Category Archives: Weird & Peculiar

Can’t Look Away: Ivana Sleeps With The Sharks—Scenes from Her Funeral

The Guardian

From: Why are the younger Trumps so awful? Did you hear the speeches at Ivana’s funeral?

By Arwa Mahdawi — 26 July 2022

It is hard to feel sorry for extremely awful, obscenely rich people – particularly in the middle of a cost of living crisis – but I found myself feeling weirdly sad for the Trumps this weekend, after reading about Ivana’s opulent but miserable send-off.

Donald Trump’s first wife, who was found dead at the bottom of her stairs this month, had a gold-hued coffin (of course), but the speeches were the real centrepiece. Her kids and a former nanny all gave eulogies that were bizarre and tragic in equal measure.

The Trump family outside Ivana’s funeral.

Let’s start with the eldest: Donald Jr. The warm memory of his mother that he chose to recount at her funeral? The time she disciplined him so hard she had to stop from exhaustion. Once, when they were kids, said Donald Jr, his sister Ivanka accidentally destroyed an expensive chandelier. Ivanka – it will shock you to hear – lied and said it was her brother’s fault; Ivana then pulled out a wooden spoon to teach Donald Jr a lesson. Continue reading Can’t Look Away: Ivana Sleeps With The Sharks—Scenes from Her Funeral

Highlights from a Jan. 6 Late-Night

NOTE: Normally I don’t watch late-night TV. That’s less from snobbery than the fact that normally I’m asleep by then. But I make an exception when the January 6 Committee show runs til almost midnight.

(Full disclosure: I didn’t watch those late shows last night either. But the New York Times did, as a special service for its less hardy subscribers, providing these tidbits.)

 

“He did not call them from a box.
He did not call while watching Fox.

He did not help out Uncle Sam.
His brain is made of eggs and ham.
But, in his defense, it is possible he forgot the number for 9-1-1.”

— STEPHEN COLBERT, on news that Trump didn’t reach out to any security officials on Jan. 6.

“Yes, he is a stain on our history — and thanks to these hearings, we know that stain is ketchup.”

— STEPHEN COLBERT, referring to Representative Adam Kinzinger’s referring to Trump’s inaction as “a stain” on our history.

“The White House announced that President Biden has a mild case of Covid. On the bright side, it’s the first positive news Biden’s gotten in months.”

— JIMMY FALLON

And, the winner’s trophy in the Capitol Underground 100-Yard Dash goes to Jumpin’ Josh Hawley, the Sprinting Senator from  Missouri.

Why is this man smiling? Timothy Miller’s book just hit the NYTimes bestseller list.

 

Fly High, Ms. American Pie! Don McLean’s Classic Is 50 & Still Great

The Guardian:‘I said, Don, it’s time for you to reveal’: 50 years later, the truth behind American Pie

In an expansive new documentary, Don McLean talks about the much-discussed meaning of his enduring hit song

Jim Farber 

A long, long time ago – five decades to be exact – America was roiled by wrenching generational showdowns, massive street protests, and a blazing array of social justice movements. Now, half a century later, similar events and dynamics dominate the public conversation. So, perhaps, it’s poetic that precisely five decades have elapsed since a song that captured all that cultural turmoil, American Pie, became a smash hit. “It’s a song that spoke to its time,” said Spencer Proffer, who has produced a comprehensive new documentary about the song, titled The Day the Music Died. “But it’s just as applicable now.”
In fact, American Pie has only gained in fans and expanded in meaning as it has hit successive generations and generated fresh covers. Over the years, it has been interpreted by artists from Madonna (who created a commercially triumphant, if aesthetically limp, take in 2000) to Garth Brooks to Jon Bon Jovi to John Mayer. Throughout the years, journalists have subjected the song to a Talmudic level of scrutiny, while its songwriter, Don McLean, has doled out dribs and drabs of insight into his intent. By contrast, the new documentary offers the first line-by-line deconstruction of the song’s lyrics, as well as the most detailed analysis to date of its musical evolution. “I told Don, ‘It’s time for you to reveal what 50 years of journalists have wanted to know,’” Proffer said. “This film was a concerted effort to raise the curtain.”
In addition, it offers an emotional account of the tragic event that McLean used as his jumping off point for the larger story he wanted to tell.
The event, which McLean dubbed “the day the music died”, shattered the pop world of its day and had a formative effect on the songwriter. On a frigid night in 1959, a small plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson (The Big Bopper) crashed in a corn field in Clear Lake, Iowa, minutes after take-off, killing everyone on board.

Continue reading Fly High, Ms. American Pie! Don McLean’s Classic Is 50 & Still Great

Supreme Court Dissents: Naming The Outrages, Painting A Better Future — Someday

Joan E Greve in Washington — Mon 11 Jul 2022

Opinions from Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor send stark warning about increasingly radical court abandoning long-held principles

Taken together, the dissents written by the three liberal justices this term send a clear warning about an increasingly radical court that is abandoning long-held principles and even the facts of a case to enact an extreme conservative agenda in America.

