Monthly Archives: August 2018

Everybody Plays The Fool: My Senator Tweets

Gret Stet Senator John Neely Kennedy continues his tiresome fake idiot/cheapskate routine:

This is, of course, genuine political imbecility. This could cost the Republicans several GOP-held House seats in Virginia and Maryland. The RNC is already considering cutting Virginia’s Barbara Comstock, who objects to this move, loose. Thanks, Donald.

I wonder if Neely will quote George Wallace next and refer to federal employees as pointy-headed bureaucrats who can’t park their bicycles straight.

Neely remains a political mystery. He’s an intelligent, well-educated man who persists in acting like a village idiot. As the old soul song goes, everybody plays the fool:

 

 

Friday Catblogging: Eye Rock Star

Paul Drake is the king of eye crud. We clean the corners of his eyes at least thrice daily. That’s why we call him an Eye Rock Star:

The picture was taken by Dr. A and she suggested the title as well. Thanks, babe.

The Byrds get the last word:

 

First Draft Potpourri: Of Violence, Wise Guys & Peckerwoods

I have a dream that some day soon we will have a normal news cycle. Every time I step away from the computer and/or iPhone to focus on personal and/or local news, all hell breaks loose. (It also makes me type and/or twice in one sentence, which is lazy writing.) But that’s life in the Trump era where even a news junkie like me craves a respite of dullness from the dullards running the government.

That was a long-winded of way of introducing a potpourri post. It’s the only way I can keep up with the news of day since, unlike some other bloggers, I decline to do so on the tweeter tube. Truman Capote once said of Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” When I see a 20 part thread, my response is: That’s not writing, that’s tweeting. It’s fine for short bursts but I prefer writing to typing and/or tweeting. Uh oh, another and/or. Next thing I’ll want to fire Bruce Ohr and/or someone else…

Violence: The Insult Comedian loves scaring the shit out of people. He did it the other night during an event with evangelical supporters. Trumpy claimed that violence will ensue if Democrats win the midterms. He’s projecting once again: his supporters are the ones apt to riot. Hell, Rudy’s already promised that as a response to attempts to remove the president* from office. Bullshit: most Trumpers can barely get off the couch to find the remote. Besides they only watch Fox News so why get up at all?

Speaking of Violence,  it’s time for a good old-fashioned punch-up, glam rock style. No guns allowed, just fists.

Unfortunately Trumpberius and company are apt to agree with Ian Hunter’s lyrics:

Violence, violence, it’s the only thing that’ll make you see sense.

Back to the couch and stay there, motherfuckers. It’s time for Michael F’s image from earlier this morning to play a repeat performance:

Life Imitates Billy Bathgate: Very little scares a white-collar criminal more than hearing that their accountant has made a deal with Federal prosecutors. And (but not or) Allen Weisselberg is not just a bookkeeper, he’s the Trump Organization’s CFO. He also happens to be one of the people running the company while the boss is ruining the country.

At first I wondered if Weisselberg would be the token Trump loyalist instead of a snitch and/or rat; there I go again with the and/ors. Then I read this:

Last month, the New York State Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, sued the Trump Foundation. Weisselberg had been deposed and showed a surprising willingness to give answers that put the President in an unflattering light. In January, 2016, during Trump’s Presidential campaign, his foundation made a series of donations to veterans-advocacy organizations in Iowa that were explicitly designed to gain support for his candidacy. Weisselberg filled out the checks. In his deposition, he volunteered that the Trump Foundation had no procedures in place to insure it followed the law and that Trump himself knew of and directed Weisselberg’s participation in the scheme to pay those Iowa veterans groups. Were Weisselberg eager to protect his longtime boss, he could have answered the questions far more narrowly. It was an early hint that Weisselberg, like Cohen, may not jeopardize his own freedom to defend Trump. News that Weisselberg had accepted immunity so that he could share potentially damaging information in the Cohen case provides more support for the view that Weisselberg is ready to share whatever information he has. And he has a lot.

It increasingly appears that Trump’s downfall will be his sleazy business tactics. Holy money laundering, Batman. Allen Weisselberg knows more than the Fixer or the Pecker notwithstanding the latter’s cache of Trump dirt. Why do you think the president* has been melting down even by his own standards?

You’re probably wondering why I titled this segment Life Imitates Billy Bathgate. Here’s why: EL Docotorow’s novel is based on the life and times of Dutch Schultz nee Arthur Flegenheimer. (I’d change my name too if it was Flegenheimer. Who wants a name that sounds like phlegm?) Dutch’s numbers wizard was a guy named Otto Berman who everybody called Abbadabba. Tom Dewey’s “racket busters” considered him the linchpin to unraveling Shultz’s rackets but Lucky Luciano whacked Abbadabba before prosecutors could flip him. End of arcane mob history lesson.

