Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Fog Of Scandal: Individual 1

Image by Michael F

Thursdays are rarely important. But Thursday November 29, 2018 is the day that Donald Trump’s legal house of cards began to collapse. It was no surprise to this blogger: it was jerry-rigged and built on a rickety foundation of lies and greed.

I’ve used my friend and colleague Michael F’s images before but never the next day. The image above and the post title House Of Cads, seem almost premonitive in the wake of Michael Cohen’s latest guilty plea.. Yo, Michael, if you have any lottery number suggestions, I’m all ears.

Individual 1 is, of course, Donald J Trump, accidental president* and sleazy real estate developer. His story about the unconsummated deal for a Trump Tower Moscow was exposed as a lie yesterday. We don’t just have the former Fixer’s word for it: there are digital recordings and documents. Cohen’s bill of information is, well, informative.

Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress. He lied out of loyalty to Individual 1 who went into full Insult Comedian mode upon learning of the plea. He called his former Fixer “not very smart” and a “very weak person.” There’s that word again.

This morning Trumpberius tweeted about his Russia un-deal:

He forgot to invoke McCarthyism, which is always hilarious given that his mentor Roy Cohn was Tailgunner Joe’s right-hand man.

I’ve had some semi-heated discussions with people about charging Trumpers with lying to Congress. People tend to be dismissive about perjury. It’s a sign of the times: lying is in fashion. Lying under oath is never “very legal & very cool.” A reminder that lying to the Senate Watergate Committee was one of the charges that brought down Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell. Are you listening, Junior?

The Mueller investigation is unfolding like a long running teevee drama; more like The Sopranos than The Godfather. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg but with each new court filing Team Trump melts a bit more. As Josh Marshall put it: “They all lied. They’re all guilty.”

Friday Catblogging: The Willie McCovey Of Cats

I hope the post title got your attention. Willie Mac’s nickname was Stretch. Paul Drake knows from stretching too:

Very Deep Thought

I just saw the Liar-in-Chief on cable teevee. In addition to incorrectly claiming that Michael Cohen had already been sentenced to a long prison term, he used his favorite word:

Trump’s mangled and gnarly syntax has actually impacted my writing style. When I finish a draft of anything but a shopping list, I scrub out the verys. Occasionally they survive but that’s a very rare occurrence. Oops, I did it again.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson:

 

House of Cads

house_of_cads

Maybe it’s just another cycle of ebb and flow, but again Trump’s acting for all the world like he’s guilty of something (based his compulsive/chronic lying, I’d guess of something that rhymes with “delusion”). And because Manafort lies as much as Trump, we should finally see something official from Mueller.

Well, keeping them sweating/looking nervously over their shoulder is better than nothing. Besides, someone might crack under the strain.

Or if Trump goes full clod and tries some sort of pardon maneuver, it would or should generate enough heat/fury to keep him sidetracked…one would hope.

Could be an interesting holiday season, with a number of folks getting lumps of not-very-clean-coal-at-all in their stockings. We’ll see.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Fortunate Pilgrim

Mario Puzo is best known for The Godfather and other books about the Mafia. Before that, he wrote literary fiction. The Fortunate Pilgrim is based on his mother’s experience as an Italian-American immigrant. It’s Puzo’s favorite among his own books.

The Fortunate Pilgrim became a teevee mini-series after Puzo became a famous writer:

Life Imitates The Godfather: Paulie, Won’t See Him No More

Clemenza and Paulie Gatto in The Godfather

There’s something about the Manafort-Trump relationship that makes me think of gangster movies. Imagine that. During Manafort’s trial, the Insult Comedian rhapsodized about Al Capone as a stand-up guy, so naturally I wrote a post called Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

I’ve tried to avoid Godfather references in order to stand out from the mobster movie analogy crowd. And I realize the Clemenza-Paulie Gatto analogy is imperfect because Paulie G was whacked for betraying his Don whereas Paulie M first betrayed, then stood by Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. I should apologize for that long sentence but it would break my momentum. I don’t mess around with either Jim or Big Mo. The Seventies references are really flying today.

