I think that perhaps the most bizarre tweet I've seen in a very long while -- which is saying a lot since we have lived through four years of Trump in office, a pandemic and insurrection was this one below posted yesterday by Ed Henry. To be clear, it may not be the most bizarre -- competition for that title is strong -- but on a lot of levels it's got much going for it. It wasn't a new tweet, it's actually from July 1, but it only just now crossed my eyeline. Somehow, inexplicable, I know, I missed it. That doesn't make it any less weird, of course, just belated.
For starters, the mere fact that Ed Henry tweeted the announcement of his lawsuit and sort of in the third person is eye-catching enough. But then, of course, there's the whole announcement of why he's suing.
Because he claims that "Fox News" isn't conservative enough.
It's really difficult to read this and not be certain that isn't isn't a parody from The Onion. But it's not, it's real. It's a lawsuit by a former "Fox News" host suggesting that the far-right channel, which has regularly been called the media arm of the Republican Party has, as Henry's 23-page court document claims, "shifted to more establishment views in the past year."
The best I can figure is that apparently he believes that "Fox News" didn't support fascism enough. I mean, honestly, this is like a story about Bozo suing Barnum & Bailey claiming it's biased against clowns.
But the story gets even more weird, which is what puts it it Top Tier Weird. That's because last year, the reason Henry is a "former" host is because he was fired after a civil lawsuit alleging rape was filed by a colleague at the channel. Henry denies the charge, but honestly, how weird to file this lawsuit which he has to know is only going to bring more attention on the other court case, especially since he's claiming that he was wrongly fired for being too conservative and too much a supporter of Trump and the rape lawsuit was only an excuse.
And by the way, how weird to make an issue out of a journalist -- who is supposed to be objective and fair, most especially on a channel that began life with the slogan, "We report, you decide" -- complaining that he was fired for being biased. And even more, for trying to paint a purported news organization at fault for supposedly being too balanced.
This would seem to be a no-win case for Henry. On the one hand, if he does make his case that "Fox News" has become too middle-of-the road, he's setting the foundation for a "Not guilty" verdict by virtue of the channel supposedly being fair which is what a news organization is supposed to be. On the other hand, if he doesn't prove that to be the case -- and he won't, because it's not even remotely close to reality -- and "Fox News" is shown to still be as far-right as always and still the media arm of the GOP, he'll lose his case.
The only thing I can imagine is that Henry looks at the conservative TV "news" landscape and sees Newsmax and OANN creating a new presence that are both so deeply far-right that they can no longer even seen where the line is, and compared to that, "Fox News" appears to be middle-of-the road. Of course, when you compare pretty much anything to Newsmax and OANN, even Attila the Hun would seem middle-of-the-road. But that doesn't mean "Fox News" moved to the middle, just that someone built an extension to the playing field.
But there Ed Henry is. Filing his profoundly weird lawsuit. And if you don't think all that is weird enough to quality, there's an addendum.
Because, you see, the same day, Henry also filed defamation lawsuits against CNN and PBS. And why did he do that? Because he claims they were unfair in reporting the actual news.
Okay, that wasn't his stated reason, but it's actually pretty close. His complaints alleged that the reporters he was suing have “longstanding grudges against Fox News and/or individuals associated with the company,” which he says caused them "to repeat false allegations on the reasons why Henry was dismissed from Fox News relating to alleged sexual misconduct." Except the allegations -- if indeed false -- were actually filed in court as an actual lawsuit, and that they were actually filed is factual, so what they were reporting was actual news. Which Ed Henry appears to believe is wrong for journalists to do and irresponsible and illegal. In fairness to Henry, he had been working at "Fox News" for years, so the concept of reporting facts probably is, indeed, wrong, irresponsible and illegal to him.
And of course, at the foundation of these two other lawsuits are the rape allegations, so, yeah, that will get brought up, too. A lot. Weird.
Weird, too, is that lawyers would take these cases with, it would seem, no way on earth for them to succeed. But then, we've seen lawyers take on far-right efforts to claim Trump won the election with no way on earth for them to succeed -- and indeed losing 60 of 61 cases, winning only on a technical matter that had nothing to do with fraud, but merely a matter of distance in the recount room. So, I'm guess that the lawyers saw these lawsuits as a big pay day. ("Sue CNN and PBS for reporting the facts? Sue 'Fox News' for being mainstream? You bet, Ed!! That's a great idea! Got anyone else you want to sue? Hey, you want to sue Hasbro for packing Mr. Potato Head and Ms. Potato Head together in one box? We'd be happy to do that!!")
But if Ed Henry wants to sue all these people most especially "Fox News," who am I to say no? Let them battle out whether the channel is fair or totally biased -- the latter of which hilariously will have to be at least part of the "Fox News" defense, most especially since they're battling with Newsmax and OANN for the hearts and minds of the far-far right.
Oh, please, do carry on...
Yesterday, I wrote about how I’ve grown weary of the idea that getting vaccinated is a “Personal Choice.” As I noted, of course it is “Personal Choice” and personal are important in life. But what also important is understanding that personal choice don’t remove responsibility to others from our actions.
I have a new one to add, after seeing three similar news stories yesterday.
I have grown weary of reading stories about people in the hospital with critical cases of COVD-19 who now, on second thought, regret that they didn’t get vaccinated.
To be clear, I’m terribly sorry to hear that these people are seriously ill, and I hope they recover. I don’t like hearing that anyone is infected, and worse that anyone dies. And I’m glad to know that they do now want to tell people to get the vaccine. Those are important words to hear.
But the stories are growing wearying because these aren’t “Eureka!!!” moments. From the moment there was a pandemic a year-and-a-half ago, the concern was when there would be a vaccine. And when the first effective vaccine was approved seven months, it was reported as a massive breakthrough for saving lives and ending the pandemic. And 339 MILLION doses have been administered already, so it’s not like there isn’t a mountain of evidence supporting its efficacy. And there have only been a tiny handful of serious problems associated with vaccination, and that mainly for just one of the vaccines under very rare conditions. So, making the discovery that maybe it would have been a good idea to have gotten the free vaccine that save lives and can end the pandemic isn’t headline news.
One of those yesterday is a right-wring radio host Phil Valentine. He was long a snarky and highly vocal opponent of getting vaccinated. When he tested positive for COVID-19, he even sent out a sort of snarky announcement about it on July 11 -- "Yes, the rumors are true. I have COVID. Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I'm going to make it. Interesting experience," he wrote on Facebook, adding "I'll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I'm hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution."
(Note to pompous blowhards: before you do your little "Nyah, nyah" Snarky Dance when dealing with anything, but especially a deadly, highly-infectious disease, you might want to wait until you're absolutely back on your feet and in great shape.)
It now turns out just 11 days that he’s condition has sadly turned very serious, and his radio network has expressed concerns for his safety. And his family put out a statement, saying, "Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an 'anti-vaxer' he regrets not being more vehemently 'Pro-Vaccine' and looks forward to being able to more vigorously advocate that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon.”.
Like with all those others who’ve seen the light when reality opened their eyes, I hope he recovers and appreciate the statement from his family.
Who I more think about, though, are all those in his audience who listened to him and may have died. Or who didn’t die, but got infected and spread it to others, who died.
That’s the main issue here. I feel terrible about those people who are critically ill and am glad that they are expressing regret for others to not face the same situation. But I feel worse for all the innocent people they may have infected who may infect others, who may infect still others, and some of who may die. Many of whom may die, for all I know.
That’s why I’ve grown weary of the stories about people in the hospital with COVD who now regret that they didn’t get vaccinated. I wish them well, but to me the story is about all the other people they may have infected, or who they help support in their decision not to get vaccinated.
Which brings us around to what I also mentioned the other day, how people like Sean Hannity, Peter Doocy, GOP leadership member Steve Scalise and others now finally, on second thought, are telling people to get vaccinated.
What’s become very noticeable is that this list of leading Republican voices is growing. After 18 months downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus and dismissing the need for taking safety precautions like social distancing and wearing masks – and seven months publicly ridiculing the vaccines (despite the likelihood that many of them have themselves been vaccinated) to the degree that about 34% of Americans have still not gotten the vaccine, most of who insist they won’t (though that, of course, could change…) – now, quite suddenly, so many of these leading GOP voices are suddenly realizing that suddenly telling people to get the vaccine is suddenly A Good Thing.
Now, this could just be a totally massive coincidence. Or – it could be because there is something else at play.
Hint: It’s not a massive coincidence.
Now, I don’t know what that “something else” is that is causing all these leading Republican voices to all of a sudden see the light and tell people what they most-likely have known all along but for pure, idiotic, dangerous politics said the opposite, helping cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Two guesses, though, come to mind.
It begins with all the reports that consistently show that the spike in COVID cases and deaths are almost exclusively among people who are unvaccinated. And all evidence shows that most Americans – by a huge margin – who are unvaccinated not only live in Red states, but are Republicans all across the country. It’s one thing to dismiss COVID safety precautions and vaccinations when you’re trying to create such a deadly policy, trying to impact all Americans – but it’s another when you see that virtually the only people it is affecting is the base of your own Republican Party.
So, what seems most likely is that there are internal polls showing how support for the Republican policy dismissing the need to get vaccinated is plummeting off the charts, and driving moderate Republicans and independents away from the GOP in droves, and so leading voices in the Republican Party are panicking.
The other possibility is that Republican Party officials realize that the only people who are dying off are their voters alone. And far-right media realizes that the only people who are dying off is their own audience. And so they have to do something to staunch the bleeding.
To be clear, these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive. And there could be other factors at play. (For instance, perhaps lawyers told politicians and media that there could be a class action suit against them for reckless endangerment because they knew they were lying. That seems unlikely, but I can’t dismiss it.) Or who knows what else?
But it’s not a coincidence. It’s panicking, whatever the reason.
And if that’s what it takes to get leading Republican voices to speak out on behalf of getting vaccinated and helping end the pandemic – great! That’s what matters. And when the 2022 mid-terms come, the only people who will have forgotten that it was the Republican Party pushed against vaccinations for at least seven months until the pandemic spiked yet again will be the unvaccinated Republican base. Those who are still alive. Most everyone else will know and remember.
And that’s what it will take for Republican leaders, because even with this panic Republicans still fall back to their default “spread the virus” position to kill off their base and continue the pandemic.
And no, I’m not exaggerating. Because as you recall, only two days ago, Sean Hannity told his “Fox News” viewers -- "Just like we've been saying, please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough, enough people have died, we don't need any more deaths. Take it seriously,” he said, adding – “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccinations."
But just two days later, the delusion Republican base reared its ugly head and clearly got to Hannity, outraged that he would dare say it made sense to get vaccinated and that he believed in science, and believed in the science of vaccinations – which added a different panic into him. And so last night, just 48 hours later, the very same mouth told his audience --
"Well, first of all, I'm not urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, because I'm not a doctor. That is not what I said. I said to take it seriously, it can kill you. I said to do a lot of research. If you have a phone, do your research.”
Yes, honestly, he said that, only two days later.
Note to Sean Hannity (on third thought -- and who knows what his next thought will be, being flexible with the use of the word "thought"): video recording has been invented.
Note to Republicans pushing vaccinations now on second thought and actually sticking to it: Great, and welcome. But hundreds of thousands of deaths are still on your hands.
And a note to those in the hospital with COVID who, on second thought, regret not getting vaccinated previously: I'm sorry for your situation. And I hope that your regret extends beyond just yourself and to all the others you may have infected and perhaps caused to die.
There’s been a lot of articles the last couple of days as “Fox News” icons Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy have told viewers that the coronavirus is real and that getting vaccinated is a Good Thing.
It’s nice – and important -- to see them finally embracing science and reality, it’s hard to separate this from the gut-wrenching hypocrisy that has long been the “Fox News” and their own party line, that the virus is a hoax, and the vaccine not necessary. Despite the fact that they no doubt have been double-vaxxed themselves for months, as has likely most every “Fox News” employee.
Of course, after a year-and-a-half and 660,000 American deaths one would like to think that this wouldn’t be news, even to “Fox News” viewers.
But then, this isn’t the “Fox News” party line yet, since we still have hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham doing their best to kill off the channel’s viewers.
And also Lisa Boothe, the “Fox News” host of The Truth with Lisa Boothe,
Only yesterday, she had two tweets there were pretty galling for their seeming even-handed fairness. The problem is that this isn’t an “on the other hand” two-sided issue. What first caught my eye was when I came across her tweet – again, written yesterday -- that said –
If vaccinated individuals are still getting infected and spreading COVID, what is the rationale for young and healthy people to get vaccinated?
I wrote back – “Wait, you're a reporter for ‘Fox News’ & STILL ask this?? And your show is called The Truth? Do you not watch or read actual news, or only what’s on "Fox News"?
The vaccine keeps you from being critically sick or going to the hospital or dying.
BTW, everyone is healthy until they get sick.
Later, I came across another tweet from her posted yesterday, as well. She wrote –
I am not for or against COVID vaccines, I am just for common sense. The virus poses a high risk to some American, [sic] but little to no risk for others. That’s why it should be up to each individual American to decide what makes the most sense for them.
I replied with a couple of tweets – “This is not common sense. It is an INFECTIOUS disease that has killed 660,000 Americans alone. Yes, people ‘can’ decide for themselves, that's life, but they risk infecting and KILLING others -- and letting the virus mutate even worse. Not being ‘for’ vaccines is SO ’Fox News.’
“P.S. And you're spreading this ‘indecision’ to ‘Fox News’ viewers that only helps continue the pandemic as it worsens with more variants. ‘Personal choice’ is true but a canard. People got the polio vaccine & it's near-eradicated. And measles & mumps vaccines. Yet COVID kills.”
On the surface, Ms. Boothe is surreptitiously trying to be oh-so even-handed. The problem is that being "even-handed" only serves to exacerbate the problem.
Further, in her attempt to seeeeeem even-handed, she’s showing her disingenuousness at best and ignorance at worst.
For a host on a purported “news” channel to wonder out loud in public what the point is for young and healthy people to get vaccinated is a stunning admission that you don’t pay attention to the actual news you’re supposed to be reporting. To ask why a healthy person should get vaccinated during a worldwide pandemic that has killed over four million previously-healthy people around the world is just mind-numbingly empty-headed. Why give healthy children vaccines for measles, mumps and the chicken pox? Why put on sunscreen if you’re healthy? Why should a healthy person put on a helmet before riding a motorcycle? Or before playing football?
It’s hard to imagine telling anyone, but especially an adult, and especially a host supposedly delivering the news on a show called The Truth that healthy people take protective actions so that they Can Remain Healthy.
And young people do die from COVID-19. And even if they don’t, they can get infected, and then pass it to a (previously healthy) unvaccinated adult. Who might contract the disease and die.
Further, to suggest the coronavirus can be dismissed since it’s only a “high risk to some people” is playing fast and loose with the concept of “some.” At the moment, “some” equates to the 660,000 Americans who have died of it. That’s only .02% of Americans, a very small number and worthy of “some,” but in real-world terms it’s a ghastly high “some total.” And I would suggest too that “some” also equates to every adult American who is unvaccinated. If one wants to play semantics that being merely “at risk” is not the same as being at “high risk,” I would say that with infectious diseases that spread like wildfire and can destroy a person’s health even if they’re not killed by it, and keep mutating into more dangerous variants that keeps undermining society, the line between “at risk” and “high risk” is a borderline difference without much of a distinction.
Finally, as for “it should be up to each individual American to decide what makes the most sense for them,” that’s a lovely Kumbaya sensibility, but it only works if the actions of each individual American only affect them alone. This isn’t to say that such things aren’t still a “Personal Choice” – they are. It’s to say that when we make a “Personal Choice” to decide what makes the most sense to us, if that choice affects the actual lives of others, to not take those lives into consideration is reprehensible.
All of this is not only pretty common sense, I think, but also generally accepted in society after a year-and-a-half of the pandemic.
The point, though, is that for all the lovely words from Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy finally, at long last joining in with that acceptance after 660,000 Americans have died, it’s worth making as clear as possible that as “Fox News” policy goes -- filled with the Carlson, Abraham and Lisa Boothes of the world -- it’s still howling at the moon there.
You may have seen the story about the local "Fox News" reporter in Houston, Ivory Hecker, who interrupted her report on-air to say air she had a bombshell scandal after secretly recording her bosses blocking her -- which she gave it to Project Veritas. (Sorry, that should be "discredited, far-right lunatic Project Veritas.)
What you may not have seen yet is the follow-up.
Sorry, again --, that should be "the hilarious follow-up.")
To start with, yes, she's been fired. No big shock with that, of course. But then the aces at Project Veritas released their version of the recordings, and it turns out that what she wanted to report on was Bitcoin (but her boss said it wasn't right for the 5 o'clock hour, "That’s not our five o’clock audience") and...and...also, the benefits of hydroxychloroquine!!
Ms. Hecker was told by her boss, news director Susan Schiller, that she had “failed as a reporter” for not first checking out the “latest research” on hydroxychloroquine before going ahead to promote it as a treatment for COVID-19. “You need to cease and desist posting about hydroxychloroquine,” the news director told her.
In others words, the TV station in Houston wanted to report only on actual news that was honest and didn't risk fooling its viewers who could potentially die as a result. What a concept.
Hey, I'd love to see a bombshell scandal that eviscerates "Fox News," but this is local, and give credit where it's due -- good for them not reporting on the benefits of hydroxychloroquine. (Let alone Bitcoin to the wrong audience.)
Here's a general overview of the end result, along with a additional specific details about the secret recordings..
Well, with a bit thanks and shout-out to Press Secretary Jen Psaki and her little sidekick Peter Doocy of "Fox News," they kindly followed up on my article yesterday and went through their Punch-and-Judy act again only hours later.
Once again, Ms. Psaki called on Peter Doocy -- which, according to my theory, she did specifically because she knew he'd ask something snarky and really inanely stupid, just so that she knowingly could politely smack him down to show how polite and smart she is, and what a vapid idiot he is. And Mr. Doocy did his part and happily complied, asking pretty much the same foolish question he'd asked and she explained in detail only the day before.. Which is what prompted my article.
Her polite schoolmarm response was as good as she gets -- "Well, we went through this journey yesterday, so let's do it again."
Once again yesterday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki called on Peter Doocy of "Fox News" who asked yet another pudding-headed attempt at a gotcha question, and failed miserably as she politely explained why his question was empty and without meaning in the real world.
This one from Doocy junior was a several-parter, but the core of it was to find out why-oh-why the Biden administration hadn't ignored the World Health Organization just do its own investigation on how the COVID-19 coronavirus came about. Her once-again polite response began with a quintessential Psaki-like comment of deep understatement: "I think you're misunderstanding how this process actually works," she explained. And then went into detail how the international community and investigations work, noting that they need access "to the underlying data and information in order to have that investigation." And that they have been trying to get it.
Doocy, being Doocy, wasn't able to see the train wreck heading his way, nor did he follow the famous dictum of Abraham Lincoln, "Better to remain silence and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt." So, he went on, and several more questions, culminating in -- "So, is there any amount of casualties from COVID in this country that would make you want to not wait for an international effort and just do it?"
(Forgetting that Ms. Psaki had already explained the need for getting access to the information the World Health Organization has, even by Doocy Standards this latter was too much for me, so I sent him a note on social media,. "So, to rephrase your question -- "Are there any amount of casualties from COVID in this country that would make you want to" ask why Trump & the GOP & "Fox News" minimized the threat -- as being merely like flu -- and the use of masks that helped lead to those 600,000 casualties?")
But this all got me wondering, since these inane DoocyQuestions and kindly school marm replies from Jen Psaki seem to happen almost every day, with corresponding, and entertaining, if head-numbing, videos. What I find bewildering is why Ms. Psaki seems to call on him every...single...day. Since she knows he's going to ask some smarmy and utterly infantile question that she'll have to smack down albeit politely. I know he's with "Fox News" and if she doesn't call on him, they and the far right will cry in outrage. But just calling on him every other day -- not "blackballing" him entirely -- would seem to be acceptable, to show you aren't ignoring him.
But the other thought is that she calls on him intentionally. Knowing that he is going to ask an unearthly stupid question which will be brain-dead easy for her to answer -- usually with, "That's not how things work, let me explain..." And there will be footage of it, and the footage will get out, and it will make her look kindly and endearing and smart, and make him look like a churlish clod out far of his depth, And further, she can prepare for what he's going to ask, since he's so blatantly transparent and limited in his perspective.
While I think that Option A -- this is "Fox News" and she sort of has to call him -- is the most likely reason under normal conditions, I sort of think that Option B may have more weight than one would otherwise presume.
At least I hope it does...
I've wanted to post this for a while, but what with the pandemic, the election, the insurrection, the American Rescue Plan and all manner of other stories filling in the cracks, it's gotten push back -- and back and back. Enough already. Besides which, I also want to get beyond just writing about politics every morning. Especially when so much of it coming from the fascist Republican Party pushing sedition makes my head hurt too much on far too many days.
So, at last we get to Mary Schmich.
When coming across Famous Quotes on social media, I always try to do research to see if it’s actually attributed correctly. I'm not sure what the percentage of accuracy is -- not as horrible as its reputation, but definitely bad enough that you should always check if you don't know for sure. Mark Twain would probably be pleased to know how much is attributed to him that he never said.
However, for all that, I think the most famous of the mis-attributions came from the early days of the Internet, in the late-‘90s, I believe. And it involved the Chicago Tribune. You may even know the quote -- actually the very long quote, since it was part of a speech. It’s what became known as Kurt Vonnegut’s famous “Wear sunscreen” commencement speech, where the list of life-lessons that he supposedly explained at the very end of the speech were passed around and around the globe.
Eventually though – it took about a year later – word finally, slowly started to get out that it wasn't actually written by Kurt Vonnegut at all, or for that matter, even from a commencement speech. Rather the "list" was a 1997 article by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, written as if she was giving a commencement address..
Mary Schmich is very good, and still writes a column for the paper. (For many years, she even used to have a special section on her official Tribune webpage specifically about “The Sunscreen Columns” – it included the original column, along with a couple of follow-ups she wrote about the reaction, but I don’t see that there anymore. I guess after 25 years, enough time has passed. Though if you go to the Chicago Tribune site and go to the Search box and start typing in “Mary Schmich” – the drop-down menu starts listing all the options and “Mary Schmich Wear Sunscreen” pops up as one.)
If you haven't ever read the column -- or only read the piece as if supposedly by Kurt Vonnegut, or haven't read it in years -- it's well-worth it. The "commencement address" column was famous for a reason. It's smart and a lot of fun. And it's real title is, "Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young." You can find it here.
All the better, one of those other "Sunscreen Columns" concerned how, to her utter surprise in 1999, she was contacted by acclaimed filmmaker Baz Luhrmann (who, among his long list of movies, made The Great Gatsby, Strictly Ballroom and the film musical Moulin Rouge!). It turns out that Luhrmann, who's from Australia, read her "Wear Sunscreen" column all the way Down Under and actually wanted to make a music video using her column. This is an article by Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Caro who interviewed his fellow Trib writer Mary Schmich and wrote about how it all came to pass.
For years, I’d never been able to find the music video, but finally tracked it down. Here it is –
And if you want to reach more from Mary Schmich -- as I said, she's still writing for the Tribune -- you can find her work here.
Speaking of insane, this article by Jonathan Swan in Axios is brilliant. You may have heard one passage referenced on the news Monday about yelling at a Trump meeting that was between the outsiders (led by Sidney Powell, who has a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against her by Dominion Voting Systems, and the first-fired and then pardoned Mike Flynn) pushing Trump to keep trying to prove fraud and on the other side White House lawyers and advisers. This is the full article that was a part of. It’s truly insane and often hilarious, given that we happily know the outcome.
