Category Archives: Shapiro

He Works Hardly For the Money

NEWS REPORT:

Donald Trump has asked to be allowed to live at Mar-A-Lago permanently, claiming he is an employee and therefore eligible for an exemption prohibiting members of the club from living there fulltime. 

Lights up on the Human Resources office of the Mar-A-Lago club in Palm Beach Florida. Seated at her desk is MARLA, the HR Manager. She is reading through a file, then uses the intercom to buzz her secretary.

MARLA: June, is the next candidate for the open position still waiting?

JUNE: (over the intercom) Yes, he’s still here. I think he’s getting a little jumpy.

MARLA: OK tell him to come in, but June (sotto voce) make sure to buzz me in a few minutes, you know the drill.

JUNE: (over the intercom) Got it Ms. Marple.

DONALD TRUMP enters from the waiting room.

MARLA: Welcome, please have a seat.

DONALD: Any seat? Can I sit where I want?

MARLA: Take your pick.

DONALD looks around sees there is only one other chair, considers it, then carefully sits down.

MARLA: (looking at the file) Now Donald, may I call you Don?

DONALD: I prefer the 45th president.

MARLA: OK, Don, my name is Marla Marple and I’m head of HR here at Mar-A-Lago. I understand you are applying for a position with the club, but it doesn’t say exactly which position.

DONALD: I’ll take anything.

MARLA: (smiling wearily) Yes, well, as you may guess, many people want to work here…

DONALD: I’m totally legal. I have a birth certificate to prove I was born in the USA. Just like that Springstern song says.

MARLA: OK, that’s helpful, but I mean most people who want to work here have a specific job they are applying for. Your application just says “anything where I get to live here and you won’t send me back to New York”.

DONALD: Yes, I can’t go back there.

MARLA: And that’s because?

DONALD: Tax reasons.

MARLA: You owe back taxes?

DONALD: Suuuurrrree.

DONALD looks to see what kind of reaction that gets from MARLA. Her face is noncommittal. 

DONALD: I had some problems with my past returns, they were always getting audited, I’d show them to you but you know they are still under audit, but they are perfectly fine, nothing wrong with them, it was a perfect call…

MARLA: What call?

DONALD: Um, what?

MARLA: What call are you talking about?

DONALD: No call, nothing, fake news.

MARLA: All right then. I see here on your application you spent the last four years in Washington D.C., is that correct?

DONALD: I drained the swamp.

MARLA: So you were a plumber?

DONALD sees an in with MARLA

DONALD: I was the best plumber. The bigleyest.

MARLA: I’m sorry, you were what?

DONALD: The bigleyest. You know, better than the best.

MARLA: Oh, okay, bigleyest. Well, sure

DONALD: You know Miss Marple…

MARLA: It’s Ms. Marple.

DONALD: Whatever. Marla Marple. I used to be married to someone with a name very similar to yours.

MARLA: So you’re divorced?

DONALD: No, I’m still married. At least for the moment.

MARLA: To Marla?

DONALD: No, Melania.

MARLA: Marla sounds like Melania?

DONALD: No Melania sounds like, um, Melania. Marla is my former wife.

MARLA: Ah, a first marriage.

DONALD: No a second.

MARLA: Right, Melania is your second marriage.

DONALD: No, Melania is my third marriage.

MARLA: Who was your first marriage?

DONALD: Ivana.

MARLA: So Ivana was on first, Marla was on second, and Melania is on third. Any children?

DONALD: Ivanka.

MARLA: Is that a son or a daughter?

DONALD: A daughter of course. If it was a son it would be Donka.

MARLA: OK, any other children?

DONALD: With Ivana there was also Don Jr. and, um, the slow one. Then with Marla there was Tiffany, we named her after..

MARLA: The singer?

DONALD: No, where she was conceived. And with Melania there’s Barron.

MARLA: Your son is a baron?

DONALD leans in to MARLA

DONALD: And one day he’ll be king.

MARLA: OK, so may I ask, why did you leave your last position?

DONALD: I didn’t leave it, I’m still there, it’s still my job, I’m not a loser.

MARLA: You still have this other job?

DONALD: I won that job in a landslide, everybody knows it. A landslide! Vlad said it would be no problem, just like when I won the first time. But then they had to go and let everyone vote by mail and Vlad said just get someone to screw up the mail system but even that didn’t work so I made a few phone calls, perfect phone calls…

MARLA: Oh the phone call you mentioned earlier?

DONALD: No this was another call, but just as perfect. Except he recorded it…by the way, if I get this job I don’t have to go to Georgia, do I?

MARLA: Georgia? No, we need someone to be the night super, I can’t see us needing to send the night super to Georgia.

DONALD: Good, can’t go there right now.

MARLA: Another tax problem?

DONALD: Suuuurrrreee.

MARLA: OK, well let me explain, the night super job requires you be up late at night, you probably won’t have to do much but you need to be awake and alert throughout the night. Do you think you can handle doing that?

DONALD inhales deeply through his nose.

DONALD: Yes, I don’t think that will be a problem.

The intercom buzzes. 

JANE: (over the intercom) Ms. Marple your two o’clock is here.

MARLA: Well thank you for coming in Don. I’ve got one more applicant to see and we’ll let you know.

DONALD: Another applicant? It’s not Joe is it? I’m not losing another job to Joe.

MARLA: Actually it’s a woman applicant I’ve got next.

DONALD: Hillary!!

BLACKOUT

 

SHAPIRO out

Closing Time

Fry's Electronics Palo Alto

The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day

Fry’s Electronics is dead.

This is quite literately matricide, the industry it suckled and nurtured killed it.

For those of you not in the know, if Silicon Valley was the epicenter of the tech explosion, Fry’s was the epicenter of Silicon Valley. It’s iconic stores, each decked out in an outlandishly silly individual design theme (Wild West, Aztec Temple, 50’s Sci Fi, etc) were the go to place for the equipment the people who created the new world we live in. Beyond being an electronics store, it was a clubhouse for geeks and nerds who wandered it’s aisles filled with components, computer hazari, almost porn men’s magazines, and enough junk food to fuel an all night coding jag.

If you couldn’t find what you needed there you went home and invented it.

My first exposure to the geek underground was in a Fry’s. Told by my brother in law it was the place to go for the add on component I needed for my Apple IIC “portable” computer (it had a handle on the case so you could carry it around — along with the CRT monitor) I ventured into the voluminous Old West themed Palo Alto store, buried deep in an anonymous industrial park on a side street that if you blinked you missed. Once you got past the hitching posts outside the door and the statue of a cowboy being bucked off his horse by the customer service counter you gazed out onto the new west’s version of the endless prairie, aisles upon aisles of electronic components, anything a computer jockey could ever need. In those days it was not uncommon to find a shopper pushing a grocery cart filled with every small or large widget needed to complete your own home brew computer. 

After finding everything you needed and having scanned the magazine aisle for half an hour (they carried not only computer related mags and almost porn, but every magazine then being published) you would stand on a line that stretched for what seemed like blocks to make your purchase. In the final stretch the aisle became crowded with junk food, a concession to the owners’ father who came out of the grocery industry and insisted they sell some food products “as a fall back”. A person stood at the front of the line and would point to one of the 30 cash registers lined up like a bureaucrat’s wet dream and off you would go to hand over your credit card. Incongruously for a store brimming with Old West memorabilia the registers were always manned by Indians. A few Pakistanis mixed in, but mostly Indians.

The first time I heard of this thing called Google was standing in that line and overhearing two Stanford students talking about how much better the campus search engine was than Yahoo. That kind of info gathering was the primary reason for going to Fry’s even though you weren’t there to buy components. There was more tech being spoken in those aisles than anywhere else in the world. Those older well dressed gentlemen wandering the networking equipment aisles weren’t there predatorily searching for young men with a big thing, they were looking for young men with the next big thing. Rumor had it venture capitalists paid big finder’s fees to salespeople who overheard something while replenishing the stacks of 8 bit motherboards.

Amazingly, incredibly, Fry’s was late to the e-tailing world.  Just like Sears with clothing and B. Daltons with books, Fry’s hesitated to get involved with selling over the internet. They could have kept Amazon at e-bay had they not insisted that customers needed to come into the store to buy their desired product. Instead the very companies Fry’s outfitted made them a dinosaur.

And now they are extinct.

As a convenient cover, the owners are blaming COVID, but the reality is the Palo Alto store was closed in December 2019 and in fact from what had once been a chain of 31 stores there were only 5 left when this morning’s notice was posted. Some will say the dot com bust of 2001 that forced the company to start selling appliances, TVs, and other consumer electronics was the end of the “real” Fry’s. In truth yes, in the last 20 years you were more likely to run into the mom who lives next door searching for a kid’s video game than the next Sergey Brin, but there were still some aisles that were just for the tech geeks; interlopers ventured into those spaces at their own risk. Manufacturer reps could still be found regularly prowling the aisles to see what consumers were stopping to gawk at. The magazine aisle was replaced with a magazine rack, but those magazines were the ones the tech crowd really wanted to read. And if you could find one there were still a few salesmen who could walk you through your project specs, suggest what you needed, dismiss what you didn’t, and give you a pretty good idea if you were on to potentially the next big thing. Or they could sigh deeply, point a finger, and say “Aisle 48” when you asked for a DVD cleaning kit.

A while back they pretty much stopped all their advertising but when meeting new people I’d get a true idea of how long they had lived in the Bay Area by quizzing them with “Finish the slogan…Your best buys….”.

If they answered “are always at Fry’s” I knew they were good people. Guaranteed.

 

Shapiro Out

The Perseverance of Science

 

Marvin The Martian

You Make Me Soooo Angry

 

NASA has released video of Perseverance landing on Mars.

I have to admit, watching it makes me a little verklempt (it’s Yiddish, look it up).

I am of the the generation that grew up with the Space Race. I remember TVs being wheeled into elementary school classrooms so we could watch the Mercury, then Gemini, then Apollo rockets lift the men with the Right Stuff off into the wild blue yonder. There was a time when I could name all the Astronauts, the names of their ships (capsules), and what their particular missions accomplished in the contest to be first to the moon.

And that does not make me unique. All my friends could do it too. I suspect at the time most Americans  could do it. It was a national obsession that in it’s backstory had a basis in our fear of what our opponents, the Roos-skies, were doing.

But then Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon and overnight we seemed to move on. TV stopped covering launches in real time. Even the grainy black and white images of men scampering on the moon became fodder for the “B” block or even latter in Walter Cronkite’s evening recap of the news.

Then last week NASA landed a jeep on Mars, complete with a helicopter and a dozen Go-Pros (yes, really, all the cameras are off the shelf) and this morning, due to the fact it takes a couple of days to get a signal from Mars back to Earth, they released the video of the actual landing and I found myself tearing up as the megapack hit the surface.

I thought about the stunning scientific achievement I was watching and the joy in the Jet Propulsion Lab of the dozens of scientists and engineers seeing years of commitment and sacrifice finally pay off. They were celebrating more than just the capstone to that commitment and sacrifice. They were celebrating science itself.

Science has had a rough go of it the last few decades. It gets disregarded, shamed, and generally dismissed. Science, unless directly connected to the digital world, has gone from core curriculum in schools to elective class. Commerce overwhelms science as the events in Texas last week showed. Hell, the last bastion of unapologetic comedic shaming is making fun of smart people aka The Big Bang Theory.

Worst of all, conspiracy theories have replaced the scientific method as our means of understanding the world. Teaching science to high school kids isn’t about making them into future scientists. It’s about teaching them to see a problem and explore all the logical explanations that will lead to a solution or, dare I say, truth. That process will carry over into their lives in so many ways that will have nothing to do with science. For instance if they understand the scientific method they are more likely to say 81,000,000 is greater than 74,000,000 and all of your “Big Lie” just doesn’t hold up to critical thought.

Meanwhile I will follow with great interest the adventures of Perseverance of Mars. Deep down I hope it discovers that there was once a thriving civilization on Mars that destroyed itself through it’s disregard for science and truth. Maybe then earthlings will begin to take seriously the danger of disregarding science.

But even then we’ll probably be told it’s all made up by “scientists” to just “save their jobs”. You know, fake news.

Shapiro Out

The Lady, The Dale, And I

Liz Carmichael

You wanna see what’s under the hood? That’ll cost ya.

There is a nifty little four part documentary series on HBO called The Lady and The Dale. 

It is about Elizabeth Carmichael, founder of 20th Century Motor Car Company, the maker of The Dale, a three wheeled auto that she proclaimed would get 70 miles to the gallon of gas. When the company was founded in 1973 at the height of the Arab Oil Embargo, an assertion that a car could get 70 miles to the gallon had suckers…er…I mean potential buyers lined up outside her San Fernando Valley showroom/offices.

I ought to know. I saw them lined up when I delivered office supplies to 20th Century Motor Car.

My family owned an office supply company, Crest Stationers, “The Biggest Clip Joint In The Valley” as my father liked to proclaim. Summers I would work there making deliveries, riding around Los Angeles with a driver who might have still had one or two teeth left. We’d pull up in front of the customer’s business, I’d jump out, grab the boxes from the back and shoot into the office while he kept the van running so we could take off as soon as I ran out with the signed delivery slip.

I never saw a car or Elizabeth Carmichael, but then again I wouldn’t have paid much attention if I did. It was easy in, easy out, and as far as I was concerned just another boring business office. That was as opposed to the warehouses with the flimsy wall separating the reception area from the specialty movie studio in the back. What can I say, I was a teenager and it was the mid 1970’s in the San Fernando Valley. PT Anderson made a documentary about those days.

Getting back to this documentary, as you might have guessed it was all a scam. There was a prototype car but no others were ever built, this despite the fact that the men she hired to build it were dedicated to the project and wanted it to succeed even when they stopped getting paid. There was immense hype over the car, but none were ever delivered despite Liz having collected $3,000,000 in deposits for cars and dealerships. And one day the entire house of car(d)s came tumbling down.

The money should have gone into an escrow account. Instead it was used to fund the company. Or perhaps it went somewhere else. In either case that’s securities fraud. The Feds take a rather dim view of that. Not to mention that a little investigating into the background of Elizabeth Carmichael turned up a rather interesting tidbit.

Elizabeth Carmichael was a fugitive wanted for counterfeiting. She might have thought she could get away with it since that charge had been under her original name.

Jerry Dean Michael

Elizabeth Carmichael was a transsexual, what we now call transgender, and for a short period of time she was probably the most famous trans woman in the world. That time was not however when she was promoting the car. It was after she got arrested and was on trial.

Now this is where our antagonist, our Inspector Javert, comes into this drama, the investigative reporter who first broke the case. He was a local KABC TV reporter named Dick Carlson. If you lived in LA you might remember him from those days. He was the reporter whose stories always got the breathless plug during Marcus Welby M.D. that ended with the admonition of “Film at 11”.

This story came along at a unique time in local TV news. “If it bleeds it leads” was morphing into “bring on the freak show”. Journalistic standards were loosening in the scrum for ratings that was local news. And in the mid 1970’s there was nothing more freaky than a man who openly lived as a woman. Add in this person was a scam artist and 26 news reports on this story later Dick Carlson was the king of local Los Angeles TV news.

After she was found guilty and while she was awaiting sentencing Liz Carmichael took off. Fled. Went back to her ways as a fugitive. No one knew where she was. Dick Carlson suddenly found his prized story, which had been about to wrap up, reinvigorated. The hunt was on!

His hunt at one point took him to La Jolla California, just down the road from Los Angeles. Actually it wasn’t so much his hunt but the fact his son was playing in a tennis tournament down there and he went to watch. But while he was waiting for his son to play he watched a women’s match and one of the participants looked familiar. So familiar in fact that he went to one of the tournament organizers and said “That woman’s a man”.

Was it Liz Carmichael? No, but it was a trans woman who was minding her own business, just looking to have some fun playing tennis.

And that’s how the world came to know Renee Richards.

Dick Carlson was making a career of outing trans women.

Meanwhile Liz was still on the run. She was caught in Texas eight years later after an episode of Unsolved Mysteries alerted her new neighbors to her status. Arrested and returned to LA she was sentenced to prison (mens) where she spent 30 months before being released.

The story is fascinating, the documentary is well made (I especially liked the collage animations used), but I have a problem with it’s conclusion. The filmmakers make Carmichael out to be a heroine, a proud trans woman who fought the system but was ultimately beaten down by it. No she wasn’t, she was a con artist and rightly deserved to spend time in prison. Her con was not that she was “passing herself off as a woman” it was that she stole money from people by promising something she knew she couldn’t deliver. Man, woman, or trans, that is wrong.

By all means celebrate those transgenders who endured ridicule to raise the profile of their tribe. Celebrate the ones whose courage to be themselves was and continues to be a principled stand in the face of convention and societal norms. Just don’t celebrate a criminal who stole not just money but hope from the people who worked for her, trusted her, and believed in her.

