Chatological Humor update

Aug 15, 2017

You asked for it and you got it. Gene will now be holding weekly mini-chats, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country -- and anything else you want to discuss.

Gene will still have regular monthly chats, for a fuller chat and poll experience. The next one is Tuesday Aug. 29 at noon.

Good afternoon. 

Many gigantic hugs to you for all the hugs you delivered to me after reading my column on Sunday, the one that was ostensibly about cats but really wasn't.  At the risk of seeming aloof, cold, ungrateful, Pecksniffian, Trumpian, or any number of other disagreeable adjectives, I have to close off discussion of this subject.  My columnist instincts tell me to talk about it, but the privacy of other people is at stake, and I have no right to mess with that.  I won't be revisiting this topic anytime soon, either here or in my column. 

You may find some of your questions slightly edited; the good Jess the Producer, acting on my wishes, has stripped some of the posts of commiseration.  That's more about tedium than privacy. 

But I appreciated it all, more than I am saying here.  A lot more.  


On another matter, I find it quite remarkable that Trump's tin ear on the Charlottesville thing seems to be provoking more widespread contempt for him than many more substantive horrors he has perpetrated.  I mean, this was dreadful and personally revealing, but it was largely symbolic, a question of what was the right thing to say, and how he failed ludicrously to say it.  I was trying to figure out what accounted for the particular resonance here.  Why political cowards like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio were driven to speak up.  

I think the answer is: Nazis.  If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that Nazis are bad.  Everyone got that except our fascist-in-chief.  

Okay, let's go. 



I'm in a bind regarding the removal of confederate history. Let me start by saying I abhor the white supremacists, KKK, neo-nazis etc and I am not racist. But, I don't believe in ignoring or wiping history clean. If we allow only the "good history" to stand, do we then forget our history? There were two sides to every battle. I don't have great knowledge of General Lee, so correct me if I'm mistaken, but if he was a good leader and perhaps did some good things, should he not be remembered? Not dissimilarly, Aucshwitz still stands as a reminder so we don't make the same mistakes again. But then I don't even understand my own argument when I think of Pol Pot or Hitler, they shouldn't have statues or parks named after me out here.

I think the distinction here is the use of public space, and thus public funds, to honor someone from history.  I mean, that's what a statue is, in a public square: We are communally proud of this person and what he stood for.  

Robert E. Lee was by most accounts a good and gracious man, though not quite the military genius history has made him out to be.  It was Lee who ordered the disastrous Pickett's Charge that lost Gettysburg, for example. 

The key here is "what he stood for."  He stood for one of the darkest episodes of American history.  

These statues should not be destroyed or even hidden.  But they should be put in a more defensible context: A museum, for example.  A memorial to the dead of the civil war, even.  But not a town square. 

Why is killing someone by deliberately driving a car into a crowd of protesters only being charged as 2nd degree murder, rather than premeditated 1st degree murder?

Because it would be very, very hard to prove he intended to kill anyone in particular -- or anyone, really.   That's a guess.  But he plowed into the back of another car, which plowed into the back of ANOTHER car, which plowed into people.  That's a long chain of events.  It was criminally reckless, but to establish first degree murder, you need to establish (I think) that he KNEW this was going to kill someone, and I don't think we're there.  

It's one thing for comedians known to oppose Donald Trump to criticize him. But when someone as inoffensive as Jimmy Fallon (who infamously tousled Trump's hair on TV) turns against him with serious commentary, is that a sign that Trump's losing the silent majority? Is Fallon the figurative canary in the coal mine?

Very possibly, but this theory is tempered a little by the fact that Fallon knows he is under scrutiny for being too soft.  

There's no longer any question that Trump has to go. But as a queer person I figure I'll end up in some kind of prison camp under Pence. Any ideas about how to stop despairing?

Focus on 2020.  It'll be here faster than it seems. 

I am concerned about the social media efforts to try to get the Charlottesville protestors fired. If be interested in the views of your chatters. Maybe a poll? Back in the day, if you were suspected of being a Communist, you could lose your job. I understand in some careers or certain positions, you could bring disrepute to your employer or bring into question your ability to carry out your role independently or ethically. But for someone who works in fast food selling hot dogs, does it matter what their beliefs are? I don't condone the beliefs but where is the line drawn regarding your right to protest and right to free speech? Should you not be able to have that right without fear of losing your livelihood?

This is a tough question.   I think the answer is not simple.

The First Amendment says I have a right to express myself, even if my opinions are disgusting.  I support that. I think most Americans would, as well.  But the first amendment limits government actions: The government cannot infringe on my rights to say what I want so long as I am not inciting to riot or suchwhich. 

But there is nothing in the first Amendment that compels a private business to employ someone whose views are antithetical to what the company represents.  A business has a (limited) right to decide who works for it, and has an absolute right to fire someone whose personal life it finds abhorrent.  Because, even at a hot-dog restaurant, you are representing the company. 

To look at it more simply, what if the company decides that this guy's continued presence behind the counter might hurt their business or even put their other employees, or their customers, at risk?  (Which is quite possible -- anti-fascists might well target the place for demonstrations or worse)  Would anyone really argue that the hot-dog company has no right to fire him, for that reason alone?  

The flood of disgusting and horrifying news from this (b)administration. Do you ever take a break from reading/listening to the barrage of stuff, or do you think it's better to remain immersed and hyper-informed?

I kind of need to be hyper informed.  So you don't have to be. 

I'm guessing it may not have won the Pulitzer with that title. Though the Wikipedia entry for the real book starts: "Profiles in Courage is a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators."

Yeah, but that quote is meaningless.  The writer was trying not to use the same word twice in a sentence, and strove for a synonym.  Believe me, I know.  Sometimes I feel I spend half my time as a writer doing that. 

I can't be the only person who noticed the line-up ( and both definitions of the word may fit here: either a line of people or things or, more specifically, a group of people including a suspect for a crime assembled for the purpose of having an eyewitness identify the suspect from among them) of all white males behind Trump as he denounced the KKK. Does no one on his team notice this? Or do they just not care? For a guy who cares a LOT about appearances, is this a blind spot or a deliberate choice?

It's both.  He doesn't have a lot of people who are not pale and male, but he also has been feverishly backtracking, in ways obvious and subtle, on the denunciation of fascism he was FORCED to make, kicking and screaming. 

I wonder if it's no coincidence that Trump issued such a rapid-fire diss of Merck's Black CEO for quitting the White House's manufacturing commission on the same day that he read aloud his two-days-late prepared statement about Charlottesville. After all, he still needed to signal to his alt-right backers that he wasn't abandoning them, so they wouldn't turn against him (or more). Agree?

I do.   

But it also indicates his pre-adolescent, schoolyard-taunting  temperament.   As I said on Twitter, you could just imagine him petulantly yelling the last part of his statement -- the "RIPOFF PRICES" part -- as Ken Frazier was walking out the door. 

Trump retweeted a cartoon depicting a train violently mowing down a CNN reporter (later deleting it only proves he knew it was wrong, but was trying to "have his cake and eat it too"). Yesterday Fox News reported that he was "seriously" considering pardoning Arizona ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio. Trump also tweeted a quick nasty ad hominem message about the Black CEO who resigned from the business commission. Such messaging signals to white nationalist, KKK, neo-Nazis and other alt-right types -- wink, wink -- not to take seriously his seemingly forced statement yesterday about Charlottesville, in hopes they won't turn on him for it.

Exactly.  I think this is very clear dogwhistling. 

Figure you can help me on this since you tweet, Gene. Let's say there's an article on a topic that is (in one's own opinion) about a topic that is not good, like say, something that Trump says, or a terrible tragedy (that of course, no sane person would think is good). But, the article ABOUT what was said, or the tragedy, is good. So if you "like" the post on Twitter, are you "liking" the tweet, or the article written about it? (Hope this makes sense!)

You are hitting an exposed nerve, for me. 

To me, "liking" is an abomination in general.  If you like something, retweet it.  Don't "like" it privately.  Who cares about your danged like? 

Your question is a good one, and exposes a singularity of stupidity in Twitter (one of the few; I LIKE Twitter.)   This has been made even more ridiculous since Twitter added the "heart" icon to the "like" feature.   So you are hearting a story about a little girl buried in a ditch with her head cut off.

My solution is to never like anything.  I never do.  I'll either retweet it or let it be. 

I have had people tell me they like something so it is marked for later reference.  I say they are kneeling to The Man. 

WE ARE NOT WIPING HISTORY CLEAN. As an excellent letter to the Post pointed out a few weeks ago, there are no statues of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great in the U.S., yet we still manage to learn about them somehow. Removing the Confederate statues from places of honor (where they were almost all put up not in 1866 but during the revival of the KKK in the 20s & 30s, by the way), does not constitute erasing anything.

Well, of course. 

There are a lot of people in this country who voted for Trump, saying that he was the only one listening to them and giving voice to their concerns. Certainly they aren't all Nazis. It does seem as if many in the media are trying to paint them as such. Your thoughts?

I don't think we are doing that at all.  We have bent over backwards, sometimes straining credulity, to find their logic and humanity.  

I ran across an old New Yorker article where the author gave Agatha Christie a pass on her classicism, racism and antisemitism because she was clearly satirizing the attitudes of the British upper classes of the era. No way she held those ideas herself! Obviously, in a few generations everyone's racist uncle will be redeemed as a great satirist, and Charlottesville will be revealed as the pinnacle of performance art. So, tampon jokes for everyone!

I am something of an expert on Agatha.  She was a racist and antisemite.  And a great, great mystery writer.  I give her a pass.  She was high-station British aristocracy, and wrote about people she knew and befriended.  They were racists and antisemites. 

So, how badly did Trump handle this whole affair? Was it an all-time low in Presidential responses? I think it was.

I think it probably was an all-time low of any modern president sinking to the occasion. 


The all-time high of rising to an occasion was probably Reagan after Challenger.  Am accepting other nominations. 

Also, Obama after Sandy Hook.


Also, I just learned about the "Bobby Three Sticks" nickname and love it.

I just discovered this, too.  It's simply because he is Robert Meuller "III. "  

I submit that 'nothingburger' is an offshoot of 'mouseburger,' which Helen Gurley Brown used to describe a woman of no particular attractiveness who had to work hard to get ahead using her wits and intellect. She characterized herself as a mouseburger who nonetheless made her mark.

I contend they are very different terms.  A mouseburger is something: A mousy, efficient, competent woman.  A nothingburger is nothing. 

Is there anything positive you can say about Trump?

He has a sense of humor.  I have seen it flash more than once.  It is not sophisticated, and it is of course cruel, but it is real.  He understands irony.  That's it. 

How ridiculous is a movement that marches with kitschy tiki torches? For some reason it encapsulates how pathetic these people really are.

It does.  It reminds me of some pro-Mafia rally held in NY in the 1970s.   The demonstrators flipped the bird at cops.  Which was PATHETIC: Real NYC Italians do the whole forearm thing, not the pathetic middle-finger thing. 

Oh, the humanity!!!

I have some.  

I am trying to make trending this hashtag I invented, in solidarity with the NYT:  #TheFailingDonaldTrump.    Please do your part. 

Now that Trump is in charge, when fighter jets fly over I have a panic attack. I feel like WWIII is inevitable. I use to enjoy seeing them.

I once was at a Navy football game in Annapolis, with no clue to what was about to happen.  About a minute before kickoff, three enormous fighter jets roared into view and flew about 200 feet over the stadium.  I thought they were going to crash into the stands.  Not near me. 

My first thought was blind panic. 

My second was "this is gonna be one KILLER of a story to report.  I'll definitely get on A-1." 


Good column to the end. But photo of Buster and Philip is identified as a photo illustration by Eric Shansby. What's a photo illustration?

A photo illustration is a photo that has been manipulated in some way by the artist.   In this case, Shansby basically took the photo and copied it as a painting. 

The biggest problem with trying to name and shame the klansmen and nazis who were in Charlottesville is that all white people look alike.

Very true. If they were Asians it would be easier. 

Much as I deplore Bush 43, his speech following 9/11 about Muslims was admirable.


I call logical fallacy. Statues commemorating Confederate military leaders would be analogous to (and as offensive as) statues of Nazi leaders. Auschwitz is analogous to Andersonville.

Auschwitz is not analogous to Andersonville, except very remotely. 

Gene, I am a not-at-all hot woman with a burning question. I recently changed jobs, moving 2 floors up and many rungs up the food chain with my previous employer. On the old job, no one smiled, no one greeted another, and the restrooms were absolutely silent. In the new job, we all smile, we greet even those we don't know, and we especially greet one another in the Ladies' Room. I can't figure out why this is, other than that everyone on the floor is happier than on my previous floor. However, should the conversations continue once we are in our respective stalls? 


