Thursday, September 21, 2017

Comedy today

The natural disasters keep on coming, reminding us of Kurt Vonnegut's suggestion that the planet has identified humans as a disease and is activating its immune system to destroy us.  Earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes in the Caribbean, floods and drought-fed wildfires everywhere (even Greenland!), all to kill a few hundred of this pestilential species -- it seems inefficient, but the pace may pick up.  Factor in, for example, the Tutsi-Hutu conflict in Rwanda brought about by a shortage of arable land, or the Iraqis driven off their farms by drought, and you begin to see the dimensions of future catastrophe.  No wonder the credulous have scheduled their latest "Rapture" some forty-eight hours from now.  ("We must get a winner one day." -- Beyond the Fringe)

So we want to, need to laugh.  And the opportunities are so many.  Not the rueful laughter you try to voice when you read that Paul Manafort, about to be the first indicted Trumpanzee, is planning to do a bunk and may head for Kurdish Iraq.  Or the snort of glee that rises in your throat when you hear that the Republican National Committee has already spent $250,000 on just the Russia-related legal bills of Deadbeat Donnie.   Or the smile you're smiling now when I tell you that Sean Spicer's appearance at the Emmy show has not translated into an offer to be a well-paid liar even at Fox (which has enough) or CNN (which never seems to think it has enough).  Spicey has been hired as a "fellow" of the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard, which should strip the place of all credibility, assuming it has any.  No, we want to bust a gut, slap a thigh, and spew beverage all over our keyboards.  So...

Alabama is electing a senator to replace Jefferson Bedford Forrest Braxton Stonewall Blanche DuBois Sessions.  So what?  So the contenders are Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore and Luther "You Can't Make Up This Name" Strange.  Moore has the support of Donald Trump, while Steve Bannon has thrown the awesome power of Breitbart behind Strange.  Kind of like Der Sturmer endorsing Ernst Roehm over Hitler.  Can't wait.  Really, I'm tingling.

Tucker Carlson (the other Sean Hannity) interviewed a California Wiccan named Amanda Yates Garcia, who informed him that several of her co-religionists have been casting "binding spells" on Trump to prevent him from fucking up the country and/or blowing up a substantial portion of Asia.  "Is this legal?" Carlson demanded.  "Can you run around casting spells on...Are you allowed to cast spells on people?  Is there any kind of federal regulation on this?"  Yes.  Yes, there is.  It's the Constitution thingy which says "Congress shall make no law respecting...freedom of religion..."  It's just as legal as Franklin Graham praying for Trump to fuck up the country, or Pope Francis or Rev. William Barber praying for him to fall in a septic tank and drown.  (They probably don't.)  I think the point, Tucker, is that the prayers and the spells are equally futile.  Also, that the Fox audience thinks witches are scary and should be burned.  Do you?

After entertaining the United Nations with his comedy stylings on North Korea, socialism and sundry other issues, Trump met with African leaders and praised the economic health of their countries, which is enabling "many of my friends" to make fortunes there.  (If he's going to keep calling Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man," maybe they will call him "King Leopold.")  He named some of his favorites, including "Nambia," to all but universal merriment.  Nambia, Zambia, Gambia, who can keep them all straight even when reading off a script?  Meanwhile FPOTUS Melania spoke to a gathering of leader-wives and reiterated her opposition to cyber-bullying.  And there was much suppressing of laughter, for all had seen her husband's idea of twitter fun, especially the Hillary-golf ball gag.  And the Trump Train crashing into CNN, just like those ISIS and white-nationalist drivers in their SUVs.  But nobody laughed, for they could see by her dress that the poor woman is colorblind.

Those who follow the Fed will perhaps be interested in the rumor that Trump plans to fire its chair, Janet Yellen.  Yellen has no partisan views of which I am aware, and has presided over a steady improvement in the economy, but she is A Woman, and the only position for women in Trumpland is prone.  (Props to the original Black Panther Party.)  All right, not so funny.

