Monday, September 25, 2023

יום הכיפורים

Tsom Kal

Today is the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. It is the most important and solemn day of the Jewish calendar: a time to amend behavior and seek forgiveness.

Every religion has just such a time; for example, Catholics and some other Christian denominations observe Lent and Muslims observe Ramadan, just to name a couple. But making amends is more than just a religious obligation; it is a reflection of something that is basically human, and taking one day, one month, or forty days is merely symbolic of something we should be doing all the time.

That’s not an attempt to inflict everyone with a guilt trip, nor is it an exhortation to never make mistakes, hurt other people, or do something thoughtless. It’s going to happen, and if we all tried at the outset to avoid it, we’d never get anything done. Atonement — at least to me — is a teachable moment. We find our limitations, our blind spots, our stupidities, and we fix them for ourselves and for those we hurt in the process.

It’s no great revelation that a lot of people have trouble with the concept of atonement. To them it’s a sign of weakness; if you admit that you make mistakes, people will take advantage of you. Sure, that happens. But it’s part of the process, too, that if someone exploits it, they have their own atonement to look after at some point. Or not. Some people are beyond that. But that’s not your problem. And if you’re secure enough in your own self and you know your limitations, you will have no trouble admitting when you’re wrong and you are strong enough to take the responsibility and the consequences of screwing up. By doing that, more than just making amends and putting things right, you actually improve the situation.

In the height of this silly world of daily accusations of sins of commission, omission, exploitation, “gotcha,” not to mention the smug self-assurance and prideful arrogance from just about everyone — including myself — that we are right and they are wrong and there is no hope for anyone who doesn’t see the world exactly the way we do, it’s important to observe the admonitions set forth in the meaning of Yom Kippur regardless of your religious affiliation or lack of it: seek forgiveness, make amends, learn, and resolve to do better with the full knowledge that it is a never-ending process.

You don’t have to be Jewish or Catholic or Quaker or Muslim or Hindi or Pastafarian to stop for a while, even if it’s only a moment, to realize that you and that which you believe in are not the center of the universe and that getting your way or winning the argument and hurting someone else in the process isn’t just something we shouldn’t do because God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster says so. We know through our human instinct that making amends for our flaws and hurts is the most human thing we do.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sunday Reading

The Democrats can win on trans rights — Pamela Shifman in The Nation.

Over the past few election cycles, many Democrats have been running scared.

Back in the 2022 midterms, the issue Democrats feared most was crime. As Republican candidates released thousands of ads focusing on violent crime, the Democratic consultant class panicked. According to them, the topic was such a lost cause that the Democrats’ only options were to pander or change the subject.

In the end, many Democrats who stood their ground on criminal justice, like John Fetterman and Brandon Johnson, went on to win their elections.

Now, just in time for critical races this year and next, Republicans have found an equally potent issue: trans kids. Campaigning in North Carolina this summer, Donald Trump explained the appeal: “I talk about transgender, everyone goes crazy. Who would have thought? Five years ago, you didn’t know what the hell it was.”

Across the country, Republican candidates have manufactured a cultural crisis that they claim threatens our children’s schools, sports, and overall safety—all while pushing their own regressive policies that actually harm children. In other words, they’re at war with our kids, in the name of our kids, to devastating political effect.

The underlying hypocrisy of the message is beside the point; it’s all part of a broader strategy. In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, the man who rode to the governor’s mansion on a similarly manufactured wave of fear about critical race theory in 2021, is at it again. Youngkin is stirring up more panic over trans kids ahead of this year’s elections in the General Assembly, when every seat is up for grabs.

If he helps secure a Republican majority, Youngkin can do more than roll back LGBTQ rights. He’ll erase Virginia’s progressive gains on everything from gun safety to abortion to climate to voting rights—and take his vision (and a possible presidential candidacy) national.

And Youngkin is not alone. Just this year, far-right politicians have introduced hundreds of bills nationwide targeting transgender youth, while extreme MAGA Republicans in the US House have added anti-trans provisions to must-pass funding bills. As trans kids move to center stage, how should Democrats respond?

Some might be tempted to cower. But I’ve got good news: Far from running for cover, the best thing for Democrats to do—both morally and politically—is to lean in, speak out, and support trans kids and their families.


In an age of political cynicism, let’s start with the most obvious and important reason: It’s the right thing to do. Scientific evidence proves over and over again that gender-affirming care is essential to trans kids. One study found a 14.4 percent decrease in suicide attempts when hormone replacement therapy was started between the ages of 14 and 17. The decrease was largest when therapy began at age 14 or 15. We’re talking about saving our kids’ lives. If those are the terms of a “culture war,” we must win.

But it is more than the right thing to do. It can also be a path to victory. There’s no reason for Democrats to be afraid and show up on defense. Sixty-four percent of Americans favor protecting trans people from discrimination, according to the Pew Research Center. A survey by Selzer & Co./Grinnell College found that a majority of Americans oppose bans on gender-affirming care for those under 18. Progressive elected officials are showing us that it is possible to go on the offense. In Minnesota, for example, Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order guaranteeing that gender-affirming care will remain available in the state.

Transgender youth, like all youth, have the best chance to thrive when they are supported and can get medically necessary care. No politician should stand in the way of that care.

We will never realize the power of our progressive majority by giving in to an agenda of fear. From abortion rights to trans rights, freedom over our bodies is fundamental to every other freedom, and American voters are fed up as they watch their fundamental rights disappear. In a fight this consequential, Democrats must not only show up but win.

Doonesbury — That’s a good reason.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

September Equinox

Here comes autumn to the Northern Hemisphere; spring to the Southern.  Here in Florida, it means… not much.  But it occurs at 2:50 a.m. EDT nevertheless.  And it does strange things to the moon’s appearance.

The September equinox is here, and it does strange things to the Moon.

Throughout the year, the moonrise happens about 50 minutes later each day, on average, around the Full Moon phase. But if you look at our moonrise times for September, you’ll notice that the day-to-day interval is much shorter around this time of the year for Northern Hemisphere locations: about 25 minutes for New York and under 10 minutes for places at higher latitudes, like Edinburgh in the UK.

This has to do with Earth’s axial tilt. At the September equinox, the North Pole is tilted away from the Moon during the First Quarter Moon phase and toward the Moon during the Third Quarter.

For Northern Hemisphere dwellers, this means the Moon goes from rising unusually late (and setting early) at the First Quarter to rising unusually early (and setting late) at the Third Quarter.

This effect is greatest around the Full Moon, the phase at the midpoint between the Third and First Quarters, making for exceptionally short intervals between moonrises. In Edinburgh, the Full Moon on September 29 will rise at 19:04 (7:04 pm)—just 7 minutes later than the previous day.

All this may seem quite inconsequential for us today—but this warping effect has informed one of the best-known traditional Full Moon names still in use today: the Harvest Moon.

So, where’s the connection?

Imagine you’re a 19th-century farmer trying to bring in the harvest before the frost sets in. In some years, it can be a race against time, so you want to be able to keep harvesting even after dark.

This is where the Moon comes in: just as the Sun sets, the second-brightest object in the sky makes its way across the horizon, illuminating your crops and making your life a whole lot easier.

That’s why the Harvest Moon was defined as the Full Moon closest to the equinox in September. All other traditional Full Moon names are related to specific months—for example, the Strawberry Moon is the Full Moon in June. The Harvest Moon, on the other hand, can happen in September or October, depending on its proximity to the equinox.

Funnily enough, just about two weeks after the Full Harvest Moon brightens up our night sky, the New Moon will darken the day sky in some parts of the world: on October 14, an annular solar eclipse will sweep across the Americas, plunging everyone and everything in its path into relative darkness.

“Oh, shine on, shine on Harvest Moon…”

Friday, September 22, 2023

Happy Friday

Florida leads in book-banning.  Via the Miami Herald comes this report from the PEN Foundation.

The freedom to read is under assault in the United States—particularly in public schools—curtailing students’ freedom to explore words, ideas, and books. In the 2022–23 school year, from July 1, 2022, to June 31, 2023, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries. These bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles, the works of over 1,480 authors, illustrators, and translators. Authors whose books are targeted are most frequently female, people of color, and/or LGBTQ+ individuals. Amid a growing climate of censorship, school book bans continue to spread through coordinated campaigns by a vocal minority of groups and individual actors and, increasingly, as a result of pressure from state legislation.

  • Book bans in public K–12 schools continue to intensify. In the 2022–23 school year, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of books banned, an increase of 33 percent from the 2021–22 school year.
  • Over 40 percent of all book bans occurred in school districts in Florida. Across 33 school districts, PEN America recorded 1,406 book ban cases in Florida, followed by 625 bans in Texas, 333 bans in Missouri, 281 bans in Utah, and 186 bans in Pennsylvania.
  • Hyperbolic and misleading rhetoric about “porn in schools” and “sexually explicit,” “harmful,” and “age inappropriate” materials led to the removal of thousands of books covering a range of topics and themes for young audiences. Overwhelmingly, book bans target books on race or racism or featuring characters of color, as well as books with LGBTQ+ characters. And this year, banned books also include books on physical abuse, health and well-being, and themes of grief and death. Notably, most instances of book bans affect young adult books, middle grade books, chapter books, or picture books—books specifically written and selected for younger audiences.
  • Punitive state laws, coupled with pressure from vocal citizens and local and national groups, have created difficult dilemmas for school districts, forcing them to either restrict access to books or risk penalties for educators and librarians. Eighty-seven percent of all book bans were recorded in school districts with a nearby chapter or local affiliate of a national advocacy group known to advocate for book censorship. Sixty-three percent of all book bans occurred in eight states with legislation that has either directly facilitated book bans or created the conditions for local groups to pressure and intimidate educators and librarians into removing books.

Over the past two and a half years, PEN America has been at the forefront of tracking an evolving movement to exert ideological control over public education across the United States. This campaign—which PEN America has dubbed the “Ed Scare”—is penetrating public libraries, higher education institutions, and public schools, using state legislation and intimidation tactics to suppress teaching and learning about certain stories, identities, and histories.

Efforts to suppress free expression are particularly pervasive in public schools, where coordinated campaigns to restrict the freedom to read, learn, and think are affecting students nationwide. PEN America has tracked the spread of explicit prohibitions to restrict teaching about topics such as race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities in K–12 and higher education—which we have dubbed “educational gag orders”—as well as legislative mandates that require intrusive forms of inspection or monitoring of teachers and librarians, which we have dubbed “educational intimidation bills.” These legislative efforts work in tandem with coordinated campaigns locally, enabling local groups and individuals to challenge curricula, movies, songs, art, plays, and thousands and thousands of books.

Public schools have long been deemed essential to American democracy. Identified by John Adams as “necessary for the preservation of rights and liberties,” public schools facilitate information sharing, knowledge building, and the ongoing unification that undergirds a pluralistic society. Public schools do this, in part, through robust library programs. School libraries play a critical role in making information and knowledge accessible to students while also fostering lifelong learning, student achievement, and literacy. Over the past two years, coordinated and ideologically driven threats, challenges, and legislation directed at public school classrooms and libraries have spurred a wave of book bans unlike any in recent memory, diminishing students’ access to books and directly impacting their constitutional rights.

Note item 2: “Over 40 percent of all book bans occurred in school districts in Florida. Across 33 school districts, PEN America recorded 1,406 book ban cases in Florida…”  Since Florida establishes school districts by county, not by city or township, that means that nearly half of the 67 counties in the state have bans in place.  This is no doubt the work of ignorant tight-asses, led by the head Fred of that particular lumber shed, Gov. Rod DeSantis and his fascist “anti-woke” campaign followed by the ironically-named “Moms for Liberty,” which has the same relationship to liberty as the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea.

Lawsuits against DeSantis’s authoritarian edicts are working their way through the courts and will be decided long after his moribund presidential campaign goes Hindenburg.  And that’s an appropriate analogy because he’s a flaming Nazi gasbag.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Trick Question

Which is worse, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) wearing a hoodie on the floor of the Senate, or Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Nutsery) giving a guy a hand job in the middle of a public theatre performance?

Well, it all depends on who you ask.  The Republicans are outraged… about the senator’s sartorial choices.

“Double standard” doesn’t adequately describe what’s going on here, since Fetterman’s sartorial choices harm no one, whereas disrupting a play with public sex acts is possibly criminal behavior. The word “hypocrisy” gets thrown around a lot by Republican critics. But that word fails to capture the situation, especially the lack of shame Republicans display when denouncing hoodies on Democrats while shrugging it off when members of their own party engage in public indecency, rape, and seditious conspiracy.


Fetterman has reacted to all the abuse with the casual wit that’s made him such a beloved figure in Pennsylvania politics. “I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they’ll make me a folk hero,” he tweeted on Tuesday. In response to Greene, he quipped, “she runs on more and more ding-a-ling pics,” a reference to how Greene tried to garner attention during a House hearing, by showing naked videos of Hunter Biden obtained off a shadily sourced laptop.

This flavor of Republican bullshit is funny, of course. But it’s also deeply dangerous. Their belief that they’re the only “real” Americans is what fueled the January 6 insurrection and is why most Republican voters are eager to vote for Trump again, despite his attempted coup. The hoodies vs. hand jobs debate only touches the surface of what is really a debate over who deserves to have a voice in American politics and who does not. As long as Republicans and their voters cling to their foul notions of what constitutes “legitimate” citizenship, they remain a dangerous threat to democracy.

Nothing really new here, but it’s just needed to be pointed out.  Again.

PS: I thought I’d heard every euphemism, but “grabbing the hog” is a new one for me.  Thanks, Senator.

In The Lying Den

Merrick Garland acquitted himself in front of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, according to Charlie Pierce.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Van Heusen) came in hot on Wednesday. Attorney General Merrick Garland was appearing before the House Judiciary Committee of which, because our politics are screwed six ways from Sunday, Jordan is the chairman. In his opening statement, delivered with all the measured tone of a hopeless speed freak, Jordan threw everything at Garland that he’s been throwing at the wall since 2017.

The chair now recognizes himself for an opening statement. The fix is in. Even with the face-saving indictment last week of Hunter Biden, everybody knows the fix is in.

So, as you can see, this was a dispassionate exercise in legislative oversight right from the jump. But, later, in the spirit of his opening diatribe, delivered in the highest of HIGH-sterics, Jordan went all Gene Kelly on his own dick, and Rep. Eric Swalwell caught him. Rep. Thomas Massie, a crackpot from Kentucky had just raved and ranted about FBI operatives in the crowd on January 6 and said that he thought Garland was in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer his blathering insanity. Jordan then recognized Swalwell and beat feet out of the room, possibly because he knew what was coming next.

My colleague said that you should be held in contempt of Congress and that is quite rich because the guy leaving the hearing room, Mr. Jordan, is about 500 days into defying his subpoena. 500 days. if we talk about contempt of Congress, let’s get real. Jim Jordan, are you serious? A witness to one of the greatest crimes ever committed, a crime on which more prosecutions have occurred than any other, refuses to help this country and we get lectured about compliance? Jim Jordan will not honor a lawful subpoena. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? There is no credibility on that side. You are serious, they are not. You are fair, they are not.

Which pretty much summed up the whole sorry farce. Garland opened things with a ringing defense of himself and the DOJ. There are those of us who thought Garland had a bottomless bag of fcks to give. This has proven to be inaccurate. It was empty when he came to Congress on Wednesday.

Our job is to pursue justice without fear or favor. Our job is not to do what is politically convenient. Our job is not to take orders from the President, from Congress, or from anyone else about who or what to criminally investigate. as the President himself has said, and I reaffirmed today, I am not the President’s lawyer. I will add that I am not the prosecutor for Congress. The Justice Department works for the American people. Our job is to follow the facts and the law, and that is what we do. All of us recognize that with this work comes public scrutiny, criticism, and legitimate oversight. These are appropriate and important given the matters and gravity of the matters before the Department. singling out individual career public servants who are just doing their jobs is dangerous, particularly at a time of increased threats to the safety of public servants and their families. We will not be intimidated.

That’s about as fiery as Garland ever is likely to get.

The rest of the hearing was Republican jackassery and Democratic responses to Republican jackassery. Garland rope-a-doped as best he could, but there were too many dopes for him to rope. Massie, to name one. This is a guy who protesteth too much on behalf of the “grandmas” who got busted for invading the Capitol. We have passed into that period in which an entire political party will now defend not only the multiply indicted former president* but also the convicted insurrectionists who supported him with a monumental act of violence. Like I said, our politics is screwed, six ways from Sunday.

Like Hillary Clinton at the Benghazi hearing, he made the inquisitors look like deranged fools.  Meanwhile the government may shut down in ten days and they’ve got their tits in an uproar over the price of art.

Lying About Crime

One of Ron DeSantis’s talking/bragging points about why he should be the next president is that he and he alone has lowered the crime rate in Florida to the point that it’s a paradise.

But of course it’s bullshit.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s top law enforcement officials were repeatedly warned by their own staff that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ claim that the state’s crime rate is at a 50-year low — a message he often uses as part of his presidential campaign — was based on incomplete data that makes the accuracy of the claim impossible to verify.

Despite those warnings, DeSantis continued to promote the numbers on the campaign trail, three former officials with Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) familiar with the matter told NBC News.

“The ethics of what we were reporting, we knew the numbers were bad,” a former FDLE employee told NBC News. “We foot-stomped it to leadership over and over again; they did not care. They did not care.”

“We were soldiers, though,” the person said, adding that the department’s bosses asked staff members to produce numbers even though the staff members had doubts about them — still, “we did it.”

That’s not to say that the crime rate here has skyrocketed.  It’s that the data is incomplete, and so the DeSantis campaign is using old numbers.  What’s more troubling is that the folks who are responsible for reporting the numbers are being forced to support him for the purposes of campaigning.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Herding Cats

Poor Kevin McCarthy.  He can’t herd his herd.

Was it worth it, Kevin? The Speakership of the House of Representatives, I mean. The long, excruciating session of the House back in January? Fifteen long, excruciating ballots, between which, you had to negotiate with people who have pinwheels in their eyes? All of it on television, as the Democrats sat back and blithely watched the auto da fe like rubberneckers at a train wreck? All of that pain and embarrassment so you could call yourself the Speaker of the House even though everybody and his Uncle Fud knew you couldn’t actually be Speaker? Is it all worth it now, when there are too many chickens and not enough roosts? Or, as Michelle Cottle put it in the New York Times on Tuesday:

The speaker is clearly fed up with being bullied by his radicals. But here’s the thing. Gaetz & Company have a point: Mr. McCarthy is out of compliance with several of his promises — or at least several they claim he made. (That’s the problem with secret back-room deals.) So if the rabble-rousers want to be taken seriously going forward, they need to stop all the chest-thumping. It’s time to step up and file the flipping motion. The extremists are easy to denounce, especially with their tendency to act out like unruly teens — or Lauren Boebert at “Beetlejuice.” But they are not to blame for the chaos consuming the House. It is Mr. McCarthy who led them to believe he would champion their policies and priorities. And it is Mr. McCarthy who elevated their influence in the conference, empowering them to wreak even greater havoc. Of course they are going to make more and more outrageous demands. That’s what they do.

Now, over the next two weeks, McCarthy actually has to be Speaker in order to make sure the government is funded for the next year. When he looks behind himself, there’s nobody there. The Democrats are sitting over in the corner, making more popcorn. To the members of his own narrow majority, McCarthy is now poison among the extremists for going back on the deals he made to become Speaker, and among the more marginally sane, he is now poison for having made those deals in the first place. And Rep. Lauren Boebert seems to be the only one capable of reaching across the aisle. From Politico:

More than a dozen Republicans, mostly [Rep. Byron] Donalds’ colleagues in the conservative Freedom Caucus, are publicly torching the spending plan he brokered. With just a four-seat majority, Speaker Kevin McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of them given that he can’t count on Democratic votes — leaving the GOP bill effectively dead. But beneath the surface, things are even worse for McCarthy this time around. The faceplant by the two negotiators he’d empowered has exposed a full-on House Republican rebellion that’s officially underway. It’s bigger than a clash between the centrist and right wings of the party. The Freedom Caucus itself is divided, with many members swatting down a plan backed by their own leader. Many of those conservatives are now openly threatening to try to oust McCarthy if he relies on Democratic votes to avoid a shutdown, but they’re also withholding their support from the only Republican plan on paper.

The headlong radicalization of American conservatism, a process born in Newt Gingrich’s rise to power in the 1990’s, was bound to immolate the primary vehicle of its political ambitions sooner or later. The logical end of being fed red meat constantly is cannibalism. And that’s the evolutionary stage of American conservatism at which McCarthy, that sap, finds himself now. And Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, one of the few truly eccentrics left in the Republican caucuse, unloaded on McCarthy from what passes for the GOP middle these days. From the New York Times:

“The Republican House is failing the American people again and pursuing a path of gamesmanship and circus,” Representative Victoria Spartz, Republican of Indiana, said in a statement. “Neither Republicans nor Democrats have the backbone to challenge the corrupt swamp that is bankrupting our children and grandchildren. It is a shame that our weak speaker cannot even commit to having a commission to discuss our looming fiscal catastrophe.”

Time was when the rebellion against a Speaker was an in-house matter. That’s how George Norris and his colleagues broke the power of “Uncle Joe” Cannon in 1910. Gingrich’s fall from grace more closely parallels McCarthy’s plight. After the Republicans found their House majority narrowed because Gingrich hung the midterms of the Lewinsky scandal, the members of his caucus rose up against him and, by January of 1999, Gingrich was out of elected politics forever. But Gingrich had entered into office in triumph, having engineered the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, the first GOP majority in that body since 1954. That gave him a couple of years of cred that McCarthy never had. And even Gingrich got played by Bill Clinton during the government shutdown in 1995, the first sign that Gingrich’s power had begun to crack. Kevin McCarthy never even had that moment. Actual power has always been a stranger to him.

Boo-effing-hoo.  But the real problem is that they have a country to run and they’re too wrapped up in their middle-school clique high-jinks to actually do their job.

The real tragedy is that they will probably keep control of the House because they know how to herd sheep.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Get The Hook

Some observations on Lauren Boebert’s performance last week in Denver from The Nation via Balloon Juice:

Boebert’s performance was noteworthy not just for her personal boorishness but also as part of a larger pattern of right-wingers vandalizing musicals. Strange as it may sound, one of the cultural symptoms of the Trump era is the hard right’s affinity for musicals—an art form they also repeatedly desecrate.

Donald Trump himself is a prime example. No president has had such an intense love for musicals. In the White House, music was key to calming down Trump during his frequent outburst of anger. As The New York Times reported in 2021, White House official Max Miller—nicknamed the “Music Man”—was tasked with playing show tunes like “Memory” from Cats to “pull [Trump] from the brink of rage.” This is truly a case of music having charms to sooth the savage breast…

The extreme right is rich in figures who can be described as failed theater kids. These are people whose sensibilities are clearly shaped by a love for the expressive power and excess emotions of musical theater. But they haven’t been able to make a name for themselves in the area of their true passion, so instead they bring their thwarted theater-kid energy to partisan agitation.

Trump’s on-again-off-again crony Steve Bannon is a quintessential failed theater kid, writing a long string of movie scripts that went nowhere. In the 1990s, with cowriter Julia Jones, he worked on a hip-hop musical titled The Thing I Am. A bizarre hybrid, this musical tried to mash together the plot of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus with the story of the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles…


James O’Keefe, founder and deposed head of Project Veritas, is yet another failed theater kid. Founded in 2010, Project Veritas specializes in creating deceptively edited entrapment videos that showed progressives allegedly saying or doing compromising things… Of course, Project Veritas itself can be seen as a form of theater—albeit ineptly produced theater with crude and melodramatic plots…

One could extend almost indefinitely the list of right-wing provocateurs who had theater-kid backgrounds to include figures like Steven Crowder and Mark Steyn (who recorded a truly dreadful album titled Feline Groovy where he croons, in a faux-Sinatra fashion, cat-themed songs against a background of pastiche soft jazz). Even Gore Vidal or Mary McCarthy would struggle to find the vocabulary to describe how terrible the results are…

Ironically, politics and theater are merging at the exact same time that actual theater—whether musical or not—is in financial crisis thanks to the lingering impact of Covid. The critic Isaac Butler warns, “The American theater is on the verge of collapse.” Butler’s solution is a massive bailout of theater along the lines of the Federal Theater Project of the New Deal era. The migration of failed theater kids into right-wing politics suggests an added side benefit to this proposal. Surely we want future Steve Bannons and James O’Keefes to be working on productions of West Side Story in Peoria rather than shaping national politics.

Since politics has fused with entertainment, we shouldn’t be surprised when would-be or failed entertainers thrive as political leaders and pundits. Frank Sinatra once sang of New York, “If I can make it there / I‘ll make it anywhere.” A modern update might be: If you can’t make it on Broadway, there’s always Washington.

Fifty years ago when I realized I wasn’t an actor, I got off the stage and hit the typewriter.  But I still knew the difference between theatre and real life.  These clowns don’t know the difference.

Go Mess In Texas

They’re coddling criminals, according to Andy Borowitz:

TEXAS (The Borowitz Report)—Thousands of hardened criminals poured into Texas over the weekend after learning how easy it is to secure an acquittal there.

Interstate freeways were reportedly backed up for miles as acquittal-seeking perpetrators sought to put down roots in soft-on-crime Texas.

Harland Dorrinson, a self-styled recidivist who has been convicted in Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin, said that he was heading to the Lone Star state because, “in Texas, no one is below the law.”

“An acquittal is yours for the asking if you’re white, male, and nefarious,” he said. “I check all the boxes.”

When told that one must also be elected as a Republican in order to qualify for Texas’s special “conviction exemption,” the career criminal was unfazed, noting that “even Greg Abbott” managed to do that.

There’s room at the Rebar Hotel in Waco.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Back To Normal

One of the signs that the world is slowly getting back to what really matters is when the news chatter is consumed with what a certain congresswoman was doing to her date while she was watching a musical performance.  You’ve got to hand it to her. [rimshot]

Meanwhile, the news that Mitt Romney is calling it quits in the Senate after one term confirms what I’ve always thought about the hedge-fund guru/governor of Massachusetts/presidential candidate/senator from Utah: the guy has the attention span of an Irish setter (not strapped to the roof of a station wagon) and can’t hold a job.  The fact that he stood up to Trump doesn’t feed the bulldog with me; all it’s going to do is sell more books, and he’s not sticking around to clean up the mess or make a difference.  Enjoy your retirement this time, Mitt.

Speaking of a study in foregone conclusions, is anyone at all surprised that the Texas senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial?  All it did was clarify that the GOP in Texas is a microcosm of the national party bent on self-immolation.

One sure sign of normality is corruption here in Miami where a city commissioner has been arrested for taking bribes, notably from a weird couple who run a charter school where the teachers can be fired for getting vaccinated against Covid-19.  That was too much even for Ron DeSantis.

Lastly, a fireball hit Jupiter.  Run for your lives.

Sunday, September 17, 2023