My concern is that the internet has allowed people who are allergic to reality to find others who share their delusions. This creates a reinforcing subculture that used to be limited to cults. But thanks to modern technology, you no longer need to isolate yourself in a well-armed compound, or move to a commune in South America to get the same effect. What worries me most is that these people vote, and without any way to stop this nasty feedback loop, I don't see Trump as being an aberration. Any suggestions? You seem wise in these matters.

I am not wise in these matters. 

You have identified a key problem with modernity.   Insanity can more easily fester.   Witness the Comet Ping Pong phenomenon.  Hey, I stopped in there the other day.  I asked the bartender if things had gotten back to normal, and he rolled his eyes and said "almost."  Then I asked what's the biggest legacy, and he said "people asking if things had gotten back to normal."

"To look at it more simply, what if the company decides that this guy's continued presence behind the counter might hurt their business or even put their other employees, or their customers, at risk? (Which is quite possible -- anti-fascists might well target the place for demonstrations or worse) Would anyone really argue that the hot-dog company has no right to fire him, for that reason alone?" What if this employee were a Black Lives Matter supporter and the company used that to decide based on the same criteria? I bet you'd be against it then.

Apples and oranges.  Being a BLM supporter is not analogous to wearing a Nazi armband in the street and shouting Nazi slogans.   If the employee were a BLM supporter photographed vandalizing something, or beating someone up, no, I wouldn't be against his firing.  

Why is Agatha Christie being attacked for classicism?

Ha.  Good point.  

I would put Obama's Charleston speech ahead of his Sandy Hook speech. But Reagan after Challenger is far and away #1.

I really did not like or trust Reagan, but remember reading that speech and thinking, "damn, he nailed that."  He came across as everyone's wise, strong father. 

To the poster who asked "But for someone who works in fast food selling hot dogs, does it matter what their beliefs are?" The hot dog place in question, top dog, is a small, quirky, and beloved place with a handful of venues in Berkeley and Oakland, CA. Their reputation means EVERYTHING to them. So, yes, it does matter how their employees behave.

And none of that would have to be true, necessarily, to justify their firing him. 

I live in Richmond VA and anticipate an alt right demonstration here. Some of my liberal friends here think the best thing to do is to ignore it and not to give it any attention at all. I'm inclined to join a counter-protest to face up to it. What's your opinion regarding the best way to handle such a situation? I should mention that I am a grandmother in my 60s, but am passionately opposed to alt right values.

I think ignoring it might be a good idea.  They LIKE violence.  I remember when the Nazis marched in Skokie.  No one came out.  They looked like what they were, pathetic idiots. 

Gene: I am 58; I am an old. However, I will give up my paper copy of the WP when it no longer exists. There is NO replacement for being able to open up the whole paper on the kitchen table with my breakfast, and being able to quickly scan an entire page, and read the articles I want to read.

Agreed.  There is something really satisfying, for a small example, in seeing how the editors have prioritized, and illustrated, the stories.   And there simply is no crap.  No "paid content" being confused with stories. 

I addressed this issue in dramatic fashion in THIS chat update in 2011.  (search for "Osama")

Speaking of color wheels... often when I close my eyes at night, before I fall asleep, I "see" the most perfect combinations of colors. Sometimes they appear in a setting, like an outfit, or a room. Anyway, the hues are displayed in my mind and matched together with such perfection that I often wish I could jot it down in a notepad on my nightstand, which is rather impossible. Although, if I had that color wheel, maybe.... Well, I want to know if I'm alone in this, or if others experience the same. Gene?

Not me.  Others?

Many years ago I had a cat who peed blood in the tub. My vet also told me that he was doing it to show me, because it would have been very difficult to see in the litter box. He turned out to have a bladder infection and was fine after treatment.

I got several posts like this one!  The tub is rare -- your cat and Barnaby are unusual -- but apparently cats with pee problems tend to try to show you, often by squatting in front of you.  It's very strange, and oddly uplifting.  They are coming to mommy for help. 

