Monthly Archives: October 2019

Gret Stet Goober Race Update

I’ve haven’t written much about the Louisiana Governor’s race here for a couple of reasons. First, my Gret Stet ramblings are on display at the Bayou Brief nowadays. Second, the race is depressing for a variety of reasons that I’ll describe below.

In 2015, I was enthusiastic about the candidacy of Blue Dog Democrat John Bel Edwards. Why? He was running against David Vitter who, while good for the satire biz, scared the shit out of me as a potential Gret Stet Goober. When Edwards won, he became a dragon slayer. I am still grateful for that.

Edwards’ record as Governor has been fairly good. He undid some of the damage done by Bobby Jindal to state government with Medicaid expansion being his greatest accomplishment.

As he approached re-election, Edwards has moved steadily to the right capped off by the horrible abortion bill he signed in May. Here’s what I said earlier this month about Edwards and reproductive rights at the Bayou Brief:

I voted for Edwards in 2015 knowing that he was anti-choice. If he was a no-exceptions right to lifer then, I did not want to know: he was the anti-Vitter. I assumed that such a basically decent man would have the same position as former Governor Blanco and other Blue Dogs. I was wrong. These are darker times and the so-called pro-life right believes they can realize their dream of reversing Roe in one fell swoop. Their dream is my nightmare.

In 2019, I am strictly a clothespin voter in the Governor’s race. Team Edwards is so terrified of Louisiana Trumpers that they’ve taken the Democratic base for granted.  That hurt them in the primary: African American voter turnout was low. If they can’t fix that, Louisiana is in a fix.

The fix is Republican candidate Eddie Rispone. His platform consists of three words: Trump, Trump, Trump. He’s an ignorant rich dude who recites the same buzz words repeatedly: conservative, businessman, outsider, and his greatest hit, Trump, Trumpity, Trump.

Rispone is an insider posing as an outsider and a know-nothing posing as a know-it-all. In last night’s debate, he could not explain WHY he wants a constitutional convention. If elected, he will be the most ignorant Governor since singer-actor Jimmie Davis who is best known for buying and slapping his name on the song You Are My Sunshine as well as his staunch defense of segregation in the early Sixties.

The power behind Rispone is contractor Lane Grigsby who my Bayou Brief colleague Sue Lincoln dubbed The Great Grigsby. His goal seems to be to Trumpify, Kochify, and re-Jindalize state government. Rispone is his dim and sporadically genial front man.

Dr. A declined to watch last night’s Edwards-Rispone debate live and, as usual, she was right. I watched it later and found it depressing. The moderators sucked as did the candidates. It was Rispone’s only run-off debate and his performance was dismal. It was the battle of the unprepared vs. the overprepared, Governor Edwards who came off as a smug dick. It scares me that I like former Governor Mike Foster more than either of these bozos. And I never voted for the man that Clancy DuBos dubbed Governor Warbucks.

Eddie Rispone was so bad in the debate that he reminded me why I’m voting for Edwards. Both candidates suck but Rispone sucks harder. His best bet is to nationalize the race by making it about the Insult Comedian. The Governor’s best bet is to keep it local by making it about PBJ. It boils down to Trump vs. Jindal. Is it any wonder that I’m bummed out about this race?

Voting for the lesser of two evils is the adult thing to do but it’s not a helluva lot of fun. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

The last word goes to Wilco with a song that I’ll be singing on November 16th:

 

Smells Like Teen Spirit Vlad Putin

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Ukrainegate (Vladgate? Vodagate? whatever, take your pick) officially reached bizarro if not shady status with the adding of former Loosiana [sic] US Representative and coulda-been-Speaker-of-the-House but for his own personal issues/failings Bob Livingston to the mix.

Livingston, for those who’ve forgotten, was one of many who displayed a fine sense of hypocrisy in wagging a finger at Bill Clinton, only to be exposed for similar behavior.

Holding to the same standards in his professional life after resigning from Congress — like plenty of other Republicans — Bob showed just how much he hated Warshington by staying there and becoming a high-end lobbyist, representing clients like Turkey and Egypt.

Turns out Mr. Livingston is also pushing Vlad’s line about Ukraine and/or the then ambassador of Ukraine being the REAL problem, adding in the Democratic Party just because, and topping it with an extra scoop of George Soros, because, hey, if you’re going all-in, why not add a dollop or two of anti-Semitism to (jack) boot?

