Monthly Archives: June 2019

On Joe Biden’s Civility Fetish

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one thing Joe Biden has in common with Donald Trump is a fatal inability to STFU. The former Veep has a tendency to trip over his tongue every time he talks about civility. One might even call him a Lost Civility Causer.

This time Biden took it way too far:

As evidence of his ability to forge personal bonds, the former vice president pointed to his 36-year career in the Senate, which stretched back to 1973 and overlapped with the service of leading Southern Democrats. Biden cited the late senators James O. Eastland (Miss.) and Herman E. Talmadge (Ga.), who were steadfastly opposed to civil rights and racial integration.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said at the fundraiser, where he was introduced by Eric Mindich, an investment manager and former Goldman Sachs partner.

The Democratic presidential candidate, who has led his competitors in early polls of the crowded nominating contest, briefly impersonated the southern drawl of the Mississippi cotton planter, lawyer and lawmaker. “He never called me ‘boy,’ ” Biden said. “He always called me ‘son.’ ”

Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment about why it would be notable that the Dixiecrat — who thought black Americans belonged to an “inferior race” and warned that integration would cause “mongrelization” — didn’t call Biden “boy,” a racial epithet deployed against black men.

The garrulous gaffe machine also invoked the name of former Georgia Senator and Governor Herman Talmadge who was a second generation race baiting segregationist.

Even with Talmadge — “one of the meanest guys I ever knew” — Biden noted, “at least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done.”

Biden cited two of the worst Dixiecrats who remained in the Senate during his early years. There were other segregationists such as John Stennis and Russell Long who changed with the times and were never as overtly racist or hateful as Eastland and Talmadge. Biden might as well have cited Strom Thurmond.

I’ll never forget a story that went around the Hill about Eastland. The Senate threw a reception for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during one of his visits when Carter was president. Eastland took one look at Sadat and said in a loud stage whisper: “Why, I believe the president is a nigra.” He stepped out of the reception line so he wouldn’t have to shake Sadat’s hand. I guess Biden would say of that story, “at least he called him a nigra, not the other n word.” Civility, try it, you’ll like it.

Do I think Joe Biden is a racist? Absolutely not. Do I think he needs to think before he speaks? Absolutely. He seems bound and determined to talk his way out of the Democratic nomination. Another reason I support Elizabeth Warren.

Repeat after me, Joe:

Tweet Of The Day: Limerick Edition

I thought some Album Cover Art Wednesday lagniappe was in order since the tweeted limerick in question comes from the Divine Miss M:

The president* seems to have belatedly discovered that First Ladies can be political assets, so he’s been trotting the future ex-Mrs. Trump out with some regularity of late. He even said that Melania was his “Jackie O.” Of course, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was not Jackie O until she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis five years after JFK’s murder. Talk about Beauty and the Beast.

The Insult Comedian ignited his fair-to-midlering feud with Bette during his stay in London by calling her “a washed up psycho.” She’s taken ownership of the phrase with quite amusing results.

The last word goes to Bette with the big hit from her debut album, The Divine Miss M. It’s obviously not about Cadet Bone Spurs:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Bayou Cadillac

This 1989 album by Cajun music gods Beausoleil features some swell pictures by New Orleans based photographer Rick Olivier. He specializes in photographing artists from the Gret Stet of Louisiana and has done many album covers. This is one of the coolest.

Here’s the Bayou Cadillac Medley:

Future Conversations with Trump Voters

In light of this nonsense, I look forward to this NYT/Washington Post/Atlantic series about people who WOULD vote for Democrats, except for all the socialism:

Inside Carol’s Cozy Corner diner in East Westville, Pennsylvania, the air was thick with bacon grease and coffee that doesn’t cost $5. There are no lattes here, no free-range chicken sausage wraps with vegannaise. You’ll get your buckwheat flapjacks and like them, hippie.

Sitting at the counter, his oil-stained hands gnarled from years of real, hard work in the mines, Joe America scoffed when asked if he’d consider voting for Elizabeth Warren.

“She’s a socialist,” he said, and his buddies next to him nodded assent. “My grandfather didn’t fight in Korea so we could have socialism in America.”  

Joe America hasn’t benefitted at all from Trump’s policies, but says he’d consider voting for the president again.

“At least he’s against infanticide,” he said, cutting into his ham steak. “Democrats want to kill babies in the hospital right after they’re born. Say what you like about Trump, at least he doesn’t want babies killed. Unlike those socialists.”

