‘Jim Robinson lived in a Friendfield Plantation slave cabin. His great-great-granddaughter lives in The White House.’

Michelle Obama, last night:

That is the story of this country. The story that has brought me to the stage tonight. The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done. So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters —two beautiful intelligent black young women — played with the dog on the White House lawn.

And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great. That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

If the person before you gave up, where would you be?

A lot of Michelle Obama’s excellent speech last night was about her children, her two lovely daughters and the future she is trying to build for them. I don’t think you have to be a parent to want the world to be better for others than it has been for you. You just have to be a human being with some measure of generosity and empathy, and parent to child is just the easiest way for people to make that argument: That you want to ensure the future for someone you care about.

This is the future Jim Robinson ensured by staying alive.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsIf he had given up, where would Michelle Obama be now? Where would any of us be, without the examples and the endurance of those who came before us? Sometimes we need to look at what we survived, to remind us what we can survive. It’s been such a horrible year.

From four days last week of people telling us we can’t afford to be open, we can’t take the risk of being generous, we can’t love the stranger or lift up the widow and orphan, we can’t we can’t we can’t, it’s all too much, close the blinds and lock the door and yes build the damn wall already, we get here. To people telling us we are better than this every day, because every day we open our eyes and our arms and we throw ourselves back out into the world again.

A war widow, taken in by a con man, rebuilds her life. The daughter of immigrants becomes a shining star. The first Muslim elected to Congress, whose religion is the target of so much hate and fear these days, says retreating from society isn’t a protest, it’s a surrender.

And defeated Bernie Sanders tells his supporters that their heartbreak can only be overcome by risking their hearts again, over and over and over again.

If that is all we can claim, it is enough. I tell myself and others this, a lot: You don’t have to be bigger or faster or smarter or stronger. You do have to get back up one more time than they can knock you down. You do have to stack your life back up again when the storm blows it over. And you have to do it over and over and over and over again, when you’re tired and you’re sick and you hate everything and it seems like finally, finally, you can’t go on like this anymore.

So that your great-great-granddaughter wakes up every morning in a house built by slaves, and her children play on the lawn with their dog.


Citizen Kaine

I pride myself on coming up with unusual post titles such as summoning the spirit of Earl Long this morning. But sometimes, you have to make like Bad Company and Run with the Pack. This is one of those times, especially since the *only* thing Donald Trump and I have in common is a love for Citizen Kane. I wrote about that in a post last March entitled Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump. The Insult Comedian take on Kane is as nutty as he is but I’m not writing about my favorite film, I’m writing about Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Kaine was not my first choice in the Veepstakes BUT almost no one ever votes for the Vice Presidential candidate and they rarely make any difference. It’s why I keep writing posts entitled, Veepstakes, Lowstakes. But Kaine was my second choice and he’s an excellent governing partner for HRC. The rap on him that he’s boring is goofy; in some ways it’s a running joke that Kaine himself started years ago. Kaine has a good sense of humor, which may be a negative to the drearier sorts out there but is important to me. His speaking style is conversational in nature, which is reminiscent of a certain former President and future First Gentleman or First Dude. It’s one reason Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were in his corner as the selection process wound down.

In short, Tim Kaine is a solid choice who hit a home run in his first speech as HRC’s running mate:

I know what some of you are thinking: he’s not progressive enough for me. That snap judgment by some on the left is based on two specific votes and not on the totality of his record. For example, Kaine has an outstanding record on gun safety related issues; much better than Senator Sanders. Does that mean that Sanders isn’t progressive enough? Of course not, you have to judge people by totality of their record and, more importantly, by their people skills and track record of getting things done. Tim Kaine is a member of the party that gets shit done. That’s important to me. You can’t help anyone if you love humanity but hate individuals.

I’m also disconcerted by those who think the *only* issues that define who’s a progressive are economic ones. Tim Kaine was a civil rights lawyer for 17 years and has been a racial healer at all three levels of government: local, state, and federal. He and his wife, Anne Holton, sent their kids to integrated public schools in majority African-American Richmond, VA. I was pleased that Kaine told the story of his father-in-law, Linwood Holton, who was the first Virginia Governor to accept integration. Holton paid a heavy political price for doing the right thing. I was under the impression that Civil Rights were important to people on the Left. I’ve had a bellyful of progressives who denounce “identity politics” and think all focus should be on economics and the class struggle. It’s one reason that the Sanders campaign did not connect with minority voters.

Speaking of “identity politics,” Kaine was given an A by Planned Parenthood. There’s some confusion about Kaine’s position on reproductive rights as he’s evolved over the years. Like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Jimmy Carter, Kaine is *personally* opposed to abortion, but supports a woman’s right to choose. I’d say that puts Senator Kaine in good company.

Tim Kaine’s human qualities are what make him so perfect as a number-two to Hillary Clinton. Kaine is a warm, friendly, and gregarious man who was also willing to fight the NRA as Governor and stand-up to President Obama on the War Powers Act. Kaine was one of a group of Senators who insisted that POTUS comply with the terms of the War Powers Act if there was military action in Syria. Sounds progressive as well as dovish to me.

I am confident that Tim Kaine will wear well with the American people. Remember: it’s the nominee’s views that matter in the end. Kaine does not have as great a distance to travel as, say, Poppy Bush who renounced most of his previous positions. The most humorous switch was on reproductive rights. Bush the elder was so pro-Planned Parenthood that his nickname as a Congressman from Houston was “rubbers.”

One more thing: Tim Kaine is qualified to be President.

That concludes this edition of News on the March.

Earl Long On The DNC-Wikileaks Email Flap

One of the biggest stories of the weekend before the convention was the giant document dump taken by Wikileaks on the Democratic party. It was timed to inflict maximum damage and to help the Republicans in the general election. Why? It is widely suspected that the Russians are behind the leak, and President Putin loves him some Donald Trump and Paul Manafort. The role of the so-called lefties at Wikileaks is the most sinister aspect of the whole flap.

The contents of the emails are what you would expect from a group being sued by another group, the Sanders campaign. Nobody likes being sued and nobody likes Jeff (The Comic Book Guy) Weaver in particular. I’ve long favored doing a reverse Salome-John the Baptist thing and giving the Sanders people Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on  a platter in the interest of party unity. People have forgotten how unpopular she was with other Democrats long before her run-ins with Team Sanders.  I have not. If she’s willing, I hope they beg Donna Brazile to stay on after the election. That might, however, be a tough Brazile nut to crack…

The Bernie or Busters are not placated by this heady plate, but they’ll never be satisfied by anything short of getting everything they want, when they want it. I’m beginning to think that they’re mostly people whose parents never said no to them. If they believe the email dump is evidence of nefarious “plotting” and “rigging” they’re the sort of people who think that the Firefly administration in Duck Soup was competent:

Now that I think of it, DWS is the Margaret Dumont of the current political scene: humorless and clueless.

Repeat after me: the DNC does not “run”  let alone “rig” the primary or caucus processes. Those are run by the state guvmints and state parties.  The Dudebro Dead Enders should take it up with them; or better still award themselves a primary participation trophy, and join hands with Cornel West and Jill Stein and walk into the sunset of third party loserdom. I’ve had a bellyful of ideological purity this election cycle and if Trump’s acceptance diatribe didn’t scare them straight, they should STFU and vote Green or Libertarian as I expect brogressives like Ha Ha Goodman to do. I’m glad their candidate isn’t listening to them. I’ve been feeling sorry for Senator Sanders the last few days at having to deal with his overgrown toddler supporters. He should put them to bed without supper and not allow Comic Book Guy to read old issues of the Fantastic Four to them. I figure Weaver likes them since they’re all dicks.

Speaking of shutting the fuck up, you’re probably wonder how Earl K Long fits into this 21st Century scenario. Here’s how: it’s what I call the STFU quote. It’s the advice Uncle Earl would have surely given the DNC:

Uncle Earl STFU Quote

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati -GOP convention crap-up.

Mercy.  Talk about some punch in a turdbowl?

I’ll put it this way – I got a phone call from the Quicken Loans Arena asking if I could lease them some of our ISO room clean-up gear for afterwards.

In Freeperville?  They’re getting right to the important stuff!

It’s – Plagarism for thee, but not for me!

Melania Trump speech appears to plagiarize Michelle Obama
The Hill ^ | /19/16 | Lisa Hagen

Posted on ‎7‎/‎18‎/‎2016‎ ‎11‎:‎39‎:‎43‎ ‎PM by Typical_Whitey

Melania Trump’s highly anticipated speech at the Republican National Convention Monday night appears to have nearly copied a paragraph from Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.


Media is attacking Melania Trump.
1 posted on 7‎/‎18‎/‎2016‎ ‎11‎:‎39‎:‎43‎ ‎PM by Typical_Whitey
And by “attacking”, he means “reporting the news”.
And love your handle, BTW.

To: Typical_Whitey


Give me a ******* break!!! Idiots.

5 posted on 7‎/‎18‎/‎2016‎ ‎11‎:‎41‎:‎44‎ ‎PM by FlingWingFlyer (Let’s Make Our Founding Documents Great Again!)

I’m sorry, sir – you’re stuck here for the duration of the Freepathon.  Which never ends.
To: Typical_Whitey
I’ll bet anyone a beer that this paragraph has appeared in spouses convention remarks since the turn of the century.
6 posted on 7‎/‎18‎/‎2016‎ ‎11‎:‎41‎:‎45‎ ‎PM by JohnBrowdie
So it’s exactly like every other spouses’ convention speech?
To: arl295

Mooch said she was never proud of USA

Melania said the USA is the greatest

Doesn’t sound like the same speech at all.

8 posted on 7‎/‎18‎/‎2016‎ ‎11‎:‎42‎:‎31‎ ‎PM by Zenjitsuman (Y)

So it’s NOT exactly like every other spouses’ convention speech?


To: Coronal

It’s plagiarism. Yeah Obama and Biden did it too but this is politically devastating given the timing and the setting.

18 posted on 7‎/‎18‎/‎2016‎ ‎11‎:‎46‎:‎26‎ ‎PM by over3Owithabrain

Of course, the only good defense is a good offense :

‘JUST WORDS’: OBAMA ’08 RIPS LINES FROM DEVAL PATRICK… TWICE… youtube.com ^ | Feb 19, 2008 Posted on 7‎/‎19‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎14‎:‎19‎ ‎AM by Helicondelta

Deval Patrick’s speech in Worcester, MA on 6/3/06.

Barack Obama’s speech in South Carolina on 11/2/07.

1 posted on 7‎/‎19‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎14‎:‎19‎ ‎AM by Helicondelta
More after the unbelievably original break…

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Lock Her Up, or Okay, We’re Done Screwing Around Now

We’re done, guys;

I’m with her, I’m there for her, I’m ready to bake her cupcakes and have her political babies and shred her fuckin’ e-mails, because we have pro-choice, pro-gun-control, pro-goddamn American candidates at the top of the ticket and if what it takes is me quitting my job and following her and Tim Kaine around in a panel van for the next four months then that is what I will do.

Let’s be clear, though: If all we had was two MAMMALS at the top of the Democratic ticket that would be enough to counter the four-day hatefest that was the Trump convention. Adrastos covered that admirably and Doc stuck a stake in its heart so it would not rise again. I watched a lot of it while on chat with some folks and on Twitter, and it was straight-up white supremacy, the 18 black delegates in the room notwithstanding, and I heard every single thing they meant.

Law and order? That’s the dogs and the fire hoses, beating men and women for thinking they are people, demanding they be respected. That’s turning the law from shelter to bludgeon, and cheering it is cheering hate.

Lock her up? That’s the Occoquan workhouse, and being prevented by law from owning property, or being fired from your job for being married or not being married, or having your children taken away because you talked back to your husband, and cheering that is cheering hate.

A photo with only white kids in it. How many of those kids will be glad in later life that that photo exists?

A convention hall that FOUR YEARS AGO called a multi-ethnic CNN crew “animals” and probably this year said much, much worse to people who get up every day and try to show the world what it is, a hard enough job when the earth isn’t actively caving in.

This isn’t “the lesser of two evils” but you know what, Rudy Giuliani, it also isn’t “the last election ever” or whatever apocalyptic shit you were yelling on Night One. It’s just a choice, between a monster who screams at you by torchlight that you are the master race, and an experienced, messed-up, human politician who is telling America to have courage and have faith and have hope. It’s a stark choice. It’s a real one.

So I’m sorry if you’re a Bernie person and you’re mad (I voted for your dude in the primary, guys) and I’m sorry if Hillary is not “exciting” and Tim Kaine is not “exciting” and neither of them is spending enough time tickling your prostate just right. You’ve got to get up and do something you don’t want to do, and that’s hard.

You know what’s probably harder?

Being a non-white, non-straight, non-male person and hearing a crowd of thousands cheering for your subjugation and your imprisonment and maybe even your death. Being poor, and working your ass off every single day, and hearing rich guys joke about how you want “free stuff.”

It starts now, today. So enough with the stupid “Joker vs Two-Face” memes and enough with the “Killary” crap. Enough with the “lesser of two evils.” There weren’t two evils up on that stage. I only heard one.


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


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.”


“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.


“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.


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:


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.



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


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)


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


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 


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.


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:


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


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


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:



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?


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.


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