Monthly Archives: August 2017

This Is Massive

While we’ve all been focused on what’s happening in Southeast Texas, Politico’s Josh Sawsey broke a momentous story last night:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.

The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case, these people said. One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering.

It’s no secret that federal and state authorities often engage in turf battles over investigations. I’m thrilled to learn that’s not the case in this important investigation of egregious white-collar criminality. Donald Trump is not just an asshole white nationalist, he’s a criminal who associates with other criminals from both the Italian-American and Russian mobs.

Speaking of criminal associates, I somehow missed the story from late July:

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, Brian A. Benczkowski, said on Tuesday that he helped Russia’s Alfa Bank investigate whether its computer servers contacted the Trump Organization.

Mr. Benczkowski had told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he represented Alfa Bank, which is one of Russia’s largest financial institutions and whose owners have ties to President Vladimir V. Putin.

On Tuesday, as Mr. Benczkowski came before the panel for his confirmation hearing, he acknowledged that his work for Alfa Bank directly touched on suspicions related to the bank in connection with the Trump-Russia affair.

 Is there anyone  in the Trump administration* without ties to the Russians? They seem rather hard to find. Benczkowski has not and should not be confirmed. Do they have a job lined up for Felix Sater next?

The news about the Mueller-Schneiderman compact (I know there’s nothing formal but I like how that sounds) may lead to renewed speculation that the Insult Comedian will try to fire Mueller. I don’t think that will happen: it’s apparent that one of Kelly’s conditions for taking the Chief of Staff job was that the president* keep his tiny hands off the Mueller probe. Kelly, however, is unable to prevent Trump from acting so guilty. Of course, he *is* guilty.

The last word goes to the late Paul Hester with a tune he wrote for Split Enz:

War, What Is It Good For?

erik_prince_blood_money_725

For Erik Prince…apparently it’s good for cost-plus, no-bid government contracts and (blood) money by the wheelbarrow. While Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast residents continue to fight floodwaters, Prince made his case in a New York Times op-ed.

My proposal is for a sustainable footprint of 2,000 American Special Operations and support personnel, as well as a contractor force of less than 6,000 (far less than the 26,000 in country now). This team would provide a support structure for the Afghans, allowing the United States’ conventional forces to return home.

Sort of like Rambo III, but for the 21st century. No word on pesky liability issues.

And then there’s the source, i.e., for whatever reason, the NY Times decided that Erik fucking Prince was fit to print, a classic “opinions differ on the shape of the earth” rationale if there ever was one. What’s next? A Charles Manson column explaining Helter Skelter? Hey…both sides.

It’s one thing to be a merchant of death. Prince made a career out of it. It’s quite another to openly lobby for taxpayer funded, perpetual mercenary war…particularly at a time when we could and should probably look for better ways to spend trillions of dollars…like, I don’t know, maybe on flood and storm protection.

Just saying.

Thursday Bonus Catblogging: Houston Fundraiser Edition

Our Houston Food Bank fundraiser has been a howling success thus far. Speaking of howling, my cats want to help. They’re not internet savvy and I vetoed the idea of door-to-door begging. That’s why we settled on a special edition of catblogging. Who could possibly say no to Oscar and Della?

First, the O-Man with his trademark humility. Click here if he moves you to give.

Della Street is famous for her bad attitude. Click here if she moves you to give.

It wouldn’t be a special edition of catblogging if we didn’t feature one of our recurring guest kitties. I’m sure you remember Dennie the Krewe du Vieux cat. She’s here to thank you but click here if her gratitude moves you to give.

On behalf of the feline power trio and everyone at First Draft, I’d like to thank you for your generosity and support.

I’ll give the last word to Paul Rodgers singing a soul classic written by Issac Hayes and David Porter:

Della is outraged that I didn’t post the Sam & Dave original. I am no match for the wrath of Della Street:

Old Tweets Never Die

There’s a  hurricane themed tweet from February making the rounds on the tweeter tube right now. I have no idea if the twit who tweeted it is a troll but it’s some crazy shit:

Where to start? Michelle Obama wasn’t FLOTUS in September, 2005 so it doesn’t matter if she went shopping. Besides, that’s a picture of then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They should be frying Rice instead of Michelle. I don’t give a rat’s ass if Condi went shopping right after Katrina. Correct me if I’m wrong but there appears to be an iPhone in the picture. The first generation iPhone wasn’t released until June, 2007. Oops.

