The Mystery Guest on this episode of What's My Line? is Mitch Miller. For some people today, that won't mean much. But there was a time when this music executive (who -- for all his pop fame -- was also actually a highly-accomplished classical oboist) was widely popular for his Sing Along with Mitch TV show and albums. To the degree that the show was almost "appointment television" on Thursday nights.) So, that explains the huge reaction he gets when he signs in. And there’s a nice conversation reminiscing about having worked with several of the panelists and host.
By the way, a few performers from Sing Along with Mitch went on to great success later on. The two most prominent probably are Bob McGrath, who for decades was 'Bob' on Sesame Street and Tony Award-winner -- and Emmy-winner -- Leslie Uggams.
His segment starts at the 16:00 mark.
On May 12, Elon Musk said that Linda Yaccarino would take his place as CEO of Twitter. From her background, it didn’t seem to many that this change would be all that substantial, to which the reality remained that Musk still owned the company and would remain chief technology officer.
It turned out that only a few hours after making that announcement – and in fairness, he was likely still the CEO – Twitter announced that it is “taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey,” though the blocked content would still be available in the rest of the world.
It’s worth noting that this announcement came in the midst of a very tight election in Turkey that required a run-off only two weeks later on May 28 between the country’s fascist dictator Recep Tyyip Erdogan and opposition leader Kemal Killicdaroglu.
Given that the Turkish government controls much of the country’s media, it seems likely that Turkey made this request, most likely in the form of a threat. And it seems probable that they did this, not only because Erdogan is a fascist dictator, but because Turkey saw that India had made a similar threat to Twitter before its election, and Twitter gave in to them.
This stands out all the more since Musk is such a supposed vocal “free speech” advocate on all things, including allowing misinformation about COVID and letting hate speech proliferate on the social media platform. Although he did suspend an individual who posted public information about the location of Musk’s private jet, and suspended several journalists who merely wrote stories about it. And he’s fired Tesla employees for posting negative material Tesla that Musk didn’t like. So, his track record on “free speech” all the time seems a bit sketchy at best.
When the story about blocking tweets in Turkey broke, liberal journalist Matt Yglesias the next day “the Turkish government asked Twitter to censor its opponents right before an election and @elonmusk complied.”
Musk tweeted a reply: “Did your brain fall out of your head, Yglesias? The choice is have Twitter throttled in its entirety or limit access to some tweets. Which one do you want?”
Yes, that was the choice. And Musk chose to enable a fascist dictator so he could silence his opposition and help him retain power. As opposed to choosing free speech. Which Musk proclaim to supposedly support in absolute. It was his choice. And he chose fascism. So be it – but he should no longer pretend to support free speech in absolute.
The additional problem is that when you cave to a fascist dictator, then other such authoritarians see that they can’t make the same demands and help themselves hold onto power. And if you refuse the threat, the dictator has to make the decision whether to follow through and risk the outrage in his country at losing access to the world’s most popular social media platform and possible uprising against his power – or decide to back down.
None of this really comes as a huge shock if one pays even the slightest attention to Musk’s action, including him recommending that everyone vote a straight Republican ticket in the Mid-terms -- a perfectly acceptable personal opinion, though a deeply weird and troubling one for the owner of a social media platform who had been attacking the company before he bought it for what he claimed were its political biases – in that case, supposedly for liberals.
Coming on the heels of Musk’s anti-Semitic comments about George Soros wanting to “erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity” it’s been a horrible few weeks for Elon Musk. But then, in fairness, it’s been a horrible year for Musk. Though in fairness, he’s brought it all on himself.
Ever since Musk bought Twitter, users have left the platform in droves -- and worse, so have advertisers. At the moment, there is value in me staying there, to promote this site. And also to respond to far-right misinformation, especially in an election year coming up. (Besides which, while I know there are advertisers, I've never seen a paid corporate ad on Twitter the way I use it. So, they're not getting a bang from their buck from me...) But I'm nearing to the point where the line is crossed. It's worth my time, but I'm giving less of it. Ignoring as much of the increase in smarminess and hate as I can, and being far-quicker to block it.
Of course Elon Musk doesn't care. He said as much just the other day, not caring what other people think about what he says and does. Which when you come down to it seems an incredibly poor way for the owner of a social media platform to operate.
And which might explain why people and advertisers have left it in droves. And does explain why he's brought this on himself.
I've posted this before, but it's been a long time and it's such fun that it's worth bringing back.
As I've noted here often, I've long-become a fan of The Graham Norton Show on BBC America, a weekly "chat show" that puts its own unique spin on the format. In fairness, it's just once a week, so that gives them more leeway to book topnotch guests and do deep research that comes in handy, but regardless of that I give a lot of credit to host Norton who just has a smart, if otherworldy take on it all. It might not be to everyone's taste, but more often that not I find it quite a treat.
(I have the sense that James Corden and his producers patterned some of their show after Norton's, most particularly bringing out all the guests at the same time. I find it works better on the British show, since -- being weekly -- they're able to get a more interesting mix of people each time, as well as having more guests on the softa and so a more conversational mix...but also Norton, having done this for so long, is thoroughly adept at directing things.)
The show airs at different times -- it tends to shift a bit, usually in the 10 or 11 o'clock range -- but lately, when not on hiatus, as it is at the moment, it's been in the 11:00 PM, Los Angeles time.
Back eight years ago, two of the guests were Mark Wahlberg and Seth Macfarlane, promoting Ted 2. If you saw the original Ted, you no doubt recall the famous scene where Wahlberg whips off 57 "white trash girls' name." For the sequel, Macfarlane wrote a scene where Wahlberg has to zip through the names of 57 movie characters. And then, the scene got cut.
When Norton asks if they had cue cards, Macfarlane explains that they did, but that Wahlberg actually learned it all. And MacFarlane adds that it bewildered him, because "I could never do that. It's just random names with no context." Wahlberg said that he just drilled himself with it over and that "I still wake up in the morning saying this shit". And when Norton asks, almost incredulously, if he actually still remembers it, the actors says he does -- and promptly reals it off.
So, here's his re-creation of what was cut from the movie. If you thought that first scene in the original Ted was done with edits or trickery or cue cards, here's the remarkable proof that it wasn't.
There's an iconic scene in the movie Major League, where Charlie Sheen's wild relief pitcher character throws a ball so far away from home plate that it almost flies into the stands, and radio announcer Bob Uecker famously says in a classic of understatement, "Juuuuust a bit outside."
That's how I felt about my newspaper delivery on Sunday.
Actually, I ended up calling the Los Angeles Times customer service to say that I didn't get a paper at all. I opened the front door of my third-floor condo, and no paper. Not on the door mat, not in the short, 10-foot hallway out front, not dropped around the corner at the elevator, and not left anywhere downstairs, either in the lobby or outside the building. No paper. So, I called.
Then yesterday, as I left my home to run an errand, I went to the end of that short hallway outside, stopped a moment to look back and make sure I'd locked the door -- and made a discovery.
Okay, first, this is the front of my place.
And this is what I saw when I stopped at the end of the path and happened to look back without a post blocking my view --
First of all, why the delivery guy threw the paper, rather than walk the eight feet he usually does (or just walk four feet and drop the paper near his feet) is beyond me.
But second, given that he did toss the paper -- how in the world do you miss by THAT MUCH???!! Though I must admit, getting it to land on the edge is a pretty nifty trick.
Being three floors up, I wasn't about hop over the railing and walk out on the ledge, but happily it was within reach of stretching over and being knocked down to the courtyard with a broom.
And that's, literally, the news...
On Monday – it being Memorial Day, of course, the day we honor those who gave their lives defending democracy – Ron DeSantis was a guest on Fox & Friends. He was asked about running for the Republican nomination and having to defeat Trump who Republicans have already voted for twice. As part of his answer, he said –
"Because everyone knows if I'm the nominee, I will beat Biden, and I will serve two terms and I will be able to, uh, destroy leftism in this country and leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history."
Happy Memorial Day. Happy “Meet Today’s Republican Party” Day.
And even more, meet yet another reason why Ron DeSantis is not likely to be elected president, even if he gets the GOP nomination which is an uphill climb at the moment being 31 points down to someone convicted of sexual abuse, indicted and the party leader.
Most candidates who go “scorched earth extreme” during their party’s primary to win the nomination then do their best to move to the middle and contend that, no, I really didn’t mean what you’re attributing to me, and I’ve also evolved. The huge problem for DeSantis is that he can’t do that – his positions aren’t mere “opinions” that he can slide away from without notice. They’re laws. It’s just really incredibly hard to say your earlier statements are being misinterpreted when you’ve turned them into laws – and have sued your opponents.
So, when you say something like you will be able to “destroy leftism” and “leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history,” it’s hard to evolve from that when it fits like a glove into all the bills you’ve passed. And defines your position that you’ve been trying to promote to your fascist, intolerant base. Indeed, not only does it define your position to your base, but the very last thing your base wants to hear from you at this point is that you have evolved from that and no longer believe these things. The very reason DeSantis has the (limited) support he does in the country is because of the certainty from his supporters that he believes this garbage with his heart and soul.
Further, the problem for him is that the people who don’t want to hear this is most everyone else. And that includes most of independents. Because, being independents, they don’t hate the left and right. They just aren’t sure which side they support on any particular issue. They might end up voting left, they might in the end vote right – so, they certainly don’t want either to be “destroyed.” Nor, it follows, do they hate things that are “woke” (nor know exactly, like most people, including those who use the word, what “woke” precisely is) and don’t want to see it put in the dustbin of history. And without independents, no presidential candidate can with the election.
This also points to one of the huge differences between Democrats and today’s Republican Party.
Democrats won’t to defeat Republicans with every fiber of their being, defeat them so badly at the ballot box that most Republicans who are not on the extreme right will see that this is a horrible political path to be on, since the public has spoken loudly and rejected the extreme fascism of the party. That’s part of the message of the 2022 Midterms, when the GOP ran extreme-right candidates, and they did so badly that Republicans lost the Senate, and barely held on to the House by seats when they were expected a majority of 40-60 members. And lost more state houses than they expected to. But this can only be accomplished by winning huge on Election Day. Democrats have learned that they are not going to change entrenched ideology. But what they can change is the perception among Republicans that extreme-right fascism is the way to win elections.
On the other hand, the philosophy as expressed by Ron DeSantis, that echoes much of today’s Republican base, is to “destroy leftism in this country and leave woke ideology in the dustbin of history."
That’s extremism. And is a near-perfect example of why so many describe today’s GOP as fascism, as much as Republicans hate being called fascists. (Side note: my response is always that if you don’t like being called “fascist” don’t act like fascists.)
There are three core tenets of fascism: wanting to obliterate other sources of power, xenophobic hatred of others who are different, and the use of violence. DeSantis, in one simple sentence, encompasses all three.
The biggest power source opposing Republicans is Democrats, and DeSantis doesn’t just want to beat them at the ballot box, the core of democracy, he wants to destroy leftism.
And the biggest concern about the indeterminate concept of “woke” is that, whatever it is, it is something that wants to help others who are different, in need, foreign. Minorities, immigrants, gay, poor, transgender children who require healthcare. DeSantis wants to leave the ideology to help these people in the dustbin.
And DeSantis doesn’t just want his beliefs to be favored by most people, or get more votes at elections, no, he wants destruction, he wants to destroy leftism, which is about as violent as you can get.
This is all who Ron DeSantis is. In his own words. His own laws. His own lawsuits.
And it’s who the Republican today is. In most everything they do, support and enable.
Comedian Lewis Black had his first stage show since the pandemic, and it was broadcast on, I believe, HBO Max. (Well, "HBO Max" at the time, now Uncle Max.) However, he also made it available on YouTube.
I like Lewis Black. I have a friend who is a huge fan, and though I'm not at his level, I do enjoy his work. I found this show very funny -- a few slow parts, but not many, and often extremely funny.
Here it is. It runs just slightly over an hour --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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