Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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Barbara Bush

I’ve always had a sneaking fondness for Barbara Bush. I come from a family full of tough outspoken battleaxe type old ladies. She always reminded me of one of my aunts who had a barbed tongue much like Bar.

Unlike many New Orleanians, I’ve even forgiven Mrs. Bush for this insensitive post-Katrina remark:

“What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this … this is working very well for them.”

At the time, I was furious but since then I’ve spent a lot of time with old people and they tend not to have a filter. Bush was 80 when she made those awful remarks so I’m inclined to cut her some slack. Some older women of my acquaintance have said worse and many of them are hard core liberals. And if we’re judging her on politics, she voted for her fellow former First Lady at the last election.

In other Barbara Bush news, there was a silly controversy among the humor-impaired and literal minded on twitter about this remark from a story about her final days:

Even in the final days of her life, Barbara Bush retained the sharp tongue that belied her grandmotherly image. When her eldest son, former President George W. Bush, visited about 10 days before her death, the two playfully needled each other in the way they always did.

At one point, Mrs. Bush turned to her doctor. “You want to know why George W. is the way he is?” she asked.

The doctor looked a little surprised. “Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him,” she said.

 It’s called sarcasm, folks. There were actually twitter lefties whose hearts were bleeding for George W Bush because his mama was mean. It’s a joke: it’s well-known that, for good or ill, W was her favorite child and he told the joke on himself to boot.

I realize that these are polarized times but that doesn’t mean we have to be ugly about everyone we disagree with. It’s why I call Trump the Insult Comedian because that’s what he does. In a time when the president* is a criminal, going after Barbara Bush strikes me as petty and small-minded. This is one case that calls for the high road.

While I’m not weeping copious tears, I’m not inclined to dance on Barbara Bush’s grave either. The last word goes to Squeeze with a song that reflected her conversational style:

 

Tenure: Thanks for fucking it up for everybody else

I’ve written before here about the fundamental misunderstanding most people have about tenure, including why it matters, how it works and what it’s supposed to provide. The simplest explanation is that tenure guarantees educators and scholars at institutions of higher education the right to fearlessly challenge convention within a field, seek scholarship in areas that might not jibe with social norms and conduct research in ways their expertise dictates is necessary and valuable.

It’s not meant to protect you when you act like a dick.

Unfortunately, the public seems to think that tenure does this, which is why they’re constantly looking for ways to eliminate it. The term “life time employment” is bandied about whenever tenure is discussed, as is the idea of ivory towers, elitism and generally haughty assholes.

And, again, when people like Randa Jarrar and John McAdams are in the news, it’s easy to see why the public thinks this way.

Jarrar, a creative-writing professor at Fresno State, took to Twitter in the wake of Barbara Bush’s death to call her “racist” and accuse her of having raised “a war criminal.” (I’m assuming she meant Millie, but I could be wrong.)

barbara

She then followed up with this gem:

In another tweet, the professor wrote: “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.”

Of course, everything is subtle and nuanced on Twitter, so she completely solved the problem of a grieving nation in less than 280 characters…

Or, a large group of angry Twitter users started spreading this dung pile like Nutella all over the place, allowing CAPS LOCK NATION to come flailing at this educator.

And of course, because Twitter is a place of reason, logic and decency, Jarrar said she understood their point, she did not wish to continue the argument and she quietly let the issue die…

OR, she decided to fuck with each and every one of them over and over again, including posting what was supposedly her private phone number, but actually turned out to be a suicide prevention hotline in Arizona. This led to CAPS LOCK NATION flooding the center with threatening calls and preventing actual work from getting done, so that was helpful…

Still, of all the stupid shit that came out of this, the one that really had me considering a CAPS LOCK NATION MEMBERSHIP CARD was her mention that she had tenure and then this:

“I will never be fired.”

Fresno State says it’s “looking into the matter” which means that six people are now in a room going, “So… that happened…” Still, it’s better than what Marquette University is dealing with this week, thanks to an angry tenured professor on the other end of the political spectrum.

John McAdams is the poli sci prof and “everybody’s asshole grandpa in every bad comedy film” who used his blog as a cudgel against colleagues and foes alike. The university had a stack of paper on this guy dating back to the Clinton administration, all of which basically demonstrating he’s the exact reason people think tenure is a “Designated Asshole Pass.”

