Monthly Archives: January 2017

Let Me Make This Easy for You, Democrats

No.

Really? Still? We’re still doing this? It’s 2017. We’re fully more than a decade past the time when Democrats, eager to take the high road and do the right thing and be patriotic and put country before party, sucked George W. Bush’s strap-on and were rewarded for their decency by having the war hero they nominated for president derided as a commie faggot peace-freak appeaser. We jus spent eight years in which a Democratic president gave weekly speeches about nonexistent well-meaning Republicans who just disagreed on policy while they howled outside his windows burning him in effigy. And we’re still gonna do the right thing?

WHY?

I mean it, God, why? So rich fucks like Richard Blumenthal can look at themselves in the mirror and talk to their reflections about how they tried, or something? So they can feel good about themselves? So they can say they did the “right thing” as defined by some centrist think tank as its members hump the status quo like their lives depend on it? So they don’t ruffle any feathers on the half-plucked chicken we’ve placed in the executive branch? So that maybe next time they’ll get a freebie? How stupid are these people?

Let me explain this for everybody, the fucking club of the most of them, that just got here on the last bus out of Idiotville. Let me tell you what will happen if Democrats hold hearings and confirm this guy. Let’s imagine they do that, and somehow we all survive the next four years and come out alive, and it’s a Democratic president in that chair the next time. And maybe Ruth Bader Ginsberg or one of the other 400-year-old people decides to pack it in. Let me lay out for you what happens next.

In payment for Democrats being so nice and good, and voting to confirm this suit filled with cockroaches to the highest court in the land, Republicans will make the next Democratic nominee into the biggest screaming pinko terrorist butt-buddy to ever walk the earth. They will portray that person, most likely a semi-conservative career prosecutor or the like, as a grave threat to the Republic and come up with endless rationales for delaying and finally denying his or her confirmation, and after they do that they’ll take victory laps at CPAC so the frog-fuckers who vote for them can shower them with praise for saving the land.

That will be your reward, Democrats, for “doing the right thing” by Republicans. Would that any of you were half as interested in doing the right thing by your constituents, or by America. Would that you felt as strongly about doing the right thing for us. Would that that kept you up at night.

Schmucks.

A.

Save One

We are arguing about how much of the house is on fire, with the refugee/immigrant ban. We are arguing closet versus attic versus living room, instead of picking up a damn bucket and putting the fire out:

President Trump and his aides love to cite a small number and a big number in order to minimize the impact of the president’s executive order suspending the visas of citizens of seven countries.

But these figures are incredibly misleading, so let’s go through the math.

Let’s not, because it doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care if this executive order affected one person.  I don’t care if this hadn’t affected ANYONE yet. In no possible world are any of our laws tested constitutionally based on how many people they affect. That’s not the measurement. That’s not the qualifier. You don’t get to say well, we only screwed over a dozen immigrant kids, so until we get to triple digits we’re cool. That’s not how any of this works.

Our laws were not designed to save as many as possible. Our laws were designed to save us all, and that means saving one. One person. One child. One family. One mother or father or brother or sister. Our laws were designed to weigh us all, one against the other, and say no one of us is worth more than any of the others.

It’s why our presidents, our congressmen, are subject to our laws. It’s why you can bring suit against those holding the highest offices in the land. It’s why you and I can — or should be able to — avail ourselves of the same legal system as someone who got here last week.

And that includes potential terrorists, for all the wingnuts in the cheap seats. I know you all think life is a nonstop episode of 24 and if President Trump doesn’t personally electrode a Syrian dude’s balls in the Roosevelt Room then we’ll all die in a nuclear attack, but a) that is not how anything is going to happen and b) at no point would such a scenario be endangered by said Syrian dude invoking a right to counsel. If Trump is hooking jumper cables to his nethers he’s already figured out that nobody can hear him scream.

Meanwhile, the non-terrorist families that just want to come here, get jobs, spend money at the local Wal-Mart and watch American TV are going to get handcuffed and deported back to the places we explicitly encouraged them to flee, and you’ll pardon me if I don’t want to wait until they’re a certain percentage of travelers or if they’re especially promising at geometry or any of the other bullshit narratives that have sprung up in the past 72 (holy shit, only 72) hours.

They’re human beings, and we are America. Let’s not go through the math.

A.

Bannon’s B3 Brownshirts & The Chaos Principle

It’s official: Donald Trump had the worst first week of any President* in American history. It was so bad that I debated with a friend as to whether he was already the worst ever. I still think it’s too early to tell since Buchanan and W are responsible for wars and economic calamity. Trump hasn’t passed Andrew Johnson either BUT he’s building a strong case for worst ever and he’s only been at it for 10 days. I don’t think our cause benefits from hyperbole and overstatement. You can only fight lies with the truth and delusion with reality.

I admitted the other day to knowing very little about higher maths. I have, however, heard of the Chaos Principle:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on.

It looks like Steve Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts are inspired by the Chaos Principle, at least by analogy. Team Trump is trying to inject so much chaos and confusion into our polity that repression will be required to maintain order. I seriously doubt if the Insult Comedian himself has such a plan: all he ever does is wing it without thought to the implications. Bannon, however, has emerged as first among equals in the West Wing. He’s capable of complex, devious, and downright evil thought. Bannon has Trump’s ear and the Dear Leader Wannabe seems to agree with the last person he spoke to.

In short, Bannon and his fellow white nationalists want to create the circumstances in which a right-wing revolution is possible. Those circumstances do not currently exist. Bitching about the government is as American as apple pie, it doesn’t amount to instant homegrown fascism. That is definitely a long-term threat but we have the mechanisms to stop it: people power and lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. Political courage on the part of elected officials seems to be in short supply but the longer this constitutional crisis lasts the bolder they will become. Talk of collaboration with the Trumpers has become much less common since they came to power.

The good news is that Team Trump’s Muslim ban was issued without co-ordination with the agencies obliged to enforce it and they didn’t even run it by their own lawyers. That makes it eminently susceptible to legal challenge. It was, apparently, pulled out of Rudy Noun Verb 9/11’s ass:

I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up and said, “Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis. Not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

That is, of course, nonsense. The order discriminates against people because of their religion, and all the lies in the world won’t change that. The fact that an exception was made for Christians from the affected countries is proof of discriminatory intent as is Giuliani’s need to brag about his role in the ban. He’s really turning into his master. Giuliani’s success in masterminding the Comey coup has gone to his head, and he was already a raging egomaniac. This is terrific evidence for the legal eagles to pounce on. Thanks, Rudy. I can imagine Justice Anthony Kennedy’s head spinning as I write this. I am as likely to vote Republican as he is to uphold this executive order if it reaches SCOTUS.

This policy is based on Islamophobic fantasies, not reality. That’s a recurring theme for Team Trump’s Bannon wing. In addition to the Chaos Principle, they believe in what one might call the Goebbels corollary: the bigger the lie, the more believable it is. This is propaganda, not spin. The MSM is finally showing signs of coming to grips with that. It’s a pity that they didn’t do so during the late campaign. The MSM and the “Clinton is just as bad as Trump” crowd bear a lot of responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in. I hope the Steiners and Busters enjoyed the events of this weekend. They have a share of the blame. I may “Nazi punch” the next purity troll who tells me their vote didn’t matter because they were in a red state or some other lame excuse. Every vote in every election matters.

The Trumpers have clearly overreached. The order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council is the best example I can think of. That body has been moribund for many years BUT excluding the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sends a dangerous signal that Steve Bannon is running the show. It doesn’t get much worse than that but the order’s impact is symbolic for now. For now. That’s always the rub with this crowd.

One thing I’ve noticed about Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts is that they admire Soviet-style tactics. They’ve done some things that Stalin would have applauded such as placing what amounts to “political commissars” at cabinet departments and agencies. This sort of convergence of the far left and extreme right doesn’t surprise me at all.  This creeping Sovietism/Putinism is also reflected by their Holocaust remembrance day proclamation. It’s the first time an American administration has referred to the Holocaust without mentioning Jews. They’re pandering to the Holocaust denialists and minimizers. What’s next? An invitation for Davids Irving and Duke to visit the White House? Nothing would surprise me in the Chaos Principle era.

The one piece of advice I have for the nascent anti-Trump movement is to pace yourselves. The world is a complicated place and it cannot be changed in a day. This is going to be a long, hard slog and burn-out is a risk. Make sure to do whatever it is you do for fun It’s a lesson that New Orleanians learned during the post-Katrina/Federal Flood era. We were widely criticized for having Carnival in 2006. We knew better. It was necessary for our collective mental health. We continued rebuilding and pressuring the local, state, federal government for assistance but we took time out to enjoy life. It’s something that we can teach the rest of the country. There *is* a constitutional crisis now but stopping it won’t be helped by freaking out. Instead of freaking out: become better informed about American political history, and organize, organize, organize.

Vive les Maquis.

Your President* Speaks: The Trump Torture Challenge

There’s so much going on right now that I almost don’t know to begin. In the spirit of the Insult Comedian, I lied about that. It seems to be contagious, y’all. We begin with a brief post followed by a longer one later in the day. Uh oh, I’m speaking in the third person. Can I blame it on watching  Victoria or The Crown? Why the hell not: Trump does impulsive shit whilst watching teevee, so why not me?

The Trump Torture Challenge:  In between whining about bad press coverage and causing chaos at the nation’s airports, Trump has been talking torture. He likes it and he thinks it works. I think he learned this from 24. He does not, however, think that waterboarding is torture:

“So, waterboarding used to be used because they said it really wasn’t torture,” Trump told Hannity. “It was the one step slightly below torture. That’s why waterboarding…”

Hannity jumped in to say, “That’s why it was legal.”

“I mean, torture is real torture, okay?” Trump continued. “Waterboarding is — I’m sure it’s not pleasant, but waterboarding was just short of torture.”

The President added that he has spoken to people who said “absolutely it works.”

If it’s merely unpleasant, I hereby challenge the Current Occupant to undergo waterboarding. He *was* willing to subject the nutria pelt atop his head to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

It would be all manly and shit if he clambered to the top of Trump Tower and got waterboarded. You claim it’s not torture, prove it, Donald.

It’s time for some lagniappe in a segment I call,

Delta Ate My Homework: Twitter is where the Insult Comedian pitches his public toddler tantrums and searches for scapegoats. He was at it again this morning:

He should try blaming Russian hackers. People *might* believe that. Of course, his BFF Vlad would not like that one bit. And Trump has gotta dance with the ones who brung him to the White House. It’s hard to imagine him dancing with Comey who is a tall motherfucker but Putin is the right size to tango with Trump.

