IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Covid-19 19

After losing at Texas A&M last weekend in front of a somewhat well-occupied Kyle Field, Florida coach Dan Mullen yearned to “pack the Swamp” for this Saturday’s home game versus LSU. Then 19 Gators tested positive.

Now what? Life comes at you pretty fast. Only two weeks ago Mullen was talking about how he required a good bottle of wine from the Ol’ Ball Coach after putting up 640 offensive yards at Ole Miss. Now? Is the game canceled this Saturday?

From Anchorage To Athens

Here’s the type of tale just made for cable news: the 58 year-old mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, Ethan Berkowitz, has resigned after admitting to an “inappropriate relationship” with local TV reporter Maria Athens.

This is very messy. Athens was arrested for threatening Berkowitz and then she went online and said she was going to out him for posting nude photos on an underage website. Then Athens posted a pic of what is purported to be Berkowitz’s bare backside.

Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city. And Athens is it angriest citizen this week.

Home On Deranged

Our favorite TV personality, Ben Mankiewicz of TCM, launched a hashtag challenge last night of #ShittyWesterns with “The Researchers.” We came back with “The Man Who Shot Liberty Mutual.”

Then we checked out what others had conjured. Here goes: “The In-Law Josey Wales,” “Jeremiah’s Johnson,” “The Skidmark of Zorro,” “The Magnificent 7-11,” “Slap Fight at the O.K. Corral,” “Stagemom,” and “Support Your Local Sharif.”

Mankiewicz, by the way, will make a cameo in this year’s Simpsons Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episode.

What Ever Happened To Carol Wayne?

Last night we had occasion to recall the genius of Johnny Carson’s Art Fern character. That’s buxom actress Carol Wayne with him. Wayne was outstanding at playing the ditzy and oblivious sidekick.

So we wondered what ever happened to her. Turns out Wayne, just one year after this 1984 taping, died mysteriously at a beach resort in Mexico. She had had a loud argument with her male companion, Edward Durston, shortly after arrival. Oddly, Wayne’s body was found four days after she disappeared and three days after Durston departed. Funny that he didn’t stick around.

Durston, a used car salesman (really) and B-movie producer, was never charged in the death of Wayne—the coroner ruled it accidental. Nor was he charged in the death of Diane Linkletter (daughter of Art), 20, who fell to her death from the balcony of a 6-story building in L.A. Durston was with her and said he tried to grab her as she fell. Hmmm.

Durston also produced a 1970 horror fest called I Drink Your Blood, which was the first film to receive an X rating for violence.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Voter Suppression = Oppression

On the first day of early voting in some parts of Georgia, voters waited more than five hours to cast their ballots. In some parts.

In predominantly white and upper-class Buckhead, though, voters waited up to 15 minutes to cast their ballots.

Meanwhile in Texas, they’re suppressing votes by limiting counties to one mail-in voting box per county.

While in Virginia… I wonder if “accidentally” is an accurate term here.

Things that make you go hmmm….

One Flew Over The Cabbie’s Nest

(Lloyd, seated behind Nicholson)

Last week we watched One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest on Netflix. If you have not seen the 1975 film that stars Jack Nicholson, a reminder that it takes place (and was filmed at) in an Oregon mental hospital in which Randall P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) plays a sane criminal who gets himself dropped into a loony bin. His nemesis is Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) who controls the ward with passive-aggressive domination.

Three notes: 1) This was the first movie since It Happened One Night (1934) to do the five Oscar sweep: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay.

(Martini [Devito])

2) This was the first of three iconic films that were filmed in Oregon in the 1970s. The other two? Animal House and The Shining (which also starred Nicholson).

3) A savvy viewer of sitcoms will note that Danny Devito and Christopher Lloyd (his first film) play two of the patients in McMurphy’s sphere. And our first thought was, How cool that they would both go on to star in Taxi. And then we thought about it a little more and had the penultimate epiphany: Taxi is One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest!

Think about it: Mean-spirited dispatcher Louie DePalma stands protected behind a cage prodding and provoking the cabbies. His decisions affect their welfare. Alex Rieger (Judd Hirsch) is the sane McMurphy character dropped into the loony bin who spars often with Louie. The rest of the cast sits around and plays cards and some are highly mentally unbalanced: Latka, Reverend Jim (Lloyd) and Tony (Tony Danza), particularly.

