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A Second, or maybe a Third Childhood  

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Gary Fletcher
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09/01/2019 10:42 am  

When my daughter was maybe three years old, I took her to see the first Toy Story movie. Great movie, right? Anyway, towards the end, as you know doubt remember, Woodie and Buzz Lightyear are driving RC (the toy racing car), furiously trying to catch up to the moving van. This is the rising crescendo towards the climax of the movie.

At that very moment, my daughter suddenly hops out of her seat and says, "Okay, let's go home now."

Well, I feel the same way, now, though the setting is grim rather than joyful. I, along with so many others, have been captured by the ugliest of stories, which is mercifully but clearly headed towards a resolution of the longest political train wreck I could have ever imagined. I suppose I should enjoy what promises to be a moment of relief and justice, of (finally) redemption and optimism springing forth like magic mushrooms from the cowflop environment of the last few years.

But I'm not rejoicing. I feel a kind of dead relief. I feel like someone with a drug addiction, knowing I'm going to kick the habit, also knowing that there will be several relapses along the way. It's gonna be dreary work over the next few months, yes, but I believe we're gonna live, after all.

I may be back tomorrow with a better outlook, with the renewed energy only a 64 year old man can truly appreciate (it ain't much, but it's something).

The title of this thread? Well, I was a child once, then I got to relive childhood through my daughter. I've been a little bit too grown up lately, forced to consider serious issues. I'm ready for a third stage, if not actually a third childhood. Because I was so much younger then, and I'm tired of being older now.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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09/01/2019 1:02 pm  

We spend an unhealthy time talking politics, don't we?

I think that's why I'm baby-stepping back to BJOL. I want to talk about something else. I want to enjoy my days, interact pleasantly with pleasant people, and not have politics bring out the ugly.

I was never all that into politics until Trump. Go back to BJOL and I bet I didn't write a hundred words between 2008 and 2015 about politics on there. My dream is that the end of Trump will also be the end of my interest in partisan politics.

Actually, I'm not partisan now. I'm just anti-fuckingmoronrunningthecountry. Beyond that, I think both sides of the coin are stupid, because they lack balance, compassion and empathy.

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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09/01/2019 11:07 pm  

Partisanship...well, I'm sure there are lots of people doing their best to make the system work for what they think are good causes. In the end to make the system work you have to embrace the concept of compromise. That's a tough thing to do, to compromise your principles.

Unfortunately, whether through self serving cynicism or faulty judgement, many people in government have no principles left other than the siren song of power. Underlying the pursuit of power is the need for money.

I have no simple answers; there are no simple answers. Right now I'm thinking of writing a little bit about Phil Lesh, The Grateful Dead and playing bass guitar.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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10/01/2019 9:18 am  

All partisan opinion sounds insane to me. The historian skeptic in me thinks your cynical view of how power works is every bit as shallow as Wendy's view of immigration.

Corruption of power is a systemic issue, not a moral issue. Remove the incentive, remove the corruption. Add alternate incentive, add a different sort of corruption, much like promoting good bacteria over the bad bacteria. 

The system we use is basically the same one used by the Greeks, and by the English for centuries. We modified it to suit our 50-state loose affiliation, but it's the same basic representative republican model, with three branches meant to balance and protect us from things like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

Our problem isn't a general one, where everyone just stopped being altruistic. That's just a silly thing to even think, like assuming all Mexican immigrants are rapists and mules. Our problems are complex, ongoing, and far larger than Trump and McConnell.

Trump and McConnell together is a perfect storm, though. McConnell is supposed to provide a check on Trump, and Trump is supposed to provide a check on McConnell. It's a problem now, and potentially a catestrophic problem if Trump gets reelected and builds a court system beholden to him. 

But the real problem of partisanship is that neither side recognizes that it desperately needs the other. GOP values would gut and break the country if allowed to work unfettered, in about 15 years or so. Same with liberal values. 

We've had issues with both recently, as both sides have held power in the various branches for longer than is healthy for us.

  • A liberal court, holding power too long, would systematically dismantle our laws protecting free expression.
  • A long term conservative court would dismantle our laws protecting the environment. 
  • A liberal congress would bury us in regulations.
  • A conservative congress would bury us in debt (and is, right now).
  • A liberal executive branch would bury us in regulations (and did, under Clinton and Obama).
  • A conservative executive branch would funnel all our money to their richest donors (and did, under Reagan and GW Bush).

These are not personnel problems. These are systemic problems, exacerbated by a self-interested media paradigm that values sensationalism and voyourism over content. Even with changes like the party swap due to civil rights legislation won't change the fact that democracy is only as strong as its media and its voters. And most media is lazy and greedy. And most voters are stupid.

So we need to be better, or -- as you say, in your final paragraph -- stop caring so much and care about something else.

I vote with you. Baseball, music, British comedy and soft women with eyes that don't quite focus are far better things to care about than stupid politics. The world is huge, and we are small. Let's stop trying to hold it up, and enjoy our lives.

Of course, we'll still discuss politics, and until Trump is gone we'll probably still try to hold the world on our ink-stained shoulders. But we shouldn't.

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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ventboys
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10/01/2019 9:27 am  

The regulations thing was a big deal when I was a kid. The Democrats controlled congress for decades, and there were stretches when they allowed appointed positions to write regulations.

It got so ugly that Reagan was able to grab power and gut a whole bunch of genuine progressive advances, simply because the liberal agenda was allowed to go way, way, way way, way too far. We needed the conservative correction because we allowed the liberals to hold power too long -- and then we let the conservatives hold it too  long, and they overcorrected. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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ventboys
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10/01/2019 9:30 am  

Oh, and that media paradigm is the same one we've likely had since the first town crier spent half his reporting life peeping in the Queen's Court showers.

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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10/01/2019 8:14 pm  
Posted by: ventboys

All partisan opinion sounds insane to me. The historian skeptic in me thinks your cynical view of how power works is every bit as shallow as Wendy's view of immigration.

I think my view of how power works was sympathetic, not cynical. 

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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11/01/2019 2:26 pm  
Posted by: Gary Fletcher

 

Unfortunately, whether through self serving cynicism or faulty judgement, many people in government have no principles left other than the siren song of power. Underlying the pursuit of power is the need for money.

 

No principles "left," you said.

That's what inspired my response.

You said that today's group lacks principles other than the blind pursuit of power (that's what siren song means, right?), either in general or in comparison to some past where politicians had principles.

Cynical wasn't the key word, at least not to me. The key word was "shallow." As in you took a shallow view of power, too shallow to overcome the depth of your partisanship, perhaps? That might not be the most accurate analogy, but it sounds cool, so I'm going with it. 

It's not that big a deal, honestly. We are all shallow and we all generalize, and we all jump to conclusions. I keep coming back to the same thing. We talk about how we are not perfect, and we agree that we are not perfect, in various ways.

And then, two days later, you say something like, "no principles left" -- basically damming everyone else for not being perfect -- and we are off to the races again. I don't mean you can't ever criticize anyone -- that would be holding you to an impossible standard, too -- but that it's useful to explore why we do things like that. 

I mean, you are a smart guy, making smart observations. Where did it go wrong, in that case, where you painted basically the entire political system with a ... yes, a very cynical and shallow brush?

Don't take it as a slam, I don't mind nor care if and when you take shallow paths to your analysis. That's your business, and speaking freely is a right I value over just about all others. But you know me ... I am an analyst by nature, and I love to analyze how our minds work.

And you have a complex mind, an interesting mind. So I want to rant a little about how we -- not just you, most of us -- see the Beltway, and maybe a little bit of why. So here goes.

Modern politicians, if anything, are more principled than past politicians ... or at the very least held to more untenable standards. They can't win, because they get attacked relentlessly by both sides for whatever the respective sides consider violations. Do something good on one side, the other side jumps your ass, regardless of whether it's good, bad, indifferent or pointless. 

It's like baseball at this point. Every hit is a failure by the pitcher, every out a failure by the batter. Every conservative move is a failure by the liberals and vice versa. 

And yet these people are impressive people. The vast majority of congressional members have law degrees and years of 100+ hour schedules that they kept up, in order to pay the quarter million dollars in student loans they had to take out to get their law degrees. They were elected by publics of hundreds of thousands or even millions of voters to get their jobs. 

And we don't show respect for the right people, just the loud and visible people. For example, you got all into Avenatti and your little bunny congress girl because they were in front of you, shiny objects presented to you, even after I told you they weren't worth your outsized attention and admiration.

Why did you do that? It's because American politics is a reality show, and you are at the water cooler, discussing it like it might as well be the Kardashians or Big Brother. 

And so is most of the country, and most of the world, and me most of the time as well. We are all doing it. We are all treating politics like a reality show.

It's fun that way, and interesting, and we have to be caustic and a little judgemental at times or it's not as much fun. But we can't forget that these are not reality show contestants. These are real people, qualified by heavy risk and hard work to be in their jobs. 

