Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Over the river to sell the goods...

I did a search at Amazon, I dipped my toe in the brackish sludge of right wing media, and I found no one, no one, protesting corporate America's War On Thanksgiving.  It's not as venerable as Christmas, but it is wholly American and, in fact, marking its sesquicentennial.  Unlike Christmas, which was pasted over the old Roman Saturnalia, Thanksgiving is specifically religious in origin:  On October 3, 1863, in a Proclamation written by William Seward and signed by Abraham Lincoln, Americans were enjoined to give thanks for "the gracious gifts of the Most High God."

But to hell with that.  Retailers apparently need one more day to unload the merchandise they import from Asian sweatshops, so Thanksgiving has been cancelled for thousands of salesclerks, cashiers, stock people, security guards, custodians and others.  Just another workday.  But maybe it's not all bad.  For instance, many Walmart employees -- sorry, associates -- have lost their food stamps because of the zombies who have eaten the brain of Lincoln's old party, so it wasn't going to be much of a Thanksgiving for them anyway.  Perhaps they would rather work than eat crackers and peanut butter in front of the television, or line up at the neighborhood soup kitchen.  Turkey and fixings on a Styrofoam plate send the unmistakable message that you, too, are disposable.

I count on the Supreme Court to turn the absurd into the completely surreal, and I am seldom disappointed.  Yesterday they agreed to decide whether corporations have a right to religious freedom, i.e., not paying for insurance policies that cover contraception and abortion.  As for individuals who want to observe a religious holiday, well, what do you think? Back to work, you minimum-wage moochers.  If you don't like it, go start a hedge fund.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I admit it.  I put on MSNBC in the afternoon if there's nothing better, like a medley of Charles Butterworth films on TCM.  Chris Matthews is a giant pain in the ass and Al Sharpton needs to develop an inside voice, but I'm often directed to something diverting or informative.  Sadly, the last, shaky bastion of liberalism only makes headlines when it screws up.  I mean, really.  Martin Bashir, of all people.  We've all thought about taking a dump on Sarah Palin's head, but you're not supposed to say so out loud, even on low-rated cable.  That being the case, I can't believe the Real Housewife of Wasilla was so distressed that she had to cancel an appearance on The Today Show to hawk her latest McBook.  This is a woman who likes to shoot animals from a helicopter so she can admire the red blood on the white snow.  She's not joining Lindsey Graham on the fainting couch any time soon, and I'll bet he's relieved.

Oh, sorry, was that Hate Speech?  It's hard to tell these days.  Alec "Oops, I did it again" Baldwin was abruptly yanked off MSNBC when he called some reporter a "queen" last week.  Like Bashir, he apologized.  Unlike Bashir, he was only responsible for one hour a week and it was hardly a must-see.  Like most actors, Baldwin is too self-involved to be a good interviewer.  I enjoyed his talk with the too-little-seen Debra Winger, but the hour he spent with Bill DeBlasio felt like three.  When it finally ended I was convinced that the new mayor of New York is Bloomberg without the charisma.

If Baldwin is gone for good, no doubt the Rightzis will crow that it's all right to insult Palin but not teh gays.  I don't believe he's a bigot, just someone with imperfect impulse control.  And who of us is without sin when it comes to life's daily irritants?  A female driver cuts you off in traffic, a black person grabs the last cart in the supermarket, and all the years of good will and conscientious striving fall away, and out from the reptilian part of your brain comes that unforgivable word, or several.  It's shameful enough when you're alone in the car.  Celebrities are never alone.  Baldwin will be doing benefits for GLAAD until he retires, because Oscar Hammerstein was right -- we're carefully taught all that garbage in early life and we never throw it all away.  (I actually hate that song, it's so damn preachy, and Richard Rodgers didn't knock himself out coming up with an attractive melody.  But damn it, he was right.)

But what of MSNBC?  Are there so few articulate lefties that they need to repeat everything twice and fill up the weekend with those unspeakable prison documentaries?  Why Joe Scarborough when the Stephanie Miller radio show is looking for a TV outlet?  Can we limit guest commentators to one appearance per day, to cut down on the queasy feeling of deja vu?  (Did I see her an hour ago?  Does she have her own show?  Is her name really Crystal Ball?  Should I get out of the house for a while?)  Does every freaking member of Congress have to be interviewed in the same spot in the Capitol?  Just for the comedy, could they pick up the cable show Rob and Doug Ford are doing?  I can't get enough of those loveable hosers. 




Friday, November 08, 2013

Oy, Canada

Rob Ford and Ted Cruz have certainly changed the way Americans think about Canada.  Never again will we be able to see it as the innocuous, friendly place that gave the world curling, Paul Anka and the Mounties' Musical Ride.  We probably should have seen this coming when Justin Bieber began to exhibit signs of Michael Jacksonianism.  There is some dark shit in America's Attic.

The best news for bruised and weary Americans is, we don't own this.  (Ford, I mean -- I'll get to Cruz later.)  It's not as if we elected Rush Limbaugh mayor of New York -- just the opposite.  It was Canadians who handed their largest city to an obese, right-wing, racist, homophobic drug abuser.  And not a clever one.  On a scale of one to ten, with one being "I got hooked in the service" and ten being "Bitch set me up," "I was in one of my drunken stupors" is the worst excuse ever for smoking crack.  He might have pointed out that no public money was spent on the rock, or that it's a fairly victimless crime compared with, say, Bob Filner's attempt to stop-and-frisk every woman in San Diego, but no.  Ford hasn't even organized a photo-op with a clergyman, or asked Torontonians to pray for him.  Canadian politicians are weird.

They have to come south to be vicious.  For a senator who has zero legislative accomplishments and a deep hatred of the United States government, Ted Cruz has succeeded in lodging himself in our  consciousness like asbestos in the lungs of a building renovator.  His irritating nasal voice and odd appearance, like something you'd get if Bill Murray screwed a panda, have been catnip for the media, eager to personalize the Tea Party's latest assault on Americans who had the gall to re-elect Barack Obama.  For what it's worth, even the Houston Chronicle reversed its endorsement of him.
He has been so toxic for the Republicans that a conspiracy theory made the rounds that he was a Democratic mole.  Comparisons with Joseph McCarthy are unfair to McCarthy.  Even Rand Paul can't stand him.  He is my favorite mole since Mole.  You know, The Wind In the Willows, a book he may want to read in his next filibuster.  Every dollar he collects from the Republican base is a dollar they won't have to spend on bullets, beer and crystal meth.  Go, Teddy, go!