Friday, January 20, 2017

It's Trumpanzee Inauguration Day And God Is Crying Cold Tears


Yesterday, Alan Grayson e-mailed his supporters to ask them to support John Lewis-- which you can do here, at the Resist ActBlue page. When he was in Congress, Grayson always spoke reverentially about Lewis. In his e-mail he reminded his supporters why Lewis feels Trump is an illegitimate president and why he's boycotting his Inauguration today. "I don't see this President-Elect as a legitimate president," said Lewis on Meet The Press. "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton."

Before Lewis' interview, only a small handful of congressmembers had heeded Luis Gutierrez's call to boycott the inauguration. We may never know how many members skip it, but so far over 70 have made public statements about why they are staying away-- and most of them mentioned John Lewis and the way Trump responded to him. Back to Grayson:
The Tweeter-in-Chief responded as follows:

"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk-- no action or results. Sad!"

I don’t know what’s worse about President-Elect Trump, his thin skin or his thick skull.

Make Donald Trump even more angry-- show your support for John Lewis.

John Lewis was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, who challenged racial segregation on the buses in the South.  He also was the Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

In 1961 and 1962, Lewis was arrested. Twenty-four times.

In Anniston, Alabama, Klan members deflated the tires of a bus that Lewis and the other Freedom Riders had boarded.  Then they firebombed it.

In Birmingham, Lewis was beaten.

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, two white men punched Lewis in the face, and kicked him in the ribs.

In Montgomery, a mob met the bus, took Lewis off the bus, knocked him over the head with a wooden crate, and left him unconscious on the bus station floor.

On one day in 1965, a day known as “Bloody Sunday,” Alabama state troopers in Selma hit civil rights demonstrators with tear gas, charged into them, and beat them with clubs. They broke John Lewis’s skull.

I’ve seen the scars on his head.

Somehow, all of that . . . pain . . . forged an outstanding Congressman. A champion on universal healthcare.  A forceful proponent of gay rights and gun safety.  An apostle of peace.

Let me sum it up this way.  Whatever John Lewis has done, he has done for others. And whatever Donald Trump has done, he has done for himself-- bigly.

I’m glad that there are people like John Lewis in public life.
So are these 71 Democrats, all of whom have explicitly confirmed that they're skipping the Trump inauguration today:
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Ted Lieu (D-CA)
Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
Judy Chu (D-CA)
Mark Takano (D-CA)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Karen Bass (D-CA)
Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
Tony Cardenas (New Dem-CA)
Juan Vargas (New Dem-CA)
Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC)
Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Darren Soto (New Dem-FL)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Mike Quigley (New Dem-IL)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Pete Visclosky (D-IN)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Katherine Clark (D-MA)
Mike Capuano (D-MA)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Anthony Brown (D-MD)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
William Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Alma Adams (D-NC)
G.K. Butterfield (D-NC)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ)
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Albio Sires (D-NJ)
Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
Nydia Velazquez (D-NY)
Jose Serrano (D-NY)
Louise Slaughter (D-NY)
Grace Meng (D-NY)
Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Dwight Evans (D-PA)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Brendan Boyle (D-PA)
Bob Brady (D-PA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Al Green (D-TX)
Joaquin Castro (New Dem-TX)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
Donald McEachin (D-VA)
Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)
Gerry Connolly (New Dem-VA)
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Adam Smith (New Dem-WA)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Like Grayson, Steve Israel is no longer a member of Congress. However, unlike Grayson, I haven't seen Israel, a former Blue Dog and a lobbyist-loving corruptionist, have anything to say about John Lewis' service. His dismally failed messaging talents have been so catastrophic for the Democrats that he was just hired by the corporately owned and operated Third Way organization to bring his "his decades of experience... to help Democrats reconnect with middle class voters and offer a compelling alternative to bring Democrats out of the wilderness." Here's some Fake News from Third Way:
“Democrats are on the cusp of becoming a regional party. We are winning only in the more comfortable and elite coastal areas and losing badly virtually everywhere else. We are thrilled that Steve Israel will be joining our organization and serving as a leader in our New Blue campaign. Steve’s tremendous expertise will be an integral part of devising the economic strategy and messaging that will restore the Democratic Party nationwide,” said Jonathan Cowan, President of Third Way.

Mr. Israel said in a statement, “I am eager to join Third Way’s work on this vital task. I came to rely heavily on Third Way’s insights in my own swing district and as DCCC Chair. They are the smartest think tank in Washington when it comes to innovative policies with broad appeal. And, as I saw first-hand in evenly-matched areas around the nation, we need a vision for the Democratic Party that constructively taps into the unique convergence of anxieties gripping middle class and working families. The New Blue campaign is precisely what our party needs as we rebuild in message, mobilization, and values.”
Blue America is looking forward, not backward to the failed era of Steve Israel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Blue Dogs, the New Dems and Third Way but towards young leaders of working families like California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who is running in the special election to replace Xavier Beccera in Congress from a district that Steve Israel and his allies from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party might want to characterize as one of the "elite coastal areas" (like Old Westbury, Great Neck, Oyster Bay, Manhasset, Roslyn, Mill Neck and Woodbury-- all among the richest towns in America and all formerly represented by Israel), although the district Gomez is running in is a fast-growing and vibrant but an area that is ranked as one of the dozen poorest congressional districts in America. That's Third Way's and Steve Israel's idea of an "elite coastal" area. Oh, yeah-- Steve Israel doing messaging for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party... what could possibly go wrong?

Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Robert Reich referred to today's freakshow as "a sickening event in the history of the United States, a tragedy for America and the world, and a victory for hatefulness, racism, misogyny, and authoritarianism."
[W]e say farewell to the first African-American President-- a man of decency, integrity, and dignity-- and turn the national reigns over to a thin-skinned, vindictive, impulsive, sociopath. Trump is a conman and bully who is ignorant about democracy and disdainful of its basic institutions. He lies constantly. He has cheated his customers, investors, and contractors. His countless tweets and stream-of-consciousness statements at his rallies reveal a nasty, greedy, mendacious, bigoted human being, with a level of egotism and narcissism rare even among politicians and celebrities.

