Today's "Not My Job" segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is actually not today's at all but from eight years ago out of their archive vault. The guest contestant is Molly Ringwald, and her interview with host Peter Sagal is charming and fun, and she's an absolutely wonderful sport, especially given some material that Sagal has uncovered. Furthermore, the quiz topic is decidedly off-beat since it seems to have even less connection to her than usual.
From the archives. This week's contestant is Ray Lancaster from Columbia Hill, South Carolina. I got the hidden song pretty quickly, and then it becomes very clear. Guessing the composer style came down to being between two composers...and I guessed the wrong one. Actually, it turned out to be someone else entirely, so I was completely wrong, though it was from the same country as my guess -- if that counts for anything, which it really doesn't.
Another St. Patrick's Day annual tradition -- and for decades, by the way, long before the Internet thing -- this is the song, "Ring to the Name of Rose".
Now, I know that on the surface it appears that I'm posting this because of its connection to the Irish Rose. And that's a good theory, and a reasonable connection. And it holds, but then, if that was solely the case I'd probably instead post the song, "My Wild Irish Rose." In fact, I'm posting it because today, St. Patrick's Day, is the birthday of my grandmother -- and her name was Rose.
Family history dating back to 1895 being what it is, there's an uncertainty if there was any St. Patrick's Day connection to my grandmother being named Rose because of the day. The general assumption is "no," but that's not a sure thing. However, what is sure is that my grandmother absolutely loved being born on St. Patrick's Day, and the connection that her name was Rose. So, that's good enough for me.
By the way, there's another interesting thing about this song -- who wrote it. It's a lovely, sweet number, and not remotely the kind of song we associate with the loud, boisterous work of its composer-lyricist -- best known for "You're a Grand Old Flag," "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Give My Regards to Broadway." That would, of course, be George M. Cohan.
I meant to post this the other day, but the news world had its own mind about such this. This is a TV screen grab from Wednesday, which was National Walkout Day.
Actually, it wasn't just Nickelodeon, but that was the most notable given its viewership, and the last place you might think would not only be political, but on such a serious issue. However, all Viacom networks — which include MTV, BET, TV Land, CMT, and Comedy Central, along with Nickelodeon — went off the air for 17 minutes at 10 am EST.
In honor of the holiday, here again is a video I particularly love from The Muppet Show.and post each year. Pull up a beer, and raise your voices high, as once more we join in with The Leprechaun Brothers...
This is a fun appearance by James Taylor on Stephen Colbert's show. He sings a re-written version of his classic song "Fire and Rain" which he says he felt needed to be updated because...well, for a reason he explains.
As cute as the song is, performed with Colbert, it's Taylor's performance setting it all up beforehand which I find so funny and endearing.
Oh so much to choose from, and the problem is that I don't want to do another "You Are There" posting two days in a row, even if that is, in the fact, the norm and reality.
Like Robert Mueller issuing subpoenas for the Trump organization.
Or, having sued Buzzfeed over publishing the Steele Dossier, White House lawyers foolishly opened the door wide for the discovery process, and Buzzfeed's lawyers asked for all documents about Stormy Daniels.
Or the report that Trump has apparently fired his National Security Adviser.
Or that the Treasury Department finally invoked some sanctions against Russia -- which is a start, but they were only against the names of Russians who the Special Counsel indicted, not the oligarchs who the Obama Administration and Congress subsequently had unanimously sanctioned, nor any sanctions against the Russian oil industry which is where Russia is most vulnerable.
Instead, significant as any of those stories are individually, or collectively, as yet another "You Are There" Day, one other story stood out even more to me. All the more so in perspective with the weakness of the sanctions finally just reported.
The other story is the emergency warning from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI in a joint press release from CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) about a Russian cyberattack against the U.S. power grid. As brief background to this, last Spring CERT had issued a private warning to power plants about efforts by Russian hackers to test vulnerabilities at power facilities across the U.S. (Though private, the story did leak out, though wasn't major headlines, since the story was about Russia looking for vulnerabilities, nothing more.) But the new warning yesterday was made public because Russian efforts had increased and were now even far more serious.
What the analysis by DHS and the FBI found is that Russian hackers had been able to take control of some power plants -- including nuclear power plants -- to the extent that they would be able to cause havoc with those systems or even shut them down.
You can read the CERT document here, though know that it is monstrously technical.
Keep in mind a few things:
This cyberattack by Russia on the U.S. power grid is something the Trump administration knew about as early as last Spring -- almost a full year ago.
Seemingly no efforts were taken by the Trump administration for power plants to address last year's Russian cyberattack to the extent that the problem increased substantially.
All the while for the past year, Trump has continually refused to blame Russia for anything as simple as hacking social media, at best saying that Russia appears to have been involved, yet still softening that -- even to this day with the assassination attempt with nerve chemicals in England -- by suggesting that it could also be others.
And for the past year, knowing about this cyberattack by Russia on the U.S. power grid, the Trump administration refused to enable Russian sanctions that were passed by Congress almost unanimously -- and passed, not over this, but for something else entirely, trying to attack the U.S. presidential elections. And no sanctions nor response after Russia made an assassination attempt in England, our closest ally and a member of NATO which we're obligated by treaty to support, despite charges against Russia by the British Prime Minister. And the most the Trump administration could finally muster after all of this, and after a year of knowing about the cyberattacks on our power grid, now actually taking control of some of the nuclear power plants, is to enable the weakest possible sanctions against a handful of people already indicted by the Special Counsel.
During the presidential campaign, and continuing today, Trump prompted his crowds with the disingenuous cry about Hilary Clinton that "She put us all at risk!!" And what that yelp concerned was the possibility that maybe, potentially some imagined emails existed which could have perhaps conceivably divulged some information that should have been kept private. On the other hand, what we have here in the real world is inaction and unconcern that Russia has -- has actually, as reported by our intelligence services -- unleashed a range of cyberattacks on the United States up to the degree of taking control of numerous power plants, including some nuclear power facilities. Meaning that, in reality, Trump literally has literally put us all at literal risk. Literally.
Then again, maybe the cyberattack was done by a 400-pound guy from his parents' basement.
Which brings up a reminder --
Today on All in with Chris Hayes at 5 PM (Los Angeles time) on MSNBC, his guest is the oft-mentioned here Felix Sater, the convicted felon, former Russia Mafia member, intelligence service asset and Trump business partner. A man who it must be noted has already testified before Robert Mueller and has reportedly told family and friends that he'll be going to jail.
Set the DVR! No, seriously. I don't mean that euphemistically.
Tomorrow (Friday) on the All in with Chris Hayes show on MSNBC at 5 PM (Los Angeles time), his guest is…(oh, for a drum roll) -- Felix Sater! Huzzah. Long-time readers of these pages will need nothing further, but anyone else -- like those who haven't been reading Elisberg Industries since Tuesday, when I wrote about Felix Sater here because of a major story on him in Buzzfeed -- this is the guy I’ve been yammering about for half a year as central to Trump money-laundering in Russia.
Okay, go program your DVR now.
The other day, I wrote about the film A Wrinkle in Time, and how I was "whelmed" by it, at best. There were some very nice things about the movie, but for my taste overall more disappointing.
Earlier this week, James Corden had the film's three stars on as guests -- Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. And they did a major, surprisingly-elaborate, recorded sketch that concerned Corden demonstrating his new creation, “4-D movies.” Apparently, the show has used this premise before but without giving much of anything away, I'll just say that "4-D movies" centers on the actors recreating their roles. And -- as you'll see -- I give them all big points for agreeing to do what they're put through.
Here 'tis --
What kind of a day was it? A day like any other in Trump Land. Except...You Are There.
So, yesterday, there's the major story in the Wall Street Journal about how Trump kept making Japan the fall guy during the presidential campaign over how unfair they were in trade, all of which deeply concerned the country's leaders. So much so that the day after Trump was elected, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Trump and -- breaking all protocol (of course) -- he took the call and set up a meeting. When Prime Minister Abe showed up at Trump Tower, not only was Trump there in the meeting...but also, it turns out, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. And just a few months later, as it whimsically happened, a Japanese company -- whose majority owner is the Japanese government -- not only miraculously bought one of the Kushner properties (which, as we know, has a massive debt problem) that's located in an upscale part of New York City, but they paid 60% above what would be considered a fair price. AND the property, located in an upscale part of NYC which has seen a great deal of development, has sat empty for the past year since the purchase -- showing clearly how unimportant it must have been to the company (with its majority owner the Japanese government) to have rushed in and bought it. Thanks to this reporting, we have the first known instance of a foreign government paying money for a Trump family-related property. I'm going to guess that Robert Mueller has a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Further to the point, it is not unlikely that Japan might have an investigation into this.
And yesterday, as well, it was reported that in a fundraising appearance only the night before, held for Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley, Trump told the crowd -- actually told them, joking about it to everyone, and the Washington Post has a tape of this! -- that he made up facts in meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, blaming Canada for a trade deficit, even though Trump said to the crowd that he didn't know if it was true or not...and as it happens, no, it's not true, the reality is that the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada. This story would appear to be wee bit problematic for Trump, but hey who knows? Maybe admitting you lied to the leader of a close ally and having it on tape is considered a good thing in some circles... You can read the Post article about it here.
And it was also reported yesterday that, Trump made bizarrely foolish and demonstrably lying comments at that same fundraiser, about why he (hilariously) says the Democratic candidate Conor Lamb won this week's Pennsylvania Special Election. Among other things, Trump insisted that Democrat Lamb had said during the campaign, "I'm like Trump" (of course he didn't) and that Lamb supported the tax cuts. (He didn't.) And much more. Actually, I hope that Trump truly believes this and moreover convinces Republicans of it -- that would mean they think all's well in the GOP. So, they should keep telling themselves that! That all these literal lies to give themselves comfort are the only reason Republicans lost the election. It would be another step towards Making America Democratic Again. #MADA
And finally, it was just yesterday, too, that the White House press secretary put out an official statement finally condemning Russia for the nerve chemical attack in England. Now, normally one would naturally assume that this being an official statement coming from the White House press secretary it is the president's position. But then, these are hardly normal times, since Trump himself -- who so immediately will blame Muslims for most attacks before any evidence is in -- has not yet publicly criticized Russia for this and at best has taken a "wait and see" stance, saying that it could have been anyone. (Perhaps It was a 400-pound guy who made the nerve agent in his parents' basement.) It is my hope that someone in the press asks Sarah Sanders if she went rogue and that this statement is not what the president believes. And if she did, and the president believes otherwise, then when might we expect the president to fire her?
And that was all just yesterday.
A day like any other in Trump Land. Except...You Are There.
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, and is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post and the Writers Guild of America. 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.
Feedspot Badge of Honor