White House clarifies: Trump to impose marital, not martial law

White House officials are backpedaling this morning following last weekend’s Carnival of Crackpots event hosted by President Trump in the Oval Office.  Officials now deny that discussions of declaring martial law ever took place, but rather Trump spoke extensively with attorneys about imposing marital law.

“Everybody needs to just step back and take a deep breath.  POTUS is not declaring martial law.  With his presidency winding down, the president is a little concerned regarding the status of his marriage and the vulnerability of his assets.  He’s consulting attorneys and discussing various means of using the law to protect his property in the event of the dissolution of his marriage.  That’s it, folks, marital law.  See, you just had a couple of letters turned around.  No big deal,” said a senior White House official familiar with last weekend’s shitshow.

Still questions remain regarding reports that President Trump is considering appointing Sydney Powell to a special counsel role, and that the president takes seriously the idea of seizing swing state voting machines.

Said the official, “Look, the president had a few of his rowdy friends over Friday night and the talk got a little colorful.  The president appreciates Powell’s loyalty, and would like to recognize her efforts with a ‘special’ counsel honorarium, if you see where I’m going with this.  Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani were also there sucking up and heaping flattery on the commander-in-chief.  It was really kind of sickening.  Rudy was sweating black ooze from almost every pore.  Nothing to see here, folks.  Just the final days of a feckless and pathetic, wanna-be despot soaking up a little last minute adoration.  I mean, Jesus, yesterday he lost Pat Robertson.  C’mon, you know you’re adrift in a sea of Cocoa Puffs when Pat Robertson bales on you.”  

California imposes restrictions on Santa’s Christmas activities

Residents of California are justifiably outraged today as state officials have imposed draconian new restrictions on the movements of old St. Nick this holiday season.  Fearful that Santa may spread Covid in addition to all the Christmas joy he brings, Governor Newsome along with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco Mayor London Breed have all warned Santa to pay close attention to local rules when making his Christmas deliveries.

Statewide, Santa is prohibited from entering any home the night before Christmas.  The Governor’s order permits Santa only to drop presents down the chimney or leave them outside the front door of the residence.  If residents would like their stockings stuffed, they are to hang them by the front door with care.  Additionally, any cookies, milk, hot cocoa or other refreshments provided for Santa’s enjoyment are to be left outside the home.  Due to outdoor dining restrictions, Santa may only consume said refreshments within the confines of his sleigh.

“Health experts have warned us that a superspreader Santa event is likely if we don’t take extreme precautions,” said the governor.

While Santa is required to wear a mask as he makes his California deliveries, in Los Angeles he faces additional restrictions.  “There will be no ‘ho ho hoing’ by Mr. Claus while inside the Los Angeles city limits.  Each ‘ho’ has the potential to spread thousands of droplets and thereby infect countless residents.  Also, we again remind Santa that this city established a noise ordinance several years ago that he and his sleigh bells have yet to comply with,” said Mayor Garcetti.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed encouraged Santa to take a different approach this holiday season.  “We find it extremely irresponsible of Kris Kringle to insist on carrying on this tradition during a pandemic.  However, if he must deliver presents to the children of this city, we suggest he email them a gift card.  If we catch him on our streets, he will be detained and his sleigh impounded.”      

Reached for comment at the North Pole, Santa’s head elf released a statement:  “We understand that the current pandemic has added a new layer of bureaucratic complexity to an already complicated world.  Santa is committed to playing it safe and following all executive and legislative orders.  That said, Santa knows which leaders have been bad or good, naughty or nice, and which have defied their own orders and dined on $500-a-plate dinners with wealthy donors.  So be good for goodness sake.”  

Trump seeking COVID eviction protection

President Trump today pulled the final arrow from his quiver, drew his bow and let it fly in a desperate attempt to remain in office.  Citing Tuesday’s DC Council vote to extend eviction protection for residents from December 31, 2020 until March 31, 2021, Trump has said he intends to remain in the White House.

“They can’t evict me.  The DC Council approved the public health emergency and Mayor Bowser extended the eviction ban.  I don’t know, I guess she likes me and wants to keep me around.  Can you blame her?” the president said in remarks to reporters.

The Trump team is claiming eviction protection on several fronts.  President Trump also urged the CDC to extend its Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19 order past the December 31, 2020 expiration date.

“Listen, the eviction ban was designed for people like me.  I earn less than $99,000 a year.  Hell, I don’t even take a salary.  I don’t report any net income to the IRS and haven’t for 35 years,” the president claimed.  “How can this city or this country in good conscience kick little old me and my family out into the cold in the middle of January during a pandemic?  C’mon, everybody, have a heart.”

DC officials were scrambling today to either repeal the eviction ban or find a way to target the White House specifically.  Some inside Mayor Bowser’s administration have suggested shutting off utility service to the White House, but face an uphill battle as the current order prohibits that action.

“Hey, don’t even think about shutting off my utilities,” the president warned.  “I plan on taking long hot showers with my new high-flow shower head for many months to come.”

Gargantuan alien monolith appears in small midwestern city

Residents of a sleepy midwestern city awoke Saturday morning to discover a four-story stone monolith in their midst.  Officials are at a loss to explain when exactly the towering structure appeared and how it got there.

“Friday night there was nothing there but an empty lot.  This morning there appeared a new addition to the city skyline.  We have no idea who put it there or how it was constructed.  There is no heavy equipment or machinery in sight, and the ground surrounding it is undisturbed,” said the city’s mayor who requested he and his town remain anonymous, fearing an onslaught of visitors to the area.

Local police reported no sightings of unidentified aerial phenomenon in the area overnight, leaving officials at a loss to explain how the monolith came to be at that spot on the downtown landscape. 

“I’m thinkin’ it was built underground and pushed up to the surface in the middle of the night,” said one local resident.

An engineering professor at a local university had another theory.  “What we’re most likely looking at is the product of some advanced nanotechnology of which we are presently unfamiliar.  If indeed aliens built this monolith, they probably directed a tiny, undetectable probe to the area from which millions of nanobots emerged and fabricated the structure.  Who knows, it may have been erected in a manner of minutes.”

Researchers at the site have confirmed they believe the monolith to be hollow.  Although the structure contains no doors or windows, researchers have said they can detect activity inside.

“Undoubtedly they’re building something inside the monolith.  What they’re building is anybody’s guess.  Maybe a transformer or some space/time portal,” said the professor.  “Whatever it is, we should know their intentions soon enough.”         

Update:  Moments before this story was issued for publication, authorities confirmed the alien monolith is actually a cinder block elevator shaft and part of a larger terrestrial construction project.  Turns out nobody paid any attention to it until all this monolith business began.

Senate passes historic one-week government funding bill. Family of four fails to secure funding for its one-week budget.

Americans can rest easy tonight knowing our elected officials have once again performed their duties admirably and passed a bill to fund the federal government for one more week.  The bill was passed by voice vote on Friday after several senators dropped their opposition.

In the meantime, a family of four in Benton Harbor, Michigan failed to pass its own stopgap funding measure after disagreements over how to spend their dwindling savings could not be resolved.  The stand-off centered on whether to spend their remaining money on rent, food, or Christmas gifts.

The world’s most deliberative body, on the other hand, crafted a masterful piece of legislation that relies exclusively on contributions of ordinary Americans to keep the federal government in business for one more week.  Many worried the senators would be unable to cobble a bill together by midnight, forcing a dreaded government shutdown.  But, hey, it’s Friday and the senators wanted to go home, so as if by magic their differences evaporated.

Meanwhile, the family in Benton Harbor attempted to make child care arrangements, as their schools, for which they pay taxes, are shut down for the entire month of December.  Also at issue is the increased food costs due to the unavailability of school lunches.  Additionally, the family is facing an increased tech budget brought about by virtual education.  Efforts to secure alternative sources of funding for these programs, so far, have been unsuccessful.  

Back in Washington, the senators, awash in a seemingly limitless supply of cash, vowed to reconvene next week to finally do something for the millions of Americans whose livelihoods have either been eliminated or put on hold by the government’s pandemic response.  The senators indicated they’re starting to suspect the $1200 checks they authorized eight months ago are beginning to dry up. 

Poverty is the villain in Edge of Doom

Most film noir depicts a man pushed around by malevolent or indifferent forces, causing him to make bad decisions and behave in ways totally out of character.  A world of moral ambiguity, pressures from a criminal underworld, the temptations of a dangerous woman can conspire to remove a man from a place of safety, complacency and moral respectability, and cast him into a world of uncertainty and danger from which, if he emerges with his life, he is forever wounded and scarred.  

Edge of Doom places its protagonist in a slightly different environment from typical noir.  It isn’t the sudden attention of a scheming blonde or the lure of fast riches that propels Martin Lynn’s world into chaos, it is poverty.  In Edge of Doom, living among the city’s poor means everyday navigating the edge of a pit of degradation and potential ruin into which anyone could be cast by countless ordinary life events.  When you’re poor and alone in the city, the stress of everyday existence is limitless and unceasing, and the threat of annihilation is always present.  

Played by Farley Granger, Martin Lynn would like to get enough money together to marry his girlfriend and move his mother to a climate more beneficial to her health.  Although his mother is devoted to her Catholic faith, Lynn still harbors a grudge against the church, and Father Kirkman in particular, for refusing to allow his father’s burial in consecrated ground due to suicide.  After Lynn’s boss refuses to give him a raise and his mother succumbs to her illness, a desperate Lynn, overcome by grief and alienation, attempts to secure a no expense spared, lavish funeral for his mother.  When Father Kirkman waves off Lynn’s unrealistic request, Lynn bashes him over the head with a brass crucifix, killing the priest in an act of impulsive violence.  For the rest of the night and the next day, Lynn is driven by an irrational, desperate obsession to assemble all the necessary pieces for a funeral befitting his mother. 

The film depicts Lynn alone with his grief.  In the moments after his mother’s death, a stunned Lynn emerges from the apartment into a noisy hallway where he gets little sympathy from his neighbors.  The residents of his building have struggles of their own.  Packed into small apartments, their lives spill out into the hall.  One neighbor can barely be bothered to give up the phone so the priest can be notified.  To the extent this neighbor offers a sympathetic word to Lynn, it is to horn in on any potential life insurance pay out.  Out on the street, Lynn moves through a sea of indifferent souls, he runs and pushes manically from location to location, killing Father Kirkman and threatening violence against others who don’t share his urgency and are unwilling to help.  

In one scene, unbeknownst to Lynn, his neighbor has robbed a theater box office.  A crowd of gawkers gathers to catch a glimpse of the commotion.  Lynn attempts to navigate past the crowd, but as they press in, he keeps getting shoved back toward the crime scene.  Eventually the cops witness him running from the throng, and he becomes a suspect in the robbery.  The scene is a metaphor for one of the larger themes in the movie.  A poor man in a crowded city is hardly free to pursue his own will and desires, but instead is pushed around and tossed about arbitrarily by the city itself, sometimes leading to his downfall.  To be poor in this environment invites a ceaseless struggle to maintain one’s dignity, to do what is right, and to live a simple and fulfilled life.  In this respect the film seems a precursor to some of the “urban loner” themed movies that would emerge in the seventies. 

The on location shooting and deep focus visual framing of the city streets call attention to it as more than just setting but as an additional character in the film.  The city, its streets, and the crush of its inhabitants comprise an indifferent force acting upon individuals, especially the poor.  The city does not care, but to it’s poor residents, it can seem like it possesses malevolent intentions.  In one scene, Father Roth, played by Dana Andrews, comes to blows with a parishioner who beats his wife.  After Roth kicks the man’s ass, the wife, who only moments earlier pleaded with Father Roth to help her, ends up comforting her husband, even as the man threatens to beat her when they get home.  The scene is strange in that it has nothing to do with the plot of the film, but is certainly in keeping with the idea that the city imposes its will on the poor and can elicit violence from even the most morally upright of its residents.  It also shows how its poor can become conditioned to accept violence as an ordinary part of life.  The film’s visual style and these strangely placed scenes of social commentary lend a bit of a documentary feel to it.

Lynn’s desperate journey through the city’s streets finally brings him back to his mother’s side, as she lay in her casket, made ready for her funeral.  Reminded of his mother’s faith, Lynn receives God’s grace by admitting that he killed Father Kirkman.  By this time, Father Roth has already solved the case, but rather than rush to arrest Lynn, Roth and the detectives permit him to make peace with God through confession to his deceased mother.  The film’s message seems to convey that although the poverty and squalor of the city can cause a man to degrade himself in unspeakable ways, God’s grace through faith offers transcendence from even the most awful circumstances.