Saturday Odds & Sods: To Keep My Love Alive

The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey

The weird weather continues apace in New Orleans. Our fall tease lasted three whole days, followed by a warm-up and a mini-monsoon last Monday, Moday. No wonder John Phillips found that day untrustworthy. Dr. A drove us home  from a krewe meeting during the deluge and engaged in some nifty puddle avoidance. It’s not supposed to rain that much or that hard in October. Climate change? What climate change?

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1943 for a revival of their 1927 musical, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s CourtTo Keep My Love Alive is best described as a chipper murder ballad. Hart’s lyrics detail the manifold ways in which the protagonist bumped off her 15 husbands in order not to cheat on them. It was the last song Larry Hart wrote before his death later that year at the age of 48.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Ella Fitzgerald from the Rodgers and Hart Songbook and the preternaturally perky Blossom Dearie.

My favorite stanza is the final one:

Sir Atherton indulged in fratricide,
He killed his dad and that was patricide
One night I stabbed him by my mattress-side
To keep my love alive.
Larry Hart’s love of puns and word play is one reason why I prefer him to Rodgers’ other writing partner.  Hammerstein could never have written those lyrics. I do, however, love his first name: Oscar.
Now that we’ve compared and contrasted Hart and Hammerstein, it’s time to jump to the break. Be careful which mattress-side you land on.

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Adrastos On The Bimini Bummer At The Bayou Brief

My latest piece at the Bayou Brief is called Hart-Atwater: The Louisiana Connection. I take a skeptical look at James Fallows’ recent article, Was Gary Hart Set Up?

The Bimini Bummer is my new nickname for Gary Hart’s ill-fated meeting with Donna Rice, which led to this National Enquirer front page:

 

Quote Of The Day: President* Anger Troll

Image by Michael F

There’s a thought-provoking piece at Slate by Lili Loofbourow about political rage, which is all the rage in the age of Trump. Here’s the money quote:

As tactics go, this one is dumb and transparent, but it’s worth describing it because it works. It works a lot. Trump is not a genius. But he instinctively understands the dynamic of provoking and then delegitimizing someone else’s pain. As Adam Serwer wrote, he’s energized by the suffering he causes others and—secondarily—by the bond that ritualized cruelty forges with his base, which has been connected by fear of others. From Trump’s perspective, it’s kind of funthat people feel compassion for the families he separated. It’s delightful that women are worried about rights he has expressly said he wanted to take from them. And, after insulting and belittling people he’s supposed to be governing, he enjoys acting surprised that they mind.

It’s a silly and ugly game, but it’s the only true rule of Trumpism: be the sorest winner imaginable. Aspire to nothing but power and status. Hold no principle sacred. Withhold justice and insult those who object. Yes, the effects of this are predictable. It doesn’t take a genius of social engineering to be the “why are you hitting yourself?” guy. All it takes is a willingness to be him.

Rage trolling and sore winning are the only things he’s good at. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Friday Catblogging: What About Me?

Della Street was outraged that a usurper took her place last week and was linked to by Crooks & Liars. The nerve of some people.  One more dirty look and all will be right in her furry universe:

Robert Cray gets the last word:

Election Countdown Time

I’ve been busy writing a piece for the Bayou Brief about the Hart-Atwater mishigas or as I call it, the Bimini Bummer. That article will be up tomorrow. All I’ve got for you right now is this:

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That’s not quite right. I’ve also got this timely tune:

The High Priests Of The Cult Of Savvy

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I’m with Charles Pierce on this.

She is accused of “playing on Trump’s field.” So what? Only a child believes that there is one field on which an election is contested. And, truth be told, the elite political press has a great deal to do in defining what the “field” of play actually is. It was the elite political press that helped establish the “field” of play in 2016, even though they’d rather pull out their own fingernails than admit it. The way you win an election is that you beat the opponent on his field, on your field, and on any neutral fields that pop up during the campaign.

