Monthly Archives: August 2015

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – conservative slap-fight edition

OK guys – back in the saddle again.

I did expect that the crowded Republican field would result in a lot of desperate mud-slinging, but I had no idea the shouts for attention would get so bad. Let’s start of with a bit of Anne-archy from The House Of Dead Breitbart, shall we?

Meltdown Day 2: Rick Wilson Asks Ann Coulter If Donald Trump ‘Pays More for Anal’ ^ | 18 Aug 2015 | John Nolte

Posted on ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎45‎:‎51‎ ‎PM by Rockitz

Tuesday afternoon, Rick Wilson, a top Republican consultant who sometimes appears on CNN as an analyst, sent a tweet to conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter asking if Donald Trump pays her extra for anal sex. “Does Trump pay you more for anal?” Wilson tweeted.

Apparently Wilson was responding to Coulter tweeting out a Breitbart News article from Monday detailing his bizarre decision to politicize a rape threat Wilson claims was made against his daughter.


Friday on CNN, Wilson attacked 25% of the Republican base as “low information voters.” Just two days later he publicly politicized the rape threat against his daughter. Twenty-four hours after that he’s publicly accusing Coulter of being a prostitute.


Jeb sure has a great mouthpiece in Rick Wilson. What a loser. How does this guy ever work again after this?
1 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎45‎:‎51‎ ‎PM by Rockitz
Now, bear in mind – the Freeperati consider Anne Coulter a RINO turncoat and a self-promoting Maher-dater.  Just to put these reactions into perspective…
To: Rockitz

That’s really shocking. I doubted his rape threat, now I’m convinced he’s lying. He has a filthy mind.

4 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎48‎:‎07‎ ‎PM by miss marmelstein (Richard the Third: I’d like to drive away not only the Turks (moslims) but all my foes.”)

Well, at least he’s not a “moslim”.
To: Sarah Barracuda

Rick Wilson. Animate fecal matter. Hope Ann laughs it off and considers the source.

7 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎49‎:‎20‎ ‎PM by BigEdLB (They need to target the ‘Ministry of Virtue’ which has nothing to do with virtue.)

Well, well, well.
I see that sucking up to The Darnold paid some dividends, after all. Two months ago, every Coulter post looked like this:
To: Beave Meister

A woman that promoted Flip Flopping like John Kerry and Mitt Romney, Arch Liberal, really has no business talking about leftists destroying America unless as an insider to the process.

2 posted on 5‎/‎25‎/‎2015‎ ‎9‎:‎13‎:‎59‎ ‎PM by Norm Lenhart

To: Beave Meister

What RINO will she be endorsing this time for POTUS so we will have another Rat POTUS?

…and so on.

Now, all her sins have been forgiven, as she has kissed the hem of The Darnold’s robe.

To: Rockitz

Just another reason why I’m glad I’m no longer a Republican.

9 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎2‎:‎50‎:‎25‎ ‎PM by jmaroneps37 (Conservatism is truth. Liberalism is lies.)

May your tribe increase.
To: Jan_Sobieski

I see it too. Erick Erickson’s B***H move was what opened my eyes. I always got that skeez vibe off the guy, then he pulls that stunt. It’s very homo to need attention that much.

32 posted on ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎3‎:‎04‎:‎14‎ ‎PM by The Toll

(insert obligatory Freud pic here)
To: Responsibility2nd

Just remember the “Breitbart” websites are NOT LIKE ANYTHING Andrew Breitbart would be running. Once Andrew passed, they do no high quality investigative reporting like Andrew did.

93 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎4‎:‎06‎:‎56‎ ‎PM by seekthetruth (I still want a Commander In Chief who honors and supports our Military!)

To: Rockitz

Sounds like Wilson wants to be anally violated. Perhaps, even, by going to one of those Washington, D.C. S&M madams and having her wear one of those contraptions to do him. Heck, Wilson secretly wishes (or does) to drop trou in a bath house and bend over to pick up the soap. His foul “tweets” are subconscious declarations of his own perversity.

97 posted on 8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎4‎:‎13‎:‎43‎ ‎PM by Thumper1960 (A modern so-called “Conservative” is a shadow of a wisp of a vertebrate human being.)

Followed immediately by:
To: Rockitz

Liberals always think about sex. Everything is related to sex. They only have primal impulses and never any high cognitive thoughts. This is an eGOP representative who no doubt claims Trump is “hurting the brand” while he utterly destroys it.

98 posted on ‎8‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎4‎:‎16‎:‎40‎ ‎PM by CodeToad (If it weren’t for physics and law enforcement I’d be unstoppable!)

Hard to top that sequence of posts, but I’ll try – after the anal violation….

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Black Wealth Matters

I grew up in a fairly segregated town, not much different from the way a lot of white kids grow up, and recently I asked my mother if she had grown up knowing any black doctors, or lawyers, or teachers. Did my father ever have an African-American boss or even a peer?


She couldn’t think of any. Me neither. I had one black teacher, for algebra, in high school, and one Hispanic teacher. Those were my only experiences of authority of color until I got to college (and even then, those were thin on the ground).

We knew black people, of course, neighbors and other parents at school, but no one who would challenge the idea of a powerful voice always being a white voice. It’s very different from how Kick will grow up; two of my bosses are black and many of her teachers likely will be as well, and there are more examples of leaders in all fields who are of different backgrounds in a larger city (even a segregated one). There is much, much more of a black middle and upper class here and now.

The idea of a diversity of wealth and class as well as race didn’t occur to my sheltered self until much later in my life, after I’d been a lot more places and seen a lot more things. And media treatment of “the black perspective” as one monolithic viewpoint didn’t help.

So I’m glad to see somebody, even if it’s Politico, asking how people of color in power view the ongoing police violence against unarmed black men:

By contrast, the Black Lives Matter movement is “coming from black folks at the margins,” one of its co-founders, Patrisse Cullors, told a crowd of several hundred gathered at the elegant Harbor View Hotel, which looks out on Edgartown’s quaint lighthouse.

“We’re a generation that wore baggy pants and sagged them,” said Cullors, 31, visiting the Vineyard for the first time.

For some, the inadequacy of the respectability approach has become clear in recent years.

“We as black people were kind of lulled,” said Bithiah Carter, president of New England Blacks in Philanthropy, which seeks to increase the leverage of black donors. “We were lulled into thinking, I moved to the suburbs, I put my kids in good schools, I climbed my corporate ladder, I’m now making $200,000 a year. I’m a good Negro.”

But after Trayvon Martin was killed, it became clear that even well-to-do black children could face discrimination – or worse — because of the color of their skin. “You just found out you really didn’t matter,” said Carter, in her late 40s, speaking at a forum organized by Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree in Oak Bluffs.

Others dismissed the idea that this was some sort of new discovery, even for the affluent.

“I don’t think any of us feel we are at a place where we think, ‘Oh, that wouldn’t happen,’” said Michael Weekes, 62, CEO of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers.

“That’s a great equalizer. No matter how rich you are as an African American, you’re still vulnerable,” said Alan Jenkins, 52, executive director of the Opportunity Agenda, which co-hosted the forum with Cullors.


Own What You Want

Wow, what would it look like if we all just took responsibility? 

Huffington Post Editorial Director Danny Shea took to the MSNBC program to defend the site’s decision to relegate coverage of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to the entertainment section.

“For me, the fundamental issue is that we’re not passive observers here in the Trump show, we have a role to play and nobody can deny that his poll numbers are fueled by non-stop media coverage which you wouldn’t give him if he weren’t a celebrity,” Shea said. “You’re not giving Bernie Sanders the wall-to-wall coverage because he’s not taking you on his helicopter for people to just go for joyrides above the Iowa State Fair.”

Cover whatever you want to cover. Have ten web sites devoted to Donald Trump or have no coverage of him whatsoever. But stop pretending you are powerless. It’s embarrassing.


Last of the Dambusters

Rest easy now: 

On the night of May 16, 1943, a squadron of bombers set out from Britain to conduct strikes against heavily fortified dams in the Ruhr Valley of Germany, using bombs that bounced on the water before exploding. Of the 133 crew members who started the mission, only 77 returned.

The last surviving pilot of those who came back was John Leslie Munro, who died Tuesday at 96 in Auckland, New Zealand.

A lot of these guys have lived into their 90s. The one friend I have left who served in WWII is 96. This group of folks is going nowhere until they are damn good and ready.

In an interview with the BBC on the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters mission, Mr. Munro said he had not been afraid. “I approached most operations with a thought: ‘If I’m going to cop it, so be it,’ ” he said.

Wouldn’t you live forever if you made it out of there, too?