What WOULD persuade such a person to vote for a Democrat for president? For senator, representative, town council? Joe considered for a moment, then looked around the diner.

“See people like this? Hard-working people?” He gestured to his fellow patrons, all of them doubtless miners, plumbers, roofers and railroad workers since everyone knows no soft-handed office workers ever visit a diner for breakfast. “Democrats don’t understand people like this. They don’t offer them anything.”

Joe stared into the distance as a truck carrying coal from the coal-filled coal mine rumbled by. One thing is certain from this encounter in red rural country: If the Democratic Party wants to appeal to voters such as this one, they have to abandon policies perceived by low-information voters to be socialist. Or infanticidal.

I mean I just can’t wait for these takes. No one will ask people what they think socialism IS, or how they believe Chuck Schumer is sneaking into hospital rooms to personally club healthy infants, or what specific policies they could point to that would convince them he’s not.

It’ll just be a morass of “people believe what Fox News and talk radio tell them, but we’ll never use the word Fox or the word News, because we don’t want to call people sheep and we don’t have room to get into the influence of a 24-hour propaganda machine for the GOP, it’s the thing we all know but don’t talk about ever.”

Socialism and infanticide are the Fox- and talk-tested flashpoint words and everyone will go along with the charade knowing it’s a charade and then pretending that going along with the charade means fulfilling their missing to keep democracy from dying in darkness, like this sort of shit saves the world. I’m so glad we’re killing journalism and building something new.

A.

Our Commenters are AWESOME

Let’s just turn today over to JTO, from my Sunday post, reminding me to get off my ass, shall we? 

The hour is running late, that is true, but it is also just as true that it is still early.

It is true that this is a frustrating, infuriating fight – but it is the fight that we have always had. It was the fight for the recognition of every working man’s humanity, of every woman’s suffrage and every POC’s equality. And those we fight are never defeated, they simply retreat, regroup and try again – just like we do. Just like we have to. Just like we have always done.

Will they first take, then corrupt our 4th Estate? Will they deny us the vote? Will they say our gigging economy is because of freedom and irresponsibly tasty avocado on toast brunches? Will they stack the Supreme Court, and start 4 month old children in kennels? Will they kill every single living thing on the planet – from microscopic plankton to Africa’s megafauna – for sport and a selfie?

Of course they will, or they will try.

And blast that crater we are all in – just a little bit bigger, deeper – even as we work to fill it in, and at the same time prevent them from making it worse.

Please, keep at it.

Go read the whole thing.

I was so tired before I read that, dude. And now I feel like I could run through a brick wall. THANK YOU.

A.

Thank You

I’m not sure if I’m going to be up to writing today. We’re going to the vet and making arrangements for Della’s remains this morning as well as dealing with a few loose ends.

I’d like to thank everyone for the kind wishes about Della Street here, on Facebook, and Twitter. I’m a bit overwhelmed but Della would consider it her due. She’d be right.

I’ll be back on Wednesday but until then a few pictures of the late, great Della Street:

Finally, a picture of Della with her beloved big brother, Oscar.

The last word goes to Sly and the Family Stone:

Today on Tommy t’s Obsession with Facebook – zuck you, fuckerberg edition

No post this week, good people.  Dallas has been one big lightning /thunderstorm for the last three days, and I don’t  feel like losing another hard drive, so my computer’s been mostly off for that time.

Also, I’ve been in Facebook jail for a week.  Let me tell you why.

I replied to a disgusting anti-gay post in the Open Fire Facebook forum that showed a rainbow hand reaching for a cowering child, saying that it reminded me of the infamous Nazi poster of the finger pointing at “Das Juden”.

61970255_664134240678097_1386468949851373568_n
I replied to my comment with a pic of the aforementioned poster, and my account was instantly suspended.

Juden

Facebook algorithms instantly disabled my account, and in the “tell us why this action by us was buttfuck stupid” response,

Facebook blocks

To help keep Facebook safe, we sometimes block certain content and actions. If you think we’ve made a mistake, please let us know. While we aren’t able to review individual reports, the feedback you provide will help us improve the ways we keep Facebook safe.

