Sunday Morning Video: Phil Lesh & Friends Live In 2006

Phil Lesh & Friends have played many a homestand at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. This time around the band features Joan Osborne on vocals and John Scofield on guitar:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Crazy Man Michael

9908CJLaughlinNeverland

Finding Neverland by Clarence John Laughlin.

I’ve spent much of the week contemplating July Madness aka the Trumpvention. It’s one of the strangest spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. In an odd way, it provided comic relief for all the shit that’s going down until Trump’s despicable acceptance diatribe. First Draft alumna Southern Beale hit on something I neglected to mention: acceptance speeches are typically optimistic and forward-looking as opposed to angry and bitter harangues. In 2004, Athenae’s boy friend, John Kerry, was criticized for being too negative, leading to this ad:

That’s called a pivot, which Trump, apparently, has no plans to do. I’m waiting for an ad entitled Mourning in America.

I’m going to keep it relatively short since I’ve written so many epic posts this week. The transformation of the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers into the world’s largest loony bin got me contemplating songs about insanity. Crazy Man Michael by Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick is as good as it gets; even if there are no Michael mentionings in this week’s post. The song first appeared on Fairport Convention’s 1969 album, Liege & Lief and was sung by the sublime Sandy Denny:

Here’s a solo acoustic version by RT:

I like messing with my readers, in that spirit, we’ll skip the customary break. Nothing for y’all to become accustomed to. I just felt like taking a break break…

We begin with an article that set the internets ablaze. A friend of mine ranted about the ghostwriter, but he never thought Trump would be a major party nominee for President. Who the hell did until 2016?  We both think he’s a giant toddler in a septuagenarian’s body.

The Art Of The Sell-Out: Trump ghostwriter Tony Schwartz has a guilty conscience for making Trump look 100,0000 times better than he actually is in the best-selling book, The Art of Deal.(Actually he was Trump’s co-writer who wrote the whole damn thing. Ghostwriter sounds way cooler.)  He recently sat down with the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. Here are some worthy excerpts:

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

<SNIP>

“Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.” He went on, “Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest.

<SNIP>

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

<SNIP>

When challenged about the facts, Schwartz says, Trump would often double down, repeat himself, and grow belligerent. This quality was recently on display after Trump posted on Twitter a derogatory image of Hillary Clinton that contained a six-pointed star lifted from a white-supremacist Web site. Campaign staffers took the image down, but two days later Trump angrily defended it, insisting that there was no anti-Semitic implication. Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.

There’s more of the same in Mayer’s article. I *already* thought Trump was unfit to be President but Schwartz fills in many details that confirm the obvious. I don’t think a marginally literate, hyperactive, mendacious Insult Comedian should ever be elected President.

I, for one, am glad Schwartz came forward, which has led to Trump’s lawyers sending him a cease and desist letter demanding that he return 28-year-old royalties. Yeah, right. It’s typical of Trump’s need to dominate, abase, and silence everyone he knows. I wonder if his shysters will devise a non-disclosure agreement for the entire country.

Tony Schwartz is on Twitter. Thursday night’s Tweets are quite interesting. Check them out.

Trump’s Razor: Josh Marshall has been digging deep into Trump’s shallow psyche and has come up with a theorum of sorts, Trump’s Razor

ascertain the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts” and that answer is likely correct.

Trump’s Razor has been slicing its way through the Trumpvention as well as the entire campaign. I’m glad Josh gave it a name. Thanks, man.

Speaking of political clusterfucks, the Labour Leadership battle rages on. The war between the Corbyinite hard left and center left  MPs looks more likely to cause a split with each passing day.

Labour Daze & The Gang Of Four: For people of a certain age, it’s been like deja vu all over again. The hard left of Labour took control of the party after the 1979 skunking by the Tories. The Callaghan government wasn’t insufficiently left-wing. It was weak and tired. Labour’s left flank turned to open warfare against party moderates. Sound familiar? This time it happened after back-to-back defeats.

The mad dash to the hard left led four former cabinet members, led by Roy Jenkins the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and, more importantly the radical reforming Home Secretary of the 1960’s, to leave Labour and form the Social Democratic Party (SDP.) For a brief shining moment it looked as if the SDP might take off, but things didn’t go as hoped for.

The Guardian’s Andy Beckett compares what happened in 1981 to the current Labour imbroglio. It’s something of a cautionary tale: the SDP no longer exists, it merged with the Liberals in 1988. They’re now known as the Liberal Democrats who did quite well until they went into government with the Tories. They got slaughtered in the 2015 election and only have 8 MPs. Yet another cautionary tale. Here’s the SDP Gang of Four:

SDP Gang of Four

The SDP Gang of Four: Bill Rodgers, David Owen, Roy Jenkins, and Shirley Williams.

These center-left rebels are not to be confused with the band Gang of Four who were hardcore lefties. Life abounds with ironies. I might as well play some punk rock at this point:

You know it was a tough week when an R.I.P. segment amounts to lightening things up:

Garry Marshall, R.I.P.: One of the nicest people in show biz, Garry Marshall, died this week at the age of 80. Marshall dominated the small screen in the 1970’s and made stars of Michael McKean, Robin Williams, and Julia Roberts among others. My favorite Marshall endeavor was The Odd Couple with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman who *became* Oscar and Felix.

Marshall was also hilarious as network suit, Stan Lansing, on Murphy Brown:

The best Garry Marshall tribute I’ve read was by comedy writer/blogger Ken Levine:

Garry Marshall was an extraordinary man. In the world of comedy where anger is a primary tool for getting laughs, Garry Marshall built an empire by showing that comedy could be humane, comedy could have heart, and comedy could be funny without being mean-spirited, spiteful, and crass. He was a rebel.

Saturday Standards: I’ve never been quite sure why Bryan Ferry didn’t become the go-to “rock star standards singing guy.” He fits the part much better than Rod Stewart; plus Ferry started recording standards in the 1970’s. Ferry’s fine 1999 album, As Time Goes By, should provide some balm after a blistery week; at least I hope so. I’m particularly fond of his take on The Way You Look Tonight:

That’s it for this post-GOP apocalyptic edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. Since I actually praised Ted Cruz for the first, and likely only, time, I thought he should resume his status as a Republican Super Villain:

Cruz meme

 

The more I see Donald Trump, the more I love my car

Once upon a time on this blog, I was accused of creating “haigiography of a gas guzzling testament to why we don’t have widespread public transportation” in my tribute to Betsy, a gold, 1968 Mustang that saved me as much as I saved her. If that reader is still around, I’m sure she would be horrified of my most recent purchase: a 1966 Ford F-250 Camper edition with a 460 engine that gets about 10 miles to the gallon on a good day.

I’m not thrilled at the impact I’m having on the environment, which is why we own a Prius and drive it as much possible. Still, there is a reason I own these cars beyond the cool factor and the sense that this is a better way of dealing with a midlife crisis than fucking some random college chick, getting hair plugs and wearing a beret.

The beauty of these beauties is that I learned a lot about life by spending time working on them. The older cars are simpler and easier to understand than some of the more computerized gizmos and yet a lot harder to fix in some regards.

When I was growing up in Milwaukee, I had a fleeting dalliance with life as a mechanic. I was a snotty kid who went to “the good schools” and was pursuing a college degree, something rare in my family. During one summer, my boss at the gas station put me in the garage to help me pick up a few hours. I immediately went from the smartest guy in the room to the dumbest one. During those days, I managed to lose a lug nut down a drain, set my arm on fire and almost take my head off with a tire machine. Tom, the master mechanic, referred to me as being “as useless as tits on a bull.”

Eventually, I stopped coming home for summers and I gave up that job. The garage eventually closed, I got a bunch of degrees and I became the guy in the Ivory Tower who never had to really “work” at work. When I was thinking of buying Betsy, I had my dad’s car guy look her over to make sure I wasn’t buying a hole in the garage you throw money into. The guy told my dad something I’d always remember: If he want a show car, forget it, but if he can learn to be a bit handy and do things himself, it’s a good car. In short, I had to learn to be handy. Me, an uncoordinated intellectual dork who could get hurt walking out to the mailbox.

