Wednesday, October 28, 2020

On genocide, absurdities, atrocities, hatred, conspiracies, lies, bigots, pedophiles, and high tech robber barons: 25 fascinating minutes with the creator of Borat.

 Sit here. Watch this. Right now. I promise this will be the best 25 minutes you spend today.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Why I spit on your technology. Or, whaddya have to do to make your vote stick around here?

      This is probably not a photograph of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. But I won't swear to it.

I went to vote early today, here in New York City. I won’t do it by mail, for two reasons.

First because the local Elections Board screwed up the Democratic primary mail-in ballot in my Congressional district so badly a few months ago that it took over a month to sort out. And second, because I trust a United States Postal Service run by Louis DeJoy about as far as I trust an overweight python with an eating disorder. 


DeJoy, with his bullet head and tough guy sneer, somehow makes me think that if this had been Italy toward the end of the end of WWII, they would have strung him upside down from a gas station awning before they disfigured his face with bullets. Not to mention whoever it is who has a strong enough stomach to be sleeping with him.


I take a hike, to take a hike,

to take yet another hike


But I disgress. I went to vote. The polling place had moved from the usual school, three blocks from my home, to the dormitory gym of the City University’s nursing school, a hike of more than half a mile for me. I have walking issues, as well as standing for a long time with no place to sit issues. So I grabbed a cane for extra support and hiked to the polls by bus. 

When I got there, I discovered that the line snaked back in the direction I had come from for three blocks. I took a three block hike in the direction I had come from, got on a slow-moving line, and after a half hour a woman holding a “handicapped” sign yelled at my clothing. She yelled, “Hey, you, the red jacket, get off that line!” 


The woman shouting at my red jacket was a Handicapped Voter Assistance lady, and since I had a cane, I was given to understand that I was now handicapped and had better accept assistance. (Actually, I would have needed the assistance a lot more if I didn't have the cane.)

The Handicapped Assistance consisted of enduring the glares of thousands of people who had been waiting patiently on a three-blocks-long line while I got taken on another hike from to the rear to the head of the line, inside the dormitory building. I was panting to keep up with the lady and begging her to slow down as she did a quick trot to the polling place. If you're handicapped and have trouble walking, you'd damned well better be able to run.


Once inside the building, I found myself on yet another line, this one to sign in. In the good old days, like a year ago, they put a book on a table, and you signed the book with a pen, after which they handed you a blank ballot. Now they’ve got all kinds of goddamned technology complicating the process.


A poll worker rotated a  I-pad screen in my direction. The screen was approximately waist high to me, vertical on a pole rather than flat on a table, and four inches away. She handed me what looks like a pen, but with a rubber tip. “Sign in,” she told me.


The pressure over 

pressing too hard


I tried. I swear, I tried. But you try signing an I-pad with a rubber doohickey that looks like the eraser side of a pencil, while bent over nearly in half, with an I-pad screen you need to sign while it's in a vertical position, rather than flat on a table. I tried to write my signature. Nothing appeared on the screen.


You’re pressing too hard!” the poll worker shouted at me.


So I pressed softer. Still nothing.


“Still too hard!” the poll worker said, furiously.


Eventually, after some pen strokes appeared on the screen and others didn’t, it became evident that the problem was not that I was pressing too hard. The problem was, I wasn’t pressing hard enough. By really bearing down, I was able to make some squiggles to appear on the screen. I say squiggles because, thanks to the weird confluence of the screen at a height not meant for signing anything, the bizarre vertical angle, the pen, and pressure issues, the signature bore almost no resemblance to my customary signature.


“This doesn’t look like my signature,” I said to the poll worker.


“That’s because you pressed too hard!” she shouted at me, furiously.


“Okay, may I have my ballot?” I asked.


“The machine will print out your ballot” said the poll worker, pointing to a machine behind her. It looked like a cross between a popcorn vending machine and some set designer’s fantasy of what a computer should look like, circa some Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy movie.


The microchip signature war


So I waited. And waited. People behind me in line began groaning. I was attracting glares again. My imagination began to run wild. I wondered if a bunch of microchips were comparing the signature I had left on file when I registered to vote with the scribble I’d left on the I-pad screen. If so, they were most assuredly working themselves up to a microchip version of a free-for-all fist fight to settle whether I was really cranky old me, or an imposter.  


Still another thought occurred to me. And that was, that at the other end of whatever I had signed, a group of Proud Bois and a group of Antifa were sitting around a table pointing paint ball guns at each other and screaming bloody murder that no-it-isn’t, yes-it-is the Crank’s signature.


Third degree with a rubber truncheon

And then I began to wonder if I’d get dragged off the line and given the third degree with a rubber truncheon by some underling of Attorney General Barr. In this awful era of Trump, nothing is ever surprising.


“Sometimes the computer prints out the ballot very fast and sometimes not,” the poll worker said to me. “Yours,” she added accusatorily, “is taking a while.”


Eventually  — Was it about four minutes? I didn’t time it. — a ballot plopped out of the popcorn machine. I had to take it to a little booth and fill it out. 

I got to fill in a teensy-tiny little oval for Joe Biden and Kamela Harris. And another teensy-tiny oval next to the name of my Congresswoman, Carolyn Maloney. The ballot had a reverse side, with names of about seven candidates for various judicial positions. I had never heard of any of them, but it didn’t matter. The Republicans, and the Libertarians hadn’t put anybody up against them. I filled in the judge candidates' teensy-tiny bubbles anyway. 

Then I marched my ballot over to the ballot reader machine. "Does it matter which side is up?" I asked a poll worker.

"I'll put it in the machine for you," the poll worker replied.

She did. The machine spat it out. She tried again. Another mechanical spit. The third time, the machine finally decided it had better eat what it was fed, and my ballot disappeared into its maw.


Go stick your sticker


Somebody handed me an “I VOTED EARLY!” sticker. I stuck it to my red jacket.


Then I limped out of there, again enduring the sneers of the people who’d been waiting in line for hours and hours, until I found a bus home.


One block from the polling place, the sticker fell off my jacket and ended up in a puddle in the gutter. If they don’t even have the technology to make an “I VOTED EARLY” sticker that can stick to a nylon jacket for more than three minutes, why should I have any confidence that my vote will stick, either?

Or maybe when I stuck the sticker to my jacket, I was pressing too hard.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The dog ate somebody’s hard drive. Just ask Rudy Giuliani.

 So, uh, let me get this straight. The thusfar unnamed owner of an unnamed computer repair shop somewhere in Delaware says that a guy who kinda, sorta, maybe looked like Hunter Biden dropped off a water-damaged Mac laptop in his shop in 2019.

The computer repair guy evidently didn’t get a record of the name and address of the owner, or the owner’s other contact information. Or he did get a record of the contact information, but evidently that doesn't include the owner's name. Huh?

Anyway, without a reliable way to reach the owner, the repair guy could spend hours and hours fixing the computer, and maybe lay out some money for parts as well, and not be able to collect if the customer never comes back. Or he could give it to the wrong customer — me for example, if I walk into the shop and ask, “Is my laptop fixed yet? Umm, that nice-looking Mac laptop over there. That one's mine."  But that's the way most computer repair shops work. Right, computer repair guys?

Vadym and me


And of course, instead of just fixing the computer, the computer repair guy spends hours and hours reading the voluminous contents of the hard drive. It allegedly contains, among other things, e-mail correspondence between a character named Vadym Pozharskyi and Hunter Biden, along with some racy photographs that may or may not be of Hunter having sex.


Like any typical computer repair guy, he instantly knows that Vadym Pozharskyi must clearly be a person of interest to the national security community. So, after desperately trying to reach the computer owner whose identity he doesn't know, he turns the computer over to the FBI. But first he makes a copy of everything on the hard drive for himself because, hey, that’s what computer repair guys always do. Right, computer repair guys?

And of course, the FBI never thinks to ask, "Is this all you've got? Do you have any electronic or paper copies of any of the data on this computer?" I mean, you wouldn't ask a question like that if you were the FBI, because if the laptop contains information critical to the national security, why would you not want copies of that information floating around everywhere on the planet?


Meanwhile, despite the presence of all this “sensitive” info on the hard drive, the owner of the laptop never comes back for his machine after all. Maybe he simply forgot he had a computer, allegedly with all that sensitive info on its hard drive. Maybe, if I may make a suggestion, he never even existed.

"Hello, Rudy? You don't know me

but have I got something cool for you!"

But the computer repair guy knows that Rudy Giuliani, has been rooting around in the Ukraine for dirt on Hunter Biden. So he gives Rudy a call. Do you know Rudy’s phone number? Me neither. But this computer repair guy evidently has Rudy on his speed dial. 

Okay, that's a cheap shot. The computer repair guy could eventually find Rudy's office phone number on the Internet. Sheesh! Business must be really, really slow in the computer repair business if he's got time for all that.


And then the repair guy takes the texts of the allegedly real correspondence between Biden and Pozharskyi to Giuliani, who in turn turns them over to that great newspaper of record, The New York Post.  


Please somebody help me get off the floor! I’ve fallen down laughing and I can’t get up.

Late breaking news! The Florida Sun Sentinel is reporting that at least one New York Post reporter refused to have his byline on the story, evidently despite pressure from the Post's editors.

And furthermore: "Many Post staff members questioned whether the paper had done enough to verify the authenticity of the hard drive’s contents, said five people with knowledge of the tabloid’s inner workings. Staff members also had concerns about the reliability of its sources and its timing, the people said."

Reliability of its sources? Y'mean Rudy Giuliani? I am shocked! Shocked!!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Lindsey Graham and the kindness of strangers

                    A gentleman helps Miss Lindsey with her robe

 It’s not hard to get on a Republican mailing list. All you have to do is answer one of those phony surveys that pop up on Facebook and other social media. You know the kind I mean. They lure you in with headlines like, “Tell the Democrats what you really think.” Then they ask questions like “Should the Democrats support a tool of diabolical conspiracies and Satanic forces like Joe Biden, or is Donald Trump the savior of America?” 

I often answer them just to see what will happen. And that’s how some time during the summer I started getting e-mails from Lindsey Graham. Most of the time I got an e-mail every day. Sometimes, two or three times a day, if you count messages from Lindsey’s campaign, Donald Trump, and other supporters who wanted me to contribute to Lindsey. In all I've received forty-one desperate letters from Lindsey and his, um — well, call it a support group —since early September.


O, the awful injustice

poor Lindsey must suffer!

At first I zapped Graham's e-mails. They were all, each and every cloying one, nothing but craven pleas for money, designed to loosen my wallet by horrifying me — horrifying me!  — with news of the awful injustices that poor Lindsey must suffer.


The gist of most of them was that Lindsey Graham is beset by “Democrat” ruffians. 

Miss Lindsey whined about the horrible mistreatment she was suffering at their hands— mainly consisting of Democrats doing a better job than the Graham campaign in raising campaign funds. Then she fell back on her fainting couch, called for the smelling salts, and reminded me to click on a donate button because she evidently has always relied on the kindness of strangers. Quick — somebody give that senator some pearls to clutch!


I can’t quote all off Graham's e-mails at length here. It would be like attending a sixteen hours-long play without an intermission, during which Chekhov attempts to do Tennessee Williams impressions. But here, for your delectation, are a few samples, starting with what that hussy, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez actually had the brazen nerve to say:  


Sept. 25th:


Crank , 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called me "spineless" to her millions of follows on social media. 

Why? I intend to do my part as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court. 

Crank, my opponent is already raising money hand over fist, but with an endorsement from the leader of the Squad, more liberal dollars are now flooding into South Carolina. 


Will you help us beat back the incursion of far-Left money?

By the way, if you give Graham so much as a nickel, and fill out a form that includes your phone number, you are consenting to receive calls and texts, including autodialed and automated calls and texts, to that number from Team Graham.” I just thought you might want to know in advance why all those dinnertime phone calls will be besieging you.

Hardly had I recovered from the shock of AOC and the Yankee Democrat “incursion” than I received this scarifying news: 

Crank , 

Failed Democrat presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, wants Jaime Harrison to win in South Carolina. 

She knows that he'll be a reliable supporter of her far-Left policies. That's why she's encouraging her donors to give to Harrison and help "flip the Senate." 

She's hoping that Democrat candidates like Jaime Harrison will win in November, work with her to add new seats to the Supreme Court, and fill them with liberal judges. 


Will you please chip in $10 or more to help counteract the money Elizabeth Warren raised for Jaime Harrison….?

-Team Graham 


No I won’t, Miss Lindsey, because I want you to be a failed Republican senatorial candidate. You’ve already failed as a human being. And for the love of heaven, stop whining!


On Oct. 1, Lindsey wrote to tell me about the terrible — simply terrible, terrible, terrible — thing the Democrats did with an airplane. So uncouth: 

This is the same liberal Super PAC that flew a plane up and down the South Carolina coast on Labor Day towing a banner attacking Senator Graham. 

O, the horror!

The "Lindsey Must Go" PAC pledged to raise millions, and they're adding their own negative attack spending to the millions being spent by our liberal opponent Jaime Harrison. 

We know there's no one the radical Left hates more than Lindsey Graham. That's how his opponent is raising millions in DAYS. 


Your contribution of …..

 Oh, you know the rest.

On October 7, Miss Lindsey wrote to tell me about the uncouth mobs:

Crank , 

Senator Tillis and I will play crucial roles in confirming President Trump's highly qualified Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. 

That's why protesters mobbed both of our houses and shouted at us to try and intimidate us out of fulfilling our constitutional duty. 

Yes, that's what he wrote. They shouted at him and poor Tom Tillis. Actually shouted. 

But Senator Tillis and I don't surrender to mobs – we WILL fill this seat! 

Democrats are raising millions of dollars to go after Senator Tillis because his seat has been named the tipping point race that will decide our Senate majority. We must show them that this Senate seat is not for sale….


 Democrats are leading our country down a path of mob rule, and this election is our chance to put an end to it before it's too late. 

We cannot let the Democrats win this Senate seat – and claim a Senate majority – by inciting a radical left-wing mob and spending hundreds of millions of dollars. 

This November, I want to know that we did everything we could to prevent a catastrophic 2020 election outcome. That's why I'm asking for your urgent help. 


Please make a contribution to help keep North and South Carolina red and maintain our conservative Senate majority!

Thank you, 

Lindsey Graham 

No matter what the topic. Lindsey always asks for money. Ah well, I guess Miss Lindsey has taken the advice of Tennessee Williams to heart: “You can be young without money. But you can’t be old without it.”

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Sorry, I just can’t today. I simply can’t. It’s Trump overload.

                                                Another hapless American, fed to the Trump
                                                Monster. Thanks for the nightmare, Hieronymous!

I have to hand it to the Toddler in Chief. He’s no ordinary failure. He's  a bottomless well of failure. He’s a black hole who keeps sucking everything into himself until there’s nothing left outside. He's a failure that won't stop failing.


He  reminds me of the first Terminator movie.


Just when you think he’s done in, he’s not done in. But then they blast all kinds of weaponry at him and you think he’s done in. But he’s not done in. But then they blow off his legs and you’re positive he’s done in. But he’s not done in. Then his skin is burned off and you gotta know he’s done in. But he’s not done in. His mission is to destroy, to ruin, to wreck everything. He cannot be deterred.


Or to look at it another way, he’s the Energizer Bunny of chaos, and failure, and misery. He keeps going, and going, and going, and each time he goes a little further, he digs the hole in which the U.S.A. is getting buried a little deeper.


So I simply can’t today. This Presidential Super-Spreader, this Typhoid Mary of COVID-19, this pathetic lump of arrogant failure, this vulgar economy-killer, this job-destroyer, this unity wrecker, this assassin of American prestige, this NATO-crasher, this comity crusher, this health insurance killer, this potential Medicare and Social Security assassin,  this self-centered, inhumane, indecent representation of a real man, this shambolic mockery of a leader, standing there on a White House Balcony, all alone, saluting nothing in particular, striking poses like a fool while trying to look important...all this is is only part of the terrible malediction he has inflicted on the United States.


We, too, are now pretty much all alone in the world. Just like Trump on a balcony.


We, too, are seen, as a nation, as standing for nothing at all any more. Just like Trump on a balcony.


We, too, are an insane ruin. Just like...but you know by now.


He is a shambles. And thanks to him, so is the U.S.A.


Friday, October 02, 2020

COVID-19, Prescience, Trump, Debates, the Election, and Crackpot Theories Galore

                                             An 18th Century English madhouse. Or is it 
                                             the 21st Century White House? (Thank you,
                                             Mr. Hogarth.)

It’s easy to get an inflated ego and nutty ideas about your own prescience. I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about me. 

 In my last blog post, put up two days prior to the first presidential debate, I wrote:

 “Unfortunately, Trump has a habit of shouting loudly while other people are talking, so that nobody will hear them.” 

As a cure for this I suggested

"The debate moderator should have two kill switches in front of him, each attached to one of the debaters’ microphones. The debaters should be told how much time is allotted to each answer they give, or to rebuttal they make. They should also get a 30-second warning signal. The second their time is up, the announcer should hit their microphone kill switches. No ifs, ands, or buts. That way, the debates could really be debates and not shouting matches."

 So, when milliseconds out of the gate Trump began interrupting not only Biden but also poor Chris Wallace, the moderator during the first debate, I nearly broke my own arm patting myself on the back to congratulate myself on my foresight. I felt even more self-congratulatory when several commentators belatedly made the same suggestion I made about kill switches. 

Cattle prods, viruses, Zoom, and pundits

 With all of the foregoing in mind, I had planned to make this post about alternate ways of controlling Trump during the next debate, such as duct-taping a radio-controlled cattle prod to some private part of his, and switching it on every time Trump intruded into Biden’s or the moderator’s speaking time. Of course, Biden would have to be similarly wired up, although I doubt he would do anything that would warrant a  4,000-volt shot of pain. 

 Then, in a flash, Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19 and everything changed. 

If there is a next Presidential debate, it might occur during a presidential quarantine, and therefore might best be conducted via Zoom. This would automatically hand the moderator a kill switch, enabling some semblance of a real debate to take place. It’s an ill virus that blows no television audience some good. When people can’t or won't solve a problem, trust Mother Nature to step in. Wildfires, anybody? 

Meanwhile, when a crazy virus strikes a crazy president, all of us begin thinking crazy thoughts. Here come some of mine. I should warn you that they may not be mine exclusively. Insane ideas, like insane viruses, replicate themselves in legions of human beings. All the same, I offer some whacko scenarios for you. Let’s see, in time, which of them turn out to be not-so-whacko after all: 

Six thoughts that may be 
as nutty or nuttier than your own 

1. He doesn’t really have Covid-19. He realizes his last debate was a disaster, and this gives him an out to avoid a repeat disaster. He’ll be "too sick to debate" until several days after the final debate was scheduled. Then, miraculously, he’ll feel better, begin holding rallies, and start challenging election results as they come in. 

2.  He does really have Covid-19 and he’s very sick, far sicker than anybody is letting on. Cabinet and other Republican strategists are convening as you read this, trying to decide how best to keep covering up the news, while Mike Pence bones up on presidential matters in the back room. 

3.  There are also discussions underway in the White House to decide whether, if Mike Pence becomes sick, too, the blame can somehow be placed on Nancy Pelosi, who is next in line for the presidency after Pence. 

4.  Whether Trump has Covid-19 or not, Republican Party strategists, after consultation with pollsters, have determined that Trump can’t win and are now huddling with Bill Barr to see if there are legal grounds to postpone the election because one candidate is too ill to participate. They have also checked with Amy Coney Barrett to see whether she will go along with a ruling that the election must be postponed, if her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court is hurried along to get her seated prior to Election Day. 

5.  Postponement of the election, of course, will be followed by cancellation of the election “until such time as there is no further risk that Covid-19 can again intrude on the election process.” A day after this announcement is made, the corpses of every pharmaceutical and bio research company executive and scientist involved in developing a vaccine will be found floating in the Potomac. The official pronouncement will be “Mass suicide.” 

6.  As I've pretty much already said, it’s an ill virus that blows nobody any good. In the Kremlin, the corpse of Vladimir Putin is found, bent in half, a ghastly grin rigor mortising on his face. An autopsy reveals numerous internal hemorrhages, a torn intestine, and other signs that he busted a gut and died laughing.