Do you still think this presidency is going to be easy to come back from? I don't mean, "Will the next president be mild-mannered?" I mean, do you think we easily return to a state where it's not acceptable for armed bands of white supremacists to take over city streets, where it's not acceptable for a president to continue on with his personal business dealings without even disclosing what they are, where Republican leadership does more than tut-tut regretfully at the lunatic fringes of their party? I am worried.

I do.  I think this is all providing a valuable template for what must never happen again.  Trump's approval ratings have gone straight down.  We are not liking this.

I really hate the "world would be a much better place if we invested our time and money on other people instead" line of thinking. Do we then have to decide the relative worth of the people so we allocate the money according to your desires? Shouldn't smarter and more able people get more of the money instead of wasting it on the needy? Stop with the false binary choices, life is very gray and you don't get to simplify it that way.

Yeah, agreed. See the next post. 

Money spent on pets IS money spent on people. My dogs enhance my quality of life. And yes, I also spend money to help other people -- partly by giving to organizations that help low-income pet owners pay for emergency veterinary care. And by doing so, I'm helping to enhance THEIR quality of life.

Agreed, also. 

Sorry, but the hypocrisy of Reagan's Challenger speech seems to be forgotten. The Challenger was ill-advisedly launched the morning of Reagan's SOTU address, so he'd have it to brag about that evening. But for the political consideration, Challenger's launch would have been delayed due to the cold temperatures in Florida.

That is absolutely true. But I was talking about rising to the occasion, through a national address.  He did that.   I also think the launch was rushed without his knowledge.  Could be wrong about that. 

I do not see much difference between firing the guy from the hot dog stand for his speech and not hiring Kapernich for his speech. In both cases the employers think it would hurt their business to employee those people.

Yep, but what Kaepernick did was not remotely analogous to a Nazi salute.  Not remotely. 

Obama had to do this so many times. He was eloquent not just after a Sandy Hook, but also after the Charleston church shooting and the shooting of the Dallas police officers.

Yes.  The man gave great speech. 

I'm going to a funeral where I'll see many members of my extended family for the first time in years. I really like a lot of them, but I know that some are Trump supporters and a few may be the people he's dogwhistling to. They cannot be changed, and even if they could, a funeral and the social alcohol-fueled events surrounding it would not be the place to do it. I am going to try my darnedest to not enter into any political discussions because once they start, I won't be able to stop. Do you have a little mantra I can say in my head to calm me down and help me resist the temptation to be drawn in? Something that will detach my brain long enough to remember that I should excuse myself to the bathroom and NOT engage?

I had something similar with relatives at a recent gathering.  When something like that came up, and someone praised Trump, I just smiled broadly and said nothing. 

Gene, as someone who belongs to no party (I lean libertopian), I am becoming more and more convinced that Trump is damaging the GOP in ways serious and sizeable enough that it may take decades for the party to recover. Could Trump be to the modern GOP what Herbert Hoover was to the party 90 years ago?

Yes, he could.   The main difference is that Hoover was largely a scapegoat.  Trump is the real deal. 

Your answer to the free-speech question is bugging me: You said that a "has an absolute right to fire someone whose personal life it finds abhorrent. ... what if the company decides that this guy's continued presence behind the counter might hurt their business ...?" Ya but -- does that mean that Cracker Barrel can fire gay wait staff, since so much of its business comes from churchy people? Or that a 23-year-old schoolteacher should lose her job because somebody posted a picture of her drinking before? This is a tough one, because even though *I" think that Nazis should be exposed and hounded out of society, while gay people should be included, there's an element of "free speech for everybody, provided they agree with me."

Commonsense intrudes, no?  

The gay person is a protected class, anyway.  It's a civil rights issue.   And anyone who fires a teacher because of a picture of her drinking a beer deserves the condemnation they will get. 

How is your book coming along?

My deadline is a year from yesterday.  I may make it. 

your chat is so full of Trump news that we have lost sight of poop jokes, or am I being redundant?

I am tired of people dumping on me like this.  

I am irrationally angry at the trend of hiring people to wait in lines for you so you can get the benefit (Rose's Luxury for instance) without the effort. It just feels to me like yet another spot where the disgustingly rich are able to get benefits WAY beyond those of us well off people. But I do believe in the overall benefits of capitalism and in no way want to go full socialist, but I want there to be things that money CAN'T buy. How do you feel about this?

