Monthly Archives: February 2017

What You Wanted To Say to Your Liberal Family Members

Tonight Donald Trump spoke in complete sentences, read what he was given, seemed mostly sober, and as such is being treated like the second coming of Ronald Reagan by a pundit corps desperate to change none of its behavior. If Trump is a normal president, they don’t have to! Therefore, he will be a normal president.

All I heard tonight was a collection of stuff you say to your liberal sister-in-law when you’re arguing with her about stuff you think she believes. Stuff that’s correct but also not the point, stuff that makes you sound virtuous and her sound like a pointy-headed out-of-touch nitpicker, which is the reason you construct your arguments that way in the first place.

“Law enforcement does a hard, important job and when officers die in the line of duty we should honor their sacrifice!”

Well of course, but …

“Our military should be respected!”

Sure, can we please also pay for …

“People shouldn’t be afraid of criminals, and we should enforce our own laws!”

Agreed on both counts, yet this particular …

“American jobs should come first!”

Okay like how …

That’s all this was. It was the Thanksgiving Dinner Argument, in fanfiction form, won by Trump and his sycophants in slightly more than one half of Congress. It wasn’t a plan of action and it wasn’t a budget and it wasn’t even a coherent worldview. It was fuck you. It was suck on this. It was doing what he did during the campaign, which is to make people who feel dumb be proud of how they felt by removing the need for their feelings to reflect in any way their circumstances or really reality at all.

It’s important to note that, and make the distinction between “appealing to his supporters and likely to resonate with them” without confusing that with “correct in any way or good for the economy, country or rest of the world.” Because if the immediate reactions to his speech are any indication — HE SEEMED SO PRESIDENTIAL! THE TONE IN THE ROOM WAS SO UNLIKE A METH LAB’S! — our current respectable pundits are not going to do it.

A.

Tell Me Again How Critical the Press Considers Itself

Have some goddamn pride: 

President Donald Trump is holding court with “regional press affiliates” in a private dinner on Monday, the White House said.

The meeting is comparable to the off-the-record lunch Trump will host Tuesday with major network anchors ahead of his first address to Congress.

In the past month the messages from institutional media leaders have been only slightly more consistent than those of Trump’s spokespeople. Subscribe to us, because these are extraordinary times, except we need to preserve traditions at all costs, because that’s how things are done! Trump’s administration is de-legitimizing the press, which is UNAMERICAN, but it’s not like we’re pissed enough to decline a dinner invitation over it!

And this:

Tonight’s dinner will be closed to the press.

EXCEPT THE ONES THAT ARE THERE. Dear God, if you’re going to throw yourself a martyrdom every other week for being the last sacred guardians of democracy in these troubled times, you’ve got to actually get up on the cross sometime.

A.

BRB GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATION DUE

Fuck it, I’m going to Yale: 

Mr. Secretary has a new title: Professor.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry was out of work for about a month before landing a new job at his alma mater, Yale, where he will teach a course as well as host presentations called “Kerry Conversations.”

The new program, called the Kerry Initiative, was announced today by the university’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

“Secretary Kerry is going to teach school,” said Jim Levinsohn, director of the institute, home of the new program. “Students are going to show up, and that’s going to be John Kerry in the classroom.”

It’s like he took a class in how to be charming and adorable to me.

kerrysoccer

A.

Lundi Gras Odds & Sods

I decided to emerge from the Carnival bubble today just to mess with y’all. Our run of hosting came to an end yesterday. It’s fun but I’m always glad when it’s over. We have two more days until we repent our Carnival sins on Ash Wednesday. I’m an agnostic but my legs are already repenting all the standing and walking I did this  year. And there’s more to come. Ouch. Pass the Ibuprofen.

Obviously, we were not impacted by the accident Saturday night at the Endymion parade. That’s the *other* parade route and we take the night off. I also hate that fucking parade: the riders tend to be suburban yahoos who snub small black chirren in favor of blond bimbos. It’s the “show your tits” parade. I like tits as much as the next guy but that parade is tacky and tawdry.

We had an enormous party on Muses Thursday. Muses is an all woman krewe who had a Dr. Seuss theme in 2017. Their signature throw is decorated shoes. One of my quirkier Muses friends, Jen K, made a shoe just for me. Remember Ken Bone? He’s the dorky dude who asked a question during the town hall Clinton-Trump debate and briefly became an internet sensation. Here is the Ken Bone shoe, Jen threw to me. Thanks, sweetie:

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In a visual pun worthy of this feature, Jen replaced the heel with a plastic bone:

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Another highlight of Carnival for me was a book signing on the Uptown parade route before the Tucks parade. There’s a rolling group in that parade: the Laissez Boys. They parade in pimped out motorized recliners whilst wearing smoking jackets. I am not making this up.

