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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

#EndorseThis: Stephen Colbert And John Oliver, Together Again — But Alone

It’s lonely to host a late-night show from isolation – no audience, no band, and no live guests. And nobody understands that loneliness better than a fellow host, which may be why Stephen Colbert brought on his old Comedy Central buddy John Oliver for a remote visit.

Naturally, the pals started snapping on each other immediately, with Oliver mocking Colbert’s bosses at CBS for bleeping any mild obscenity he might utter (unlike HBO management, where the policy is far more liberated). Then Stephen tries to prove he can curse, too.

While Stephen says he is rediscovering old skills, like changing a bicycle tire, John confesses that to create a TV show from home, with toddlers underfoot, makes him feel like he’s drowning. “And now HBO knows you don’t need a set,” quips Colbert.

And they go on. It’s a charming, hilariously funny inside view of what this moment is like for Oliver and Colbert.

#EndorseThis: John Oliver Is Back, With Mirth And Scorn

You might expect John Oliver to return from hiatus for the global coronavirus crisis – and so he does. Stuck in home isolation, he and his crew nevertheless contrived an electronic studio. And he somehow manages to amuse and edify us in the face of the Trump administration’s terrifying incompetence.

Amid the emergency, even in the dire horror that is Italyright now, it is possible to find humor, as Oliver does. But neither Trump norany of the right-wing loonies who want America to “get back to work” escape hiswithering scorn.

John Oliver came back for us. Now just click.

#EndorseThis: Seth Meyers Snaps Over Trump’s Deadly Narcissism

Everything with Donald Trump is a transaction, whether it’s sending military aid to a wartorn country like Ukraine (remember impeachment?) or providing desperately needed medical equipment to states struck by coronavirus.

“It’s a two-way street,” according to this great statesman, who demands personal tribute from those who want federal help. “They have to treat us well too!”

Wrong, retorts Seth Meyers, broadcasting in social isolation from his home study: “No, they don’t. It’s your job! They don’t owe you anything for doing your job….Imagine being America’s dumbest person, somehow getting to the highest office in the land, and still thinking that you’re owed something.”

Meyers also has little patience with reports that Trump is feeling “isolated” and “bored” in the White House, where he has taken to crashing actual meetings – much to the surprise of his appointees. The Late Night host is recording videos remotely from home, harassed by kids and even a squawking bird.

If Seth is feeling a little crabby in self-quarantine, it’shard to blame him. At least he’s taking it out on someone who deserves it.

Just click.

#EndorseThis: The Trump Campaign Doesn’t Want You To See This Ad

Considering how eagerly the Trump campaign instigates, spreads, retweets, and insistently encourages falsehoods, it is amusing to see them attempt to suppress an ad created by Priorities USA Action. The Democratic super PAC’s brief video reviews the president’s loony responses to the coronavirus pandemic and it is — as Trump himself might say — “perfect” in its accuracy.

The stench of hypocrisy will never stop the Trumpsters from seeking to suppress the truth, of course, which is why they sent a “cease and desist” letter to broadcasters concerning this ad. But they can’t stop you from watching it here — or from sharing it with all your friends.

Senate Unanimously Approves $2 Trillion Pandemic Relief Bill

As the nation confronted the worst economic decline since the Great Depression, the United States Senate approved an unprecedented $2 trillion relief bill late on Wednesday night, in an effort to soften the financial blow of the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation is by far the most expansive economic assistance ever passed by Congress and will go to the House on Friday morning, lawmakers said.

Approved by an extraordinary and rapid bipartisan vote of 96 to 0, the package will deliver checks to more than 150 million American households, establish multi-billion dollar loan programs for big and small businesses, add billions of dollars to make unemployment insurance more generous, vastly increase spending on the nation’s hospitals, and support city, state, and local governments.

The relief bill will provide $1,200 to most American adults and $500 for most children, along with a $500 billion lending scheme for large private firms, cities, and states and a $367 billion employee retention fund for small businesses. It will also deliver four months of additional unemployment payments and direct $130 billion to both public and private hospitals.

Deep concern about the perils to the health care system and the broader economy is shared by both liberal and conservative senators who overcame differences to back the enormous spending bill, which President Trump has already promised to sign.

Four senators were unavailable to vote because they are in self-quarantine. Just minutes before the vote, according to the Washington Post, a spokesman for Sen. John Thune (R-SD) disclosed that the Senate’s second-ranking Republican had returned to South Dakota feeling ill. Al;sop absent were Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has tested positive for COVID-19, and Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney of Utah, who self-quarantined because they had spent time with Paul.

#EndorseThis: Kimmel Disdains Dan Patrick’s ‘Let ‘Em Die’ Plan

In Jimmy Kimmel’s latest #minilogue, recorded on his front porch, the comic asks viewers to send examples of video art they have created at home (and airs an amusing sample of a #quarantimekiller.)

But the gist of his rap concerns Dan Patrick, who revealed the essence of right-wing ideology on Fox News.

The once obscure and now notorious Patrick is the Texas Republican who told Tucker Carlson that older people, most at risk in the pandemic, should sacrifice their safety – and perhaps their lives – to save the economy from ruin. The entire episode is reminiscent of that infamous 2011 presidential debate when Republican audience members cried “let him die” about a young man without health insurance.

Kimmel isn’t impressed by this logic, nor by Patrick’s acknowledgment that this admonition doesn’t make him “a hero.” (It makes him something else, as Jimmy notes.) Of course Kimmel is equally disturbed by Donald Trump, whose eagerness to “open up the country by Easter” and Trumpian narcissism are on fulsome display this week.

To lighten the mood he also brings us a remote serenade by Dave Matthews, playing a lovely acoustic version of Paul Simon’s “American Tune.”

Click and check in with Jimmy.

Senate And White House Agree On $2 Trillion Emergency Stimulus Bill

The Senate leadership of both parties reached a deal early on Wednesday morning with the Trump administration for $2 trillion in stimulus legislation designed to shield American workers and businesses from the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Passage of the bill is expected to proceed swiftly in both the House and the Senate, with President Trump poised to sign when it reaches his desk.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced the deal on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., following many meetings on Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and various White House officials.

The emergency assistance bill is the largest of its kind ever passed. Among its provisions, the bill directs the government to make payments of $1,200 to most American adults and $500 to most children within coming weeks. It sets up a $500 billion aid program for businesses, cities and states, as well as a $367 billion loan program for small businesses. And it will deliver an unprecedented increase in unemployment insurance as well as $130 billion in direct grants to hospitals.

“We’re going to take up and pass this package to care for those who are now caring for us,” said Schumer, “and help carry millions of Americans through these dark economic times.” Mnuchin said he was “pleased” with the stimulus package and promised that the president will “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely” sign the bill. The Senate discussions included constant consultation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wbo had publicly expressed optimism in the hours before the deal was reached.

Intense negotiations focused on the $500 billion loan program to private firms, local and state governments, which includes $58 billion for passenger and cargo airlines. Trump provoked suspicion when he said earlier that he wants a substantial subsidy for hotels — such as properties owned by the Trump organization — and vowed that he “would be the oversight” to prevent fraud and waste.

But in response to vigorous objections from Democrats, White House officials agreed to establish independent monitoring of the stimulus loan program by an oversight board and an inspector general, according to the Washington Post.

#EndorseThis: Randy Rainbow’s Satirical Paean To Social Distancing

Staying home has inspired new creativity and productivity among many artists – and Randy Rainbow exemplifies the moment. He has already produced a new video!

Social Distance opens with Rainbow’s alter ego TV correspondent interviewing Mike Pence about the pandemic. But then he swings into a clever paean to social distancing, true patriotism, human solidarity, and home manicures in this exceptionally difficult time.

Somehow he makes it all funny, especially in the closing moment as Pence nods to the final stanza of blunt advice.

Click and chortle.

#EndorseThis: Ebola Czar Ron Klain Breaks Down Our Coronavirus Mess

Nobody knows more about how government should handle a pandemic than Ron Klain. He’s the former Obama and Clinton White House aide who served as the “Ebola czar” in 2014. Klain was Joe Biden’s vice presidential chief of staff, a job he also handled for Al Gore, and currently assists the Biden campaign.

If a Democrat were president now, any Democrat, Klain wouldbe in charge of dealing with coronavirus and we would be doing better – not headingdown the same dark path as Italy.

Now he has taped a short and highly informative campaign video that sums up how we got into this crisis — snd what government must do to mitigate the damage. Donald Trump won’t like it, but that’s because every word is true.

Click and comprehend.

#EndorseThis: Trevor Noah Tries Italian-Style Singalong In New York

On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, across the harbor in Brooklyn, and in other communities as well, Americans are emulating the brave Italians who have joined in communal sing-alongs to ease the pain and loneliness of social distancing. Some of these songfests have been inspiringly successful, according to The Daily Mail.

But The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, an adopted New Yorker, finds out the hard way what might happen in the big city to someone who steps out onto the balcony and bursts into spontaneous song. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him.

Short, not too sweet, but damn funny. Just click.

#EndorseThis: Randy Rainbow Presents “Coronavirus Lament”

 Timely as ever, Randy Rainbow releases a new parody perfectly attuned to our dystopian moment. Set to the tune of Adelaide’s Lament from Guys and Dolls – “a person can develop a cold” — The Coronavirus Lament depicts the frustrations and fears of daily life in a pandemic, while noting just how much worse Trump and his coterie of boobs have made it.

Unsurprisingly, he takes special interest in Rainbow nemesis Mike Pence, the gay-negative vice president named to head Trump’s Covid-19 task force. With an eye on the vice president, he warbles:

In other words

Just from kissing Trump’s ass by indulging his ego trips,

A person can develop chapped lips.

Click and chortle.

#EndorseThis: Jimmy Kimmel Offers His Top Tips For The Apocalypse

“Since I have nothing to do — and the fact you’re watching thismakes me assume you have nothing to do — I’m going to shoot a mini-monologueevery day until we get back from my house, where I’m currently incarcerated. Imean camping out.”

Thus did Jimmy Kimmel commence his new post-apocalypse programming with a remote #minilogue.

Stuck in the house, Kimmel says he’s learning a lot about himself. For instance, he discovered that he has two young children (from whom he’s currently hiding in his office).

“Thank God for television. Right now my blood type is Disney-positive, Disney Plus, whatever they call it. We’ve watched Frozen 2 more times than the animators who made it have watched Frozen 2.”

He has plenty of ideas for those of us sheltering in place, which means almost everybody. “Did you know that you can make coffee at home, for yourself?” Plus hot tips for St. Patrick’s Day without bars or parades.

Click and laugh against the darkness.

Biden Sweeps “Super Tuesday III” With Big Wins In All Three Primaries

Winning decisive victories in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona, Joe Biden amassed a formidable lead over Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, under the shadow of the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The former vice president defeated the Vermont senator by wide margins in every state, which meant that by the evening’s end he had amassed 1,068 pledged delegates to only 771 for Sanders, according to ABC News. That is a lead many analysts regarded as almost mathematically insurmountable, requiring Sanders to win 60 percent of all delegates in the remaining states. But with many state parties postposing the contests that remain, it isn’t clear how or when Biden will be able to reach a majority before June.

In Florida, Biden won by nearly 40 points. He took Illinois by almost 24 points and Arizona by nearly 13 points, as Sanders underperformed his 2016 vote in all three states. Sanders offered no hint on Tuesday night as to whether he will heed increasing calls by Democrats for him to concede the primary and begin to build party unity against President Trump — or continue his campaign until the convention in July. Uncertainty caused by the national health emergency has led his own surrogates and advisers to suggest that he should press on.

In Illinois, progressive candidate Marie Newman won her second challenge to conservative Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski, making him the first member of Congress to lose his seat in 2020.

Biden spoke on Tuesday night briefly after the results began to come in.

#EndorseThis: What John Oliver Wants Us All To Know Now

With his usual Manhattan studio almost certainly contaminated by coronavirus, John Oliver taped Last Week Tonight from an undisclosed, audience-free location. But the strange “new normal” circumstances didn’t discourage Oliver from providing his usual calmly cutting analysis of the situation – you know, the pandemic.

Reviewing the epochal events of this past week, Oliverfocuses laser-like on the Trump administration’s myriad missteps, falsehoods,and failures, with a brief pause to praise Dr. Anthony Fauci (the sole trustedvoice on the White House podium). For instance, he eviscerates in detail Trump’sevasion of responsibility for disbanding the pandemic response division of theNational Security Council.

But what Oliver realizes is that with a president likeTrump, we’re on our own. He gives a ten-minute tutorial on how to slow the spreadof disease and potentially save lives that every American should watch. As hesays, we must help our health workers, “who are going to be in the shit forsome time to come.”

Amazingly, there are even a few laughs. Click, watch, be safe and well.

In Debate, Biden Promises To Choose A Woman For Vice President

Joe Biden promised to choose a woman as his vice presidential running mate if he wins the Democratic nomination, as he and Bernie Sanders dueled in an unusual debate on Sunday evening. A surprised Sanders agreed that he too would likely select a “progressive” woman.

“There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow,” said the former vice president, who repeated the promise under questioning from the moderators. “I would pick a woman to be my vice president.” Although the Vermont senator didn’t respond with an equally firm pledge, Sanders said “in all likelihood I will. For me it’s not just nominating a woman, it is making sure we have a progressive woman — and we have progressive women out there.”

That moment of agreement came amid a sometimes heated debate over past votes and leadership styles as the two remaining Democrats in the race competed amid the advent of a national medical emergency that has no end in sight.

The coronavirus crisis changed not only the debate’s substance but its circumstances, with the candidates meeting in a CNN Washington studio, absent any audience, instead of a packed auditorium in Phoenix, AZ. As the candidates took the stage they bumped elbows instead of shaking hands, in accordance with CDC guidelines on personal contact to avoid spreading the virus. Both candidates said during the debate that they had felt no symptoms of the illness and had not been tested yet.

The debate’s first 40 minutes focused on the crisis, with Biden calling for national unity, criticizing the response of the Trump administration, and recalling his own role in dealing with pandemic threats as Barack Obama’s vice president. Sanders took the opportunity to again press his Medicare-for-all plan. But much of the remaining time was devoted to familiar disputes between the two men over policy issues and past votes. There was no startling moment that might have changed the trajectory of the race, as Biden delivered a better and more assured performance than in earlier debates, while the scrappy Sanders never landed a knockout blow. A Washington Post analysis declared that Biden was the evening’s main “winner.”

Fed Slashes Interest Rates To Zero In Effort To Bolster Economy

The Federal Reserve announced Sunday that it will drop interest rates to zero while purchasing at least $700 billion in government and mortgage bonds as part of its emergency program to shore up the US economy in the face of an economic halt caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Its announcement represented the strongest action since the 2008 financial crisis as the central bank sought to stabilize financial markets as businesses close down and the economy confronts a looming recession.

Led by chair Jerome H. Powell, the Fed cut its benchmark by a full percentage point to zero.

Aside from rate cuts, the Fed also announced the resumption of bond purchases known as “quantitative easing,” with the central bank buying hundreds of billions of dollar in bonds to lower interest rates and maintain liquidity. The Fed will also offer generous loans to commercial banks, enabling them to offer loans on easy terms to small businesses and families in need.

IMAGE: Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, REUTERS/Carlos Barria

House Passes Bipartisan Pandemic Relief Bill Overnight

With an overwhelming bipartisan majority, the House of Representatives approved coronavirus relief legislation early Saturday morning. The bill provides tens of billions of dollars for free testing, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and other measures to assist those affected by the pandemic.

Following two days of negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — and much carping from House and Senate Republicans as well as President Trump — the 363-40 vote occurred just before 1 a.m. ET. According to the Washington Post, Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke by phone 13 times on Friday to clinch the relief agreement.

Trump then tweeted his endorsement of the bill, presumably ensuring Republican support as it goes to the Senate.