Monthly Archives: March 2021

Calling The Cops On The Cops

I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the trial of Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. I have some random thoughts about what I’ve seen thus far.

The way the defendant’s name is pronounced is jarring to this Louisianan’s ear. In the Gret Stet, it’s pronounced SHOW-VAN. We have some good friends who are Chauvins, no relation.

In Minnesota the name seems to be pronounced SHAW-VIN.

Oh well, what the hell.

The prosecution’s main witness is THE VIDEO. But it needed to be authenticated by Darnella Frazier who filmed the whole incident with her camera phone. She was also a helluva witness. The defense opened the door with a question about her emotional reaction to the murder of George Floyd. The prosecution threw her a hanging curveball and she knocked it out of the park.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson is a bad cross-examiner whose attempts to provoke witnesses have been largely ineffective. He’s trying to prove that the crowd assembled outside Cup Foods was an angry mob in a bad neighborhood. It hasn’t worked with me but I’m not on the jury. It’s the only audience that matters.

Nelson wisely limited his cross-examination of the underage witnesses. Bullying a 9-year-old girl is a bad look.

He had no compunction about going after Donald Williams who was one of the most voluble eyeball witnesses at the crime scene. He’s a mixed martial arts fighter so he immediately understood the peril George Floyd was in.

Williams heckled the cops with the refrain, “You a bum.” I believe in calling a bum a bum so I’m in complete agreement.

Nelson trotted out the angry black man thing with Williams. It was undermined by the simple fact that he was the one who called the police on the police. I’ve paraphrased it for the post title: cops flows better.

That brings me to firefighter Genevieve Hansen. The defense quite rightly views her as an existential threat. She’s a certified EMT who has the expertise to comment upon Chauvin’s actions.  The police refused to allow her to help George Floyd.

Hansen is also a white chick and, more importantly in Minnesota, Norwegian or Swedish. Probably the former because of the sen.

If you’ve ever seen the original Fargo, you know that her ethnicity is a big deal in heavily Scandinavian Minnesota. It’s like a Cajun witness testifying against a rogue racist cop in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Nelson’s cross-examination of  Hansen made me cross. He patronized her because of her youth and gender. Hansen got irritated and fought back. The judge was not amused. I was.

The prosecution case is off to a roaring start. The hard part comes next: proving intent. In order to convict Chauvin of any degree of murder, intent is the key. His actions meet the depraved indifference standard but intent is the key to locking this bigoted bastard up.

The MSM focus on social media reactions to the trial is amusing but misplaced. The only reaction that matters is that of the jury. Just ask Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger, they know. Mercifully, Eric Nelson is no Perry Mason.

GAETZGATE?

I have Watergate on my mind because the nitwit who “masterminded” the break-in, G Gordon Liddy, died yesterday at the age of 90. Liddy was known for his mindless loyalty to Tricky Dick and post-prison talk radio windbaggery.

We go from no-hair Watergate to big-hair Gaetzgate.

Liddy’s death provided the backdrop for a blockbuster New York Times story about one of the Trumpiest Trumpers of all, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz:

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.

It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people.

The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said.

The three people said that the examination of Mr. Gaetz, 38, is part of a broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of chargesincluding sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.

This is some serious shit, y’all. Greenberg is looking at an extended stretch in the slammer. If he can be induced to flip on Gaetz, the latter could be in deep shit. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

I realize that I’m on the record as opposing affixing a gate to every scandal. But this is an exceptional case because it’s punny and scans so well: GAETZGATE. I think it looks best in all caps.

Like his lord and master, Pennywise, Gaetz looks out for #1. In 2017, he was the only member of Congress to vote against an anti-human trafficking bill.

In response to the NYT story, Gaetz cried SQUIRREL and gave the media hounds something to chase: an alleged extortion scheme.

Gaetz even tried to use fellow wingnut shitbag Tucker Carlson as an alibi. Tucker may be a fucker, but he denied dining with Gaetz and a young lady who is NOT jailbait according to Gaetz. Would he lie? Hell, yes.

GAETZGATE. Try it, you’ll like.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Meet Robert Clary

I knew Robert Clary from watching Hogan’s Heroes reruns as a kid. He played the lovable Louis Le Beau who, in the manner of all comedic Frenchmen, was a swell cook forever bribing the inept guard Sergeant Schultz with food.

It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I learned there was much more to Clary. He was a Holocaust survivor and a helluva singer.

We have two covers this week: the weird Hogan’s Heroes album led me on a Clary quest. I found 1955’s Meet Robert Clary, which has a similar vibe to some early Beatles covers. Oui, oui, oui.

