Chatological Humor (Feb. 5)

Feb 05, 2019

Today's poll on the presidential Democratic primary candidates.
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.

Good afternoon. It occurs to me this country is lacking in something vitally important to our national well-being.  I speak, of course, of an adequate Portmanteau name for the genre of individual best (but by no means solely) represented by Lindsey Graham, who has forfeited his backbone and other body parts in subservient obeisance to the revolting, pathetic malevolence currently serving as our president.   The word we need might  derive from one of the following;  Toady, lickspittle, suckup, flunky, puppet, or patsy, though there are obviously plenty of others.  Have at it.  I will declare a winner.

The opening nominees are Troady, Trickspittle, Trump Chump, Truckup, Yuuge Stooge, Orange-Noser, Trunky, Truppet, and Fatsy.  
I am open to nominees.
Meanwhile, here is my column from Sunday.  I direct your attention, specifically, to the poem at the end.    And yes, I, too was surprised (and delighted, and proud of my bosses) that I was allowed to do that without so much as a glare.
Please take the poll, the answers to which are surprisingly illuminating, so far.  We start at noon sharp.

I was just hoping you could pass along my deepest sympathy to Caitlin Gibson on her loss. I can not imagine what she and the other dog owners are going through, but my heart goes out to her and all of the rest. Also to the veterinarians who, in good faith, recommended this special food in the best interest of the dogs only to have this happen.

Yeah.  It's horrifying.  Many pet owners, me included, have gone to a Hills diet for a while at the recommendation of a vet.   Cait just told me she almost wishes she didn't know about this, and I totally understand.  A mistake like this makes owners feel (unjustifiably, but understandably) complicit in their pet's death.

Maggie, by the way, was a delightful, loving, complicated dog.

This election is grooved for the Democrat to win. So long as the Democrat exhibits just a modicum of restraint, he or she will beat Trump. So the question isn't who will beat him, but who do I want to govern after him, and look good doing so. I pick Hickenlooper. History has shown governors make for better presidents; in the wake of the Trump presidency, a governor will look genius. Plus, Hickenlooper is an anagram for Hickenlooper.

Your last reason is the best, though I suspect you stole it from Dave Barry's year in review.

I don't think a woman would be the best best if defeating Individual #1 is the sole criterion. I think a woman would be best, and there are several good ones around. But we need to win back democracy and crawl out of this cultural hole before we can advance. In other words, I think we've been dragged down so much that a woman on the ballet would be hard to elect, thanks to the amplification of unreasonable voices we have today. Discuss.

I disagree.  I think this will be an election won by a triumph of the left and left-center, and the left and left-center will be positively disposed toward a woman.   I would.

I'm an independent, but I'd change my registration to Dem to vote for Hick. He's the kind of pro-business Democrat (sensible on taxes and spending, and liberal on social issues) the country needs. As an aside: I know it has been buried under the avalanche of Il Douche douchiness, but is there anyone else out there who thinks that the enormous deficit, and the gargantuan federal debt, is a pressing problem that is getting too little coverage? Trump must be defeated, of course, if he runs, but am I the only voter who is afeared that it will be by a tax-and-spender who will push us even faster toward insolvency?

There seem to be others.  Thirty percent of those polled say their main goal is something other than beating Trump.  I'd love to hear from them, and what their main goals are.

Steve Bannon and company have executed a great strategy by using the left's intolerance of racism to crate disunity and chaos. Northam absolutely deserves opprobrium, and he must not only apologize, but demonstrate his understanding of the hurt that his choices have caused. That demonstration need not include resignation. If Northam's offense is limited to a picture, nickname, and/or tasteless party costume from 30 years ago, and if his words and actions while in public office have demonstrated understanding of the legacy of racism in this country, then calling upon him to resign does little good. Further, if Northam's actions while in public office have demonstrated that he is a different person from the Ralph Northam of the mid 1980s, and critics refuse to support for or vote for Democrats if Northam does not resign, then the zealots have done Bannon's work. If other evidence of racism in Northam's past is uncovered, then all the above is moot, and he has to resign.

