Monthly Archives: September 2021

Guest Post: I’ll Have A Medium Pizza, Hold The Mask

We’re still trying new things in the post-Athenae era at First Draft. This time, it’s a writer who was recommended by Cassandra. In this instance, her prophecy is looking pretty darn good instead of dire.

I give you the first post by Jamie O aka Blue Man In Red Land.

-Adrastos

Blue Man In Red Land: I’ll Have A Medium Pizza, Hold The Mask by Jamie O

 My wife and I live in a small town in central Pennsylvania about 10 miles west of State College. By small town, I mean, small town. Not a person who lives in a large urban center’s idea of a small town with say population 10,000, but a truly small town of just 600.

We moved here from Pittsburgh in 2002. Prior to this, I lived all my life in a blue city environment (I grew up in York, PA, a small Democratic city). The town I live in now is decidedly not blue. Trump took our town 67%-30% in 2020.

Like a lot of small rural Pennsylvania towns, things are not great. The poverty rate is around 20%, and the median household income is just over 32,000. My wife and I joke that if we moved, we’d drop the median even more. It’s also very white, and I would imagine the COVID vaccination rate is quite low.

This brings me to the town’s pizza parlor, which is run by a very nice Central American family. They provide a dash of diversity to our white-and-camo populace. The food is pretty good and we’re regular customers, and they were good about masks and social distancing. I wanted to be sure to support them and help them through the pandemic. We had conversations about COVID, and they said they were doing okay and were very adamant about the importance of masks, vaccines, and social distancing. But about a month ago, I noticed that their masks were gone.

This was sudden. One day I stopped in to pick up a pizza and inside there were about a dozen other customers and three employees. I was the lone masker. Did I get stares? Oh, you betcha. A couple of old boys wearing camo hats and smirks gave me the stink eye for being one of those silly libs who give a darn about others.

I’ve returned to the pizza place a few times since, and no masks remains the new policy. Being a bleeding-heart, I am not really mad at them because I think I understand why. I have empathy for them. I imagine there are challenges to running a business as a Hispanic in a community where some of the populace are programmed to wonder if you are “an illegal.” Despite this, the community embraces them. They do well and my neighbors speak highly of them. But just imagine telling someone in a MAGA hat to put on a mask if you are a brown person. Can’t be easy.

Maybe one day, they got a threat and decided it wasn’t worth it. Hard to say. But the suddenness of it makes me wonder. I don’t want to abandon them, so now when we order, we get food during off hours, having late lunches or early dinners. Risk assessment, you know. Have to weigh when the mouth-breathing horse paste enthusiasts are in there, and try to avoid them whenever possible.

Having to consider when it is safest to order a pizza to avoid picking up a virus from a conspiracy theorist. What a ridiculous time to be alive.

Book Review: The Afghanistan Papers

Before that twisted dame Ida blew through the Gret Stet of Louisiana, I pre-ordered The Afghanistan Papers and planned to  review it. It was in limbo for 10-12 days after its release before finally landing on my front porch. It was the first package I received after Ida put the debris back in Debrisville.

Because of this checkered history, I was reluctant to review it. Besides, I was in the middle of a fine biography of former CIA director Bill Colby, Shadow Warrior. Much of that book by Randall Woods is about Vietnam, counterinsurgency, and the delusions they inspired. It paired beautifully with The Afghanistan Papers, which is also about a lost war, counterinsurgency, and the delusions they inspired.

I was also on a roll before Ida turned my life upside down. The delusional and cliched media reaction to the fall of Kabul inspired some damn good writing if I do say so myself. And I do.

Now that I’ve spent 150 some odd words explaining why I’m reviewing The Afghanistan Papers, let’s get on with it.

The Afghanistan Papers began life in 2019 as an extended investigative piece in the Washington Post. Reporter Craig Whitlock did some digging, made multiple FOIA requests, and struck gold. The title is, of course, meant to evoke The Pentagon Papers as is the book’s extended title: The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History Of The War.

Whitlock’s book could also be called Wishful Thinking. That’s what characterized US government and military spin about the war. Starting with Team Bush and Rummy, the US saw what it wanted to see and believed what it wanted to believe in Afghanistan.

The war began as a 9/11 revenge mission that morphed into nation building. George W Bush ran against nation building in 2000. He also ran as a compassionate conservative who ended up favoring torture. Let it never be said that W doesn’t have a sense of humor: he appointed one of his father’s enemies, Donald Rumsfeld, as defense secretary. The results were not funny.

Rumsfeld is the main character in the first half of the book: issuing optimistic pronouncements that would have made Vietnam war planners blush. He showed only sporadic interest in Afghanistan after a second front was opened in the so-called war on terror in Iraq.

The Afghanistan mission was accomplished with the death of Osama bin Laden on May 11, 2011; yet we stayed until 2021. Then Vice President Biden advocated declaring victory and getting the hell out of there, but he lost the internal battle to the brass, Bob Gates, and Hillary Clinton. None of them wanted to leave because they were convinced that the Karzai government would collapse. They were right about that but wrong about staying.

Nation building in Afghanistan was based on false premises and wishful thinking. Afghanistan might as well have been an alien planet to American officials. We tried to impose centralized government on a decentralized tribal society. These misguided efforts and rampant corruption revived the Taliban as an alternative to what Afghans saw as a puppet regime.

Despite the Vietnam example, US leadership was convinced we could impose our will on a society so backward that Vietnam in the Sixties looks advanced in contrast. In addition to imposing our will, we kidded ourselves that things were going well in Afghanistan and covered up anything that disproved our delusional thinking. Those who say history never repeats were proven wrong again.

The most interesting bits in the book come from the accounts of Americans who served in-country, but didn’t buy the lie that things were going well. There’s story after story of how neither Afghans nor Americans understood one another. It was a bad fit that was bound to end badly.

The Afghanistan Papers is an absorbing and well-written account of a war that could never be won. Instead of accepting the bitter truths told by Craig Whitlock, the American MSM continues to be deluded about the war as they rant about our “chaotic exit” from that benighted country. War is chaotic. Lost wars are even more chaotic.

This war was lost when the Bush administration turned its attention to Iraq. The ensuing years were a waste of time, human life, and money. Victory was never possible. Stalemate or defeat were the only options President Biden was presented with in 2021. He chose to do something unusual: he told the truth about our Afghan misadventure. People don’t always want to hear the truth. In this instance, that was true of the media as well.

I give The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History Of The War 4 stars and an Adrastos grade of A.

The last word goes to Dusty Springfield:

 

 

 

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “The Former Darnold” edition

Oh, Former Guy, Former Guy – what are we going to do with you?

Even the Freeperati – your most faithful acolytes – think your cheese has slid completely off your cracker.

Observe –

Trump: ‘I do believe they are going to decertify the election’
RSBN / GateWayPundit ^ | Sep 10, 2021 | Grace Saldana

Posted on 9/10/2021, 7:10:52 PM by BusterDog

President Donald Trump just dropped bombshell news on the matter of election integrity by predicting that officials will “decertify” the 2020 presidential election.

Discussing consequences for the “rigged” election, Trump told Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, during a Friday afternoon interview, “I do believe they are going to decertify the election.”

1 posted on 9/10/2021, 7:10:52 PM by BusterDog
Now’s your big chance, Freeperati! Unite and support your hero!!!
To: BusterDog

No chance. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.
Ain’t gonna happen.

4 posted on 9/10/2021, 7:14:25 PM by Artemis Webb (Be kind to each other, unless the other guy is a dumbass.)

To: BusterDog

“…they are going to decertify the election…”
“Who” is “they”?

5 posted on 9/10/2021, 7:14:33 PM by Repeal The 17th (Get out of the matrix and get a real life.)

To: BusterDog

Ridiculous. Biden has been seated by the electoral college and VP Pence.

7 posted on 9/10/2021, 7:15:54 PM by EEGator

To: BusterDog

Not happening and Trump would do well to learn some humility.

9 posted on 9/10/2021, 7:16:34 PM by Tea Party Terrorist (Eat the Rich)

.
.
And already – the post of the thread!
To: BusterDog

Honestly, this is a little disconcerting. He would have to be almost delusional to believe this.

8 posted on 9/10/2021, 7:16:33 PM by Husker24 (Pp)

Almost delusional?
.
ALMOST delusional???
.
You guys are forgetting – this is the clown who thought you could H-bomb hurricanes and change their course with a sharpie.
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More below –

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Today on Tommy T’s obsession with Random Ruminations – guest post edition

Doing something a little different today and posting something that I didn’t write.

The morons currently trying to run Texas into the ground have now made it law that all you need to carry a concealed handgun is the money to buy one, which prompted this post.

I am a gun owner myself, have no wish to carry my Glock21 anywhere, and agree with every single word below from Leonidas Christian Mixon.

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“We have a gun problem and a bullshit problem in the United States. Let me start by saying I am a gun owner. I have been since I was 6. I’ve had jobs that required me to carry a weapon. I’ve been shot at more than once. I’ve disarmed people who were trying to kill me. This isn’t coming from someone who doesn’t understand guns. It’s precisely because I do understand them that I’m going to call out the bullshit that stops us from having the reforms to gun laws that we needed years ago. If you want to debate any of the points below, I have no problem. These are simple facts.

1) I need an assault rifle for home defense.  No, you don’t. A short barreled shotgun is the best tool for home defense. And that only counts if you’re insanely proficient with it and you get incredibly lucky. The likelihood you will get the chance to use it is next to zero. If you do, you’re very likely to kill a member of your family accidentally. In a REAL altercation, you don’t get to choose your field of fire. It happens incredibly fast, usually in the dark. If you’re popping off with a rifle, you are going to hit things you don’t intend to. Guns are tools. Period. Assault Rifles are intended to be used on a battlefield. Battlefield tactics don’t work in your house. It’s a bullshit argument.

2) I need to protect myself from a tyrannical Government…  Holy Shit that’s stupid. That idea was from a time when the state of war was much more level. It isn’t now. At all. If an armored transport shows up on your front lawn with a 50 cal on the roof, you and your AK are fucking toast. Soldiers train, and their weapons are an extension of their body. You will instantly lose. And before you bring up guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan or Iraq… you need a reality check. Those people were born in a country that was at war, on their soil, for their entire lives. You don’t compare to that on your best day. And they die in FAR greater numbers than they kill.

