Monday, September 30, 2019

They make it too easy

Wave goodbye to Mac Thornberry (R-TX), who is tired of being a member of Congress and wants to spend more time with his loot family.   So long, Mac.  Don't get run over by the mob of Republicans who can't get out the door fast enough.  You're the fifth to abandon your delegation.  I guess Texas Republicans will have to hold a primary next year.  That won't improve Trump's mood.  Ronna was hoping to re-nominate him with all the pageantry of a monster truck rally and not even a whisper of opposition.  Now he'll have to think of a nickname for Bill Weld.

First things first, though.  It's the first week of October and time for another round of "Hillary Clinton's Ever-loving Emails."  Some conspiracist decided that Clinton's super-secret server where all the evidence is hidden must be located in Ukraine because they haven't found it anywhere else, so let's waste more time and money.  Afterward, we'll all go over to Comet Ping-pong and check out her basement dungeon, where she and Obama plotted the Bowling Green Massacre, the Jade Helmet coup in Texas, and the murder of Jeffrey Epstein.  Try the pepperoni with salsa.

Move over, Reps. Omar, Tlaib, et al., there's another uppity woman of color irritating the Trumpites.  Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) was chairing the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship last week and had the effrontery to ask former Gauleiter of the ICEstapo Thomas Homan about his border concentration camps.  He ranted that she was a "liar," then ran off to Fox & Friends to have his sore feelings bandaged.  "Just because you have a gavel doesn't make you queen of the day," he muttered, while the Friends spooned yogurt into his mouth and settled a shawl around his shoulders.  And Homan is just a former apparatchik.  I wonder if he quit or was fired.

Rudolph Giuliani's speech at some Kremlin shindig has been cancelled.  Let's take up a collection to replace his lost fee.  He's also been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee.  Who says there are no good comedies on the networks this fall?

Kellyanne Conway says Nancy Pelosi is a fake feminist because she won't sit down and chat with her over coffee, woman-to-woman.  Pelosi sees it as Speaker-to-flunky, and she has more important things to do, like oversee the impeachment of Conway's boss.  So more hurt feelings.

Chris Collins (R-NY) has resigned and pleaded guilty to insider trading, while maintaining (of course) his innocence.  This is extra-funny because Collins was the first elected official to endorse Trump.

Moscow Mitch now acknowledges he'll have "no choice" but to hold a trial when Trump is impeached.  I guess we know who checked that copy of the Constitution out of the Senate library.  Lindsey Graham is already practicing his opening statement, which will evidently contain references to Salem, Stalin's Moscow show trials and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Bring a hankie.

Robert Jeffress, some sort of evangelical hustler, says there will be a civil war if the Democrats insist on persecuting God's Anointed.  And that would be the end of it but no, Trump had to re-tweet this barely concealed call to violence in his daily ravings.  Let's pretend it's 1859 and James Buchanan just called for the slave states to raise an army -- would the Congress have let it go by ("He's always saying stupid shit like that," said Thaddeus Stevens)?  Neither should this one.  Just keep digging that hole, you idiot.

As tired as I am of the word "whistleblower," I hope he or she continues to be anonymous and safe.  Maybe we could make up a name.  Joe Hill?  Anyone using that?  No, every Joe Hill in the country will get gaudy death threats from the 101st Chairborne.  "Whistleblower" it is.

Ukrainians are now referring to their president as "Monica Zelensky."  It's a small world, after all.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

I confess

I am guilty of having an unholy amount of fun this week.  Yes, I know, Constitutional crisis and all  that, much hand-wringing over Is it the right time? and How will it affect the everlasting election?  but damn, after all these years of broccoli, it looks like dessert might be on the way.

I love watching Trump ransack his tiny vocabulary for fresh terms of abuse.  Apparently Democrats are now "savages" and "pirates."  (But people love pirates!  Captain Jack Sparrow!)  How long before he just types "SHIT SHIT SHIT" 60 times?  That's right, isn't it, 240 characters?  I don't do Twitter.

I love the look on President Zelensky's face when Stupid suggests he make nice with Putin.  Look, I flattered the hell out of you just like Netanyahu told me, I sat here politely trying not to look like Enzo the baker scared out of his mind at the hospital, but I too have voters to face.  Come on, really?  He occupies Crimea like Hitler in the Sudetenland, you people do nothing, and I'm supposed to kiss his ass?   No wonder they call you Trumputin.

