The guest this week on the Al Franken podcast is veteran journalist Elizabeth Drew. She has long been considered one of the leading journalistic experts on impeachment from, as Franken puts it, her "heralded dissection of the Nixon and Clinton sagas." Together, she and Al discuss the pending Trump impeachment.
In 2014, Sting wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical The Last Ship. The show received two Tony nominations for Best Score and Best Orchestrations, though only ran 105 performances. Sting himself briefly appeared in a short run during the Broadway production, and then also appeared in the show after the book was rewritten and it had a run in England.
A heads-up to people who live in Los Angeles. The musical is coming to the Ahmanson Theatre in January, 2020 for a month. But that's not the heads-up. It's that Sting will be appearing in the show here, and is scheduled to be in all performances, including matinees. I certainly hope that's the case, since I just got tickets for the matinee.
After premiering in Los Angeles, the show currently plans to tour to San Francisco, Washington D.C., St. Paul and Detroit. Other cities for the tour are yet to be named. Sting is scheduled to stay with the tour and appear in all performances. No other cast has been announced yet, though I suspect that one name is all that's needed as a selling point...
To quote the producers, he story "is set in the English seaside town of Wallsend, a close-knit community where life has always revolved around the local shipyard and the hardworking men construct magnificent vessels with tremendous pride. But Gideon Fletcher dreams of a different future. He sets out to travel the world, leaving his life and his love behind. When Gideon returns home many years later, he finds the shipyard's future in grave danger and his childhood sweetheart engaged to someone else. This love triangle ignites just as the men and women of Wallsend take their future into their own hands and build a towering representation of the shared dream that defines their existence. And in the end Gideon comes to understand that he had indeed left behind more than he could have ever imagined."
You can find a link to tickets in Los Angeles here.
And here's a trailer for the show during its U.K. run.
So, there's the story of supposed "ceasefire" that Trump gloriously announced yesterday. Never mind that Trump doesn't get points for putting out a fire he started. And Turkey said it isn't a "ceasefire." And that it's only for five days until the Kurds can leave their homeland. And that Turkey accomplished its main goal and pushed out the Kurds. And Russia is moving in, which it's wanted for 40 years. And Russia-back Syria has regained its fully territory. And ISIS now is in position to reformulate itself. And that the U.S. had to bomb its own military base. That that the U.S. withdrawal means we won't be there to oversee that the "ceasefire" isn't violated. And maybe most of all that trust in the United States honoring its word has been completely undercut. Oh, and today, just one day after being gloriously announced, the supposed "ceasefire" has already been broken. But that isn't what I want to write about today.
After all, there is Trump announcing that the next G7 Summit would be held on his own private property. Never mind the insistence that he won't make any money from it because it will all be done "at cost" -- the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution says that the president cannot accept any money from foreign sources, not that he simply can't profit from receiving their money. And never mind that even if there turns out to be any profit and it's donated to charity -- no doubt he'd declare a tax write-off for that, and all the publicity and attention to his resort will be added value. And never mind that it was said that the "Trump brand" is so popular he doesn't need the P.R. -- records show the value of this one property alone lost $9 million over a three-year period. And never mind that at its foundation, regardless of what he does with the money afterwards, Trump is requiring that world leaders pay him to stay at his property for the Summit. And never mind the utter foolishness and hubris of so blatantly breaking the emoluments clause in the midst of an impeachment hearing and causing a humanitarian and national security crisis, like you want to shine a light at, "Look at how corrupt me and my administration are in case you are on the edge of thinking I should be impeached and convicted!" But that isn't what I want to write about today.
No, today, I want to write about acting-Chief of State Mick Mulvaney.
It was just an amazing performance he gave yesterday. Almost operatic in its depth of cluelessness and empty gall. Something remarkable to watch as he crashed and burned before your eyes -- made all the more remarkable because he seemed to come across like he was sure he was owning the room and all the stupid people there and watching on TV.
As I wrote elsewhere, Mick Mulvaney isn't stupid in the classic sense, but terminally arrogant. And unfortunately for him that often manifests itself in deeply stupid ways. As we saw so majestically today.
No matter how much Mick Mulvaney wants to move the goalposts from the Bidens to the 2016 election and the mythical "server" (which, again, is not "missing," it's in the DNC offices where it's always been) -- and no matter how much he wants to redefine the concept of quid pro quo, he was admitting on the record to things Trump not only has repeatedly denied, but denying things that Trump has said in public and that are also in the summary memo the White House released. That's a high hurdle to cross - especially when he himself may actually be a conspirator in it all.
To admit that this was a quid pro quo (but a perfectly fine one...) is to ignore the countless times Trump has insisted vehemently on camera that there was NO quid pro quo. And to deny what Trump has said on camera and is in the White House summary memo is the believe that no one has heard the president repeat himself or has read what was published in most every newspaper and on most every news website.
That's a wall that is so near-impossible to get over that if Trump could build something like that, it might be the kind of structure he should propose for the U.S.-Mexican border. It wouldn't only keep out Mexicans from the U.S. but also aliens from outer space.
You know Mulvaney's smarmy "Get over it!" speech was a disaster when Republicans began slamming it in horror, and then even he had to come back later and try to explain that what he said in great detail he didn't actually apparently say. The problem, of course, is that he did actually say it, and it's on video in glorious Technicolor.
And we haven't even gotten deeply into the matter of him trying to convince people that Trump's shakedown call to the Ukraine president wasn't really about Joe Biden, but rather the 2016 election and a mythical "missing server" that actually sits right where it always has in DNC headquarters. Never mind, too, that we've all heard Trump ranting about the Bidens and we've all read the White House summary memo about him talking about the Bidens. Mind you, I do understand why Mick Mulvaney and Trump want people to think the call wasn't really all that much about the Bidens, since there's no evidence they did anything wrong and Trump's conspiracy to involve Ukraine with Rudy Giuliani, his indicted henchman, and U.S. ambassadors now spilling the beans to Congress is what specifically brought about the impeachment hearings. But wanting to film-flam people into thinking that what they see and hear and know isn't so is really difficult when they see and hear and know it all. You can't move the goalposts when the Democrats in the House of Representatives are sitting on them and investigating your every move.
The only real question to come out of Mick Mulvaney's press conference is how long the acting-Chief of Staff will have his job.
And yes, again, all of that was yesterday. What kind of a day was it? A day like any other -- except, you are there.
Randy Rainbow is back with another new song. And with so much to choose from, this time around he's decided to go with Rudy Giuliani. So, with thanks to "Mamma Mia," here we go again --
I take a walk every day, my morning constitutional. And most days it's pretty basic. Low-key, a nice stroll, On occasion, some days are a bit more lively than others. Today, I turned the corner and headed to a grocery store a few blocks down.
It wasn't a good day for that car which crashed into the fire hydrant.
It also ended up worse for the neighborhood than appears in the picture. I took a detour to get past the congestion, and it turned out that there was a very long lake of water streaming down the gutters for many blocks south, hard to get past, too wide to leap over -- and even the next block over, a second, long lake. Eventually I gave up any expectation of staying dry unless I wanted to skip the shopping part of the jaunt. I tried a leap, but it was to no avail. I only got about two-thirds of the way across, even with a running start.
Happily, I've mostly dry by now. I can't say the same for the driver and his car. Also happily there doesn't appear to be any notable injury. Just a lot of water. And car repairs in the offing.
Welcome to Trumpland. What kind of a day was it? A day like any other, except -- you are there.
At a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump called her a "third-grade" politician. (Earlier press reports said that it had been "third rate." She corrected them.)
Turkey refused to meet with Vice President Pence, sent to resolve the massacre mess Trump created.
Trump said that, with "great respect," the Kurds -- in the midst of being massacred -- are "by the way, no angels." And, he added, worse than ISIS -- the prisoners they have been helping us guard. Imagine those he doesn't respect, greatly.
Trump explained that Syria has sand, a lot of sand to play with.
After Speaker Pelosi referred to Trump having a meltdown today at their meeting, Trump (like an 8-year-old) later sent out a tweet in which he used the exact same "meltdown" word about her, His action was exactly like when Hillary Clinton said Trump was a "puppet" of Russia, and he whined back, "No puppet, no puppet, you're the puppet." Like an 8-year-old.
Trump's tweet trying to claim it was her having the "meltdown," included a photo of her standing and telling him off. It was later reported that what she was saying at the time was "All roads with you lead to Putin." Again, this was tweeted by Trump himself.
The British family of the teen who was killed by a U.S. diplomat driving in London, who fled the country on diplomatic immunity, said that in their meeting with Trump yesterday he tried to "railroad" them into meeting the woman despite their saying clearly beforehand they didn't want to.
The U.S. military bombed its own base in Syria so that it wouldn't fall into the hands of the Turks.
When asked in the morning about Rudy Giuliani, Trump changed his story from seeking faux-corruption on the Bidens and now said it was actually about Giuliani trying to find corruption in the 2016 election. Needless-to-say, a) Joe Biden didn't run in 2016. And b) the only 2016 corruption was Trump and Russia, as detailed in the Mueller Report.
Trump released an bizarre, infantile letter he sent to the president of Turkey that ended, "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool! I will call you later." And no, that's wasn't a note passed between two 12-year-olds in class.
In comments today with the Italian president, Trump said that tn the the United States' 243-year history, our cultural ties with Italy go back thousands of years.
Another associate of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani was arrested today, the fourth in connection with the Ukraine scandal that has created impeachment hearings. Giuliani was paid by the man, David Correia, through his firm Fraud Guarantee. Yes, that's really its name.
When questioned about Rudy Giuliani at a press event, Trump pivoted to instead bizarrely rant yet again about the mythical "missing" server from DNC headquarters. (For the record, the server isn't even missing. It's at still right there at DNC headquarters. And the FBI not only took a full image of the data and memory from "the server," but also ALL *180 cloud servers* it was connected to. That's how computer cyber-investigations are actually handled. Which is why they didn't NEED "the server." But it's still right there, not "missing.")
The House of Representatives condemned Trump's withdrawal of troops from Syria by a vote of 354-60. This includes 129 Republicans who voted for the measure.
And Gallup released the results of a new poll that shows Americans favor impeachment and conviction by 52-36, up seven points since the last poll in June.
And all that is the last 24 hours in Trumpland. And yes, I left SO much out...
It's taken me a few days to get to this, lots of other things swirling around. But if you missed the broadcast on Sunday, here's the main story from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It's on weather, and wonderful. Not just weather in general, mind you, but how it's reported to people and major conflicts with one specific service, AccuWeather. And needless-to-say, it's very funny amid the excellent story-telling.
We haven't had one of those Comedy Against Trumpism videos for a while, so let's jump back in with one from South Africa. Here, it's their turn to explain why, if it's "America First," they should at least be second.
Yesterday, I posted the wondrous "Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made," that Air New Zealand made that parodied the Lord of the Rings. Today, I thought it would be nice to show how The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made... was actually made.
Here's the fun, behind-the-scenes look --
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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