Album Cover Art Wednesday: Time Peace

I usually don’t use greatest hits/best of covers for this feature. Why? They’re rarely very distinctive. Time Peace is an exception to that rule. This 1968 album from the Rascals has nifty pop art packaging and I love pop art. It pops and it’s art. Pop art.

Let’s start with the front cover:

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The gatefold continues the toon ambience of the piece or is that peace?

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With the exception of their radio hits, the Rascals are largely forgotten today. It’s a pity: they were a terrific Italo-American soul-rock band whose Hammond B3 dominated sound has always floated my boat. Time Peace is only available on YouTube in the playlist format. It’s well worth the hassle:

Collect Whatever Weird Shit You Want, But … This?

Ugh.

True story: Mr. A and Doc and the Missus and I were all in an antique store not too far from our house, and Missus and I were about to FUCK. UP. the vintage clothing in this place. The prices were crazy cheap and everything was in great condition. I had three suits on a pile and was considering some dresses when the guys, who’d wandered into the back of the store, came back and pulled us away.

“We’re leaving.” They looked like they’d seen ghosts.

“But it’s all so awesome, and we’re practically stealing, look, it’s like 20 bucks, come on.”

“Put it down. We’re getting out of here right now. We need to go. NOW.”

Turns out they’d taken a turn into a small back room in the store and found an entire collection, almost a shrine, of Nazi memorabilia. And this wasn’t like Granddad brought back a flag he took off some German soldier after the war was over. This was like, “Look at all our shiny Third Reich treasures aren’t they neat-o!” Some of it was for sale. All of it made their skin crawl.

I am not generally superstitious. I don’t actually believe had I bought a dress in that closeted Nazi shop it would have burned my skin. But I don’t understand wanting to keep actual Nazi artifacts around. It’s not that I think they’d whisper to me in the dark, it’s more … I don’t know, my place is small. The things I have around are things I like to look at.

And if you like to look at that, if you like to think about who it belonged to, that sounds like a pretty dark damn life.

A.

This Thing is Working. Let’s Kill It.

So I went on a bit of a tear on Sunday because I am sick of this shit.

To which Whet responded by showing me this: 

Texas Monthly bears the tagline “The National Magazine of Texas”–and it has lived up to the billing. Since its founding in 1973, the magazine has won 13 national magazine awards for public interest, politics, feature writing, and general excellence.

It was a mantle embraced by former owner Emmis Communications Corp, which sold the magazine in October 2016 to Genesis Park, a private equity firm co-founded by Paul Hobby, grandson of former Texas governor William P. Hobby, who owned the now-defunctHouston Post. The buyers quickly found a new editor in Taliaferro, 33, the former vice president for communications and digital strategy for Texas Exes (the University of Texas alumni association) and the editor in chief of Alcalde, UT’s alumni magazine.

Taliaferro spoke with CJR about his plans for Texas Monthly, which are a departure from the magazine’s long history of in-depth political coverage and longform journalism. Of his plans to scale back local political coverage, he says, “Texans don’t care about politics.” As an example of the coverage he plans to cut back on, Taliaferro cited stories on transgender bathrooms.

GAAAAAH.

Texans. Don’t. Care. About. Politics.

Jesus TITS.

This, however, is almost worse:

A statement on the Genesis Park website notes that “Genesis Park is the third owner of the Texas Monthly brand and will use its deep Texas relationships and media history to drive the brand into digital content, social media, expanded events, merchandising and a broader custom publishing business for the next chapter in Texas Monthly’s storied career.”

All of which is shorthand for “we will do anything BUT journalism.” I will grant that digital content and social media can enhance and even be journalism if done correctly, but it was like six seconds ago that publishers were falling all over themselves to produce A THOUSAND LIVE VIDEOS A DAY and then were like no, we will not do that now. Ditto slobbing Facebook’s knob for publication revenue that never really materialized.

So what the hell do merchandising and custom publishing have to do with running a good magazine? Events? Oh, goody, because there aren’t 10,000 event planners in the world. Isn’t it hard enough just to run a magazine? Why do you have to load it up with all this other bullshit too? Fer chrissakes, is it impossible to resist sticking your dick in every bees’ nest you see? If you have a thing that is making money, for God’s sake don’t poke it.

A.

On Enemies, and Their People

As the kids say, read the thread:

Okay, we’ve covered before the idea that this media hate is something new, either for Trump or the Republican party, but one thing we haven’t talked about is the money behind the media hate, the money that made it happen.

I’m not talking about the financing of Fox News. I’m talking about the money that left Fox News the only game in town.

Here’s the last 20 years, roughly. Large corporations bought up local papers in places like those Arnade travels, and then systematically killed those papers. This serial murder was helped along by TV news and the mobile Internet, but make no mistake, this was a slaughter sponsored by and enthusiastically supported by corporate interests in the name of profit and it would have happened even if Craig never made a List.

Local newspapers were the major source of news for Trump’s demographics, 25 years ago. Older, white, traditionally small-c conservatives and their slightly wealthier suburban children, who grew up picking up a paper from the porch. They likely would have done so forever if, you know, the local paper hadn’t fired half the staffers worth reading, filled its pages with AP and entertainment bullshit, cut the size of the paper, doubled the price, and then stopped delivering it altogether.

NONE of this was anything the journalists so stridently defending their existences on Twitter had anything to do with, but it is at the heart of both why Trump won and why his anti-media message is central to his appeal. It’s why “the media” looks to his voters like an unrecognizable conglomerate of what Arnade calls “front-row kids” talking about things they don’t care about.

I grew up in Trump country, in a small town in Wisconsin ruined by the collapse of manufacturing jobs and the weakening of organized labor and YES, by racism and isolation and resentment. I am 100 percent leaving everybody I know on the hook. But they — working and middle-middle-class people — knew “media.” They knew a reporter. A working reporter who went to their schools and lived next door and walked the dog on their block. They knew a sportswriter, a photographer, the kid who delivered the thing.

Kill the local paper, and you kill that familiarity, not just of the reporter for his community but of the community for its reporter, for ITS media. You make “media” an abstraction, at enough remove to hate.

And oh, boy, came the hate. Into the vacuum left by the death of local papers came conservative talk radio, head-first and stupid fast. And talk radio is the place where Trump’s voters learned there was another “media,” one that “hated” and “looked down on” them, one that didn’t share their “values.” Into the space once occupied by the voices of their neighbors came the voices of Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Belling, and Charlie Sykes, saying over and over that there is a force out there loathing and despising you and you’d better hate them right back.

Limbaugh and his ten-a-penny fascisti imitators were rich assholes bankrolled by other rich assholes, natch, but that didn’t matter when they were the only ones there. It was a 24-7 onslaught over the airwaves, and instead of countering that then, when it could have  been stopped, the leaders of media corporations bought those radio talkers and elevated them to respectability. Producers booked them on national shows. Editors ran (and still run) those hateful screechers on their opinion pages. And anyone who fought back was overreacting.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard I was overreacting, to a “joke” about a truck bomb killing my friends.

We’ve heard a lot since the election and especially since Trump started his latest crusade about subscribing to the Times and the Post to “support the media” and there are hashtags and pizza funds and such, all of which I think is nice. I like supporting big papers, though I’d like their own leadership to support them and stop publishing shite like this. However, trying to counter Trump’s anti-media message by buying into the Times and the Post and only watching CNN is a little like trying to rebuild your street by kicking in 10 bucks toward repaving the Brooklyn Bridge.

We’ve heard a lot since the election about rebuilding all kinds of infrastructure in small Midwestern towns and in neighborhoods where indifference and “did not vote” was the choice of 2016. Party infrastructure, the 50 State Strategy, fighting for every vote, all of that is important. We MUST, those of us who call ourselves progressive and care about a free press and a free society, include media infrastructure in that rebuilding.

I am not arguing for more condescending, fly-in Times stories about white racists and their clothes. I am arguing for more stories about their city councils, their local schools, their water boards, their police departments. I am arguing for stories about their crime and courts and I am arguing not to the local reporters trying to do this work already, but to the corporate bosses so reluctant to fund it for the amount of time it takes to make a damn dent.

“We tried local news sites,” they’ll protest. Yeah, for six seconds. Local newspapers built loyalty over LIFETIMES in communities, and people get mad when they can’t just yell “hyperlocal” three times and make Beetlejuice instantly appear.

This crap is also not helpful:

For rich companies’ rich employees like Chuck Todd to rage on Twitter about the devaluing of the press, well, Chuckles and all his friends could pool their pocket change and buy six small city or suburban papers, staff them, and get them on people’s goddamn porches every day. THAT would be valuing the press.

But are local papers still that important, with the Internet phone sand the Facebooking and the FakeNewz? Um, yeah. Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t use Twitter. Ten percent of the country doesn’t have high-speed Internet. Even in a huge city, how often do you get handed a flyer about a thing happening? Absent texting every single person on the planet (and ignoring that there are vast stretches of America where cell service blows goats) it is still HELLA efficient to print the news on a dead tree and physically give it to someone.

“Nobody on the subway with me today is reading the paper! They’re all on their phones!” Yeah, and everybody in my parents’ kitchen is reading the paper, so maybe neither of our experiences is universal. Yet media companies have utterly given up on print customers. They’ve decided “older, and not as many of them as there once were” means “not enough to give a shit about” and they’ve cut those people loose. So to make a local paper work you might have to give lots of papers away. You might need to market the shit out of your paper. You might need to invest in some newsboy-capped urchins to hand the thing out. It’s still gonna be a hell of a lot cheaper than literally anything else media companies are currently doing.

TRONC.

Absent a paper, a radio show might also be a good thing. The best thing, though, is to find the people already doing the work in these communities and support the shit out of THEM. Build up in the places you aren’t, instead of hunkering down where you are and hoping the President, whose entire appeal is imagined elitism, stops yelling at you. Stop hiding out and then wondering why nobody anywhere else knows you or loves you or values what you do.

Of course they don’t. You abandoned them years ago, on purpose, for money. I’m one of you and I hate you a lot of the time for it, too.

A.