I love watching Giuliani lose the rest of his mind whenever he gets near a microphone.  Did he and Trump accidentally exchange dentures in some bizarre locker-room accident?  For eighteen years this racist idiot has preened as "America's mayor" with the shameless complicity of the media.  We who lived in New York in those days remember his attempt to turn a police demonstration at City Hall into an anti-Dinkins lynch mob; the firefighters who died on 9/11 partly because of the low-bid radios he provided for them; the police commissioner who went to prison, but not before Giuliani urged Bush to make him Secretary of Homeland Security; his lying claim that a black undercover cop who was gunned down on the subway by another cop had expressed forgiveness from his hospital bed; and how he and his then-wife enriched themselves from 9/11 charities intended for the families of the dead.  For a start.  Giuliani and Trump were made for each other, possibly in a laboratory.

I love this.

I love Greta Thunberg and the way she drives so many people crazy.  And I worry about her.  She has been compared to Joan of Arc and Malala Yousafzai, who experienced misogynistic violence at its most extreme.  Female members of Congress and of Parliament get death threats on a daily basis, as did women like Christine Blasey Ford and the victims of Roy Moore.  I fear that Thunberg, who has acknowledged having Asperger's, may not fully understand the kind of world she lives in.

I love the slap-fights that have broken out at Fox News between the fact-based and propaganda divisions.  CNN should cover them like a sporting event.  Gabriel Sherman's hilarious breakdown is here.

I love autumn.


Friday, September 27, 2019

My book report: It depends on you

Dorian Lynskey, The Ministry of Truth:  The Biography of George Orwell's '1984,' New York, Doubleday, 2019

Is this a good time to re-read Nineteen Eighty-four?  It's always a good time, unfortunately, because we live in the world he warned about.  Dorian Lynskey brilliantly explicates the book's origins and its long afterlife, once it escaped the author's control and became a part of the environment.  It's everything you need to know about its literary origins, Orwell's formative experiences in the Spanish Civil War, his propaganda work for the BBC during World War II, and his life-shortening struggle to complete the book on a remote Scottish island.  Every day someone tries to conflate democratic socialism with Soviet-style communism, so we shouldn't be surprised that Nineteen Eighty-four is claimed by everyone from libertarians to the Labour Party.  Orwell would object.

Until her death in 1980 Sonia Brownell Orwell, widow and literary executor, fended off most attempts to exploit the book, from tee shirts to video games.  Then the floodgates opened, and we got Ridley Scott's bizarre Apple commercial for the 1984 Superbowl, kicking off the era when millions watch the game solely for the ads.  The year also saw Michael Radford's film starring John Hurt and Richard Burton, followed by Lorin Maazel's underwhelming opera version.  Then there were works "inspired" by the book, though people like Nam June Paik and Terry Gilliam asserted that they didn't need to actually read it.  David Bowie tried to write a musical, but lost interest.   Lynskey notes every Orwell-inspired TV show, album and dystopian novel except Pink Floyd's The Wall, which always struck me as set in a kind of near-Oceania.  For those who have no time to re-read the book, he helpfully adds a chapter-by-chapter precis.*

And then the bit we've been waiting for:  Big Brother reborn as Big Blubber.  "It must be said that Donald Trump is no Big Brother," he writes.  "...He has the cruelty and power hunger of a dictator but not the discipline, intellect or ideology."  I guess we got lucky there.  The book concludes with the sentences Orwell dictated on his deathbed:  "The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one.  Don't let it happen.  It depends on you."  Our luck is running out.

*Only once did I yearn for more details.  There is a photograph of H.G. Wells and Orson Welles in a San Antonio radio station in 1940.  Information, please!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

You are my sunshine?

Roy Don Plectrum was born on a cotton farm in Ringworm, Oklahoma, the sixth of eleven children.  Daddy was a mean drunk, Mama was in the church.  At three he picked up a banjo and taught himself Horowitz's Carmen Variations, which he had heard from a black street performer.  At seven he dropped out of school and went on the road with a mariachi band, Jorge and the Heartbreakers.  One night in Grover's Mill, New Jersey, Hank Williams's manager's uncle heard Plectrum and arranged a tryout with the Chesapeake Cheesemakers of Tidewater, Virginia, whose radio show reached four million listeners every Saturday night.  Before he turned eighteen, Plectrum had recorded Sandpaper In My Shoes, which sold three hundred thousand albums and won a Peabody Award.  By then, however, Plectrum had been married and divorced twice, and had developed a taste for Percocet.

Well, you get the idea.  Throw in the voice of Peter Coyote, who always seems to be delivering bad news, and you have Country Music, Ken Burns's latest attempt to Explain America.  Come to think of it, Coyote is perfect.  Alcoholism, spousal abuse, drugs, poverty, depression, really bad costumes -- these folks make the musicians in Jazz look like Up With People.  You wouldn't want to hear about them from Al Roker.

Well, for several reasons.  This is the whitest genre outside of Gregorian chant, the NASCAR of music.  Burns does his best, dwelling on Charley Pride; noting that the Grand Ole Opry fired its only black star, DeFord Bailey, for no particular reason; bringing in Wynton Marsalis also for no particular reason.  But when it comes to race -- the subtext of his previous documentaries Baseball, Jazz, and of course The Civil War -- Burns loses his nerve.  He has time to re-cycle (from The Vietnam War) a clip of Jan Howard threatening to shoot antiwar demonstrators, who thought she would be more sympathetic after two of her sons were killed.  But he never tries to explain country music's appeal for the alt-right, the way their adoration of Taylor Swift turned to death threats when she said she had voted for Obama.  (It is kind of amusing that the Klan, ancestors of the Proud Boys, attacked Johnny Cash because his first wife was Italian-American.)  Most unforgivably, Burns features commentary and some banjo playing by Rhiannon Giddens but never lets her sing a note.  An operatically trained country singer, black or white, wouldn't fit his narrative.

Basically, he buys into the self-serving description of the music as "three chords and the truth."  That is simplistic about its musical sophistication and a refusal to face its frequent hypocrisy.  "I walk the line," Johnny Cash sang, while doing no such thing.  Ex-con Merle Haggard praised Nixon's Silent Majority as folks who "don't smoke marijuana" in "Okie From Muscogee," which must have caused much hilarity on Music Row ("Step into my bus," said Willie Nelson).  As with any popular music, people heard what they wanted to hear, that they were the real Americans, "left out and looked down upon."  Country music may well have progressive-populist connections, but that ain't what earns gold records.  And Burns is obsessed with how many records each performer sells.

The real problem for someone like me, largely unfamiliar with the music, is the standard Ken Burns formula -- a little music, a lot of talking over it, buy the CD.  All the Roys and Merles and Jimmys run together after a while.  It doesn't help that three episodes end with performers dying young (Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline), and the series concludes with a memorial service for Johnny Cash, who was only 71.  Country is even more doom-haunted than the blues, it seems.  Please tell me Burns isn't tackling that next.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Super Tuesday

"People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing.  We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth," said Greta Thunberg, the young climate change warrior, at the UN.  Did she impress the old men, and a few women, gathered in solemn assembly?  Here's what one of them took away:

"She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.  So nice to see!"

I can see why you might get that if you ignored her words because you were thinking, She's not as hot as Ivanka was at fifteen but definitely do-able.  I hope Melanie finishes her shopping in time for my speech.  I got so many laughs last year.  They totally loved me.  Where's the toilet?

Meanwhile in Washington, the Democrats began to stir from their Barbarossa-like slumber.  By late afternoon they had unleashed the Four Horsemen:  "Pelosi, Nadler, Schiff and, of course, Maxine Waters!  Can you believe this?"  (Suddenly Omar, Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib don't look so scary.)  At ten o'clock his personal lawyer and fixer Rudolph "Stupid Roy Cohn" Giuliani was on the Ingraham show, offering a glimpse into the legal strategy he will pursue:  "Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up, moron!  Shut your lying mouth!"

Moscow Mitch decided that this would not do, and promised that the Senate would "quash" the House's articles of impeachment, which was a new one on every Constitutional lawyer the newsies could dig up.  Even with the Senate rigged (for now), MM doesn't dare risk a trial.  Apparently John Roberts is a little shakier on party loyalty than Rehnquist was.

A transcript, probably doctored, of the Trump-Zelensky phone conversation was finally released, and it's remarkably subtle for Trump -- at no point does he say "I have a good friend in the Kremlin," for instance.  Zelensky has doubtless dealt with gangsters before, and didn't need it spelled out.  Of course, reporters who are really good at this kind of thing have investigated Hunter Biden for years without finding anything, but if some dirt could be manufactured, America would be very grateful...
Zelensky used to be a comedian, but his sense of humor seems to have deserted him.  I would have asked for the return of Crimea.

Today the White House prepared some talking points to help House Republicans defend their leader.  Then they emailed them to all the House Democrats.  Then they asked for them back.

The circus is coming to town!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Peanuts and other observations

Back in the last century, every elementary school classroom smelled of peanuts.  Every third inmate had a pb&j in the backpack because it was the quickest thing a stressed parent -- be fair, mother -- could slap together in the morning.  Nobody died.  Nobody even got epi-penned by a teacher.  I would remember.  Don't think I'm making light of this; I do understand that people who have a near-death experience if they enter a peanut contamination zone are not "crisis actors," as the loonies call the victims of mass murder.  It is real.  I just want to know where it came from.  Human beings simply do not evolve that quickly.  Therefore something must have changed in the molecular structure of the peanut.  Some gooberologist decided that humankind needs a peanut which will survive drought, or mold, or interstellar travel.  He got a grant and he tampered in Todd's Rogaine -- Rod's propane -- God's domain, yeah, that's it.  And look where we are, Mr. George Washington Carver wannabe.  We live in a world where people have to study every packaged food to make sure it wasn't processed in a county where peanuts were handled.  Thank you.  Why don't you see if you can ruin cashews, you silly sod?

This is for Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, James Corden, and everyone else who makes a good living and gets copious laughs repeating Trump's idiocies with droll comments:  Please stop.  Treason, bribery, high crimes and other misdemeanors are not funny.  You have done outstanding work keeping us from leaping off bridges, but Americans are not sufficiently aware of how awful our predicament is.  They think Trump is just another punchline like Kardashian or Lewinsky.  When they hear "Big Brother" they think reality show, not Orwell.  The entire executive branch and half the Congress is under Putin's thumb.  It's not your job to make this plain -- I blame the so-called serious journalists -- but stop the cheap laughs.

The Ukraine scandal -- someone suggested calling it "Greatgate," as in Kiev, as in Pictures at an Exhibition -- could be a splendid opportunity.  Not only is it finally pressuring Pelosi to make an opening gambit in this ten-dimensional chess game she's supposedly playing, but it makes Biden look even more vulnerable than his own stumbles and gaffes.  Nobody needs a campaign where both sides dramatize the heartbreak of Alzheimer's on a daily basis.  Now Elizabeth Warren's kids are not engaged in skeevy business in Ukraine.  Iowa Democrats know what I'm talking about.

Warning the UN about the dangers of globalization is a little like telling Catholics to quit gobbling up those communion wafers.  Where does Numbnuts think he is, a monster truck rally in East Feces, Idaho?

I'll be honest, I thought Thomas Cook went out of business years ago.  Who uses a travel agent in 2019?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Obama Netflix?!?

Why is caffeine even legal?  I am so wasted...

Now we know what Boofer Kavanaugh wears under his robe -- nothing.

How unfair is life?  Felicity Huffman has an Oscar nomination, but she had to endure a facelift to stay viable as an actor, and she's taking all the weight for bribing her daughter's way into college.  Wasn't Macy in the room when she was criming on the phone?  Nice of him to walk her to and from court.  Not that two weeks is exactly Devil's Island, but come on.

"Funny, you don't look [ethnic]."  I always wondered who makes these determinations, and now we know.  At a hatenanny in Rancho Rio, New Mexico, Trump singled out Steve Cortes of his "Hispanic Advisory Council" for highest praise:  "He looks more like a WASP than I do."  Good work, Steve.  Hispanic support for Querido Lider seems to be thin in the Land of Enchantment -- there were cars from as far away as Nebraska.  Those people probably look fairly WASPy, too.

Colin Kaepernick has won an Emmy for his two-minute Nike commercial.  I'll save you some time:  "Failing Emmy awards again demenstrate they hate our Country!  Very very bad.  Hollywood leftist liberals are Enemy of the People!"

Speaking of showbiz, Trump still wants somebody to "investigate" this outrageous "contract" between a private company (Netflix) and two private citizens (Michelle and Barack Obama), which was probably signed for the purpose of making "money."  I guess he's worried that they'll reveal the names of intelligence assets in places like Russia and Saudi Arabia.  

Our old friend Sean Spicer told reporters he got the highest score and the most praise of any contestant who ever appeared on Dancing With the Stars.  He can't help himself.

Elizabeth Warren's rally in New York City drew a bigger crowd than Trump's "inauguration."  Show him the pictures, someone.

And then show him pictures of Elton John's last tour.  According to the New York Times, Trump has an unhealthy obsession with Sir Elton, probably based on his love of music.  I joke, of course.  To respond to music one must have some sort of emotional life not involving cruelty and hate.  By the way, Hitler loved opera.  Anyway, the article is not just for mental health professionals.  Trump seems to think that by calling Kim Jong-un "Little Rocket Man" (before they fell in love) and then presenting him with one of Elton John's CDs, he pretty much is responsible for the singer/songwriter's long career.  So why wouldn't Elton John perform at the "inauguration"?  Crowd wasn't big enough.  By some estimates there are more people in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and some of them refused to show up.

If you leave the cable news on while you work, keep the remote handy and your thumb cocked for the mute button.  Jeanine Pirro has committed a book and is sure to be promoting it anyplace they'll have her, including the Lamestream Enemy of the People media like CNN.  Her voice and her opinions have been known to cause seizures.

Todd and Sarah Palin are pffft.  (I recently watched The Sweet Smell of Success and I'm feeling a bit Winchell.  Is Martin Milner not the least believable jazz musician in the history of movies?)

I just checked, and nobody is avenging the drone attacks on Saudi oil refineries yet.  So there's that.  John Bolton is crying in his room.

Just the other day David Cameron was saying how much he regretted calling that Stay/Leave referendum.  Today the tone-deaf Jeremy Corbyn says he'll put the Brexit deal/no deal up to the voters.  Why is this man in politics instead of teaching at a lesser Cambridge college and writing op-eds for the Independent?

If you think Antonio Brown is just another NFL star/accused rapist, read this.

What if the Obamas win an Emmy for their first Netflix show?  Oh, the humanity!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday the 967th

All right, I've polished off the gin and I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

He explained that Bahamian refugees who are lucky to have shoes, much less passports, can't come in because they are "very bad drug dealers," among other qualities he associates exclusively with the dark-skinned.  If I were a semi-competent drug dealer, I would have made contingency plans to be somewhere not in the path of a Category 5 hurricane, but that's me.

He repeated his monologue about the dangers of any power not generated by fossil fuel ("the wind is very expensive").  He thinks the lights go off when the wind drops because he is an imbecile who does not know how storage batteries work.

He sent Senior Daddy-Fluffer Ivanka to Wyoming to praise him before a gathering of Cheney clones.  She says she got her "moral compass" from Daddy because somebody told her it's a good thing to have.  She also cited her current step-mother for showing her "how to be a powerful and successful woman" (sic).  No mention of her biological mother, who has accused God's Anointed of raping her, and who reportedly took him to the proverbial cleaners.

He complained that energy-efficient light bulbs make his skin look orange.  Even outdoors, apparently.

He temporarily stopped whining that the National Weather Service accurately predicted the path of Hurricane Dorian to make him look bad, and began insisting he had fired John Bolton, who did not quit.  Fired.  Because he's a stupid liberal working for the Deep State.  Also he just can't get along with Kim Jong-un, a wonderful leader with a beautiful vision for his country, and possibly several neighboring ones.  Kim tested two more missiles this week.

He finally came up with a disparaging nickname for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  "I call her Cortez."  Snap!

He repeated the lie about watching the World Trade Center collapse from his window, the same window that showed him Muslims dancing in the streets of Hoboken/Jersey City/Montreal.

He had Commerce Secretary and Ed Wynn Lookalike Contest finalist Wilbur Ross order the firing of the NWS officials who failed to direct the hurricane to Obama.  Alabama!  Fake news!

He encouraged the First Escort to issue an insipid tweet about the evils of vaping.  More children have been shot to death in St. Louis this summer than have died from e-cigarettes.  #BeClueless

He wants the government to solve the problem of homelessness, but only in California.  Best guess:  more concentration camps.

He's found a place in the Cabinet/Bible Study Circle for another worthless piece of shit, Eugene "Ninospawn" Scalia.  His views on workplace sexual harassment will cheer Harvey Weinstein and surprise no one.  Welcome your new Secretary of Labor.

Right.  Round the back for the old brandy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Not so fast

I'm having second thoughts about gun control.

I'm having them because I read a Newsweek article about the ICEstapo building a "state of the art" simulated urban warfare facility at Fort Benning, Georgia.  We're not supposed to know about it, but somebody at the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities website doesn't know how "redaction" works.

I ask myself why Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is supposed to find cocaine hidden in cargo ships and examine passports, would need simulated houses, government buildings and apartments designed to look like Chicago or Arizona.

I ask myself why this is fully funded, while millions of dollars Congress appropriated for military-base housing, schools and daycare facilities is being stolen for WALL.

I tell myself to stop being so naïve, and wonder if I should get a gun.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

How much would you pay?

The economy must be percolating right along, especially for the uneducated white resentful class.  Having ponied up $15 for a pack of ten Trump straws ("America's Favorite Suckers!"), they are now being asked to buy a genuine Trump Sharpie for the low low price of $15 for a pack of five.  Those who never mastered writing can use them to draw, for instance, Hitler mustaches on pictures of Ilhan  Omar.  Hours of fun for the whole clan!

I can remember when real presidents used multiple pens to sign significant pieces of legislation and then distributed them to the invited dignitaries.  For instance, when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act he handed the first pen to Martin Luther King.  (I often wondered what those joined-up signatures must have looked like.)  When the dotard appends his monkey's-EEG signature to something he considers important, like a pardon or a "hereby order," he holds it up proudly as proof of literacy.  Then he sells the pen.  Great times.  I suppose the company that makes Sharpies is fine with this.  You can learn all about it here (what, you think I don't do research for these outbursts?).  Only a few models contain xylene, which, they advise, may cause nerve and organ damage.

No kidding.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Chlorinated Chicken

Mike Pence needs a nickname and that will do.  It looks normal but it's nasty.  Don't swallow it.

CC has been on a "spread the hate" tour of Europe.  He had to explain to the Poles why his boss tweeted "Congratulations!" to them on the eightieth anniversary of the war which turned their country into a charnel house and left them at the mercy of the Germans and then the Russians for the next half-century.  Then he dropped in on the Taoiseach in Dublin for a few hours before rushing across to Doonbeg to pump some American tax dollars into another failing Trump property.  (In little Doonbeg Trump is slightly less popular than the Black and Tans.)  Then he arrived in  Iceland like an invading army (Reykjavik had to call in police from neighboring towns, which was considered insulting in a placid little country where the president often hits the thermal baths in the altogether).  And on to London, where the PM (for now) scolded him over the American practice of washing chickens in chlorine, and where Pence responded by praising his "great leadership."  For the record, Johnson's government is falling apart like a clown car and his own brother has resigned from the Commons and Cabinet.    

Wherever he went after Poland, CC was met with people disgusted by his anti-LGBT stance and opposition to abortion rights.  He prayed for them, I'm sure, while taking care never to be alone with a female woman who might make a move on Magic Mike Chlorinated Chicken.  This is constantly happening, I guess.   And most Americans never noticed because back home the head clown was having a marquee week.  He spent days attacking Debra Messing because she tweeted a picture of a sign in front of a Baptist church in Birmingham which questioned the love that millions and millions of African Americans have for Trump.  I don't believe he attacked the church or its pastor, who is not a woman.  Then, to show his love for Alabama...well, do I have to go into Sharpiegate?  It's been documented exhaustively, by people who were appalled, or amused, or both.  The significant fact here is that Trump's war with reality shows no sign of an armistice.  

The movie shorthand usually invoked is Queeg and the strawberries, the obsession with triviality, the refusal to admit he might have been wrong about anything ever.  This is not comforting.  At some point there will be a crisis  --  a storm, an economic collapse, some form of military overreaching.  I picture the Barney Greenwald character, the spokesman for the author, popping up to blame us for mocking Trump and making up songs about him (this is on you, Randy Rainbow) instead of supporting him.  It's all our fault he lost his shit.  Authority must always be obeyed, even when vested in the clearly mad.  If he survives the nuclear hit on New York or whatever, I expect this tripe to show up in a David Brooks column.  