Has anyone made this connection before?

Jim Brown Vs. Lester Maddox

We went down a YouTube wormhole late last night and found a 1970 episode of The Dick Cavett Show in which the guests were retired NFL superstar Jim Brown (I think some would now refer to him as a “social justice warrior”) and Georgia governor Lester Maddox. You must watch these clips.

Note how Brown keeps brushing at his pant leg as a way of maintaining his calm. It’s like a post-hypnotic suggestion. Note when Maddox basically originates the “All Lives Matter” rejoinder. Note how often Maddox interrupts both Brown and Cavett. Note how, in the first segment, Cavett recognizes that this is cracklin’ good television and lets the two combatants slug it out themselves, remaining silent for minutes on end.

Slayer Pete

He will be our president some day


If you recall back last winter, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was always our choice as the Democratic nominee. He was the smartest candidate, he had the most impressive resume (Harvard and an actual Rhodes Scholar, Ms. McEnany, plus a stint in the military… he volunteered) and he would have been the most confounding opponent for Donald Trump to debate.

In a profile story today, the Los Angeles Times refers to him as “Slayer Pete” and notes that he “walks softly and carries a sling blade.” Well done.

Last week we noted how Mayor Pete just destroyed Fox News hosts on two separate occasions. Here he is again, destroying the semi-informed on the topic of late-term abortions:

Burr-ning Down The House

I can’t remember the last time, if ever, that a Saturday Night Live host probably would have been better off just leaving 30 Rock after the monologue. There may not be a more palm-of-your-hands audience than the one that an SNL host meets, but somehow comedian Bill Burr managed to alienate most of them in seven short minutes. Wow.

Listen, if something is funny, I don’t care whom it offends. And some of this was funny. The months thing at the end, while not entirely original, is somewhat funny. But man, the verbal assault on white women… Wow. Listen for yourselves if you have not yet heard it.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Bo-Ring

Did the Lakers win the NBA championship, or did LeBron James? I’m sure Susie B. will have plenty to gush about in the comments, but we watched no more than two minutes of all six games of the NBA Finals. When the league’s flashiest franchise pulls in two of its top five players to form an insta-team, yes, we acknowledge their superiority, but it does not much fascinate us.

Two notes worth noting: 1) The Lakers were 57-0 this season when taking a lead into the fourth quarter. That’s more impressive than the championship. 2) Adam Silver pulled it off: the NBA not only got through The Bubble but did so without a single positive coronavirus test. Well done.

Spanish Bull Dozer

Another French Open, another Rafael Nadal grand slam title. This time Rafa defeated Novak Djokovic, making a nice recovery from his early U.S. Open exit, in straight sets.

If you’re snoring at home, Nadal has now won 13 of the past 16 French Open singles titles. He has won seven of the other three Grand Slams, total.

Nadal and Roger Federer are now in a dead heat for the most Grand Slam singles titles with 20. Djokovic, a few years younger, has won 17. Wait them out, Novak. Wait. Them. Out.

Hand Him The Theismann

Dallas Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott suffers a gruesome ankle injury in the Stars’ defeat of the winless New York Giants. It looked Theismann-esque but Joe’s was even more gruesome as it took place higher up on his leg. And yes, both injuries came against the New York Giants.

Worse for Prescott, he rejected a long-term contract in the summer and took the Cowboys’ franchise tag, essentially a one-year deal. He was betting on himself in free agency next offseason. Now his career may be over. We’ll see.

Fumble-Screwski

In Auburn, Arkansas gets hosed when the referees fail to recognize Tiger quarterback Bo Nix’s backward pass spike, a.k.a. fumble. The Tigers kick a game-winning field goal moments later.

Believing Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Raiders (“YEAH RAIDAS!”) become the first team to defeat the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, 40-32. In K.C.. The Raiders and Chiefs have a long and quite hostile history so this was nice to see. Does this mean Derek Carr gets his own State Farm commercial soon?

Elsewhere, the Bears and the Browns are 4-1. What is this world coming to?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Pete’s Draggin’ (Fox News)

With his signature student body sergeant-at-arms visage and choirboy face, Mayor Pete Buttigieg calmly trolled Fox News and MAGA not once but twice this week. Will they ever invite him back?