I've written elsewhere about the need for comedians in these dark times, and over at Bill Moyers's place, Neal Gabler takes up the call.  Here's the money quote:  "You can't 'Jay Leno' Donald Trump without seeming as if you had lost your own moral bearings.  You need to destroy him.  It is the only decent thing to do.  And comics seem to be the only ones who can do it."  Read the whole thing:

Is this legal?  Can you say "You need to destroy him"?  Shouldn't Gabler and Moyers and all their readers be investigated by the Secret Service?  And put on a list?  And have "tapps" put on their phones?  And their children/grandchildren followed and harassed?  And...Yeah, calm down.  I'm almost certain he means "destroy" with laughter, as Obama did at that White House Correspondents dinner.  Nobody wants Trump to fall in a septic tank and drown.  Right?



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Talk Like a Pirate Day at the General Assembly

The Buttermilk Sky Organization is known for its willingness -- some would say pathetic eagerness -- to look for the silver lining.  So:

1.  Fewer security headaches for the NYPD, as President Xi of China, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia and Vladimir Putin all remembered they had to see the dentist/get a haircut/kill a snow leopard/anything but travel to the UN.

2.  No idiot tweets about the Emmys as Trump had to learn to pronounce grownup words like "sovereignty" before reading them off the TelePrompter.

3.  Nobody actually walked out.

But there is more than one way to talk like a pirate, and Captain LaTweet hit them all:  military bragging, childish name-calling, describing parts of the world "going to hell," abuse of Iran for abiding by the nuclear treaty negotiated by the hated Obama, and even a weird, semi-veiled threat to invade Venezuela.  Not since Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush "the devil" has there been a nuttier performance in that chamber.  Even Tillerson and Haley looked like they wanted to be somewhere else.  Americans may deserve this crap (although come on, almost three million more of us wanted Hillary), but the world does not.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Thanks for sharing

"The social media ramble ain't restful," Satchel Paige might have said, or tweeted, had he lived into this century.  No, but it's sometimes an awful lot of cheap fun.  It's Sunday, and that means it's time for Donnie Trump's Weekly Dump and Twitstorm.  His toilet text for today was a retweet from someone who glories in the name lana del fenty (probably an anagram, but I've never been good with those).  lana writes:  "Only true Americans can see that president Trump is making America great. He's the only person who can!  Haters are jealous of his success."  She/he concludes with a little American flag, which I can't reproduce, sorry.  Before too long, untrue Americans had dug up previous lanagrams, like "my room smells like pineapple and cum..." and "my pussy tastes like pepsi cola, my eyes are wide like cherry pies," suggesting that Donnie was a fan long before today.  The laughter of the haters was widespread and spasmodic, not unlike -- no, I won't go there.  I'll just say that the audience for bubblegum porn is surprisingly large and varied.

As the rest of the world waits to see what North Korea will try next, Donnie also decided to pass along a hilarious video of himself hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.  Whump!  Right in the head!  Down she goes!  It's funny.  Not as funny, perhaps, as Jemele Hill being brained, or Elizabeth Warren, or Lisa Murkowski, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, Meryl Streep, Angela Merkel, Rosie O'Donnell, BeyoncĂ©, Susan Collins, the Dixie Chicks, Heather Heyer's mother and all those other uppity bitches, but still.  The great Boris Blitt painted a New Yorker cover of Donnie smashing the White House windows with golf balls more than six months ago, which was not only remarkably prescient -- maybe it's not inherently "a dump" but is merely being used as one* -- but seems like grounds for a yuge plagiarism suit.

I just figured out what Ivanka does all day.  She's lana del fenty!

*When Bannon and Gorka were in residence, more of a Superfund site.      

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday, bloody Friday

I thought I was having a bad day.  But there's always someone worse off than yourself.