The U apparently found the straw that broke the camel’s back in McAdams’ post about a grad student teaching a class, in which a conservative student voiced an opinion the instructor found to be homophobic. McAdams posted about her by name and apparently encouraged people to “let your voice be heard,” which is a great code phrase for “break out the caps lock and call her a whore.” He apparently also was hostile to her, to the point where she dropped out of her program and finished elsewhere.

MU suspended McAdams and he’s now at the state’s Supreme Court, suing to get his job back. His argument is that tenure protects him and that his “free speech” on the blog should not allow for retaliation. (Point of order: Marquette is a private school, so this gets even weirder, as the court is clearly figuring out…)

So, to recap, two people who have diametrically opposing belief systems and who teach in two fields that just scream to John Q. Public “If my kid majors in this, he’s never getting a fucking job,” are espousing their rights to be assholes. They also are arguing their dickish behavior is protected by tenure so, “neener, neener, neeeeennnerrr…”

And academics wonder why people hate us…

Tenure is supposed to be a shield against the encroachment of external forces as we use our expertise to find out greater truths and research complex problems that may go against the societal grain. Running your mouth on social media and then hiding behind your “big friend” isn’t what anyone had in mind for this thing. Even more, all it does is really fuck over the rest of us who are actually doing those things and understand there is a concept called objective reality, something you bypassed long ago.

We’re like the people who are in a fraternity who have good GPAs, do good philanthropy work and then have to explain, “No, we’re not those idiots from Syracuse.” No matter what we say, people are still giving us the stink eye.

So, on behalf of the actual working scholars, academics and people who teach without managing to say shit like “y’know what’s wrong with the Coloreds these days,” I’d like to thank professors Jarrar and McAdams and others who think tenure is a lifetime “get out of fuckups free card,” thank you for fucking this up for the rest of us.

 

Friday Guest Catblogging: The Kitten & The Peacock

My pal Lisa found a kitten and raised her from a puppy. She’d never had a cat before but took Rocky everywhere the first few months of her life. I met her at the Spank function.

Rocky is now 6 months old and recently had a close encounter with Mr. P, the neighborhood peacock. As you can see it went well.

The Americans Thread: Nothing Is Everything

Nothing is going right for our characters in Mr. and Mrs. Teacup. We see everything from failed missions to projectile vomiting to looming financial failure. It’s not a pretty sight. The only good news is that arms control guy Glenn Haskard’s underdog Twins will win the 1987 World Series.

The Americans is a unique show in several ways. First, as Soviet spies, Philip and Elizabeth are the ultimate anti-heroes. They make Walter White and Tony Soprano look like small fry. Second, the Soviets lose the Cold War while winning the espionage battle, so the Jennings’ efforts are ultimately for naught. This built-in futility is one reason so many of us find the show so perversely fascinating.

Nothing Is Everything is the parenthetical part of the title of a Pete Townshend song: (Nothing Is Everything ) Let’s See Action. It’s an ode to Pete’s guru, Meher Baba, but it somehow captures the spirit of this episode for me. I’m weird that way. Let’s play it before the spoiler break:

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What Else Can You Call It?

freak_show_el_caudillo

Sometimes I think it gets lost in the day-to-day, but consider just how bug-fuck nuts it’s gotten. On a given day, news about the president includes

Playboy and/or adult entertainers, Twitter, Hannity, Cohen, North Korea, Mike Pompeo, Comey, the Mueller investigation…(aside: the attack on Syria‘s already been bumped from the headlines)…and any other number of WTF moments that would, for any other administration, suck the oxygen out of the news cycle if not generate immediate demands for resignation…or prosecution…

Total freak show.

Additionally…I heard this last night on the Chris Hayes show, and I think saw/read this elsewhere…regarding the Mueller investigation…no one is arguing, for lack of a better term, actual innocence. Trump himself sticks to no collusion, while everyone else speculates on whether or not various people will turn.

POTUS as syndicate. Oh, and maybe (probably) with a pee tape.