That reality show mentality is a big part of why America wound up here, with Trump's reality show topping the Nielson ratings. It's why some jerkoff like Avenatti wound up famous, and it's why your bunny girl is more famous than the other 434 members of congress, despite the fact that she's barely qualified to sweep the steps on Capital Hill at this point in her career. 

Trump actually is a reality show contestant. His minions are not politicians, either, for the most part, though some of them are.

The ones outside Trump's orbit, though ... the real politicians, even the ones who I would just as soon strangle as look at right now (McConnell, Pence, Lindsey Graham), are genuinely impressive people who did a lot of impressive things to get there they are.

We need to remember that, or at least occasionally remind ourselves. We can still hate McConnell, and despise Trump (of course), but we can't toss one blanket over the whole bunch and call it good. 

And little bunnies who dance and spout platitudes are not the face of any party but the one at your house Saturday night  🤣  🤣  🤣 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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11/01/2019 4:45 pm  

Well, perhaps I should have said “some people” rather than “many people,” but in any case I didn’t say “all people.”

I think there can be many siren songs. The siren song of [fill in the blank].

I probably didn’t write my comments as carefully or as thoughtfully as I might have, or even should have.

Let me take another run at this: I believe that power is a drug. An addictive drug. Politics is very much an enticing power trip, and perhaps especially dangerous to people with good intentions. Surely there are people for whom political office represents a selfish pursuit of power and money and self-importance. Not everybody, but of course there are some for whom this has always been true, or became true over time.

I believe that a man or woman for whom a political career is borne of a desire for a better world, the great pitfall is believing that they are important. To believe that first of all they must be elected, that second of all they must continue to be elected, and that failing this worse people and worse ideas will ensue.

I believe that if you believe in certain things and wish to actively pursue those goals politically, you should have no fear of electoral defeat.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying we must be rigid in our idealism. Of course there are reasonable compromises to be made. But there are unreasonable compromises to be made, too. You should not go so far as to believe that electoral defeat justifies unreasonable compromise.

So I hope that clarifies and corrects what I said (and what I meant to say).

You paid me the compliment of saying that I “…have a complex mind, an interesting mind." Thanks, but I’m not sure if that’s true. I often think that I have a lazy intellectual approach, tempted to shallow conclusions and smarty-pants comments.

I enjoy our exchanges, but sometimes I don’t, for the simple reason that you challenge me. In the end, though, that’s great because it gives me cause to re-examine my assumptions. And I make a lot of them. Sometimes it can be something as simple as the use of a word or phrase that I know how to use correctly, but haven't taken the time to understand in depth. Other times it can be something as large as an entire philosophical outlook, like a flat earther confronted with evidence of a globe shaped earth.

Where you get into defending modern politicians…that’s really about tribal partisanship and I get that. It would be nice if we could have critics say, “Well, Sir, what you say is reasonable, however…” But that’s been a problem since the television age and even before that. Politicians know the power of a good soundbite or quote and zingers are super effective tools for getting elected or re-elected.

I skip over Avenatti and what I may have said because I already covered that a few days ago and don’t really remember. I am a bit irritated at your reference to Ocasio-Cortez as my “bunny girl.” What I am amused at is how these old, white dinosaurs are so critical of her, threatened by her. Of course we don’t know what the future holds for her, but for now the dinosaurs think they can intimidate her with the misogynistic attitudes of the 1950s. It ain’t gonna work, and of course I enjoy that.

I’m much more impressed by and respectful of Nancy Pelosi and of Kamala Harris (I don’t think of her as your bunny girl) and others. One is young, one is middle aged, and one is ancient. Let's talk about experience and ideas, okay, and not use dismissive terms.  🙄 

And this:

“The ones outside Trump's orbit, though ... the real politicians, even the ones who I would just as soon strangle as look at right now (McConnell, Pence, Lindsey Graham), are genuinely impressive people who did a lot of impressive things to get there they are.”

Well, to this I say, “So what?” El Chapo is impressive. Benedict Arnold was impressive. Lots of people are impressive. Is Donald Trump impressive? Is Steve King impressive? If they are, do we care?

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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13/01/2019 3:47 am  

With genuine respect to you and your opinion of her significance, Gary -- and in many ways because of your opinion of her significance -- her nickname ain't going away. But that's 90 percent because it suits her so well. Bunny just fits her current role in the Universe.

It's not really her fault, given that she's a politician, that her words are all-too well reported. If reporters flock to her, she can't be expected to tell them, "Hey, I'm new here; go talk to someone who knows more about our messaging." She is going to talk, and all power to her.

She's young, and she's inexperienced. So she says the sorts of things a young, inexperienced politician would say, amplified by too many reporters and nowhere near enough time to think about what she's saying. 