Here’s the Clary album via Spotify:

Your American Healthcare System At Work

As a rule, I never use this forum to complain about something that happened to me in real life. Since it’s vaccination day here at First Draft, I’m breaking that rule. As I like to say, there’s an exception to every rule.

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Morial Convention Center on March 13. It’s where the local hospital chain LCMC has been vaccinating people. My first visit went well, and I suspect my second one will too. There was, however, some weirdness last night and this morning.

I’ve been patiently waiting for my second jab, which was originally scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday April 3. I missed a call from LCMC who left a voice mail informing me that my appointment had to be rescheduled.

No reason was given but I suspect it had something to do with Easter weekend. New Orleans is a very Catholic town, and they might have had a problem with volunteers or something. I don’t know since communication is not the medical behemoth’s strong suit.

I returned the call in a matter of minutes last night only to learn that they were closed. Fair enough: it was after 6:30 PM.

The message gave me two options: April 1 and April 6. I prefer the former. I’m tired of waiting for my second jab. I want to get this over with.

I called early this morning and was informed that April 1 was unavailable. I asked why and was told “I only make the appointments.”

I pointed out that LCMC was accepting walk-ins at the Convention Center and that some vaccine had been wasted. Again, I was told “I only make the appointments.”

She might as well have said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

I reluctantly accepted the later appointment, but I was fuming. I hate things that make no sense, and this was as arbitrary as it gets. I arrived 20 minutes early for my first jab and was taken immediately because they had the space.

Instead of getting mad, I decided to get even by calling back. I got a different operator who actually listened. It turned out that there *were* appointments on April 1, so I rescheduled after giving the second operator a piece of my mind. I did so without raising my voice.

The operators both sounded local so the first one should have gotten it. LCMC insisted that I move my appointment. All I wanted was some flexibility. I understood that it would have to be a specific date because I need a second dose of Pfizer, but they needed to work with me.

Operator #1 acted as if I was trying to reschedule a normal doctor’s appointment. The Convention Center is serving as a mass vaccination site: there’s built-in flexibility. I understand hating one’s job but taking it out on someone who just wants to be vaccinated during the pandemic is ridiculous. Oy, just oy.

There are two lessons to be learned from this incident:

  • The squeaky wheel gets oiled.
  • Our healthcare system needs change.

I know my experience with disembodied voices at the end of a telephone line is not unusual. To be told that I had to delay my second jab was too much. I’m glad I’m fought back but I shouldn’t have had to. Oh well, what the hell.

Let’s close on a lighter note and give the last word to ELO:

A Postcard From The Vaccination Line

Vaccination Card

Gives new meaning to “Don’t Leave Home Without It”

Like El Grand Heffe of First-Draft himself, I find myself in the netherworld of having had one, but not both, jabs of the COVID vaccine. My next jab comes in mid April, three weeks after my first cause that’s how Kaiser Permanente, my HMO, rolls.

Speaking of rolling, my jab, from entering the building to exiting, took a total of 30 minutes. 20 of them were spent sitting waiting to see if after the jab I went into anaphylactic shock. Surrounding me and my fellow jabbonees were a phalanx of nurses, nurse practitioners, and even a guy with an degree from an accredited medical school. They stood ready, just in case, all armed with recently price increased EpiPens (thanks Heather Bresch daughter of WV Senator Joe Manchin).

For all of you worried about pain related to the jab all I can say is GROW UP YOU F**KING CHILDREN. Excuse me that was my inner voice. What I meant to say is that the nurse who injected me was putting on the Band-Aid before I even realized I had been inoculated.  Twenty minutes of staring at my phone later I was back in the warm sunshine.

Would that it were like that for everybody.

My wife (Cruella) for instance had a far less pleasant experience. She has a PPO or as I like to say, the healthcare hard way. When informed by her insurance plan that she was eligible to get the vaccine she went on line to see where they suggested she go for the quickest jab. Yuba City was the closest location nominated. Yuba City is 102 miles and two hours of driving away from our home. The actual closest medical office to us would have required a one month wait.

Never one to accept the ineptitude of the medical establishment and unwilling to trust a proper injection from the trained-this-morning teenager at the local outlet of the chain pharmacy, she opted to attempt a stratagem endorsed by some of our neighbors.

She bypassed her medical insurance gatekeeper, went online, and made an appointment at one of the local vaccine sites.

Ultimately it worked. Not as smoothly as I experienced, but it did work. Told to be there at 4:20pm and upon arriving hearing they were running “about 20 minutes behind” her actual wait in line was an hour and a half. Unfortunately she was standing behind a 19 year old who was working herself into a tizzy over how much it was going to hurt. Her tizzy process was the entire ninety minutes in line. If there is a hell this was surely the coming attraction for it.

At least we’re not in Georgia so they were kind enough to offer water to those in line.

Once at the registration table a quick glance at her driver’s license was all that was necessary for confirmation of her eligibility and she was on to the visiting nurse who jabbed, Band-Aided, and told her where to sit. On her way out she made a point to thank any health care worker she saw for their patience and care.

They were all floored at her kind words. No one else had thought to thank them before.

Really people, what would your mothers think?

I must point out at this moment that the morning after her injection my wife woke up with a tingling rash. When it did not go away she went to the doctor who diagnosed it as vaccine induced shingles. Medications have been prescribed and she will be fine. If you have a reaction to the vaccine please make sure to report it to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. She is the 121st person to report shingles from the Pfizer vaccine.

Why two such varying experiences when everyone in the country is being asked to get this vaccine? This hodge-podge of rules and eligibilities from not just one state to another but from one county to another and in some cases one city to another is a part of the reason people have their doubts about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Sometimes you just have to admit there is a problem too huge for individual states to handle on their own. States don’t declare war, the federal government does because war is too big a problem for one state to handle on it’s own. This is a war against a disease that recognizes no human constructed borders or boundaries. It was the federal government’s job to wage this war. Like a war they should have come up with a strategy of fighting, from initial steps citizens could take on their own to juicing the pharma companies to produce a vaccine to having a plan in place and ready to distribute the vaccine and inject it into our citizens.

Ah but there’s the rub. Until a few weeks ago, the federal government was under the control of the Republicans, who believe in doing the least work possible.  So in typical Republican fashion they denied there was a war, then made noise about an Operation Warp Speed well after the pharma companies had begun research,  and then half assed a distribution plan which, surprise, turned out to be a wretched wreck from day one. Then because of the Big Lie they prevented the incoming Biden administration access to that plan during the transition, forcing the Democrats into having to work with a too far into the process half assed plan when they did take power.

It’s almost as if Republicans were trying to get even with the American people for voting them out because we want competence and trust in the federal government.

For almost 90 years now, ever since the New Deal, Republicans have told the original Big Lie that the government was your enemy, the great destroyer of freedom. Small “d” democratic government is not the enemy, it’s the greatest resource of freedom the world has ever known. Yes, it will happen from time to time that you will be inconvenienced by a decision of popularly elected officials but that inconvenience will be nothing compared to the hideous outcomes of dictatorial fiats or imperial disregard.

There should have been a federal mask mandate. There should have been a federal quarantine program. There should have been a definitive plan for the economy during the quarantine as well as another plan for after. And there should have been a federal plan for distribution and injection of the eventual vaccine.

The Trump administration did none of those things. Now we find out had they done them 400,000 of the over 540,000 American dead could have been saved.

At the very least they could have presented an orderly, fair, and competent vaccine distribution and delivery system. I don’t care what the criteria for getting the jab would have been, by birth date, by social security number, by original hair color, just something that EVERYONE was subject to. Of course that would have meant someone taking charge and making decisions or in other words, doing the work. Instead a large portion of the American populace is now inconvenienced, scared, and running to wherever they can in order to get vaccinated.

So go online, get in line, do what is necessary to stop this disease. COVID I mean. But if you want to think of the disease as Republicans….

 

I deny any resemblance to the above video.

Shapiro Out

Quote Of The Day: Montana Meth Nostalgia Edition

Montana is not only famous for dental floss tycoons, it used to have its own homegrown meth. Just ask Senator Steve Daines:

“Twenty years ago in Montana, meth was homemade. It was homegrown. And you had purity levels less than 30 percent,” Daines said alongside other Republican seantors who had traveled to the southern border. “Today the meth that is getting into Montana is Mexican cartel. It has purities north of 95 percent. Far more dangerous, far more addictive, and it’s less expensive.”

Ah, the good old days of meth lab explosions and local entrepreneurship. Dang furriners are taking over everything.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a senator who says stupid shit and I mean you John Neely Kennedy.

I used a line from the Zappa song Montana for my senior yearbook quote: “Moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon.”

A friend’s mother asked him when I was leaving. A minor triumph but it was mine, all mine.

You’ve probably guessed by now that this entire post was a pretext to post those Zappa dental floss images I found on the internets. Just humor me.

The last word goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

Oh Well, What The Hell

In case you’re wondering about the post title, it’s my new catch phrase. I stole it from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I only steal from the best. It’s a catch-all catch phrase that rolls off the tongue. Try it, you’ll like it: Oh Well, What The Hell.

I took the weekend off from the news cycle. The MSM’s insistence on reverting to its pre-Trump form bugs the living shit out of me. They miss the drama of the Trump presidency so they’re focusing on trivia again. I had hoped that dealing with the Madness of King Donald would have cured them of that, but I was wrong. They cannot help themselves.

The MSM spent a month demanding a press conference even though my countrywoman Jen Psaki holds regular briefings. When they got what they wanted, they focused on the hot GOP talking point: the illusory “surge” at the border. It’s a seasonal phenomenon that happens annually.

The “border surge” is what happens when one country conquers the best part of a neighboring country. If you must play the blame game, try blaming the  Mexican-American War after which California was annexed. It was annexation by conquest.

It’s time for a musical interlude:

That song is about Cortez, but it could have just as easily been about Zachary Taylor who parlayed the victory into a brief stint as president. He’s the only Oval One the Gret Stet of Louisiana can stake a claim to, but Virginia and Kentucky should share in the dubious reflected glory of his 16-month reign.

General President Taylor is also responsible for inflicting Millard Fillmore on an unsuspecting nation. The only thing I like about him is his deeply silly name. Oy just oy.

The MSM feels a need to overdramatize everything that happens. It’s a lingering affliction from the Trump regime. I adore Rachel Maddow, but she’s been over-hyping everything of late. She continually expresses amazement that Biden is a normal president who does normal presidential things as if that’s an aberration. Trump was the aberration. It may be a new normal but we’re back to it.

The Impeached Insult Comedian poked his head above the parapet yesterday. There was a wedding at Mar-a-Doorn so, naturally, the Kaiser of Chaos seized the microphone to talk about himself. Even if I died and returned reincarnated as a Trumper, I wouldn’t want him taking over my wedding. It brings to mind the line about Teddy Roosevelt that I’ve used thousands of times, “Corpse at every funeral. Bride at every wedding.” I want a divorce from former President* Pennywise.

Notice how I slipped all three of my main Trump nicknames into that paragraph? It made my day. How pitiful is that?

In other fake news news, Lara Trump is now a paid contributor to Fox News. I guess they’re so busy pandering to the Trumpist base that they’ve forgotten she’s one of the main exponents of the “Dominion rigged the election” mishigas. That company, in turn, is suing Fox for real money: $1.6 billion bucks.  I wonder if they’re paying to shut her up on that subject. Why bother? It’s never worked with any Trump in the past. They never STFU even when it’s in their self-interest; make that selfish interest.

The last word goes to Fleetwood Mac and Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite with a two part Oh Well, What The Hell:

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Powell to the Peephole edition

Well, The Darnold still hasn’t figured out a way to funnel his creme de la demenziale directly into the alleged brains of his sycophants, but never fear – his  craken  crack legal team is still making headlines for him!

Sidney Powell argues in new court filing that no reasonable people would believe her election fraud claims
edition.cnn.com ^ | March 23, 2021 | Katelyn Polantz

Posted on 3/22/2021, 11:04:32 PM by Berlin_Freeper

Right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell is claiming in a new court filing that reasonable people wouldn’t have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.

The election infrastructure company Dominion Voting Systems sued Powell for defamation after she pushed lawsuits and made appearances in conservative media on behalf of then-President Donald Trump to sow doubt about the 2020 election results. Dominion claims that Powell knew her election fraud accusations were false and hurtful to the company.

In a new court filing, Powell’s attorneys write that she was sharing her “opinion” and that the public could reach “their own conclusions” about whether votes were changed by election machines.

“Given the highly charged and political context of the statements, it is clear that Powell was describing the facts on which she based the lawsuits she filed in support of President Trump,” Powell’s defense lawyers wrote in a court filing on Monday.

“Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as ‘wild accusations’ and ‘outlandish claims.’ They are repeatedly labelled ‘inherently improbable’ and even ‘impossible.’ Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants’ position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.”

Or, in other words :

******************************
So much for discovery.
1 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:04:32 PM by Berlin_Freeper

 

To: Berlin_Freeper

That is how you get disbarred.

2 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:06:58 PM by Salvavida

To: Berlin_Freeper

Now we see why Trump distanced himself.

3 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:08:04 PM by Trumpisourlastchance

Love your handle, BTW. Probably should change it to “TrumpWASourlastchance”, though.
To: Trumpisourlastchance

“Now we see why Trump distanced himself.”

Hopefully she and Lin Wood get the help they need.

4 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:09:16 PM by BobL (TheDonald.win is now Patriots.win)

To: Berlin_Freeper
does this mean that the CIA server farm raid in Germany didn’t seize the computers used to switch votes from Trump to Biden?

6 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:09:55 PM by JerryBlackwell (some animals are more equal than others)

To: Berlin_Freeper

If CNN says it, it must be true. /sarc

9 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:12:42 PM by Perseverando (Antifa, BLM, RINO’s, Islamonazis, Statists, Communists, DemoKKKrats: It’s a Godlessness disorder!)

A DC judge is going to chew her to pieces.

10 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:13:46 PM by bhl

Magic 8 ball says:
To: Berlin_Freeper

Right-wing lawyer …No need to read further than that slanderous propaganda.

18 posted on 3/22/2021, 11:27:47 PM by TigersEye (Will the Younger Dryas Impact you? )
So she’s really a left-wing lawyer? Working undercover, perhaps?
.
I’m calling a false flag on that one.
.
Continue reading at the “continue reading”….

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with Random Ruminations – “Tape doesn’t lie” edition

Tape doesn’t lie.

Back in my studio engineer days I had a guy come in with a karaoke tape he wanted to sing along to (first one I’d ever seen).

Horrible little low-fi cassette, with his vocals on our good U47 mike laid over it?

Okay.

It’s his money.

Then this guy, who is loaded up with bling, proceeds to dance around in the vocal booth while he’s singing. Really. Big moves and all.

He’s clinking, he’s clanking, his polyester outfit’s whooshing and zzziping like a bedsheet in a whirlwind every time he moves his arms up to frame his face, it’s all being sucked up by the microphone, and because I have to put a ton of compression on him (because he’s dancing around and moving sideways away from and toward the mic) all the noise he’s making is as loud as his voice (which isn’t very). As he dances around, he’s even spinning in a  circle, which means that he’s momentarily singing towards the back wall of the booth.

Between verses, he’s smacking his tongue against the roof of his mouth and sucking air through his teeth. I can hear the studio owner and a visitor laughing in the next room through the open side door to the control room.

Finally, the guy finishes after several stopped takes, and comes into the control room for the playback. I’m waiting for the explosion – ” What is all that noise?? I don’t sound like that!! “

He slaps me on the back and tells me he’s very happy that I captured the essence of his personality.

Tape doesn’t lie.

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

This is the last of my studio stories, I believe. from this point on, my Ruminations will truly be random, but hopefully entertaining.

.

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Sunday Morning Video: The Beach Boys Live In 1969

Here are the Beach Boys on French television without Monsieur Brian Wilson. His brothers Carl and Dennis are present and accounted for as is their asshole cousin Mike Love in full guru regalia.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Pennies From Heaven

Photograph by Stanley Kubrick.

I committed a faux pas the other day and accidentally published something. I planned to curate a quote from a marvelous teevee essay by MSNBC’s Laurence O’Donnell about our border issues. Instead the whole damn  thing went out raw and I pulled it after it lingered overnight. Here’s a link to the transcript. Scroll down 3/4 of the way and Bob’s your uncle. Make that Uncle Laurence. I’m neither Irish nor from Boston but I’ll claim him.

In jab talking news, Governor Edwards has opened COVID vaccinations to all Gret Steters over the age of 16. I welcome everyone to the Half Vaccinated club. On April 3rd, I will enter of the realm of the fully vaccinated. Cue sigh of relief.

Our theme song continues the flow of the week. In this case from my most recent 13th Ward Rambler column. Pennies From Heaven was written in 1936 by Arthur Johnstone and Johnny Burke. It’s been a hit more times and by more artists that you can shake a stick at. Why one would do such a thing is beyond me.

We have three versions of Pennies From Heaven for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima & Keely Smith, and an instrumental by Stan Getz and Oscar Peterson.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? I know: repeatedly. My Oscar love will never wane. That goes for my much missed kitty as well.

Before we jump to the break, look up like the girl in the Kubrick photograph so you can dodge the pennies from heaven.

Continue reading

Skylark

Skylark was written in 1941 by Hoagy Carmichael and Friday Cocktail Hour semi-regular Johnny Mercer. The featured image captures Ginger and Johhny Mercer on the town with Hoagy and Ruth Carmichael. Hoagy appears to be feeling no pain. Party on Hoagy. Party on, Johnny.

Carmichael based the music on a Bix Beiderbecke cornet improvisation. Mercer struggled with the lyrics for nearly a year before striking gold. It was worth the effort: It’s a great song and one of my personal favorites.

My Peninsula homey Bing Crosby had the first radio hit with Skylark:

I shouldn’t play favorites but Ella Fitzgerald’s version *is* my favorite. What can I tell ya?

