Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Satire, how does it work?

National treasure Randy Newman is 75 today.  Happy birthday, Randy!  We have a problem.

Remember when you had a rare top-40 hit with "Short People" back in 1977?  Some listeners, lacking a sense of humor as well as height, or perhaps just unfamiliar with your other songs, failed to understand that this was a non-didactic attack on prejudice.  You could say it went over their heads.  And you had to explain that you, a tall person, do not hate short people and that they do indeed have a reason to live.  Although for me, life without a sense of humor is not worth living, but anyway.

The issue has come up now because that...occupant of the White House gave another of his Sundown Sermons to the Washington Post.  I have no idea why, since he hates all real newspapers and especially the Post, which is owned by a self-made billionaire who won't tell him how you do that, even with huge piles of daddy-cash.  Amid the tangle of lies, fantasies, boasts and incoherence that have become depressingly familiar, he let slip that he doesn't want to appoint Janet Yellen to a second term as chair of the Federal Reserve because she is only 5 feet 2 inches tall.  We know that "little" is a term of abuse with this jerk -- "Little Marco," "Little Bob Corker," etc. -- which is probably just the result of having a second-grade vocabulary.  But what if "Short People" was on the radio one night as the limo sped him to Studio 54 and it lodged in his already disordered brain -- "they got little hands, little eyes, they walk around telling nasty little lies" -- remember, Spy was already calling him "short-fingered" -- and it's still in there?   How would you like to be responsible for the Federal Reserve being turned over to another Cabinet-level fuckwit who will assume his assignment is to do to the economy what Carson is doing to public housing and DeVos to public education and -- oh, lordy, I don't even want to think about the rest of them?  How about that, Mr. Birthday?

Jesus, what if Trump heard "Political Science"?  Right after the "inauguration" he was demanding to know why we have nuclear weapons if we never use them.  "Let's drop the big one and see what happens" -- are you prepared to stand behind those words, Mr. Funny Song Writer?

I know.  In 1977 Jimmy Carter was president and the Democrats controlled Congress and it seemed as if reason and law were in the post-Watergate saddle forever.  You could afford to be a little edgy, a little oblique and tricky with the lyrics.  What sane person could have imagined Trump, even with the drugs available in those days?

It's not just you, Mr. Newman.  If someone re-printed A Modest Proposal and substituted "black" for "Irish," there would be riots, and not only because Swift is not taught in our high schools as he should be.  Any number of Republicans, Proud Boys, Fox News pundits and MAGAts would hail it as the solution to most of our national problems.  The people at are exhausted from researching every quote to see if it originated with Stephen Miller or The Onion.  I don't know about you but I'm tired of living in a world where everything is at least plausible.  Remember the Caravan of Doom that posed such an existential threat before the election?  I'm pretty sure the part about refugees having leprosy originated with some zany blog like this one.  Leprosy in 2018 Honduras -- but some charlies bought it.

So enjoy your birthday.  I mean it.  This is not your fault.  And you are a national treasure.


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