Now that I’ve Godfathered the hell out of you, let’s turn our attention to the Manafort at hand. After weeks of quiet, the Manafort case has exploded. Team Mueller pulled out of its plea deal with Manafort because of his incessant lying. Imagine that. Then, it got messier when the Failing New York Times broke the story that Manafort’s lawyer has been briefing Trump’s lawyers about their discussions with Team Mueller. There *was* a co-operation agreement between Teams Manafort and Trump but such deals usually end with a plea bargain. This is sleazier than hell but may not be illegal. It may, however, be actionable by the relevant bar association. Stay tuned.

Making matters even stranger is that mob buster turned wartime consigliere Rudy Giuliani was the source for the bombshell NYT story. We’ve gone from Gatto to Gotti in a heartbeat, a lovebeat. It’s unclear if Rudy did this out of an inability to NOT brag about the contacts or because he’s a stupid twat who thinks this helps his client’s case. It does not. It makes Trump look guilty. But Team Trump agrees with Tricky Dick:

This gambit is classic Manafort. He’s an expert at playing both ends against the middle. It’s why he’s in the jam he’s in today. But at least Trumpy loves him again.

I agree with those who think Manafort is playing for a pardon. He’s also playing the long game. Even for Trump, it’s politically impossible to pardon Manafort before the 2020 election. In his more lucid moments, the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover has admitted that a Manafort pardon would be disastrous politically. Of course, his idiot client is quite capable of impulsively issuing one just to blow shit up. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

There are many Manafortian theories out there. Former US Attorney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and MSNBC legal eagle, Harry Litman, has written a must read op-ed analyzing them. Unlike Litman, I believe that Manafort has a legitimate fear of being whacked by Russian spooks or wise guys in jail. It’s why he’s in solitary. It’s a plot line straight out of  The Americans.

The other Manafort news involves a story in the Guardian describing three meetings between him and albino devil Julian Assange. Many have discounted the story because of its sourcing. It *is* possible that the Guardian got played but the suspicion of the story strikes me as rank provincialism. The Guardian is one of the world’s great newspapers so its stories should be accorded the same respect as those in the NYT or WaPo. Besides, its sourcing is quite similar to many Woodstein Watergate stories. I also think the Steele Dossier implicitly supports the story. Stay tuned.

I’m used to making Watergate or Iran-Contra references about the DC scandal of the day. I am, however, unused to comparing our politics to gangster movies. What can I tell ya? I call them as I see them.

The last word goes to Corleone Caporegime Peter Clemenza:

Sorry for the last word fib, but I would be remiss in my duties as a mob movie maven if I didn’t post Clemenza’s lines after Paulie G met his maker:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Forbidden Fruit

I still have Nina Simone on my mind. Her 1961 album, Forbidden Fruit, has an unusual cover. Most of Nina’s album covers feature her sultry beauty and all around badassery. This cover has an Adam and Eve thing going on.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find out who designed the album cover, but I did find the whole goddamn LP on the YouTube:

Fox Gonna Fox

They were never a news organization: 

In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.

Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable-news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.

And as long as we’re here, stop referring to Fox News as “state TV.” If they were “state TV” they’d have rolled over when Obama patted their bellies. They’re the GOP, through and through, always have been, and the only people this wasn’t obvious to on day one were their fellow journalists.

AKA the people who get paid to suss out bullshit and name it for what it is.

Those people demanded Fox receive entry into the hallowed press fraternity and derided as “liberally biased” anyone who said hey, this is a network full of crap at all times. They’re still covering for Fox, as is everyone who pretends Shep Smith is some kind of hero for occasionally talking sense while still cashing Murdoch’s slimy checks.

We were always heading toward the most dishonest of the warbloggers getting White House press credentials in a BRAWNDO administration once Fox stuck its nose in the henhouse.

A.

Just Do Journalism Well, Journalists

It’s almost like it’s better when you run your paper like you want to run a paper: 

“Our overall revenue is more than triple what it was three years ago,” says Les Zaitz, the paper’s editor and publisher. “Circulation is probably double. We’re profitable, and there are not a lot of papers in the United States that can say they’re profitable.”

Things this paper is not doing:

Running an events company

Running a baseball team

Running a TV station

Running a hedge fund

Running a money-laundering operation

Running a religion

Running a political party

Jesus Christ, it isn’t that complicated. This paper is finding out what is happening and telling as many people as possible in the most efficient manner it has found, without regard for whatever trends are being farted out at the Silicon Valley Innovation Festival.

Instead of flailing from the hyperlocal to the paywall to the longform to the DIGITAL FIRST PARADIGM PIVOT SHIFT, this paper is … being a good paper. 

Which people will pay for, and advertisers will advertise in.

Schroder loads her white Dodge Ram pickup full of papers and rolls onto the streets of Vale. The tiny eastern Oregon town, population 1,900, is where the Enterprise is headquartered. Her stops include the county courthouse, a nursing home, a flower shop. The pickup crammed with papers is an upgrade from when she started doing this more than 20 years ago.

“That’s when I had a grocery cart and I delivered papers with my grocery cart full of papers,” Schroder says. “People called me ‘Bag Lady,’ ” she says with a laugh.

Now, using a grocery cart would be tough. On her Wednesday rounds, Schroder logs about 100 miles, traveling throughout Malheur County, Oregon’s second largest.

Her expanded delivery zone is one of the effects of a newspaper that has boomed in the past three years.

You mean if you PUT A THING WHERE PEOPLE CAN FIND IT, and deliver it when you say you’re going to deliver it, people will perceive that AS GOOD?

Someone stop the presses.

A.

Mississippi Goddam

Source: Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Facebook page via the Bayou Brief.

I feel like an interloper to this story. Athenae wrote a slam-bang post about it yesterday and my friend and Bayou Brief publisher, Lamar White Jr. broke the story of Cindy Hyde-Smith’s bigoted comments. I also could not resist using the Nina Simone song for the post title. I know I’m not the first to do so, my friend Kat did it at Sky Dancing. I am a derivative motherfucker. I do, however, have talented friends.

While I’m giving credit where it’s due, there’s a remarkable piece in the Jackson Free Press by Ashton Pittman (names don’t get more Southern than that) that fills in many of the blanks about Cindy Hyde-Smith aka the Racist Lady. Nobody should be shocked that, not only did the appointed senator attend a “segregation academy,” she sent her daughter there. And yes, she was an elected official when her daughter matriculated. It doesn’t matter to prosperous white Mississippians. It’s what they do, y’all. Cannot mix with “those people.”

Another note about Lamar’s reporting. He tells us exactly who and what, Greg Stewart, the guy in the Facebook pictures with the Racist Lady, is:

In the early 2000s, Stewart was specifically identified as a leader of a recognized hate group- Free Mississippi- by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group went defunct, and as a result, it was de-listed by the SPLC. But you can still find his name on their database. He  served as the group’s “parliamentarian.”

You can also still easily find him on Facebook, where he makes it abundantly clear that he is very much still involved in the business of the Lost Cause. (Stewart enthusiastically supported Chris McDaniel in the general election and is now cheering on Hyde-Smith).

McDaniel is the arch teabagger and Lost Causer who opposed Thad Cochran in 2014. He’s also the creep whose supporter harassed the Senator’s elderly wife in her nursing home. I am not making this up.

Back to Cindy Hyde-Smith. I wish I could say that her racist remarks and inept campaign will defeat her but I don’t think they will. Her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, is infinitely more intelligent and qualified to serve in the Senate. He’s also black and the vast majority of white Mississippians will never vote for a Democrat let alone a black Democrat. It’s the party of “those people.”

I’ve watched with amusement people who know nothing about the South opine on cable news about the Mississippi runoff. I saw one otherwise intelligent person say on AM JOY that Espy will win because there was not supposed to be a runoff in this race. Wrong. Chris McDaniel nearly unseated an incumbent Senator in the 2014 GOP primary. He only got 17% of the vote this time, in part, because Trump supported the Racist Lady in the first round. He’s still popular with white voters in the Magnolia state, alas.

What Cindy Hyde-Smith’s bigoted bumbling has done is to make the runoff closer than it should be. Republican political pros are nervous about the race but think she’ll pull it out after Trump rallies the peckerwoods later today. Their mantra is: “We don’t want an Alabama.”

They’re referring to Senator Doug Jones’ thrilling win last year in his race against Judge Pervert. I think that’s unlikely for reasons stated on the tweeter tube:

Alabama is NOT a progressive paradise but it has some big cities, a major medical research hub in Birmingham, and the rocket eggheads in Huntsville to partially offset the rural peckerwoods and rednecks. Also, Doug Jones is white. An African American candidate would not have beaten Judge Pervert, alas. The Bradley effect remains in effect in the South, as we saw in Florida where many white voters could not bring themselves to vote for Andrew Gillum.

I think Mike Espy has a good chance to get 45% of the vote if his GOTV effort is strong, otherwise he’ll hover at around 40%. If it’s the former, it’s a Beto-style moral victory. I hope I’m wrong and we wake up to an upset victory on Wednesday morning.

One thing that national Democrats seem to have learned this year is to CONTEST every race even those that look difficult. You never know when an inept candidate will talk about hanging or disenfranchising their opponents. In another state, those comments would have destroyed the appointed senator’s campaign. It’s a sign of progress that they damaged it severely. And in Mississippi of all places. Goddam.

The last word goes to the great Nina Simone:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “I ran out of titles” edition

OK – back to the sludge pit.

.

First up – special Ocasio-n !

Ocasio-Cortez supports Nancy Pelosi in House speaker race
NY Post ^ | November 20, 2018 | Mark Moore

Posted on 11/20/2018, 1:12:47 PM by conservative98

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in Nancy Pelosi’s corner.

The 29-year-old progressive star, who will become the youngest member of Congress, criticized a letter signed by 16 Democrats calling for new leadership and announcing they will not vote for Pelosi as House speaker.

“When I was reading this letter that was kind of released today, my main concern was that there is no vision, there is no common value, there is no goal that is really articulated in this letter aside from ‘We need to change,’” Ocasio-Cortez said on MSNBC on Monday evening

1 posted on 11/20/2018, 1:12:47 PM by conservative98
What could have prompted this public display of common sense??
To: conservative98
OK Grasshopper…, get in line or wind up an unsolved homicide!!!
16 posted on 11/20/2018, 1:20:49 PM by ExSES (the “bottom-line”)
AllRightyThen
Anyone got a more sane idea?
To: dirtboy
Someone told her how you wind up “sleepin’ wit da fishes”.
51 posted on 11/20/2018, 3:04:59 PM by skimbell
Sorry I asked.
.
Let’s move on.
Not so Proud, boys??

Proud Boys classified by FBI as ‘extremist group’ w/ ties to white nationalism The Hill ^ | 11/19/18 | Megan Keller Posted on 11/19/2018, 9:56:07 PM by sushiman

The FBI has been classifying the Proud Boys as an extremist group since at least this past summer, according to a law enforcement official in Washington state.

***********

But Antifa and BLM are not . Hmmm…The war on whites white supremacists in high gear it seems …
1 posted on 11/19/2018, 9:56:07 PM by sushiman
FIFY.
To: sushiman

 

Sounds like the FIB guys have moved over to the Dark Side. Antifa and BLM. And they call US Nazis.

3 posted on 11/19/2018, 9:58:17 PM by FlingWingFlyer (#NotARussianBot)

Only because you ARE Nazis.
.
neo-nazis-800x430
To: sushiman

 

If you are known by your enemies then these Proud Boys being hotly opposed by the vile Cultural Marxist Left makes me think they may not be as bad as advertised.

15 posted on 11/19/2018, 10:15:57 PM by Rurudyne (Standup Philosopher)

DumbassQuota
To: metmom

 

FBI is a racist hate group.

FBI is the Enemy of the People.

20 posted on 11/19/2018, 10:23:34 PM by TheNext (Participation Award Winner = CoC)

You didn’t read my “dumbass” meme, did you?
To: Trump.Deplorable

 

The Proud boys have taken to the streets to combat these communist marxists to defend our country and way of life and all patriots. They should be applauded for their bravery. We did not start this war the marxists did but make no mistake we are at war.

38 posted on 11/19/2018, 11:25:25 PM by gawatchman

stupidapocolypse
.
More Proud Goys after the you-know-what…

Continue reading

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The Last Gasps

This woman: 

The 2007 resolution wasn’t the only legislation Hyde-Smith backed that would elevate Mississippi’s Confederate history. The Washington Post reported that in 2001, Hyde-Smith introduced a bill as a state senator to rename a stretch of highway to what it had been called in the 1930s: the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, after the president of the Confederacy.

And in photos posted to her Facebook account in 2014, Hyde-Smith was pictured posing with Confederate artifacts during a visit to Beauvoir, the home and library of Davis. The caption on the post read, “Mississippi history at its best!”

Not long after Trump’s election someone described his campaign as the Going Out of Business Sale for White Baby Boomers and, with the exception of the Freedom Riders, yeah, pretty much. This angry old bat is a Type. I know ten of her, they all go to church every Sunday and while they’d never refuse to shake a black person’s hand they have no qualms about saying things that come straight out of Jesse Helms’ mouth when they’re amongst their own.

Jesse Helms was in recent memory. As were Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, and Barbara Bush saying Katrina victims made out like bandits after the hurricane because they were poor anyway. They’re not leaving us fast enough to change at the pace we need. There are people are living, who screamed at children going to school because they were black children. They still write letters to the newspaper about “welfare” and “busing” and would tell you their neighborhood was fine until “those people” “ruined” it. They still vote.

This rictus-grinning standard-bearer for white American power has gotta be the last one we’ve gotta fight, right? Every year of the past 20 I’ve hoped it’s the last time we have to have an election about the 1970s but every year it’s become more clear that the elections of the 1970s were about the 1870s and if we’re not over THAT, the Earth will collapse into the sun before we get over Vietnam.

Can the store just go out of business already? They’re down to the screws that held the fixtures on the walls. Pretty soon they’ll be selling off the linoleum. Can we please just lock the doors and board it up and walk away?

A.

Another Newspaper’s Genius Business Model

Let’s make the product suck, and then when readers notice, use their noticing to continue to suck harder: 

Meanwhile the paper’s corporate owner, Gannett, is pushing toward print oblivion. Gannett “is throwing the digital switch,” as a story by Ken Doctor for Nieman Lab reported, pushing print readers to switch to the online version of Gannett’s papers. In time for the November 6 election and “across its 109 local markets,” readers were directed “to head to its digital sites for results, “to embrace real-time media for real-time news.”

“When long-time readers of the Des Moines RegisterMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, or Fort Myers News-Press open up their papers” on Wednesday, the day after the election, “they’ll see hardly anything in the way of results,” story predicted. “Even on Thursday, when nearly all vote totals should be in, don’t expect to see newsprint used when cheaper pixels can do the job; the complete election results will be online, Amalie Nash, executive editor for local news at Gannett’s USA Today Network, told me.”

I’ve been saying this for years, but UNLESS YOUR DISTRIBUTION GUYS ARE UPDATING YOUR WEBSITE THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU HAVE TO GUT PRINT TO DO GOOD DIGITAL. Jesus Christ, I will never understand why in the past 20 years we’ve taken “here is this thing some people like, let’s blow it up in favor of doing this other thing some people like” as some kind of strategy.

(Don’t throw finite resources in my face. When there’s a consultant to pay or a sexually harassative exec to throw out the back door, the millions suddenly appear. There’s enough money in journalism to pay Megyn Kelly to get fired, there’s enough to put papers on porches in Wauwatosa.)

Even that, though, would be a cut above what most newspapers have done, which is to do BOTH print and digital badly. It’s not that they’re abandoning print to do digital well. It’s that they’re abandoning print to half-ass digital, put it all behind a paywall, pivot to video, and fire all the fucking photographers. They’re abandoning print to slap mattress store ads on the front page of their website which, when it does actually load, won’t let you log in as a subscriber without viewing ten more ads first about how you need to subscribe.

They haven’t done ANY of it well. I could forgive newspapers not knowing how to do the internet if they knew how to do newspapers. But it’s been 20 years and the same seven syndicated columnists are making the same seven figures each to say the same worn-out shit about politics or Kids Today or whatever Mitch Albom is bitching about now.

The only things that have been cut from the print edition are news stories, which is WHAT PEOPLE PAID YOU FOR IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE.

“With more copy editing and page layout handled by chains’ centralized hubs, and with more newspapers relying on shared or outsourced printing facilities, the days of getting evening stories into the print paper are already gone in many markets,” Doctor writes. 

“‘We have a 7 p.m. close in most of our markets,’ Nash told me. If you’ve ever wondered why today’s print newspaper headlines often reflect news that feels days old, that’s why.”

That would explain why the Sunday Journal Sentinel lacks most of Saturday’s college football scores: “any night game is simply listed as late game with no score, eviscerating the drama of the top 25 results,” as I’ve written. “Even home teams get short shrift: Late Bucks or Brewers games are no longer covered to the end of the game in the next day’s paper.”

They keep turning out lights and using people’s hatred of the dark as an excuse to snuff out candles.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Holiday

The Stillness Of Time by Salvador Dali

I originally thought I’d be able to write a full-blown Odds & Sods post this week. I was wrong. We spent Turkey Day pinballing from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and back again. Unlike Tommy, I’m not a deaf, dumb, and blind Pinball Wizard but I *am* stiff and sore from sitting in the car in heavy traffic and our pre and post Saints game hikes.

The Saintsgiving game was a bigger rout than the 31-17 final score indicates. The Saints-Falcons rivalry is intense but this isn’t the Dirty Birds’ year. It belongs to the New Orleans Saints. This is a special team: they’re fun to watch and have fun playing. The players are as likely to break out in random acts of dancing as the fans. This Saints team seems determined to put the fun back in the No Fun League.

The fans do their bit to support the team by getting LOUD. Check out the decibel level when the Falcons had the ball:

That’s Who concert loud, y’all. I kept waiting for them to play Long Live Rock There was the obligatory We Will Rock You sighting (sounding?) as well.

This week’s Saturday post may be truncated but we do have a theme song as well as a follow-up by the same artist. Ray Davies wrote Holiday for the klassic Kinks album Muswell Hillbillies. The follow-up comes from the Kinks underrated concept album, Soap Opera. Every time I hear Holiday Romance, I visualize Astaire and Rogers gliding across the dance floor.

That’s it for this abbreviated edition of Saturday Odds & Sods. I opened the post with a Salvador Dali painting. Let’s close things out with a picture of Dali and Alfred Hitchcock who are presumably discussing the dream sequence conceived by the artist for Spellbound.

Trump Fatigue

Image by Michael F

His detractors have long had it but Trump fatigue is afflicting many who voted for him. They’re beginning to spill the Trumper Kool-Aid instead of drinking it. The election was a disaster for the GOP: they lost the national popular vote by 8 points. As a point of reference, Ronald Reagan’s margin over Jimmy Carter in 1980 was 9 points.  Reagan was a master of expanding his base, all Trump does is shrink his.

In addition to being a corrupt obnoxious idiot, Trump’s primary political problem at this point is overexposure. Most of us would prefer not to think about politics on Thanksgiving. Trump was busy bragging, hate tweeting, and informing the country that we should be grateful for HIM.

The vast majority of people cannot sustain the level of intensity generated by this president*. People need a break from politics. Past presidents understood this, went on vacation, and made few public appearances during the holidays. Trump must always be the center of attention. He’s incapable of dialing it back during the holidays. That’s a big mistake. Thanks, Donald.

I had a brief encounter with an elderly Republican this week: “You were right about this guy. He never shuts up. He’s going to die of overexposure.”

That’s my new favorite image. Here’s another twist on it: the Donner party died of exposure, the Trump regime will die of overexposure.

As I wrote this, a classic Neil Young song lodged itself in my head. Neil gets the last word:

Sorry about your house burning down, man. I guess you should have raked more. #sarcasm.

Friday Catblogging: Up Close & Personal

Here’s Paul Drake’s bliss face:

Here’s Something to be Thankful For…

Trump_Laundromat_625_4

With Democrats soon to take over the House Intelligence Committee, a top item on the agenda is …. hiring money laundering and forensic accounting experts.

…the purpose of the potential new hires is to examine unanswered financial questions about Trump and Russia, but their work could apply broadly across the panel’s intelligence oversight.

[Adam] Schiff, a California Democrat, has said publicly and privately that he’s interested in President Donald Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, the German financial giant that has been scorched for its connections to money-laundering. When other lenders were loath to lend money to Trump in the 1990s, Deutsche Bank stepped up and spotted him tons of cash. The president may still owe the bank up to $175 million, according to MarketWatch. Bringing on staffers with expertise in financial crimes would position the committee to pursue those questions.

I’ll drink — and eat — to that.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

Now Be Thankful

Adrastos’ late mother in her Chicago heyday.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m big on recurring features. It’s time for the second annual Thanksgiving tribute to my late mother. This year Dr. A and I will include the Super Dome in our holiday rounds, so it’s unclear if we’ll make all of our New Orleans stops but we’ll give it a shot. Go Saints.

That concludes this year’s introduction. On with the show, this it is:

The holidays are hard for me. I like Thanksgiving’s gluttonous aspects but it’s still hard for me. It’s when I think of my mother who died in 2001. My mother was the sort of person who took in strays for the holidays. We’d have up to 20 people around the table; some of whom were friends of friends of friends. Mom believed that everyone should have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of our guests for Christmas dinner were, in fact, Jewish. No Chinese food for her Jewish friends.

Mom spent the day before Thanksgiving, and the day of, cooking away. She was a perfectionist when it came to entertaining: no holiday buffets for her. We had to gather around the table and it had to have a starched white table-cloth. There were no paper plates or people eating whilst milling about: fine china, silver, and crystal were mandatory for the holidays. She was informal the rest of the year but holidays were state occasions when, as my father was wont to say, we put on the dog.

When I got old enough, one of my jobs was to set the table. I made sure that Mom had final approval: she wanted everything just so. I recall feeling triumphant one Thanksgiving: I’d set the table perfectly on the first try. There were usually changes but not that year. I was inordinately proud of myself but she admonished me not to get too cocky. It was the Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran in her coming out. She left the bragging to my dad. It’s what Greeks do, y’all. Not me, of course, other Greeks…

I also helped make a fresh cranberry/orange sauce from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. We had a venerable hand-cranked grinder that had to be attached to the kitchen table. We spread newspaper around it because it was messy. There was a bucket at my feet to catch the bitter red cranberry drippings. Mom was not sentimental about her kitchen gadgets: she bought a food processor the first time she saw one. I was away from home and past the cranberry grinding, table setting phase of my life by then.

My favorite part of the traditional turkey dinner was the stuffing. I looked forward to it every year. It was loaded with herbs as well as pine nuts and chestnuts. We didn’t exactly roast them on an open fire but I helped shell the bastards. They were uncooperative, downright surly, actually. When I was really young, I was convinced they were alive but my no-nonsense mother disabused me of that notion. She informed me that I’d seen the Wizard of Oz one too many times. As usual, she was right.

Unfortunately, there was often conflict at the dinner table during the holidays. I’m the youngest of three by thirteen years. My sisters were off living life and I was raised more like an only child. I admit to liking it that way. My oldest sister thrives on drama and conflict. There was always one big row per holiday, which drove my poor mother crazy. She was always the woman in the middle. When she died, so did our nuclear family for reasons too complex to go into. The good news is that holidays are more tranquil but I miss the glue of my family.

Thanksgivings in Louisiana had a familiar feel when I moved here. It’s all about the food, y’all.  I married into an old Louisiana family and learned some new traditions. What’s not to love about oyster dressing? I still missed my mom’s stuffing. It was a part of me.

My first wife was a petite, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant spitfire. She took the idea of being a redhead seriously: she had a temper to match my own. Her mother took me in as one of her own but made it clear that when we moved to Baton Rouge, we’d have to tie the knot. Unfortunately, my wife’s family tree was a witches brew of genetic maladies and she died of cancer during what should have been her final year at LSU Law School.

She passed away a week before Thanksgiving so the holidays were rough sledding for me until I met and fell in love with the tall, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant woman known to you as Dr. A. The good news is that Dr. A and my mother-in-law instantly hit it off and she was admitted to the Louisiana family post-haste. It was Dr. A who started calling our Louisiana family the outlaws and the nickname stuck.

We spent many holidays with the outlaws in Red Stick over the years and are about to do so again. My mother-in-law has left the comfortable house that she shared with her late second husband Eddie to whom I pay tribute every Memorial Day. She’s 96 now and lives at St. James Place, which is a somewhat posh retirement community. We’ll be eating in the dining room but it’s still pretty darn homey: we’ve gotten to know many of the residents over the last decade. I am lucky that Dr. A and mother-in-law #1  get on so well. She is also a howling liberal (to use her own phrase) so there will be no Trump-driven conflict.

In recent years, we’ve expanded our Thanksgiving plans exponentially to what amounts to a triple-header. We have lunch in Red Stick, then it’s back to New Orleans for dinner with our friends Jennifer and Will and finally, unless we’re too wiped out, a nightcap with our de facto family: Cait, Dave, and the child army. It’s a sticky end to a long day and now I’m committed. I hope Dr. A won’t be too vexed with me but I fear the wrath of Cait as well as retribution from the child army of darkness.

I sat down to write a brief, nostalgic food-centric post and ended up explaining my tangled family tree. So it goes. I never hide the fact that I was a widower at a young age but I only tell people when asked how I came to the Gret Stet of Louisiana from California. It’s a long and painful story but I’m fortunate to have married well twice.

Family by choice are the best family of all but I still miss my mother. She could dance on my last nerve, but I miss our long conversations and teasing her about her crazy dog Brutus.

Mothers are powerful. They have the ability to make you revert to childhood. I know that many of your mothers get on your nerves. It’s what they do. Shrug it off and remember that they won’t always be with you. Around the holidays is when I miss my mom and Dr. A misses her charming, beautiful, and eccentric mother. Mother-in-law #2, however, was not a good cook and expected us to consume the radishes she’d lovingly cut. I hate radishes but her company was the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention with the gorgeous Richard Thompson song that gave this post its title:

Here’s another one from the songwriter. It’s a day for gluttony, after all:

Pulp Fiction Thursday will return next week.

Trump’s Sordid Saudi Word Salad

I guess the Insult Comedian hadn’t heard about the decline and recall of the Romaine empire when he issued his appalling statement about the Saudis and their murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The statement is pure word salad, peppered with Satan’s punctuation: 8 exclamation points. The late language maven William Safire weeps as do I.

Trump is proud of this illiterate, immoral, incoherent, and imbecilic statement.  It continues his seemingly endless race to the bottom, which has the nation’s moral compass spinning out of control. It was dictated by the president* to enable the Saudi dictator. Sad.

In this despicable document, Trump informs us that money matters more than the truth, human life, or national honor. None of this is surprising but if we lose the capacity to be shocked by the baseness of this president* he has won. I dislike the clunky word normalization, but if  it ever fit a situation this is it.

Trumpberius and Slumlord Jared are all in on Mohammad bin Salman. In fact, Crown Prince MBS is making the already awful Saudi dictatorship even worse. It’s moving from a family owned, consensus oriented authoritarian state to one man rule. That’s why nobody believes his claims about the Khashoggi killing. Not even Trump, but as far as he’s concerned, it doesn’t matter:

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

Trump claims that there are 450 billion reasons why we should turn a blind eye to this act of barbarism. He is, of course, full of shit on the details, but it does not matter. The Saudi dictatorship butchered a legal US resident for the “crime” of being a dissident writer. That’s all that matters.

I’m grateful to whoever leaked the story of the CIA’s Khashoggi report. Perhaps the same person leaked this appalling story to NBC last week:

The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

The Trump regime subsequently denied the story but such denials ring hollow in the face of its overt hostility to human rights, and our country’s tradition of being a safe haven for dissidents. We should never extradite dissidents to their country of origin to face execution. We should never even consider doing so to help *another* dictator out of a jam. This is, in a word, reprehensible.

It’s indisputable that the American record on human rights is a mixed bag. We’ve done more than our share of dictator coddling BUT we’ve always aspired to be better. Even past “tough guy” leaders paid lip service to human rights This makes Trump and his lackeys worse than John Foster Dulles, Richard Nixon, or Dick Cheney. “Worse than Cheney” is not something anyone should want to hear about themselves. Trump, of course, hears nothing and learns even less.

I was raised by my parents to be proud of my country and tolerant of its flaws. I am ashamed to be an American right now. It hurts to say that but I know we can and will do better in the future.

The last word goes to Randy Newman:

Tweet Of The Day: Nancy Smash Challenge Edition

It’s no secret that we’re Nancy Pelosi fans here at First Draft. The first female speaker was also one of the most effective. It’s why she was targeted by Republicans in the 2010 teabagger wave election and in every subsequent campaign. It’s best when your boogieman (boogiewoman in this instance) can really boogie.

Pelosi just led Democrats to their biggest gains in the House since the post-Watergate wave election way back in 1974. Instead of meeting with acclaim, she’s facing a challenge led by the #FiveWhiteGuys with support from the cats and kittens at Politico.

Since none of them has the balls to stand for leader, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and the other #FiveWhiteGuys thought they’d found the perfect stalking horse in African American Congressperson Marcia Fudge. They were outmaneuvered by the wily Pelosi who cut a deal with Fudge yesterday. It’s why she’s been House Democratic leader longer than anyone since Sam Rayburn.

That brings us to the tweet of the day. It’s a joke I considered stealing outright but decided not to. Without further adieu, here it is: