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Monday, July 6, 2015

A Political Satire/Musical Comedy Whose Time Has Come—-Again

Of Thee I Sing, a musical that first appeared on Broadway over eighty years ago is long overdue for a Broadway revival.

One of the most biting political satires ever written, Of Thee I Sing was the first successful American musical with a consistently satiric tone. It was so satirical, the writers of the play and the cast were unsure of what the public’s reception would be, prompting one of the writers of the book, George S. Kaufman, to quip “Satire is what closes on Saturday night.”

Written at the beginning of the great depression, Of Thee I Sing lampoons a political system too tied up in personalities and silly little issues to fix the country’s economy and of how a completely gullible American people can be controlled at the hands of a good presidential media spin (sound familiar?).

The creative team behind the musical was a Broadway All-Star team. The book was written by George S. Kaufman (You Can’t Take it With You) and Morrie Ryskind. The team’s previous collaboration was Animal Crackers, a Broadway musical written for the Marx Brothers (Ryskind went on to write many of the Marx Brothers movies). George and Ira Gershwin wrote music and lyrics. George Gershwin was perhaps America’s greatest composer, writing everything from musicals, to opera, to classical music and ballet. Ira Gershwin is one of the American musical’s greatest lyricists, who wrote for both stage and screen (including the original A Star is Born).

Of Thee I Sing was the first musical ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Unfortunately though the score is an essential part of the play, the Pulitzer committee did not recognize George Gershwin.

The play tells the story of presidential candidate John P. Wintergreen,” he’s the man the people choose, loves the Irish and the Jews.” For Vice President the choice is Alexander Throttlebottom, a man best known for gaffes (sound familiar)  who throughout the play keeps trying to get into meetings and rallies, but gets thrown out because no one knows who he is.

Thanks to political bosses Louis Lippman and Francis X. Gilhooley, newspaper magnate Matthew Arnold Fulton, Senators Carver Jones and Robert E. Lyons – Wintergreen’s chosen platform was selected to avoid political controversy, ending up with the “love platform.” The party bosses also decide that Wintergreen should get married, so they hold a beauty pageant to select a bride for him. The winner is the sultry southern belle Diana Deveraux.

The Minds Behind The Musical: George Gershwin, Morrie Ryskind, George S. Kaufman, Ira Gershwin

Unfortunately the candidate throws a wrench into the plans when he falls in love with the all-American Mary Turner whose major qualification is, well:
 “some girls can make a pie made up of prunes and quinces, some make an oyster fry others are good at blintzes, some lovely girls have done wonders with turkey stuffings but I have found the one who could really make corn muffins.”
Wintergreen and his Mary win the election but immediately after the inauguration/wedding, Ms. Deveraux shows up to tell her story of winning the contest and being jilted by the new President. The Supreme Court is called in to decide between corn muffins and justice. Thankfully the Court decides, “corn muffins are more important.”

Of Thee I Sing is merciless in the way it attacks all American institutions, the nine members of the Supreme Court care more about politics than justice (just like today), the Senators care more about petty local politics than doing their jobs, and the political operatives don’t give a rat’s ass about what the country needs. They only care about public opinion and maintaining power.

Some things never change.

The least sympathetic character is the French Ambassador, even back then (as Al Bundy once said) everyone hated the French. The Ambassador escalates the Diana Deveraux scandal, bursting into the White House demanding retribution for the affront to France. It seems that the sultry Deveraux is “the illegitimate daughter of an illegitimate son of an illegitimate nephew of Napoleon.”

France is not happy, so to placate the French, the political operatives decide to have the President impeached. But just as the Senate is going through its roll call, in bursts the First Lady who announces she’s expecting. Since no expecting President has ever been impeached the impeachment is called off (she ends up with twins–because it was the politically expedient thing to do).

And what of Ms Deveraux? Vice-President Throttlebottom reminds us, when the President is not able to fulfill his duty, that obligation is taken over by the Vice-President.

In the end everyone is happy, the President has his Mary (and corn muffins).

Of Thee I Sing is a special play because it really connected with the mood of America during the first part of the depression. A mood similar to today a feeling that our government was run by a bunch of well-meaning fools, who get tied up in their own underwear trying to get anything done. Over and above the great music, comedy and biting satire, the element that worked best was a sense of optimism; a feeling that however bad things got eventually things would turn out fine.

That optimism is uniquely American.

Two years after Of Thee I Sing opened the same exact all-star team of producers, writers, actors, etc. wrote a sequel called Let Them Eat Cake, it only lasted 90 performances. It failed because was it was much darker and more pessimistic than the original.

Of Thee I Sing was revived a few times, a planned movie version starring the Marx Brothers never came together (thank God), there was even a dreadful TV version starring Carroll O’ Connor (it was the musical comedy equivalent of the Star Wars Christmas Special), but it was never brought back at the right time.

This classic of American theater works best during a time when the country is in economic and political distress, at a time when the country looks for entertainment poking fun at what they are going through while understanding that as bad as things get, in the end everything will be just fine. A time like now

Below for your enjoyment is a recording of the impeachment scene from the original 1931 cast.

Iran's Supreme Leader Orders Country To Escalate Weapons Production

As Iran negotiates for a nuclear treaty which by all reports will allow it to maintain its nuclear weapons, the Supreme(s) Leader is ordering the country's leaders to escalate it's conventional weapons program.

Iran's state owned Press TV is reporting that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the Iranian president to boost the country’s defense and deterrence capabilities.

The directives were part of a letter sent to President Rouhani outlining the "general policies of the Sixth National Development Plan."
In the letter, the Leader underlined the need to upgrade Iran’s deterrence power by developing the nation’s missile capability and defense technologies as well as boosting the capacity to produce weaponry and major defense equipment to help counter “different types of threats.”

Ayatollah Khamenei also stressed the need to develop civil defense programs in critical and sensitive locations in the country.

Among other points highlighted by the Leader was the necessity of boosting soft power and cyber-defense capabilities as well as providing air defense and cyber-security for the country’s infrastructure.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that at least five percent of the country’s budget should be set aside to boost the nation’s defense capability at the regional level to secure national security and interests.
The Islamist leader also emphasized the need to step up border security by applying “software and hardware” techniques, reinforcing border troops, developing intelligence operations, boosting border diplomacy and getting locals on board with implementing security programs along the nation’s frontiers (possibly getting the idea from Trump, but he didn't mention Mexicans).

Perhaps thinking about all the money the country will receive thanks to Obama Administration concessions...
The Leader said “economic diplomacy” should be prioritized in a bid to promote foreign investment, enter world markets and develop technologies to fulfill the objectives associated with the “Economy of Resistance.”

Ayatollah Khamenei also underlined the need for Iran to further develop world service media outlets.
Not in the US though, here he has the mainstream media. 

Anybody Remember Where We Parked The Tank?

Sometimes when I park in a giant lot, by a train station or when I go to a stadium for a ball game or concert I forget where I put my car. Apparently the Nazi Army forgot where they parked the above tank (in some guys basement). Maybe it wasn't forgotten after all the now 78-year old man who had the tank used to during a snow storm years ago.

Despite the fact that its weapons' systems were disabled the tank was confiscated by authorities, perhaps because along with the tank, the guy had a torpedo and an anti-Aircraft gun.  Damn! This guy must have been great playing Risk.

According to Newser:
It took 20 soldiers almost nine hours to remove a World War II "Panther" tank from a pensioner's cellar in a wealthy community in northern Germany—and that's in spite of the fact that the German army sent in modern recovery tanks to help confiscate the vintage 1943 vehicle, reports the BBC.

Prosecutors in the coastal region of Kiel, tipped off by Berlin prosecutors who'd recently searched the 78-year-old man's villa for stolen Nazi art, aren't divulging much yet, but a police rep did say that a torpedo and anti-aircraft gun had been removed and other weaponry had been found as well, reports the Local. Alexander Orth—mayor of the town of Heikendorf, where the man lives—wasn't surprised by the discovery because the elderly man "was chugging around in that thing during the snow catastrophe in 1978," adding that "some people like steam trains, others like tanks."
True but the neighbors wanted the tank to stay of their lawn!
And because the tank can no longer fire weapons, the pensioner's lawyer tells the German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung, via the Local, that the man hasn't actually broken any laws. Prosecutors, meanwhile, are investigating whether possession of the tank, torpedo, anti-aircraft gun, and other weapons violates Germany's War Weapons Control Act. Orth, meanwhile, did concede: "I took this to be the eccentricity of an old man, but it looks like there's more to it than that."
 Even worse the tank got crappy mileage and the global warming nuts in the EU complained.

Al Jazeera Releases July 4th Video Which Craps On America

AJ+ is a San Francisco-base digital site created by the folks at Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based propaganda/news site targeting young Americans. On its Facebook page it bills itself as:
AJ+ is a global news community for the connected generation. We highlight human struggles and achievements, empower impassioned voices, and challenge the status quo. We bring you the stories that are shaping our world. Do you ever laugh, cry, get angry or inspired? You’ll fit right in
Apparently highlighting "human passion and struggles" includes crapping on the country with the most freedom in the world, the United States of America.

As a independence "treat" Al Jazeera created a video which employs young-looking American actors to explain what's wrong with America. Some of their "one-liners" are:
  • “Not to brag, but we have the most incarcerated people in the world. God bless the prison-industrial complex,”
  • "When it comes to obesity, we lead the global Mickey D's line, a third of us can't see our own toes"
  • Pew Pew, we have 90 guns for every 100 persons.  Sorry Yemen, we beat you in drones and guns."
  • “Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s painkillers. Makes sense though, right? I mean racism in this country is a big pain in the ass.” 
What makes the video below even worse is that AJ+ is part of a network based in Qatar, which helps to fund the Hamas and ISIS terror network, which has a migrant-worker system, Kafala which has been likened to slavery, which suppresses free speech and press as well as including in their legal code that a wife must obey her husband. In Qatar marital rape is not a crime, but homosexuality is a crime. In Qatar Christians and Jews are not allowed to build their own houses of worship but may pray in their own homes and and workplaces.

And a network based in a country with those human rights abuses has the nerve to crap on America the nation of opportunity?

Granted America is not perfect, but the U.S. is much closer to perfection, to equal opportunity to all genders, sexual orientations, races and religions than any other country on Earth. But a Qatar-based website has the nerve to produce the video below on America's birthday:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

War On Faith-Interviewing Oren-Iran Gets A Lawyer And MUCH More

As regular readers know I am also writing for,, and for the next week I will be contributing a few posts at because my friend Ed Morrissey is in an anti-avocado reprogramming camp.

Many of the posts written for other sites would fit comfortably her on "The Lid," so some of my favorites are described and linked below. The title of each post is hyperlinked to the full article. Please give a read and share with your friends:
    • The Obama Administration Has Become Iran’s Attorney- It seems as if the Obama Administration has “switched sides,” playing the role of Iran’s attorney and explaining away their violations, rather than protecting the country by guaranteeing that Iran follow the JPOA.
    • REVOLT! County Clerks Refusing to License Same-Sex Marriages-The Supreme Court may have ruled that gay marriage is the law of the land, but five justices cannot change people's religious beliefs. Throughout the country there are clerks whose responsibility is to issue marriage licenses resigning or refusing to license any marriage in protest of last week's Court decision. Ironically these grass-roots actions are happening as America celebrates a protest against the British Crown that developed into the greatest home for freedom in the history of the world.
    • Obama Admin. Won't Let Redskins Return to D.C. Unless They Change Name-The Obama administration is blocking attempts by the city of Washington, D.C. to lure the NFL Washington Redskins back into the District of Columbia from FedEx Stadium in suburban Maryland. The move would require an extension of the city's lease on land owned by the federal government. But, the administration doesn't want to extend the lease because they don't like the team's name.