The Washington Post

Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

Jul 26, 2016

Gene Weingarten held his monthly chat with readers.

About this chat:
At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

No, for what it is worth, I do not think Donald Trump has a reasonable chance to be president of the United States.  More on this later. 

But first, something special.   I've stumbled on a really good political song satirist who you probably never heard of.  I hadn't.   Even though he's 59 and has been around a long time.   At his best, he approaches Tom Lehrer quality.  Gonna set you up with him. 

Backstory: 

After one of the more recent mass murders by a maniac with an assault weapon (how's that for a phrase?) I got totally fed up with conservative politicians, who are wholly owned subsidiaries of the NRA, issuing their "thoughts and prayers" and nothing else.  I decided to write a song about it.  It would be performed as a dialogue between a folk singer and a chorus of politicians.  

Like this: 

Another psycho on a rage from deep inside his head

Has left another group of people bleeding, maimed, and dead. 

The love affair this country has with guns is such a sin

We're like the battered wife who cannot see the hole she's in. 

You're the only hope we've got, you folks who legislate

Can't you stop the maniacs from acting out their hate?

Chorus:

Thoughts and prayers. /  Thoughts and prayers. / In this time of dreadful sorrow / you've our thoughts and prayers.

And so forth.

The chorus will get increasingly robotic and hypocritical:  A time for grief / a time for grief. / Let's not get political / A time for grief.  

Eventually, the chorus would sink into pure gobbledygook:

A prayer for time / A grief for thought ...

Anyway, that was my idea.  It was feeling a little too earnest, so before I could decide whether it was worth rescuing, I went to the internet to see if anyone had ever done a song on this very topic.  And whaddaya know.  

Roy Zimmerman is a lefty political folk singer sorta known in California and nowhere else.  How obscure is he?  He has fewer Google hits than I do.   He has fewer Twitter followers than my dry cleaners.  

And he has this.   After I watched it, I abandoned my puny song.  (This is sort of astonishing, and a total coincidence, but you can sing my opening lyrics to his tune.  Try it.)

And that's not close to his best song.   His best song, I think, is this one, which is also on a favorite topic of mine.  And here he basically repeals The Second Amendment 

And here he gets Limbaugh. (The word "a-hole" is spoken.)

This guy is me, but with talent. 

Anyway, that was the entire purpose of this introduction, to give you Roy Zimmerman.  You're welcome.  

We start at noon sharp.   If you haven't taken the poll, please do so now.   

(I also should point out that the ferociously competent multi-tasker Jess The Producer is producing this chat while simultaneously being in Philadelphia and coordinating the Post's rapid response team at the convention.  I'm sure things will go smoothly.)

TAKE THE PRE-CHAT POLL:

This poll is about the election, and was suggested by Tom the Butcher, who says he is literally losing sleep over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Pick the version that fits your politics.
- I lean conservative
- I lean liberal

Roy has a new song out.   Felicitously enough, it's about the Republican convention. 

I find it fascinating that you give this choice for the polls. Do you get many conservative readers? If so, what percentage of them do you think are really liberals gaming the system?

The numbers are always consistent, judging from the polls.  About one in nine of the readers of this chat are conservatives.  I believe that. 

I don't recall seeing anything like this, ever. Am I correct, forgetful, or just too young (I'm 51)? I agree with every word, but the fact that they published it is stunning.

This is the Wapo editorial on Friday.   In ran the length of the page, and I tweeted that it may be the best editorial I have ever read.  I think it is.  Here's why:

There's an unstated message behind it, and it is the essential message about this campaign, the necessary one,  and the one that news media are afraid to confront.  The Post has confronted it.   The message is that this is not an ordinary election, and the responsibility of the media to be "fair" must not be used to normalize this thing.  Trump is a fascist, and a potential disaster, and the media's responsibility is to make this clear.  It is the truth. 

how bad was the use of Michelle's language in the speech? More importantly, how poorly did the Trump people handle, claiming it was just random phrases?

Plagiarism. 

It was terrible, for a whole bunch of reasons.  Politically, it was dreadful; she was stealing from the enemy.  Ethically, it was appalling.  The Trump response was uncoordinated and stupid.  First they denied, then they admitted. 

shouldn't it be "is"? Tom?

Yes, it should.

Either the wallpaper goes or I do.

This is in response to my having written that I intend my final words to be "I should have spent more time at the office."  

That wallpaper quote is attributed to Oscar Wilde.  But it's a little bit apocryphal.   What he really said was:  "This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do."

That's not as concise, but almost as good.  The main problem is that he said it weeks before his death.  Not final words.  

You've been doing this (with more puns & nuance) since before the youth that compiled this 'listicle' was born. I still had a moment of 'woah' at #10. 

Not bad, but I am pretty sure "Mike Litoris" punked the reporter. 

