Monthly Archives: September 2017

Malaka Of The Week: Bill Cassidy

Republican attempts to repeal the ACA started before the ink was dry on the bill.  After the 2010 Teabagger wave election, the House GOP’s hobby was voting for a bill that could not become law because there was a real president ready to veto it. But the bad repeal and replace idea refuses to die. It has more lives than a bad cat thanks to Little Lindsey and one of my senators. And that is why Doctor/Senator Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

There’s a lot of talk about the Zombie Health Care bill. The analogy is apt but trite due to the gazillion zombie shows and movies out there. I prefer to think of the Graham-Cassidy atrocity as belonging to the Frankenstein family of horror flicks wherein the characters are reanimated, not undead. The current clusterfuck reminds me of this scene from The Bride of Frankenstein:

That was a (James) Whale of a movie but Graham-Cassidy is an ugly, mean-spirited bill that should be buried, not reanimated.

2017 has been a weird  year in American politics but this week *may* take the cake. We have the supporters of a reality show host president* telling a late night talk show host to STFU and stay out of politics. This is more surreal than a gallery full of gory Dali paintings or any Edward Gorey image for that matter.

The Bill Cassidy-Jimmy Kimmel face-off has really been something. The chat show host has accused the Gret Stet Solon of “lying to my face.” Doctor/Senator Cassidy has compounded the lie by asserting that Graham-Cassidy passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test when it clearly does not. The comedian has asked Cassidy to stop invoking his name but Cassidy has no shame and is unlikely to do so. He’s the center of attention. What pol would exit such a glaring spotlight?

Here’s a tweet from a certain internet smart ass on the Graham-Cassidy-Kimmel mishigas:

I was referring to the fact that Cassidy double billed LSU for his work when he was quacking his way around the Gret Stet public health care system. Take a gander at my publisher’s recent piece about that at the Bayou Brief. That’s right, Senator Malaka is an expert at ripping off the government and poor people. It’s second nature to this so-called moderate.

I also tweeted about the Jimmy Kimmel factor:

I am impressed with Kimmel’s guts and fortitude on this issue.  I am ready to light a torch and stand beside him as we storm Double Bill’s castle or some such shit.

A few words about Cassidy. I called him Cassidybot throughout his successful 2014 challenge to incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. He is stiff, lifeless with beady, sunken eyes, which makes the Frankenstein monster analogy spot on. Cassidy’s Victor Frankenstein was our old “friend” former Senator David Vitter. Vitter recruited Cassidy to run against Landrieu and dictated his campaign strategy. It involved relentless dog-whistle attacks on then President Obama, especially over the ACA. It worked.

As  long as Vitter was in the senate, Cassidy was his creature. He didn’t do anything unless his master approved. I guess he was more like Igor in Young Frankenstein at that point. Vitter’s departure from the political scene left Cassidy adrift: he’s a follower, not a leader. In 2017, Cassidy made fucking up the health care system by fucking over the poor and elderly his life’s work. Graham-Cassidy is the fruit of his labors. I liked him better when he was a fake moderate.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in next week’s vote on this hastily stitched together legislation. It’s the worst version of repeal and replace yet. But it has the aura of respectability of being sponsored by phony moderates like Graham, Cassidy, and Dean Heller whose master is right-wing casino mogul Steve Wynn. It savages Medicaid, which is bad for Louisiana. It stripped away the last bad bill’s  provisions to help with the opioid epidemic, which could put a few votes into play. In the end, it may come down to whether or not John McCain believes what he’s said about restoring regular order. Everything about this bill is irregular including the insane deadline of September 30. This is nuts. Believe me.

Here’s hoping that the MSM will stop calling the likes of Graham and Cassidy moderates. This bill is not only procedurally irregular, it is substantively immoderate. The attempt to destroy the ACA was dead until Doctor/Senator Cassidy reanimated this monster. And that is why Double Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

Speaking of monsters, the last word goes to Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer:

 

Stranger Than Fiction

trump_americans

More evidence the Russians were all-in on The Donald

Suspected Russia propagandists on Facebook tried to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during last year’s election, The Daily Beast has learned.

The demonstrations—at least one of which was promoted online by local pro-Trump activists— brought dozens of supporters together in real life. They appear to be the first case of Russian provocateurs successfully mobilizing Americans over Facebook in direct support of Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Paul Manafort was cozying up with Russian oligarch, friend of Vlad — and allegedly-more-than-just-a-little-mobbed-up — Oleg Deripaska.

Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed the email ex­changes as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”

Nonetheless, investigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort’s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe. Those people, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters under investigation.

Would a producer even consider a scenario where a right-wing “populist” blustered and bullied his way through a political campaign, relying on his name recognition as a reality television show celebrity…and then managed to pull off a big upset thanks to a combination of weird rules and bad news cycle timing for his opponent…but it turns out the whole time the reality show guy’s been a pawn (and possible money launderer) of an intertwined foreign government and criminal syndicate?

Hmmm…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Ant Men

It’s pre-historic monster time here at First Draft.

Nambia Pamby?

After scaring the world yesterday, Donald Trump is trying something completely different: accidental comedy. He *is* an accidental president* after all. Trump seems determined to channel two Groucho Marx characters: Captain Spaulding the African Explorer from Animal Crackers and Freedonia President Rufus T. Firefly of Duck Soup fame. That’s right folks, the Insult Comedian has discovered a new country, Nambia:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the health system of an African country that does not exist while speaking at a United Nations working lunch with African leaders.

“In Guinea and Nigeria you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak,” he said. “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”

There is no country named Nambia; it was not clear whether Trump had misread the name of Namibia or Zambia.

Asked to clarify, the White House referred TPM to the National Security Council, which did not immediately respond.

Well, at least Trump isn’t Nambia pamby like that Kenyan Mau Mau fake birth certificate dude. He’s an old-fashioned explorer and a president* in the spirit of Rufus T. Firefly as depicted in this tweet by that Krazy (Kat) guy Michael Tisserand:

Dig that crazy (krazy?) Boy Scout uniform. That reminds me of Trump’s jamboree jam. Ah, sweet memories of other people’s youth.

The last word goes to Captain Spaulding and his admirers who are going Animal Crackers:

Crowd: Hooray for Captain Spaulding, the African explorer.

Groucho: Did someone call me schnorrer?

Roll film:

Your President* Speaks: Apocalypse U.N.

The Insult Comedian warmed up for his big, scary, and stupid General Assembly speech by talking about his genius as a real estate developer on Monday:

I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project.

I’m awesome; even the United Nations is about me, me, me, me….

Let’s move on yesterday’s fearful and fearmongering address to the General Assembly. I think the president* was confused and thought he was addressing a rally full of MAGA Maggots instead of furriners. It’s probably a good thing: he might have ordered mass deportations. I think General Kelly was worried about that as he buried his head in his hands during Trump’s tirade. He does that often since becoming Chief of Staff:

Remember when American presidents didn’t put the ass in General Assembly? It was only last fall. Hell, even President Beavis made his scariest speeches at other venues and he put the dip in diplomatic.

Trump echoed Dubya in one way. He implicitly updated the so-called axis of evil: North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. Venezuela? Say what? They have a shitty, repressive government but they’re not exporting terrorism or even as much oil as they used to. Perhaps Donald wanted to prove he could count to three. Believe me.

Here’s part of the rant about North Korea:

No nation on Earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles. The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

This is not an original insight: the Current Occupant whipped it out, waved his own missile around, and threatened nuclear war. Normal presidents threaten countries with defeat, not obliteration but this president* is totally, totally, totally not normal.

I was there first with the Madman on the Water joke but I’m glad to share the snark with David Corn:

They could also call him Honky Cat, then cry some Crocodile Rock tears…

Ready for some Persian pounding?

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.

Notice how Trump didn’t attack their terrible government for being a theocracy? His evangelical supporters would not care for that . They hate Muslims but they love theocracy. One of them is SOB (Son of Billy) Franklin Graham whose name the Insult Comedian insists on mispronouncing. It’s not Gram, Donald. Maybe he’s confused the second generation preacher with a gram of coke. Remember when Trump sniffed his way through a debate with Hillary? Sniff, sniff, sniff.

It’s time for Trump’s speciality, Obama bashing:

The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. Believe me.

Being one himself, Trump knows from embarrassment. He would also know from bad deals having been rolled by Chuck and Nancy Smash. Believe me.

Ready to meet the newest member of the axis of evil?

We have also imposed tough calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.

This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation — prosperous nation, by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried. To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives, to preserve his disastrous rule. The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch.

Threat or empty words? It’s usually the latter when Trump is in dick waving mode. As I said earlier, I dislike the Maduro government but they’re not “exporting revolution” or much of anything else. Besides, you would think that Trump would want to take notes on how to destroy a democracy from the Venezuelans. Nah, too much work. Time to switch on the television. Trump puts the boob in boob tube too.

That is sooooo presidential. Oops, I forgot the asterisk and he forgot to bash Arnold.

Let’s hope that the Kaiser of Chaos doesn’t make like Slim Pickens as a grand finale:

Nah, too much work.

In between threatening thermonuclear war, Trump mentioned the “beautiful vision” of the United Nations, so Van Morrison gets the last word:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: A Few Small Repairs

A Few Small Repairs came out twenty years ago and was recently re-issued in a fancy new edition.  It was Shawn Colvin’s commercial breakthrough, became a big damn hit, and won several Grammys. Who doesn’t like a break up album, after all?

I’ve always loved Julie Speed’s album cover even if I wasn’t up to speed on who did it until recently. It turns out that Speed is a friend of Colvin’s; the latter saw the painting and it inspired her to write Sunny Came Home.

The album is only available in the YouTube playlist format so I decided to post just the videos for Sunny Came HomeGet Out Of This House, and You and the Mona Lisa:

Swastikas & Pride Flags Are Not Equal Opposites

Speaking of free speech abstractions and people buying into their own bullshit:

Fuckin’ fuck’s sake. These aren’t opposing points of view:

Nazi wearing swastika: I want everyone who isn’t Aryan to die.

Gay person wearing a Pride flag: I would like to be able to live my life free of persecution and systemic inequality.

DO WE REALLY NOT SEE THE GODDAMN DIFFERENCE? Angus’s mentions are full of idiots who don’t. Intentions matter, and power structure matters, and incitement matters, and don’t throw antifa in my face until you can point to the number of concentration camps run by antifa and the number of congressmen who take money from antifa-sympathizing groups.

The only thing Nazi speech and antifa speech have in common is that both are produced by moving your mouth.

A.

 

Who Profits When We Fight?

The Daily Cal has been fucking killin’ it on the “Free Speech Week” fiasco: 

When UC Berkeley asked Young America’s Foundation, or YAF, and the Berkeley College Republicans to pay nearly $16,000 in security fees for Ben Shapiro’s speech, YAF lashed out immediately, stating that campus administration was taxing conservative free speech.

But public financial returns obtained by The Daily Californian show that every year, YAF spends millions of dollars funding campus events such as Shapiro’s, propped up by tens of millions in annual donations from many wealthy, powerful foundations linked to prominent conservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld, the DeVos family and Charles and David Koch.

This organization is the driving force behind many tumultuous, conservative events scheduled on campus. It was one of the many voices that pushed hardest to make Ann Coulter’s controversial appearance at UC Berkeley happen — before pulling its support two days before the event.

Way to go, student journos who are asking real questions while America’s august editorial boards are wanking to that ever-popular tune, The Highest Form of Free Speech is Bowing Down to the Loudest Butthole in the Room. Because there are these abstractions, and don’t get me wrong I will engage you in a debate about theoretical shit all day long, but at the end of the day somebody’s getting paid, and I’d rather talk about that with the limited time we have left on a habitable planet.

Assholes like YAF (a bunch of hoary Nixon bagmen dressing up their regressive segregationism as Hip New Rebellion) WANT America’s elite opinion columnists leading thoughts at their thought leader conferences about the merits of letting someone threaten and scream at you. Their whole schtick is “if you don’t let me call you names and threaten to deport you, you’re a pussy who doesn’t deserve freedom.” Their type has been railing against campus activists since the dawn of campus activism (which came shortly after the dawn of campuses) precisely because they know it plays into the inherent biases of the people they provoke.

That’s their entire game, it always has been, and for the life of me I will never understand the genre of journalism that is basically, “Here is a scam, let me describe how I fall for it.” Glowing profiles of shitkickers like Ann, asking what the sexy new Nazis want out of life, empathizing with very fine people who just want to yell about welfare, that’s been a whole beat for decades now, and its writers want credit for documenting the apocalypse?

Good for the kids at the Cal, for standing up and pointing out what the real problem is here. It ain’t free speech. It’s the very expensive kind.

A.

First Draft Potpourri: Why Not Madman Across The Water?

Remember when weekends used to be relatively quiet and people could focus on sports and other leisure activities, not national politics? It wasn’t that long ago. Although in my case the change might be a good thing: my San Francisco Giants are having their worst season since the 1980’s, LSU was blown out in Starksville, Ms of all places, and Saints fans are ready to wear bags after yesterday’s thumping at the hands of the Patriots. Perhaps I should skip the sporting lamentations and get down to it

Rocket Man? One of the reasons I nicknamed Donald Trump the Insult Comedian is his propensity to nickname his enemies. He’s not that good at it: Low Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, and Crooked Hillary are uninspired but serviceable. He’s no threat to me or Charlie Pierce or my friend Dakinikat at  Sky Dancing who calls Trump, Kremlin Caligula. Of course, John Hurt as Caligula was much better looking and I shudder to think of Donald dancing in drag:

The Insult Comedian decided to take his empire of shtick abroad by nicknaming his fellow lunatic leader, Kim Jong Un:

I bet the South Korean President is over the moon after that call and subsequent tweet. I wonder if they discussed the local milk people as well or whether that topic is reserved for Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull? I’m sure Malcolm would be willing to share: he’s used to being in the middle…

Trump clearly think he’s being clever, but nicknaming a crazy man with nukes is unwise. Like the Kaiser of Chaos himself, Kim Jong Un is not known for his ability to take a joke. Remember the shitstorm over the James Franco-Seth Rogen movie The Interview? Like Trump or any other bully, Rocket Man can dish it out but not take it. I’m concerned that Trump will follow-up the Kim Jong Un dubbing by posting this infamous version of the John-Maupin hit:

I suppose we should be grateful that Trump didn’t nickname Kim Jong Un after another Elton John song even if that would have been wittier:

We don’t want Rocket Man to Burn Down The Mission, after all.

Ty Cobb Slides Into Trouble: The MSM keeps telling us that Trump mouthpiece Ty Cobb is somehow related to the baseball hall of famer of that name. They never bother to explain the consanguinity. It’s starting to feel like my father’s tales of being related to scads of prominent Greek-Americans but I digress.

It seems that Cobb the lawyer *does* have some qualities often ascribed to the Detroit Tiger great, he’s hyper aggressive and has a big mouth:

The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.

 After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said.

Mr. Cobb sought to defuse the conflict in an interview over the weekend, praising Mr. McGahn as a superb lawyer. “He has been very helpful to me, and whenever we have differences of opinion, we have been able to work them out professionally and reach consensus,” Mr. Cobb said. “We have different roles. He has a much fuller plate. But we’re both devoted to this White House and getting as much done on behalf of the presidency as possible.”

Ty Cobb, Esquire is better known for his exuberant mustache than sharpening his spikes, but he clearly has a sharp tongue. And like the ballplayer, he feuds with his “teammates.” I love stories of disarray at the Trump White House, especially when they make it apparent that the “Kelly discipline effect” is having limited impact. Keep up the good work, y’all.

Here’s the Original Ty Cobb “sliding” into home plate. Looks more like a kick to me. Dan McGhan better watch out.

The Trump-Russia scandal seems to be heating up again. It’s time for another dose of dossier dish.

The Not-So Dodgy Dossier: The original dodgy dossier was assembled by British intelligence to help Tony Blair sell the Iraq War to a wary Labour Party and a skeptical public. Many people thought that the dossier former British spook Christopher Steele assembled about the Trump-Russia mishigas was equally dodgy. One reason for  that was the incessant, infantile focus on the so-called pee tape by the twits of twitter.

There was an excellent piece on the Steele dossier last week in Slate by former American spook John Sipher. Sipher argues that much of the dossier has already been verified and that Steele is a credible person.

Given his name, I was relieved that the Sipher piece wasn’t written in cipher. I hope Sipher’s meticulous analysis will help dampen down the golden showers chatter amongst the resistance.  Toilet humor is for lame bro comedies and elementary school kids. It should be flushed by adults.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “The Art Of The Squeal” edition

Good morning, all! After three flips and a flop, thus quoth The Darnold :

Donald Trump: Let DACA Recipients Stay; Not Amnesty
Breitbart.com ^ | 14 Sep 2017 | Charlie Spiering

Posted on 9/14/2017, 3:32:48 PM by Rockitz

President Donald Trump argued that allowing DACA recipients to stay in the United States would not be amnesty. “We’re looking at allowing people to stay here,” Trump said to reporters in Florida on Thursday.

He insisted that his deal with Democrats on DACA recipients would not be amnesty.

“We’re not looking at citizenship, we’re not looking at amnesty,” Trump said.

On Air Force One however, a White House spokesperson confirmed that “legal citizenship over a period of time” for DACA recipients would likely be part of a deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted that the plan would offer them a “path to citizenship.”

***********


Legal status with a pathway to citizenship is NOT amnesty. So I guess that’s scratch number 7 here?

 

How has Trump screwed me?  Let me count the ways :

1. Secure the border in a transparently verifiable way;

2. End the anchor-baby interpretation of the 14th Amendment

3. Enforce e-verify without exception and with severe penalties;

4. End chain migration. Entry per individual qualifications; not family ties.

5. Deportation upon contact with any law enforcement agency- federal, state or local;

6. No government benefits beyond critical emergency care(and that ought to be billed back to the home government);

7. NO “Path to citizenship” EVER for anyone who has entered the us illegally.

1 posted on 9/14/2017, 3:32:48 PM by Rockitz

“Otherwise OK?”
“Spock! Analysis?”
To: Rockitz

 

The bastard has morphed into John McCain

2 posted on 9/14/2017, 3:36:46 PM by pissant ((Deport ’em all))

Not true!
McCain’s brain actually still works.
To: Rockitz

 

What happened to Trump?

One day swinging like Tyson, tweeting, defending America. The next acting like Jeff Sessions.

6 posted on 9/14/2017, 3:41:04 PM by FreedomStar3028 (Somebody has to step forward and do what is right because it is right, otherwise no one will follow.)

To: xzins

 

Call it what you want, worker permit, student grievance, non citizen status it’s illegal illegal illegal. Let’s not parse words…are they still here? Yes…are they here illegally? Yes….are they illegal aliens? Yes….

Why are they not gone?

8 posted on 9/14/2017, 3:41:27 PM by Jarhead9297

Because Baron Poostain Harkonnen can’t snap his fingers and make it happen?
To: Rockitz

 

Art of the deal
Wow, so much for his campaign promises..hope I’m wrong

10 posted on 9/14/2017, 3:42:46 PM by rainee (Her)

A Freeper even uses the T word, but fortunately, used a strikethrough.
To: Rockitz
” a White House spokesperson confirmed that ‘legal citizenship over a period of time’ “ 

None dare call it treasonamnesty.

14 posted on 9/14/2017, 3:44:00 PM by Governor Dinwiddie
That was a close one.
Click the lovely “read more” for more stunned realizations that they’ve been had…

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The Olds Are Alright, Too

I’m ’bout done hearing how exhausted we all are because if this guy can keep fighting so can everybody else: 

On platforms that didn’t exist during his first 80 years, Smith preaches about preserving democracy and the welfare state, creating a just society and living a life of compassion, all from an enthusiastically leftist perspective. And he rails against Donald Trump, Brexit, inequality, corporate greed and whatever else he finds loathsome, his pointed words delivered with an engaging, guy-on-the-next-barstool folksiness.

In his tenth decade, Smith is trying to change the world, with the urgency of someone who understands the time constraints.

“As we get into our late years, surely we should all be endeavouring to give something back to the country, to make it a better place when we leave,” he says. “Life is not permanent, although a lot of people look at me and say, you’re coming damn close to it.”

[snip]

“People always express surprise about these things,” he says. “But, really, I joined the Royal Air Force in 1941 and I went in as a wireless operator. I had to learn about transmitters and receivers and generators and all sorts of things that I’d never heard of in my whole life but we learnt them; including Morse Code which was our only means of transferring information. So we weren’t dumb buggers.”

Anybody want to tell this guy they’re tired?

A.

It’s About To Get Bad Again. And Again. And Again.

Here we go again: 

In releasing a revised version of their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, along with co-sponsors Dean Heller and Ron Johnson, claimed that their bill isn’t a “partisan” approach and doesn’t include “draconian cuts.” In reality, however, the Cassidy-Graham bill would have the same harmful consequences as those prior bills. It would cause many millions of people to lose coverage, radically restructure and deeply cut Medicaid, and increase out-of-pocket costs for individual market consumers.

As I was thinking about having to fight this again, when we’ve already defeated it twice (three times if you count the popular vote last fall), I went back through the Twitter hole and found this:

Listen to that. Listen to that roar. And be glad for the fight, because every day we’re still fighting is a day we ain’t dead.

There’s joy in the fight. To say that sounds like I’m trivializing it, like this middle class white chick is having a great time out there playing SJW, hippie-chic weekender posing for Instagram photos on stolen ground.

But there are lots of people out there who can’t fight, themselves. Who can’t show up. Who can’t come to the protest or sit all night in the congressman’s office or spend a morning making phone calls or hold up a sign. Who have jobs they can’t leave, or disabilities that limit their movement or speech, or lives they can’t risk by resisting.

If you can, that’s a kind of privilege, too, and you owe it to them not just to march but to march loudly, to make a big noise, to remind those sumbitches that they haven’t killed us yet. They haven’t made us small and they haven’t made us scared. Pissed, sure, that we have to do this AGAIN, but not miserable. Not beaten. Not tired.

A colleague said to me not long after the election that joy had to be part of our politics, and I’ve been puzzling over it ever since, and I think what I’ve come around to thinking about is that we think of joy like we think of prayer, as a feeling, a passive state of being, instead of as active and purposeful work.

There’s joy in the fight, in putting your hands to the task and knowing you’re giving what you’ve got in the direction you can go. And if you do get tired, if you are beaten down, if the noise you wanna make starts sound less like a joyful one and more like a dirge, just listen to the roar of the people in that video, who fought so hard and won. Listen to that sound, my country tis of thee America, because it’s our national motherfucking anthem.

Raise your voice and sing along.

A.

Sunday Morning Video- Glenn Tilbrook: One For The Road

This 2004 film was made by Squeeze super fan Amy Pritkin. It documents Glenn’s first solo US tour when he hit the road in an RV to play a series of solo acoustic gigs. It’s good stuff.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Nice Work If You Can Get It

Golconda by Rene Magritte

U2 came to town this week but I was involved in another spectacle: babysitting the legendary Child Army so that their parents Cait and Dave could see the Bono bunch. I like early U2 and even the Mick and Keith dynamic between Bono and the Edge but I’m not a fan. Why? I detest the preternaturally pompous Paul Hewson.

Additionally, U2 played the Superdome and I hate, hate, hate stadium concerts. I saw the Stones at the Dome and the sound was atrocious. Dealing with the Benevolent Dictator, Gladowling, and Lagniappe (their social media names) was just as raucous and none of them is a pompous prat like Bono.

Here’s a photo taken by Dr. A that could be entitled Child Army Surrealism. Note the smiling malice of the girl child Lagniappe who is a cross between a cat and Harpo Marx; only she hands you objects instead of her leg.

Lagniappe and the Gladowling.

Eat your heart (hat?) out, Rene Magritte.

Oscar Update: He continues marking but otherwise is feeling fine. We’ve tried everything suggested by the vet and various kitty savants, but are starting to feel like people on My Cat From Hell. At least we understand that it’s not about us but Oscar’s own furry demons. It doesn’t make it easier to deal with. The good news is that our vet has a new plan: to up Oscar’s meds and change his diet. Hopefully, that will help; otherwise we may need Jackson Galaxy.

You may have noticed that I love George and Ira Gershwin’s music. This isn’t the first Gershwin tune to be the Saturday Odds & Sods theme song and it won’t be the last. Nice Work If You Can Get It was written for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers movie A Damsel In Distress. It’s lesser Astaire BUT a major Gershwin tune. I’ll shut up and let Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday carry on.

My friend Kevin at the Gambit Tabloid and I use different words to describe what’s about to happen. He calls it a jump, I call it a break. This insignificant dispute leads to the inevitable Gershwin joke: you say jump, I say break. Let’s call the whole thing off.

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My Tribe: 22 and counting

I didn’t know they sucked so bad when I fell in love with them. Given my life-long love of the underdog, I might have picked the Cleveland Indians as my team anyway.

I was about 10 or 11 years old, I think, when my dad bought into a season-ticket package with a bunch of guys who had four front-row seats at Milwaukee’s old County Stadium. The seats were along the tarp, between third base and the outfield wall, giving us the visitor’s view of the field.

When you’re a kid, you have certain magical ideas about what can happen when you are THAT CLOSE to the action. I think it comes from the old movies, where players sidled up to the railing and signed autographs or shook hands with the fans.

For me, all I wanted was a ball. The idea that a major leaguer (or two or three of them) had touched it made all the difference to me. Now, I see those balls, fouls caught by fans or batting practice tokens tossed to the stands, at rummage sales for a couple bucks apiece. You can buy brand new ones, still in the box, online for less than $20 each.

Back then, though, the only way to get one was to have a player toss you one. Your hand grabbing the orb first in that sea of hands along the edge of the field.

In our first game in those seats, it rained. My dad bought me an Indians hat so maybe one of the guys would come by and say hi or at least wave. As I sat there, a little drown rat alone in the front row, Jamie Easterly emerged from the dugout with another player and began walking toward the bullpen.

If you don’t know who Jamie Easterly is, you’re not alone. A second-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 1971, Easterly and I crossed paths near the end of his amazingly pedestrian 13-year career in which he went 23-33 with a 4.62 ERA. He played for the Brewers during their 1982 World Series run before being sent to Cleveland in 1983, which at that point served as the Devil’s Island of baseball.

Easterly was walking away from me, the distance nearly 20 feet and growing, when I surprised him and myself by yelling, “Throw me a ball!” For a polite, diminutive hermit of a child, that was pretty damned bold. However, I really wanted that ball.

Easterly took the ball out of his pocket and flipped it at me. I was alone, so it was mine for sure. It got closer, closer and then…

Bam. It hit my hands and bounced out, trickling out onto the stadium’s warning track. A precious prize, just out of reach.

I stared at it, as if I could some how make it come closer. There it was. Here I was. Never the twain shall meet. It was over. My ONE shot at a ball, done in by my complete lack of coordination.

Easterly looked back and noticed my plight. He stopped walking toward the pen and jogged over to the ball.

He picked it up and placed it firmly in my hand. “Now don’t drop it this time, kid, OK?” he said with almost a chuckle in his voice. He then trotted back to his teammate and prepared for the game, the rest of which was a total blur for me.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Jamie Easterly had set me up for a lifetime of heartbreak and disappointment. There was no rationale reason to like the Indians other than that one moment. However, they just grew on me. The more the guys at school teased me about my choice, the more I dug in and learned more about “my guys.” The worse they got, the more I kept waiting for “next year.”

I didn’t care that Sigmund Snopek was an asshole who wrote and heartily performed a song at Summerfest each year called, “Thank God This Isn’t Cleveland” in which he always promised if the Indians EVER finished higher than the Brewers in the standings, he would stop singing it. I think ten years had passed between his pledge and that moment. Even so, it was just because both teams sucked that year. My team just happened to suck less.

I so wanted Brook Jacoby to be the next Mike Schmidt when he slugged 32 homers in 1987, seemingly on an upward trajectory toward stardom. Instead, he became the next Joe Charboneau of my life: A brief flame, doused by the nature of playing in Cleveland. He would only hit 44 homers over the rest of his career, petering out in the early 1990s.

Greg Swindell would anchor a pitching staff that looked like it was put together for some goofball comedy. We had Tom Candiotti, a young knuckleballer, and Phil Niekro, an old knuckleballer. About 20 years separated the bookends of a “ship of fools” approach to pitching.

Still, I remember those guys like Rich Yett, Scott Bailes and Jim Kern because they would come to the rail at County Stadium every time I went to a Brewers/ Indians game and they would sign autographs for fans who essentially said, “Hi, could you sign this to me from whoever you are?”

I also remember someone telling me that when you’re a Cleveland fan, you don’t just get the regular heartbreak. God goes out of his way to really fuck with you.

We had Ray Chapman, the only man to be killed while playing a baseball game, in our history. We had the Curse of Rocky Colavito. We had Gabe Paul, who ran the team for about 20 years and treated it like a delusional family member standing over a brain-dead relative, saying, “I think he twitched there! He’s going to make it!”

However, in my lifetime, we had Little Lake Nellie, something that sounds far too benign to ever bring heartbreak. In 1993, the team looked a little less lifeless. Mike Hargrove was the manager (the man who played for us in the 1970s and ’80s and who was once dubbed “the Human Rain Delay” for his at-bats that seemed to last longer than the director’s cut of “The Godfather.”) and he had his guys moving up in the world. Young talent was surrounded by a few veteran pick ups and hope was eternal.

As a reward for a strong effort in spring training, Hargrove gave his guys a day off. Tim Crews, Steve Olin and Bob Ojeda decided to go fishing, using the time to bond as new teammates. What happened that day still has not been fully understood, but somehow, Crews had failed to see a 165-foot dock and slammed into it at a high rate of speed. Olin died instantly, Crews shortly after. Ojeda survived, but he would never again be the same. The team had to trade pitcher Kevin Wickander, as he couldn’t handle being in the locker room where he always saw his best friend, Olin. The team staggered to a sixth-place finish in the old AL East.

Even when we became good, it was always someone else’s year: In 1995, we bludgeoned our way to the World Series, pairing an aging, retread pitching rotation with a murderer’s row of homerun threats. When all-star Jack McDowell gave up six runs in five inning to the Tribe, a reporter asked about his performance. “It’s pretty fucking good when you only give up six runs to those guys,” he replied.

Still, our year turned out to be the year the Braves finally got their ring.

In 1997, it was the Marlins’ turn to show that a team whose owner was willing to spend ridiculous sums on a group of mercenaries could buy a World Series title before gutting the team and dumping players all over the league.

In 1998, it was the Yankees and their record-setting pace.

In 2001, it was the Mariners and their record-setting pace.

In 2007, it was 3-1 in the ALCS when Boston decided it needed another World Series.

Last year, it was the Cubs’ turn. Up 3-1 in the World Series, we couldn’t get it done.

Sisyphus in cleats.

There was always a reason why: Jim Poole’s slider to David Justice, Joe Brinkman running Doc Gooden out of the game, Ichiro, Ichiro, Ichiro…

Eric Wedge going for the kill in Boston, pushing his two best pitchers to go on short rest, getting drilled for it. Cliff Lee going from pitching God to shitbox for that ONE YEAR WE NEEDED HIM to pitching God again.

Fucking Trevor Bauer’s drone injury. Who else but the Indians would lose a guy to a fucking drone?

How we still have fans, I’ll never know.

And yet, there I was last night, glued to my TV, watching as the Tribe went for 22 wins in a row, a sentence so absurd to my younger self that it seems foreign to type it.

Down 2-1 to the Royals, the Indians had run themselves out of multiple chances:

  • Runners on first and second, two outs in the fourth. 0 runs
  • Ramirez caught stealing on a bullshit play in the sixth, right before Encarnacion singled and Bruce walked. Should have been bases loaded, one out, but instead it was first and second, two away and Santana grounded out to end the threat.
  • Bases loaded, one out in the eighth with our two best hitters coming up. Both fouled out.

The pattern of that game and the history of that team just screamed, “Yep, this is my Tribe.” We’re batting against a closer with 26 saves and a nearly triple-digit fastball. We haven’t done shit since the third inning.

And yet, down to our last strike, the fans were screaming. They weren’t beaten. It was Francisco Lindor, who had gone 0-for-4 to that point in the game, who took a fastball the other way and smashed it off the wall, just grazing the tip of the outfielder’s glove, driving in pinch runner Erik Gonzalez to tie the game.

In the 10th, Ramirez led off with what should have been a pedestrian base hit, but instead, he was flying out of the box and went for two. This is the same guy who got caught stealing earlier in the game. The same guy who wouldn’t be playing this year at second if Jason Kipnis weren’t constantly injured. He’s a utility guy that looks more like your local grocer than a baseball player, at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds.

He challenges the arm of one of the better centerfielders in the game, who had no reason to be concerned that this human fireplug might try to take an extra base. The fact Ramirez did startled him and the throw was off line. The next batter, Jay Bruce (a financial dumping trade by the Mets), lined a pitch into right field, scoring Ramirez.

22 in a row. And counting.

I don’t expect the Indians to keep this up. In fact, watching this streak, the Indians fan in me keeps saying, “They’re peaking too soon!” I see a 3-2 series loss in the Division Series and a lot of people second-guessing Terry Francona and asking if the streak did more harm than good.

I see more heartbreak, because that’s what you get when you are a Tribe fan.

And yet, I’ll be back again.

Watching, hoping, aching, crying.

And I never once got mad at Jamie Easterly for getting me into this mess in the first place.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Whiskers Yawns

You’ve already met Milo the Old Metry troublemaker. Introducing Whiskers his partner in feline crime. Whiskers is clearly unimpressed by his newfound fame:

Mnuchin The Mooch

To paraphrase Scott Fitzgerald, the super rich are different from you and me. That’s hardly an original insight but it certainly describes the latest antics of Donald Trump’s fellow grifter and Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin:

 On Wednesday, ABC News added fuel to that fire reporting that the Treasury Secretary requested the use of an Air Force jet on the couple’s European honeymoon this summer.

Mnuchin, 54, married the 36-year-old Linton in June and the pair later honeymooned in Scotland, France, and Italy. “Officials familiar with the matter say the highly unusual ask for a U.S. Air Force jet, which according to an Air Force spokesman could cost roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, was put in writing by the secretary’s office but eventually deemed unnecessary after further consideration of by Treasury Department officials,” according to ABC News. While the pricey lift to Europe didn’t end up happening, the request itself was unusual enough to trigger the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General to launch an inquiry into the circumstances under which Mnuchin might need a Top Gun-style honeymoon.

A Treasury spokesman explained to ABC News that the reasoning behind the request was that Mnuchin, as a member of the National Security Council, needed to maintain secure line of communication with the White House while sipping aperitivos in Italy. “The Secretary is a member of the National Security Council and has responsibility for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence,” the spokesman said in a statement. “It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft.”

Holy lame excuse, Batman. Did the dog eat his briefing papers too?

I stayed out of the whole Louise Linton-Instagram fracas back in August. It was funnier than hell but it was merely a tempest in a designer teapot. Besides it was unimportant: she’s not part of Trump’s criminal enterprise masquerading as an administration. But her husband is. He also “kicked past the coverage” as my friend Cait is wont to say. In short, he’s a frog and Linton is a snooty princess much like Donald and his future ex-wife,

I’ve known some extremely wealthy individuals (used in the same way cops use the word as a synonym for skel) in my lifetime. They tend to be some of the cheapest people on the planet unless, that is, they want something from you. They rarely pay for anything: you think they got rich by throwing their dosh about? I’m sure Mnuchin doesn’t carry cash or a wallet: he’s clearly above such things since he’s a very important, very pompous man.

The mere fact that Mnuchin spent some time as a movie producer is proof positive that he’s a cheapskate and grifter. Remember the Sopranos episode where Christopher went to Hollywood to pitch Cleaver? He saw the rich getting richer with their swag bags. He wound up mugging Betty Bacall.

As a classic film fan, Tony would not have approved. Perhaps he learned about it and that was one of the reasons Tony wacked Christopher. Nah. The mouthy recovering addict thing was enough. That concludes this edition of How Life Imitates The Sopranos.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time Mnuchin pulls a stunt like this. It just goes to show that Anthony Scaramucci wasn’t the only Mooch in the Trump regime. Hence the Two Mooches meme at the top of the post. I guess Minnie couldn’t make it that day.

Instead of Cab Calloway, the last word goes to Richard Thompson with a song about greed:

 

Was Trump Played Like A Cheap Fiddle? Well…

schumer_fiddle

First though, IF some sort of deal was made to extend DACA protections, then good. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live under that kind of stress. I also can’t imagine what it’s like to be so abjectly cruel as to demand deportation (hmmm, what’s the word? Deplorable? Yeah, pretty much).

And … I’ll never cozy up to Pelosi and Schumer, but before anyone writes them off for dealing with The Donald, consider what sort of shit sandwich they were served last November. I guess my advancing age has pushed me into the take-what-you-can-art-of-the-possible-camp…but, I’ll take what I can. Sucks that a combination of arcane election rules, voter suppression, corporate money by the (container) shipload, gerrymandering, etc., have produced a nation both richer than King Midas’ wildest dreams and one that casually accepts, oh, I don’t know, savage inequality, crap (or nonexistent) public goods,  but that’s what we’ve got, and at this point anything that doesn’t shovel more money upwards while kicking the have-nots in the teeth (much) is … if nothing else, a lesser of evils in my book.

Finally, just speculating here, but…I wonder if the latest round of not treating the Democrats like a punching bag has several reasons behind it. Offhand, Mueller’s investigation appears to be swinging into high gear, and Trump might feel like he needs all the breathing room he can muster. Also, while not a Rhodes scholar, neither is he so dim that he can’t realize his Administration is vying with the Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Harding doormats for worst ever. Perhaps he’s desperate enough to do almost anything to weasel out of historical, or legal, judgment. Or maybe he is on some things like a cheap fiddle that can be played…which, if the case, is…better than a shit sandwich. Not by much, but…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: House Of Storm

I went a googling and came up with this 1949 book by Mignon Eberhardt. I like that she had a French first name and a German surname. It makes her sound surprisingly fancy for a writer from Nebraska.

Ron Ziegler In A Frock

I don’t think many of our readers are old enough to have had the Ron Ziegler experience. Ziegler was, of course, Tricky Dick’s press secretary. He combined ignorance and arrogance in his dealings with the White House press corps. He was never (at the risk of sounding like Poppy Bush) in the loop and said many loopy things: my personal favorite was when he declared  his previous comments about the Watergate burglary “inoperative.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (hereinafter Huck’s Horrible Spawn) is well on her way to becoming the most hated White House press secretary since Ziegler; even the dread Ari Fleischer had his supporters. Huck’s Horrible Spawn clearly knows nothing about what’s going on in the White House she pretends to speak for. Today she urged ESPN to fire Jemele Hill for criticizing her boss on the sacred tweeter tube. Apparently, Trump is the only one who can fire off insulting tweets. So much for free speech.

Huck’s Horrible Spawn also dusted off her non-existent law degree and proclaimed James Comey a criminal. This is simultaneously ludicrous and menacing. The White House is threatening its opponents with jail or, in the case, of Ms. Hill, loss of her livelihood. This is a classic authoritarian move, which is why I originally called this post Creeping Authoritarianism. The image of  Ron Ziegler in a frock is much funnier. And we need all the comic relief we can get in the Trump era.

There’s one good thing in Huck’s Horrible Spawn being Ron Ziegler in a Frock. Like the Z-Man she knows nothing, bupkis, zilch about the scandals that are hanging over the White House. She may not even need to lawyer up or testify before Congress about her non-existent knowledge. It’s good to be out of the loop and in over your head.

I don’t have a picture of Ron Ziegler in a frock but I found a picture of him with Elvis Presley. That will  have to do.