Category Archives: Shapiro

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Rodney King

Beaten to a pulp by LAPD who were later exonerated, he still had the guts to say “Can’t we all get along”

Recently there was a giant hubbub at the podcasting company Gimlet over attempts to create a workplace union. I don’t want to go into all the details but this Vulture report does a pretty good job of summing up the various positions and the backlash involved in it.

Suffice it to say, one side lost and one side won. That’s how things go in this world of ours.

What I am more interested in is the fact that at Gimlet those on the losing side felt they had to leave the company. I want to make it clear this is not a situation where the losers were people in control of policy or direction for the company. The two biggest names to leave, PJ Voight and Shruti Panamanian, were worker bees who had made the decision to oppose the unionization effort. Why they did was their own business and no one else’s. But they felt compelled to leave the company they had helped build because they had been on the losing side of the issue. Whether they jumped or were pushed is of no matter. The point is they left.

They shouldn’t have. They shouldn’t have been put in the position of having to make that decision.

Look if every time one of us loses an argument and feels they have to leave, there would be a whole helluva lot more divorced people living at the Motel 6. When did having a different opinion on something from your nearest and dearest or even just your fellow employees become equated to vacating the premises? Unless it’s a rental agreement we shouldn’t be packing our bags and heading down the highway just because we lost one simple disagreement. The Dodgers, in my humble opinion, suck. There I said it. Some of you might agree with that sentiment. Some of you I know don’t. That doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with you. I’ve got news for you, friends have disagreements all the time as all my Dodger loving friends will tell you about me.

Same goes for the workplace. Yeah, here it gets a little trickier because you do have to negotiate various levels of business hierarchy but I shouldn’t feel I have to leave my job just because you wanted a union, I didn’t, but the union won out. In fact I would argue that it’s more important that I stick around to keep the union on it’s toes or to make sure it really is working in the best interests of myself and my fellow employees.

Last year the Opinion Editor of the New York Times, James Bennet, agreed to publish an essay written, as much as we can believe a politician can write a clear and declarative essay, by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. In it he advocated for using the US military against BLM protesters in the wake of the George Floyd murder. I do not agree with that sentiment in the least. From what I can tell the New York Times and probably James Bennet himself do not agree with that sentiment. Nevertheless Bennet chose to publish it as an editorial about a matter of current affairs written by a serving member of the United States Senate. Some Times staff writers protested the essay should not have been run. Ultimately the uproar over that decision caused Bennet to lose his job. He shouldn’t have, just as the staff writers opposed to the publication shouldn’t have lost their jobs for speaking out, though none did. They made their feelings known, he obviously made his feelings known by running it in the first place and that should have been the end of that. Instead a well respected veteran of the newspaper industry had to be shown/head for the door because apparently unless we all speak as one we can not speak at all.

Which brings me to Liz Cheney.

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A Postcard From Menlo Park (CA)

Greetings From Facebook Jail

 

This week’s postcard is actually from several places.

It’s from Menlo Park. But it’s actually from East Menlo Park. To be more specific from the campus of Facebook in East Menlo Park.

More specifically it’s from the cyber location called Facebook Jail.

No, I’m not in jail, but in the last few weeks a couple of my friends have been placed there, so like in Monopoly, I’m just visiting. I get to pass Go and collect $200.

It’s the algorithms I tells ya, they rat you out before you can even finish the comment.

Take my friend Don. Nice guy. We used to write together. We even wrote a musical for him to star in.

He’s the blonde on the left. If you’re thinking to yourself I know that face it’s probably from one of his many commercials or appearances on Letterman. He semi-gave up the glamour of show business for the academic life a few years ago and now teaches creative writing at a college in Connecticut. Which makes his crime even more, what’s the creative writing term for it, ironic.

Why is he in Facebook Jail? Because he had the temerity to make the following comment as a reply to someone else’s post:

We have more stupid Americans than at any other point in my lifetime.

That’s it. That’s all. For making the rather obvious statement of fact/opinion that a huge swarth of the American public are stupid. If I’m not mistaken Tucker Carlson has built an entire career on the basis of that assumption. The Repugnicant party as well.

I can hear you now saying to yourself “self, what’s so bad about saying a great number of people are stupid? It’s not like he called a specific person a particular racial slur or maligned an entire group of people by saying all were stupid, he just said there are a lot of stupid people living in America.”

Well self here’s the answer. The algorithm Facebook uses to check for hate speech on it’s site considers the word “stupid” to be hate speech.  Why? Apparently because some people still use stupid as a derogatory synonym for mentally challenged, hence stupid in the context of other human beings is hate speech. Stupid in the context of The Bachelor is okay, though don’t call whoever is the bachelor on The Bachelor stupid even if he was mentally challenged enough to go on a reality dating show.

But stupid has other meanings in relation to humans.

  • “A benumbed or dazed state of mind” as in “I was rendered stupid for awhile after I fell off the ladder”.
  • “Tediously dull, especially due to lack of meaning or sense” as in “This party is stupid”.
  • “In a state of stupor” as in “I am stupid from staying up all night”.
  • “Annoying or irritating” as in “This recitation of all the meanings of stupid is stupid”

So Facebook, do I go to jail for saying “Man last night I was so stupid from going to that stupid party that I tripped on the curb, hit my head, and got stupid for so long that I was stupid to the guy who gave me a ride home”?

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Animal Country

Animal House

When you were a teenager and saw ANIMAL HOUSE you probably reveled in the anti-establishment hijinks of the Delta House. Watch it again as an adult and you might giggle at a line or two (remembering a time when you did something similarly asshatted) but more likely you will come away thinking what jerks the characters are. Don’t get down on yourself for not being as counterculture as you once were, it’s all a part of growing up.

If US politics were the movie, the Repugnicants would be the Deltas while the Democrats would be, um, the Jewish Frat the Deltas checked their answers for the Psych exam with. But as much as you enjoyed Animal House and the zany antics of Boon, Otter, Bluto, Pinto (cause he had a spotted dick, a line cut from the movie cause the studio suit said “yeah, that goes TOO far”) you wouldn’t want them running your country.

Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

And yet people keep voting for them.

You fucked up… you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it!

Meanwhile the Democrats just keep chugging along lead by their undisputed leader President Joey B Shark who just keeps pumping out new initiatives to try and help both the American people and the American economy. And the American people keep listening and liking what they hear. 68% approval ratings for his two biggest proposals show that.

Better listen to him, Flounder, he’s in pre-med.

But you know there is an old saying that the guy who shouts the loudest is the one who gets heard. And Repugnicants sure do shout loud. What they shout is utter bollocks, whether about Dr. Seuss or red meat, but those bollocks get amplified by the Murdoch media machine till finally the other network talking heads feel they must make mention of whatever stupidity is being uttered, if only to refute it.

A Pledge Pin! On your Uniform!

Honestly, the US Senate would be hilarious if Ted Cruz was played by Stephen Furst, Josh Hawley by Tom Hulce, and Mitch McConnell by Bruce McGill. Of course Donald Trump would be played by John Belushi. We don’t care about grades, who needs grades when we got voter suppressed forever seats!

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A Postcard From Mumbai

The Dobi Ghat

The Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat in downtown Mumbai. A million pieces of laundry hand washed every day and returned to their owners with nary a mix up.

 

Count me as one of those of European ancestry who have a fascination with India.

I have only been there once, but the country and it’s peoples got deep into my soul long before I was physically in the country. Maybe it was a little too much Gunga Din when I was a kid. Trust me when I tell you that no movie, no television show, no amount of E.M. Forester or Rudyard Kipling can prepare you for the experience of actually being there. The term “an assault on the senses” was coined especially for India.

When COVID hit the world in early 2020 it was assumed by many that India would be hit particularly hard. Rampant poverty combined with a billion plus people combined with third world conditions even in the midst of modern cities seemed to be a recipe for contamination that might take down the world’s largest semi-democracy.

Instead India wasn’t hit too badly. Many theories were put forth for this paradoxical situation including that Indians spend more time outdoors, weren’t as obese, the population is relatively youthful, and most interestingly that because Indians are exposed to more diseases on a daily basis they have built up a natural immunity not just to coronaviruses but to many pathogens.

Or in laymen’s terms, Darwin was right.

Begrudgingly the government did institute several restrictions on gatherings, asked the population to mask up, and in general took the same steps that most developed countries had taken to slow the growth of the pandemic. There seemed to be an attitude of “while we’ve got this licked, we want to help the rest of the world”.

But India, like so many other democracies around the world, is now ruled by a populist quasi tyrant, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is Modi who at first dismissed COVID, continued to hold super spreader events like political rallies, railed against the actual science of COVID, and who now has taken the extraordinary stance that social media companies should not just take down but ban any message critical of his response to the crisis. Remind you of anyone else?

So it’s no surprise that Modi disregarded the experts who came to him three months ago saying all signs point towards a huge upturn in cases about to hit the country. Instead he doubled down on the notion that things were only getting better, lifting all restrictions on gatherings. The northern town of Haridwar held one of the world’s biggest gatherings this month, with millions of people celebrating the Hindu festival Kumbh Mela.

On Monday India reported it’s largest single day number of infections, 350,000. 2800 people died of COVID on that day alone. This after a full week of infection rates north of 200,000 per day the previous week. Hospitals are jammed, oxygen has become scarce, and crematoriums have become so backed up with bodies they are forced to stack them like cordwood.

Several Indian states have disregarded the federal government’s antipathy towards doing anything to solve the crisis and taken measures of their own. Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, has banned any gathering of more than five people, all non-essential commerce, and limited even essential services to restricted hours. The response from the federal government to these measures has been scorn. The response in the real world has been a leveling off of COVID cases.

The Indian government has been able to vaccinate about 10% of the population which would be great were it not for the fact that that still leaves over a BILLION PEOPLE unvaccinated. This in a country that produces more vaccines than any other in the world, but they are hindered by greed (foreign countries are willing to pay more for vaccines) and a lack of the raw materials and native intellectual property that prevents the factories from being able to produce more for themselves.

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Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Oligarchy Definition

OK class, use it in a sentence.

It’s been a bad week for oligarchs.

From the 48 hour birth, life, and death of the European Super League in soccer to the pullback of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, the fat cats have been taking a bit of a pounding, most of it at the hands of the so called little guys.

If you still can’t quite understand the entire Super League fiasco don’t worry. I follow European soccer pretty closely and I am hard pressed to come up with a rational for the absurd circus the Dirty Dozen have put us through. The no longer failing New York Times has a good play by play of how this all came to be.

Suffice it to say, twelve of the fourteen richest teams in Europe decided they wanted to create their own league to play in, one that they would have total control of and which ultimately would have destroyed the delicate pyramid that feeds and nurtures the other hundreds of teams in dozens of national leagues. Fans, the people who actually pay to go to or watch games on TV, revolted. It was quickly established that even the most ardent of fans would abandon lifelong allegiance to one of the twelve in favor of continued allegiance to their national leagues. Television networks, the ones who would be paying the largest portion of the tab for the Super League, started muttering “what if they have a league and no one watches”.

And just like that, poof, it’s gone.

The birth and demise of the Super League is being laid squarely at the feet of the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United as well as being the guys who sign Tom Brady’s checks, Stan Kroenke owner of Arsenal, the LA Rams, the Denver Nuggets, and the Colorado Avalanche, and John Henry, owner of Liverpool FC as well as the Bahstin Red Sox. The line being put out is it’s all American hubris, coming in and thinking they can make this into the NFL. They’re taking the fall, but this whole plan stinks of Russian and Arab oligarchic slight of hand.

That’s how oligarchs work. They quietly pull all the strings so that if something goes wrong they can walk away with clean hands. That’s what’s happening in this case, Americans are taking the fall while the Russian oligarch owner of Chelsea FC and the Emirati prince owner of Manchester City get to say “I know nothing!“.

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A Postcard From Hollywood

Greetings From Hollywood

I’ve been kinda serious the past few posts so I’ve decided in honor of 2021’s Oscar pageant this coming Sunday let’s have some fun. Here are some of my favorite Oscar trivia questions. Go ahead and Google the answer if you want, but I promise you it’s more fun to just play along. No points given, none taken away. By the way, I’m going to use the generic term “actor” to mean both male and female actors.

First of all, a basic question. How long does a film have to be to be considered a feature (as opposed to a short subject) by the Academy?

40 minutes. I don’t know who came up with that, but I’d sure as hell be POed if I paid twelve bucks to see a feature that only lasted 40 minutes. On the other hand, if THE ENGLISH PATIENT had only been 40 minutes I might have liked it better. By the way, the shortest run time for a movie that won Best Picture is 91 minutes, MARTY.

From shortest to longest. What movie nominated for Best Picture had the longest title?

If you said BIRDMAN (OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTURE OF IGNORANCE) I’d give you half a point if we were keeping score. It’s the longest title for a movie that won Best Picture. But the longest title for a movie nominated goes to, of course how could you not get this, DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. Another Oscar fact about Strangelove, the man who played him, Peter Sellers, also played Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffly and thus is the only actor to be nominated for playing three roles in the same film.

Well then let’s get familial. What family has the most nominations for Oscars? I’m talking about a blood relationship, no married into the family, no in-laws, a direct blood relationship.

I know the impulse is to say the Fondas or the Hustons or the Coppolas, but the actual answer is the Newmans. And I ain’t talking about Paul. I’m talking about Alfred (45 nominations), his brothers Emil (1) and Lionel (11), his sons David (1) and Thomas (16) and his nephew Randy (22). That’s 96 nominations between them, all for musical scoring or original song.  To put that into perspective including this year there have only been 93 Academy Award ceremonies. In this most unprecedented of years it is almost unprecedented that no Newman scored a nomination this year.

Staying in the family, what two couples won acting Oscars while married to one another?

The first was Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh, he for HAMLET and she for, no not GONE WITH THE WIND (they weren’t married yet) but for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. The second were those Newmans again! This time, yes, Paul for THE COLOR OF MONEY and Joanne Woodward for THE THREE FACES OF EVE. By the way, Vivian Leigh holds a distinction shared with Luise Rainer and Hilary Swank as the only actors to have a 1.000 Oscar batting average, two nominations, two wins. Sally Field used to be a fourth but she spiraled her average down to .667 by being nominated for Supporting Actress in LINCOLN and losing. But other than that how was the play Sally?

Speaking of multiples, who are the six actors to be nominated for playing the same character in two different movies?

Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley for GOING MY WAY and THE BELLS OF SAINT MARY’S, Al Pacino as Michael Corelone in THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II, Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I in ELIZABETH and ELIZABETH THE GOLDEN AGE, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in ROCKY and CREED (bet that one you forgot about), Peter O’Toole as King Henry II in BECKET and THE LION IN WINTER and finally, holy crap it’s that Newman fellow again in THE HUSTLER and THE COLOR OF MONEY. Of the six the only winners were Newman for the sequel and Crosby for the original.

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One Size Does Not Fit All

doctor administering vaccine

Just checking, you’re not a female 18-48 by any chance?

I don’t know about you dear reader, but I’ve always been a bit suspicious of the phrase “one size fit’s all”. Personally I’m not the kind of one size that would allow me to fit in anything that might be considered all.

The number of people who fit well into one size fits all is pretty small. For most people it will be a little small or a little big or a bit tight or a bit loose. Most of us might fit into it, but few will actually be happy about it.

Which brings us to the COVID vaccine(s).

You might have heard that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been put in a time out because six women between 18 and 48 developed blood clots after receiving a J&J jab. That’s six out of roughly I don’t know how many millions. One died. I will not in the least discount this, but really folks, stopping the distribution of a vaccine in the middle of a pandemic because 6 women of child bearing age had a bad reaction is just a little too one size fits all for me.

Or maybe it’s more throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That seems a tad more appropriate.

Discourage women of child bearing years from getting the J&J jab and encourage them to get the Moderna or Pfizer? Seems to make sense to me. Obviously there is something going on with that particular vaccine when it comes to menstruating women as far as the limited facts on hand would indicate. Tell those who fall into that category, sorry this one’s not for you, try across the proverbial pharmaceutical street. Then do the medical detective work to figure out what went wrong (clue: menstruating might have something to do with it).

In the meantime let males and women over 50 get it so that we accomplish what the primary goal of the exercise is: To Eradicate COVID.

Ah but to do that Big Pharma would have to admit something that they have never wanted to do. They’d have to admit that not every drug/vaccine is right for everyone. In other words, one size doesn’t fit all.

I live with that fact everyday. My wife (Cruella) can’t take codeine because unlike most of the rest of the world her body lacks the enzyme necessary to turn codeine into morphine.   In the parlance of the medical world she is a “poor metabolizer”. It’s rare but not so rare as to never have been seen before. However whenever she has needed pain medication and tells the nurse/doctor/nurse’s aide that codeine doesn’t work and that she needs straight morphine the immediate reaction is that she’s a drug abuser. Don’t believe me? Try it the next time you go to the dentist for a root canal.

Knowing this yet still wanting to be part of the solution Cruella went and got her first Pfizer jab. Her reaction was swift and undeniable.

She got a case of shingles.

Oh yes, shingles, or herpes zoster for the medical students out there, is a known side effect of the Pfizer vaccine. Shingles laughs at blood clots in the netherworld of COVID vaccine side effects. Six blood clots? Try 148 cases of shingles from the Pfizer vaccine (240 overall from the three brands). Far and away the number one reported side effect on the CDC’s VAERS reporting site. Still that number is incredibly small compared to the millions who have been jabbed over the past few months.

And here’s where I have to fault the Feds and the Pharmas. Pfizer, even with all those reported cases, still insists it’s just a coincidence. The Feds say there’s not enough evidence. Six blood clots were enough for the Feds to put a temporary kibosh on the J&J vaccine. 240 cases of shingles, well that’s just coincidence/too soon to tell.

When we sit here and wonder why so many people are apprehensive about getting vaccinated the usual suspects are conspiracy theories and right wing media messaging. It’s rarely posited that people are tired of not getting the full story, of being lied to by their government and leaders. You say I should take this vaccine? Aren’t you the same people who said Vietnam was winnable, Watergate was a third rate burglary, I did not have sex with that woman, there was no collusion.

Yes, I understand, the Feds want people to get vaccinated so we all can get back to “normal”. But the Biden administration not giving the public all the information they need to make an informed choice is just as bad as the Trump Administration telling people COVID will just disappear one day.

Joey B. Shark or Dr. Fauci or Jenny PressWrangler need to stand up and say “Hey, we know the vaccines aren’t perfect, you might get a bad side effect from it, but the side effects aren’t nearly as bad as DYING from COVID. And on top of that only a very small percentage of people even get these adverse reactions. A good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow.” Then they need to back that up by footing the bill for any medical care required because of an adverse reaction. Better yet get Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson to foot the bill since they’re the ones making the profits.

The bottom line is that if what worries authorities is telling people they MIGHT have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, then they are giving COVID vaccine alarmists fuel to fire up their misinformation cannons. Tell the truth, warts and all, it’s in everyone’s interest.

Denial — it ain’t just a river in Egypt.

These guys denied they were married.

Shapiro Out

 

 

 

A Postcard From the Other Side of the Pandemic

Coronavirus

Hi. You guys missing me yet?

April 13, 2022

It’s a warm sunny day here in Northern California, the kind of day when you sit out on the porch with a cool beverage in hand, some tunes on the phone, and just marvel at the wonders of nature.

Hard to believe just two years ago we were hunkered down, fearful of going out into a public place, fearful of coming in contact with anyone else, fearful of even breathing without a mask on. Fearful, fearful, fearful.

It was all about the fear. And making sure to wash your hands.

Not that today we are without fear. I don’t see anyone clamoring to get on board a cruise ship or travel to any of the countries where the now downgraded to an epidemic COVID-19 still lingers. Shaking hands still occurs, but fist bumps are the standard now. You still see folks walking around with masks on, but I think that’s just going to be normal for years to come, especially since the report came out about how regular flu, stomach flu, hell even the common cold all dropped precipitously when everyone, or at least most of us, were masked up.

I guess we’re all turning Japanese.

There have been adjustments to the “new normal” which is a phrase as obnoxious as any Madison Avenue ad slogan ever was. There is no “new normal” just as there is no “old normal”. There is just normal, the usual for the time. Yes, back before COVID it was not common to work from home or do most of your shopping via the internet or talk to relatives via Zoom, but many people did all of those things. Now more people do.

And it’s normal.

That initial surge of people going to movies, concerts, sporting events, the theater, has slowed down a bit. It was natural there would be a rush to be with others once the pandemic was declared under control. Humans are by nature a societal species, we need contact with others of our kind to survive. Now it’s even hard to remember those days when the lady in line ahead of you at the supermarket barked to stay six feet away even though between your cart and hers there had to be a least a seven foot buffer zone.

Speaking of which, remember running to buy up toilet paper? Everyone bought so much of it now stores can’t give it away.

Some things that were a product of those times are now standard.

People seemed to enjoy outdoor dining so the parklets created from parking spaces in front of restaurants have remained making even the most Midwest American city look like Paris in the 1920’s (sans stinky cigarettes).

Retail mall parking lots have been redesigned to accommodate the surge in drive up/pick up services most retailers are continuing to offer. I do think there will be some rethinking of that idea once those same retailers begin to notice the drop in per ticket revenue, a factor of fewer impulse purchases at the register.

Zoom is still going great guns but now faces competition from the advent of specialized video meeting apps, from RomperRoomz for kids to BrideNGroom for wedding planners to Bloom for gardening enthusiasts to GloomNDoom  for depressives.

Of course one of the biggest changes was the advent of the Live/Work office building. Challenged by companies bugging out of downtown skyscrapers because their work forces were happy to trade in long commutes for virtual meetings and being able to spend more time with their families, developers worked to remodel their buildings into hybrid apartment-office spaces. Office workers can now have an elevator commute to their jobs, if they even need to go into the office at all. In addition it seems like every building has one floor or more dedicated to rent by the hour conference rooms, an easy and economical way for far flung work forces to occasionally meet face to face.

That has lead to a decrease in traffic, especially in once highway jammed metropolitan locations like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Not that anyone is complaining about the downturn in traffic accidents, air pollution, or noise but there is worry that this will lead to fewer auto sales, less gasoline consumption, and fewer auto insurance policies or in other words a possible hit to the economy. It hasn’t happened yet and there are still plenty of people driving cars but the signs are there.

One thing that happily went back to what it was before is school. Happily for parents that is. Also for kids if they want to be honest. After class activities have returned, sports, music, theater, and the feeling of community a school engenders will never be taken for granted again by any student who went through the pandemic. Not to say it’s completely the same. Virtual teaching brought about the end of absenteeism and truancy. No excuse to miss class is accepted since class can be beamed into your bedroom. And if you’re not signed on, you’re busted.

We still have the divide between those who took the precautions, believed the science, listened to the experts, etc. and those who didn’t. That rift is healing slowly but should be aided by the start of Trump’s criminal trial and, hopefully, conviction. Plus the benefits of the Biden rescue bill and infrastructure bill are now becoming so evident even the capitol insurrectionists still not in jail are having to admit they were wrong. Those combined with national polling that shows total disgust with Republican voter suppression laws has Democrats salivating over an increase in their congressional majorities this November.

It’s been a long two years that are unlikely to ever be forgotten by anyone who has lived through it. We mourn those we lost, but we look forward to the new world ahead. And we will remember that that world will have come from this one, good and bad.

Exene Cervenka, masked up even when it wasn’t fashionable.

Shapiro Out

 

 

A Plea From The Republican Party

Republican Yellow Box

Great fallings will be onto you if you uncheck the box!

Wonderful greetings. I wish upon you peace and happiness on this beautiful day.

Please allow me to make my introduction. I am Great Honorable Leader Member of Glorious Senate Mitchell McConnell and I have a great and prosperous message for you please.

Here in my country the Republican States of American (g-d be praised) we are under attack from hideous outside force called Demoncrats. They intend to prey on all the innocents unborn and otherwise with their Satanic thoughts and way of life.

Their grandmaster the most dishonorable Joseph Hussein Biden wishes to undo all progress made toward our glorious and pure rebirth by the most splendid and definitely re-elected leader Donald Trump (blessed is his name).

  • He will bring forth a day when all you earn is given to those who do no work and live only for the convenience of the corner store and a pack of six liquored malt.
  • He will cleanse the air of your job and the water of your child’s and force you to take work for which you are untrained and unwilling to train.
  • He will force upon you more of the wicked Obamacare and make it more difficult for honest insurance companies to properly and majestically disapprove drugs and procedures “doctors” say are required.
  • He will send his murderous thugs to remove from your home your legally bought and honorably paid for AR15 which you use to protect your family only and has never been used nor will ever be used to commit the crime.
  • He will use his “justice department” to expel from the Congress the many defenders of the cause such as Her Rightness Margery Taylor Green, Her Eminent Lauren Boebert, and the very sexy and not at all creepy Most Definitely Not A Predator Matt Gaetz.
  • He wishes to bring us a great tithe called Increased Corporate Tax which shall take from those with no voice in Washington and give to those who do not look or sound like you. Why is it fair to tax our Corporate brethren so much when it should be Demoncrats who should pay the tax!
  • He wants to “rebuild” infrastructure. Of what use is that? We have all the bridges we need, all the roads, all the sewers. Even our unfailing electrical gridiron works perfectly, especially in states that rarely see snow or cold weather.
  • And worst he will make the elections by which our power is flowing impossible for us to win by allowing all the many infidels who follow him to vote as they please with no chance for us to properly determine if such votes are valid and real which of course they are not.

You MUST NOT allow these things to happen.  It is only through your contributions to the cause of freedom that we are able to prevent such disaster.

Please I beg of you to take a moment and send a contribution to us so we can continue to do the great work of preserving our Republican way of life.

We have made it super easy simple for you by already checking the yellow box above so you need not uncheck it. Remember IF YOU UNCHECK THE BOX OUR LEADER WILL BE ANGRY WITH YOU! You do not want to make our leader unhappiness. If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell the 45th(tm) you’re a DEFECTOR and have gone over to the Demoncrats.

Hoping that is never the case please feel the free to contact me with any ideas you may have. I am always in the love of hearing from good honest Republican citizens such as yourself.

Email: senator@mcconnell.senate.gov

Phone: 202-224-2541

With all the blessings of Trump, I remain as always, your most humble

Mitch McConnell

Shapiro Out

A Postcard From The Cheap Seats

 

 

Sheet Music for Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Did you know this is actually a woman singing about how she prefers baseball to men? Gives new meaning to “one, two, three strikes you’re out”.

 

In honor of the new Major League Baseball season having begun I thought I’d take my first shot at making a listicle. It melds two of my great passions in life, music and baseball. The Ten Best Songs About Baseball according to Shapiro his ownself. The song referenced above is not eligible as it stands in a category by itself. It oughta be the national anthem.

10) The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song

A perfect meeting of song, style, and performer. Danny Kaye specialized in the “patter” song and here he turns a Giants-Dodgers game into what has to be one of the wildest finishes in baseball history. I also love this song for the fact that even though he’s a fan of the team he can make fun of the players, the manager, and even the owner. Oh and he has respect for their heated rivals. I on the other hand do not which is why this is no higher than number ten.

9) Willie, Mickey, And The Duke (Talking Baseball)

I hated this song when it first came out, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand and admire it’s subtle way of connecting childhood hero worship with nostalgia for a simpler time — like when the only thing you had to debate was who was the best centerfielder (Willie, obviously). Points to Terry Cashman also for being willing to parody himself on The Simpsons.

8) Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?

We head into a stretch of songs about individual players, Homeric odes to heroic larger than life legends. And there is no legend larger than that of the first African American to play in the majors. You can hear the pride in the singer’s voice. And if you will notice, all the other players mentioned in the song are African-Americans. On the one hand a subtle nod to them, on the other a reminder that back then you couldn’t mention white and black players together, even in a song.

7) Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio

Paul Simon would later on ask where he’d gone, but here Joe DiMaggio is front and center, letting everyone know it’s time for him to go to work. He’s celebrated in swing fashion, full brass, girl singer, somewhat strange envious chorus from the band. Yeah, I’d want him on our side, what’s your problem?

6) Say Hey

One of the only baseball songs that celebrates someone for his ability to play defense. Excite with offense, but win with defense said some sports figure once upon a time. That dialogue opening sounds just like arguments I’ve had with friends in the stands. If only Adrastos and I had had the ability to call over Rennie Stennett and tell him not to sign with the Giants. Also listen to the music; it’s at that moment when big band is giving way to R&B and this song shows it (even on the 45 sleeve — look for it in the video). By the way when they say never meet your heroes I’d say yeah unless it’s Willie Mays cause he’s everything you would have thought he’d be.

5) The Ballad Of Bill Lee

Bill Lee was a pitcher, famously for the Boston Red Sox. He’ll never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he’s number one with a bullet in the Sports Characters Hall of Fame. He would say things like “I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won’t matter if I got this guy out”. Who else but Warren Zevon could pay proper tribute to the Spaceman, as Lee was known. “And sometimes I say things I shouldn’t”. It’ll be emblazoned on Lee’s tombstone. Maybe it should be on Warren’s as well.

4) Hola America!

Musicians often have a lot of time to kill and some of them kill that time at the old ballyard. I could fill this list just with songs from The Baseball Project, an Indie rock supergroup. Consisting of  Peter BuckMike MillsScott McCaugheySteve Wynn and Linda Pitmon the band has produced three albums (Frozen Ropes and Dyin’ Quails, High and Tight, and 3rd) and songs that look at the current game from a unique rock fan/baseball fan angle. I mean you have to be an indie rocker to write songs about Lenny Dykstra (“From Nails to Thumbtacks”), Bernie Williams (“Monument Park”), or the second most famous game Dock Ellis ever pitched (“The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads”). This song, about Cuban defector Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and his amazing story of fleeing from Cuba on a rickety raft to pitching in the World Series less than a year later, shows them at their best.

3) A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request

Wanna know what it means to be a fan? Just listen to this song by one of America’s criminally lesser known great songwriters. When I go, just scatter my ashes at the Big Ballyard at 3rd and Townsend when the prevailing 30mph wind is blowing the right way so I end up in McCovey Cove, one last splash hit.

2) Glory Days

Those who know me are probably saying “what, he didn’t make this number one? He’s such a Springsteen fan”. Well I plead guilty to that but there is another song that’s just a smidgen better. This song is about the other side of fame. It even answers his own question “Is a dream a lie that don’t come true or is it something worse?”. It takes guts to keep going. It also takes guts to have your current wife appear in a video your soon to be next wife is also in. Now THAT’S being the Boss.

1) Centerfield

From the stadium style clapping at the opening to the use of a stadium organ, through the admonishment to be born again because there’s new grass on the field to the plea to just be allowed to play the game John Fogerty took all those hours listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons doing Giant games (“You can tell it good-bye”) and turned it into an anthem to not only the game, but to the love of the game. Player, fan, doesn’t matter, there is no line between the two. We’re all just looking for a moment in the sun.

SPECIAL MENTION:

It’s not really about baseball. It’s about sex. Which is just like baseball. Incremental small advances leading to a huge climax. In the course of a game, a season, a career. Often ending with the suicide squeeze. And if you’re lucky the Scooter does the play by play for the whole shebang.

Shapiro Out

These Little Town Blues

 

The attack on an elderly Filipino women named Vilma Kari in New York City this past week was horrific. I don’t want to make light of it in anyway. But I do want to talk about two related issues to this attack.

The first is whether this was a “hate crime”. There are genuine hate crimes, attacks where the only rational is the victim’s race, color, or national origin. I want to suggest that this might not be the case here.

The attacker, Brandon Elliot, had recently been paroled from prison. He had been sent there as a 19 year old for having murdered his mother by stabbing her in the chest. He had been sentenced to 15 years to life, got out in November 2019 after having served 16 years and was unceremoniously dumped on the streets of Manhattan with no job, no home, no support system. He banged around from flop house to flop house until he ended up at a hotel turned into a homeless shelter for the duration of the pandemic on West 40th Street. That hotel had been made into a homeless shelter because a hotel previously used for that purpose had to be closed because of complaints from the neighborhood residents.

Put a pin in that thought, we’ll get back to it in a moment.

Dermot F. Shea, the NYC police commissioner, put it succulently when he said

“I don’t understand why we are releasing or pushing people out of prison not to give them second chances, but to put them into homeless facilities or shelters — or in this case a hotel — and expect good outcomes”

Why indeed?

Taking a 19 year old kid who obviously had serious mental health issues, so serious that he killed his mother, throwing him in prison for 16 years with no psychiatric therapy or even remedial education or job training, and then releasing him back to society is a recipe for an outcome that is never going to be good. That it took nearly a year and a half for that fetid pot to boil over is amazing in and of itself. That it happened to manifest itself as an attack on an Asian woman in the midst of a national outcry over anti-AAPI hate crimes I submit was just a coincidence.

Perhaps what was going through the unhinged brain of Brandon Elliot was not seeing an Asian and blaming her for COVID-19 but rather seeing an old woman who might have had a slight resemblance to his mother. “You don’t belong here” might have meant “You don’t belong here because I killed you 19 years ago”. It might have meant “I killed you once and paid for it and now here you are to continue to torment me”.

So he did the only thing he knew to do, the thing his life experience in prison had taught him to do. He attacked.

To ascribe this as a hate crime by definition means the perpetrator has to KNOW he is carrying out his actions solely and only because of his victim’s race. Brandon Elliot is, pardon my bluntness, a crazy person. Crazy people listen to the voices in their heads, not to the propaganda from Fox News.

The second point I’d like to bring up concerns the two security guards and the delivery man who are seen in the video of the attack standing around not doing anything to help the victim and then closing the door with the victim still on the ground and Brandon Elliot running off.

Like the voices in Brandon Elliot’s head, those three men did what the voices they heard from on high told them to do. The thing is these voices were real and they all said the same thing.

Don’t get involved.

Their bosses say “don’t get involved because we don’t want you getting hurt”. Nice, but that’s not the real reason. That real reason has to do with insurance and possibly getting sued; sued by the victim, sued by the guards, sued by the perpetrator, sued by the guy who just happens to be walking by. Better to do nothing and be called callous then to do something and get your financial ass handed to you.

The delivery company’s rational is even more cavalier. Don’t get involved because you need to finish your route. Mrs. Fancy Pants has been waiting two days for that special cream from Amazon and if you don’t get it to her by 5pm we’re going to never hear the end of it. The route, the route, that’s the only thing that matters. A crazy person stomped on an old woman outside the building you were delivering to? Too bad, so sad, did you get your deliveries done?

In both cases it comes down to commerce over compassion, keeping your job over being fired.

360 West 43rd Street is located in what they now call Midtown West. Back in my time in NYC we called it Hell’s Kitchen and it was, to be polite, not a nice place to be. It’s the West Side in West Side Story. It’s the dirty streets of Sleepers. It’s where Sonny Corleone had his talk with his brother in law.

Nowadays it’s been renovated into an upper class island of prosperous housing, trendy restaurants, and high end shopping. The kind of neighborhood that has security guards, not doormen, in the lobbies.

Remember that thought I asked you to put a pin in? Time to pull it out.

The hotel that was closed down as a homeless shelter was on 36th Street, four blocks from the hotel Brandon Elliot was now staying at on 40th Street. Four blocks closer to 43rd Street. If it hadn’t been closed down there is a good chance Brandon Elliot never gets near 43rd Street, never sees Vilma Kari, never goes nuts, just remains yet another whack job roaming the streets of New York.

I hope the neighbors who forced the hotel shelter out of their neighborhood think about that. I hope the parole board who released Brandon Elliot think about that. I hope the New York Department of Corrections and Community Service who were handed a mentally unstable 19 year old and turned him into a severally disturbed 37 year old through neglect and inattention think about that.

But they won’t. Like the security guards at 340 West 43rd Street, they’ll just close the door.

A much better version than Sinatra. See what Marty Scorsese and an unlimited budget for cocaine can do?

Shapiro Out

A Postcard From The Vaccination Line

Vaccination Card

Gives new meaning to “Don’t Leave Home Without It”

Like El Grand Heffe of First-Draft himself, I find myself in the netherworld of having had one, but not both, jabs of the COVID vaccine. My next jab comes in mid April, three weeks after my first cause that’s how Kaiser Permanente, my HMO, rolls.

Speaking of rolling, my jab, from entering the building to exiting, took a total of 30 minutes. 20 of them were spent sitting waiting to see if after the jab I went into anaphylactic shock. Surrounding me and my fellow jabbonees were a phalanx of nurses, nurse practitioners, and even a guy with an degree from an accredited medical school. They stood ready, just in case, all armed with recently price increased EpiPens (thanks Heather Bresch daughter of WV Senator Joe Manchin).

For all of you worried about pain related to the jab all I can say is GROW UP YOU F**KING CHILDREN. Excuse me that was my inner voice. What I meant to say is that the nurse who injected me was putting on the Band-Aid before I even realized I had been inoculated.  Twenty minutes of staring at my phone later I was back in the warm sunshine.

Would that it were like that for everybody.

My wife (Cruella) for instance had a far less pleasant experience. She has a PPO or as I like to say, the healthcare hard way. When informed by her insurance plan that she was eligible to get the vaccine she went on line to see where they suggested she go for the quickest jab. Yuba City was the closest location nominated. Yuba City is 102 miles and two hours of driving away from our home. The actual closest medical office to us would have required a one month wait.

Never one to accept the ineptitude of the medical establishment and unwilling to trust a proper injection from the trained-this-morning teenager at the local outlet of the chain pharmacy, she opted to attempt a stratagem endorsed by some of our neighbors.

She bypassed her medical insurance gatekeeper, went online, and made an appointment at one of the local vaccine sites.

Ultimately it worked. Not as smoothly as I experienced, but it did work. Told to be there at 4:20pm and upon arriving hearing they were running “about 20 minutes behind” her actual wait in line was an hour and a half. Unfortunately she was standing behind a 19 year old who was working herself into a tizzy over how much it was going to hurt. Her tizzy process was the entire ninety minutes in line. If there is a hell this was surely the coming attraction for it.

At least we’re not in Georgia so they were kind enough to offer water to those in line.

Once at the registration table a quick glance at her driver’s license was all that was necessary for confirmation of her eligibility and she was on to the visiting nurse who jabbed, Band-Aided, and told her where to sit. On her way out she made a point to thank any health care worker she saw for their patience and care.

They were all floored at her kind words. No one else had thought to thank them before.

Really people, what would your mothers think?

I must point out at this moment that the morning after her injection my wife woke up with a tingling rash. When it did not go away she went to the doctor who diagnosed it as vaccine induced shingles. Medications have been prescribed and she will be fine. If you have a reaction to the vaccine please make sure to report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. She is the 121st person to report shingles from the Pfizer vaccine.

Why two such varying experiences when everyone in the country is being asked to get this vaccine? This hodge-podge of rules and eligibilities from not just one state to another but from one county to another and in some cases one city to another is a part of the reason people have their doubts about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Sometimes you just have to admit there is a problem too huge for individual states to handle on their own. States don’t declare war, the federal government does because war is too big a problem for one state to handle on it’s own. This is a war against a disease that recognizes no human constructed borders or boundaries. It was the federal government’s job to wage this war. Like a war they should have come up with a strategy of fighting, from initial steps citizens could take on their own to juicing the pharma companies to produce a vaccine to having a plan in place and ready to distribute the vaccine and inject it into our citizens.

Ah but there’s the rub. Until a few weeks ago, the federal government was under the control of the Republicans, who believe in doing the least work possible.  So in typical Republican fashion they denied there was a war, then made noise about an Operation Warp Speed well after the pharma companies had begun research,  and then half assed a distribution plan which, surprise, turned out to be a wretched wreck from day one. Then because of the Big Lie they prevented the incoming Biden administration access to that plan during the transition, forcing the Democrats into having to work with a too far into the process half assed plan when they did take power.

It’s almost as if Republicans were trying to get even with the American people for voting them out because we want competence and trust in the federal government.

For almost 90 years now, ever since the New Deal, Republicans have told the original Big Lie that the government was your enemy, the great destroyer of freedom. Small “d” democratic government is not the enemy, it’s the greatest resource of freedom the world has ever known. Yes, it will happen from time to time that you will be inconvenienced by a decision of popularly elected officials but that inconvenience will be nothing compared to the hideous outcomes of dictatorial fiats or imperial disregard.

There should have been a federal mask mandate. There should have been a federal quarantine program. There should have been a definitive plan for the economy during the quarantine as well as another plan for after. And there should have been a federal plan for distribution and injection of the eventual vaccine.

The Trump administration did none of those things. Now we find out had they done them 400,000 of the over 540,000 American dead could have been saved.

At the very least they could have presented an orderly, fair, and competent vaccine distribution and delivery system. I don’t care what the criteria for getting the jab would have been, by birth date, by social security number, by original hair color, just something that EVERYONE was subject to. Of course that would have meant someone taking charge and making decisions or in other words, doing the work. Instead a large portion of the American populace is now inconvenienced, scared, and running to wherever they can in order to get vaccinated.

So go online, get in line, do what is necessary to stop this disease. COVID I mean. But if you want to think of the disease as Republicans….

 

I deny any resemblance to the above video.

Shapiro Out

Full Metal Jackasses

Ruger AR-556

This is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.

 

Whenever there is a mass shooting “incident” a predictable series of news stories follow about 1) how easy it was for the shooter to obtain his weapon of mass destruction and 2) how this isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue.

The first type of story will show how the shooter walked into their local arms dealer, er, I mean, gun store, filled out all the forms, went through the background check (if applicable) and proudly walked out with a new AR-556 automatic pistol and probably a free box of ammo the arms dealer, er, I mean, legitimate gun store owner threw in as a sweetener to “buy it today”.

You know what you never read about? How much that weapon cost.

So I did a little research on the weapon of choice for the Colorado shooter (the supermarket one, not the movie theater one or the ones at the high school) and found that he probably paid somewhere between $700 and $800 for it. It has a list price of $899 but other than the manufacturer’s website no one sells it for that price.

I’ve sold mediocre furniture and appliances for more than that.

We’ll be generous and say he bought it for $750 (plus that free box of ammo throw in). With the Colorado Springs sales tax of 8.2% he’s out the door at $811.50.

Too cheap. Way too cheap.

We’ll get back to price in a moment.

The second type of story will detail how politicians, Republican politicians to be precise, will prattle on about how this is a mental health issue, that “mental health is a large contributor to any type of violence or shooting violence” and that tougher anti-gun laws are unconstitutional, unnecessary, and will mean that only criminals will have guns.

They will then implicitly or explicitly say that while it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, well there just ain’t the money in the budget to address it with.

Oh you Repugnicans, always having the reason for the problem ready at your fingertips but never wanting to push the button that fixes it.

So in the spirit of compromise, a concept that has gone out of style in politics today, I’d like to offer a proposal that just might make everyone happy.

Tax the shit out of guns, then turn around and use the money raised to fund mental health clinics.

The actual amount of the tax can be debated but I think perhaps a sliding scale based on the type of weapon. Single shot rifles, maybe just 15%. Revolvers 20%. On and on up depending on the ammo capacity and firing rate of the weapon till we reach military style automatic weapons which, though I believe they should be illegal for the general public to own, could be taxed at 200%-500%.

There’d be no Second Amendment issue, the government isn’t preventing you from owning a gun just saying that if you want one you have to pay the taxes on it. There’s already sales tax on the purchase so the concept of the government imposing a tax on that so called constitutionally protected product is legally valid.

Likewise the validity of taking all money raised and earmarking it for one purpose is a well established doctrine.  Gasoline taxes are only used for road building, driver’s license fees are directed to highway safety projects, there are special taxes on televisions to offset the cost of their eventual recycling or on refrigerators for CFC removal.

If you are worried that this is would be a regressive tax that unfairly affects poor people well buddy it’s not poor people who buy large capacity automatic weapons. If they own a gun at all it will likely be on the smaller capacity, single shot end of the gun spectrum and thus less tax burdened.

No our brand of American mass murderers tend to be middle class, just the socio-economic group I’d be targeting with this tax. They could still afford to get that AR-15 but it’s gonna put a serious hole in their bank account, one that just might make them think twice about the purchase.

Look I have no illusions that such a tax would stop a person who truly wants to commit mass murder or who wants to commit “suicide by police” from buying that gun. That last Visa bill is going to go unpaid one way or another. But it might be the straw that breaks the gun manufacturer’s back in terms of mass production of the gun for non-military use. If the gun store owner can’t sell it because it’s bottom line price makes it too expensive for the middle class “gun enthusiast” to own, then the shopkeeper is not going to order as many which in turn will mean fewer being produced which in turn will mean that particular market will dry up.

In the meantime high capacity rapid fire automatic weapons that are sold will at least be doing some measure of good by funding the mental health services that might just turn a potential mass murderer into a productive, not destructive, human being.

Chris Rock had a similar idea. This one’s okay by me as well.

Shapiro Out

A Postcard From Sacramento

Sacramento Postcard

Welcome to Sacramento, state capitol of California. It’s got a bunch of really neat government buildings, a nice river, and um…let me see.. I think there’s a basketball team but that’s really more a rumor than a verified fact.

It’s a town better known for who has left it (Greta Gerwig, Brie Larson, Raymond Carver, LaVar Burton) than who actually lives here. If you live here it’s a 90% chance you work for the state government or for a company that depends on the patronage of those who work for the state government.

Even elected officials of the state don’t stick around unless they have to. Unlike the other large cities of the state there are no jokes about Sacramento traffic or the high cost of living here because traffic isn’t bad and it costs less to live here than any other major city in California. Yet any day they don’t have to be there most state officials skedaddle back to their home districts.

It’s a nice place to do business, but you wouldn’t want to live here.

And the business this past week was a legal insurrection against the duly elected governor of the state.

Governor Gavin Newsom will face a recall election despite the fact that he is currently polling at 52% approval, has the state’s vaccination program up and humming, and has begun to get the state opened up after the COVID blitzkrieg.

Apparently that’s not good enough for the people who are upset that he made them wear a mask in public and slowly, patiently, safely was reopening the state. Oh and back in November he went to dinner at a fancy restaurant and didn’t wear a mask.

So they have once again opted to go all in on a political coup to unseat a governor. Hey it worked in 2003, maybe it’ll work again.

Never mind that it didn’t work the eight other times it was tried. Yes, this will be the tenth recall election Californians have been forced to deal with. Why? Because it’s stupidly easy to get a recall election called.

To qualify a recall measure for the ballot only requires a petition to be submitted containing the signatures of registered voters that equal 12% of the total number of ballots cast in the last election for the position being recalled. 12.5 million votes were cast in 2018 for governor which means, hold on a sec I gotta get the calculator out, you only need 1.5 million signatures.

I could stand outside a Safeway Market in LA or San Diego and get 1.5 million signatures on a petition to bring back MANIMAL.

The point is in a state where the 2018 election was low in turnout, where 17.5 million people voted for president in 2020, where there are 21 million registered voters, allowing just 7% of registered voters to push through a time consuming, expensive, and unnecessary recall election is absurd.

So who’s behind this recall you ask. Well kids, we’re a state that encompasses many diverse communities and many cultures and…oh who the hell am I kidding you know who’s behind this, the Repugnican Party.

They can’t win elections the old fashioned way by appealing to the broadest number of voters thus getting the most votes. They don’t want to do the work to try and actually govern. So they flounder around, yelling and screaming that Demoncrats are stealing elections and forcing people to not die from a horrible contagious disease because you know FREEDOM!

Instead, pretty much since lockdowns began, they send the QAnon Qwazies to sit at folding tables in shopping centers and have them yell at people to sign their petition to recall the governor because they don’t like the way he’s handling the pandemic and ya know, stuff. If you ask how they would have handled the pandemic they yell about how COVID is no worse than the flu, masks don’t work, that this is just a conspiracy to steal people’s livelihoods, yada yada yada.

To be fair, they actually got a little over 2 million signatures on their petition which would be a good number in just about any other state, but here it’s not even HALF of the number of votes the LOSER of the 2018 election got.  Newsom got almost 8 million.

I know Repugnicans don’t believe in math (hence their love for the Electoral College) but I think 8 million is, hold on let me get the calculator out again, FOUR TIMES more than 2 million.

At a time when politicians should be working to help mitigate the damage from a virus which has killed 50,000 people in California, Repubnigans have chosen instead to try a backdoor, immoral way to undo a fairly won election. No need to storm the capitol, no need to incite violence, tell the QShaman to stay in jail, we’re gonna try this with millions spent on deceptive TV ads and playing to the COVID weariness of the voters.

In other words they are going to do what they do best, ignore the real problem and focus on a fictional one.

Recalls were put into the state constitution as a mechanism to oust corrupt politicians from office. That is the only reason they should happen. I’ve kidded around about the rationale for the recall, but of all the charges laid at Newsom’s feet, none of them involve corruption. They all involve dissatisfaction with his policies or his politics.

The mechanism for recall should be available, but the threshold for getting a recall election is ludicrously low. At least make it equal to the number of votes cast for the other candidates in the prior election. That would have meant the recall backers would have had to collect, hold on one more time for the calculator, three times as many signatures.

Recall is like impeachment. It should be used sparingly and only because serious CRIMES have been committed, you know like inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.  You don’t recall a state official because you don’t like his policies. You wait till the next election, try to convince a majority of voters that yours is the correct position, and vote him out. That’s the way democracy works.

The next gubernatorial election by the way would be exactly one year after this recall election.

Can you say pointless?

 

This is the Scottish supergroup Middle of the Road. They were ABBA before ABBA was ABBA. Why is a Scottish group singing about a California city while cruising down a canal in Amsterdam? It was 1971, that’s all I need to say.

Shapiro Out

Thank You For Your Stimulating Gift

Joe Biden And The Checks

Joe Biden and The Checks sing their #1 hit “Pay Me My Money Down”

 

Thank you Mr. Biden for the gift of the stimulus checks we received recently. It was very kind of you and the Democrats in congress to think of us in this time of need for the entire country.

Just as my parents taught me to always write a thank you note, they also taught me never to speak ill of the dead so I’ll forgo saying anything about congressional Republicans.

The wife (Cruella) and I are in the fortunate position of having been able to weather, so far, the COVID storm financially solvent. We don’t need to use our $2800 to pay past due bills or rent or mortgage or put food on the table as I know many others must. On their behalf I thank you for that small lifeline as well as the extension of unemployment benefits and supplemental aid.

As for us we intend to use that money to do what it’s name implies, stimulate the economy.

Our local economy.

We could go out and buy something big and fancy. Frankly our refrigerator and dishwasher are both on the edge of extinction but they still work and should they stop working we have the space on our credit cards to go out and make an emergency purchase.

The idea of just going on a mad shopping spree and buying “stuff” isn’t very appealing. We have reached the age that makes us think before every purchase “will our kids have to get rid of that when we’re gone?” and in any case the reality is that COVID has made it more difficult to buy truly local. By that I mean just because you bought something at the local Target or Wal-Mart doesn’t mean you bought local. Shopping at the local outlet of those companies doesn’t keep them in business, it just adds to the pockets of the Walton or Dayton Families.

Don’t even get me started on Amazon.

With restaurants beginning to open back up for indoor dining the idea of eating out every night was bandied about, but we’re still a little leery about being in small enclosed spaces with people we don’t know. Besides we both like to cook. Going out to eat every night would be like cheating on our kitchen, a momentary pleasure offset by feelings of guilt every time we put pan to stove.

We’d love to use it to travel, but, well, you know.

Then we had the perfect solution sweep into our laps. A friend told us about a woman he knew who, having lost her job when one of the local wineries had to close their tasting room, had started her own housecleaning business.

  • We get a clean house, she gets the money.
  • We support a new local business, she gets the money.
  • We don’t add to a pile of “stuff” we don’t really need, she gets the money.
  • We stimulate the local economy, she gets to be stimulated.

That last one didn’t come out right but you get the idea.

$2800 will buy us a year’s worth of housecleaning, three hours once every two weeks. Our hiring her will potentially get our neighbors to hire her. They can tell their friends. Pretty soon she can build a business that will purchase supplies, hire others, pay taxes, help send her kids to college, you know, all those things that contribute to what we call the American Dream. That’s what I call stimulating the economy, exactly what your checks were intended to do.

I hope others who are in similar situations to ours will do the same.

If they chose to buy something, I hope they will try and buy it from a local company. Need a new refrigerator? Go to the local appliance store, not the local Best Buy. Want something new to hang on the wall? Support a local artist. Even if they do use the money simply for food, going to the local market will be a better use of the money then forking over to Costco or Wal-Mart. The reality is that local merchants and service providers can’t just issue more stock or take on a higher debt to survive this crisis, their debt is already up to their nostrils. They need butts walking through the door, ie,  the local community to survive.

My economics professor in college put it best. “Remember, when you buy from them, they can afford to buy from the guy across the street, who can then afford to buy from the guy across town, who then buys from your company and you get to keep your job”.

Besides, everybody ought to have a maid.

I was going to use the Nathan Lane Broadway version, but how could I resist Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, and Jack Gilford. Bialystock, Bilko, and Cracker Jack. 

Shapiro Out

A Postcard From Flavortown

Greetings From Flavortown

Can a clown be a hero?

It’s happened before. After all, it’s the clowns who are able to wring not only the laughs from the belly but the tears from the eyes and the dollars from the wallets. Sure Jerry Lewis played an imbecile on the big screen but there he was every Labor Day on the small screen wedeling millions out of the viewing public. At that point do you think the Muscular Dystrophy Association cared if he did prat falls for a living?

Same thing with Guy Fieri. That’s why he’s a hero around these parts. Up here in Northern California we’ve had plenty of local boys and girls make good, from Academy Award winners to Nobel Prize winners to Electoral College winners. Nobody is going to equate a restaurant owner/chef/television celebrity with the Vice-President of the US but hear me out about what he has done and the efforts he has made not just during the pandemic but for years before.

We’ll start with the money. Over $25 million dollars raised that has gone directly to impacted restaurants and their employees. Fieri’s taken his celebrity and basically said “Hey corporate America, you want us buying what you are selling then cough up so we can stay in business and you can keep selling”. Sort of his own American Restaurant Rescue plan. And his new show on the Food Network, “Tournament of Champions II” has the winner of each round being handed $10,000 to GIVE AWAY to a struggling restaurant of their choice.

You say big deal, get your hands dirty and we’ll talk? Okay, how about this. Three fully equipped food trucks have been pulling up to hospitals across the country to feed medical staffs bombarded by the pandemic. Nothing unusual for Fieri since these trucks are the scions of the work he did during the NorCal fires of the past few years. Hot meals for firefighters and those burned out. He was criticized for bringing a smoker to a burnt-out location but honestly folks isn’t it better to have a covered controlled cooking device than an open grill in that situation? Geez give the Guy a break.

Then there is his newest idea, Flavortown Ghost Kitchens. Take existing unused restaurant kitchens across the country and temporarily turn them into delivery only comfort food emporiums. No, Michelin chefs are not going to be cooking there, but the legions of line chefs, short order chefs, wait staff, and other mid-level and lower restaurant workers currently unemployed will be getting a paycheck and a bit of self-respect while the restaurants’ owners will be getting a much-needed cash influx.

But…but… what about his personality?

What about it? He has been known to ping pong from one idea to another but hey ADHD just works for some people. His adulteration of the English language is nothing new or did you think the etymology of twitter, buzzwords, or Frankenfood reflect their old English lineage? Would I don platinum spiked hair, big rings, and tattoos? I didn’t even do that in my punk days, but it works for him. Besides in these days of 24/7/365 bombastic culture you need something to make yourself stand out from the crowd. I’d rather have kids emulating Fieri’s personal style than have them emulating the Proud Boys or any of their ilk’s style.

And on the subject of kids, he has been quoted as saying:

“My wife always tells me, ‘Stop trying to teach every kid you meet,’ but I can’t help it.”

Wow, an accomplished adult who thinks he might have a chance of reaching a kid who otherwise could be struggling. Last month Fieri purchased the butcher shop he had his first job at as a 5th grader, in the first part to keep the only butcher shop in the county going, but also because the shop is an important contributor to 4-H and Future Farmers of America. You can’t have “farm to table” if you don’t have farms. And you can’t have farms if you don’t have farmers. Maybe the spiked hair is his way of being able to connect the dots.

Most of all he loves his industry. Even more so, he loves his end of the industry, the, well, diners, drive-ins, and dives end. He’s exposed hundreds of small mom and pop joints to national audiences, bringing those establishments boosts in sales no amount of “buy one get one free” coupons in the local Penny Saver ever could. Beyond that he keeps in touch with the owners, letting them know when their episodes are going to be rerun so they can be prepared for the attendant increase in customers. After a taping he has been known to linger at the locations, talking shop long past the hour he was supposed to leave, giving advice, soliciting thoughts, and in general being more than just a TV celebrity who blew into town one day.

Speaking of the great god television if you have ever watched one of the competition shows he hosts you’ll notice that the chefs competing are a solid mix of the American melting pot. All genders, all races, all sizes, all levels of accomplishment, they are all there, all given an equal opportunity to succeed. I would be willing to bet an hour of Guy’s Grocery Games has more diversity on it than any other hour on American television.

So I don’t care if you think he’s a clown. I don’t think he cares if you think he’s a clown. Just like Jerry Lewis, Guy Fieri has taken that image and made something not only for himself but for his community. While that community has spread worldwide its heart originates right here in NorCal, covered in Donkey Sauce, assuming the Big Ass Burger position, and most definitely the real deal.

And I’ll be happy to call him Mr. Mayor.

Shapiro Out.

 

 

 

The La-Z-Boys of Politics

Martin Crane's La-Z-Boy

What did Tucker just say?! The Demoncrats want to what??!!

My First Draft colleague Cassandra had a piece this week about her Senator Manchin and how he and the Senate Dems played the Republicans to get the COVID bill passed by allowing the ludicrous charade of forcing a reading of the entire bill, then waiting till the Republicans had left the chamber while all the Demos stayed thus allowing Chuck “I’m Amy’s Cousin Not Her Uncle” Schumer to invoke cloture and move the bill, as well as Merrick Garland’s Attorney General nomination, to the floor for a vote.

In other words he used an old jujitsu move on them, allowing your opponent to be done in by their own innate nature.

And what is their innate nature? Very simply, conservatives are lazy. The inherent want of conservatism is for nothing to change because change requires work, sometimes hard work, to one degree or another. Conservatives want to take the easiest, simplest, path, the one that takes little if any work. The easy answer is always no. The hard is “let’s work to find a way”.

Think of any issue, political or social, and you will see this at, well,  work.

Climate change. The easy thing is to say it doesn’t exist and let’s just go on doing what we’ve always done. The hard thing is to say it does exist and new strategies have to be put in place to retard it, strategies that will mean those contributing to the change will have to work hard and maybe even give up some power, money, or influence.

Social justice. The easy way is to say there is no racial divide and those protesting police brutality or pay inequality are only doing so because they want something for nothing. The hard way means working to confront your own fears, prejudices, and greed to make the world more equitable for all.

Gun Control. The easy way is to say second amendment trumps all. The hard way is to note that unlike the first amendment, the second does not contain the words “Congress shall make no law” and then work to make laws that take guns out of the hands of sociopaths while allowing honest, small genitaled…er…I mean law abiding citizens to have them.

The COVID pandemic. “It’s just the flu” versus “Quarantine, social distance, wear a mask, get the vaccine” Whew, that’s a lot of work.

Voting rights. The easy way to win elections is to make sure only your people vote. The hard way to win elections is to have actual programs and ideas that benefit the electorate, then work to convince people yours is the better way.

I bring this up because the passage of the COVID relief bill was by the thinnest of majorities in both the House and Senate. The liberal, Democratic, view of the bill was that people need help and this will help them. The conservative, Republican, view is, well, I can’t really tell what their opposition to the bill was. In their lazy fashion they mumbled something about it being bloated, crammed with liberal policies (without naming those policies) and instead decided to start railing against Dr. Seuss of all people rather than come up with a competing bill because that would have taken work.

What is astounding to me is they didn’t need to be doing this. They could have had a nominal group of no worries about re-election lawmakers cry about fiscal responsibility and vote no and have everyone else join the Dems in voting for a bill that had an astounding 87% of the American people wanting to see passed. Bipartisanship in the cause of helping the American people in a crisis.

But that would have meant doing the work necessary to explain why, after a decade or more of decrying bipartisanship, they suddenly felt it was important to work together even when they didn’t do any of the work involved in writing the bill. It also would have forced them to tacitly admit that the president* they had supported should have done the hard work of fighting the pandemic instead of pooh-poohing it and saying it would like magic disappear once the weather got warm. Who knows, had he done that he might have won the 2020 election instead of having to falsely claim he did.

Now 250 senators and congress people will have to explain to their constituents that the imperative of preventing the economy tanking, people being forced from their homes, children going hungry, or the task of getting the vaccine in the arms of everyone wasn’t as important as the easy culture wars slight of hand of railing against the Seuss estate deleting six books from their back catalog.

Now some of their members are taking credit for the bill’s passage. Senator Roger Wicker tweeted how much the bill will help small business. That’s like telling your constituents to stay strong during an unexpected snow storm while you ride off to Cancun. Oh yeah, one of theirs did that as well.

Taking credit for the work of others. Some call it cheating. Some call it plagiarism. I just call it being lazy.

And to think that I saw it on Capitol Hill.

 

Shapiro Out

 

 

A Postcard From California

So apparently there are people on a Reddit board who claim that Texas has it all over California and people living in California are moving to Texas in droves. This is making big news across the rest of the United States.

To which those of us who live in California say: Yeah, what else is new?

When they leave they would just be joining a long standing tradition of California.

The thing is, real Californians aren’t leaving the state. It’s the faux Californians that are leaving. In the two hundred year history of our state we have called them by many names: Miner 49ers, Okies, Rocket Jockeys, Tech Bro’s. Many names, many professions, but one golden similarity.

They all came here for a specific purpose and when that purpose was finished, off they went back “home”, wherever that might have been. Fact of the matter is those tech workers packing up their bags and movin’ to the Hills, Austin Hills, of Texas never claimed permanent residency status here in the Golden State. They were allowed in as migrant labor, high paid migrant labor, but migrant labor none the less. In this latest addition of THE GRAPES OF WRATH the field hands, having tended the orchards, punched a hole in the sky, and written the code are now heading back east to show off all the gold they collected.

And just like those who came before them, as the initial smugness of larger homes begins to fade like the tan lines on their skin they will begin to remember how nice it was to live with clear skies and 65 degree weather in the middle of January.

They’ll remember picking lemons and oranges off the trees in their backyards as they eye the collection of withered harvest masquerading as the produce section of the local market.

Sure they can now afford their own apartment sans roommates, but also now they have to heat and cool that apartment all the time, costs that added to the new rent end up as an even proposition in relation to the old.

Amazingly the earthquake kit kept at the ready still must be kept at the ready, only now it’s called a hurricane or tornado or flooding kit.

They’ll revel in lower gas prices but wonder why when they eye the sky, the air isn’t as fair.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone the Lady of the Canyon sang. That’s Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles County California for the uninformed.

That’s not to say all new comers to California are so mercenary. Many come to live the California Dream and oh yeah by the way make a living. They plant roots and call the San Fernando Valley my home. My parents came on vacation in the early Sixties and swore they would move the family here. By the late Sixties they had. Yes, that means I am not a native Californian, I’m New York born, but after 50 plus years here about the only thing I can’t claim as birthright is membership in the Native Sons Of The Golden West.

These folks aren’t leaving. With all our problems, and yes we know we have problems, this is our home and we’ll be damned if some interlopers want to bad mouth us after they got theirs and skedaddled like thieves in the night.

Taxes are high? Yes and no. We have a state income tax, but our sales and property taxes are lower than the next two states in population.

Commuting is bad? You’re going to tell me it’s easy to get into midtown Manhattan from any of the suburbs or get into Dallas from anywhere in the Metroplex?

The homeless? Well stop sending us your homeless, take care of your own, and we won’t have as big a problem.

Natural disasters? At least we acknowledge climate change and are doing everything an individual state can to combat it.

One other thing: unlike other states who shall remain nameless, we don’t try to make voting more difficult. We want to make sure every citizen can vote and every vote is counted. That’s the real reason we are a democratic state.

We are a big state both geographically and in population. There are issues that those of us in the north don’t see eye to eye with our friends in the south on. It’s been like that since we became a state. As a San Francisco Giants fan I can make fun of the entitled egotism of Los Angeles Dodger fans (you know who you are) and they in turn can call me a wine sipping elitist but we will band together in a heartbeat when carpetbaggers decry our lifestyle.

California is a state of mind as much as a state of the union.

Like another great fictional Californian I too hate the Eagles, but how can I not end with this. As they say, you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.

 

Shapiro Out

FREEDOM MAN!

Q Over the Capitol

Did you know “if” is the middle word of “life”?

Happy Revolution Day!

Today’s the day the Qatriots say they will rise up and retake the country, installing the blessed Saint DonnyJohn as Head Chef and Chief Bottle Washer back into the White House cause you know, FREEDOM MAN!*

Or maybe not.

Now we’re told that oh so special March 4th date is actually a “false flag” sent by the Lame Stream Media to discredit the movement. Like they need anyone else’s help to discredit themselves.

They’ve kicked the metaphorical can down to March 20. Or sometime in April. Or next Tu B’shevat.

Or maybe they are just gonna wait till November of 2024. Yeah, that’s the ticket, that’s when things are gonna change cause that’s when the Lizard Overlords will be defeated by a combination of Jean-Luc Picard, Luke Skywalker, and Buzz Lightyear that will bring peace and harmony to the galaxy (cue majestic music rising to a crescendo).

Honestly, if at this point you are still Crazy for Q it’s time to go back on your meds and realize you got played. You got played by the greatest game players this country has ever seen, the Republican Party of the 21st Century.

That’s the party that has no central governing philosophy other than, um, well, FREEDOM MAN! As of today they are literally taking as their mantra that the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is bad because, well I can’t really figure out why they think it’s bad. Fiscal responsibility maybe? Too much support for liberal programs like feeding the hungry and keeping people in their houses? The $15/hour minimum wage? Oh wait, they got that struck out of the bill already.

80% of the American public think this relief bill is a good thing and should be passed because 80% of the American public are worried that when the masks come off there won’t be an America worth coming out of the isolation chambers for. This bill isn’t to build some useless naval monstrosity of a ship, it’s to make sure Main Street doesn’t become filled with tumbleweeds instead of shops.

And 80% of Americans understand that.

Yet the Republicans and their shock troops are hating on it because should it pass it will be seen as a “win” for the Demoncrats. And they can’t allow the Demoncrats to win because they told all their voters that Demoncrats are evil and you know, FREEDOM MAN.

I have never voted for a Republican. My father only voted for one, Jake Javits for senator from New York, back when there was this thing called a Liberal Republican. My grandfather never voted for a Republican because he was a solid Tammany Man, but that’s another story. In other words, I’ve been a died in the wool Democrat since birth. But back in the Before Times (in this case1999 GWB) I at least could listen to and understand why Republicans believed as they did. They were the party of big business, small government, and the middle class.

Now they are the party of neo-Nazis, conspiracy theories, and FREEDOM MAN. They win elections through gerrymandering and fearmongering. One of their lawyers even got up in front of the Supreme Court yesterday, a court they have heavily packed, and when asked why it would be bad for everyone eligible to vote answered in essence that if everyone eligible to vote actually did Republicans would never win. They paint anyone, Democrat, Green, even the Libertarians, as the Evil Other who must be defeated so god’s holy white nation will not be corrupted.

Or maybe that’s just a false flag and they’re doing it so they can break up the pedophilia ring that’s being run out of Hillary’s condo in Boca Raton. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Shapiro Out

*FREEDOM MAN is the registered trademark of PETER ADRASTOS ATHAS and is used herein with his official okey-dokey.

Postcard From Sonoma 2

Greetings From Sonoma

It’s been a few weeks since I last sent you a postcard from my hometown. In those few weeks a lot has changed.

Saturday morning, I went out for a walk in the bright sunshine and 65 degree weather. The sky was cloudless and clear, the kind of light that glistens off every tree and accents every birds’ tweet. Though still technically weeks away, it truly felt like spring.

If spring is rebirth, it almost felt like a rebirth of my little town.

Sonoma Valley High School, home of the Dragons and recently converted into a vaccine distribution center, had it’s parking lot filled with eager seniors (in age, not grade level) lining up to receive the first of their two Moderna shots. We have just moved down from 75 to 65 year-olds getting the jab and I was seeing a lot of pent up desire in the faces of the about to be newly inoculated. Concern and a sense of hope hung on the faces of the soon to be inoculated.

The other vaccine center in town is the Veteran’s Building, set up specifically for anyone eligible for VA benefits. It also had a lineup of eager wannabe jabees, though the folks here seem to have reverted to their military ways as the line was more disciplined, straight, and orderly. Muscle memory, it takes more than time to leave the system.

Passing by the Little League fields I saw try-outs were in progress. Skinny legged boys with hand printed signs pinned to the backs of their shirts, numbered so no team coach can play favorites, threw, hit, and fielded as naturally as if they hadn’t been in utter disruption for most of the past year. The kids reminded me of young colts frolicking in a pasture, happy to just run, their energy a tonic for the extra long winter we’ve all endured. I was not the only one to stop and join with parents and siblings watching the play.

Of course there still was a reminder of the times as everyone, kids, parents, passerbys, all were masked. One thing about Sonoma, we take our masking seriously.

Sonoma Square was filled with people, not quite Tuesday Farmer’s Market level, but pretty close. There were pockets of ladies in circles of folding chairs spaced six feet apart  holding forth on what I suspect was claimed to be a book club but in reality was a coffee klatch. The picnic tables were filled with old men, well older than I, containers of coffee in their hands declaiming their opinions on what should be done with the state of the world. Young children swung on the swings and slid down the slides, their high pitched shouts piercing the air with a joy that was intoxicating till reminded by nearby mothers to put on their masks, their joy at the spring like weather tempered by the tunnel of worry we still need to exit from.

Over in the vineyards the sheep were gently grazing. No, really, sheep are used as “woolie weeders” to remove the grass, weeds, and mustard flowers that grow in the lanes between vines. The perfect organic farming machine, they weed, they aerate, and they fertilize, all in one compact unit. And when all the work is done they make a fine lunch. Just kidding they make too much money for the guy who rents them out to ever be turned into kebobs.

Sheep grazing in vineyard

This job ain’t half baaaaad

In the evening the wife (Cruella) and I met with another couple, determined to do one of those civilized things couples did in the Before Times — go out to dinner together. Restrictions have eased to where we can once again dine in at a restaurant provided the dine in is outdoors. The town has given over about a quarter of the parking spaces on the Square for tables and chairs, creating small parklets of dining for eating establishments that do not already have patio dining.

Though the sun had gone down and the temperature had cooled it was still a pleasant evening which probably contributed to our having to try eight restaurants before finding one that had a table available without an hour and a half wait. I was rewarded by Oso Sonoma for my patience with a grilled achiote chicken breast with red onions and jalapeno aioli, paired with fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat. A bottle of 2016 Gundlach Bundschu Merlot made the cooler air irrelevant.

You could close your eyes and almost imagine things being normal again. Of course upon opening them you’d realize you’re still wearing a mask, sitting outside in the now cold night air, and with a waitress standing ready to disinfectant the table as soon as you leave.

Baby steps.

Shapiro Out

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