It might be worth remembering the backstory, given that I doubt Elizabeth Warren ever thought she’d have to defend this or deal with it in the first place. If I recall, this was nonsense dug up by the Scott Brown campaign: Warren included a family story in a brief bio of the kind that colleges routinely publish in “who we are” promotional material. Unknown to her, Harvard University used this to cynically tout their own cause.

Brown’s smear was elaborated upon by the puke funnel, and topped off by Orange Narcissus’s particular short-fingered vulgarian touch…a smear that implied Warren, and by extension her family, were undeserving, opportunistic liars, unfairly attempting to claim quota status…which is exactly the sort of lie a media worth the name would immediately put an end to. Or, absent that, might at least note how reckless Brown et al were in describing their opponents as a “basket of deplorables”…wait, sorry…I meant undeserving liars getting free stuff that regular (i.e., white) folks can’t.

Oh, and that the Senator is, you know, a little girl.

As far as I’m concerned, Warren’s response is exactly what she should do: stand up to a bully, close the chapter, and move on. It’s also an excellent introduction of a good, even superb, candidate for high office.

But, as usual, the where-are-the-Republican-heroes cultists and their enablers will do everything they can to keep the playing field tilted rightward. Hence, the handwringing and head shaking. She wasn’t…sufficiently savvy, in their august judgment.

Well…fuck ’em.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Vanishing American

The Vanishing American was an atypical work for Zane Gray. He was best known as the author of cowboy oriented Western novels. But he always had a soft spot for Native Americans. Here’s how Goodreads describes this book:

 Considered one of Zane Grey’s best novels, The Vanishing American was originally published in serialized form in the Ladies Home Journal in 1922. It reveals Grey’s empathy for the Native American and his deep concern for the future survival of that culture.

It is the story of Nophaie, a young Navajo, who is picked up by a party of whites at the age of seven. White parents bring the child up as though he were their own, eventually sending him to a prestigious Eastern college where he distinguishes himself by his outstanding athletic skill. The Vanishing American is about Nophaie’s struggle to find a place in society. On a larger scale it is about all Native Americans and their future in America.

Without further adieu, here are two covers:

Baseball historian John Thorn wrote a piece about the book because the main character seems to be based on Jim Thorpe.

Finally, the two film versions of the novel treat it like your basic Zane Grey oater.

The Buzz Word Election

Buzz words are nothing new in American politics. They’re as old as the Republic itself. The Jeffersonians called John Adams a royalist tool of the English crown.The Federalists, in turn, called Jefferson a Jacobin tool of the French revolutionary rabble. And on and on and on.

The malevolent spirit of the Insult Comedian looms large over the 2018 campaign. Until recently, GOPers claimed that they’d run a campaign on taxes and the economy, which is straight out of the Reaganite playbook. That barely made a dent in the wall of noise and scandal surrounding the leader of their party. Even the author of the House tax cut, Pete Roskam, who is in a tough race, isn’t talking about it. Why? The majority of the country knows it benefits the 1% and nobody else. Besides, the Obama recovery seems poised to become the Trump recession. Trade wars are not easy to win.

When you’re losing, what do you do? Smear your opponents and resort to scare tactics no matter how preposterous. The Insult Comedian has laid the groundwork for the dumber elements of the Republican base to believe almost anything. That’s where buzz words come in handy. Besides, it’s 2 weeks until Halloween. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

In the Arizona Senate race, decorated veteran Martha McSally is running an aughties throwback campaign against her Democratic opponent Krysten Sinema:

Arizona Republican Martha McSally accused her Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema of once advocating for “treason” on Monday, calling out her rival’s old comments during the pair’s sole debate to fill the state’s open Senate seat.

“You said it was okay for Americans to join the Taliban to fight against us,” McSally said, raising her voice and pointing emphatically at Sinema, who stood about 10 feet away, as the debate neared its conclusion, referencing a 2003 radio interview. “I will ask right now whether you’re going to apologize to the veterans and me for saying it is okay — it is treason!”

Is it 2002 again? It sure sounds like it to me.  A reminder that there’s a dark side to the current warm and cuddly image being painted (pun intended, it always is) of George W. Bush. His favorite buzz words were “treason” and “soft on terror.” He learned scare tactics at his father’s knee during the 1988 mudbath. It’s not just Trump, y’all. It’s not just Trump.

McSally has resorted to scare tactics because she’s trailing in the polls. In Texas, Ted Cruz has been pulling ahead of Beto O’Rourke but buzz words are his thing. The two candidates debated last night and the non-asshole from El Paso barely got a word in edgewise as Slate’s Jim Newell pointed out this morning:

But I shouldn’t mock: Cruz is leading O’Rourke consistently by five to ten points in the many, many Texas polls that have come out in recent weeks, indicating that his strategy of casting O’Rourke as a far-left extremist in a center-right state is working. He stuck to it on Tuesday night, suffocating O’Rourke with so many allegations to respond to that he barely had the oxygen to tear Cruz apart.

By his closing statement, Cruz had successfully drawn his lines. If O’Rourke had his way, you wouldn’t be able to open your eyes in Texas without seeing an illegal immigrant having a partial-birth abortion. The economy would be in ruins as Democrats, led by Chairman O’Rourke, seized control to turn the nation into a bankrupt welfare factory—for illegal immigrants. Judges, with alarming word-per-minute speeds, would be typing radical left-wing regulations to ration health care and obliterate business. Border walls would come down, allowing the forces of Juarez to conquer El Paso and march to the east. Police? Forget about ’em. Banned.

“Do we choose fear,” Cruz concluded, “or do we choose hope?”

“I believe in hope.”

Tailgunner Ted’s rhetoric is smarmy, cynical, and self-contradictory. BUT he’s an effective debater and Texans have been programmed to believe this nonsense from birth. If he were so inclined, Beto could cite liberal Texans such as Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson but his campaign seems focused on proving that Beto is cool. Look: he skateboards, was in a rock band, and quotes the Clash. Kewl. I don’t think Hispanic voters give a rat’s ass about how cool Beto is, which is why he’s underperforming in that vital demographic.

Here’s the deal: I like Beto. I think he’s an excellent campaigner but his team has focused on bragging about fundraising, yard signs, crowd sizes, and how cool he is. Repeat after me: yard signs don’t vote.

I think Texas will continue to be a Democratic white whale. I hope I’m wrong, but the election seems to be slipping away from Team Beto. The upcoming Trump-Cruz rally may prove to be the last nail in Beto’s very cool coffin. Texas seems poised to choose the Tailgunner over the Skateboarder.

It’s time for national Democrats to focus on other races including that of the uncool but competent Florida Senator Bill Nelson who is fighting off a challenge from Governor Rat Boy. The  good news is that Andrew Gillum’s bid to succeed Scott is generating buzz and he and Nelson should be able to help one another. Synergy is what a corporate puke would call the combination of the moderate white guy and the progressive black guy.  I call it political magic.

I remain cautiously optimistic about the House. I think that Republican voter fuckery and a decade of egregious Gerrymandering will keep our gains to between 25 and 45 seats. But  righteous indignation among women voters and the many gifted Democratic women running for office could change that. But voters will have to wade through a muck of Republican lies and buzz words. Let’s hope thebuzz words don’t sting too badly.

At the risk of being repetitive, Harold Lloyd in Safety Last gets the last word:

I am guilty of using my last word mantra as a buzz word. I think we need some inspirational music. Ain’t nothing more inspirational than the Boss:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Captain Sad and his Ship Of Fools

Susan Cowsill of “the original family band” lives in New Orleans so  I ran a search for Cowsills album covers. The cover of 1968’s Captain Sad and his Ship Of Fools is a beaut. What’s not to love about clean-cut youngsters wearing masks with a pantomime ship captain in the mix?

