Monthly Archives: July 2018

Projection Thy Name Is Donald

It’s tricky writing about something like the NATO summit in the Trump era. One never knows whether he’ll be satisfied with sowing chaos or will get down to some real destruction. As of this writing, it appears to be the former BUT that could change if he gets an itchy twitter trigger finger. This is no way to run a railroad, let alone an alliance.

The president* trotted out two of his personas at the summit: the Kaiser of Chaos and the Insult Comedian. He attacked Germany for having business dealings with a Russian oil company. Uh, Donny, Germany doesn’t have any oil. That’s one reason they lost World War II, which was a good thing in case you forgot what side we were on. Better yet, the Russians were our allies in that conflict. Who knew? Not Trumpy.

It was in his comments about Germany that the Insult Comedian did his projection trick. I’ll let a tweet from a friend of mine explain:

Thanks for the definition, o hairy one. Trump also said that Germany was in “Russia’s pocket.” It must be crowded in there, Donny. Perhaps Putin has a huge overcoat with massive pockets. It gets cold in the former Soviet Union even for spies who have come in from the cold and become presidents.

Getting offended is fashionable in 2018. I don’t offend  easily. But I *was* offended on behalf of Chancellor Merkel who grew up in East Germany, which was a vassal state of the Soviet Union. Why? Trump also referred to Germany as a “captive of Russia.”

Merkel’s public response was meek, which is her strategy in dealing with the Kaiser of Chaos:

“I myself experienced a part of Germany that was controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany. We decide our own policies and make our own decisions.”

I wonder if someone on Team Trump told their master that the Warsaw Pact countries were often called “captive nations” during the Cold War or if he just stumbled into that infelicitous phrase. We all know that he “don’t know much about history.”

Merkel’s handling of Trump reminds me of Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy when he was an older boxer. Merkel is trying to wear Trump out and outlast him. It’s obvious that he has the attention span of a puppy who isn’t house broken. The stupid fucker pisses on everything in sight, after all.

Trump hasn’t the foggiest notion as to how an alliance works. Slate’s Fred Kaplan nailed it in his piece about the summit:

Trump is wrong, and dangerously so: He displays no understanding of how NATO works, no appreciation for the inherent value of the alliance, and—when it comes to his most solid complaint, the failure of most members to spend 2 percent of their GNP on defense—no awareness of what that target really means.

Trump seems to think that the members of NATO are like the tenants in one of his apartment buildings. They owe a certain amount in rent; they haven’t been paying the full amount; he’s been filling the gap; so now they need to pay him back—or else. I am not exaggerating.

Real estate developers are the worst, y’all.

The next leg of Trumpy’s travels takes him to the United Kingdom, a country with enough problems of its own as the Tory government melts down over Brexit. A normal US president might try to buck up beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May *or* mind their own business. But the Kaiser of Chaos wants to meet with Boris Johnson who just resigned as Foreign Secretary over May’s attempt to execute a “soft Brexit.” Bozza compared selling that policy to “polishing a turd.” Perhaps he should give Sarah Huckabee Sanders some tips. Her job is all about turd polishing.

It’s scary that the NATO summit could have been worse. Trump signed the communique and declared victory even though it’s unclear what he won. He’s all about “winning.” I wonder if he’ll taunt Queen Elizabeth about England’s loss in the World Cup?

I have a suggestion for NATO member states. Remind Donald that the 2% defense spending solution was proposed by the Obama administration in 2014. It’s the surest way to get him to change what passes for his mind.

The last word goes to Athenae’s boyfriend:

This Is Your Brain On Trump

brain_trump_projection

President-as-Amateur-Hour/Putin’s Stooge continues on…sure, the extended white wingnut cri de coeur (cri de Coors?) is the reddest of red meat to the GOP base, but I think that underscores the real division in the country. It’s less left versus right and more grownup versus selfish brat.

I’m not sure what else we need to motivate grownups to get out and vote. Trump’s an embarrassment, an affront to the democratic process, a sexist, racist, boor…and the living embodiment of undiluted white, racist, wingnut id. Hell, THEY’RE motivated, motivated enough to attend rallies where the scatterbrained ricochet reactionary babbling incoherence is the main attraction

November is our chance to demonstrate what sort of country we are. Let’s hope the answer is a country that at the very least isn’t a shameful embarrassment.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Cave

I mentioned this book in my post about the Thai cave rescues. It’s one of those books that lodged itself in my consciousness when I read it many years ago. It’s the story of a young man trapped in a cave in Tennessee. I won’t tell you what happened since the book is well-worth reading for both the tale and the telling.

