Monthly Archives: March 2017

Saturday Odds & Sods: Promised Land

Marbotikin Dulda by Frank Stella.

We seem to have hit peak pollen this week in New Orleans. Achoo. As a result, I awaken each day with watery eyes and a runny nose. Achoo. It’s most unpleasant as is my daily sinus headache. The good news is that we’re supposed to have some rain to wash away the sticky yellow stuff. The bad news is that it won’t happen until later today when we have plans to attend a festival not far from Adrastos World HQ. Oh well, that’s what umbrellas are for.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or watching teevee with the Insult Comedian, you know that Chuck Berry died at the age of 90.  This week’s theme song, Promised Land, is my favorite Chuck Berry tune. I was introduced to it at the first Grateful Dead show I ever attended. It was a helluva opening number.

I have three versions for your entertainment: Berry’s original, the Band’s rollicking piano driven take from Moondog Matinee, and the Dead live in the Nutmeg State. It’s time to jet to the promised land, y’all.

I remain mystified as to why Chuck wanted to get out of Louisiana and go to Houston town. There’s no accounting for taste. Let’s ponder that as I insert the break, but not where the moon don’t shine.

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Heck, Yeah

Uh oh, I seem to have a galloping case of Gorsuchitis. That’s why I couldn’t type Fuck Yeah when the news came down that Ryan had pulled the abominable GOP health care bill. I was not surprised. They were bleeding votes all day as every concession made to the denizens of Wingnutlandia cost them with sane conservatives. I think the nail in the coffin was when the House leadership promised to abolish the “health care essentials,” which were all the popular bits in the ACA. Thanks, Ryan.

The Brown House will pretend that Trump lobbied hard for the bill. He did not. He only met with large groups of GOPers instead of holding small meetings in the Oval Office. Nothing moves votes like personal attention from a President. I guess Trump didn’t want to interrupt his teevee watching. Also, never forget this photo-op from yesterday:

The Insult Comedian on a road to nowhere.

I never want to hear about Dukakis in the tank after Trump in the truck. Trump should have been working the phone instead of playing in a truck. Schmuck.

There are already signs that Steve Bannon’s allies in the media are sharpening their knives for Paul Ryan. Bannon has long had it out for Ryan and anyone who thinks he won’t go for the throat after this fiasco is kidding themselves. It may not be today but it’s coming. Believe me.

Republicans will attempt to minimize this disaster but I would like to remind them that the Clinton administration had a hard time passing significant first-term legislation after their health care plan died. We’ve learned how few GOPers are afraid of a mendacious, unpopular president* Thanks, Donald.

Finally, kudos to everyone who attended town halls and called their congresscritters to urge a vote against this atrocious bill. The pressure worked. Thanks, y’all.

Vive les Maquis.

 

Trump and the unfortunate addiction to spectacle

If you want to look for a “life imitating art” moment for today’s healthcare vote, it has to be this one from the movie “Black Mass.”

James “Whitey” Bulger tells his associate exactly what Trump told Republicans by calling for this vote: “You wanna take your shot? Take your shot. But make it your fuckin’ best because if I get up, I’ll eat you.”

This whole thing is horrifying: The potential repeal of the healthcare law, the CBO’s estimate of 24 million people losing coverage, the way in which our government can’t seem to run for three hours without falling all over itself… Say what you want to about the eight years of W., but compared to this, well… at least his stupid was just stupid. It wasn’t vindictive, blind-sighted and angry.

The one thing that makes it just so fascinating is the same thing that makes people slow down at a massive freeway wreck, despite pissing and moaning about the gaper’s block: It’s the rarity of spectacle.

This is how Donald Trump has made his money and gained his fame: He kept people guessing and he always delivered a cliffhanger.

He sued the NFL. Who does that?

He bragged to Billy Bush about sexual assault. Who does that?

He kept Omarosa on Season 1, week after week. Who does that?

The answer is Trump, because he knows what few people are willing to admit: Humans don’t like the safe play and we want to see if there’s going to be a car wreck.

Name the last time a president went to congress without knowing if he had the votes to get something done, especially something this big and this early in his term.

Name the last time regular citizens (or people like me who are abnormal but still don’t pay attention to politics) were aware that a big vote was coming and waiting to see it like “must-see TV.”

This is Gary Cooper in “High Noon” or John Wayne in “Rio Bravo” or Brett Favre throwing another fucking rocketball into triple coverage.

The spectacle works on TV because it has no real impact. You knew Cooper and The Duke would be fine. As for Favre, well, at least if you weren’t in Vegas, his errors wouldn’t cost you anything.

The same couldn’t be said for Trump to this point, given his actions cost this world the USFL and Billy Bush his job. The Omarosa thing still remains baffling, but minor issue. And perhaps that’s the best way to look at his jackassery to this point: It hurt people but not a lot of people most of us know or give a shit about. Meanwhile, the spectacle jacked a lot of people up through the roof.

But now, he’s playing with live ammo. He’s the paintballer with some serious weekend warrior skills joining the Marines. Lives are actually at risk here and yet he seems to think we’re still playing paintball.

In that case, he’s taking his best shot.

Let’s see if someone gets up and eats him.

Friday Catblogging: Jeepers Creepers

Writing about Neil Gorsuch’s propensity to say gosh and golly yesterday made me think of Johnny Mercer’s slangy lyrics as applied to Della Street’s devil eyes:

Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those eyes?
Gosh all, git up, how’d they get so lit up?
Gosh all, git up, how’d they get that size?
Golly gee, when you turn those heaters on
Woe is me, got to put my cheaters on
Jeepers creepers, where’d ya get those peepers?
Oh, those weepers, how they hypnotize.
Where’d ya get those eyes?

Heere’s Della:

Here’s the man himself singing Jeepers Creepers by golly:

Speaking Of Aggie Jokes…

… Rick Perry is back in the news. Apparently, he has time on his hands now that he’s Trump’s Energy Secretary. He recently “wrote” an op-ed piece on a matter of supreme importance to his fellow Aggies: the Texas A&M student election. I am not making this up. I owe a debt of gratitude to Slate’s Elliot Hannon for writing about Perry’s op-ed in the Houston Chronicle.

It turns out that the Aggies elected-not a sheep-the school’s first gay student body President, Bobby Brooks who won due to a glow stick related disqualification of his main opponent whose father is a major GOP donor. Hand to God, I am not making this up.

Brooks’ win, however, came after another candidate, top vote-getter Robert McIntosh, faced accusations of voter intimidation—for which he was later cleared—and was ultimately disqualified for failing to expense glow sticks used in a campaign video of some sort. The expense violation was then appealed and adjudicated in the appropriate college forum and it was determined Brooks was the winner.

I wonder if Bobby is aware of this chestnut with lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer:

Now that we’ve dealt with glow-worms, it’s time for an excerpt from Perry’s magisterially stupid article. I wonder if he had one of DOE’s nuclear scientists write it for him. Those eggheads are bound to be disturbed by GLOW STICK GATE. There could be nuclear radiation involved:

As Texas’ first Aggie governor and as someone who was twice elected Yell Leader of Texas A&M University, I am deeply troubled by the recent conduct of A&M’s administration and Student Government Association (SGA) during the Aggie student-body president elections for 2017-2018

<SNIP>

Every Aggie ought to ask themselves: How would they act and feel if the victim was different? … Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks? … We all know that the administration, the SGA and student body would not have permitted such a thing to happen. The outcome would have been different if the victim was different… Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley must explain why she chose to overturn a fairly won election and disqualify thousands of votes on the basis of anonymous complaints and flimsy technicalities. Chief Justice Shelby James must explain why she treated these cases as annoyances rather than with respect… Robert McIntosh was not treated the same as his competitors.

That’s right, y’all. Rick Perry still fears gay cooties, which have now infected his alma mater. Methinks, like many other right-wing homophobes, Ricky baby doth protest too much. I particularly enjoyed the detail about his being elected twice as Aggie Yell Leader. Rah fucking rah. Sis-boom fucking bah.

