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Thu Nov 24, 2022, 08:50 AM

My nephew is back in DC for a short visit from Kyiv

I talked briefly with my brother in northen Virginia yesterday. His son is back for a few days to visit with his parents. He wants to sell his car and his apartment in Washington, because he has been told that his Ukraine station will not be a short-term thing. Just the place for a bright guy barely thirty, looks like a full-blooded Japanese (my brother's wife is), and learned to speak and write Arabic in college and grad school. Don't ask what he is doing in Kyiv. He not is allowed to say, so we don't ask. The only thing he was allowed to tell us is that the building he is living in has (so far) adequate heating--no longer a given in that city.

This is the guy who, as an 18 year old intern for Matt Angle's Lone Star Project (Texas Democrats)--he looked 12 at the time--got the scoop about Obama picking Joe Biden for his VP at 6:30 AM on the morning of the day Obama was to make the announcement at 4PM. He was at an indoor swiming pool in Virginia, near DC, very early in the morning. Only 2 other people were there: two women who worked at Joe Biden's Senate office. They only "saw" a quiet, obvioulsy Asian "kid" who didn't appear to understand any English, so they jabbered away in their excitement about their boss about to be nominated for Vice-President. My nephew didn't say a word, essentially fulfilling their expectations about what they thought he should be. An hour later, he was on the phone to me telling me the news. I wasn't allowed (back then) to say from where I got my information, but I did break the news to DU that morning. I got thoroughly trashed (angry "LINK????" demands) for saying I knew, but couldn't say how, so I must be full of shit, there were a dozen better and more likely choices, blah, blah, etc. etc. etc. Exactly ONE DU member came back on to apologize that afternoon. Civility during primary season, even at the end of it, was never DU's strong suit.

But anyway, the long and short of it is that he took 13 hours (!!!) to make it "by land" to the Polish border, almost another day to get to Kraków, from where he could get a plane to Frankfurt, and then on to Washington. He'll be there another week, maybe. He is hoping to make it here to Düsseldorf for a brief pre-Christmas visit, and maybe then he'll be able to let me know a thing or two that I'll be allowed to pass on. Let's hope that the heating in his building is still working. For that matter, let's hope that the building is still there.

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Reply My nephew is back in DC for a short visit from Kyiv (Original post)
DFW Nov 24 OP
panader0 Nov 24 #1
DFW Nov 24 #3
Hortensis Nov 24 #13
DFW Nov 24 #28
Hortensis Nov 25 #49
DFW Nov 25 #50
Hortensis Nov 25 #51
grantcart Nov 24 #17
DFW Nov 25 #46
womanofthehills Nov 24 #26
DFW Nov 24 #30
Kid Berwyn Nov 24 #2
DFW Nov 24 #4
KS Toronado Nov 24 #16
DFW Nov 24 #18
KS Toronado Nov 24 #27
DFW Nov 24 #29
highplainsdem Nov 24 #22
Srkdqltr Nov 24 #5
DFW Nov 24 #6
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 24 #7
jaxexpat Nov 24 #10
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 24 #11
jaxexpat Nov 24 #12
DFW Nov 24 #19
hatrack Nov 24 #42
Karadeniz Nov 24 #8
Tommy Carcetti Nov 24 #9
DFW Nov 25 #47
Prairie_Seagull Nov 24 #14
paleotn Nov 24 #15
DFW Nov 24 #23
Boomerproud Nov 24 #20
DFW Nov 24 #25
highplainsdem Nov 24 #21
DFW Nov 24 #24
Hekate Nov 24 #31
DFW Nov 24 #37
Deep State Witch Nov 24 #32
DFW Nov 24 #36
erronis Nov 24 #33
DFW Nov 24 #34
Hekate Nov 24 #38
Casandia Nov 24 #40
DFW Nov 25 #44
ancianita Nov 24 #35
elleng Nov 24 #39
krkaufman Nov 24 #41
RussBLib Nov 24 #43
DFW Nov 25 #45
DFW Nov 25 #48

Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:08 AM

1. I'm curious about the cost of a trip to Ukraine and the way to go.

Planes, trains and automobiles?

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Response to panader0 (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:18 AM

3. Assuming you can get documents and a visa (hell, I don't even know if they ask for one these days)

Last edited Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:59 AM - Edit history (2)

You best bet is to get to a major city in Poland. That's the easy part. I would have thought Warsaw (Warszawa) would be easiest, but I'm sure my nephew had his reasons for going via Kraków.

Once you're in Poland, what would seem the most obvious would be to travel to a major city in eastern Ploand (Białystok, maybe?), and then look for ground transportation to the border. There must be some kind of regular (or irregular) bus route from the major cities to the towns along the border. I have no clue how it goes from there, but someone there has to know. Forty-plus years of soclalism taught the people on both sides of that border that the only way to get anything done was to circumvent the rules. It's in their DNA by now.

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:07 AM

13. :) That last is how a Czech neighbor used to be. Very "irreverent"

when it came to permits and such.

Hope your nephew finds his time there very rewarding. Our constant comfort will be here for him when he returns.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #13)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:30 PM

28. He has been sent to "iffy" places before

He was working in the Kano-Abuja area of Nigeria for a while. This is the Hausa-speaking area, and the part where Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group, operated. He looked very out of place wearing a dashiki, but he obviously got along very well with the locals--a VERY wise thing to do when working in such an area. A diminutive kid with decidedly east Asian features looks very out of place alongside a bunch of tall Africans, but he obviously somehow managed to fit right in. Maybe being able to read out loud from the Koran in the original helps, who knows? I am not aware that Hausa and Arabic have any similarity at all, but then I don't speak either, so I am the last person to ask.

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Response to DFW (Reply #28)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 09:00 AM

49. Amazing person. No place for lightweights at all.

Easy to make a connection between speaking Arabic and Nigeria in general, if not that part, and also to believe someone who could do well there would be well equipped to handle Ukraine. All the best to him, DFW.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #49)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 10:04 AM

50. Thanks for that!

I don't think I've ever seen him display fear or apprehension about anything. Maybe if you've never been conditioned to experience fear about something or some situation, then you never do. I remember him telling me what part of Nigeria he was being sent to. I asked him, "isn't that the dangerous part?" He just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I guess."

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Response to DFW (Reply #50)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 10:24 AM

51. Maybe good at setting it aside? People whose work

tended to take them to dangerous places would have to have exceptionally good control. I can't imagine it.

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:58 AM

17. I read somewhere that to join the international brigade you

had to apply outside the country for approval before showing up

It's pretty amazing how professional the Ukrainians are under the circumstances.

Good luck to your nephew.

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Response to grantcart (Reply #17)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 02:07 AM

46. They are being understandably cautious.

It would be, unfortunately, easy for Putin to give some of his own agents phony papers from some NATO country, get them taken on by the International brigades, and then, in the field, machine-gunning all the guys in their unit, and then calmly walking back to the Russian lines, congratulated for a job well done.

The Ukrainians are perfectly justified in wanting to clear any non-Ukrainian volunteer before sending him to the front lines.

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:25 PM

26. A friend came back from Liev two weeks ago

She went to visit her son who is an aid worker. She took a plane to Krakow and took the train from Krakow to Liev. She visited other tourist areas by bus although she saw no other Americans other than her son’s friends.

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Response to womanofthehills (Reply #26)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:37 PM

30. For some reason Krakow seems to be a pivotal point

Maybe the Poles set it up that way in case Putin was contemplating taking action against Warsaw.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:14 AM

2. Godspeed and protect him!

The nation and planet need more like him.

Thanks for sharing the inside story, DFW.

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Response to Kid Berwyn (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:23 AM

4. I wish I HAD an inside story for you.

My brother is calm by nature, and his Japanese wife reveals nothing (they re a perfect match--I think their early intimacy was "I won't show you mine if you don't show me yours" ). My nephew, while perfectly at ease socially, reveals nothing, and is very charming and elusive about it. Ask him anything, and you won't even realize he told you nothing until five minutes later.

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Response to DFW (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:22 AM

16. "Ask him anything, and you won't even realize he told you nothing"

Sounds like a Politician in the making if he ever chooses that career path. Always amazes me how many
times a reporter gets a non-answer to their questions and they don't challenge the person.

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Response to KS Toronado (Reply #16)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:04 PM

18. A politician is something he will NEVER be

He is soft-spoken, very no BS, and is anything but a show-off. He is perfect for observation, being very unobtrusive, and has no problem with being in the background. If a reporter were to ask him anything, he would point to an airplane passing overhead, and have disappeared by the time the reporter looked up, looked back down, and asked "what airplane?"

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Response to DFW (Reply #18)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:27 PM

27. Sounds like a remarkable young man

who will leave footprints wherever he goes.
This is for him...

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Response to KS Toronado (Reply #27)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:35 PM

29. My impression that his main skill was:

Leave no footprints at all wherever he goes.

But if friendship with people who would usually not be our friends is a laudable goal (it has often been mine), then he appears to be quite the success. My parents must have passed down a few valuable genes, since both of my brother's sons, as well as both of our daughters, have turned out to our great satisfaction.

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Response to KS Toronado (Reply #16)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:13 PM

22. Being able to chat at length without giving anything personal or important away can be a

useful skill at times, and it sounds like it would be a mandatory one for people in DFW's nephew's profession. But most politicians aren't that good at it, even if they think they are, and they tend to get called on it when they circumvent questions. (Though often not soon enough, as we realize every maddening time a journalist or talk show host lets them off too easy.)

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:25 AM

5. How exciting and terrifying to be in the middle of all that. I wish him the best.

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Response to Srkdqltr (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:31 AM

6. Thanks! We think he can take care of himself, and that his organization will, too.

But in places like that, there never are any guarantees. We assume he'll be pulled out if it looks like there will be any imminent danger, but no one will be telling us if there is or if there isn't.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:29 AM

7. It's cool and sunny here today.

Not warm enough to dry clothes on the line. We'll get rain tomorrow and Sunday. Saturday looks nice.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:52 AM

10. Code, again.

Again with the code.

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Response to jaxexpat (Reply #10)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:55 AM

11. The tall man has a red moustache. NT

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #11)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:58 AM

12. And my personal favorite.....

the lamp on the post burns brightest on Tuesday.

Ok, I really just made that up.

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Response to jaxexpat (Reply #12)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:05 PM

19. That was obvious

Everyone knows that lamp posts burn brightest on Fridays.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:34 PM

42. The long sobbing of the violins of autumn . . .

. . . .wounds my heart with its monotonous languor.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:37 AM

8. Very thought provoking post... Thanks!!!

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:41 AM

9. Under normal circumstances it's an absolutely phenomenal city.

And even under these troubling circumstances I’m sure it’s just as beautiful.

Once Putin and his army have been sent packing for good, I expect Ukraine to become a major tourist destination thanks to all the attention it’s received.

It has a culture and history that matches France and Italy.

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Response to Tommy Carcetti (Reply #9)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 02:18 AM

47. I have heard that from many sources.

Putin probably won’t be around to see it happen, but one of the possible outcomes of this insane conflict might be that what he intended to be Russia’s large western province will instead turn into an eastern European Switzerland: skilled in turning its strategic location into a trading center, with citizens who speak the languages of all bordering countries, as well as German, English and French, good relations with both the USA and Israel, thus assuring up-to-date high tech, as well as establishing English language international universities, much as the Netherlands did with Maastricht or the Lebanese did in Beirut.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:17 AM

14. I use a treadmill daily and

in doing so I use a pad mounted to be seen from the walking position on the treadmill. I use virtual walking tours on the pad that allow you to walk along with the folks "filming" their personal walks within areas around the world. Of course i have virtually walked around cities within Ukraine. Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa and others.

A couple of observations about these cities I would make are 1. These cities are very cosmopolitan and every bit an equal to many one would see around Europe in general. Subjective, yes buy my observation anyway. 2 I don't know what if anything Statuary says about a culture but in my virtual walking I have noticed many very martial oriented statues within these cities. Majestic soldiers of some conflict with swords and shields and the ever present stern face. If this statuary says anything about the local culture, Russia better watch their shit. (I am sure they have figured this out by now)

Please have a thought today for these great people.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:17 AM

15. He's a born intel operator....

Listen and don't react in any way. It's harder than one might think. "Never mind me, I'm just the janitor, foreign tourist, whatever. Hell, I don't even speak the language." It's an art and a talent. I'm sure you're very proud of him. I'm proud of him and all our folks in foreign service!

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Response to paleotn (Reply #15)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:17 PM

23. It's an art

Before their Soviet masters were kicked out, I was meeting with an official of the Polish Central Bank in Warsaw once. We had never met, and it was my first visit to Poland, so I asked him what language he wanted to converse in, and offered him a choice of English, German, Russian and French, figuring he was most likely to know one of them. He chose Russian, I said fine, and off we went. About 45 minutes later, an assistant dropped to ask something, and the boss introduced us. The assistant, whose English was fine, immediately started in speaking English to me when he heard I was from the United States. The boss joined our conversation--in perfect English--adding a few comments.

I asked him, hey if your English is that good, why did you want to speak Russian all morning? He said, "oh I just wanted to hear of you could do it."

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:06 PM

20. He sounds like an extraordinary young man.

Please let the fates keep him safe.

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Response to Boomerproud (Reply #20)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:21 PM

25. Those are our sentiments exactly! n/t

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:07 PM

21. I'm glad he could make it home safely to be with his family. Kudos to him for the work he's

doing in Ukraine. May he stay safe and this war crime Putin is inflicting on that heautiful, brave country end very soon!

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Response to highplainsdem (Reply #21)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:20 PM

24. We think his people will look out for him

I've never seen him with a weapon, but that means nothing. I just hope he is never involved in a situation where he would need to use one.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:46 PM

31. You are never full of *it, and your links are always good. May he & all your multilingual, far-flung

… family have a good Thanksgiving and a safe and healthy New Year.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #31)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 02:21 PM

37. Mahalo!

At least we know he'll have a safe Thanksgiving, being home with my brother and his wife in Virginia. I hope he can find his way here before the end of the year. It sounds like it's more of a challenge to get from Kyiv to the Polish border than it is to get from Poland to Washington. At least, once in Kraków, he's only an hour's flight from Düsseldorf, and I can pick him up at the airport, and be here at the house inside of 20 minutes.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 12:59 PM

32. Blessings Upon Him

And his work. We don't need more "Name Redacted" stars on walls.

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Response to Deep State Witch (Reply #32)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 02:12 PM

36. Amen to THAT!!!!!!!!! n/t

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 01:19 PM

33. Great full post, again. And we apologize for sometimes being chumps and not owning up to our mistake

I try not to criticize other DUer's posts for lack of background info, but I have been known to. And I hope I circle back when the info is either made available or an explanation is given - I hope I remember to thank the poster.

You put more life stories in a post than most of us can scrape together with a years-worth of searching. Not to sound fawning but I always look forward to the initial read and the (mainly) thoughtful comments and responses by the rest of us. Do you have a book lined up?

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Response to erronis (Reply #33)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 02:08 PM

34. You are generous with your comments

I know people who make my life seem about exciting as that of a paramecium. It's all relative, and a few memories strung together here and there probably seem more exciting when condensed into a post. As for my day job, I'm sure most people would form a one-man union and go on strike for shorter hours. I painted myself into a corner with this gig. I made up my job as I went along, and have built a job security wall so high, that, while I seem to be irreplaceable, I also can't find anyone to take my place in case I want out. I will say, though, that even at age 70, I find it a cooler gig to be in a different country every day, speaking the language of every place I land in, than to be stuck in some office from 9 to 5. I would have died of boredom 20 years ago.

As for my comments, I appreciate the kind words, but I'm sure you've seen that there are plenty who think I'm all wet, too. No doubt, some of them are justified, where others are living proof that "get a life" is not enforceable in a court of law.

About that book. In fact, I DID write one about 10 years back (pure fiction--it's hard to imagine a Guatemalan assistant named Juanita Chang who learned Cantonese from her ex, pronounces English like Speedy Gonzalez, but writes it like a law review editor--besides, what the hell is Maa Shalats?). I did start another one, but I haven't had the time to finish it yet. California Peggy has a draft of the first third. At some point, I have to take two months off and finish it. The way things are going, I MAY find two months free sometime after my demise, but don't count on it (Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go).

The first one is (I think) still available on Amazon. Some on DU have read it. Panader0 has read it, as has California Peggy. I know Thom Hartmann has read it, because he talked about it on his show for a few minutes once (even gave it a glowing review, so you KNOW the man has taste ).

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Response to DFW (Reply #34)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 02:29 PM

38. I found Time Cellar on Amazon, but didn't know about any others

Good read,btw

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Response to DFW (Reply #34)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 10:47 PM

40. I am star struck! I absolutely loved Time Cellar!

I had no clue that you are M. E. Time Cellar was wonderful. In my opinion, your book was equal to Time and Again by Jack Finley. I love science fiction, especially with a time travel angle.

I look forward to reading your next book, and thanks for all your informative posts!

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Response to Casandia (Reply #40)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 01:32 AM

44. Uh oh, I have been outed! And you are very flattering.

Yes, I wrote The Time Cellar. Now, if I could only find the time to finish the next one!

It was always my intention to get the next one finished while I was still working, but it has been eight years now, and my schedule is still full. Maybe one of these years. Otherwise, I had better hope for an electrical storm here in the Rheinland, so I can get a time cellar of my own.

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Response to erronis (Reply #33)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 02:11 PM

35. Thank you for both stories. Also, what erronis said.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 09:21 PM

39. Civility during primary season, even at the end of it, was never DU's strong suit,

AT ALL.

Glad you and your family have made it.

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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:29 PM

41. ...

but I did break the news to DU that morning. I got thoroughly trashed (angry "LINK????" demands) for saying I knew, but couldn't say how, so I must be full of shit, there were a dozen better and more likely choices, blah, blah, etc. etc. etc. Exactly ONE DU member came back on to apologize that afternoon. Civility during primary season, even at the end of it, was never DU's strong suit.

But anyway…


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Response to DFW (Original post)

Thu Nov 24, 2022, 11:54 PM

43. I'm glad you're here

Please share when you can.

My nephew was living in DC several years as an assistant to a few Dem House members and eventually for Patty Murray (D-WA)as head assistant and speech writer. He would tell me some rather ugly stories about some of the idiotic Republicans in the House: heavy drinking, drugs, womanizing, but decided to give it up when his wife, who was working for the DoD as a liaison to Columbia and Venezuela, got pregnant. They decided to move back "home" to Minnesota to raise a family, but he still wants to get into politics some day. City Council in Minneapolis, then Mayor, then US House, then Senator, then....we'll see. He's an impressive guy. Speaks Russian too, but he is no Russian spy. I think.

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Response to RussBLib (Reply #43)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 01:52 AM

45. I know a couple of people who are originally from Minnesota.

Let me know if he gets serious about running for office. Maybe I can dig up a number or two for him to call.

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Response to RussBLib (Reply #43)

Fri Nov 25, 2022, 08:40 AM

48. P.S. by the way

In 1948, my grandmother was a big NYC fundraiser for the Senate campaign for the then-mayor of Minneapolis. She got to be good friends with him, as did her son, my father. Those friendships lasted a lifetime. His campaign for the Senate was successful, by the way, and he went on to become Vice-President, as did his young protégé twelve years later, so anything is possible! Minnesota Democrats have definitely made their mark in Washington. No reason why your nephew can't continue the tradition, right?

My paternal grandmother was quite a character in her own right. She was labor liason for Republican NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia for a while. He later sacked her for being more friendly with labor than with him!

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