But just to give you a taste, this is an exchange between Trump senior advice Eric Herschmann and Overstock.com CEO (no, seriously) Patrick Byrne.
"Do you even know who the fuck I am, you idiot?" Herschmann snapped back.
"Yeah, you're Patrick Cipollone," Byrne said.
"Wrong! Wrong, you idiot!"
Actually, this isn't just Well-Worth reading, it's just great. And it's not just interesting and important, but the article is eminently readable. However, you may have to unclench your teeth every once in a while when you remember that a) this is about overthrowing the government, and b) there is a pandemic raging.
You can find it here.
“I’m counting the hours until he’s gone…I plan to pull him out by his hair, his little hands and his feet.”
-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Trump
It wasn't the bluntness of Speaker Pelosi's comment towards a lame duck president that stood out to me yesterday -- and her counting the hours, not the days which requires a calendar rather than a ticking watch -- it was her use of "little hands." As is well-known by now, Trump is deeply sensitive whenever the small size of his hands is ever referenced, seeing it as a reflection on what that purportedly means about the size of another of his important male body parts.
By the way, the origin of that sensitivity goes back to January, 1998, when Graydon Carter, co-founder of the bitingly satirical Spy magazine out of New York, wrote an article that described Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” It upset Trump so much that for many years he would send photos of himself, generally torn out of magazines, to Carter with his hands circled in gold Sharpie and a personally-written comment to the side, "See, not so short!" In a 2015 article in Vanity Fair (where he was then the editor), Carter said that the most recent mailing had come earlier that year and added, "I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, 'Actually, quite short.' Which I can only assume gave him fits."
The knowledge of that sensitivity -- and the reality that he still would respond to it, even in public -- it a high point in the GOP presidential primaries that same 2015 when Marco Rubio made a reference to it, saying, "I don't understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5-foot-2, And you know what they say about men with small hands? You can't trust them." That, of course, is not what they say about men with small hands, unless they are trying to clean it up for public consumption, and Trump knew that well. And so, with all the insecurity that the country has come to know, he responded in defense of his hands a week later during an actual presidential debate. "Look at those hands, are they small hands?” he said, holding them up for the world to see, despite being the front-runner as Republican nominee for president of the United States. “And, he referred to my hands – ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.' I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee." Never mind that Rubio didn't say that, Trump knew what was meant, and so he brought the presidential conversation down into the scatological gutter. For all I know, it's where the origin of his "Little Marco" insult came from.
And Nancy Pelosi most-certainly knew all this. So, not only did she bluntly tell Trump off, she knowingly insulted his manhood. And of course, it wasn't an insult of his manhood from just anyone, but from a woman. And not just any woman, but an 80-year-old woman who was insulting his manhood. And not just any 80-year-old woman, but the most powerful woman in the United States.
And on top of insulting his manhood, saying she planned to throw him out.
Oh, and the "by his hair" wasn't too shabby as far as insults go, either, especially when dealing with a man famous for his elaborate comb-over.
But what perhaps leaped out the most was the response from Republicans in Congress. And that response was -- silence. No outrage, no cries of how unbecoming it was for the Speaker of the House -- and not just any Speaker, but the hated Nancy Pelosi, who Republicans have been fundraising off of for years, indeed decades. Just... silence. Forget the sly insults, just simply saying she planned to throw him out would normally be enough to send Republicans into apoplexy. And not even because it's Nancy Pelosi or a generic Speaker of the House, but have we ever heard any politician be so blunt about getting rid of an outgoing president?? And as far as I can tell, there wasn't a word of complaint from any Republican.
I don't think that's necessarily because they didn't want to defend Trump -- they clearly have no trouble with that, even now, as many continue Trump's assault on democracy. The best I can figure is that even they are just weary by it all and heard Speaker Pelosi's response as the natural reaction to Trump Mania.
And in the end, that's what you get when your party leader is a short-fingered vulgarian.
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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