SMV: Dr. John Live At The Newport Jazz Festival

It’s Carnival, so it’s Dr. John time:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

Rockwell

The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

Continue reading

Journalism: A shitty job in a nuclear winter

One of my former students became a science reporter a few years out of school and once found himself on a trip to Chernobyl. A group of researchers were collecting stool samples from people who lived adjacent to the old Russian nuclear reactor, trying to see if they were suffering from any radioactive poisoning nearly three decades after the meltdown.

He sent me a post card from the area with a final line I still love:

“Journalism. It’s a shitty job but somebody has to do it.”

I thought about him and that trip today when I was trying to read anything in my social media feed that wasn’t about Trump’s press conference. When all I was left with was if Steve Kerr was going to play Russell Westbrook alongside his four Warriors in the All-Star Game and Draymond Green clarifying his “slave-owner mentality” statements, I gave up.

Trump’s hour-plus screed was a brick of uncut alternative facts, packaged in a wrapper of vulgar abuse and denigration. The word “rambling” might be overused at this point and I don’t think it goes far enough. It was like he took every topic of interest or a point of pride he has, wrote them on bingo balls and then had the machine spit them out to determine the order of his talking points.

The biggest problem came when he started taking questions from the press, one of his favorite targets of abuse. A reporter from Ami Magazine, a conservative orthodox Jewish publication, offered Trump the olive branch he was desperately seeking, a pass on personal anti-Semitism. However, as Jake Turx tried to ask Trump to explain how he planned to fight this problem, Trump just stepped all over himself, assuming Turx was calling him anti-Semitic and then told him to sit down and shut up.

When a reporter refuted Trump’s claim that his 306 (actually 304) electoral votes was the most since Ronald Reagan, he dodged with “I meant Republican victory.” He then was told Bush 41 had way more, which led Trump to blame his staff for the information.

Perhaps the worst moment is the one most people are noting: Trump’s clash with April Ryan, a long-time member of the White House press corps. Ryan, who is African-American, asked about Trump’s plans to improve urban areas that he often referred to as terrible hell holes and wondered if he’d reach out to the CBC and Hispanic caucus in congress. Trump seemed unaware of what CBC stood for, but upon learning it stood for Congressional Black Caucus, asked Ryan if she’d set up the meeting for him.

“Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked her in what could only be described as a confrontational tone.

At this point, I had two thoughts:

  • Based on his “you all know each other, right?” approach, I was amazed Trump didn’t start off with, “Hey, I loved you in ‘Hidden Figures!’ What’s your question?”
  • If you believe that Sean Spicer isn’t getting fired, buy stock in Orbitz. This guy is going to put a dent in our national supply by Saturday.

This press conference, naturally, scared the living shit out of me as a citizen, but my one saving grace is that I can turn off the TV or ignore the news. The journalists who have to work in this environment are like the people at Chernobyl in 1986, going shirtless and using some Windex to clean up the mess.

Journalism has always been a shitty job and it takes a weird breed of person to do it. If you don’t believe me, you should have been in our student newspaper’s newsroom this week. Conversations regarding a dead squirrel, double entendres about a professor “coming” and whether Meatloaf’s “I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)” was about anal were among the most acceptable for public consumption.

The kids do this for almost no money, which will get them ready for a career in a field where cutting positions and salaries is an annual ritual. They talk to people who don’t want to talk to them about things everyone wants to know but no one who knows is willing to disclose. (A student told me an administrator offered him about a three-minute “No Comment” on a topic we had been covering. My first response, “Did you record it so we can use it as a quote?” The answer, of course, was “yes.”)

Abuse in this field is common. I’ve been called scum, an asshole, a weasel, a vulture and worse. One lady told me my mother didn’t raise me right. I’m sure there are worse ones that I’ve just blacked out of my memory. It got so bad that I used to have a recorder attached to my phone so I could record the abuse. That way, when the person on the other end became sweet as pie to my boss and accused me of random shit, I could just play him the tape.

The thing that amazes me about all of this is that we keep having more and more kids entering this field with the idea that each one of them probably has (at the very least) one Cousin Carl who believes everything not on Breitbart is fake news. Many of the kids I teach come from the Rural Red areas of the state where family members at Thanksgiving ask things like why they aren’t earning an “honest living” like “Gene the Retard” down the way who sells dachshunds out of his trailer.

One kid who recently changed majors to journalism sat with me after I mentioned that a long time ago, when I was changing from pre-law to something or other, Dad told me I needed to find a field where I could get a job.

“As long as you aren’t majoring in English or something else stupid like that, I don’t care,” he said. “You just need to be able to get a job.” (Incidentally, English was going to be my major right up to that moment…)

The kid’s dad had said something similar when he made the change to journalism and he wondered what was out there for him. I explained about the various ways the skills he picked up in journalism would make him a fine hire for a ton of great jobs. He relaxed and then asked, “Can you tell my dad that? He runs his own business and he thinks this is a stupid move.”

Of course it’s a stupid move, if you enjoy low-stress jobs with good benefits and career security. It’s also a stupid move if you enjoy being liked and you don’t want your illusion shattered when it comes to thinking the best of people. It’s a really stupid move for 1,001 other reasons that undercut sanity and longevity. Still, the kid felt like he found the right major, so like a moth to a flame, he decided to stick with it.

I was glad for that and I’m looking for more just like him because we need those guys and gals to fill in the ranks of reporters, editors and other journalists who push back every day against the tide of bullshit. Talking to kids who want to be the next reporter to be told, “Sit down! You’re fake news” really energizes me and makes me want to get them ready to go in the corner and fight for the puck. That’s why this weekend finds me at a journalism convention in Minnesota where kids from a lot of small-college Midwestern schools will show up and learn how to write, report, dig, challenge and fight better.

Best of all? The person running the convention told me the number of attendees this year is higher than it has been for the past several mid-winter conferences.

And, like any other decent journalist, I’ll make sure to check it out before I believe it.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Dennie Meets The Insult Comedian

Dennie the Den of Muses cat found an unusual spot to nap last week before Krewe Du Vieux marched. She spent much of the week lying on the back of a Krewe of Craps built effigy of Donald Trump in the stocks. It was tremendous. Believe me.

Here are a variety of pictures taken by my krewe-mates Wendar, Chris, Jennifer, and, of course, Dr. A. The last picture features my old pal Loki.

Dennie Trump

Dennie Trump

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Finally, this is the best picture of Dennie. What cat doesn’t like scritches?

Dennie Loki

Malaka Of The Week: William Happer

An eminent physicist who’s on the faculty at Princeton is openly campaigning to become the Insult Comedian’s science adviser. He has an impressive curriculum vitae and is certainly qualified for the position. There’s a rub: he’s a climate change denier. And that is why William Happer is malaka of the week.

Dr. Hapless Happer gave an interview to the Guardian wherein he shared his views on those of us who believe in climate change:

“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”

Are they Moonies, Scientologists, or Hairy Fishnuts, Dr. Hapless Happer? They’re all inclined to be glassy-eyed and the first cult is pro-GOP. Scientologists are down with Trumpism because they believe greed is good and selfishness is where it’s at.

Dr. Malaka also supports the gag order imposed by the morons at the Brown House:

Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.

“So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don’t listen,” he said, citing childhood vaccines as an example. “The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts – real facts.”

Real facts, Dr, Malaka? Do you mean the facts as spoken by your dear leader? I wonder if you understand the Faustian bargain you’re entering into. Trump listens to no one and insists on unconditional subservience. Are you ready to lick Bannon’s jackboots and be humiliated by the president*? That’s what the job entails.

Dr. Malaka derides scientists who believe in climate change as members of a cult. He’s about to join a cult where staffers are required to clap every time the dear leader speaks and retweet his increasingly incoherent rants. The hapless Happer might end up on the streets banging a tambourine and selling MAGA caps as punishment for displeasing Trump or Bormann Bannon. The only one who’s drinking Kool-Aid is Dr. Malaka. It’s Trumper Kool-Aid.

Happer doubtless thinks he’ll be an important and influential man if he becomes Trump’s science guy. Wrong. He’ll be just another one of the Insult Comedian’s dignity wraiths who will skedaddle back to a cold welcome at Princeton when he quits or is fired. Dr. Malaka is not only a climate change denier, he’s a world-class naif. And that is why William Happer is malaka of the week.

 

 

 

Thanks, Y’all

I’d like to thank everyone who donated to VAYLA’s New Orleans East Tornado Relief fund. They’ve exceeded their original goal and have raised nearly $20K.

Here’s another chance to give:

What would a post like this be without some musical gratitude?

Stanton Moore is a New Orleans musician so I decided to let the exclamation point slide.

Gun Nuts

madhouse_poster-copy

Maybe the GOP-controlled Congress wanted to prove they too could mix elements of incompetent stumblebum and amoral jackassery … or maybe they just did it for, I dunno, fuck’s sake … but they voted to remove restrictions on buying guns for individuals who qualify for mental illness Social Security disability.

Or maybe they consider it a basic constituent service, i.e., you’d have to be nuts to vote for these nitwits.

The doubling down on stupid has gotten so extreme that in Michigan they’re even floating the idea of Kid Rock for US Senate, which makes me shudder to think what they might have in mind for Ted Nugent.

Sure, so far Trump et al have been merely superlative boors, which I expect delights their base, but so far they haven’t actually had any kind of honest-to-goodness crisis that unfortunately tends to happen in the reality-based world…and with all indications suggesting that comparisons to Warren Harding might be unfair to Harding and that the benchmark for Trump isn’t even George W. Bush, but James Buchanan…

Damn.

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Brave New World

Dystopian fiction is hot right now. I cannot imagine why. Brave New World was one of the first dystopian novels. It has remained in print since its initial publication in 1932.

Here are two of the many covers Huxley’s book has had over the years:

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Power Before Country

Comatose 2017

Krewe of Comatose float. Photograph © by Ride Hamilton.

It’s not original to think that the 21st Century Republican party *always* puts power before country. It’s Athenae’s pet hobby-horse. She wrote quite eloquently about it just yesterday. It’s time for me to climb on back of said rocking horse and join in. I’ll try not to break it. That would be too much like Henry Drummond’s Golden Dancer story in Inherit The Wind for my taste, and I try not to be overly derivative.

What am I on about? Read and learn:

I was seven years old, and a very fine judge of rocking horses. Golden Dancer had a bright red mane, blue eyes, and she was gold all over, with purple spots. When the sun hit her stirrups, she was a dazzling sight to see. But she was a week’s wages for my father. So Golden Dancer and I always had a plate-glass window between us. But—let’s see, it wasn’t Christmas; must’ve been my birthday—I woke up in the morning and there was Golden Dancer at the foot of my bed! Ma had skimped on the groceries, and my father’d worked nights for a month. I jumped into the saddle and started to rock— And it broke! It split in two! The wood was rotten, the whole thing was put together with spit and sealing wax! All shine, and no substance! Whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect-seeming—all gold, with purple spots—look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie—show it up for what it really is!

That’s how Republicans *should* have reacted to the Trump phenomenon from the git-go. The Trump “movement” is all shine and no substance, much like the Insult Comedian’s taste for gaudy, glitzy, goldleafy decor. I shuddered when I heard that the Trumps might redecorate the White House living quarters. It’s the people’s house and the thought of any of it resembling Trump Tower is nauseating. In the immortal words of Garth Algar: “I think I’m gonna hurl.” Holy crap, I’ve gone from Spencer Tracy and Fredric March to Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. And I’m okay with that. 2017 is the 25th anniversary of Wayne’s World, after all. Excellent. Party time.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, the rottenness beneath the surface shine of conservative ideology. They’ve made a deal with the devil to get tax cuts for the 1% and to take away people’s health care among other horrors. It’s being done in the name of freedom but it’s really just selfishness. In that way, Donald Trump epitomizes what has happened to the GOP since the Reaganite wave election in 1980. Who’s more selfish than the Insult Comedian? If you know anyone, please keep them away from me.

In the wake of the Out like Flynn moment, there was a fleeting notion that Congressional Republicans might conduct a proper inquiry of the improper Russian connection. That moment has already passed because they realize this fiasco is apt to land at Donald’s doorstep. He was warned weeks ago that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail and nothing happened until Monday night. Why? I believe Trump (aka Putin’s Pawn) knew of, and initiated, Flynn’s contacts with Putin’s people. Flynn is not the only senior administration* official who has been compromised by the Russians: every word spoken, and action taken, by Trump indicates that he is susceptible to KGB-style blackmail. As Josh Marshall put it this morning: Flynn doesn’t matter. This is about Trump.

I’m not sure where this is headed. Events have been Russian by at a break neck pace. Flynn resigned while I was publishing my post about him, which had my head spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. It’s certain that Trump administration* is headed for the rocks, it’s only a question of how extensive the damage is and who will be forced to jump overboard along with Flynn. It’s irrelevant whether he was pushed or jumped. The scariest thing about this week’s events is that Bannon is piloting the ship. The B3 Brownshirts are trying  to turn the White House into the Brown House. They’ve even unleashed Bannon’s creature Stephen Miller on the media. Unlike the rocker, he’s no Joker. Maurice would kick the little bastard in the balls.

There’s been a lot of discussion about prosecuting Flynn and other Trumpers for violations of the Logan Act. I, for one, am leery of that idea. The statute has been on the books since 1799 and it has only been invoked twice with no convictions. It was passed by a Federalist Congress and signed by President John Adams. It was aimed at the Jeffersonian Republicans who sided with the more radical factions of the French Revolution. In short, it was designed as political payback. It was mentioned by pro-Roosevelt forces during the isolationist America First moment but was never used. Wise choice.

Dusting off a 218-year-old statute to go after the Trumpers is a bad idea as far as this lapsed lawyer is concerned. It is a very frail reed and could easily be ruled unconstitutional if tested in the courts. That means anyone convicted under the law would walk and the GOPers would scream political persecution. The potential for backfire outweighs any positives.

The Logan Act is much like Golden Dancer in Henry Drummond’s story. A conviction obtained under it would be like Henry’s rocking horse: “The wood was rotten, the whole thing was put together with spit and sealing wax! All shine, and no substance!”

There’s an understandable temptation to fight fire with fire and sink to the Republicans level. I’m all for the resistance but we lose if we become carbon copies of them. Unlike our enemies, I believe in putting country before power.

I’ll give Spencer Tracy as the Clarence Darrow-like Henry Drummond the last word:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Woke Up With A Monster

Scary clowns were in vogue last year. I haven’t heard much about them thus far in 2017. Perhaps it’s because the scariest clown of all is in the White House.

Woke Up With A Monster came out in 1994 but the title track described how the country felt on November 9, 2016. We’re still trying to recover from the hangover. It’s an ugly album cover for ugly times.

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Looks like just another day on the parade route to me.

The back cover features a shot of the band being Cheap and Tricky:

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The full album isn’t YouTubular so here are some selected tracks. The video for the title track is pretty darn trippy, man:

The band also cut a version of John Lennon’s Cold Turkey during the Monster sessions:

Today in Things That Were Always Bullshit: WCHA Dinner

Keep pretending Trump doesn’t hate you and maybe it will magically be true! 

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is not a mood ring. It doesn’t care if President Trump — or any president — likes, dislikes, celebrates, scorns or ignores White House reporters. The annual gala does not indicate, illustrate or represent the relationship between the White House and the reporters who cover it. It is an institution that celebrates one bedrock American value, the First Amendment, and two journalistic goals: to highlight excellent reporting and to award scholarships to the next generation of American journalists.

That has always been true. But the Trump presidency has inspired some in the press corps to boycott this year because — if I have this right — reporters are too good for Trump.

Or  because he directly threatened and encouraged his supporters to threaten and in some cases attack them for having the gall to show up and record his rallies.

Samesies.

My outlet, CBS News, will participate this year and proudly so. If they back out now, organizations that attended last year ought to explain what is different about this year. Is it Trump? Or is it them? Skipping needlessly hands an evidentiary cudgel to Trump and his acolytes that reporters cannot and will not cover his presidency objectively.

Lord knows that they’re waiting for evidence before making any claims, lest they be accused of exaggerating or outright lying. Heaven forfend.

They don’t need evidence. They already hate you. This would just provide an opportunity for them to hate you more. And the idea that there’s some unwritten rule that you have to laugh while they do so in front of others is just ridiculous.

Besides, Trump is hardly the first president to see the press as his enemy. Other presidents have at times demonstrated contempt for journalists, limited our access, circumvented us and questioned our motives. I’ve covered three of them.

And every single time you should have told them roundly to fuck right off.

Look, I’m sorry you’ve been debased in the past and made peace with your debasement, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep letting that debasement go on. You can start to stick up for yourself right now today at any damn time, so why not pick right now today? Why not pick Trump?

You’re afraid they’ll accuse you of bias? Do you think these people pay attention to FACTS? Have you met the election we just had? Have you seen these fucking frog-boys and their elderly enablers? All they want is to scream LOCK HER UP at some chick. They do not want to thoughtfully consider that my oh my, the press has now demonstrated willingness to treat Trump fairly and therefore we shall cease calling for your fiery death.

Schmuck.

A.

But They’ll Let Me Cut Taxes, Mom!

Republicans were always gonna be okay with it: 

In effect, congressional Republicans have sought to compartmentalize Mr. Trump’s presidency, adopting a cafeteria-style approach. They reach for the more appealing offerings, such as the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, and avert their gaze from less appetizing or, to some, downright indefensible elements (America is not so different from Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia), which would have surely drawn relentless rebukes if uttered by President Barack Obama.

Some lawmakers take comfort knowing that the president’s behavior last year didn’t hurt their campaigns, and they have used the electoral result as a justification unto itself, suggesting — as Mr. Trump has constantly — that his campaign success validates his approach.

“He’s a unique personality, to be sure,” acknowledged Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip. “But he’s gotten this far the way he is, and I think that probably leads him to think, well, it’s working for him so far, so why change?”

And Republican lawmakers do not mind?

“As long as we’re able to get things done,” Mr. Cornyn said.

They were always gonna be fine with basically being in hock to the Russian mob.

They were always gonna be fine with unsecured e-mail, unhinged Twitter, incoherent interviews, babbling speeches, and lie after lie after lie after lie.

They were always gonna be fine with a cabinet run by Goldman Sachs and the oil industry.

They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them cut taxes.

They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them repeal Obamacare.

They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them push their 20-week abortion bans and personhood laws, their birth control restrictions and defunding of mammograms for poor women.

Oh, sure, one or two of them might say something mean to a reporter or on Twitter, but none of them were actually going to hold a hearing, or vote against a cabinet nominee, or encourage others in their party to break ranks.

Why would they? He lets them get things done.

This was all obvious to anyone with half a brain who was doing anything like actually looking at what was happening during the Republican primaries, but we still had six months of stories about how surely, any minute now, the grown-ups in the GOP were going to take control back from this tangerine-tinted madman and restore order in the land.

Surely his cabinet would save us! Surely he would surround himself with smart people who would run things while he just, like, golfed or something. Surely he would jettison all the white supremacist rhetoric and govern as a moderate! The office will change and mature him! The party will keep him in line!

Those of us functionally awake during the Obama era, during the Sarah Palin’s Facebook Rules Our World era, during the Don’t You Want to Fuck George W. Bush era, during the Senator Saxby Chambliss era, during the Purple Heart Band-Aid era, said no way no how is any of this going to happen, because we are not idiots, and we know what the Republicans of the last 20 years are about.

They’re about cutting taxes, repealing Obamacare, gutting business regulations, slapping their foreign policy on the table, and punishing women for having sex. And they are willing to put up with anything they have to put up with in order to get that stuff done.

So spending time with them now asking REALLY? REALLY THIS IS OKAY WITH YOU? isn’t going to shame them into acting right, into filing articles of impeachment or invoking the 25th amendment or even written a sternly worded letter or two. I keep seeing these bewildered stories, like, “Isn’t there anything that would convince you your party’s president has gone off the rails?”

No. There’s nothing that would convince them of that. There’s nothing they are willing to do about it and there never was.

There’s something we can do, however.

We can remember that they’re like this. We can, for once in our ahistorical, nonsensical political lives, internalize and forever recall that the GOP has no loyalty to anything but the concept of itself, and the next time we’re offered a choice between one of them and another candidate, we can vote for their opponents.

A.

In Like Flynn

I took a few days off from following national politics as closely as usual. Of course, more shit has hit the fan. Splat. These bozos have only been in power for 24 days. It feels like 24 months.

The sordid saga of Trump’s nutty national security adviser Mike Flynn gets weirder by the moment. The MSM is positing that Flynn might get fired for lying to Mike Pence. Think on that for a minute. My nickname for the Veep* is Liar Liar Mike Pence On Fire. Everyone in this administration* lies incessantly, so firing someone for mendacity seems bizarre even for this crowd. His lies make Flynn fit in; hence the post title In like Flynn. It’s also an Errol Flynn joke but Mike Flynn is no Errol Flynn although, like the actor in They Died With Their Boots On, he may be headed for his last stand.

Every time I think it’s impossible for the Trumpers to be more incompetent, they top themselves. It’s a rare talent. What’s next? Who the hell knows. They’re conducting foreign policy as if it’s a game of pick-up sticks and the president* has no idea where they’ll land and no idea what do with them when they do. Incompetence in foreign policy is dangerous. Remember the last Republican administration? They couldn’t organize a two car funeral but this one is baffled by the logistics of a one car funeral.

Flynn is likely to go since his West Wing rivals are hanging him out to dry in the media they claim to despise. But they need to come up with a better reason than: “he lied to a liar.” In short, they need to lie about why Flynn is out instead of in.

I think the Trump administration* needs a theme song. Only one will do: Topsy Turvy Town.

INSTANT UPDATE: Flynn is no longer in but out. The crazy fucker just resigned.

Crass Menagerie

Crass Menagerie

Krewe du Vieux rolled on Saturday night. It was a blast to march through the streets of the Marigny, Quarter, and CDB. I did my share of spanking and handing out throws. The Krewe of Spank’s theme was strictly local as you’ll see below but several Krewes did Trumpian themes. Below are two of the better efforts.

First, the Krewe of Mishigas with a sci-fi twist:

Mishigas 2017

That’s right, it’s Jabba the Trump.

Second, the Krewe of KAOS. Their marchers dressed as droogs, which was simultaneously brilliant and simple.

Kaos 2017

The first set of photos were taken by my old friend Brian. He also captured us Spanksters as we milled about whilst stalled. I’m not in the picture but Dr. A is:

Spanksters 2017

Spank has always done local satire. This year’s theme took a poke at JazzFest. We’ll begin with two views of the float taken by my pal, Christy Boom Boom Brackenberg:

Spank Float 2017

Spank 2017

Dig that crazy Spank-o-vision, y’all.

One of our throws was a sensation and still has the twittering classes abuzz. It’s a two-sided post card-sized parody of the JazzFest schedule cubes:

Cubes front

Cubes 2017

The cubes are, of course, loaded with fictional and wildly inappropriate acts.

A few quick notes:

Krewe du Vieux is *always* cold except for 2017. It was in the mid-70’s, which meant it was hotter than hell as we marched in our costumes. It was unnatural. We’re supposed to shiver, not sweat.

There are people in Krewe du Vieux who didn’t get the Glass Menagerie pun. The Glorious Bird weeps.

The crowd was huge and better behaved in the Quarter than in past years. Of course, it helps when you’re wielding one of these:

Paddles

And yes, people want to be spanked on the parade route. I don’t have any pictures of me doing so, all I have for you is this tweet:

Carnival is hard work. And there’s more to come. Let’s close with some seasonal music:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – courting disaster edition

It’s the day of the 9th Circuit Court’s decision on the legality of the ban-which-isn’t-really-a-ban-but-sorta-is!

The Freeperati are ready to go! They can taste victory!

BREAKING: 9th Circuit to Issue Ruling on Trump Temporary Travel Ban at 6:30 ET

BREAKING: 9th Circuit to Issue Ruling on Trump Temporary Travel Ban at 6:30 ET
Gateway Pundit ^ | 2/9/2017 | Jim Hoft

Posted on ‎2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎17‎:‎04‎ ‎PM by sheikdetailfeather

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced they will issue a ruling on President Trump’s temporary travel ban.

Washington Judge James L. Robart filed a temporary restraining order on President Trump’s refugee ban from seven terror states.

**********

Fox just announced this as well.
1 posted on ‎2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎17‎:‎04‎ ‎PM by sheikdetailfeather
I thought you guys were calling Fox “fake news” these days?
To: sheikdetailfeather

In case of a loss on this issue, can Trump make other orders which are similar? Can he ban all immigration in the interestof National Security?

13 posted on 2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎23‎:‎50‎ ‎PM by DrDude (To the Victor go the spoils! Kick A$$ Trump.)

Only if he wants the U.S. to declare war against a country. And the way that crazy son of a bitch is going, that just might be on his fuckit list.
To: sheikdetailfeather

I’m going to be positive and say they will support Trump’s Executive Order.My reason….They don’t want to be put down by the Supremes.

16 posted on 2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎25‎:‎25‎ ‎PM by Sacajaweau
supremes
.
(tune in next week to see “sheikdetailfeather” and “Sacajaweau” call Elizabeth Warren “Pocohontas” – fun for the whole family!)
To: sheikdetailfeather

Probably 2-1 against. The Obama and Carter judges will go against Trump, the Bush one in his favor.Despite that, I do have a respect for the Carter-appointed judge that heard this case. He has the right temperament for a judge; the Obama one is a huge hack.

17 posted on 2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎26‎:‎01‎ ‎PM by Trump20162020
To: sheikdetailfeather

This is about an hour away now.The answer better be: Yep, President Trump has the authority.

Or what? You’ll un-appoint them?

Robart, shut up.

22 posted on 2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎28‎:‎30‎ ‎PM by backwoods-engineer (Trump won; I celebrated; I’m good. Let’s get on with the civil war now.)

“Let’s get on with the civil war now”?

How did that civil war thingy work out for you guys the LAST time you tried it?

.

To: sheikdetailfeather

Hmm Red Meat for the protesters

Or a bucket of Ice water down their skivvies?

57 posted on 2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎43‎:‎23‎ ‎PM by Gasshog (Clinton denies… Expect to see a lot of this)

I hope you’re wearing thermal undershorts.
.

To: eyeamok

I know! Sickening Huh?! Why even bother to have an election for president or senators – congressman when these asses have more power and control the trashing of the constitution by making up their own laws and enforcing the people to abide by their rules!

homerconstitution

This is so F!

59 posted on ‎2‎/‎9‎/‎2017‎ ‎4‎:‎44‎:‎23‎ ‎PM by RoseofTexas

Fastidious? Fine? Foreordained?
Fabulous?
 .
SNLgayGuy
.
Click on the “read more” with antici……
.

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‘only the players are flipped’

Ugh, peak “both sides:” 

Republicans are getting an unexpected jolt from both the left and their own anxious base at these town halls — and it’s a moment that looks like a mirror image of the national mood almost a decade ago. The common thread between then and now: One party in control of Washington undertaking a massive change to Americans’ health care. When Democrats were in Republicans’ situation in 2010, they lost control of Congress and haven’t regained it since.

Let’s back up. In 2009, Democrats had large majorities in Congress and controlled the White House. They quickly drew on their political capital to pursue one of the biggest changes to the American health-care system in decades.

That summer, before Obamacare became law, Democrats across the nation went home to their districts and were caught off guard by passionately angry constituents — mostly conservative — at town halls, fearful of how Obamacare might take away their rights.

Here are some major differences for everyone in this room who is an idiot.

  1. The Republican concerns about the ACA were completely baseless and in some cases outright falsehoods: death panels murdering people in their beds and so on.
  2. Those concerns came from Republican politicians and Republican-controlled media pushing scare stories nonstop.
  3. The current protests and pushback on GOP legislators are coming from no one in office since most Democratic senators can’t find their asses with both hands and a posse right now.
  4. That pushback is occurring not on one issue but on many: climate change denial, cabinet appointees either unqualified or evil or both, ethical violations that would give Richard Nixon multiple orgasms, and an immigration “policy” as incoherent as it is racist. Oh, yeah, and proposing to repeal the only health insurance option many people have.
  5. With the exception of the latter, these are not hypotheticals. The constituents who are so rudely confronting their GOP reps are reacting to actual things that are happening right now or have already happened: Legal immigrants getting harassed and detained at the border, ICE going door to door asking for people’s papers, journalists being threatened and charged with felonies, and oh yeah, that really bitchin’ torture ban (weaksauce though it was) getting thrown out the window. Plus actual votes on repealing Obamacare.

So please do not come at me with this:

In 2017, the initial script appears to be the same, only the players are flipped.

Only the players. Sure.

Only the players, their intentions, the consequences of their actions, the relative power of the people their actions will affect, and OH YEAH IF THEIR ACTIONS HAPPEN TO BE IN ANY WAY REAL OR JUST SOME MADE UP TALK RADIO BULLSHIT DESIGNED TO GET PEOPLE TO VOTE REPUBLICAN. For fuck’s sake, it’s no wonder everybody just gives up on politics when the journalism is this goddamn dumb.

Are Thursday’s town halls early warning signs of a historically major loss to come for Republicans in the 2018 midterms? (Not likely in the Senate, given the map is so favorable for Republicans.) Is this a movement that will give rise to new liberal leaders in a party that many believe desperately needs them? Or will moments like Thursday’s events pull the Democratic Party further to the left in a way that hurts its electoral chances? Will these people even vote in 2018, given they expressed their frustration after the election?

THREE MILLION MORE OF US EXPRESSED OUR OPINION ON ELECTION DAY BUT YOU CONFEDERATE-ENABLING GOATFUCKERS HELD A THERAPY SESSION FOR THE WINNERS INSTEAD OF TALKING TO US.

I’M SORRY I’M YELLING SO MUCH.

Really.

But this whole “politics is a big giant game of pieces moving and none of it really affects people” genre needs to die a fiery death. Instead of comparing how people are mad today versus how people were mad eight years ago, maybe figure out what they’re mad about and if that anger is based on reality or crap, and adjust your editorial agenda thusly.

A.