Now Be Thankful

I like Thanksgiving and I like ritual, which is why I’m posting this song for the fourth year in a row:

Just remember to never cut the toikey without me:

Who Needs Facts When Myths Will Do?

From Album 5

If you haven’t already seen it, Matt Taibbi looks at what happens when an entire generation or so buys into “facts are stupid things,” an-empire-versus-the-reality-based-community, Sarah Palin as somehow qualified to run for high office, etc., … and now the traveling clown show that is the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. Take a look if you’d like an easy read before or after a holiday nap or if you need a break from whatever is happening where you are.

Otherwise…I guess reflecting on today’s celebration, I feel thankful that despite my conservative parents, I never bought into the mythology, and at my relatively advanced age I’m beginning to understand why.

Have a Happy Holiday.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Thursday Turkey Murders

If your crazy right wing Uncle who watches too much Fox News goes off on you today, please do not re-enact this book.

How about some cheesecake for dessert?

Thursday Thanksgiving Murders

Wingnuts: The Musical

Apparently, Buckley’s brain child, the National Review is celebrating its 60th Anniversary of spewing nonsense. They decided to celebrate with a deeply silly animated video featuring Buckley doing the old soft shoe with Reagan, Goldwater, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II. I am not making this up:

What? No Tricky Dick, Strom Thurmond, or Jesse Helms? They’re the real patron saints of your movement.

Via Charlie Pierce.  Oy, just oy.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Introducing The Eleventh House

The Eleventh House with Larry Coryell were an early jazz-prog-rock fusion band. They were also one of the best because of guitarist Coryell, trumpeter Randy Brecker, and the funky drum stylings of Alphonse Mouzon. Their first LP also has a swell cover by surrealist artist, Jacques Wyrs:


Here’s the LP in the YouTube playlist format:


It’s Never About the Bad Apples

A Chicago police officer shot a guy, has been charged with murder, and people are going full ALL LIVES MATTER on it, natch: 

Last December, Kalven and Futterman issued a statement revealing the existence of a dash-cam video and calling for its release.  Kalven tracked down a witness to the shooting, who said he and other witnesses had been “shooed away” from the scene with no statements or contact information taken.

In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times—as Van Dyke unloaded his service revolver, execution style—while McDonald lay on the ground.

The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops. The settlement included a provision keeping the video confidential.

“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Kalven said.  “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.”  To him this response is “part of a systemic problem” and preserves “the underlying conditions that allow abuse and shield abuse.”

And everybody is urging “the black community” to remain calm, as if “the black community” shot a guy 16 times while he lay on the ground. The state’s attorney, during her press conference, mentioned “a few bad apples” to assuage the ONLY COPS MATTER crowd, not that anything will:

Which is beyond the point. Which is about 400 miles beyond the point. Of course there are bad apples who go too far and break the law. The point is that the law is then supposed to stop them. The law is not then supposed to delete security video from a nearby Burger King, intimidate witnesses, buy silence, and then act as if its sacred honor is being impugned when called on its shit.

“This was an incredible test of leadership, a major challenge to [Emanuel’s] leadership,” Kalven said.  “Think how different the situation would be right now if the city had acknowledged the reality of what happened in the days or weeks after it happened. That would have built confidence.”

And instead of vague and politically self-serving calls for “healing,” it could have begun a real process of accountability of the kind necessary to start addressing the extreme alienation between police and wide segments of our communities.

Instead, with only Van Dyke indicted, it looks like he’s being sacrificed in order to protect the system that created him.

Any entrenched power structure will protect itself, first last and always. This is one of those rules of the world that once you see it, you see the strings that suspend everything, and you never ask how could this happen.

How could this happen, when you make a club, tell everyone in it they are virtuous in ways those outside it are not, create oaths of allegiance and make people swear them, create secret rituals and forbid talking about them, cloak your daily activities in the language of the wars of civilizations and make it plain the penalty for questioning this entire bucketload of bullshit is ostracization from what you have become convinced is the only family that truly cares for you?

How could this happen? How could it not? The Catholic Church, Penn State, political parties that hide members’ malfeasance, universities that chastise rape victims … they’re all power protecting itself. How could this happen? It happens over and over, all the time, and once you see it you see it everywhere. It happened in this case. It happened here.


Poor White People Don’t Vote Against Their Interests Because They Don’t Vote

An important point as we all sit around and talk about why the dumb hicks are being dumb hicks: 

Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts. West Virginia ranked 50th for turnout in 2012; also in the bottom 10 were other states that have shifted sharply red in recent years, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

In the spring of 2012, I visited a free weekend medical and dental clinic run by the organization Remote Area Medical in the foothills of southern Tennessee. I wanted to ask the hundreds of uninsured people flocking to the clinic what they thought of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, whose fate was about to be decided by the Supreme Court.

I was expecting a “What’s the Matter With Kansas” reaction — anger at the president who had signed the law geared to help them. Instead, I found sympathy for Mr. Obama. But had they voted for him? Of course not — almost no one I spoke with voted, in local, state or national elections. Not only that, but they had barely heard of the health care law.

Nobody is talking to them. Nobody. I’m goddamn sick of hearing the condescending crap that poor white people vote against their own best interests. NO THEY DON’T. They don’t vote, period, because nobody has made them a priority. Not Republicans and not Democrats who are trying to act like Republicans, not for the last 40 years at least. Nobody has given a shit about these people since RFK and we’re gonna sit here and talk about how they’re just too dumb to know they’re going to get screwed? Thank you, no.

Where exactly are they supposed to get their information, by the way? If these people have been abandoned by politicians they’ve also been abandoned by news organizations that are supposed to be making a good faith effort to inform them. Who covers poor communities? I used to do it and I’ll tell you who does it: No one. Unless there’s a shooting, a convenient lesson to package up as a cautionary tale for scared rich suburbanites, no one covers the poorest communities in America. There’s no advertising to be sold there, no subscriptions, and certainly nobody there is signing up for the newest hyperlocal app, so fuck those places and those people, they don’t deserve the news.

This ignorance isn’t about anything other than we threw these people out and we get mad that they don’t care about what we care about. It’s nonsense. When is the last time a presidential candidate spoke to them? When is the last time a campaign put resources where it never had before and got poor people to vote? When is the last time anyone fought for them?

I mean it. When?


The Political Obituary Of David Vitter


Screenshot from a GumboPac ad.

I don’t usually take politics personally. I did as a young political junkie but it was too painful when my candidate lost. I’ve always made an exception for David Vitter. This FB status I posted yesterday sums it up:

David Vitter has been media shy since 2007. I cannot imagine why. Before that he was a local media whore. He was on the New Orleans stations so often as a State Rep and a Congressman that I called him Live Shot. It was when my hatred for him grew like poison ivy. He was a sanctimonious dweeb who went on and on about “conservative reform” and how he planned to clean up the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He was strident and annoying albeit in dorky way. Very little has changed in that regard. Vitter never owed his political success to his oratorical prowess.

Vitter is the sort of politician who went hunting for witches and burned them whenever possible. It’s the root of his epic dispute with Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and his predecessor and mentor Harry Lee. I’ll let Stephanie Grace clue you in:

Vitter was first elected to the state House in 1991, the same year ethically compromised Edwin Edwards returned to the Governor’s Mansion for a fourth term. The young, ambitious legislator from Metairie wasted no time positioning himself as a prominent adversary to the governor, largely on issues surrounding the state’s fledgling gambling industry and other ethical matters.

Vitter also aimed his ammunition closer to home, including at the parish’s then-sheriff, the late, larger-than-life Harry Lee. Lee was a member of Edwards’ circle, a supporter of gambling and a man who saw no conflict in his job as chief law enforcement officer and, say, his personal friendship with a convicted felon. Lee viewed Vitter as little more than a self-righteous grandstander. He and Vitter clashed repeatedly and wound up in court several times, and it was Vitter who inspired one of Lee’s most memorable quips.

“My job is to catch crooks,” Lee said, and “my hobby is to expose hypocrites.”


It wasn’t just Vitter’s habit of targeting fellow politicians, his push for term limits and sunshine on their cozy Tulane scholarship insider deals, and his habit of filing ethics complaints that made him an outcast, his enemies would say. It also was his personality, his adversarial attitude, his willingness to do anything to grab a headline or simply to win. When Vitter ran for Congress in 1999, most of his colleagues opposed his bid…

That’s Bitter Vitter in a wingnut shell. A hypocrite who specialized in burning bridges all the while lecturing his colleagues about how pure and noble he was. I’ll give him credit for his willingness to take on someone like Harry Lee who was the most popular figure in Jefferson Parish for most of time as Sheriff. It’s fitting that taking on the current Sheriff was part of his undoing. Here’s a 2007 picture of Lee and Normand:

STAFF PHOTO BY RUSTY COSTANZA Sheriff Harry Lee announced today, Thursday, August 16, 2007, that his cancer has returned.He maintained his usual sense of humor and also announced that will run for re-election. Chief Deputy Newell Normand, second in command at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, is on the right.

TP staff photograph by Rusty Costanza.

If there’s an afterlife, I’m sure that Harry danced a Chinese Cowboy jig on Diaper Dave’s grave. I hear that Sheriff Normand had a helluva time at the Edwards victory party. Hope he had one for Harry.

One of the main reasons Vitter got skunked in the runoff is the way he treated his fellow Republicans. He was as arrogant and patronizing to them as he was to everyone else. The attack ads he ran in the primary against fellow GOPers Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne alienated scores of Gret Stet Republicans. It was too much for many of them to swallow. Vitter violated the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. It’s an appropriate image since Vitter dug his own political grave by running the wrong campaign at the wrong time. 

In addition to Vitter’s political death, there’s something else to celebrate. His anti-Syrian refugee scare tactics did not work. Edwards’ lead held up under the assault even though he was not exactly a profile of courage on the issue. The most important thing was to defeat Vitter.

