The Duke is in the Altogether

It takes a satire site, apparently, to tell the truth and spare us some of the craziness being promoted every day. I’m talking about South Park, though others like the Babylon Bee daily skewer the imbecilic nonsense found in the mainstream press and televised news.

For some time now the duke and duchess of Sussex have been playing the victims from a background of great luxury, demanding privacy as they seek maximum publicity. Like me, South Park had enough of this and ran a fabulous parody of the couple doing a Worldwide Privacy Tour. I kept hearing Danny Kaye singing “The King is in the Altogether” about the Emperor’s new clothes that weren’t as I watched this.

At last, these odious grifters were called on their game.

The episode follows cartoon characters who claim to want to stay out of the spotlight but go on various talk shows. They resemble the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but aren’t given their official names on the show. If you missed the episode, or even if you saw it but missed some Easter eggs, here’s what you need to know. [snip] in real life, Meghan Markle has given interviews to several outlets such as Vogue and Variety. In the episode, the Meghan-like character is shown on the cover of fictional magazine “G2.” The cover says “Princess Anus.” This is a play on words of the Latin phrase that appeared on her real-life GQ cover -- “Meghan’s annus mirabilis” -- which translates to “Meghan’s wonderful year.” [snip] Harry and Meghan famously sat down with Oprah in real life, in addition to releasing a six-part Netflix documentary about their relationship. Many have pointed out that their endless self-promotion is at odds with their supposed desire for privacy. 

On the show, the characters appear on “Good Morning Canada” to claim that they want privacy. The Meghan character holds a sign reading: “Stop looking at us” while the Harry character’s sign reads, “We want our privacy.”

It's all wonderful, if you haven’t seen it, please do.

It’s so hard to parody the lunacy around us that many times people take the posts from Babylon Bee as real news. Here are a few of the many ludicrous things we saw this week.

East Palestine, Ohio

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg finally showed up at the site of the tragic railroad derailment that has cost the citizens there so much. He earlier had eschewed even mentioning it, choosing instead to complain that there were too many white men in construction. (He's wrong: whites are actually undrrepresented compared to their share of the population.) When he did, he opted for photo ops showing him in a hard hat and construction worker’s vest only to blame Donald Trump’s deregulation for the cause of the accident. While the investigation into the cause of the destruction is ongoing, however, the National Safety Transportation Board’s chair Jennifer Homenday contended that claim was bunk.

“The NTSB has looked at electronically controlled pneumatic braking for a number of years and we did some testing as well. Certainly, it would improve safety. But for this investigation and for this derailment, ECP brakes would not have prevented the derailment. The wheel bearing failed on car number 23, so even with ECP brakes, the derailment would have occurred, the fire would have ensued, and the five vinyl chloride tank cars would still have to be vented and burned. What it could have done was maybe reduced damage where a couple of cars could have remained on the tracks, but we’re going to do some modeling along with the Federal Railroad Administration to determine just that.” 

ESG and poor safety and environmental consequences

On the other hand, the largest shareholders in the Norfolk Southern railroad are the biggest proponents of the Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) policies which have proven over and again to provide worse returns than investments following traditional fiduciary criteria like capital, reasonably predictable growth and profits earned. And this railroad stock just tumbled. It could be that while virtue signaling ESG, investing it ignored due care in managing their operations, instead  with lavish donations to the administration, it achieved benefits which may have had an impact on worker and community safety. from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows that the railroad industry has shed 30% of its workforce since 2015, despite posting strong profits over roughly the same time frame. Railworker unions in the U.S. engaged in negotiations with major freight companies in an effort to address some of these issues in 2022, but were halted after President Biden signed a bill in December to prevent a nationwide strike before the holiday season. Instead, President Biden ordered unions to implement a new labor contract that more than half of the unions had previously rejected.

An Obama-era regulation implemented tougher standards for trains carrying 20 or more cars containing high-hazard flammable materials, such as extra locks on locomotives, additional briefings for train crews, and electronically controlled pneumatic brakes. Norfolk Southern and other major rail companies heavily lobbied against this measure, arguing that it had “serious concerns about the ECP brake requirements and the potential adverse impacts on the fluidity of the national freight network,” according to the Norfolk Southern 2015 lobbying disclosure and a report by USA Today.

Nonetheless, Gov. DeWine said Tuesday that according to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the train involved in Norfolk Southern’s derailment on Feb. 3 wasn’t categorized as a high-hazard materials train and as such, it wasn’t required to notify officials in Ohio or comply with these additional safety regulations. 

In spite of safety concerns stemming from lower staffing levels and longer, heavier trains, major railroad companies have continued to push for looser safety requirements for trains carrying hazardous chemicals. The train that derailed on Feb. 3 stretched for more than one mile and was composed of 150 cars, 20 of which were carrying dangerous chemicals, but was only manned by a crew of three people, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. For more than a decade, the Association of American Railroads, which represents Norfolk and other railroad companies, has pushed for one-person crews, a measure that railroad unions continue to vote down, citing substantial safety risks. 

The aforementioned Obama-era regulation for hazardous materials only included trains carrying a certain amount of class 3 flammables, which excludes the chemicals involved in Norfolk’s recent derailment. 

ABC’s The View

I never understood why anyone watches “The View,” except maybe shut-ins too weak to hit the remote. This week, its Yenta-in-Chief, Joy Behar, said the disaster was the fault of the citizens of East Palestine because they voted for Trump. We’ll see how much longer this fount of moronic, highly emotional, partisan, and just nasty disinformation lasts, because Fox has wised up and is bringing back Roseanne Barr, who had wrongfully been pulled from her very popular show by ABC. She’s going to be in opposition to “The View,” and I expect it will be curtains for the ABC program. It already has suffered a ratings decline over Whoopi Goldberg’s ill-informed views on the Holocaust, Jews, and Nazi Germany. Why in the world are network executives so highly compensated for regularly evincing such poor business conduct?

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