Continue reading

Full Metal Jackasses

Ruger AR-556

This is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.

 

Whenever there is a mass shooting “incident” a predictable series of news stories follow about 1) how easy it was for the shooter to obtain his weapon of mass destruction and 2) how this isn’t a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue.

The first type of story will show how the shooter walked into their local arms dealer, er, I mean, gun store, filled out all the forms, went through the background check (if applicable) and proudly walked out with a new AR-556 automatic pistol and probably a free box of ammo the arms dealer, er, I mean, legitimate gun store owner threw in as a sweetener to “buy it today”.

You know what you never read about? How much that weapon cost.

So I did a little research on the weapon of choice for the Colorado shooter (the supermarket one, not the movie theater one or the ones at the high school) and found that he probably paid somewhere between $700 and $800 for it. It has a list price of $899 but other than the manufacturer’s website no one sells it for that price.

I’ve sold mediocre furniture and appliances for more than that.

We’ll be generous and say he bought it for $750 (plus that free box of ammo throw in). With the Colorado Springs sales tax of 8.2% he’s out the door at $811.50.

Too cheap. Way too cheap.

We’ll get back to price in a moment.

The second type of story will detail how politicians, Republican politicians to be precise, will prattle on about how this is a mental health issue, that “mental health is a large contributor to any type of violence or shooting violence” and that tougher anti-gun laws are unconstitutional, unnecessary, and will mean that only criminals will have guns.

They will then implicitly or explicitly say that while it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, well there just ain’t the money in the budget to address it with.

Oh you Repugnicans, always having the reason for the problem ready at your fingertips but never wanting to push the button that fixes it.

So in the spirit of compromise, a concept that has gone out of style in politics today, I’d like to offer a proposal that just might make everyone happy.

Tax the shit out of guns, then turn around and use the money raised to fund mental health clinics.

The actual amount of the tax can be debated but I think perhaps a sliding scale based on the type of weapon. Single shot rifles, maybe just 15%. Revolvers 20%. On and on up depending on the ammo capacity and firing rate of the weapon till we reach military style automatic weapons which, though I believe they should be illegal for the general public to own, could be taxed at 200%-500%.

There’d be no Second Amendment issue, the government isn’t preventing you from owning a gun just saying that if you want one you have to pay the taxes on it. There’s already sales tax on the purchase so the concept of the government imposing a tax on that so called constitutionally protected product is legally valid.

Likewise the validity of taking all money raised and earmarking it for one purpose is a well established doctrine.  Gasoline taxes are only used for road building, driver’s license fees are directed to highway safety projects, there are special taxes on televisions to offset the cost of their eventual recycling or on refrigerators for CFC removal.

If you are worried that this is would be a regressive tax that unfairly affects poor people well buddy it’s not poor people who buy large capacity automatic weapons. If they own a gun at all it will likely be on the smaller capacity, single shot end of the gun spectrum and thus less tax burdened.

No our brand of American mass murderers tend to be middle class, just the socio-economic group I’d be targeting with this tax. They could still afford to get that AR-15 but it’s gonna put a serious hole in their bank account, one that just might make them think twice about the purchase.

Look I have no illusions that such a tax would stop a person who truly wants to commit mass murder or who wants to commit “suicide by police” from buying that gun. That last Visa bill is going to go unpaid one way or another. But it might be the straw that breaks the gun manufacturer’s back in terms of mass production of the gun for non-military use. If the gun store owner can’t sell it because it’s bottom line price makes it too expensive for the middle class “gun enthusiast” to own, then the shopkeeper is not going to order as many which in turn will mean fewer being produced which in turn will mean that particular market will dry up.

In the meantime high capacity rapid fire automatic weapons that are sold will at least be doing some measure of good by funding the mental health services that might just turn a potential mass murderer into a productive, not destructive, human being.

Chris Rock had a similar idea. This one’s okay by me as well.

Shapiro Out

Bayou Brief: March Musings, Not Madness

My latest column for the Bayou Brief is online. It’s full of spiteful goodness.

Here’s the tagline: “13th Ward Ramblings about the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, the Second District Congressional race, and the Shame of LSU.”

Did someone say shame? Cue the music for a double dose:

Friday Catblogging: Green-Eyed Lady

Claire Trevor is still obsessed with her nutty walnut box. I’m still obsessed with her green, green eyes.

Cue theme song:

Cuomo Family Values

The Linus of Empire State politics has done it again. Yeah, I know, Linus is sweet, and Andrew Cuomo is an asshole but he’s a blanket toting blankety blank like the Peanuts character. Now that I think of it, he’s more like Linus’ sister Lucy.