I didn’t bother to investigate the Rice photo because it’s more fun to pile on to Bikergirl4Trump whoever the hell she?he/it is. My hunch is that it’s a Team Trump troll because the account wasn’t created until March, 2016. Neither subtlety nor accuracy is important in Trumper troll world.

Old tweets never die but I wish they would fade away.

Then & Now: Katrina & Harvey

People who know me well, know that I don’t care for poetry. One exception to this rather malleable rule is TS Eliot. I’ve been thinking of The Wasteland the last few days while watching events in Houston unfold. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month.” August is the cruelest month in the Gulf South.

I put it less elegantly but more succinctly on FB:

I’ve been pondering some of the differences between my storm, Katrina and Hurricane Harvey. (For the pedants out there, I’m lumping the federal flood  in with Katrina.) There weren’t a plethora of social media outlets in 2005. We had to rely on message boards, emails, phone calls,and smoke signals to get the message out.  Eventually, we got in touch with a guy in our neighborhood who told us that our house hadn’t flooded but that our neighbor’s tree was leaning on it. It turned out not to be a big deal. The tree was too weak to total the back of Adrastos World HQ. So it goes.

In 2017, social media is, on balance, a plus. I already know how my friends in Houston, Galveston, and Corpus Christi fared during the storm. They’ve been lucky so far. So far. If their luck holds, they’ll have to deal with the survivor’s guilt I’ve had since Katrina. It beats the hell out of being homeless or drowning.

Social media, however, is a double-edged sword. There are Trumpers informing us that the Kaiser of Chaos is doing a better job with Harvey than Obama did with Katrina. No fucking comment. Then there are some wayward lefties who remain convinced that red state residents are less worthy than those in blue states. This is, of course, rubbish as our old friend Jude pointed out on da twittahs:

There are also some folks who think that the “Cajun Navy” is a para-military group bent on mayhem and other assorted bad deeds. Why? Many of those guys voted for Trump and have some retrograde views. I don’t know about you but if somebody saves me from drowning, I’m not asking who they voted for. I had a surreal argument about whether members of the original Cajun Navy shot and killed people after Katrina. There’s no evidence that they shot anyone. I was asked to prove a negative: that they did not do so. I declined the invitation.  I guess this person would have been opposed to the demon private boats that did most of the evacuating at Dunkirk.

In fact, the Cajun Navy group that set off those people has been repudiated by other “units.” They claimed to have been robbed and were unmasked as scamsters. I told you so. I love saying that, y’all. The people I argued with still don’t get it. Schmucks.

Here’s the deal: help can come from the unlikeliest sources. People with crappy politics can help people too. We never had these arguments before 2005 and it’s outrageous how many people to my left sound like Republicans circa 2005. I’ll let it go now but first something from my friend Troy Gilbert who was part of the *original* Cajun Navy:

Anyone who thinks that’s sinister should put down the smart phone and take a break from social media. In a perfect world, it would be best for federal, state, and local authorities to take care of all relief and rescue operations. We don’t live in such a world and it’s getting more imperfect all the time. I guess I didn’t let it go. I will now.

One thing Harvey survivors will have to get used to is telling their hurricane story over and over again. Dr. A and I have done it many times over the years and it gets old but it’s usually asked out of curiosity and empathy. It’s what happens when you’re a part of a historic event. Anyway, prepare to expound, y’all. You might be able to get some free meals out of it if you play your cards right. My old friends Maitri and Domingo may have to charge double. They’re Katrina *and* Harvey survivors. Sadly, they’re not alone in this.

I bitched about twitter earlier. It’s only fair to share something positive even if it’s self-serving. It’s from a complete stranger:

I expect I’ll have more to say about Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. I wanted to keep this personal so I skipped discussing the Insult Comedian’s embarrassing Texas sojourn. I think there’s a Your President* Speaks post in my future.

Last word time. This has been my personal theme song for the last few days:

Save Who You Can

Update the final: WE SET A RECORD! Guys, in one week we raised more than $3,000 for the Houston Food Bank. That’s a First Draft record, more than we’ve raised for any cause so far. You all did GREAT!

