There’s so much going on in American politics these days that it’s not “my cup runneth over” so much as: “go get more cups.”
Three stories have raised to the level of extra scrutiny this week. And let’s set aside Donald Trump’s psychotic abortion tongue-wagging because I don’t want to give them any extra oxygen they don’t deserve.
Cruz Control: Trying to manage the story
Rumors of affairs have been swirling around Ted Cruz for weeks if not months now. That anyone would want to be in the same room with him naked is beyond me. But I digress: even though the National Enquirer has broken legitimate stories—just ask John Edwards—they published an infidelity-bonanza centerfold with a former Trump operative as the main story source.
Cruz has called the story “garbage” and dismissed it outright, without really addressing the specific charges. But here’s where the shit gets real: back in June 2015, a mysterious payment of $500,000 went from a SuperPAC supporting Cruz to a PAC supporting Carly Fiorina. I’ll let Money Morning pick it up from here:
Controversy behind the donation resurfaced after Cruz’s recent affair allegations by the National Enquirer. Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur Flores is one of the alleged mistresses in the supposed sex scandal.
The transfer of that type of scratch between SuperPACs is fishy beyond all reason—and it’s too simplistic to assert that the money was paid to collude together to defeat trump (which also would be illegal). This story is not over, and I’m waiting for some investigative journalism to uncover what really happened with that money transfer. Hush money? Collusion? Payment to Cruz to keep his dick in his pants? I’d pay for that.
Dealing a Veto: Governor Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) Nixes RFA Bill
I prefer to call these bills “Religious Oppression Legislation,” but whatever: it’s all terrible. Giving people an open-ended license to discriminate is not the pride of a free country. Which is why adding “Freedom” to the names of these bills is the biggest bunch of reverse-psychology crap you can imagine.
All props to Governor Deal, however. His speech was actually quite elegant, pragmatic and deferential:
You’ve heard the saying, “two sides to every story.” In the case of HB757, there are two sides of the same story. The veto, of course, is the first.
RELATED: SEE HOW HOLLYWOOD HELPED DEFEAT HB757—BY JIM FARMER
The other and far more important side: the hypocrisy of the neo-Christian right and the battle against government tyranny. They say, in short, that they don’t want the federal government—an external entity that isn’t the Bible—telling them whom they can and cannot serve at the bake shop, or photography studio or whatever. They want that entity not to force them to violate their interpretations of Jesus’ teachings.
Let’s set aside that the same people are using government to achieve the goal of rebutting government action. “Religious Freedom” legislation is the result of the exhaustive, relentless work of external “bill mills,” which author legislation and the spoon-feed it to lawmakers at special events—sometimes on Capitol grounds.
Some political analysts say that the “wave” is not originating with voters, but rather conservative “bill mills” that finance state legislators to attend educational conferences that may provide both unified ideas and prefabricated bills to take home. Specifically, they see The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as the primary driver of conservative state laws.
You see where I’m going with this: an external body of unelected dinguses are writing laws that are directly injected in to the government bloodstream. With all props to local-Atlanta station 11 Alive, this report gives you a rare, investigative glimpse of the entirely sketchy dealings:
Bringing this back down to a bottom line: don’t bemoan external tyranny and then enlist external tyranny to screw the rest of us. If you are part of that hypocrisy, sit the fuck down. If you elect a politician to represent you, you’re making the statement that the person is already seasoned, smart and nimble when it comes to lawmaking, or serving you. ALEC operates on the presumption that politicians are empty suits who need to be told how to legislate. Some of them are, but voters should know better.
RELATED: ALEC EXPOSED IS A MUST WEBSITE TO GET EDUCATED
In CrankyYank Vol. 5, I reported on the Friends “reunion” in celebration of director James Burroughs. I put “reunion” in quotes because it wasn’t a scripted, return-of-the-characters hour special. The glitzy jamboree was mostly a snoozefest with disjointed cutaways and softball questions from Andy Cohen. Not a single query about when they might reunite for real, which—if I had been in Andy’s seat—would’ve been my first question.
