From last night's TRMS. Stick with it through her technical issues. Is worth it.
Friday, November 13, 2020
On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend, Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison's wife had thrown HIM out, requesting that HE never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?
(Thanks to my friend Todd, who remembers this date every year.)
Can somebody please explain to Impeached Preznit Carnage 217 Electoral Votes that he did such a good job as preznit that he doesn't need to serve another term?
Monday, November 9, 2020
Saturday, November 7, 2020
I am enjoying my favorite salad, an olive salad with juniper dressing, and I am listening to this weird bootleg-sounding CD I picked up some time ago of Duke Ellington circa 1971. I don't expect the best sound quality when enjoying music of this era, but this bad recording is missing the charm of earlier Ellington bad recordings and just sounds like some wisenheimer snuck in with a tape recorder they borrowed from the high school AV closet, so I turned the volume down a little, but it is a nice break nonetheless as sometimes the MSNBC, after I've consumed it in large quantities, scratches my brain bumps in bad ways. And today has been a large MSNBC day here at the Serious Poo-Poo Institute of Technology, my friends.
As you may know, Rachel Maddow is in COVID lockdown presently but was able to provide some of her cogent color from her bunker, and she enunciated a thing I've been thinking all day, how before today, Impeached Preznit Carnage One-Termer's threats to not concede, to sue, to stamp his widdle feet and cry, to not concede, to not recognize the legitimate results, how that threat prior to today felt like a dark and cold approaching storm. However, she said, today, these efforts seem merely "laughable," and yes, that is the word she used. And, she's right.
I had expected a Biden victory to emasculate Trump. I hadn't expected it to have happened so quickly. Earlier today, Twitter covered up four of his tweets consecutively, due to them being full of bullshit. He snuck away to go golfing, and America went and called the race in his absence. By the way, whose job was it to try to convince him that going golfing on today of all days is the most horrible of ideas, and does that person still have a tongue in their head? How about the person who had to deliver the news while this dipshit was on the links?
And I know I've been somewhat of a Pollyanna regarding Biden—funny, Joe Scarborough used the same word this morning by way of self-description—but the micro-era I'm driven to in my thoughts is when we were all wringing our hands about the running mate. There were reports Susan Rice was in the mix, and Karen Bass, and Val Demings, but whether you remember the short-list names, you certainly remember the waiting. We'll announce on Aug. 1. That became next week in August, and on Aug. 11, it became we'll tell ya real soon, so there was even more waiting that day, which is when he announced. But to me, the waiting, the seemingly stretched process by which he decided, I think it offers assurance. The VEEP pick is the nominee's first preznentshul decision. Joe Biden did it right. And I think he did it right ever since. And today, these Untied States of America are enjoying the fruits in a one-term Trump.
That there was any question is a wonder. A re-elected Trump would have been a re-elected impeached president. He would have been a re-elected president with 120,000 COVID deaths on his head, with 550 needlessly orphaned children on his head, a re-elected president who did not bother to press the issue of the murder of American resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a re-elected president who used the military to clear peaceful protesters from the premiere protest park in Washington, D.C. just so he could hold up a Bibble and take a picture, a re-elected president who dared to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Fucking Limbaugh.
Biden is already getting to work. Axios reports that he will soon announce a COVID Task Force. There is already talk about his Cabinet. The projected president-elect and vice-president will speak tonight and claim victory. And Americans are dancing in the streets.
It was, indeed, a good day.
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Joe Biden did this weird thing today where he made a brief speech and said exactly what was needed to be said. Here is a link to the transcript of his speech today. And here is what I consider to be the nut graf:
We the people will not be silenced. We the people will not be bullied. We the people will not surrender. My friends, I’m confident we’ll emerge victorious. But this will not be my victory alone or our victory alone. It’ll be a victory for the American people, for our democracy, for America. And there will be no blue states and red states when we win, just the United States of America.
He spoke 796 words today. 796 words. And with the words he chose, he offered comfort, and sanity, and leadership. His speech was not about minute-to-minute politics. It was not about winning or losing. It was about comforting a reasonably jagged-feeling America. It was a fireside chat. And it helped.
This is why Joe Biden is the perfect candidate for our times. It's why he's the best choice to be president right now. Since his nomination, I have been unable to shake the feeling that the Democratic Party accidentally somehow stumbled into perfection like a guy in a tux who trips in the mud. Without an apocalyptic challenge in front and, let's face it, all around us, he'd just be Joe Biden, older Joe Biden, who doesn't cope as easily for his stutter anymore, who seems to yell more than he needs to, who says "look" and "folks" a lot.
But what we've been lacking has been a president who rises to the occasion. Impeached Preznit Carnage Weird-Lean Pear-Shaped Hickey is a president who has been offered the greatest opportunity to do that thing a president does when challenged, to grab the bullhorn on top of the smoldering pile of rubble, to yell at the German man to tear down the wall, to say the thing about asking not what your country can do for you, to break out and sing "Amazing Grace." No president has been more challenged to rise to the occasion, and, weirdly, Impeached Preznit has willfully crossed his arms, pouted, and refused to do so every stinking time.
Joe Biden isn't even the president yet, and he rises to the occasion every time he's seen in public.
We’ve had a hard campaigns before. We’ve faced hard times before. So once the selection is finalized and behind us, it’ll be time for us to do what we’ve always done as Americans, to put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to one another, to hear each other again, and respect and care for one another, to unite, to heal, to come together as a nation.
This is a study in contrasts to how the current occupant of the Oval approaches it:
This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity — for the good of this nation, this is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.
This is a country in sore need of a chief executive capable of rising to the occasion, capable of registering empathy, capable of embarking on a sensible path forward, capable of leading with integrity and by solid example. Joe Biden does nothing but prove himself to be this.
Somehow, the Democratic Party chose the best person for the job, I think nearly by accident. Joe Biden is no mere second banana any longer. He's not just good.
We'll know more later today. But keep honking your horns, America. We've got this.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Like them big trucks trying to run the Biden bus off the road, California v. Texas is roaring down on us. Oral arguments start Nov. 10 in the Supreme Court's hearing of whether or not the Affordable Care Act should be annihilated. From where I sit, the Republicans' (read: federal government's) support for this is pretty short-sighted.
Republicans have already painted themselves into a corner. They decided long ago (as documented in Robert Draper's fine book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives) that they could not afford to allow any legislative nor legacy success for President Obama, on the grounds that it would cost the Republican Party politically on a leviathan scale. The covert strategy on the Affordable Care Act, of course, was to throw glass shards into the thing when they could, so states would drag their feet on expanding Medicare, nnd Marco Rubio would nix high-risk corridor payments, and the federal government would cut back on reminding folks about open enrollment periods. Overtly, the mantra became "repeal and replace."
The problem being that there are things Obamacare does that people like, one of the most striking of these being the provision that prevents insurance companies from screwing people with "pre-existing conditions" with their pants on. And so you have an impeached preznit who insists that they have already done away with Obamacare, but that, somehow, this protection would remain sacrosanct.
As observed previously by this wonk and others (a fellow Smirking Chimp contributor Miles Mogulescu does an A+ job of laying this out, here), there is quite literally no other way to maintain this promise (besides completely socializing medicine in the United States). The promise to repeal Obamacare but to continue protecting people with "pre-existing conditions" is the elbow-in-your-ear of public policy. It just can't be done.
However, I do see a possible legislative way forward. It's stupid. But hear me out.
So what if Congress went ahead and repealed the Affordable Care Act, then introduced a new bill called the "Schmaffordable Shmare Mact." And instead of exchanges, this thing would have markets. And instead of subsidies, it would have oh, I dunno, call it "assistance for care." Instead of a mandate, there would be a requirement. And so on. They could say, oh, no, this isn't Obamacare. This is the Republican plan. It's much, much better. They could keep their promise. They could save face. And Americans could keep their current coverages. Even Democrats could go for it because the results would be laudable.
Now, as I often remind people, I am not a lawyer. But as I understand it, California v. Texas entertains two clear paths whereby the Supreme Court could completely overturn the Affordable Care Act. That would render anything resembling it as completely vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Therefore, any future legislative efforts toward health care reform could be nothing resembling a mandate, a penalty, establishing state-wide exchanges, regulating shit insurance plans, etcetera.
That leaves only one reform option on the table, Action Jackson. And it rhymes with "Medicare For All."
You know, Republicans, if you paint yourself far enough into that corner, there's a little stool and a dunce cap waiting for you. Sit down and wear the hat. You've earned it.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
I remember the conversation I had with Eric just before I left work in 2016. He was sure Trump would win. I was sure Hillary would win. We both said so.
Eric and I both shared the same birthday.
And he was right. And then he died.
Rest in peace, brother.
This is not 2016.
I keep saying that a ya’ll keep nervously scratching your arms and you’re all like ARE YOU SURE?
2016 was weird. Let’s start with the fact that it was the first election in eight years not to have an incumbent. Or that it was an attempt by political party to garner a third term as preznit. Nobody ever seems to factor those impossibilities in. Instead they be all like “Hillary was a horrible candidate and never went to Wisconsin and said that thing about coal that once.”
2016 was weird.
Is there a 12 step just for you?There was Comey. There was Russia. There was, sorry if you don’t like to talk about it, but there was Bernie. There was the Green Party. And, yes, there was Hillary.
This is not 2016.
This is 2020. And there is an incumbent. And his record is the worst in American history. He has torn breastfeeding children from their mamas’ tits. He has looked the other way amidst reports that an ally put bounties on our soldiers’ heads. He has been impeached for leaning on a foreign entity for garbage on a political opponent. He has inarguably bungled a response to the most vital health crisis this country has ever experienced. Just yesterday, he left his own supporters out in the middle of nowhere to freeze to death.
I still think we’re going to be okay. I’m not saying I think it’s going to be easy.
But have you seen those lines?
Paul Weyrich is shitting his pants in his grave.
It’s going to be okay.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
The confirmation process has made ever clearer to me one of the fundamental differences between the federal judiciary and the United States Senate. And perhaps the most acute is the role of policy preferences. It is the job of a Senator to pursue her policy preferences. In fact, it would be a dereliction of duty for her to put policy goals aside. By contrast, it is the job of a judge to resist her policy preferences. It would be a dereliction of duty for her to give into them. Federal judges don’t stand for election, thus they have no basis for claiming that their preferences reflect those of the people.
This separation of duty from political preference is what makes the judiciary distinct among the three branches of government. A judge declares independence, not only from Congress and the President, but also from the private beliefs that might otherwise move her. The Judicial Oath captures the essence of the judicial duty. The rule of law must always control.
This is from the speech given today by Amy Coney Barrett from the White House after being fake sworn-in by Justice Clarence Thomas as Impeached Preznit Carnage Pornstarfucker looked on.
Read that again. The new United States justice. Declared her independence as a justice from Congress, her own biases, and THE PRESIDENT. FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
Impeached Preznit's Chief of Staff Mark "We Are Not Going To Control The Pandemic" Meadows and CNN's Jake Tapper chat about masks:
JT: So the American people should abide by CDC guidelines, but you are not even asking your supporters to wear masks, even though--
MM: We have. We pass them out Jake. I mean, have you been to a... have you... have have... have...
JT: Do you know how many people in Minnesota have gotten the virus because of Trump rallies?
MM: Have you been to a rally? You come on with us to a rally, and we'll show you, we give out masks. We have a number of people--
JT: They don't wear them.
MM: Well, it's a free society. You're not wearing one right now, Jake.
JT: There is literally nobody in this room. There is literally not one person in this studio.
MM: So you're saying that you always wear a mask wherever you go. Come on, Jake. The American people know that's not true. I know it's not true.
JT: I wear a mask except when I am here, in my office, and home. That is true. 100 percent. I wear a mask when I walk in the hallway at CNN.
Note to preznits: Please don't stick yer chiefs-of-staff in front of a camera. They don't belong there.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
I have just returned to my headquarters from my first attempt to vote. Where I live, where I have lived for nearly ten years now, I have never waited long in line to vote. I figured I’d just take my ballot in and drop it off real quick just to make sure Louie DeJoy didn’t mess with my vote.
They were lined up around the block.
Suddenly, my faith in the United States Postal Service has been restored.
Regardless of how it was done, it is done: I have voted. Make sure yinz do, too.
I often wonder why some “conservative” friends are sometimes weird about attribution. One today in my facedbook feed began a post by claiming they’d found it “in the comments section of an on-line article.” This struck me as weird, so I did some painstaking legwork: I copied the first sentence of what they had posted, and I pasted it into a Googly search bar.
Wouldn’t you know that the piece was published on the Fox Business site and was authored by Andy Puzder. Who’s Andy Puzder? Why, he was nominated in December 2016 to be Impeached Preznit Carnage Dear Leader’s Secretary of Labor.
Here’s the lede in this little op-ed: “Released two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” for 2019 clearly shows that, pre-pandemic, President Trump’s economic success blew past that of any other presidency. First, the Census Bureau reported that real median household income grew to $68,703 in 2019, an impressive 6.8% increase over 2018. It was the largest one-year increase in median income on record going back to 1967.”
So. I googlied that, too. And I discovered a darned interesting article by Jonathan Rothbaum, chief of the Income Statistics Branch in the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division at the US Census Bureau. Rothbaum wrote that there might be a wee bit of a problem with making comparisons to years prior to 2017, “…since recent estimates reflect changes implemented to the survey,” and also, ya know: Pandemic.
The article is called “Was Household Income the Highest Ever in 2019?” It wanders pretty far into the weeds, so your mileage may vary. As noted, however, the kernel of Rothbaum’s analysis is that Andy Puzder’s scratched-the-surface comparison and its slimy adulation of the Superspreader-in-Chief might leave us a bit short on truth.
Besides, there’s that trickly little qualifier in there, “pre-pandemic.” As in yeah, I was in terrific health before all the tumors. I don’t care if the fucker put a literal chicken in every literal pot before the pandemic. In fact, that’s a polling area I’ve never been able to understand, oh, Trump has been horrible on the COVID, but he’s our man when it comes to the economy! There is no economy with COVID. There’s only more and more people skewered via intubation in ICU beds.
I remember when it was explained to me what had to happen in order to conquer this pandemic. First, we have to stay home so as not to overwhelm the medical infrastructure. Next, we have to test people, test a lots of people. After that, we ask anyone who tests positive where they’ve been and who they’ve seen in the last two weeks or so, and we go to those places, and we find those people, and we test THEM. And so on, and so on, and scooby doobie doo.
Do you notice a part of that we’ve not done? The contact tracing? Like, not at all? We are EIGHT MONTHS into this pandemic now. There has been no federal push to do the most vital, the most aggressive thing that can be done to whack this virus down. And this Andy Puzder offers up an analysis that is no better, no more useful than the nostalgia one feels flipping through one’s high school yearbook. Remember before the pandemic? Wasn’t that neat?
Impeached Preznit Carnage Poopypants is still making fun of reporters for wearing masks; he just did this yesterday. He has not learned a single solitary thing not even after having experienced this illness himself. Another term will not cause him to improve. He is a worthless, shitty, no-good chief executive of this country, and he’s got to be voted out (since the Senate abdicated its responsibility earlier this year).
Joe Biden will encourage masks and will in fact mandate them where he can. He will mount a national effort toward testing and create an infrastructure for contact tracing. And, while mounting a response to the current crisis, he’ll proactively work to be prepared for future strikes. And I can bullet-point all of the other initiatives Biden has posted on his campaign literature, but there is one thing he has done and will do that really creates the fault between these two candidates regarding this plague:
Joe Biden wears a mask.
So, from this perspective, for me, this was a good day. I voted. I saw formidable lines for voting. And I have just watched Biden speak in Luzerne County, Pa., and it was a strong speech. I am feeling mighty good about this.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Toby Ziegler believed in magic.
White House Communications Director for fictional President Josiah Bartlet, Ziegler says he has written two speeches on election night. "I've got a speech if he wins. I've got a speech if he doesn't," he says. Despite apparently legendary poll numbers for Bartlet, Ziegler obsessively insists he won't "tempt the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing." Josh Lyman joins the meeting and, upon learning that Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn has somewhat mocked this, Lyman agrees with Ziegler's prescription: Seaborn must go outside, turn around three times, and spit. Or curse. We're not sure which.
I sure am glad I ain't Toby Ziegler.
I've been saying "landslide" for a while now. When I say it out loud to other human beings, sometimes they make that same Toby Ziegler superstitious face, and I prepare for them to insist that I get myself outside to do some sort of skyclad ritual in order to please the whatever from high atop the thing. Don't get complacent, says they. We can't be complacent. Complacency. That stuff's a killer.
And they're not wrong. Whatever label you stick on your forehead, be it "liberal," "progressive," "Democrat," "socialist," "radical," or "Abbie Hoffman," no, we can't be complacent. We can never be complacent. But I'm not being complacent. I'm being confident.
My voting plan is to awake early(ish) Saturday morning, the first day for early in-person voting in New York, and to traverse to the local mall that is .25 miles from my home, and to vote. From the looks of the reporting, many other Americans have made and stuck to voting plans around the nation. Look, NPR said so.
There are many reasons I think it's wise for Democratic voters to shake off the putrid shade of PTSD that afflicts from 2016. This is a different year. It is a different election. Our nominee is running a great campaign. He chose a rock star running mate. Even the polling averages are looking good for Democrats. And the opposition, Impeached Preznit Carnage G. Fuckhead Not A Real Billionaire, keeps finding and triggering all the shit-packed frog-mines in his path. (I have many other reasons but am trying to write succinctly.)
Of course don't be complacent. But please, find some confidence to wear in your hat. Stow at least some of that dread and loathing under your seat. Like my man James Carville used to say, we're right. They're wrong. And if Impeached Dear Leader Dances Like Elaine Benes has been good for something, he's been good at demonstrating just how right we are. People are aware. And they are showing up.
Now. Go vote. And let your little light shine.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Here in Edinboro, Pa., when I was a kid, street signs were these four-foot-tall white concrete monoliths with the street names in black lettering. I reckon they thought that was a rustic little touch to Lakeside. At some point, though, this borough had to put up real street signs, probably at the behest of PENNDOT or some other crazy liberal big-government nonsense.
These days though when you're walking around Lakeside, you notice that these posts seem a bit more colorful. It seems the fad now is to paint the things. Here's one I made a picture of yesterday while Mom and I were out for a typical lake walk.
Of course it is dog-themed. I think Edinboro has more dogs than people.
Anyway, here's the scoop on all the post painting. Edinboro is like that, community-minded and crafty. I noticed as we walked yesterday that it's also a good excuse for neighbors to have some new conversations.
This, of course, while maintaining a healthy six-foot distance.
It feels pretty good after six months in maintaining a comfort bubble within Monroe County, New York, to bust out and finally send a little time at my lake. I am right now this morning watching the most screamy children I've ever witnessed play at the playground across the street. Beyond that in my eyeshot is the pretty, spring-fed lake that draws people here, a little choppy this morning. Mom and I are having a nice, albeit socially distanced, visit. I had to have her watch my favorite new whodunnit Knives Out last night, and I think it was a hit. I liked it better the second time around; that is a good movie.
There is even less to do here than usual. Many antique shops are open by appointment only, the campus is sparsely populated, and we are still not as lulled as a Trump fan that sidling up to the bar at the Edinboro Hotel is a great idea. But it sure is pretty. And we have these new decorated posts to look at.
- Trump’s destruction of America started with Ronald Reagan (Salon)
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Monday, September 14, 2020
Sunday, September 13, 2020
The Al Franken Podcast is vital listening this week. Guests: Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winner for her writing on pandemics and Andy Slavitt, Obama’s head of Medicare and Medicaid, regarding today's state of affairs regarding SARS-CoV-2.
Spoiler: We're fucked.
- How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled (NPR)
Saturday, September 12, 2020
When Paddy Chayefsky was thinking about writing a movie about a news television network, he asked his friend, news anchor John Chancellor, if it was possible for an anchorman to go crazy on the air.
"Every day," Chancellor replied.
The resulting film, Network, is one of those films that seems with hindsight to be less farce than prognostication. You know, like Idiocracy. Well, my DOD was reminded by the news of actor Diana Rigg's death of Chayefsky's previous effort, The Hospital. This we watched today in our ongoing Pandemic Theater series. It's a bit more awkward a film and did receive mixed reviews in 1971, but it did win the Oscar for best original screenplay.
As Roger Ebert pointed out the film's most confounding aspect is that it turns on a dime from farce to whodunnit. But watching this does make it difficult to argue with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin that Chayefsky was "the twentieth century's most important screenwriter." The studio was not altogether happy with the film's yen for algebraic dialogue, but it's the lines that compelled me as a viewer.
Well. That and the oddball premise that someone is lurking around a hospital murdering doctors and nurses.
So, good pick. Once again, it was better than Birdman.
One should note: It's also fun to watch for seeing who is in this little film, starting with Nancy Marchand, who played mother of both Tony Soprano and Frasier Crane. This is not the first time Marchand had appeared in a Chayefsky project, she also played Clara in Marty. Other faces that struck me: Katherine Helmond, Stockard Channing (an uncredited brief appearance), and Frances Sternhagen (another Cheers connection, she played Cliff Claven's mother). Apparently Christopher Guest is also somewhere in this movie as well.
Friday, September 11, 2020
19 years since I and several thousand of my closest friends walked across a bridge from downtown Washington D.C. into Arlington, Va. and ended up seeking a beer and comfort with my Dear Old Dad—who was in Crystal City and therefore felt the walls shake in the conference room he was in—in the most frazzled feeling neighborhood bar I have ever experienced.
I've never been one to agree with those who believe these attacks were actually an inside job. I think hubris and stupid on the parts of Dubya and Cheney and their people was what allowed those 19 shits to commandeer and weaponize those planes. Leadership's inability to "connect the dots" was cited many times to explain it away, as was a "lack of imagination." I think Dubya and his crew believed that the Republican party had vanquished The Clinton and therefore did not have to listen to their boogey-boogey talk about some swarthy spectre plotting a devastating attack from some cave bunker.
One would think that the events of 19 years ago would have generally adjusted our leaders' outlook toward the proactive squint, that it would cause an incoming administration to heed and respect the dire warnings of the outgoing, regardless of politics, regardless of that floating feeling of victory and the rush to plant one's ass behind the Resolute desk.
One would think.
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The author who's had it most right this year is Steve Benen in The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics. Read that, and you will truly understand the landscape on which we traverse today.
Many were lost at once that day, as many are lost in slow motion through the marathon attack we face now. May better times be near.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
A young girl in summer. She is introduced to a new world. She is an oddity in this world, naiive when all the others seem more worldly. She is initially perceived as immature looking, overly-eager, and as an outsider. Even her nickname brandishes her immaturity. Soon, though, despite this underworld's attempts to send her home, she becomes more ubiquitous as days go by. Her parents approve before they know more but later disapprove. She develops a friendship though with this scene's mentor, who begins helping her master the group's essential cultural activity. Indeed, she is invited to a nighttime party that is of the hush-hush variety and is witness to a scene most outsiders do not see, with music and bonfires and dancing. And she is pulled away suddenly. There is conflict and hurt, and she is forbidden by her parents from rejoining this crew. Yet, through happier circumstances, she rejoins her old friends, and the result is surprising.
Is this "Dirty Dancing," or is it "Gidget?"