Dr. A and I are in Texas to visit my favorite cousin. She was the one who took us in after Katrina and the Federal Flood in 2005. She’s seriously ill so this may be the last time we’ll see her. Hence, my limited presence at First Draft this week.
In honor of our brief Texas trip, we have some Texas tunes for your enjoyment; beginning with this week’s theme song, Texas Twister.
We didn’t go to San Antone but it’s impossible to post Texas tunes without the late, great Doug Sahm.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with a full-blown edition next Saturday. The last word goes to the human Paul Drake and Della Street.
…of the kind of person who epitomizes the DJT — and now GOP — approach to government, short-lister-for-getting-cast-as Nosferatu-if-there’s-ever-a-remake and until recently Washington’s least eligible bachelor, Stephen Miller
One afternoon in November, a half-dozen government officials sat at a conference table in the White House, waiting for the arrival of Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Donald Trump. Miller had summoned officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice to discuss a new Administration policy initiative: a series of agreements with the governments of Central America that would force asylum seekers to apply for protection in that region instead of in the United States. Miller, who had helped make the deals, wanted to know when their provisions could go into effect…Miller has a habit of berating officials, especially lower-ranking ones, for an agency’s perceived failures. Chad Wolf, now the acting head of D.H.S., used to advise colleagues to placate Miller by picking one item from his long list of demands, and vowing to execute it. “It’s a war of attrition,” Wolf told them. “Maybe he forgets the rest for a while, and you buy yourself some time.”
One participant in the November meeting pointed out that El Salvador didn’t have a functioning asylum system. “They don’t need a system,” Miller interrupted. He began speaking over people, asking questions, then cutting off the answers.
As the meeting ended, Miller held up his hand to make a final comment. “I didn’t mean to come across as harsh,” he said. His voice dropped. “It’s just that this is all I care about. I don’t have a family. I don’t have anything else. This is my life.”
Miller, who was a speechwriter during the campaign, is now Trump’s longest-serving senior aide. He is also an Internet meme, a public scourge, and a catch-all symbol of the racism and malice of the current government. In a cast of exceptionally polarizing officials, he has embraced the role of archvillain. Miller can be found shouting over interviewers on the weekend news shows or berating reporters in the White House briefing room; he has also vowed to quell a “deep state” conspiracy against Trump. When he’s not accusing journalists of harboring a “cosmopolitan bias” or denying that the Statue of Liberty symbolizes America’s identity as a nation of immigrants, he is shaping policy and provoking the President’s most combative impulses.
Of thirty current and former officials I interviewed, not one could recall a White House adviser as relentless as Miller, or as successful in imposing his will across agencies. These officials resented him as an upstart and mocked his affectations—his “arrogant monotonal voice” and tin-eared bombast—but few were comfortable going on the record, even after leaving the government. Miller is famously vindictive, and, as Trump runs for a second term, he is sure to grow only more powerful. “Miller doesn’t have to get Trump to believe everything he does,” one of the officials told me. “He just has to get Trump to say it all.”
When Miller and I spoke by phone, it was off the record. Without an audience, he gave the same message at half the volume—a litany of talking points about all the ways in which the President had delivered on his campaign promises. Afterward, the White House sent me a quote for attribution: “It is the single greatest honor of my life to work for President Trump and to support his incredible agenda.”
Imagine Stephen Miller in a second Trump term.
There’s nothing wrong with a serious discussion/debate, or whatever you want to call it, to consider and select the best candidate to take on, um, not to mince words, the nascent fascism of Trump. But whether the winning candidate is my personal preference (her last name rhymes with Soren) or whether I once again grimly exercise my civic duty by opting for the lesser of evils, Trump will forever remain the greater of evils, in no small part because of people like Stephen Miller.
Oh, and that certain idiot Dems (e.g., Chris Matthews) and ostensibly Never Trumpers (Bill Kristol) think Bernie Sanders is too much…goddamn.
Bruce Graeme was of one several pen names used by Graham Montague Jeffries. He was best known for the Blackshirt series for which he used the name Richard Verill. None of those covers has the impact of this 1955 book. The title is pretty darn cool as well.
