by John Walters

Starting Five

1. What The Health?

So this tweet storm from my new best friends at AARP is a little scary…









Yesterday I was out on a run (it was the most sublime day of the year here in NYC) in Central Park, my own cheap form of preventive health care, and I had an epiphany about the prism with which Republicans such as Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan see health care. Tell me what you think:

Let’s imagine the USA as a giant corporation. Now, in massive corporations it is possible to streamline the business by laying off employees. In the USA (or in any nation) that happens via death, which is a very non-discriminating form of termination. It happens to men and women alike, people of all faiths and colors and sexual orientations. Death is very helpful to the bottom line of USA Corp.

Here’s where it becomes sticky. Imagine if you were to tell a company that it doesn’t have to lay off workers, but in order to do so upper management and the top earners at that company are going to have to contribute more from their paychecks. Well, that wouldn’t go over very well, now would it? So, to me, this is exactly how a Mitch McConnell or a Paul Ryan views health care: sure, we could save or extend more lives if we made health care more affordable to the bottom 50% of the country, but what is the upside to that for USA Corp? We’re actually a more streamlined nation without them.

You may think of that as evil. Really, though, it is just natural selection on a grander scale. 

2. Fatal Retraction

Three prominent print journalists (forgive the oxymoron) at CNN—reporter Thomas Frank; executive editor in charge of investigations Lex Haris; and investigative editor and reporter Eric Lichtblau—resigned on Monday after CNN pulled and retracted a story they worked on last week. In the piece, the trio drew a connection between hedge-fund manager Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump ally, and a Russian investment fund reportedly being investigated by the Senate.

Haris had been with CNN since 2001. Lichtblau was just hired away from the New York Times in April. Clearly CNN is more than a little hypersensitive about being labeled “Fake News,” particularly when the accusation may be correct. To be clear, it’s not that the story has proven to be false, according to CNN. It simply, at this time, has not proven to be accurate.

As Will McAvoy and Charlie Skinner would attest, the story never passed the red team test. This is a bad look for CNN top guy Jeff Zucker.

3. Penis de Milo?*

*The judges will also accept “Mein Shaft” even though that’s a German pun, not a Norwegian one. 

In Norway, a famous rock formation south of Stavanger known as Trollpikken, which resembles an erect penis, was cut off over the weekend. Police have no suspects but are rounding up area rabbis.

Meanwhile, locals have already raised thousands of dollars and the plan is to put Trollpikken back in place, or res-erect it, using reinforced rods and bolts. In other words, after a reasonable dormant period (it is pretty old, after all), Trollpikken will return to its erect state.

4. Miller’s Out Post

When we last saw everyone’s favorite lovable tech a-hole, Erlich Bachman, who runs the incubator out of which Pied Piper runs in HBO’s Silicon Valley, he was lit up on opium in a hut along the Silk Road. And that’s the last we will see of T.J. Miller on the show.

Miller and Silicon Valley announced a parting of the ways last week after four seasons, but because Miller is not that far removed from the self-absorbed and mildly deluded character he plays, he gave a candid exit interview to The Hollywood Reporter.  “I just thought that what the show has suffered from, what’s bad about it, is that Richard [Thomas Middleditch] is the CEO and then he isn’t but then he finds his way back to be CEO,” said Miller, “and then once he finds his way back to being the CEO he says he doesn’t want to be the CEO, and it’s just the same thing over and over.”

He’s right, you know. It’s classic Gilligan’s Island or even Seinfeld. They’re always coming back to the lagoon or the coffee shop and starting over from scratch. Does that make it less of a show? Your call.

5. Daily Harrumph: The McEnroe-Serena Non-troversy

What’s the deal here? Yesterday John McEnroe, promoting a book whose title is his catchphrase but in light of what would happen is particularly ironic, You Cannot Be Serious, was interviewed on NPR by Lulu Garcia-Navarro. Here’s the transcript of the part that raised everyone’s cackles:

Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.