3) Gun registration, background checks, etc are a slippery slope to confiscation.  Bullshit. We register cars. We have to prove proficiency to operate them. We are required to have insurance in the event we cause damage with them. It’s been that way for decades, and no one is “coming to take your car”. Making sure people have the barest minimum of responsibility doesn’t lead to loss. Fear of loss leads to fundraising and bullshit. It’s not rational.

4) My gun is a right that can’t be modified. Again, utter bullshit. You can’t own a howitzer unless the barrel is full of concrete. You can’t own a cannon manufactured in the last century. You can’t own a fully automatic weapon without a FFL. That’s why those things are rarely used in crimes. And all of that is based on an amendment to our constitution that can be changed if we as a country see fit to do so. We have changed amendments before and we will again. If you don’t understand that you need a history lesson and a dictionary.

Creating common sense laws that put speed bumps in the way of lunatics helps. Every time. Automobile licenses, speed limits, etc don’t end accidents, but they make them less frequent and less deadly. It’s a proven concept. The time for bullshit excuses is over. It’s time to step up and take responsibility. Fuck this stupidity.”

Leonidas Christian Mixon

 

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SMV: Utopia Live At The Chicago Theater

This show was filmed in 2019 after Utopia regrouped. I missed the tour, but my friend Mike saw it. He’s my own personal Todd oracle. He was blown away by this tour.

Adding to the fun is the fact that this video was posted by Utopia drummer Willie Wilcox.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Swing To The Right

Saturday Odds & Sods is back in all its punny glory. Hopefully, that’s a good thing for our readers. If you feel like heckling, cut me some slack, Jack. Life is hard in Debrisville right now.

My pitched battle with FedEx ended with the delivery of the new HP PC on which I’m writing this post. I’m still avoiding FedEx like the plague. I would only be in the same room with them if they double-masked and showed me their vaccine card. Repeat after me: in transit = in trailer.

I was so disgusted by the MSM’s coverage of Afghanistan that I’ve dialed back my cable news viewing. I’m down to The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell because he does not feel the need to hype every story to the limit. That’s why I called him The Last Sane Person On Cable News. Maddow used to be my fave until she morphed from smart ass to sob sister. I could not take the on-air sighing and hand-wringing that now characterizes her show. So it goes.

September has been Todd Rundgren and Utopia month at my house. Hence another Todd tune as this week’s theme song. It’s the title track of Utopia’s 1982 album, Swing To The Right. I reckon you figured that out already. I’m using reckon in the fancy British sense, not the hillbilly American sense. Does that make sense?

We have two versions of Swing To The Right for your listening pleasure: the studio original and Utopia live in Japan.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kasim Sulton on lead vocals.

You probably guessed that Todd is a librul based on the album cover and song title. You are correct, sir, he said in his best Ed McMahon impression.

Now that we’ve swung to the right, let’s jump to the break in utopian unison.

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Lonesome Road

This week’s selection is a song called slightly different things by different people. Some versions have a “the,” a “that” or a “look down that” in the title. Since this is the Friday Cocktail Hour and Francis Albert Sinatra is its patron saint, we’re using the variation that he used, Lonesome Road. Confused? Me too.

Lonesome Road was written in 1927 by Nathaniel Shilkret and Gene Austin. It was written in the style of a African American folk/work/gospel song. Essentially, it’s a blues song.

As to the featured image, I decided to use Rita, Frank, and Kim because of the feature’s name. I doubt that Sister Rosetta Tharpe would want a Friday Cocktail Hour meme slapped across her image. That’s where we begin:

Next up, the poster boy with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra.

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Fraudit Flops: Biden Lead Grows

I haven’t written about the zany antics of the Cyber Ninjas for quite some time. According to preliminary reports, they have labored mightily and produced bupkis. Anyone surprised? I thought not.

Yo, Trumpers, read this and weep:

After months of delays and blistering criticism, a review of the 2020 election in Arizona’s largest county, ordered up and financed by Republicans, has failed to show that former President Donald J. Trump was cheated of victory, according to draft versions of the report.

In fact, the draft report from the company Cyber Ninjas found just the opposite: It tallied 99 additional votes for President Biden and 261 fewer votes for Mr. Trump in Maricopa County, the fast-growing region that includes Phoenix.

Steve Kornacki must be wetting himself.

Maricopa County declared victory by Tweet-leaking the story:

I wonder how the Cyber Ninjas are Maricoping with this…

If I were an Arizona taxpayer, I wouldn’t find this so funny. The Fraudit has cost them millions of dollars and months of ridicule. It’s even driven me to post the most obvious musical interlude imaginable:

The endless attempts of the MAGA maggots to prove fraud are as costly as they are futile. They’re still at it in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Say what? Texas? It wasn’t even close, but Lone Star State Trumpers want to grow the Impeached Insult Comedian’s margin or some such shit.

Hasn’t Arizona suffered enough because of the Sinematic Senator? Josh Marshall has been on her case all week culminating with a post entitled A Democrat Only Republicans Can Love. Ouch.

The last word goes to Mark Lindsay with a song politically incorrect enough to satisfy the MAGA crowd:

 

We Don’t Need Another Hero

Marvel's Avengers

 

A couple of weeks ago I changed my cell phone plan which these days means I get access to more of the interconnected corporate hegemony being put out into the cultural zeitgeist these days. In this case I now have access to Disney Plus, or Disney + as the branding bros would have it.

I really couldn’t have cared less about getting Disney + as I am beyond the age of having children who would watch cartoons and not yet to the point of having grandkids who would. But since Disney has been buying up intellectual property as if they couldn’t possibly come up with something themselves (and yes that is a dig at how Disney has treated their creative “partners”) having the network has given me a chance to take a gander at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that I’ve heard so much about.

I have a special fondness for Marvel comic books. Back in the day when a 25 cent weekly allowance was enough for two comics and three pieces of penny candy, I bucked the trends and fanboyed for Marvel over D.C. Comics. Frankly I didn’t understand why my friends didn’t favor The Fantastic Four over Superman or Spiderman over Batman. I mean, we lived in New York, the Marvel characters protected New York, why would you favor some guy from another planet who lived in a made up city called Metropolis over someone protecting YOU in the very real city where you lived? And really, this guy puts on a pair of glasses and nobody recognizes him? At least Iron Man had a metal helmet covering his entire head so of course you couldn’t know it was Tony Stark.

But times passes and my magazine reading advanced from comic books to Mad Magazine to the National Lampoon and then out into adulthood. Yeah, I went to see Christopher Reeve as Superman and Michael Keaton as Batman, but those were one off experiences that were not repeated for the numerous sequels. By the time of the reimagining of Batman by Christopher Nolan, superhero movies were out of my flightpath. In fact I became that guy who went to see Cosmopolis at some Hellplaza 64 screen monstrosity and complained to the management that the walls are so thin I could hear the cheering for The Dark Knight Rises.

Damn kids.

Thus I have not seen in their entirety any of the twenty-five or so movies that have made zillions of dollars and have audiences salivating for more. I don’t know Chris Evans from Chris Pine. I’ve been told they are both captains, but of what I can’t remember. Scrolling through the list of Marvel films available on the network I get lost trying to remember if Loki is a villain, a hero, a god, a spaceman, or just whatever the hell he really is. Apparently there are multiple universes in which there are multiple Spidermen, women, dogs, cats, and taxi cab drivers. And there are guardians of the galaxy and one of them is the shoeshine guy from Parks and Rec?

And to think one of the reasons my childhood friends didn’t like the Marvel comics was that they were too complex.

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Friday Guest Catblogging: Don’t Fence Me In

It’s time for a bit of post-Ida catblogging. Delphine is an indoor-outdoor cat who owns my friend Sheila and her hubby Jason who took this picture. This gap between their fence and the fallen one of their neighbors is Delphine’s temporary hunting blind. Squirrels, beware.

The last word goes to David Byrne and Cole Porter:

Malaka Of The Week: Susan Collins

I realize that Maine Senator Susan Collins is overqualified for the weekly honor. She belongs in the malakatude hall of fame. But she just did something so horrible and so contrary to her media brand that I had to write about it today. And that is why Susan Collins is malaka of the week.

The MSM insists on calling Susan Collins a moderate when she’s a bog standard GOPer who almost always votes the party line. She did, however, vote to convict in the second Trump impeachment trial. Other than that, she votes like a conservative and talks like a moderate. I believe in judging a senator by how they vote, not the shit they say. Malaka Sue talks a lot of shit, y’all.

Senator Collins just announced that she’s endorsing former Maine governor Paul LePage in his bid regain his old job. LePage has been living off-and-on in Florida since leaving office in disgrace in 2018. LePage is best described as a proto-Trump. He was malaka of the week in August of 2016. You know what they say, malakas of a feather flock together. Actually, only I say that.

LePage was such an asshole as governor that Charlie Pierce gave him this nickname:

Paul LePage is like Archie Bunker without the underlying humanity that Carroll O’Connor brought to the role. He’s a dick, prick, asshole, and malaka.

In 2010, LePage was the teabagger’s teabagger. And Susan Collins wants him as her governor again. Really, Sue?

Charges of hypocrisy don’t bother Malaka Sue. She’s forever teasing moderation while voting like a wingnut. Remember the Kavanaugh mess? She mouthed pious platitudes then voted for an accused rapist and verifiable shitbag. It’s what she does. Schmuck or is that schmuckette?

Speaking of hypocrisy, Collins’ 2020 campaign against Sarah Gideon focused on the fact that the latter is a transplant, not a native Mainer. Now Malaka Sue is supporting Florida Man LePage. Oy, just oy.

The MSM will continue to lazily label Susan Collins a moderate. They’re confusing her with former Maine Republican senators Bill Cohen and Olympia Snowe. They were genuine moderates; Susan Collins is one of the hackiest hacks whoever hacked me off. And that is why Susan Collins is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to Dion with a song that should be Malaka Sue’s theme song:

 

No, It’s Not A Stalemate*

*Of course, The WaPo edited the headline, but only after the message was delivered.

