Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I’ll Have a Skim-Brained Grande Idioto — Hold the Arrogancia

This arrogant and self-deluded idiot with his fake Italian coffee
nomenclature will create a real disaster for America if we don't 
stop him.
Howard Schultz once had a bright idea — create an ersatz Italian-style (sort of) chain of cafés with their own ersatz Italian language that bears little or no relationship to meaning.

For example, “grande” or some variation thereof in any Latin-based language means big. At Starbucks, it means you’ll get the a medium size. Or is it the small size? Hard to tell which is which in the abstract, because the product names are fake Italian.

He also figured that if you were stupid enough to fork out over four bucks for forty cents worth of coffee in a paper cup, you’d also be willing to tip the poor schnook who made it for you, after you stood in line for twenty minutes. Table service like you get in real Italian cafés? What’s that? 

Schultz got rich in part by paying coolie wages and letting the customers make up for it with tips for kitchen work. I’ll tell you what I used to put in those little lucite tip boxes near the cash register before I stopped patronizing Starbucks altogether — a Post-it note saying: “Here’s the best tip you’ll ever get. Join a union.”

Meanwhile, Schultz tried to throw a sop to his downtrodden workers’ feelings of worthlessness by giving them a fake title usually awarded to beginners at law firms that pay $160,000 for employees during their first year out of school: “associates.” That’s just as meaningless as “grande.” "Sucker" is a more appropriate title. Associates at law firms make good bucks. Associates at Starbucks make coffee — when they're not swabbing the toilets.

All his fake Italian nomenclature and tight-fisted greed made Schultz a very rich man. And as F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, the rich are different from you and me. 

Or at least a whole hell of a lot of them are. (I’ll make an exception for Warren Buffet. And perhaps, but only perhaps, for Bill Gates.) 

Most really, really rich folks develop a greenbacks-fueled thought process that seems to makes them believe, “If I’m so rich, I must be smarter than everyone else.” 

Case in point #1: Donald Trump. Most recent case: Howard the ElectionWrecker.

Look, I know I come to criticizing this latest facet of American idiocy late. Half the blogs on the planet have already sounded off on Schultz and the problems he'll cause running for President as an 
"independent." But I really must join the fracas because I think it’s important to nip this one in the bud, before that egotistical idiot splits the independent vote and thus guarantees that the other big idiot, Donald Trump, will serve a second term in the White House.

Here’s what we need to do:

First — boycott Starbucks. Start now, before it’s too late. True, Schultz is no longer CEO. But guaranteed, he owns enough Starbucks stock to sink a squadron of private jets enroute to Davos. 

Starbucks closed at $67 and some pennies the day I’m writing this. If we all boycott Starbucks starting right now, if we drive the price down to, say, $47, it’ll personally make Howard many, many, many millions of dollars less rich. And earn him the opprobrium and rage of his fellow stockholders.

Second, from time to time, stick just your head in Starbucks’ door and shout a quick slogan. “Don’t be Schultz’s barista bitches. Join a union now!”

Third, remind that egotistical nincompoop (Schultz, not Trump) any way you can, every way you can, that when he splits the Democratic vote and gets Trump elected,  he will become persona non grata everywhere in America — another loser like Ralph Nader, only with greater visibility. 

People passing him in restaurants will spit on his plate. He will be booed for the rest of his life whenever he appears anywhere in public. Starbucks will lose billions in value, including his own stock. By running as an independent, he will become a pariah.

In short, let him know that he is a stugotz. Oh, pardon me. In Starbuck-ese, that’s a Stugotzi Venti Americano.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Seven Genuine Political Nightmares That You Haven’t Had Yet (But I Have)

