Friday, April 30, 2021

Friday for sure

 India's Hindu nationalist government thought it was more important to spend money on a nuclear arsenal,  a space program and a never-ending squabble over Kashmir than to beef up public health.  They may have been wrong.  There is no photographic record of fourteenth century Europe but it probably looked like New Delhi in 2021, with people dying in the streets or lying three to a hospital bed.  Only the cremation fires contrast with the mass graves of plague victims.  And Americans sulk about having  to wear masks, and demand their July Fourth fireworks.  Las Vegas is crammed with fun-seekers and some states are already wide open.  Which variant will we get this time?  What wave is it?

The narrative from the deniers keeps changing, from "the vaccine doesn't work" to "there's a microchip that will turn you gay" to "vaccines make you sick and also anybody who stands next to you."  A private school in Miami won't allow vaccinated teachers to have contact with students and of course, masks are anathema.  I hope AstraZeneca is working on a vaccine for stupidity.

Covid causes long-term effects in some people, ranging from loss of taste and smell to organ failure.  No one seems to have studied the consequences of tear gassing people who think they still have a Constitutional right to free assembly.  Nearly a thousand women in Portland, Oregon, reported menstrual irregularities after being gassed by police last summer, some serious enough to require emergency room treatment.  This would be a good place to start, with maybe a moratorium on chemical weapons, too.  (The NYPD have agreed to stop using their robotic dogs, which is something.)

With almost daily police killings of Black people and continuing attacks on Asian Americans, Native Americans were feeling overlooked.  So last week Rick Santorum decided to supplement his CNN salary with a speech to Young America Foundation, and told them the US is a pure product of white European Christians because "we birthed a nation from nothing...candidly, there isn't much Native American culture in American culture."  Now there's a little less, as vandals defaced the ancient petroglyph known as "Birthing Rock" in Moab, Utah.  (They initially wrote "WITE POWER" so draw your own conclusions.)  I'm sure it had nothing to do with Santorum's Aryan chalk talk and I assume CNN agrees, as they haven't shitcanned him yet.

What did I say about nationalist governments?  Covid is spiking in Turkey.  I hate being right.

A hundred days in, I think Joe Biden has begun to understand that Republicans will oppose anything he says, does, wears or eats, while whining about how "divisive" he is.  So he and Jill have taken on the easier task of reconciling their dogs, especially the fractious Major, with the new White House cat (unnamed as of this writing).  I've seen enough cat-dog footage on YouTube to believe this will be easier than making Republicans get along with one another:  Liz Cheney is under attack because she fist-bumped Biden at the SOTU speech.  Evidently she was supposed to spit in his face.

Yesterday the Bidens flew to Georgia for a speech and a visit with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.  Before they boarded the helicopter Biden picked a dandelion from the White House lawn and handed it to Dr. Jill.  Who could find fault with this simple, loving gesture?  Some asshole named Grant Stinchfield.  What a surprise -- he doesn't even know how dandelions work.

And speaking of weeds gone to seed, the FBI raided Giuliani's apartment and office.  I know, witch hunt, unfair, I'm tired of that song.  His son was appalled that a former mayor and presidential lawyer could be treated like a common mobster just for acting like a common mobster.  "They could do this to you!" he added, as it slowly dawned on him that the law applies to everybody.  So it was very entertaining, and we still have Statutory Gaetz to look forward to.  

M'aidez!  Mayday.  Either one works. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

R U Pumped?

For days the cable newsies have been promoting Joe Biden's first State of the Union as if it were the Superbowl, and for them I suppose it is.  It won't start for another forty-five minutes at least, but the disloyal opposition have already released their response, Senator Tim Scott being the designated ventriloquist doll.  Blah blah Trump is responsible for all the good stuff blah blah...say, I wonder if he'd like to play golf with The Great Man?  Lindsey Graham was on the Fox hustling for bucks again, this time promising, "You have lunch, you have breakfast with President [sic] Trump, you get a photo, you play at his golf course in Florida.  It's going to be a lot of fun," he added desperately.  Will Mar a Loser admit Scott?  Will Trump assume he's the new waiter?  Will he call him "Tom" again?  Find out.

The Speaker and the Vice President are standing on the podium defiantly being women.  No one can color-coordinate a face mask like Pelosi.  The members are filing in, no bullshit about sidearms tonight.  Socially distanced seating, masks obligatory.  Same for the Supremes.  According to tradition and that episode of The West Wing, one member of the Cabinet remains in the White House ready to assume the presidency if there's a more successful coup this time.  I hope it's Deb Haaland.

Should I unmute and listen to Brian and Joy and Rachel?  Why is Steve Kornacki pointing at numbers?  Put your jacket on, you look like Gym Jordan.

Rather listen to the crowd noises on C-SPAN.  Rhubarbrhubarbrhubarb...I see Biden's using a Teleprompter.  Because of the dementia.  Four years of ad lib lunacy.  We're back, baby!

"Second gentleman" is a jarringly awkward designation for the Vice President's husband.  How about plain Mr. Emhoff?  

Achievements.  Vaccines distributed.  Relief bill passed.  Additional ACA signups.

Jobs, jobs, jobs.  It reminds me of a Warner Brothers musical about the Depression.  Remember my forgotten man.  You put a rifle in his hand.  I wonder if he'll mention the Afghanistan pull-out.  

Mitt Romney claps.  "John Kennedy" drops his mask.  Defiance.  Impressive. 

A pitch for unions.  Maybe it is a Warner Brothers musical.  If there were people in the gallery they could form Joe's face by holding up cards, followed by the NRA eagle.  (That's National Recovery Act, not the murder lobby.)

Last year at this time an immigrant from Slovenia with dicey documents was hanging a medal on a hate monger.  Change.

"Let's end cancer as we know it.  It's within our power."  Didn't Nixon talk this one up, just before he was distracted by being caught doing criminal acts?

"Win the twenty-first century" is a big, windy slogan but what does it mean?  Win it from who?  Lots of mentions of China.

Four years of college, guaranteed pre-school, where am I, Germany?

Lower prescription drug costs?  I was told Biden would ban meat!  

Oh, I hope he works in the FBI raid on casa Giuliani!  He won't but I can dream.

I still don't hear anything about a national health service (or even "single payer").  With that we wouldn't need to worry about the ACA or drug prices or all the bankruptcies caused by medical bills.  

"Trickle-down economics has never worked."  Also, the sea tastes salty.  Obvious, but after four years of hallucinatory flatulence, isn't it good to hear simple facts?  From a man in a suit that fits?  

A pitch for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

And the transgendered:  "Your president has your back."  I'm dizzy.

"White supremacy is terrorism."  I need to go lie down.

Ah, the right to vote.  The key to all the rest.  As the "audit" continues in Arizona.  Not content with rigging 2022, they want to keep undermining 2020.

Did he really finish with "Thank you for your patience"?  Clinton routinely went longer and said less, and as for Trumbert Trumbert...Give 'em hell, Joe!

He's chatting with Bernie Sanders, who is probably kvetching that something was left out.  I can't imagine what.  Politics, somebody said, is the art of the possible, but if you don't demand everything you won't get anything.  

(If Tim Scott wants to go home early, they can put on a record:  We don't want no education, We don't want no thought control...)

Good night and good luck.



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Of the people, by the people...

 "Suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself."  (Mark Twain)

There are two kinds of Senators:  Lifers who eventually have to be wheeled onto the floor and the nakedly ambitious who believe it's a speed bump on the road to the White House.  For this bunch, largely bored by the legislative process, nothing is more important than distinguishing themselves from all the other attention junkies.  Anything will do if it brings re-tweets or mentions on The News, or the biggest prize of all, half an hour on the Sunday shows.  For example:

As police executions of Black people broke records and Republicans passed shiny new Jim Crow voting laws, Lindsey Graham assured Chris Wallace that there is no systemic racism in the United States because we elected Barack Obama and Kamala Harris.  (Also:  Jackie Robinson played major league baseball.)  "America is a work in progress but best place on the planet," the white Southerner continued.  He's offended that Joe Biden keeps "running it down" by calling for police reform.  

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is probably not running for president unless he saw William Powell in The Senator Was Indiscreet and assumed it was a biopic.  This gives him more time to defend his title as Dumbest Senator in the Galaxy.   Johnson is pretty sure the pandemic is over and fails to see why it should continue to inconvenience his constituents by making them wear masks and get their second vaccination.  "The science [oh, no, a known idiot is going to talk science] tells us the vaccines are 95 percent effective, so if you have a vaccine quite honestly what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?" he rhetorically asked some local radio host.  Even more insulting is the requirement to carry a vaccination card in your pocket where it might take space you need for your NRA membership.  He might want to take a look at spiking cases in neighboring Michigan.  Or better yet, just shut up.

By an impressive 94-1 vote this bitterly divided Senate passed the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act to combat assaults on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  Five members didn't bother to vote, but only one went on the record in favor of hate crimes, Josh "Fist Pump" Hawley, who called it "too broad."  In other news, an arrest has been made in the attack on Yao Pan Ma, 61, in New York City, who remains in a coma.  (Anti-Semitic incidents are also increasing, frequently moving online during the pandemic; I wonder if Hawley has a position on those.)

If Johnson is covid's biggest fan in the Senate (it's debatable), Joe Manchin is the loudest spokesman for global warming.  He's upset that large banks want to zero out their carbon emissions instead of burning beautiful, clean coal from West Virginia.  By playing a Democrat on TV Manchin can be sure to attract more attention than he and his sad little state deserve, which is yet another reason the District of Columbia needs to be the State of Columbia.

The Senate's deepest thinker remains "John Kennedy" of Louisiana.  Like the real John Kennedy who served in the Senate in the 1950s, this one is celebrated for his wit.  A sample:  "If you hate cops just because they're a meth head [sometimes he says crackhead] the next time you get in trouble." 
"If you trust government you obviously failed history class.  The Native Americans gave up their guns, too."  "A lot of my colleagues in Washington, DC, say that England is such a wonderful place because they don't have guns.  And if you think it's such a swell place, well, carry your happy ass there."  "I don't know when they have time to make movies in Hollywood because it looks like they're all busy molesting each other."  Obviously this goes down well with what Willie Stark called "the rednecks," but serious people in Louisiana should consider electing Dennis Miller to the Senate if this is their idea of representation.  


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Weekend solutions

The CDC has recommended the resumption of the Johnson & Johnson covid vaccine, even though there were fifteen negative reactions out of about seven million recipients.  All the problems, including three deaths, involved women.  I'm just an old country blogger and not a scientist, but it seems like the answer is to stop giving it to women.  

For years Native Americans have struggled to recover the relics of their ancestors from museums and other institutions, including boys clubs like the notorious Skull & Bones Society at Yale, rumored to possess the stolen skull of Geronimo.  These items were confiscated decades ago, before any thought was given to the significance they might hold for indigenous people.  Now we know better.  So what in the actual fuck did anthropologists at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania think they were doing, using the bones of African American children as teaching props?  These children died in 1985 when the Move! house (along with several surrounding blocks) was bombed and burned* by the Philadelphia police; they have living relatives who definitely did not give permission, nor were they asked.  A suggestion:  Stop dehumanizing people and maybe you won't be so quick to kill them.

Another form of dehumanization is scalping.  Jurnee Hoffmeyer is a beautiful seven-year-old who had her hair cut off against her will by a classmate on the school bus.  Then a teacher decided to "even it up" by cutting the other side.  Her father is outraged and Jurnee is depressed -- hair is important to a little girl.  It will grow back but she won't forget how other people took away her autonomy and her self-esteem.  

Alexei Navalny went on a hunger strike twenty-four days ago because prison authorities denied him medical care.  They finally allowed him to be treated by non-prison doctors because he was near death and might have been more trouble to the government dead than alive.  So the dissident wins this round of Mortality Chicken.  Amnesty International, take note.

Priorities.  Oklahoma's got them.  Caron McBride, who used to live in Norman, is wanted for renting a VHS tape of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in 1999 and never returning it.  The rental place is gone and so is McBride, who claims she never watched that tape; she thinks the daughters of the man she then lived with may be the culprits.  The Cleveland County DA is not pursuing the felony embezzlement of rented property charge.  Maybe they learned from the case of Lonnie Perry, who rented Ted in 2014 but lost track of the DVD when he subsequently became homeless.  Four years later the DA demanded $218, only $44 of which will go to the store (this is the way backward or "red" states finance themselves -- exceed the speed limit in Tennessee and see what happens).  I can't find out the disposition of Perry's case, but he told ABC7 news the movie wasn't worth the $5 he initially paid.  Maybe he's on the run with a copy of Ted in his trunk.  If you don't want to be disparaged as "flyover country" by coastal people, maybe stop acting like Evil Mayberry.

When you're invited to a "gender reveal" party in a disused quarry, you can anticipate a bad result.  A family in New Hampshire announced their very important news by detonating eighty pounds of Tannerite, an explosive designed to make target-shooting more thrilling.  In this instance it cracked the foundations of neighboring houses and triggered reports of an earthquake.  Although there were no fatalities this time, Jenna Karvunidis, described as a "pioneer" of the gender-reveal movement, has suggested dialing it back.  When her daughter was conceived she went old-school:  cake with pink icing.  I would suggest that thinking everyone cares about the sex of your baby is dangerously narcissistic, but that's just me.


*A police department deploying C4 from a helicopter in a residential neighborhood is a good explanation for the "Defund the Police" movement.



Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth to Remulak -- one to beam up

Mayor Eric Garcetti assumed he could propose a 3 percent ($1.76 billion) increase in the Los Angeles police budget while everyone was distracted by the Derek Chauvin trial, the funeral of Daunte Wright and the police killing of Andrew Brown and Ma'Khia Bryant.  Last year the city council cut the police budget by $30 million; this will give it back with interest.

Nicole Franklin has pleaded guilty to hate crimes because she drove her SUV into two children on a Des Moines sidewalk after deciding that the 14-year-old girl was Mexican and the 12-year-old boy was a member of Islamic State.  This was in 2019.  She should have waited, as this kind of self-defense has now been legalized in Florida, Oklahoma and other places.

Squirrel!  Republicans are increasingly frantic in their efforts to distract from any investigation of the January 6 coup attempt, for obvious reasons.  Kevin McCarthy wants to run out the commission's time by having it look into every protest that occurred in the preceding four years.  Maybe not the rehearsal in Lansing, when armed Trumpanzees invaded the state capitol.  Probably not the very fine people in Charlottesville, whose "Jews will not replace us" event climaxed with the murder of Heather Heyer.  I'm sure Leader McCarthy has a list.

"John Kennedy" decided to call out Stacey Abrams on the racist provisions of Georgia's new "stop the vote" law.  Now he knows better.

A teacher in Greenville, Texas thought it would be funny to send this picture to the boy's parents as a joke about a signed permission slip.  Might be time to go back to Zoom classes.

The HUD inspector general reports "unprecedented procedural hurdles" set up by the White House budget office to delay aid from reaching Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated the US territory in 2017.  Two years later there were more hurdles, as HUD officials including then-Secretary Carson refused to speak to investigators.

A hand recount of the ballots cast in Maricopa County, Arizona, has begun in yet another Republican attempt to undermine confidence in the 2020 election.  It's being conducted by a private Florida company with "assistance" from mentally disturbed lawyer Lin Wood.  Your tax dollars at work, Arizona.  They couldn't even find a local outfit that would touch this.

Chris Christie wants to run for president.  That's it.  That's the joke.

Russian troops at the Ukrainian border will stand down at the end of this month, leading to speculation that Putin & Co. have stolen the country's last ruble and the defense budget is empty.  Score one for Joe Biden...

...who told the Earth Day summit that he will cut US greenhouse gases in half by 2030.  You know, I believe he will.  Who now remembers the Armenians? asked Hitler.  We do.  And Erdogan can pound sand.  It's exhilirating.  I'm starting to think he can also push reparations for slavery, get statehood for the District of Columbia and leap tall buildings at a single bound, with the skinniest legislative majority in history.  Count all you want, Arizona, Big Joe's approval rating is higher than Putin's puppet could count.  


Hello, Remulak?  Cancel my ride.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021


 Was it Thursdays that Arthur Dent could never get the hang of?  Thursdays are my nemesis.  Nemeses?  For instance, last Thursday Microsoft decided I needed a new version of Windows indistinguishable from the previous one except that I had to leave the computer on all night to "install" it.  I sleep in this room.  The last thing I need is a screen that keeps blinking on and off.  In dread of what tomorrow may bring, I'm considering staying in bed with a tin helmet suitable for repelling meteorites.  

Some amusing vignettes from our sick sad world:

In Catanzano, Italy, an unnamed hospital worker has been named "king of absentees" after collecting 538,000 Euros despite not showing up for work in fifteen years.  A police operation codenamed Part Time (I would have gone with Dolce far niente) is investigating him and several supervisors who must have been in on it.  Most hospitals have people on the payroll who don't actually do anything; I wonder how they caught him.

Yesterday a man was killed by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.  He had bear mace in his pack and was fishing -- two reasons the grizzly may have considered him a threat.  (Bears eat fish, too.)  Today in Grand Teton National Park Evan Matthews was running when he encountered a black bear, but Matthews engaged the bear in conversation ("I don't care if you're hungry, I'm not your food...We could take a walk if you want...") and returned intact to his car.  There's a lesson here, I think.

Black Lives Matter is being blamed not only for the riots that failed to occur here but for trying to cancel Jane Austen.  The Austen Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, has changed its website to reflect interest in the slave trade (her father was a trustee of a sugar plantation in Antigua) and tea-drinking, the principal activity in her novels now seen as a symbol of British imperialism.  Predictably, this has caused the right-wing press to lose its bottle.  No, nobody's burning piles of Mansfield Park; calm down and stop making fools of yourselves.  Have some tea with sugar.

Now that Trump is waddling around Mar a Loser (thanks, Evan) talking to himself, Vladimir Putin has to do his own blustering and whining.  Beset by problems of his own creation (the failing health of Alexei Navalny, the war with Ukraine, constant protests and worsening relations with the West), he says anyone who threatens Russia "will regret it like they've never regretted anything before."  Where have I heard that?  Does Stephen Miller write for both of them?

As Republicans pound their chests and wail about the deficit that would result from the Biden administration's infrastructure bill, no one seems overly concerned about the $1.3 billion in loans and contracts that went to ApiJect Systems Corp. last year to manufacture syringes for covid vaccines.  Not only have no syringes been approved, much less made, but the factory which was to create 650 jobs in North Carolina remains unbuilt.  (The land has been cleared, which is something.) Half of adults in the US have now been vaccinated, so if ApiJect doesn't get moving they'll have to wait for the next pandemic.

For an ex-academic, Gym Jordan never seems to learn anything, especially about trying to out-shout Black women.  Last week he went after Anthony Fauci about covid restrictions and Maxine Waters told him to "shut your mouth."  Yesterday he tried to amend a hate-crimes bill to prevent defunding of police, even though the bill has no such provision.  Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief, said it was irrelevant and he talked over her, too.  "I have the floor," she yelled.  "What?  Did I strike a nerve?"  As much as I'm enjoying the sorrows of Statutory Gaetz, I can't wait till it's Coach's time in the barrel.

Here's a traffic stop with a white driver and a Black Arizona State officer.  It went by the book despite Julian Navarrette being clearly impaired, failing a Breathylizer test, and telling the officer, "N***** I'm from Arizona, dude, I'm not from New York," after begging, "Don't put my fucking career at risk." (Nazarrette is a sheriff's deputy who was off-duty.)  No shots were fired.  I'm glad there's video, they can use it in the police academies.


In the end, you can't be Black

 When the three "guilty" verdicts were announced in Minneapolis, people all across the country cried and sang and reveled in the moment.  Not, however, in Columbus, Ohio, where police had just shot a 15-year-old girl.  She lived in a foster home, indicative of a troubled childhood, and she apparently had a knife; her aunt said she dropped it before being shot several times.  As a small crowd gathered  someone said, "We don't get to celebrate nothing.  In the end, you know what, you can't be Black."

After so much violent death -- killed while jogging/sleeping/walking/eating ice cream at home while Black -- it might well seem so.  Black people can't do anything right, including not riot, according to a certain Georgia Republican:  "DC is completely dead tonight.  People stayed in and were scared to go out because of fear of riots.  BLM is the strongest terrorist threat in our county [sic]."  That's right, although the verdict was flashed around the world by 6pm EDT, Marjorie Taylor Guano knows the wypipo cowered in their homes (even Six-Gun Boebert!) because those people might riot anyway.  (In Guano-speak, a riot is a public gathering of more than three Black people.)  Maybe they did and the media were afraid to cover it.  Anyone heard from Seattle or Portland today?  Probably burned down again.

Against the backdrop of non-violence, the Anglo-Saxons (as they now apparently choose to be called) courageously stood up to reality.  Tucker Carlson:  "The jury...came to a unanimous and unequivocal verdict this afternoon:  'Please don't hurt us.'  After nearly a year of burning and looting and murder by BLM, that was never in doubt."  So Trump was right about "American carnage"!  I sure hope we can persuade him to run again.  I understand Burkman and Wohl have video of white bodies being dumped in canals along with Trump ballots, but the liberal media won't show it.  "When was the last time a sitting president weighed in on a jury decision before it was made?  Never!"   Except for Trump on Manafort and Nixon on Manson -- maybe he meant a Democratic president.  Biden did wait until the jury was sequestered and deliberating.  

And then, as you knew he would, he accused the media of "lynching" Derek Chauvin.  Because we "still cannot say with any specificity how [George Floyd] died."  The Anglo-Saxons love to pull out lynching, slavery and the Holocaust as their all-purpose comparatives.  A cop found guilty by a jury is a lynching.  Abortion is just like the Holocaust.  The Affordable Care Act is worse than slavery.  And as for "we," Tuckie, for at least four days one medical expert after another explained with horrifying specificity how George Floyd died.  You should have listened to them.

Maybe Tuckie got all his information from the official Minneapolis Police Department press release from May 26, 2020:  "Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction."  As Mary McCarthy would say, every word is a lie including "a" and "the."  It might have been the official last word, too, but for Darnella Frazier's video.  It's part of the reason the Justice Department has announced an investigation of Minneapolis police practices.  Merrick Garland has taken up the carpet that Bill Barr and Beauregard Sessions would have swept them under.

And right on schedule the trashing of Ma'Khia Bryant, the teenager killed by police in Columbus, has begun.   She was big (230 pounds) and she had a knife and the police are trained to aim at "body mass" because it's easy to miss a leg or an arm and yes, there's video.  I don't want to look at it right now.  I want to look at another girl.  She's seven, and she says with pride, "My daddy changed the world."  I hope Gianna Floyd is right.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021


 (Middle French for mish-mash)

"I just had my second Moderna shot.  When will my mind start being controlled by Bill Gates?" asks Andy Borowitz.  It's much better than that -- soon you will mind-meld with Dolly Parton.

This is not the day for buccaneer entrepreneurs like Gates and Musk.  In Texas, a speeding, driverless Tesla hit a tree and burst into flames.  I thought they were electric. 

Also driverless, a NASA helicopter lifted off from the surface of Mars, flew up ten feet, hovered and landed.  The flight lasted thirty seconds.  What's the difference between a robot helicopter and a drone?

Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) is bored, so he decided to activate his "panic button" to see how long it took Capitol Police to respond.  People get arrested for calling 911 to find out who won the Steelers-Bears game, but this guy is still free.

It's always funny when a covid-denying Trumpanzee gets covid.  Today's laughingstock:  Ted Nugent.  Warning:  Facebook post contains racism and whining.

"Today is what you might call a very unofficial American holiday," Chuck Schumer said this afternoon, and for an awful moment I thought he meant the twenty-second anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.  For another awful moment I thought he meant the event that Klebold and Harris chose to commemorate.  I cleared my head and read on:  Schumer was talking about reviving the federal effort to legalize marijuana, or if you like, repeal weed prohibition, which worked about as well as alcohol prohibition and damaged as many lives.  

The jury is back, and it's going to be a memorable April 20 one way or another.



Sunday, April 18, 2021

Broken hearts


"Queen Elizabeth II sat isolated and the royal family gathered under stringent coronavirus restrictions to say goodbye to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," said the Washington Post yesterday.  Maybe only an American paper would call it "an image that breaks hearts around the world," although viewer figures suggest millions of Brits are over their rage at the BBC for cancelling a soap opera and a cooking show on the day the prince died.  A cynic (as opposed to a cockeyed optimist like me) might almost think the media-savvy court arranged the seating in St. George's Chapel for maximum sympathy.  

There are more broken hearts than usual just now, all over the world.  There are the ones we never see, for the thousands dying of covid every day in countries well- and ill-governed, rich and poor.  There are the victims of Central American gang violence, Mexican corruption, political upheaval in Myanmar and Yemen, Chinese concentration camps and natural disasters.  Looking only at the numbers as they relentlessly tick up, one could imagine a world war quietly raging, every death as important to someone as a royal duke's.

Of course, big fat dumb happy America, The Land of the Free, is full of sorrow, too.  Since I sat down at the keyboard, word has come of two more or less simultaneous mass shootings.  Three dead at an Austin apartment complex, "an isolated domestic incident with no risk to the general public," the police soothingly assure us.  Three dead and two hospitalized in Kenosha, "an isolated additional threat to the community."  (Kyle Rittenhouse, stand back and stand by.)  The families of the eight Indianapolis victims will be comforted to know that after Brandon Hole was detained for mental health evaluation, he legally purchased two rifles to replace the shotgun that was confiscated.  There's a "red flag" law in Indiana; the flag says "Sell him guns."  

For the families of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, the worst is yet to come.  They will have to arrange covid funerals while enduring the empty words of politicians and the exhausted outrage of op-ed writers.  Then will come the torrent of abuse from the Tuckers and the Lauras, assuring their followers that the dead man and boy deserved to die for stepping outside the lines this society draws around people of color, brilliantly described by Jonathan Capehart ("Being Black in America is exhausting").  They will have to do all that while awaiting, with most of the world, the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial, and wondering if he or any other "sworn officer of the law" will be punished for a public, extrajudicial execution.  If Brooklyn Center and Chicago have to stump up a few million dollars, it will never mend their broken hearts.  

Christine Emba and others have written about why they are not watching the Chauvin trial -- because of the exhaustion Capehart describes, and because they know it will happen again, maybe not so public and excruciating, maybe in the home of some innocent person unrecorded by Smartphones or CCTV, but it will happen.  Moreover, the response will be identical, from the shrine of flowers to the tear gas and rubber bullets deployed against protesters and reporters.  Somebody will be angry enough to break a window or burn a car and Fox Nation will shit themselves.  If we're lucky, we'll get a week to recuperate before the next shooting, police or amateur.  We have not been lucky this month.  America runs on guns.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Wildflowers and other matters

And you thought Friday would never come.

A data breach at GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding site, has revealed the names of numerous police, public officials and an engineer at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory who donated anonymously in support of Rusten Sheskey, Kyle Rittenhouse and others for shooting Black Lives Matter protesters.  A donation from the executive officer of internal affairs for the Norfolk, Virginia police came with the comment, "God bless.  Thank you for your courage.  Keep your head up.  You've done nothing wrong."

In Oklahoma and other states it's legal to hit demonstrators with your car, but Florida decided that doesn't go far enough.  If you show up at a protest that turns violent, the Combating Violent, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act carries a carload of draconian measures including denial of bail and loss of food stamps or other public assistance.  That's in case some patriot from The Villages fails to kill you with his Ford Explorer.  

Karen Garner is 73 and suffers from dementia.  Last June she was walking away from Walmart in Loveland, Colorado, without paying for about $14 worth of items.  A police officer spotted her in a field, picking wildflowers, and wrestled her to the ground, handcuffing her and dislocating her shoulder.  She sat in a cell for six hours without anyone noticing she needed medical help.  

(It was the wildflowers.  My grandmother had dementia and wandered away from home, apparently spending the day gathering honeysuckle before she lay down and died of exposure.  I still remember Grandpa describing the odor of the flowers when he opened her purse.)

The lawsuit says Mrs. Garner is still traumatized and afraid to leave the house.  No charges were brought against the police apart from the usual paid vacation administrative leave.

What was Sgt. Jon Mattingly doing during his administrative leave from the Louisville Police?  The leader of the team that killed Breonna Taylor while she slept has written a book and had it published by a company that also counts Laura Loomer and Matt Gaetz among its authors.  But he's been cancelled in his sleep by Simon & Schuster -- them again! -- which has a distribution deal with Post Hill Press but declines to touch The Fight For Truth:  The Inside Story Behind the Breonna Taylor Tragedy.  I guess we'll have to wait for the movie and put up with the whining from Tin-tray Tucker, et al.  The  "right of the people peaceably to assemble" may be vanishing but surely publishers are still required to distribute right-wing apologetics.   

The National Marrow Donor Program was re-authorized by the House with two dissenting votes.  Can you guess?  Oh, you're clever.  Yes, it's the Sod Squad, Six-gun Boebert and Bats-in-the-belfry Greene.  Six-gun, who recently earned her GED, is worried about the "billions" this program will add to the national debt, while Bats doesn't see why dear widdle fetuses should be sacrificed to live people with leukemia.  You know, morons.

Sure, Adam Toledo's hands were empty and raised, but his shirt said JUST DO IT.  The Chicago police had to shoot him after he made them run.  The thirteen-year-old didn't live to hear Sean Hannity describe him as "a man."  I wonder if he had a bar mitzvah.

Jon Ryan Schaffer is a founding member of the Oath Keepers, but he has apparently taken a different kind of oath to cooperate with prosecutors over his participation in the January 6 coup attempt.  If you can't trust an Oath Keeper to keep his oath, what's the point?  Now that Proud Boys leader/FBI snitch doesn't look so bad.

Americans continue to resist vaccination but are availing themselves of the quack cure from Oclo Nanotechnology Science of -- of course -- Florida.  Chlorine dioxide is an industrial bleach, much stronger than the laundry bleach Trump was urging idiots to drink last year.  That's because the UK Variant (B117) is more contagious and deadly than regular covid.  The company is owned by Ricardo Garcia, a self-described chemist and real estate agent, and for only $680 plus shipping he offers an enema version suitable for autistic children.  Does he promised to cure their covid or their autism?  My guess:  both.

The Trump family has done a one-eighty on covid, with Princess promoting vaccines on her Instagram page and Daddy raging about the Biden administration putting the Johnson & Johnson shot on hold.  As usual, there's no concern for people -- Trump is sure there's a conspiracy between Pfizer and the FDA.   And still, not enough praise for him.  So, not a "Democrat hoax" anymore?

In other deadly Trump news, Oklahoma has over a million doses of hydroxychloroquine purchased last year as a gesture of servile loyalty.  So if the Sooner Live Anyplace Else state sees a major outbreak of malaria this summer, they're laughing.  Or if it expires, I tank cleaner?

When a woman tells the police her son is talking about "suicide by cop," maybe she should be taken seriously.  Brandon Hole's mother did that months before he killed eight people and himself at the Fedex facility in Indianapolis last night.  (He had to kill himself, he was white.  Yes, I'm bitter.)

And bitterly we roll along.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Police blotter, continued

 Kimberly Potter was arrested and will be charged with manslaughter.  Apparently it's not murder if you yell, "Taser, taser, taser!" before firing your gun.  

An unnamed Capitol Police officer will not be charged for killing Ashli Babbitt as she climbed through a broken window during the January 6 coup attempt.  Babbitt is now the subject of her own flag bearing the word "revenge."  I expected no less.

Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey has been cleared by an internal and external review and returned to work.  He will not face charges for shooting Jacob Blake seven times, leaving him paralyzed.

Dr. David Fowler, a forensic pathologist, testified for the defense and said George Floyd could have died from carbon monoxide poisoning as he lay near a car's exhaust pipe.   Tomorrow they'll probably find an expert who blames anaphylactic shock, as he could have been allergic to Derek Chauvin's pants.  Possibly someone in the crowd fired a dart from a blowpipe.  Happens all the time in Minnesota.  When you're defending the indefensible you grasp any straw that floats past, but if I were on that jury I'd want to give him another two years for insulting my intelligence.

The understaffed, overworked Capitol Police were unprepared for the violent coup attempt of January 6, according to a report by their inspector general, Michael Bolton.  The grisly details will be made public at a hearing of the House administrative committee tomorrow.  Of course, prior to Trump, this force were basically lightly armed tour guides who never expected to have to fight for their lives against an armed mob.  Remember, the Marines didn't keep Iranian "students" from seizing the US Embassy in 1979.  And the Iranians didn't have fifth columnists inside the building.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bill Gates is in my bloodstream

 Hang on to something, it gets crazy fast.

"Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence.  I am done with those who condone government funded murder.  No more policing, incarceration and militarization.  It can't be reformed."

We're all horrified and disgusted by the killing of Daunte Wright, Congresswoman Tlaib, but you appear to have fallen into the vat of Kool Aid and tried to drink your way out.  No sane person believes this or any society can get along without police.  Have you noticed how much money seditionists like Cruz and Greene have raised lately?  This will only help them.

Someone in New York wants to marry their adult child and has filed suit to overturn the state's incest law.  The suit describes them as PAACNP (Parent and Adult Child Non-Procreationable).  Spellcheck doesn't think that's a word and neither do I.  Nineteen million people live in the state of New York and these two can't get a date with one of them?

Kim Potter, who resigned from the Brooklyn Center police department after killing Daunte Wright, was a 26-year veteran and a training officer.  Repeat after me:  This is my taser, this is my gun, one is for deterring a suspect and the other isn't.  (Incidentally, Derek Chauvin was also a training officer.  The three rookies he trained will go on trial next.)

Now that pillow magnate Mike Lindell has all but reinstalled Trump in his rightful White House and all but destroyed Twitter and the other radicaliberal social media, he's coming for Amazon.  Before you sign up for another year of Amazon Plus check out MyStore and its many not-sold-in-stores products.  I'm leaning toward BleedStop because I bleed all the time, especially after eating Beach Bark Brittle.  But do they sell whatever Mike is smoking these days?

The Fukushima nuclear power plant has about a million tons of contaminated water it plans to dump in the ocean over the next three decades.  What could go wrong?  Probably nothing worse than the phosphate-rich water being pumped into Tampa Bay.

Mike Pompeo is in trouble with the Fox News ethics department...wait, why are you laughing?

The US Drought Monitor warns that the western part of the country is in for a historic drought this summer.  Better rake those forests.

Having decided that Anthony Fauci conspired with China to invent covid-19, Pastor Rick Wiles of Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, Florida, demands that he be waterboarded until he confesses.  Somebody has to keep those Christian traditions alive.  

John Cornyn can't believe Joe Biden is "really in charge" because he doesn't constantly give interviews or emit a stream of mad tweets at three in the morning.  Also his speeches are scripted and he never praises himself or whines about being the most harassed president in history.  If Cornyn can't remember the Obama administration, maybe he's too senile to be a senator. 

"Shooting the vaccine/Bill Gates is in my bloodstream/It's mind control," Mick Jagger sings on his new single "Eazy Sleazy."  Just what we need, another reason for the skittish and the credulous to dodge the vaccine.  (He also sings about running out of clean clothes, so maybe not a hundred percent serious.)  Distribution of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot has been suspended because six people out of seven million developed rare blood clots.  This coronavirus cleverly leaves most of its victims alive and unimpaired so people will get together and enable it to spread and mutate, like the Michigan Republicans who held a district meeting in a restaurant.  If covid made people crippled like polio or disfigured like smallpox, even idiots like these would be screaming for a shot.  Anyway, it's no "Gimme Shelter" but not bad for a man of 77.    



Monday, April 12, 2021

Police blotter

 I was looking around for a story to start the week off smartly and Florida did not let me down.  This one has everything.  In Boca Raton, Nastasia Snape struck and killed a 75-year-old judge from New York, Sandra Feuerstein, when she swerved onto a sidewalk.  Snape then fled the scene and, when arrested, began screaming that she was Harry Potter.  (Not Severus Snape?)  The synthetic drug known as bath salts (monkey dust in the UK, which is charming) was found in her purse.  A boy was also injured.  Judge Feuerstein had been hearing the case of former NYPD officer Valerie Cincinelli, accused of paying her lover to kill her husband.  So hit-and-run, Harry Potter, drugs, dead judge, murder for hire, and all in Trump's backyard.  It's like the first chapter of a Carl Hiaasen novel.

Nastasia Snape was arrested after crashing her car in Delray Beach.  Despite the trail of mayhem she left, and despite being Black, she was arrested without incident.  Daunte Wright was not so fortunate.  Police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, pulled him over for a traffic violation last night and discovered an outstanding warrant.  Wright got back into his car and allegedly tried to drive off, whereupon he was shot and killed by an officer who says she meant to fire her taser but mistakenly fired her gun.  Wright was 20 and was on the phone with his mother when he died.  Brooklyn Center is a largely Black community ten miles from Minneapolis.

Daunte Wright had had his car for two weeks.  Caron Nazario, another new car owner, was driving home last December through Windsor, Virginia, which sounds more like a "sundown" community.  Two officers pulled him over for not having a rear license plate; in fact his temporary plate was taped to the rear window.  They ordered Lieutenant Nazario, wearing his US Army uniform, to get out, which he was understandably reluctant to do.  When he did emerge, hands in the air, they pepper-sprayed and handcuffed him and said he was "fixin' to ride the lightning," a reference to either the electric chair or tasing.  They threatened him with retaliation if he didn't "chill and let this go."  He didn't; he's suing the police, one of whom, Joe Gutierrez, has been fired.  

Retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster is unhappy.  He's locked up with common criminals after being arrested for his role in the January 6 coup attempt.  He was determined to be "a danger to the community" despite his "sparkling record" as a police officer.  There is damning video of Webster beating a Metro police officer with a metal flagpole and jamming his fingers into the man's eyes, but Webster claims he was merely answering the call of his president.  What would he say if a cop had tried to blind him while he was "on the job"?  Much less a civilian.

Yesterday's "White Lives Matter" demonstrations were sparsely attended and generally hilarious; I especially like the one in Albuquerque, where police had to protect the sole Trumpite from a crowd of counter-protesters.  Charlottesville seems like a long time ago.

Maryland became the first state to repeal its Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights and establish new rules for the use of force, overriding the veto of Republican Governor Hogan.  Last week New Mexico abolished "qualified immunity" for all state employees, including police.  Also last week, Minneapolis police brass broke with precedent to denounce Derek Chauvin's actions in the death of George Floyd.  Slowly the blue wall is cracking.  Imagine police being limited to the same Bill of Rights the rest of us have.  It might make the job less attractive to racist sociopaths.  One can hope.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Lyrids away

 "The best way to watch is to lie down with your feet facing east," says the Independent, referring to the annual Lyrid meteor shower.  "Face up," they don't bother to add.   And while you watch, pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space...

Ever since Meghan Markle a/k/a The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah there was racism in the court, the right has adopted British royalty as its personal cause.  Now Brian Kilmeade says it was her hurtful comments which contributed to the death of Prince Philip.  He was 99, he had heart problems, and somehow I don't think being called a racist would have bothered him all that much, but never pass up a chance to attack an outspoken Black woman.  Markle, who is pregnant, has apparently decided not to fly halfway around the world during a pandemic to spend time with people who dislike her at the funeral of her husband's grandfather, so expect more abuse next week.

The BBC has also experienced collateral damage from the prince's death.  Viewers were enraged to find tributes to the Queen's husband instead of EastEnders and the long-awaited final of Master Chef (someone will have to explain the popularity of competitive cooking to me one day).  The highest-rated program of the night was Gogglebox, where a family of subnormal intelligence watches and comments on television shows.  I wonder why.  The Beeb is understandably confused; back in 2002 they were bollocked for being insufficiently somber about the death of the Queen Mother at 101.  The only time they got it right was the orgy of grief over Diana, which may still be going on.  (On a personal note, I find it hilarious that MSNBC thinks Prince Charles needs to be subtitled for Americans.)

Dead duke or no, they went ahead with a full day's racing from Aintree today, culminating in the Grand National steeplechase.  Ex-girls who grew up on Enid Bagnold's National Velvet (or the movie, or the TV series) are chuffed today as Minella Times, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, won the big race.  The Grand National combines the worst features of fox hunting and the Charge of the Light Brigade; as usual, most of the field either threw their riders, fell, or just refused to go any farther.  Sensible creatures, horses.  You just know the queen slipped away from the family to watch and perhaps to quietly celebrate the shattering of another glass ceiling.

John Boehner calls Ted Cruz a jerk; Ted Cruz calls John Boehner a drunk.  Hey, you're both right!  It's like having Daniel Webster back, isn't it?

I never heard of piplsay, but they asked 30,138 people who should be president and 46 percent of them went for Dwayne Johnson, a/k/a The Rock, a self-described "six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pickup truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy" who was a professional wrestler and is now a movie actor.  He'd be proud to serve, he says.  I'd love for him to debate John Fetterman.

"Have they sort of established a small universe where nothing matters?  You can pay off a porn star and it doesn't make a difference.  Did they really think that somehow Hunter Biden was going to make a difference?" said Charlie Sykes about the Republicans' failure to gain any traction from the memoir published by the President's son.  Instead, the book has been praised by both literary critics and addiction-treatment professionals.  Hunter hurt a lot of people including himself, but he's out-crimed by even a Trumpanzee bit-player like Seth Pendley, who attended the sedition party at the Capitol and was arrested for plotting to blow up an Amazon data center.  He's outsleazed by Statutory Gaetz, who is engaging in all manner of vaudeville to distract from allegations that he used fake ID to take underage girls across state lines and even to the Bahamas.  He never scammed money from Americans as Trump continues to do.  I like the way he doesn't jump on Twitter with semi-literate squawks every time someone criticizes his father.  I might buy his book.  (Did Hannity and Carlson really think they'd destroy him by broadcasting stolen sex pictures from the infamous laptop?  Nice try, boys.  They're probably in the book.)  

Slobodan Milosevic, Mumia Abu-Jamal, concentration camp commander Karl Linnas, Lori Berenson (imprisoned in Peru for aiding Marxist guerrillas) and Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a pastor who organized the massacre of Tutsi refugees in his church in Rwanda -- these are a few defendants represented by Ramsey Clark, who has died at 93.  As Lyndon Johnson's attorney general he also prosecuted William Sloane Coffin, Benjamin Spock, Marcus Raskin and two other men who had never met for conspiracy to abet draft resistance.  A challenge to biographers.

Debra Hunter was in a Pier 1 in Florida berating the staff -- apparently she wanted to return an item she had forgotten to bring -- when Heather Sprague took out her phone and began recording the fun.  Hunter took exception to this, making an unfriendly gesture and then coughing in Sprague's face.  Little did she know Sprague has cancer.  Hunter has now been sentenced to thirty days in jail, six months of probation, a $500 fine, anger management class, a mental health evaluation and the cost of Sprague's covid test.  I hope it was worth it.  But what do you get for coughing on an otherwise healthy person?  (An invitation to Mar a Lago?)

...'cause there's bugger-all down here on earth.


Thursday, April 08, 2021

Entered as third-class matter

 (With apologies and respect to S.J. Perelman, il miglior fabbro)

Joe Biden couldn't have chosen a better day to announce his gun-control initiatives.  The mass shootings are coming so fast I can't keep track of them.  Today it was former NFL player Phillip Adams.  Yesterday a Navy medic shot two sailors in Maryland.  Wayne LaPierre had better grab the next yacht headed for the Bahamas...Hahaha!  Andrew Giuliani thinks he can defeat Andrew Cuomo and become governor of New York in time to pardon Dad and Uncle Don.  But only if a significant portion of voters believe all Italian names look alike...Researchers think Parkinson's may be spiking because of a chemical called trichloroethylene, which is in everything from shoe polish to industrial cleaner.  Exactly how many Superfund sites are there?...Belfast has broken out in violence as Northern Ireland prepares to celebrate, if that's the word, its establishment in 1921...Ted Nugent, who's "addicted to truth, logic and common sense," wants to know why he wasn't prevented from touring by Covids 1-18.  I assume he has forsaken music for comedy.  Watch out, Larry the Cable Guy!...No sooner was Pushpika de Silva crowned Mrs. Sri Lanka than last year's winner Caroline Jurie snatched the crown off her head and was arrested for assault.  It's good to know there's a place that still knows what's important...The survival of the human species is threatened not by climate change or nuclear weapons, but by people who identify as transgender.  According to Tucker Carlson and his crackpot guest, anyway...If you can't scam 'em, scare 'em.  This appears on the NRCC webpage:

Give us your money or we'll shoot this dog.  (Was that National Lampoon?)  "Get Trump to run" is delicious.  I picture them lined up for miles like the Russians in Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible imploring the tsar to return to Moscow.

Send the tumbrel for Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R-GA) who blames Trump and Giuliani for the state's war on voting rights.  I hope he has a safe house picked out and stocked with food...Amazon is challenging hundreds of ballots in the Bessemer, Alabama, unionization vote, so it looks like the union won.  If the recount doesn't go their way there's always Sidney Powell and her kraken...Kaitlin Jenner, Matthew McConaughey, Lara Trump, Sarah Sanders, it's silly season for silly people attracting attention to their possible, proposed, maybe-kinda candidacies.  Where could they have got the idea that any doofus can -- never mind...It took months for the news of Lee's surrender to reach Texas, hence Juneteenth.  Tomorrow is the 156th anniversary of said surrender, and some people still haven't heard.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Shut up and click "donate"

 The gist of the Supreme Court's notorious Citizens United decision, as I understand it, is that corporations are entitled to the same Constitutional protections as people, especially the right to donate staggering amounts of money to political causes.  They may also express opinions as long as they coincide with those of the far right.  Goya Foods and MyPillow are patriots; Delta and Coca-Cola, not so much

So said Mitch McConnell in support of vote suppression in Georgia.  But that was yesterday, and on consideration he no longer considers it "stupid" to oppose the racists on this matter.  He shifted to "don't become a vehicle for far-Left mobs" and then to "I didn't say that very artfully.  They are certainly entitled to be in politics."  Well, shit, thanks.  Even Major League Baseball, for which the Idiot Twins Cruz & Lee have pledged to end the antitrust exemption?  Big guns, rolling out.  

Mitch doesn't see very well despite what we used to call "Coke-bottle glasses" (now Royal Crown, I guess).  Everyone else saw the picture of Trump sneaking Diet Coke in his "office," because he's too old to fight the addiction.  (He could have had a servant decant the stuff into a Pepsi bottle but he's paranoid about drinking spit.)  The Texas Rangers are playing games as if nothing happened despite Greg Abbott's refusal to toss a ball to their catcher.   Between the spring chill and the covid pandemic it's impossible to tell how many Trumpanzees are depriving other ballparks of their presence.  Here's what Mitch should be focusing on:  Jeff Bezos says he supports increasing corporate taxes to pay for the Biden infrastructure proposals.  When he was CEO, Amazon paid as little as possible, so it could be just for show.  Still, Mitch should worry that "Republicanism = corporatism" may be cracking at the edges.

Corporations go where the customers are:  "More Americans identify as Democrats than Republicans by a margin that hasn't been seen in a decade," says the Gallup Poll, and before McConnell takes all the credit he should thank El Caudillo del Mar a Lago (thanks, Charlie), who could bring disrepute on Santa Claus's workshop.  But it's a group effort, with Matt Gaetz constituting a whole DNC recruitment drive by himself; Tom Cotton, who has decided there aren't enough Americans in prison (could he possibly mean Black Americans?); Lauren Boebert and the other gunslingers; and the unprecedented coup attempt of January 6.  Wait till those trials start.  

Charlie Pierce calls it "The Triumph of the Craziarchy," and it encompasses the new corporate wariness, the inability of top Trumpers to find new positions, and the Republicans' own weekly Night of the Long Knives.  The "censoring" of members who deviate even a little from the party line, even civilians like Cindy McCain, is fun to watch.  Who can resist the story of John Boehner recording the audio version of his memoirs and breaking off to rage about Ted Cruz?  ("Nobody in the Senate likes Ted Cruz as much as I do and I hate Ted Cruz," Al Franken wrote.)  Or Trump complaining that Georgia's vote-suppression law doesn't go far enough?  

Fact is, most people like Joe Biden and what he's done already and is attempting to do.  The stock market likes him.  Unions like him -- they're feeling encouraged for the first time in decades.   People are starting to think we could get past this pandemic and recover normal life, whatever that is.  I haven't written about the trial of Derek Chauvin because it's alternately too painful and too enraging to watch, but you know what?  The President of the United States has not tweeted a single opinion about it.  That wouldn't be right.  (Remember when Nixon pronounced Charles Manson guilty in mid-trial?)  Slowly people are getting used to a president who just...behaves...decently.  It's been a long time. 

Monday, April 05, 2021

In god we trust less

 Last week a man from Indiana or Virginia, depending on the source, drove his car into a barricade in Washington, killing one Capitol Police officer, William Evans, and injuring another before being killed himself.  Investigators have scoured his Facebook page but learned nothing except that Noah Green was unemployed and belonged to the Nation of Islam.  

Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted her grief and observed, "The death toll would have been worse if the assailant had an AR-15 instead of a knife."  This outraged Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC), who retorted, "Would have been worse if they [sic] had been flying planes into the buildings [sic] also."  Omar can trigger Islamophobia like a cat setting off a motion sensor alarm.  Got it, Greg, all guns good, all Muslims evil.  Your check from the NRA is being messengered as the US Mail is still a mess.

Yesterday Senator Raphael Warnock, who moonlights Sundays as a Baptist pastor, tweeted, "The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Whether you are a Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves."  This outraged former Trump lawyer turned theologian Jenna Ellis, who called it "false gospel and heresy" and sneered, "Read Romans, 'Reverend' Warnock.  You are a false teacher."  Preach the gospel according to Jenna or STFU.

What is it about Easter that makes the bile burst from so many Christians?  Is it just closer to the surface?  From the Middle Ages until a few decades ago countries like Russia and Poland marked Good Friday with a traditional pogrom, because Jesus clearly said, "Avenge my death."  The most recent occurred in Kielce, Poland, in 1946 and took the lives of 42 Jews out of about 200 who had somehow survived the Holocaust.  That particular custom did not cross the Atlantic, but we had plenty of lynchings and other hate crimes like the one transfixing daytime cable right now.  All the trial of Derek Chauvin lacks is a religious dimension, but I won't be shocked if the defense puts his clergyman on the stand.

Evangelicals announce every few months that the Day of Judgment is at hand, and they always go away mumbling and promising to crunch the numbers again.  This time, however, they may be right -- and they have only themselves to blame.  After years of attaching themselves to the white nationalist wing of the Republican Party (now the only wing there is), they have succeeded in alienating so many people that only 47 percent of Americans are willing to admit to the Gallup Poll that they belong to a church, mosque or synagogue.  Twenty years ago it was 70 percent.  Younger people especially are disgusted by attempts to push religion in public schools, deny legal protection to LGBTQ people and destroy reproductive freedom.  The most enthusiastic churchgoers are still African Americans who have depended on the church for community organizing and protection since before the Civil War.  The "prosperity gospel" crowd could learn from this, but they won't.  Another reason for hope.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Easter eggs

 If Coca-Cola opposes Georgia's vote-suppression law and Trump opposes Coca-Cola's opposition, what is he using to wash down his Big Macs?  

For reasons best known to itself, TCM is showing its April schedule in alphabetical order, from Adam's Rib to Z.  So the only seasonal film scheduled today is Easter Parade (looking forward to Ann Miller's tapping and Judy Garland's Gookie), and nothing with the original big orange face, Charlton Heston.  No multitudes being escorted out of Egypt with crummy special effects and risible music.  No crucifixion of Jeffrey Hunter, H.B. Warner or any other blue-eyed Nazarene.  Now if they'd just get through next March 17 without all the ten-ton blarney.

Speaking of musicals, I saw Dancing Lady (1933) and it's a miracle Fred Astaire ever had a movie career.  He has to dance with Joan Crawford, who dances like she's swimming against a strong current, in one of the worst production numbers you ever saw.  Franchot Tone is the Park Avenue playboy who bails her out of the workhouse and wants to make her his mistress, but she dumps him for Clark Gable as the director determined to put on a show against all odds (think Warner Baxter in 42nd Street).  It would be years before MGM figured out the musical as opposed to the operetta -- and Nelson Eddy pops up in this thing, too.  Crawford would go on to marry Tone and then replace him with Phillip Terry, best known for playing the incredibly understanding brother of Don Birnam in Lost Weekend.  Yes, I pretty much live in old movies.

Your favorite Christian President marked the most solemn day in the calendar with an extended aria about "election fraud" and "Radical Left crazies" that concluded, "Other than that, happy Easter!"  It's not quite as amusing as last year's "HAPPY GOOD FRIDAY TO ALL!" but still in The Onion territory in that you can't quite believe it's not a joke.   It's not a joke.

Other Florida residents are not having as good a day.  In Manatee County a reservoir holding 300 million gallons of toxic water from a derelict phosphate mine is leaking, and more than three hundred homes have already been evacuated.  But please tell us why two trillion dollars to patch up this country's infrastructure is excessive and probably communistic, Governor Braindead.

We're supposed to fear China, but China fears Oscar.  The People's Republic will not allow the ceremony to be shown live because Chloe Zhao, nominee for Best Director, might say something critical of the Chinese government, and also because Do Not Split, a short documentary about the Hong Kong democracy protests, is nominated in its category.  Evidently the powerhouse of Asia is as thin-skinned as Trump.  

Mike Huckabee thinks he's funny.  He has decided to "identify as Chinese" because -- go on, treat yourself.  While he was typing, an Asian couple in their seventies were attacked in Oakland by four men; their son defended them with a machete.  Ted Lieu called Shecky Huckabee "a shithead."

Shocking...the Trump campaign scammed millions of dollars from people who didn't read the small print and thought they were making a one-time donation.  I live through four gruesome years of Trumpery and I have no sympathy, even for the man with terminal cancer.  I only wonder what kind of elaborate crime he's currently engaged in.  Letitia James, where are you?

I overlooked Matt Gaetz's book when it was published last September, but it's flying off the remainder tables now.  Everyone is suddenly enthralled to discover the agenda that brought him to Washington:  "Getting paid and getting laid."  It's right there in print, with his name on the cover.  Be sure to check the index for "IDs, fake" and "Epstein, Jeffrey" before you spend your 99 cents.

I have to go.  Blogger is worse than usual and my fingers are sore.  Other than that, happy Easter!



Saturday, April 03, 2021

Not your grandfather's game

Synchronicity or coincidence?  I happened to put on a local channel carrying the Ken Burns documentary Baseball, and it happened to be the episode with a description of the 1912 Tigers-Highlanders game in New York where Ty Cobb assaulted a spectator who called him a "half-n-----".  He was suspended, and his Detroit teammates went on strike until his reinstatement.  

A century later it's certain the Georgia Peach would not recognize his game, and not just because the Highlanders are now called the Yankees.   He'd be astonished that Major League Baseball, prodded by the Players Association, has removed the All-Star Game from Atlanta because of Georgia's decision to double down on its program of vote suppression.  (In 1912 few Black people even considered trying to vote in Georgia.)  That the game is dedicated to the memory of Hank Aaron would have him reaching for more choice language and the whiskey.

The politicians who supported the racist law in Georgia (and potentially others all over the country) are livid about the "cancelled" game, and the hundred million dollars it will likely cost the state, but racism costs more economically in 2021 than it did in 1912, when Cobb paid a fifty-dollar fine.  Angry consumers threatening to become non-consumers caused the Delta and Coca-Cola criticisms, however late and tepid.   A boycott of TV and movie work in the state has been called for but is more controversial, opposed by people like Tyler Perry and Stacey Abrams.  (Perry has a huge production facility in Atlanta and Abrams is among those putting faith in federal intervention.)  The legislature's response was to try ending Delta's jet fuel tax benefit.  Because boycotts are legitimate only when proposed by the White nationalists.

To which end Trump and Tucker Carlson have called on their followers to boycott major league baseball.  It's part racism, part Trump's lingering resentment of the game that never let him buy in, part the "shut up and play" response to athletes presuming to be political.  Also you just know Tucky was picked last for every game he ever tried to play.  Sorry, boys, we are never going back to 1912, when women could only vote in a few states and even New York fans cheered Cobb for being an asshole.  We aren't even going back to the "blue laws" of the past.  (In furtherance of vote suppression Cindy Hyde-Smith  (R-MS) would ban Sunday voting because "Remember the Sabbath," but I don't hear her complaining about the NFL schedule.)  To paraphrase Friedrich Durenmatt, a thing I seldom do, "What's woke cannot be unwoke."       


Friday, April 02, 2021

The forever culture wars

This week in The Nation Katha Pollitt suggests that snatching books out of the hands of children might not be the best way to address systemic racism.  Calling And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street 
"a work of considerable genius," she notes that children take from Dr. Seuss " let their imaginations run wild."  Who could be against that?  Well, the same people who see yoga as a threat to their "Christian values," I suppose, which is why this is so confusing.  

What happens when the author victimized by "political correctness" and "cancel culture" is a willing participant in his own cancellation?  Dav Pilkey writes the Captain Underpants series of graphic novels for kids.  Scholastic Press will no longer sell one of them, published ten years ago, about a couple of cave men who travel into the future and learn kung fu, because of "passive racism," whatever that is.  (The actual authors credited on the cover are George Beard and Harold Hutchins, and I have no idea what they think.)  The complaining witness is a father named Billy Kim who borrowed the book from a library for his two young children and found it to contain "racist imagery and stereotypical tropes."  Apparently it's also partly responsible for the surge in violence against Asian Americans.  Maybe Trump read it.  

Anyway, Mr. Pilkey hopes his readers will forgive him and learn from his mistakes.  (No, he doesn't sound at all like the defendant in a 1937 Moscow trial.  Why do you ask?)  As for Scholastic Press, they've been here before.  They've taken abuse from the satanic-panic lobby for two decades after publishing the Harry Potter books (currently under fire for their author's anti-transgender views, which is a whole other issue).  Obviously they know when to run away from a fight.

As Katha Pollitt observes, "Classic children's literature is full of racial, ethnic, gender and class stereotyping [as is adult literature, she could add]...some of that can't be fixed with a few cuts."  She concludes with L.P. Hartley's wise remark, "'The past is another country.  They do things differently there.'  Let's acknowledge that and keep reading."  Yes, even reading Huckleberry Finn to your kids can be an occasion to talk about that word and why it has become so incendiary, and why Mark Twain was the opposite of a racist in 1884 (when the word "racist" didn't even exist) and what the book is trying to say.  Mr. Kim might have talked to his kids about why so many people are more than passively racist and the fraught history of Asians in America, but he just yanked the book out of their hands.  I hope he at least took them for ice cream.  Children need to be protected from the people who would deny them healthcare, voting rights and a planet that isn't too hot to live on, not from well-meaning writers.