Sunday Morning Video: Stevie Ray Vaughan Live At Montreaux

Here’s Stevie Ray and Double Trouble live in 1985:

Saturday Odds & Sods: When The Spell Is Broken

Master of Magic

Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson

This is the second Richard Thompson song I’ve used as the Saturday post’s theme song. RT’s gloomy elegance fits my cranky, irascible mood at this moment in time. There are many spells that need breaking here in New Orleans. One that has been broken is our string of consecutive days of over 90 degrees. It ended last weekend at 48, which is the third most in recorded history. I’m contemplating taking credit for it since I mentioned it in this space last Saturday.

The other spell that needs breaking is the hold that the events of 2005-2010 have on my community, but I’ll go into that in more detail on Monday. I feel like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3 much of the time and I don’t even have to deal with the director’s miscast daughter. That’s right, I keep getting dragged back into the Katrinaversary. Trust me, I wish it didn’t happen since I’ve lived it every day since 2005 but it does. Fuck a duck.  Enough crankiness.

On with the theme song. When The Spell Is Broken first appeared on the 1985 album, Across A Crowded Room. It’s a song best heard live, so I’m posting a 1999 version with the RT Band as well as a 2011 solo acoustic rendition by the man himself. Finally, Bonnie Raitt’s cover from the 1994 RT tribute album Beat The Retreat.

More spellbinding breakage after the break.

Continue reading

Internet to Alpha Phi: It’s horrible when you portray yourselves the way you want

Nothing seems to draw more outrage these days than people being whoever they are and showing others their least-positive side. Donald Trump’s “blood feud” with Megyn Kelly, Jared Fogle’s proclivity for children and Josh Duggar’s general hypocrisy when it comes to “family values.” All of these guys are scummy assholes who deserve whatever is coming to them. For Duggar and Fogle, it’s likely going to be an unpleasant prison experience.

For Trump, it’s probably going to be a runaway sprint to the Republican nomination for president.

Trump has always been a sexist blowhard. He’s the physical embodiment of the sexist line about dating women: “When they hit 40, you trade them in for 2 20s.” John Oliver’s line about him was spot on when he said that it’s weird to have a beauty pageant overseen by one of the ugliest souls out there.

Beauty, sexism and Trump converged elsewhere this week, thanks to a sorority in Alabama. The Internet caught fire after a columnist at called a sorority’s recruitment video “worse for women than Donald Trump.” The University of Alabama’s Alpha Phi sorority produced a 5-minute video that showcased the general whiteness, blondeness and fluffiness that their members personified. The video included young women in white dresses and bikinis bouncing around the campus like the pre-nude parts of a Cinemax “After Dark” series. A lot of soft light, blowing glitter and generally vapid crap took place over soft music and promises of “sisterhood.”

Columnist A.L. Bailey called the video “unempowering” and argued that the video “lacks substance but boasts bodies.”

And more:

The Alpha Phi house, grandiose and imposing, claims to sleep 72 young women. That’s 72 women who surely must be worth more than their appearances and who can ask themselves if the messages they’re sending are the best and most accurate depictions of who they are.

That’s 72 women who will potentially launch careers on the merit of their education and work among men who were once the frat brothers watching their video.

And that’s 72 women who will want to be taken seriously rather than be called bimbos by those male coworkers.

That’s 72 women who could be a united front for empowerment, not poster children for detrimental stereotypes and clichés.

During filming, did any of them stop to think about what they’d be selling? Did they think they were selling a respectable set of sorority chapter ideals? Did they think they were selling the kind of sisterhood that looks out for all women? Or were they focused on having the hottest video in the popularity contest that is sorority recruitment? Were they satisfied with being perceived as selling a gorgeous party-girl, cookie-cutter commodity? Were they satisfied with being the commodity?

Most importantly, did they realize they are a group of young women blessed with potential who are selling themselves, and each other, short?

The biggest thing that troubles me with this approach (other than the overuse of rhetorical questions), is that the author essentially paints these women as the vapid Buffy chicks they are told not to typify. The author argues that the women who made this thing (which by the way has a production quality that rivals Lucasfilms), never stopped to think “properly” about how they would look and what other people might say about them. They are at the same time accused of undermining feminism and being “stupid girls” about their recruitment approach.

The same philosophy that says women should be who they want, dress how they want and act in whichever way they see fit is being used here to admonish these women for being, dressing and acting in the way they wanted to. The line about how they will “work among men who were once the frat brothers watching their video” is eerily reminiscent of the “don’t dress so provocatively” admonition to women fearing sexual assault.