Trump fueled his campaign with the sense of dispossession and anxiety found among millions of voters-- most of them white-- many of whom voted for him because they thought he would carry their resentments and fury to the nation’s capital, and make our political economic system work for them instead of the privileged few. Some say Trump rose on racism. But racism has been with us since the founding of the nation. Trump rose on downward mobility and economic fears, which allowed him to exploit racism and as well as fears of foreigners and Mexican immigrants, Islamophobia, and the rest of his hateful arsenal.

Trump is the ultimate price our political establishment pays for doing almost nothing to improve the plight of the bottom 60 percent of Americans for over thirty years.

As David Remnick has written, the most hopeful way to look at this grievous event is that it and its consequences in coming years “will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.”

Every decent American-- regardless of political party, or wealth, or race-- must now commit herself or himself to combating Trump’s authoritarianism, calling out his lies, protecting the weak and vulnerable among us, keeping hope alive, and preserving what we can of what is best about America.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Color Will Señor Trumpanzee Be Mañana?


We love the Dublin-based European betting house Paddy Power. Even though I'm not a betting man myself, they always offer fascinating opportunities to bet on current events. In a press release today, "Deep Saffron Is The New Black-- Paddy Power Open Betting On Inauguration Specials-- Including Trump's Skin Colour," they're calling attention to the odds they're offering on several important aspects of tomorrow's biggest day for fascism since Germany expanded employment by 1- preventing Jews from working, which opened up thousands of jobs for members of the master race and 2- banning labor unions from striking.
The bookie makes lighter tones Tiger’s Eye and Deep Saffron its 6/1 favourites with Mango Tango leading the chasing pack at 7/1.

Further down in the betting is Vivid Tangelo and Cool Copper at 8/1 while Mahogany props up the betting at 18/1.

Paddy Power are also betting on what will be the first Trump-ism uttered by the tycoon during his speech.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘Make America Great Again’ is the favourite (2/1), while ‘Fake News’ (11/1), ‘Vladimir Putin’ (12/1)), and ‘Brexit’ (16/1) are also solid contenders.

There are also a host of wildcard options included in the betting, such as ‘I think, therefore I am’ (33/1), ‘I have a dream’ (40/1), ‘You’re fired!’ (50/1), and ‘Nigel Farage’ (40/1).

And Farage is also prominent in the market for which celebrities will be in attendance. The UKIP leader is a short price to be at the inauguration (2/1).

Noted supporter Kanye West (3/1), madcap wrestler Hulk Hogan (3/1) and Dennis Rodman (10/3) are also in contention-- as well as loud-mouth pal Piers Morgan (12/1).

However, the party could be short-lived-- with the bookie offering odds of 4/1 that Trump is impeached within six months of his presidency.

Féilim Mac An Iomaire, a spokesperson for Paddy Power, said: “Donald Trump’s election led to our biggest political payout in our history and we very much doubt that he’s done with upsetting the odds just yet. His inauguration will be watched all around the world and we make it 6/1 for the State’s to follow up its first ever black President with its first ever deep saffron Commander and Chief.”

Trump’s Inauguration Skin Colour

6/1         Tiger’s Eye
6/1         Deep Saffron
7/1         Mango Tango
8/1         Cinnamon
8/1         Heat Wave
8/1         Cool Copper
8/1         Vivid Tangelo
9/1         Carrot
10/1       Persimmon
10/1       Pumpkin
12/1       Burnt Orange
18/1       Mahogany

What Phrase Will Trump Use First?

2/1         Make America Great Again
7/2         Islamic Terrorism
11/2       Russia
9/1         Twitter
9/1         Nuclear Weapons
11/1       Fake News
12/1       Mexican Wall
12/1       Vladimir Putin
14/1       North Korea
16/1       Brexit
33/1       I think, therefore I am
40/1       I have a dream
40/1       Nigel Farage
50/1      You’re fired!
500/1    Golden Shower

Who Will Be In Attendance?

3/1         Kanye West
3/1         Hulk Hogan
10/3       Dennis Rodman
10/3       Mike Tyson
6/1         Jon Voight
12/1       Piers Morgan
16/1       Arnold Schwarzenegger
33/1       Meryl Streep
40/1       Kim Kardashian
50/1       Bernie Sanders
66/1       Lady Gaga
100/1     Bruce Springsteen
200/1     Bono

Golden couple specials

11/2       Trump to wear a golden tie
9/1         Melania to wear a golden dress

Presidential Betting Specials

4/1         Trump to be impeached in first six months of Presidency
14/1       To have an actual golden shower installed in the White House
16/1       To be dumped by Melania in 2017
500/1     To paint the entire White House gold

Trump’s First State Visit

EVS       Russia
4/1         Canada
4/1         Mexico
5/1         Israel
5/1         China
5/1         England
Let's hope people are still laughing about Trump by summertime. The alternative is chilling.


Can Anything Prevent The Trump Take-Over Tomorrow?


This is what Trump has done to the Lincoln Memorial (the jumbo-tron is not photoshopped)

Tomorrow, America will see the inauguration of a deranged and narcissistic fascist with shady ties to brutal Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. According to a CBS poll released Wednesday, Trump's approval rating is just 32%. In contrast, other recent presidents of both parties have had sky-high transition approval ratings. George H.W. Bush's was 82%, Bill Clinton's was 81%, Obama's was 80% and even George W. Bush's, which wasn't nearly as high (72%), was still way over double Trump's. And yet... barely over a third of the Democratic congressmembers are boycotting the horror tomorrow. And not a single senator is joining them. (At last count, there were 70-something congressmembers who have announced they're staying away from the Day of Shame events.)

The 3 top leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, co-chairs Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva and first Vice-Chairman, Mark Pocan, are staying away. Grijalva explained why he's going to be in Tucson Friday. Rather than participate in the inauguration," he explained, "I will be joining with members of my district to reaffirm and renew this democracy and the people that are part of it. My decision to skip the inauguration is not motivated by disrespect for the office of the president, or by disrespect for the government. It is an individual act of defiance at the disrespect shown to the millions of Americans by this incoming administration."
Donald Trump wants to deport millions of people who call this country home, create a national registry for Muslims and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Skipping his inauguration is a necessary step in the fight to reject his harmful policies and stand with those who will be most at risk during his presidency.

The majority of voters rejected Trump-- they deserve respect. The 20 million Americans threatened by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no replacement-- they deserve respect. And the millions of voters who did not participate in the election because they blame both parties-- they deserve respect, too.

That's why during the inauguration I will be at home in Arizona meeting with seniors, the immigrant community, health care providers, and folks that care about the environment and climate change. I will join with the people of Tucson to demand respect from the Trump administration.

Now is the time for us to come together to defend and protect the future of all Americans.

David Cicilline is a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He's decided that he should go top the Trump Inauguration and he explained why-- after hearing from lots of angry Rhode Islanders-- on his Facebook page yesterday. He points out that he "worked hard to prevent Donald Trump from becoming our 45th President. When Trump's affinity for Vladimir Putin came into focus last summer, I asked President Obama to cut off his access to classified intel. I denounced his deplorable comments on women and people with disabilities, and his attack on Latinos as the hate speech that it was. And I condemned his selection of Mike Pence, a running mate with an unambiguously anti-LGBT record. Since his election, I have refused to give a single inch to the President-elect. I led more than 160 of my colleagues demanding that he rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist. I introduced new legislation that requires him to release his tax returns so we finally know what he's hiding. And just this past weekend I condemned him for his outrageous comments about John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement and a man who I am proud to call my friend."

And yet, Cicilline is still going tomorrow. Why? This is what he says:
I understand the frustration that people are feeling over the results of this election, and I share it. Some of my colleagues have decided the most powerful way to express their opposition to the incoming administration and the policies of the new President is to boycott the inauguration. I have deep respect for their decision and recognize that this is one way to express strong opposition. Others, like me, think it's an equally powerful message to attend the inauguration to make it clear that we're in this fight from the very first minute he takes office and for the next four years.

Tens of thousands of Americans and many Rhode Islanders are taking time out of their lives to travel to Washington D.C. to protest the incoming Administration on Inauguration Day, and I will be there in solidarity and in opposition to the policies and the rhetoric of Donald Trump. And to carry on that message, on Saturday, I will join the Women's March on Washington to oppose Trump’s agenda and to commit to fight for our shared values.

Serving our state is the honor of my life. It's a responsibility that I never take lightly. And as your Representative, I promise that I will not surrender the field to Donald Trump for a single moment. He may be our 45th President, but I will be there to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear in Washington.
I take him at his word. He's a good member of Congress; better than most. The DWT strategy-- articulated by Noah: "Disdain, Derision and Zero Tolerance"-- isn't the same as Cicilline's but that doesn't mean I don't respect his decision and his service. This is a symbolic effort. I believe in it.

Alan Lowenthal, a progressive policy wonk who represents Long Beach, California had been reported by the L.A. Times to be going. He told me he never spoke with the Times about it and that he's been undecided and trying to figure out the best thing to do after Trump's deranged attacks on John Lewis. He told me this morning that "After much soul searching, and two days of listening to my constituents, I felt I could not attend the inauguration." In a message to those constituents he said that "On inauguration day, our nation invests the President-elect with executive power. We do not anoint the President with respect.  Respect must be earned. Donald Trump, in his attacks on Rep. Lewis, and minorities, and women, and the disabled, has yet done little to earn my respect. For that reason, and in solidarity with those he has attacked, I have decided not to attend the inauguration. I sincerely hope that over the next four years President Trump will work hard to earn the respect of all Americans, not just those who voted for him. The American people deserve it and the office of the President requires it."

Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the most truly disgusting and unworthy member of Congress on either side of the aisle-- if Trump was smart, he'd ban her from his inauguration-- decided to send out an e-mail implying she was resisting Trump. She asked her supporters to send her money because Friday is the inauguration. What she didn't say, of course, is that she's one of the corrupt deplorables who can barely wait to mingle with the lobbyists and fellow insiders at the inauguration. She'll be there... in all her contemptible shame and lack of dignity.

Blue America started this page when only a tiny handful of members were supporting Luis Gutierrez's call for a boycott. We've raised nearly $12,000 in 4 days for members to encourage this kind of resistance. But, in the end, what we're looking for is men and women in Congress willing to hold the line on bad policies and bad nominees. Bernie says he's going to the inauguration. So are Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken. Did you hear their questioning of Trump's horrible nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Wednesday? That's more important. The votes from Democrats on Tom Price's putrid  nomination will mean a lot more-- in every way-- than whether or not they decide to go to the Trumpanzee inauguration. But if you want to show solidarity with the members who aren't going... here's the place (just tap that thermometer):

Goal Thermometer

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Virtually Everything Out Of Trump's Mouth Is Fake News


Like I've been saying for months, we'll never really know-- not definitively-- the extent of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. It's a given-- at least for me that none of the interested parties-- not the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, not the FSB and certainly not Putin, Wasserman Schultz or Trumpanzee, has any kind of an operative relationship with Truth.

But yesterday McClathchy's Washington Bureau reported that 6 American law enforcement agencies are still trying to get to the bottom of the collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russian dictator to make sure Trump won the presidency. The FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence are all following up leads about Putin injecting money into Trump's campaign.
Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.

The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry.

On Jan. 6, the director of national intelligence released a declassified report that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an influence campaign to “undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process,” damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects and bolster Trump’s. The campaign included the hacking of top Democrats’ emails and fake news distributed by Russian sources.

The president-elect, who will be inaugurated Friday, has said he believes Russia was involved with the hacking, and he has called allegations that he or his associates were involved a “political witch hunt” and a “complete and total fabrication.”

Trump has yet to say whether FBI Director James Comey will be retained. The rest of Trump’s newly appointed intelligence and law enforcement chiefs will inherit the investigation, whose outcome could create national and international fallout.

 ...U.S. intelligence agencies not only have been unanimous in blaming Russia for the hacking of Democrats’ computers but also have concluded that the leaking and dissemination of thousands of emails of top Democrats, some of which caused headaches for the Clinton campaign, were done to help Trump win.

Trump and Republican members of Congress have said they believe Russia meddled in the U.S. election but that those actions didn’t change the outcome. However, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that she believes that Russia’s tactics did alter the election result.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has opened its own investigation into Russia’s involvement in the campaign. That panel will have subpoena power.

...The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election.

Another source of information was the former longtime British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, who was hired to gather opposition research about Trump for a Republican client and later a Democrat. Early last summer, Steele became alarmed about information he was receiving from a network of Russian sources describing a web of Trump’s business relationships with wealthy Russians and alleged political ties to the Kremlin, according to two people who know him. These sources also declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Steele’s reports also alleged that Russian consulates in New York, Washington and Miami were used to deliver “tens of thousands of dollars” to Kremlin-hired operatives using fictitious names as if they were legitimate Russian-American pensioners. That “ruse” was designed to give Russia “plausible deniability,” Steele’s reports suggested. However, Russia does not operate a consulate in Miami.

Steele, who had worked previously with the FBI and was well regarded, fed the bureau information in July and September suggesting collusion between Trump associates and Moscow in the hacking of Democratic computers, they said. Eventually, he met in Italy with an FBI official to share more information alleging that a top Trump campaign official had known about the hacking as early as last June, the sources said. About a month after the election, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona gave FBI Director Comey a copy of a 35-page compilation of Steele’s reports.
Filling the B Street Band slot at the inauguration? -photo by Al Quaglieri

Trump seems to follow Putin's line on just about everything-- from NATO and the EU to... well, Trump has said whether or not he agrees with Putin that Moscow's golden shower prostitutes are the best in the world. But the two of them-- both absolute and amoral masters of fake news-- agree that Steele's dossier is fake news. In fact, "fake news" is now one of Trumpanzee's favorite phrases and he uses it routinely in his campaign to discredit, bully and neutralize the press.

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Why So Many Celebrities? They Are the Masks that Humanize Corporations


The Coca-Cola organization without the smiling celebrity mask (source)

by Gaius Publius

On this side of the Atlantic, George Monbiot is an underappreciated writer. The piece I'm about to quote makes just two main points, but they are stunning. The subject under consideration: Why is the modern world awash in celebrities, from actors who've "done something" to people like the Kardashians, who appear to have done nothing at all but "be famous."

We've even just elected our second celebrity president, a man known more as a "brand" than as person, the first being Reagan. Why did we do that?

Why are there so many of celebrities, and what do they really do? Is it something about the media, or the 20th century nationalization of publicity, that creates these people — for example, via the earlier movie fan magazines and now television and the Internet? Or is media not the cause? Is the presence of all these celebrities in our media a result of something else, of something more hidden from us?

Monbiot thinks he has the answer to the question "why so many celebrities?" and I think he's right. His two main points:

▪ Corporations are lifeless predatory monsters. They need human faces to make them look like our friends. This is like putting a face-like mask on a robot before it asks you out to dinner ... to eat you. Celebrities act as their masks and supply those human faces.

▪ At the same time that celebrities humanize the corporations that use them, they themselves become less human, productized, marketed (by themselves and others) as things — masks or "brands" — good mainly for their utility to the corporate world that employs them.

As Monbiot puts it in his piece: "Celebrity is not harmless fun – it’s the lieutenant of exploitation." The essay is called "Imaginary Friends". Here are two excepts, each making one of the two points above.

Celebrities As Human Masks for Inhuman Products and Entities

About the first point, Monbiot writes (my emphasis):
The rise of celebrity culture did not happen by itself. It has long been cultivated by advertisers, marketers and the media. And it has a function. The more distant and impersonal corporations become, the more they rely on other people’s faces to connect them to their customers.

Corporation means body; capital means head. But corporate capital has neither head nor body. It is hard for people to attach themselves to a homogenised franchise, owned by a hedge fund whose corporate identity consists of a filing cabinet in Panama City. So the machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours. It is pointless to ask what Kim Kardashian does to earn her living; her role is to exist in our minds. By playing our virtual neighbour, she induces a click of recognition on behalf of whatever grey monolith sits behind her this week.

An obsession with celebrity does not lie quietly beside the other things we value; it takes their place. A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology reveals that an extraordinary shift appears to have taken place between 1997 and 2007. In 1997, the dominant values (as judged by an adult audience) expressed by the shows most popular among 9-11 year olds were community feeling, followed by benevolence. Fame came 15th out of the 16 values tested. By 2007, when shows like Hannah Montana prevailed, fame came first, followed by achievement, image, popularity and financial success. Community feeling had fallen to 11th; benevolence to 12th.
Which leads to two sub-points:
A paper in the International Journal of Cultural Studies found that, among the people it surveyed, those who follow celebrity gossip most closely are three times less likely than people interested in other forms of news to be involved in local organisations, and half as likely to volunteer. Virtual neighbours replace real ones.

The blander and more homogenised the product, the more distinctive the mask it needs to wear. This is why Iggy Pop is used to promote motor insurance and Benicio del Toro is used to sell Heineken. The role of such people is to suggest that there something more exciting behind the logo than office blocks and spreadsheets. They transfer their edginess to the company they represent: as soon they take the cheque that buys their identity, they become as processed and meaningless as the item they are promoting.
An American example — the nameless person cast as "the most interesting man in the world" is needed to put a face to a product few can recall by name, especially now they've retired the old, nameless "most interesting man" and hired a nameless younger replacement.

You can even apply the idea to something much less bland and far more objectionable, like the Republican Party. You need a celebrity as outlandish as Trump to market that product, to take your eyes off what's really underneath. None of the other members of their vaunted "deep bench" could have done a tenth of what Trump accomplished as an obscuring mask for the vile set of policies known as "Republicanism."

Trump was a good mask because the party's "customers" saw Trump and not the party or its goals. With any of the others as the party's virtual face, most people would see right through them to the Republicanism beneath. As masks they'd be worthless, transparent, obscuring nothing.

Celebrities Become Products

Once they become masks for others, celebrities become products themselves. While they're busy humanizing corporations, corporations are busy productizing celebrities. Monbiot:
The celebrities you see most often are the most lucrative products, extruded through a willing media by a marketing industry whose power no one seeks to check. This is why actors and models now receive such disproportionate attention, capturing much of the space once occupied by people with their own ideas. Their expertise lies in channelling other people’s visions. ...

You don’t have to read or watch many interviews to see that the principal qualities now sought in a celebrity are vapidity, vacuity and physical beauty. They can be used as a blank screen onto which anything can be projected. Those who have least to say are granted the greatest number of platforms on which to say it....

[But as] soon as celebrities forget their allotted role, the hounds of hell are let loose upon them. Lily Allen was the media’s darling when she was advertising John Lewis’s. Gary Lineker couldn’t put a foot wrong when he stuck to selling junk food to children. But when they expressed sympathy for refugees, they were torn to shreds. When you take the corporate shilling, you are supposed to stop thinking for yourself.
When celebrities take corporate money, in other words, masking and humanizing the product or operation, they become products as well, marketable only to the extent that they don't intrude an identity of their own onto the scripted (painted-on) identity the "mask" is intended to project.

Corporations As "Imaginary Friends" 

As to Monbiot's title, "Imaginary Friends" — for Monbiot the friends are the celebrities, and they are indeed imaginary. Kim Kardashian could be as imaginary as the Marlboro Man, a person who never existed, and none of us would know it. Celebrities are real to us in our minds alone, and we do imagine they are our friends.

But considering their function — to put a human face on the inhuman machinery of exploitation — it's easy to see that our actual "imaginary friends" are really the corporations themselves, whom we are taught to imagine as human, likable, even friendly, but who in fact would kill us the minute the cost-benefit analysis went their way but not ours. Is McDonald's your friend? Is WalMart?

How about Coke, the company that makes the happy fizzy drink? The Coca-Cola company is a nonhuman, profit-seeking corporation that is guilty of murder to protect its profits. Only its paid, smiling-mask faces want to "teach the world to sing."

The mask hides the psychopath beneath. And that's why we have celebrities, to keep us from noticing all that we're surrounded by.


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Can The Senate Democrats Derail Tom Price?


How do Ryan and the congressional Republicans get away with all the twisted lies and deceptions about healthcare? Watch the Jimmy Kimmel video up top-- and remember, that's in Los Angeles! People are morons? I'm afraid so. Otherwise Friday would be a day we'd either be pissed off that another corporate Democrat was being inaugurated or we'd be rejoicing that Debbie Wasserman Schultz failed and we'd be inaugurating the first president dedicated to working families since FDR.

Did you watch the Price Senate hearings yesterday? How foolish and wasteful! Price said, with a straight face that he doesn't want to replace a "Democrat healthcare system with a Republican system. Instead he says he wants to replace "Democrat healthcare with American healthcare." No one called him an asshole, But, as Greg Sargent pointed out in his Washington Post column yesterday, Trump is already backtracking on his pledge that "everybody" will be covered. Sargent, unlike most mainstream journalists, called all the gobbledygook and misdirection what it is: a scam. "In recent days," he wrote, "Donald Trump and his advisers have gone to tremendous, extraordinary, terrific lengths to obscure a basic aspect of the replacement for the Affordable Care Act that he and congressional Republicans are likely to embrace after repeal: It will cover far fewer people."
Trump and his advisers have been saying that no one who currently has coverage under Obamacare will lose it under the GOP replacement. Trump himself recently said that under his replacement, “everybody” will have insurance, adding that “there was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” Top transition adviser Kellyanne Conway recently made similarly nice-sounding noises.

But today, Trump seemed to backtrack on this promise in interviews with Fox News and Axios. While he reiterated that people without money will get coverage, he clarified that he’s considering a mechanism to do this: Medicaid block grants. “We’ll probably have block grants of Medicaid back into the states,” Trump told Fox.

Progressives tend to oppose Medicaid block grants because they are all but certain to get cut, and because states would restrict eligibility requirements. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently put it, they “would likely eliminate the guarantee that everyone who’s eligible and applies for its benefits would receive them.”

Thus, this idea-- which seems likely to be at the center of the Trump/GOP replacement plan-- would dilute the guarantee of coverage that Obamacare is striving to make universal. The ACA does this through a combination of expanded Medicaid for everyone who is eligible (in states that participate) and subsidies that are doled out according to means to cap the percentage of income that other people pay for coverage. The GOP replacement would come up with a new subsidy scheme, perhaps tied to age but not income, but there’s no indication yet that it would accomplish that cap. That, combined with the likely Medicaid cuts, would add up to a scrapped guarantee.

Thus, the question of what the Trump/GOP replacement will actually look like turns on the question of what really counts as everybody having insurance. If the Republican plan does not strive for this type of guarantee but does try to make insurance more affordable, Republicans might still say this constitutes giving people access to insurance (if they’re willing to pay for it).

Today, Democrats have a chance to pin down Price on this. Harold Pollack, a health policy expert at the University of Chicago, suggests questions designed to clarify not just whether Trump envisions a replacement that covers “everybody,” but what this actually means:
“Should every American who has an income below the federal poverty line be guaranteed access to Medicaid? Should every other American be entitled to health insurance with out-of-pocket and premium costs limited to an affordable, capped fraction of their income?”
Then there’s also the question of what constitutes acceptable coverage. The ACA has basic regulatory standards that Republicans are going to want to repeal. That, too, is an area on which Price should be questioned.

