Just another day, just another comment by Trump telling you who he is and what he will do, in case anyone is listening.
This is actually a good news, bad news story.
The bad news is...well, okay, that's obvious. (I originally wrote "pretty obvious," but then edited out "pretty".) If you missed the point, you either stumbled onto this page totally by mistake on your way looking for the Favorite Tyrants website -- or don't read or understand English.
The good news is that the story didn't get lost and was generally the headline news all day. Also, since Trump's comment was said on TV, it allowed Democratic media groups to start putting together a barrage of campaign ads for later, using the quote.
Before going any further, it's important to offer a friendly, helpful note to Trump (in case he reads this site), as well as his acolyte supporters and dabbling enablers: Being a "dictator" for "only one day" is still being a dictator.
By the way, that's also a note to undecided voters.
Consider for a moment that when Trump is willing to say something that horrifically disqualifying out loud -- so horrifically disqualifying that it's on the top of the very first page page of the Presidential Campaigning for Dummies handbook, "Do not ever say that you plan to be a dictator, even if you mean for just one second...even if you're running for president of an authoritarian dictatorship state, just don't do it)" -- imagine what he's chosen to keep private.
I mean, yeah, sure, it's only for one day. Because, of course, dictators love giving up power. Even after only 24 hours. That's not much longer than sitting through Killers of the Flower Moon.
In fairness, though, being a "dictator" for only one day is okay apparently because Trump, as we know, has tremendous self-control (the best in the world), and he always stops when he knows he's gone too far.
The only hiccup is if Trump considers "being a dictator" is going too far. After all, this is the same would-be despot who, lest it be forgotten, praised China dictator Xi Jinping for ending presidential term limits and said, "He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day"
The positive thing is that he said "some day." Not "one day." Or "Day One."
As I watched the clip of Trump declaring his intention of being a dictator and was able to ungrind my teeth, my next thought was wondering what emcee Sean Hannity was thinking after tossing Trump what he knew was a softball, "You're not going to be a dictator are you?", and most surely was expecting the blatantly obvious, "Oh, my, NO" answer -- but instead getting, "Oh, sure! You bet!" High on the list of Hannity thoughts was likely, "Oh, God, 'for only a day' doesn't make it better." And we can be very sure that Hannity was thinking something along these lines because he almost immediately cut to a commercial.
By the way, it's worth keeping in mind that Fox pre-taped this Town Hall with Trump, knowing that he might possibly (or probably) say something horrific, so they could then cut it out of the broadcast -- and yet, even still, being Fox, I guess...they left in Trump saying he would be a dictator if re-elected!!!
As I noted, this was the headline story on TV news throughout the day, and for the most part the newspaper headlines were spot-on excellent, too. There were, unfortunately (and remarkably), a few cases where headline writers missed the boat, which seems hard to do when the story is "Trump says he will be a dictator."
One miss was the headline for USA Today, which read -- "Donald Trump says he will be a 'dictator' only on 'day one.' Then he'll focus on drilling." No, guys, you stop the headline after the words "day one." What he'll do "then", after that, really doesn't matter.
Though the worst headline was probably from a usually highly-respectable source, Reuters. And the only reason I say "probably" is because I haven't read every headline in the world to compare. What Reuters inexplicable wrote as its headline was (and I have to post a screenshot of this, because you won't believe me otherwise) --
The only thing I can imagine is that the Reuters headline writer missed the part where Trump said out loud, on camera, that, oh, yes, thanks for asking, he would be a dictator! Or perhaps the headline writer thinks that for "only a day" doesn't count.
Heads up to Reuters. And every undecided voter. And Republicans on the edge. And everybody -- it does count. Saying you will be a dictator for even just one day means, yes, You Will Be a Dictator.
Especially when you've already said about a lifetime dictator --
"He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot some day."
All he wants, now, though, he says, is just one day.
To continue the fest, this is a Christmas recording that blends two worlds -- totally unknown, yet hugely-well-known and wonderful. How can that be, you ask??! I'll explain.
The main song here is from the musical, Here's Love, by Meredith Willson, who of course wrote The Music Man. It's based on the classic film, Miracle on 34th Street. The show wasn't terribly successful, though didn't flop and had a respectable run of 334 performances -- just under a year -- in 1964. The score is inconsistent, but half of it is quite wonderful. (I've actually tried, half-heartedly, I must admit, to get a TV production of it made for several years. I think it would be a terrific Christmas special. Hey, who knows, maybe one year NBC will do it live...)
The song is called "Pine Cones and Holly Berries," sung by Laurence Naismith who plays Kris Kringle. It's very charming and a lovely Christmas holiday song, though is pretty much unknown.
Now, as you may recall, Meredith Willson likes counterpoint. He used it a great deal, to much good effect in The Music Man, most notably with "Lida Rose" sung counter to "Will I Ever Tell You?", but also famously with "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a Little," sung in counterpoint with an already-existing song, "Goodnight, Ladies."
Well, he used the technique again in Here's Love. He created "Pine Cones and Holly Berries" to be sung counter to an already-existing, very famous Christmas song -- one which (I am sure most people will be shocked to learn) he himself wrote. When I say it's very famous and completely well-known -- trust me on this. It's very famous. And yes, it's actually written by, of all people, Meredith Willson. I won't tell you want it is, but let you have the fun of discovering it when it comes in halfway through. (Though if you've read this pages during past Holiday Music Fests, you likely know it by now...)
The counterpoint, very famous song is performed here by Janis Paige and -- are you ready? -- Fred Gwynne! Though he hated being typecast in his famous TV role, since it almost ruined his career (I worked with him on the movie, Pet Sematary, and we briefly talked about it), I feel compelled to identify him in this context for the sheer incongruity of it, as yes, 'Herman Munster,' whose TV series came along soon thereafter. He comes in the song here most-clearly at the 1:14 mark, singing (and really well) "Christmas, Christmas. Christmas Day. Bells ring, and hearts sing, every day..."
So, here then is a lovely, sweet Christmas song you don't know, sung in counterpoint to an extremely famous one you absolutely do, both by Meredith Willson.
As a bonus, we'll throw in a couple of other good -- and lesser-known -- Christmas songs from the show. This first (with video from a community production) is during the courtroom scene and W.H. Macy is called to the stand and has to say under oath whether he believes that there is actually a Santa Claus.
And we'll conclude things with an absolutely lovely song that the lawyer (the fellow who ends up defending Kris at the end, played by Craig Stevens) sings to the daughter of his neighbor, the cynic who hired Kris but sees it all as just business (played by the aforementioned Janis Paige). The young daughter has picked up much of her mother's cynicism, but their neighbor Fred slowly starts to bring some holiday cheer into the girl's life.
The other day, Robert De Niro was being honored by the Gotham Awards and had a speech prepared. However, for reasons I'm not quite sure why, the speech got edited for the TelePrompter. And when De Niro got to the podium, he wasn't too pleased about that. But he had a copy of his full speech on his phone, and read the part that had been cut.
Not surprisingly, this got a lot of attention. And some of that attention got to Trump. It will not shock you to learn that Trump was not too pleased himself.
And so, being Trump, he posted the following on his social media platform. It was less eloquent than De Niro, but hey you go with what you go.
A few things stood out to me from this.
The first thing was that the last time Trump got upset at Robert De Niro he tried to slam the actor for his supposed lack of talent. Apparently, he realized that that insult didn't land very well, since this time he went with "mental midget," though decided to put that in quotes, which usually suggests it's not true, so that was a little weird, though I get it.
I'm not quite sure why Trump thinks De Niro's life is a total train wreck (let alone a train wreck at all), since he's one of the most admired actors in Hollywood history and had has had an impressively long career, still active even today.
And further, since Trump was specifically responded to a video of De Niro clearly putting more than two sentences together -- which is precisely why Trump was so upset -- that criticism is weird, too.
But what stood out most to me, which is something that hasn't been picked up by the media and should be, is that once again Trump used the slam that De Niro was nothing but an "animal." Which is language that's the same criticism levelled against Trump previously for echoing Hitler in his "vermin" Veterans Day speech, trying to dehumanize this opponents. Because when a leader portrays others he hates as less than human, it gives his supporter to door to treat them as less than human and attack them.
This shows that Trump's "vermin" speech was no one-time slip, not that most anyone thought that. But a very clear, intentional path that continues to echo Hitler. No, I do not think Trump is anything like Hitler -- who built ovens to exterminate 6 million Jews and started a war to take over the world. But I do think he's okay with admiring Hitler and, as we've seen, echoing his language.
It would have been nice if the media picked up on Trump's latest dehumanizing "animal" reference, though I understand the focus being more on him being petulant about a major movie star. But the Hitler echoes are still there. And I'm sure they'll return.
So, the media will get another chance. And, I'm sure, others, was well.
Happy Ollie Days!!
I posted this in 2021 for the first time, and loved the video so much that I thought it deserves repeating on this anniversary day and being made a bonus posting this year. I've posted a lot of Kukla, Fran & Ollie videos (and will post some more this holiday season), but this is unique for them, and offers an absolutely fascinating (and very funny) look into the early days of television.
A big thanks to fellow Kukla, Fran & Ollie afficionado Nell Minow for passing along this wonderful and offbeat, very early episode from the show than ran 74 years ago today, December 5, 1949.
Kukla, Fran & Ollie went on the air nationally earlier that year – it premiered locally a few months before that -- and TV was in such an very early stage that every time a new station joined the network the show saluted them. But so many new stations had begun joining that the show hadn’t been able to salute them all. So, they decided to do a full pageant in their honor. It wasn’t just to salute the stations, though, but also fill them in about who all the Kuklapolitan characters are and how this television thing works, including the operation of cameras and the commercial possibilities (sponsored as it is by RCA Victor). The whole thing is funny, charming, odd and a fascinating look at the early days of TV. Especially as each of the characters sings a different song about television. (Also, though intended for viewers at the time, it’s also a great way for people today to learn who each of the Kuklapolitans are.)
For all the character introductions, I was sorry that they didn’t have my fave, Cecil Bill on. Though that’s sort of fitting, because he only appeared occasionally, which was much of his charm. Also, a little Cecil Bill goes a long way. That’s because Cecil Bill was sort of nuts and spoke in a “ta toi toi toi” language that only Fran Allison and the Kuklapolitans can understand. However, you do hear Cecil Bill at the 10:20 mark, and they reference him later (at 22:00), acknowledging the challenge some people might have with him.
The songs are a joy. Nell notes particularly loving Beulah Witch’s where she gives the phone number for stations to call if they have a problem with the signal. It all builds to a joyous finale led by Ollie that includes a very funny self-referential joke about puppet shows and Fran being as goofy as I’ve seen her on the show.
What also bears repeating from earlier posts about Kukla, Fran & Ollie is that the show is almost-fully ad-libbed. Burr Tillstrom, its creator (doing all the puppetry and voices), would go through a general run-down with Fran Allison of what was planned and the musical numbers (which of course had to be written…), but that was largely it. (How ad-libbed was it? And one point in a sequence with Beulah Witch, if you listen closely you’ll hear Tillstrom crack himself up before quickly catching himself. And Fran plays right along without skipping a beat – including moments later when Beulah screws up saying “Indianapolis” and Fran again just plays along without skipping a beat) And the show was 30 minutes long – and daily. And also, this wasn’t a daytime show just for the kiddies, but ran at night. (The time and schedule fluctuated over the many years they were on.)
I should note that Ms. Minow’s appreciation of Kukla, Frank & Ollie comes from a well-grounded foundation. The show was done in Chicago, and as I mentioned the other day, her father Newton Minow (later the FCC Chairman under JFK) was Burr Tillstrom’s attorney. Further, when she and her dad were visiting the show’s set one day, a newspaper reporter happened to be there doing a story on it. Seeing a little girl around, the reporter asked Nell what she wanted to be when she grew up. To which she answered, “A Kuklapolitan.” That made it into the article. And the happy news is that it’s my contention that Nell achieved her goal.
Yesterday, a supposedly five-alarm five story broke for the far-right when James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, released documents that supposedly showed that President Biden received $1,380 in monthly payments from a corporate account owned by his son Hunter Biden. To the extreme-right GOP, this was supposed “evidence” of an impeachable crime by the President.
A few minor things first before getting to the main course. Although, even being minor they’re still noteworthy.
First, all the document showed was that Joe Biden received a payment from his son. It wasn’t even remotely evidence of a crime, let alone an impeachable offense. It was evidence of him receiving a payment from his son, period.
Second, there were accusations that since Hunter Biden received income from foreign sources, President Biden had to declare this and apply for being a foreign agent which he never did. Actually, millions of Americans receive dividends from international stocks and bonds, and it’s, of course, normal and legal, and no one has to declare themselves a “foreign agent.”
And third, the document that got released clearly shows its dated in 2018 – almost three years before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. So, he was a private citizen.
Those are the minor points. But all pretty substantive ones.
The big point – and it’s a Really Big One – is that not long after Mr. Comer’s document dump (an appropriate name, if ever there was one), savvy people from the sane part of the country released other documents to show that this $1,380 payment to Joe Biden was, in reality, a reimbursement from Hunter Biden to his dad who had paid for a truck for his son!!!
Yes, really. So, rather than an impeachable crime, the Republicans only served to prove that, once again, Joe Biden is a loving father.
Amusing, embarrassing and/or galling as this is, this tactic has now officially become the GOP's Standard Operating Procedure, although they’ve been fine-tuning it for years.
Most recently, for example, this manifested itself when the GOP’s TV arm Fox “News” declared in blaring headline a terrorist attack on the U.S.- Canadian border, only to have it turn out to be a tragic car accident with no explosives and no bombs involved. And now this, yesterday, the Republic chair of the House Oversight Committee, tells you of a supposedly impeachable crime -- that turns out to be a dad being reimbursed for a car loan to his son.
And when I say “tells you,” I mean it literally. Mr. Comer didn’t merely just release the document, he tweeted to the American public about it, and included a video of him swaggering with his supposed big scoop – about a father helping out his son. Here’s his tweet. I decided not to include the video of him telling you all about it and more because it had so many lies, I was too sickened by it. And this is the holiday season of good cheer.
On the other hand, I did decide that this video is not only worth posting, but valuable because – almost more than anything – it shows the depth of insane lying that has truly become S.O.P for the GOP. And “insane lying” is not hyperbole. It’s Republican Party chair Rona Romney McDaniel telling a Fox reporter about the “Biden White House” literally “suppressing” material about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election, keeping that material from the American public. The only problem with that – and I’m sure most of you are well-ahead of me here – is that before the 2020 election, it was the Trump White House, because Joe Biden hadn’t been elected yet.
So, I realized I had to post the video of her because otherwise not everyone might believe me. Take it away, Rona –
So, that then is today's fascist GOP's modus operandi. And it's a pattern that has been going on for years. Try to make you distrust reality and the truth by crying out blatant, regularly-disprovable lies that only later become discredited after the lies first become the headline and part of the base's talking points.
Sort of like, y'know -- HEADLINE: "Trump said the election was rigged. 'I really won.'" And the Jan. 6 protestors were really Black Lives Matter and Antifa -- and the FBI. And the pizza restaurant has a secret, human trafficking, Democratic headquarters in the basement. And Paul Pelosi was having an affair with his brutal attacker. And...and on and on it goes. To non-existent terrorist attacks and truck loan repayments. And more. So many that the easily-debunked stories pile so high that you forget all those buried underneath because new ones fly by before you can catch your breath. Hoping that one will stick to the wall -- though not really caring if it does or not. The Big Lie is all that matters.
Seriously, how many times does the Chicken Little Party get to cry out and try to scare you that the sky is falling, when it only got hit in the head by an acorn.
Who knew that getting hit in the head by an acorn could cause so much brain damage.
We have a longer version of the Fest today. Bear with me a bit and let me explain. I've posted this all before and I find it a fun story of sorts to repeat.
When the movie musical Scrooge was released in 1970, I remember reading an article about the film's composer-lyricist-screenwriter (and executive producer) Leslie Bricusse (who earlier had teamed with Anthony Newley to write the stage musicals Stop the World - I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd, and the next year would write the score to the movie musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). In the piece, Bricusse said that they'd done research and discovered that among all the Christmas carols written, there had never been one actually titled, "A Christmas Carol." So, he wrote one, which begins the film over the wonderful opening credits by the great artist, Ronald Searle (who also did the credits for, among other films, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.)
I mention all this, though, for a specific reason. Bear with me.
Here's that song first, however, and those wonderful opening credits.
As I said, I mentioned all of that above for another reason entirely.
It's that as good a film as Scrooge is, Bricusse's research staff was lousy. Because 14 years before, in 1956, there was a live TV musical version of A Christmas Carol that was called The Stingiest Man in Town and starred the legendary film actor, best known as playing Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone as Scrooge. And the very first song in the show was called -- yes, you guessed it -- "A Christmas Carol."
The music for the show was written by Fred Spielman, with lyrics by Janice Torre. It's not remotely distinguished or memorable, but has quite a few very nice things in it. And there, right at the top, first thing, is a song, "A Christmas Carol." A live musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol on American television doesn't seem like a terribly challenging thing to track down for a research staff working on a movie musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
So, continuing our holiday theme of unknown Christmas songs from musicals, here is the earlier song, "A Christmas Carol," sung by The Four Lads. It's short, less than a minute, but whatever its length the name of the song is "A Christmas Carol." That the researchers couldn't find. But we think you fine folks deserve better... Which is why this also isn't the end of the post here. Because there's another one coming. And it's a joy. But here's that other song first --
Note: Though the person posting this put up a screen shot that say's "A Christmas Carol," it is from The Stingiest Man in Town.
And yes, there's more...
In 1959, which is only 11 years before the movie musical Scrooge was made (and three years after the TV musical above), the wonderful Tom Lehrer released his classic comedy album, An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer -- which included a song titled...yes, you guessed it -- "A Christmas Carol."
And again, Tom Lehrer was not remotely an unknown entertainer and songwriter. It fact, as popular as An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer was when it was released, he was probably around the height of his popularity in 1970 when the film Scrooge hit the theaters. His huge hit album, That Was the Year That Was had been released in 1965, only five years before Scrooge. So, how on earth those researchers missed these two songs -- and for all I know there are more, and even high-profile ones -- I have no idea.
Happily, we have this song to enjoy, as well...
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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