Friday, December 30, 2016

The Tweet Of The Day for December 30, 2016

I don't need to wait until later tonight to pick a winner. The tweet of the day -- the tweet that needs to be preserved and highlighted before it disappears under the relentless surge of Twitter's flood -- came from @SummerBrennan drawing attention to these words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Though this sounds like Bonhoeffer to me, I always like to confirm any quotation I'm given in a tweet or Facebook or blog post. It was easy to find the exact source of this on page 43 of his Letters and Papers from Prison, in case you want to read it in context.

Happy Birthday Patti Smith!

Happy 70th!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"You're Fired!" A prominent Trump supporter lost his job today.

The Buffalo Bills just fired their head coach Rex Ryan today (and his brother Rob Ryan too). Here's Rex introducing Donald Trump in Buffalo last April, and telling a story about how team-owner Trump threatened to fire his coaches:

Maybe @realDonaldTrump needs to tweet about this outrageous act of anti-Trump prejudice being demonstrated by the Bills ownership!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Hanukkah times two

Pick your favorite Hamilton-inspired Hanukkah production, "Hasmonean" from The Maccabeats or "A Hamilton Chanukah" (introduced by President Obama) from Six13.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Maybe the Trump Inauguration Committee can get these singers

It's no secret that the Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee is having trouble finding performers to play at their January 20th festivities, but maybe -- if they make up for the fact that the campaign stiffed them back in January -- they can still get the USA Freedom Kids to perform.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today's Fine White Whine comes from whiny (and gropey) Roger Ailes

All of these privileged rich old white guys who would never apologize to anyone about anything on principle, are always the first to demand apologies from others. This time we're not talking about Donald Trump's precious little hurt feelings, but those of the sexual predator who was forced from his job as the head of Fox News earlier this year when the weight of evidence finally became overwhelming.
Roger Ailes personally called New York Daily News columnist Don Kaplan and said "I was hoping you would be a gentleman and apologize" for the gropey old man characterization used in a headline. 

A personal phone call? Hasn't Roger learned that the modern way for rich gropey old men to whine for an apology is in a tweet?

Donald Trump's 5-hour-long Christmas (NOT HOLIDAY!) Yule Log Video

Via Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Tweet of the Day for Sunday, December 18

The tweet of the day for Keith Richards' birthday came from @HeadsNews:

Happy 73rd Birthday to Keith Richards.

In a year during which we lost a lot of great musicians, at least we know that Keith Richards, thanks to the long-term preservative effects of tobacco and heroin, will be with us until well past his hundredth birthday.

You got my heart you got my soul
You got the silver you got the gold
You got the diamonds from the mine
Well that's all right, it'll buy some time
Happy Birthday Keef.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/17/2016

The tweet of the day comes from @JohnFugelsang, who distilled the new word of the day, 'unpresidented,' to its dual meaning in a gem of a tweet.

Question: How does a semi-literate TV addict spell 'unprecedented'?

Before the tweet was deleted and the spelling was corrected.
First of all, the major dictionaries of the English language should overrule their earlier selections in order to make "unpresidented" the word of the year for 2016.
Second, it seems there are only four possible explanations for this tweet from Donald Trump.
  1. He has never read books or articles that contain five-syllable words.
  2. He does know how to spell 'unprecedented,' and this was a purely Freudian slip of a man worried about how the electoral college will render its final verdict on Monday, possibly 'unpresidenting' him.
  3. Vicious left-wing Twitter employees are trying to make him look stupider than he is.
  4. The drugs he takes to keep him up tweeting at 4:30 in the morning are not without side effects.
Somewhere in America, Dan Quayle is laughing.

You can express your opinion in this Twitter poll:

Friday, December 16, 2016

The TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/16/2016

The tweet of the day comes from a 1974 interview with Hannah Arendt that was published in The New York Review of Books in 1978 and excerpted in this tweet from @WoodCowBooks today:

Hannah Arendt wrote and spoke hundreds of thousands of words about totalitarianism that will seem vital (but hopefully not too prescient) in the coming years.

Defending Putin in the Right-Wing Media Bubble

This morning @DonaldJTrumpJr felt it necessary to retweet @FoxAndFriends' tweet about Fox News' dumbest anchor and Trump friend @SeanHannity interviewing Julian Assange about how (contrary to what the CIA and everyone else in the world seems to believe) Russia had nothing to do with the DNC documents provided to Wikileaks.

Sometimes it's helpful to get a quick peek into the completely counterfactual media bubble within which Donald Junior's father has comfortably cushioned himself. Donald Senior is not someone who seems to have a desire to dig too deeply for information on his own (or accept any information that might contradict what he already 'knows'), so this glimpse into his son's Twitter feed is like a glimpse into the President Elect's brain. Maybe he actually doesn't know, or have the ability to believe, the role the Russians played in tipping the election in his favor.

Happy 246th Birthday Ludwig!

This is one of the most joyful musical performances I have ever seen of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth. Please give it five minutes and forty seconds of your day; you will have tears of joy in your eyes by the end or I will give you your money back!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/15/2016

Today was supposed to be the day that Donald Trump held a press conference to address his many conflicts of interest between the presidency and his businesses, but he weaseled out of the presser because he found more important things to do, standing up for one of his minor businesses. The morning was summarized well by @abwhite7:

The Short-Fingered Vulgarian's Revenge

Earlier this morning, the entity tweeting as @realDonaldTrump took its stubby little digits to its smartphone to attack Graydon Carter, so it seems like a good time to revisit Kurt Andersen and Graydon Carter's conversation with David Folkenflik about Spy Magazine and Donald Trump's most famous nickname that appeared on NPR back on March 7:

It seems clear that the actual reason Trump went after Vanity Fair's editor this morning was not because of a long-remembered slight, but because the magazine published Tina Nguyen's brilliant restaurant review of Trump Grill that should be read by all of America:
And it reveals everything you need to know about our next president.
Will he still be tweeting to protect the honor (and bottom line) of his private businesses after he has taken public office on January 20th? Or will he expect America to ignore his manifold conflicts of interest as completely as we ignored the fact that he never released his tax returns?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/14/2016

The tweet of the day from @RexHuppke is a perfect summation of Donald Trump's half-hearted attempt to deal with his conflicts of interest:

Chickens Coming Home to Roost (2016 Edition)

The phrase about the chickens is most familiar to modern Americans from the fact Barack Obama's Chicago pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pointed out to his congregation on September 16, 2001, that "America's chickens are coming home to roost." Just as with most figures of speech that contain a lot of truth, that phrase is much older than the current century. Robert Southey used "Curses are like young chicken, they always come home to roost" on the title page of The Curse of Kehama in 1811. Earlier than that, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote "And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest" in The Parson's Tale in the late 14th century.

In the six centuries since Chaucer, there may never have been a better illustration of the homing instincts of Gallus gallus domesticus than we saw this week when the CIA announced with "high confidence" that Russia had interfered with the US election to help Donald Trump win the presidency. The CIA. They should know. Since their founding in 1947, they have influenced elections on every continent but Antarctica (and maybe Australia?), beginning with the Italian election of 1948. Here's a short audio recap from Tim Weiner, author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, that was heard on WNYC yesterday:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The TBL Tweet of the Day is from Garry Kasparov

Nobody gave @Kasparov63 any serious competition today for's tweet of the day:

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/8/2016

The tweet of the day for today came from @LOLGOP, summing up the ridiculousness of the #WarOnChristmas and that messy intersection where militant anti-political-correctness meets right-wing conspiracy insanity, all in just slightly under 140 characters.

(There may be a gap in picking a #TBLTweetOfTheDay for the next few days, but I'm sure that Donald Trump won't do or say anything idiotic between now and next Tuesday, will he?)

Frontline Feline Foot Soldiers in our Liberal War On Christmas

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/7/2016

THE @JoyceCarolOates tweeted the following about the history of fake news this morning:

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/6/2016

The tweet of the day is from @DaveWeigel. It's another quick reminder of how different the cost of health care can be in places where it's not completely driven by the profit needs of private insurers, hospitals, and others in the U.S. medical and pharmaceutical industries.

"Oh, bummer." -- Jerry Garcia, December 6, 1969

If the popular myth has the decade of "The Sixties" reaching its cultural apotheosis in August 1969 on the green East Coast at The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, then its obituary was written less than four months later on this date in '69 on the dusty West Coast at Altamont Speedway. With Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and The Grateful Dead on the bill of the Altamont Free Concert along with the Rolling Stones, the plan was to recreate heaven rather than hell, but the Dead never took the stage and Jerry Garcia summed up the day with two words:

In the eternal American argument between Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby about our ability to recreate the past, Nick won this round.

Monday, December 05, 2016

TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/5/2016

The tweet of the day for Monday was one of the first I saw today, from @theDavidCrosby, which helped to get my day off to a good start.

Here are David Crosby, Michael League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis performing Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock' beautifully in a green room. This is a song from the Nixon years; there will be artistic and musical beauty in the Trump years too.

Good Night.

"What is Honour? A word. What is that word Honour? Air."

The combination of Donald Trump's most recent tweet today, "If the press would cover me accurately & honorably, I would have far less reason to 'tweet.' Sadly, I don't know if that will ever happen!", and reading Philip Roth's Our Gang about Dick Nixon, who was pathologically wed to the concepts of "peace with honor" and "an honorable end to the war" (even if that insistence cost tens of thousands of  American lives in Vietnam during his time in office) got me thinking about Republican presidents and their obsession with that hollow abstract noun.

Is this a concept that is more important to Republicans? It seems that way to me. My feelings about the concept are more in line with Sir John Falstaff's in English literature's most famous consideration of honor at the end of Act V, Scene 1 of Henry IV, Part One when Prince Hal speaks to Sir John immediately before the battle at Shrewsbury.

From Bodleian First Folio:
I would it were bed time, Hal, and all well.
Why, thou owest Heaven a death.

'Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before
his day. What need I be so forward with him that
calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No: or
an arm? No: Or take away the grief of a wound? No.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is
honour? A word.  What is that word honour? Air.
A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No.
Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon, and so
ends my catechism.

I Trust the Fourth Estate More Than Real Estate Moguls

Over on Twitter today, one of the trending hashtags is #LoveMyNewspaper. During the four years beginning on January 20, 2017, one of the ongoing battles -- if not the most important ongoing battle -- will be between the post-truth president and his media watchdogs, especially those in the print (and e-print) media who are capable of delving in depth and over time into the statements and actions of next administration and its tangled conflicts of interest.

We need to be clear about which side we're on.

TBL Tweet of the Day for 12/4/2016

One of the things I don't like about Twitter is the way that the past quickly disappears in the constant flow of the new; I think that's one of the reasons it was impossible for voters to keep a handle on the accumulating weight of Donald Trump's baggage as we chased the outrage of the moment (which tended with Comey's loose lips and the media's penchant for balance to be Hillary Clinton's emails in the latter days of the campaign).

One of the advantages of blogs is that they are organized with less clutter and with an easy-to-follow timeline, so today I'm starting something new here on I'm picking one tweet from the previous day to highlight, honor, and embed in amber. The first honor goes to @ezlusztig. I know nothing about Elliot Lusztig outside of his tweets and his Twitter cover photo showing one of the world's great artistic moments, Phillipe Petit's 1974 walk above lower Manhattan.

This tweet is not in my style (which prefers using all 140 characters in complete grammatical sentences), but the brevity was perfect here in response to racist Anne Coulter's racist rhetorical question about the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, "Why do these 'Native Americans' look exactly like the Trump protesters, Ferguson rioters, college hooligans, Occupy Wall St, etc?"

Unlike most of the new features that I have introduced on this blog from time to time, I am going to try to keep this up every day (except when I'm traveling or otherwise engaged in computer-free activities). If I follow you on Twitter, maybe you'll get to be the #TBLTweetOfTheDay soon.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Quotes of the day (and possibly the year) from Jonathan Swift and George Orwell via Philip Roth

The first of many Philip Roth novels I have read was 1971's Our Gang (Starring  Tricky and His Friends), which appeared when I was in high school in the Nixon years.

In advance of the text of his 200-page satire about Trick E. Dixon, Roth chose these two epigraphs to appear:

"...And I remember in frequent Discourses with my Master concerning the Nature of Manhood, in other Parts of the World; having Occasion to talk of Lying, and false Representation, it was with much Difficulty that he comprehended what I meant; although he had otherwise a most acute Judgment. For he argued thus; That the Use of Speech was to make us understand one another, and to receive Information of Facts; now if anyone said the Thing which was not, these Ends were defeated; because I cannot properly be said to understand him; and I am so far from receiving Information, that he leaves me worse than in Ignorance, for I am led to believe a Thing Black when it is White, and Short when it is Long. And these were all the Notions he had concerning that Faculty of Lying, so perfectly well understood, and so perfectly practised, among human Creatures." -- Jonathan Swift, A Voyage to the Houyhnhnms, 1726

" ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end … Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."  -- George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language," 1946

Lying and the degradation of political language weren't new in 2016, or when Roth wrote about them in 1971, or when Orwell wrote about them in the 1940s, or to Swift in the the 18th Century, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to fight against them by pointing out examples whenever and wherever they appear.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Is it time to see Donald Trump's school records (as well as his tax returns)?

As a quick reminder, back in 2012 when Donald Trump's racist call for Obama's birth certificate lost traction, he started his racist call for Obama's school records (because, of course, a black man could not possibly get into Columbia and Harvard Law without unfair affirmative governmental action).

Now it's becoming clear that we probably need to see the new PEOTUS's school transcripts before he takes office on January 20th. Specifically, there are so many questions about whether he has ever taken and passed a single class in history or civics. His latest blunder tonight was speaking directly with the President of Taiwan, possibly by accident, reversing 40 years of foreign policy and conceivably antagonizing China before he has even moved into the White House.

Just three days ago, he showed a complete lack of knowledge on a couple of pretty simple constitutional points, flag burning (constitutionally-protected 1st Amendment speech) and revoking citizenship (not a legal punishment), in one quick tweet triggered by his heavy diet of watching Fox News:

His love of Old Glory doesn't mean that he has any greater knowledge about its simple history either, of course. He famously didn't know what the thirteen stripes symbolized in 2008. That fact, if I remember correctly, is probably covered in second-grade textbooks.

This list could easily include hundreds of similar items spread out over every week of this year's campaign. We probably do need to see Donald Trump's complete school records (and his tax returns) before January 20.