Monthly Archives: December 2019

Happy New Year

This one was a motherfucker and next one’s gonna be worse.

Sorry. You here for consolation? Wrong shop, chief.

I wrote this in the wee hours of the morning after Trump’s election, and the fight was barely hours in coming, and we’ve been losing ever since, every day, on everything: Charlottesville, Kavanaugh, Gallagher, abortion, the ACA, the Muslim ban, the border camps, every single fucking day it’s another kick in the guts.

You tired? Anybody here fucking tired?

(We’re all so, so tired.)

They’re counting on us being tired.

Go get a B12 shot, take your stims with a shot of vodka, duct-tape the holes in your shoes. I have nothing to say to you that will make it easier. Bite down on a stick.

Buckle up, bitches. Land hard, roll left. Drink some coffee, pour some whiskey in it if you have to, strap on your knee brace and let’s fucking go.

A.

The Decayed Decade

There’s nothing like the end of a decade to inspire what I like to call Listomania. I succumbed to that temptation at the end of the aughties myself. I’m going to spare you another list after going on and on and on with the Best of Adrastos.

Instead of a list, I’m going to reflect on the downward national political trajectory of the Decayed Decade. I had forgotten that my 2009 list was called Listomania: The Decayed Decade so I’m repeating myself title-wise. Good wordplay is a terrible thing to waste.

The dawn of the 2010’s found us with a Democratic Congress and the first African American president in our history. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, which was a first step in the direction of universal health care. The combination of “death panels, socialized medicine” and racism led to the Tea Party backlash midterm election of 2010.

The 2010 election was just the first backlash against the social changes sweeping the country. It’s not much discussed in 2019 but it opened the door for Trumpism, which is teabaggery without any pretense to principle. The Tea Party wave election dumbed down Congress and brought birtherism to the forefront of the national dialogue, which was capitalized upon by rank opportunists such as the Insult Comedian. The Koch brothers found Trump distasteful, but they set the table for a president* with lousy manners. The Trump regime belches Koch policy preferences without so much as an excuse me:

The political scene got dumber and grosser as the Decayed Decade marched on. Things got so bad in the House of Representatives that Speaker Boner stepped aside in 2015 as he couldn’t control his caucus because of all the yahoos and proto-Trumpers. It’s revealing of our current circumstances than I feel nostalgic for the Cryin’ Ohioan. He at least told the truth as he saw it as opposed to the rank fantasists who currently control the Republican party.

Lies and conspiracy theories became increasingly popular on the right as the Decayed Decade advanced. Democrats and Republicans now live in alternate universes. This is as good a time as any to re-quote a great American:

I wrote about the avalanche of mendacity and bullshit that overwhelmed our political dialogue in a recent post, Sound of Lies. The teabaggers and birthers got the ball rolling, then Fox News and Donald Trump brought mendacity into the mainstream, which is now muddier and more stagnant than a backwater swamp. The word fetid comes to mind.

The backlash was perfected with the 2016 election. The least qualified candidate in American history was elected president* with the help of the Russians and an archaic electoral college system. We’ve had rich businessman candidates before-Wendell Wilkie and Ross Perot spring to mind-but they had longstanding interests in public policy. Wilkie in foreign policy and Perot in the budget deficit. They both brought something to the table: Trump brought nothing but his ego and hollow rhetoric about “the swamp” and “forgotten man.” Both of which he forgot about upon his inauguration.

I don’t have to tell you in detail about the Trump regime’s small-minded and vindictive parade of policy horrors. Suffice it to say they were cooked up by Republican extremists long before Trump was taken seriously as a potential Oval One. Trumpism is Republicanism gone haywire. Extremists such as Stephen Miller realized that Trump was an empty vessel ready to be filled with xenophobic and hateful notions that had been percolating on the far right forever.

The result of the Decayed Decade is a GOP unrecognizable to Eisenhower Republicans such as my late father. They’ve gone so far off the schneid that I believe that Ronald Reagan would find it impossible to vote for the Impeached Insult Comedian in 2020.

A reminder that Reagan was a moderate on immigration and anti-Russian to his core. Putin is a KGB colonel who runs the successor state to the Soviet Union. His goals are indistinguishable from those of pre-Gorbachev Soviet leaders: destruction of NATO and the EU as well as a passion to regain lost territories such as the jewel in the crown of the Russian Empire, Ukraine. It’s called irredentism and Putin has a bad case of it. And Trump has a bad case of loving Putin:

Now that I’ve bummed you out, there are two positive indicators that the Twenties will be better than the Decayed Decade. Images of flappers and Gamaliel are dancing through my head now. The 1920’s roared until they didn’t.

First, the 2018 midterms were a pointed rebuke to the GOP and Trumpism. If not for gerrymandering, the seat pickup would have been greater as Dems won the popular vote by 8 points. For point of reference, the Reagan landslide in 1980 was by the same margin.

Second, impeachment. It shows that Democrats have become battle hardened by three years of resisting Trumpsim. I still hope that some Senate GOPers will vote against the party line BUT impeachment was a major triumph for the resistance. House Democrats did the right thing regardless of the political implications, which I happen to think will be positive. Of course, I’ve been wrong before and will be again. At least I get to call the president* the Impeached Insult Comedian. Thanks, Nancy and Adam.

It’s a relief that the Decayed Decade is just about done. Here’s hoping that the 2020’s will be politically kinder to the country. Who knows: perhaps the Charleston and Lindy-hop will stage a comeback? You never can tell.

The last word goes to Roy Orbison and Squeeze with different tunes titled It’s Over:

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with NextDoor. com – barbarians at the gates edition

Well, people – since I’ve had about enough of Gladys Kravitz’s favourite site (NextDoor) and people who live in a town (Carrollton) that made the list of the safest cities in Texas  constantly complaining about “intruders”, so I decided to post the following in the Nob Hill NextDoor group :

ATTENTION! SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY!!!
Late last night (around 8:00) I noticed suspicious activity in my back alleyway. First, a probable coyote was walking along on the other side of my fenceline, obviously up to no good. If you ignore these vicious predators, they will form gangs and lurk on street corners.

Knowing this, I activated my Ring-a-ding-ding camera’s optional emergency alert system (connected to twin locomotive air horns) to frighten the probable coyote away. This worked, but less than a minute later, someone I didn’t recognize came sauntering down the alleyway calling out for his obvious fellow gang member, “Spot”.

Since the air horns need time to recharge from the air compressor, I called the Carrollton Police department. They took their own sweet time getting here, and approached the probable gang member just as the probable coyote came running to him and lept into his arms and either started eating or licking (lighting was bad) the gangster’s face.

The police started laughing – I assume at me, although I was safe in my fortified danger room monitoring this on the multiple monitors of my Ring-a-ding-ding system. I addressed them through the PA system speakers and demanded that both of these interlopers (obviously in league with each other) be either apprehended or put down immediately.

They replied that it was just a nearby neighbour out looking for his dog, and that Carrollton is one of the safest cities in Texas.

Obviously, the police have been infiltrated by the Deep State, and can no longer be trusted.

I’ll be redoubling my watch, and will be booby-trapping my back gate, garage door, and of course, my front door,

You can’t be too careful these days.

Sorry about no Freeperati post this week, but the lumbar radiculopathy thing has taken a turn for the worse, including a backwards fall off some porch steps. Nothing broken but my pride, but my contribution to the opioid epidemic has increased dramatically.

My contrast MRI is scheduled for Thursday, so hopefully the neurosurgeon will know which nerve roots to burn, and how deep, and do it bloody quick.

Also, “Best Of NextDoor” is now my fave Twitter destination.

And to close out – a real post from my NextDoor group :

Wait for it…..

This guy came by our house around 4:30 on Thursday. The guy was selling security systems. We have one of the city yard signs that warns solicitors about permits and to stay away, so my husband simply told the guy that he better read that sign, then closed the door.

Catastrophe narrowly averted!

.

 

 

Tagged

Not Everything Sucks

Can’t stop the signal: 

Since October, a wave of anti-government protests has swept across Iraq. The protesters represent a cross-section of society and, unusually for a traditionally patriarchal country, women have taken a leading role.

Their prominence is celebrated in murals which have sprung up across the capital, Baghdad.

Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, epicentre of the protests, has been transformed into a hub of creative defiance.

I won’t repost the photos so you have to go to the link to look at them all. They’re gorgeous.

One of the most frustrating things about the post-9/11 discourse was the half-assed discussion on cable news about “the Arab world” as if people aren’t, you know, people, and don’t want the same things. It’s regressive and colonialist and racist, and all you have to do to disprove it is look at what people have done with the spaces given them. Give people a surface, and we’ll paint you one hell of a picture.

A.

In 2020 Let’s Pivot to Journalism

Wow, nobody’s coming to save journalism, big fucking shock to everyone who isn’t an idiot pretending to be a smart person or a smart person pretending to be Roman Roy: 

“A reckoning” is next, they said. Publishers regret undervaluing their own audiences in favor of brand-diluting social-first content. While interviews for our earlier reports revealed a willingness to shift strategies and fall in line with platform maneuvers, publishers now believe that they must regain control of their revenue streams and put their own audience interests above platform demands. This means a renewed focus on owned-and-operated properties, where publishers control audience experience, data, and revenue.

