For more than 50 years, Russell took shots at all sectors of the political spectrum with stand-up monologues and song parodies. He was best known for his PBS specials, which he taped six times a year from 1975 to 2004. His routines, which he sang and performed on piano, covered the latest political news with timely lyrical updates of classic songs.
He was remembered by former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, who said, "Mark Russell was a DC institution who did the hardest thing a comic can do...relentlessly and righteously mock his neighbors."
Beginning in the early 1960s, he was a regular entertainer at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. and did his first PBS show in 1975. From 1979 to 1984, he was a correspondent on the NBC reality TV show Real People. He also made brief appearances on all six episodes of the short lived Starland Vocal Band Show (CBS) during the summer of 1977. 
Russell's song parodies employed melodies from old standards with new humorous lyrics pertinent to the subject matter. For example, in 1990, following the execution of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, Russell did a parody song on his show to the tune of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo". ("Pardon me, boys / Are you the cats who shot Ceauşescu?") Russell himself admitted that most of his jokes and songs are very topical and have "a shelf life shorter than cottage cheese".
Russell's humor is known for having skewered Democrats and Republicans as well as third party, independent politicians and other prominent political (and sometimes nonpolitical) figures.
Russell wss often asked the question "Do you have any writers?" His standard response is "Oh, yes. I have 535 writers: One hundred in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives!" When asked if his views on current events are too caustic, Russell replied, "I follow the old newsman's adage. As they say, 'I don't make the news. I just report it.' And in my case, I don't even make the jokes. I just report them as they masquerade as news."
For several years, on the Sunday before Labor Day, Russell made annual appearances on Meet the Press, which was hosted from 1991 to 2008 by Tim Russert, also a Canisius High graduate.
Now here is a clip of Mr. Russell in action. So you can judge for yourselves.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
The Senate on Wednesday voted to repeal a pair of Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) with bipartisan support, taking a step toward closing the door on the Iraq War 20 years after it started.
Senators voted 66-30 to officially repeal the 1991 authorization for the Gulf War and the 2002 AUMF that opened the door to the Iraq War the following March.
Murray, Tester, Brown Announce Comprehensive Bill to Overhaul VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization Program
Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Appropriations Committees leaders spearhead effort to restructure, enhance, and improve the new EHR program while increasing oversight on behalf of veterans, VA personnel, and taxpayers
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are spearheading a legislative push to deliver a complete overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program.
The Senators will be introducing comprehensive legislation in the coming days that would require VA to implement a series of EHRM reforms to better serve veterans, medical personnel, and taxpayers. Their bill would restructure, enhance, and strengthen the entire EHRM program while also mandating aggressive reporting to Congress to increase oversight, accountability, and transparency following a series of challenges with the system and program, including those found in VA’s recent EHRM Sprint Report and a review from the Government Accountability Office. This is just the latest in a series of challenges related to the program which launched in 2017 and was deployed at the first VA hospital in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have been clear from the start -- VA cannot continue with its current EHR system until it works for providers and keeps patients safe. This legislation will put into law the kind of aggressive oversight necessary to fix the current system -- that's my first priority,” said Senator Murray. “Importantly, this set of reforms will also overhaul the contracts and acquisitions process so that the issues we’ve seen these last few years can be prevented in the future. I want to make sure the dedicated providers at VA can do their jobs and that our veterans are getting the high quality care they have earned and deserve. Let’s pass the EHR Program RESET Act as soon as possible.”
“It’s clear that the new EHR system is failing veterans, medical personnel, and taxpayers, and we need aggressive measures to right this ship and get a better return on investment through this contract,” said Chairman Tester. “That’s why my colleagues and I are putting forth comprehensive legislation to increase transparency and oversight over the new electronic health record system—holding VA and Oracle Cerner accountable on behalf of the men and women who risked their lives to defend our country. Veterans deserve nothing less, and I won’t back down from our continued commitment to safely deliver them the health care they need and earned.”
“Too many veterans and workers have faced confusion and unnecessary problems because of VA’s Electronic Health Record rollout. VA needs a reset, and must meet specific metrics on patient safety, cost, and VA employee productivity, to improve morale and improve veterans’ experiences when they turn to the VA for care,” said Senator Brown. “As VA employees at Chalmers in Columbus continue to work through issues related to Oracle Cerner’s product, I’ll continue fighting for them, and for the veterans they serve, to improve this program before the Department moves forward with any other VA facilities.”
Among its many provisions, the Senators’ legislation would require VA to:
- Develop clear metrics to guide whether and how VA should go forward with the new EHR at additional VA facilities and require additional resources to support those facilities;
- Require VA and Oracle Cerner to fix the technology features connected to the health safety and delivery issues found in VA’s March 2023 Sprint Report;
- Not move forward with the new EHR at other VA health facilities until the data at the existing five facilities demonstrates an ability to deliver health care to veterans at standards that surpass metrics using VA’s VistA system or that meet national health operations standards as determined by the Under Secretary for Health;
- Appoint a lead senior negotiator and leverage other federal agencies and independent outside experts to offer advice and strategies for managing aggressive EHR contract negotiations with Oracle Cerner to protect taxpayers and veterans;
- Develop an alternative “Plan B” strategy for a new EHR in the event Oracle Cerner will not agree to new contract terms that protect taxpayers and increase accountability and penalties for poor performance or when VA data shows it cannot get the technology to work to serve veterans efficiently and safely;
- Reform major acquisitions at VA to prevent future programs with poor contracting, oversight, management, and planning from occurring; and
- Require an existing VA Advisory Committee to add health care experts with proven experience implementing EHR deployments to advise VA leaders on potential strategies on how to improve VA EHRM’s implementation based on prior lessons learned in the private and non-profit health sectors.
The legislation would also require the Department of Defense (DoD) to report to Congress quarterly on steps it is taking fix DoD information technology systems, including those which are outdated and are negatively impacting VA’s ability to deliver health care, benefits, and other services, including through the new EHR.
Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, a conflict that was broadcast into our living rooms on our TV sets in great detail thanks to the many reporters who were allowed to become “embedded” with U.S. troops as they made their way across the battlefields of Iraq.
Some commentators today refer to the War in Iraq as a mistake, but that implies a mere error in judgment. However, that assessment completely ignores the simple fact that the war was predicated on a deliberately-false narrative.
Republican Senator JD Vance tweeted that the left needed to do some “soul searching” over the Nashville shooting because the shooter was trans and targeted a Christian school. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, his fellow Republican, blamed the “hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness” the shooter may have been on for the violence, adding that “everyone can stop blaming guns now.” Tucker Carlson, meanwhile, called transgender people the “natural enemy” of Christianity in a hateful tirade on his Fox News show.
These comments are all part of an emerging narrative on the right that seeks to turn an isolated incident – only three mass shooters out of over 300 since 2009 have been trans – into a rallying cry for further hate and violence against the LGBTQ community. We must reject this narrative because the reverse is true.
The right is the radicalized threat to public safety, not the LGBTQ community. I have the receipts to prove it.
If folks like Vance, Greene, and Carlson are concerned about sectarian violence in the United States – and we all should be, given its ubiquity in modern America – they ought to take a step back and consider the rhetoric they use to demonize and dehumanize their political opponents, the laws they pass targeting them, and the actions they take to harm them. They ought to also consider the use of violence on their own side.
Just last week, far-right extremists shut down an all-ages drag show in Kentucky with threats of violence knowing children would be present. In New Mexico, a defeated Republican candidate paid four men to shoot up the homes of four elected Democratic officials. Last year, a far-right extremist with ties to QAnon broke into then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and bludgeoned her husband, Paul, with a hammer. And then, of course, there was the January 6 insurrection – which was an act of far-right political violence whether Greene, Vance, or Carlson admit it or not.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson stoked anti-trans fears in the wake of Monday's Nashville school shooting, warning of what he described as the rising threat of "trans terrorism."
Carlson cited the deadly shooting at the Covenant School, a private Christian school, to assert a broad and unfounded claim that trans people are waging a war against Christians.
"Why are some trans people so angry, and why do they seem to be mad specifically at traditional Christians?" Carlson asked.
What is FOX "NEWS" to do? Haters in poverty and struggling watch FOX NEWS over the airwaves -- a low income group which effects advertising rates. And when FOX NEWS owned FOX entertainment, that was good for the bottom line. But ABC-DISNEY-et all now owns FOX entertainment. So the free viewers continue. But advertising alone's not making it these days. Which is why they started FOX NATION. But, bit of a problem, the people who signed up for it -- a two week trial or even for a full month? They're leaving. And they're not leaving silently. The feedback FOX NATION is getting -- and they do ask for feedback when you cancel your subscription -- is that there are too many hateful attacks on LGBTQ+. They're getting comments like that. Some of the comments include statements such as "I'm not a supporter of gay people but even for me it's too much with the attacks."
Tucker brings in the freeloaders, no surprise there. But FOX "NEWS" is going to have to figure out another way to get people to pay for content because those who sampled the for-pay service are not impressed with Mother Tucker.
In the real world, people have to live with the hate Mother Tucker stokes. QUEER NEWS TONIGHT notes Nebraska state senator John Fredrickson.
It takes a lot of courage on the part of the LGBTQ+ community in this country as elements of the right-wing push for a holy war -- that's the only term for it -- against LGBTQ+ persons.
South Central Michigan Greens