Friday, May 31, 2019

Freedom gas

I was going to call it "just another scumbag," which is apparently the way Steve Bannon now refers to Trump -- nobody can hate like a disillusioned lover, huh? -- but then one of Rick Perry's lackeys at the Energy Department came up with "freedom gas" to describe the natural gas he hopes to export to a power-hungry world so all those fracking-related earthquakes in Oklahoma won't be in vain.  And what about the beautiful, clean coal?  Maybe aircraft carriers, where Trump wants "steam-powered catapults" instead of those newfangled electronic ones.  We're so lucky to have a stable genius who understands everything from aircraft to firefighting to horseracing.  How did we get so lucky?  Robert Mueller has a few theories...

You know it's bad when even I feel sorry for Trump's base of rural white racists.  Farmers struggling to survive his idiotic trade war with China are being pummeled by catastrophic weather in the midst of planting season.  As if the hail, floods and tornadoes aren't enough, they are also being pummeled by a tiny handful of Republican congressman who are holding up the $19 billion aid package that took months to pass, because it doesn't provide for WALL.  That would be Chip Roy of Texas and his little buddies Alex Mooney (WV) and Thomas Massie (KY) -- not too much agra in those states, I guess.  How much of a manure heap do you have to be for Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) to call you "pathetic"?  Well, now we know.  The bill will pass, of course, but on a roll call vote, so this is just childish spite.  Speaking of which, FEMA is refusing to reimburse California the money it spent fighting fires on federal land last year until they see the receipts -- in case Gavin Newsom tried to slip a couple of lunches and a haircut in there.  Trump really hates California and has cancelled funding for a high-speed rail project in the state, too.   That'll show Crazy Nancy.

The detention camps and baby jails are filling up, so Trump plans to punish Mexico for not stopping the asylum seekers somehow.  Maybe by building their own baby jails.  Yes, in case you woke up and thought, "What the fuck is happening to the stock market now?" it's a new tariff on Mexican imports which will screw US auto manufacturers, clothing retailers, and anybody who buys tomatoes, avocados, strawberries and a range of other foods and beverages.  That'll show Mexico.  I'm sure everyone from Larry Kudlow to the White House gardener has had a turn at explaining how tariffs work, but with someone who never listens to anything but praise and doesn't even understand much of that, what's the point?

It's no surprise that President Snitbaby gets the worst legal advice since Bosey Douglas urged Oscar Wilde to sue Queensberry for slander.  Robert Mueller used lawyerly language in his report and in his press conference, but everyone of average intelligence heard, "If he was blameless I would have said so, all right?"  Individual 1's response has been a non-stop howl of "NO COLLUSION WITCH HUNT TREASON" and a promised "investigation" of all the plotters and haters.  He shits himself when a reporter yells "impeachment" over the helicopter engines, which is the only way they can ask questions, and he seems to have decided the Supreme Court will save him.  Apparently Alan Dershowitz, whose own sanity must be questioned, told him the SCOTUS can somehow nullify an impeachment based on incorrect facts or something.  The Dersh did sterling work for Klaus von Bulow and O.J. Simpson, so maybe he wants to replace Giuliani as First Consigliere, which would give him a hat-trick of sleazebag clients.  When impeachment does come -- there's no longer any "if" -- no doubt the response will be a lawsuit, which has been the basic Trump business model ever since he got demented Fred to hand over the company.  The real estate hustle has never been played at this level before.


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

State visit, second class

When you visit a country, tell the head of state how much of an honor you are doing him, spend most of your time praising the leader of the country's mortal enemy and the rest playing golf and attacking your political opponents back home, be advised:  Other countries can see you.  In real time.

So it was that Trump's Japan Adventure has already brought consequences.  Britain couldn't tell him to sod off, but it announced changes to his trip next week which are clearly intended to make him announce an "emergy" and cancel.   He won't be getting a carriage ride with the queen "for security reasons," which surely have nothing to do with her desire to spend as little time in his presence as possible.  (You don't keep monarchs waiting.  You don't walk in front of them while reviewing an honor guard.)  He won't be staying in Buckingham Palace due to "renovations" (the place has about four hundred rooms, but Central Services is replacing all the ducts at once).  Best of all, he won't be invited to address the House of Commons, with the Speaker, John Bercow, citing the government's "opposition to racism and to sexism."  He will meet some royalty but not the Duchess of Sussex, who is even more opposed to racism and sexism (official excuse:  she just had a baby).  Cadet Bone Spurs will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown in Westminster Abbey, but the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 is, like the invasion itself, dependent on the weather.  As we know, Trump cannot operate an umbrella and dislikes having his 'do dampened.