There’s even a dog in the cast of Cuomo Family Values: Captain who may be demoted to Private if his human is forced into the public sector. Sorry, Captain.

Let’s extend the Peanuts analogy. I knew Snoopy. Snoopy was a friend of mine. Captain, you’re no Snoopy.

Nepotism and cronyism have long characterized Andrew Cuomo’s political career. They’re back with a vengeance:

The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) arranged privileged access to state-administered coronavirus testing for members of his family and other influential people last year even as a majority of New Yorkers struggled to access scarce testing, according to multiple reports.

Three people with direct knowledge of the effort told the Washington Post that the Cuomo administration sent a top state doctor and other state health officials to the homes of those who had access to the special treatment. The Times Union of Albany first reported the prioritization effort of Cuomo’s relatives.

Among those known to have benefited from the special treatment are CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother who tested positive for coronavirus in March. The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, Eleanor Adams who reportedly visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family, people with knowledge of the matter told the Post.

Not only did they get special treatment, they also got house calls, which doctors stopped doing years ago. Has anyone out there ever had a house call unless you have a doctor in the family?

I was something of a mama’s boy, so I don’t begrudge special treatment for the Governor’s elderly mother, Matilda, but his idiot CNN anchorman kid brother? Really, Governor?

That bit of shameless nepotism gives me an excuse to repost this image from a 2019 post:

This latest controversy will not lead to Governor Cuomo’s resignation, but it’s a big problem given how desperate people were in the early stages of the pandemic. There was a collective freak out over the lack of testing and Cuomo was giving special treatment to a select few. Not, cool, Governor, not cool.

I didn’t mean to mock Captain the dog. I’m sure he’s a good boy. I’d like to apologize for channeling Lloyd Bentsen at his expense by giving Blues Image the last word:

 

 

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Talking Filibuster

Back in January I wrote about my love of politics and how I had high hopes that the Biden administration would make them great again. Over the last few weeks Senate Democrats have been hinting that the filibuster game is afoot. The Senator You Love to Hate, Joe Manchin, allowed that he would support a “talking” filibuster, where the minority would have to keep talking to delay the vote. Over the last few weeks, more and more of the Senate’s Democratic filibuster defenders have expressed their interest in either eliminating or reforming the current filibuster. Tonight Amy Klobuchar, the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, said that the talking filibuster was coming in time for the voting rights bill.

Extremely Online Democratic Twitter is apoplectic over this change. “But it will still require 60 votes!!!” Yes, but only to break the filibuster. If the minority party stops talking (or goes off-topic if the filibuster is changed to specify only germane debate is allowed), the vote is called and a simple majority wins. Somehow this is a fatal blow to the…Senate Democrats.

The current composition of Senate Democrats is a recipe for Democratic success using the talking filibuster. While in the majority Senate Democrats are more disciplined than I had anticipated they would be, and they are able to work in tandem and to a scripted timetable (the current one being the growing support for a talking filibuster presented as minimal change to the process—and don’t underestimate this framing). Also, Senate Democrats are chockablock with nerds–glorious nerds who can hold forth with months of on-topic debate:  well-sourced, eloquent, affecting, persuasive debate–which will serve them well as a minority party.

Senate Republicans are supremely uninterested in governing, and even less interested in anything that can’t be repackaged into a FOX sound bite.  Remember, Senate Republicans got beat twice last month when they could not just sit in their seats while the Senate was in session (that’s how Merrick Garland’s filibustered nomination moved to confirmation).

Mitch McConnell knows this too, and he’s now regularly threatening to filibuster everything if the Democrats eliminate the filibuster. While using the status quo as a future threat is a bold move on his part, his panic is fueled by what is becoming apparent:  his beloved filibuster is staying, but it’s now going to require discipline and unity from his caucus. Maybe he should have been more specific in January when he asked for assurances that the filibuster would stay.

But my real enthusiasm to submit Senate Republicans to the talking filibuster is to laugh at them. One of the little things I like about the Harry Potter series is that the spell to banish the things that terrorize you is called “Riddikulus”. Laughing at things reduces them to a human size and form. And the current Republican Party is full of people to laugh at.

