We Need to Remember How Fast Trump Happened

Because it helps us remember how fast we can undo it.

This man, 100 days ago, was our Secretary of State: 

The Paris Agreement wasn’t written overnight; it was the product of decades of negotiations and debates over which countries needed to do what and when. We brought the global community together around a shared understanding that, ultimately, every one of our nations had to act. The final text is not legally binding. It is rooted instead in mutual accountability. The international community committed to work together for maximum impact. Each country would determine how ambitious its climate policies could be, given its unique circumstances, but all would strive to be as forward-leaning as possible. The countries that needed extra support — in the form of technical or financial assistance — to achieve their goals would get it. And critically, all would report regularly on their progress and hold one another accountable.

I would imagine that most countries thought that the United States would be leading the charge when it came to applying pressure and holding others accountable to their pledges — so did I. Nonetheless, the United States was just one of the 196 parties to adopt the agreement. We can’t allow dysfunction in Washington to give other leaders in the world a free pass to back away from the bold sense of cooperation that permeated our long meetings in Paris. Mutual accountability has never been more important.

I spent Election Day 2016 headed to Antarctica, where I talked with researchers who didn’t mince words. A scientist named Gavin Dunbar described what they’re seeing there as an unmistakable “canary in the coal mine.” He warned that “some thresholds, if we cross them, cant be reversed.” The Trump administration may decide to bet against scientists like Dunbar and his colleagues. But rest assured: Most Americans stand with the world in making a different bet — a bet on science, a bet on reality. We understand that we have to move forward, with or without Washington.

God, he would have been an extraordinary president.

A.

Local Tool Can’t Handle Kids Asking Questions

It never ceases to amaze me that the GOP is the party of big swinging dicks, of Strong Defense Daddy, of Git ‘Er Done, because when a girl who weighs 90 pounds soaking wet asks her local rep to do something like hold a town hall meeting, that GOP rep freaks out like he’s just seen a sea monster: 

A group of University of Illinois students gathered in D.C. Tuesday to confront Congressman Rodney Davis.

The group visited Davis’ office voicing some of their concerns about higher education.

 The organizer recorded a Facebook live of the confrontation which had more than 8,000 views as of Wednesday.
Students asked Davis why he wouldn’t meet with them for a town hall meeting and in the video.

“I’m not surprised,” organizer, Anna Sekiguchi, said. “He was extremely dismissive and condescending and I think that speaks to how he views his constituents and specifically students.”

Davis then took to Facebook himself to post a longer video of him acting like a whiny asshole, along with more whining assholery:

Last night, you may have seen a story on FOX 55/27 Illinois about University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and University of Illinois Chicago students who came to my DC office for a photo Anna, Scheduling Director for the Illini Democrats, had requested. What the story didn’t mention was the students did get their photo and why the students were eventually asked to leave my office. Here is the entire Facebook Live video filmed by the students. I am happy to meet and speak with students but shouting and aggressive behavior is not productive.

“Aggressive behavior?” Again, the biggest person in that delegation is somebody I’m pretty sure this guy’s mom could take in a fight.

The full video, which he thinks exonerates him, shows him immediately getting turned off after realizing the woman speaking to him is a Democrat. He shows her card to the camera several times, saying “Democrats” in a “/redpill MGTOW commenter” voice, refuses to engage beyond that, and splits from the office like it’s on fire. He’s refusing to talk to his constituents, they went to him, he acted like a giant baby, they made chicken noises, and he fled.

Tell me again how we need Republicans in charge so that we can feel protected.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Jackson Browne Live

Here’s a 1992 set from the I’m Alive tour:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Into The Great Wide Open

The Millinery Shop by Edgar Degas.

It’s the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Absent free tickets, we’re not attending this year. We will, however, be going to our top secret location just outside the Fairgrounds to hear Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’d be heartbroken if we didn’t do that. I hope that the weather will co-operate. There’s a chance of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. So it goes.

Hats are popular at Jazz Fest. That’s one reason I posted the Degas painting as the featured image. Another is that Degas spent time in the Crescent City visiting his Creole family; some of whom identified as black and others as white, much like the Herriman-Chasse clan I recently discussed in this space. It’s why gumbo is used so often as a metaphor to describe the natives. I’m equally inclined to compare New Orleans to a crazy quilt. The creator of Krazy Kat was born here, after all.

In other local news, the Saints have signed 32-year-old running back Adrian Peterson. His age is not my problem with the signing: it’s his status as a child beater. I wrote about it 3 years ago: Adrian Peterson Did Not Spank His Son, He Beat Him. So much for all of Sean Payton’s blather about bringing in players with “character.” This one has or had a “whooping room” in his Houston area house full of belts, switches, and the like.

This week’s theme song comes from the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album of the same name. Into The Great Wide Open is best known for its swell video and “rebel without a clue” chorus. The latter surely applies to the current occupant of the White House. The deplorables among his supporters are a rabble without a clue.

While we’re on the subject of Tom Petty, here’s a sleeper track from that very album:

I’m fond of that song because it reminds me of one of the main drags of my native Peninsula: El Camino Real. That’s the king’s highway in Spanish.  It spans several Bay Area counties and was where teenage me used to cruise. We didn’t have the internet to occupy us so we drove about aimlessly. One of my cronies always called it the Elk. That’s a bit too gamey or clubby for my taste. It must be time for the break.

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You can’t spell “PENIS” without “E-S-P-N”

ESPN experienced the journalistic version of a mob hit on Wednesday, when 100 staffers (or about 10 percent of the “front-facing” staff) found out they no longer had jobs. According to published reports, the staffers got called in early in the morning, were placed around speaker phones and had prepared statements read to them to let them know their services would no longer be needed.

The firings weren’t culling deadwood analysts or former jocks who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with a searchlight and a posse. The firings included people with nearly 20 years of experience, such as college basketball expert Andy Katz, NFL insider Ed Werder and investigative reporter Steve Delsohn.

Network President John Skipper dug deep into his “The Pointy-Haired Boss’ page-a-day buzzword calendar” to explain the firings:

“Our content strategy — primarily illustrated in recent months by melding distinct, personality-driven SportsCenter TV editions and digital-only efforts with our biggest sub-brand — still needs to go further, faster … and as always, must be efficient and nimble. Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent — anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play — necessary to meet those demands.

Wait… Where have I heard something like this before?

Today we underwent and completed a reduction in personnel in our news division in several of our Tennessee markets, as part of a transformative strategy for the USA TODAY NETWORK–Tennessee.   We recognize that this has been a tough day, and we respect and appreciate the work of all our colleagues, especially those who have been impacted by these actions — through no fault of their own.

We’ve previously spoken about the new ways we will be able to better serve readers, communities and customers as we fully form the statewide network.   Today was the first step as we re-secure and level-set our economic vitality to support our journalism.

Right, but I thought I heard that somewhere else…

Gannett president and CEO Bob Dickey explained in a memo to employees announcing the cuts: “These moves are central to our transformation into a leading, next-generation media company. The positive impact of these efforts will take time, which in the near-term requires us to assertively manage our costs.

Looking ahead, Dickey wrote: “Over the next 18 months, we will continue to build our scale and invest in important digital capabilities and experiences — such as critical e-commerce infrastructure and significant upgrades to our digital content platforms.”

Maybe, but I remember some other bullshit phrasing…

“In essence, we are resetting the legacy side of our business so we can continue to publish a high-quality newspaper delivered to loyal subscribers’ homes seven days a week,” Silvestri wrote in an email to employees on Monday. “At the same time, we also push ahead on adding to our growing digital audiences and developing new revenue segments such as premium magazines, e-commerce, paid RTD events, sponsored content, and archive products and services.”

Reeeeallly close but…

The story, which can be accessed through this link, details the formation of NOLA Media Group, a digitally focused company that will launch this fall and that will develop new and innovative ways to deliver news and information to the company’s online and mobile readers. NOLA Media Group will be led by Ricky Mathews. Also this fall, The Times-Picayune will begin publishing a more robust newspaper on a reduced schedule of Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only … Many current employees of The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com will have the opportunity to grow with the new organizations, but the need to reallocate resources to accelerate the digital growth of NOLA Media Group will necessitate a reduction in the size of the workforce.

THAT WAS THE ONE!

Trying to make sense of this is like trying to fuck a porcupine: It’s not worth it and even if you pull it off, it still hurts. ESPN decided that it wanted to save money and it’s always easier to cut people than it is to improve anything else. In doing so, it looked like the company just started throwing darts at an employee list and made the cuts accordingly. Anyone with a brain has already made the obvious realization that a) this won’t save ESPN money in any meaningful way and b) won’t improve the product.

If anything, we are supposed to learn from the fuckups of others. When newspapers were fucking over subscribers, cutting content and wasting money on “re-envisioning content-based engagement” with readers, most intelligent observers saw this as nothing more than a profit grab: Save money in the short term, kill the publication in the long term. As that continues to come to fruition, ESPN (which had always been a cut above when it came to seeing where things are going and getting there first) decided to follow the same shitty path as their ink-stained counterparts.

In some cases, we won’t notice the missing people, just like you don’t notice when your team cuts some fourth-round draft pick during training camp. However, overall, as the team begins to atrophy and the overall quality of play sags, you start wondering what happened to all those guys (and in ESPN’s case, gals) who used to be able to help win games.

It is fair to say that it is unclear what will happen next at ESPN, but it is also realistic to say it’s obvious it won’t be positive.

Friday Catblogging: Don’t Mess With Me, Human

As you can see in this snapshot, Della Street takes her couch time seriously.

 

Quote Of The Day: Fractured Fairy Tale Edition

Political families are in the news these days. In France, Marine Le Pen seeks to advance her father’s odious legacy. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is making his bloodthirsty father look  like a Hafez-assed dictator. In North Korea, Kim Jong-un is a third generation nutter. In the good old US&A, Ivanka Trump is trying to make a dishonest buck just like dear old dad.

It’s story time, kids, The quote comes from Sarah Kendizor in an article that begins with a fractured fairy tale:

Once upon a time, there was a dictator who had a daughter. The dictator, who came to power vowing to make his country great, enacted a series of repressive policies under the guise of nationalism. He persecuted the media and the opposition, used “war on terror” rhetoric to justify a clampdown on civil rights, maintained a close but complicated relationship with Russia, and built a kleptocracy that ensured the country’s riches lined his pockets.

The daughter seemed different – or at least, she wanted to be seen that way. She was an Ivy League-educated cosmopolitan socialite who married into a powerful business family before making her mark as a fashion designer and businesswoman. Like her father, she encouraged an avid personality cult; and like her father, she hid her own brutal practices under the pretext of a soft “feminism”, claiming to represent the ideal modern woman of her country.

I’m talking, of course, about Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov and his daughter Gulnara Karimova. That this description evokes the burgeoning Trump political dynasty should concern you.

It does indeed. I was delighted that Ivanka was booed in Berlin for defending her pussy grabbing pop’s record on women’s issues. I was not surprised that MSM toady Chris Cillizza admonished the boo-birds. His logic does not apply to Ivanka who has an office in the White House and whose husband is the president’s* wispy renaissance man. They’re NOT non-combatants like past first families. They’re in the fray and subject to scrutiny. I think CNN hired the former Mr. Fix so the Trumpers would think they’re fair and balanced, not fake news. It won’t work but Cillizza is a world-class bootlicker so I guess it qualifies as winning.

If you’re on Twitter and don’t follow Sarah Kendizor, it’s time to do so. She’s an expert on 21st Century authoritarianism. It’s a depressingly relevant subject in America’s New Gilded Age.

Since I borrowed Fractured Fairy Tales from the Bullwinkle Show, it’s only fair to present an episode about another misbegotten, greedy ruler:

Instead of giving the mellifluous voice of Edward Everett Horton the last word, here are the Hollies with a song that describes the first 100 days of the current occupant:

Donald Trump *is* King Midas In Reverse. A new nickname is born and you are present at the creation. It’s a helluva catchy tune as well.

Laffer Curve…Emphasis On Laff

trump_laffer_2

Continuing on the path that makes him the repetition of history as farce (cementing Bush Junior’s place as tragedy) Team Trump unveiled their paper-thin tax, um, plan. Literally: it’s one page long. Even Herman Cain thought federal laws affecting tens of millions of people could run to as many as three pages.

