Monthly Archives: August 2019

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lament For The Numb

Pandora’s Box by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a rough summer in New Orleans. I’m ready for it to end without another flash flood or tropical system. That remains to be seen but one thing is certain: the heat will persist until early October. I’m hoping  my ennui will not.

Thanks, Ashley. I needed that. FYYFF.

We’re staying Down Under with this week’s theme song. Kiwi rock deity Dave Dobbyn wrote  Lament For The Numb for the 1993 album of that name. But it applies equally to America circa 2019. We’re all numb from the antics of our idiot president*.

Here’s another Dave Dobbyn song. It has no deep social significance. I just like it:

Now that we’ve gotten numb and danced with the belle of the ball, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Wicked & Cruel

Keeping up with the Trump Regime’s scandals and misdeeds is exhausting. Another shoe or empty umbrella drops every day. The Insult Comedian is not an ideologue, unless self-love counts, but the administration is honeycombed with Teabaggers bound and determined to dismantle the regulatory state. They should be bound and gagged instead, but it’s unclear if there’s enough rope and duct tape to get the job done. We’re swimming in a sea of malakatude, y’all.

The worst thing done by Team Trump recently is the repellent and inhumane effort to run sick immigrant children and their parents out of the country. Kindly Doc Maddow has been all over this story and the NYT chimed in yesterday with a story about Maria Bueso who is suffering from a rare genetic disease:

Now 24, Ms. Bueso, who had been told she likely would not live past adolescence, has participated in several medical studies. She has won awards for her advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases, appearing before lawmakers in Washington and in Sacramento. Over the years, her parents have paid for the treatment that keeps her alive with private medical insurance.

But last week, Ms. Bueso received a letter from the United States government that told her she would face deportation if she did not leave the country within 33 days, an order described by her doctor, lawyer and mother as tantamount to a “death sentence.”

This moves beyond cruelty into the realm of sadism. In this case, Maria Bueso and her family are assets to the community and are paying their own way. This makes no sense in a rational and humane world but perfect sense in the twisted world view of President* Pennywise and his barbaric henchman Steven Miller. Their goal is to deter immigration both legal and illegal. That gives them the power of life and death over people such as Maria Bueso. How can anyone be so wicked and cruel?

Making matters worse, Team Trump has once again formulated a policy without an action plan. The White House has dumped this responsibility on DHS but it’s unclear who’s in charge, which reminds me of this line by late Gret Stet Senator Russel Long:

Maria Bueso is not the only victim of the Trump Regime’s eerie combination of incompetence and cruelty but her case is perhaps the most dramatic. She will die if she is cut off from her current treatment. What’s next? A Eugenics revival? This is the path that the Trump-Miller junta is leading us down. It’s government by malice and impulse. How can anyone be so wicked and cruel?

The wicked and cruel refrain and post title is inspired by a Difford and Tlbrook song. Squeeze gets the last word:

Friday Catblogging: The Bow Tie Is Back

Paul Drake’s old bow tie/bell collar vanished a while back so he’s been naked. We’ve finally remedied that because he’s once again interested in bolting out the front door. The bell is an early warning system, the bow tie is purely decorative.

The last word goes to the Mothers Of Invention:

 

Extra! Extra! Screed all about it!

My HD65 rep Michelle Beckley (along with other Texas Democrats who were part of the Blue Wave that kicked out a crapload of right-wing nutcases from the Texas legislature in the last election)  has been pushing for gun registration/background check/red flag  legislation, but in this State, it’s an uphill battle.  My personal views?

First of all – I’m a gun owner.
.
I own a Glock G21 handgun, a single-shot .22 that
belonged to my Grandfather, and a .410 that was used
in my days as a ranch hand to dispatch armadillo, and
put rabbits, duck, and pheasant on the table.
.
I also trained with M1 Garand and the original M16
jam-o-matic in my Allen Military Academy days.
I shot marksman with the 1911 – with both hands.
So let’s just disarm (see what I did there?) the “You want to take
away all our guns because you HATE THEM” trope right now.
.
I have as much use for a modified (full-auto and burst
settings disabled) assault rifle as I do for a
flamethrower or hand grenade. And unless you are in
the military, a police SWAT team, or are planning to kill a whole
shitload of innocent people, neither do you.
.
It’s a bit like someone with a Piper Cherokee saying
that people want to take away his plane, just because
you can’t buy a non-demilled A10 Warthog.
.
Ain’t the same thing, numbnuts.
.
ShallNot
Tagged , ,

The Spirit Of ’05 Revisited

Root Beer Blues. Photograph by Dr. A.