While supreme court opinions can frequently become mired in legalese that is incomprehensible to the average reader, the wording of the liberals’ dissents is often simple and direct. The opinions can read like a desperate attempt to reach beyond the court’s standard audience of legal experts to speak to the millions of people who will feel the impact of these rulings.

“Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion to conservatives’ decision in Carson v Makin. She concluded: “With growing concern for where this court will lead us next, I respectfully dissent.”

Paul Schiff Berman, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said dissenting opinions help foster “a culture of argument” around America’s laws. . . . Continue reading Supreme Court Dissents: Naming The Outrages, Painting A Better Future — Someday

“Christian” Nationalists Planning Next Anti-Abortion Moves

NYTimes: Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next

By Katherine Stewart — July 5, 2022

Ms. Stewart has reported on the religious right for more than a decade. She is the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.”

The shape of the Christian nationalist movement in the post-Roe future is coming into view, and it should terrify anyone concerned for the future of constitutional democracy.

The Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the reproductive rights that American women have enjoyed over the past half-century will not lead America’s homegrown religious authoritarians to retire from the culture wars and enjoy a sweet moment of triumph.

On the contrary, movement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.

A good place to gauge the spirit and intentions of the movement that brought us the radical majority on the Supreme Court is the annual Road to Majority Policy Conference. At this year’s event, which took place last month in Nashville, three clear trends were in evidence. First, the rhetoric of violence among movement leaders appeared to have increased significantly from the already alarming levels I had observed in previous years.

Second, the theology of dominionism — that is, the belief that “right-thinking” Christians have a biblically derived mandate to take control of all aspects of government and society — is now explicitly embraced. And third, the movement’s key strategists were giddy about the legal arsenal that the Supreme Court had laid at their feet as they anticipated the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Continue reading “Christian” Nationalists Planning Next Anti-Abortion Moves

Timothy Miller “Why We Did It” Review, Part 2

 

[Part One of this “Review in Pieces” is here.]
Imagine a history of the Trump rise done not by a DC insider, but by Stephen King, who had taken a double dose of bad acid and is channeling Hunter Thompson in bed with Franz Kafka. Then you’ll begin to get the drift of Tim Miller’s book, Why we Did it.

But as I read through the ominous early chapters, another specter haunted me: as what Miller calls “the croc” (using a Churchillian metaphor about fools feeding a pet crocodile in the bathtub) began to thrash its tail outside the rightwing tub, in nearby DC neighborhoods during these same years there existed a bloated, entrenched complacent “progressive” counterpart, raking in the “liberal” billionaires’ dough, buying or building their beach houses, and still skating on the legacy of the Sixties’ good side, victories won by many of their grandparents. While increasingly preoccupied with such towering matters as microaggressions or blanco fragility, and sharpening their aim with practice circular firing squads, they were just as surely turning themselves into sitting duck targets for this monster. Continue reading Timothy Miller “Why We Did It” Review, Part 2

Gators Are Comin’! And They Aren’t Kidding

[NOTE: It’s 200 miles south from my place to Myrtle Beach. I wish it was farther. They’ve been moving north.]

Alligator Fatally Attacks Man at the Edge of a South Carolina Pond

Such attacks are rare in the United States, typically occurring about once a year, but the latest one on Friday was the second in less than a month.

June 26, 2022

A man was killed on Friday after being dragged into a retention pond by an alligator near Myrtle Beach, S.C., the first such deadly attack in the state since 2020, the authorities said.

Fatal alligator attacks are rare in the United States, typically occurring about once a year, but the latest was the second in less than a month. The body of a man who had been retrieving Frisbees from a lake in Largo, Fla., which serves as a habitat for alligators, was found on May 31. Continue reading Gators Are Comin’! And They Aren’t Kidding

Guilford Is In “The Times” Again— Yes, With Ayn Rand

Most folks who speak often in public tend to have a collection of anecdotes they repeat to illustrate familiar points. Dr. King, for instance, had a whole stack of sermon passages, which he shuffled like a deck of cards, to fill out various addresses. (Yes, “I have a dream” was one.)

Wendy Brown, academic doyenne, is another, still very much alive. She also has her go-to stories. Not being an academic, I only know one of hers: the tale of the near-broke little Carolina Quaker college which sold its soul to an Ayn Rand-obsessed mega-donor, for half a million dollars and a ten-year supply of her doorstop clunker screed, Atlas Shrugged.

Brown dropped this nugget into a lengthy Times interview early last month, which we duly noted here.

But that wasn’t enough for The Paper of Record. Continue reading Guilford Is In “The Times” Again— Yes, With Ayn Rand

Drag Queen – MAGA Smackdown In Arizona

 

AP News: Drag queen blasts GOP candidate for Arizona governor

PHOENIX (AP) — Kari Lake, the frontrunner in the Republican primary for Arizona governor, condemned the growing cultural clout of drag queens, jumping into the latest social grievance taking hold on the right.

But her comments were quickly criticized over the weekend by one of the most popular drag performers in Phoenix, who says Lake is a hypocrite who frequented his performances.

Barbra Seville

Richard Stevens, who performs as Barbra Seville, said Lake, a former television news anchor, regularly attended drag shows and even hired him to dress as Marilyn Monroe at a private party and brought her young daughter. He posted photos on his social media accounts of Lake posing with drag queens and screenshots of his conversations with her.

The dispute between the gubernatorial frontrunner and the prominent drag queen drew national attention and put Lake on the defensive two weeks before early voting begins ahead of Arizonas Aug. 2 primary. It also fuels a persistent criticism of Lakes conversion from Barack Obama donor to Donald Trump conservative.

“They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens,” Lake tweeted on Friday night. “They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.”
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Stevens responded on social media the next morning: “I’ve performed for her. I’ve performed for her family. I’ve met her kids. I’ve been in her home, and I have her private phone number and her private Facebook account.”

He told The Associated Press on Monday that he stayed in touch with Lake and privately defended her even as she ran a farright campaign that he disagreed with. But when she came after drag queens, he said, “this hypocrisy really bothered me.”

“I was just personally offended by that tweet, Stevens said.

Stevens said he first met Lake in the late 1990s, when he performed regularly at a gay bar near the KSAZ studios, where Lake was an evening anchor. He said Lake and her coworkers would sometimes stop by the bar’s weekly drag show after the broadcast, and he recognized her from watching the news. They eventually struck up a friendship, he said. She would ask him for sources to discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ community, and he occasionally appeared on Fox 10 broadcasts.

Lake once hired him to perform as Marilyn Monroe at a coworkers baby shower about a decade ago, and there he met her daughter, whom he remembers being around 9 or 10 years old.

As Stevens post quickly gained traction on social media Saturday, Lakes campaign initially responded by drawing a distinction between a drag performer and a man impersonating a female celebrity.

The campaign published a statement Sunday condemning the media for covering the controversy and threatening to sue Stevens for defamation.

“Like most sane people, Kari Lake is very much opposed to grown men or women dancing provocatively for children, especially at the expense of the taxpayer,” the statement said. “Why would anyone be opposed to this?”

The statement called Stevens a talented comedian and performer that Kari Lake covered during her TV career and pointed to his support for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

A spokesman for Lake, Russ Trumble, declined to comment further Monday, saying “it’s a legal matter now.”

Lake jumped quickly into the frontrunners position after launching a campaign that energized the GOP base and earned Trumps endorsement. She has aggressively promoted false claims that the 2020 election was marred by fraud. But she faces a challenge from businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson, whos family fortune has allowed her to vastly outspend Lake on television ads, and from former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon.

Drag shows feature men dressing in flamboyant womens clothing while dancing and singing or lipsyncing. Once a relatively obscure subculture, theyve have exploded into the mainstream with the popularity of the television hit “RuPauls Drag Race. Some performances, particularly lightnight events at bars, can be risque. Others are promoted as family friendly affairs, such as drag queen story hour.

Lakes drag queen tweet latched onto an issue that caught fire this month with conservatives around the country who say drag shows are sexualizing children.

Lawmakers in several states have introduced legislation attempting to ban children from drag shows, and GOP leaders of the Arizona Senate say they have plans for a similar bill.

“The fact is, drag has existed forever,” Stevens said. “I’ve been doing drag longer than Kari has been a Republican. But if you want to outlaw drag in front of kids, you better free up your calendar because it’s ingrained in our culture. The first drag queen I saw was Bugs Bunny.”

Quotes to Start the Week, On Election Integrity & Consequences

In Otero County, New Mexico, there was a local primary election on June 7. Republicans were elected to every office on the ballot but two.

One exception was a Democrat for one of the three County Commissioner seats. For a second commissioner seat, a near tie of 801 votes to 790, may go to a recount — but both those candidates are Republicans too.

New Mexico. Otero county is in purple in the bottom tier.

Not much excitement, or news here, initially. But then the incumbent commissioners made headlines last week, by refusing to certify the results.

There were no charges of any irregularities, but the county had used Dominion voting machines, which MAGA Republicans falsely assert are actively wired for fraud, and that was enough: the Commission voted unanimously not to certify.

Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin

New Mexico’s Secretary of State went to the state supreme court, which ordered the Otero commissioners, lacking any evidence of fraud, to certify the vote by week’s end. On Friday, two of the members met. But the third, Couy Griffin, was absent. Continue reading Quotes to Start the Week, On Election Integrity & Consequences