Eighteen Londoners who were probably going to work wound up at the hospital instead, after a poorly-made bomb went off in the Underground.  None of the injuries appears life-threatening, which is more than you can say for the American response:  "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.  These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard.  Must be proactive!"  Guess whose Twitter account that came from.  Hint:  Someone with access to British intelligence.  Whose national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, had to tell the press that "in the sights of Scotland Yard" doesn't mean what it appears to mean.  Who thinks "loser" is a crusher that will bring any terrorist to his knees.  Who went on, "The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!"  Who thinks "the internet" is something you switch on and off like a neon sign.  An idiot.  An idiot with free advice for a nation which has been dealing with terrorism since Guy Fawkes.

The family of Anthony Lamar Smith had a terrible day.  Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was being "ambiguous" when he said, "We're going to kill this motherfucker" and proceeded to do so.  He also planted a gun on Smith, unsuccessfully, after a three-mile car chase back in 2011.  "People say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment, or while in stressful situations," the judge soothed.  Not guilty of murder.  As I type, a stressful situation is developing, with protesters gathering in the streets of St. Louis.  If I were Judge Wilson, I would unambiguously leave town.

The people of the Virgin Islands are having another in a series of awful days, with little food, water or gas, homes destroyed and limited communication.  These are the islands ruled by Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States.  What's happening in Haiti and the Dominican Republic I don't even want to think about.  The Marriott people sent a ship to St. Thomas to ferry vacationers to Puerto Rico, where they could get flights home.  They refused to take anyone not registered at a Marriott hotel.  Maybe Trump is not the sleaziest hotelkeeper on earth.

Japan had a bad day yesterday, as another North Korean missile streaked through its airspace.  People were told to "shelter in place," which is never comforting, until the thing landed harmlessly in the Pacific.  This is no way to live.  Time for another round of "fire and fury" threats, which have been so effective in the past.

The National Football League is panicking!  Michael Moore has promised a boycott until some team hires Colin Kaepernick.  Not likely to make much of a dent in revenues, but another opportunity for Moore to call attention to himself.  I predict that by the first of October, at least one quarterback will be banged up and his team will sign Kaepernick, so let's all take a deep breath and relax.  If not, there's always the CFL -- they probably wouldn't care if he picked his nose during "Oh Canada."

Poor Donald is having another bad day.  Yesterday was good.  Yesterday he made Melania put on flats and accompany him to Naples and Fort Myers, where he basked in the love and made with the sandwiches.*  He even touched a dog.  "We're going to see some of the folks and make sure they're happy," he told reporters, because who needs a place to live when you've seen the USA hat up close?  But that was yesterday.  Today that May woman complained about his tweets, and Jeff Sessions (who is "an idiot") still won't resign, and people are burning their MAGA hats over his ever-changing positions on The Wall and the illegals, and Ann Coulter, author of In Trump We Trust, is calling for impeachment.  According to one intimate, it's finally dawning on him that "People really fucking hate me!"

Chuck Schumer gets it.  "He likes us," he was heard to say near a microphone.  That's it, really.  No policies, positions or politics, just...emotion.  Anyone who tells the world's oldest toddler that he's really smart and tough and good-looking is a high quality person and a friend -- Schumer, Putin, Arpaio, Flynn (pere et fils), Franklin Graham, Julian Assange, Ted Nugent, King Salman (who gave him a closetful of cool presents), David Duke, that guy with the "Blacks For Trump" sign.  They can have anything they want:  a pardon, some military hardware, a short-term debt ceiling, anti-LGBT rules, can I get you some beautiful chocolate cake?  Ryan and McConnell thought they were enacting a Republican agenda, but Donald couldn't care less.  No cake for them.  They won't get rid of Mueller or stop all the investigations.  They are bad.

We are at the mercy of a mean widdle boy.  That's a bloody Friday, every day.

*Who the hell wears a jacket in Florida?  People are dying from the heat and he's all buttoned up.  This alone should trigger the Twenty-fifth.  Fat guys need to know that a jacket does not make you look thin.  It makes you look fat, sweaty and deranged. 




Thursday, September 14, 2017

Their eyes were watching Irma

...and it was awesome and terrible, so I guess the takeaway is that Rush was wrong.  Imagine.