I think this is well-reasoned.  I'm not sure I disagree!

Lotta ifs, up there, but if they align, you have a point.

To be honest, I’ve assumed until recently that he was smart and just playing to his base. That he understood the impact of his actions and words, but just didn’t care. But his recent interview about “fake news” leads me to believe he may be a total moron. Which leads to my current question: Is him being dumb worse than him being smart and just not caring? I’m sincerely torn about which option is worse.

I don't think intelligence is as important for a president as is temperament.   Famously, Oliver Wendell Holmes said FDR had a "second-class intellect but a first-class temperament," and I think that was probably right, and it worked out splendidly.

Alas, Trump has a third-class intellect and a fourth-class temperament.

Can we rename the Cleveland baseball team the Goose Coonmen, because it's baffling and totally not racist?

Good idea.  I have always felt the New York Mets should be renamed the New York Jews.

Once you're done with your book (which features my sixteenth birthday!), I hope the Post will let you do some long form writing. I reread the Chasing Rabbits article you linked to, and realized how much I miss it.

Thanks.  The book is done.  We are now copyediting and lawyering and I'll be back writing soon.

If you are a liberal Democratic congressperson, is it better to boycott the SOTU (as a few have indicated) or to be present, sitting in stony silence while the Prevaricator-in-Chief spins his usual web of lies? For that matter, what expressions will pass on Speaker Pelosi's face as she sits directly in back of him?

Better to be there and sit on your hands.  To not show is to disrespect the presidency as well as the president, and that's not good.  Pelosi will look as though she is swallowing one of those disgusting gherkin-sweet-pickles.

Did y'all vote for a person you want to see in office, or a person you think will lose if they get the D nom? Not judging, honestly curious bc as a liberal I can see weighing both options if the tables were turned in this scenario.

Yes, I was going to ask this, too.  It might explain the votes for Castro.

I listened to the sample of Dylan's singing you posted last week. That's a decent voice. He's one of the greatest lyricists of all time, but not a great singer.

I actually consider him a great singer!  For MUCH of his career, anyway.

Alex Petri got this question in her chat this AM. How would YOU have handled the situation? / Q: weird non encounter so this happened. former neighbor of mine entered a restuarnat - did not notice me and proceeded to loudly tell his friend how long he has been cheating on his wife (a friend of mine). I couldn't leave w/o him seeing me so I just waited him out...... would you have made your presence known? / A: Alexandra Petri Absolutely not! I would have done EXACTLY as you did! I have an honorary degree in Never Confronting People In Public In Situations Just Like This, Even When This Means Standing In A Restroom For An Hour. The question is, what are you going to do with this information? Can we help? Also, wow. Just wow to this entire interaction. — Feb 05, 2019 11:09 AM

Amazing.  I agree with Alex's answer.  The key isssue is what to do now.  And I am not sure.   Thoughts?

I found it profound and compelling. However, there seems to be two levels of criticism, one I understand and one I just don't. The first regards the money spent for the ad, that the Post would have been better off spending that money on more reporters and editors. Got it. I don't necessarily agree but I understand the argument. The second regards the Post's self-aggrandizement, when, as the critics see it, the Post works against democracy, not in support of it. The comments on the YouTube page hosting the ad are full of hatred. Against what? Reporters dying to make us better informed? I'm baffled by the this response, and while I hate to attach hatred of the press to Trump, it's hard for me to understand it otherwise.

You are preaching to the choir, obviously.

...would that be an INaptonym?

Correct.  A term already coined and used.

Please 'splain!

I think that I shall Never see a funny joke From Gene Weingarten

Well done.

Gene, Monday's New Orleans Times-Picayune had an interesting front page. Below the masthead, the entire page was blank, except for the words, "Super Bowl? What Super Bowl?" Inside the paper was coverage of the huge French Quarter party New Orleanians threw themselves. As a non-journalist, I loved it. I'm interested in your expert opinion. Was it a good front page?

Yes.  I am very much in favor of newspapers with voice and texture.  

My brother has been a RumpTay supporter from the beginning. He relishes the fact that he can get me riled up over it. I love my brother but I just don't like him right now. I haven't spoken to him in months because I just get upset. I abhor everything RumpTay stands for. I need to know how I can get over my feelings about my brother. I don't like the way I feel but I just can't tolerate him right now and maybe won't be able to until this azz is out of the white house. Help!

If this helps:  RumpTay is pretty good.

As big a horse's patoot as Donald Trump is he can still win if all of his base votes for him and there is a big enough third party presence to siphon off Democratic votes from their nominee. Several of those in this poll are unelectable because of their extreme positions, such as Bernie Sanders, or because of their abrasiveness (Kamala Harris) or because nobody knows who they are (Pete Buttegieg, Julian Castro, Hickenlooper outside of a few states). Biden's too old, Beto's too young. I would vote for any of the next highest vote getters after Kamala - Brown, Warren, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, or Booker, in that order.

This aligns pretty well with my thinking!   Brown-Klobuchar-Booker.   I worry Warren is too polarizing.  THIS IS ALL ABOUT BEATING TRUMP.

Why do we fancy we can predict who can beat Trump? None of us thought he'd be here in the first place, which should be humbling. We should be focused on policy. The Pew Foundation has found that income inequality has widened significantly over the past few decades. It's not just about beating Trump - it's about avoiding any more Trumps. And we aren't going to do that unless we have policies in place to address the huge gap between the haves and the have nots. That's not where Kamala Harris is coming from. She's a pretty classic corporatist Democrat.


I wonder if the Trump-loving white supremacists are mightily gugged over Julian Edelman winning the Super Bowl MVP.

Julian Edelman is a perfect compromise.  He is half Jewish, but wasn't raised Jewish.  He's deniably not Jewish.  I don't think he considers himself Jewish, which is the only operative factor.  BUT the Jerusalem Post proudly proclaimed him Jewish.

Have you ever heard the term "a 212" for a certain stereotype, a loud brassy woman who also, well, seems Jewish? My New Jersey sister-in-law recently told me about that term just after I described having to sit next to such a person in a class.

Never heard of it, but you remind me of my favorite accidental cross-language aptonym, a very rare event.

In Yiddish, the term "balabusta" means a bossy woman.  It has no derivation in common with "ballbuster," but wow.

I lean conservative - or I did before the definition of the word shifted around 2010 - and my primary objective is defeating Trump. I was a Never-Trump before the election. When we won, I decided to keep an open mind and hope that I was wrong. I wasn't. If anything, he's worse than I thought.

He's about what I expected.

I'm fairly conservative, and I voted for the South Bend mayor -- not because he would lose, but because the other choices (Hickenlooper possibly aside) are hard-left loons (like Sanders) and/or embarrassments (like Fauxcahontas Warren). There are probably some Dems out there who would be competent candidates, but they aren't on this list.

Really?  None?   Brown seems sorta left-center, no?

I did not steal it! However, I did read Dave Barry's end-of-year review (because who wouldn't?), do not remember reading it, but allow that the deep recesses of mind might have referenced it. Either way, thanks for the comparison!

In his year end review, Dave point out that "David Pecker" anagrams to "David Pecker."   But I believe you.

I picked Sherrod Brown because he seems the most likely to get votes from what my husband and I call the great unwashed, namely the lower class white males whom the Democrats seem to have lost touch with. Some like Sanders are just too old (speaking as someone old enough to be on Medicare). And if the Dems lost lots of voters by having a black male President and then nominating a woman (horrors!) I don't think a black woman is going to help them. (btw I identify as quite liberal and voted for Hillary in the primary in 2008 even.) I do have a soft spot for Garcetti though- anyone who gets more librarians in schools has my vote (librarian here). And I've always had a thing for Italians (husband is half Italian and also dated a couple of Italian ancestry guys).


Gene, I have the perfect nickname for Trump: Effingliar. Trump is an ignoramus, a blowhard, a bully, and a lowlife, but lying is what truly defines him. “Effingliar” has just the right blend of anger and contempt he deserves. It’s for us, too, as a way of defending ourselves against his daily barrage of lies. Haven’t most of us found ourselves muttering “What a[n] [effing] liar!” on a daily basis over the past two years? By calling him Effingliar, we can call him out on his lies every time we refer to him.

A little too chewy.   Also, I read it as  Ef-ING-lee-are.

Is it a plus or minus for Sherrod Brown that he's from Ohio, while the other Senators in the hunt are from reliably Democratic states?

Clearly a plus.   Also, I LOVE his unruly hair.   Also, I like and respect his wife a lot. 

Just because we lean conservative doesn't mean we don't loathe the Cheeto-in-Chief.


I'm kind of surprised by the Post's decision to prominently feature a headline on their website that said that Virginia's Lieutenant Governor denied assault charges, when the Post itself had already looked into them and found them to be not well-enough corroborated to print. I'm torn about whether you should report on it now, considering what's happening with Northam, but I'm sure that you shouldn't have blared that he denies the accusation in a huge headline, while only noting the serious problem with the story halfway through the article. Seems shamefully clickbait-motivated.

Which serious problem?

My question is, are YOU joking when you claim he has a great voice and his poetry is terrific? Tell me seriously you could read the lyrics of "Just Like a Woman" without laughing, vomiting, or both.

I can.

I guess this really sucks, eh?

I just can’t fit
Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit
But when we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don’t let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl

I am in the thirty percent that does not see defeating the incumbent as the most important thing. Far more important is finding someone with a vision of how to make the country better, the skills to move us there, and the charisma to sell it. Finding someone with all three is, ideally, what the primary process should do.

Okay!  You are a visionary.   I have blinders on.

I think you like it because you are culturally acclimated (maybe even comforted) by that nasally, rasping sound. Did I tiptoe around religion sufficiently?

Not religion.  Ethnicity.  But maybe.

He's the pick. He gets Ohio for the Dems, and as we all know, the GOP doesn't win the White House if they don't win Ohio. If beating Trump is the main goal, this is the solution.

I am with you.

To beat Trump, Dems will need to win states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc etc. While I like Harris, I fear she will be labeled as a liberal democrat who wants to turn the country into California. While this may seem absurd upon examination of her record and career, many people in the middle of the country (and most people for that matter) just don't intellectualize things deeply. They go on emotion. I grew up in Maryland, but resided in Minnesota and now Texas. Northeast and west coast will go for Dems no matter what. We need someone who can bring the middle of the country along. A Klobuchar/Brown ticket (is Brown's voice disqualifying for president on its own?) might do the trick. Having lived in the "middle" of the country, I just don't think coastal people understand the level of knee jerk negative reaction people here have towards "coastal elites" (deny all you want, but we can't beat Trump if we don't accept the realities).

A reasonable point.

My fantasy is to imagine Kamala Harris on a stage debating with the Dotard and Howard Schultz.

The Dotard !

I like it.

Thanks very much, I am now crying at my desk at work...

She appears to have been killed by dog food.  It's just horrifying.


I like it.

We'd lose a Democratic vote in the Senate.

Good point.

is my entry.

Also good.

The "serious problem" is actually Fairfax's; he claimed that the Post's initial investigation into the story exonerated him. Which prompted Marty Baron to issue a statement saying "no, it didn't." There were two people in a hotel room who disagree about what happened and nobody can corroborate either side. Which is why the Post didn't publish anything when the woman brought the story to them in the first place. It's published now because other sources are reporting on it, and because Fairfax told a lie about why the Post didn't publish.

Exactly.  Also, she seems to be a believable person. 

For that combo, you really can't beat "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall." Not just a good voice, but a dramatic voice, that can show amazing emotional range.


Did you see that Trump called Nepal "nipple" and Bhutan "button" during intel briefings? And thought they were part of India?

Nothing surprises me.  Remember when he invented Nambia?  He is an ignoramus.

Aren't you the guy who can't taste tomatoes and blames the tomatoes?

Aren't you the guy who has no idea whatsoever that -- inarguably --  all the taste has been bred out of commercial sold tomatoes?

if you were the president of journalistan, who would be in your cabinet?

I would abdicate and appoint David Von Drehle as my successor.   He'd be better at it than I am.   My only demand would be that Tom the Butcher not be appointed to anything.

...who tried to explain why a lot of us voted for Trump, following up on a couple of the responses. I appreciate the person who mentioned nominating conservative judges as another rationale, which in my haste I forgot to mention. Another person asked, in all caps (lighten up, Francis) if I was ashamed yet. My answer: we should *all* be ashamed that the ’16 choice was between (1) a hypocritical, phony grifter from New York with a long history of failures and a reputation for oppressing women who claim sexual harassment and (2) Donald F’in Trump.

Okay, that's funny.   But absurd.    Whatever the hell you might think of Hillary Clinton, her career has been deeply admirable.  You are a bitter zealot.  And you hurt the country.

I absolutely agree with the middle of the country's fear and distrust of coastal elites. It's not new. I was living temporarily in Boston in the winter/spring of 2004. Everyone I knew (and l definitely lean left) was certain that John Kerry would sweep the election. I told them there was no chance, and they just wouldn't accept that. I live in Minnesota now. I like Amy Klobuchar a lot; she is revered here, and I thought her performance during the Kavanaugh hearing was exemplary. But I'd rather see her in the VP slot than the top of the ticket.

Noted.   I like her, too.

If she is close friends with the wife, the overhearer should probably tell the husband that he has a week to tell the wife, or the overhearer will. Be prepared to lose the friendship, though. My mom was in a similar position and the wife flipped out at HER.

I am leaning toward her saying nothing. 

The only reason I am hesitating about previous is that he was so disgustingly public and vocal about it.  

Wow. Way to make me cry. Thank you.

We try to oblige.

Just the same way Gore got Tennessee for the Dems!

Somewhat different.  Ohio is ALWAYS a nail-biter.

Who wrote these words and why? "Woman Stabbed by the Sun Reciting Rocket Poems In The Geometrical Shapes Of The Musical Bat Spittle Fight Of The Sea." Hint: it has something to do with DC.

I see that it is the title of a Joan Miro painting. Specifically this one.  What is the DC connection?

Like every state, Washington has two statues in the US Capitol building. Currently they are two people visually no one knows about. There is a bill in the state legislature to replace them. If replaced, should the new statues be Bing Crosby, Jimi Hendrix, or some other Washingtonian?

And you are asking this, in this forum, why?

I voted for sherrod based on ability to defeat Trump + relative confidence in the low chance of the sort of scandal/crazyass racist conspiracy/etc coming out (I know former staffers of his well). It was 0% based on my liking him or thinking he's the best person listed for the job. Call me a cynic but it is what it is.

Yeah, I am sort of leaning toward him or Klobuchar for the same reason.   Maybe Booker, but I'd need to be sure there are no skeletons.

Gene, Do you believe, as I do, that, even if Democrats sweep away in upcoming elections, the country won't make any progress so long as Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, et al exist and continue to feed their faithful misinformation, so that roughly a third of US citizens will still believe that we should be, for example, detaining children and separating families? Also, I am wondering if there are any 1st amendment lawyers in this group that specialize in this question: Given our limited restrictions on speech/press freedom, is it possible to hold Fox/Breitbart etc, accountable by charging them with fraud because they are profiting by publicizing distortions or outright untruths? Surely we have reached a point where it is clear "let the buyer beware" doesn't work when it comes to media consumption. I'm aware of the negative potential consequences, but I cannot believe we are powerless to prevent it.

You are asking a journalist to support a law or lawsuit controlling what journalists can say, and defining what is true and what is not.  No. 

Sorry, but this is a dumb poll. I didn't even bother to answer it. It's so early, and there are so many possible Democratic candidates, that picking one today is like forecasting the temperature, humidity and sky condition for 4:37 p.m. Eastern on a date two years hence. It's all going to shake out eventually; to me what is important is that 1) No liberal runs as a third-party candidate (I'm looking at you, Howard Schultz), and 2) All Democrats get behind whichever candidate ends up getting the nomination. Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good could get us four more years of Individual-1 -- or four years of Mike Pence.

Well, there was a reason I did that poll.  Looking to gauge very early biases and inclinations.   I was shocked that Ms. Harris has such overwhelming support!   And that Booker's was so comparatively thin.  And that Bernie's was almost nonexistent.  I actually think there is something of value in these very early results.

What were the discussions like among the muckety-mucks in approving your Sunday column?

Nothing!  Didn't hear a word.  I expected a fight and got crickets.  It was exciting.

Two things: 1 - Only focusing on beating Trump means that you could end up with someone equally bad, but in a different way: 2 - As shallow as it is, most people vote on the personality of the candidate, not on the issues. Trump, for all his faults, has more personality than Hillary. The Dems need to nominate someone who more personality than Trump.

There is no one equally bad.  No one. 

Gene, I picked Elizabeth Warren from your list but I really wanted to say "other," specifically an "ALL AMERICAN CELEBRITY" along the lines of Tom Hanks or Mark Hamill or Oprah Winfrey. Seriously -- I want whoever can win against Trump and I really think it has to be someone who will bring out the moderate not-always-motivated-voter. I fail to see how anyone could beat Tom Hanks.

I fear we would just learn something horrible about Tom Hanks.

The sad thing about millennials and phone calls? Mine hates to call people, always has and loves to be able to text. But she didn't get to see a friend when back in NYC because friend didn't reply to her texts. Maybe if she'd called friend would have actually made time to see her. Easier to ghost people with texts.

One of the main lesson I try to instill in young reporters is:  NEVER EMAIL AN INTERVIEW.   It gives the source a chance to consider, reconsider, re-frame, consult others, pontificate, etc.    Same with texting.   Phone is second best.  Face to face is best.

I remember seeing the actress Kirstie Alley interviewed years ago, and she was describing the night in the early '80s her parents were in a terrible car accident caused by a drunk driver. They were on their way to a Halloween party and Kirstie's sister told her they they had been dressed as the odd couple. Kirstie said "Huh? Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon?" And her sister said, "No, a black girl and a Ku Klux Klan member." They both burst out laughing and Kirstie said that she remembered it as an example of her parent's wonderful sense of humor. So... maybe in the early 80s the "odd couple" was floating around as a costume idea and was only meant as an absurd example of the last people who would ever get together, and the Klan might have seemed like a relic from an earlier era that would never recur. So, I could believe that Northam may not have been hostile to black people when he put that picture in his yearbook-- he may have just been someone who didn't know any black people and was trying to be funny without thinking about who he might be hurting. However, he was from southern Virginia, where one could hardly believe racism was a thing of the past (Kirstie's parents were from Kansas, where racism and discrimination was more covert), so he should have known better. By the way, I disagree with what you argued last week about the MAGA hats-- I do think they stand for something negative (supporting a person who defends white supremacists, among other things) and that we should note that when we see people who wear them-- even if it's only to note that those people were easy targets for a con artist, probably because they also feel marginalized.

Interesting story.

I react viscerally against MAGA hats. They turn my stomach.  But I think you also have to see them as political paraphernalia -- support for a candidate. 

I think if you want to "get" the appeal of Bob Dylan, you should watch the end of the Cohen Brothers' film "Inside Llewyn Davis," that follows a struggling folk singer in 60s NYC. In the final scene after Davis (the character) sings one of his own songs, with a good, even powerful voice, Dylan takes the stage and blows the entire room out with his voice (singing Fare Thee Well). I've been a Dylan fan all my life, and the scene was just a revelation in how he encompasses everything the other characters were trying to do and couldn't in their folk music. Dylan's voice may not be "good-good" but it's a force of nature and beautiful in its own way.

Check out this amazing video!  Competing, Dylan and Donovan.   Donovan has a beautiful voice.  Look what happens.

She should tell her friend the story but not say it was her friend's husband... as a way to broach the issue.

That's weird and seems fraught with danger.

What did you do with the crickets?

Noooooo! Haven't we learned our lesson. *ONE* of the problems with Trump is his complete ignorance of our political process and laws. Electing someone with NO political or military experience, no matter how reasonable they seem, no matter what kind of name recognition they can pull, is a bad idea.

I hope to hell we have learnt that.

This seems like a thing to ask you about rather than Dr.Google or an actual doctor... In the last week, I've noticed several foods/drinks that have no garlic tasting highly of garlic. Today I realized that what they have in common is being citrus (twice w grapefruit juice that I squeezed fresh from separate fruits, a sweet iced lemon bun, and a wrapped hard lemon candy). Is this a sign I'm about to die? A weird coincidence or related to citrus growing near garlic or having a similar chemical? I really like garlic but not as a glass of juice or with icing so it would be great to fix this. Old Bay & dark chocolate still taste delicious (separately), so I know my taste buds are still working. Unlike yours.

This, I never hoid. 


Gene, last week I told you about the safety feature on our new 2019 Hyundai SUV: if you open the back door (e.g., to put a child in a safety seat) and then drive away, upon arriving at your destination and turning off the engine a warning message flashes on the speedometer to "CHECK REAR SEATS." But as we've familiarized ourselves with the car, we've discovered there's much more to it than that. There are motion detectors above the rear doors. As summarized by Consumer Reports: "The second stage of Hyundai’s system is designed to provide an extra layer of protection. If the vehicle is locked and the ultrasonic sensor detects movement in the rear seat, the horn will honk on and off for approximately 25 seconds. If the alert is not disabled by unlocking the vehicle and opening the rear door, and the sensor detects movement again, the horn will sound for another 25 seconds. This sequence will be performed up to eight times .... The system also can be configured to send a text message or an email to the owner via Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics when the second alert is triggered." I suggest that this be known as the Weingarten Warning System.

This almost brought tears to my eyes.  That second feature -- which you didn't include in your post to the last chat -- is amazing.

Gene, ignoring wanting to run for office, could you ever run for office, even dog-catcher ? Does everyone have a skeleton or two in their closet, incriminating pictures etc, that would disqualify them for office ?

I could not run.

I have skeletons, but they are not exactly in the closet.  I have written about them, or most of them.  I just don't think shooting heroin, however long ago, is something the American public is likely to overlook.  I've driven drunk, and written about it.  So, no.   Also, I am a jerk with highly unpopular opinions on many topics.  So, no.  

With the advent of real time fact checking, wouldn't it be cool to have a bell rung for each lie spun during the State of the Union address? Maybe a handbell choir stationed behind the Speaker and VP?

Any of the networks could do it in real time.  Hire The Post's fact checker, Glenn Kessler, to man the bell.

None of these candidates sets my hair on fire, but I swear to god I will quit my job to work full-time for the dem nominee no matter who it is. Oh, Howard Shultz became a dem and somehow won the nomination? Fine, I love him now. Team Howard. Fine.


So, our Governor admits to wearing black face to do a moonwalk (but he only put a little shoe polish on because it's so hard to get off -- how exactly did he know that if it was his first time doing it?) and has those pictures in his yearbook. Since 1984, however, no other similar outrageous behavior. Can a leopard change his spots? And, the Lt. Governor has been accused of sexual assault (the same claim that was investigated by the WP months ago). I honestly don't know who to believe. So, what's best for Virginia? The guy who can moonwalk and admits to overtly racist behavior or the guy who now has a sexual assault claim hanging over his head?

We have to watch what happens in the next few days.

There are equally bad people, but they are off running other countries like Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and the Phillipines.

Yes, true.

And in a small town, too (the OP followed up with this info). So the wife might very well already know.


After careful consideration, I believe I'd go with OrangeNoser. I wish you could squeeze in something about it being treasonous, though. As for Dylan's voice, "Hurricane" ain't bad!

Or Lily, Rosemary.  Or a whole bunch of songs.

"The Post has an in-house robot reporter called Heliograf."

I had no idea of this!

exactly what Woodward said when I heard him give a talk about his new book "Fear"

I am glad to see Bob agrees with me.  He worships me, you know. 

I don't trust a thing she says (not even "and" or "the," to quote Mary McCarthy re Lillian Hellman). Why? Because she's a die-hard Scientologist.

I have been watching old "Forensic Files" episodes and really like them except for the appalling Scientology ads.

From Wikipedia (so consider the source...): Edelman's father is Jewish, and his mother is not.[8][9] During an NFL Network interview in December 2013, Edelman stated that he identifies as Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah; he has become "more attuned to the religion and history. FWIW.


You know, I think he's changed his tune on this, but good to know.   To orthodox Jews, of course, he is not Jewish, since it's a matrilinear thing.   Molly is technically not Jewish.

Drink a shot every time Trump makes sense during the SOTU.

I am still trying to decide whether to watch it.

Trump's been a public figure for 40 years. He's always been a jerk, but there are videos and recordings of him from the '80s and '90s in which he is articulate, clever, sometimes self-deprecating, knowledgable, and uses a broad vocabulary in complex sentences. Put next to his interviews and speeches from the last couple years, there's clearly a huge difference in his speech and thinking. Do you think Trump is actually displaying symptoms of dementia, and if so how bad will it have to get before somebody -- the Cabinet, the Congress -- does something about it?

It may be more canny than that.  He may be playing to the cheap seats, his base.   Remember how he talked about "loving the undereducated"?

Is that pronounced "manti-siss" or "manti-seize"?

The second.

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

There are lots of them.   When My Ship Comes In ...

Gene, I am old enough to have lived through the time when Gov. Northam went to med school, and racist humor like this was considered coarse but okay. I haven't noticed that he's done much racist stuff since then, and I doubt he'd do it today (even if the yearbook would allow it). What's the calculus on this? Why do people think it's enough to outweigh his subsequent actions? As a humorist I figure you must be worried about this, i.e. will you someday be repudiated for some of your gender-based humor, etc.

Yeah, but with me it doesn't matter.   I'll never do anything important enough for the public to have to weigh in on my values.

You know, I am wondering if the Dem views on Northam are going to shift because of the possible ADDITIONAL political baggage with Fairfax?

... is Dan?

Nope, same shiksa mom and Jew dad.  It's a rule among the orthodox.  You are what your ma is. 

I had an affair and eventually my (now ex-) husband found out and we separated. After our separation, I was in a restaurant with a friend, and overhead the people at the next table. One was talking loudly about a friend of her husband's, whose wife had cheated on him, and then abandoned him and their children. Well, she was talking about me. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I did not let her see me when I left. I won't try to excuse my affair, but this woman knew NOTHING about our lives as she casually used them as fodder for her dinner conversation. I cried in the car on the way home.

Don't get me started. Self-righteousness is an illness.

And on that self-righteous note, we end. 

See you all 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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