The Widdershins

The rule in debating public policy is, “If you are explaining, you are losing.”  Be advised, this is a “losing post.”Understanding

Everyone is busy.  We only have so much time.  IMHO, we all use shorthand to communicate.  If the time available doesn’t afford a thorough explanation, it is understanding that is shortchanged.  There are plenty of examples.

These days when someone says “voting rights,” top of the mind automatically associates voter identification laws.  In reality, voting rights also refers to extended voting hours, absentee balloting issues, registration, weekend voting, and a host of other topics that have been subsumed into “voting rights”.

The same is true for Planned Parenthood.  Top of the mind associates the organization with abortion when that is barely three percent of the services it provides to women, most notably poor women without a secondary source of reproductive health care.

Acorn, community organizing, election finance, Obamacare, entitlements are all topics that are shorthand capstones for massively intricate webs of complexity.

Shut your face, know your placeWe “libruls” often unwittingly fall into this ruse.  It is not a sin of commission, but one of convenience.  Unwittingly, we are assisting those who are enemies of progressive issues.  This shorthand vocabulary is about to go into overdrive as we wend our way into 2016.

An issue that is sure to be saddled by this abbreviated understanding is the Black Lives Matter movement.  Originally, the BLM movement was and still is a concerted effort to draw attention to the killing of young men of color, but BLM is much more.  Its purpose is to draw attention to institutionalized prejudice, to de facto bigotry, to unprecedented incarceration rates, to overly aggressive policing and tactics in disadvantaged neighborhoods, to looking beyond the mere economic effects of discrimination, to rebuilding neighborhoods and voting empowerment.  While I don’t understand the BLM strategy of attacking those sympathetic with its policy positions, those decisions seem to be local ones and the overall motivations seem to be pure.

The simplistic rejoinder of, “All lives matter,” while true, is a backhanded effort to undermine the effort by subtly implying racist overtones.  BLM has not once implied that one set of lives is superior to another.  It is those who seek to impugn BLM who conflate the two slogans – and everyone readily overlooks those six words, with four of the words being the same, are merely slogans.Life is worth

These facts are dismissed and overlooked.  Why?  BLM is a tangible reminder of a truth that scares the bejesus out of a dwindling white majority power structure.  That truth is declaring war upon demographics is like declaring war on gravity.  In the end, gravity will win and any success in beating it back is only temporary.

This delegitimizing of BLM has risen to a fever pitch with the senseless killing of two police officers in the last few days.  The usual suspects who fan the fires of fear and resentment are behind these efforts – Fox, Breitbart, Limbaugh, Hannity.

There is something that bedevils me and it is this:  How neither side of this argument seems to understand there is no monopoly on grief?  There is plenty of grief for the getting.  The killing of young black men inspires grief just as does the killing of police officers visits horrible suffering on their families.  Victims are equally dead and there is no “who hurts worse” or “who grieves better” scorecards.

To fan the fires of resentment and fear, these murders have already taken on a shorthand vocabulary.  For instance, Breitbart only refers to “black on white” crimes as race murders, while “white on black” crime is given short shrift as random acts of derangement.

This thinly veiled bigotry is at the heart of the “Summer of Trump.”  The “stuttering triple P” poll found:

Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim… 61% think Obama was not born in the United States… and 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship.

Trump’s beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States.

MLKInstitutionalized bigotry will always be buttressed by the very institutions hosting the prejudice.  What we know from decades of research is that unless change is affected at the granular level, through outreach like BLM in cooperation with police departments and cities, there will be no significant improvement.  Everyone should be encouraged to put their shoulder to the plow.  As we have seen this summer, broken people break things and hurt people will hurt people.

Aspiring to such an elementary understanding isn’t on par with Johnson’s Great Society, but it sure would go a long way in making the society we have a much better one.

Your thoughts on any subject are welcomed and encouraged.

Happy Monday, all. What with all the triumphalist rhetoric Fox News is spewing about how the Democrats are panicking and tanking, it can be very difficult to keep our heads on straight with regard to Hillary’s chances in 2016. OMG her poll numbers are slipping! OMG what if Biden runs?! OMG Jeb Bush is beating her!!! OMG Bernie’s going to win Iowa! These are all the memes I’m hearing.

