Pulp Fiction Thursday: Teen-Age Mafia

The most amusing thing about this cover is the hyphen in teenage. I guess the usage changed in the Sixties when teen-age culture went mainstream.

 

Quote Of The Day: Impeachment Edition

I’d like to thank Lawrence O’Donnell for reminding us of the eloquence of a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee who stood up for the rule of law and against a president of his own party in 1974. The father of the current Governor of Maryland, Lawrence Hogan Sr. was a FBI agent before entering politics. He was the only Republican to vote for *all* three articles of impeachment filed against Richard Nixon.

Here’s the QOTD:

Now, I`m a Republican. Party loyalty and personal affection and precedence of the past must fall, I think, before the arbiter of men`s action – the law itself. No man, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

It isn`t easy for me to align myself against the president to whom I gave my enthusiastic support in three presidential campaigns, on whose side I`ve stood in many legislative battles, whose accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs I`ve consistently applauded.

But it`s impossible for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country. The constitution and my own oath of office demand that I bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of law and justice upon which this nation was founded. And I cannot in good conscience turn away from the evidence of evil that is to me so clear and compelling.

My friend from New Jersey, Mr. Sandman, said last night he wants to see direct proof and some of my other friends on the side of the aisle said the same thing. But I submit what they`re looking for is an arrow to the heart. And we do not find any evidence an arrow to the heart. We find a virus that creeps up on you slowly and gradually until its obviousness is so overwhelming to you.

We have to step back and we have to look at the whole picture. And when you look at the whole mosaic of the evidence that`s come before us, to me, it`s overwhelming beyond a reasonable doubt.

<SNIP>

He consistently tried to cover up the evidence and obstruct justice, and as much as it pains me to say it, he should be impeached and removed from office.

It is, of course, difficult to imagine a current House or Senate Republican quoting Larry Hogan Sr. let alone matching his anguished eloquence. The rule of law *should* be more important than the Current Occupant of the White House whoever they may be. This president* is reckless and lawless and the 115th Congress needs to stand up and be counted like the 93rd Congress and members such as Larry Hogan the elder.

Impeachment is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s a political action that may be politically unwise. Many of the arguments against it are compelling, I find myself nodding in agreement when Josh Marshall argues against it, but then I recall my reaction to reading Volume 2 of the Mueller Road Map. We can’t let this president* get away with thumbing his nose at the constitution and the rule of law. The example that would set for the future is dire.

Not only has the MSM let the GOP off easy on impeachment, the “cult of the savvy” is calling Elizabeth Warren’s stand in favor of impeachment a gambit or a tactic. It was a sincere reaction to the disgusting details laid out in the Mueller Report. It was the same reaction I had. Sometimes you have to do the right thing regardless of whether or not it’s easy or expedient. As JFK said in his legendary 1962 Moon speech: “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

The last word goes to the late Congressman Larry Hogan. The caption is wrong, it was a statement, not testimony but the words ring just as true in 2019 as they did in 1974:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: One Size Fits All

I spend a lot of time in my formative years listening to Frank Zappa. I was attracted to his oddball sense of humor and his wry and sardonic stage patter. Wry and sardonic sums me up quite well. Above all else, I loved his tricky music and the virtuosity of the musicians who worked with FZ.

One Size Fits All is my favorite Zappa album. The songs are tight, well-constructed, and perfectly arranged. It’s one of the last albums released using the Mothers name. It’s also one of the best bands Zappa ever assembled: the vocals by George Duke and Napoleon Murphy Brock are to die for. One Size Fits All flat-out rocks.

The cover art is by Cal Schenkel who designed 16+ Zappa covers. He was FZ’s artistic alter ego and described his style as “ragged surrealism.”

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube:

 

Journalism Is So Exhausting Right Now

Sigh: 

Fundamentally, transparency elements are designed to tell your audience what you want them to know about you — your processes, your people, your motivation, your ethics and your values.

Sometimes with those elements, we’re answering questions we’ve seen our users wonder about publicly (in a comment, in an email, etc.): How do I know you were fair in this story? Why did you use this survey data rather than this other one?

Sometimes, though, we’re adding information that users might not even know they need but will actually appreciate. We might want to tell them, for example, that a group of editors debated which word or photo to use for 15 minutes. Or that we left out a source because we were worried about repercussions if they went public with their story. (Your users aren’t assuming that level of thoughtfulness or concern.)

Look, there’s nothing wrong with this exactly. It’s … nice. Harmless. I suppose it’s helpful, if you think most attacks on journalists are genuinely motivated by good-faith misunderstanding of what journalism is and how it gets done. Then these measured, sober addresses of common complaints make all kinds of sense.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. Explain who you are, why you’re doing what you’re doing, how many minutes you debated using a particular photo (Christ). It doesn’t hurt anything. It sounds really nice.

It just doesn’t have anything to do with any of the problems you have.

Look. Journalism doesn’t have a credibility crisis, at least not in the way this solution presumes. Journalism doesn’t have a crisis of good-faith actors who just Misunderstand what journalism is All About. Journalism doesn’t have a transparency crisis. Here are the current crises in journalism:

The financial one, where three decades of hedge fund ownership thinking in quarters instead of centuries squeezed all profitability out of local print news while humping the digital paradigm into the ground and refusing to spend on any of the things that kept the actual news afloat. Things like delivery drivers and advertising the fucking paper and oh, yeah, the journalists.

The political one, where a major party’s wealthy allies saw an opening to create a network and then a conglomerate of media screaming to Baby Boomers that Democrats, black people, women and gays were the devil and needed to be prevented from scrounging all the good welfare, and any news that told them different was biased because WE REPORT YOU DECIDE UNLIKE THOSE OTHER BASTARDS.

Journalists, of course, called anybody who said this was shady as shit hysterical and invited a literal Fox into their henhouse. They spent two decades interviewing and hiring people who hated them to tell their audiences that journalism was Inherently Liberal and Bad. They didn’t just tolerate these people. They put them on their op-ed pages.

At the same time, old people who didn’t know how to use the internet got their brains sucked out by Facebook because Mark Zuckerberg wanted to sell shit to the parents of the college kids he signed up for his girl-fuckability index. In between sharing videos of their grandkids and the cakes they bake, an entire generation is now reposting viral resentment porn about someone who overheard someone else who spoke in Spanish at the grocery store while buying expensive soda.

This all culminated in the 2016 candidacy of Donald Trump, who got up and screamed at journalists at his rallies and encourages the commission of violence toward anyone he doesn’t agree with and taught his people the words FAKE NEWS and how yelling that completely owns anyone no matter how great their arguments are.

It’s a fucking tsunami of bad faith, racism, rage and stupidity, literally none of it motivated by the kind of innocent confusion that things like “transparency tools” and “fact checking” and “truth-o-meters” and “cartoon character scales of Pinocchio-pants-on-fire that insult the intelligence of a five-year-old” can address.

We are not where we are because journalists just haven’t been transparent enough. Jesus Christ, nobody will flagellate themselves in front of the public like journalists will, and all of it so useless and embarrassing. HERE IS A 45 HOUR SEMINAR ON WHAT WE DO AND HOW WE DO IT. Everyone attending is already convinced of the importance of your very important important-ness. Everyone you think needs to hear it is over at the bar watching Glenn Beck interviewing Alex Jones about jet fuel and steel beams while Maria Bartiromo’s boobs give out stock tips.

Those people? That audience that so desperately needs your transparency tools and explanations? They know how journalism works just fine. They know journalism is going to tell them about racism and corruption, about the savage legacies of slavery and segregation, about their comfortable lives being financed on the backs of the poor, about the politicians who pretend to appeal to their morals being child-molesting freakjobs, about their beloved churches being rapist protection rackets, about the favorite movie stars being perverts, about their priests being criminals, about their banks being thieves, and everything else that they think makes them upright crumbling beneath them.

And they don’t want to hear it. They’d rather be mad and they have license, granted by one of the two major political parties and the president of the United States, to be loud about how mad they are. They have an excuse to ignore what they don’t like to think about.

But all of this is going to be fixed if journalists just explain themselves the right way.

I swear to God it is like watching Tiananmen Square all over again only instead of a guy out there against the tanks it’s fucking Bambi. Blindfolded. Bleating “debate me.”

I was vague-tweeting about this nonsense yesterday and Jessica here nails the hell out of it:

Yeah. Journalism is indeed at risk, and does indeed need defending, but not with a bowl of beige oatmeal disguised as an earnest explanation of What We’re All About. This isn’t how you react in a crisis. This isn’t how you react in a war. Journalists are being shot and killed in their newsrooms and I don’t think a proportional response to the current moment is to add and infographic about How We Report This Story.

A.

The Mueller Roadmap: Volume 1 Notes

Team Trump let Rudy Giuliani off his chain to appear on the Sunday shows. Spittle, sweat, rage, and lies were involved on Rudy’s part. CNN’s Jake Tapper appeared tempted to offer the ex-mob buster a hankie to mop the flop sweat off his brow. The artist formerly known as Mayor Combover made at least one remarkable statement: “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”

Really, Rudy? Do you really believe that or are you so blinded by the spotlight that you’ll say anything to help your client? And this guy wanted to be president. It’s a good thing his 2008 campaign flopped. A reminder to political junkies: Giuliani was the GOP front runner at this time in that cycle.

I promised some readers that I’d comment on Volume 1 of the Mueller Report. Before I do, here’s one of the money quotes from that part of the report:

“In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of “collusion.” In so doing, the Office recognized that the word “collud[ e ]” was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation’s scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law.”

I’ve been fighting a war of words over the word collusion so I’m pleased that Team Mueller joined the wordy war without colluding or conspiring with me.

Since I’m a bad lapsed lawyer, I took notes while reading Volume 1. They’re handwritten and hard to read but I needed them to jog my memory before running my mouth.

  • Volume 1 is seriously redacted. There are black blotches all over its pages. Most of them have to do with grand jury information as well as our old friend HOM: Harm to Ongoing Matter. That concludes this homily about redactions.
  • It’s unclear if Team Mueller were down with all the redactions but it’s certainly possible. We’ve all learned not to trust Bill Barr so I’m not taking his word on anything. It’s truly Trump’s DOJ now. You know things are bad when Jeff Beau looks good in contrast.
  • Some of the material about Russian operations during the campaign is familiar to those of us who waded through past court filings.
  • We learn that so-called free speech hero Julian Assange is an inveterate liar as well as the world’s worst house guest. WikiLeaks was in such constant cahoots with the Russian cohort that it might as well be an arm of the GRU. They should change their name to WikiLies or RuskieLeaks.
  • There’s confirmation that Trump Junior is an idiot. He seems to have avoided indictment thus far with a dumbass defense. Given the number of redactions in the sections mentioning him, his name *may* be one of those submitted for criminal referral. I can dream, can’t I?
  • One of the weirder sub-plots involves the “deleted Hillary emails hunt” engaged in by Iran-Contra spouse Barbara Ledeen, Peter Smith, and Mike Flynn. It’s a bit of comic relief amidst all the seaminess.
  • Team Mueller fills in the blanks about Paul Manafort’s contacts with the Russians as well as his reflexive mendacity. It’s something he and the Insult Comedian have in common.
  • Erik Prince is in deep shit and sinking fast.  His contacts with various Middle Eastern potentates have a potent whiff of criminality and he lied about them under oath. There are a lot of black redactions in the section about the Blackwater founder and Betsy Devos brother. We know what that means: I eagerly await this shitbird’s indictment.
  • Steve Bannon may be a fascist asshole but he’s a smart fascist asshole. He knew enough not to lie to Congress or Team Mueller.

There was some silly criticism of the Mueller Report after its release. Anyone who thought the Special Counsel was going to single-handedly change the no-indictment policy hasn’t been paying attention. That’s up to a future attorney general or Congress. Team Mueller’s job was to investigate crimes, not change the law. There was never going to be a Deus ex Mueller to rescue us.

A quick note on the way out of this mess. Athenae was right when she pointed out that the Dems Aren’t Solely Responsible For Fixing This. This shit is on the Republicans: they nominated, elected, and continue to defend a criminal. There have been hundreds of off-the-record stories of how appalled elected GOPers are by this president’s* words and deeds. I don’t see any of them stepping up and criticizing their criminal president* let alone actually doing anything about it. They’re too busy cowering at the prospect of being ousted from Congress by the red hat menace. They’re pussies, they should grab themselves.

I’ve come out for impeachment but I’m not an enthusiast. There is no easy way out of this mess. Given the no-indictment policy, Trump is going to run for re-election to avoid criminal charges. Let that sink in for a minute. One reason that the Nixon impeachment was easier for Republicans to eventually swallow is that Tricky was term-limited. The odds are that Trump will have to be defeated at the ballot box, which is, after all, the American way or what’s left of it.

I see a lot of hand wringing over the unholy mess that confronts the country. That’s how Team Trump wants its enemies to react. They won the electoral college by depressing Democratic turnout in 2016. If we get depressed, they win again. If we react with righteous indignation, they lose.  Few things in life are as simple as that.

My venture into bullet pointery has given me an earworm. Neil Young gets the last word:

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

The Ones She Has Found: Game of Thrones Thread

That was sincerely, no shit, no cynicism, no joking, one of the loveliest hours of television I have ever seen in my entire life.

Spoilers within:

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Dems Aren’t Solely Responsible for Fixing This

So it took about ten minutes after the Mueller Report for people to start screaming at Democrats for being spineless worthless cowards who lacked the political will to impeach Donald Trump immediately. People spent the rest of the week losing their shit at Nancy, Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer and all the rest of the leadership, demanding they do the right thing and IMPEACH OR GTFO.

