Monthly Archives: December 2020

Quote Of The Day: Dave Barry Edition

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to Dave Barry’s Year In Review every year. Many shitty things have been said about this crappy year, but I think Dave says it best:

We’re trying to think of something nice to say about 2020.

Okay, here goes: Nobody got killed by the murder hornets. As far as we know.

That’s pretty much it.

In the past, writing these annual reviews, we have said harsh things about previous years. We owe those years an apology. Compared to 2020, all previous years, even the Disco Era, were the golden age of human existence.

This was a year of nonstop awfulness, a year when we kept saying it couldn’t possibly get worse, and it always did. This was a year in which our only moments of genuine, unadulterated happiness were when we were able to buy toilet paper.

Which is fitting, because 2020 was one long, howling, Category 5 crapstorm.

It’s hard to argue that point. Besides, why would I argue with a writer from whom I’ve stolen a signature line: I am not making this up. I only steal from the best.

Dave’s catch phrase has come in handy during the gobsmacking Trump era when bizarre news has become the norm. The good news is that there are only 20 days to go until we replace the weird guy with even weirder hair with Joe Normal. Tick tock motherfuckers.

I’m on the record as disliking New Year’s Eve for its false jollity, joviality, and other J words. This year I’m looking forward to the end result. 2021 cannot possibly be worse than 2020. I hope it’s even worse for the Impeached Insult Comedian. I hope he’s indicted for one of his many crimes next year. That, in and of itself, will make 2021 a better year.

2020 can go fuck itself.

Let’s end on a hopeful note with a Kinks Klassic:

Hypocritic Oath

Sorry, Hippocrates, nothing personal, but your name’s close enough for a pun.

This is really about Josh Hawley’s play to the wingnut base with his ridiculous decision to challenge the Electoral College vote, and his even more ridiculous defense (warning, Fox Noise link).

Note, by the way, that the “but the Democrats…” justification by Hawley and others is accepted without question, and not just by Fox, despite the plain truth that voter suppression is a GOP tactic.

You’d think this would settle, once and for all, that the idea of a Moderate Republican, the Holy Grail of elite/corporate journalism, is the null set.

Howard Baker is dead, and besides, he was shoehorned into that role by dumb luck and a press constantly on the hunt even then for GOP Daddy heroes.

Sigh.

In other news, Moscow Mitch said nyet to helping American citizens.

Maybe they should’ve written the bill in Russian…

Goodbye, 2020…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Repeat Performance

While searching for NYE related material, I stumbled upon Repeat Performance at classicfilmchat.com. It’s a film noir that I’ve yet to see but this description is enticing:

It stars Joan Leslie, Louis Hayward, and Virginia Field and features Richard Baseheart, Tom Conway, and Natalie Schafer.  It’s film noir (with a touch of fantasy) about a lot of unpleasant people in the theatahhh in New York.

The story opens with murder, and when the star wishes she could live the year over again she is, of course, magically able to.  But she discovers the results frightening.

We don’t want to give away any of the intricate plot points.  Just take our word for it. It’s a unique take on New Year’s resolutions.  It’s a true classic

At the risk of repeating my performance, it sounds enticing. We begin with the poster:

Holy smoking gun, Batman.

It’s lobby card time:

The trailer isn’t online BUT Eddie Mueller’s Noir Alley introduction is:

How the hell did I miss that? I am a sinner in the church of the Noir Czar.

Time To Ring Some Changes

I assume everyone reading this read Athenae’s post announcing her departure from First Draft after 16 glorious years.  I first learned of her intentions in August. She asked if I wanted to become publisher and I agreed. I’ve been in mild denial ever since hoping that she’d change her mind and remain as a contributor. I respect and support her decision. I try not to tell people I care about what to do or think. I reserve that for public figures.

Allison invited me to join First Draft in September of 2009. I was honored by the invitation and have tried over the years not to disappoint her. I guess I haven’t since she’s passing the baton to me. I’ll try not to drop it.

I’ve often referred to the Athenae-Adrastos combination as fire and ice. That’s why it worked so well. Other writers came and went but First Draft went on. In my case on and on and on…

For the moment, it’s down to Tommy T, Michael F, and me. I don’t believe in change for change’s sake so any changes will be organic and gradual. I will frequently ask myself WWAD: What would Athenae do? Following her example should keep the doors open and the posts lively.

In the spirit of WWAD, I’d like to ask our readers for their help. If anyone out there is interested in becoming an occasional or even regular contributor, leave a comment or drop me an email at peathas@bellsouth.net. I’ve slowly but surely added some guest writers and hope they’ll contribute as well.

The goes for people who have written here in the past. If you want to dust off your blogging shoes, you’re always welcome to return. One thing is certain: I don’t want First Draft to become a boy’s club.

Finally, I’d like to thank Allison for all the great writing over the last 16 years. It’s been a thrill riding in the crack van and riding out various storms together. Thanks for entrusting me with your baby.

Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for Album Cover Art Wednesday. It’s playing hooky today.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson and the Albion Band:

Good Night, and Joy Be To You All

There’s no good way to do this, is there? Okay, fine. Land hard, roll left.

