Author Archives: Peter Adrastos Athas

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Won’t See Me

Masks by James Ensor.

It’s been cool all week in New Orleans. It’s unclear if Fall has fallen or it’s a cruel hoax. My money is on the latter. The heat doesn’t usually break here until sometime in October. The good news is that we’re not under threat of a tropical system. It feels odd not to be checking the spaghetti tracks every few hours but that’s another autumnal augury. End of obligatory weather-related opening passage.

This week’s theme song comes from one of my favorite Beatles albums, Rubber Soul. It was one of the first albums I ever owned. When my father saw the cover he said, “Those are the ugliest women I ever saw.”

To this day I’m uncertain whether or not Lou was joking. The only one who would have made an ugly woman was the drummer. Sorry, Ringo.

You Won’t See Me is a Macca song, but it’s credited to Lennon & McCartney as were all the pair’s songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have three versions of You Won’t See Me for your listening pleasure: The Beatles original, and covers by Bryan Ferry and Canadian songbird, Anne Murray.

I never expected to post an Anne Murray song at First Draft, but I might as well go big and post her monster hit from 1970:

Let’s spread our tiny wings and fly away to the break.

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I’ve Been Loving You Too Long

It’s time for another soul torch song. It was written in 1965 by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler of the Impressions. Butler would eventually become a politician in his native Chicago. That’s what was cooking in Cook County.

We begin with the Otis Redding original. Nobody sang with more passion than Otis.

Otis liked the Rolling Stones’ cover of I’ve Been Loving You Too Long so much that he covered Satisfaction:

Speaking of impassioned singers, ladies and gentleman, Tina Tuner:

A more recent version of I’ve Been Loving You Too Long was cut by Car Power in 2008.

We have to stop now. Pour yourself a drink and toast the end of another difficult week.. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want you to do. Never argue with them, y’all.

Tweet Of The Day: Josh Marshall Edition

Although we have to prepare for the worst, Josh Marshall is skeptical of Trump’s staying power when it comes to defying the election results:

I concur. I think it’s Trump’s latest con game. He’s making excuses for losing. We’ll be hearing the same pitiful refrain until he either dies or goes to the slammer. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I have a busy day today so I’m going to keep this brief. I’ll be back at 4pm sharp for the Friday Cocktail Hour.

The last word is dedicated to the Impeached Insult Comedian. Consider it foreshadowing for when we next meet:

Friday Catblogging: The Two Claires

Here’s a side-by-side image of our Claire Trevor and her namesake playing one of her evilest roles, Helen Brent in Born To Kill:

That’s Why I Call Him President* Pennwyise

Image by Michael F.

I first called Donald Trump President* Pennywise on 8/16/2019:

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I don’t see Trump as a figure of fun even though he’s funny. What he’s doing to the country is not funny but he cuts a ridiculous figure as he wreaks havoc. At the risk of sounding like a Reader’s Digest feature, laughter is the best medicine against Trumpism. Their dear leader has no sense of humor unless the joke is on his enemies. That’s why one should laugh at him, not cower, especially when the laughter is provoked by his latest outrageous statement.

I stand by everything I wrote last year. Satire is even more important as President* Pennywise unravels. He’s terrified that he’s going to lose the election. His recent OTT comments about voting being a “scam and a hoax” are a sign of weakness, not strength A reminder that he said some of the same things in 2016. He expected to lose then too. He was half right. He lost the popular vote.

It’s impossible for Trump to publicly admit error or even the possibility that he might lose. Losing is for “suckers and losers” and Trump is a winner in his own feeble mind. As far as he’s concerned, the only way he can lose is to be defrauded and screwed. It’s like the “perfect phone call” to the Ukrainian president that led me to add Impeached to the original nickname, the Insult Comedian.

Before President* Pennywise’s latest series of extreme statements about not honoring the election results, an article by Barton Gellman in the Atlantic had rattled everyone’s cages. Gellman discussed ideas floating around Trumpistan about possible electoral challenges that they might purse in the event of a close loss to Joe Biden.

Despite Gellman’s careful language, people decided that this was a “plan” as opposed to being a scheme at the discussion stage. If I believed in having imaginary teevee friends Rachel Maddow would be one. Last night, she had an on-air meltdown over Trump’s latest fear mongering putting aside her own maxim: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say.

The news is rotten, scary, and terrible so I get it. But instead of giving into fear, we need to fight back and not lose our nerve for the task at hand. If the electorate administers a thorough ass-kicking to Trump, schemes to set aside the electoral college will be abandoned. The fate of the country is in our hands, not some Republican lawyers in Pennsylvania. Team Biden seems prepared to deal with the legal challenges so we should focus on voting. If turn-out is high, we win, and they lose.

I think Democrats may have to tweak our voting plans. The Banana Republicans are counting on being ahead on election night so they can declare victory and attack uncounted ballots even though they usually include overseas military voters. It’s imperative that as many people as possible vote in a way that their vote will be counted on election day. That means voting early in person or by mail or voting in person on election day. We may just have to mask up and stand in line to vote the fuckers out. Mister Google can help you check the laws in your state to make sure your vote will count on 11/3/2020.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s why President* Pennywise spends so much time stoking it. Given everything the country has been through in 2020, it’s understandable why people are afraid. Trump wants his enemies to be afraid, so they’ll be too depressed to vote. I think Bob Woodward is on to something with his Trump book titles. We need to move from Fear to Rage and take it out on Trumpism.

It’s time for them to go. Make it so, America, make it so.

We should all be more like Tom Petty and Mudcrutch who get the last word. They don’t scare easy. Neither should we:

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The D.A. Breaks An Egg

Erle Stanley Gardner was a prolific author. The Perry Mason books weren’t his only series. There were also nine books featuring D.A. Doug Selby. The D.A. Breaks An Egg was the final book in that series.

Quote Of The Day: Your President* Lies Edition

The Big Lie is alive and well. Here’s the Kaiser of Chaos at a super-spreader rally in Ohio:

“It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems, if they have other problems, that’s what it really affects, in some states thousands of people — nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows?” Mr. Trump said.

“It affects virtually nobody,” he added. “It’s an amazing thing — by the way, open your schools!”

A reminder that, as of this writing, 201,000 and counting Americans have died of COVID-19.

Remember when we debated whether Bob Woodward holding back the Trump tapes cost people lives? Trump is still trying to lie his way through the pandemic. An earlier release would have changed nothing.

President* Pennywise is also claiming that we’ve “rounded the corner” on COVID. That reminds me of the “light at the end of the tunnel” imagery during the Vietnam War, mocked by Herblock in this 1970 cartoon:

I used the Underworld USA campaign notes meme because the Impeached Insult Comedian is celebrating violence against reporters:

… at a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, President Donald Trump told his audience a story about the MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi. “I remember this guy Velshi,” the president said (he pronounced it “Welshy”):

“He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down. He didn’t—heeee was down. ‘My knee! My knee!’ [Crowd laughs] Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. [Crowd laughs.] And they just walked right through—it was like, it was the most beautiful thing. No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, they would take this crap. And then you finally see men get up there and [punches fist forward] go right through, did—wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? [Crowd cheers.]

It’s called law and order. Law and order!”

Ali Velshi is the hardest working man in cable news biz. The least Trump could do is to get his name right. We don’t expect him to get the facts straight. Ali was hit with a rubber bullet, which reminds me of an old rock song:

This celebration of violence is strictly performative. Trump is a coward. If he loves violence so much, why did avoid serving in Vietnam? We all know the reason for that: he didn’t want to be a “loser or a sucker.”  Those horrific remarks ultimately led to this:

Trump’s reply was typically petty:

Beautiful is one of Trump’s favorite words. He usually misuses it. This exchange between Republicans is truly beautiful.

For the last word, it’s time to kick off our periodic election countdown:

Malaka Of The Week: Van Morrison

It’s been a long time since I wrote a malaka of the week post. The last of approximately 250 was on May 29, 2019. It’s not that there’s less malakatude in the world. If anything, there’s a surfeit of malakatude. Many posts started off as MOTW but then a clever title occurred to me. I’ve decided to resist the temptation to name this post after the album above and stick to my guns. And that is why Van Morrison is malaka of the week.

I’ve been listening to Van Morrison for most of my life. He’s a brilliant singer-songwriter but I’ve always known that he was an asshole, creep, and malaka. I made the mistake of being a “stage door Johnny” after a Morrison show when I was a young whippersnapper because my date wanted to meet him. He was awful. He refused to sign autographs or engage in any way with anyone. His drunken mantra was, “I don’t sign fucking autographs so piss off.” That’s an exact quote. It was seared into my brain as it was directed at my date. She blew smoke in his face in response.

Despite that and seeing erratic concert performances, I still like his music. How can I give up Tupelo Honey just because its creator is a sourpuss?

Somewhere in my archives, I have a Van the Man bootleg called I Don’t Play Those Fucking Songs Any More. It consists of Van cussing out his fans from the stage. Asked to play Brown Eyed Girl Van’s response was, “What is this? Your fucking wedding? Piss off, wanker.”

I need to search for it. It’s somewhere in my home office, which is beyond cluttered. I am not a clean desk guy. Anyone surprised?

That long meandering introduction leads us to the latest example of Morrisonian malakatude:

Van Morrison accuses the U.K. government of “taking our freedom” in three new songs bashing the worldwide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In “No More Lockdown,” the most on-the-nose of the three tracks, Morrison plainly lays out his thoughts: “No more lockdown/No more government overreach/No more fascist bullies/Disturbing our peace/No more taking of our freedom/And our God-given rights/Pretending it’s for our safety/When it’s really to enslave.”

In another song, according to the BBC, Morrison references a widely shared Facebook post of a screenshot from the U.K. government’s website, stating that “Covid-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the U.K.” While it is true that Covid-19 currently does not meet the criteria for an HCID in the U.K., it is still highly infectious the world over, with a possibility of a second national lockdown in the U.K. on the horizon, according to the BBC.

The reason that the British government is downplaying the pandemic is because of Trumpy Prime Minister and past malaka of the week, Boris Johnson. Now that the Labour Party has a credible leader, Boris is under immense pressure to take it more seriously. He has a hard time with serious.

The best response to Van the Man’s egregious malakatude comes from Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Robin Swann, who paraphrases one of Morrison’s album titles:

He accuses Morrison of “a smear on all those involved in the public health response to a virus that has taken lives on a massive scale. His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists – the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

“He’s chosen to attack attempts to protect the old and vulnerable in our society. It’s all bizarre and irresponsible. I only hope no one takes him seriously. He’s no guru, no teacher,” the last line a reference to Morrison’s 1986 album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.

Van Morrison turned 75 not long before he began attacking “Fascist bullies” who want him to wear a mask. This is, of course, hypocrisy worthy of Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell. And that is why Van Morrison is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to (who else?) Van Morrison with an ironically titled song from the No Guru, No Method, No Teacher album:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Back Together Again

The album title is somewhat ironic. Guitarist Larry Coryell and Drummer Alphonse Mouzon played together in The Eleventh House, which broke up a mere two years earlier. This 1977 album is Jazz fusion at its brashest and loudest.

The cover was designed by Bob Defrin who was then the design honcho at Atlantic Records. He went on to work with AC/DC for many years designing their album covers and stage sets. Talk about brash and loud.

I almost eggspected Vincent Price as Egghead to show up.

Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify.

After Justice Ginsburg

Krewe of Mishigas Float, 2019. Photo by Dr. A.

The news came on a Friday night. Because of the pandemic, most of us were home. It lit up new media and old, social media and anti-social media. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died at the age of 87.

This frail-looking and petite woman was so mentally and morally tough that some thought she was immortal. I’ve spent a lot of time around people over 80 in the last decade, so I was not surprised. It was a nearly unparalleled act of will for her survive the sort of major illnesses that would have finished off lesser beings. As depicted by the Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe of Mishigas in 2019, Justice Ginsburg was a fighter,

There have been many marvelous tributes to Justice Ginsburg. Here’s a brief list:

Pierce made an apt comparison between Ginsburg and Thurgood Marshall. As a litigator, Ginsburg followed the trail blazed by Marshall and fought to establish important rights for women. Thurgood Marshall, however, was a reluctant judge. He preferred being on the other side of the courtroom. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was just as distinguished a jurist as an advocate. Those two skills rarely coincide. She was a remarkable person who led an exemplary life both personally and professionally. Above all else, she was a fighter.

While I wish that Justice Ginsburg had retired while Barack Obama was still president, her reasons were based on her experience as a Justice. Each generation of Justices learns a different lesson: Bill Brennan and Thurgood Marshall retired when they did because of the negative example set by Hugo Black and Bill Douglas who stayed on the Court too long. Ruth Bader Ginsburg saw her friend and colleague Sandra Day O’Connor regret her retirement to care for a husband who died while she was still on the court. That was a major turning point as her replacement was Samuel Alito who is an unbending member of the conservative bloc whereas O’Connor was the ultimate swing vote.

We’re on the cusp of another turning point with Justice Ginsburg’s death 46 days before the election. Those of us who admire Justice Ginsburg should follow her example, get off the floor, and fight back. I heard despair and defeatism this weekend. That’s a shitty way to honor a tough old bird like RBG, Dahlia Lithwick said it best:

America has lost a warrior, and it’s OK to be crushed. I am flattened. And I will mourn, because she deserves to be mourned. But we are also facing an almighty battle that will rage in the coming weeks, with attempts to fill her seat in an unseemly and grotesque manner. It will be hard and painful, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless and powerless, then you are emphatically doing it wrong. Because if anyone had a right to say “nah,” it was the woman who couldn’t get a job or a clerkship after graduating at the top of her class. But she pushed on, and then she pushed forward. She stepped into the fight of the phenomenal women who paved the path before, and now, well, it’s time to step into her fight and get it finished. I think the Notorious RBG would have peered owlishly out at all of us tonight and asked what the heck we are waiting for. And I think we can probably honor her best by getting to it.

The confirmation battle is joined. The most cynical man in politics has already discarded the rule bearing his name. The Turtle plans to move a Trump nominee through the Senate. I suspect he’ll do the most cynical thing imaginable and hold the vote in the lame duck session. To do otherwise, would doom the only thing that McConnell cares about as much as SCOTUS, his Senate majority.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has already flip-flopped on his pledge not to push a nomination through in an election year. Nobody should be surprised. In 2016, Graham called Trump “a kook and a con man” among other ephemeral epithets. Now they’re golfing buddies.

The Democratic minority should announce a concrete and specific Court reform plan. (Don’t call it court packing, that evokes FDR’s failure in 1937-38.)  It should expand the number of Justices to eleven. They should also pledge to abolish the filibuster if a Trump nominee is rammed through. It’s time for it to go.

I saw some despairing tweets that a SCOTUS battle would decide the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Color me skeptical. Conservatives who care about SCOTUS and abortion sold their souls to President* Pennywise long ago. In 2020, it’s more likely to galvanize Democrats. A reminder that the Kavanaugh Mess did NOT turn the 2018 mid-terms in the GOP’s favor. The number that counts is this: 204,122 and counting dead of the novel coronavirus.

Back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an inspiring figure who will be missed, especially by the young women she inspired to fight the good fight. Women will decide the 2020 election. My hope is that they will be inspired to keep fighting until Democrats recapture the White House and Senate. Vote like the fate of the Republic depends on it. It does.

The last word goes to RBG’s close friend Nina Totenberg with a tweet for the ages:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Wasted On The Way

Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso.

New Orleans dodged a wet and windy bullet earlier this week. Hurricane Sally dumped two feet of rain in some areas on the Florida-Alabama border. I don’t guilty for being relieved. If I were Poseidon, I’d send all tropical systems out to sea. I do, however, feel bad for folks in the affected areas. They got slammed by that evil bitch Sally. Blow ill wind, blow.

I had put this feature to bed and tucked it in when I learned of Justice Ginsburg’s death. I wish everyone would dial their predictions back. It’s unclear what impact RBG’s death will have on the election. I also wish that those who admire Justice Ginsburg would show more respect for her passing, especially since it’s Rosh Hashanah. There was, however, a moment of unintentional levity when the crowd outside the Supreme Court started singing Amazing Grace. It’s a Christian hymn, y’all. I’ll have more on Ginsburg’s passing on Monday.

In some ways, this week’s theme song matches the featured image. Three Musicians = Crosby, Stills & Nash. Graham Nash wrote Wasted On The Way for CSN’s  1982 Daylight Again album. Eagle Timothy B. Schmitt added harmony vocals making that Four Musicians. So much for the Picasso analogy. Oh well, it was imperfect to begin with.

We have two versions of Wasted On The Way for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live version without Timothy B. Schmitt. Go, Team Picasso.

Stills’ intro to the live version is poignant. I rarely do poignant but sometimes the mood strikes me.

Before we jump to the break, a Neil Young song from the Buffalo Springfield days:

Holy Wall Of Sound-style production, Batman.

Time to take the plunge. See you on the other side.

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Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good)

This week’s edition is dedicated to those in Alabama and Florida who took it in the chin from Hurricane Sally.

Ill Wind was written in 1934 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler for The Cotton Club Parade. It’s a sad song with lyrics and a melody that fit our troubled times. It *was* written during the First Great Depression, after all.

We begin with a 1955 version from the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour:

Next up, a late career version from Lady Day featuring some stellar guitar picking by the great Barney Kessell:

Sax great Ben Webster blew on Billie’s Ill Wind, then recorded it the next year:

Lonette McKee performed Ill Wind in the troubled 1984 film, The Cotton Club:

Finally, an appropriately bluesy instrumental interpretation by jazz guitarists Larry Coryell and Emily Remler:

That’s it for this week. Pour yourself a drink and toast those who survived Hurricanes Sally and Laura. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want you to do. Never argue with them, y’all.

Abolish The Electoral College

I realize that I’ve said it before and that I’m preaching to the choir but one of things the Biden-Harris administration should do is abolish the electoral college. It’s done nothing but cause mischief in both the 19th Century and early 20th Century.

The electoral college is not only anti-democratic, it focuses candidates on specific often unrepresentative states. Just think of all the times candidates have been obliged to support ethanol subsidies to win votes in Iowa. It even happened to fictional candidates such as Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) in The West Wing episode King Corn.

The loser of the popular vote has won the electoral vote five times in our history. It didn’t happen for 112 years after Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote by 90,956 to Grover Cleveland. We all know what happened in 2000 when one of the best qualified candidates in American history, Al Gore, lost the electoral college to a dipshit named George W. Bush. History repeated itself in 2016 when Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2,868,518 against a criminal dipshit named Donald J. Trump.

The Bush-Cheney administration played favorites at times, but the Trump regime has gone to extremes in favoring “their people” and “their voters.” As we’ve seen time and time again, President* Pennywise only cares about his people, his voters. Any time there’s an issue in a blue state, he has no interest in addressing it. If the electoral college were abolished even Trump would have to think about Republican voters in blue states.

Here are the Top Six Trump Popular Vote States:

  1.  TEXAS                    4,685,047
  2. FLORIDA                 4,617,886
  3. CALIFORNIA           4,483,814
  4. PENNSLYVANIA      2,907,441
  5. OHIO                       2,841,006
  6. NEW YORK              2,819,557

If the electoral college did not exist, Trump would have been obliged to deal fairly with the states he won his 3rd and 6th most votes in instead of focusing on the 31.49% and 36.51% of the vote he received in California and New York respectively.

Democrats have suffered as a result of the current system BUT this is about democracy, not partisan advantage. The Republicans won’t see it that way, but this is about truth, justice, and the American way. I’m not sure what the exact mechanism would be but there’s a long article by Lee Drutman in the Washington Monthly that looks at the issue in historical context.

It’s time for the electoral college to go. It was nearly abolished in 1970 but fell prey to a filibuster by Southern Senators. It’s also time for the filibuster to go. It’s done in more progressive legislation than Mitch The Grim Reaper McConnell.

It’s time for a change. The last word goes to Sam Cooke:

 

Quote Of The Day: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

I’m alarmed by the number of people who are taking the wilder statements by Team Trump literally. I thought we’d gotten over it, but there’s been a widespread relapse of late. Perhaps it’s caused by the stresses of the campaign or the pandemic. Nonetheless it’s alarming. The default should always be that they’re lying. They’re the lyingest liars who ever lied, after all.

The quote comes from page 263 of Bob Woodward’s book Rage:

Kushner said one of Trump’s greatest strengths was, “He somehow manages to have his enemies self-destruct and make stupid mistakes. He’s just able to play the media like a fiddle, and the Democrats too. They run like dogs after a fire truck, chasing whatever he throws out there.”

Don’t fall for it. Don’t let Slumlord Jared and the Kaiser of Chaos play you. Set your bullshit detector to maximum the next time something crazy comes out of their mouths. There are plenty of actions to be alarmed about; don’t take the bait.

The last word goes to Rachel Maddow:

 

Friday Catblogging: Claire’s Toys

Claire Trevor likes to leave her catnip toys in the doorway. Beats the hell outta finding a lizard, bird, or mouse there.

Herd Mentality

The Impeached Insult Comedian gave another incoherent teevee performance this week. This time, it was not in the friendly confines of Fox News but on ABC. The host was my diminutive countryman George Stephanopolous who was able to get Trump to repeat his COVID disappearing act. If you pretend it’s not there, it’s gone.

The post title is the latest Trump malaprop. He said, “herd mentality” when he meant to say, “herd immunity.” That seems to have become U.S. policy by stealth as the Shrugging Doctor, Scott Atlas, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force have told states with high infection rates to cancel mask requirements. Midsommar In America has arrived. Freedom, man.

Pondering the presidential* malaprop made me realize that herd mentality describes the entire Trump phenomenon. Hardcore Trumpers are an unruly group when it comes to “owning the libs”but submissive to the whims and wishes of the Kaiser Of Chaos the man whose only plan is to foment enough confusion so that he can stay in office to avoid federal criminal charges. Freedom, man.

Team Trump seems to have given up on conventional campaigning in favor of tweeting out nonsense and holding super-spreader rallies for the foolish faithful. I’m on the record that the Trump cult is smaller than believed. There are, however, lemmings among them:

Freedom, man.

Younger Trumpers think that prancing maskless through a Target is a cool thing to do:

Florida Man meets Freedom, man.

Team Trump is blowing a lot of smoke right now but there’s one positive development.  Crazy Caputo at HHS has taken a 60-day leave of absence. This is the bozo who talked about armed scientists taking to the streets if Trump is re-elected. Despite working with the CDC, Caputo obviously hasn’t met many scientists. They’re not exactly a group of gunslingers. Caputo turned out to be too crazy even for Team Trump. That’s what happens when you let a Roger Stone protege enter the corridors of power. Mercifully, Caputo is Kaput.

Things are so nutty right now that I have a sudden urge to rake the forests, commit election fraud, or do something equally Trumpy. That’s what happens when you’re caught up in the herd mentality. That would also be a swell name for a band: HERD MENTALITY.

The last word goes to the Beatles with some advice we should all heed:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Old Battle Ax

In my extended family battle ax is an affectionate term. My favorite aunt prided herself on being a battle ax and a tough broad. This post is a tribute to all the battle axes out there. Long may you run.

I just gave myself an earworm. This is a song about a car but it works: my Aunt Mary had a radar detector in her car when she was 80.

 

 

Free Chicken

I was an Alexander Vindman fan boy during his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. He’s the poster for bad shit happening to good people in the Trump era. Telling the truth cost him his military career, but not his integrity. That’s something the Trumpers will never understand because they haven’t got any.

It’s been a big year thus far for Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg. First, the “losers and suckers” story. On Monday, he published the first post retirement interview with Lt. Colonel Vindman. Vindman let it rip calling the Impeached Insult Comedian, “Putin’s useful idiot” among other things.

One reason I liked Vindman as a witness so much was his utter lack of guile and cynicism. That made smears against him ineffective except among the Trump cult. Fellow witness Fiona Hill summed it up brilliantly to Goldberg:

It is noteworthy that two other key witnesses in the impeachment—Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Fiona Hill, formerly the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the NSC (and Vindman’s boss)—were immigrants. Yovanovitch was born in Canada and grew up speaking Russian at home; Hill came from England. “The truth is that Masha and Alex were very good in their roles, but they were in shock much of the time as this all unfolded,” Hill told me. “Mugged right outside your own door. You can’t quite believe it, because this is not the America that they idealized. I idealized it too, when I got here. There’s no Rudy Giuliani playing this kind of role in your American dream.” William Taylor, who served as acting ambassador to Ukraine after the Trump administration removed Yovanovitch, said of Vindman, “One thing Alex Vindman is not is cynical. I’m absolutely convinced he’s a patriot, to the point where he’s a bit Boy Scoutish.”

Vindman is an intellectual and a straight arrow. That’s why he was such a breath of fresh air even for a hardened skeptic like me. Trump and his minions are incapable of understanding the Alex Vindmans of the world. They cannot be bought, which is a rarity in Trump’s Washington.

My favorite Vindman quote from the Goldberg article is in the second paragraph below:

But do you think Russia is blackmailing Trump? “They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he says. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”

Vindman continues, “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for—it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.”

I wonder what kind of chicken: Kiev? Pot pie? Tandoori? Kung Pao? Popeye’s? KFC? Super Chicken? Foghorn Leghorn?

Or is there a musical component? There’s always a musical component with me. That’s why the last word goes to Little Feat:

Bayou Brief: Stuck On Stupid

My Bayou Brief column is usually published every other Wednesday. That changed this week because of Hurricane Sally. I was concerned that many of our readers would lose power and internet connection. Instead, Sally decided to visit Alabama and Florida. My condolences to everyone in the impacted areas.

Here’s the tag line for this week’s column, Stuck On Stupid: “13th Ward Ramblings on the Louisiana Democratic Party, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and wayward wingnut pundit Dan Fagan.”

The part about Gret Stet Dems has received the most attention but my favorite bit is about former Picvocate pundit Dan Fagan. That’s Fagan with an A, not an Fagin with an I like this guy:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Stop The World- I Want To Get Off

Stop The World- I Want To Get Off is a title for our times. The stage show premiered on London’s West End in 1961. It told the story of a young man’s rise from lowly tea boy to rich dude. The setting was a circus; every time something bad happened to the lead character, he said “Stop the world.” Disappointed that it’s not about the apocalypse? Audiences in the Sixties were not.

On to the covers, we have the original Broadway cast album and the 1966 movie soundtrack album:

There was a 1978 revival of the show on Broadway.  Here’s the revival soundtrack starring Sammy Davis Jr: