my otherwise extremely sweet dog Georgia crashed through my fence to go after a dog that was snarling at her through the little opening in the fence where the water meter is. Georgia is a big girl. Broke right through two redwood, six foot tall pickets and got into a dog fight. It didn’t last long. My sons went out and grabbed her, but she bit the other dog and now we’re waiting to hear how much the vet bill is. I’m hoping the other dog’s owners are reasonable people. We spent the rest of the day repairing the fence. Georgia had popped those pickets right off the stringers.

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  10. Deborah said on October 26, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Here are some interesting statistics (to me) about the difference between virus cases (etc) in our zip code in Santa Fe and our zip code in Chicago. Santa Fe zip code has 90 cases, Chicago zip code has 600+ cases, SF zip code has about 15,000+ population, Chicago zip code has 36,000+ population, the kicker is that the SF zip code has 213 square miles, while the Chicago zip code is 1 square mile. So by far we’re safer in Santa Fe, but we knew that.

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  11. JodiP said on October 26, 2020 at 11:13 am

    LAMary, all of that just stinks. At least you can go to the dentist now.

    I am carrying a sense of dread since reading the news this a.m. that the WH has given up on fighting the pandemic. The chief of staff stated this on CNN yesterday. The numbers are going to go up even further. And if Trump is re-elected….I could go on with other worrying things, but we all know the news.

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  12. Jakash said on October 26, 2020 at 11:30 am

    From this date in 2016, via the nn.c Wayback Machine over there to the right. I incisively opined: “Agree that, as much as I’ve hated this campaign, it will be weird to not have the daily deluge of Drumpf deplorableness to stew about.”

    I believe that’s known by the cool folks as a comment that hasn’t aged well…

    Meanwhile, in a later comment, I posted a link to Neil Steinberg’s website where our Hostess with the Mostess was featured explaining that the beginning of Lolita was one of her favorite literary passages. (And he included a link to this site, though he got her remarks from Facebook.)

    So, a comment today, referring to a comment from 4 years ago, which referred to an exchange from 3 years before that. Yet people think blogs are ephemeral. 🙂

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  13. Jakash said on October 26, 2020 at 11:41 am

    It’s quite depressing and another indication of the state of the union, that people can’t even be bothered to fill out the census, given how simple and nonthreatening it is.

    From the census website: “The 2020 Census will determine congressional representation, inform the allocation of hundreds of billions in federal funding, and provide data that affects communities for the next decade.”

    You’d think people could be encouraged to care about that, but evidently, you’d be wrong.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on October 26, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Johanna and I received emails from Board of Elections that our early ballots –deposited in a secure lockbox last Monday– have been received and counted. One of the reasons I detest the Electoral College is that our votes are essentially meaningless at the national level since we are a very dark blue state. Perhaps voters in Alabama feel the same way. Why should four or five states decide the matter? It’s time for one person, one vote. Fat chance of that happening any time soon.

    Princess Handmaiden will be feted at a super-spreader event tonight for a “ceremonial swearing in.” Anyone with any doubts that Barrett will be a hard right political advocate on SCOTUS should have them crushed by this action. No justice with any self-respect would allow themselves to be a political campaign prop one week before the election. Barrett is going to be a very large thorn in our sides for a very long time. . .certainly long after I’m toes up.

    Next Tuesday can’t come soon enough. . .even though I am well aware the lame duck session of this Senate is going to be absolutely horrifying.

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  15. Deborah said on October 26, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Someone on Twitter said that they’d prefer being put in a medical induced coma for the next 8 days and I couldn’t agree more. After that as Jeff B says it will be horrifying for another 2 months but knowing Biden has won will ease that pain, especially if the Dems take the senate too. I’m not as concerned about Barrett as I once was because if the Dems get power they’ll expand SCOTUS, it’s getting more popular to do that every day.

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  16. Jeff Borden said on October 26, 2020 at 12:59 pm


    If the Dems do retake the Senate, they also can thwart Judge Handmaiden through legislation. Let’s pass laws that prevent discrimination based on gender; make safe abortion legal; guarantee coverage for those with preexisting conditions; create laws against gerrymandering and voter suppression.

    But if all else fails, absolutely, pack that damned court. Moscow Mitch wouldn’t hesitate to do it.

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  17. LAMary said on October 26, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    The next few months will be scary no matter who wins. Even if trump gets reelected God forbid but the senate flips you know there will be a frenzy of shitty bill passing going on. But imagine if we lose trump, mcconnell, graham and any number of red senators. It will suck for a few months but after that? Reconstruction.

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  18. Sherri said on October 26, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Related to a frustrating experience with some very well-meaning people this weekend:

    Systemic racism (and sexism) means that as a white person, and particularly as a white man, you have power whether or not you *feel* like you have power, whether or not you *want* that power, and regardless of how much you want systemic racism and sexism to end. It’s not about you, personally. So, your only option is in how you use the power you have. Denying the power just means you use it without awareness, it doesn’t mean you don’t use it.

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  19. Deborah said on October 26, 2020 at 2:04 pm

    Trump looks demonic in this photo. And what’s that band telescoping through Ivanka’s skirt? Is that a girdle?

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  20. Indiana Jack said on October 26, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    Excellent definition from Sherri. Why is that so hard for some people to understand?

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  21. Sherri said on October 26, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    I think it’s hard to understand because it’s uncomfortable. It says that even though you think you respect everyone and try hard to do the right thing, you can’t get away from it. It’s just the world you inhabit, you can’t change it just with your individual action, and that’s not something we deal with well.

    I’m saying, accept the discomfort, and decide what to do in light of that.

    I also think that many white men are just genuinely unaware of how much space they take up.

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  22. Heather said on October 26, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Sherri, I’ve had that discussion so many times. Got in an argument with a friend’s boyfriend who pulled out the old “Well I’m Jewish and in my majority-Black high school I got beat up all the time” thing. That doesn’t mean you don’t have white privilege in society at large, my man.

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  23. Indiana Jack said on October 26, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    OT, a nationwide general strike began today in Belarus to force Alexander Lukashenka from power. It will be interesting to see how far it will spread. So far several factories, medical workers, and a high tech cluster of businesses are involved along with students and pensioners. Best updates are at rfe/
    Real courage being shown in the streets.

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  24. Bitter Scribe said on October 26, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I hadn’t realized that Ohio’s governor was getting it from the masks-are-tyranny crowd even though he’s a Republican. Now some loon who “ran” a write-in campaign against him has declared herself the true governor of Ohio. She taped herself swearing herself in, with a Bible and everything. And oh yeah, she was going to “arrest” the current governor for “tyranny.”

    As the Wonkette writer (the wonderful Robyn Pennacchia) says: “The best part is how very seriously she takes it and how very honored and humbled she is that she has made herself governor. She got a notary public and everything.”

    These people said Obama was a Constitution-shredding tyrant for wanting us to have health insurance. Now they actually plan to violently overthrow officials for trying to keep us healthy and everyone just shrugs.

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  25. LAMary said on October 26, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    A good way to explain privilege is to ask if they belong to a group that has needed to fight for their rights. Blacks? yes. Women? yes. Gays? yes. Hispanics? yes. White guys…um no.

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  26. LAMary said on October 26, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Jared Kushner says black people have to want to succeed.

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  27. Peter said on October 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    LA Mary, that’s one strong dog. There is one silver lining to your rotten day – if any intruder is dumb enough to break into your house, your dog is going to have a field day. Our dumb dog would have licked a burglar and pointed out where we keep the cash.

    Jodi, I think you wanted to say that the administration has given up on PRETENDING on fighting the pandemic. That’s why I’m not upset at Meadows blurting that out yesterday – like they were doing anything to help.

    And, an update on my pet project of comparing how many people have died from Covid compared to U.S. Cities – we’ve passed Des Moines (217,891), Tacoma (223,603), and Spokane (223,266), but the next ciies are a bit further up the chain – Arlington (231,803), Richmond (232,055), and Boise (234,576) – may have a hard time getting to those by Election Day.

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  28. LAMary said on October 26, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Georgia the dog is not a dainty little pup, that’s for sure. She’s very careful how she plays with our cats, has never really growled at anyone specific. She growls when the string of bells on my front gate jingles. I’m sure she would be very protective of her humans if she had to. Lots of photos of her on my facebook page, if you look for me. First name mary middle name is the word that comes next in this Shakespeare line, “thou are more sinned against than…”

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  29. Jeff Borden said on October 26, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    One of the side benefits to ousting tRump will be putting his hideous brood in the rear view mirror. I’ve come to despise his four oldest children and Prince Jared almost as much as the man himself. I pray they are soon in court for numerous financial crimes.

    Meanwhile, it’s been announced that Clarence Thomas will swear in Justice Handmaiden. Very appropriate. A pathetic mediocrity who replaced a legal giant swearing in another pathetic mediocrity replacing a giant. I hate Republicans.

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  30. alex said on October 26, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    In Indiana we have some anti-tyranny nutter running as a libertarian against the Republican governor and while he doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning, he’s polling significantly better than the Dem candidate who got my vote today when I selected a straight ticket.

    Even though my vote counts for nothing in this godforsaken state, I look forward to gloating at a few particular numbskulls come election day.

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  31. Julie Robinson said on October 26, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    Pulling straight ticket here too, hoping we can get in tomorrow. We spent the day in Indy choosing more items for the addition, with our daughter at the IKEA in Orlando on a video call. Video calls are just a mystery to me, but it was a surprisingly effective way to collaborate.

    Mary, here’s hoping your week gets much better.

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  32. Deborah said on October 26, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    So it’s Justice Coney Barrett now I guess, Gah. On to another super spreader event at th WH where Jusctice Thomas will swear her in or whatever they call it, that task is supposed to be done by the Chief Justice but they’re all mad at Roberts now. Like I said, if the election goes the way I hope it does SCOTUS may do some shit but it won’t last long.

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  33. LAMary said on October 26, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    The vet bill for the injured dog came in at 1471.00. Seems like a lot for the injury I saw but that’s better than being sued.

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  34. Heather said on October 26, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    Not surprised at that vet bill, LA Mary. My cat has an (asymptomatic) UTI that’s cost me about $600 so far just for tests and drugs.

    REALLY angry about Barrett; trying to stop myself from posting stuff on social media that will get me in trouble.

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  35. Deborah said on October 26, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    We watched the movie “The Death of Stalin” on Netflix, it was good. Can’t help but draw comparisons to the current regime here. Lordy, the coup is coming.

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  36. Brian stouder said on October 26, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Well, my lovely wife and distance-learning IU student daughter and I headed downtown to the City/County building, and stood in a line for only about 10 minutes, and cast our votes. I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised at how smooth and quick the process was, and our civic duty has been done.

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  37. Deborah said on October 26, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    If anybody among the commenters here hasn’t yet voted in person please do it as soon as possible, if you can safely. Get a face shield and wear it with a mask, bring a lawn chair and an umbrella, get someone to drive you and stay with you. Don’t count on your ballot getting there on time in the mail. This is getting scary.

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  38. Connie said on October 26, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    I have dropped my absentee ballot in the big blue ballot box outside the township hall.

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  39. LAMary said on October 27, 2020 at 12:01 am

    Here in CA we have our fake official drop boxes thoughtfully installed by the GOP. They’re fighting with the secretary of state about getting rid of them. They are installed in front of some churches and gun shops. Real drop boxes are next to libraries, among other places.

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  40. Dexter Friend said on October 27, 2020 at 1:05 am

    I went to Toledo V.A. for pre-phone doctor appointment, as I had to go for a nurse visit for what I would call a light physical. On the way I witnessed a wreck site that could have been a staged movie wreck. Six cop cars there, at least five mangled-to-hell cars, ( unbelievably no pickup trucks and no SUVs) two smaller fire trucks, and three ambulances. I was cruising in, time to spare, then ended up 6 minutes late for the nurse. And, bumped down the line. If you ain’t checked in and seated in the waiting area at the exact time, on to the next person. Oh well. I got a super-strength senior flu shot, which usually doesn’t bother me. So , business done, as I had both cars serviced for winter and got the windows set for the coming mild winter. 🙂
    Don’t worry, I have been studying the polls and the predicted electoral positioning. Joe Biden is going to win. James Carville says by late evening next Tuesday the networks will call it for Biden. I believe. I hope the Kentucky purple turtle goes down fast and Lindsay Graham loses big.

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  41. Suzanne said on October 27, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Deborah @35, we watched Death of Stalin in the spring and I was struck by how close we are to that reality now, here in the USA. The chaos, the insanity. It hit home.

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  42. Mark P said on October 27, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Churches and gunshops, and all the rest of this country’s insanity. All I can think of is, whom the gods would destroy…

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  43. Bitter Scribe said on October 27, 2020 at 10:09 am

    The biggest difference between Stalin and Trump isn’t really disposition. It’s that Stalin was focused and a hard worker, while Trump has the attention span of a fruit fly. That’s why Stalin became one of history’s greatest monsters, while history will (probably) remember Trump as a mere buffoon, like Berlusconi.

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  44. Jeff Borden said on October 27, 2020 at 10:09 am

    I’m just sick over how much this SCOTUS and the Federalist Society infested lower federal courts are going to stand in the way of the Millennials and the GenZers as they try to create the nation they want. A bunch of elderly, wealthy white men in the Senate should not have the power to thwart younger generations for decades into the future.

    Meanwhile, Justice Beer Bong’s dissent in the Wisconsin election decision is a terrifying preview of what SCOTUS might do if this election is even close. He’s gotta go. It’s clear he perjured himself in some of his Senate testimony, which should open him up for impeachment. And old Clarence is looking more rotund than ever, suggesting he might go the way of Scalia in the not-too-distant future. Two vacancies filled by Dems? A man can dream. . .

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  45. LAMary said on October 27, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Clarence did more speaking at that swearing in thing than I’ve heard from him since his senate hearing.

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  46. Deborah said on October 27, 2020 at 10:46 am

    As an African American man, overweight and of a certain age, being maskless at the event last night Thomas was taking a chance. I don’t know if he has heart problems or diabetes but it wouldn’t surprise me. Was McConnell there?

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  47. Jeff Borden said on October 27, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Well, ol’ Clarence is a youthful 72, but he is a large man who appears to share the distaste for exercise our preznit does. Then again, he’s a mean, bitter ol’ S.O.B. and those assholes can stick around forever. . .like the enormous Mr. Potter in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

    Moscow Mitch has used and abused the Senate at every turn. I have zero problem with expanding the court or, as noted above, seeking to impeach Brett the Prep for lying during his hearings. Fuck the GOP.

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  48. LinGin said on October 27, 2020 at 11:23 am

    I refused to watch the swearing in of Amy Comey Barrett but did see a clip or two on the news. There was Clarence Thomas who is defiling the seat previously held by Thurgood Marshall, swearing in Barrett who was pushed through after the death of RBG. That scene was a big FU to liberals and progressives.

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  49. Sherri said on October 27, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Expand the Court.

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  50. Mark P said on October 27, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Sherri — I see no choice.

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  51. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 27, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    If you didn’t see this on PBS last night, it’s available online through the end of November. I am biased — one of the three featured candidates is a friend, and you see my sleeve in one shot (plus a fair amount of my neck of the woods around the Bryn Bird sequences, Granville & Newark OH), and another of the trio is a Detroit mayoral prospect, so it’s got something for all of us. Hour and a half, just under, and worth your time.

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  52. 4dbirds said on October 27, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I couldn’t watch any part of the handmaid’s swearing-in so I binge watched Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit about a very young and gifted chess player in the 1960s who also happens to be a girl.

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  53. ROGirl said on October 27, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    I think she’s a wife, not a handmaid.

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  54. Deborah said on October 27, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Yes, Barrett is more of a Serena Joy than an Offred, but in Barrett’s extra-religious organization, People of Praise they used to call women Handmaids who held positions in it (because they couldn’t usurp authority over men in the organization). They stopped calling them that after the Handmaid’s Tale TV show came out.

    Walter Shaub on Twitter called originalism “make-believe-language”, which sounds about right to me.

    I still haven’t figured out if McConnell attended the event last night. Do any of you know if he was there?

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  55. Sherri said on October 27, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Kavanaugh and company say that WI should only count ballots that arrive by Election Day. Out here in WA, we’ve been counting ballots that are postmarked by Election Day, whether or not they arrive on Election Day, and it’s fine, because what matters is letting people vote.

    That means that we don’t always know who won on the night of the election. In fact, we don’t even count ballots received on Election Day until the next day. At 8 pm on Election Day, what is reported is the count of all the ballots received prior to Election Day. That’s the only count reported on Election Day, and it’s updated every weekday afternoon following until the election is certified. Somehow, we’ve managed to survive, and with a very, very low fraud rate.

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