I wasn’t able to find a decent picture of Perry armed with his megaphone but here’s one of former Governor Oops with school mascot Reveille:

I think we all know who was the brains of that outfit…

In addition to his time as Aggie Yell Leader, Perry did a stint on Dancing With The Stars. I didn’t see it but this animated GIF looks rather Yell Leaderish to me:

I, for one, am glad that the Insult Comedian has brought school spirit back to the Federal government. Dubya was a cheerleader at Yale and now we have the dancin’ Energy Secretary. Nobody’s going to accuse this bozo of being low energy…

There *is* one good thig I can say about Perry’s nutty op-ed. I don’t think he lies in it. That’s a major accomplishment for a member of the lyingest administration ever.

Your President* Speaks: The Truth Is Not His Middle Name

The Insult Comedian gave an interview to Time Magazine’s Michael Scherer about truth and falsehood” wherein he lied like an antique Persian rug. He even recycled some old lies. It’s good to know that he espouses at least one green cause. Of course, both he and Jill Stein are Putin fans, which means I should recycle my old nickname for her: the Crunchy Granola Machiavelli. That one never gets old.

I’m only going to publish a few Trumpian whoppers since the WaPo does such a good job debunking his bunk. Make sure you read that article. The president* really outdid himself on the alternative fact front this time.

“NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. … What I said about NATO was true, people aren’t paying their bills.”

As if the Beavis-Duce administration would let that happen. Repeat after me: it’s an alliance that’s kept the peace, not a protection racket.

“Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance.”

He thinks he can get away with his bullshit by using air quotes? What is he now, a sorority girl? How stupid does he think we are? Yeah, I know: tremendously, bigly stupid.

He also denied his big lie about Cruz the Elder’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination:

“Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.”

The National Enquirer is a newspaper? Who knew? I thought it was terlet paper.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. It’s a paraphrase of a line from a Squeeze tune, The Truth. This video includes Chris Difford’s lyrics and that’s the truth. Believe me.

 

 

Quote Of The Day: Goodness Gracious, Golly Gee, Gosh Gorsuch

I’m on the record as a Dahlia Lithwick fan. She outdid herself the other day in a piece about the Gorsuch confirmation hearings, by golly:

There is no good way out of this tangle for Judge Gorsuch. For at least some of us in the room, the two straight days of performative big-hearted Westernness is beginning to chafe. No amount of references to midcentury paddle-wielding nuns and boyish mutton-busting extravaganzas can cover for refusing to answer even the most basic questions about doctrine or precedent. And even though Gorsuch is extremely affable and warm, one can’t escape the growing sense that the nominee we are watching today was hatched in an underground Federalist Society lab, with spare body parts stolen from Atticus Finch, Richie Cunningham, and Snoopy. And at some point you want to gently remind him that 1950s television called and it wants its vocabulary back.

I can’t find the quote but Gore Vidal once lamented that right-wingers spoke like maiden aunts in 1930’s B-movies. I guess we should be relieved that they’ve moved forward in time to 1950’s teevee by golly.

I’ve only watched bits and pieces of the Gorsuch hearings. He’s following the 2005 Roberts script by being affable and saying absolutely nothing. It was annoying in 2005 but infuriating in 2017. The Garland nomination changed everything. Gorsuch’s protestations that he’s an non-political judge ring hollow as the GOP’s humbug threatens to smother the Capital in noxious fumes of hypocrisy.

As Gorsuch himself would surely say, this whole thing is a gosh darn shame.

Lethal Dose

trump_ryan_trumpcare_snakeoil

Today the House votes on the hastily concocted toxic brew they’ve come up with to replace Obamacare…right now the big question appears to be whether they can make it awful enough to appeal to the “Freedom” Caucus while not losing any of what the Times calls “moderate Republicans” (note: this is how the Overton window marches ever rightward).

