Monthly Archives: August 2019

Political Performance Art

The Insult Comedian has been giving his big fat bazoo quite a workout. It’s all smoke and mirrors: an attempt to obscure his latest cave to the NRA on gun control, a drooping economy, and dire re-election prospects. I halfway expect him to open carry a long gun to reassure the gun nutterazzi that he’s still with them.

The Kaiser Of Chaos has thrown three stacks of raw meat to divert attention from his failures and to throw the hounds of the MSM off the scent. (They’re all bark and no bite despite being called “fake news” by Trump.) Two diversions are funny, the other loathsome. It’s quite literally the cherry on his hissy fit shit sundae.

DIVERSION-1: Trump has engaged in a word of words with Denmark of all countries over Greenland of all islands. Who the hell feuds with Denmark? The Danes are great. Perhaps Trump is confusing the people with the dog breed. We know he hates dogs. Who the hell hates dogs?

Initially, I thought the “I wanna buy Greenland” story was either a hoax or a prank.  It turned out to be neither. Trump took to twitter to blast the Danish government and cancel a trip there. I expected him to call it the land of porn and cookies but he pulled his punches. Those cookies are like butter, I tell ya.

The good people at the New York Daily News came up with a banner headline for the ages:

Is anyone surprised that I love that Ford/Fjord pun? The only thing I don’t like it about it is that I didn’t think of it first.

The best thing I saw on social media came from my pal Kat of Sky Dancing fame:

 

Thanks for giving me a swell post title, Kat.

DIVERSION-2: Trump has also been feuding with the Mooch. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mooch started the “feud” to augment Trump’s own personal smoke machine. I don’t think the Mooch has done a sincere thing in his life. Why start now?

I’m not buying this unctuous creep’s reformed sinner shtick. The only thing I like about it is that it gives me a pretext to post this soundie:

What’s a Trump diversion without some bigotry in the mix?

DIVERSION-3: Trump’s despicable comments about American Jews have caused a tremendous amount of agita and anger:

“Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty, alright?”

If President* Pennywise ever read anything, I’d swear this was straight out of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That bigoted tract was, of course, the product of Tsarist Russian intelligence and we know how Trump loves Russian spooks.

The reaction has been swift and furious. The Insult Comedian trotted out a sycophant on the tweeter tube to rebut the critics:

So, he’s the messiah now? Oy just oy.

I had to google this Wayne Allyn Root bozo to learn that he’s a wingnut radio shouter and writer. I feel unclean after typing his name. Ugh.

Only Trumpberius would divert attention from his failures by making racist comments. Note to the MSM: this is not normal, stop covering him as if he were a normal person, not a deranged bigot. In the immortal words of Hank Hill:

That’s a book Trumpy might be able to read. It’s got lots of pictures. Besides, Hank’s neighbor  Dale (Bug Man) Gribble is bound to be a Trumper albeit a fictional one.

I think the Insult Comedian should stick to fat shaming his supporters instead of calling the majority of an ethno-religious group traitors. It may thrill his shrinking base, but it appalls the rest of the world. Of course, it’s just political performance art at its most artless.

Repeat after me: THE BOY AIN’T RIGHT.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Wooden Head

I disappeared down an internet rabbit hole and emerged not only unscathed but with an interesting cover. Wooden Head is best described as the Turtles contractual obligation album. They had broken up and owed their record label an album. The result was Wooden Head, which was a somewhat sketchy compilation album of out-takes and the like.

Frontmen Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan had left the band to work with Frank Zappa. Until Wooden Head was released in 1970, they were obliged to use a pseudonym, the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie; later shortened to Flo and Eddie.

The first time I saw the cover I immediately thought of the 1989 Crowded House album Woodface. Whether or not Nick Seymour’s cover was inspired by this one, is a mystery for the ages.

The cover was done by Kittyhawk Graphics aka DeanTorrence of Jan and Dean fame. It’s unclear if the Little Old Lady From Pasadena was involved.