I’d never heard this album before and I really enjoyed it. The Cowsills’ gorgeous harmonies shine through on this record as does a distinct McCartney influence in the writing and arrangements. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have two covers for your perusal: the masky one and an alternate cover that rips the mask off the Cowsills. But Captain Sad is smiling. Bad Captain Sad, bad.

The biggest hit on the album was Indian Lake. I have two-fer’d the American and Spanish single covers or is that side-by-sided?

The Cowsills were also the spokesfamily for the American Dairy Association. Here’s the punniest of the print ads:

Finally, here’s the whole damn album in the YouTube playlist format.  It’s great fun and there weren’t any commercials until after the 8th track.

People Have Always Fought Back

In the worst times, people fought back: 

 The Bund created youth groups, newspapers, illegal schools, and a courier service that transmitted news across occupied Poland; the latter’s operatives exchanged information at soup kitchens that the Bund set up as cover. Money came from New York-based organizations like the Jewish Labor Committee (founded by Vladeck), smuggled by Jewish girls pale enough to pass as Polish gentiles. Later, that money paid for hiding places and guns. After October 1940, when Nazis began herding Warsaw’s Jews into the Ghetto, the Bund organized the teeming tenements into committees dedicated to cultural, as well as physical, survival.

[…]

The Bund’s long relationship with Polish socialists allowed them to breach the ghetto walls, sneak in Polish resistance soldiers, and provide the world with some of the first accounts of the Nazi genocide, through the testimonies of Zalman Freidrych and Jan Karski. Through these networks, news filtered out, and weapons flowed in. In April 1943, three months after the first brief battle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, one final arms shipment smuggled by Bundists got through the Ghetto walls.

How many Nazi troops died in that doomed revolt is still disputed. Three hundred, according to Bundist Marek Edelman, who assumed command of the ZOB, after its first leader committed suicide to avoid surrender. Sixteen, claimed the SS commander Jürgen Stroop, who had every reason to suppress the true figures. What is known is that it took the most feared military force in Europe three weeks to subdue 750 starving, inadequately-armed captives. Even then, the ghetto fell not to fighting, but to fires, set by German flamethrowers and incendiary bombs. Some 13,000 Jews died in the rebellion. In London, Artur Ziegelboim, the Bund’s representative in the Polish parliament in exile, took poison in a futile attempt to rouse the world from its indifference. The words of his suicide note read: “I love you all. Long live the Bund.”

Emphasis mine. Read the whole thing.

A.

My Billionaire Versus Your Billionaire

I know I am supposed to be grossed out by money and politics, and I am, I guess, but honestly right now this is the least important thing:

Pritzker seems an unlikely champion of working people. He is a venture capitalist himself, born to enormous wealth. His billions of dollars almost make Rauner, despite his half-dozen-plus homes, look middle class.

I hear a lot of ragging about this all the time: Oh, it’s just two billionaires fighting. Battle of the rich guys! It makes me insane every time because what a lazyass way to look at this.

J.B. Pritzker and Bruce Rauner are not equally terrible because they both have money. Bruce Rauner is not terrible because he’s a billionaire. He is terrible because he’s a Trump-humping jackwagon who, like many Republicans, ran on an anti-government platform and had no interest in governing. He spent two years getting chewed up by the state legislature, which anyone with a half a brain could have told him was going to happen if he tried to institute budget cuts on the backs of teachers and union members because Illinois saw what happened in Wisconsin and wasn’t gonna have any of it.

Pritzker wants to raise his own taxes and he’d rather my kid not die in a school shooting and he doesn’t seem terribly interested in obliterating higher education or women’s health care. These differences MATTER. Where candidates stand on policy MATTERS. We keep reducing politics to what you get on your cheesesteak and where you grocery-shop and that is stupid. Two people can have a similar amount of money, and thus a similar experience of how they move through the world, but that doesn’t mean they have a similar intent for the job of governing and that intent is what’s important.

The experience they both have of being rich is context for their on-the-job behavior, not a qualifier OR disqualifier. Not every rich person wants to use his wealth in ways that are unproductive or immoral. Not every poor person is some kind of noble savage.

I would like for us to have a governor who knew what it was like to be broke, or scared, but more than that I would like a governor who is going to help people who are broke or scared regardless of whether he’s been those things himself. When you’re in a position of authority you have power over all kinds of people you’re nothing like, and you’re supposed to be able to work with them regardless of whether you’ve been them or not.

You should be able to understand the importance of, say, public transportation not because you use it but because you can look at a report that shows how many people use it and why and what for, and glean from that the idea that it is something you should pay attention to. You should be able to contextualize things you don’t personally experience, as an adult, and have an understanding of what you can do to improve others’ lives.

That’s the job. Of being a person in the world, sure, but also of being a leader. You can’t possibly have personal knowledge or experience of every situation, but you can have policy positions for things you care about and those things can be helping people who are nothing like you.

It’s not as easy as just sitting back and saying, “Meh, two billionaires” but let’s put our backs into this, the world is literally on fire.

A.

Of Dictator Coddling

The MSM is fond of calling everything about the Trump administration* unprecedented. In many cases, they’re right: to use the most obvious example, past presidents did not publicly trash the FBI. JFK and LBJ loathed J Edgar Hoover but the latter reappointed him based on the pragmatic Johnsonian notion that he’d “rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.” Besides, like his hero FDR, Lyndon enjoyed the gossip J Edgar Hee-Haw shared with him.

The notion that Trumpian Saudi coddling is unprecedented is, to use the Insult Comedian’s favorite phrase, fake news. In dealing with the medieval Saudi family dictatorship, oil has always been the decisive factor, not human rights. When he wasn’t coddling the Shah of Iran as president, Jimmy Carter was coddling the Saudis. Despite his sincere commitment to human rights, Carter sold arms to the Saudi family dictatorship. Repeat after me:

The presidents Bush were noted Saudi coddlers as well. Who among us can forget the image of W and holding hands with then crown prince, later King Abdullah?

One might even call that image Abdullah and the dullard. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Back to the whole unprecedented thing. While American dictator coddling goes way back, Trump has taken it to heights unseen since the Cold War. Ronald Reagan’s UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, drew a distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. According to Jeane and Ron, the former rocked and the latter sucked. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a distinction without a difference, but it was classic Cold Warrior doctrine.

The tragedy of Saudi dissident/WaPo columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, illustrates how far gone the Trump regime is in its “human rights don’t matter” policy. Trump has been dancing around the issue for day, he has even passed on a theory from Saudi King Salman that “rogue killers” are behind the Khashoggi murder instead of Jared’s pal, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, hereinafter MBS.

In part, the Khashoggi affair has captured the world’s attention because of its whodunit aspect. The possibility that his iWatch captured what happened has excited geeks everywhere, but the real importance of this tragedy is that the president’s* “the media is the enemy of the people” rhetoric has given a green light to dictators to kill their journalistic enemies. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

The only upside of the Khashoggi affair is that it has ended MBS’ reign as the IT dictator. There’s always one: even Bashar al-Assad had a brief stint as a Westernized IT dictator before he became the chemical weapons-using Butcher of Damascus.

The best thing I’ve read about MBS as the fallen Prince Charming is by Jim Rutenberg in the Failing New York Times:

The embrace between the American establishment and the leader known as M.B.S. was set to continue in Riyadh later this month at a business conference hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed. The sponsors, partners and participants of the conference — known informally as “Davos In The Desert” — included a number of media companies: CNBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Economist, CNN and Fox Business Network.

With the exception of Fox, which is reviewing its participation, all of those organizations pulled out as the Khashoggi story climbed most-viewed article lists and drew cable coverage. The story’s popularity was helped along by its thriller-like qualities, which included the allegation that the journalist’s body was dismembered with the aid of a bone saw before it was removed from the consulate.

And suddenly the “M.B.S.” moniker took on a grim new meaning among the plugged-in set of Washington: Mister Bone Saw.

That sounds like a nickname that could have been used on The Sopranos. I doubt, however, that slain dissident’s corpse will be cut up at the Istanbul equivalent of Satriale’s Pork Store. Life continues to imitate The Sopranos even in the Muslim world.

There’s another worrisome aspect of this story: MBS’ close relationship with the Trumper Princeling, Jared Kushner. There are rumors of bribes in the form of Saudi loans to Slumlord Jared’s teetering real estate empire. Barrels of Saudi oil money can definitely grease the wheels in the most corrupt administration in American history.

These are tough times for those of us who believe in the Wilson/FDR/Carter emphasis on human rights around the world. Those three leaders did not always practice what they preached, but the Current Occupant could care less about human rights. John Bolton’s hobby as National Insecurity Adviser has been bashing and abandoning the UN Human Rights Council, after all.

All of the Insult Comedian’s comments about Saudi Arabia have been tinged with envy. He recently “joked” about America’s having a president for life some day. The idea of a hereditary Trump family dictatorship excites him even more than conning the suckers at his next campaign rally. He’s like a toddler with a new toy. One could say that we’ve gone from dictator coddlers to dictator-envying toddlers. Repeat after me: from coddlers to toddlers.

I eagerly await the next twist in the Khashoggi murder story. I dread the next twist in the Trump dictator coddling story.

Let’s close this post on a lighter note. The last word goes to The Beatles:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

UPDATE: The Saudis have their cover story. It looks as if they’re going to claim that Khasshogi’s died in an unauthorized interrogation gone wrong. Since Team Trump is applying the Russia Rules to the Saudis, the White House will buy whatever they’re selling even if the story is ridiculous.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “How now, down DOW?” edition

Quickie today (yeah – I know I said that LAST week) as Freepers declare “I’ll tumble for ya”.

Dow tumbles 650 points to new low on day, bringing 2-day losses to more than 1,400 points
CNBC ^ | 10/11/2018 | Fred Imbert

Posted on 10/11/2018, 1:57:57 PM by BradtotheBone

Stocks fell in volatile trading Thursday, a day after the major indexes suffered steep losses sparked by higher rates and a sell-off in tech shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 650 points lower, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,400 points. The S&P 500 dropped 2.1 percent and was on pace for a six-day losing streak. The broad index also broke below its 200-day moving average for the first time since May. The Nasdaq Composite pulled back 1.5 percent and entered correction territory.

The major indexes fell after some of the major tech names failed to recover from steep losses in the previous session. Netflix fell more than 1.5 percent after briefly trading higher. Apple also declined 0.8 percent, erasing earlier gains.

Tech shares fell more than 4.5 percent on Wednesday, marking their worst day since 2011. The sell-off led to the Dow sinking more than 800 points and the S&P 500 dropping more than 3 percent. It was also the 28th time since 2011 the S&P 500 posted a more than 2 percent decline, according to data from Birinyi Associates.

“It’s a momentum correction, not a portfolio correction,” said Joe Terranova, chief market strategist at Virtus Investment Partners. “While we have a bias to believe 2008 could happen again, I don’t think this is the case.”

“Less is more in this environment,” Terranova added. “I think you need to be an observer of the guidance you get in earnings.”

Stocks tried to rebound earlier in the day after the release of weaker-than-expected inflation data. The U.S. government said the consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in September, well below the expected gain of 0.2 percent.

**********************

Not Good!!!
1 posted on 10/11/2018, 1:57:57 PM by BradtotheBone
Thanks for that cutting-edge analysis.
So – who’s to blame??
To: BradtotheBone

Soros.

2 posted on 10/11/2018, 1:59:04 PM by cowboyusa (America Cowboy UP!)

I don’t know why I bother.
To: BradtotheBone

The Dow is getting crushed.

3 posted on 10/11/2018, 1:59:23 PM by tatown

SO much winning!!

To: BradtotheBone

Billionaire RATs trying to crash it before the mid-terms.

Yep – because nothing says “billionaire” like losing 1400 points on your investments.

IF only evidence of it could be found.

4 posted on 10/11/2018, 2:00:25 PM by lgjhn23 (It’s easy to be liberal when you’re dumber than a box of rocks.)

AliensItWas
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More at the “continue reading” clicky link thingy.

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Not Everything Sucks: Free Food Edition

Whenever Black Lives Matter does anything in downtown Chicago, where, you know, people pay attention to stuff, the local newspaper’s highly paid scolds bitch that the young activists never “protest in their own communities” and ask where their attention is to the problems people in Chicago’s predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

Right here, you smug jackwagons: 

The location of the food box was picked when members of Black Lives Matter Chicago, who at the time were volunteering at the Bronzeville Community Garden, learned people in the community were going hungry, Ethan said. So they decided to commit to stocking the box with food. He said already there’s been a great deal of positive community feedback.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Paul Simon Unplugged

Paul Simon weekend continues with this 1992 appearance on MTV:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s finally showing signs of cooling off in New Orleans even if it appears to be a cruel autumnal tease. The cool front helped keep Hurricane Michael away from us. It was a beast of a storm that battered the Florida panhandle and provoked PTSD flashbacks in the New Orleans area. Best wishes to everyone in the affected areas.

In more savory local news, Advocate food writer Ian McNulty wrote a piece about the surfeit of new restaurants in the city. Ian is worried that we’re losing the thread with so many eateries dependent on the tourist trade. New Orleans didn’t become a great food city with tourist traps but with restaurants serving locals. One Oceana Grill is enough. Just ask Gordon Ramsay:

You didn’t have to take that so personally, Chef Ramsay. Piss off out of my post.

This week’s theme song is appropriate because I usually post Saturday Odds & Sods at the stroke of midnight. Some of my regular readers look for it then. One would hope they’d have something better to do.

Paul Simon wrote Late In The Evening in 1980 for his One-Trick Pony album. Simon also wrote and acted in a movie of the same title, which sank without a trace. I always thought horses could swim…

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit single followed by a scorching hot live version from 1992’s Born At The Right Time tour.

I used a painting by New Orleans/Ocean Springs, MS artist Walter Anderson as the featured image because he famously tied himself to a tree during Hurricane Betsy. We grow them eccentric in these parts. If things had gone wrong, it would have given a whole new meaning to the term tie-dyed.  If that pun doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, nothing will.

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Red State Election Fuckery

While I’m avidly following the 2018 campaign, as a voter I’m on the sidelines because I have a Democratic Congressman, the Gret Stet statewide election is next year, and Double Bill Cassidy is not up until 2020. There *is* an important ballot initiative that will abolish non-unanimous jury verdicts but otherwise I’m mostly punditing in 2018.

I used a picture of the Selma Voting Rights Mural as a reminder of how precious the right to vote is. Voting rights were among the most important accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement. People have died for the right to vote. It’s why everyone should vote in every election: never forget the 2000 Florida recount that gave us the Bush-Cheney regime and the Iraq War. The world would be a different place if Al Gore had prevailed. Anyone who says Democrats don’t get mad and hold grudges has never spoken to me.

Minority voting rights remain under attack in red state America. Gerrymandering has had a deleterious impact on representative government. That’s why flipping state houses and leges is just as important as retaking Congress with a census coming up in 2020.

There are two egregious examples of red state election fuckery in 2018. In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp is the GOP nominee for Governor. He has refused to recuse himself from active involvement in managing the voters rolls and the election process. Some 53K voters have been purged from the polls: almost all of them African-Americans. If this is a coincidence, I’m a Republican.

Kemp’s Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, is trying to be the first African-American woman Governor in American history. She’s slightly behind in the public polls but has a good chance to win, especially if ant-voter purge litigation succeeds.  Abrams’ race has been overshadowed fund-raising wise by Betomania. If you’re looking to donate to a candidate with a chance to win, please consider helping Ms. Abrams. A black woman governing Georgia would send a powerful message to the world. It’s time to put the new back in New South.

Waller County, Texas sits between Houston and Austin. It is notorious for voter purges and has been since the local machine was run by Democrats, not Republicans. Waller County officials have been trying to prevent students at Prairie View A&M from voting since 1972. The reason is obvious: PVAMU is a historically black college.

Things have gotten out of control as an aide to Democratic Congressional candidate, Mike Siegel, was arrested after delivering a letter to Waller County authorities about the latest round of election fuckery. It appears that he was arrested for the crime of being a Democrat.

Last night, Rachel Maddow had a great segment on Waller County election fuckery:

If that doesn’t make you want to throw the Republican rascals out, I don’t know what will.

This is why the Supreme Court erred in gutting the Voting Rights Act. Fuck you, John Roberts.

Repeat after me: there are 25 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Meet Lillian

My friend Carolyn recently adopted a young black cat named Lillian. She has a bed that is best described as meta. Here are two views:

The President* Of His Base

Hurricane Michael blew up in the last two days before landfall. It became a Category 4 storm and the 3rd most powerful in our nation’s history. The good news is that it was a fast mover. The bad news is that it cut a wide swath of destruction through the Florida panhandle. Michael was such a powerful storm that the NWS will put the name on its inactive list. Climate change? What climate change?

While Hurricane Michael ravaged the panhandle and moved on to Georgia, the president* attended a fund-raiser and rally in Pennsylvania. He tweeted out his pretext for not focusing on the storm.

The rally was in support of GOP Senate candidate Lou Barletta who trails incumbent Bob Casey Jr. by 16 points in the Real Clear Politics poll aggregate. The Insult Comedian’s presence was about ego gratification and his ongoing refusal to take hurricanes seriously. Tweeting out shit is not enough: a real president would be on the job, a lesson George W. Bush learned the hard way. That’s better politics than mocking the #MeToo movement. But Trump is an applause junkie who lives for the roar of the crowd and “lock her up” chants. Asshole.

It’s not original to observe that Trump is the president* of his base. Instead of seeking converts, he attacks anyone who is not already in his camp. It’s how he was elected and he reckons that it worked. Good politicians are nimble and allow their pitch to evolve. What worked in 2016 may not work in 2018. I also firmly believe that people hate a sore winner, which describes GOP behavior after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Most presidents love the unifying role of head of state. Some of the best presidential speeches in our history have been made at times of national or international mourning. Bill Clinton’s facility as head of state is one reason he made a political comeback after the 1994 midterm disaster. His speeches honoring the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing and the memory of Yitzhak Rabin were classics.

The best head of state in my lifetime was Ronald Reagan with Barack Obama a close second. Reagan loved the ceremonial aspects of the job and reveled in every opportunity to be a unifying figure. I opposed his policies but his speech after the Challenger disaster made me verklempt. If we had a constitutional monarchy, Reagan would have made a fine king. He had an intensely loyal base BUT, like his hero FDR, he loved being the unifier-in-chief. Trump is all about chaos and division. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

Speaking of Reagan, his presidential library has introduced a Ronald Reagan hologram:

A smiling Ronald Reagan waves to a crowd from aboard a rail car during a 1984 campaign stop in a new hologram revealed Wednesday at the late president’s namesake library in Southern California.

“We think we made a good beginning, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” the high-tech digital resurrection of the nation’s 40th president exclaims in his steady voice, with a twinkle in his eye.

Reagan, who died in 2004, also shows up in a suit and tie inside the Oval Office and clutching a lasso alongside his dog, Victory, at his beloved ranch in two other holograms that will open to visitors Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library west of Los Angeles.

Holo-Ronnie should make an appearance at a Trump rally and repeat the memorable line from his 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter when the Current Occupant tells a lie: “There you go again.”

I wonder if the crowd would chant “lock him up” or if that’s reserved for nasty, uppity women.

Repeat after me: there are 26 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.