Dear Gene, I've got a growing groin problem, sort of. Like most American boys, I was circumcised as a baby. There was nothing outstanding regarding the outcome except that it left me incredibly uncomfortable for as long as I can remember--the rubbing on the clothing and whatnot. I'd liken it to turning your eyelid inside out, then rubbing it lightly with your tee shirt all day. But that's not what this is about. This is about my nearly 15 year relationship and the fact that I've been lazily doing the foreskin restoration thing for about 15-1/2 years. Like, I'd wear the device for 2 weeks when I'm separated from my girlfriend, then I forget about it for between 9 months and 2 years. The thing is, I now have about 80% coverage in relaxed mode. (It's massssively more comfortable!!) And the other thing is...I've never uttered a peep to my girlfriend about what I've been doing. So, good relationships are all about honesty and communication, right? But then again, it's my body, and I can do whatever I want. To complicate things, early on in our relationship, she, like a typical American, specifically mentioned she liked cut guys better. Did she say that just to make me feel better or is this true? I'm kind of self-conscious about this whole thing. Actually, I'm totally embarrassed. It's personal. It's weird, but it's not. What's wrong with wanting to fix something where part of my body was cut off without my consent, leaving me with significant discomfort, right? I should own it and not let anyone tell me how to feel, right? Be strong! Right? But I'm weak. I want her to know she's not going crazy, that she didn't just imagine things were different down there 15 years ago. I really want her to support me in this, but I'm afraid she'll think I'm a freak. So what do I do? Do I just pretend nothing has changed? Do I sit down with her and have "the talk" about how I'm growing back part of my body? "Hey, so I've decided to grow another ear...." It's not like she's going to leave me, but I really don't have any appetite for judgment on this (and that's something she can cook). BTW, I really want to finish the process to alleviate all the discomfort and maybe be more or less like I would have if not for the knife or scissors, or whatever they used--but the potential for rejection is messing with my head...so to speak.

Wow.  This is so weird and detailed I'm thinking it's true.  But I have some major questions: 

I gather you are re-growing a foreskin via stretching and such?  This site, which is safe for work, explains it.   What I do not understand is how your girlfriend doesn't KNOW you are doing this.  Delicacy forbids me to elaborate, but, huh?

Very simple answer: This has become a major part of your life.  You are quite serious about it.  I have never heard of circumcision creating oversensitivity to the point of constant irritation, but I'll believe you.   In short, you are entirely entitled to do this, you have a good reason, and I think it is a subject to be openly discussed with your lover. 

I still don't get why it is not obvious to her. 

And I am left with one big question, which I am herein turning into an instapoll.   IT IS ONLY FOR WOMEN AND GAY MEN.   Other guys, please don't troll it. 

Poll for women

Poll for gay men

It has been my experience that when you get old, stop eating, eventually your body runs out of energy, and you stop breathing. You are too exhausted to say any last words.

This is very odd reasoning.  

Everyone has last words.  They might not come on their last day of life.   

Did the Democrats pick the only person that could possibly lose to Trump? Did Republicans pick the only person that could possibly lose to Clinton? Each side seems to have picked the most unlikable people in their party.

I think Bernie might have been a worse candidate than Hillary.  I think Republicans would have framed the fight as capitalism v. socialism, and I think a lot of people would have fallen for that. 

I can't help but fear that the WaPo editorial is exactly what will confirm to many Trump voters that he's really what they want because they want to stick it to the elites like the ones who write for the newspapers.

Well, nothing lost, then.  No Wapo editorial will ever convince any of those people of anything. 

Would make a nice double dactyl.

Nope, it's not a dactyl. 

He was jailed for coercing domestic staff, security guards, and members of sports teams into sex.

Thank you.  

So, does the answer to the journalistic ethics question re: reporting a compromising Hillary story in October 2016 change at all if you know with near certainty that the information was acquired via Russian sabotage? Assume that all the other traditional safe harbors apply (you weren't involved in the acquisition; you got the information legally; it's of legitimate public interest). I still lean yes, report it, but man that's hard.

Well, now that's pretty interesting.  

Logically, I'm not sure the question makes sense: If it was acquired by Russian sabotage, it is perforce illegal, no?  Stolen goods. 

But let's put that aside for the sake of argument.   Okay, so it's October 1 and the Russians deliver something that will injure Hillary, though it is not criminal.  It is a character issue.  

And let's say we have determined for sure that this is Vlad Putin trying to tip the scales for Trump, with whom he has a disturbingly cozy relationship .   

I think, as an editor, I would pair the stories.   Definitely run the one about Hillary, but also run one about the source, and the source's motives.   And run that second story down to wherever it leads. 

 

Wow. 

I love the Christianity undertone, actually!  

Besides, I hear it's pastrami. 

 

 

 

Tomorrow begins San Diego Comic Con, at which I hope to meet Berkeley Breathed, as he is to be at a table signing books. I recall you are friends. So, number 1, how do you pronounce his last name. Number 2, what should I say besides how much I love his work? Panties!