Unseen by the preoccupied media, life went on.  For example:

Eight people were murdered while attending a football-watching party in Plano, Texas, allegedly by the hostess's estranged husband.  He was shot and killed by police.

Equifax was hacked, with personal information about 143 million Americans apparently stolen.  Oddly enough, several top Equifax executives sold their stock in the company a few days before the hack was revealed.* 

An earthquake measured at 8.1 on the Richter scale struck the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, the country's worst earthquake in a century.  At around the same time, Hurricane Katia came ashore.  Mexico had to withdraw its offer of aid to Houston, which had been accepted by the governor of Texas but not the federal government.  There has been no American offer of help to Mexico, where at least 95 people died.  Not so much as a tweet of sympathy. 

Edith Windsor, plaintiff in a landmark gay rights case, has died.

The government of Myanmar continues its "ethnic cleansing" (the official UN term) of the Rohingya population, a third of whom have taken refuge in Bangladesh.  The Rohingya are described by the New York Times as "a Muslim minority in mostly Buddhist Myanmar," so maybe westerners will finally stop romanticizing the peace-loving Buddhists.

Martin Shkreli's in the jailhouse now.  Judge Kiyo Matsumoto revoked his bail after he offered $5,000 for a hair (with follicle) from Hillary Clinton because... I don't know.  His lawyer called it "a momentary lapse in judgment."  The judge called it "a solicitation to assault."  Smirk your way out of this one, bro.

Trump congratulated the US Coast Guard for "improving its brand" in Florida.  Nobody knows what the fuck he is talking about.

Ted Cruz was caught "liking" a porn sight.  Although he insists he didn't do it, he will forever be known as a "porn-again Christian."  So that was amusing.

The Cleveland Indians won 21 consecutive games, establishing a new American League record.  Why do we even have leagues anymore? 

Jemele Hill, a sportscaster at ESPN, was attacked for writing, on her personal Twitter account, that Trump is "the most ignorant offensive president of my lifetime" (she is quite young).  ESPN forced her to apologize, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders probably violated at least one federal law by demanding she be fired.  To prove its orange occupant is not a racist, the White House released a photo of Trump sitting next to Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.  It identified him as "Tom Scott," but it's the visual that counts.

Something called Kid Rock is running for the Senate.  Be afraid, Michigan.  Be very afraid.

Trump is mad at those big meanies Mitch and Paul, so he's having fun with his new friends Chuck and Nancy, making all kinds of beautiful deals about DACA and the debt ceiling and letting them watch while he eats ice cream.  Again, nobody knows what the fuck he is talking about.  But the racist base of his party is pissed.  They're calling him "amnesty Don."  This is hilarious. 

It's far from hilarious that eight old people died needlessly, patients at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, Florida.  The power went off during the hurricane, the backup generator failed, there was no air conditioning, and nobody thought to carry them a few hundred yards to a hospital.  The place had previously been cited for its filthy kitchen and found guilty of Medicare fraud, but what will make America great again is less intrusive regulation of businesses like this.

Apple has a new phone.  It unlocks when it recognizes your face, so don't get old or grow a beard or anything, OK?  Oh brave new world.

*In the last century, when I worked for a collection agency, we never passed information to Equifax or the other two credit reporting agencies.  Not because of hacks -- this was long before every crime had "cyber" in front of it -- but because they are notoriously sloppy about correcting records, and we didn't want to louse up people's credit.  It was a simpler time, kids.


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The gathering storm

This evil thing is called Hurricane Irma, a Category Five storm because there are no higher categories.  It broke the equipment used to measure wind velocity.  Storm-trackers say it's like having a T-5 tornado sit on top of you for hours.  No one in Barbuda (population 5,000) has been heard from all day.  It's bearing down on Puerto Rico, then Hispaniola, Cuba, the Virgin Islands. 