I have some friends in the group and decided to get one of them, Michael Tisserand, to sign my copy of his latest book, Krazy. It’s the story of George Herriman the creator of Krazy Kat. He was from New Orleans and was a black creole who passed as white. It’s the next book in my hopper so to speak.

Michael is an online friend so we surprised him with the help of my friend Paul aka Q. He was as thrilled as I was, “I’ve done a lot of things in this chair but never a book signing.”

Later on twitter he said this:

Here are a few pictures of the event taken by Dr. A:

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The only thing that came close to the Krazy book signing last weekend was the mishigas at the end of the Oscars. There’s a first time for everything. I hope it’s the last time for that sort of fuckup and of Jimmy Kimmel as host. Flying donuts? Mean tweets? Jimmy should get on the tour bus with Gary from Chicago.

Back to the bubble. Proteus and Orpheus await.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Get used to disappointment” edition

Sorry about playing hooky last Monday, good people – was more than a little under the weather.  Also, I had to wash my hair, and didn’t have a thing to wear.

Also, this edition of “Obsession” is going to be a “The Darnold”-free zone, because – feet of clay.

Let’s start with O’Keefe does it again!

Live: James O’Keefe Press Conference
Periscope ^

Posted on 2/23/2017, 9:13:01 AM by TigerClaws

Live Presser.

1 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:13:01 AM by TigerClaws
Oh yes – O’Keefe, the human clickbait.  Is it time for another startling revelation?
To: TigerClaws

CNN’s starting to sweat…

5 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:16:27 AM by GOPJ (What is called “Fake News” is actually deliberate and coordinated disinformation –Freeper detective)

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To: TigerClaws

Don Lemon squirming in his lace panties…

14 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:21:42 AM by Oldeconomybuyer (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.)

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Just in case you’re wondering what the Freeperati are all het up about:

Conservative Activist James O’Keefe To Release CNN Tapes
AP ^ | 02/23/17

Posted on 2/23/2017, 7:37:05 AM by Enlightened1

NEW YORK (AP) — Conservative activist James O’Keefe has announced plans to release recordings Thursday morning that he says were made secretly inside CNN.

O’Keefe tells the network in an interview that the media is a “huge target” of his and he’s targeting CNN specifically because it “has a very important role as an arbiter of news.”

So – it’s time for the big reveal that will bring the Commie News Network (wait, aren’t commies supposed to be the good guys now?) to its KNEES!!

To: TigerClaws
Site appears to have crashed.

Either a WHOLE LOT of people are trying to get on, or the Deep State has launched a cyberattack.

6 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:16:41 AM by Buckeye McFrog

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bachmanncorndog
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Um, he said “Deep State”, not “Deep Throat”.
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To: Columbo

$10,000 bounty??? WOO-HOO!!!

18 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:26:44 AM by who knows what evil? (Yehovah saved more animals than people on the ark…www.siameserescue.com)

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Wow.  That’s  enough for the down payment on a used car!
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trumpdrevil
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To: TigerClaws

Not too earthshaking. It’s from 2009 I think. We’ll have to see what the rest of it shows.

20 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:27:36 AM by CarolAnn

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To: Buckeye McFrog

Did I also hear that the tapes are from 2009? Won’t have much bearing on Trump if that’s the case.

21 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:29:04 AM by RoosterRedux

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To: TigerClaws

Nobody you have ever heard of from 2009, this might be one of his overhypes

24 posted on2/23/2017, 9:32:38 AM by Emergencyawesome

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YaThink
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To: Emergencyawesome

Me thinks O’Keefe has over-promised and under-delivered again.

27 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:34:33 AM by SpeedyInTexas

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banhimokeefebinladen

To: Emergencyawesome

Seems like weak sauce. I bet Hannity is POd that Keefe overhyped it on his show.

36 posted on 2/23/2017, 9:40:26 AM by over3Owithabrain

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Oh, if you think this is not-so-awesome sauce, just wait until you see what El Rushbo has in store for you – if you dare to read more…..
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Continue reading

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Avoidable Problems

She seems nice: 

Mulkey explained her comments in the postgame press conference, saying she was tired of hearing the scandal discussed on a national stage by people not involved in the investigation who “don’t know what they’re talking about.” She said the scandal is over and she would send her daughter to the private Christian university, claiming the “problems we have at Baylor are no different than the problems at any other school in America.”

THERE IS SUCH AN EASY WAY OUT OF THIS, guys.

I’m gonna tell you what it is.

I’m gonna tell you how to make sure your university, your school, your organization, your HOLY ROMAN CHURCH, your football team, your whatever can avoid the stigma of multiple accusations of rape and subsequent inept coverups. 

I’m gonna tell you how you can get around the horrible damage to your reputation and the very bad publicity and the unbelievably damaging effect of having people say mean things in the papers and on TV and maybe at the wing place when you’re just trying to have a beer. I’m gonna tell you how to finally be free of all that.

Here we go.

Don’t commit any rapes. Strive for the number of people you rape to be zero. Try really, really hard. No rapes. That’s the goal.

If you are in charge of things at a large organization such as a college, and your employees, your students, your players, your coaches, are raping and you find out about it, you in order: Call the police, shitcan and/or expel the rapists, and hold a press conference admitting to the two former actions and apologizing for having rapists near you.

If it seems like your entire program is just riddled with rape and rapists and there are too many of them to count, possibly take a break from footballing to figure out the raping part.

Refrain from acting like somebody writing a mean tweet about you is equivalent to rape. Don’t whine about how hard this all is for you, the accused rapist or enabler of rape. If you must, employ lawyers and PR people who understand when to talk and when to shut up.

You do these things, instead of doing what that lady up there did, and people will still hate you but they will hate you slightly less. Don’t compound your shitheaditude by being a shithead about having your shitheadedness exposed.

EASY. PEASY.

Christ.

A.

Do What Works

It’s almost like if you do things well, everything will be okay: 

It recently launched its 23rd edition, in Richmond, Texas, and has 186 employees and 11 open positions (that’s up from 7 editions and 63 employees in 2010). And this year, to help it expand further, Community Impact committed fully to dead-tree-ness and took the unusual step of opening its own printing plant. The 36,000-square-foot, $15 million facility opened in October in Pflugerville, next door to Community Impact’s main offices. (Here’s what the print product looks like.)

“We were outgrowing the capacity of the printer we’d worked with over the years,” Garrett said. “We traveled the Southwest United States and looked at facilities and were really thinking, man, we’re in trouble if something happens with our current provider.” His team went to New York to watch Goss Magnum compact presses, which they ended up buying, in action.

“The day we got back from New York was the day the [Austin American-] Statesman decided they were going to shut down their plant,” Garrett recalled. “That, to me, was just a sign that I needed to control my own destiny.”

Time was, EVERY newspaper had its own printing plant and sure, expensive, but then to Garrett’s point nobody can mess with you or tell you what to do.

I keep saying this: Print declined so precipitously not because it was OLDSAUCE or because nobody liked to read anymore or because Kids Today with Their iPhones and Craig with His List murdered it. Print declined because the owners of print newspapers deliberately undermined it as a model, used their losses to justify cuts, used those cuts to justify further cuts, wrote the whole thing off, and parachuted out the window leaving a steaming dump on the boardroom table.

Just do your goddamn job:

In addition, Community Impact’s new printing presses can zone editorial content at the carrier-route level. “If we’re covering two school districts, we’ll be able to piece those districts up,” said Garrett, so that recipients living in different school districts in the same town would receive papers with different covers and news targeted to the school districts they’re in.

The ability to do such extreme targeting means Community Impact’s in-paper advertising is a viable competitor to Facebook. “A business owner can run, for $500, an ad in my paper and reach 80,000 households around their business,” Garrett said.

Distribution and marketing are the easiest things to do right and papers fucked them up left and right. Brands would commit MURDER for the kind of customer loyalty, nurtured over generations, that newspaper companies pissed away doing stupid stuff to their routes and timing in the mid-2000s for no reason other than short-term greed.

A.

 

Today on Everyone’s Obsession with the Gaggle

Could we please stop jerking ourselves off about this crap?

Press gaggles — on-the-record scrums with communication staffers that disallow video recording — are a staple of White House reporting, and it’s highly unusual for a reporter to be barred from the meeting. Today, after Trump delivered a stinging (and contradictory) critique of the media, The New York Times, CNN, the L.A. Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were prevented from attending.

The Associated Press and Time boycotted the gaggle in solidarity with their colleagues. Other news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, One America News Network and Fox News were allowed in and did not boycott the gaggle.

Go or don’t go. But I gotta say, I find the constant bitching about this incredibly annoying and tiresome.

The importance of this shit, of standing around in a room waiting to be fed, dates from Ye Olden Tymes before the president and his staff tweeted everything that popped into their heads. There is no reason why two people should have to stand next to one another to get the same information. Swallow your pride and retweet somebody else’s tweets.

