The Brexit and other comedies

Posted July 19, 2016 on 4:33 pm | In the category Europe, Palin, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

Remember the good old days when the very concept of British comedy was not an oxymoron? Shakespeare had several good shows, Alec Guiness and the lads were terrific as a bunch of bungling robbers or, on occasion, even ladykillers. The Carry on Boys carried on in their (to many folks) hilarious ways and Marty Feldman and the crew added a touch of lunacy to the overall mixture. And let’s not forget the young Peter Sellers as a union boss, an Indian second-string actor mistakenly invited to a Hollywood party, or the many-gendered leaders of a mock republic. And to top it all off, there were the incomparable Pythons, who dominated tv for nearly a decade, adding such signature lines   to the general vocabulary as the brave Sir Robin’s admonition to the  band of  (un)happy warriors to “run away, run away” when under pressure, or Sir Gawain’s analysis of his physical condition – “it’s just a scratch” – as his limbs are lopped off  by the giant guardian of the road.

But is has been several decades since the Pythons ruled the comedy world, and it is with a sigh of relief that the world (or at least the European part of it) was treated to a new English comedy team arguably outperforming even John Cleese, Michael Palin, Erik Idle and the lads in their cleverness and creativity on the comedy front.  Now the cast of characters in this fiasco  is supposed  to include a prime minister, who demanded a plebiscite on leaving Europe, on the assumption that it would lose and his female replacement, when it didn’t,   the leader of the opposition (or one of the oppositions) and a windbag of a mayor with a Trump-copied hairdo, who has learned only one thing – to turn with the wind. And amazingly these were all real people, and they got the chance to act out their roles in real history, if their is such a thing, (can the US election really be real?)  and they succeeded in acting with a comic touch that impressed even veteran theatre people, though some thought that their frequent attempts at farce were a bit much.   And then, to top it off, each of the leaders of the Brexit, boys, taking the brave Sir Robyn’s advice to heart, jumped ship after they had won, which they could hardly believe and had no idea of what to do afterwards. (They are not the only ones)  The cartoonists of the German papers could hardly believe their luck as they sketched out the clownish crew racing for the row boats to escape in.  Now some critics have pointed out that this is a  plot too heavily drawn from French bedroom farces (and this at a time when the French Prime Minister is most memorable as the guy who hopped on his vespa wearing a moonman helmet in order to scoot off to his mistress one evening while his bodyguard followed in a car, or was it a bike?). In summary, the prime minister, assuming that his plan would fail, actually had misread the tea leaves and was forced to resign when the votes were counted, the  loud-mouthed supporters of leaving Europe actually had no intention (and no plan) of actually doing so and disappeared as fast as they could, and the new female prime minister immediately named the most outlandish of the Brexiters to be the new foreign minister.  He was met with derision of course by his European counterparts, some of which are real heavyweights unused to clowns and said so.

My brother and I had the great pleasure of being part of an overflow crowd on the day after Brexit in front of the large public-viewing screens in the Löwenbräu Biergarten in Munich, watching the European soccer championship quarter-final match between the Icelandic team, drawn from a country with 330,000 citizens, and England, drawn from a country with about 20o times as many people.  There was a table of Englishman near us, and a table of Icelanders not far away, and they of course each cheered for their home teams, though the English table became silent as the game progressed.  The rest of the crowd was made up mainly of other Europeans , who cheered loudly every time Iceland had the ball and marched triumphantly out onto the streets after Iceland won.  It was of course to some extent just a show of overwhelming support for a complete underdog but it was also certainly also a sign of the dark future for Great Britain’s future relationship with Europe.  And maybe that’s not so funny after all.

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Newsless in Vieques

Posted March 29, 2010 on 9:26 pm | In the category Bush/Cheney, Healthcare, McCain, Palin, Politics, Press, Republican Party | by Jeff

A week on the beaches of Vieques left me anxious for news from the Capitol of the World. So I gather we have a healthcare bill of some sort, that president Obama grew some cojones and that the Republicans are in some kind of shocked disbelief that their Tea Party did not prevail. As for Scott Brown, I guess he stayed true to whatever values he might have hidden away and managed to vote against the bill that replicated the Massachusetts Senate bill that he voted for a couple of years before. Go figure.

And oh Lordy, ABC News told me that Obama had made 15 recess appointments that – again – the Republicans are simply shocked that they were not allowed to hold them up for another year or two. I mean talk about uppity? Who does this black dude think he is? President? Interesting that the white guy on ABC ends the broadcast wondering why Obama has not changed the way Washington works. Cannot make this stuff up.

