News you can’t use

Supposedly, someone asked Gandhi, ‘What do you think of Western civilization?’ He reportedly replied, ‘I think it would be a good idea.’

If a cluttered desk signifies a cluttered mind, what’s an empty desk signifying? Here are empty items from my cluttered mind:

News item: State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Inquisition) is planning a “special” announcement today, fueling speculation that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate in 2024. Mastriano, who ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2022, lost in the general election to Josh Shapiro by approximately 800,000 votes.

If Mastriano makes it through a Republican primary for U.S. Senate, he would face incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat, who has said he intends to run for a fourth term in 2024.

Oh, Doug. Dan Hicks wrote a campaign song just for you:

How can I miss you when you won’t go away?
Keep telling you day after day
But you won’t listen, you always stay and stay
How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

Doug is a certifiable crackpot, but he’s positively sane compared to Kandiss Taylor, who ran for governor of Georgia last year. (She lost in the Republican primary.)

Taylor has been elected a district chair of the Republican Party in Georgia, and on her podcast, “Jesus, Guns & Babies,” she spent time debunking the “conspiracy” that the world is round.

The world is flat, she explained. The Bible says so. “Globes” are part of a trick being played on young people by liberals, socialists and, I guess, airline pilots.

And she’s not the only Republican candidate to be part of the “flat-earth” movement. Lauren Witzke, who ran for the U.S. Senate from Delaware in 2020 and worked for the Trump campaign in Iowa, also describes herself as a “flat-earther.”

According to a survey by the University of New Hampshire, about 10 percent of Americans believe the Earth is flat.

And — this will shock you, so I hope you’re sitting down — according to the survey, “Trump approvers are more likely … to agree with conspiracy claims that vaccinations implant tracking microchips, the Earth is flat, or NASA astronauts did not land on the Moon; but they are less likely to agree with scientists that the Earth is billions of years old.”

Golly. You don’t say.

The point, and I do have one, is that craziness is not the fringe of the Republican Party. It’s the center of the Republican Party.

And this is what CNN, the New York Times and other major media outlets are trying to normalize. “Let’s go to this diner in a rural small town and talk to the most extreme Trump supporters we can find in an attempt to sympathize with them” is equivalent to, “let’s find the craziest people we can, and make them seem normal.”

Then they expose the rest of us to the craziness over and over and over, until we get used to it: Well, maybe the flat-Earth people have a point.

The crazies are still a minority (for now). Most Americans want legal access to birth control. Most Americans want legal access to abortion. Most Americans want other adult Americans free to marry another adult person, regardless of their sex or gender identity. Most Americans want to be free to read what they want when they want. Most Americans want teachers and parents in charge of the education of our children — not religious kooks.

Why are we letting a tiny minority of fact-deniers dictate to the rest of us?

Because our supposedly “liberal” media insists on letting Republicans pee on our legs, and telling us it’s rain. Here’s the “liberal” MSNBC:

“Why is Ron DeSantis partnering with Elon Musk to launch his 2024 presidential campaign?”

Because they’re both white supremacist jagoffs. There, I saved you a click. It’s really that simple.

One last thing before I change the subject: For years, the media has referred to the Republican Party as the “GOP.” That’s an acronym for “Grand Old Party.”

The nickname began to be used widely after the Civil War, because the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, and had fought to preserve the Union from segregationists and slave-holders. They were the “Grand Old Party that saved the country.”

Since then — after all, it’s been 150 years — the positions of the two parties have reversed. The Southern segregationists are all in the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party seems to be the one (albeit haphazardly) fighting to save America.

I know this is futile, but let’s knock off the “GOP” nonsense. There is nothing “Grand” about a party that wants to discriminate against women, Black people, immigrants, non-Christians and the LGBTQ community — let alone a party that can’t even agree that the world is round.

“Was there sensimilla in those Powdermilk Biscuits? Heavens, they’re tasty and expeditious.”

And finally: The state of Minnesota is planning to legalize recreational marijuana. I’m trying to imagine Garrison Keillor speaking even slower than he already does.

“Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown.” (Inhales deeply, holds it.) “Down at the Sidetrack Tap, Ole Olson was … uh … was … wow, do you ever really look at your hands?”

I used to be a serious Keillor fan. In the era before the Internet and podcasts, I used to set a timer to record his Saturday show if I wasn’t able to listen live. But as he burned through marriages and mistresses, I began to suspect his nice-guy persona was all an act.