That concludes this edition of Your President* Speaks.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – best laid plans edition

Good Monday morning, sane people!

The insane people are going full speed ahead – right into the rocks.

First of all, from my home State –  “Sheriffs are elected??  Who knew???”

Sheriff Sally Hernandez responds to Gov. Abbott’s threats

kvue.com ^ | Jan. 26, 2017 | kvue

Posted on ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2017‎ ‎10‎:‎48‎:‎48‎ ‎AM by bgill

Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott informed Hernandez in a three-page letter that her ICE policy would betray her oath to residents of Travis County. He also added that failing to remove the policy before it is enacted on Feb. 1 would run the county the risk of losing grant money from the Criminal Justice Division.

Abbott upped the ante Wednesday by telling Fox News Wednesday that he is working with lawmakers to create legislation that would include civil and criminal penalties for public officials wanting to create sanctuary cities.

Hernandez responded Thursday that she would continue on with her policy because it does not go against the state or federal laws.

**************

Sheriff Sally Hernandez responds to Gov. Abbott’s threats

This is the county where uber lib Austin, TX is. There’s 1.8 million in state funds on the table. It’s only 1% of the sheriff’s budget but it’s still a chunk of money.Hope Abbott find s a way to place her inside a cell in her own county jail.

1 posted on ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2017‎ ‎10‎:‎48‎:‎48‎ ‎AM by bgill
And then rape her, I suppose?
To: bgill 

Deport the b*tch.

That’s you simpletons’ answer to everything, isn’t it? Besides, isn’t her childhood home in Llano county right next door? Unless you mean to Czechoslovakia…..

sallyhernandez

This is America. We have laws. Providing sanctuary to criminals is not one of them.

9 posted on ‎1‎/‎27‎/‎2017‎ ‎10‎:‎53‎:‎59‎ ‎AM by FlingWingFlyer (As long as tyranny exists, the Constitution and Bill of Right will never be “outdated” or “obsolete”)

One Freeper has caught the “I can do anything I want even if it’s not constitutionally in my power” bug:
To: bgill

Gov can fire her for insubordination.

3 posted on 1‎/‎27‎/‎2017‎ ‎10‎:‎50‎:‎36‎ ‎AM by Col Frank Slade

Another Freeper has to point out that that’s not how it works:
To: Col Frank Slade

Sherrifs(sic) are elected.

15 posted on 1‎/‎27‎/‎2017‎ ‎10‎:‎55‎:‎48‎ ‎AM by fruser1

Who knew???
And, in the Unintentional Irony department:
To: Puppage

you can SEE the stupid on some people…

26 posted on 1‎/‎27‎/‎2017‎ ‎11‎:‎12‎:‎07‎ ‎AM by Mr. K ( Trump kicked her ass 2-to-1 if you remove all the voter fraud.)

…which is why I have this gig.
.
More stupid below the fold….
.

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Let the Word Ring Forth

Now senators, congressman, please heed the call:

Week one.

 

 

There are all these things it’s important to remember, like how standing up is always better than sitting still and speaking is always better than staying quiet, like how there are more of us than there are of them, like how no despot or tyrant has ever held a whole people by force of arms against their will forever, like how surviving isn’t the goal but saving very definitely is.

But this is perhaps the most important thing to remember now, when things are so crazy that between my beginning to write this and ending it four more insane stories have come out about our federal government:

This isn’t all on us.

There are people we have elected, we have hired, we have chosen, to do a job here, and they are NOT DOING IT. They are sitting by while an unhinged neofascist and the man-baby figurehead he controls are attempting to destroy every strength this country has.

Republicans are sitting by, and it’s hard not to shrug and say of course they are. They’ve put party before country for more than a decade now. But they are sitting by while this happens and it’s important to remember that. They have a choice here. We shouldn’t let them off the hook just because they made the bullshit craven one we thought they’d make.

Democrats are sitting by, the club of the most of them, and for the life of me I can’t tell if it’s because they’re stunned by the pace of the insanity (PAY ATTENTION) or if they’re trying to figure out where to fire first but listen, if thousands of protesters can show up in airports and find places to park and figure it out, then surely our congressmen and women can huddle up and come up with an opposition plan that goes beyond deploring the tone in the room.

It’s important to remember that this is their job not in order to let ourselves off the hook but to put them on it. They have to be reminded. They have to be held to account for what they’ve done and not done. They have to present a united, coherent, effective opposition to every single thing Donald Trump and his ten-a-penny fascisti come up with, every time.

It’s important to remember that this is their job, one way or another, because if we remember that now, we stand a better chance of remembering it in the next election. In the next election, there are going to be a lot of excuses made for why Trump was unstoppable, why the chaos just occurred, why the horrific DC custom of behaving oneself at the cocktail party was more important than American values or American lives. And it’s important to remember that those excuses are bullshit.

Know that they are. Know that this could be stopped by the people in power. March in the streets knowing that they could make those marches unnecessary and choose not to do so. Remember the ones who march with you. Remember the ones who stayed home. Support the former.

AND VOTE THE LATTER OUT.

A.

Three or, A List of Things, In No Particular Order, My Daughter Says Now

“Up. Up. Up. UP. UP. UUUUUUUUUUP.” This is her morning greeting and my daily alarm clock. With the exception of an 18-month sleep regression that almost killed us all, Kick has always been a championship sleeper. She has never once, however, climbed out of her crib. She stays in there, yelling in increasing volume, until she’s fetched from it, and as much as sometimes I would love for her to just get up and get dressed and make her own damn breakfast for once, most days I get out of bed smiling at the steady increase in volume and exasperation.

“That doesn’t sound right.” This is an all-purpose phrase for declining anything she doesn’t want to do, from putting her toys away to eating her dinner to getting out of the bath. It has the effect of making me laugh, whereas her previous go-to, a loud NO followed by screaming, got her a time-out and a discussion about what exactly deserves to be made a federal case in this house. While I’m laughing at the airy detachment with which she interrogates even the most mundane request, she gets to keep playing, so it’s an effective temporary tactic if not a permanent one.

“Come on, guys.” This is always either directed at her plastic animals and dinosaurs when they are being recalcitrant, or at the football players on the TV to whom Dad has just said something very rude.

“I’m going to work.” She gets up sometimes, from playing, and puts on her sunglasses and picks up a Hello Kitty bucket in which she shoves some random collection of plastic toys, and bids me adieu as she saunters down the hall. Working mom guilt is bullshit, but it is real bullshit, and that she sees it as normal for her tiny little female self to have a job assuages some of it.

Some.

“I want to be alone right now.” I suggested she say this as a polite alternative after she told me to “go away” while she played with her toys. Kick has always needed her space. Even as a newborn, she would get overstimulated and only calm down when put down in her bassinet by the window, where she could watch the birds and catch her breath. She hugs and cuddles on her terms, for a few moments, and then is off again, completely at home in her skin.

“Whose streets? Our streets!” She picked that one up at the Women’s March last weekend in Chicago. Kick’s an easygoing child, and generally willing to be dragged along on whatever trip Mom and Dad were taking anyway. She’s spent a lot of time in the car driving to various relatives’ and friends’, she loves street festivals and anything outdoors and loud, so seeing the weather was balmy we determined to all go protest as a family.

Someone asked us at a party once what our “parenting philosophy” was, and I said something like, “we are hoping to keep her from electrocuting herself until we can send her to college.” An only slightly expanded version is this: We will do stuff on the assumption that she can handle it, and preserve an escape route in case she can’t. An acquaintance, seeing her picture as she reveled in the experience, wondered if she “really” understood what the march was about or what was happening.

Of course she didn’t.

A good friend, while I was publicly fretting about one of Kick’s feral, stabby phases, described parenting preschoolers as “creating norms” and I’ve been relaxed ever since she said it, like the job is not to control their behavior but to show them what normal behavior is. At this age, you are building muscle memory. They are saying please and thank you because it gets them what they want and makes you happy, not because they understand the network of underlying social conventions that make up humanity. They refrain from hitting or biting not out of profound empathy but because the last time they did that you subjected them to a severe talking-to and took away a stuffy.

And normal behavior when confronted with injustice has to be to confront it right back. Nothing weakens you like thinking you are powerless, and she will never be powerless. She can be whatever she wants, except that.

The older she gets, the more aware I am of the ways in which the world is designed to hurt her. When she was tiny and fragile, it was cold and sickness I feared. As she grew, it was sidewalks and slides and jungle gyms and anything else that would bruise or scrape her. Now, now that she walks with confidence and runs with joyous abandon and plays with curiosity and focus, I turn my attention to all the discouraging things people say.

The things people say when you’re a girl: “Get your shotgun, Dad.” All the things people say when you’re young.”The teenage years are going to be tough!”All the worries and the drags and the “oh, she’s not doing this yet?” I turn my attention to those things because the other day at dinner Mr. A and I were discussing something to do with her preschool and she turned to us and said, “Are you talking about me?”

We used to be able to have whole conversations, even arguments, about her without her ever catching on. Now she notices and she knows, and she says it right back.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: The Curse Of The Petrie People

Our tribute to Mary Tyler Moore continues with this episode of her first classic sitcom:

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The Line

Rivera

Man at the Crossroads by Diego Rivera.

The image you see above began life as a joke at a rich man’s expense. Nelson Rockefeller commissioned the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera to do a fresco at Rockefeller Center. Big mistake: Rivera was not only a lefty, he was a Communist. If you take a closer look at the image you can see Lenin, Trotsky, and Karl Marx among the figures. The future Governor of New York was not amused and had the mural destroyed. Mercifully for art lovers, Rivera had a friend take pictures of the Rocky mocking work. He later did a second version in Mexico City. Take that, Rocky. There’s a lesson in this story for our times even if Rocky’s politics weren’t as odious as those of the Insult Comedian.

This January is a time for sad songs. End Of The Line is a rock torch song. It was written by Bryan Ferry for Roxy Music’s brilliant 1975 album Siren. I listened to Siren obsessively during the bleakest time of my life and it helped me get through it. Thanks, Roxy.

We begin with the studio version; sung by Ferry as if his heart was ripped out of his chest. It’s followed by a swell but less overtly emotional 1993 cover by Concrete Blonde:

I’ve also been known to sing End Of The Line under my breath when taking the bus or streetcar downtown to Canal Street, which is the you know what. I don’t think I’ve been caught in the act but ya never know. I suppose this is as good time as any to insert the break thingamabob. See you on the other side.