 

Also, it’s not hardball, it’s not savvy, it’s not winning the day, it’s political psychopathy or, fuck it, political/economic terrorism.

And this has gone on to the extent it’s fully embedded to the extent that I think corporate media is so afraid of contracting the heartbreak of psoriasis, sorry, librul cooties, they’ll accept pretty much any GOP position that isn’t explicitly endorsed by David Duke (or hell, maybe a few that are), while clinging to their both-sides blankie.

Even allegedly liberal MSNBC featured Peter Baker this evening (why is he still allowed to opine on their air?), who called the GOP debt ceiling nihilism another game of chicken, implying that this is some sort of normal Dem-GOP-give-and-take.

Bullshit AND media malpractice.

Republicans are taking the global economy hostage over the debt limit.

Again, on MSNBC, Chris Van Hollen pointed out that McConnell isn’t even stepping aside, i.e., the GOP could oppose without filibustering…but they’re not…and the media thinks this is normal.

It’s not.

Add in they’re pushing voter suppression to counter non-existent voter fraud, aka, voters who don’t vote “right”, which could and should be reported as a modern-day version of a poll tax (and as odious a lie as separate-but-equal, which was used to justify separate-but-decidedly-unequal social policy that still affects us).

A side effect is that the media’s no longer even bothering to note that existing conditions often mean “wrong” voters have to wait for hours to cast a ballot and regularly have to search for their precinct.

They denied the pandemic, then weaponized it–punish Blue States, blame immigrants, now blame Biden–even as they refuse to get vaccinated while gobbling horse paste…

They’ve pushed The Big Lie about the 2020 election, and, WTF?

It’s even being reported as The Big Lie…but when it’s reported as “The Big Lie…and in other news…” it enables The Big Lie.

Not that I particularly like the pathetic effort on their part to avoid the taint of librul cooties, but goddamn, if the other side has their way, librul cooties will be the least of their problems.

Because they’re still getting tagged by the wingers as Enemy of the People.

And getting labeled as that usually doesn’t end well.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Garbage World

This book is *not* about New Orleans in 2021.

 

Fifty-Fifty

Congress is back in session. That means inordinate attention will be paid to the Sinematic senator, the Man of La Manchin, and disgruntled House moderates. Ain’t nothing the MSM loves more than a Democrats in disarray story. They’re playing that angle hard. In this instance, there’s some truth to the CW-driven narrative.

Ever since Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 election, Democrats have focused too much on presidential races. The fixation continued even after Bill Clinton broke the GOP’s winning streak in 1992. Democrats had controlled the House since 1954, they were confident they could hold it forever. They were wrong.

The Democrats’ House and Senate majorities included Southerners who were eventually replaced by Republicans. I have to give the devil his due: this was down to Newt Gingrich. He’s an excreable human being, but he led his caucus out of the wilderness before his defenestration in 1999.

The senate was more flexible and changed hands in 1980, 1986, 1994, 2002, 2008, and 2014. I omitted 2001 as there was a tie in the Senate broken first by Vice President Cheney then by a party switch by Vermont’s Jim Jeffords who became a Democrat. The current Fifty-Fifty split is not unprecedented, but it is frustrating.

The Fifty-Fifty senates allow Sinema and Manchin to hold legislation hostage. They’re particularly annoying because they’re drama queens. I get where Manchin is coming from, his state flipped hard from blue to red in the 21st Century. Sinema is a different story. She’s a former leftist turned annoying centrist. She seems to want to be John McCain in a frock. Her focus is on Arizona independents, so she ignores Democrats. A recent post by Josh Marshall clarifies why she’s doing what she’s doing.

I’m not sure why Sinema thinks she can become an independent who caucuses with whichever party is willing to gratify her ego. The two current independent Senators, Bernie Sanders and Angus King, were elected with an I next to their name on the ballot. Besides, they’re New Englanders. Arizona is a different story: the GOP has moved from Goldwater-McCain hawkish libertarianism to all out Trumper nuttery. As far as they’re concerned, Sinema is a pinko. Hell, they thought the same thing of the guy she replaced, Jeff Flake.

What bothers me most about Manchin and Sinema is the price they want the Democratic caucus to pay is amorphous. During the negotiations over the ACA blue dog Democrats Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu had tangible things they wanted as opposed to fiscal responsibility, which is a highly overrated concept. In the immortal words of Charlie Pierce, “feck the deficit.”

I’m amused by a notion that pops up some frequency on social media: the idea that Democrats won a “trifecta” in the last general election. That takes the horse race analogy way too far. We have a razor thin majority in the House and a Fifty-Fifty split in the senate. I don’t like it either but those are the facts we’re stuck with.

The LBJ analogy is overused by those who dislike facing the facts. There were 68 Democratic senators after the Johnson landslide.  He could also count on some GOP support. One of the most liberal senators then was Republican Jake Javits. You know, the guy the convention center is named for. He was an anti-Tammany Hall protege of Tom Dewey who voted more like George McGovern than Bob Dole. It finally caught up with him in 1980.