It was through this process that I truly fell in love with the art of auto mechanics and realized that it made my life better in so many ways I could never see coming.

I’m not a big believer in the “Hey, I just got into this thing, so EVERYBODY should do it too!” philosophy, but I do believe that this world might be a better place if Donald Trump had taken auto-shop instead of going to Wharton.

Here’s what I learned and why it matters:

  • You need to learn or you are screwed: One of the biggest gripes I’ve had about cars is that too many people who work at garages take advantage of people. My mother always feared this, as she thought a woman walking into a garage was essentially a neon sign that said to the owner, “SUCKER!” It wasn’t just a woman thing, though. My buddy, Matt, told me how useless he feels when he walks into a shop and says, “My car won’t start.” This is a guy who works as an EMT and saves people’s lives on a daily basis, but he feels like tits on a bull when it comes to cars.

    I knew that I had to learn what to do when it came to problems with Betsy or I’d be in that same boat. I had a few fragments of knowledge from what Tom showed me in between screaming about the “Fucking Nazi Go-Kart” or “Nip Mobile” he was forced to repair. Still, I knew basically nothing. I read, I prepared and I asked a lot of questions of people I learned to trust. I also avoided people I figured out were out for themselves. Being able to see these distinctions could be valuable if, say, your potential presidential candidate seems to be on your side but fucks you on the bill.

  • There isn’t “The Answer:” People for some reason have gotten used to punching six terms into Google and finding out “The Answer.” We also have pounded standardized tests into our kids for so long that the outcome is the only thing that seems to matter. The Answer, it seems, is always boiled down into a cheap slogan: “No New Taxes” “Make America Great Again” or whatever. It’s a slick marketing ploy that overrides the more complex reality.

    Working on these older cars has taught me there is no answer. There are actually a lot of answers. Where should you set your transmission bands after a fluid change? Depends on how you want it to shift. How many turns out should your carb screws be? Depends on your idle speed and interest in fuel economy. Every answer has three more questions and that’s actually a good thing to know in life. Otherwise, you find yourself following assholes who provide stupid answers, but espouse them with absolute certainty. This leads me to…

  • Everything is feel: New cars are great in some ways. Something goes to shit, so you plug a code reader into a computer and the car tells you a code. You decipher the code and replace the part of the car that matches up with that code failure. (And if you own a dishonest garage, you charge someone $120 for a “diagnostic evaluation” that anyone who ever plugged in an Atari controller or used Google could do.)

    Older cars are about feel and vibe and sense. When I rebuilt the carburetor for about the squillionth time and got it to run right, I spent about an hour making 1/8th turns of the carb screws to dial it in to perfection. It was “In… Better… In… Even Better… In… SHIT! OK, out, out, out… OK… In… In…” for an hour. Smoothing out an idle takes time and patience. It incorporates weird little things like taking a big whiff off your tailpipe to sense if she’s running rich or lean as well as using a note card to sense patterns in the expulsion of exhaust.

    In fact, smell and feel is almost everything. When I was driving the Mustang a few years back, I sensed a vibration I couldn’t pin down. Eventually I took it out on a country road and got her up past 90 to try a few things. Turns out I could coast at 70 in neutral with no vibration, but not go faster than 35 in drive without feeling it. Turns out, I needed new U-Joints, which only operate when the car is in gear.
    When I couldn’t get her to run well, I smelled for gas and found a carb leak. When I smelled something super sweet inside the car, I realized I had a heater core leak.

    When it comes to feel, I’m amazed not only had how little empathy people at that convention had for others, but also how they couldn’t feel a sense that they were being used. I watched it for moments of time and got the sense that you could score some Wagner music to overlay on that thing and not miss a beat. How is it that people couldn’t realize that if they fucked over all the people who they say they want to “take our country back” from that this wouldn’t just perpetuate a continued anger-based tug of war? Maybe it was because they just liked hearing “The Answer” from someone: Build a wall, fuck NATO, make it rain and be awesome. Thus, leading into…

  • Classic Car 101- There isn’t a right answer, but the car will tell you when shit is wrong: Newer cars have issues with computer codes or buggy transmitters and stuff like that, which will cause a problem for five minutes and then never again, or just randomly explode. It’s like being married to a bipolar passive-aggressive person with random psychotic tendencies.
    Older cars are like coming home to someone who just tells you where the bear shit in the buckwheat every day. I’m happy for X reason. You pissed me off because of Y. I’m going to bed.
    On the truck, I think I have about 12 actual wires, not counting the new stereo I put in there, and that’s it. Still, when shit is wrong, you will know it.
    When I rebuilt the Mustang’s carb, I missed a small fragment of metal that managed to slip into the needle seat. How did I know that? Because when I started the car, the carburetor started pouring gas out of it all over the engine. When I bought a battery for it a few years back, the poles were reversed. How did I know that? Because when I hooked it up, the ground wire turned bright red and started the whole electrical system on fire.

    In short, there wasn’t any nuance. Shit was wrong and you had to be an idiot not to see it.

    I wonder if there’s a parallel to be had here… Oh, also…

  • These cars will fucking humble you: Over the years, I’ve gotten better at cars and I’ve become more adventurous in the things I will try. That said, there are some serious situations in which I’ve been left questioning the size of my own brainpan. Monday, I finished some heavy work on the truck, including swapping out some leaky seals, redoing some gasket work, tuning up the carb and reinstalling the steering system. I felt really great about myself and had that “Yep, I’m a garage GOD” moment rolling through my head.

    I started it up and took it on the road for a drive. The minute I tried to go past 30, the truck stuttered and stalled and gagged. Immediately, I pulled off to the side of the road in a panic. There, it idled perfectly. I tried to drive it again and the same thing happened. I started going through a checklist of thousand-dollar repairs I was probably going to have to make until suddenly something occurred to me.

    When I was pulling the valve covers, I couldn’t get a wrench on a bolt because a spark plug wire was in the way. I unplugged the wire and went about my work. Hmm…
    I opened the hood on the side of the road and sure enough: The wire was hanging there like a Great Dane’s balls. I snapped it back onto the plug and the truck ran like a Swiss Watch.

    Humility comes in all shapes and sizes when a car of that age will tell you, “Nope. Still broken.” It can be big or small but it happens to us all. A master mechanic was telling me a story about having a 1971 Mach 1 Mustang and how he loved it. When I asked what happened to it, he simply said, “Missed third gear at about 80 miles per hour. You ever see a rod virtually explode?” Eeesh.

    I learned a lot about having to beg for help, missing simple fixes and having to buy the same part three or four times because I fucked up my fixes. In the process. Humility, I honestly believe, is a lost art in “Fuck You Nation.” It’s why instead of thinking about how stuff works and why it doesn’t do what people want it to, they just chant “U-S-A! U-S-A!” like that’s going to solve everything.

  • Car 102 – If you can problem-solve and you’ll be fine: I know life is a lot more complicated than the cars of the 1960s, but I honestly think too many people have given up on working through problems. I see this with my kid all the time. If she gets the answer right, she’s fine. When she doesn’t, she throws up her hands and declares it can’t be done. When I ask her to take the laundry upstairs, she loads everything into one basket and then says, “That basket is too heavy.” Or, she takes up everything one piece at a time. She never thinks, “If I put half of it in this basket and half in that one, I can get this done quickly and without blowing out several vertebrae.” (Part of that, I’m sure, is willful ignorance, but still…)

    With the car, each system operates independently of the others and that makes for some pretty good step-by-step solutions. For example, the temperature pull switch in the truck wouldn’t shut off the heat, thus leading to a cabin temp of about 98 degrees in the middle of summer. I tried rebuilding the cable that ran it, only to find the cable kept breaking apart. I then stuck my head under the dash and followed the cable to its source, which was a spot where it left the cabin through the firewall and moved out into the engine bay.

    I found where it came to rest: A valve that was so rusted, I couldn’t pry it loose with a pliers. After about five sessions of WD40 and a lot of friction, I got the valve loose. Eventually, it swung free, so I hooked up the cable, repaired the connection and reinstalled it. Works like a charm.

    When the carb on the Mustang wasn’t reacting right to the tuning I was doing, I hooked up a vacuum gauge to test it. The gauge read zero, as opposed to 15-17, which is what it should have read. I checked every connection on that damned piece of shit and found every connection valid. Finally, I decided to just run a new vacuum line from the manifold, which is where I found that there was a giant leak because a plug had snapped off. I installed a new plug and the gauge jumped to 17. Still, not everything works out that way…

  • Failure happens: Where did people get this idea that everything should work out in the end? Was it too many 1980s movies? Was it that summer trip to Nostalgia-ville? Who said each and every one of us is perfect all the time?

    Apparently somebody, because when I see college kids try to write for me and I mark the shit out of their papers, they’re appalled. One kid told me, “I’ve never received anything less than an A on anything I’ve EVER DONE!”

    Well, even DiMaggio’s streak ended, kid.

    I failed a shit ton on those cars and it really pissed me off every time, but not nearly as much as failure pissed off Tom. I remember him at various times throwing a lit blowtorch across the garage once, kicking over a toolbox and screaming (in earshot of a convent member) that something was “fucking tighter than a nun’s cunt.”

    I tried not to do anything that might cause me to fuck up anywhere near him.
    When I was finally on my own and able to fail at my own speed, I learned a ton from failing. I learned what didn’t work and that helped me avoid those things so much more than random success helped me replicate completion. Failure often taught me painful lessons that required stitches, eye flushes and vomit. Failure wasn’t something I sought, but something I saw as a learning opportunity.

    Here in ‘Mur’ca, that’s heresy. We don’t fail. We’re the best. Everyone gets a trophy. When things like Sam Brownback’s economic revival plan of trickle-down economics failed, it wasn’t his fault or the fault of the plan. It was some “unforeseen force” or Democrats or that little fucking Gremlin with the big Mohawk. When Trump’s businesses go bankrupt, it’s the fault of someone else: A developer, a marketer or whatever. Failure isn’t an option. It’s not even a real thing.

    Without failure, there is no pain. Without pain, there is no growth or learning. I have two hands filled with cars that will testify to that.
    This leads to the biggest thing of all…

  • True joy over accomplishment: If you always win, how can you enjoy it? When the Americans knocked off the Soviets in 1980’s Miracle on Ice, the kids were delirious. They were laughing and crying and hugging. Years later, a Russian player said that they won so often, they had forgotten what the feeling was. They were just supposed to win.

    I don’t always win with the cars, but when I do, it’s the greatest thing in the world.
    Yesterday, it rained for about the ninth time in the past month and each and every time it did, there was water on the floorboards of the truck. I had a leak and I was freaking out that it might be the cowl, which would require welding and such. I ran wire cameras, flashlights and even fishing line through the cowl, looking for a telltale sign of deadly rust. I couldn’t find anything, which freaked me out even more. Where was this goddamned water coming from?

    So, I did what any insane person would do: I pulled out everything between the dash and the fire wall so I could see the seams between the outside and the inside of the truck. Glove box, heater vents, radio, all of it came out. I then poured about ten gallons of water on the truck windshield and stuffed my head under the dash with a flashlight.

    I found it.

    The mountings where the windshield wipers met the firewall were dripping like Chinese Water Torture. Turns out, the two holes that let the wipers drain were plugged. I cleaned them out and added a silicone seal around the edges of the mounts. When it poured later, my wife and child feared a tornado. I was in the garage, jumping around like a teen after his first kiss because the floorboards were dry.

    For all the stuff cars don’t do, the one thing they will do is let you know when you have actually succeeded. When the Mustang didn’t have heat, I played with the cooling system for weeks until I finally figured out what was wrong and fixed it. I drove around with the windows open and the heat on full blast in the middle of the summer, giggling like schoolgirl that I had heat. Truth be told, I was never going to really need it, as I stored the car in the winter, but fuck it.

    I. HAD. HEAT.

    I don’t know how normal this is or how many people feel it on a daily basis, but I do know that yesterday I would much rather have told people about fixing the truck than anything else that happened to me. I would win a major award that day and yet still want to say, “Yeah, that’s great! But check out the truck!”

 

There are dozens of other lessons I found over time: You get dirty as shit and you learn to enjoy it. There are nice people all over the world on chat boards and in auto parts stores who want to see you succeed, regardless of your opinion on immigration, abortion, guns or whatever. Don’t throw money at the thing and think it’s a solution. There are things you can live with and you need to find them.

The cars I love have taught me symbiosis in a strange way: I give them more time on this Earth, they return the favor to me through joy, pain and life lessons. I don’t know if everyone has something like this, but if we did, maybe we could get on board with the idea that we don’t have to be chest-beating assholes who exercise moral superiority over people while simultaneously enacting laws based on fear of those same individuals. Maybe we might learn that “The Answer” isn’t out there and that certainty is an illusion. Nothing is ever perfect. It’s just fixed enough for now.

We might also learn that looking back in time at “great” through our fun-house mirror of desperation will only breed discontent as we move to the future of the possible.

Just like America, these cars showed me that things weren’t “great” back then. The lap-only seatbelts, the rust-bucket floor pans, the rear-wheel drive and the lack of airbags are only a few things that show me what we have now is a hell of a lot better in a lot of ways than what we had then. “Governmental interference” gave us crumple zones, safety markers, three-point seatbelts and other things the car manufactures weren’t too thrilled with, even though they have made our lives exponentially better.

Still, for those few short months each summer, when working on a car is more fun than work, I get a chance to learn and grow and become someone better.

It’s a small price to pay for such a gift.

Friday Catblogging: Don’t Bug Me, Human

Della Street is alternately languid and tetchy at this time of the year. She gets annoyed when her personal paparazzi (Dr. A and me) take her picture when she’s trying to get her beauty rest. It’s hard being Della:

IMG_1526

Della doesn’t work but I *have* been in a Nick Lowe mood this week. This tune comes from Little Village, a short-lived supergroup Nick was in with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner:

Friday Ferretblogging: Catch ‘Em All

Claire is a rare pokeyman.

clairepokeyman

A.

Trumpvention Finale: 76 Minutes of Fear & Hate

Hopefully, you’ve noticed that satire is my specialty. I think that humor is the best way to respond to even the worst situation. But I’m not feeling funny ha-ha after Donald Trump’s 76 minute diatribe. It was a speech that lasted longer than his second marriage and was twice as loud. I felt like I needed ear plugs during Trump’s harangue. I guess I’ve recovered my sense of humor but I feel like I’ve been battered after listening to Trump’s endless acceptance speech.

I am obviously biased: I hate Donald Trump and am appalled that this sociopath has won a major party nomination. Following Trump closely has led me to modify my belief in Godwin’s Law. Here’s a rough paraphrase of it: mention the Nazis in an argument and you lose. I’ve always avoided Nazi and Fascist comparisons, believing them to be hyperbolic: who was worse than Hitler, after all?While I still don’t anticipate an American holocaust in the unlikely event that Trump is elected, I have to place Godwin’s Law on the back burner for the duration of the campaign. Donald Trump and his supporters represent the dark side of the American psyche and must be stopped.

On to the speech, I thought it was, in equal parts, horrible and horrifying. It was dark, brooding, and jumbled. The delivery was LOUD and wildly OTT. I felt bludgeoned after being screamed at for 76 minutes as well as depressed by listening to a speech that didn’t describe the America I live in.In between accusing Hillary Clinton and James Comey of crimes against the state, Trump told us to be scared, very scared. Even the ostensibly “uplifting” parts were stepped on by Trump’s red-faced, angry, and shouty delivery. I have my doubts that the American people want to be screamed at for four years. It will be bad enough to be shouted at for the next 3 1/2 months.