Trump can still cause all kinds of trouble and strife (yes, the First Escort is going), but unless he's as stupid as he looks and sounds, Boris Johnson will find some reason to be out of the country for this shitshow.  I'm not saying he's unpopular.  I'm saying that if Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, accidentally dropped a pot of scalding coffee on his crotch, opposition to her becoming queen would melt away.

Information needed

Why are some Navy crewmen wearing a patch of young Ricky Nelson on their uniforms?  And why does he have a red clown nose?  This is more mysterious than Q.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sidesaddle? Really?

Jeebus on a dino

From Kinfucky Kentucky comes news that Ken Ham is seeking an insurance payment for -- wait for it -- water damage to his Noah's Ark exhibit.  Apparently he insured it for fire, not flood.  Bad decision, Ken.  Read your Bible.

Comedy tonight!

Saturday Night Live is on hiatus, so the clowns in Washington are producing a summer replacement called The Trump Administration.  Live television has all sorts of problems but these people are much better at it than the ones involved in the All In the Family/Jeffersons stunt on Wednesday.  For one thing, the writing is pee-your-pants funny.

Tuesday the always reliable Ben Carson starred in a sketch with Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) asking him about REOs (short for "real estate owned," meaning a property has gone to foreclosure.  "Oreos?" the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development responded.  Straight-woman Porter patiently explained the term but he clearly didn't get it until he was safely back in his office and someone drew him a picture.  Then he sent a snide note and a package of cookies to the Congresswoman.  His staff giggled and whispered but never told him that "Oreo cookie" is a derogatory term for someone who is "black on the outside, white on the inside."  (See Tom, Uncle.)
Different staff people pointed out that after only two and a half years, Carson is still learning about his job.  After all, it's not brain surgery.

Next up was "Infrastructure Week Kabuki," based on the samurai character played long ago by John Belushi.  In this recurring bit, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi go to the White House to discuss desperately needed repairs to bridges, dams, roads and tunnels, and Trump finds an excuse to yell at them and waddle out.  It turns out that he does not like having his crimes investigated by anyone except Devin Nunes and Lindsey Graham, and refuses to do any presidenting until the "harassment" stops.  Then he goes out in the yard and tells everybody how badly they treat him for his NO COLLUSION, and how much money Robert Mueller has spent (considerably less than he has confiscated from Paul Manafort alone), and all about the Democrats' lack of "achomplishments."  (He brought along a comedy prop in the form of a "note to self," and by four o'clock this one had been added to "wire tapps," "unpresidented," and the still-mysterious "covfefe.")

Speaker Pelosi then pulled her velvet glove over her iron fist and held her own press conference, expressing grandmotherly concern for Trump's obvious derangement and promising to pray for him and for America.  The response was predictably batshit.  He brought out some of his handmaidens and a little snit called Gidney Cloyd or some such, and one by one they testified to the statesmanlike serenity of the "very stable genius."  Sensing that this would not work, someone monkeyed with a recording of a Pelosi speech to make her seem to be slurring and posted it on the unmediated social media, while Trump insisted that "she's lost it" and she just doesn't understand what's going on, being a woman and all.  By nightfall, "I call her Nancy" had become "Crazy Nancy" who had probably contracted brain disease/Parkinson's/bad magumbo from Hillary Clinton.

Only one comedian could follow that:  Rudolph Giuliani!  Apparently Trump Neologism Psychosis is catching, because Mayor 9/11 tweeted:  "ivesssapology for a video which is allegedly is a caricature of an otherwise halting speech pattern.  she should first stop and apologize for saying the President needs an intervention."  He types as good as he talks, but we won't get the full joyous effect until he goes on the Sunday shows to scold "people who live in glath houtheth…" Besides, Trump is way past an intervention.  At this point, it would be like writing a parking ticket for David Berkowitz.

This week guest host Robert Mueller testifies in a private session of the House Judiciary Committee. The comic possibilities are endless.  Lorne Michaels needs to step up his game.

NB:  I am told that Gidney and Cloyd were moon men on "Rocky and Bullwinkle."  The guy in the White House is presumably someone else.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Pointless museum in brainless state

Think of it as P.T. Barnum with CGI.