I once did a column about this.  I don't love it, but the capitalist in me says it is okay.   This guy's argument, as annoying as it is, is not entirely bogus. 

For months I've read and heard the advice that people like me who lean left should engage with Trump supporters to build trust on the basis of our commonalities. Other than being members of the species homeo sapiens who speak a certain language and who live in a particular nation state, what commonalities do we have? We can't even agree on a set of common cultural facts.

You are not trying hard enough.  You both pee in toilets.  You would both be upset at the presence of an alien invasion force from another galaxy.  Etc. 

When I was constipated, the pressure would build up and I would cry. The pain before defecation was bad and worse when it finally emerged. My daughter had a bout of constipation as well. Administering suppositories was horrible for both of us. I felt so bad seeing her in pain from the constipation and from the administration of the suppository.

I've gotten several posts like this.  I have learnt a lesson. And feel grateful this is something with which I am never afflicted. 

I used to agree with your suggestions above to ignore the protests, not engage with Trump supporters in the family, etc. However, I'm starting to see the non-engagement as a kind of complacency that I don't think I (and other well-meaning white people) can keep doing. Part of white privilege is the ability to NOT engage with racists, and perhaps it's time that many of us start to get some real skin in the game.

Even if it is exactly what they want?

Look, the reality is that most employers can fire most people for any reason at all, or none. It may or may not be right, but it is legal and factual. (That's the kind of thing that led to unions.) There were big stories on this in the Post on Sunday. It's one of the things that makes public activism risky. By the same token, patrons have the right to choose to patronize a company or not, based on the quality of the goods or on its corporate practices or any reason at all. If you object to the business because it fires someone, don't patronize it. If you object to the business because it *doesn't* fire someone, don't patronize it.

The market always wins.  

The fallacy here is that in a racist state, the market won't punish the racists.  That's why there are civil rights laws that extend to private businesses. 

We had a cat who would let you know when he was miffed that you had gone away on a trip by deliberately shredding one item (roll of toilet paper, piece of cloth, etc.) and leaving it in the middle of the kitchen floor. He also peed in the tub very occasionally as a sign that he was angry with you. Not an angry cat overall, quite friendly and social, but opinionated.

John Oliver just said that all cats are Nazis.  I sort of see his point. 

I was quite amazed at the piece by you co-Postie Alexandra Petri about the President's "despicable words." I think it is Pulitzer worthy. Did you know she could write "serious" so well? Wow.

Saturday, a white man who is a member of a Right-wing militia tried to set off a thousand pound bomb in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I'm not saying this coverage should supersede Charlottesville, but it is at least as important as those stories. The press has barely covered it.

I'd need to know more. 

Hi Gene - I just want you to keep up the good work. Love from your supporter, Nicole Mincey. I am not a bot


For the uninitiated, here is Nicole Mincey. 

That sounds like the old joke about mathematicians vs. engineers.

Tell it, please. 

This reminds me of an obituary I read recently about a woman who was a pioneer in some scientific field. She was lauded for making a seminal discovery, and I thought, shouldn't it have been a germinal discovery?

Excellent point. 

Yeah, no, no, he can't. I generally poop every 3-4 days (low metabolism, thyroid issues). I also have what it took me years to figure out is a female hormone twist: I am totally constipated the week before my period, sometimes for almost the entire week; and then as soon as my period starts, I go 3-4 times in one day, with each getting looser until it is almost diarrhea. And I can tell you from decades of experience, I cannot change that pattern by changing my diet. We're talking prunes, oat bran, bread/no bread, extra liquid, salads/veggies, you name it -- I can make things worse if I go full Atkins, but I can never increase the frequency past my baseline of 1-2x per week. This is The Way I Am.

Aren't you glad this is an anonymous forum, Eileen V.  Fitzmaurice of Portland Oregon? 

I take the bus every day. There is definitely a snob factor at work. Many people look down on those who take the bus. we are seen as either low class or too poor to live near the Metro or too poor to be able to drive and then park near work.

I don't look down on people who take the bus, in any sense.  But I would always try to live in a place within walking distance of the Metro.  Taking a bus to get to the Metro every day would be hell for me. 