I’d like us all to take a pause, though, and consider when the first primary vote will be cast.

Feb 1, 2016.

That’s right, folks – people are hyperventilating and freaking out over a contest that is still 6 months away from starting. I submit that there’s absolutely no reason to worry. Why? Because the Democratic Party is backing Hillary.

Hillary Clinton delivered a show of force on Friday meant to make one thing abundantly clear to Democratic leaders, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden: She is the boss.

Coming off two weeks of breathless speculation about the vice president’s ambitions, Clinton now looks like she’s nearly locked up the support of party elites, something she critically failed to accomplish in 2008.

(snip)

In a leak coinciding neatly with Clinton’s appearance in Minneapolis, Brooklyn told Bloomberg it has already secured commitments from more than 60 percent of the party’s superdelegates — those officials and leaders whose support is not tied to primary or caucus tallies. The campaign also says it is briefing the unpledged delegates to firm up support.

It’s not a field-clearing advantage; superdelegates can change allegiances and Clinton was ahead in the delegate count early in the 2008 race too. But it’s significant if it holds.

I know we’re all shocked, shocked that the Democratic Party still works like this. (insert eyeroll) Didn’t we think Barack Obama was going to Change(TM) all that? Wait, that’s right…he was the one who benefited from it in 2008. Without the superdelegates, rigging the vote count and overweighting caucuses, he would never have been the candidate in the first place. Cheating was his MO. It’s the Chicago Way, after all.

As much as I would have loved the DNC to somehow automagically become more fair and less elitist, I didn’t expect it to do so. The Party bigwigs were rewarded for their skulduggery in 2008 with 8 years of a President who raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fill their coffers.  They’re going to want to keep the flow going, and if they look at the field of potential non-Clinton candidates, it’s not exactly impressive. For example, Biden. Here’s my take on ol’ Joe: He won’t run, because to the DNC, what is his advantage over Hillary? The Democratic Party already has an experienced white candidate who is seen as centrist enough to win the general election. Biden would be as superfluous as a hairpiece on Trump’s empty noggin.

There are some choice quotes from DNC delegates about Biden in the article, too:

And it’s not just a question of electoral math for some Democrats, who bristle at the idea that the vice president could reshape the race the second he chose to get in.

“[Biden] doesn’t reach out to me for seven f—ing years and then he wants me to help him out? I don’t think so,” said Florida committeeman and Clinton backer Jon M. Ausman, lamenting the vice president’s lack of party activity compared to Bill Clinton, who invited him to the Lincoln Bedroom as president. “I don’t really give a shit. I don’t care if he gets into the race or not.”

That’s not to mention that the second Joe started campaigning, his numbers would tank due to his chronic foot-in-mouth disease.

Read the rest of this entry »

Katrina Satellite image offshore

It’s not as though I needed a reminder of what this day is.  I will most likely have it and the memories in my mind until the day I die, that is if I keep my mind and don’t slip into a senile, demented old age.  It’s all just clear as a bell.

On Friday the 26th of August 2005 I was at work in the Ops Control Center at USDA’s National Finance Center in New Orleans.  We had these big monitors at the front of the room that we could all see from our workstations.  They showed the status of the IDMS databases, the CICS online systems, and various other systems that we kept track of.  But we had one monitor that had a tv tuner attached to it and we had The Weather Channel on that one.  And what I saw on that channel began to scare me terribly.  Hurricane Katrina had already crossed Florida and was supposed to turn up the peninsula of Florida but it wasn’t doing that.  It was staying out in the Gulf and the weather people were talking about it possibly heading toward the central Gulf and perhaps Louisiana.  We already had Tropical Storm (later reclassified as a Cat 1 hurricane) Cindy pass through and we didn’t have power for two days.  The power situation was hit and miss and it was available in other parts of St. Bernard, including a hotel.  I tried talking the momster into us going there so I could leave her someplace with a.c. so I could go to work.  She refused and there was no way I could leave her in a house without a.c. by herself.