Last year I decided to do something different on the Katrinaversary. I’m posting it again on the 14th anniversary:

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

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

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

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

Cajun Tomb. Photograph by Dr. A.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet Another This-Is-Not-Normal Post

jon_mcnaughton_trump_pennywise

Heading out of town for a few days, so apologies for more repeating a common theme than coming up with anything new. That said, I just keep thinking, what the fucking fuck? It’s now just another news cycle when kids born overseas to US military personnel will have to get registered as citizens (not that I’m a big fan of John McCain, but wouldn’t be surprised if this was just another Trumpian MAGA-t swipe)?…sending deportation notices to families with exemptions based on life-threatening medical conditions (how pro-life of them)? Alleged promises of pardons for bypassing, oh, just actual laws to cater to a ridiculous fantasy border wall that was going to be financed by Mexico? Blatant violations of the Emolument Clause (and the most pathetic learned helplessness reaction from the Democratic Leadership)?

Meanwhile, I’d forgotten Trump’s own sister resigned her federal judgeship to avoid further investigation of financial irregularities (imagine if that was the relative of a Democratic president).

Oh, and then the supposed paper of record published a Tea Party retrospective that was so naively wrong one of their own op-ed columnists called them out (ok, eventually they added a belated correction).

Goddamn.

Bedbugging Out

The bedbug is perhaps the perfect metaphor for the Trump era. The word has certainly been tossed around a lot lately. Failing New York Times columnist Brett Stephens took umbrage over a tweet by a college professor describing him as a bedbug. Stephens famously wrote the George Washington University and ratted out the bedbug guy. They swatted him away like, well, a bedbug.

The Stephens story is bizarre: he’s an anti-Trump right-winger so he’s surely been called worse. His whole “this is language they use in totalitarian regimes” defense rings hollow. Does the NYT require their writers to be easily offended? Stephens is not the only one to have his feelings hurt on the tweeter tube. It’s just twitter, y’all. Nothing that happens there matters.

The bedbug infestation spread to the G-7 where President* Pennywise was hard selling his Miami resort as a site for the next global confab:

The bedbug rumors are bad for the business Trump is trying to drum up:

The bedbug controversy did not discourage Trump from promoting his property for the next G7 even in an apparent violation of rules against profiteering from the presidency.

But the president claimed he won’t profit off the event. “In my opinion I’m not going to make any money,” Trump said. “I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money.”

That may be the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages. The Kaiser of Chaos doesn’t care about making money? Was he under anesthetic after his Doral surgery? Come on, admit it, you knew that pun was coming.

The whole notion of any president profiting off an international summit is obscene. It’s crazy corrupt even for this crazy crooked administration. Holy emoluments clause, Batman.

Trump decided to flip the bedbug thing on its buggy head by turning on Brett Stephens this morning:

I’ve been trying my damnedest not to post the Insult Comedian’s tweets BUT it was necessary to capture the sixth-grader-ness of it all. As always, Trump sounds like a schoolyard bully who’s ready to bolt at the sign of any resistance. Not nice. Believe me.

The White House is going to need fumigation after the Trumpian bedbug infestation ends. They should burn all the mattresses in a dumpster fire worthy of this administration.

I used Trump tossing paper towels in Puerto Rico as the featured image as a reminder that Tropical Storm Dorian is heading in that direction. And that Team Trump stripped money from the  FEMA  budget to pay for their detention/concentration camps. I suspect Puerto Ricans wish Trump had traded their island for Greenland. They could be Danish right now and Denmark would give a toss about their fate unlike the Tosser-In-Chief.

That concludes this edition of Your President* Speaks. Nite, nite, don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Filet Of Soul

For the second straight week, we have a contractual obligation album: Jan & Dean’s 1966 LP Filet Of Soul, which I selected for the punny title. The original record was rejected by the Liberty Records and was not released until 2017 as Filet Of Soul Redux.

Here are the covers side-by-side:

What I’ve heard of both albums is terrible so I’ll spare you any music. Some of the songs are available on the YouTube. I would have rejected the original masters as well. Ugh.