Publishers now require far more compelling evidence that platform products will be fruitful for their businesses before agreeing to devote time and staff to them. “A year ago [our attitude was], ‘Hey, why not? Let’s give it a shot. [It’s a] fifty-fifty call,’ ” said one local publisher about participating in new platform-product rollouts. “Now somebody would have to show me pretty clearly that the benefit was likely, rather than fifty-fifty, for me to make the change.”

How is it a revelation that if I’m going to put time and money and resources into something it should be likely to benefit me? How is that some kind of admirable sentiment? Wow, such wisdoms, many wows.

You know, it’s really hard to congratulate publishers on coming to Jesus after they’ve already set all the money on fire and fired everybody. Happy you showed up, I guess, but your predecessors dynamited the place so you’ll pardon us if we don’t throw you a party for getting here now.

I’m angry about this stuff because I saw how much of the destruction happened to newspapers before the mobile Internet really took off, and I’m incandescently enraged about this stuff because in my off-time these days I raise money for a journalism venture and goddamn if every single day somebody isn’t trying to figure out a way to do anything BUT throw money at journalism.

“What if Facebook …”

“What if Google …”

“What if Apple …”

“What if this one consulting firm …”

“What if this spin-off events company …”

“What if this special edition …”

What if YOU, how about? What if you just did what you know needs to be done? What if you just did the work? What if you stopped flailing at every trend you heard about at a conference in the hopes that somehow this would magically become easy, and if you just … got the ten best people you know in a room, and you figured out how to do what you know needs to be done?

I see this screaming all day long, from actual no-shit journalists who should know better: JOURNALISM IS EXPENSIVE. SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER! The former isn’t true and the latter has nothing to do with anything.

Journalism costs money, sure, but it’s not the biggest cash-suck at a media organization, not by any means. CEO bonuses and shareholder dividends and high-end real estate and consultant contracts are expensive. Debt service is expensive. Journalism, compared to those things, is cheap as shit, especially now, when you don’t HAVE TO print it out on dead trees and send tough dirty children to yell READ ALL ABOUT IT.

(You could, and in some cases should, still do that, but you don’t have to.)

Subscribing to your local paper, unless said local is independently owned and operated, just puts more money in the hands of people already acting like hundred dollar bills are the only things with which you can light a fire. Giving money to anything owned by the company formerly known as TRONC is not supporting your local, hard-working journalists, because the ex-TRONCs are taking 75 cents of every dollar and using it to pay off serial sexual harassers and give investors Christmas presents.

The only thing that is going to work going forward is putting all the money toward doing the thing that needs to be done, which is running a news organization. If that’s online, on paper, on TV, whatever, as long as money goes to the journalism. That’s the only thing that’s going to “save” journalism, and it’s about time people figured this out and stopped waiting for some other solution to descend upon them from on high.

Platform initiatives are a bridge for some publishers; for others, however, they’ve become a lifeline. One social media director told the Tow Center, “We absolutely need the money that they’re giving us to innovate, or have a shot at growing our audience, or even [figure] out a path to a subscription strategy. So I am thankful for the money, but I think there’s also some resentment…like, I’m just tired of being at your beck and call.”

No other company is going to have your company’s interests at heart, is the thing. I see so much bitching about Facebook and Google “stealing” or “sucking up” all the ad revenue, as if Facebook and Google somehow owed it to traditional publishers to be dumber, lazier, and poorer than they could be. Far be it from me to defend Zuckerberg or any of his ilk but expecting him to not take advantage of an opportunity is unfair.

You want something stronger, you gotta build it yourself, not just bitch at big tech and yell at your customers and potential customers. Journalists putting a “see, you should pay for this shit, you ungrateful heathens” at the end of every story are pitching their efforts at persuading the wrong people. Direct that sentiment at the boardroom, and if the boardroom won’t listen, direct it to the mirror and found your own fucking newsroom.

Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, it sucks. I wouldn’t be out here yelling this at you if I didn’t know firsthand how hard it is, how much it sucks, and how little sleep it’s possible to survive on. And if anything else in the history of anything had ever just once fucking WORKED, I wouldn’t be out here telling you to get a day job and eat ramen so you can manage an employee buyout at night or whatever if this really means that much to you. If anything else does work, I ain’t seen it yet.

Facebook and Google don’t care. The execs don’t care. The shareholders don’t care as long as they get paid. So therefore it follows that if you’re the one who cares you’re the one who has to do it.

I know so many dedicated journalists out here busting their asses to turn their indie media profitable, to transition legacy presses to nonprofits, to keep nonprofits going, to run investigative shops on their own, to unionize and organize and fight like fuck to keep the lights on, and it’s an insult to their every waking hour to act like there’s any other way to do this.

Build your own good shit. Stop expecting someone else to be the fire brigade and pick up a bucket.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2019

I tried but failed to make this a shorter list.  2019 was a good year for satire and bad year for the country. Hence another Top Fifty list. What can I tell ya? It’s the age of excess.

I put the three Donald Trump Is series posts together at the end of the list. They belong together, what’s a stool without one of its legs?

I give you in chronological order the Best of Adrastos, 2019.

1/03/19: The Wind Cries Willard

1/14/19: The Fog Of Scandal: Worst Case Scenario

1/23/19: Rudy: Confusion Will Be My Epitaph

2/04/19: The Northam Minstrelsy Mess

2/09/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: Fly Like An Eagle

2/11/19: Horrible Bosses

2/20/19: Malaka Of The Week: Goodloe Sutton

3/14/19: Beto’s Big Getaway

3/21/19: Kabuki Feuding

3/26/19: Never Give A Sucker An Even Break

4/03/19: Today On Adrastos’ Obsession With Robert Caro

4/15/19: Axis Of Assholes

4/20/19:  Saturday Odds & Sods: Without You

4/25/19:  Great White Hopes Or Killer Bees?

5/13/19: Memories Of The Muskie Administration

5/29/19: Malaka Of The Week: Megan McCain

5/30/19: Courage

6/01/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: Wooden Ships

6/05/19: Adrastos: Elizabeth Warren For President

6/07/19: Dr. John, R.I.P. 

6/14/19: Della Street, R.I.P.

6/29/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: The Monkey Speaks His Mind

7/06/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: America

7/11/19: The Fog Of History: 1992

7/23/19: Art Neville, R.I.P.

8/09/19: Trumpism Is Hatriotism

8/10/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: Meet On The Ledge

8/16/19: Friday Throwback Catblogging: Cat Hat

8/16/09: President* Pennywise

9/06/19: Drew Brees Agonistes

9/14/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: Dark Star

9/25/19: Impeachment: Where Are We Going Where Have We Been?

9/27/19: Whistleblowin’ In The Wind

10/05/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: You Win Again

10/10/19: The NBA’s Chicom Sitcom

10/21/19: Talking Turkey

10/28/19: The Sound Of Boobirds

11/06/19: Jim Jordan To The Rescue

11/18/19:  Gret Stet Goober Race Wrap Up

11/23/19: Saturday Odds & Sods: Behind The Wall Of Sleep

11/27/19: Rex Meets The Greek Pretender

11/29/19: Waiting For The Spank Electrician

12/02/19:  It’s A Plame Shame

12/06/19: 2020 Candidates In A Word

12/12/19: Sound Of Lies

12/16/19: Regular Order, Irregular Times

The Donald Trump Is Series:

7/17/19: Donald Trump Is A Racist

8/26/19:  Donald Trump Is Mentally Ill

12/04/19: Donald Trump Is A Misogynist

What’s an Odds & Sods post without some music? Here’s the Chairman of the Board with a fitting song:

I might as well let Frank have the last word. He’d insist:

Foggy Day Thoughts

We spent Christmas day with the nonagenarians in Red Stick. I didn’t eat off anyone’s plate this year but still seem to have come down with some sort of bug. I may have caught it from my personal rabbi Jerry who has lived to be 98 without eating any vegetables in the last 50 years.

It’s the time of the year in New Orleans when it gets foggier than hell. It’s not super thick today, but it’s gloomy enough to make me feel dense and dim. Or is that the wee bug I have? Beats the hell outta me.

When we were in Baton Rouge, we stayed at a pretty darn nice hotel on the LSU campus. It adjoins the Alumni Center and is chock-full-o-donor plaques. which is kinda weird at a hotel but what’s not to love about a Shaq plaque?

It’s really more of a lounge than a lodge but who am I to argue with Shaquille O’Neal? I’m no Kobe Bryant. I pass the ball and play defense…

I am, of course, excited about tomorrow’s LSU-Oklahoma playoff game in Atlanta. It should be a peach of a game at the Peach Bowl. I expect the Tigers to win, which means I can continue doing my Coach O impression:

In blogosphere related news, it’s time for the annual Jon Swift Roundup of the best posts of the year. After Jon Swift/Al Weisel passed away, our friend Batocchio of  Vagabond Scholar fame picked up the torch and continued the tradition. I submitted one of the first posts I wrote in 2019, The Wind Cries Willard, which is about a certain Mittbotic Senator who blows with the wind. It will also be the first post in this year’s Best of Adrastos, which lands tomorrow.

I don’t want to worsen my condition by writing about President* Pennywise. What’s more nauseating than an impeached Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head?

That concludes this potpourri post, which was all sizzle and no steak. The mere thought of Kobe Beef or Bryant makes me feel foggy and wobbly. I should lie down because Shaq isn’t here to catch me and Paul Drake is too busy marking his latest box to help:

The last word goes to BNL with a song that aptly describes this post:

Friday Guest Catblogging: Inside Agitator

Little Buddy is back and up to no good. He’s my friend Kyle’s cat and mischief is his middle name.

Here’s Little Buddy taking up temporary residence in the washer. Stay out of the dryer, dude.

Trump L’Oeil

Trump_l'Oeil_700

Happy Boxing Day — and in the spirit, here’s a target if you’re inclined to practice a jab or cross.

DJT did his part to merit jab or cross status, celebrating Christmas by “lashing out” and generally acting like a baby — is that even news anymore?

And while I can’t complain about much if anything personally, I think the best present for next Christmas would be a pink slip for the present occupant of the White House.

Fire Trump in 2020.

Also, Happy Solstice.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Christmas With Louis

These covers are for 78’s or 45’s but they’re pure Louis Armstrong. Louis, Dr. A, Paul Drake, and I wish you a Merry Christmas or whatever else floats your boat.

This 1997 compilation cover didn’t make the cut but it has the essential holiday tunes from Louis as well some songs by his friends:

Virtual Christmas Party!

Welcome! Come on in! Everyone here loves you and is so glad to see you and we’re glad you’ve decided to stop by. Grab a drink, a handful of Chex Mix, and make yourself at home.

Party closed. I love you all. Behave yourselves today and tomorrow and remember, there is a place where you’re valued, loved, and admired as brave fucking badasses.

A.

 

Quote Of The Day: Doug Jones On Impeachment

When it comes to the fecklessness of contemporary politicians, the MSM is part of the problem. They are so used to horse race coverage of politics that even good reporters ask questions that are crafted to ensure a craven answer. Alabama Senator Doug Jones surprised ABC’s Martha Raddatz yesterday:

ABC News “This Week” host Martha Raddatz pointed out to Jones that GOP strategists believe a vote to convict Trump would doom the Democratic senator in a ruby-red state that voted overwhelmingly for the President in 2016.

“Are you worried about that?” Raddatz asked.

Jones shook his head.

“I took an oath as a U.S. senator,” the Alabama Democrat said. “I’m going to take another oath, and that’s where my duty is.”

“I think the problem that we’ve got in America today, and the problem we have sometimes, with all due respect, in the media, everyone wants to talk about this in the political terms, in the political consequences term,” he continued. “This is a much more serious matter than that.”

Jones said the impeachment trial is about the future of the presidency and “how we want our presidents to conduct themselves,” along with “how a Senate should handle impeachment.”

“That’s how I’m looking at this,” he told Raddatz. “If I did everything based on a pure political argument, all you’d need is a computer to mash a button.

“It’s just not what this country’s about, it’s not what the Founders intended, it’s not what I intend to do,” the lawmaker added.

In an age of widespread political cowardice, it’s a pleasure to hear someone say that they’ll do the right thing and worry about the electoral consequences later. In fact, the House Democratic caucus is full of swing district members who voted to impeach the president* based on the merits, not the politics.

Doug Jones is the most endangered Senate Democrat up in 2020. He’s determined to do the right thing whatever the consequences. Here’s hoping that enough Senate Republicans will find the nerve to vote to hold a real trial next year. It only takes 51 votes and they don’t even have to commit to remove Trump. It shouldn’t take a Superperson to stand up for:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – unfair thee well edition

I know a few of our faithful readers have been waiting for this one, so without further adieu’ – It’s a fine whine!

Trump: It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong!
Twitter ^ | December 13, 2019 | Donald J. Trump

Posted on 12/13/2019, 8:10:11 PM by EdnaMode

It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong! The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of Hate. They are so bad for our Country!

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

Impeach congress for Obstruction of the Executive and Abuse of Power.
1 posted on 12/13/2019, 8:10:11 PM by EdnaMode
You can’t impeach congressional reps, you blithering nincompoop.
If we could only impeach YOU for random capitalization of words in a sentence….
Any other options?
To: EdnaMode

 

Throw rocks at them.

4 posted on 12/13/2019, 8:15:24 PM by JPJones (More Tariffs, less income tax.)

What? Did you idiots run out of your own feces to throw?
Some of the Freeperati are dismayed at the whining :
To: EdnaMode

 

As my grandma would say “fair” is a place where you go on rides and eat cotton candy. If you expect it to be anything else you are in for a rude surprise.

8 posted on 12/13/2019, 8:17:15 PM by Harmless Teddy Bear (A hero is a hero no matter what medal they give him. Likewise a schmuck is still a schmuck.)

To: EdnaMode

 

Don has to quit whining and allow his surrogates and fans to plead his case.

17 posted on 12/13/2019, 8:23:24 PM by shalom aleichem (Barr and Durham! Get movin’. Time’s awastin’)

“Plead his case”?

Is he gonna blame the bone spurs?

To: lastchance

 

I tell my kids “it’s not fair” is the lament of the loser. Should never be uttered by winners.

40 posted on 12/13/2019, 9:06:17 PM by prov1813man

To: Secret Agent Man

 

It does sound petulant and babyish, which the situation doesn’t call for.

49 posted on 12/13/2019, 9:22:02 PM by Yaelle

“petulant and babyish”
.
And you’re just now figuring this out?
.
In other breaking news, water is wet.
.
More whining about the whining after the break….

Continue reading

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On Ice

Kick loves ice skating.

As a profoundly un-athletic person whose only physical effort was a running routine that went tits-up after my back got destroyed three years ago, I have refused to invest any emotional energy into my child’s physical prowess. I have no idea if she can do a somersault. She runs kickball bases like a drunk freshman headed for Taco Bell. It’s all fine. She’s tried soccer and tennis with middling enthusiasm, but last winter, she begged to go skating.

Her first lesson, she spent on her butt.

I mean, typical, of course, but she didn’t know that, and she was PISSED. She threw her tiny baby helmet across the park-district locker room like an NHL player denied the Stanley Cup and said, “I am NEVER doing that again.”

I got down on my knees in front of her and looked her right in her red, embarrassed, angry face. “Yes, you are.”

Most of the time this child — with her thinky-face, and her insistence on reading and following directions to the letter, and her boundless loyalty — is her father. But some of the time she’s me, and this was one of those times.

“You sucked at this today. You were really bad at it.”

“I KNOW, and I –”

“And you’re gonna go out there next week and suck at this again.”

Silence.

“You’re gonna suck at this every Saturday for nine more classes because that’s how many Mama paid for. And because EVERYONE sucks at EVERYTHING the first time they do it. And you might get to the end of these nine lessons and still suck.

“At which point you tell me you want to quit, and off we go. But you don’t know yet if you’ll keep sucking so you gotta suck a while longer.”

She nodded. This, God help her, made sense to her. She did the next nine lessons, plus a practice a week. She did the next class, plus two practices a week. She got her own skates, her own skate bag, an outfit just for skating. She asked to go to open skates and get extra ice time. She befriended her teacher and classmates and watched skating videos online. She laughed when I called her my rink rat.

She got promoted from the baby class to the big-kid class.

And here’s where things came to a screeching halt again.

Drew Magary wrote this last week, about the economy: 

It’s perfectly natural to only want to work with, and employ, the best people possible. I know I feel better working alongside people I respect and admire. But what about everyone else? What about the B and C and even D players? Do they deserve to eat fucking rat bones for the rest of their lives, just because they couldn’t magically invent gorilla glass on demand for Steve Jobs?

This is the quiet tragedy of 2019 America. Our economy has been optimized and perfected into rendering the bulk of the workforce unacceptable to those in power. If you didn’t fucking graduate from MIT at age 15 and win three different seasons of Shark Tank, you’re fit to be cut. Consulting firms are paid handsomely to sniff you out and prevent you from hindering your poor company’s progress. You are not an A player, and therefore you deserve to rot. Only the special are allowed to survive.

I don’t want to lionize mediocrity or laziness, but: No matter how hard I practice and how much I learn, I am never going to be a concert pianist or a fighter pilot or cure cancer, and there is something deeply wrong with a society that tells us all that we have to dream that big.

I have an acquaintance whose spouse is the sort of person who gets two glasses of wine in her and starts thinking everyone agrees with whatever’s in her head; we were at a party recently and she started bitching about her “loser” son. He lacks ambition, he just screws around, he doesn’t want to make anything of himself, never does anything, blah blah blah.

Did he live with her, smoke weed all day, sell crack to the local kindergartners? Was he in jail, had he impregnated a member of the clergy, did he have to steal for his food? Nope. Turns out this young man has a job, pays his rent on his own place, and on weekends what he most likes to do is play with NERF guns, which honestly sounds fun as hell.