Because of some real-life stuff happening, ie real life is happening all the time right now and I’m doing my best with it, I can’t commit to weekly threads about this show but YOU SHOULD ALL BE WATCHING PICARD:
What I loved about Picard’s immediate embrace of Dahj was that it speaks to everything Picard was in the television show: a generous soul with a sixth sense for when someone is telling the truth, no matter how outlandish. And after his trip to Starfleet archives, he very tenderly tells Dahj the truth: She isn’t human. Picard’s archival materials are a treasure trove for Trekkies: the Captain Picard Day sign and the model of the Stargazer, for starters.
To Picard, Dahj is every bit as deserving of empathy as Data was.
“If you are who I think you are, you are dear to me in ways that you can’t understand,” Picard tells her. “I will never leave you.”
I grew up on Next Gen but even before that I had an Authority Thing and an Older Man Thing and a Mentor/Student Thing and so Captain Picard pushed all the buttons. Teenage me would have thrown myself at him while he chivalrously drove me home and told me to concentrate on my homework. (Part of the appeal of crushes like that is that you know they would never.)
And you have to remember there was nothing GOOD on TV back then. Watch the Drumhead episode, the Borg storyline, the “Family” ep I still can’t re-watch without being completely destroyed, and yes, right now AMC and HBO give us that kind of depth and character development and goddamn Shakespearean glory every single week but back then? Imagine seeing this when all you’d seen was Growing Pains:
There was nothing like that, holy shit. The language blew my tiny baby-writer mind. My body was ready for Star Trek: Picard, is what I’m saying, and I still wasn’t ready.
Carol Marin says we in media do a terrible job educating readers about our differences, including editorial versus news. That we “take for granted that people understand our differences… It’s on us to explain our differences.”
There is a coordinated campaign to get people to distrust the press, it is being run by one political party for that party’s supporters’ express financial benefit through one major cable news network, this has been true for 30 years, but surely if we explain ourselves just ONE MORE TIME, people will love us again!
Jesus H. Christ with a side of sweet potato fries, I’m exhausted. For 30-plus years, Fox News has been blaring from every airport gate in every city in this country and a few overseas that every other news source is liberally biased and only THEY report and we decide. Only THEY are unbiased. Only THEY will tell you the truth. And you know what, for the critical 35 or so percent of the country that the GOP needs to stay in gerrymandered and destructive power, it’s fucking WORKED.
In the face of that assault, we have the journalism establishment, dithering at 8-foot tables about how maybe readers just don’t understand, maybe they just independently came to these conclusions:
But sure, let’s keep talking about this stuff like it’s the weather, like it just HAPPENED.
Maybe if we sincerely correct people angry at us, with the best of intentions, and show them how pure our hearts are OH FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK. I’m not excusing anyone ELSE’S malpractice (looking at you, CNN). I’m certainly not letting corporate consolidation and frantic flailing at every single industry trend in an effort to keep making enough money to hide the sexual harassment lawsuit payouts off the hook.
What I take issue with is the idea that there’s some kind of genuine ignorance, some kind of benign disconnect that can be remedied by yet another explanation of who we are why what we do matters.
We’re having a lot of dumb conversations with the Institute for Being Stuck Up Our Own Asses about What The Future Holds and Our Existential Threat and until we deal with the literal Fox in our henhouse those overall numbers of how many people loathe us are not going to get better or change.
We have spent eons justifying our existence. We have spent EPOCHS explaining why we do what we do. And not for nothing but we have spent 30 years being friendly with people who hate us. We have spent 30 years pretending they’re just joking, pretending their inflated sales numbers mean we have to pay attention to what they say, and in response we got “Rope, Tree, Journalist” and “peanuts for the animals” and “fake news.”
*1,000 leftists gather to strategize* cnn: i missed that
*2 nazis suck each other off in a pf changs* CNN: The Rise of the Sexy New Right
WHILE we were doing this we set generational brand loyalty on fire by systematically divesting from communities we’d covered for decades, where trust had been built and at least if people thought we were fuckers we were their fuckers, you know?