Funny how all roads lead to Vlad…

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Halloween Tree

It’s time for another seasonal book cover. The Halloween Tree is a 1972 fantasy novel that Ray Bradbury later adapted for an animated teevee flick. The cover is by Bradbury’s frequent collaborator Joseph Mugnaini.

The Latest Smear Campaign

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman is a dream witness. All of the legal commentators have been cooing over him. As the first witness to have first-hand knowledge of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, he’s one of the most important figures to emerge in the impeachment inquiry. Vindman is now one of the leading figures in what Jonathan Alter has called the “patriotic surge” of national security professionals testifying against Trump.

One side’s dream witness is the other side’s nightmare. You’ve heard about the smears so I won’t repeat them here. Suffice it to say pro-Trump pundits and media outlets have launched a xenophobic, bigoted, mendacious, and moronic assault on Vindman. They’re like monkeys throwing shit against the wall, hoping that some of it will stick. It’s what they do. They’ve been doing it for a long time.

The MSM has presented  as heroes the few GOPers who have expressed qualms about the attacks on a decorated military man. I call bullshit. Do I need to remind people about Liz Cheney’s deranged daddy? You know, the guy who sounded sane because he spoke in a monotone but was a batshit crazy chickenhawk who benefited from smears against those who served. Dick Cheney supported the Vietnam War but didn’t serve because he had “other priorities.” John Kerry opposed the war but served anyway.

In addition to calling bullshit on elected GOPers who were shocked, shocked by the Vindman smear, Charlie Pierce took on the Never Trumpers:

Where, for example, were the Never Trump concerns about slandering war heroes in 2002, when wounded veteran Max Cleland was slandered as a terrorist sympathizer by Republicans in support of Saxby Chambliss—a campaign, it should be noted, advised by current Never Trump hero Rick Wilson? (It was so bad that Republican senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran himself, threatened to come to Georgia and campaign for Cleland if the Chambliss campaign didn’t knock it off.) Where were they when the Swift Boats sailed in 2004? Where were they in New York at the 2004 Republican National Convention? Did they upbraid the people with the Purple Heart Band-Aids? Did they say squat about slandering that decorated war hero in the years between John Kerry’s defeat and Donald Trump’s victory? If they did, I didn’t hear it.

The sainted Rick Wilson? The guy who presumes to give advice to Democrats on how to do politics? Wilson *is* funny but anyone who was involved with the disgusting smear of Max Cleland should be shunned unless and until they issue a grovelling apology, which Wilson thus far hasn’t done.

Thanks to Charlie for pointing out Wilson’s role in the 2002 Georgia Senate race. I did not know Wilson was one of the monkeys throwing shit in that race. Remember that the next time you see him opining on MSNBC.

Wilson claims the Cleland smears weren’t about his “service but his votes.” You be the judge:

I think  calling someone unpatriotic *is* an attack on their service, especially when one  candidate was a disabled veteran and the other a Republican chickenhawk.

Lee Atwater apologized for his smear laden career. Why can’t Rick Wilson?

Paul Barrere, R.I.P.

1984 album cover.

Little Feat guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Paul Barrere has died at the age of 71. Paul was not a founding member of Little Feat but joined in 1972 and brought his passion for New Orleans music to the band. He thrived as co-lead guitarist first with  Lowell George who died in 1979 and later Fred Tackett.

When Little Feat reformed, Paul was the co-leader of the reborn band. I saw their comeback show on the Riverboat President in New Orleans. Both the boat and the band were rocking so hard that I thought we’d sink.

I met Paul several times over the years. He was just as good a person as a musician. Our longest encounter was when I went to Tipitina’s to be an extra in Little Feat’s Things Happen video. We later became Facebook friends and traded the odd message. He was even known to read First Draft and comment to me on occasion. I was honored.

The last time I heard from Paul, he thanked me for placing his song Rad Gumbo at #8 on my Louisiana Tunes list for the Bayou Brief.

Paul Barrere was a nice man and a great musician. He will be sorely missed.

The best tribute to any musician is to play their music. We’ll start off with the aforementioned Things Happen. It’s an audio only track since the video is not online:

Hunting for that video made me hungry:

Next up is Little Feat’s first single after they regrouped:

This tune was written by Paul and keyboard player Bill Payne. It comes from the Dixie Chicken album and features Lowell George on lead vocals:

As a self-confessed weather obsessive, how I can resist posting Texas Twister? Besides, the best Feat is live Feat:

Finally, the Paul and Fred Acoustic duo. Fred Tackett is the fella with a full head of hair:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Songs Our Mummy Taught Us

You’re probably not surprised to hear that I picked this 1959 Halloween novelty album for its punny title. Bob McFadden was an interesting guy: he was best known as a voice-over actor for cartoons and commercials. He was the voice of Milton the Monster and Frankenberry among many others.

The And Dor on Songs Our Mummy Taught Us was folkie/poet/actor Rod McKuen. It’s unclear as to why McKuen used a pseudonym and I’m not interested enough to research it extensively. My hunch is that he was signed to another record label at the time.

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

Punishment is the Point

I wrote this shortly after Trump took office and it remains true even if no one listened: 

 FOR TRUMP means they get to bully right back. FOR TRUMP means they get to tell their liberal sister-in-law that she’s a stupid bitch. FOR TRUMP means instead of respecting a black or brown person, they get to call that person names. FOR TRUMP means they get to turn off that nagging instinct, nurtured by the churches they say mean so much to them, that maybe they should help the big scary world that’s burning down outside their windows. FOR TRUMP means they get to feel like being mad is enough.

I thought of that again reading this:

Like … hold them accountable how? Hold people who don’t like the president accountable? By … re-electing the president they don’t like? I make as many jokes as anyone about how Owned I, a Lib, am all the time by their stupid non-conspiracy conspiracies, but this is truly how performative the GOP and its hate-radio larvae are. They want to be seen to punish people for daring to disrespect Trump. They want to hold people accountable for existing in opposition to someone they like. This is their most sincerely held belief. This is it. This is, in fact, the ballgame.

Don’t just vote against whoever the Democrat puts up. Vote against that person’s supporters. Vote against everyone you don’t like. Vote against everything that annoys or inconveniences you. Vote to hold people who boo a president accountable. It’s so bone-deep and blood-simple, the rage they’ve nurtured and convinced people is some kind of principled stand. Re-elect Trump to hold the people who booed him accountable? You have got to be kidding me.

And this:

Everybody pointed out that they could have been in the hearings all along, which of course they could have been. They know that. That’s not the point. The point is to perform for their audience and goddamn, they did that really well.

We gotta stop acting like we’re gonna point out some blatant hypocrisy and they’ll be like oh, I’m so sorry, you’re right, I didn’t realize I was doing the very thing I’m accusing you of doing, how gauche of me. They don’t care. They know and they know their supporters know, and neither of them gives even one single shit about it because this is fandom, at this point, it’s cosplay, it’s a stage and all they have to do is get the laugh.

It’s why appealing to them through policy is laughable. It’s why arguing the facts is too naive to even be charming. You have to leave the venue. You have to end the discussion. You have to drown out their shouting not with facts in opposition but with your own motivating stories and stop worrying if they listen or not. The ONLY thing you can do is change the subject. The only thing you can do, in the face of someone who just wants to OWN you, is to be somewhere else.

I suggest we start with polling places.

A.

Our Politicians and Pundits Know Nothing About Politics

This was dumb:

This was dumber:

This has got to be some kind of peak dumbass but what fresh hell will today bring?

I mean, honest to Cheeto Christ, it is astonishing how many of these people are listened to on politics when they don’t understand politics very well.

Take Pete up there, for whom I will enthusiastically vote should he be our nominee, and who has unquestionably the best spouse in the entire race. He’s just saying what he thinks he needs to say, which is that he likes a moderate, because moderation is good, and middle of the road is good, and nothing too extreme is good, and the things Everybody Knows are true. He’s doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do, because he’s supposed to do it, and he’s not thinking about Kennedy’s actual decisions or what they mean, he’s thinking about how he sounds, which is Reasonable.

The goal of all our politics, and the past 36 hours of civility garbage inspired by the World Series crowd booing the orange motherfucker, is to make us all feel Reasonable and Good. And that involves Two Sides Respecting Each Other, and Listening, and blah blah fucking blah de fuckity blah.

