Monthly Archives: April 2022

Occam’s Chainsaw

This is going to be short and sweet.

I continue to be amazed how people I respect and admire continuously fail to see the forest for the trees. This week’s example is Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) who was the lead manager for TFG’s second impeachment and now serves on the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th assault on Congress and the U.S. Capitol.

During an interview with Nicole Wallace, following release of the Kevin McCarthy tapes, Raskin suggested it raised a new question for the committee. Exactly what happened during McCarthy’s Mar-a-Lago visit that changed his perspective about the danger TFG presented for the future of the GOP, much less the nation?

Most of the talk has been about money. TFG is believed to have a political nest egg of approximately $150 million to spend in support of his toadies and a possible 2024 run for president. But that ignores two facts of life. So far, TFG has distributed less than one million of that to candidates he has endorsed. Most of it is being spent on legal fees, something not likely change any time soon, and events at (you guessed it) Mar-a-Lago. Second, most GOP candidates do not need his money. They are successful fundraisers, in their own right, and have multiple national PACs from which they can expect additional resources.

What does TFG have that no one else has? Millions of cult followers who would abandon the Republican Party on a moment’s notice if asked to do so. What would that mean for McCarthy, McConnell and the rest of the GOP McLemmings? The answer can be found in this morning’s poll for the GOP nomination in Georgia. Incumbent Governor Brian Kemp: 53 percent. Trump-endorsed challenger David Perdue: 27 percent.

As Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) would say each episode when he cracked the case, “Here’s what happened.”

McCarthy and Trump discuss Republicans plans to take back House majority at  Florida meeting Thursday - CNNPolitics

TFG to McCarthy: Son, cut that shit out or I’m going to start a third party.

McCarthy (bowing): Yes, Sir!

TFG: Bring in the photographer. Smile, son. Bye. (Aside: That was easy!)

Imagine a three-way general election between Kemp, Perdue and Democrat Stacey Abrams who only lost by 50,000 in 2018. Perdue syphons 27 percent of Kemp’s two million 2018 votes. Abrams wins in a landslide. Raphael Warnock wins re-election to the Senate. And every competitive senate, house and gubernatorial contest in which the MAGA Party fields a candidate results in a Democratic victory.

Where is Tennessee Ernie Ford when you really need him? Or a Weird Al Yankovic parody of Ford’s #1 single “Sixteen Tons” with McCarthy, et. al. singing the chorus.

You kiss his ring and what do you get?
A flaccid spine and your pants are all wet.
I know this is contrary
To the oath that I swore.
It’s the price you pay when you join the Trump Corps.

For what it’s worth.

Idle Hands…

Moses should have quit while he was ahead. If only the Torah had consisted of the “two books of Moses” instead of five. And ended with Exodus, a historical account of repression, courage and perseverence. And he delivers the Ten Commandments, the equivalent of the U.S. Constitution. A rather short document which assumes people of good will can figure out the rest.

Although I prefer George Carlin’s distillation of the tablets into Three Commandments.




[Complete Carlin transcript]

But Moses faced an age-old problem. He was the leader of a tribe over which he was losing control, as first evidenced by that golden calf incident at Mount Sinai. To make matters worse, God told him all those people who had been subjected to Pharaoh’s tyranny were incapable of participating in the new order. He had to make them crisscross the desert for 40 years until they all died off (including Moses himself).

Forty years is a lot of time to kill. So, what does Moses do? He decides to expound on the Ten Commandments just in case the Israelites did not get it. If the Ten Commandments was the Constitution, Leviticus is the U.S. Code.

Think of Leviticus as a compilation of responses to unimagined behavior. But it did not end with Leviticus. For example, today in Alaska, it is illegal to wake a hibernating bear for the purpose of taking its picture. Why? Because you know some fool tried exactly that. As comedian Costaki Economoupolous (real name) suggests, the penalty for violating this law? “Death by bear.”

Imagine Moses watching over his flock and each time he observed behavior which seemed out of place he made a note to himself. “You need to tell the people ‘DON’T DO THAT.” Some of them make sense though you would hope unnecessarily.

  • Finding lost property and lying about it. (L6:3)
  • Having sex with your mother. (L18:7)
  • Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives. (L18:18)
  • Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind. (L19:14)
  • Making your daughter prostitute herself. (L19:29)

Some made sense at the time, especially those related to sanitation or proper preparation of food, problems hopefully addressed by the invention of the refrigerator and the USDA.

However, when you have 40 years, there was no telling what people would do to kill a few hours or days.