Any future scripted Friends gathering would probably break every ratings record for reunion shows. Adam Sternbergh lays out why beautifully and exhaustively at Vulture.com, reporting that reruns garner 16 million weekly viewers and have created brand-new viewers from a new generation of young people. (The series is streaming on Netflix, which could account for new Millennial viewership.)
Showrunner Marta Kauffman says she’s “blown away” by the lasting effect the show has had on the zeitgeist, and how reruns might feel like a Warm Calgon Bath in the context of today’s anxieties.
‘Post-9/11, the show became more popular,’ says Kauffman. ‘And I think part of the reason is because it was optimistic. And certainly, with what’s going on politically right now, this can feel like a darker time.’
Make sure to click over to the Vulture piece, and stay tuned to CY for any news on a future reunion show. It’s gonna happen.
We lost Garry Shandling this week, and I threw up a post to celebrate his life. Garry Shandling: Giant Among Jokesters talks about how he went to great lengths to help his fellow comedians. A huge loss. (read more)
While Family Guy is Seth MacFarlane’s first breakthrough animated series, it’s actually the successor, American Dad, which has this guy obsessed. Launched after Family Guy and in the same vein—but without incessant cutaways, suspended reality and random nonsense—Dad is actually far more inventive a series than it gets credit for. Peppered with pop-culture references, daring storytelling and totally inappropriate, LOL moments, American Dad is the greatest animated series of its time.
In “Blood Crieth Unto Heaven,” the show honors and lampoons the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County. Click over to Reddit to see what folks are saying about the episode. (I can’t post a preview because it’s all on paid-lockdown.)
In “Widowmaker,” the traditional fourth wall of the scene is broken down to award Roger on his 1,000th vagina joke, showing a crew taking a break to congratulate Roger the actor, not Roger the character. Small bit but super inventive.
In “Tearjerker,” Dad sends up James Bond and 007 in one of the series’ finest moments. (The second in that series, Black Villan, was not as successful.) The characters slot in as 007 characters perfectly, with Roger as a deliciously insecure villan.
Peppered with pop-culture references, daring storytelling and totally inappropriate, LOL moments, American Dad is the greatest animated series of its time.
And while American Dad has lost some of its mojo by shifting its format (the series, now on TBS, starts with a cold open and has more vignette-y moments rather than adventurous story arcs), the series just marked its 200th episode in a return to storytelling greatness. From Variety:
For “The Two Hundred,” “American Dad” ventures from its usual contemporary stories for an episode set in a post-apocalyptic future when a heavily tattooed Stan is trying to find his family while survivors fear a dreaded gang known as “the 200.” Weitzman says an aspect of the episode — Stan’s tattoos — was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man,” which features a former carnival freak show denizen whose animated tattoos each tell a different story.
This is the little cartoon that could, and is still Must See TV in my household, including reruns. One more note: American Dad features at least three actors who are also accomplished singers: Scott Grimes, ER veteran and voice of Steve; Seth MacFarlane, voice of multiple characters, out last year with “No One Ever Tells You“; and Seth’s sister Rachael, who voices Hailey Smith and other characters. The Jazz Gene seems to run through the MacFarlane family.
A compilation of Roger’s most inappropriate moments:
“Be yourself… everyone else is taken.” Sam Kalidi and Margaret Cho: I ❤️ you both for the warm Calgon Bath that this video is above… HBO’s deal with Jon Stewart—initially expected in early 2016—has been reportedly pushed back to the 2nd half of this year… Personal spirit animal Keith Olbermann has vowed to come out of retirement for Election 2016 “in any way I can,” and sat down with a former ESPN rival for a podcast interview… happy 40th birthday to Apple—the computer company still giving me fits all these years later.
That’s it from me Cranker Darlings. We’ll see you right back here next Thursday at 2.
Will Pollock is a crabby New York City escapee living in Atlanta. He’s a freelance multimedia journalist and author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—and check out the book links below.
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