David Vitter is the only politician I’ve ever compared to Richard Nixon as a human being. Nixonian lies and dirty tricks are staples in the political pantry of the current Republican party. It’s Tricky Dick’s party, not Ronnie’s. It’s more personal than that: like Nixon, Vitter is a loner who seems consumed with resentment over his treatment by the media and political establishment. Like Nixon, Vitter’s life seems to be an ongoing pity party. And like Nixon, Vitter is a paranoid motherfucker. They both had a vice that contributed to their undoing, for Tricky it was booze. We know what it was for Diaper Dave:

BOOM ad.

The BOOM ad screenshot via CenLamar

The whole spygate saga opened a window into Bitter Vitter’s style and personality. He is a vengeful and vindictive person, which is why it’s such a relief that he won’t control the State Police. We’ll never know if Vitter would have tried to use the LSP as a political tool but I, for one, am glad that it’s not even a possibility.

While we’re walking the scandal beat, I’d like to give Jason Brad Berry and Lamar White props for their role in Diaper Dave’s downfall. Jason kept pursuing the hooker story and Lamar used it as cudgel against Vitter. Well played, y’all.

I take great personal satisfaction in writing Vitter’s political obituary, but I know that his NOT running for re-election will make it easier for the GOP to hold his seat in 2016. I think it would have gone to a Goper in any event. Once again, the priority was taking out Bitter Vitter. When he lost Jefferson Parish to a Democrat, his political career was over. I must admit that I’ll miss having David Vitter to kick around but I am relieved that he will not be my Governor.

Deep Blog and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about Vitter’s political demise so I’ll give him the last word:

I think his legacy is two-fold: First, he did more than any other individual to make Louisiana a solidly Republican state through party building at the grass roots level, precise messaging, very successful fundraising and unrelenting criticism of the opposing party.

Second, he proved that fear, anger and intimidation are still powerful political weapons, especially in the hands of someone without a conscience, but the oldest rule in politics is still “What goes around comes around,” and if you spend an entire career fucking over people you’re supposed to work WITH, sooner or later you’re going to be hoist on your own pee-tard–probably in a very ugly and public manner

What goes into creating an “Obsession” post

Hi, good people! Ms. A has given me permission to take a mental health day (week). Here’s what prompted it:

In the middle of a “Kill all the ragheads” thread (which is about all there is on Free Republic lately):

To: robowombat

You can kill them, you can bomb them, you can even nuke them, but until the magic space rock in Mecca is turned into a sizzling pile of oozing glass, there will always be more of them.

13 posted on 11/18/2015, 11:43:24 PM by tcrlaf (They told me it could never happen in America. And then it did….)

Another Freeper tried to point out that this is making common cause with daesh, but nobody noticed or responded to him :

To: tcrlaf
“but until the magic space rock in Mecca is turned into a sizzling pile of oozing glass, there will always be more of them.”

Actually that’s what ISIS wants, they think it represents Idolatry, instead of “true” Islam.

14 posted on 11/18/2015, 11:44:40 PM by dfwgator

That’s when I realized that I just couldn’t do it this week.

Here’s why:

The posts you see every Monday morning take from 1.5 to 3 hours to compose (and debug/edit spacing and fonts), but that’s not the hard part.

The hard part is wading through the muck in the first place.

I browse Freeperville every other day or so. It’s a target-rich environment, and my trouble is not finding stupidity, but having to read so much of it to select the little nuggets you see here on First Draft. Selecting the threads is only the first step. Now I have to read up to 1,000 comments on each one.  All of them. Then I select the comments I’m going to use, and in which order. This means reading them again. Then, and only then, I can start assembling the post.

Some days I do it with a smile on my face, some days I just sit here, jaw agape like a Tex Avery Bulldog, trying to fathom how these people can even exist. Last week I had one of the Bulldog days.

I’ll be back next Monday, even if it means mining some old threads for fool fodder. Perhaps in the intervening week, the Freepers will have moved on from wanting to nuke Mecca to wanting to nuke Belgium.


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Louisiana Politics: Gret Stet Goober Race Wrap Up Act Two

I had a classic blogger moment on social media this morning. An old friend in California asked me how it was possible that David Vitter lost because she’d heard he was a shoo-in. I told her to read my posts and to ignore the national MSM. They have an eerie tendency to engage in group think: Louisiana is a red state therefore it’s impossible for such a thing to happen. This is classic rotation in office, after 8 years of a GOP Goober making a mess of things, the voters elected a Democrat. So many people are locked into the Red state/Blue state narrative that they forget candidates and records matter. That ends this brief lecture on civics.

Let’s get on with some random and discursive comments via my beloved sub-headers:

The Polls Were Right: Many of my friends were freaking out before the election because they expected the worst of the electorate. I could not blame them. Underneath my calm exterior, the hateful refugee baiting made me feel as if I’d consumed 12 cups of coffee. Jittery and overcaffeinated. I fell back on Andrew Tuozzolo’s poll aggregate, which showed Vitter trailing by 12 points. The pollsters nailed it.

Why were the polls right here and not in the Bevin-Conway Kentucky Goober race? The polls there were fewer in number and conducted more sporadically. Politics in the Gret Stet is a major form of entertainment, which means that more frequent pulse taking is no gret surprise…

The Picayune Factor: Once again, the Vestigial-Picayune got it wrong in a glowing endorsement of Bitter Vitter. Instead of being honest and saying, “he may be an asshole but he’s our asshole,” they went on and on about his effectiveness. They came within an inch of calling him a divider, not a uniter. Some uniter, he lost his home parish.

Speaking of the Zombie-Picayune, my friend Kevin Allman has this to say about that:

Let me spell it out: Fuck you sideways, Advance Media fuckheads. The picture in question came from the Instagram page of one of JBE’s communications peeps:


Photograph via MP Kray.

Since our next section involves half of what you see in the picture below, we’ll discuss it after the break. Think of it as the blogging equivalent of wrapping it in plain brown paper if you catch my drift. But first Welcome to Sleazy Town courtesy of the Krewe of Spank:

Hookers & Blow

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Democrats Who Voted for SAFE Act are Cowards & Traitors

Once upon a time: 

What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq?

What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?

What I want to know, is why the Congress is fighting over the Patient’s Bill of Rights?  If the Patient’s Bill of Rights passes, is a good bill, but not one more person gets health insurance and it’s not five cents cheaper.

What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America?

What I want to know, what I want to know, is why so many folks in Congress are voting for the President’s education bill — “The No School Board Left Standing Bill” — the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our educational system?


I want to end on a personal note.  Three years ago next month I signed a bill into law called the civil unions bill [cheers], which gives gay and lesbian Vermonters the same rights I have: visitations of your significant other in the hospital, inheritance rights, insurance rights.  Vermont truly is a place where every American is equal in the eyes of the law.

I want the President of the United States to explain to all Americans why he doesn’t believe all Americans should be equal under the law.  [cheers].  I signed, I signed that bill six months before an election when it was at 35 percent in the polls.  I never had a conversation with myself about whether I ought to sign the bill or not because I knew that if I was willing to sell out the hopes and dreams of a significant portion of our people, that I had wasted my life in public service.

Come back, Dr. Dean. Your country needs you now.

Come back, because way too many Democrats are cowards.

In several meetings, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) presented fellow Democrats with polling data showing that lawmakers who didn’t support tighter restrictions would be in the sharp minority. As former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Israel is often called on to give advice on electoral matters. And while he didn’t explicitly encourage members to vote for the SAFE Act, the implication was clear: you will be vulnerable if you don’t support the only piece of refugee-related legislation that has gotten a vote after the Paris attacks.

Come back, because they’re looking at the man in the White House and saying hey, he’s on two weeks’ notice and we still have elections to win.

The top House Democratic aide said that members were encouraged to support the bill in part because they believed it would ultimately fall short of becoming law. That, combined with a sense that the underlying reforms weren’t severe, led many to conclude a “nay” vote wasn’t worth the political blowback.

Come back, because way too many Democrats are traitors.

Come back, because they’re looking to their own pockets, instead of to the values of their country.

Come back, because way too many Democrats are whiny babies who would rather complain that they weren’t wined and dined enough than do the right thing for the sake of their immortal goddamn souls.

One House Democrat, who requested anonymity, said he went into the meeting with administration officials opposed to the bill but left in support of it.

“If the White House hadn’t royally fucked this up they’d have lost maybe 20 Democrats,” said the lawmaker. (He ultimately voted against the bill.)

Come back and rip them another one, and remind them, as you reminded them once, that they can’t give people a choice between a Republican and a Republican. Come  back because if they do that, it doesn’t matter who they vote for. We’ll get Republicans every time.

Come back because they’re doing it AGAIN. Come back and remind them what happened last time they tried this. What happened last time they let a crisis scare them, let a bunch of bullies cow them, let the anonymous poll answers speak for them. Remind them what our country looked like when that was done.

Remind them what another country looked like, too. Remind them how many people died because they either turned a blind eye, or couldn’t be bothered.

Remind them it may take a lifetime but they will answer for that. One of the great solaces of belief is considering what weight the unjust will have to carry, even if it is in some kind of afterlife.

Remind a lot of them they lost elections anyway. Remind them it’s not a deal with the devil if the devil doesn’t even pretend to promise them something.

Not that they care. Not that they’ll listen. They didn’t listen before.

Remind them anyway. It’s our job to remind them. It’s our job to stand up even if it’s useless, even if it’s never worked, even if the club of the most of them are dirtbag losers who run screaming when they see a Rassmussen poll. Remind them so that WE don’t have to feel, as they may someday, that not every single thing was done to make it stop. Remind them so that you can look in the mirror.

Remind them so that they know that somebody fought back, when they couldn’t be bothered.

Light. Them. Up. 


Louisiana Politics: Gret Stet Goober Race Wrap Up Act One


Homemade yard sign in Uptown New Orleans. Photo by Dr. A.

It was the most fun I’ve had watching election results since 2008. John Bel Edwards was elected Gret Stet Goober without breaking a sweat. The same can’t be said of many of his supporters, but I expected this result. I did not, however, expect a 12 point win. The other big shocker of the evening was Bitter Vitter’s announcement that he was NOT running for re-election to the Senate in 2016. I did not see that coming ,but I have the feeling his wife insisted. Some of the NOLA twitter people are starting a Vitter divorce pool. Homey don’t play that.

I’m breaking this mighty effort in two because I started having premature Goober race withdrawals on Friday and, in the immortal words of Bryan Ferry, I simply Can’t Let Go. Additionally, and I know you’ll be shocked to hear this, I’ve been drinking Canadian Club like Don Fucking Draper tonight and while I’d like to teach the world how to sing, I might keel over in exuberant exhaustion. In short, I’ll stick to instant analysis for now.

It was clear by 8:15 that Edwards was headed for victory: he got 59% of the early vote. That came to around 20% of the total of votes cast. It’s now clear that the die was cast when Vitter crashed and burned to 23% in the primary. Despite all the mud he threw, he was toast before the runoff campaign really began. Plain white bread toast. Burnt toast.

Edwards once again exceeded expectations throughout the Gret Stet. He got an Obamaesque 87% of the vote in Orleans Parish and even won Vitter’s home parish of Jefferson 51-49. That was a real shocker. The moral of that story: don’t mess with Sheriff Newell Normand. In my precinct, Diaper Dave got a mere 12 votes out of some 243 cast. I’ve rarely been prouder of my hood.

The relentless anti-Obama message from Team Vitter clearly did not work. People simply did not believe that Blue Dog John Bel Edwards from Amite, La was an Obama liberal. I was also pleased that Edwards did not run away from the President, he merely drew distinctions on certain issues. There are some silly billies on social media who think that Team Edwards reinvented the political wheel. They did not. They went back to the future.  John Bel Edwards is the 2015 edition of the John Breaux, Bennett Johnston, Kathleen Blanco model Democrats who dominated Gret Stet politics pre-Katrina. It’s unclear if that model will work as well in future federal elections but we shall see.

Louisiana remains a red state in national elections BUT I think the racist fever of the Obama years has finally broken. The frenetic attacks on Governor-elect Edwards simply did not work. The spell is broken. It doesn’t mean the Democrats will win Louisiana in 20016 BUT it means we’ve returned to our normalish reddish, purplish hue. That was a very ishy sentence: ish you is or ish you ain’t my baby?

I’m running out of steam right now. It’s been a long day including an awful beatdown administered by Ole Miss to my beloved LSU Tigers. I am so pooped that this post is relatively pun free. I’ll bid you good night and I’ll wrap it up in more detail either tomorrow or Monday. I feel like I was run over by Thunderbird, which ain’t as fabulous as the song below by a certain blues rock band from Austin, Texas:

Wrap it up. I’ll take it.

Saturday Odds & Sods: After The Fire

Keith Haring

Artwork by Keith Haring.

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Rachel Maddow likes to call our Saturday elections weird but I think the proper word is sensible. In theory, it should boost turnout and my philosophy on voting is the more the merrier. It’s another reason I’d make a lousy Republican.

There were a lot of folks urging me to vote early this year. I prefer to stroll 4 blocks and vote at Xavier Prep on Magazine Street. I like the morning walk, plus I enjoy seeing the same poll workers every election day. After Katrina, the polling places were consolidated, which makes good sense but removed a certain element of NOLA quirkiness. For example, I got a kick out of voting in a neighbors raised basement when we lived on Pine Street in the Carrollton district. It was a mom-n-pop polling place, which made it fun to vote there.

I originally wrote a paragraph about my call on the Gret Stet Goober race for this post. I moved it to yesterday’s post, which gives me an opportunity to quote myself:

Speaking of Andrew the T, he’s conducting a Goober election results pool. I finished second or thereabouts in the primary pool. We’re asked to pick vote totals for the candidates as well as a turnout guesstimate. The prize is bragging rights and y’all know what a braggart I am. Here’s my entry, Edwards 52 Vitter 48. Turnout 43%. Here’s hoping I’m right. If Diaper Dave wins he’ll be pissed and we’ll be in a world of hurt. He’ll fling dirty diapers at us like an adolescent zoo chimp. Splat.

This week’s theme song is inspired by last Saturday’s horrific attack in Paris. Pete Townshend wrote it for the Who to play at Live Aid but it wasn’t ready for the show. It’s about what happens *after* a crisis is addressed, in that case, famine in West Africa. Pete’s conclusion is that “the fire still burns.”

We have two versions of After The Fire. The first is the songwriter himself from the 1986 Deep End Live concert video with a stellar band featuring Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on lead guitar.

Since Pete wrote the song for Roger to sing, he gave him first crack at recording it. I prefer Pete’s rendition. Roger’s studio recording has too much synth and drum machine for my taste. The vocal is good though. No surprise; Roger could still belt it out in 1985.

There will more Odds & Sods after the break and I suspect the break still burns…

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Louisiana Politics: The Night Before Gooberpalooza 2015


John Bel Edwards gives David Vitter the stink eye. Photograph via the Advocate.

The Gret Stet Goober race has been a helluva ride. I’ll take it over a fucking roller coaster any day. I’ve never understood the appeal of going really fast then puking at the end. Now that I think of it, that described the condition of many Louisiana Democrats yesterday. There was a whiff of panic in the air because of Vitter’s decision to run against the non-existent Syrian refugee menace. I was downright jittery myself after losing so many Gret Stetwide elections in recent years even though there was a strong reply ad from GumboPac.

When you have a bad case of political jitters, who you gonna call? Not Ghostbusters, but Deep Blog. I considered sending out smoke signals but that might upset Oscar and Della. Instead, I reached into my bag of Watergate analogies. You may recall that Woodward signaled Deep Throat with a potted plant on his balcony. I signal Deep Blog by mentioning his name on the Tweeter Tube. Then, as if by magic, I got a text with a link:

Actually, the link was to the movie version of Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, but the Ella Fitzgerald/Billy May version swings more. If we’re going to celebrate, why not do it big?

It turns out that Deep Blog, who has been expecting a Vitter surge, was the soul of optimism about the Goober race. Why? He’d seen a reliable private tracking poll showing Edwards with a 10 point lead. Additionally, that pollster believes that early voting for JBE was so strong that he may have this in the bag.  I’m not as optimistic as that: I think 55-45 is the best it’s likely to get, if our voters turn out in waves tomorrow. I’ll have my more restrained call later in the post, but it looks as if I might be writing Bitter Vitter’s political obituary this weekend. I’ll take a narrower split as long as Vitter loses. But a complete defenestration of Diaper Dave would be more fun than pillaging Aqaba with Lawrence of Arabia.

One reason for my concern has been the deluge of political ads we’ve been subjected to in the New Orleans market. The pro-Vitter ones are increasingly ugly and packed with lies about Syrian refugees flooding the state. 14 ain’t much of a flood. Here’s a teevee ad from a PAC tying Diaper Dave to Gov PBJ:

As my regular readers know, I hate relying on polls as the basis of my analysis. But we seem to have gotten to the point where the die has been cast; as you can see from this tweet by Andrew Tuozzolo:

Andrew is a political professional as well as a self-described “armchair poll QB.” He’s been crunching the numbers throughout the campaign and I respect his analysis. Here’s my reading of the situation: Vittter is gaining but a week of xenophobic “terrorist” baiting is not enough to change the dynamics of this campaign. The voters have Jindal fatigue and seem sick and tired of being sick and tired of Diaper Dave’s baggage as well. I have an admission to make at this point: I thought the hooker issue would not work and would backfire to Diaper Dave’s benefit. I was wrong and Lamar was right. There, I said it.

Speaking of Andrew the T, he’s conducting a Goober election results pool. I received an honorable mention in the primary pool. We’re asked to pick vote totals for the candidates as well as a turnout guesstimate. The prize is bragging rights and y’all know what a braggart I am: TOP OF THE WORLD, MA. BOOM. Here’s my entry, Edwards 52 Vitter 48. Turnout 43%. Here’s hoping I’m right. If Diaper Dave wins he’ll be pissed and we’ll be in a world of hurt. He’ll fling dirty diapers at us like an adolescent zoo chimp. Splat.

Finally, the post title. I realize I’m posting this while the sun is still out but The Night Before is one of my favorite mid-period Beatle songs. The title has NOTHING to do with the brand new bro-comedy of the same name. I have standards and while they’re low ones, I’m not big on slapsticky bro-fests featuring dudes in ugly holiday sweaters. I would never invite those bozos to a Gooberpalooza shebang: they’d get drunk and burn the joint down. And now without further ado, the Fab Four get the last word:

Just take that thing off the wall

In his book “Dealing,” author Terry Pluto detailed a pivotal moment in the rebuilding of the Cleveland Indians franchise. The team had begun rebuilding after a long period of prosperity, using young players and absorbing losing seasons in the process. The team adopted a vision statement that spoke of professionalism, positive attitudes  and an “all for one” attitude. The message hung on the walls of the team’s offices and was a guiding principle for how the team conducted itself.

During this rebuilding process, General Manager Mark Shapiro acquired an incredible player named Milton Bradley (the fun line about him was “He’s a gamer!”). He was exactly what the Indians needed on the field: A young, inexpensive five-tool player who had unrelenting potential. Bradley was also a nightmare when it came to his personality. He was angry, brooding and virtually uncoachable. He had been suspended, reprimanded and more. In short, he was like riding a mechanical bull stuffed with TNT.

The situation came to a head in 2003 when Bradley lost his temper at his manager during a game. He screamed at skipper Eric Wedge, busted up the dugout, changed clothes in the clubhouse and took a cab home. Bradley had been told this was his last chance, so Wedge and Shapiro talked about what to do next. Wedge wanted Bradley gone, but Shapiro was concerned about losing the team’s best player. Wedge worried more about what this would say to the team as a whole if one set of rules applied to Bradley and another to the rest of the team. In his closing argument, Wedge pointed to the vision statement and told Shapiro:

“We could just take that thing off the wall.”

In other words, if we’re not going to do what we say we believe in, why bother having a vision statement at all?

Bradley was traded shortly after this. They lost a quality player but the Indians kept their soul.

It’s never easy to believe in something when it might actually cost you something. Theories are great, but actions are difficult and we as a people seem to be finding that out the hard way in this country. We like to say we’re “The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave,” but we haven’t been acting like it lately. The attacks on Paris have left us with little more than a new shade of color on our Facebook profile pictures and a “don’t hurt us next” attitude regarding Syrian refugees. The “bravery” we speak of is a false front that in one breath tells us that if we just have more guns, we’ll be able to fight off anything. In the next breath, we have people saying refugees can’t come here because, well, THEY might get one of those easy-access weapons we used to like…

We like to say we’re a melting pot of all people. But how do we square that circle with the 29 (and hopefully not counting) governors who have loudly declared that Syrians are not welcome in their states? Among those in the mix, is Adrastos’ Gret Stet leader Gov. Bobby Jindal, who noted, “We don’t want these refugees in our state.”

If only there were some kind of historical parallel involving Louisiana and the need to massively relocate people in a time of crisis that was not the direct result of these people’s actions and how people felt about them… Maybe then PBJ would be more easily able to see how important it is to have a place for people to go when disaster is befalling them on every front…

We are great at the idea that “all men are created equal,” although we’re also good at the “would you let your sister date one of them?” statements as well. We are fantastic at the origin story myths of “My great-grandfather came here from (Fill in the name of an oppressive shithole) and began a life for his family.” We’re even better at the “dirty, filthy Jose-Come-Latelies who will cram their low-riders with free healthcare” jingoism. When our families did it, it was called “coming to this country” but when other people want to do it, they’re “immigrants.”

(To be fair, not every group of people headed to our shores has the best of intentions. Castro famously claimed during the Mariel Boat Lift of 1980 that he had flushed the toilets of Cuba on the United States. If you watch the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys,” you get a pretty scary version of what happened after that.)

Theories are great, like the one posted on the base of the Statue of Liberty. A gift from France, the statue serves as a beacon to the nearly 4 million annual visitors who bask in the pride we feel about who we are. A bronze plaque mounted there reads, in part,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It doesn’t have caveats or provide religious tests. It doesn’t say, “You must be at least THIS awesome to ride this country.” Instead, it welcomed all of us. It welcomed the English, the Irish, the Italians, the Germans, the Polish, the Czechs and more. It welcomed my great-grandfather and great-grandmother who met over here as “old maids” (they were in their early 20s) and spent the next 72 years married. It has endured generation after generation of Group A being suspicious of Group B’s arrival until Group B spent enough time here to become “normal.” Group B would then immediately become suspicious of the arrival of Group C…

If we don’t have enough food, shelter and work for these people who are seeking a better life, perhaps we can find enough empathy and courage to make up for it until we do.

If we are afraid they’ll get their hands on guns and other weapons, maybe we can start rethinking how we hand these things out like Halloween candy instead of barring the gates.

If we think that we’ve finally reached “maximum density” for our population, so much so that nothing from the outside can come in, maybe we could consider looking into a “king of the mountain” philosophy and start shedding some dead weight. (I’ll suggest Trump as a first cut…)

If we can’t do any of those things and let freedom ring a little bit around here, maybe we can at least take that thing off the wall.

Friday Catblogging: Upside Down

Here’s Della Street up against her favorite wall with semi-devil eyes;


Hysteria Is As American As Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet


It’s happening again: the hard men of the Republican party are scared to death of Syrian refugees. They’ve turned it into a meme and a campaign issue. The best response I’ve seen thus far came from President Obama:

“These are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they’re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL, or using some additional rhetoric somehow is going to solve the problems out there. But apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion,” he said. “First, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.”

I’ve already written about David Vitter’s attempts to use this as a wedge issue in the Gret Stet Goober race. It’s unclear if it will work or if voters will give Diaper Dave a wedgy, but Team Vitter took it one step further yesterday. Here’s what Gambit’s Clancy DuBos had to say about it:

I got a phone call this afternoon from Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand regarding an email he received today (Wednesday, Nov. 18) from the Louisiana Republican Party. The email, like U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s entire gubernatorial campaign these days, falsely and deliberately tries to foster mass hysteria about Syrian refugees in Louisiana. It is, in my opinion, the most irresponsible, desperate, even despicable piece of campaign hysteria I have ever seen — and I’ve seen a lot. Worst of all, the GOP has the gall to solicit money at the end of the email.

“Somebody’s going to get killed” because of this kind of thing, Normand said to me. He’s right. Catholic Charities, the arm of the Archdiocese of New Orleans that is helping resettle Syrian refugees in Louisiana, already has received threats, which Louisiana State Police Supt. Mike Edmondson confirmed yesterday (Nov. 17).

Ironically, David Vitter’s wife Wendy is the general counsel for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which means she also is the lawyer for Catholic Charities — the people who are bringing in refugees. Apparently the senator is so desperate that he doesn’t even mind throwing his wife and Archbishop Gregory Aymond under the bus for a few cheap political points.

For the record, the Syrian man that Vitter and the GOP say is “missing” and “unaccounted for” is totally accounted for. He had to fill out multiple forms before moving around in Baton Rouge, let alone before moving to Washington D.C. to be with his family. (See The Advocate‘s story HERE confirming all this.) It’s noteworthy that The Advocate story came out a full day before the GOP sent the hysterical email, which means they had to have known they were spreading lies in order to foster hysteria — and raise money.

This whole episode shows just how desperate Vitter has become. Apparently there is no lie he won’t tell, no line he won’t cross, no life he won’t put in jeopardy if that’s what it takes to win. He has been called “Bobby Jindal on steroids,” but that’s an understatement. He’s more like Frank Underwood on steroids.

I’ve said FU to Bitter Vitter many times over the years, but this is reprehensible even by his loathsome standards. It’s well documented that Vitter only values human life in vitro and doesn’t give a shit if his rhetoric leads to someone getting hurt. FU sideways, asswipe.

The country is in the throes of its latest bout of hysteria over THE OTHER. It’s nothing new in our history. We’ve had two red scares, repeated bouts of anti-immigrant hysteria, and dizzying flights of xenophobic frenzy since the founders were in knee-pants.

I’m on the record as a full-fledged member of the pro-immigration camp, but there’s a common sense approach to this problem that should satisfy most people except for vote hungry Republican politicians and unrepentant bigots. Only 2% of the immigrants are military age males between the age of 18-30. It is not unreasonable to assume that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh will try to infiltrate a few young fighters into our country. They’re not stupid, after all. That 2% should be subjected to an even more rigorous level of scrutiny before being granted entry. Is that method foolproof? Hell no, but it strikes me as an attempt to instill some common sense into the situation. As always, Charlie Pierce sums it up nicely at his joint.

The level of hysteria on the Right is reminiscent of the cosmic freak out after 9/11. The chickenhawks whipped up hysteria to suit their purposes, but the initial fear was not purely irrational. Who the hell wants to be blown up by some mook wearing a bomb belt? The difference this time is that the White House is trying to extinguish the xenophobic blaze, not adding fuel to the fire with inflammatory rhetoric. It’s a time when it’s good to have No Drama Obama as the Oval One.

The good news about the current hysteria is that it will eventually dissipate. It’s happened before. Remember the so-called Ebola crisis? Republican politicians and the MSM responded in a similar fashion, but eventually that wave of hysteria died with a whimper, not a bang. I even created an Ebola Hysteria category here at First Draft. It was last used over a year ago. This too will pass:

It’s time to circle back to the post title. In various forms, hysteria has been with us throughout our history. American hysteria often involves a toxic mixture of gullibility and xenophobia. Many people assume the worst of others, and believe who or what they want to believe i.e. Fox News. It’s why conspiracy theories are so popular in a country that’s never experienced a military coup. It’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that, as in the old Chevy teeevee commercial, hysteria is as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.

The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Mayoral Mustache Edition

Our readers know by now that I love regular features like your hippie granny loves patchouli oil. I almost said like a pig loves slop but I’m trying to avoid cornpone imagery. Next thing you know I might post episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies or even Hee Haw  I do, however, love the musical stylings of Buck Owens and Roy Clark.

Damn, that was a long aside even for me but that’s beside the point. The new feature is called the Fog Of Historical pictures, which is a twist on the whole Fog Of History thing. It won’t be tied to a specific day, but it *is* tied to a specific inspiration: my friend and fellow punaholic, James Karst. Odds & Sods readers might recognize the name, he’s the bloke wot writes a column for the Picayune called Our Times. (I threw some Cockney in there as an urban antidote to rural phraseology.) James spends a lot of time rummaging through the paper’s morgue for old pictures, ads, and whatnot. He’ll be helping me out with this feature as a sort of eminence gris as opposed to my Eminence Front. According to Pete Townshend, it’s a put on, it’s a put on:

Uh, Pete, people in Toronto understand basic French thanks to the guy whose son is now Prime Minister of Canada. That is, of course, neither here nor there, but digressive sidebars are an integral part of my writing style such as it is.

Since this feature was inspired by James the K, let’s kick it off with this tweet featuring the mustache of Paul Capdevielle who was Mayor of New Orleans from 1900 to 1904.

Personal Note

I hope it’s OK to get a little personal and tell you that, very sadly, this past week I had to say goodbye to a really wonderful best friend. A best friend who in 2008 made it to First Draft … with a little help from Photoshop. No way would he have sat quietly with ANYTHING near his front paws, much less something that could be clawed or attacked :)

From Album 5

This was Tigger.

To keep this short, I’ll just note that while it’s a terribly sad time around here, I’m also trying to keep in mind that I got very, very lucky getting to share my house with this little guy. If you’re so inclined, warm thoughts and/or prayers for him would be most appreciated. He sure was a good boy.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Reign Of The Telepuppets

Amazing Stories was a long-lived Sci-Fi magazine. Here’s the cover of its August, 1963 issue:



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