So now we come at them with the idea that somehow they don’t understand? They understand just fine. One “news” organization is coming at them from every television in every waiting room in every tire shop in the country, coming at them telling them things are life and death and WE ARE ALL THAT IS STANDING BETWEEN YOU AND DESTRUCTION. One network is relentlessly pushing itself in their faces with, where not outright fascism, authoritarian visions of the world around them which are basically heroin.
And in response we’re gonna plead poverty, beg them to subscribe, and EXPLAIN OURSELVES?
No. No way.
To its credit, the journalism summit referenced in the tweet that set me off down this YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME path did include people doing the very hard work of building something from scratch to address potential news consumers who nobody has ever given a single fuck about, which is why this is the only way forward.
That’s a start. The whole other part of this includes a series of very well-catered events (since that’s apparently where most of our Big Thinking About Journalism happens) detailing once and for all who is Journalism’s Friend. And how to respond to the people who aren’t, who have never been, and how it doesn’t matter if they’re nice to you at parties, if they go on the air the next day and call you biased liars.
Also, knock this the fucking fuck off:
I don’t know which #CJTH panelist made the comment about (I paraphrase) young people not knowing how to read clocks but on behalf of two of my very bright students in attendance, young people think you’re an asshole.
Alden is destroying journalism precisely because it doesn’t care about journalism. It earns exorbitant profits and has bled hundreds of millions from DFM papers to invest in unrelated businesses while cutting staff to the bone. That is the essence of destruction. #SaveLocalNewshttps://t.co/6ASCnPM2rzpic.twitter.com/pols1mHQyd
I have been screaming about this since I last worked in newspapers, and lest you think that’s me exaggerating, here’s 200FUCKING6.
It wasn’t the internet. It never was the internet. All the internet did is make it impossible to hide the stupidity and greed anymore. Back when papers were drowning in money they could spend it on dumb shit and pay off sexual harassers and hand out consultant contracts to their idiot buddies and nobody would even notice. Now, well, the margins are still good but they’re not THAT good.
Look at those margins, though. THIRTY PERCENT. Do you know what most phenomenally successful businesses make most years? A ten percent margin is considered good, and that’s by the soulless standards of American finance. These guys are swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck and they’ve got their reporters out here telling readers if they don’t subscribe everyone will die of starvation and it’s infuriating to the exact degree that it’s unnecessary.
I’m deep in the Carnival bubble, which is a wondrous albeit crowded place to be. We’ve had big company and small company. It’s been fun but as always I’ll be glad when it’s over. I’m so pooped that I’m repeating last week’s featured image.
There was a parade-related accident at the corner where I’ve been watching parades for the last 20 years. A parade-goer was run over by a float in the Nyx parade near the corner of Magazine and Valence. It was fatal, alas. I’ll have more about that and other Carnival related issues in next week’s 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief.
This week’s theme song was written by Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, and Levon Helm for The Band’s 1971 Cahoots album. The horns were arranged by New Orleans’ own Allen Toussaint.
We have three versions of Life Is A Carnival for your listening pleasure: the studio original, a 1995 teevee appearance by The Band, and a cover by Norah Jones, which is new to me
Lest you think I’ve strayed too far from New Orleans Carnival music, here’s Our Mac:
I try not to spend too much time peering around corners looking for spy boys, skeletons, or baby dolls. If you understood that sentence, you know enough about Carnival, New Orleans style to jump to the break without crash landing.
Though Jalaiah is very much a suburban kid herself — she lives in a picturesque home on a quiet street outside of Atlanta — she is part of the young, cutting-edge dance community online that more mainstream influencers co-opt.
The Renegade dance followed this exact path. On Sept. 25, 2019, Jalaiah came home from school and asked a friend she had met through Instagram, Kaliyah Davis, 12, if she wanted to create a post together. Jalaiah listened to the beats in the song “Lottery” by the Atlanta rapper K-Camp and then choreographed a difficult sequence to its chorus, incorporating other viral moves like the wave and the whoa.
