The Funny Side

We are about 14 months away from The Big Day, and this is already shaping up to be the weirdest and most absurd election in a turtle’s lifetime.  So, let’s start a thread on the funny side.

My first offering:  something posted by Jeb Lund of the G., a promising new addition to their team.  He write a decent schtick.  This was his takedown of the inept campaign of one Scotty Walker, Gov. of Wisconsin this past weekend.  The theme is:  if you are this bad at the thing, just stop!


As a followup, the HuffPost’s Jason Linkins, who also can craft a sentence, had this up today:

This was ‘he reversed himself yet again, it’s a definite habit’, with hilarity ensuing.  Walker’s staff have corrected and reversed his stupid remarks on almost every major issue.  First he was for a wall on the Canadian border . . . then, not.  First he was for repealing the 14th Amendment . . . then, not.  Now he will NOT answer any more pesky questions  . . . then, he is, again.

The 2012 edition of Mitt Romney was not as bad (well, almost . . . but not as bad) about this.

Scotty is setting a new standard.

So cheer up.  Enjoy the show.  These guys are running the finest comedy tour of recent years.




it’s downhill from here

So one day the comment feature on all The Daily Beast articles just vanished—poof!—and was replaced with a little “How do I comment?” link.

To this;

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 8.45.14 AM

So far as I know Tomasky’s increasingly delusional columns at TDB were the only reliable place to occasionally run across Rip and 9mile, and even tommydog and KevinNevada now and then.

That the Beast would abandon their Livefyre comment platform— absolutely the worst fucking mess I’ve ever seen in terms of functionality and aesthetic appeal—comes as no surprise. And I suppose since the Beast is still losing money hand over fist (so far as I can discover, anyway) it’s understandable that they’d want to cut whatever the costs of maintaining that system were.

But there’s a trend here too, I think.

I just the other day noticed that Firedoglake, which used to have a robust comment culture populated by a committed crowd of participants not unlike Comment is Free back in its early days (Tomasky was in on that gig too, of course) has closed up shop and their URL now redirects to something called “Shadowproof”, a site which also has abandoned any in-house commenting architecture in favor of Facebook, Twitter and Disqus interfaces.

I’m not savvy enough to understand what’s going on, except in general terms I assume this is all just more churning as various online enterprises wiggle around trying to figure out how not to hemorrhage money forever. I’ve never owned a computer that’s ever been connected to Facebook even for an instant, nor will I. Disqus won’t even load for us satellite users most of the time, though as a comment platform it’s fairly workable. Twitter is just so whacko and intolerable and such a time-suck that I haven’t even looked at it in more than a year, and I tried to find a way to discover value in it, I really did.

So none of those “options” have any appeal for me at all.

There’s still a little fun to be had on the Guardian’s comment platform, and some of the old halfway sane Comment is Free crowd are still there giving it their best shot. But I don’t know how many of these online media operations make any money at all, if in fact they do, and I sure don’t understand how they do it. I mean, are there actual internet users who don’t use AdBlocker and the other available (and free!!) browser plug-ins? I haven’t seen an ad on any site I’ve visited hardly at all in I don’t know how long.

I don’t get it. I suppose they can monetize email addresses they get when  folks register with some of them, but I can’t think even a million or so email addresses would be worth all that goddam much, certainly not enough to run a high volume media website with, you know, actual employees and shit.

But hey, what do I know?


Anyway, the Beast’s comment culture sucked, and Tomasky has degenerated into an unimaginative beltway drone continuing, I remain suspicious, to trawl for a job with a future Clinton administration. But I’ll still miss the occasional visit with the usual suspects.

and in local news…

….just down the road apiece in Grand Junction to be exact, we have a tribute to Donald the Dragon Slayer® in the form of a billboard some dipshit cartoonist has put up. Christ on a crutch, here it is;

This kind of thing is catnip to the voters in Grand Junction and Mesa County.

This kind of thing is catnip to the voters in Grand Junction and Mesa County.

Grand Junction is where they sent Sarah Palin to campaign when she was McCain’s running mate, after, that is, she had unnerved all the campaign staff by going off the reservation with the “palling around with terrorists” thingummy. They knew the fine folks in GJ and Mesa County, or the media there,  are not the kind of people who would embarrass Palin with any difficult questions and would dance with delight at her “message”.

Hell, Mesa County would dance with delight at a speech by David Duke for that matter, who, as it turns out, has now declared Trump to be “the best candidate out there”.

Anyway, the culprit here is one Paul Snover, who has previous form in the roadside political cartooning biz.

Snover, with the financial backing of Arvid Mosmes, are known for their controversial political depiction of President Obama in a billboard put up in Grand Junction during the 2010 election season. The previous sign was criticized as racist, and portrayed the president as a Muslim, a homosexual and a Mexican bandito.

All of which places Brother Snover dead center in Trump’s targeted demographic, which he confirmed for us all when he told KREX NewsChannel 5 that people are too easily offended nowadays, and;

“The first amendment allows us to say such things and present such things, and I think we have been stifled many times and many ways with political correctness,”

My assumption has been all this while that Trump will flame out at some point because the kind of restraint and at least a modicum of decorum normally demanded by marathon political campaigns are not exactly his specialty. But now I’m starting to think all those “rules” no longer apply. He’s tapped into something big and the rest of the GOP field is basically trapped into reacting to his latest pronouncements. Anything and everything that any other candidate says is reported and analyzed as it relates to “Trump’s position on the issue”. In a field of candidates this big (what is it now, 16? 17? Who cares anymore?) this is really quite extraordinary.

He throws a Mexican journalist out of his press conference and is widely applauded for it.

He invites the guy back in for an extended exchange in which he masterfully makes the journalist look (to Trump’s growing fan base that is) shrill and hostile in demanding specifics, and then exhibits what will be perceived as patience and respect without once actually providing a single specific of any kind at all. And then he’s widely applauded for that too.

The guy is good.

This could get mighty interesting.

here we go, then…

It’s inevitable that the increasingly lunatic tone of our political discourse—and “discourse” is definitely not the right word but our politics is rapidly approaching that blessed place which some Chinese guy described as the place where the chariot of words has no more tracks upon which to run—will engender all kinds of weird and predatory behavior. People are going to get hurt.

So this is what political "passion" looks like nowadays, huh Donald?

So this is what political “passion” looks like nowadays, huh Donald? Scott and Steve Leader.

Exhibit A;

The homeless man was lying on the ground, shaking, when police arrived early Wednesday. His face was soaked, apparently with urine, his nose broken, his chest and arms battered.

Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed the 58-year-old as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic. One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The Donald, as odious a piece of shit as you could ever wish to find, knows exactly what he’s doing and knows exactly how to respond to this kind of thing. And there will be more of it as the xenophobia needle gets pushed deeper into the red zone. Most politicians would jump through all kinds of hoops to distance themselves from an issue like this with a lengthy condemnation full of words like “disgusting”, “inexcusable”, “sickening” and so on, but The Donald is way too smart for that. He’ll own it, even embrace it, then he’ll “explain” it and his “followers” will lap it up;

Trump, told of the alleged assault, said “it would be a shame . . . I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

It’s a “shame”. But hey, you know what? My followers are passionate, and their love of this country is overwhelming,  so what can you do? Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few heads eggs, right?

We’re in for one hell of a ride between now and next November, and it’s going to be very, very ugly.

greece, again

Back in 2011, and boy how time flies, we did a whole crapton of posts on Greece and the Eurozone. Basically the thrust of every single one of them was summed up nicely by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones in a nifty piece that’s worth reproducing verbatim here.

So, one more time, just as we did it here back on November 2, 2011.

Here it is;

Are the Greeks crazy?

No, they’re just at the end of their tether. Europe is asking them to adopt more austerity than they’re willing to bear.

Okay, but they’re spending too much money. Surely they know they have to cut back?

Now what, Angela? If Greece goes down, so do a lot of German banks. Then you get to bail them out instead of Greece. The German electorate is gonna just love that either way, right?

Sure, but the deals on offer are pretty unattractive. Europe wants to forgive half of Greece’s debt and put them on a brutal austerity plan. The problem is that this is unrealistic. Greece would be broke even if all its debt were forgiven, and if their economy tanks they’ll be even broker.

But that’s the prospect they’re being offered: a little bit of debt forgiveness and a lot of austerity.

Well, them’s the breaks.

But it puts Greece into a death spiral. They can’t pay their debts, so they cut back, which hurts their economy, which makes them even broker, so they cut back some more, rinse and repeat. There’s virtually no hope that they’ll recover anytime in the near future. It’s just endless pain. What they need is total debt forgiveness and lots of aid going forward.

That doesn’t sound like a very attractive option for the rest of Europe.

No, it’s not.

So maybe they should just let Greece default and wash their hands of them.

Here’s the thing, though: Greek debt is largely held by German banks that made the loans. [See update below.] If Greece has been irresponsible, so were the German banks that happily loaned out the money. So if Greece defaults, the banks go kablooey. But they’re too big to fail, which means the German government would be forced to bail them out. And guess where the bailout money comes from? Tax dollars.

This means that German taxpayers have a bleak choice. They can shovel lots of money to Greece to keep them from defaulting, or they can refuse, and then shovel lots of money into German banks to keep them from collapsing. Either way, German taxpayers are going to foot the bill. They just haven’t quite accepted this in their gut yet, and it’s hard to blame them. They’re pretty badly screwed no matter what.

Hmmm. Given that choice, they might decide they’d rather give their money to German banks than to Greek civil servants. What happens then?

Greece defaults. And that almost certainly means that Greece exits the euro.


It’s the growth thing again. If Greece defaults, nobody will loan them any money. That means huge cutbacks, which means the economy will tank, which means even more cutbacks, etc. The traditional way out of this spiral is a massive devaluation of your currency. But Greece doesn’t have a currency. It has the euro.

So if they want their economy to grow again, they have to (a) default, (b) exit the euro and readopt the drachma, and (c) devalue the drachma. This will cause massive amounts of pain, but it will also make Greek exports super cheap, which will eventually revive their economy.

So why not just let that happen?

It’s just too catastrophic to consider. German banks, of course, would collapse and have to be bailed out. Ditto for banks in other countries that have lots of exposure to Greek debt. But that’s not the worst of it. If Greece exits the euro, it will become terrifyingly obvious that other weak countries might exit too. Portugal, Spain, and Italy are the obvious candidates. Investors, spooked at the thought of their money being stuck in a country that might exit the euro and devalue all its bank deposits, would start huge runs on banks in those countries. The ECB would have to intervene and provide liquidity without limit. It would be a disaster.

So exiting the euro can’t be allowed?


But if there’s no exit, there’s no devaluation, and Greece is pretty much screwed forever.


So who wins?

It depends on who blinks. Exiting the euro would be no picnic for Greece. But they could decide it’s better than endless indenture and threaten exit in order to get a better deal from the Germans. Then the Germans have to decide whether to call their bluff.


Exactly. Wow. Everyone knows that somebody’s going to lose a huge pile of money over this. What’s really happening right now is a very high-stakes negotiation to figure out just how the losses are going to be parceled out. Stay tuned.

My own addendum to Drum’s excellent explainer was as follows;

Like I said, this is about Greece accepting the impossible so as to keep the confidence fairy on life support with regard to Italy, Spain and Portugal. And the idea of a democratic referendum impinging on those plans has the money wranglers running around like spooked church mice.

And they were running around like scared mice, and back then they didn’t get their referendum.

But just yesterday they sure did, and so now it comes to this; does Germany decide to support a  bail out for Greece in a manner which would actually allow Greece to build a working economy (which would necessitate reeling much of the punitive austerity back in), or do they (along with quite possibly France and Switzerland) end up having to bail out their “too big to fail” banks if Greece defaults completely and exits the Euro?

Imagine that. Who could possibly have seen this coming?

it’s a ‘bomination

Here’s the thing, we all know there’s a bunch of whackos in Congress and DeeCee generally, but what gets a lot less attention in the media is the whacko density in State Legislatures from coast to coast. Bulletheads like this South Carolina state Senator Lee Bright are much, much more commonplace there;

“I watch the White House be lit up in the abomination colors! …. It is time for the church to rise up. It’s time for the state of South Carolina to rise up. Romans Chapter 1 is clear, the Bible is clear. This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and they are under assault by men in black robes who were not elected by you….

…..We can rally together and talk about a flag all we want but the devil is taking control of this land and we’re not stopping him!”

It’s gonna be a long hot summer, folks.


breakfast epiphanies

Here’s a headline you don’t see everyday, more’s the pity, concerning the breakfast specials at Sam’s Morning Glory Cafe in south Philly;

Morning Glory Diner’s “Scalia is a Douche” breakfast special sells out in record time…


Antonin Scalia, culinary muse

According to the owner of the Morning Glory Diner, Carol Mickey, one of the staff members, Sean Gaittens, comes up with the weekend specials every Friday, and he originally suggested the Scalia menu item as a joke. Then on the menu it went as the  “Scalia is a Douche”— scrambled eggs with andouille sausage, tomato, scallions and monterey jack cheese. Took off like a rocket, by all accounts;

There was enough sausage to make around 150 of the dish, and it was so popular on Saturday that it sold out by 10 AM on Sunday morning, within two hours of the doors opening.

Hell, that ain’t nothin’;

“The Supreme Court Finally Got It Right” quiches — with tomatoes, prosciutto, spinach and brie or all veg with asparagus, onion and smoked mozz — sold out even more quickly.

This is so totally a 9thousandfeet kinda story—it has almost everything this place is about; politics, law,  food, humor, irreverence. Oh, and the only business model (and motto) that’s worth a damn.

Discussing it later that evening, Mickey’s husband did ask her if she was afraid of offending anyone, to which she replied that she was not — if someone was offended, she didn’t need them as a customer (the restaurant’s motto is “Be nice or leave”).

“Not one single person complained,” she told Billy Penn on Sunday afternoon. “The atmosphere in here was really wonderful. People were just loving saying it! ‘I’ll have the Scalia is a Douche, please.’”

sunday services

Well, not services exactly, but a nifty little collection of pearl-clutching by some of the usual suspects about the likely results of the Supreme Court so recklessly poking god in the eye.

Gotta say, though, that I saw three brand spanking new Stars and Bars battle flags flying in front yards on my way into town yesterday. Those are new additions on top of the normal background count of three or four Stars and Stripes and one Gadsden on that particular 30 mile stretch of highway.