Major legislation always stumbles on its way to the final vote, especially when the margins are this close. I’m uncertain whether the major components of the Biden agenda will pass or fail. Coming down on either side right now is playing it for drama. Joe Biden isn’t into to drama; neither are Schumer or Pelosi. They want to get shit done.

The Sinematic senator and the Man of La Manchin are into drama. I wish I could say that they do not want to see the Biden presidency tank, but I cannot. She’s a selfish drama queen who only cares about herself and Manchin is the personification of the inside the beltway center-right Conventional Wisdom. It’s as if he takes marching orders not from West Virginia Democrats but from Politico. I’ve revived the Stupid Blue Dog Tricks category in their “honor.” Oy, just oy.

You’re probably wondering why the cover of the Zappa/Mothers album Overnite Sensation is the featured image. Zappa fans know it’s because of the song Fifty-Fifty. It’s a great song featuring a wild lead vocal and fabulous solos by Zappa, George Duke, and Jean-Luc Ponty. That’s Ponty, not Picard.

Like the song, “I figure the odds be Fifty-Fifty. I just might have some thing to say.”

I’ll skip the bit about loose dandruff and chartreuse breath.

The last word goes to Frank Zappa and the Mothers:

The Picky Eater Cooks

People who have seen photos of things I cook on social media are always surprised to learn that I’m a picky eater. I’m not “picky” as in no additives or arbitrarily restricted items, but “picky” as in I don’t like a lot of foods. I cook for my household of 2, and my husband isn’t a fan of eating the same thing every night, lol, and so I’m a picky eater in an omnivorous household.

I learned to cook from my mom at home. My sisters and I would sit at the kitchen table and peel and chop vegetables, or measure oil or sugar for cake batters, or grease baking pans with the wrappers from sticks of butter. We learned how to cook in an organized, fun way and we are all good cooks now.

I started cooking new things when I went to grad school. I had a few classes, the class I TA’d for, and lots of reading and free time. I used that time and my meager budget to master the basics—because while we were sous chefs for my mom, she was very protective of her stove and didn’t want us making a mess on it. I had a great cookbook too:

I have no idea where I got it, but I’m pretty sure I still have it.

From there I went off into the working world for a bit and moved to Boston. I ended up at a job where we loved to socialize outside of work together (a great group of scientists at Tufts Medical School). I invited the group over for dinner in my tiny studio and began to meal plan since one of my friends was a vegetarian who also ate fish. So I made filet of sole and a big pot of ratatouille. The one difficulty was that I don’t like vegetables, so I had to cook the pot solely via my nose. Everyone was amazed that I made it without tasting it. They absolutely loved it and insisted I bring the leftovers to work the next day since I wasn’t going to finish them myself. The rest of the lab got to taste it, and my informal career as a cook of things I don’t like to eat was launched.

Then it was back to grad school in DC and once again I had classes, a TA workload, and a ton of reading, so I perfected my tomato sauce, became an ace cookie baker, and mastered Arista di Maiale, a Tuscan pork roast studded with garlic and herbs, which became the centerpiece of my annual New Year’s Eve dinner. One year I was crazy enough to make my own buche de noel (Yule log cake) from scratch. And I bought my first popover pan. By this time I had traded the Penny Pincher cookbook for The Joy of Cooking.

Eventually I traded in school for work, and my cooking became minimal again, except for pots of bone broth that I’d make from the bones of the chicken breasts and thighs I ate just about every night. And then I moved from DC to the eastern panhandle of West Virginia after I got married and my 3 hour each way commute took away all of my cooking time, even after I got a few telework days each week.

When my workplace downsized and scores of us lost our jobs, my husband and I decided I’d lose that terrible commute and I began cooking again. I had an annual New Year’s Day dinner where I worked on my reverse sear prime rib roasts and began making popovers again. I roasted lots of chickens (and made lots of bone broth—after all, “waste not, want not”).

I started going to our local, excellent farmer’s market and learned how to cook with the various kinds of produce I didn’t see in the local grocery store. I made strawberry-rhubarb compote (that I didn’t like to eat), learned you could roast radishes, made pickles, peeled kohlrabi for salads, and learned to cook the leafy greens of the American south that I wasn’t exposed to growing up in a Polish-American household in Connecticut.

Because I wasn’t exhausted from my commute, I had time to become active in my church. My parish loves to eat. And we love to cook, so I once again started making things I didn’t actually like, but I knew others would. One of the prettiest dishes was an egg and cheese tart with vegetable rosettes.

And I also reinvented the ratatouille had been making from my Boston days, taking it from a stove top dish to an arranged baked dish that is now one of my signature dishes (along with my squash pancakes, which I also don’t eat, lol).

When the pandemic hit it became harder to get complete grocery orders, so when I was able to get everything I needed for a new recipe, it felt like a victory. This salad was one of the new salads I made since we weren’t eating out at all. Finally getting a mango was to make this mango/tomatillo/tomato/jalapeno salad was like finding the Holy Grail.

Local heirloom tomatoes called for making this crustless tomato tart.

Cooking colorful, beautiful dishes has been a way for me to deal with my anxiety during the pandemic (how bread making helped is another post). I won’t stop cooking food I don’t actually like after it’s over, but least then I’ll be able to share it with friends. I look forward to that day. Joy be with you all.