Thankfully for Congressman Boehner (pronounced “boner”) and Senator Mitch Rhino McConnell, their Tea Party comrades got their collective shit together to spit on black Congressmen, yell “nigger’ at them, call Barney Frank a” faggot”, and all in all bring to the forefront what seems to offend the Boners of the world – the country is going to hell with all these different looking people taking over. Throw in the Mexicans and the Asians and all of a sudden the Tea Party begins to look a lot like the hierarchy of the Catholic Church – white, old, male, totally confused about right and wrong and scared of losing the illusion of power.

And good old Big Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz figured out that lawyers who defend accused people in America are not to be confused with patriots, but rather to be lumped in with Arabs, Terrorists, people of color other than Justice Thomas, and Benedict Arnold. Great to see a former Vice President setting an example.

And then I turn the channel to find Sarah Palin pimping for old geezer McCain in Arizona. Poor old Crash McCain has this deranged smile on his face as Sarah points her fingers here and there after exhorting her people via her website to “reload” and go after the President – that would be her President as well as mine. She then moves on to some little town in Nevada, known mostly for being Harry Reid’s hometown – to lead a group of 6 or 7 thousand tea partiers in a semi-Christian bible meeting aimed at driving old Harry the Antichrist out of office.

Probably the best stories revolved around one of my favorite cities – Rome – with side trips to a Wisconsin School for the Deaf, several Bavarian catholic churches, and the evil New York Times. No need to rehash the story here but it sure did not warm my heart to see the  Catholic  Church excusing itself from accountability for the abuse of thousands of young children on the twin bases of “everyone else was doing it” and “the New York Times is picking on us”.

The Vieques beaches are wonderful, there is no wifi on them, and I recommend them to all.

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THE CHENEY 2009 AWARD: DICK OF THE YEAR

Posted December 15, 2009 on 10:04 pm | In the category Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin | by Jeff

Nominations are being taken for politicsandpress annual Cheney: Dick of the Year Award. With just a few weeks left Joe Lieberman is the frontrunner but certainly more nominations can be accepted. Ohio Congressman Boehner (pronounced bo-ner) remains in the running, and John Nutso McCain is a dark horse. S. Palin has been disqualified after failing the physical. But the race is still open. Final results will be announced in early January.

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Thanksgiving Press/Media Turkey Wrap-Up

Posted December 1, 2009 on 1:47 pm | In the category Palin, Press | by Jeff

The past week has offered the press  several grand stories giving them the opportunity to downplay or avoid much of substance, and they have not disappointed.

First was the spectacle of the press falling all over itself to provide attention to a polo-playing, self-promoting couple from Virginia who managed to crash the White House state dinner held for the Prime Minister of India. Lost in the obsession with that banal, stupid escapade was the relative importance of much that is at stake with the U.S.-India relationship. The reasons for the importance of that relationship will be lost on most Americans as they hear non-stop about a couple of weird narcissists.

Following that story was the tale of a professional golfer driving into a tree at – gasp! – 2:30 a.m. – the morning after Thanksgiving. The press has been having a field day with this tale, wondering why he was out driving at that time of night? And could there be some domestic abuse involved? and, is he having an affair? And what will happen to his “brand”? And then covering their collective ass by going on ad nauseum as to whether the press was entitled to knowing everything there is to know about the golfer’s private life – having already speculated on that life without any real facts.

And of course there has been the mind-crushing coverage of Sarah Palin’s book which apparently will be bought by millions of Americans and perhaps even read by some of them, although one can hope the books mostly become doorstops. In any case the publishing event of the fall gave the press an opportunity to rehash some of the former VP candidate’s nutty comments and in its own way to help whip up interest in the book. So it goes.

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A Tale of 2 Joes: The Plumber and The Turncoat

Posted November 8, 2008 on 11:58 am | In the category Election 2008, Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin, Politics | by Jeff

Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you?” McCain called into the crowd, “Where’s Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today…”

In the post-election haze it is easy to bask in America’s victory over racism and the incompetence of the McCain-Palin campaign. Or to relish the schadenfreude of the ongoing mud slinging between the McCain and the Palin camps. But a couple of annoyances remain to be addressed.

John McCain introduced us to Joe the Plumber and used him as an emblematic American workingman for the last few weeks of his bizarre campaign. The man is a certifiable ignoramus who misrepresented himself as a potential purchaser of a plumbing business, is not a licensed plumber, does not pay his taxes, believes social security is a “joke” and compared Senator Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.

Well, surprise surprise: this Joe has a new “watchdog” website in which he will “bring together individuals who want to help others, while at the same time ensuring our government keeps answering our tough questions.” You can get what is called a “Freedom Membership” to the website for $14.95. This will include a copy of his book due out in 6 weeks which makes him Joe the Speedwriter. One more reason to thank Senator McCain.

Joe the Turncoat is, of course Joe Lieberman, certainly one of the most unctuous, pious, arrogant men to ever grace the U.S. Senate. The only visual more disturbing than poor Cindy McCain standing forever frozen in place behind her husband at every campaign stop was the ghost of Banquo in Joe Lieberman drag smirking while his pal John continued to throw shit at his opponent’s good name.

Now Joe wants to come back to the Democratic caucus and keep his Chairmanship of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. This after attacking the Democratic ticket at the Republican convention, on the campaign trail, and at virtually every opportunity on radio and TV. The fact is that Lieberman did nothing for McCain – the Jewish vote went for Obama at a higher rate than it went for Kerry four years prior and his state of Connecticut came through with only 37% of the vote for McCain. So maybe Lieberman was actually working for Obama…….

But Democrats have to ask themselves whether they really need Lieberman whose career has four more years before the Connecticut voters finally puke him out of office. We shall see.

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The Lost Honor of John McCain

Posted November 3, 2008 on 11:39 am | In the category Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Palin | by Jeff

For many if not most Americans the presidential campaign has gone on far too long, been characterized by too much ignorance and character assassination, and is ending with the passing away of an American hero’s honor. This passing can best be characterized as a political suicide, committed out of desperation, with a lack of respect for the American political process, and lust for power. Among its collateral damage is the loss of respect for science, rational thought, truth, and civil discourse.  When 23% of Texans believe Obama is a Muslim, when white voters in Pennsylvania express worry that a President Obama would enslave white Americans, when a significant number of voters allow themselves to believe that Obama is “palling around with terrorists”, and when elements of the press present ludicrous formulations by candidates as legitimate grist for the campaign mill, then we are all cheapened.

When faced with questions regarding some of the nastier slurs of their campaign, McCain advisors always refer to the fact (sic) that they are only doing what the Obama campaign has done. Anyone who has watched the campaign over the past few months knows this to be untrue. Obama has been accused by McCain and his know-nothing running mate from Alaska of being a terrorist, of being a socialist – (perhaps even a Marxist!) – of being ready to raise everyone’s taxes, of supporting total sex education for kindergartners, and aiding in voter fraud. None of these charges is true and of course they know it but in the ultimate insult to the American people they peddle the accusations over and over again in the hope that enough confused or ignorant voters will fall for one or more of them. And of course they are right to a degree.

I have never been a fan of the “man-in-the-street” interview because it makes it too easy for journalists to avoid trying to analyze what is real and what is not and it typically gives airtime to airheads like Joe the Plumber. But it does, after all, expose the quality of thought that is out there – the woman from Pennsylvania who said she feared Obama would  “enslave the white race”, or the poor souls who believe that Obama is a Muslim and – ergo – not fit to live in American let alone be president. OR the people who rant about Obama’s tax plan without bothering to know what the plan actually is, and et cetera.  This points to a larger problem than the venality of people like McCain and the ignorance of people like Palin. In our headlong flight away from elitism into the dark recesses of ignorance we are creating a culture in which people are too lazy to do the work of a democracy; too lazy to read, too lazy to think, too scared to explore differences, and too satisfied with the mediocrity of so much of American politics and culture. McCain’s choice of Palin is a vivid reflection of that mediocrity and either a harbinger of things to come or merely the last shovelful of dirt on the grave of John McCain’s honor. Regardless of who wins this election there will remain the question of just what McCain thought he meant by his slogan, “Country First”.

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Death of the Straight Talk Express

Posted October 22, 2008 on 5:02 pm | In the category Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Palin, Politics | by Jeff

“Here is a Communist Daily Worker of March 9, containing seven articles and a principal editorial, all attacking McCarthy. And the same issue lists Mr. Murrow’s program as — listen to this! — “One of tonight’s best bets on TV.”…. Now, this is a question which can be resolved with very little difficulty. What do the Communists think of me? And what do the Communists think of Mr. Murrow? One of us is on the side of the Communists; the other is against the Communists, against Communist slavery.”
–Senator Joe McCarthy on Edward R. Murrow 1954

Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,”… “This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America, We see America as a force of good in this world.”
—Governor Sarah Palin on Senator Barack Obama – 2008

I suppose it was inevitable that the McCain/Palin campaign would sink to new lows as their poll numbers went south. While it is difficult to find a silver lining in the way they have run their campaign of smears and lies perhaps there will be one if American voters provide a strong enough signal that they will not be dragged, scared or bullied into the sewer.

There are two weeks left for McCain/Palin to flood the country with mindless personal attacks on Senator Obama and it appears that, having nothing useful and substantive to say, they will do just that. Two years is a long time – too long for many – to have to put up with a presidential campaign. But ironically, it is that extended campaign that has allowed the country to watch the decomposition of the old McCain and his party’s morphing into a reincarnation of the Know Nothing party of the 19th century. Sarah Palin is a near-perfect example of that with her witheringly ignorant rants on issues foreign and domestic and McCain’s selection of her places him at the helm of what has become the Strait Jacket Express.

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Another Province Heard From on Palin

Posted October 6, 2008 on 5:48 pm | In the category Canada, Election 2008, Palin, Press | by Jeff

Our leading source for innuendo, Fox News, is reporting that one Heather Mallick, analyst and columnist for the CBC has morphed into Canada’s left wing Ann Coulter. Writing about Senator McCain’s VP nominee Sarah Palin, Ms. Mallick has said in recent columns for the CBC and The Guardian the following nasty bits:

“A Mighty Wind blows through Republican convention…” noting that Republican VP nominee Sarah “…”added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn’t already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America’s name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right.”

“The semiotics are pure Palin: a sturdy body, clothes that are clinging yet boxy and a voice that could peel the plastic seal off your new microwave.”

“…red states vote Republican on social issues to give themselves the only self-esteem available to their broken, economically abused existence.”

“We share a 1,500-mile border with a frontier state full of drunks and crazy people, of the blight that cheap-built structures bring to a glorious landscape. … Alaska is our redneck cousin, our Yukon Territory forms a blessed buffer zone, and thank God he never visits. Alaska is the end of the line.”

And, et cetera. It is easy to dismiss Ms. Palin as not up to the job of Vice President without stooping to a level that diminishes the impact of the argument and anything that gives Fox News an opportunity to cry “foul” is a disservice to the real debate. Ms. Mallick provides a great example of smugness gone awry.

We leave it to our intrepid Canadian correspondents Bob and Doug MacKenzie to determine if Ms. Mallick is really Canadian?

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Emergency Call for Palinectomy

Posted October 4, 2008 on 4:47 pm | In the category Election 2008, McCain, Palin, Politics, Press | by Jeff

“Take Sarah Palin…… please.”
Henny Youngman (paraphrased)

On a fairly regular basis the American press loses its collective mind over some nonsense. The current nonsense is named Sarah Palin and it is time to put it where it belongs – in the comics page or the news of the absurd section. From the moment she was put on the GOP ticket it was obvious that she lacked any semblance of the intelligence, background and skill set needed to be Vice President, the proverbial heartbeat from the Presidency. Nothing that has happened since her nomination acceptance speech has changed that reality and yet we are now being pummeled with all kinds of analysis about whether Palin cleared a hurdle in the debate – a debate in which she distinguished herself by not answering the questions asked of her, by mimicking Senator McCain’s vacuous sarcasm, by making countless factual errors (lies?), by re-enacting her days as beauty queen contestant and by playing to whoever the hell is Joe Six-pack. She is Tracy Flick, the Reese Witherspoon character in “Election”.

I could go on, but it would be counter to my point. We have seen and heard more than enough of Palin –put us out of our misery; take her away. Please.

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Hockey Mom Kneels at Feet of War Criminal

Posted September 23, 2008 on 9:10 pm | In the category Election 2008, Obama, Palin, Press, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

If you put lipstick on Henry Kissinger he would still be a pig.

Sarah Palin has decided – or been ordered –to learn something about the world and who better to teach her than Henry Kissinger. He has been a lead player in almost every major American debacle since he leeched onto Richard Nixon in 1968.The record is one of stunning mistakes, arrogant denials and a supine press licking his backside.

So, Sarah Palin, hockey Mom, nutty evangelical, and would be Vice President went back to school today with a private tutor with the following qualifications:

– In 1970 Kissinger organized the assassination of Chilean General Rene Schneider to facilitate the removal (and death) of Chilean President Salvador Allende because apparently President Nixon did not want Allende to be president of Chile;

– Over 20,000 American soldiers died in Vietnam while Kissinger waited for a “decent interval” before calling it quits AFTER he had declared a “secret peace plan\” during the 1968 election campaign;

– Ordered secret and illegal bombing on Laos and Cambodia in 1969 for nor good purpose. The bombing led to an estimated 600,000 civilian deaths;

– In 1974 Kissinger worked with Turkey to invade Cyprus and assassinate Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios.

– Kissinger’s support of Chilean government terrorist organizations led to the assassination in Washington DC of Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier and American co-worker Ronni Moffitt in 1976;

– The Indonesian government launched its bloody invasion of Portuguese East Timor in December 1975 with the concurrence of President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It led to over 100,000 civilian deaths.

The list could go on, but what is truly amazing is that this tired, self-promoting criminal continues to be treated seriously and respectfully by the press. If you want a reason for the world’s distrust of America you could look no further than Henry Kissinger. And he is the man chosen to instruct the naïve, silly, empty vessel Sarah Palin. You could not make this up.

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