Summer in New Orleans is typically one long heat advisory but this week has been one of the hottest I can remember. It’s August hot. It’s so hot that new kitty Paul Drake isn’t trying to bolt out the front door whenever it opens. It’s so hot that the air smacks you in the face like a wet barber shop towel. I’m almost tempted to try frying eggs on the sidewalk but I don’t believe in wasting food. In short, it’s fucking hot.
I haven’t been as prolific as usual blogging-wise the last few weeks. I’ve made the mistake of taking the news too personally. It’s bad for both the psyche and satire. It’s been hard not to: the news has been so unrelentingly bleak of late. It makes it hard to be a glass half full person. It’s looking bone dry. That’s why I’m going to keep this post on the snappy side. In addition to my proverbial glass being bone dry, my funny bone is banged up. The good news is that it’s bruised, not broken. And writing Odds & Sods is always therapeutic.
This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Old 97’s for their 1999 album, Fight Songs. That was when this Dallas based alt-country power pop combo came on my radar screen. Lonely Holiday is a very sad song, which is appropriate given the events of the last few weeks. Only a sad song will do.
Get ready to rock with the original studio track as well as a lively live version:
Now that Rhett Miller has serenaded us with a sad song, it’s time to jump to the break.
First, we’ve gotten so used to phony libertarians like Senator Aqua Buddha and the Koch brothers that we don’t recognize the real deal. Anthony Kennedy is opposed to excessive government regulation in ALL AREAS. On the plus side, he’s championed gay rights and opposed the overruling of Roe v. Wade. On the minus side, he applies his libertarianism to economic and free speech questions and we end up with the Kennedy who supported this term’s awful rulings and Citizens United. He’s simply being consistent in favoring as limited a role for government as possible unless there’s a national security rationale as in the Muslim ban case.
Second, the impact of Kennedy’s exit, stage right, on the fate of the Mueller investigation is worrisome. The Supremes are likely to vote on various aspects of the investigation, which means that Trump has yet another serious conflict of interest:
A president under active criminal investigation of whether he won legitimately and whether he has obstructed that very investigation should not be permitted by a mere Senate majority to designate the justice whose votes could prove pivotal to the fate of his presidency.
We know that Chinless Mitch doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the niceties of the law. He believes in power, pure and simple. He clearly regards the McConnell Court as his most important legacy. Conservatives long ago honed in on the federal courts but whenever I urge people to vote based on Supreme Court nominations, I’m rewarded for my efforts with a glazed look.
As to the president* he’s a walking conflict of interest, so why would he care? He has important work to do: engaging in a cover-up in plain sight is difficult and a Gorsuch clone on the court would suit his purposes.
The money is passage is about Kennedy’s son, Justin, who has a longstanding business relationship with the Trumps:
But they had a connection, one Mr. Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.
“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”
Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.
One cannot expect Kennedy’s perorations about dignity and respect to trump crony capitalism. #sarcasm.
It’s time for another picture taken by ace catsitter Christy of Petit Pet Care fame. Her spectral form makes a cameo appearance in this snapshot of Della Street demanding food and protesting against her fate in life. Food is merely the object of her objectionable objection.
It’s been a harrowing few weeks for the country. It’s yet another reason to remind you that not everything sucks. I’d forgotten about this landmark until I saw this tweet from Herriman biographer and Laissez Boy, Michael Tisserand:
Mel Brooks is 92 years old today. Pictured with Carl Reiner.
Mel Brooks is one of my comedic heroes. He awakens funny, is funny for lunch, and hilarious for dinner. He never stops, even at the advanced age of 92 He’s a national treasure. Here’s the great comic with Dick Cavett:
Here’s a comedy summit meeting featuring Mel Brooks and Johnny Carson:
I have one more clip for your entertainment, here’s the birthday boy with his dear friend Carl Reiner:
Happy Birthday, Mel. Here’s the obligatory ending, for me at least:
I planned to write about the McConnell Court after the appalling decision in the Muslim ban case, which featured an off-hand reversal of the infamous Korematsu ruling. I hadn’t planned to write about Anthony Kennedy but then the news cycle went berserk and my plans changed.
Liberal twitter was on suicide watch after Kennedy’s announcement. There was fear in the virtual air. Kennedy *was* a swing vote on some issues that matter to liberals: abortion, guns, and gay rights. BUT he was also a conservative Reagan appointee who voted with right-wing justices in 13 out of 13 5-4 decisions this term.
It was always more fan fiction than reality that Justice Anthony Kennedy was a moderate centrist. Democrats liked to soothe themselves with the story that Kennedy was a moderate because he’d provided the fifth vote to support continued affirmative action, reproductive rights, and gay rights and had strung the left along with the tantalizing promise of someday finding an unconstitutional political gerrymander. But we always knew that Kennedy was a conservative, indeed a very conservative conservative. Recall that in the famous study done in 2008 by Richard Posner and William Landes, “Four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since the time of Franklin Roosevelt, including [John] Roberts and [Samuel] Alito, are currently sitting on the bench today.” And Kennedy? He was ranked in that study as the 10th most conservative justice in the past century.
To the extent we wrote paeans to Kennedy, it was for his occasional defections in areas that materially affect the lives of millions of people—women, minorities, LGBTQ couples, voters, Guantanamo detainees. And to be sure, each of those votes was well worth it. But we knew that for each such vote, there was a Bush v. Gore, a Citizens United, a Shelby County.
Kennedy’s opinions this term reflected an exhaustion with the law and the court that shouldn’t surprise anyone. He’s 81 years old and ready to sit back and do whatever retired Supremes do. We should have never regarded him as a legal savior of sorts. We’re on our own now.
I am not optimistic about the chances of defeating Trump’s next nominee BUT it’s a battle well-worth waging. The filibuster was nuked for SCOTUS nominees during the Gorsuch confirmation process BUT the GOP majority is nominally 51-49 but actually 50-49 because of John McCain’s illness. I am not optimistic about rhetorically pro-choice Senators Collins and Murkowski voting NO since Republican moderates almost always cave. Jeff Flake has made noises about holding up judicial nominees until McConnell allows a vote on tariffs but it’s unclear if that would apply to Kennedy’s soon-to-be vacated seat. Besides, Flake has been all hat and no cattle in his opposition to the Orange menace. We’re on our own now.
Having said that, Senate Democrats owe their base a fierce fight over this nomination. The future of Roe v. Wade is at stake. Overruling that 45 year-old precedent will NOT automatically render abortion illegal nationally, BUT it would allow states to do so. I expect the Gret Stet of Louisiana to be one of the early entrants in the odious race to abolish abortion. Louisiana Republicans have been working over-time to make Democrat John Bel Edwards a one-term Governor and a Roe reversal would hand them a cudgel. Edwards is rhetorically pro-life and, like Justice Kennedy, has supported restrictions. But Governor Edwards would have to deal with an enraged Democratic base if he signed a bill banning all abortions. I somehow doubt he views that prospect with anything but foreboding. He needs Gret Stet liberals if he is to be re-elected. It will be a major test of coalition politics here in my backyard. Stay tuned.
Kennedy’s exit-stage right-is a reminder to liberals that we should stop looking for saviors. There’s no deus ex machina that’s going to drop from the sky and save us from the Trumper horde. We have to do it ourselves at the ballot box. There remains an excellent chance to flip the House but control of the Senate is up in the air despite the GOP’s narrow margin. It’s a tough map for Democrats, which is why everyone needs to forget about 2020 and focus on state and congressional elections. We on our own now.
Like many, I had hoped that Anthony Kennedy’s personal qualities would make him loath to allow the loathsome Insult Comedian to appoint his successor. Kennedy is famous for using words like dignity and respect in his opinions. Ain’t nobody less dignified or more disrespectful than Donald Trump who has already made the Kennedy retirement about himself. Dahlia Lithwick, once again, summed up my feelings on this point:
Many of us predicted that Kennedy would not allow Trump to replace him with someone who would dismantle his legacy. We were wrong. Many of us believed that a lifelong devotee of dignity, civility, and the rule of law would not want his work tarnished by a president who routinely attacks individual judges and the very notion of an independent judiciary. We were wrong. That two of Anthony Kennedy’s last judicial acts included a letter that opened “My dear Mr. President” and a vote to grant that same president a virtual blank check on the national security front certainly suggests that nothing about a president who lies, bullies, and destabilizes the rule of law was any kind of real impediment to Kennedy’s departure.
2018 is the most important off-year election in the history of the Republic. It’s a chance to check the wild excesses of the executive and legislative branches. Organize and vote like your life depends on it.
Anyone with a pulse should recognize that we’re going through another IOKIYAR moment. Republicans and their allies in the MSM as well as some spineless liberal pundits are lecturing us about manners and civility. It’s particularly rich when the party in power is led by the crudest and rudest president* since Andrew Johnson. We’re being told that manners are for Democrats and that it’s RUDER for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be refused service in an eatery than for the Trump regime to imprison children. Once again: IOKIYAR.
I, for one, refuse to be lectured by the followers of a president* who sucks up to dictators while attacking our friends and allies. The rationale for tariffs against the best neighbor in the world, Canada, is national security. Justin Trudeau is a threat to our national security? Imagine if Barack Obama had insulted Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in this manner when they were both in office. The outrage on the right would have exceeded Tan Suitgate. Once again: IOKIYAR.
The Insult Comedian’s persistent racism has inspired his supporters to go after religious, ethnic, and racial minorities. It’s become commonplace to hear of insults being thrown at people of color but when Maxine Waters attacks Donald Trump that’s out-of-bounds incivility. Once again: IOKIYAR.
Since rampant both-siderism has broken out, I have an example from each side back then. On the right, Bull Connor sicced dogs on children protesting for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama. On the left, a favorite chant of anti-war protesters was: “Hey, hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?”
Sounds like incivility to me, but what do I know? I didn’t write dog-whistle laden speeches for Tricky Dick, which somehow makes Gergen an expert on civility.
I am in favor of civility in the abstract. I used to be able to discuss politics with conservative friends and relations without drawing blood. That started eroding when Bush the younger was president and ground to a full-stop when those folks wouldn’t admit racism was a factor in Obama derangement syndrome on the right.
There’s been plenty of incivility from the right in my lifetime. Those of us who opposed the Iraq War were accused of siding with terrorists and opposing the troops. The same bunch wants us to be civil in the face of children being torn apart from their parents; a policy that even Laura Bush finds rude. As they say across the pond, BOLLOCKS.
The MSM, Republicans, and their fellow travelers among the liberal punditocracy are using the word civility as a wet blanket to smother dissent. Genuine civility is based on mutual respect as opposed to unilateral verbal disarmament.
I think Amanda Marcotte summed it up nicely on the tweeter tube:
The one-sided nature of the “civility” debate — where only liberals are lectured about this, while Trump mocks disabled people and Gold Star families, but liberals are told to play nice — reminds me, as usual, of the dynamics of abuse.
Fuck Gorsuch and just less than half of SCOTUS and McConnell and Ryan and everybody writing about “civility” and the millions of people who voted for Trump because he made them feel good about themselves and fuck the people screaming at the press at Trump rallies and goddamn, blast, confound and fuck every single person in this administration today.
Kick and I spent last night writing postcards to lawmakers over family detention and making plans with friends for another march this weekend, after marching last weekend, because there are fascists in power and we have weekends off work.
I told Kick, who is prone to internalizing everything and processing it as nightmares and also is four years old, that we were writing to the government because the government was not treating children fairly. Why? Because of the color of their skin, I said, citing our picture books about Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou.
(“When government does something we don’t like we ask them to change it,” I told her.
“Can I have a cookie when we get there?”
#WokeToddler is more like #HungryToddler and I can’t tell you how many protests I’ve bribed her through with food or the promise of a playground later.)
It didn’t feel like much, writing postcards. We made cards for the children in detention and she colored them. Especially today, it didn’t feel like much.
But we’re not on the barricades here, not all of us. Some of us are running office supplies and ice cream for the people who are. And some of us aren’t on the barricades today, but will be tomorrow. And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Nobody’s coming, so save yourselves, and the person to your left, and the person to your right.
Do not be daunted, says my childhood Bible from its box in my attic, by the enormity of the world’s misery. Do justly, now.
Job’s the same as it ever was. Save as many as you can. Feel free to post ideas about how/where to do that, in the comments.
Under the Salem method, threats are evaluated at a Level One stage by a school-based team that may include school police. If it is determined that parents would be constructive, they can be brought in during the process, the handbook says.
The handbook outlining the Salem method that Parkrose uses advises that aggression exists on a continuum, from a low end of “scratch, bite, hit” up to “rape, strangle, stab, shoot, bomb, kill.”
If school professionals remain unsure at Level One, the protocol goes to Level Two. A broader team completes a second analysis. In Sanders’ case, that included representatives from local police agencies, the county mental health office, a child welfare agency and the county developmental disabilities office.
Proponents of threat assessments say they’re more effective than security measures that make a school feel like a prison. But their impact on students assessed as threats, rather than their value to the school as a whole, is rarely considered.
The impact on this student and his family is horrifying, and the impact on the school, equally so. I’d like to talk about the money.
Because of course, capitalist, but bear with me.
The school spends on school police. They spend on threat assessment protocols and handbooks and they spend on staff time going to meetings and trainings and I’m sure somewhere in here was a seminar/webinar with an insufferable powerpoint and the word “utilizing.”
When, if we had gun laws that made any sense at all in this country, if we had any kind of laws that made any kind of sense, we’d have guidance counselors, not threat assessors. For students with special needs like the one described in the story above, we’d have trained aides and accommodations that would make school and everything that goes with it a learning experience, not a motherfucking gauntlet.
Yes, we’d still worry about violence, about kids with knife collections or irrational grudges, but we wouldn’t worry about them re-enacting the opening of Saving Private Ryan on Senior Skip Day, because we’d do what these idiots up in that story are trying to do with “threat assessments,” and take care of our goddamn kids.
We could do all of that with the money we spend on the things we do instead of taking the guns. We are making these endless end-runs around the thing we think we can’t address and it’s so exhausting watching us lie to ourselves that we’re powerless, that we HAVE to do the threat assessments and the stupid meetings and spend more on school police when what we have to do is take away the guns.
It would be CHEAPER, Jesus, if that’s your only metric, if the flagrant civil rights violations aren’t apparent, if the counterproductive nonsense detailed above isn’t enough, if all that persuades you is the spreadsheet, think of how much time it would save.
We can do all of that, or we can take the guns. You tell me which sounds better. And then you vote in November for the people most likely to SOLVE the problem, instead of assessing the threat.
I’m late to this subject but I wasn’t feeling particularly funny last week. That’s a rotten place for a satirist to find oneself in, but images of caged children have a way of making one feel somber. You know things are rotten when even I cannot find the humor in them. Things remain as rotten but I’m back to thinking laughter is the best medicine and that rotten is the secret word. I cannot believe I just name checked a Reader’s Digest feature. It must be a sign of impending senility or perhaps even condensed senescence…
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important,” Trump said at the third meeting of the National Space Council.
Trump’s deeply strange nod to racial-segregation policies was likely (though not definitely) unintentional.
“We will establish a long-term presence, expand our economy, and build the foundation for the eventual mission to Mars — which is actually going to happen very quickly,” Trump said. “And, you know, I’ve always said that rich guys seem to like rockets. So all of those rich guys that are dying for our real estate to launch their rockets, we won’t charge you too much. Just go ahead. If you beat us to Mars, we’ll be very happy and you’ll be even more famous.”
Trump had initially endorsed the idea of a Space Force in March, proclaiming, in a bit of Reagan-esque rhetoric, that “space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea.”
The new branch would be overseen by the Air Force, much the way that the Marine Corps is governed by the Navy.
The idea was first floated last March but Defense Secretary Mattis vetoed the notion. It must have been revived by a sci-fi fan on Trumpy’s staff or in Congress since he’s shown no sign of sci-fi awareness in the past. There is, however, a lot of fantasy fiction on his twitter feed.
I’m pretty sure the separate but equal reference was another feat of historical cluelessness. I suspect Trump has no idea who Homer Plessy was or what Jim Crow was. Of course, if Steven Miller wrote the speech all bets are off. Historical race baiting is his jam, after all.
The proposal was greeted with much derision. It took all the restraint I have to not call this post Trumpy’s Space Farce. Since someone else did it last week, I farced myself not to do so.
The Space Force is a terrible idea. As a die-hard Star Trek fan, I’m opposed to militarizing space. It’s what Klingons and Romulans do, not Americans. Hell, I even believe in the prime directive, which decrees we shouldn’t mess in other people’s business. Ain’t nothing worse than space busy bodies. Pointy-eared motherfuckers.
As I pointed out in 2016, if Trump were a Star Trek species, he’d be a Ferengi. They’re avaricious, misogynistic, and horny little creatures. I think Trumpy still aspires to be Grand Nagus.
I have a new nickname for the Insult Comedian: Grand Nagus Trumpy. Sure, it’s an inside joke but I’m an inside joker.
While we’re on the subject of Star Trek, I’d like to recommend a twitter feed. Gul Dukat was the main Cardassian villain on Deep Space Nine. Some clever clogs has come up with a Gul Dukat feed. It’s a hilarious parody of current events from the perspective of a cynical fictional space villain:
If Captain Sisko (who got nowhere with The Dominion and had to go to war with many billions of people being killed) had gotten along with The Dominion and made the initial steps toward a deal that I have, the #FakeNews would have named him a quadrant hero!
The Wormhole has been a big mess and problem for many years. At some point Sisko and Picard, who are weak on Crime and Wormhole security, will be forced to do a real deal, so easy, that solves this long time problem. Sisko used to want Wormhole security – now he’ll take Crime!
Jeez, I’ve sunk low. I’m quoting a fictionalized fictional character if you follow me. Perhaps Trumpy should try channeling Gul Dukat instead of the Grand Nagus. Of course, Dukat knows and uses big words. In Trumpese: he has the best words.
Finally, it’s time to circle back to the post title and featured image. They’re inspired by my obsession with the early Tubes. Space Baby was one of their signature songs: “Space baby, you got no planet.”
It’s eerily relevant because it’s about itinerant aliens. Rock and Roll aliens, not what the neo-Know-Nothings call “illegal aliens.” The Tubes get the last word:
President Trump is planning to sign an executive order to allow children to stay with parents caught crossing the border illegally — a step that could avoid the family separations that have triggered a national outcry and political crisis for Republicans.
The action under consideration would allow children to stay in detention with parents for an extended period of time, Fox News has learned. This comes as congressional Republicans scramble to draft legislation to address the same issue, but face challenges mustering the votes.
Trump previewed the new measure, while holding out hope for legislation, during remarks to reporters during a meeting Wednesday with lawmakers.
“I’ll be signing something in a little while [to keep families together],” he said, calling the move “somewhat preemptive” and stressing it would “be matched by legislation.” He also said he’s canceling the upcoming congressional picnic, adding: “It didn’t feel exactly right to me.”
Well, Trump lost this one. If ryan is not removed, expect a lot more of this kind of caving. These short timers are going to do as much damage as they can before they go. There is no tomorrow for them if they do not deliver for their future employers. I believe it is going to hurt us come midterms, very badly.
3 posted on 6/20/2018, 12:14:20 PM by JoSixChip (He is Batman!)
I’m a new never Trumper,never republican never conservative and really
Just gonna stop caring. Have fun y’all
They get three meals a day, plus snacks. Allowed to play outside. Have TV. Game rooms. They are very well taken care of. Oh yes, they get medical care and schooling. A whole lot more then our vets, homeless, and our own children get.
Libtards did not care about the illegals separated and put in detention centers in 2014 and they don’t care now. Its nothing but faux outrage and opportunistic propaganda.
A variation on this line was posted to a group sponsoring a march Kick and I and Mr. A attended on Saturday and there’s a short response, which is go to hell, because these aren’t arguments against putting kids in cages, these what-abouts, these where-were-yous. They’re the speaker/writer’s sad, desperate attempt to excuse themselves from caring and stomp on the tiny little feeling that maybe they should do something. That’s all they are, and engaging with them is pointless.
The longer response is, of course, WE WERE PAYING DUES TO THE ACLU. We were voting for people who promised to reform immigration and provide citizenship to undocumented children. We were donating to food banks and raising money for homeless shelters. We were striking for better schools and community clinics and investment in minority neighborhoods. Where were we? How dare you. We were here the whole time.
You saw us, in fact. You saw us pushing for a higher minimum wage so fewer kids would go hungry and you mocked the “burger-flippers and janitors” who were demonstrating on the streets. You saw us fighting for health care for all and you told us to take chickens to the doctor. You saw us trying to do right by the poor — yes, YOUR HARDWORKING AMERICANS WHO ARE ALREADY HERE — and all you did was scream about welfare queens.
(And not for nothing, but if we were all useless libtard hypocrites? FINE, then. We’re useless libtard hypocrites. You’ve proved your point, so you’ll let the kids out of their cages now, right? RIGHT?!)
Don’t come to us now, those of us in the streets every night and every weekend trying to change just this one little outrage at a moment when the world is overwhelmed by them, and ask us why we didn’t protest the other things you ignored or mocked us for protesting. We were in the streets against the Iraq War. We were on the phones against warrantless wiretapping. We were on the picket line for Wisconsin workers and Ohio laborers and we were at the polls in 2016 trying to stop this.
Fantastic Landscape (Volcano Erupting) by David Alfaro Siquerios.
Our visit to Virginia was a quickie. One of the highlights came on the return trip when we met longtime First Draft readers Lex and Carroll Alexander for lunch. We rendezvoused at Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC and ate the food of their people: barbecue. The meal included perhaps the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. A good time was had by all but I’m afraid Carroll and I did most of the talking. She has family roots in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and I was eager to untangle them. Nosy might be a better word, but it’s always fun to learn someone has Momus/Comus/Proteus old line krewe types in the family. You never know what happens when you give someone’s family tree a shake. All sorts of oddities are likely to fall out.
On a weird note, I got into a twitter slagging match last week with a Gret Stet legislator’s wife. My crime was criticizing her hubby’s voting record. She was not amused and he contacted me by DM. “Perfection” is a terrible burden and they don’t carry it well. #sarcasm. I wound up inviting them to a “block party” so the fight would end. I’m not sure why they think fighting with citizens is a good move but they do. I’m not the first person to have this experience and won’t be the last. Weird, weird, weird.
This week’s theme song wedged itself in my head on our trip home. The title is a minor misnomer as we got home last Sunday. The very Beatlesque The Day I Get Home was written by Difford and Tilbrook for 1991’s Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a swell live performance.
Now that we’ve trekked home, it’s time to jump to the break without crash landing. Knock on wood or some such superstitious shit.
The post title refers to the opening line of a classic Crowded House song, which became the name of the Crowded House fan email list in which I was an active participant when it was active. Here’s the tune:
Sorry to play the same song over and over, but I think it’s worth repeating. There are times to debate issues. This isn’t one. There’s no arguing. Team Trump and the GOP base (or maybe I should say Team Trump IS the GOP base); anyway, it’s a political movement based on cruelty and hatred, pure and simple.
It’s not like this is new. They’ve been around for a while…I’m sure you could go back further, but certainly since Goldwater…Nixon carried them, as did Reagan and Bush Junior…though…I’d thought of these folks as George W. Bush voters. I didn’t realize they likely view Bush as “ok, but a little nuanced and sophisticated.” Trump, for all his ugliness, speaks their language.
Which leaves us at a crossroads. I still think a majority of people in this country reject Trumpism. They did in 2016. Let’s not forget he won on a technicality/thanks to weird rules. So, in the upcoming mid-terms, we need to express this rejection in the strongest possible way. Vote them out.
Or deal with the consequences of living in a country that embraces casual cruelty as public policy. Guess we’ll see what happens.