Chatological Humor (July 16)

Jul 16, 2019

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.  

My Favorite Meathead has been blocked!  I no longer will see his tweets.  
It is a tiny and insignificant move, and he won't give a crap, but I have taken it for a simple reason:  In our national political debate, it is time to take sides, in earnest. 
My Favorite Meathead, as I have called him for years, is Tim Graham, the main voice behind Newsbusters, a right wing website that purports to keep tabs on the latest depredations of the wretched liberal media.  It is a whiny, pompous website that is comically empty of humor.  It does not grasp irony.  It speaks to its icky base effectively, but without texture or insight: Its articles will often be a simple statement of what the media has said, confident that its readers will understand the outrageousness of it, even when there is no outrageousness at all, for example: "Post columnist describes Lindsay Graham as a gutless Trumplicking sycophant." Reasonable people will just blink.  Yeah?  Your point? But they are not talking to reasonable people. 
But at times Newsbusters has been on target.  For a liberal journalist, it's a useful tool to keep us on our toes.   We do sometimes stray into advocacy in ways we should not.  Newsbusters recently ran a hilarious compendium of thunderous talking-head predictions of how horrible Trump's July 4 speech would be, and it turned out to be anodyne. 
In general, what Tim has to say is dumb, and it is almost always filled with flagrant Whataboutism, which is a go-to tool of the intellectually cornered.  When he is challenged on his arguments in ways that cannot be reasonably refuted, he scrambles to find allegedly parallel offenses on the left. A favorite theme is how much worse we would be under a Clinton presidency, or -- this is a biggie -- how liberals are in favor of killing babies.  We liberals love killing babies.  Tim is revulsed by abortion, any time, for any reason. He sees no shades of gray in the issue.     He is an unapologetic churcher, though he has no opinions on the church's decades-long sexual assault of children.   
But many years ago, after I wrote this article about a veterinarian who accidentally left her baby to die in a hot car, he wrote something personal to me that persuaded me that somewhere lurking in that thick head there was compassion.  I sensed an opportunity for connection across a vast political divide. 
Have you read Newsbusters denunciation of Donald Trump's horrifying racist remarks?   Me either.  Newsbusters has been silent.   Tim and his website are deeply invested in this terrible, destructive, vicious presidency.  They are culpable.  It is time to take sides, and they have staked out their side.  My side is: Nope. Not any more.   
I am going to leave you with this lead paragraph in Richard Cohen's op ed today. He says it better than I would have: 
"There are red states, blue states and, it is now clear, yellow states. The yellow states are represented in Congress by Republicans too cowardly to condemn a president who resorts to unabashed racism not only to stir his base but also to express his genuine bigotry. President Trump does not drink. Stark sober, he is drunk on hate."
Chat starts at noon sharp.  

I'm sure you're going to get tons of comments along this line. Many, many thanks for the intelligence about hitting space bar twice for a period. I did not know that. Call me an old futz, but my texts are always perfectly punctuated.

You are an old futz. 

This was the column. 

As the arbiter of pet etiquette and the authoritative source for all things poop, I am curious if you've done a column or research on whether or not scooping dog poop is always the best thing to do for the environment. I get that etiquette (and laws) demand removing your dog's business when he poops in someone's lawn. But given that most of the time, people are using a plastic bag that came from a newspaper or a single use plastic shopping bag, is that really the right thing to do? Microplastics in our environment are a real problem. If you don't scoop the poop, it ends up potentially running off into streams. If you do, you are adding plastic AND poop to a landfill, where it runs off into streams or into the ground water or shipped to someone else's landfill (more fossil fuels used for shipping). Is the second option REALLY better?

I have no opinion on this, but Manteuffel does because she gives more of a s--- than I do about recycling and related matters.  It is a weakness of mine.  Not hers. 

Rachel: "The nutrients in poop fertilize the soil; there is a natural system at work that we are subverting. You are completely right, chatter." 

What is the solution? 

"Go live on a farm.  Or take your dog's poop in your hand, bring it home, flush it down the toilet, then wash carefully.   If anyone knows better, I'd like to hear it."


So in 2016 Trump was by far the most disliked presidential candidate ever. He won anyway. In 2020 I expect his ratings will eclipse 2016, and he'll be even more disliked. And with an easy, slam-dunk election that a mildly sentient rock would win, the Dems appear quite capable of blowing it again. We're doomed, aren't we?

No.  I am, unaccountably, an optimist.  I think he will be thrown out of office with vast prejudice, as it were.   I think the country will give a signal that this must never happen again. 

What would you like to chat about? What have we missed this week? Or what is too obvious to pass up?

Interesting question. 

Many years ago, when I was editing Tony Kornheiser's column, and he would come to me, as it were, desperate for an idea, I would always suggest "orgasms."   He stopped asking after a while. 

Yesterday was my Dad’s funeral. He was 91, in rapid decline, and ready to go. He is truly in a better place. He lived a great life. During the final days, the angels from hospice came to do a regular check. They were assessing his cognitive state. He was kind of confused when they asked him what year it is. Then they asked, “Who is the President?” Without moving or opening his eyes he shouted, “We don’t have a legitimate president. There’s a man in the White House called Trump but he isn’t MY president.” Silence from the hospice angels. They turned to my sister who said, “Yep. He’s ok!” He was a good Democrat till the end.

Very sweet story.   I want to repeat something similar that I suspect I wrote about many years ago. 

Buzz Burger is a friend.   His father, Bob Burger, had started a company that gave lessons to businesspeople in how to write clearly and effectively. (Dave Barry was one of his first employees.)  One day in the 1980s, Bob had a serious heart attack.  He was in the hospital, near death, his family all around him.   And one of Buzz's brothers watched him labor to breathe, and said, "Dad, you don't need to do anything, Dad. Just lay there."   A moment passed, and then the man in the bed croaked "Just LIE there."   That was when everyone knew he'd be fine.  And he was. 

I just have to point out that Trump recently tweeted that he doesn't have a racist bone in his body.  

Jeff Tiedrich, who you should follow, responded:  "ok so you don't have a racist bone in your body, maybe it's all the fat that's racist"

Roy Cohn was a protégé of the late anti-Communist crusader Sen. Joe McCarthy, whose dangerous antics led to his eventual censure and demise, although not until after bringing harm to many Americans. Decades later Cohn mentored young Donald Trump. Now Trump is employing McCarthy's discredited game plan, calling "The Squad" Communists (including two who are more American in ancestry than he is). Even if history doesn't precisely repeat itself, it sure seems to be rhyming here.


I read this recent glowing article where the writer mentioned that the Stones were better than they have been in a decade. This reminds me of a quote from author Irvine Welsh (“Trainspotting”) who seemed somewhat jealous of a certain Nobel laureate “I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.” As a senior citizen who just got Medicare (prostate’s just fine, no senility or gibbering detected), don’t you think maybe it’s time we just let go and listen to something new?


If Trump used the N-word, do you think any Republicans would speak out against him? Is there anything he could do that would merit their criticism?

No.  They are yaller. 

So I know we've discussed here that men take their time in the bathroom -- using the time to read, etc. But what if the deed itself actually takes 10 minutes on a normal basis? Something is wrong internally, right? I mean, if you had to go as fast as possible (i.e. screaming baby needs you, late to an event, etc), it should take the same amount of time between men and women, no?

Honestly, I am not sure.   I think there is a nexus between how long it takes, and how much reading you want to do. 

consider me schooled. But I will likely still put them in, as the folks I usually text are about my age. And it just doesn't feel right to not to.

This seems wrong 

To avoid using one time plastic bags you can always use small paper sacks, or a washable small plastic pail and shovel. The problem with leaving the poop in the grass is that it supports the breeding of flies, which are a nuisance and depending upon circumstances can spread disease.

But doesn't poop disappear pretty quickly?

Hi Gene, My 18 year old punctuates her texts if they contain two sentences. So, there's hope that Gen Z understands that punctuation does have value. She's also never given me a hard time for punctuating texts. (Periods are boring?!?)

She secretly makes fun of you.  She has TOLD me that. 

Isn't the automatic-period-after-two-spaces feature on the I-Phone confirmation that it is proper to put two spaces after a period? I think so.

I do, too. 

I'm sorry, we might be out of the statute of limitations for this, but I'm still curious as to why you were so drugged up for the squishy-eyeball deal. I had both eyes done ('07 and '09), and while I couldn't have driven, I wasn't nearly doped enough to tell profane jokes that could cost me my employment. Was this because you don't handle the stress well, or is your doctor an over-prescriber?

Not sure!  I was not particularly stressed, though.  And I did appreciate the buzz. 

When you read a line like: "Stark sober, he is drunk on hate," is your admiration genuine, or are you secretly angry that you didn't think of it first?

Both.  Any writer will tell you that. 

Several years ago I was texting with my then teen-age daughter about something completely innocuous, probably arranging to pick her up or drop her off somewhere. Her "are u mad" Me "What?" Her "you sound mad" Me "What? How can I sound mad? We aren't even talking..." At that point I called her and was told I "sounded" mad because I had ended my "That's fine." text with a period. Only now do I find out that I was also being ominous...

Yeah, you suk.  

I am not a millennial. I think the argument that texting is more polite than calling because it allows you to respond at your leisure has some merit. But in novels I have read about modern dating couples, they always seem to expect prompt responses to texts. They get upset if an hour or two goes by without a response. I don't know if this applies to relationships other than dating (or if it applies to real life at all), but it makes me a bit skeptical about the rationale for texting.

I actually understand the text-versus-call argument as well.  Mostly because of Tom the Butcher. 

When I send in a column he doesn't like, he almost never texts.  He calls.   And I look at his name on my phone, and want to vomit.   It is almost physically difficult to answer the phone. 

It struck me how many of them require an observer, doing a double take. Do you remember liking a cartoon where there are no people in it? You have to put the joke out there and let the viewer discover it.

I am so glad you wrote this.  It made me remember "The Strange World of Mr. Mum," one of the greatest cartoon strips of all time.    Mr. Mum was the perpetual Observer. 

How do you feel about the Florida Man thing? In some ways it seems like the natural outgrowth of Hiaasen/Barry/etc. telling the rest of us about just how weird it gets, but it really does seem unfair that other states are able to hide just how weird their citizens and visitors get. (Question obviously prompted by Logan Hill's recent piece).

I actually think Florida is special, at least per capita.  Stuff happens there that happens nowhere else.  I swear it is why I was able to persuade Dave Barry to move there in the early 80s.  He was a humor writer.  He saw the potential. 

Hey, there is some sort of glitch in the chat software.  I am not seeing new questions, and not able to answer old ones.  I'd urge you all to hang on, but I cannot even communicate with my producer, so I am thinking we are scrood for the day. 

Apologies.  Let's meet again next week, and I will give you an extra half hour.  We can talk about orgasms! 

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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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