This is my last post at First Draft. I’m hanging up the hockey skates and parking the crack van, leaving Adrastos and the boys the keys. I know it seems like 2020 broke everybody, but this isn’t that. Look, it’s been 16 years. SIXTEEN YEARS.

This blog is in high school. It’s got its drivers license, can make itself a peanut butter sandwich and knows how to do its own laundry. It’s time.

In 2004 I had a nice, normal, adult life doing what I was always meant to do, the only thing I’ve ever been good at, which was being a reporter. You have to understand this was the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life. My first newsroom was like being switched on, like the first fireworks on the Fourth of July, like oh, here’s what I’m for. I chased that high for a decade afterwards, met some truly outstanding people and some real bastards, learned a lot from having my head bashed in a few dozen times, and told some stories I’m still proud of.

But around 2004-ish, it wasn’t working anymore. If you don’t know how scary it is when the thing you are, when the only thing you know how to do with any kind of skill, stops working, God I hope you never find out. I got up every morning and I dragged myself to the job and I wrote for my life and it all felt terrible, stilted and dumb and bad. I could not convince myself it was worth the powder but I also had no idea what else to do.

Enter the internet. The first internet, the one run from the Salon comments section and Television Without Pity, with writing that conveyed the urgency of things, that seemed adequate to a moment in which absolutely everybody had just lost their whole entire minds. Things were SO STUPID and nobody was really saying anything about how stupid it all was.

The switch flipped again. I wanted to write like the people I started reading, I wanted to stay up all night talking with these smart weirdos about things that mattered, which is what got me into journalism in the first place. I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs SHIT IS FUCKED UP AND BULLSHIT and this was the only place I could do that.

I wanted to write a book. I wanted to write posts. I wanted to write, again, and it was like lightning in my veins. Again.

What I didn’t expect, actually, was that anyone would read it.

Or care.

Or, like, donate money or book flights or buy books or do anything I asked them to do.

All we do here, all any writer ever does, is say what we have to say with the voice we possess. That’s why I get so angry at people with megaphones who spend their time hating and dividing, that’s why I get so angry at the people who pay those people. Your one job is to put something out in the world and this is what you do with it?

We fought Bush, and lost, and we fought for and with Obama, too, and won some, and lost, and we argued and made up (some of the time) and good Lord did we do some good. You guys cleaned pelicans when there was an oil spill and gutted a house after a hurricane and you funded a food pantry’s gift giveaway four years running, during the worst of the worst, and when all of this shit started you helped out each other. You were, and are, fantastic.

I had a kid, I worked two jobs, I got a new job, Trump got elected. I lost friends, I lost lots of illusions I didn’t know I still had. And somewhere along the line this became harder than it should be, and I’m not doing what I need to do for you here if all I’m doing is dragging myself to it. I feel like I talk and say the same things over and over. But:

In the past 16 years, through three presidents, and a house and a kid and eight ferrets and two cats and a couple more career changes, this place and the community we built has been my constant. I don’t quite know what I’ll do without you.

I have made lifelong friends here, people I talk to every day. I have always believed that people are basically good and want to be brave and true, but I had no idea. God, you’re all amazing.

I don’t want to end this by dumping on anyone, by the way. That this part of the story doesn’t end with me taking some fancy editorial page gig is okay. A lot of people I started out with have left. Some got famous and sucked into various modes of living in the political world and I have opinions about that and likely always will; no one but me is responsible for where I ended up. I don’t always want to hustle hard and that bites me in the ass. Look, at my age you’d better know what you are.

Things may change. Sometimes the work you do sleeps until it’s called and you don’t get to decide when that is.

Never throw your notes out, is what I usually say when asked advice about journalism. Never forget a source or lose track of a story, because one day when you least expect it there will be a knock on your door and everything you thought you’d given up on will be there to claim you. Understand the aftershocks, understand there’s no such thing as getting over. You just get on, and if you’re lucky you learn to live peaceably with all the yous you ever were, and forgive and love them, hard and mercilessly.

That’s the substance of a novel I started working on last year. This year I might finish it, I think; I’m working on it every day now, three sentences at a time, and it won’t leave me alone, the same way the last book I wrote wouldn’t leave me alone, which means it’s time to write it.

This isn’t Goodbye Cruel World. I’m not leaving the internet, and I’ll still be freelancing for various places. I’m on Twitter. I haven’t changed my e-mail address for 20 years. I’ll be around if you need me.

But it’s time to chase that high again, and this place made it possible for me to recognize that.

I owe you all everything, and I’ll love you all always.

A.

The Tabloid President*

Image by Michael F

I love using Michael F’s images but I’ve never used one so close in time to its debut. The tabloid baby image was born on Christmas Eve. It’s still in diapers so handle it with care.

The last week has shown yet again the Impeached Insult Comedian’s insatiable need to be the center of attention at all times. It’s the only explanation for his bizarre and belated intervention into the COVID relief bill. His treasury secretary was in the middle of the negotiations and was presumed to speak for the president*. Trump is a moody bastard, so he decided on a whim that the $600 check was not enough. I wish it was because he wanted to help people, but we know better. He wanted the attention.

That’s the key to Donald Trump: he wants the attention. That’s why he did The Apprentice. He wanted the attention and needed the money. It’s what happens when a millionaire lives la vita billionaire.  That stint on reality teevee gave him an image as a shrewd and savvy tycoon. It was, of course, phony but everything about him is phony except his incessant need for attention.

Calling him the reality show president* is accurate but everybody does it. I prefer to venture where fools fear to tread. That’s why I’m calling Trump the tabloid president*. He came to public attention in the 1980’s when there was a newspaper war in NYC between two tabloids who thrived on celebrity gossip: The Daily News and The Post. It was a perfect set-up for a guy who was willing to leak stories about himself to the media. It’s how a mouthy real estate developer with bad hair became a celebrity.

By the 2016 campaign, Trump was able to plant crazy stories about his GOP opponents in The National Enquirer. Who among us can forget these classics?

I never get tired of those covers.

Trump brought the tabloid mentality to national politics. All publicity is good publicity, especially if it brings you the attention that you crave. Trump’s tabloid mentality should have given him thick skin, but he craves attention’s first cousin: love. Denying people benefits is a funny way of receiving love but the Kaiser of Chaos is a funny little man.

Speaking of tabloids, Trump’s pals at the New York Post finally told him to knock it off and accept his defeat. Here’s the money quote:

“If you insist on spending your final days in office threatening to burn it all down, that will be how you are remembered. Not as a revolutionary, but as the anarchist holding the match.”

You say anarchist, I say arsonist. Let’s call the whole thing off. Literally, not figuratively.

The countdown continues:

 

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Furrperati – “saying goodbye” edition

Hi, people.  One of our readers advised me to take a short mental health break from Freeperville, so I decided to post about something marginally less sad – pets who have passed on. So – let tribute time begin!

I’d like to start with Sunny and Kingsford, who were fast friends from the day they met.  Sunny was one of those kittehs who thinks they’re a dog (and everyone who comes in the front door obviously did so just to pet him). He loved rubbing against your legs, especially when you were on the can.  Kingsford was the charcoal-coloured polar opposite – the kind who would sit behind the back edge of the couch, and take a swipe at you as you passed. I picked him out of a litter that a friend brought over, because while his litter mates were hanging around in front of the records (remember records?) mewing, he was on top of the records taking swipes at them as they passed by underneath.

Here’s the not-so-dynamic duo. Sunny would get in the straw basket, and Kingsford would squeeze in next to Sunny and go to sleep :

 

Sunny succumbed to an infection, and Kingsford, ever the escape artist, sneaked out an unclosed door one day and never came back.

I also had a Bulldog mix called B.J. He loved to lie down with his nose in my shoes just so he could smell me all the time.

Cancer took BJ about 15 years ago.

When Barbara moved in with me, she brought a hound named “Moe” (for “more dog”). He had been looking for a father figure, apparently, and was just happy to have a man to pet him. I’d be at my computer, when a wet nose and furry muzzle would nudge under my left hand, and suddenly I’d be petting Mo Doggie.

He left us around 12 years ago.

Barbara also brought her cat, “Precious Kitty”. She WAS precious, ultra feminine, and carried her poofy tail over her head like a parasol.

Precious made it to the very old age of 16, and was always the mistress of the house.

And that brings us to Bailey Bulldog.  He was a surrender from a family that didn’t want to take him in after their Dad died.

He came to us housebroken, leash and crate trained, and he loved to back up to you for bully-butt-pets.

Bailey died in his sleep at the incredible (for a bulldog) age of 15. He was a Very Very Good Boy.

Lastly, we had Brillo. Barbara met her at a Pet Smart adoption event, and this big girl (Scottish Deerhound, mostly) went up to Barb, lay down and put her muzzle on Barbara’s leg. And that, as they say, was that. I never saw the dog, just gave my blessings to the adoption, and was driving home the day Barbara had picked her up. I was on the phone with Barbara and she said “Sweetheart –  she’s not the prettiest dog….”   I took a deep breath, and then replied: “OK  –  how ugly IS she?” The dog’s shelter name had been “Purdy”, but I took one look at her with her outer coat fringe, and said “Brillo”. And Brillo she was, from that day forward.

That ugly mutt with the beautiful heart followed Barbara everywhere she went, and would proceed Barbara when she was coming toward the living room (looking over her shoulder to make sure Barbara was still coming).  I told Barbara: “That’s your herald.” Brillo was the most loving dog I’ve ever met, much less owned. She loved everyone, and everyone loved her.

We lost Brillo to lymphoma two months ago, only a month or so after we lost Precious.

So – we’re now petless for the the first time since we met, 20 + years ago.  It’s tough opening doors and not seeing a doggie or kitty on the other side.  We’re now of the age that a puppy or kitten might outlive us, and we wanted to do some traveling while we still can. So – no more pets.

Barbara was thinking about volunteering at a local shelter, but I know how that would turn out.

Here’s the good part. They’re not really gone. They’re right here now, on the pages of First Draft. Nothing lasts forever, but the love we give to and receive from our pets stays with us.  And this is where you come in.

Now, our wonderful furry friends are all still here with all of us, because you read this post.

I’ll see you good people next Monday, with Freeper reactions to the Electoral College decision.

