Monday, July 31, 2017

End of an era

Anthony Scaramucci is out as White House communications director, after ten days.

Move over, George


"I'd ask whether or not you someday think I should be on Mt. Rushmore."

"I've heard this Borglum is doing wonderful things," Trump didn't add.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Happy, few?

You few, you miserable few, you band of patsies;
For he to-day that sheds his political capital for Trump
Shall be Trump's scapegoat; and whatever else he says or does,
He will wear Trump's brand on his ass forever:
And Democrats in D.C. now a-bed
Shall laugh so hard that they poop a little,
That the Party of Reagan handed itself over to an unhinged shit-gibbon
Because of some fucking emails.

---the incomparable Driftglass

Parody is hard.  During the initial Muslim ban, which seems a year ago or more, I tried to write a parody of Emma Lazarus for the new Statue of Exclusivity.  It doesn't bear repeating.  This Crispin takeoff may not scan, but it's beautiful.

Let's see, what happened in this momentous week?  Reince Priebus (nailed it the first time) was throw under Air Force One all but literally, called a "fucking paranoid schizophrenic" and "a paranoiac" by Anthony "Two-Times" Scaramucci, and accused of adultery by one Arthur Schwartz, a self-described friend of the Mooch.  (He later retracted the accusation, if not the friendship.)  The Mooch is being divorced by Mrs. Mooch according to the New York Post, so who knows if it's true?  John Kelly, former Marine general and Homeland Security secretary, will replace Priebus tomorrow as chief monkey wrangler in the West Wing; he brings invaluable experience in hand-to-hand combat.  Oh, and the Mooch appears to have arrived in the White House for the same reason as everyone else, to promote his brand and cash in.  In addition to the business he's desperate to sell to some Chinese investors, he is said to be talking up a movie about fabled coach Joe Paterno.  Just like Knute Rockne, All American but with child abuse.

Paul Ryan expressed his sorrow over Friday's Senate vote by quoting from, I swear, Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."  From memory, because he's so smart.

Blake Farenthold (R-TX) allowed as how he'd fight a duel with Lisa Murkowski if only she was a man.  Since he goes around three hundred pounds, this seems unlikely and hilarious.

Where is the Leader? you ask.  Here, there, everywhere.  At the launch of the world's most yugest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, he could be heard encouraging military officers to contact their senators and representatives in support of his budget, a clear violation of the Hatch Act.  At an event in New York he urged members of the Suffolk County Police Department to -- no, I have to quote this or you won't believe it:

  "...the laws are so horrendously stacked against us (emphasis added) because for years they've been made to protect the criminal...not the officers.  If you do something wrong, you're in more jeopardy than they are.  These laws are stacked against us.  We're changing those laws."

Including the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments, presumably.  Don't worry, this clown couldn't repeal the ACA much less amend the Constitution.  Worry because he told the cops it's perfectly fine to slam a suspect's head against a car.  The appalled SCPD issued a statement that the "President" of the United States does not speak for them, which is a lovely state of affairs.  It aligns them with the many parents who expressed shock at his jaw-droppingly inappropriate remarks to the Boy Scouts in the same week.  Put Donzo in front of an audience of more than a hundred people and you can be sure he'll first compliment himself on the vastness of the crowd and then rage against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  Hey, Donny, ask Melania what idee fixe means.

Saturday morning found him back on his golden throne and tweeting like crazy:  "If the Senate Democrats ever get the chance they would switch to a 51 majority vote in first minute.  They are laughing at R's.  MAKE CHANGE!"  See, he thinks the 60-vote threshold for cutting off debate is the same as the 51-49 simple majority that saved Obamacare.  I can't claim to understand the Senate's arcane rules myself, which is why I don't offer advice to people who do.  DT also believes the Senate is controlled by "eight Democrats" (he doesn't say which ones).  The point is, it's not controlled by Mitch McConnell, who is not as good at his job as Chuck Schumer.  And of course, the Democrats are "laughing at" me.  And that's intolerable. 

Keep it up, Donzo.  Senators love it when you abuse other members of the "world's most exclusive club," when you send your pal Roger Stone out to call John McCain "a piece of shit."  Did you happen to notice the support Murkowski is getting clear across the political spectrum, from Lindsey Graham to Ed Markey?  Did you wonder how Gerald R. Ford got to be president when you were christening that flattop?  Wonder.       


Friday, July 28, 2017

Thumbs down

Why did he do it?  Because he came face to face with his own mortality?  I think that happened long ago in Vietnam.  Because it's a terrible bill, scribbled during lunch and barely read, much less debated?  Wishful thinking.  Because, as the Washington Post suggests, "revenge is a dish best served cold," and he has never forgotten or forgiven "I like people who weren't captured"?  I want to believe that.  Because he wanted to take the pressure off Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski?  They can take it.  Because he just doesn't like Mitch McConnell's face?  Who does?

It's not important why John McCain voted against repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the early hours of July 28, 2017, turning the Senate chamber into what Charlie Pierce called "a goddamned Frank Capra movie."  For now, Planned Parenthood will be funded, the Centers for Disease Control will not lose a giant chunk of its budget, and millions of Americans who are in less than perfect health can forget about obtaining fake ID and driving to Canada.  For now. 

The news spread through Blogenheim like a rumor of peace.  Even Lee Papa, the Rude Pundit, took the unprecedented (I believe) step of removing a "Fuck John McCain" post from earlier this week.  Pierce's classic account can be read at his shebeen, while Trump's sputtering rage can be read all over (I'm glad I'm not in charge of managing his blood pressure).  Nobody believes this is the end, but as Churchill said, it may be the end of the beginning.  Both houses passed bills continuing and strengthening the sanctions on Russia that Trumputin loathes, and the risible Scaramucci promised a veto, perhaps unaware that 98-2 is the fuckin' definition of fuckin' veto-proof.  (No idea why Bernie Sanders was one of the two, but perhaps his diehard bros can explain.)  They may even manage a budget this year, avoiding the chaos that Steve "Self-service" Bannon yearns for.  Senators are tired of being tweet-shamed and abused by a clown who doesn't know how this thing works and doesn't care; who buses them to the White House for a dining room harangue instead of driving down the street for a respectful conversation; and who talks about Democrats as if they were something he found on his shoe. 

If Hillary Clinton were president, do you think McCain (and Murkowski and Collins) would have bucked their party?  Neither do I.

"It's easy to stand up to your opponents.  It's much harder to stand up to your friends."  (Sen. Angus King, I-ME)  Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski did a hard thing, and we owe them.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why didn't I think of that?

I could just post the craziest quotations of the last forty-eight hours and go read a book.  It's the lazy way but it would save me clutching my head and shaking it until the cervical vertebrae pop.  And yet I feel obligated to engage with the madness.

"When the iceberg hits the boat the rats start flying up from the steerage."  There's a new phrase-maker in town and his name is Anthony Scaramucci.  This is primo shit.  For "boat" read "ship," because a boat wouldn't live very long after hitting an iceberg (not the other way around).  Also, those beings in the steerage are passengers of limited means, possibly including the Scaramuccis who immigrated from Italy.  He seems to be getting creative with the old saw about rats abandoning a sinking ship, which is pretty unlikely unless they're rats who really love to swim.  Or fly, as he appears to suggest. I suppose it's a reference to Sean Spicer, who quit last week rather than work for Scaramucci.  It could be a reference to almost anything.  What this custard pie fight of a White House needs is a communications director who can't (or won't) communicate.

"We're taking orders via Twitter now?" was an unattributed quote "overheard" at the Pentagon. The occasion was a shitter-twitter "ban" on transgendered people serving in the military, violating a specific campaign promise and, as usual, leaving the details in limbo along with some 30,000 people. 
No time for discussion, had to get it out there on July 26, the sixty-ninth anniversary of Harry Truman's order ending racial segregation in the armed forces.  I can't wait to see what they have planned for the seventieth.  Trump proves he's not the puppet of Vladimir Putin by proving he's the puppet of the evangelicals.

"The way you eliminate the North Korean nuclear program is to eliminate North Korea."  Yes, he's back -- deep thinker of the right John Bolton.  And how?  Simple:  you "convince China that it's ultimately in their interest to reunite the two Koreas."  I think China would agree; it's the South Koreans who might not be interested in living in the country China would like.  Come to that, how many North Koreans are eager to join what they have been told is an American colony?  And how do you "convince China" to do anything? 

New White House mouthpiece and future Melissa McCarthy avatar Sarah Huckabee Sanders read the jaded press corps the most adorable letter from a nine-year-old Trump fan named Dylan Pickle.  Too long to quote here.  Why can't more Americans have the mentality of a third grader?  Or a hack at the National Enquirer, if that's your cynical opinion.  (Dill Pickle?  Is he a classmate of Ben Dover?)

Are you ready for a presidential tweet?  From the most presidential president since "the late great Abraham Lincoln"?  Hold on:  "So many people are asking why isn't the AG or Special Council looking into the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes.  33,000 emails deleted." 

"So many people," of course, refers to the voices in his head, and "Special Council" means "special counsel," i.e., Robert Mueller.  For the rest we have to speculate:  Comey's "crime" was failing to find that Clinton had committed any crimes, and the "33,000" emails is a number he got from the Russians via Junior or Slumlord-in-Law at the perfectly innocent meeting which may or may not have occurred and is now part of the greatest witch hunt of all time.  Also "I didn't do anything wrong" but totally have the power to pardon myself.  Clear?

Council/counsel.  Expect an executive order banning all homonyms.  Confusing and not necessary.  Who knew there were too different ways to spell to?  Nobody could have known.  Also April will now be called Ivanka.  She worked very very hard in Hamburg and she deserves a month.  And why is it so hard to get a Big Mac in #FailingHellholeHamburg?  If I knew I never would have went.

As long as we're in a comic mode, behold the Monty Python sketch being played out between the Interior Department and Alaska.  Lisa Murkowski and fifty-four other senators voted down the latest iteration of repeal-replace-refudiate Obamacare yesterday.  She was singled out for abuse by Trump and Ryan Zinke, the Interior Secretary, who actually said things could go badly for the state if they don't do something about this nasty (Republican) woman.  ("You got a nice state here, Senator.  Be a shame if it was to get done over, know what I mean?")  Zinke forgot that Murkowski chairs the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, and she's holding up all his appointments.  Bam!  I still think Trump has promised to return Alaska to Russia, but he makes the best deals, as we know, so he'll sell it back for $14.4 million, twice what we paid in 1867.  That'll show her.

The Mooch, as we affectionately call him, just gave an interview to The New Yorker that forces us to hold our deadline.  He really hates Rance Primbus Reince Priebus, calling him "a fucking paranoid schizophrenic."  He wants the Justice Department to investigate Priebus for "leaking" financial information about him which is part of the public record; who's paranoid?  And just in case you wondered, he adds, "I'm not Steve Bannon.  I'm not trying to suck my own cock."  (I wondered what Bannon's job title was.)  You plug those leaks, Mooch!  You fire every motherfucker in the motherfucking White House!  Scorsese is already talking to writers.

"Beleaguered."  You don't call someone "beleaguered" when you're doing the beleaguering.  Trump almost certainly doesn't know what it means; he probably saw it in Melania's English-word-a-day calendar.  Bewitched, bothered and beleaguered Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III certainly is.  For all the pomp of that Confederate treason name, he has the dignity of a squashed louse, refusing to quit until he hears the catchphrase "You're fired."  That may never happen, because Lindsey Graham says the Senate won't confirm another attorney general.  Senators don't like it when you abuse members and former members of the "world's most exclusive club."  Maybe the Mooch can explain to Trump   that the Senate will eventually be his jury.  If he knows.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Johnny, I hardly knew ye, or did I?

When I heard that the actor John Heard had died, I had to stop and think.  The news kept referring to Home Alone, which I have never seen, but I remembered him from Awakenings.  This happens all the time, because of my lack of familiarity with big, insanely profitable movies that absolutely everyone knows.  I've never seen Titanic, never watched a James Bond all the way through, bailed on the Star Wars series after Star Wars.  I had other things to do in the 1970s, and now it's too late to catch up.  Same with all those superheroes, up to and including Harry Potter.  I'm an adult.

I suppose I've seen Mr. Heard's work in other films.  That's the problem.  I might be confusing him with William Hurt, or John Hurt, or even Mississippi John Hurt.  I have the same difficulty with Norman Lloyd/Lloyd Nolan, MacDonald Carey/Wendell Corey, James Spader/David Spade, and Mildred Dunnock/Mildred Natwick.  (Evidently everyone has this problem with Bill Pullman/Bill Paxton.)  We need more actors named Shemp, Zero and Chazz. 