It took everything in my body not to say WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, DO YOU NOT KNOW PEOPLE’S KIDS ARE DEAD OR DYING OR IN CAGES? I do not get why our standards have to be sky-high for everybody. Why can’t some of us be okay? “You could have been an astronaut” is not actually TRUE, not for all of us, and there needs to be a place for those of us who are claustrophobic and can’t do science to still exist.

I am hard on my kid; I make her do more schoolwork than her teacher requires and I’m strict about manners and behavior with guests and screen time and such. It feels mean, a lot of the time, because I don’t know where the line is between teaching her something and becoming the villain in a story, because none of us know that line, we’re all just guessing. I know I am hard on her. She knows it, too, but:

I do not care one whit if she can axel or lutz or hip-check bigger kids into the boards. I don’t care if she competes or wins trophies or which trophies, if she does. It does not matter at all to me if she’s good at this or at anything else. Of course I don’t want her to starve or end up being exploited but I live in an area with a lot of competitive preschooling, you know? Like they need to know four languages and be reading textbooks by second grade. And it’s such, such, such bullshit, and it doesn’t produce success, and even if it does, do you know how many miserable smart people I know?

Our expectations cannot be sky-high for everybody. And if the best we can hope for is okay, then we need to be okay with that, and not look at our kids like every thing they do is going to be THE THING, the moment when they shoot into the stratosphere. Some of ’em will be right here on the ground. They’ll have to live here. They’ll have to know how.

In Kick’s big kid class, she wasn’t the fastest anymore, or the best. She was the slowest, again. She fell down the most, again. She flunked the first go, couldn’t go on to the next class, got a “needs improvement” report card, and she’s five, I mean, she doesn’t have a ton of experience with failure.

One day in big-kid class she fell, hard, like I HEARD it sitting in the soundproofed parents’ area where we all try really hard not to watch our kids so that our kids won’t look at us watching them and will pay attention to their own stuff. I heard her just absolutely eat it and I saw her stay down for a minute and I ran over to the other side of the rink figuring that even if she hadn’t cracked her tailbone she’d never want to skate again.

Her teacher had helped her up and they were sitting on the bench by the time I got over to them, and I stopped before they saw me. They were talking, and I saw the teacher ask her a question. I don’t know what she said, but I was watching when Kick answered.

“I’m ready,” she said. “Let’s go back out.”

A.

Still We Sing

History is still singing.

We hear a lot these days about who even cares about books or movies or comics or celebrities anymore, like the world is on fire, right? How can we possibly make room for art? For beauty, joy, laughter?

Well, listen to that, and rethink your despair.

It’s so easy to discount that which keeps us alive. Songs and stories don’t feed us; pace Woody but your machine didn’t kill any fascists. It might have prevented some from being made, though, that’s not nothing, and when all you have left is your voice, you sing.

People sang in bondage for centuries. Prisoners write and paint behind bars. On the Berlin Wall, teenagers drew pictures. Can’t stop the signal; there is no hole so deep from which a melody cannot emerge, reaching upward, singing in the only language humanity has ever had, the only song we’ve ever sung: Here we are.

Here we still are. People are heroic, people are incredible. Jail us, starve us, beat us, kill us, tell us every day we are nothing and no one, take away our homes and hearths, take away our names. Still we sing.

Still, we sing.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Swinging On A Star

Tchoupitoulas Christmas House photograph by Dr A.

We’ve been on a weather yo-yo all month. There have been several days where the drop in temperature was so drastic that the high was at midnight. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s damp and humid, which exaggerates how chilly it feels. It’s fucking cold, y’all.

New Orleans is an old city with an aging infrastructure. It seems to have rebelled this week: we’ve had collapses, explosions, water main ruptures, and a literal shit storm. The citizenry are getting cranky and blaming the current Mayor for decades of neglect. It’s unfair but she makes it worse by speaking in jargon. Mayor Cantrell actually said that she was “leaning in and being intentional” to help solve our infrastructure woes. It would help if we understood what the hell she means.

This week’s theme song was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke in 1944 for the Bing Crosby movie, Going My Way. It was one of the biggest hits of the year and won Oscars for best picture, actor, and supporting actor. Der Bingle was the show biz king that year.

We have three versions of Swinging On A Star for your listening pleasure: Bing Crosby, his frenemy, Frank Sinatra, and an R&B version by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva.

I’m a bit dizzy from swinging on that star so let’s pause before jumping to the break.

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The Tribe Gambit

I’m firmly on the record as favoring cunning and guile in our political leaders. Nancy Pelosi has these qualities in spades. She’s also smart enough to listen to outside advice. In this case from the great constitutional scholar, Larry Tribe, whose December 16th WaPo op-ed serves as a map to the post-impeachment landscape:

Now that President Trump’s impeachment is inevitable, and now that failing to formally impeach him would invite foreign intervention in the 2020 election and set a dangerous precedent, another option seems vital to consider: voting for articles of impeachment but holding off for the time being on transmitting them to the Senate.

