Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Double helix

To demonstrate its unalterable opposition to racism -- I'm kidding, of course -- the House Republican leadership has relieved Steve King (NSDAP-IA) of all his committee assignments.  This will give him more free time to spend caucusing with European nationalists, since Mike Pompeo can't be everywhere.  They also passed a resolution of disapproval, which is not even censure, much less expulsion, so just stop complaining and enjoy the shutdown caused solely by King's co-racist in the Very White House.  So far, the House Republicans have shown no inclination to do anything about him.  Only two things of cultural importance ever occurred in Iowa -- Bix Beiderbecke was born there (Davenport) and Cary Grant died there (also Davenport).  (Yeah, Meredith Willson, one-show wonder.)  It still has Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, so the hell with it.

In other distancing-itself-from-racism news, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory announced that it is revoking all honors and privileges of ninety-year-old James Watson.  Back in 1962 he shared a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, but now he says Africans are inherently less intelligent than Europeans and much as he wishes the races were equal, "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true."  He says this out loud, as old folks tend to do.  I don't know how much time he actually spends at the lab, but now he can spend it being interviewed by Tucker Carlson and complaining about the loss of his right to free speech.  Come to think of it, Bill Maher is back this week; it's right up his street.

If you watch the electric network "news," which I do out of habit, you must be amazed at the coverage of Jayme Closs, the teenager who escaped from her kidnapper last week.  I'm glad she's alive and free and reasonably well, but is this really as momentous a story as the amount of airtime suggests?  NBC has already aired a one-hour prime time documentary in addition to five minutes on every broadcast.  At this point, they're interviewing people who know people who know her.  Good news is rare and welcome, but it's not the only feel-good story.  I'd love to see something about another teenager, Rafah al-Qunun, who fled her parents and an arranged marriage in Kuwait.  Saudi Arabia revoked her passport and ordered her home to the land of bone-saw justice; Thailand, where she was holed up in a Bangkok hotel, tried to deport her for having no passport or plane ticket.  After being refused entry to Australia, she has found asylum in Canada.  Two brave young women, two happy endings...maybe just a consequence of cost-cutting at the networks and the closure of their international bureaus.  Or maybe one of them doesn't reflect well on the US and its Saudi ally.

The temper-tantrum paralysis of the federal government stretches into its fourth week, but that didn't keep Trump from welcoming the Clemson Tigers football team to the White House for a banquet of junk food.  These are fit young men, so the occasional lunch of cheeseburgers, pizza and KFC won't do them any harm; if they're tempted to pig out on a regular basis, they should be deterred by getting a close look at their bloated host in his grotesque orange make-up.  Of course, the lack of regular staff is entirely the fault of those Democrats who refuse to capitulate negotiate over WALL, but I'm sure the players didn't mind disposing of their own Styrofoam and plastic trash.  Did you know Trump hasn't left the White House in a month?  He said so. This raises the disturbing possibility that there are two of him, because one of them was seen in Texas as recently as Thursday.  Many a dictator has employed a double, including Stalin, Hitler and Saddam Hussein, so be on the lookout for a guy in a fat suit with a yellow coonskin glued to his head.

Pizza -- there's nothing it can't do.  Canadian air traffic controllers have been sending pizza to their unpaid counterparts in the States as a gesture of solidarity, with pepperoni and mushrooms.  No broccoli or pineapple, that's just wrong.  I'm sure our people will return the favor if Canada ever loses the will to govern itself.  In the meantime we're sending it Rand Paul, ophthalmologist, libertarian, and senator who has compared national health coverage like Canada's to "slavery."  But that was before he was attacked by a neighbor and left with a hernia.  He's headed to an Ontario hospital that specializes in ouchies like this because apparently he can't find a surgeon he trusts in Kentucky.  While Doctor Senator Paul wants it known that he's paying the bill himself, he must know this hospital stays open because of Ontario taxpayers.  After he recovers, he should ask the other patients if they look forward to emancipation.  As an American who will spend the next two-and-a-half years paying for surgery last summer, I can tell him that freedom from universal health care is overrated.



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