Monthly Archives: March 2019

Saturday Odds & Sods: Hand Of Kindness

Still Life with Onions by Paul Cezanne

March is the cruelest month in New Orleans for allergy sufferers like me. The weather has been sunny and cool; perfect for outdoor activity. The rub is the oak pollen that can be found everywhere. It coats cars, sidewalks, and any surface it can light on. It makes me feel itchy and my nose run like a broken faucet. The most dramatic symptom involves my eyes, which resemble red gravy in sockets if such a thing is possible.

Enough bitching about my allergies. This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson and was the title track of his 1983 solo album. It was his first record after breaking up personally and professionally with Linda Thompson. It’s one of his finest albums featuring some of his best songs and that’s saying a lot.

We have two versions of Hand Of Kindness for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a live version from Cropredy circa beats the hell outta me.

Now that I’ve extended the hand of kindness, it’s time to jump to the break. Given the RT album cover, we may have to do so at the Chelsea Embankment. Splash.

Continue reading

Steve King Can Go Fuck Himself

The King of Bigots is at it again, and this time it’s personal:

[H]ere’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans, and everybody’s looking around saying, “Who’s going to help me? Who’s going to help me?” We go to a place like Iowa, and we go see, knock on the door at, say, I make up a name, John’s place, and say, “John, you got water in your basement, we can write you a check, we can help you.” And John will say, “Well, wait a minute, let me get my boots. It’s Joe that needs help. Let’s go down to his place and help him.”

I don’t want to say anything derogatory about Iowa flood victims. They’ve been through enough trauma. They don’t deserve to be dragged into a political argument by one of their elected officials BUT this is such bullshit.

People in New Orleans after the storm and federal flood were just as determined to help their neighbors as the “nice white Midwesterners”  represented by the King of Bigots.  Does he think that Iowans will turn down government assistance when it’s offered? Of course not and they should not.

We all depend on the kindness of strangers after a disaster. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black or a Democrat or Republican: people should give you a hand up instead of a kick in the head. It wasn’t right when New Orleans flood victims were used as political pawns and it’s not right if the same thing were to happen in Iowa. Unfortunately, the Trump regime has already set a pernicious precedent in Puerto Rico. I sincerely hope that federal and private aid to Iowa and other flooded area is dispensed without regard to politics. Iowans shouldn’t suffer because one of their Congresscritters is a white nationalist moron.

One more thing: Steve King can go fuck himself. I can’t say that often enough.

Quote Of The Day: Dead Parrot Edition

If it’s Friday, it’s time to quote an eminent Guardian columnist on the shit show that is Brexit. Here’s how the formidable Polly Toynbee described a speech Theresa May gave in the House of Commons earlier this week:

Listening to her outburst, you heard the mood music of an angry farewell, a croaky swan song. As she nails her dead parrot of a plan to the perch again next week for yet another vote, she surely knows that battering on with her way or no way, petulantly obdurate to the last, she will be rejected yet again.

Polly nailed the petulant Prime Minister to the bloody wall with that Monty Python reference. In case you don’t get it, here’s the Dead Parrot Sketch with the Lumberjack Song as lagniappe:

Friday Catblogging: Things Are Looking Up

We were trying to get Della and Paul to look in the same direction but you know what they say about herding cats.

Kabuki Feuding

Kabuki Actors by Kunimusa

People occasionally ask me why I nicknamed Donald Trump the Insult Comedian.  In part, it’s his delivery, which is reminiscent of the Borscht Belt comedians who were a staple on teevee when I was a kid. It’s also his demeanor: he’s a man with skin thinner than deli ham who is always eager to take, and give, offense. I coined the nickname not long after the infamous Trump bon mot about John McCain not being a hero because he was shot down. Stay classy, Trumpy.

The main reason I call him the Insult Comedian is his need for conflict, argument, and drama. Not a day goes by when he doesn’t fight a pick with someone over a slight, be it real or imagined.

It’s often difficult to tell which of Trump’s feuds are real. Hence the post title: Kabuki Feuding. My colleague Michael F does a fine job discussing the Insult Comedian’s bizarre and unseemly feud with a dead man. What is this? An episode of Six Feet Under? How dare John McCain not thank Trump for throwing him such a swell funeral? There’s as much wrong with that statement as with the Trump presidency* itself.

