Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Abby Normal edition

Good morning everyone! I know that I tend to take up too much above-the-fold space in my posts, but since I favour the buildup and punchline approach and it wrecks the rhythm to break the flow during the buildup with a “gag continued below”, I habitually use too many column-inches to finish the first thread.

Not this time!

Rand Paul is the 2016 candidate Republicans need. Too bad they won’t admit it.
The Week ^ | April 7, 2015 | Peter Weber, senior editor

Posted on ‎4‎/‎7‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎49‎:‎00‎ ‎PM by 2ndDivisionVet

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was first out of the gate in the 2016 presidential horse race, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is the underdog everyone suddenly seems to be rooting for. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is still probably the odds-on favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker not too far behind.

But this is the only prediction I’m comfortable making: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is announcing his candidacy in Louisville today, won’t be America’s next president.

That’s not because the 52-year-old freshman senator from Kentucky wouldn’t make a formidable candidate; it’s because he won’t get the chance. Republicans won’t nominate him as their 2016 standard-bearer — luckily for Democrats.

Paul isn’t necessarily a natural candidate — he can be a little unflatteringly churlish with the news media, a candidate’s gateway to voters — but he doesn’t come across as phony, and campaigning is a skill candidates can and do acquire on the trail. His campaign theme will be the aggressively populist couplet “Defeat the Washington machine. Unleash the American Dream”:


I’m seeing a lot of love for him from the media.
1 posted on ‎4‎/‎7‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎49‎:‎00‎ ‎PM by 2ndDivisionVet
Not the dreaded Emm Ess Emm (which seems to include FOX these days) but the media? As in TV, websites, radio, and newspapers?
To: 2ndDivisionVet

If the media love him then he is no different than McShamey.

I stand with Ted

2 posted on 4‎/‎7‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎52‎:‎17‎ ‎PM by Nifster

To: 2ndDivisionVet

As much as I like Cruz, I prefer Rand. The other GOP candidates don’t understand that US is bankrupt and they all still want to maintain a large military force. US can not afford it. Military need to be cut 50%, across the board cuts everywhere is needed

3 posted on 4‎/‎7‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎53‎:‎27‎ ‎PM by 4rcane

I sense a clown slapfight coming on…
To: 4rcane

The priority should be to eliminate federal spending on poor people and education – not cutting the military.

5 posted on 4‎/‎7‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎55‎:‎48‎ ‎PM by impimp

There it is, in one easy-to-digest sentence – the Republican approach to everything.
More after the thingy.

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You’re the Color of My Blood: Game of Thrones Thread


I miss this filthy little chicken-rat. Thread on last season’s finale is here. 

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Lay Me Down to Sleep

In the race to see who can be the Midwest’s biggest asshole, Illinois Gov. Rauner makes his move: 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has decided the state will no longer help pay for poor people’s funerals to reduce a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

The Illinois Funeral & Burial Benefits program cost the state $9.5 million in the 2014 fiscal year. The state won’t reimburse indigent residents for funerals and burials after Jan. 15, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. The program will be discontinued altogether next year as part of a wide range of social services and public health cuts.

“We didn’t arrive at any of these decisions lightly,” department spokeswoman Veronica Vera said an in interview. “We needed to make tough choices to balance the budget, so we needed to determine what grants could be suspended to preserve core services.”

The Funeral & Burial Benefits program served 8,649 poor in the last fiscal year, Vera said, likely covering just a portion of funeral costs. The program offered up to $1,103 for funerals and $552 for cremations or burials for people who qualified for certain federal and state welfare programs at the time of their deaths. Eligible Illinois residents have a year to submit claims for funeral and burial costs incurred from October through mid-January.

Caring for the dead is one of the oldest ways to be a human. It’s the way we knew the Neanderthals were evolved: They laid each other gently down. We look at the graves of civilizations past to see how they lived. What was important to them. What they took with them and what they left behind. If we judge others by how they treat their dead, who now are we?

(On a lighter note, here’s a moron: 

SPRINGFIELD | Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to suspend state payments for indigent funerals has left one of his supporters “confused and surprised” over how the new governor is handling the state budget.