“The real question is what counts as insurance,” Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who has written extensively on health reform, says. “Does Price support a replacement that would allow insurers to exclude mental-health services? Preventive services? What about annual or lifetime coverage limits? Or $10,000 deductibles?”

Now, for various reasons, Republicans just don’t believe health reform should guarantee coverage in the manner that the ACA does. And that’s fine-- that’s their philosophical view. But the point is that Trump and his advisers are trying to obscure this. Trump does not want to be the guy who kicked millions off insurance. But it appears congressional Republicans philosophically cannot support anything that does not do this.  This basic problem cannot be spun away forever. An actual comparison between the ACA and the GOP replacement cannot be dodged in perpetuity. Hopefully, today will begin to supply some clarity.
PolitiFact found that Schumer was being truthful when he said that "Trump campaigned on not cutting Medicare and Social Security, but his nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, 'made his career on cutting Medicare and Medicaid.'" Price, wrote PolitiFact's Linda Qiu, "has introduced a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare every legislative session since 2009. Price’s Empowering Patients First Act instead provides tax credits to help pay for private insurance plans and expands health savings accounts. The Price plan also allows for people to opt out of Medicare and Medicaid (and other government-run health programs) and choose the tax credits to purchase private plans instead. It folds in his previous advocacy of private contracting between Medicare beneficiaries and doctors. Beyond his own proposals, Price supported Paul Ryan’s 2011 budget plan, which would have eventually moved Medicare toward private insurance by giving people under 55 voucher-like tax credits to purchase plans. This is also called premium support. When he became chairman of the House budget committee, Price was the primary author of a budget for fiscal year 2016  that included $900 billion in spending reductions to Medicaid (through block granting) and $148 billion to Medicare (by leaving the Obama administration’s cost-saving measures intact), according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Price’s budget for fiscal year 2017 similarly sought: $1 trillion from Medicaid and $449 billion from Medicare. After Trump’s election, Price expressed optimism that lawmakers could overhaul Medicare in 2017."
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonpartisan health care advocacy group, typically doesn’t weigh in on cabinet appointments but opposes Price’s nomination precisely because of his position on Medicare, said David Lipschutz, the group’s senior policy attorney.

"The policies he has advocated would significantly cut and alter Medicare," Lipschutz told us, listing Price’s support for a premium support model, opposition to allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and advocating for private contracting between Medicare beneficiaries with physicians with Medicare footing the bill.

Gail Wilensky, the former director at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under President George H.W. Bush, called Price’s comment on Medicare as government intrusion a "gross exaggeration."

But Wilensky preferred to characterize Price as a supporter of Medicare reform. She added that like Price, she supports premium support as a model for Medicare reform, as do prominent Democrats Alice Rivlin, a health care policy expert who served under President Bill Clinton, and Bob Reischauer, a fellow at the left-leaning Urban Institute.

Our ruling

Schumer said, "Donald Trump said when he campaigned he wouldn't cut Medicare and Social Security" but his nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services "made his career on cutting Medicare and Medicaid."

Price, Trump’s HHS pick, has supported reducing the government’s role in Medicare and block granting Medicaid, which would amount to spending reductions to both programs. While it’s clear these proposals would reduce federal spending on the health safety nets, experts say it’s not the same thing as gutting the programs entirely.

Trump did pledge to leave Medicare and Social Security alone, and Price’s positions seem at odds with that. (It’s worth noting that Social Security isn’t administered by HHS).

We rate Schumer’s claim Mostly True.
Just as he started his confirmation hearing, the National Nurses United urged the Senate to reject Price as head of Health and Human Services. NNU Co-President Jean Ross, a registered nurse, pointed out that Price has also taken public positions that directly conflict with pledges made by Trump. She said that Price is against Trump's stated goals that include "a system that would assure healthcare coverage for everyone, lower healthcare premiums, deductibles and co-pays, high quality, a process to negotiate the high costs of prescription drugs, and has repeatedly opposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid."
"There is only one plan that would achieve all of those goals, improving and expanding Medicare to cover all Americans," said Ross. "Medicare for all would mean universal, guaranteed access to care for all, guaranteed patient choice of provider, lower costs to families, strengthening Medicare through an expanded pool of healthier people, and the ability of the federal government to negotiate and demand fairer prices from the drug companies," Ross noted.

"That’s the health care plan President-elect Trump should support, and we should have an HHS Secretary who will protect the health and safety of Americans, not shred it," Ross said.

By contrast, Price supports the push by House Speaker Paul Ryan to privatize Medicare, a major cut in access and cost for seniors and the disabled and favors cuts to Medicaid by repealing the ACA expansion and replacing it with reduced block grants to states to make further cuts.

Price wants to repeal curbs on insurance abuses set by the ACA, notably the ban on pre-existing conditions exclusion, lifetime and annual payment limits.

The proposals by Price to replace subsidies for low income families to buy coverage with tax credits or health savings accounts, without any limits on industry price gouging, "would lead to additional disaster for millions of Americans already priced out of access to care, even if they have insurance," said Ross. "The last thing we need is a full return to a cutthroat healthcare system totally based on ability to pay."

..."As nurses know from the patients we care for every day, without health, there is no security. We cannot risk the very real consequences of Rep. Price’s reckless disregard for the health of our patients and our nation."

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Voter Registration, The Democrats' Sleeping Giant


-by Alice Marshall

In 1980 The AFL-CIO's Committee On Political Education hired me to run a voter education project in Virginia's 4th Congressional District. I made my headquarters in Franklin, Virginia, a paper mill town 40 miles west of Norfolk Virginia. My job was to contact union members who were not registered to vote and persuade them to register as well as contact members who were registered to vote and persuade them to vote for the candidates the union had endorsed.

I was given two computer print-outs of union members, one of union members who were registered to vote and a second, and far larger list, of members who were not registered to vote. Again, my job was to persuade unregistered members to register to vote, and persuade both groups to vote for the union endorsed candidates. So I went about contacting members at the factory gate, by phone, and by mail. In Franklin I went to each shift change at the paper mill, 6 AM, 3 PM, and 11 PM, and distributed fliers urging workers to register and giving the times and places that they could register. I made sure that everyone knew that the registrar kept evening hours on Wednesday evenings. In those days there was no mail-in registration, that was put in by Bill Clinton. So if you could not get to the registrar during regular office hours, there was only one evening you could go to register. Wednesday is prayer night in the South, every church, black and white, has their prayer meetings, choir rehearsal, bible study, and so on, on Wednesday evenings. So by offering extended hours only on Wednesday evenings, the local establishment could effectively disenfranchise workers. Unless, of course, someone like me came to town and asked every worker to register to vote.

The local registrar told me that 1980 had seen the largest increase of voters of any election in her career. In 1976 Franklin had gone for Gerald Ford. In 1980 Franklin voted for Jimmy Carter. I suspect that it was one of the only jurisdictions in the country that flipped from Republican to Democratic in 1980. That experience taught me the power of voter registration. I don't think we could have saved the country from Reagan merely by voter registration. But there is no doubt that Democrats have lost many elections by failing to incorporate voter registration into their campaign strategy.

I am told that it isn't worth the effort to mobilize marginal voters, that it is too expensive. But Republicans don't think so. Republicans spend millions of dollars on voter suppression. For some reason Democrats have never drawn the obvious conclusion, that they can win elections by pushing back against voter suppression. Somehow Democrats think they can win elections even when much of their base stays home.

When I became Chair of the Voter Registration for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, I knew that I could dramatically increase the Democratic vote merely by targeted voter registration efforts. By 1998 Bill Clinton had changed the law so that every state had mail-in voter registration. This meant that it was no longer necessary to create satellite registration sites, it was no longer necessary to persuade voters to go to the registrar's office. Now all you had to do is to get boxes of voter registration applications from the registrar's office, print up a flier asking people to register to vote, and distribute them. And so, this is precisely what I set about to do. Carefully examining precinct returns to identify those areas with Democratic vote of 60% or better, I identified low rent garden apartments all over Fairfax County for my campaign.

At first I went out by myself; no one on the committee understood what I was doing. But after I was able to report that indeed, voter registration applications were trickling into the registrar's office, committee members began to volunteer. After a few months I had a regular group who could be depended upon to go out, even in the hottest weather, and distribute fliers and forms in every low rent garden apartment complex in the county.

It was difficult to persevere. I remember a very hot Saturday in July distributing forms in the Vista Gardens apartment complex. My volunteers distributed forms to each of the 1200 apartments. Of these, only 11 were mailed in, a return of less than 1%. Furthermore there is an excellent chance that 3 of these new voters were Republicans. Virginia does not register by party, so this is only a guess. But if the guess is correct we registered a net gain of 5 Democratic votes. However, when you consider that Jack Kennedy won the 1960 election by an average of less than one vote per precinct, you realize that 5 new voters per precinct is a significant gain. Moreover, there were several large apartment complexes in that precinct and we worked all of them. And yes, each weekend saw a return of less than 1%. But altogether we added something like 60 new voters in that precinct that year, and almost certainly at least 50 of them Democrats, for a net gain of 40 votes. 40 additional Democratic votes in a single precinct is a major gain. Furthermore, all the voter registration activity in that precinct had the effect of mobilizing those people who were already registered to vote. The Democratic vote in that precinct increased by an additional 10 points, one of our best gains. Only some precincts offer the opportunity for this sort of gain. But it breaks my heart that local Democratic committees are walking away from these opportunities.

In his great documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Greg Palast observes that before they take away your job, your pension, your house, first they must take away your vote. If progressives are to protect jobs, collective bargaining, pensions, and the rest, first progressives must defend voting rights. If you are not doing voter registration and voter protection, can you really say you are a progressive?

The cumulative impact of my voter registration work in Fairfax over successive years helped shift the entire county. In 1999 Democrats won a State Senate race, school board race, and Board of Supervisor's race based on the increase of the Democratic margin in Democratic precincts. There can be no doubt that we could shift the whole country with such efforts.

This post is addressed to members of local party committees, precinct captains. Candidates and campaign managers will not understand this. Candidates and campaign managers are interested in winning their election. They are focused only on the campaign season at hand. They are not interested in cultivating the Democratic vote in a single precinct over time.

Most of the Democratic politicians in Fairfax County did not understand or support my work. Gerry Connolly was one of the few who understood my work and supported it. I know that he is not popular with progressives. But there are reasons that he remains popular with Democratic activists in his district.

If you live in Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky, or any state which has elections this year, I encourage you to start planning a voter registration effort now. People will tell you that you will not get a good return in an off-year election. Yet  it is precisely in low turnout years that voter registration can play a crucial role in victory. It is true that you will not get anything like the response you would get in a presidential year. But in a low turnout election, 40 additional votes in a Democratic precinct is the difference between winning and losing. For more information about voter registration, voter protection, and pushing back against voter suppression read my book: The Precinct Captain's Guide To Political Victory.

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You Think It Was All Putin? Meet Robert Mercer-- The Billionaire Behind Trump's Ratty Curtain


Strange and elusive Long Island hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer was the "thread between a seemingly random cast of actors" who turned Trump's foundering campaign around-- Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, David Bossie and Cambridge Analytica. Mercer and his equally contemptible daughter, Rebekah, had been eyeing Señor Trumpanzee ever since their first choice, right-wing fanatic Ted Cruz, dropped out of the primaries. Cruz and Trump don't have much in common but the Mercer's felt they could easily mold Trump into what they wanted by surrounding him with their own people and taking over the campaign. Mercer invested $15.5 million in Trump's campaign, making him Trumpanzee's single largest donor.
In 2015, Mercer had single-handedly catapulted Cruz to the front of the Republican field, throwing more than $13 million into a SuperPAC he created for the now failed candidate. But with the Trump campaign faltering and struggling for support, there's a second chance for the Mercers to make a big bet. The Trump campaign is well aware of this. In fact sources within Mercer's SuperPAC would later tell Bloomberg News that shortly after Cruz drops out of the race, Ivanka Trump and her wealthy developer husband, Jared Kushner, approached the Mercers asking if they'd be willing to shift their support behind Trump. The answer is an eventual but resounding yes.

In the months leading up to Trump's presidential win, the Mercers would prove a formidable force, Beginning after the disastrous Republican convention in July, they would furnish the Trump campaign with millions of dollars and new leadership. They would also furnish it with something more: a vast network of non-profits, strategists, media companies, research institutes, and SuperPACs that they themselves funded and largely controlled.

...The Mercers' political infrastructure is so entrenched that Rebekah Mercer herself sits on the 16-person executive committee of Trump's transition team. Mercer's foray into the White House may seem to have been born partly out of luck especially with Trump instead of Cruz as his stalking horse, but his rise to power was systematic and it was years in the making. The web of connections Mercer's built over the last decade is vast and complex. It includes efforts to dismantle tax law and weaken the IRS. It's about funding quack scientists and conspiracy theorists who blame the government for, among other things, for playing role in the San Bernardino massacre. Or of colluding with the United Nations and using Climate Change as an excuse to implement environmental laws meant to depopulate America's Midwest.

...Casino capitalism-- [with a healthy dose of tax fraud, to the tune of billions of dollars]-- has given people like Robert and Rebekah Mercer riches and power beyond most peoples' imagination. But the role of activist billionaires in American politics isn't new; it's just become stronger as wealth is concentrated in fewer hands. With the top 1% of Americans today holding onto 40% of the country's wealth and with much of that increase taking place in the finance and energy sectors of the economy, the rise of people like Robert Mercer and the Koch brothers reflects how billionaires have gradually taken more direct control over politicians and the state.

...In the end, there are no workers or little guys on the Trump team, only the allies of rainmakers Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaires whose political hedge pushed Donald Trump into the White House.


Is it really necessary to label "The Borowitz Report" as "satire"?


What's wrong with this picture?

by Ken

Let me confess that I'm the one who appended the January 15 "Borowitz Report" as an update to Part 11 of Noah's herculean 2016 In Review America Off The Rails series: "Comrade Trump: Inauguration Entertainment Update!."

It seemed an obvious call. No sooner had we put up Noah's update to his earlier post on the extraordinary difficulty the Trumpinistas have been having getting entertainers to perform at their guy's inauguration (Part 3, "The Trumpf Inauguration Committee Finds The Perfect Inauguration Entertainment At Last!"), and also getting the folks who had signed on to keep from weaseling out, than here comes Andy B with this wicked post:

Luckily, I can report that after the fact Noah found the addition of that Borowitz Report altogether appropriate. So that's not why I bring it up. I bring it up because what you see immediately above is not the way I originally presented it. No, the way I originally presented it is the way presented it, which was more like what you see atop this post. (For reasons I'll explain in a moment, it's not exactly what you see atop this post, which is merely a re-creation.)

Sometime after posting, I found myself looking at this again, and I found myself bothered again. No, "bothered" doesn't cover it. I was shocked and appalled, just as I had been when I'd first looked at this and noted that was now labeling The Borowitz Report as "SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT."

Really? Is it honestly necessary to explain that what Andy B produces is "satire"?

For that matter, does "satire" really define what it is? I'd never really thought about it. I guess have to acknowledge that satire sort of describes what a Borowitz Report is, but somehow putting a label on it seems to constrict it, to close it off. In truth, it seems to me that when you see something like that head, "Karaoke Machine Backs Out of Performing at Inauguration," you immediately know two things:

(1) Chances are pretty good that it's not literally true, because it seems pretty unlikely that a karaoke machine would be able to back out of performing at the inauguration.

(2) You just have to read it, because, well, it's bound to be fun and it expresses a larger truth.

I guess this is what satire does, being fun and expressing a larger-than-factual truth. Yet somehow slapping the label on seems to me to short-circuit the whole process of discovering, deciphering, and connecting. And, oh yes, smiling. Somehow when we start with that "SATIRE FROM" label, the necessity of smiling seems to diminish -- a chunk of the fun is taken out.

I might add that I don't know how long has been doing this -- you know, slapping that "SATIRE FROM" label on Borowitz Reports. I don't know because, as I've been realizing, I have been clicking through to a lot of Borowitz Reports lately -- since, oh, about November 3. Not because I don't think they'll be funny. On the contrary, what Andy B does maybe better than anybody I'm aware of is to find "funny" in news that wouldn't seem to have a lot of "funny" in it -- and not only funny but true.

True-to-reality, that is, not true-to-facts. Because Andy B always understands and respects the underlying seriousness of the subjects he targets. No, I think I've been looking away out of resistance to the very idea of finding anything about this post-November 3 world amusing. It's too horrifying.

Until that karaoke-machine-having-second-thoughts came along. I knew I could handle that, and I also knew that I wanted to read it right away. And I was right. Not even that heavy-handed "SATIRE FROM" label could spoil it. But not for want of trying.


As I just noted, once I found myself looking again at the version atop this post, the longer I looked at it, the fidgetier it made me. Until finally I had to do something. I recalled that I had considered originally lopping off that "SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT" label. But I held back, I think out of some sense that it would be somehow misrepresenting the way the piece had been presented, which was pretty much the point of my presenting it with use of the screen shot. Now, looking at the thing more and more compulsively, and realizing that even without that slug, the piece would still be clearly presented as a Borowitz Report, I came around to the view that I should have lopped it off.

And finally, even though it was a post that already wasn't new, and might never be looked at again (though I always hope!), I had to do it. I reopened the thing in Photoshop Elements and lopped the slug off, then inserted the new version in the post. As soon as I verified that it looked OK, I deleted the original version, and I felt better. Of course, once the original version was deleted, it was gone, which is why, as noted above, I had to re-create it in order to present it for this post.

And I still feel better. My only regret is that I didn't have the sense to do it originally.

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