Garcia-Navarro: You think so?

McEnroe: Yeah. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke ’cause she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.

Let’s not forget that only a sentence or two earlier McEnroe called Serena the greatest female tennis player ever

McEnroe has seen and played and knows way more about tennis than myself or anyone reading this. Yes, “like 700” seems plenty low, but I’m not certain why we need to haggle over the number. Wasn’t the dumber part of this interview the fact that Garcia-Navarro would be so willfully obtuse as to wonder why McEnroe did not consider Serena the greatest tennis player, period? Diana Taurasi may be the best women’s basketball player of all time (or you can name someone else), but could she make an NBA club? Not on pure merit.

Music 101

Hello, Goodbye

The Beatles were so talented touched by God that they could just fart out pop song perfection. This tune is from, by most accounts (not mine), their second-best album of 1967, Magical Mystery Tour. If you only had one song to explain the genius and simplicity of John, Paul, George and Ringo, this would get my vote. Released in November of 1967, the song hit No. 1 in eight different countries, including the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

A Word, Please

Sagacity (noun)


8 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. “Natural selection”? Please. YOU of all people equating the INTENTIONAL killing off of millions of people to “natural selection”? Have you not ranted about the killing of animals by “unnatural” forces – i.e. humans with guns? By making health care &/or insurance financially impossible (or at least unbearable for long) for the AVERAGE American, it’s the same damn thing as putting GUNS in the politicians’ filthy/greedy hands.

    Unless The Sociopath & his Neo-Nazi henchmen are removed from power soon AND the party that ‘spawned’ them neutered (hahahaha), a civil war will envelop this nation. If we aren’t taken over by the g-damn Russians 1st. Of course, with the ‘Manchurian Candidate’ already occupying the WH, that may already be in play…

  2. Susie B,

    There is no ethics or morality or “humanity” involved here. Natural Selection, as I understand it, is “survival of the fittest.” This is exactly what the GOP is espousing. And part of “fittest” is financially fittest. They are not “killing off” anyone. They are choosing not to invest in saving them. You may find that abhorrent, that’s fine. But it is pure Natural Selection.

    • So, if a human shoots an animal with a gun, he/she is “more fit” & thus deserves to live while the animal does not? I thought you found that abhorrent? My point is that by dragging the financial element into the equation, it is no longer “natural”. It is corrupted. It is the very definition of “unnatural”.

  3. I heard the short version of McEnroe’s comment last night while driving home & I thought ‘geeze, why did he have to say THAT’? Then I heard more of the interview on Mike & Mike this morning & that interviewer GOADED him into that answer. I’ve watched men’s & women’s sports for damn near ALL my life & I love both. I also recognize that FEMALE athletes have made far greater strides in the past 4 decades basically because we had so far to catch up after being denied opportunity for so long. (Just look at swimming world records the past 70 years & you quickly see women’s times have dropped far more dramatically). However, I am under no illusion that in the sports where strength & speed are the determining factors, can the ‘best’ woman usually beat the ‘best’ man. And SO WHAT? It’s great to watch & celebrate both. And which is WHY the sexes should compete separately in those sports & is also why I have a problem with Caster Semenya & the Rio Olympic 800 silver medalist (can’t remember the name). Through no “fault” of their own, these individuals are not truly ‘female’ & should not be allowed to race against them. I’ve read the pros & cons of this issue for 7-9 years & pondered it for even longer & the bottom line is that it is MORE UNFAIR to allow them to compete than not. I laugh when I read that the “problem” is that “we” are judging those individuals with “western body expectations” & that they don’t comply. Bullshit. Just like some of those 2008 Olympic female Chinese gymnasts were really “16”. HAH! Both the male & female body vary in size & proportion but if genetics, hormones &/or physical attributes don’t define one sex from the other, what the heck does? Does this mean their civil rights should be denied? Of course not, it should only limit their physical competitions. Is this unfair? If someone is born with 5-10 times the testosterone than other females, is it ok she compete against other females in contests of strength or speed? If Lindsey Vonn can be denied competing against male skiers in the World Cup, then why can’t the ‘super-T’ females be denied competing against other “normal-range” women?

    BTW, I watched much of the USA Track & Field Championships (yeah Jenny & Emma!) & did you notice that Kate Grace is now competing in the 1500 & NOT the 800. Can you blame her?

  4. Total straw man. If a human shoots an animal for food, it is not evil (though we don’t really need to). Second, the animal’s existence in no way threatens or compromises ours.

    Whereas health care is about wealthy not wanting to allocate their resources (wealth) to help with health care of poor. That does compromise their wealth/resources. You are smarter than this. Usually.

  5. I’d like to reiterate that I am neither supporting nor dissenting. I am trying to explain how I think their minds are working on this.

    Does everyone deserve health care? To what degree? At what expense? As a nation, I don’t think it is our job to exhaust all other resources just to do anything and everything to keep people alive. All you get is a lifetime guarantee. Make the most of it.

    • You’re not “supporting or dissenting” the GOP WEALTHCARE PLAN? If such a heinous plan is actually shoved into place, you better hope you stop aging. Under Obamacare, a 64 yr old retiree or self-employed with a yearly income of around $56,000 apparently has to pay around $6800/year for health insurance until Medicare kicks in. Under the DEATH PLAN, the person would have to pay almost $21,000! Impossible for most of that demographic! No other “1st world” country demands their citizens pay such extortionate rates for health CARE let alone insurance.

      I think our entire medical system/industry needs to be completely overhauled & I believe ‘universal healthcare’ should be more of a ‘right’ than free education (although I believe in that too). I do agree that someone(s) need to make the hard choices of what gets covered & when the expense is deemed too untenable. Technology & other medical advances have allowed the continuation of life but at huge costs. Can or should that be covered under the ‘basic coverage’ or only if you can pay the extra yourself? It seems these days that a 2-3 month (i.e. 6-7 months premature!) newborn can actually survive if in ICU & then regular hospital care for many months. I cannot even imagine that cost – surely in the millions. And of course, there is the cost at the “back end” of life, where 85-100 year olds that are afflicted with disease that they can not survive, are kept alive for years at huge cost. The problem is WHO would you allow to make those coverage choices? Certainly not the Neo-Nazis or those that stand to PROFIT from either the care itself or its elimination.

      You have always seemed to be very fit, a man who puts effort into being & staying healthy. You exercise & I assume “eat right”. And g-damn it, why should YOU have to pay for all those ‘fat lazy slobs’ when they need heart surgeries or diabetes drugs. Am I right? Well, appearances to the contrary, ALL human bodies have frailties. Some are just more noticeable to the human eye. Isn’t the humane thing to cover ALL, whether they are genetically blessed or cursed?

      But hey, up until a few years ago, I didn’t even know that Medicare didn’t “pay for everything”, so I’m hardly the expert on national health costs. But one thing I DO know – if such a draconian ‘health’ care plan followed by even MORE tax cuts for the super wealthy actually pass, it will be just two more steps towards the eventual & inevitable civil war in this country.

  6. Susie B.

    Enjoying our debate.
    To return to yesterday, this is how I THINK the GOP thinks. Living/dying is just another system for arbitrage.

    Anyway, the “why should YOU have to pay for all those ‘lazy fat slobs'” argument is overly simplistic and designed to cast me as lacking in compassion. Why does the govt. need to subsidize couples who want to pay for expensive fertility treatments to have a child? And why are we paying for people who day in and day out make poor health choices and will continue to do so after their tummy tuck surgery, etc? I’ve got no problem saying that.

    There’s a difference between being genetically cursed and choosing to eat at McDonald’s and Burger King 5 times a week.

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