We’ve got a long way to go, baby


Last week Johnnie Walker Black Label, the scotch company, introduced “The Jane Walker Edition” in an effort to persuade women to drink more scotch and

…to coincide with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day celebrations. In a multi-faceted attempt to support women in business, culture and politics, the company will donate $1 for each bottle produced to nonprofit campaigns like Monumental Women…

The ad campaign features a female version of the Johnnie Walker “striding man” logo and the slogan “With every step, we all move forward.” It’s like the campaign for Virginia Slims, a cigarette brand that appeared in 1968 and used the slogan “You’ve come a long way, baby” to persuade women to take up the smoking habit.

Here’s how far you’ve come, baby: You’re still being condescended to by con men who will voice support for just about any cause that might increase their bottom-line profits.

And here’s how far we’ve all come: We’re still being duped into accepting it’s perfectly normal to bow down to corporations that have perfected the art of convincing us to buy stuff we don’t need at prices few of us can really afford.

The Jane Walker phenomenon is not about promoting “gender equality.” It’s about teaching women to be good consumers and to endorse a corporate culture in which CEOs make about 350 times more money than the average worker, a disparity that no other country comes close to matching.

So drink up, boys and girls. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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WP: Arctic warmth is ‘stunning’ scientists


Swamp Rabbit and I stopped for an overnight at a motel midway through a sales trip in upstate PA – Trump country. Some cadaver in camo gear checked us in and said there would be no meals until 7 a.m., so we settled for pork rinds and coffee from the vending machines. The coffee was rotgut, so we added sugar and a powdered milk substitute made of mercury or something.

We sat on a couch in the lobby, not far from a paneled wall hung with an elk head looking down on us with black marble eyes, very judgmental. Its jumbo antlers seemed to reach for me.

Swamp Rabbit told me hunters were less of a threat to wild things these days than human-made toxins, that scientists were finding tiny bits of plastic on polar ice, thousands of bits every square foot.

Not that there was much ice left at the North Pole, as the Washington Post noted yesterday. Swamp Rabbit pulled out his phone and showed me a picture of a polar bear standing on a small slab of it, surrounded by a thawing-out sea.

“I feel like that bear,” I said.

He threw a pork rind at me. “How you know how that bear feels? I don’t know how he feels.”

I told him all the bear wanted was a decent meal and a safe place to hang out, but there it was in the middle of nowhere, on a surface that becomes more fragile by the day, thanks in part to guys like Trump’s boy Scott Pruitt, the climate-change denier who heads the Environmental Protection Agency.

Swamp Rabbit said, “You’ll feel better once we’re out of Trump country. Even better when Trump and his gang get kicked out of office.”

“That’s the problem,” I replied. “Climate change is happening now. By the time Trump gets kicked out, the whole world might be Trump country.”

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Trump’s plan to stop school shootings

Donald Trump thinks real life is a reality TV show, or an old cowboy movie. To counter the threat of more mass shootings in schools, he wants to issue guns to 20 percent of schoolteachers in America. The movie version of his idea should star Clint Eastwood as an octogenarian teacher:

Young wacko enters schoolroom toting a semi-automatic rifle. A teacher confronts him. The wacko squares off with the teacher while students hide under their desks.

WACKO (Smiling) This school ain’t big enough for the both of us, old man.
TEACHER (Smiling) Feelin’ lucky, punk? You better git while the gittin’s good.

Wacko raises rifle and aims. Teacher whips out concealed handgun and shoots wacko dead before he can kill any students. Skinny student emerges from under desk.

STUDENT (Shouting) You killed him, Mr. Dirty Harry! You shot him with your gun!
TEACHER: (Whispering) I did, Johnny. You run along now and tell the principal the showdown is over. The rest of you boys and girls can go home now. Tomorrow I’ll get back to learnin’ you how to read and write.

Patriotic music swells. Credits roll. Teacher slips gun into concealed holster and puts on cowboy hat.

Setting sun faces teacher as he strolls out of school and into parking lot, casting a long shadow.

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‘Your people I do not understand’

On Sunday night the Eagles won their first Super Bowl and there was joy in Mudville, a.k.a. South Philly. I could hear the revelers from my bedroom window, hooting and honking car horns, breaking glass, rejoicing. Reminding the world that that being a sports fan is like being a religious fanatic, but more fun because you can get drunk.

I went outdoors and saw cars gridlocked from Passyunk Avenue to Broad Street. Fans waved Eagles flags, climbed light poles, set fires, sang “Fly, Eagles, fly.” Was the war over or just beginning?

I’ve read that some fans attached symbolic meaning to the victory of the “working-class” Eagles over the “elitist” New England Patriots, which is funny. Both teams field millionaire players, and their owners are in the plutocrat gang that banished quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a favorite target of Donald Trump, for the crime of calling attention to racism and other real-world phenomena.

I like watching great athletes play football, but I confess to being tone-deaf to the allure of football culture. The NFL is not my friend. Teams get tremendous tax breaks from the cities that host them. NFL players hardly ever grow up in the cities they play for. They are gladiators, not homeys.

Speaking of tone-deaf, what was all that half-time noise about? Justin Timberlake is a talented guy, but his songs are about nothing. They are product. He is product.

Long ago, seven months before the first Super Bowl, there was a Jimi Hendrix song called “Third Stone from the Sun,” in which an alien checks out Earth from his spaceship. “Your people I do not understand,” he intones over guitar feedback and other effects.

I don’t understand them either, and I’m supposed to be one of them. Beam me up, Jimi.

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Trump’s defense: A house is not a hole

Leave it to the worst U.S. president in history to bring the office down a few more notches by making this remark at a meeting about immigration last week: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

The Washington Post reported the quotation, and that was that for a day or so, until it dawned on the dummy-in-chief that people outside his base thought his remark was despicable.

So then, of course, he tweeted “…this was not the language used at the meeting.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who was present at the meeting, rebuked Trump for his denial and added that the “shithole” remark was in keeping with the rest of what Trump had said to those in attendance: “He said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.” And Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, also at the meeting, more-or-less went along with the Post’s account.

But then, incredibly, Trump attempted to turn the shitstorm in his favor by trotting out two Republican lackeys — Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, both at the meeting — who reportedly said that our fearless leader had said “shithouse” countries, not “shithole” countries.

Scholars took note. The leader of the free world might have said “shithouse” instead of “shithole.” Untold millions had begun to wonder if Trump harbored cruel, racist feelings about poor, non-white peoples and was stupid enough to voice those feelings in front of congressional leaders at a meeting about immigration.

Thank God he cleared that up!

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A big victory for vile but discreet

Last week, after Roy Moore lost the race for a Senate seat in Alabama, I wrote “Old-guard Senate Republicans don’t like over-the-top vile. They like guys who are vile but discreet.”

In other words, they prefer colleagues who are like themselves. But there’s always room under their tent for guys like Moore and Donald Trump, faux-populists who convince low-information voters (gotta love the euphemism!) that the GOP is more than just the party of the rich.

But that’s exactly what the GOP is. Congressional Republicans invariably push for legislation like the newly passed tax bill, which is nothing but a huge giveaway to the corporations and individuals that fund their campaigns and set their agendas.

Vile but discreet Republicans — the McConnells and Grassleys and Cornyns and so on — don’t grab pussies or wave pistols or publicly dismiss Mexicans as criminals. They pretend to be appalled by the antics of their overtly vile colleagues. They pretend to serve both rich and poor constituents, and to worry about the federal deficit.

Some of them — the pipsqueak Bob Corker comes to mind — even pretended to doubt the wisdom of the new tax bill before adjustments were made to ensure the bill would benefit them personally.

In the end, all the Republicans in the Senate and all but twelve in the House voted yes to the bill, because it will further enrich their masters and themselves.

Maybe passage of the tax bill will wake Democrats to their great opportunity to retake both houses of Congress next year in the midterms. But don’t bet on it too early — Dems are experts at blowing opportunities.

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Why Comcast sucks, in case you need a reminder

The Swamp Rabbit and I were weatherproofing his new shack in Tinicum Swamp and discussing the repeal of net neutrality rules. There is no end to a plutocrat’s money lust, I said, or to an oligarch’s lust for power.

“What’s the difference between a pluto-cat and an oligarch?” Swamp Rabbit said.

I had to think about that. “A plutocrat is a rich businessperson who is obsessed with becoming even richer,” I said. “An oligarch is one of a small gang of people who control the government. You can be a oligarch without being a plutocrat, but oligarchs these days are almost always plutocrats.”

Swamp Rabbit drove a nail into a crossbeam and said, “You mean like Brian Roberts, the CEO of Comcast? How much you think him and his pluto-cat friends spent on killing net neutrality?”

Good question. Comcast runs an empire of media outlets and has spent multi-millions on lobbyists. Verizon and AT&T other mega-corporations have also spent huge amounts. I said, “I’m not sure, but you can bet your scrawny rabbit ass that a lot of their lobbying money came from overcharging cable customers.”

You have to be persistent to become an oligarch, I explained. Comcast lobbied extra-hard to deep-six net neutrality rules installed in 2015, when Obama was president. Their efforts paid off bigly after Trump got elected and appointed Republican and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai to chair the FCC.

“Damn!” Swamp Rabbit said. “Now the pluto-cats can make us pay more for faster internet connections, and they can block websites they don’t like.”

He drank from a bottle of Wild Turkey and coughed for a minute. Then he said, “I get it that a gang of corporate scumbags owns the media. But shouldn’t the gov’mint be worried that scumbags have all that power?”

“That’s just it,” I replied. “The scumbags are the gov’mint. They’re oligarchs, remember? Pass me that bottle.”

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