 

 

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Fixing Schools

I got mad sometime in 2004 or so, when the war in Afghanistan became less about KILLING OSAMA BIN LADEN and more about “let’s paint some schools there to show ‘them’ Americans, despite dropping bombs on them for decades, are nice people they should love and emulate right down to endless re-runs of ‘Friends.'”

I got mad because on a near-daily basis I spent time in schools that had literal holes in the roof and doors that wouldn’t stay shut unless they were padlocked, where in one classroom kids wore parkas and another the windows were open in January because the heating was just … like that.

Why can’t we paint THOSE schools, I would ask, and silly girl. Honestly.

We can wrap our heads around charity far, far away, much more easily than we can here at home. This gets to some of why:

This story, which I read years ago and never forgot, gets to the rest: 

Winfrey, who devoted five years to creating the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls outside Johannesburg, also said of the assistance she has given at home, “I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isn’t there.”

In America, she says, “If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don’t ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school.”

We have this idea that there’s a way people should behave, properly grateful for the things they should get, and when we’re confronted with the fact that people are PEOPLE, and messy, and don’t act like we think they should, we throw up our hands and throw in the towel.

Forgetting that, of course, we owe one another not just our resources and our care but also our absolute understanding that once something leaves our hands it’s not up to us anymore what people do with it.

If we see the same panhandler on the corner every weekend looking drunker and twitchier no matter how much money we give him, we start to think he’s just spending our money on a high. But if we give to the faraway, if we do the mission trip and come home and only see the newsletter the mission sends which is designed to make us feel good and keep giving, well, then we know our time was well-spent.

These are both assumptions, and they’re dangerous and damaging, as is the constant drumbeat that “government” wastes our money on “welfare” and “those people,” superimposed over images of a Black person somewhere, sometime, breaking something. In other words, the entire Fox oeuvre. The church missions are to the Developing World, not down the block. We are conditioned, by now, to make those assumptions, to see in care for others the faces not of our friends and neighbors but of an “other.”

And while I’d like to believe the pandemic would change that, any relief money received is likely to be accompanied by a flood of those same FOX NEWS WATCHDOG INVESTIGATES stories about “people” spending it on jewelry or something, sourced to an anecdote from an anonymous Costco employee in, say, Ohio.

The needs are real, just as real as any “for pennies a day you could save a child” commercial: 

The pandemic is giving us an opportunity to make a pivot that we should have made long ago. We have been on a treadmill of short-term fixes, pretending that if we just get the right test, the right incentives, put the right pressure on teachers and students, they will achieve what is good for them, like it or not. But we are realizing what we should have known all along: that you can’t widget your way to powerful learning, that relationships are critical for learning, that students’ interests need to be stimulated and their selves need to be recognized.

If we’d had a real functioning government we’d have spent this year doing unsexy things like upgrading the HVAC systems in every school in the land and doubling the pay of every custodian. Making sure the windows all open, and are screened.

But it’s hard to make that glossy enough to goose donors for cash. We can’t have a conference about it and design software and metrics. And the kids it’ll benefit likely won’t even notice except that they’ll, you know, still be alive and healthy, so you can see why it’s far more attractive to parachute a pallet of cash into someplace far away and never ask where it really ends up.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2020

2020 was a dreadful year for the country but a prolific and productive one for me as a writer. I’ve posted a personal best 534 times thus far at First Draft; a figure inflated by two new music features and 25 chapters of my hitherto unpublished novel.

The first winnowing was difficult, but I reduced the number to 125 entries. Nobody wants to read a Top 125 list, so I continued cutting. It got harder and harder as I went on. It made me feel like the chap on the cover of In The Court Of The Crimson King. In the immortal words of Tim Finn, what can a poor boy do?

I decided to cut the baby in half by separating the Saturday Odd & Sods posts from the rest.  I cut that list down to 5, then added my 5 favorite 13th Ward Rambler columns from my other home on the internet, Bayou Brief.

The Best Of Saturday Odds & Sods:

1/11/2020:  Life Is A Minestrone

4/18/2020: Gethsemane

8/22/2020: We Can Work It Out

9/5/2020: Turn It On Again

10/3/2020: For What It’s Worth

The Best Of The 13th Ward Rambler:

2/7/2020:  Painted From Memory: Coach Jay, Pistol Pete, and Me

7/15/2020: Mask Wars

9/14/2020: Stuck On Stupid

9/29/2020: 2020 Fatigue

11/10/2020: Nice Guys Don’t Always Finish Last

That sleight of hand left me with a top 40 list of the rest.  Here it is.

The Weekday Adrastos Top 40:  

1/6/2020: The First Casualty

1/31/2020: If Life Were A Capra Movie

2/7/2020:   Willard, I Hardly Knew Ye

2/12/2020: Still There’ll Be More

2/13/2020: Peter Gabriel & Me

3/9/2020: The Shadow Of Incompetence

3/16/2020:  Let’s See Inaction

3/22/2020: We’re All Milo Minderbinder Now

4/2/2020: Together Alone

4/15/2020: I, Captain Bligh

4/24/2020: Only The Stupid Or Cynical

4/29/2020: Stephen Miller’s Song

5/15/2020: Conspiracy Of Cretins

5/20/2020: The Age Of Overkill

5/27/2020: American Carnage, 2020

6/3/2020: Bill Barr: Waddling His Way To Infamy

6/12/2020: Bad Company

6/25/2020: Nuance Is Dead

7/6/2020: North By Northwest, Trump Style

7/20/2020: John Lewis, R.I.P.