A point of order: my LSU friends are likely to object to a Warren book popping up in this feature. The Cave is literary fiction but the paperback covers are on the pulpy side. Besides, its my party and I’ll cry it I want to.

Invasion Of The Federalist Society Body Snatchers

Charlie Pierce has a theory that the Federalist Society has a lab where they grow GOP judicial nominees. It’s hard to argue the point that they’re pod people like the ones grown in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Btw, Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version is one of the few remakes I like. It’s more of a re-imagining. Besides, what’s not to like about a movie set in San Francisco with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum. I do, however, still revere the 1956 Don Siegel directed original with Monty Clift’s bestie, Kevin McCarthy who should never be confused with the House Majority leader. End of film buff reverie.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand: pod person Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I skipped the fakakta dog and pony show staged by Trumpy’s new flack, Bill Shine. It was timed to boost the ratings of Shine’s pal, Sean Hannity. That Fox News meathead is now the most influential media type in the land. I feel as if I’ve died and gone to hell. At least the 8PM EST timing juiced up my girl Rachel Maddow’s ratings as well.

One deviation from the Federalist Society playbook is that Kavanaugh had a rough ride in his first confirmation process. He was nominated by George W Bush in 2003 and not confirmed until 2006. He’s been compared to two movie characters: Zelig by Chuck Schumer and Forrest Gump by Dick Durbin. Here’s why: Kavanaugh is a political animal who was involved in the Clinton impeachment, the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, and was a senior aide to George W Bush before moving to the Federalist Society greenhouse/lab and rehatching as a federal judge.

One serious problem Kavanaugh faces is that Senator Durbin believes that he lied at his confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh claimed that he was ignorant of some of the nastier practices of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror. Unfortunately, lying is not disqualifying in the Trump era. Durbin is still on the judiciary committee and ready to call Kavanaugh out.

The more I look at Kavanaugh’s track record, the more I see why McConnell preferred another pod person. Kavanaugh’s paper trail is long, extensive, and contradictory. Senators have customarily been allowed to pour over the nominee’s documents, which in this instance could number up to a million because of Kavanaugh’s association with Ken Starr and Bush the younger. There are emails involved. That should give wingnuts a boner but it won’t because:

There seem to be two reasons why pod person Kavanaugh was selected in the face of opposition by social conservatives:

First, Team Trump schmoozed Justice Kennedy into retiring with the promise that his former law clerk would be his successor. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would join fellow Kennedy clerk Neil Gorsuch on the bench. There’s been some mutterings of a corrupt deal but this seems more like mentoring run amuck. You can tell that Trump out-sourced that part of the process because he’d have no problem betraying Kennedy. Stiffing people is what he does. Just ask his former chaffeur.

Second, I’m convinced that the president* selected pod person Kavanaugh because he views him as a human get-out-of-jail-free card. I’ll let girlfriend Dahlia Lithwick explain:

Over what I believe to be a surprisingly authentic warning from Mitch McConnell not to select Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat left by Anthony Kennedy, the president chose the guy who had the most to say about imperial presidents. This is not a surprise. Beyond the fact that Kennedy doubtless approved of Trump’s selection—Kavanaugh, like Gorsuch, clerked for Kennedy—the single greatest selling point for Kavanaugh had to have been the much-reported line from his 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, in which he wrote, “Even in the absence of congressionally conferred immunity, a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a President can be criminally indicted and tried while in office.” A President Trump seeking justification to immunize himself from prosecution needed to look no farther than Kavanaugh’s caution in that same article that the indictment and trial of a president “would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas.”

Being a GOP pod person, Kavanaugh was for vigorously investigating presidents before he was against it. I suspect that had something to do with his days in the Beavis-Duce White House. Repeat after me:

I’m milking that meme for all it’s worth. It was originally supposed to be the featured image for a post centered on the IOKYAR-ness of this nominee. That was before I entered the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse and tripped over a pod.

The nomination of pod person  Kavanaugh provides opponents with more ammunition than any other potential nominee, which is the incompetent Trumper twist on the Federalist Society formula. I still expect the latest pod to be hatched at the Supreme Court after narrowly being confirmed. BUT the extent of Kavanaugh’s paper trail should slow things down considerably. I’m sure the Turtle has a few tricks stored in his shell but we saw with the failed ACA vote that Chinless Mitch is not infallible.

More importantly, Trump has given Democrats an issue gift for the election. Here’s girlfriend Dahlia again:

In short, this means that Trump didn’t just give Senate Democrats the talking point that Kavanaugh is an all-but-certain vote to erode or end Roe v. Wade. That statement, while true, could’ve been made about any of the judges on the president’s short list. In selecting Kavanaugh, Trump has given Democrats an additional talking point: The president picked a guy he hopes will hand him a get-out-of-jail-free card.

A pair of Democratic senators have already jumped on this bandwagon, with Jeff Merkley tweeting that the pick indicates Trump “is terrified of Robert Mueller” and Cory Booker stating that he “literally selected the one person who has a pretty good written record of saying, ‘Hey, if you’re a president under investigation, I don’t think you should be allowed to be under criminal investigation.’ ”

Whether this is true or not, or even supported in Kavanaugh’s extensive record, the fact is that Senate Democrats will be able to spend the summer arguing precisely what the president doesn’t want them to argue: that the Mueller probe is ongoing, that close Trump confederates have been indicted and other indictments are coming, that many of the legal questions surrounding the Mueller investigation may end up before the Supreme Court, and that the president may have hand-picked a judge solely for the possibility that he may vote to exonerate him.

Donald Trump always puts his own selfish interests ahead of the national interest. He’s done it again. He can’t even follow the Federalist Society script and nominate another Roberts or Gorsuch. Kavanaugh seems genial enough but he’s a flawed pod person who will make it easier for the Senate minority to slow things down. Thanks, Trumpy.

I’m not though throwing memes at you. Let’s pay a visit to the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse in glorious black and white.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: The Idiot

Sometimes the best album covers are the simplest. That’s the case with Iggy Pop’s first solo album, The Idiot. It’s also the album cover that answers the eternal question: does Iggy own any shirts?

The Idiot was co-produced by David Bowie who co-wrote 7 of the 8 songs with Mr. Pop. It’s one of the Bowie related albums from what is known as his Thin White Duke/Berlin period. West Berlin to be precise. The Idiot was released in 1977 when the wall was still a thing.

Here’s the China Girl/Baby single cover. It’s a more characteristic Iggy shot: shirtless and leaping about.

It’s lagniappe time: here’s a promo poster with a certain producer’s name on it.

The entire album is not available on the You Tube so here’s China Girl followed by a live version of Funtime with the producer on keyboards.

10 Ways to Cover a Trump Rally

In today’s installment of “mild criticism on Twitter necessitates a nuclear hissyfit,” Beltway journalists act like being asked to not air Trump’s unhinged racist ranting live is tantamount to telling them to all quit their jobs and make butter in the country:

(They should all quit their jobs and go make butter. Butter is useful and has hurt nobody. Then we can give their jobs to people who aren’t so easily butthurt and don’t throw whiny hissies on Twitter.)

Since America’s Most Important Journalists have apparently run out of ways to cover something, other than pointing a camera directly at a podium and listening in respectful silence in real time, I have some suggestions.

Ten of them, in fact.

Ten ways to “cover” a Trump rally that don’t involve repeating word-for-word what the president said or airing it live uncritically. These are in no particular order, though the first one is something I’ve suggested in good faith to journo friends/students.

Ready?

Here we go:

  1. Stick around after the event is over. Interview the cleanup staff. What did they (likely low-wage employees of a contractor or venue, likely also non-white) think about what they overheard?
  2. Related: What gets left behind after a Trump rally? Empty out a garbage bin and write a list of everything inside there.
  3. Pick one person, just one, inside the rally and stick with them the entire time. Tell the story of the rally from their perspective. Now pick a person outside the rally. Do the same. Tell the two stories in turn, without judging either.
  4. Real-time fact check, a la Daniel Dale.  Preferably without using any cutesy “four pants-on-fires” bullshit.
  5. Count the number of times Trump repeats himself. He doesn’t just say untrue shit, he says the same untrue shit, over and over and over. Find a line he’s used a thousand times and list all the times he’s used it and in what contexts.
  6. Trump goes into a community for one of these things. What does it cost that community? Police, fire, security, cleanup, setup, traffic, etc. How many people locally get pressed into service?
  7. Find the person who would be affected the most by Trump’s message that day. If you know where he’s going to be, a local organization can find you somebody to talk to. You know what his bugaboos are: immigrants, veterans, etc. Have somebody local in these places on call for those topics in case he goes off.
  8. Change your perspective. If he’s gonna be on about the military, watch the speech from a VFW. Watch the speech from a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, public library, anyplace where people are the farthest from public policymaking but most impacted by it.
  9.  Get genuine response. Don’t just ask the chairman of the local Dem organization for a perfunctory “what a complete load of bullshit, say some critics who may or may not be right because we have no ability to tell” obligation-graf. Get a response that presents an alternate reality to what you heard from Trump. Say to someone, “If you had given a speech here tonight as president, what would you have talked about?”
  10. Trump clock: Note when he makes a promise of something happening there in the town you’re in. Return to it when that deadline passes. Keep returning to it.

These are all things that can be done while feeding neither Trump’s ego nor, honestly, the Resistance. Nobody’s asking you to stand there screaming YOU LIE every second, which is what you’d have to do, because he lies every second.

What we are asking are perspectives that don’t involve simply repeating what he said with his title after it and giving it the same credence as you would a pronouncement from a normal president.

Though I suppose that makes us just as bad as people who want to put journalists in concentration camps and hang them from the sour apple tree.

And if you’re reaching for that argument, maybe pick up a butter churn instead.

A.

Quote Of The Day: Alternate Reality Edition

It comes from a column by the Observer’s Will Hutton. He’s writing about hardcore Thatcherites and Brexiters but it applies equally to American teabaggers.

There is truth. One of the reasons for our current disastrous plight is that politicians, especially but not only on the Thatcherite Eurosceptic right, have come to feel that what is true is what they believe. Their beliefs may not correspond to reality but that does not matter. Others may think they shamelessly lie or deceive, but what matters is an intent to be truthful to their beliefs, even if the gap between what they say and what is true is so yawning anyone else would regard their utterances as bare-faced lies.

This reminds me of the members of the so-called House Freedom Caucus. They’re currently in thrall to the Insult Comedian but *they* believe their own rhetoric. They hate Hillary Clinton and she was Secretary of State when Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi happened. Therefore she must be guilty of some sort of crime. And don’t forget those emails.

One of the most obnoxious and deeply stupid members of the Freedom Caucus is Ohio’s Jim Jordan. He’s gotten himself in a spot of bother over accusations that, as an assistant wresting coach at Ohio State, he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by the team doctor. Jordan has denied the allegations but I’m skeptical. This is a man who lies, or fantasizes in the sense described by Will Hutton, every day. The president* insists he’s a good man who’s being lied about. That means, of course, that he did it.

There are some calls for a Congressional ethics inquiry but that’s unlikely. The activity occurred long before Jordan was elected to the House. I am, however, enjoying this sanctimonious investigator being hoist on his own petard. The dotard who watches teevee at the White House probably doesn’t know the word petard. Look it up, dude.

Jordan’s inaction in the face of evil makes him a third-rate Joe Paterno to Dr. Richard Strauss’ Jerry Sandusky. He’s not as culpable as Paterno because he wasn’t head coach BUT his moral responsibility is the same. Inaction often speaks louder than words.

Jordan will continue to denounce and deny the allegations. I’m sure he believes his story because he’s certain of his own rectitude.  To paraphrase the immortal words of Difford and Tilbrook, the truth is NOT his middle name:

 

Not Everything Sucks: The Thai Cave Rescues

One thing y’all might not know about me is that I’m fascinated with cave rescues. It may have something to do with an overactive imagination or reading Robert Penn Warren’s novel The Cave or repeated viewings of Billy Wilder’s Ace In The Hole. Whatever the reason, I find them fascinating as well as creepy since I’m mildly claustrophobic.

The tale of the twelve trapped Thai boys has been riveting. I’ve been reading as much coverage as I can lay my eyes on. The Guardian has been all over the story with ace Asia reporter Michael Safi on the scene.

The news as of this writing is good: a total of 8 boys have been rescued by the skilled and courageous dive team. And they’re going back in to finish the mission.

I don’t know about you but I really needed this rare good news. This week is gonna be another downer with the Supreme Court pageant tonight and Trumpy’s trip to Europe to browbeat and bully our allies and suck up to our adversary.

Back to Michael Safi in Mae Sai. My favorite detail in this morning’s story was this:

The boys who were rescued on Sunday were strong and safe but needed to undergo detailed medical checks, the interior minister, Anupong Paojinda, had said earlier on Monday.

“This morning they complained that they were hungry and they asked for khao pad krapow [basil chicken with rice].”

Who among us doesn’t like comfort food? Hell, who among us doesn’t like Thai food?

For instant updates, follow Michael Safi on twitter.

Repeat after me: Everything doesn’t suck.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – bang gang edition

OK people – ISO suits on – airlock open – let’s go!

92 year old woman woman accused of fatally shooting son over plans to put her in assisted living
WABC ^ | July 4, 2018

Posted on 7/4/2018, 11:29:48 AM by SMGFan

PHOENIX, Arizona — A 92-year-old woman is charged with murder after deputies say she fatally shot her own son because she thought he wanted to move her to an assisted living facility.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office says Anna Mae Blessing had lived with her 72-year-old son Thomas and his girlfriend at the girlfriend’s condo for the last six months.

Court records show she believed her son and his girlfriend were talking about putting her in the facility because she had become “difficult to deal with.”

According to detectives, Blessing hid two handguns in the pockets of her robe and confronted her son in his room Monday morning.

1 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:29:48 AM by SMGFan
The Freeperati are torn asunder on this one.
MORON LABE!
To: SMGFan

 

Oh the irony!

They’ll put granny in one. Its called a prison.

2 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:31:49 AM by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)

Somehow this has to be those damned libtards’ fault….
To: SMGFan

 

Just call it a late term abortion and let her go.

4 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:32:09 AM by gdzla (Tyrannis Seditio, Obsequium Deo)

To: lowbridge

 

218th trimester abortion. Nothing to see here. Move along

50 posted on 7/4/2018, 8:55:03 PM by outofsalt (If history teaches us anything, it’s that history rarely teaches us anything.)

To: lowbridge

 

The feminazi’s would just say this was a late term abortion, so it’s okay.

40 posted on 7/4/2018, 8:19:20 PM by MichaelCorleone (Jesus Christ is not a religion. He’s the Truth.)
TA DA !!
To: SMGFan
.
now she’s gonna end up in the gray bar assisted living facility …
.
5 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:32:19 AM by catnipman ((Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!))
To: catnipman

 

Actually the gray bar assisted living facility is probably better than most voluntary assisted living facilities. All paid for by your tax dollars.

8 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:34:43 AM by P-Marlowe (Freep mail me if you want to be on my Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar Ping List)

“Are there no ice floes?”
To: lowbridge

 

This can be a touchy time. If my mom offs me I guess I’m ok with it.

2 posted on 7/4/2018, 7:17:33 PM by The Toll

Nice to know.
.
And in the “understatement of the year” competition, we have:
To: lowbridge

 

She seems a little judgemental…

6 posted on 7/4/2018, 7:21:43 PM by bigbob (Trust Sessions. Trust the Plan.)

To: SMGFan

 

sounds like Sonny was correct…she definitely was difficult to deal with…

11 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:35:43 AM by Chickensoup (Leftists today are speaking as if they plan to commence to commit genocide against conservatives.)

To: SMGFan
Sad story all the way around.Somebody should’ve hid the guns.

27 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:51:51 AM by Drew68
.
YaThinkNickCage
.
To: SMGFan

 

She’s a feisty one.

38 posted on 7/4/2018, 12:08:36 PM by Old Yeller (Auto-correct has become my worst enema.)

Her son? Not so much.
“livius” offers prayers and hopes :
To: lowbridge

 

I think he should have put her in there about 20 years ago. She probably had Alzheimer’s, and often there’s an anger and paranoia problem that goes with that. Not always, but frequently enough.

Prayers for the family because it must be horrible for them.

4 posted on 7/4/2018, 7:18:38 PM by livius

And “azjoe” starts a pissing match :
To: livius

 

Or he could have taken care of his mother himself.

5 posted on 7/4/2018, 7:20:35 PM by Az Joe (I AM TRUMP!)

Shot her first, you mean?
To: Az Joe

 

“Or he could have taken care of his mother himself.”

Really easy to SAY…unless you have an elderly parent with dementia that you are taking care of 24/7!

13 posted on 7/4/2018, 7:30:53 PM by VikingMom (I may not know what the future holds but I know Who holds the future!)

To: Az Joe

 

Seriously? She was 92 and obviously crazy. It sounds like he tried to do his best. Cannot believe you are blaming him. HE’S DEAD.

66 posted on 7/4/2018, 10:27:44 PM by Hildy (The worst part of betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.)

AZ Joe ups the ante :
To: livius

 

Hey big asshole, you need to stop speaking out of your ass so much.

I know EXACTLY how it is you pos. She died 7 years ago June 29th at 91.

You’re lucky you aren’t right in front of me right now you GD pos!

72 posted on 7/4/2018, 11:49:39 PM by Az Joe(I AM TRUMP!)

.
Or what? You’d shoot him?
.
For all I know, you may very well BE Trump.
.
More victim-bashing after the thingy…
.

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‘Live faithfully, fight bravely, and die laughing.’

My ‘hood had been setting off fireworks for like two weeks straight. I raised Kick the first three years of her life across the alley from a crack house, so she was used to loud random bangs and yelling and the occasional 3 a.m. garbage-dump-recliner inferno. Not to mention the night somebody turned said crack house into a drive-thru with his Buick. It gave her an extravagant tolerance for noise. When she’s asleep you can set off a hundred M80s and she won’t even stir.

This was our first 4th in the new house, though, and it was intense.

Last year we were out of town visiting friends for the holiday; the two years before that we declined to keep her up late enough to see the fireworks. This time we crowded into the car and joined the throngs of people at the high school’s football stadium to watch them up close with her.

She was tired. She hadn’t napped. I was tired. I hadn’t napped. I was overheated and Mr. A knew he’d wind up carrying Kick most of the way home on his sore shoulders and neither one of us is crazy about sweaty, unruly crowds. We’d been in a sweaty, unruly crowd that morning at the local parade and were sunburnt. Everyone had been drinking since 9 a.m. so the stadium was rowdy.

The ‘hood’s Facebook groups had been muttering resentfully for several days, as they do before Halloween, about people from “outside our community” coming into “our” neighborhoods and watching “our” fireworks. As if your view is diminished by someone else watching the same thing. As if anyone owns the sky.

The people behind us were from the next town over, asked polite questions about if we did this every year and how long the display would last. Some kids were smoking weed on the stairs. I hadn’t brought enough water nor any cleverly concealed alcohol. Kick shared her animal crackers and she and the stranger behind us debated whether the one she picked out for him was a squirrel, a skunk, or a cat. A few rain drops fell and the tarps went over the field of unlit pyrotechnics.

When the police chief stepped forward with a microphone and said the words “severe weather,” everyone groaned. But then the tarps were lifted off, and a procedure we’ll just call HURRY UP SET THEM ALL OFF NOW BOB DO IT BEFORE IT PISSES DOWN began.

I saw a lot of tweets yesterday excoriating people for celebrating the 4th of July this year, when children are in cages and the courts seem hopeless and November feels too far away, when all legitimate outcomes for our words and work seem lost to us. I saw a lot of this:

And so the anthems play and the flags wave and the bottle rockets ascend and the M-80’s go off—and Fascism quietly enters in the side door while everyone is distracted by the spectacle.

This is the paradox Americans find ourselves in. Our essential liberties have never been more at risk, our national sovereignty never more tenuous, our elemental freedoms never more assailed—and yet the patriotic fervor at the top and in its flag-waving rank-and-file has never been greater.

Yes, the ship is going down quickly but the music is still playing to convince them all we’re still the Land of the Free, and they are dancing wildly into the abyss, waving flags.

I know why everybody felt that way but it’s just not possible, cats and kittens, to live without light. They made art in the trenches in France, carved shotgun shells and missile casings into vases and crosses and lamps. They celebrated Christmas at Bastogne.

Those in bondage sang songs of freedom. Bondage has never once been an argument against singing.

We hold our ideals up because of their defilement, not in spite of them. We hold our promises up not to distract from our deaths but to defy them. We celebrate what we should be, not what we are.

We celebrate all our birthdays, after all, at the beginning of that new year’s life, not the end.

When the local fireworks started, the crowd screamed like we’d just won the World, Stanley and America’s Cups all at once. Sousa marches blared from the speakers. And my tiny, angry, sweaty, exhausted kid turned her face to the sky. 

That morning we’d walked in the parade with a local Democratic group, carrying signs that said things like NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL and ROE V WADE IS THE LAW OF THE LAND and IMMIGRANTS MAKE AMERICA GREAT. Even in the white, wealthy parts of town, people waved and cheered.

Kick colored our sign, that read on one side ALL ARE WELCOME and on the other THERE ARE NO STRANGERS HERE. She helped me carry it. She eagerly collected candy and high-fives and dragged one of her baby-friends off the curb to march along with us.

It was our family’s fourth political action in the past two weeks. It was a two-mile route and it was hot and she was dog-tired.

But as the first explosions bathed her face in light, she lifted both hands over her head and shouted for joy.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Of Grifting, Lotion, & Ass Kissing

The almost comically corrupt Scott Pruitt was finally forced to resign by his fellow grifter, Donald Trump. Pruitt had hung on so long via a relentless campaign of flattery, brown-nosing, sucking up, and ass kissing. This president* is too stupid to realize when he’s being played. Besides, Pruitt was a fellow grifter so how could he fire him for being a crook? Grifters of a feather, flock together.

Pruitt’s resignation letter is a masterpiece of fulsome-n-obsequious praise:

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.

Did anyone else know that Jesus was big on despoiling the environment? Ya learn something new every day.

My favorite passage in the letter is where Scottie threw a pity party for himself and invited Trumpy to join in:

It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.

Unprecedented personal attacks? I guess they’re nicer to grifters in Oklahoma than they are in the mean old Washington swamp. There was nothing unprecedented about the attacks and Scottie exposed his family to ridicule by trying to grift jobs for them. Holy self-inflicted wounds, Batman.

The bad news is that Pruitt’s deputy is equally committed to environmental destruction. Andrew Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist who loathes big guvmint and thinks climate change is for the birds. Dead, oily birds. He’s a much slicker version of Scottie, which is bad news for us doom and gloom tree hugger types.

I will miss watching Scottie grift but I’m glad that he’ll have more time to spend with his Ritz Hotel lotion. Besides, we’ll still have Ryan Zinke and Wilbur Ross to kick around.

I  hope the taxpayers get a refund on Scottie’s cone of silence. Maxwell Smart and the Chief want it back. A used mattress from the Trump Hotel simply will not do.

Friday Catblogging: That Sinking Feeling

It’s (shower) curtains for young Paul Drake.

Destroyer

I already viewed the upcoming NATO summit with trepidation when we learned of Trump’s abusive letters to other allied leaders. He should regard them as colleagues but he’s beyond such niceties. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian.

There are innumerable alarming things about the Trump regime but one of the oddest is his attitude towards the European institutions that have kept the peace since the end of World War II: the EU and NATO. Many of Team Trump’s positions on issues such as taxes, abortion, SCOTUS, and the environment are boilerplate right-wing dogma, but their desire to cripple and/or destroy NATO is foreign to past Republican administrations. So is Trump’s position on trade but I’m not going there today. I don’t want a tariff slapped on me.

The Insult Comedian’s animus to international institutions seems based on personal quirks and a love of chaos and conflict. Why he loves chaos is beyond me but he does. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. There’s also the much darker possibility that he’s been compromised by the Russians. There’s no direct *publicly* available proof as of now but there’s lots of circumstantial evidence from which inferences can be drawn. Holy legalese, Batman. The mere fact that he insists on meeting Putin alone is suspicious in and of itself. Dollars to donuts that the only translator will be provided by the Russian side.

This president* regards America as a victim put upon by everyone else in the world. He’s obsessed with payback and vengeance even when there’s nothing to avenge. Hence the protection racket he’s trying to run against our allies. I guess he learned it from his pals in the Gambino family.

Europe is teetering on the edge. It’s gone to a dark place eerily reminiscent of the 1930’s. In Hungary and Poland, nationalist governments are tightening the political screws on their opponents. It’s particularly tragic in Poland. The Poles taught the world how to resist communist tyranny, now they’re taking to the streets to protest their government’s efforts to destroy the independence of the courts. I hope they can work their magic again.

US foreign policy under Trump has gone from prizing stability above all else to stirring the pot everywhere. The Bush-Cheney administration did their share of pot stirring in the Middle East but even they realized that the European status quo was preferable to the mess of the interwar years of 1919-1939.

As someone with more than a passing knowledge of European history, I am alarmed by Team Trump’s European shit stirring. The politics of grievance is the key element to Trumpism *and* European ethno-nationalism. Opening the lid on venerable European grievances will not end well. It’s why some compare Trump, not to Hitler, but to Serbian strong man, ethnic cleanser, and war criminal Slobodan Milosevic.

The intensely personal nature of Trump’s foreign policy is characteristic of authoritarian governments.  Policy, such as it is, is made on the fly and is based on presidential* whims and caprices. We learned recently that Trumpy wanted to invade Venezuela on a whim because he didn’t like their government. I wonder if Putin talked him out of it…

This idiot president* seems to take the business buzz word “disruption” way too seriously. As applied to foreign policy, it’s a synonym for destruction. Team Trump wants to take a wrecking ball to NATO, the EU, and the WTO without considering the implications. They don’t care what happens next as long as they get their way. It’s an infantile way to conduct foreign policy but it suits Donald Trump just fine. He’s unlikely to know the word but he’s a nihilist at heart.

Trump’s desire to burn down NATO is circumstantial evidence that he’s been compromised by the Russians. Putin’s policy is to destablize European institutions and Trump is either playing into his hands or following orders. In either case, he’s trying to destroy what it took 70 years to build. It’s ironic that a man who fancies himself a builder in his business life, is strictly a destroyer in his political life.

One of my mottos as a blogger is that there’s a Ray Davies song for every occasion. That’s why the Kinks get the last word:

Paranoia, the destroyer.

The Cheeto Dust Was Thick Enough To About Kill A Man

second_civil_war_500

Apologies if you’ve already seen it, but if not…Alex Jones’s most recent desperate attempt to incite his brain dead listeners was an assertion that libruls and Democrats were planning a second Civil War, starting…yesterday.

Well…between the local heat and humidity, plus personal business keeping me super busy, sigh, I was forced to opt out, along with the rest of the cohort…that said, a number… a very large number…took to Twitter to give Jones and his minions a fair share of well deserved scorn and derision.

I think this one was my favorite.

general_ted_nugent

Pulp Fiction Thursday: If Wishes Were Hearses

What’s not to love about this book title? In a word: nothing.

Hey Baby, It’s The Fourth Of July

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

It’s time for my 9th annual Fourth of July post. It seems like a good day to suggest that people take a mental health day away from political news. There’s so much going on that we all need to take a break to avoid burnout. In the intense days right after Katrina and the Federal Flood. I saw people lose their shit because they were so focused on dealing with the disaster. So, do whatever floats your boat today and put the news on hold. It will still be there tomorrow. You can’t resist, if you’re burned out.

I usually post Dave Alvin, the Dead, and Bruce Springsteen but Neil Young joined the Americana fray last year with a video celebrating the resistance.

Happy Birthday ‘Merica.

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week. It needed a mental health day too.

Where They Cross, The Place is Holy

Civility, restaurants, and what we expect in society: 

“You’ve been paying about 50 bucks a night to stay in a D.C. condo that’s connected to an energy lobbying firm, while approving their dirty sands pipeline,” Mink continues, reading from notes. “We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously, for the benefit of all of us, including our children.”

Mink concluded: “So, I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.”

The video does not show Pruitt getting up and leaving the restaurant, but according to Mink, Pruitt and his two security guards left the restaurant before she returned to her seat.

At a certain level, they expect it to not matter to other people.

Kristjen Nielsen expects it to not matter that she’s advocating putting children in cages.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders expects it to not matter that she stands up at a podium every day and lies to the American people in service to Donald Trump.

Scott Pruitt expects it not to matter that he’s wasting money and rescinding regulations and helping corporations pollute the water and the air.

Mitch McConnell expects it not to matter that he’s abdicated all Congressional oversight and stole a Supreme Court seat.

And your MAGA-troid relatives expect it to not matter to you that the red hat they’re wearing and the Confederate flag they’re defending and the policies they’re voting for expose how much contempt they have for you.

They expect it to not matter enough to upset their dinner plans. Their coffee breaks. Their working weeks and Sunday rests. They expect you to subjugate your humanity to their — not even comfort, to their convenience. They’re shocked when you don’t. When you won’t. When who you are and how you live matters more than the poor sick human instinct to avoid conflict.

They accused everyone who didn’t want any of this of living in a bubble, as if they weren’t in one themselves, these people who expect to break their daily bread undisturbed by disagreement. As if that’s how anything works.

It’s the most fundamental thing about them, the entire MAGA tribe, even more so than the racism: the avoidance of the new, the different, the advancing of time and changing of the world. Someone on Twitter the other day made this joke:

Which is funny, but is also about time stopping.

These are people — within the administration, and supporting it — for whom time has in a real way stopped in the late 1980s. It’s why they’re obsessed with “black on black” crime and imagine cities as hellholes and rant about people needing to pull up their pants. It’s why the culture war is the only war they care about: They don’t want to hear any new music. They don’t want to learn the names of any new actresses. They’re on Facebook bitching about hip-hop music coming from cars at night.

On some level they know the world’s going on without them and instead of engaging with it, instead of learning who that person is who all the kids are talking about, instead of just shutting the everloving fuck UP about what’s new that they hate, they expect us to build a wall around them.

Around “our” country.

Around our nice restaurants and our Sunday shows and our status quo editorials that never use naughty words. They can’t imagine anything big enough, anything that MATTERS enough, to shove them out of their comfort zone, so they get rage-roided when they see that something’s pushed us out.

They expect it not to matter that people are dying, that irreplaceable natural resources are being destroyed, that we fear for our families and our kids, that we can’t live our lives without their interference, and they expect their preferences to be as respected as our lives.

They call it uncivil when they can’t order a cheese plate in peace, when they can’t remain walled up in their own minds at a time when they felt powerful, as if that’s how anything on earth has ever stayed.

A.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor Candidates

Gimme your people nobody’s paying any attention to right now who deserve more attention, lest they shock the New York Times and actually, you know, get elected to represent their districts/people.

Jude will start, with Arvina Martin, who’s running to become Wisconsin’s first Native American Secretary of State.  

You can donate to her here.

Post yours in the comments and peruse, those of you with means, so as to give your dollars to races not already swimming in money.

A.