He is BERK-lee BRETH-ed. 

Tell him you bring greetings from me and remind him I was the one who pointed out that Opus anagrams to Soup.   He said, "Oh.  That will bother Opus a lot," and did a Sunday based on it. 

One of my co-workers' wife is expecting a baby next month. The chosen name is Persephone. Do I have any ethical responsibility to point out to someone with a common men's name what he is doing to his expected daughter by giving her a name that no one can spell or pronounce unless they are educated in the classics? I had to check the spelling myself before I asked this. I ask this as a parent of a daughter who has had both her first and last names mispronounced her entire life, including at her high school graduation when the announcer was given a card with the phonetic spelling. I knew she would always have trouble with her last name but Lois? If people can't get that name what are they going to do to poor Persephone? The last name isn't an obviously easy one either.

Wow.  Do they even know who Persephone is? 

Goddess of the underworld!  Effectuator of curses upon the souls in Hell!

I think you might tactfully inquire if they know that. 

If she is named Persephone, she will go by a shortened nickname her whole life.  She'll be Penny. 

 

As of this writing, poll results show 3% of liberals believe there is more than a 50% chance of Trump winning, and only 7% of conservatives. I'm a liberal, and I'm one of that 3%, and I'm here to tell you why I voted that way. Most media reports seem to treat this as a normal presidential election, where normal things matter - the economy, statesmanship, political correctness. But it's not a normal election. 1. We're in a time like none before where everyone is sick to death of politics as usual. There is so much distrust and dislike of politicians globally. People want a way to show this frustration. 2. Emotions are running high and emotional arguments get more traction than logic or reason. The more we experience events like Orlando, Turkey, Nice or Baton Rouge, the more this is true. These two factors appear to be global and have recently been evidenced by: a) Brexit. The Remain campaign was logical and based primarily on economic reasons. The Brexit campaign was the equivalent of the Trump campaign - making the UK great again. It was nationalism and racism disguised. b) Far-right political strength and support growing in Europe (France, Austria, just to name two examples). c) In Australia, the recent election almost resulted in a hung parliament due to the number of votes for the smaller parties. Everyone in Australia too is sick of the ineffectiveness of career politicians. Further, an emotional scare campaign by the Labor opposition was extremely effective. Clinton's problem isn't her voice or her email scandal or her gender - she is an establishment politician through and through. (Like Jeb Bush, and see how far that got him.) Further, she doesn't have emotional policies. Trump's policies are all about emotion. I want to be wrong. I think a Trump presidency would be a disaster. He's a racist and a misogynist. He's an egomaniac. None of these qualities make a good leader.

Noted.  

I can't tear down your argument, but I also do not believe there are enough people scared or ignorant or hateful enough to elect this guy.  I just think more of Americans. 

Dear Gene, Legal Sea Food (a seafood chain restaurant in Boston, but has locations up and down the East Coast) posted this ad about Hillary Clinton yesterday. It's getting a lot of push back for being misogynistic, which I agree with.  They did do an ad about Trump, which referenced his hand size comments. I find the Hillary ad to be different though and more of a personal attack. However, I do lean liberal, so I realize I may be biased on this one. What say you?

I like daring ad campaigns and I applaud their trying this, but: 

I think this was a mistake because I'm pretty sure "cold fish" is almost always directed at women; ergo, it's sexism.  Of course the hands reference in the previous Trump ad is also a veiled penis joke, but it's more veiled. 

I am thrilled thrilled thrilled that you have discovered Roy Zimmerman, whom I've been following for years. My family has hosted him at our house in Bethesda for a house concert, and now that you've mentioned him, maybe I can get him to come back! Be sure to check out his work with The Foremen, his faux-sixties foursome that perfectly skewers (both musically and culturally) the folk-rock era while also doing topical songs. (Among my personal favorites: "Hell Froze Over"  "Peace is Out"  and "Everyman (For Himself)"  And among his solo efforts, you should particularly appreciate this one.

Just got this before the chat, so haven't listened yet.  I'm looking forward to it. 

So we can have a circumcision-preference poll but not a pubic hair-preference poll? WTF Gene?

WE HAD A PUBIC HAIR PREFERENCE POLL ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO.   Jess, can you find the results?

I cannot believe I was able to find this, but here it is

Supposedly John Adams' last (and incorrect) words on his deathbed.

"Jefferson still lives," I believe it was. 

 

Adams was a famously nutso hypochondriac his whole life.  He died at 90. 

Gene, please drive up to Philly and smack some sense into the Bernie people. Explain to them like you would a child how math works, that if they blow this, I will hold them just as responsible for Trump as I do the Trumpeters. I know you have been saying for months and months that Trump will not win, but I was watching the convention last night and started to think, ohmigod, this is actually happening. The Dems are going to blow this.