7/22/2020: Everybody Knows

7/24/2020: Yoho Ho & A Bottle Of Dumb

8/3/2020: Paul Drake, R.I.P.

8/17/2020: Rebirthing Birtherism

9/2/2020:  Midsommar In America

9/4/2020: My Uncle Was A ‘Loser’

9/18/2020: Abolish The Electoral College

9/23/2020: Malaka Of The Week: Van Morrison

10/1/2020: A Coney Island Of The Mind

10/5/2020: The GOP Dominoes Keep Tumbling

10/7/2020: Joe Biden Has Donald Trump’s Number

10/21/2020: George Wallace Called Him Mousey Tongue

11/5/2020: The COVID Factor

11/11/2020: Coup Chatter Clickbait

11/13/2020: Malakas Of The Week: John Lydon & Mike Love

11/16/2020: All Over But The Pouting

12/9/2020:  Texas Twisted

12/14/2020: Sycophancy, Not Sedition

12/21/2020:  I’m Dreaming Of A Slow News Day

12/24/2020: All About Christmas Eve Pardons

That’s it for the final 2020 edition of Saturday Odds & Sods.  We close with a reminder that help is on the way.

 

The Christmas Song

The Friday Cocktail Hour comes early on Christmas Day. We want to catch Santa before he’s hungover, after all. Besides, Santa Donald has driven us to drink with his unpardonable pardons. I hope he gets coal in his stocking.

Mel Tormé and Bob Weiss wrote The Christmas Song on a boiling hot day in the summer of 1945. The two were trying to stay cool by thinking of winter. It’s unclear if that worked but the song certainly does.

Last Saturday, reader Christflora shared a link to a story from the News From Me blog about the Velvet Fog and some carolers. There’s always a good story when Mel Tormé is involved.

We begin with the songwriter himself.

Nat King Cole was the first to record The Christmas Song. Here he is in toon form:

The first version I ever heard of this song was by the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour;

A nice jazzy interpretation by the great Ella Fitzgerald:

Finally, a 21st Century cover by Aimee Mann:

That’s it for the first Christmas day edition of the Friday Cocktail. I hope everyone had a Merry Xmas. Time to spike some eggnog with Jack Daniel’s.  It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

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

This is the third time I’ve run this picture of Oscar and Della Street glaring at a faux reindeer. I never get tired of it.

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.

Merry Christmas.

A holiday edition of the Friday Cocktail Hour will be online at noon. We need to start drinking early this year.

All About Christmas Eve Pardons

Young crooks: Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

A major wave of corrupt pardons by the crooked president* came last night on Christmas Eve Eve. There may be more to come on Christmas Eve itself. In All About Eve, Margot Channing warned us that we were in for “a bumpy night.” Who am I to argue with a Bette Davis character? Remember when Bette served Joan Crawford a rat in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? Those broads played rough…

It’s time for another Life Imitates The Sopranos moment. Santa Donald has spent the week bestowing gifts on the grifters who refused to rat him out. A reminder that playing St. Nick can be dangerous. The two Sopranos characters who played Santa at the Pork Store Christmas party were wacked: Big Pussy and Bobby Bacala. Not a happy precedent for Paulie and Roger.

I have New Jersey on my mind because of the pardon of Jared Kushner’s father, Charles. That sleazy real estate developer was successfully prosecuted by Chris Christie who used his fame as a portly prosecutor as a springboard to the Governorship. Slumlord Jared still nurses a grudge against former Gov. Asshole who must be fuming right now.

The Impeached Insult Comedian clearly thinks pardoning his Kremlingate cronies is a clever move. I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Donald.

Here’s what former Mueller man and Manafort prosecutor Andrew Weismann said about it on Twitter:

Who’s next? Steve Bannon knows where the early skeletons are buried. He’s one possibility as is Rudy and the odd Trump family member. A reminder that Trump will only pardon relatives if they have something on him. He won’t do it out of love or loyalty. He doesn’t know the meaning of either word. The only love he’s capable of is self-love

Speaking of Who’s Next, I think the Who album cover sums up the situation: Trump and his enablers are peeing on the national obelisk instead of leading. It’s not a good Bargain for the American people:

A quote from a recent Vanity Fair interview with former Trump fixer Michael Cohen comes to mind right now:

“Hand them a shit pie so gross they will choke on it.”

It’s what they given the country, after all. Turnabout strikes me as fair play.

Finally, a few thoughts for those folks who believe that a Trumpist coup is a possibility instead of a fever dream. A leader who is planning a golpe de estado to keep himself in office never leaves the capital. (When Gorbachev left Moscow in the summer of 1991, that’s when the Soviet dead enders struck.) Why did Trump go to Florida if he wants to declare martial law? There’s no plan. There’s never a plan with this guy.

One of the worst things about the Trump era is how conspiratorial thinking has spread across the political spectrum. I hope the trend dissipates after he’s gone, but some usually sensible people on the left have been spouting nonsense about pocket vetoes leading to what Latin Americans call an “auto-golpe.” That’s a coup intended to keep a leader in power. They know about coups in South America. Americans don’t know shit about coups, and it shows every time people mutter about them online and elsewhere. Leave the conspiracy theories to QAnon and Alex Jones, y’all. Please.