There is a corner of Tennessee that would embarrass even Matthew Harrison Brady, the bloviating nemesis of evolutionary theory in Inherit the Wind.  In Pigeon Forge, within hymn-shouting distance of the Biblical Times Dinner Theater, Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud, and of course Dollywood -- which in this context is practically the Bayreuth Festival -- stands "National Enquirer Live!"  Starting tomorrow, punters can gawk at 3-D representations of Elvis in his open casket, the moon landing (fake!), Bigfoot (real!) the JFK assassination (is that Rafael Cruz, Sr?), and John Edwards's love-child (not Strom Thurmond's).  But the longest line, I'm guessing, will be for the Princess Diana death tunnel re-creation, after which you can vote for the conspiracy theory you prefer.  Was she pregnant?  Was she murdered?  Was she pregnant and murdered?  Can't decide?  Get in line and see it again.  It's all included in the admission price of $24.99 -- $18.99 for children.

So where is the basement of Comet Ping Pong?  Why aren't they featuring Hillary's alien baby, which I believe was an Enquirer exclusive?   What about the murder of Vince Foster?  I would expect them all to be featured in a sort of Haunted Hillary House.  Who engineered the cover-up?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Everybody has a right to believe something idiotic.  Derek Jacobi, a great classical actor and a graduate of Cambridge, has signed on with the anti-Stratfordians, a cult founded by the American crackpot Ignatius Donnelly.   Edmund Hilary made many trips to Nepal to look for the Abominable Snowman.  Arthur Conan Doyle went in for spiritualism.  This sort of thing is harmless except to one's own reputation, as harmless as gluing a fish tail to a mummified monkey and calling it a mermaid.  The suggestible will pay a lot to be fooled -- Barnum charged only a dime.  But there is a line between bullshit and slander,  and monetizing ignorance can have terrible consequences.  The ignorant get to vote.      

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Querulous Rex?

Fasten your seatbelts.  It's going to be a bumpy night.

The Daily Beast reports that Rex Tillerson slipped into the Capitol today, possibly in disguise, to have a chat with the House Foreign Relations Committee.  Trivia mavens will recall that Tillerson was Secretary of State way back in 2017-18.  Before that he ran Exxon Mobil, which Trump figured would qualify him to run American foreign policy.  He was also the director of Exxon Neftegas, a US-Russia oil company.  And he used an alias and fake emails (which mysteriously disappeared) to resist an investigation by the New York attorney general.  During his tenure, more than half this country's career diplomats quit, and applications fell by half.  He seemed perfect, right up until Michael Wolff quoted him calling Trump "a fucking moron."

Nobody knows what Tillerson told the committee, but the impending tweet-storm should dwarf the tornadoes and floods currently assaulting the Midwest.  Tillerson has kept a low profile since his firing/resignation, apart from a conference last year in Houston.  There he revealed, unsurprisingly, that he was frequently given orders and replied, "Mr. President, I understand what you want to do but I can't do it that way.   It violates the law."  For this quaint approach,  he found himself back in the private sector.  He's what the Trumpistas sneeringly call a "Constitutionalist."  What do you expect from a member of the Eagle Scouts Hall of Fame?

For those playing shitter-twitter bingo, look for the following words and phrases:  incompetent,  disloyal, not a fan, low IQ, deep state, loser, Crazy Rex.  Unless he stonewalled, but then why show up at all?  It's not as if the Democrats have shown much willingness to perp-walk Barr, Mnuchin, McGahn and the rest of the criminals.  Wouldn't it be a gas if the irresistible impetus for impeachment comes from the Foreign Relations committee rather than Judiciary, Banking or Intelligence?


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Elder abuse

As if I don't have enough to do, now I have to revise my opinion of Fran Lebowitz.

Friday on Real Time With Who Cares, Lebowitz stated that Joe Biden (76) and Bernie Sanders(77) are "both way too old" to succeed Trump (72).  "These guys are too old to drive," she added dismissively.

I probably would have let it go, but it followed closely on the death, at 103, of Herman Wouk, who published the last of his many books at the age of 97.  A few weeks ago Lawrence Ferlinghetti published a book on his hundredth birthday.  Lebowitz, who is 68, hasn't written anything since the 1980s, apart from a children's book she co-wrote.

On the same show, Lebowitz suggested that Trump be vivisected by his Saudi friends with the same bone saws they used on Jamal Khashoggi.  This witticism provoked outrage from the trumpistas, and she promptly apologized.  But nobody tweeted death threats over her outrageous age-ism, because we old people are too polite for that.