So she's either a bunny, a fruit fly, a tadpole, a caterpillar, or some other suitable animal metaphor. I chose Bunny capriciously, but it fits. It's pithy more than it is insulting, and I'll be dammed if I'm going to type her 24-character name over and over.

Out of respect for the language that spawned it, I won't shorten Ocasio-Cortez. And suppose I could call her Al, or Allie, or Alex, but that's disrespectful to the AP style book. So I prefer the nickname.

You can call Kamala Harris whatever you want, and that's perfectly fine with me. Honestly, she sort of is my own version of a bunny girl (or a cougar woman) in that I'd probably let her kill me afterwords for a single night of spirited "debate."

So Bunny it is. I'll drop the "girl" part, because her gender isn't germane to the nickname. As I'll emphasize below, I might wind up liking her more than you do in time. 

I'm not a liberal, and Bunny's media treatment illustrates it pretty well, I think. Liberals seem to just love her. As a centrist who worships truth over style (and thinks ideology should be a 4-letter word), her answers to complicated questions seem simple and trite to me, sort of like what Trump would say if he had decided to become a socialist instead of a reptile. 

You are have a liberal mindset and the accompanying confirmation biases, so you don't seem to see it. She's a rookie; it's going to take her some time to accumulate actual knowledge and experience to draw on. That's normal.

So maybe she sounds more like a pageant contestant talking about world peace than a politician, but that's normal. I'm sure Obama sounded like that when he won his first election, too. 

Something you might not realize, but I suspect you will once I say it: I like socialist ideas more than the average democrat. It sure as hell doesn't make me a socialist, and I'd punch a nun if she called me one. Ok, no, I wouldn't do that, but it would rankle me. 

What makes me sympathetic to socialist ideas is the same thing that makes me sympathetic to most ideas: if it's reasonable and balanced, any argument can be a good one, regardless of ideology. I am strongly in favor of single-payer (or payor, according to John) healthcare. I think education should be nationalized, and schoolteachers part of the civil service system. 

But I hate that the reasonable and balanced "alternate lifestyles" movement gave way to all this chest pounding for alphabet soup rights and bathroom bills. I understand that gay rights are important, and the right to get married, regardless of sexual orientation, seems so obvious that I don't understand why anyone gives a fuck about it.

But bathroom bills are fascist abominations. If you have a penis, use the room designed for penises. If you don't, don't. Bathrooms are not sex rooms, and your sex means nothing. If you have a penis, your gender is male. If you don't, it's not.

Our society does not allow sex in public, so your sex doesn't matter in public. In private, do whatever you want, and feel like whomever you want to feel like, all power to you. But in a public restroom, your gender rules, not your state of sexual mind.

Gay marriage is the opposite coin. In a marriage, sexual orientation and state of mind is everything. To deny a human being his or her sexual needs is cruel and unneccessary. Let 'em find their own way of loving, and leave 'em alone. 

Soapbox over on that one, but I'm sure another one will show up soon.

Anyway, Bunny calls herself a socialist, and I suspect her rise to power has been influenced, at least in part, by the Bernie Sanders movement. I also suspect that she'll learn, like Bernie in 2016, that being a socialist is not a popular democratic campaign platform.

I am going to make a prediction now, one that I doubt we'll remember by the time it comes to pass:

There will come a day when I like Bunny more than you do.

There will come a day when her extreme stances are going to get in the way of some political expediency that your Twitterverse is all ablaze over, and she will be demonized by the same fawning liberals who are currently jostling for position in front of her well-licked boots. 

I would literally bet my life on this if you were a typical liberal, but you might not be. Your Canadian version of liberalism is a bit more socialist than the US version, and I suspect that's why I usually like your ideology.

Ok, like is a strong word. I do genuinely think ideologies that are harder than a 3-minute egg are stupid, and your ideology is fairly solid. But you are thoughtful and far more flexible than most men your age.

So any other liberal, I'd make that bet ten days out of ten and twice on alternate Tuesdays. You might be an exception, though. You might genuinely like Bunny for her politics, not just for her popularity (like most liberals now). 

When her 15 minutes of fame are over, you might actually stick with her, and follow her career as a fan, rather than move on to the next fuzzy pet. If you do, I'll be happy to follow along with you.

Bunny isn't a term of derision, not in my mind. It's a term of dismissal for the media fruit flies who follow her around, but for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (I had it memorized all along) it's a term of skepticism (too new), amusement (who doesn't like fuzzy bunnies?) and endearment (I think she's cute, too). 