She filmed herself and posted it, first to Funimate (where she has more than 1,700 followers) and then to her more than 20,000 followers on Instagram (with a side-by-side shot of Kaliyah and her performing it together).
This sort of internet anthropological detective work is always fascinating to me, because I get to the end of the day and am like why are we all talking about llamas all of a sudden, having not seen the progression.
A former health care consultant pleaded guilty today to mail fraud and tax evasion relating to her scheme to be employed under false pretenses as a highly paid health care consultant, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Sonja Emery, using several aliases including “Sonja Lee Robinson,” “Sonjalee Emery-Robinson,” and “Sonjalee Emery,” resided in Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and California. From 2011 through 2018, Emery falsely represented her professional status, educational background, and work experience to secure and maintain highly paid consulting positions in the health-care industry. She falsely claimed to have a nursing diploma from a school she never attended. She also falsely claimed to be a Registered Nurse licensed in New York, Georgia, Connecticut, and California and provided employers with licensure numbers that belonged to other people. In fact she never was a Registered Nurse. Emery also falsely told employers she had a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Health Administration, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Philosophy from Emory University and New York University, but Emery never attended those schools or received these degrees.
As a result of these lies, from 2012 through 2018, Emery secured high-level health-care positions. She worked as a Senior Vice President for an Ann Arbor, Michigan healthcare consulting firm earning an annual salary of approximately $285,000; as a consultant for a community health system in Wisconsin earning approximately $267,000; and as a health care consultant for a Massachusetts company that paid her approximately $226,000. From 2015 until her arrest in May of 2018, Emery worked as a senior executive for a county government health services agency in California that paid her a total of approximately $960,000.
During these years, Emery either did not file or late-filed tax returns, despite owing more than $400,000 in taxes. She sought to avoid being detected by providing employers with different names and false social security numbers, by falsely instructing employers that she was “exempt” from taxes, and by supplying an employer with an identification number that did not belong to her.
U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker scheduled sentencing for June 17, 2020. At sentencing, Emery faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for mail fraud and five years in prison for tax evasion. Emery also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
As for myself, due to my Neurosurgeon refusing to do my spinal surgery without an OK from my Cardiologist, and my Cardiologist not being able to schedule a nuclear stress test until after my scheduled surgery date of February 13th, my laminectomy/discectomy/foramina-whatever-ectomy, has now been rescheduled for March 6th.
A week after that, I should be back in the saddle (able to sit at my chair in front of the PC for more than 15 minutes) again. and looking forward to ploughing through the Freeperati backlog and picking only choicest juicy chunks of fresh Freeper ram’s bladder, emptied, steamed, flavored with sesame seeds whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark’s vomit.
Leave it to the Impeached Insult Comedian to ruin a perfectly good original post title (Disbar Barr) by going on a pardon bender. He may not drink but he’s drunk with power. I’m not sure what Bill Barr’s problem is other than his deranged boss. A big problem indeed.
Disbar Barr: The legal profession as a whole has finally noticed that Bill Barr is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer, not as the public’s lawyer. They should have understood that when he sat on the Mueller report, then spun it incorrectly. Barr may be shitty at dispensing justice but he’s good at cover ups. He’s like one of Rene Magritte’s non-descript men falling in line behind his president*.
A petition has been signed by 2000+ former DOJ lawyers over Barr allowing Trump to pretend to be the nation’s number-one law enforcement officer when he’s really the nation’s number-one lawbreaker. It’s unclear if Trump thinks he’s George III or Judge Roy Bean who was the law west of the Pecos. It is clear that among the actors who played Roy Bean, Trump resembles Edgar Buchanan or Walter Brennan more than Paul Newman.
The MSM hasn’t been much more acute than lawyers about Barr. When Barr said that Trump’s comments made his job harder, he meant his job covering up the crimes of the president* and associates. It’s what he’s dedicated his tenure at DOJ to, after all.
