On this week’s ‘Not My Job’ segment of the socially-distanced NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the guest is political consultant Mike Murphy, who is involved with the Republican Voters Against Trump project. His conversation with host Peter Sagal is pretty straightforward, though light-hearted, but very interesting and open about how his job consulting works, specially in an election like this one where there are so few undecided voters..
On this week’s Al Franken podcast, his two guests are Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino and Marc Elias, Dems’ Election Lawyer, who talk about Voter Suppression. As Al notes, “Voto Latino is on its way to registering 500,000 new voters this cycle. Elias is fighting to make sure their votes will be counted.”
Well, it turns out that we're going to make this a Randy Rainbow day. That's because, as whimsy has it, he released a new parody song this afternoon. It's fun, though I've enjoyed many of his other songs more -- but -- what I especially love was his debate sketch that leads into the song.
(If the song sounds familiar, but you can't place it, it's "How Will You Know?" from Enchanted that made Amy Adams a star.)
TNT has a The West Wing marathon today, Thursday. At 8pm ET (5pm in the west), they will have the wonderful "Game On" debate episode. I mention this for three reasons -- 1) because of there being a marathon, 2) because this particular episode is so good, and 3) mainly because of the Fun Fact that the debate moderator is played by John Aniston -- father of...oh, you can figure that one out easily.
Yesterday, it was announced that two people who had attended a Trump superspreader rally in North Carolina only seven days ago had tested positive for COVID-19. I suspect it's likely that more who were there have been infected, as well, but most probably just haven't been tested. Also, more people have possibly been infected who weren't at the event but have come in contact with those who were. But those are "possiblies" or "likelies." All we know for absolute sure is that two have.
In related news, later in the day Trump announced on Twitter than an upcoming rally in North Carolina has been cancelled. The reason, he said, was bad weather and high winds. Yes, right, really. This is the same campaign that just had a rally in Nebraska in sub-freezing temperatures, and left everyone there stranded, sending at least a half-dozen people to the hospitals So, concern of the weather seems highly improbable.
It's even more improbable when you know that the 10-day forecast for the area is for temperatures in the 70s and normal wind.
So, yeah, that was the reason it was cancelled -- bad weather and the wind. Not that people from the last superspreader rally there a week ago tested positive for the coronavirus.
O, if only there was a vaccine cure, like the one that Trump insisted was coming in just weeks...
All of which made it fortuitous that by chance yesterday I came across a video by Randy Rainbow from several months back which, for whatever reason, I missed. And the subject of his song parody is a nice fit.
There is a really good chance that you will love this.
It's a two-song parody mash-up from Bye Bye Birdie and The King & I -- two shows that don't generally overlap -- performed by Broadway actors without a show to do during the pandemic, all written by Joe Keenan, who was a writer on Frasier, among many other TV shows, including Desperate Housewives and the new version of The Odd Couple, which he developed. Though this was made as a "Blue Vote Video," any political message is secondary to the fun.
I was surprised how many of the people involved I recognized – not close to most, but a handful. And all the names are listed at the end.
It's called "Bring Back Broadway!." And falling back on my arcane knowledge of musicals, I wonder if that was used because a) it’s appropriate for the point of it all, and b) it’s an homage to the very little-known and unsuccessful sequel to the 1960 show Bye Bye Birdie, which was called, Bring Back Birdie. It was made in 1981 by the original team -- with a score by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, and a book by Michael Stewart. And alas, it only ran for four performance. I have the cast album, and I was glad to track it down, but it doesn't compare.
[UPDATE: After later checking with Joe Keenan online about the very obscure reference, he said that indeed, yes, "The echo occurred to me, though I doubted many would hear it."]
It zips by pretty fast, so I didn't get all the words, but plenty enough to find it a total joy. There's one joke in the parody lyrics in particular that I dearly loved, which comes at the 3:50 mark. Normally I wouldn't give such things away, but it's so obscure unless you know the original well that it would fly by. In the parody, the singers are quipping about Trump and Kim Jong-un, "Trump's in love with Kim, Kim's in love with him." The original line is about Hugo Peabody and Kim McAfee, It goes -- "He's in love with Kim, Kim's in love with him." So, yes, really clever. It's one of those lines where, when a writer thinks of it, you just look up and thank the gods because it fits in too perfectly.
I'll only add one other thing -- that the song from The King and I being parodied is "I Have Dreamed." (Fun Fact: If you've seen the movie, The American President, this is the song that Michael Douglas and Annette Benning dance to for the first time at the White House gala.)
Other than that, I shall say no more.
Today, I've decided to state the obvious. It wasn't as obvious several weeks ago when I first thought of writing this, but as regularly happens in Trump World, bigger news stories keep getting in the way, but it's obvious now. Still, sometimes you have to state the obvious -- not just to get it out of your system, but so the abnormal doesn't get accepted as normal. And in fairness, pretty much everything with Trump is pretty obvious, especially the last few months as the presidential election came closer to reality. The man has no filter.
So, to state the obvious --
Trump supports the insane, mass murder policy of herd immunity. It's been clear for a while now, but it's hard to miss now. Having five mass rallies a day, without social distancing or any requirement to wear face masks. Holding a rally in Florida at The Village, the large retirement community of the most-vulnerable members of society. Holding a rally in Wisconsin, which has one of the highest hot-spot rates in the country. Holding a swearing-in party for new Justice Amy Coney Barrett at the White House Rose Garden which was the site of the infamous Rose Garden Massacred that infected Trump himself and a mass of White House staffers. Sending Mike Pence out to rallies across the country, despite five members of his inner-circle staff testing positive for COVID-19, including his chief-of-staff and body man who is by his side regularly. Holding a rally in Nebraska in below-freezing weather...where buses were charted to bring people in, but not to take them back. And so much more, on and on and on and on.
Topped by Pence's press spokesman being asked if it was too dangerous to hold a rally in Wisconsin where infections were so high and hospital beds were almost all full -- and answering that Pence was fine and had a good medical staff with him, ignoring the blatantly obvious point that the question was about the public potentially getting infected and risking dying.
By the way, there's no evidence that herd immunity works -- in fact, there's evidence that it doesn't, most particularly in the failed experiment in Sweden. Scientists who are experts in the field of infectious diseases have discredited. But never mind, it's what Trump wants, and so everyone in his sphere goes along, never the risk of spreading a deadly disease across the country and to themselves. After all, spreading the disease is the point.
And to anyway to thinks even at this point that this is all hyperbolic, I would suggest that -- besides all the evidence -- what else can you conclude when the person Trump put on his pandemic team and by all accounts now listens to the most is Dr. Scott Atlas, a man who pushes herd immunity and has absolute NO experience in infectious diseases. None, zero, nada.
From the first, I've had my theories as to why Trump is doing this. There's no one reason, to be clear, and for all I know none of them are correct. But the reasons include that 1) he's unhinged, 2) taking no responsibility for safety precautions fits in perfectly with his desire to ignore face masks and social distancing because those are bad optics for him having said from the beginning that COVID-19 is just like the flu and it'll all go away soon like a miracle, 3) he has no understanding of science, so simple explanations make the most sense to him even if they're wrong because science is much more complicated. and perhaps most of all, 4) as the death toll went up and passed the horrific 200,000 mark with estimates now of it reaching 400,000, the more people who die through herd immunity, the more Trump can explain that this is actually part of the "plan" and a good thing -- the more deaths, the better.
I don't know. I think all the explanations are possible, though -- and that "he's unhinged" and "it's all part of the plan" seem most Trumpian to me.
But who knows, maybe there are other reasons. Or no reason, because as we've seen for four years, Trump doesn't need a reason to act irresponsibly and horribly towards others. He's a morbid narcissist, and one of the qualities of that condition is the risk of bringing harm to those around him.
I only know that, to me, this is stating the obvious. Trump is pursuing herd immunity, and not only doesn't care how many Americans get infected and risk dying, he's actually okay with that.
And I know, too, that even with this people his policy, it isn't about Trump, because we know who he is. It's about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him, accept hundreds of thousands of more Americans getting infected and risking death, have blood on their hands and are complicit.
The other day, I posted a video here from an Australian TV show that did a segment on the history of the song, "I'll Never Find Another You," which was a big hit for the Aussie group, The Seekers.
I had another similar piece I was holding onto that that TV show did on the history of what is probably The Seeker's most-lasting hit, "Georgy Girl." But since my pal Mark Evanier had a piece about the song on his site here last night, I figured that it might be a good idea to post that "history" today.
As before, the history starts in 1967 and takes a few nice twists. For a group that broke up in 1968, they've stayed close over the decades, and this affectionate piece features current interviews with Judith Durham and "the Boys" -- Athol Guy, Keith Potger, and Bruce Woodley
A couple of notes about the song. The music is by Tom Springfield, who not only was part of the popular '60s singing group The Springfields, he is also the brother of the extremely popular Dusty Springfield. And the lyrics are by Jim Dale, who is far-better known these days for his acting -- as the Tony-winning star of the Broadway musical Barnum, and even more so to millions as the narrator of all seven Harry Potter audio books.
One other note about the video -- at the 3:00 minute mark, the actor in the scene from the British TV series Men Behaving Badly (which later got adapted for U.S. TV) is Martin Clunes, who is probably best-known to American television viewers for starring in the Doc Martin series.
I don't expect this to get any traction during the last week of the election. But what surprises me a bit is that it has gotten no attention in the months since Trump began whining about the issue.
Ever since the number of cases of Americans infected by the coronavirus began skyrocketing, Trump started to complain that the only reason there were more cases of infections was because there was more testing. Of course that was ridiculous, and it was always pointed out as ridiculous. Testing doesn't create new cases, it only demonstrates the cases that already exist. Still, though, that was his attempt at an argument, and it became the debating point -- literally. Not just in the public area, but actually in his debates with Joe Biden.
And though it's a ridiculous point, when you get down to semantics, it's sometimes very difficult to make reality shine through as clearly as it should since it is, after all, reality.
However, the point that I'm surprised has never been addressed -- or at least addressed even remotely as much as it should -- is not infections, but deaths. That's because deaths have absolutely zero to do with how much testing has gone on.
If there was no testing at all, you might not have any idea how many cases of COVID-19 there were -- but you would know how many deaths there are from the disease. They get recorded, tested beforehand or not, with the cause of death registered with it. And the numbers of deaths in the United States compared to the rest of the world is pretty close to the same relationship as cases in the U.S. to the world.
Right now, there are 232,084 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. And there are 1,171,337 deaths from coronavirus around the world. That means the U.S. has almost exactly 20% of the deaths from the disease -- despite having only 4% of the world population. Which, as I said, is pretty close to the percentage of cases in the U.S. to the rest of the world. And it's all without the debating point question of "testing.
Again, no testing is involved. And facts are very straightforward and simple: the U.S. has 4% of world population, and 20% of COVID-19 deaths. It cannot be blamed on testing. And the numbers cannot be more clear -- in fact, even more so given the high quality of medical care in the United States, which would make you think deaths should be lower here than around the world, especially with Third World countries factored in. You know, those "sh*thole countries" Trump likes to talk about.
I fully understand why cases are discussed in the news. It's important in order to show the spread and try to stop it. But why this easier set of facts about deaths hasn't been addressed in order to contradict Trump, I don't know. But -- it's still the facts.
Heading back to the game show What's My Line?, the celebrity Mystery Guest here is singer Eydie Gorme, who had a long, successful career solo and with her husband Steve Lawrence. What makes this segment such fun is that one of the panelists that week was...her husband Steve Lawrence. As a result, she really has to go to lengths to disguise her voice.
You can jump to the Mystery Guest segment at the 19:45 mark.
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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