[The cover photo is the hot sauce shelf in our fridge. I thought it was funny since I ID as a picky eater. It’s also the banner of the blog I started but never pushed on because I don’t like recipe sites that function as diaries and until a friend posted this site– https://www.justtherecipe.com/–I didn’t think it was a kind of blog that people would want to read.]

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Second Winter

Johnny Winter was the tallest albino bluesman of all-time. 1969’s Second Winter was his second solo album. It features photography by one of the greats, Richard Avedon.

Here’s an expanded version of the whole damn album via Spotify:

 

Election Night, Eh

I love watching election returns. I’ve been watching the CBC’s Canadian election returns on CSPAN since 1993. That was an excellent year for the Canadian Liberal party as it won in a landslide. Last night was more of a humdrum affair as very little changed once the votes were counted and the races called.

It’s time for an early musical interlude:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election hoping to win a majority. Apparently, his campaign wasn’t snappy enough as the Liberals only gained 3 seats and narrowly lost the popular vote again to the Conservative party. Not to worry: parties of the left and center-left received approximately 60% of the vote.

Canadians were cranky about having an election during the pandemic. It looked for a time that the Liberals’ support might crater but it didn’t. Good deal, eh.

Trudeau is the handsome son of Canada’s greatest Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The son has a lot to live up to, but has much better hair than his pere.

The CBC’s election night coverage is excellent, eh. They have fancy graphics and say “aboot” a lot. That’s how Canadians pronounce “about” not a footwear reference. Those aboots are not made for walking…

Canada is quietly quirky in its nomenclature. They call their parliamentary districts ridings. That always evokes images of this guy:

Justin Trudeau is no Dudley Do-Right but at least he’s no Snidely Whiplash. Snidely is currently living in Mar-a-Dorn under an assumed name: the Kaiser of Chaos.

Canadian politics seems nicer than American politics but that’s only on the surface. There are regional differences as well as linguistic ones. My favorite moment of every Canadian election is when the leaders speak in both English and French except for the Bloc Quebecois guy; to do otherwise would make him a francophony…

There’s a Trumpy right wing populist party, the People’s Party of Canada or PPC. Their leader is a French guy named Maxime Bernier. I’m not sure if he wants to be LePen or Laval but last night he was a big loser. He lost his seat and the PPC was shut-out. I guess Canadians prefer that their leaders mask-up, eh.

I know a lot more about British than Canadian politics. But I love to watch election results and the CBC is as adept at it as the BBC, eh. They do the MacKenzie Brothers proud, eh. I really should stop saying eh but it’s a fun word to type, eh.

That concludes the first post written on my brand new computer. The last word goes to The Guess Who with a song that sounds socialistic to me, eh.

 

What I Meant To Say Was…

A Tour Guide On A Bus

Not me, but an amazing simulation of me.

In real life outside the world of internet punditry, my profession is that of a tour guide. I take people from all over the world on tours of any and all of the sights around Northern California, from as far south as Monterey up to the Napa-Sonoma wine country. The wife (Cruella) also is a tour guide. She’s the one who got me into the profession for which I am forever grateful. I love doing it.

After all how many professions can say the job is to pick up strangers at elegant hotels and show them a good time? OK, yeah, there is that other one as well. My job doesn’t pay nearly as well as the other one but I do get to keep my clothes on for which my guests are forever grateful.

I recently took a group of Texans for a tour to some of the Napa wineries. Along the way we passed by the notoriously expensive ($350 per person without wine for a pre-fixe tasting menu) restaurant The French Laundry. That particular restaurant has been on the minds (and thus on the tongues) of conservative media lately as Gavin Newsom had a misstep early in the pandemic of being photographed having dinner there right after he enacted strict COVID restrictions on all restaurants. Mind you, The French Laundry was adhering to all those restrictions when the picture was taken. Also the picture had been cropped to make it appear he was dining indoors when in fact that room is open on two sides. Nevertheless, bad optics and it was a rallying cry used in the catastrophically lopsided recall election that kept Newsom in office and may have destroyed the Repugnicant Party here in the Golden State.

Now I bring this up because as we drove past, the gentleman seated in the front seat of the bus snickered “Bet Nancy Pelosi eats there”. We’ll forget for a moment his mixing up of liberal California Democrats. My response was a simple “to be honest, I wouldn’t know” and a quick moving on to other subjects. I reserve my liberal snarck for my dear readers.

But here’s what I meant to say:

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September Swoon

When I was a kid, the sporting green (SF Chronicle sports page) was full of talk of the San Francisco Giants annual June swoon.  It happened like clockwork for 4 or 5 years in a row.

Looking back, I wonder if it was caused by playing home games at chilly Candlestick Park then road games in stadia where it was summer. Beats the hell outta me. In the immortal words of an old song:

But it’s a long, long while
From May to December
And the days grow short
When you reach September

I’m having my own swoon this year but in September, not June. Hence the quote from Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s September Song. Cue Ella’s version:

September 2021 has been a brutal month. I’ve spent the last week fighting with FedEx over my new computer, which has been sweltering in place for a week. FedEx plays fast and loose with the facts; it took me days to learn that “in transit” means in a trailer. Never say I didn’t teach you anything.

