Monthly Archives: October 2015

Ernest Henley was right

Still on the road at the annual college media convention. Sorry for the lateness of the post. -Doc

Being on the road and in full-crisis mode over various personal and professional issues makes it really hard to sleep. It’s incredible that you get to see people you only see once a year and yet you slip right back into hugs and conversations you’ve been having for years. It’s an incredible feeling that makes you realize you’re never really alone; you’re just a little farther away from what you remember and the people you love. And you also realize those people love you.

A good friend of mine had a stroke a few months back and another had a massive heart ailment that had a very real probability of killing him. To date, Pat managed to recover from the stroke to get back to his usually sarcastic self and Scott, through a force stronger than man, got his heart. I often ponder this as I slip between semi-sleep and restless dreams.

It is true that there’s a certain brevity to life. You never really know whose light will endure and who will be extinguished at any given moment. My mother, God love her, prays that I’ll find a way to slow down a bit and perhaps “extend the game,” to borrow a phrase from the legendary Dean Smith. What she doesn’t understand is the same thing my father doesn’t understand when it comes to his classic Corvette: If you don’t keep the engine pumping, the seals go dry, the tubes crack up and things really start atrophying.

She also doesn’t understand that sometimes, in the dark of the night, the concept of mortality crawls heavily across my brow and I imagine the conversation at the end of my time. As a person of faith, I honestly believe I will have to meet my maker at some point and make a just accounting of myself.

When God asks me if I did everything I could to improve those situations that I knew needed my special brand of assistance, I have to tell Him something. He might ask, “Did you give your best, all of it, when it mattered most, or did you bow because you thought what was asked of you was too hard or that you didn’t have enough in you to endure?”

If I say, “Lord, I was bloodied, so I bowed. I was tired, so I stopped. I was weak, so I gave up,” that probably won’t be a satisfactory answer.

Everyone, at one point or another, gets pinned into the corner of the ring and takes a beating. The punches come hard and fast, varying in speed and placement, until you feel entirely like a human bruise. It’s what you do in that moment that tells you what is possible. You can stagger. You can fall. You can refuse to get back up.

The past few weeks have been like that for me but for some reason, each time, I go back to those movie clips in my mind:

“We never lost an American in space and we sure as hell aren’t going to lose one on my watch.”

“There is a way to stay with this team. You don’t defend them. You attack them.”

“If it’s my will against yours, you will lose.”

“Move your ass, Cookie. I want my 12.”

And, for some reason, the immortal Todd Parker line of “Do NOT reach for your GUN!” (That one makes no sense in this context, I’ll give you that…)

I tried explaining this to other people outside of student media, and they all think I’m nuts. Maybe I am. I mean, what grown man with a doctorate spends his time inspired by cheesy movie quotes and the Miracle on Ice? H

Still, there’s one thing I’ve always seemed to notice about “the other guy” in the equation: He’s punching himself tired, rope-a-dope style.

And that’s when I’m warmin’ up, Sheriff.

Halloween Odds & Sods: The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Halloween House
Uptown New Orleans Halloween House. Photograph by Carolyn Scofield.

It’s been a long week in New Orleans. I’ve been focused on the Governor’s election; blogging, plotting with friends, trying to help prevent Bitter Vitter from moving into the Governor’s mansion next year. In short, it’s been a week chock-full-o-politics. so I feel like keeping things light today. I need a Vitty vacay. It is, after all, Halloween, which is a big deal here in the Crescent City. We have a semi-quiet evening in store. We’re hanging out with some friends who have 3 small chirren. Did I say quiet evening? I got that wrong. Bedlam is more like it. I plan to drink.

This week’s theme song is one I usually post under the title Boo From Dave Edmunds. Dave is not a particularly scary man but he used to have big hair styled in a ducktail. I used to have thick hair myself but never a ducktail, it’s too close to a mullet for comfort. Take it away, Dave:

I got a huge kick out of posting the Halloween album covers on Wednesday. I found them at the Church of Halloween. I’m not planning to join but I might sneak into the Chapel of Ghoulish Love to laugh at the squares. While sitting in a virtual pew, I learned that one of my favorite character actors had recorded a Halloween album of sorts:

Peter Lorre LP

That cat looks pissed, y’all. Kitty probably hoped to be cast as Bogie’s cat, which surely meant better quality tables scraps. Lorre *was* German and those people eat some weird shit. More black cat moaning as well as the odd skeletal picture after the break.
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Friday Ferretblogging

One side effect of the steroids Claire is on for her cancer is that she’s now eating like a furry little pig. But because she’s still Claire, she likes to throw the food all over the floor of her cage before she chows it down.

claire

A.

Deep Blog On Vitter and his Gumshoes

The story I refuse to call Spygate keeps getting stranger and juicier all the time. It turns out that one of the guys at Sheriff Normand’s breakfast club wasn’t Judd Nelson but the private eye who found Wendy Three Names:

When U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s gumshoe, Robert Frenzel, staked out the Royal Blend coffee shop in Old Metairie the morning before Saturday’s gubernatorial primary, one of the men he wound up spying on was a PI himself, who had been hired to dig up dirt on Vitter.

In a state that’s nearly bankrupt, the first week of the runoff campaign has been dominated by a circuslike sideshow, as Vitter and his foes argue over the meaning of an explosion of espionage that feels a bit like a miniature Cold War being fought in Jefferson Parish and New Orleans. Vitter, a Republican, will face Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in a Nov. 21 runoff.

Frenzel actually was after John Cummings — the “man with the white beard” whom Vitter’s gubernatorial campaign had wanted him to watch — and Frenzel was right on his heels when Cummings entered the coffee shop.

As Cummings joined his regular coffee klatch at a large table, Frenzel sat down nearby. Among the others present were Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, state Sen. Danny Martiny and private eye Danny DeNoux.