Oh and Dick Carlson? He got in good with the folks who bankrolled a former California governor to run for president. When that guy was elected part of the payback was that Dick Carlson became the head of the Voice of America. Then he was president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Then ambassador to the Seychelles. And his son (not the tennis player) who ironically shares a name with another famous failed auto, ended up following in his dad’s footsteps and doing his part to destroy the integrity of journalism in America.

Shapiro Out

 

The Two Andys

Andy Taylor

Barney I told ya to stop messin’ with those Antifa fellas

Andy Sipowicz

Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen

The no longer failing New York Times has an article today about how police departments across the country are making attempts to weed out “political extremists” (the rest of us call them Fascists) from their ranks.

Imagine that, far right wingnuts patrolling our streets, armed and pretty much impervious to judicial oversight. Who could have imagined?

The article centers on an Oklahoma sheriff who was part of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6. He claims he was just there for the donuts…er…I mean the rally, but information obtained by other law enforcement officials and passed on to the FBI show that he was making celebratory phone calls from within the building.

We all know, or at least we should all know, that any police force is going to be riddled with those who tend to the conservative side of things. They see the world as good and evil, with themselves as the good and everyone else as at least potentially evil. The good cops know they are there to enforce the laws and protect the citizenry regardless of their own personal views. Unfortunately too many bad ones forget to check their views at the station door, patrolling the streets with the attitude of doing it to them before they do it to you.

But in the age of Trump those who send out George Floyd “You Take My Breath Away” Valentines Cards are outnumbering the ones who take seriously their admonishment to “Protect and Serve”. They publicly advocate their political positions even while on the job with little if any consequence. Only in the most extreme cases, and it’s rare this happens, are officers dismissed. Klan members, white supremacists, Nazis (neo and full bore), and other antigovernmental actors attend rallies, post on social media, and advocate with impunity and with imprimatur from their stations as law enforcement officials.

In most any company anywhere in this country if an employee openly advocated a political position, no matter if it was conservative or liberal, they would be told by their boss to knock it off or face dismissal. In police and sheriff departments there seems to have been a refusal to admonish even the most incendiary of political positions. Our boy in Oklahoma and as many as 30 other KNOWN police officials took part in a violent uprising with the intention of overthrowing the legally elected government of the United States. All they seem to be getting are the “well boys will be boys” treatment from their departments.

It goes even farther though.

Sometimes groups opposed to the government emerge within law enforcement itself. Hundreds have joined the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, for example, which claims that sheriffs have the last word on whether any U.S. or local law is constitutional and should be enforced or not.

Or in other words, we believe in America, we just don’t believe in anything it stands for.

In many cities and towns the police are looked upon as an occupying force, not the least bit because of all the military hardware they now deploy. Armored personal carriers, high tech mobile command centers, even tanks, are to be found on Main Street or Broadway as surely as they are to be found in Afghanistan. Even ordinary squad cars are filled with anti-personal weaponry. They will tell you all of that is needed to keep the streets safe. It’s not. It’s just making the problem worse, especially when the fingers on the triggers of all those lethal toys belong to people who believe the guy in the gunsight is a lesser human being then themselves.

The way to end this plague is with education and training. We need to institute national standards for law enforcement officers. These standards should include at a minimum mandatory college level courses in criminal justice, de-escalation training, some psychology training, full scale fire arms training, and an expansion of police academy training time which currently averages less than six months. It takes two years to become a CPA, it should take at least that long to be handed a weapon and pointed out onto the street.

By the way, if you think these standards are overly onerous, keep in mind they are the minimum standards of most western European countries.

But most of all it needs to be drilled into those in law enforcement that their personal beliefs have to be put aside not only when a badge is pinned on their chest but for as long as they continue to be employed by law enforcement. Yes, even off duty they can’t be spouting political rhetoric and it doesn’t matter whether that rhetoric is Stop The Steal or Black Lives Matter. If we as the citizens of a community give to them the enormous power that police officers have and the enormous protection that police officers receive in the furtherance of their duties, then police officers have the obligation to at ALL TIMES refrain from getting involved in political discourse. Nothing in the station house, nothing in the squad car, nothing in the locker room. No joining political groups or even signing petitions. Their position has to be one of extreme neutrality. In exchange they receive a guaranteed paycheck, a job for life that’s almost impossible to lose, and most importantly the respect and admiration of those they are mandated to protect. It will probably even make their job easier as tensions between the police and the policed will decrease.

In other words, more Andy Taylor and less Andy Sipowicz.

The last word, as it so often does, goes to The Clash

Shapiro Out

Texas to Florida: Hold m’ Beer, Watch This

Dr. Hasan Gokal

Sometimes you’re a hero, sometimes you’re a brown skinned villain.

This whole COVID vaccine mishigas (per the Chief I’m trying to use more Yiddish) is getting so as you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys.

Above you see Dr. Hasan Gokal of Houston, TX. Until recently he was the medical director for Harris County’s Covid-response team. In that capacity he was put in charge of getting those precious cc’s of vaccine into the arms of local citizens.

On Dec. 29, a mild Tuesday, Dr. Gokal arrived before dawn at a park in the Houston suburb of Humble to supervise a vaccination event intended mostly for emergency workers. In part because of minimal publicity, the pace was slow, with no more than 250 doses administered. But this was the county’s first public event, he said. “We knew there would be hiccups.”

Hiccups are one thing. Drink a glass of water while standing on your head and they’re gone. I promise, try it. What he had on his hands was about to become a major headache.

As the event wound to a conclusion Dr. Gokal found himself with an opened vial containing ten more doses that were turning into a ticking time bomb. You might be aware once those vaccine vials are punctured you have six hours to use them before they go bad.

And as the Boss says, vaccine doses these days ain’t cheap.

Now it’s not like Texas medical authorities didn’t have a plan for this probability. In fact it had been laid out to all doctors and nurses who would be administering the shots. If there was a punctured vial with remaining doses:

The advice was to vaccinate people eligible under the 1(a) category (health care workers and residents in long-term-care facilities), then those under the 1(b) category (people over 65 or with a health condition that increases risk of severe Covid-related illness).

After that the message was: “Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.

Faced with the instructions not to let any vaccine go to waste

Dr. Gokal called a Harris County public health official in charge of operations to report his plans to find 10 people to receive the remaining doses. He said he was told, simply: OK.

Dr. Gokal found a hodgepodge of folks who needed and wanted the vax. Some were people he knew, some were friends of friends, and the last was his own wife whose pulmonary sarcoidosis made her eligible for the vaccine. In all he used up the precious vaccine with 15 minutes to spare and after running around the county for close to six hours.

Ten days later he was fired.

The official reason was he administered the vaccine outside the scheduled vaccination event. According to those who were firing him he should have returned the unused vaccine or simply thrown it away. They also said they had questions about the “equity” of who got those last ten shots.

Apparently the officials didn’t like that he gave the shots to people who were friends or friends of friends, literally the only people he could find. That and oh yeah they were brown people with Indian sounding names.

White man says hrumph.

But it gets better.

On January 21, Dr. Gokal’s son opens the front door to their house to find a gaggle of reporters and cameramen screaming for comment on his father’s imminent arrest.

Harris County’s district attorney, Kim Ogg, had just issued a news release that afternoon with the headline: “Fired Harris County Health Doctor Charged With Stealing Vial Of Covid-19 Vaccine.”

Fortunately there is at least one sane person in Texas and he happened to be the judge who was shackled with this. He immediately dismissed the case, adding in

“In the number of words usually taken to describe an allegation of retail shoplifting, the State attempts, for the first time, to criminalize a doctor’s documented administration of vaccine doses during a public health emergency,” he wrote. “The Court emphatically rejects this attempted imposition of the criminal law on the professional decisions of a physician.”

Wonder if that would be his opinion in an abortion case. But I digress.

All’s well that ends well? Oh no, this is Texas baby, we don’t cotton to no judge just up and saying we don’t got a case. DA Ogg is now taking this to the next meeting of the grand jury in March. Apparently she thinks this is a game of Cowboys and Indians and she’s out for his scalp.

Meanwhile Dr. Gokal is out of a job and unable to find one because as we all know the accusation is on page one and the dismissal is on page 27. Yeah Texas that’s smart, keep a doctor out of commission in the middle of a pandemic. As the wife (Cruella) has been known to say, “what the f**k is wrong with our healthcare system?”

I’d like to say a little common sense and all of this would have been avoided, but it’s pretty clear this isn’t about common sense. This issue is as clear as brown and white. There is not a chance in hell that if this doctor had been white and the folks who got the “use it or lose it” vaccinations were white we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. Dr. Gokal would be hailed as a hero and praised for his savvy quick thinking. Just like the white doctors and nurses who were in almost the exact same situation in Oregon a couple of weeks ago, time running out on their vaccines, stuck in the snow, and telling other stuck motorists to roll down their windows and roll up their shirtsleeves.

Instead Harris County Texas DA Ogg wants to send him to jail. I guess she’s tired of Florida holding the title as Chief Dumb Ass State in the Union. Hopefully the appropriately named 10cc won’t be singing this for him.

Shapiro Out

How Many of ‘U’s in Gullible?

 

Trump International Hotel

Step right up, don’t miss the egress!

Oh sweet Ulysses S. Grant on a saloon barstool I swear this is true:

Disgraced former US President* DonnyJohn Trump has a hotel in Washington D.C. just a few blocks from the White House. It served as one of his many side hustles (you know like Dolly sings, it’s all about the “5-9”) over the last years. If you want a deluxe king room at the hotel it normally goes for $476 to $596. But if you want to reserve one for March 3 or 4 it will cost you a sweet $1,331 per night. Two night minimum stay.

“But Shapiro”, you ask, “why would I pay three times the price to stay there in the late winter wonderland that is D.C. in early March?”

Cause Q told you that’s the day DonnyJohn is getting inaugurated for his second term you silly goose. I’ll let the good folks at Business Insider give you the scoop:

 

The importance of March 4 for QAnon supporters is rooted in the bizarre beliefs of the “sovereign citizen” movement.

The basis for that conspiracy theory is that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the US into a corporation. It posits that some Americans are therefore not subject to a variety of federal laws.

Supporters of the theory believe that every president who’s been inaugurated since then is illegitimate; they believe that Ulysses S. Grant was the last legitimate president.

Grant, like other presidents in the 19th century, was inaugurated on March 4. The sovereign-citizen movement posits that the republic will be restored and that Trump will become the US’s 19th president on March 4, 2021.

DonnyJohn is never one to miss out on a chance to scalp the suckers. Did you know these same rooms went for $8000 a night the evenings of January 5 & 6 this year? Hmm, something about those dates sounds familiar….

By the way in case you were wondering no other hotel in D.C. is raising it’s prices for those dates.

I’ll leave you with this musical tribute to Trump’s devoted followers:

Shapiro Out

Remembrance of Super Bowls Past

Logo For Super Bowl 50

L if I know what happened to the Roman numerals.

So it’s Super Bowl Sunday, the official unofficial winter holiday of the USA and this year’s first crack at a super spreader event. It’s tempting to go on about The Kid versus The Old Man or the meaning of sports events at a time of limited fan participation, but I’d like to talk about television and Donald Trump.

What, more words?! Just stay with me.

In the before times I worked in the Hospitality Industry, specifically the Destination Management end of the Hospitality Industry. If those phrases don’t mean anything to you don’t worry. Most people’s eyes glaze over when I use them. Then I explain that it means I’m a tour guide for Northern California and I work primarily with large corporate groups who come in for meetings and “incentive” travel. Generally I then get a “oh cool, that sounds like a fun job” and I will nod and say it certainly is an interesting occupation.

I am an independent contractor. Since no one Destination Management company (DMC) could possibly have full time work for me and those like me we all end up working for many companies. Last year I listed 17 of them on my tax return. TurboTax nearly exploded entering in all that data. In any program there will be the Sponsoring Company (the company the attendees work for or the one footing the bill for the trip), the Client (a planning company hired by the sponsoring company), the local DMC (hired by the Client), and then me (hired by the DMC). I’m the low man on the totem pole, but just like the bottom face on the pole, it all falls over if I don’t do my job right. Part of doing my job right is blending into the background, not being noticeable until needed. Which means I get to hear a lot of conversation.

In 2016 the Super Bowl was held in San Francisco, by which I mean the game was played forty miles away at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Pretty much every attendee was staying in The City since pretty much all the parties were being held there. That week I worked for a DMC who had been hired by a Client who had been engaged by…. well let’s just say a major television network. It was my job to take care of many of the executives of that network, pick them up at the airport, get them to their hotels, to the dinners and parties they were invited to, get them to the game itself and back, then get them back to the airport on Monday morning.

Super Bowl week was the first week of February in 2016. Most of my charges were arriving on the heels of the Iowa Caucuses. I’m sure you’ll remember, and if you say you do there’s a 90% chance you’re lying, the winner of that bizarre Midwest beauty pageant that year was Ted Cruz. But nobody I was working with was talking about Ted Cruz.

Everyone was talking about Donald Trump. And ratings.

The Republican primary debates for that election cycle had been gangbusters for the television news divisions. TV ratings for primary debates usually are somewhere between depressing and drive an executive to suicide, but this year they had actually been decent. Every time Trump opened his mouth another bizarre utterance would emerge and the needle on the ratings meter would tick up another point. He had single handedly taken a moribund format full of arcane policy debates and stiff performances and turned it into must see TV. The ultimate reality show.

My executives were trying to figure out how long it was going to keep on going. They liked their ratings going up, they liked the extra dollars they could charge advertisers, and they knew that to keep it going they were going to have to keep Donald Trump in the race. People may not have wanted to vote for him, but they sure didn’t mind tuning in to see him talk about the size of his penis or a woman’s menstrual period.

But let me make this clear: Not a one of them thought he would win the nomination. Cruz or Marco Rubio, maybe Jeb Bush, were the consensus opinions. Even though Trump was the frontrunner they talked about how he had all the voters he was going to get and once the smaller fish got out of the way (remember there were another 14 vying for the nomination) all those votes would go to either Cruz, Bush, or Rubio leaving Trump a distant memory. It would have been their wet dream for Trump to win the nomination.

So there was a lot of conversation about how much airtime to give Trump both on the evening news and on the Sunday political shows. Right now it was easy, he was the frontrunner. Later on, when things were shaking out and one of the “real” candidates took over the lead, that was when they were going to have to get creative.

We know what happened. Television gave him lots of time. The more time television gave to Trump the more he won Republican voters over. In my opinion I think it was the fact that Cruz and Rubio and especially Jeb Bush were horrible candidates. They inspired nothing, they delivered nothing, and they always seemed afraid of saying something that would put them in the crosshairs of Trump’s vitriolic temper. Trump said ridiculous things and his opponents never fired back at him (a lesson Joe Biden learned from). Trump seemed to be unafraid of what the reaction would be. And if Republican voters were honest with themselves, they knew who ever was nominated was little more than a sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered by the Hillary juggernaut. Why not Trump, at least he was entertaining.

So now it’s four years later. News ratings are at an all time high. Even nontraditional news times have been given over to news. Remember soap operas? They’re pretty much gone, replaced with cheery light news shows because Erika versus Kendall can’t compete with Donald versus Bobby Three Sticks. Instead of sitting down to laugh at Archie Bunker, millions are sitting down to nod in agreement with Tucker Carlson (substitute Maude and Rachel Maddow if you like). Information flows on a constant basis, an addiction that needs to be fed. And take your choice, what version of reality do you want to hear? Conservatives opt for Fox, Liberals for MSNBC, moderates for CNN. Even the crazy QAnons have their own news channels if they can find them. Just sit your ass down in front of the tube and consume. Get angry if you want, the tube likes it when you’re angry cause you need to feed on that which makes you angry. It makes you bolder. You want to do something. You want to smash something. There’s a rally in DC and a march on the Capitol? Yes, feed me. Run through those gates, pound in the doors, search for the congresspeople who the tube has told you are bad. Have no fear, the great TV God Trump will protect you….

It was a great game. It got a 46 rating and a 72 share, one of the highest in Super Bowl history. Oh and the Broncos beat the Panthers.

 

Shapiro Out.

He’s a Refusing to Tackle a Question Dummy

Coach Tommy Tuberville

What’s that? My car warranty is about to expire? Tell me more

I gotta hand it to you southern Americans you surely can pick ’em.

And guess what, I’m not even talking about the Queen Qitch!

I’m talking about the junior senator from Alabama, one Tommy Tuberville. 

Ol’ Coach Tuberville got caught like a deer in the headlights the other day when asked about the Queen Qitch. His response?

“I haven’t even looked at what all she’s done,” Tuberville, a Republican, told CNN about Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Business Insider reported. “I’d have to hold back a statement on that. Travel in this weather it’s been a little rough looking at any news or whatever.”

The weather?! I know D.C. can be a little expensive especially for a humble former major college football coach with a net worth of only $10,000,000, but surely you can afford cable and/or internet in your new digs. And if it’s a newspaper you need I can personally recommend several that will actually BRING IT TO YOUR DOOR even in a snow storm.

And this guy beat Doug Jones a man who took on and beat the Klan and the Olympic Park Bomber. Tuberville couldn’t even beat LSU.

Keep up with these “the dog ate my homework” excuses Tubby and you’ll find Stacey Abrams and her team heading your way. She’ll use you like a tackling dummy.

Shapiro Out

 

It’s A Tu B’shevat Miracle!

Jewish Space Laser

Oy such a punum!

Space lasers. Oh dear god, I’m having to talk about space lasers. Jewish space lasers at that.

Sigh.

The Rothschilds, George Soros, billionaire Jewish bankers. Well when the going gets tough for the loony right why not fall back on some old tried and true tropes. Must admit the space lasers is a new twist though. Marjorie Taylor Greene, or as I’ve been calling her Queen Qitch (#QueenQitch), says space lasers were used to start the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County California. According to her, the fire was set to make way for a bullet train from LA to Sacramento. Unfortunately her grasp of geography is as lax as her grasp of sanity. Butte County is north of Sacramento. Los Angeles is south. No rail corridors were harmed in the making of that fire. Just the most conservative QAnon loving part of the state.

Read between the lines of that particular conspiracy trope and you delve into why conspiracy theories can take hold.

Butte County is rural, 82% white, overwhelmingly evangelical Christian, a median income of $25K a year (as opposed to the California median of $80K), and the two largest employers are the State University at Chico, renown in story and song as the number one party school in the US, and the county healthcare system, both requiring education higher than a high school diploma for employment. It’s one of those counties where unless you’re in school at CSU Chico or attending a party there is really no reason to go there. Butte county hears about California’s economic boom as a rumor, but it hasn’t affected them.

That starts the grumble.

Among many other so-called “liberal causes” Californians whole heartedly have accepted the concept of climate change. We are doing everything an individual state can do to handle a global problem, but that chafes those who feel they are more involved and in tune with the natural environment (rural folks). They see us city slickers as trespassers on their turf, forcing an already economically deprived area into spending on carbon capture technology, improved fuel efficiency, and emission reduction, all in the name of something they don’t believe is real because it’s not in the Farmer’s Almanac.

The grumble feeds and grows stronger.

So when a giant fire destroys a good swath of their land, totally decimating a town ironically called Paradise, they can’t believe that climate change had any part in it. Now yes, the actual spark for the fire came from antiquated power lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electric, but what made what should have been a small wildfire into the largest fire in a century was that the land that spark fell onto had been parched by a six-year drought and a pathetically stupid refusal on the county’s part to engage in forest management or allow the state or federal government to do so. “We don’t know why that fire got so bad but it can’t be our fault”, say the good white citizens of Butte.

The grumble becomes a shout.

Then along comes someone who says “You’re right, it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of a space laser built by the International Jewish Conspiracy”. Those of us who believe in reality try to patiently explain the more complicated reasons for the fire. No, they scream back, we want the easy answer, the sound bite answer, the one that jives with our preconceived notions of the world. Besides the pretty blonde woman with the gun and the big taters says it’s so.

Substitute any of the outrageous lies that have emanated from the sickness that is QAnon but it’s always the same result. The gullible, the undereducated, the guys sitting at home because COVID shut down their workplace, all the shut-ins (incel or not) looking for community and a sense of belonging, they glom onto these quick and easy notions so they can feel better about their own lack of success in life. They stoke each others’ rantings, ginning up the ante bit by bit till at last the basement of a pizza parlor in D.C. is the central headquarters for a global conspiracy involving pedophilia, the Democratic party, and communist world domination. And Jews, don’t forget the Jews.

I would have thought that by now blaming Jews for anything had gone out of style. But then again I would have thought that teaching history would have cured the goyim of that. Instead a recent study found that 63% of Americans under the age of 40 don’t know even the most basic facts about the Holocaust. Hell, 11% of those in the survey think Jews CAUSED the Holocaust. Speaking of Hell, Sheldon Adelson maybe you could have spent some of that money you gave Republicans on basic world history classes for high schools.

It appears Never Again is being replaced with Why Not Again?

I should point out that the space laser commotion came to light on Tu B’shevat which is the Jewish festival celebrating humans connection to the natural environment. Kind of an Arbor Day for the Chosen People. And they say god has no sense of humor.

Shapiro Out

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Shapiro: A Latino Senator On Every Corner

New US Sens. Raphael Warnock, left, Alex Padilla and Jon Ossoff are sworn in on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, by Vice President Kamala Harris. (Image from C-SPAN video)

Inspired by Cassandra’s introduction of her senator Joe Manchin to the wider world now that he’s got a higher profile, I thought I’d introduce all of you to MY new senator from the State of Bliss, aka California, Alex Padilla.

At best what you might have heard about him is that he’s Latino, that’s he from the LA area, and that he was our Secretary of State. Boring. Alex Padilla is in the most interesting man in the world contest. I will bet he drinks Dos Equis as well as a buttery oak tinged Chardonnay from California.

First some background. His parents are Mexican immigrants who came to California in the late 1960’s. Padilla was born in Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley so fer sure, he’s a Valley Boy. He graduated from San Fernando High School before going to MIT where he got a degree in mechanical engineering. Yes, he is the American dream, the son of immigrants who worked hard and got a college education that would get him a high paying white-collar job. But after working for a year or so at a Hughes Aircraft writing software code, he dropped out to get into politics. He worked his way up from Senate aide to Dianne Feinstein, to campaign manager of several successful runs for others, to at 26 being elected to the LA City Council and the next year being elected President of the Council. Election to the State Senate presaged a successful run for Secretary of State.

In 2018 then Lt. Governor and former Kimberly Guilfoyle husband Gavin Newsom had locked up all the Democratic Party nomination so Padilla ran again for Secretary of State. His stock had risen quite a bit the previous year when he was one of the loudest voices opposing Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity or as it came to be known the “Kris Kobach I Don’t Want To Let the Brown People Vote Kommision”. With anti-Trump sentiment at an all-time high in the state that move alone was enough to guarantee re-election.

2020 and COVID made running a presidential election a challenge in a state with 22 million registered voters. He advocated for all counties in the state to adopt the mail in ballot many regularly sent to their citizens. This allowed a voter to fill out the ballot at home then either mail it back, drop it off at designated spots starting twenty days before the election, or just bring it to the polling location on Election Day. The pandemic necessitated immediate implementation in all counties, and it ended up being a successful proving ground for the concept. 81% of registered voters went to the polls in some format with 86% of those voting doing so by “mail in” voting.

When the Biden-Harris ticket took the White House, California was now in need of a new senator. Initial speculation centered on five candidates, but Padilla was clearly the front runner from the beginning. With 40% of California’s population now claiming some form of Latino background it was the politic choice. For the first time in 27 years California will have a male senator and for the first time in our history we will have a Latino senator.

So, what kind of senator will Alex Padilla be?

  • You can expect he will be at the forefront of the immigration reform issue. He is the first senator of what is known as Generation 187. Proposition 187, a referendum voted on in 1994 that would have eliminated all public services, including public education, for any undocumented person in the state had been passed. It was immediately overturned by a court, but it became a clarion call for many Latinos to get involved with politics, Padilla included. Don’t be surprised if this junior senator with the largest Latino constituency spearheads the Biden immigration plan.
  • Tote bags aren’t just giveaways you get for contributing to your local PBS station. Here in California they are in everyone’s car trunk, the necessary outcome of Padilla’s work on the environment. His law bans plastic bags at grocery stores and makes paper bags cost you a quarter. Environmental issues will be paramount for him especially when it concerns, being the senator from wildfire central, climate change.
  • At least initially he’ll be guided by his former boss Feinstein in learning the ways of the senate, but I fully expect he’ll draw the line at hugging Lindsey Graham. While he does prefer to form a consensus it was said of his time on the LA City Council, “it’s not that he didn’t make waves, but he didn’t make enemies”. He’ll be the very model of the modern Senate Democrat.
  • Voting rights will also be on his radar. His motor voter bill here and his experience with the 2020 election puts him in a position to be a point person on this issue. Democrats will be wanting to power up a revised Voting Rights bill, one that the Supremely Unqualified Court can’t pick apart.
  • And of course he will be one of the two senators from Silicon Valley so intellectual property rights, cybersecurity, and high-tech piracy are sure to be issues he will want to tackle. He will be one of the few senators who when some tech exec testifies in front of them will actually be able to go toe to toe on code. That MIT degree means he speaks their language so any work around they may try is likely to fall on deaf ears.

That should be enough for the two years between now and when he must face the voters. Californians like our senators to be out in front on national issues. Hell, we’re Hollywood, we make our actors into politicians and our politicians into reel heroes all the time. I expect Alex Padilla will be coming to a political debate near you very soon. And if he does well enough, a Republican nightmare, a Latino senator on every corner.

Shapiro Out

Shapiro: Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Get Out Of Jail Free Cards?

I’m not the only one at First Draft with pardons on their mind. Shapiro has a modest proposal for President Biden.

-Adrastos

Pardon Me, Do You Have Any Get Out Of Jail Free Cards? by Shapiro

There’s a joke going around the internet. A Rolls Royce pulls up next to Biden’s presidential limo. The back window rolls down and Donald Trump sticks his head out. Biden rolls his window down. Trump says “pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” Biden looks at Trump for a minute then says “I’m not pardoning you for anything” as he rolls up the window and has the driver take off.

OK, the joke’s not very funny but it gave me an idea:

Joe Biden should pardon Donald Trump.

You heard me right. And before you get all up on your high horse or want to string me up as the enemy of the people Trump once said the media was, hear me out.

Pardon Trump with three conditions.

First, he must admit it was all a scam. Everything.

The Muslim ban? Hey, they weren’t staying at my hotels so why should I care.

The Ukraine call? I thought that was how diplomacy works, you want from me you gotta do for me.

The Russian investigation? Bobbie Three Sticks was right all along.

Putin was giving you orders to carry out? Duh, da.

Downplaying the seriousness of COVID so you could get re-elected? Actually he already admitted that on tape. (Jeez how dumb can one guy be, admitting to THE Watergate reporter who told him he was taping the conversation that it was all about re-election.)

Did you incite the mob that attacked the capitol? Of course, autocoup was the last chance I had and besides, it always works in those shithole countries.

Did you make those deals with the Mob to get your buildings built? Jeez of course I did, how do you think real estate in NYC works? Same as in Moscow, only the Mob there is called the Putin regime or the Middle East where it’s called the House of Saud.

On a side note this pardon will allow Trump to keep Secret Service protection but still he’d better get fitted for a bulletproof suit so one of Putin’s or bin Salman’s guys doesn’t go all Hyman Roth at the end of Godfather II on him.

In addition Trump needs to admit to everything we have always suspected no matter how bizarre or outlandish.

The pee tape? Absolutely true.

Did you sleep with Ivanka? You bet.

Is there more than one Melania? Absolutely how could you not have seen that before.

Were you grinding up Adderall and snorting it? How do you think I could stay up all night Tweeting and watching TV?

Was Stormy Daniels right when she said your dick looked like a little mushroom? Yeah, well, whatcha gonna do, genetics.

Oh and he’s gotta admit to sexually assaulting and/or raping all those women. E. Jean Carroll, Ivana, the Miss Teen USA contestants, the Fox News correspondents, all of them. That includes the girls Epstein got for him. Speaking of which Donny John you gotta fess up you had him whacked.

But most of all he has to admit that everything he said about the 2020 election was a lie. He will have to stand up and say there was no fraud, Biden won the election fair and square, all the lies he told after the votes were counted were just in a vain hope of overturning the outcome. He will have to tell the American people the truth, even if it’s for the first time in his life, that he didn’t win, there weren’t 11,800 votes in Georgia to be found for him, that Cindy McCain was right and he pissed off Arizona Republicans by trash talking her dad, that all the bluster and all the prevarication was just so much hogwash. That it all came down to this: Donald Trump just couldn’t stand the thought of being branded a loser.

The second condition of the pardon is no takebacks. No turning around and saying, “oh I just said it to get the pardon”. Nope. He’s gotta admit it all in a joint interview with Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow broadcast on every network in the cablesphere. Hell, let Nickelodeon do a version like they did with that NFL playoff game, complete with him getting slimmed. He’s gotta tell the entire sordid story, come clean about anything and everything. Look at the bright side Trumpy, you always wanted to be the biggest star on TV so here’s your chance. The ratings would be better than any Super Bowl, any Olympics, hell they’d beat the final episode of M*A*S*H.

The third condition I’ll admit this one is just for my own personal perverse pleasure. We’ll call it the Sophie’s Choice condition. Donny John you have to pick one of your kids to get a pardon with those same two conditions as yours. But only one. So decide if Vanky, Jr., or the dumb one gets to skate and which two must learn how to make friends with their new cellmate. I’d love to see the backbiting, groveling, pathetic cloying they’d all do to get that pardon. I wouldn’t even mind if Mark Burnett gets him big upfront money for a one shot special so we can all watch. Hell if it goes well, Burnett could turn it into a series starring all of the supporting characters from the last four years. The Kushner, Bannon, Miller episode would make delightful holiday viewing.

Now why would I put this proposition out to the world? 81 million plus people in this country want Trump’s hide hung high. 74 million people think he’s the cat’s meow and had a second term stolen by evil Demoncrats. It’s obvious to me that the only way these two extremes can meet in the middle, the only way this nation will heal from the four years of divisiveness Trump stoked with his angry, insipid, malevolent words and actions is for the people who fell for it to understand they were lied to and for the people who always saw through it to get the vindication they deserve. The American people need to be told by the person who lied to them that he did it only for the power and the money and that he never really cared about them or their problems. That for the last four years they were nothing but the toys a narcissistic man-child pulled out from the closet to play games with, even when playing with those toys meant sadistically pulling them apart limb from limb. This is the way we can begin to heal. I have no delusion his doing this causes everyone to join hands around the campfire and sing Kumbaya, but if we can at least get the temperature down to 2012 level when political discourse was sharp but not stick a knife in your neighbor sharp then maybe we can get on with solving some really big problems this country and the world face.

If we’ve learned anything over the last four years, it’s that Trump and his family are all about pay for play. So here it is, the biggest payday. Refuse it and you will face the remainder of your life as defendant, bankruptee, and inmate. On the other hand accept this pardon with all its conditions and you skate away from all responsibility for the harm you have done and kickstarted the process of healing. And for the first time in your life you will have done a service to your country.

That’s my proposal to President Biden. I submit it in the hopes he will give it all the due consideration it deserves.

Shapiro Out

PS: If you clicked on the link for the Grey Poupon commercial and happen to be a fan of British television, yes that’s the guy from Yes Minister and the guy from the original House Of Cards.

Shapiro: To My Nephew Ben

When I contacted my friend Shapiro about writing for First Draft, one reason he accepted was to reclaim his surname from the dread wingnut pundit, Ben Shapiro.

That sounded like such a noble cause that I suggested he write about his Shapiro quest. The result is this open letter to Ben who is neither gentle nor a gentile.

-Adrastos

To My Nephew Ben by Shapiro

Dear Nephew Ben:

Let me say right off that no, you are not my nephew. We share a last name that’s more common amongst those of our lineage than those outside the tribe suspect. Some of our forebearers came from the old countries with it, some were given it by a harried immigration official at Ellis Island. Whatever. I do have a nephew who is like you in that he is married to a professional woman (a lawyer, I believe your wife is a doctor) and both you and he each have three kids. Like you he trained as a lawyer after attending private schools his entire academic career. Also like you he claims to be conservative bordering on libertarian. Have to wonder if private schooling begats conservative thinking. Nah, don’t have to wonder about it, it’s pretty obvious it does.

I’m writing to ask you to stop using our common name as a way of selling books. It’s a proud name, the name of poets (Karl), scientists (Norman), businessmen (Herman), lawyers (Robert), a few mobsters, singers (Helen who had an opening act called The Beatles in the early 1960’s), and thousands of everyday people who just go about their lives trying to do good and raise their kids to be decent human beings. You are using our name to pridefully insist that you are the smartest kid in the room, that you know better than anyone else. You seem to have forgotten, or perhaps you were never taught, that the smartest people in the room are the ones who know they can still learn from someone else and who can process new information and even change a long-held opinion.

When I use my name it’s in the service of making the world a better place. You use it in a vain attempt to blow up 2000 years of western civilization just so you can buy a bigger house. Even the most ego driven capitalist never went that far; the soon to be booted president being the exception. Then again, he’s a goyim and that’s their gig. We don’t believe in that.

We believe in Tikkun Olem, the concept of repairing the world. Surely at that LA Yeshiva you went to high school at they must have mentioned it, but if they didn’t it basically means live your life in a way to better the lives of others. It is a great way of living; I’ve been practicing it for over 60 years. It’s garnered me absolutely wonderful friends, compelled me to travel to far distant places, to care about my community, and to be able to sleep well at night. I don’t know how well you sleep at night, but if I were calling large swarths of humanity somehow less than human, it would probably be with one eye open.

When you say LGBTQ people should have no rights to marry, let alone no rights at all because they are somehow lesser as human beings for choosing to love a person you wouldn’t choose to that’s not making other people’s lives better. That’s going out of your way to put a vile hateful message out into the world that someone, already filled with rage and hatred, will take as an excuse to assault, and even kill. “Well that smart Jew fella told me I should”.

You call Jews like myself Jews In Name Only (JINO) and deride us because we think that global warming is a greater threat to mankind’s survival than if Exxon gets to hit its stock valuation. You say we don’t care about Israel because we think human rights are a greater imperative than subjugating an entire group of people. You have said that doctors who perform abortions should be prosecuted but prosecuted for what? In case you were absent that day in law school abortion is a legally protected medical procedure. What you call “cancel culture” the rest of us call the consequences of your actions. What you disdain as “political correctness” we simply call good manners. And then of course there is the whole “Big Tech is stifling the voices of conservatives” brouhaha to which I can only say hahahaha. The highest rated cable news network is a conservative mouthpiece plus now there are two competitors that are even more conservative. Big Tech doesn’t seem to have stifled any of those voices. Oh yes, that little KKK koffee klatch called Parler got taken down but that was because the owner didn’t want to abide by the rules that he agreed to when he set up the site. Wow, imagine that, a tech company enforcing their rules. Next thing you know restaurants (when we can go to them again) will enforce “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”.

Oy, just oy.

And now you’ve stepped into another minefield with this piece you wrote for Politico.

The events at the Capitol on January 6 were not directly at your command, but you gave the mob an intellectual underpinning that allowed what we have been seeing in all the days that followed from Republicans and their allies:

“STACEY ABRAMS never accepted her election loss (she still claims she was the victim of voter suppression).”

Stacey Abrams’ followers never marched on the Georgia statehouse calling for the beheading of the governor, nor did she incite them to.

“The real impeachment charge against Trump is extraordinarily reckless and inflammatory rhetoric and behavior. But that sort of rhetoric is, unfortunately, commonplace in today’s day and age, and sometimes even ends with violence (see, e.g., a Bernie Sanders supporter shooting up a congressional softball game).

First of all you are in large part responsible for the commonality of inflammatory rhetoric and behavior today. And if you don’t want to admit credit for that you must at least admit that you yourself do nothing to tamp down that vitriol. As for the guy who shot up the congressional softball game, he was a nutcase acting alone with (and I can’t help myself on this point) LEGALLY purchased guns not under the direction of anyone other than the voices inside his head. The President of the United States didn’t tell him to do it.

Then there’s this infamous Tweet:

Where do I start with that one? I tell you, let’s just leave it at no one has ever used a Hefty bag zip tie to secure, well, even a Hefty bag let alone a government official.

You could do so much to make the world a better place. You have the intelligence and charisma to command attention and thoughtfully delineate a point of view. Instead you choose to take those gifts and throw firebombs. In fact, you’re not just yelling FIRE in a crowded theater, you are locking the doors from the outside, calling the fire department telling them to disregard the alarms, and forcing ambulances down the wrong street. You incite instead of inspire, tear down instead of buildup, negate instead of collaborate. You hate with a ferocity generals would want in their shock troops. Those are characteristics I find abhorrent in anyone, but in someone with the same last name as mine I take an even greater offense.

One last thing, you are not a conservative. By definition classical conservatism does not reject change, but insists that changes be organic, rather than revolutionary, arguing that any attempt to modify the complex web of human interactions that form human society purely for the sake of some doctrine or theory runs the risk of running afoul of the law of unintended consequences and/or of moral hazards. No you are as revolutionary as they come. The reason you write and speak and broadcast what you do has nothing to do with a desire to make the world better, but to enrich yourself and those who have placed the MAGAphone in your hands. You could say you believe in oligarchy. I would say you believe in fascism.

My editor, Adrastos, suggested I call this piece Give Me Back My Name after the Talking Heads song. After reading so much of what you have spilled out into the world, I thought a more appropriate song reference would be from Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind:

Uncle Shapiro Out.

 

Guest Post: A Postcard From Sonoma

One of the many unfortunate consequences of the Dipshit Insurrection is how it has overshadowed all other news since Twelfth Night. The pandemic has worsened dramatically since the beginning of the year. New mortality records have been set almost on a daily basis.  It’s a fucking mess, y’all.

In his second post for First Draft, my old friend Shapiro ponders the pandemic’s impact on his town, Sonoma, California.

-Adrastos

A Postcard From Sonoma by Shapiro

A tractor trailer rolled into my town last night.

My town is Sonoma California. To many of you that name conjures up images of vineyards and wineries, rolling hills in the distance, warm summer days followed by cool summer nights. A visitor once said to me he couldn’t even see the word Sonoma without imaging a wine glass in his hand.

In many ways Sonoma is just a small town like so many other small towns across America. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a guest tell me “It’s just like Stars Hollow!”, the fictional TV home of the Gilmore Girls.  We have a town square, historic in California as the spot where the Bear Flag Revolution began, the place where Californios, the Americans who came to Spanish, then Mexican Alta California, rebelled against the Mexican government who said they were not allowed to own land unless married to a Mexican. There is a large statue dedicated to those men, but most visitors pass it by as they head to picnic tables, laden down by wine purchases from nearby tasting rooms and emboldened by the fact it’s legal to consume alcohol within the square’s boundaries. During the summer, the square is the sight of a Tuesday night Farmer’s Market. Sonomans gather, folding chairs and tables in hand, picnic baskets filled, to see and be seen, to gossip and kibbitz, to lay down the workday and remember why we live here. Kids play on the swings, unbothered by helicopter parents, an admonishment only to be back when the streetlights come on. Occasionally people will wander over to the farmer’s stalls and pick up a few things or maybe get a churro or an Indian dish from one of the food trucks.

Across from the square on the east side is the Sebastiani movie theater, a single screen, real popcorn covered with real butter, first run, old fashioned movie house that on occasion will quietly show a new Pixar animated feature for a week before it’s official premiere since the guys who run Pixar, some of whom grew up in Sonoma, like to see their movies the way they grew up watching movies. Some nights the theater is given over to lectures or musical performances and, in the spring, it is the center piece for the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF). The big movies get shown there, smaller ones are shown at the Arts Center around the corner, the Veteran’s Hall down the street, and some are even projected onto an inflatable screen set up on the runway of the prop plane airport over on 8th street.

Neat little shops line the four legs of the square as well as restaurants, bars, and even an upscale sausage emporium. The ice cream shop proudly advertises its strawberry ice cream is made with not just local berries, but exactly which local strawberry patch provided them. Early mornings are accented with the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked bread from the Basque Bakery. The ladies clothing store competes with the thrift store, modern versus vintage, each holding their own against the other. The jewelry store owner proudly will detail how she was once Bob Hope’s girlfriend and you smile and nod your head, indulging the elderly lady her stories until she points to the pictures on the wall of her and “Bobby” at the Brown Derby and the Biltmore Hotel. There’s even a store selling old fashioned candy and games you played as a kid on long car trips, shoved into your hands by parents who tired of the eternal question “are we there yet?”.

Just off the square are neighborhoods filled with houses, neatly tended gardens watched over by large dogs who lay in a corner, raise a head, and pant a smile at those passing by. It seems as if every house has a story connected to it. It was built by a winery owner for himself or it was built by a winery owner to house favored employees or it was built by a San Franciscan who came to escape the big city willingly or not. Occasionally as one walks down a street of 1920’s California bungalows, an Amberson like 1880’s mansion will rise from behind a row of immaculately tended hedges to remind the street of a more elegant if less technologically advanced time.

A tractor trailer rolled through those neighborhoods last night.

It’s no secret things haven’t been usual the past nine months. COVID came to America through the West Coast which might be why California initially responded so furiously. San Francisco and Los Angeles locked down early, the state prepared to turn convention centers and sports arenas into makeshift hospitals. Fortunately, we never needed them. The people of California, for the most part, accepted the idea of lockdowns, quarantines, and face masks, hoping the combination would get us at least to the point where science would come through with a vaccine.

And we believed. We believed the doctors who told us this was worse than the flu. We believed the public health officials who said wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep your nose and mouth covered. We believed the government officials when they said how important it was to have ventilators and PPE and intensive care beds at the ready. We battled the federal government’s non-response, their non-belief, and got prepared. The virus came and we were ready for it.

In Sonoma wineries closed their tasting rooms, restaurants went to takeout only, the square was empty on Tuesday nights, the film festival was cancelled. A summer came and went with few out of town guests, but we kept telling ourselves do this now and maybe by the fall things will start to get back to normal. Maybe we can at least have a family Thanksgiving became maybe we could at least have a family Christmas which in turn became maybe next year we will get back to normal.

But they haven’t gotten back to normal.

Things didn’t get back to normal because while we prepared for the worst, the rest of the country debated if the virus was even real. While we politely told visitors to wear a mask, yahoos proclaimed that their freedom was infringed being told to wear one. Even when their Yahoo in Chief waddled out to a helicopter to be whisked to the most intensive of intensive care facilities his followers refused to take the simplest of precautions. Predictably the virus grew stronger, the toll became higher, the deaths piled up. Just when it looked like we might be able to open up a bit, the door was slammed shut again. Last Friday Sonoma announced the tough restrictions would have to remain in place for at least another month because even with all our precautions, all our mask wearing, all our hand washing, all our businesses shut down and our lives disrupted, even with all of that intensive care bed space was at 3% and projected to hit zero within a matter of days.

So last night a tractor trailer rolled through Sonoma on its way to the county seat of Santa Rosa. There it dropped its refrigerated trailer, doubling the county morgue’s capacity.

Shapiro Out.

Guest Post: The Dead Fish Problem

I’m Greek and believe in cronyism and nepotism if the person is talented. My old friend Shapiro is a talented writer. He has requested that I only use his last name. Request granted. Just don’t call me Chief.

I hung out with Shapiro a lot when we both lived in San Francisco. We went to many ballgames at Candlestick Park together. The ballpark sucked, but the company was excellent.

We were known to heckle opposing players. I’ll never forget the time we went after Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Rennie Stennett. Our group was merciless. Oddly enough, Stennett signed with the Giants the next season and was an expensive flop. That concludes this episode of when I was young and obnoxious theatre. It wasn’t very theatrical, was it?

-Adrastos

The Dead Fish Problem by Shapiro

Hear me out about this.

I don’t claim to be a lawyer (much to my parents’ dismay) or a political operative or a public relations wizard (that position is held by my younger son). I am wrong about political maneuvers I see in the media as often as I am right which probably means I should go into the political operative business because that gives me a higher batting average than many of them.

But I digress.

My point is I am not a pro when it comes to political posturing. But I am a pro when it comes to knowing how to rid yourself of a dead fish.

Dead fish smell. They smell bad. Go ahead, smell one for yourself and see. Told you so. Problem is you can’t just throw a dead fish out. Doing that just stinks up the garbage pail in your kitchen, then the garbage can in the side yard, and if you live in an area that outdoor critters are known to prowl the smell of the dead fish will encourage said critters to tip over your garbage cans in attempts to retrieve what it considers to be a tasty treat and you’re left with your neighbor Fred’s icy stares for being such a slob.

So you must be careful in the disposal of a dead fish. You have to wrap it in plastic to segment it from the rest of the trash, then you have to acknowledge there is a dead fish in the garbage (“Hey Fred sorry about the smell from the dead fish in my garbage”) even if the smell can’t be detected. You have to tightly secure the lid to the garbage can, so no roving band of raccoons get wind of the deliciousness awaiting them inside. Once the garbage company comes and hauls it away no one need think about it again.

Which brings us to the Republican Party and the dead fish that is Donald J. Trump.

Up until January 6, 2021 the Republican Party fully embraced Donald Trump. That embrace covered a wide gauntlet from full on “the election was rigged and unfair” to “we need to investigate possible irregularities in the voting” to “the election was fair, and he lost”, but they embraced him. Why not? He might have lost, but he got the second highest number of votes for president in the history of the country. That’s not a number to sneeze at. That’s a number a Republican challenger in 2024 would like to emulate. Add in the “hold my nose and vote for Biden because Trump is cray-cray” Republicans who you want to return and that’s a winning combination. Embracing him makes full political sense. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley know that and that’s why they are at one end of the embracement scale while Mitt Romney is at the other. The little procedural BS they were going to engage in over the certification of the electoral college was all just so much talk to be able to chop up into fund raising media, a little red meat to throw to the fanatics.

Instead on January 6, 2021 that scale got thrown to the wolverines. Embrace Donald Trump? The man who incited a mob to march on the capitol, break through the doors, desecrate the chambers, and end up with one shot dead before they were pushed out? The man who set up a watch party in a tent on the White House lawn and let his son live cast a few minutes of him cheering on the mob via TV? The man who, when finally forced to attempt to calm the mob down, did so on YouTube instead of network TV even though cell service and Wi-Fi had been cut off to the capital and it’s surrounding area so none of the mob could see it? Who in that message said he loved them and just wanted them to be safe?

For those of you impatiently waiting for Trump’s Lonesome Rhodes comeuppance moment this was it.

Republican senators who had said they would sign on to the notion of a challenge to the electoral vote count began to drop. What once was 15 ended up at 4 (4 others changed votes after the measure was defeated). In the House, the numbers didn’t drop as dramatically, but they did drop. Suddenly congressmen who were afraid to speak against Trump for fear of being primaried in 2022 now had to worry about being primaried for not coming out hard enough against the main instigator of the mob. They were worried that the stink of Trump, like a dead fish, would cling to them long after the carcass had been thrown away.

In the spirit of bringing America together, allow me to offer a suggestion for the Republican Party.

While it’s tempting to just dump Trump in the garbage can, that would not solve your problem. I understand your need to walk a balance beam more agilely than an Olympic gymnast. You don’t want to piss off his supporters who, for the moment and with nowhere else to go, vote for you. But you also need to signal to the vast majority of Republicans, the people who didn’t storm Capitol Hill, and the independents who truly are the difference makers in elections, that you won’t stand for mob rule no matter what the mob was for.  If you urge the VP and the cabinet to invoke the 25th you’re pretty much admitting Trump was crazy from the beginning with the inference being that you enabled him which you did but we’re trying to work on solutions here. If you work for impeachment that just reminds voters, you had your chance a year ago to be rid of him and didn’t take it. Get him to resign? Fat chance he’d do that unless you can guarantee him a billion in gold, a plane to Moscow, and the promise to not try and extradite him back. Whatever you do, his stink will be in your Dolce & Gabbana outlet store suits for years to come.

Unless.

Crazy times call for crazy stunts. You know all that talk about working together to do what’s in the best interests of the country? How about you try it. I know it goes against everything you stand for McConnell, but right now the American people want to see something done. They watched on their TVs as a group of wild-eyed radicals, egged on by a defeated election loser, attack the very bastion of our democracy. That’s crap that happens elsewhere, not here in the good old US of A. They’re scared and anxious about what’s going to happen in the next two weeks. And when parents are scared and anxious their kids get scared and anxious and that’s one thing parents don’t forget easily, especially when it comes time to put that x next to a name on a ballot.

It would be so easy for you to do it. “Hey, you know what, we got conned. We thought he’d be a breath of fresh air, coming in and draining the swamp, but it turns out he’s nothing but a game show carny and we’re glad to see him go”.  Let his most vociferous champions throw their crap at you like apes in a cage, it won’t matter because they themselves will no longer matter. Their fifteen minutes are up. The funniest part of this is that of all things he was the one who handed you the perfect “we’re all gonna work together” issue — $2000 stimulus checks. Send everybody that check and then go one better. We know Biden’s coming in with a national mask mandate. Declare the pandemic to have jumped the fire line, desperate measures need to be taken, masks for all. This isn’t taking away your freedom, it’s giving you a fighting chance against a microscopic killer until everyone gets the vaccine.  If Trump says anything Republicans could turn this into the political equivalent of “new phone, who dis?”

You will have carefully wrapped him, his family, his Proud Boys, all up in plastic, carefully place them in the garbage, made sure all your neighbors know to be aware of the potential stink, secured the lid, and sent him to the garbage heap of history. Hell you might even get some Democrats to vote for you next time.

(To Democrats, that last line was just a tease to Republican leadership, a trail of Reese’s Pieces to coax them out into the world of reality.)

Shapiro Out.