Please explain why you think this was an error

I replied:

“This was my response to an anti-gay post on a political forum that showed a rainbow hand reaching for a cowering child. I compared the anti-gay post to the notorious “Das Juden” Nazi poster, and posted a pic of the poster .
Comparing another poster’s meme to a Nazi poster does NOT make me a Nazi. This infamous poster is viewable at any Holocaust history site on Facebook.
Next time, try actually reading the thread.”

It is interesting that the same pic of the Nazi poster is viewable on over a dozen Holocaust remembrance pages, but I guess theirs is ok.

Facebook’s response to my response (that they asked for) ?

FBbullshit

Zuck you, Fuckerberg.

.

See you good people next week, if I don’t stroke out in the interim.

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Everything Pretty Much Does Suck, Actually

Serwer:

Black Americans did not abandon liberal democracy because of slavery, Jim Crow, and the systematic destruction of whatever wealth they managed to accumulate; instead they took up arms in two world wars to defend it. Japanese Americans did not reject liberal democracy because of internment or the racist humiliation of Asian exclusion; they risked life and limb to preserve it. Latinos did not abandon liberal democracy because of “Operation Wetback,” or Proposition 187, or because of a man who won a presidential election on the strength of his hostility toward Latino immigrants. Gay, lesbian, and trans Americans did not abandon liberal democracy over decades of discrimination and abandonment in the face of an epidemic. This is, in part, because doing so would be tantamount to giving the state permission to destroy them, a thought so foreign to these defenders of the supposedly endangered religious right that the possibility has not even occurred to them. But it is also because of a peculiar irony of American history: The American creed has no more devoted adherents than those who have been historically denied its promises, and no more fair-weather friends than those who have taken them for granted.

The camps, and that’s what they are, camps:

I don’t have any answers anymore. I don’t have any more words. Maybe telling you all that will help me come up with some.

Not that that’s like at the top of the list of anybody’s problems, but if you’re coming here for me to tell you what to do, I can’t do it. Maybe I never should have. Because we fought and fought and fought and I sympathize profoundly with those who are asking what the fucking bloody hell for, right now.

Jesus Christ, if I have to listen to one more internet bro yell at liberals for not fighting, yell at the American people for not fighting … 3 million more of us than there are of those assholes tried to fight, and between voter suppression and gerrymandering and plain old slavery-curious electoral abuses it wasn’t enough. How insane is that, it wasn’t enough. Don’t tell me people didn’t fight.

Women told you and people of color told you and you’re out here all WHY DON’T WE STAND UP motherfucker … we did stand up. And we’re still standing up, and we’re still fucking losing, and we’re not gonna stop losing until Mitch and all his fellow GOP senators are unemployed so unless we’re talking about that I’m about done hearing that we’re losing the wrong way.

I’m sick of hearing comparisons to Hong Kong and exhortations for mass protest. We did that, too. I spent last summer every night and weekend in the goddamn streets, don’t tell me people didn’t protest and fight. People are outside the White House every night if you’re looking for a protest or a focal point for your rage. Should there be a national march on Washington? Probably, but then cometh a thousand of the same fucking bros telling us that protests are silly and pussy hats are embarrassing and all that money should go to progressive candidates, there’s no way to win here, no way to satisfy our own poisonous version of the 101st Chairborne, the people who always have a plan. I don’t have a plan.

And no, I don’t know if Nancy Pelosi does or not, but nihilistic bullshit doesn’t help us there. Every hearing house Dems have held, every fiery speech given on the campaign trail, every MR. PRESIDENT HAVE YOU NO DIGNITY SIR moment that has happened and they happen DAILY are covered by jack and his brother network dick because Democrats doing something right isn’t a narrative anyone’s willing to work with. Not even our allies; Jesus, that Jon Stewart thing that went around, calling on “Congress” as though it’s Democrats who are holding up help for 9/11 first responders.

A pox on all our houses, is the best we can hope for, never mind one house is a little run down while the other one is infested with bedbugs and also on fire.

The only people I’ve seen doing anything right are working through the states, on a scale small enough to make a difference. Moms Demand is getting gun laws signed even by Republican governors. Local abortion funds, local incarceration reform efforts … I know it feels like nothing’s happening but nothing breaking through doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. The same people who always fought are fighting. I don’t know how we get them to critical mass. I don’t think anyone who wants that even knows what it looks like. The Parkland students came closest.

I’m rambling, I know, but a friend texted me yesterday morning asking what do we do, and … we raised money for food pantries and libraries and gutted a house and saved some pelicans and filled a classroom in Alaska with LEGOs and wrote to our reps and senators and protested and voted and … what would make the most difference right now? I don’t want to tell you to throw bricks through windows if I’m not willing to pick one up myself so I’m asking. I don’t know.

A.

Sunday Catblogging: Throw Your Hands in the Air if You’re a True Player

First of all, condolences to the Adrastos family on the loss of Della. She heartily disapproved of me when I was last in NOLA for a visit, as well she should have, and I was honored to receive her royal disdain. Hopefully all our ferrets have found her beyond the bridge and are now also basking in her contempt as they so deserve.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Speaking of contempt, Kick regularly sings “I love it when you call me Big Poppa” at Slade, because he has become chonk, destroyer of worlds:

Behold, our lard, in all his thicc glory.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Right Place, Wrong Time

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

I finished this post before hearing the terrible news about Our Della Street. I usually apply another layer of polish before publishing but I wasn’t feeling it. If it’s disjointed, so be it. Apologies to our late night Odds & Sods readers, I wanted my Della tribute to be at the top until 8-ish. She would have insisted.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming:

A wee cool front hit New Orleans this week. It’s still hot but not as muggy. It’s nice to step outside without breaking into an insta-sweat. It’s a minor triumph but we’ll take what we can get. It will be gone just in time for the weekend. So it goes.

The big local story comes from St. Tammany Parish. It used to be country but morphed into white flight suburbia in the late 20th Century. It’s the most Republican parish in the Gret Stet and its residents are wont to lecture us depraved city folk about morals and crime. They should knock it off. Former St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain was arrested this week on rape and incest charges. He spent several nights in the jail he ran for 20 years. Schadenfreude thy name is Adrastos.

I still have the late Dr. John on my mind so this week’s theme song is his biggest hit: Right Place, Wrong Time. He wrote it for his 1973 album In The Right Place, which was something of a New Orleans musical summit meeting. It was produced by Allen Toussaint and The Meters were Mac’s backing band on the album.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a 1996 teevee performance with Eric Clapton.

I’m desitively confused by this song. I actually called it Right Time, Wrong Place when discussing Our Mac with my barber the other day. Mac’s penchant for malaprops seems to be contagious even for a man of my edumaction. Let’s jump to the break before I get even more tongue twisted.

Continue reading

Della Street, R.I.P.

Our mouthy, smirking, cranky, and gorgeous internet rock star, Della Street, died today. It was a shocker. She had a chronic thyroid problem that we were dealing with. She took ill at the beginning of the week, then rallied on Thursday night when we watched the NBA finals together. She even went to the door and stared down the pit bull next door.

This morning she took a dramatic turn for the worse. Dr. A is out of town so our good friend Brett went with me to the vet. We dropped her off at around 10 and she was gone a mere 6 hours later. Della was 12. We’ve seen other elder kitties go downhill but not this fast.

I am genuinely shocked and, as you know, I neither shock nor scare easily. Della was Dr. A’s cat so I thought she’d hang on until her human returned home, but she was ready to go out on her own terms, that was our Della.

I know some might find it odd that I’d sit down and write a tribute to Della so soon. I knew that our readers would want to know as soon as possible. That’s what I love about First Draft, we’re a community. And Della has been entertaining you with her antics since she was 2 years old. Ain’t it funny how time slips away?

I don’t cry easily or often but I did upon hearing this stunning news. I rallied because I knew the last thing Della Street would want is for me to be maudlin over her passing. She was a tough and feisty cat who was best known for her smirk and glare. She was the queen of dirty looks and I was the happy recipient of many of those looks as was her pesky kid brother, Paul Drake, who is even more confused than usual by her absence.

She will be missed but never forgotten.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

 

New Orleans Culture: Lost In The 21st Century?

As you can see above, my latest column at the Bayou Brief has a click baity title that I’m oddly proud of. I hope everyone falls for it.

Since I quote my First Draft tributes to Dr. John and Chef Leah Chase at the Bayou Brief, it’s only fitting that I quote my Bayou Brief piece here. Damn, my head is spinning:

A word about language: I hate the term “culture-bearer” as it sounds pompous, pretentious. and a passel of other P words. I also dislike “icon” or “iconic.” Perhaps it comes from growing up Greek Orthodox, a faith in which icons are religious artifacts to be worshipped. As a writer, I’m a satirist, which makes me an iconoclast. If I see an icon, I want to smash it.