So with Cindy in mind and watching Katrina not doing what she was supposed to do, I got on the phone and started calling hotels out of the area.  Previously we had evacuated to Meridian Mississippi.  It was about 150-200 miles inland and had always worked out satisfactorily before, well out of the way of any

TIMES-PICAYUNE FILE PHOTO/TED JACKSON A cross stands out in the Mississippi River Gult Outlet at Shell Beach as part of the St. Bernard Katrina memorial.

Katrina cross in the MRGO commemorates the 180 people who died in St. Bernard parish

possible water or flooding and the hotel we used accepted pets because we had Chloe with us.  I called the place and there was “no room at the inn”.  So I had to start looking online for hotels there that were pet friendly.  I found one that looked acceptable so I called and booked us two rooms for, I think, 4 days.  We(my Dad and I) never thought as much about getting out of the path of a hurricane as much as we thought of just getting out of the immediate area.  Obviously the idea of levees being breached and floodwalls collapsing never crossed my mind.  So then I called the momster and in my sternest voice told her we had to get ready to leave for Katrina.  I was surprised when she said okay because she had watched the news on tv also.  (big sigh of relief from me!)

That evening I started boarding up windows and putting things away that were in the yard and on the

Memorial plaque with the names of those in SBP that died in the storm.

Memorial plaque with the names of those in SBP that died in the storm.

patio so there would be no flying projectiles when the winds hit.  Saturday I ran errands before getting ready to leave and then spent Saturday evening loading up the Expedition.  We left out Sunday morning and I was concerned about my neighbors because two families of them decided they would ride out the storm there.  That morning I found out  that one of families had decided to leave and that was a relief for me.  After following the news and weather I was awfully concerned about anyone staying behind.

We got to Meridian and the hotel and I was surprised at the number of Louisiana tags in the parking lot and then even more surprised when I found out that many of the people were fellow residents from “da parish”.  We watched the news as they showed Katrina hitting Louisiana and then as it moved inland.  Then we watched as it was approaching Mississippi and I realized the winds weren’t really dying down

A flooded Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette LA.

A flooded Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette LA.

much.  I found out later that winds in Meridian got up to 100 mph (I figured this out as I watched pieces of the

hotel next to us break off and fly around).  We lost power there and didn’t get it back for two days.  Meanwhile I was checking with people around the hotel to see if anyone had news from the parish.  Gradually folks started getting some news.  We knew the city had been flooded…we all sat around in shock just watching the videos that were coming in.  But then I started hearing that the levees on the MRGO that protected St. Bernard had failed.  Chalmette was flooded, with some places having water over the roofs.

The storm surge comes through the MRGO overtopping the levees.

The storm surge comes through the MRGO overtopping the levees.

In the picture above I can’t give anything for a reference except to say the tall things there are the supports for a four-laned Interstate type bridge that crosses over the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.  Obviously those are telephone poles and trees in the front.  Normally the MRGO was so placid people would go out there in flat boats to fish.

All I can say is that for days there was a bunch of people who were milling around a hotel with no power, hotter than hell , just wondering what had happened to their homes.  We were getting no news about our parish because the bigger disaster was what was happening in New Orleans.  Then news started trickling in as I wrote above.

I’m going to wrap this up with something from The Rude Pundit because writing about “the thing” as Chris Rose referred to it is not something I really want to relive again.

“I don’t wanna write about that. I’m tired of thinking about it,” said one of the Rude Pundit’s New Orleans friends when he asked the woman to post on this here blog about the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that caused the levees in New Orleans to break, allowing cataclysmic, murderous floods to ravage that place and many others. “Why does it matter that it’s been ten years? Every day is another anniversary.” Her family had lost three Katrina shrimp Boat Chalmetteor four houses between all the members. She lived a damn nightmare.

He reached out to another buddy, an old friend, a writer and photographer, who responded, “I’m just keeping my head low and not following it at all. It makes me crazy.” He meant that it depressed the hell out of him, and it was hard to blame him. He had been chased out of his home by the storm and came back to help rebuild the town. – See more at: http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2015/08/not-katrina-anniversary-post.html#sthash.NaWKKbPo.dpuf

And that’s sorta the way I feel too.  We were fortunate in that we had “only” about five to six feet of water in the house and it did not come up in a violent matter.  The house is structurally sound and is secured, just waiting there for the rebuild.

But as Rude Pundit’s friends said, “I don’t wanna talk about it”.  Sometimes wounds take forever to heal and sometimes they don’t heal at all.

When I first saw someone post this song online, after the storm, I was sitting in the Birmingham area, where I am now, and just completely broke down.  I had a bottle of Seagrams 7 near me and just started slugging the shit.  The guy wasn’t even from La, but he knew…he knew.  I sat there slugging and snuffling until I got loaded enough to fall asleep.

It’s an open thread and comment however you’d like.  And writing about this has made me have to take a half of a xanax.

Mr. Prolix here.  Sorry, but I’ve watched one too many Trump press conferences.  I now refer to myself in the third person with a gender-based honorific – you know, just in case by mistake I tune into an episode of I am Cait.spitting llama

Mr. Prolix likes to think of himself as a reasonably calm, sane human.  That is, until Mr. Prolix hears the teevee conservodroids say, “Hillary’s e-mail scandal is just like David Petraeus’ and he was charged with a crime.”

It is at this point Mr. Prolix’s head explodes.  Mr. Prolix then goes into apoplectic fits spitting at the teevee machine like a hyper-salivating llama.  It is quite the scene, a headless zombie llama spitting like a possessed pitching machine – Mr. Prolix must remember to take selfies.

Hillary and PetraeusPetraeus vs. Hillary…

Here’s the deal:  Comparing what Petraeus did to Hillary’s situation is the equivalent of comparing Mt. Everest to an anthill you see between cracks in the sidewalk. There is no comparison.  Even mentioning them in the same breath wouldn’t pass a breathalyzer test.  Let’s visit the Al Gore certified “inconvenient truth”.

First, David Petraeus was Director of the Central Freaking Intelligence Agency – the CIA.  Second, he had been engaged in a conscious scheme to leave his “sweet nothings emails” in a draft folder in a “dummy e-mail” account to avoid any possible detection.

And here’s the big difference – purple pill popping Petraeus, in furtherance of having his dolphin polished and what should have been a career ending forfeiture of his $220,000 a year pension, did this:

Petraeus and BroadwellThe FBI began investigating Petraeus after Paula Broadwell (aforementioned dolphin polisher) sent threatening e-mails to Jill Kelley, a Florida woman who knew Petraeus from his days in Tampa. Kelley, unaware of the sender’s identity, called the FBI. The bureau later traced the messages to Broadwell and uncovered explicit e-mails between her and Petraeus in an e-mail account both frequented without ever transmitting emails, but leaving draft messages in a folder.

Agents also learned that Broadwell was in possession of classified documents, triggering an investigation of how she obtained them.

The FBI searched Petraeus’s house in April 2013 and found books containing a trove of classified information in an unlocked drawer in his study. The books contained top-secret information that the Justice Department said could cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed.

That information included code words for secret intelligence programs, identities of covert officers, war strategy and deliberative discussions with the National Security Council.  (Emphasis my own.)

Sometimes even double entendres are too easy...

Sometimes even double entendres are too easy…

Petraeus took classified and highly sensitive information from secure locations.  He put it in notebooks, took it home, and left it unguarded.  And here’s the important part, he freely traded that information to someone who set out to seduce him for personal gain.  Did Mr. Prolix mention Petraeus was the Director of the freaking CIA at the time?  The CIA!

The F.B.I. was none too happy about the two-year probationary sentence Petraeus worked out with prosecutors, but those were the wages of his sin.

Now, Mr. Prolix reminds you:  When you hear the likes of Joe Scrotumborough or Sean Banality compare these two situations, don’t turn into a hyper-salivating llama like Mr. Prolix, just remember the Petraeus situation was centered on “hand to glans combat”.

The 14th Amendment and Little Bitty Babies

Okay, my third-person Trump fever has passed.Repeal the 14th

Trump has focused a great deal of white supremacist angst toward the threat presented by colicky, free-pooping babies.  Before I delve into a couple of points about the 14th Amendment, allow me, in the strongest possible terms, recommend an excellent piece of long-form journalism.  The essay is in The New Yorker about the beer-goggled allure white nationalists have with Forrest Trump.  If you have some free time, please take the time to read it.

Now, back to regular programming.

The 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War to bring citizenship to freed slaves.  It provides in part:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

Trump continues to insist there are “some of the greatest legal minds in the country” who opine that birthright citizenship is not absolute.  Stripping away the Trumpiness hyperbole, there are some legal minds advancing such thoughts, but like Yeti sightings, they are rare things.  In fact, those who hold such views freely admit they are a miniscule minority.

Carry Me HomeTheir reasoning goes something like this:

Some scholars argue the 14th Amendment allows birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants but does not require it. Therefore, Congress would be able to pass legislation without the need for a Constitutional amendment.

Peter Schuck, one of the leading scholars who has endorsed this position said, “I would say that our view on the constitutional issue is decidedly the minority view.”

The focus of the argument rests upon the words “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” to receive citizenship at birth.  If there is no mutual consent for citizenship, Congress could pass legislation limiting birthright citizenship or so the argument goes.

That is the gist of the argument.  Without belaboring it, I don’t find this issue very interesting.  The intrigue is in the subterfuge surrounding this issue.  The zeal with which some of the candidates have taken to this issue indicates there are more than just babies anchoring this all too focused interest.

If the 14th Amendment were to be repealed or amended in a significant way, let’s look at some of the things that would be either extinguished or significantly altered.  Here’s a partial list:

Abortion, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Immigration, Contraceptive Rights, Marriage Equality, Fair Housing, Non-discrimination in Education, Parental Rights, Child Visitation Rights, Rights of the Incarcerated, Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Obamacare, Right to Public Accommodations, Sexual Discrimination, Employment Discrimination, Racial Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Pregnancy Discrimination, Hate Crimes Legislation, Condemnation Rights, Land Ownership Rights, Zoning Rights, Forfeiture Rights, Federal Medical Leave Act, to name just a few.Pilgrims

From this list you can see almost all of the red meat issues for the fringiest of the fringe Right.  Is there any wonder why some of the candidates have so tightly embraced reforming the 14th Amendment?  Embraced it in a bear hug that would kill an elephant?  And let there be no doubt, it will effectively euthanize the Republican Party.

Things are not always as they seem.  Such is the case with this 14th Amendment imbroglio.

 

Any and all subjects await your comments and observations.

 

Apologies to Carly Simon, but…Carly Simon

We’re so vain, we probably think this economy is about us,
We’re so vain, we bet future swaps this economy is about us,
Don’t we? Don’t we?

A few years ago, when the Chinese economy was booming, politicians said it was an orchestrated plot to take America down.  Now that the Chinese economy is struggling desperately, those same politicians are just as convinced it is – wait for it – a plot to take America down.

The political discourse around this issue is genuinely unhelpful.  Just like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, Scott Walker snapped, “No state dinner for Xi,” the Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled for a formal state visit.  I guess the closest Benihana will have to do.  Given the impetuous inanity passing for policy, here’s what you need to know about the China Syndrome of the Chinese economy in less than 800 words.

Chinese Stock MarketChina’s stock market is relatively small.  It’s mostly mom and pop investors who have borrowed the money to buy stocks – a majority of them don’t have a high school education.  After gaining 140% last year, this year the Shanghai Composite Index has fallen 40% in the face of a tremendous amount of active intervention by the Chinese central government.  It seems as though the Politburo can’t stop the crash.

The reason all these unsophisticated investors got into the stock market was the implicit support of the Chinese Communist Party.  It appears to have been an overly optimistic act of faith in the Chinese Politburo’s economic stewardship.

With an abundance of labor, China bet the farm on being the world’s low-cost manufacturer and assembly line.  Such an economic model is not sustainable for an economy needing to grow at a double-digit multiple to service a burgeoning middle class.  The Chinese government has been notoriously optimistic in its economic forecasts (some say notoriously deceiving).  There are more than a few economists who believe the Chinese economy is on the verge of recession, if not already there.

This is how it happened:  When global demand went kaput in 2008, China decided to focus on massive domestic Empty cityconstruction projects.  There has been a massive, and I do mean massive, overbuild in China with unused stadiums, skyscrapers, and even whole cities.  They sit empty.

Add to this the relocation of 250 million Chinese from rural settings to cities in just twelve years as official state policy.  In essence, this top down policy from the Politburo turns China into a majority urban country in a dozen years.  Put another way, it would be the equivalent of relocating 5 of every 6 Americans in the span of three presidential terms.

Chinese leadership is terrified of political unrest reminiscent of Tiananmen Square.  Without sustained growth at a level sufficient to service a growing middle class, the leadership of China is at a crossroads.  At once they are both risk-willing to try just about anything to thwart economic upheaval and at the same time, risk-averse against any potential calamities resulting from their actions.

Chinese Stone SoldiersThere is a group of millennial Chinese numbering about 300 million – about the size of the total U.S. population.  This group is better educated and likes its taste of the middle class lifestyle.  The Communist Party worries most about this group.  Quelling political unrest in this group would be difficult, almost impossible, because of the nomadic nature of these 300 million workers and their widespread geographic dispersion.

In its simplest terms, the problem is transforming a manufacturing, rural economy into an urban, consumption-based economy in less than a generation.  For perspective, it took Great Britain 200 years, the U.S. 100 years, and Japan 50 years to do the same thing.

As with all instances of massive historical change, there are naysayers within the Chinese system.  China’s top-down, hierarchical structure ensures elites have control over policy and decision-making.  These traditionalists are wary of many of the enacted economic reforms.  This current economic tsunami strengthens traditionalists at the expense of reformers like President Xi Jinping.

How does this affect us?  Throughout history, when absolute control is threatened in China, it retreats back in on itself.  Hibernation of the world’s second largest economy would be the equivalent of a worldwide recession and catastrophic to our economic well-being and the world economy in general.Chinese Stone Soldiers

Even more sobering is this:  Political instability in a country with a standing army of 200 million soldiers and perhaps 3,000 nuclear warheads is indeed a worrisome thing.  This is especially true in a region where China is surrounded by emerging economies – the “if you can’t make it, take it philosophy” would indeed present existential threats.

Again, my apologies to Ms. Simon:  “Instead of clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee,” there are clouds on the horizon, clouds on the horizon.

Take the conversation in any direction you might like.

 

 

Up, Up and Away

Up, Up and Away

Good Monday to you Widdershins!

Our Madamab is swamped by work!  I think I saw a finger wiggling out from a pile of graphs, charts, handouts and the rest.  And I believe I saw a snorkel stick up out of the pile just so she could breathe!

Dear chat is sitting at home itching and scratching terribly from her case of hives

Good guy Prolix has had to retire for a day or two to rest his fingers because he has been doing the heavy lifting around here lately.

And your faithful servant here is trying to cope with the not-so-good news of the severe illness of a good friend the he went to college with!  We’re talking long times here.

So, with that in mind I went rummaging through the posts and found this hilarious one act play by our  MB and I dusted it off for today.  Do you remember all the coverage of the “balloon boy” when that goofy event occurred?  Remember all of the talking heads pontificating over “how did he do it?”, “where were the parents?”, “Is this a big hoax?”.  Now…take those same talking heads and exchange balloon boy for Hillary Clinton and email server.  It’s the same thing.  The talking heads are grasping at every little “leaked” item they can over this.  Color me surprised, but Friday I watched Bill Maher and even he says he doesn’t get what all the hubbub is about.  So, read the play and make the substitutions of Hillary and server.  You’ll find the similarities amazing.

 

This is a wide open post for any way you wish to discuss things.

line-divider

THE SCENE: A swank TV studio, with all the zoomy, whizzy lights, giant flashing screens, deep-pile royal blue carpeting, poreless, lacquered newsbots, and hysterical black-clad assistants one could ever desire. We are in the back of the studio, in the glass-enclosed center of all the action. EDITORS 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all sitting in their leather chairs, directing the action by talking to each other, pointing at their MacBooks, and shouting into their wireless headsets. They are all in their 20’s and have just been promoted after their more experienced bosses “aged out of the business.”

EDITOR 1 (swigging a Red Bull): What’s new on Twitter? We’ve gotta have something for the next segment.

EDITOR 2 (nervously): Let’s see…Demi and Ashton just tweeted…

EDITOR 3 (yawning): Oh please. They tweet when they pee!