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube playlist format:

 

Not Everything Sucks

Future President Cardi B exists:

I love her willingness to talk about things like this with her followers, most of whom seem otherwise pretty disengaged (mercifully so) from the day-to-day nonsense of this administration and the primary crap. She’s not speaking in Beltway-ese but she’s not stupid, plus her very existence pisses off all the right people:

A.

‘knowing that some of my friends would dislike it’

Let’s unpack Donna Brazile, who like most of Clinton’s staffers has been using her ex-boss’s victory as her entire resumé for years, agreeing to be in a book intended to launch Mark “I Masturbate To My Subordinates” Halperin back in to the mainstream:

Because there’s something more going on here than just Donna deciding that her friendship with this filth pig is worth more than the women he assaulted, and it’s particular to the Clinton Democratic Generation who are running around all mad right now that nobody’s listening to them about the future of the party.

I don’t know what kind of friends Donna has, but when mine tell me things like, “you are doing this thing and it’s dumb” or “your behavior is problematic” or “knock this off, asshole” I tend to … listen to them. They’re my friends. I respect their opinions and experience and understand they love me and have my best interests at heart even when I am doing my best to set my whole life on fire.

So if all my friends were like, “why would you choose to deal with this disgusting jerk” I would take that as a caution, not an endorsement. But Clinton Democrats, who saw their ex-boss and themselves rewarded by the national press for shitting non-stop on their own base and their own beliefs, see criticism from fellow centrists and liberals as validation.

My friends hate this, therefore it has value! My friends are advising me not to do this, so full speed ahead! My friends are hosting an intervention, therefore I’m on the right track with this whole heroin thing!

And you can trace an entire generation lost to pointless triangulation and political calculation that people will value you more for being contrary than being, you know, right, back to this impulse to go against the grain, because mavericks and bucking trends and new and different and etc. Never mind the grain is fine and maverickness is less valuable than, say, competence.

They’ve always been like this because when they were coming up “Democrat” meant losing loser who loses, and “liberal” meant hippie pussies spitting on troops. The only way to win elections in the face of that was to be a Democrat but not one of THOSE Democrats, you know, the ones who suck. How do you do that? You pick a random Dem and you shit on them, or you pick a policy central to your party’s existence and you kick the crap out of it on TV.

This is the environment Donna thrived in and she thinks she’s still in it because it worked once. That everyone involved in that victory was immediately enshrined in our national media (looking at you, Stephanopoulos) seems to them like proof it’s the right way to go. It explains everything about our national discourse, about what Democrats have refused to stand for in the past 30 years.

Democratic support for welfare reform. For increased policing and incarceration. For tax cuts for the rich, for pointless foreign wars, for refusing to punish war criminals and tax cheats, for Joe Lieberman’s VP candidacy and subsequent invitation onto every TV in the land to trash the few people who got it and fought back.

So when Donna’s friends say she’s making a bad decision — like when they said she shouldn’t go on Fox— where the rest of us would hear a note of caution, she hears the kind of approbation she’s always received, and thinks their condemnation is praise.

It was never really defensible but at one time in the past it was effective. Now it’s neither. It’s just sad.

A.

American History Is A Mixed Bag

Like Athenae, I’m fascinated with the NYT’s 1619 project and appalled by some of the wingnuttier online responses to it. An exchange I was involved in this morning inspired this post:

This particular Benny should cool his jets. I think President* Pennywise is doing an excellent job of delegitimizing, dividing, and demoralizing our citizenry. In his case, I would add a third D: dumbing down, dammit.

People have a hard time with complexity. It’s just more obvious (oblivious?) in the social media era. Ronald Reagan was a master oversimplifier. It was one reason he defeated the overcomplicator, Jimmy Carter. Reagan was a creature of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and his vision of our history was impacted by the movies he’d seen. In fact, the man Gore Vidal dubbed “the old TV president” was known to conflate movie plots with real life. Reagan also believed in the World War II slogan, KISS or “Keep It Simple Stupid.” In 1980 Reagan ran circles around Carter who thought and spoke like an engineer.

Life is complicated, American history even more so. Thomas Jefferson co-wrote the Declaration of Independence and was an unrepentant slave owner. The greatest liberal president of them all, Franklin Roosevelt, went along with the internment of Japanese-Americans without due process. There are thousands of similar examples but those are the best examples of our history at its worst and its finest.