The Capacity

You know the responses that come out to a story like this always, because they come out anytime somebody gets hurt/sick and our health care system flattens them: Well why didn’t he … why didn’t she … what if you had …

It’s all deflection, of course, it’s all plain old animal fear and basic-bitch bargaining, that if I just do everything perfectly no one will get tumors and I’ll stay rich forever, but that doesn’t make it better. It makes it worse. If your only “lifehack” is “have a fuckload of money and an army of personal assistants to take care of the chaos of the world,” like if that’s the only way anything remotely works, that’s not a sign that you alone have your shit together. That’s a sign that the way the world is constructed is only remotely bearable by the very wealthy and everyone else is ten seconds away from being utterly screwed.

Okay, you have “health insurance” that will now pay for 90 percent of your $100,000 cancer treatment bill. Where does the other $10,000 come from? You have health insurance and maybe you even have $10,000, good for you, but that was your down payment on a house in a mostly ok school district and now you’re back in your shitty apartment with no savings and your toddler. You have health insurance and savings and a house but if you take time off work you’ll be fired and then the health insurance goes away and eventually so do the savings and the house. Without a million dollars in the bank and good credit, how do you even DO this? Like this doesn’t make sense.

The smug people who feel like they “made it” on their own before student loans and before hospital consolidations and before, you know, all the GOP tax-cutting, they have no concept of the precariousness of things. Of how taking a half day off can affect the entirety of someone’s future. Of how “a job” isn’t enough anymore, of how “two jobs” sometimes isn’t enough, in the face of a system that dooms you for one step outside the lines.

And it’s not all money. It’s the time that money buys. It’s the capacity to figure out the solution to a problem and you can’t think when you’re in the middle of it, when you’re scrambling to get to the bus that will get you to the train that will get you to the job that will pay for the childcare that allows for the job and the bus and the train fare. You can’t sit back and make strategic decisions about the ongoing juggling act that is your life because if you take your eyes off the balls for even one second you’re going to drop them. Even people with money are like this, can you imagine what it’s like without any?

We don’t have the capacity to make every single decision perfectly, to reason out all the angles and decide if I just set my alarm two seconds earlier I will never miss the bus. I will never accidentally overdraw my checking account and incur a $50 fee I have no way to pay for. I will never forget anything, lose anything, break anything. You can’t live like that, none of us are built that way, and the more things we have to keep track of the less capable we are of keeping track. The more we need help the less room we have inside our heads to ask for it, or get it. I mean, I need six hours on Sunday to do any kind of meal planning and I have no problems anyone should care about, you know?

We do not have a system that is built for people. For poor people, for any people who aren’t wildly rich and incredibly capable and assisted by everyone on the planet. Those assistants? There’s no world that makes their world possible.

A.

No Reason to Make People Choose

Zero versus sum: 

The Green New Deal (GND) remains controversial within much of the labor community, particularly among those in the manufacturing and extractive sectors who fear mass job losses or the dissolution of their entire industries. For them, and for coal miners in particular, the focus is on the idea of a “just transition” — a means of transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy in a way that will create good-paying new jobs and viable career paths, and won’t leave them high and dry when the last mine closes.

The GND resolution does come with a universal jobs guarantee, but the thought of taking job-training classes or switching careers in middle age can be an understandably tough pill to swallow for someone who’s spent their entire working life underground. Despite these real complications, detractors of the GND often resort to the disingenuous, divisive tactic of pitting coal miners against environmentalists, as if it’s a zero-sum political game instead of gambling with the future of the planet. These critics act as though the miners as a monolith don’t care about the climate crisis, which certainly isn’t the case; while some unions still have their reservations, the growing support for the GND among miners and labor in general paints a different picture.

Here’s the thing. You could take what Jeff Bezos blows on lunch and use it to pay every single coal miner currently employed or on pension from a coal company their exact same salary for the rest of their natural lives, thus ensuring that nobody has to lose out when we need to save the dang planet or even move a factory.

There’s no reason why everybody who works someplace has to get screwed when an industry goes under. They wouldn’t even need to “learn to code” or whatever glib shit we’re yelling at people these days. They could retire right now and live lives they enjoyed for a little more than their bosses spend in Vegas brothels on the annual “company retreat.”

So sure, job training and health insurance and support for a career switch if that’s what people want, but let’s be realistic about what people need to live decent lives in the places they live, and just, like, give them that money as part of the cost of saving the earth. There’s no need to overcomplicate this and/or make it seem like a person who’s already their ass off down in the hole should now work even harder at something else for the last 10-15 years of their career.

We’re a very wealthy country and we could afford to say look, we recognize that it is not fair that you have to lose out on your livelihood because the companies you work for have exhausted their usefulness. We recognize that we are asking you to sacrifice more than most in order to change the way we do things, and we can compensate you accordingly.

We could give every coal miner in the United States $1 million for less than it cost to make that Avatar movie. We could afford that tomorrow and I’m tired of pretending we can’t so that people get mad at the Sierra Club or whoever, meanwhile we’re out here nuking the hurricanes.

A.

Donald Trump Is Mentally Ill

Image by Michael F.

I realize I’m preaching to the choir, if, that is, an agnostic has a choir to preach to but that’s an issue for another day. I’ve found that the other posts in what has turned into a series featuring blunt titles-Donald Trump Is A Criminal, and Donald Trump Is A Racist-have made an impact. I promise to get to Donald Trump Is A Misogynist the next time he uses the word nasty to describe a woman who won’t buckle to his will.

I’m not sure if the cause of Trump’s mental illness is organic and degenerative-his father had Alzheimer’s-or a lifelong case of narcissistic personality disorder and/or both. Whatever it is, it makes him the poster boy for the 25th Amendment, which allows an unfit president to be removed from office. The process must start in the executive branch, which is full of sycophants so it’s not going to happen. Hell, it didn’t happen when a drunk Tricky Dick was talking to portraits of dead presidents and he had a cabinet full of heavyweights. Of course, Spiro Agnew as Veep was a deterrent until he resigned in disgrace. Beware of Greeks with bag men.

Last week’s display of lunacy has revived talk of Trump’s mental illness and the story about his wanting to nuke hurricanes is certain to accelerate the concern among rational people that:

I’m an amateur shrink, here’s what a real one, Dr. Lance Dodes, has to say about the madness of King Donald:

He told MSNBC that Trump had “a fundamental need to be all-powerful and all loved and can’t stand challenges.”

“He can’t stand anything that disagrees with him, and the more you challenge him, the more unhinged he becomes, the more paranoid, and the more violent, potentially,” Dodes said

“He doesn’t really love anyone except himself. That’s not a slur, that’s a psychological fact. People like him are about him. If he’s not useful to him, he stops loving him. That’s part of the essential emptiness of Donald Trump. He doesn’t have real relationships with people.”

When Trump looked toward the heavens and bragged about being “the chosen one,” Dodes said it was another example of Trump’s grandiosity.

“There’s something fundamentally different about him from normal people. It’s a psychotic-like state. The more you press him, the more you see how disorganized and empty he is. The more he flies into a disorganized rage.”

White House flacks made like David Letterman and said the “chosen one” comment was just a joke: I halfway expected them to say “that’s why we call him the Insult Comedian.” If it’s a joke, it’s not funny ha-ha, it’s funny strange like the idiotic notion of nuking hurricanes.

Interestingly enough, the APA’s so-called Goldwater Rule was promulgated because of the 1964 GOP nominee’s loose talk about nukes, which led to this Democratic slogan:

The Goldwater Rule rule was wise in Barry’s case because he wasn’t crazy. He was sane enough to urge Nixon to resign in 1974, and I’m old enough to remember when he said this:

“I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”

Barry Goldwater was the John McCain of his generation: a straight-shooting, plain-spoken conservative who was willing to criticize his own party. Holy extinct species, Batman.

Goldwater may not have been crazy but President* Pennywise is. If he weren’t the Current Occupant, I might feel sorry for him but he is so I can’t. He’s a menace.

Repeat after me: THE BOY AIN’T RIGHT.

The last word goes to Aimee Mann with the track that inspired her Mental Illness album:

Luck Out

I like watching others play football. I never wanted to play the sport because it’s painful and I’m not a masochist. That’s why I refuse to judge those who play or when they choose to hang it up. For NFL players, it should be called working football, not playing. It’s hard and dangerous work.

That brings me to the case of recently retired Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck. Luck is only 29 but here’s a litany of the injuries he’s suffered as a pro:

… a lacerated kidney, injured ribs, at least one concussion, torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder and, most recently, a calf and ankle injury.

His retirement leaked during a preseason game and Luck was booed mightily by his Hoosier fan base. He was also attacked by observers for lacking the intestinal fortitude to take a beating for a living:

This bozo is a Fox Sports loudmouth. Thanks for trotting out an imbecilic generational cliche, fuckhead. I’m on the record as hating generational stereotypes:

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.”

Perhaps Mr. Fox Sports Loudmouth envies Luck for attending Stanford and having done more than play football. It’s his body and his choice to retire. Playing pro football is a tough way to make a living, talking about it is easy. Watching it and judging the players on their “toughness” is easier still.

It’s easy to see football players as gladiators but they’re people, not chess pieces. I don’t know about you but I’m not fond of pain. I’ve had to live with minor aches and pains for most of my life. I cannot imagine having a lacerated kidney and continuing with the activity that caused such an injury. If that means I can’t “man up” sufficiently, so be it.

The reaction to Luck’s retirement is particularly horrific because we’ve learned so much about the deleterious impact playing pro football has on the players. If Luck wants to walk away from the sport while can still walk, that’s his choice; just as it’s Drew Brees’ choice to keep playing at age 40. It’s up to the players, not the fans or sportscasters. They don’t feel the players pain, they just think they do.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Short and Sour edition

Well, kids – yours truly appears to be the guy who was rescued from the house fire and runs back in the burning building.

Maybe if I just ease back in…

POLITICS DONALD TRUMP’S APPROVAL RATING SLIDES TO 36%, THE LOWEST IT’S BEEN SINCE JANUARY (BARF)
Newsweek ^ | 8/22/19 | Asher Stockler

Posted on 8/22/2019, 7:41:16 PM by Maceman

Amid numerous political scandals and an unfurling trade war with China that shows little sign of de-escalation, President Donald Trump lacks the broad confidence of the American public, according to a new AP-NORC poll.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job, compared with 36 percent who approve. Predictably, the partisan divides swing favorably or unfavorably towards the president depending on political affiliation. But, notably, the coveted class of self-identified political independents remains opposed to the president, with 65 percent disapproving of the way he is handling his job.

Trump’s approval ratings have not been this low in the monthly AP-NORC survey since January.

While many of the conflicts and controversies that have emerged in recent months pertain to the trade war and Trump’s management of the economy — including a warning sign that a recession may be on the horizon due to a metric known as the inverted yield curve — the public has not been scared off by the president’s economic stewardship. Fifty-one percent disapprove of his handling of the economy, and 46 percent approve. Though this is a net negative rating, it indicates the public is largely divided on the matter, and represents Trump’s highest job approval rating for any category measured in the AP-NORC poll.

*************************

Please don’t be one of those Freepers who replies: “Why post this?”I posted it because we need to know what’s out there, even if it is from the far left propaganda media.

1 posted on 8/22/2019, 7:41:16 PM by Maceman
Um – then why did you add “BARF” to the headline?
.
Corporate policy?

To: Maceman

 

Newsweak polled both of their paid subscribers.

2 posted on 8/22/2019, 7:42:19 PM by E. Pluribus Unum (“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”)

Um – no, but thanks for playing.
.
.
Come on now – surely someone here in Freeperville actually READ the article and noted the polling methodology?
To: Maceman

 

Where did they do the poll? Gay bars and bath houses?

25 posted on 8/22/2019, 8:42:52 PM by sport

Forget I asked.
.
And from the “It might be true, but I don’t give a fuck” department :
To: Maceman

 

Even IF it were true….I’d rather have a leader that leads with conviction then whats palatable to the media.

24 posted on 8/22/2019, 8:41:54 PM by patriot torch

Gotcha.
.
One more shortie after the thingummybob ….
.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Private Equity is Doing to Digital What They Did to Newspapers

This is a familiar tune: 

This man is not the adult in the room at the former Gawker Media, just as Kendall Roy was not the adult in the room at Vaulter and Alden Global Capital executives are not the adult in the room at any of the 100 newspapers they are destroying. Sending a copied-and-pasted company handbook, issuing vague edicts about becoming sites for “enthusiasts,” and making inexplicable changes for the sake of making changes are the professional equivalent of a small boy dressing up in his father’s suit: He is role-playing, deluding himself but no one else.

The editors and writers and video producers and artists and sales reps and product managers and so on—the people who made this a successful company while also making it the best place I can imagine working—are its actual leaders, and the reason that, despite it all, these websites will continue writing things the rest of us want to read. But none of those people are the richest person here, which means they will keep succeeding despite—not because of—the man who is. He doesn’t know what they know; he doesn’t have to know. No one like him does.

It’s almost like the problem isn’t the format or the “business model” but the idiots running the things. It’s almost like you can send your news out on the internet or publish it on someone else’s platform or print it out on pulped-up dead trees but either way if you take all the money you make and give it to anything but the news you’re screwed in the end.

If you spend a bazillion dollars on real estate. If you rob the place blind. If you care more about double-digit profit margins than getting the paper on the porch or making the site good. If you refuse to pay for journalism, if you spend all your time screwing with journalists, you’re not going to be successful and there’s only so long you can get away with blaming your customers for not liking the thing you made suck on purpose.

I’m not happy that we’re finally paying attention to this shit 20 years too late to save the institutions that could have saved us. There’s a direct line between the ongoing decimation of local news and the rise of what all our thought leaders are calling “post-truth America” and everybody acted like it was just the weather, like it just happened to us. Like it wasn’t done on purpose to immense profit for the worst people in America and like the only people screaming about it 15 years ago were steadily ignored until the pattern repeated itself online.

And lest anyone think I’m letting my own generation of newspaper journos off the hook for missing the real story about their own demise, far, far too many of us took management’s subtle encouragement to hate the internet and Kids Today and journos younger than we were for destroying the industry that management was gleefully skullfucking in the boardroom while we fought amongst ourselves.

Far too many of us spent our days grumbling about younger reporters just out of college “taking” jobs from veterans, as if that 23-year-old Mizzou grad is the one who refused to give Howie a decent raise or offered Cheryl a buyout after her health insurance got too pricey.

Meanwhile, they blew all their money on sex offenders and rebranding. 

It shouldn’t have taken another generation of journalists having their careers destroyed for us to finally notice it wasn’t the Kids or the Internet or the “digital paradigm” or the union distribution drivers who were the problem with news. It was always the people running the thing being total idiots because failure is just as profitable for them as success and has zero consequences.

They could fuck up a baked potato and we gave them the keys to half of Idaho after they told us that famine in Ireland was just some kind of fluke.

A.

 

The Completely Predictable Podcast ‘Revolution’

What a load, but then this is how it always works: 

It’s that sort of flawed logic that drives the podcast community up a wall. To whatever degree this medium ever enjoyed a meritocracy, increased monetization strips it away by default and by design. O’Brien was offered seven figures on the assumption that he’d produce a strong podcast—a correct assumption, but in sharp contrast with even the heaviest hitters of the medium, who must always work twice as hard to prove what they’ve done for us lately.

I remember when Politico launched, and everyone acted like these two plucky boys from nowhere were going to pool their milk money and start them up a gol-darn blog! They were going to make a news “site” on the “internets” and it would report on politics, which was something no one had ever heard of in the year of our Lord Jesus Tits 2007.

That there were thousands of political blogs online by then didn’t stop everyone from being like POLITICO INVENTED A BLOG and I’m not surprised to see the same dynamic at work with podcasting, which underpaid/volunteer workers have been doing for free for years only to see money and promotion lavished upon someone who doesn’t need either. Conan seems fine and people really seem to like podcasts and whatever, honestly, but acting like a successful rich person is some kind of self-made man with a microphone in his basement talkin’ hard is not helpful to the media conversation right now.

This isn’t how stuff gets done. This is why everyone’s mad all the time. Because the idea was you work hard and build something and you get rewarded for it, and instead you work had and build something and then somebody who already has a squillion dollars comes along and does the same thing and everyone is like GET A LOAD OF EINSTEIN OVER HERE WITH THE PODCAST, no one ever thought of one of those before.

A.

 

Not Everything Sucks

National Farmworkers Week exists: 

Now in its third year, the event helps mark National Farmworker Appreciation Day, which takes place Aug. 6 each year.

It’s an event that’s dear to Jaime Valero. Valero, workforce consultant at the organization, worked in the fields after school starting in seventh grade.

Farmworkers’ contributions to the community extend beyond the field, he said, and the work they do deserves appreciation.

“It’s how everybody eats. Onions are a big cash crop here and the workers make money and then use that money in this area,” said Valero.

Appreciate the people who make your food possible.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Etta James Live In 1991

If you need some pep in your step, this set by the great Etta James should do the trick:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Deeper Water

Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

Since we have something of a nautical-as opposed to naughty-theme I thought we’d dive right in without any dockside formalities. I won’t invite you into my stateroom because this might happen:

I would never take a cruise. The thought of doing so reminds me of the not so great Poop Cruise of 2013. Hell, I get seasick contemplating the Winslow Homer painting above.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly is often called the Bob Dylan of Australia but he never broke through stateside. Kelly co-wrote Deeper Water in 1994 with Randy Jacobs of Was (Not Was) in case you was (not was) wondering.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. First, the 1995 studio version that was the title track of Kelly’s tenth album. Second, a 2013 live version from a show Kelly did with Neil Finn. For some reason it’s listed as Deep Water but it’s the same tune. Wow, that’s deep, man.

I hope we’re not in over our heads. Let’s mount the diving board and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Jay Inslee Is Out, The Other Joe Walsh Is In

Regular readers will recall that I used this image of Harold Lloyd in Safety Last to count down the 2018 mid-terms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

Since American democracy is hanging by a thread as long as President* Pennywise is in office, it seemed fitting to re-purpose it for 2020. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of the presidential race.

OUTS: Jay Inslee exited the race with the same class, grace, and substance that he entered it. His focus on the crucial issue of climate change made a positive impact and prodded the leaders of the pack to respond. He was always my favorite among the no-hopers. I’m glad he’ll be running for re-election for Governor of Washington state.

Seth Moulton pulled out after I wrote the post title. His impact was minimal. It struck me as a vanity campaign, which like that of Tim Ryan was essentially an extended fuck you to Speaker Pelosi. He can return to the Hill to annoy Nancy Smash. My hunch is that he’ll be joined by Ryan sooner as opposed to later.

The presidential race knocked the former Governor of Colorado for a Hickenlooper so he exited. He just declared his candidacy to challenge the most vulnerable Senate GOPer, Corey Gardner, thereby morphing from a political minnow to a whale.

The last word of the segment goes to Stephen Stills and Manassas, which is in Virginia but the song is about Hickenlooper’s home state. Go figure:

INS: The Other Joe Walsh came to our attention as an unhinged Tea Party Republican. He served one term in the House before losing to Tammy Duckworth who is now the junior Senator from Illinois. Walsh is a strident opponent of Barack Obama turned strident opponent of Donald Trump. His twitter feed is highly entertaining.

The Other Joe Walsh is on the verge of entering the presidential race where he’ll join Bill Weld as a GOP no-hoper. I still think Weld will do fairly well in New Hampshire but I welcome anyone who’s willing take on Trump from the right. Thus far, the Never Trump Republicans have been all talk, no action.

I like what Slate’s Jim Newell wrote about the GOP “race” in The Surge:

Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford, Jeff Flake, John Kasich

Let’s get slaughtered and be legends.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re cheating by lumping four candidates together. But (a) the greatest trick the Surge ever pulled was convincing you there were rules, and (b) each of these four Republicans considering a primary challenge to President Donald Trump amounts to roughly ¼ of a legitimate presidential contender, so the math checks out. As the Washington Post reported this week, “the anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party—long a political wasteland—is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it’s too late.” This “movement,” which appears to be the usual gang of Bill Kristol and a couple of his interns, has been displeased with the lack of enthusiasm out there for the existing Republican primary challenger, boring patrician Bill Weld, and is working the phones for a new candidate to also elicit zero enthusiasm. The idea is that only one of them should run to unify the anti-Trump conservatives. Much like Weld, though, this idea is boring and makes the primary challenge easier for Trump to ignore. All of them should get in, and there should be televised Republican primary debates, tempting Trump to participate.

The Insult Comedian loves shooting off his big fat bazoo and showing off his “very good brain” so that’s actually a possibility. Run, Republicans, run.

The last word goes to the Real Joe Walsh:

Tweet Of The Day: Grim Reaper Edition

Tea Party tycoon David Koch is dead. I was raised not to speak ill of the dead so I’ll let lawyer and pundit Elie Mystal do it for me:

The last word goes to Blue Oyster Cult: