Rich people on film.

I think it was during the first year of the pandemic, all of us spending too much time on our phones and devices, that Fathers Day came along and Kate said, not entirely seriously but maybe not, that she felt bad about her gift, which was something like a home-cooked dinner and time together.

Why, I asked. He’s delighted to spend time with you, and the dinner was lovely.

“Some girl on Instagram wrote a song about her father, recorded it and put it to a slide show of pictures and videos of them together as she was growing up,” she said.

Ladies and gentlemen: Social media.

This morning I had the weekend shift for Deadline Detroit, and I aggregated (summarized, basically) a story based on the Instagram posting of a swimsuit model who became engaged to the Lions’ quarterback. I was struck by how…Instagrammy the whole weekend seemed to be; he popped the question on vacation in Cabo, and arranged to have all her friends flown in (PJ, natch), and they partied and celebrated and took 10 million photos and videos and it all came together in a very photogenic fashion.

I guess because I have worked with photographers my whole career, I always imagine what’s behind the fourth wall. I can understand wanting to memorialize a significant moment, but knowing the way photographers can bark orders, I can’t understand inviting one to a fairly intimate moment. Like this, say:

Honestly, I see this sort of thing everywhere, life not lived so much as lived for some fantasy audience, who will see, admire and envy you on social media. I also know, for public people, that social media is in some sense inescapable, but I hate to see people who can’t afford aspiring to what is, frankly, an unattainable life for nearly all of them.

And of course, the kings of tech not only brought this plague upon us, but now they’re ruining other things, too. Our newspaper carrier gave us a copy of the Wall Street Journal on Friday by mistake. We used to subscribe, years ago, and I remembered the Friday features section as a somewhat amusing catalog of rich people problems, and indulgences. Sometime before 9/11, there was a story on people who book name-brand entertainers for private parties, for example. I always looked for the YOLO quote, which was something like, “Yeah, it cost $100,000 to book Tom Jones, but mom and dad only have a 40th anniversary once.”

Anyway, for some reason the Friday features section was called Mansion, yes really, and the lead story was about the ruination of Malibu. People think Malibu is exclusively rich people, and it is, but it wasn’t always. Seriously:

About three decades ago, Beverly Hills native Andy Stern moved to the nearby beach city of Malibu to raise his young family. He quickly came to know all his neighbors, he said, recalling block parties with children pouring onto the streets to play together.

Now Mr. Stern—a two-time Malibu mayor and Coldwell Banker Realty real-estate agent—said he barely sees his neighbors in the Broad Beach area, because they are rarely there. The families that once lived in the neighborhood have largely been replaced by celebrities and billionaires, such as the Chicago-born real-estate billionaire Sam Zell, Miami Heat President Pat Riley and Torstein Hagen, the Norwegian billionaire founder of Viking Cruises, property records show. Mr. Stern said many of his neighbors own two, three or even four other homes, visiting Malibu only periodically while their houses there sit empty for much of the year.

This was the problem people talked about when I wrote about subsidized housing in Aspen, back in the day, for Bridge.

If it weren’t for the housing program, there wouldn’t be a single bartender, teacher, ski instructor or even doctor who would afford to live there. What’s more, the town would be empty all but a few weeks a year — maybe even two weeks, since that’s when the rich people who own houses there come in for skiing, around the holidays. And now Malibu is the same way? You don’t say. They don’t live there because they live everywhere, and can’t possibly live in a hotel when they’re somewhere. Rich people ruin everything.

Not to bring you down in the waning hours of Fathers Day. It really was a nice weekend, even though I spent a fair amount of it cleaning up construction dust. But there was also strawberries, bike rides, a boxing class and a haircut. A good haircut, too. No pictures, though — I have terrible Helmet Head at the moment.

Let’s go into the week and enjoy it best we can.

Posted at 9:16 pm in Current events, Popculch |

31 responses to “Rich people on film.”

  1. Sherri said on June 19, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    That’s the careless way the rich ruin everything. Then there’s the more direct and focused way of Peter Thiel:

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  2. Dexter Friend said on June 20, 2022 at 2:27 am

    I listen to Sirius-XM and I frequently hear laments of how the deluxe apartments on Manhattan’s Upper West Side are empty 50 weeks of the year because Chinese nationals own them just to have a place to stay on their twice-yearly visits.
    One show host is Jenny Hutt. Maybe some of you have heard of her. I cut this little piece out of a story about her: “Jenny Hutt steps Behind The Rope. Let us start at the beginning. Jenny was born in Roslyn, Long Island to Charles & Bunny Koppelman. A “big wig” in the record industry, her Dad knew them all. By all, we mean he worked with the likes of Barbara Streisand, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Vanilla Ice. Jenny grew up going on vacations with Barbara Streisand and “hanging out” with Dolly Parton. Obsessed with Rap Music at a young age, RUN DMC played at her Sweet Sixteen Party and The Beastie Boys were also in attendance.”

    For the past few years Jenny has been selling “Bunny Eyes” sunglasses. Because ya nevah has ’nuff $$$.

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  3. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2022 at 11:03 am

    Thanks, now I feel bad about posting a picture of D and the kids yesterday with his gifts. Which included a new lawn tool he asked for and I ordered, and a T-shirt. But then, I don’t get many pictures of them together and it everyone is smiling just right, so I think I won’t feel bad after all.

    Thiel is just another guy with rich white man so I know it all syndrome.

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  4. LAMary said on June 20, 2022 at 11:11 am

    My neighborhood has been gentrifying for the last three or four years. I’ve lived in this house since 1987 and until the little street got taken over by Teslas and expensive SUVs I not only knew all my neighbors well, we all liked each other. What a concept! I knew the Mexican family with two kids. The parents were a gardener and house cleaner and they barely spoke English. The kids translated for their parents. The kids would go with me on dog walks, come over to the house to draw with me or make cookies with me. On the other side there was a Chinese American couple with grown kids. We went to the movies together or bowling or shopping. They doted on my kids when the were born. Across the street an elderly gay couple. Those guys repaired my kids’ bikes, found stuff they thought my kids would like at garage sales. And the other neighbors across the street were a professor infant development at UCLA and a physicist at Jet Propulsion. They had us over over for barbecues, let my kids swim in their pool, offered baby advice, and got us into Jet Propulsion to see the Mars rover. Now I have exactly neighbor whom I consider a friend. He’s an artist and little crazy but a great guy. He has a beater pickup truck and lets my sons visit his studio in the Arts District. All the other neighbors? I barely know them. They bought their houses for over a milliion dollars. I stil have my funky house, a six year old VW wagon and a dog who isn’t a purebred.

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  5. Jeff Borden said on June 20, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Does anyone have an alternative to gentrification? It’s a big topic in Pilsen, which is Chicago’s largest Mexican-American area, which is feeling the pinch as hipsters move in. And near Jackson Park, the site of the Obama library, where developers are drooling over the prospect of a working poor neighbor going upscale.

    But what can be done? People selling to the newcomers are getting prices that can change their lives. People should be able to choose where they want to live.

    My house is worth a ridiculous amount these days and we pay property taxes commensurate with our appraised value. But we’re committed to staying as long as we can and have the resources to do it. So, to me, the upscaling of our ‘hood has only made life more expensive. I perceive no benefit beyond the desirability of our area should we ever need to sell. Yippee.

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  6. Scout said on June 20, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    Ah yes, the carefully curated Instagram ‘life’ we’re all supposed to swoon over and envy. It’s so overdone now that I think that the only people influencers influence is other influencers. I make it a point to only follow people I actually know and care about, which means it’s a good place to poach pics of my great grandies to share for all my old fogie friends from other places and other lives. Oh and cat accounts. I can never see too many cat videos.

    Yesterday was the first Father’s Day since my Dad died and it was bittersweet for me, but I still love seeing everyone’s tributes to their Dads. No self composed music with accompanying video, though, so tell Kate her friend is just a show-off.

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  7. ROGirl said on June 20, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    I’m getting quotes for a kitchen reno. One contractor suggested waiting a few months for prices to come down. And there’s the appliance availability problem, too. I originally started my research after Thanksgiving, but that got thrown off track shortly after that.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    ROGirl, that was in our plans too, along with two of our bathrooms, financed through a combo of savings, 401K, and home improvement loan. Doesn’t seem like a good idea right now. I think we’ll focus on painting first, but there are issues with crumbling cabinets and squishy floor tile. We already downsized the kitchen plans from bumping out a couple of walls to gain space from a useless hall. Lordy it’s all expensive.

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  9. Icarus said on June 20, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    Jeff Borden @ 5: Smarter people than I have tried to address that. I don’t have an answer other than changing the property tax model. Property taxes are really wealth taxes, and you have to pay on potential wealth as well, for reasons. Some places apparently base real estate taxes on purchase price instead of assessed value. Obviously, we need something in-between. We should sever the connection between property values and school funding as well. Both would be as easy as getting Universal Healthcare and sensible gun laws.

    I’ve seen two types of neighborhood candidates for gentrification. The first is when an area declined and after a long period of disinvestment home values plummeted. Why did that happen? I don’t know.

    The other is when a quiet little-known neighborhood is adjacent to a hood that just finished gentrifying, it suddenly gets on the flippers and developers’ radar because they can buy low and sell high.

    here’s a note I jotted down for a potential post that I never wrote:

    **Let’s call gentrification for what it is a fancy term for red lining and unfortunately minorities are getting the worst end of it. Slummification and gentrification are two sides of the same coin. Neither happens accidentally. Sometimes the same speculators are the beneficiaries of both tactics. It’s always about the money. The people living in those neighborhoods are just chess pieces to be moved around.

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  10. nancy said on June 20, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    To be honest, the precise line between gentrification and what activists call “renewal” has always been smudgy to me, and when I’ve pressed people to define it, it seem smudgy to them, too. The best I can determine is, when a neighborhood becomes too expensive for longtime residents to stay in, that’s gentrification. In Michigan there are safeguards against rapidly rising property taxes, so that’s not really a problem. Activists claim it’s happening all over, but I don’t know the solution. It’s a free country.

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  11. tajalli said on June 20, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    The first graphic novel I read was Will Eisner’s A Contract with God. He illustrates the long term cycles of urban expansion and contraction occurring in a NYC neighborhood over centuries, along with how racism evolves and dissolves and resolves and re-emerges as the inhabitants change. Eisner is considered the father of graphic novels.

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  12. Dorothy said on June 20, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    So many people these days pretend that it’s not an option to have something spontaneously happen and live in the moment. Everything has to be IG worthy or at least pictures have to be taken to send out to immediate family to prove the moment was real. A coworker I had at UD had a son who got engaged about 8 months ago. He enlisted a few friends to be nearby to film the proposal because you can’t just have a private moment between two people who love each other. It was happening by a huge outdoor structure in Dayton where there are lights in the shape of a big Christmas tree.

    So as T dropped to his knees to proffer the ring to the girl, a mom with a running toddler saw the little one running in the direction of the proposal situation. She started yelling “NO! STOP! COME BACK HERE!” completely ruining the set up for the photographers. I heard that T was not happy about it but what do you expect? It was in public and you can’t control what goes on around you, right? As my co-worker Karen showed the video to us at work we all laughed, just as she did. I actually thought it made it better because it just goes to show that all the best laid plans don’t always work out the way you want them to.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Florida also has a protection clause where your property taxes can’t be raised more than 5% a year, I think. So when you buy a house, you have no idea how bad your taxes are going to be, which is a little scary. Unfortunately, the people this law was supposed to protect, like our 80 something widowed neighbor, are in a new bind because the state hasn’t taken any steps to reduce sky-high homeowners insurance. And the insurers require any roof over 20 years of age to be replaced, and where do they come up with that money on a fixed income. There’s a lot of desperation.

    In Indiana, though, property taxes are not wealth taxes, thanks to the teabaggers in the greater Indianapolis area. They got the legislature to enact a “reform” in which taxes couldn’t be more than 1% of the value of your home. Instant tax relief for them, instant tax increase for anyone with a lower value home. Thanks, Carmel and Fishers!

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  14. Sherri said on June 20, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Well, capping property taxes doesn’t stop gentrification, because property taxes in California are capped significantly thanks to Prop 13, and yet gentrification, however it’s defined, seems to happen.

    Nobody has an answer to gentrification, an agreement on what gentrification is, or even if gentrification is a bad thing. My cynical take is gentrification is third wave gentrifiers driving out second wave gentrifiers. Having spent six years listening to people talk about housing, it seems to me that too many people expect neighborhoods to remain static exactly as when that homeowner bought their house.

    If your property taxes are capped and not keeping up with the market valuation of your property, then you are getting a subsidy from new homebuyers, who are paying a larger share of the property tax burden to fund schools and government. This may be a desirable policy, in order to allow people to age in place, but it does make it more difficult for younger families to buy homes. I find that few people tend to grasp that property tax caps give them such a subsidy while allowing them to realize the upside of the increased value of their house when they do sell.

    Another reason why school funding can be so difficult: most people don’t have kids in school, and don’t want their property taxes to go up, particularly if they’ve been in their house a long time. When trying to pass a bond measure for schools, we can pretty much bet that the precinct with the neighborhood where all the owners have to be 55+ will not vote in favor of the bond.

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  15. Deborah said on June 20, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    The last time we went to Paris a couple of years ago and went to some of the fabulous art museums there, people were spending their whole time photographing/videoing everything on their phones instead of steeping in the actual art and experiencing it directly. Earlier times when I’ve traveled and been to museums it wasn’t like that, that behavior has increased tremendously since even a few years before the last time we were there. I don’t get taking photos of the art in museums it is never ever as good as the real thing. I’ve done it myself mainly just to document it to myself that I was there. I have an Instagram account but i’ve never used it, I only have it so I can occasionally look at the sites of others. I mainly just look at food sites and some sites of people that I know are fantastic photographers.

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  16. Jim said on June 20, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Nice story about Marvella Bayh:

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  17. David C said on June 20, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    Their proposal story is more expensive and better documented than mine but mine is better. I had mononucleosis. Mary came over. I opened the door. She said “you look like shit”. I said, “I feel like shit”. She came in opened the grocery bag she was carrying and got out half a dozen boxes of ice pops. I had the worst sore throat ever. I said “Marry me”. She said yes.

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  18. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    Good one! D casually inquired what I thought about marriage. I asked–is this a philosophical question (which would have been very much in his nature) or a proposal? He gulped and said it was, in fact, a proposal. The next day he said he really messed up but not having a ring, and I assured him I would rather help pick it out. Which was 100% the truth.

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  19. David C said on June 20, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    I wonder how many of the engagement rings are accepted in the moment but ultimately returned. It seems like if you expect someone to wear a ring ’til death do you part you should at least let her pick it out.

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  20. Colleen said on June 20, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Julie, I had a very similar proposal. I was getting ready to leave his house so he could watch the Bears game and he looked at me from the end of the couch and said “so do you want to get married,?” My response? “You mean in general? Or are you asking?”
    Steve’s never been one for the grand romantic gestures. But his love language is acts of service, so I’m good.

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  21. Dorothy said on June 20, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    I love that story, David!

    We started dating at 16 so naturally a few years later we just drifted into talking about getting married. I can’t remember how he actually asked me! But we went shopping together for the rings (Bailey, Banks and Biddle at Monroeville Mall), he put them on layaway and after he paid them off, I got the ‘official’ proposal after he had a talk with my dad. We lived across the street from each other. He gave me the ring on the porch swing of my parents’ house. It was lovely and and not particularly romantic but it was us. I guess it worked – next year it’ll be 50 years since we met.

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  22. Deborah said on June 20, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    My ex gave me his grandmother’s tiffany setting modest diamond ring, which was lovely. But about 8 years later without asking me first he offered it to his brother who was getting engaged. I felt horrible but felt I couldn’t say anything since it was originally his grandmother’s. It festered with me though, it came out in marriage counseling later and then he gave me a diamond ring for Christmas that he had gotten from a friend of his who had given it to his intended and she said no, and he bragged about that like it was something he had found for a song and I should be impressed. I was not.

    My current husband proposed to me in Berlin, Germany in 1999 after we had lived together for nearly 10 years. His mother and sister were with us on that trip and we all cried at the restaurant where the proposal happened.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Anyone remember The Shane Company and their certificate of authentication? The blurry X-ray of the stone? Don’t remember why we went there, maybe they were a client. (D was in ad sales at the student newspaper.) Anyway, I didn’t really like wearing two rings so it sat for many years until I gave it to our son. But to prove David’s point, there was a family heirloom ring on her side which she preferred, so that’s the one on her finger.

    And I’m afraid he did do an Instagrammy proposal, singing it amidst a group of friends. He started with a solo from an upcoming concert and ended on his knee with the ring box in his hands. He’s a singer, that’s his love language.

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  24. Suzanne said on June 21, 2022 at 9:10 am

    Our daughter & son-in-law were going to get engaged on a trip, but COVID hit & the trip was canceled so the engagement took place on their couch.
    Curmudgeon moment here but I admit to being old fashioned about engagements as far as the performance aspect of it. Almost every young couple I know has their Instagram moment with the down-on-the-knee guy & the surprised acting gal but most of them have been living together for years, some even homeowners together, some with kids together, and have talked about getting married for years, so that all seems silly to me. As in, no one is surprised about this engagement so quit acting like everyone is.

    Now, you kids get off my lawn.

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  25. JodiP said on June 21, 2022 at 9:29 am

    My first marriage: together 8 years, my guy couldn’t hold a job to save his life, but everybody needs health insurance so we got married so I could add him to my plan. We split 5 years later because I came out.

    My now wife and I were laying in bed on a Saturday morning. We’d been dating about a year and a half. She spooned me and asked, “Will you marry me?” totally out of the blue. I said yes. We had a ceremony in 2001, 10 days after 9/11.

    We are moving ahead with a kitchen remodel, but are lucky enough to have a home equity line of credit and the means to pay it off quickly. We’ll start in mid-October, after we get back from Lisbon. Damn, I have a good life that I don’t take for granted and am really grateful for.

    I know all my neighbors–homes are small so very rich people don’t move here.

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  26. Jeff Borden said on June 21, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Man, the news out of Uvalde, Texass gets worse and worse. Austin paper reports law officers with long guns and ballistic shields were in the school shortly after the mass murderer started killing kids, but were held back by the podunk cop in charge until it was too late. And the authorities are being very secretive and fighting efforts to extract more information.

    Meanwhile, Texass Sen. Cornyn was booed by delegates at the Texass Republican Party convention for even giving lip service to some modest gun safety issues. This group also declared Biden ain’t president and Texass can secede from the union whenever it wants. I’d be OK if Texass left so long as we get the good musicians.

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  27. Sherri said on June 21, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    Given that the Uvalde school district had its own police force, of six officers, I was wondering how big the district was, something I hadn’t seen reported. The school district serves about 4000 students in 4 elementary schools, two middle schools, one comprehensive high school and an alternative high school. I’d have to do a lot more research to figure out how much of the budget is taken up by having a police force, in a district where the average teacher salary is below state average, graduation rates are below state average, and the district is majority non-white.

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  28. Deborah said on June 21, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    I watched the hearings again today. Every one of these has left me in shock. Seeing it all unravel like this, it’s hard to imagine anyone of the Republican leaders supporting Trump ever again, but they will because the minds of Trump’s base have been so poisoned with lies that those leaders know they can’t stay in office without groveling for their votes.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on June 21, 2022 at 4:36 pm

    Deborah, as bad as I knew it all was, it keeps on shocking me. Today we heard how TFG’s supporters surrounded homes and chanted, even with a cancer patient inside, broken into a widow’s home (and she’s only the DIL of the official), and made the lives of the Georgia election workers miserable. One had to leave her house for two months, a grandmother answered the door and the low-lifes crowded into her home.

    Again, note that during the first hour of testimony, every single one was a stout Republican, most former supporters of TFG until he started questioning the election.

    NPR has reported that a British filmmaker embedded with TFG and his family beginning in September 2020 for a documentary. They were in the White House, Mar-a-Lago, and on the campaign trail. He has turned the footage over to the committee and will be deposed. Apparently the documentary has been sold to an undisclosed streaming service for release this summer. OMFG.

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  30. Deborah said on June 21, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Bower’s testimony got to me, at the end when he described his gravely ill daughter inside their home, how she was upset by what was happening with the threats and chants going on by the Trumper reprobates outside. I looked it up online and she died on Jan 28, 2021, just a few weeks after Jan 6.

    Also the mother and daughter who were targeted by Trump as having delivered fake ballots from under the table in the arena where votes were being counted in Fulton Co. Their lives were changed forever, enduring unbelievable threats and racist smears. It was a very effective testimony by the daughter led by Adam Schiff.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on June 21, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Charlie Pierce at Esquire has long written about the cruelty that lies at the heart of tRumpism and it has been illuminated like never before in these hearings. My stomach tightened at the stories of the poll workers who were harassed by the thuggish pseudo-patriots who cloak their cowardice in bullying and braying. They were being good citizens –something that orange bag of weasel pus could never understand– and they were brought low simply by their own good intentions. God, I loathe these people and that wheezing, lardass who commands them like flying monkeys.

    Pierce also refers to the QOP as having fallen victim to a brain-eating prion disease dating to St. Ronald of Reagan and worsening through the years. Did any of you happen to catch what Lindsey Graham said recently? That he “misses being afraid” of tRump and he loved how the world was scared shitless of him. This is your modern conservative movement, folks.

    Now, let’s go after all the empty husks in the House and Senate who betrayed their oath of office to further the schemes of our would-be dictator. I want to see them shitting their pants as their crimes are detailed to the world.

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