“Now Let’s Introduce Michigan’s Starting Offensive Line. At Right Tackle”

The FBI arrested 13 men, all from Michigan, who were allegedly plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. You can read more of the details here. Things to note:

  1. All were men
  2. All were white
  3. I’m guessing most were hirsute

The six original plotters reached out to a group of white supremacist militia who refer to themselves as “Wolverine Watchmen.” This is what happens when the Big Ten football season is delayed and hunting season has yet to begin.

By the way, what if they had succeeded? Who in the federal government (outside of the FBI) would have stepped in to stop this revolt? Would Trump have called in the National Guard?

The Big Fat Metaphor Staring Us All In The Face

Two news items that happened earlier this week that it took us a day or two to connect. Last weekend President Trump was administered steroids and as he has said a few times publicly since, he feels great. “Better than I did 20 years ago.”

Of course, every Sanjay Gupta you know has cautioned that steroid act as an anti-inflammatory. That is, they do nothing to cure the illness but only to mask its symptoms. At some point Donald Trump is going to need to be weaned off his steroid treatments (or, knowing him, not be weaned off and then he’ll develop other steroid-related symptoms that’ll be worse) and that fall will be precipitous.

Meanwhile, as the stock market continued to roar northward it was announced this week that the federal budget deficit reached an all-time high of $3 trillion. But hey, we’re preparing a second stimulus package so the economy must be good, right?

Masking the symptoms of the illness without actually treating the illness. The Trump presidency has been an administration on steroids: doing things that help or mask the fundamental problem in the short-term but really only putting off the inevitable. Chickens always come home to roost (which is yet another metaphor).

Which is why these Trump/steroids and boom economy/federal deficit threads are so perfect. It’s the same exact thing happening.

May The Fours Be With You

Even Tom Brady is not perfect. If you had Brady with the ball and down a point to the Chicago Bears and losing, you’re wiser than we are.

Of course, this sideline public chastising of teammates minutes before his gaffe does not look so good in retrospect:

Star, 80

Today would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday (and if you saw Yesterday you remember that very poignant scene near the end in which Lennon would have lived out his days by the sea, happy but in obscurity. Imagine…).

Often referred to as the true lyrical genius behind the Beatles’ music, Lennon is, and probably so, but I’d say that post-Beatles Paul and even George recorded better songs (at least for these ears). But here’s one we always liked, up above.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Bug’s Life

America was watching the vice-presidential debate and suddenly a new incarnation of The Ring broke out. Mr. Pence, please check your fly.

A Blessing From God

A few thoughts here:

  1. Area man owns stock in Regeneron.
  2. We do know someone who does not know the definition of “therapeutic.”
  3. It shouldn’t have taken your contracting Covid-19 to “get it,” but now is there a way you might possibly get pregnant?
  4. All the vaccines/shots are going to be free? Really? How’s that work?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Eddie Shredder

One of the true legendary guitarists of the rock era, Eddie Van Halen, passes at the age of 65. From lung cancer.

“Panama,” “Eruption,” “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Dreams” and even the guitar riff on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Eddie authored all of them and always with that impish grin. A virtuoso on the ax, sure, but that impish grin always reminded fans that the co-founder of Van Halen was having fun.

From Van Halen’s eponymous debut album, which opens with the band’s greatest song (“Runnin’ With The Devil”), and then leads into the above Eddie guitar solo masterpiece “Eruption,” there was little doubt that Eddie was as gifted a technician as any guitarist of his era. Prince and he were at a different level than everyone else. And then he went ahead and married his twin-from-another-mother, Valerie Bertinelli, and they had a son, Wolfgang.

(Fun, silly, and hard-rockin’: Van Halen)

Eddie and his brother Alex, the band’s drummer, were born in the Netherlands. We saw them play once, in early 1984, during their tour supporting the album of that name.

Donald Chump

Remember that guy who did not pay income taxes in 10 of 15 years since 2000, paid $750 the year he became president, and who just took a helicopter to and from a 3-day stay at a hospital the cost of which (the stay, the helicopter rides, the Secret Service detail, etc.) had to exceed $500K, easy? That guy?

Yeah, well he just told Americans who are desperately seeking a stimulus package to pound sand. President Donad Trump said he won’t even engage in negotiations until after the election. Trump’s reasoning, if you can call it that, is that he does not want to allow Nancy Pelosi and the Dems to waste a single second of Mitch McConnell’s time because he needs Mitch to fast-track Amy Covid Barrett to the Supreme Court so that she can help illegally give him a second term.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans (not this one) will struggle to pay bills and thousands of businesses will fail the next few weeks. The guy who never pays for anything is holding America’s tax dollars hostage and telling everyone, You’ll get it after I’m elected.

In short, he’s black-mailing America the way he did anyone who ever did business with him. And you rubes voted for him.

And Now A Few Words From The Most Inarticulate President of Your Lifetime—And You Were Alive For George W. Bush

We counted the word “dominate” three times in the 86 seconds during which Trump spoke here. It says a lot about his warped life perspective: You either dominate or you are dominated. Harmony? F*** that.

Also, there was the usual parade of ignorance and arrogance (“I may be immune, I dunno”) that accompanies any Trump talk of more than 30 seconds that has not been ghost-written for him by someone else. Speaking of which…

Coronavirus Infected With Stephen Miller

Poor coronavirus. Some of it is trapped inside the white supremacist walking corpse that is Stephen Miller. Pray for the coronavirus.

The Nearly Perfect Storm

If you combine their 6-0 postseason run that just ended with a WNBA championship with their regular season record, the Seattle Storm went 24-4 this season.

Now, consider that 24-4 record. In her final three seasons as a UConn Husky, Storm point guard Sue Bird lost four games total. In her four seasons as a Husky, Storm MVP Breanna Stewart lost five games.

This 24-4 season would have been the 2nd-worst season either Bird or Stewart ever suffered in Storrs (UConn went 29-5 Bird’s freshman year, which is slightly worse than 24-4 %-wise). From Storrs to Storm, these two have become legends.

In the first game of the Storm’s three-game sweep of the Las Vegas Aces, Bird had an incredible 16 assists while Stewie poured in 37 points. Two of the best all-time.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Inhale To The Chief

Before last week if you’d have told me that Donald Trump was about to rip off his mask I’d have finished your sentence with “and reveal it was Old Man Withers underneath?” (“And I’d have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you pesky kids!“).

(Tone-deaf and self-absorbed or, as we say about the Trump White House, “On message“)

We here at MH are overjoyed the president is back at the White House. Because he’s recovered? No, because now he can infect the other sycophants who are too blindly loyal to think for themselves. Forty years ago, cult worshippers drank the Kool-Aid. This time around, they’ll simply absorb the droplets.

Someone tweeted that the White House has now been responsible for more Covid-19 infections this month than Vietnam and a number of other countries. Make America Quarantine Again!

(Are you tired of all the winning yet?)

Finally, we spoke to two people yesterday who’ve been on Dexamethasone (or as one called it, “Deathamethasone”). Both said the same thing, essentially: it’ll make you feel like Superman AND the Incredible Hulk for a day or two. And then you’ll fall straight off a cliff: depression, anxiety, fatigue, anger.

Oh, we can’t wait for those moods to strike the Very Stable Genius.

I, Claudia

All we can advise is that you get yourself to Claudia Conways TikTok account and rummage through it. The 15 year-old daughter of Kellyanne Conway is raising the kind of hell that a young Angela Chase would’ve only dreamed of. Yesterday she sent out a note on social media laughing about the idea of the president feeling “better” and that all of those around him are battling just to get his condition to stable (genius).

Dolores O’Riordan Covers Fleetwood Mac

For no other reason than that we found this on YouTube last night. And no, we don’t know what’s going on with the “Dreams” challenge and we don’t much care. Although now that I think about it, the juice is cranberry, isn’t it? The Irish singer had an unforgettably haunting voice. We miss her and it.

A. Mann To Remember

That Aimee Mann* is quite the good sport. She apparently consented to this interview with comic Greg Benson, whose Yeshmin character is sort of a Yiddish Borat. Apparently, Mann had no idea the interview a la “Between Two Ferns” was a spoof when it began, but she plays along like a trooper. She never once invokes what should be her textbook mantra: “Save Me (from the ranks of the freaks).”

*We may have frequent Aimee Mann posts in the coming weeks. It’s a phase we’re going through. Take a walk, Helen Mirren.

Bob Gibson

Things happen in threes, no? So three of the best National League players from the mid-to-late Sixties to the early Seventies have all passed in the last month (all National Leaguers, mostly): Cy Young Award winner Tom Seaver, base-theft king Lou Brock and now the man many consider the fiercest starting pitcher of the past 60 years, Bob Gibson.

Of the three Hall of Famers, each was legend in his own way, but Gibson, who passed last weekend at the age of 84, might be the most iconic. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Gibson was also the National League MVP in 1968 when he put up unbelievable numbers for the live-ball ERA: a 1.12 ERA, with 268 strikeouts and 13 shutouts (each of which led baseball). He was baseball’s first unquestionably great African-American hurler who spent his entire career in the big leagues (unlike Satchel Paige, who only entered at the end of his brilliant career).

Of the top 41 single-season lowest Earned Run Averages in baseball history, only one was recorded after 1919. And that was by Gibson, in 1968 (and it ranks third overall). What more needs to be written?

It was because of Gibson, and because of this singularly indomitable season, that baseball lowered the mound to make it a little easier for the hitters. He was so dominant that it force them to change the game. Not even Koufax created that kind of a stir.

Gibson, like football legend Gale Sayers, who died last week, too, was born in Omaha, Nebraska (only seven years apart).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

In The Line Of Ire*

*The judges will also accept “Sunday Drive”

Say this much for the Donald Trump presidency: it is never boring.

Yesterday a 74 year-old Covid-19 patient was put in close proximity, in an enclosed space that is particularly well-sealed, with healthy Secret Service agents, in order that his ego be massaged. Wow.

Almost all of us know someone who either has been infected or is in a nursing home and here’s the ironclad rule: no physical contact or proximity to healthy people outside of health-care workers. The president flouted that on Sunday.

The last weeks of Trump’s presidency are a sad circus and it will only become more bizarre. Just pray that you are not one of those who become collateral damage.

Meanwhile, the president has made a video each of the past three days to assure his MAGAdopes that he’s fine, never once noting that 210,000 Americans who were also infected are not. Because they’re dead.

Super Spread Offense

Ironic that the Amy Covid Barrett announcement at the Rose Garden may turn out to be the super spreader event that puts the final nail into the coffin of the shameful Trump presidency. Well done, RBG. Well done.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins should resign. Or at least take a leave of absence. First, he attends the ceremony as a way of showing support for ACB. Fine. But the very man who leads the university that has suspended students for not wearing masks or congregating in large groups attends this event mask-less and assembles in a large group. What is that old gospel passage about how a servant cannot serve two masters?

Worse, after Jenkins tested positive for Covid-19, he crafted a lawyerly admission of “regret,” which is not the same as an apology. So he even got that wrong. There are two ways to apologize. “I’m sorry.” Full stop. Or, “I apologize.” Full stop.

Nothing else is acceptable. It’s that simple.

Jenkins couldn’t even get his apology right. And he purports to be the titular head of the nation’s foremost Catholic university, priding itself on ethics and morality. Sad!

Before Stephen Root, There Was Lionel Barrymore

(You can skip right to the 1:00 mark)

We were watching, for the very first time, You Can’t Take It With You on the TCM last week. It won Best Picture in 1938 and stars the impeccable Lionel Barrymore and Jimmy Stewart (you know them both from It’s A Wonderful Life, where Barrymore was the unscrupulous Trump of Bedford Falls, ol’ man Potter).

Watching the first few scenes, it struck us that in facial appearance and mannerisms Barrymore reminded us of someone. And then it hit us: he’s Stephen Root. Wow.

By the way, Barrymore fractured his hip twice and was actually confined mostly to a wheelchair or crutches, as were his characters and these two films and in the great Key Largo.

By the way, how hot was Jimmy Stewart in the late 1930s? After The Thin Man, You Can’t Take It With You, Destry Rides Again (the template for Blazing Saddles, minus the racial component), Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Shop Around The Corner and The Philadelphia Story. All within four years. Stewart’s career was interrupted by WW2, where he flew numerous missions across the English Channel, but had he not survived, he already had an audacious film catalog.

We Bought A Zoom

Six weeks ago, I was a Zoom neophyte and, as I am with most technology, deathly fearful (I’m somehwere between “learned to text” and “didn’t learn to Skype”). But then, via the patient tutelage of my good friend Tim Crothers and my niece, Kayleigh, and with the realization that there was no way of getting around using Zoom to teach class, I began to pick it up.

I’m a believer. As I was with Google and Twitter, I believe in Zoom. It’s not going away. It will basically eradicate the business trip. And it makes teaching so much easier, as I can invite a guest speaker from anywhere in the country or use the “Share Screen” option to teach via Google Slides. Love it!

I’m a believer, but am I an investor? For those old-fashioned folks who care about P/E ratios, here are the P/E’s of some well-known tech giants (remember, the lower the ratio, the better the value: Google (32:1), Apple (34:1), Netflix (89:1) and Amazon (120:1).

Then there’s Zoom: 685:1.

Not great, Bob. And yet Tesla’s P/E is an insane 1,067:1. Then again, Tesla is up nearly 800% in the past year. So if you went all in on Tesla a year ago on the hype and ignored the fundamentals, you’re pretty happy with you decision.

I have no doubt Zoom will continue to grow (I honestly don’t understand how Zoom makes money, as it’s a free app). I’m not sure the stock price will grow along with it, but look what happened with Tesla.

By the way, is there a company that will buy Zoom? Apple? Amazon? Microsoft? Facebook?

In North Dakota, A Rolling Stones Song?

Wild horses actually do exist in the United States. Here, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, herds of feral equines (as well as antelope and bison) roam free. No one ever talks about visiting this national park, but we may need to put it on our list. Now, if only there were an American national park that had hippos. We’d be all over that.

AT HIS CORE, TRUMP IS AN IMMORALIST

by David Brooks

I’m reprinting this from The New York Times WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION and I hope they do not mind too much. It’s simply excellent and I’ve bolded the part that really hit home for me. There are a few people about whom I care very much and I just have never been able to put into words why such decent people can blindly worship Donald Trump. Brooks explains it here as well as anyone I’ve seen. Maybe they will read this. Maybe they will have a moment of awakening. Maybe not. But here goes…

So far, the 21st century has been a century of menace and insecurity. The threats have come in rapid succession: terrorism, financial collapse, plague, climate change, the quaking of our democracy. For good reasons, a tone of heightened alarm has become the default setting across the media.

People on the right and the left see threats coming from different places. In his new book, “The Securitarian Personality,” the political scientist John R. Hibbing argues that people on the right tend to react to threats coming from outside America, while people on the left see threats coming from the powerful financial and political spheres inside America.

Hibbing’s book, based on reporting, focus groups and surveys, is an attempt to understand what motivates the most enthusiastic Trump supporters. The most ardent ones, he notes, are not economically marginalized, not submissive, not authoritarian, not religious or conventionally conservative. They have a strong concept that there is a core America, a concept which I suppose you could summarize as white, rural, John Wayne, football and hunting.

They feel that core America is under existential threat from people they view as outsiders: immigrants, Chinese communists, cosmopolitan urbanites and people of color. They see themselves as strong and vigilant protectors, defending the sacred homeland from alien menace.

People who feel themselves under threat have a high tolerance for cruelty in their leaders: A little savagery to defend the homeland might be a good thing. But the crucial thing about Donald Trump is that he is not a nationalist who uses immoral means. He is first and foremost an immoralist, whose very being was defined by dishonesty, cruelty, betrayal and cheating long before he put on political garb.

In this presidential campaign, Trump’s nationalist platform — trade, immigration — has faded into the background while his immoral nature has taken center stage. Compared to 2016, it’s more pure Trump and less Pat Buchanan.

The key events of the campaign have been moral events: Trump reportedly calling military veterans and the war dead suckers and losers; Trump downplaying a deadly pandemic to the American people; Trump failing to pay fair taxes; Trump sidling up to white supremacists, resorting to racist and QAnon dog whistles.

The debate was an important moment. You and I can give sermons about how cruel, dishonest behavior shreds the norms of a decent society. But moral degradation is an invisible process. It happens subtly over time.

During Tuesday night’s debate, by contrast, people got to see, in real time, how Trump’s vicious behavior destroyed an American institution, the presidential debate. They got to see how his savagery made ordinary human conversation impossible. Debate watchers were confronted with a core truth: What Trump did to that debate Tuesday night is what he’ll do to America in a second term.

On Tuesday we got see that immorality isn’t just a vague thing people talk about in Sunday school. It is a Howitzer that blows through walls and leaves rubble. It is an attempt to serve yourself by breaking things and making other people suffer.

Biden should continue to talk about his economic recovery and pandemic control plans and all that stuff, but this election has devolved to certain key questions: Does America still have a moral core, a basic framework that makes this a decent place to live? Will we let Trump and his felons drag us to moral chaos?

As a temperament and philosophy, conservatism has one central premise: Humans are fallen beings, and the crust of civilization is thin. We are able to live sweetly because over centuries we have constructed a moral and social order, which is fragile and requires constant tending.

With his conduct, Trump assaults this core conservative instinct. He is separating the nationalists from some temperamental conservatives. The nationalists relish Trump’s disruption, his savagery. Some everyday conservatives — homeowners, parents, shopkeepers — feel in their bones that some new danger is afoot.

You can see this separation in the polls. Fourteen percent of Trump’s 2016 battleground state supporters are not sure they will support him again. Only 16 percent of white evangelicals supported Hillary Clinton in 2016; 28 percent now support Joe Biden, according to an August Fox News poll.

In 2016, Trump won noncollege-educated white women in Wisconsin by 16 percentage points. Now he is losing them by 9 points. In 2016 Trump tied Clinton among college educated whites in Pennsylvania. Now they are going for Biden, 61 percent to 38 percent. In 2016 in Ohio, Trump carried union households by 13 points. Now he is losing them by 8 points.

Some Republicans see Trump’s immorality as a sideshow they will tolerate to secure other goods. But his immorality is voracious, a widening gyre that threatens the basic stability of civic life. If he undermines this election, and his Republican enablers let him, he’ll approach what comes next with appalling ferocity.

My intuition tells me, as does the polling data, that more people are paying attention, have recognized what’s before them and will make the right decision. Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward made the essential point: “There was always just enough virtue in this republic to save it; sometimes none to spare.”

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Positive Vibes*

*The judges will also accept, “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?

The president and his wife have tested positive for the coronavirus, as did top adviser Hope Hicks and RNC chairwoman (co)Ronna McDaniel. So many thoughts:

–Shouldn’t have tested (then they wouldn’t have it, right?).

–We still don’t know how Robert Trump died.

–Turns out science does know.

–As an obese 74 year-old man, what does Donald Trump have to worry about?

–Paging Dr. Atlas! Paging Dr. Scott Atlas!

–Turns out the Cleveland Clinic required everyone to wear masks at the debate on Tuesday night. Biden’s family and entourage did. Trump’s did not. Welp. Also, I guess it’s safe to say this week’s debate is not happening. Hopefully we’re done with that WWF circus.

–Thoughts and prayers to Saturday Night Live writers, who just threw the cold open into the trash and are writing a new one.

–There’s something very important to acknowledge here for all those white evangelicals and religious zealots who blindly follow the president: 2,000 or so years ago no one knew what a virus was or how it spread and so this little fable of a cruel and malevolent man who came to power and then (potentially) was struck down might be construed as a plague that God (or Yahweh) had sent down from heaven to punish him for his ill-hearted deeds.

Now we know that it is a virus, that it does not choose between Republicans or Democrats, the faithful or atheists. It is catholic—small “c”— in its reach of potential victims. Religion is the great explainer for the ignorant. Doesn’t mean you can’t love science and also believe in God. Just pointing out how this would’ve been spun 2,000 years ago as opposed to how it is today.

But, BUT, if you do believe in such things, you might think of this as “Ginsburg’s Revenge.” RBG arrived at the Pearly Gates two weeks ago and it didn’t take her long to make a suggestion to the Boss.

—Is there a chance that this is a political maneuver by the president and his team? I doubt it, and it seems bizarre to even suggest, but what if someone looked at the daily polls and persuaded Trump that his best chance was to postpone the election due to illness? I’m pretty sure they can’t do that, but when have those three words ever stopped this administration?

–If the White House’s stance on preventive coronavirus steps changes one iota today, it’s your right as an American citizen to ask why. And yet, if it doesn’t, you have to ask if they’re going to “Two solariums!” territory in terms of their recalcitrant stubbornness. Either way they lose.

–It’s not about wishing the worst possible outcome for Trump and Melania… it’s about acknowledging that no person on the planet was in a better position to mitigate the effects of this pandemic and that he did practically nothing. And, in almost every conceivable way, his actions and deeds and words since March have emboldened a gigantic swath of Americans to ignore or downplay the virus, to call it a “hoax.” So, considering the tens of thousands of deaths for which Donald Trump is directly responsible, pardon me if I don’t reach for the rosary beads.

–I’m reminded of perhaps my favorite Winston Churchill moment. This was soon after World War II, 1947, when Churchill was rightly and roundly being praised for helping save the western world from the Nazis. Stanley Baldwin, the former UK prime minister (1935-1937) was turning 80 and he invited Churchill to his birthday party and, of course, to speak at the affair.

(Baldwin and Churchill)

Now Baldwin had been PM when Great Britain was at the height of its pronounced obliviousness to the Nazis and Hitler (sort of how we are with climate change and the virus right now). It was at that time that Churchill had been sounding every possible alarm about Hitler’s military buildup. I think today’s you’d call him a snowflake or a coronabro. So adamant was parliament to not hearing any of these warnings that Churchill was practically laughed out of his seat and would lose his election. He was sent packing, a chicken little who at the time it seemed, had spent his last day in public life.

Well, we know what happened after that and Churchill never forgot that Baldwin had led the charge against him as being a worry wart. So when history turned in Churchill’s favor but Baldwin still invited him to his birthday party, Churchill could’ve been gracious. After all, England won, right? But Churchill thought of all the needless deaths (43,000 civilians in the Battle of Britain alone) that had taken place due to Baldwin’s arrogance and unwillingness to acknowledge reality. And so Churchill penned his reply.

Congratulations on your 80th birthday. I will not be attending. It would have been far better for this nation if you had never been born.”

That’s how I feel about Donald Trump contracting the coronavirus. So, no, no false “thoughts and prayers” or “get well, get well soon!”

Here’s Your Smoking Gun of the Trump Presidency

Remember what we wrote on Monday (I mean, we don’t remember what we wrote yesterday; why should you?)? Well, here it is laid out: The Russians moved $330 million into Deutsche Bank (The Devil’s Bank), which then turned around and lent the money to Trump. This at a time when no reputable bank would come within five boroughs of Trump, so often had he defaulted on loans and gone bankrupt.

It’s pretty easy to connect the dots from there. We’ve got a Russian puppet i the White House.

Enjoy Your Pad-cast

Tatis: Making baseball fun again

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, 1932.

Fernando Tatis and Will Myers, 2020.

These are the only two sets of teammates to each homer twice in the same playoff game. Pret-tee, pret-tee good company. The Cardinals were up on the Friars 6-2 early last night and it looked as if they would disappear meekly as had the Indians, Blue Jays, Twins and Reds thus far. But then the Padres got hot (Machado also blasted one out) to force a Game 3 today.

Baseball’s more fun in 2020 with the Padres in it. Also, I cannot name a single Cardinal but somehow I bet Matt Carpenter still plays for them. I’m not even going to check.

Wichita State

I never knew about the Wichita State football team plane crash that took place 50 years ago today in the Rocky Mountains. Excellent story here from Chris Connelly.

Tom Petty

The music world lost music legend Tom Petty three years ago today. Petty’s death was somewhat overshadowed by the Las Vegas shooting that had taken place the night before, I believe. Petty might still be alive if he hadn’t embarked on—and not quit—his tour that spring and summer while trying to recover from a broken hip.

My good friend Randall M. and I saw Petty on this tour in Nashville. He was always one of our favorites and it was terrific to see him, even in a diminished state. Just wish someone would’ve forced him to stop and take a break.