They won't.  And Sarah Silverman really tried to do what you are asking me to do, and she's smarter and prettier and funnier than I am, and it didn't work so great. 

Maybe this is the mind game I am playing with myself to keep from screaming in terror, but I think if elected Trump will be completely ineffectual. The system of checks and balances is in place, and I don't think he has the competency to run around and over them. He just wants to be called "Mr. President". He doesn't actually care about running the country nor is he interested in doing the work necessary. He'll probably live more at Mar-a-lago or Trump tower than the White House. Pence, who despite his religious right affiliations at least is aware of the system and how it works, will serve as defacto President. Trump will take credit for his successes and throw him under the bus for his failures, and he'll make some grand speeches and cut ribbons, but he won't actually do much. The GOP will run around him as much as possible, Congress and SCOTUS will obstruct him, and he'll be relegated to the sidelines while still getting all the trappings of power. It's a horrible way to run a country, but it's better than Trump actually doing things.

Would you bet your country on that flimsy hope? 

I have a friend, a gay man and that is important, who is now saying he doesn't want to vote because of the DNC leaks. He finds the language used in the emails offensive and is now saying he sees little difference between the GOP and the DNC. I think he's being obtuse and that NOT voting is just as bad as a vote for Trump. Help me, Gene, you're my only hope.

Why do you mention he's gay?  Was there homophobic language in those emails?   

See the next post. 

I usually enjoy watching the conventions in a presidential year, but cannot stomach them this year. I simply can't fathom how a country as rich in intellect, public spirit, and patriotism couldn't find better candidates than these two. I'm absolutely torn over who will get my vote. The past few years I've written in a name, but I don't want to deprive one of the two candidates of one vote. I can't not vote. What can I do?

Immanuel Kant would argue that there is only one moral choice for any voter in this election. 

Only one candidate is qualified to be president.  Pure and simple.  Doesn't matter who you like better.   Kant said you must always act, in all matters, in a way that would be best for the public weal, if everyone acted the same way.  I think that's from Critique of Pure Reason.  

No third-party voting, either. 

 

It was also forbidden by law to make fun of his name. Really. It was.

I love that.  I don't believe I've ever heard of the guy, which shocks me. 

Ok, so...let's just say I didn't even realize my husband was uncircumcised. This is the only place I will admit that. I always thought uncut = gross, but I think that was largely due to the opinions of other girls/women. Apparently I had no idea that uncut looks the same as cut when erect. Anyway, I found out that my husband is uncut when I got pregnant and brought up circumcision. How embarrassing for me when I realized my inclination toward circumcising our son might make him feel bad about himself. We ended up having a girl but it was quite eye-opening.

I find it interesting that by and large women are way more familiar with uncut penises than are most hetero men. 

I still don't understand how you could not have know, but thank you for sharing. 

Is really the name of a spokesman for the Park Service. Really.

Okay! 

She's the second hottest Jewish babe out there, plus she's smart and funny.

Hm.

I'm thinking.

Portman?

 

 

 

Bernie isn't a Democrat, he's a Independent running as a Democrat because running as a Independent isn't a viable option. So...where's the beef? Of course the DNC is going to rally around the lifelong Democrat, rather than the newly found opportunist Democrat. That's not rigging, that's just politics. Why is this an issue? Thanks Gene. I remain your loyal minion.

For the sake of "unity," I'd like to agree with you, but nah.  The DNC had an obligation to be neutral. 

I think the optics on this are terrible, as they say, but in the end no harm was done.   They DIDN'T corner Bernie on his religion.    Still, Bernie-ites were complaining about a rigged system, and this validates their complaints. 

I am surprised at how many of the "lean liberal" polltakers in the results (as of about 11:40) think HIllary Clinton has been a reasonably good candidate. I think she's been a terrible candidate--tone-deaf, assuming that everyone would fall in line behind her and not really understanding why when it doesn't happen, etc. Unless I'm misunderstanding the question and by "candidate" you just meant "Person with positions who seems qualified to run for the office he or she is seeking," whereas I was thinking more of "campaigner." I guess she's OK on the first but bad at the second.

I meant campaigner, and I think that's how most people are taking it.   I think she's been fair to mediocre.  

Interesting piece by a sensitive, feminist guy. 

I do not feel this chat is sexist, or a boy's club.  Sixty percent of you are women, a stat that makes me feel great and always has.  

Am I wrong about it not being sexist, or a boy's club?  

 

No, they don't.

See, I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THAT! 

Gene, I’m not going to vote for Donald Drumpf (I refuse to use what he does for his last name) and the reasons for that are too numerous to mention here. But the other day, I came to the following conclusion – the man has no redeeming virtues. I’m a Democrat and I’ve never voted for a Republican candidate, but in the past I’ve found things to like and admire in each of them, particularly John McCain. OK, it was tough to do with George Bush, but still, it seems that on a personal level he’s a genuinely nice guy. That can’t be said of Donny Boy. There is nothing about him that is appealing. Worst of all, he seems to think that he’s tough when he’s actually just mean. Am I right in believing this?