  • Letting your hair become unkempt. (L10:6)
  • Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard. (L19:10)
  • Mixing fabrics in clothing. (L19:19)
  • Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it. (L19:23)
  • Selling land permanently. (L25:23)

It makes one wonder how portions of Leviticus could possibly have been penned contemporaneously. If, as reported, the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert, were they ever in one place long enough to grow grapes or fruit trees? Or who would take out a 10-year mortgage to buy land if they knew they would soon move on to the next location?

If this looks or sounds remotely familiar, maybe that is because we have our own restless tribe with its own golden calf (or one with dyed golden hair). Out of power, they are adrift in a political desert with lots of time on their hands. So, they have decided to fill that time by creating their own version Leviticus including:

  • Do not give nourishment to voters in line even if they have to wait hours to enter the polling place.
  • Restrict the right to assemble unless you are a Canadian trucker or headed to DC.
  • Make up non-existent justifications to ban books.
  • Challenge election results whenever you lose.
  • Accuse anyone who supports gay rights of being a pedophile.
  • Claim to be pro-business unless a private corporation disagrees with your bats**t policies.
  • Decry “cancel culture” whiling trying to cram LGBTQ Americans back in the closet.

As you know, I am not a believer but there are valuable lessons to be gleaned from the evolution of religion. Despite my Jewish heritage, I admire the change in tenor between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament (once you get past Exodus) is about power and control. Written approximately 15 centuries later, the New Testament speaks of comfort, mercy, peace and a thirst for righteousness.

Is present-day America capable of a similar enlightenment? I do not have the answer. If it does, I hope it does not take another 1500 years.

For what it’s worth.

No We Khan’t

Always in search of the next entrepreneurial opportunity, I took note of two media trends that have dominated American television for decades. First is the remake of British TV shows for a domestic audience. Among the most notable are “American Idol,” hand carried to our shores by Simon Cowell following his success in the London-based “Pop Idol,” “The Office” modeled after Ricky Gervais’ hit of the same title, and “All in the Family,” a doppelganger of “Till Death Us Do Part.”

The second trend is the willingness to tweak a successful format as many ways as possible to make up for the lack of new ideas among the Hollywood and New York entertainment elite. Which brings me back to “American Idol” which has spawned a plethora of increasingly gimmicky and excruciating imitations. “The Voice.” “The Masked Singer.” “I Can See Your Voice.” “Sing On!” “Lip Sync Battle.” “Rhythm + Flow.” “Songland.” And the most recent “Alter Ego,” on which the performers don motion capture suits to become on-stage avatars.

Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan Opposes Trump's Immigration Ban - The New York  Times

Which brings me to my latest venture, a British version of the award-honored American series “Ted Lasso.” The creative twist? Instead of fiction, it is a pseudo-documentary in which the owner of a successful British football team buys an NFL franchise in hopes of a similar level of achievement. It stars Pakistani-born billionaire Shahid Khan who purchased the flailing Fulham Cottagers in 2013. Fulham was on the verge of relegation (demotion) from the Premier League (MLB equivalent) to the Championship League (AAA equivalent). Five years later Fulham was again promoted to the Premier League.

How did they do it? Khan hired his son Tony as Fulham’s director of operations, the NFL equivalent of general manager. He changed managers (read head coach) four times.

In 2009, Khan expresses interest in American sports and seeks the advice of Jerry Colangelo, former owner of the basketball Phoenix Suns and baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. In an interview with the New York Times, Colangelo states, “His interest was specifically football, but he may have mentioned baseball, too.” (Indecision about which sport one knows the least is never a good sign.) Two years later he makes an offer to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars and receives approval of the sale by NFL owners in December 2011.

Confident the system he used to return Fulham to the Premier League would work in America, Khan appoints son Tony as “chief football strategy officer” (whatever that is) and brings in a new head coach Mike Mularkey (please, no Joe Biden jokes), the first of five such changes over nine years.

After five losing seasons, the 2017 campaign appeared to vindicate Khan’s ownership when the 10-6 Jaguars made it to the AFC championship game. Convinced he had conquered one more world, Khan turned to another “sports” venture, creation of All Elite Wrestling, a new professional wrestling circuit to compete with the McMahons WWE.

2017 proved to be an anomaly. Despite additions such as Urban “Khan: This time I got it right.” Meyer as head coach and overall #1 draft choice quarterback Trevor Lawrence, fans have suffered through four disappointing seasons with the last two at the very bottom of the NFL standings.

This is not the script Khan had written for his foray into western hemisphere athletics. So, at the end of season one, Khan considers pulling the Jaguars out of the NFL to establish a new league, All Elite Football modeled after AEW with stars like Trevor “Pretty Boy” Lawrence and Cam “The Enforcer” Robinson. That should produce a script Khan can relish.

If BBC does not think “No I Khan’t” communicates the premise, maybe they would prefer “Ted Losso.”

For what it’s worth.