Conservatives are upset by the failure of the House bill to repeal a set of regulations in Mr. Obama’s signature health law, which require insurers to cover a base set of benefits, like maternity care, preventive services, wellness checkups and rehabilitative services. These “essential health benefits” raise the cost of insurance and prevent companies from offering stripped-down options, the conservatives say.

“How can you talk about repealing the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, without repealing the essential health benefits?” asked Representative Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican who attended the meeting with Mr. Pence.

Regardless of today’s outcome, any normal liberal/progressive political party would have a field day with this. “They’re voting to ‘repeal essential benefits'” should be a message/talking point that becomes reflexively associated with Trump/Ryan care. But…Democrats…so, instead…

Representative Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho, likened the swirling cloud of uncertainty to the situation in November 2003, when the House approved a bill adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare after a roll-call vote that lasted nearly three hours in the middle of the night. The bill passed, 220 to 215, after House Republican leaders put down a conservative rebellion.

Yeah, that won’t surprise me. Then we’ll have a few news cycles devoted to the politics and spin, and finally…a relatively quiet death in the Senate. Rinse, repeat…and get used to the idea of government as little more than reality television through at least 2020…which is, well, not exactly all fine and good, but survivable…unless and until, heaven forbid, you get a real crisis…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Here’s Blood In Your Eye

I know nothing about Manning Long’s work but I know a good title when I see one.

The Americans Thread: Bugging Out

Hunger was the main theme of the third episode of The Americans. We heard Tuan the Vietnamese commie kid’s story about eating “garbage off the streets” back home and saw a flashback to Philip’s time as a hungry Russian lad. I was half-way worried that this bloke would knock on my door:

It could be worse. Simon Le Bon Bon might be there with Duran Duran:

That’s the last wolf song for now. I promise, promise.

I almost needed a snack after watching the episode, but resisted because I was afraid that Aussie Midges had invaded my fridge. Oh yeah, The Midges is the buggy title of this pestiferous episode.  As far as I know, they have nothing to do with Patricia Hitchcock’s character in Strangers On A Train

I’m still trying to avoid spoilers so I’ll send you to the break with the song they played as Philip and Elizabeth packed a corpse into a rental car. (It’s not the first time they’ve done that, so how can it be a spoiler?) I’d hate to be the guy who rented that ride after them. It Hertz just thinking about it.

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Tea About The Tillerson

I had a lot of fun with my first post about Trump’s Secretary of State: Tea for the Tillerson. It’s time for a variation on that theme and meme. The above meme reflects the fact that Rex Tillerson is an empty suit with neither power nor influence. It’s fascinating that a man who wielded *real* power at Exxon/Mobil is under the thumb of a 35-year-old real estate developer and his sloppy neo-Fascist pal. This is no way to run a railroad, let alone a country.

It has become painfully obvious that Tillerson is out of the loop on major decisions: 

 At times, the president seems to be actively undermining the secretary. While Tillerson was in China over the weekend, taking an approach so conciliatory that he was even dropping Beijing’s favorite diplomatic buzzwords into his remarks, Trump was on Twitter complaining that China had “done little to help!” deter North Korea’s bad behavior—an accusation the Chinese have bristled at.

This is the second time Trump has said disparaging things about a country while Tillerson was visiting it. When Tillerson visited Mexico in February, trying to smooth over Trump-era differences as the natural disagreements of “two strong, sovereign countries,” the president was proudly telling a crowd in Washington about his administration’s work to get “bad dudes” out of the United States and predicting that Tillerson would have a tough trip. Those inclined to give this administration points for strategic acumen might see this as a kind of good cop, bad cop scenario, but it looks more like incoherence to me.

Tillerson is the most disrespected and undercut Secretary of State since William Rogers way back in the Nixon administration. Nixon ran foreign policy out of the White House and Henry Kissinger was a skilled bureaucratic knife-fighter. They at least had a coherent foreign policy even if much of it was appalling. Trump hasn’t a clue and neither do his key advisers. Jared and Steve know as much about foreign policy as Oscar the cat.

The administration’s recent saber-rattling on North Korea was not only shitty policy, it was poorly timed. Tillerson was in the Republic of Korea and issued a threat while the Korean government was in crisis after the impeachment and removal from office of President Park Geun-hye. Note to the Trumpers: the ROK does not like being referred to as South Korea. What’s next? Calling the PRC, Red China?

I remain mystified as to why the head of a massive multi-national corporation traded real power for playing second-string to Kushner and Bannon. I’m not sure where the new National Security adviser fits into this equation, but at least he’s not crazy or a Russian pawn like Flynn. It’s unclear, however, if he’ll prove to be McMasterful…

Team Trump’s next foreign policy trick is for Tillerson to skip the upcoming NATO summit, then travel to Putinville shortly thereafter. Way to send a signal to our friends where they rate, y’all. Whatever its flaws, NATO has helped keep the peace in Europe for the last 68 years. The Russians want to undermine and divide NATO in favor of chaos and right-wing nationalism. The Trumpers are playing along because the president* thinks foreign policy is a protection racket, and Bannon wants to provoke some kind of Armageddon that will bring on his new world order. I have no idea what Tillerson thinks about any of this. Repeat after me: he’s an empty suit.

There was a swell opinion piece in the Guardian that posed this question: Is Rex Tillerson the Weakest Secretary of State of All-Time? In a word: Yes. It’s an office that’s been filled by a long line of distinguished Americans: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, William Henry Seward, John Hay, Charles Evans Hughes, Henry Stimson, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, George Schultz, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry to name a few. It’s a long list and Rex Tillerson’s name doesn’t fit. He’s starting to make JFK and LBJ’s mild-mannered, long-suffering Secretary of State Dean Rusk look masterful.

Presidents have long tried to run foreign policy out of the White House. But it’s particularly unnerving with these bozos in charge. They don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing and their main talent seems to be fighting with our closest friends in the world: Australia, Mexico, Germany, and Great Britain. How is it possible for a Republican administration to fight with center-right governments in Australia and the UK? It’s a rare talent and the Trumpers have it.

Some GOPers insist that Tillerson is lying low and will emerge as a force to be reckoned with. I believe that’s called whistling past the graveyard. Hopefully, the Trumpers won’t provoke a war somewhere in the world to distract attention from their ineptitude and corruption. That’s where I see this heading, especially with a weak Secretary of State whose main qualification for the job is that he looks like a diplomat. And that’s the weak tea about the Tillerson.

Finally, I have a theme song suggestion for Tillerson’s State Department:

UPDATE: REX SPEAKS- The ineffectual Secretary of State has this to say:

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” he said. “My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”

After a conversation with President Donald Trump that Tillerson described as “about the world,” the President offered him the position.

“I was supposed to retire in March, this month. I was going to go to the ranch to be with my grandkids,” he said, adding later: “My wife convinced me. She was right. I’m supposed to do this.”

Sounds like a Fifties sitcom to me: My wife made me do it. Take this job, please.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Satan Is Real

The first time I saw the cover of Satan Is Real, I was convinced it was a parody cover. It is not. It’s the real thing. For good or ill, the cover was actually the idea of the Louvin Brothers:

The fiery setting pictured on the cover of this album was conceived and built by the Louvin Brothers themselves, using chiefly rocks, scrap rubber, and lots of imagination. The scene became a little too realistic, though, when Ira and Charlie were very nearly burned while actually directing the photography for this dramatic cover photo.

That gives a whole new meaning to the old song, There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.

I mentioned parody covers, here are a couple of pretty good ones:

Despite the corny/creepy cover Satan Is Real is widely regarded as one of the Louvin Brothers best records. The whole album itself is not on YouTube, but here are two tracks:

Your Secretary of State

I am sicker about this man sitting in Kerry’s chair than I am about Trump at the Resolute desk, guys: 

Perhaps, by breaking with a half-century of past practice and flying off without the regular State Department correspondents on board, Mr. Tillerson was hoping to continue to operate in a style that worked well for him as chief executive of Exxon Mobil. In that job, he could negotiate complex oil and gas deals behind closed doors and then inform his board of directors and shareholders afterward.

A reminder of the man who occupied that office just previous:

I mean good God: 

Tam told Kerry the Viet Cong could hear the Swift boats coming from 3,000 feet away, and he gently suggested the lumbering Americans never stood a chance.

“We were guerrillas,” he said. “We were never where you were shooting.”

“I’m glad we’re both alive,” Kerry told him as they shook hands, each putting two hands into the gesture.

Good. God.

A.

Margaret Sullivan Did Not Come to Play with You Hos

Press hos, specifically: 

With this uplifting example, I inaugurate an occasional feature: Access Watch, tracking the special treatment — phone calls, interviews, perhaps the lone press seat on the secretary of state’s plane — that can result when media people play nice.

True, it is not the proper job of journalists to provide favorable coverage but rather to hold powerful figures accountable.

But that doesn’t get you far these days, at least in terms of access.

So we’ll be taking note of what does.

I wanted to pull this bit out, because it’s telling:

Marantz quotes a more veteran journalist about the newcomers: “At best, they don’t know what they’re doing. At worst, you wonder whether someone is actually feeding them softball questions.”

Really? You wonder if someone is feeding them softball questions? Like what, something like this? 

Mr. President, as the nation is at odds over war, with many organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus pushing for continued diplomacy through the U.N., how is your faith guiding you? And what should you tell America? Well, what should America do collectively as you instructed before 9/11? Should it be pray?

Mr. President, how is your faith guiding you to attack Iraq and how can Americans be your prayer warriors? What parts of the Bible are you reading to guide your decisions about bombing Baghdad and is there a Psalm you’d recommend we keep in mind to ease our thoughts of murdered children?

Jesus shit, nobody has to feed these people softball questions. Their natural inclination in good times is to spend the day complaining that some blogger has their favorite chair, and this year they’re mostly pissed because the correspondents’ dinner won’t be fun anymore. They’d rather be covering something NORMAL, and this is all just such a damn bummer, man, with the unhinged fascism.

They gasp when someone has the nerve to ask the president what every single one of us is thinking, which is “… dude, the fuck?”

I watched video of that moment and she could not have been more polite in asking why America was suddenly a xenophobic trash fire in public and if extortion was really the way we wanted to go with NATO, and the gasps were audible.

But sure, the real danger is that somebody is giving Breitbart a heads-up about which Fox chyron pissed the president off this morning.

A.

Your President* Speaks: Trump Potpourri For $100, Alex

After a brief period of relative silence after his “Obama was mean to me” tweet, the Insult Comedian has been shooting his mouth off again.  We begin with this morning’s tweet storm via Parker Malloy:

It’s always good when someone else does the heavy-lifting by bringing Trump’s digital diarrhea together. We all know what he means by fake news: items he doesn’t like. If he doesn’t like them, they cannot be true. It’s the way his mind, such as it is, works when concocting a new word salad for the tweeter tube: add a few verys, too many exclamation points, and garnish with a dash of fake news.

A funnier recent tweet was his attack on Snoop Lion or is he Snoop Dogg again? I cannot keep up with Calvin Broadus’ stage names. I’m kind of surprised Trump doesn’t go on about Snoop’s fake names. There must be something sinister about not using the name Calvin. I bet British Intelligence is behind it or maybe the North Koreans. There’s bound to be a conspiracy. Bannon should get Roger Stone and Alex Jones on the Calvin conspiracy ASAP.

I, for one, wouldn’t have bothered to look at Snoop’s latest video prior to seeing this rant. It just makes Trump look small and petty, which is what he is. The news may be fake but Trump’s vindictiveness is not and I’m not lion about that…

Let’s turn away from the Tweeter Tube and move on to a quote from an interview the president* did with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Carlson seems to have forsaken bow ties, which is a pity since I enjoyed calling him a bow-tie mothertucker.

“Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.” 

It’s nice that he interrupted his teevee watching to read about one of our craziest previous Presidents. Anyone think he’ll finish the book? I wonder which tome it is: Arthur Schlesinger? Jon Meacham? He said we was “looking” at it so maybe it’s this one:

It’s ironic that nice is one of the Insult Comedian’s favorite words. I guess it’s because it’s short and simple enough to be in what Philip Roth called Trump’s 77-word vocabulary. Roth not only reads books, he writes them without a ghost writer. Imagine that. See Donald read. Read, Donald, read.

Speaking of niceness, Trump continues to go back-and-forth on the subject of his predecessor. He’s gone from calling former President Obama “a bad and sick guy” to vouching for his niceness. Of course, that’s like calling Charlie Manson as a character witness. Here’s what the Insult Comedian said on Fox yesterday:

“He’s been very nice to me personally, but his people haven’t been nice,” Trump told Fox News’ Jesse Watters. “While he’s nice personally, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of nice things happening behind the scenes, and that’s unfortunate.”

This is a classic Trump formulation. He begins with a mild compliment and concludes with an insult. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

Before the president* said that Obama was “very nice” he made a lame joke about him at his joint presser with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps.”

That’s a harmless jab by Trumpian standards, but it led to the dirtiest look ever given an Oval One by a visiting dignitary:

See Angela glare. Glare, Angela, glare.

That’s the opposite of a poker face. I cannot wait until Tracey Ullman give us her take on the Merkel-Trump confab. If you haven’t seen her Merkel, it’s to die for:

That concludes this edition of Your president* Speaks. I’d give you a reading assignment but I’m trying to keep costs down. Class dismissed.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – just the headlines edition

Folks – this week I decided to take a break from perusing Freeperville threads and just hit the high notes.

IllAlertTheMediaGeilgud

Twitter: Car drove up to a WH checkpoint-driver claimed to have a bomb.Area around WH closed

On further examination, the prankster was deemed to have higher mental acuity and more ability to be President than The Darnold.

Tests on the prankster’s dog for VP eligibility are still pending.

Deutsche Bahn: Saturday Groping Special

This is NOT a Donald Trump story, nor is Andrea Merkel amused in the slightest.

[March 15, 2017] Poll: President Trump’s Approval Rating Is On The Rise

…because there’s nowhere to go but up…

Connecticut [State Sen] Kennedy Thinks State Should Own Your Organs

Hammond B3s confiscated pre-emptively.

Japan set to deliver aircraft to Philippines this month

This is NOT a repeat from 1941.

Trump: Elizabeth Warren running against me would be ‘a dream’

…the kind of dream where you’re naked, and people are laughing and pointing.

FReeper Canteen ~ Sunday Chapel ~ You Are Not Superman ~ 19 March 2017

Now that SEK is dead, I’m the goddamn Batman.

Feinstein: I Think Trump Is ‘Going to Get Himself Out’

See “pointing and laughing” comment above…

AARP to Report Health Care Votes

betty-white-retirement-funds

Wall Street’s Feminist ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Makes America Great Again

Great.

Or assholes…

One of those..

bro

More headlines

OK – HEADLYlines after the fold…

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Middle Eastern Burritos and Other Immigration/Food Discussions

At dinner the other night we were trying to figure out if any other country had AS diverse an experience of food cultures as America. Did Europe have as many Mexican restaurants? Did South American countries have Czech food?

Nobody at the table had traveled enough to say definitively, but this Eater article gets to some of the issues raised in the food industry by a sustained anti-immigrant campaign on the part of government. 

A.

Somebody Else’s Babies

Half a dozen years ago, Mr. A and I were in the adoption agency office looking at brochures.

Not for babies. You don’t have to sell people who are thinking about adoption on babies. Small, squirmy, sticky-out-tongue babies who rustle and snuzzle at your shoulder and snorfle into your ear? You don’t need to pitch those to people. No, we were looking at brochures for parents.

One couple had written a letter to their prospective birth mother explaining all the advantages their child would have: A love for music, for art, a house full of books and laughter. Another made full-color picture pages, designed like a children’s book, showing the two women swinging on swings at the park, playing with a golden retriever in a large yard, pulling nephews in a sled through the snow. Look, see how your baby will live. All these materials were designed to make a biological parent comfortable with an adoptive one, comfortable enough to hand an infant over.

Because the agency often facilitated interracial adoption, the counselor suggested that when Mr. A and I made our brochure, we make it clear we lived and worked in diverse environments. At the time I had an African-American boss and another from Jamaica, colleagues and contacts from everywhere. Our beloved neighbors, a second family to us both, interracial marriages and relationships in both our families, these could help convince a black woman two white people from Wisconsin should raise her child.

(Two white people from Wisconsin is what I think of whenever somebody in front of me at Starbucks orders a “double flat white.”)

The intent was all outward, from the agency’s perspective. You just want a baby. The baby’s birth mother and father want to choose you. I was too selfishly wrapped up in my desire for a baby to consider what kind of baby we should want. Kind of baby? The BABY kind of baby, the one who sucks on his fingers or kicks her tiny feet. We didn’t go through with adoption, not because we didn’t want to but because our biological long shot won.

Still, I thought of that agency, of those brochures, when Steve King flapped his stupid face again: Somebody else’s babies. Not only has he not apologized, not only has he made it worse, but over the weekend his Republican colleagues — who let’s be fair were fine with every other racist thing he says — made their unofficial shrugs official: 

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said this week that she didn’t condone Rep. Steve King‘s (R-Iowa) controversial comments on immigration, but she wouldn’t call for his resignation, Politico reported.

At a town hall meeting in their home state on Friday, Ernst said she would not ask for King to step down, despite calls by many in the audience for her to do so, according to the report.

“I do not ask for [his resignation], I will not ask for that, I do not condone his language. But his voters will make that determination,” she said, according to Politico. “We don’t condone that language, we try to speak respectfully. We all need to act with a level of respect.”

Yeah! We need to act with a level of respect when we are suppressing the voting rights of minority communities and taking away social programs that might help minority kids and undercutting public education in majority-minority cities! We need to SAY nice things while we’re doing all that. We can’t give the GAME AWAY. We can’t just say it outright: Somebody else’s babies.

Good Christ. Like babies have owners, instead of parents. Like they know where they belong and should stay there. Like everyone isn’t somebody else’s baby.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: The Smithereens Live At Infinity Hall

Here’s a 2011 show courtesy of Connecticut Public Broadcasting:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House

Elijah and the Ravens by Ralph Chessé, 1945.

Winter played a fleeting return engagement in New Orleans this week. Unlike the Mid-March blizzard in the Northeast, it wasn’t anything to write home about but we ran the heater and shivered a bit. I’m not a fan of the new practice of naming winter storms even if the first one is named after a famous theatrical character, STELLA. Unless, that is, it’s named for the Hunter-Garcia ballad Stella Blue. The mere thought of a blizzard makes me blue so that could be it.

It may have been chilly of late but Spring allergy season is upon us with a vengeance. I have a mild case of red-eye but I’m used to that. A worse pestilence is this year’s flea crop. We haven’t had a hard freeze for several years so the nasty little buggers are dining on Oscar and Della Street. All we can do is treat the house, medicate the cats, and hope for the best. The idea of putting a flea collar on Della is particularly unappealing. She’s been known to draw blood so I’ll pass. Chomp.

This week’s theme song comes from R.E.M.’s classic 1987 Document album; more on the album anon. It’s my favorite record in their catalog and Disturbance At The Heron House is the kat’s meow. The lyrics were inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is another reason I like it so much.

Here are two versions. The original studio track and one from R.E.M.’s appearance on MTV Unplugged. The second video has Radio Song as lagniappe.

The “followers of chaos out of control” indeed. In fact, they can follow me to the other side after the break. I hope it’s sufficiently chaotic.

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