Saturday Odds & Sods: Crazy Man Michael

9908CJLaughlinNeverland

Finding Neverland by Clarence John Laughlin.

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

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

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

Here’s a solo acoustic version by RT:

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

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

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

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

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

<SNIP>

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

<SNIP>

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

<SNIP>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SDP Gang of Four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruz meme

 

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