Initial news accounts suggested that the Vitter campaign was most interested in Normand — a vociferous critic of the U.S. senator — but it’s possible that the campaign also had a keen interest in DeNoux, though it’s not clear Frenzel recognized him.

DeNoux now says he is the PI who recently located Wendy Ellis, a former prostitute who just before the election amplified claims she made in 2007 that she had a sexual relationship with Vitter in New Orleans years earlier, when he was a state representative and then a freshman congressman.

It was DeNoux who brought blogger Jason Brad Berry to Ellis. This resulted in Berry, a week before the Oct. 24 primary, posting videos on his website, www.theamericanzombie.com, that roiled the gubernatorial campaign. In them, Ellis claimed her relationship with Vitter was deeper and more complicated than she had suggested in 2007 interviews with The Times-Picayune and at a news conference organized by Hustler magazine that year.

DeNoux told The Advocate on Wednesday that he did the opposition research on Vitter for a “businessman,” whom he said he could not name. The businessman asked him to share his information with Berry, DeNoux said, adding that he did not know the blogger previously.

DeNoux said his client was not Cummings, a prominent trial attorney, large landowner in New Orleans and longtime foe of Vitter. DeNoux said Cummings is a friend of his but that he has never done paid work for him. DeNoux also said the client for the Vitter assignment was not an elected official and not the Democratic Party

In the upside down world of the Vitter scandal blotter, I think that DeNoux’s denial may mean that Cummings *is* his client. That’s what I’ve been hearing from Deep Blog and others for quite some time. I was reluctant to write about it before now because I want that pipeline open and unclogged. Btw, Danny DeNoux is a great name for a New Orleans shamus. We’ll get to the DeNouxment in a moment…

There are also anonymous emails floating around that claim that the Feds are investigating Team Vitter for spying on opponents. It’s just a rumor and all Deep Blog will say is that he/she/it has heard the same rumors. You can’t step outside in the Gret Stet of Louisiana without running into campaign gossip this year. That’s one reason this election is so freaking exciting.

Do I think the rumors are true? I’m not sure. But given what we know about Vitter, it’s quite possible that his gumshoes have done worse things than eavesdrop. The Vitter scandal blotter is getting more Nixonian all the time. Just remember: when Nixon ran for Governor, he lost.

I’ll give John Cummings, the man who may or may not have been the target of Vitter’s inept gumshoe, the last word:

“The stupid son of a bitch was supposed to find Santa Claus in the cafe; that’s the guy with the white beard,” Cummings said. “But you can tell David Vitter that he doesn’t get anything for Christmas. He’s been naughty.”

Cummings said he has had no beef with Vitter, noting the two attend the same church, St. Francis Xavier. “He’s a loner,” he said. “There’s something very, very strange about the man.”

I guess Cummings won’t be getting a Vitter tattoo on his back a la Roger Stone…

 

Friday Catblogging: Della In The Dark

I thought this was an appropriate picture for the day before All Hallows Eve:

IMG_4378

And this is an appropriate song:

Too Roger Stoned

roger-stone-nixon-tattoo1

Roger Stone still has Tricky Dick’s back.

Nixon fan, conspiracy theorist, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone has been uncharacteristically quiet of late. That ended during the fantasy draft edition of the GOP debate on CNBC. Stone hit the Tweeter Tube and lashed out at cranky Ohio Governor John Kasich after Kasich said he was against legal weed:

Kasich and his boss on the Bicentennial Honky Reagan campaign thought this was harsher than stems and seeds, man:

Kasich’s campaign told Cleveland.com on Wednesday night that Kasich’s supervisor on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign was Charlie Black, not Stone.

Black told the website that Kasich “was very diligent.”

“This is the first time I ever heard anyone mention drugs in connection with John Kasich. He was not fired. He certainly was not fired for drugs,” Black told Cleveland.com.

Stone is standing by his story. Of course he is, it got him attention. The dude taught the Insult Comedian everything he knows about spin. More importantly, it allowed me to make a Robin Trower pun in the title and post this live clip:

A Theme Song For The Vitter Campaign: I’m The Slime

I try to be a helpful person. I’ve helped the odd little old lady cross the street without once getting handbagged. And I never, ever park in handicapped spaces. In that spirit of helpful generosity, I have the perfect theme song for the Vitter campaign. It may be old but it’s tough, aggressive, and downright vicious just like the candidate.

It’s I’m The Slime written by Frank Zappa and originally recorded with the Mothers in 1973. Dig these lyrics, Dave, baby:

I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed and deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can’t look away
I make you think I’m delicious
With the stuff that I say
I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozin’ out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don’t need you
Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you
Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That’s right, folks . . .
Don’t touch that dial

Well, I am the slime from your video
Oozin’ along on your livin’ room floor

I am the slime from your video
Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit me go

It’s winner, Dave, just like you. Sure Zappa was an anti-censorship lefty and his late wife Gail was a major contributor to Democratic politics but the lyrics are *so* you.

The tune is catchier than herpes. Just imagine hitting the stage with the original Mothers version rocking the house, Dave. You can even use the title of the album it came from to denounce your foe: John Bel Edwards is NO Over-Nite Sensation, or better yet, call him an Obama-Nite Sensation. One song from that LP you should skip, Dave, is Dinah-Moe Humm. It has pretty racy lyrics so people might think it’s about Wendy Three Names and you wouldn’t want that. “What do you mean, cooties? No cooties on me.”

Additionally, I offer the image below as a possible campaign poster. I don’t own the picture but you believe in free market economics and it’s free on the internet. Not only that, it was taken on the taxpayers’ dime, which makes it an official photograph for an officious candidate. You look mighty dapper, Diaper Dave:

I'm The Slime

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Shadows with Eyes

We’re keeping it creepy with this cover:

Shadows with Eyes

Straight Outta ’88: Vitter’s Willie Horton Ad

HortonWillieDukakis

The 1980’s are back in style: from Straight Outta Compton to one of my favorite teevee comedies in a long time, The Goldbergs. I’m worried that Culture Club will experience a revival. Here’s a warning: if you sing Karma Chameleon at me, I will kick you where it *really* hurts.

Not only are the ’80’s back in pop-culture, they’re back in the Gret Stet Goober race courtesy of the latest Bitter Vitter attack ad. David Vitter has never, ever run a positive campaign. It’s what happens when all you believe in is yourself and the hollow rhetoric of “conservative reform.” Vitter is a political demon hunter, if he can’t find any he creates them. In his pre-Congressional days, his primary foils were Edwin Edwards, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, and even Republican Governor Mike Foster. All of his campaigns have been harshly negative including the Congressional race to succeed Bob Livingston. It was a race only a GOPer had a chance to win:

John Treen has never forgiven Vitter for his unrelenting attacks against his brother in that 1999 election, after Vitter and [former Governor] David Treen, at Vitter’s initiative, agreed not to attack each other. Keeping that deal was important for Treen, who was known among Democrats and Republicans alike for his honest and honorable approach to politics.

Vitter, however, went on the attack, according to John Treen and two others who were part of that campaign, in fliers with different messages to white and black voters that the Treen campaign found far outside the bounds of fair play.

“To distort my brother’s record, I thought, was despicable,” John Treen said, adding that his brother, who died in 2009, never fully recovered emotionally from the defeat. “The idea that someone made a deal and broke his word got to him.”

Time for some background. In 1979, Dave Treen became the first Republican since Reconstruction to be elected Governor of Louisiana. He was one of the founders of the modern Gret Stet GOP, but despite that was famous for being nice. I met Mr. Treen several times and he was a warm and friendly man who was appalled by David Duke’s rise to elected office. In fact, his brother John ran against Dukkke in the State House race that the Gret Stet Fuhrer Wannabe won. That happened (where else?) in Jefferson Parish in what many locals call da Metrys. This is all very incestuous.

Back to the 2015 runoff election. Team Vitter has fired the first shot and, characteristically, it’s aimed below the belt. Holy mixed metaphor, Batman. It’s a 1980’s style CRIME IS SCARY and OBAMA & EDWARDS ARE SOFT ON IT teevee commercial complete with a “thug” in a do-rag:

The ad hits all the low notes. It’s classic Southern Republican dog whistling. Here, fido. Here’s the transcript courtesy of CenLamar:

Voting for Edwards is like voting to make Obama the next governor of Louisiana.

Want proof?

Obama dangerously calls for the release of 6,000 criminals from jail. Edwards joined Obama, promising at Southern University he’ll reduce 5,500 in Louisiana alone. 5,500 dangerous thugs, drug dealers, back into our neighborhood. Edwards even voted to allow felons to receive taxpayer funded pensions.

Obama and Edwards, wrong for Louisiana.

The ad also shows JBE speaking at Southern University in Red Stick. I cannot imagine why. Actually, I can: it’s the largest historically black university in the Gret Stet. OMG, he knows those people…

All of this reminds me of the 1988 Presidential campaign. Poppy Bush was viewed as a genial lightweight who sold his soul to Ronald Reagan to be Vice President. Michael Dukakis had a huge lead after the Democratic convention where he made a near fatal mistake by saying, “This election is about competence, not ideology.” It was a vestige of losing 4 out of 5 elections including 3 landslides. Strom Thurmond disciple Lee Atwater decided to throw that notion back in Dukakis’ face by running one of the dirtiest campaigns in American history. He got away with it because of the media’s “both sides do it” notion. We call it false equivalency now.

Atwater had wingnut consultant Alex Castellanos put the hit out on the Dukakis campaign, which resulted in the now infamous Willie Horton ad:

There was a second, equally effective attack ad entitled Revolving Doors:

People were scared shitless of crime in 1988. It was the era of crack cocaine and the Columbia drug cartel’s “criminal invasion” of United States. It was never as bad as many thought BUT it was bad enough to lead decent essentially liberal pols like Joe Biden and Bill Clinton to enact laws that are now seen as OTT punitive. I refuse to say Draconian. Leave Poor Draco alone, y’all…

As for my countryman, Michael Dukakis, he overestimated the intelligence of the American people and refused to respond to these attacks. That refusal was a dagger through the heart of the Dukakis-Benstsen campaign. It taught a generation of Democratic handlers to respond quickly to even the most specious attacks. A lesson that was forgotten in 2004, alas.

That brings us back to Vitter’s “John Bel Obama” crime ad. It’s straight out of the ’80’s but will it work in 2015? In recent years, the worm has turned on the “tough on crime” laws passed during the Reagan and Clinton administrations. Many Republicans, including some damn conservative ones, are advocating sentencing reforms that will result in fewer non-violent drug offenders rotting in jail. The Vitter ad is, of course, not aimed at thinking people but at fake tough guy conservatives who are afraid of crime and think that all black folks are criminals. I’m not sure that this line of attack will be as effective in 2015 as it was in 1988. That will be one of the central questions that the runoff election will turn on.

For his part, John Bel Edwards has responded quickly in an interview with Lamar White Jr:

“And of course they seized upon the fact that I talked about the same matter at Southern, in an effort to inflame folks. They take it out of context. If you looked at the entire video (of my speech) and saw what I said before and what I said after that statement, you would know that I am not talking about releasing any inmates.

“I’m talking about adopting new strategies that have been successfully adopted in other conservative states like Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia to reduce the number of inmates they’re having to keep in their prisons. And to save money. You can do it without threatening public safety. But you do it with working with the sheriffs, with the DAs, with the secretary of the Department of Corrections.

<snip>

“This is what other states have down. We should not aspire to be number one in the nation in incarceration rates. I’ve talked to the Secretary of the Department of Corrections. (He says) that would require us to reduce our inmate population by 5,500, and then we’d be number two to Mississippi.