I know the club of the most of us were just taught to re-report something somebody else reported so that it doesn’t look like we’re giving credit to competitors. But if this is truly the extraordinary moment we’re being told we should subscribe to respond to, maybe put your shoulders into finding another way of doing things that suits the urgency of the times instead of insisting your chair be where it always has been.

Or, you know, don’t. After 20 minutes of no attention this administration and every other one on earth (sigh, yes, including Obama’s, you people are so tiresome) will be gasping for oxygen and offering donuts to anyone who wants to come back in. At that point you can send people if you want or you can flip them the double birds, who cares.

This is not the greatest threat a free press currently faces. The greatest threat a free press currently faces is being cowed and penned up and herded into various structures after which its members act like they have no choice but to amble along mooing. The greatest threat a free press faces comes, as ever, not from whatever dick is manning a political podium but by stupid cowards who think their cowardly stupidity isn’t being noticed.

The greatest threat a free press currently faces is that the people who own one don’t want to pay for it to operate and keep throwing shit-fits over where to put their highest-paid stenographers instead of devoting those dollars to challenging denials of FOIA requests. If Trump spurs a few more news organizations to say fuck to this WHOLE ENDEALMENT, I say well done.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Carnival Game

Krewe of Spank 2017

Krewe of Spank 2017. Photograph by Ride Hamilton.

I naively thought I would be able to write a full-blown Saturday post this week. (Sounds like a contagious disease, doesn’t it?) What the hell was I thinking? We had one of our largest and best Muses open houses Thursday night. The two don’t always go together but this year they did. A good time was had by all, but the cleanup was extensive.

Oscar is still mad at me as of this writing. He and Della are all like: what the hell were you humans thinking? Beats the hell out of me. The worst is over for the kitties, subsequent gatherings will be smaller. That’s life on the parade route.

Despite the buzz in my ears and the fuzz over my eyes (if such a thing is possible) I have a theme song. It’s a song about Carnival from some Midwestern blokes. Here’s a Cheap Trick twofer, live and studio:

Carnival is always a great release from the real world. I, for one, really needed it this year. My Twitter feed is full of CPAC chatter. I hope Trump’s presence there will finally convince the alt-left irrendentists that his gestures to them are as meaningless as everything else that comes out of his big fat bazoo.

That’s it for now. I’ll repent for spending this week in the Carnival bubble the next time around. I’ll give the last word to a very young Cheap Trick.

ct-meme

 

Seeds of Hope

The young woman sitting next to me scrunched up her face as she looked at a resume I would have killed for at her age. She had three internships, including one at a major media outlet and a second at a center for investigative journalism. She was the editor of her paper and had earned honors and awards along the way. Still, she had that look.

“I just hope I get a job,” she said. “It’s rough out there…”

I half smiled as I shook my head and told her, “You’re going to be fine. You have a ton of great experience. We just need to rearrange a few things to put the emphasis on the best stuff first…”

I suggested moving a few things around, emphasizing professional experience and pushing her college work down. We talked about her social media presence and if it would be something that would showcase her journalism or if it fit the “I ate a hot dog today. It was good.” motif. I told her I knew her boss and that he didn’t hire crappy people, so that should help her feel better about herself and that she should ask if he would be a reference for her.

In the end, she seemed to feel better and thanked me for my time.

“You’ll be fine,” I told her again, emphasizing each word. “You’ll be just fine.”

I’ve spent the last two weekends working with student journalist at a variety of conventions, which is one of the best things I do in life. Last week, it was Minnesota’s best of the Midwest convention while this week, we convened for a pro/college hybrid for the best journalism the state has to offer.

Being around people “like me” is usually a comfort to most humans, in that we enjoy social gatherings that emphasize shared, learned behavior. Even more, we tend to understand each other better when we have chewed some of the same dirt. As Eddie Murphy once remarked about marriage, “Find the perfect person for you. I’m not saying they’re perfect. Find someone just as fucked up as you are in the same way and settle down.”

Still, this convention was one I had dreaded for a number of reasons. First, I’m running the board of the college group, which means I need to show up, dress sharp and schmooze with people, all things that don’t really thrill me. Second, it’s like Bill Buckner walking back into Shea Stadium for me in many ways.

The people I know there knew the much younger version of me: The one who fucked up a lot. The one who bordered on arrogance and then swung to a complete lack of self-esteem. The one who was probably the annoying kid they wished would learn to calm down a little more and not be so excited over every police scanner call. It’s painful thinking back about that “me” and it’s even more difficult realizing how long ago that was.

The kid I helped work through her resume was someone I probably would have never dealt with back then. She worked at the Badger Herald. I’m from the Daily Cardinal. Capulet and Montague don’t have shit on that turf war. However, as I talked with her a bit, it dawned on me she wasn’t even born when I was a college journalist. The dislike I have for her institution remains, but for some reason, it wasn’t as hard as I would have once thought it to be when I helped her plan out Life 2.0.

Later that day, I walked through the exhibit hall, and I ran across a guy I worked with back when I was a night-desk reporter. Andy now runs that center for investigative journalism at which this kid was interning. When he noticed me, he stopped what he was doing to say hi and prepared to introduce me to the folks gathered around him.

One of the people who turned around was another former newspaper staff who remembered me and gave me a huge hug. It turns out Pat had retired from the paper during one of the rounds of “downsizing” efforts and was now teaching at a small, private college and advising the paper. I told her, “We need to get you onto our board…” before explaining what it is I was doing and what our college group was all about.

She had this look on her face, and I couldn’t really figure it out. It was half amazement and half pride.

“Yeah,” Andy chimed in. “He’s all grown up now…”

I laughed. He just smiled.

He remembered how excited I was the time he offered to buy me a six-pack of beer if I’d take some mundane assignment he’d been given. Andy was happy he could go on his vacation without worry. I was thrilled: You mean I’ll get some extra hours, mileage money, a story in the paper AND BEER? Holy shit!

I didn’t know if Pat remembered the time she and I were working on a Sunday together and two stories had rolled in: Racist literature was found in a news rack at a grocery store and major vandalism had hit the area Walgreens. She was coming in later and I had half of each story and I hoped she’d let me keep one. When she arrived, she told me, “Take them both. I’m working on something else.” It was like a day of free ice cream. I can still remember thinking to myself, “Wow. I’ve got TWO STORIES in the paper today. This is unbelievable.”

Back then, moments like those were the world to me. For them, it was just another day of work.

After I left Andy’s booth, I wandered over to the walls of poster board that contained the award-winning work of journalists throughout the state. Not more than a minute of browsing went by before something grabbed me: A column with a familiar face staring back at me. The hair was more professionally cut, the cheeks a bit fuller but I knew the half-grimace that stared back at me.

One of my former students: First place for local sports column.

I backed up and started from the very first board, carefully examining each byline.

Second Place: Environmental writing

Third Place: Business coverage

First Place: Local education coverage

Third Place: Feature Writing

More and more of the names came back to me. Scared kids, wondering if they’d ever get an internship. Wondering if they’d get a job. Wondering if they’d be any good.

Professional journalists, all. Award-winners to boot.

My eyes settled on the last panel where the college winners were and found one bittersweet moment:

First place, News/news features.

The kid who wrote it was my editor during last year’s run of crushing misery. She stuck with me through thick and thin, knowing her life would be so much easier if she just asked me to quit. Instead, she hunkered down and dealt with the pounding, just like I had. In the end, though, she couldn’t take it anymore.

She dropped out of school, refusing to return for her senior year. She moved on to the tech school last semester, where she hopes to earn a degree that will let her work as a nursing assistant. She never wants to be in journalism again.

She wrote a personal experience feature story on Project Semicolon, a movement that started in 2013 after founder Amy Bleuel lost her father to suicide. Bleuel also struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, so she looked for a way to communicate that struggle to others in hopes of shedding light on these mental illness issues. The non-profit organization uses the semi-colon as a symbol of how you are the author of your life and authors choose how to end a sentence. The semi-colon says, “I’m pausing here, but I will choose to continue.” Many people who back the movement get a tattoo of a semi-colon as a way of reinforcing this belief.

Katie’s piece wove her own struggles into the broader story of Project Semi-Colon, which was started only about an hour’s drive from here. The narrative thread was her decision to get the tattoo and to share that moment with her mother.

I could feel the tears welling up as I started to read the story, so I just moved on and took a breath.

A great moment. A great kid. The one I couldn’t save.

My career choice often leaves me with mixed emotions. I think back to the most stinging comment people make about educators: “Those who can’t do, teach.” There are days I think maybe they’re right. Could I have stuck with journalism for 22 years and done more and better things than I did? Maybe I’m that tragic tale of wasted youth, the human vessel of lost potential I now try to drag out of other people as some sort of penance for my own transgressions…

Then there are days like yesterday, where I see how the kids who once pondered their own inadequacies are tearing it up at various publications in places they want to be. I see it in every “noun-verb” attribution they use and how I pounded that into them. I see it in their commitment to fairness and accuracy. I see it when they email me to ask, “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me, but I was a student of yours and you really helped me out a ton… I’m looking for an intern and I was hoping you had one of your kids to help me fill the slot…”

Those days, I see myself as a good farmer: I take those little seeds and put them in the best soil I have, tend them the best I can and then watch them grow to fruition. I help make sure the seedlings get what they need to survive. I realize how important this is now more than ever, in a field littered with cutbacks, high stress and public malice toward the profession.

