Pat Paulsen (on America’s problems)

ON and ON, and over and over, it’s Hil and Bernie Marching as to (what?), but it’s mainly Trump and More Trump and All Those Other Guys. I’m grateful for the ability to occasionally enjoy the theatre of it, or else my seriousness/desperation/fear/loathing might get the best of me. (Besides, it’s Only The Old World Order, folks.) And sometimes it does, get the best of me, that is, my worry for the American future, I mean.

'68 or '72, I'm guessing.

’68 or ’72, I’m guessing.

And then random @CitizenWald tweeted a Pat Paulsen quote. Remember him? (Pat Paulsen, I mean, not CitizenWald.) Hangdog expression and a dryer-than-California monotone delivery. Comedian, best known for appearances on The Smothers Brothers show – and that’s going back a year or 40 – and then for quadrennial mock runs at the U.S. Presidency. AtCitizenWald tweeted one of his campaign slogans:

“I’ve Upped My Standards. Now UP YOURS.”

Paulsen died in ’97, having “run” in every Presidential election from ’68 to ’96. He got over 10,000 votes one time. Other slogans of his seriously ridiculous campaigns:

“If elected, I will win”


“We have nothing to fear but fear itself – and, of course, the boogieman.”

His campaign supporters (there were some) would chant thusly their longing for change:

“We can’t stand Pat!”

Most of it was silliness, and fairly gentle but still pointed mockery of the grand seriousness of what is essentially a popularity contest, not much different than elections for Prom King. Yet there was smart sociopolitical commentary there, too;

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No Academy Award — Just Light in a Dark, Dark Room

My friend Sherri asked me to help out with an event she was helping to organize. So I did. I got to see a woefully underviewed but important film. For free. And I hardly had to do anything, but I got to write this:

Sherri Yazdani is a prairie girl, but as her surname suggests, she married into an Iranian family. Sherri is a mother, a storyteller, a lawyer, and when she stood in front of a nearly full auditorium in my city, she stood for human rights victims half a world away, yet not far from her family. She was a symbol, without making any fuss. She was there to bear witness to the ongoing, and indeed worsening, situation of the Baha’i community of Iran — maybe you’ve heard about this? — and to introduce the Ottawa screening of the documentary film To Light a Candle. She was one of several voices that brought local accents to its stirring international subject.


Bahari is on the right, and that's Jon Stewart in the middle. (Sorry, other guy!)

That’s Jon Stewart in the middle, actor Gael Garcia Bernal on the left, and on the right, the man he portrayed in Rosewater, Maziar Bahari. (Thanks, Sherri, for the edit!)

Canadians familiar with Maziar Bahari likely know him from the 2014 Jon Stewart biopic Rosewater, or perhaps from the Iranian-Canadian Bahari’s best-selling memoir Then They Came For Me, the book that inspired Stewart to make his directoral debut. However, before his now-famous stay and forced “confession” in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison following the suspicious 2009 elections, Mr. Bahari was Newsweek’s Iran correspondent and the award-winning maker of numerous documentaries. His most recent film is To Light a Candle.

Mr. Bahari, as part of a global campaign (, chose February 27 as an international day of conscience and awareness, and many Canadian communities screened To Light a Candle, supporting Bahari’s efforts to spotlight another notable injustice from his homeland: the Iranian government’s denial of education to Baha’i youth. (Bahari is not a Baha’i himself.) Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including South Africa’s Desmond Tutu¹ and Iran’s Shirin Ebadi, joined with Mr. Bahari and many other notable artists and public figures in speaking up for the beleaguered Baha’i community of Iran.

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John Oliver (on the “cartoonishly evil” FIFA)

“There are now allegations that some FIFA executives took bribes to put the World Cup in Qatar. And I hope that’s true, because otherwise it makes literally no sense….You are hosting the World Cup somewhere where soccer cannot physically be played [because of the heat]. That’s like if the NFL chose to host the Super Bowl in a lake….FIFA is just appalling, and yet, here’s their power: I am still so excited about the World Cup next week.”

John Oliver (1977-) is a British comedian and satirist. His “Last Week Tonight” show on HBO is not unlike Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show”, where he got his start on the west side of the Atlantic. So: though many Americans are reflexively antagonistic to somebody with an accent (different from theirs) on their airwaves, he has a pretty big fan club. He’s no Republican, though, and many Americans must hate him because he’s “smug” (all Brits and Frenchies are smug) and he laughs at stuff that might otherwise make him scream. He can mock himself, too, but it’s mainly the rich and entitled that he skewers. Mockery of the powers that be is a guilty pleasure. I’m slightly conflicted about it, but I’d rather laugh than rage. Mostly.

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