He seems to love his children, and not to have ruined them.  That's as far as I can go. 

I was talking about the election with some mid-twenties coworkers, and they didn't really know about the role Ralph Nader played in the 2000 election. Might be a good time to remind those Berniacs now saying they are going to vote for the Green Party or whatever.

Yes.  People voting for Nader gave us George W. Bush, the war in Iraq, and ISIS.

"Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook" Several online definitions of "mook" seem to apply.

I think this is a very New York word.  I used it growing up.   

Today George Will wrote: "Her [Hillary's] opponent radiates anger, and the United States has not elected an angry president since Andrew Jackson." My question for you, Gene: What about Polk?

I would say he was dour, maybe saturnine, but not angry.  Also, possibly, grumpy.  He had a sour stomach and suffered from diarrhea.  

I think Nixon was angry, but outsourced his anger to Spiro Agnew.  

Can we do a poll?  Personally, I find it funny, but inappropriate right now. Part of being a decent human is recognizing pain in others and not poking them in sore spots. Also sometimes keeping hilarious things to ourselves for the greater good.

Yes, this is tasteless.  And it is funny only BECAUSE it is tasteless.  The humor of outrageousness.  

A mistake. 

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." H. L. Mencken

Yes. 

I chose the horrified and terrified option, which is a more extreme answer than I'd have picked if the poll were a month ago. For most of the campaign, even after he effectively captured the nomination, I've viewed Trump as sort of an opera buffa-style diversion. Lately, though, I've become much more concerned. I never really thought he was going to make the pivot to presidential behavior that some conservatives predicted, but he's shown himself not only uninterested in doing that, but frankly incapable of it. He's talking about trashing policies which used to be areas not just of common ground between Republicans and Democrats, but, like, of-course-why-are-you-even-bringing-it-up common ground, like NATO. I've gone from thinking "he's not racist; he's certainly appealing to racists (also bad!), but he wouldn't actually implement any racist policies," to thinking, "Man, he really does have a history of behavior which I would call racist." At bottom, I don't think he has any real core policies or even beliefs, except what's good for Trump, but I worry that what he perceives as being in his own interest would lead us into some very weird places as a country. So I'd be horrified and terrified if he won. I don't, however, believe that he has a shot in heck of winning.

We are in the same place. 

Her classmates will call her Phony. I warned off a friend who had been thinking of Seward for his son. I confirmed his suspicion that Sewer was inevitable.

There is a reporter for WTOP in D.C. named Dave Dildine.  I wonder what he was called, as a kid. 

Ralph Nader. Bush v. Gore. That worked out well. And seriously, you think the R platform is the same as the D? The Rs have in their platform that they support conversion therapy, want to make illegal gay marriage and adoption, and make people use the bathroom that corresponds to their biology at birth. Tell your gay friend that. What is wrong with you people?

Exactly. 

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but shouldn't the allegation that the Russian government paid hackers to undermine Hillary's campaign for Trump's benefit be a WAYYYYYY bigger story? Like "international incident" big?

I agree. 

A friend of a friend on Facebook just posted this (for people who can't get on board with Hillary): If Trump becomes president with a Republican Congress, I am certain that our government will waste no time in launching an aggressive program aimed at identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants. This will force mixed status families like mine to choose between being broken apart and going into exile abroad. The hope of finding a legislative solution to our family’s immigration issue will be lost completely. I bring this up because I am feeling overwhelmed by all the posts I’m seeing promoting third party candidates. A lot of my friends seem to think that “there is no real difference” between Trump and Clinton, that they are somehow equally bad for the US, for democracy, etc. But here’s what that stance *feels* like to someone in my situation—every time that a human rights-loving liberal promotes a non-Hillary alternative to Trump, I feel like my family’s future must not matter to that person. I feel as though, for that individual, our possible deportation under a Trump presidency would just be some sort of unfortunate collateral damage in our nation’s journey to a more progressive future… The thing is that I *get* why people would want to vote for a 3rd party candidate. I voted for Nader! Under certain circumstances, it is just self-evident that a person should vote his/her conscience. BUT. I believe that every supporter of a 3rd party candidate in this election should recognize that it is largely because of privilege that you can choose to turn away from the only candidate who truly has a chance against Trump. You most likely hold the stance you hold because you do not have to worry about being directly, immediately impacted by a hypothetical Trump presidency. As you choose your candidate, please remember that others of us just aren’t so lucky.

I was thoroughly sympathetic with you until you revealed you voted for Nader. 

Now I'm only partially sympathetic. 

They did, sadly. Mentioned something about "no homos".

I am not finding this.  Are you trolling?

When I was in college, one of my housemates brought home Playgirl. We all looked at the centerfold, and I said, "Something's missing from this picture." The others stared at me, and one explained, "No, there's something *extra* in this picture." Oh. Yes, cut and uncut definitely look different, but you have to know what you're looking at.

I still don't exactly know how it works.  I mean, literall, how it operates. 

I find the scrutiny of Bernie's belief both interesting and frustrating. As a Jew myself, I feel like the question of belief vs. atheism is different from what it is with gentiles, because our God is, well, kind of a jerk. So I wouldn't be shocked if Bernie feels as I do--pretty down on Judaism but retaining a basic open-mindedness about the nature of the universe. But that always requires a long-winded explanation when Christians ask me what I believe.

Why is the Jewish God kind of a jerk?  Because he's the jealous, threatening Old Testament God?

Hasn't modern Judaism softened that?  No?

O wise one, how is it that you have ruthlessly criticized a person named Mollie on Twitter, because of "Molly, which is the only acceptable spelling", yet elsewhere you glibly referred to "Mattie", your daughter's dog, whose book "Mattie's Neighborhood" will be out at some point? Aha!! Molly with a "y" has a dog named Mattie with an "ie"? And that's okay with you? Hypocrite! ; )

Molly is the entirety of my daughter's name.   Just as I am Gene and not Eugene. 

Mattie is a shortening of Mattingly, which is the dog's name. Because it is a diminutive, the spelling is appropriate, even dismissive.  That is my official position.    

 

 

I'm a Democrat all the way across the board, and a woman, but I'm still pissed off that Hillary has been giving out "Woman Cards" to people who pledge to vote for her. I will not vote for a woman because of an accident of chromosomes, and resent the implication that I am less qualified to be a woman because of it, however jokingly.

I don't get the "less qualified" part. 

Also, I think you are misunderstanding the intent of the "woman card."  Accused of playing the woman card, she responded that if that meant advocating for women, deal me in.      This is about advocating for women. 

Most women seem not to have experience with both types of phalluses.   Those who do vastly prefer cut.   And gay men are being shy.  

I don't know how to say this without sounding full of innuendo I don't really intend, but the premise seems flawed- given the choice of an anemic looking sandwich that is mostly bread, or one overflowing with meat, what idiot wouldn't choose the latter?

I think the "joke," such as it is, is that there is a prejudice against extra flesh. 

I believe most men will tell you that the principal prejudice is in favor of vaginas. 

This is a very genitalial chat. 

I hate to break it to you, but no, your family's future doesn't really matter to me. You went into it with your eyes open, presumably, and you knew what the consequences could be. The fact that you started a family in such a dicey legal situation gives me no reason to be sympathetic to you.

I disagree with this. 

Hi, Gene-- Posting way early since I'll be traveling. I got a chuckle out of the following, presumably unintended, pun from a July 17 item in the Post : "Although animals may not be able to speak, studying their behavior may be a suitable substitute for assaying their thoughts, and this in turn may allow us to jettison the stale canard that thought without language is impossible."

Ha. 

Gene - You know that this is exactly what happened to the world famous Katz's Deli, right? It's not a misspelling, but they got the sign wrong, it was too expensive to fix, and that's how it's been displayed since it's been made. "Another of the deli's catch phrases is "Katz's, that's all!", which came about when a sign maker asked Harry Tarowsky what to say on the deli's sign, and Harry replied "Katz's, that's all". This was misinterpreted by the sign maker who painted the sign as it stands today on the side of the building. "

Never heard that!  It's excellent. 

The post that came towards the end of last month's chat about the woman who had never realized when people say "imagine a beach with a blanket and shovel" or similar, that most people could actually see a mental image of that beach... well it blew my mind a bit because I'm the same way! In trying it a bit in the weeks since, I've realized that I can make mental images of things I've seen but not make up things I haven't. So for example, if someone says "picture a beach" I have a flash (quick, it doesn't last) of a beach I've been to or seen. If they then say "with a blanket and shovel", I'll get two flash-pictures of those items separately. I can't add these separate items into a composite mental picture, or get them to stay in my 'mind's eye' for more than a heartbeat. Something I've never seen at all ("picture a purple beach") and nothing comes up. That this is not normal had never occurred to me before last chat. I also have very vivid dreams I remember well, but I have an additional "party trick" that I'm now wondering if it's less normal than I've assumed. After listening to something (book on tape, podcast, etc), thinking back to it or rehearing it will give me a mental picture of whatever I was looking at/my location when I first heard it. Whether that's a road (if driving), the room I was in, etc. I can do the opposite too- if I'm having a hard time recalling the specifics and know where I was physically when I heard it, then thinking about what that place looked like helps me remember new details. Doesn't work for things I read or smell or see or singing/music or even active conversations, just when I am listening to recorded speaking voices.

