Saturday, February 29, 2020

Laughter, the best medicine

It's a dark time.  We just have to get used to it, and laugh.  Hard.

An Instagram "influencer" -- someone who apparently makes a living getting idiots to buy and like shit by mentioning it on Instagram -- was having a pool party in Moscow for her twenty-ninth birthday, old enough to know better, you'd have thought.  One of her coterie thought it would be visually impressive to dump dry ice in the pool.  People in the water began to choke and pass out, and three of them died, including the birthday girl's husband.  The mother of two -- oh, good grief -- sprang into action, posting a video message to her one million followers.  So expect more of this.

Trumpanzees, meet Brexiteers.  They're angry because the storm currently affecting Britain had to go through Spain first, where meteorologists named it Jorge.  Bloody foreign names!  You can't make this up.

Certain states will not allow public officials to use the phrase "climate change" or "global warming."  British officials, similarly, have been ordered not to use "no-deal Brexit" to describe the no-deal Brexit engineered by Boris "Sir Winston Who?" Johnson.  This is the Dickensian circumlocution they have to use instead.

Because what you call things is more important than reality.  Anyplace Democrats hold a caucus or primary, this creature Trump shows up the night before to harangue the "very fine people" who burn churches and drive into crowds.  He has decided the COVID-19 epidemic is a "hoax," one of his favorite words for anything that displeases him.  Yesterday the hoax killed a nineteen-year-old patient in Kirkland, Washington, and South Korea reported 813 new hoax cases.  

Instead of Rikers Island, convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein is in Bellevue Hospital.  I guess the walker was pretty convincing.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that with the possible exception of Pastor Hamm (of the Kentucky dinosaur "museum"), Mike Pence is the worst person to lead the Coronavirus fight.  This elicited an angry retort from Ted Cruz, challenging her to define a Y chromosome.  Either he thinks the virus is sex-specific, or he really doesn't know.  She brushed him off like a drugged housefly.  Of course, Ted's party thinks the Y chromosome confers the right to speak, act and lead.  They're a little covfefe about that.

When last we saw South Carolina senatorial candidate Jamie Harrison, the local Fox station was mixing him up with a female shoplifting suspect.  Now Chris Matthews has confused him with Senator Tim Scott.  A week ago Matthews compared Bernie Sanders's victory in Nevada to the German conquest of France in 1940.  It may be time for Chris to retire and write his next book, Another Genuflection To Camelot.

Samuel Beckett would feckin' love this.

As for Trump, he did what any responsible person does during an epidemic.  He convened a summit of Candace Owens, Diamond and Silk.  (We've had a female Dr. Who and female Ghostbusters -- it was time for the female Amos, Andy and the Kingfish.)  After receiving their praise, he declared the emergy just about over:  "It's going to disappear, one day it's like a miracle, it will disappear, and from our shores, we've, you know, it could get worse before it gets better, it could maybe go away, we'll see what happens," etc., etc.  Mostly he was focused on a theatrical production based on the romantic emails of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who have obsessed him for months.  He has also begun tweeting with quotation marks around his own name, but it probably isn't a symptom of anything.  Mick Mulvaney swears that Trump barely sleeps, not from pharmaceuticals or a bad conscience -- a Trump with a conscience, as if! -- but because of his "great genes."  He simply does not need what every human requires to avoid psychosis.

Perhaps I've said too much.  Laugh, damn it!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Six trillion dollars, or Will blog for food

That's how much the world's stock markets lost this week.  I don't know how many zeros that is.  But at least I don't have to depend on a 401k.

Let's get right to the news and the antidepressants.  It's Friday somewhere.

When global climate change closes a door, it opens a window:  A previously unmapped island has been revealed by melting ice in Antarctica.  Sif Island has a few seals, and there are plans for a Starbucks and an Amazon fulfillment center.

Del Hall of Cincinnati is attempting to break his own record by giving up everything but beer for Lent.  Last year he claims he lost 44 pounds in 46 days, and he's going for 50 days.  If I remember, Lent lasts only forty days but, well, look at the other news.  Skoal!

Seven hundred thirty-seven beer drinkers (besides Del) were polled by 5W Public Relations, and 38% said they would not buy Corona beer.  An additional 14% said they would not order one in public (at home with the blinds drawn is fine, I assume).  5W didn't ask who they plan to vote for, but I think I can guess.

With the Centers for Disease Control at DefCon 1, another whistleblower has come forward, a senior official in the Department of Health and Human Services.  She thought we should know that the fourteen HHS employees sent to deal with repatriated Coronavirus patients at two Air Force bases in California had no protective gear or training.  Some of them actually pointed this out to their clueless supervisor (probably another pharmaceutical lobbyist like Secretary Azar).  The whistleblower has already suffered retaliation within HHS, so her reluctance to reveal her identity and become next week's Marie Yovanovitch or Tomeka Hart is understandable.  After working with the infected people, some of the HHS fourteen went home on commercial flights.  In short, everything is fine.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) doesn't believe everything is fine.  At a hearing ostensibly about the Soleimani assassination (remember that?), he tried to get Mike Pompeo to say his master doesn't consider the epidemic a hoax.  Pompeo said that was "a gotcha question" and he had no time to answer it because he was in a hurry to hear the new Rightzi hotsie Naomi Seibt at CrapPAC, you know, first things first.  Another California Congressman, John Garamendi, noticed that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was forced to cancel appearances on five Sunday news shows by not-czar Mike Pence.  Pence jumped right into his new job by ordering that all information be cleared by his office, which only an America-hating liberal would call censorship.  He needs to pray over it first.

Dr. Fauci's Sunday morning schedule is suddenly clear.  I'll bet he can find a slot on Fox News, if he's willing to confirm that the real problem is Democrats, with their diversity and their Trump Derangement Syndrome.   Basically they want to kill people to make the Leader look bad.  Pure evil is what they are.

Damn it, I wanted to keep this light.  For some cosmic perspective, here's video of the biggest explosion ever seen from this puny, insignificant planet.  Hope it helps.

If not, try this.   

Thursday, February 27, 2020

I can't tie this tie, either

"It's not a windmill, is it?  They cause cancer."

Syringes full of Mars germs!

ThumbnailThere you go -- chemtrails.  Why did I have to learn this from Boulder County Moms and not Medal of Limbaugh?  Rush has been looking into this, like, deeply, and the problem, as usual, is a woman who didn't stay home and make her man feel special.  She went to medical school and eventually became director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (no doubt hired by Barack HUSSEIN Obama of Kenya).  OK, she took her husband's name and is known as Nancy Messonnier, but that was a cunning ploy to conceal her true identity as Rod Rosenstein's sister.   In furtherance of the never-ending conspiracy against Trump, she "warned" of "community spread" to panic all the stock markets and erase the glorious growth of the American economy.  After some initial confusion about what "sister" and "brother" mean, Jabba the Rush spilled the whole story to his rapt Dildoheads Dittoheads -- but without the crucial chemtrails.  Is he just embarrassed that the Moms figured it out first?

Anyway, that's why feminazi Messonnier was absent last night when the COVID-19 problem was solved by handing it off to Mike Pence.   (Don't call him a czar.  Vladimir I is the only czar.)  When he wasn't using a press conference about a potential epidemic to attack various Democrats, Trump assured us that Pence "has a certain talent for this" based on his Three Stooges approach to the HIV crisis in Indiana.  No, I take that back -- even Larry, Moe and Curly would not have spent precious dollars on "conversion therapy" because they were stooges, not morons.  Trump also repeated the nonsense he got from President Xi about warm weather destroying the virus, and nobody laughed out loud or questioned him.   Why were reporters even present?  Overcome by the great honor, Pence was observed wiping his nose with his bare hand.  Yeah, this'll be fine.

Back in the real world, Japan has closed all its schools and Britain may do the same.  (Eton, too?  Surely not Eton.)  Nothing kneecaps the economy like parents forced to stay home with young children, people afraid to work or shop, workers laid off because goods are not coming in from Asia, stores running out of food, sickness thinning the ranks of police, firefighters and EMTs, travel disruptions (Saudi Arabia has banned foreign pilgrims), and demagogues spreading paranoia and blaming the Usual Scapegoats.  As Charlie Pierce put it, "By St. Patrick's Day, your crazy uncle is going to be convinced that Chuck Schumer and Robert Mueller are after him with syringes full of Mars germs."  Before then.  See above.

But government goes on.  The Justice Department has managed to find funds and personnel for a new division dedicated to revoking naturalized citizenship, barely a week after Mick Mulvaney was in Britain pleading for more immigrants.  Trump is still mad that he couldn't abolish the Fourteenth Amendment by royal decree, so he's determined to get rid of the unacceptables one at a time.  People who commit crimes here, like claiming to be college graduates and then signing where it says "I declare under penalty of perjury."  Now more than ever we need to see the former Melania von Clapp's college transcripts.  Her anchor baby doesn't look like he's ready to be away from Mama if she's jailed and then deported.  Maybe just a language problem.  "Perjury" could be Slovenian for  "meatloaf."

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Significant disruption

Alex Azar, HHS Secretary, and the Centers for Disease Control "are all doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus!" is the official word today.  Well, of course they are.  This is the best of times.  Investors may not agree, unless the nine-hundred-point drop in the Dow is "fake news!"  but Marco Rubio is so nervous, he has lost control of grammar:  "its not a time to panic.  But it is a time to take it serious and get it right."  To that end, Azar has requested $2.5 billion in emergency funding; Chuck Schumer thinks $8.5 billion is more realistic, in view of the massive cuts the regime has made in all areas of health care.

If the CDC doesn't stop using phrases like "significant disruption to life" and frightening poor Marco, there are going to be more purges.  Even Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-LA) is complaining that he can't get a straight answer from the acting (naturally) Secretary of Homeland Security.  Disloyalty!  Didn't he hear the Leader say that all is well?  Nothing to see here, don't forget your mask.

It must be serious if it's starting to affect sports.  The March 7 rugby match between Italy and Ireland has been cancelled, although Japan insists the Olympics will go on no matter what Dick Pound says.  (Stop giggling.)  Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared in San Francisco by Mayor London Breed (I told you to stop giggling); although the city has no confirmed cases among residents, three people are being treated in hospitals.  And the first cases in Brazil are confirmed.

Now would be a good time to hunker down with canned food and a copy of Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year, I suppose.  It could be a few isolated cases here like Ebola, or it could be 1918 all over again.  With the media losing its shit and Trump tweeting his, many people feel like they're watching some noisy video game.  It would be comforting to believe serious professionals are in charge, but we missed our chance.  I always knew that one day the Electoral College would kill us all.

In 1918, no one knew the exact cause of the "Spanish flu," and no one had ever seen a virus.  We are so much better off now.  We know exactly what's causing it:

It's a British/deep state plot to prevent Trump's re-election.

It's because we repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act.

It's a scheme to tank the stock market by panicking everyone about "Caronavirus."  Fake media!

It's nothing but a "common cold" being weaponized by the Chinese government to "bring down Trump,"

God is punishing China for being a "godless communist country."  We're next.

Moon/Venus conjunction.



Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Who's a good boy?

How do you get a dog to take a pill?  Wrap it in liverwurst.  How do you get a stable but overweight jenius to eat vegetables?  Hide them in mashed potatoes.

Ronny Jackson, MD, USN, and would-be R-TX, finally admitted that he wrapped the truth in liverwurst when he told us how healthy Trump was back in 2018.   In reality, he was plotting to diminish the Dear Leader by sneaking cauliflower into his potatoes and making ice cream "less accessible," whatever that means.  A better plan might have been to ask Ben & Jerry to create an special Executive Flavor, like Ivankaveggie or Sugar & Spicer, but this is the route he chose.  Even if Trump eats mashed potatoes three times a day, it's just not possible to add enough cauliflower to make a difference to his long-suffering colon.  Nor did Jackson manage to sneak any exercise machines into the residence.  Instead of the ten-to-fifteen-pound weight loss his doctor wanted, Trump achieved official obesity in a year by gaining four pounds.   Jackson is hoping the voters of the Texas Thirteenth will send him to Congress to prevent him practicing medicine anymore, as he clearly sucks at it.

"He has incredibly good genes, and it's just the way God made him," said Jackson, displaying the mixture of superstition and dishonesty Texas voters look for.  "Good genes" sounds like something out of a eugenics book, unless he means he sequenced Trump's genes and compared them to those of people who lived long and died well.  I suspect he didn't.  Fred Trump had dementia, and as for the Trump spawn, their tweets shout "early onset."  So much for genes.

Jackson is still insisting Trump is not on drugs.  I think I'd rather take the word of someone who saw him close up and has no history of lying about his health.  "He looked sedated," said Nancy Pelosi.  I also predict that at least one of Jackson's dozen or so opponents will accuse him of violating medical confidentiality, if not national security, by revealing what all the world knows:  Trump has the temperament of a spoiled three-year-old.  Well, Hillary warned us.

I remember when George H.W. Bush proclaimed his dislike of broccoli and said it would never appear on a White House plate on his watch.  He lost the broccoli growers and he lost re-election.  It was a simpler time, when adults could be trusted to eat sensibly even if their foreign policy was disastrous.  Bush lived to be 94.  Good genes?  Or just broccoli avoidance?  Science doesn't know everything.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Farewell to the flesh

Lent is getting off to a rocky start for that portion of the world which marks it.  A carnival parade in Volkmarsen, Germany, ended suddenly when a man appeared to drive a car deliberately at the marchers, many of them children.  In New Orleans, two people were run over and killed by Mardi Gras floats during the past week.  Haiti cancelled all celebrations after gunfire between soldiers, police and possibly others.  Coronavirus has curtailed carnevale in Venice and limited events like Fashion Week in Milan.  (Italy has the largest number of cases outside Asia.)

Meanwhile, all America -- possibly excepting a hotel concierge in Colorado -- mourns Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, whose funeral is being televised like that of a senior statesman.  By pure coincidence, this is the day the jury was finally able to agree on the last charges and convict Harvey Weinstein of rape.  His lawyer says he "took it like a man" (how would she know?).  Weinstein faces more charges in California and probably wishes he had been less generous to the Democratic Party.  A few million the other way and he could be in line for ambassador to Germany right now.

Trump's not pardoning any criminals today, as he and the First Escort visited the Taj Mahal.  Not since Princess Diana was photographed there alone has the place looked grimmer.  Then it was off to the enormous stadium for the cheering and the waving and the protestations of love for India and the comical mispronunciations, and the crowd leaving early like spectators at Dodger Stadium.  They're familiar with Modi's Islamophobia, they don't need to hear it every day even if some of them share it.  John Oliver's background is essential, as usual.  Oh, and the US is selling India $3 billion of weapons, the better to destabilize Kashmir.

I had to do some digging over at the New York Times to find the Trump Triumph, because the coronavirus and its baleful effect on the world's stock markets has been given precedence by the Fake Media.  Lou Dobbs and Stuart Varney on Fox Business are livid about it, too.  Their colleague Charles Payne is convinced that everyone is dumping stocks because Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucuses and therefore capitalism is doomed.  Never have I seen such a vast and sinister conspiracy.  Say, where's George Soros today?

Science and other curiosities

Two deaths are reported at two extremes of science.  Katherine Johnson was 101 and worked as a mathematician for NASA, providing calculations for orbital mechanics.  Mike Hughes was 63 and had built a rocket to "prove" that the earth is flat, which he believed he could do from 5,000 feet up.  It is unclear why he didn't build a boat and sail it off the edge, but at least he went out as a star of the Science Channel.

If Greta Thunberg makes you feel guilty about not doing enough to slow climate change, there's good news from the oil industry's Heartland Institute in the shape of Naomi Seibt.  She's a German teenager who doesn't see why everybody is so worked up about CO2 emissions.  Also has problems with feminism and immigration, about which she spoke at an Alternative fur Deutschland event.  Can her invitation to the White House be far behind?  No, it cannot.

Everything's bigger in China.  An estimated hundred million people are starting to be affected by the rising sea level along Bohai Bay.  Yankee imperialist climate hoax!

NASA reports that Mars is not just windy and cold.  It also has earthquakes.  I'm not seeing any good reasons to go there.

Conservationists in Wyoming are trying to stop the construction of 3,500 gas wells which would cut off the migration of the pronghorn antelope.  This could lead to their extinction before Junior Trump gets a chance to shoot any.  Tragically, that could be their best hope.

To end on some good news:  Teck Resources has cancelled its tar sands mine project in Alberta.  Did this petition to Justin Trudeau from Nobel laureates change their minds?

Sunday, February 23, 2020

My book report: Words, words, words

Daniel Kalder, The Infernal Library:  On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 2018

Books of literary (in the loosest sense) criticism rarely cause laughter and make the reader sorry to reach the end.  This one did.  It also has the snappiest footnotes this side of Terry Pratchett.

Kalder lived in Moscow for ten years, where he apparently spent most of his time reading the brain-numbing works of twentieth century dictators.  Some, like Mein Kampf, enjoy a disturbing afterlife to this day; most, like the novels of Saddam Hussein and Francisco Franco, have faded away.  You can't be a real dictator unless you're in print.  It conveys your philosophy to the masses and often helps to dazzle intellectuals who don't have to live under your rule.   If properly deployed, it can also make you rich.

Revolutions usually generate writings, even our own.  Students in the better high schools used to be exposed to The Federalist and the pamphlets of Thomas Paine.  Franklin's autobiography is a delight, and the letters and speeches of Jefferson are still in print.  Until you read Kalder's account of Lenin's theoretical books or Salazar's Catholic-flavored banalities, you may not appreciate how lucky Americans are.  Perhaps only one twentieth-century revolution, Turkey's, was led by a man who could both write and think, Kemal Ataturk.  Most of these guys were raving nutters.  It seems that even the prospect of absolute power corrupts the prose style absolutely.  Once they gain control of nations and their presses, there's no stopping the flow of verbiage, some of it bathetic (see Gaddafi's explanation of the difference between men and women, page 236), and some outright bonkers (The Rukhnama, the scripture Turkmenistan's loopy dictator Turkmenbashi presented to his countrymen, must be read to be believed).  Mao's pronouncements collected in the Little Red Book drove millions mad and did unspeakable damage to the culture of China before the fever broke and the book was pulped.  Nobody reads Stalin or Hoxha today except brave archeologists like Daniel Kalder.

Americans may feel a thrill of recognition in reading about Leonid Brezhnev, who ran the USSR from 1964 to 1982, lazy and dull but not a fanatic about politics or exercise:  "Brezhnev enjoyed playing dominoes and liked to shoot bears, but couldn't be bothered to actually hunt them.  Instead, he'd sit in a chair and enjoy a glass of vodka while lackeys drove his ursine prey in front of his gun."  When he died, he was so fat that the bottom fell out of the coffin while it was being lifted onto the catafalque.  All four volumes of his memoirs were written by others.  But Russia has seen worse.

Kalder is surprisingly blithe about Vladimir Putin, despite calling him "unpleasant and authoritarian."  He thinks we're too worried about Putin's influence, too quick to grab at analogies with Stalin, Mao and Hitler.  It's true, we know the names of all the dissidents and journalists Putin has murdered, and compared to the last century's big three, he's an amateur.  But murder is murder, and meddling in elections on behalf of useful idiots like Trump and Johnson is still a hostile act.  Putin may not want to restore the USSR, but what is he doing in Ukraine and the Caucasus if not reconstituting imperial Russia?  Kalder seems relieved that Putin is too busy locking down his control of Russian television and posing for bare-chested action pictures to do much writing.  I can't blame him.

Reader, you will enjoy this solidly researched book, and you may close it relieved that Trump is a functional illiterate.  The problem is that the written word matters even less to his followers than it does to him.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday review of culture

Let's get this straight:  Today is Washington's birthday.  Always was (well, since the calendar was changed), always will be.  He should not be lumped in with the line of mainly-mediocrities who followed.  I hope I will not have to explain this again.

Clint Eastwood, who once lost an argument with a chair on national television, has thrown his support behind Mike Bloomberg, while Dick Van Dyke is going all in for Bernie Sanders.  I trust this will help Democrats make up their minds.  Van Dyke must be pleased that Sanders easily won whatever it is they do in Nevada.

Trump has some new play-on music for his arena shows.  I assumed it would be Funeral March of a Marionette, reflecting Putin's control of him as well as his Hitchcock-like proportions.  But it's another Rolling Stones ripoff, "Play With Fire."  If you're out for revenge, you can do a lot worse than the Queen of the Night's second aria, but this probably isn't the crowd.

Dan Brown is publishing a picture book for children, Wild Symphony, with a recording of music by Dan Brown.  If his music is as good as his prose, this may constitute child endangerment.

Before Leavers can leave the United Kingdom they have to get their new, blue passports -- which are being manufactured in Poland.*  As Greg Evans says, the jokes write themselves.

Pop songs are sadder than they were fifty years ago.  It says so right here -- with math.

Washington, D.C., has never managed to achieve statehood, but it has its own official music, called go-go.  The name evokes women in shiny costumes and boots dancing in cages, but it probably means something else now.

No one should be surprised that the Stable Jenius has plans to "Make Federal Buildings Beautiful Again," which will involve lots of columns and gilt, maybe an occasional T.  American public architecture leaves a lot to be desired -- have you ever wondered why every state capitol sports a dome, no matter how incongruous? -- but now it's an international joke.

Have you ever considered a career describing porn to the blind?  It's a dirty, dirty job but someone has to do it.

*Yes, Poland.  Where Cadbury chocolates come from.

Friday, February 21, 2020

These just in

"A drug dealer who amassed a 55 million pound fortune in the cryptocurrency bitcoin has lost the codes to access the accounts after hiding them with his fishing rod, which has now gone missing."  Irish crime is the best crime, except for Florida's.

E. Jean Carroll was fired from Elle magazine after thirty years because she accused Trump of rape.  Don't bother protesting, as the cowards who run Elle have disabled their email.

Lucky old India is getting a Trump visit Monday, and they've built a wall so he won't have to see poor people and their slums en route to Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium.  What's the Hindi for "Potemkin"?

Steve Coogan has been granted an Irish passport.  He really loves Europe.

Not your grandfather's Germany:  today the people are chanting "Nazis raus!"

But maybe your grandfather's Ohio:  die-hards want Kent State to disinvite Jane Fonda from the fiftieth-anniversary commemoration of the National Guard shootings this spring.  And here I thought the right was all about free speech on campus.

After only ninety-nine years, Oklahoma public schools will teach children about the Tulsa race massacre of 1921.  Perhaps one day the other forty-nine states will join in.

The Manhattan district attorney's office is deciding whether or not to re-open the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965.

Mike Bloomberg is having a bad week.  His debate performance was uninspiring, to say the least.  He had to defend the trumpish policy of making employees sign non-disclosure agreements, including several women who accuse him of harassment.  When his Knoxville, Tennessee, campaign office was vandalized, he was quick to blame Bernie bro's without evidence.   He snuggled up to Xi Jinping, who is "no dictator."  No photographs of Bloomberg fondling his adolescent daughter have surfaced, but otherwise he's just a shorter, richer Trump who is fluent in English.

Ordinary non-coronavirus flu has killed 105 children in the United States, a grim record.


Damn it, I like Sunset Boulevard.  I've been stewing all day about Trump singling it out, despite its lack of racism and xenophobia.  I think I have it.

Norma Desmond lives on lies.  She thinks she still gets fan letters, but they're all written by her servant/ex-husband.  She's a complete narcissist who obsessively watches herself on the screen.  She needs the love of "those wonderful people out there in the dark," but they all left years ago.  And she's not averse to paying for sex.  Not with money, but she buys clothes for Joe Gillis, she gives him jewelry and she lets him live in her house.  I believe that's Melania's deal, too.

Or maybe it was the only other movie he could think of.

Again With the Wind!

I suppose you Hollywood liberals thought you could slip away unnoticed after selecting a foreign movie for your Best Picture award.  Not just a foreign movie but one cast exclusively with non-white  people and designed to cause class war.  The purges, slanders and threats took a while, but the Dear Leader has not forgotten your perfidy, and last night in Colorado Springs he took aim at the real enemy preventing him from Making America Great.  Sight unseen, naturally, Trump condemned Parasite and made his pitch for -- hold onto your MAGA hat -- Gone With the Wind.  As Steve Rose observes, "Cue loud applause at a movie with 100% name recognition and a narrative of white Americans losing their privilege as a result of the civil war."  

Of course, it's not just a celebration of the Lost Cause, slavery, and the loyalty of good Negroes like Mammy.  It's also the movie where a man gets drunk and rapes his wife, and she loves it.  (Unlike Ivana, apparently.)  She gets pregnant as a result because in 1939, they didn't know that a woman's body has a way of shutting down, but you know, dramatic license.  Additionally -- Trump wouldn't know this -- Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar, so they had to let her into the Cocoanut Grove and find her a table next to the kitchen.  Worse, she had to read a studio-concocted speech about being "a credit to my race."  That's Jim Crow show business.  Rape, racism and none of this #MeToo crap.

Oh, he also likes Sunset Boulevard.  Didn't say why.

Naturally, Trump is not only the greatest movie critic who ever lived.  His brain-spirochetes led him along many pathways, including Fox News performers who are starting to be just a bit skeptical of his wise rule, the inadequacies of Democrats, and his future plans:  "Some day in 10, 14, 18, 22 years when I'm gone, when we leave office in 26 years or so, they're going to miss us," he said of late-night comedy writers, employing the imperial "we."  And don't think he's forgotten about Time making that girl Person of the Year.  Also many polls said he "won" the 2016 debates.  It was a real change from the previous night in Phoenix, which was devoted to his 592nd attack on Hillary Clinton.  Is she running for something?  She is not.  The undercard there was appointed Senator Martha McSally, who impressed her master by getting the mob to boo an astronaut.  Keep an eye on Martha, good talent.

You know what's wrong with Washington?  Too many "experts," people who "know stuff," who aren't willing to be guided by Trump's infallible gut.  The CDC is complaining because fourteen Americans, passengers on the Diamond Princess who are infected with coronavirus, were flown home from Japan on a commercial flight full of (previously) uninfected people.  The State Department and HHS said it would be fine as long as they were separated by some plastic during the trans-Pacific flight, while everyone on board breathed the same recycled air.  You'd be surprised how long some people can hold their breath.

Trump is also angggrrrry that the House Intelligence Committee (that's Shifty Schiff's bunch) were briefed on Russian interference in this year's election -- so much that he fired his own Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and found another acting director to act in his place when not ambassadoring in Germany.   Why do we even need intelligence?  You won't see it at any of his rallies.  "I love the poorly educated!"

Nor, apparently, in the office next to the Throne Room Oval.  Here's Groom of the Stool Mick Mulvaney complaining that there aren't enough immigrants:  "We are desperate -- desperate for more people," he told a "private gathering" in London.  Skilled only, of course, and preferably white.  Also eager to relocate to a country awash in guns and racist violence, where you can be sued for unpaid hospital bills and sent to jail if you miss a court appearance.  Speak English?  Tired of Trump Lite and want to live with the real thing?  Emigrate, emigrate!

Meanwhile, this goober, from Greece, New York (never heard of it), has been arrested for making death threats against Chuck Schumer and Adam Schiff.   How was he supposed to know this is still a crime?  He even addressed the Congressman as "Shifty Schiff" so the authorities would know it was totally authorized from the top.   Come on, Sal, if you need to threaten a federal official, you gotta do it like Tucker Carlson threatened Judge Berman or else fuhgeddaboudit!  What a moran.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sentence first, trial afterward

Citing "his pride in his own lies," Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Roger Stone to serve three years and four months longer than he will ever spend in the sneezer.  He went home to await her decision on granting him a new trial, and the sound of a pardon Sharpie could already be heard.  And so, justice is serviced -- like a mare at a stud farm.

Richard Grenell has made friends for America as ambassador to Germany.  Unfortunately, they are all neo-Nazi extremists.  Now he can further their cause as achtung Director of National Intelligence, which will at least limit the amount of time he spends in Berlin.  Oh yes, two jobs at once.  And really, since Trump is his own director of DNI, do we even need another?  As Brother Pierce points out, the "acting" part means Moscow Mitch won't need to hold a confirmation hearing.  Since the Senate has ignored hundreds of House bills, and Justice Ginsburg refuses to vacate her seat, maybe the question should be, do we even need a Senate?

In a related story, one of those right-wing extremists killed nine people in Hanau, Germany, last night before he went home and apparently killed his mother and himself.  In a probably unrelated incident, the muezzin of London's largest mosque was stabbed, not fatally.

George Conway has a new nickname for his wife's boss.   Are you ready?   It's King Kong.  Yes, the original sort of groped Fay Wray, but I don't think this will catch on.  Not with so many better ones to choose from, like Benedict Donald, Orange Foolius, Stable Jenius, Trumpelthinskin, Trumputin, Boss Tweet, Metamucilini, Twitler, Lord Dampnut (it's an anagram), etc.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, with Ben Carson literally asleep at the wheel, no longer concerns itself with housing or urban development.  In fact, it's not clear if it does anything. Asserting, based on nothing but his rabid hatred of Nancy Pelosi, that San Francisco is "worse than a slum" (with all those Kushner properties for purposes of comparison), Trump wants to create still more concentration camps, this time for the homeless.  Nice concentration camps, where they'll get "counselors" and hot showers, but camps.  Even Geraldo Rivera seemed stunned as his fellow Foxnick Gutfeld waxed lyrical over the separation process, no doubt overseen by...a doctor?

There's a new stable jenius in town.  Dana Rohrabacher, who's just as bright as he looks, says hell yeah, he carried Trump's pardon offer to Julian Assange in 2017.  If witness-tampering and suborning perjury are crimes in the UK, can we expect the indictment of Putin's "top congressional ally"?  Probably not, at least as long as Trump Lite (a/k/a Boris Johnson) is in charge.  He still employs the loathsome Dominic Cummings, who employs this guy, whose goal is to out-Miller Miller in racism and misogyny, with an added helping of eugenics and forced sterilization.  And wait till Trump hears about Modafinil, just as his tolerance to Adderall is making it useless.

The problem seems to be an absence of credible opposition, if this guy is really the Shadow Chancellor.  John McDonnell calls the US effort to extradite Assange "the Dreyfus case of our age."  Apart from the WikiLeaks interference in the 2016 election, the collusion with Russia and the total lack of anti-Jewish hysteria, pretty much the same thing.  If convicted, Assange will spend as much time on Devil's Island as Roger Stone will spend in prison.  Clumsy attempts to hijack history like this will not help McDonnell's Labour Party escape the taint of anti-Semitism or end the inept rule of BloJo one day sooner.

Yeah, clock cleaned.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The madness of King Donald

Hunting has been a Republican thing at least since Teddy Roosevelt began the process of exterminating fierce species over a century ago.  Think of Dick Cheney blasting away at flightless, helpless quail (and the occasional lawyer) on that Texas ranch, or Junior Trump stalking wild Mongolian mutton.   It's how they connect to the Common Man and assert their overall manly mannishness.  So the newest member of Mitch's Treasonous Tribunal decided she'd better put on a tasteful orange vest and pose with a shotgun to give the impression that she loves to kill unarmed animals.  Turns out Kelly Loeffler doesn't have a hunting license, and may not know you need one.  She's never even shot a dog.  Nevertheless she loves her some Second Amendment, and that's all you need to take away from her incessant commercials (down here we call her Blonde Bloomberg).

The infamous Amendment and Florida's equally infamous "Stand Your Ground, White Man" law have been good to George Zimmerman, who murdered an unarmed 17-year-old in 2012 and got away with it.  But freedom (punctuated by subsequent arrests) has not been enough, apparently, and he has found it impossible to hold a job.  Zimmerman is seeking to supplement his unemployment/GoFundMe/deposit-can-scavenger income by filing nuisance lawsuits, first against the family of his victim, Trayvon Martin, and their attorney, Ben Crump.  Now he's suing Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren for their tweets on February 5, when Trayvon Martin would have turned twenty-five had he not strayed into Zimmermanland in his quest for snacks.   I don't expect either suit to go anywhere, but if he attracts enough attention, maybe Trump will sling a Medal of Freedom around his neck.  Though much devalued in the past month, the MoF should still command a few bucks on eBay.

The purge continues:  John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, was fired for objecting to the Ukraine shakedown.  Meanwhile, Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield, Virginia, is accepting letters in support of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, while over a thousand veterans have signed a letter backing Vindman and suggesting that the bloated draft-dodger take a long walk on a short pier.  Still on Ukraine -- Julian Assange claims he was promised a pardon if he would say Russia had nothing to do with hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee in 2016.  It's Assange, believe it if you want to, but it certainly sounds like the pardon-for-sale tactics of the regime.  Let's hope he had the wit to get lumbering Trump loyalist Rohrabacher on tape.

As the dust settles, it becomes clearer why Bernie Madoff didn't make the list.  His wife is not as adept at flattery as Patti Blagojevich and she couldn't lay her hands on the $300,000 bribe campaign contribution.  Even Colleen Eren on the New York Times op-ed page thinks he has suffered enough.  Better luck next time, Ruth.  Maybe you could sell some jewelry.

Today a lot of judges must be thinking, what's the fucking point?  I know I am.  Because Trump says, "Just so you understand, I chose not to be involved."  (He means the Roger Stone case, in which he never stopped being involved.)  "I'm allowed to be totally involved.  I'm actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country."

Let that sink in.

In Trump's mind, this is Iran and he is the Supreme Leader.  All legislative and judicial decisions must be approved by him.  His authority comes from God and can never be questioned.  His pronouncements must be accepted, no matter how ridiculous.  Criticism is disloyalty and disloyalty is treason.   If he can let 'em go, why can't he lock 'em up?  Very very unfair!

This phase appears to have started when Peter Baker quoted Emerson in the Times:  "When you strike at the  king, you must kill him."  Somebody read this to Trump -- if he ever heard of Emerson it was in the context of Lake and Palmer -- and the word "king" made his tiny, drugged eyes expand.  Having skated on impeachment, he was a monarch, not a fake one with a parliament and a constitution but the real thing!  Pardons and purges!  President for life!  Hereby ordering!

From Caligula to Idi Amin, history teaches that madness does not go away.  We have to make Trump go away.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A mighty wind

Paula White, who operates her own religion company when she isn't serving as Trump's chaplain (you say gibberish, they say speaking in tongues), wants the faithful to pay her before they pay their utility bills.  Otherwise, this template for an SNL sketch warns, Skygod will become wrathful and stop curing their cancers and such.  White is on record as a supporter of abortion -- at least, spontaneous abortion for "satanic" embryos -- and a foe of "strange winds" sent to harm the Greatest of All Possible Presidents.  It's not clear if this is identical with the "big wind" Trump blames for blowing over sections of WALL, but why not?

Trump has a troubled history with the wind.  It powers windmills, which cause cancer.  It brings devastation to Puerto Rico solely to make him look incompetent and racist.  It ignores his order to cause a hurricane in Alabama.  It blows his carefully sculped skull decoration and exposes the border of his orange clown makeup.  People then laugh.  None must laugh!  Paula is right -- wind bad.  Where does Obama live?  The Windy City.  Need I say more?

Still elated from the Miller-Waldman wedding -- he ate cake with two scoops and grabbed the bride by the pussy -- Trump dispensed mercy today as kings are wont to do.   The biggest names on the list were Rod Blagojevich (abuse of power, corruption) and Bernard Kerik (tax evasion).  I wonder why they caught his eye.  Kerik was once promoted by Rudolph Giuliani to be Secretary of Homeland Security, so I'm sure he's just as qualified now for the Trump cabinet.  Then there was junk-bond impresario Michael Milken, who is good enough friends with Steve Mnuchin to share his plane for a hop to The Coast.  The article says the Treasury Secretary "reimbursed" Milken for the trip, and now we know how.  How's that swampy-drainy thing working out for ya?  Mnuchin calls Milken "beyond remarkable."  If I were Walter Winchell I would now speculate on them being "that-a-way."

Wait -- Stephen Miller married?  Do they plan to...I can't say it.

Superlawyer Alan Dershowitz is closing in on the Professor Moriarty of the Napoleon of Crime, George Soros.  He has the evidence.  He's filing the lawsuit any day now.  Don't turn off your device, you do not want to miss this.  It's yuge.  Don't believe the rumors that lawyers who took his Criminal Procedure class are now denying they went to Harvard Law.

Somebody really hates Puritans.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Holding hands

I admit it, I don't understand the (relatively new) concept of emotional support fetish objects.  For adults.  Small children need their stuffed toys and older ones may cherish an item of jewelry or a baseball card, but there comes a time to put off childish things, no?  Unless it's something you can keep in your pocket "for luck" like an Indian head penny or a four-leaf clover, leave it home.  Don't be a nuisance, is all I'm saying.

The cherished American right to assholery has become so pronounced in recent years that steps have been taken to regulate it.  You can no longer bring a peacock on a plane, for instance, even if you buy him a ticket.  Imagine, being forced to respect the rights of the other passengers not to put up with your screaming, shitting bird from New York to Los Angeles.  Well, what about a life-size cardboard peacock?   Who could possibly mind, other than the cabin crew?

Which bring me to Nelson Gibson of Port St. Lucie, Florida.  He has to have dialysis three times a week, which is pretty unpleasant, and he can't face it without his life-size cardboard Trump.  Six foot three with his lifts in his shoes and approaching three hundred pounds, this is a real obstruction for the dialysis unit, which finally put its foot down and said no, we can't have this.  Could Mr. Gibson possibly go back to the smaller picture he brought before?  His son is concerned about Freedom of Speech and so forth, and Dad may discontinue his treatment and just die instead, which would teach everybody a lesson.

Subtext time.  No matter what the administrators and doctors think, hospitals run on the labor of people who are far worse paid and frequently female:  nurses, nurses' aides, technicians, therapists, orderlies, kitchen staff, etc.  Often these people are African American or Latina, or come from other countries.  Mr. Gibson's table-top Trump wasn't annoying them enough, so he invested in the big one, the better to stick it to "those people" who won't let him wear his MAGA hat while he's getting some of the toxins vacuumed out of his blood.  If you think I'm exaggerating, you don't know how mean old Florida crackers can be.  But hell, if this is the hill he wants to die on, they tell me it takes less than a month.

In other idiot medical news, Tom Cotton (R-Pellagra) announced with no proof that the coronavirus is a biological weapon developed by the "Chinese Communist Party."  Because he can just tell.  How maladroit of them to kill more than a thousand of their own citizens to date and barely a half-dozen elsewhere, not to mention hamstringing the world economy.  This is the standard response of the ignorant to every frightening disease as far back as the Middle Ages, when Jews were accused of causing plague and witches were held responsible for unexplained deaths.  In 1918 both sides blamed the other for the influenza pandemic that killed more people than World War I.  People with no reason to trust the US government even before the Tuskeegee "study" became known are still convinced that the military created AIDS in a laboratory.   Cotton speaks for the party that is rolling back every Obama-era regulation on poisoning air and water it can find, so people sickened by industrial effluent and "beautiful clean coal" will know who to blame -- next time, with science.

Hitler declared the 1936 Olympics open and then sat down and shut up, but Trump can't resist haranguing a multitude.  Just as he began, Fox Sports Network cut away for a commercial.  (Priorities, man.)  Worse, it was a Bloomberg ad, as most of them are these days.  Were the faithful pissed at being denied The Word?  What do you think?  The Daytona 500 is getting death threats as I type.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Talk among yourselves

Was anybody fooled by Barr's sob story about how the constant flow of tweets is keeping him from doing his job?  Like pretending pro-choice people are just as violent as forced-birthers;  finding something to indict Comey and McCabe for; trying to keep Michael Flynn out of prison; investigating the "unfair" trial of Roger Stone; investigating Robert Mueller; investigating, I don't know, Whitewater?  And of course hiring lawyers to replace the steady stream of prosecutors who have Had Enough.  Poor Bill hardly has time for bagpipe practice.

Every time I see Steve Kornacki with his sleeves rolled up gesticulating at a graphic of vote percentages, my fingers automatically change the channel.  I think it's the wide-eyed look of sheer excitement.  Look, this one's up four point one percent from yesterday morning!  Call me when it's over.  I'll vote for whoever.  I don't have to like him and I probably won't.

Semantics is everything.  Trumpanzees howl in outrage because poor, sick Paul Manafort is "in solitary."  In fact, he has a "private room," shower, laptop, phone, and an unlikely member of Congress demanding that his life be made even more comfortable.  (Hi-def TV?  Grubhub account?  Emotional support animal?)  Thinking about sticking up a liquor store?  Try money laundering and witness tampering instead.

Standing on the cusp of seventy, I find myself looking forward to the unlimited -- some would say uncanny -- wisdom that the eighth decade apparently brings.  Not only does Trump know what Nancy Pelosi is really praying for, but Germaine Greer is sure Meghan Markle is faking her orgasms.  It's awesome.  I promise to use my clairvoyance for good when the time comes.

Is anybody fooled by The Lincoln Project, a coterie of anti-Trump Republicans founded by George (Mr. Kellyanne) Conway?  They have produced a video in support of Col. Alexander Vindman.  I suggest they screen it for the League of Nations, which was meeting in Geneva the last time Lincoln's party had any serious cred.

OneUnited, described as "the largest black-owned bank in the U.S.," decided to honor Harriet Tubman and Black History Month with this debit card.  Reception has been...mixed.

When NBC News announced the death of Oscar Peterson with a video of Art Tatum, I said, well, it's a holiday, maybe an intern made a mistake.  When they identified a picture of John Lewis as the late Elijah Cummings, it was at least widely noticed.  Now the Fox affiliate in Charleston has used a mugshot of a female shoplifting suspect in a story about male Senatorial candidate Jaime Harrison.  No longer amusing.  (Why is a shoplifting arrest even on the news?   What is she accused of stealing, the Yorktown?)

The Irish election results are here in detail that would make Kornacki wet himself, but the upshot is that after a week there is still no clear winner and no agreement on a coalition government.  A do-over may be necessary.  Cheer up, Iowa Democrats, you're not the only numties.

YouTube has rules about hate speech, and will go ahead and kick you off for it.  So why can't Facebook do the same?  Why is Twitter selective about banning haters (Katie Hopkins is gone but not Trump)?  It's very puzzling.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Good news/bad news

LeBron James is treating 193 Akron, Ohio, students to four years at Kent State University.  Without a trace of false modesty he calls it "probably the best thing I've ever done."  I agree.  Wouldn't it be great if other athletes, entertainers and entrepreneurs competed to do even more?  Instead of, say, buying vast houses or trying to spend their way into the White House?  They could do both and never notice the trifling additional cost.

Ready for a new conspiracy theory?  The Fulton County, Georgia, prosecutor is investigating an allegation that James Brown was murdered in 2006.  Jacque Hollander first made the charge a year ago, so not really a priority, I suppose.

There's a wonderfully snide article by Arwa Mahdawi about the struggle to exempt tampons from Tennessee's annual sales tax holiday.  Being British, she may not understand how much states like Tennessee depend on high sales taxes.  Republicans would rather get life-size tattoos of Hillary Clinton than enact a state income tax, which is how liberal hellholes like California and New York can afford to pay for schools, health care, infrastructure, and prisons where the death toll doesn't get investigated by the Justice Department.

Americans hoping for their first glimpse of Boris Johnson will have to wait a bit longer, as Mr. Blobby got into a screaming fight with Boss Tweet over the Huawei deal and other matters.  Oh, dear, I hope Boris didn't bring up badgers.  By the by, it looks like that Scotland-to-Northern Ireland bridge is going to be another non-starter.  Johnson successfully dodged Trump at the NATO get-together, but when these two congenital liars finally shake hands, a hole could open up in the fabric of space/time.

Not satisfied with butting into the sentencing phase of Roger Stone's trial, Trump is now raging that he didn't get a fair trial because the jury "fore person" is a black woman and a Democrat.   Not just a common traitor demoncrat, either, an activist who once served as president of the Memphis school board and ran in a primary against Rep. Steve Cohen.  (It's Trump -- you had him at "black.")  Step up for your pardon and Medal of Freedom, Roger.  How would you like to be ambassador to Ukraine?

In spite of "BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY" it just isn't BeBest enough to support more than token pay raises for federal workers, and may require cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Which will, if nothing else, make millions of "takers" brave hurricane, fire and badgers to reach the polls.  Remember, remember the third of November!

I love the Irish Times but I wish they were a little more precise about describing photographs.  I mean, I assume this is the High Court, but if it's the building in Cork that Joe Kearney converted into a bar, he should have come up with a grander name, like Grant's Tomb.  Some of your readers live way out of town, editors.  The long, detailed article is a reminder that everything is national news in a country so small.

So...did anybody win the Iowa circuses?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Double indemnity

Back in 1954 -- I was playing in the sandbox then, but I read books -- Joe McCarthy had everybody good and scared, even President Eisenhower.  He lumbered around calling everybody a Communist and nobody dared cross him.  Then he made the mistake of taking on an even bigger bully, the United States Army.  Trump's hero Roy Cohn, then McCarthy's henchman, was trying to get preferential treatment for his friend David Schine, the Army hired Joseph Welch...yadda yadda yadda, it was the beginning of the end, on national TV.  (You can read it all here.)  You do not fuck with the Army, puny junior senator from some dairy state.

Retired General John Kelly -- remember him?  Probably not well, Trump flunky, racist, board member at Caliburn International and all-around creep.  Kelly made a speech at Drew University and he is pissed.  According to The Atlantic, he is pissed about Ukrainegate, North Korea, the Gallagher pardon, attacks on the press and on immigrants, and the treatment of Col. Alexander Vindman.  Maybe he's sincere, maybe he's trying to salvage his reputation as an honorable Marine, maybe he's thinking of running for president.  His motives don't matter, any more than the predictable Twitter whining his words elicited.

The point is that people like Kelly are worried.  Moscow Mitch's show trial signaled that Trump is untouchable, that he can't be impeached again much less removed.  That's arguable -- we've never before had a president so awful that he needed to be impeached twice.  A group we might call the unusual suspects -- Kelly, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Andrew Napolitano, even John Fucking Bolton -- are clearly alarmed by the dictatorial moves of the last week.  Cabinet departments compete in flagrant corruption, with Justice in a comfortable lead, passing along demands from The Leader for a light-to-no sentence for Roger Stone and refusing to be scrutinized by Congress.  Barr has proved to be so depraved and servile, I can't imagine why he was initially passed over for Beauregard Kukluxer Sessions.  Today eight names were added to the Vengeance List, the Republican Senators who voted for a Democratic resolution to prevent further idiotic tantrums against Iran -- even the three wafflers on impeachment, Alexander, Collins and Murkowski.  Maybe Collins changed her mind about Trump "learning his lesson" when she read this in the Washington Post (you'll have to read it here because they keep demanding money -- I guess Bezos's $165 million house turned out to be a fixer-upper).

I've got a good book I'd like to get back to.  Let's end on some lighter stories:

Look, plenty of people endure chemotherapy without becoming unhinged.  That's because they don't start as racist, misogynistic, homophobic scumbags.  Here's Jabba the Rush completely obsessed with a picture he saw of Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband, Chasten, and wondering how the Democrats plan to "ram it down Trump's throat."  No shit, read it yourself.  Do they even listen to themselves?  No, and I hope they never start.

Steve Mnuchin holds his job by continuing to hold Trump's tax returns (now under audit since 1983), but he had no problem sharing information on a private citizen, Hunter Biden.   Who's next?

Drop that bleach!  Ex-con televangelist Jim Bakker is peddling a silver solution that is guaranteed to kill coronavirus in twelve hours or less.  Which is a good thing, because the death toll in China continues to rise.  Praise the Lord, who accepts all major credit cards.

As you know, Princess Ivanka has created hundreds of millions of jobs, but apparently none for Hope Hicks.  So she will return to the White House like a dog to vomit as senior adviser to Jared Kushner, senior beard to senior daddy-fluffer Ivanka.  When not advising, she will no doubt have time for pants pressing.  (Would it be wrong to speculate that Jared is fed up with sharing Princess and has decided it's time for a little fun of his own?  Or that Hope looks like she could advise his brains out?  Yes.  So wrong.)

To avoid a repeat of all that Ukraine business, Trump may prevent responsible adults from getting on the phone when he treasons with foreign leaders.  Maybe he'll get a flashlight and some Oreos and chat with them under the covers, like he does with Hannity.  What's the fucking difference?

Pitchers, catchers and unrepentant owners have reported to Florida.  Jim Crane, owner of the Houston Astros, says their high-tech sign-stealing had no impact on last year's post-season games.  So why do it?  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball wants to wring even more money out of the game by expanding the playoffs so the World Series can be played over the Thanksgiving weekend.  If we're lucky.

Still a few hours until Valentine's Day, which means you can send a sexxxxy video from Sean Spicer from this place.  If Spicey is too pricer -- let me try that again -- if Spicer is pricer -- oh, look, you can also get Tomi Lahren, Corey Lewandowski, Omarosa and some people who aren't post-Trump unemployables.  My pulse is racing.  Need chocolates, stat!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

All natural, gluten free

It's time for today's installment of What the hell is exactly going on?

Remember when Madonna brought out a book called Sex, so everyone in the western world could get a good look at her vagina?  Externally, anyway.  I remember it was spiral-bound, to facilitate wanking.  That is so 1992.  Today's celebrities will sell you the smell of their lady-parts, or so they say.  How can most of us check?  I want to see the commercials ("Gee, your hair smells like... Gwyneth Paltrow's crotch").  Madonna writes books for children now.

Michael Douglas revealed that his father's last words were not "I regret nothing" or "It's been fun" or even "I am Spartacus," but an endorsement of Mike Bloomberg.  "I don't know if he was pulling my leg or not," he added.  Never mind, it's already part of the Bloomberg blitz of perpetual advertising.  Even the pharmaceutical companies are complaining that there's no space to promote the latest psoriasis drugs.

This winter has been especially hard on musical instruments.  First the TSA deliberately ruined Ballake Sissoko's kora, and now movers have accidentally dropped Angela Hewitt's piano.  If I owned a Strad, I'd rent a cheap violin for concerts involving travel.

Remember that Tom Hanks movie The Terminal, about a charming construction worker from a fictitious country who gets stranded at JFK when a coup back home leaves him stateless?  It was based on a real Iranian who was stuck in a Paris airport after the 1979 revolution.  To my knowledge there has not been a coup or a revolution in Britain, but tell that to this poor bloke, whose passport was yanked for no apparent reason.  He's sleeping on the streets in Brussels, ironically enough.  

Blackface book covers?  Barnes & Noble decided to salute Black History Month with a series of books aimed at young readers (all in the public domain, as far as I can tell) featuring "diverse" cover illustrations.  You need to see it to get the full impact.  For instance, black Dorothy Gale (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) is carrying a pair of ruby basketball shoes.  B&N cancelled the project after critics said, "No.  Just no." 

"The stars are ageless," murmured Norma Desmond before shooting Joe Gillis in the back.  (Sorry, spoiler alert.)  Well, of course they aren't, and some people think Betelgeuse is about to go supernova. 

Jamie Oliver's UK restaurant business collapsed last year with a crash they could hear in Paris, but he says he's opening a new spot for great Irish food.  In Dublin.  Suddenly I have all kinds of questions, beginning with who would even rent him space? and what about the millions he owes to creditors?  Will well-heeled Irish people flock to eat an Englishman's version of their cuisine?  Are TV chefs impervious to failure?  What is a robata grill?  Will there be takeout? 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Numbers crunch

The Department of Defense, which has never been short of cash, proposes to cut 35% from the operating budget of The Stars and Stripes, the paper written by and for the troops continuously since 1942.  (There were earlier versions during the Civil War and World War I.)  Because the all-important WALL won't pay for itself, and neither will Mexico.  The CDC is also facing a budget cut, but the coronavirus will soon be all better because of the warm weather, although it's February and any warm weather will be definitely not due to climate change, which coincidentally is a Big Chinese Hoax.  Maybe the pandemic is, too?  Wheels within wheels, people.

One Rhode Island parish is cracking down -- on pro-choice Catholic legislators.  Rev. Richard Bucci has named 44 state lawmakers who are barred from communion, witnessing marriages, reading at funerals and even becoming godparents, and all because they voted for the Reproductive Privacy Act intended to rescue Roe v. Wade from the clutches of Boofer Brett and the rest.  The money quote:  "Pedophilia doesn't kill anyone and this does."  Is there something you want to share, father?

To prove he can president as well as Trump, Joe Biden called a voter "a lying dog-faced pony soldier,"  He apparently thinks it's a quote from a John Wayne movie, but that doesn't make things any clearer.  It sounds more like a line from The Sundowners, if you know what I mean.

The Senate won't be taking up three election security bills which were blocked by Masha Blackburn (R-Smolensk).  Apparently preventing foreign interference in elections is exclusively a liberal issue, which speaks Tolstoy-length volumes.

And a law firm in the Bay area has hired a homeless couple to serve eviction notices.  Time to change the battery in my irony detector.  Again.

These people

Remember when the most contentious thing about the Oscars was actresses and their taste in dresses?  Office pools for guessing the winners and bad jokes from Bob Hope?  Yeah, it's been a while.

Americans no longer get even one night off from baring their teeth at one another.  Social media ended that -- the complaints get posted before the acceptance speech is halfway over.  Everything now sets off an argument, usually a predictable, exhausting one.  All awards are political, but the Oscars became politically political in the last few decades, when the comfortable consensus of mainstream America broke down around civil rights and the Vietnam war.  It had to.

The first time reality broke up the self-celebration was 1968, as Mark Harris describes in his indispensable book Pictures At a Revolution.*  New Hollywood was reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King; old Hollywood, as represented by Bob Hope, didn't see why the big show needed to be postponed until after his funeral.  It was postponed, mostly because all the black presenters and performers (and many white ones) refused to appear otherwise.  The fault line had appeared.  A few years later, Marlon Brando won and sent a spokesperson to upbraid Hollywood for its treatment of Native Americans.  Say what you will about Joaquin Phoenix, at least he delivered his comments about cattle insemination in person.  But he was hardly the first to confuse an award for acting with an invitation to lecture America.

Oscar now brings out the ugly, and I'm not talking about dresses.  Bong Joon-ho won for the screenplay of Parasites and chose to deliver most of his remarks in Korean.  It was too much for superpatriot Jon Miller (not the San Francisco Giants broadcaster, I hasten to add), who wrote, "These people are the destruction of America."  On the one hand, it was not immediately clear if he meant Asians, the Academy, foreign writer-directors, the movie business in general, or people who don't speak much English.  (Mr. Bong's speech, if the translation is accurate, was pretty standard -- it's not like he slammed Trump for snuggling up to Kim Jong-un or anything.)  On the other hand, he works at Alex Jones's digital crack house The Blaze, so it was perfectly clear.  Miller backed up and tried again -- "those in Hollywood awarding a foreign film that stokes claims of class warfare."  I haven't seen Parasite but I've seen plenty of Hollywood product about class warfare, from My Man Godfrey and Stella Dallas to Dead End and The Philadelphia Story, and those movies are all older than I am.  Miller should click over from Fox News to Turner Classic Movies once in a while.  The clash of classes is the subtext of huge quantities of celluloid.  It's race that Hollywood could never deal with.

Miller has nothing to worry about.  Most of his and Trump's people will never see Parasite, even though it also won Best Picture.  They'd have to read the subtitles.

*Mark Harris, Pictures At a Revolution, Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, New York, The Penguin Press, 2008

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Three dead men

The only time this fractured society seems to be on the same page is when a Celebrity dies and we all rush to our favorite keyboard to commiserate, celebrate and share opinions.  When Kobe Bryant died in what seems like an especially needless accident -- why was the helicopter flying in conditions of poor visibility? -- the news was inescapable.  CNN had everything but the Chopin funeral march leading into commercial breaks.  Great player, great guy, terrible for his surviving family, a loss to the game and to western civilization, you know, the usual.  A few people, mostly women, remembered that one time he was credibly accused of raping a nineteen-year-old, but it was Too Soon.  "The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones," said Mark Antony, but it turned out he was kidding.  He would have appreciated what Erik Loomis has called "the Kobe-Industrial complex."  Americans like their dead heroes pristine.  Disturbing the mourners with facts will get you death threats, or at least a brief suspension.

I understand this.  When little John-John saluted his daddy's casket and America let out a collective sob, it was not the moment to talk about Marilyn Monroe or venereal disease.  No question, the rules have changed since 1963.  If you cheated on a college exam or got drunk and drove into a tree, you can expect it to be in your obituary, no matter what you may have done since.  And with Bill Cosby in prison, Harvey Weinstein on trial and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, this is a particularly raw moment for crimes of sexual violence and the people who still seem to think they're no big deal.  A lot of men are astonished at how angry women are, and giving a medal to the popularizer of the term "feminazis" has only made them angrier.

When Kirk Douglas died at the age of 103, he left a trove of excellent movies, a heroic record of defying the McCarthy-era blacklist, and I'm sure a grieving family.  And almost the first thing to hit the internet was an old rape accusation reported by "an anonymous comment on a blind-item gossip blog" which might have originated with Robert Downey, Jr., who spent years seriously fucked up on drugs.  Apparently that's all it takes now, the alleged victim, Natalie Wood, having died in 1981.  I've read too much about the glory days of Old Hollywood to dismiss the story out of hand, but now I'm angry that this is how Kirk Douglas is being remembered.  And I wasn't that big a fan, as much as I admire Ace In the Hole, A Letter to Three Wives and Paths of Glory.  In law, you can't slander the dead.  You could start a rumor that Fred Rogers was a kiddie-diddler and a multitude would believe it.  Such is the state of play in 2020 CE.

So I keep checking, but nobody has yet accused Orson Bean of inappropriate touching or a long-term relationship with a goat.  He was 91 and it took two cars to kill him.   That's impressive enough, isn't it?