<snip>

“They took one statement that I made at Southern, tweaked it out of context, isolated it from what was said before and what was said after, and now, they’re making this claim.

“But it’s the typical sort of thing that David Vitter does. And the more desperate he is, the more egregious these types of things are going to become.

I’m glad to see Mr. Edwards is prepared for incoming mud. Mudslinging is what Vitter has always done and it’s all he’s got left. We’re about to learn whether the OBAMA, OBAMA, OBAMA meme will work in a statewide, as opposed to a Federal, election in 2015. I have my doubts but I’ve been wrong before. Just remember: 50% plus one vote will win this election.

Finally, my Louisiana comrade in arms, Bob Mann, has an excellent piece on this very subject at Salon. Check it out, y’all.

Louisiana Politics: The State Of The Gret Stet Goober Race

BelObama3

Vitter attack ad. There will be more to come.

As of this writing there’s nothing *new* to add to the Vitter scandal blotter, so I can put my pundit cap on and discuss the post-primary landscape. Two weeks ago, I thought John Bel Edwards would make the run-off and lose to David Vitter. I was not alone in thinking that among Gret Stet liberal pundits. But Edwards flew below the radar during the primary while running a superb campaign. He finished on top in most regions of the state and nearly won David Vitter’s home Parish of Jefferson. That’s the outcome that leaps out and grabs me. In his 2010 re-election campaign, Vitter won by 19 points  statewide and in Jefferson he got 72.504 votes. In Saturday’s primary, he held off Edwards 34, 331 to 30,919. He’s in big trouble.

I realize it comes as shock to everyone that a Democrat can win statewide in Louisiana. It’s true that Mary Landrieu lost last year but that was a Federal election. Louisiana may have turned red in the post-Katrina era BUT we had a Democratic Governor as recently as 2007. It’s difficult but doable as pointed out in this article in yesterday’s Advocate:

Ron Faucheux, a Washington D.C. pollster who once was a Democratic state representative in New Orleans, said Vitter’s high negatives and relatively poor showing make a little more difficult a race that a few months ago seemed like a cinch.

“I think that opens an unusual opportunity for a Democrat to reach across party lines and win the election. That doesn’t mean he (Edwards) can do it.”

Faucheux likened the primary to the anti-Long, pro-Long election of the 1930s and 1940s. Three anti-Vitter candidates, together, gathered 77 percent of the vote. Viewed a different way, the results show that almost 60 percent of the vote was for a Republican.

Faucheux did the poll for The Advocate and WWL-TV that found Edwards had a shot to win a head-to-head contest, at least he did more than a month ago.

Think of that: 77% of the voters said no to a candidate who in his last statewide race received 57% of the vote. One key to the runoff is boosting African-American turnout in New Orleans, Shreveport, and Baton Rouge. One reason I’m convinced this is doable is that Red Stick Mayor/Lt Gov candidate Kip Holden is on the ballot; in Saturday’s primary he got the third highest vote total ever for a black candidate in a Gret Stetwide race. The Edwards camp needs to commit to a major GOTV effort to reach African-American voters. Hopefully, the Democratic Governor’s Association will help with that since they’re sending staff and other assistance to the candidate.

On the issues there are things not to like about JBE. He’s pro-gun, pro-life, and opposed to marriage equality. BUT he’s not fanatical on any of these subjects and favors medicaid expansion, an increase in the minimum wage, and is ready, willing, and able to stand up for public education. In his capacity as House minority leader Edwards has been a consistent critic of Governor PBJ. The word I’ve been using to describe him is persuadable. Is he perfect? Hell no, but the chance to take down Bitter Vitter is making my legs feel all tingly. Ruh roh, I’m sounding like Tweety. I must retrieve my lost decorum, not that I ever had any…

It’s going to be an ugly campaign. Vitter will trot out his patented “OBAMA, OBAMA, OBAMA,” meme but it remains to be seen how well that will work in a state election with the Obama era coming to an end. The good news is that the Edwards camp has its own whipping boy “JINDAL, JINDAL, JINDAL.” Polls show that PBJ is less popular than the President in Louisiana. There are indications that a JBE=BHO ad helped Edwards by perking up the ears of black voters who hadn’t heard of him.

The ad wars are going to be dominated by “character” issues. I’m not usually a fan of that approach BUT Edwards is a squeaky clean West Pointer and retired army officer who has been talking about how he continues to live by the honor code. In contrast, Vitter is a human toxic waste dump who is widely hated throughout the state. Yes, I said hated, not disliked. To know him is to loathe him.

One group of voters to watch are the people who voted for Lt. Gov Jay Dardenne the most moderate of the major GOP candidates. Dardenne got 15% of the vote and has stated that he won’t endorse anyone. But some of his top aides have come out in support of Edwards and a poll shows that 70% of Dardenne’s voters dislike Vitter. No shocker there. Additionally, the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association has endorsed Edwards. It sends a signal to undecided voters who get queasy at the thought of Governor Vitter that JBE isn’t an Adrastos liberal. It’s a big deal.

As to Scott Grievous Angelle, it will be interesting to see what the third place candidate does. His appeal was to right-wing Republicans but he went all in on attacking Vitter; talking about the stench Vitter would bring to state guvmint if elected. Since Angelle is a politician, it’s possible that he might play the party loyalty card and endorse Vitter. In that case, he’d have a lot of explaining do since his anti-Vitter teevee ads seriously damaged Diaper Dave’s cause. My hunch is that Angelle will endorse neither candidate. We shall see.

This is turning out to be the most exciting Gret Stet Goober race since 1991’s race from hell between Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer, and David Duke. The dynamics are very different but that race was a barnburner and this one is too.

Speaking of Sheriffs, I’ll give our new best friend Newell Normand the last word:

Normand, still indignant during an interview with The Advocate on Monday, said he had in fact met with Vitter for more than an hour to discuss law enforcement issues, although he said it was not an entirely cordial exchange.

Normand said he told Vitter that the latter “would be the worst governor in the history of the state of Louisiana.”

“I’ve been straight up, brutally honest with this man,” Normand said, likening Vitter to “a 5-year-old in the sandbox.”

“I haven’t done anything against him other than endorse (Lt. Gov.) Jay Dardenne. As a taxpaying citizen, I’m offended by the fact that he’s got people videotaping folks that I’m having coffee with.”

Normand also alluded to the prostitution rumors that have dogged Vitter since 2007 and popped up intermittently during the campaign.

“Unlike in the prostitution case, why don’t you tell us what your sin is?” Normand said, referring to Vitter’s admission to committing a “very serious sin” after his phone number appeared in the records of the D.C. Madam. “What did you direct (Frenzel’s firm) to do?”

I may have to consider revoking his malaka of the week emeritus status if he keeps this up.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Frankie Stein and his Ghouls

Monsters were all the rage in the mid-1960’s. The Universal classics were playing on late late shows on local teevee stations and the Addams Family and the Munsters were on ABC. Frankie Stein and his Ghouls were a rather successful attempt by Power Records to cash in on the trend. Here’s how Wallace McBride at the Collinsport Historical Society described it:

The music of Frankie Stein and his Ghouls is cooler than it has any right to be. Between 1964 and 1965, the “band” cranked out no fewer than five full-length albums. By all rights these records should have been little more than white noise, the kind of generic elevator music that blared from teenage radios in movies and television whenever the producers didn’t feel like ponying up the dough for a legitimate song.

But there’s something special about the Frankie Stein series. Something surprisingly focused, haunting and aggressive. Which has led fans to sometimes speculate about the identities of the anonymous musicians that made of the ersatz band. If Frankie Stein was a real person, he’s been suspiciously quiet in the years since his band’s albums were hastily released. And there might be a good reason for it, if even a fraction of the rumors about the musicians involved with this project are true.

The “Frankie Stein” albums were released by Power Records, a subsidiary of the children’s specialty label Peter Pan Records. Power would later strike a chord with its young audience during the ‘70s when it licensed movie, television and comic book properties for its famous “book and record” sets. Years earlier, though, it was still struggling to find an identity, which lead the company to create some … unusual products.

I didn’t remember the name Frankie Stein and his Ghouls but I recall the music. It’s the sort of instrumental pop-rock music you’d hear on teevee shows of that era only with mildly spooky sound effects and wacky voices added to the mix. I wish Frankie Stein would come out into the light and reveal his true identity unless, that is, he’d melt as a result.

I give you three-count ’em three-album covers including one after the break:

Ghouls-one

Ghoul Music

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The Pre-Palin GOP Was a Scholar’s Paradise, and Other Lies We Tell Children

Bill Daley, attempting to let Republicans off the hook by complaining about those filthy Republican voters: 

Calling the current GOP primary “carnival-like,” Daley said the party had a chance to right itself after Palin’s “blatant lack of competence and preparedness” became apparent and contributed to the collapse of the McCain campaign.

“What’s critical is that substantive, serious Republican leaders either wouldn’t or couldn’t declare, before or after the election: ‘This is not what our party stands for. We can and must do better,’” Daley wrote.

“Once McCain put Palin on the ticket, Republican ‘grown-ups,’ who presumably knew better, had to bite their tongues. But after the election, when they were free to speak their minds, they either remained quiet or abetted the dumbing-down of the party,” he continued. “They stood by as Donald Trump and others noisily pushed claims that Obama was born in Kenya. And they gladly rode the Tea Party tiger to sweeping victories in 2010 and 2014.”

I hate to defend Sarah Palin, but I’m defending Sarah Palin. I hate to defend Donald Trump, but I’m defending Donald Trump. And I hate to defend Republican voters, but I’m defending Republican voters. Neither of them did anything but vote for their own best interests. Their own best interests were racist, dumb, petty and loud, but I’m not gonna sit here and say they don’t have a right to those interests. If that’s what they want, they get to vote for it. That gets to be what power looks like for them. THIS IS HOW IT WAS DESIGNED TO WORK. You can’t bitch that the system that got you rich is now making somebody else rich, assholes.

Sarah Palin did not make the GOP stupid. Donald Trump is not making the GOP stupid. GOP primary voters are making the GOP stupid, because stupid is what the GOP wants.

And to be honest, I don’t like the carping that once upon a time Republicans were good, principled representatives of the people. That hasn’t been true for at least six decades. (Don’t throw Lincoln and Eisenhower at me. Those people might as well have been aliens from another planet for all that they’d be able to relate to either party today.) Longing for a time when the serious and sensible Republicans were in charge is just longing for a time when Republicans hid their racism and murderous economic policy with adept use of the English language.

Oooh, Ronald Reagan would never make it through a GOP primary today? Well, isn’t that sad. Saint Ronnie would never have said gay marriage is like man-on-dog! He would have just let gay people die, quietly, by the tens of thousands, because he said nothing about the disease ravaging them. At least his silence was articulate, right?

Sarah PALIN made the GOP stupid? George W. Bush stuck our entire national dick in a bees’ nest, killed thousands of American soldiers, destabilized the entire Middle East, and none of his advisors have come up with a coherent reason why. It’s been 14 fucking years and they’re still flailing around. I don’t care how many countries girlfriend can see from her house or how silly she sounds in interviews. Exactly nobody is dead because of her.

And let’s not forget, Sarah Palin did not put herself on the GOP ticket. That decision was made by John McCain, a man whose honor is so sacred to the Republicans that they’re about to elect a guy who called him a loser.

According to Daley the Republican’s have become captives to candidates like Trump, who is thriving in a system that is built upon “opportunistic soundbites above seriousness, preparedness and intellectual heft.”

One: Captives. They are powerless in the face of their complete and total ability to not elect Trump if Trump is not what they want. Pity their weakness. They can’t help it!

Two: Seriousness and preparedness. Like that of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Feith and Wolfowitz.

Three: Heaven forfend we lack the intellectual heft of the GOP of yore. Take it away, Jesse Helms: 

All year, Peterson reported, “Helms campaign literature sounded a drumbeat of warnings about black voter-registration drives. . . . On election eve, he accused Hunt of being supported by ‘homosexuals, the labor union bosses and the crooks’ and said he feared a large ‘bloc vote.’ What did he mean? ‘The black vote,’ Helms said.” He won, 52 percent to 48 percent.

In 1990, locked in a tight race with an African American Democrat, former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, Helms aired a final-week TV ad that showed a pair of white hands crumpling a rejection letter, while an announcer said, “You needed that job and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.” Once again, he pulled through.

That is not a history to be sanitized.

(That’s DAVID FUCKING BRODER.)

Take it away, Dick Armey: 

The House majority leader, Representative Dick Armey of Texas, set off a dispute on Capitol Hill today when he referred to Representative Barney Frank, one of several openly homosexual members of Congress, as “Barney Fag.”

Mr. Armey said later that he had simply mispronounced Mr. Frank’s name.

Take it away, Trent Lott: 

At his 100th birthday party Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican leader, paid tribute to Mr. Thurmond, saying the nation ”wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years” had he won the presidency in 1948. The racially charged political firestorm over the next two weeks forced Mr. Lott to resign his leadership post.

Take it away, Norm Coleman: 

When asked about the recount and how it is affecting him personally, Coleman said he starts every day with a prayer and that he knows “God wants me to serve.” Coleman did later temper those rather immodest remarks by adding that he is not indispensable and that others can serve as well.

Boy, the pre-Palin days were a paradise of learning and ideas. If only the dumb snowbilly bitch hadn’t screwed it all up for everybody.

Schmucks.

A.

The Vitter Scandal Blotter: The Return Of Deep Blog

It was an amazing weekend in New Orleans. The Saints played a shockingly good game on the road, LSU won in a rain-soaked, muddy Tiger Stadium and is now the #4 team in the nation, and, most importantly, Democrat John Bel Edwards exceeded expectations in Saturday’s primary. As for the Senior Senator from Louisiana, he went from 45% in the polls 2 months ago to capturing only 23% of the vote. A rather poor investment for 5+ million bucks. The candidate with 100% name recognition was rejected by 77% of the voters. Two weeks ago, I would have said that Edwards had no chance to prevail in a run-off but all bets are off after his strong showing in the primary. He finished on 40% 17 points ahead of Bitter Vitter.

I’ll circle back to the results and what might come next in a follow-up post but I want to focus on Vitter’s scandals right now. I cannot resist the drama of presenting this with a Odds & Sodsy segment header as well as a DRUM ROLL.

The Vitter Scandal Blotter: I got a little ahead of myself on the Gumshoe scandal on Friday. I assumed that Vitter was targeting Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand since he’s the most powerful and popular (re-elected with 90% on Saturday) political figure in the Parish. Vitter also hails from Jefferson and has long regarded the JPSO as a stone in his shoe. It was a logical assumption but when did logic ever factor into Gret Stet politics?  I’ll let my friend Lamar White describe Team Vitter’s reaction:

A few hours after the private investigator was arrested, David Vitter issued a statement. He wanted the public to know he was not spying on Sheriff Normand. He was spying on the lawyer, John Cummings. He claimed he was spying on Cummings merely because Cummings was a donor to the Democratic candidate, John Bel Edwards. I’d suggest something else. I believe David Vitter hired and paid someone $130,000 to spy on John Cummings, a private citizen, because David Vitter is absolutely terrified about what John Cummings knows.

In the early days of my original blog, I did a bit of investigative blogging on post-K New Orleans issues. I dubbed my sources Deep Blog. In short, I did what Woodstein were suspected of: giving multiple sources one nickname. It’s time for the Return of Deep Blog. He/she/it is NOT Mark Felt. Dead men tell no tales…

Here’s the Deep Blog dish on Team Vitter’s fears. The gumshoe (I refuse to use Arthur Frenzel’s name because it’s more fun to call him that) was looking into a connection between Cummings and Jason Berry of American Zombie fame. Said gumshoe may have had some information on Berry in his possession. Deep Blog thinks that the Vitterites were trying to prove that John Cummings is paying Berry to dig into the Vitter-Hooker story. Wrong. I’ve had some differences with Jason but he is not for sale. He’s been on this story for years much like Inspector Javert searching for Jean Valjean or Sherlock Holmes going after Professor Moriarty, only his quarry was Wendy Three Names.

Deep Blog believes there may be a connection between Cummings and the World’s Only Investigative Zombie but that it’s not pecuniary in nature. That’s a fancy way of saying that Jason Berry is not for sale. Another tidbit he/she/it gave me is that the Bearden Investigative Agency in Dallas is the same firm hired by Congressman Steve Scalise to investigate Republicans running against him for majority whip. Scalise is, of course, also from Metairie in Jefferson Parish. They love digging in the dirt in suburbia, apparently.

The upside of hiring an out-of-state PI firm is deniability. It’s less likely to get back to the local powers that be. The downside is that gumshoe Frenzel didn’t see the Sheriff in the cafe with Cummings and think: ‘Holy shit. That’s Newell Fucking Normand with my target. I better skeddaddle pronto.’

Instead, Normand spotted the gumshoe who put the frenzy into Frenzel and fled. And like an Elmore Leonard character, he was found hiding behind an air-conditioning unit. Oy, just oy. This is Dewey Crowe or Dickie Bennett level dumbassery. I’ve come to believe that life not only imitates The Sopranos but Justified as well.

There’s another potential Vitter scandal on the horizon. Once again, this looks relatively comic on the surface but it *could* really bite him in his diapered derrière:

The same day that the coffee shop incident happened, David Vitter was in the area and was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz which was involved in a minor car accident. According to local sources, David Vitter was quickly whisked away in another vehicle by a staffer and the driver of the Mercedes was cited for improper lane usage.

The driver was 36-year-old Courtney Gaustella Callihan, the wife of Bill Callihan, a director at Capital One Bank. Their home address is also listed as the address for Fund for Louisiana, the Super PAC backing Vitter, according to documents filed with the FEC.

This is sleazy in so many ways. Vitter’s instinctive reaction to trouble is to run away. Deep Blog called him an “ungallant pussy” for leaving Ms. Callihan sitting on Veterans Boulevard in the heart of Metry. That, however, is a mere sideshow compared to the possibility that Vitter is consulting with the PAC that is soiling Gret Stet airwaves with negative ads most of which scream, “OBAMA, OBAMA, OBAMA.”

It is a violation of campaign laws and even the dread Citizens United ruling for candidates to co-ordinate with PACS. Team Vitter’s likely defense is: We deny it but everybody does it. Maybe so but that doesn’t make it right. This is another example of how the Vitterites seem to have lost their political mojo. I’m not sure if they’re unraveling or imploding, but they’re making a lot of stupid mistakes. This violates my long-time adage: David Vitter is an asshole but he’s one smart asshole.

I’ll have more pundity on the Gret Stet Goober race later. I hope that Deep Blog will give me more mud to sling or muck to rake as the campaign progresses. As Sherlock Holmes would surely say, the game’s afoot. Btw, I see myself as either Basil  Rathbone or Jeremy Brett, not Eggs Benedict Cummerbund. But I don’t mind being compared to another Peter:

This time Vitter might just have gone too far, gone too far, gone too far.

UPDATE: Vitter is trying to spin the gumshoe arrest story as an attempt by Normand to embarrass him. His latest lies are published in an interview with Gannett Louisiana.  I expect an eruption from Sheriff Normand any time now.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Sneaker of the Louse edition

Dang.

Boehner’s bitten the big bananna, and the Freedumb Cacusasians are finally in the driver’s seat!

Or are they?

Freedom Caucus Balks at Paul Ryan, Refuses to Endorse
breitbart.com ^ | 21 Oct 2015 | Matthew Boyle

Posted on 10/21/2015, 9:45:20 PM by 867V309

Since Ryan has failed to achieve the Freedom Caucus endorsement, the question now becomes if he will stick to his promise and drop out of contention for the Speakership.

“No,” Ryan’s spokesman Brendan Buck told Breitbart News earlier on Wednesday when asked if Ryan would follow through with a Speakership bid without an official House Freedom Caucus endorsement.

***********

Keep a promise? Don’t hold your breath.
1 posted on 10/21/2015, 9:45:20 PM by 867V309
Oh, by all means – hold your breath,
To: 867V309

Muey(sic) bueno, as Lyin’ Ryan would say after amnesty.

8 posted on 10/21/2015, 9:53:36 PM by Fungi

“Lyin’ Ryan”….now where have I heard that term before?
Oh yes – from the Democrats, in the last election!
RyanLyin
.
Are Freepers morphing into Dems?
To: 867V309

Breitbart has become a clickbait whore dead clickbait whore much like The Blaze.

Couldn’t get to the story.

Too bad.

11 posted on 10/21/2015, 9:55:37 PM by ButThreeLeftsDo (Plea$e $upport Free Republic.)

FIFY.
To: 867V309

Ryan is the best thing that has happened to the Republican party since Reagan…..to hell with the freedom nitwits.

17 posted on 10/21/2015, 10:31:26 PM by terycarl (COMMON SENSE PREVAILS OVERALL!!)

DangerClose
.
To: terycarl

“Ryan is the best thing that has happened to the Republican party since Reagan”

You need to see a doctor. Quick. There’s not much time.

23 posted on 10/21/2015, 11:20:27 PM by Mariner (War Criminal #18 – Be The Leaderless Resistance)
To: terycarl

What??? You really love your liberal, open borders traitors, don’t you?

27 posted on 10/22/2015, 12:10:26 AM by CrimsonTidegirl

That’s lyin’ liberal, open borders traitors, thank you very much.
To: 867V309

I’ll concede I was dead wrong in my prediction they would fold.I’m genuinely and pleasantly surprised.

22 posted on 10/21/2015, 11:17:29 PM by Mariner (War Criminal #18 – Be The Leaderless Resistance)
You know what’s coming up, don’t you?

Freedom Caucus Majority Backs Paul Ryan for House Speaker NY Times ^ | 10-21-15 | DAVID M. HERSZENHORN and EMMARIE HUETTEMAN Posted on 10/21/2015, 10:53:26 PM by afraidfortherepublic

A strong majority of anti-establishment conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus voted on Wednesday night to support Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin for House speaker, assuring that he will have the votes to secure the post next week and averting a leadership crisis for Republicans.

Mr. Ryan indicated that he was prepared to seize the gavel and try to bring unity to his party, which has been riven over how House leaders exert authority over members. That fight had become so bitter that it forced the resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner and derailed the candidacy of the majority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy, to replace him.

“I’m grateful for the support of a supermajority of the House Freedom Caucus,” Mr. Ryan said in a statement, referring to the two-thirds vote he received.

The apparent coalescing of support behind Mr. Ryan, 45, comes at a critical moment for Congress, with votes expected to begin as soon as next week over raising the government’s borrowing authority, the first of several pressing fiscal matters.

1 posted on 10/21/2015, 10:53:26 PM by afraidfortherepublic
GunInMouth2
.
To: afraidfortherepublic

Then I guess the Freedom Caucus isn’t all that conservative.

3 posted on 10/21/2015, 10:57:08 PM by fatnotlazy

To: afraidfortherepublic

next under the FR bus; the freedom caucus.

4 posted on 10/21/2015, 10:58:15 PM by JohnBrowdie (http://forum.stink-eye.net)

You know, Freepers – it’s getting REALLY crowded under there.
Just sayin’….
And then, just when the Freeperati are sinking into their well-deserved depression, one of their own pours gasoline on the fire – right after this non-commercial break!
.
(said break which I forgot to put in, allowing my post to take up the entire front page – mea culpa!)

Continue reading

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Wisconsin State Legislators (I Mean Their Photos) For Sale

Today in unintendedly hilarious things newspapers do on the Internet:

The Wisconsin State Journal, like many newspapers, offers its photos for sale, for people who want prints of what appears in the paper. But they’ve done this by adding a “BUY NOW” link under every photo. Every. Photo.

Including shots of elected officials.

12049602_10206368050212621_5633505242233259365_n

Inadvertent fail in attempt to make some quick cash or subtle statement on political corruption? We report, you decide.

Hat tip: Mr. A.

A.

Nobody Understands the Internet

Answer 50 survey questions to continue reading this article about a house fire in your neighborhood! 

As Tim Brown of IDEO eloquently puts it, “Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.” Having failed to apply design thinking at the outset of our online publishing journey, we as creators of experiences have built the mess we face now. Advertisers are so fixated on blasting through the noise and publishers are so desperate to monetize that they haven’t noticed just how bad this whole experience has become for the people who matter most — their audiences.

Over and over, newspaper companies who now try to call themselves media companies make it clear just how much they hate their customers. Their sites are slow, they’re resource hogs, they’re unattractive, there’s zero or profoundly depressing mobile integration. Pretty much all they’re good at is writing wanktastic editorials about being DIGITAL FIRST, editorials which are usually a laundry list of ways they’re shafting paying customers to get away with making job cuts. And they expect their audience to not only buy into this bullshit, but to thank them for it.

Design like you give a damn. I think it’s that simple for us, too. We’re turning off our audiences because we haven’t stopped for a second to truly consider what they see, feel, and experience. People don’t like to be tracked, interrupted, duped, slowed down. But we’re not listening to them, so why do we expect them to listen to us?

I don’t think your readers have to dictate your every move. But you do have to know — which means you have to research — who they are and what they want from you. Then you have to give it to them in such a way that they find it easy to love you.

Contrast that with putting up surveys that covers the most mediocre content (I’ll jump through some hoops, people gotta eat, but not for a badly written story about a committee meeting) or loud autoplay videos, or menus that don’t stick or make no damn sense, or search functions that are a joke, or Twitter feeds that never update, or headlines that are misleading (everything is a BREAKING EXCLUSIVE), or paywalls blocking stuff that’s found for free on other sites (Google exists, people). Those aren’t the actions of news organizations that want their stories read. Those are the desperate flails of the completely clueless, and all the editorials in the world about how it’s secretly good for you morons if only you’d come to Digital Paradigm Jesus are not going to convince people otherwise.

The saddest thing is that newspapers could have learned this from studying newspapers. Newspaper companies spent the late 1990s and early 2000s hemorrhaging customers because they couldn’t market themselves or distribute sensibly. Couldn’t get it on the porch, couldn’t fill boxes in places that were necessary and overfilled where it was pointless, staffed circulation with minimum-wagers who couldn’t breathe and think at the same time.

In other words, nobody knew about the paper, and if they somehow found out about it, they couldn’t find it. It was designed to be distributed without the audience in mind. Just like every newspaper web site ever.

A.

Last Chance to Pre-Order the First Draft Book!

Our Kickstarter ends tomorrow morning, so get your book on!

Thanks to everybody who’s contributed so far. I’m proud of this blog for lots of stuff, like how often we work “shitbird” into general conversation and how many times we’ve told politicians to suck it, but what I love the most is our ability to do the things we want to do. Instead of just sitting around and bitching, we make things happen. You’re all fantastic.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Etta James Live At The Newport Jazz Festival

Here’s the great Etta James and her crack band live in 1991:

Jeb Bush Has Better Things To Do

Dead people, shmead people, why you gotta be so rude? 

“If this election is about how we’re going to fight to get nothing done,” Mr. Bush said, then “I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives. That is not my motivation.” He added, “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.”

Jeb Bush has other stuff he’d rather be doing. He isn’t going to put up with you being mean to him! If all you’re going to do is be mean by pointing out that his brother upfucked the whole world, you should forget about Jeb doing you the favor of working for you, because Jeb has tennis lessons to get to, or bread to bake, or something.

That’s how important being president is to Jeb: If he has to be inconvenienced in any way, he will fuck right off back to Texas and clear brush with his brother, or play backgammon, or whatever he thinks is a “cool thing” to do. That’s how much he believes in the rightness of his vision for the country: So much that if there is a mean tweet he is OUTTA HERE.

I can see this argument having a lot of sway with voters, especially people who’ve been laid off from their jobs or who need health care and can’t get it, or whose kids have lead poisoning or malnutrition in the year of Our Lord Baby Jesus 2015. I can see a lot of people working long hours coming home, turning on the TV, seeing Jeb talk about all the “cool things” he’d rather be doing.

“You go, Jeb,” they would say, opening their stacks of past-due bills and trying not to think about how the youngest kid would need braces next year. “Why should you put with people saying you are a tool, just to run the entire country?”

That’s such an unreasonable sacrifice, by the way. You just want to run the entire free world, which is not that big of a job. You just want to lead 50 different states of varying degrees of richness and beauty, so why should you put up with somebody saying that you maybe are not the best person for that role? Why should you tolerate that kind of risk, for so little reward?

A.