Thank you all for donating and for doing something to help Houston. They’re gonna need every penny. You’re great people and I’m proud to know each and every one of you.

Update 4: AND JUST LIKE THAT IT’S $2,300! Can we do $2,500 by the end of the week? You all are rocking the house.

Update 3: We’re just shy of $1,800. We just need a little push to hit $2,000. There will be a special Houston Food Bank edition of catblogging tomorrow. How can you say no to Oscar, Della, and friends?

Update 2: Okay, guys? Less than one day. In about 14 hours, you raised more than $1,700 for the Houston Food Bank. This is incredible. Let’s keep it going! Let’s get to $2,000 by Friday.

I love this Internet.

Update 1: OMFG. We’re already at $575! That’s more than a year of free meals. Can we get to 2? Can we do $730 by Friday? You’re all amazing.

Okay, I’m sick of yelling at people on Twitter and I’m sick of watching this shit unfold without doing anything about it. Let’s get the First Draft Krewe started.

Let’s raise $365 for the Houston Food Bank.

Why them? They’re already on the ground, helping people, not parachuting in without community contacts. They’re feeding people ALREADY.

Why $365? Well, that’s enough to provide a year of free meals to somebody in Texas.

Can we get a year done by Friday?

I think we can. Hit the FIRST DRAFT link and we’ll add it all up and shovel it at them Friday.

Our fate is your fate, bitches.

A.

‘Please help us she a new born’

Why didn’t they evacuate?

We’re really gonna do this, huh?

Okay.

Three weeks after Kick was born I was so debilitated by physical pain, sleep deprivation and postpartum depression I could hardly breathe. The only places I had ever taken her were the doctor’s office and the grocery store, the latter over Mr. A’s terrified objections and my throat-constricting fear. I was still holding her gingerly, afraid I was going to hurt her walking from the kitchen to the living room and back again. That was as far as we got most days, back then.

The idea, even if we’d had the means, of putting her and our pets and everything important to us in a car and going to a hotel/motel/shelter/God knows where … I had the best-outfitted nursery on the planet, guys, with every modern convenience, and I thought I was gonna kill the baby all the time. I would 100 percent have stayed in that house until the waters rose over my head.

Why didn’t they evacuate? I don’t know what happened to empathy in this country, I really don’t. Do you have $500? In cash, right now, on you? Can you get it? Because that’s how much it will cost to get out for a day, even if you can, and you have no idea what you’ll come back to, or if you can come back, or when. Think about what it would be like to live like that, every single day, that close to the bone, and then think about what it would be like in a catastrophe.

You know what, forget empathy. Let’s try asking what happened to intelligence. Why didn’t you listen when every climate scientist and every environmentalist and everyone who understood public policy told you that wrecking the planet and underfunding public infrastructure would lead nowhere good? When three one-hundred-year storms hit in 12 years, why didn’t you pay attention then?

Or let’s try asking what happened to responsibility. What is our responsibility to that baby? What is our responsibility to her mother? What is our responsibility to one another? That person made choices you can armchair quarterback or did things you think you wouldn’t do? That doesn’t answer the question. What is our responsibility? To ourselves?

I keep seeing comments about how inspiring it is to see the kindness of strangers coming together to save who we can; that used to be what we called government, before government was a bad word, before it was everyone for himself, before saving people was a favor you did. Before you had to hope some stranger somewhere was kind. Before there were strangers, instead of fellow citizens, bound by contract, each to each. Our fate is your fate.

“Please help us she a new born.”

She’s safe now. Thousands aren’t, or won’t be.

And you can make yourself feel better about that, by saying they should have evacuated, or you can look at that baby and see your own baby, or yourself. You can push away the nagging feeling that you should do something by loudly making shit up about nonexistent scenarios in which you did everything right, or you could do what you’ll need done for you someday. Life isn’t a vending machine, no one makes perfectly sensible choices, babies are born in storms and saved by strangers.

As are we all.

A.

Houston: No Good Options

Hurricane Rita evacuation clusterfuck, 2005.  

I mentioned yesterday that an attempt to evacuate the sprawling Houston area for Hurricane Rita in 2005 resulted in an epic clusterfuck as you can see in the photo above.  Here’s how it was described by the Houston Chronicle:

“In the Houston area, the muddled flight from the city killed almost as many people as Rita did. An estimated 2.5 million people hit the road ahead of the storm’s arrival, creating some of the most insane gridlock in U.S. history. More than 100 evacuees died in the exodus. Drivers waited in traffic for 20-plus hours, and heat stroke impaired or killed dozens. Fights broke out on the highway. A bus carrying nursing home evacuees caught fire, and 24 died.”

This is why Texas Governor Greg Abbot and all the armchair evacuators on social media and the MSM are dead wrong. The state of Texas has declined to stage evacuation drills, devise an adequate contraflow scheme, or do anything that other jurisdictions-even the Gret Stet of Louisiana-do to facilitate evacuations. Texas conservatives hate guvmint even when it would help them personally. I guess the Texas GOP’s motto should be: Drown Free.

Any Houstonian who remembered the Rita clusterfuck would have declined to evacaute. The only way a mandatory evacuation would have worked is if it were ordered on Monday August 21. People simply would not have left then and many could not afford to do so. That’s something the armchair evacuators do not care about. They specialize in judging others while sitting high and dry in their Lazy-Boys, smart phone in hand.

I’ve evacuated twice for Hurricanes. It’s a miserable experience. I understand why people chose to hunker down. I have close friends in the Houston area and my stomach is in knots right now. Thus far none of them have had to boat out of their houses but it’s still raining in H-Town. What a fucking mess.

Hurricane Harvey is an unprecedented event. The rainfall totals are frightening. There were no good options available. It was going to be a clusterfuck no matter what. Backseat driving is always annoying. I suggest the armchair evacuators STFU and figure out how they can help after the waters recede.

Finally, Trump should stay away and not disrupt relief and rescue operations. He lives in an orange bubble and vaguely remembers that Bush got in deep shit over his response to Katrina. Trump should forget the photo-ops and give the people of Texas maximum federal resources and support. Go when the crisis subsides. The world does not revolve around Trump. He just thinks it does.

Since we’ve all got the Hurricane Harvey blues, the last word goes to Texas native Lightnin’ Hopkins with a song about endless rain you know where:

The Unpardonable Arpaio Pardon

I wanted to add my two cents worth to the Arpaio pardon discussion. Everything about it smells worse than a post-Katrina refrigerator. The president* did not allow the pardon process to unfold or even consult with the Justice Department before issuing it. I suspect someone told him that he *had* to do that, which means he did the opposite. Although there are times when he acts like a petulant toddler, part of Trump is an eternal teenager forever rebelling against authority even when he *is* the authority. I believe the proper term is arrested adolescence. Tom Petty would surely call him a rebel without a clue.

The MSM has underplayed the extent of Arpaio’s offenses against human decency and proper police conduct. He ran his jail like a medieval warlord, using various forms of torture and neglect against the prisoners. Like the Insult Comedian, he believes in “roughing up criminals” including those who are awaiting trial and thereby presumed innocent. The president* has told the world that he considers police brutality to be proper procedure. The Arpaio pardon reinforces that message as well as telling bigots that hatred is cool as long as you support Trump. It’s a new variation on the IOKIYAR theme: IOKIYAT or it’s okay if you’re a Trumper.

The most worrisome aspect of the Arpaio pardon is the precedent it sets for the Russia scandal.  It’s increasingly apparent that Trump plans to pardon his way out of legal jeopardy. The Arpaio pardon is a dress rehearsal for the main eventski. The potential of a wave of pardons will oblige Team Mueller to modify their tactics BUT it will not end the investigation. If Manafort, Kushner, and company accept pardons, they can still be compelled to testify. And they will not be able to take the Fifth because of the pardon. They will have to testify truthfully or face *other* charges because prospective pardons are flat-out illegal. Another round of pardons would add to the list of impeachable offenses, which is longer than Kevin Durant’s arms. Holy wingspan, Batman.

Acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt as much as the Arpaios and Nixons of the world would disagree. Russia scandal pardons would only serve to make Trump look even guiltier that does already. Bigly.

I’m uncertain if I’ve ever given Jimi Hendrix the last word but there’s no time like the present.

It’s The Water, Not The Wind

There’s a cookie-cutter aspect to teevee Hurricane coverage. They’re fixated on what category a storm is. It’s human nature to grab on to something tangible (in this case, a number) when confronting something inherently irrational such as a major storm system. Most of the damage Harvey has done has been *after* its category was reduced; it’s a tropical storm as of this writing. The wind is scary and produces spectacular pictures but it’s the water that does most of the damage.

Everyone who lived through Katrina and the subsequent federal flood is experiencing PTSD right now, especially since the 12th anniversary is a mere 2 days away. The images coming out of Houston are heartbreaking and depressingly familiar to those of us from the New Orleans metro area. We’re also hearing some of the same criticisms of those who live in Houston and elsewhere on the Texas Gulf Coast. Houston tried mandatory evacuations in 2005 and 2008. They were clusterfucks. What was called for this time around was an evacuation of low-lying and flood-prone areas. It would have had to start as early as Monday or Tuesday. It’s very hard to get people to do that. Additionally, many low-income people cannot afford the cost of evacuating for that long. There’s no easy or good way to handle a system as wet and dangerous as Harvey. Nature is always more powerful than human beings.

We’re seeing some tut-tutting on social media about the hypocrisy of Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn right now. Let’s stipulate that they’re hypocrites and assholes. They’ve both been malaka of the week and I call them by nasty names: Senator Cornhole and Tailgunner Ted. That’s irrelevant. People are suffering and need help. It doesn’t matter who represents them or whether it’s a blue or red state. People on the left shouldn’t sound like right-wingers circa 2005. I firmly believe that you become what you hate. It reminds me of a line from Justified wherein Raylan Givens said: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” Don’t be that asshole.

Finally, the fact that this deluge is happening in Houston makes it doubly horrible. The people of Houston opened their hearts to people fleeing the floodwaters in Southeast Louisiana in 2005. Some of those Louisianians never left Houston and now many of them have experienced flooding again, It’s called a double whammy and it’s never been crueler than it is right now.

We’re trying to figure out how First Draft can help the people of Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast. We’ll have an announcement sometime in the next few days. Ain’t nobody getting into Harvey zone until the rain relents. It’s the water, not the wind.

The last word goes to Houston native Rodney Crowell with his hurricane song, Telephone Road:

 

 

 

An Op-Ed Isn’t An Apology

If one more fucking person tweets Charlie Fucking Sykes into my timeline I’m gonna go full Bundy Ranch.

I mean it. I’m on day three of what I had been hoping was a three-day migraine, and someone just reminded me Andrew Sullivan is still employed. Andrew “the left after 9/11 is a fifth column” Sullivan.

The Hill published an opinion on the still-unfolding Hurricane Harvey from MICHAEL FUCKING BROWN pretending to have learned Important Lessons.

Allahpundit, who I chiefly remember cheering on Michelle Malkin’s roiling pit of orcs as they tore apart anyone insufficiently subservient to George W. Bush, just got blocked because apparently he’s NeverTrump now and that’s enough for someone to put him in front of me. I haven’t forgiven Little Green Footballs for what they did to John Kerry and Jill Carroll and I never will, I don’t care how pro-Dem they seem to be today.

Ditto Jennifer Rubin, Ana Navarro, Bill Kristol, the whole lot of them. Most of them AREN’T EVEN SORRY about all the years they spent with their tongues in the GOP’s mouth while the GOP paved the way for Trump and the Tea Party. I can take some of the turnarounds because they seem to have genuinely repented but most of ’em are like, “this isn’t the cool party anymore, can I hang with you guys?”

No. No, you can’t hang with us. You can’t sit here. That seat is reserved for a hundred thousand dead Iraqis and every French shopkeeper whose windows got smashed in 2003.

There have got to be some consequences for hurting people. I’m not asking for consequences for being wrong. That’s too much to ask of the modern political pundit class, blogger or bestseller. But if you’ve spent a week speculating if a kidnapped reporter was carrying her terrorist abductor’s baby, if you told your readers to pour French wine down the sewers because they refused to join our dumb war, if you’ve hyped up Scott Walker’s wholesale destruction of the state of Wisconsin and fellated him while he shit on schoolteachers, if you, you know, LET AN ENTIRE CITY DROWN, you don’t get a do-over.

Why should any of these sucking ulcers get a medal, just for saying Donald Trump is a comprehensive nightmare?

Sixty-three million people knew that, because they voted for Hillary Clinton, and I have yet to see them get a parade. Or her, to be honest. Dems are an endangered spieces on TV, Krugman’s practically in WitSec and liberal bloggers are dialing for dollars, but conservatives grow half a neuron and they’re 100 feet tall in Times Square. Apparently you can only cash in on Anti-GOP Mania if you had Pro-GOP Mania first. Apparently that’s the only thing that gives you cred.

I know this is me being a Bad Smug Liberal and This Is Why Trump Won, and I no longer fucking care. These people aren’t apologizing, so stop approvingly posting the op-eds THEY GOT PAID FOR. That’s not apologizing, it’s ass-covering and at least around these parts we’re not having it. Your Never-Trump T-shirt isn’t getting you out of hell when I know you have a Rope.Tree.Journalist one in the back of your closet from CPAC 2003.

Schmucks.

A.

Tell Me Again About Those Kids Not Reading

The stupid’s now gotten bad enough that everybody’s mocking it, and “pivot to video” has become almost as much of a joke as “longform” and “hyperlocal” ever were (good stories don’t need nicknames) and maybe, just maybe, some facts can break through the nonsense: 

When it comes to technology’s influence on America’s young adults, reading is not dead – at least not the news. When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web.

Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. Among those under 50, on the other hand, roughly equal portions – about four-in-ten of those ages 18-29 and ages 30-49 – opt to read their news as opt to watch it.

Young people read news more than older folks, it’s just that we Olds don’t often give them credit for it being “reading” because they’re doing it on their phones or tablets. Quelle surprise. I have quarrels with the survey, namely that my definition of “news” and yours can be vastly different (as can my definition and CNN’s), but let’s talk about the good news because there’s been precious little of it lately.

Basically, shut up, Grandpa, why don’t you get off MY lawn for once?

This was my favorite tweet about the survey:

I don’t know why it’s a revelation, that if you want people to buy your product, your product should not suck. Most TV news sucks, audibly and unashamedly, the efforts of individual journalists notwithstanding. The clichéd format on a local level forces bad journalism as often as it produces good TV, and a brilliant piece of footage isn’t the rarity it was before camera phones and YouTube. Most TV news SITES are bloated, heaving messes with borked search engines, loud auto-play and no coherent tagging system.

When the reckoning for this era’s journalistic missteps comes (please Santa Jesus, let it be soon), and we make the list of grievances to be redressed, it’s going to look something like this:

  1. Political talk radio
  2. Talk radio generally
  3. Cable news generally
  4. Cable news Sunday shows full of Republicans
  5. Cable news crime coverage
  6. Panel shows that pretend a debate between a Republican and a Republican is a debate
  7. Cable news taking viewers’ calls live on the air
  8. TV news reading people’s tweets live on the air instead of interviewing them
  9. Nancy Grace

It’s really no wonder younger folks tune this shit out. Between paying off student loans and fighting fascism and their four side hustles they don’t really have a lot of time, so sitting through all of that to learn what’s actually happening when they could pull up the WaPo app and get it all just seems silly.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Werewolves On Wheels

You may recall Werewolves On Wheels from Pulp Fiction Thursday a few weeks ago. It’s time to unleash the whole damn movie on an unsuspecting public.

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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One more wedge play for Jerry Kramer

He had been screamed at by a relentless tyrant in front of his peers. All it did was make his mistakes multiply in hot August sun that burned brightly above the training camp field.

The NFL was not a place for the weak back then, and coaches were gods among men, the deities who controlled the future of these mortals. This man in particular, Vince Lombardi, had gained near mythic status as he used a domineering style to reshape the failing Green Bay Packers into a winning machine.

The player had jumped off sides during one drill and missed a block in another. Lombardi screamed the “Concentration Lecture” at him:

“The concentration period of a college student is five minutes, in high school it’s three minutes, in kindergarten it’s 30 seconds. And you don’t even have that, mister. So where does that put you?”

After practice, the player sat dejected in front of his locker, his future uncertain, his talent unsure. Lombardi entered the room and went right to him. The man braced for another set of insults and attacks. Instead, Lombardi gently slapped him on the back of the neck and said, “Son, one of these days, you are going to be the best guard in all of football.”

From that moment on, Jerry Kramer often said, his motor was always running, his body filled with energy and his goal set before him in the words of his immortal coach: Be the best guard in all of football.

When Kramer’s career was over, Lombardi’s prediction had become fact. Five times he was an NFL champion, two times he was a Super Bowl champion. He earned five first-team All-Pro honors and had been placed on the all-decade team for the 1960s. He was named one of the two guards for the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team.

He also threw the most famous block in NFL history: The 31 Wedge play that sealed Jethro Pugh and allowed Bart Starr to sneak the Packers to an Ice Bowl victory.

If one blemish remains on his resume, it is one that lies at the feet of lesser men who somehow never got around to seeing what Lombardi saw. For years, Kramer watched his teammates on those legendary Packer teams get called to Canton, enshrined as Hall of Famers for all time. Eleven players from that era are in the hall, including two of Kramer’s line mates, Jim Ringo and Forrest Gregg.

Each year, Kramer figured he’d be next. Each year, he was denied.

Conspiracy theories abounded from the idea of having too many Lombardi Packers in the hall to the idea that Kramer was not that good himself, but rather the beneficiary of greatness around him. Some said the gods of the hall don’t like to admit when they are wrong, so it has become a waiting game to see who gives first.

For some reason, organizations like this seem to “undo” their mistakes only after the players have died. It seems more “legendary,” I guess, to deify those who aren’t here anymore. The NFL did it to Ken Stabler. MLB did it to Ron Santo. It’s a sad statement of what happens when politics trumps common sense.

Kramer is 81 years old and has made the finalists list once again, this time as a “senior finalist.” I’ve gotten to meet him several times over the years and he has always been kind, patient and generous. People have introduced him as a “Hall of Famer” before, something he politely corrects or works around by noting something like, “Yep, I’m in the Packer Hall of Fame.” He has also slowed down considerably, the ache of age and multiple surgeries shrinking a man who stood as a giant during the game’s golden era.

How we measure a person comes down to what they do when everything is on the line and they have nothing left to give. With no time outs and only 16 seconds left in the Ice Bowl, Bart Starr turned to him in that frigid huddle and asked, “Can you get your footing for one more wedge play?” Kramer, frozen and battered, said he could and made sure his quarterback and coach were not made a fool.

This year will be the 50th anniversary of that Ice Bowl block. Somebody needs to gird up and throw a block for Jerry Kramer.

He shouldn’t have to sneak into the Hall. He should be able to walk right in.

Friday Catblogging: My Bowl Is Empty, Dammit

There’s always feline drama at mealtimes at Adrastos World HQ. Oscar tends to let his kid sister do the heavy lifting or is that begging? Howling is more like it.

Here’s Della Street trying to cute her way into some extra food:

First Draft Potpourri: Arpaio To Play Edition

I just have a few items for a hot-steamy-n-cloudy Thursday. Of course, it’s August in New Orleans so it’s always hot-n-steamy, hot-n-nasty even:

The focus of this edition is a man who never eats humble pie. I think you know who I’m talking about: the Insult Comedian.

Arpaio To Play: To be blunt, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a racist piece of shit. He was finally voted out by Phoenician voters last fall. Yeah, they actually call themselves that. I guess Phoenixers was too negative and Phoenixons sounds too much like a certain former president.

Trump’s pals at CNN broke the story that the administration* is preparing the paperwork if the Lost Causer In Chief pardons his fellow racist:

An administration official said the White House has also prepared talking points to send to surrogates after he is pardoned.
One of the talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years in the military, the Drug Enforcement Administration and as Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff, and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for “enforcing the law” and “working to keep people safe.”
Arpaio, an early Trump supporter, was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5.
Though the timing remains unclear, the President alluded that he would soon pardon Arpaio during his rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday night.
“I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy,” Trump said, after Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he would “inflame passions” if he did so. “I’ll make a prediction,” Trump added. “I think he’s going to be just fine.”

Dig the line about avoiding controversy in a speech that had the president* frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog. It’s a pity that he can’t be quarantined so he can catch up on his teevee watching.

The signal that Trump would send to the nation if he pardoned Arpaio is clear: bigotry is “beautifu”l as long you support me. Trump kept referring to Arpaio in his speech as “Sheriff Joe” as if he were Andy Taylor of teevee’s Mayberry. Arpaio is more like Judge Roy Bean. He’s a nasty piece of work who should not be pardoned so, of course, Trump will do it. It’s who and what he is.

Quote Of The Day: The Guardian  spoke to some Trumpers outside the Phoenix rally. The money quote comes from wignut Arizona State Senator, Sylvia Allen:

Trump is a breath of fresh air. He’s totally not a political person. He’s a businessman: he’s anti-left, he’s anti-PC, he’s anti-stupid.

The Insult Comedian is anti-stupid? That’s the stupidest damn thing I’ve heard in quite some time. Ms. Allen should look in the mirror if she wants to see stupid.

I’m sick of the endless pulse-taking of the baser members of Trump’s base. There’s a rock solid 25% who aren’t embarrassed by his demented antics and bigoted policies. I’m tired of hearing about the hardcore deplorables. Doesn’t the MSM owe Hillary an apology for raking her over the coals about the basket of deplorables comment? She was right and they were wrong. Chris Cillizza should be made to scrub the toilets at Hill-n-Bill’s crib; without a brush like Ken Shabby in this classic Python sketch:

Tweet Of The Day:  Speaking of the Clintons, Chelsea spoke out against mockery at the expense of Barron Trump:

The offending tweet was deleted but it echoed an article at Tucker Carlson’s joint criticizing the kid for wearing a t-shirt and shorts. How dare he dress like a tween? The nerve.

Good on ya, Chelsea. I remember when Rushbo went after you for looking like a gawky kid when you were one. Empathy is an excellent quality. It’s a pity that Barron’s father doesn’t have it but, unlike his adult siblings, the kid is a non-combatant. Leave him the fuck alone.

Trump Theme Song Time: Watching the Primal Screamer In Chief’s Phoenix pity party, it occurred to me that Warren Zevon’s Poor Poor Pitiful Me would be a great Trump theme song. The narrator is a cad much like the grubby pussygrabbing president*.

I may get around to writing some new lyrics but the chorus is easy: “Poor poor pitiful me. CNN won’t let me be. Lord have mercy on me. Woe is me.”

Guess who gets the last word?

 

 

Like Watching The World’s Worst Elvis Impersonator

elvis_2_trump_500

At least that was my impression — apologies to the King’s ghost — while catching Tuesday’s, um, performance. I also thought maybe a no-charm, not-funny Lenny Bruce — apologies to Bruce’s shade — turns out I wasn’t the only one.

What I mean is … he’s the, old, wizened … ok, fat (not that I”m one to talk, but …) anyway, the old Elvis…but…by worst ever, not even a metaphorical song or two, just a pathetic trip to the center of whatever counts as the Donald’s mind (so maybe more Ted Nugent?)…alternately preening, bragging, strutting and posturing…then whining, petulant, playing the victim. Wingnut cri du coeur (cri du Coors? Coors Light?).

His audience of true believers, of course, still believe…just like those who insisted Elvis wasn’t dead…and they’ll keep believing even as the mother of all farces devolves further into madness. Not much you can do about these people…for what it’s worth, my .0000002 cents is don’t bother. Instead, continue to out-vote them (don’t forget that we DID last November) while remembering they’re always lurking around, their hearts and minds as … as solid a black void as it seems when the moon covers the sun.

Speaking of … I was fortunate to spend Monday in Tennessee, on the grounds once owned by the Donald’s now-favorite former POTUS (I doubt he knew anything about Jackson until quite recently). Never saw the mansion itself. The public viewing was in what I guess was an outer field, and while waiting I did take some time to think about the people forced to to do exceptionally hard work in exchange for … being treated as sub-humans. Sobering … though the eclipse itself was quite something to see. To that end, and also because Adrastos was nice enough to send a celebratory message, here’s a shot: the first an actual photo  — phone cameras, or maybe those of us using them, have limitations — the second a photoshopped version of what I recall seeing…

dual_view_small

Very much worth the effort (after almost being stymied by a single cloud). Sure hope to see the next one in 2024 … Cheers.