Our history has involved a constant tension between our highest ideals and our worst impulses. It’s why I cannot stand with either the “America is pure evil” or “America: love it or leave it” crowds. They’re both wrong and guilty of egregious oversimplification.

Repeat after me: American history is a mixed bag. It’s what makes our national story so damned interesting as well as maddening.

The last word goes to Elton John:

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, R.I.P.

The first, and thus far only, woman elected Governor of the Gret Stet of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, has died at the age of 77 after a long battle with cancer. It’s often forgotten that Blanco was a strong, effective, and popular Governor on her way to re-election until Hurricane Katrina struck. It was a life changing event for all concerned and, unfortunately, led eventually to the election of Bobby Jindal who ran the state into the ground.

Much of the post-K criticism of Blanco was unfair. The storm was expected to hit the Florida panhandle until the 10 PM advisory on August 26. There wasn’t much time to prepare for a massive evacuation but it could have gone far worse. It *was* a mess but most of that was down to panicky and inept New Orleans Mayor C Ray Nagin. The subsequent flood was a federal affair.

The Bush administration, in conjunction with Nagin, chose Blanco as their political patsy. That was made obvious when the White House made Karl Rove its Katrina point man. Turd Blossom left his partisan stink all over the recovery effort and our Democratic Governor took the fall for Bush and Nagin’s mistakes. She stood her ground and won many battles, but lost the PR war.

Kathleen Blanco was a kind, compassionate, empathetic, and warm human being. She was “pro-life” but, unlike our current Governor, insisted that there be exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother in an anti-choice bill passed by the lege during her term as Governor. Her record otherwise was sterling, big-hearted, and liberal for a Blue Dog Democrat.

Blanco’s reputation has grown since leaving office. She was so effective in her dealings with the lunkheads in the lege that she earned the nickname, The Queen Bee. And the term steel magnolia seemed to have been invented for his charming, kindly but tough woman.

Other than shaking her hand at a public event, I never had the chance to meet Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, so I’m linking to three friends who had the pleasure of her acquaintance: Bob Mann, Clancy DuBos, and Lamar White Jr.

Finally, it was a rough weekend in New Orleans. Beloved local anchorwoman, Nancy Parker, died in an airplane crash while doing a story on the pilot. I’ve enjoyed her work over her 26 years as lead co-anchor at WVUE, but I’m a WWL news viewer. It’s a tribute to Parker that the competition has devoted so much airtime honoring her. Like Kathleen Blanco, Nancy Parker was famous for being nice. They will both be missed.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati -mental health day edition

OK, people – making good on my promise to take a week off.

It’s a running gag that I don an ISO suit before I plunge into Freeperville, but in truth, there is no ISO suit and no protection. I have to read hundreds and hundreds of posts to choose what to post here, and there’s no insulation from the stupidity, the hatred, the vicious brain-dead rantings of the Freeperati.

Then, after I’ve read the dozens of threads and hundreds upon hundreds of odious posts, I have to go back through them again to pick the stinkers I’m going to quote, and place them in some kind of order in my post.  Like reading that shit once isn’t enough.  Sometimes I put my Monday post together early Friday morning, and sometimes I put it off until the last minute because I just can’t deal with the world-class stupidity. Then I go and beat the dog, .and finish off by downing a bottle of bleach.

If evil had a smell, the evil I rub up against in Free Republic on a weekly basis would lead my home to be declared a hazardous waste site, condemned, torn down, and salt poured over the land on which it once stood.

So – no post this week – and we’ll see how I’m feeling by next weekend.

Tagged ,

He is Bad At His Job

This corn dog has more relevant insights about American politics than Mark Halperin and it has never masturbated in front of anyone.

God damn it, do you know how many people are begging online for money to pay for their cancer treatment, all of whom have more to say in America right now than this fucking filth pig?

Let’s review exactly what Mark Halperin did:

The new accusations from the four women include that Halperin masturbated in front of an ABC News employee in his office and that he violently threw another woman against a restaurant window before attempting to kiss her, and that after she rebuffed him he called her and told her she would never work in politics or media. The alleged incidents occurred while Halperin was in a position of significant authority at ABC News, while the women were young and had little power.

And this is the stunning insight that justified this kind of TRULY HORRENDOUS crap being summarily dismissed:

News coverage generally does not make it clear if time is on the side of the  Force of the Hong Kong rebels or on the side of the Beijing Empire’s Death Star.  If the choice is to bet on freedom or propaganda, an American president might choose the latter, but history always wagers on the former in the end.

What a fucking idiot. That’s from MARK HALPERIN’S WIDE WORLD OF NEWS, for which ABC should sue the living shit out of him for copyright infringement and also FUCK this guy. Not only is he a pervert and an abuser, he’s also goddamn bad at his job. His “take” is that it could go one way for Hong Kong, or it could go another way! Nobody knows! Pay me!

Like how do we justify assigning any kind of value to this?

Nothing is propping up Biden’s frontrunning horserace number as much as his electability lead. If the latter disappears, the former is deeply endangered.

If Biden can’t get elected, he can’t get elected! Wow, were we suffering without that. Wherever would we find a racist-curious middle-of-the-road’s-dick-sucking sentient tote bag without THIS man? How could we possibly have had a whole ass election and an entire politics without his incisive commentary?

This goddamn remora. He’s not even attached to a shark. He’s attached to other remoras, with this. Like Bob “Don’t Call Out the Swiftboaters” Shrum, and a bunch of other people who’ve been wrong about everything and could be replaced with your average left Twitter account for half the money and twice the electoral votes.

We have a man who shouldn’t get to do anything in journalism anymore writing a book about people who shouldn’t have anything to say in politics and people will book him on their shows and for their “ideas festivals” and it’s no wonder people are mad and disaffected all the time, that this is what gets you a parade.

A.

1619

Read all of this and then meditate with me upon the COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE ALSO SAD right-wing freakout over “how can we possibly remember our history if it’s different than what we remember?” 

The very first person to die for this country in the American Revolution was a black man who himself was not free. Crispus Attucks was a fugitive from slavery, yet he gave his life for a new nation in which his own people would not enjoy the liberties laid out in the Declaration for another century. In every war this nation has waged since that first one, black Americans have fought — today we are the most likely of all racial groups to serve in the United States military.

My father, one of those many black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take me years to understand: that the year 1619 is as important to the American story as 1776. That black Americans, as much as those men cast in alabaster in the nation’s capital, are this nation’s true “founding fathers.” And that no people has a greater claim to that flag than us.

Like imagine being so sad as a human being that you can’t find inspiration in another human being if they don’t look exactly like you. Imagine holding onto a story about a bunch of white men who said fuck you to the entire British Empire and brought it down, and not being able to make room for the black men and women who not only did that too, but they then brought down their white oppressors.

Imagine thinking history is one static thing, instead of a thousand stories and new ones being told every day.

But as the sociologist Glenn Bracey wrote, “Out of the ashes of white denigration, we gave birth to ourselves.” For as much as white people tried to pretend, black people were not chattel. And so the process of seasoning, instead of erasing identity, served an opposite purpose: In the void, we forged a new culture all our own.

I just … how do you not find that just as stirring as any speech given by Thomas Paine? Imagine being able to draw inspiration only from those who look like you. Imagine having that unimaginable luxury, the privilege to be that selfish.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

I survived jury duty. I even got a diploma of sorts. I’m uncertain if it’s for good behavior; more like bored behavior. I was called upstairs for voir dire on the last day. I tweeted about it after graduation:

Canny is Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish District Attorney. Here’s what I said about him in the Bayou Brief in 2017:

He’s a notoriously hardline, tough on crime District Attorney with the demeanor of an irritable undertaker and the strange uncharm of a grim Dickensian authority figure such as Mr. Murdstone. I had dealings with Canny when he was a criminal court judge and I was lawyering. He was arrogant, biased, rude, and dismissive. His success in electoral politics has always been a mystery to me but some people confuse assholery with strength. The Current Occupant of the White House is the best example I can think of. At least Canny has better hair.

Well, they asked for full disclosure…

People have been asking me if I planned to write at length about the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The answer is no. Why? Too many people focus on things other than the music and mud. Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” That concludes my rant about generational stereotypes.

This week’s theme song was written in 1933 by Al Dubin and Harry Warren. It was featured in the 1934 movie Moulin Rouge and sung by blond bombshell Constance Bennett. Ooh la la.

We have three versions of this torchy torch song for your listening pleasure: Constance Bennett,Tony Bennett, and Diana Krall. Ooh la la.

Constance and Tony are not related. His real name is, of course, Anthony Benedetto.

It’s time for a trip to Disambiguation City with a song written for the 2004 American Idiot album by the boys in Green Day. Same title, different song. Ooh la la.

Now that I’ve shattered your dreams, let’s jump to the break. Ooh la la.

Continue reading

President* Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

We recently watched the 2017 movie IT, which is based on the Stephen King novel. I wasn’t terribly familiar with that terrible tale except for the sinister clown Pennywise. I loved the movie and realized that it was remade for two possible reasons: the popularity of Stranger Things and the rise of Trumpism.

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I don’t see Trump as a figure of fun even though he’s funny. What he’s doing to the country is not funny but he cuts a ridiculous figure as he wreaks havoc. At the risk of sounding like a Reader’s Digest feature, laughter is the best medicine against Trumpism. Their dear leader has no sense of humor unless the joke is on his enemies. That’s why one should laugh at him, not cower, especially when the laughter is provoked by his latest outrageous statement. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

Words to live by.

I seem to have missed the Insult Comedian’s exchange with California Governor Gavin Newsome during the 2018 campaign. Trump called Newsome a clown, here’s his tweeted response:

SNAP.

Courage is what the resistance to Trumpism requires. I know that many are still traumatized by the 2016 election BUT remember that Democrats won the mid-term popular vote by 9 points. And Trump is running on the same issues that flopped in that campaign.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trump’s only path to electoral college victory is to destroy his opponent and resort to massive electoral fraud. He will not win the popular vote and has a narrow path to winning the electoral college, particularly with the economy circling the bowl. He’ll try and blame the Fed or Democrats but the voters blame the Current Occupant for economic woes. It couldn’t happen to a “nicer” guy.

Trump’s opponents need to take a deep breath and keep fighting. Remember: this guy and his cretinous followers thrive on your fear just like Pennywise. It’s up to us to look at the big picture and not be pennywise and pound foolish. Laugh at him, mock him, but don’t let him spook you. Victory belongs to the brave at heart. President* Pennywise can fuck off back to Trump Tower in 2021.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello and the Attractions:

 

Friday Throwback Catblogging: Cat Hat

Let’s set the dial on the Wayback Machine to 1999. Here’s a picture of your humble blogger with our 6-pound torti, Window, on my head.  It beats the hell outta being an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop one’s head.

Holy stupid human trick, Batman.

Don’t try this at home. It’s not for amateurs.

The last word goes to Lyle Lovett:

This Week In Republican Values

three_stooges_gop_Aug_2019

And these are just highlights from people not named Donald Trump.

Ken Cuccinelli slammed the door on non-European immigrants, citing the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus’s poem as his inspiration.

Steve King asked what’s wrong with a little rape and incest, since that’s what got us here and put us the map.

And finally, It’s Pat is back. The original Kulturkrieger didn’t say anything particularly outrageous — that I know of — this week, but I’d be comfortable betting with his return to television, he’ll come up with something soon that, to cite/paraphrase the much missed Molly Ivins, probably sounds better in the original German.

Did I miss anything?

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Wrecking Crew

Dr. A and I saw Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood last weekend. We both loved it. I thought it was his best movie since Jackie Brown.

Anyway, Sharon Tate is a character in the movie and went to the cinema to watch her own movie, The Wrecking Crew. Here’s a side-by-side image of Donald Hamilton’s book and the poster for the Dean Martin movie.

It’s trailer time:

The Wrecking Crew became the nickname of a group of elite LA studio musicians. They were celebrated in a documentary of that title in 2015:

Life Imitates The Godfather: Chris Cuomo Edition

I realize that I’m a day late on the Chris Cuomo kerfuffle but I had jury duty yesterday. They keep the juror lounge so cold that one could store a Semifreddo therein without it melting. It’s a frozen Italian delicacy, which the CNN host would be well-advised to to emulate. The dude needs to chill.

Let’s recap our story:

A video emerged on Monday night in which CNN anchor Chris Cuomo can be seen engaged in a tense confrontation with an unknown man and threatening to throw him down some stairs after the man called him “Fredo”.

In the video, reportedly taken in a bar on Long Island on Sunday, Cuomo is irate over a perceived insult from the man, an apparent reference to a character from the Godfather film. Cuomo suggests in the video it was meant as derogatory term for his Italian heritage, similar to the “N-word” for African Americans.

“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me Fredo,” Cuomo says. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN. Fredo is from The Godfather. He was a weak brother and they use it as an Italian aspersion.”

Cuomo is the son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo and brother of the state’s current governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I’ll fucking ruin your shit,” Cuomo says as the argument continues. “I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs.”

I’m obviously not a fan of Trumper assholes accosting people they dislike in public but Chris needs to make like a Semifreddo and chill. I plan to use that analogy until my plate is clean…

Calling someone a Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur. If this MAGA Maggot walked into a Knights of Columbus meeting and shouted “FREDO” the reaction would NOT be akin to walking into a Zulu meeting and shouting the N-word. I suspect that most of the KOC guys would be confused as opposed to outraged. They’d rather be called a Michael or Vito, after all. Repeat after me: Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur.

I’ll give Cuomo credit for sounding more like Sonny Corleone than Fredo:

I am glad, however, that he didn’t beat the MAGA Maggot down and bop him in the bean with a garbage can lid. Sonny would have thrown that worthless fucker down the fucking stairs so Cuomo showed *some* restraint.

In claiming that Fredo is an ethnic slur, not an insult, Cuomo amplified the story. He’s the one who made it about The Godfather, not some loudmouth Trumper asshole. It can’t be easy being Son of Mario and Brother of Andrew: Cuomo’s overreaction seems to reflect a measure of insecurity. A simple “fuck you, asshole” would have sufficed.

The Cuomos have long been hyper-sensitive about the fictional Corleone clan. Papa Mario refused to see the movie for many years because he believed it perpetuated lazy stereotypes about Italo-Americans. Others thought the movies glorified the Mafia. That shows the power of Puzo and Coppolla’s vision: it provoked people and made them think.

In other Life Imitates The Godfather news, we turn to the Roger Stone case:

Stone on Friday told a federal court that he opposed the request by prosecutors to play a clip from Godfather II at his trial, slated to start in November.

The clip was a pivotal scene in the movie in which a witness to Michael Corleone’s criminal conduct recants his testimony at a high-profile congressional hearing. The witness, Frank Pentangeli, backtracks on his testimony after he sees his brother and Corleone show up to watch the hearing.

Prosecutors say they want to play the clip to put in to context messages Stone allegedly sent radio host Randy Credico, who was subpoenaed to appear before Congress. Stone repeatedly referenced Pentangeli in the messages to Credico, according to prosecutors. Stone is charged with making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.

Stone has claimed that he referenced Pentangeli because Credico does a good impression of him.

I’ve been known to do Michael Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli myself. It’s painful: not my impression but the voice is so raspy that it hurts to do it. Here’s the scene in question:

Frankie and Freddie were great pals, they’d both surely agree that the real Fredo on our current national scene is this guy:

The analogy breaks down because Don Vito Corleone was brilliant and Don Donaldo, IL Comico Insulto is a dumbass prone to descibing himself as a “very stable genius.” Like father, like son.

It’s easy to imagine Trump Junior saying this:

Repeat after me: Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Denny McLain

I went down a YouTube rabbit hole and watched a pretty good documentary about Denny McLain. McLain was the last pitcher to win 30 games and won 2 Cy Young Awards. He was also a egenerate gambler and wannabe bookie. His pitching career flamed out by the age of 28. He also played a mean organ:

If you’re feeling like a lounge lizard, here’s the whole damn album:

A Presidential Candidate Should Run on Doubling The Number of Building Inspectors

This is my goddamn TED talk and the only plank in my policy platform: 

Placed at about 40 randomly assigned public-housing developments across the city, the lights led to as much as a 59 percent nighttime decrease in serious crime, according to a working paper circulated this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

For context, the drop is about the scale researchers would expect from a 10 percent increase in police staffing. It suggests that spending on improved living conditions may be a more effective way to reduce crime than spending on increased police presence.

The researchers placed an average of seven mobile light towers in each development, affecting an estimated 40,000 residents total. Even when they considered a larger two-block radius around each development, in case criminals shifted their activity to avoid the lights, they found a reduction of at least 36 percent.

City neighborhoods that emptied out of white people in the 60s and 70s also emptied out of services. Cities don’t repair potholes as fast and they don’t plow as much and they certainly don’t pick up litter in places where the residents are unlikely or unable to complain or organize, or be noticed. Where other places get more and brighter lights, more and better services, the streets … look better. Perception, when buying or selling or even just visiting, is everything and half the places that get tagged as “bad” are just … lacking landscaping.

A landlord in my neighborhood would never be able to get away with letting a house rot with plywood and graffiti on it, for example. Why is a landlord six blocks east allowed to? Why do the banks that own half the vacant lots along the train tracks not have to keep them clean and secure and trim the weeds thereupon?

If the streets are dark, covered in trash, the fences are rusting and people who are working three jobs don’t have enough time to be on the phone every day yelling at the city to fix it all, that creates conditions for people to feel like nobody gives a shit about them. Putting more cops on the street to hassle them about sitting on their porches or selling cigarettes or whatever it is we’re shooting people for these days isn’t going to help. Investing is.

Investing in more than just one shiny patch of play equipment, or one nice new building. Investing in the grinding, average, day-to-day stuff that government really has to do because nothing else is big enough. Charity drives and block-club cleanup days are nice but this isn’t a special-occasion thing, this is a “we pay our taxes, pick up the garbage on time” thing.

Increasing the number of building inspectors and adequately lighting dark places and supporting the things that create community elsewhere — libraries, parks — would do what we think rolling up with the Third U.S. Army would. Resurfacing every alley that floods when it rains. Fixing the stoplights. Making it clear: People care about this place, so think twice about tearing it down.

And yes, city services are also often weaponized against the poor, so hardship exceptions to things like “peeling paint” should be made when the owner of the home is a 90-year-old whose grandson said he’d fix it three weeks ago and can’t get off work until Sunday. But there’s no reason to let some out-of-town management company skimp on mowing the lawns of the apartments they own. There’s no reason to allow long-term vacant properties to become eyesores without extracting the kinds of fines and fees usually aimed at people whose nosy neighbors are mad they don’t mow the lawn enough.

This isn’t just cosmetic. People die in house fires when cities don’t crack down on occupancy limits in apartments and require landlords to upgrade their fire safety plans. Heat and cold kill people every summer and winter because there’s no safe place to go to warm up and cool off. If I can’t walk down the street without stepping over a hundred pieces of broken glass then the next person who doesn’t see one is going to cut their foot open. Have to go to the hospital. Miss a day of work. Get fired. Lose their home.

There are all these tiny things that cause cascading waterfalls of misery and we can fix some of them by just goddamn cleaning the place up.

A.

Journalism for the Consumer Class

It’s news YOU CAN USE!

It’s not that journalists don’t know how to provide actionable information; we do this all the time, just only for certain people. In the era of paid-referral links, many of our most respected news sources have put journalists to work on a kind of information-concierge service for the consumer class, offering detailed recommendations for the best standing desks and smart-home appliances, but little health advice for those who work all day on their feet or juggle bills to make rent. We hear a chorus of hot tips for “smarter living,” and near silence on how to survive in America. The economist James Hamilton put it well in a panel at ONA last year, “There is no Wirecutter for the poor.”

