H-A-double N-I-T-Y spells Hannity


“And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!”

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’,” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

— from Chapter 6 of Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898).


Recently Michael Cohen, lawyer and fixer for Supreme Leader, revealed in court that one of his other clients was Fox News commentator Sean Hannity. It’s difficult to classify Mr. Hannity professionally, though “journalist” he certainly is not. Commentator will have to do, since “blowhard”, while more accurate, descends to the same kind of ad hominem mudslinging Mr. Hannity himself indulges in, and you can’t beat someone like that at his own game. Is Sean Hannity really Michael Cohen’s client? Mr. Hannity doesn’t think so, and the $10 he paid Mr. Cohen for his services was merely hush money in the form of attorney/client privilege.

Alice Humpty Dumpty
Illustration by John Tenniel (1820-1914) of Alice greeting Humpty Dumpty.

Michael Cohen certainly works by an unusual business model, taking merely ten bucks from Sean Hannity in return for supposedly giving only real estate advice, and supposedly out of his own pocket forking over $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels. What a great guy! Maybe he’s independently wealthy. He didn’t want to trouble the Horndog-in-Chief (at the time of the payoff still only Candidate Horndog) with the piddling matter of $130,000, and so he coughed it up himself.

Yankee Doodle Dandy, directed by Michael Curtiz, is a 1942 musical biography of songwriter and showman George M. Cohan, and in this scene Joan Leslie and James Cagney sing a shortened version of Cohan’s song “Harrigan”.


For such an unusual attorney, to whom money means apparently nothing, there’s no telling what that sawbuck from Sean Hannity bought, if anything other than a little advice and some privilege to cover it. Speculation is a fun game, and in this case it might involve the guess that the $10 was for guidance in hiring a plastic surgeon to wipe that smirk off Mr. Hannity’s face. That can’t be right, though, since Mr. Hannity’s smirk is his signature look. He can’t do without that any more than Moe Howard of The Three Stooges could have done without his bowl haircut. Maybe the money was part of Mr. Hannity’s philanthropic effort to invest in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. Attorney/client privilege in that case would have been in the interest of true giving, where the right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth, whether that’s slapping an eviction notice on an old lady’s front door or smacking down a librul (metaphorically, of course).

Humpty Dumpty
John Tenniel’s illustration of Humpty Dumpty shouting in the ear of the messenger in the poem he recites for Alice.

The truth is there’s just no telling what went on between Michael Cohen, selfless lawyer, and Sean Hannity, do gooder. The truth may ooze out when big, bad Robert Mueller, independent counsel, puts the squeeze on Mr. Cohen. Sean Hannity, Fox News commentator, will of course commentate – or bloviate, depending on your point of view – upon the proceedings in his usual fair and balanced manner. Then he will go hang out with his buddies at Mar-a-Lago, where no one dares to pee in his Post Toasties.
— Ed.

A full version of “Harrigan” from a 2008 recording by The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra; Rick Benjamin, Director; with singer Colin Pritchard. New World Records produces recordings using the instrumentation and style of a musical piece’s original performance, in this case American musical theater of the early 20th century.


As High as an Elephant’s Eye

There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow.
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,
And it looks like it’s climbing right up to the sky.


Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a beautiful feeling
Every thing’s going my way!

― Excerpt from “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma!; lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

The hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, has had a tortured history over the past hundred years on account of its close relative, also Cannabis sativa, but more commonly known as marijuana. The variety grown as hemp and renowned throughout history over several continents for its practical uses has a vanishingly small tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 1%, while the variety grown for its psychoactive properties has a THC content over 20%. Smoking hemp would induce a headache rather than relieve one. Why then has hemp been demonized along with its fun-loving and meditative relative?

Like the shreds of fiber running through a stalk of hemp itself, the story has many strands, and they are all entwined within the Cannabis sativa plant as a whole. In the early twentieth century, Mexicans fleeing the chaos of revolution in their country came to the United States in large numbers and brought their recreational and medicinal use of marijuana (their term) with them. Americans had long grown hemp, but they had little interest in its higher THC relative. Americans evidently preferred liquid spirits. The influx of Mexican immigrants with their loco weed coincided with the push toward prohibition of alcohol which culminated in the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919.

