Thursday, February 23, 2017

Sweet Cana Land

Scholars believe that many spirituals, in addition to being expressions of religious fervor, were also a highly sophisticated code for communicating dangerous information among the enslaved.  "There's No Hiding Place" warned that a refuge was unsafe.  "The Gospel Train" is probably a reference to the Underground Railroad.  "There's a Man Goin' Round Takin' Names" let people know that a sale of slaves was imminent.  "Down By the Riverside" is a good route to take if you need to evade bloodhounds.


After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, the ultimate refuge was "Sweet Cana Land," i.e., Canada.  To get there, people were enjoined to "Follow the Drinking Gourd" (the Big Dipper and the North Star).  I don't know how these people arrived at the U.S.-Canada border on a cold, sunny day in February 2017, or where they were born, or what documents they carry.  But the expression of the policeman holding the child is what I would like to see if I had fled my unspeakably war-shattered home and found a place of rest.  No longer "Mother of Exiles," America is now -- again -- a place for the tempest-tossed to flee.  Shame, and eternal shame.

Thank you, Mr. Trudeau, merci beaucoup.  There's a statue in New York harbor that, I'm thinking, would look just right in Halifax or Vancouver.  We only use it as a prop in the background for car insurance commercials.  Make us an offer.  Everything is on the table.  Going, going...  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Get on the bus!

I have been away for a few days, riding the bus from town to town in order to harass and intimidate Republican lawmakers -- and you wouldn't believe how many there are! -- and collect a generous paycheck from the Organization of Liberal Haters Who Hate America.  We got a box lunch every day and half-payment for those who ran away and hid, like Marco Rubio, so we didn't have to shout at them about Putin/Flynn and the Affordable Care Act.  Between town halls we hand-lettered signs under the tutelage of Black Lives Matter officials, and sang Woody Guthrie songs.  It was awesome.  What did I miss?

That nice young Mr. Yiannopoulos has come a-crupper, as I believe they say in his homeland, and just when he was about to achieve the Limbaugh-Jones-Hannity level of punditry.  He had a book contract that Joyce Carol Oates would envy, a keynote speech at the annual nazipalooza of CPAC, and an appearance on Bill Maher's show, where the host commiserated about the awful political correctness which kept him from bringing his white-nationalist act to the campus of UC-Berkeley.  Now the contract is rescinded and the CPAC gig has been cancelled, all because of his sympathetic statements about sex with children.  Milo Hinderminder -- oh, come on, I couldn't resist -- even had to quit his day job with Breitbart.com.  So unfair.

Poor Ivanka Trump is still being punished for being her father's daughter.  First Nordstrom announced that it would no longer carry her clothing line, forcing daddy to ignore a national security briefing while he tweeted an angry rebuke.  When Nordstrom's stock price jumped by more than four percent, K-Mart, Sears, TJ Maxx and Neiman Marcus quickly followed suit.  Now her jewelry business has been hit by a lien for $5,000 in unpaid taxes (hardly a dent in the million dollars New York City spends every day to guard the Fortress of Turpitude and make life harder for other Fifth Avenue merchants).  In addition, her suppliers say she owes them two million dollars.  She's daddy's girl, all right.

She's also daddy's beard*, as he faces accusations of stoking anti-Semitism.  It seems that some Americans have been making threats against Jewish community centers and vandalizing cemeteries, which is perfectly natural behavior when you're worried about the economy and Islamic terrorism, and of course, Hillary's emails.  When a Jewish journalist at the Mad Press Conference asked what Trump was doing to stop anti-Semitism he got a disjointed response about how completely Trump was not at all prejudiced and besides he has three Jewish grandchildren and the man should sit down and shut up.  Three days later, at the Museum of African-American History, Trump read from a card something about how terrible and horrible racism is, and how he will continue to heal all the divisions created by eight terrible, horrible years of Obama.  So that's that.  Yeah, Bannon still has the office next to his.

"What is going on in Sweden?" the Leader asked, rhetorically, a spellbound mob of supporters in Florida. The answer was "Not much."  He'd heard some gibberish on Fox News about terror and violence roiling Sweden, which has admitted thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and repeated it as if it were fact, in support of the Gestapo-like roundups of the undocumented here.  The Swedes were first confused and then outraged, with one former prime minister tweeting, "What has he been smoking?"  The world is learning to ignore Trump, one nation at a time.

Attempts to give this administration a veneer of gravitas have been hilarious failures.  The Department of Education saluted W.E.B. DeBois [sic] and then apologized for the misspelling by misspelling "misspelling."  For Presidents Day the incumbent decided to honor Lincoln with a quotation from somebody else, and not even a memorable one.  More, please!

FPOTUS has been leading us in prayer.  As in "Oh my fucking god..."





*Many leading Nazis had at least one Jew they befriended and protected.  See Ron Rosenbaum's Understanding Hitler and the story of Dr. Fuchs of Linz. 



    



 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Finely-tuned machine

I admit it.  I was unsettled when the Republican Congress voted to remove restrictions that kept the mentally ill from buying guns.  What a difference a day makes.  There is no point in keeping guns away from mad people as long as nuclear weapons are in the hands of Donald Trump.  It's like worrying about a leaky faucet when you live below the Oroville Dam.  It's like Yossarian carefully applying a bandage to Snowden's arm, only to have the man's guts tumble out of his jacket.  I don't know what the fuck it's like.  There is no precedent. 

Grandiosity, paranoia, excuse-making, lying, racism, ignorance, lying, incoherence, egomania, bombast, stupidity, and of course lying, all of it on display for the world to cringe at.  Since no one in Congress wants to touch this, what about a panel of clinical psychiatrists?  Since impeachment is not up for discussion, what is the procedure for involuntary commitment?  Comparison to Alice in Wonderland are tempting but misleading, for Wonderland has a rigorous logic.  Try to follow the "logic" of a trumpian trope -- the leaks are "illegal" and therefore true but reporting the information in them is "fake news" because the media is "dishonest" but the leakers are not -- and you want to go away and sit in the dark, humming.  Insanity is contagious.

Not feeling the unconditional love that all children need from those dishonest, corrupt, very very bad reporters, Donnie will go to Florida this weekend to drink in the adoration of the Stormtrumpers, to sic them on the media and lead the "lock her up" chant -- ah, the things we did last summer -- and to kick off his re-election campaign.  He inherited the worst, baddest mess in all of history, forget about Lincoln's divided nation and FDR's Depression, and it's all Hillary's fault and also Obama's fault, and not at all anything to do with Russia which is fake news, and Donnie alone can fix it. It's fixed already, just about, and the wall is practically built and Mexico is demanding to pay for it, and Iran and North Korea have been warned.  NATO --

I can't.  It's not fun anymore.  When this kind of thing happened in the past, religious leaders told people God was punishing them by giving them rulers like Ivan the Terrible or Vlad the Impaler.  By the twentieth century people no longer believed heaven had inflicted Hitler or Mao or Pol Pot.  So how do we explain this?  A quirk of the Constitution, or a loss of the will to live as a nation?

Explain it to me. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This happened

Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration as Secretary of Labor.  Puzder is notorious for abusing his thousands of fast-food workers and depriving them of their pitiful wages as often as possible, but what killed his nomination was an old tape from an Oprah Winfrey show in which his ex-wife described his violence toward her.  This is now a deal-breaker, almost as bad as hiring a nanny without a green card.

Justin Trudeau traveled to Washington to ask that Sarah Palin not be appointed ambassador to Canada.  Palin had already declined, explaining that she does not speak Canadian.  There is now a rumor that the owner of the Miami Marlins may become ambassador to France.  This has absolutely nothing to do with Jared Kushner's negotiations to buy the team.  So don't even think about it.

Michael Flynn has resigned as national security adviser because he was recorded back in December discussing sanctions and other matters with the Russian ambassador.  The national security adviser and his employer were unaware that phone calls to Russian diplomats are routinely recorded.  His employer chooses to blame the news media for their "un-American" and "illegal" behavior in revealing this inconvenient story.  Since neither the FBI nor anyone in Congress is investigating Flynn's (probably) criminal activities, government employees are going over their heads and informing the public in the only way they know.  (Jason Chaffetz:  "It's taking care of itself.")

Kellyanne Conway has promised to "reduce my television exposure."  No one is complaining.

Oh, yeah, the Russian military is playing chicken with the US all over the place.  Nobody seems to know what this means.

The Oroville Dam in California has been shored up and two hundred thousand people have been allowed to return to their homes, at least until it rains again. 

Netanyahu was here to flatter Trump and make sure we will keep on underwriting whatever he does in the occupied territories.  At a "press conference," Trump took questions exclusively from Rightzi cranks.  Strangely, this did not include the Wall Street Journal, which is reporting that intelligence officials refuse to share information with Trump because they can't trust him not to share it with Putin.

Congress has not been idle.  They passed a bill making it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns. 

I don't make it up.  I just type it.






Monday, February 13, 2017

Comedy tonight!

[COLD OPEN]

(The dining room of the Mar-A-Lago Country Club and White Citizens Council Headquarters, Palm Beach.  Alec Baldwin is hosting a dinner for the Japanese prime minister, played by Margaret Cho.  An aide enters breathlessly. 

Aide:  Mr. President, the North Koreans have just --

Baldwin:  Hold it, we got a salad coming.  Mr. Ali, you will love this salad, absolutely the greatest salad, believe me --

PM:  Abe.  My name is Abe.  All day you have called me Ali.

Aide:  Mr. President, a missile --

Baldwin:  Steve?  You wanna take this?  Any guy named Steve?

Aide:  North Korea has fired an intercontinental missile with nuclear capability.

Baldwin:  Nuclear?  Where's my football guy?  Where's the guy with the launch codes?  We can launch right now...

Aide:  Mr. President, it landed in the Sea of Japan.  There is no immediate risk, but the CIA thought you should know --

Baldwin:  The CIA?  I know more than the CIA.  I have a very good brain.  Hey, you, Pedro, more bacon and cheese on my salad!

Second aide:  Sir, we're getting more reports about the missile --

Baldwin (pulls out phone):  Is it on Twitter? 

(Other aides crowd around, staring at phones, unfolding documents.)

Baldwin:  Where is the Sea of Japan?

Abe:  Between Korea and Japan.  May I --

Baldwin:  Hey, Kellyanne!  Where is Korea?

Second aide:  It's on CNN, sir.

Baldwin:  Fake news!  Fake news!  Where's my steak?

(The room fills with people looking at classified information on various devices.)

Baldwin:  No email!  Use couriers!

Man:  Hey, I've been a member for seven years!  Can I get a selfie?

Baldwin:  Hurry up, I have to stop by the ballroom and talk to a wedding party.

Aide:  What shall I tell the press?

Baldwin:  LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!


Writes itself, doesn't it?



 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Make America scared again

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

This week Elizabeth Warren scared the shit out of Mitch McConnell.  He invoked an obscure rule about "impugning the character" of another senator as she read a letter written in 1986 by Coretta Scott King which opposed (successfully) the federal judgeship of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.  Warren was silenced but McConnell had no problem with Jeff Merkley (D-OR) reading the same letter.  Afraid of women much, Mitch?

Jason Chaffetz was "bullied" and "intimidated" by the overflow crowd at his town hall meeting in Salt Lake City.  Chaffetz, who had vowed to continue his bogus investigations into everything about Hillary Clinton had she been elected, apparently can shovel it out but can't take it.  He pronounced all the Utah citizens "outside agitators" bent on disrupting his nice meeting with angry questions about the Affordable Care Act.  Similar upheaval occurred at other meetings around the country.  Poor Bill Akins (R-FL) told his constituents that "when you're 74 you have to go before a death panel," but the old folks in Florida wouldn't buy it. 

Betsy DeVos was all set to visit her first public school as Secretary of "Education" when her path was blocked by two people and she ran away.   Eventually she got inside and made sure they were locked and loaded and ready to deal with any grizzly bears who turned up in Washington.  But it was terrifying.

There was fear at the border, where a woman named Fadwa Alaoui was stopped as she drove from Quebec to Vermont to shop, as she often does.  Alaoui is a Canadian citizen who was born in Morocco, and this time she was interrogated about her mosque, its imam, and her opinion of the Orange Emperor -- strange, because neither Morocco nor Canada is on the travel-ban list.  Which suggests that Muslims are indeed being singled out for abuse.

Edward Snowden must be scared, as rumors fly that he will be returned to this country as part of the effort to convince Americans that Trump is no puppet of Putin.  Adding fuel are the reports that Mad Dog Flynn was in contact with the Kremlin last December to reassure them about the lifting of sanctions.  Private citizens are not supposed to do that. 

I can only speculate that Melissa McCarthy put the frighteners on Donald J. Trump with her uncanny impersonation of Sean Spicer on last week's Saturday Night Live. Not even one nasty tweet about her appearance, her talent, or her extremely vicious hating -- Sad!  Can he afford to employ a press secretary who can be imitated so precisely by...a woman?  Is it true that Rosie O'Donnell will launch a similar attack on Steve Bannon?  Suddenly Saturday night is the scariest night of the week.

Speaking of Bannon, we should all be afraid.  It turns out that O.K. Trump doesn't read those imperial decrees executive orders he signs.  Apparently he was surprised to find that he has appointed Bannon to the National Security Agency.  Which begs the question:  What else has he signed?  Has the Thirteenth Amendment been repealed?  Are we at war with Venezuela?  Say, is that a statue of Timothy McVeigh in front of the FBI building?

Don't panic!  In large, friendly letters.



   

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Donald and the no good, very bad Thursday

Some days it doesn't pay to get out of your golden bed.

First Kellyanne Conway got "counseled" for using a morning appearance on Fox News to urge viewers to "go buy Ivanka's stuff" before Nordstrom pulls it off the racks and returns it to the factory in China.  Women who were impressed by Conway's inauguration costume will probably take her advice. 

Then Neal Gorsuch, Supreme Court nominee, told several senators that criticism of the judiciary is "disheartening" and "demoralizing."  Since even implied criticism of Il Douche amounts to treason, he never said it.  Understand?  Richard Blumenthal made the whole thing up.  At least he wasn't described as a so-called senator.

The worst blow came at dinner time, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (in Sin Francisco, of course) upheld (3-0) the lower court's ruling against the Muslim travel ban, which was in effect long enough to save America from a number of children and the former prime minister of Norway, among others.  Since Donzo recognizes no court except the place where he files his bankruptcies and divorces his used wives, this is far from over. 

It's just after midnight.  The Twitstorm will peak in about three hours.  Get your sou'westers on, kids.




Monday, February 06, 2017

Time is not on your side


First US President to go on the air and make anti-American statements right before the Super Bowl. - Andy Borowitz

Timing is a bitch, and not only for comedians.  These people have an almost supernatural ability to get it wrong.  First Newt Gingrich chose the seventy-fifth anniversary of Pearl Harbor to praise the  brilliance of the Imperial Japanese military.  This is a topic which could fruitfully be debated at a military affairs forum or a conference of historians (Neuter fancies himself one), but perhaps not as the last handful of veterans gathered for the last time at the USS Arizona.  The impulse to punch the fat draft-dodger's face must have been strong in them.

The weekend of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday was selected by another fat draft-dodger to engage in a Twitter-war with Rep. John Lewis, one of the last living heroes of the 1960's civil rights effort.  Lewis's crime was to criticize the then-idiot elect, and for that his district, the Georgia Fifth, was described in near-apocalyptic terms.  Actually, it's a suburb of Atlanta with a multi-ethnic population above the national average in both education and income, home to Georgia Tech, Emory University, and the Centers for Disease Control (unless that has been abolished by decree since last night).  According to Trump, though, anyplace black people live must be a hellhole.  I can imagine Fred dinning that into little Donnie as they drove home from a Klan meeting, along with "Women are only good for one thing" and "Jews are real clever with money."

Speaking of Jews, the official proclamation of Holocaust Memorial Day didn't speak of them at all.  This struck some people as an astonishing oversight, and others as evidence that it was scribbled on the back of a paper placemat by Deputy Fuhrer Bannon.  There once was a Louisiana governor known as "O.K. Allen" because he would sign whatever was put in front of him.  Once, the story goes, a leaf blew across his desk and he signed it.  But I'll bet 1930s cash money that he didn't hold it up proudly to show everyone how big he could write, like Charlton Heston holding up the Ten Commandments.  There might have been less confusion around the Muslim travel ban --- no point in calling it anything else -- had it been written by a lawyer or a career civil servant in the Justice Department instead of some random blogger.  I myself am a random blogger and I wouldn't presume to craft a law, a regulation or an executive order even if it wasn't absurdly unconstitutional.  If O.K. Trump means to rule by decree (and he has yet to sign a bill passed by either chamber of Congress because they're so slow and he doesn't trust them), he needs a lawyer.  Even if it means looking outside the imperial family.

Well, not to flog the obvious, but these people just aren't very smart.  There is a delightful story in today's New York Times about members of the kakiocracy meeting in the dark because they can't work the light switch in the Cabinet Room.  Generally, guys, up is on and down is off.  But I would rather think of you groping in the gloom, lighting matches and eventually setting the house on fire.  I love a good metaphor.