I’ve been a squeaky wheel, pressuring HP to pressure FedEx, which they finally did yesterday. Then a minor miracle happened: it’s supposed to be delivered sometime today. Hopefully, the PC wasn’t damaged by sweltering in a trailer across the lake.

Mine is not the only FedEx horror story here in Debrisville. A friend waited 18 days for a delivery. When I heard that alarm bells went off and I my inner lawyer emerged ready to do battle.

The whole inner lawyer thing is exhausting. I’d rather live peacefully but you gotta do what you gotta do when you gotta do it. I tried, however, not to get in the gotta with FedEx although I’m FedUp with their FuckUps. I just want this to end. I plan to avoid them whenever possible in the future. FedEx can go fuck itself.

People seem to think my head injury is the worst thing that happened to me this month. It was not. It only hurt for a few days. The blood gusher, the stapling, and the unstapling were eventful but not painful because of my high threshold of pain.

I’ve spent too much of September angry: at Entergy, at Mayor Teedy, at the fates over the death of a friend, and at FedEx. Anger is debilitating and has wrecked my sleep pattern. I’m hoping to get back to normal at some point in the near future.

The good news is that however rough it’s been I have it easy compared to others in Hurricane Ida’s path. The Gret Stet of Louisiana is full of destroyed houses, downed trees, damaged roofs, and leaky ceilings. I don’t have much to complain about in comparison to those folks but venting feels good. So vent I must and vent I do. Uh oh, that made me sound like Yogurt in Spaceballs

I’m hoping to put my inner lawyer back in stasis now that things are a bit less bad except for that whole pesky pandemic thing. I wrote this personal essay in hopes of ending my September swoon. It’s cheaper than therapy, after all.

The last word goes to Lou Reed:

 UPDATE: The PC arrived. It looks okay. Will set it up tomorrow per the suggestion of several people who know more about such things than I.

This week on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati “Electional Dysfunction” edition

Ok – get suited up, everyone. Oh……you already were. The new normal I guess.

Anyway – you just know the Freeperati were going to take Oreo Trump’s defeat in the California recall stoically.  Right?

Ca Recall Live Thread
9/14/2021 | Me

Posted on 9/14/2021, 8:27:49 AM by Openurmind

I am not in Ca but have important interest in this Ca vote. Ca is the test bed for unconstitutional laws that are eventually implemented nation wide. If Newsom is recalled it will be a huge blow to the Democrat party agenda over all(sic).

Does anyone have a reliable source to monitor and keep tract(sic) of the numbers today? The only one I could find was the SF Chronicle. And I don’t trust the numbers they will be throwing out. Any help with this would be great!

1 posted on 9/14/2021, 8:27:49 AM by Openurmind
This is going to be big fun!
.
Wait for it…
To: Openurmind

Let the cheating begin!

6 posted on 9/14/2021, 8:33:40 AM by JerseyDvl (During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.)

 

At 8:30 in the morning, you’re saying this?

.
To: Dan in Wichita

FATHER GOD,

We cry out for justice and fair elections. May Californians vote Newsom out of office Intervene on our behalf. Save California and our nation from tyranny.

In JESUS Name we pray.

13 posted on 9/14/2021, 8:40:42 AM by stars & stripes forever (Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 33:12))

To: Celerity
I’m calling it right now.

He ain’t getting recalled.

Yep agreed. On the Warroom they are already talking about challeging(sic) the election. Sorry Larry. You are going to have a helluva time gaining any sympathy after you pissed on Trump voters

I thought The Darnold liked that sort of thing.  His voters don’t?

by saying Biden was elected fair and square.

Screw your mulligan BTW Wanting to walk it back. Your stupid never-trumper stance killed your chances.

41 posted on 9/14/2021, 9:40:48 AM by The MAGA-Deplorian (Democrats are lawless because Republicans are ball-less!)

To: Persevero

Get out the vote! Nice job.

Leave the surrendering to the usual surrender monkeys. Man, they’re boring.

57 posted on 9/14/2021, 10:27:20 AM by romanesq (TRUSTY THE PLAN! ChiCom Joe is the Plan? Que magnificent! 👹)

Surrender monkeys?
To: Openurmind
Thank you for posting this thread.I’m in California and am as nervous as hell. If Newsom prevails I have to leave the state because I am guardian to 3 grands and over my dead body are they getting vaccinated.

Let’s hope that’s how it plays out.

(BTW, there’s another website giving the “Herman Cain Awards” Reddit some competition – it’s called “SorryAntiVaxxer.com” )

I am not worried about this with Larry Elder and in fact, it is my main issue among many, many others.

For what it’s worth, Larry has said they are prepared to jump with litigation if there is funny business. I hope he means it because that is an absolute certainty. The Rats have been stealing elections in this state for at least 20 years.

80 posted on 9/14/2021, 12:34:34 PM by truthkeeper (All Trump Has Going for Him is the Votes)

Get your popcorn out, and follow me to the “read more” link for reactions to the loss, and Freeper incoherent anger at Elder’s failure to “jump with litigation”.

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