Americans who were now prohibited alcohol could not be allowed to turn to marijuana for relief, particularly considering its association with poor brown-skinned people and, increasingly, poor black-skinned ones. The demonization began in the southwestern and southern states in the 1920s and spread to the rest of the country by the early 1930s. Government agents would have too much difficulty discerning innocent hemp in the field from devil weed, and therefore it was all to be outlawed. Farmers who still wished to grow hemp had to apply for a license from the government and submit to oversight and red tape. Fewer and fewer farmers wished to put up with the hassle from the 1930s on until, after a brief blip of government encouragement during World War II, no one was growing hemp in this country after about 1956.

Hemp for Victory, a 1942 short film from the United States Department of Agriculture.


There are also possibly self-serving culprits in the demonization of marijuana among the powerful of the 1920s and 1930s in the United States, among them William Randolph Hearst, Andrew Mellon, and the DuPont family. Hemp, a useful and unglamorous plant with no psychoactive properties, was difficult to demonize. It’s smoky Jazz Age relative, on the other hand, lent itself more easily to demonization, and then hemp, the real target of powerful business competitors, was more easily tossed by them onto the smoldering pyre of public condemnation as a matter of guilt by association.
Sing a Song of Six Pants (1947) 2
Shemp Howard, in the middle, receives an ironing board rebuke from Moe Howard, on the left, while Larry Fine looks on in Sing a Song of Six Pants, a Three Stooges short from 1947. Shemp should not be confused with hemp, nor with Joe Palma, also known as “Fake Shemp” after he doubled for Shemp following the famous comedian’s untimely demise.
The lowest point was reached in the 1970s and 1980s with the designation of marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the creation of the self-perpetuating Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) a few years later, and in the 1980s the introduction of draconian mandatory, minimum sentencing laws with the promise and encouragement of zealous enforcement by the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The prisons, many of them now privately operated for profit, have been bursting at the seams ever since, mostly with the grandchildren of those poor brown or black people we discussed earlier, a lot of them busted for minor drug offenses. How do you control a population? Start with their customs and particularly target what you can portray as their vices. Have a stiff alcoholic drink then and consider whether your profitable – and even patriotic – plan to grow some useful hemp is worth your while to hassle with the DEA, the ultimate overseer, state laws tendering you encouragement notwithstanding.
― Izzy


What Is a Debate?

Debate intransitive verb; To engage in a formal discussion or argument.

Monday evening, September 26, there will be a debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. “Between” may not be the right word to describe what takes place, though, and perhaps then it shouldn’t be called a debate at all. Modern U.S. presidential election debates are in the format of brief answers by the candidates in response to questions from a moderator or a panel of journalists. The candidates usually make an opening speech and a closing speech to bracket the debate. The candidates rarely address each other directly, and when they do so it is outside the prescribed format.

Lincoln debating douglas
Abraham Lincoln, standing, debates Stephen Douglas, seated to his right.

Kennedy Nixon Debat (1960)
On October 7, 1960, the second of four presidential election debates took place between John Kennedy, at the podium on the left, and Richard Nixon, at the podium on the right. The moderator sits behind them, and a panel of four journalists sit in front.

In the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 for the office of U.S. Senator from Illinois, the candidates took turns speaking at length on issues they brought up themselves, with no moderator or panel of journalists interposing between them and their audience. While Lincoln lost the election, his eloquence in addressing the issues of the day brought him to national prominence and led to his election as President two years later.

In 1960, the U.S. presidential election debates began as we know them now, with the format of a joint press conference rather than a true debate. Unlike now, the discourse then at least was civil and the candidates addressed issues more than personalities. Now, in the debate tomorrow evening, we will have two candidates who, reminiscent of a line from the song about a red-nosed reindeer, laugh inappropriately and engage in name-calling. Examples of both behaviors abound from both candidates. Far from Lincoln and Douglas, the 2016 candidates are not even close to being like Kennedy and Nixon.
– Ed.

It’s the 2016 presidential election debate season, and in the middle is our moderator, the stand-in for the public at large, flanked by the two major party candidates.