Goddamn.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: If He Hollers Let Him Go

The African-American writer Chester Himes is best known for his noirish crime fiction and books set in Harlem. If He Hollers Let Him Go was his first novel. It’s a racially charged story set in post-World War II Los Angeles.

I read it after reading an interview with Walter Mosley wherein he recommended the book. I kept waiting for Easy Rawlins to show up. He did not but it’s a good book even without Easy and Mouse.

If He Hollers Let Him Go was made into a movie in 1968.

Here’s the trailer:

The whole damn movie is available on the YouTube for now.

You Beto Your Life

It’s time to revisit the Texas senate race. Beto O’Rourke remains the underdog but I’m glad people are taking a flyer on his candidacy. If there was ever a year to try to win a statewide race in Texas, 2018 is the year. Besides, what would be sweeter than bloodying Tailgunner Ted’s nose even if he survives? It’s win-win.

I have a suggestion for the Beto Bunch. It’s in the nature of a stunt. Those of us who are old enough to have voted in 1992 should recall Chicken George. He was the dude in the chicken suit who followed Poppy Bush around. The chicken came out of the coop when Poppy initially refused to debate. It was a Democratic stunt to bug Bush and benefit the Clinton campaign. It worked.

I think the gag could be updated but with a retro twist. Not only a retro twist but another pun on the Congressman’s nickname. Puns are important, y’all.

Let me clarify something: I may be old but I’m not old enough to have seen You Bet Your Life when it first aired. I saw the re-runs. Ya got that? I don’t want to have to make like the late R Lee Ermey and go Full Metal Jacket on your asses.

Back to Grouco Marx. Anyone who has ever seen his venerable quiz show knows that there was a secret word, when a contestant said it, a duck puppet dropped down and the contestant won some cold, hard cash. The duck puppet/muppet/marionette, whatever it was, looked like Groucho and evoked Duck Soup as opposed to Daffy Duck or Duck Dunn.

I suspect you’re wondering where the 2018 tie-in is. Here it is: the Beto Bunch should station a dude in a duck suit at every Cruz event. He could carry a pole with a You Bet Your Life style duck marionette that looks, not like Groucho, but like Rafael Edward Cruz. Every time Ted lies or mentions the name Donald Trump, the Duck Dude can quack and wave the marionette.

As a reminder of Cruzian spinelessness, there could also be a sidekick waving a placard with these National Enquirer front pages:

On second thought, the placard is probably a bad idea. Some of Cruz’s supporters may be packing heat and if it’s duck season, the Duck Dude and sidekick could be in deep doo doo like Daffy.

Duck Elmer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This proposed stunt is a bit complicated and I realize not everyone will get the joke, but I like to be helpful. Maybe the Duck Dude could duck and cover when Cruz advocates bombing a country. The possibilities are endless as well as endlessly silly.

The last word goes to the Kinks:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Rough Mix

Rough Mix is a 1977 collaboration between Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane of the Faces. Pete was originally supposed to produce a solo Ronnie record but it ended being a joint project. There were guest stars aplenty including Eric Clapton and Charlie Watts.

The album cover was designed by Peter Joyce and features all sorts of British pop culture images from cricket to cars to show biz. It’s busy but still amazing.

It’s gatefold time.

The back cover is a trading card bonanza.

Finally, the album itself. The first track My Baby Gives It Away rocks to a Charlie Watts beat.

Today We’re Gonna Find Out

Today is the day, guys:

Today’s the day Fox News has to prove itself to Chuck Todd. Today. Not any point in the past 30 years. Not during the Clinton murder-stravaganza, not during the “does Barack Obama do terrorist fist jabs” era, not at any time during the “are all liberals traitors who want to suck bin Laden off” 2000s, not during the Swift Boat Veterans for Bullshit, not when Sarah Palin brought sexy back, not at any of those points.

(Not on, say, a random Tuesday, either, when Jesse Watters was being racist or Bill O’Reilly was making lists of things that bugged him or Neil Cavuto was doing whatever that bloated sack of haggis leavings did.)

Now.

Now Chuck Todd needs proof that they’re a legitimate news organization. This derpy bastard.

This is a professional newspersonage, who gets paid SO MUCH GODDAMN MONEY to pretend to an innocence about news and politics that would shame an ingenue.