This option needs to be taken seriously now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced his intention to conduct not a real trial but a whitewash, letting the president and his legal team call the shots.

Such an approach could have both tactical and substantive benefits. As a tactical matter, it could strengthen Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) hand in bargaining over trial rules with McConnell because of McConnell’s and Trump’s urgent desire to get this whole business behind them. On a substantive level, it would be justified to withhold going forward with a Senate trial. Under the current circumstances, such a proceeding would fail to render a meaningful verdict of acquittal. It would also fail to inform the public, which has the right to know the truth about the conduct of its president.

Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have had the good sense to pay heed to Tribe’s advice. In contrast, the usually cautious Turtle stuck his head far out of his shell on Fox the other day. He was speaking to an audience of two: Sean Hannity and the Insult Comedian. Unwise choice.

McConnell’s attempt at schoolyard insults yesterday has failed. He taunted the Dems for chickening out after impeaching the president*. The Speaker was unimpressed:

On Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggesting she was “too afraid” to deliver a “shoddy work product” to the Senate, Pelosi said: “Oh pfft,” according to Politico. “Fear is never a word used with me. You should know right away. … I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”

On House Republicans at times obscure behavior during the House debate and vote on the articles of impeachment Wednesday: “Some of them don’t believe in the Constitution. … They didn’t act upon it, they acted completely against it. They believe in Donald Trump,” she told Politico.

I’m not surprised that Nancy Pelosi is playing hardball: she learned it at her father’s knee. I am. however, pleasantly surprised by Chuck Schumer’s conduct. The jovial Senator has become a serious mensch. One might say that he learned it at Nancy Smash’s knee.

The Tribe Gambit lobs a hand grenade in the GOP’s lap. There are some Republican Senators who want at least the appearance of a fair trial in their body. McConnell and Graham have badly overplayed their hand. It will require their colleagues to answer questions about the basic fairness of the Senate trial at home over the holiday recess.

In 1999, Bill Clinton got a fair trial in a Republican held Senate. All Schumer needs twenty years later is for four Republican Senators to vote to have witnesses and documents produced by both sides. They need not commit to convict but basic fairness demands that there be a trial whose result can be accepted by the voters. Stay tuned.

Back to Larry Tribe. As a Russian history buff I was thrilled that he used this analogy:

In 1787, the year our Constitution was written, Catherine the Great traveled to Crimea in Ukraine — yes, that Crimea, the one Vladi­mir Putin occupied by illegal force — where her former lover Grigory Potemkin had built a fake village to impress the Empress. It seems suitably ironic for McConnell to propose building a Potemkin “trial” to exonerate Trump. But irony is no substitute for common sense.

One more reason that I’m a Larry Tribe fan boy.

The last word goes to the man himself from his appearance last night on The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell. One could even call it when Laurence met Lawrence:

Friday Throwback Catblogging: Oscar, Della, & The Faux Reindeer

I ran this picture back in 2016 of Oscar and Della Street glaring at a faux reindeer. I don’t recall if they pounced but they were certainly riled up. A dirty look from Della was no big whoop but Oscar used his large cartoonlike eyes to charm, not scare.

Moscow Mitch Has A Sad

Stalin1B_Moscow_Mitch_Mcconnell

Human Turtle (not entirely certain about the human part) Moscow Mitch — he really hates being called Moscow Mitchexpressed a new found love of precedent following the House Impeachment vote of Donald Trump, and the announcement that the measure could be delayed in being reported to the Senate unless and until he agrees to at least the appearance of fairness.

In fairness, with a nickname like Moscow Mitch, would you expect anything else besides a show trial Vladimir Putin would be proud of?

Oh, and hats off to the Democrats, particularly in swing districts, who votes yes.

Yesterday morning I heard, on NPR of all places, the kind of analysis you’d get from old Soviet TASS or Pravda, namely that Democrats who won midterm elections in Trump leaning districts would need to be careful, because, you know, Trump.

Or maybe Democrats in Trump leaning districts WON midterm elections because of, you know, Trump. You think? Your good old librul media, hard at work.

Anyway…under the circumstances, not a bad outcome.

Whenever Moscow Mitch — and did I mention he hates being called Moscow Mitch? — anyway, when Moscow Mitch emerges from his shell and mutters “hrrumph,” it’s a good sign.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Advise and Consent

Impeachment has not reached the Senate, but I have Congress on my mind. Hence this pairing of a classic political novel with the poster for the fine film made from it.