Saturday, November 30, 2019

Super fun holiday time news

I can't even take a day off because, as Charles Foster Kane observed, the news goes on for twenty-four hours a day.  But at least it's fun news.  For instance...

Leonardo DiCaprio was the subject of a conspiracy theory so insane, if Trump weren't so fat he'd be kicking himself.  Jair Bolsonaro, Trump's Portuguese-speaking twin, accused Leo of starting the wildfires that damaged the Amazon rain forest almost as badly as government policy last summer.  He also put green dye in the Olympic diving pool to embarrass Brazil.  I made one of those up.

Two people were stabbed to death by a terrorist on London Bridge yesterday.  That's not remotely funny.  This is:  before he was shot and killed by police, the murderer was stopped by a man with a fire extinguisher and a Polish immigrant with a narwhal tusk.  Let's hope Luckasz (he didn't want to give his other name) gets to stay in the country post-Brexit.  After the incident, Londoners kept cool and carried on with their regular Friday night binge-drinking.  Oh, you want more?  The terrorist was in London to attend a conference on rehabilitating offenders.  He was on parole for a plot to bomb the Stock Exchange.  This is going to come up at the next debate.

A previous debate dealt with climate change, a fact which Rightzis do not acknowledge.  When Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson failed to show up, Channel 4 represented them with ice sculptures.  BloJo has already retaliated by threatening to yank their license.  It seems the former "journalist" does not have much use for freedom of expression.

Most rockers have security to protect them from overexcited fans, but they can't protect you from yourself.  Kid Rock went on a drunken rant about Joy Behar, Oprah Winfrey and Kathy Lee Gifford and had to be led off the stage by his own bodyguards.  Stay classy, Trumpanzee.

Not at all funny are the hellish working conditions at the Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, as documented by OSHA.  One employee suffered a miscarriage in her fifth month of pregnancy (luckily she wasn't in Ohio).  I hope this helps when deciding where to buy holiday gifts.

Attention Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg:  Before you waste any more money inflating your egos with hopeless political campaigns, please read this story about Richard Sherman.  The Seahawks player has paid the lunch debt at Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, California.  Plenty more poor and hungry kids out there.  If you ask, I'll bet they'd put your name on the cafeteria.

Friday, November 29, 2019

#MeToo? #WhatAboutUs?

Everywhere you look, men who expressed half-hearted remorse a few months ago for the way they behaved with women have decided to brazen it out instead.  And why not?  If being a liar and an unsuccessful rapist doesn't keep you off the Supreme Court of the United States, how can it be a career ender for any privileged white man?  Some of the most privileged are back in the spotlight, sharing stories about the abuse they have manfully endured.

For what it's worth, Louis CK acknowledged masturbating in front of repulsed women, which has caused him no end of grief.  Now he has to go to Europe and Israel to find welcoming audiences -- those women are so much more relaxed and sophisticated than American harpies.  There were some protesters in Tel Aviv, but they may have been responding to his comparing New York unfavorably with Auschwitz.  Too soon?  I wonder how they took his slaves-in-a-field joke.

Placido Domingo, on the other hand, is bewildered by it all.  Apparently eight singers and a dancer all misinterpreted his "gallant gestures" as a demand for sex in return for engagements with the opera companies he ran.  Language problem.  Cultural crossed wires.  He too has fled to friendlier European venues like Salzburg, where he will continue screwing up baritone roles with his tenor timbre through 2021.  Where's the movement protesting that atrocity?

Unlike the others, Roman Polanski has actually been convicted of rape in California, and now fresh allegations have led to a large demonstration in Paris last Friday and the postponement of his new film J'Accuse.  More than forty years after the conviction, the French film directors guild has decided it's time to throw him out.  Of course, if the new film is as good as Chinatown....

Poor Prince Andrew is no longer welcome as a patron of the Royal Philharmonic or the English National Ballet.  He also will not attend the NATO reception at Buckingham Palace on Monday, so no chummy reunion with his fellow "Friend of Jeffrey" Donald Trump.  Virginia Giuffre is telling her side of the relationship the prince can't remember, and this little bum-burner should keep us warm all winter.  Andrew has absented himself from all his duties, whatever they are, but lest you fear he's been sent to Coventry, he was spotted riding at Windsor with the queen.  First step on the long road to rehabilitation?  Or an opportunity for HM to tear a strip off him?  Peter Morgan takes copious notes for season eight of The Crown.

And in the regular-folks world, the so-called MeToo backlash is giving men the excuse they need to avoid hiring or mentoring women without looking like troglodytes from the Eisenhower era.  In this damp, drizzly November of the soul, it sometimes seems there's no way to win.

The mask is off

There is no longer any question that anti-abortion laws are really anti-woman laws.  As the red states vie for the title of Cruelest in the Nation, Ohio surges ahead:

"A bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to 'reimplant an ectopic pregnancy' into a woman's uterus...or face charges of 'abortion murder.'  This is the second time practicing obstetricians and gynecologists have tried to tell the Ohio legislators that the idea is currently medically impossible."  (The Guardian)

No surprise that the same people who hate women also reject science, or facts in any form.  Gawd in his mysterious wisdom caused that beautiful little baby to grow in a Fallopian tube, and if the slut still wants to be rid of it because she would like to live, well, maybe she should have remained a virgin like the Blessed Mother.  Look, boys, there are two alternatives with an ectopic -- the embryo can be removed or the woman can die.  Either way, there isn't going to be a baby.  You can lock up all the ob/gyns, or you can shit-can your bill and think of some other way to make Ohio a theocracy like Iran.  Why do I bother?  It's like talking to a barrel of tar.

You know who could be helpful here?  The pope.  No, hear me out.  He was trained as a scientist and he must have some basic grasp of human biology.  For a pope to say "I hate abortion but this is just insane" would carry a lot of weight, even in Ohio.   Anyone have his email?

Thursday, November 28, 2019


The saga of Danielle Stella, twenty-first century Republican, continues.  You may remember that we last heard she was the subject of a bench warrant issued when she failed to keep a court date on shoplifting charges.  Now she's the answer to the question "What in the name of Schuyler Colfax do you have to do to get kicked off Twitter?"  What you have to do is make up a claim that a member of Congress, Ilhan Omar, has passed "sensitive info" to Iran, and then call for her to be "tried for #treason and hanged."  That was too much for the platform that shares every Trump brainfart with the rest of the planet, apparently.  It's nuts, but it's hardly even racist.  And she does call for a trial first.  (The Washington Times is wrong.  I'm shocked.)  On a personal note, I'm grateful she said "hanged" and not "hung."

Even in these debauched times, Stella has zero chance of being elected.  The people who voted for Omar are unlikely to abandon her for a Trumpian crackpot, no matter how correct her syntax.  If this is the caliber of people it attracts, I almost feel sorry for the GOP.  (Not really.)  But Twitter has handed her a reason to scream "censorship" and maybe wangle an invitation to a Bill Maher show, or even Fox.  And once she slips into the chair opposite Hannity, the King of Hate Speech Himself will take up her cause.  Not only will she be back on Twitter at second hand, she might wind up in the White House as special deputy assistant to Andrew Giuliani or something.  

(Backstory:  Andrew G. is the administration's new Sports Liaison, whatever that is.  He certainly has the skills -- I remember him as a pudgy little kid, accompanying Mayor Daddy to opening day at Yankee Stadium.  We called him Young Wackford, as in Squeers, the RSC's production of Nicholas Nickleby having just been televised.  "Pastry makes his flesh gleam.  Parents think that's healthy."  He's thinner now, but bears a tragic resemblance to Eric Trump.  Andy gets $90,000 a year to steer his deeply-hated boss away from booing situations like the World Series and toward college football games deep in the old Confederacy, where he can feel the rigorously-enforced love of the fans if they know what's good for them.  I assume.  What else could it be?)

Other career possibilities for Sticky-fingers Stella:  Tulsi Gabbard's campaign manager; Mayor Pete's liaison to the Tea Party; vacation fill-in for Jeanine Pirro; the First Escort's personal shopper (five-finger discounts be best!); Secretary of the Navy.

See what you started, Twitter?  Give her the damn account back.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Three requiems

Image result for gahan wilson cartoons
Celebrity deaths, they say, come in threes, but our newsertainers have been depressingly silent about the passing of three great men.  
Jonathan Miller has died of Alzheimer's, age 85, and Clive James of cancer, age 80.  Both were at home, surrounded by family and books, according to the obituaries I read.  In London, of course.

Gahan Wilson, the cartoonist who taught the post-Charles Addams generation about weird, died last week at 89.  He also had Alzheimer's and had to be in a nursing home, where crowd-sourcing helped pay for his care.  In America.

Stop murdering the National Health Service.
Warren for President. 


View image on Twitter

A festive gathering of morons in Sunrise, Florida, was startled to hear the star comedy attraction warn them that "some people" want to change the name of Thanksgiving.   Don't worry, Trump assured them, he won't let that happen.  Something something Fox News tertiary syphilis yadda yadda.  Better defer the War on Thanksgiving until next year, whoever you are.

Former San Francisco Giant Aubrey Huff, like Trump, has a lot of time on his hands.  He wants the Twitterverse to know that he has identified another front in the War on Stuff and is proactively teaching his children to shoot.  You know, in case the election doesn't go the way he likes next year.  

In other Florida news, Rick Wiles, the extremist cleric who runs something called TruNews, says the impeachment is the work of a "Jewish cabal."  Despite its White House press accreditation, TruNews has been banned by the Jews who run YouTube because of some alleged policy against hate speech.  See?  It's a coup!  By the Jews if we're lucky!  Because this guy can't decide whether Adam Schiff (Jew) and Nancy Pelosi (woman) are "demon-possessed or non-human."  I don't want to know what the test is, but I'm sure it involves fire.

In the real world, a major earthquake has occurred in Albania.


Have a good Black Friday Eve.

A republic, and you can keep it

After a rain you can expect mushrooms, and after a royal scandal you can expect Guardian op-eds calling for the abolition of the monarchy.  Britain should be a republic like the United States, eh?  At least you have a democracy, my island friends.  If the Tories lose by three million votes next month, Boris has to stop being prime minister.  Trump lost by three million votes and we can't get rid of him.

The problem is not the monarchy -- what are you going to call yourselves, the United Republic?  It sounds like one of those hammered-together Middle Eastern caliphates.  The problem is, as the tragic child suicide says in Jude the Obscure, they are too many.  You need to designate half a dozen who have a realistic prospect of succession and make the rest get jobs.  Real jobs, not judging flower shows.  Better for you, better for them.  The Duke of Gloucester was an architect, which takes a certain amount of intelligence and a lot of hard work.  Then his father and older brother died and he had to give it up -- god forbid a royal duke should hold a job -- and I don't know what he does now.  Andrew could easily learn to drive an Uber or clean up vacant lots.  His daughters, with some training, would be adequate sales assistants at M&S.  (Whenever I see them I think their step-sister Cinderella must be home doing the laundry.)  Until quite recently, Jimmy Carter worked on building sites, and he's 95.

The point is, a republic won't solve your problems.  You tried abolishing monarchy four centuries ago, and you got a dictator.  There's no other way to describe Old Noll, he was a Puritan Mussolini.  When he died your ancestors begged Charlie Stuart to come home.  But it's very dangerous for the head of the government to be the head of state.  Gives them ideas.  I know how restive you Brits get if a general election campaign lasts more than six weeks.  How would you like to live in a republic where the campaigning never stops?  You have an almost perfect system, and with a little tweaking it can go on for at least another four hundred years.  By then, we may have recovered from the cataclysm of Trump.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Vaudeville is alive and well

You're through, Burns and Allen.  Step aside, Stiller and Meara.  America has a new husband-and-wife comedy team, and it's Donnie and Mel!

Because I'm a bad person, I whiled away a large portion of this afternoon enjoying the middle- and high-school kids of Baltimore jeering at the First Escort.  She brought her BeBest project, or initiative, or whatever it is, to something deliriously called the Baltimore Youth Opioid Summit, dressed head to tiptoes in expensive brown leather and wearing a fresh coat of kabuki makeup.  From start to finish, the kids let her have it.  Elijah Cummings would have been proud.  You know what to do about all the scolds grieving the the loss of "civility" and "respect."

Despite reports that he now spends most of his time being "productive" in bed, her husband/straight man will still put on his Homer Simpson pants and report to the Oval when something important comes up.  Yesterday he made his very perfect signature on something called the Women's Suffrage Centenary Commemorative Coin Act.  Next year it will be a century since the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, and to make up for cancelling the Harriet Tubman twenty, her face will appear on some one-dollar gold coins along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells, and some other women you vaguely remember from that half-hour lesson in high school.    

"I'm curious why it wasn't done a long time ago," he ruminated, before responding,  "I guess the answer to that is because now I'm president, and we get things done.  We get a  lot of things done that nobody else got done."  One guess:  He thinks he just gave women the vote.  Better guess:  He doesn't know what "centenary" means.  Mulvaney pounded on his door and shouted "Gold coins!" (old people always have the television up high) until he rolled out of bed and waddled to the shower.  Am I close?  Did he specify "no fat chicks" for the photo-op?

Tomorrow there's more slapstick at the annual turkey-pardoning, an event so idiotic that even Barack Obama couldn't make it look cool, getting a ton of teenage eye-roll from Malia and Sasha.  Trump is terrified of animals and germs (and stairs, and rain, and food that requires chewing), and he has already had to be in the presence of a dog this week.  Conan is a Belgian Malinois (like a German shepherd only Belgian) who participated in the raid that led to al-Baghdadi's suicide, but despite that act of bravery, the dog was forced to visit the White House, where Trump pronounced it a "smart cookie," the same phrase he once applied to Kim Jong-un.  Kim is known to be male, but no one seems sure about Conan, and the pointless debate has gone on all day.  If Conan proves to be a bitch and not, as I suspect, a neutered male, Congress should hold hearings about why she was named after Conan O'Brien.  Finally a job Devin Nunes could handle.

Monday, November 25, 2019


Divinity:  a nougat-like confection made with egg-white, corn syrup and sugar

That's one definition, probably the most suitable for the sickness of the age.  Religiosity is inescapable in this mad society, but rarely has it been so brutally funny.

Rick "Oops" Perry can usually be counted on to cheer us up and make us forget that he's in charge of all the nuclear stuff.  Last night he showed up on the official White House Not At All Fake News channel and told Fox that his master is definitely the Lord's Anointed and not a cheap grifter in a baggy suit.  He shyly confessed to giving him "a little one-pager on those Old Testament kings," proving that he knows the limits of Messiah 2.0's attention span.  So now Trump knows that multiple concubines are OK, and that he should at least try to display grief if Eric falls into a sewer and dies.  I hope Perry didn't bring up the way David disposed of Uriah -- it might give him ideas.

Kanye West would love to be the Orange One's high priest, and he took a giant step in the sacerdotal direction by writing an opera about Nebuchadnezzar.  (Well, it has been 178 years since Verdi's.)  The Hollywood Bowl premiere was perhaps less triumphant than West's ego demanded, but who reads reviews anyway?  All music critics are racist haters.

Who has been "calling" Sarah Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas?  Only an atheist could ask such a question.  In her Fox News debut, Sanders also complained, "I don't like being called a liar," minutes after declaring that Trump "reads more than anybody I know."  Either she only knows small children and illiterate adults, or she's...

SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher will not be punished for murdering an elderly civilian in Iraq because the Chosen One said unto the Navy, "Let him who has never committed a war crime cast the first stone."  I'm assuming it happened like that.  The Secretary of the Navy was unhappy, so now he's unemployed.  Selah.

Divinity?  Fudge.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Order and law

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted for fraud and bribery and faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.  This is why Trump prefers heads of state who, like him, can't be indicted until they leave office (according to the Justice Department, if not the Constitution).  The allegations against the Israeli prime minister -- pink champagne and cigars, really? -- don't amount to a hill of beans compared to the activities of Trump's other nation-wrecking buddies Putin, Kim, Duterte, Erdogan and Bolsonaro,  not to mention Prince Mohammed of the Bone Saws, who runs Saudi Arabia for his senescent father.  But for all its problems and imperfections, Israel is a democracy where the rule of law is still taken seriously.

Bad things happen to those deemed criminals in China, where a third Opium War appears to be ramping up.  Purdue Pharma a/k/a the Sackler family has filed for bankruptcy protection from the thousands of lawsuits occasioned by its deceptive promotion of OxyContin in the US.  Its affiliate Mundipharma, however, is pushing the little pills in China and has already broken their laws concerning confidentiality, fake doctors, and outrageous lies about the drug's safety.  Maybe the Sacklers thought 400,000 dead (the US figure) wouldn't be noticed in a country of 1.3 billion.  Maybe they just don't care.  There's a long tradition of Americans companies dumping drugs on the rest of the world that can't be sold here anymore, not to mention pesticides and other chemicals, but this is so outrageous I'm actually rooting for the Chinese government.  Stop them before they zero in on India.

Most people looking at ten years, like Bibi, would be happy with a simple "not guilty."  One member of Scott Warren's jury said, "I think we all agreed that what he and these people do is fantastic."  Warren was indicted for providing food, water and shelter to two refugees who crossed into Arizona last year, under the federal "we don't care if we look like monsters" law.  He was also cleared of the misdemeanor charge of leaving water on public land (the Border Patrol delights in dumping the bottles if they get there first because they really are monsters).  So let me get this straight -- in Arizona the federal government couldn't find twelve people who think migrants should die like animals in the desert?  Interesting.  It speaks well of another American tradition, of challenging bad laws through non-violent action.

As the impeachment grinds on, Trump has decided the Senate is the place "where he can expect fairness and receive due process," i.e., it's controlled by Republicans.  He wants Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff, The Whistleblower, and probably Hillary Clinton to face the withering questions of Lindsey Graham and other great legal minds before the foregone conclusion of COMPLETE EXONERATION!  NO QUID PRO QUO!  NO COLLUSION!  GREATEST PRESIDENT OF ALL TIME!  Also NO JURY TAMPERING in spite of today's festive lunch with Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.   Mittens isn't up for re-election until 2024, but he could always threaten to go to Maine and do for Collins what he did for Matt Bevin and Joe Rispone.  She's not his type anyway.

On a personal note, I've been reading about the Civil War and listening to David Blight's superb course "The Civil War and Reconstruction Era 1845-1877," astonishingly available free at the Yale University server.  We think the first civil war was a matter of geographical divide because the shorthand designations are North and South, but really, it was a moral impasse between slavery and abolition.  This was quite deliberately muddied by Southern historians and "Lost Cause" proponents and further obscured by the fog of racism, but after all this time nothing could be more plain.  And as Paul Krugman makes clear today, we are just as hopelessly divided.  One side simply does not see the other side as having a legitimate right to govern, democracy be damned.  I wish I could say with confidence that this doesn't end at another Fort Sumter.  We should probably stop looking for parallels in the Third Reich and examine our own national scars.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Cockeyed caravan

If you think Col. Vindman's evisceration of the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee was fun, check out South Dakota's stumbling attempt to deal with its worst drug problem.

Trump left his bed for a Cabinet meeting/ass-kissing session today.  Apparently he's displeased with Pompeo's inability or unwillingness to keep State Department personnel away from the Capitol.   Could everyone scrunch over and make room for plus-size Mike under the bus?

Marie Yovanovitch went to hear Arturo Sandoval and his band at Blues Alley in Georgetown and got another standing ovation last night.  I hope the club comped her party.  The drunken rapist Kavanaugh had a less welcoming experience at the Federalist Society dinner, being forced to walk past a giant screen playing Dr. Christine Ford's testimony.  Some people still think the Supreme Court ought to be above politics.  Never was, never will be.

Charlie Pierce, who does this for a living, has identified at least twenty-two different defenses offered for Trump's crimes.  This is just the Ukraine business, you understand, not encouraging Russia to molest our electoral process or his daily bath in emoluments or anything else.  If none of them works, Louie Gohmert will run around the tables scattering papers and honking like Harpo.

God save the BBC, long live the BBC, god save the Beeb.  If not for BBC America I wouldn't see anything about the mounting violence in Hong Kong, the fuel-price riots in Iran, the presidential election in Sri Lanka or the coup attempt in Bolivia.  Our own network newsies would have more time to at least mention these events if they devoted less time to the ill-advised interview given by Andrew, Duke of York, about his involvement with one of Jeffrey Epstein's underage escorts.  Andrew's life has been one long cock-up, but Americans love their royalty and it's all about the ratings.  

"Am I laughing?" John L. Sullivan asks another member of his chain gang in Preston Sturges's masterpiece Sullivan's Travels, as they watch a cartoon in a weathered Southern church.  He is, and he can't believe it, but it convinces him the world needs more movies like Hey-hey In the Hayloft.  I know the feeling.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Circle the wagons, jack up the buses

The right continues to pattern itself after a bucket of scorpions.  Sending the message that dissent will not be tolerated, KNUS radio in Denver yanked Craig Silverman off the air in mid-show after he played a 2015 interview with Roger Stone expressing unease about Trump's connection to McCarthy gunsel Roy Cohn.  Silverman, a reliable conservative in the Andrew Napolitano mold, even had his page removed from the station's website.  After he goes on CNN to describe the experience, there's bound to be a tweet or two calling him a loser.  By now, in fact, he's probably been offered a job on CNN.

John Bel Edwards opposes gun control and reproductive rights but he has a D after his name, which usually stands for "doomed" in Dixie.  That he won re-election as governor of Louisiana is therefore all down to Trump rousing the rabble for his opponent Eddie Rispone, not in fact a minor character in The Sopranos but a bidnessman "outsider."  Handed his second electoral failure in a week (because it's always about him), Trump apparently felt bad enough to spend two hours at Walter Reed yesterday.  The official story is that 1) he was visiting with the family of a soldier undergoing surgery, or 2) he needed a headstart on his annual checkup, or 3) he was in the neighborhood and decided to get his bone spurs removed at last.  The real story is that Stephanie Grisham actually did her job by sort of communicating with news media.  While speculation is fun, I'll wait for the necropsy.

"She's going to go through some things" is the kind of thinly-veiled threat that could cover anything from polonium tea to anonymous abuse from Breitbart cowards.  Anyway, it's a historic first:  witnesses against Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton never had to put up with shit like that, at least not directly from Johnson and Clinton, in the sight of the whole world.  Progress, I imagine, but Marie Yovanovitch doesn't look like she scares easily.  In her diplomatic career she has probably run into cheap gangsters before, wearing better suits.  And those who say the hearings lack "pizazz" -- no damp cigars or semen-stained dresses yet? -- have certainly never experienced the spontaneous ovation that followed her testimony.  Nor should they ever.

In Smartphone vs. dumb lawyer news, Rudolph Giuliani says he isn't worried about joining all the others beneath the wheels because "I have bus insurance."  Intriguing.  I'm so old, I remember when he used to prosecute gangsters.  

Friday, November 15, 2019

How long can you tread water?

Sometimes you really wish there was video.  The Veneto (Italy) regional council, dominated by right-wing parties, voted against a number of climate change proposals, and within minutes the council chamber began to flood.  The flood-control system is eight years late and way over budget, and there's talk of corruption.  Also fear of structural damage to St. Mark's Basilica, so if you haven't seen it yet...

Meanwhile, the Ohio House of Representatives, dominated by a right-wing party, passed the "Student Religious Liberties Act," because we need dumber Americans.  If it becomes law, students can't be penalized for getting their science (or presumably history and math) exams wrong as long as the answers they give are based on religious dogma.  This should make it easier for high school graduates from the other forty-nine states (even Tennessee!) to get into real colleges.

Do you believe in synchronicity?  Sen. Richard Blumenthal was actually speaking about gun control legislation in the Senate yesterday when he was handed a note advising of the school shooting in Santa Clarita, California.  Of course, it was too soon to politicize the event -- one of the victims hadn't even died yet.

Wait until the other convicts get a look at Roger Stone's Nixon tattoo!  I kid, of course.  Trump's been too busy tweeting witness intimidation and other abuse to sign the pardon.  Check back tomorrow.  In the meantime Alex Jones, who has been getting slapped around in court himself, promises all sorts of vengeance against the jury.  Sue them for treason, Alex!

Recep Erdogan got the full-on dictator's welcome at the White House, and today he received a lovely parting gift:  Lindsey Graham blocked a Senate resolution condemning the 1915 Armenian genocide.  (It didn't even mention the Kurds.)  Good boy, Lindsey!  Have a treat!  We'll go walkies soon, yes we will.

The Republican National Committee is holding its winter meeting at the Doral National Trump Intergalactic Splendido Trump Hotel and Spa, because at some level, they know they deserve to sleep on bedbugs.

The Trumpites have decided that The Whistleblower is Alexander Soros, son of Dr. Evil himself.  The son doesn't even work in government, but so what?  Comet Ping Pong Pizza doesn't have a basement, either.  QED, libtards.  Get over it.

Say this for the Russian puppet, he doesn't care how bad he looks.  Valery Leontiev, Putin's favorite crooner, will play the Trump Trash Palace New Year's Eve party next month.  I guess the Kremlin gets Ted Nugent.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Like many septuagenarians, Trump seems to regret moving to Florida.  Yesterday he was back in New York inserting himself into the city's Veterans Day parade.  It did not go well.  Should have gone to Arlington, where it's easier to vet the crowd.

Three thousand miles away, Donald Junior had had a worse time.  A draft-dodger who slanders veterans and Gold Star families should anticipate booing at a Veterans Day event.  An "author" who shows up to promote his liberal-trashing "book" to a mob of white nationalists expects a warmer reception, especially when he brings his glossy girlfriend along for them to look at.  But Fredo refused to take questions (some would say because he hasn't read the "book") and the nationalists didn't like it.  Everything about this is hilarious.

A 33-year-old orangutan has arrived at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida.  Why is this significant?  Because Sandra previously lived in Argentina  (like many others, an immigrant from Germany) where she was officially granted personhood status.  This is going to wind up in the Supreme Court.  What if Sandra wants to run for governor?

I feel safe in saying, however, that only in America could you read the words "killed by shrapnel from a gender reveal party."  This is a new atrocity invented by people with more money than sense.  It's no longer enough to gather friends and family and serve cupcakes with pink or blue frosting.  Telling everyone your fetus's sex requires NFL-style pyrotechnics and first responders on speed-dial.  The revelry so far has included a plane crash and a car destroyed by fire, in addition to that pipe-bomb fatality in Iowa.  Some day the parents will have to explain why little Dylan only has one Nana.

Colorful commentator Don Cherry does not regret the colorful things he said about immigrants which got him fired from the revered Hockey Night In Canada.   It's not clear how he knows that none of them wear a paper poppy at this time of the year, but now he has more time for research.

If you're less than enthralled with the dozens of candidates for president, how about Don "the Con" Blankenship, pursuing the nomination of something called the Constitution Party.  He's also currently suing all sorts of people for defamation because they identified him as a felon (he was convicted of a misdemeanor, something to do with twenty-nine dead miners in Utah).  And the defendants include Donald Trump, Jr., which is where I came in.  I keep getting Blankenship confused with the other coal monster Bob Murray, whose lawsuit against HBO and John Oliver was dismissed to great rejoicing here.  No regrets.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

They shall not grow old

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, when we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  Like this clown:

"As we drove past the rows of white grave markers [at Arlington National Cemetery], I also thought of all the attacks we'd already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we'd have to make to help my father succeed..."

That's from Triggered:  How the Left Thrives On Hate and Wants To Silence Us, a book published under the name of Donald J. Trump, Jr., which even the business press have identified as an ugly whine of self-pity and moral purblindness befitting the crown prince of Trumpenland.  (Daddy Sir is even compared with Martin Luther King at one point; check the index for similar references to George Washington and Jesus).  I predict it will become a yuge bestseller.  Oh wait -- it already is.  Yes, the RNC has bulk-bought this sure-to-become-a-classic and is passing it out like peanuts -- literally, for many Trump supporters believe books are edible.

With all the royalties pouring in, Junior will be able to cover his share of the two million dollars the Trump Foundation (of which he was an officer) has been fined by New York Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla, who has some weird idea that charities should be charitable.  Her decision dwells on the board members' "fiduciary duties" and doesn't mention spending $12,000 on a football helmet* or even seven bucks for Junior's Boy Scout dues, because she is a serious jurist; there's a rundown of other trash purchases here.   Two million dollars is nothing for a real billionaire, but Trump might not have that much cash in all his "businesses."  Perhaps Mexico will pay it.

*Autographed by Tim Tebow.  Not even Johnny Unitas.

Anyway, good to know the left is thriving.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Daddy state

Michael "Call Me Mike" Bloomberg knows what's best for people.  When he was mayor of New York he banned smoking in bars and restaurants, which is a good thing for people who don't want their clothes to stink.  He founded Everytown For Gun Safety back when the NRA was flush with rubles and not yet fighting with its own officials, so that was brave.  He tried to stop the sale of giant sugary drinks because of obesity and diabetes, but that just got him slapped down by the courts and mocked by Sarah Palin.  He gave so much money to his old college that there's talk of changing its name from Johns Hopkins to Michael Bloomberg; who now remembers Johns Hopkins, or can remember that it's not "John"?

New Yorkers voted to amend their city charter in order to limit the mayor to two terms, mostly because twelve years of Ed Koch was giving everybody indigestion.  Koch was an admirable Congressman but power went to his head and turned him right-wing cranky.  Bloomberg understood this, so he got the city council to "amend" the charter and permit him to continue his good works,  creating bike lanes and making contraceptives available to public school children.  It wasn't all admirable -- he wanted people in public housing fingerprinted because those people don't have enough to contend with, and when the taxi fleets refused to adopt new technology he promised to "destroy your fucking industry" (Uber did it for him).  Money doesn't talk in politics, it screams.  How many mayors have disdained Gracie Mansion because they already owned a house in Manhattan?  And a website that reflects their positions on an hourly basis (  By comparison, Trump's Twitter account is like passing out fliers.

Other ways they differ:  Bloomberg is highly intelligent, not a racist or a misogynist, and does not appear to be clinically mad.   The same could be said of many people.  For a President, these should be basic requirements, the kinds of things we once took for granted.  So when Bloomberg announces he is entering the race, we are entitled to ask why.  Not enough rich, entitled white men?  Howard Schultz is gone but we still have Tom Steyer, thank you.  Fear of an Elizabeth Warren planet?  It seems to be confined to the plutocrats she promises to tax -- the rest of us are more than happy with that.  He probably isn't excited by the prospect of witnessing an actual Moscow May Day parade.  He would not be complicit in slaughtering the Kurds and might even close the border concentration camps.  It still isn't enough.  Bloomberg should empty the pockets of his old suits and use the cash to turn Texas and Georgia as blue as the bonny blue Virginia.  It can be done.  This vanity candidacy, on the other hand, is a non-starter.

Of course, the next president will be a lame duck because Kanye West is running in 2024.  Sorry for the TMZ link, but no serious media are taking it seriously.  Kanye -- sorry, Christian Genius Billionaire Kanye West -- is a huge Trump supporter when off his meds.  "What y'all laughing at?"
What indeed?  


Thursday, November 07, 2019

Bad boys

Paul Fussell once wrote an essay about the folly of responding to negative reviews.  You can't win and it makes you look like a sorehead, was the gist of it.  In issue after issue, the Letters column of the (insert city here) Review of Books proves he was right.  Some writers can't wait until the next edition to look like soreheads and prefer the white-hot speed of social media.  And some choose a more direct approach.

For instance, the cultural critic Stanley Crouch took exception to Dale Peck's review of his novel Don't the Moon Look Lonesome.  Not content with dismissing Peck as "a troubled queen," Crouch slapped him in a New York restaurant -- apparently not the first time he got physical with a critic.  The same year, he was asked to join a panel judging the PEN/Newman's Own Award intended "to protect speech as it applies to the written word," so thanks, PEN, for topping up the strategic irony reserve.  Crouch is a certified genius.  Just ask the MacArthur Foundation.

Back in 2001, Colson Whitehead reviewed the short story collection A Multitude of Sins in terms less glowing than Richard Ford thought proper.  I don't know if Ford complained to the editors of the New York Times Book Review, but he waited two years to confront Whitehead at a party and spit in his face, after addressing him as "kid."  Ford is a good old boy from Mississippi, so he probably expects credit for not calling him "boy," but two years is a long time to save up your saliva.  For this and other acts of Trumpishness the Paris Review has given Ford its lifetime achievement award.

All right.  It's not on a level with William Burroughs shooting his wife in the head, or Norman Mailer stabbing his, or even William F. "The American Burke" Buckley calling Gore Vidal a "queer" on national television while also threatening violence.  But if cultural arbiters reward borderline criminal behavior, it's certain we'll see more of it.  Writers are not that stable to begin with.  And now the Nobel has gone to an apologist for genocide.  I think there should be consequences for that sort of thing, no matter how much "terse poetry" you bring to your prose.  If you can't coexist decently with other people, go live in the woods like J.D. Salinger.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Remember, remember

...the fifth of November.  For an off-off-year election it yielded some fascinating results.  Trump took time out of his busy schedule of abusing allies and coddling dictators to campaign for Matt Bevin, the incumbent governor of Kentucky, who is as popular there as tornadoes on Derby day.  But it wasn't really about Bevin:  "You gotta vote because if you lose, it sends a really bad message...You can't let that happen to me."  But it did, and Andy Beshear won by a few thousand votes, virtually the only Democrat elected.  Moscow Mitch must be hoping Trump will forget his name by next year.  It could happen.  He calls his wife "Melanie" and Kevin McCarthy "Steve."  There has been a blessed silence from the world's most overused Twitter account today, and no whining at reporters while Marine One whined in the background.  Peace, it's wonderful.

Beshear will have a steep climb, but in his speech he promised to work on voting rights, education, healthcare and government pensions, issues which apparently resonated with the voters even more than their disgust with Bevin/Trump.  So of course the Experts were all over the shop, warning Democrats that they need to nominate a presidential candidate who will tack right-center on voting rights, education, and especially healthcare.  And, it goes without saying, is male.  In a bizarre New York Times op-ed Jesse Wegman panicked at the remote possibility that Nancy Pelosi might become President.  I don't know Wegman, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he did not choose the photo of the Speaker's high-heeled shoes which ran with it.  He just rehearsed all the right-wing arguments -- she's of a different party, she was only elected by the voters of one Congressional district (like Gerald Ford), she doesn't have a penis (no, sorry, that was only implied).   It's easy to forget that Mike "Mr. Cellophane" Pence exists, but I think he would have time to choose a vice-president before being raptured, or whatever fate Wegman anticipates for him.  Impeachment is a long, slow process, some would say too damn slow.

Of course Trump learned nothing from the Kentucky and Virginia elections, just as he learned nothing from the World Series and Ultimate Fighting debacles.  He's making a personal appearance at a Veterans Day event in New York City, on the assumption that no one would boo a solemn wreath-laying.  I trust New Yorkers to silently give him the finger.

Civility, please!

Juli Briskman expressed her opinion of Trump and was fired.  Last night she got a new job as a Loudoun County, Virginia, Supervisor.  The rest of the state also flipped him the bird, giving Democrats control of both houses of the legislature.

I expect more empty threats about "civil war."

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

I have some issues

Some things have been bothering me.

Lately when I order something from Amazon (Prime) it shows up the next day.  Does this mean the Bezos galley slaves are working at ramming speed?  Should I feel guilty?

Would you believe I've never seen a James Bond movie all the way through?  I get bored about half an hour in.  So I don't give a damn if the next James Bond is black, trans, uses a wheelchair or is played by Warwick Davis, as long as it infuriates Jabba the Rush.

Considering he's already been financed by the taxpayers through the CPB and National Endowment for the Humanities, where does Ken Burns get off charging to watch his docs on YouTube?  Ric Burns lets you watch New York free, and all you have to do is fast-forward past Giuliani.

Speaking of sleaze, Trump and his toadies continue to demand the name of The Whistleblower, so s/he can get the Valerie Plame treatment.  Why is no one heralding every appearance of Caligulard with a furious blowing of whistles?  They're small, easily concealed and ear-wreckingly loud.  Forget the signs -- Trump can't read.

She's not my type

ThumbnailAlso, this is Native American Heritage Month.  Pay no attention to the racist behind the curtain.

Monday, November 04, 2019

My book report: There will always be blood

Edward Berenson, The Accusation:  Blood Libel In an American Town, W.W. Norton & Co., 2019

Some of the most gripping histories I have read were not written by professional historians -- David McCullough, Erik Larson, Garry Wills, Max Hastings and David Grann come to mind.  Edward Berenson is a historian and though his prose tends toward the workmanlike, he relates a compelling story about a forgotten chapter -- really a paragraph -- in American history, grounding it in a deep history that lives on.

Berenson begins with the story of a missing child in an upstate New York town, Massena, which is not resolved until page 181.  (No spoiler here.)  In the intervening chapters he blends the history of his own family, of the town of Massena, of the growth of American industrialism -- maybe a little too much about refining aluminum, but the man is thorough -- of immigration, the Ku Klux Klan, the sulphurous presidential election of 1928, and above all the infamous "blood libel" which has followed Jews through the centuries.  I had a rough sense of what it entailed from reading about the murder trial of Mendel Beilis in 1913 Kiev, but I didn't know it originated in twelfth-century England.  Nor did I know that in North America it seems to have flourished only in French-speaking (and Catholic) Quebec -- no sightings in Latin America, apparently.  Berenson fills in the gaps and explains how the myth arrived here with the high tide of Catholic immigration from Italy, Poland and Hungary.  When the Klan targets Catholics much more than Jews (too small a group and largely urban) or African Americans (constrained by Jim Crow laws), you almost don't know who to root for.

It is a fact that anti-Catholic hatred climaxed in 1928 because of the Smith-Hoover election.  Weirdly prefiguring the Islamophobia to come, Evangelicals warned that a Smith victory would lead to the imposition of "canon law" on the United States, and even that Catholics were stockpiling weapons in their churches.  But when Barbara Griffiths went missing weeks before the election, somebody -- never identified but described as "a foreigner" -- knew just where to look:  the synagogue, where she must have been ritually murdered.  It didn't take much more to assemble a mob, especially when the rabbi was invited to police headquarters for questioning.  By chance it was the eve of Yom Kippur.  Had it been Passover, there might have been violence.

The blood libel is unkillable, having found a home in Islamic countries where apparently it is now Muslim children whose blood is required for matzo and Jews continue to plot world domination.  The Russian Orthodox Church has called the killing of Nicholas II and his family "ritual murder" because the leader of the firing squad was a Jew.  And a Bolshevik, of course, though the Putin regime now blames Jews for destroying the Soviet Union.  If Jews did not exist, demagogues would have had to invent them, as Oceania (it is hinted) invented Emanuel Goldstein to star in the Two Minutes'  Hate.  It's more like two millennia.  Berenson notes on the last page that St. Lawrence county, New York, voted for Trump, but he never mentions the "very fine people" who marched through Charlottesville chanting "Jews will not replace us."  Books have to end somewhere.  I wonder if this pernicious myth ever will.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Ultimate booing

View image on Twitter

Trump and two male spawn attended an Ultimate Fighting event at the Garden, and this happened.

Maybe forget sports for a while.  Try scrapbooking.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Through the looking glass

The impeachment has now entered its goofy phase.

When a reporter asked, "Do you think it's OK for the president to pressure foreign governments to interfere in our elections?" Rep. Don Young (R-AK) responded by head-butting the camera.  Young is 86, so it may be time to push him out to sea on an ice floe, if Alaska still has one.

Cybersecurity "expert" and "lawyer" Rudolph Giuliani locked himself out of his Smartphone after entering the wrong code ten times.  He had to seek help at the Apple store like a common non-expert.  Not just any Apple store, but one in Gomorrah-by-the-Bay, San Francisco, where I suppose he was sent to gather kompromat on Nancy Pelosi.

Tucker Carlson has evidently lost what must be termed his mind.  He now regales viewers with weird, highly developed fantasies about Adam Schiff masturbating to "impeachment," which Tucker believes the Congressman has taped to his bedroom wall like his own Trump posters.  Here, have a link, I can't describe it.

Did you know the Fourth Reich has a Faith and Opportunity Initiative?  Sure, why not?  Florida religion hustler Paula White has been hired to pray away the impeachment and to assure everyone what a devout Christian Trump is.  Why, he once offered to build her a "crystal cathedral," the best cathedral ever, believe me.  With a gold T on top instead of a cross.  Apparently the Russians preferred to launder their money through a hotel in Turkmenistan that has no guests rather than try to out-grift the prosperity-gospel crowd.  Wise choice.

The impeachers want bloodthirsty loon John Bolton to testify, but he says he won't do so "voluntarily."  So it's like when the cops say, "Let us come in and look around" and the suspect says, "You got a warrant?" and the cops say, "No, but we can get one," and then after the commercial they come back with a warrant because some judge likes Jack McCoy's hot new ADA, and they search the place and find the gun in about fifteen seconds because the suspect didn't bother to hide it.  Like that.    Bolton, you'll recall, was fired after a few weeks from whatever job he had in the White House, so that revenge is probably cold enough to serve now.  But you know, get a warrant subpoena.

Speaking of law and order, banditos are breaching the glorious new WALL with power tools easily available at Home Depot and strolling through with their drugs.  See, this is why Trump wanted a moat full of poisonous dragons and those fish that swim up your penis.   Don't you people understand the meaning of "stable genius" yet?

Missouri's state health director keeps a spreadsheet which tracks the menstrual periods of patients at Planned Parenthood clinics.  I can only assume that, having all but outlawed abortion, the Show Me Your Tampons state plans to criminalize the monthly destruction of all those millions of innocent eggs which are wantonly flushed away instead of becoming beautiful new babies.  Even before The Handmaid's Tale, Philip Roth anticipated this in Our Gang.

Clear an hour:  Trump thinks all this witch hunt hoax impeachment will go away if he reads the (redacted) transcript of his shakedown call on television, maybe with Zelensky's lines read by Scott Baio.  That's standard Trump blather.  What's unforgivable and possibly impeachable is calling it a "fireside chat."  Why not do it in Gettysburg and shit on two great presidents at once?

I'm tired.  Remember to set your clocks back  -- to 1974.

Friday, November 01, 2019

A soggy day

"'I wish I hadn't cried so much!' said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out.  'I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!  That will be a queer thing, to be sure!  However, everything is queer today.'"

It has been a queer week, in a country where the suggestion of tears once could end a campaign (see Muskie, Ed).  Lawrence VanDyke, nominated for the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, sobbed during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee just because the American Bar Association called him "arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules," i.e., another Trump/McConnell Special.  Some of their current batch are so bad that even Ted Cruz has threatened to vote no, although it's just a threat.

Trump, of course, is a real man and never cries, but he always seems to inspire tears in others -- with one major exception.  In a speech to something wonderfully called the Shale Insight Conference, he bragged of tearing up "the ridiculous Waters of the United States rule" (environment + Obama = BAD) and claimed that the "tough, strong men and women" who witnessed his act of courage "almost all of them were crying."  Not because they want to drink clean water but because, well, "Sir, you've given our life [as miners and builders] back to us."  This was not just bullshit, it was badly timed bullshit.  Before it was shut down today, the Keystone Pipeline leaked 383,000 gallons of shale-tar oil onto North Dakota.  Guess who wants to build another one.

In his long, incoherent speech/victory dance about the suicide of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Trump asserted that he was "whimpering and crying" before detonating his explosive vest.  There is, of course, no evidence for this.  His gleeful description of the children who died with him would be beneath contempt if it weren't certain Trump will say something even more despicable tomorrow, probably before noon.

Not necessarily untruthful, though.  A roomful of checkbooks always seems to encourage truth-telling in these people.  Recall that it was a private party surreptitiously recorded where Mitt Romney doomed his campaign by dismissing nearly half the country as "takers."  At a similar gathering in Minneapolis, Trump decided -- who knows why -- to describe how Mrs. Steve Scalise "cried her eyes out" after her husband was shot at a baseball game.  Her natural human response seems to have shocked him.  "Not many wives would react that way to tragedy, I know mine wouldn't."  This, we were told, was another of those Trump jokes that have to be explained.  I don't think so.  For one thing, she probably can't cry, or blink.

I suspect that not a lot of tears are being shed in New York City at the announcement that the tax-dodging Trumps are changing their official address to Palm Beach County, Florida.  (Governor Cuomo claims they don't pay taxes anyway.)  Perhaps it was the prospect of their stretch of Fifth Avenue being named Barack Obama Boulevard.  Possibly this will make it easier to scrape the toxic Trump name off the building where they keep their fake Renoir, allowing other people to sell their apartments at less of a loss.  Or maybe it's just because Trump Tower is a firetrap.