Here’s Louisiana’s John Neely Kennedy and his attempted slam dunk at a gun control hearing:

Here he is, again, mansplaining how the IMF works to Janet Yellen:

Rand Paul gonna Rand Paul:

Because I am merciful, I’ll spare you the video of Ted Cruz. Here’s what he tried to sell during the hearing on the voting rights bill:

This bill is the single most dangerous bill this committee has ever considered. This bill is designed to corrupt the election process permanently, and it is a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats. That the number-one priority is not COVID or getting people back to work or getting kids back in school. It’s keeping Democrats in power for 100 years. And how do they do this? They do this by instituting a bill that will promote widespread fraud and illegal voting. Under this bill, there’s automatic registration of anybody if you get a driver’s license, if you get a welfare payment, if you get an unemployment payment. If you attend a public university. Now, everyone knows there are millions of illegal aliens who have driver’s licenses, getting welfare benefits to attend public universities. This bill is designed to register every one of those illegal aliens. What would the impact be in state elections of automatically registered millions of illegal aliens to vote?

Like the videos above, it is full of lies and magical thinking. Imagine televising dumb arguments like this to millions of Americans to justify denying us our vote.

 

McConnell Insists Thumbs Down Is No Indication Of Vicious, Bloodthirsty Cruelty

Metaphorically speaking, that is

McConnell said Democrats were putting forth a “solution in search of a problem”—and implied that he was simply shocked that his party would be accused of trying to disenfranchise voters. “States,” he said, “are not engaging in trying to suppress voters, whatsoever.” (In earlier remarks, he claimed the filibuster—which has been used for generations to block civil rights legislation and which he will undoubtedly use to thwart the pro-democracy bill unless Democrats abolish or amend it—had “no racial history.”)

Moscow Mitch and the rest of the GOP have worked the refs for so long they think it’s entirely normal for anything they say, regardless of how outrageous, to be considered a logical beginning point if not serious policy.

In contrast, Democrats often are required to demonstrate some degree of conservative support for pretty much anything.

Voter suppression, in a sane would, would be an outrage, and the media would report it accordingly. That they don’t — and that they also fail rather miserably in noting the anti-democratic nature of institutions like the Senate and Electoral College — speaks volumes, and not in a good way.

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Harder They Fall

We go from The Harder They Come to The Harder They Fall. I told you there would be a flow to this week’s regular features.

Budd Schulberg is best remembered for his work with my countryman Elia Kazan on On The Waterfront and A Face In The Crowd, which was based on one of Schulberg’s short stories.

The film version of The Harder They Fall was directed by Mark Robson. It was Humphrey Bogart’s last movie.

Here’s the movie trailer:

Ryne Hancock: Hope Is A Winding Road, But It Comes Eventually

My friend Ryne had a bad year even by 2020 standards. He’s feeling and doing much better now as you can tell from his latest post.

Hope Is A Winding Road, But It Comes Eventually by Ryne Hancock

Apart from my biking to deliver food, last spring wasn’t filled with festivals and social bike rides.

It didn’t include trivia nights at Tracey’s, open mics around the city, late nights at Igor’s, or being behind a mic at a radio station.

My socialization last spring was limited to the customers I had with my day job as well as the dumbass neighbors I had in my complex. The more time went on and the amount of tragedy piled up on my plate, the less hopeful I felt about the remainder of the year.

In a four-week span, from the time New Orleans went on lockdown to mid-April, I lost five relatives, all to this dreaded disease, including one of my favorite uncles, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball.

“He just went in the hospital and didn’t come out,” my aunt told me on the phone.

To make matters worse, instead of being able to fully communicate how I felt with my friends or find refuge in being at the WTUL studios, I had to deal with the people in my complex. The day my uncle was buried, I went off on one of my neighbors when we discussed the former occupant of the White House’s handling of the pandemic.

“What do you want him to do?” my neighbor asked me.

“Give a damn,” I replied.

“But we’re getting stimulus checks,” my neighbor retorted.

“I don’t want to hear any more about that. I’ve lost five relatives in a month’s time and the last thing I want to hear is something about a damn stimulus check.”

Safe to say I didn’t interact much afterwards with my neighbors. There was the occasional dart game here and there, but whatever joy I wanted to find in those games got snuffed away because people either got too rowdy or someone had a fight, which in turn made me feel even more isolated from my neighbors as the year progressed.

To make matters worse, one of my neighbors assumed that I was on meds for whatever reason, which made me retreat even more. A lot of times when I would return home from work, I’d just go inside and fall asleep, something that I would do when I lived in Memphis.

That was my life mostly for almost a year.

The day before Biden got inaugurated, some leftist dude said that nothing was going to change with him in office.

“Have you not seen the last four years?” I asked him.

For the first time in a year there’s actual hope. Instead of doom and gloom posts, you’re seeing people talk about plans for their summer and vaccine selfies.

You know, hopeful things.

Think about what would have happened if that orange dolt were still in office.

I guarantee you we wouldn’t be discussing hopeful things.