In Billy Bathgate, Abbadabba Berman was the most interesting character. He mentored the title character and protected him from Flegenheimer’s unphlegmatic wrath. The movie version was not as good as the book but the cast was excellent: Dustin Hoffman played Schultz, and Steven Hill played Abbadabba. Ironies abound as Steven Hill also played the Manhattan DA in Law & Order who shares a name with one of Trump’s pursuers, Adam Schiff. I am not making this up. I even posted about the Adams when the Kaiser of Chaos was a mere birther.

In the Trump Organization’s saga, Allen Weisselberg is Abbadabba Berman. And an Abbadabba trumps a Fixer or a Pecker any day.

It was harder than hell to find pictures of either numbers wizard. I skipped the picture of Abbadabba after he was whacked. Abbadabba-doo. You knew that was coming, right?

That concludes the wise guy part of the post, let’s move on to the peckerwoods.

The Senate Building Flap: It hasn’t been a great week for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. His deal with Chinless Mitch to let his members go home and campaign has been roundly criticized.  But he did put some points on the board when he suggested that the Richard Russell Senate office building be renamed for John McCain.

The name change should have been easy: Russell, one of the most powerful Senators of his time, was an avowed racist and white supremacist. Unlike some of his fellow Southerners, Russell never became reconciled to Civil Rights. He was a Lost Causer til the bitter end.

It appeared that the name change would sail through until some Southern GOPers expressed concerns about it. The Turtle punted it to a “bipartisan gang.” It’s unclear if members of the Russian mafia and/or La Cosa Nostra will have any input. It’s a pity that the Fixer flipped because he’d know how to set it up…

Think about it: Southern Republicans were afraid of removing the name of a Southern Democrat from a building. They’re obviously scared of alienating their white nationalist base and/or the Racist-in-Chief. They’ve lost Pecker, so they can’t afford to lose the peckerwoods.

So much for all those GOPers who have bashed reformed segregationists like Robert Byrd, Russell Long and, yes. even Richard Russell’s protegé, Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ didn’t really “threaten” Russell. He presented him with a fait accompli that obliged him to serve on the Warren Commission.

It’s time for me to stop stirring the potpourri and writing and/ors. The last word goes to Randy Newman. Some Southern Republicans are still rednecks and/or peckerwoods who “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.”

Not That Anyone Needs Reminding…

trump_couch_potato_700

…but, the midterms are pretty much about him. This guy. CPOTUS. Couch Potato in Chief (via)

Cable television news hosts and commentators are among the first voices that Trump hears in the morning and the last he listens to at night. Now he is increasingly relying on those voices in making decisions — often running afoul of his actual advisers in the process.

Stuart P. Stevens, a Republican political consultant and writer who was Mitt Romney’s senior strategist in the 2012 presidential election campaign, decried Trump’s reliance on the “insane feedback loop of Fox.”

“Here’s a guy who has access to the most sophisticated intelligence ever available, that cost billions to produce, that people have died for,” Stevens said. “And he’s relying for his information on something you can buy for like $2.98 a month with your cable subscription.”

One major risk for Trump is bad information — as illustrated in the recent flaps over South Africa and Google.

To be honest, part of me thinks this might be the best, or at least least worst, situation given the circumstances, i.e., Trump doesn’t do much more than flop down on his fat ass and watch TV. That’s probably a bit better than, I dunno, Trump getting up off his fat ass and doing pretty much anything. Also a good bit better than…President Pence.

But to ensure he doesn’t do much more than sit/lie on the couch and watch the box, it’s essential to send a strong message. A message that says no, we don’t like your policies, your attitude, that you managed to back door your way into the office…and we don’t much like you, period. Otherwise, the next two–or, god help us, six–years will be a good bit worse than the last two.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Edgar Wallace

Edgar Wallace was a prolific English writer who is best known as one of the screenwriters of the original King Kong, He could also be dubbed one of the founders of pulp fiction.

The Spirit Of ’05

Root Beer Blues. Photograph by Dr. A.

I hate to go Dickensian on your asses but the period after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood was indeed the best of times and the worst of times. My Katrina experience was nothing compared to many people but it has stayed with me in a way that few life experiences have.

Each Katrinaversary gets a bit less painful. Today almost feels like an ordinary Wednesday but I still have the survivor’s guilt I wrote about last year when parts of New Orleans flooded on my birthday:

It’s a common malady for those of us who live in what has come to be known as “the sliver by the river.” We did not flood in 2005, so I do not like arguing with those who did. It makes me uncomfortable and uncharacteristically deferential. In the year immediately after the storm, I  cringed every time I had to tell *our* Katrina story to those worse off since we were so lucky. We did have $20K worth of damage and were in exile for 7 weeks but that was nothing compared to what so many others went through. Hence my survivor’s guilt and this weekend’s survivor’s guilt flashback. I re-posted my account of Dr. A and my sneaking into the city at First Draft in 2015. Here’s the link.

As bad as that period was for all concerned, there was an esprit de corps that I miss. Everyone was in the same leaky boat so we helped one another out. Spontaneous and random acts of kindness were commonplace. I recall a day when we helped our neighbors duct tape their dead refrigerators and drag them to the curb. It was dirty, stinky work but it felt good to help.

Cajun Tomb. Photograph by Dr. A.

The Spirit of ’05 endured for several years, which looking back is remarkable. It could not last forever but those were heady days. I wish we could recapture the camaraderie but crisis brings out both the best and worst in people. And when the crisis ends, everything changes.  I met many people after the storm, made some enduring friendships and others that were more fleeting. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, it has made me who I am in 2018.

The lasting impact of the storm on my life is that I started blogging. I never expected to still be at it thirteen years after the day that everything changed, but here I am. I landed at First Draft because of Scout Prime who not only wrote about her experiences helping in New Orleans after the storm, but came up with the idea for the Rising Tide conference. My friendships with Scout and Athenae are two that have endured over the years. Thanks for letting me tell jokes here, y’all.

Speaking of enduring friendships, here’s an apt tweet from my dear friend Julie:

In past years, the blog has stayed dark for the entire Katrinaversary thereby allowing this solemn image to dominate:

I decided it was time for a change. I also wanted to mention my empathy for the people of Puerto Rico where  2,975 American citizens died as a result of Hurricane Maria. It’s what happens when you have bad leadership: in our case it was the Bush-Cheney gang, with Maria it’s the Trump-Pence regime; both of whom lost the popular vote, then lost the thread when it came to hurricane relief. It’s what happens when you give power to people who hate government. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

The Spirit of ’05 is a touchstone for all that’s good about human nature. It’s still lurking in a city that has changed radically since the storm and its aftermath. Here’s how I put it in a post five days before the 10th Katrinaversary:

After the water receded, there was a second inundation of people flooding into the city. Some were do-gooders, some were hipsters seeking the next trend, still others were here to make a buck. Very few of them understood the essence of New Orleans and what makes the city and its inhabitants tick. Many of them, especially on social media, have come up with an orthodoxy of what it means to be a New Orleanian. That has come to be known as copping a NOLAier than thou attitude, a swell phrase that was coined by Karen Dalton Beninato.  Some of the NOLAier than thou set seem to have spent way too much time watching Treme. Instead of a Cabaret, life is apparently a second line, old chum.

On the 13th anniversary, we continue to struggle with what happened that August day. There’s still a special feeling among those of who went through it together. If only we could fully recapture the Spirit of ’05.

The last word goes to Peter Gabriel with a song that’s been on my mind and in my head thirteen times over:

‘Anti-police groups’

There is no court of public opinion, rude things being said to you is not persecution, being demoted or reassigned for screwing something up at your job is not being victimized, take several seats lady: 

The Washington Post reports that Betty Jo Shelby, a police officer who in 2016 shot and killed an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is now teaching a course on how to deal with what she describes as “when a police officer is victimized by anti-police groups and tried in the court of public opinion.”

Nothing happened to you. And they weren’t “anti-police” groups, they were anti-you groups because you suck as a cop and as a human. Your response to this incident is to wrap your mistake around you and suck comfort from the nipples of the right-wing ghouls who tell you you don’t have to examine a single thing, you don’t have to question, you can shove those uncomfortable was-I-wrong feelings right down into the lockbox where you keep your humanity (and, apparently, your impulse control and use of force training).

You can feel good about yourself because you can convince yourself you went through something important and meaningful! You weren’t the attacker, you were the attacked, and now you have something to grift teach as you make your way in the world carrying the weight of the man you killed.

Still heavy, though, no matter what you do.

A.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Will Reinvent for the Digital Unknown Future Market Conditions Via Online!

What a load of horseshit: 

“It’s the year 2018, and with the way people review and expect to review information and news, we think we’re doing the right thing,” said Keith Wilkowski, vice president of legal and government affairs for Block Communications Inc., the company based in Toledo, Ohio, that owns the Post-Gazette, on June 27.

“We will be publishing a (digital) newspaper seven days a week,” Wilkowski added. “And, frankly, we reach more people via online than through the print publication.”

It’s the year 2018, and we’ve spent three decades devaluing the print product to make a short-term profit. We reach more people ‘via online’ because we did that on purpose. You don’t need union drivers to deliver ‘the online’ and we can pay journalists peanuts anyway, we always have. 

There, fixed that corporatespeak buzzword-salad for you. WE REACH MORE PEOPLE VIA ONLINE, says the professional word person who works with words, while chiding his customers for not getting with the newfangled internet in the year 2018. Via online. For fucking fuck’s sake.

You reach more RICH people “via online,” is what this human conference call is trying to say. You reach more people who can afford to get their news “via online,” and the people who would have spent 50 cents on your paper or picked it up off your porch, well, fuck ’em, basically.

The reason this line keeps working, though is that reporters, who should be asking hard questions of ambulatory audits like Wilkowski, keep letting him and other corporate raiders lay the blame at the internet’s door:

The print side of newspapers has continued struggling to stay afloat as free and more convenient digital options are readily available for consumers.

This is presented as a fact and intended to imply causation, when in truth “the print side of newspapers has continued struggling to stay afloat as hedge fund owners load papers up with debt and then justify their existence with layoffs and nobody saved anything from the early 2000s when profit margins were 17 percent or more.” I get that’s longer, but this is a story that is “via online” and therefore there is no word count limit, get it right.

The actual story the Post-Gazette is running to celebrate its chickenfucking is even worse than that Hill piece up above. I mean:

By eliminating two days of print the week of Aug. 26 and undertaking a full-throttle commitment to the digital delivery of news, the Post-Gazette is reflecting Pittsburgh’s own transformation from traditional manufacturing into a high-tech center — even as the PG acknowledges that its future, like that of other legacy news organizations, must become untethered from the delivery mechanisms of the past if it is to survive in the digital future.

Can you un-tether yourself from run-on sentences? Jesus, did no one teach this newspaperman how to write for a newspaper? And “its future must become untethered if it’s to survive the future?” I’ve watched time-travel episodes of basic cable sci-fi that made more fucking sense.

I would pay $100 in cash to the journalist who got this guy to explain what he thinks the “digital future” even IS.

“Why are we doing this?” Mr. Block asked. ‘’Print is going away. If you project even five years into the future you cannot imagine there’s a print business that will be vibrant nationally or internationally. We have to acknowledge what is happening. It’s time to put our great digital players fully into the game.’’

The death of the New York Times has been predicted every single year since I was in college and I was in college 22 years ago. Five years from now everybody in the Post offices call up this guy and wish him a happy anniversary of the dumbest prediction ever.

And why were your “great digital players” sitting on your goddamn bench til now? Were the distro guys too busy delivering the paper to update the website? I’m confused as to how this was supposed to work. None of these idiots can ever explain why it’s impossible to have a great newspaper and a great digital news operation within the same company. None of them.

Print is not “going away.” It’s being driven off in favor of cheaper options. You do you, Mr. Owner-Man, but don’t pretend it’s anything else. Throughout the piece it’s blindingly clear this guy and his lickspittles have no fucking clue at all:

He added that the PG’s digital roadmap is not set in concrete but “will be adjusted according to competitive and market conditions.’’

Never set any kind of roadmap in concrete, first of all. Second, if you have no idea how to do this, why are you doing it? Why not make a plan, instead of endlessly flapping about in response to “market conditions?” Why not decide what you’re going to do and do it? Like, before you yell at the top of your lungs that you have no clue.

“We’re going to give this business the best college try,’’ said Mr. Block. “What we are doing is re-inventing the PG for the future.’’

You just admitted you don’t know what the future is. How can you reinvent the PG for a future you can’t define?

But hey, you’re going to give it a whack! Take 200-plus years of brand loyalty and market identity, go to Vegas, and put it all on black. Great idea. That’s never, in history, for anybody, gone wrong.

Then again, this is via online. It could reinvent for the future!

A.

Waiting For Mount Trumpberius To Erupt

Trumpberius meets Tiberius.

I don’t know about you but I expect the Insult Comedian to spew bile about the passing of John McCain any time now. You know he wants to. Thus far, he’s been quietly vindictive but given his lack of impulse control it cannot last.

I’m not sure if Mount Trumpberius will erupt soon OR when McCain’s funeral week hits Washington. If that’s the case, Trump have to bite his tongue until it bleeds.  We all know he wants to fire off nasty tweets and, unless, they take his phone away from him, it will happen. Believe me.

Politics is *always* about conflict. There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s the nature of the beast.

Political mourning is a different matter altogether. It’s when a asterisk-free president should put aside partisan differences and show magnanimity. But Trump is a small and petty man who holds grudges over small and petty things. He’s been known to publicly mock McCain’s thumbs down vote on ACA repeal. Who is he now? Siskel and Ebert? Well, they’re dead too, Donald.

The person who really should get a thumbs down is Trumpberius himself:

Speaking of volcanoes, The Band gets the last word. I have a whole lava love for this song:

Neil Simon, R.I.P.

One bad thing about aging is that your cultural heroes start dropping like flies. It’s happened again: one of my comedic heroes, Neil Simon, has died at the age of 91.  Simon has been making me laugh since I was 10 years old and that’s the straight poop, not hyperbole.

The Odd Couple was the first grown-up movie I remember seeing on the big screen. My mother took me and I laughed til my tummy hurt. I recall asking Mom if it was better to be a Felix or an Oscar. She paused to think before saying something like: “They both have good and bad qualities so it’s better to be a bit like both of them.”

I pondered this for a moment and asked “Is it like ordering Chinese food? You know one from column A and one from column B?”

“Something like that,” she said with a chuckle.

I told her I liked Oscar better and she said, “I know. I’ve seen your room.”

It was our very own Neil Simon scene.

Simon wrote some remarkable plays and movies including The Sunshine Boys, The Heartbreak Kid, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, The Goodbye Girl, and the autobiographical “Eugene Trilogy” of Brighton Beach Memories, Biloxi Blues, and Broadway Bound. But Simon didn’t get the critical respect he deserved until his work took a more serious turn with the Pulitzer prize winning play, Lost In Yonkers. Critics often do not understand how hard it is to be funny.  And nobody was funnier than Neil Simon.

One of my favorite Simon moments came from The Odd Couple in a scene where Oscar let Felix have it:

“You leave me little notes! ‘We are out of corn flakes. F.U.’ It took me 15 minutes to figure out ‘F.U.’ stood for Felix Unger!”

Funny deserves more respect. Repeat after me: nobody was funnier than Neil Simon.

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – “do not collect $200” edition

Morning, everyone!

I’ll bet you’ve been waiting for days to see the Freeperati melt down over The Darnold’s Very Bad Day?

Wait no longer.

Manafort jury has reached a verdict on 8 of 18 counts
MSN News ^ | August 21, 2018 | MATTHEW BARAKAT, CHAD DAY and ERIC TUCKER

Posted on 8/21/2018, 3:37:40 PM by detective

Jury in Paul Manafort financial fraud trial says it’s reached a verdict on 8 counts, but remains undecided on 10 others.

The jury in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort suggested to the judge Tuesday that it was stuck on at least one count in the case.

Jurors asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III on their fourth day of deliberations how they should fill out the verdict form if they were unable to reach consensus on a single count, though they did not suggest what charge was at issue. The jury of six men and six women also said it would need a new verdict form.

1 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:37:40 PM by detective
To: rdl6989

“Guilty on 8.”

Will that require one presidential Pardon or 8 Presidential Pardons?

8 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:41:57 PM by Blue House Sue

How about none?
Does none work for you?
To: Repeal 16-17

This is still in no way a “vindication” of the Mueller witch hunt.

12 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:42:37 PM by henkster (Monsters from the Id.)

You fonny boy.
To: Repeal 16-17

Ok now declared hung jury on the 10.

14 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:43:12 PM by Williams (Stop tolerating the intolerant.)

To: detective

Manafort helped elect Trump, the left is out for blood.

25 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:47:53 PM by stockpirate (TYRANNY IS THY NAME REBELLION IS OUR ANSWER. HANG THEM ALL!)

To: detective

Bastards.

Obama and Hillary sell uranium to our enemies and nothin is done.

Manafort is lazy in doing his tax returns and they send him to the slammer.

Please pardon this great patriot Mr President ! This is a politically(sic) witch hunt and we all know it

28 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:49:06 PM by WashingtonFire (President Trump – it’s like having your dad as President)

OtherwiseOK1
To: tennmountainman

All this does is point out the obvious double standard that exists in our “justice” system.

… and OUR side is in charge!

Imagine that.

I’d like to know why:

Trump isn’t firing Sessions.
And Sessions isn’t firing Rosenweasel
And Rosenweasel isn’t firing the seditious bastards in the FBI
and NONE of them are shutting down Mueller’s years-long witch hunt in an investigation WITHOUT A CRIME.

We’re IN CHARGE and the system is STILL allowed to carry on with all of its business-as-usual corruption! That’s what gets under my skin. I keep waiting for SOMEONE or SOMETHING to clean it out and it just doesn’t seem to happen. It’s always “oh, well… wait for THIS report” or “THAT report” or “Wait until after the election!” -— then it will be “Wait until after the Holidays!” then it will be “Wait until the new Congress is seated!” then a thousand other things – with “WAIT” being the key word in each one.

Come on, President Trump – DO SOMETHING.

/rant

29 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:51:05 PM by Pravious

US tycoon Donald Trump plays a stroke as
To: detective
None of these charges have anything to do with Trump.

Well then, he has nothing to worry about, does he?

Yet by rooting for Manafort to be judged not guilty, folks here are basically making it about Trump. They are playing right into the hands of the Trump haters.

30 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:51:43 PM by SamAdams76 ( If you are offended by what I have to say here then you can blame your parents for raising a wuss)

OtherwiseOK2
To: CJ Wolf

Yep, didn’t help my confidence in his innocence when he went that route.

While it does bother me that Clinton and company haven’t been taken to task, I’m not convinced Manafort wasn’t guilty here.

If he evaded taxes and got caught, Trump shouldn’t pardon him.

31 posted on 8/21/2018, 3:51:55 PM by DoughtyOne (01/26/18 DJIA 30 stocks $26,616.71 48.794% > open 11/07/16 215.71 from 50% increase 1.2183 yrs)

Blasphemer3
It gets better (or worse, depending on your POV) below, so you know what to do.

Continue reading

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Sunday Catblogging

These two psychotic dingos are my favorites. Seriously, at least ten times a day I pick up Slade all WHO’S THE BEST BABY KITTY BABY?!!!! like a lunatic and rub my face in his fur while he purrs like he swallowed a motorcycle. Ada likes to sleep on my feet when I’m working from home and she’ll come up and take my phone out of my hands, as in pull on it with her kitten teeth until I put it down and pet her.

We left them overnight recently (horror) and these were the faces we were greeted with when we got back:

I think Kick gets jealous sometimes because we spend so much time uncritically loving on them but listen, kid, they don’t refuse to eat the dinner I make for them so TAKE SOME NOTES.

A.

A Full-Time Job

My grandma was healthy as a horse until age 86. Never had a cold. Never had the flu (never got a flu shot either). Used to make fun of us when we had headaches. She had three kids and did laundry by hand and was absolutely indestructible, health-wise. Until she wasn’t.

I think the first thing was the compression fractures in her back. It might have been the appendicitis. There was a tumor biopsy in there somewhere, too. By the time the dementia kicked in, with its attendant falls and forgettings, she’d been in and out of hospitals more in one year than in all the previous years of her life.

My mother, her caregiver, made doctor’s appointments and drove her there. She argued with physicians and fought with insurance companies and spent the vast majority of her time trying to untangle what happens when Medicare and insurance and public and private funding all collide with the urgent need to find a spot in a nursing home that isn’t an infested hellmouth in the next 24 hours.

That’s how it happens, if you get lucky, blessed with bulletproof genes and the type of orneriness only found in people who survived a Depression and a World War. If you never get sick, you get sick suddenly and all at once, and you find yourself faced with a goddamn horror-movie-level hedge maze.

My mom asked me once on the phone, relating some completely ridiculous process she’d had to fight through in order to get some laughably basic procedure. “What do people do who don’t have someone to make all these calls for them and go through all this?”

They die. Maybe not directly, maybe not right away, but eventually if they don’t get the test or see the doctor or believe what they’re told the first time instead of asking for a second opinion, they live in pain they don’t have to live in, and they die sooner than they have to.

I once spent an entire bus ride furiously tweeting at my insurance company because they’d denied me a medication my doctor said I needed. A supplemental insurance company didn’t supply them with a number, and the supplemental needed the doctor to approve it, which led to a psychotic game of telephone being played on the 91 bus between me, two insurers, and a doctor’s office that closed in 10 minutes. Hence the tweet-yelling.

What do people do, that can’t or don’t know how to harass their corporate carriers into getting a customer service rep on the line?

I used to work hourly, which meant any time I took off work to go to a doctor (hours 9-5 ONLY, except the one day they benevolently stay open til 6 and that day’s booked through 2047) or I needed to make follow-up calls that could lead to being on hold for 30 minutes or I had some bizarre fasting requirements or had to drink noxious medications, I didn’t get paid for that time.

What do people do, that can’t afford to take that time?

They die, too. Even if they have insurance and doctors. If they don’t have sick time, or child care (I took my kid to pelvic exams a couple of times, so fun), or people they can call on to help out, or if they have dependents they can’t leave, they die, too, sooner than they have to or in more pain than they need to suffer.

This isn’t surprising: 

This approach leads to patients having to attend endless appointments with different specialists and being placed on a cocktail of different drugs.

One of the researchers, Dr Lynne Corner, said: “It is a full-time job being a patient.

“You can have five different appointments, on five different days with five different teams. That’s hard for patients and hard for their families.”

The story’s about the NHS, but almost everyone I know with any kind of chronic condition, treatable or no, has the same type of story. I have a friend who carries a binder with her when she goes to the hospital: tabs for various specialists, tabs for medications, etc. because none of these people can talk to each other, and they all rely on the patient being with-it enough to keep track of all this crap.

Which, when you’re sick, or you’re old, or you’re poor, or you’re distracted, is a hard damn thing to do. People think we need a system for when your health goes wrong, and we do. But we also need one for when your health isn’t that bad and you just need to get better, a system that doesn’t involve you having to learn Excel at the age of 90 just to manage your meds.

A.

McCain & Vietnam

I went back to this story about the normalizing of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam last night hearing about McCain’s death, thinking that though we’re now pretending the Vietnam War never happened, it might be his (and Kerry’s) most significant accomplishment as lawmakers: 

In January, 1994, a Kerry-McCain-sponsored Senate resolution urged the President to lift the embargo. A few veterans mobilized in opposition, drawing the support of the American Legion and the Republican leadership. McCain’s sponsorship persuaded twenty Republicans to vote for the measure, which passed by a vote of sixty-two to thirty-eight. McCain said, “The vote will give the President the kind of political cover he needs to lift the embargo.” The fact is, however, that the President’s real cover was coming from Kerry and McCain. The one had come to represent the United States government’s long-overdue determination to tell the truth about Vietnam; the other was the military hero become a figure of healing. Together, their credibility on the question was absolute.

On February 4, 1994, a Times headline read “clinton drops 19-year trade embargo on vietnam.”

A.

John McCain, R.I.P.

I rarely agreed with John McCain but I couldn’t help liking him as a human being. Despite viewing politics as a contact sport, he rarely hit below the belt and when he did he regretted it. He was a proud, profane, funny, and kind man. We need more kindness in the world, which is one reason he will be missed. We also need more politicians who can laugh at the absurdity of what they do and say.

Senator McCain died today at 81; nine years to the date that we lost his fellow lion of the Senate Ted Kennedy. Both men died of brain cancer. It’s an eerie coincidence but an appropriate one. McCain had many friends on the Democratic side of the aisle in addition to Ted Kennedy. McCain and John Kerry worked together to heal the wounds of the Vietnam War in the 1990’s.  McCain and Joe Biden had a strong bond based on love of family and country.

I criticized John McCain many times over the years and I won’t take any of it back. But, dammit, I liked the man despite his right wing views on most issues.

Three things to remember about John McCain:

  1. He was the victim of one of the worst smears in American political history when Team Bush played the race card against him in 2000. Not only did they play the race card but they dealt it from the bottom of the deck as it involved his family. By all accounts, McCain forgave but never forgot this. I have done neither.
  2. He consistently opposed torture even when a president of his own party backed it.
  3. He voted against repealing the ACA and stood up for proper Senate procedures when his own party turned the “world’s greatest deliberative body” into a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell and a president of his own party.

Whatever his flaws, John McCain was never dull. He made his share of mistakes and owned up to many of them, usually with a quip and a smile. Most importantly,  he was not a hater.

I saw a three tweet thread by an Obama speechwriter that beautifully captured the spirit of Senator McCain:

I might have been able to make Senator McCain laugh by suggesting this as his epitaph:

John McCain was NOT AN ASSHOLE.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Icy Blue Heart

The Mediterranean Coast by Henri-Edmond Cross.

It’s hot as hell in New Orleans. Anyone surprised? I’m certainly not.

The big local story remains the mess at the Sewerage & Water Board.  The temporary head of the agency tried to give two employees raises but they were all forced out instead. Score one for Mayor Cantrell. She finally put some points on the board amidst an early rebellion by the City Council.

The SWB billing melodrama continues. One of the people caught up in that clusterfuck is my old friend Karen Gadbois who wrote about it in the online publication she co-founded, The Lens. Check it out. You may need to check your blood pressure after reading it.

The SWB saga poses the eternal question: where have you gone Ed Norton?

That concludes this impromptu edition of Album Cover Art Saturday. Time to go down the sewer with Norton:

This week’s theme song was written by John Hiatt for his classic 1988 album Slow Turning. Icy Blue Heart is one of the best “tears in your beer” weepers of all-time. We have John’s original followed by a cover by the sublime Emmylou Harris with Bonnie Raitt on backing vocals. The Bonster is pretty awesome too.

The opening lines of that song get me every time:

She came on to him like a slow moving cold front.

His beer was warmer than the look in her eyes.

Now that we’ve wept bitter tears, it’s time to dry off and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Malaka Of The Week: Duncan Hunter

California Republican Duncan Hunter was the second Congresscritter to endorse the Insult Comedian. As if to confirm he’s one of Trump’s “best people,” he was indicted on the heels of corruption charges against the first Congresscritter to endorse Trump, Chris Collins. Collins has opted to shuffle back to Buffalo, Hunter vows to fight the charges. And that is why Duncan Hunter is malaka of the week.

Hunter “inherited” his seat from his father one-time House Armed Services chairman and “why not me” presidential candidate, Duncan Lee Hunter. Hunter has styled himself as Junior. He is not, he’s Duncan Duane Hunter. One might even say that he’s a Catfish Hunter

As a true blue Trumper, Hunter is a major grifter and fraudster. He and his wife Margaret have been charged with a lengthy bill of particulars:

“I’m saying when I went to Iraq in 2003 the first time I gave her power of attorney and she handled my finances throughout my entire military career and that continued on when I got to Congress since I’m gone five days and home for two,” he said to Fox News’ Martha McCallum. “She was also the campaign manager. So whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it.”
How gallant. This is NOT how a Marine is supposed to behave. In addition to being tackier than a 3-three-year-old who just ate cotton candy, it’s a feeble defense. The money was donated to Not Junior’s campaign and he’s responsible for any credit card fiddling. Shorter Adrastos, Duncan is a donut in the Gordon Ramsay sense of the word:
 

A federal indictment alleges that House Armed Services member Duncan Hunter was not happy when he didn’t get a tour of a military base in Italy and had this to say: “Tell the Navy to go fuck themselves.”

Prosecutors also accused the California Republican of falsely claiming that personal expenditures were for “wounded warriors.”

Fuckin’ A. A is for asshole.

Before the shit hit the fan, Hunter’s seat was safe: 538.com gave him a 91.83% chance to win. In the wake of the indictment, the Cook Political Report has moved the race from likely to leans Republican. Here’s hoping Ammar Campa-Najjar, Not Junior’s Democratic opponent, can pull off a minor miracle. The whole “it’s my wife’s fault” thing will definitely hurt. I suspect Hunter will double down on Trump-style racism and xenophobia against his opponent who is Palestinian/Mexican-American.

Duncan Hunter epitomizes the greed and mendacity of Trump’s so-called best people. He’s an entitled little putz who expects daddy and/or Trumpy to get him out of this mess. And that is why Duncan Hunter is malaka of the week.

Friday Catblogging: The Boxer

We had a brief health scare with eleven year old Della Street. She was eating but had lost a fair amount of weight so she was a Bony Maronie cat. It turned out to be a thyroid problem. We pill Della twice daily and she’s gained a pound in the last month. She’s back in fighting form.

Now that you’ve seen Miss Street on a Coke Zero box, I’ll give Paul and Artie the last word:

The Legal Docket: Of Henry Fonda Wannabes & Flippers

The first Manafort juror has spoken. It’s a Trump supporter who nonetheless voted guilty on all 18 counts despite loathing star witness Rick Gates. She revealed that there was one hold-out on the 10 counts on which a mistrial was declared. It’s a woman so the Henry Fonda analogy is imperfect. Of course, it was always flawed because Fonda’s character in Twelve Angry Men flipped the jury and this person was a lone hold-out to the bitter end. I had to mention Twelve Angry Men because it’s one of my favorite movies and launched the career of one of my favorite directors Sidney Lumet.

Here’s the interview with juror Paula Duncan:

I just made history. It’s the first time I’ve ever posted a Fox News video. I’m worried that I’m going to hell. I had hoped to go to heaven so I could meet Henry Fonda and Sidney Lumet. I’ll do penance by posting this scene from one of Sidney’s finest films:

ATTICA. ATTICA. ATTICA.

In other legal news, the Insult Comedian wants to change our legal system to suit his personal needs and trust me, he’s needy. Here’s what the Kaiser of Chaos had to say about “flippers:”

“You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it. I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers,” he said.

“Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair … if somebody defrauded a bank and he is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that.”

I doubt that Trumpy means this Flipper:

I’m pretty sure that’s not the famous teevee dolphin Flipper but Trump’s lying is contagious. Call it creative prevarication. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I skipped posting a GIF of Tommy Flanagan the pathological liar because Jon Lovitz is a wingnut. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Back to Trumpy’s musing about abolishing plea bargains. It would not only paralyze the court system it would have allowed John Gotti, Whitey Bulger, and a wide variety of wise guys to walk. But that’s a small price to let the president* have his way. #sarcasm.

Finally, Trump’s dickish tabloid media pal, David Pecker, has cut an immunity deal with SDNY prosecutors. This is one of the least surprising developments of the week. As Trumpberius himself might say, “Pecker has all the qualities of a dog except loyalty.”

Thinking about the venerable teevee show Flipper has given me an earworm:

That’s right folks, a dolphin got the last word. He’s a helluva lot smarter than Don Junior.