We Understand Gun Gulture Just Fine

This shit again: 

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — As Democrats have fled rural America — or rural America has fled Democrats — many of them, living in cities, are left without an understanding of rural culture and its core values. If it isn’t on abortion, our deepest cultural divide might be on guns. The guns issue also has a profound political dimension, reliably driving rural Americans into Republican arms.

You know, Democrats in cities understand gun culture just fine. Here, let me explain it to you:

There are hunters who like to hunt. There are hobby shooters who go to ranges. And then there are racist paranoiacs who drive around in vans covered in HITLERY stickers who can’t stop waving every single gun they own around, who eat Fox News and InfoWars for breakfast lunch and dinner, who can just never SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THEIR STUPID GUNS.

Those are three distinct groups, and when I, a city Democrat, was growing up, the first two laughed their asses off at the third and there was no major lobbying group to tell them to make common cause against the evil conspiracy of reasonable regulations on 5-year-olds owning M-16s or whatever it is milquetoast thing Democrats stand accused of these days.

If all people did with guns in “rural America” was hunt animals and protect their houses from horror-movie villains breaking in, that might not be every city Dem’s bag but it would be fine. You know why?


God almighty, I am right up to here with the guns right now, how much you love them and how sacred they are and your great-great-grandpappy who fought for slavery in the Confederacy and whatever else. I understand gun culture just fine and it bores the living shit out of me and the only reason I bother engaging with it at all is that lots of people are getting DEAD.

You know, for the past two years we’ve been hearing about how Republicans were so sick of having basic respect for others “shoved down their throats” that they had to vote in the current racist monster and his gang of ten-a-penny fascisti in the White House. They were so, so sick of political correctness that they had to burn the whole world down. Their dicks all fell off because women were writing words on the Internet and they had no choice but to yell LOCK HER UP and vote for Trump.

Political correctness and women voting having killed exactly nobody, I would then turn that deep understanding of others’ culture right back around and offer this.

You can have all the guns you want.

Provided you don’t shove them down everybody else’s throat all the time.


Not Everything Sucks: Writing Edition

People are good and kind: 

“I just found my happy writing place in a Tires Tires Tires waiting room and decided to tell people about it,” Amy said. “With all the sad stories in the news, the thousands of things that get us down in life, sometimes, you just need to open up Facebook and have a laugh at a weird author appreciating the little things in life.”


Sunday Morning Video: Van Morrison & The Chieftains Live

I can’t seem to let go of Saint Patrick’s Day. Here’s a 1988 set at the Ulster Hall in Belfast.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Irish Rover

High Spring Tide by Jack Butler Yeats.

The Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Day parade is on the day itself this year. I’m not sure if this will increase drunken revelry but I plan to do some day drinking. Dr. A and I have been going to our friends Greg and Christy’s open house for the last 11 or 12 years. It’s hard to be precise since whiskey and beer are involved. Whiskey, of course, is the devil.

The big local news is the death of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson at the age of 90. The local media has done some cringeworthy coverage of this gruff car dealer whose demeanor and voice reminded me of Archie Bunker. The hagiography is a bit much given Benson’s attempt to move the Saints to his *other* hometown of San Antonio as the region reeled from the Katrina and the Federal Flood. He sent his image to rehab with donations to charity, the Super Bowl win didn’t hurt either. He was also a supporter of the GOP and other dubious conservative rich guy causes. As Archie would surely say at this point, goodnight nurse.

This week’s featured image is by the Irish painter Jack Butler Yeats. And, yes, he was related to the poet William Butler Yeats: he was his kid brother. I’m uncertain as to whether he was a pesky one. It would be poetic justice if he were…

Our theme song is a traditional Irish folk song. The Pogues and the Dubliners recorded The Irish Rover together in 1987. It was a hit in Ireland and the UK.

Now that we’ve taken a trip on a ill-fated ship, let’s jump to the break and hope we land in a lifeboat.

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McMaster, Baited

Trump World and the Tweeter Tube were aflutter  yesterday with rumors that the bald-headed glowering general/National Security Advisor was about to be ousted in the Not-So Great Purge of 2018. The dread Sarah Huckabee Sanders has denied the rumor, which means that it’s true.

Trump’s Kaiser of Chaos persona seems to have overtaken the Insult Comedian. Imagine firing your top national security aides a week after impulsively agreeing to talks with Little Rocket Man. In a word: madness.

If another rumor is true, John Bolton and his mustache will be McMaster’s successor. That makes the Kudlow hiring look good: Bolton has never been right about anything either, plus he’s batshit crazy. Believe me.

It remains obvious that the General is not McMaster of his own domain. I should apologize for that pun and the title but I won’t.

That is all.

Friday Catblogging: Doorman

Like any good private eye, Paul Drake likes windows. In this picture, he’s peering out a pane on our front door. I think he’d make a helluva good doorman. Imagine him with a red jacket with epaulets to go along with what Athenae has called his fur beret. It would be a fashion sensation, y’all.

Catblogging tends to expose us as lousy housekeepers. We’re not big on washing windows. In our defense, the interior pane is smudged with feline nose prints and the doorman is there every day. Window washing is futile.

Van Morrison gets the last word with this tidy tune:


The Lambslide

I am, of course, being sardonic, sarcastic, and other S words. Conor Lamb’s special election margin is 627 votes as I write this but a win is a win is a win. It’s a victory for coalition politics and a defeat for the president* and a feckless Speaker of the House who seems incapable of distancing his members from a wildly unpopular Trump. Paul Ryan is the most politically inept Speaker of my lifetime: the goal of any Speaker is to preserve their majority. Ryan is too afraid of the rabid right-wing base he’s pandered to all these years to even try to save his majority. Thanks, Paul.

This triumph will prove to be somewhat ephemeral since the crazy quilt Pennsylvania Gerrymander scheme was tossed out by the courts. Lamb will have to run in a differently configured district this fall but that somehow makes this victory even sweeter. Lamb beat a Republican in a district drawn to make it well-nigh impossible for a D to beat an R.  It took an asshole president* to produce a 20 point swing. Thanks, Trumpy.

In classic Trump fashion, he’s making excuses and absolving himself from any blame for the GOP’s latest special election defeat:

 “The young man last night that ran, he said, ‘Oh, I’m like Trump. Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything.’ He ran on that basis,” Trump said at the fundraiser, according to an audio recording obtained by The Atlantic. “He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’”

In fact, Lamb ran a classic lunch pail/kitchen table pro-union campaign. It’s the way Democrats have won elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since the New Deal. I don’t recall Trump being a fan of organized labor. Fake populism can only get you so far.

Here’s how former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau described Landslide Lamb’s campaign:

It takes a coalition to win any election that doesn’t take place in the purest truest bluest district. For the 50 state strategy to succeed, that requires supporting candidates who can win in a given district. That was the strategy Howard Dean used to help Democrats take back the House in 2006. You might recall that Dean ran as the most liberal candidate in the Democratic presidential race in 2004. He was still a believer in coalition politics, which is what made Nancy Smash Speaker and Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader.

The important thing is to win and negotiate our differences later: the future of the Republic may well depend on a blue wave this fall. A candidate who can win in Berkeley or Brooklyn cannot win in Western Pennsylvania or statewide in, say, Texas. A lot of “non-partisan progressives” on twitter have been unhappy with Beto O’Rourke because he’s insufficiently pure. Do they prefer Rafael Edward Cruz who the last time I checked was the wingnut’s wingnut?

The sitting president is *always* the issue in mid-term elections, especially since the South became a sea of red. The days when Tip O’Neill could hold his majority with a popular Republican president in office are long gone. Trump will be the main issue even when a candidate chooses to treat him like Voldemort and not speak his name aloud a la Landslide Lamb. It’s a losing issue for Republicans and a winner for Democrats and sanity. Believe me.

The last word goes to Genesis with my favorite song with the word lamb in it:

Class, Say Hello To Your Safety Instructor


Barney Fife would be an improvement — if I remember, he had only a single bullet that he kept in his pocket. I don’t think he ever shot his gun, either intentionally…or by accident.

As thousands of students walked out of their schools on Wednesday to pressure Congress to approve gun control legislation, three other students were healing from wounds inflicted when a teacher’s firearm accidentally discharged in a California classroom.

The teacher, Dennis Alexander, who is also a city councilman in Seaside, Calif., was showing the students a gun on Tuesday during his advanced public safety class at Seaside High School when the gun accidentally went off, Marci McFadden, a spokeswoman for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Mr. Alexander was pointing his gun at the ceiling when it fired, she said, causing pieces of the ceiling to fall to the floor. Ms. McFadden said that California law and district policy prohibit teachers from bringing guns on campus.

Cmdr. Nick Borges of the Seaside Police Department said in an email on Wednesday that nobody suffered serious injuries, however, a piece of bullet shrapnel ricocheted and hit one 17-year-old on the neck, and two other students were also hit by debris.

As for the rallies yesterday, it’s a steep uphill climb, but good for the students.  Against all odds and in the face of a deeply entrenched, well financed establishment, they’ve managed to at least keep the conversation going.

And the special election in Pennsylvania is also good news. Trump’s luster was never quite what he and the establishment media claimed. His “win” was an accident of dumb luck and weird rules. That said, maybe it’s also wearing thin. Sure, he’s got a couple of years to go, and I worry we’re entering a particularly dangerous time, his terrible twos…but still…you’ve gotta have hope nonetheless.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Applegreen Cat

I’m not sure what the hell an applegreen cat is but I like this Rudolph Belarski cover.


Poison Tea For The Tillerson

I’ve enjoyed my Tea for the Tillerson series and will miss having Rex Tillerson to kick around. Having said that, he was a rotten Secretary of State who hollowed out his department and did lasting damage to the foreign service.

Tillerson’s tenure at Foggy Bottom is proof positive that guvmint should NOT be run like a business. Tillerson was convinced he knew better than the area experts who populate the department. He tried to run it with a small cadre of loyalists and had no support at State when the crunch came. He was right on many policies but had no influence at the White House or in Congress. But the next guy is worse.

It’s been obvious for quite some time that Tillerson was not long for the job, especially after the “fucking moron” incident. Coming after he blamed Russia for the London spook poisoning, the timing made him look better than he deserved. Anyone who associates with Trump is diminished by the experience. Tillerson is just the latest in a series of dignity wraiths whose reputation has been damaged. But the next guy is worse.

The best description of the Rexit “process” came from New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

Every Trump administration personnel shake-up is a noir story of terrible, incompetent people squabbling with other terrible, incompetent people.

It’s a nightmare for the American people, but the Kaiser of Chaos is building the administration of his dreams: populated by yes men, ass kissers, courtiers, and sycophants. The incoming Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is a former Tea Party Congressman who ran the CIA in an overtly partisan manner. That should have been disqualifying since the head spook should be sneaky and able to play his cards discreetly. As far as Pompeo is concerned, pleasing Trump is all the matters. But the next CIA director is worse.

The MSM is forlorn since their narrative of the “grown-ups restraining Trump” has been shattered by John Kelly’s malakatude, Rexit, and the rumored departure of the National Security Advisor who is still not McMaster of his domain. General Mattis is the lone remaining adult in the room. The rest of the crew fit this president’s definition of loyalty:

“I don’t want loyalty. I want loyalty! I want him to kiss my ass in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket.”

The president in question was Lyndon Johnson and he only half-way meant it. He had many strong people in his administration but he liked having yes men on the White House staff, especially as the intractable Vietnam conflict destroyed his administration. Unlike LBJ, Trump is an unqualified fucking moron who wants lackeys everywhere.

We’re on our own now.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: She’s So Unusual

In the Trump era, we’re in desperate need of fun. What pop star has ever been more fun than Cyndi Lauper?

She’s So Unusual was Cyndi’s debut album. It was a monster hit because of the monster hits Time After Time and Girls Just Want To Have Fun. I told you she was fun.

The photography is by the great Annie Leibovitz:

I came upon this video of Cyndi describing how the cover photo was selected:

The entire She’s So Unusual album is not on YouTube so here are the aforementioned hits:


Tillerson Out


Most of the time I can’t get too het up about the ins and outs here, because wow, a burning dumpster is full of garbage that is burning all the time, but THIS MAN THOUGHT HE COULD SIT IN JOHN KERRY’S CHAIR AND I WILL NEVER FORGIVE THAT.


‘The Work Is Worth Doing’

Mallory Ortberg on their new book and the nature of the unknown: 

Ortberg: If you look at the Christian Bible—again, that’s the story that I come from—you look at the Book of Job, and there’s this fascinating, open-ended question of what is the Satan? Because that’s literally the name of the character in the book. It’s called the Satan, not like the devil or Lucifer, Satan, like that’s his name. It’s just the Satan, and it means that he has a job. It’s your job. You bring evidence against humanity, and you are in God’s employ, and obviously we lost some of that over time. You remember the cartoons of the sheepdog and the wolf who would fight all day, and then they would end by swiping their punch cards? That’s been lost, and there’s just the sense of—it is this actual demonic, supernatural entity that lives somewhere in the ether and is out to get me. I think if you look at those stories, they are incredibly destabilized and all over the place, and that’s fantastic.

Rumpus: In these fairy tales is a universe that is random and tricky. You write with a real confidence, yet a lot of what you’re getting at in this book is the ways in which no one knows anything.

Ortberg: The confidence is in saying, This work is worth doing, not, I know what the work is, or Here’s how we all get it done.

There’s a lot in this interview — which is about fairy tales and gender identity and all kinds of questions which is to say read the whole thing, as the kids once said — about questioning as something to be feared. The Olds get so ragey about the gender stuff, like it’s maddening to them, “how do I know what you are?” And they’re actually asking how do I know what I am.

We are not comfortable with our own unknowns. We feel like there is some point at which we get to Know Things, and be Done. We feel like at some point we’ll stop feeling uncertain, we’ll stop worrying if we’ve accomplished enough, and sometimes we even fool ourselves into thinking this is the case. And then along comes something to upend that.

The reason this interview struck me so directly is that what Ortberg is saying is that not only is the work never done, but the work itself is the work. The figuring, the questioning, the exploring, the arguing, the uncertainty and fear, those are all the point, and if you never find answers it’s still worth shoving yourself forward. Accepting that the work will never be done, put your shoulder to the wheel anyway, and glory in the moment of being alive to do so.

How do I know what I am isn’t something you ever stop asking, even if it gets buried under all the shit you have to do to make it day to day.


The Fixer

I’ve written about Michael Cohen before. He was malaka of the week in July, 2015 because of an incident involving Trump’s first ex-wife Ivanka. At that point, I viewed him as a peripheral player in Trump World. In 2018, I think he may be the linchpin to the Insult Comedian’s relationship to dirty Russian and Ukrainian money. Why? He’s Trump’s fixer.

Cohen is currently trying to fix the Trump-Stormy Daniels mishigas. I’m one of the few people who believes that Cohen *may* have paid off the porn star girlfriend with his own money. But I don’t believe that he mortgaged his house to do it. Cohen allegedly owns an apartment building in New York City for which he paid $55 million. Does that sound like a cash strapped guy to you? I think he’s working a future jury pool by posing as a working class lawyer. It’s a lie but what else would you expect from Trump’s fixer?

Here’s the reason I think Cohen might have paid hush money to Stephanie Clifford. He wants to impress and/or pay tribute to the boss. His relationship to Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto is akin to a Mafia wise guy-don relationship. That’s why I’ve paired him with Soprano family consigliere Silvio Dante. It’s easy to imagine Silvio or one of the capos paying off someone for Tony. Once again life imitates The Sopranos.

The Sopranos analogy breaks down because Tony was *sometimes* loyal to his crew and might have even paid his fixer back. Trump is legendary for disloyalty and refusing to repay debts. That’s right, Don Donaldo is worse than Tony Soprano.

The last word goes to Pearl Jam, not the E Street Band. Sorry, Little Steven.


Quote Of The Day: Lost Cause Monuments Edition

Photograph via CBS News.

60 Minutes had a doubleheader last night. I used to be a devoted viewer until the Lara Logan fiasco and the addition of the dread Oprah to the roster. That’s neither here not there: they still do some fine work.

Anderson Cooper did a segment about the monuments controversy covering both New Orleans and Richmond, VA. Outgoing Mayor Mitch Landrieu got off several good lines. This was the money quote:

Anderson Cooper: You look at these monuments. You wouldn’t know the Confederacy lost.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Well, that was the whole point. The whole point was to convince people that actually they won, and even in their defeat, it was a noble cause. And of course, the whole point of this is to– is to confront history. I mean, this wasn’t an LSU-Alabama football game where it didn’t matter who won and lost, and you just got braggin’ rights. I mean, we were talkin’ about millions of people enslaved, 600,000 American citizens were killed, and they were trying to destroy the country.

I have mixed feelings about the second Landrieu mayoralty (the first was his father’s run from 1970-1978) but his handling of monuments issue was a high point. The removal of the massive Lee statute was a particular triumph as it loomed over the city. Lee and his ilk did not fight for a noble cause, they were traitors pure and simple.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – wet and wild edition

No post this week, chillens. Entire east half of my house flooded after a record 4″ in one hour rain. Entire week has been full of roaring fans and dehumidifiers. torn up carpets in my studio, and everything piled into a heap in the entry. Fourth time this has happened. Previous drainage improvements kept the water out for a week of soaking rains, but the last wave was unstoppable. Anyone have an outdoor sump pump they want to donate?

Since I can’t do this post thing on the phone, we’ll have to wait until next week, after carpet pad’s been replaced and carpet’s been re-laid and final carpet treatment/cleaning is finished and I can move everything back to where it was.

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A Question of Emphasis

This is honestly the only thing that needs to be said about the ongoing self-fucking chicken that is the NYT opinion section:

They could write about anything. Like, get paid to start conversations about literally anything on this earth, conversations that would then be backed up with action by people with the capacity to enact change. Can you even imagine? Think about that.

It would be like if I could write in this space that all Americans should knock off wearing sleeveless turtlenecks and immediately YouTube would fill with people burning their sleeveless turtlenecks in the trash. The UN would introduce a resolution declaring that if it’s cold enough for a turtleneck it’s too cold for bare shoulders. Lawmakers would pass legislation fining people for making themselves look like sausages. My personal word would save us all from this fashion abomination for all time.

I’m joking, but think about that kind of reach, that kind of power. David Brooks and Bret Stephens and this Bari Weiss person and all the other Mousketools in that office have that.

And they choose to write about people on the Internet, being mean to them.

It’s not even that they’re wrong, although they are. It’s that they’re small, on the largest stage there is for a newspaper journalist. Give them the chance to write the world, give them journalism’s largest piece of real estate, and they describe … themselves.

Like, say what you want about Nick Kristof and I’ll say plenty but he does at least pay attention to people with less power than he has, and try to tell their stories even if he never completely manages to get out of his own way. Say what you want about most of the NYT but most of their journalists are actually trying to tell us about other people’s lives and then along come these assclowns making their workplace a punchline.

That they’re wrong, and they’re bad, and they’re overpaid and dishonest, those things are bad enough. The real crime they commit against their trade is their news judgment, their sincere belief that there is nothing larger than them happening right now in the world. That more than the subject of any correction should be a fireable offense.


Notorious RBG

I’ll be in line all night like this is a Star Wars flick:


Saturday Odds & Sods: Heart Of Gold

Tree Of Life by Gustav Klimt.

The weather is playing tricks on us. We’re having February weather in March. That’s fine with me. It beats the hell out of an early New Orleans summer. But the cool temperatures have brought the pollen that torments me in the Spring. Achoo.

In local news, the Mississippi River is on the rise, so it’s time to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert river water into Lake Pontchartrain to prevent flooding. It has me pondering the way folks in South Louisiana pronounce French words. We’re usually off but as not badly as with the Spillway: the local media insist on saying Bonny Carry. That sounds like a blue-haired old lady up river in Duluth. It drives me nuts, y’all. I feel like taking a stroll up Charters (Chartres) Street.

This week’s theme songs are inspired by the layers of golden pollen that are everywhere in Uptown New Orleans. Achoo. Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold was the first of many sonic departures he was to take in his career. It worked: it was Neil’s first big solo hit.

Ray Davies has told two stories about the Kinks’ Heart Of Gold. One is that it was inspired by the birth of his daughter. The other story is that it was inspired by Princess Ann telling some photographers to “naff off.” Only Ray knows for sure. If you asked him, I suspect he’d come up with a third story.

I love Ray’s chorus:

Underneath that rude exterior,
There’s got to be a heart of gold.
Underneath that hard exterior,
Is a little girl waiting to be told,
You’ve got a heart of gold.
She’s got a heart of gold.

Let’s take our rude and hard exteriors and jump to the break. “Watch out, don’t get caught in the crossfire.”

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The Dotard & The Dictator

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry over the news that Trump and Kim Jong Un may meet. It beats the hell out of a nuclear exchange, but we seem to be giving the diminutive third generation communist dictator what his family has always wanted without getting anything in return. So much for the art of deal.

The Insult Comedian probably thinks he can “win” any negotiation whereas I fear his ignorance. The State Department’s top Korea expert just retired so who, if anyone, is Trump asking for advice? I’d almost prefer a return to the days of Wormplomacy. Rodman knows what he doesn’t know. This president* doesn’t know shit from shineola but thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. Oy, just oy.

It’s a good thing Trump doesn’t drink since soju might be on the agenda. Here’s how Charlie Pierce describes that lethal Korean beverage:

An aside: during my brief time in South Korea in 1988, I had an encounter with soju, a kind of high-intensity Korean poitin. If these cats were drinking soju by the bottle, it’s a wonder that they all didn’t get up on the tables and dance 60-odd years of hostility away.

My friend Clay turned me on to soju. It could be rocket fuel for Rocket Man for all we know.

The Dotard and the Dictator in the same room. What could possibly go wrong? Everything.