So, from one 68-year-old to another, in the words of your charming host, "Fuck you."

Neither Biden nor Sanders is my first choice, for reasons that have nothing to do with their prostates or their white hair.  I'm not burning my copy of Social Studies because only morons burn books and I can't find it anyway.  If Biden is nominated, I'll vote for him.  I'd vote for Zippy the Pinhead over Trump.  I'd vote for the Brother From Another Planet if he wasn't from another planet.  I don't make decisions based on age.  I won't slam old people for cheap laughs.  So fuck off and write something or shut up.  Right now all you are is a bit player on Law & Order, and not even recently.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

It's all true

A Missouri legislator introduces the concept of "consensual rape."

As officials talk up war with Iran/Venezuela/Your country here, and American troops are shuttled around the world, the Department of Defense's now-annual press briefing is conducted by Gene Simmons of KISS.

Pat Robertson thinks the Alabama anti-abortion law is bad.  Not because he gives a damn about the rights of women, but because it's so viciously misogynistic it might not be upheld even by the Roberts-Gorsick-Boofer Supreme Court.

Mark Morgan, newly appointed head of the ICEstapo, says he can tell if a boy will grow up to join the MS-13 gang ("I've looked at their eyes, Tucker").  The captives he studied traveled two thousand miles to escape MS-13, but they're Salvadoran and it's their genetic destiny.

Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly are hustling a 14-day cruise around the eastern Mediterranean to explore "the roots of Western civilization."  Islam will not be included.

Western civilization continues its assault on Africa.  A New Jersey cleric named Robert Baldwin has set up a mission in Uganda to push quack medicine instead of quack religion.  He has recruited 1,200 pastors (bribing many with smartphones) to dose their congregants with a bleach-based potion said to cure cancer, malaria, HIV and practically anything else.  They even force it on infants:  "It causes no harm, they just get diarrhea," says Baldwin, who is bankrolled by a 25-year-old Englishman called Sam Little (formerly "Psychic Sam" the Tarot card reader).  Meanwhile in perpetually war-torn Congo, real doctors from Medicins sans Frontieres are attacked by people who blame them for causing the current Ebola outbreak.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that he is running for president.  That leaves Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the only Democrat who isn't, more or less.  Because she has better things to do.  Yesterday she cornered a rat named Daniel O'Day, CEO of Gilead Sciences, to ask why the HIV-prevention drug Truvada, developed with public money, costs $1,780 a month here and $8 a month in Australia.  He could only squeak that a generic version will be available in September of next year.  Meanwhile people exposed to the virus might want to consider Clorox.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Made it, Ma! Top of the wall!

We don't seem to hear much about WALL any more, though refugees continue to be mistreated at the border and children remain separated from their parents.  It's as if those terrifying "caravans" have vanished into thin air.  But one American who hasn't forgotten is Brian Kolfage, whose GoFundMe "We The People Will Build The Wall, My President!" raised over $22 million from three hundred thousand dupes patriots.  Kolfage, who says he was broke because Facebook kicked him off last year, was recently spotted purchasing a yacht and other items,  which did not include cinderblocks, mortar, shovels or other wall-building stuff.  Please hold your calls, we have our Grifter of the Month.

You'd think Sebastian "Dr. Gorka" Gorka would be in clover, what with Hungarian fascist leader Viktor Orban getting the full Oval Office Osculation.  But the doctor couldn't enjoy it, because the PBS cartoon show "Arthur" pissed on his parade by staging a same-sex wedding.  (Since one of the couple was an aardvark it may be an inter-species wedding, too -- unlike Gorka, I don't spend the day watching cartoons.)  Won't someone think of the children?  And the aardvarks?

Entertainment for adults is equally troubling.  Someone thought it would be fun to rip off the plot of the British film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and apply it to a wealthy New York family.  But rather than call the murder-worthy heirs Jones or Trump, they went with Rothchild (no "s" because that would invite legal action from the Rothschild family).  All riiiiight…and then they doubled down on the fun by casting Mel Gibson as the loathsome head of the household.  I don't think this movie could have made more trouble for itself if Kevin Spacey had been cast in the eight Alec Guinness roles.  Besides, I thought Gibson was working on The Revenge of the Christ, sequel to The Passion.  Not controversial enough?

I don't care for popcorn, so I'm getting through the travails of the NRA  with a big box of chocolate-covered raisins.  First Ollie "Lying Leatherneck" North accused CEO Wayne LaPierre of frittering away the outfit's money on clothes and trips for himself and an apartment for his "intern," and stashing the bills in the account of their ad agency.  Then North was ousted as president.  Now Allen West -- yes, that one -- is getting involved on North's side.  The murder lobby is said to be spending a million dollars a month on legal fees, and could hardly be bothered to release its customary "Too bad, get more guns" message when a shooting occurred last week at a California elementary school.  For sheer chaos, it rivals the White House.

That giant sucking sound (Thanks, Ross!) must be American democracy slipping down the drain.  A few particles:

Florida "Governor" Ron DeSantis acknowledges that the Russians hacked the voter databases of two counties last year, but it had no effect on the totals in that excruciatingly close election.  None!  He'd love to tell us which counties but he says the FBI made him sign a non-disclosure agreement. If so, it's a first in the agency's history.

The Texas legislature keeps dreaming up new ways to prevent people from voting.  First bringing voters to the polls in buses (as black churches are wont to do) was outlawed, and now they want Uber drivers who pick up voters to register as election workers.  They tried to ban voting while left-handed, but it died in committee.

Trump's courtiers continue to defy Parliament -- I'm sorry, Congress -- in the matter of responding to subpoenas and supplying copies of the king's tax returns.  Several have been cited for contempt, but until they spend a night in the D.C. lockup, it will have no effect.

Ironically, the states most famous for rape and incest (Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi) have now passed the most restrictive anti-woman laws to protect the dear little embryos that result.  If abortion is murder, surely miscarriage is suicide.  Will they prosecute embryos that refuse to thrive?  How much more demented can the superstitious and misogynistic make this country?

By the time you read this we may be in a shooting war with Iran.  I miss the days when Trump would try to distract from his crimes and idiotic policies by tweeting about Rosie O'Donnell or "Alex" Baldwin.  Every time he turns on the news, Vladimir Putin laughs until borscht comes out of his nose.

A week ago Trump was demanding that John Kerry be prosecuted under the Logan Act for communicating with the government of Iran.  But that was before he tried to send Rudolph Giuliani to Ukraine to induce its government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden's son.  I predict we won't be hearing about the Logan Act again.


In the flurry of celebrity deaths this week, the passing of Fleming Begaye, Sr., was overlooked.  Mr. Begaye was 97 and served with the Marines as a Navajo Code Talker in World War II.  Seriously wounded on Tinian, he also survived being "honored" at the White House last year.  He didn't appreciate the Pocahontas joke, calling it "disrespectful to Indian nations."  Only seven Code Talkers remain.    

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

This is not a film (blog): Taught by masters

The Criterion Collection is the film equivalent of the Library of America, curating the best of the past and preserving it in pristine digital editions.  Their latest release, The Heiress, is a good excuse for writing about William Wyler's greatest film, maybe the greatest film of everyone involved.

I don't know if Henry James could be considered a feminist, but he understood the inner lives of women who are genteelly abused by men, which underlies his novel Washington Square.  Austen Sloper is a successful doctor who disdains his daughter Catherine because she is not beautiful and brilliant like his wife -- or his memory of his wife -- who died giving birth to her.  Education has not improved her in his eyes; she can neither play the piano nor make intelligent conversation.  But she is far from dull, with a sharp wit she exercises out of his hearing.  Sloper is perhaps even more contemptuous of his widowed sister Lavinia, whose presence in the house he tolerates in the hope that her social skills will rub off on Catherine.  (When he diagnoses his illness as terminal, he tells Catherine, "I don't want your aunt in my room unless I should go into a coma.")  The doctor's brutality is completely emotional, and so subtle that Catherine is not even aware of it until the film's wrenching climax.  Ralph Richardson's astonishing performance was too subtle for the Motion Picture Academy, who managed to overlook it while awarding Best Actress to Olivia DeHavilland.

Not that she doesn't completely deserve it.  She had help from the hair and makeup artists, but it was finally up to her to convey Catherine's plainness.  Hollywood frequently called on beautiful women to play homely characters, DeHavilland's sister Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre being another example.  (Nothing has changed:  Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino were cast as the waitress and the short-order cook in Frankie and Johnny, roles originated on the stage by Kathy Bates and F. Murray Abraham.)  The anxiety in her eyes every time her father addresses her is painful to watch, especially when she asks him "to praise me, a little" to Morris, the man she loves.  Clearly he has never praised her.

Morris Townsend is a cad on the make who would be unbearable (and uninteresting) without the beauty of Montgomery Clift.   At the engagement party where they meet, you feel he must have shaken off half the women present to home in on Catherine, the gawky girl with the money who has been abandoned by her dancing partner.  In convincing her she is the woman of his dreams, he almost convinces us.  And Townsend is another gentle abuser of women, as Sloper intuits -- he lives with his widowed sister and teaches French to her children, but has not spent a dollar of his inheritance to help with the groceries.  He seems proud that he has not exceeded the inheritance, either, and has returned from Europe without debts.  Also without prospects for employment, but when you look like that...He seduces Catherine, and he seduces us.  He's less successful at seducing Sloper, though he tries.

Could Morris, who loves expensive gloves and good clothes, possibly love Catherine?  The doctor can't believe it and tries to "protect" her.  He asks for time and takes her to Europe, trying to re-capture the bliss of his honeymoon trip.  Finally back in the handsome house, he rattles off a list (clearly long suppressed) of her shortcomings, her inability to master any skill save one:  "You embroider neatly."  Richardson's words are bullets, and they all find their target.  This is not a movie for the family to enjoy on Fathers Day.  Catherine's subsequent preparation to elope with Morris, who jilts her, is a footnote.  She has already been destroyed.

"You embroider neatly."  That has always bothered me.  Countless critics have cited it as an example of Catherine's empty existence, or wondered what she is thinking as she "stabs" the fabric.  The problem is, it isn't embroidery, it's needlepoint.  Embroidery is an art.  There are countless stitches and fabrics which can be combined in marvelous ways by a skilled needlewoman (usually).  The Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry, it's a masterpiece of eleventh-century embroidery.  Needlepoint involves a pattern or picture painted on a piece of canvas mesh and attached to a frame, and you use a blunt needle to work the picture in yarn, up and down, over and over, the same stitch, picking out the alphabet (in this case) or some quotation from the Bible.  It's painting by numbers, for those who remember that fad.  It's a way of passing the time that leaves plenty of space for thought.  That is what Catherine is doing while she discusses her father's will, and what she is doing while she waits for Morris to return at the end of the film.  That she decides, "I will never do another" is a tiny flicker of hope.  Can she be so cruel? her aunt wonders.  Yes.  "I was taught by masters."  Cruelty is the quality of her selfish father and her feckless suitor.  It does not have to be hers any more.  


Friday, May 10, 2019

Let them eat lunch

I was going to write about the latest explosive verbal diarrhea from the Stable Genius, but it's Friday and I'm tired of him.  Even here at World Cynicism HQ, we like to write about nice things.

The human brain eats glucose.  Cannot function properly without it, which is why people who give advice will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you and your still-developing brain are headed to school.  America being America, millions of children (and adults) start out with little or no breakfast, which hugely increases the importance of lunch.  It isn't often remembered that in addition to scaring the shit out of white people, the Black Panther Party set up a program to provide breakfast and lunch to poor kids (which probably scared even more shit out of white people), recognizing that hungry kids don't learn as well as nourished ones.  Long ago, if you can believe it, there were actual government programs which followed the Panthers in providing free meals for poor kids.  Of course, they were demolished by the Republicans, who rightly saw educated poor people as a threat to their party's existence.

Today, children who can't afford a hot lunch are often handed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and even segregated in one section of the cafeteria to increase the embarrassment; in some districts, those who owe food bills cannot graduate.  This is entirely in line with the Republican program of abusing the most vulnerable to avoid taxing the rich.  It's not just college -- there are high school graduates who start life burdened by debt.  If you're lucky and careful, you can get through most of your life without onerous medical bills, traffic tickets and even mortgage payments, but everybody has to eat.  Every day, if possible.

But people are stepping up.  Hearing of the unnecessary suffering in the Warwick, Rhode Island, school district, Hami Ulukaya is buying everybody lunch.  Mr. Ulukaya is a Turkish-born Kurd who came here with a few hundred dollars and started Chobani Yogurt; now he wants to give back to his new country.  A Muslim, an immigrant, a self-made millionaire and a philanthropist, he's everything Trump hates.  Other people have heard about the school lunch disgrace and offered to help, but have mostly been turned away.  It's harder to ignore a man who was profiled on Sixty Minutes, and who successfully sued Alex Jones for defaming him and his workforce.

Last week the school lunch problem in St. Paul, Minnesota, was aired when Valerie Castile donated $8,000 from the Philando Castile Foundation so kids could eat.  Set up three years ago after her son  was murdered by a police officer, the Foundation was intended to support other victims of police violence and their families.  But Philando Castile was a high school cafeteria worker who frequently paid for students' lunches out of his own limited resources, and his mother decided this was an entirely appropriate use of the money.

School lunch programs and food stamps will always be targets of the Plutocrat Party, but there may be a ray of sunshine from an unlikely source.  As Trump's idiotic trade wars continue to screw farmers and dry up foreign markets, something will have to be done with the billions of dollars in crops rotting in the fields.  Can the Republicans set aside their hatred of the poor long enough to help a core constituency?  Or will there just be more GoFundMe campaigns and more work for World Central Kitchen?  Millions of Americans can well afford to skip the occasional meal.  Why not buy lunch for a hungry kid instead?  At least until some measure of intelligence and sanity returns in 2021.

Speaking of lunch, those lucky Boston Red Sox (or "Socks," as somebody in the White House thinks it's spelled) are invited to lunch next week.  As the Clemson men and Baylor women know, they should bring their own food.  Room-temperature hamberders….mmm, the taste of victory.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Post (hoc) time

We can't even have a horse race without politics.  The jockeys weren't the only ones covered in mud yesterday.  Governor Matt Bevin was drowned out by booing as he presented the trophy, and Trump was beside himself that the winner/favorite was disqualified for bumping another horse.  We know Bevin is the asshole who immunizes his children by sending them to "pox parties" to get infected -- I can only imagine what he does about polio.  It's probably not surprising that the Stable Genius is also an expert on racing.  Excited by the sloppy track and enhanced possibility of injury and/or death, Trump couldn't help bitching about the stewards' decision to award first place to Country House.  "Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur," he twatted, unaware that horses are penalized every day for violating the rules because, like most people, he pays attention to one race a year, the one with the hats.  Yes, they took away the win because Maximum Security was overheard using the "n" word about a black stable pony earlier in the day.  Unfair!  Must investigate!  Ironists were quick to observe that the second-place finisher sometimes is declared the winner -- it happened in 2016, to the regret of all civilized people -- and that it's pretty funny for a notorious golf cheat to complain about equine misconduct.

Can he multitask?  You know it, and I don't just mean shit and tweet at the same time.  Mighty mind thrumming like a power plant burning beautiful, clean coal, he also swung away at the prospect of "Bob" Mueller testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.  Not afraid of what he might say, no, not at all, but didn't Barr's almost-four-page summary exonerate him completely and propose an addition to Mount Rushmore, or at least Stone Mountain?  My understanding is that 1. The Committee can question anyone who isn't too cowardly to show up, and 2. When he turned in his term paper, Mueller again became a private citizen who doesn't need permission.  A private citizen who is mightily pissed at Barr lying about the contents of the report, which has yet to be seen by Congress in its uncensored form.  So save the date and bring sandwiches.

Remember when Andrew Napolitano was a favorite of Trump, a regular Daniel come to judgment?  Yeah, that's over.  The judge says he has committed impeachable offenses -- says it on Fox News, if you please, like some Deep State coup plotter -- and he's off the list of federal bench appointees for sure.  "The man has been significantly wrong on at least 8 major occasions.  Unacceptable.  Take him off the air!"  ("Significantly"?  Is Barron helping Daddy with his homework?)  When/if Trump realizes he has the same name as Janet Napolitano, Obama's secretary of Homeland Security, watch the paranoia surge up to eleven.  Conspiracy!  Treason!  Crooked Hillary something something!!!

Speaking of being significantly wrong, anybody see that North Korean missile test the other day?  Not to worry, Trump has it all under control (he prevented World War III, remember?); this is just a thing they do when Japan gets a new emperor.  Like fireworks, only fissionable.  Banzai!  Then Trump had a long talk with the boss, and Putin assured him that that shipload of Russian troops who landed in Venezuela this week don't really exist.

Nothing is as it seems, and I couldn't be happier if I had bet on Country House.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

And furthermore

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.  Say it soft and it's almost like praying.  (Also makes Spellcheck light up like a NORAD radar screen.)  I pray she succeeds Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany.  For the tweets!  Germans have the most reverberant names.  This is the best one I've come across since Willy Domgraf-Fassbaender.

The battle for the soul of Fox News continues, with the fact-based and the crap-based clashing almost every day.  People like Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith want to report the news without getting rage-tweeted by Benedict Donald and smeared by Hockeypuck Sanders.  I just wish they would change their name.  I read almost all of Vanda Krefft's definitive biography William Fox:  The Man Who Made the Movies, about the Hungarian-born entrepreneur who started Fox Studios over a century ago.  This is not at all what he had in mind.

Nor would he have liked what's going on today in Hungary, whose neo-fascist president gets the now obligatory tour of the White House tomorrow.  Viktor Orban has already been in "negotiations" with Netanyahu about re-writing Hungary's history concerning the Holocaust, which I wasn't aware Bibi was in charge of.  Wherever you look, the Right is at war with reality, history, facts, the inconvenient truth.

Speaking of history, this June will see the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  Commiserations to the British, who are about to endure an official state visit by Donzo and (perhaps) Melania.  May they enjoy their carriage ride with the queen amid 100-plus heat and non-stop horse flatulence, while the people shower them with sausage rolls and airhorn salutes.  Last time she was forced to give him tea ("Don't ya have any Diet Coke?") HM trolled Trump by wearing a brooch given to her by the Obamas.  This time, let's chip in and send her a Kamala Harris t-shirt.  After Brexsplaining (a perfectly cromulent word) to Theresa May, it's off to France to advise Macron on cathedral renovation ("Lots of beautiful asbestos, believe me").  I'll be binging on Mrs. Maisel till this thing blows over.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Pigeon pellets

CBS announced that The Late Show will broadcast live after the first Democratic debate.  Finally we'll find out how many ways Colbert's writers can say "Biden is old."

Stephen Taubert of Syracuse got 48 months in the cooler for threatening to kill Barack Obama and Maxine Waters.  He was visited by the FBI, the Secret Service and local law enforcement; nevertheless, he persisted.  At sentencing, the US Attorney Grant Jaquith, presumably a Trump appointee, said, "Racist threats to kill present and former public officials are not protected free speech."  At least one new federal prison will be needed just to handle the threats against Ilhan Omar.

An online petition seeks to name the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets "President Barack H. Obama Avenue."  Has anyone asked Obama if he wants that tacky tin-plated firetrap in the middle of his street?

Remember the "Axis of Evil"?  You don't hear much about it now that Kim and Trump are making the beast with two backs, figuratively speaking.  Don't worry, we now have the "Troika of Tyranny."  As Venezuela sinks into chaos, Nicolas Maduro is being supported by Cuba, Nicaragua, and Russia.  Cuba was Twitter-threatened with monster sanctions, and Nicaragua's turn will probably come when Trump learns to spell it.  As for Russia...hey, nice weather for the big parade today, huh, Vlad?

The Senate Judiciary Committee held another investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails today, but either the sole witness was William Barr or Hillary has really let herself go.  Meet America's new sweetheart, Mazie Hirono, who frightened Barr so badly that he won't come back tomorrow, despite the expert fellatio he received from Chairman Graham.  And before you scream "campaigning," Senator Hirono is not running for president.  Too bad.  My two Abe Lincolns say Trump will soon be calling her "Tokyo Rose."

Oh, yes, a shooting at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  Two dead, four wounded, usual kind of thing.  Reason?  Who says he needed a reason?

A day late

"[Scrooge] had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant...The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human affairs and had lost the power for ever."

Probably no one else thought of that bit of Dickens when reading Lisa Miller's interview with David Brooks in New York Magazine.  Brooks has been pontificating for the New York Times longer than anyone, and entire blogs are devoted to pricking the balloon animals of his self-regard, whose theme is "Gimme That Old-Time Republican Religion."  Usually I don't bother with him or his detractors -- read one, read them all -- but sometimes it's just...Look, if he teaches a course at Yale in Burke, Niebuhr and himself, serves you right for enrolling.  If he wants to be the last NeverTrumper standing in the rubble of "his" party (which it hasn't been since Goldwater), give the man a tattered ensign to wave.  But when he rubs his chin ruminatively and opines, "Maybe racial injustice is at the core of everything.  I've had that thought," I plug my ears so I can't hear myself screaming, "Where the Emmett Till have you been for the last fifty years?  Maybe?"  And what does the old ghost in the white waistcoat intend doing about it?  Why didn't he have this epiphany during the eight years when Barack Obama was trying to do something about it?  Now that racism is official policy again, it's time to whisper "No"?

Congratulations on having "that thought."  Please resume talking to the other ghosts.