Since Michael dealt with that Kabuki Feud, my focus is on Trump’s phony war with George Conway and the latter’s phony war with his cartoon villain wife, Kellyanne. The hostilities have revved up this week, which has led to a debate: is the uncivil war between the Conways real or phony? Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. It feels like the B-story line in an episode of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise. They’re arguing in public to entertain themselves and give the Insult Comedian a reason to distract attention from the legal tsunami that threatens his presidency* and financial empire.

Do I think George Conway hates Trump and thinks he’s a lunatic who threatens the continued existence of the “Conservative movement”? Sure, why not. It doesn’t matter: it’s all entertainment for the twitterati and punditocracy who collectively gasped when a smirking Insult Comedian called George, “Mr. Kellyanne Conway.” If that’s Trump’s idea of a sick burn, he needs better joke writers.

Squabbling couples have been a staple of American entertainment forever. From the Bickersons in the funny papers to Lucy and Ricky on teevee to George and Kellyanne on the tweeter tube. It reminds me of a low-budget version of The War of the Roses; only with creepy wingnuts instead of Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Now that I think of it, George bears a passing resemblance to the director of that movie: Danny Devito.

It’s just reality teevee. It’s just entertainment. A Potemkin presidency* deserves its own Kabuki theatre of the absurd. And it doesn’t get much more absurd than The War of the Conways.

The last word goes to the brilliant cast of The Band Wagon:

Pretty Weird When This Could Be An Actual Headline

trump_oldmanyellsatcloud_linear_burn

Well, assuming John McCain went to, you know, the good place

He said he gave Mr. McCain “the funeral he wanted, and I didn’t get ‘thank you,’” exaggerating the role he played in honoring the senator’s death four days before his 82nd birthday.

“I have to be honest: I’ve never liked him much,” Mr. Trump said, about 10 minutes into a freewheeling speech that was ostensibly about the resurgence of manufacturing jobs. “Hasn’t been for me. I’ve really — probably never will.”

OK, points for honesty, I guess. Whining about a dead person not thanking you for pretty much anything certainly suggests animus…and bug fuck lunacy.

Meanwhile…this week marks a grim anniversary

torquerumsfeld2

Sixteen years…even worse is the utter lack of any self-reflection, much less remorse, from the people who didn’t just “bring it on,” but who insisted on it…and who questioned our loyalty and patriotism for opposing. That they’ve not been drummed out of public life and/or are in a state of perpetual apology for demanding this moral and strategic disaster … might explain why we’ve got a cretin like Trump in the Oval Office.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Mr. Angel Comes Aboard/Johnny Angel

I’m working on a Movies Set In Louisiana piece for the Bayou Brief. It’s taking a bit longer than anticipated but it has a lot of moving parts; pun intended, it always is. It should be out sometime next week.

One of the moving parts is a nifty film noir set in New Orleans, Johnny Angel, which is based on a book by Charles B. Booth, Mr. Angel Comes Aboard.

The book cover is so torn and frayed that it gave me an earworm:

 

Only The Shadow-Banner Knows

I didn’t think it was possible but Devin Nunes is making a “serious” attempt to out crazy the Insult Comedian. It wasn’t enough for Nunes to sell his soul to Trump, he’s now acting as if he wants to be the GOP’s bull goose loony after the lunatic-in-chief leaves the stage.

I’m referring, of course, to Nunes’ fakakata suit against Twitter, never-Trump Republican consultant Liz Mair, and two Twitter trolls who make fun of poor poor pitiful Devin. They’ve apparently hurt Nunes’ feelings, which is enough to file suit in the parallel universe inhabited by wingnuts.

The lawsuit is partially based on a Republican conspiracy theory that they’re being “shadow-banned” by Twitter. I’m not going to bother trying to explain this crazy theory as it’s inexplicable but Jonathan Chait gives it a go. It’s also not a basis for litigation or anything other than an episode of InfoWars. To paraphrase (butcher, actually) the introduction of the old radio show: Only the Shadow-Banner knows what evil lurks in the heart of the tweeter tube.