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“Fuck You Nation” – National Edition

A year or two back, I coined the term “Fuck You Nation” to capture the general sense of how people in this country were tending to treat one another. The argument at the time was that when it came to the rise of Donald Trump, the mistrust of the media and the general sense of political discord, people were less “pro” something and more “fuck you” toward people they saw as “the opposition.” At the core of the argument was a general sense of self-righteousness, absolute certainty and an overwhelming sense of anger and bile.

If President Trump’s first week in office is any indication, I might soon need to patent that term and put it on T-Shirts. That, of course, presupposes we all survive long enough to have shirts printed and that the First Amendment isn’t outlawed.

“ALTERNATIVE FACTS:” We used to call these things “lies” or “bullshit” but now we have a whole new term. For fronting a party that hates politically correct language, Kellyanne Conway is doing a great job of coming up with some of her own. In defending Sean Spicer’s argument that the crowds at Trump’s inauguration were record-breaking and larger than Obama’s, she said it’s clear that Spicer just used “alternative facts.” In other words, “I see that you are saying X by supporting it with all sorts of information, but clearly it isn’t within my narrative, so I’m going to just tell you that you are wrong because the public has the attention span of a meth-addled squirrel.” In short, “Fuck you and your faggy little reliance on facts. REAL AMERICANS KNOW BETTER!”

We are so close to changing the national anthem from the “Star-Spangled Banner” to Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me.”
“OPPOSITION PARTY:” Steve Bannon, who seems to be sporting the “probable cause” look, granted an interview to the NY Times this week in which he told the paper that the media is “the opposition party.” He also said the media needs to keep its mouth shut,” something that is not only grammatically incorrect but runs counter to the whole purpose of the media.

Bannon’s case is a simple one and it rests at the core of Fuck You Nation: We won, you lost, so go fuck off for a while. He relies on the narrative that reeks of populism and group-based conflict studies: Demonstrate superiority, cite things in an authoritative way without providing documentation, rally support within your group through glittering generalities and call into question the motives of people who disagree with you, rather than focusing on the disagreement. Perhaps most reflective of all these elements is a single quote:

“The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong,” Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it “a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there.”

Bannon’s quote ignores key elements of reality (the popular vote, the media weren’t running for anything) and uses a single fact to create an overreaching singular reality (Donald Trump won the presidency, ergo all things he said are clearly 100 percent right and should be supported by this nation.)

In short, “Fuck you and your whiny bullshit. Shut up and get out of our way while we fix things.”

“GASLIGHTING:” During the past nine years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes the asshole in my department tick. His ability to manipulate reality to fit his needs, rely on rules one minute while discarding them the next and the absolute certainty in which he took positions I knew were wrong fascinated me. I’d never dealt with someone like this and I had to understand it. About three years ago or so, I came across the book, “The Gaslight Effect” by Robin Stern. I remember reading through it and thinking, “Holy shit, this is a real thing. I’m not going crazy.”

Gaslighting is now the hot term and it has come to represent an “Emperor has no clothes” moment for the Left. However, it’s a lot more complicated than ego, manipulation or trying to create the Fourth or Fifth Reich (whichever we’re on now…). Gaslighting is both psychological manipulation and unyielding abuse that removes an individual’s sense of self and crushes the human spirit for another person’s selfish gains.

In a psychological sense, this is easy to understand, as manipulation, groupthink and other concepts have been studied for decades. Asch’s seminal work on conformity makes it easy enough to see what happens when something that appears so real and obvious to one person is contradicted repeatedly by others. Sane people tend to want to “see it from another point of view” or “avoid upsetting the apple cart” to the point of subjugating their own (accurate) reality to that of others. In other words, when Line B is clearly the longest, you still want to figure out why it is that everyone else in the group (all confederates for the experiment) is picking Line A. Eventually, like Picard, you come really close to saying there are Five Lights.

This leads to the second part (crushing opposition) and it is why the lines about voter fraud and crowd sizes are so scary. If people are willing to go against all present data to agree with an obvious lie, what happens when the stakes are higher? Say, a border fence? Or a war?

The problem with the Gaslighting Effect is that those who use it will never admit they are wrong. They might eventually give up the topic or change strategies on it, but they’ll never say, “Yep, you got me there!” A perfect example of this came yesterday when Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled his meeting with Trump in the wake of Trump’s continued movement toward a border wall. Nieto came out and said, “Look, if you’re going to keep this shit up, I’m not going to come and even bother talking with you.” Rather than let it look like he got stood up for prom, Trump said this:

“We have agreed to cancel our planned meeting,” Mr. Trump said in a new conference Thursday afternoon. “Unless Mexico is going to treat the U.S. fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, and I want to go a different route. We have no choice.”

By recasting this as a mutual thing, it looks less like Trump got stuck holding the bag and more like he was the one saying, “Look, unless you’re going to build this wall, you can stay on your side of the river and suck a burrito.”

This is what makes Trump so dangerous and it’s also what makes him so popular. Again, Fuck You Nation rears its ugly head: “You want me to say I’m wrong? Fuck you.”

 

In the end, the core of Trump will always be tied to “Fuck You Nation.” I read his inaugural and, honestly, it was really appealing and unvarnished from a middle-America perspective. There are a shit ton of empty factories in places where I live (and have lived). There aren’t a lot of good jobs for people of all walks of life can get. It often seems like we’re running around the world looking for something to fix instead of investing in people back home. If you want to be the president of the United States, shouldn’t you put the needs of the U.S. and its people at the front of the line? These things, on the flat face of them, do make a lot of sense to a lot of people who feel they have been forgotten because we now all have to worry about who gets to use which bathroom.

Trump makes the big picture small: You personally got shafted. I’ll help you get yours. However, this is like playing chess with a myopic obsession of moving a rook repeatedly. It’s never supposed to be about one piece for a president. It’s supposed to be about the board.

But when you are that one piece, everything he does makes sense:

“The world has told you, John Q. Public, ‘Hey, buddy, fuck you.’ Now, let’s turn this around and tell those people, ‘No, FUCK YOU.’”

Your President* Speaks: Into The Muir Woods Edition

The advent of the Trump administration means it’s time to revive a recurring feature that predates my time at First Draft. It was predominantly used by Holden when he was the press gaggle maven here and President Malaprop was in office. Like Charlie Pierce, I have added an asterisk to the word President* since I vow to never refer to the Insult Comedian as such. Holy Ford Fucking Frick, Batman. That was the name of the baseball commish who put an asterisk in the record book after Roger Maris’ 61 homers in ’61. His middle name was not fucking but what’s a bit of dramatic license between friends? Frick the motherfrakker anyway.

Speaking of amateur theatrics, the whiner-in-chief gave an interview to ABC anchor David Muir. It had nothing to do with either Muir Woods or Stephen Sondheim but a pun is a pun is a pun. Hmm, Demure Woods sounds like a porn star name…

Let’s start with Trump’s “illegals cost me the popular vote” lie. I’ve heard of sore losers before but a sore winner is a new one on me.

MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called ….. false.

TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report?  According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

You know what the old song says, true love travels on a grovel road.

Next up, Trump’s dubious claims that his CIA speech (wherein he said the word I 120 times) was a tremendous success:

 MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it’s — it’s bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars — of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you’re the president?

TRUMP: OK, so I’m glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I’m — I don’t have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that’s okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it.

Peyton Manning spoke at Langley? We all know the Darnold brought a claque of sycophants along to cheer him on just in case the “CIA Nazis” were unresponsive. The ovation was tremendous. Believe me.

After going on some more about the inaugural crowd, Trump compared himself favorably to past Oval Ones:

I can be the most presidential person ever, other than the great Abe Lincoln.

I have my doubts. With the obvious exception of W, most past Presidents could speak the language above a 3rd grade level. It’s nice that Donald thinks at least one previous President ranks above him though.

There was more crazy in the interview but I think three entries will do. I don’t want to, uh, torture you with Trumpisms, after all. Elsewhere on the internets, I referred to this interview in a Graftonesque manner: B is for bonkers, berserk, and bat shit crazy. That about sums it up.

That concludes this edition of Your President Speaks.

 

 

Friday Catblogging: I Looked Away

Help, I’m running out of clever catblogging titles. The best I could do this week was to use an Eric Clapton song title. So it goes:

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And yes, Oscar’s bald spot is back. Otherwise he’s as fit as a fiddle and ready to play some Dominos.

 

Welcome Back To Dizneylandrieu

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It’s the time of year when I turn my attention to the zany, madcap antics of the satirical parade Krewe du Vieux. KdV is an umbrella organization made up of sub-krewes who design and execute our own floats and costumes. You may recall that I belong to the Krewe of Spank. In 2014, Spank’s theme was Welcome to Dizneylandrieu. It was our masterpiece wherein we mocked our pompous Mayor for encouraging the gentrification sweeping New Orleans post-Katrina. We called him Mitchey Mayor and marched as Mitchketeers. It’s a small fucking world, after all. Long before our take on the Gentrified Kingdom, locals bridled at attempts to transform the French Quarter-indeed the city itself-into Disneyland on the Bayou. Here we go again.

This time the theme is “security” in response to sporadic violent crimes in the tourist belt. Mayor Landrieu has announced a sweeping plan that could transform parts of the city into a 21st surveillance state:

An unprecedented number of electronic eyes will soon be deployed throughout New Orleans, watching over 20 different neighborhoods, tracking vehicles to assist police as they search for suspects and scanning French Quarter revelers to look for hidden weapons.

The massive security deployment, part of a $40 million crime-prevention plan unveiled Monday, includes pumping public and private video feeds into a centralized New Orleans Police Department command center that will be monitored around the clock.

“Here’s the first thing I want everyone to know: When you go on Bourbon Street now, everything you do will be seen,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

The proposal, drafted in the wake of a shooting on Bourbon Street on Thanksgiving weekend that left one person dead and nine wounded, also calls for efforts to tamp down on the atmosphere of street partying and entertainment that often overtakes areas of the Quarter into the early morning hours.

While no closing times will be imposed, bars across the city will be required to keep their doors closed after 3 a.m. to discourage patrons from spilling outside, and an early morning spraying of Bourbon Street will further discourage revelry there.

Here we go again. This scheme is an overreaction to bad press every time some jerk with a gun and no impulse control loses their shit after getting shitfaced drunk. That’s almost always the nature of crime in the Quarter.  It’s the hardest type of crime to predict, deter, or prevent. In lieu of any meaningful attempts to deal with gun violence, there will be 24-hour surveillance of people getting hammered and doing stupid shit on Bourbon Street.

There’s so much drunken malakatude on Bourbon Street that separating the dangerous assholes from garden variety assholes is a job best performed by foot patrols. The city is already full of “crime cameras” that do not work, why are we to believe that this will be any different? It’s called throwing money at a problem to counter bad publicity. $40 million is a lot of scratch, y’all.

The Mayor attempted to defuse criticism of this misbegotten scheme by extending the surveillance net to other “hot spots” around the city. That’s unlikely to work. Plans like this come down the pike every so often, and city government is all talk and no enforcement. It’s another in a long series of publicity stunts aimed at making white people feel safe in a majority African-American city. Short-term solutions rarely solve long-term problems, but what really matters is that tourists feel safer. #Sarcasm. In short, it’s an expensive PR stunt as opposed to a serious crime prevention proposal.

For many locals, the most controversial part of the plan is the bit about bars having to shut their doors at 3 AM. There are several bars within a 2 block radius of Adrastos World HQ, they keep their doors open all night, and we hear nary a peep. 24-hour bars may sound odd to some of you, but it’s part of the city’s culture. The only reason they should have to shut their doors is if they’re bothering the neighbors. Besides, there’s no longer smoking in bars (something I support) so smokers are going to spill on to the sidewalk in any event. Is the city planning to send inspectors out in the wee hours to enforce this scheme? I am dubious.

Here’s the deal: I’m not much of a bar person nowadays. I have poor hearing so I have difficulty following conversation in a loud barroom. That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the vibrant bar culture of New Orleans. The Mayor apparently does not. He’s beginning to remind me of H.L. Mencken’s line about puritanism: “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

You cannot save a city by denying its very essence and turning it into a sanitized version of itself. Welcome back to Mitchey Mayor’s Gentrified Kingdom:

Gentrified Kingdom

 

“The Twilight Zone”

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That was Dan Rather’s observation on the Rachel Maddow show last night (video link… last week Charles Pierce –I think — also referenced the show); and yeah, in some ways it seems like were at the beginning of an episode, where the premise is set — in this case, alternative facts, the steady stream of reactionary executive orders, the bizarro speech at Langley last week, the tweets (hmm…no one who screamed loud and long about HRC’s emails seems to care about Trump using an unsecured phone…), etc.

To be fair, we’re only a week in — and, to also be fair, thank heavens we’ve survived it…what now, only 207 or so more? And there is strong opposition to Trump, for all the right reasons (though, sadly, the Democratic Party…isn’t exactly opposing…goddamn, Democrats — also a video link).

But…what happens when presidenting…gets difficult? And it will. Obama once mentioned (and I think JFK did as well) that by the time something reaches the Oval Office desk it is by definition difficult — otherwise it would be taken care of at a lower level. Trump still shows no sign at all of grasping that, and no indication he ever will.

Four years (or 207 weeks) can’t come fast enough…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Food Of The Gods

H.G. Wells was one of the first “grown up” writers I read as a kid. And The Food Of The Gods was my first Wellsian experience. Who among us doesn’t love giant mutant animals going berserk?

The Food Of The Gods has been published in many forms. It has even been adapted as a comic book on two occasions.

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Can’t you just imagine the chap in the bowler saying: “What ho. It’s a giant chicken.”

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Finally, there was a cheesy movie version made in 1976:

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Mary Tyler Moore, R.I.P.

This morning I made fun of the word “iconic.” It’s overused but it actually applies to the great Mary Tyler Moore who died today at the age of 80. It’s hard to believe she was that old: she’ll always be the gorgeous Laura Petrie and the spunky Mary Richards to me.

MTM was the star of two ground breaking sitcoms as well as my first crush. I grew up watching re-runs of the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Who among us will ever forget how she tossed her hat in the air at the beginning of her classic eponymous teevee show?

I searched the interwebs for my favorite episodes of MTM’s two great series. I was only able to find a clip of Coast to Coast Loudmouth but it’s streaming on Netflix. Mary’s character let it slip on live teevee that Alan Brady (Carl Reiner) was as bald as a cueball.  Furious hilarity ensued. Here’s her apology to Alan and his boys:

I was surprised that full episodes of her 1970’s show are on YouTube. I’m not sure how long this will last but Chuckles Bites The Dust is one of the funniest 25 minutes in teevee history. See Mary lose it at the funeral of Chuckles the clown:

Mary Moore lived a long and productive life. She will be missed. But we’ll always have this indelible image seared on our collective consciousness:

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Quote Of The Day: Rude Pundit Edition

I somehow missed this a few weeks back but it’s still an unforgettable quote about Trump’s so-called forgotten people:

What you’re calling “elitism” is just simply not being ignorant. We don’t have our heads shoved up Jesus’s ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we’re told we need to understand what they believe. No, we’re just gonna say that stupid is stupid.

You can stop explaining the white working class rural conservative Christian farming folk, hot-takers and self-justifiers. Instead, why don’t you explain liberalism to them? Why don’t you explain that jobs are drying up and communities are dying not because of abortion and same-sex marriage but because of Republican economic policies that have favored the wealthy, most of whom live in cities, including a certain president-elect they voted for who took advantage of those very policies in order to stay rich? Ultimately, though, it won’t matter. Because despite every fucking word to the contrary, the real problem is that those who voted for Trump are racist. They are sexist. They are Islamophobic. They are ignorant.

The whole thrust of these “let’s learn about the yokels” articles is to imply that there are real Americans and there are coastal elites. Sorry, motherfuckers. We’re all Americans. And if I have to suffer under your stupid, you have to hear about our smarts.

The worst thing about the “empathize with the stupid” crowd is that most of them wouldn’t know a trailer park from a parking lot. The Rude Pundit is from that background. I’m not but I choose to bask in the glow of his reflected glory. I also live in the Deep South and have met my share of Trump’s so-called forgotten people; many of whom are unforgettable in a non-Nat King Cole kind of way.

Bigotry and willful ignorance are never acceptable. Neither is pandering to the 1/3 or so of Trump voters who are the genuine deplorables described by the winner of the popular vote. They’re the ones who chanted “lock her up” and “build the wall” during the late campaign. The only way to win over the worst of the worst is to abandon what the Dudebro alt-left calls “identity politics.” I am unwilling to abandon people of color, feminists, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community.  I agree with the Rude One that we need a to do a better job explaining ourselves. One thing I am certain of is that Cafeteria Trumpism won’t work just as Reaganism with a Human Face did not work.

In honor of the Rude Pundit, I’ll give the early and very clean-cut Wailers the last word:

 

Sean Spicer Can Lie & Chew Gum At The Same Time

In a word, GROSS:

Everybody knows that breakfast is the most important meal, a time to stock up on nutrient-rich foods that give us the energy we need to tackle the day. Or, if you’re White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, it’s a time to chew and swallow 35 sticks of Orbit cinnamon gum.

In an August 2016 profile in the Washington Post, Spicer cops to a gum habit the likes of which we haven’t seen since May of 2016:

This is the face of today’s Republican Party: The nose is pinched, the hair is sandy blond, the eyes are intense. But all you really need to know can be seen in the mouth. This is where Spicer’s talent and nervous energy meet. Watch it open wide enough to inhale his phone as he yells at an editor. Behold its versatility, as he at once chastises Trump for calling Mexicans rapists and murderers while also lauding him for calling attention to the issue of illegal immigration. Even when he is not speaking, it works on overdrive, churning through pieces of Orbit cinnamon gum, which he chews and swallows whole. Notwithstanding his line of work, the man just can’t stand a gross-feeling mouth.

“Two and a half packs by noon,” said Spicer. “I talked to my doctor about it, he said it’s no problem.”

I hate gum and sometimes use gun chewer as a slur, especially when someone is gumming up the works. Gum chewers are gross: they stick it on tables, chairs, and throw it on the ground when its rendered tasteless. Invariably, I’m the guy who gets it stuck on his shoe. This gives me an entirely new reason to dislike Sean Spicer although his rampant mendacity is a better one.

Before becoming the alternative facts guy, Spicer was best known for his stupid feud with Dippin’ Dots ice cream. One could call this dispute: the Dipshit versus Dippin’ Dots.

Speaking of gum chewing morons, Rick Perry was caught blowing bubbles during the Insult Comedian’s inauguration. I’m not sure if he swallows but here’s proof positive that he blows:

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It’s almost as strange as the time Perry was caught playing with a bottle of maple syrup whilst campaigning in New Hampshire in 2011:

It’s going to be a long four years, y’all. I have my doubts that either Spicer or Perry will last the duration. I also doubt that Perry can walk and chew gum at the same time. I do, however, have a suggestion for a theme song for that bubble headed booby from Texas:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn was one of the most interesting American artists of the 20th Century. He was a true Renaissance man: painter, photographer, muralist, printmaker, educator, writer, and lefty political activist. He also had a lively sideline as an album cover artist, mostly in the 1950’s.

Here’s a sampler of Shahn’s album cover art:

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Newspapers Will Pay For Anything Besides Journalism

ANY. THING. 

Even as the Chicago Sun-Times clings to life as a metro daily news organ, the publication says it has launched a new digital marketing agency called Digital 312, with the shop’s name incorporating the primary Chicago telephone area code.

Launched with a staff of around 11 people, the plan is to harness the experience the newspaper itself has gained in transitioning to a digital first news organization and apply that to clients of the agency that are looking for marketing expertise in the digital arena.

When I look at the money that’s gotten pissed away by newspaper companies in the past two decades, I don’t see the influence of the Internet or Kids Today Not Reading Anymore or That Rat Bastard Craig and His Rat Bastard List or Steve Jobs’s special phones stealing our attention spans. I see stupidity and a willingness to spend too much, too late, on things that don’t matter.

There are approximately 11,000 agencies that will help clients buy advertising, digital and otherwise, in the Sun-Times. But if nobody’s reading the Sun-Times, and nobody’s picking up the Sun-Times, and nobody can fucking find the Sun-Times if they scour the city for it because they only distribute four copies to every other 7-Eleven lately, and even if you do find it there are two good stories and 20 pages of week-old city hall gossip billed as a MAJOR SCOOP MUST CREDIT, well, I don’t care how swank your new ad agency sounds. Nobody’s going to put their products in your (digital or physical) pages.

If your name means nothing because you’ve spent 20 years destroying it with one ill-advised but loudly announced initiative after another, from a bloated, heaving website littered with auto-generated ads to a “national news network” that now redirects to a bunch of repeating clickbait advertorials, lurching onto yet another thing instead of supporting the one good thing you have left (your city room) will not help you.

Has newspaper revenue declined precipitously with the rise of mobile/digital devices? Natch. But there was still plenty of money to spend, on everything from endless rebrandings and redesigns and new divisions to replicate what other companies already did. On just about everything except journalism.

A.