You went to parties with these people. You shook hands and slapped backs and made nice and you acted like these were your colleagues and in some cases your buds. You didn’t want to say they were bad because that would make you bad, and they are, and you are, and they’ve always been and so have you and no amount of cover you gave them changed things for either of you.

NOW you come out and say this is the test? Now this is the moment?

The goddamn house has burned down, arson investigators are sifting through the ashes, the insurance company’s already sued somebody, and Chuck Todd is swanning around fanning his face, asking does anybody else smell smoke.

For chrissakes, the fire department’s been and gone, Chuck. Home is a scorched and reeking hole in the ground. You watched it happen. Now you think you see a spark?

A.

There Are So Many Stories We Don’t Know

It’s not too late to tell them: 

In her will, Lewis identified herself as a “Spinster and Sculptor.” She asked for a dark walnut coffin, and that a notice of her death be printed in the Tablet, a British Roman Catholic publication. The resulting announcement — a curt sentence fragment — made no mention of her myriad accomplishments, and did not reach those who sought her across the sea. Until, over a century later, it found Richardson.

Richardson sees her research as part and parcel with the efforts of other black women scholars: after all, she noted, Alice Walker found Zora Neale Hurston’s grave, “out in the long grass.” “So I’ve become a cemetery sleuth,” she told me.

Until recently, the grave was unmarked: a slab of stone flush with the earth, overgrown with moss, one among many in the stone forest of St. Mary’s. Last year, however, the town where Lewis was born chose to reclaim its native daughter.

A.

Client Number 3

Everything involving Michael Cohen has a zany aspect:

In a letter Sunday night, Cohen’s attorneys claimed that Cohen had been engaged in “traditional legal tasks” with at least three clients in 2017 through 2018. The letter named President Donald Trump, who has already sought to get involved in the current dispute over the seized documents, and Elliot Broidy, a GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a hush payment for a Playboy model he impregnated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cohen resisted naming the third client, citing his client’s preference that his identity not be made public.

And Client Number 3 is Sean Hannity.

I wonder if hush money was involved? Hannity has always had a devoted family man facade so it if it is, this is getting juicier by the day. From now on, I shall call Hannity Client Number 3. I’d like to thank Michael Cohen for helping me out. That’s much funnier than Fox News Meathead even if the latter is true.

Pass the popcorn and cue the Hannity GIF:

Someone Sean GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Comeypalooza 2018

Comeypalooza 2018 rolled on with his interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopoulos, last night. My evil side wished they’d done it standing up since Comey is 6’8″ and George is 5’7′. Of course, such interviews are filmed with the participants seated but I can dream. This day after kinda sorta instant analysis is *not* a dream.

Watching Comey reminded me of how complex life is. I was every bit as mad at Comey as most Clinton supporters in October 2016. I excoriated him in a post entitled Easy Comey Easy Go. I even unfavorably compared his FBI to one of America’s most distinguished prosecutors, Robert Jackson. I still think he fucked up with his ham-fisted intervention in the election BUT unlike many powerful people he’s willing to admit the possibility that he made a mistake. Comey is not the “untruthful slimeball” of Trumpian tweets but a flawed human being capable of doing fine things but also capable of screwing up. Bigly.

Even if he doesn’t explicitly say that he’s trying to make up for that epic mistake in 2016, it’s obvious that he regrets any role he played in electing Donald Trump. Some of the language he used in the interview with my diminutive countryman was eye-popping. This is the money quote on Trump’s fitness to be Oval One:

A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.

There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.

On balance, Comey’s role in the rolling dialogue as to whether Trump is fit to be president* is a useful one. He can be on the annoying side when he’s tending the Comey Myth but his insights into Trump’s personality are fascinating. These two men were destined to clash. They’re not just from different worlds but from different solar systems.

Watching Comey I kept thinking this guy must have been a great trial lawyer. He’s a stellar wordsmith and story-teller. Plus juries love a lawyer with a sense of humor, especially a prosecutor. Nobody expects a prosecutor to be funny. The same qualities will make him an outstanding witness for the prosecution.

The George & Jim show only ran for an hour Sunday night but the conversation went on for 5 hours. The full transcript is fascinating reading and can be found HERE.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – the completion backward principle

If you’re looking for this Monday’s post, it was last Friday.

In the future, all Monday posts will be posted on Fridays, unless the Friday post is posted on the following Monday, except, of course, on leap years.

Glad we cleared THAT up.

 

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Life Imitates The Sopranos: Michael Cohen Edition

I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last few years chastising people for comparing the Trump crime family to The Godfather. The correct comparison is The Sopranos who had a portly hot head as boss as opposed to the dignified Vito and Michael Corleone. I’m glad to see that whoever made this video Josh Marshall posted gets it.

The backdrop may be swankier than the Pork Store in Newark but the feel is the same. I wonder if Cohen ever tans himself Paulie Walnuts style?

Repeat after me: Michael Cohen is a fixer. Fixers don’t get attorney-client privilege. Just having a law degree doesn’t confer privilege on a conversation. If that were the case, my conversations with Della Street and Paul Drake would be privileged. Then the world would learn that they’re both butt-heads. Uh oh, I just pierced the human-cat privilege…

Since we have new Michael Cohen pictures it’s time for a side-by-side picture with a different Sopranos character. It could be called when Paulie met Michael:

Maybe Cohen can help Paulie find the Russian guy they lost in the Pine Barrens. Nah, that would take a modicum of competence.

Watching the video of Cohen walking the streets of New York gave me an earworm, which could be the alternate soundtrack to the Fixer stroll. That’s why the Bee Gees have the last word:

 

Remembering the War

It’s been a particularly infuriating week, what with pardoning Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and resurrecting the entirety of the monsters’ ball that was the Bush administration to comment on it. We’ve forgotten, people my age say to people younger, what the beginning of the war was. We joke about the memory hole like it’s something new, like Henry Kissinger isn’t our National Foreign Policy Grandpa, like any mention of the antiwar movement doesn’t come with a dozen qualifications.

There’s a reason we don’t remember the war.

We can’t remember it.

It isn’t over.

And it isn’t over because to this day, the only person to face any kind of real consequences for the war (now that Scooter Libby’s been pardoned) was Lynndie England.

Remember Lynndie? Here she is.

Here she is: 

In an attempt to explain her post-traumatic stress disorder, England recounted, “Somebody dropped something off the [store] shelf and I freaked out. It was two aisles down. They dropped something on the floor and made a big bang and I was like, ‘Ah!’ “

On the back of this woman, who seems not very nice but also not very bright, we’ve put the only blame we’ve been able, as a country, to mete out for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, for the destabilization of an entire region of the world, for the betrayal of trust that now spans a generation.

Do you find that photo, up there, sickening? I do. She had no humanity, in that moment and not much since, and that’s what war does. That’s all it does. That’s what torture does, to the torturers.

The people in charge knew that, had every way to know that, had access to the whole of American history and Shakespeare besides, and they still put people like her in a fucking torture prison and said go for it. She went for it, and that’s on her. But they built that prison, and here they are, writing op-eds for Fox News and dancing with talk show hosts and making bank on #NeverTrump, like their lying murdering torturing spying bombing had value because they weren’t eating KFC with a fork.

In a just world, the hierarchy of blame would go something like this: Everyone in the White House from 2000-2008, who either directly promoted this or didn’t throw their bodies on the wheels to stop it. Then every chickenass Democrat up to and including Barack Obama who said we would look forward, not back, and not only didn’t Nuremberg Trial this nonsense but didn’t even bother to censure anyone, such that there’s no historical record and these vampires can claw their way out of the dirt again, like Judith Miller up there who should be breaking rocks in a yard.

THEN everyone who treated it like a video game, and gibbered about it on TV, like Chris Matthews and Brian Williams and Katie Couric. Then our Very Serious Op Ed pundits and Warbloggers, many of whom are now In The Resistance because again, Trump is RUDE about his warmongering and we can’t have that.

Then after we’re done with everybody who knew better but looked at the spreadsheet and said fuck it, after we’re done with power and done with money and done with might, we can get to Lynndie England.

Because she did what she did.

Which is apparently all we can remember.

A.

