The guest contestant for the 'Not My Job" segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is Lindy West, author of the 2016 memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, which the Hulu series is based on. Her interview with host Peter Sagal is -- as you might expect -- enthusiastic, and a lot of fun. Fun too is the topic of her quiz.
On this week's Al Franken podcast, the guest is former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who knew that she was in a very tight race for re-election and tha if she voted against Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh she'd like lose. She voted against him and lost.
As for the episode, Al writes --
The Founding Members of the Senate’s now defunct “Oh Ya! Caucus,” former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp and I discuss Heidi’s new organization, One Country.
How do Democrats get more votes in rural America?
Keep coming back.
Listen to the podcast.
Heidi lost her re-elect in a state that has turned solidly red over the past ten years. I won both of my races in a purplish-blue state by winning big in the Twin Cities and Duluth. But I did better all-around and in rural Minnesota in my second race (2014, a bad year for Dems) because I showed up, listened, and kept coming back. Turns out rural Americans care about what other Americans care about: health care; their kids’ education; keeping their kids close to them. Which means jobs
There's a type of humorous song that is considered parody which put new lyrics to existing music. They can be very funny often wonderfully so but for my taste are not precisely parodies, per se. To me, a parody song is one that not only creates new words to existing music but uses the words of the original song and twists them.
My favorite example is Alan Sherman's "The Ballad of Harry Lewis," a parody of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," whose chorus begins, "Glory, Glory Harry Lewis," and which includes these lines about the tailor who worked for Irving Roth --
O Harry Lewis perished
In the service of his Lord
He was trampling through the warehouse
Where the drapes of Roth are stored."
To be clear, this is perhaps mostly a personal view and (more importantly) isn't a value judgement. A comic song to existing music can be far more creative and entertaining than a mediocre parody. But I just view the category of the work differently.
I think Randy Rainbow's song are mostly funny lyrics, but also do generally overlap as song parodies, using the words of the originals to twist for comedic effect.
This version of Paul Simon's "The Sounds of Silence" is not only a parody song, but a wonderful parody. It's from a couple years ago by Don Caron and Linda Gower. There's a more recent sequel but I didn't find it nearly as good. It's funny, but mostly just funny words, not so much a parody. This, though is -- in its terrific writing...and performance.
I wanted to write something about all of this, but wasn't sure where to start -- or whether to do a series of pieces on each outrage. Fortunately, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) came along and did it for me in a single tweet, responding to a news story.
What I'll only add to it briefly afterwards are three things.
The first of my additional commets is that left out of this is that it's all being done while the Amazon rain forest is catastrophically burning.
The second is that also left out is that on top of all this -- and as the Amazon rain forest is catastrophically burning, the Trump administration has announced their plans to allow mining, drilling and cutting down trees in the Alaskan rain forest.
And the third is that I think there is more importance to these Trump actions than just environmental disaster. As has long been known, the part of the public that is hardest to motivate to vote is young people. This year, polls show that the three most important issues for young people are gun safety, student loans and...Climate Change. I suspect that Trump and the enabling GOP have given little thought to how they are driving young people to the polls in greater numbers than historically usual. It is not just the environment they're hurting -- it's their own political survival.
Here's the latest song parody from Randy Rainbow. It's slightly different from his others, in that he doesn't do a single parody song, bur rather a medley -- all from (very understandably) "Jesus Christ Superstar." And what I most appreciated is that the first song he uses is the same song I posted here a week or so ago, "King Herod's Song."
Another wonderful video from the fine folks at The Dodo. This one is about complete strangers helping a totally different species in distress. What a concept.
Yesterday, there was a story that the Trump administration sent out letters to legal immigrants who were in the United States on visas and had sick children in hospitals -- some critically ill, with cancer, some with heart surgeries scheduled, some with illnesses that couldn't be treated at home and without such care they would die -- that said they had 33 days to leave the country.
There was no official statement announcing this change of policy, but then if this was your policy you probably wouldn't want to announce it either. Though, in fairness, if this was you, you wouldn't do this. I don't say "probably wouldn't do this" not knowing precisely who you all are, but "wouldn't," period, without even knowing. And I feel comfortable with that because, since it takes a psychopathic cruel, malicious personality from a position of power to devise such a plan (and to be clear, I'm not talking about the soulless people who might agree with the plan -- that's easy to do if you're empty inside and have no responsibility for the action-- but people who are in a position to come up with such a plan, think it's a good idea and then chose to put it into operation, which is such a infinitesimal number of human creatures) that I know the odds are in my favor.
Making the story more pathetic is that no department of the government wants to take responsibility for the decision -- one group shifting the action on ICE, and ICE saying, "No way, it wasn't us" sending it back. But then, again, who'd want to take responsibility for it?? Okay, other than Trump and Stephen Miller, that is.
But I'm not going to go on about how awful this is or why and that it has to be stopped. After all, you either instantly know why this is pathetically repugnant to all the United States or human beings stand for and therefore don't need it explained -- or you're okay with it, so no explanation will make its way into the hell hole where you live.
All I'll say is what I've said before, though perhaps even a bit more bluntly --
As gut-sickening as this change of Trump administration policy is, this is not about Trump. We know who he is. This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who enable him, have been silent about this action, have not screamed out that this Must Be Stopped because it's not only un-American but inhuman, who sit idly by as it rolls itself out in front of them, and enable it to happen. And are therefore complicit in it.
This is about the Republican Party. This is who they are. This is what they're okay with. This is what they let happen. The elected members of the Republican Party are silent about and accepting of taking critically ill children with cancer and life-threatening illnesses without which they will die, and removing them from hospitals to send them out of the United States. Home of the brave, land of the free, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Or, in some cases, just yearning to breathe.
On this date 5 years ago, August 28, 2014, the Republican Party went bat-dung crazy because President Barack Obama wore a tan suit.
The good news is that at least we know what the GOP will get upset over with a president.
(For the record: I did not come up with the phrase that I used for the headline above. It was too wonderful not to use, but I don't want to take credit for it. It was from some commentator I saw on a montage about the Republican derangement over the suit.)
Nothing needs to be added to this, other than -- too funny and wonderfully done.
Yesterday, I wrote about Trump's monumentally idiotic suggestion that North Korea had such valuable real estate (no doubt to build a Trump Tower there...) because people had to drive through it to get to South Korea. Ignoring the reality of airplanes. And that only Russians, the Chinese and North Koreans are allowed to drive in North Korea.
I thought it was so bizarre that I chose to put off all the incredibly stupid things he did on Monday, one piling up on top of the next. In a normal world, any one of them would have been the headline -- but all four of them together on the same day was borderline head-exploding. And yet, it was just another day in Trump World. What kind of a day was it? A day like any other -- except the only difference is...You Are There.
So, let's revisit them from just two days ago. All on the same day. Monday.
We'll start with him during a press conference when, for reasons known only to him, hie decided to go off and slam former President Barack Obama (while on foreign soil, to be clear). Trump's supposed complaint was about when Russia moved into the Ukraine and annexed Crimea, against international law which is the reason why President Obama proposed that Russia be kicked out of the G7. Which they were, although Trump wants them let back in. So, what did Trump say about it? Whether nothing that made sense or was particularly accurate, though what stood out was --
“They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing. It could have been stopped with the right whatever."
Yes, that's right. All it needed, according to that ace foreign policy expert Trump was the right "whatever." It's as if Trump was a 14-year-old girl, dismissing her parents criticizing her. The biggest shame is that no one in the Obama Administration was able to pull off the right whatever, it should have been so easy. Imagine though if a student answered this way on an essay test. How did America handle the Russia-Ukraine crisis? "They should have done the right whatever." That is your basic F-minus.
Also on Monday Trump said that his wife has met Kim Jong Un and thinks highly of him. ("Him," of course, being a despotic, murderous dictator.) "Kim Jong Un — who I’ve gotten to know extremely well; the first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong Un, and I think she’d agree with me — he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential."
The problem though is that Melania Trump has never met Kim Jong Un. And apparently wasn't pleased to be quoted by her husband as praising a despotic, murderous dictator. So, the White House had to later release a statement that in many ways made things worse because it was so incredibly stupid on its own. They said --
“President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim — and while the First Lady hasn’t met him, the President feels like she’s gotten to know him too."
This, in a word, is nuts. In additional words it's pathetic how stupid it suggests they think the American public is. Now, sure, some of the American public might be stupid enough to think that explanation makes sense, but mot most of the public. More to the point, though, is the larger point -- not just that Trump lied about something, but that he lied about something that there was absolutely NO reason to even bring up, let alone lie about. So, what does it say about a person who lies when he doesn't have to? It says what he have long known -- that Trump lies because he is a pathological liar and seems to lies because he has to.
And continuing the "lying" theme, Trump also said on Monday that he had received calls from China about ending the tariff war. The problem is that the Chinese Foreign Minister said it didn't happen. There were no phone calls. Trump just lied about it -- as his foreign diplomacy tactic. Lied about something that could be easily refuted by the other party -- which they did.
And bringing the Monday Lying Trilogy to a conclusion, Trump skipped the G7 Climate meeting, which is bad enough under any condition, but horrific when the Amazon is on fire!!! In response, Trump later lied at a press conference, describing himself as an "environmentalist." What's impressive is that his nose didn't start growing right then and there. This is the man who not only withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Accord, but made the United Sates the Only Country in the Entire World to not be in Paris Accord. This is the man who only weeks earlier signed an order to remove protections of endangered species! And he called himself an "environmentalist." But the "funniest" lie is when the White House put out an explanation for him missing the Climate conference -- they noted that he had a meeting the prime ministers of Germany and India. The problem is that this was yet another of those Things That are Easily Refutable by the Other Parties. And they were -- photos were released of the prime ministers of Germany and India sitting next to each other at the G7 Climate conference!!!!!
And finally, on top of all of this came Trump adman pitch to make his Doral Country Club the site of the next G7 Summit -- with many buildings that we call bungalows which each can hold 50 people, and is near the airport, and has wonderful restaurants and many ballrooms and blah blah blah blah. The only thing missing was him saying, "And if you call now within the next 15 minutes, you can get a voucher for a free breakfast." Never mind that this is likely hugely illegal, going against the emoluments clause of the Constitution, not allowing a president to profit from foreign governments -- which he and his company would blatantly do, since all the foreign governments have to pay their costs and staying there. But at heart, it's just plain stupid and cheesy.
And what it also did is confirm what so many experts have suggested for the past three years, that Trump isn't anywhere nearly as rich as he claims and desperately wants people to believe, because when is the last time you saw a billionaire hawking his real estate property to get visitors to stay there with its lovely bungalows and wonderful restaurants and ballrooms...??
And ALL of this was on Monday. All of it. And it was pretty much just a typical day for Trump. Though what it wasn't was...normal. This is not normal. This can not ever been seen as normal. And it all came the day after he explained how valuable North Korean real estate was because you had to drive through it to get to South Korea. And just days after he quoted a stranger calling him the "King of Israel" and the "Second Coming of God" and referred to himself as "The Chosen One." And days after he cancelled a meeting with the Prime Minister of Denmark because his absurd interesting in buying Greenland had been called "absurd." And it just goes on and on and on.
But all of this was entirely on Monday. It's like Scrooge being impressed with Jacob Marley at the end of A Christmas Carol for gathering all the three ghosts together and "doing it all in one day."
But that's Trump. Forgetting everything else, all of this was in one day.
And the thing is -- none of this is actually about Trump. Because we know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party, because they enable him, are silent about ALL of this, and are complicit.
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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