Note: Please don’t tell me these nightmares are inconsistent with each other. These are nightmares, damnit, not legal briefs or footnoted term papers.
Ms. Gingrich wearing the
official platinum- painted steel
helmet that comes in sizes S,
M, L, and XL
  1. I have gone to sleep. I wake up because the TV is blaring that there has been a coup d’état. The good news is, Donald Trump has been deposed. The bad news is, he has been deposed by Newt Gingrich. Gingrich’s first decree is that every woman must wear a hairdo like his wife, Callista’s. Those who for reasons of incompatible hair cannot do so will be issued platinum-painted steel helmets in the shape of Ms. Gingrich’s hair. In the midst of all this, I go to the men’s room, where some nincompoop who thinks he’s playing a practical joke slaps a Calista helmet on my head. Next thing I know, I am arrested by an enraged cop bearing a strange resemblance to Mike Pence, for using the wrong bathroom.
  1. Government employees, entering their ninth year without pay, go on strike. President For Life By Popular Acclaim Trump calls out the Army to arrest them. The next day the employees go to court, insisting their arrest is illegal under the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude. Within 24 hours, working on an expedited basis, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker of the House Rick Santorum, and the Republican governors of 57 of the 60 states (California has been divided into six smaller states; Wyoming and Montana have each been divided into two, and something else happened in Texas but I forget what ) ratify the 13th Amendment’s repeal. While they are at it, they outlaw contraceptives and restore Prohibition.
  1. A big scandal arises when Ann Coulter is caught in bed with Donald Trump. Enterprising journalists discover that Rudy Giuliani has paid Melania Trump $170,000 to shut up about it. But she still keeps bringing it up with Donald, night after night, making it impossible for him to tweet.
  1. The following week, Trump is found in bed with Rudy Giuliani.
  1. While Sarah Sanders is on vacation at an evangelical summer camp, a crazed atheist activist with an icepick runs up to her and stabs her in the backside. This sets off a spurting nine foot high geyser of yellow fat that will not stop, and cannot be stopped no matter what paramedics from a nearby ambulance corps and a team of doctors attempt. The fat forms a mighty river, complete with rapids, that flows into the ocean and creates a massive bloom of purple algae that kills all sea life and also peels the paint off boat bottoms. I wake up from this nightmare feeling terribly shaken and go to the kitchen for a glass of water. However, water from the tap is full of purple algae. I then realize that waking up from the nightmare is part of the nightmare, too. I slap myself across the face several times, and finally really wake up.Then I turn on the television set. Donald Trump is still president. Now I’m not sure whether I’m still having the nightmare or not.
  1. I am at sea in a lifeboat with Mayor Bill De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, both of New York. Suddenly, a malevolent swordfish comes by and pokes a hole in the bottom of the boat with his bill. The boat begins taking on water fast. I grab an empty coffee can that for some reason has Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s picture on it, and begin to bale out the boat. It is exhausting work. I can barely keep up. Finally, panting, I tell De Blasio and Cuomo I can’t do it any more, and ask them to help. They immediately begin arguing, each insisting the other should bale out the boat. Finally, the lifeboat sinks. De Blasio and Cuomo both swim away. I start to drown. Fortunately, the swordfish comes by again, feels some remorse, and lets me climb on his back while he swims to shore. When I finally stumble onto the beach, I am personally arrested by Donald Trump on suspicion of being an illegal alien because I did not enter the country at a legal port of entry.

  1. There is a sea of humanity. A massive wave of people —tens of thousands of them — are waving placards bearing political slogans. Suddenly, Kim Jong Un parachutes from a helicopter to a platform on the Mall in Washington, D.C., carrying a big red box wrapped in festive paper and ribbons. He walks up to Donald Trump, who happens to be sitting on the platform on a folding chair, and tries to hand him the package. “Season’s greetings!” Kim says to Trump. “From now on, we’re all saying Merry Christmas,” says Trump. He folds his arms across his chest and refuses to accept the package. “Season’s Greetings, you slimebag,” Kim says. “Get ‘him out of here!” yells Trump. “Get him the hell out of here. Rough him up on the way out!” Just then, Kim presses a previously unnoticed button on the side of the box and the nuclear bomb inside explodes. Washington D.C. goes up in a mushroom cloud. When the smoke clears, the city is a flattened wasteland of ashes and rubble. Just then, a manhole cover in the street is pushed up from below. Mitt Romney climbs out of the hole and declares himself President.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Brave editor of The Storm Lake, Iowa, Times takes a strong stand. Well, okay, only sort of a strong stand. Well, honestly, just a stand. Well, actually not so much of a stand. Umm, would you believe TWO stands?

The editor here seems to change identities when he writes
 op-ed pieces for the other Times, the one in New York
I learned while I was still a college student that editing a small town newspaper is like walking a tightrope 50 feet off the ground, while balancing a flaming pinwheel on your nose.

I was educated to this fact of life by osmosis. I edited a college newspaper that was job printed by the local weekly in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Whenever I went downtown to the weekly, to read galleys, or check on layout problems, or deliver copy and engravings, or to pick up copies of the paper on Friday night and haul them back to campus, I watched the two owners of the weekly, Keith Howard and Ken Champney, sweat out their own newspapering problems.

There’s a big problem at small town papers. The people you write about are not only your subscriber base, but often also your advertiser base. Denounce the local asshole who’s running for town council on a platform that he’ll arrest people for using birth control, and there goes one precious subscription and $3,000 a year worth of advertising from the asshole’s seed and animal feed depot. Favor Obamacare and you’ll never display a used car ad from Catastrophe Cal the Car Trader again.

The Internet has only made matters worse. Now in addition to balancing that flaming pinwheel on your nose, you have to ride the tightrope on a unicycle, and the tightrope is getting frayed.

In Yellow Springs, Ohio, it was sometimes even worse than that even well before the Internet. I remember being told that on occasion, in the late 1940s or early 1950s, pacifist publisher Keith, and Ed the local feed mill operator, a right wing zealot, would set out on a collision course from opposite ends of Xenia Avenue, the main drag. 

Swiped from the Yellow Springs News 
The annual knockdown. When they met face-to-face, Ed would knock Keith to the ground. Keith would then pick himself up, brush himself off, head to the police station, and swear out a warrant against Ed. It was an annual ritual for a while, I was told. Sort of like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in grade school,  or fireworks on the 4th of July.

Keith and Ed have long since passed on, Keith most assuredly to that great small town news room in the sky; Ed, I wouldn't be surprised, to a stinking pit in hell reserved for remorseless right wing Republicans. Ed's son is now Ohio Congressman Mike DeWine. And the Yellow Springs News is still going strong — now the work product of six women, two men, and a  large shaggy dog named Destiny the News Hound. 

So I was heartened when I saw in the New York Times what appeared to be a bit of honest, straight-ahead reporting on racist Republican Congressman Steve King’s prospects for re-election — written by Art Cullen, editor of the Storm Lake (Iowa) Times, paid circulation 3,386, in King’s Congressional district.

I don’t know if Storm Lake has a diner, but since he’s not a visiting fireman from Big City Journalism, Inc.,  Cullen didn’t need one. Like any good small town editor, he knew exactly where to find the local dog groomer, the woman who “proudly plants a huge red ‘KING’ sign every two years in her yard along Lake Avenue, the main drag,” and the local Snapper dealer. (For some mystified city slickers, let me explain that a Snapper dealer would be the guy who likely sold you your new tractor or riding mower.)

Relentlessly, each person Cullen quoted stood by their Steve, evidently mystified that language from King that shrieked “White Supremacy” to the rest of the world had any negative connotation at all. On the contrary, it meant to them that Steve is the kind of guy who “tells it like it is.”

Cullen’s conclusion? While there are some rivals to King in the wings, including a Democrat, “…from the sounds I’m hearing, Mr. King has not exhausted his appeal.”

Okay, fair enough. That one half-sentence at the end makes this an op-ed piece. Other than that, it’s an non-judgmental report on a newsworthy topic, and Cullen is an unbiased reporter in the heart of the heartland. Or so I thought.

Feeling delighted, I searched for the Lake County Times on the Internet, hoping for more unbiased, insightful reporting from the heart of Real America. What I found instead, was a very different take, on the same matter, from the same journalist. Cullen wrote:
With respect, we disagree with our friends at The Des Moines Register and Sioux City Journal who this week called on Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, to resign over his remarks involving white supremacy, white nationalism and western civilization, as it were. They argue that he is not fully representing the Fourth Congressional District because the House Republicans just stripped him of his agriculture and judiciary committee assignments, and that his statements do not reflect mainstream Iowa values. 
King should not resign. He was just re-elected in November to a ninth term with everyone knowing full well what his views were on race and culture. Nobody should be suddenly shocked. Voters took all this into account before casting their ballot. Perhaps nothing is better known about King than his views on Latino immigrants. 
In fact, the government is shut down because President Trump took up King’s long crusade to build a wall that spans the US-Mexico border and has made a national crisis out of it. This is what the people voted for. 
King losing his committee assignments is inconsequential in a House controlled by Democrats.
And so on, and so forth. The gist is, as I interpret it, “Hey, we voted for more racism, so damnit, we’re entitled to more racism.”

While Cullen (whose publisher, by some coincidence is also named Cullen)…while Cullen presents the face of impartiality to the big city, he presents the face of a King supporter to his local readers. 

The way I count ‘em, that’s two faces.

Or to put a bit more tolerantly, Cullen gets to present us city slickers with his straight-shootin' reporter credentials, and to keep his Snapper dealer's advertising, too.

And I'm still counting. And that's still two faces.

Monday, January 14, 2019

“Nice country ya got heah, youse Democrats. Be a shame if somethin’ happened to it.” — Donald Trump

Donald Trump is in effect holding the entire nation hostage and
blaming it on the Democrats. It's no different than kidnapping
for ransom. Lock him up.

“The Democrats are stopping us and they’re stopping a lot of great people from getting paid,” says Donald Trump.


Trump says it’s the fault of Democrats that parts of the government are slowly grinding to a halt, and government workers aren’t getting their salaries. Which means, he’d have you believe that it’s not because he refuses to sign a budget which would authorize their pay.

He blamed the Democrats after he prevented Mick Mulvaney and the rest of his staff “from negotiating on his behalf to compromise on his demand for $5.7 billion for border wall funding,” that would entice him to sign off on the rest of the budget, reports the New York Times.

“He castigated Mr. Mulvaney for proposing a compromise figure between Mr. Trump’s desired $5.7 billion for a wall and the Democrats offer of $1.3 billion for border security, as a way to end the shutdown,” the Times also says.

And he shot down a proposal made by Senator Lindsey Graham, to re-open government temporarily “in an effort to jump-start talks with Democratic lawmakers on funding a border wall. " 

In other words, when Trump says the Democrats are refusing to negotiate, what he really means is that either they capitulate to precisely what he demands, on his terms, without compromise, or he will bankrupt thousands of innocent government workers, and also endanger millions of other innocent Americans, whose lives, and futures, and health are being destroyed by the Trump Shutdown. If need be, he will destroy the nation to get his wall. 

What it boils down to is, “Do what I tell you or somebody’s gonna get hurt."

They used to arrest, try, and imprison criminals who pulled similar stunts. And then throw away the key.

Somehow, Trump’s behavior also brings to mind the 1973 kidnapping of oil billionaire J. Paul Getty’s sixteen year old grandson. The boy was held hostage for five months, while the kidnappers demanded $17 million.

In a typical “look what you made me do” gesture that characterizes thugs like Donald Trump who hold other people hostage, they chopped off one of the boy’s ears and mailed it to a Rome newspaper when Getty refused to pay. It was all Getty’s fault, the crooks said. He should have coughed up exactly what they asked for.

Now the President of the United States is kidnapping our government workers’ paychecks — and with them our national security and our economy — to satisfy his own egotistical demands. 

Sooner or later, the folks who work for the Coast Guard, the people who inspect our food, the air traffic controllers, the people who track hurricanes and blizzards for us, the people who protect us from epidemics, and many others will quit and go to work elsewhere to hold body and soul together.

When that happens, ordinary citizens will begin to die from eating tainted food like lettuce and shell fish. Small businesses will go bankrupt. People will drown because they didn’t know a storm was coming. Airliners full of people will either crash, or will fail to take off, crippling not only the airlines, but all the forms of commerce that depend on airlines. Drug and arms smugglers will have a field day landing contraband on shorelines no longer guarded by the Coast Guard. We will suffer from epidemics of diseases like Ebola as the Centers for Disease Control goes on hiatus. And that would be just the beginning.

In our country we’ve historically detested hostage-takers. And our own government never pays ransom, because we know that if the hostage-takers succeed just once, they'll do it again and again.

That's why we search them out, wherever they are. If they’re at home, we throw them in prison for life. If they’re abroad, we shoot them, bomb them, or spirit them away to places like Guanatanamo and let them rot there.

Now our entire nation is being held hostage by the thug in the White House.

So let me ask you. What should be done about Donald Trump?

Monday, January 07, 2019

In just a few years, when humanity is done destroying itself and its habitat, the disgusting shall inherit the earth

Bet your money on the future of cockroaches. 
Not that you’ll be around to collect.
Okay, let’s deal with it. When it comes to climate change and the horrors that climate is about to wreck on the human race, humanity's collective response is one enormous, crawling, filthy mass of Donald Trump-like yawns.

Yeah sure, many of us, maybe even most of us talk a good line. But like the Trumpster, our attention span is too short, our adoration of bright shiny toys like zippy automobiles is too great, the threat of extinction seems too remote for our feeble imaginations.

So let me be the six-zillionth person to lay it out for you again. Briefly:
  • Your islands and many of your cities will be underwater. If you try living in them, you’ll drown. Shanghai, Bangladesh, most of the peninsula that is Florida, even big chunks of New York City are goners. What’s that you say? You think you’re safe because you have an apartment on a high floor of a skyscraper? So what! The wires that deliver power to your apartment and to the elevator will be shorted out and corroded away in salt water. You may be able to use your window ledge as a diving board and take a nice refreshing swim, but then you’ll have no way to get back into your apartment, which because of the flood waters will have no electricity, no air conditioning, no heat, no refrigeration.
  • And don’t tell me you can always go fishing. Clobbered by a quadruple threat of warming waters that kill off marine life, overfishing, chemical pollution and garbage pollution, the oceans of the world are becoming to edible protein what the Sahara Desert is to forests. Already, blooms of toxic algae fed by pollution and high water temperatures, are not only killing off fish population, but also making it unsafe to swim.
  • If you think refugee immigration is a problem now, wait until most of Latin America and Africa become uninhabitable.  The deserts will spread from the equator out. As people who once scratched a living in equatorial places discover they can no longer live there, guess where they’ll flee to. "Caravans?" You ain't seen nothing yet.
  • You may die of suffocation. Scientists aren’t talking about this yet, so far as I know, but I suspect that as the “earth’s lungs” — the Amazon jungle and other rain forests — give way, and carbon dioxide levels mount, you’re going to have trouble breathing. Or even staying awake to observe yourself slowly smothering to death, since CO2 also makes you sleepy.
See, no matter how you look at it, humanity is a pest species. We destroy environments. We directly or inadvertently murder other species. We foul the air and the water. We are to the rest of life as cockroaches are to us —  repulsive, filthy, annoying, lethal pests, spreading death and destruction to other species in the short term self-interest of our own. 

And now that our population has expanded to nearly the breaking point, the irony is that the one species likeliest to adapt to, survive, and thrive in the mess of waste and filth we have created is the species that we consider pests — the cockroach family.

Cockroaches have been around for about 140 million years. Moreover, antecedent cockroach-like bugs were  crawling and creeping around 300 million years years ago. That’ s one hell of a lot longer than, say, dinosaurs. The oldest of those lizards dates back a piffling 50 million years.

For a while you may be able to survive by eating cockroaches. Yes, they’re infested with dangerous bacteria. Yes, they also carry fatal viruses. But they’re also full of crunchy protein and minerals, plus a little bit of water, and if you’re hungry enough and they’re the only meal option, trust me, you’ll be holding Thankscockroach Day feasts at Grandma's house. 

But in the end, they’ll eat us. The little buggers keep evolving. There are thousands of species today. Some crawl. Some hiss. Some fly. In the suburbs of Houston they call ‘em “Palmetto Bugs,” perhaps because now and then they have the habit of dropping out of palmetto trees into passing baby carriages. There are said to be thousands of species, in part because they keep evolving to adapt to whatever nature, or human vermin, throws at them. 

Below there’s a palmetto bug porn video. (The palmetto bug is evidently also known as the Florida woods cockroach.) Don’t get too excited. All the photographs are stills. And this isn’t a portrayal of bug sex. It’s just of ugly repulsiveness. Or is it repulsive ugliness? Or is it bugly repulsiveness? Anyway, it’s cockroaches.

Sooner or later, we will become their primary food source. The cockroaches will grow bigger, more intelligent, with bigger brains. Perhaps they will even develop a language that goes beyond hissing, as Madagascar cockroaches already do. But you won’t be around to hear it. You will be dead — either of suffocation, or of starvation, or of drowning, or of poisoning, or of dehydration, or of disease. Meanwhile, the intelligent cockroach of the future, with a head as big as a bowling ball and evolved manual dexterity, will be sharing recipes for your roast eyeballs. Count on it.
Bon apétit Monsieur Cafard!