EDITOR 4 (pushing in excitedly): Guys, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard just got bombed! A bunch of people died and that DinnerJacket guy is blaming us and the Brits! This could be the start of a huge international incident!

(A brief silence, then:)

EDITORS 1-3 (bursting into laughter): HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

EDITOR 3 (wiping tears from her eyes): Oh, that was a good one! Like anyone cares about that crap these days.

(EDITOR 4 subsides into a humiliated silence.)

EDITOR 2 (eagerly): What about Sarah Palin? Sometimes we can just say her name and people think it’s news!

EDITOR 1 (dismissively): Nahhhh, we tried that two days ago. It bombed.

EDITOR 2 (peevishly): FINE. Uh, uh…Oooooh! (points at his MacBook) Check this out!

(All the EDITORS gather around the screen.)

EDITOR 3 (finally interested): Holy shit! A kid jumped in a balloon in a back yard and it got loose?

EDITOR 2 (proud): Huh? Huh? Is this good or what?

EDITOR 1 (shouting into his headset): Listen up, people! We’ve got something. Get ready to roll in five!

EDITOR 4: This story is unbelievable! Wow, it’s…hmmm.

EDITOR 3 (dismissively): What is it NOW?

EDITOR 4: Well, just shooting it out there, but…what if the kid was never in the balloon to begin with? Or what if he was, but he’s not now? Or what if these parents are making the whole thing up?

EDITOR 1 (after a brief pause): What are you, 25?

EDITOR 4 (nervously): Uh…26.

EDITOR 1 (smugly): I figured. God, you old people just don’t understand the business any more! (gets up and starts pacing) The story’s a win-win. If it’s a hoax, we do a story about the hoax and we milk that for a week. If it’s true, boo-hoo, the kid’s dead – we milk that for a week. If the kid arrives in the balloon safely, we milk his heroic and incredible escape for a week. (suddenly shouting) DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!

(EDITOR 4 looks cowed and ashamed. EDITORS 2 and 3 look happy and superior.)

EDITOR 1 (with chilling finality): You’re fired. (sitting down, shouting into his headset) Hey! You in the black!

(ALL the assistants whirl around at the same time, with hopeful smiles on their faces.)

EDITOR 1 (annoyed): NOT YOU! The guy with the cool hair and soulpatch. Get up here, man.

(The New Guy pumps the air with his fist, then starts making his way to the glass booth as EDITOR #4 exits ignominiously. Suddenly, EDITOR #4 stops his exit, and stands in the middle of the newsroom. He exudes a quiet and desperate dignity which is compelling enough to cause a pause in all the furious activity.)

EDITOR 4: You are all a disgrace to journalism. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow are ROLLING IN THEIR GRAVES!

(He swoops out dramatically. With a shrug, the buzzing and rushing resume.)

EDITOR 3 (yawning again): What the hell was he talking about?

THE NEW GUY: Should I Google ’em?

EDITOR 2 (completely uninterested): Whatever. (looks at his MacBook, brightens) Oooh, video!

EDITOR 1 (excitedly): Send it through!

EDITOR 3 (happily):  News for a week no matter what happens. We are AWESOME!

(All the EDITORS high-five as:)

(LIGHTS OUT.)

Good morning Widdershinners!  We made it through another week where about one-eighth of the electorate believes we should be governed in some sort of reality show.  Given the coloring of Trump and Boehner, orange will indeed be the new black.

For those expecting Chat, I poked my considerable nose under the fence with this post and she kindly allowed me to go ahead with it.

Here’s hoping your week has been a good one and your weekend is even better.  And now the news…

First, some animal news… Penguins

“The worshipful treatment of pets may be the thing that unites all Americans,” wrote an Atlantic Magazine blogger in July, describing the luxury terminal for animals under construction at New York’s JFK airport. Known as the ARK, it will offer shower stalls for traveling horses (without showers, horses have long-faces), “conjugal stations” for the forever-horny penguins (who knew penguins were over-sexed), and housing for nearly 200 cows (that might produce 5,000 pounds of manure every day making politicians envious) — and passengers traveling with dogs or cats can book the Paradise 4 Paws pet-pampering resort. The ARK is a for-profit venture; said one industry source, quoted in a July Crain’s New York Business report, “You hear stories about the crazy money that rich people spend on their animals … they’re mostly true.”

Nathaniel Harrison, 38, was arrested in July in a Phoenix suburb on several charges, including possession of a deadly weapon during a felony, but he escaped an even more serious charge when a second “deadly weapon” failed to engage. Harrison reportedly intended to retaliate against a “snitch” and arrived at the man’s home carrying a rattlesnake, which he supposedly pointed at the man, hoping it would bite him. However, the snake jammed and mis-fanged – or whatever one calls such things – and Harrison’s attempted payback failed.  It was recommended to Harrison that he take his mis-fanging snake to a herpetarium, but he indignantly replied, “I don’t have a cold sore.”

HorsesThere is a definite correlation between Phoenix and kinky animal stories.  Last month, Michael Crawford, 68, was arrested when he arrived in Phoenix expecting, according to the sheriff’s office, to have sex with a horse. This raises the obvious question:  How big is the illicit horse sex trade in Phoenix that the sheriff’s office went full gallop and created a sting operation?  In any event, Crawford had allegedly posted an online ad seeking horse owners who would allow him access for brief “mount mountings”. It is unclear how the horses learned to read the personal hook-up ads.  In arranging the horse date with an undercover deputy who I’m sure is known as the Horse Whispering Pimp, Crawford volunteered that he would be bringing five shirts upon which the horse was expected to urinate and thereby serve as mementos of the trip. Nothing says true love like horse urine.  He only brought five shirts because even lovers of horses need their weekends off.

Olympic Update and a new meaning for the word “floatie”…

Race to the bathroom after the race...

Race to the bathroom after the race…

Despite repeated assurances by Olympic officials, it appears more certain than ever those 2016 boating and surfing events in Brazil’s Guanabara Bay and Rodrigo de Freitas Lake will be conducted in water so polluted with human sewage that every athlete will almost certainly be struck with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. An August Associated Press report revealed the waters’ virus levels (of fecal coliform and other viruses) are as high as 2 million times the level that would close down a California beach. One U.S. water-quality expert advised all athletes to move to Rio ahead of the games — to try to build up immunity. I never in my life thought I’d ever type or think about the words – pre-Olympic fecal training, but like with so many things, it’s just a matter of context.

LePage Quote“Mainely” Government Inaction…

Maine Gov. Paul LePage is, to put it mildly, less than popular.  On occasion, the Maine legislature has overridden the Tea Partier’s veto with a unanimous vote in both Houses of the Maine legislature – 100% of both parties.  Last month there was legislation passed to make immigrant asylum-seekers eligible for the state’s General Assistance fund.  This wasn’t to Gov. LePage’s liking and he aggressive promised to veto the bill. Unfortunately, the governor and his staff misunderstood state law believing legislation would be regarded as vetoed if he merely ignored it and failed to sign it for 10 days. According to press reports, LePage appeared stunned on the 11th day when he learned his understanding of the veto law was backward and asylum-seekers were now eligible for benefits.  This is what happens when the last time you studied government was in the eighth grade – take note Donnie Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina.

Misunderstanding the concept…

The San Diego County Fair offered something unique in the deep-fried category this year.  This was the first year of the deep-fried Slim-Fast bar. The recipe:  A 200-calorie “diet bar” breaded in pancake batter, fried, dusted with powdered sugar, and drizzled with chocolate.

Jason Patterson, upset that New Zealand’s health care administration has rejected paying for gastric bypass surgery, announced last month that he will protest publicly.  He will protest by going on a hunger strike — also known as a diet. “The first two to three days will be really hard,” he said as he makes the case for old-fashioned dieting without surgical intervention.

Science Report…Animal House

Zoologists at the University of Basel in Switzerland recently published a study in a prestigious British journal reporting the very real likelihood that a certain flatworm species has overcome the frustration of not finding a mating partner. The scientists believe the flatworm exploits its hermaphroditic qualities and injects its sperm into its own head, from which the sperm migrates to its reproductive facilities. In a related story, scientists are reasonably sure they now know where fraternity pledges come from.

Enjoy the video and consider this the gaping maw of open threads.

 

 

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