Archive for the ‘Fun and frivolity’ Category

Bruce Gray was in the perfect position at the perfect time. With the secrets he learned by pointing his Truth Ray at people behind the scenes, he never had a problem working his way into virtually any event, and newsrooms were no different. This time he was off to the right, in the dark, with a clipboard in his left hand hiding the ray guy underneath it in the right.

The last couple of seconds were counted down silently, with gestures from a man with a headset on.

“I am MT Heded and this is Erin B. Tweenthyiers,” the tall dark man said as the blond beside him smiled broadly on demand. “You’re watching Pox News. This hour we’re looking into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which marries the business interests of 11 nations – Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei – with those of the United States.”

“I smell jobs, plenty of jobs,” said Erin buoyantly. “Isn’t it exciting when the world comes together for everyone’s benefit?”

Then she took a quick in-breath. Ray had fired up a medium dose, good for 90 seconds of truth with absolutely no recollection. The instantaneous effect was immediately evident.

“I know that they don’t usually want us to read up on things we talk about, but on this I did. The TPP should be called the Trans-Pacific Plundering agreement. Because that’s what partner countries are allowing corporations to do, calling out regulatory forces as barriers to maximum profits. Then the TPP itself holds member nations to the verdicts of their corporate tribunals and demands that governments make up the lost profits that ‘excessive’ regulation cuts into.”

“That’s very interesting, Erin. Now here’s a word from Pampers, the Golden Years Edition,” MT said looking straight ahead until they were clear. “What the hell was that?”

“Golden Years? Seriously? Can’t they see what’s ‘golden’ here?” Erin said, oblivious.

“Erin, that was damn close to tipping our hand,” MT said sternly. “Luckily the eyeballs of our principle viewers gloss over when they hear ‘regulatory.’ And confessing that we’re not supposed to learn about what we’re talking about?”

“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is. And it’s a secret.”

“Erin. A moment please,” said a voice in Erin’s hidden earpiece.

“Oh hi Bill,” she said, examining some of her hair. “What’s up?”

“You imbecile! You can’t discredit the TPP because the billionaires behind our sponsors will make tens of billions more if this goes through.”

“So. How many billions does anybody need? Even half of one would be fine with me.”

“Well, you’re not going to get there doing stunts like this. We hired you because you’re cute, articulate, and good at reading a teleprompter. That’s all we need from you. No thinking necessary, got it? Now stick with the script.”


The fingers went down in front of her.

“And we’re back. With the TPP, all the barriers to free trade will be a thing of the past. America will finally experience the free market at its finest,” Erin read. But then she turned her head. “Doesn’t Obama want this? I thought we were supposed to detest anything Obama supports. How do we get around that? Nobody’s given me the proper phrases yet.”

Then something popped in her head again, and she swiveled around to the teleprompter. “Today at the US Capitol, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell spoke on behalf of Fast Track, the mechanism where, in the interest in expediency, the TPP agreement could be confirmed in the Senate on a simple up or down vote with no filibusters or amendments.”

Then they cut to the McConnell, as droll as ever. While Erin waited for her next cue, Bruce adjusted his Truth Ray to the lightest setting, good for 30 seconds of truth. But in this instance, the “victim” does have recall over what he or she has just said.

“Senate majority leader Harry Reid has promised to fight Fast Track, but we fully expect him to cave,” Erin said ending with a slight cock of her head from the incoming jolt. “I see what you mean, MT, McConnell really does look like a turtle. But he sure lies real well, I’ll give him that. He’s a stud when it comes to hogwash. Does anybody really buy-” and she snapped back and finished her sentence as best she could, putting her years of damage control to the test. Usually it was in reaction to a guest or live report, not from her own mouth. “Buy that Mitch McConnell is soft on free trade? I think he’s leading the pack.”

“Up next, was Michelle Obama’s hashtag sign really a pre-plug for Steve Spielberg, whom some say already has the rights to the life stories of the abducted girls in Nigeria?” MT teased as they went to a hard break.

When the little red light went off and the lights dimmed slightly, Bill was right there in front of Erin. She didn’t have a clue why she said what she did, but still needed an explanation fast.

“Worst PMS ever,” she said with her best nauseous face, walking to her off-camera chair for a quick makeup brush-up.

“Bring some Midol to the set, STAT!” someone shouted.


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The second moon bathed the hills to my west, sweeping by on my way from San Francisco to Fortuna, just south of Eureka, 250 miles north. As I got to the two-lane road north of Willits, the moonlight caught anything white: houses, RV’s, boats, even car covers.

At the open plain around Laytonville the fields and trees were well defined, and further north in the narrow valleys the hanging smoke from modest pockets of civilization hung nearly motionless. The mostly dry riverbed of the Eel River caught my eye often. My glimpses were brief, of course, in the midst of the 400-plus corners the route entailed.

The redwoods stood out everywhere, scraggly spires 60 feet taller than the trees around them. Rather than being limited to the usual tunnel vision of night, the lack of lights in my mirrors opened up my field of vision to the subtleties of gray and shadow. Every ridge was cast in silhouette, with stars slicing through trees slowly.

The first moon appeared only briefly, between Polk St. and Van Ness on Bush St in SF. A weathered woman with unwashed hair and a bright-eyed smirk spotted an approaching three-wheeler with a parking enforcer at the wheel. She spun around and gave the city worker a quick moon, pulling down her terrycloth sweats. At least her butt was clean; the rest of her flesh looked pretty gritty….

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Next week’s GOP debate will see the debut of a ninth candidate who could prove stiff competition to the Republicans vying for the party’s presidential nomination. In a surprise move, Big Bird has thrown his sizable hat into the ring, and he should become an immediate frontrunner on the basis of his huge advantage in favorable approval ratings.

With his towering stature, Romney is already at a loss to figure out how he can go nose to nose with him. With Big Bird’s charming good looks, Backmann is terrified at losing her modest edge in visual appeal. And with the newcomer’s affable demeanor, Cain’s only chance for success, his folksy appeal, will be overshadowed.

In perceived intelligence, Big Bird fits in roughly in the middle of the field. But with his straightforward albeit simplistic delivery, Gingrich is worried that his meandering, overreaching spins will lose their impact when compared to his new foe.

All eight GOP presidential hopefuls have much to fear when the ninth podium is added next week. Big Bird always keeps his cool, totally unflappable. He’s so much more likable than the current eight.

The big question for Big Bird is how can he land the Republican vote without an undercurrent of hate, which has been the driving force behind conservative dogma for so long. Clearly he is the best to embody the late, great Ronald Reagan, but despite all the recent GOP praise over the iconic president it’s hard to say whether the Republican rank and file are ready to return to that style of leadership. Hate and derision have been the main tools of the tea party surge, and virtually every candidate has made sure that his or her patriotism is based on that.

Of course, President Obama will be overjoyed to see the newest potential challenger steal the spotlight. Perry will be clearly overmatched, and the luster will fade quickly for the current frontrunner.

Another factor with Big Bird is that he will be recognized as a strong proponent of education, and vilifying that vocation in his presence will be hard for anyone behind a podium. That exposes another danger the new candidate brings: logic. There is no greater diffuser of disjointed rhetoric. If logic catches on, most of what the other eight say will have the staying power of dandelions before a fire hose. Although the GOP base, particularly in tea party circles, may be scared or unsettled by proven logic, it could be an unforeseen weapon if presented by the right candidate. Imagine the befuddlement of Rove and Luntz if logic would become something that the current brood of candidates must instill within their talking points.

Next week the GOP will know that there’s a new sheriff in town, and their days of playing loose with the truth will be numbered. And the new guy has no weak spots. Without genitalia, there can be none of the traditional Republican illicit cavorting to expose. There are no embarrassing clips of unpopular positions on issues to highlight in TV ads. Their only hope is to best him on stage and only Romney and Paul have the tools to do that. But they can’t be too harsh on him, because all the big guy has to do is let his big feathered head drop to his chest like a sad puppy and he’ll add the sympathy vote to his skyrocketing popularity.

Rest assured, the GOP frontrunners won’t take this new rival lightly. Still, there are rumors of yet another candidate in the wings, being readied for political battle by the big-oil Koch brothers if they see their influence compromised. Although there may be a potential problem with questions of his citizenship, the billionaires are ready to throw the Tasmanian Devil’s hat into the ring. And that’s a good place for it, because he could never keep it on his head anyway. Taz has the perfect demeanor and decorum for today’s Republican party, because rabidity is so en vogue. Although the Koch brothers have their tentacles on most of the field already, if Big Bird makes as big a splash as they fear, Taz will be their ace in the hole.

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