Friday, January 24, 2020

La Triviata

Guarantee:  Nothing here is even slightly consequential.  Enjoy!

James Corden's Carpool Karaoke is what sets him apart from every other late-night host and answers the question, "Who is this guy and why does he have a talk show?"  It turns out that he can't sing and drive at the same time.  Several continents are reeling.

The Grammy Awards nominating process may be rigged.  I thought it was fishy when Sir Georg Solti kept winning, year after year.

Jordan Belfort, felon and securities fraudster, is suing the producers of The Wolf of Wall Street over an allegation that some of the film's financing resulting from ripping off the Malaysian government.  There could be a sequel in it.

Cricketers will now think twice before calling an abusive spectator a "fucking four-eyed cunt."  Have these people ever been to a Red Sox-Yankees game?

You can eat authentic Vietnamese pho in Anchorage.  And now I'm hungry.

Nancy Drew,  RIP.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Occupation: Trump

George Carlin used to describe the medieval origins of stand-up comedy.  One night the dancers were late and the king was getting impatient, so they brought out a man who was, as we now say, developmentally disabled.  And the king loved it.  "Say, he's good!"

I think of this every time Trump shows up at a convocation of dignitaries.  It's less obvious when he's entertaining the dentally disabled in some provincial city, no script, no questions, just free-associative grievance and bluster.  But get him at the UN, the G7, a gathering of NATO leaders, and it's like he senses their contempt and hostility but doesn't know how to be anything but Trump.  Anything goes, and you almost feel guilty for watching, like laughing at that long-ago First Foole.

Right now it's the grandly styled World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the big machers of industry and finance celebrating the swell job they've done all year to advance the cause of capitalism.  Unlike the others, attendance is hardly compulsory.  He could have sent Pence and spared him the humiliation of being snubbed by Prince Charles in Jerusalem.  He could have stayed in bed, rage-tweeting about his impeachment trial and abusing Moscow Mitch for letting it go on so long.  Maybe he thought rubbing against real billionaires would transfer the magic money dust and he would no longer need the Russians and the Sauds to keep his Tinker-toy empire afloat.  It can't be the food -- he eats the same burger-joint crap everywhere and whines when it's not available.  Stephen Miller or Sean Hannity probably said, "You should go.  It'll look like you're too important to notice that stuff in the Senate, like you don't have a care."  Or Putin just said, "Go."

Whoever is behind this, it's been a laugh riot.  All the salient details are here, though I would question "embarrasses himself," which suggests a non-Trumpian level of self-awareness.  It was America that was embarrassed, and we'll be years recovering.  Some sly puss scheduled the speakers so that Trump had to follow Greta Thunberg, who will never be forgiven for acing him out as Time's Person of the Year (surely this can no longer matter to any serious person).  Warming to the injustice of it all, he demanded Pulitzer Prizes for Hannity and "Rushbo" Limbaugh to complement his own Nobel.  Why not just drape Medals of Freedom around their swollen necks and call it a day?  He still wants to "straighten out the press," a now tiresome complaint.  He wants to "protect" Elon Musk, but not to the extent of enlarging the electric vehicle tax credit because he doesn't know Tesla makes electric cars as well as rockets, or doesn't care.  He also wants to protect Thomas Edison, who he believes invented the wheel.  Remember Kennedy's speech to a group of real Nobelists, when he said it was the greatest gathering of intellects in the White House "since Jefferson dined alone"?  Trump can't wait for the night he gets to dine with Edison and Frederick Douglass and maybe Thomas Crapper, credited with inventing the flush toilet.   He's hearing wonderful things about them. 

Laugh.  It's funny.  Then remember that when the trial is over he'll still be there, applauding himself for awesomely beating the rap.  Not so funny now, is it?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Cheap laughs

One day -- and it can't be soon enough -- comedy writers will have to write original material.  Until then, they can just scan the news for gems like:

"He's also doing the rockets.  He likes rockets, and he does good at rockets, by the way."  (On Elon Musk)

"Who the hell cares about the budget?  We're going to have a country."  (On fiscal responsibility)

"Fear and doubt is not a good thought process."  (On Greta Thunberg)

"But honestly, we have all the material.  They don't have the material."  (On withholding evidence in the impeachment trial)

"I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things. But I can say, and I would report, it is not very serious."  (On eleven U.S. soldiers with traumatic brain injury from the Iranian missile attack)

"Our numbers are very good, our environmental numbers.   Our water numbers, our numbers on the air are tremendous.  We have to do something about other continents and other countries.  We have a beautiful ocean called the Pacific Ocean where thousands of tons of garbage flows toward us, put there by other countries, so Greta needs to work on them."  (On Thunberg again, with some lies about U.S, carbon emissions)

(For a different perspective on our "tremendous numbers," here's an article about some of the chemicals millions of Americans drink every day.)

And these are just from today.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

To the barricades again

In my opinion there is no more ironically named country than United States.  People who anguish over Have we ever been more divided? and Is there a Democrat who can bring us together? ignore the extent to which we have always been staring across an abyss, held together with baling wire and duct tape and a series of grim compromises.  Our very Constitution, with its fatuous talk of "a more perfect union," incorporated such ugly injustice that it's a miracle civil war took eighty years to break out.  Its conclusion terminated chattel slavery but maintained a system of white against non-white, male against female, immigrant against native-born, rich against poor that we are still struggling to resolve.  Only war -- us against the world -- has temporarily papered over the resentments and divisions, and then mostly by demonizing non-white enemies.  In many instances, the demonization  has been the principal reason for the war.

We even fight over holidays.  As the wounded straggle home from the War on Christmas, which started in the squalid brain of someone annoyed by a cashier who failed to mention Baby Jesus Meek and Mild, they have to cross the newest front in the Forever Culture Wars.  I refer to the War on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.  It was dragged into existence with more opposition than any declaration of war (back when they were declared), first observed in 1986 and only recognized in all the states fourteen years later.   And that was just the beginning.

Over the past twenty years it has become customary for racists and conservatives (but I repeat myself) to hijack this day and use it to display their contempt for everything King stood for.  They usually start by lying about King himself.  In his lifetime, it was common for everyone from George Wallace to J. Edgar Hoover to brand him a communist, the usual term of abuse for anyone who opposed the status quo.   Now their ideological spawn claim him as a fellow traveler, a secret Republican and even a libertarian if not exactly a segregationist.  J.D. Rucker at The Federalist wants us to believe King "worked with his closest political allies, Republicans, who overwhelmingly pushed for civil rights with him" though he doesn't mention any names or quote King's characterization of Barry Goldwater as a racist.  The highest praise he can come up with is "He was also a Christian and fervent supporter of Israel."  

(Let's clear the air on Republicans.  For fifteen years they were gangbusters, electing the genius Lincoln, winning the civil war, passing the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.  In 1875 they abandoned Reconstruction and began their long, slow slide into the shit.  By the turn of the century they championed imperial wars against Mexico, Spain, and anyone who opposed American capital -- read Smedley Butler.  In the 1920s they embraced the exclusion of immigrants and cheered the heedlessly overheated economy.  In the 1930s they opposed every attempt by the Democrats to clean up their mess.  By the 1940s they were the party of isolationism, if not cheerleaders for European fascism.  In the 1950s they gave us McCarthyism.  In the 1960s, scenting a new constituency among the rabid racists, they promoted Goldwater and courted Thurmond and other Dixiecrats.  Then came Nixon (and Kissinger), the "secret plan" to end the war, Watergate, Reagan and another secret plan to free the hostages, Iran-contra -- can anyone here spell t-r-e-a-s-o-n? -- Poppy Doc and Willie Horton, Baby Doc and the "war on terror," a party hollowed out of all decency and morality before the loathsome Trump came along.  So fuck the Republicans with a rusty chainsaw.)

In this stage of the war, the enemy doesn't always talk about King; they just use his holiday to foul everything he stood for and the truth in general.  Thus Geraldo Rivera ("I'm not a journalist but I get paid to play one on TV") chose yesterday to inform the Three Murdoch Stooges that Trump is "a civil rights leader" because why not?  He's the Chosen One, too, and possibly the Lindbergh baby.  Thus Kellyanne Conway consulted her Ouija board and rushed out to inform us that King would never have wanted Trump impeached.  Thus a mob of self-styled militiamen suited up in pretend-uniforms and took their guns out for an airing at the Virginia capitol, where old-timers still consider this a day to celebrate the sedition of Stonewall and Bobby Lee.  And in the days preceding the holiday the Supreme Court of Florida ruled that the state can bring back the poll tax no matter what the 24th Amendment says.

On the last night of his life (and please don't tell me James Earl Ray was a Democrat), King said he didn't expect to get to the Promised Land.  At this rate, none of us will.  I don't think it exists.  

Monday, January 20, 2020

Lock us up! Lock us up!

Are there no prisons?  Plenty of prisons, they're just not crowded enough.

As previously noted, Ohio wants to imprison women who survive ectopic pregnancies and the doctors who save their lives.  Now Missouri proposes jailing librarians who defy "Parental Advisory Boards," and you can imagine the kinds of "Million Moms on the March" who will populate those.

This is a good day to read "Letter From a Birmingham Jail," while you still can.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Fried day

Alan Dershowitz has joined Dream Team Trump.  (But what if O.J. gets arrested again?)  He joins rape-enabler Ken Starr and drunken doofus Rudolph Giuliani.  I hear there's a Jon McNaughton painting of Jeffrey Epstein earmarked for their command center.  Ken's been unemployed since that little dust-up at Baylor, so he doesn't even remember that Trump called him "a lunatic" and "a disaster" way back in 1999.

This century's Joe Valachi is a nondescript Ukrainian with a Zero Mostel combover.  Lev Parnas is a small-time crook whose testimony against a big-time crook has already proved indispensable.  I love that he's got selfies with all sorts of slimebags who now claim never to have met him, and transcripts of their crazily incriminating emails.  Even if he only amassed this collection to avoid death by Putin, I'm already dreaming of the Scorsese movie.  Paul Giamatti maybe?

Bernie Sanders says a woman can't be elected president but he can.  Two things, Bern:  Last time a woman won by almost three million votes but was robbed by an eighteenth century anachronism.  Also, what makes you think a Jew can be elected?

I think Ayanna Pressley is more beautiful with no hair than all those surgically enhanced Trumpettes combined.  Expect her to be the subject of much hilarity at the next Hatesapalooza.

This is why athletes are avoiding the White House.  If it's not impeachment, he rants about Crooked Hillary, or dishwashers, or windmill cancer.  In front of a Chinese trade delegation he decided to go off on James Comey some more.  Embarrassing.  And some day, there will be a doctoral dissertation on Trump's strange use of dog similes.

Richmond is bracing for Charottesville Redux as thousands of gun-humpers arrive for a King Day rally, accompanied by their beloved weapons and who knows how much live ammo.  Because there's no point walking into a peaceful, lawful rally unarmed.  By Monday night, Hannity will be assuring us that Antifa is the problem.  I wonder if Donzo Jr. will address the multitude while lofting his newest toy, Crusader Cross Hillary.  It's not clear if this is the weapon he used to bring down that ferocious Mongolian sheep.

I never cared much for Time, but putting Trump's worthless slumlord son-in-law on the cover ahead of him was a masterpiece of trolling.  Other cover folks they might want to consider:  Rosie O'Donnell, Kurt "short-fingered vulgarian" Andersen, Alec Baldwin (in full clownface), Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, Marla Maples, Ivana Trump, the Central Park Five, the Whistleblower, Stormy Daniels, John McCain, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Angela Merkel, Ayatollah Khamenei, Robert DeNiro, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Kathy Griffin...

The General Accounting Office says Trump violated federal law by withholding funds Congress had voted for Ukraine.  And now he's doing the same thing with most of the money Congress voted for Puerto Rico (after the hurricane -- the earthquakes are still going on).  The excuse is the same:  must prevent corruption!  I'll pause here for manic laughter.

When Trump said no Americans were injured in that little shootout with Iran, he meant these eleven.

Michael Flynn has changed his mind again about pleading guilty.  Exactly how did this guy get to be a general?

Obese, gasping, sniffing "president" knows what's the perfect nutrition for kids, and it's pizza, fries and burgers!  Orders health-nut Ag Secretary Sonny "Sonny" Perdue to rescind dietary guidelines for school lunches promoted by Michelle Obama.   Happy birthday, Last First Lady!  #BeFat!

It's also the birthday of Betty White.  Hey, Tubby McBonespurs, think you'll see 98?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

No harm

Unless you follow Michigan politics, you have probably never heard of Peter Lucido, Republican whip of the state senate.  This is your lucky day.

Allison Donahue was trying to interview Lucido for the Michigan Advance and I guess he didn't appreciate the young lady's tone.  So he more or less suggested that a nearby group of leering schoolboys could "have some fun" with her, you know, adjust her thinking.  Of course he meant no harm.  When will these career gals stop taking everything so seriously?  It was a compliment.  That's how Republicans compliment their women.  It was "nothing disingenuous," whatever that means, because he talks to groups of girls the same way.  Allison is 22, and if she did something with her hair and makeup and smiled more, she'd be much better at getting the guys to open up, especially alpha males like Lucido who are being investigated for sexual harassment by the Senate Business Office.

Donahue wanted to talk to Lucido about the now-deleted Facebook page "People vs. Governor Gretchen Whitmer," which sounds like a legal action or site for policy criticism.  Actually, it was a spot where various Trumpanzees could share thoughts about the governor, Rep. Rashida Tlaib and others, mostly involving rape, murder and dark alleys.  (In one of the more poetic images, a certain Michael Buschert fantasized about making "that pink mist spray from [Tlaib's] skull."  Buschert probably should have used a screen name like "Trump4Ever" because this exercise in free speech cost him his job at the Pleasant Moose Lodge in Newberry.  Liberal fascists.)  Anyway, they never got that far.  Donahue wrote this story instead.  Rashida Tlaib should be glad so many men think she's pretty enough to rape.  Not like E. Jean Carroll, who Trump described as "not my type." I'm still waiting for a reporter as brave as Allison Donahue to ask him what type woman he prefers to rape.

Women in politics, and in public life generally, even (or especially) online gaming and sports, are used to this kind of crap.  Every time they express an opinion or celebrate an achievement, they are Jackie Robinson, showered with abuse and forbidden to respond in kind, or at all.  They can turn it aside with a joke, like Greta Thunberg or Elizabeth "Go Cougars" Warren, but they can never offer to use Peter Lucido's asshole as a storage facility for nuclear waste.  To do so would be "emotional," or "weak," or "immature."  The prohibition follows party lines:  Sarah Palin could threaten Bernie Sanders with an assault rifle as Ted Nugent has threatened Hillary Clinton, because right-wing women are honorary men.  That's their choice, and good luck to them.  In Virginia, the female-led (Democratic majority) legislature has finally ratified the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, and I'm glad I don't have to answer the phone or deal with the emails in Speaker Filler-Corn's office.  As the Thug-in-Chief would say, she's going to go through some things.

In spite of the #MeToo backlash presently under way, all women go through some things every day, whether they work in the million-dollar media or a burger restaurant.  A lot of women who don't work at all (for wages) go through them at home or on the street.  This has characterized "civilization" for thousands of years before Margaret Atwood's trenchant observation, "Men are afraid women are laughing at them.  Women are afraid men will kill them."  And fear is bullying's dirty little secret.  It would be nice if we could all stop living in fear.