The Keys are already evacuated, and people are streaming out of Dade County.  The monster is almost certain to reach Florida, which may be why Trump is giving it so much of his attention.  "Not good...not good," he intoned, looking like a rabbit caught in quicksand.  Then there was a much more encouraging tweet:  "Watching Hurricane closely.  My team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida.  No rest for the weary!"  (He originated that last sentence.  People are already using it everywhere!)  His team.  And of course, his stately pleasure dome of Mar-a-Legomyeggo.  I imagine he's getting hourly updates on the condition of the golf course.  I wonder if he even knows that some of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where all those brown people live, are America.

But the real problem, the outrage, is...well, listen:  "You cannot find a case of bottled water here in Palm Beach.  You can't.  Miami probably worse."  Yes, the stores have run out of Evian and Rush Limbaugh is livid.  Not even Poland Springs, from Maine, home of that treacherous Collins bitch.  Is he supposed to drink tap water like an idiot?  Because it's all a scheme by the media and the "deep state" to frighten people into believing in climate change and stampede them into the arms of the big-box stores.  (Costco is said to treat its workers with uncommon decency, so Rush probably despises them, but what about the rest?  He must really be thirsty.)

In other words, the whole thing is a hoax, Al Gore, George Soros, whatever, and we should just calm down.  Stare at that picture at the top and you'll find it's a painting of the head of a tropical bird, the eye of the worst hurricane on record only -- an eye.  Beautiful plumage. 

For the first and last time ever, I hope he's right. 

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Slouching toward 25

The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on February 10, 1967.  This is the heart of it, Section 4:

"Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."

Nobody knows exactly how this would work because there has never been anything remotely resembling a Trump before.  Even when Ronald Reagan was under general anesthesia and close to death at George Washington University Hospital in 1981, nobody thought about convening the Cabinet and starting the paperwork.  All Americans saw was Alexander Haig, the White House chief of staff, proclaiming, "I am in control."  Maybe he was.

Who precisely are the "principal officers of the executive departments"?  The whole Cabinet or just the main ones (State, Justice, Defense, Treasury, the four established by Washington)?  Would a majority have to concur, or all of them?  Never mind "such other body as Congress may by law provide" -- if Congress was on the job, we wouldn't be looking at Twenty-five. 

I ask because cracks and fissures are appearing all over the administration.  It's pretty clear that Rex Tillerson, for example, is getting tired of his treatment by Trump and "that little pisher," as they call Jared Kushner in Texas.  (Parts of Texas.)  Questioned about the post-Charlottesville rant at Trump Tower, he replied, "The president speaks for himself."  He obviously meant to disassociate himself from the white nationalists.  James Mattis is even more disgruntled at this point, urging US troops in Lebanon -- yes, we have troops in Lebanon -- to "hold the line" for American values until a better day dawns.  When there is another squawk about "fire and fury" he insists on a diplomatic solution to North Korea; his response to the transgender ban is documented.  The storm of twitter attacks on Jeff Sessions died down in the preoccupation with other matters, but could well resume now that the disloyal Justice Department has shot down the "wire tapp" libel.  Which leaves Mnuchin, who keeps his own counsel but can't be happy about Trump's promise to shut down the government if he doesn't get his Wall.  As a former Goldman Sachs executive, he knows that for the United States to default on its obligations is not remotely like filing Chapter 11 to skip out on your debts, the official business plan of The Trump Organization.

Last week Mike Pence loaded Mother (in sensible shoes) onto Air Force Two and headed to Houston to show Trump how it's done.  He hugged and prayed and shook every hand in reach; he helped carry debris to the curb; he never once referred to his crowd size, his hand size, or the lying media.  And he praised the hell out of Trump, sounding like a good and faithful servant and only a little like Prince Charles telling an interviewer what a marvelous person his mum is.  Pence is a professional politician and I don't have any use for him or his theocratic world-view, but the prospect of a Pence presidency, acting or otherwise, is so restful, so soothing, so right right now that I went to all the trouble of typing out that portion of the Twenty-fifth.  It's the best we can do.

And if Breitbart and Roger Stone and David Duke don't like it, they can go trump themselves.