Emojis, Journalism, and Why Being Cute Isn’t Work

We’re all clowning on this dumbass today, but I want to point out a few things:

It’s not just the sociopathic detachment that says a smiley face is for people losing their health insurance, getting kicked out of their nursing homes, or having their chemo suspended. It’s that in addition to being monstrous, it’s bad journalism. It does not accomplish what journalism is meant to accomplish. It doesn’t adequately inform the public. (I know, but wiser-than-thou cynicism is not a plan.)

This has bothered me for a long damn time, the “pants on fire” and “four Pinocchios” and “our truth-o-meter says” trend by which we rate politicians’ statements. When we put a fucking cartoon character next to things the president of the United Goddamn States says out loud in front of God and everyone, we’re conveying that this is only worth a snippet of your attention, that you can put a stamp on it and forget it.

It doesn’t tell us what the motivation is for lying, who profits by the lies, who is likely to be hurt. It doesn’t cover the patterns and histories and relevant constituencies of the lies, or their consequences. It’s imprecise, and it’s lazy.

We’re also assuming that these “ratings” have any effect on the politicians whatsoever. Now I don’t subscribe to the idea that calling someone out has to change them to be “worth it;” that way a madness of calculating your own influence lies. You call someone out because you see bullshit and you have a voice (and a camera). But I think we seize on these “ooh, his policy proposal was rated PANTS ON FIRE” and assume it’ll leave a mark. It hasn’t. It won’t. This isn’t holding liars accountable. It’s just putting them in categories and sticking a sticker on the boxes.

So if it doesn’t inform the public, it doesn’t hold liars accountable except in the most academic sense, it’s imprecise, AND IT MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A FUCKING MORONIC SECOND GRADER WHO HASN’T LEARNED THE CONCEPT OF EMPATHY, why are we still doing this, journalists? Knock it off.

Schmucks.

A.

‘if we all are willing to be okay with helping others and being helped’

There’s a whole thread here worth reading but this is the part I want to talk about, as a way of addressing with the sensitivity our GOP masters demand the shortcomings of their latest attempt at legislation:

Every night, as a lullaby, I sing Kick Forever Young.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others and let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung
And may you stay forever young

In the dark sleepless nights, I often pondered that third line. Its latter half. I know the rationale behind doing for others. Why would you wish to have someone let others do for them? Why would you want that for them? And what I settled on in those thin hours was that accepting help without fear of it was a grace we make far too little of.

You have to be able to reach your hand out. You have to know your own powerlessness if you’re going to survive it. You have to know that you can be at others’ mercy, utterly, and that you will be okay. You have to know that you will not be okay, and you will be okay.

How many of us are afraid to reach out, to not just help but be helped? How many of us have told ourselves, have been told, over and over, for years, that we have to wall ourselves up, wall ourselves off? That nobody’s gonna help us, that nothing’s gonna change? I mean it, how many? The whole world’s out to get us, that’s the message on every TV screen every night, so stay inside and be afraid.

It’s no wonder we’ve rationalized it. Otherwise you’d look at the world — traffic accidents, guns, carcinogens in the air, a sidewalk crack sticking up for your foot to catch — and go stark raving mad inside a second.

If an illness is not something bad that happens to anyone, but some deep inner flaw, some error in judgment or planning or faith, then your illness cannot happen to me, a virtuous hard-working person who Is Good. If you can be made to somehow deserve what happened to you (and injuries do just happen; two years ago I could run three miles a day) then nothing will happen to me.

I think a lot of the rank-and-file GOP “personal responsibility” rhetoric you hear from people who are likely to be hurt by the same policies of austerity they voted for comes from that fear. I think a lot of them are convinced that if they just shove the suffocation that is knowing human frailty into a suitcase and bury it in the yard, they will be fine. I think a lot of them quake with the knowledge that this is all a crap shoot, we are all one phone call away from disaster, all the time, always.

No one, a very wise friend once explained to me patiently, wants to think of themselves as having benefitted OR suffered from a system beyond their control. They’re afraid to help others because they’re afraid to be helped. Being helped means being weak, and being weak means losing. I think a lot of them are afraid.

Some of them, of course, are just horrific motherfucking assholes who’d sell their own fucked mothers for a tax cut and the chance to kick a hobo. However, I am trying to have the compassion our GOP critics want us to have for their feelings and sincere beliefs, for their philosophies and needs and wants. I am not being mean; this is the most generous possible view: They are cowards.

Cowards won’t let others do for them. Cowards don’t put themselves at the world’s mercy. Cowards don’t admit to the randomness of fate. Cowards lock their doors and pretend that there is a slavering horde out there and that a door or a lock will stop it. Cowards can’t admit they need help. Cowards can’t accept it, and cowards certainly can’t offer it. Cowards think alone protects them. Cowards think they’re alone.

There is no way to live your life without others. There is no way to be alone. Contact is inevitable, leading to information bleed. Every story ever told is a hand reaching out to another, saying see, I too am here. It’s not that no man is an island; you can set yourself apart. But you’ll do it in the most strenuous opposition to your every human instinct. We are built to love and care for each other. That’s all we’re for. We forget that at our peril.

When we forget it, this is what happens. We take the only thing that is all of us together taking care of each other — government, as those filthy hippies like to call it — and we just decide to fail it on purpose. We turn on our own, on ourselves, and we make up lies about imperfect systems being worse than us all being together and trying to fix things. We vote for people who promise to drown us in the bathtub, burn us to the ground, make us disappear.

We’re so afraid of doing for others, letting others do for us. We build a ladder, but it isn’t to the stars.

A.

First Draft Potpourri For $400, Alex

Remember when we had the odd slow news weekend? That’s become a rarity in the era of the Insult Comedian and the failed Republican Congress. The scandals and bad legislation keep flying at us like Russian malware attacks. Hence this recurring feature. I’m not planning to restrict First Draft Potpourri to just one day. I prefer to be like the Scarlet Pimpernel:

They seek him here, they seek him there.

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere, that damned elusive pimpernel.

Frenchies? I guess that’s not too bad as ethnic slurs go. Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan stepped in a pile of guinea doo-doo by referring to “Dago Red” wine in an interview that consisted of slamming the Italian-American leader of his caucus, Nancy D’Alessandro Pelosi. Ryan subsequently apologized for using what he claimed was the local lingo in his part of Ohio. Attaboy, Timmy. I wonder if you’ve been called the other M word recently; Malaka. Probably not.

Many New Orleans eateries used to carry an item called the “wop salad.” I took the pulse of my community and found only one place in the metro area that still calls it that. It’s Rocky and Carlo’s in Chalmette. It’s in St. Bernard Parish which once had a councilman named Joey DiFatta. That’s apropos of nothing but I miss him. It’s doubtful that the Chalmatians feel the same way.

Let’s get back to Nancy Smash, she’s become the anti-pinup girl for GOP fundraisers and mad men. It’s no surprise: they’re particularly fond of slamming powerful women. I was, however, gobsmacked that some of the simpler folk on twitter think this is a new move. Wingnuts have always had a target or three in Congress: Ted Kennedy was their main whipping boy for many years. He was librul and came from a den of inquity/librul city, Boston. Nancy Smash, of course, represents San Francisco, but she remains at heart the daughter of  former Baltimore Mayor Tommy D’Alessandro. She takes the best of machine politics and mashes it up with progressive positions on the issues. She has her critics, but I say bring it on, Berners. If you can get the votes, you win. That is if you know how to count votes. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Speaking of vote counting, the drama over the Senate health care reform* bill is coming down to a head count. I’m neither as optimistic nor pessimistic as some pro-ACA observers. There are four GOPers who want a worse bill. I think they’re posturing: it’s what Ted Cruz and Aqua Buddha do. The so-called moderates are staging a “woe is me” pantomime but they tend to fold like a drunk with a pair of deuces. Besides, Chinless Mitch will not bring a bill to the floor that he doesn’t have 50 votes + Mike Pence. McConnell is a totally reprehensible human being but the fucker can count. There is, however, an outside possibility that he wants to lose the vote and blame it on the president*.

Time for an account of one of my favorite non-obscene LBJ stories. It involves  a conversation he had with Hubert Humphrey when they served together in the Senate. LBJ looked at HHH and said: “The problem with you liberals Hubert is that you cain’t count. That’s why you cain’t get shit done. Learn to count.” The no-account HHH learned his lesson and applied it when he was lead Senator on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

I’ve heard rumbling about Jane and Bernie Sanders’ financial dealings for quite some time. Nothing seemed to come of it until recently. It turns out the feds are looking into issues surrounding her tenure as President of Bennington College. I have no idea if there’s anything to it but they’ve lawyered up; hiring Dollar Bill Jefferson’s mouthpiece, Larry Cassidy who also defended Scooter Libby. He lost those cases but has a good reputation. Stay tuned.

The Insult Comedian continues to tweet like a demented moron. It’s annoying as hell but it’s proof positive that he doesn’t know anything about the first rule of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. He’s also denounced former President Obama for using the word mean. The Darnold seems to think he owns the word. I wonder if he’s coming after Crowded House next?

That concludes this edition of First Draft Potpourri. I’ll be stirring the pot again some time soon. I am relentless.

Quote Of The Day: The Fog Of Historical Analogy

Bottoms up with the Kingfish,

There’s an interesting piece at the New York Times by Moshik Temkin critiquing the “historian as pundit” trend. There have always been a few name brand popular historians punditting on the boob tube including such recent examples as Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Douglas Brinkley. But the Trump presidency* has transformed a trickle into a flood. Professor Temkin dissents from the trend with some vehemence.

The wonderfully named Moshik Temkin professes at Harvard’s Kennedy Scool of guvmint. His best known book is The Sacco-Venzetti Affair: America On Trial. I haven’t read it but I’ve heard good things.

The money quote in the article addresses comparisons between the Insult Comedian and the Gret Stet’s own Kingfish. Since I posted the Ken Burns film, Huey Long, yesterday, this was an easy pick as QOTD:

To take just one example, during his campaign, Mr. Trump was frequently compared to Huey Long, the Depression-era governor of Louisiana. Sure, there are similarities: Like Mr. Trump, Long ran in the name of the “people,” attacked the establishment and was labeled a demagogue and fascist by his critics. But the differences are even more important: Long was self-made, a genuine populist who took on powerful interests, and as governor was responsible for building roads, bridges and hospitals and helping the poor. He never engaged in race baiting — astonishing for a populist Southern politician in that era. The point isn’t that Mr. Trump is or is not like Long (and he’s not); it’s that the analogy is meaningless.

I don’t entirely agree that the analogy is meaningless. Anything that gets people interested in  history is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I am more likely to object to politicians who warp history to serve their own purposes. Apparently, Vladimir Putin does so repeatedly in his interviews with that credulous boob, Oliver Stone. Since Stone is ignorant of Russian history, Putin can lie with impunity. Have I mentioned recently how much I hate Oliver Stone? He’s a heavy-handed film director having a second life as a dictator fan boy. So it goes.

Back to Temkin’s piece. I am glad that he understands that Huey P. Long was the ultimate mixed bag but his legacy is overall a positive one. All the Current Occupant wants to do is destroy his predecessor’s legacy as well as one of America’s greatest achievements, NATO. Additionally, Huey was brilliant and Trump is a moron.

Reading Professor Temkin’s piece for second time, I begin to wonder if he’s what Gore Vidal called “a scholar squirrel.” The scholar squirrels of the Master’s day were academic historians who were jealous of those who wrote popular histories or, in Vidal’s case, best-selling historical novels. Envy is never a pretty sight.

For now, I take Temkin at his word when he states categorically that Historians Shouldn’t Be Pundits. But I reserve the right to mock him if starts turning up on cable teevee as an expert and/or pundit. That would be confirmation that he’s a scholar squirrel; as such he should be pelted with envy-green acorns or pistachios. Others might feed him crow but I prefer dispensing mercy as well as mockery. It’s a kinder murder…of crows.

The last word goes to the late great Levon Helm performing a certain Randy Newman tune that I’ve posted before:

I hope y’all are proud of me for getting through the post without punning on the Professor’s name. I didn’t even call him Boychik but the Temkin was killing me…

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Commander In Grief edition

Morning, all – let’s suit up, get into the iso chamber and start uncrating the latest from the Freeperati and their rectal vacuuming of Dear Leader.

hazmat-4

You know – I keep waiting for them to snap and say “Dear Lord, the man’s a fucking fruitcake!”, but the Faithful Few (the current Freepathon ended last week, and the next one starts next week) are clinging tight like a bird on a moving car’s windshield wiper.

Observe – the Solar Sell!

Trump now says SOLAR will pay for the wall
pv magazine USA ^ | 06/23/2017 | Frank Andorka

Posted on 6/23/2017, 11:09:51 AM by WombatKing

It’s clear once again that Trump doesn’t really understand how solar works. From his words, he appears to believe the mere production of energy will somehow generate revenue, ignoring the fact someone has to buy the energy it produces. He didn’t explain who would be dong that – was he planning to sell the power to Mexico? The poor residents of south Texas border towns? Who will be purchasing the electricity and at what price?

***********

Two things:

President Trump knows EXACTLY how solar works, which is why he is against it;

Um – he just said he was for it.

BUT

With the obstructionist Dems not letting him do ANYTHING,

Bwahahaha

he has to pay for the wall somehow to keep out the terrorists and illegals.

How does this guy not understand that?

1 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:09:51 AM by WombatKing

How do you not drown when it rains and you look up?
.
One Freeper attempts to shoot the messenger :
To: WombatKing

 

The author apparently doesn’t understand how the grid works.

Electricity is fungible.

But it isn’t about that, it’s about bashing Trump.

Isn’t this publication supposed to be about photovoltaics and not politics.

3 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:14:00 AM by calenel (The Democratic Party is a Criminal Enterprise. It is the Socialist Mafia.)

Isn’t this message board supposed to be about politics and not photovoltaics?
.
One thing wrong with messenger shooting – the truth.
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Reply is written by a garden-variety idiot.
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One Freeper has an original idea:

To: WombatKing

 

Electric fence… don’t cross at high noon…

2 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:12:17 AM by piasa

Um – it’s been done.
ElectricFenceDeathCamp
.
Of course, when in doubt, just stick your fingers in your ears and pretend that The Darnold isn’t full of shit as a Christmas turkey :
To: WombatKing

 

I know, let’s micromanage everything Trump does.

Actually, you go ahead.

I’ve got a life to live and the Wall is Trump’s job.

6 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:15:56 AM by SaxxonWoods (CNN IS ISIS.)

.
There’s the occasional Freeper who has that “friends with benefits” relationship with reality :
.
To: WombatKing

 

I wasn’t aware that anyone had made bulletproof solar collectors. I would expect much vandalism form those fenced out.

7 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:16:19 AM by mountainlion (Live well for those that did not make it back.)

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Another Freeper flaunts his ignorance of how global economics work :
.
To: WombatKing
Better still…a 25% tax on all remittances to foreign countries.
4 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:14:04 AM by Gay State Conservative (Comey = The Swamp Fighting Back)
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Like on the “American made” car you’re driving? Or your Carrier air conditioning unit?
Your toothpaste?
The screen you’re viewing Freeperville on?
The tires on your car?
The ink in your printer?
.
My god, you’re stupid.
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When in doubt, double down on the idiocy :
.
To: WombatKing

 

Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

20 posted on 6/23/2017, 12:08:11 PM by ifinnegan (Democrats kill babies and harvest their organs to sell)

.
Well – end of discussion, then.
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Of course, when when all else fails (this thread had remarkably few replies), pretend that the gibbering moron is actually a 13-dimensional chess savant!
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To: WombatKing

 

He’s backed them into a corner. They can admit that solar is a waste of money or get the wall. He’s using democrat math to get what he wants

11 posted on 6/23/2017, 11:33:13 AM by dgbrown

13DimensionalChess
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Think they can’t get any stupider? Follow below for an intellectual discussion of whether or not The Darnold should get a buzz cut.
Hey – where are you going?
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Get Out of the Nursing Home, Grandma!

I thought we revered the Greatest Generation: 

ORANGE, Va. — Alice Jacobs, 90, once owned a factory and horses. She has raised four children and buried two husbands.

But years in an assisted living center drained her savings, and now she relies on Medicaid to pay for her care at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit, county-owned nursing home here.

“You think you’ve got enough money to last all your life, and here I am,” Ms. Jacobs said.

Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes, like Ms. Jacobs. It covers 20 percent of all Americans and 40 percent of poor adults.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans joined their House colleagues in proposing steep cuts to Medicaid, part of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives hope to roll back what they see as an expanding and costly entitlement. But little has been said about what would happen to older Americans in nursing homes if the cuts took effect.

Add “caring for the generation that punched Nazis IN PERSON” to the things we can’t afford anymore.

A.

People Live Here

Our real estate agent looked around our condo and sniffed. I’ve never actually seen someone sniff, in real life, in the dismissive, Edith Wharton Disapproves Of Your Social Status sense. She sniffed, this woman, and said, “This is terribly cluttered.”

She was standing in the living room I’d just spent four hours cleaning, the room which also serves as “the room where Kick keeps all her toys” and “occasionally, my office” and “a recovery room from all my major back injuries of which there have been many” and she was looking dismayed. There were toys in colorful bins, antique typewriters on the fireplace mantle, books on all the shelves, a large rug we’d just had cleaned.

“You’ll have to get rid of a lot of things.”

What this disapproving woman didn’t realize was that we had spent the past two months paring down our collection of books, stuffed animals, clothes, furniture, dishes, travel coffee mugs and just about everything else we owned. We had filled an entire storage space with my grandmother’s furniture and the contents of three closets. We thought we HAD gotten rid of a lot of things.

She shook her head. In order to sell a small condo for a reasonable price in our neighborhood, one has to STAGE it. It must be freshly painted, impeccably finished, with two perfect polished apples upon the sideboard. There can be books on the shelves, but not too many, and nothing “divisive.” Two or three towels in the linen closet at most and those, brand new and unused. Photos are fine, but nothing personal.

People need to picture themselves in your space, the agent explained. Not you.

It must appear that no one lives here at all.

So we spent the next two months painting, and packing, and harrying people into helping us bring even more of our stuff over to storage. We shopped for neutral colored bedding. We made a game of it with Kick: Stand in the corner and try to throw all the stuffies into the box! We’re not getting rid of them, they’re just going on a trip! We preened and primped the place. We staged.

Our condo went on the market five weeks ago. People come in for showings, for open houses, and leave feedback about issues we cannot address. The bathroom is too small, there is no central air, a parking space is not included in the fee. Where is the washer and dryer, they ask, and upon hearing it is in another section of the building they blanch and back away. NOT THAT. First-time buyers don’t want to fix things, the real estate agent said, trying to get us to do more repairs before we listed. They want everything done. When we moved into this place we stripped miles of woodwork, painted and repainted and tiled and refinished.

Every weekend we clean and stage again. And every weekend I think about how ridiculous it is to expect people to act like their lives are an HGTV episode, like anyone with a toddler is able to have thin-stemmed crystal just lying around, or keep the walls free of fingerprints.

People live here, I keep saying to the real estate agent, who by now treats us like juvenile delinquents in need of tough love. Is it really a drawback to know that? People live here.

I feel like most people would get that. Life isn’t perfect. Life is disorderly. Life is persistent; it will find a way to make a mess five seconds after you’ve cleaned one up, and the more life you have around you, the messier it is. Friends, family, kids, pets, hobbies, dreams, work, love, entertainment, joy, rest, they all take up space. They all make clutter that isn’t easily confined to underbed boxes and back-of-closet bins. They’re inconvenient and sometimes gross. They can’t be staged.