It also brings back the oldest canard in conservative catechism, the zombie insistence that tax cuts will pay for themselves  … proven wrong over the last three plus decades, but it seems there will always be wingers who think of one more tax cut — and one more war — in the same way extras in the Walking Dead think of brains.

That said, a single page paean to voodoo economics doesn’t stand much chance of passage, even with the wingnut Congress we’ve got. Taxation is an explicit federal power, so you could expect any bill to get the full treatment before making it to (it pains me to say this) Trump’s, um, desk…but more likely this will die not unlike the AHCA (to be fair, a zombie version of that is stumbling through Congress, but I wouldn’t bet on it).

I dunno: this could be, under the circumstances, maybe not a good thing, but the best we can hope for: Trump as a largely ceremonial yet strikingly ineffective executive…capable of boorishness that’s…embarrassing as all hell to anyone with half a brain, and the embodied voice of those with any less (i.e., the true believers).

The country could probably stagger along like this on auto-pilot for one, or, heaven forbid, two terms. But, and sorry to repeat, that’s in the absence of a genuine crisis. If something happens…well, I just don’t even want to think about it and instead hope the next three years and, what, nine months, elapse as quickly as possible.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Maquis

It’s time for a rule bending PFT. Maquis by George Millar is not fiction. The cover, however, is as pulpy as all get out. I wanted to post something about the French resistance this week in the wake of my Vichy On The Potomac post. This is it.

The Americans Thread: Slow Kung Fu & The Big Sex Guy

The post title comes from two off-hand remarks that were my favorite lines in Immersion. Elizabeth is pumping Morozova for info and she describes one of her students as a Big Sex Guy. She means a lady’s man like, say, Gorp Guy. Slow Kung Fu came from a scene wherein Elizabeth is doing tai-chi and Philip calls it (you guessed it) Slow Kung Fu. Sounds like a band name to me, ya’ll. The entire post title sounds like an ’80’s teevee show along the lines of BJ and the Bandit.

The Americans punditocracy seem to be losing patience with season 5. They’re not entirely wrong that it’s moving slowly, but its pace has always been more of a simmer than a boil. The show is fundamentally a psychological character study with moments of high suspense. It’s like criticizing Mad Men for not having any gun play. I do, however, think that things will pick up next week.

It’s time for our spoiler break, but first some Kung Fu Fighting:

I guess that’s not the same Carl Douglas who was on the OJ Simpson defense team. It would be fun if it were. I can see the headline:  Novelty Artist Becomes Legal Eagle.

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Malaka Of The Week: Corey Stewart

Corey Stewart is a far-right Trump humping Republican politician running for Governor of Virginia. One of his main campaign issues is “preserving” Confederate monuments in the commonwealth. Virginia is a place where there’s not currently much controversy over Confederate iconography. That is why Corey Stewart has injected himself into the New Orleans monuments removal controversy. And that is why he is malaka of the week.

The other day I urged pro-removal forces in New Orleans to use the term white supremacy instead of Confederate. It’s not only more accurate, it puts the onus on monuments supporters. Who wants to stand up for white supremacy as opposed to historic preservation? The Confederate label allows them babble about “erasing history.”

Much of Malaka Stewart’s babbling has been on his Tweeter Tube feed. Here’s a sampler:

I’m not from the South BUT I’ve lived in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for 60% of my life. It’s not just “Yankees” who want the white supremacy monuments removed. It’s funny how racist malakas like Stewart think only white folks are genuine Southerners. They are not.  Hell, Stewart himself is a transplant from Minnesota. I think he’s overcompensating for his own Yankeetude.

I don’t know any black folks who favor keeping these monuments to white supremacy. Imagine that. I wonder if Malaka Stewart considers them 3/5 of a Southerner. That’s how the constitution calculated it. I have a hunch that Stewart has about as much use for black folks as he does for “mainstream cuckservatives.”

Malaka Stewart claims to believe that “blue lives matter.” I suspect he’s unaware that the so-called Liberty monument celebrated an uprising of white vigilantes against the racially mixed police force of New Orleans in 1874. Did those blue lives matter less because they were opposed to white supremacy? Repeat after me: white supremacy, not Confederate.

I find it beyond ironic that Southern conservatives who claim to believe in state’s rights are injecting themselves into a local controversy. Stay the hell out of our business. The removal was decided democratically by a vote by the New Orleans City Council. They held public hearings as did the HDLC (Historic District Landmarks Commission) which also voted for the removal of the four white supremacy monuments. Repeat after me: stop being an “outside agitator” and stay the hell out of our business.

The lingering controversy over the Lost Cause’s latest loss is partially due to how badly history is taught in the US&A. Supporters of the monuments insist the Civil War was not fought over slavery. They are not only wrong, they are willfully delusional. It’s a pity that aggressively stupid politicians are capitalizing on historical illiteracy to score points. Of course, stupid is in nowadays. And that is why Corey Stewart is malaka of the week.

Repeat after me: white supremacy, not Confederate. I’ll give Florida Man Tom Petty the last word:

Hmm, maybe Corey Stewart got into the magic mushrooms. Of course, his hallucinations would involve Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Holy bad trip, Batman.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Chicken Skin Music

Ry Cooder is one of the quirkiest artists in rock music history. And 1976’s Chicken Skin Music is quirky even by his standards. It’s also one of his best records. Btw, the title has nothing to do with fried chicken: it’s a Hawaiian expression that means music that gives you goosebumps. Cooder nailed it there.

The album art was done in a Mexican folk art style by Kenny Price. Here we go:

Here’s the entire LP in all its weird glory:

Americans Can’t Have Nice Health Care

So the clear solution is to make them realize how stupid they are for wanting it! 

Additionally, neither the DemocratsObamacare nor the Republicans’ Trumpcare can truly meet the unrealistic expectations of the American public. The public has four major expectations, which are inherently mutually incompatible.

The public wants: (1) freedom to choose doctor and hospital; (2) the latest modern, state-of-the-art technology in diagnostic equipment and medical and surgical treatments; (3) no delay in appointments and treatments; and (4) minimal (or at least, reasonable) cost. People can have two, perhaps three, but in no way can they have all four. That is the reality.

Because this is the weather. It occurred naturally. Our health care system is not man-made, and therefore cannot be changed except here and there around the edges. We can’t actually make anything better.

Also, allow me to introduce you to the world we live in now, in which appointments and treatments ARE routinely delayed even if you have Cadillac insurance, and lots of places have one busted-ass hospital or none at all. If you’re a woman who needs reproductive care, you already have to drive for miles, go out of state, or get legit procedures refused because of said hospitals’ conscience clauses. Walgreens and CVS have eaten every family pharmacy, religious ownership of health care is its own clusterfuck, and your doctor’s office parking lot during flu season is like the Hunger Games.

THAT is the reality.

Neither political party wants to tell the truth, that health care costs keep skyrocketing, fueled by new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. For example, many of those drugs are heavily advertised on TV, such as the Xeljanz arthritis drug at about $50,000 per year. Then there is the Harvoni or Sovaldi drug to treat hepatitis C, with one $1,000 pill per day for 84 days. Think of that cost, $84,000 times 3 million people.

Which is why fuck those companies, because unless those drugs are made out of fairy wings and blue diamonds, ain’t no way they actually cost that much. Stop confusing “this drug is expensive” with “this drug’s company wanted to charge a bucket of money for it.”

This is not an argument not to change things. This is an argument to nationalize the entire health care system from drugs to delivery rooms, prohibit prescription drug advertising on TV, and put people who are grifting off the illnesses of others into goddamn federal prison.

Even with negotiated lower costs, exotic, high-tech treatments will still be financially ruinous. Also, with people living longer than ever before, they are seeing more degenerative diseases (vascular, cancer, mobility), all of which take an increasing toll. We are seeing more complex multiple system diseases, many with prolonged recovery times. No wonder costs are sailing out of sight.

Just die. It’s cheaper.

I often analogize that the federal government could require an automobile to protect all passengers in an up-to-120 mph crash. We do have the technology to do it, but the cost of your basic low-priced car would probably be over $100,000. There is a cost and a benefit to everything, and medical care is no different.

Yet how seldom we hear this argument when it comes to a national defense. It’s almost like there ARE unlimited funds for some things, if we value them highly enough.

Since there is not an unlimited amount of dollars available, whether by individuals, private insurance or government programs, there have to be rational ways to decide how and where to get the most bang for the buck, and frankly, the political parties and the public must get real as to what is possible.

Perhaps we should begin classifying people by their projected recovery and usefulness to society thereafter, so as to decide who deserves medicine. In the entirety of human history that’s never gone wrong.

The best cost control is when there is a direct relationship between buyer and seller. Perhaps, for outpatient services, we should do what some European countries do — the patient pays the doctor directly, then he turns the receipt into his or her health insurance plan for reimbursement. This puts a great restraint on doctors running up the tab because they have to look the patient directly in the eye.

If you think a doctor has never lied to a patient, you might want to meet this bunch of guys in Tuskegee, Alabama. They all have syphilis for some reason. Maybe you can explain it to them.

But the way it works in our country, the patient never sees the bill, and it becomes a game between the doctor and the insurance carrier.

I will grant that when I ask my doctor how much something will cost, he acts like money is a disgusting sex act and he can’t believe I’m uncouth enough to bring it up in church. HOWEVER, the idea that patients don’t see a bill is high-larious, considering how many medical bankruptcies result among the insured.

Also, although there is no constitutional mandate to provide medical care; perhaps economic reality dictates that the government could provide a basic Volkswagen plan for everyone, and if individuals want to purchase a Buick or Cadillac level of care, then that should be their right to do so.

This would literally be Obamacare if Republican governors hadn’t decided to fuck the program in the hopes of blaming a black dude in order to win elections. But you keep going.

Bottom line: We as a nation, can no longer provide an unlimited social goody list without making sure these desires are on an actuarially sound basis.

Oh, go crowdfund your cancer treatment. I’m sure the market will make the best possible decision as to your actuarial soundness. YOU ARE MAKING AN ARGUMENT FOR DEATH PANELS.

The days of counting on an ever-increasing number of young workers, in high-paying largely manufacturing jobs, to fund seniors’ health care and retirement are over.

Amazing how this seemed to end right around the time the Baby Boom started racking up the bills.

At last, we must recognize, that just as a family needs to be realistic about finances, our federal and state governments must be, too.

Okay, so we’ll take our two unwinnable wars and all our tax cuts and cancel that shit so we can pay for Becky down the street to get a pelvic exam. Why is fucking over poor people always the answer? Why is “a well-child visit for a low-income family” always the hill we gotta die on? We can afford all kinds of stuff. We just hate admitting what we want to afford, so we say we can’t afford it and we get ALL KINDS OF MAD when someone points out that actually, what utter crap.

The people who will relentlessly police the shopping carts of the poor and crab all day about how much soda they buy never really do catch on that government shops pretty shitty, too, and should forgo a few T-bones in favor of paying for chemo. Maybe the government could sell some of its bling.

A.

Vichy On The Potomac

Above is the Free French flag from World War II. It’s the classic tri-color with the Cross of Lorraine smack dab in the middle. America sided with Gen. DeGaulle’s Free French as opposed to the collaborationist Fascist Vichy government of Gen. Petain and Pierre Laval. Deny it as they might, the Le Pens National Front party are the inheritors of the legacy of the nationalist far-right; the ones who turned French and immigrant Jews over to the Nazis during the war. Despite Marine Le Pen’s cosmetic attempts to scrub the stench of anti-Semitism off her party by expelling her openly racist father, the National Front walks in the shoes of the Vichy government.

These are weird times. The current German government led by a conservative who was born in communist East Germany is waving the banner of liberal democracy and anti-Fascism. In France, Marine Le Pen wants to drag her country back to the dark ages with her extremist anti-immigrant platform. The good news is that pollsters nailed yesterday’s first round of voting in the French Presidential election:

On 21 April, the last-day predictions were published, an average of the election’s nine rolling polls put Macron on 24%, Le Pen on 22%, scandal-hit rightwing candidate François Fillon on 20% and hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 19%.

The final results, declared early on Monday morning by the French interior ministry, showed respective vote shares of 23.75%, 21.53%, 19.91% and 19.64%. For each of the top four candidates, the polls had been out by less than one percentage point.

As I’ve said many time before: nothing is written but I think we can abandon the current CW that the biggest asshole in any race will always win. It looks like Le Pen will lose handily in the run-off  BUT she’s on course to double her father’s total in the 2002 run-off against Jacques Chirac. Jean-Marie Le Pen got 18% of the vote whereas his daughter is on course to get between 36 and 40%. That’s way too much for comfort. Bigoted nationalism remains on the march. Pun on Emmanuel Macron’s party name intended.

That brings me to my rather dramatic post title. Unlike past US Presidents of both parties, Donald Trump has no problem with Marine Le Pen’s Vichy Fascist National Front party. He implicitly endorsed them before the first round:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump said that while he is not explicitly endorsing Le Pen, the attack played to her strengths.

“She’s the strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” Trump said in the Oval Office interview. “Whoever is the toughest on radical Islamic terrorism, and whoever is the toughest at the borders, will do well in the election.”

U.S. presidents typically avoid weighing in on specific candidates running in overseas election. But Trump suggested his opinion was no different from an average observer, saying, “Everybody is making predictions on who is going to win. I’m no different than you.”

This is hardly the worst thing that the Insult Comedian has done since winning the electoral vote. It’s not an overt endorsement BUT it’s still sickening. It’s a slap in the face to Americans who fought against Nazism and Fascism. The current occupant has sided with Le Pen’s Vichy Fascism as opposed to the small-d democrats of both center-left and right. It’s a sad day for America as well as a sign that Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts still have influence in the administration*.

Writing a post with a Vichy inspired title turned my mind to last scene of Casablanca. Generations of Americans cheered when Claude Rains threw a bottle of Vichy Water in the garbage:

It may have been heavy-handed symbolism but I cheer every time I see it. With his de facto support of Marine Le Pen, Trump has taken the bottle out of the trash and put it on his desk for all the world to see. Rubbish is still rubbish.

The president* is utterly without shame but I have to say it anyway: shame on you, Donald for betraying all those who died fighting Nazism. You’re supporting a candidate whose party is honeycombed with Holocaust deniers and Vichy apologists. America should always stand with the Free French, not with the Vichy Fascists.

Vive les Maquis.

NOLA White Supremacy Monuments: One Down, Three To Go

The process of removing four Jim Crow era monuments from their current locations has begun. I wish that the city had NOT done so under cover of darkness but the Mayor has said that there were death threats against the work crew. Unfortunately, I believe him. BUT since other security measures were taken, I still think it should have been done during the day. I, for one, am proud of this action, which is why I don’t think we should be sneaking around. It gives the appearance of wrongdoing when they’re doing the right thing. Celebrating hatred and racism is unacceptable.

I also wish Mayor Landrieu would stop calling them Confederate monuments. The one that was removed this morning, the so-called Liberty monument, honors the triumph of white supremacy during Reconstruction. The remaining three statues honor Confederate dignitaries-only one local-and were erected in celebration of white supremacy, which is why I use that term.

It would have been better if there were a post-removal plan in place. I think some form of public display in a park or museum that places them in context is the way to answer charges that we’re trying to erase history.  The removal was relatively well thought out but the aftermath remains murky, which gives ammunition to the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer:

The Alamo, of course, is a monument to Texas independence, not white supremacy. Context and intent are everything is this debate. How does Dukkke think we can “erase” the Founding Fathers? I think their monuments are safe. I would, however, like to shove the Washingtion Memorial up Duke’s ass.

Anyway, I came here to praise the Mayor, as well as to bury the white supremacy monuments, so I’ll stop quibbling about details. I’ll save the nitpicking for another day.

Here’s how one local teevee news organization covered the removal:

 

You Also Can’t Suck

Guys, if you want to have a good news organization, it can’t be bullshit, or be based on bullshit. It’s amazing to you all, I know: 

The company has been unraveling—slowly and spectacularly—for more than a decade now. But this particular moment is a good one for reflecting on how Yahoo’s troubles are likely to be replicated in a wave across the web, and soon, among businesses like news organizations that rely heavily on advertising revenue for their survival.

Print newspapers will continue to fold, but Yahoo’s demise is a signal that web-native companies are next. If you run a business that relies on digital-advertising revenue for an outsized portion of your funding, you need to find new streams of revenue. Now. It may already be too late.

Unless you’re Facebook or Google, that is.

Print newspapers will continue to fold, of course, since they continue to rely on shoving fistfuls of cash up the bungholes of idiot CEOs and clueless consultants and screwing over their paying customers. It has nothing to do with digital ad revenue, which you don’t need a roomful of Yalies to tell you was never going to take the place of the the print ads that aren’t coming back. Learning to live on less than 17 percent profit margins 15 years ago might have saved them, but they didn’t want to do that. Easier to drive those profits into the negative, blame the customers and newsroom, and fuck off to Aruba for a “quarterly meeting.”

This shit will make me angry forever because none of it had to happen.

A.

I Can’t Believe this Garbage Shithouse Organization Housed Shit and Garbage!

Filthy hippies were once derided for cautioning that treating Fox News like a legitimate part of the journalism brotherhood would lead nowhere good, and HOO BOY WHO COULDA KNOWED? 

The letter also includes new allegations of racism in Fox News’s accounting department. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the 2nd floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.

It’s almost like there was a culture of the kind of virulent racism that lies under the entire Republican party managed to somehow magically infiltrate the conservative news network! How could that have happened? It surely couldn’t be that building a brand on the back of the resentful white male who conflates “black person who cut me off in traffic while playing ‘raps’ on his stereo” with “all people of color everywhere” could lead to a general contempt for racial minorities that infected every department including accounting, right?

I mean, Jesus, it was like magic, how it managed to be this cesspool of sexist power-worship and racism when that’s all that was on its air, day after day after day after day.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Genesis Live In 1973

I’d somehow missed this gem. It’s the classic Genesis lineup of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and Phil Collins. It was filmed during the Selling England By The Pound tour. What’s not to like about that? Not a damn thing.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fate’s Right Hand

Reply To Red by Yves Tanguy.

Spring is prime time for crawfish boils or as the natives say, berls. We’ve been to two in the last three weeks. The first one involved some of the usual suspects and nothing unusual happened other than a five-year-old girl pointing at the sacks of live crawfish and asking, “When will they be dead?” That’s a sassy Louisiana child, y’all. It’s one reason why her mama nicknamed her the Benevolent Dictator. I’m not so sure about the first bit though…

Something quite eventful happened last weekend at the second shebang. The berl was thrown (not by Milton Berle or Burl Ives) by one of Dr. A’s first year medical students. He’s an older student who was a helicopter pilot in the Army and is still a reservist. That’s one reason he lives at Jackson Barracks near Arabi, Louisiana. That’s right, it was an Arabi spring crawfish berl…

When I first heard our host’s name, I remarked that it was the same name as the man who sold us our house after renovating it in 2000. It’s a fairly common name so we agreed it was unlikely that her student was a Junior. Guess what? It’s a small fucking world after all. Our host’s father had indeed renovated Adrastos World HQ and Dr. A’s student had worked on the project. The latter was somewhat freaked out by the string of coincidences but I told him not to sweat it because it made him de facto teacher’s pet. Besides, the man knows how to boil crawfish. It’s an indispensable skill as far as I’m concerned.

This week’s theme song is the title track of Rodney Crowell’s 2003 album, Fate’s Right Hand. It seems that one of his daughters didn’t care for the song at the time. Somewhere in my archives I have a circa 2004 Crowell concert at which he introduced Fate’s Right Hand  more or less as follows:

“My daughter hates this song. She told me it’s undignified for me to talk about poontang and the narrator of the song having a pole in his pants. I told her that I’m a country singer and her mother and grandfather are both country singers. We’re not dignified people.  She reminded me that Grandpa Johnny was the most dignified person she knew. I couldn’t argue that point so I changed the subject.”

Fate’s Right Hand is a list song. The most famous list song I can think of is Irving Berlin’s You’re The Top. Another list song classic is REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine.) I don’t feel like listing list songs so here’s Fate’s Right Hand:

Rodney is fond of list songs. He wrote one about greedy yuppies for his 2005 album, The Outsider complete with the refrain: give it to me, give it to me. I will comply:

Give it to me, give it to me. You may not be as demanding as the coked-out greed head in the song but let’s take a break anyway. Give it to me, give it to me.

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Friday Catblogging: Sur La Table

This is one of the few tables our cats are allowed on. Della Street would sit there anyway.