Opinion: Trump didn't say 'schlonged' first. Does that make it OK?

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Good morning. I'm Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. There are only 366 more shopping days until Christmas. Here's a look back at the week in Opinion.
Do two "schlongs" make a right? Neal Conan doesn't think so, and he offhandedly employed the Yiddish slang in a political context years before Donald Trump kicked up another Twitter dust storm by saying that Hillary Clinton had been "schlonged" by Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries.


Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Dec. 21. (Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)


You could skip to the end of Conan's piece to the kicker, where he apologizes for providing Trump a "veneer of respectability for yet another in a disturbingly long series of nasty, hateful diatribes," but then you'd miss his tale of briefly being made infamous by the running mouth of the Republican presidential front runner. Conan writes:


On Tuesday morning while making coffee, I noticed the following tweet from @publicradionerd in my notifications feed: “does @NealConan know he's (in?)famous now?”
I did not know; I was totally unaware, but intrigued. As I waited for the water to boil, the tweet led me (circuitously) to a piece on Allen B West — a site I'd never heard of — which quoted a piece from the Daily Mail, which quoted Donald Trump as saying that Hillary Clinton had been “schlonged” in the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination.
The Allen B West piece went on to define the word as Yiddish slang for the male appendage and noted that, used as a verb, it translated roughly to “shafted.” Back to the Daily Mail, which, in a near-heroic feat of research, declared the word had been used exactly once before in a political context. By me.
The coffee still wasn't ready.
"During a March 30, 2011 broadcast of National Public Radio's 'Talk of the Nation' host Neal Conan reported the death of former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic Party's vice presidential nominee in 1984 on Walter Mondale's ticket. After playing an inspiring sound bite of Ferraro's acceptance speech at that year's Democratic National Convention, Conan noted to panelist Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post that the Mondale-Ferraro duo, ‘went on to get schlonged at the polls.'"
My mind's eye immediately summoned an image of my executive producer, Sue Goodwin, rolling her eyes in exasperation in the control room. Not that I have any memory of this particular moment, but that's what she always did whenever I used terms she regarded as vulgar. “Vivid!” I'd reply, in an argument I almost always lost.
Not that time, I guess.
I sipped my coffee, sent a tweet saying I was surprised that the good and upright folks in transcripts knew how to spell the word, and figured I had secured my place as the political footnote of the day.
Hoo-boy.
» Click here to read more.


The Times editorial board made a list of the year's augthy and nice, and guess where Trump landed? He's in the company of such notorieties as Volkswagen, Martin Shkreli and the killer of Cecil the lion — and he shares space with the San Bernardino police chief and Pope Francis. Read the editorial to see how Trump was both naughty and nice in 2015. L.A. Times
El Niño, once a harbinger of weather-caused destruction for California, is being welcomed as a potential savior for drought-starved California. It shouldn't be, says Mark Gold. Rather, given Southern California's limited capacity for capturing and using storm water, the El Niño of 2015-16 will probably go down in history not as a drought buster, but as a missed opportunity for California. L.A. Times
Ann Friedman isn't into "Star Wars," but she paid a hefty sum — $30 — to see it anyway. Why? Because in this era of fragmentation and social media immersion, the rush to see "The Force Awakens" is the closest thing many of us will come to experiencing a "true mass-cultural event." Plus, Friedman's friends in her social media network endorsed the film, so now of course seeing the movie is required. L.A. Times
Was Yosemite totally untrampled when John Muir found his way there in the late 19th century? No, and like the rest of California, it was heavily settled by nations that had existed there for generations before whites arrived during the Gold Rush and removed or exterminated the indigenous population, allowing the myth to take hold that the battle for the West was between business interests and conservationists like Muir who wanted to preserve the wilderness in its natural state. The real history is far bloodier, writes Daniel Duane. L.A. Times
Have you taken the government's advice on what you should eat? It might be why you're unhealthy. Jonah Goldberg weighs in on the battle over the official government dietary guidelines (eat more carbs? more fat? something else?) and says there's a broader lesson for science policymaking: "Even when everyone's intentions are good, politics can get in the way of science. Special interests work the refs, but the refs often have an agenda as well. Winners of policy fights hate to lose — or admit they're wrong. And people who shout about a settled consensus are often only shouting to drown out those who might disagree." L.A. Times
Have enough energy after your post-Christmas carb crash? Write me with your feedback: paul.thornton@latimes.com.



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