Meanwhile the national press began autowittering gibberish about the optics for Democrats of impeaching or not impeaching. Every Clintonista who’s been looking for a paycheck found one opining about what it did to their president when Newt Gingrich stuck his head up his own ass and decided he liked the view. The OP EDS ALONE. How would impeachment impact Bernie’s or Biden’s or Warren’s chances in 2020? How does this play in a MAGA dipshit diner in Iowa? There are head-to-head national polls! Nothing makes these losers orgasm like completely baseless speculation and insane hypotheticals and this was a banner week for both.

And spare me the ‘splain. I am not defending Nancy or Steny or Chuck. And I do know the Democrats have the House majority and we gave it to them at great cost, so don’t mistake anything I’m about to say for a gesture of sympathy for highly paid people being asked to do their literal job.

I just have a question.

Why is impeachment being discussed as if only Democrats can do it?

Why is all the pressure on THEM to impeach or not impeach, to come out for removing Trump, to deal with the political implications of impeaching or not impeaching, to make a statement or take a stand or release a strongly worded press release? Where is the call to get on the record every single pudsucking suburban rep from the Party of Lincoln saying why THEY don’t want to impeach?

I mean it. Yes, the Dems have the House majority and could do this on their own if they wanted and they don’t want to which is insane, but why does that allow Republicans to not even get a question about this. And speaking of political will and Nancy’s lack of it, if 20 Republican reps suddenly went to Nancy and Steny and Chuck and said look, we want the motherfucker out of here today, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t make a difference in her eagerness to move.

If 10 Republican senators came out in the press and said we would vote to convict Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, I find it hard to believe that wouldn’t change the game.

Why isn’t anyone in the national press calling for THAT? Why aren’t our favorite Twitter screamers mad at the silence from the GOP? Where’s the running tally of GOP statesmen and their positions, opposite the one keeping tabs on what AOC and Elizabeth Warren are up to? Where’s the holding of their feet to the fire? If democracy’s out here dying in darkness why are we only asking one party to light the goddamn match?

And if we’re not going to expect the same things from them, why don’t we even bother to PRETEND anymore that the GOP is an actual party with the same job and obligation as the Democrats? Why do we have to do fucking everything? Clean up their mess AND worry about how cleaning up their mess makes us look? You’ve got to be kidding me with this.

By all rights, having read that report, Democrats should be able to do a victory lap on Mitch McConnell’s flopsy turtle face with their balls. I mean good God, those are some of the dumbest crimes I’ve ever heard of and I used to cover night cops in small towns. These galaxy genius brains are texting each other detailed notes of fraud and grand larceny and shit, what a bunch of buffoons.

Democrats should be able to kick back, pass those articles of impeachment along and get half of Republicans to vote with them without even trying.

Maybe some of the Clinton alumni who’ve been out here jerking it to their boss’s record for the past 20 years can explain why the media they flooded only ever demands Democrats turn on their own. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman get advised to run away from Bill Clinton in 2000 but within the GOP it’s accepted wisdom that Truly Savvy Politicians will continue to suck Trump’s dick up to and including the day he puts their kids in a cage.

And in the face of all of that I’m supposed to be mad at Nancy Pelosi? I mean, I guess, okay, but in the hierarchy of who I’m pissed at the GOP is at the top of the list and is staying there. I am just so tired of WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS DOING ABOUT TRUMP being the headline when WHAT ARE REPUBLICANS DOING is the only question until we take the Senate back.

Where are the headlines and op-eds about that? Where is the running tally of how many Republicans would vote to convict Trump and the pressure to declare or shut the fuck up?

I am so tired. At some point I’d like it if we could ask the people who shit the bed to clean it up.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Without You

Vue de Notre-Dame de Paris by Pablo Picasso

It’s been a tough week that got off to a bad start with the Notre-Dame fire. Instead of uniting people in solidarity, it led to petty bickering on social media as to which was worse, that fire or the church fires perpetrated by a racist in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.  They’re equally terrible in their own way: there’s no need to weigh them on a scale of horror. Notre-Dame will be rebuilt and there’s an online fundraising effort afoot for the churches in Louisiana. Click here it you’d like to donate.

I nearly wrote a post about all the crazy hot takes on the tweeter tube until I realized that the last thing the world needed was my hot take on hot takes. Instead, here’s a funny story about flies. We’ve had some aggressive flies in the house this year: Paul Drake likes to chase them but rarely, if ever, catches them. His frantic efforts remind me of my father’s reaction to flies. Lou was obsessed with swatting and killing them. He was relentless. After years of observing him in action, I finally asked him why. It had to do with his service in the Pacific theatre in World War II. There were so many damn flies there that he hoped never to see them again once he was home. It made perfect sense so I stopped teasing him about his fly swatting exploits. It’s a good thing that he never lived in the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Sorrowful times call for sad tunes. Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote Without You for Badfinger’s 1970 No Dice album. The ultimate version of this song was recorded the next year by Harry Nillson who wrung every ounce of emotion out of the lyrics and melody. It was a monster hit: sitting atop of the US charts for 4 weeks.

It’s disambiguation time. This Without You was written by John Wetton and Steve Howe for Asia’s eponymous 1982 debut album. Holy power ballad, Batman.

Now that we’ve established our self-sufficiency, let’s jump to the break; either alone or together alone.

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The Mueller Road Map

Fog of Scandal meme

I’ve focused on Volume 2 of the Mueller Report thus far. As expected, it’s a road map for Congress and/or future prosecutors to Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes. Bill Barr has lied about pretty much everything in the report: Team Mueller’s decision NOT to charge is driven by the DOJ’s shitty policy that bars a sitting president from indictment. Barr said that it was not.

The evidence is even more overwhelming than expected but Bobby Three Sticks is a small c conservative prosecutor who was unlikely to go against the dreadful no indictment policy. Anyone else would have been indicted by now. Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a criminal.

I have a few random observations. I’ll bite the bullet and use bullet points:

  • The report is well and clearly written. You don’t have to be a lapsed lawyer like me to understand it. There *is* legalese but you can skim through it.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the minimal redactions to Volume 2. Most of them involve our old pal Roger Stone who, absent a pardon, is royally fucked.
  • Most White House “insider” news stories have been accurate. Of course, given that Don McGahn was the source of many NYT stories as well as of the Report that’s no surprise.
  • Speaking of McGahn. It won’t be long until Trump starts calling him Traitor Don or better still McTraitor. He’s the source of many of the most damning stories about Trump’s misconduct in office. He also takes notes, which according to Trump good lawyers like Roy Cohn do not. Only mob lawyers do not take notes. That’s why they’re called mouthpieces.
  • Trump is convinced that the Attorney General is supposed to be a fixer for the president* He goes on and on about Bobby Kennedy and Eric Holder. While it’s true that RFK *was* JFK’s fixer, it’s simply not true about Holder. Obama didn’t need a fixer to get him out of tight legal scrapes: he’s an honest man. Trump cannot fathom such a person.
  • Trump’s attorney generals are reminiscent of Nixon’s first two, Mitchell and Kleindeinst; both of whom went to jail. Barr, however, is more dangerous than Sessions: he’s smart and competent whereas Jeff Beau is a dipshit and dumbass.
  • Like any good piece of narrative history, Team Mueller has woven together known facts into a compelling narrative. It’s all in one place now and the effect is devastating. Thanks. Bob.

I use the term road map quite deliberately. It’s what Team Jaworski gave Congress during Watergate. It’s the raw material to thoroughly investigate the Trump regime. It’s up to the House to decide what to do with it.

Impeachment is an unappetizing prospect. Barr’s version of the four corners basketball stall has delayed things considerably. It’s apparent that one reason Team Mueller did not try to subpoena testimony from the Insult Comedian is time. The clock is ticking as we approach election day.

There’s a defensible political argument to be made that the voters should decide Trump’s fate; impeachment is merely an invitation for the Senate to remove a president from office, which has never happened and is unlikely to occur this time around. BUT we can’t let this president* get away with his crimes, if we do we’re inviting future presidents to think that they’re above the law. The next criminal president might not be an incompetent fool. Impunity cannot be rewarded.

One more thing on the politics of impeachment. There’s a myth that Republicans suffered politically for the Clinton impeachment. They only suffered for one cycle: they elected a president in 2000 and re-took the Senate in 2002. That’s suffering?

There are no good options for House Democrats but they cannot let this evil fucker get away with the crimes he’s committed in office. Here’s my slogan for 2019: I is for Impeachment.

Friday Catblogging: Stroller Boy

Befitting a cat named after a fictional shamus, Paul Drake investigates everything that comes in the house. This stroller carried the 6 week old daughter of one of Dr. A’s favorite former students. Her father fell in love with PD who, in turn, fell in love with the stroller:

The 24 Minute Spin Cycle

The cover-up in plain sight continues. Bill Barr spun, equivocated, and explained away Trump’s conduct in a presser lasting from 9:32 to 9:56. He praised the regime’s “transparency” and threw a pity party for the president* Make that HIS president*

Rod Rosenstein stood behind Barr during the 24 minute spin cycle. He looked stiff and deadpan even for him. I’m not sure if it rose to the level of a hostage video but it was close. It’s hard to tell. Rosenstein is  one of those lawyers who looks as if he just stepped out of a coffin. I did, however, see him flinch a few times.

I’m not the only one saying this but Barr acted like Trump’s defense counsel today. He mentioned exonerating information and ducked questions as to what Mueller thought about his own report. He also parroted the Trump party line saying NO COLLUSION no fewer than 6 times. Repeat after me: collusion is a media/political word, not a legal term of art.

Nobody should be surprised that Barr has turned into Sarah Huckabee Sanders, only without the frock. Calling a press conference before the release of the redacted report is both unprecedented and sinister. I’m currently downloading a PDF, which is 139 MB. There are 20 minutes and counting until I get my hands (eyes) on it. I plan to read it before issuing my instant analysis here.

The last word goes to Scout Prime:

“No One Said Anything About The Full Mueller”

fullmueller_525_redacted

That’s what I think Barr will be repeating over and over shortly from now as he and the rest of the team see just how thoroughly they can spin and how gullible the press corpse [sic] might be in swallowing, hook, line, sinker…rod and reel…whatever bullshit they can push (“lightly redacted”???).

And…not to get all political, but…to get all political, it’s not like anyone’s mind will be changed by this report, or any report. The Trumpeteers are all in, Trump has decided that’s his play for another term, i.e., divide the country and see if he can squeak out another Electoral College win or at best a bare victory that he’ll insist (“many people are saying”) is the greatest and best of all time…and his cult will hypnotically nod in agreement.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding? They won’t nod hypnotically, they’ll scream, yell, stomp their feet, burn rubber in parking lots, and otherwise continue to be as obnoxious as ever…or worse. Much, much worse.

Stay tuned…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Hot Rod Mania

Anyone who has ever seen Rebel Without A Cause, can attest that hot rods were a big deal in the 1950’s. Here are two more examples of hot rod mania:

John Fogerty gets the last word:

The Bayou Brief Goes To The Movies

You may have noticed that I’m a film buff. My latest piece for the Bayou Brief combines my love of movies, history, and the Gret Stet of Louisiana: Set In Louisiana: Top 40 Movies, 1938-Present.

Tweet Of The Day: Pulitzer Prize Edition

The Advocate has won its first Pulitzer Prize. It’s not the first time a New Orleans newspaper has won a Pulitzer: the Times-Picayune won for its Hurricane Katrina/Federal Flood coverage. That was, of course, before that paper was hollowed out by its masters and transformed into the Zombie-Picayune.

Many former Picayune people are now with the Advocate. One of whom is my friend Gordon Russell who is the managing editor for investigations, and one of the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. They won for a series about Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury system. It was reporting that made a difference as the voters abolished that Jim Crow relic last fall.

The tweet in question shows the paper’s New Orleans newsroom exploding with joy upon learning the news:

Congratulations to everyone at the Advocate for proving that local newspapers still matter. Well done, y’all.

Repeat after me: Not Everything Sucks.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Waiting For Columbus

Little Feat’s 1978 double LP Waiting For Columbus is one of the greatest live albums of all-time. That shouldn’t surprise anyone who has seen any of the band’s iterations over the years. Little Feat flat-out rocks, especially when the Tower of Power horns join in on the fun as they do on this album.

The cover art is by Neon Park who began life as Martin Muller and did all but one of Little Feat’s covers until his death in 1993. Cheerful tomatoes became a recurring motif on Little Feat album covers and the band even named their record label Hot Tomato Records.

If you’re ready to rock, here’s the 2002 CD re-release complete with 10 extra tracks.

Our Lady of Paris

I lit candles for Kick at every church in Paris.

I visited for the first time when I was heavily pregnant, against the advice of everyone but my doctor. An overnight transatlantic flight at seven and a half months gone, plus a week of walking nonstop, climbing stairs and taking trains and buses and cabs, in what was going to be a chilly November the week before Thanksgiving? Ridiculous.

Kick’s coming wasn’t known to anyone outside our families, then. Even among our close friends, I shunned mention of the pregnancy, fear lingering from the decade of trying before her conception. Paris was yet another way of denying the inevitable, of protecting myself. We planned the trip, rented the apartment, and I slept intermittently from from O’Hare to Charles de Gaulle.

The first morning, we walked up the hill in our neighborhood to Sacre Coeur, and I stopped in front of a row of votives. My wish for my future daughter, for myself: Courage. The strength to take up a task when it presents itself, and to pursue it despite obstacle and ridicule, failure and fear. I lit a candle there, and prayed for the child that rolled and twisted inside me: Please, let her be brave.

The second to last day, at Notre Dame, I did the same. In the shadow of the stained glass, beneath the stones as old as the city, at the shrine of Joan of Arc, I prayed for her future, for health strength love joy power, for the saints and angels to watch over her, in whatever form they took.

I am not a good Catholic. I am a practicing one, in that I make attempts, motions, that often feel clumsy and false and out of tune. I stumble over the words of childhood prayers and forget the Holy Days of Obligation and joke that Jesus and I are fine but His friends are another matter. My husband and I did not attend Mass in Paris. We were going to the churches as tourists, not faithful.

But I lit candles at every single one.

It felt fraudulent. Notre Dame was not my parish, and I was barely its parishioners’ co-religionist. It was presumptuous, and likely foolish too. But if there is a place for presumptive fools, it is the Church, and we are all unworthy at its table. If it does nothing, I told myself, if it’s only light, there are worse things than light.

Today Kick ran home from school, healthy and strong and brave and joyous. The sanctuary where I prayed for all those things is ash. The candles would have guttered out an hour or two after we left, but I have thought of them every day since, knowing nothing but that what I prayed for came true, whether through my prayers in that place or not.

Our children are brave, though the world is burning, the irreplaceable places crumbling into dust. They aren’t ours, except that we pass through them and leave our prayers behind.

A.

Axis Of Assholes

In his 2002 State of the Union speech George W. Bush denounced Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of evil,” an inflammatory turn of phrase authored by David Frum. That’s right, the Frum who can be seen on your teevee as an anti-Trump conservative. He writes for the Atlantic Weekly now and still hasn’t topped the line that began life as “axis of hatred.”

In 2019, we face a corrupt, malevolent, and egomaniacal axis of assholes. They’re scattered across the globe, but the bull goose assholes are Bibi Netanyahu, Donald Trump, and Crown Prince MBS aka Mister Bone Saw seen above holding hands. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The United States may be the most powerful country in the terrible troika, but Netanyahu is the powerhouse; both mentoring and setting a bad example for the Insult Comedian who aspires to Bibi’s level of malevolent malakatude. That makes Bibi  the Mr. Bad Example of the axis of assholes:

Netanyahu just won a scorched earth re-election campaign in which he demonized his opponents, the media, and the Israeli Arab minority. As depressing as it is for those of us who remember the Israel of Ben-Gurion, Meir, Rabin, and Peres: it’s Bibi’s country now. The Israeli left is dead as is the two-state solution. Netanyahu continues to transform Israeli democracy into a system akin to apartheid era South Africa or Jim Crow era America.

The Kaiser of Chaos aspires to Bibi’s level of strongman dominance. What’s not to love about a guy who was re-elected while under threat of indictment? Mercifully, Israel’s multi-party system makes that feat difficult to replicate elsewhere but the Trumpers are hoping to follow in Bibi’s sleazy footsteps.

New Yorker honcho David Remnick wrote a perceptive and must read post-election piece, The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance. These excerpts capture the zeitgeist of the axis of assholes. The he in question is Netanyahu but it could just as easily be Trump:

Practicing a politics of division, he targets enemies in the press, the academy, and the courts. Increasingly, he finds his global allies in the ever-growing club of the Illiberal International, from the Sunni Arab leaders in his own region to Viktor Orbán, in Hungary; Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil; and Vladimir Putin, in Russia. He has determined that the world no longer cares very much about the Palestinians or about democratic niceties. He has marginalized the left––even the center-left. The “peace camp” that [Bibi’s father] Benzion loathed now barely exists.

<SNIP>

Just as Netanyahu provided Trump instruction on the political possibilities of right-wing populism, Trump has provided Netanyahu with instruction on the possibilities of outrageous invective, voter suppression, and disdain for the law. Netanyahu now delights in the use of such phrases as “fake news.” Investigations into his financial adventures are “witch hunts.” To suppress the Arab vote in last week’s election, his supporters mounted more than a thousand cameras at polling places where Arab citizens ordinarily vote, the better to intimidate them. And, of course, both men like a wall. As Trump put it, “Walls work. Just ask Israel.” To which his proud mentor tweeted, “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

The axis of assholes sticks together. Neither Trump nor Netanyahu found the murder of Jamal Khashoggi objectionable and took MBS at his word that his regal hands were clean, not blood-stained. Liars tend to believe other liars.

There’s a lot of saber rattling in the direction of Iran right now. Since distraction is the only thing Trump is good at, there are well-founded fears of a “wag the dog” attack on Iran. I think the Trump regime is likely to sub-contract any such attack to the Israelis and Saudis because bombs are expensive and the president* is a cheapskate. Iran is why the leadership of those once bitter foes have converged. The Bibi-MBS nexus of the axis of assholes almost makes one nostalgic for bad old/good old days in the Middle East. The Palestinians must be.

It’s beyond ironic that the leader of the Jewish state has formed such close bonds with two anti-Semitic leaders but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is the rule in that region. It should matter that Saudi Arabia was rhetorically pro-Nazi, but it doesn’t. It should matter that Donald Trump’s Archie Bunker-style philo-semitism is fundamentally anti-Semitic but it doesn’t. All that matters is power.

The only good thing about the axis of assholes is that it’s likely to be ephemeral. People like Bibi, the Kaiser of Chaos, and Mister Bone Saw invariably turn on one another. Cannibalism is part of assholery at this level of malakatude.

Speaking of cannibalism, the last word goes to Paul Kantner and Grace Slick:

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – bits and pieces edition

Just some random stuff this week.  Finally recovered from that herniated disc thing, BTW, so that’s a plus.

First up – the barber takes a poll !
(apologies to Spinal Tap)

Poll: 58% Of Voters Approve Trump Economy Ahead Of 2020
Breitbart ^ | 4-11-2019 | Michelle Moons

Posted on 4/11/2019, 1:08:05 PM by blam

American voters were concerned about an economic downturn in a Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service poll that found 58 percent of voters approve of the president’s performance when it comes to the economy.

Registered and likely 2020 voters from both sides of the Republican-Democrat aisle were surveyed in the “Battleground Poll” from March 31-April 4 that reached 1,000, according to NBC News.

Of those, 59 percent expressed concern about the possibility of an economic decline. However, 58 percent approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing when it comes to the economy. The report noted that the president has been relatively consistent at a 55 percent overall job approval rating.

A whopping 82 percent of those surveyed said they are “extremely” likely to vote, according to the report.

As to the question of whether the country is going in the right direction, 74 percent of Republicans said yes it is while 92 percent of Democrats said no.

1 posted on 4/11/2019, 1:08:05 PM by blam
And instantly, it blows up in “blam”s face.

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BLAM !!!

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To: blam

 

I don’t believe what I saw this morning:

Blake Burman or Brad Blakeman, whatever, the Fox Business White House Correspondent reported this morning that these figures were on Lou Dobbs last night and they were wrong.

58%approval for economy was correct, but
55% approval overall was WRONG…THAT NUMBER WAS FOR DISAPPROVAL.

I just read the whole article and reporter was WRONG.

And I am furious!!!!

16 posted on 4/11/2019, 1:54:30 PM by Maris Crane

Sucks to be you.
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Next up – McNutt’s case !

Texas House Speaker drops constitutional carry bill after gun rights activist shows up at his home The Hill ^ | 04-06-19 | OWEN DAUGHERTY Posted on 4/6/2019, 12:25:51 PM by McQ444

Texas’s Republican House Speaker on Friday moved to drop the state’s “constitutional carry” legislation after a gun rights activist showed up at his home to push for the bill. Dennis Bonnen said the bill was “dead” after Chris McNutt, the executive director of Texas Gun Rights, appeared at his home to advocate for the controversial legislation that would allow Texans to carry firearms without a license, The Dallas Morning News reported. McNutt, according to the outlet, drove 50 miles south of Houston last Wednesday before turning up at Bonnen’s house to question why the legislation wasn’t moving forward faster. The paper reported that McNutt had posted rants on Facebook about the lack of movement on the bill prior to driving to Bonnen’s house.

1 posted on 4/6/2019, 12:25:51 PM by McQ444
Jeez – it’s almost as if he had second thoughts about letting unregistered doofuses with political axes to grind (and a handgun strapped to their waist) stalking people and trying to intimidate them.
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But fear not – the Freeperati are on the case!
To: McQ444
Interesting. Maybe we should all show up at his house and ask him about this.
2 posted on 4/6/2019, 12:28:57 PM by TheZMan (I am a secessionist.)
You do that, cupcake.  Let me know how it works out for you.
To: SleeperCatcher

 

He should have said, “Get off my property or I’ll shoot.”

24 posted on 4/6/2019, 1:25:03 PM by ConservativeMind (Trump: Befuddling Democrats, Republicans, and the Media for the benefit of the US and all mankind.)

That might work, too,
To: ConservativeMind

 

Sorry sport, you can’t murder someone for standing there trespassing.

30 posted on 4/6/2019, 1:30:32 PM by DesertRhino (Dog is man’s best friend, and moslems hate dogs. Add that up. ….)

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