(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog's Favourite Living Canadian)
The details of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago's extortionate relationship with Ukraine simply get worse and worse, almost by the hour. Late Friday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported that the president* repeatedly pressured the government of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. According to the Journal, the president* pressed his case eight times for the Ukrainians to team up with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to dig up dirt on the younger Biden. The Journal also reported that their source indicated that the president* offered no specific quid pro quo but, seriously, he was holding back $250 million in military aid that was mysteriously released after a phone call on July 25 between the president* and Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected leader of Ukraine.
The White House counteroffensive went from "Fake news!" to "Sure, I did it. Big deal." faster than it usually does. The president* wrangled some word salad for the press in the Oval Office Friday afternoon. First, he accused the still-anonymous whistleblower of being a "partisan," and then he said he didn't know who the whistleblower was. He said it "doesn't matter" what he says to foreign officials, and that his conversations with Zelensky were altogether splendid, indeed.
It was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.
I'm certainly convinced.
Treason in this instance is arguable. But there's no question that this whole transaction, if it plays all the way out the way it looks like it could, certainly involves bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Check out Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. Two out of three ain't bad.
On Friday, the New England Patriots released wide receiver Antonio Brown. This came in the wake of a Sports Illustrated expose of Brown's long history of being a violent human and a career deadbeat. According to SI:
Accusations range from a previously untold account of sexual misconduct, a charity auction theft, multiple domestic incidents, and a long list of unpaid debts.
Geez, I guess he should've run for president instead.
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Day Too Long" (Daria and the Hip Drops)—Yeah, I still pretty much love New Orleans.
Weekly Visit to the Pathe Archives: In keeping with this week's theme, here are some Red Army soldiers fighting with the Nazis at Sevastopol in Ukraine. The narrator is quite excited, and I was particularly moved by the strange musical interlude. History is so cool.
Speaking of music, this should make your heart go all melty and gooey. An American masterpiece and a remarkable performance by all concerned. The guy from the D.R. of the Congo. The two ladies from Trenchtown. Willie's kid. And Ringo!
Speaking further of music, the Ken Burns' Country Music documentary has surpassed my expectations. I think it's the best thing he's done since his breakthrough Civil War series. What carries it are the various talking heads, who were superbly chosen and who completely justified their inclusion. Someday, I want to talk like Merle Haggard and I want hair like Marty Stuart's and a personality like Brenda Lee's. The archival stills and videos are glorious. The set-piece around Lefty Frizzell's "Long Black Veil" was one of the most beautiful music-and-video combinations I've ever seen, and it ended with Roseanne Cash, which was perfect.
Is it a good day for dinosaur news, CBS9 Los Angeles? It's always a good day for dinosaur news!
USC assistant professor Dr. Michael Habib and his team pieced together a new genus and species of azhdarchid pterosaur which they coined Cryodrakon boreas, according to an article published Tuesday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The bones date back to the Cretaceous period, between 76.9 and 75.8 million years ago. Azhdarchid pterosaurs can weigh 500 pounds with wingspans of up to 30 feet. Cryodrakon boreas are believed to have roamed North America.
“This particular group of pterosaurs includes the largest flying animals of all time,” Habib said in a news release. “Their anatomy holds important clues about the limits of animal flight and may be important in the future for biologically inspired mechanical design for flight.” The bones date back to the Cretaceous period, between 76.9 and 75.8 million years ago. Azhdarchid pterosaurs can weigh 500 pounds with wingspans of up to 30 feet. Cryodrakon boreas are believed to have roamed North America.
A 30-foot-plus wingspan, by the way, is approximately the same as the wingspan on a World War II Spitfire. That's one big dinosaur-eating dinosaur.
“This particular group of pterosaurs includes the largest flying animals of all time,” Habib said in a news release. “Their anatomy holds important clues about the limits of animal flight and may be important in the future for biologically inspired mechanical design for flight.”
It was very hard to be a earthbound dinosaur in these circumstances, I'd imagine. But they lived then—and ate each other then—to make us happy now.
The Committee decided to get a little serious this week, and found a winner in Top Commenter Siobhan Ruck, who advanced the post about how all the wild birds are disappearing from North America.
I have been an organizer for San Francisco’s Christmas Bird Count for a few years. It’s a great tradition that has created a database that goes back more than a century. It’s also a lot of fun. Every year, at our count dinner, we read through a list of approx 150 species to be expected in our area, and participants say “Yes!” if their squad has seen the bird. Sometimes one of these species isn’t seen and everyone looks around - nobody?? It used to happen once or twice a year, but the last few years we’ve had 5-10 a year. Even the ones that are seen are often seen in fewer areas. Birds are one of the things that calm me in these dark times, so it’s been hard to see them slipping away - and not being able to do a goddamn thing about it.
The Audubon Society has been running these things around the country for almost 120 years. Here's the first list. Here are 91.11 Beckhams, ma'am, to help you with this year's count. Merry Christmas!
I'll be back on Monday, and I haven't the faintest idea what will be going on. It's a gut-check weekend for the elite political media, both print and broadcast. There's a damn coup going on in real time. But, still: be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line, and make sure you count all the birds you can.
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