Barr isn’t the first corrupt Attorney General. Nixon henchmen John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst went to jail over their roles in Watergate. Barr makes them look like pikers. The former AG he’s most like is Gamaliel’s guy, Harry Daugherty who was indicted on corruption charges then acquitted. The indictment did ruin Harry’s career as a bag man so there is that.
There’s a chorus of voices demanding that Barr resign. He will only listen to his master’s voice, alas. I’m not buying the leaks that he’s thinking of hanging it up; not Judge Roy Bean style.
I, too, think Barr should resign. Additionally, he should be disbarred for egregiously unethical conduct. Repeat after me: Disbar Barr.
The Pardon Bender: There are still people who think that President* Pennywise had a logical political reason for issuing 11 pardons in one day. He issued them because he has the power and was getting antsy over Mike Bloomberg getting more pub than him for a few days.
Pardoning Blago ain’t gonna help in Illinois or Western Indiana. Illinois House GOPers should be up-in-arms but they’re so afraid of their feudal suzerain that they’re biting their tongues until they bleed. And now for the obvious musical interlude:
It appears that personal lobbying and Fox News viewing explain the pardon bender. Fox News contributor Bernie Kerik is Rudy’s stooge, so the Kaiser of Chaos pardoned his stooge’s stooge. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
There was a Gret Stet connection to Tuesday’s pardon bender. Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo testified against the man he bribed, former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. DeBartolo cut a deal but was a convicted felon until the Impeached Insult Comedian pardoned him at the behest of Jerry Rice and other former players. Dollars to donuts that Trump will claim he did this for black folks.
While this *could* be the prelude to pardoning the “very unfairly treated” Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort, Trump does not think that far ahead. He lives in the moment and doesn’t mind the denunciations: he’s the center of attention where thinks he belongs. It’s not unlike the guy who was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest and said, “Because it’s there.” With Trump and pardoning, it’s “Because I can.”
“He’s been in jail for seven years over a phone call where nothing happens — over a phone call which he shouldn’t have said what he said, but it was braggadocio, you would say,” Trump told reporters last year. “I would think that there have been many politicians — I’m not one of them, by the way — that have said a lot worse over the telephone.”
Blago’s call was perfect as was his hair when he wore a toupee. I wonder if his rug was in storage at the prison or at home with his family. Enquiring minds want to know.
Billie Jo Campbell was discovered at age 3 while walking down a street in Los Angeles with her mother. A photographer approached, told the mother that Billie Jo was adorable, and asked if she wouldn’t mind her daughter appearing in a photo shoot at a house in Laurel Canyon. The mother—“a free spirit,” Billie Jo explained—promptly set up an appointment. They later learned that the shoot was for the cover of an album by an obscure acoustic-punk trio from Milwaukee about to release their debut. In the photo, barefoot Billie Jo wears a cute white dress and strains to peer inside a darkened house through a window. She had no idea that this was an apt metaphor for the band’s songs, which capture that precise moment when childhood innocence is corrupted by the obsessions of the adult world—sex, violence, perverted religiosity, and omnipresent death.
A long quote but well worth the space. Here’s the cover:
Among both children and adults, there is little evidence that human trafficking is a widespread phenomenon in need of universal public awareness. In 2018, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 10,949 reports of human trafficking, but these figures are based exclusively on anonymous calls and are not verified in any way. The hotline’s director, Caroline Diemar, said that many calls are simply vague suspicions — there’s a massage parlor on my street; I saw a suspicious family at the mall — that may reflect public anxiety about trafficking rather than trafficking itself.
Law enforcement figures are even smaller. Despite a yearslong, high-profile, government-wide campaign against human trafficking, the Department of Homeland Security identified just 428 victims nationwide last year, and the FBI made fewer than 650 arrests for trafficking in 2018.
The mismatch between the small number of confirmed cases and the large estimates that appear in anti-trafficking publicity campaigns (the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, for example, says America has “potentially over a million” victims of sex trafficking) can’t be reconciled as underreporting. Other crimes for which victims are reluctant to come forward, including sexual assault and domestic violence, produce more confirmed cases each year.
