This is a fun number from The Muppet Show. It features guest Peter Sellers singing a lively and somewhat-manic version of the song, "A Gypsy’s Violin." Making it somewhat rare, as well, is that is an uncommon Muppet sketch that features not just Muppet animals, but a real goat.
I should have held my article from this morning until after today's White House press conference. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went to places undreamed of my most sentient being over the age of four.
Considering the unconscionable levels of racism, hate and lying that Trump is capable of, the press secretary saying that his fake anti-Muslim tweets yesterday "elevate the conversation" gives new meaning to the phrase, "The sky's the limit."
If I said something wildly untrue like how Trump shot and killed an innocent man 5 years ago out of pure venal spite, then by the standards of the White House press secretary I am elevating the conversation by talking about a greater truth of gun violence in our society.
This is a two-minute political campaign ad for Dana Nessel, who is running for the office of Attorney General in Michigan.
It's as blunt, funny, pointed, serious and outspoken a political ad as you've probably seen. And it has a line that if they made campaign buttons with it -- and sold them -- they could probably fund her entire race. As long as it could pass the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Yesterday, I responded to a thoughtful User Comment posted by my friend Don Friedman about my piece on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defending Trump's racist American Indian comments. Among other things, Don wondered if people like Ms. Sanders and Kellyanne Conway realize the moral quagmire they've fallen into when they defend lies with lies. What I wrote back --
"My perception is that Conway might have more realization than Sanders. Conway comes across as flailing, arguing which suggests somewhat of an awareness of other options. She's the one who used "alternative facts," which suggests an aware of facts. Sanders seems like a cult member. Convinced that every word she says is true, at least when it leaves her mouth."
So, it was with great interest when I saw what Trump ghostwriter Tony Schwartz (author of The Art of the Deal) said to Ari Melber on MSNBC last night. “I believe there are people who are concerned,” Schwartz commented about people working in the White House. “Most of them, I think, are hostages to a cult leader. When you watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you really feel as if you’re watching somebody who is being brainwashed, or has been brainwashed.”
All of this came into play earlier in the same day at the White House press briefing. Reporters questioned Huckabee Sanders about Trump retweeting false videos from a British white supremacist group. Rather than walk anything back, the press secretary doubled-down and bizarrely defended lying. Literally. She said it was okay for Trump to lie with the fake videos he retweeted (one of which was not a Muslim beating up a Dutch kid, as it purported to be, but a Dutch kid beating up a Dutch kid), since the videos spoke to a "greater truth" of a security threat in the world.
So, okay, if I understand this Huckabee Sanders Rule correctly, this means then that people can say Trump shot and killed an innocent man in downtown Baltimore and that's all right since it speaks to a greater truth that there is violence in our cities. Seriously??
But going even further, if one accepts the Sarah Huckabee Sanders concept that telling false stories is acceptable as long as they speak to a greater truth... then "Fake news" which Trump claims upsets him so much is actually okay -- as long as it speaks to a greater truth. And since "greater truth" can cut a wide path, then it covers pretty much whatever you want it to be, no matter how general. By the Huckabee Sanders Gambit, you can report on concern in the White House about Trump's secret deal with al Qaeda to attack our allies, as long as the "greater truth" is how this points to there occasionally being disagreement in the White House. Or report on anything ludicrous that you can make up out of Trump's mouth because the "greater truth" is that he likes to say whatever is on his mind. Or perhaps report that Trump plans to jail all liberals since the "greater truth" is how Trump is harsh on his critics. Whatever.
Not that the stories Trump cries about are "Fake" news, of course. The past year has born out the truth of probably 99% of what Trump has claimed to be "fake." But the point is that if the Trump administration is now officially okay on-the-record with telling lies as long as they serve some other truth, then Trump has no business complaining about what he claims is "Fake" news. According to his press secretary, "fake" is fine. Acceptable. Even noble, apparently.
And no, to be clear, I am not advocating this. Lying to prove a point is, of course, not remotely acceptable. It's idiotic and reprehensible. The lie does not prove some greater truth, it contradicts it.
Ultimately, all this about lying for "greater truths" is just another backhanded way to try and justify "alternative facts." There are no "alternative facts." There are facts. Anything different from a fact is inaccurate -- at best.
It's worth noting, too, that among those white supremacist videos that Trump retweeted yesterday, and did so without comment, just basically, "Here's the video, folks," one was an official al Qaeda propaganda video. Honest. Although a person's first thought might be to imagine Republican Party reaction if Barack Obama had done that, simply presented al Qaeda propaganda as is, what's more appropriate to imagine is if ANYONE -- other than al Qaeda -- did it.
By the way, while people rightly focused on the ghastly, wildly unpresidential racist tweets by Trump yesterday, what's slipped under the wire and gone little-noticed is that when he snarked a tweet back to British Prime Minister Theresa May (which is bad enough, especially since she was upset that he had made her efforts to fight terrorism more difficult by retweeting British white supremacists)...he initially got her Twitter handle WRONG!! Instead, it went to some other woman with the same name and six followers! O dear Lord above, I dearly hope he is more careful deal with Top Secret material. But then, given how he leaked code-level secrets to the Russian ambassador, that's not a given.
Not to worry. I'm sure that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would come up with some way to explain how such a high-level breach is actually a good thing. Because it speaks to a "greater truth." Like, "What the president showed today is how vulnerable our national security is."
My friend Shelly Goldstein was bemoaning on Facebook about the Breitbart editor defending Roy Moore by trying to equate child molestation with Ringo Starr's recording of "You're Sixteen." The Lady Shellington, one of the world's great Beatles aficionados, was gnashing her fingers at the thoughtless, egregious charge. What I wrote back was --
If only some people grasped that when a singer is performing a song, they are performing, interpreting. That it is not REALLY themselves they are singing about. That when they are singing, for example, "My Way," they are not really, truly saying that THEIR own end is actually near, and that they personally are at death's door facing the final curtain. Any more than an actor playing a doctor is actually a freaking doctor...!!
On the other hand...hmmm, maybe Peter Noone actually was saying he was really Henry the VIII.
The other day, I came across a long sketch from The Danny Kaye Show that features Kaye and Buddy Ebsen playing his 'Jed Clampett" character from The Beverly Hillbillies, along with Harvey Korman and Howard Morris (from Your Show of Shows, and famously 'Ernest T. Bass' on The Andy Griffith Show, as well as the voice of the Quantas koala.)
Since Mark was good friend with Howard Morris, I gave him first dibs on the video and sent it to him to post. Besides which I knew he's have things to write about the show and Howard Morris, which of course he does. You can see the video here and read what Mark has to say/ (The first part of his post is about the difficulty of finding shows on the JLTV channel, which airs The Danny Kaye Show. He gets to talking about the video halfway down.)
Sometimes it's just fun to watch someone go on a well-deserved rant and leave the others around them speechless.
This is from yesterday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Usually, it's Joe Scarborough who goes on the rants, and Mika Brzezinski is the more fact-based analyst. But after playing video of Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defending Trump's racist remarks, Brzezinski had enough. But the joy is not only watching Scarborough's bemused reaction to his normally low-key co-host, but also how she keeps saying she's finished, but can't contain her anger.
If you've already seen the Press Secretary's comments and can't bear sitting through them again, just jump to the 1:11 mark.
A month or so ago, I posted some videos of a popular South Korean actor/singer Jo Sung-Woo, including him singing "The Impossible Dream" in Korean. That was a concert version, though he'd played the role on stage. As it happens, I was able to find a little video of that, six minutes of Jo Sung-Woo in the Korean version of Man of La Mancha. This is the "Impossible Dream" scene, but it's not just the song, you get the full sequence between Don Quixote and Aldonza. Alas, I can't tell you the actress's name, my Korean being a bit rusty.
The video starts out in the dark for 15-seconds. I find it fun to watch the dialogue, but if you want to jump directly to the song, it starts three minutes in.
Yesterday, the White released photos of the walkway that they proudly announced had been personally decorated for Christmas by Melania Trump. The reaction was pronounced, and deservedly so. If you haven't seen the photos, my response was writing, "Nothing says Christmas like black-and-white Gothic horror." Someone asked what earthly tradition this was supposed to be observing, and I said the German Krampus -- that country's terrifying Christmas monster -- in honor of the Trump family Drumpf heritage. It's the sort of thing that makes the opening song line, "You'd better watch out..." not a joyous anticipation of Santa Claus, but rather a warning of utter terror.
Today, I saw pictures of the same area comparing the Obama White House to this year's design from Melania Trump. As truly awful as the standalone photos were, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this explains the two administrations in a 12-volume collection.
To be fair -- and we do like to be there -- this image of the Trump Christmas is not how it looks in all conditions. To be clear, it was not photoshopped, it came from from what is clearly now a terribly lit, poor angle photo sent out by Melania Trump's spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham. Other images (and an official video) look far nicer and brighter, albeit a bit sterile. But not like a horror movie. However -- in case anyone insists to the contrary, no, that wasn't photoshopped.
After writing that suggestion earlier that I figured they decided on a limited release for The Post in hopes of getting Oscar nominations, it turns out that they're on the right track. The National Board of Review just announced its awards today, the first to do so.
The Post won Best Picture.
As I say here, we tries nots to steers ya wrong. It's very good. And timely. I suspect that helped, as well. But mainly, it's very good.
By the way, the "timely" part is far more critical to this than even meets the eye. At the Writers Guild screening on Sunday, the two screenwriters -- Liz Hannah, who wrote the original draft, and Josh Singer, who came in to work on it -- said that from the time Hannah finished her script to getting Spielberg involved, hiring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, reworking the script, doing pre-production, all the wardrobe and set designs, shooting the movie and editing it to having it ready now...was only NINE MONTHS! That's just near-unheard of. And most especially for a filmmaker like Spielberg who is meticulous and detailed in his preparation. Not to mention having Streep and Hanks available.
Actually, it's even more remarkable -- because Spielberg was working on another movie at the time (in post-production) and put it aside to work on The Post. He has told the press that because of the news, he felt that the movie had to be today today.
This is a good article here in Vanity Fair that deals with the swiftness of it all.
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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