What a fucking stupid puppet show. What a goddamn embarrassment, a parade of supposed adults on TV and at podiums talking about how it’s beneath us all to upset anyone. What a fucking load. We’re adults and if we can’t disagree without getting heated oh, the fucking earth will just cave right in, won’t it? God forbid anyone raises their voice, or our fragile bodies might just utterly collapse.

I mean do we hear ourselves, middle class white people of mine, with our book clubs and our tote bags and our declarations of friendship for war criminals? Do we hear our selfish screaming need for comfort not only in life, not in where or how we live, but in our goddamn CONVERSATIONS? Do we hear how absolutely chickenshit we sound? “Oooh, I don’t want to, like, ARGUE with you.” Well guess fucking what, we live in a democracy, so if you’re gonna open your cakehole and yell “blue lives matter” at me I’m gonna give you the hiding you so richly deserve.

We don’t get to create this society and then get out of defending and justifying it because doing so is really hard. Land hard and roll, motherfuckers, because if you want to live like this you’d better be ready to own it in the face of the strenuous objections of the people you’re stomping on to do so. You don’t like to watch the president get booed at a baseball game, well, there’s a really easy way to get out of that happening and it’s don’t elect a fucking cheeto-faced fascist who everyone hates.

It’s really not hard. Give up civility as a goal. We’re almost to the holidays, hell, make it a resolution. Civility is not the meaning of things. If people are nice to each other and keep dying, how does that help anyone? We have a limited time on this planet and your comfort isn’t our priority, shit is on fire.

And if you’re not loaded for bear, don’t show up for the hunt, because once upon a time you might have been able to get away with this stuff because nobody wanted to argue. We want to argue now, and we should.

A.

The Sound Of Boobirds

President* Pennywise attended part of a World Series game last night. The Washington Nationals did not invite him so baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is the most likely culprit. He went golfing with the Insult Comedian and Little Lindsey yesterday. Manfred Mann and the Red Baron should sue to get their name back.

Anyway, the fans greeted Trump with boos and catcalls:

I wouldn’t have yelled “lock him up” because it’s unoriginal but I have no problem with those who did unlike the pompous Morning Joe guy:

It’s called exercising your First Amendment free speech rights, Joe. Use it or lose it. The Insult Comedian would prefer the latter.

Here’s the Boss Lady’s take on the civility chorus:

America has a proud tradition of dissing the Chief Magistrate, especially when they’re not magisterial. We’ve held elections during wars for national survival: the Civil War and World War II; in both cases the incumbents were worried they’d lose. The Republic can survive a bit of heckling. The real question is whether it can survive an Insult Comedian with a nutria pelt atop his head.

Here’s an example of lese majeste circa 1974:

I considered making the Morning Joe guy malaka of the week but, as always, went with the better title. Besides, he’s not the only one pearl clutching this morning. I can still, however, call him Malaka Joe. That felt good.

As Americans we have the right to heckle, hector, boo, and even chant “lock him up.” The latter is called sarcasm, which is a tool the Insult Comedian uses all the damn time. It’s all projection which is a tool that the Kaiser of Chaos uses all the damn time. Civility and Trump are strangers. Why should we be polite to this mook? Rudeness is what the fucker understands. Fuck the civility chorus.

Remember when Trump mentioned Al Capone in the same breath as Paul Manafort? I had a ball with that. Capone, of course, was a Cubs fan and attended many games.  Matthew Dowd name dropped Scarface Al:

I’m pretty sure that’s Wrigley Field but the analogy is still apt. At least Capone took his kid to a ballgame, not Matt Gaetz, who’s just a juvenile delinquent.

Speaking of the Cubs:

It *was* Wrigley, not Comiskey. I like being right, as Gore Vidal once said:

This was fun. I got to mock one of my favorite targets, talk baseball, and quote one of my favorite writers. In the end, Trump might want to take this advice from WC Fields, which is not on his tombstone but should be:

That’s bad advice. It’s called irony like anti-Trumpers using a Trump rally chant. They’ll boo anyone or anything in Philadelphia. Philly Boobirds make DC Boobirds look sedate. I’d hate to give Malaka Joe the vapors again.

Repeat after me: heckling at a ballgame is as American as baseball and apple pie.

Finally, a reminder that  the great Tommy T is overheated from wearing a hazmat suit and dealing with the Freeper cesspool. He’s taking a well-deserved break. See ya  in the funny papers, pal.

Sunday Catblogging: Our Heroine

Last week I wrote that post about what a bitch Ada was and how she never shuts up about anything ever, so I basically deserve what happened yesterday.

It had been raining all day so Kick and Mr. A and I took advantage of being forced indoors to clean out closets and prep the house for an onslaught of holiday visitors and figure out where the mates to all our gloves had gone over the summer. The cats get profoundly, comically offended when we clean, as if us moving things is a personal affront to them and they were very, very close to the dust bunnies we just cavalierly hoovered up.

Which is why it took me a while to figure out something was up with Ada. She was yowling. Not her usual “hey, pay attention and pet me” yowling. She was YOWLING. “Hey IDIOTS something is WRONG here” and so I spent a good 60 minutes roaming the house with her at my heels. Was her brother trapped in the bedroom? Had she shoved her mouse under a closed door? Had a critter gotten in somehow? What was happening?

Finally I went down into the basement to see if her food bowl was empty again somehow and the moment I stepped off the bottom step onto the floor … squish.

Our basement had flooded before after a torrential downpour, but the rain yesterday wasn’t anything like that. And this wasn’t really a flood, just a damp-ish spot near one wall. Mr. A and I checked the perimeter of the rest of the basement. Nothing. Just this one spot, and Ada looming above it, meowing her best “YO MORONS WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU” indignancy.

We couldn’t figure out if the water was coming in or up. It didn’t appear to be spreading, so we went outside, walked the perimeter and discovered a whole-ass swimming pool’s worth of filthy rainwater that was backing up because its normal route out was clogged with leaves and roots and dirt. Mr. A and I got flashlights and shovels and a bucket and started digging and bailing, and pretty soon, all was well.

We might have to replace a small spot of carpet pad, but thanks to Ada, that was it. Our heroine, still not ready to stop saying I TOLD YOU SO:

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A.

A Diversity of Views

Do we? Do we need this? 

I’m asking, because I don’t actually grant that we do.

Do we need the “view” that Bill Kristol, however abominable he may be, is a “renegade Jew?”

Do we need the “view” that there exists in the world something called “Big Trans Hate Machine,” somehow granting vast power and influence to people whose right to exist is being legislated right out of existence?

Do we need the “view” that women “just suck at interviews” for tech jobs? Do we need the “view” that Gabby Giffords is a “human shield?” Do we need the “view” that an aide to Hillary Clinton is a “Saudi spy?” That young Muslims in the West are a “ticking time bomb?”

Forget asking if we need them. Are those “views,” even?

Even if they are, who are “we” in this scenario?

I ask these questions because I see a lot of well-meaning people — along with the usual “I’m not fascist, just fingerbanging fascism after class” disingenuous assholes — taken in by this kind of rhetoric. It’s incredibly dangerous to present virulent racism as something that needs promotion lest we, I dunno, miss out.

Like, miss out on what, exactly, without this diversity of views? What does it cost me to not be Skyped into a Klan rally every single second? What is the harm to me in not mainlining every single crackpot manifesto in doomsday prepper sales site comments? What is the lack that that would remedy? Where is the harm to be addressed?

I am not arguing here if Breitbart has a right to exist on the internet. That’s a given, should they find businesses willing to back them in the form of hosting and support. Nazis have always had the right to go off. I’m arguing about taking on faith the need for a “diversity of basically views,” because the people who say such things are the least likely to be able to tell you what in the unholy cornflake-breaded purple fuck it actually means.

What is a view? What is a diversity of them? Why are we better off knowing there are people who think Jews will not replace us, for example, I mean aside from as a cautionary tale? Why is everything due a hearing at equal volume? At what point do we, as a society, the preponderance of us, get to decide that nah, fuck that, this “view” is not welcome in our “diversity” of them?

Define that, and maybe I’ll listen about why we need headlines like “It’s time to get back in the closet.”

Don’t throw the slippery slope in my face, either. If I was standing on the corner accusing George W. Bush of colluding with Trump to rape babies in the utility closet of a KFC I would not EXPECT you to include that view in the diversity of them. I would not expect you to make that a main-stage attraction in your production of Life’s Rich Pageant. Time was, you got a letter to the editor written in purple crayon addressed to the lizard people’s Supreme Gecko, you threw it out. I would expect you to do the same with Brietbart’s contention that Pam Gellar is some kind of visionary political leader.

But then, I haven’t spent the last 40 years bitching and whining that your refusal to hang on my every word is evidence of your evil liberal bias, so I didn’t have a standard playbook I could just switch out a few words in.

Part of this clusterfuck is, of course, the decision to treat Facebook as some sort of public entity whose inclusion and appeasement is non-negotiable, instead of treating it as a private company we can nope the hell out of anytime we want. This is without getting into how publishers are falling all over themselves to pivot into this mess, just like they pivoted into everything from paywalls to hyperlocal to video to chat rooms. These aren’t imperatives. Facebook, and going along with whatever it decides to be, is not an imperative.

A diversity of views isn’t an imperative either, if that diversity includes “would you rather your child had feminism or cancer.” They’re offering “views” in much the same way as the fellow opening his trenchcoat on the subway. There’s no inherent virtue in looking, so stop trying to tell me I owe him my attention so that my views remain diverse.

A.

Not Everything Sucks: Baking Edition

It’s cold and rainy here. You know what that means: It’s gingerbread season, motherfuckers.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes.

Here’s another, which is labor-intensive but results in this fluffy spicy heavenly cake that my little sister used to beg me to make every Christmas.

It’s got all the yum but none of the “ya basic” judgement now shamefully associated with that most heavenly of things, pumpkin spice. Fuck everyone who hates on pumpkin spice, by the way. You can tear my overpriced calorically bloated latte from my cold dead mitten-clad hands, and the same goes for my Pumking beer. I’m sorry you hate joy and love.

A.

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Things We Said Today

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

Fall has finally fallen, fuck yeah. The AC is switched off since it has been in the low to mid 70’s all week. Autumn is a short season in New Orleans so we have to enjoy it while it lasts. I even wore a sweatshirt the other day. Not a big deal where many of you live but after the hottest September on record, I am giddy

In honor of the season, I’m growing a beard for the first time in several years. But if it gets too itchy, I’ll shave it off. Perhaps I should try some hipster beard oil or some such shit. I draw the line at a man bun; not that I have enough hair to have one but if I did, I wouldn’t.

The big local story continues to be the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. They imploded the cranes last Sunday, which made things less bad. We’ll take less bad, y’all.  I’m hoping that City Hall will learn a lesson from this mess and stop letting developers run over them in the future. Real estate developers are the worst.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon & McCartney but it’s more Macca than John. It’s one of my favorite early Beatles songs, yeah, yeah, yeah. Or as Paul would say, WOOOOO.

We have three versions of Things We Said Today for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Dwight Yoakam’s 1997 cover, and a more recent version by New Orleans singer, Debbie Davis.

It’s time to stop talking and jump to the break.

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Friday Night Music: Cloudy Day Music

It’s been a rainy and cloudy day in New Orleans. We have two Jayhawks tunes for your listening pleasure: Mark Olson sings lead on Clouds and Gary Louris on A Break In The Clouds.

 

Frat Boy Tantrum In The House

Both Michael F and I have already commented on the Brooks Brothers Riot reenactment staged by approximately 30 House GOPers. They’re the worst of the worst: Steve King was there, Matt Gaetz was the ringleader, and pizza was delivered to a secure room. Holy security breach, Batman.

Keeping terrible company was the Gret Stet of Louisiana’s own Steve Scalise, House GOP Whip and a man who aspires to be Speaker of the House. What House? Animal House? I’ll have more about Scalise in my Bayou Brief column next week.

The most disturbing aspect of this political tantrum was pointed out by Wired’s Brian Barrett:

So when Gaetz and House minority whip Steve Scalise and their merry band of lawmakers literally barge into a SCIF—they finally left after a five-hour standoff—they’re not just causing a fuss. They’re making a mockery of national security and to a lesser extent putting it at risk. Especially the congressmen who, as numerous outlets have reported, brought their smartphones into the room.

“A SCIF is designed and regulated to be a secure space—and that means keeping out electronic devices that malicious actors can exploit to conduct surveillance,” says Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council. “Bringing those into such a space can cause real national security vulnerabilities. Doing so for a political stunt potentially sacrifices security for partisan points.”

Remember when national security was the GOP’s calling card? It was a major reason they won 5 of 6 presidential elections between 1968 and 1988. Now they’re the pizza party party led by a president* who is Putin’s puppet. Reagan weeps.

Dim Florida Trumper Matt Gaetz has clearly seen too many action movies. He even got his name on the gossip site TMZ:

Gaetz compared his move to the Spartans in the the 2006 movie, “300.” Seriously, you gotta see how pumped he was — we fully expected him to shout, “This … is … Washington!!!”

Apologies for the exclamation points in triplicate, that was the gossip rag, not me. It does, however, point out how juvenile and jejune this frat boy tantrum was.

Gaetz may think that he’s Gerard Butler in 300 but there’s a more apt cinematic analogy:

That’s Gaetz’s DUI mugshot paired with John Belushi as Bluto in Animal House. Apologies to Belushi’s fans and family but Bluto and Matty are peas in a pod. TOGA. TOGA. TOGA.

This stunt was a noisy attempt to distract attention from the devastating testimony of Ambassador William Taylor, which, in a sane world would have led to calls for President* Pennywise’s resignation. This is not a sane world, alas.

If Bill Taylor is so horrible, why did Secretary of State Pompeo personally ask him to go to Ukraine? The GOP’s only answer was a frat boy tantrum in the House. It’s a gross process argument that insults the public’s intelligence; much like Trumpism and Teabaggery.

Allow me to put my lapsed lawyer hat on again. In the impeachment process, the House is like a grand jury and impeachment is like an indictment. They’re at the evidence gathering stage right now: taking depositions to nail down witness testimony. This same process was used by the dread Trey Gowdy during the BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI investigation. It was followed by public hearings. House Democrats are walking in Trey’s footsteps as it were. There will be public hearings, which are akin to a preliminary hearing in the criminal justice system. It’s an imperfect analogy but it’s mine, all mine.

The Senate is the trial court in the impeachment process. Senators sit as jurors and Team Trump will have the right to present a likely ludicrous defense. They should skip the “president* is above the law” argument. It’s not going to fly with lawmakers. It will be much harder to argue process in the Senate and it’s all Republicans have left in their ongoing quest to defend the indefensible.

Back to the House: if 30 is an accurate count of how many House GOPers pitched a frat boy tantrum the other day, that means 167 members did not participate. I hope they’re suitably mortified by this stunt. So much for dignity and decorum. They’re all Bluto now:

Finally, I watched MSNBC yesterday as Elijah Cummings’ body lay in state. The dignified and solemn behavior of House Democrats stood in stark contrast to the petulant antics of Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise, and their epic frat boy tantrum. Dignity and decorum are still alive and well even in the era of Trump.

Friday Catblogging: Undercover

It’s finally cooling off in New Orleans so it’s time for Paul Drake to decamp to the bedroom and investigate the bedding.

It’s Good To Be Fake King

I wrote about Team Trump’s surreal and specious legal arguments two weeks ago. They’re at it again. This time in an appeal of the New York financial records case:

[Manhattan District Attorney General Counsel Carrey ] Dunne brought up Trump’s famous statement when he caught fire during the 2016 Republican primary, saying, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

“If he did pull out a handgun and shoot someone on Fifth Ave,” Dunne asked, “would the local police be restrained?”

“Would we have to wait for impeachment?” he added.

<SNIP>

But when Consovoy retook the podium with his booming voice and somewhat bilious affect, fielding more questions from the court, he doubled down on his argument that congressional, federal, and state bodies are forbidden from investigating a sitting President.

Judge Chin raised Dunne’s point. He asked Consovoy for his “view on the Fifth Avenue example.”

“Local authorities couldn’t investigate, they couldn’t do anything about it?” he asked.

“No,” replied a visibly annoyed Consovoy amid stifled chortles.

“Nothing could be done? That’s your position?” Chin repeated.

“That is correct, that is correct,” Consovoy responded, before qualifying it by saying that a president could be prosecuted after leaving office. He also conceded that documents could be gathered in the course of such an investigation.