And oh, have we had life in this house.

If I staged my house the way I want to stage it, I would leave some of the stuffies lying around, the stray puzzle pieces, some apple peelings on the counter. I would unpack my pasta machine and the toaster. And I would leave photos of us: Me, Mr. A, Kick. Photos from her christening, when we shook off our sleep deprivation and packed 30 people into the house for cake and champagne. Photos from the orphan Thanksgiving we threw one year for a dozen colleagues of Mr. A’s who came from all over the world and were stuck with nothing to do during the holiday. Photos from our tenth anniversary party, which spilled out of the house and off our deck and out into the alley because so many people came.

I would leave a note, too, next to the inoffensive flower arrangement in its recently purchased pitcher-vase.

The note would say, I know this house is messy and the bedding isn’t fashionable. I know it isn’t like the gleaming new construction towers you see down the road. I know if you stretch out your arms in both directions you can touch all four walls of the bathroom. I know the air conditioner rattles and sometimes you have to smack the microwave just right to get it to start. I know you probably want a blank canvas on which to project your dreams of home and I don’t begrudge you that. I would give it to you if I could.

But people live here. They had a guest room for people to crash in when they were done with college or between jobs or detoxing from political campaigns, when they needed advice or to recover from a hangover or a good laugh. The people who live here needed things, and people came here to give them.

They had pets and loved them. They gained friends and lost them. They learned here. They suffered here, too, and grieved losses, licked wounds. A child took her first steps here, and art was made here, and three of the five neighbors are truly stellar human beings. If they opened their windows they could hear music being practiced and played, trucks rumbling past, the rush and hum of the trains going over the viaducts.

People live here. They should leave marks on a place. A life should leave deep tracks, one of my favorite poems begins, and we see all tracks as damage. We see every nick as as indication of something wrong, something bad, an omen, a terrible sign. We don’t see it as a sign that this is a place where real things took place. Where real people lived.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Huey Long

It’s documentary time. The film that put Ken Burns on the map in 1985: Huey Long. 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Anything Goes

Grandmother Moorhead’s Aromatic Kitchen by Leonora Carrington, 1975.

It was a weird week in New Orleans. It was oddly quiet as everyone hunkered down for a storm that had minimal impact in the city. I spent a lot of time with Oscar and Della. I’m glad to report that they’re fine. They’re used to hanging around the house and sleeping incessantly. Nobody does it better, not even Bond.

I spent some time this week calling the offices of my Republican Senators about the abominable health care bill. I’m not sure what good it will do. Both of them know deep down that it’s bad legislation that will damage a poor state like Louisiana. I expect them to vote aye anyway: neither has the backbone to stand up to Chinless Mitch and the Trumper hordes. Repeat after me: I hope I’m wrong about this.

This week’s theme song reflects the climate of our national politics: “In olden days, a crooked Oval One was looked on as something shocking. Now heaven knows, anything goes. ” Cole Porter was one smart Hoosier Yalie. Boola boola, y’all.

We have two versions of Anything Goes for your enjoyment: the inevitable Sinatra as well as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. I’m gaga for Gaga even without the meat suit.

Now that we’ve established that:

The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today…

It’s time to insert the break and meet on the other side. It’s what Cole would have wanted.

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A Deaf Frog

One of the best jokes about jumping to the wrong conclusion is that of the scientist and the frog. The scientist tells the frog to jump and the frog does so. The scientist then cuts off one of the frog’s legs and repeats the command. The frog continues to jump until the scientist has removed all four legs, at which point, the frog remains still.

The scientist then makes this entry in his notes: “After removing all four legs, frog goes deaf.”

An equally disgusting and yet not nearly as funny series of answers emerged this week in regard to how public figures dealt with problematic situations.

Bill Cosby, who has apparently told more people to “relax” than Frankie Goes to Hollywood, had his fate delayed when a Pennsylvania jury deadlocked 10-2 in his sexual-assault case. Cosby has been accused of scores of women (and that’s literally accurate, sadly) of drugging and raping them over the past several decades. In this singular case, involving an administrator in the Temple University athletic program, Cosby was said to have used Quaaludes to knock her unconscious before having sex with her against her will in 2004. Cosby remains free on bond while the state considers its next move, which will likely be a retrial.

What will Cosby be doing with all this free time, now that a Cosby Show reunion show is likely out of the question? He’s planned a series of town-hall meetings in which he will “educate” young men and married men how to avoid accusations of sexual assault in this litigious society:

 

Ebonee M. Benson, who works with Mr. Wyatt and joined him on the program, said the need for awareness had grown because the statutes of limitations on sexual assault have been extended in several states. In some cases the legislative efforts were aided by women who have accused Mr. Cosby of molesting them.

“People need to be educated on a brush against the shoulder,” she said. “Anything at this point can be considered sexual assault.”

 

Or, y’know, the lecture could just be, “Don’t drug and fuck people against their will. And pull up your damned pants.” However, as Cosby sees it, the problem isn’t the fucking, but rather needing to find ways to make sure it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Speaking of things that can come back to haunt you, the White House has figured out that people will actually recall the official and unofficial comments people make and hold you to them. Everything from the evening news to late-night comedy shows use the clip montage on an almost daily basis to showcase what an official is saying now compared to the exact opposite thing that person said over the past six months. Trump, Spicer, Conway, Sessions and more all have fallen victim to the “Here’s a statement they made today that is directly contradicted by the nine times they said the exact opposite thing.”

The answer was clear earlier this week: Stop the taping. The White House has set up a series of bizarre rules that limit live presentation of the press briefing, no cameras and limitations on audio. In an even dumber decision, it issued an edict to the media (whose job it is to tell the public stuff) not to tell the public the instructions the news outlets received on how this off-the-camera approach was supposed to work. So, in short, we’re doing something shitty to you and we want to tell you what that shitty thing is, but don’t you dare report that we told you about this shitty thing we’re going to do to you.

Speaking of shitty things that are being done to the public, the Senate has drafted its version of the “Repeal and Replace Obamacare with Something Great” bill. The Republicans have known for quite some time that debating health care is a long, tiring and dicey process. The Affordable Care Act hearings went on for an interminable amount of time, with all sorts of maneuvering in hopes of derailing it. Although the ACA isn’t perfect, thanks in large part to these speed bumps and road blocks put up by opponents of the bill at the time, it is providing insurance to more than 23 million more people than the House version of Trumpcare would.

The senate realizes two things:

  1. Cutting people off of health coverage, including Medicaid and any other Medi-help, is likely to result in people losing their shit.
  2. Since they are essentially doing exactly that, people are likely to lose their shit.

The solution is simple: Don’t show people what you’re working on. Much like a 4-year-old who is covering up his homework so mom can’t see how shitty his penmanship is, Mitch McConnell and his crew of unnamed bill-makers have sat in secret for the past couple weeks, crafting whatever it is they are crafting. The reveal on Thursday showed that it was essentially the same shit as the House bill, only potentially worse. McConnell upped his game by pushing for a vote within a week and refusing to say he’d allow for at least 10 hours of debate and discussion on it.

It makes little sense to attempt to apply common sense to these kinds of solutions, as none really applies. At best, the solutions are Machiavellian maneuvers and at worst they are like people who put pennies in the fuse box to get the power back on.

It also does little good to call people out on this kind of bullshit, given that most of the people who display this level of chutzpah lack the inherent ability to be ashamed of themselves. All they see in front of them is what their myopic vision of self-assuredness allows them to see.

A deaf frog.

Friday Catblogging: Less Than (Coke) Zero

Della Street has an interesting new spot:

Speaking of Less Than Zero:

Your President* Speaks: No Comey Mix Tapes Edition

The Insult Comedian is usually full of surprises. Today’s tweets merely confirm what we all knew, there are no Comey tapes.

This is shyster speak, not Trump talk. It yet again exposes him as the lyingest liar who ever lied. The second tweet is particularly weasely as it implies that he didn’t lie when he claimed to have Comey mix tapes. Wrong. I’m not sure what tunes would be on such a mix tape but here are three that work for me:

Imagine the late Warren Zevon’s reaction to the idea of president* Trump: “You’re shitting me, right?”

Trump gave a typically unhinged speech in Iowa last night. Money, adulation, and applause are what he lives for, which is why he loves these campaign-style rallies. Time for a few excerpts from Maggie Haberman’s NYT piece:

“They have phony witch hunts going against me,” Mr. Trump said nearly an hour into a speech that veered off script repeatedly. “All we do is win, win, win. We won last night.”

<snip>

He toggled back and forth between telling farm-rich Iowa that he had fought for forgotten voters and lauding the wealth of Gary D. Cohn, his top economic adviser and a former executive at Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street giant that Mr. Trump derided in commercials in 2016.

“In those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person — does that make sense?” he said of Mr. Cohn’s job and that of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, another immensely wealthy man whom Mr. Trump lauded as a “legendary Wall Street genius.”

“Brilliant business minds” are what the economy needs, he said.

Brilliant business minds like the Goldman Sachs guys who tanked the economy back in 2008? Or are you referring to yourself, Donald? All you are is a grifter, con man, and mountebank. I think it’s high time for a revival of the last word. It fits the Insult Comedian to a T.

One version of Lawyers, Guns, and Money is simply not enough, so WZ gets the last word:

No Mystery

It’s no mystery that the just released Senate health care bill is horrible.

It’s no mystery that Republicans want to destroy Medicaid and Medicare.

It’s no mystery that center-right Republicans will bitch and moan before falling in line.

It’s no mystery that Gret Stet Senator Bill Cassidy will vote as a Republican politician, not as a physician who worked in the Charity Hospital system.

It’s no mystery that Mitch McConnell has no respect for the customs and traditions of the Senate.

It’s no mystery that this reform* will inflict pain on millions of people and damage the economy.

It’s no mystery that Republicans think they can successfully lie to the voters about the impact of this wildly unpopular reform*.

It’s no mystery that I hope I’m wrong about some of this. Three no votes will kill this horrendous legislation. If you’re represented by a Republican Senator, please pick up the phone and call.

It’s no mystery that the last word goes to Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and Lenny White:

Take A Page From Their Playbook

torn_page_goldwater

To add my.000002 cents worth to what Adrastos says…sure it sucks to lose, and especially sucks to lose, in this case by proxy, to an utterly unqualified shit-for-brains like Trump. But the long knives and circular firing squad…only play into their hands.

I’m — at long last — finishing Rick Perlstein’s book about Barry Goldwater and modern movement conservatism, and one thing that sticks out is…despite getting their clock cleaned in one of the great electoral landslides, the hard right refused to give in/slink away…and sixteen years later elected one of their own.

True, their movement has continued to congeal into an utter ugliness. In my librul eyes that’s a combination of the vacuousness of the — for lack of a better term, ideology (idiotology?) itself — and the presence of true creeps like Newt Gingrich, who I consider toxic waste, so no need to emulate that, but…combine a simple enough message (which, I’ll admit, is above my pay scale), and decent candidates…

And I’ll try to take some solace in the Georgia close loss. Hell, no pun intended, but Southern GOP voters take party identification and voting almost as a matter of faith. Questioning one’s faith is never easy…so if some 5-10 percent took a good long look at Trump and his surrogate and recognized the charlatans for what they are.

It’s a step forward, at least.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Donovan’s Brain

Curt Siodmak wrote the screenplay for one of my favorite Universal horror movies, The Wolf Man. He also wrote novels. Donovan’s Brain was his biggest hit as a writer. I think the original cover had something to do with its success.

Deep Blog’s Separated At Birth Theory Of The Georgia 6 Race

You may recall my friend Deep Blog from the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. He only comes out during Southern elections, apparently. He has a unique theory as to what really happened in the Handel-Ossoff race:

I’m sorry that Ossoff didn’t handle Handel but it was *always* going to be an uphill climb in such a Republican district. I was among those who thought Ossoff’s best chance was winning the primary. He still ran a good race against the odds with a double-digit swing in the vote. It wasn’t enough but this is Newt’s old district for chrissake.

Ossoff’s defeat is disappointing. A win in the Georgia 6 would have been of great symbolic importance but symbolism isn’t everything. I live in the even Deeper South and his loss has nothing to do with his alleged ideological impurity. If Democrats are to mount a comeback in the 2018 cycle, we have to get over imposing purity tests and focus on coalition building. It’s how John Bel Edwards defeated David Vitter in the 2015 Gret Stet Goober race. Edwards is a blue dog but he’s governed as a center-left Democrat. If he had run as a proto-Berner, he’d be out of politics and Diaper Dave would be governor.

 As always, Josh Marshall nails how we should respond to last night’s loss:

What Democrats need to resist at all costs is the temperamental inclination to fall into spasms of self-loathing over this defeat – specifically, the idea that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the party because of this loss. I saw one Democrat on Twitter tonight ask if Ossoff’s loss didn’t mean “the Democratic party apparatus needs a total overhaul on every single level?”

Maybe the Democrats do need a fundamental overhaul. But doing 10 to 15 points better than a House candidate has done in this district since the 1970s simply isn’t evidence for that. There’s also a toxic desire on the part of many to use this painful defeat as an opening to relitigate intra-party grievances. Losing is hard. Taking a loss and getting up the next day to keep fighting to get to the next level takes endurance and guts. Many cannot resist the temptation to trade that sting for a toxic self-validation. All I can say to that is that parties build majorities by finding ways to unite competing factions over common interests and goals – something Donald Trump should help with a lot. They almost never get there when they are locked in internecine struggle or when either faction thinks it can or does destroy the other. That’s just not how it works.

This is a big disappointment. But remember, by any objective measure these races show a Democratic party resurgent and a GOP on the ropes. These seats came open because they were vacated by people Trump picked for cabinet appointments. They got those picks because they came from safe seats. They are by no means a cross section of House seats. The thing to do is learn what we can from coming up just short and move on to the next fight. No one should expect any of this to be easy. If you do, bow out of civic questions and just watch movies and TV. We need people with more endurance.

Speaking of teevee, I’ll give Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett the last word. Literally.

Cindy Incidentally

Some of our readers have reached out to ask how we’re faring with Tropical Storm Cindy. Thus far, very well indeed: Della Street remains defiant. We still have power but since the storm is lurking offshore, I thought I better post before we lose it. My friends who *always* lose power when it rains, have lost it but not their shit. Sorry, y’all.

I woke up this morning and wondered if  it was all over but the teevee shouting. Instead, it’s the lull before the next band of rain comes our way. It is not, however, anything comparable to past systems and most of us are using it as a dress rehearsal. Weather Channel danger guy Jim Cantore will just have to be disappointed. He’s reduced to hanging out with the Mayor:

I’d like to point out that Mayor Mitch seems not to know that one runs away from Cantore. What a poser.

The current storm names, Brett and Cindy, sound like high school prom royalty to me. Not scary at all. At least it’s not Cindy with an I. Of course, then we could crack jokes about the eye of this wet but relatively minor storm.

First Draft pun consultant James Karst summed up the local reaction to Cindy last night on the tweeter tube:

The chair recognizes the Faces for the last word:

The Keepers

I approached the Netflix documentary The Keepers with some trepidation. The story is grisly to say the least: a young nun was murdered in 1969 and the perpetrator *may* have been a priest accused of sexually abusing high school girls. It sounded  depressing and like something I’d seen before. I was wrong, In the hands of director Ryan White, The Keepers is more than just a fascinating real-life whodunit, it’s a moving story of survival.

We meet some remarkable people (mostly women) as the 7-part documentary unfolds. They include Sister Cathy Cesnik’s devoted former students Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub who are the most effective real life amateur detectives ever. The central figure of the film is clerical rape survivor Jean Wehner. She’s a brave, feisty woman who was given the runaround by Archdiocese of Baltimore who are still lying about the activities of the demonic priest around whom much of the action revolves: Joseph Maskell.

Because the series is set in Baltimore, comparisons to The Wire are inevitable. They’re also spot-on as Kathryn Van Arendonk points out at Vulture:

When I say that the series is like The Wire, this is a large part of what I mean: The shape of events at Archbishop Keough High School becomes clear through a multiplying, crisscrossing network of individuals with their own personal narratives, telling different pieces of the story from different vantages and wildly diverging interests. In one scene we watch Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub talking about how important it is to find justice for their beloved high-school teacher. In another, we see Jean Wehner struggling to recount her memories of abuse by the school’s chaplain. In yet another, the filmmakers interview Sharon May, who blankly explains why she never brought charges against the school during her time in the district attorney’s office. The total view of what may have happened at Archbishop Keough High School in 1969 only becomes clear from a distance, as an interlocking network of many, many stories.

Ryan White and his team ran down many diverse leads; most of which are plausible but all of which cannot be true. They chose to let the viewers decide. Wise choice. Most of the leads do, however, involve Maskell and the Archdiocese that chose to cover up his crimes. The church was lying about serious issues as recently as 2016. So much for reform.

For those interested in reading more about the people we meet in The Keepers, here are two more links:

The filmmakers seem to have inspired a renewed cold case investigation led by a detective who appears to be sincerely interested in solving the case. But the problem never seemed to be with the police, it was with the Archdiocese and the Baltimore state’s attorneys office. If there was a cover-up, it’s on them and the local political system. Joseph Maskell was not worth protecting: he should have died in prison instead of a church run hospice.

I give The Keepers 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A, and an exuberant thumbs up. This was just the sort of documentary that Siskel and Ebert championed when they were still with us. It’s a classic and I don’t say that lightly.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Batman Soundtrack

I still have the Bright Knight on my mind. Here’s more evidence of that:

Legislation Needs to Actually Do Stuff

For shit’s sake, THIS: 

The Senate bill, like the House bill, has two aims: to complete the final act of the Republicans’ six-year-long performance art piece, “Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” and to cut taxes for the very rich.

[snip]

Now that they have it all, though, the only thing they’re missing is an actual plan. Rather than push for a viable alternative like Medicare for All, or concede the ACA represents the best solution for insuring more people in a private insurance system and work to remedy its flaws, Republicans have decided to insure fewer people while shoveling money towards the rich. But they will be able to say that they finished their greatest work: They repealed and replaced. That’s why House Republicans passed their repeal largely without reading it, and before its effects could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. And no one captured the sentiment better than President-elect Trump in January. When asked at a press conference what his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare was, he offered the perfect answer: “It will be repeal and replace.”

But CNN will indulge them if this blobfish of a bill passes, with a FINALLY A WIN FOR TRUMP AND RYAN AND MCCONNELL, as if they’re the dumbass kid on the team who finally hit a run in T-ball. That’s all they know, and it’s all that matters to them now.

The abortion fights taught them this. Say what you like about the movement pro-lifers and I will say plenty, but on their laziest days they work harder at supporting their cause than do the politicians they elect.

To get voters, and donors, and get re-elected, the GOP didn’t have to address any societal problems related to women’s bodily autonomy or the economic realities of bearing children or the thorny medical issues that arise in trying to balance the life of a woman and the life of a fetus. They just had to show up at church and bleat about IT’S A CHILD STOPS A BEATING HEART IRRESPONSIBLE SLUTS PUNISHMENT ARGLE BLARGE FLAP. That was all they needed to do to win, and it worked, for the past 40 years. They won.

There’s going to be so much winning.

We’re tired of it, that’s for sure. We’re tired of people in office who don’t know how to do anything, these know-nothing Teawads who primaried actual adults (evil adults, but still) and need to have recent history explained to them like they’re children. Who think withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is good because fuck you. Who think you can yell North Korea into becoming another country. And who don’t have to care about what’s in health care legislation, to vote for it.

We’re tired of all the winning.

A.