State Rep. Dan Brady, a Bloomington funeral home director, was among a majority of Republican lawmakers who last month voted for a fix to the current state budget.

Brady, a member of the House GOP leadership team, cast a “yes” vote thinking the $1.6 billion patch job would keep the state afloat while a new budget is hammered out.

“I was under the impression that action would stabilize things through the end of the fiscal year,” Brady said Tuesday.

On Friday, however, Rauner froze $26 million in funding for a variety of social service programs, including about $6.9 million that pays funeral expenses for poor people.

“I was not anticipating having this type of situation. I’m confused over it,” Brady said Tuesday. “I’m confused and surprised.”

I didn’t think he’d screw ME over. I mean, I’m his bud! I just thought he’d screw over minorities, the poor, women, people with developmental disabilities and other people who aren’t me. I’m his friend! I voted for him! It’s ridiculous!)

This isn’t about fixing the state budget and it isn’t about solving any crisis that isn’t of our own making. This is just about how hard we can punish those among us who have the least. The living can argue about what they are due. I suppose that makes this easier. The dead don’t talk back.


How Many People Need to Suffer for Discrimination to be Wrong?

Rod Dreher, being stupid on purpose: 

That’s the other thing about the Indiana freakout: Where, exactly, are the many examples of businesses discriminating against same-sex patrons? If Indiana in 2015 were like Mississippi in 1956, that would be one thing. But the number of cases nationwide where this has happened has been small, involving rare instances in which a commercial service is arguably a form of coerced expression.

America has changed on homosexuality — for the better, in most cases. Refusing to serve gay customers is bad for business, which is why almost nobody does it. It is understandably offensive to gay couples to have, say, a baker refuse on religious grounds to make their wedding cake. But in today’s America, there are many more bakers who would love their business. Besides, a country in which gay rights is enjoying landslide approval is a country that can afford to give a modicum of protection — a day in court — to religious dissenters from popular sentiment.

Yeah! If it’s just a LITTLE discrimination, now and then, that’s fine. If it’s just a few people getting hurt, say, beat up coming out of clubs or getting shitcanned because their bosses think they’re flouncy, then really, what’s the big deal? Those few people can suffer to make Rod Dreher feel like he’s being heard. His feelings are just as important as their actual lives, after all.

I wonder how bad it has to get, for Rod Dreher to think discrimination is worth addressing. I wonder how many restaurants have to put up “no fags” signs, or what the language has to be. He’s the one who decides, apparently, when other people are really hurt. I wonder how he got that job, deciding what discrimination was legitimate enough to interfere with his life.


Sunday Morning Video: A Sinatra Doubleheader

Sinatra week continues here at First Draft with two, count em two, concert videos. First, Frank’s spectacular 1971 “farewell” show. He carefully selected 11 songs that told the story of his musical career and then sang the hell out of them:

Sinatra’s 1974 comeback concert, The Main Event, is good, but not quite as triumphant. The promoter put him in a boxing ring in the middle of Madison Square Garden, which interfered with the intimacy with both audience and orchestra that Frank preferred. That’s why he called himself a saloon singer, and he was at his best in an intimate setting. One of the highlights is a spirited and Frankified You Are The Sunshine Of My Life. Enjoy:

Odds & Sods: Almost Saturday Night Edition

the-who odds--sods

Things have been a bit quiet on Saturdays here recently, so I’m starting a kinda, sorta semi-regular feature wherein I suggest stuff for y’all to read. I’ll also engage in the odd Oddsy & Sodsy hijinks. And who among us doesn’t like hijinks?

First, a musical interlude before we get to the meat of the post after the break, unless, that is, you’re a vegan in which case please come up with your own analogy. I got nothing for you:

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The Summers of Sam

It’s interesting for me to reflect today on the death of Sam Kinison. He met his maker 24 years ago today when a 17-year-old drunk driver crossed the centerline of Route 95 near Needles, California and smashed head-on into Kinison and his new wife.

Kinison’s supposed final words were: “Why now? I don’t want to die. Why?”

I was the age of that drunk driver at the time he killed the man Rodney Dangerfield called a comedic genius.

I am now older than Kinison was when he expired on that deserted stretch of road.

Somewhere in between, I went from thinking that April 10, 1992 would be my version of the day John Lennon was shot to thinking, “Jesus, I can’t believe I listened to this guy.”

To feel any kind of empathy for Kinison often seems like feeling sad for a scorpion that stung itself to death.

He was cold and cruel to fans and critics alike. He didn’t have degrees of personality, but rather an on/off switch for rage. He divorced twice, was a heavy user of any chemical he could get his hands on and he fathered a child with the wife of his best friend.

His act was a series of misogynistic, jingoist and homophobic rants. It has been years since I heard them, but they stick in my head, even when I wish they wouldn’t.

He said that the only two ways you could get AIDS was to “take a large load of infected semen up the fucking ass” or “shooting up with guys who suck dick for drug money.”

He basically approached world hunger by telling people, “Maybe there wouldn’t be world hunger if you people lived where the food is… We have deserts in America, we just don’t live in them, asshole.”

He once told a woman in the audience, “Trust me the last thing you want is my complete and undivided fucking attention…”

He was right-wing beyond right-wing: “This is America, Goddammit. Reagan is president and Clint Eastwood has his own police force.”

His act today would have gone not only nowhere but it would have probably gotten him held up as the exact example of everything wrong with everything in the world.

Still, Kinison was something to behold and at the age of 17, I wanted to behold it in person. I planned to turn 18 and see one of his shows that summer. Turns out, I never got the chance. Back then I was devastated. Now, I’m not so sure what I would do if given the chance.

The only thing that really bothers me is how he has been lost through time, unless someone needs an example of a comic who was (fill in the noun)-ist. It might be true that he was all those things we accuse him of, but was he any worse than anyone else we still revere or watch?

Richard Pryor (like Kinison, a native of the Peoria area), told stories about shooting up his wife’s car to prevent her from leaving. We laughed.

Eddie Murphy had two homophobic rants on his first two albums: Faggots and Faggots (revisited). He told his audience that “Faggots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m up here.” In “Raw,” he told his viewers that he’s not allowed to go to San Francisco anymore, “They got 24-hour homo-watch going on with me…”

Dozens of other comics moved from “Take my wife, please” to “The bitch stole my mayo” and we were all as relatively comfortable with it as we could be. A million albums here, a sold out concert there, we took it in.

Oddly enough, the only guy who seemed to make us laugh without any of that was Bill Cosby. Good grief…

Kinison had four albums and only one of them really seemed to hit the mark: “Have You Seen Me Lately?” His first “Louder than Hell” was his first attempt at translating his raw energy to vinyl, a Sisyphus-like task to say the least. When he got to “Lately,” he had good, timely material, a willing and interesting audience and great producer. It sold like crazy, which led to the inevitable, “Quick, get another one out there!” problem of selling the wine before its time. (It also didn’t help that the riches brought in by “Lately” and the tours plied him with enough cash to feed a burgeoning substance-abuse problem.) The result was “Leader of the Banned,” a horrible follow up that was more scream than humor. It was uneven, unfocused and really weak material.

When he died, he was working on another album, which became “Live from Hell.” The problem was he hadn’t done enough work on it to make it what it needed to be, so it basically was pumped out after his death like he was Elvis or Jimi Hendrix or something. It’s got its moments, but it’s not there.

The reason I bring this up is because it makes it almost impossible to reconsider Kinison, not to say that we have a ton of people who want to. It’s easier to go back through the many phases of Pryor or Murphy, who took on different roles in TV, movies and comedy. Stand up was only part of the game and in Pryor’s case, there was a lot more there to examine. To hear Kinison now is like listening to a cassette that had been dubbed from a dubbed original: You get the sound, but you don’t get much else. What is there is likely distorted.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to accurately place him. Each time I think back on what he meant to me as a 17-year-old asshole of a kid, I think about how he just bucked the trends and made me feel better about myself. Each time I listen to his stuff now, I have trouble reconciling what I know and feel now with what he said to provoke laughter.

Maybe, like so many other things, I just grew out of that stage and now am embarrassed to look back. Then again, maybe I needed him at that stage to become the wiser and better person I am now.

The Silver Tongued Devil And I

It happens purt near every election cycle. A GOP Presidential candidate appropriates a song by an artist who would never vote for them. The 1984 Reagan re-election campaign used Born In The USA by that well-known wingnut Bruce Springsteen. Oopsie. In 2012, Michelle Bachmann used Tom Petty’s American Girl. Both campaigns were asked to cease and desist. I’m sure it’s happened other times but I’m too lazy to check. Maybe some GOPer should use a Smashing Pumpkins song since Billy Corgan is a pal of Alex Jones…

This year it’s Senator Aqua Buddha’s turn. The Aqua Buddhists have used a John Rich song that includes performances by plastic surgery victim Mickey Rourke and the eternally grizzled Kris Kristofferson who’s a progressive, not a brogressive. I don’t know anything about John Rich other than seeing him kiss the Donald’s ass on Celebrity Apprentice.  That was the only season I watched that reality teevee train wreck, and it was mostly to see Meatloaf, Gary Busey, and Nene Leakes collide. Hmm, Metaloaf is a Republican,  so Aqua Buddha should use Bat Out Of Hell. End of trash teevee confessional.

I took umbrage over the Paulite’s unapproved use of Kristofferson’s image. He’s a graduate of San Mateo High School and an unrepentant Lefty just like me. Apparently, the Aqua Buddhists didn’t get *any* clearances because YouTube has pulled the announcement video for copyright violations. Kris Kristofferson hasn’t sounded off yet, but I can’t imagine that he’s thrilled to be linked to the likes of Rand Paul.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. It’s the title of my fellow Bearcats second LP, and it’s a great drinking song. The Silver Tongued Devil And I could also describe Rand Paul’s attempt to recreate himself and distance himself from the weirder parts of his father’s legacy. We’ll see how it works.

I’ll give Kris Kristofferson, San Mateo High School class of 1954, the last word:

Friday Ferretblogging: And Then There Was One

Thanks for all the kindness about Bucky this week. I miss my fat stuffy friend terribly.

The depression of being Bucky-less has not been helped by how happy Claire is to be an only (furry) child. I mean every day she is out of the cage, running around the room, playing with toys one by one as if to say AND THIS IS MINE AND THIS IS MINE AND THIS IS MINE AND IT’S ALL MINE NOW I DON’T HAVE TO SHARE WITH ANYONE MINE MINE MINE!

Possibly I am projecting.


Still, her newfound bouncy joy helps assuage some of my likely unwise urges to get a second ferret right away. With Kick we’re kind of packed into our urban hellhole, and Mr. A has been agitating to have his office free of weasels until we move to someplace with more room. It appears that for the meantime Claire will get to keep all the attention to herself.


Friday Catblogging: Flower Boy

Here’s Oscar with a plush flower that Dr. A caught during some parade:

Flower Boy

Excuse Me While I Disappear


I was mesmerized by Alex Gibney’s two part film Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All. It’s a warts and all portrait that focused on the verifiable parts on Sinatra’s life story and, more importantly, his music. That’s what really matters in any discussion of Sinatra’s legacy. I’m one of those who likes his politics until 1968 and not after 1970. So it goes. Harry Belafonte couches the change in personal terms and I quite agree: he was pissed at the Kennedys and got back at them Jersey-style. Besides, we had him for longer than they did but, once again, what really matters is the music, the rest is ephemeral in contrast.

I only became a fan of Sinatra’s music when I was able to distance it from his late in life, get off my lawn persona. Additionally, that was my parents’ music and as a child of the Seventies, I was eager to rebel in any way possible. But I always loved the music of some of his contemporaries: Ella and Billie in particular. In the early aughties, I decided it was time to put my prejudices aside and dive into the Sinatra catalog. I’m glad I did.

For this week’s Sunday Morning Video, I’ll be presenting a double-header of Sinatra’s 1971 farewell concert and his 1974 return. Gibney used the former event as the prism through which he told the Chairman of the Board’s story. The Sinatra family chose wisely when they turned over their fabulous archive of candid interviews to Gibney. I love it when Frank goes off on his enemies and admits to his mistakes, but, once again, it’s the music that matters.

The post title is taken from the lyrics that conclude Angel Eyes. It was written by Matt Dennis and Earl Brent in 1946. Although it was recorded by other artists, Sinatra made it his own in 1958. It was the closing tune of his “farewell” show. What better way to go out, albeit temporarily, than singing “excuse me while I disappear.”

Below are two versions of Angel Eyes, one from Sinatra’s 1974 comeback show and the other sung by Bruce Springsteen at an event honoring the original Jersey boy on his 80th birthday.

First, the Chairman of the Board:

Finally, the Boss:

Malaka Of The Week: Newell Normand

Newell Normand is the Sheriff of suburban Jefferson Parish right next door to New Orleans. It’s a very powerful elected position with tentacles that reach into other areas of Jefferson Parish politics. Normand’s predecessor and mentor Harry Lee had an outsized personality and was known to pop his cork in public on a regular basis. In contrast, Normand has presented himself as a professional, temperate law man and has maintained an even keel in public. It’s getting harder and harder for Normand to maintain that calm facade given all the police involved shootings in Jefefrson thus far in 2015. Yesterday, Sheriff Normand lost his shit at a press conference and that is why he is malaka of the week.

The local MSM *loves* JPSO pressers even though Normand is not as entertaining as Harry Lee. Normand was full of misguided fire and passion that reflected the insularity and self-absorption typical of many in law enforcement:

 At a news conference called to defend his agency’s fourth officer-involved shooting of the year, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand on Wednesday warned his constituents to “wake up” and chastised a West Bank community for residents’ failure to report drug dealing — a scourge he said threatens innocent lives — to the Sheriff’s Office.

Screaming at points during an impassioned address, Normand vented about an array of topics, denouncing efforts to legalize marijuana possession — “We are collectively stupid” — while defending his deputies’ decision to unleash dozens of bullets upon Desmond Willis, a man who allegedly opened fire on authorities Monday after fleeing a traffic stop.

Red-faced and gesticulating, Normand pointed a contemptuous finger at residents of the Pebble Walk and Kensington Gardens community in Harvey, several of whom, he said, told deputies after the shooting that they recognized Willis as a drug dealer and that he “did not belong in our neighborhood.”

“We knew what he was doing,” they said, according to Normand, “and he shouldn’t have been here.”

Normand said Willis, 25, was a drug dealer who plied his trade often enough in the neighborhood that his pickup became recognizable.

Fear of retaliation, he declared, is no excuse for not picking up the telephone.

“If you know this is going on, call 911 and tell them you want to remain anonymous,” Normand said. “Give us the information, so that we can get in there and be intrusive and shake it up and get these guys before they get you, because your life matters. Act like it.”

He added, “Wake up! If you know what’s going on in your neighborhoods, call the Sheriff’s Office and let us know. … Have we lost any sense of altruism, of what’s going on in the streets?”

I have some different questions for Normand. Have you been paying any attention to the news? Did you hear about the white North Charleston, SC cop who shot a black man in the back after a traffic stop? Have you seen the video that shows the crime and the officer planting a taser next to the man’s body? The citizen who shot the video was afraid that his life might be in danger if he came forward. Who do you think he was afraid of, Sheriff Normand?

The advent of the smart phone has changed a lot of things in our society, many of which are trivial. The fact that the actions of the police can now be filmed by anyone is a game changer.  We’re learning the extent of police misconduct in our country and it’s not a pretty picture. Am I surprised? No, but it’s still disheartening.

In my past life as an Uptown New Orleans neighborhood leader, I worked closely with our then District police Commander who is a good and decent man. Despite some serious crime issues, officer involved shootings were rare under his watch. They knew their commander was watching and took a dim view of gunfire. The cops in our district were not involved in the post-K abuses but the Danziger Bridge case and other atrocities still resonate in New Orleans with every officer involved shooting. I would *prefer* to trust the police in these matters but I cannot.

I wrote about my background to establish that I am not reflexively anti-law enforcement. But Jefferson Parish and other forces have “shoot to kill” policies, which inevitably result in one-sided stories. Dead men tell no tales, after all. After the recent spate of high profile police shootings, it has become impossible to believe the cops even when the shootings may be justified. There’s always an Officer Slager with a drop piece to frame someone.

Back to Sheriff Normand. Ranting, raving and getting all red faced with rage might make him feel better, but it does nothing to encourage public trust. Black folks have very little reason to trust the police and posturing does nothing to foster such trust. That takes community outreach, changed policies, and a willingness to admit mistakes, something that seems unlikely to happen in Jefferson Parish unless a deputy is caught on video gunning down a suspect in cold blood.

I usually play this feature for laughs but after seeing the video of Walter Scott’s murder and Newell Normand’s shameful performance on the local news last night, I felt compelled to be serious for a change. I’d also like to admonish the local media for characterizing Normand’s tantrum as impassioned. It was petulant, childish, and beneath the dignity of a public servant charged with protecting the community from criminals. And that is why Newell Normand is malaka of the week.

Sgt. Schultz’s Lonely Hearts Exploratory Committee

From Album 5

So The New York Times says it could be soon, very soon, when we find out if The Big Chicken‘s know-nothing defense saves his neck if not his floundering presidential hopes.

I suppose he could glom on to some ultra big shot, with their millions of campaign dollars and/or SuperPac, but even a pass (EZ Pass?) on Bridgegate opens up a…Christie-sized hole for others to drive trucks or even trains through: if at best you can’t control your trusted inner circle (assuming they haven’t talked), how can you possibly handle the driver’s seat in a divided country and dangerous world? In other words, for the Christie campaign, I’d say…maybe not quite over, but the fat lady’s about to start singing.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Kansas City Confidential

It’s film noir time here at First Draft. Kansas City Confidential is a nifty caper flick released in 1952. It’s chock-full-o-betrayal and intrigue and has a stellar cast of supporting no-goodniks including Jack Elam, Lee Van Cleef, and Neville Brand.

There’s a lot of good imagery online for this movie, let’s start with a poster:


I’ve seen that image with a white back drop but the tabloid yellow reaches out and grabs you by the throat. More throat grabbing imagery after the break.

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The Wayback Machine: (Political) Deathbed Conversion

I’ve been complaining of late how boring New Orleans politics have become. On the other hand, they may have been *too* colorful when I wrote this post in 2006. The City Councilmember in question, Renee Gill-Pratt, was a minion of the Jefferson machine and was convicted of a conspiracy to bilk the school system. She is currently enjoying the hospitality of the federal government and will be doing so for quite some time.

In my early days as a blogger, I nicknamed almost everybody. The one I stuck on her is perhaps the best of the bunch: Renee Gill-Pratfall. I’d like to claim credit for her defeat in the 2006 election but her time was up. So, dial the Wayback Machine to Sunday February 5, 2006:

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We Trust Each Other


Sean Woods, the principal editor on the story, said “Sabrina’s a writer I’ve worked with for so long, have so much faith in, that I really trusted her judgment in finding Jackie credible…I asked her a lot about that, and she always said she found her completely credible.” I understand the importance of having a decent work environment, part of which entails good feelings among employees. But isn’t it possible to respect reporters’ work, to think highly of their quality after having observed it over years, even to have warm feelings toward them – can’t all that exist without relying on faith and trust for quality control?

Right? I don’t like having my shit ripped apart by nitpicky editors but the one thing newspaper journalism beat out of me was the idea that I couldn’t be challenged on anything. Nobody is supposed to have inherent authority or be beyond questioning. There should be a radical equality in the editing room, and if your intern has a point, then she damn well has a point and who cares if you’re 50 and she’s still in school?

But turning journalism from a trade into a profession made it all-important what your credentials were, and if you had the right ones — the right schools, the right recommendations, the right work history — you were presumed to be good. It was a checkbox. It was shorthand, a way of assessing somebody without having to really know them: This person is trustworthy because they did X, Y and Z.

And what that does is it creates the club, and inside the club, everybody’s okay and nobody should have to stand for scrutiny. It’s ridiculous, it’s antithetical to everything a newsroom is supposed to be, and it’s so, so understandable. She’s a solid reporter. Nothing she’s ever done has been fucked up before.

Well of course not. It never is, until it is. It’s not like you start out making mistakes.

(On this clusterfuck in general: As in most journalistic takedowns of journalism, there was a lot of jerking off in the Rolling Stone story: Woe is us, and here are details of that woe, and let us talk more about ourselves and not about, you know, campus rape.

One of the things that infuriated me about the aftermath of the Rape on Campus story and all its responses was the re-focusing of the story from how the campus system handled rape to how this one particular girl was raped. How and when and by whom.

I am not saying those details were not important. But they were not the only thing the story was about. Yet after the story came out suddenly we were talking about whether one girl lied about her rape. We were not talking about whether hundreds or even thousands of girls were raped, and didn’t or felt they couldn’t report it, or had their cases “handled” by some bullshit pseudo-judiciary system designed to keep the cops and lawyers away, or were discouraged by the cops from ruining the reputation of some nice, rich fraternity boy.

We were talking about one girl, and not what she represented, in that story or otherwise.

I wonder in whose interests it was, to have us all talk about that one girl, who was powerless. I wonder in whose interests it was, to steer us toward her story, and not the story of the powerful.)

Dan again:

Like confirmation bias, this is an issue at every publication – not just those that have a reputation for leaning one way or the other. How do you make a newsroom work when you need to reconcile two seemingly contradictory needs – the need for the team to have at least ostensibly friendly feelings towards each other and the need for a rigorous editing process that can sometimes be contentious? RS could use this as an opportunity to lead the way on new approaches.

This is my own experience talking, but we had knock-down drag-outs in my old newsrooms and we all loved each other fiercely and limitlessly. I mean people would yell and throw stuff and how dare you at each other, and the next day when the story came out and it was good nobody even remembered how awful they’d been. There were resentments and there was bad blood and when the chips were down everybody just put it aside. I mean, how you make it work is you hire a bunch of grown-ups and they get over themselves or they don’t and you don’t care.

If your reporter’s delicate feelings are going to be hurt by an editor saying, “Hey, please do a little more digging on this because holy shit, it needs to be airtight,” maybe your reporter needs to go back to school.


Tweet Of The Day: Senator Aqua Buddha Edition

There was a lot of chatter yesterday about a Paul family member’s quadrennial Presidential announcement. I was more focused on David Cameron eating a hot dog with cutlery but John Fugelsang was on the job:

I considered stealing this joke but there’s honor among smart asses so I did not, even though I hate him because he has awesome hair. Hair envy is an ugly thing, y’all.

The reporting of Aqua Buddha’s candidacy was lazy, lazy, lazy. Buzz words like libertarian and anti-war cluttered the air waves and interweb yesterday. Those of us who pay attention know that Aqua Buddha’s brogressive days are long gone, replaced with crawfishing on issues and pandering to the Republican base.

In short, he’s another testy, mansplaining right winger sucking up to the hayseed biblethumpers in Iowa. Just what the world needs.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Beauty and the Beat

I have never picked an album just because of the title before. There’s obviously a first time for everything and this is it. The cover is unexceptional but the title Beauty and the Beat *is* exceptionally punny even if it ends <shuddering> in an exclamation point, which as we all know is the devil’s punctuation.


I tried to find a semi-legible image of the back cover but this is the best I could do:


Finally, here’s the album. It’s a good un:

Buckingham U. Badger

Bucky Badger

I knew things weren’t going well when Bucky stopped giving kisses.

We weren’t looking for a third ferret when we saw this critter, five and a half years ago. This fat, mellow, sweet little 1-year-old critter, who ambled around the playpen at the ferret shelter clucking to himself like a tiny little hen, with a white stripe down the top of his gray head and little white feet like baby socks. This critter who nibbled my fingers and swished his fluffy tail at me. This critter who set about cleaning and grooming Mr. A vigorously and thoroughly, licking his arm from wrist to elbow. This critter who’d come in with a bunch of other ferrets to an intake officer who liked Shakespeare, and thus …

This critter who was named Mercutio. Mercutio, the death-dealing badass from Romeo and Juliet.

He wasn’t home with us five minutes before we realized he was no Mercutio.

The stripe christened him for us: Bucky Badger, but we most often referred to him as Cheddar Bob, the dumbass friend in 8 Mile who shoots himself in the leg with his own gun while showing off for Eminem. Bucky had bad eyesight and was slightly deaf, and as such would wander into things, jump off stuff he had no business being on top of in the first place, and fling his food all over the cage floor so he didn’t have to aim for the bowl.

Not the sharpest tool in the shed, our Bucky, but definitely the most affectionate. He would lick my fingers, try to stick his nose in my ear, and when Mr. A let him he’d kiss and kiss and kiss. He was a people ferret. He’d rather have played with us than with any of his brothers or Claire. He would chase me back and forth and around the dining room table endlessly the minute I let him out of his cage, beg for treats like a tiny puppy, and attack my shoes and socks to get my attention.

He ballooned up in winter and grew a glorious coat each year, and he loved stuffed animals. My little brother gave me an ugly stuffy and I gave it to Bucky, and he adopted it and played house with it like it was his dolly:

When Kick was born he added her to his kissing list, licking her little newborn feet and sniffing her non-threateningly. She loved to watch him from over the baby gate between the dining room and office where the ferret cage is, and he was very patient with her not-always-gentle petting, would just dance and chatter away when she got too rambunctious or insistent.

He was going blind by this point, but it took us a while to notice. Cheddar Bob was just more clumsy at first, we thought. Getting old.

He went downhill incredibly fast. He had been slowing down this past year, but when his back legs got weak we discovered he had cancer, and when his meds didn’t work we found out he had liver disease as well. Special feedings failed to fatten him up, and I wound up wearing more of the meds than he took. As recently as two weeks ago he was still getting out of the cage now and again to wander around the room, but over the weekend he had a series of seizures, and stopped getting up almost entirely. He couldn’t eat on his own, or drink. And he stopped giving kisses.

He wanted to be affectionate, but he just couldn’t summon the energy. He sighed, exhausted, and laid his head on my hand. I shook his favorite toy at him and let him sniff it, but the joy was going out of him. Last night he slept in my lap, lulled with peanut butter and all the other treats he could possibly want, and we told him where Fox and Joe and Stripe and Tilly and Puck and Riot would be waiting, and what to do when he got there. Mr. A tucked him gently into his carrier this morning and took him to the vet.

We’re keeping a close eye on Claire, but so far she seems unfazed by her new only-child status. I wish I could say I was accepting it as easily as she is. We haven’t had just one ferret in more than 10 years, since we unthinkingly bought Fox from a pet store and started down this joyous, fuzzy, ridiculous road. The house seems emptier now than it has in a long time. They’re such little things, to leave such large spaces behind.


Forcing You

God, THIS: 

In the wake of the Loving v. Virginia ruling in 1967, Bob Jones University, a Christian college in South Carolina that explicitly denied admissions to black students, maintained its policy against interracial dating and marriage, citing the Bible. So the school suffered the consequences. In 1983, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Internal Revenue Service to revoke Bob Jones University’s tax-exempt status. But the university was still free to continue its discriminatory practices. In fact, while the school did start admitting African-Americans in the 1970s, the ban on interracial dating was only lifted in 2000.

In the United States, private businesses get all kinds of government support—a functional monetary system, police that safeguard private property, roads that help deliver customers and goods, public schools that educate workers, telecommunications infrastructure, legal protections against copyright and patent infringement, tax benefits for business expenses and employee health care, legal shields for owners and more. No one is forcing businesses to take advantage of all those benefits, nor forcing you to start a business to begin with nor forcing you to do so in a state with non-discrimination laws or in the United States to begin with.

I have a couple of relatives who are severe libertarian types who think all taxes are theft. So they don’t pay taxes. Every few years, the government catches them at it, and the rest of the family has to straighten their shit out. That’s the way it works, you want to lodge a protest. Hold your breath until you turn blue! Do it. But you don’t get state sanction to flout the state, and you don’t get public approval to go against the grain. You don’t get to take credit for being a rebel without actually rebelling.



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