No.  No.  This is not the Navy.  We are still free agents, damn it, and it's up to us to end this nightmare.  Even it means a short term of Chlorinated Chicken Pence.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Tweet of the day

Dark arts

Once upon a time, a poor young woman sat in a café because it was warmer than her tiny flat.  With her baby at her side, she wrote and wrote, and soon she had completed a book about a boy wizard called Harry.  One company after another declined to publish the book.  At last, a small publisher accepted it, but insisted that she use her initials, because boys would not want to read a book by someone called Joanne.  The book went unnoticed at first, but soon boys and girls were telling their friends what a wonderful book it was.  The publisher brought out one edition after another, and soon it was being read by grownups as well.  The young woman, no longer poor, began to write another book about Harry, and another and another.  People in far-off lands began to read the books.  Other people paid large sums of money for the right to make the stories into films starring the kinds of actors who are called "Sir" and "Dame."  A theme park was built.  And it all began with one poor young woman who could spin words, if not straw, into gold.  Some say she is the richest woman in the world.

But one day, an organization run by senescent Incels and known as the Roman Catholic Church became frightened by the woman and her imagination.  In a place called Nashville, the pastor of St. Edward Catholic School ordered the books removed from his library because they scared him.
After consulting several exorcists, because that is still a twenty-first century profession, he said, "The curses and spells used in the book are actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text."  He did not say how he knew this, and because he is very silly as well as evil, he will not get his name mentioned here.  Neither will I say his name out loud, lest he appear before me, which nobody wants.

He is not as silly and evil as the priests in Poland who burned the books about the wizard last spring.  Poland does not have a constitution which guarantees both freedom of religion and freedom of the press, or if it has, nobody pays any attention to it.  (Burning books is a thing which used to be very common in Europe, together with burning people.  A poet called Heinrich Heine believed these activities to be intimately linked.)  But here in America, of which Tennessee is a part, banning books for magical reasons is both silly and evil, even if it encourages students to seek them out elsewhere.  And no one can ban the movies, which are shown on television every week.

The Catholic Church is founded on the premise that words have magical power, that a special wizard called a "priest" can use words to turn bread and wine into the body of a long-dead rabbi; absolve people of guilt for all manner of things, including murder; protect newborn babies from the awful consequences of being born; and transform dead celebrities like Mother Teresa into demigods called "saints."  Not surprisingly, it has a long history of acting foolishly about books.  Probably it has overreacted to children's books before.  I'm sure it isn't happy about, for example, Cinderella's fairy godmother.  I'd like to think the pastor of St. Edward is haunted by the Library of Unseen University, with its volumes so potent with magic that they have to be chained to the shelves, heaving and groaning.  But something tells me he's not a Terry Pratchett fan, either.  If he were, he'd remember that the Librarian is an ape.  By choice.


Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Lies and consequences

Three weeks ago the ICEstapo raided several chicken processing plants in Mississippi, arresting hundreds of undocumented workers.  The gratuitous cruelty of the Fourth Reich required that this coincide with the first day of school, so children would come home to empty houses and have no idea what had happened to their parents.  Needless to say, the owners and management were untouched, though hiring the undocumented is illegal.

The rationale for this kind of thing is always that these people are taking jobs away from Americans.  Yet hundreds of Americans did not rush forward to apply for chicken work, possibly because it is low-paid, unpleasant and dangerous.  The result has been a shortage of chicken parts at fast-food restaurants, apparently at the worst possible time.  The Popeye's chain had introduced a new "crispy chicken sandwich" which proved popular with people who like that kind of thing, and many restaurants ran out.  What happened next was no surprise in a country both litigious and gun-mad.

A man in Tennessee who was denied a sandwich is suing Popeye's for deceptive business practices and false advertising, seeking $5,000 for his suffering.  In Houston, another man who evidently doesn't like lawyers drew a gun to reinforce his demand for lunch.  No fatalities have been reported, but if those chicken plants don't re-staff by the end of the week, there could well be another Odessa (the latest outburst of mindless violence).

That's what makes economics so complicated.  You tariff China to look tough, and not only do Americans pay more for Chinese-made goods but farmers find themselves with tons of soybeans that nobody wants.  Pulling one loose thread will unravel the whole tapestry.  You can't make sensible policy on the toilet.  This is why Wall Street types are grabbing for the Xanax and regular folks are afraid to check their 401(k)s.

Nobody who has to stand behind a counter smelling grease all day, wearing a demeaning uniform and a paper hat, should have to face death for telling Bubba he can't have a crispy chicken sandwich.  Not for $5.15 an hour.  Just saying.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

"It could have been worse."

For once, Trump was right.

So was Beto.  "This is fucked up."

(Thanks to