The idea that we could have a President Bunny tickles me. I suspect it won't tickle the democrats if she's still touting the Bernie line, though. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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13/01/2019 11:20 am  

Maybe you get me on AOC, but I don't think you do. You think I'm a fan. But I don't see it that way. I've enjoyed her career to date for two reasons:

1. Her youthful enthusiasm and energy (occurring in a sea of ugly old white men, this is welcome)

2. How much she upsets those same ugly old white men 

I don't want to be a fan of anyone. Can't help it, of course; we have likes and dislikes. But I am capable of reconsideration. For example, I like Justin Trudeau but he's been doing stuff I don't like. I didn't vote for him; I won't be voting for him.

Call AOC what you want, but I find the bunny term irritating, a deliberate and effective provocation (especially as I recall you referred to her as "your bunny girl"; she is not 'my' bunny girl). It reminds me of the scene in Legally Blonde where Elle Woods is tricked into attending a party in a playboy bunny costume; an attempt to humiliate and dismiss.

Just about everyone on earth is shortening her 3 name moniker to AOC. I don't see any reason not to go with the flow. You can continue to use the term you prefer, but just like Rashida Tlaib calling Trump a motherfucker, calling AOC a bunny just distracts from the main thrust of the subject. 

 

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

 

I think it is fair to say that I'm a social democrat. Socialism isn't a system or a philosophy in my mind so much as a natural fact. Socialism pervades the lives of everyone and everything, and it's completely ruthless, just like the biological systems of which we are a part. Democratic Socialism...the key is democracy. Without democracy there is nothing but the unthinking laws of nature, with no empathy or sympathy or the strength that can only be attained by people or things working together. 

Socialism is, to me, just a fact that we need to accept. What is revolutionary to many people is the application of democracy within the socialistic environment. It's 2019 and most people do not live in a real democracy or anything close to it. 

I remember people saying, "Break up the Yankees!" I'm sure you do, too. Maybe not directly, but certainly as a historical thing. Capitalism and communism and fascism are basically the same thing in the end. Certain groups attaining more wealth and power than is healthy for the country or the world. Democratic Socialism is an attempt to protect and encourage a productive competitive environment. 

The devil is always in the details, of course. Something is always wrong with things. No matter what we devise, this is going to be true. When things do go wrong, attempts will be made to fix them. The more wrong things are the more likely it is that the solutions will be extreme and violent. That's why the protection of democracy itself is so important; without allowing for all voices to be heard...and where those voices are mute, I contend we should still try to hear them...our solutions will continue to fall well short of anything really good. 

I'm rambling. I don't have the energy or the inclination to write a book, so I gotta stop. 

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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15/01/2019 3:40 pm  

FiveThirtyEight chat about your girl. I haven't read it yet, so I don't know which side they'll land on yet, or (more likely) if they simply lay out the choices and leave it to the reader. 

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-broken-is-the-debate-about-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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ventboys
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15/01/2019 4:00 pm  

I find myself at least a smidge more interested in Phil's ideas (she's Phil now, since you won't let me call her Bunny), though I'm disgusted with this chat. These are intelligent newsies, and they should know better than to leave nuance in the waiting room. 

The increased interest isn't specifically in her -- she's just a newbie who hasn't been spanked yet -- but in her position. The millennials really should own most of these arguments, shouldn't they? I don't mean some rookie who has been in office for a week should take over, but that the younger members of society deserve to shout down the older ones, like Trump and Adelson, who don't have to sleep in the wet spot they are leaving.

As you can tell from my tone, I'm still disgusted and frustrated by the media's attention on Phil. The fact of it -- the amount -- is obscene in and of itself. The angle of it -- the focus on her ideology instead of her attributes, her ethnicity instead of her experience -- is equally obscene, disgusting and frustrating.

As long as the media continues to treat Phil like she's Bambi and anyone who was in Congres last week killed her mom, it's all just garbage. The kind of garbage we are all way too addicted to. 

To Phil's credit, of course, she's just trying to make a place for herself at the table, if not actively knock the table over. All power to her, for her sake. But the media can't just give her a grammie because she owns a cute guitar. 

We'll see if Phil can grow beyond her ideology, to be interesting for something other than spouting the same line every effective liberal has been spouting for 250 years. I wish her luck, and you'll know when she's earned it. It'll be when I call her by her real name. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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ventboys
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15/01/2019 6:21 pm  

I cooled off and softened that up a bit. I don't know if you read the previous version ... I said "fuck" a lot and "motherfuckers" and compared Chuck Schumer to a banana slug or something. I don't remember. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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