Yet that’s not my reaction to our local heroes. Dr. John and Chef Leah should be loved, respected, and admired, not worshipped. They were unpretentious people; let’s keep them that way after they’ve departed this mortal coil.

The last word goes to Dr. John and Danny Barker with a tribute to Buddy Bolden:

The song was written by Jelly Roll Morton. Now that’s New Orleans culture, y’all.

Friday Guest Catblogging: Porch Cats

Since we’ve lived in New Orleans, our cats have always been indoor models. We’ve lived too close to major streets to let them roam. My friend Stephanie’s cats love the great outdoors. Here are Milo and Whiskers doing what they do best: porch sitting.

Donald Trump Says The Darndest Things

There’s a theme to this week’s posts: mouthy septuagenarian tricks. Joe Biden seems determined to talk his way out of the Democratic nomination. And the Insult Comedian seems to determined to talk his way out of the White House and into federal prison. He has friends in jail, maybe he could bunk with Paul Manafort.

After reviving the your president* speaks feature, I eventually decided it was best to adhere to the informal Maddow Doctrine: Watch what they do, not what they say. There are exceptions to any rule and this one is no exception. I don’t want to be doctrinaire, after all.

The Kaiser of Chaos has been shooting off his big fat bazoo in a way that could come back to bite him in the ass. Twice this week, the president* has shot himself in the foot, then inserted said wounded foot in his mouth. (He did it more than twice but I don’t feel like writing a 1,500 word post. That’s what I do on Saturdays.)

We’ll take it in reverse order. Yesterday, ABC News released a Trump interview with my diminutive countryman, George Stephanopolous. The president* revived one of his greatest hits: “Russia, if you’re listening.”

I’ll let the good people at TPM do the heavy lifting:

In a new interview released this afternoon by ABC News, President Trump tells George Stephanopoulos that he’d take information from a foreign government if one offered dirt on his 2020 opponent. “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening.”

President Trump rejected the idea that such foreign government interventions amounted to election interference. “It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

When Stephanopoulos told Trump his own FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said he should contact the FBI if a foreign government approached him with information about a political opponent, Trump said Wray was wrong. “I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do,” Trump continued. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”

This is Trump’s world view in a nut shell. If it’s good for Trump, it’s good; if it’s bad for Trump, it’s bad. I have a feeling that Rudy Giuliani would have torn his hair out if he still had that epic combover. He’s probably pulling Jay Sekulow’s hair out instead. He can always borrow one of the Insult Comedian’s extra weaves to cover up Rudy’s giant teeth marks. Did I say tear? I meant bite.

Not only is Donald Trump too dishonest to be president*, he’s too stupid; hence the Magritte dumbbell caveman featured image. After years of screaming “no collusion, no collusion,” he admits that he’d do it in a heartbeat. Make that do it again. It’s time for a musical interlude:

Word Of Mouth would also work as a post title but I wanted to connect Trump and Joey the Dinosaur. They have one important thing in common: a fatal inability to STFU.

The weirdest bit in the Stephanopoulos interview is when the Insult Comedian used Norway as an example of a country that might peddle dirt on one of his opponents. Give me a break: the Norwegians may be taller and whiter than the Russians, but they’re not known for their espionage exploits. I can feel my late mother rolling in her grave at the thought that her countrymen would collude with this president*. He should be sentenced to a steady diet of lutefisk as punishment.

The other Trumpian comment that obliged me to violate the Maddow Doctine was about his BFF, Kim Jong Un. The Insult Comedian received another “beautiful letter” from that bloodthirsty Communist dictator, then commented on reports that the diminutive dictator had his uncle murdered for spying. I’ll let Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen do the heavy lifting this time around:

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator once described by Donald Trump as “short and fat,”had a suspected traitor in his midst: Kim Jong Nam, Un’s half brother. Nam was considered by U.S. intelligence to have little insight into the inner workings of the Kim regime, according to former U.S. officials, but nonetheless was suspected by the Malaysian government to be a CIA source. In February 2017 he was killed in Kuala Lumpur when two women smeared a nerve agent on his face, causing his sudden death within an hour. Both later claimed that they had been recruited into participating in what they believed was a hidden-camera prank show.

Did Trump care, reporters asked the next day on the South Lawn? “I saw the information about the CIA,” he acknowledged, and “I would tell [Un] that that would not happen under my auspices.” In essence, Trump told a dictator that the agency would stop spying on him.

The typical “what if Obama had said this” trope is inadequate for this moment. Here’s my historical variation: what if JFK had banned spying on Cuba before, during, and after the Missile Crisis to make nice with Fidel? He would have faced withering criticism from both sides of the aisle and possible impeachment. Jack Kennedy, of course, could have charmed his way out of it but he would have been in a world of hurt.

I have an assignment for the MSM as well as constituents of Congressional Republicans. Every time you see a GOP senator or congresscritter, ask them if they would accept opposition research from a foreign power. There will be a chorus of noes. The follow-up question is obvious: if that’s  the case, why is it okay for president* Trump?

The last word goes to Joni Mitchell with a song in which she confesses that she talks too much.  I thought I should bring some class to this post.

Democratic Leaders: This Will NOT Happen

frogmarch_large_trump_2

No, Trump will not self-impeach, any more than he’d self-indict or self-arrest/self-perp walk/self-frog march. And every day you allow Trump to stomp on small “d” democratic norms, or worse, you enable his degrading of what’s left of self-government to the aesthetic of tawdry, reality-show, dictator chic.

Nor will “Republican heroes” save you. With the sole exception of Justin Amash, they’re all in. Duh. Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao rival DJT in overall corruption, if not pussy grabbing sleaziness. The House hearing this week where John Dean was all but called a rat for choosing the rule of law and the Constitution over blind loyalty to the caught-on-tape felon Richard Nixon is only the most recent example of Congressional GOPers behaving more like a criminal gang than a political party.

Besides. Trump. Is. Bluffing. He’s. Not. Playing. 11. Dimensional. Chess. Shit, I doubt the guy can play a decent game of, I don’t know, spin the bottle, and spin the bottle might be the one game he’d like, other than hectoring, bullying, and bluffing his way to what should have been defined–or at least spun like there’s no tomorrow–by the big “D” Democratic Party as an illegitimate administration, enabled by blind dumb luck and stupid, freak rules.

If they let this clown sociopath gain any more of a toehold than they’ve already given him…then what’s the fucking point?

History will judge Nancy Pelosi…and will judge harshly if she, and sorry to harp on this, but if she normalizes Donald Trump. And every goddamned day she, Schumer, and the rest of the alleged Democratic leadership fail to object — forecfully — is another day Trump’s disgraceful performance gets more normalized.

You don’t win by playing not to lose.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Go West, Young Writer

Elmore Leonard is best known for urbane urban crime stories set in Detroit or South Florida. In his early days, he wrote a string of successful westerns. Boy howdy.

Joe Biden Says The Darndest Things

Joe Biden is the early frontrunner in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The Insult Comedian has given Biden a boost by allowing him to take up residency in the presidential* head. It’s turning into a 21st century version of Being John Malkovich. I’m only surprised that Trump hasn’t tried selling him a condo located somewhere in the dark recesses of his “very good brain.” Perhaps it should be a stall since the president* is a “very stable genius.”

Biden’s strength as a candidate thus far have been his frontal attacks on the Current Occupant. He may, however, have to explain to Donald what “existential threat” means. I don’t think Trump has even heard of Sartre and Camus let alone read them, He should try: Sartre’s No Exit sums up how I feel about our political system under Trump. We’re trapped in a hell made by 46% of the voters in 2016. Thanks, you stupid motherfuckers.

Biden has long been known for his gaffes. I’m not quite sure if the comment cited below by Sam Stein qualifies but it gave me indigestion when I saw it:

I hope that Biden is pandering to the widespread yearning for a return to what Gamaliel called normalcy and Adrastos calls normality. It’s been a long time since Congressional Republicans worked with Democrats for the common good. As Obama’s Veep, Biden should know better. Instead, he’s showing signs of advanced inside the beltway disease.

It’s way too early for Biden to pursue a general election strategy. Early frontrunners have a way of losing as I pointed out in a recent post, Memories Of The Muskie Administration. Biden should consult with 2004 frontrunner Howard Dean while he’s at it.

Biden continues to send mixed messages. On the one hand, he’s ready, willing, and eager to do battle with Trump. On the other hand, he’s nostalgic for an era of political goodwill that didn’t really exist. This is why I support Elizabeth Warren. She’s fighter looking to the future, not the past. We may have to change Biden’s First Draft nickname from Joey the Shark to Joey the Dinosaur.

The last word goes to Todd Rundgren and Utopia:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Tumbleweed Connection

Tumbleweed Connection was Elton John’s third studio album. It was released in 1970 in the UK and 1971 in the US.  Concept albums were big at the time and this record is infused with country and western/Americana themes. It remains one of my favorite Elton John albums.

The cover evokes rural America BUT a closer look at the signs indicates that it was taken at a railway station in Sussex. It’s an indelible image from photographer David Markham.

The YouTube playlists are a mess so here are my two favorite tunes from the album instead:

The First Church of David Milch

I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the Deadwood movie since I saw it, and Deadwood in general, and David Milch’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, which he talks about in this interview in the context of writing his memoir: 

Singer: Would you pick up a new novel and read it now?

Milch: It’s not likely.

Singer: Is that because the hours in the day you’re able to focus are diminished?

Milch: To some extent. But more so I feel the constriction of possibility, what I’m able to undertake responsibly. I have only a certain amount of energy.

Singer: Do you feel like you’re in a race?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: You’re racing to finish this memoir?

Milch: More so a larger enterprise, of which this is just a part.

Singer: Can you be more specific?

Milch: I’m trying to make work, the undertaking in general, coherent. To restore a dignity to the way that I proceed, and it’s a demanding process. You’re tempted to . . . toss it in. Just to quit.

Singer: Before this, were you someone who had preoccupying fears?

Milch: No.

Singer: And now what is it you’re afraid of, if you could identify it?

Milch: I intuit the presence of a coherence in my life which I haven’t given expression to in an honorable fashion.

Singer: So this is an opportunity. Is that what you’re saying?

Milch: Yes.

Singer: The rush to get to work, that inner necessity to make something. You still have that? Do you wake up every day with that?

Milch: Yes.

Good God. And if there’s a parallel in Deadwood, which has always cast an unflinching gaze on both human suffering (the filth and the language) and human grace (the filth and the language as well), other than the above video, it’s this:

Sol Star: I’m guessing you’ve done things today you wish you could amend.
Seth Bullock: What kind of man have I become, Sol?
Sol Star: I don’t know. The day ain’t fucking over.

And:

Al Swearengen: Every fuckin’ beatin’ I’m grateful for. Every fuckin’ one of them. Get all the trust beat outta you. And you know what the fuckin’ world is.

There’s a moment in the movie (which if you’ve been putting off watching it because you loved the show and don’t want it “ruined” get thee to a TV, not only will it not ruin it, it will redeem the parts you didn’t like) that absolutely took me to church, baptized me in the waters and wrote my name in the holy book.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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Who Told Them The Left Hated Them?

Everyone’s dunking all over this which is right and just, but there’s something else happening:

Which is, you are convinced you have to be a Nazi because The Left hates you. So who told you the Left hated you?

I mean, did some mean feminist actually come up to you, spit in your face and say FUCK YOU FOR BEING A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN?

Or did someone tell you that happened to someone else who heard it from their cousin who saw it on “the news” who told their brother’s sister-in-law’s college roommate’s friend? Did Fox News tell you it was happening daily on the streets of God’s America? Did some YouTuber rant about anonymous leftists hating you? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT, and why did you believe it?

Because I gotta tell you, I talk to people all day long and zero of my conversations with acquaintances involve telling straight white men they’re inferior.

Sometimes they involve telling straight white men to cut out this or that specific behavior, but my direct conversations? With other humans, face to face? Rarely involve Twitter sentiments like “let’s keep straight white men in pens for sex and run the world on our own.”

How do you know the Left hates you, straight white fellow who’s just being PUSHED INTO being a Nazi because you HAD NO OTHER CHOICE? Who told you this was an acceptable response to being oppressed?

It isn’t some natural human reflex and the way I know that is African-Americans were enslaved and tortured for 400 years and they’ve managed to Nazi exactly nobody.

So at some point somebody told you this was a reasonable thing to do and say, and I’d like us to talk more about that person than about you, because buying this shit is one thing but selling it, as any drug dealer will tell you, is a whole ‘nother.

At a certain point we have to start addressing these conceptions of “the left” and “the media” hating REAL AMERICANS as the propaganda strategies they are. As electoral tools for the GOP, and not as something people of color caused by, like, existing and for which they should apologize.

A.