Maybe that’s a good way to look at this.

I sow some of these seeds of hope for journalism.

And sometimes, it’s important to step back and enjoy the garden.

Friday Catblogging: Mirror Mirror On The Wall…

…who’s the biggest butt-head of all? It’s clearly Della Street. I’m glad y’all already know we’re not the best housekeepers in the world. Holy clutter, Batman.

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Hail To The Twerp

boy_king_donald_3-copy

Further confirmation that the fate of the world rests in the tiny hands of the most immature person to officially swear the oath. Christ.

The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up — and make sure it made its way to Trump’s desk.

The in-person touch is also important to keeping Trump from running too hot. One Trump associate said it’s important to show Trump deference and offer him praise and respect, as that will lead him to more often listen. And if Trump becomes obsessed with a grudge, aides need to try and change the subject, friends say. Leaving him alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House.

So, for the next three years, ten months … and twenty eight days or so … looks like we’ll have to rely on what amounts to a baby sitter in chief to keep the toddler tyrant from turning every perceived slight into a global crisis. Imagine if his predecessor had reacted similarly.

Maybe they can require that hands/fingers “must be this large” to assume some of the more seriously responsibilities of the office…like handling the nuclear briefcase, or ordering airstrikes.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Carnival Honey

It’s Muses Thursday here in New Orleans and half the known universe is coming to Adrastos World HQ later today. I wonder if she’ll make it?

Carnival

Worst Person Ever To Live In The White House

C-SPAN recently did a survey of historians as to which Presidents rocked it and which dropped the rock. It was the first time former President Barack Obama was ranked and he made a strong first showing coming in at number 12. That’s pretty darn good for a man scorned by the alt right and left alike. I think they got it right: Obama’s stock is likely to rise in contrast with the menace who replaced him.

I’ve long hesitated to do my own Presidential ranking because of my wildly mixed feelings about Lyndon Johnson. Based solely on domestic policy, he would be a strong fourth behind FDR, Lincoln, and Washington on my list. (They’re almost everyone’s top 3.) The Vietnam war messes everything up as it did at the time. Bigly. LBJ came in 10th in the C-SPAN survey. One of these days, I’ll try the C-SPAN grading system, but it’s Carnival and I have hosting, cooking, drinking, and throw groveling to do…

That brings me to the Current Occupant. Many have already proclaimed him the worst ever but it’s too early to call. He’s certainly building a case. I do think he comes in dead last on a list of the best human beings to serve as Oval Ones. I’m uncertain of the exact order but I think that the four best people to be President were Taft, Obama, Garfield, and Truman. There’s also a good case to be made for JFK, Poppy Bush, Carter, and TR.

It’s time for the other side of the coin. The worst human beings to serve were Andrews Jackson and Johnson, and, you guessed it, the man I call the Insult Comedian. It’s true that Trump isn’t responsible for genocidal policies like Jackson and isn’t as overtly racist as Johnson but he’s capable of such misdeeds. He’s already the most corrupt President in history so I think a slot at the bottom is warranted for the Pussygrabber-in-Chief. Nixon and LBJ could be horrible sons-of-bitches but they had redeeming characteristics. Trump has none. Therefore, he is the worst person ever to live in the White House. Yeah, I know Washington never lived there but there was ZERO chance of him making this list. He was a bit on the dull side but rock solid otherwise.

Finally, a graphic that shows where Trump rates with the public compared to the last five Oval Ones:

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It only gets worse, Donald. Believe me.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Time Peace

I usually don’t use greatest hits/best of covers for this feature. Why? They’re rarely very distinctive. Time Peace is an exception to that rule. This 1968 album from the Rascals has nifty pop art packaging and I love pop art. It pops and it’s art. Pop art.

Let’s start with the front cover:

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The gatefold continues the toon ambience of the piece or is that peace?

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With the exception of their radio hits, the Rascals are largely forgotten today. It’s a pity: they were a terrific Italo-American soul-rock band whose Hammond B3 dominated sound has always floated my boat. Time Peace is only available on YouTube in the playlist format. It’s well worth the hassle:

Collect Whatever Weird Shit You Want, But … This?

Ugh.

True story: Mr. A and Doc and the Missus and I were all in an antique store not too far from our house, and Missus and I were about to FUCK. UP. the vintage clothing in this place. The prices were crazy cheap and everything was in great condition. I had three suits on a pile and was considering some dresses when the guys, who’d wandered into the back of the store, came back and pulled us away.

“We’re leaving.” They looked like they’d seen ghosts.

“But it’s all so awesome, and we’re practically stealing, look, it’s like 20 bucks, come on.”

“Put it down. We’re getting out of here right now. We need to go. NOW.”

Turns out they’d taken a turn into a small back room in the store and found an entire collection, almost a shrine, of Nazi memorabilia. And this wasn’t like Granddad brought back a flag he took off some German soldier after the war was over. This was like, “Look at all our shiny Third Reich treasures aren’t they neat-o!” Some of it was for sale. All of it made their skin crawl.

I am not generally superstitious. I don’t actually believe had I bought a dress in that closeted Nazi shop it would have burned my skin. But I don’t understand wanting to keep actual Nazi artifacts around. It’s not that I think they’d whisper to me in the dark, it’s more … I don’t know, my place is small. The things I have around are things I like to look at.

And if you like to look at that, if you like to think about who it belonged to, that sounds like a pretty dark damn life.

A.

This Thing is Working. Let’s Kill It.

So I went on a bit of a tear on Sunday because I am sick of this shit.

To which Whet responded by showing me this: 

Texas Monthly bears the tagline “The National Magazine of Texas”–and it has lived up to the billing. Since its founding in 1973, the magazine has won 13 national magazine awards for public interest, politics, feature writing, and general excellence.

It was a mantle embraced by former owner Emmis Communications Corp, which sold the magazine in October 2016 to Genesis Park, a private equity firm co-founded by Paul Hobby, grandson of former Texas governor William P. Hobby, who owned the now-defunctHouston Post. The buyers quickly found a new editor in Taliaferro, 33, the former vice president for communications and digital strategy for Texas Exes (the University of Texas alumni association) and the editor in chief of Alcalde, UT’s alumni magazine.

Taliaferro spoke with CJR about his plans for Texas Monthly, which are a departure from the magazine’s long history of in-depth political coverage and longform journalism. Of his plans to scale back local political coverage, he says, “Texans don’t care about politics.” As an example of the coverage he plans to cut back on, Taliaferro cited stories on transgender bathrooms.

GAAAAAH.

Texans. Don’t. Care. About. Politics.

Jesus TITS.

This, however, is almost worse:

A statement on the Genesis Park website notes that “Genesis Park is the third owner of the Texas Monthly brand and will use its deep Texas relationships and media history to drive the brand into digital content, social media, expanded events, merchandising and a broader custom publishing business for the next chapter in Texas Monthly’s storied career.”

All of which is shorthand for “we will do anything BUT journalism.” I will grant that digital content and social media can enhance and even be journalism if done correctly, but it was like six seconds ago that publishers were falling all over themselves to produce A THOUSAND LIVE VIDEOS A DAY and then were like no, we will not do that now. Ditto slobbing Facebook’s knob for publication revenue that never really materialized.

So what the hell do merchandising and custom publishing have to do with running a good magazine? Events? Oh, goody, because there aren’t 10,000 event planners in the world. Isn’t it hard enough just to run a magazine? Why do you have to load it up with all this other bullshit too? Fer chrissakes, is it impossible to resist sticking your dick in every bees’ nest you see? If you have a thing that is making money, for God’s sake don’t poke it.

A.

On Enemies, and Their People

As the kids say, read the thread:

Okay, we’ve covered before the idea that this media hate is something new, either for Trump or the Republican party, but one thing we haven’t talked about is the money behind the media hate, the money that made it happen.

I’m not talking about the financing of Fox News. I’m talking about the money that left Fox News the only game in town.

Here’s the last 20 years, roughly. Large corporations bought up local papers in places like those Arnade travels, and then systematically killed those papers. This serial murder was helped along by TV news and the mobile Internet, but make no mistake, this was a slaughter sponsored by and enthusiastically supported by corporate interests in the name of profit and it would have happened even if Craig never made a List.

Local newspapers were the major source of news for Trump’s demographics, 25 years ago. Older, white, traditionally small-c conservatives and their slightly wealthier suburban children, who grew up picking up a paper from the porch. They likely would have done so forever if, you know, the local paper hadn’t fired half the staffers worth reading, filled its pages with AP and entertainment bullshit, cut the size of the paper, doubled the price, and then stopped delivering it altogether.

NONE of this was anything the journalists so stridently defending their existences on Twitter had anything to do with, but it is at the heart of both why Trump won and why his anti-media message is central to his appeal. It’s why “the media” looks to his voters like an unrecognizable conglomerate of what Arnade calls “front-row kids” talking about things they don’t care about.

I grew up in Trump country, in a small town in Wisconsin ruined by the collapse of manufacturing jobs and the weakening of organized labor and YES, by racism and isolation and resentment. I am 100 percent leaving everybody I know on the hook. But they — working and middle-middle-class people — knew “media.” They knew a reporter. A working reporter who went to their schools and lived next door and walked the dog on their block. They knew a sportswriter, a photographer, the kid who delivered the thing.

Kill the local paper, and you kill that familiarity, not just of the reporter for his community but of the community for its reporter, for ITS media. You make “media” an abstraction, at enough remove to hate.

And oh, boy, came the hate. Into the vacuum left by the death of local papers came conservative talk radio, head-first and stupid fast. And talk radio is the place where Trump’s voters learned there was another “media,” one that “hated” and “looked down on” them, one that didn’t share their “values.” Into the space once occupied by the voices of their neighbors came the voices of Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Belling, and Charlie Sykes, saying over and over that there is a force out there loathing and despising you and you’d better hate them right back.

Limbaugh and his ten-a-penny fascisti imitators were rich assholes bankrolled by other rich assholes, natch, but that didn’t matter when they were the only ones there. It was a 24-7 onslaught over the airwaves, and instead of countering that then, when it could have  been stopped, the leaders of media corporations bought those radio talkers and elevated them to respectability. Producers booked them on national shows. Editors ran (and still run) those hateful screechers on their opinion pages. And anyone who fought back was overreacting.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard I was overreacting, to a “joke” about a truck bomb killing my friends.

We’ve heard a lot since the election and especially since Trump started his latest crusade about subscribing to the Times and the Post to “support the media” and there are hashtags and pizza funds and such, all of which I think is nice. I like supporting big papers, though I’d like their own leadership to support them and stop publishing shite like this. However, trying to counter Trump’s anti-media message by buying into the Times and the Post and only watching CNN is a little like trying to rebuild your street by kicking in 10 bucks toward repaving the Brooklyn Bridge.

We’ve heard a lot since the election about rebuilding all kinds of infrastructure in small Midwestern towns and in neighborhoods where indifference and “did not vote” was the choice of 2016. Party infrastructure, the 50 State Strategy, fighting for every vote, all of that is important. We MUST, those of us who call ourselves progressive and care about a free press and a free society, include media infrastructure in that rebuilding.

I am not arguing for more condescending, fly-in Times stories about white racists and their clothes. I am arguing for more stories about their city councils, their local schools, their water boards, their police departments. I am arguing for stories about their crime and courts and I am arguing not to the local reporters trying to do this work already, but to the corporate bosses so reluctant to fund it for the amount of time it takes to make a damn dent.

“We tried local news sites,” they’ll protest. Yeah, for six seconds. Local newspapers built loyalty over LIFETIMES in communities, and people get mad when they can’t just yell “hyperlocal” three times and make Beetlejuice instantly appear.

This crap is also not helpful:

For rich companies’ rich employees like Chuck Todd to rage on Twitter about the devaluing of the press, well, Chuckles and all his friends could pool their pocket change and buy six small city or suburban papers, staff them, and get them on people’s goddamn porches every day. THAT would be valuing the press.

But are local papers still that important, with the Internet phone sand the Facebooking and the FakeNewz? Um, yeah. Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t use Twitter. Ten percent of the country doesn’t have high-speed Internet. Even in a huge city, how often do you get handed a flyer about a thing happening? Absent texting every single person on the planet (and ignoring that there are vast stretches of America where cell service blows goats) it is still HELLA efficient to print the news on a dead tree and physically give it to someone.

“Nobody on the subway with me today is reading the paper! They’re all on their phones!” Yeah, and everybody in my parents’ kitchen is reading the paper, so maybe neither of our experiences is universal. Yet media companies have utterly given up on print customers. They’ve decided “older, and not as many of them as there once were” means “not enough to give a shit about” and they’ve cut those people loose. So to make a local paper work you might have to give lots of papers away. You might need to market the shit out of your paper. You might need to invest in some newsboy-capped urchins to hand the thing out. It’s still gonna be a hell of a lot cheaper than literally anything else media companies are currently doing.

TRONC.

Absent a paper, a radio show might also be a good thing. The best thing, though, is to find the people already doing the work in these communities and support the shit out of THEM. Build up in the places you aren’t, instead of hunkering down where you are and hoping the President, whose entire appeal is imagined elitism, stops yelling at you. Stop hiding out and then wondering why nobody anywhere else knows you or loves you or values what you do.

Of course they don’t. You abandoned them years ago, on purpose, for money. I’m one of you and I hate you a lot of the time for it, too.

A.

SMV: Dr. John Live At The Newport Jazz Festival

It’s Carnival, so it’s Dr. John time:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

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The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

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