Just like free speech is about opening up all the lanes and letting people drive as they see fit, rights advocates shouldn’t push for one myopic view of a group to be replaced by their own myopic view. Just because it isn’t what you want, it doesn’t follow that it shouldn’t be out there. I’d tell you to watch the video and see for yourself, but the sorority pulled the video after the uproar.

And it killed its Twitter feed.

And its Tumblr page. And its Facebook page.

And gutted its website.

So even though the opponents of this group’s video didn’t want the image out there of these women as sex toys and bikini bodies, they apparently had no problem slut shaming them into silence.

Friday Catblogging: Temptation Eyes

I cannot get enough of Dr. A’s pictures of Della Street with devil eyes. Here are two more:


Now that I’ve shared what bad housekeepers we are, here’s the earworm Della’s devil eyes gave me:

The Fog Of History: Today On Bad Historical Analogy Theatre

I am gobsmacked that this piece was written by a professional historian:

Just as President Lyndon Johnson, whom everyone expected to run for re-election, symbolized the Democratic establishment then, Hillary Clinton does now. While Johnson controlled the party apparatus (which in 1968 still chose most of the delegates), Clinton has locked up most of the Democratic donors. Both of them, too, have already lost a nomination battle to a younger, more attractive candidate: LBJ to JFK in 1960, and Clinton to Barack Obama in 2008. And both have serious vulnerabilities that pundits initially underestimated: the Vietnam War for Johnson, and the ongoing email scandal for Clinton.

This comparison of the email scandal to the Vietnam War may be the silliest thing I’ve read in quite some time, and in 2015 that’s saying a lot. We know for sure that 58,000+ Americans died in that conflict and there were between 700,000 and 1.3 million deaths total, both military and civilian. In contrast, 4 Americans died in the 2012 Benghazi attack and as far as we know nobody was killed by reading one of Hillary’s emails. The oddest thing about that passage is that its author, David Kaiser, is NOT a wingnut. He is, however, wrong, wrong, wrong.

LBJ had a firm grip on at least 90% of the Democratic apparatus at a time when it meant a lot. That’s why the 1968 nominee was his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, not an anti-Johnson candidate. There’s no comparable organizational structure now: all the former FLOTUS, Senator, and Secretary of State has are endorsements. The days of the big city bosses and Southern Bourbon caudillos are long gone. Plus, LBJ was the sitting President who won in a landslide in 1964, as opposed to a primary season runner-up. Johnson could have bullied and forced his way to the nomination, Hillary cannot.

Kaiser goes on to find other analogues. Bernie Sanders is Eugene McCarthy. This one isn’t as quite as ludicrous: both were back bench Senators running to promote a cause important to them. McCarthy’s cause, however, was life and death: to end the slaughter in Vietnam and bring our troops home.

Joe Biden is Hubert Humphrey in Kaiserworld. As human beings it’s a pretty good one. Hubert was as warm, gregarious and occasionally as gaffe prone as Joey the Shark. I’ve made that analogy myself in the past. Both were distinguished liberals well-qualified to be President. Both men even had substantial blots on otherwise stellar progressive records: HHH and the Vietnam War, and Biden his advocacy and/or sponsorship of some of the terrible anti-crime bills passed in the 1980’s and ’90’s. (I’ll leave yet another discussion about whether Biden and other Democrats should be forgiven for voting for the Iraq War resolution for another day. Just remember: George McGovern, Mark Hatfield, and Frank Church were among those who voted for the Tonkin Gulf resolution in 1964. Only 2 members of Congress voted no.)

The fundamental difference between Biden and Humphrey is that the former might run against the front-runner whereas LBJ would have cut HHH’s nuts off if he’d even considered such a thing. Another enormous difference is that Biden is a powerful Veep along the lines of Hubert’s protege, Fritz Mondale whereas Johnson kept Humphrey’s testicles in a jar on the mantle if you catch my drift.

Finally, Kaiser compares Senator/Professor Warren to Robert Kennedy. Warren *is* deservedly popular on the Left of the party BUT doesn’t have the prestige of the brother of the martyred President. People at the time viewed him as a stand-in for JFK and there were millions of voters prepared to support the heir to “Camelot.” Additionally, RFK was mistrusted by some on the Left because of his days as a McCarthyite fellow traveler and all the temporizing he did on Civil Rights as Attorney General.

The image of “ruthless” Bobby is something that has been lost in the fog of history. It would have, however, helped him pry loose delegates from the big city bosses in 1968. Many of the bosses were Irish and devoted to the Kennedy family. Some, like Mayor Daley, were even closet doves because their blue-collar constituents were doing most of the fighting and dying in Southeast Asia.

It’s weird that someone who lived through the Vietnam period, Kaiser was born in 1947, would get so much so very wrong. The nascent 2015 Democratic primary season is nothing like the 1968 race in spite of a few superficial similarities. The Democratic Party was ripped to shreds by Vietnam in 1968 and went on to lose 5 of 6 Presidential elections. We’re at a different point in history right now: the existential threat to America is not the Vietnam War as a hot blooded surrogate for the Cold War, it’s the possibility of a Republican President moving a big bag of crazy into the White House. That gives Democrats incentive to unite behind an eventual nominee and take on the Republicans; something that did not happen in 1968. I somehow doubt that Bernie Sanders would go into a 37-year political pout like Eugene McCarthy who even endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980.

That concludes this edition of Bad Historical Analogy Theatre.

Ted’s Gambit

From Album 5

So, Tailgunner Ted, according to the Daily Beast, is looking to revive his otherwise moribund campaign by … well, call it whatever: hooking up to The Donald’s juice, stealing his thunder (or fire) … or just thoroughly kissing his ass. Take your pick. It’s unlikely to help all that much. Cruz was, is, and always will be an erratic and uncontrollable monster.

Meanwhile, Matt Taibbi has his thoughts on the clown-car-train-wreck that is the Repug nominating process (it’s still worrisome as all hell that whoever emerges from this mother-of-all-slag-heaps stands at least some chance of sitting in the Oval Office with a briefcase full of launch codes)…anyway, after reading, I’m thinking…damn: Ship-of-Fools-meets-Looney -Tunes-meets-butter-sculpture-then-deep-fried-Beavis-and-Butthead…on a stick.

Chili fritos look nutritious and well-balanced in comparison.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Cult Shaming

Perhaps I should be ashamed of being a member of the pulp fiction cult but I’m not.


Tweets Of The Day: Insult Comedian Edition

As hard as I try, I cannot seem to kick my Trump addiction. I’m not sure if it’s the hair, the delivery or the pure, unabashed malakatude. In his quest to become the first  insult comedian elected President, the Donald continues to feud with all comers in a completely un-Presidential manner. Yesterday, he called creepy GOP pollster Frank Luntz a “clown” and a “low class slob. I somehow can’t imagine Washington, Lincoln, or even Chet Arthur feuding with a media puke and calling them a slob. Andrew Jackson, yes, but we’ll save that for another day or never.

On to the Trump inspired tweets. First, the Insult Comedian compared himself to Batman whilst flying chirren about in his helicopter. Btw, LBJ made the first political use of a helicopter during his 1948 race for the Senate. All his opponent had was a horse. In any event, here’s my pick for the funniest #BatTrump tweet:

Trump also inspired a sci-fi themed tweet from a user who is wearing a Philadelphia Phillies cap in his avatar. I never though I’d quote a Phillies fan. I may have to boo myself:

The misspelling and missing apostrophe are indications that the guy is indeed a Phillies fan, but it’s still pretty darn funny.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump will not be the first insult comedian elected President.


Album Cover Art Wednesday: Rock And Roll Over

I’ve never been much of a fan of Kiss’ music but it’s hard to fault them when it comes to presentation and marketing. I got some free tickets to a Kiss arena show back in their heyday. The music left me cold but the spectacle was something else. In short, it was spectacular.

Their album covers have often been very good. This weeks’ honoree is one I’m quite fond of. It was described as follows by Matthew Wilkening at

Our vote for best Kiss studio album cover goes to this Michael Doret-designed masterpiece-in-the-round. The band is pictured as a four-headed monster, each with a background quadrant (space, fire, heaven, the jungle) designed to match their personas. The unique layout probably helped ensure there would be no squabbles among the band members as to who got to be on top, since there was no top!

It looks like Gene Simmons is on the top to me:

Kiss Rock and Roll Over

They Are Killing Newspapers on Purpose


The Times-Picayune not only won two Pulitzer Prizes for such journalistic derring-do, but admiration from a community in desperate need of updates during the storm and for answers from officials in its aftermath. “The city,” Russell said, “had a real bond with the paper.”

That bond was broken in June 2012. Advance Publications, the Newhouse family-run company that owns the paper, laid off over 200 people, nearly a third of the staff. The frequency of the print edition dropped to three days a week and a significantly diminished newsroom now focused on a website,

“The way that some careers ended in 2012 was just sort of horrible,” Russell recalled. “Whatever goodwill people had toward that institution just sort of evaporated on that day … It was just handled terribly.”

And why is this happening?

The decline of the Times-Picayune is, in some ways, an illustration of a changing newspaper industry as a whole.

HORSESHIT. God, I am so tired of “the world is changing” as some kind of universal “we just can’t do stuff anymore.” If you don’t want to work, fine. If you don’t way to pay reporters anymore, FINE. But don’t come to me with this when THESE ARE THE GODDAMN FACTS: 

Advance Publications on Forbes Lists


Newspaper companies are killing newspapers. Not digital reading habits, not Craigslist, not kids getting their news from Comedy Central, and not people canceling their subscriptions when the TV listings get changed. Newspaper companies. They are killing newspapers and telling journalists somebody else did it, and journalists are saying why, of course, let us look elsewhere for the murderer.

Has revenue declined? YES. But “declined” does not mean “not enough to pay for the things that matter” and it certainly doesn’t mean “not enough to pay reporters while we give our executives six-figure bonuses and let them walk away with millions after they skullfuck the company.”

Yet we keep seeing story after story about the industry’s changes as if they’re the fucking WEATHER. As if the clouds just roll in and the rain washes everyone’s jobs away. As if the changes aren’t made by people. As if people shouldn’t answer for them. We keep seeing stories from organizations that want to jerk themselves off about being the last bastions of democratic rule, that want to talk all day about the value of their sainted bullshit detectors, that repeat this bullshit like it’s bulletproof gospel.

I have never SEEN people who are supposed to question everything question so little.


‘God is Not Angry Daddy’

Go read all of these right now. 

They just keep drawing the circle smaller and smaller, like the point is who you keep out.


Blue Monday

I’ll be away from the computer a lot at the beginning of the week, so posting from me will be light; unless it isn’t. Every time I say that, something big arises and I’m on here bloviating away. We live in eventful times, after all.

I’m working at Jackson Square today so if I were religious, I’d light a candle at St. Louis Cathedral in honor of Julian Bond who died yesterday after a long and eventful life at the age of 75. I just saw this tweet he sent last month:

That reminds me that the Confederate monument removal process continues apace in New Orleans despite Governor PBJ’s threats to meddle. Jindal has already made himself look ridiculous by citing a state law that doesn’t exist. He has no legal authority and he should stick to eating fried junk food at the Iowa State Fair. I hear the fried PBJ is deliciously greasy…

I’ve been watching a lot of junk teevee in the last week hoping to delve deeper into the psyche of the man who wants to be the first insult comedian elected President. That’s right, I’ve been the watching the Celebrity Apprentice on YouTube. I haven’t discovered any hidden depths but I have learned that Trump is a bigger egomaniac than either Gene Fucking Simmons or Piers Fucking Morgan and that ain’t easy. The Donald does have a better delivery that either: his patter reminds me of Borscht Belt comedians with much better hair and some with less elaborate combovers. Trump is the combover king, y’all.

The reason I haven’t discovered any Trumpian hidden depths is that there aren’t any. He’s the shallow money-grubbing blowhard that he seems to be. Berkeley Breathed, however, discovered something important about the Donald’s surname:

Bloom County 8-14-2015

Snark? What’s that? I’m unfamiliar with that term. Is that what the Fonz jumped? The snark?

I’ll give Antoine Domino, Jr. the last word:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Rising Gorge edition

Sorry, people – no post today,

I had plenty of stupid bookmarked, but I just couldn’t bring myself to start reading it.  I just couldn’t.  By the time Sunday morning came around, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do it.

I guess even I have limits.

Back next Monday (hopefully) with the usual evisceration of Freeper idiocy.




Tagged ,

On Clean Slates and New Beginnings: Katrina, Chicago and Crisis

Map (published by the R.P. Studley Company) of the area of Chicago burned during the Great Chicago Fire, Chicago, Illinois, early 1870s. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Map (published by the R.P. Studley Company) of the area of Chicago burned during the Great Chicago Fire, Chicago, Illinois, early 1870s. (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.

— Kristen McQueary, In Chicago, Wishing for a Hurricane Katrina

Others have said most of what I thought in response to McQueary’s column and apology (a column and apology written by, I should disclose, a friend of mine, a former colleague, with whom I did reporting I believed in), in particular as it relates to the disregard of the (mostly poor, mostly black) dead in pursuit of such economic achievements as busting teachers’ unions and firing city workers.

Others have talked of their own pain at seeing the lives they lived used as a metaphor. As hyperbole. As a rhetorical device for an opinion piece.

What I want to respond to is the central premise of the piece, of the philosophy known as disaster capitalism and its presumed target, which is my home. A wish that the scouring hand of God would wash away all that Chicago is, so that wise people could begin it again the way they want to.

That happened once.

And didn’t.

Starting on the Southwest Side’s DeKoven Street on the evening of October 8, the fire raged late into the next day and night, ending in the northeast on Fullerton Avenue, frustrated finally by Lake Michigan and a persistent rain shower. Two thousand acres were lost. Eighteen thousand buildings were destroyed and nineteen thousand people were left homeless. City Coroner Stephens and Cook County physician Dr. Ben C. Miller estimated deaths at nearly three hundred, noting the difficulty of identify bodies charred beyond recognition.

— Ross Miller, The Great Chicago Fire

The thing I always tell people about New Orleans back then was the silence.

The plane I took there in 2007 was full of raucous bachelor-party bros and girls on their 21st birthdays getting drunk on watered-down hurricanes. The French Quarter was calmer than I’d been told it had been in the past, but I hadn’t been to the city since I was 8 years old. I was relying on the accounts of others.

The neighborhood where we’d be gutting was as silent as the tomb it had become. There were no stoplights to tell us to stop, or tell us to go. The street sign was hand-lettered, taped to a pole. When I asked why the markings on the doors — 1 dead, cat — were still up, like were people allowed to take them down, my friends laughed.

Allowed? By whom? Somebody in charge? Somebody in authority? Somebody enforcing the rules?

At the time, I compared it to Chicago. 

One of the things that continues to shock me is just how silent the streets are. I compared it to the day after a blizzard in Chicago, when the plows haven’t yet gotten to you and all the neighbors are helping each other dig out with skillets and cookie sheets and whatever else if they don’t have a shovel. And this, though, isn’t two days after the storm but two years. There’s no one; people are on their own.

This was two years after the storm, and there were no rules, and the only authority that existed was what people were able to stop from happening, on their own. There was a National Guard Humvee on the boulevard leading out of the airport, and it was empty.

Chicago was at the time of the disaster a growing but still provincial city. The fire accelerated its rush into the modern. Legendizing of the fire was compensation in part for all that was thought lost. Tales of the fire were consolidated with earlier stories of the city into a secular myth that offered a certainty once provided by faith. A modern Chicagoan, Saul Bellow, suggests we have not yet outgrown our need for large events and the language that always seems to envelop them: “How we all love extreme cases and apocalypses, fires, drownings, stranglings and the rest of it. The bigger our mild, basically ethical, safer middle classes grow the more radical excitement is in demand. Mild or moderate truthfulness or accuracy seems to have no pull at all.”

— Ross Miller, The Great Chicago Fire

There were houses lining the New Orleans street, on either side of the one my friends and I were gutting. Only one of them, one on a whole block, was occupied, if by occupied you mean by a trailer on the lawn where people lived, beside everything they’d lost. Rose bushes rioted, overgrown.

Someone had pulled a TV, a chandelier, a Mickey Mouse doll dressed in a Santa suit, out of the house before we swung our sledgehammers. There was a forlorn pile of possessions in front of a station wagon in the driveway.

It was a hot day, and we were wearing coveralls and masks. We would take breaks, drink water, sit on the curb. No one walked down the sidewalk. No one rode a bike in the street.

You cannot imagine the silence.

Unless you don’t have to.

I’m sorry, if you don’t.

I was very, very tired that night (unused to hard labor, stunned by what I’d been seeing), but I went to a party with fellow writers and artists, people who had lived in New Orleans for years. They’d invited us over to meet the community of bloggers that had sprung up after Katrina, whose words I’d been reading for weeks and months leading up to our trip, who wrote of what had happened to them with fury and courage and wild, mad hope.

It shouldn’t have taken a storm, for me to know them. It shouldn’t have taken a storm for me to go somewhere and learn something, from people like these.

They brought me drinks and food and asked about me and my life. They told me about theirs, why they lived there, what they loved about it. They hugged me and said thank you for caring about us, and I was ashamed of my blisters and my exhaustion.

I know at least three of them are dead now.

A sense of impending chaos led the federal government to call out the Army. Although General Sheridan denied that there was any civil unrest, his presence helped insure order. His confident show of force was a sure sign to outsiders that Chicago was going to survive intact. In response there began almost immediately a tremendous outpouring of aid from other states, foreign countries, and national businesses.

