Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Infrastructure Week

Well, are you sure it isn't?

Roseanne Barr had her sitcom cancelled by ABC after tweeting "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj" (Valerie Jarrett).  A few hours later Trump claimed Nancy Pelosi is a supporter of MS-13, but so far he still has a job.  It's all rather confusing, really.  Jarrett responded, "I'm fine," and suggested that Barr's vileness could be a "teaching moment."  She did not employ the phrase "fat facelifted cow" because she is much classier than I am.  Why Valerie Jarrett?  Apparently she is the Trotsky to Obama's Lenin as he plots to overthrow Trump, according to one of the batshit conspiracy sites which provide most of Barr's mental sustenance.  Sensing that she may have stepped on one rake too many, Barr blamed her tweet on Ambien, which led the manufacturer to respond, "Racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."  It's not known what she was taking in 2013 when she wrote, "susan rice is a man with big swinging ape balls."

The search for Melania Trump (or "Melanie," as her husband calls her) continues, a week after she underwent a "benign kidney procedure" and most definitely not an emergency D&C, wink-wink.  Pregnancy can be awkward to explain when you are married to a Propecia addict who has been impotent for years.  Or as Melanie would say, "BE BESTARD."  This blog supports the right of any woman to choose whether or not to have a baby, even if her husband is determined to deny that right to as many of the world's women as possible because the evangelicals own all the bits of him that Putin doesn't want.

Thousands of Starbucks closed yesterday so the employees could be taught how not to be racist. This took all of three hours, so the rest of the country has no excuse.

Wave bye-bye to Eric Greidens, "rising star" of the GOP, ex-Navy SEAL and as of tomorrow, ex-governor of Missouri.  Facing felony charges and impeachment, he quit.  Bye-bye, Eric!  Have you got the number for Fox News?  I'll bet you have.

Say hello to Herman Cain!  Mr. Nine-nine-nine is back, telling the aforesaid Fox News that ABC was just looking for a reason to cancel its top-rated money-spinner, ROSEANNE.  Because that's how television networks stay in business.  And to think, Herman could have been president.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine says that as many as 4,600 people may have died as a result of Hurricane Maria.  But they were all Puerto Ricans.  The 2018 hurricane season has already kicked off, with Tropical Storm Alberto drenching the Gulf Coast.  FEMA has ordered extra paper towels for Trump to throw.

Someone else who still  works in the White House is Kelly Sadler, whose witty observation about John McCain ("Who cares?  He's dying anyway") took up most of a news day.  Why would she be fired for saying something vicious and cruel, when she was hired for that very skill?  Meanwhile, the hunt for whoever leaked her words continues.  John Kelly may require all staffers to work naked, to prevent them using unauthorized cell phones.  Cavity searches are next.  It's not Obama's West Wing.

As the attacks on Robert Mueller grow noisier and more demented, I want to share a tweet from friend of the blog (just kidding) Newt Gingrich:  "Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel.  His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity.  Media should now calm down."  (May 18, 2017)

You heard the man.  Calm down!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A history lesson

Memorial Day is about the dead.  Its original name was Decoration Day, when people went to cemeteries to clear away winter debris and decorate soldiers' graves with spring flowers; that's why it happens in May.  Decoration Day began after the Civil War because thousands of soldiers were buried far from home, with no family members to tend their graves.  The task was assumed by local people, usually women.

Whatever else it has become -- the beginning of summer, the occasion for an appliance sale, an auto race or the end of a three-day weekend -- Memorial Day is still about the dead.  It is not the time for a semi-literate tweet bragging about the economy and finishing "Nice!"  More like this:

"We can never truly repay the debt we owe our fallen heroes.  But we can remember them, honor their sacrifice, and affirm in our own lives the enduring ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity for which generations of Americans have given that last full measure of devotion."

Typical Obama -- has to plagiarize Lincoln.  Why does he hate America?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Book ends

There will be no Nobel Prize in literature this year, because of a sexual harassment scandal involving the husband of a member of the Swedish Academy.  If that makes very little sense, neither does the prize itself.  A short list of writers who never won it would include Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka (all right, most of his work was published posthumously), Henry James, Mark Twain, Anton Chekhov, W.E.B. DuBois, Willa Cather, and now sadly Philip Roth -- all being read and taught and argued about, all landmarks on the royal road of literature.  The long list of winners would make you smirk, or just wonder who the hell most of them are.