And then reports began to circulate through the public radio community that, indeed, indicated he wasn’t nice after all. His newspaper column also became increasingly nasty. The sexual harassment scandal that eventually got him cashiered from Minnesota Public Radio seemed pretty minor in isolation, but it fit a pattern of questionable (or at least arrogant) behavior.

Come to think of it, if anyone could use a little weed to mellow out and relax, maybe it’s him. Someone get a bag of weed to the Chatterbox Cafe and run down to Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery for Doritos and Twinkies.

P.S.: The Gandhi quote is baloney. According to the Quote Investigator website, it can be traced to a 1967 documentary called “The Italians,” but that didn’t air until 29 years after Gandhi died, and there’s no evidence linking it to Gandhi before then.

I get all the news I need from the weather report

Beware of pink-slime news — it’s creeping into Pittsburgh and all over the country. (Spoiler alert: It’s probably already in your neighborhood)

A few items from Jay’s vast archive/fire hazard

A brief show note: This week’s show is live. Next week’s show will be partially pre-recorded from beautiful Dayton, Ohio, where I’ll be attending the annual Hamvention, one of the world’s largest amateur radio gatherings. (Or as my brother calls it, “the nerd convention.”)

I know a few people have been worried that the ongoing writers’ strike might affect my show, but if you’ve listened to my show even once, you know that no one is writing any of that crap.

Speaking of writing: I’m one of four co-authors on a new book called “American Deadline: Reporting from Four News-Starved Towns in the Trump Era.” You may actually hear me soon, being interviewed “on another network,” as they used to say.

As they used to say, “Check your local listings for times and stations.”

Or don’t. Try to find “local listings” any more. For that matter, try to find a newspaper. When the McKeesport Daily News closed at the end of 2015, it must have taken me two months before I no longer had the urge to stop at the store on the way home from work to buy a paper.

As you can see from the collection/archive/fire hazard above, although I worked for that newspaper for less than a year, it played a big role in my life.

I’ve had exchanges recently online with people who absolutely will not pay for news. They’re actually offended when someone posts a link to any publication that has a paywall: “Please don’t link to The Washington Post, I choose not to pay for content.”

It’s an odd flex. Try that with any other business and see how far you get. “I choose not to pay for plumbing repairs.” Well, enjoy wading neck-deep in feces.

Continue reading “I get all the news I need from the weather report”

Mike Royko knew about Murdoch

And the legendary Chicago columnist would have spotted Tucker Carlson as a lying fraud from a magnificent-mile away

Rupert Murdoch announces his purchase of the Chicago Sun-Times in a 1983 photo from the Chicago Tribune. Murdoch sold the paper two years later after making it “hideous,” as the weekly Chicago Reader once said. (Clipping from the Chicago Tribune)

Mike Royko knew.

Royko, for younger readers, was a legendary newspaper columnist in Chicago. I guess I also need to explain what it meant to be a “columnist.” A columnist was an opinion-writer, but more than that: At most newspapers, they were the stars, often (but not always) the best writers, and they were called “columnists” because they would fill up most of a “column” of type on the page.

There were other legendary newspaper columnists. San Francisco had Herb Caen, New York City had Jimmy Breslin, and Chicago had Royko. For a while, Royko’s columns were syndicated to hundreds of other newspapers all over the world.

Royko first made his mark in the early 1960s at the struggling Chicago Daily News, going after targets that other journalists were afraid to tackle, including Mayor Richard J. Daley. When that paper closed, he shifted to the morning paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, that was owned by the same publisher.

But in 1984, Royko quit the Sun-Times and went across the street to work for its mortal enemy, the Chicago Tribune. It would be like the Pittsburgh Pirates leaving the National League. People were stunned — including the people who ran the Sun-Times, which promptly filed a lawsuit to block the move.

Why did Royko walk? Because Rupert Murdoch had just bought the Sun-Times.

Continue reading “Mike Royko knew about Murdoch”

Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad

(Apologies to Corentin Penloup)

What is there to say now about cartoonist Scott Adams that hasn’t already been said by a thousand other people, mostly better than I could say it?

Maybe that while others may enjoy seeing a rich jerk get rightfully clobbered by public opinion, I find it sad.

In case you’ve missed it, the creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip posted a rant on his YouTube channel in which he urged white people to separate themselves from Black people. The next day, while attempting to supposedly put his comments into context, he made them worse.

As Gene Weingarten wrote in his excellent analysis of Adams’ meltdown, “every viewer of 1950s TV Westerns knows when you walk into quicksand, you thrash as little as possible.” Not Adams, who fell into it up to his neck, arrogantly refused to stay calm or get help, and has just gone under for the final time.

Dozens of the remaining newspapers that were carrying “Dilbert” have now pulled the comic strip, and as I was posting this entry, I learned that he’s also been dropped by the syndicate that distributed the cartoons.

Maybe Adams will find another syndicate to distribute his work, or maybe he will self-distribute it, but effectively, if the major newspaper chains and syndicates don’t want his comic strip any more, “Dilbert” is out of business, at least as a mainstream property.

Continue reading “Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad”

May we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land

Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph sings at Super Bowl LVII

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” is a hymn written by two brothers, James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, in the late 19th Century, and it has been known as “The Black National Anthem” for more than a century.

In fact, the first reference I can find to it being called the “Negro National Anthem” is in a 1918 issue of the Omaha, Neb., Monitor, a weekly Black newspaper:

Clipping from the Omaha, Neb., Monitor, May 18, 1918, p. 5

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People popularized the term “the Negro national anthem” one year later and appointed James Johnson the executive secretary of the NAACP in 1920.

The lyrics are anything but controversial. Inspired by the Book of Exodus, the hymn is patriotic and religious, and a cry for equality and freedom for all:

Continue reading “May we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land”

I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage

I had a bunch of funny stuff — or at least stuff I thought was funny — cued up for the blog this week. But I’m not in the mood to be funny today.

The Tube City Online Radio studio is in the old McKeesport Daily News building, which looks out across a parking lot at the McKeesport Public Safety Building.

Most every Saturday, when I leave the studio after my show ends at 3 o’clock, I have to drive down the alley behind the police station, which means I pass through right around shift-change, which means I usually wave to the police officers as they’re either heading out to work or returning.

Continue reading “I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage”

The healing power of minding your own business

In the Year of Our Lord 2023, some of yinz are out there apparently still critiquing Black people for the hair God gave them.

Royce Jones, a New Kensington native and Point Park grad who now works as a reporter and anchor for KDKA-TV (2), writes on Facebook:

I get a lot of comments about my hair.

Many people (most notably those who look like me) often thank me for the representation and for not being afraid to rock my super fab head of curls, on TV.

Continue reading “The healing power of minding your own business”

Meanwhile, in the City of Brotherly Love

You thought Thanksgiving dinner with your relatives was unpleasant?

A retired columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News has won a defamation lawsuit he filed against his former employer and co-workers after what was either the best — or worst — retirement party ever, depending on your point of view.

A jury in Philly last week awarded Stu Bykofsky $45,000 in compensation for “emotional distress” after a going-away party in 2019 at which one of his former co-workers accused Bykofsky of having “a taste for child prostitutes.”

I don’t know how I missed this story when it first happened, because it’s off the chain.

Continue reading “Meanwhile, in the City of Brotherly Love”

Not my first rodeo

Aren’t we all sick of talking about the bird app and its piss-baby spoiled brat owner? Last night, he posted this:

“I’ll take “The Least Self-Aware People in History” for $200, Ken.”

One of my listeners is trying to get me to go back to the bird app. My listener says “Musk may be stepping back.”

Yeah, sure, because the banks and his other investors — including the always patient and gentle Saudi Arabian royal family — are worried that Elmo is pouring $44 billion down the drain, along with a substantial part of Tesla.

If and when Elmo steps down as Twitter’s CEO, one of the leading candidates to replace him is Jason Calacanis. Calacanis is a close friend of Musk’s, as well as other Silicon Valley tech-bro billionaires.

His name is one of those in Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book and he’s admitted to being friends with Ghislaine Maxwell. He also helped fund the recall election that replaced San Francisco’s district attorney. I suspect Calacanis leans libertarian and he would do exactly the same things at Twitter that Musk has done — just with less drama.

I could be wrong, but it sounds like a case of different clown, same circus.

Continue reading “Not my first rodeo”

Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free

(There are several updates at the bottom of this post)

I don’t often get legal threats, but I’m kind of tickled to get this one:

———- Forwarded message ———
Date: Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 10:41 AM
Subject: Offensive Twitter Posts
To: WRCT General Manager
Cc: WRCT Business, WRCT Social Media, WRCT Public Affairs

To whom it may concern,

I am reaching out to you as a community member about an offensive
Twitter post that was shared among someone portraying to be with your

Jay Thurber had posted online some hurtful things about me over the
summer that was just brought to my attention. I am a decorated first
responder with nearly a decade of service. I started when I was
14-years-old and I do not appreciate the hurtful lies being spread
about me.

Continue reading “Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”