The last word goes to Southern Culture On The Skids with a countrypolitan classic whose full title is (I Beg Your Pardon) I Never Promised You A Rose Garden:

Rumor has it that shit pies make excellent fertilizer. I wouldn’t know first-hand: plants die if I so much as look at them.

Predictable Finale

Of course it was going to end like this. Is anyone really surprised?

“Complete clusterf—,” summarized one top Republican Hill aide.

The world’s oldest baby/bully is stuffing pardons into the stockings of loyalists and lumps of coal into those of his enemies, while deliberately leaving a colossal mess for the incoming Biden administration.

Then there’s his, um, legacy.

DJT’s loyal minions will insist, like all cultists in good-standing, that Dear Leader is the “kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being they’ve ever known,” while the rest of us can barely keep up with the firehose of sleaze and corruption.

Things that would’ve sunk any other administration are lost in the glare.

Like how he’s abandoned even a pretense of showing or demonstrating any concern for the responsibilities of his office, to cite a single example.

Oh, and while yeah, the most likely scenario over the next month is an epic tantrum and extended pout, I’m still not going to rest easy until he’s gone.

Trump might be lazy, but he won’t pass on the chance to screw anyone he defines as an enemy.

He’ll also look for any cracks in the system he can exploit for gain, legal or not.

It’s what he does.

January 20th can’t get here soon enough.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: And Four To Go

I grew up on Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries. My mom was a fan and she introduced me to the books. I never got into growing orchids, but my paunch currently resembles that of William Conrad and Maury Chaykin who played the detective on teevee.

And Four To Go is a short story anthology that kicks off with the holiday classic Christmas Party.

I’m Still Dreaming Of A Slow News Day

I’ve recycled post titles before but never so close in time to the first one, which was just Monday. At least the original is a good one: it made the Best of Adrastos 2020, which will land on Saturday morning. Holy shameless promotion, Batman.

I don’t think I’ve ever quoted Axios aka Son of Politico before but they have great sources in Trumpistan:

Advisers to President Trump tell Axios three forces drove last night’s twin bombshells — a slew of pardons for his allies and a last-hour attack on the $900 billion stimulus bill as a “disgrace.”

1. Because he can: As Jonathan Swan has explained, Trump loves pardons for the same reason he relishes executive orders — pure power and instant gratification. A longtime Trump official says that pardons are uniquely satisfying to Trump because he can overturn the work of another branch of government, the judiciary.

2. He wants attention: As the nation moves on from the election and President-elect Biden names a Cabinet and addresses the nation, Trump — mostly out of sight for the past seven weeks — “sees Biden being relevant every day,” one presidential adviser said. That helps explain the video Trump tweeted 14 minutes after announcing the pardons, calling on Congress to increase “ridiculously low” stimulus checks from $600 for an individual to $2,000.

3. It splits the party: Trump wants the Republican Party to remain beholden to him, and is desperate to retain his GOP power past Jan. 20. Top Republicans are increasingly queasy about the two runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine which party controls the Senate. Last night’s White House actions undermine the GOP Senate candidates by fomenting turmoil and distraction, and robbing the senators of a clear win on the stimulus.

We already knew that President* Pennywise loves throwing shit against the wall and seeing how much of it sticks. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

We already knew that he loves attention, even the wrong sort of attention. He’s not only the Kaiser of Chaos, he’s the Monarch of the Tabloids. It’s a world in which any attention is preferable to no attention. It’s crazy but so is Donald J Trump.

It’s sick to issue pardons to remain relevant. The worst of the bunch are the ones granted to the Blackwater thugs who committed atrocities against Iraqi civilians. Why do Trumpers think this sort of shit is okay? It’s why the Impeached Insult Comedian has so little support in the military other than the lunatic retired General he pardoned. So much for their golpe de estado fantasias.

Speaking of crazy, imagine wanting to divide one’s own party to keep control of it. That’s not only nutty, it’s stupid. Of course, Trump specializes in nutty and stupid.

As to the crooked Republican politicians pardoned, two of them, Steve Stockman and Duncan Hunter are past malakas of the week. The only mystery is how I missed Chris Collins who was the first House GOPer to endorse the Current Occupant.

January 20th cannot come soon enough. We’re all tired of this reality show acting, tabloid headline hunting motherfucker who only wants to stay in office to avoid prosecution. There’s a special place in hell reserved for his enablers.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Merry Christmas … Have A Nice Life

I’m on the record as not caring for most Christmas music. One Christmas album I *do* like has a bad title and a cheesy cover but the contents are damn good: Merry Christmas…Have A Nice Life by Cyndi Lauper. I refuse to include the happy face but I forgive her for it.

Not only is Ms. Lauper one of the finest singers in creation, she wrote a bunch of swell songs for this 1998 album. I wonder, however, if her Santa is sober. You never can tell.

 Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

The Weary World

Two people I know, both health care workers, got the vaccine this week. They’re both fine, no side effects, and others are in line for it.

I’ve been keeping a list, since this started, in my head, of people the world simply cannot exist without, and I am trying to keep everyone on it alive until this is over.

You’re on that list, so if you need something, you ask. Don’t even think about it. Someone can help.

Yesterday Kick and I packed up the car with presents and went around dropping them on friends’ porches to say Merry Christmas, through masks, to wave to people and jump up and down with excitement at the mere sight of one another. We have more to deliver today and more tomorrow. I’m grateful for every single mile we’re traveling because it means somebody at the end is still okay.

We’ve lost so much, this year. So many. And it’s going to be months before the cases drop to zero. Maybe years.

I’ve said all I can say about this: That it didn’t have to happen this way, that we could have controlled and managed and worked harder, that we could have paid everyone to stay home so they weren’t choosing between their present and their future, that we should have and could have done more if we weren’t paralyzed with meanness and selfishness and fear. That we don’t have to sacrifice concretes — the children, alive, here today right now — for abstracts — the idea of some future child burdened by debts that only seem to exist when it’s politically convenient.

We have a winter to get through, and God help us the only way we’re gonna get through is the same way we always have. With one another, hand in hand, second by second.

So string the lights, and build an outdoor fire. Sing carols from the sidewalk instead of the porch, see your loved ones however you ever safely can. I don’t want to hear anyone saying we don’t deserve a moment of grace if we can possibly claw one out of the stones this year. If we have enough, we will find a way to share it, and be as extravagant in that joy as if this was a time of peace and plenty.

Merry Christmas to all of you. I want you here next year, too, okay? So let us know what we can do.

A.

I’m Dreaming Of A Slow News Day

I woke up with White Christmas in my head. I suspect you’ve heard of it. #sarcasm. It’s a Christmas song written by a Jewish guy and popularized by an Irish Catholic guy. The overwhelming popularity of the song always struck me as a bit odd since I’ve never lived in a place where a White Christmas is a likelihood. Hell, neither did Der Bingle: he lived not far from where I grew up.

This year, I’m dreaming of a slow news day just like the ones we used to know. Remember when presidents took a vacation during the holidays? That’s my dream: Reagan on his ranch, Poppy Bush in Maine, Obama in Hawaii. Unlike the Current Occupant, they knew the perils of overexposure.

American used to focus on the holidays on the Monday before Christmas. In 2020, the Impeached Insult Comedian is still working overtime to own the libs. Why not? It’s so easy. The whole Michael Flynn-Martial Law leak is classic Trump: blow smoke and sow seeds of confusion about something that is impossible. Repeat after me: IMPOSSIBLE.

I certainly believe that Flynn is capable of such an utterance, but he was pandering to the guy who pardoned him. Martial law isn’t a thing that can just be declared without planning and preparation. When did the Kaiser of Chaos ever plan anything? Martial law isn’t even an American thing: there’s no specific provision for it in either the constitution or federal law.

A reminder that the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared themselves out of politics before the election. You can’t have marital law or a coup without the military. The brass hate Trump. They’d rather have an asterisk-free president who doesn’t call veterans “losers and suckers.” I understand that there’s one available.

I have other dreams this chilly, not snowy New Orleans morning.

I dream that people will stop misusing words like coup, sedition, and treason. Things are bad enough without overdramatizing everything.

I dream that my social media feeds will not be clogged with people who hate authoritarianism so much that they want to throw everyone in jail. Proof positive that irony isn’t dead.

I dream that people will stop lamenting the hardship of a socially distant holiday season and focus on 2021 when the holiday season will be back to semi-normal. Life is hard enough without relentless kvetching. Repeat after me: Better stir crazy than dead.

I dream that we can go a week without thinking of the sitting president because he’s a normal guy, not a sociopath. I understand that there’s one available.

Living in interesting times is overrated. I’m dreaming of a slow news day just like the ones we used to know.

The last word goes to the Irish Catholic guy who popularized White Christmas:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Free Beer Tomorrow” edition

I may have to take a short break between now and inauguration day.

As much as I enjoy watching the Freeperati strangle as they run out of air, this is getting a bit depressing and hard to watch.

Russell Ramsland: “I think there will be huge evidence coming forward in the next couple of days that will drastically change the playing field. The question is will anyone report on it.” at minute 6:00 in the video link.
Populist Press/Newsmax ^ | 12-18-2020 | NewsMax

Posted on 12/19/2020, 8:57:25 AM by PK1991

Russell Ramsland: “I think there will be huge evidence coming forward in the next couple of days that will drastically change the playing field. The question is will anyone report on it.” at minute 6:00 in the video link.

Ramsland: The courts aren’t going to help us. All the case dismissals are not related to evidence. Not one court has looked at any evidence yet.

Ramsland also talks about his forensic examination of the Antrim county voting machines report.

Ramsland responds to Dominion CEO’s denial that the system can flip votes or uses fractional voting. “He needs to go back and look at his own machines and read paragraph 11.0 of his own user manual.”

Ramsland: In his report the Michigan Secretary of State after asking that the whole report not be released asked that the computer logs that were part of the report be redacted. The Judge ordered the computer logs redacted form the report. Then after it is released they say there is no evidence in the report.

1 posted on 12/19/2020, 8:57:25 AM by PK1991
But it’s from “Newsmax”. It’s gotta be true!!
To: PK1991

“I think there will be huge evidence coming forward in the next couple of days..”

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

More free beer — tomorrow.

3 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:01:13 AM by Starboard

To: PK1991

Lucy/football/us.

5 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:01:50 AM by dynachrome ( “The people have spoken . . . and they must be punished.” Ed Koch)

To: BobL

Why, why, have we not seen any evidence of this????I’m tired of all this “evidence” that is supposed to be boom, huge breaking news, colossal, etc…..and yet…..nothing is ever dropped.

4 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:01:20 AM by ealgeone
To: PK1991

I think it’s the Kracken!!

11 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:06:31 AM by 2big2fail

To: PK1991

BOOM POW BANG !!!! WE GOT’M NOW !!!

23 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:25:55 AM by devane617 (…)

(Tommy T puts on oxygen mask to keep from drowning in sarcasm)
To: 2big2fail
35 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:34:12 AM by DoodleBob (Gravity’s waiting period is about 9.8 m/s^2)
See what I mean?   And I am SO stealing that meme!
“If it was anybody else, I’d say what’s going to happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you’re going to need more than one lesson. And you’re going to get more than one lesson.”
Ray Collins, in “Citizen Kane”
To: ealgeone

“I’m tired of all this “evidence” that is supposed to be boom, huge breaking news, colossal, etc…..and yet…..nothing is ever dropped.”

How would Hannity stay in business? After all, each night he opens with wild claims of new “bomb shell” information/proof and then. . . .nothing.

42 posted on 12/19/2020, 9:41:11 AM by Hulka ( )

And of course :
To: crz

I doubt they will ever look at any of it.You and me both. From this point forward, it will take bloodshed. And from what I have seen, we are up to that. A few are, but not enough. I only hope that there is enough of us to give a good account of ourselves.

120 posted on 12/19/2020, 12:46:10 PM by sport
The “Bloodshed bullshit” fantasies below the fold…

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The Stories We Choose to Tell

I’ve written before about the individual shaming, around COVID particularly but in general, but as we go headlong into what is about to be a cold and lonely winter I’d like to encourage us all to stop elevating the stories of assholes:

This whole thing was the internet piñata for the day, and I understand why people are angry with this family, with everyone they hear about going on a vacation or everyone they see hanging out at a restaurant. I haven’t seen my friends in months and I worry about ten people I know who are struggling every single day, and hearing about some giant house party or live indoor concert makes me crazy too.

It’s useless, is the problem.

I think a lot of people who are flouting rules are dickheads, and public shaming only hardens their resolve to continue to act like their heads are made of dicks. This is already a demographic — mostly white, well-to-do, temperamentally inclined to yell at the Starbucks girl — that enjoys feeling persecuted by being taught any new thing. Protesting their weddings and bar mitzvahs just confirms for them that they are correct.

I also, though, think a lot of people who have followed the rules, who have done what they were supposed to do, for a long-ass time, who homeschooled their kids and shut down their lives and ordered takeout and Zoomed with Grandma are UTTERLY LOSING IT IN THE FACE OF GOVERNMENT INACTION AND INEPTITUDE and are just like look, if nobody behaves then it doesn’t matter if I do. Which is exactly the conclusion you come to when you have the leadership we have.

The entire point of our leadership should be to tell us what we’re all goddamn doing here. What are we a part of, what do we all believe? Jesus, even the GOPers whose messages were small and mean had a message that wasn’t just SCREW YOU THIS IS WHO YOU SHOULD BE MAD AT. It was like massive bullshit all the time but at least it was a message.

Without that, without a voice of calm and decency telling us that what we are doing takes courage and kindness, that it is worth it, that we will get through, that everything will be okay, that we have faced hard times before and will manage them again, you wonder if your sacrifices are worth it. If all you hear is the rule-breaking and the belligerence and the hate of our fellow jackasses, if all you see is the angry mob and not the nurses and doctors fighting this every single day and sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing but every single day getting up and trying again, if you fill your head with poison and hopelessness and anger …

Well, we’ve seen pretty well these last four years what that leads to. Think about all the people you know who are constantly mainlining stories of liberal depravity, of Democrats secretly molesting and killing children, of secret microchips and controlling the population. Think about what it does to every cell in your body to spend all your time in a frustrated rage.

Then think about the people who put signs in their windows at the start of this, that are still there months later: WE’VE GOT THIS. WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. HAVE HOPE. The scavenger hunts and the handmade masks, the donations, the phone calls, the “what do you need” and the “I have one of those, you can have it for free” that have sustained and uplifted us all.

At the dark and dead end of the year, on the days when it seems like the whole world just might stop turning and we will live forever in the night, I want us to turn our attention to the stories of people whose lives have honored the dead and not those who’ve disgraced them.

I want us to spend a fraction of the time we spend freaking out on social media about somebody not behaving properly elevating the stories of those who have. I want applause — and MONEY — for teachers doing the most, for delivery drivers working triple-shifts, for the researchers who found the vaccine, for the coffee shops keeping them all going. I want our attention on THEM, and not on some puds who needed to have a wedding.

That wedding is over. We have a winter to get through. We need to hold on.

A.