Interesting.  I have a terrible memory but if I am remembering something remarkable I recently read, I remember the place on the page.   Not the page number, but that it was in, say, the penultimate paragraph on the left-hand side of the book.  Did you know that the left page of an open book is the "verso" and the right page is the "recto"?  You do now. 

if you're only hooking up with American men, you're far less likely to encounter an uncut member. My first was a dashing Italian. Looked like a pig-in-the-blanket and took some getting used to visually but was perfectly nice and functional and, let's face it, you're not looking at it most of the time, right?

Understood. 

What time will we be going to bed on election night? If someone wins the trifecta of PA, OH, and FL, it's probably over either way.

Nine-thirty.

Do you agree with the cynical view that Clinton picked Kaine for the sole reason to win back a few of the angry white males from Trump? It wasn't like Latinos or African Americans were going to vote for Trump anyway so those pushing for Castro or Booker were dreaming.

No.  He's a very good candidate.   

Hi Gene. So, either here in one of the updates or on Twitter (I don't remember which one), when Joe McGinniss died you posted something about the book Fatal Vision as well as about Joe. When I was younger, I remember watching the miniseries based on the book and was haunted by it. Anyway, because of your post I bought Fatal Vision and started reading it this weekend. I have two thoughts, the first is how well the book is written. Mr. McGinniss does a really great job of making a story that I know well, suspenseful. How he alternates between the crime scene progression and then background information is really well done. My second thought is how incredibly creepy Jeffrey MacDonald sounds in the parts that are in his "words." Sounds like a narcissist and a sociopath. Additionally, rather unfortunately when I Googled Colette's name to see what she had looked like Google images had pictures of the crime scene (bodies included) and autopsies of all three of the victims. How Dr. MacDonald (or anyone for that matter) could do what he did to those poor children and his wife is beyond my comprehension. He ruined so many lives that day. Poor Freddy and Mildred Kassab.

The final horror was the death of the younger girl.  MacDonald was in a frenzy when he killed the other two, but he killed his youngest daughter in cold blood, to eliminate a final witness, make the savagery seem like the work of a group, and clear his slate to be a bachelor for the rest of his life. 

For me, the grades for Hillary lined up, in Firefox and IE, as ABFCD, with the F somewhat below the line. I think you need to throw that one out.

Really?  Others have this problem?

Okay, Gene, my question is going to take a rather generous stretching of the imagination. Here goes - imagine Hillary had won the nomination in 2008, and gone on to win in 2008 (McCain has the same financial crisis meltdown) and 2012 (Romney's run against Hillary played out similarly to against Obama) . Let's say Hillary's two terms played out more or less like Obama's - Hillarycare is despised by the right, but providing healthcare for many previously uninsured, the economy is rebounding, but her approval is horribly low - as commander in chief, she took the heat for Benghazi and similarly got in trouble for using a home email server (you can believe that right? sigh). In the meantime, Obama had a distinguished career as a senator, and quickly emerged as the presumptive democratic nominee well prior to 2016. He had to fend off a Bernie charge, but the contrast of the cool, hip, potential first-African American allowed him to clinch the nomination by the first week of March. Trump garnered national attention by attacking Hillary eight years ago and shortly after the 2012 election, he started attacking Obama for being born in Africa and a secret muslim. Trump rides this wave to become the republican nomination. So, end of July 2016. In this alternate reality, what is the polling? Is it similarly look roughly tied in popular vote? If so, is Obama considered to be dragged down by Hillary's numbers? I'd argue that Obama would be likely to have a clear majority of the popular vote. Not necessarily a huge majority - the country is still divided after all - but wide enough to make clear that the Obama is the choice of a majority of the country, and when the electoral college is considered, Trump has virtually no path. What do you think?

In a race between Donald Trump and Barack Obama now, Obama would win in a landslide.  A LOT of Trump's support involves hatred of Hillary.  

Re your scenario: I think Obama would not have remained in the senate.  I think he would have been Hillary's choice for veep. 

Recently, we were in Hawaii and passed a sign for the aptonymic business Dodo Mortuary & Crematory Services. There's a Thai restaurant in VA that for many years had this sign in the men's room: Employees Must Wash Your Hands. Alas, they replaced the sign a few years ago.

Thank you. 

I thought you were kidding, but you were not. 

 

It's almost as good as these guys. 

 

 

Most American men are cut, so... I really don't think many American women or gay men have the experience of having been with both. I know I don't. I prefer cut, only because that is what I am used to seeing. Had I more experience, I probably wouldn't.

Noted. 

Darn. Here I was classifying you with the other great WashPost Eugenes, Dionne and Robinson.

E.J. is Eugene?  

When Gene Robinson became the editor of Style, and I was a  Style writer, he send out a memo to all staffers declaring that from then on, he was "Big Gene" and I was "Little Gene."

Just feel the need to state this. Voting for Nader did not automatically make them a Bush enabler. For example, living in states like Illinois and California that were definitely going Democrat by a wide margin, you could safely vote for Nader and know Gore was going to win the state. All you had to do was pay attention to the polls. The people in the "purple" states are the ones that need to be very conscious that their vote for a third party could in fact change the entire outcome of the election. So, where you live and vote matters in making these choices.

Well, sure. 

You know I feel about Gore much as I feel about Clinton: Bad campaigner, annoying style, would make a good president. 

I'm an agnostic. Completely. Like in the sense that I think there may be a god, but if not, meh, whatever. But I wish folks would lay off the whole "we don't want your prayers" thing. Many religious people really do believe that prayers ARE helpful and important and bring comfort and make a difference. That rings somewhat hollow to me if those prayers aren't accompanied by actions, and I don't pray myself (except when I fly; I really hate flying, just about the only time I'd like to think there's a god watching out for me), but they are deeply meaningful to an awful lot of people, and I think we'd all get along a lot better if the non-pray-ers respected that.

I have no problem with people offering thoughts and prayers. 

I have real problems with conservative gun nut politicians offering ONLY thoughts and prayers. 

I know you aren't supposed to comment about other comic strips. But can you say something (ANYTHING) about what exactly is illustrated in the second and third frames of this strip.  (Actually, the second strip printed on this page. I won't pay the Kingdom to get access to the 7/21 strip for purposes of this question!)

You're seeing something I'm not.  Looks straightforward to me.  What am I missing?

Unfortunately, I do think that a candidate's religion is fair game, but I picked sleazy, because it was DNC leadership trying to discredit him in a shameful effort to buy Hillary an advantage. I would have chosen differently if it was an effort from the Republican side.

Then you answered wrong, because the poll was based on ignoring the DNC's treachery. 

My answer will surprise many of you.  I think it's an appropriate question to ask, simply because a lot of people care about the faith of their candidates.   I do think "That's private and I'm not going to answer it," is a perfectly valid answer.  But the question is not out of bounds. 

I'm using Safari and saw the same thing. I assumed the dots were in alphabetical order and chose accordingly. I think its just a text-wrapping issue, but the display makes it look like F is the center.

Ah, okay.  Sorry about that. 

I recall you being pretty opposed to Cruz winning the Republican nomination. Still wish that? As a Republican who will not vote for Trump or Hillary, Cruz's speech in which he rejected politics as usual to stand for his principles made me wish all the more he had won.

I think in some ways Cruz would be a more dangerous president than Trump, because he would have a patina of respectability, and stand for all the wrong things. 

I knew I adored Mr. Robinson. (I asked, in one of Robinson's chats, whether E.J. was Eugene, and Mr. R said yes._

Noted. 

"He seems to love his children, and not to have ruined them. That's as far as I can go." He does seem to love his children and grandchildren. But I think it's pretty likely that his ex-wives raised those kids! He divorced both while the children were minors and the mothers got full custody. He doesn't seem the involved co-parent type. Give credit to Ivana and Marla for not (apparently) ruining those kids.

Fair point. 

In 2008, we elected our first black president, who defeated the first female presidential candidate. That same female is now the nominee of her party, and shamelessly running to be elected as the first female president. I am deeply offended by this. We can find other women candidates as needed, but we are on the cusp of electing our very first fascist candidate -- and it will be VERY difficult to find another fascist as deeply skilled as this one. Can't we take our "firsts" by merit, please?

I am similarly offended. 

Maybe her parents are at the vanguard of a naming trend, and instead of Penny she'll go by Persephone H. to distinguish her from all the other Persephones in her kindergarten class. Said by a person who had a very uncommon name as a kid, which is now a REALLY popular name for 5 year olds (thanks, MTV's Teen Mom series...)

Half the eight year old males I encounter seem to be named Atticus. 

I have always tried to deprogram WHY this was so funny.  There are two reasons, and they compete with each other.  The first is how embarrassingly disastrously bad the throw was.  The second was the way it looks like an erect penis.  And then, of course, Johnny's kicker. 

Do you think he's having second thoughts (or first thoughts) or is he just happy to be out of Indiana?

He should have no second thoughts.  He's escaping from Indiana. 

I supposed it's not out of bounds to ask a candidate whether his religion is going to dictate his policies. I'd want to know, for instance, whether a Catholic president is going to be anti-choice.

I go further.   I think it's okay to ask "Do you believe in God?"  There are elegant ways to respond to that. 

Can you bump up the frequency of the chat leading up to the election? Please? It's all happening too fast. We need you.

Maybe! 

 

And with that, I am out of here.   This was the most groinal chat ever, I think.  Congratulations to all of you.  

In This Chat
Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

Weingarten is also the author of " The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of " I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and " Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

His most recent book, " The Fiddler In The Subway," is a collection of his full-length stories. He is working on a new book, called "One Day," about the events of December 28, 1986, a date chosen at random by drawing numbers from a hat.

Gene's latest columns, chats and more.
Recent Chats
  • Next: