Cheers and Jeers for Friday, March 15, 2019
Note: Today is the Ides of March. I seem to have misplaced my dagger, so I’ll have to assassinate you with this toothpick instead. [Poink Poink Poink Poink Poink Poink Poink Poink!] Sorry, this might take awhile. While you’re bleeding out through your pinholes, please help yourself to a muffin.
By the Numbers:
Days ’til St. Patrick’s Day: 2
Days ’til the Kushstock Festival in Adelanto, California: 5
Favorable feelings toward Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris, respectively, in the latest Des Moines Register-CNN poll of Iowa Democrats: 81%, 71%, 63%, 58%
Favorable rating for independent Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks: 7%
Annual rent charged last year and this year, respectively, by Cooper Union College for the land it owns under New York City‘s Chrysler Building: $7.5 million, $32.5 million
Number of IRS employees, down from 100,000 in 2010: 79,000
Decline in IRS audits of millionaires since 2010: 50%
Thursday Friday Molly Ivins Moment:
I do like the idea of supporting democracy, however, and think we should try it—especially here in the U.S. of A. To this end, a couple of dandy ideas are now circulating, and I think they’re worth your support and excitement.
For ages, all good reformers have wanted to get rid of the Electoral College and have direct popular election of presidents, instead. The disastrous election in 2000 finally culminated in Bush v. Gore, a Supreme Court decision so bad even the court disowned it at the time.
Every nightmare scenario about just how screwed up things could get with the Electoral College all came true. What a giant mess: a textbook case of why the Electoral College is toxic piffle. But the desire to Do Something about the mess in 2000 burned itself out. The Republicans who took over Congress are just not natural reformers.
Puppy Pic of the Day: Kneel before Pootie Zod…
CHEERS to the GREAT STATE OF MAINE!!! We told Massachusetts to kiss our hineys (well, the proclamation specifically says “kisseth our hineyeths”) 199 years ago this week, after which we declared our independence and became America’s 23rd state, though not under the best of circumstances:
Mainers had begun campaigning for statehood in the years following the Revolution.
The Massachusetts legislature finally consented in 1819. What no one in either Massachusetts or Maine foresaw, however, was that Maine‘s quest for statehood would become entangled in the most divisive issue in American history—slavery. Most Mainers supported abolition. They were dismayed that their admission to the Union was linked to the admission of Missouri as a slave state. This controversial “Missouri Compromise” preserved—for a few more decades—the delicate balance between pro- and anti-slavery forces in the U.S.Congress.
We’ve got a lot going for us, if I do say so myself. (And I do.) Today we’re once again ruled by a liberal Democrat…and for the first time in our state’s history it’s a governor with lady parts! We’re the first state in the country to approve marriage equality by a citizen vote independent of the legislature, our scenery will lower your stress level in mere minutes, our lobster melts in your mouth, we have a brand-spankin’ new national monument thanks to former President Obama, and the Downeaster train that runs from Brunswick to Boston is a huge success story for Amtrak. Come on up and see us once the roads are passable when mud season ends in June. The black flies would love to have you for dinner.
CHEERS to America’s favorite frizzy-haired science guy. Belated Happy Birthday to Albert Einstein. He once said, “He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.” Wild guess: not a Trump fan.
CHEERS to cheep dates. In five days the groundhog will clap his hands and—Poof!!!—winter will turn to spring. In a sign that all is on schedule, the first buzzards arrived today in Hinckley, Ohio:
They gather at the crack of dawn in a barren field in Hinckley on March 15 every year for different reasons. Some return because it’s tradition. For others, it is bucket-list thing.
As for the buzzards, it is what they do. Buzzard Day arrived, and once again the turkey vultures did not disappoint.
The watch began at 7 a.m. and just 58 minutes later the first one took flight over a crowd of about 40 oohing and aahing admirers. The second sighting — this time a pair — buzzed by just 12 minutes later. […]
The weather was favorable for watchers Friday morning, dry with a relatively warm temperature in the mid-40s. The vultures glide in flight, riding warmer thermals rather than flapping their 6-foot-long wing span to get around and scavenge for food.
The buzzards were a little late this year. After hearing about Paul Manafort’s latest sentencing they decided to spend a bit more time circling over his prison cell. Nothing like the pungent taste of fresh dead meat.
CHEERS to socialism, American-style. Through the collective approval and funding by We The People, the Wildlife Refuge System celebrates its 116th birthday this week. Ever wonder how it got started? If you answered ‘no,’ tough. You’re gonna find out anyway…
In the late 1800s, the whims of fashion dictated that women’s hats would be decorated by bird feathers. To meet this need, poachers hunted many species of birds to the brink of extinction. Concerned citizens, scientists and conservation groups found a champion in President Theodore Roosevelt.
Their concern about the rookery at Pelican Island on the Atlantic Coast of Florida inspired Roosevelt to use his presidential powers to protect pelicans, egrets, ibises and other birds. With the establishment of the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island on March 14, 1903, Roosevelt created the National Wildlife Refuge System. […]
Building on that foundation, the National Wildlife Refuge System today spans 150 million acres, including 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetlands management districts.
If you’re thinking of visiting a wildlife refuge, make sure you take a map, a canteen, and trail mix. But, uh, you best leave the feathered hat at home. Too soon.
CHEERS to Ol’ Shortstuff. Happy 268th birthday tomorrow to “Father of the Constitution” James Madison—at 5-foot-4 our president (1809-1817) with the lowest center of gravity and our next-to-last Founding Father to occupy the White House (Monroe ended the era after him). Frankly, it’s amazing what he accomplished considering that he was one sick puppy:
James Madison was without a doubt the sickliest president in American history.
The man’s life reads like the index to a medical textbook. Influenza, rheumatism, hemorrhoids—you name it, he had it. He suffered frequent bouts of illness from a young age and abstained from serving in the Continental Army during the Revolution on account of them. […]
The location of the founded capital—Washington—didn’t help. The area’s proximity to a swamp meant summers there could be infernally humid and plagued by fetid, unhealthy air. While unpleasant for most people, it was downright crippling for Madison, whose “bilious indispositions,” as he called them, usually forced him to flee D.C. during the hot months.
—From Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents by Cormac O’Brien
And yet he lived to be one of our oldest ex-presidents, expiring in 1836 at the ripe old age of 85. Madison was also at the helm during the War of 1812, when The Star Spangled Banner was written. Pay your respects here. Preferably under the red glare of some sort of rocket-like projectile.
CHEERS to the wearin’ ‘o the green beer. St. Patrick’s Day is Sunday and C&J extends a hearty “Begosh ‘n Pull Me Finger” to all our Irish readers. My descendants are Swiss (“Say, is that the Matterhorn in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Ha ha ha, I kid. It’s an Alpine horn.”), so I’m totally neutral about St. Patrick’s Day. But Federal law requires us to post the following:
Have you heard about the Irish boomerang? It doesn’t come back, it just sings songs about how much it wants to.
There’s a new Irish restaurant being built in town. They’re going to serve gourmet 7-course Irish meals. Everyone who comes in gets a potato and a six-pack.
On St. Patrick’s Day, Americans are expected to drink over 13 million pints of Guinness. To give you an idea how much beer that is, go outside and look at the sidewalk. —Seth Meyers
What’s Irish and sits outside in the summertime?
Sadly, federal law also prohibits us from apologizing for the above. Shillelagh! (Gesundheit.)
CHEERS to home vegetation. Here are some of the glowing-screen haps this weekend. Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow will digest the Friday news dump(s) between 8 and 10 on MSNBC, including the latest on the massacre in New Zealand and the worldwide student climate marches. (Go, kids!) Then, on HBO’s Real Time, Bill Maher talks with former Deputy FBI bad-guy nabber Andrew McCabe, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), author Jessica Yellin, former Tallahassee mayor and 2018 guv candidate Andrew Gillum, and John Heilemann.
New home video releases include the Oscar-winning best picture that we’re supposed to boo (I’m told) Green Book, and the Fantastic Beasts sequel (please don’t make me write the whole title, it’s like 159 words long). The NBA schedule is here and the NHL schedule is here. (The Bruins are gonna win the Stanley Cup this weekend—don’t ask how, just believe!) The Players Championship—aka the “5th major” in pro golf—airs on NBC from TPC Sawgrass in Florida, and I’m layin’ down all my money on the ghost of Ben Hogan because that guy’s good! On 60 Minutes: a report on brain injuries affecting American diplomats in China the way they did in Cuba, AOL co-founder Steve Case looks for the next “big idea” in America’s heartland (how about a nuggety breakfast cereal you make from wheat that’s called Heartland Wheat Breakfast Nuggets?), and apparently we needed an update on the Prince of Monaco, so hot damn that’s what we’re gettin’! Homer becomes Bart’s video game coach on The Simpsons, while Meg makes the Olympic biathlon on Family Guy (Fox). And John Oliver tucks America and its territories into bed Sunday at 11 on HBO’s Last Week Tonight.
Now here’s your damn Sunday morning lineup. Eat it all or you get no cake:
Meet the Press: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
This Week: TBA
Face the Nation: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA); former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
CNN’s State of the Union: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI); Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats.
Fox GOP Talking Points Sunday: South Bend, Indiana Mayor and impressive 2020 presidential candidate Pete Butigieg (D).
Ten years ago in C&J: March 15, 2009
CHEERS to grownups in charge. In yet another sign that the Obama administration intends to ratchet down the citizen-scaring “War on Terror” nonsense that the Bushies foisted on us 7 years ago to help them win elections, the Justice Department today said it’s scrapping the term “enemy combatant.” From now on, suspected terrorists will be referred to as “Cheeky Leaky Rubber Baby Butterbutts.” If nothing else, reading the court transcripts’ll be fun.
And just one more…
CHEERS to “Q.” Composing and producing legend—like, the kind of legend that other legends look at and say, “Okay, now he’s a legend”—Quincy Jones turns 86 this week. Our favorite Q-tune is his junky-tonk theme for Sanford and Son and if you want to release some waterworks just go revisit his Oscar-nominated score for The Color Purple. For pop thrills there’s Thriller. But for sheer mojo-rejuvenating goodness, no playlist should be without Soul Bossa Nova. I propose that this replace our current national anthem. No words, just groovin’…
In his roller-coaster ride interview with Vulture last year, he said: “I stopped drinking two years ago and I feel like I’m 19 years old. I’ve never been so creative. I can’t tell you, man—what a life!” Live forever, Q. I mean it.
Have a nice weekend. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?