I mean, if we are truly afraid for our children, we should be blanketing the airports and neighborhood baby-toy-swap groups with posters about the dangers of gun violence but that would make the NRA have a sad, so instead we have PREDATORS ARE SEXNAPPING YOUR CHILDREN!
(They are, but not the “your” usually implied in mainstream press coverage. Or the “they” for that matter.)
Yikes! It’s a battle field out there. Predators every where.
I would be overjoyed this was a thing I could safely consign to the realm of Liam Neeson films. I spend all day every day worrying about my kid. It is all I think about. Right now she is in a top-rated public school with reasonable amounts of security with teachers she adores five blocks from home along a route she probably, in extremity, could travel by herself from memory. Mr. A works from home and can be there in 30 seconds. She knows my phone number. She knows our address. She has no known food allergies and she’s never shown any interest in chemicals or sharp knives and she’s smart enough to know to ask an adult before doing something that seems dodgy. She is as safe as it is possible to be as a middle class child in America.
And every single day I am barraged with thoughts of car accidents and sudden brain tumors and wandering off into a drainage ditch. I breathe a sigh of relief every time she wakes up in the morning. When I am away from her, as I have been every working day since she was 8 weeks old, all I can think of is the moment I can wrap all four of my limbs around her body and clutch her head to my neck.
So if you present me with evidence that one source of my anxiety (I am dealing with it, don’t comment that this is unhealthy, I KNOW IT IS) doesn’t exist, dear God, I’m not gonna yell at you.
Keeping myself paralyzed over the idea that this MIGHT happen to MY CHILD is just preventing me from doing something about what is actually happening to the children it’s actually happening to. Who also deserve someone to wrap themselves around them in protection.
In 1962, Shawn decided that The New Yorker needed more sports pieces, and, knowing that I was a fan, asked if I wanted to go down to Florida and write something about spring training. I was surprised he even knew there was such a thing. I’d never been to spring training, so I said yes, thank you, and went down to the White Sox camp, in Sarasota, where I found the little wooden stadium jammed with elderly fans watching the young stars. Later stops at larger parks in St. Petersburg and Tampa confirmed this peaceable view and also offered a first look at the squirming newborn Mets. The piece, “The Old Folks Behind Home,” ran a few weeks later in the magazine, and everybody seemed happy with it. It happened without any plan at all from me. I didn’t see it as a career move, I mean. And the long trail of those pieces and books happened one by one and grew only out of my own pleasure and excitement over the endless complexities and beauties of the game.
I don’t want to live in a world without him in it.
I started using the image of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock in Safety Last during the 2018 campaign. It captured my worries and concern for that election, which turned out well. The 2020 election is feeling even more fraught as Democrats seem hell bent on pulling defeat from the jaws of victory.
I was in the Carnival bubble all weekend, which is a lovely place to be. We had a small group of friends over yesterday to cheer on friends who rode in the King Arthur parade. When I came back to reality this morning, I wished I hadn’t pulled that pesky sword from the stone.
Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president* who is rightly seen as a menace by more than half the populace. He is beatable but he’s an incumbent with deep pockets and a willingness to cheat. He may well blow things up but Democrats are back to slashing at one another and sabotaging their chances in the fall. Once again, they’re missing the big picture. Campaigns are about themes and stories. While a positive message is needed, it need not be detailed. Take a look at FDR’s platform in 1932. He knew that the only issue was the failings and failures of the incumbent. In 2020, the most important issue is TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.
I am, however, enjoying the takedowns of Mike Bloomberg. A 78-year-old misogynist and racist with a habit of changing parties when it’s expedient should not be the Democratic nominee. The guy supported Bush in 2004 fer chrissake.
I had high hopes for the Democratic field last year but the winnowing process has been brutal. I remain frustrated that Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has floundered. Here’s how I put it on the tweeter tube in a response to Herriman biographer and parade route book signer Michael Tisserand:
Agreed. I’m frustrated because I know she would be the best candidate and best president. She’s also the best human being in the race. After the Impeached Insult Comedian, that’s important.