Wednesday, May 11th, 2022


By George

A few thoughts, none of which are mine: "In America, anyone can become president. That's the problem ... That's why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it ... By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth ... Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups ... When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat ... Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience ... Conservatives say if you don't give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they've lost all incentive because we've given them too much money ... Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure." That's just a sampling of George Carlin lines. He's been dead for almost 14 years, but he still seems to get America as well as anyone. Today, he's regularly quoted by political figures. And it happens on both sides of the aisle (which he could probably do a whole routine about). Need a quote for this week's news? No problem: Conservatives "will do anything for the unborn, but once you're born, you're on your own." As Dave Itzkoff explains, "There's a strange afterlife that Carlin enjoys, not just as a comic but also as a moral compass. Few of us care in quite the same way if our choices in life would meet the approval of Johnny Carson or Andy Kaufman. That Carlin's work endures long after him is not only a testament to his talents; it's a sign that his frustrations, which he expressed humorously but felt authentically, still resonate with audiences, and that the injustices he identified in American society persist to this day." NYT (Gift Article): The Strange Afterlife of George Carlin. Let's close with one more Carlin line: "The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' and 'Thou shalt not lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment."


Voting on the Margins

"In March, a Senate vote on an abortion rights bill failed 46-48. This week, lawmakers are about to take the same vote, and ultimately get a similar outcome." So why do it again? To get politicians on record. The Senate's doomed vote on abortion rights, explained. Here's an interesting fact to consider about Alito's leaked draft opinion. If Roe is overturned, it will be the first time in American history that a personal liberty has been taken away by the court.

+ From WaPo: Some Democrats warn abortion rights demonstrators not to go overboard. Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a bill to provide security for family members of Supreme Court justices. Good. I'm for that. Now they should pass a long overdue law to protect women who are trying to go from their cars to their doctors office to get reproductive health care.

+ "Reports of harassment, disturbance and violence outside the state's clinics are skyrocketing, while the federal law meant to protect clinics doesn't cover the kind of tactics common today." Center for Investigative Reporting: Abortion's Last Stand in the South: A Post-Roe Future Is Already Happening in Florida.

+ "The message was 'intricately drawn' in 'multiple different colors,' the police report stated." Susan Collins Called 911 Over A Chalk Drawing Asking Her To 'Please' Support Abortion Rights.

+ Axios: Medical education of abortion could be erased in red states. But that education covers more than just abortion. "The politicization of our field has made the public think of abortion as a very separate thing from reproductive care when really it's very much intertwined in what we do ... Abortion care is very much intertwined with miscarriage management, with pregnancy care, with overall reproductive care."


Numb and Numbers

There are some troubling trends facing Americans. First, the US has the highest rate of gun-related deaths in more than 25 years (maybe this is an issue the pro life folks want to focus on?). Second, US overdose deaths hit record 107,000 last year. Third, inflation is easing a bit, but it's still bad.


Pod Cast Away

"I suspect most people reading this news will experience two thoughts, simultaneously: That's a shame, I loved the iPod. Wait, they were still selling the iPod Touch?" John Gruber on the end of era. A Touching Goodbye for iPod. (I haven't even completed my mourning process for the Walkman.)

+ It was a hell of an iRun. An Illustrated History of the iPod.


Extra, Extra

A Simple Formula: "The shortage became acute with a recall of a defective brand this year after at least four babies were hospitalized with bacterial infection and at least two babies died. But the recall has been exacerbated by relentless supply-chain woes and labor shortages." NYT: A Baby Formula Shortage Leaves Desperate Parents Searching for Food. And from AP: Parents hunting for baby formula as shortage spans US. (As a proud formula baby, this one hits home.)

+ End Timing: "Energy and food security are the most immediate worries, but massive Western support for Ukraine while the world is still emerging from coronavirus pandemic and struggling to deal with the effects of climate change could deepen the toll on the global economy. And should Russia choose to escalate, the risk of a broader conflict rises." With no clear endgame in Ukraine, officials worry the invasion could continue for months or years.

+ Leveling Up: "'I was supposed to write music and die poor': How SF musicians are turning to video games to make ends meet.

+ Reporter Killed: "Israel's prime minister said it was 'likely' they were shot by Palestinian gunmen during an exchange of fire ... The Palestinian president said he held the Israeli government fully responsible for what he described as a 'crime of execution.'" A veteran Palestinian-American correspondent for Al Jazeera has been killed while covering a raid by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.

+ Cold Cases in a Hot World: "Having grown up just down the road, the son of the senior pastor at another church in town, I've spent my life watching evangelicalism morph from a spiritual disposition into a political identity. It's heartbreaking. So many people who love the Lord, who give their time and money to the poor and the mourning and the persecuted, have been reduced to a caricature. But I understand why. Evangelicals—including my own father—became compulsively political, allowing specific ethical arguments to snowball into full-blown partisan advocacy." Tim Alberta in The Atlantic: How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church. Let's let George Carlin add one more line to today's edition. "I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. These two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."


Bottom of the News

Succession actor and activist James Cromwell went full Uncle Ewan when he glued the palm of his hand to a midtown Manhattan Starbucks counter. He was protesting the fact that Starbucks upcharges for plant-based milk. (You gotta be pretty focused to make that the issue you're protesting this week...)

+ Canada MP regrets calling into debate from toilet.