And while I have you here, let's talk pronunciation.  The old-time movie moguls were pretty much bastards, but they knew what to do with up-and-comers called Spangler Brugh or Muni Weisenfreund  -- get that kid a name Americans can say!  Not a Saoirse Ronan or Zeljko Ivanek on their watch.  No tell-tale ethnicity either, if you know what I mean.  Are Americans more sophisticated because we have learned to pronounce "Pacino" and "Honsou" and even "Ralph Fiennes"?  Or is it because we get our movie-star names pronounced by broadcasters instead of having to read them in Photoplay?

As you have probably guessed by now, I am a regular client of Turner Classic Movies, except today when it's nothing but westerns.  I can't complain; they're having a Lili Damita day tomorrow, not one of them later than 1935.  This is my period, from the pre-Code talkies to the death of George Arliss.  Where else are you going to find these gems?  So it pains me to say it, but the TCM Wine Club chafes my toes.  Somebody thought it was a good idea to sell wine on the graves -- yeah, graves -- of actors whose careers and lives were wrecked by alcohol:  John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton, Spencer Tracy, Dana Andrews, Robert Walker, Richard Burton, Oliver Reed, you know I could go on and on.  Also, I just don't like wine.  If I did, it might seem less heartless.  A pert young Bordeau with that Bardot?  A stern Riesling to accompany tonight's Conrad Veidt?  What, that's how wineys talk.

Anyway, rest well, Mr. Heard.  I didn't mean to be mean about your passing.  It's just how I am.  I thought you were swell in a thankless role in Awakenings.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Civility is back

John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer

"John McCain is an American hero and one of the bravest fighters I have ever known.  Cancer doesn't know what it's up against.  Give it hell, John."
                                 Barack Obama, former President of the United States

"Just. Fucking. Die. Already."

                                 Diana Orrick, Republican National Committeewoman from Nevada


You don't interview Donald Trump.  You just turn on the recorder and get out of his way.

In the course of a stream-of-consciousness performance transcribed by The New York Times (the irony, it stings!) he accused Barack Obama of "losing Crimea," repeated the official version of his secret chats with Putin in Hamburg (adopting Russian babies), threatened Robert Mueller if he insists on doing his job, threatened Jeff Sessions for not doing his job (protecting Trump from the consequences of his crimes), hinted that Rod Rosenstein is unreliable because he comes from Baltimore (I give up), and claimed he had been praised to orgasm by the media for the greatest speech ever given by any president ever on foreign soil (so much for Kennedy, Reagan and Obama in Berlin alone).  At this point I imagine the three Times reporters looked like the first-night audience at "Springtime for Hitler."  And then he moved in for the kill with this analysis of European history/summary of War and Peace:

"Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad...and his one problem is he didn't go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.  How many times has Russia been saved by the weather?  Also Hitler ran into some difficulties with the weather."

Did I say War and Peace?  I meant Carry On, Josephine.  The one where Kenneth Williams played Prince Andrei.  Excuse me, I have to re-calibrate my brain.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Annie got her gun

You probably spent the weekend worrying about the imminent collapse of American democracy, the millions whose access to health care is hanging by a thread, that Delaware-size iceberg that broke off Antarctica, the North Korean missile program, or some such trivia.  Maybe you spent it trying not to think about them.  The real news was being generated aboard a Delta flight from New York to Florida.  Ann Coulter didn't get the seat she wanted.  She spent hours studying the plane's design and selected her seat and paid an additional thirty dollars to get extra room for her equine legs -- in coach -- and then some functionary moved her bony ass over by the window and gave her aisle seat to this woman who is clearly non-Aryan --

and who moreover is "dachshund-legged" according to Coulter.  (This is a small taste of the noted author's Twitter rant, which went on for at least fifteen Tweets before I stopped reading.  The flight attendant was compared to Stanley Milgram, Nurse Ratchet [sic] and the East German Stasi, among others.)  You'd think she was dragged off the plane bleeding.

As an example of pissy entitlement opening itself to ridicule, I can't imagine a more exhilarating way to start the week.  The overworked term "snowflake" seems just right here.  But it also made me think about how I would have responded.  Should you lose your shit over a couple of inches of legroom?  If it's that important, there's always first class.  And it's New York to Florida, not across the Pacific.  Yeah, I would have been annoyed.  Probably I would already be pre-annoyed (to borrow from airline jargon) by the whole grim airport experience. 

This is why I do not use social media.  Apart from yelling (which is more or less a federal crime on a plane), it's the easiest way to vent your spleen.  Unfortunately, it's impossible to undo.  The woman who told so many others to quit complaining about their victimization is now a punchline for whining about a seat on a plane, and she has nobody else to blame.  If she had had to stop and think about it, take a deep breath, compose a letter or even a blog post, she wouldn't look like such a monumental ass now.  The social media, and in particular Twitter, with its 140 characters grab-your-phone-and-hit-send ethos, reveals us at our least thoughtful and most choleric.  Many more people would think better of Trump if not for his idiotic Tweets.  All right, some people.  What I'm saying is, not every thought that bubbles up in your head has to be digitized at once and for all time.

At least Coulter can spell, mostly.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Breaking news -- Trump was right!

  "This is the man who facilitated a meeting last year between Donald Trump, Jr, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer and Moscow insider, with the promise of information that 'would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.'" (The New York Times)

So this is the "four hundred pound guy on a bed" who hacked the Democratic National Committee's emails.  Unlike Jim and John Barron/Miller, he exists!  Other people have seen him!  He can be photographed!  I'm so excited I could crap.

Have an egg roll, Mr. Goldstone!  Put it on my tab.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

He's fallen in the water!

Isolated and confused at the G20, impotent in the face of the health care debacle, and confronted with irrefutable evidence that his high-quality son is as dumb as a bucket of sand, Trump has turned to his imaginary friend Jim for comfort and support.  As Erik Loomis explains at Lawyers, Guns & Money, Jim was with him (in spirit) during the glory days of the campaign, a fellow client of imaginary publicist John Barron or whatever his name was.  Jim is a man of means (Trump wouldn't know anyone else) who used to take his family to Paris every year, but not any more.  Nobody goes to Paris anymore, it's too crowded -- with the wrong people.  Bad hombres.  Muslims.  It's a hellhole like Brussels and Nice and Berlin and London and Manchester and all those other places that don't have walls around them.  (With the pound plummeting -- thanks, Brexit! -- even Joe the Plumber could afford Manchester right now, but I'll bet he's in Pittsburgh instead.)  Poor Jim.  Trump is in Paris but only because he's always making sacrifices for America, and also they promised he could watch a military parade tomorrow.  Since Bastille Day usually doesn't involve tanks and missiles, I think he'll be disappointed. 

Come on, where else are you going to find references to Yogi Berra and the Goon Show?  I do put some work into this.

A hundred years from today...

...nobody will believe this.

I especially like the secret decoder rings and the blue nail polish.  

"Get thee behind me, Hillary!  Three million illegal votes!  Fake news!  COVFEFE!!!"

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Send in the clowns!

And now, a man with a tape recorder up his nose.

The "president" nearly had to stay at the Hamburg YMCA because his crack staff -- the best people, believe me -- forgot to book a room.  If only the White House had some sort of "travel office" of people who do this sort of thing on a regular basis. 

World leaders were surprised to see the United States represented by a housewife with no education, training or experience in government and international affairs.  Then they decided Ivanka had just about as much to contribute as her daddy.  At least she didn't keep talking about John Podesta and Mika Brzezinski's facelift.

Vladimir Putin assured Trump he had no earthly idea who hacked the Democratic National Committee and state voter databases last year.  So that's that.  Meanwhile, Russians were busy hacking into American nuclear power stations.  Trump has spent most of his life in a clammy sweat that somebody somewhere might be laughing at him.  Yesterday Putin not only laughed at him, he dropped his trousers and mooned him.  What's the Russian for "cock holster"?

Very tough things happened to Poland during the second World War.  Very bad.  Did you know?  Nobody could have known.

Trump spent more than two hours with Putin and Lavrov.  Rex Tillerson was there to make sure they didn't get his wallet and watch.  As yet we don't know what "deliverables" were offered, but there is a rumor that Anchorage will soon be known as Putingrad.  This is in no way comparable to what happened in Munich in 1938.  Chamberlain did not give up the Sudetenland until Hitler demanded it. 

I was going to include the photo of Mike Pence slapping his hand on an exhibit of a space capsule labeled DO NOT TOUCH, but it was just too easy.  The Lab Rat has been musing about American domination of "the heavens," but it's not clear whether he's talking about some missile defense boondoggle or the theocracy he plans to impose as soon as the 25th Amendment is invoked.

Kim Jong-un has demanded that the G20 stop referring to him as "the elephant in the room."  He says he has a thyroid problem and also is big-boned.