It’s amazing what wusses fake tough guys like Trump and Nunes are. If you can’t take a punch, get out of the ring, don’t sue people, corporations, and phantoms who only exist on the tweeter tube. Suing Devin Nunes’ cow is udderly ridiculous. I’ll leave it to that feed to milk the bovine jokes after this musical interlude:

To some extent, this is an attempt by Nunes to make like Peter Thiel and try to sue Twitter into the ground. But why? Trump is not only the Kaiser of Chaos, he’s the King of Twitter. The platform allows him to run wild, lie, and share his paranoid fantasies with the world. Last weekend was particularly fertile as there were 50+ presidential* tweets. Unhinged thy name is Trumpy.

I suspect that Nunes’ real motivation is an unintentionally hilarious attempt to erode the libel laws as they apply to people in the public eye such as, say, wingnut congresscritters and batshit crazy Oval Ones. To the limited extent that he understands it, Trump is a known critic of the Sullivan case and at least one current supreme, Clarence Thomas, thinks it should be limited. I think their influence should be limited instead.

I selected the vintage Shadow Magazine cover because the armed chick vaguely resembles Liz Mair, who also rocks a Louise Brooks-style hairdo, and the Shadow looks a bit like Nunes. Of course, the Shadow was a hero and Nunes is yet another cartoon villain in an era full of them. The good news is that his suit isn’t going anywhere. The bad news is that it hasn’t already been laughed out of court.

The last word goes to Frank and Sammy with Me and my Shadow:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Red Sails In The Sunset

Red Sails In The Sunset was Midnight Oil’s commercial breakthrough in Australia. It was also the first time they charted in the US. The Oils got their foot in the door with this 1984 release but they kicked it in with their next album, Diesel and Dust, which is when they set proverbial beds afire.

Red Sails In The Sunset was recorded in Tokyo and features a cover by noted Japanese  artist Tsunehisa Kimura. Later releases of the album included the title and band name at the top of the cover.

Here are the original Australian LP cover and back cover:

Are you ready to rock? Here’s the CD re-release of this fine album:

 

In Loving and Awed Memory of Tom Butler, First Draft Krewe

You ever get shown up thoroughly by someone twice your age?

Tom Butler and his wife June did that to me in 2007 in NOLA. Longtime readers may remember we assembled a bunch of Internet people who’d never met (pictured above) to go to New Orleans to gut a house in the aftermath of Katrina. Tom, second from left up there, absolutely kicked my ass.

He and June, beside him as always, hauled out barrow after barrow, bucket after bucket, of filth from this roach-ridden rotting hulk of a flooded home in 90-degree heat and 90 percent humidity, working dawn to dusk with hardly a break to make this busted thing a home again. I needed a long lie-down after about two hours of swinging a sledgehammer and all Tom did was keep working. He smiled the whole time.

Tom passed away this morning. He was generous, kindhearted and true, and helped where he could, always. Our condolences to June and her family, and Tom, I hope, is somewhere finally resting up.

A.

LET’S MAIL SOME LEGOS TO ALASKA

I dunno if anybody else is struggling right now but I AM. Holy balls, am I ever.

The world is a dark miserable shitass place and being on Twitter is losing its goddamn charm as all I ever see is people attacking each other over who’s really a Bernie bro and who humped their cat and who has the WORST ideas for revamping local news and who I used to love yesterday who now has to be cancelled because he has revenge or rape or race-war fantasies.

And I do not have a hot take on any of it. I’m just annoyed by everything. Once upon a time I would have enjoyed laughing at Cat Humper Twitter as much as I did David Cameron Dead Pig Humper Twitter, but lately my overarching reaction is just to be really, really tired by everyone’s antics. Which is not productive. Or helpful.

You know what is?

MAILING LEGOS TO ALASKA. 

Continue reading

Post Mayhem Rituals

There are things that happen after every mass shooting. Right thinking people deplore the violence and call for changes to gun laws. If the incident involves a minority religious community, the outcry is even more fervent and leads to shows of inter-faith solidarity and unity. These are positive post mayhem mass shooting rituals, and they’re happening in the aftermath of the New Zealand mosque attack.

As to negative post mayhem rituals, right-wingers sent their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims but refuse to acknowledge any role their pro-gun, Islamophobic ideology might have played. When Barack Obama was president, they insisted that he use the T word (terrorism) to describe every incident in which white people were hurt. He did so whenever it was appropriate, but Obama liked to think things through as opposed to the daily flow of diarrhea spewed by the Current Occupant.

These right-wing post mayhem rituals are writ large in President* Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy. He usually claims ignorance despite his conspicuous cable news consumption. His response to the Christchurch massacre is similar to his reaction to Charlottesville. While it’s true that white supremacists who shoot up mosques are a small group, that’s precisely why it should be easy to condemn them. Trump will not because he sees them as part of his base, which should be worshiped and deferred to at all times. This is, of course, crazy but so are they.

My post mayhem ritual is to write a post deploring the violence and urging people not to be comfortably numb. I did so after the 2015 San Berardino massacre and the 2017 Vegas concert bloodbath. I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write but I do. I wish to retain my capacity for outrage in the face of repetitive violence.

These sort of attacks are even more shocking when they occur in countries we don’t associate with gun violence such as Norway and New Zealand. But white supremacists are everywhere and the Norwegian butcher, Anders Breivik, has become a demonic hero to many.

I applaud the response of Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the mosque massacre. She’s proposing common sense gun control reforms, which will ban the sale of semi-automatic weapons. But the mosque murderer was able to buy his weapons legally, which he could not have done in his native Australia, which is why he exported his crime to New Zealand. Score one for the Aussies.

BUT white supremacist thinking is widespread in Australia and has gone mainstream there in recent years. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a noted xenophobe and has whipped up Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment nearly non-stop since being ousted from the top job. That’s why it’s no surprise that this happened:

Good on the egg teen and boo to the racist senator. We have more than a few of the latter and need more of the former.

One answer to mass shootings are tighter gun control laws BUT New Zealand’s laws were already restrictive and it happened there. We need to stop othering people who look, act, and pray differently than ourselves. It won’t be easy with leaders like Trump, Abbott, and Orban whipping up hatred but nothing worthwhile is easy. It beats the hell out of being comfortably numb.

The last word goes to Pink Floyd with a song that the band described as part of “the violence sequence” as it was written for Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie Zabriskie Point. The director rejected the song as “beautiful but too sad.” We need more beauty and less sadness in the world, y’all:

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Here today, gun tomorrow” edition

You know, ‘m just going to stop planning mini-vacations from First Draft. Every time I do….

At first – he’s psychotic!

Christchurch mosque shootings – Trump-supporting ‘Brit’ gunman wrote chilling manifesto
The [UK] Sun ^ | 03-15-2019 | Jenny Awford

Posted on 3/14/2019, 11:45:31 PM by Trump20162020

To: Trump20162020

“Trum supporting”?????

The guy describes himself as an “eco-facsist who despises capitalism.

4 posted on 3/14/2019, 11:50:55 PM by BenLurkin (The above is not a statement of fact. It is either satire or opinion. Or both.)

To: NorseViking

No, he’s insane. When someone is as psychotic as this guy is I never take what they say about politics and culture seriously. They could just as well claim to be helping the Martians invade.

Apparently he has three accomplices though so it will be interesting to see what kind of mental cases they are.

7 posted on 3/14/2019, 11:54:52 PM by TigersEye (This is the age of the death of reason.)

So – he’s insane. And his hatred had NOTHING to do with the coziness of The Darnold’s regime with white supremacists.
.
Nothing at all.
.
This is how I see it:

Crazy person: “Those (fill in the blank) are dangerous.”
Crazier person: “Yeah!”

Crazy person: “Those (fill in the blank) are all terrorists.”
Crazier person: “Yeah!”

Crazy person: “Those (fill in the blank) need to be wiped out in a holy war.”
Crazier person: “Yeah!

Crazy person: “Those (fill in the blank) are all animals.”
Crazier person: “YEAH!!”

Crazy person: “There’s a war coming against those (fill in the blank), and we have all the guns.”
Crazier person: “YEAH!!!!!!”

Crazier person shoots up a building full of (fill in the blank)

Crazy person: “Where in the hell did you get THAT idea? You’re just a crazy person.”

And so on….

.

Of course, only crazy people hate other people because they pray in a different language.

.

Right?

To: Kaslin

50 muslims won’t be blowing themselves up.

3 posted on 3/15/2019, 1:51:26 PM by Gasshog

I’m sorry – was that a Freeper, or the New Zealand nutcase live-streaming his mass murder?
It’s getting harder and harder to tell you apart.
To: Kaslin

Muslims should not be shocked that some fruitcake hit back. Their terrorist “martyrs” have been killing innocents for years and now when they get hit, the whole world’s left wing establishment screams its head off about innocents being killed. You live by the sword, someone is going to die by the sword.

4 posted on 3/15/2019, 1:53:17 PM by Midwesterner53

They were asking for it.  They’re ALL ASKING FOR IT!!!
To: Kaslin

GUN CONTROL KILLS

Even in New Zealand,
Even Muslims

18 posted on 3/15/2019, 2:20:27 PM by TheNext (Participation Award Winner = CoC5)

So – we should arm all the Muslims?
.
Interesting 180.
To: Trump20162020

Here we go with the false flag bullsh!t…

24 posted on 3/15/2019, 12:16:42 AM by Electric Graffiti (Cocked, locked and ready to ROCK!)

Beat me to it.
To: Mr. K

Own goal is known in military circles as a “false flag” operation, a term from naval history where ships raised their enemies’flag and attacked another partisan to start a war. This is what we have here.

37 posted on 3/15/2019, 2:46:39 PM by backwoods-engineer (Enjoy the decline of the American empire.)

FalseFlagOnThePlay
.
And now – the post of the thread!
To: HighSierra5

Any conservative minded person in their right mind would shudder at the idea of doing something like this. Do you really think that makes the first bit of difference?

I’ll give the guy this much: he certainly understands the American right, at least as far as FreeRepublic goes.

28 posted on 3/15/2019, 12:30:05 AM by papertyger
Can I have an amen?
.
More (if you can stomach it) at the link below.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

My Fellow Honkies Acquitted Ourselves Well Yesterday

I spent Saturday at the tamest possible version of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities: the kids’ room at a local “heritage” festival.

Where people were drunk-yelling along with the Dropkick Murphys at 1 p.m. and a dude spilled an entire beer on his 6-ish-year-old’s head while in a wee babby mosh pit during “Michael Finnegan.” I can’t blame him. That’s an absolute banger, all 47 verses.

We refer to this weekend as Amateur Night in Chicago for a reason: 

5:36PM — “A highly intoxicated white male wearing a large styrofoam sombrero” is lying down in the middle of Grand and State.

Never change, my weak-livered brothers. Never change.

A.

Just Have the Journalists Do Everything

Let us sell it, at least we know what we’re doing:

In another attempt to retain local union jobs in the face of expected layoffs, members of the PD News Guild have asked the Plain Dealer Publishing Company to collaborate with them on a subscription drive.

In a letter sent Tuesday, to which the company has not yet officially responded, the Guild asked that for every 500 new subscriptions purchased, one local journalist’s job be preserved for an additional year.

With expected support from local unions, including the member unions that comprise the North Shore Federation of Labor, the News Guild asked that a discounted rate be offered to “unions, retirees and supporters.”

I know how hot it gets you people when I talk about newspaper marketing and distribution so here we go. This is actually a good idea, as sad as it is to make people’s democracy-dies-in-darkness jobs conditional on something as fickle as circ. I’d go one better: Have the journalists actually make the subscription calls.

No, really.

A lot of newspaper chains in the late 1990s and early 2000s consolidated and centralized their circulation departments. It sounds good if you’re the kind of lizard-brained consultant critter who uses words like “synergize” and “marketing space” and stuff: One call center for five small papers in a general region, with a phone tree instead of a kindly permed receptionist.

It sounds good, until you’re explaining which of the papers you want to a minimum-wager working off a script who lives four towns away and doesn’t know the 7-Eleven you tried to buy your paper at and can’t pronounce the name of your street nor explain why the paper covers your area but doesn’t sell in it.

Like this is a joke but it’s not, really:

The automation and corporatization of basic newspaper operations has as much to do with falling circ as the mobile internet does. Maybe more. I know the older I get the less patience I have for bloated heaving websites that circumvent my adblocker and I’d much rather flip through a paper with my coffee.

But they can’t get it on my porch by 6 a.m. and even if they do, it’s full of syndicated racists and bothsiders whining about civility next to four pages of wire copy about celebrities and a “what’s trending on Twitter today” box, along with reminders to go to the shitass website for the interesting stories and striking photos.

Papers aren’t ever-present anymore, so it’s possible to ignore them. While the tough dirty children were out there yelling (and the downtown boxes were filled, and the racks were in every bodega, and the neighbors were doing the delivery) it wasn’t as easy to overlook them, to flip to TMZ or spend your commute playing Candy Crush. Now, even if you’re looking for the paper you often can’t find it.

Journalists might be the last people on earth who care about that so if they have to be the ones to fix it, well, shit, nobody else is gonna do it. Even the PD’s union admits this is a long shot:

Given how the company has responded to Guild bargaining requests in recent weeks, it’s unlikely that the letter will be met with support or good faith. (The company’s goal is to employ less of them, ultimately.)

I’ve been saying it for a while now: Ain’t nobody coming to save journalism except you and me and everyone we know who cares about it. I’m about done listening to people complain about the way the world is when some of us are out here trying to build something new.

And yeah, we gotta make the sales calls to do it. We gotta pass the sentence and swing the sword. We gotta work day jobs to do the writing we want to see in the world and we have to keep doing it as long as we can. You can bitch about the tree in your way or you can pick up an axe.

Or a phone.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

People are racing dogs across Alaska and other people are raising money for the schools along the way:

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Everybody Takes A Tumble

High Spring Tide by Jack Butler Yeats

It’s time for the annual Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade. This year it takes place on the day before the holiday but at least we got a wee break from Mardi Gras. Parading is hard work, y’all.

As always we’re going to our friends Greg and Christy’s open house to eat, drink, and be merry. The parade is exuberantly disorganized but the party is more fun than a snake down your trousers. It’s so much fun that one year a Leprechaun attended and posed for a picture with our hosts:

This week’s insidiously catchy theme song was written by Mike Scott and Anthony Thistlethwaite  for the Waterboys’ 2007 album Book of Lightning.  We have two versions of Everybody Takes A Tumble for your listening pleasure: the studio recording and a live version from Irish teevee:

Now that we’ve filled our tumblers with Tullamore Dew, it’s time to stumble to the break. I’m not sure if I’m capable of jumping.

Continue reading

Quote Of The Day: Brexit Vote Edition

There’s something *almost* reassuring about the fact that British politics are even more fucked up than our own. Americans did something stupid by electing Donald Trump. The Brits topped that by voting for Brexit a few months earlier.

There have been a series of votes in the House of Commons on Prime Minister May’s Brexit deal with the EU. The government keeps losing these votes and now supports an extension of the country’s departure date. It’s a giant clusterfuck, y’all.

The great Guardian columnist Marina Hyde wrote a brilliant piece the other day that included these hilarious sentences:

 The land that likes to picture itself as a David Niven world war two movie is in fact a look-away episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show. On close inspection, the “beacon of democracy” turns out to be a bin fire.

Jeremy Kyle is essentially the UK’s answer to Jerry Springer. I would hope you all know who David Niven was. This could be the movie Marina had in mind:

Notice that it had two titles. The second was the US title. It’s a great life after death fantasy film from the team of Powell and Pressburger. It certainly beats the hell out of Brexit, which is a right-wing nativist fantasy gone terribly wrong.

Hat Tip for the exact quote to my mate Neill Bayley.

Friday Catblogging: Open & Shut Case

The only things that are open and shut in this side-by-study are Paul Drake’s eyes. BUT he’s named for a famous fictional detective so he’s always on the case.

Beto’s Big Getaway

It took longer than usual to come up with a title for this post. I seem to have used up all my Beto puns last year and was reluctant to Beto the ranch on a new one. I consulted with Mr. Google and learned that Sam Peckinpah’s 1972 film of The Getaway was filmed in O’Rourke’s native El Paso. The book on which it’s based was written by pulp icon Jim Thompson and it’s Pulp Fiction Thursday hence the post title.

Another reason The Getaway provides a perfect title for a post about Beto’s belated campaign announcement is that its premise seems to be “vote for the cool kid” and nobody was cooler than Steve McQueen whose nickname just happened to be The King of Cool. Destiny or a fluke? You decide.

I just finished reading Joe Hagan’s ode to Beto in Vanity Fair. Both Hagan and the candidate think O’Rourke is a man of destiny:”I want to be in it. Man, I was born to be in it.”

I’m less certain. As to the tone of the piece itself, I’m inclined to agree with this tweet from Gambit editor and Adrastos crony Kevin Allman:

The puff piece article compares O’Rourke to Obama and JFK. It even hints at a “LBJ only cuter” analogy with an extended discussion of Beto’s father Pat, a failed politician, with whom the candidate had a contentious relationship as did Lyndon and Sam Johnson. It was the most interesting part of Hagan’s hagiography piece and included this bit of myth making:

One night in July 2001 the two had what Beto O’Rourke says was “the best conversation we ever had,” ranging over family, politics, personal history. “We just ate leftovers and drank a bottle of wine in the backyard,” he recalls. The next morning, his father was cycling along a quiet route outside El Paso when he was struck by a car and thrown 70 feet to his death. “I was at work and my mom called me and I just knew,” he says. “Because her voice was shaken and said, ‘Something’s happened with your dad. You should come to the store.’”

Neither Jim Thompson nor Sam Peckinpah could have concocted a more mythic end to this father-son relationship.

I’m already on the record as a “the more the merrier” pundit. Whoever wants to contend for the 2020 Democratic nomination should run and let the voters decide. I, too, think that the ability to defeat Trump should be an important factor BUT given the slippage in the incumbent’s support and the scandals engulfing him, I think that any plausible Democratic candidate has a good chance of beating him.  I’m concerned about governing: Trump’s successor will have an ungodly number of messes to clean up including the rebuilding of the NATO alliance. Being cool is not enough.

The Beto myth did not start with the Vanity Fair puff piece. After his defeat by Ted Cruz, people started comparing him to another politician who lost a senate election and was elected president in the next cycle. Comparisons to Lincoln, Kennedy, and Obama seem a bit over-the-top and even a trifle overwrought. What’s next? Are they going to trot out the old Todd Rundgren album title: A Wizard, A True Star? Annie Leibovitz took a picture of Beto “jamming” with his kids, maybe they can do their own version of that classic 1973 album.

Here’s the deal: I will support any Democratic nominee against anyone the GOP puts forward. I don’t even dislike Beto in the way I dislike Bernie Sanders who I would also support. I’m just skeptical that the guy who lost to Tailgunner Ted who lost to the Insult Comedian is the right person to become the next president. If you want healing, unity, and love, Cory Booker is already sounding those themes. Thematically, Beto is the white Cory, only the latter’s stage mannerisms are not reminiscent of revival tent preachers. I’ll spare you comparisons to Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry. The Steve McQueen shtick is enough for one post.

Beto brings another liability to the race. There’s a hunger in the Democratic base for a woman and/or person of color to top the ticket in 2020. Women and minorities drove the party to victory in 2018 and many believe that we should follow suit in 2020.  I remain undecided but I’m inclined to agree.

This post is not intended as a takedown of Robert O’Rourke. I just think he should be subjected to the same scrutiny as the rest of the field. One important question is whether or not he’s ever eaten salad with a comb a la Amy Klobuchar. Repeat after me: being cool is not enough.

Being urged to run by Oprah Winfrey is not a reason for non-celebrities to support a candidate. Thus far, all we really know about O’Rourke is that he’s an excellent campaigner and that the media and some voters are in love with him. It’s unclear what his raison d’être for running for president is: “Vote for Beto because he’s cool” is not enough.

It’s obvious that Oprah and former president Obama urged him to consider running because timing is everything in politics, and O’Rourke was the brightest and shiniest media object in the 2018 campaign. He also lost his race to Ted Cruz a man who is disliked even by those who agree with him. Moral victories are not enough: the stakes are too high.

While I wish that Beto was running against John Cornyn instead of jumping into the crowded presidential field, I understand that the adage “when you’re hot, you’re hot” applies to politics. The people who ran The Getaway‘s PR campaign understood that too. This alternate poster for that movie gets the last word:

Instant Postscript: I mentioned to a friend that I was doing a Beto post centered around the Steve McQueen version of The Getaway. He reminded me that there was a unnecessary and even gratuitous 1994 remake starring SNL Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin. Betomaniacs could argue that McQueen would kick Baldwin’s ass hence O’Rourke could whip Trump. It’s not a bad argument as fictional arguments go. Repeat after me: being cool is not enough.