Thursday, July 30, 2020

Voodoo economics meets voodoo medicine. But what should we do when the doctor does voodoo?

Dr. Stella Immanuel. It’s as if Cole Porter had her in mind
 when he wrote, “You do that voodoo that you do so well.”
It was George Bush the Elder, or George H.W. Bush, A.K.A Bush 41, who coined the phrase “voodoo economics.” He was referring, several decades ago, to Ronald Reagan’s habit of allowing the government to spend more money than it took in collecting tax revenues. This used to be horrifying to most Republicans, because, err, ah, umm, sooner or later the national debt would grow not into the billions but the — oh my God — trillions! And that would be the end of civilization as we know it.

Well, the end of civilization as we know it may be just around the corner, but not necessarily because of the national debt, even though last time I checked, it was somewhere in the area of $26 trillion and counting. Like all fallen civilizations, ours is going down the tubes thanks to a confluence of neglect, incompetence at the top, sheer stupidity, cockamamie economic and medical theories, lies, laziness, and lickspittle Republican butt-kissers, combined with what appears to be a severe personality disorder at the tippy-top, and a new form of plague, COVID-19. with which this nation can’t seem to deal.

Enter “God’s battle axe”

Into this bubbling stew of chaos, fear, idiocy, disease, incompetence, anxiety, pandemic, official stupidity and Presidential Twitterhea, a very strange woman who purports to be a doctor has stepped with both muddy galoshes.

Her name is Dr. Stella Immanuel, and she evidently has a license to practice medicine from the State of Texas. If true, I will never think of Texas’ as a center for the practice of great medicine again, despite formidable Texas medical institutions, such as the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Immanuel refers to herself as “God’s battle axe and weapon of war.” She warns against “spirit husbands” and “spirit wives” who will have sexual intercourse with you in your dreamworld for the purpose of collecting male sperm, which they then apply to nefarious missions. 

While she’s at it, she has has knocked face masks, touted hydroxychloroquine, and referred to experts who find her medical opinions laughable “fake pharma companies” practicing “fake science.” Now she has set out to witch doctor against Mark Zuckerberg. No, you really can’t make this stuff up. 

The curse on Zuckerberg 

Listen, ordinarily I relish cage fights between despicable people. However, I have to come down on Zuckerberg’s side in this instance. He shut her down for peddling medical opinions that are the equivalent of horse manure on baloney sandwiches. Whereupon, she put what can best be described as a voodoo curse on him. She tweeted: 
“Hello Facebook put back my profile page and videos up or your computers with start crashing till you do. You are not bigger that God. I promise you. If my page is not back up face book will be down in Jesus name.” 
As of this posting, Faceboook is still up. And on Wall Street today, July 30th,  Zuckerberg's company closed at 234.50, up over a point despite a down market.

Perhaps the voodoo takes a while to work. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Lindsey, sex, lies, and other Trump-related disasters

A Fifteenth Century vision of hell by Hieronymous Bosch.
Imagine if he were around to see the Trump Administration.
Shall we begin with Senator Lindsey Graham? You know, the Republican Senator who stood up in outrage — outrage  — against the attempt by Congress to impeach Donald Trump. 

That was when Trump did in fact get himself impeached for trying to grab a big handful of quid pro quo over missiles for which the U.S. taxpayers had shelled out to help Ukraine stave off a Russian invasion. No dice, said Donald to Ukraine, unless you first make a big fuss pretending to investigate Joe Biden’s son. You remember. Burisma and all that.

Now Graham is whining that he has become, in his own campaign’s words “the number one target of the radical Left.” 

How do I know this? I got myself put on Graham’s mailing list under a nom du guerre. That gets me not only mailings from Graham, but everybody else on the planet who’s right of center, from Susan Collins to the NRA. Say this for Republicans, they may not be good about sharing the wealth, but they sure share mailing lists.

Oh no! Not Hillary
And Rosie O’Donnell!

“From former colleagues in the Senate like Hillary Clinton and Claire McCaskill, to a whole slew of liberal Hollywood donors such as Rosie O'Donnell, liberals are lining up to send to attacks our way,” whines Graham. 

Hmm. Hillary and Rosie and even Claire — all women, mind you — in the same sentence. And not one of them is in a position of political power, or any other kind of power, any more. Is that the best, and most potent, enemies list Graham can come up with? 

‘Fraid so. He doesn’t have much to go on, except to raise the same old tired names and hope to get my gastric juices flowing. But why bother?

One sentence in his urgent-sounding e-mail to me explains it all. “Senator Graham’s Democrat opponent is raising record-breaking amounts of money, and he outraised Team Graham by over $5 million last quarter.” 

He did? Oh good! And for the record, that opponent's name is Jaime Harrison.

The big dummy’s guide
to diplomacy

It’s a time-honored tradition of both political parties that U.S. Presidents reward big campaign contributors with ambassadorships. Nevermind that some of the contributors know zilch about diplomacy. 

You send them to a country where they presumably can’t do much damage because not much of urgent political or strategic importance to the United States is currently going on there. You also install an entire cadre of seasoned foreign service officers under them to do any serious work that needs to get done in the embassy, freeing the ambassador to show up at diplomatic cocktail parties and play at being a bigshot. Come the following election, he contributes twice as much to your campaign.

That whole time-honored system just went to hell in a handbasket, thanks to Donald Trump’s appointee to the Ambassadorship of Iceland, Jeffrey Ross Gunter, whose previous experience is in dermatology, presumably squeezing zits and freezing off peoples' little cancerous thingies. According to a journal called The Iceland Review
US Ambassador to Iceland Jeffrey Ross Gunter is reportedly so concerned about security in Iceland that he asked the US State Department to apply for special permission for him to carry a firearm, CBS News reports.  
The Global Peace Index currently ranks Iceland as the most peaceful country in the world, but this does not seem to have put Ambassador Gunter’s mind at ease about his personal safety. Indeed, dozens of diplomatic staff and officials interviewed by CBS said that he’d been “paranoid about security” and the US Embassy in Iceland recently placed an ad in local papers seeking applicants for full-time bodyguards. The former dermatologist and Republican Party donor—who only days ago drew swift criticism for retweeting a presidential tweet referring to COVID-19 as the “Invisible China Virus”—also floated the prospect of establishing door-to-door armored car service and suggested that he should be outfitted with a “stab-proof vest.”
All this has upset some Icelanders who consider reference to the virus as Chinese a reflection of racism and whose impression of the ambassador's paranoia about their peaceful country and fellow citizens they find offputting. So where are the cadre who keep the Ambassador in control? So glad you asked.The Iceland Review has the answer:
Ambassador Gunter has had seven Deputy Chiefs of Mission since his arrival in May 2019—one of whom prepared for over a year for the position and spent a considerable amount of time studying Icelandic only to be blocked because the Ambassador “didn’t like the look of him.”
Yoo hoo, Mr. Yoho!

The contretemps Florida Congressman Ted Yoho launched when he called New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “a fucking bitch” doesn’t surprise me at all.

After all, look at Mr. Yoho’s name. It’s the exact greeting certain pimps use to greet women. Don’t jump all over me about this. I’m just sayin.’

Did Donald Trump commit 
rape of a minor child?

All I know is what I hear on this lengthy but wildly scandalous video.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Sexy lingerie may be history; the ashes of an “acerbic” wit get abandoned again; and another newspaper is now on life support — all signs of a society screwed beyond belief.

How often does a mostly-political blog find a legitimate excuse to display a
photograph like this? And who am I to argue with such an opportunity?
What is Victoria’s secret? 

Alas, it’s that sex no longer sells.

Yup. You read that right. According to somebody named John Livesay, scribbling in the trade magazine Target Marketing, Victoria’s Secret is in trouble because…
What happened to Victoria's Secret is the same thing that happened to Kodak and Blockbuster. They didn't keep up with the changing needs of their customers. Women today seek to buy from brands that make them feel empowered, not just sexy. Being strong in your resilience, beliefs, and overall health is what is sexy today. No longer do women want to just look good to get a man; they want to feel strong to feel sexy to themselves!
The author of this piece also quotes a retail marketing guru. The guru, who evidently speaks in tongues, offers the following advice for saving the bra and panties business:
“Victoria’s Secret needs to develop and focus on clear avatars (potential customer types), tell better stories, and unify the customer experience. A renewed sense of purpose is emergent by turning down opportunities and as a company making hard decisions.”
In plain English, allow me to  offer some other advice: I’ll bet you six  double-talking marketing consultants that women aren’t feeling sexy because, along with the rest of America, they and their lives have been repeatedly and royally screwed by Donald Trump. 

When you’re worried about dying of COVID-19, or wondering if it’s safe for your kids to go to school, or terrified that you won’t make the rent because your employer just laid everybody off, it’s pretty hard to feel sexy — much less splurge precious dollars on some frilly underthings in the hope of turning on your  equally beat-to-hell old man. 

But if I were Victoria’s Secret I’d hang in there. Sooner or later, Trump is toast. And when that happens, and the COVID-19 Plague gets stamped out, and businesses reopen, and jobs come back, and schools get back to teaching children in safe classrooms, and the economy perks up, women will rise up and sing “Ding dong the witch is dead!” Shortly after that, Americans will once again begin acting like happy rabbits during rutting season.

Suicide and other funny subjects

Below, a short meditation on suicide by the late Dorothy Parker, whose brand of humor inevitably gets described with the adjective “acerbic.”

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful’
You might as well live.

Parker was a poet, humorist, journalist, book reviewer, essayist, screenwriter, and member of the once-famous Algonquin Round Table, a table located in a hotel restaurant across the street from the New Yorker magazine’s original offices. It was here that the likes of George S. Kaufman, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott and Parker — along, occasionally, with Harpo Marx, Edna Ferber and other sharp minds of the day, raised formidable amounts of noisy hell, traded viciously funny barbs, ordered precious little (sometimes bringing in their own bag lunches), and drove the management to distraction Monday through Friday during lunch hour. But don’t weep for management. The denizens of the Round Table made the Algonquin Hotel famous. 

Unfortunately, Parker’s death in 1967, if not acerbic was certainly lonely. Her three marriages had ended in divorce. She had no siblings with whom she was close, no children to whom she could leave her money. But she did have a social conscience, and willed the bulk of her estate to the Reverend Martin Luther King, or in the event of his death, to the N.A.A.C.P.

Human remains in
a law firm file drawer

Meanwhile, she was cremated, and for a long time her ashes suffered an acerbic fate, spending six years lying around in a crematory and then another fifteen in a law firm’s file drawer. It was Benjamin Hooks, then executive director of the N.A.A.C.P., who in 1988 learned of her unsettled ashes and planned a memorial garden for her behind the organization’s headquarters in Baltimore.

But now Hooks himself is ten years deceased, the N.A.A.C.P. is moving to Washington D.C., and Parker’s ashes have become an issue. Evidently, there are no plans to dig up Parker’s urn and take it down to D.C. with the organization. Some people are hoping to goad the civil rights organization into doing just that. But I prefer an alternate suggestion — that her ashes should be displayed in the Algonquin Hotel’s lobby. According to the New York Times, the hotel’s manager “declined to comment.” 

If management of the hotel doesn’t offer to take and display the urn, management are idiots. Parker’s urn would be a visitor magnet. And that couldn’t hurt now that hotels, and hotel restaurants, are withering thanks to Donald Trump’s incompetently-managed pandemic. 

While Hooks’ gesture was kindly and noble, the Algonquin, rather than a back yard in Baltimore, or even in the nation’s capital, is the logical place for Parker's ashes. She helped make the place. Moreover, her ashes would get more visitors in a week at the Algonquin than most of our own final resting places will get in an eternity.

Hey, Algonquin, go for it!

“Stop the presses! What's that?
You say they’ve already stopped?”

Simple rule: without a robust free press, you can’t have a robust free nation. Corruption and evil are scum that rise to the top of the pond. It's the free press that sniffs it out, points it out, roots out how it got there, and encourages people to get rid of it before it poisons everything in the water.

If there’s an explanation for why the human scum that is the Trump administration still lingers at the top, part of it is that our press is drowning. The villain is the Internet, which distracts from the news more than it contributes to real reporting, sucking the attention and the revenue out of what used to be your daily newspaper.

Strangle newspapers and the pond scum thrives. Weaken a newspaper, so that only a single part-time reporter can be paid to cover city hall, or the state house, or the cop house, not to mention Washington D.C., and before you know it venality and brutality begin to breed with each another. That's why you have the crook in the White House sending anonymous agents in fatigues to illegally kidnap and beat up peaceful protestors in Oregon. It’s never good news when newspapers are on life support.

Such is the case, although hardly a unique one, in the state of Wyoming. The state has 40 newspapers, but most of them are weeklies. The state also allegedly has some “dailies” — except they don’t come out every day. On Mondays, not a single newspaper is published in Wyoming.  Now the Casper Star-Tribune has announced that it will no longer publish on Mondays and Tuesdays. Nieman Lab, the journalism organization, reports:
Of the state’s six dailies (“dailies”), the Star-Tribune was the last one still printing seven days a week. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne killed its Monday paper in 2018. The Laramie Boomerang (what a name) doesn’t print on Mondays or Tuesdays. The Riverton Ranger skips Mondays and Saturdays. The Gillette News-Record printed a Monday paper until two months ago, when it cut back from six days to two. 
All this its yet another indication that our nation is, at least for the moment, hopelessly shafted. And yes, you can consider this outlook acerbic.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Advice just for you, doll — sex mannikins, cow farts, and other cranky counsel to ease you through at least six more months of Donald Trump.

Who, moi? 
Back from the hospital with a mechanical doohickey made of titanium, ceramic and nylon under his skin where his left hip used to be, The New York Crank is now in a fine feverish fettle, furiously solving the problems and answering the questions of America’s confused citizenry. Be sure to send in your own urgent queries. Meanwhile, we have these.

“Yeah, but will she love me for my mind?”

Dear Crank,

What’s the point of being single if I can’t go to a singles bar? Covid-19 struck two days after I broke off with my girlfriend. Now I have no girlfriend and no way to meet a new girlfriend without taking a chance that I’ll die on a ventilator. And please don’t tell me about swiping right. I can swipe to my heart’s content, but nobody will come out of the house. Thanks to Donald Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, there’s no end in sight. What’s a guy to do?

Yours truly,
Infuriated Incel

Dear Infuriated,

I have wonderful news for you! Sex with other people is now so yesterday. On Hollywood sound stages, virus-wary actors are currently making love to sex dolls while shooting movies and soap operas. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up

In substituting latex-and-silicone mannikins for women in syndicated TV shows like The Bold and the Beautiful, the good old U.S.A. has pretty much one-upped  the latest high-tech bordellos in France.  There you can walk in, choose your doll, take her up to a room, and go at it to your heart’s content, confident that she won’t be watching the clock or thinking about getting her nails done. And when the action’s over, just dunk her in a big pail of Lysol and she’s good to go for the next customer. I’d be curious to know what sex workers think about getting scabbed on by a bunch of dummies, but so far there’s not one peep out of them that I can find. Oh wait!

So I’d advise you to stop feeling sorry for poor little you, all alone in your room with nobody for company. Your American passport will no longer get you into France where you can rent doll sex by the hour, thanks to Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic. But not to worry. You can also own your very own personal sex doll. Whip out your credit card and send for the doll of your choice.

But if I eat lemon grass
who’s gonna cut the cheese?

Dear Crank,

I just read that the people who make the Big Decisions at Burger King have become alarmed that consumers are getting alarmed that farting cows are futzing up the environmental methane level. So the Big Decision Makers have experimentally begun feeding some cows lemon grass. This reportedly reduces the cows’ bovine digestive gas emissions, without negatively impacting the taste of the beef they produce. 

The lemongrass cowburgers are being sold in only five markets. So the gas your hamburger emitted when it was still alive may vary. My question is, if I eat lemon grass Burger King burgers, will that reduce my own susceptibility to a certain kind of gassy embarrassment? 

Yours curiously,
Gassy Gus

Dear Gassy,

Lemongrass-fed beef is a perfect example of too little, too late. While Burger King people mess with lemongrass, and the environment continues going to hell in a hand basket, vegetable-based meatless hamburger "meat," like Impossible Burger, is eating their lunch. Turns out that the dominant flavors in most chain restaurant hamburgers are those of ketchup and salt, followed, more or less, by the taste of hamburger buns, pickles and, if you insist (ugh!) mayonnaise.

What it boils down to is, you could probably put salt and ketchup on a foam rubber couch cushion and it would taste like a hamburger. But don’t worry, cows aren’t going to become an endangered species any time soon. However, the news is less optimistic for people, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, global warming, and other forms of life-ending phenomena caused by gross political negligence. (See Trump, Donald.) 

My advice to you is to lock yourself in the bathroom, light a match, and, um, well, you know.

Main Street — It’s not for
shopping any more

Dear Crank,

As of early July, nearly 66,000 small businesses had bitten the dust, thanks to the very stable genius of Donald Trump and his management of the health crisis. But that’s only according to Yelp data reported by the New York Times. Some researchers at Harvard said it was worse, that somewhere around 110,000 small businesses had ceased to conduct commerce among us. So when I walk down Main Street, there’s nothing to see except boarded up stores and restaurants. What’s the point?


Dear Hopeless,

Obviously, you haven’t been paying attention. The point is, Hillary’s Clinton’s e-mails. Also Barack Obama, something something something. And furthermore, everybody was unduly mean to Roger Stone just because he committed five piffling felonies. Now get back to work. This economy needs your output before you keel over and die.

Your money or your life?

Dear Crank,

I just read that Gilead Sciences make a drug called Remdesevir that has been approved for treatment of COVID-19. Now hang on for a humongous slew of confusing numbers.

Gilead will charge $2,300 for a course of treatment for some lucky patients, and $3120 for the rest of us. What the drug does, according to a study by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is cut recovery time from 15 days to a snappy 11 days, after you take the magic pills for ten days in a row. In case you don’t recover, you’ll be one of the unlucky 7.1 percent instead of the 11.9 percent who received a placebo “but the difference is not statistically significant.” 

All these numbers make my head spin. But investors aren’t dizzy, they’re furious, starting with an investment analyst named “Geoffrey Porges. I quote: “In a series of notes to investors, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges recommended buying Gilead shares and said that he believed annual sales of remdesivir could reach $6.7 billion next year. Porges assumed prices of $5,000 per course in the U.S., $4,000 per course in Europe, and $2,000 per course in other markets.”

I know I wasn’t exactly a math whiz in high school, but given all these numbers, what should I do?


Dear Confused,

Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay indoors, and don’t come out until it’s time to vote for Joe Biden.


Thursday, July 02, 2020

The New York Crank is undergoing a bit of surgery and will not be posting for a short while. Come back late July.

No, they're not going to saw off my leg (I hope.) 

I'll be in the hospital for hip replacement surgery. They've already replaced my right hip. This time it's the left. But that's only part of my ongoing old-age parts replacement program. 

The lenses that nature grew for me in both eyes developed cataracts and were long ago removed and replaced with optical something-or-other. I now have 20-20 vision in both eyes, so I can look in the mirror and watch myself growing older without the assistance of eyeglasses.

Well, I still have my original knees and elbows. (But don't tell the doctors.)

By the time I finally buy the farm, I expect that I'll have more replacement parts in me than a 1951 Ford, assuming this keeps up.

On the other hand, what choice have I got?

The benefit to you, my long-suffering readers, is that when I return, after several weeks of pain and discomfort, and putting up with the bureaucratic cover-our-institution's-administrative-ass crap that the hospital has already begun dishing out to me, I should be mad as hell. I'm talking rip-roaring, flame-spouting, insanely head-exploding furious. Which should make for some lively reading. (Unless the Oxycodone — or is it Oxycontin? — that they always prescribe post-op temporarily renders me a happy vegetable. Who knows?)

Anyway, see you around the end of the month.