I don't suppose very many Americans felt something go out of our lives when Roth and Tom Wolfe, opposite in so many ways, died within a week of each other.  Critically acclaimed and derided about equally, they sold a lot of books ("units"), the real measure of success in their native land, but nothing like the product moved by Dan Brown or Stephen King, much less movies and music.  (Acknowledging the primacy of electronic entertainment, the Academy honored Bob Dylan two years ago, so this year's laureate may well have been Woody Allen or Aaron Sorkin.)  Did they matter to any but the despised "elites" who still read fiction, or even watch the movies derived from books, other than comic books?  Are books over, apart from the narrative-heavy tales read by actors and absorbed on the treadmill at the gym?

Yet novels are published -- excuse me, released -- every day, and they sit on the shelves of libraries and bookstores waiting for something to propel them into our crowded lives, as Trump-Pence misogyny turned a spotlight on The Handmaid's Tale.  Of course, people are reading 1984, too; must a dystopian nightmare come true before we pick up a book?  Roth's The Plot Against America has  been much discussed in the past year.  I hope he derived some grim satisfaction from that.  (Nobody seems to be reading It Can't Happen Here, by Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis.)

It made me sad to see a news item about children being taught to write letters, with a pen and a piece of paper, in cursive script, which was as alien to them as Linear B.  This was treated as an accomplishment of the leisured, like embroidery or piano lessons in an earlier time.  No doubt Thorstein Veblen has something trenchant to say about this kind of thing.  Does anybody read him anymore?    

Be afraid

These are some expatriate citizens arriving at Dublin Airport yesterday to vote in the referendum on legalizing abortion in Ireland.  From their faces, I would guess they voted "yes."  It passed, overwhelmingly.  Look at them, misogynists.  Your time is up.

There are going to be some angry sermons this week.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The great orange hype

Jack Johnson was perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time, especially since his career fell between the Civil War and World War I.  He faced a level of danger and rage that was far more virulent than even Muhammad Ali had to face, and he did so with an insouciance that made the haters lose their shit, reveling in his wealth and dating white women when that was a lynchable offence everywhere in the United States.  To use him as a cynical prop should make a sinkhole open up under your front lawn.

Seventy-two years after his death and 105 years after his conviction under the Mann Act, Johnson was pardoned by "the least racist person you will ever meet" (his own hilarious self-description), at the urging of a mediocre actor who became famous for playing a boxer -- actually, the same boxer over and over.  And since everything is an occasion to score points off Barack Obama, he had to point out that Congress recommended the pardon in 2015.  What he failed to mention is that Obama chose not to sign because of allegations of domestic abuse against Johnson, clearly not a problem for the pussy-grabbing, evangelical-pandering adulterer.  Not a racist!  Not a racist!  Obama's the racist!  Why let this opportunity go to waste?  Let's get Kanye to tell him to pardon Marcus Garvey.

It was a needed distraction from yet another week of failure, most notably the cancelled Singapore Spring Fling with Kim Jong-un.  As I see it, even the thick-witted Teabagger Pompeo realized that nothing good could come of this and started a rumor that Kim was afraid of a coup while he was out of the country.  Then Pence and Bolton began yammering about Libya and Qaddafi, which is exactly how every Kim-class thug does not want to end his career, and finally Trump jumped in and said it was his idea to cancel the party.  What to do with all the commemorative coins he already ordered, at taxpayer expense?  Keep an eye on the Home Shopping Network.  And kiss that Nobel goodbye.  The intelligence professionals Trump despises are pretty sure Kim's nuclear program ended in catastrophe a few months back, but not to worry -- Trump's bluster about America's destructive capacity will have it up again in no time.  So much winning.

I'm not sure if I believe in coincidence, but I am sure our friends at the NFL chose the wrong week to decree that all players on the field must stand for the national anthem.  Freedom of speech is unnecessary, racist police are ghosts of the past.  Except, no.  Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown pulled into a drugstore parking lot at 2 am and parked in two spots designated for drivers with disabilities.  When he came out, no fewer than six police were jumping out of their vee-hicles, Tasers and guns at the ready.  (To be fair, Brown was wearing a hoodie.  It was cold.)  The Milwaukee Police Department, still trying to live down its "Car 54" treatment of Jeffrey Dahmer a generation ago, has obviously adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward parking violations.  Brown was yelled at, Tased, handcuffed and thrown to the ground.  The police chief has apologized, but clearly it's time for NBA players to start taking a knee.  Hell, lacrosse players, tennis players, World Series of Poker players.

Because even as this news broke, we were learning about Cody Meredith of Taylor, Michigan, then eighteen, who was beaten and arrested for turning into his own driveway without using a turn signal.  He's still alive, and suing, which counts as a good outcome.  The culture seems to be signaling that maybe it's better if black people don't drive at all.  Or use public parks.  Or shop.  What comes next?  I wonder if the Nuremberg Laws are online somewhere.

Over in the realm of freelance racism we find a familiar face:  George Zimmerman is broke.  He says he's millions of dollars in debt because, well, he doesn't have a job and he's being sued by the private investigator he harassed, who's making a movie about Trayvon Martin.  He had no luck selling the gun he used to kill Martin (I can't believe the cops gave it back to him, but -- Florida). He keeps getting arrested.  He needs a public defender.  Sad is not the word.  What is the word?  Oh.  Yeah.  Karma.

Update:  Just when you thought the presidency could not be degraded any further, it is being reported that the Johnson pardon was a stunt to publicize a new Stallone movie.  Ka-ching!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kiss kiss, bang bang

Erstwhile felon Oliver North hit the ground running as the new president of the Murder Lobby -- ten dead and ten wounded at Santa Fe High School in Texas.  It was his duty to get out there and defend unregulated gun ownership as the glory of the republic, and he did not disappoint.  Naturally those kids at Parkland had already weighed in, so Ollie dismissed them as "dupes."

Chris Wallace:  Who is using the Parkland students?

North:  We know that -- we know what Mayor Bloomberg is up to.  We know what George Soros has funded.  I mean, in our business, his creations have gone after you, me, and everybody else.

Let's break that down.  "In our business" -- until last month Ollie labored alongside Wallace at Official People's Fox News, and it's hard to break the habit.  "What Mayor Bloomberg is up to" sounds appropriately sinister; what exactly is he up to?  Never mind.  We know.  George Soros is the all-purpose bogeyman/paymaster of the nut right.  He might as well change his name to Rothschild and be done with it.  By "his creations" I assume he means "creatures," unless Soros has branched out into couture.  ("Who are you wearing?"  "George Soros, and the shoes are by Jeremy Corbyn.")  But by no means was Ollie attacking the Parkland survivors by saying they're too dumb to reach their own conclusions about mass murder.

Never mind, he's new.  Not like Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who studied Santa Fe High School for eleven seconds and put his finger on the problem:  too many doors.  The shooter, another of these white guys who thinks he's entitled to sex or to shoot any girl who won't provide it -- and nineteen other people just to drive home the point -- had his choice of entrances.  Eliminate all but one, and the problem goes away.  (I can't be the only person who instantly thought of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company.)  Tell me, Dan, when someone who has opted for the Second Amendment solution to his dating problems enters your kid's school armed for combat, do you really want said gunman to be between Dan Junior and the only door?  You haven't really thought about this,  have you?  And why am I trying to reason with a Texas Republican?

Notice how I'm not including this murderer's name.  Enough is enough.  


Se habla espanol

Hey, kids!  Want to know a sure-fire way to make Rightzi heads explode?  Talk Spanish.  Last week a New York City lawyer named Aaron Schlossberg went seriously apeshit when he heard two women speaking Spanish in a restaurant.  Forgetting that everyone now has a camera at the ready, the counselor ranted that they were probably on welfare and in any case were certainly breaking some kind of law by talking to each other in a language he couldn't understand.  His outburst was zooming through cyberspace within seconds and,  New York being New York, creative outrage ensued.  A GoFundMe was established and over-subscribed before Schlossberg got back to his Madison Avenue office, and when he went home, a Mariachi band had been engaged to serenade him.  Then a taco truck arrived, and it was a fiesta.  Not so much for the lawyer, whose landlord promptly evicted him from his office.  Before that happened, someone called the office and got "To continue in Spanish, press 'one,' for Chinese press 'two'" and so on.  Good laugh.  I'm guessing he's not an immigration lawyer.

Yesterday a Border Patrol officer in Havre, Montana, population fewer than a Mariachi band, leapt into action when he heard two women speaking Spanish in a convenience store.  He demanded "papers, please" from the women, one born in California, the other in Texas.  I assume both were able to satisfy him, because they were not put on a bus to Tijuana with the other "animals" (Trump's word, not mine).  Doesn't everyone carry a passport and a birth certificate when making a late-night milk run?  Well, maybe they should.

The rising tide of stupidity and racism is lifting all boats to levels not seen since Reconstruction.  People with fuck-all else to do will call the cops on anybody moving into an apartment, sleeping in a common room, grilling in a park, sitting in a coffee shop, leaving an AirB&B, driving, shopping or standing still while black.  Idiots with badges will harass you for talking or just looking like you don't belong here, in their opinion.  Who needs the Klan when ICE, Border Patrol and local cops will do what night riders with torches used to do?  Probably for a bonus and a promotion, too.

I studied Spanish in junior high school, and I wish I remembered more of it.  My high school Italian is a little better, and the people who carry signs that say RESPECT ARE COUNTRY, SPEAK ENGLISH probably can't tell the difference anyway.  It is important to converse in other languages when in public places, not just to out the Schlossbergs but to signal our continuing relationship to a world that increasingly, and justifiably, sees us as the planet's largest madhouse.  And yeah, as Sarah Palin would say, it makes their heads keep 'splodin'.  Just be sure your papers are in order.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Hawaii Volcano Eruption 2018

This has been going on in Hawaii for over a week.  No fatalities, but lots of homes destroyed and thousands of people worried about just breathing.  But Hawaii is far away and surrounded by water -- big water -- so Donald Chump has devoted his attention to Afghanistan, "Witch Hunt," traitorous leaks, the Nobel Peace Prize, ZTE, Amazon, NO COLLUSION, Jerusalem and his nightly what're-ya-wearin' chat with Sean Hannity.  He may not know Hawaii is a state.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I love New York

Friday, May 11, 2018

Drop by drop

I'm so old, I can remember when drug addiction was an urban crime problem, and the solution was more prisons and longer sentences.  Now that drugs permeate the white suburbs, it's a public health crisis.  The solution seems to be therapy, counseling, and even designated places where addicts can fix in safety, complete with clean needles.  Where's my Billie Holiday album?

There's a cable movie about Mark Felt, a/k/a "Deep Throat" of Watergate fame.  I don't know what Felt looked like, but the makeup and wig they put on Liam Neeson make him a dead ringer for Robert Mueller.  I'm sure it's a coincidence.

John McCain has barred Trump from his funeral.  He needn't worry.  Trump doesn't show up for any event where he isn't the center of attention.

Franklin Graham, heir to the Graham religion business, says Trump's flagrant adultery is nobody's concern.  With evangelicals like that, the atheists will soon be unemployed.

Jeff Bezos probably wishes he had hired Michael Cohen to "advise" him about the vagaries of the new administration.  Like AT&T, Novartis and the rest, who know the best way to live with thugs is to pay the extortion money.  I'm sure they do it in other shithole countries.

Go right now and read Ben Taub's "The Spy Who Came Home" in the May 7 New Yorker.  It will tell you exactly what's wrong with urban American policing, not to mention the "war on terror."

Provoking demonstrations in Gaza and a potential war between Israel and Iran seems a bizarre path to the Nobel Prize that Trump covets.  Provoking them for no reason except hatred of Obama and a need to kiss the ass of his fellow corrupt politician Netanyahu seems beyond insane.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Like Scaramooch, he screw-a da pooch

Last week Michael Skakel (always described in journalese shorthand as "Kennedy cousin," although he's Ethel Kennedy's nephew) was released from prison when a judge agreed that his belated murder conviction involved incompetent legal representation.  I don't know who his mouthpiece was, but she or he must have been Clarence Fucking Darrow compared to the loose aggregation of legal "minds" willing to work for Trump.  Ty Cobb announced his retirement in the middle of the highest profile case of his life, and if you can believe that, you will want to welcome his replacement, none other than Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Apart from his habit of talking too loudly in restaurants frequented by reporters (a clever tactic? we'll never know), and that 1890s mustache, Cobb kept a low profile.  Rudolph doesn't know how to do that.  It is said that the camera loves some faces -- Garbo's, for example.  No one would say that about Rudolph's sunken visage, reptilian eyes and obvious fake teeth, but he sure loves the camera.  He is visibly aroused by once again being looked at and considered important.  The result has been a smorgasbord of incompetence so obvious, it's like a vaudeville sketch -- "Pay the two dollars!" the client implores as he's hauled off to serve hard time.  If Trump weren't even stupider than Giuliani, I would suspect him of lining up a Skakel defense.   No, Trump makes excuses for him and his failure to master the ever-changing torrent of lies that constitutes his NO COLLUSION fantasies.  Rudolph is loyal.  Rudolph won't sell him out to save himself, like Cohen and Papadopoulos and Flynn and whoever is next.

Rule 1:  Get together on a story and stick to it.

(and props to Louis Prima)

Friday, May 04, 2018

Thoughts on prayers

It's the Thursday between Mayday and the Kentucky Derby and that can only mean one thing:  National Prayer Day!  And why crowd into a gloomy church when the White House Rose Garden is available for rent at reasonable rates?  Everything is about Trump, even a day ostensibly dedicated to the Imaginary Sky Wizard, so he pointed out to the assembled believers, "You notice the big difference between now and two or three years ago, right?"  As a matter of fact, yes.  Two or three years ago...

The Environmental Protection Agency protected the environment.

Nobody was prosecuted for laughing at the Attorney General.

The President was not being sued by even one woman, much less twenty-seven, for sexual harassment.

There was no need for a special prosecutor.

Puerto Rico had electricity.

The White House chief of staff never described his boss as a moron.  Or an idiot.

Reporters were not threatened by members of the administration.

Policy was not made by an impotent, ignorant slob tweeting on the toilet.

Perjury was still a crime, not a qualification for a Cabinet post.

The United States had a functioning State Department.

Iran was not on the verge of resuming its nuclear weapons development.

Only porn enthusiasts had heard of Stormy Daniels.

America was not a punch line.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Attica! Attica!

I hate zoos.  When I was little I hated how they smelled, and when I got older I hated their exploitative  existence.  The last time I set foot in one was in college, for some idiot biology paper.  They are prisons for innocent animals, where other animals pay to gawk and torment and feel superior.  They began as places where kings could show off their wealth and their global reach by astonishing their subjects with giraffes and tigers.   These animals should be replaced with holograms or IMAX or something.*

As exhibit A, I submit the Calgary Zoo, clearly the Parchman Prison of zoos.  According to today's Guardian, seven Humboldt penguins were discovered drowned in a temporary holding pool, apparently the result of "a state of panic," whatever that means.  Last February an otter drowned after getting tangled in a pair of pants some zookeeper thought would be an amusing toy.  Penguins and otters, left to their own devices, do pretty well in and around water.

The place has a murderous history.  In 2009 a capybara (big rodent) was crushed to death by a hydraulic door.  In a probably unrelated incident, a gorilla took a knife away from a keeper and menaced the "humans."  (We don't need no steenking opposable thumbs!)  In 2008 41 stingrays died because their tank was insufficiently oxygenated.  That's a lot of stingrays.  The year before that, a hippo died after being brought from the Denver Zoo for an "international breeding program."  I hope it had some fun first.

The last thing I remember from my day at the Bronx Zoo is the expression on the gorilla's face as he watched me watching him.  It was unbearably sad.  I went home.  He didn't.


*One of my favorite movies is Turtle Diary, where two people kidnap some sea turtles from the London Zoo, drive to the coast and return them to the sea.   Don't bother to look for it on cable -- it has no zombies.