Boiled down to its less bilious essence, lawyer Consomme’s argument is that the president* is above the law; that’s some weak-n-watery broth. That argument was called “repugnant” by the trial judge and had courtroom observers laughing yesterday. The only reason it’s funny is that Team Trump’s attempt to take Manhattan is doomed to fail. Before going into details, a brief musical interlude:

The only question is whether the court will rule narrowly and bounce it back to the trial court or write a detailed and scathing opinion. Trump’s lawyers will appeal in either event but the Supremes are unlikely to grant cert on a narrow opinion. But if the Second Circuit is feeling expansive, it would be an excellent test of whether the current court is conservative or radical: only a rabid wingnut could buy Trump’s “l’etat est moi” argument.

It’s a pity that lawyer Consomme didn’t attack the “phony emoluments clause” as part of his case. I’d be interested to see how the SCOTUS originalists  would react to that. Silent Clarence might even speak during an oral arguments on that point.

In other Trumper legal madness, a lawyer for one of Giuliani’s goons, Lev Parnas, claimed executive privilege. Rudy’s bagman was part of Trump’s legal team? This ridiculous argument won’t fly: it’s yet another ploy to buy time.

The most interesting thing about the Giuliani goon case is whether they’ll roll over on Rudy. That, in turn, would force Rudy to contemplate throwing Trump to the wolves. It’s possible. Their relationship has always been transactional as pointed out in a must read piece by Michael Kruse at Politico Magazine.

Trump’s legal strategy, such as it is, is to kick the can down the road. It’s unlikely that his lawyers believe their own argument. The president* is NOT above the law and if he were, such extreme power could not be based on Justice Department memos.

The Kaiser of Chaos *is* stupid enough to believe that he’s above the law after a lifetime of getting away with everything. The courts are unlikely to buy these specious and surreal arguments. If Trump is surprised by this, he’s truly the King of Fools. The last word goes to Dwight Yoakam:

Yeah, I know. The title led you to expect Tom Petty would get the last word. I hate to disappoint my readers:

 

Lèse Tangerine

napoleon_crowns_himself_Trump_800

How’s this for a news cycle?

We’ve got DJT’s lawyer in open court insisting ANY attempt to limit the Le Dauphin is a … HUGE … affront to his dignity and therefore completely off limits (I wonder what Bill Clinton’s thinking?), the Matt Gaetz-Louie Gohmert-even-among-intellectual-lightweights-these-nitwits-stand-out-GOP-MAGAts reprised the Brooks Brothers riot, bypassing the repetition of history first as tragedy, going straight to farce; meanwhile, DJT let us know what he really thinks about William Taylor and Never Trumper GOPers generally (Human Scum — how presidential)…insisted we were building a big, beautiful wall in in Colorado (paid for by New Mexicans?), and claimed Syrian oil as a spoil of war while dismissing the greater Levant as basically a shithole collection of countries.

Oh, and the two Ukrainians indicted for campaign finance fraud claimed executive privilege due to personal association with this POTUS.

In one day.

If he gets re-elected…

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Tales From The Crypt

Horror fortnight continues with two venerable Tales From The Crypt comics featuring stories by Ray Bradbury. I’m trying to class the joint up a bit:

Bush Era Flashbacks

 

Image by Michael F.

Athenae wrote an excellent piece the other day reminding us of the similarities between the last two Republican presidents. The arrogance and incompetence of the Bush presidency is being whitewashed by people who worked for him before joining the punditocracy. W had better manners and used his inside voice more often than the Insult Comedian but his administration was only marginally less mendacious than the Trump regime.

Two things happened today that gave me Bush era flashbacks. First, President* Pennywise gave his very own Mission Accomplished speech. He’s taking credit for a fragile cease fire imposed by Turkey and Russia, declaring victory, and pretending to withdraw from the Middle East. In fact, American troops are being shuffled to Iraq and Saudi Arabia. I was under the impression those were Middle Eastern countries.

Second, House Republicans are staging 2019’s version of the infamous Brooks Brothers Riot of 2000. The only difference is that Roger Stone stage managed the assault of the assholes in Miami. This time around it’s the Gret Stet’s own Steve Scalise. Roger couldn’t make it: he’s awaiting trial.

I don’t mind the Congressional stunt. It’s a noisy process argument and you know what I think of process arguments: THEY’RE LOSERS. It’s what happens when you defend the indefensible.

Another thing Bush and Trump have in common is that both lost the popular vote and were elected because of the archaic electoral college, which has always been a bad trip. It’s time for it to go.

Flashback Wednesday has been a bad trip. Bummer, man.

The last word goes to CSNY: we have all been here before.