Wednesday, April 03, 2019

What Kind of Country Elects a TV Celebrity?

Ukraine held the first round of its presidential election on Sunday. President Petro Poroshenko came in second. Third place went to former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The winner was comedian/actor Volodymyr Zelensky. Much of the world seems put off. Here in the United States, we're impressed that a country's television-star-turned-President can be one with talent.

Zelensky is the star of the sitcom "Servant of the People," in which he plays a history teacher who accidentally becomes President of Ukraine. Lest you think this kind of life-imitating-art is
unprecedented in politics, don't forget that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) starred in a series of MySpace.com videos filmed in his basement in which he played a loud, unkempt asshole who accidentally becomes a United States Congressman.

President Poroshenko is rather annoyed about the huge amount of free exposure Zelensky has received during the campaign. One of Zelensky's closest associates is Ihor Kolomoisky who owns 1+1, the channel that airs "Servant of the People." The network has been airing a considerable amount of Zelensky material, including the third series of the sitcom and a song-and-dance special right before the election.

Television saturation of this type during an election should worry Americans. If this trend continues, January 20, 2021, will see the United States inaugurate President Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

While Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, and the other 40 candidates won votes in specific bits of the country, Zelensky garnered votes throughout the nation. He is especially popular with those fed up with systemic corruption and dysfunction. A TV star promising to clean up the capital? That's going great in the USA. What's Ukrainian for "drain the swamp"? (Google translate says "zlyyte boloto" and it wrong never is.)

After the April 21st runoff, Ukraine could have a 41-year-old actor with absolutely no experience as President, or, as Vladimir Putin pronounces it, "breakfast."

Monday, April 01, 2019

Ted Cruz on Behalf of Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is suing the Federal Election Commission because rich dudes running for office should't have to sacrifice a damn thing in pursuit of power.

Cruz is suing over the bit of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act which states that if a candidate makes a big showy deal out of giving his own personal money to his campaign, it shouldn't actually cost him any of his own personal money.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA for short)(B for even shorter) imposes a $250,000 cap on post-election fundraising to reimburse the candidate for personal cash or loans given to the campaign. Cruz gave his 2018 Senate campaign against Beto O'Rourke $260,000. That's a difference, as Donald Trump's doctors will tell you, of 239 lbs.

Cruz's lawsuit argues the reimbursement limit violates the Constitution, screeching, "The First Amendment commands that 'Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech.'" Because spending money is a form of speech. Or, as Republican political theorists put it, "My Mercedes is louder than your Toyota Yaris."

To Cruz's credit, his contention that money equals speech is consistent. I once asked the Senator how he was doing and he responded by throwing a twenty in my face. I think that meant, "I'm good, thank you!"

This lawsuit is an important moment is American legal history. For once, someone is standing up for the big guy. For too long, the upper classes of our great nation have had their voices ignored. Ted Cruz says "ENOUGH! All U.S. citizens deserve a voice, whether they be rich, wealthy, affluent, or merely loaded."

I beg the courts to allow Senator Cruz to have his $10,000 back. He needs it to buy soup. And accidental porn.

And stamps.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Presidential Campaign As Literature

Presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave an interview in which he compared running for president to James Joyce's Ulysses:

You're a big James Joyce buff. Is running for president more like Ulysses or  Finnegans Wake? 
Definitely more like Ulysses than it is like Portrait. Finnegans Wake is dream speak. Ulysses is consciousness meeting reality. But here's why I think Ulysses is extremely relevant. People believe Ulysses is this complex, difficult, inscrutable text full of references. And it is a difficult text, but its subject matter couldn't be more democratic. It's about a guy going about his day for one day. That's the plot of Ulysses. And, to me, that's what makes it very touching. You're in this guy's head, and you're kind of seeing life through his eyes, and at the end through his wife's eyes.

I'm so sick of these candidates pandering to the basest cultural instincts of American voters. You think we're too stupid to understand truly intellectual literary references? Enough. As a candidate for president myself, I want to end this brain-shaming, for I am not afraid to talk up to my fellow citizens. When Esquire chooses to interview me:

If one must compare a presidential campaign to civilization's finest written works, I suggest it is more Behind the Bell by Dustin Diamond than Snooki's A Shore Thing. Snooki's description of a co-star farting is an apt metaphor for debating Joe Biden, but a true understanding of seeking office is best summed up in Diamond's description of Tiffani Amber-Thiessen: "'Saved By the Bell''s set whore and Hollywood's pass-around girl."

And everyone is so impressed that Buttigieg learned Norwegian so he could enjoy an author whose works hadn't been translated into English. Big deal. I read William Shatner's Live Long and...:What I Learned Along the Way and no one cares that I taught myself Canadian to do it.

Monday, January 14, 2019

TSA Problems

The government shutdown is leading to chaos and long lines at America's airports. One overworked and not-at-all paid TSA agent comes up with a solution.

https://youtu.be/uT_hEgkTZfA

Thursday, July 16, 2015

In Defense of Jeb Bush: A Letter from an American Factory Worker, 1884





Hello, my name is Joseph. There is no greater joy than to be an American in this, the year of our Lord 1884. I have the immense pleasure to work in one of George Pullman’s railroad car factories. What an honor! I am so lucky. This is a profession professed by God himself. Excuse me for one moment, I really need to pee.

Thank you, Mr. Foreman, sir. I’m so glad you stopped me. Gee, what was I thinking? I selfishly desired to relieve myself, therefore depriving the great Pullman Palace Car Company of my labor. If I had not worked for the 90 seconds it would have taken me to empty my bladder, I could have cost Mr. Pullman almost the equivalent of the value of one-eighth of one cigar. Who am I to deprive that great man of almost the equivalent of the value of one-eighth of one cigar? He is a titan of industry, a captain of capitalism, a linchpin of the Gilded Age! I am but a lowly, insignificant factory machinist.

But does not the Declaration of Independence proclaim that all men are created equal? I’m just pulling your leg. We do have a good laugh on the line. Sorry, Mr. Foreman, sir. How right he would be to dock my pay for giggling. I am so grateful that the few rich mercantile shepherds allow such a meager lamb as myself to be a part of their industrial flock. How kind of Mr. Pullman to allow me to toil in this magnificent factory.

Oh, look. Harold’s had his arm sheared off. Luckily, he’s been immediately replaced by a ten-year-old girl. At least that child won’t be wasting her time receiving an education. How glorious it is to be disposable. Worthless and disposable! 

I feel guilty taking a paycheck and stealing money from the family of the esteemed Mr. Pullman. These pangs of guilt keep me awake the six hours a day I’m not at work. Do you realize that my monthly wage would pay for almost an hour of Mr. Pullman’s eldest son’s Harvard education? What a terrible feeling to know that every time I feed sawdust-laden oatmeal to my family, I am depriving Master Pullman of the opportunity to skip class due to the complications of prostitute-induced syphilis.

I thank God every day that, although I do take a paycheck each month, it is given to me not in United States currency but in company scrip that can only be used at the company-owned store and to pay rent on our company-owned housing in the city upon a hill that is our company-owned town of Pullman, Illinois.

I’m so glad my ancestors came to this great nation so that I may live the American dream. This dream will only become a nightmare if the perfection of our system is destroyed by those lazy, evil unionizers who would slap the hand of laissez-faire capitalism, forcing us common laborers into a misguided and sinful life of ease. Can you imagine the 60 hour work week? Such sloth!

If this sad tale comes to fruition, one can only hope that some great man in the distant future, say in the year 2015, comes along to put things right, to demand that we lessers should work more hours for our betters. Only then can this land become great again.

May God bless America and may Mr. Pullman bless America!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Thom Tillis Welcomes You to Pissburger

 
Hello, I'm North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis. Have you ever visited your local fast food establishment and thought, "This burger is good but, golly gee whiz, it's missing that certain flavor that can only come from being prepared under the most unhygienic of conditions"? Now you can push those uncontaminated thoughts aside thanks to my new restaurant Pissburger.

At Pissburger, we believe that American businesses are being strangled by burdensome government regulations like the ridiculous rule that employees must wash their hands after using the restroom. How dare Barack Hussein Obama and his jack-booted Washington thugs tell an American citizen how to run his business? Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave while enjoying one of our delicious burgers.

A Pissburger patty is a juicy mixture of the finest ground chuck, a special blend of herbs and spices, and a substantial amount of urine and fecal matter, on a brioche bun, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a substantial amount of urine and fecal matter.

Everyone is talking about Pissburger! Let's hear from just a few of our customers:
  • "I tried the deluxe pissburger with a side of sweet potato fries. You know the old saying - a moment on the lips, three straight days of vomiting and diarrhea."
  • "The peanut butter milkshake reminded me of licking a urinal and I know about licking urinals. I went to private school."
  • "Margaret Harden, 37, of Boone, North Carolina, entered into rest February 2, 2015, after a family dinner at Pissburger. A husband and two children survive her but are not at all well."
Come on down to Pissburger, the regulation-free eatery that made the Raleigh News and Observer's food critic exclaim, "Thank God for Obamacare!" That reminds me, I'm going to vote to repeal Obamacare like 57 times. Now, if you'll excuse me, I drank three pink lemonades while eating a spicy lamb Vindaloo. Time to make some signature Pissburger flavor.

I'm Thom Tillis and I approve this substantial amount of urine and fecal matter.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Muppet Show's New Congress Special


FADE IN:

INT. - MUPPET SHOW GUEST DRESSING ROOM

Close-up on the dressing room door. It opens. SCOOTER pokes his head in.

SCOOTER
Barack Obama! Five minutes to air, Barack Obama!

The camera pulls back to reveal BARACK OBAMA sitting at the make-up table.

BARACK OBAMA
Thank you, Scooter.

SCOOTER
Don't screw up the show like you screwed up the election.

Scooter slams the door. Barack Obama looks into the camera.

BARACK OBAMA
Everyone's a critic!

CUT TO the OPENING CREDITS.

At the end of the credits, GONZO prepares to blow the final note on his trumpet. As the cue approaches, BILL CLINTON enters and pushes Gonzo out of the frame. Bill Clinton blows the final note on his sax. He looks into the camera and grins.

BILL CLINTON
Where's that Miss Piggy at?

CUT TO:

INT. - MUPPET THEATRE MAINSTAGE

KERMIT THE FROG enters.

KERMIT
Welcome to the Muppet Show's New Congress Special! Tonight's special guest is the 44th President of the Untied States, Barack Obama!

Applause. Obama enters.

BARACK OBAMA
Thank you, Kermit. I'm delighted to be here.

KERMIT
It's our pleasure, Mr. President. Are you almost ready for your big musical number?

BARACK OBAMA
I sure am, Kermit. It's not often that I'm invited to perform. The last time I was asked to sing was by Chicago special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald.

KERMIT
The band should be just about set.

JOHN BOEHNER and ERIC CANTOR enter.

JOHN BOEHNER
Hold on! Hold on one second, please.

KERMIT
Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor!

Applause.

JOHN BOEHNER
We've decided to change the song.

KERMIT
But I'm the producer.

JOHN BOEHNER
We're taking over. Eric and I have chosen a different song.

ERIC CANTOR
Here are the lyrics, Mr. President.

Cantor hands Obama a lyric sheet.

KERMIT
Mr. President, you don't have to do a different song if you don't want to.

JOHN BOEHNER
Yes you do. We own your skinny ass now.

Cantor elbows Boehner.

JOHN BOEHNER (cont'd)
I mean, we kindly request that you perform our choice. We even have your costume prepared.

BARACK OBAMA
Well, ok, Mr. Speaker. I had my heart set on the original number, but compromising with Republicans is what my presidency is all about. I'm ready to go, Kermit.

Obama, Boehner, and Cantor exit.

KERMIT
Sure thing, Mr. President. (to camera) And now, ladies and gentlemen, here's President Barack Obama! Yay!

The curtain opens. Obama is center stage, dressed as Adolf Hitler. He proceeds to sing the Beatles' "I'm a Loser." Each verse ends with a recording of Nazis shouting "Sieg Heil!" The song ends. The curtain closes. Applause.

CUT TO:

INT. - STATLER AND WALDORF'S BOX

STATLER
What state is he from?

WALDORF
Illinois.

STATLER
That makes sense.

WALDORF
Why?

STATLER
Because he's made me ill with his noise.

They both laugh.

CUT TO:

INT. - BACKSTAGE

Kermit stands at his desk. The musicians walk behind him.

KERMIT
Great job, guys.

FOZZIE BEAR enters.

FOZZIE
Hey Kermit, when do I get to meet the President?

KERMIT
I don't know, Fozzie. He's a very busy man.

FOZZIE
Aw, but I haven't been near a President since I hosted the Correspondents' Dinner in '78.

KERMIT
And that's why you haven't been near a President since.

FOZZIE
But my jokes were funny.

KERMIT
You called Rosalyn Carter a "sloppy whore.”

MISS PIGGY pops out of her dressing room.

FOZZIE
Uh-oh.

MISS PIGGY
Hey! Bear!

FOZZIE
Look at the time! I gotta....

MISS PIGGY
Freeze, furball! Did moi hear a bad word said of the great Rosalyn Carter? She led this country through a difficult time.

KERMIT
But Piggy, she was First Lady. Her husband....

Miss Piggy Karate-chops Kermit who falls to the floor.

MISS PIGGY
Behind every great man is a greater woman actually doing all the work.

Clinton's voice comes from Miss Piggy's dressing room.

BILL CLINTON (O.S.)
Hey, Miss Piggy. Why don't you get your swiney heiney back up here. I have a hankerin' for some pig-in-a-blanket.

MISS PIGGY
I must fly. Au revoir!

Miss Piggy exits to her dressing room. Kermit looks dejected.

KERMIT
Pig-in-a-blanket?

FOZZIE
I know. She usually prefers toad-in-the-hole. Wakka wakka!

Kermit shoots him an angry look.

FOZZIE (cont'd)
It's a joke. I'm implying that you put your....

GONZO enters.

GONZO
The stage is set for the next sketch, boss.

KERMIT
Thanks, Gonzo.

Kermit shoots Fozzie one more look as he exits.

CUT TO:

INT. - MUPPET MAINSTAGE

KERMIT (to camera)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special treat for you: a speech by the President of the United States. Yay!

Kermit exits as the curtains open. We see Obama at a lectern. A seal is perched upon it.

BARACK OBAMA
Um, Gonzo?

Gonzo enters.

GONZO
Yes, Mr. President?

BARACK OBAMA
What is this?

GONZO
What is what, sir?

BARACK OBAMA
This seal.

GONZO
Your press secretary said that any podium you speak from must have a seal on it. And Ellen here has never been on TV before.

The seal gives off an adorable roar.

BARACK OBAMA
No, not that kind of seal, Gonzo. A Presidential seal.

GONZO
Presidential, huh? Gee, Ellen's never been president. I don't even think she's registered to vote.

BARACK OBAMA
Let's pass on this whole thing.

Obama exits. The seal makes an angry seal noise.

GONZO
Now, now, Ellen. That's just a rumor. He's produced a certificate of live birth.

CUT TO:

INT. - BACKSTAGE

A dejected Obama crosses past Boehner and Cantor.

BARACK OBAMA
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Majority Leader.

JOHN BOEHNER
Mr. President.

ERIC CANTOR
Mr. President.

JOHN BOEHNER
He looked kid of sad. Should we go console him?

ERIC CANTOR
Nah. What he needs is a good vacation. We'll send him on a nice long trip back to Illinois in January 2013.

Fozzie enters.

FOZZIE
Aw! Did I miss the President again?

ERIC CANTOR
I'm afraid so, Fozzie.

FOZZIE
At least I'm here with the two most powerful people in the House of Representatives. That's a treat!

JOHN BOEHNER
Thank you, Fozzie. No hard feelings?

FOZZIE
Hard feelings? What are you talking about?

JOHN BOEHNER
Our opposition to the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

FOZZIE
Why would I have hard feelings about that?

JOHN BOEHNER
Oh, come on! Look at you. Look at that little hat and tie.

ERIC CANTOR
In Virginia, we call that “queer markins.”

FOZZIE
But I'm just a bear!

JOHN BOEHNER
Isn't that what furry homosexuals call themselves?

ERIC CANTOR
I believe so.

Gonzo enters.

FOZZIE
Hey, this one wants to marry a chicken!

Former Senator RICK SANTORUM enters.

RICK SANTORUM
See! I told you that would come next!

CUT TO:

INT. - MUPPET MAINSTAGE

Kermit enters.

KERMIT
That's it for our Muppet Show's New Congress Special. I'd like to thank our guests Barack Obama, John Boehner, and Eric Cantor.

Obama, Boehner, and Cantor enter.

JOHN BOEHNER
Thank you, Kermit.

ERIC CANTOR
It was a lot of fun.

Obama looks sheepishly at Boehner and Cantor.

JOHN BOEHNER
You may speak.

BARACK OBAMA
I've enjoyed being on your show, Kermit.

KERMIT
We'll see you next time for the Muppet Show's Michelle Bachmann Presidential Inauguration Special. Yay!

The closing music starts. The other Muppets enter. Rick Santorum enters carrying a chicken. Bill Clinton enters and stands next to Gonzo.

BILL CLINTON
So, are you a chick or what?

Credits.

FADE OUT.