Endgame

I’d like to believe this is true: 

Of course Trump is raging and furious and terrified. Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

Ryan’s trying to get out before he gets blamed for anything (too late, dipshit) and McConnell’s pretending like he don’t even KNOW these people at this party he is at with his name on the door, and everybody in the Resistance — those who aren’t total garbage, anyway, yeah I’m looking at you Frum — is so tired we can’t remember what protest we were even at last week.

So I’d like to believe it’s almost over but I don’t. Our systems were designed to do things slowly. Election by election, seat by seat, fight by fight. I’d like to believe we’ll get out of this before November but I don’t see any other way out.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: They Came From Beyond Space

A few weeks back I wrote a pulp fiction post about The Gods Hate Kansas and the 1967 movie based on it. Without further adieu, I give you They Came From Beyond Space:

We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Shoot Out The Lights

Deux Fois du Noir by Yves Tanguy

We resume our regularly scheduled programming after my Wag The Dog Incoherently post. Somebody’s gotta be normal in these abnormal times.

It’s been an interesting week in New Orleans. A 4,200 gallon oil spill isn’t huge by oil industry standards but it’s stinky enough that residents are raising a stink about it. A good thing: minor oil spills are way of life on the Big Muddy, which could be re-nicknamed the Big Oily or Big Greasy. Either way it’s not good. It’s actually diesel fuel. Vin Diesel was unavailable for comment…

The big local story this week was the sale of Gambit Weekly to the Advocate. Because of savvy management by owners Margot and Clancy DuBos, Gambit is one of the few alt-weeklies that has thrived in the internet era. The deal includes retention of Gambit’s crack editorial team including my friend Kevin Allman as editor. (In the interests of full disclosure, Clancy is also a friend.) Kevin helped bring the publication into online era, which made it an attractive proposition to the Advocate. One reason for the staff retention is that Advocate publisher Dan Shea was purged by the Picayune and has some empathy for other journalists. Imagine that. Besides, the Gambit staff is as talented as all get out. As far as I’m concerned, this is good news as it will allow Gambit to survive in a tough environment for alt-weeklies. Here’s hoping that the Advocate people will keep their word about letting Gambit be Gambit. So far, the signs are good.

This week’s theme song is the title track of one of the greatest break-up albums of all-time. It’s eerie to hear Linda Thompson sing sad songs written by her soon-to-be ex-husband. Shoot Out The Lights has developed into one of the signature songs of Richard Thompson’s live set. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a swell cover by Los Lobos.

Now we’ve shot out the lights, let’s take a shot at jumping to the break.

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Wag The Dog Incoherently

11 days ago Donald Trump said he wanted to be out of Syria within a matter of months. Tonight American, British, and French forces bombed Syria. I guess that earlier statement is, to quote Nixon flack Ron Ziegler, inoperative.

All week long the fog of scandal has enveloped the White House. The Michael Cohen investigation in New York may prove to be more devastating to Trump than anything Team Mueller can come up with. And now the president* is bombing Syria after a chemical weapons attack that his inability to keep his mouth shut may have caused.

It’s bad enough that we’ve entered the wag the dog phase of the Trump regime, it’s even worse that it’s being done in an ad hoc, incoherent, and chaotic manner. Of course, that’s how they do everything. An alternate title for this post could have been Winging It With The Kaiser of Chaos.

With John Bolton and his mustache on board at the NSC, we can expect more late night bombing raids. Perhaps they’ll even come up with a coherent strategy next time. Who am I kidding?

There are some in the MSM who believe that bellicose rhetoric aimed at the Russians means that Putin doesn’t own Trump. Wrong. The gap between the Syrian attack, Trump’s bloodthirsty tweets, and the bombing raid gave the Russians plenty of time to move their military assets and personnel around to minimize their losses. The same thing happened with the delay in imposing sanctions: Putin and his cronies had time to hide their money. It’s all for show. It’s what happens when a scandal plagued administration has its wag the dog moment.

Just think, earlier today everyone was speculating about Rod Rosenstein getting shitcanned. Holy Instant Nostalgia, Batman. Instead I’m writing an instant analysis of Trump wagging the dog. As Jim Comey would surely say at this moment,LORDY.

I only hope this post is more coherent than president* Trump’s national security policies.  Repeat after me: LORDY.