Monday, December 21, 2015

Solstice potpourri

Unless there is a war between Colombia and the Philippines, or they both get together and attack Steve Harvey, December 21, 2015, will be remembered as the day Lindsey Graham terminated his barely noticeable campaign for president.  In a field where there is no real disagreement about the so-called issues he simply could not generate enough outrageous bullshit to stand out from all the other pathological liars, fantasists and neo-Nazis jostling to lead the party of Lincoln.  I assume he and his stablemate John McCain will still pop up on the Sunday shows to demand "carpet bombing," "boots on the ground," "no-fly zones" and other well-considered solutions to the world's problems.


Have I got this right?  A punk named Couch killed four people and paralyzed a fifth while driving under the influence of who knows what, and went home after a brain-dead Texas judge (sorry if that's redundant) agreed that he was born too rich to know right from wrong.  Now he's going to jail because he was filmed at a party watching another punk play beer-pong.  The longer I live in this country, the better I understand why people in the Middle East want to come here and lop off our heads.  I wonder if they know they'll have to pull them out of our asses first.


Sometimes life imitates art, but it doesn't know where to draw the line.  If you were to create a fictional sleazebag who secures the rights to a lifesaving drug and raises the price by a thousand percent, boasts about it in long, rambling online posts, and revels in being the most despised man in the Western world, would you gild the lily by calling him Martin Shkreli?  But there it is, proof that our reality is being written by hyperintelligent beings in another dimension.  Yes, they've written him a (we hope) properly grim ending, but they just couldn't resist giving him a lawyer named Evan Greebel.  Is it possible that his grandma is Phyllis Schlafly?


Drumpf.  That was the family name that Donzo's grandfather brought here from Germany, not Sweden.  Who lies about something so insignificant?  Better ask why so many people love to be lied to.  Tell them Obama is a Muslim, ketchup is a vegetable, climate change is a myth, Sandy Hook never happened, the Chinese army is in Syria, FEMA is readying detention camps, there's a war on Christmas, aliens blew up the World Trade Center...they scarf it down and come back for seconds.  Maybe religion has conditioned them to believe unproved, unprovable crap.  Maybe they were just born dumb.  Maybe Plato was right about democracy. 


Barring something irresistible, I'm done with this year.  I need to sit in the dark for a week and listen to Bach.  Happy hundredth birthday to Orson Welles, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra.  Goodbye to Terry Pratchett, Aldo Ciccolini, Jon Vickers, Ernie Banks, Clark Terry, Andrew Porter, Ornette Coleman, E.L. Doctorow, Roger Rees, Julian Bond, Phil Austin, Yogi Berra, Oliver Sacks, Ron Moody, Anne Meara, Ruth Rendell, B.B. King, Percy Sledge, Allen Toussaint and Brian Friel.  Thank you. 

Let me close with the words of Amiri Baraka, from his liner notes to John Coltrane Live at Birdland (1963):

  "One of the most baffling things about America is that despite its essentially vile profile,
   so much beauty continues to exist here."   


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

You do what you can

If Donald Trump is serious about keeping Muslims out of God's Country, he is in a unique position to implement this without waiting to take power:  He can refuse to rent them hotel rooms.  (I assume you have to state your religion at check-in, at the same time you promise to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy holidays.")  It's only a handful of hotels, but a leader leads by example. 

Also, I'm wondering how many condos at Trump Tower belong to wealthy Middle Easterners, perhaps even members of the bin Laden family.  Surely they are being bought out right now, and their possessions will soon be dumped at the curb.

In other words, I am offering Donzo a chance to put his money where his mouth is.  I do not expect him to take it.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Guns and money

"Money talks, bullshit walks," says the old proverb.  So before there is any more bullshit on the topic of gun control, let's try money.  There will never be common-sense gun control until other countries tell their citizens to stop traveling to the United States because it's too violent and dangerous, because unlike France or Mali, we have a mass shooting every week.  When the tourists stop bringing their Euros and yuan and Australian dollars, a great shout will go up from the hospitality industry (the airlines, car rental agencies, hotels, restaurants, tour bus operators, souvenir manufacturers, and every attraction from Vegas to Broadway) that will drown out even the gun makers and their toadies.  It will be audible even to the politicians, who will sniff the air and "lead" in the direction of the money.  And then the killers will find it a little more difficult to kill.   


Monday, November 30, 2015

Je suis Planned Parenthood

 They were out in full battle array, the police of America, with assault weapons and helmets, patrolling the streets as the great festival of shopping began -- a sight to chill the blood even if you are not a young black man.  They were meant to make us feel safe from the kind of attack that has occurred in foreign cities.  And as they scrutinized the crowds for people who "look Islamic," whatever that means, they failed to notice Robert Dear approaching the clinic in Colorado Springs, weapons and propane tanks in tow but unquestionably a white man.  A disaffected loner radicalized by the video lies of the "Center for Medical Progress" and the hateful rhetoric of the Republican Party, but obviously not a terrorist, for there is no such thing as a white American terrorist.  After killing three people and wounding others, he ranted about Obama and "no more baby parts," but his motive is still unclear, so they say.  He is "troubled," so they say.  Nobody else is responsible for his actions, certainly not those who radicalized him.  Guilty of nothing but free speech.

Why would Daesh bother sending jihadis to America?  We're pretty damn good at terrorizing ourselves.  And none dare call it terror.  Mental illness, maybe.  The question we should be asking is, why is Republican doctrine indistinguishable from mental illness? 

Friday, September 25, 2015


Inside every cynic is a softie.  I'd like to think that after the Pope's address to Congress and some kind of Ebenezer Scrooge experience, John Boehner woke up clutching his bedpost and resolved to spend the rest of his life digging wells for African villages.  But I don't think so.  I'm not sure Dickens believed in personal transformation even as he was writing.  In the real world, Scrooge replaced Bob Cratchit with a twelve-year-old who did his job for three shillings a week, and Boehner will be back in Washington lobbying for the tobacco industry before the construction frame comes off the Capitol.  And weeping.


Friday, September 18, 2015


I've been busy all week decorating the cave for Walk Like a Pirate Day, which is the holiday the really cool bloggers celebrate.  Did I miss anything?  Another "debate"?  Really?  The usual gang -- Doc, Trumpy, Sleazy, Carly, Crazy, Christie, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey, Dopey and Crosseyed?  I thought Dopey had dropped out.  Why is everyone surprised that Doc seemed out of it?  Doctors have access to drugs the rest of us can only dream about.  But the real excitement occurred outside and slightly to the right of the Reagan Mausoleum, when Anna von Coulter momentarily let her inner Goebbels out on Twitter.  The fraulein may want to hold her fire until Bernie Sanders wins a primary or two.  If he does, it is going to get very ugly very fast, and not only for the "f---ing Jews."

Meanwhile, we have to make do with Islamophobia.  A Texas schoolboy named Ahmed Mohamed built a clock and brought it to school to show his teachers, whereupon he was arrested and handcuffed.  He's lived in Texas long enough to know that it's only acceptable to bring a handgun to class.  Being fourteen is no excuse.  But he's enjoying his celebrity, so that's something.  A happier ending than the California jaywalker who was brought down by an entire SWAT team yesterday; he's still alive, at least.  So is James Blake, the tennis player, who survived arrest at the hands of the NYPD, another case of standing-on-Forty-second-Street-while-black.  Blake was slammed to the ground but not choked to death, so I guess all the post-Eric Garner re-training has paid off.  Who is policing the police?   


Friday, September 11, 2015

Wilkommen, bienvenu, later

It's Casablanca in reverse.  Tens of thousands of desperate people, trying to get from the Middle East and North Africa to Germany, exploited by human traffickers more pitiless than Ugarte and Ferrari, abused by officials who make Louis Renault look like the Dalai Lama.  Watching them, you realize what was absent from the classic film:  children.  Old couples, young couples, Ilsa and Rick briefly reunited, but no children.  Not even Moroccan children playing in the bazaar.  The filmmakers understood that children change everything.  They break your heart.

How magnanimous of the world's richest nation to promise it will take in ten thousand refugees, next year some time, if they remembered to bring their passports and birth certificates and can be vetted by the Ministry of Love  Department of Homeland Security.  Economically struggling Ireland, with a population smaller than New York City's, has agreed to accept six thousand.  We could settle ten thousand people in depopulated cities like Detroit and New Orleans and never notice, but it's an election year (when is it not?) and our right-wing xenophobes can out-scream Hungary's any day of the week.  I suppose Pope Francis will bring it up when he speaks to Congress, but as soon as he mentions climate change and economic justice, most of them will tune out and start playing with their phones, scheming to grab a selfie with the pontiff for their Facebook pages.

This being the fourteenth anniversary of the Worst Day of All Time, it occurs to me we can finance this, and much besides, with an Ill-Gotten Gains tax.  Cheney, Bush, and everyone else who benefited financially from the pointless, unjustifiable, region-destabilizing invasion of Iraq, should be assessed one percent of their personal wealth to cope with the consequences of their greed.  It's not realistic to expect them to face trial as war criminals, and they will still be obscenely rich.  Because this is only going to get worse.  As their country is bombed daily by the Saudi Arabian air force flying American and British aircraft, the Yemenis will be the next to hit the road.  Expect a lot more Libyans to flee that mayhem and put their fate in the hands of the Italian navy.  The Turks will keep on harrying the Kurds, against all reason -- who else has had as much success fighting ISIS?  And then there's Somalia...

But let's keep arguing about Tom Brady and his footballs.