— Ross Miller, The Great Chicago Fire


Many readers thought my premise — through my use of metaphor and hyperbole — was out of line. I certainly hear you. I am reading your tweets and emails. And I am horrified and sickened at how that column was read to mean I would be gunning for actual death and destruction.

— Kristen McQueary, Hurricane Katrina and What Was In My Heart


When something happens to us, something that isn’t survivable, and we survive it anyway, we tell ourselves it happened the way we need to think of it happening, in order to stay alive. We make up a story, that we are biggerbetterharderfasterstronger, and we tell ourselves that story when we can’t sleep and all we can see is everything that’s gone.

I have lost NOTHING in my comfortable life, I swear to you, nothing out of the ordinary, and I still have a story I tell myself. If you told it to me, told me I was better off? For my ordinary suffering, for my ordinary everyday series of misfortunes and miseries? If you told me I would learn from them someday? (That they would be worth it? To whom I don’t know. Maybe to you?)

I would tell you to go to hell.

I would tell you: Tell it to the dead and the lost.

All our truths belong in our mouths alone.

Let any man figure to himself what he would endure if he were stripped not only of everything that may make him conventionally “respectable” or eminent, but of the wherewithal to supply the first conditions of physical existence — food and shelter — and all his neighbors stripped of all that could alleviate his sufferings, and he will form a notion, faint and far off indeed, but far truer than description, however ample, could give him, of what has befallen, and for many days to come will befall, myriads of men as capable as himself to suffer and enjoy.

— Elias Colbert and Everett Chamberlain, Chicago and the Great Conflagration (quoted in The Great Chicago Fire)

I didn’t grow up in Chicago, so it isn’t mine any more than New Orleans is. But I’ve worked here and loved it for nearly two decades, and I’ve spent time in almost every neighborhood anyone can name. I’ve crawled all over it day and night talking to drug dealers and car dealers and homeless dudes and cops and moms at the park, and I’ve celebrated all its ragged, filthy, noisy, busy glory. I love it here.

Many of Chicago’s neighborhoods are as poor and as segregated as many in New Orleans, if not more. Its government is corrupt and its finances are predicated on the same high service, low tax dodge as the finances of many US towns. Its school system has been starved and abused, and its leadership is more interested in throwing parties for tourists than in picking up litter in places the TV crews are afraid to go. It burned down, once, and people rebuilt it.

It is broken, and people are fixing it.

Not in a great conflagration. Not after a majestic, literary storm. In small ways, every day. The priest I interviewed once, who spent nights organizing basketball games to try to save his neighborhood from gang warfare. The woman whose husband and all his brothers served in the Second World War, who painstakingly saved their letters and read them to me. The owners of a barbershop who let schoolkids wait there after class, so they could walk home safely.

To wish for a clean slate, a crisis-type “fresh” start, is to wish for them to be wiped away. It is a wish for death and destruction, as the only sufficient means of improvement. It’s a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire: Take all that I am and let me start again. As if you can’t fix something, without striking a match.

It’s a wish for the easy way out. The laziness offends me more than the metaphor. You shouldn’t NEED a storm. You shouldn’t need the world to burn.

It’s always burning, always. The world is ever ending. And you get the chance every single day,  to start again each morning when the sun comes up, and fix it as you think it should be fixed. It’s hard, sure. It’s hard to do the work every day. It’s hard to improve by inches, but it’s the only way we live.

There’s no such thing as a clean slate. Even if the world burns, we still live in the ashes.

The desire to substitute something sublime and harmlessly abstract like the image of the phoenix to distract from the city’s conflicts remained into the 1890s. Seen as an era of common purpose, stripped of tragedy, the fire (confused with the rebuilding) was popularized as a positive agent of change. The losses and displacements were conveniently forgotten.

— Ross Miller, The Great Chicago Fire

I went back to New Orleans in 2011, for a conference. Many of the people I’d met before were there again, happy to see me and one another. We killed off a keg in the conference center and then went out for something called “hog balls” at a bar too small to hold us all.

When we left, Adrastos and the lovely Dr. A insisted on walking with me the whole way out to the car, because it wasn’t quite safe in the safe-looking neighborhood we were celebrating in.

As we drove to the airport the next day, I noticed the buildings that still had waterlines on the outsides. Marking where the flood had risen.

Even after a storm, we carry what we are forward. No storm obliterates everything.

No fire, either.