Hoover's mantra was "Prosperity is just around the corner," and in true let-them-eat-cake style he and Lou "dressed" for dinner at the White House every night. My grandfather always said "Boulder Dam," because he claimed Hoover was a lousy engineer. And best of all, he named one of his particularly beady-eyed hogs Herbert.

Also, "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage."  Huey Long, a true despot, went further: "Every man a king."

We're not hyper-ventilating about North Korea today.

Now, THAT, to me, was a real nothingburger.  It was a nothingburger with everything. 

is that they are disposable as soon as their talent wanes in the eyes of the owners. Kaepernick is out of a job because he talent does not outweigh their distaste for his views. If he had Tom Brady-like skills he'd be employed. On the flip side, he'd be on a team with his current skills if he hadn't spoken out. It the combination of tepid skills and speech that did him in.

Yes, and yes, he got screwed.  The Giants chose Geno Smith over Kaepernick for their backup QB.   I think their talents don't compare.  The Gents didn't want the hassle. 

Major difference: Reagan's words depended heavily on his (well-chosen) speechwriters. Obama had speechwriters, too, but he could turn a phrase, not just deliver someone else's. Of course, to do that, you need to have a deep understanding of issues.

And language. 

Two things: I'm going to start calling my son Johnny Three Sticks, so thanks for that. But also, I'm in Charlottesville, and I think what's bothering me most is the way people - locals in particular - are blaming the victims for the terrorism this past weekend. That it was the city council's fault for voting to remove the statue, or counterprotestrs' fault for blocking the street, or even showing up. We had a long, drawn out terrorist attack all weekend, mentally exhausting and terrifying, and yet this is the only kind of terror attack where the victims get blamed. It's driving me insane.

Hell, the president of the United States basically said that. 

Please send positive energy that Lilek's dog, missing since Friday, shows up soon.

I fear Scout is still gone.  Here is James's latest I could find.  It's good. 

Multiple births increase naturally with a woman's age. The ovaries think, "time's running out, gotta get rid of all these eggs!" and release more than one per month. Hang in there! You will get a lot of help via the news stories about your delivery, plus there are lots of support groups for parents of multiples.


Check out this in today's Post (you've got to read toward the end to get to her name, but it is quite appropo)

Yes, that is pretty good!

I miss the unique experience of getting a single giant shredded wheat biscuit for my morning cereal. It was like a giant sign that said "this food is for my butt health".

A brick!   It implied s---ing a brick! 

By the way, that is one of the greatest idioms ever.  S---ing a brick. 

I was trying to think of analogous statues that we haven't erected, and was surprised to find that there is, in fact, a statue honoring Benedict Arnold. Or his injured leg, at least, at the Saratoga National Historical Park, where he did fight valiantly for the US, before he turned. The statue was built in 1887.

Right.  The statue to his leg is regularly featured in books with titles like "weird places in america." 

I was happy to read that a Colorado Rockies pitcher has completed treatment for testicular cancer and returned to the game.

Those jokes were all made 25 years ago, when the same thing happened to John Kruk.  As I recall. 

Why aren't the leaders of the Confederacy considered the greatest traitors in the history of the country ? Benedict Arnold, after all, merely betrayed a revolutionary movement that was not completely popular among the citizens of the American colonies.

Well, I think they are.  I do so consider. 

Of course, we do have a Jefferson Davis Highway here in Virginia.   

Any thoughts on the eclipse next week? Do you plan to join the many millions of Americans traveling to the totality zone? Do you have a secret ancient prayer for Clear Skies?

I haven't even gotten glasses, and now I hear they're unavailable.  At least on Amazon. 

I'm a 43 year old woman and every vehicle I have owned was manual. I will need to replace a 13 year old vehicle soon and the two vehicles that make the most sense for my life are automatic. What do I do?

You get a manual.  Closest car to what you need. 

Imagine an alternate universe where everything is exactly the same, but there is no Twitter. Are Trump's approval ratings considerably higher?

He'd use Facebook.  I think he has persuaded himself that Twitter is his biggest friend. 

Good name for the tuxedo cat. But....I want to point out a missed humor opportunity. You could have named him Dave. Then, whenever you would visit the home of whomever eventually adopts them, you could say that you were going to Dave & Buster's.

One thing I did not note is that though their names were accidents, "Philip" and "Buster" taken together is a uniquely Washington political name.  

Thank you all.   We convene right here next week. 

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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.

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