In substance, tone and delivery, it was a white nationalist speech full of attacks on minorities and immigrants. Brown people scare Donald Trump and he wants you to be afraid too. The speech went over well in the anti-Semitic community as well:

In addition to being delivered in a rather Hitlerian manner, Trump’s solution to every problem was himself. I am your voice, he said several times. Sounds like the Fuhrer principle to me. I wasn’t sure if he’s running for President or Dictator. If you saw it, you know it was that bad. The rest of the convention was funny, Trump’s speech was not.

No one will be surprised to hear that the speech was packed with lies and half-truths calculated to scare the living shit out of the audience. Politics USA has come up with 21 fact checked proven lies in the speech. I’m surprised it was that few. The audacity of mendacity should be the campaign’s slogan instead of Making America White Great Again.

I’m still dubious that the speech played well with the average person watching on teevee. It was too dark, gloomy, and badly delivered. He played to the hall, not the country. Trump confuses volume with strength. It may help solidify the angry white guy vote but how it will play with undecided voters is anybody’s guess. I was, however, told by several friends that they’ve decided to vote for Clinton instead of the Crunchy Granola Machiavelli after watching Trump’s red-faced rantings.

I remain convinced that Donald Trump will lose the election BUT tonight raised the stakes. Why?Underneath all the rabid verbiage was the semblance of a change message, and the Democrats are trying to win a third consecutive term in the White House. My belief that Trump is a LOSER is based on Team Trump’s ineptitude, poor staffing, and lack of an adequate digital strategy or GOTV plan. They don’t have a ground game and Trump has openly sneered at the idea. I hope he continues to do so. Elections are won or lost that way. In 2008 and 2012, Democrats had the better ground game whereas Bush was re-elected in 2004 because of his superior GOTV operation. It had nothing to do with the dark underbelly of America and everything to do with a superior campaign team. In 2016, the Democrats have the advantage in that regard but our voters need to turn out.

Now that I’ve recovered my hearing, the bottom line remains the same: Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President.

Ted Cruz’s Rocky Moment

1377214008000-AP-GESTURING-CANDIDATES-001

This is what Rocky wanted to do at the 1964 RNC.

No, I don’t mean the pugilist played by Sylvester Stallone, I’m referring to Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York from 1959-1973. Rockefeller thought Barry Goldwater was a sure LOSER and was proven right. He declined to endorse Goldwater and was booed when he spoke at the 1964 Republican Convention at the Cow Palace in Daly City. They say it was in San Francisco but, trust me, Daly City ain’t THE CITY. Here’s a clip of Rocky’s big moment:

Does any of the above sound familiar? It should because Ted Cruz flipped the bird at Donald Trump and Team Trump let him. I still cannot believe they let Cruz speak without assurances that he would endorse the nominee. Compounding their error, Cruz’s fiery address and smirking grand finale overshadowed the workmanlike folksiness of Mike Pence’s acceptance speech. Gosh, golly, heck shucks, I’m Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire, and I’m a folksy Hoosier. All anyone inside or outside the hall wanted to talk about was Cruz’s speech. They should have scheduled the losing candidates for Monday in case there was trouble. Team Trump FAIL. Again.

Cruz not only declined to endorse Trump, he told Republicans to “vote your conscience.” The hall erupted in boos and a big ass smirk crossed Cruz’s face. It was a moment when Cruz’s thick skin and willingness to be hated came in mighty handy. It sounded like Philly in the hall but the jeers were led by the New York delegation. No shocker.

Cruz’s hatred of Trump is personal as well as ideological. Remember, Trump viciously attacked Heidi Cruz and, even worse, implied that Cruz’s crazy father was somehow involved in the Kennedy Assassination. I’ve long thought these personal attacks were beyond the pale. It turns out that Cruz has a long memory and is an excellent grudge holder.

A private meeting and apology would have gone a long way towards patching things up but the Donald don’t play that. Of course, Cruz-quite correctly-thinks the Donald is a LOSER and treated his speech as the opening shot of his 2020 campaign. Still, this was the first time I’ve ever had any positive feelings about Tailgunner Ted:

There are two versions circulating about Cruz’s Rocky moment; both of which illustrate Team Trump’s incompetence. First, the Trumpers had Cruz’s speech but didn’t read it carefully and somehow missed the significance of the “vote your conscience” line. This is plausible given how badly the Trumpvention has been run and organized. It’s also a partial explanation for the spousal plagiarism flap. Second, the Trumpers *wanted* the bomb to go off on the floor to unite the party in loathing of Cruz. This line is being peddled by Patrick Bateman Junior among others. This could be the case OR it’s lie-spin peddled by a inept, mendacious, and “unconventional” campaign. In either, case this was a disaster as it stepped on the VP nominee’s fairly decent speech, by gosh and golly. Fudge that poop.

I have to give Cruz credit for chutzpah. Trump’s political brand is dominance and submission. Look at Christie and Newt Gingrich both of whom behave like Trump’s valets. Newt even tried to rescue things last night by claiming Cruz didn’t say what he said: that’s one refutation of the “deliberate bomb” theory.

In his bold defiance of Trumpian domination, Cruz has laid down markers for 2020. When the dust settles, he could emerge from it as the conservative badass who stood up to the mouthy LOSER. Another refutation of the “deliberate bomb” theory was Trump’s entrance into the hall to distract attention from Cruz’s own bombshell. It was a very bad night for Team Trump no matter how they try to lie their way out of it. Sad.

It was a genuinely amazing moment that I happened to see because I tuned into the Trumpvention just as Tailgunner Ted hit the stage. Looks like I violated my own rule about not watching the RNC. I plead guilty as charged. I hope I won’t be subjected to a Christie-style show trial. Dude thinks he’s Vishinsky (Stalin’s chief purge prosecutor) or something.

Tailgunner Ted is playing the long game in this duel of creep vs. creep. His disregard for party unity is breathtaking and, upon reflection, predictable. What’s unpredictable is that it happened at the convention, which is on Team Trump. Of course, the Insult Comedian thinks that any publicity is good publicity. It’s how sociopaths roll.

The question for Cruz is whether this gamble will pay off when Trump LOSES. Rockefeller’s anti-Goldwater gambit made him at least Luke, if not Lucifier, to party conservatives. He never won the GOP nomination. He did, however, become Sainted Moderate Gerald Ford’s Veep but was forced off the ticket because of the Reaganite challenge.  The flip-off picture I have at the top was taken during the ’76 campaign when Rocky was free to let his wingnut detractors know what he really thought of them. In contrast, Nixon supported Goldwater and in the immortal words of Steve Earle:

I think that last part of the Rocky analogy doesn’t quite work. Goldwater was the founder of something (the conservative movement) whereas Trump is an outlier, a freak with bad hair. Additionally, people *liked* Barry Goldwater as a person and Trump is one of the worst human beings ever to run for President. Cruz is, of course, a legendary asshole BUT his views are the views of most Republicans whereas God only knows what Donald Trump believes in except for himself. Repeat after me: He’s still worse than Nixon.

I put myself in a Nick Lowe mood yesterday. I’ll give him the last word. The song is not about Nelson Rockefeller BUT it describes the nature of the Trump-Cruz relationship in the wake of Ted Cruz Vengeance Night at the RNC:

 

Convention Chronicle (Emphasis On Chronic)

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So, last night, Patsy, I mean Pence, accepted his role of porter and coconut clapper for The Donald. To tell you the truth, I only caught parts of the speech as it played opposite a television show that’s made it to my list (Mr. Robot)…and I’m still too cheap to buy a DVR.

But, I don’t think I missed much…because while Pence was the headliner, Tailgunner Ted sucked out all the oxygen, farting in their general direction

frenchguard_ted_cruz

I dunno. Sort of fits with the whole weird, sad, bizarre, and at times ugly clown show. Rudy Ghouliani looked and sounded like he’d miscalculated and overdid it on the Adderall and Mountain DewChris Christie established his charter membership in the He-Man-Hitlery-Haters-Club 

Christie_He_Man_Hillary_Hater

That’s not even mentioning the unusually kind words for Michelle Obama. But I guess you have to be complimentary when you’re plagiarizing, um, borrowing her own words.

Well…anyway…it’s official, and after tonight, even more so.

trump_troll_apprentice_nominee

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 GOP…

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Cornell Woolrich

Cornell Woolrich was a prolific author of crime fiction novels. So prolific, in fact, that he had several pen names, the best known of which was William Irish. For this week’s PFT. I’m posting one deadly title by Woolrich and another by Irish. I hope it brings me the luck of the Irish but given the title that seems unlikely:

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Tweet Of The Day: Twinks For Trump Edition

Geert Wilders is a right-wing Islamophobic Dutch politician. He’s also openly gay. He appeared at a pro-gay Trump event in Cleveland last night. The WaPo’s Dave Weigel was there:

If you don’t know what a twink is, I’ll let the Urban Dictionary fill you in:

An attractive, boyish-looking, young gay man. The stereotypical twink is 18-22, slender with little or no body hair, often blonde, dresses in club wear even at 10:00 AM, and is not particularly intelligent. A twink is the gay answer to the blonde bimbo cheerleader.

Every time I think this election can’t get any weirder it does. So it goes.

Malaka Of The Week: Al Baldasaro

Al+Baldasaro+Donald+Trump+Holds+Press+Conference+wvaUKm0srdnl

Baldasaro speaks, Trump listens.

As I said earlier today, the haters are in charge at the Trumpvention. One of them is a New Hampshire State Rep named Al Baldasaro who is Trump’s veterans adviser. He hates the soon-to-be Democratic nominee so much that he wants to go beyond locking her up. And that’s why the hitherto obscure Al Baldasaro is malaka of the week.

BuzzFeed broke the story so I’ll let Andrew Kaczynski fill you in:

New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro, who is also a Trump delegate from the state and has appeared with Trump at campaign events, made the comments on the Jeff Kuhner Show.

“I’m a veteran that went to Desert Shield, Desert Storm. I’m also a father who sent a son to war, to Iraq, as a Marine Corps helicopter avionics technician. Hillary Clinton to me is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam,” he said. “She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there.”

“This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” he added.

Baldasaro has spoken at several Trump events, introducing Trump multiple times, including at an event in late May where he admonished the media for focusing on questions over Trump’s donations to veteran’s charities.

He later added in the radio interview that Clinton was a “piece of garbage.”

It takes one to know one. Malaka Baldasaro’s comments show how extreme the rhetoric on the Right has gotten. And this is an elected official who’s advising Trump. If HRC were President now, this would be sedition pure and simple. The good news for Baldasaro is that she’s not but I suspect the Secret Service will be paying him a visit directly. Death threats against Presidential candidates are not to be taken lightly even if made by a bloviating ninny.

I’m not surprised that someone associated with Team Trump went there. It’s a small step from demanding the imprisonment of your opponents to demanding their execution. It’s such an extreme statement that I won’t spend as much time as I ordinarily would mocking this incoherent statement: “Hillary Clinton to me is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam.” I guess he means she’s like the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam era but, as I’ve said before, details are not the strong suit of the Trumpites.

As easy as it is to mock someone like Al Baldasaro, incitement speech such as this is not a laughing matter. There was a lot of it before the Kennedy Assassination in 1963. In America, we defeat our political opponents at the ballot box, we don’t gun them down. I would have thought that a veteran would understand this basic concept but, apparently, he does not. And that is why Al Baldasaro is malaka of the week.

Banana Republicanism

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Discarded TP logo. It still works for me.

Night two of the Trumpvention was more professionally staged, but it continues to look more like a monster truck rally or lynch mob than a political convention. Despite all the talk of GOP pols falling in line, there were empty seats at the arena, which wouldn’t happen if Trump had a decent whip operation. Organization is apparently banned at the Trumpvention because it has something to do with Saul Alinsky, Lucifer, and Hillary Clinton. I still don’t understand Dr. Sleepy’s point but the crowd liked it. Of course, they like anything nasty, vicious, and untrue.

Former 2016 frontrunner, Chris Christie, held a Kangaroo Court that “indicted” HRC for her various “crimes” none of which happen to be crimes but details don’t matter at the Trumpvention. It’s particularly rich coming from a man whose mentor, David Samson, pled guilty to corruption charges related to his appointment by Christie to the Port Authority. I believe it’s called projection.

Time for some self-paraphrasing, yesterday I described the program as red meat that was “rotten to the core and laced with maggots.” The maggots went flying into the arena during Christie’s speech, which was an extended rant, not a prosecutorial indictment. It got the crowd revved up and shouting “LOCK HER UP, LOCK HER UP.” That was the point of the pudgy Goering wannabe’s speech: to incite the crowd to a sort of lynch mob style blood lust. It certainly had the maggots swarming around the empty seats in an arena that Lebron James sells out:

The tenor and tone of the Trumpvention has an un-American feel as Slate’s Michelle Goldberg put it:

… American presidential campaigns are not typically built around the dream of jailing the opposing candidate. Prime-time convention speakers usually pay lip service to the cliché of disagreeing without being disagreeable. Convention planners have not, in the past, staged their events like fantasy show trials. They have not sought to work their crowds into ecstasies of hatred. Those chants of “LOCK HER UP!” might be common among conservatives nowadays, but we haven’t seen their like at a modern political convention.

The nastiest recent convention was the 2004 GOP confab at Madison Square Garden. It was hateful but nothing compared to this. It did, however, lay the foundation for the rabid and factually challenged rhetoric on display in Cleveland. The chant of “LOCK HER UP, LOCK HER UP” is something one would expect in Putin’s Russia, Chavez’s Venezuela, or Peron’s Argentina. I briefly considered calling them Borscht Republicans but settled on Banana Republicans even if Tweety muttered darkly about Banana Republics on MSNBC last night. Even Tweety is right a few times every election cycle. Uh oh, my leg just got all tingly and shit…

It’s amusing to think of the Insult Comedian and his Plagiarizing Wife as Juan and Isabel Peron. That’s right, Isabel, not the chick from the musical. Isabel was Peron’s third wife and succeeded him as President of Argentina. Peronism back in the day is a fine analog for Trumpism: it was an incoherent witches brew of far left and far right ideas. Isabel’s misrule brought the notorious, blood-drenched military junta to power. That’s probably why you hear more about Evita: all she did was give stirring, populist speeches and help her husband coddle Nazi war criminals.

Since Trump loves dictators so much, here’s a double dose with the Perons and Ceaucsecus:Dictators

The good news is that, in the unlikely event Trump becomes President, his immigrant third wife cannot succeed him as Oval One. The family does, however, seem to have dynastic ambitions and Donald Trump Junior is the Chosen One. I guess it’s because he has a penis and his father doesn’t want to date him or some such shit. With his slicked back hair and fancy suits, Junior resembles a less attractive Christian Bale as Partrick Bateman in American Psycho. In the novel, Bateman’s hero was (who else?) Donald Trump. The only thing Junior wants to kill is democracy as we know it in favor of dear old dad’s reality show autocracy.

The cries of “LOCK HER UP, LOCK HER UP” may resound with the Republican base but it won’t go down well in the general election. It was too much even for the junior Senator from Arizona:

In 2002, current British Prime Minister Theresa May memorably called the Tories “the nasty party.” Ms. May thought that was a bad thing and hoped to change it. The current GOP is the nastier party and it’s just fine with them. It’s what happens when you allow a sociopathic assclown like Donald Trump to capture your party. Banana Republicanism has been a long time coming. Let’s hope it’s not as contagious as the Norovirus, which is spreading among Trumpvention staffers, thereby making it a literal shit show as well as a figurative one. Holy crap, I sound like Joe Biden. Not a bad thing, really. Now where are my aviator shades?

Repeat after me: Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Whenever You Need Somebody

This is without a doubt the dullest album cover I’ve ever posted for this feature. It’s by an artist I don’t like and the cover looks like it’s Rick Astley’s headshot from his days as an underwear model. Wait a minute, that was the dude who spoke at the Trumpvention whose name I refuse to recall. Let’s get the cover over with so I can explain why Rick Astley’s debut album is featured this week. There’s method to my madness. Promise:

Rick_Astley_-_Whenever_You_Need_Somebody

Boring.

Here’s the real reason for this snoozer’s presence here at First Draft. Melania Trump’s speech quoted Astley’s monster hit, Never Gonna Let You Go. It appears to be an example of political rickrolling. I’ll yield the floor to the distinguished blogger from Esquire to tell you more:

Perhaps the oddest quirk of the third Mrs. Trump’s speech was not the plagiarism, but the specter of vanquished Lyin’ Ted Cruz rising up when an apparent rickroll was inserted in the middle of Melania’s speech.

“If you want someone to fight for your country, I assure you, he is your guy,” the prospective First Lady confidently assured the delegates. “He will never give up. And most importantly, he will never let you down.”

Curiously enough, it was Lyin’ Ted himself who last employed a political rickroll, when he lured visitors to his campaign site with the April Fool’s claim that Trump had accepted his challenge to a one-on-one debate.

Oh, those zany Republicans. What a nutty, nutty bunch of wacky kooks.

I’ll spare you the Rick Astley tune and quote a passage from Nick Lowe’s song, All Men Are Liars:

Well, do you remember Rick Astley?
He had a big fat hit it was ghastly
He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down
Well, I’m here to tell you that dick’s a clown

Now that I think of it, All Men Are Liars could be the theme song for the Trump campaign. Of course, the Insult Comedian would have to concede that he was a liar. So, I guess that’s a non-starter but a man can dream, in between lies, that is. Here’s Nick’s video:

As a public service, I feel compelled to post all the lyrics for All Men Are Liars. They’re brilliant and stunning as they say in Great Britain:

All Men,
All Men are liars their words ain’t worth no more than worn out tires.
Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth,
All men are liars and that’s the truth.

Do you remember Rick Astley?
He had a big fat hit that was ghastly.
He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down.
Well I’m here to tell ya that Dick’s a clown
Though he was just a boy when he made that vow.
I’d bet it all that he knows by now.

All Men,
All Men are liars their words ain’t worth no more than worn out tires.
Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth,
All men are liars and that’s the truth.

Among god’s creatures man must be.
The most slimy and slippery now.
There stands the naked ape in a monkey suit.
Behind a little mustache he grew, the shifty brute.
All the ones not choking on the words they ate are
Sweating on getting their stories straight.

All Men,
All Men are liars their words ain’t worth no more than worn out tires.
Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth,
All men are liars and that’s the truth.

All Men,
All Men are liars their words ain’t worth no more than worn out tires.
Hey Girls, bring rusty pliers to pull this tooth,
All men are liars and that’s the truth.

Thanks, Nick. I’ll give Nick the last word with a song he wrote with his then wife, Carlene Carter. I hope it comes true in campaign 2016: ain’t no bigger heel that Donald J. Trump:

Apocalypse GOP

Nixon-Agnew 1968 RNC.

Two crooks at the 1968 RNC.

Heavy metal is to suburban white boys what the delta blues is to black folks.  I realize that’s not the most contemporary analogy but Donald Trump isn’t the most contemporary guy; neither am I, for that matter. Last night GOP headbangers served up a program of red meat to their base that was rotten to the core and laced with maggots. I’m not sure when the maggots went flying into the arena but it may have been when Mayor 9/11 did his Mussolini impression; complete with broad, mugging facial expressions and flicks of spittle at the corners of his mouth. This tweet sums it up rather nicely:

I have long maintained that the *real* patron saint of the modern GOP (I know that’s an oxymoron) is not the superficially sunny Ronald Reagan, but the master of political gloom and doom, Richard Nixon. Tricky was one of the most successful politicians in our history before his spectacular fall; tying FDR’s record for most times on a national ticket with five. Tricky had a genuine chip on his shoulder and genuine resentment of the elites of his day. In contrast, Trump has an ersatz chip on his shoulder and is a fake man of the people.

In a campaign known for the audacity of mendacity, I have to give Paul Manafort credit for admitting the Nixonian nature of their enterprise:

In a startling disclosure on the first day of the convention, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, declared that the candidate was using, as the template for his own prime-time speech accepting the Republican nomination, Nixon’s convention address 48 years ago in Miami Beach. “If you go back and read,” Mr. Manafort said at a Bloomberg News breakfast, “that speech is pretty much on line with a lot of the issues that are going on today.”

Mr. Trump himself, in an interview, drew explicit comparisons between his candidacy and Nixon’s, and between the current political climate and that of the United States in 1968.

“I think what Nixon understood is that when the world is falling apart, people want a strong leader whose highest priority is protecting America first,” Mr. Trump said recently. “The ’60s were bad, really bad. And it’s really bad now. Americans feel like it’s chaos again.”

Remember when the Insult Comedian allegedly went Celebrity Apprentice on Roger Stone and fired his ass? Manafort is one of Stone’s closest associates and Roger’s paranoid fingerprints are all over the hate fest that was the first night of the Trumpvention. Roger Stone is a notorious Nixon idolator. Who else would have this tattoo?

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Roger Stone has Tricky Dick’s back.

Fear has long been a key component of Republican Presidential campaigns. I thought it had reached its apex in 2004 with the Bush-Cheney “we’re all gonna die if you vote for Kerry” sleaze fest. They really should have used  this Sixties anti-war classic with new lyrics. Talk about expert hippie punching.

Now that I think of it, Trump thinks we’re all fixin’ to die and he made that infamous joke about Megyn Kelly on the rag, so perhaps they can steal from Country Joe who stole from Kid Ory. (I’ll leave the plagiarism kerfuffle to Athenae. She nailed it.) Team Trump should just do it and threaten to sue Joe McDonald back to the Stoner Age if he objects. Btw, my friend and neighbor, Justin Zitler, represented Kid Ory’s heirs in an ultimately unsuccessful plagarism suit against Country Joe.

Back to the Trump-Nixon connection. The Insult Comedian declared himself the “law and order candidate” last week but it’s hard to imagine him following in Tricky’s footsteps. The 1968 Nixon campaign was tightly controlled and scripted to keep Tricky away from the press except when it was on his own terms. Nixon was a highly disciplined candidate who stayed on script and abhorred any spontaneity. Does any of that sound like Donald Trump? The man who called Bill-O during his own convention? Additionally, Nixon was qualified for the job and knew how to dog whistle. Trump has no qualifications whatsoever and plays his bigotry on a Sousaphone. He’s loud, flashy, and brassy. Nixon would be appalled by Team Trump’s rank amateurism. Here’s how some wise ass put it on the Tweeter Tube:

Trump is just nuts enough to try and one-up one of the worst photo-ops in political history. Everything he does is the best and biggest, after all…

I am firmly convinced that the only way to deal with events like the first night of the Trumpvention is with humor. This is, however, deadly serious stuff, and last night was like a glitzy Vegas version of the Nuremberg Rallies. Some people respond to fear and vote accordingly. It’s the responsibility of decent Americans to go to the polls to ensure that Donald Trump will not be the first Insult Comedian elected President. I don’t care if, like me, you’re voting *for* Hillary or it’s a clothespin vote: Trump is an unstable, erratic man with a short attention span who might start a war on a whim. Don’t give him the chance.

The One-Day Story: In Which I Give Melania Trump’s People Some Free Advice

Oh, Melania. I so want you to succeed because I have a feeling you just married a rich dude, and now you’re in the middle of this shitshow, and I kind of dig your cheekbones. But now you’re in the middle of this shitshow for your own thing, and this is not helping.

Guys, you fire the speechwriter, you say hey, we fucked up hiring whatsisnuts, he’ll never eat lunch in this town again, and by tomorrow everybody will be talking about something else. Probably some other preventable emergency you created. That’s how these things work. It’s a one-day story. It’s a miserable story but you apologize and then it’s over.

You do this, you faff around with “it’s not really plagiarism” and “it’s Hillary’s fault!” and “everybody plagiarizes” and you make it a two-week clusterfuck that never ends. You prolong the story. You prolong your own agony. You continue it on and on and on.

Just STOP IT. People will laugh and then in a week you can pretend it’s funny too and it’ll be over. Keep this defensive shit up and it’s the six-pointed star all over again.

A.

We Used to Fight for Better

I’m stuck at work right now, at a nonstop event that won’t end until Sunday morning, so I haven’t been able to watch the entirety of the RNC, and I’ll likely not be able to see much beyond tonight. I thought I would be sorry, but after 12 minutes of watching Melania (meh) and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (WTF POLAR BEAR) I wanted very badly to be drunk on any kind of substance whatsoever.

I managed to see five seconds of Bob Dole standing up to be applauded, though, and that was worse, maybe, than anything that came out of the mouths of the fascists and fools who followed. Bob Dole is 457 years old now, and one of a vanishing few Republicans Of Name to attend this convention. There’s no George W. Bush, no Mitt, no McCain. It’s just Bob Dole, listening to a guy whose biggest firefight was in Grenada, talking about America’s enemies and war.

And something about the dazed and tired look on his face, the smile at the weak applause that passes for enthusiasm in that heinous mosh pit in Cleveland, sent me searching for this: 

It is for the people of America that I stand here tonight, and by their generous leave. And as my voice echoes across darkness and desert, as it is heard over car radios on coastal roads, and as it travels above farmland and suburb, deep into the heart of cities that, from space, look tonight like strings of sparkling diamonds, I can tell you that I know whose moment this is: It is yours. It is yours entirely.

And who am I that stands before you tonight?

I was born in Russell, Kansas, a small town in the middle of the prairie surrounded by wheat and oil wells. As my neighbors and friends from Russell, who tonight sit in front of this hall, know well, Russell, though not the West, looks out upon the West.

And like most small towns on the plains, it is a place where no one grows up without an intimate knowledge of distance.

And the first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land. And under the immense sky where I was born and raised, a man is very small, and if he thinks otherwise, he is wrong.

I come from good people, very good people, and I’m proud of it. My father’s name was Doran and my mother’s name was Bina. I loved them and there’s no moment when my memory of them and my love for them does not overshadow anything I do — even this, even here — and there is no heighth to which I have risen that is high enough to allow me to allow me to forget them — to allow me to forget where I came from, and where I stand and how I stand — with my feet on the ground, just a man at the mercy of God.

And this perspective has been strengthened and solidified by a certain wisdom that I owe not to any achievement of my own, but to the gracious compensations of age.

Now I know that in some quarters I may not — may be expected to run from this, the truth of this, but I was born in 1923, and facts are better than dreams and good presidents and good candidates don’t run from the truth.

I do not need the presidency to make or refresh my soul. That false hope I will gladly leave to others. For greatness lies not in what office you hold, but on how honest you are in how you face adversity and in your willingness to stand fast in hard places.

Age has its advantages.

Let me be the bridge to an America than only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquility, faith and confidence in action.

And to those who say it was never so, that America’s not been better, I say you’re wrong. And I know because I was there. And I have seen it. And I remember.

I don’t blame Bob Dole for being at the convention. It might be his last one, and the Nazis shot him in the Appenines in 1945 so he’s earned a trip to the most expensive hookers Cleveland has to offer him along with whatever drugs he might want to sample. Get it, Grandpa.

I went looking for that speech because I remembered reading it in the wake of the Romney convention, and how “even this, even here” rang out true. If you love words, you have to love those, and “by their generous leave.” I mean, Bob Dole. Not who anyone would consider a great orator. And yet.

If there’s a yearning for the past that could be considered admirable — as a middle-class white chick let’s say parts of the 1940s would have been kinder to me than to, say, a black or gay person — it’s that in our politics even as we were calling things screwed up, we were not implying the end times.

We could figure it out. We could fight about it, but we could figure it out, and if we lost this one, we would keep fighting.

Now, though, this might be the last election, said Rudy Giuliani, sputtering into the microphone. This might be the end of it. For the Republican party, one dearly hopes, but for America? Are they running on a platform of “fuck it, this is too hard and Chachi’s sister said they were gonna get a keg?”

I can see Republicans being despondent, but that’s a little over the top even for them. This is what they’re going with, in 20 years, from “Let me be the bridge to an America than only the unknowing call myth,” to “this is the last election, this is it.”

I get that we are tired. Everyone is tired. Probably Bob Dole is tired too. He didn’t seem thrilled to be yanked upright at this shitshow, but again, whatever he wants he gets at this point. The point is that you don’t get to give up. Even a hateful ideology doesn’t get to give up. It has to fight for itself, too. Instead this convention seems to be longing to lie down.

A.

Quote Of The Day: Lyin’ Donald Edition

Since the Insult Comedian finds it impossible to NOT  be the center of attention for even a nano-second, he called into Bill-O’s show during *his* convention. The two men shared a few yuks and more than a few lies. Trump took credit for the Trumpvention being in Cleveland when he had nothing to do with it. But this was his biggest whopper:

“Well, I’m probably the least racist person there is. I’m doing very well with the African community, African-American community.”

Cue graphic:

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One whole percent? I’m surprised it’s that high after his recent racist comments. Thanks to Lamar White for the screen shot.

Btw, what is it with Trump and Z-List celebrities? Scott Baio was a fifth banana on Happy Days who’s barely a celeb any more. I’m not sure even the Fonz would recognize Chachi at this point. I would hope that the Fonz would tell the Insult Comedian to sit on it.

Speaking of the Donald’s favorite African Amercian, Don King is in Cleveland. His conviction for stomping someone to death disqualified him from speaking at the Trumpvention but he’s there to show off his bad hair. Here’s an old shot of old friends:

king-trump-701x467

“Here’s my African American.”

Isn’t that all warm and fuzzy? The flags held by the crooked fight promoter make me want to take a dive into one of James Brown’s last hit singles:

 

Odds & Sods: I Don’t Like Mondays Redux

It’s been a busy few days in the world of news so I thought I’d go Odds & Sods on your asses of a Monday. In short, I want to mouth off about several subjects at once. Let’s see if I can pull it off. I’m reusing a post title so I added a redux. It’s part of my reductive method as a blogger.

The Adrastos Convention Method: I never watch gavel-to-gavel or wall-to-wall coverage of the Republican Convention. I prefer to read about it as opposed to watching anything more than clips. I already know what those crazy fuckers think and since I’m not running a campaign, I don’t need to hear them or the media bloviate. I might have made an exception for Tim Tebow but somebody lied about his speaking at the RNC, so I won’t have the pleasure of hissing the former Florida and failed NFL QB. His name popped up on the schedule and he denied agreeing to speak. Oops. It’s an example of how poorly organized Trump’s convention appears to be.

It just occurred to me that the last time I could, but didn’t, watch the Republican Convention was 2004. We evacuated up North to Bossier City for Hurricane Gustav, which hit Red Stick but not New Orleans in 2008. Then Mayor Nagin had a public meltdown when ordering the evacuation. Many were sympathetic and wrote it off to PTSD. I was not. It was malakatude pure and simple. I did, however, have fun with the Teutonic name of the storm: I was concerned that sour kraut and beer might rain down on the city…

In 2012, we stayed for Hurricane Issac. It was a category-1 storm so we thought it was no big whoop. It wasn’t but we lost power for nearly a week. I posted here a few times during Issac, but I missed the whole Clint Eastwood talking to the empty chair thing. Speaking of poor convention organization, the robotic Romneyites should have known better. It was as if Clint was channeling the crazy John Huston-like character he played in White Hunter, Black Heart.

Let’s move on to the Trump-Pence roll out.

That’s The Ticket: Why anyone was surprised that the Insult Comedian humiliated Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire at the ticket roll-out event is beyond me. It’s what he does: endless bragging and rambling non-sequiturs. I got a big kick out of them playing You Cant Always Get What You Want as Trump entered. Surreal but typical.

Everything Trump does revolves around what TPM’s Josh Marshall calls his “domination politics.” Trump feels the need to be in control of every situation and bend everyone to his will. Look at Chris Christie and N Leroy Gingrich who have been reduced to coat-holding courtiers, and Newt was a hero of the American Right in the 1990’s. How the mighty have fallen. Mike Pence is a penny ante minor league wingnut compared to Newt and Governor Asshole.

There will lots more shit for Pence to eat over the next few months. I hope he knows his place. He might want to watch a few episodes of The Apprentice to understand what he’s in for. He could be the next Gary Busey or Meatloaf…

Turkey Coup Fail: I spent some time on Friday tweeting about the Turkish coup, which ever so briefly looked like it might succeed. Unfortunately for them, the coup plotters went old school: tanks in the streets and seizure of state television and radio. It was not enough in the age of the internets.

All the original reports about the whereabouts of President Erdogan were wrong. He was said to be in the air and beseeching Chancellor Merkel for refuge in Germany. Wrong. Call it the fog of Twitter. The coup plotters failed putsch 101: detain the head of state. It won’t guarantee success-Gorby was arrested in the failed KGB coup back in the USSR-but it would have given them a fighting chance instead of what happened: a farce more reminiscent of Duck Soup than a proper, improper golpe de estado. I like the Spanish term: Latin Americans know how to throw a proper coup or at least they used to…

The real question is whether it was a genuine coup or an elected autocrat’s Reichstag fire? It beats the hell out of me, but it’s possible that Erdogan concocted the whole farce. The best thing I read while the coup was collapsing was an interview with Turkey scholar Jenny White in Slate.

The other big story of the weekend took place in Baton Rouge, which is usually a boring place except for the state guvmint and LSU football.

The Fog of Red Stick: Speaking of premature and inaccurate reporting, stories about yesterday’s BR police shooting take the cake. The shooter has been described as a Black Nationalist, a right-wing extremist, new age cultist, and a common criminal. All we know for sure is that conclusion jumping has become the national pastime. I prefer baseball.

Ever since I wrote my wee Sermonette last night, I’ve had-appropriately enough-a Police song in my head. It fits my pessimistic/hopeful mood quite well. Instead of posting the Boomtown Rats again, I’ll give Sting, Andy, and Stewart the last word. Eat your heart out, Bob Geldof:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Sarah is the concept by which we measure our Palin” edition

Oh dear – “Satindoll”‘s got the fever for the flavour of Our Sarah. It’s –

Palin and simple!

Vanity — Who I Suspect Will Be Trump’s Choice for Republican VP
July 14, 2016 | Satin Doll

Posted on ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎01‎:‎05‎ ‎PM by SatinDoll

No, I do not believe Trump’s choice will be Gov. Pence of Indiana. Nor Newt, nor Christie — not even a man. Yes, I do believe the proposed VP will be a woman.

I suspect that Trump’s VP running mate will be ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Why? Well, she is a natural born citizen, a real conservative, and she is ferocious contra liberals/progressives. In addition, she isn’t on the list of speakers for the Cleveland Convention and she has been silent of late. She has had lots of experience in dealing with those demons from Hell (the MSM) and her nomination will literally terrify the GOPee boys club.

1 posted on 7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎01‎:‎05‎ ‎PM by SatinDoll
Well, Our Sarah’s name has disappeared from the “hot topic” block of links at the top of the Freeperville main page, but she is still in the “popular keywords” list on the right.
.
Enthusiasm?
Or morbid curiosity?
To: SatinDoll

The flight out of Anchorage should be easy to track….

3 posted on ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎03‎:‎23‎ ‎PM by Genoa

Oh, we’ll get around to Track in a little bit, you betcha!
To: SatinDoll

“I suspect” = “I wish.”

5 posted on ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎04‎:‎09‎ ‎PM by Huck (Never give up.)

OhSnap
.
To: SatinDoll

She has too much bad luck.

13 posted on 7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎06‎:‎38‎ ‎PM by donna (No one should be allowed to become a citizen or even a resident if they support Sharia Law.)

Bwahahaha
.
To: SatinDoll

HELL NO!!!!!

21 posted on 7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎09‎:‎45‎ ‎PM by ObozoMustGo2012

But why??
To: SatinDoll

Sarah’s delivery has become too shrill and disjointed.
When she writes her opinions down on Facebook, it’s a totally different story, it’s the other Sarah, who is not caught up in performing for or reacting to the cameras.

20 posted on 7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎09‎:‎10‎ ‎PM by lee martell

 

To: lee martell

You said it well, as to delivery “shrill and disjointed”. The only word I could think of was “hysterical”, which was not an accurate descriptor.

26 posted on 7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎11‎:‎38‎ ‎PM by NEMDF

To: SatinDoll

It all depends if she can get her family under control, make sure no one is on probation for fighting in bars, no reality tv show conflicts, is not scheduled for Dancing with the Stars, and Kate plus her Eight is going to vote.

55 posted on ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎29‎:‎45‎ ‎PM by Toespi

To: SatinDoll

Sarah is nice, but has become a caracture(sic) of herself. It is now difficult to tell her from Tina Fey’s imitation.

82 posted on 7‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎3‎:‎53‎:‎45‎ ‎PM by aMorePerfectUnion

Actually, it always was.
More on this as reality sets in….

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Sunday Evening Sermonette with Adrastos

Social media has been a hotbed of hysteria and hyperbole the last few days. Yeah, I know, that’s typical but this has been extreme. It’s been amped up by people connecting unconnected events because they occurred at around the same time.  I saw the Nice attack, failed Turkish coup, and Baton Rouge police shooting listed as an unholy trinity that should have us all adopting monastic vows and/or run screaming into the night. Freaking out never made ANY situation better and usually makes things a helluva lot worse as does endless speculation about events and the who, what, and why of them. In addition to the fogs of war and history, there’s the fog of news. The internets and 24-hour news cycle had led many people to expect to know everything instantaneously, and in detail because everything is about them. It’s not, y’all. People need to relax and take a chill pill: the world has always been a slaughterhouse and we just have to get by the best we can. Fixating on bad news is just as bad as ignoring it altogether. Balance is vital even for someone as imbalanced as I’ve been known to be…

One reason I have come to respect, admire, and, I daresay, love President Obama so much is that he’s always calm and takes the long view. Ranting, raving, and making threats have as much to do with leadership as bad hair. They’re certainly fashionable on the American Right but throwing gasoline on a fire never made anything better. It may frustrate people that POTUS takes the long view but it’s an essential component of genuine leadership: it’s what made FDR our greatest President. The world has always been an imperfect place and hysteria has never improved it. I have a relative who melts down and freaks out in the face of adversity. Every personal or world event calls for drama as far as they’re concerned. Fuck that shit. It’s a prescription for madness and despair. Empathy is a fine quality but empathy overkill can be lethal.

Now is the time for people to take a deep breath and do something pleasurable. I’ve seen folks urging us all to don hair shirts and forsake the joys of life. Fuck that shit. It reminds me of post-K New Orleans when people told us that celebrating Carnival profaned the memory of the dead. Once again: fuck that shit. We’d been through a lot and Carnival was just what we needed to ease the pain: good food and booze didn’t hurt either. We’d survived as a community after suffering grievously and needed to cut loose and have some fun.

I’m tired of the fear mongers who tell us to freak out and hide under the bed at the first sign of trouble as well as the scaredy cats who fall in line. Fear and paranoia never helped anything whereas keeping a level head and a sense of humor can save our collective asses.

In searching for an antidote for this palpable fear and paranoia, I thought of the Holocaust survivors I’ve met. One of whom was one of my mother’s best friends, Mrs. Rosenberg. She was a plump and cheerful woman who lived down the street from us when I was a small child. One day I noticed the tattooed numbers on her arm and asked her about them. I was about 8 years old and my mom gave me a stern look but her friend waved her off and told me what they signified. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the Shoah. I was horrified and asked how she could be so cheerful after so much loss and suffering. Mrs. Rosenberg smiled, patted me on the head, and said: “When you’ve been to hell and back, nothing else ever seems so bad.”

Words to live by. I’ll add my own: fuck that shit.

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