City Bureau is doing massively important work in Chicago and I love everything about how they do it. For the longest time the bigger papers covered certain neighborhoods and didn’t cover others and everybody pretended it was the fault of people in those neighborhoods for not buying the paper, ie we’ll cover it when we have readers there. Well, the internet did do one thing to journalism which was to upend the idea that you only want to read about shit going on literally next door and then only if it winds up on your porch.

Advertisers and city leader-types always resented the shit out of stories that made “their” town look bad, like no, our schools are perfect and our housing stock is of the highest caliber and so what if people are dying from preventable environmental causes or shooting each other, you’re making us look bad! And so the coverage shifts, bit by bit, to the people the EIC’s wife knows from her book club, and the things they care about.

Consumer journalism has its place but as people have less and less money to consume, it’s incumbent upon journalism to, you know, at least know how to do something else. I can’t tell you how many local TV newscasts have this “news YOU can use” or “fighting for YOU” segment where they deal with a customer service department for someone.

It’s fine, I guess, I’m glad Mrs. Peters got her cable bill sorted out but can we please also cover a system that persistently outsources every single aspect of service such that unless you have a large Twitter following or a TV station at your back you can’t get anyone to listen to you? We spend half our lives screaming at machines, like Alexa, dismantle late capitalism please.

Journalism should be useful, but what is useful to someone who has no money for rent in a segment about Amazon Prime Day? Or Black Friday? What is useful about one person getting their insurance company to listen to them if there are thousands who can’t be heard?

I really don’t love the implication that the only kind of news you can “use” is something that affects what you can buy. Voting information is news you can use. Crime reports are news you can use. Political and policy debates involve news you can “use” to live your life in a goddamn democracy, let’s really get crazy here. Once you accept the premise that ALL news is useful you really start to see what can be done.

Kids in cages is news you can use, to let them out.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Muslim women are playing polo and kicking ass:

A.

Quote Of The Day: Farage Barrage Edition

I couldn’t resist reviving my post-Brexit vote meme before moving on to slap Nigel Farage about. On with the show, this is it.

Farage paid a visit to Sydney, Australia and trashed the royals to a group of Ozzie wingnuts

The Brexit party leader was laudatory about the Queen – “an amazing, awe-inspiring woman, we’re bloody lucky to have her” – but abused her son, grandson and mother.

“When it comes to her son, when it comes to Charlie Boy and climate change, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Her mother, Her Royal Highness the Queen’s mother was a slightly overweight, chain-smoking gin drinker who lived to 101 years old. All I can say is Charlie Boy is now in his 70s … may the Queen live a very, very long time.”

I remember when British right-wingers were royalists. Additionally, the Queen Mum has been dead for seventeen years so one would think the Insult Comedian UK would let her rest in peace. Shorter Adrastos: Stay mum about the dead Queen Mum.

Farage also indulged in a bit of sexism and racism by going after Meghan Markle and her prince:

“Terrifying! Here was Harry, here he was this young, brave, boisterous, all male, getting into trouble, turning up at stag parties inappropriately dressed, drinking too much and causing all sorts of mayhem. And then, a brave British officer who did his bit in Afghanistan. He was the most popular royal of a younger generation that we’ve seen for 100 years.

“And then he met Meghan Markle, and it’s fallen off a cliff. We’ve been told in the last week that Meghan and Harry will only have two children … and we’re all completely ignoring, the real problem the Earth faces, and that is the fact the population of the globe is exploding but no one dares talk about it, no one dares deal with it, and whether Prince Harry has two kids is irrelevant given there are now 2.6 billion Chinese and Indians on this Earth.”

Remember the good old days when Harry did shit like this?

According to the Farage barrage, Harry’s soul has been hijacked by his harridan wife who has succeeded in “pussy whipping” him. And making matters worse to the bigoted Farage, she’s a woman of color and an actress to boot. Scary, scary, scary. The only trick he missed was using the Empire era slur, WOG. I guess that proves that Nigel doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. Now where have I heard that before?

I posted this Farage barrage as a reminder that other country’s politics have also gone to hell in an increasingly overcrowded handbag. And Nigel is only UK clown number two: Boris Johnson is prime minister. Bigotry is as big in Blighty as at the White House. Oy just oy.

As an antidote to Nigel’s awfulness, the last word goes to the Kinks: